What shook Rose Tyler’s world was not the Doctor sauntering back into her life, extending a hand to whisk her away back into a life of adventure. It was not her, fixing the Dimension Cannon and launching herself across the universe. That was what she had expected. She’d expected a romantic reunion, with kissing and hugging and perhaps a bit of crying. She’d always been a bit of a fan of the dramatic, more than she was willing to admit, really.
The point was that it wasn’t any of those things that she dreamt of at night and thought about at work. It was the TARDIS, literally crashing into the Tyler Mansion backyard.
“What the hell?” Jackie Tyler burst into Rose’s bedroom in the mansion and stared at her daughter, hands on her hips. “Did you have something to do with this?”
“What?” Rose blinked. She looked up from what she had been working on and furrowed her brows at her mother. “I heard a crash, but that’s all, I thought the gardeners just had a little incident outside or something.”
“No, it’s the bleedin’ TARDIS!” Jackie said. “Crash landed in my garden, thank you very much!”
Rose was out of her room like a shot, brushing past her mum and tearing down to the back garden. She nearly knocked her two year old brother down the stairs, but threw a “Sorry Tony!” Over her shoulder as Jackie snatched him up and scowled at her daughter.
She burst into the back garden, panting. The TARDIS was sitting there, humming quietly, dirt pressed up where the ship had crashed. She had certainly crashed, and the smoke coming up from the back of the little blue box made that perfectly obvious. She fumbled for her key around her neck and jammed it into the lock,. The hum of the ship in her mind got a little happier, a little lighter, and Rose smiled as she threw the doors open.
“Oi!” A redheaded woman sat over the Doctor’s limp body. He was laying on the grating. Rose clenched her fitsts.
“What did you do?” Rose asked lowly. “You’d better not have hurt him.”
“Of course I didn’t,” the woman said, rolling her eyes. “Who are you?”
“Agent Rose Tyler,” Rose said, wishing she had her Torchwood badge to show this woman who was sat with her Doctor.
The woman blanched. “Rose Tyler?”
“Yeah, why? By the way, you’re absolutely not in the right universe.”
The woman wrinkled her nose. “The Doctor said that the TARDIS was going to put us exactly where we needed to be.”
“What’s wrong with him?” Rose demanded.
“He just rewrote his flippin’ biology,” the redhead said, waving her hand at the Doctor.
Rose suddenly felt anger flare in her. “Who even are you? What are you doing here? Why did the Doctor rewrite his biology?”
“You don’t need to get so smart with me, sunshine,” The woman pointed a finger at Rose. “I’m Donna Noble, I’m traveling with this useless lump at the moment, and the reason that he had to rewrite his biology has to do with these aliens that are chasing him.”
Rose felt her face go a bit white. “Someone’s after the Doctor?”
“Yeah, this Family apparently, family of aliens, mind you, is apparently tracking him down to eat him or something,cause he’ll make them live longer. I don’t know, it didn’t make a lot of sense when he explained it,” Donna frowned down at the Doctor. “But he did put his Time Lord self in this watch," Donna held up an old looking fob watch and then pocketed it for safekeeping. "Said that the TARDIS would give him new ID and everything, so we know who he is.”
Rose approached the Doctor carefully and got down on her knees next to him. She opened up his jacket and reached inside one of his inside pockets, knowing the ID would probably be where ke usually kept the psychic paper. She pulled out a tattered wallet that she knew didn’t belong to the Doctor and flipped it open.
“‘DI Alec Hardy’,” She read, and glanced down fondly at the Doctor. “You would want to be a detective, wouldn’t you?”
“You’re Rose Tyler,” Donna said, as though realizing it for the first time.
Rose blushed a little and nodded. “Yeah.”
“He never shuts up about you,” Donna said softly, smiling a little. “Properly besotted with you, he is.”
Rose shook her head. “Oh, no, I don’t know about that. He never was.” She brushed back his hair from his forehead. “Look, though, we should probably get him into the clothes up there,” she jerked her chin towards the jumpseat.
“Oh, no, I won’t be doing that.” Donna said. “Fork over that wallet, we’ll find out where this poor sod is going to live.”
Rose pulled down the grey suit from the jump seat, but couldn’t stop herself from leaning down and pressing her ear to his chest, listening to his single heart beat. She let her eyes flutter shut and just listened for a couple moments.
“One of his hearts has stopped,” Rose whispered.
“Yeah,” Donna replied. “It’s just that, he made himself human and all, so one of his hearts is… Gone, I guess? I’m not sure how it works, really. Whole biology being rewritten, I guess that means DNA and stuff as well.”
“So he won’t remember me,” Rose said as she rose up to start changing his clothes. She’d done it before, that one Christmas so long ago.
“Probably not,” Donna said, “He told me that the TARDIS would place me as something in his subconscious so that I wouldn’t get left behind, so to speak, and I suppose she might do that for you?”
“Would you?” Rose tilted her head up and asked the TARDIS. The ship hummed, but Rose couldn’t quite discern what it meant.
She blew out a sigh and started to change his clothes, getting him out of the pinstripes that she so loved and into the drab grey suit. She stared down at him in a little bit of wonder and blew out a sigh. This was so unbelievably unfair. She finally got back to him, or rather, he finally got back to her, and now he wasn’t even going to remember her. That was so colossally unfair, and so quintessentially Doctor that it just wasn’t fair.
“Do you know this address?” Donna said, finally breaking Rose’s conversation from where she was, tying his dress shoes on his feet in place of his chucks.
Rose took the wallet and peered down at it. She blinked. “It’s a little house down the road. They’ve been trying to rent it out for ages.”
