A/N This is a sequel to my first story, "Just As It Should Be." This takes up directly where the previous story left off.
Warning: Be prepared for copious amounts of domestic fluff.
Disclaimer: I do not own Doctor Who. All rights belong to the BBC.
It had been just over 24 hours since the Doctor had left his home universe safely in the hands of the Eleventh version of himself and returned with Rose to the parallel world, ready to begin their new life together.
It was either the most brilliant or most reckless decision he had ever made. Time, as it did with all things, would tell the ultimate tale in the end.
The Doctor had left behind nearly everything in order to have this one chance with Rose. He had been so tired when he'd made the decision. Tired of running yet never escaping his demons. He'd faced yet another battle, yet another run-in with the Daleks, yet more deaths and destruction in their wake. But the Daleks were not the only ones guilty of ending lives. He sometimes wondered, in the dark recesses of his mind, if the only difference between himself and his enemies were the methods they'd employed. Davros had taunted him with the memory of those who had died in his name. And in the end, he had been given yet another title: Destroyer of Worlds.
In the light of a parallel day, he questioned whether he'd seen this opportunity as a means of escape. But one look at Rose was all it took for him to realize this wasn't an escape route of a dying man. This was the road to a journey of new life. A journey he'd never imagined or deserved, and one he would embrace with both hands, come what may.
That resolute thought was the foundation he would build upon, and at least for now, galvanized him as he began this first day into the great unknown.
The world of Domestic.
At least until his new TARDIS was ready for flight. The Doctor in the TARDIS with Rose. Yes, this quite possibly had the potential for brilliance. Provided he didn't make a hash of the whole situation. Either way, his original TARDIS was gone and the walls between worlds were once again closed. There was no turning back now.
With the Dimension Cannon project a success, Pete Tyler was able to quickly tie up all the loose ends at Torchwood and reach Norway sooner than expected. The Doctor, Rose and Jackie made their way to an airstrip in Bergen where Pete was arriving via private zeppelin to pick them up.
The zeppelin finally landed, and Pete, carrying little Tony in his arms, rushed forward to greet his wife and daughter.
"Jacks!" he exclaimed.
"Oh, Pete!" Jackie cried as she ran towards him.
The two embraced, then Jackie took Tony in her arms, peppering his tiny face with kisses as he giggled. "I thought I might never see my boys again!"
"And you might not have," Pete said sternly, "Jackie, I told you not to go."
"Well I wasn't gonna just leave Rose, was I?"
He knew it was pointless arguing with her. Once Torchwood learned Rose was facing a battle, Jackie had taken up arms herself and insisted on going through with Mickey. There was absolutely no stopping a Tyler woman when she'd made up her mind. Pete just sighed. "I'm just glad you're back. I can't lose you, Jackie. Not again."
"Hey," she said gently, "you're not gonna lose me. I'm here. And believe me, I hope to never do that again!"
He laughed softly. "I'll hold you to that." Pete then turned to embrace Rose. "Oh, sweetheart, you don't know how happy I was when your mum told me you were coming back. I love you."
"I love you too, Dad. And I'm so happy to be back," she told him sincerely. "I found what I was looking for," Rose said, indicating to the Doctor with a twinkle in her eye. "And now I'm here to stay. Well, maybe not permanently on Earth…," she amended, with matching grins on her and the Doctor's faces as they thought about the new TARDIS they would soon be growing. "But definitely in this universe."
"Well, I'm glad for that," Pete answered with a smile. He had watched Rose run herself ragged to find this man again. She had seemed bent on leaving this universe. Now it was home to her, so long as the Doctor shared it.
Pete then reached out and shook the Doctor's hand. "Doctor, good to see you again. And thank you for bringing these two home safe."
"Oh, it's more like they kept me safe. I couldn't have done it without them…all of them," The Doctor said with genuine relief.
"Jackie told me about what you did – I mean…creating another Time Lord or something so you could come back with Rose. I have to admit, I don't really understand any of it."
"If Jackie explained it, I'm not surprised," the Doctor muttered.
"Oi! I heard that!" Jackie retorted.
"Don't worry, Pete. I'll explain it all to you on the way back. Well, attempt to, at any rate," he assured the bemused man.
"Doctor," Rose cut in, now holding Tony on her hip, "there's someone here who would like to meet you. Tony, this is the Doctor." The toddler's eyes went wide in awe of the pinstriped man before him.
The Doctor reached out and shook his small hand. "Tony Tyler, nice to meet you! I've heard quite a lot about you."
