The Doctor stared at her with happiness and anticipation, looking relieved and excited at her presence. But Rose felt no surprise at her surroundings; none of this was new. She let out a heavy sigh and felt so tired.
"Hello Rose," the Doctor greeted smiling at her.
"No," she said tiredly crossing her arms and shaking her head. "I can't. I can't do this."
"Rose-" the Doctor started, cautiously, walking towards her slowly.
"No," she said again. "Not today. I can't do it today."
She knew this was a dream. It had happened to her many times in the months since their separation. Usually, she didn't arrive at that conclusion until she woke and found herself not on the TARDIS. But for some reason, she was now fully aware that the TARDIS around and the Doctor in front of her were not real, but just another dream. After being so terribly sad all day that he wasn't with her, she just didn't think she had the strength for this.
She pressed her hands to her head. She couldn't even look at this dream Doctor. It hurt too much and she wished that she had never let herself fall asleep. She'd been miserable at the party but even that was better than this. "I just want to wake up," she quietly to herself.
"Just let me explain," the Doctor requested.
"There's no need," she said flatly, looking at him again. Maybe if she stared at him enough she would see that he wasn't real and be brought to reality sooner. "This isn't real. I'm dreaming. I understand that."
"This isn't just a dream," he insisted looking at her seriously.
"Yes it is. And when I wake up, I'll still be in the wrong universe and you won't be there. My mind will ache and my heart will hurt worse than ever."
The Doctor's face fell. He looked so sad and troubled at her words. That was unusual. When she dreamed of the Doctor he never looked this sad. He looked at her now, like he felt devastated, like his hearts were breaking. It puzzled her how much her words seemed to affect him. Her dreams weren't usually this authentic.
He quickly pulled himself together and pressed on. "You're right; this is a dream. But it is also real."
She was confused. She didn't know how the two could be true at the same time. She realized with a start that she was getting pulled into the dream, almost allowing herself to think it might be real for a second. "This isn't real," she insisted firmly.
"Yes it is."
"No, it isn't!" she cried, looking away from him again. She would not allow herself to believe this was real. If she did then she would be all the more crushed when she woke.
The Doctor walked closer to her and spoke very quietly. "It is...kind of. I promise you."
For some reason, something in his tone caused her pause. He spoke so sincerely and she had always trusted his promises in the past. She wanted to now. "What does that mean?"
"Well, this is a dream. I'm asleep right now in the TARDIS and you are still asleep in the parallel universe. But this conversation is real; we are communicating through the dream. I really am talking to you and you can really talk to me."
It seemed unbelievable. It was unbelievable. But that was kind of the basis of their entire relationship. If anyone could believe that it was possible for two people to communicate through their dreams, across a universe even, it would be her. There would be something wrong with her if she couldn't believe that after everything they'd shared.
"Really?" she asked, hope coming into her words.
"Yes, really," he reassured with a smile.
A sob left her mouth and she covered it with her hand. She quickly smiled through her tears. "It's Christmas. It's Christmas and all I've wanted all day was for you to be here with me."
He smiled warmly at her, looking like he was even more pleased with this encounter and its timing. "Merry Christmas Rose," he said with feeling. "You look very pretty," he said gesturing at her dress.
She glanced down at her dress. The one she had been wearing for the party had carried over into her dream and was what she was wearing now. She had felt kind of silly when her mum had insisted that she get so dressed up for the party. Rose had never been to a fancy party in her whole life and the red sparkly dress with a long skirt had seemed a bit much. But now that she was here with the Doctor and she was able to talk to him and have him see her she was very glad she was dressed up.
"It's for the party. It's the nicest dress I think I've ever had. Mum went all out. We even went to one of those fancy shops and everything," she said blushing and feeling a little embarrassed for getting carried away.
Worry suddenly nagged at Rose. "How long do we have?" she asked.
She remembered, with pain, back to the last time they had spoken and how short their time had been together. She was sad, just thinking this might be over again so soon.
