3rd in "Phoenix"
Author's Note: Sorry this took a while to get up. I've had a lot of work to do (plus, I thought that I had already finished it... guess not!). Enjoy!
Summary: It seems like the cruellest twist the Fates could ever have dreamed up. He pushed Rose away for two years because he was afraid of her aging. And now, when the Fates had given him the chance to grow old with Rose and to die with her... they had betrayed him. She was going to live on forever in this parallel universe.
The Fates and Their Irony
It's been almost three weeks since she left. They haven't heard from her at all. Jackie admitted that, the last time Rose did this, she disappeared for two years.
He's been given a room in the Tyler mansion. It's off to the far side of the house, near Rose's actually, but away from the activity of the rest of the house. A bit of privacy, Jackie had said. He wonders if they just think he wants to be alone. He also wonders if they don't want him around.
He thinks about that day on the beach a lot. He's analysed every word, every movement, every glance. He knows exactly what happened that day. And yet he has no idea what happened. Why did she run away from him?
She had embraced him on the beach, she had responded to his kisses, she had seemed so happy with what he said to her. When he told her of how human he is, how he'll live one life and one life only with her, she seemed... well, he didn't know what she seemed. Happy? Not exactly. Relieved? Maybe, but not in the way he might have hoped. Disappointed? Surely. She wants her Doctor.
He has a feeling that that has something to do with it. She wants the proper Doctor. She wants the one she loves, the one she had met and travelled with. She wants the one who left her.
He likes this room, he's decided. It's not too large as to make excessive bits necessary to decorate it but not so small that he can't spread out.
Pete's introduced him slightly to this world's torchwood. He's found himself a few tasks to do for them. And by few he means he's taken care of about one hundred mysteries for them and now has about twenty little things thrown around his room. He's been getting around to them as he feels interested.
He imagines that Rose is furious with the Doctor- the proper Doctor- for what he had done. He was too mostly... but not really. It's what he would have done, after all, if he had been the real Doctor. He would have left Rose to be safe and happy and with her family. He would have been a chicken and ran.
But that's not the point. The point is that the Doctor left Rose, he flat out abandoned her with him. With a clone of him. A human after image of the man she loves. He means nothing to her.
He plays for a few minutes with a small piece of alien metal. He's not sure what it is. Its origins are completely unknown to him. Its shape slightly warped and boxed shaped. He's beginning to suspect that it's merely scrap metal. Probably from a ship that got a little too close to some space junk. Not really cause for concern. Not much to do with it here.
He can't get that night out of his head. Remembering laying in bed, thinking about how awkward Rose had been with him. How she hadn't spoken with him since the TARDIS had disappeared from that beach. How he tried to speak to her in the car but she just stared blankly out the window. How she barely looked at him, except in curiosity.
As he thought of all of that, Jackie nearly banged his door down before storming into his room, half dressed and out of her mind. He read that scribbled notes quickly at first, desperate to know what Jackie's manic exclamations were all about. Then he read it slowly three more times.
She was gone. She just left him. Ran off because it was all too much for her. And she still hasn't come back. He wonders if she ever will.
He finally chooses a book from off the shelf and plops himself down on the bed. He's actually read through every one of them already. All fifty books up there. He could skim through this one in one minute flat again, if he wanted, but he's decided to take this one in, to read it slowly and enjoy every word, as the author had intended.
He senses someone there. Hears the floor creaking slightly and the door swinging half opened. Not Jackie, she just yells from the hallway if she needs him. Not Pete, he never comes up there. Certainly not little Toni, he's been forbidden from his room. That only leaves...
She's standing there. Just looking down at him.
He's got so many questions for her. Where has she been? Why did she leave? Why didn't she phone them? Did she find the answers she was looking for? What were the questions she was trying to answer? Why is she back? Why is she here?
He stops himself when she moves suddenly. She doesn't let him continue though because, as soon as she sits down next time him, she kisses him. It's like being back on the beach, being happy and excited about what is about to come. It's like they have always been doing this, like they've always been in love.
