Disclaimer: Doctor Who and its accoutrements are the property of the BBC and copyright of Russel T. Davies and Steven Moffat. This is a work of fanfiction. No copyright infringement is intended.
Author's Notes: I've wanted to do an Eleven/Rose fic since S5 aired. As always, this whole fic came about because of one little idea. This time, it was the Doctor being on the receiving end of a certain look that he gives others. Major thanks to Bratflorida for beta reading this for me. Oh, and major brownie points for those of you who get the Buffy the Vampire Slayer reference. Also, the story title is from the Smith's song "There is a Light That Never Goes Out."
There is a Light and it Never Goes Out
He's alone for the time being, having just left Amy and Rory on a vacation planet as an anniversary gift. Apparently running for their lives after he'd accidentally insulted the matriarch of the Slingaw Clan on Basdar wasn't considered a gift, more of an annoyance, albeit an exhilarating one.
So he's just roaming around a bit, him and the old girl – his ship. It's lonely, a bit, but he's better with being lonely than his last two selves had been.
Right now he's in London, in 2008, and he vaguely thinks that he shouldn't be here, considering. But he knows where to avoid, so it shouldn't be that much of a problem at all.
He's mellowed, you understand.
He strolls along after locking the TARDIS up, watching as the scenery as it moves from early evening into dusk. The pigeons have settled in and the streets are starting to move with the hustle and bustle of the night. A red double-deck bus drives past and he remembers the feeling of a hand fitting perfectly with his as they race towards the London Eye. He thinks again of holding a hand perfectly fitting his new hand as they stumble through town, laughing happily.
He should stop it and leave. He doesn't think about Rose. Not anymore. He's moved on, really. Rose is safe and happy with the half-human version of him. There's not a need to dwell on Rose any longer. There isn't.
He sighs and walks around more, taking in the sights, ignoring the looks strangers throw at his attire. They're envious; bow ties are cool, after all. Maybe he could do some late-night shopping and buy a fez.
Then he feels it – a charge in the air.
His skin tingles and the hair at the nape of his neck stands up. The time lines ripple and he carefully moves his hand to reach inside his jacket and get his sonic screwdriver ready.
He feels the walls of reality crackle and pop and to his left, he sees a flash of blue lightening, followed by the arrival of a human woman. She has blond hair, wears a blue leather jacket, and carries a large gun.
His hearts nearly stop. It's her. It's really her.
She spies him and gives him a long look, before realization creeps into her face. She smiles sadly. "Doctor!" she exclaims, looking him over. She reaches out and lightly touches his bow tie. "You've changed," her voice is sad, tinged with the smallest hint of frustration. "What happened to you?"
"It's a long story." He smiles regretfully. She still recognizes him. He figures she always will. He doesn't mind; he likes it a lot, in fact. A constant in a universe full of change. "Hello Rose Tyler. Come to save the world?"
Gathering her bearings and remembering her situation, she nods down at the gun she carries. "Yeah. Pretty much had to. The stars are going out, Doctor. The darkness is coming."
He nods. "I remember."
Understanding dawns upon her, and a spark of hope lights up her face. "You're not the one I'm looking for, then. Still the old you?"
He laughs inside - he used to be so pretty. "Yeah, that me. I'm going to need you, Rose. I'm going to need you so badly." He pauses. "I always need you so badly."
"But we make it though, right?" She looks guilty for asking about the future.
"It's alright, Rose," he says. "You understand the rules more than most. And given what you're about to go through, yeah, we make it through."
"As if I'd let anything else happen," Rose grins.
"You won't," he agrees. "You're going to be amazing."
She gives him a small smile. "How have you been?" she asks. "Who's with you now? Where's future me?"
"I've been fine," he answers, neglecting to mention his darker periods as his immediate past self. "I'm traveling with a couple, Amy and Rory. They're married; I dropped them off on an anniversary vacation. I'm afraid I've grown rather domestic in my old age," he jokes.
Rose snorts. "You've always been domestic, Doctor, ever since I met you. Don't even try to deny it, because you were. For all you grumbled about it, you still were."
She's right, of course. Rose usually is.
"Anyways, you never answered. Where's future me?"
He studies her in a way he hadn't had time to do as his last self. She's changed. She's older, tougher, and more self-confidant. Obviously she's thrived at Torchwood in Pete's World – not that he'd expected anything less. All in all, she's fared better than he ever did. She's always been fantastic, but this Rose... he realizes that Rose has become, well, very much like him in her own right. She's still beautiful, with that smile that can light up a room. She hasn't lost her sense of adventure and she's still trying to save the universe.
"You're happy," he says, hoping that somewhere in Pete's World's future, it's the truth. "You're so very happy, Rose."
"That's all I'm getting out of you, then?" Rose asks with a soft laugh.
