Rose had been in Pete’s World for five years. The first year was the toughest…especially the three months before saying the final goodbyes to her Doctor via hologram at Bad Wolf Bay. That event, as heartbreaking as it was, did bring her some of the closure that she needed – even if he had not been able to finish the words that she so desperately wanted to hear. In a way, though, she thought it was probably for the best. That might have made things even harder. As it was, she went on to make the resolution to live her life the best way she knew how…in a way that would make him proud. After all, her first leather-clad Doctor had told her to live a fantastic life…and her second pinstripes-with-trainers Doctor had called her the “Defender of the Earth." Therefore, that is exactly what she did and precisely what she became.
In fact, she dedicated her life to her new universe’s Torchwood and quickly rose through the ranks to become a field team leader…and the head of the Inter-Species Relations department. The higher-than-normal telepathic and empathic abilities that Bad Wolf had bestowed upon her helped, as well. In fact, after the memory of her time as Bad Wolf had been triggered when the Doctor faded from her sight on the bay with the ironic name, sometimes Rose had to wonder what other gifts had been left for her - especially since she now also seemed to heal miraculously fast from the injuries that she frequently received out in the field. It was almost as if that part of her story was not truly over...and that she was being prepared for something yet to come. However, Rose was not one to look a gift horse in the mouth…not anymore...and she tried not to dwell on what “could have been” or “should have been" in the past or what “possibly might be” in the future. Instead, she used her enhanced abilities to live her present life in the better way that her Doctor (both versions of him) had shown her.
Oddly enough, even though she knew that they were really the same man, it was her first Doctor who Rose wished could see her now…to see how much she had grown from the estate girl who just worked in a shop into a leader who helped to protect the Earth from the front lines. In her mind, she could feel his big strong hands grip hers and see his wide manic grin stretch across his face as he told her, in his distinctly Northern voice, just how fantastic she was and how proud he was of her. In a lot of ways, she missed him even more than his successor because he was the one who had first saved her life and pulled her out of her mind-numbingly boring existence on the estate. He was the one who had taught her the joys of travel and adventure. He was also the one she fell in love with first. She knew that her feelings for the hyperactive Doctor with the really great hair, as deep as they went, were really just an extension of what she felt for him when he had barely any hair at all and his most prominent features were his ears! Therefore, she missed that him deeply – especially since she never had any closure with him – and no chance to say goodbye – like she had at Bad Wolf Bay.
That was not even considering the kiss…the one she finally remembered when her memories of Bad Wolf came back. That sweet kiss told her exactly how much her first Doctor had cared for her – even though he had never been able to tell her himself. With that kiss, he gave up his life and body, and a whole regeneration even though he only had a couple left…just for her. She also knew deep down inside that it was his way of giving her the words. She only wished that she could have told that him how much he meant to her, as well, while she had the chance. It was one of the true regrets in her life. However, she knew that she would have to live with it. She knew that the odds were not good that she would ever see her last Doctor again, and she had made her peace with that. However, they were completely nonexistent when it came to her first one. He was gone for good. That was something that she knew for certain. After all, she had witnessed it firsthand when he had burst into the golden flames of regeneration. However, that would never stop her from missing him. That particular hole would always be in her heart.
Since there had been no alien invasions to deflect, no crash landings to inspect, no negotiations to handle, and no relocations to organize, it was a rare day off of work for Rose. Therefore, she walked through the city doing the kind of mundane errands that tend to pile up when you ignore them for too long. As she went from place to place to pay her bills, deliver her post, and stock up on basic supplies, her thoughts inevitably drifted towards the Doctor.
She thought about him…both versions that she had known…almost every single day. However, after five years spent without him, most of the thoughts were no longer those of wistful longing…since she knew those days were gone. They were now (mostly) cheerful memories that were triggered by situations that never failed to remind her of their time together. Of course, her work at Torchwood was one of those things. How could it not be when she worked with aliens every day? However, other simple things like the smell of chips in the air brought back the memory of their “first date” after they had seen the end of the Earth and he had told her about his own planet. The sight of the London Eye always made her think of the first time that she had figured out something important before he did. The slightest mention of bananas still made her giggle. Even the sound of groaning and wheezing machinery always reminded her of the TARDIS when it phased in or out. In fact, she could even hear that particular sound at that very minute.
