Author's Note: Takes place in the same universe as my other 10.5/Rose fic. All 10.5/Rose fics will take place within this timeline unless otherwise noted. Written for the 30kisses theme #4- Our distance and that person. Journey's End Compliant. Has a happy ending. The Gallifreyan matched lifespans bit refers to the novel Lungbarrow. I'm not a big fan of Lungbarrow and don't consider it canon, but I liked that bit enough to use it.
The sun had begun slipping behind the clouds shortly after the Doctor and Donna left Rose and Jackie with his duplicate on a chilly Norwegian Beach. Jackie had quickly gotten caught up in her cellphone conversation with Pete. She was arranging transportation for them and trying to explain the situation at hand. "Yes, Rose is with me. Mickey's not. No, he's fine. Also, we're bringing the Doctor home. Really, he came back with us. Yeah, he sort of did. It's hard to explain. I'll tell you later. Yes I have a credit card. We can stay at that inn up the way. I remember it. We'll be fine. No, just get here as soon as you can. Tomorrow would be great. Love you, bye."
They walked in near silence up to the seaside inn, small bits of conversation popping up here and there and ending just as quickly. The Doctor and Rose stood next to each other, but Rose didn't make direct eye contact with him, preferring to watch her shoes or her mother's back. Jackie would glance back at them from time to time, concern obvious in her expression.
Once they reached the inn, Jackie registered two rooms and handed keycards to the Doctor and Rose. "I s'ppose you can stay with me, Rose. Doctor, you can have your own room." She paused and frowned slightly. "Unless…"
"No Mum, I'll stay with you," Rose answered her unfinished question.
Jackie couldn't miss the awkward tension between the Doctor and Rose and sighed deeply. "Well I think I'm gonna take a nap right now, actually. Bit exhausted, saving the world and killing Daleks and all. Rose, why don't you go to the Doctor's room for a while and you two can catch up."
Rose looked between the pair and nodded, following the Doctor up to their room on the second flight. She didn't see it, but the Doctor glanced back at Jackie and mouthed what couldn't be mistaken as anything else but "thanks."
Once they reached the room, they sat in silence together on the edge of the bed for several minutes. It was the Doctor that finally broke the ice. "Remember the last time we stayed in an inn together?"
"Yeah I do," Rose responded softly.
"It was that planet with the probatchrians, the things that looked like flying manatees," he recalled. "Freezing place, luckily they had plenty of blubber."
"A luxury resort on a freezing planet. How could I forget? Also remember how you… err he." Rose caught herself before finishing the sentence and bit her lip. She knew that technically it was not this man who had shared all of those adventures with her. Or not this body at least. The Doctor had changed bodies once before when they were together, but this wasn't the same. It wasn't even comparable. Nonetheless, as much as it felt wrong to say "you," it felt just as wrong to say "he." On the beach she'd called him Doctor. That wasn't incorrect. Regardless of whether there was another him flying about time and space in the TARDIS somewhere, it was still the man in the blue suit's name.
She knew this but hadn't noticed how she'd avoided calling him that since they left the beach together. He had, discerning how he'd been referred to as "you," or when talking about him to Jackie, "he."
Rose looked down to her feet, watching them swing back and forth over the edge of the bed. "Sorry… I…" she began after a lengthy pause.
"Rose," the Doctor cut in, "it's okay."
"No, it's not. It's just not right." She kicked the bed. "I know. I get it. You're the Doctor. Same mind, same memories, same appearance."
She walked over to the window and pushed aside the curtain, glancing up at the starscape. "But somewhere out there is the Doctor. The one who originated those memories. And to just pretend you're exactly him…" Rose turned her head slightly when she felt him join her at her side. She raised her eyes to meet his. "It feels unfair to him. Like I'm pretending that he's still here so I'll eventually forget that he's not. And you… you're someone to play pretend with. I'm sorry. I'm so stupid."
"When I kissed you on the beach, I thought 'how long have I wanted to do this?' It felt so right, and for that moment I forgot that the Doctor was not in my arms, and it wasn't him I kissed." Rose couldn't miss the way the Doctor's expression changed as she spoke. By the time she'd finished, his face was downcast and his eyes hurt. She looked away quickly, not wanting to face how her words had cut him.
"Your feelings are the same. And here I am just rattling on about how you're not him and I shouldn't pretend you are and y'know… like I'm rejecting you. "
"Are you?" His voice was taut with anxiety. Rose shook her head vehemently.
"No, no. Right old prat I am though, talking like that to your face." She breathed deeply and glanced down, letting her hair shadow her face. Her breath caught when she felt his arms wrap around her center, and she was pulled towards his chest.
