Just an Ordinary Love Story
When I was nineteen years old I met a man called the Doctor. He grabbed my hand and told me to run and I did. We never stopped running. He took me away from home in his magical machine and showed me the whole of time and space. I thought it would last forever.
I was wrong.
The army of ghosts came, and Torchwood and the war. We were separated by a wall that could never be breached, him on one side and I on the other in an entirely different universe. I'd tried to save the universe and in the process I'd lost him.
He'd said I could never see him again, speaking as a hologram on a deserted beach in Norway. I don't know that I ever believed him. I'd told him forever and I'd meant it. I loved him, and even if he couldn't say it back, I knew that he loved me, too.
So I never gave up.
I went back and found my Doctor. I'm not saying it was easy, because it was anything but. I saw things I should never have seen, did things I shouldn't have been able to do, things that burn within me still. But I kept going, because I knew he was out there, somewhere.
I found my Doctor in the midst of a darkness that was unlike anything either of our universes had ever seen. Death and destruction like I wouldn't have believed possible.
But I found him. I was not leaving him again. We were going to save the universe again and be together. We'd travel and have adventures and everything would be as it was before.
Things never happen the way you think they will. To save his life the Doctor changed into two men, identical but for the fact that one was human. One heart, one lifetime. Entirely unlike the Doctor.
And then the Doctor did what I never thought he would do. He left me behind again, left his human counterpart. Trapped us together on a world where neither one of us belonged, where neither one of us wanted to be.
Some women would be angry. Some would be devastated. Some would give up.
I did all those things. And then I realized I'd been given a gift.
Maybe you think I should have tried harder to keep him, to stay with him, to go back to his universe and find him again.
Maybe you wouldn't think I could be happy, under the circumstances.
You'd be wrong.
Just know that these things will never change for us at all
"'Today is the first day of the rest of your life'," the Doctor reads out loud. "'Try new things. Meet new people. Read new books. Anticipate each moment as a potential for new and exciting experiences.'"
"Horoscopes are rubbish. I wish you'd stop."
"My horoscope has been accurate 12% of the time this year," he informs her loftily.
"I'm amazed it's even that close," Rose retorts. "You don't even know your proper birthdate."
"Of course I do. It's July 5." He winks at her from over the top of the newspaper. "You were there, remember?"
Rose bites back a rude comment. This fascination with horoscopes is fairly new. She worries it may be an outgrowth of the Donna in him. These things have come out gradually in the past few months. Horoscopes, a new enthusiasm for shopping, a fondness for stuffed animals that Rose is trying very hard to discourage.
Perhaps the fondness for sweets and obsession with hair care are also from Donna, but he'd had those traits long before that biological meta-crisis. They're just a bit more pronounced now.
"I'm not sure that counts as your birthday," she says instead, and takes a bite of her toast.
"It's my birthday of record. Close enough." He takes a huge bite of his own toast.
Rose looks at him fondly. The Doctor is sitting here at her kitchen table, sharing a breakfast of toast and coffee. His hair is tousled six ways to Sunday, and there is a smear of marmalade on his red t-shirt. Soon they'll get dressed and leave for work. They'll ride the tube or drive, depending on their mood. They'll hunt down aliens or do paperwork, have dinner, go home and watch tv or hang out with friends.
It's not a new routine, but it's one that still remains precious to her. She has the Doctor - her Doctor - and he loves her. He is human and he is hers and he loves her.
"Here, I'll read yours," the Doctor is saying, but is cut off by a beeping alarm. "Time for a feeding," he says instead.
Rose grabs the canister and follows him to the spare room. It still holds the guest bed and all of his clothing in the wardrobe, but now there is a cot in the middle of the room.
The Doctor throws open the curtains. Sunshine floods the room. Rose edges to the cot and peers inside.
"She's getting big," the Doctor observes. "We'll have to move her soon."
Rose pries open the canister. "How can you tell?"
He points into the cot. "She's grown a good four inches since we set her inside here."
Rose looks skeptical.
"Honestly, Rose, if you looked at my growth charts you could track this for yourself."
Ah, the growth charts. There is a reason Rose hasn't looked at them. They're lengthy, over-analytical, and filled with drawn-out scientific equations. Also, he's written half of the data in Gallifreyan.
