I can't even begin to say thank you enough to each and every one who has let me know they've enjoyed this, and by doing so given me so much encouragement along the way. The response this story has received has been humbling. Thank you!
With this complete it's time to start working on the sequel! Look for "Blessings and Curses" sometime in the near future. ;)
The Doctor walked aimlessly through Torchwood Tower, passing dead bodies and fragments of Cybermen as he made his way through the carnage. The war had been won, but the cost had been great. The Doctor couldn't even begin to come to terms with what he would do from here. How could he just simply carry on? Living on alone through pain and loss had become an all-too familiar part of his existence; but he had not felt this level of emptiness and despair since the Time War had taken everything from him. The vibrancy and joy he had begun to experience once again in his life was now gone. He felt as if his soul had been wrenched from his body. He was so tired. Tired of the struggle. Tired of losing everyone who ever mattered to him as he watched everything around him turn to dust.
So many people had died this day, and now Rose was missing. Her name would undoubtedly be added to the list of the dead. But the Doctor just couldn't think about that right now as he made his lonely journey back to the TARDIS. And what would he do once he reached it? He didn't know if he could bear the emptiness of being in his ship alone. Rose had brought such vitality, such life and joy. Now, just like his hearts, the TARDIS would be empty. But he had to return. There was one last thing he needed to do. He had to search for a way to reach Rose. Not that he could make it through to the other universe now that the breach was sealed – he knew that was impossible. Two universes would collapse if he even tried. But maybe there was still an opening, even just a tiny little gap so that he could get a message to her, calling across the Void through their link. This would be his last chance to say it, so he had to find a way to tell Rose that he loved her one last time.
The Doctor reached the TARDIS as his heavy steps slowed to a stop. He stood and just stared for a moment, his hands buried deep in his pockets and clenched tightly, unconsciously seeking to enfold Rose's hand around his, hands which were now empty. The last time he had been in the TARDIS Rose was at his side. He had swept her into his arms and carried her joyously through the door in what for him had been earlier this same day before he had taken her to see Jackie. Perhaps in time it would get easier, he thought to himself, to walk through those doors alone. Maybe in time the pain would lessen as he grew a little more dead inside. But not today. Not for a very long time.
With the heaviness of grief weighing down his every step, the Doctor walked up to the TARDIS, unlocked the door, and closed it shut behind him. He was making his way up the ramp when something caught his vision out of the corner of his eye. Rose's shirt lay tossed over the side railing. It was the same lavender top she had worn on their trip to New Earth when their adventures were just beginning again and so many possibilities lay before them. It was the same one she had worn earlier that day, and had been tossed aside in a moment of passion as he made love to her in this very room. That seemed like a lifetime ago now. It was still lying where it had fallen, yet another burning reminder of what he had lost.
The Doctor's steps led him towards it and he picked it up. With trembling hands, he lifted it to his face. He had not allowed himself to break down since Rose had been ripped away from him. There simply wasn't enough life left within him to do so. But as he held the fabric in his hands, Rose's lingering scent surrounding him, the tears began to flow freely and steadily. The silent tears turned into sobs as he clutched the fabric to his chest and wept for what he had lost.
She's gone. I lost her. The agonized thought repeated again and again in his mind.
The Doctor did not hear the footsteps approaching from down the corridor. For once in his very long life he was about to be given something back.
Rose had been waiting with barely contained desperation for the Doctor's return. It had been a dangerously close call making it to the TARDIS in the midst of the fighting.
'Stay behind me!' Jack had yelled, as Rose replayed the scene in her mind. 'I make a great human shield, trust me!' he had called back to them as he led the way to the TARDIS, massive gun blazing.
They had succeeded. After effectively completing his mission, Jack had left once again as mysteriously as he had come. Rose wondered how far ahead in the future he had come from and how much about their lives he already knew – how much he knew would now change. She didn't miss the pained look in his eyes when Jack spoke of the Doctor deserving to get his reward, and she wondered just how different the Doctor's life might have been if they hadn't been given this second chance. Where would their separate, lonely paths have taken them? Would the Doctor have allowed himself friendship? Would he have allowed himself to travel with someone else, and how would that, too, have eventually ended? Rose realized these were things she would probably never know, but that was okay. She could live with a little mystery in life if it meant she and the Doctor could be given this incredible gift.
After the fighting ceased and the breach had been sealed, Jackie and Pete had cautiously left the TARDIS to return together to Jackie's flat. They knew the Doctor and Rose would most certainly appreciate some time alone once the two were reunited. And they themselves were anxious for some 'alone time' as well.
Rose had realized her face was a mess from shedding so many tears earlier and she could definitely use a change of clothes. She didn't want the Doctor to see her in such a state, so she went to her room to clean up and make herself presentable for him. Rose had just finished when she heard the familiar sound of the door opening in the console room. It had to be the Doctor. She hurried as quickly as she could to get to him.
