These two words filled The Doctor's head as he felt the force of Rose's hands thrusting him away and onto the floor. He was already feeling a deep regret for hurting Rose with his lack of composure during their kiss and then his lack of emotion afterward. Now self loathing was threatening to have a moment with him. Well, all this guilt would have to wait. Yes, it was an egregious oversight that he hadn't caught on to her awareness of his plan to erase her memory and he would be sure to lump it in with every other bloody cock up he'd fallen into so easily as of late. First though, he needed to gain control of the situation back from Rose.
"What are you doing?" He asked, trying to distract Rose.
Her intentions were obvious to him, but he asked anyway. He needed to get her attention back on him and away from the determination he'd seen in her eyes as he'd fallen to the ground. It was vital to produce a distance between Rose and the console, so when she responded to his question with, "What I have to do to save us," The Doctor's own eyes searched out a weakness in his companion that he might exacerbate.
That's when he spied the sonic screwdriver peeking out from Rose's pocket. The Doctor uttered an oath for having had the wool pulled over his eyes yet again. The image of Amy playfully relieving him of the device was still fresh in his head, but then he had never attempted to gain it back from her. He'd been too focused on Rose at the time. Shaking off his frustration, The Doctor decided to make leap for it, knowing full well that in all probability his trusted tool wouldn't even work against the godlike creature Rose was becoming. His options were limited, though and he liked the idea of pushing her over, because it would kill two birds with one stone. If he could get Rose on the floor this would in effect keep her from looking into the console and he'd have a better chance of retrieving his screwdriver.
His attempt at knocking Rose over to gain control of his sonic screwdriver went down without result. Her body remained steadfast while absorbing the energy. After a quick reassessment of the situation, The Doctor saw that he could simply lift the instrument from her pocket without any retaliation. Rose's focus was on pulling one of the most powerful energies of the universe inside her and nothing else. Sure enough, she didn't bother with him and once he had his old standby in hand the Doctor waited. It was all he could do, well, that and hope the heart of his TARDIS might listen to reason. Any amount of physical force he used would never be enough, because she was no longer Rose. This fact was made all the more evident when she turned, having fully absorbed his ship's power, and the brightness cascading off of her was so intense that The Doctor had to shield his eyes.
"You need to stop this, Rose. You don't know what you're doing." He pleaded with the girl, who no longer resembled the human he loved, but rather something far more powerful and dangerous.
"This is not for you to decide. It has never been for you to decide. The human wishes to keep her memories of you and she shall. You will not erase her memory."
Rose spoke in a voice that echoed in his ears, bringing forth memories of the last time she had sounded that way. This recollection was a past in jeopardy if Rose returned to it with knowledge of him. "You must let me erase her memories or do so yourself. If you don't things might change, good things, concrete things that need to happen."
"You will not erase her memory." Rose repeated, "You are a Time Lord and are aware that time can be rewritten. It is what she wants and what you want as well."
The Doctor raised his arms towards Rose and made a frantic motion with his hands in frustration, "Of course, it's what I want!" he shouted, his voice drenched in aggravation, "Why wouldn't I want to be with the one person who was able to pull me back from the edge after the Time War? The one person I allowed myself to fall in love with after so many years of denying myself? This is ludicrous! I'm not willing to take the chance of altering history enough that The Reapers appear or good people who lived, because of her, now die!"
"You will not erase her memory." Rose stated in the monotone that had taken over her vocal chords.
"I'm sorry can you repeat that … I didn't get it the first bloody time." The Doctor growled while running his fingers through his hair in anger.
The creature inside Rose didn't respond, seemingly aware enough of The Doctor to identify a derisive tone. It did though move towards him, which alarmed the Time Lord enough that he backed away. He didn't think Rose would harm him, but having been witness to her destructive capabilities the last time this power had flowed through her body, The Doctor wasn't taking any chances. "What are you doing?" He asked defensively.
Rose reached out her hand and placed it underneath his suit coat to find his chest. There she placed it, and maneuvered one of the buttons of his shirt free causing them both to experience the skin on skin contact of her hand over his beating hearts. The sensation felt very warm to him. "I love you." She spoke in a manner that sounded more human and less of what her voice had became while under the control of the TARDIS energy.
"If you do, then you will stop this." He whispered while staring into her former brown irises that now shone gold.
"I'm sorry." Was all she said before an unseen force gently moved The Doctor away from her, the console and any chance he had of salvaging the situation.
As the TARDIS door closed with him on the outside, The Doctor reached out and pounded on it with one fist while his other hand manipulated the sonic screwdriver to reopen his time machine. He was vaguely aware of Amy rushing up to join him, but ignored her and continued on his futile mission to get back inside. "No, Damn it!" He cried out when in time his fist met with air, the TARDIS having left him behind and gone into the Time Vortex with Rose Tyler as its only occupant.
