The Doctor and Rose were sitting in the TARDIS's huge library, each sitting in their respected padded armchairs, reading in the flickering light of the faux fireplace. The Doctor had gone into a long and confusing rant after Rose had mentioned the fact that the TARDIS didn't have a chimney, which she had eventually gathered that it was a hologram that looked, sounded, felt and smelt like a real fire, so Rose had ignored the fact that it was fake and instead just accepted that it kept her warm and had carried on reading.
Rose was curled up; writing in a diary that she had taken to writing in after every adventure, saying that she could share it with her mother when she next went home. Meanwhile, the Doctor sat in the opposing chair with a heavy, dusty old tome open in his lap, forgotten and unnoticed. To anyone looking on it would seem like he was reading, but his eyes were out of focus and he could now barely even remember the title of the book that was slowly cutting off the circulation in his legs.
Rose had handled Mickey's departure remarkably well, considering how long she had known him, how long they had been friends, and more than that. A small smile pulled at his lips. She was certainly more resilient than he gave her credit for. A few days with her mother, both she and the Doctor looking after her and supplying her with endless tea and chocolate, hot baths and romantic movies and she was off.
In a strange way, the Doctor felt that it had affected him more than Rose. Not because he would miss the "Idiot" (though, really, he was a lot cleverer than he had been the first time they had met) getting in the way or causing trouble for them, and he would definitely not miss the constant competition for Rose's attention, but because it had woken him up to the fact that maybe… this life of his, as fun as it may be, was doing more harm than good. Rose was the most important person in his life at the moment, but what if bringing her with him was a bad idea. Memories of Sarah-Jane came unbidden to his mind. The thought of how hard she said found it, living her life after meeting him. What if this was just him being selfish, doing what was good for him and not for the people that he travelled with. Mickey had asked to come, to which the old Doctor would have denied him, but now he had agreed, let him leave his home, his friends and his job, to come travelling, even though he knew that he may never come back. Then he had left even that to start a new life in a parallel world, taking up the mantle of his dead counterpart.
He knew, had known from the moment that he asked Rose to accompany him, that it wouldn't be forever, that a day would come when something would happen, something would change, and more likely than not the results would be terrible. Perhaps-he almost hoped- that she would decide to leave. That she didn't want to continue as they were. She deserved that right to choose. He wanted that for her, because he knew the dangers of his life, and he wanted her to at least have a choice in the matter. That would be better than the numerous other thinks that could happen; death, sickness, so many other things that could take her away from him. No, if she left, he wanted it to be her choice.
Even though that choice would rip his hearts to shreds, and he would do anything to stop that from happening. It should be her choice.
But then there was perhaps the worst case scenario. She would choose to never leave, like she had promised him… far too many times. She would grow old. To watch her age, to see her beautiful face wither as he remained young and energetic... he couldn't bare the idea of it. He wanted to stay with her forever, but he above all else knew that it couldn't be. Seeing Sarah-Jane again… that had rocked him to his core. Somewhere in his mind, he had always told himself that he had meant to go find her again. That if he hadn't met Rose –why did he pass the blame onto her? - maybe he would have gone looking for her, but Rose had knocked all thoughts of previous companions flying, even Sarah-Jane. But there was also another part of his mind shouting, calling him a coward, because deep down he knew that he was just running away, as fast as he could, from his oldest companions; Time and Death, walking behind him, hand in hand, destroying all that he cared for.
Seeing Sarah-Jane again… she was still beautiful, still adventurous, still full of her same old fire that he saw when she was younger, but… time, that old trickster, had taken his toll on her. She wad woken him up to the fact. One that he never really forgot. That after travelling with him, human life was boring and tedious. After seeing the magnificence of what he could show them, normal life couldn't compare.
Did he want that for Rose?
He hadn't told her about the storm that was building inside him. When she took his hand a while ago, as she often did, a feeling had started up in him like he had never experienced before. A feeling like a wind was blowing through him, a sensation like that static that you can feel in the air before a thunderstorm and a dampness like before the rain comes. A feeling like a storm's approaching.
And then came the nightmares.
He rarely ever slept, found it a waste of time, time that nobody really had. But, once in a while he allowed himself an hour of weakness, no more than that. He had completely forgotten the inner storm that he had experienced, put it down to the left over adrenalin that was pumping around his body after the excitement of their latest adventure, but it returned in his dreams, but not just the feeling, but his mind had even helpfully created the pictures to accompany it.
Rose standing alone on a sea of angry waves, whipped, like her hair, into an insane temper by a ferocious wind, rain was slashing her face and lightning striking the water, boiling it on contact. She seemed to be floating just above the waves reach when suddenly she fell, her scream whipped away from her almost before she made it as the wind rushed past her. She was reaching desperately for him, and he for her, her face locked in a death scream, as she tried to keep her head above the water. He was trying so desperately to get to her, to save her, to pull her back, but something was holding him back, keeping him in place.
He had woken up, cold sweat dripping from his clammy skin, gasping for air, as though it had been him sinking below the waves instead of Rose, and promised never sleep again.
"Doctor?" Rose asked quietly, contrasting painfully with the memories of the dream, breaking through his thoughts. She was watching him, worry etched into those beautiful feature that he could look at every day for the rest of his life and never get tired of. "What's the matter?"
He swallowed, plastering a fake smile onto his face, "Nothing's the matter."
She gave him a bemused look, crossing her arms and raising a well trained eyebrow, and doing an amazing impression of her mother at the same time, "Oh yeah? Well 'ow come you've been on the same page for the last half an hour when usually you'd have already started four whole new books? And don't try pullin' that whole "the translation circuit must be packin' in again" trick; I'm not fallin' for it."
