A/N: Many thanks to Ms. B for beta-ing. I've never had a beta before and I feel that her help has made this story exponentially better.
Picture of the bracelet Rose is looking at: http:/ .com/albums/n552/Isileil/?action=view¤t=tropical_storm_ (without the spaces, of course)
Don't cry because it's over. Smile because it happened.
~Theodor Seuss Geisel, attributed
Rose smiled contentedly as she perused the wares of the booth closest to her. The Doctor had suggested a day of shopping as a way to relax after their run in with the Isolus, and her gaze softened as she thought of that. Spending all day at what was easily a city-sized mall, wasn't usually at the top of the Doctor's to-do list and she knew that he'd planned it especially for her. Rose looked around the crowd in the hope of spotting her companion. She'd be enjoying the trip a whole lot more if he were there to spend it with her.
The Doctor had begged off to look at whatever spare bits of interesting technology he could find to tinker with. He'd promised to be right back, and with both hands in his trench coat, had left her on her own. Rose wasn't worried, though. He'd done this before. On this very planet in fact. The very first time he'd brought her here he'd run off as well. She looked around her in amusement. They'd been in this very market, as well. She smiled and continued to drift lazily through the crowds.
The Doctor had come to this market with a very specific purpose in mind. The TARDIS had been acting up lately and he knew just what she needed. All that was left now was finding the part, and where better to find what one's looking for then the markets of Hyspero. If perhaps the thought that Rose would love it here had crossed his mind first; well, there was no need to tell her that. They were both in need of a nice day with no running.
Just as the thought crossed his mind, though, the Doctor sensed something that sent a shiver down his spine. Not just any kind of something either: a Some One. Himself, more specifically. The Doctor ran a hand over his close cropped hair in an agitated manner and started making his way back to Rose. He had to find her and they needed to leave. Now. Before the other him could find either of them and make his life a lot more complicated. Because that's what always happened when there was more than one of him in an area; complications and danger, and there wasn't supposed to be any running today.
The Doctor's piercing blue gaze swept through the crowd and he increased his pace to a jog as he caught sight of her in the distance. He could sense his other self making his way towards them too. What was he thinking? Couldn't the other him sense him? Maybe he was looking for him? Needed his help? The Doctor scowled and fought the crowds to move faster. All he wanted right now was to spend time with Rose that didn't involve her crying or him dying; they'd had enough of that with the Reapers.
The other Doctor was close now. He had to get Rose out of there before the other him could get to her. Only one of two things would happen then, and he wasn't looking forward to either scenario. One, he'd be roped into whatever problem the other him was having, because Rose would never not help him. Or two, he'd have to explain about regeneration before having to help his other self anyway and he wasn't looking forward to that conversation at all. Not now, and hopefully not ever. He liked Rose, cared for her, he didn't want her to leave. Companions had left him in the past for less than his face changing.
A part of the Doctor argued that Rose wasn't like his other companions, but he pushed that thought away. His other self was almost there. He didn't have time for explanations, so as the Doctor reached her side he slid his hand in hers, gave her a bright crooked smile and said just one word.
To say that Rose was surprised would be an understatement, but years of conditioning from her time with the Doctor kept her from freezing completely. Instinct kicked in and Rose was running hand in hand with the Doctor before she'd had time to process what was happening. All that she could do was stare in amazement at the back of his leather jacket. They were down the street, through the doors of the TARDIS and catching their breath in the vortex before she could find her voice again.
He looked up questioningly at her inquiring tone. And then he looked again, more closely, and had to bite back a curse. The Doctor wasn't one to make mistakes. That is, as long as he was the one being asked, but this was very definitely a mistake. The Rose Tyler standing in front of him was not the Rose Tyler that he had left with.
The great thing about Hyspero was that just about anything imaginable could be bought or sold there. The not-so-great thing about it was that anything could be bought or sold there. Rose wrinkled her nose and moved on quickly to the next stall. The Doctor had told her a bit about the planet and its history and while on the surface it was fairly safe, the people here glorified the idea of thieves and assassins to an absurd degree. Which brought Rose to her current predicament.
She'd argued with the Doctor before he'd wandered off: how was she supposed to buy anything if he wouldn't let her carry any money? The plan was that if she found something she liked he would buy it for her, but as he'd not come back yet she was starting to get a bit peeved. Rose just knew the moment she took her eyes off that bracelet it would be gone. She wasn't usually one to moon over jewelry, but this one had definitely caught her eye. There was something about it that called to her. She looked more closely at the beads and the swirling colors that they held, like miniaturized tropical storms. It was there, in the blue of the beads. They reminded her of the Doctor's eyes. It would almost be like carrying around a bit of him with her. The thought made her smile. Thinking back on the problem at hand, her smile faded. Rose swept her gaze up and down the street, searching for the familiar leather clad figure. Not seeing him, she sent one more longing glance at the bracelet before setting off to find the Doctor.
The Doctor had found his counterpart's companion easily enough. He was beginning to suspect that he could find Rose anywhere, any-when. That's just how they seemed to work. He gave a cheeky grin to no one in particular and continued to follow her. Rose being Rose and oh, so jeopardy-friendly, he wasn't about to just let her wander around by herself. Even if this Rose hadn't been his Rose in a long time.