"Rose." His chin rested on the top of her head and she could feel his jaw move as he spoke. "Don't think that I don't know these things. I know you and I know me. You say you'll miss him and we can't pretend it's the same. I understand. Because as much as you'll think about him every time you look at the stars, so will I."
"But… you can't miss yourself."
She felt him smile. "I can't really. But I can know what he's feeling."
"It's not as if you're linked, right?"
"No, nothing like that. But… I know he's, I'm out there. That other part of me that's the same, I know exactly how he thinks and what he's thinking. I just have to put myself in that situation, and I know."
Rose placed her hands on his tentatively. "What… what is he thinking?" The Doctor rubbed his thumb over her fingers.
"He thinks he did the right thing."
"Tell me what else… he's thinking?" Rose queried, and the Doctor knew he couldn't give her the glossy and content answer.
"He is going to miss you, with all of his hearts. He feels a deep ache whenever something triggers your memory. He's always felt this. Your presence still lingers in the TARDIS. He never changed your room, but the TARDIS is careful never to let him happen upon it. She always takes good care of him. " He rocked back and forth, Rose moving with him. "A tiny part of him might resent me, himself. He's not infallible. Maybe he could have traveled the rest of your life with you, if I hadn't come to be. The thought definitely crosses his mind. He thinks that even if I hadn't needed 'fixing,' it still would have been for the best to leave me here with you."
"Because of what I can give you. I can give you forever, and Rose… he loves you more than he can face. It's true that he was afraid of losing you, of finishing that sentence and letting himself be yours. But he chose the ending he thought would make you the happiest."
"But I was happy with him! I understood that he'd live and I'd die. I'd grow old and he wouldn't. I knew this and it was… fine…" Tears splashed from her cheeks and onto the Doctor's and Rose's clasped hands. "Why does he have to dictate what's best for me? Why does he have to make sure he's so… lonely?"
"That's the burden of a Time Lord…"
"So daft. That's exactly what he'd say." She sniffed. "So being a Time Lord is another term for… pushing everyone away?"
"I never wanted to leave you," the Doctor dropped the third-person singular. "Never. On Gallifrey, when a non Gallifreyan promises themselves to a Time Lord, their life spans match. As selfish as it is… if my planet were still around, I would have offered you that."
"I would have taken it in a heartbeat," Rose spoke without hesitation.
"Don't think I doubt that." She felt a small smile pass the Doctor's features. "I can't say anything that will make this all better. You know as well as I know that I'd just be lying."
"Yeah, and I appreciate you telling the truth. It's not really… helping though."
"But Rose." He breathed deeply, taking in the scent of her hair. "Whatever the other me is feeling right now and however much he hurts, it would hurt him more to think you're miserable with me."
"I know," she paused. "Do you… resent him?" She queried tentatively, in response to his earlier statement.
The Doctor didn't respond. He pulled his chin from atop her head, although his arms remained wrapped around her.
"You called me Doctor." He changed the subject. Rose turned her head and looked up at him, the unanswered question within her eyes. The Doctor inhaled sharply. "If I said no, would you believe me?"
"I um… I dunno."
"Because I don't think I do, really," he began. "I mean I can't fairly blame him for that whole one-heart thing, or the fact that I seem to have picked up a bit of Donna's choice slang."
Rose stifled a laugh. "You have? I haven't noticed." She shook her head. "But what 'bout that whole thing at the bay. You seemed mad."
"When he talked about how I was dangerous, it angered me."
"He was wrong. You're not dangerous."
"You're right, and I know I won't be."
"Then how comes you don't resent him? How comes you know you won't be?" Rose raised her hand up to his shoulder.
"Because I'm with you," he spoke it simply, as if it were the most obvious thing in the world.
She resisted the urge to kiss him right then and there and instead pulled away completely. "I'm s'posed to 'fix you' though, whatever that means."
The Doctor reached out to her again, but retracted his hand at the last moment. "You don't have to do anything."
"Well s'not like I don't want to…"
He shook his head. "I meant that you don't have to try. You never did before, did you? You were just yourself. That was enough."
She glanced back towards the window and exhaled deeply. "You don't resent him 'cuz you have me." Her brown eyes scanned the stars, bright as they could be in this rural area. "But he doesn't." Tears welled in her eyes and she whipped around to face him, a hint of anger in her voice. "And I understand it! I understand you're the same. That he's you and you're him. And it doesn't matter that you have… one heart or whatever. You don't need to explain that to me. Neither of you do. I'm not daft."
"Rose. The two years I was without you there was one thing that kept me going," the Doctor responded.
His lips curled up into a small smile. "The fact that you were alive… so very alive. And the hope that you were having a fantastic life. That will continue to be what keeps him going, what keeps him fighting."
