Part three of my Weird Red Planet Saga - Set between Part #1 and Part #2 - the real reunion.
It had been a confusing couple of weeks, no one could deny that. From Mickey discovering the converter that would allow her to travel across the void up until right now, this very moment. Everything she had wished for, right in front of her and still so different from what she had longed it to be.
She had left Martha on the hilltop in high enough spirits. Just to imagine that what she had said was true, made her stomach twist and turn in the most amazing ways. But now, nearing the TARDIS, she found herself once again wondering. It wasn't that she had thought he would declare his undying love for her the moment she stepped into the TARDIS, no. But not reacting at all? All right, so he had reacted. He had fled, that was what he had done. Rose couldn't remember a time during her travels with him that he had backed away from a challenge, that he had fled.
But on the other hand she had no idea what happened since she left him. She didn't even know how much time had passed. He did not look any older. At least the few short moments she had seen him did not led her to believe he had aged. But who knew? How did Time Lords age anyway?
With a frustrated grunt, Rose kicked one of the stones in front of her. Her musings were interrupted by a short, painful yelp. "Ouch! Rose! And here I thought you loved me at least a little!"
She had, apparently, already made it back to the TARDIS and her eyes met the bright smile of Jack Harkness. She couldn't help it, her gloomy mood was blown away by his smile.
"Jack", she said, her voice a little unstable. She shook her head while tucking a stray strand of her behind her ear. "You amazing bastard, Jack Harkness." How could he be here? He had died, so long ago on Satellite 5, the Daleks had got to him. And yet, here he stood, grinning just as smugly as ever.
"Yeah, that's me", he replied before patting a space next to where he said. Rose bit her lip. She was a woman on a mission, after all. She had to find the Doctor, had to find sort of conclusion to whatever funk they were in before she could really focus on something else.
Jack seemed to sense that she was torn and just rolled his eyes. "Oh, go on, don't worry about me. Thanks to you it's pretty difficult getting rid of me these days. You go inside, we'll have enough time to talk later." He smiled one of his honest smiles and Rose mirrored it gratefully. She was confused, maybe more confused than ever before, but it would have to wait.
She quickly walked on and opened the door to the TARDIS, still amazed to feel her presence again. But before she entered the ship, a thought occurred to her.
"Jack? I am so glad you're here. So glad to see you." Jack said nothing. Just grinned and winked, mischief twinkling behind his eyes.
Rose tore her eyes away, closed them, took another deep breath and entered the TARDIS.
It had taken her a while to find the Doctor. Not because he had hidden away deep inside his ship, but because upon entering the TARDIS, Donna and Jenny had crossed her path and it had taken her a while to get passed them. It was weird. She felt so at home here, inside the TARDIS, but somehow it was alien as well. So many people she had never seen before and all of them knew her name, seemed to know an awful lot about her altogether. But once again she tried to shove into the back of her mind.
She had to deal with the Doctor first. It was almost a physical need now. She longed to feel his arms around, to see his cheeky smile, the sparkle of his eyes, she wanted her Doctor back.
She found him inside his workshop. Or i"The Garage"/i as she had taken to call it. She had spend hours in the crammed place, watching the Doctor fiddle with some sort of invention or repairing bits and pieces of the TARDIS. It still looked the same to her, smelled the same, and she felt giddy excitement running through her while standing in the doorway, taking it all in.
The man himself was hunched over a screen at the far left wall, sonic screwdriver in hand, the familiar buzzing and the blue light making Rose feel a little dizzy. She had made it back.
"Doctor" The sound was more choked than anything and her right hand flew up to her mouth, as if to hold it back. His head jerked upward, smacking against one of the deep hanging lights above him. Somehow, with his muffled curse, one layer of the thick tension broke and Rose grinned, her eyes watering a little because she had missed this familiar sight so much over the last 5 years.
After he had finished jumping about in pain, his hand still covering the sore spot on his head, the Doctor looked at her again, for the first time since she had stepped into the TARDIS just a few hours ago. Rose returned his look, biting her lip uncertainly but at the same time feeling so ridiculously happy that she felt as she might burst at any minute!
They stood like that a long time, staring, trying to understand. The Doctor's face was still detached, impassive, but she could see it, lurking behind his eyes. The fear the other woman, Martha it was, had spoken of. But at the same time there was disbelieve, hope, joy. He felt just like she did, she realized. iHe just doesn't react like I do/i, she thought and felt brave all of a sudden.
"Doctor", she said again and took a tentative step forward. This seemed to trigger something inside him because suddenly, he jerked back to life.
"Right! Yes, of course! So sorry ... just give me a minute and I'll have it sorted out." He twirled around, facing the monitor again and started a frantic search. For what, Rose didn't know. Rose felt a pang of hurt at his renewed rejection but pushed it away.
