What do you get for the woman who meant everything?
Unfortunately, that wasn’t an idle question or even a melodramatic one. It was a legitimate question the Doctor had no idea how to answer.
Hmm, no, maybe it wasn’t so much a question of how it came to this point as why he’d put it off. The Doctor supposed he could buy her jewelry, earrings or a necklace or something. After all, how many men could honestly say they traveled to another world in any time period for something shiny and sparkly?
But jewelry didn’t mean much to Rose.
A new necklace made for her TARDIS key? Maybe. (And not a bad idea.)
Gems he could make into earrings or rings or a bracelet? He could find the same shade of blue as the TARDIS or possibly a deep red reminiscent of Gallifrey. Rose wasn’t really the jewelry type.
She wore her hoop earrings, of course, and the Gallifreyan marriage pendant and the wedding ring he’d given her in the ceremony on Jahoo. Contrary to when they first met, those were the only items of jewelry she wore.
What did you get the woman who meant everything to you? What in the entirety of the universe, from the beginning of time to the end, could possibly be worthy of her?
Take her to a Christmas planet? They could go any time—they could go anywhere so what did it matter, a Christmas planet for Christmas? Though he was absolutely certain she’d love it, but it didn’t feel like a first-non-running-Christmas-together-happy-and-married gift he could (and should) give her.
Oh, perhaps a nice Victorian Christmas? Yes, Rose’d like that, too, he was certain and made a mental note to take her to snowy Victorian London after they celebrated Christmas with their friends.
The Doctor, barefoot and dressed only in a pair of brown pinstripe trousers, paced round and round the hallways, impressive Time Lord mind racing in circles as he tried to find the solution to this most pressing and impossible of questions.
What was the ultimate Christmas present for the woman he loved?
He ran his hands down his face, fingers pressing against his eyes. He could call Jack, he supposed. Or Martha or Sarah. But his instinct told him this wasn’t a gift anyone else could answer for him. Only Rose could.
With a reluctant sigh, he headed back for their room. He supposed he’d just have to ask her.
This wasn’t a gift where anyone else could tell him what to get. This was a gift only he had the power to give her.
Spinning on his heel, he gently reached out through their bonding link. Rose still slept, he had a little time. He didn’t need to go far, the door he sought was right there, the silvery copper of it waiting for him to enter.
Really, he should’ve done this when she first returned to him, when she found him again in 1930 New York. But they’d been so happy and he’d clung to her so tightly, terrified she’d disappear on him again. They hadn’t talked about what happened, not really. He hadn’t been thinking about the past.
Only the present...and then their future.
He’d rushed around, held her hand in his, made love to her every chance he got, told her he loved her. Just in case. Just in case the universe realized its mistake and took Rose away from him. Again.
Though they’d discussed it, agreed to it, wanted it, he’d rushed through a wedding with her and bonded with her and together they’d never wasted a second’s time. Not when they knew how precious every moment together was.
The Doctor waved his hand over the sensor, a security measure he rarely used. He only entered this room when storing items from lost friends. He never, ever went back to retrieve them.
Most of the things Rose collected during their travels he’d kept in their room. Little reminders she bought, her clothes (which still carried her scent), and the photo albums she started when she first traveled with him. All of them a harsh, painfully aching reminder of all they shared. And all they hadn’t yet had the chance to share.
But this, these items he’d carefully packed up and put away.
Winston sat atop one of the boxes, eyeing the Doctor as if he intruded on Winston’s space. The Doctor eyed the cat right back. Since Rose had been trapped in the other universe, neither Time Lord nor cat had got on well.
“These are for Rose,” the Doctor heard himself say. To the cat. Perfect.
Winston eyed him for another moment longer then gracefully leaped off the box and made his way out of the room.
“Hmph.” But the Doctor merely picked up the box Winston had sat on.
One by one he carried the boxes into the library’s anteroom by the Christmas tree they’d decorated. Winston curled beneath the tree, one gimlet eye watching the Doctor.
“If you’re just going to lie there,” he told the cat, “don’t touch the tree.”
Winston opened both eyes and glared at the Doctor. Sniffing, the Doctor turned and said over his shoulder, “Rose wouldn’t like it.”
Satisfied the cat would do what he said for Rose, he returned to the room and the rest of the boxes.
He didn’t bother wrapping them, simply left the pile for Rose. Then he returned to their room, shucked his trousers, and curled behind Rose, pulling her tight.
It wasn’t quite Christmas, according to Earth’s calendar. They’d traveled for months outside their friends’ timeline, but now with the holiday quickly approaching, he’d promised to follow their time stream, to keep constant with their friends. When Rose woke, he’d give her her gifts.
The little knickknacks Jackie kept in the flat. Rose’s mug from her time before him. More importantly, the photo albums. When Rose and Jackie...the Doctor pulled Rose tighter to him, holding her close.
When he’d lost her, when he’d lost his family, they had nothing. Nothing except Pete and Mickey in a strange new world. He’d been the one to keep their things. He’d been the one to make sure they were remembered at the small Canary Wharf memorial. He’d been the keeper of their past.
Now it was time to give Rose back her past. He knew she missed her mum, the family she’d formed there. The Doctor pressed his lips to her throat, the fingers of one hand gently caressing the marriage tattoos she kept covered except when they were together.
He needed to redouble his efforts. Work harder to find a way to at least communicate between worlds. Find that hole between universes Rose used to jump through.
Find a way to give Rose back her family. Even as they tried for a family of their own.
She stirred in his arms, smiling sleepily before opening her eyes. “Morning,” she whispered, leaning her cheek into his touch.
“Happy Christmas,” the Doctor whispered against her mouth. “I love you.”
“I thought it wasn’t Christmas yet.” Rose was fully awake now and looking at him concerned.
“For us, my hearts,” he said and held her close. “It is.”
The Doctor tugged her from bed, wrapped her in one of the short silk robes he loved to take off, made her tea, and took her hand as they walked to the library. Then, as Rose opened the boxes, he held her as she cried.
“I miss her,” she said, face buried against his neck.
“I know. And if there was any way I could get her back for you, I would.” He tilted her chin up and gently wiped the tears from her cheeks. “I only want you to be happy.”
Wrapping her arms around him, Rose held him close. Over their link he felt her happiness and her love. “I am,” she promised. “Mum’s living a life she always wanted. She got her second chance.”
Her lips pressed against his, brief and soft. “And now I have my second chance with you.”
“Happy Christmas, Rose.”
“Happy Christmas, my Doctor.”