After listening for a few more seconds, however, Rose’s eyes widened and her heart started to race as she realized that it was not just any machinery she heard… the oh-so-achingly familiar sound of materialization had wormed its way into her heart and soul and she knew at once that it really was the TARDIS this time! Her Doctor had done the impossible after all of these years and had finally found her! Rose took off running in the direction from which the sound had originated and soon found herself in an alley. However, the feelings of pure joy and excitement that she felt evaporated instantly and her heart sank like a stone when she realized the alley was completely empty. There was no blue Police Box in sight.
Rose felt like weeping as she chastised herself for letting her guard down so thoroughly after all of those years. She knew better than to fall for such a foolish hope…and yet she did it anyway. She had acted just like she had in the early days when she thought she heard the TARDIS around every corner - before the final goodbyes at Bad Wolf Bay put a stop to those fantasies. Rose shook her head to try and disperse some of the crushing disappointment she felt as she turned away from the alley. However, before she could leave, her enhanced telepathic abilities felt something brush lightly across her mind. It felt…playful…almost like the innocent thoughts of a child.
Please come back! It said directly into her mind – even though Rose felt the words rather than heard them. He has been looking for you!
Rose knew that there were many alien species out there that could utilize telepathy…just like the Tirlugians who had trained her...and she considered the possibility that some might even have ships that sounded like the TARDIS, as well. Therefore, she turned back around and headed deeper into the alley to see if someone needed her help. The light touches on her mind increased in frequency the further in that she went. In fact, they were quite intense by the time she reached the very end. However, the feeling was not invasive, at all. In fact, it was a comfortable presence - like a friend was holding her hand. When the alley finally dead-ended, though, Rose looked around the confined space and was thoroughly confused for a moment as she realized there was nothing there but a large red garbage skip. She stood there, and stared at it for a moment while she thought about what an unusual color it was - until she gasped in surprise when she finally saw the tiny but telltale ripple of a perception filter…and she realized that it was no ordinary rubbish bin. She then heard a light giggle in her mind.
Yay, you found me! Rose felt the words again…and this time they were accompanied by an extremely pleased feeling. Nobody but him ever seems to see me. Well, he did say that you were smart and the exception to the human rule. Please come in, Rose Tyler. Rose could only stare in amazement then as the side of the skip turned out to be a door which slowly opened to reveal an inside that was definitely bigger than the outside!
Rose was completely bewildered and on edge. How did it, whatever it was, know her name? Who was this he that kept being mentioned? After all, she knew better than most that not all aliens were friendly. However, the blood was pounding in her ears in excitement and she could not have stopped herself at that point if she tried. Therefore, Rose stepped through that open door and knew at once that she was in a TARDIS. However, it was obviously not the one that she remembered so fondly from her days with the Doctor. That one had coral struts, metal grating, a ripped jumpseat, and a multitude of wires and replacement parts everywhere. However, this one looked, for the lack of a better word, brand new. Yes, there was a small amount of coral that was mainly used in a decorative fashion around the console room, but most of the interior consisted of glass, polished metal surfaces, and clean lines.*
“You’re gorgeous!” whispered Rose – because it was true. At her praise, a soft Thank you! and feelings of pleasure emanated from the very walls themselves. It was then that Rose realized it was the ship itself that had been “speaking” to her this entire time. She wondered at that since the Old Girl, as the Doctor had often called her, had never really spoken to her…not even after the Bad Wolf connection. Yes, there had often been some forms of communication, but nothing as direct as actual words in her mind. That was just another indication that this was definitely not her TARDIS. Therefore, the he that was referred to was definitely not her Doctor. Rose felt the disappointment rise up again, but this time it was tempered with extreme curiosity. If this TARDIS does not belong to my Doctor, then who does it belong to? she wondered.
Me! Rose felt the answer in her mind. I belong to myself. However, Mother gave a piece of me to him to nurture and grow. Therefore, he belongs to me, too. He is my pilot…and I am his ship…and you were Bad Wolf. You belong with me, also. We all belong together.
