Rose had enough of traveling for a good, long while, and Jackie and Pete were excited enough to have her in their dimension – which they hadn't expected – that they got her a flat where she could recuperate. With him.

His laugh was perfect, and his hair was perfect, and his eyes had all the dazzle of the starlit sky that she remembered. But his skin was warmer, and so were his words, his touches. He didn't need to hold back. He didn't have any cosmic responsibility. She could have the angel without the monsters.

Maybe after a few months, or a year or two, they'd explain the situation to Torchwood and go right back to defending the Earth, but right now they did domestic things the Doctor had always shied away from. Watching the telly. Shopping – there was enough of Donna in him to make him sympathetic to shoe dilemmas. Crossword puzzles. Walks in the park. Dinner with Jackie, Pete, and little Tony.

Oh, and the snogging, which led to the inevitable shagging, sometimes mad with long-held hunger but just as many times quiet and thoughtful. In the best moments he would whisper how many memories he had of wanting this.

In the worst moments, she would mumble into his springy, scented hair that would never regenerate and shift into another stranger, "But what about him?"

He didn't need to ask who she was referring to. "He'll find someone else, Rose. Don't worry. He wants us to be happy."

The first time he said this, she asked, "Isn't he going to travel with Donna from now on?"

That was when he explained to her about Donna's incoming breakdown, and how wiping her memory would be the only thing that could save her life. He would be fine, though, because instead of Time Lord consciousness grafted onto a human mind, he was a Time Lord mind poured into a human mold (mostly). She wept for the brave and brilliant Donna Noble she had known, but he coaxed her into life without further regret for what was lost.

Rose called him Doctor, but eventually they realized to function in society as a human being he needed a name. She suggested John Smith, of course, but he told her a story of a complete (if brief) human named John Smith in 1910, and his sacrifice which he didn't want to tarnish. Also, John Smith seemed a bit unbelievable to people.

He wanted his last name to be Noble. He owed his co-creator that.

One day, as Rose was brushing her hair, he leapt to her with his trademark daft grin. "I've got it! Manuel!"

"Sounds a bit Spanish," she commented. "Because the nickname can be 'Mannie'?"

"I hadn't even thought of that. From Latin 'manos'." She stared at him, and he waggled the appendage that always seemed a little cooler than the rest of his body, where he sometimes got phantom pains. "It means 'the hand'."

She took the hand in both of hers and kissed it. "Guess it's time to ask Torchwood to get you a birth certificate, Manuel Nobel."

"You can still call me Doctor in private."


It was a beautiful morning.