Okay here we go…
Rose Tyler flung open the door of the large house that was now her 'home' and bolted up the stairs, tears streaming down her face. Ever since her encounter with the Doctor at Bad Wolf Bay she hadn't been able to stop crying, her mind was too preoccupied by thoughts of the man she'd never see again to wonder how she managed to produce all those tears.
Jackie sighed, she probably would never admit it, but she was sad to see the Doctor go. Even though he'd taken her daughter away, endangered her life many a time, and been quite rude at certain points, she couldn't deny that she had never seen her daughter happier than when she was with him. She frowned as she heard the TV playing in one of the rooms that led off from the entrance hall. Pete and Mickey were still outside, bringing the bags in, had they left the TV on while they were away?
She walked cautiously towards the door, slightly unsettled by the glow of blue light that illuminated the walls. With a gentle push the door swung open, and there, with his feet up on the sofa, cup of tea in one hand, remote control in the other was a man.
A thin man with messy brown hair, and a contagious smile, dressed in a pin striped suit with mucky once-white converse on his feet. Jackie had to lean against the door frame to stop herself from falling over in shock, but she didn't manage to conceal the gasp of surprise that alerted him to her presence.
"D'you think I should go talk to her?" he asked, his face slightly sad at the thought of Rose, crying alone on her bed. Jackie nodded numbly, and as he walked past her she threw her arms around him.
"You came back," she whispered, "you can make her happy again." The Doctor was quite taken aback by this sudden show of affection, but seeing as Rose had said she was pregnant, and most likely hormonal, he should have expected her to act like this.
Either that or batter him with whatever blunt instrument she could get her hands on.
He patted her on the back and let go of her, before heading over to the grand staircase that would lead him to Rose. With each step he took, he felt more and more apprehensive about what her reaction would be. Would she even accept it was him? She'd had enough trouble when he'd changed right in front of her eyes, but when he said she wouldn't see him again…she'd need some convincing, that was for sure.
He found her, sitting cross legged on her bed, a picture held tightly in her trembling hands. Probably the one of them and Jack, taken when they visited Kelfotch. There had been a breath taking view there, and Rose demanded that they had their picture taken, together. She always said it was her favourite photo.
"You know," he said, before clearing his throat, "it's much better to visit the past than to dwell on it. You don't want to forget to live." She turned to look at him, and then looked back at the photo as if he wasn't there. "Rose?"
"I can see you," she said shortly, "Only trouble is, no one else can."
"What's that supposed to mean?" he asked her.
"You're not real, my mind's playing tricks. You know, when you want something so bad you can see it, hear it, even smell it if you want it enough."
"Well if it wants you enough, maybe it'd do anything and everything to get back to you."
"That's impossible," Rose replied, not looking at him, as though the sight of him made her hurt more than she already did, "The only way you could get back would mean two universes collapsing, and you wouldn't do that."
"I think you'd be surprised what I'd do," he chuckled lightly, as though not believing the lengths he had gone to just to see her again, just to be able to hold her. This stupid little ape, who he'd have to leave at some point, whether it be now, or fifty years in the future, she had a hold on him like no one else ever had, or would. "I went to the very edge of the Universe, where there's nothing, absolutely nothing. And I punched a hole in the universe, just to get back to you."
Rose turned to look at him at last, finally letting her eyes meet his. She stood up and touched his face gently, half thinking her hand would go straight through him. But there was skin, and bone, and a bit of stubble in places. "You look older," she said quietly, her voice breaking slightly, as she took in the few strands of grey that were littered about in his mop of brown hair, as well as the lines around his eyes, which were deeper than they had been three days ago.
"Even if you're a Time Lord, you still age in whatever body you're in. Just slowly."
"But it's only been three days," Rose whispered.
"For you!" the Doctor replied, "Seventeen years for me! Took me seventeen years to work out how to blow a hole in the universe big enough for the TARDIS that wouldn't make everything go splat!" He ran a hand through his hair and let out a sigh. "Drove me crazy, all that thinking, but I didn't stop. I made it," he grinned madly and Rose smiled slightly, momentarily forgetting that this was all just a figment of her imagination. But even so, it seemed so real…
"You didn't do any damage then?" Rose asked.
"Nah," the Doctor replied, "well I say no, what I really mean is not much, well, a little bit… What would shifting some planets into a different orbit come under?" Rose laughed gently. "You still don't believe I'm here," he stated, after a few minutes silence.
"It's impossible," Rose answered, rubbing her eyes hastily as they filled once more with tears.
"But I like impossible," the Doctor reasoned, surely she didn't believe that he could just forget about her, and live a life on that other planet.
"Did you two want a cup of tea?" Jackie asked loudly, making both of them jump. They hadn't heard her come up the stairs.
"Two of us?" Rose asked.
"Yeah Rose, you and the Doctor, you know, the man standing in front of you. Honestly, you've been so desperate to see him and when you finally do you pretend he's not there!" Jackie shook her head in disbelief, and the Doctor laughed.
"I'd love a cup of tea Jackie," he said, grinning widely. Rose stood there in shock. If her mum could see him, then surely he was here. Because the chances of her and her mum desperately wishing for the same scenario at the same time, so much so that it seemed real, were slim to none.