Rose was so surprised to the ship’s reference to Bad Wolf…the very first mention of it in this universe, besides the name of that ill-fated Bay in Norway...that she just could not respond immediately to the rest of the astonishing remark. While she tried to tame her rampant thoughts in an effort to gain some understanding of the situation, though, the TARDIS suddenly squealed at her in glee. He’s coming…he’s coming!
Rose listened carefully and she could indeed hear heavy footsteps coming in close to the console room from one of the side corridors. Just as she wondered whether she should be prepared to defend herself or not, she heard a voice that made her freeze in her tracks with its heartbreaking familiarity.
“Oi! What are you feelin’ so pleased about now, you daft ship?" The voice was gruff, but full of good humor all the same. "Just chattering on and on like some of those stupid apes out there…how could I possibly have forgotten that a baby TARDIS talks so bloody much? The Old Girl was always so calm and quiet. Come on then, you need to do less yappin' and more scanning for…Rose!”
The last word was spoken in great shock, almost shouted, as the person whose voice she had heard entered the console room and the two of them saw each other at the same time. Rose could not help but to stare at the man who stood there – those familiar ears, the short cropped hair, the leather…
“Rose!” he said again in a softer, gentler voice...and she could hear amazement there, as well. At that moment, she wanted nothing more than to run to him and jump into his arms, but she knew that it could not be true. It had to be a trick of some kind!
“No!” she said firmly instead as she tried to convince herself. “This is impossible!” She pulled out her Torchwood-issued stunner. Even though she was technically off-duty, she was always prepared because she knew that danger does not take a holiday just because you are not on the clock. “Who are you and why…how…are you wearing that body?” she asked forcefully when she realized that someone…something…must have pulled this precious image out of her memories and was using it to manipulate her. She wracked her brains for a list of psychic aliens that could also shapeshift, but only one came to mind. “You’re a Canzeelian!” she announced as she held the weapon steady in front of her. It would not kill the alien, but it would stun and immobilize it long enough for Rose to contain the scene and call for help from HQ, if necessary. “What do you want from me? What do you need?” she asked it first, however, despite her distress. Just like the man whose face it currently wore, she believed that everything should be given a chance to prove itself before she took action against it. It might even need her help and was trying to get her attention in the only way it knew how.
“Rose Tyler,” it said and she could not help to notice the affection in its voice and that it wore his familiar manic…and proud…grin, too! Why would it be proud? she thought in her increasingly rampant confusion. “I always knew that you were fantastic…and I was right! Just look at you! No, I’m not a Canzeelian, but that was a great guess. How do you know about them anyways…and where didya learn how to use a Tripurlian stunner like that? Never mind, that’s not important right now. You can tell me later.” However, when the aim of said stunner never waivered, the figure paused and raised his hands beseechingly. “Rose, it’s really me! I am here! I know that it is hard to believe. I didn't know it was even possible either...and I usually know everything, but…”
“No!” she said again, trying not to be persuaded by the warmth and familiarity of his Northern tones or her own desire for it to be the truth. “I saw you die…I saw you change. You can’t be here. You can’t be anywhere!” she exclaimed frantically and the truth of it broke her heart all over again. “You don’t exist anymore!” She choked back a sob.
At her emotional words, the figure looked solemn for a moment before he nodded and the warmth in his smile returned. “That’s my Rose…always thinking. You’re right, too…in a way. I don’t exist anymore…not in our old universe anyway. However, we're not there anymore, are we?”
His statement made her pause as she considered that logic...but she would not allow herself to give in to the small blossom of hope in her heart. “Explain!” she commanded. They both could hear the tremble in her voice, but she still held the stunner steady.
The figure…the man…nodded again. "Didya ever remember what happened to make me regenerate?” he asked gently.
Despite her uncertainty, Rose nodded. “B…Bad Wolf,” she whispered haltingly.
“Yes,” he replied with a nod. “The power was killing you, and I couldn't let that happen - so I took it, instead. At that moment, I was given a choice. When I accepted, I was somehow shunted sideways to this parallel universe at the exact moment of my regeneration. Even I don’t understand all of the particulars of the physics. However, it boils down to the fact that I can exist here because there were never any Time Lords in this universe. Therefore, there was never an alternate version of me here, either. Consequently, Bad Wolf simply found a Doctor-shaped space…and shot me over the Void to fill it.”
