Hard to Forget
"Right. Come on," he said to his reflection.
The Doctor was in his bathroom, shaving for the first time in this body. And he was simultaneously trying to get used to his new jaw line and talk some sense into himself.
He raised the razor to his cheek. "New man, now. New feelings," he insisted, inclining his head.
First contact, razor to skin. "Ow!" he exclaimed, then took a deep breath and continued. "Moved on now, alright? No more wallowing. No more!"
He dipped the razor into the water in the sink. "Old me is gone. New guy. Younger-looking. Wears a bowtie. Oh, I do like this bowtie. Cool, very cool, are bowties," he paused, grinning at himself. "Anyway, so! New man, with new face, and new clothes, and new feelings."
He shook the razor, and tried again. "You're over her, now," he said sternly to his reflection. "Stop thinking about her. Stop it! You don't...you don't - " he hesitated. "You don't have her, you don't lo - " he paused again, unable to say the words. "You don't..." He coughed meaningfully. "...her anymore."
He stared at himself in the mirror. "Never even seen her in this body. Can't possibly still..." He averted his eyes, unable to lie to his own face, looking instead at the razor in his right hand. And found he still couldn't lie.
"Ohhh..." he sighed tiredly.
He closed his eyes, remembering the last time he'd had to learn a new jaw line. She'd been sitting right there, on the counter next to the sink, watching him, still hints of doubt in her eyes about whether it was really still him. He'd been so preoccupied with looking at her, trying to tell what she was thinking, wondering if he could gain her approval, her affection, again, that he'd ended up cutting himself an abominable amount of times. A fact that she'd found highly amusing, especially when he started defending himself.
"Oi! New me - it's like I'm doing this for the first time!"
"Alright then, I'll let you off. So, everything starts again, does it? Blimey, you have to re-learn stuff about your own body."
"So, are you a virgin again now?"
The Doctor chuckled at the memory. Of his sweet, innocent companion asking him that, her teasing smile on her face, tongue between teeth, mischievous glint in her eyes and he'd known then, for certain, that she still –
"Oh no," he admonished himself, opening his eyes to stare into the mirror again. "Don't start thinking...stop! Oh dear, this is not going to plan...Right! Just, stop thinking...um. Pineapples! There we go. A nice fruit, pineapple. Distracting. Pineapples. Apples. Yuck. Applegrass. Oh, applegrass... No! No, no no! Oh, damn it," he said, as he nicked himself with the razor again.
He closed his eyes, and saw her again.
"Give it here."
"Come on, let me do it. You're useless!"
"Oi! I am not useless."
"You keep hurting yourself. Come and let me have a go."
"Let you 'have a go?' You think I'm going to let you near my face with a sharp object?"
"Yeah, why wouldn't you?"
"One word. Jeopardy-friendly."
"That's two words."
"There's a hyphen!"
"Doctor. Stop waving your razor around in indignation. You'll have someone's eye out. Give me it."
"Why are you even in here, anyway?"
"It's your bathroom."
"Exactly. My bathroom. Not yours. Shoo."
"You're always hanging around in my personal space!"
"Even when we're at Mum's."
"No, I'm the Doctor."
"You know what I mean."
"Give me the razor."
"Okay, fine. But don't kill me. Again."
The Doctor sighed. "Oh, this is extremely very not good."
He could still remember it. Every last detail. 'It' being every moment they'd shared together; from 'run' to 'does it need saying?'
And her. Oh, could he remember her. Remembered the sight, sound, smell, taste, touch of her like she'd left him only yesterday. Remembered how she had taken that razor and swept it across his jaw line like she'd known that him, instinctively, all along.
Fact was, she'd surrounded him, his life, and he couldn't forget her if he tried.
And all he could think now is if she were here, right in front of him, she'd take the razor out of his hand and help him. And get it right. Not even hurt him a little. Know him better than he knew himself. She'd like the bowtie. No, she would love the bowtie. Love him. Still.
He rubbed his eyes wearily, and leant forward to press his forehead to the glass. "Look, I admit, it's pretty difficult, seeing as everywhere you look you see her. Seeing as anywhere you go on the TARDIS you see where she once sat, ate, slept, laughed, cried, sang, danced, talked, joked, smiled, et cetera...but it's time. You've just got to get over it."
He pulled back from the mirror and watched his reaction silently for a few moments. Saw the expression of unease flit across his face at his own words.
He didn't want to get over it. He didn't want to get over her.
"Never," his reflection whispered in answer.
"Then you're going to hurt for the rest of time," he told himself.
"Good," he answered.
The Doctor rolled his eyes. "Bugger. Having a conversation with myself. Again. Never a good thing. And this is happening far too frequently. I have finally gone completely insane. I knew my eventual decent into insanity would be all her fault. Typical her. Driving me crazy even when she's in another bloody universe."
He dropped the razor into the sink and sank to the floor heavily. With his back leaning against the sink, he looked across at the door, at the room beyond the door; his room. Unable to resist, the Doctor jumped to his feet, and launched himself into the room that, if he concentrated, still smelt of her.
"Doctor, does this look alright for 16th century Venice?"
"Rose! Blimey, do you mind?"
"Not really. So...the dress?"
"I'm in a towel."
"No, Doctor. My dress. Does it look okay?"
"I could have been naked!"
"Well, you weren't. You're in a towel. Stop being such a girl! Anyways, what do you think of my dress?"
"Look, I can change if it's wrong or ugly or someth - "
"No! No. Don't change. It's...lovely. You look lovely."
"Thanks! I'll let you get dressed now."
"Rose, hang on. What's that...that smell?"
"My new perfume."
"Have you had a bath in it?"
"Haha, very funny. Don't you like it?"
"Course. But with these superior Time Lord senses of mine, I'll be smelling it in here for around about forever."
