Pairing: 10/Rose

Synopsis: After "Christmas Invasion", the newly regenerated Doctor helps Rose cope with the loss of his previous life in a different way…

Author's Note/Disclaimer: This ties into the "Thirty Years: Part One" story somewhat in that the defensive moves the Doctor shows Rose are some that she later uses on his Thirteenth incarnation. I still don't own anything; just using the characters for fun, not profit.

After giving himself one last appraisal in the mirror, the Doctor nodded approvingly at his pinstriped suit. He walked into the console room, expecting to see Rose there. He pulled his pocket watch out of his transdimensional pockets, checking the time.

"Hmm…eleven A. M….London time," the Doctor muttered. "Wonder where Rose is?"

The Doctor left the console room to go searching for his young friend. After about thirty minutes, the Time Lord found the one he was looking for in…of all places…the gymnasium.

Rose Tyler sat with her arms crossed around her knees. Her face held a sad expression, but no tears fell from her big, brown eyes. The Doctor experienced a moment of indecision. Should he intrude, or should he just fix some of the circuitry? Never one to run away from a challenge, the Gallifreyan chose the former.

"Rose…you okay?" the Doctor asked softly. Rose didn't answer. He walked over to her, sitting beside her. After a moment, he tipped her chin up so that he could see her expression more clearly. "C'mon…can't be all bad!" He exclaimed in his slightly Cockney accent. "We got to feast on burnt turkey an' all the trimmings, and I have to admit…Jackie treated me better this go around!" Still no response came from Rose.

"Hey, I know what!" The Doctor cried, getting up and rocking on his heels. "I promised you Barcelona, an' I think I can fly the old girl right so that she can get us there…"

Rose finally got up, not facing the Doctor. "Whatever," she said in a dull voice. She walked out of the gymnasium. The Time Lord frowned, staring after her. Something was wrong…but what could it possibly be? At 900-years-old, he thought he was a penultimate expert on human behavior, but the more time he spent with them, the less he understood them, it seemed. He thought for a moment, then whipped out the cell phone.

"Hello?" a male voice called.

"Hi, Mickey…I need your help with something," the Doctor said.

"This must be serious," Mickey said, adding, "You never call me by my proper name."

The Doctor said, "Rose is…well, she's not her cheerful, or sometimes snappy self, and I don't know why."

"Could be many reasons," Mickey said matter-of-factly. "She is a female, an' they feel so many different things! Caused me to go nuts a lot when we were datin'." Mickey paused for a moment, then said accusingly, "If you've hurt her in any way…"

"No! Honestly, I would never do that!" the Doctor defended.

"Well, let's start wi' the basics," Mickey said. "Is she in that time o'—"

"No, she's not in her monthly period," the Doctor finished for the African British man.

"Is she sick?" Mickey asked.

"Didn't look sick, and I couldn't smell anything wrong," the Doctor replied.

"'Smell anything wrong'?" Mickey echoed.

"Time Lords have superior senses. We can see, smell, and touch much more than you humans. If there were something wrong with her biological functions, I could detect it with my olfactory and other senses," the Doctor answered. "She smelled like her usual Vanilla and Strawberry essence. No colds or sicknesses of any kind."

Mickey paused, a little freaked by what the Doctor had said. If the Doctor's sense of smell and all other senses was that acute, what had he learned about Mickey, and Jackie, without their knowledge? The young man decided not to dwell on that.

"Well, if there's nothin' physically wrong, then, she must be sad over somethin' you said to her…or did," Mickey offered, almost accusing again.

"I can't imagine what…" the Doctor muttered. He ran his fingers through his brown-and-not-ginger hair. "I mean, I remember leaving her behind, but that was for her own good. I remember taking in the vortex to save her, and I remember saving her and Earth from the Sycorax, and stopping the Prime Minister with my six words…couldn't have been any of that, could it?" He wondered aloud.

"Maybe you need to ask her…" Mickey prompted. "Good luck. An' if you do hurt her, you'll end up regenerating sooner than you think when I get through with you!" Mickey let his words hang as he terminated the call.

"An' they call me rude!" the Doctor snapped. He walked past the gallery section of the TARDIS. The old girl illuminated the pictures of his various selves on the walls. "Opera phase," he commented to no one in particular as he stared at his third incarnation. He stared at the sixth incarnation, muttering, "fashion disaster…what was I thinking? Peri was right to fear me! Anyone would be afraid of that coat of pukescense!" He stared for a long moment at his previous self, then considered. It was then that the Doctor realized what was upsetting Rose. He walked into the console room.

Rose was in the room, staring at a hologram of the Doctor's ninth self. "Why did you do it?" she asked in a hurt voice. "Why'd you go away?"

He chose this time not to intrude, but to stand in the background, listening to the young woman. She looked at his image, but still didn't cry. "I don't remember everything still, but I don't know if I can get used to…him," she said to the image in a dull voice, still not facing the current Doctor.

"He's not you, an' I'd rather have you here." She touched the screen, caressing the hologram of the old Doctor's face. "Why didn't you tell me you could change? That would have been better than bein' surprised by it all. But I guess you didn't have to tell me, right? I mean, we're just traveling companions, right?"

The Doctor frowned at that last statement. Was that all Rose thought he felt about her? That she was just an appendage, or an object to be discarded? He thought about all the times they'd spent together and felt a huge amount of guilt. He hadn't really let her know how much she had changed his life…how much he cared for her. He knew he couldn't do that, not completely. It wasn't right for her to live all of her life with him. Someday, she would have to leave him to have a normal life, to finally age, and die in peace.