“Why? Why would Bad Wolf do that?” Rose asked quietly, barely allowing herself to breathe, much less believe what it…he…was saying – even though she desperately wanted to. Nevertheless, the stunner slowly started to point downward.
“For you,” he answered just as quietly. “Bad Wolf showed me what was going to happen to you…that you'd eventually be trapped here…without me…any version of me. However, I didn’t want my jeopardy-friendly girl to be alone…and I didn’t want to be without her, either…so here I am.”
At his usage of the very familiar reference to her habit of finding trouble wherever she went, Rose’s firm resolve broke- It was really him! - and she completely dropped the stunner. “Doctor!” she cried and the manic grin was back on the man’s face as he opened his arms out to her.
“Come here, you!” She ran to him and he swept her off her feet. “Oh, my girl...I have missed you so much!” he muttered in her hair as he held her close. Rose returned his embrace as tightly as she could and happy tears rolled down her face. She would never have guessed…never even fantasized...that this could happen. Now that it had, however, she finally understood that this was what Bad Wolf had been preparing her for all along...what all of the "gifts" had been for and…
That thought was interrupted by the joyful cheers of the ship herself. Yay! They both felt her say. We found you. She found us. We are all together!
The Doctor huffed goodnaturedly. “Damn yappy ship,” he muttered, but he was smiling from ear to ear when Rose pulled her face away from his shoulder where she had buried it during their embrace.
“She does seem to be quite talkative,” Rose agreed cheerfully, even as she wiped away her joyful tears. The Doctor looked down at incredulously, even though his grip on her never loosened.
“You can hear her?” he asked with obvious wonder in his tone. “How?”
Rose just shrugged, happy that she could surprise him, too. “Just another gift from Bad Wolf, apparently,” she answered. “That’s not the only one, either.” After all, now that Rose was in his arms, her increased empathetic abilities could feel the joy…and now the rampant curiosity…radiating from him. “However, we can talk about that later. What I really want to know right now is how do you even have a TARDIS in the first place?”
“Also a gift,” he explained as he reluctantly released her...but he refused to let go of her completely. Instead, his big hands just moved down to clasp her smaller ones. They fit together easily - just like they always had. “When I woke up in this universe after leaving you, I was not on Earth. Instead I was on a little undeveloped planet in one of the outer galaxies, but I soon realized that I was not alone. I had a piece of the Old Girl’s coral with me...a seed...and it was a talkative lil' thing, even back then. That planet might've been a bit outta the way, but Bad Wolf knew what she was doin' because the conditions there were perfect for a TARDIS nursery.”
I told you that Mother gave him a piece of me to grow, the young TARDIS interjected.
“Hush it, you!” the Doctor commanded cheerfully. “I’m tryin’ to tell a story here.”
However, this time it was Rose’s turn to interrupt and be incredulous. “You grew a TARDIS? How long did that take?”
“Normally it would take thousands of years,” he answered. “However, I’m brilliant, remember?” he paused to wink at her and she could not help but to grin back despite her stomach's automatic fluttering response to the playful gesture. “Fortunately, I still had a few of my toys…” Here he briefly let go of one of her hands to pull out his trusty sonic screwdriver, “…and I figured out that if you shatterfry the plasmic shell and modify the dimensional stabilizer to a foldback harmonic of 36.3, you accelerate growth by the power of 59.** Therefore, it only took a little over five years…on the slow path…for me to have a functioning TARDIS. There are still a few kinks to work out, and not all of her systems have come online yet, but you probably noticed that her Chameleon circuit is working just fine. She blends into every environment perfectly - except for the fact that she is a quirky lil' one and always chooses to become something red. In fact, she absolutely refuses to take the shape of a blue Police Box, not matter how nicely I ask."
That was Mother's image. I am my own TARDIS! the ship insisted. She sounded so much like a defiant teenager that Rose found that she had to bite her bottom lip to keep from laughing out loud at the exchange.