"I don't know," the Doctor admitted. "It depends on how long we both stay in this current stage of sleep. But I imagine it will be longer than two minutes," he said.
She smiled. Even without being mentally connected he still knew her thoughts. "Good. It's…just perfect that you're here today."
She walked closer to him until she was standing just a couple of inches in front of him. "I just can't believe that this is possible," she said in amazement.
"I can't really believe it myself."
She reached a hand up to his face to touch him but she quickly pulled it back. She clearly remembered the last time she had spoken to him and how she had reached out but couldn't touch him. He wasn't really here just as he hadn't been there. This was a dream and she wouldn't be able to touch him.
But his answer surprised her. "It's alright," he assured her. "You can touch me."
"Just try," he said giving her a smile. Oh, that smile. How was it even possible to miss a smile that much?
She reached out a hand and placed it on his face. His skin was warm under her hand and she could feel the short rough stubble growing on his cheek.
"We can't touch telepathically but physically we can," he explained.
"How is this possible?" she asked in astonishment putting her other hand on his face and running her fingers back and forth against his cheeks. She expected the feeling to subside at any moment but it didn't.
"Well, our minds are very powerful things," he said, his statement full of suggestion.
"Yes," she agreed with a mischievous smile. "I am quite aware of that."
"Well, you have the memories of everything you know about me; how I look, how I feel and your mind is constructing it off that. We can't touch mentally because our minds are occupied just creating this entire scenario and really are already touching. They are able to make this a very realistic meeting for us."
She ran her hands down to rest on his shoulders, still mesmerized. The pinstripe suit felt smooth against her skin just as it would in reality. She could feel his heart beat when she ran her hand down his chest to rest on his right heart and even caught whiffs of his scent now and then. It was so real. It wasn't and yet it was. It was everything she needed right now.
The Doctor stepped closer to her, closing the distance between them. She couldn't believe it but she could feel, actually feel it, when his body connected with hers and felt as his arms wrapped around her waist. It was amazing and she looked up to find the Doctor's eyes staring down at her, deep and full of inner emotion.
"Dance with me Rose," he said with passion.
She let out a loaded sigh before she could get ahold of any words. "Of course," she managed to breathe out. Her arms went to encircle around his neck and his were still comfortably wrapped around her waist.
He paused and smiled as a thought came to him. He dramatically snapped his fingers and the interior of the TARDIS around them changed. The lights dimmed but the walls were illuminated by strings and strings of multi colored Christmas lights. A light snow began to fall from the ceiling all around them.
"Tah dah," he said with a flourish of his hands. "It is Christmas after all."
She laughed. "You do know that I know that you can't really do such a thing in real life. You're just thinking it up."
"Hey now," he said in mock offense. "Don't go telling all of my secrets," he said and then smiled, wrapping his arms around her again. "I could imagine us anywhere really; you could too. That is, if this wonderful setting I've created doesn't suffice."
"No," she was quick to say with a shake of her head. "This is exactly where I want to be."
"I guess I'm 'home for Christmas' as you humans would say and I didn't even know it," he said grinning.
"But you're on the TARDIS right now; you never left it," she said confused.
"Yeah, that's right," he said, his voice and face now serious. She stared back at him and though she wasn't inside of his head where she could read his thoughts she knew exactly what he was feeling. He no longer equated being on the TARDIS to being home. She knew that it wasn't home to him without her there. She knew exactly how he felt.
He seemed to sense that she was reading him like a book and shook off the serious mood. With another snap of his fingers music came on. "Here we are some nice traditional Christmas music, perfect for dancing."
She scrunched up her face her face as some very loud hostile music started playing, full of drumbeats and chanting. "That isn't Christmas music," she said with a smile.
"Yes it is," he said with certainty. "Weeeelllll, I say 'Christmas music' but it's as close as they come to Christmas on Haivis 3."
"It sounds so angry."
"Well, the Haivians are a very violent people."
