A/N This is my first foray into writing. I'm addicted to all things Ten/Rose, and I've always wished someone would do a story somewhere along these lines. Since I haven't been able to find one, I decided to have a go at writing it myself.
This story begins after towing the Earth home in Journey's End, but rather than Donna having been shut in the TARDIS, this takes the what-if approach of her having exited onto the crucible with the others. The Doctor might have then managed to defeat the Daleks much the way Donna did. His spare hand would still be buzzing with regeneration energy…and potential. That alteration in detail, quite obviously, would have changed a few things. ;)
Disclaimer: I do not own Doctor Who. All rights belong to the BBC.
The Doctor stood in the TARDIS console room surrounded by his beloved friends, a feeling of joy and relief still surging through him post-victory. They had done it. They had won. He and his magnificent Children of Time had managed the impossible. He always did like impossible. The crisis was now over, and all of reality was safe.
He had also destroyed the Daleks in the process of stopping them. Should he feel guilty? No. Did that prevent him from having that familiar wresting match with the emotion? No. It was nothing he couldn't live with, however. He was well acquainted with doing so. But this was not the time to dwell on the fact that sometimes his life meant making choices that no one else would or could. This was a time to celebrate beginnings – not dwell on endings.
He gazed around him with pride and affection. Donna was now flirting shamelessly with Captain Jack. This role-reversal was not without an element of wry amusement. The typically-amorous ex-Time Agent just might have met his match, the Doctor thought to himself.
Speaking of flirting, Mickey and Martha were off to the side, chatting privately. He might not have been an authority on such things, but there seemed to be enough of a noticeable connection between the two former companions of his that made the Doctor pause in consideration. There was certainly potential. It just might be something that could work. It might even be brilliant.
Meanwhile Jackie and Sarah Jane were proudly exchanging stories about their sons. Rose now had a little brother. Tony, he overheard Jackie say. He wondered if the little boy looked like Rose. He couldn't help but smile at the thought. But the smile quickly faded and turned to a feeling of guilt when he thought of all that Rose had been willing to sacrifice for him. Some things never changed.
Rose. The woman who crossed dimensions, striving parallel to parallel to find him again. His hearts felt as if they might burst with pride at what she had managed to do, and all for him. The Valliant Child, now no longer a child, but very much a woman in her own right.
This woman at the center of his focus looked up from across the console and met his gaze. His breath caught in his throat. Rassilon, had she always been this gorgeous?
For two years he had struggled to move on and accept the fact that he would never see her again. Now here she was, right in front of him and more beautiful than ever and… Hold on, why was he still just standing there at a distance?
He moved aside from the console and strode up to her, never breaking eye contact. She smiled up at him, that glorious smile that could out-shine any sun. Blimey, had he always been this much of a sap? Only when it came to Rose Tyler, he thought in welcome defeat. His smile matched her own as he stopped in front of her and reached out to take her hand in his.
"Hello," he said, his smile growing wider by the second.
"Hello," she replied back, then laughed and threw her arms around his neck and hugged him tight.
Oh, how he'd missed this. He had longed for the feeling of her in his arms, her soft, golden hair caressing the side of his face, her scent that was sweet and tantalizing and something fundamental that was simply and purely Rose. He didn't know how he had survived without her. He didn't think he could do it again. She was life and vibrancy. He needed her like he needed the air to breathe.
Slowly, they loosened their grip on each other and pulled back slightly, each gazing into the other's eyes. The Doctor ran his hands across her back to her shoulders and down to her hands, where he twined their fingers together once more. A perfect fit. Always.
He released one hand and tugged gently on the other as he indicated down the corridor with a tilt of his head. Rose nodded silently and willingly. She followed behind him out of the console room.
No one seemed to notice them slipping away; or if they did, nothing was said. Certainly no questions needed to be asked. This was the Doctor and Rose finally reunited, and everyone knew they had a lot of catching up to do. There hadn't exactly been time for that earlier, and the two of them were definitely overdue for some alone time.
They walked down the corridor hand-in-hand until they reached a familiar looking door. The Doctor opened it and they stepped inside.
The library. This had always been a special room to them when they were traveling together. They would come here to relax after a particularly exhausting adventure — which was basically each and every one. They'd curl up on the couch in front of the fire and share tea, just content to be in each other's company. It became a routine they both cherished. Sometimes he would even read to her. Rose remembered Harry Potter Book Seven in particular. The Doctor actually cried.
Upon entering the room, the Doctor found his thoughts drawn back to those times as well. He remembered the feeling of utter contentment as Rose sat snuggled beside him. Sometimes she would doze off and he would just watch her as she slept, completely overcome with the feelings he had for this amazing human girl. Feelings that if not kept in check, could become dangerous. So he would try to tell himself that they were just friends. The best of friends. And Time Lords did not fall in love with humans. That was a rule he staunchly adhered to. They would hold hands and share hugs, but never crossed those boundaries he set for himself.
And it had never been a problem before — those intrinsic rules for a Time Lord and his companions — until he met Rose, and suddenly he had to fight with all his strength to keep from crossing that line.
And he had succeeded.
And he had been an idiot.
That was not a mistake he was going to make a second time.
