Author's Notes: This is a small and rather trivial vignette based on the new series of Doctor Who, and is set after Episode 13 (so there are spoilers). The thought just occurred to me that Rose must feel incredibly awkward by the end of the series, when she is faced with a new Doctor after she's had such a strong relationship with the old one. This piece is nothing much, but I thought I'd have a go at writing about Rose's feelings and thoughts following "The Parting of the Ways", including a small talk she has with the new Doctor. It's my first attempt at any Doctor Who fiction, and I'm also relatively new to the franchise - before the new series, all I'd ever seen was one of the Cushing movies, and that was some time ago - but it's all in the name of fun, so don't take it seriously or ought; the first episode of the next series of the new Who might wipe this out of possibility, anyway. :) And if I've paraphrased my quotes, I'm sorry, too!
I guess this is also something of a tribute to Christopher Eccleston's fantastic Doctor, because I know I shall miss profoundly in the next series. He was awesome.
Edit: I've corrected at least one misquote as of July 1st.
Death was the Doctor's only companion - that was what Rose had been told at the start. And it was true. Look at what had happened. She had become the Doctor's companion, tried to save him at the last, and had thence been his death; the Doctor had been struck down by the Bad Wolf. And yet he wasn't dead, really, was he? He had changed, or 'regenerated' as he had explained afterwards. He was the same Doctor.
"And yet so different…" Rose murmured. She was sat upon a small bed in a room she liked to call her own, one of the many hidden away within the myriad of passages of the TARDIS.
She stared at the wall, unseeing, whilst she tried to collect her thoughts and clear her mind. The trip to Barcelona (the planet not the city) had been a subdued affair, with the Doctor steering her about the place and taking on the role of talkative tourist guide; if he had noticed her dejected nature throughout the excursion, he had chosen not to say so. Perhaps he thought it had been for the best, but Rose wasn't sure what to think. Things were only now coming back to her, flashes of those lost memories from that last battle against the Daleks, and her mind was currently fraught with a million different thoughts and fears. She could see so many faces before her, of all those people that must have died, faces that she was never again to see… all those Gamestation workers, that Lynda (with a 'Y'), and what about Jack…? For some reason, she had a feeling that she might see Jack again one day, but right now, all she could think about was the Doctor, the Doctor that she would never again see…
'Have a good life, Rose. Have a fantastic life.'
She wiped away the tear from her face and collapsed back onto her bed with a weak sigh. She had never felt so lost in her life, never so confused. How could a man change and still be the same? It was impossible.
'It means I'm gonna change. And I'm not gonna see you again. Not like this.'
What was she supposed to do now? How was she meant to feel? The Doctor was still the Doctor, yes, but he wasn't her Doctor.
'I want you safe… my Doctor… protected from the false God'
She rubbed her eyes; had she really said that? That big blank space in her memory was slowly beginning to refill itself, so the events from when Mickey had helped tear off that panel in the TARDIS to when she had woken up in the TARDIS again with the Doctor were beginning to reintroduce themselves to her - all the sounds, images and words she knew she had heard and seen, yet not registered, all reappearing in her mind; hundreds of broken reveries reforming themselves like puzzle pieces collating of their own free will.