He pulled out his sonic and adjusted the music. This time soft Christmas music from Earth started playing. "I'll be home for Christmas," started to fill the room. She smiled and he looked unsure. "Too cliché?" he asked. "Or is that what humans would call 'sentimental'?"
She leaned into him wrapping her arms around his neck. "You could play anything, even that crazy warrior music and I wouldn't care. I'm just glad to be here with you."
He smiled at her in response and they began to sway gently together.
"So...Christmas? Eh? Is it a white one?" he asked.
"No. Just a sky full of stupid zeppelins."
He laughed slightly and she did too in spite of it all. "How's the dinner?"
"You mean how is my mum's cooking?" she asked giving him a knowing look. "Well, we are having a huge Christmas party. My mum has always had expensive taste. The difference is now she can indulge in it. All of the food is catered so there is none of my mum's cooking."
"What a relief," he teased.
"Hey," she said giving his body a small nudge with her own. "I didn't think our Christmas dinner last year wasn't all that bad."
"No it wasn't" he agreed quietly thinking back to the last Christmas they'd shared together. They were both quiet for a moment as they remembered. He'd just regenerated into this body. They'd just saved the world. They were all together and happy. It seemed like such a long time ago. So many things had happened since then.
"I had a Christmas," he said quietly.
"Yeah?" she asked.
"It was after...after I saw you last. It was that day."
"How was it?"
"It could have been better. I wasn't really in the holiday mood," he said dejectedly. She could tell there was a sad story behind it but she could also tell it wasn't one he wanted to recount right now. Considering how sad that day had been for her as well, she wasn't sure she wanted to press it either.
"So, how did you manage this?" she asked looking around the room again. "I mean, being able to travel through dreams is not something that I remember you mentioning."
"That's because it's not something I knew would be possible."
"Really?" she asked with a curious smile.
"Yes. It is actually a skill I learned from someone else. I met an empath on one of the planets I traveled to and she told me about it," he giving a small sad laugh. "She actually approached me about it. She said she had to come up and speak to me."
Here the Doctor's face darkened a little more. "She said she had to see what was going on and if there was any way she could help because she had never felt anyone who was so brokenhearted."
Rose gave him a comforting squeeze. He said it so off handed but she knew how much he must be hurting, how much he must want comfort, if he was admitting it at all. "Anyway," he said overcoming the emotions. "She was very kind and I actually decided to tell her. I told her about us, how we were bonded, how we were separated and couldn't get back together. That's when she told me about a way of controlling your dreams. She told me it was possible to go into another's dreams and communicate that way. She said it wasn't easy but since we were telepathically linked we would probably have an advantage.
"Even still it wasn't easy. I had to lull myself into a dream state while still remaining aware that I was dreaming; that was the only way to manipulate it. I don't need sleep that often so I didn't have many chances to attempt it. And we both had to be in the same cycle of sleep for it to work, which you can imagine is something that happens even less. I almost managed it, that day when I called out for you. But you woke up just before I made complete contact."
"Wow. I'm so glad it finally worked. I'm so glad I get to talk to you," she said with a smile.
"Me too," he said smiling back at her.
But his smile quickly faded. He couldn't do it any longer. He couldn't pretend to be happy anymore. Though they were not able to speak telepathically, a silent word seemed to pass between them and they both agreed. It did no good to ignore how things really were. They were both hurting and what they needed most was comfort.
"I don't want to go back to the way things were," he said. "Just because we can't touch each other's emotions and thoughts right now doesn't mean we should go back to the days when we weren't transparent. I want to be honest."
"I want that too," she agreed eagerly. "I feel like all I ever do is pretend I'm happy, to make it look like I feel better than I am. You're the only one who can understand. I don't want to keep it from you."
They stopped moving to the music but their hold on each other only tightened. He pulled her even closer to him, one of his arms coming to hold her firm against the back. She wrapped her hand around the back of his neck and pulled his head to hers. The gesture didn't have the usual effect but it was just comforting in itself to be there again.
"I miss you...so much," she said finally allowing the sorrow to come through in her voice.