"You're really here?" Rose asked. "No jokes? No tricks? No imagination going wild?"
"Oh for goodness sake!" Jackie interrupted, "Rose! He's real! I can see him, you really think I'd make it up?"
"Jackie Tyler, I have never been so glad to have you in the same room as me," the Doctor said. Jackie rolled her eyes and walked back towards the stairs.
And, after a tortuous ten minutes of convincing, and reasoning, Rose put her arms around the Doctor and squeezed him tightly, as though the tighter she held on, the less chance there was of them being separated again. He held her just as tightly and kissed the top of her head. "I never got to say it…" he mumbled.
"Say what?" Rose whispered into his ear.
"I love you," he replied. He felt her smile into his shoulder and gave her one last squeeze before they broke apart. "C'mon, tea's getting cold." He took her hand and led her out of the room and down the stairs, both of them having giddy smiles plastered across their faces.
"Mickey, Pete," the Doctor greeted the two men as he and Rose walked into the kitchen. Mickey dropped his mug with a crash and Pete sat there open mouthed. Rose giggled and sat down.
"How did you - but you said -" Mickey stuttered, not quite sure what he was trying to say.
"Punching a hole in the universe?" the Doctor said with a raised eyebrow, "easy," he finished smugly.
"Took you long enough though didn't it?" Rose said, her wide smile showing all her teeth.
"It's alright for you, you only had to wait three days, I had to wait seventeen years!" Pete shook his head, not understanding anything that was happening. All he knew was that the Doctor had somehow got through to this world, and that his Rose was the happiest he'd ever seen her. It was nice, seeing her smile. He'd never seen her smile properly before, not like she was now.
Jackie walked into the kitchen and smiled at the sight of her daughter and the Doctor. Pete frowned at her. "You knew?" he asked.
"He was sitting in there," she said, gesturing to the lounge, "Watching telly and drinking tea! Made himself right at home!" Rose laughed. "And you, young lady," she said turning to Rose, who stopped laughing, "You're going to eat a proper meal right now! Honestly, I bet you've forgotten what it all tastes like! Everyone wanting shepherds' pie?" There was a general murmur of agreement and Jackie started bustling around, peeling potatoes. Rose avoided the Doctor's eye. She could feel him looking at her, burning holes through her.
"Things like that don't matter when you've just lost everything alright?" Rose half shouted.
"No it's not alright! You need to look after yourself! I thought you looked thinner but I just thought it was 'cause I haven't seen you in seventeen years!"
"For God's sake just leave it alright?"
"No! You shouldn't just stop caring about yourself because of me!"
"Well it doesn't matter now, 'cause you're here, and I'm not gonna let anything separate us again," she said resolutely, folding her arms with that look of determination in hers eyes that scared even him sometimes.
"So, did you wanna hang around home for a bit before we jet off in the TARDIS?" he changed the subject, not wanting to have that look fixed upon him any longer.
"Hang around, you're gonna do domestic for once." They grinned and went back into the kitchen.
The Doctor felt incredibly guilty whilst eating the shepherds' pie Jackie had cooked. Mostly for yelling at Rose, but especially because he realised, and his stomach confirmed this, that this was the first decent meal he'd had in a long time as well. He'd been so caught up in trying to punch a hole in the universe that would cause minimal damage that he'd forgotten about everything else, he just sat there, jotting down equations, working out how much power he'd need to get through, how he'd make the least damage possible, how he could make sure one hundred percent that the universes wouldn't go splat. He often cursed himself for falling asleep at his desk, went for days without getting a second's rest, his mind constantly racing at a hundred miles per hour.
But still, as she'd said, none of it mattered now, they were back together, eating proper meals, and smiling. That was something he hadn't done in a while. His face ached slightly, but, he figured, the more he smiled, the more he'd get used to it again.
"You can do the washing up mister," Jackie said, nodding towards the Doctor. "We've just driven back from Norway 'cause you can't choose to appear in London!" Rose sniggered into her glass of water. The Doctor groaned like a teenager and Rose laughed loudly.
"Getting a little too domestic for you?" she asked cheekily.
"You see that?" the Doctor whispered to Rose as they sat on the roof top a few hours later. She looked up in the direction he was pointing to.
"What the pinky thing?"
"That's Venus," he told her, "and over there," he pointed in the direction of an exceptionally bright star, "that's a supernova, the equivalent of the one I used to send that message to you."
"Why didn't you tell me you were gonna come? Why did you say I wouldn't see you again?" Rose asked suddenly.
"Because I didn't want to get your hopes up and disappoint you. I didn't want you to wait for years for me to come, especially if there was a chance I wouldn't be able to."
"Oh," she said simply.
Within an hour she was asleep next to him. He picked her up gently, trying not to wake her, and took her back inside the house, laying her down on the bed, covering her with the duvet. He started to walk towards the door. He stopped, when he heard a whisper. "Stay with me." He slipped off his shoes and got into bed next to her, pulling her close to him. He wrapped his arms around her and her hand found his, interlacing their fingers. He smiled into her hair, not quite believing that he was actually with her, holding her, staying with her.
She had her father, and her mother, and Mickey, and they both had each other. He didn't often get days like this, but when they came along, he realised that they were definitely worth the wait.
Just this once, everything was good.