So why did she leave, he wants to know. What did he do so wrong on the beach to make her run? Why is she embracing him now? Where could she have possibly gone to that would change her mind so wildly about him? Make her realize that he's... What is he? He doesn't even know the answer to that question yet. He's nothing, really, a shadow of a great and powerful and dangerous and terrible man. Just a shadow of the greatest storm that ever raged. What could she ever want with that?
"I had to leave, I'm sorry."
"Why?" He's certainly not the real Doctor, not after hearing that weak, cracking voice that belongs to him. "What did I do wrong?"
"Oh god, no. No- Look at me." She holds his face between her hands and he sees something in her eyes that startles him. "It wasn't you. Ok? I ran away because... I have a lot issues. I'm different than you remember me, Doctor. I've changed and... I needed to sort through everything that's happening to me and how it's going to affect the rest of our life together."
He feels the strangest sensation of relief as she speaks. The dread that he had been at fault, the inadequacy he's been suffering through, dissipate with every word she used to reassure him. He hadn't scared her away. She hadn't hated him. She just admitted that she wants a future- wanted one before she ran- but...
"Why did you run then? Why couldn't... why couldn't you talk to me about it?"
Her eyes fall away from his, her chest fills with air, and he can see something shattering in her. Maybe the last of the courage she had collected over the past few days.
She stays that way for a few minutes- sitting on the edge of his bed, staring down at her hands, right thumb rubbing her left hand, shoulders slouched- and he wonders what she's thinking about. He wonders if he shouldn't have asked. Maybe she would have told him eventually, maybe she never would have. But now she looks exhausted and defeated and he wishes he could hold her and take away the question.
But he can't- he needs this answer just as much as, he suspects, she does.
When she finally reaches some conclusion to her thoughts, her entire body language changes- a new resolve straightens her posture and raises her chin, hardens her face and tightens her jaw and, when she looks at him, he sees it in her eyes. The storm of age and wisdom, the same storm he saw so many times in the mirror. The same storm that had once raged in his hearts.
"What happened, Rose?"
"When I looked into the Heart of the TARDIS... having all that Vortex energy in me... it did something, it changed me somehow. I don't fully understand it yet but... I'm different now. Sort of like you- I mean, still Human in some ways but something more. Something closer to a Time Lord- or Lady I suppose. I... Doctor, I can see timelines, I can sense changes in timelines and realities. I can feel the turn of the Earth, just like you showed me all those years ago. I can learn so fast-" It almost sounded like she laughed, but he couldn't be quite sure, "I'm really smart now."
"You were always really smart."
"Well now I'm super smart, I suppose."
She got quiet. He doesn't blame her. Even him, blabber mouth to the extreme now with both the Doctor's and Donna's tendencies in him, doesn't know what to say. He supposes he should ask how this happened; he supposes that they should talk about how she's been using this ability- if this is what allowed her to get to him. He supposes that there's a lot to talk about, but where to start, he doesn't know.
It's the first time that he's really looked at her since that night on the street- back when he was still the Doctor, well he's actually using the Doctor's memories, but he tries not to think about it like that. He's studying her appearance and her mannerisms and, for the first time, he sees that she really is a very different Rose. She's thinner and her face and body are constructed of harsh lines now. She's not that robust, curvatious young woman she once was. She's older, her face doesn't look it, but her eyes give her away. If he didn't know better, he would have said that nearly a hundred years had passed her by in this reality.
She's still in the same outfit too, the same pair of jeans and jacket that she came to the other reality in. He supposes she hasn't had the opportunity to change, but for some reason he knows that isn't true.
When she curls into him, he's surprised, but he tries to relax his body, tries to lie comfortably, tries to enjoy the feeling of her warm body against his, her head lying on his shoulder. It's not an unfamiliar position- they've done it plenty of times before. Back when he was the real Doctor. They held each other, laid with each other, held hands and hugged, but this is different. Somehow.
"Did mum tell you about the two years I was gone?"
"She mentioned it."