"I miss you too," he said and she could feel him reach down and place his lips against her temple. This was their most intimate of gestures and she treasured it more than any other. He kissed her ever so slightly and then slowly rubbed his lips back and forth against her skin. Chills shook her body at the touch and she marveled that she could feel it. Her mind burst with memories of all of the times he'd touched her like this and she relived them all quickly all the way back to that very first time. She felt like crying she'd missed this so much.
"Do you hurt?" he asked quietly.
At first she was confused at the question. Of course she hurt. She hurt every day and in every way. In the past few months she had ached more than she ever had in her life and so badly at times she wondered if she could survive it. Was that really what he wanted hear? He had to already know the answer. With a pain in her chest she realized the same would be true for him.
He pulled his lips away from her head and pulled back slightly to look at her. "Our bond?" he said clarifying his question. "Our bond...does it hurt too badly?" he asked and she could tell it was difficult for him have to ask such a question but he really wanted to know.
Our bond. She ached to hear him talk about it. She'd missed even just hearing him speak about their connection. It did hurt her but it also kept her alive. "Yes," she said honestly. Anything else would be a gross lie.
"I'm sorry," he said and it broke her heart to see how sad he was when he said it. But for once he wasn't apologizing that he was the reason she hurt, that he was the one who had made it possible for her to feel this kind of pain. He was apologizing because he wasn't there to take it away.
"I don't mind," she said fiercely pulling her head to briefly touch his again. "Honestly, Doctor I don't mind. Our bond means so much to me...all those times we've had are so special to me. I would experience any amount of pain to have had the privilege of experiencing them. Even if...even if..." she said her voice trailing off, not able to make herself finish the sentence. "Every time I feel it, it reminds I still belong to you...and I need that."
It was apparently exactly what he wanted to hear. He took in a sharp breath and she was sure it was a cry he was trying to contain. He pulled her head down again and kissed her repeatedly on her temple. Even without the effects of their mental bond she still felt dizzy from the all the affection. She had been without it for so long and she needed it so much. She could feel in his actions how much her words had meant to him. She wasn't used to being limited to words alone so she was especially glad that she'd been able to find the right ones. She wished she could pour into him everything she was feeling but for now, she found that words weren't all that bad.
"How are you doing...how are you coping with the separation?" he finally asked.
"I'm managing," she said honestly. "It hurt the most at first. It still does at times. It's the worst when I'm upset, like it always did."
"I should have explained it all to you, just in case, so you would have had a better handle on it."
"Don't worry about it Doctor; I'm figuring it out."
"Of course. I knew you would. My amazing Rose, you are so brilliant," he said with a sad smile. "You always figure it out. I just wish I would have done anything that I could that might have helped. "
She smiled at his compliment but she was sure that there wasn't anything that would have made this terrible separation any better.
"How long did it take?" he asked pained. She knew what he was asking. He was wondering how long it had taken for the pain of their separating to stop.
"I was in bed for the first three days," she admitted. "The pain was so terrible. It was so overwhelming I couldn't do anything else. And I didn't even have the will to want to try and overcome it," she said the words were just spilling out of her now that she finally, finally, had someone who understood what she was feeling. Now that she was with the only one who could understand she wanted him to know. "Nobody understood."
"I do," he said sympathetically, letting her know she wasn't alone in this.
"I know. I know you do," she said so grateful that he did. "You've been through this before," she added sadly.
"That doesn't make it any easier. It never gets easier. Separation is never supposed to happen."
"How bad was it for you?" she asked.
He looked down for a moment before answering. He had an even more difficult time with words than she did. They were both used to an even exchange of themselves in the bond but it was different now that they didn't have a connection that made sharing so much easier. She knew how hard it was for him to express himself in words. She longed to reach into his head and let him speak into her mind so that he wouldn't have to. But that was no longer possible.
He didn't pause long though, perhaps remembering how the last time they'd spoken he'd wasted time and not been able to get all the words out that he had wanted. Whatever it was, something was propelling him to speak honestly. "It was awful," he said, looking into her face again.
