A/N: Here we are, the final chapter, 13, unlucky for some, but not for Rose!
A great big thank you hug to everyone who has taken the time to read this and thank you all for your support xx
Chapter 13: Passing the Test
There had never been a more awkward situation in the history of time and space. Rose sat on the edge of the squashy sofa in her mum's flat, nursing a hot drink, not daring to look up. Jackie was sat next to her on her right, staring, one moment at the Doctor, then at her daughter, then back to the Time Lord, who was sat in an armchair opposite them, trying to look at anything in the room to avoid Jackie's gaze. No one had said anything for five hundred and thirty seven seconds, the Doctor knew by following the extraordinarily loud ticking of the clock. As far as he could tell, Jackie wasn't angry, just confused. She frowned and turned back to Rose.
"You sure nothing's wrong?"
Rose nodded emphatically, trying with all her might to ignore the flush rising up her neck.
"Yeah, mum, nothing's wrong, honest."
Jackie sighed in annoyance. "You just don't seem like yourselves."
The Doctor cleared his throat. "Nope, definitely us."
"You haven't visited in a while." Jackie's voice was monotone and unwavering.
"Yeah, well... you know..." the Doctor stumbled. "Had a lot to do."
Rose sputtered and nearly choked on her tea.
Jackie raised an eyebrow at her daughter, before getting up and heading into the kitchen.
Rose and the Doctor let out a simultaneous breath. The Doctor quickly scooched over to sit next to Rose on the sofa.
"I can't breathe," Rose whispered.
"I know." The Doctor gripped her hand gently, a simple gesture that had taken on a whole new meaning of late.
Rose looked up at him in concern. Was he shaking?
"Let me do it," she insisted.
The Doctor shook his head vigorously. "No, no. I need to do this."
Rose's lip trembled slightly, half terrified, half amused. "She's gonna slap you."
He grimaced, unconsciously rubbing his cheek as if he could already feel the impact. "I know."
Half an hour earlier, they had stood in the doorway of the TARDIS, arguing about the impending disaster: they had to tell Jackie. The Doctor was insisting he do it himself, and Rose was unsure why. But his expression was so full of determination that Rose knew arguing would be pointless. So she let him.
Now, however, she was genuinely concerned for his safety. They'd only just walked into the flat, and Jackie had known something was different about them.
"Shareen was asking after you, love," came the call from the kitchen. "You should pop round and see her."
"Yeah, you should do that now, Rose," the Doctor agreed in an overly loud tone.
Seeing Rose was about to object, he raised an eyebrow at her. She pouted a little, and he couldn't help running his thumb over that lip, but didn't dare to risk a kiss, not with Jackie in the next room.
"Go on," he whispered, nudging her with his shoulder. Rose sighed in defeat, and squeezed his hand, before heading out of the flat.
The Doctor took a deep breath, and straightened his jacket. He headed into the kitchen. Jackie was fussing over some sort of meal, he supposed it was meant for them. He leaned against the door frame, and rubbed his hand over his face.
"Jackie, I need a word."
Rose walked up the stairs, turned right to find number 45, and rapped on the front door. A few moments later Shareen appeared, beaming at her friend.
"'S getting to be a habit, this," she said, wrapping Rose in a bone-crushing hug. Rose grinned at her friend.
"Well, I've just come back to see my mum, so I thought I'd come round."
Shareen eyed her curiously. "Something's different about you."
Rose sighed. How could everyone tell? "Nothing's different, Shar."
"Yes there is."
Rose just shook her head.
Shareen gave in for now, and decided to change the subject. "So how's The Test going?"
At the mention of the infamous Test, Rose blushed, and Shareen's eyes widened in glee.
"Oh, something is different! What's happened? Tell me!"
Rose couldn't help but smile. "I don't think it's meant to work in adult life. Best to leave it buried at school, I think."
Shareen's face exuded disappointment. "So... it didn't work? Nothing happened?"
Rose grinned cheekily. "I didn't say nothing happened..."
"I knew it. Something's wrong."
The Doctor stared at Jackie, fear evident in his face. He felt like he would spontaneously burst into flame under her glare.
"Um..." he really didn't expect his voice to sound so squeaky. "Nothing's wrong, per se. I, um..."
"Doctor, tell me. Is something wrong with my Rose?"
"No no no."
"What is it then?"
He sighed. This was going to be painful. "Jackie," he started, stepping forward. "I made a promise to you, that I would always look after Rose, and I would always bring her back to you. And I always have."
Jackie nodded warily.
"So you know that I keep my word."
"I know, Doctor. What is this about?"
He glanced up at the ceiling before continuing. "So you can believe me when I say I will never take her away from you."
"Yes." She was getting impatient now.
The Doctor swallowed. "Jackie... Rose and I..." he had no idea how to continue. "We're... sort of..."
A look of realisation passed over Jackie's face, and he braced himself for the awaited Tyler Slap. But instead, he heard a soft laugh. He stared at her.