The Doctor, however, just shook his head goodnaturedly at the comment and continued. "At any rate, after a few short test flights, we came straight to Earth...this Earth...with the sole purpose of finding you. Since I knew that you would have had to cross the Void to get here, I have been scanning for a source that housed a combination of both artron energy from the Vortex and material from the Void ever since. Today, it worked…and...well...I finally found you.”
I found you! the young TARDIS emphasized.
Rose did not even bother to try and stop her laugh that time when the Doctor rolled his eyes in exasperation at his young ship. She also found that she just could not stop smiling. She did not know how long it had been since she had felt so happy! However, at the sight of that gorgeous tongue-touched smile that he had not seen in years, the Doctor’s look shifted. His steel blue eyes darkened and grew serious. Since there was no jumpseat in this console room's design, he pulled her gently over to the stairs that led to the upper level, instead. While still holding her hands, he then tugged her down to sit close by him on one of the steps. When he met her eyes again, Rose felt her breath catch in her throat, and her body warmed instantly at the intensity she saw there. It had been so long since those eyes had looked at her in that way, yet her reaction was still exactly the same as it had been back then.
“Tell me, Rose,” he asked quietly. “Did you stay with the next me? Did he treat you right?”
Rose could only nod as she thought about the highs and lows during the linear year with her second Doctor. “I did...and he did. We were even quite happy…most of the time...until I got trapped here,” she told him honestly.
The Doctor nodded, but looked a little wary as he cleared his throat…almost nervously. She thought that he was going to ask her about how she ended up in another universe...and she dreaded his reaction to hearing about the Daleks...not to mention the Cybermen. However, he surprised her when he did not even bring that subject up. Apparently, he had something else that weighed even more heavily on his mind, instead. “Did he…? Were you…?” he asked before his voice trailed off in uncharacteristic uncertainty.
“What, Doctor?” she asked - since she did not quite understand his question. Now that she had recovered somewhat from the joyous shock of seeing him again, she also wondered at his sudden nervous behavior. In fact, he reminded her of a teenage boy who was trying...and failing...to ask a girl to a dance. Oh! That is what he wants to know, she suddenly realized and a flush rose to her cheeks as her mind turned to the idea of dancing with the Doctor!
“Are you asking me if we were…together?” she asked and the Doctor’s eyes met and held hers for a long moment...almost as if he were searching for something in them...before he nodded solemnly.
“We became…close and there were…feelings,” Rose admitted. The Doctor's jaw clenched at this news and she could feel his grip on her hands tighten until she sighed and added, “However, for the most part…they went unspoken…and were not acted upon.” Her enhanced abilities kicked in again then and she could feel the tension just draining from him at those words as she had an almost unbelievable revelation. The Doctor was jealous…of himself!
“What an idiot!” the Doctor said softly - and the words broke through her surprising train of thought. When she quirked an eyebrow at him, he rushed to clarify. “Not you! Me! That me!” He paused again to look at her and he seemed to have a momentary struggle with himself before he came to a decision. He cleared his throat nervously…again…and continued to speak. “When I regenerated, I hoped…I wanted…to become someone that you could care for…someone who looked more like those pretty boys you always favored back then…someone you would want…and who could actually tell you how he felt about you.”
“Oh, Doctor!” she cried out as she realized what he was trying to say. She remembered all of her regrets that she had never told this him how she felt…and it suddenly seemed to be the perfect time for that long overdue confession, as well. “At first, I even asked him if he could change back, you know?” she said softly. He just looked at her hopefully. “It’s true! I already had somebody I wanted…and I didn’t want to let you go. You broke my heart when you left me.” The memory of that time moved her to tears again…and he pulled her back into his arms and held her as close as he could while he rested his chin on the top of her head.
“Rose, I am so sorry! I didn’t want to leave you either…but I didn’t have a choice…not right then, at least. In fact, I would have done anything to stay, but that body...this body...was dying. If I had not regenerated…”
Rose understood what he was trying to say. There would have been no Doctor, at all, if he had not regenerated. In fact, that knowledge really made the incredible situation in which they found themselves all the more miraculous. She still did not really understand how he could be there with her after all of that...and she found that she did not really care...just as long as he stayed! She held him even tighter at the thought...and she could feel the emotion pouring off of him, as well. Nevertheless, she had to know, for certain, it if meant what she thought it did. Therefore, she pulled away just enough to be able to meet his eyes. “Why did you kiss me then?” she asked.
