After three weeks, Mickey wished he'd never come on the TARDIS. He'd known Rose wasn't his girl when she'd stood on the playground and told him there was nothing for her on the Estate. He'd known she loved the Doctor when she'd been devastated by his regeneration.
But he hadn't known they were properly together.
Seeing them cuddled together watching telly, or catching them stealing a kiss in the galley while they made breakfast… Every day on the TARDIS reminded him that Rose had moved on to something better.
Rose's apologetic glances stung, too. He didn't need her protecting him… though he didn't know if he wanted to see her in a full-on snog with the Doctor, either.
Mickey rolled his eyes as he pressed down on the button the Doctor had shown him. But the kisses and tender looks weren't the worst part about being their third wheel.
Sitting beside Rose in the jump seat, the Doctor gestured wildly as he reminded her of some adventure. "And that weird munchkin lady with the big eyes? Do you remember—the way she looked at you! And then she opens her mouth and fire comes out!"
Rose laughed and put her hand on his leg. "I thought I was going to get frazzled!"
"Yeah. One minute she's standing there, and the next minute roar!"
Mickey could handle kisses and tender looks, but the way they got lost in their own world was too much. Time to find my own something better.
On a hill overlooking Battersea Power Plant, the Doctor laid out the plan they'd just agreed to. "We attack on three sides. Above, between, below. We get to the control centre, we stop the conversion machines."
"What about me?"
The Doctor blinked and looked at Mickey. "Mickey. You can…" He tugged on his ear.
"What, stay out of trouble? Be the tin dog?" Mickey shook his head. "No, those days are over. I'm going with Jake."
Jake, still grieving for Ricky, scowled at him. "I don't need you, idiot."
"I'm not an idiot!" Mickey shouted. "You got that? I'm offering to help."
The Doctor held his breath as timelines shifted.
"Whatever," Jake muttered, then stomped off towards the zeppelin, Mickey hot on his heels.
"Mickey," the Doctor called out. "Good luck."
Mickey's smile was surprised. "Yeah, you too. Rose, I'll see you later."
"Yeah, you'd better," Rose answered, her voice light.
"If we survive this, I'll see you back at the TARDIS," the Doctor told him.
"That's a promise." Mickey nodded, then turned around and followed Jake.
The Doctor looked at Rose. She'd taken the most dangerous part of the plan on herself, but there was no way to talk her out of it. Instead, he brought her close with a hand on her waist and kissed her.
The kiss was far too brief, and when he pulled back, three words were on the tip of his tongue. "Good luck," he said instead.
Rose kissed his hand, then walked away.
Rose sat at the kitchen table while her mum filled the kettle and got two mugs out of the cabinet. The Doctor had returned to the TARDIS after supper, so it was just the two Tyler women, getting ready to have their nighttime cuppa.
The normalcy of the routine reminded Rose of her conversation about a bedtime cuppa with the parallel Jackie, and she swallowed back tears. There'd been enough crying today.
The kettle went off, and Jackie poured boiling water into the waiting mugs. "So I see himself finally got his act together."
Her mum rolled her eyes as she brought the tea and milk over. "Don't even try to tell me you're not like that, sweetheart. The little kiss on your cheek before he took that box of his down to the street where it belongs?" She sniffed. "Have to admit, that was sweet."
"Oh." Rose poured milk into her tea. "Yeah, we're properly together now. Have been for… oh, almost two months." She took a sip of her tea and remembered the trip to paradise where the Doctor had kissed her for the first time.
"Well, he isn't what I imagined for you," her mum said. "But he obviously makes you happy, if that smile is any indication."
Rose stiffened and stared down at her tea, her stomach in knots. She hadn't even known she was smiling. I am a horrible friend. "I've gotta go," she muttered, jumping to her feet and running from the flat.
The Doctor looked up in surprise when Rose burst into the TARDIS, her eyes wild. He held out his arms in invitation and she fell into them willingly. His hearts constricted when her tears soaked his shirt. "Come on, love," he whispered. "Let's sit down."
She nodded against his chest, and he led her to the jump seat. She immediately curled up in his lap, and the Doctor wrapped his arms tight around her.
Rose played with his tie. "It's my fault Mickey left." She swiped at the fresh tears welling up in her eyes. "He felt like he didn't matter anymore, so he went someplace where he was needed."
The Doctor pulled Rose close. "It isn't our fault Mickey left, Rose. This was something he needed to do for himself."
He nodded. "And it's something that had to happen. I felt timelines snap in place when he ran after Jake."
"Yep." The Doctor hesitated, then asked, "What brought this on, anyway?"
She sighed. "Mum asked about us—you and me," she clarified. "She knows, by the way."
"Oh, she does?"
Rose smirked when his voice squeaked. "Yep. Thinks you're sweet."
That… that was probably good. "Okay…"
"And… I remembered our first kiss under the ciamanto ciel, and for a moment, I forgot about Mickey."