"For a man who gabs all the time you're really making a hash of this, you know."
The Doctor nodded slowly, watching for her reaction carefully.
"Doctor, I think you've proven yourself for long enough. You sent her back to me to keep her safe, and that tells me enough."
The Doctor sighed in silent relief.
Jackie took a step towards him. "But if you ever hurt her, Doctor, I will hunt you down, time and space be damned. And you will regret ever coming into her life."
The Doctor nodded seriously. "Jackie, I would never hurt her."
Jackie eyed him, then mirrored his nod. She suddenly exploded into a huge grin and a squealy voice, and pulled him into an enormous hug, leaving him gasping for air, his arms flailing helplessly.
A little while later, Rose returned, slightly teary eyed after saying goodbye to her friend. The Doctor grinned at her, and nodded towards the kitchen. Jackie was just finishing packing a huge box of food. Rose smiled at her mum's thoughtfulness.
"Mum, we've got food on the TARDIS."
I know, but you never know when you might want some home cooking."
Rose raised an eyebrow at her.
"Well, ADSA cooking, then," Jackie admitted. She held out her arms for her daughter, and hugged her close.
Rose was surprised, but returned the hug. She heard Jackie's voice tremble a little as she whispered in her ear.
"Just you be careful. I'm too young to be a grandmother."
Rose nearly died of embarrassment. "Mum!"
A few hugs later, Rose headed out of the flat, with the box of food tucked under her arm. "See ya, mum. Love you."
The Doctor just smiled politely. "Bye, then, Jackie."
She pulled on his arm and spoke in a quiet tone. "I mean what I said, Doctor."
He nodded. "I know. And so did I. I'll look after her."
"But I've seen that life of yours, Doctor. You can say that now, you'll look after her. But what about tomorrow?"
She stared at him, silently begging for an answer she knew he couldn't give. He left quietly, knowing by the look on Rose's face that she'd heard every word.
Back in the TARDIS, the Doctor let out a sigh of relief, and Rose grinned, wrapping her arms around him. He pressed a kiss down into her hair.
"She didn't even slap you."
"Can't quite believe it myself."
"I would have told her, you know. She's my mum, after all," Rose looked up at him.
"I needed to tell her, Rose."
He sighed again, a troubled sigh, and pulled out of her embrace. He went over to the console, and flicked several switches before looking up at her again. She was staring at him intently.
"Rose, I know what it feels like to have your family torn away from you, everything you ever loved..." his voice wavered, and he composed himself before continuing. "I had to make sure she knew I wasn't going to do that to her."
Rose swallowed, her eyes shining with unshed tears. She had no idea what to say. She didn't have to.
"Rose... I don't think you'll ever know how much this means to me," he managed to say in a voice that wasn't condescending.
"What d'you mean?" She stepped tentatively over to him.
"How much you mean to me, Rose."
Rose's lip trembled. "Then... tell me, Doctor."
He looked down into her eyes, and instantly got lost there. Deep in those beautiful eyes, he finally felt like he was home.
"Rose... I love you."
Rose's heart fluttered as the words permeated her soul. Her eyelids flickered, sending a single tear cascading down her cheek.
"I love you, too, Doctor."
The Doctor didn't react. He looked close to tears himself. Still gazing into her eyes, he whispered something so quietly she thought she'd misheard.
"That's not my name, Rose."
Rose could feel her heart pounding in her ears, and slowly reached out for his hand. "Tell me," she whispered back.
Slowly, but not uncertainly, he leaned down close to her, and whispered in her ear. The word felt strange on his tongue after so many years being unuttered. It embodied the Oncoming Storm, and it burned itself into Rose's heart and mind. She sighed shakily, and repeated it back to him. He visibly trembled, and looked back into her loving eyes. But there was a tiny spark of doubt in those eyes.
"What is it, Rose?"
"I..." she really didn't want to say it, but it had to be said. "What my mum said. She's right, you know. What about the future? What about tomorrow?"
The Time Lord exhaled loudly, and took both her hands in his. "You know I can't say for certain, Rose. I don't know about tomorrow," he replied honestly. "But we have today."
She looked up at him, and smiled a watery smile. "Today. Yeah. What shall we do today?"
The Doctor smiled, and pulled down a lever on the console, a groan erupting from the TARDIS.
"Today, we have the whole of time and space. Just me and you."
A/N: Thank you all so much for reading, I'm so pleased with the response I've had. I know a lot of you really didn't want it to end, so in the future I will probably do a sequel. For now, I'm going to start a new story. Thank you to everyone who voted in my poll, I think I agree with the majority. So my next story will be The Three Sided Story, a mystery/romance, where the Doctor and Rose get stuck in the Bermuda Triangle. It'll be another 'will they/won't they?' story, just because I love writing the tension between them!
Thanks again everyone, please leave a review xx