"Doctor, what are you doing?!" She asked, confusion, and a little panic creeping into her voice. She took a few more steps forward, trying to get closer, afraid he might run for it altogether. He looked up at her, honest surprise covering his features, his glasses slightly askew.
"Trying to figure out what you're doing here, of course. I mean, there so many things that make this impossible" his hands were in his hair again, his eyes dancing between her and the screen. "We have to work it out quickly, obviously, otherwise you might not be able to get back and we wouldn't want that, now would we." His mouth twitched in what probably was supposed to be a grin but looked more like a grimace.
Rose shook her head, trying to make sense of what he was doing. Why was he fighting it so hard? Did he honestly believe she was not here because she wanted to?
"Doctor!" She said again, more urgently this time. He refocused on her again and for a moment her breath caught in her chest. How she had missed him. Just this, watching him trying to solve a mystery. How he stood there, one hand resting on the screen, peering at her through his glasses, mouth slightly open, waiting for her to speak. His face so honest and open and still weirdly detached.
"I don't want to go back." there, she'd said it. Now it was his turn to finally acknowledge that she was back. iShe/i was ihere/i with him. Wanted nothing more than this. They were supposed to worry about the how's and whys later. He was supposed to grin at her and embrace her so fiercely that she couldn't breath! And, if what she had hoped for and what Martha had said was true, he should even kiss her! Rose very nearly stomped her food at that thought.
The Doctor seemed to lose his composure there for a bit. "Wha ... wha ... why wouldn't." he stopped, obviously trying to gather himself. He quickly shook his head, as if trying to free one ear from water. "Why wouldn't you want to go back?"
Rose stared at him for a moment, her mouth dangling open. Was he really asking her this?
Then she burst out laughing. It was ridiculous, all of this. Utterly absurd. The Doctor looked at her with wonder, clearly trying to figure out whether she'd lost it now or not. But Rose couldn't stop laughing. Here she was, inside the TARDIS, the Doctor only an armslength away and still, she felt as if she was further away from him than ever before. And he just kept on looking at her like she was some sort of new life form.
She laughed harder and harder, holding her mid-section with one arm while wiping away tears that began to purr down her face. She couldn't remember the last time she laughed so hard she had to cry. She couldn't remember the last time she laughed so hard and didn't enjoy it one bit and suddenly she realized that it were real tears streaming down her cheeks. Her laughter suddenly turned to sobs and she tried to stop, but she couldn't. Desperately, she wiped at her eyes, to make it stop, tried to keep her mouth shut, to keep the betraying sounds inside. She stumbled backwards, still trying to find her ground, trying to get control of herself again. For weeks, she had been hopping across the void, trying to find a Doctor and a TARDIS that fit her. To find HER doctor. It had, by god, not been a pleasant experience. Travelling like this took phenomenal amounts of power - especially power from the person who did the travelling. But back then, it had been worth every failed attempt. Just knowing that, at some point, she would find him, would be able to look at him, to feel his arms around her. Yet here she was and he was trying to ship her away again. It just all became too much.
She was still stumbling through the garage, blindly, trying to find her way out. Out of the room, out of her breakdown, just out. Hiccups mixed themselves through her sobs, her vision blurred, she just wanted out.
Suddenly, she felt arms surrounding her. They let her, blindly, to a chair, forced her down.
"Rose ..." He'd said her name. She looked up, saw him kneeling in front, his face distorted in what could only be described as pain. Rose couldn't take it any more. With something that sounded like something between a yelp and a sob, she very nearly flunk herself into his arms, her arms around his neck, squeezing him tightly while pressing her face into his shoulder.
The Doctor was unmoving for a moment, she could nearly feel the shock her embrace gave him. She nearly pulled away again, lifted her head, when his arms finally found their way around her, crushing her to his chest with all his might.
Rose felt herself losing the last bit of balance she had and soon they were half-laying, half-sitting on the dirty floor but the Doctor, for once, did not seem to care. He just held her, one hand lightly stroking her hair while murmuring her name over and over again. Rose felt herself calming down, her sobs vanishing with each stroke of his hand.
Eventually, she drew away from him, which proved to be difficult because he was holding her so tightly. There were so many questions, so much she wanted to know, but when she looked at him again this time, she forgot everything she meant to say.
It wasn't that he looked extremely sad, or over-joyed. None of those things. But he was there, all of him, his focus so entirely on her. Oh how she'd missed him.
"Doctor", she said, once again. It seemed a little silly to say his name, yet again, but somehow it was the only thing she could say, wanted to say. And suddenly, a bright grin spread across his features. His eyes were full of light and he smiled so widely and happily, that she couldn't help but grin madly herself.
"Rose Tyler ... you are amazing!" He exclaimed before crushing her to him once again and suddenly Rose did not feel scared any more, or unsure. She now knew that everything would be all right.
She was back where she belonged. She was home.