Ah. The Doctor smiled tenderly at Rose. "You can still be happy, even though Mickey's gone."
Rose rested her head on his shoulder. "Good. Because I don't think I could stop."
The Doctor's hearts stopped when he saw the newest victim. Even with her face covered, he recognised her—only a few hours ago, Rose had been on the jump seat, teasing him with glimpses of her legs as she put on those pink heels.
He dropped the police file and walked towards her in a daze as the officer revealed her blank face. No brown eyes twinkled up at him, no cheeky tongue teased him with her smile.
"You know her?" Detective Inspector Bishop asked.
"Know her? She…" His voice trailed off and he cupped her jaw tenderly, just as he had her unfinished statue months ago. He swallowed back tears when she didn't nuzzle into his hand. His Rose was gone; this was just her body.
Slowly, the conversation between the police officers filtered into his brain. "They did what?" he asked, his voice hoarse.
"I'm sorry?" asked Bishop.
"They left her where?" the Doctor demanded.
"Just… in the street."
"In the street." Anger powered the storm brewing in his mind. "They left her in the street. They took her face and just chucked her out and left her in the street. And as a result, that makes things simple. Very, very simple. Do you know why?" He took off his glasses and turned around.
"Because now, Detective Inspector Bishop, there is no power on this Earth that can stop me. Come on!"
He squeezed her hand before leaving the room. I'm coming to get you, Rose.
The Doctor still hadn't conquered the last of his fear as he ran alongside Tommy back towards Florizel Street. Even though he knew his device had worked, had seen the red crackle of electricity pull back from London as the Wire was defeated, he wouldn't believe all was well until he saw Rose's face.
Tommy burst around the last corner, but the Doctor slowed, scanning the street for familiar blonde hair. It seemed like forever passed before a flash of pink caught his eye, and the air escaped his body on a loud whoosh.
Perhaps sensing his presence, Rose looked at him, and at the sight of her wide smile, he sped up to an almost-run. Rose threw her arms around his neck when he picked her up. "Oh, I missed you," he whispered as he spun her around. "I missed you so much."
The need to see her face again overpowered his need to hold her close, and he set Rose back on her feet. Her eyes fluttered closed when he ran his fingers down the sweep of her nose and over her cheekbones, and the Doctor shook his head. "Open your eyes for me, love," he whispered. "I need to see…"
He couldn't finish the sentence, but the compassion in her eyes when she looked at him told him he didn't need to. "Oh, Rose. I thought I'd lost you."
She took his hand and kissed it. "I'm still here, Doctor. I'm not letting forever go that easily."
The bed they were given on the Sanctuary Base was narrow, meant for only one. But after losing the TARDIS, cuddling as close to Rose as possible was a welcome comfort.
"You'll find her," Rose whispered, echoing what the timelines were telling him.
The Doctor turned them carefully so they were on their sides, facing each other. He brushed a strand of hair out of her face, then leaned forward and kissed her.
Rose's lips parted on a sigh, and the Doctor deepened the kiss, slipping his tongue into her mouth. Her hands twined in his hair as he flicked his tongue against the roof of her mouth, and he was seized by a desperation he rarely felt when kissing Rose—a need for more, to never stop, to just lose himself in her.
As he trailed kisses along her jawline, laving at a spot on her neck that drew a sharp moan of pleasure from her, he moved his hand to the small of her back and pulled her closer. Rose hooked a leg over his hip, and they sucked in a breath when she brushed against his growing erection.
"Doctor… is this—are we…"
The Doctor's Adam's apple bobbed as he nodded. "It's not what I imagined for our first time," he admitted, "but I would like to make love with you here, tonight. If you want," he added quickly.
Rose shifted closer and the Doctor groaned when she rubbed herself against him. "Oh, I want," she whispered.
"Don't go!" Ida pleaded.
He licked his lips. He had to go—they'd covered that already. But he could leave a message for Rose. "If they get back in touch, if you talk to Rose, just tell her." His throat closed up. He knew what he wanted to tell her, but he wanted to see her eyes light up when she heard those words for the first time. Tell her… that I let go of the rope, but not of our forever."
On the surface, Rose held her breath as she listened for the Doctor's voice. "Are you there, Doctor?" she asked a second time. He has to be there. He promised I could spend the rest of my life with him.
A band tightened around Rose's chest when she heard Ida's voice. An answer, finally, but not the one she was looking for.
Rose shook her head. "What do you mean, he's gone?"
"He fell into the pit. And I don't know how deep it is. Miles and miles and miles."
Rose's hand clenched, even though she knew she couldn't pull him back. "But what do you mean, he fell?"
"I couldn't stop him. He said to tell you that he was only letting go of the rope, not of forever."
A sob choked Rose, and she dropped the mic. Through the roaring in her ears, she heard Zach tell Ida they were leaving.
She straightened her back. Well I'm not going anywhere. Not without the Doctor.