…and the for the rest…
Rose couldn't sleep. She was exhausted, but she couldn't relax enough to fall asleep. There was some part of her that felt that something was missing, and she thought that it probably was the Doctor. Even if it had only really been a few days, she still felt like it had been much, much longer that they'd been married. She could remember it all, even if it was starting to fade and she could pretty much always identify which memories were her real ones and which ones were induced. However her body seemed to have a little more difficulty adjusting; it remembered falling asleep to the Doctor every night for two years - usually after very good sex...
Deciding that no good was going to come from trying to get some rest she climbed out of bed, pulled on her robe and went in search of a drink and possibly the Doctor. There was still a question that was bothering her.
Jack was in the kitchen, staring into a cup of tea as though it might offer all the answers of the universe. Rose was familiar with the action; travelling with Doctor sometimes prompted the need to find answers, or even questions, in the strangest of places. She moved over and took Jack's cup out of his hands, making him blink up at her in surprise.
Rose grimaced. "It's cold!" she protested, her fingers curling around the cup, her nose crinkling in disgust. Without further thought she tipped Jack's tea down the sink, noticing the Doctor's favourite cup draining. She didn't say anything, but refilled the pot. While she was waiting for it to brew she turned around to look at Jack - they hadn't been alone together since waking, and the few brief moments they'd both been conscious in the same room had hardly been times for reunion. Now, though she took a good look at him; he hadn't changed much in the time she'd last seen him. Maybe a bit thinner, but then they all were thanks to the experiment, and there were maybe a couple more lines around his eyes and mouth, but only if you looked closely. The biggest change was in the way his shoulders slumped and his eyes were a little dull. Rose attributed it to exhaustion and hoped that was all it was.
He'd been studying her as hard as she'd been studying him, and when their gazes met again his lips curled up slightly, his whole posture lightening so that she could easily see her best friend. She rushed over to him and he stood, pulling her into a tight hug.
"I missed you so much!" she mumbled into his shoulder, and his arms gripped her almost painfully, but she was sure she was holding him just as tightly. The universe was filled with many amazing things, but Rose'd learned the hard way that the dead didn't just come back to life. She had Jack with her, and she didn't ever want to let him go again.
Lips pressed against the top of her head and she felt him trembling, felt the way her tears were making his shirt damp. It was a long, long time before either of them pulled away, and when they did, it wasn't only far enough to be able to look at each other again. Jack quickly pressed a hard kiss to her lips, but not before she could see the tears that marked his face.
"Missed you too," he told her and she heard the relief in his tone. Somehow she thought that he hadn't said the words to the Doctor, even if he meant them, but Jack's relationship with the Doctor had always been more complex than his with her. But then everything with the Doctor was more complex, it kind of went without saying.
She brushed at the drying tears on his cheeks, and he detached her fingers, bringing them to his lips and kissing the tips lightly. She'd missed this too, the way he touched. Sexual, yes, because so much about Jack was sexual, but not in the demanding, threatening, or even pleading way she'd get back home. It just was Jack.
Hugging him again, she pulled away to check on the tea, before her tears spilled over again. The pot had cooled considerably, but not enough for Rose to be bothered with making a new one, so she poured them both a cup. For a while she let herself be carried away listening to some of his stories about what he'd been doing since they'd seen each other last.
"Torchwood?" she asked, prompting a point he was glossing over in the middle of telling her what he'd been doing in Cardiff, 2007. That sounded familiar, but she couldn't work out where it was from.
"You don't want to know," Jack told her.
"Yeah, I do." Where had she heard it? Where? Where? Something to do with Queen Victoria pricked the back of her memory, but she couldn't say why just yet. She left it simmering and tried to question Jack further, but he was very close-lipped on what his job had been and just what Torchwood did. Of course that didn't seem to stop describing some of his bigger escapades to her in great (and probably exaggerated) detail.
Finally, he said goodnight, rinsed his cup and left without telling her anymore about Torchwood, but looking much more cheerful than she'd seen him yet. Rose was pleased, if a little frustrated, and not at all sleepy. There was still another mystery that needed solving.
She rinsed her own cup out and stacked all three in the dishwasher before trotting off in search of the Doctor.
Footsteps alerted the Doctor to Rose's approach, and it seemed that neither of his companions were going to get much sleep in the near future. Carefully he slid the piece of thin card he'd been turning over into his pocket, unsure of how much he was willing to share, even with Rose, about his past. She was so, so very important to him, and there were so very many things in that past that could scare her away, would scare most humans away.