Her face twisted in pain and sympathy as she watched him while he talked. "Rose...I may have lost someone I was bonded with before but I have never been through anything like this. I've never been with anyone like you before. Everything was always so emotional with you. Everything was so much more. You were buried so deeply down inside of me, knit so intricately into me...that when you were ripped out of me I felt like my mind was being shredded."
Rose clung to the Doctor, burying her face into the crook of his neck, her arms holding on to him and he held back. "I made it back to the TARDIS in time but then I fell apart. I don't even know how much time passed. I thought I might not survive it."
"I felt the same way," she said painfully but strangely relieved to have someone else in this.
"But I'm going to be alright," he reassured.
"Are you? Are you really? You said you were alone."
"I have the TARDIS and she tries to help in her own way. Like she did before..."
Before us, she thought when he didn't finish.
He cleared his throat before continuing. "You don't even have that."
"Don't worry about me. I have Mum and Pete and Mickey. I'll be fine."
"I just keeping thinking back to that day."
"Me too," she said. Even though she tried not to think of that day she did think of it often. "I keep thinking 'what if.' What if I had just said no to visiting my mum?"
"Rose...It was my idea to go."
"Yes but you suggested it for me. We came back to Earth because of me. I just keep thinking about what would have happened if we weren't there that day."
"We were meant to be there. Think of what would have happened if we hadn't been there."
"I know," she agreed and she did know it. "I just feel like being selfish. I just feel like wishing we hadn't been there, that we could still be together, no matter what the consequences were." She stopped and shook her head. "Listen to me; I'm terrible."
He tilted her head to look at him. "No, you're not. I wish that too sometimes," he said with a slight smile which she returned. "You have no idea how much."
His face turned serious and she knew that he was thinking about something else now. She hated not knowing exactly what he was thinking and not even being able to feel what he was feeling or feel the press of his mind against hers. That was the way things were supposed to be and it frustrated her to her very core that they were not so.
Finally, he spoke, voicing his thoughts. "I sent you away."
Rose felt pressure build up in her chest as she remembered. She couldn't believe it when he had suggested that she go to the other universe and live while he stayed in their universe, separated forever. She remembered telling him "that's not gonna happen." The idea was so preposterous she hadn't even known why he was suggesting it. They were bonded; he knew they couldn't be apart. She had been hurt that he would even suggest they try. Then when he had gone behind her back and made her go away she'd burnt up with rage. He had known how she felt when he'd done that before and yet he'd gone and done it again.
"You begged me not to. That night when we saw the future you begged me not to leave you again. But I did."
"Yeah," she said a catch in in her throat.
"Don't you wonder why?" he asked.
"I did at first. I was really angry with you. But then I felt how afraid you were. I felt it so strongly when I came back after you had tried to send me away. I didn't know what it was for exactly; there was so much going on and I couldn't focus and find out why. But I knew you were terrified of something."
"I told you I didn't know if I could send you away again...after we were bonded I told you I wasn't sure if I could send you away like I had before. I knew how you felt...I knew how it had hurt you when I had done that before but I did do it again."
"So why did you do it then?"
"I saw it," he said heavily as he remembered. "I saw you being pulled into the void...I saw you lost forever. It wasn't until right before I opened the rift," he said and there was a catch in his voice as he remembered. Rose looked up at him with understanding. She wasn't angry anymore. She saw him clench his jaw trying to bite back the emotions that were making tears in his eyes. "It was the most terrible thing I've ever seen," he said looking at her with gravity.
He meant it and they both knew just what that meant. She knew the awful things the Doctor had seen and yet this was what he thought was the worst. "I saw you lost in nothingness...worse than death even; it was a terrible emptiness," he said tears filling his eyes.
"I should have told you then...back when you asked me all that time ago. Rose...I will always send you away if staying with me will result in your death. As bad as this is, this separation...it doesn't compare to what your death would be. I'm sorry. I know you want a choice but I can't help myself."