Tony looked like a miniature version of Rose with his mop of blonde hair, big brown eyes, and round cheeks.
"He's heard quite a bit about you, too, Doctor," Rose said. "I've told him stories about our adventures together, and in his mind you're a regular superhero."
"Weeell, I don't have a cape, but it's nice to be considered in the same category," he said, giving Tony a lopsided grin.
Tony buried his face shyly in Rose's neck and whispered something. Rose grinned. "He wants to know if he can see your sonic screwdriver."
"What, this?" he asked, pulling the sonic from his coat pocket. "Course you can. And did you know that it can…"
"Don't you dare let him play with that!" Jackie shrieked, as she took Tony back in her arms protectively. "Next thing you know he'll be runnin' about blowing things up. And I'm sure I'll have enough of that on my hands now that you're here," she said, pointing at the Doctor accusingly.
"I wasn't going to give it to him, Jackie," he said in defense. "And when have I ever blown anything up?"
Rose raised an eyebrow and smirked.
"Yes, well…anyway…" He trailed off, shoving his hands in his pockets.
Pete laughed. "Come on, let's go home."
They all turned to board the zeppelin, and Rose linked her arm with the Doctor's. "Any second thoughts?" she asked, smiling up at him and trying not to sound insecure. She wondered if this would ever stop feeling like a dream.
The Doctor smiled fondly back. "None," he was able to reply with certainty.
During the flight back, the Doctor filled Pete in on everything from defeating the Daleks, to towing the Earth back home, to creating his Eleventh self from his spare hand in a jar. By the end of the impossible tale, Pete looked as awestruck by the Doctor as Tony had been.
"I think Tony was right, you really are a superhero," he remarked with a shake of his head.
"Nah. Just a man in a blue box whose hobby happens to be saving the universe," the Doctor replied casually.
Pete chuckled. "Well, the universe and I are certainly glad you chose that particular hobby."
The Doctor then went on to tell Pete about his plan to grow a new TARDIS from the piece of coral he brought with him from the original ship. Pete assured him that all of Torchwood's resources were at his disposal and he could use whatever he needed to aid in growing the new ship. Not only did they owe at least that much to him in recompense, but Pete knew better than to try to stand in his way. The Doctor might have chosen this life to be with Rose, but permanently separating him from the stars in the process was something no man or universe or force of nature could accomplish.
Evening was approaching when they finally touched down in London, and a car was waiting to pick them up.
Jackie asked if Rose and the Doctor wanted to spend the night with them at the mansion, but Rose insisted she wanted to go back to her own flat. She and the Doctor needed to get settled, and they still had a lot of catching up to do. They agreed to come for dinner the following evening, and were planning to meet Pete at Torchwood first thing in the morning to pick up what was needed for the new TARDIS.
They dropped Rose and the Doctor off first, and as they were saying their goodbyes, Jackie informed Rose that she had a fully-stocked kitchen waiting for her.
"What do you mean?" Rose asked.
"I made some calls and had things delivered for you. I knew you wouldn't have anything in. You've hardly even been there the past month, what with the whole business of the stars goin' out and then that Dimension Cannon starting to work. And I figured you'd be too tired to do any marketing as soon as you got back. Besides, this one's skinny enough as it is," she said, indicating to the Doctor, to which he just frowned. "You need to make sure he's properly fed and put some meat on his bones."
Rose smiled and gave Jackie a hug. "Thank you, Mum." Then whispered, "For everything."
"I'm your mum, sweetheart. It's my job to take care of you."
The Doctor shook Pete's hand and Jackie warned him to at least try to behave himself.
"Yes, ma'am," he replied, giving her a salute. Orders from Jackie Tyler. Is this what his life had become? It was still worth it, he reminded himself.
Rose and the Doctor turned and headed into the modest, multi-level building. "So," the Doctor began as they walked, "all she had to do was make some calls and suddenly you've got everything you need? Jackie Tyler with 'people' at her command. Who would have thought?"
"I know," Rose replied shaking her head. "It's still hard to get used to. But Mum's not some rich snob like the other Jackie was. She knows what that Jackie became and she's determined to avoid the pitfalls of being wealthy. And I'm glad she has this life now. She deserves it after all the sacrifices she made raising me on her own. And she hasn't forgotten where she came from. Mum does quite a bit of charity work – especially helping single mothers who are struggling. I'm really proud of her."
"Mmm," the Doctor agreed. "Don't ever tell her I said this, but she is quite a remarkable woman."
Rose stopped walking and turned to him. "Hold on, did you just compliment my mum?" she asked in astonishment.