“You remember that too, huh?” he asked with an almost-sheepish look, as if he had been caught doing something naughty. She nodded...not trusting herself to speak while she waited for his answer…and her nerves were stretched so tight that she felt they probably could have been played like an instrument.
After an agonizingly long minute, he finally answered. “I could tell you that I did it just to remove the power of the Vortex before it killed you. However, that is not exactly true. There were other ways that I probably could have done that. I kissed you because I wanted to…because I had always wanted to…and I knew it was my last chance to do so.”
For just a moment, Rose was overwhelmed by his confession. Then she seized her chance as she grabbed the lapels of his leather jacket…Oh, how she had missed it, too…and pulled him even closer. “Not quite your last chance…not anymore,” she murmured thickly as she pulled him to her and her lips finally met his. She poured everything she had ever felt for him into the kiss that followed and, once he got over his shock enough to respond in kind, it became one of the most cathartic experiences of her life. Everything that had been left unsaid, all the regrets, the pain…it was all washed away in that moment. She reveled in the magic of it all and only pulled away again when she had to breathe. She then leaned her forehead against his…and felt the rush of emotion from him, as well...and she reveled in the fact that it equaled her own in intensity. She knew immediately that one kiss was never going to be enough for her - especially when she looked back up and the Doctor met her eyes with that intense smoldering look again. They just gazed at each other, though, since neither of them knew exactly what to say. Any words...all words...just seemed completely inadequate to describe how they felt at that moment.
“So…whaddya think?” the Doctor finally broke the silence to ask quietly. His attempt at a casual tone, however, was belied by the tension that she could see in his eyes and feel in his arms. “Would you like to…come with me again? Do some traveling? Explore the new universe? Explore this?” he removed one of the arms that was still wrapped around her in order to gesture between them.
“I think,” Rose paused for just a moment as she realized the look on his face was exactly like the one he wore the first time he had asked her to travel with him. Had he been that uncertain then, too? she wondered. However, she knew without a doubt that she would not make him ask her a second time…not this time around…not ever again, in fact. Therefore, she flashed his favorite tongue-touched grin at him again before she continued, “I think that would be…fantastic!”
“Fantastic!” he repeated the word joyfully as a huge relieved smile crossed his face and he pulled her closer.
Yay! We are going to have so much fun together! the young TARDIS piped up.
Rose could not help but to smile at that and leaned back to affectionately pat the stair railing they were sitting against before turning back to address the Doctor. “That does sound wonderful. However, I think you need to know that things are a little different now. I just can’t go swannin' off this time like I did back then...and I definitely can't risk coming back a year late. I have responsibilities now. This Earth actually needs me.”
The Doctor was the one to quirk a questioning eyebrow this time.
“I’m serious, Doctor. You asked me how I knew about Canzeelians and Tripurlians. That's because of my job…I work for the Torchwood here.”
“Torchwood?” he asked and his brow wrinkled at the unfamiliar name.
“Oh, yeah, I forgot. This you doesn't know about them. Well, in this universe, Torchwood is a lot like UNIT was in the last one…but not so…militant. We are Earth’s first line of welcome…or defense, if necessary…when it comes to the aliens who visit this Earth.” At his look of sudden understanding, she smiled and mimed a little curtsy from her seated position. “Rose Tyler, field team leader and head of the Inter-Species Relations Department…at your service.” Then she waited nervously for his reaction.
She did not have to wait long, though. That wide proud grin was back immediately when he realized exactly why she had followed that particular career path. “Rose Tyler, all grown up and defendin' the Earth,” he said proudly. Her breath caught at those familiar words…and she realized exactly which Doctor must have influenced them that day on the Bay. “Well, that certainly explains a lot," he said as he pointed at the stunner which she had slid back into its holster after she picked it up off of the glass paneled floor of the console room...and as his eyes raked appreciatively over the obviously fit and well-toned body that was the natural result of all of the years of running and training. She actually shivered at the burning intensity she saw there when his eyes finally met hers again - even though he continued to speak calmly. "You, Rose Tyler, are incredible!" he declared. "If it is that important to you, then I guess that there is no need to rush off this time...especially since I now have everything I need and want right here." Her heart thrilled again at his meaning - especially when he added in a much lower tone. "Plus, some things are definitely worth waiting for!”
