Author's Note: OK, all right, I confess: I'm a fan of Billie's old pop songs, and have several on my MP3 player. Whenever her Walk of Life comes up, I'm always struck by how perfect it is for Rose and the half-human Doctor, however you envision their new life together. So here it is...
Walk of Life
A few mornings after their arrival back in Beta (formerly Pete's World), Rose slowly awoke to find herself alone in their bed. Raising her head to sniff the air appreciatively, though, she smiled: the mouthwatering aromas of coffee and bacon were wafting through the flat from the kitchen. He's definitely hired.
The smile turned puzzled, though, as the sounds accompanying those aromas sank in: not just the sizzle and burble, but a low-pitched, back-beat "dee-dee-duh, do-whoop, ba-ba-badaba doo-doo", with a couple of light metallic ratatats thrown in for good measure. She slipped out from under the comforter and padded to the corner to peek around.
Jared was in the kitchen, all right, with her checked apron over his jeans and t-shirt, be-bopping around the stove in between turning the last few strips of bacon. She watched, grin growing like to split her face, as he lifted the final piece to drain on a paper towel and flick off the stove before spinning around on one heel with a final flourish.
He caught sight of her mid-spin and stopped, plucking an ear bud out of one ear and pouting. "What are you grinning at?" It wasn't till that moment that she saw the MP3 player hooked on his belt.
"Punk!" she laughed, tossing the old accusation at him again.
"Oi!" He shot back. "Don't look at me, this is YOUR music!" He waggled the MP3 player – hers, of course.
Laughing again, she stepped over to take the player and see what he'd chosen: some tune she only half remembered. Stopping the playback, she started scrolling, looking for something in particular, then grinned a challenge at him when she found it. "Remember this?" she asked, pressing Play.
Jared cocked his head while the guitar ran through the intro, then a soft smile came over his face when the girl singer started her low, smoky, plaintive song. "I'm dreaming of the life I once led * Just trying to find my way back to you * I've got to keep on searching * Running down paths we once knew * Where are you?" It was the song she'd sung to the German officers on board the Leipzig, claiming that it had 'meant a lot to her'.
As the singer reached the question, he leaned over and planted a tender kiss on Rose's lips. "I'm right here," he whispered against them.
A misty, questioning look appeared deep in her eyes, and he knew the reason. It would take time to prove himself. She bit her lower lip, dropping her eyes back down to the player, and stopped it again, quickly finding yet another song in the list.
"This one meant a lot to me, too," she began, then, quickly, "I'm taking Tock for a walk. Back in a few." She grabbed a hoodie to go over the t-shirt and sweatpants she'd been sleeping in, slipped into a pair of sandals, and whistled the dog out the door on her heels before he could blink.
Well! Obviously this one meant a LOT to her! Glancing over to make sure he'd turned the stove off, he walked over to settle on the couch before pressing play, so he could give the song his full attention.
Let me care for someone else
I don't want to talk about myself
I need to shed the light on you
To understand the things you do
Could we share a little time
Break the bread and sip the wine
Now's no time to hesitate
Save me from the heavy weight
Are you gonna walk the walk of life with me
Are you gonna see more than you dreamed you'd see
Are you gonna walk hand in hand with me
Can you be the one who sets my shadow free
Are you gonna try and understand with me
Are you going to be the best that you can be
Are you gonna walk the walk of life with me
When the song ended, he played it through again, and then again, then sat for a while, lost in thought. Then he snapped his fingers, sprang up from the couch, threw on his trainers, and ran out the door.
Rose took a bit longer than she'd planned to come back, winding through the streets of old St Ives with Tock (avoiding the beach below their windows; the tourist hordes had already begun claiming it for the day). She came back through the door half an hour later a bit hesitantly, not sure of her reception after that rather cowardly retreat. Even after all they'd been through in the Reich World, after all their promises to each other – both spoken and non, there was still so much uncertainty in their relationship. She knew a lot of it was down to Jared's struggle to find himself, to place himself firmly in his new half-human life, a different man from the Doctor, yet still so much the same. Still... had she just proposed to him, or what?
The flat was empty. The breeze from the open balcony door was the only movement through a space suddenly as hollow as a blown-out eggshell. She stood in the middle of the floor, unable to process it at first. What have I done? Have I chased him away for good? No, that can't be right, not after what he just said, just did. Then where the hell is he?
She sat down on the edge of the bed to wait for his return, bewildered. As the minutes ticked by, though, tears started seeping out, and all the uncertainty and pain she'd been holding at bay for the past several weeks threatened to break free and crash across her heart.
Tock, loyal as always, had lain down on the floor, resting his head on her foot while he watched his human's face. His ears cocked towards the balcony, listening to the vague sounds of humanity drifting up from the sands below. When a louder, familiar whistle sounded among them, he jerked his head up and bounded out the door, put his front paws on the railing to look out over the beach, and began barking happily.
Rose turned her head to look at the puppy, letting her exasperation distract her from the despair. When he didn't stop barking, but began looking over his shoulder at her as if to say, "come here and see!", she sighed, heaved herself up, and trudged out to the balcony.
And stopped dead at the railing, gaping. There was a crowd of tourists out there, all right, but they were all gathered below the balcony. And standing in front, a huge grin splitting his face as he gazed up at her, was Jared.
She shook her head at him, bewildered again. He returned a puzzled look, then realized she hadn't properly seen the situation, so he half-turned and swept a hand elaborately back at the crowd.
That time, when she focused on all those upturned faces (they were ALL smiling up at her), she gasped and gave a double-take, her hands flying up to her mouth. They weren't just standing there. The hundred-or-so swimsuit-clad humans were carefully arranged on the sand, spelling out a couple of words.
When her reaction showed she'd read the message this time, laughter rolled across the sand. She looked back at Jared again, and he spread his hands wide to ask the question.
She stood mute, still in shock.
So he dropped down on one knee, and spread his hands again, while the crowd started chanting, "Say yes! Say yes!"
Laughing, embarrassed, blushing like she hadn't done in years, she simply nodded, her hands still firmly covering her mouth to keep the cries inside - whether laughter or tears, she couldn't have said.
The crowd cheered, and Jared leapt to his feet and dashed for the corner of the house. It only took seconds for him to fly up the stairs and burst through the flat door, crossing to the balcony in three long strides to sweep her up in his arms and swing her around and around, kissing her soundly the whole time.
When he finally set her down, he turned to the still-cheering crowd and waved, yelling "Thank you!", and they at last began to disperse, returning to their blankets and coolers with happy smiles for the romantic story they would tell back home of the crazy guy who'd gathered them up with pleas to help him propose to his girlfriend.
Back on the balcony, Tock still frisking around their knees, Jared leaned his forehead happily against Rose's and whispered, "Yes."
She was puzzled again. "Isn't that my line?" she giggled, giddy with joy, but he shook his head.
"Yes, I'll walk the walk of life with you," he explained, quoting the song she'd left him with. Then he repeated, once again, "I'm here. I'm right here. And I always will be."