"I told you, don't ever tell her that. The second worst day of my life was when she grabbed me in her flat and attacked me with her fearsome lips." He shuddered at the memory. "I don't want to give her a reason to do anything like that ever again." Rose just laughed.
The Doctor looked up at the building they were about to enter. It was a converted warehouse in the city not far from Torchwood. Rose explained that she wanted to be close to work so she could be there quickly in an emergency. And she liked this place. It had a certain character. She had stayed with her mum and dad up until Tony was a few weeks old, and then decided it was time to be on her own.
"I spent so much time trying to imagine what your life here was like, Rose," he told her as they walked up the stairs leading to her flat. "Where you were, what you were doing, and if you were happy. And now here I am, actually seeing for myself."
"And what do you see?" she questioned softly.
They stopped then as they reached the door to her flat, and the Doctor looked deeply into her eyes as he reached up to trail the backs of his fingers down her cheek. "I see a woman who made a life for herself while doing the impossible. And I see…" He swallowed hard. "I see a life I want to be a part of." Then he took her in his arms and kissed her soundly – because he wanted to and because he could. For so long he wanted to but thought he couldn't, so he set a goal for himself to make up for that now.
They slowly broke apart, smiling affectionately, if not nervously at each other. This was still so new, and they were far from having adjusted to it.
Still a little dazed, Rose pulled back and brought her key out of her pocket. She was nervous as she opened the door. She still couldn't believe all of this was happening and the Doctor was really here with her, about to step into her flat. It all felt surreal.
She opened the door to reveal a modest sized flat with an open floor plan. The kitchen was to the right with a bar overlooking the living area. To the left of the living area was a wall made almost entirely out of glass, with floor-to-ceiling windows and sliding double doors leading onto a patio overlooking the city. Straight back was a hallway, with her bedroom on the left and a spare room to the right.
The Doctor strode in casually behind her with his hands in his pockets, walked into the living area and turned a circle, taking in his surroundings.
"So what do you think?" Rose asked a little anxiously. She hoped he at least didn't hate it. He was stuck here for the time being.
He gave her a broad grin. "Oh, I like it! It feels appropriately…you," he said approvingly.
"You think?" she asked hopefully.
"Definitely. And best of all, there's no carpets!" he added happily.
"I thought you'd like that," she grinned. "Hardwood throughout except for the rug in front of the fireplace. And there's no mortgage," she informed him. "Torchwood pays quite well."
"Now I like it even better." he confirmed.
She wondered if he would be quite so approving if this were going to be a permanent rather than temporary dwelling. It didn't much matter. Right now he was happy, so there was no way for her to be anything less. Rose walked up to him and wrapped her arms around his waist. "I'm so glad you're here," she whispered, not for the first or last time.
"There's nowhere else in the universe I'd rather be," he answered candidly as he stroked her hair. There was an edge of pain to his voice, and she wondered just how much he had been through during their time apart. It was time for them both to begin to heal.
They found the kitchen fully-stocked, just as Jackie had said. The refrigerator was full of prepared meals just needing to be reheated. They decided, of course, on fish and chips.
They brought the remainder of the plate of chips they were sharing out to the couch and settled in together as the Doctor began telling Rose about his travels while they were apart. He recounted everything from the first time he met Donna, to meeting Martha at a hospital on the Moon, and everything in between up until they were finally reunited again on that abandoned street.
He hesitated at first about telling her some of the darker details. Like loving and losing Joan Redfern when he was forced to become human to hide from the Family of Blood, and the year that never was onboard the Valliant with the Master. And then there was Jenny. The added scars he had acquired in her absence ran deep. But he didn't want to keep any secrets from her, so he held nothing back and opened his hearts.
Rose cried with him for his losses and was filled with pride at his victories. This was what it meant to have found your soul mate, he realized. And he had never felt so complete.
A few hours had passed when he finally reached the end of his tales. Now he wanted to hear everything about Rose's life since they'd been apart. She told him of Tony's birth, the sad passing of Mickey's gran who had become a part of their family, and of working her way up at Torchwood. He was so proud of the life she had made for herself here. But she told him it was empty. Without him, half of her heart was missing. But now that they were together again, she was finally whole once more.
When the Doctor asked her about the details of her dimension jumps and what happened in the parallel world with Donna, he sensed her become uncomfortable. She seemed hesitant to discuss it and suddenly became quiet.
"I'm so tired, Doctor. I think I need a hot shower and then some sleep. We'll talk more tomorrow, yeah?"
