Take 5 – A New Adventure

The Doctor stood next to Rose, holding her hand as they both stared at the empty space the TARDIS left behind. This new, new, new Doctor hoped his presence was comforting. He suspected he wasn't her first choice, but he was still the Doctor, and he desperately wanted that to count for something.

Silence wrapped its tendrils around them, and he was content to let the quiet reign. They both needed to let their disjointed thoughts settle. But as he waited (rather patiently he thought) for Rose to give him a sign, he became aware of an uncomfortable pressure in his hand.

He glanced down to where they were joined and could see the visible signs of the tension that ran through her body. Her knuckles were white, her arm rigid, and as he stared, the pressure on his hand turned from uncomfortable to outright painful. He tried to remain stoic; this was Rose after all, and if she needed to vent by squeezing his hand to a pulp he would let her, but new human nerve endings proved too sensitive. He winced as his knees buckled and one plaintive word escaped him.

"Rose," he whined, raising the other hand to pry the injured one from her hardened and unmerciful grip.

Her head whipped round to look at him and he noted with a gulp of fear her narrowed eyes and the fire that burned behind them. She dropped his hand as if it burned. He tried to brush away his hurt as he cradled the injured limb to his chest.

Suddenly, Rose lunged forward. She pushed him backward and he landed with an ungraceful thump on his hind end in the sand.

"Oi!" he shouted. "What's the big idea?"

Too late he saw the fire in her eyes.

"You left me! Again!" she screamed. "You just waltzed back into your bleedin' time ship and LEFT ME on this damn beach! AGAIN!"

Angry tears streamed down her face. Once upon a time, the man he used to be would have leapt up from the sand and enclosed her tightly in his arms. He would have held her close until the tears ceased and then done something silly to get her to laugh again. He was no longer that man.

"I did not!" he shouted indignantly, climbing to his feet. The pain in his hand was forgotten in the surge of his own anger. He gesticulated wildly to emphasize his point. "I'm standing right here!"

Rose made a choking noise, as if there was suddenly not enough air. It took her a minute to reply. "I know!" she yelled back. "But he didn't stay still long enough for me to yell at him!" She paused, then pointed at him. "And you ARE him!"

Understanding rushed through him, and it took his breath away. Did he, the other one, really make her feel as if he would always abandon her? The realization strengthened his resolve.

"Yes," he said, "I am him. But I am here. And I'm not going anywhere."

Rose lifted her hands and covered her face. He still heard her cries, but between sobs he could just make out her whispered fear. "For how long?"

Two large strides and he had his arms around her holding on as tightly as possible. "Rose, look at me," he commanded. When she didn't respond he reached up and gently pulled her hands away from her face. When he looked deeply into her brown eyes, he said, "I will stay for as long as you will have me. I promise."

She read something in his eyes then, something that gave her some confidence in him that she did not have before. "Forever?" she asked tremulously.

He gave a little smile. "Forever." He said emphatically.

Rose gave a choked laugh, and that was all the encouragement he needed. He smiled back, then with her still in his arms, made a great show of looking left, then right, even though the only company they had on the beach was Jackie.

Satisfied that no one was around, he brought his head close to her ear. "Rose Tyler," he said secretly, "I've done something very naughty."

Rose gave another choked laugh and wiped her damp eyes with her fingers. "When aren't you naughty?"

"Oi!" he said indignantly. They both knew it was farce; his eyes twinkled with merriment.

Rose relented with a sigh. "All right, Doctor. What have you gone and done now?"

With a delighted grin, the Doctor shoved a hand into his jacket pocket. He rooted around for a moment before producing what appeared to be a piece of coral. Puffing out his chest with pride, he presented the item to Rose.

She extended a finger and touched the roseate material. Her eyes widened with wonder when it hummed beneath her touch. Turning wondering eyes to the Doctor, she asked, "What is it?"

"This," he said with excitement, "is a piece of the TARDIS. She gave me permission to nick it while the Git was saying goodbyes on the other Earth."

Rose smiled back at him sadly. "Well," she said softly, not understanding his excitement, "it was nice of her to let us have a souvenir."

"Souvenir?" The Doctor was incredulous. "No, no! Rose, don't you know what this means? We can grow our own TARDIS!"

She took the piece of coral from him and cupped it gently in the palm of her hands. Smiling brilliantly, she looked at him. "Grow our own TARDIS? From this?"

The Doctor nodded so hard he nearly gave himself whiplash. "Oh yes! It will be fantastic!" He gingerly took the piece from her and returned it to his pocket. "It will be a challenge, of course. We will have to scrounge around for the needed materials and make adjustments in order to create the right environment for her to grow. It would help if I had my sonic screwdriver, but the Git never took it out of his pocket so I didn't have the chance to swipe it. And even though we are the same person, I hardly think he would take kindly to me feeling him up, so… Rose?"

Bouncing up and down on her toes, Rose was nearly bursting with excitement. Her tongue peeked out from between her teeth, and when she was certain she had his attention she said, "Oh Doctor, I've been terribly naughty."

The Doctor sucked in sharp breath. "You mean, you –?"

"Ah, no," she said quickly. "I didn't pick his pockets. But I do have this." Mimicking the actions the Doctor had made earlier, she rooted around in her jacket pocket. Clasped tightly within her fingers was a long black cylindrical object.

His face lit up with happiness. "The sonic pen! That's brilliant! But how did you -?"

Rose looked sheepish. "I know I wasn't supposed to bring things across the void, but when I heard this buzzing in the rubbish bin, I just had to take it. Mickey helped me figure out what it was, and once he did, I've carried it with me always."

"Always?"

"Well, yeah," she said, squirming with discomfort. "It was almost like having you near me, and –"

The rest of her sentence was swallowed by the warm lips of the Doctor as he grabbed her in a passionate embrace. The situation might not be perfect, but the Doctor and Rose were together, and in the end, that was all that mattered.

So swept up in the emotions that churned around and through them, they forgot they were not the only two people in the universe.

Jackie cleared her throat loudly. "For cryin' out loud! Can't the two of you even wait till we get off this bloody beach?"