Norway is bloody freezing this time of year.
As the three of them head towards civilization, the Doctor notes that he's no longer impervious to the cold. The wind whips right through his suit and makes him shiver. Rose and Jackie, he notes, are no better off. He's like to take off his jacket and offer it to Rose, but then he'd probably catch pneumonia or pleurisy or some other human disease and be on his deathbed by morning.
Rose folds her arms across her chest and keeps walking, one foot after the other, following the path to the nearest village. She looks a bit shellshocked. He suspects he looks much the same.
Jackie has finally gotten through to Pete on her mobile, and is wasting no time on how she feels.
"He just left us, here on the beach! Darlig ulv Stranden, just like before! You'd think we could have landed closer to home. Can you send a car or a zeppelin? I don't care which, whatever is faster. It's bloody cold and we're not dressed for the weather."
Jackie hangs up and sighs. "Your dad is sending a zeppelin, but they can't be here until morning. The fog's too bad in London for anything to take off."
"What do we do, then?" the Doctor asks. Not only is he new to being human, he's new to being a permanent part of this universe. All the rules have changed, and at the moment he's not the one with all the answers.
"Well, there's a village about a kilometer that way." Rose points to the east.
"How do you know that?" he asks, impressed. "There aren't any signs."
The Tyler women look at him with expressionless faces.
"We've been here before," Rose says tonelessly, and it's only the first of many times in this world that he will make an idiot of himself.
The walk is brutal. No one passes by, and as the afternoon quickly descends into evening the weather gets colder. There is no snow falling, but between icy rain and a strong wind, they're all in rough shape. Jackie hails the sight of the village in relief.
"Finally! Come on. There's a small hotel in the village. Shouldn't be too crowded this time of year."
"Could do with some tea," Rose manages from between chattering teeth. She glances at the Doctor, who has not said much on the walk. He's not looking too well.
"You okay?" she asks him. When he doesn't respond she speaks again. "Doctor?"
He looks at her in surprise. It's the first time she's called him Doctor out loud.
"Yeah," he says. "I'm fine." He ruins this image of self-reliance by coughing.
"Hurry up," Jackie urges. "Your dad's already called ahead. We'll have rooms waiting."
That is enough to make Rose and the Doctor quicken their steps.
The hotel is small but charming, decorated in muted blues and greens and reds that were much brighter at one time. There is a fire burning in a corner fireplace, and Rose and the Doctor head straight for it. They stand there warming their hands, not speaking. Rose steals a few glances at him as he stares at the flames. The fifth time she does this, he turns his head to look at her. She smiles nervously and looks away.
Jackie signs them in, hands out keys, and disappears. "I'm taking a long hot bath and ordering room service," she tells Rose. "See you in the morning." She's gone before Rose and the Doctor can answer.
Jackie's room is on the third floor. Rose and the Doctor have been put on the fifth in adjoining rooms. Rose doesn't know if this is coincidence or her mum at work. Certainly Pete would not be too eager to have her share a room with any male, Doctor or not.
"You ready?" she asks, feigning a calmness she doesn't really feel.
The Doctor nods. "Yeah. Ready."
Rose is in room 221. She opens her door, pauses and looks at him.
"I'm gonna try and get warm, okay?"
"Of course. Me, too."
"See you in a bit, then?"
"Ah, yes. Absolutely." He's not entirely sure why this should make him feel nervous, but he nods bravely and watches her disappear into her room.
He opens the door to 223, locks it behind him and notices the adjoining door. It's locked on Rose's side, but no sooner does he realize that than Rose is unlocking it from her side. She opens the door wide.
"Yup. Adjoining rooms."
He stares at her for a second. "I'm just gonna take a shower," he says.
"Yeah. Me, too. See you later." Rose closes the door but leaves it unlocked.
The Doctor takes a hot shower that lasts approximately 9 minutes, thirty-seven seconds. He may have one heart, but his sense of time seems to be unimpaired. All the better to keep track of how long he has left to live.
As he towels himself dry in the small bathroom he tries to figure out what he's feeling. His emotions are all over the place, and he can't get a grasp on them. Maybe that comes from being part Donna. He's relieved that Rose chose him. Beyond relieved, actually. Elated and triumphant and smug. She chose him.