"Of course. It's been a long day and you could do with some rest."
There was a slightly awkward moment when Rose offered him the spare room. Their relationship had made a progressive leap, but just how much further it would go from here had not been discussed. Until things were a little more settled, the spare room was probably the least complicated option. Rose also seemed to suddenly want some time alone.
She gave him a smile that didn't reach her eyes, and he noticed how she averted her gaze away from him as she stood, made her way to her bedroom and closed the door.
Something was clearly bothering her. And if Rose was bothered then so was he. He wanted to go ask her what was wrong, but she clearly wasn't in the mood for talking anymore and he didn't want to push her. He just hoped that she knew she could tell him anything. He hoped she trusted him enough now that she would.
He blew out a long breath, stood from the couch, and with his hands buried deep in his pockets, began to pace as doubts crept in.
Was she suddenly having second thoughts about their new life together? Did she wish she had stayed in the other universe? He knew they didn't have a TARDIS yet, but theirs would be grown in a matter of months. Surely that wasn't what was bothering her, was it? Maybe…, he swallowed hard as a thought occurred to him. Maybe she wished she had stayed with the other Doctor. There had not been an opportunity for the two of them to spend much time together, but even though their encounter had been brief, it was clear that a bond still existed between them. Perhaps it was much stronger than he realized.
Oh, that idea was just ridiculous, he told himself. The man wore a bow tie, for Rassilon's sake! He knew she cared about the new Doctor, of course, but he also knew that she is in love with this him. So if second thoughts were not to blame for the shift in her behavior, what was?
He unceremoniously plopped himself back down on the couch and lay back with his hands behind his head. This was one of the reasons why he had always shied away from doing domestic, he thought to himself. It could be so bloody complicated. It had been centuries since he'd been in a relationship, and he was afraid he might be rubbish at this.
He scrubbed his hands over his face and concluded that he wasn't accomplishing anything by letting his thoughts run away with him, so he decided he might as well do something useful and unpack. He stood up and grabbed his long brown coat that was draped over the back of the couch and headed for the spare room that he'd be staying in for the time being. He also thought it was the best room to set up what he would need for growing the new TARDIS.
He walked into the sparsely-decorated room and sat on the bed as he began emptying his 'bigger on the inside' pockets. A yo-yo, a wind-up mouse, a large magnifying glass, his water pistol, a few jelly babies…he was starting to create quite a pile. Then he began pulling out things that no one would have ever believed could possibly fit, dimensionally transcendent pockets or no. Eventually he had a spare brown suit identical to the one he was wearing, two blue suits, shirts and ties, and several pairs of trainers in various colors.
He had also removed a small wooden box he had taken with him from the TARDIS. He smiled fondly as he ran his hand across the top. He was planning to bring it with him as a surprise for Rose and Jackie when they met her parents for dinner the next night.
Then he paused as his hand grasped something familiar in his pocket, and he slowly pulled it out. The White Point Star. His throat clenched at the thought of the importance this held to him. It was the Gallifreyan diamond he planned to make into a ring for Rose and offer it to her when he offered himself fully. He was still taken aback by the reality of having reached such a place in his life. It was equal parts terrifying and exhilarating. He closed his eyes and clutched it tightly in his hand as emotions swelled inside him at the thought. He took a deep breath and carefully placed it back in his pocket.
He picked up his suits, carried them to the empty closet and began to hang them up. He noted that the shower he heard running in Rose's room had turned off and he heard her softly moving around. A few minutes later, the sound of her quiet crying reached his ears. The suits lay forgotten as he quickly made his way to her room, and without hesitation or second thought, he swiftly opened the door and stepped inside.
The room was dark with the exception of the lights from the city filtering in through the windows, casting the space in a soft glow. He scanned the room and his eyes fell upon Rose on the far side, sitting on the floor with her back against the wall, her legs drawn up to her chest and her head buried in her knees. She had changed into pink cotton pajama bottoms and matching vest, and her hair was still damp from her shower. She looked so small and broken curled in on herself, her body shaking with each sob.
He crossed the room in a few quick strides and was instantly at her side, dropping to his knees and pulling her into his arms. He was acquainted well enough with anguish to know it when he saw it.
"Oh, Rose," he said, his face full of concern. "What's wrong? What is it?"
She lifted her head to look at him, her eyes red and swollen. "M'sorry…it's just…," her face crumpled and she began crying harder as she grabbed his jacket by the lapels and buried her face in his chest.
