Change back?

Summary: I loved the regeneration from 9th to 10th Doctor so much that I think it should be told in more detail. 9Rose & 10Rose

Disclaimer: All official Doctor Who stuff belongs to BBC etc. - I only borrow it for this story.

Notice: As you might have guessed by the chapter-title, this is more or less the central-piece of my little story. However, it surely isn't the end yet, although I don't know how long I will follow our favorite Time Lord and his companion here.

Any comments or critics etc. are welcome. And if someone feels like wanting to beta-read this story for me, I would be very happy!


Never mind how endearing this new Doctor might be, Rose wished for the old one to return, more than anything in the world.


Chapter 6 – Change back

The Doctor was dimly aware that he was behaving a bit ridiculous, with all the hopping around the console on one leg and talking nonsense. However, he realized his new self liked being rather silly and childish. It felt good to finally have left some of the burden behind which had marked him since the Time War. And, he already had experienced the one or other even more embarrassing quirk in some of his previous lives. But of course, they had felt alright to him then, too.

Eventually, he couldn't help noticing that his companion was regarding him quite serious and weary, no matter how cheerful he wanted to be now. So the Doctor stopped making a fool of himself and let her speak.

"Can you change back?"

Rose's question was not totally unexpected, however he couldn't remember when somebody had actually asked him this the last time. Despite being a Time Lord, and one that had lived through most of his lives already, he suddenly regretted to have left his ninth self behind.

Most of his people would have been offended by such a blunt and ignorant question. After all, the power of regeneration was one of the traits that defined a Time Lord. Without it, his race's lifespan most likely would be much shorter, at last he would be much more vulnerable. In any case, his people wouldn't have had the ability to gather knowledge and experiences by living each incarnation with different bodies and minds.

But the Doctor knew better. Rose wasn't completely aware what a regeneration meant. She wouldn't have asked this, if she knew that his own possible lifespan just had been reduced by a good deal, since his last form had still been quite young.

Besides, he was sure that his looks had rather improved, at last he was quite pleased with this new body. And he hadn't even looked into a mirror yet. No, she was concerned about the less obvious changes this might mean for her - and them. And so was he.

So, instead of feeling insulted, he was rather flattered that she missed his old face and simply asked back: "Do you want me to?"

Of course she said yes, otherwise she wouldn't have asked in the first place.

Nevertheless, the Doctor realized now that he still wasn't sure what to make out of it. How much of the events on Satellite Five did Rose remember? Did she know what she had done and said, or what he had done and said? He still wasn't even certain himself what had happened there or how she had been able to connect to the heart of the Tardis like that, but he remembered the kiss well enough and that she had literally moved heaven and earth just to save him.

Only a few minutes ago, the Time Lord had believed he would die for sure and had in fact welcomed this fate. But when he had been granted another chance by Bad Wolf, he had embraced it wholeheartedly. For her. Rose had come back to him, and he couldn't remember now how he had been able to part from her.

Unfortunately, such gifts always had to be payed for. The overwhelming force she had absorbed had been killing her, just as it would kill him. The decision had been easy.

And so he had taken in all of her with a loving look and had kissed her.

Of course, the Doctor had used this intimate contact to extract the power of the Time-Vortex out of her, but this could have been done otherwise, too. One moment he had just wanted to save her life - and suddenly he had found himself acknowledging his feelings towards her. However that had happened, this energy-exchange had made the whole experience even more intensive.

The last of the Time Lords had been equally surprised and happy when Rose had returned his kiss. 'Does she really trust me that much, or is she actually wanting this from me?', he had been wondering since then.

But after all the dangerous powers had left her body, she had passed out. Thus, he couldn't be sure how much of this had been herself. The line between the human girl he held dear and the nearly almighty Bad Wolf, who was more than his equal, was blurred. When he had held her in his arms, it had seemed as if both beings had looked at him with a mixture of wonder and love, before the young woman had closed her eyes.

'If Rose doesn't remember any of this, she probably just wants her old friend back now.' Unfortunately, this was as impossible as to follow the path of the kiss.

More than a little frustrated and confused by all this, the Doctor couldn't help but sigh.

It didn't exactly help when Rose asked again if he could change back, and he regretfully had to negate that. Why didn't he suddenly like this new body that much anymore?

After a moment, he gathered enough courage to ask her back: "Do you want to leave?" He dreaded the answer.

OOO

Rose had blurted out: "Can you change back?", before she could stop herself.

She knew hardly anything about this whole regeneration-stuff, but that was definitely rude. One doesn't ask a friend to change his face, even if he did just exactly that.

However, it was one thing to believe that the Doctor had altered his whole appearance, but another to accept it and be happy about it.

Rose didn't know what to make of his reaction, because she had not yet learned how to read this new man. In one moment, this whole situation didn't bother him half as much as her. Then, suddenly, there was something like disappointment or even regret in his voice and eyes.

Hope awoke in her, when he asked her if she wanted him to change back. Of course, she did! Perhaps it was possible after all. Who knew what he was capable of, after all he was an alien, right?

But her high spirits were as fast silenced as they had been called to life. The Doctor's face became expressionless as he told her that he couldn't change back. Yet, she could see in his eyes that he felt sorry for her - and for himself.

Her heart immediately warmed up to him in that moment, and if he still had been her old Doctor she would have closed the distance between them and hugged him, or at last taken his hand. But Rose didn't dare to show her affection like that to this one, even if he looked so much more sad and lost and even somewhat more fragile than the other one ever had. He was a different man, and she hardly knew him. He might not even want her to touch him anymore.

Before she had the chance to come to terms with this whole crazy and confusing situation, he asked her if she wanted to leave. This idea had not occurred to Rose till now and rather took her by surprise. It hurt, too, but not so much as hearing the slight tremble in his voice.

When the girl tried to answer, she found herself speechless.

Her first reaction was to say "no". Rose then realized that she still was determined to stay with the Doctor, like she had promised.

However, she was tempted to say "yes", too, because she felt confused and betrayed. How could he not have told her that something like this could happen to him?

Finally, she settled on twisting his own former question, so that he had to answer instead. "Do you want me to leave?"

There had been a time when Rose wouldn't have asked this, and she wouldn't have complied if he had told her to go. In fact she had ignored his attempt to send her home just a few minutes ago, although it seemed now as distant as if it had happened in another life.

To her relief, he seemed eager enough to keep her now: "No, but ... your choice. If you want to go home ..." She just wasn't sure if he only said that to make her feel better.

'What should I do? What does he want? This has become my home and my life ... but is it still?' She couldn't do anything else but stare at the strange man, whose features grew more and more familiar and dear to her every second.

OOO

Did he want her to leave? No.

Did his two hearts hurt to see her reserved and uncertain like this? Yes.

Yet, she didn't seem to be in a hurry to leave him. That gave him some hope.

Obviously, impatience was now a quite strong characteristic of this Time Lord's new personality. And so he decided, without waiting for an answer from Rose, that he would take her back to Earth and her mother, although she had not asked for it.

The Doctor knew that she sometimes needed the plain, domestic steadiness of her old home and family for a day or two, to process all the wonders and terrors they experienced during their journeys. And he himself could do with a little break, until he had completely settled into his tenth life.

To be continued ...