I'm Not That Girl
The Doctor thought he must have been dreaming as he awoke to a simple, sad melody, barely audible even to his highly developed hearing. He looked around him, he had never made it out of the control room since they'd left the droid space ship. Reinette's letter lay on the floor beside him and once again he was tinged with sadness. Sadness for the one he hadn't been able to save, the one who had died having never given up on him. He didn't know if he'd loved her as she'd loved him but she had touched him. One person out of the whole universe who had truly felt his loss, that was a connection he'd never again experience and he would mourn it even if it was out of character.
The Doctor's thoughts turned to Rose and Mickey, his two charges, his two friends who he'd abandoned. His old form would never have confessed it but he was beginning to develop a sort of rough affection for Mickey, a couple of times the boy had come through for them and he felt guilty that on his first trip he'd abandoned him. And Rose. Precious, steady, loyal Rose who had willingly given her life to save his, he'd abandoned her. His hearts felt like lead weights in his chest as he thought of the grief he must have afflicted on her and he cursed himself as he pushed up onto his feet, straightening as best he could his rumpled pinstripe suit.
He set his feet towards the centre of the TARDIS, following the yet unrecognisable melody. The music was so melancholy he almost felt tears stinging his eyes. He laid a hand on the side of the ship, wondering if it was in fact one of the TARDIS' own songs she so often sung to herself but the connection was silent, the ship was resting.
Turning a corner the music increased in volume and he recognised the tune. It brought back so many memories of his old self, of times spent with Jack and Rose. They had woken one morning to Rose bleating unrelentingly that she wanted nothing more than a doughnut for breakfast so the Doctor had thought to let her into one of his most treasured secrets.
He had taken them to the tiniest little café in the heart of New York, 2005 that sold the universe's most delicious doughnuts and neither Rose or Jack had disagreed with him. The Doctor had soon regretted his decision however when the lure of shopping in New York got the better of his companions and he had been dragged along as Rose's personal pack horse. He hadn't really minded of course, though he wouldn't have ever let on. As the day was closing they had stumbled onto Broadway and Rose had seen a sign that took her fancy. Before the Doctor knew it he was being jostled into a theatre and the show had begun.
He hadn't been able to escape at the end without buying a copy of the soundtrack and for the next week the TARDIS was filled with its music, so much so that the Doctor swore he could easily play any number from Stephen Schwartz's, Wicked. He even found himself humming it when it wasn't playing. Those had been good times. Domestic by all accounts but good none the less.
The Doctor was pulled out of his reverie as he heard a voice that he wasn't used to but recognised anyway. Rose's voice joined perfectly with the girl on the CD, whirling and lilting like she was born to do it. He chuckled to himself, he hadn't known she could sing. It was only the choked sob at the end of a line that wiped the small smile off his face. He listened harder to the words, a cold realisation falling over him.
"Blithe smile, lithe limb. She who's winsome, she wins him. Gold hair with a gentle curl, that's the girl he chose and Heaven knows, I'm not that girl. Don't wish, don't start, wishing only wounds the heart. I wasn't born for the rose and the pearl. There's a girl I know, he loves her so, I'm not that girl."
As the song ended he could hear Rose's stifled sobs and he moved slowly round the door. She didn't see or hear him as he watched her, curled on her small bed, wrapped tightly in a very familiar leather jacket. She had a framed picture in her hand, the one she always kept by her bed. Its was a photo of himself in his old incarnation and Rose on an alien beach, a vacation that for once hadn't turned into them running for their lives. It was a happy picture, Rose in bathers and the Doctor in his trade mark black outfit, cuddled against each other and smiling happily. He had the same picture in his dresser drawer, it was one of the only pictures of them together and he treasured it like no other. He had rarely taken pictures of himself with his other companions but Rose had a passion for the camera and it made him happy to know he'd have something to cling on to after she'd gone
"Why'd you leave me?"
Rose's question nearly made him answer in confusion but he knew it was not to him she was speaking but the picture. He saw her staring down at the photograph, drawing her fingers over his old face. How he wished she'd touched him that way back then, things could have been so different.
"Why'd you have to die? I know you're still here but you're not the same. I miss your smile so much, them daft old big ears of yours, the way my name sounded on your voice. But you're gone, you're him now, he left me. My Doctor wouldn't have left me, wouldn't have…" she trailed off and sobbed again and the Doctor felt his hearts break. He hadn't even realised that she would still be mourning his old self. He thought as she was so easy with his new form that she had accepted it. He'd fooled himself. She was grieving for him and he had done nothing.