He shifted and drew her more tightly to him as he ran his hands soothingly and up and down her back. "Shhhh, it's okay. I've got you…it's okay," he whispered as he gently rocked her.
Slowly, her tears subsided and her body relaxed in his arms. He stroked her head and gently asked, "What is it, Rose? What's wrong?"
She met his gaze full of love and concern, then lowered her eyes as she quietly spoke. "I guess everything from the past few weeks finally caught up with me and it just hit me all at once." She lifted her eyes to his once more, and he gently reached out to brush the hair from her face as she continued, "So much happened, Doctor, in that parallel world where I met Donna. Everything was just so…wrong," her voice quivered. "I had to just push aside my feelings and keep going. I knew if I stopped even for a moment everything would catch up to me and I wouldn't be able to continue. But the things I saw, the things I…did…" She looked at him once more, her eyes full of anguish as she told him, "I sent Donna to her death."
The Doctor's voice was gentle as he spoke. "What do mean, Rose? Donna is fine," he assured her. "She's more than fine. Right at this moment she's happily traveling the other universe with my eleventh self."
"But you don't understand!" she said, her voice rising slightly. "In order to put things right, she had to sacrifice herself. And I knew that would happen and that it was the only way; and all I could do in the end was tell her was I was sorry!"
Oh, he understood far too well. How many times had he stood witness to sacrifice and loss and pain and all he could offer was a feeble apology?
She continued, "In the end, she had to throw herself in front of a lorry to change the events back. And…I watched. I went to her as she lay dying, and it was like re-living my father's death over again," she told him, her voice full of sorrow.
"Oh, Rose," he whispered, wishing with all his hearts he could erase her pain.
"That wasn't all," she continued, her eyes seeming far away and haunted. "Just before all that, we spent weeks trying to reach you and were only able to get a short signal through at the wrong times when you weren't able to see. And then once, I came so close to finding you but missed you by just a few minutes. But then, when we had finally gotten a strong reading on the TARDIS and I was able to get to you, you were…you were dead," she told him, as the tears that had been building in her eyes came trailing down her cheeks. "I watched them carry you away," she cried.
The Doctor was taken aback by this. He hadn't known the details of what had happened in that parallel world.
"You drowned underneath the Thames. You died that night because Donna wasn't there to stop you. And that was only the beginning. So many more died trying to stop the events that you had once saved everyone from. Sarah Jane, Gwen Cooper, Ianto Jones. And Jack was taken prisoner by the Sontarans. It just kept getting worse…," she trailed off.
"Rose, look at me," he said gently. "All of that is over now. That world is gone, and it's as if those terrible things never happened."
"But it did happen, Doctor!" she retorted, desperate for him to understand. "And I can still remember. You should understand better than anyone after what you told me about the year that never was. Just because the events were reversed and everything went back to the way it should be, that doesn't mean it didn't still happen. I lived it and I'll never forget."
The Doctor sighed wearily. "I know. And I'm sorry. I wish I could make it all go away, but I can't. But I can promise you that I will do everything in my power to make sure you never have to go through anything like that again. I'm here now and we're together. And what happened wasn't in vain. It brought us to where we are now because you had the courage to stand up and fight and see it through without backing down. You have no idea how proud I am of you. And I promise you everything is going to be alright now. More than alright – fantastic. Remember?"
And he would make certain that she was alright. He was the Doctor, after all. He was the man who supposedly made people better. And if there was anyone he would make better, it would be Rose. She was his priority now, and always would be. He would give her whatever she needed, and right now what she needed was understanding, love, and some rest. He would see to all three.
"C'mon," he said gently, "I think you could do with some sleep now." She nodded against his chest, still clinging to him.
Keeping one arm around her back, he slipped the other behind her knees and lifted her effortlessly into his arms. He carried her to the bed, gently set her down and pulled the covers up around her. He was pulling back when she reached out and placed her hand on his arm.
"Stay?" she asked quietly, her eyes imploring.
A possible meaning to that request flashed in his mind. But he would not take advantage of her need for comfort by taking a step that they might not be ready for. Gazing into her eyes, he realized that wasn't what she was asking. She simply needed his presence, his nearness. He nodded almost imperceptibly and whispered, "Always."
He straightened up, shrugged off his jacket, removed his tie and toed off his trainers. Then He pulled back the covers and slipped in beside Rose. She snuggled into his chest as he wrapped his arms protectively around her.
As the Doctor lay with Rose in his arms, something began to stir deep inside him that he hadn't felt in such a long time, and after the Time War had thought he would never feel again. It was the feeling of being home.