Rose came to a dead stop as she reached the console room. Her heart instantly shattered in her chest as she saw the Doctor in his state of grief. She knew exactly what he was feeling because she had experienced the same thing.
"Doctor?" Rose spoke softly, her voice slightly trembling.
Surely his tortured mind was deceiving him. That could not have been Rose's voice he heard. Yet it was accompanied by quiet footsteps which drew closer. The Doctor lifted his head and turned to see Rose standing on the other side of the console.
The Doctor had stood witness to extraordinary things in the universe, too numerous to name. But nothing in all of his exceedingly long life could have compared to this very moment in time. His reddened yet wide eyes locked with hers, his mouth formed her name but the single word came out as a whisper. Then, drawn to each other like an unstoppable, overpowering force, they ran towards each other and met halfway in a crushing embrace – as if their two bodies were trying to meld together and become one as they held on so tightly it was a marvel either one could breathe, each scrabbling to hold tighter even still.
"Oh, Rose," he whispered finally, his voice thick as he repeated her precious name. "Rose, Rose, Rose." His hands came up her back, across her shoulders, mapping every inch and finally tangling in her hair as he convinced himself this was real and not a cruel illusion.
"I'm here," Rose repeated back to him as she clutched at his back, fisting his jacket in her hands. Her voice was breaking yet her words were strong and true. "I'm here and I'm not leaving you. I swear."
He couldn't even ask how this was possible because he would have to separate from her long enough to do so, and right now that just wasn't even an option.
The Doctor buried his face in the side of her neck as hot tears moistened her skin. Each breath he drew was ragged as her hands caressed up and down his back, every stroke offering comfort and reassurance of the reality of her presence. Tears of anguish became tears of joy as they held each other for what seemed like an eternity. The tears finally subsided and gave way to passion as their lips met, reveling in the joy of their miraculous reunion.
The Doctor's mind couldn't even question how she was here. All that mattered in this moment was that she was here!
With Rose's face cradled in his hands and his mouth pressed to hers, his tongue pushed past her lips which parted in welcome. Tongues met, stroked, tasted, and savored each other as if this was their first kiss and they had an eternity to spend right in this moment. The words that were unable and too precious to be said were spoken in this shared language with every brush of lips and stroke of tongues.
Finally, Rose slowly withdrew, but only enough to look into his eyes. The eyes that had become her sanctuary. The eyes Rose had thought she would never again see. Yet she found herself looking at him from across a great chasm. What he was thinking, what he was feeling, was suddenly locked behind a wall. A wall they had both fought too hard to tear down to allow him to rebuild it now.
"Hey." Her voice was gentle yet firm as Rose drew his distant eyes to hers and held them. "Don't shut me out. Not now. Especially not now."
Wave upon wave of raw, painful emotion swept across his face as the Doctor let himself put a broken voice to what he was feeling inside. "I wanted to die." His words were strained, his voice losing steadiness. He didn't look away. He let her see the anguish within him.
So did I. The words echoed through Rose's mind and passed from her eyes to his.
"I wanted to let go of that lever and follow you into the Void." His eyes shone with gathering tears. "Because if I lost you, if I lost everything – again..." The Doctor shook his head and sucked in a breath. "Then what did it matter? What, in all the universe, even mattered anymore?"
Rose swallowed down hard and drew a steadying breath. "But you didn't. You held on." She paused. "I–" Rose let her eyes fall shut as she briefly hesitated. But this was not the time to hold back from him, so she continued. "When you were a little while in coming back to the TARDIS, I thought...I thought that maybe you weren't coming back. That maybe you had given up." A proud smile blossomed on Rose's face. "But you didn't. You came back. You kept your promise and you were moving on."
He was able to go on without her. Rose felt immensely proud of him, mingled with a little pain. Was it okay to feel just a little bit of both right now?
Now she knew one day he could.
Now she knew one day he would.
But not today. Today they were together, not apart; and right here, right now, that was all that mattered as he once again caught her lips in a desperate kiss.
Neither one was even sure how much time had passed, but finally, the Doctor's mouth separated from hers long enough to ask how this was even possible. Rose then explained the entire, extraordinary story.
"Do you realize," he said sternly, once Rose had finished giving him all of the details, "that you have broken numerous Laws of Time by doing what you did? It was extremely dangerous, and Captain Jack should have known better." The Doctor's voice then softened as an all-consuming smile spread from one side of his face to the other. "And do you realize that right now I couldn't possibly care less?"
He embraced her tightly once more, then Rose pulled back slightly to look into his face. "Speaking of breaking the rules..." Rose said with sternness in her voice that mimicked his earlier tone, "I thought we were in this together. I guess I'm just supposed to forget about the fact that you sent me away, yet again, and put it down to a moment of Temporary Time Lord Insanity, yeah?"