"Well, that'll be nice, won't it? Even when I'm gone - "
" – don't say that."
"Even when I'm gone, you'll still be forced to remember me!"
"I couldn't ever..."
"Weelll, um...you must know that I'm... I'm not ever going to forget you in a hurry. Perfume or not."
"I...I...I reckon it's about time I got dressed into something more suitable for Venice, don't you?"
"I dunno, you look quite nice like that..."
"Yes. Well. Goes without saying, really. I'd look good in anything!"
"Even...even leather trousers?"
"Weeelll, I made the jacket work."
"Mmm. What about a long stripy scarf?"
"Hey, that's cheating. You've already seen that in the wardrobe."
"Rose, stop it. Honestly, I wish I'd never told - "
" - A fez hat?"
"Haha! See. Confused you there. So, no to the fez?"
"No, no, I didn't say that. I would. I would look good in a fez."
"Maybe the next you."
"Not this me?"
"Not quite. Need to see that gorgeous hair of yo...er..."
"You think I have gorgeous hair?"
"Don't sound so smug."
"Nah, I'm just pleased."
"You have gorgeous hair too, Rose Tyler."
"Thanks. Ooh, er, Doctor...?"
"Your towel's...um, slipped a bit."
"Wh – oh. Oh. Whoops. Sorry about that."
"No...no, er, problem. I'll...erm, I'll be in..."
"Meet you in the console room?"
"Huh? Yeah. Yeah, sure."
"Hmm? Yeah. Bye."
Oh, now that had been a dodgy conversation. Full of unspoken words and meaningful looks, that one. Just like all the rest, actually. Blimey, they'd been stupid. Wasted time on an epic scale.
He wished he could have that time back.
He shook his head sadly and fell back on his bed with a bounce. She was so...
He squeezed his eyes shut, and pretended she was there with him, laying beside him once more.
"Rose," he murmured.
He imagined her saying, "Yeah, Doctor?"
"You know that I've always loved you, right?"
"Course I do," she'd reply.
"Good. That's good. Would hate to think that you didn't know," he said to thin air.
"I've always known," she'd answer.
"Thought so," he murmured. "Right! So, any ideas how I'm going to get on as this new new new Doctor?"
"You'll get along just fine," she'd say, grinning warmly.
Reflexively, he reached his hand out across the bed to entwine their fingers. But no hand was there waiting, was it? No. He sighed. "I wish you were really here," he whispered.
"I'll live forever inside you head, Doctor, you know that," she'd whisper back.
"That you will," he agreed. "Do you think I did the right thing?"
"Yes. Always," she'd reassure him.
He swallowed past the lump in his throat. "You'll be so happy. I know that."
"I'll always have part of you with me, after all," she'd say.
"I might go back and see you in the past," he said quietly. "Just one last look. Maybe one day while you're out with your Mum shopping or something."
"Doctor," she'd say warningly.
"I could see you again, just for a moment, with these new, new, new eyes. And Jackie, of course. I miss her too, you know." He shuddered slightly. "Woah, never thought I'd say that sentence out loud. I must be getting old."
"You shouldn't," she'd tell him.
"What, get old? Sorry, can't help that," he replied, pretending he didn't know what she really meant.
"No," she'd sigh, exasperated at his obliviousness. "You shouldn't go back. You'll only hurt more, when you have to leave to keep time and space and all that intact."
"Don't," he said.
"You know it's true," she'd counter, raising an eyebrow. "Crossing my timeline might lead to you crossing yours and then there are all sorts of universe-imploding or paradox problems at risk."
"Why are you trying to stop me?" he'd sigh wearily, rubbing his eyes, knowing full well why she was doing so. She's basically his conscious, after all; she's not really here.
"Someone's got to," she'd reply quietly.
Something twisted in his stomach, unease at remembering all what he'd done that she hadn't been there to stop him doing. The terrible consequences of his jaunt to Mars were just one of the things that wouldn't have happened had she been with him.
"I know," he whispered.
"You'll be alright," she'd comfort.
"I'm always alright," he admitted; or lied – it was difficult to tell which anymore. "But I'll not be as fantastically, brilliantly alright as I've been before. With you."
"Go somewhere," she'd suggest brightly. "Go somewhere and have an adventure and save the world and be happy."
"Okay," he said. "But not yet. First...first – and I don't care what you say to try and stop me, because I need to do this – firstly, I'm going to pop back to the nineties and stalk you for the day."
"Fine," she'd huff, but he knew she'd be hiding a giggle.
He rolled over onto his side, eyes still shut tight, and flung an arm across where he imagined her waist to be. He pretended that the ache in his chest that he felt when it was just air that his arm encountered was something else entirely, and pulled her closer.
"Actually, first," he murmured. "Before the stalking, I'm going to lay here and pretend you're with me, and I'm going to have a nap, and I'm going to have a nice dream about you. Alright?"
"Very alright," she'd answer with a smile.
"Good. Nighty night, Rose Tyler."
"Night, Doctor," she'd whisper.
He was exhausted, and it didn't take him long to fall asleep.
He did dream of her then, as he no doubt always would, and when he woke up he'd almost forgotten that she wasn't really in his arms in his bed, where she belonged.
That's why it hurts so much then, he realised, as he opened his eyes to see an empty space where a lovely blonde with a bright smile ought to lay:
The dreams always seemed so real, and when he woke up -
she really was far too far away.
A/N: Eeek, I'm terrified. Is this okay? I was rather scared of posting this, what with it being Eleven...but I guess I cheated a bit with the gratuitous Ten/Rose in it lol. But let me know what you think! I'm working on some other Eleven fics right now...(all heavily feature Rose, you understand ;P)...so I'd love it if you'd all take a look when the time comes to posting them :) Ta, love you all xxx