John Smith gazed down at his wife as she towel-dried a plate beside him. Rose caught him staring at her and smiled, tongue in teeth. It never failed to set his blood boiling. He itched to sweep her off her feet and carry her to the bedroom, but his hands were currently stuck in a sink full of dirty dishes and soap.
They had just finished their anniversary dinner. Nine years. Nine years he’d been with the most beautiful woman on the planet. And yet, it felt like only a few months. Time seemed to have no meaning when he thought about his life with Rose. But it had been long enough for him to have difficulty recalling their very first date. He knew it involved chips, somehow. And she moved in with him immediately after. They had a new flat now, but he felt a strange, warm sensation in the back of his skull as he tried to remember the details of their first home. His vision filled with the weird coral colors of the wall. It flicked from coral, to blue, to green…
“Ow!” John hissed and yanked his hand from the water. Blood seeped from the tip of his finger and fell into the sudsy water. It mixed and morphed from a deep crimson to light pink.
Rose gasped and dropped the plate in her hand. Glass shattered and splintered all over the floor.
“What did you do?!” Oddly pale and wide-eyed, she quickly draped the towel over the wound and pressed hard enough to cut off circulation.
He winced. “Knicked my finger on a knife blade.”
“You should be more careful!” she scolded him like a school child and clamped down even more on his finger.
“It’s barely a scratch.” He furrowed his brow in concern as she continued to fret over such a minor injury. “What’s wrong?”
She didn’t answer him. But she did finally pull the towel away. A tiny spot of dried, brown blood was the only evidence of harm.
“See? Nothing to worry about.” He wiggled his finger and grinned like a loon, attempting to coax her into laughter. But she didn’t react and continued to stare. Stare at nothing. “Rose?”
Eyes unfocused and glassy, she continued to ignore him. Unconsciously, she reached up to fiddle with the tiny pocket watch dangling from the chain around her neck. She rubbed her thumb in a caressing, sweeping motion over the intricate, circular design. The watch was always there. She ran with it. Slept with it. Even showered with it. He’d asked her once if she’d like to have it cleaned, but she’d stubbornly insisted it would never leave her body.
Finally, Rose shook herself out of her trance and met his eye. “I can’t lose you.”
John frowned. “You’re not gonna lose me over a tiny cut, love.”
“You never know.” Her eyes suddenly filled with tears and her chin wobbled. “I love you.”
“I love you, too.” Concerned, he swaddled his arms around her.
“Promise me you’ll never forget that. No matter what happens. Promise.” She clutched him tight, tighter than she ever had before. “I love you, I’ve always loved you. I’ll never stop lovin’ you. Ever. No matter who you are. Please, promise—”
“Hey, hey, shhh,” he shushed and pulled back far enough to look at her. “Rose, where’s this comin’ from?”
She sniffed harshly. “Please, just promise me.”
“I promise,” he vowed, baffled by her behavior. He cradled her cheeks and wiped her tears with his thumbs. “I love you, too. Always have. Never won’t.”
With a strangled sob, Rose launched up in his arms and slammed her mouth over his. Gripped the back of his neck like a lifeline. Dug her nails into his skin. Overwhelmed at first, John caught up to her frenzied pace and lifted her off her feet. Her legs immediately wrapped around his waist as he carried her to the bedroom like he’d been wanting to do all evening.
As he laid her on the mattress, a flash of green filtered in from the curtains. An odd, neon moss color. He was briefly distracted, but Rose forcefully turned his head back to her. The mesmerizing caramel of her eyes immediately ensnared him. He forgot about the odd light. Instead, he consumed himself with the task of loving his wife. Soothing her worries. Kissing her collarbones. Licking her ribs.
While he drove her to the brink of ecstasy, Rose softly chanted, “Doctor.”
Chapter 2: Part Two
Bits of rubble pelted Rose’s forehead as the Family blasted the tiny farmhouse from the outside. Despite their perilous situation, John refused to believe her explanation of the Doctor, how he’d turned himself human and hidden his mind in the watch she wore around her neck. He thought she was mad. Even she knew it sounded mad, but it was all true. And she needed the Doctor. Now .
Rose held the watch in front of John’s nose, pleading. “Please, open it!”
“The Doctor isn’t real!” he shouted in protest. “He’s just a dream. No— a nightmare!”
“Those were your memories. You’re not really John Smith!”
He covered his head from the falling debris as he glared at her. “And who are you, then?”
“Rose. I’ve always been Rose. We travel together.”
“You’re in my dreams, too. But—” Frowning heavily, he paused and searched her face, longing for something to be true that wasn’t. “You’re not my wife.”
“No,” she softly admitted. “I’m not.”
“Then I’m not openin’ that bloody watch!” John stood quickly and paced away from her, fists balled at his side.
Rose chased after him. “So you’d rather we die here!”
“No, of course not!”
“Then open it!”
Furious, she grabbed him, forced his fingers open, and slapped the watch into his palm. The second it touched his skin, they both gasped. Visions blinded them. John clutched her hand tightly as a potential future whizzed through their minds. They saw the joyful moments they’d share if the Doctor remained human. The children they’d raise. The grandchildren. A quiet life. A happy life. But one that could never exist.
The images stopped and John stared at her, tears in his eyes. “Why can’t I be John Smith?”
Rose swallowed thickly and dropped her hand. “Because the Family will kill everyone here. They’ll kill us, too, before that future has a chance to happen. We all need the Doctor. I need the Doctor.”
His shoulders sagged in defeat. The truth and consequences had finally sunk in. “You’ll stay?”
Deafening explosions rocked the walls as John cupped the back of her neck and crushed his mouth to hers in desperation. Knowing he was about to die. Rose kissed him back just as eagerly, already mourning the loss of the man she had come to know as her husband. She heard a metallic click and a thump as the watch fell to the ground. A gold glow seeped through her closed eyelids.
And she felt the exact moment the Time Lord was revived.
A subtle change to the taste of him on her tongue. An odd aroma of lemon, tea, and oil suddenly wafted in the air. She felt his jaw tense. Heard his sharp intake of breath. But he did not break the seal of their lips. Instead, he wrapped an arm around her back and clutched her closer. After a too-brief moment, he pulled away with a soft pop.
Her eyes fluttered open to see him staring down at her. For a split-second, she feared he’d push her away in disgust. Rant and rave about all of the domestics he’d endured for three months. Berate her for the intimacy they’d shared.
But then he smiled, wide and warm. “Hello.”
“Hello.” She laughed nervously.
Realizing he was still holding her, the Doctor blushed and dropped his arms. Light bounced off of his wedding ring. He stared at it. Blinked a few times. And fiddled with it curiously.
Rose unconsciously rubbed a finger over her own ring. “What do you remember?”
His gaze flew to hers, more intense than she’d ever seen. “Everything.”
“How much of him was you?”
“All of it,” he declared. A sudden volley of gunfire refocused his attention to their crumbling surroundings. “We seem to be in a pickle.”
In a rare display of indecision, the Doctor’s eyes darted from the door to her, back to the door, and then back to her again. With a grumble of frustration, he pressed an urgent kiss on her lips. “We’ll continue this later.”
“Promise?” Rose beamed.
“Absolutely.” The Doctor twined their fingers and grinned like mad. “Run!”