I don't own Doctor Who or any of that sort of thing.
Ebb and Flow
So that was it. He was gone. Everything. The TARDIS, the ebb and flow of a limitless universe, the man she loved.
She had invested so much energy into loving that man and trying, like her life depended on it, not to show it. But now he was gone.
Sweetie?" she heard her mother say behind her, who had apparently closed the distance between them during her silent wallowing. Rose turned around, her face twisted and contorted almost unrecognizably in tears and anguish.
"Mum," she choked. "Mum, he's gone. He isn't coming back."
"I know." Of course she knew. She could see the look on the Doctor's face as the hologram dissipated into the cold air. It was the face of a man who knew the end, who knew finality, who, even if every Time-teeming fiber of his being protested against it, knew what could be and what would never be, and decided it would be even worse to fight it.
"Come here, love," she whispered again, bundling Rose in her arms in an attempt to steady her as her body wracked with sobs. They looked physically painful, those sobs.
Behind them, Pete was digging in his pockets and extracted a small, shiny mobile phone.
"Jacks," he said softly, not wanting to interrupt the moment between his wife and his, for all intents and purposes, daughter.
"Rose, sweetie, we should go."
"What? No!" Rose gasped. "No, no, no!" Her face was puffy and red and tear-stained.
"You said it yourself," her mother said, "He just isn't coming back."
"But I want to wait! Just the night. Just to see. Maybe…"
"Rose, he isn't coming."
"Mum, please! Just—just the night! Then we can g-go home."
Jackie looked at her daughter with a tragic face and seemed to think for a moment. Rose looked like she had aged years in a span of an hour. This wasn't the nineteen-year-old shop girl with a beaming smile and pink cheeks. This was a woman who had lost everything and felt it in her very bones.
"Alright. There isn't a place to stay for miles, though. We'll have to sleep in the car. Backseat might be crowded with you and Mickey…just tonight, Rose. We're going back as soon as the sun comes up."
Rose nodded, almost tersely. She remained standing on the beach as her mother walked with Pete backed to the car that Mickey was leaning against.
The night seemed to come quickly, the sky turning from a stale, northern gray to creamy blue and finally into black. The stars weren't visible under the thick, omnipresent cloud cover.
She sat on the sand, all the tears she was capable of squeezed out of her eyes. Now she cried silently, dryly. With her fingers she drew designs in the sand, swirls and lines and circles. Without realizing, she had drawn something that looked similar to the TARDIS, which she quickly erased with a brush of her hand.
The car was cramped and cold and sleep did not come easily. Her body ached from crying and she desperately wanted a cup of tea. But sure enough, after many hours of restlessness, as if her mind and body had given up on the effort of thinking and staying awake, she fell into sleep.
The next morning she awoke abruptly to the sound of knocking on the car window. There was no movement within the car; apparently the rest of them were soundly asleep enough to ignore it.
It's probably a police officer, she thought, found us loitering on a beach. We'll have to go now. She still hadn't opened her eyes, the color under her eyelids told her it was probably still mostly dark out, barely dawn.
The rapping on the window continued just by her ear, right next to her. Funny, she thought, why aren't they knocking on Pete's window? He's in the driver's seat.
She wrenched open her eyes, unwilling to face the reality of the day. She would have to leave the beach and the prospect of seeing the Doctor—
Seeing the Doctor. She turned her head to see who it was standing by her window.
Seeing the Doctor.
A skinny man was looking eagerly in her window. His hair, a delicious chocolate brown, looked particularly disheveled. The man was wearing a worn-looking blue suit and a large brown jacket.
"Doctor?" she almost screamed. "What? Oh, damn. Lovely. Now I'm seeing things. This's great. Mum'll have a right fit." She had begun muttering to herself.
He knocked on the window again, Mickey stirred, but remained asleep.
"Doctor?" mouthed, not wanting to wake the others.
The man nodded.
Well, if she was going to start having delusions, she may as well do it properly. She flipped the lock on the door, quietly pulled the handle, and crept out of the car.
"You were wearing the brown suit last time I saw you," she said cheerfully. "You had a brown suit on in the hologram. You'd think I'd remember you like that."
He snickered slightly, partly amused, and partly quite serious.
"Rose. Rose, it's really me."
"No, it's 'snot. But it's nice to see you all the same. You look kind of tired, Doctor."
"I am." He paused for a long moment, looking into her eyes. "But Rose, it's me. I'm here. It's taken me so long. I thought I'd never find you. B-but, but, I did."
"Well of course! You can do anything, you can," she said with a cheeky, crooked smile. "You're the Doctor."
"Yes! Rose! It's me…oh. You still don't believe I'm really here, do you?"
"No, I don't." She smiled a tragic sort of smile. She could cry later, she thought.
Then he smiled. It was a real, genuine, but exhausted smiled.
"I suppose I'll have to prove it to you, then."
Before she could sputter, "Huh?" he had grabbed her to him and cupped her head in his hands—and he kissed her.
Wait, she thought, he's touching me. No, no, no. This is far too real. How…how is this happening? I can't—how? Her thoughts were jumbled and disconnected, each one tripping over the other. He's kissing me.
He was kissing her, and it felt amazing. Her lips responded as she pressed herself flush against him. His lips were wild, eager, desperate. His tongue pressed against her lips as she let it slip into her mouth. She'd either officially lost her marbles, or this was maybe, magically, impossibly real. It felt real.