She hands him the container without comment.
He clucks his tongue and carefully pours the contents into a small tube. Standing together, heads touching, they bend over the cot.
The small piece of coral sits there in the middle of Tony's old cot, surrounded by baby blankets. Carefully placed pieces of foil reflect light back onto its body to encourage healthy growth. It's growing slowly but steadily, but looks nothing like a real TARDIS, at least as far as Rose can tell.
The coral is organic matter, and the Doctor has been nurturing it for the past six months with a protein-based liquid that looks like plant food.
"We'll have to move her," he says. "Ideally, somewhere with a lot more room. Once I set her in place we won't want to move her again. Then I can accelerate the growth process."
Rose doesn't ask how he knows this. Time Lords just do. With the information that Donna gave him, back on Bad Wolf Bay, this TARDIS shouldn't take nearly as long to grow as they traditionally did.
"Will we need more room than what we have in the flat?" Rose asks him.
"I think so, yeah."
"How much longer, do you think?"
He's consulting his growth charts. "A few weeks, maybe two or three months."
Rose sighs. "At least we have some time to think about it."
"It's not s much the growing, although you know it'll get bigger."
Rose nods. "What is it, then?"
"There's a lot of work that goes into building a TARDIS, building the hardware and bits around the part that's alive and growing," he explains. "It's not something that should be done inside a flat."
Rose reads between the lines. "You mean there'll be noise and sparks and explosions."
He laughs. "No. Not exactly." He pauses and looks off into nothing, and she suspects she's more correct than he's letting on. "Well, maybe some sparks," he allows.
Rose glances around the room, trying to imagine it singed and sparking.
"It's not that I don't like the flat," he says on the way to work.
Rose looks up in surprise. "Were we talking about the flat?"
They took the tube in that morning, Rose reading through the morning newspaper, looking for suspicious, possible alien activity, while he played with his mobile phone. They'd gotten off a stop early to walk the rest of the way, because the morning turned out sunny and warm.
"We need more room," he says, as they walk along, hand in hand. "I'm very happy there, but the TARDIS will keep growing."
Rose nods. "What do you suggest we do?"
"We need a building," he says promptly. "Someplace quiet we can place it and leave it alone."
"An entire building? Are we talking Torchwood size?"
"Not that big, Rose. Like a storage shed, maybe. Something in a garden."
"My parents have that guest house."
"Yes, but sometimes they have guests who stay in it."
Rose waits. He's working up to something, and eventually he'll come out and say what he's thinking.
He looks at her, serious and intent. "I thought a house with a garden would be perfect. We could build something in the back for it."
Rose isn't sure how to react. "You want to buy a house so the TARDIS has a place to live?"
"I was planning a house anyway, you know," he tells her. "I've been waiting for the right time to ask."
"To buy a house?"
"To ask you if you want a house. It's a big commitment, as I understand it, among humans, anyway."
He understands a lot less about humans than he thinks he does, but Rose lets this one pass.
"It's a commitment," she agrees, "but you and I have that already." She pauses for a beat. "Right?"
"Of course," he says, so readily that she can tell it's an absolute fact for him. "So would you like to? Buy a house?"
"We could buy a house. It'd be nice to have some more room."
He smiles at her. Rose has the feeling there's more going on than just buying a house, but he's not letting her in on it just yet. She looks at him closely, studying his face. He is all open innocence and loving affection.
Maybe she's imagining it.
She smiles back at him. If she's not imagining it, she'll figure it out soon enough. The man is nearly incapable of keeping a secret.
He may be simply smiling, he may be hiding his true plans behind that smile. Rose has experienced both things. She rests her head against his shoulder for a moment. He wraps his arm around her and hugs her close for a moment. He releases her as they reach the Torchwood Tower.
Rose has worked there for a long time, but sometimes a chill will come over her when she's unprepared. Memories of a long-ago, faraway Torchwood at Canary Wharf will swamp her, and in her mind's eye she will see silver robots and Daleks.
He squeezes her hand in assurance and she looks at him gratefully.
"Other time, other place," he reminds her.
"I know." And she does. This is a brand new world, and it is theirs.