And all this proved to be more terrifying than anything else - to suddenly remember the great, gelatinous body of the Dalek Emperor on the screen before her, to remember herself and the Doctor surrounded by deadly Daleks, to think how easily it all could have ended there… how they could have both been exterminated in a single blast. But the one thing that scared her most, out of all of this, wasn't the hoards of murderous Daleks or their Emperor, but the Bad Wolf. She had scared herself. She had commanded such an overwhelming energy at that moment, such an incredible power, and had thus made herself, however temporarily, into something of a deity. Now that was frightening, and she could recall it all now, in that moment of raw and terrifying emotion, standing there before the Doctor with the swirls of time and space flaring through her mind. She hardly gave the Daleks a second glance as she scattered them into dust and tossed them throughout time and space, just so she could protect the Doctor; nothing else had mattered. She could remember looking into his eyes and hearing his voice, and of wanting nothing more than to shield him from harm, at whatever cost. And she could easily have died there and then had not the Doctor come, once again, to her rescue…
'The power's going to kill you and it's my fault'
"But it wasn't your fault," she whispered as she stared at the ceiling above her bunk. The hole in her heart was massive, and she couldn't shake the feeling of loss and devastation, though she knew she should feel elated; the Doctor was alive and well, after all, but… well, it was just so difficult. The face was different. The man was different. She had no objections to him at all, but he had changed, even though his name and his cause in life were the same, and she didn't know how to act around him. Could he remember everything that had happened? What facets of him had changed, and what hadn't? Did he feel just as awkward around her as she now felt around him? He didn't seem to be anything other than cheerful right now, but being flippant and burying his feelings was what the Doctor did. Or at least the old one…
'Who was the same one' Rose's mind told her, but she closed her eyes and willed the thought away.
'Come here. I think you need a doctor'
She smacked the wall and swung her legs over the edge of the bed, leaning over the side of the bunk with her head in her hands as she unleashed yet more confused tears. God, she had kissed him, hadn't she? Or rather he had kissed her, to save her life and to show her the strength of his affection for her; they had both finally given in to their emotions, forging a chain between them that even space and time could not break. My God… what if Mickey found out? Or, worse, what if mum found out?
She almost smiled - how did mum get in here? And Mickey, bless his heart. They had both helped her get back to the Doctor, despite everything, and despite her pretty much shrugging them both off in his favour.
'There's nothing left for me here'
How arrogant and cold-hearted that must have sounded. She could almost hit herself now she was thinking more clearly. Mickey and her mum had suffered so much because of her, and yet… she couldn't allow herself to stay back at home in London with a dead-end job and a dead-end life just to please them, because it wouldn't please her; she couldn't just go back to living as she had before without feeling frustrated, without knowing that there was so much more.
She had had so much more, but now it had been disrupted and distorted , and she wasn't sure how to look at things now. Where could she start picking things up? How could she? And how would she ever explain to her mother and Mickey that this new Doctor was the old one… only different?
"They'll never buy it…" she murmured at first, until it hit her that, after everything that had occurred, all the time travel and alien encounters, surely this wasn't beyond their understanding?
She opted to stop her moping around and to do something constructive, so she got to her feet, threw a red sporty jacket round her shoulders, and returned to the control room of the TARDIS. As she got there and walked toward the central column, she saw the Doctor, stood there holding his leather jacket at arm's length and looking it up and down. "Hello Rose," he said without glancing over. "Feeling better?"
She swallowed and folded her arms over her chest in a resigned manner, before she simply shook her head. "No…" she confessed. "I just can't get used to this… there's so much to come to terms with."
He nodded, his eyes sneaking a glance at her before he held the jacket against his chest and turned to her. "It's not really me anymore, is it?"
Rose looked at the jacket and felt her eyes well up. She wiped her sleeve quickly over her face, casting away the unshed tears, before she offered the Doctor a faint smile and shook her head. "No… not really."
The Doctor pursed his lips and looked at it again. "I'm not tough enough, am I?"
Rose smiled a little more widely. "You do seem to be a little less…"
"You were never hunky."
He looked disappointed. "Wasn't I?"
Rose shook her head.
"Hmm… more monkey than hunky, I suppose."
Rose allow herself a small chuckle and rolled her eyes. "You were never anything in the way of 'monkey', either," she said.
He flashed her a charming smirk before he flung the jacket in her direction, and watched her catch it. "You can keep it, if you like," he said.
Rose looked down at it as though it were some great talisman, and she felt honoured to have acquired it; she involuntarily ran her thumbs over the soft but worn leather, but this only served to further sink her already low spirits, and her arms sagged under the weight of it - not so much of the jacket but of what it represented to her.
"Well, I might reconsider giving it to you if it's going to make you do that," the Doctor thus joked as he watched her react so glumly. He then perched himself on the edge of the TARDIS's consoles and continued to look over at her.