Unable to watch the scene before him anymore he moved silently to the bed and lay a hand on Rose's quivering back. She snapped her head around, her eyes black and puffy from crying. She quickly stuffed the picture under her pillow and began to shrug off the leather jacket, blushing furiously. The Doctor grabbed onto the collar and pulled it back around her shoulders.
"Suits you," he muttered at a loss for anything else to say, "I'm sorry Rose."
"For everything. For leaving you, for Reinette, for him," he said nodding to the pillow and the picture sticking out from under it, "I don't expect you to trust me as you did him, even though we're the same. I know it's a strange concept and you've coped with it better than most of my other companions. I need you to know though Rose, I care for you as much now as I did then."
"Is that why you chose her over me then?" hissed Rose vehemently, pulling away from him, her voice rising in pitch and volume as she continued "Is that why you abandoned me to be with a woman you haven't even known a day. You selfish bastard! You know Mickey and I could never fly the TARDIS yet you still left us for her. I know she was prettier than me, better than me but I thought you cared about me, I thought we were friends but I was wrong. I'm the next Sarah-Jane. You get bored and off you go. Why her, why some French woman who we never should have met. You once called me your best friend and yet you left ME for HER! Why Doctor? Just tell me why?"
She turned back to her pillow, sobbing and shaking like he had never seen her do before. His words stabbed into him like blades of ice and his whole body froze. No one in all his life had ever dared shout at him like that, no one had ever sobbed like that for something he'd done. He felt utterly wretched, more so even than when he'd awoken after the Time War. This mere human girl had found her way deep into his hearts and was now tearing them out, using his own stupidity as a weapon.
"Rose?" he murmured, unsure of the strength of his own voice, "Rose please don't cry. Don't cry over me. I'm not worth it."
"That's the problem though Doctor, you are," sniffed Rose, "And that's why it hurts so much."
The Doctor shifted his arms to wrap around Rose, lifting her to sitting and pulling her into a tight hug. She clung to him like her life depended on it, soaking his jacket with her tears.
"I want to hate you," she confessed, "I want to hate you and hurt you like you hurt me but I can't because I love you too much."
Three words spoken softly within her sentence, unintentionally or not and he was adrift. His hands almost clawed at her hair to pull her face round to face him before he crushed his lips to hers in a desperate kiss. He knew he was being rough but he couldn't stop. Rose whimpered beneath his lips but responded all the same, returning his force with her own until she succeeded in locking them in a perfect embrace. Tongues explored and familiar and unfamiliar hands wandered on paths they had never dared follow. Rose softened in his arms, and he felt a peace wash from her to him. This was them, always had been, raw and desperate and fevered. This is what they needed, what they would always have despite what or who came in the way at times.
Rose reluctantly pulled back and the Doctor took the moment to whisper softly against her lips.
"I love you too. Oh Rose I'm so sorry, I was so stupid. I wish I could go back and…"
"Don't be so human," said Rose softly, closing his eyes with her kisses and holding him close, "You are so different to me and I'm never going to understand half the things you do. You did what you had to and it hurt but I don't want to hear you apologise. You're a Timelord and I have to get used to that. I love you for who you are. The man who doesn't do domestic, the man who sent me home knowing he would die, the man who left me for a French woman, the man who will one day leave me for the Universe."
"I don't want promises, or declarations Doctor. You loved Reinette, she loved you and I don't blame her. All I ask is that you remember that what ever happens, what ever you do, I'm here and I will always love you."
"You really are my best friend, do you know that?" he said softly against her shoulder, "You're fantastic!"
"There's my Doctor," said Rose pulling back and slipping off the leather jacket. She let it fall on the bed and then pulled the picture out from beneath the pillow. She pressed a kiss to her fingertips and then to the picture before placing it back on her dresser. Getting to her feet she offered the Doctor her hand.
"Where to then Timelord?"
The Doctor smiled and took her hand, "Anywhere my beautiful little ape wants to go," he said capturing a small kiss before she lead him from the room, "By the way, you do have one up on Reinette."
"What's that?" said Rose, her eyes searching his face and surprised when she saw his smile.
"She could never sing Broadway like you do."
"And Rose," he murmured pulling her close, "You're not that girl, you're my girl."