The Doctor quickly ducked behind a corner as she looked his way, then rolled his eyes at himself for being so foolish. She hadn't seen this face yet, so why was he hiding? He popped back around to see her searching the crowds in frustration. Ah, so she was looking for him, just not him-him. He watched her speak with a vendor, a frown marring her pretty face. As she made her way from the booth, he made his way over to investigate.
Rose threw herself into the arms of the Doctor, tears beginning to form in her eyes. "I never thought I'd see you again," she sobbed, before she could stop herself.
The Doctor frowned confused. "Rose. If I'm not with you, then how'd you get to Hyspero?" He eased himself out of her embrace to get a better look at her face.
Rose sniffled and gave a rueful chuckle. "I am still with you. It's just... you've changed."
It took a moment for the Doctor to comprehend her meaning. He laid a hand on her cheek and gave her his best reassuring smile. "I've regenerated, haven't I?" He asked in a soothing tone, trying to calm her down. It was easy to forget sometimes how fragile the human psyche could be. At her nod, he continued, "You know I'm still me, Rose. The Me back there, I mean. I know it's hard to understand-"
She cut him off, "No, I get it. And I got over that a long time ago, really... it's just, I never thought I'd see you again. You-you, I mean. It's just a bit of a shock, is all." Her eyes were red from fighting back the tears and she had to look away.
He turned her face back to him. "Rose." It was all that he could think of to say. He hated to see her cry. At the sound of her name, Rose burst into tears and he couldn't stand it. The Doctor pulled her back into his arms. Time-lines be damned, he was still her Doctor and she was still his Rose. He murmured soothing words into her hair until her sobbing subsided.
Eventually, she quieted down and took a step back. "Sorry," she mumbled, "I got you all wet."
He waved her apology away. "You gonna tell me what this is all about?"
She looked away again. "Can I? I mean, do you think that's such a good idea?"
Her attempt to deflect his question only made him more certain that something was very wrong. He steered her over to the jump seat and sat her down. Leaning back onto the console across from her, he crossed his arms. "Talk," he ordered, his tone leaving no room for argument.
Rose looked up at him and took a deep breath. "Okay, so I know that you're still you an' all, but you don't act like you anymore. I mean, not really. With you on Platform One I was your 'plus one', an' at Downing Street you were all 'I don' go anywhere without her.'" She ignored his chuckle at her attempt to duplicate his accent. "An' there was all that 'save the world but lose you' talk an' I just thought..." She trailed off at a loss.
The Doctor was the one to look away that time. "And that all changed when I changed?"
Rose shook her head. "No, that's what's so frustratin'." She caught his eyes and held them. "At first it was like, all you could see was me. But the closer we seem to get, the further away you feel. And then you got to play at being a teacher and made me be a lunch lady-" she had to pause at his outburst of laughter, but charged on with more ferocity. "-and then a maid!"
He could see some of her familiar Tyler-fire starting to kindle in her eyes. This was the Rose that he knew.
"And then the whole thing with Sarah Jane, and let's don't even get me started on about Reinette."
At there, he had to cut her off. He could see a slap coming if he let her keep building up steam. "Whoa, whoa, slow down. Maybe we should steer away from names and dates and such, yeah?" He gave her a lopsided grin, "wouldn't want to risk knowing too much, now do we?"
She smiled for him, her first genuine smile since she'd gotten there and the Doctor felt himself relax. He hadn't even realized he'd been tense.
"I just have a hard time sometimes, ya know," she was almost shy at this point. "I can't help but think that, if you hadn't changed, things would be different."
He didn't know what to say to that, so he stayed silent.
When he didn't respond, Rose took a deep breath. "I just miss you sometimes." She stood and leaned next to him on the console. Taking his hand in hers, she met his eyes again. "Doesn't change anything though, does it?" Her tone was one of resignation, and grudging acceptance. The Doctor felt a warmth of pride for his little yellow and pink human. She'd never see it herself, but she had enough courage and wisdom in her tiny frame to put whole armies to shame.
The Doctor found himself answering her question, regardless of its rhetorical nature. "No, no it doesn't."
"Still." She paused, seeming to pull herself together. "I'm really glad that I got to see you again. Say good-bye this time. Didn't really get the chance to..." she seemed to struggle for a moment, whether with the words or a memory, the Doctor wasn't sure. Finally, she finished her thought, "before. Get some closure, yeah?"
The Doctor brushed a lock of hair from her face. "Yeah."
She closed her eyes at the touch and he watched as the tension drained from her.
"There is one more thing," she said, turning to face him. "I never did think it fair that you're the only one to really remember our first kiss." Her lips were on his before he could process what she'd said, and his mind seemed to go blank. It was sweet and chaste and lasted only a few moments before she pulled away.
It was another moment before the Doctor opened his eyes, and another moment after that before his thoughts started moving forward again. Rose had stepped back to give him his space, a small smile playing on her lips. The Doctor stood there, torn between what he should do and what he wanted to do. In the end, old habits won out. When in doubt, ignore the issue at hand. He clapped his hands together and started moving around the console, flipping switches and turning dials.
