The Doctor stared at the reflection in the wardrobe mirror as he carefully knotted his tie without looking, long, long years of practice making that unnecessary. He could see snow falling outside through the window. He shifted his attention away from the wardrobe and glanced around the room as he slipped his arms through the blue jacket.
The bedroom was small, most of the space taken up by the double bed and a small nightstand beside it. Rose had made up the bed that morning, the pale blue duvet cover pulled neatly over sheets printed with tiny pink flowers. Some of his things were piled messily on a chair in the corner. Rose had hung a few prints on the wall for color. Most of them were generic scenes of wildflowers, but they made her happy so the Doctor was happy to tolerate them.
In his mind's eyes he could see Rose's bedroom in the TARDIS. Hot pink walls, a beautiful mirror in an ornate frame, cosmetics spilling over the top of her dressing table. She'd hung things on the wall there, too, but they had been souvenirs of their travels, snaps of the two of them in various locales.
The stab of pain that went through him shocked him, and he placed his hand on the chair to steady himself.
"She's gone," he told himself. "Better accept it for now. You'll get her back."
He stayed still a moment longer, willing himself to believe that.
Rose hummed to herself as she slid the small roast into the oven. She checked to make sure the oven was working properly - sometimes it shut off without warning - and set about cleaning up. The small radio on the counter playing Christmas carols was pleasant company as she stacked spoons and dishes in the sink.
She turned her attention to cleaning off the table. Its top was cream-colored, with small rectangles of yellow, mustard and orange marching around the edges. It was old and hideously ugly and Rose liked to keep it covered whenever possible, but the Doctor was very messy when it came to pouring tea or spreading jam on his toast. She unfurled the clean tablecloth and spread it over the tabletop. The cloth itself was red, washable and cheerful and the plainest design Rose could find at Woolworth's.
She set the table with dishes from the cabinet. Rose had upgraded from four white plates to six when Billy joined them, and added a third mug for his tea. She had asked Billy to come for Christmas but he'd told her he had other plans. They'd been speaking on the telephone, not in person, but she thought she detected a spark of happiness in his voice that hadn't been there before. She was definitely going to ask him about it after the holidays.
"All right. How do I look?" The Doctor stood in the doorway, wearing the blue suit she'd bought him.
Rose smiled and went over to him. "I love it!" She straightened his tie and patted his collar. "You look so handsome."
"Thank you." He leaned down and brushed her lips with his. "It fits perfectly."
"Good. I'm just tossing the dishes in the sink," she said over her shoulder as she returned to what she was doing. "We can do the washing up tomorrow."
"Fine with me." He peered at the oven and was about to open the door when she slapped his hand with a dishrag.
"Stop that," she told him. "I just turned it on."
"I'm hungry," he protested.
"A raw roast won't help you," she said sternly, and he was forced to agree that she was right. He starting digging around and came up with a bag of crisps.
"You'll ruin your appetite," she warned, and he rolled his eyes at her. "I mean it," she insisted. "Have an apple."
He gave her his best grumpy face but retrieved an apple from the fruit basket.
"I like it this way," he remarked as he took a bite. "Just you and me today."
She smiled at him in agreement as she poured herself a glass of water. "Me, too."
They'd gotten multiple invitations for Christmas. Jeff had invited them to his family's holiday dinner. Iris had offered an invitation to her family home, with the warning that it would be formal and dull. Even Mrs. MacMurray had invited them to her niece's home in Croydon for dinner, saying it would be a shame for them to spend Christmas on their own.
They had declined them all, selfishly wanting to have Christmas day to themselves. Nancy had begged them to come round on Boxing Day, and that they agreed to that with pleasure.
Rose finished her water and bit her lip. "It's not home, though." She didn't elaborate about which home that was, whether she meant Jackie's or the TARDIS, because both had become home for them, at the end.
"No, but we're still together." As far as he was concerned, that was the best part. Most of the time he felt like a starry-eyed teen-ager, wandering around living life while thinking thoughts of Rose Tyler. It was a pleasant state to be in. "That's the important part."
She set down the glass and walked over to him. "I know." She got up on tiptoe to kiss his cheek. "But anything could still happen, right?"
He wrapped his arms around her waist and sighed. "I'm not losing all hope, Rose. We must have faith that Sally can see this through."
She buried her head in his chest. "Sometimes I think I'm just going to wake up and be back in my bed in my mum's flat. That this is all a dream. Weeping angels and time travel and disappearing neighbors and...and all of it!"
His hand came up to rub the back of her head. "Would you kick me if I said sometimes I don't want it to be a dream?"
Her head came up so quickly she smacked the top of it on his chin. "What?"
"Ouch." He rubbed his chin and looked down at her reproachfully.
"Did you just say you hope this isn't a dream?" she demanded. "Are you enjoying this?"