"You should be asleep," he told her as she entered the control room, not looking up from where he was pretending to study the console.
"Can't sleep," she answered, coming up to stand beside him, looking directly at him. He kept his eyes off her.
"I can give you something for that if you like," he offered.
Out of the corner of his eye, he saw her grimace. "No thanks." She appeared to be thinking something over so he didn't say anything, just hoped that when she decided to ask it wasn't something he couldn't answer. After a moment she took his hand, lacing her warm fingers through his own, and leaned her head against his shoulder.
"Doctor," she said after a while, "who is Susan Foreman?"
He drew away from her sharply, putting some space between them. Speaking of questions he didn't want to answer...
Rose moved from one foot to another, clearly trying to decide whether or not to pursue her train of thought. With any luck, she'd drop it; but then she wouldn't be Rose Tyler if she didn't say anything.
"It's just that you were so desperate to remember her. I wondered..."
"She's no one. She doesn't exist." The name was just one she used to fit in, to make people think she was human. Well, Susan wasn't, but Foreman had been, after that junk yard the TARDIS had stayed in. Not that it mattered anymore, because name or no name, she really didn't exist, just like every other Gallifreyan.
"She was one of your people, wasn't she?" the ever-perceptible Rose asked. Gently, very gently, as if she was afraid he might break, that part of him certainly was objecting to. "Did she travel with you?"
The Doctor fought the urge to shake his head, because Rose would misinterpret the motion and he didn't ever want her to believe something untrue. About this anyway. Instead he drew in a deep breath and slid his hand into his pocket, removing the piece of card he'd put in there earlier, and holding it out to Rose, who took it and turned it over.
"She's my granddaughter."
It wasn't much. A grainy black and white school picture taken in bad light. Once he'd had several taken with superior technology from a thousand different worlds, from Gallifrey, from various periods on Earth. For some reason, this was the only one that had survived the Time War, this poor-quality photograph taken by a substandard photographer at Coal Hill School in 1963. But Susan had adored it.
Years later, after Susan was gone, after Ian and Barbara had returned home, he'd realised why. Susan loved the picture simply because it was a reminder of how happy she'd been. She'd loved going to school in 20th century London, loved her studies, the people she met, her teachers... It'd been the first placed they'd ever stayed more than a few weeks as well, and the first, possibly the only time he'd seen her both happy and young. Really, he'd been a terrible guardian - dragging his granddaughter all over time and space - and in the centuries since, he'd hardly improved.
His current companion, who had, if anything, gotten the worst deal out of everyone, was looking at him in the deepest sympathy. He knew that look, and knew it well, even if he hadn't seen it much since he regenerated. The expression that said she could see what he'd lost, and she hurt for him. She'd lost her world once too, even if he'd shown her afterwards that it wasn't really real, even if later he'd taken her and shown her that humans would go on in one way or another until the end of time. She'd held her father's hand as his life had trickled out of him. She'd watched her best friend explode in a ball of light to become someone else. The sympathy she felt was real and she reached out and grasped his hand again.
Still, in her eyes, he could see questions. 'Granddaughter' was such a powerful word, because it implied so very much. Granddaughter meant daughter, son, child, marriage, love, sex, family. Granddaughter meant that at some point he'd had an anchor, a place that was called home. Somewhere more than a planet, somewhere more than a TARDIS. Someone other than her.
I lost my entire family and you think it never occurred to me to go back and save them?
He didn't want to tell her about Susan, about any of it. So when she didn't ask the questions, he didn't bother to elaborate.
Rose passed the picture back to him, and he slid it back into his pocket. "She's very pretty," she said. The words were meant as comfort but they were also honest. That was Rose, so very human in her need to reach out and touch the people around her that were hurting. He, on the other hand, fought the very Gallifreyan urge to lash out or back away.
How can you say that? He wanted to ask. She was beautiful, but this picture doesn't begin to show that. "Yes, she was."
"She's gone, isn't she?" Rose asked. "With the rest?"
He nodded. There was no point in explaining what had happened. It was enough that Rose knew about the Time War and the devastating effect it had had. She'd been there, stood on Satellite Five as they prepared for the Dalek's invasion of Earth, not knowing how many times he'd seen it before, not knowing how painfully close the situation had brought his memories of Susan. Then she'd stopped it all.