"Right then. Got to get you back to your Doctor, and me back to my Rose." He made a show of bending around the rotor to smile at her, that goofy ear-to-ear grin that she loved so much. "Wouldn't do to keep us waiting, now would it."
She shook her head and grinned back at him. A tongue-in-the-teeth-grin, just for him.
The Doctor was feeling very much the assassin, right now. Hiding in the shadows of an alley, waiting for his target to arrive. Only, he'd make a lousy assassin seeing as how he wasn't really planning on killing anyone today. Still, maybe a bit of a spy... -ish. Definitely a body guard of some sort after having trailed Rose all afternoon. Really, if he had known that one little human could attract so much trouble, he never would have let her out of his sight. Ever. He wondered briefly if Rose would wear one of those leashed back-packs if he got one for her. They'd laughed when they'd seen a child wearing one the last time they'd been in London, but he was starting to see the usefulness of such a device.
His thoughts returned to the present as the familiar sounds of the TARDIS reached his ears, growing in intensity with every second. He stayed quiet and still as the door opened, and watched as Rose and his past self stepped out hand in hand. They whispered their goodbyes and he smiled at the scene. Rose always had been a softy. He chose to ignore the fact that it was his past self that pulled her in and held her close; that it was technically him that kissed her hair softly. Yes, Rose was the sentimental one.
When they parted and Rose began to walk away, that was his cue. He opened his mind to the other Doctor to catch his attention and then tossed something small to him. His younger self caught it easily and quirked an eyebrow at him questioningly. The Doctor just rolled his eyes and nodded his shaggy haired head at Rose's retreating form, as though it should have been obvious. The other Doctor seemed to catch on to his thoughts and looked down at what he held in his hands. Turning back to look at Rose, the younger Doctor nodded decisively. She'd only gotten a few yards away, and he started after her. The elder Doctor grinned to himself for a job well done and headed back towards his own
TARDIS to wait for his Rose.
It didn't take long for the Doctor to catch up with Rose. The silent conversation with himself had only taken a few seconds. He called her name when he turned the corner she'd taken and was relieved when she turned around. For a second he was afraid that he'd caught the wrong Rose again, which would've been the right Rose originally, but that was neither here nor there.
She was looking at him questioningly and he supposed for good reason, but he didn't say anything. He took her smaller hand in his and dropped his treasure into her palm, curling her digits around it. She looked at their joined hands, then back up to his face.
"What's this?" she asked.
He honestly wasn't sure beyond the obvious, so he just shrugged and dropped his hands to his sides. When she opened her hand and saw what she was holding, he admitted, "I thought you'd like it."
Startled eyes shot up to his smiling blue ones, and he watched as they teared up again. For a second, he contemplated finding his future self and throttling him, but then the corners of her mouth turned up and she was in his arms again. When she pulled away from him this time, she placed a quick kiss on his cheek. Her smile was near blinding and with a heartfelt 'thank you,' she was gone.
The Doctor knew he looked a fool standing in the middle of the street by himself grinning, like a loon, but he couldn't find it in himself to care. He thrust his hands in the pockets of his leather jacket and started down the street in search of his own Rose. He couldn't help the extra little bounce in his step. He hadn't been this excited about what the future might bring in quite a few lifetimes.
When Rose found the TARDIS, the Doctor was leaning a little too casually on the outside waiting for her. He stepped forward as she approached and inquired almost suspiciously, "Find anything you like?"
Her hand briefly touched the storm stones on her wrist and she nodded, smiling. "Found just what I needed." He offered her his hand, wiggling the fingers. She took it without hesitation and followed him into the ship.
"And I know just where we need to go next." He said, setting a new destination at the console. He grinned at her over his shoulder. "You might want to grab a coat; it'll be a bit chilly."
By the time she made it back to the console room, they'd landed and the Doctor was waiting for her by the door.
"It occurs to me," he started without preamble, "that you and I have never seen a proper sun rise together." He opened the door to a faint pre-dawn light and offered her his arm. "Shall we?"
She smiled up at him and hooked her arm through his, letting him lead her out onto the rocky terrain. She looked around at the early morning landscape. She could hear water gently lapping but it was still too dark to see it. She dropped his arm to take a step forward and he followed suit in order to remain beside her.
He was watching her discretely from the corner of his eye as the sun crested the horizon, bathing the alien surface in a golden glow. There were spires of rock reaching towards the sky and the sun's rays shone around and through them, revealing the water she'd been hearing. They were near the edge of a lake and when Rose looked up she could see creatures flying through the air.
"How long you gonna stay with me?" The Doctor asked, looking over at her. He seemed to already know her answer.
Rose turned her head to meet his gaze, a smile gracing her lips. "Forever."
So, like it? Love it? Hate it? Did everyone stay in character? If you've read any of my other stuff, does it seem as if I'm getting any better? (Possibly that could all be due to my awesome beta... but I'm trying.) Constructive criticism is always appreciated. ^_^