Those particular words sparked the passion that had laid dormant for far too long inside of her. What he said was true...but she was tired of waiting! Her lips crashed back on his then, and as he returned her ardor with enthusiasm, Rose realized that her dreams had come true. Her first Doctor was here, he was proud of her, his lips were on hers, and he wanted her…and oh…how she wanted him, too! The spark then burst into full-fledged flames at the knowledge that it was finally time to act on those feelings!
Therefore, she pulled away from him just enough to lean up and whisper in his ear, “I think I need a Doctor!” She then slid her hands under his jacket…just like she had always wanted to…and thoroughly explored the hard muscles under his jumper. She could feel his double heartbeat increase in intensity as it thudded under her eager hands.
“R…Rose,” he groaned into her hair at the obvious meaning of her words. He then grabbed her hands to still them, but he did not move away. “We don’t have to…I can wait until…”
“I can’t!” she said firmly. “It has been over seven linear years since I met you, Doctor…and I spent the first one of them longing for you and the last six of them missing you…yes, this you! Therefore, I’m not making the mistake of waiting too long ever again...or of not telling you how I feel. I love you…and I always have.”
Hearing those words caused the overflowing dam of his feelings to crack and burst...and he was finally able to move past those barriers that had always made him keep his distance before. Therefore, he reached for her face and cupped it in his big hands gently while he placed tender kisses on her forehead, nose, and eyes. “Oh, my precious girl,” he whispered. “I love you, too, you know. I think I have from the moment you swung over on that chain to save this daft old face…and the body it was attached to.”
“I love this face, you daft alien!” she murmured as his thrilling admission made her take advantage of their position to enthusiastically pepper his jawline with kisses of her own. She paused for just a moment to whisper in his ear, "and now I want to love the rest of you, too!" before she lowered her ministrations down to his neck. He could not help but to groan again, both at the meaning of her words and the feel of her touch, before he bent down to scoop her right up off of the step on which they were sitting. As he stood up with her in his arms, she wrapped her legs around his waist, and continued to kiss every bit of his skin that she could reach while he carried her out of the console room in search of the nearest bedroom.
Fortunately, the TARDIS, as young as she was, had inherited the knowledge of her Mother and the rest of her species. They knew instinctively how to interact with their Time Lords, up to and including when to let them take charge and when to take charge for them. Therefore, even though he often accused her of "yapping and chattering," she knew that was what he had needed most at the time to keep his spirits up until he could find his Rose. However, she also knew when to keep quiet. This was obviously one of those times. Therefore, she kept her happy thoughts for her Pilot and her Wolf to herself as she moved the bedroom up as close to the console room as she possibly could. That would give them easy access to it - whenever they remembered where they were headed before they had stopped to snog up against the wall of the corridor. Then she busied her main consciousness elsewhere as she surreptitiously dematerialized from the dirty alley where they were located and headed straight into the Vortex. That way the two of them would have all the privacy and time they could ever need.
Later, as they relaxed together in the tangled sheets and basked in the aftermath of their newfound intimacy, Rose looked up at her Doctor. Her breath caught again when she realized that all the happiness and satisfaction she felt was reflected in his eyes and practically radiated out from his body, as well. At the sight of the contented smile on his handsome face, she could not resist reaching up to kiss him tenderly again as she realized that this was truly the best day of her life. Her Doctor was back…and they were finally...properly...together!
“Fantastic!” he murmured with quiet joy as she pulled away and settled her head back down on his chest where she could easily hear the comforting sound of his double heartbeat. “Now, Love,” he said as he reached up to stroke her hair...and her heart and soul were thrilled once again to hear that oh-so-important word from him. “Why don’t you tell me all about your life in this universe?” Rose understood by his obvious omission of questions about how she came to be there that he was probably still feeling a bit territorial at the moment. That was why he did not want to hear about her adventures with the next him, yet. Perhaps that would take some time…but she knew eventually he would want to know…and she would be more than happy to tell him when he was ready.