Rose gulped. "Doctor I…"
"I can try my hardest to give you that. It's what I want." He placed his hand on her shoulder and ran his fingers through the end of her hair. "Both of us."
She sniffed and wiped her eyes. "S'just… I dunno."
He felt the rise of her shoulders as she sighed audibly as well as the tension and tightness of the muscles beneath his hand. "If this is awkward for you, we don't have to do it." The Doctor looked into her eyes, and she thought they looked so old and so pained, that she glanced down to her feet to avoid them. "I could leave." He laughed, a hollow laugh at the irony of finally having Rose back, forever, and this coming between that.
There was such disappointment in his voice, such heartache, that Rose felt the urge to hold him, stroke his hair, never let go. Her head fought it, but her heart wanted more than anything to give in.
If there was one thing that Rose had learned since she met the Doctor, what seemed like so many years ago, it was that her heart usually knew better. Sure she'd made mistakes, Jimmy Stone for one. But if she hadn't listened to her heart, she never would have gone with the Doctor in the first place.
He'd begun to pull away and she reached up and grasped his hand, stopping him. "No, wait."
The Doctor raised his eyebrows. "You're right 'bout everything. I'm… sorry. It's just so… weird, if you know what I mean."
He smiled lightly. "I know what you mean."
"And thank you, Doctor." She used his name deliberately. "Thank you for helpin' me… figure this out."
"I do understand that my other self will always be a part of our lives. I don't want you to forget him, just as I wouldn't want to be forgotten."
"Just like you'll always be a part of his." Rose smiled weakly at this. "But I am the Doctor, as much as he is. And Rose… if you'll have me, I want to be a part of the rest of your life."
Rose's smile grew and she wrapped her arms around his shoulders. "I'd like that Doctor, I would." He responded by encircling his arms around her center and pulling her towards him in an embrace. "We'll make it an adventure, won't we?" She asked, breathing in the scent of his hair as the embrace grew deeper.
"Yeah… the one adventure I can finally have." And the Doctor could feel her beam at him.
They stood there for a moment, or it could have been minutes. Time was lost on them as they held each other, as if reassuring the tangibility of the other's presence.
A moment, or minutes later, Rose pulled away, suddenly realizing something. "Doctor… you said earlier that you didn't resent him. But…"
"But what?" He asked, already impatient to touch her again.
"What about the TARDIS? He just took it and ran. It's yours too… and now you're stuck on Earth. I mean you can work at Torchwood with me and there's lots to do there, but won't you miss the stars?" She turned back towards the window and the vivid rural starscape.
"Well, I think I can live without my TARDIS for a few years," he replied, conversationally.
"Wait, what?" Rose blinked, confused. "You said you couldn't build a new TARDIS."
The Doctor grinned, that special grin he used only when something thrilled him beyond compare. She thought he could have used his brainy specs about now. He stepped behind Rose, and wrapped his arms around her, resting his chin on her head again. "Can't build one Rose, you're right about that." He took one of her hands and opened it, placing two small objects in her palm and closing it around them. "But… if you want, I can grow one."
Rose opened up her hand and gasped. There was a rocky piece of beige substance, which she clearly recognized as the coral that made up the TARDIS walls. In addition to that, there was a small crystal, glowing green. "Doctor… is this…"
"The coral is a piece of the TARDIS. It will work as a seed, essentially. The power cell will help it grow faster."
"So it will be like the old one, travels through time and space and everything? Bigger on the inside too?" Her voice rose in pitch as her excitement grew.
"He gave it to me before we arrived at Dårlig ulv stranden. We'll have a fully functioning TARDIS in just a few years time." He paused thoughtfully. "Well…"
The Doctor was interrupted by the full weight of Rose, jumping up into his arms so enthusiastically, he almost fell over. Her legs dangled as he held her up and he hugged her so tightly they could scarcely breathe.
"A TARDIS, a real TARDIS for us!" She exclaimed, as if still disbelieving it.
"Why Rose," he lowered her to the ground and continued, cheek in his tone, "I thought for sure you'd have preferred the domestic approach."
She giggled and reached up to stroke his cheek. "You know me better than that." Rose placed the precious TARDIS pieces in his hand and he pocketed them. Their eyes met and she noticed how his were sparkling now. She thought hers must be the same.
"As I was saying, well it won't be as big. My TARDIS has been growing for hundreds and hundreds of years. Plus it won't look like a police box, although we could always break the chameleon circuit again if…"
The Doctor was interrupted, this time, by Rose's lips pressing against his. His eyes widened at her spontaneity and he quickly responded, closing his eyes and returning the kiss. Rose's fingers ran through his hair and along the back of his neck, and his hands wandered across and down her back.
She didn't have to say it, but they both knew Rose would have no second guesses about this kiss.