Ah yes, he'd forgotten how easily Rose noticed things like that. And he had been using that excuse a few too many times. Oh well, time to face the music.
"I was just…thinking."
"I'd never of guessed," She said sardonically, closing her diary and placing it on the table in front of her.
"Do you..." he began shakily, unconsciously copying her and gently putting the heavy tome on the table before swallowing and starting again. "You do know, don't you Rose, that… if you ever decided that you didn't want to carry on travelling with me… you only have to say so. Don't ever feel that you can't tell me something if you're unhappy."
Hurt flashed over her face as she seemed to pull away from him, "Do you want me to leave?"
Well done numbnut! He chided himself; you've gone and screwed that up!
"No!" he said quickly, "I just… I meant that… if you ever wanted to, the option is there for you, if you wanted it. I would never wish you to leave."
She stayed quiet for a long moment, looking down, away from his eyes.
"Is this about Mickey?" she asked quietly, "Is that why you're asking me?"
"Partially, but… I've been wondering for a while. Since-"
"Since Sarah-Jane?" She suggested, the slightest of hints of jealousy to her voice.
He let his head fall with a heavy sigh, looking away from her. When he finally looked up at her, her eyes were sparkling with unshed tears. He never wanted her to look like that, least of all when it was him that had made those tears come to her eyes. It made his hearts break a little and he forced himself to carry on looking into those watery hazel pools.
"One day Rose, you're gonna end up leaving me, one way or another, and I don't know if it's gonna be through choice… or whether you're gonna be ripped from me."
Rose stared at him in disbelief and gave something that was neither a laugh or a sob.
"And what? You really thought that I'd take the easy way out? When you asked me the first time round whether I wanted to come with you, I asked if it was always this dangerous. I've signed up for this, and there is nothin' that can stop me from carryin' on. Do you really think that one day I'd just decide that I didn't want you any more?" she almost shouted at him, feeling anger boiling up inside her, not realising what she had said until after it was to late to take it back, so she carried on regardless.
"'Cause there was a chance, a long time ago, when I could've taken that option, but that chance is long gone. If you think I should leave, then you're gonna have to throw me out of an air lock or somefin', but if you think that I would leave of my own accord then…" she took a deep breath, ignoring the tears sliding down her face, and swallowed, "then you don't know me half as well as either of us thought you did."
She stood up, brushing away her tears angrily. "Good night Doctor."
"Rose wait!" he said quickly, snapping out of his state of shock as she made for the door. He couldn't let her leave, not like this, because then it would hang in the air and, eventually, despite what she said, it would drive her away. He grabbed her hand just before she reached the handle and gently spun her to face him, but she turned her face from her, trying in vain to mask the tears cascading down her cheeks and dripping off her chin. He gently put his forefinger on her chin, returning her eyes to his.
"I didn't mean that. But… there's this feeling," he placed a hand on his chest, feeling the swirling of storm clouds drawing in as he held Rose close. "It's like… a storms approaching. And I know, somehow I know that… it's gonna rip you from me. One way or another, some day, be it days or decades from now, you'll leave me. Humans age. You whither and you die-"
"I've heard this all before Doctor-"
"Just… just let me finish!" he interrupted. He hadn't let himself finish what he started, he had listened to the mauve going off in his mind that were, even now, blaring; Don't get yourself hurt! She might not feel the same way! Just leave it alone!
But hadn't she already admitted that she felt something for me? another part of his mind argued. So… maybe there was a chance.
"Rose I don't age the same as you. I regenerate. But you," he softly brushed her tears from her face with the back of his hand and he saw something like shock in her eye at such a tender action as his voice cracked, "You don't get another chance, new body, new teeth, new suit. You only get the one try. You grow old, you decay. Imagine watching that happen to someone that you," WARNING! Don't finish that senten… "Love."
Before he could allow himself the chance to stop, he lowered his head and their lips touched. He waited, holding his breath, his hearts waiting for her to respond, to return or shy away from the kiss. An eternity seemed pass by. Then her lips parted and he sighed in relief as she allowed him to explore. He traced the inside of her mouth, running his tongue along the edge of her teeth until her tongue began to stoke his gently, each getting a taste for the other.
Rose was the first to pull away, but her face told him it was unwilling, and her heavy breathing that he had forgotten the fact that humans didn't have the respiratory bypass that he did. He gently rested his forehead on hers, trying to remember when he had last been this happy.
"'You okay?" He asked with a half laugh.
"Yeah," Rose whispered back breathlessly, her eyelids lowered slightly and her tongue poking out of her teeth, "Never thought you'd do that though."
"Neither did I if I'm honest, but… I've wanted that for so long. But… what about you?" he lifted his head up, panic bubbling up in him, "You don't… I mean… Rassilion, what do I mean?"
Rose gave the slightest of laughs, stretching up to lace her arms around his neck to stop him from moving further away and pressed her lips to his in a passionate but tender kiss. How long they stayed like that, neither cared to know, but as they pulled away, Rose's face was heavily flushed and her breathing even heavier than before.
"Tell me from that? Do you think I regret it?"
"No," he answered obediently with a smile.
"But," Rose said, worry flashing across her face, "What about 'the storm?'"
He wanted to lie, say that it was gone, but even as he held her close, the wind was blowing a gale. The storm was getting nearer.
"It will come, but," he flashed her an encouraging smile, "do you really think any storm can win against the Oncoming storm and the Bad Wolf?" he wiggled his eyebrows at her, making her laugh.
"It will come, but there is now."
"There is now," Rose agreed, smiling up at him.