Rose's angry tone was not completely in jest. She wasn't surprised that he had done it; but that didn't mean she was okay with it, either.
The Doctor gave her his best, wide-eyed expression that pleaded apology. "Oh, absolutely," he said solemnly, as he ducked his head and captured her lips in a lingering, breathtaking kiss. He pulled back and looked into her half-lidded eyes. "I must have been completely...," he punctuated the low, husky words with a kiss to her jaw, "stark raving...," he ran his tongue along the shell of her ear, making her tremble, "mad." He finished the sentence with a trail of deliciously hot, wet kisses down her neck as Rose's head fell back and a moan escaped her lips.
The issue wasn't behind them, and Rose wasn't letting him off the hook quite that easily. But she decided the conversation could wait until much later. But just as his seeking lips reached the top swell of her breast through the temporary garment she was wearing, the Doctor suddenly pulled back as if he'd had a bucket of cold water thrown on him.
His eyes darted around the room, a look of alarm on his face. "Where are Jackie and Pete now?" the Doctor asked, suddenly remembering that Rose said they had returned as well, and was now feeling unsettled at the thought of Rose's mum on the loose somewhere in his ship.
"They went back to Mum's flat. I think they needed some time alone to get...re-acquainted." Rose said with a cough as she flushed a slight shade of red.
He quirked a teasing brow at her and tilted his head. "Are you...blushing?"
"Can't help it," she replied quickly, coyly avoiding his gaze.
The Doctor grinned devilishly. "Rose Tyler, after all the things I've been doing lately with you," he dropped his voice a tone lower as his fingers danced up her arms and came around to rest on her back, "and to you, and you still blush at the thought of..."
"Well maybe that's why," Rose cut him off with an embarrassed chuckle. "I have some very...vivid images in my head now, and that's not exactly the sort of thing you want to imagine your mum and, well, dad getting up to."
The Doctor slowly slid his hands down her back, to her bum, where he lingered for a few tantalizing seconds, then back up. "In that case, I think I need to do something to take your mind off what they might be doing," he husked into her ear, making her shiver.
Rose reached up to thread her fingers through his hair. "Just what did you have in mind?" she purred, her lips now millimeters from his.
"A trip!" he exclaimed brightly, as he then released her and bound over to the console at break-neck speed.
Rose held back a sigh of disappointment. This was her Doctor. He could be flirtatious and seductive one minute, then a hyper adolescent the next. His sudden shifts in mood were enough to sometimes leave her dizzy. His Time Lord barriers of arousal were probably up and his mind wasn't even headed in the same direction as hers, Rose thought with disappointment. The fact that he could control his arousal could be highly frustrating at times.
Rose smiled in spite of herself. She was off on another adventure with the Doctor, and she could never be disappointed in that. Especially considering how close they had come to losing all of this.
"So where are we going, then?" Rose asked with a genuine smile as she walked towards him at the console.
The Doctor looked up from the controls to meet her gaze, his deep brown eyes dazzling. "Further than we've ever gone before," he promised, with excitement edging his voice.
Rose grinned and stood eagerly awaiting their destination. Yet all was calm and quiet. The Time Rotor was not grinding furiously and there was no shudder and jolt that usually accompanied their landings. Rose furrowed her brow. "We're just...floating," she noted, puzzled.
"Good observation," he replied with a smirk which said he was up to something.
"But I thought you said you were taking me 'further than we've ever gone before'," she repeated his oh-so-impressive words.
"Oh, believe me, I am." The Doctor stepped away from the console and stalked towards her, slowly and deliberately, not stopping until they were mere inches apart. "But I wasn't talking about leaving the TARDIS. It occurs to me that there is a room on this ship which you have never seen before." The Doctor drifted the tips of his fingers down her arms until he met her hands, twined his fingers through hers, and gave a little tug, pulling her into his chest. "I think it's time I gave you a personal tour."
Rose's heart began to quicken in that certain way only he could cause it to. She was in no way going to argue with his suggestion. She slid her hands free from his, then up his chest. Higher still, where she fiddled with the knot in his tie, tugging it loose. Rose leaned up on her toes, bringing her face closer to his. "Your barriers are down, aren't they?" she spoke across his lips.
"Falling rather quickly, yes," he replied, sounding slightly breathless. Oh, how she loved that sound.
Rose rolled her hips into his and smiled wickedly as he let out a low, deep groan. She tossed his tie over her shoulder. "Let's see what we can do about getting them the rest of the way down, shall we?"
He didn't need to be told twice. Rose soon found herself within a sacred room deep in the TARDIS she once thought she would never have the privilege to see. The Doctor's bedroom was now hers as well, and it would be for a very long time.
True to his word, they didn't have to leave the ship for this particular destination the Doctor had in mind. Yet without even setting a foot outside the TARDIS, it wasn't long before Rose Tyler was seeing stars.