"Seriously, now, Rose. Obviously it's reality. But I can't say I regret what's happened. I miss the TARDIS, yes, of course, but if we'd stayed...we wouldn't be here right now, like this." A squeeze of his arms around her waist indicated what he meant by 'like this'.
"No," she allowed, moving out of his embrace to check the temperature on the oven. "You were the worst when it comes to making a move."
He watched her with a faint smile on his face. "Is that what my problem was?"
"One of many. It certainly took you long enough."
"Now, that's hardly fair! If I'd known how delightful this would be, I would have gone domestic a lot sooner."
"Liar," she said with a smile. "The thought of sharing a mortgage once made you tremble."
"But we're not sharing a mortgage!" he pointed out. "Just a flat."
She threw a tea towel at him.
Rose slipped away to the bedroom after dinner, leaving the Doctor to eat the last of the roasted potatoes while he watched the Queen's speech. Opening up the drawer where her mobile phone sat, she dialed the familiar number, sat on the bed, and waited. "This line is no longer in service."
She sighed. "Merry Christmas, Mum." For just a minute, she let herself think about Jackie and Pete, living happily with her new sibling. She didn't regret being where she was - she'd made her choice at Canary Wharf and she'd never wished otherwise. She just wanted to be able to speak to her mother again.
Rose put the phone away and went to join the Doctor. He made room for her beside him, tossing a bright red afghan across her knees as she snuggled up beside him. He'd drawn the drapes in an attempt to keep out the chill and Rose was more than willing to share his body heat.
She peered into the bowl on his lap. "Any left?"
He handed her a fork with a potato speared on the tines. "Here you go."
She sighed happily as the Christmas programs came on the television. They'd travelled all over time and space, but nothing they'd seen was as inviting and cozy as the small flat they were stuck with.
Later, as he kissed her in their bed, he confided in a whisper, "This is the best Christmas I've ever had."
They ended 1969 the way they began it. Together. On New Year's Eve the Doctor popped popcorn and found the most entertaining program on the television. Rose put away the Christmas decorations as they talked about nothing much at all.
"Iris thinks Jamie is going to propose soon," she confided, winding tinsel around a cardboard roll. "He's been making comments here and there."
"Really? Imagine little Jamie all grown up," he mused.
"We don't have to imagine. We see him grown up all the time."
"I know. But still." The Doctor sighed. "It's hard to watch someone grow up. They go from child to adult in the blink of an eye! And then they get older, and you have to say goodbye."
Rose carefully avoided his eyes as she put the tinsel away in a box. "Are you very familiar with that?" Her heart pounded as she waited for his answer.
"Not very much, no. Jamie's the first child I can remember meeting again as an adult." He fell silent for a moment, staring at his hands before clearing his throat. "Don't forget the stockings!" He picked them up from the floor and placed them in the small box Rose had dedicated to the Christmas things. "Things are shaping up around here."
Rose followed his gaze in amazement, accepting that it was not the time to discuss his past. "Are you serious?"
"What? It's certainly a lot neater without all the tinsel and the tree and the paper snowflakes."
The room was mostly cleared of holiday decor, but it still boasted abandoned cups of tea, old newspapers, and a number of stacks of books, piled untidily atop one another. Rose would have thought he was insulting her housekeeping if he didn't look so pleased about it.
"Well, it's certainly lived in," she allowed. "Better that than my grams' sitting room, where you couldn't touch anything or sit on the sofa in case it got dirty."
"So where did you sit?"
"In the kitchen."
"When did she use the sitting room?"
"She never did." Rose shook her head fondly. "She was so worried about keeping it clean that no one ever sat there. When she did the furniture was still in its plastic wrapping."
He was fascinated and repelled at the same time. "Plastic wrap? On her sofa? I don't know what to say."
Returning to her task, Rose carefully wrapped up the angel tree topper in a length of tissue paper. The Doctor watched in amusement. "I didn't realize that was one of the crown jewels. I thought it was just an angel from Woolworth's."
"She is. But she's pretty."
He quirked his eyebrow at that, and she ignored him. "She is."
"Rose, she's hideous."
A piece of popcorn lay forgotten on the floor. She threw it at him.
"I think she's lovely." Rose set her on the very top of the box of Christmas things and closed the lid. "Just for that, you can put this away for me. I think there's some space on top of the wardrobe."
After the Christmas things were put away, the Doctor made another pot of tea.
"Are you ready for midnight?" he asked as he poured out two cups.
"Yes. Shall we watch the fireworks outside?"
"Let's stay in and watch from the window," he decided, and as he carried their cups back to the sofa she opened up the drapes. The sky was starting to light up.
"Here we are, then." Rose watched the clock tick the seconds away to midnight. "Happy new year."
"Yes. New year."
"Doctor," she whispered.
"Happy new year."
"Happy new year, Rose."
She leaned against him, glad for the secure feeling of his arms around her, holding her close. Together they watched the fireworks light up the sky as time slipped away around them.