She chose him because he told her he loved her. He does love her. The same impulse that allowed him to destroy the Daleks also lets him say what he wants to say. There's no filter in his mind, making sure he keeps himself sufficiently aloof from his companions.
He loves Rose.
So why isn't he completely happy? He's got Rose, but he hadn't counted on keeping her. In his mind he'd accepted that she would remain behind on the TARDIS, and he'd started looking forward to traveling around with Donna. They were going to make the best of things. Instead, he's here in a small hotel in Norway, about to embark on an existence he knows nothing about.
The thought comes suddenly, and it makes him stand perfectly still. Rose might not be enough to make that all right.
Rose sits on the closed toilet seat in her bathroom, wrapped up in an enormous towel. Her hair, still wet from her shower, drips onto her shoulders. She's staring at her reflection in the mirror.
For six years she fought to reach the Doctor. She forced herself to go back to school and complete classes that were impossibly hard to understand. It was only with the help of her coworkers at Torchwood that she managed it. She helped design the very device that would propel her across dimensions and save all the known universes. She found the Doctor and was never, ever going to leave him again.
She hadn't counted on a second Doctor. One who was human. She hadn't counted on a Doctor who could tell her he loved her. Between the realization that she couldn't, just couldn't, leave her family forever, and the fact that the Doctor in brown couldn't, just couldn't, tell her that he loved her back, her choice had been made.
She hadn't even gotten to say goodbye.
Her hair is dry and she's almost dressed when there's a knock on the door that adjoins her room with the Doctor's.
"One second!" she calls, and pulls on the black trousers and purple top that she's been wearing for far too long now.
Rose clears her throat and opens it. He's standing on the other side, wearing his blue trousers and dark red t-shirt. His hair has dried and it's shiny and clean. With no crazy alien hair product in it, it falls smooth across his forehead.
"You busy?" he asks, and Rose shakes her head.
"Wanna come in?"
"Yeah." He walks in and sits on the edge of her bed.
"You okay?" Rose asks. "I guess you feel the cold differently now."
"I'm as human as the next guy," he says, a sad attempt at a joke. "I'll be okay."
"Mum just called me," Rose says. "She says room service is very good. Are you hungry?"
He shakes his head. "Not really. We could order something, though, if you want." His voice rises slightly at the end, uncertain.
"I'm not hungry either." Rose sits down on the other side of the bed.
The Doctor stares at his hands. "I turned the television on while I was getting dressed."
"Anything good?" she asks politely.
"Didn't understand any of it." The Doctor smiles, but there's no humor in it. "Norwegian."
Rose nods jerkily. She can't stop pleating the hem of her shirt. "The first time I heard French in this world I was really surprised. I was used to the translation circuit in the TARDIS."
"Yeah," he says softly, a world of pain and loss in his voice. "That's gone now, isn't it?"
"Of course, French wasn't anything like the first time I had to communicate with an alien race." Rose tries to lighten the mood. "That was a good deal harder."
"Why did you do it?" he asks abruptly. "Did you mean it?"
She doesn't bother to pretend. "You told me what he couldn't. Did you mean it?"
In response he takes her hand and tugs her over to him. Rose braces herself, but all he does is press her palm against his chest.
"One heart, one life," he says quietly. "Both yours."
They have sex for the first time in a hotel in Norway. You can't call it making love. It's a tangle of want and need and desire and anger. In the end Rose doesn't know if it's better now or worse. He doesn't know whether he's angrier at being human than before.
If there are no more declarations of love and promises of forever, at least there is no shouting or tears. They fall asleep as they are, exhausted beneath the thin blanket. They wake during the night, separately and at different times. Quick snatches of alertness in the darkness. In sleep they move towards each other, her hair tangling and brushing his shoulder. His hand lies across her rib cage.
Jackie wakes them that morning with a knock on the door.
"Rose! The pilot just called. Our flight will be here soon! Hurry up!"
They're both jolted out of sleep. They hear Jackie knocking on the door of the Doctor's room. Quickly, without speaking or looking at each other, they get dressed. Rose pulls on her leather jacket with a sigh, thinking she will never wear it again. It smells of smoke and fear, long travel across the universes.
