Word Count: 3289
Disclaimer: Not mine, never will be.
I got used to living without you, endless phone calls and dreaming about you
Rose waits until everyone else in the house is asleep.
She lies in her bed with the lights off and her back to the door. She waits until she knows the maids have definitely left for the night, until her parent's chatter has faded, until there is not a sound left in the house. Then she slips out of bed and dresses in a plain pink tee and a pair of trousers. She shuts her bedroom door as softly as she possibly can and tip toes past her parents' room, past baby Tony's room. But she stops when she reaches the end of the hallway and, for a moment, she lingers in front of the last bedroom door. The Doctor's door. The Human Doctor's door.
Instinctively, she lifts her hand and her fingers brush against the handle. He wouldn't mind, Rose knows, if she were to wake him. He might even be glad, happy to join her in whatever adventure she was off to, no matter how little it may be or how late it was. He has always loved a good adventure; it's almost as if he could sense it from miles away. She half expects for him to somehow know and swing the door open, already dressed and with a bright grin. It's what the Doctor would do and he is the Doctor, after all.
Except he isn't. Not really.
She pulls her hand back and shakes her head, her mind suddenly made. Silently, she turns and tip toes down the stairs as quietly as possible. Rose slips out of the house and closes the door behind her with a soft click. Her eyes linger on the house for another moment before she lets out a frustrated sigh and turns, allowing her feet to lead her down the street and away.
Things with the Human Doctor are complicated to say the least. At first, it had been brilliant, because it was him: he looked exactly the same, he had all of the same memories, and he could even tell her those three little words she had been waiting to hear for so long. And he was human, absolutely and completely. He had one heart and he would age with her. Nothing could destroy her happiness.
Except it didn't take long for that to all come crashing down. Because, as it turned out, life with the Doctor outside of the TARDIS was quite a bit different from life with the Doctor inside the TARDIS. He was awfully full of himself, so easily bored, and had quite a few mood swings. And it wasn't as if Rose had been oblivious before, but it was different now. They are different now, she supposes. Because they aren't like some sort of magical fairy-tale anymore. They are a real, normal couple now.
And just that.
Normal. Rose Tyler and the Doctor.
Who would have ever thought?
Except he isn't the Doctor. Not really. Because as tiny as it is, he is different. He isn't the Doctor; he's a metacrisis: part Doctor, part Donna. He's a bit louder, sassier, and has this odd obsession with fashion magazines. And sometimes–most of the time, really–it amuses her; makes her laugh until her sides feel like they'll split. But sometimes–every now and then–it breaks her heart and she remembers that he isn't him.
But then, sometimes, he turns and smiles at her and her heart skips a beat. He looks at her in this way that's so kind, so proud, so loving that she wants nothing more than to be with him. How can she not, when he loves her so obviously?
Still though, she cannot do it. She cannot bring herself to completely open herself up to him, because every time she looks at him, she remembers him. The real him. The real Doctor. Her Doctor. And every smile, every look, every feeling is almost like a betrayal and how could Rose ever do that after all he's done for her?
So she talks about slowing it down, about trying to do things properly this time and not rushing into things. And she means it too, because it is true. They've got their entire lives this time around. But, at the same time, it feels as if she's waiting. Exactly what she's waiting for, Rose hasn't a clue, but all she knows is that she has this undeniable feeling in the pit of her stomach that there's something she should be waiting for. So she does it. She waits. And it's driving her absolutely mad.
And on that particular night, when she's walking about and waiting, it happens. It starts with a little gust of wind, except it isn't the regular sort of wind. The gust blows as if it is blowing away from one particular spot, maybe a quarter of a block away from her. Then she hears is, that odd wheezing sound and she finally sees it: the big blue police box fading into her world. And suddenly Rose knows exactly what she's been waiting for this whole time and her feet take to running before she can spare a passing thought.