"Shhh," she said putting a hand on his face. "I know that. I've really known it all along."
"I'm sorry," he said holding her hand to his face with his own and closing his eyes.
"Oh, Doctor," she said shaking her head. "I hope you haven't been thinking all this time that I was angry about that. I feel a lot of things but there is no room for any anger against you."
She pulled his head down to rest on her shoulder and his arms tightened around her, hugging her.
"I never got to tell you that I was proud of you," he said against her.
"Proud of me? For what?"
"What you did that day. When you pushed that lever back in place so the void would stay open."
"What?" she asked surprised. "That's what started all this mess."
"I know," he said pulling back to look at her again. "I know it's what got us separated...but you risked your life. You knew you might get pulled into the void if you risked letting go of that handle but you did it anyway. You saved the world."
She smiled at him. "Guess I learned from the best."
She looked at him and studied his face for a few moments. She thought of all she wanted to say, of everything she had wanted to tell him and share with him in the past five months. She didn't know how much time they would have and as she thought it all over she realized that there was something she needed to ask him above all the rest.
"Doctor…the last time we spoke…"
"Yes?" he asked encouraging her.
"You said it was to say goodbye."
"I thought it would be the last time I would speak to you. I didn't know that we would be able to do this."
"But you also said…" she said but she paused, finding herself getting incredibly emotional as she faced this question that had plagued her since that day. "You said I could never see you again. You said two worlds would fracture. Do you really think that's true?"
She hadn't wanted to think about it; she hadn't been able to face it since the day he'd said it. She had feared he had given up hope on ever being together again. She couldn't stand to think that they were really out of options and that he would one day stop working to find her. But she knew she would have to face this question at some point and since she had him here with her right now she knew it was the best moment to face it.
She held her breath as she waited for his answer. "I don't know Rose," he admitted. "I really don't. That's the way it looks right now. But anything's possible, don't you think?"
"Yes" she agreed wholeheartedly; she was so glad to hear that he felt the same. He did still have hope they might be together, really together, again. He wouldn't give up on finding her.
"Rose, there was something you said the last time we together," he said, his face looking troubled again.
"Yeah?" she asked.
"You said 'I love you.'"
"Yes. You know I do."
"Yes I do," he said smiling. "I want to say-"
"Doctor," she said warning him because she knew where this was going.
"I didn't get to finish."
"I know. You don't have to."
"Rose, I want to say it-"
"Don't. Please don't," she begged shaking her head.
"Why not? Rose, I should have said it so many times. I don't know what I was waiting for."
She closed her eyes and reached one hand to the back of his neck and one hand to grip the lapel on his jacket pulling him close. She pressed her forehead to his and yearned to feel it. She could hear he was hurt. She wanted to comfort him in every way she was capable. As real as this felt the lack of his mind was what reminded her they were separated. "You've already said it. You've already told me. So many times and in so many ways."
"But I never said it out loud."
"I know but...not like this," she whispered, pleading. "Save it. Save it for when we're really together again," she said opening her eyes and looking at him.
As unbearable as living without him was now, it would be impossible if he said those words because if he said them then she would know that he really had given up. If he said them now it would mean he did not believe he would have a chance to say them again. That would mean he felt they would never be reunited again. He had only tried to say it before because he thought it was his last chance to say it; it was the same reason she had said it. If he said it now she would know that he once again, thought this was their last chance.
He looked at her and he could read what she was saying, not from her mind as he was now accustomed to but from her face. They may prefer to read each other from the inside but they still knew each other just as well on the outside. He knew every expression her face could make and what each and every one meant. He pulled her close, holding her against him and reaching a hand up to hold inside of her hair. She longed for what that would do to her if they were telepathically connected.
The music continued to play softly in the background. She concentrated on feeling his body against hers as they swayed only slightly now. She never forgot the way it felt when their bodies touched but she loved having a reminder. Her hands were clutched together behind his back and she rested her head against his shoulder and pressed her face to rest against his neck.