My Rose. My beautiful, brilliant Rose. You saved the world, and you saved it for me.
The possessiveness was nothing new. His desire for Rose was nothing new. The knowledge of what it might be like to give into both, however, was entirely new. She'd been his wife. Completely his, as he was hers, and in many ways that was more attractive than even sex, because for the first time in a long while he'd belonged to someone.
And that was dangerous. Dangerous for everyone. But especially for Rose.
He could, would, and did love Rose. That wasn't an issue, would never be an issue, but he would never take it further than the deep friendship that they already shared. And he could live with that. Right now he was still suffering from the after-effects of the drugs and hypnosis that the Jenn had forced him through. Once he'd managed to purge it from his system it would be much easier for him.
Now he looked up into Rose's eyes and he didn't know what she saw, but she stepped closer to him and pulled him into her arms, holding him tightly against her. Despite all his reservations, he relaxed into the hug, wrapping his arms around her, and resting his head on top of hers. She smelled like the Rose he'd fallen asleep next to every night for two years.
So he kissed her. She relaxed into his arms completely, responding immediately and then deepening the kiss, opening her mouth and trying to encourage him to do the same. And he wanted to, like he'd wanted few things in his life, but he couldn't. Breaking this kiss, he stepped back, putting distance, air and hopefully some clarity between them.
"We can't do this, Rose," he said and heard the regret in his own voice.
"Then stop," she snapped. "Please stop doing this to me."
"It's not fair," he agreed.
Something must have changed in his expression or tone that he was unaware of, because Rose's face softened and she stepped closer to him, clearly intending on giving him another hug. He held up his hand and took half a step back, his legs bumping into the console. If she came any closer right now, if she touched him, he wasn't sure he would be able to stop himself from going further, and he needed to make sure that this never happened - for both their sakes. Hurt flickered through Rose's eyes and he cringed inwardly, but she was right, he couldn't keep sending her mixed signals, not until their relationship had settled back into something nearer to what it had been.
More to distract himself than with any real intent, he turned to the console and began checking readings. Rose came to stand beside him, close, but not quite touching, and he was grateful for that. As much as he wanted her to slip her hand into his, this was (slightly) less distracting.
"Where're we going?" she asked. And he took the opening she was handing him on a plate.
"Where do you want to go next?" he asked. "Past? Future? Earth? Halfway across the universe? To the edge of the stars? On the straight and narrow? Or off to the side - stop and smell the roses? Though I suppose you wouldn't need to, with a name like yours." He offered her his best smile, the one that tried to promise the wonders of the cosmos, despite usually ending up defeating the dangers of the cosmos instead.
She managed a smile in return, that was almost as bright as her usual one that appeared at the promise of adventure. "Future. Somewhere with good music."
And alcohol. Lots of alcohol, he decided. Enough to get even him good and drunk.
"Right of course – dancing. You like to dance! And who doesn't – dancing is so much fun!" He hid the wince, because of course there was dancing and then there was dancing, and he knew it very well. If she was affected, though, he couldn't tell, and Rose wasn't one to hide her emotions. "We'll go in the morning."
"And then, can we go back to Earth - just for a bit. I just want to see my mum."
Of course she did. She'd believed her mother was dead and had been rather distraught by it. Her conscious mind telling her Jackie Tyler was dead and had been for years, her sub-conscious mind telling her that Jackie was meant to be alive. He was half-surprised that she hadn't wanted to go there first, to see her mother with her own eyes, before going anywhere else.
"You need only to ask, Rose, you know that," he told her sincerely. At least he hoped she did. He'd go anywhere she wanted, no matter what.
"Yeah," she said, then yawned. "I'd better go back to bed."
"'Night, Rose," he said obediently.
Much to his surprise, she stood up on tiptoes and kissed his cheek. "'Night, Doctor." Then, dressing gown swirling behind her, she was off down the corridor, leaving him staring after her.
After a moment, he sprang into action. "Future. Music. Dancing. And alcohol, mustn't forget the alcohol."
Notes: I finished it! See my big grin! My first ever long WIP finished! My Star Wars fans will be ever so cross. I've been writing A Moment in Time much longer than I've been writing this. But I finished! And there will be a sequel, but you may have to wait until I write my other big project "Red Riding Hood".
Honest opinions are always welcome.