Rose Tyler rushed off the zeppelin the second it touched the ground. She took in the demolished bridge and the smoking remains of a private zeppelin, but all she cared about was seeing two of the people she loved most in the world alive.
As soon as Pete had gotten the call from Jackie, he’d grabbed Rose and taken her onto the fastest zeppelin UNIT had. Ever since then, Rose hadn’t stopped worrying; even when the news had reported that the passengers aboard the zeppelin that crashed were alive and unharmed, Rose knew she couldn’t rest until she actually saw them.
Now, her heart hammered in her chest as she ran towards an ambulance parked near the river. From a distance she knew it was her mum and the Doctor sitting next to the ambulance, wrapped in blankets. As she came closer, she watched as the Doctor handed Jackie a mug.
Rose slowed down so as to watch unobserved. Jackie smiled at the Doctor as she accepted the mug and said something that made the Doctor grin. Rose paused in her gait altogether, unable to keep from smiling.
“What is it?” Pete gasped at her side as he bent over, bracing his hands on his knees.
Rose nodded ahead. “Our plan worked!” She nudged her dad’s shoulder with her elbow and looked over to see him smiling.
Pete laughed shakily as he caught his breath. “Of course it did, sweetheart. You came up with it.”
Suddenly Jackie was running towards them, throwing off the blanket entirely. She held her arms open as if for a hug, but then she looked down at herself and her arms fell. “I don’t suppose you want a hug from me, but I’m so glad to see you!”
“You almost gave me a heart attack, Jacks,” Pete said, pulling her in for a hug anyway.
“I was worried sick, mum! But,” Rose continued with a grin, “it totally worked, didn’t it?”
Jackie drew away from Pete and just stared at Rose. “Our zeppelin crashed! You didn’t make that happen!”
“But we did put you two on board,” Pete said with a smile.
Jackie rolled her eyes and folded her arms. “Look at you two, so smug! It’s like you don’t even care if we died, so long as we’re best mates!”
“Jackie,” the Doctor interrupted as he joined them, “they’ve got some dry clothes for you in the ambulance.”
She sighed with relief. “It’s about time! I can’t wait to get out of this.” And without another word, she walked away.
“She’s just survived a zeppelin crash, and now she’s angry?” the Doctor asked as his eyes followed Jackie’s retreating form.
“She just doesn’t like that we outsmarted her.” Rose noticed that the Doctor was in new clothes: shorts and a t-shirt, an outfit combination he had refused to wear several times. As her gaze traveled up to his face, he grinned at her.
Rose grinned back and hugged him around the neck. He held her tightly and sighed.
“I thought I was going to lose you both,” Rose murmured.
“Well, you know what your mum is like. She just wouldn’t give up.” He pulled away smiling, and by the look in his eyes, Rose knew that something had changed.
It took some time before they could actually leave. Jackie was interviewed by the news, but Rose found it interesting that her mum lied about what caused the crash. Rose knew Jackie Tyler better than anybody, and she could tell that “an engine malfunction” hadn’t been the reason why the zeppelin crashed. So as soon as they got on the return flight home, Rose was determined to find out the truth.
However, Jackie exclaimed that she was starving and went in search of food. Pete followed her, and, now left alone, the Doctor led Rose to an aisle towards the middle of the zeppelin. He offered her the window seat like he always did, and Rose didn’t waste a moment once they were seated.
“What really happened on the zeppelin?”
The Doctor began to explain about the other Jackie. He even told Rose how they thought it had been her and Pete’s doing, at least at first, and Rose laughed.
He went on to tell her how he caused the zeppelin crash to make parallel Jackie leave and couldn’t undo the damage he had done. He talked about how he and Jackie had sat together, waiting to die.
“I thought your mum still hated me, but she forgave me, Rose. And I told her I was sorry too; not just for what happened with the Brigadier, but because…well, I always thought your mum could do so much more with her life, but today I realised that she did. She raised you, and without you I wouldn’t be here, the other universe would have been destroyed…and the world would be much, much darker.”
Rose smiled at him. “I do have a pretty amazing mum.”
He then explained how they jumped out into the water and watched the zeppelin crash into the bridge. They had been pulled out of the river, and an ambulance had been called.
“And then I ended up in these clothes!” he concluded. He pinched the fabric of the t-shirt in between his fingers. “Still not sure what I think of it.”
“I like it,” Rose said, admiring his form. He always wore long sleeves and trousers, and therefore it was a rare sight to see his bare arms and legs.
He hummed, seeming to think. “New new new Doctor…new new new clothes.” His eyebrows drew together. “Or is it new new new new?”
Rose chuckled. “Don’t tell me you’re adding in another ‘new’ now?”
By his pensive gaze, he didn’t seem to share her lightheartedness. “I should.” He looked into her eyes, revealing the pain and longing in his own. “I want to be better, Rose.”
“I know.” She pushed the armrest in between them out of the way so that she could face him and cradle his cheek in her hand. “You’ve been trying since the beginning.”
He nodded. “But now…I think I really believe that I can be.”
That’s what mum does, Rose thought as she gazed in wonder at the Doctor. She sees things in people that they don’t even see in themselves. And it seemed like this time, that ability had had a profound effect on the Doctor.
“We’ll all help you,” Rose said, stroking her thumb along his jawline. “No matter what, I’ll be here.”
The Doctor closed the distance between them and placed a gentle kiss on her lips. “You’re always the one who saves me, Rose Tyler.” His brown eyes were troubled no longer, but warm and tender. It was one of those moments when Rose just couldn’t believe that he was here, that he was hers.
With her free hand, Rose tangled her fingers in his hair and pulled his lips back down to hers. She kissed him much more forcefully than he had kissed her a moment ago, but he didn’t seem to mind. He pulled her into his lap and wrapped his arms fully around her, pressing her as close as he possibly could. He matched the intensity of her kisses until he pulled away with a bright smile, his breathing ragged.
“I’m so glad I’m here with you.”
Rose grinned. “Me too.” She kissed him again, but only for a moment, as an exclamation interrupted them.
“Oi, you two, not on the zeppelin! We may be friends again, Doctor, but it doesn’t mean you can go snogging my daughter anywhere you like.”
Rose bit back her laughter and watched the Doctor’s reaction. Over the past few months, she had seen him blow up in Jackie’s face many times over silliest reasons. She had watched him march away angry and cursing her mum.
But now, the Doctor’s cheeks turned a faint shade of red. He cleared his throat and said, “Sorry, Jackie.”
Rose marveled at the change. Not only had the plan worked, but it had exceeded all expectations. Even she hadn’t thought they’d be friends again so quickly.
“Rose,” Jackie continued, “don’t encourage him.”
Rose laughed as she shifted back into her own seat. The Doctor took her hand in his, squeezing it gently.
Rose leaned over and pecked a kiss on his cheek. “Love you,” she murmured as she drew away.
The Doctor’s expression softened. He put an arm around her shoulders, hugged her to his side, and pressed his lips to the crown of her head. “Rose Tyler, I love you too.”