After all, she knew that she would never forget...and would always care about...her second Doctor. However, she had made her peace with their separation a long time ago. It also helped that there was no other way to explain this entire impossible situation, except for the fact that it was obviously always meant to be this way! That was a perfectly logical explanation for someone who had once seen all of time and space (even if she could no longer remember the exact details of that vision). Consequently, Rose felt none of the emotional conflict that she had always assumed would plague her if she ever found someone to love again in her new universe. In fact, she felt perfectly free to give all of her heart and the rest of her life (and with Bad Wolf's gifts, that could be a very long time indeed) to her first Doctor. Therefore, it was with a clear conscience that she snuggled even closer as she told him all about her work, both in the office and out in the field. He listened and asked questions - all with great interest and pride - until she mentioned her fellow team leader and best friend, Mickey.
“What? Rickey? Is he here, too?” the Doctor growled and wrapped his arms a little tighter around her.
“Don’t be like that, Doctor!” she said as she smacked his hard chest lightly. “Yes, Mickey is here," she said, emphasizing the M sound, "and he has changed a lot since you knew him. He has also been a very good friend to me.”
“I just bet he has,” the Doctor grumped and this time Rose could not help but to smile at the obvious jealousy in his tone. Even after all of the time that had passed, some things never change.
“Not like that, you plum!” she exclaimed and swatted him again. “Nowadays, he's just as much of a Defender of the Earth as I am. You’ll see…especially when you meet his girlfriend, Martha. She is a doctor, you know!”
“Hmm,” was his only reply. However, Rose could feel his hearts lighten at the news that Mickey was in a romantic relationship with someone else. Consequently, she thought that she should go ahead and tell him who else was in this universe, too. After all, she clearly remembered that they had not gotten along very well when he was in this body.
She tried to soften the blow with a kiss before she broke it to him, however. “Doctor…I think you should know...Mum is here, too.”
That did it. The Doctor bolted upright in bed and his hand automatically went to his cheek - the same one that Jackie had slapped back when he had brought her daughter home twelve months late. “Fan-bloody-tastic!” he droned gloomily.
Rose lost it then. She just could not help it. In fact, she just laughed and laughed until the Doctor could not help but to give in and smile at her mirth…and at the irony of it all, as well. He had essentially died and crossed universes, but still could not get away from Jackie Tyler...and now he had really gone and done what she had accused him of all those years ago! As if that was not enough, however, Rose followed up that bombshell by telling him that Pete Tyler was not only alive in this universe, but was also with her mum...plus he was her boss....and that she now even had a little brother, as well.
At the news, the Doctor sat there completely gobsmacked at the thought of all of the "domestics" of this new situation - and what that would probably mean for him and Rose. The woman in question, meanwhile, just giggled a little at the rare sight of the completely speechless Doctor before she leaned in and kissed him again. The sweet feeling of her lips and body against his drew him out of his stupor and helped him to quickly decide that his Rose was more than worth any trouble that this universe could throw at him. If that included dealing with the entire Tyler clan, then so be it! After all, he had once faced down an entire fleet of Daleks for her! How could one human family, even one that included Jackie, compare to that?
Plus, he knew without a doubt that he would be more than willing to change up his routine a bit, if it would keep Rose by his side. He did have a magnificent time machine, after all. Therefore, he could easily intersperse their travel and adventure time with some responsible Earthbound time, as well - especially if it would make her happy. Maybe he could even lend his vast expertise to this Torchwood place that seemed to mean so much to his girl. It couldn't be that hard to be a part-time consultant considering the fact that he had often worked with UNIT in the other universe.
Therefore, with those resolutions in mind, the Doctor grabbed his beautiful laughing woman and pulled her beneath him. He kissed her passionately all the while - before he moved his attention to the rest of her body. She responded eagerly...and they both realized that all of this happiness was simply the beginning of what was going to be their fantastic new life together. That was an adventure for which they were both more than ready!