Rose tried to appear pleased, because she was, but she failed miserably. "I'm sorry," she sighed, "it's just…"
The Doctor reverted to a more serious mood and nodded his head. "You need time," he said as he clasped his hands together in his lap. "I understand." He then pursed his lips once more and stared downwards. "Hmm… Ironic, isn't it? I'm a Time Lord, and you need time, but I can't give it to you. As is life, I suppose."
Rose smiled again and walked to his side, before she hauled herself onto the console next to him. "Life's a bitch and then you die," she said. "Or so my mum used to say… it wasn't something she ever said to my face, but… well, you overhear things when you're a kid."
The Doctor smiled again. "What a quaint phrase… life's a what?"
"Ah. A female canine." He looked nonplussed. "Makes sense."
"Yeah… like a big, bad, lady wolf…" Rose murmured, saying the words without thinking.
The Doctor's bright features faded a little as he absorbed this, but he didn't say anything. He just observed her closely as she began to take off her red jacket and replace it with the big, leather one. It was far too large for her, but she revelled in its feel, and hugged herself tightly within it whilst she kicked her heels against the surface below.
"Doctor," Rose said at length, though she continued to stare away, "Can I ask you something?"
"I'm sure you can," he replied, leaping off the console and taking up a seat opposite her so he could see her more clearly. "And you're welcome to ask away, too."
She looked straight into his eyes at that point and was heartened by his smile and pleasant demeanour. Glancing up to the ceiling of the TARDIS for a moment, she then asked quietly, "What do you remember? From before?"
"From before what?"
She blinked a little, certain that this was obvious. "Before you…" She waved her hand at him, trying to find the word, but was unable to.
The Doctor frowned until it clicked. "Oh, regenerated?"
She nodded. "Yes. That."
He placed his hands together before his lips and sucked in a long breath, before he replied, "Well, I can remember pretty much everything from before - from before this regeneration, from before the previous one, and from the one before that.…"
Rose looked stunned. "You've done it before?"
She swallowed again, eyes darting about. How many Doctors had there been? It made her mind spin to think that there could have been so many other versions of the Doctor, each the same, yet different. Who had he been before her Doctor? Who might he be next, if it came to that?
"It's a little difficult for you to grasp, I suppose," the Doctor said, as if he was reading her very thoughts. "It's not easy for me either, you know. It's rather strange waking up again with a different face, a different voice, and with different feelings… different perceptions."
Different feelings. Different perceptions. She swallowed again.
"I know I'm not the same," he continued, "But I'm not so different, either."
Rose offered him another weak smile and clung even more tightly to her leather jacket.
"I would have died if I hadn't regenerated, Rose."
She nodded quickly. "I know, I'm not complaining, but…"
The Doctor rose his eyebrows curiously. "But--?"
"But if you had let me die, then--"
He seemed rather shocked to hear this. "Oh, Rose, do you think I could have?"
She turned her eyes back to the floor and heaved a great sigh.
"You saved me," he explained, "and I had to save you, too. Your life is worth so much more than that."
Rose eventually plucked up enough courage to look into his eyes again, and they stared at each other for a while.
"I know this is awkward, more so for you than for me," the Doctor continued at length, "but give it time. I may not be the Doctor you loved, but I'm still the Doctor."
She felt her stomach lurch a little, and she felt suddenly guilty, too. "I didn't mean to offend you or anything…" she mumbled.
"Offend me?" he asked with a full burst of enthusiasm, jumping onto his feet and pacing vigorously around the TARDIS. "You couldn't possibly."
She smiled slowly. "You want to bet?"
The Doctor grinned widely back at her, accepting the challenge, and suddenly, Rose saw it there, the parallels between the old and the new. For a moment, she saw the pale blue eyes and the cropped hair of the old Doctor, all mingled in with the dissimilar features of the man before her, and she felt suddenly buoyed up by this small but significant moment.
"I'm always up for a challenge," the Doctor said at last, waggling a finger at her.
Rose slipped off the console and faced the man head-on. "Fantastic," she replied, and she and the Doctor shared a smile.