It all comes crashing down when the TARDIS doors swing open and out jumps a girl: young, leggy, and dressed in a mini-skirt with a bright red scarf wrapped around her neck. She's ginger and gorgeous and it stops Rose in her tracks immediately; her heart stop for a beat. Because he couldn't, he wouldn't. He'd said…she'd thought…
The girl doesn't glance in Rose's direction, doesn't even look around her; she simply walks away from the TARDIS down the sidewalk. But before Rose can move to chase after her, a man jumps out of the blue box.
"Five minutes, Doctor," the girl–Amy–calls back, not even bothering to turn back around. "Just sit still for five minutes."
He's different, Rose realises. He has regenerated again. This time he's physically younger–he doesn't look much older than her–but there's something still so very old about him. His suit, his long coat, his trainers, they're all gone. A bowtie, tweed jacket, and a pair of boots have taken their place. He's so strange, so different from the man she knew. But it's still him, she's sure, it's still the Doctor.
Only it can't be him. All of the rifts have sealed off, the Torchwood projects have shut down. She's in this universe and he's supposed to be in his, so there's no way he can be here. It can't be possible. He would have come back sooner if he could have. He wouldn't have abandoned her here otherwise. It has to be a trick. A dream. Some sort of cruel hallucination.
He shakes his head and takes a step in the direction the girl walked off in. "A–"
Hallucination or not, Rose isn't letting him get away that easily and she speaks without stopping to think about it. "Doctor?"
Her voice isn't very loud–she's still shocked, after all–and there's maybe fifteen or twenty feet in between them, but she knows he hears her because he freezes mid-step. He spins around so quickly she thinks he might trip and fall over, but he maintains some absurd balance. His eyes widen and he looks as shocked to see her as she is to see him.
The next thing she knows, she's running until there's no distance left in between them. She wraps her arms around him, but she realises something is wrong when he doesn't move, doesn't hug her back. Instead she feels him put his hands on her shoulders and pull her away from him. He stares down at her with such a serious expression that it almost breaks her heart, because she's just realised this man is different. So different from her Doctor.
"Rose," he says slowly, "tell me you didn't. Please tell me you didn't do it again."
"Do wh–" she freezes mid-sentence because she suddenly understands that he doesn't know where he is. "No, I didn't. You did."
He takes a step or two back. "But that's not possible. All the rifts closed. But obviously it is possible. But how? There would have to be some sort of rip or hole or…" His eyes widen suddenly. "Or a crack. Oh, I am stupid! Stupid, stupid Doctor." He smacks himself on the forehead. "But wait, if we came through a crack that means…Oh, this is not good. Worse than not good. It's opposite of good. It's extremely not good!"
"Doctor!" Rose snaps, not understanding what he means. "What are you talking about? How are you here?"
He spins and stares at her with a slightly surprised look, as if he had already forgotten she was there. This time is does break her heart, because her Doctor never forgot. He always remembered her, always thought of her first. He opens his mouth but stops when Rose takes a step forward, closing some of the distance he put in between them, and brushes her hand against the hair hanging in his face.
"You regenerated again," she mumbles. "I hate it when you do that."
The Doctor frowns. "I'm a Time Lord, Rose. I told you: I don't age, I don't die; I just regenerate."
"I know, I just…" she trails off. She doesn't finish, doesn't think she can.
She never wanted him to regenerate–she hates it when he does that–because, well, because of this. He's the same man, with the same memories, but he's different. He doesn't look at her the same, doesn't have that light in his eyes, doesn't smile at her in that way. This Doctor, she realises, is what she's always feared about his regeneration process. This is the reason why she's never wanted him to do it. But he did.
"How…how are you here?" she asks instead, attempting to steady her voice and blink back the tears in her eyes.
He stares at her and for a moment, she thinks he knows what she's thinking. But he doesn't say anything, doesn't apologize, doesn't offer any explanation for his new body. "Cracks," he explains at last. "There are cracks in the universe and I think we must have slipped through one by mistake."