She only wanted to feel every part of her that she could against him. There was so much more she could say and wanted to say but right now she just wanted to be with him more than anything else. It was hard to imagine how much you could ache just to be held by a certain person, just to have them near you, until they were pulled from you. She missed so many things, even grand things that they were capable of together. But she longed for these simple things too.
After a long while he was the one who broke the silence. "I don't understand it."
"What is that?"
"Our time together. I just don't understand it. Even with my Time Lord mind and knowledge of the bonding, I don't understand it."
"What do you mean?" she asked pulling back to look at him.
"I have lived for so many years. Hundreds and hundreds of them. The time we've known each other is so short in comparison; the time we've known each other's minds is even shorter than that. And yet, I see how significant that time is. I can see how its importance dwarfs the rest of that time."
Her mouth dropped open, surprised and overwhelmed by what he was saying.
"We've grown so close so quickly; I know it doesn't feel quick to you but believe me when I say we are falling very fast. Everything with you is different; it is so much more. It changed everything for the better."
Rose didn't know what to say. The Doctor hardly ever said anything like this. The only time he even came close was when the bonding of their minds made him more secure and open. He still didn't say these things out loud. She reached up on her toes and kissed him on the side of his head, tenderly a couple of times, to express herself now that she was the one who was at a loss for words.
She rested back down and looked at him but he glanced away and grimaced slightly. "What's wrong?" she asked.
"I can feel the connection is breaking," he said with regret. "You're starting to wake up."
"No!" she couldn't help but cry out. "I don't want it to be over."
He took both of her hands and squeezed them, trying to reassure her. "It's alright. This was the very best Christmas. I'm so glad I was able to spend it with you," he said bravely, smiling at her.
"I will get back to you," she said with determination. "I will find a way. We will make a way. We must."
He looked at her fondly. "If there is anyone in the universe who can do the impossible I know it's you."
She smiled back at him. "Merry Christmas" she said.
"Thank you...so much for this. See you soon," she said with confidence and a smile on her face with her last glimpse of him.
When Rose woke the first thing she was aware of, before she even opened her eyes, was her mind. It was no longer hurting. And for the first time in months, the first time since she'd lost the Doctor, it wasn't because it had just stopped searching; this time it was because it was satisfied. The slightest brush across the distance from him had relieved it. She smiled as she sighed and opened her eyes.
She stayed where she was on the bed, staring out the window. The Christmas lights that hung around the window were glowing brighter as it was getting darker outside. She replayed her Christmas gift, her meeting with the Doctor, over and over again, intent on memorizing every word and move of their unlikely but spectacular encounter.
She had only been awake for a few minutes when she heard the door open. She glanced over to find her mum popping her head in the room. "There you are," Jackie said with a smile as she saw Rose.
"What are you doing in here?" Jackie said coming over to the bed and sitting down beside Rose.
"I was tired. Just wanted to take a nap."
"Are you feeling alright?" Jackie asked with slight concern, putting a hand to Rose's forehead.
Rose smiled. "Yeah. I'm better now," she said and for the first time since she'd arrived in this universe it wasn't a lie.
"You do look happy," Jackie said, relief just barely in her voice. Rose could see that her mum worried about her.
"I had a good dream," Rose said simply, not elaborating on it, but mulling over the full significance of it to herself.
The lines from the song that had been playing when she danced with the Doctor replayed now in her mind. I'll be home for Christmas, if only in my dreams. She smiled; how true those words were right now. Today she had been home though it had only been in a dream. But one day she was certain, now more than ever before, that it would be real and permanent. Being able to speak to the Doctor again had seemed impossible before today but he'd found a way for them. Being reunited seemed impossible now but she knew they would find a way for that too. Her and the Doctor would find each other again and they would continue this spectacular journey they had started until they had grown completely together.
A/N: Thank you for reading "I'll Be Home." Continue reading about the Doctor and Rose's journey in the next and final in this series "Awakening."