"I left because I was changing. Because I knew something was wrong, but I didn't know what and I didn't know how to fix it, not without you. So I ran, because I was scared and because I was trying to get away from everything. I did a lot while I was travelling... I was captured by some changelings. They... well they... I had a lot of time to think and I was very weak... It felt like the TARDIS was singing me to sleep inside my head and I just... I let that familiar voice soothe me. And suddenly the world just... changed. It made more sense and it was much more complicated and I just started learning all sorts of things so easily. I don't know... it was scary but it felt natural, somehow.
"It took me a long time to get used to myself, but, once I had, I came home and started working at Torchwood. While I was gone and in my first few months there, I got into some bad scrapes but... I healed quickly. Things didn't really damage my body like I knew they should have. I ran some tests..."
He worried for a moment that she might say that, whatever was happening to her, was too much for her human body. That it was going to die soon. That she didn't have a lot of time left. That she ran away to protect him from that pain but...
"I'm going to outlive you."
Apparently her body's changing as well.
"By how long?"
"I'm not sure but a while. My cells don't seem to be aging much at all. I might just outlive the actual Doctor." Then she shrugged. "I might even outlive Jack."
It seems like the cruellest twist the Fates could ever have dreamed up. He pushed Rose away for two years because he was afraid, he was afraid of her death, of her aging. He was afraid to have someone get so close to him only to die. And now, when the Fates had given him this chance, the chance to grow old with Rose and to die with her and not to fear the curse of longevity, they had betrayed him. They had made the perfect Rose for the real Doctor, not this measly clone, and she was never going to see him again. She was going to live on forever in this parallel universe, this universe that must feel wrong and strange to her new senses, this universe that housed only a few people who she cared about, all of whom would die off in a blink of her existence.
He didn't blame her in the slightest for running, but he certainly might blame himself for wanting her to stay so badly. She shouldn't have to watch him age and whither. She shouldn't have to stay here. He would rather that she didn't, now.
"When the walls between realities started to break down, I knew I needed to get to you- that you were the only person who could fix this. But I also knew that you were... that I needed to be with him because he could figure out and understand what I was going through. I..."
"You knew that you could finally be with him. I know."
"So you ran..."
"Because you would have been perfect had I still been Rose Tyler, human. But now I'm, well me and... It's just really hard to handle. Especially thinking that he sent me away, that he sent us away, without asking, without knowing any of the circumstances. I'm sorry, I was mad at him and mad at the situation and that made me mad at you and that wasn't fair. But I've thought a lot about it, about everything. This might not be the life I was hoping for, but it's the life I know I'm supposed to be leading... I saw kids in our future."
"You can actually make out the future? In concrete terms?"
"And... you saw kids?"
For a long time, he's speechless. It's so much to take in. This new Rose. His old Rose. How he fits into her life and how she'll fit into his. And kids, he certainly wasn't expecting any. Well... he hoped but that's not quite the same.
When he looks down at her, she seems suddenly so fragile. Like she's waiting for something- waiting for rejection or understanding or something. He doesn't think she even knows what she's waiting for. And he doesn't have a clue what to give her. Doesn't know what to say to make this situation seem easier or less bizarre. He doesn't know how to comfort her. So he says the only thing he can think of, "Did I even tell you my real name?"
When she shakes her head, as he knew she would because he certainly knows that he never told her that piece of information, he pulls in a deep breath. He's never told anyone this. He left this name behind, let this name burn in the fires of Gallifrey. But he thinks she deserves to hear it; he thinks she deserves to know everything there ever was to know about him. It's only fair, after all, she just told him her deepest secret, just shared with her the most terrifying memories she has to date.
As the near forgotten word tumbles from his lips, he knows this is right. He knows that he'll die one day and Rose will live on, but he also knows that every second, every memory and every laugh and every tear, with Rose Tyler will be worth it for both of them.
They lay there all night and well into the morning and he tells her everything he's always wanted to tell someone- not everyone, just the one person who will understand and listen. So he tells her about his childhood and his parents. He tells her about stealing the TARDIS and his granddaughter and the time war. He tells her everything.