He finds his trousers and shirt and walks back across to his room for his shoes. He is slow to pull on his jacket. He feels ridiculous without a proper shirt and tie, without some kind of armor to help him now. He's opened himself up to something foreign, and he has no idea what is supposed to happen next.
They ride down in the lift together, not speaking or touching. It's not an awkward silence, at least not to Rose, but neither one seems to be able to think of something to say.
They meet Jackie in the lobby. She looks well-rested and happy, even without fresh makeup or new clothes. She leads the way to the roof, where a small zeppelin is hovering.
The Doctor steps back in surprise. "This is our ride home?"
"No planes in this universe," Rose reminds him, and he climbs up the short walkway with some misgivings.
The zeppelin belongs to Vitex. It's small but well-upholstered, and there is a pilot and one attendant on board. Both seem to know Jackie and Rose quite well, and the attendant fusses around Jackie, insisting she sit down and eat something.
"Miss Tyler?" she hazards. "Can I get you anything? Or your friend?"
Rose shakes her head. "I'm fine for now. This is the Doctor."
Something moves in the attendant's eyes. She's heard of him. "Nice to meet you," she says with great respect in her voice. "May I get you something?"
He shakes his head. "No, thanks."
The attendant disappears into a forward area, leaving them alone.
Jackie introduces him to the wonders of cherry-lite and apple-pear flavors and he obligingly sips some of each.
It's a wintry morning but the sun is shining, and Rose spends most of the flight looking out the window at the clouds. He spends it wondering how he's going to be able to stand living in a place where zeppelins are the fastest means of transport. How will he be able to live in one place, with time running only in a straight line and not looping back in on itself?
For the first time, he regrets telling Rose that he loves her. Not because he doesn't love her. He does. Without that link, it would be easier to run when they reach London. Run and keep running, and never stop until he outruns the specter of death that is now hanging over him.
"Home!" Jackie says suddenly. "I never thought I'd see it again."
The Doctor glances out the window. Big Ben can be seen in the sunlight. The visibility is so good that he is able to pick out Canary Wharf, and the Torchwood Tower.
"This is home," Rose says quietly. "London."
He nods, still focused on Torchwood. "I remember."
"Yeah, but the last time you were in a zeppelin we had others things to think about," she points out. "Plus it was dark."
That last time he'd been thinking about all the senseless deaths that had taken place, but mostly he'd been trying not to think about how Rose looked in her short black dress.
He shakes his head. "That we did." He looks down at the traffic, at the tiny shapes of people living their lives all over London. This place is now his home. He could have been working on growing a TARDIS of his own, right now, and instead he's chosen this universe.
"All these people, going about their business, not even knowing they live in a different universe."
"Well, I think they suspect something these days," Rose says humorously. "What with the Cybermen and then the darkness coming through."
"They're still humans though, aren't they? Defending their home from aliens when they need to, living their lives when they don't."
"They're strong and brave," Rose agrees.
"O brave new world, that has such people in't!" he murmurs.
"I've heard that before."
"It's Shakespeare. From The Tempest."
They don't speak any more until they touch down on the landing pad at Vitex's corporate building. It's on the roof, and Jackie exits first, waving away the pilot's assistance. She runs towards a man in a dark suit standing with a small boy.
"I'm home!" she cries, arms outstretched. The boy and the man - it's Pete Tyler, of course, and his son - rush to meet her.
The Doctor exits the zeppelin next. He hits the ground with a sigh of relief, glad to note that London is considerably warmer than Norway, even up on the roof. Turning around he holds his hand out to Rose, but while he was looking around she climbed down by herself.
They stand there, watching Jackie's happy reunion. He doesn't know what to say. She doesn't either, and they end up staring furtively at one another, much like they had done on the beach. So much has passed between them already, and so much still needs to be spoken out loud.
Rose doesn't know what will happen, doesn't know what will be said.
She holds her hand out to him anyway, surprised and pleased to find that he was holding his out to hers at the same time. She curls her fingers into his hand, feeling the strength of it, the warmth of his skin. The steady single beat of his heart through the veins in his wrist. She moves to stand close beside him, their hands entwined and their bodies touching as they face the unknown together.
He strokes her fingers with his thumb.
"So," he says softly. "This is Pete's world."
Some things are unknown. That's okay. No," Rose says. "It's ours."