Welcome to Julsted
Summary: Multi-chap post JE story. As if being ditched at Bad Wolf Bay wasn't bad enough... Rose, Jackie, and the Clone quickly discover that something is very very wrong in the idyllic seaside town of Julsted. Adventure, angst, and adorableness ensue. (Did I mention that it's set on Christmas Eve?)
Author's Note: I'm just going to go ahead and say that I'm absolutely terrified at the prospect of posting Doctor Who fanfiction. This is such a smart, thoughtful fandom, and I don't want to make an ass of myself. That being said...I can't seem to stop writing the stuff, so I might as well be posting it, right? Read if you dare, I guess. More to come. (Also, I know everyone and their mother writes post JE we're sad on the beach fics, but maybe someone's been looking for one like this?) Please tell me what you think, I can assure you I'm having a panic attack thinking about it. :)
That one awful moment, watching the old blue box fade out on the shoreline (with the familiar, yet unfamiliar hand in hers) was just one of a sequence of soul tearing moments, and Rose Tyler was older now, and she knew better, so it didn't quite hit her with the painful, gut-punching force of the last time. Not quite.
Somewhere along the way, on one unremarkable day that passed without her noticing, while losing time at her cluttered desk at Torchwood, or over a cup of tea with Jackie, she had realized what they mean when they say you can never go home. She built the dimension cannon because she had to, and she fought her way across universe after hollow universe because she needed him, and when she found him she held on with all of the strength of her singular golden being, because with a man like that what choice could you possibly have?
You just cherish the time you get, and you try not to be bitter, and you wait for the day when you're saying goodbye again. That's how he measures time—in goodbyes—and Rose Tyler was different, but she wasn't that different, and it didn't matter either way because hewas the same.
And now there was the problem of the new man beside her, wanting to anchor her. She realized with some discomfort that she desperately wanted to shove him, but she just looked instead, and memorized his kind, level gaze. There was nothing but love there, but it was all too much too fast, and the gentle understanding in his eyes just made it worse. He didn't seem at all surprised when she abrupty pulled her hand out of his and took an almost staggering step toward the square indentation in the sand where the TARDIS had been.
"I'll just call Pete, then," Jackie said loudly, desperate to diffuse the tension and startling them all in the process. "He'll be worried sick. Won't be long, just...checking in. And I'll get us a cab, yeah? We can be in Julsted in twenty minutes, hotel for the night, and home by...home by tomorrow evening. Doesn't that sound nice? Get out of this cold?"
Rose didn't answer, and Jackie sighed, putting the phone to her ear and cupping her hand to shield it from the wind. She carried on a muted conversation with Pete and kept one eye on Rose because they'd been here before, and Jackie had already watched her daughter pick up the pieces once, and carefully fit them back to together.
The Doctor watched Jackie remove herself to a comfortable distance and then turned back to Rose, close enough to touch, arms wrapped around herself in a familiar gesture, body slightly inclined toward the sand. Physically holding herself together.
"I feel like-" the words slipped out before he could stop himself, and when he didn't continue Rose turned, eyes bright, breathing quickly and quietly.
"What?" she said, sounding exasperated and unkind...that is to say, very much unlike herself.
"I feel like I've shown up at my own...funeral," he said, and crossed his arms across his chest defensively. He couldn't meet her eyes for long, and looked away over the ocean. She continued to stare, ignoring the feeling that something deep and essential was splintering inside her.
"Just like him?" he said, with a thin-lipped grimace. "Yeah."
Rose started to apologize, then didn't. Five minutes and they were already glaring at each other across the space between them. The silence stretched on long enough for her to note that the Doctor was shivering almost imperceptibly, and Rose felt herself softening towards him when Jackie bustled up, chattering good-naturedly and tucking her phone away in her back pocket.
"Strangest thing! Wonder what..." Jackie gestured vaguely with one hand and went on, "Pete's beside himself, by the way, Rose. And Tony. And he's thrilled that you've stayed, Doctor. We'll make up the guest room, of course, so-"
The Doctor shot a glance at Rose, whose expression was beyond interpretation, and quickly cut Jackie off, "What's strange?"
"Hm?" Jackie said.
"Strangest thing, you said," this from Rose, who was beginning to do a passable impression of normal.
"Oh, no one's answering in Julsted! And isn't that typical. Hard enough getting a cab in the middle of bloody London, so I don't know what I expected. Tried the inn as well, but no answer. Must be away from the desk. I guess we'll have to walk." Jackie pulled her coat tighter and looked up and away, toward the road. "No use staying here."
"No one's answering in town?" The Doctor said absently, sounding far away, like he was working through a dozen things in is head. Rose looked up sharply at his tone.
"Well, it's a small town, and it's not exactly tourist season, is it? They're probably just...ah..." Jackie didn't miss Rose and the Doctor's quick exchange of significant glances. "What? What? Oh, don't be paranoid, I'm sure there's a reasonable explanation! Honestly, you two, everything is not a big, cosmic emergency. There's no need to go charging off to-"
"I'll call Torchwood. See if there's been any unusual activity."
The Doctor caught himself halfway through rolling his eyes, but Rose was to busy scrolling through her phone to notice. He brought a hand up to scratch the back of his head. "Is that really necessary? Let's just-"
"This is Rose Tyler, could you connect me to—yes, really." Rose turned, phone in hand, and headed off toward the road. "Yeah, well, I didn't expect to be back either, did I? Look, I have a problem. I'm in Norway, and—yes, Norway, will you just listen?"
Rose let her long purposeful stride increase the distance between herself and the last shred of evidence that the Doctor, the proper Doctor, had ever been there. She gave a string of orders over the phone, easily slipping back into the life she'd always thought of as temporary, and she only started to look back once.
Jackie and a carbon copy of the man she'd grown to love and hate in equal measure over the years stood and watched as Rose stormed away, a whirlwind of purposefulness and avoidance. They saw the awkward stumble, the aborted half turn, and then she was on her way again, her voice carried away in the wind. The Doctor wilted, now Rose wasn't watching, and his casual, hands-in-pockets stance edged towards weary and defeated. Jackie reached out and gently touched his elbow. "She'll come around, love."
Jackie Tyler followed her daughter, and after a moment the Doctor did too, feeling uncomfortably like a stray dog, but what choice was there? That beautiful, maddening, brilliant woman...she was all he had.