What worried him, though, was her inability to move through the pain. Oh, she was hurting, but he hadn't seen her go through the five stages of grief. Not once had Rose shown anger, bargaining, or any other grieving stages properly for a human. She just seemed so…distant, and that worried him more than anything. The TARDIS showed him the image of the gymnasium he'd found Rose in. The Doctor grinned. Maybe there was a way he could help her deal with this.

So lost was the Doctor in his own ruminations that he didn't see Rose switch off the image. "I didn't know I had company," the young woman said dully. "I guess I'll leave you to it…" She turned to leave, but the Doctor's words stopped her.

"Don't go," he said quietly. "Do you want to talk about it?"

"What?" Rose asked.

The Doctor gestured to his body. "This…my changing…you losing my previous self…" he clarified.

"Why should I?" Rose asked in a monotone.

"Because it's really bothering you," the Doctor said.

"You're not gonna lecture me about talking to you? I mean, you're not exactly a touchy-feely kind of guy, are you?" She asked. "Oh, wait…maybe this life…body, or whatever it is is that type. But then, what do I know? I'm just a stupid ape, after all. Don't know about changin' like you do…"

The Doctor heard the anguish behind Rose's tone. He closed the distance between then, saying, "You're one of the smartest, cleverest humans I know. I'm sorry I didn't tell you about regeneration. It's just that, well, it is a normal function for us Time Lords. It's kinda like asking you to tell me about blinking. I know it's a considerably more extensive process than blinking, but essentially, it is similar in that every Gallifreyan Time Lord or Lady goes about the process without really thinking about it. I guess I never thought about how it would upset you…" When Rose didn't answer, the Doctor continued. "Believe me, I wasn't planning to die on you. I wanted to live on in that life. We were good together, an' I wouldn't trade the moments we had for anything in all the universes!"

"Really?" Rose asked, a glimmer of hope in her eyes.

"Honestly," the Doctor said, hugging her unexpectedly. After a moment of getting used to his skinnier frame, Rose returned the hug full force, but then grew distant again. Her eyes returned to the dull, non expressive look they'd had before as the Doctor and she pulled apart.

"C'mon," the Doctor said, pulling the young woman's hand.

"What are you doing? Where are you taking me?" Rose queried.

"Somewhere where you can heal," the Doctor replied cryptically. He tugged her for a moment, and then gently pushed her through the door to the gymnasium.

"We're in a gym," Rose said, not quite getting where the Doctor was going with whatever he was doing.

"You noticed!" the Doctor exclaimed, beaming.

"Are you mocking me?" Rose inquired.

"Never," the Doctor answered honestly. He pulled her to a floor mat and proceeded to remove his jacket. He assumed what looked like a defensive position, saying, "Hit me."

"Wha'?" Rose asked, her eyes growing wide.

"Hit me," the Doctor repeated. "I'm gonna show you some throws I learned from the Venusians. Funny how your lot associate Venus with love, and Mars is associated with war. Other way 'round, really…" His arms braced for combat, he edged closer to Rose.

"You're daft," Rose commented, but she removed her hoodie and her shirt, leaving a white tank top in place.

"Effects of the regeneration," the Doctor said, coming closer, but thinking, not! Rose threw him down, but he pulled her easily with him. "Harder!" the Doctor insisted. "Try again!"

Rose got up and so did the Doctor. She tried to throw him again, earning a snort, and a, "I've had little Gallifreyan girls toss me harder than you! C'mon, Tyler…you can do better than that…unless you want me to say to the cosmos that you fight like a wimp!"

Rose could feel the anger gather. How dare he tell her how to fight? How dare he say she fought like a wimp when she had been the top student in Lady Mason's Defense Class the year before she'd met the Doctor? She suddenly executed a perfect throw. The Doctor responded in kind, showing her his moves, which she mimicked perfectly. The Doctor nodded his approval as Rose grew more bold, and more proficient, in her Venusian defense training.

They fought for an undetermined amount of time. Afterwards, Rose felt her eyes tearing as she grabbed a towel the TARDIS had provided. The Doctor wiped his slightly bruised, sweat stained face. She sank on the mat, crying. The Doctor held her, saying, "that's it, let it all out…"

Rose pounded his shoulder with her fist, saying, "Why did you have to leave me? Why didn't you tell me about everything?!"

"I'm really sorry, my Rose," the Doctor murmured, stroking her back. "I should have handled it better, but even after nine hundred years of living, I admit I don't know everything about my human friends." He eased her apart from him. "But you know, even though I am slightly different from the man you knew, I'm still him. Let me prove it to you."

"How?" Rose inquired.

"Let me be there for you," the Doctor responded, all the emotions showing in his eyes. "Don't push me away. If something is really bothering you, I want you to tell me."

Rose smiled warmly, thinking that maybe this regeneration business wouldn't be so bad. She still would have given anything to get her previous Doctor back, and it would take some time to accept this newcomer, but she felt that she could grow to care as much for this Doctor as she had her last one. The young woman kissed her Time Lord on his cheek, earning a smile from the Doctor. She grabbed her hoodie and top, and headed for a shower. The Doctor followed, glad that he'd finally gotten Rose to grieve. Like he had said many times, there was a time for everything.