3 months later
Quietly opening the door leading outside the banquet hall, The Doctor shivered slightly as the unseasonably cold June air hit him in the face. Despite the chill, the environment was a nice change from the stuffiness inside the building and he enjoyed the feel of the cool air inside his lungs as he took a deep breath and exhaled. Weddings were always such joyous affairs for humans and he tended to find himself right in the midst of that joy with this time being no exception. The Doctor had made it a point to dance with just about everyone in attendance, including the bride and much to his mortification, the groom as well. He just hoped it would be enough for Amy. There was a sense that this would mark the end of their relationship as Doctor and companion and he wanted her to remember him in a positive light despite the chaos he'd caused for the girl over the years.
"Hey you, not disappearing on me again like last time are you?"
The Doctor whirled about to see Amy, dressed in her beautiful white wedding gown. Her red hair was slightly askew due to all the dancing she'd done, but the few strands hanging down in front of her face didn't seem to bother her. She was leaning against the door she'd just exited through and eyeing him skeptically.
"Which disappearing act are you referring to? There've been so many that I've lost count." He joked, playfully jabbing her shoulder.
Amy scoffed and quickly ran past him, grasping the top hat from his head in the process. She then covered her glorious red updo with the hat and tipped it in his direction, "A Time Lord losing count, now there's a laugh. Aren't you supposed to remember everything? You know what with all of time occupying that tiny brain of yours."
Now it was The Doctor's turn to scoff, "I thought we discussed this months ago, Pond," he said, imitating a teacher lecturing his student, "I've got a very big brain."
"Yes, I remember on our trip to see Rose you had many conversations with your big brain."
The Doctor involuntarily groaned. Neither of them had spoken about Rose since he'd brought Amy back from that trip and then gone off for a few days on his own afterward. Not mentioning Rose was an order he implemented upon his return and Amy had to agree to abide by this if she wanted to continue traveling with him. He now realized she was referring to that disappearance and in her own coy way was trying to pick his big brain for details. "Give me my hat back. It looks lousy on you." The Doctor grumbled.
Amy relinquished the top hat, but not her resolve to pursue the topic she had broached, "You can't keep quiet about it forever, you know. I mean, why not tell me what happened? Why did you leave me without a word and then come back, but refuse to talk about Rose. You can't experience something like that and keep it all to yourself. It's not healthy." Amy's voice was soft and The Doctor could tell she was trying her best to sound concerned.
"This coming from the girl who had a very healthy obsession with me from an early age." The Doctor said doubtfully.
Amy placed both her hands on his shoulders and gave him a quick shake, "Don't you see? That's perfect then. We both have unhealthy habits. I like to fixate on men who are no good for me and you like to repress your emotions. We could be like an AA meeting for unhealthy habits. Maybe we could even get Rory to join, because between you and me I've caught him picking his nose before and that's very unhealthy."
The Doctor couldn't help, but laugh at her tenacity. That was Amy though, little incorrigible Amy Pond. He had to resist the urge to ruffle her hair, not wanting to displace her hairstyle anymore than her dancing and his top hat had already done. "I suppose if I ever was going to say what happened to anyone then it would be to you. Have you got five minutes for a sincere one on one conversation where I might reveal things pertaining to Rose?"
Amy's mouth grew into a large grin and she nodded enthusiastically, "I told Rory I'd be a bit, so we don't have to worry about any nosy husbands coming and poking around." She joked and then took one of The Doctor's hands into her own.
His decision to finally break his silence had everything to do with Amy and nothing to do with what he actually needed. In fact, The Doctor dreaded the idea of reliving the events right after Rose left. Yet, with his departure from Amy's life looming, he thought revealing his secret to her would hopefully give the girl some closure. "Where shall I start? I suppose I should explain why I left you alone in your room right after our return."
"Not even a word about where you were going or when you'd be back." Amy reminded him, a slight scowl taking over her features.
The Doctor grimaced, "Well, don't you think you deserved some sort of punishment for stealing my sonic screwdriver and passing it along to Rose? Besides, I was giving us both some time. You needed time alone with Rory and well, I needed time to process the new memories Rose had given me."
Amy shook her head "But nothing changed … at least that's how I saw it. If Rose had changed the past and by extension our future then why would we have gone back in time to see her in the first place?"
"Nothing changed for us." The Doctor explained, "Me and you … all the same, but inside my head I had all sorts of new memories pressing up against old ones. You see as a Time Lord it is possible for me to have many different timelines going through my head at once. It's a curse, among many curses, that traveling through time brings. The new memories were very life changing for me and me alone. I had to remove myself from anything and everyone just to process them."