“Can we leave the TARDIS here?” Donna asked. “And take him there?”
“Yeah, we can drive him,” Rose said, “I have a car round front we can take. “
“He’s gonna be so pleased,” Donna blurted out.
Rose gave her a confused look. “What?”
“He’s gonna lose his mind when he sees that it was you, all this time, that you’re here,” Donna smiled at her. “It’s really gonna be brilliant.”
“He really talked about me that much?” Rose asked shyly.
“God, all the bloody time. Don’t know how I didn't’ know it was you the second you walked in the door, the way he goes on. ‘Rose’ this, ‘Rose’ that, ‘Donna, did you know that Rose was brilliant?’ ” She rolled her eyes. “The usual, with him.”
She smiled down at the sleeping Doctor. Well, she supposed she was going to get used to calling him DI Hardy, now. She leaned down and pulled him up by the shoulder. Donna caught on and grabbed the other one. The two of them pulled at him until they each got a shoulder under his armpits. As though the TARDIS was just now remembering something, she hummed loudly in Rose’s head and threw down two suitcases from the ceiling. Rose squeaked and jumped back, almost making the Doctor and Donna topple down as well.
“Oh, right, guess he’ll need more than one set of clothes,” Donna said.
It took a bit of doing, and Rose had to eventually call Jackie, who wasn’t exactly pleased with the whole ordeal, but then she saw the Doctor’s unconscious body.
“God, what happened to him?” she asked, her eyes widening. “It’s like Christmas all over again! Who’s this?”
“I’ll explain it all later,” Rose said, “I won’t be home till tonight though, I want to be with him when he wakes up.”
‘What, you think he’s gonna imprint on you like a duckling? Probably already done that, sweetheart.”
“Mum,” Rose said, exasperated, “Just help us get these bags to the car, please.”
“What, you movin in with him now?”
Finally though, Jackie was done making smart comments and decided to help, picking up the bags and coming behind Donna and Rose.
Once the Doctor was completely settled in the backseat, Rose kissed her mum on the cheek and bid her goodbye. “See you later! Promise,” Rose said, and got in the car on the driver’s side. Donna smiled a little at Jackie, trying to be friendly, before throwing herself in the passenger seat.
Since the two of them didn’t know exactly how much time they had until the Doctor woke up, they set about to unpacking and getting the house set up. Somehow, the TARDIS had put in the notion that this Alec Hardy man was supposed to be here, as when Rose checked in the flower pot, there was a key, and on the inside, there was a note to a “Mr. Alec Hardy” welcoming him to his new home.
“That ship is something else,” Donna said, awe in her voice.
Together, Rose and Donna watched over the Doctor, where they had laid him on the couch. Rose sat on the floor, holding his hand, once all his clothes were hung up or folded in the drawers, his shoes set by the door, double checking to make sure his cabinets were stocked with groceries. Donna shook her head and laughed a little. She was completely in awe. Rose just smiled. She’d seen the TARDIS do stuff like this all the time. It was brilliant really, that his ship was so fantastical.
Rose stayed where she was, and reached out and cupped his cheek in her free hand. She brushed her thumb over his cheek and watched him carefully. She only drew her hand away when he started to stir under her touch. She put that hand in her lap, but kept the other hand in his.
“Donna, he’s waking up!” She called over her shoulder.
Donna hurried in from the kitchen from where she’d been making tea, and squatted down beside Rose.
The Doctor’s eyes fluttered open and he stared at them for a moment. “What happened?”
“You tell us,” Rose said softly. “Do you remember us?”
The Doctor, no, Alec, Rose reminded herself, looked at Donna. “You’re my cousin Donna,” he said blandly. He looked to Rose. “You’re holding my hand.”
“Should I not be?” Rose released it.
He looked down at his empty hand. “Have we met?” He asked her.
“I suppose not,” she said sadly. His voice sounded more Scottish, like it had that one day they were actually in Scotland. It was quite sexy, though she didn’t think she’d ever admit it to the Doctor later on, no matter what.
Donna, luckily, jumped up and shoved Rose’s sadness aside to cover everything up. “You met Rose the other night. Do you remember your name?”
“Alec Hardy,” his eyes fluttered closed again. “And I’m terribly sorry, Rose, but I don’t remember you. I’ve definitely seen you, but if you’ll pardon me, I’m not exactly a functioning person.”
“Very good,” Donna said. “Wait, what do you mean by that?”
“My heart, dearest cousin,” Alec snapped, “I probably had an episode, didn’t I? And on the day before my new job too?”
“Um… yeah, you had an episode,” Donna said, “Rose here found you.”
“Suppose it would be the polite thing to thank you,” Alec/ the Doctor said, opening his eyes a little and looking at Rose. He looked up at Donna and then rolled his eyes. “Oh, God, don’t you start.”
“Start what?” Donna asked.
“Worrying about me, or something like that,” Alec closed his eyes again. “I’m going to go back to sleep.”
“You’re welcome to stay for dinner, Rose,” Donna said, “If my idiot cousin can get a hold of himself.”
“Yes, Donna, go on and invite people I don’t know to stay for dinner in my house, Donna,” Alec said, his eyes still closed.
Rose felt her heart break with every rude word he said. “I should… I should go home,” Rose choked out.
Donna felt a wave of sympathy for the woman. “No, you’re staying, and that’s an order, and Alec, it wouldn’t kill you to make a friend.”
“It might,” Alec rumbled from the couch.
Donna wrapped her arm around Rose’s shoulders and led her to the kitchen. “Never mind him. You and I will just have to be the best of friends without him for a bit.” She bent down and whispered in her ear. “He’ll come around.”