"We?" she says, suddenly remembering the leggy ginger. "You mean that girl? Amy?" She doesn't wait for his answer. "She's pretty. Very pretty."
His eyes widen a bit. "What? Amy? No, no, no. Not really," he pauses for a moment. "Well, maybe a little bit."
Rose frowns at the Doctor's flushed face, because he suddenly resembles a schoolboy who has just been asked about girls from the first time. He's older, she knows, but still younger in a way. There's something a bit more awkward about this Doctor, a bit more curious, more…alien. It's as if he doesn't know how to handle his emotions. But still, she knows when she's been replaced.
Her heart shatters into a million pieces and it suddenly feels as if the entire universe has fallen out beneath her. She doesn't fight her tears.
"Rose…" he mumbles reaching forward, his fingers almost brushing against her cheek. Her breath hitches and her heart pounds in her chest, anticipating the touch. But he stops at the last moment, as if he's unsure, before he finally pulls back and digs a hanky out of his pocket instead. "Here," he offers.
"No, I'm okay," she lies, ignoring the crack in her voice as she wipes her face with her hands. She takes a deep breath and attempts to calm herself.
He stares at her for a moment as if he's studying her. A frown tugs on his lips. "Rose, when in your timeline is this? When was the last time you saw me?"
For a moment, she considers lying and telling him she hasn't seen him since he closed the rifts between the universes for the first time. She considers letting him think he hasn't given her a consolation prize and that she needs him. Because maybe, just maybe, if he feels guilty enough he will invite her back. She can go back to the TARDIS, travel with him, see all of time and space. And then maybe, just maybe, he will remember what his past-self saw. And she can have her happily ever after. Her fairy tale life with the Doctor.
But then she remembers the human Doctor–the one sleeping in his bedroom right now, the one who looks at her with that certain look–and she can't.
"After the Daleks and the metacrisis Doctor," she admits.
He frowns, a slightly confused expression taking over his face. "I don't understand. I thought–"
"Because he isn't you!" Rose cries. "He looks the same, sounds the same, usually he acts the same, but he isn't you. He isn't the Doctor. Not really."
The Doctor doesn't answer her at first, but stares at her for a moment and suddenly he looks so very old. She can see all of the love and pain and regret flashing in his old eyes. And even though this version is younger, stranger, more alien, he's still the Doctor and he still has all of the wisdom behind all his years.
"But," he answers slowly, "I'm not him."
Her eyes widen and it takes a moment for the words to sink in. And even when she thinks they have, she still can't believe it.
"Oi, Doc-tor!" a voice calls behind him. "Told ya I'd be back in five minutes."
He stares at her for a moment, before he turns. When he does, Rose can see the ginger girl– Amy–standing there, a pharmacy bag in her hand. It doesn't take her anytime to notice Rose and when she does, she says something Rose doesn't quite catch, walks right past the Doctor and holds out her hand. Her nails are painted TARDIS blue.
"I'm Amy," she says, a Scottish twinge in her voice. She smiles at her with such a bright cheerful look that Rose thinks it must be the same as the one she had been she travelled with the Doctor.
"I'm Rose," she answers, shaking Amy's hand.
Amy stares at her for a moment, suddenly looking contemplative. "Rose…" she mumbles, "I've seen you before."
"You have?" Rose glances at the Doctor, but he looks as confused as she does.
Her eyes light up suddenly and she spins to face the Doctor. "She's one of them, yeah? One of the ones you used to travel with before." Amy turns back to Rose, her eyes the brightest she's seen them. "So you knew the Doctor before, yeah? What was he like?" There's nothing possessive–nothing jealous–in her eyes or her voice. She seems genuinely curious about Rose.
She frowns a bit. "Well, yeah. But different how?"
"Amy," the Doctor says before Rose has the chance to answer. "I think you should get Rory that medicine now."
