The Doctor looked through the open doors of the TARDIS. He had finally gotten the landing right. On his first try, he and Donna had landed in Pompeii… on Volcano Day. The second time he Sarah-Jane and Luke landed in Sardinia… a bit off in distance but not time. Then finally he and Martha, who was back visiting, landed in Rome, right time period and everything.
"Finally Doctor, I was beginning to wonder if you really even remembered how to fly that thing!" Martha laughed at him. But the Doctor wasn't listening. Outside the doors to the TARDIS he saw an achingly familiar villa and a sadly familiar statue of a young man being covered with a sheet. "Earth to Doctor, come in Doctor1 OI! Doctor!"
"Oh, sorry Martha." He mentally shook himself. "SO, Rome! Anything you want to do, there's a festival going on at the moment celebrating the Gods. Today is For- Fortuna…" His voice slowly trailed off.
"Okay Doctor. What is it?" Martha asked, pursing her lips and standing there in such a motherly fashion that he had to grin.
"Nothing," he replied, "It's just, I've been here before." he sighed, "With Rose… We'll be here tomorrow, at this very villa. That's probably why the TARDIS landed us here; she misses Rose almost as much as I do."
"Why don't we hang around for a bit," Martha suggested softly, "You could see her, maybe even speak to her if you're careful."
"I can't do that." the Doctor said, pained. "If my other self catches me, well, let's just call it a hole ripped in the universe, roughly the size of…" he took a moment to calculate,"…Belgium. Why is it always Belgium? Every time I do that calculation that's the size, why not the size of Luxemburg, I mean really."
"Aside from that rant about Belgium, which I will ignore Doctor, I said carefully." she leaned forward, "There has to have been a time when she went somewhere alone and you didn't come barging in. Come on Doctor, think."
"The morning she went to model for the statue…" He whispered, "The morning she got turned to stone. OOOH Donna that's BRILLANT! I didn't go; I was talking to our host about his son! THANK YOU Martha!" He ran off excitedly, already thinking about what he would say.
"Did you say, turned to STONE doctor?!" she called after him, but he was already gone, "There he goes haring off again. Blimey, he never stands still for very long."
Martha turned and walked to her room, now was as good a time as ever to catch up on her sleep.
The next day dawned and the Doctor was up and about, beaming and bouncing around the control room.
"Good morning Martha! Positively beautiful day isn't it?" when she merely muttered something that sounded vaguely like 'blow it out your arse spaceman' the doctor merely resumed his cheerful monologue. "I just have to move the TARDIS a little further away from the house so that my future self won't see it. Then we can go shopping in town. Tonight I'll see Rose and then tomorrow morning again."
One simple word had roused her out of her lethargy: "Shopping? Did you say shopping: As in merchants and stalls and things to buy and all of that lovely therapeutic goodness?"
"Yes Martha, shopping." rolling his eyes he set the TARDIS back down in the cover of the trees and ran out of the TARDIS, Donna following close behind.
A couple of hours later and they were in Rome. The Doctor and Martha Walked among the stalls and browsed; laughing over this and that and having a generally good time. Then the Doctor stiffened, noticing the Doctor's discomfort, Martha looked at him.
"What is it Doctor?" she asked concerned, preparing to have to run for her life.
"Rose is here." he muttered, "Just behind me and off to the side, walking with, well, me and an older man."
"Oh I can see the blonde hair?" Martha said, the Doctor nodded in reply, "Ooh Doctor, she looks so pretty in that dress. The two of you look adorable together… and so, well, so in love."
"I know." the doctor replied, his voice strained, he half turned his hand reaching out as if to hold the nearby Rose's. "She was everything to me, she still is."
Just then, the younger Doctor and Rose walked close by enough that she could here their conversation.
"You know Doctor; I absolutely love traveling with you. Wouldn't miss it for the world." the young blonde smiled up at him and kissed him on the cheek and in response the younger Doctor pulled her in for a tight hug and kissed her on the forehead."
"You know what Rose? I love traveling with you too. Makes it all worthwhile." he grinned down at her, "Thank you for saying yes."
"All you had to do was ask twice." she smiled happily. "Now let's get to work."
Martha looked over at the Doctor and unsurprised saw that there were tears in his eyes. She walked over to him and gave him a light hug. "Don't worry Doctor, you'll figure out some way to get her back. Brain like yours, nothing is impossible remember? It's all just a bit unlikely."
The Doctor nodded and cleared his throat. "Let's go back to the TARDIS shall we? It's almost six o'clock and we should have some dinner."
The two of them slowly made their way back to the villa, watching the dust cloud made by a cart far off ahead of them in the distance.
The Doctor left the TARDIS silently, Martha had gone to sleep and he was on a mission to find Rose. He knew that his previous self was tinkering away on the TARDIS, wasting away the moonlit hours until it became socially acceptable to be awake.
He strolled casually up to the villa, knowing that no one would question his presence there, he was an esteemed guest of the master of the house and therefore completely qualified to be wherever he pleased. Entering the guest wing, he walked on silent feet to Rose's room.
Standing at her door, he braced himself and knocked. He heard a slight shuffle as the Rose got out of the bed and ran to open the door.