"What'd you mean? What kind of memories?" Amy's unique insight into The Doctor let her see the pain he was trying to hide and she squeezed his hand, "You can tell me."
A heavy sigh left his mouth as Amy sent him a look that resembled pity. The Doctor didn't want her sympathy and his pride told him that as a Time Lord he should be above it. Although, deep down he knew this wasn't true. There were many times in his new memories with Rose that she had taken him aside to comfort him when recollections of the Time War became too much. She had used words of love along with other aspects that came along with having a romantic relationship.
"I'm sorry. Is it too much?" Amy asked after a few minutes of his reflection had transpired.
"No, I'm fine." The Doctor stated, brushing her concern aside, "It's just … your worry for me is very similar to Rose's, but that's beside the point. The memories yes, new memories … moving forward. Well, funny thing is Rose never actually told me anything about how I had come to visit her with you, revealed I loved her, kissed her along with some other things that you don't know about and well, that's not important."
The Doctor was talking in the fast pace he was known to use from time to time. Usually the rate of his speech could be tied to his emotions, the more stirred he was the faster he talked. This time was different though. It was his need to run right past this part of the story that compelled him to speak in haste, but Amy placed her index finger and thumb over his lips, squishing them together and silencing her friend. "Slow down." She said, "I can barely make out what you're saying. Although, I did hear you mention a kiss between you and Rose that I wasn't aware of. Somehow you failed to reveal this very important detail to your best friend?"
"Can I talk now?" The Doctor squeaked out through pursed lips.
Amy's brows rose in mock disapproval, but none the less she relinquished his mouth and The Doctor continued with his story, making sure to talk at a much slower rate for Amy's sake, "The important part, the part that altered history was what Rose did tell me. She said she loved me. Right away, blurted it out and bloody hell, do you know what I did? I said it right back … stupid lovesick fool … and that was something we'd never discussed in our other timeline. That admission of love began a new timeline and while it didn't change anything big for anyone else it did give us a chance at something we both wanted, but never had the courage to speak about before."
Amy clapped her hands, "Then this is good news! Why wouldn't you want to tell me before? Yes, you changed the past, but it only changed things for the better."
"Ah, yes, but things aren't quite so simple." The Doctor said with a sigh, bringing pause to Amy's celebration, "Experiencing love, knowing it instead of just wondering about it, creates a bigger hole in my life now that she's gone and I had to experience that all at once. The sensation … a new and larger feeling of loss … losing not only my companion, but my lover as well, it was very painful and still is. Even after 3 months, I'm not able to speak of it without experiencing that sorrow all over again."
He wasn't aware that a tear had formed in one of his eyes, until Amy brought her thumb up to wipe it away. Then she pulled him into an embrace, stroking his back as he let a few more tears fall on her shoulder. "But, isn't this still for the better, Doctor?" She said softly, "Your loss is greater, but now at least you have that feeling of closure. You no longer have to wonder what it would have been like if you had only told Rose you loved her, because you did and maybe as silly as it sounds perhaps it was the Universe putting things right."
The Doctor didn't reply, but it was something he'd thought of as well. Still, there really wasn't any point in dwelling too much over the idea. Like Amy said, there was closure now. No longer did he ache to be with Rose, because he had been with her. She would always occupy his heart as one of his great loves, but their story was now complete and it did bring him some comfort.
"Thank you for telling me that." Amy said, squeezing him extra hard, before pulling away.
The Doctor sniffled his last trace of sadness away and smiled at Amy, "No, thank you for being a shoulder for this oaf to cry on."
"Well, you big oaf, I'm just going to step inside for a bit. I really what would the neighbors say if I forget to collect my husband, before we head off again in the TARDIS?" Amy said reaching for the door handle that would lead her back inside.
"Beg pardon." The Doctor asked, slightly confused at her words, "Are you intending to still travel with me and Rory's okay with this?"
Amy winked and then rushed back inside.
The Doctor chuckled to himself as he watched her go.
A married couple inside the TARDIS? Well, it wouldn't be the first.
He thought back to his impromptu wedding with Rose on a trip they'd had to Vegas, Nevada. It was hardly legal on this planet or any other, but they both pretended it was and often called each other Husband and Wife afterward just for fun. It was one of many new memories he'd shared with Rose that would stay close to his heart for the next thousand years of his life. Despite how much more painful she had made his loss of her, The Doctor would forever be thankful to Rose for that one time she did not listen to him and consequently gave him the life he'd always wanted.
Author's Note: Thanks for all those who have continued to read this story and sent me encouraging reviews over the months I spent writing this. I hope the ending is what you hoped it would be. Also thanks to Amanda (discreetmaths) for her help these last few chapters.