He merely smiles enigmatically before dropping his gaze to the rather large gun that she's carrying.
"Dimension cannon," she says, noticing his gaze. "Me and Jake and Mickey built it with Torchwood's help, just in case there was ever something like this that popped up. Otherwise it's useless."
"And how does it work, exactly?" he asks, determined to keep from running his hands over it, aversion to guns and weapons notwithstanding.
"It locks on to a biological signature and then by reversing the polarity of the temporal inter-spatial vortex flow, it sort of splits the void in half and creates an opening. The opening is enough for one person to fit through," she grins. "At least, that's how it was supposed to work, in theory. It's more like an inter-dimensional teleport. I've been everywhere, looking for you. Even landed in a dimension that had no shrimp whatsoever."
He looks at her in amazement. "A dimension with no shrimp? Really? You're serious?"
"Completely," Rose says with a smile.
He can't stop himself from scanning the cannon with his sonic screwdriver. The readings are off the chart. She really has been everywhere. "This is just outstanding, Rose! A dimension cannon! This is very much more sophisticated than the last teleports your Torchwood had." He goes on and on about how impressed his is, how much he admires the ingenuity that went into the making of the device. Then he straightens up and faces the reality of the matter. "Rose, you do realize that dimension hopping is very bad, don't you?"
Rose gives him a look as if he's just dribbled down the front of his shirt. He's familiar with that look; he uses it on others quite frequently. He's just never been on the receiving end of that look, however, and he doesn't like it one bit.
"'Course I know that!" Rose says indignantly. "But this thing wouldn't have worked unless the walls between realities weren't already broken. It's not like I'm doing this for laughs. What's going on is so much more than dimension hopping. Do you really think I'd be doing this, endangering the universe, if all of reality weren't at stake?"
She has a point. He isn't surprised. Rose usually does, because she is really that good. "Of course not, Rose," he says. "You're better than that."
Rose beams at him. "You taught me to be, you know. You taught me to be better. That's what you do, Doctor."
He smiles back sadly. But in that moment, it's just like it always was – the Doctor and Rose, together, in perfect understanding – the way it's supposed to be.
His life is full of stories and adventures and he's cherished them all, even when they've left him broken and alone. But the stories of the Doctor and Rose, they hold a special place in his hearts. He remembers that night when he told her to run, that day on the game station when she became a goddess to save him. He remembers those days on Bad Wolf Bay, that last time he saw her in that alley – his last gift to that self. He remembers those days and the days in between and now they don't hurt as much anymore. Where they had once left him saddened, now he looks back and is grateful for those wonderful times.
"Are you alright, Doctor?" Rose asks, looking at him with concern. He's missed that look, silly as it sounds.
"I'm fine, Rose, just reminiscing about old times. About great times. They were, you know. They were great times. Fantastic times," he says, enjoying the smile that lights up her face at the word he'd once used so often.
"But it's time for me to go isn't it?" she asks, taking a hold of his hand, lacing her fingers through his. Their hands fit together perfectly – as they always have.
"You've got all of reality to save," he says. "It would be bad if you didn't."
"How bad is bad?"
"Extremely very not good."
"Bad then," Rose says, teasingly.
"A bit, yeah."
Rose shifts the gun around and she hugs him. As he hugs her back tightly, she buries her face into his chest and it brings back feelings long suppressed but never forgotten. This, he thinks, is perfect. She stands on her tip-toes and barely touches her lips to his, yet it burns like a brand, one he hadn't realized how much he wanted.
She steps back and her eyes are a bit glassy. He doesn't blame her; his are too. He touches his hand to the gun and then points his screwdriver at the hand-print. "There," he says. "That should make it a bit easier for you."
Smiling, Rose shifts the gun back around. "Doctor, I-" she stops.
She shakes her head a bit, still smiling. "Nah. You know."
Yes, he does. "Goodbye, Rose Tyler." It's a relief, a sad yet great relief, to finally be able to say it. He never did have any closure, even with his last glimpse of her in his old body. And now, too long too late, he does.
"Goodbye, Doctor," Rose says. "By the way," her hands press several buttons in a complicated pattern and she looks at him with one last smile. "Love the bow tie." There's a flash of lightning and the crackle and pop of reality. Then she's gone.
He smiles sadly, and pulls out a handkerchief embroidered with bananas in the corners. Dabbing at his eyes, he briefly scolds the pollen in the air. He checks his watch and walks slowly away, not caring where he goes. Somewhere Rose is helping to save all of reality.
"I'd better do the same," he says aloud, to no one in particular. A sudden flash of fire in the sky catches his eye. "That's not supposed to happen," he says aloud again, smiling widely. "That's not from that me! Oh! This is new!" He gives a manic laugh as he runs to follow the flash. "GERONIMO!"
I hope you enjoy! Questions, comments, and constructive criticism are greatly appreciated!