A touch breathless, Rose asked, "Doctor? What are you doing here?"
"I just wanted to talk to you." he replied, "But if it's a bad time, forget about it."
Rose frowned a little, the Doctor looked even more haunted than usual. "Come in Doctor, we can talk. It's never a bad time, you should know that by now."
The Doctor smiled as though there was a joke she wasn't getting. "Sorry, I guess I kind of forgot that." He walked into her room and silenced her as she was about to begin speaking again. "Please Rose, let me say what I have to say." he took her hand and sat with her on the bed. "I just want you to know that traveling with you has been absolutely brilliant, you're the bright light to my darkness, you're the reason that I keep fighting for what's right. Without you, I'd be absolutely, terrifyingly lost. You're the best thing that's ever happened to me Rose Tyler, and I don't want you to forget it." He pulled her in and hugged her tightly.
"Thank you Doctor." she whispered, placing the ghost of a kiss on his cheek. "You have to know that you mean so much to me, and that I love all of this: the traveling the fighting. But you have to know, I'd love being with you, even if we were stuck on earth, or some other little planet. The traveling is just a bonus. It's being with you that makes it worthwhile."
The Doctor smiled and hugged Rose again. "Rose Tyler," he said standing, "You are absolutely brilliant, never let anyone tell you anything different."
He walked out of her room and practically skipped; whistling all of the way back to the TARDIS.
The Doctor hadn't slept at all and was therefore waiting for Rose as she got to the studio. The calm and good feeling from last night had vaporized in the wake of what he was planning to say, and he was anxious and fidgety, not sure about how he would be received.
"Rose!" he called as the girl walked closer. "I have something else I need to tell you, and it's important."
"Yes Doctor?" she replied, looking a bit worried. "You can tell me anything. Mutt and Jeff remember? Shiver and shake?"
The Doctor laughed and pulled her closer so that he could speak softly.
"Before you go in there, I have to say this. Rose Tyler, I love you. With all of my hearts I absolutely love you. Now, pay attention, because, I won't remember this after you come out of that studio. No matter how true it is, I will categorically deny it, but that's only because I'm a daft alien who needs to stop thinking that I know what's best for you, not because it isn't true. Now I need you to remember this, in case we ever get separated for whatever reason: I love you with both of my hearts and my soul, you are in every part of me, and I PROMISE that I will come and get you if we should be separated, even if it looks impossible I WILL find a way, no matter what problem or who I saddle you with. Remember Rose, I love you."
There were tears running down his cheeks as he looked at Rose's stunned face. Her eyes filled with tears as well, and she yanked him by the front of his toga and kissed him with all that she had within her, and for the first time, he willingly let down his guard and kissed her back. When they eased out of the kiss Rose smiled up at him, tears running freely. "I love you too Doctor, with all my heart, soul, and mind. You're everything to me, and I promise you, that if we ever get separated, I won't rest until I find a way back to you. It's you and me forever Doctor. I love you."
The Doctor grinned a little, "I love you So much more than you could ever imagine Rose, so much more. But don't forget, I won't remember this. Don't mention it, don't try to make me remember, just know that I love you, no matter what I say or do." He placed a final goodbye kiss on her lips and jogged away, leaving her standing there alone at the entrance to Ursus's studio. "I love you!" he called to her, turning back to look at her one last time.
"Love you too." She called back, collecting herself, and strode into Ursus's studio.
He turned to continue jogging and ran straight into the last person he wanted to see: himself.
"Why?" his younger self asked. "She shouldn't know, it's not SAFE."
"Stop thinking you know what's best," he snapped, "Remember, I've been there already, and you're so very wrong. Now you could save both of us some pain and suffering if you know certain things. You don't have to tell her you love her yet, I've made it so you have time, but at least now she knows for sure. But now listen to me. In time, you will go to Canary wharf, Torchwood is once again doing something incredibly stupid and you will help fix it. It will cost you, but what I can't tell you. Remember Doctor, you don't always know what's best, especially about how Rose feels."
"Could you possibly have been any vaguer on the details?" the younger Doctor asked him, a bit amused. "Well, I have to go, mystery to solve and all."
The older Doctor stood aside and said: "By all means," he bowed to his younger self, "solve away. Oh but by the way, you'll need these at canary wharf." He pulled a pair of 3D glasses from his pocket from a hidden pocket in his Toga, "Oh and this!" he muttered rummaging in the pocket, and eventually pulling out an old piece of paper with the sonic resonances to put lions, tigers, and bears [oh my] to sleep. "That bit of paper is for today… wait, no tomorrow. Well have a fantastic trip, and kiss her once for me."
The younger Doctor watched his older self walk off, and shook his head. "I must be mad, following my own instructions." He placed the things he had given himself into his pocket and walked off again. Time to solve this mystery.
The Older Doctor walked into his TARDIS and started punching in coordinates. Martha came wandering in and looked at the happy expression on the Doctor's face. "So, where're we going?"
"Cardiff." he replied with a grin, "Jack has this handy Rift manipulator that I want to try something with. I think I may know how to get Rose back."
And with that statement, the Doctor sent the TARDIS into the vortex, grinning madly the whole time, because he was keeping his promise, he was getting his Rose.