The Doctor and Rose now sat down together in their familiar positions on the couch, still gripping each other's hand like a lifeline, almost afraid that one might suddenly disappear if they let go.
"So…," the Doctor began.
"So," Rose echoed.
They both chuckled. Just being together again was surreal. Rose looked down at their still-joined hands and then back up to meet his gaze.
"Two years later with so much I want to tell you, and I still can't think of what to say." She let out a watery laugh and felt tears beginning to form in her eyes.
"Well, at least this time we've got more than two minutes," he said, and smiled gently while reaching out to tuck a lock of hair behind her ear.
"Oh, yes. There's so much I want — need to say to you, Rose. And I'm having a hard time even finding words because all I can think about right now is that you're actually here — right here with me."
She squeezed his hand. "I know. I can hardly believe it either. It almost doesn't seem real after all that time I spent trying to find you…to get back to you. And there were so many times I came close to giving up. But then I remembered something you said to me."
"What was that?" he asked gently.
"That travel between parallel worlds was impossible."
The Doctor drew his eyebrows together in confusion. "And that was encouraging?"
Rose laughed softly. "It was when I considered that we had done just that — twice. If it really was impossible, I never could have ended up in that bloody universe to begin with," she told him pointedly.
"Fair point," he conceded. His eyes became intense, pained. "Rose, I tried. You have to know that. For so long I tried to find a way to get to you, but I couldn't do it without causing two universes to collapse. I…"
"Shhh." She silenced him and squeezed his hand again reassuringly. "It's okay, Doctor. I know. And I'm here now, yeah? And we're gonna be okay this time."
A slow smile spread across his face. A smile that made her heart flutter. "Oh, I think we're going to be more than just okay, Rose Tyler," he promised huskily.
It was hard for Rose to focus when he was looking at her in such a way. She cleared her throat and managed to ask her next question with a steady voice, despite the fact that her heart felt like it was now beating out of her chest. "So, what happens now?"
He blew out a long breath and ran his free hand through his hair. "Rose, I want to be able to say we can go right back to the way things used to be for you and me." He noticed her expression turn to one of slight worry and amended. "Well, not exactly the same as way things used to be," he said, as he gave her a smoldering look. She swallowed heavily and couldn't help but blush. He smiled devilishly at the effect he was clearly having, then continued. "What I mean is…I want to have you with me again." He paused and looked down, then continued quietly. "But that's selfish of me, isn't it?"
"Doctor, how can that be selfish?" Rose interjected. "You know that's what I want, too. I didn't spend all that time trying to get back to you only to choose not stay now that I'm here." She was starting to feel confused, and just a little hurt.
"But Rose," he sighed, "I can't just take you away from your family, your whole life. You…"
"That's my decision, Doctor." Rose interrupted. "I told you once that I made my choice and I was never gonna leave you. That hasn't changed. I promised you forever, and I intend to keep that promise. You have to trust me to make my own decisions and not keep trying to make them for me," she told him firmly. "I love my family and I'll miss them, but I am not leaving you, Doctor. Not now, not ever. When I was away from you, I tried to get on with my life, I really did. You told me once that if I wanted to do one thing for you then I would have a fantastic life. And so I tried, for you. But it wasn't fantastic," she added sadly. "It wasn't even a life. It was just…existing." Tears were beginning to form in her eyes.
"Oh, Rose," he whispered as he drew her into an embrace. The Doctor never ceased to be awed by her devotion to him, and he couldn't help but feel that he didn't deserve it. "So many people have made sacrifices for me, and I was reminded again today of just how many. I will not let your life be another sacrifice for my sake," he said resolutely.
Rose pulled back and intended to protest, but he silenced her by placing a finger across her mouth.
"Fingers on lips," he told her softly, and she smiled slightly beneath his finger at the reference. He removed his finger and cupped the side of her face, gently stroking her cheek with his thumb. She briefly closed her eyes and nuzzled into his palm, craving the touch she had been without for so long.
"Rose," he continued, "you shouldn't have to choose between me and your family. No one should ever have to make a choice like that." He closed his eyes and took a steadying breath, then looked into her eyes with a penetrating gaze as he continued, almost in a whisper. "What if you didn't have to choose? What if you could have it all, like you deserve, and didn't have to make a sacrifice?"
Rose searched his face for a moment, and then suddenly snorted in laughter as she realized what she thought he was saying. "Doctor, you seriously think my mum would just pack up Tony and Pete and come live here with us on the TARDIS?"
"What? NO! No, no, no, that's not what I mean. Blimey, Rose, are you trying to give me a hearts attack? Sharing the TARDIS with Jackie Tyler is not what I had in mind. I'd rather be forced to…eat pears! And that's saying something. Honestly, can you imagine the danger I'd be in on a daily basis? And I'm not just talking about being slapped. All it would take would be one accidental landing on Mars, and that would be it. All over. Kaput. She'd kill me dead…she said so!" He shuddered at the very thought. "Why are you still laughing, Rose? That is not a matter of humor!"
She couldn't help but laugh in spite of his protests, but then turned serious again. "Then what do you mean, Doctor? I don't understand."
She had never seen such a solemn expression come over his face as he took a long pause, and then spoke. "Rose, what if I went back with you?"
"What?" she whispered, her eyes going wide in shock. "Doctor, are you serious?"