She kissed him back, wanting to taste every bit of him. If she was dreaming, it was the best tasting dream she'd ever had. She wanted to touch him, to keep him here, right now, right in this moment of time. If he was real, then she wasn't going to let him get away. Not this time.
Before long, though, she had to take a breath. That was the longest and most intense kiss of her entire career.
"You're here," she breathed. "I'm not dreaming."
"And…and you're really actually here? This isn't some kind of, I don't know, solidified holographic projection or something?"
He chuckled at her attempt at the scientific. It was a smart question though, a good question, the kind Rose always asked.
"Nope! It's me! Here in the flesh!"
She grinned wildly, catching her tongue between her teeth. He loved it when she did that. He loved her when she did that. He loved—
"I love you," he stated matter-of-factly.
The TARDIS had a broken Chameleon Circuit, he was the last Time Lord, he was rubbish at landing, and he loved Rose Tyler. Real, simple truths.
In an instant she was pressed against him again, not kissing, simply holding. She sobbed quietly into his coat with his arms wrapped around her, one hand on her back and the other stroking her hair.
"I thought—I thought I'd never get to do this. I thought you'd left me."
"I did leave you. But I couldn't do it. I tried living normally, I even had a new companion, Martha. Sweet girl. Fell in love with me, she did."
Rose raised a teasing eyebrow at that.
"Wait, Doctor," she said. She loved being able to say his name again to his face. She had only been without him for a matter of weeks, but she felt older than the Face of Boe.
"Hmm," he responded, his voice humming against her chest.
"How long has it been for you since this morning?"
"Blimey, that was this morning? I don't think you can give me a hard time any more about landing in the wrong time. But I'm a genius, I am."
"How long?" she asked again.
"Five years. Or, wellll five Earth years. And time's faster here anyway. It depends on how you count, really. Time's faster in this universe, not that it's perfectly adequate, nothing against this universe, no sir. Perfectly excellent univ—"
"Five years. That, that seems like it would be hard." After she said it she realized she may have been presumptuous. Maybe it wasn't so hard for him, superior Time Lord senses and that sort of thing.
"It was." They began walking on the beach, leaving her family and Mickey in the car to sleep. "Rose," he continued, lacing his fingers between hers, "Rose, they were the hardest years of my life. When I met you, I'd just witnessed the end of my planet and my people. I was a broken man. But I had you. Even though there was so much pain, I can't rightly say that I was unhappy. And then I'd lost you. All the happiness I'd had, all of it, was gone when you were. My mind retreated into old, dark thoughts, but there was something new and more alarming. May darkest thoughts were not about Gallifrey or the Time War. They were about you. I need you, Rose Tyler. I love you."
"How did you get back?" she asked simply. Her look was warm and curious.
"I'm not sure exactly. Time, well, Time is sort of wibbly wobbly. Everything is in Time, and within a universe, you can pop in an out at your leisure—I mean, if you're a Time Lord. Or you. But between them, you can't. And the rift was sealed off so I couldn't get to you. And you can't just rip space between universes without destroying the Fabric of Time and killing everyone. Except the Fabric of Time really isn't your average textile. And then I realized, after quite a lot of thinking, and a lot of realizing about a whole range of topics, that I should just think of Time as fabric. I mean, there's a reason it's called the Fabric of Time, right?"
"What do you mean?"
"I mean, you can make things out of fabric. Like your t-shirt or your jumper. You can add things to fabric; it doesn't just need to be a spare scrap of…whatever you call a scrap of fabric."
"So what," she said with a smile, "you embroidered yourself back into my timeline? "
He looked at her with shock. Rose, brilliant Rose, smart, beautiful, amazing Rose.
"That's exactly what I did."
"Yes. Oh! I knew there was a reason I had you around! If you'd have been with me we'd have thought of it right away. Brilliant, you are."
She smiled again, showing her teeth.
"How do you just embroider yourself back here?"
"It took a long time to figure out how to do it. The TARDIS helped. I think she was just as determined to get me back to you as I was. But we got it eventually, just now, really. Kind of an accident. Woke up in the middle of the night with a configuration pattern in my head, decided to get up and punch it in, just to see. And it worked. Nearly spilled tea all over the console."
They'd walked quite a distance from the car. The sun was starting to come up in earnest, and they turned around to go back, but still walked slowly.
"How'd you know I'd still be here?"
"Didn't. Didn't know when or where exactly I'd end up. I was sort of aiming the dark. I did damn well, though. I was going to land here if I could, and then track you down manually. Maybe use the phone book. They have those in this universe? Or maybe the In-ter-net. Oh, the Internet, great invention. Human ingenuity at its finest."
Rose stopped walking.
"Doctor…you're not…you're not going to leave again, are you? Coz I don't think that I can do that again. If you're just here to say goodbye again…if you're just here to finish that sentence you started yesterday…I don't think I could take that."
She started crying anew, silent tears coursing down her cheeks.
"I'm not leaving. I spent five years looking for you. There was nothing I wanted more than to find you and tell you what I'd been trying to say before. I'm not going anywhere without you, Rose Tyler, by my side."
In the distance, they could see Jackie and Pete getting out of the car, shuffling around frantically. They'd noticed Rose was gone.
"Rose!" Jackie yelled.
"Mum, over here!" She grabbed the Doctor's hand tightly and walked quickly back to the car.
Jackie Tyler's eyes became large and her face red as a beet.
"What. The. Bloody. Hell. Are you doing here?"
To be continued...
Author's note: This is my first fanfiction ever! I'll try and write more very soon, but I have exams creeping up on me. :)