She turns to the Doctor and they stare at each other for a moment–as if they are having some sort of silent conversation–before she twists and looks at Rose. She turns back to the Doctor with a slight frown on her lips. "Alright, but," Amy points a finger at the Doctor, "I'll be back," she promises before she slips past the Doctor and into the TARDIS.
"She's quite lively," Rose comments. The Doctor doesn't say anything but a smile tugs at his lips and he stares at the TARDIS door for a moment, as if he's forgotten Rose again. "Are the two of you…you know, together?"
He turns back to Rose and shakes his head. "She has someone already," he explains. "Rory. He's travelling with us, too. Good bloke. He has a rather large nose though. And he's stubborn. He's sick and wouldn't take any of the medicine on the TARDIS. Insisted on Earth medicine." He shakes his head. "Humans."
She only half listens to what he says. "He's travelling with you too?" she asks, remembering her time on the TARDIS with Mickey. "So what? That never stopped you before."
The Doctor stares at her with an odd look on his face. "That was before."
He phrases it in a way that gives Rose the chance to take what she wants out of it. Because before could have been different because of her. Because Rose was different, special. Because Rose was the only girl he ever had–ever would–look at like that. But looking at this Doctor, seeing the way he looks at her, the way he looks at Amy, she knows that that's not true. Because this Doctor isn't willing to fight for Amy, for Rose. He's different, Rose finally realises. He was always meant to go at some point. The Human Doctor in this universe may not be him, but neither is this man.
"And you're not that man anymore." He's not the man she fell in love with.
He grins slowly; it's a bit sympathetic, but a bit of pride shines through as well. "No," he agrees, "I'm not."
This time when she hugs him, the Doctor hugs her back. It's a bit strange, because his bowtie tickles her and the tweed on his jacket scratches against her arms. It isn't bad, just different. When he lets go, he looks down at her and smiles at her, bright and full, but it doesn't make her heart skip a beat, it doesn't stir anything in the pits of her. It's as if any other friend were smiling at her.
"Goodbye Doctor," she smiles.
"Goodbye, Rose Tyler."
He slips back into the TARDIS without another word. It only takes a moment for the familiar wheezing, for the gust of wind, to start again and within seconds the TARDIS is gone. This time for good. Rose knows she won't ever see it or him again. It hurts a bit still, but not nearly as much as before. And, in time, she thinks that maybe the hurt will stop all together.
The sun's just begun to rise by the time she reaches home. When she slips through the front door, she's met with the smell of toast and tea. She peers into the kitchen to find the Human Doctor wearing a pair of spectacles and reading the paper, an empty plate and a half cup of tea in front of him. A smile tugs on her lips as she walks in.
"Good morning," she says pouring herself a cuppa.
He looks up from his paper, a bit surprised. "Rose? You're up early."
"Mm, I couldn't sleep," she explains taking a sip of her tea, "so I took a walk." She takes a seat beside him.
He frowns and puts the paper down. "Are you alright?" He stares at her with such genuine concern that she can't help but smile even more.
"Yeah. Yeah, I think I am," she says putting her cup down. He stares at her for a moment, as if he's wondering if she really is, and she laughs a bit. "Really, I am," she promises, reaching across and brushing a bit of his hair out of his face. The Human Doctor stares at her for a moment, before he nods. She smiles and takes her hand back and has a sip of her tea.
When she looks back at him, he smiles at her.
And Rose's heart skips a beat.
Always said that you were my man to be, but I guess I was in love with your memory…maybe we'll be together again sometime in another life – In Another Life, The Veronicas
Note: I'm not the biggest Rose fan, but I always felt that Journey's End didn't give her enough justice. I don't think Rose would be as willing to jump into a relationship with 10.5 as most people think, but I don't think she and Eleven would have ever worked out. Sooo, this was my way of fixing it. And let me tell you, it was not easy. Rose was SO hard for me. This is also the first fic I've written where Amy is not a center figure. I hope I managed alright.
Beta-ed by and written for the wonderful Muffintine. I promised her a Ten/Rose fic and I think this is as close as I will ever get to one.