Only A Message
The Doctor released the controls as he left the TARDIS floating in the Time Vortex. His hands rubbed at his face as he became all too aware of where he was. This was his TARDIS, this should be his home but it didn't feel that way anymore; it should still be their home and he is constantly aware that she is gone when she should be right here where she belongs. She should be tugging at his arm with a grin on her face, laughing and joking with him and making him happy with just the sound of his name on her lips.
His hearts skipped a beat and he spun on his heels. He knew she couldn't be there, but in the moment he hoped for the impossible. He needed to see that beautiful smile of hers again, wrap her in his embrace and say the words he'd wanted to for so long. "Rose." There she was, sitting but a few steps away from him but she was only a hologram; no touch.
"This is Emergency Programme One." A smile tugged at her lips, without thinking he stepped forward and sat on the floor in front of her. "Well, not really; it's only a message." Her expression was sincere as she met his gaze. "If you're watching this then I'm gone, and if I'm gone then I'm either dead or lost." Tears were forming in her eyes as she spoke. "Whatever happened though, I want you to know it wasn't your fault. It just wasn't so don't you dare blame yourself because I wouldn't have missed this for the world. I love travelling with you, so thank you, Doctor." The tears began to overflow and she wiped her cheeks. "I promised myself I wouldn't cry." She blinked a few times in an attempt to stop herself crying. "Now look at me." She laughed a little.
"You look beautiful. Always." The words slipped out before he could stop them but still he wished his words could be a comfort to the crying Rose before him.
"But don't miss me too much, yeah?" She smiled, her cheeks still damp with tears. "Go on wild adventures, meet some fantastic people, save the Universe!" She grinned before her expression became more sincere. "But whatever you do, don't be alone. Just don't be alone, if not for yourself then for me." She hesitated for a moment, as if wondering what to say next. "I left you a surprise, a present if you like."
"Oh don't do that." He could hardly believe he was laughing, even when she'd gone she was still looking after him.
"And I bet you're fussing and telling me I shouldn't have or saying I'm being soppy but stop it. Instead of moping about like I know you will, wait till I'm done and then go and find it, if the TARDIS has done her job then it'll be on your bed right now. It's nothing much, just a box of some things to make you feel a bit less lonely." She bit back the tears again. "Oh why can't I stop crying?" She wiped her eyes again. "There are a few photos of us, ones you never knew I had. Some music, the stuff I know you secretly love, believe me you are rubbish at pretending you hate it." She was beaming at him now, her tongue peeking out between her teeth for a moment. "You never know there might be the odd track of me singing; you know what the TARDIS is like with constantly trying to torture you." She laughed then abruptly stopped. "But seriously, you say you love my voice and I thought…" She leant her head on her hand and looked away from him. "I guess now you can say I'm being soppy, but I just thought that maybe hearing it would make the TARDIS feel a bit less empty." She turned back to face him, her eyelashes fluttering for a moment before she held his gaze. She was looking right into his soul but he didn't mind at all because this was his Rose, her deep brown eyes and beautiful smile so real that he had a hard time believing this was only a hologram.
"Oh Rose Tyler, you know me so well." He grinned. She could always tell when he was lying, could read his expression and often seemed to know exactly what he was thinking. She had always known when he needed her comfort including knowing exactly how to soothe him.
"Shut up." Rose hastily added. "And wipe that goofy grin off your face." She was grinning too. "Because I'm not ruining any more of the surprise, you'll have to find out what's in there for yourself." She paused for a second. "I hope it helps though, if only a little." Her smile was unfaltering but now there was sadness in her eyes. "And I hope that it was a heroic end, that I was rescuing you or saving the world, because if it was just the flu that got me or I got hit by a car then I am so not impressed."
"You saved the Universe, Rose Tyler." There was so much adoration in his eyes as he smiled. She'd come back to him despite knowing the danger and been incredibly brave as she risked falling into the void to save them all.
"But the thing is." She momentarily bit her lip. "Even when I'm recording this I find it hard to believe I'm dead. I mean I trust you and I know you won't let me down or let me go and you wouldn't just let me die. I just know. I know that you would do anything to keep me alive, even if it meant losing me in the process. You'll always protect me when it counts." She paused. "And if I'm not dead then it means I'm lost somewhere, but if this message is playing then it's worse than usual. I must be gone for good otherwise right now you'd be out there getting me back. So here's my point; wherever I am, as long as there is breath in my body I will fight to get back to you." She bit back the tears. "I promise you that right this moment I am coming back to you."
"I'm sorry but it's impossible, Rose." His voice was quiet, the words sounding strangled.
"And don't you dare say it's impossible. When did that ever stop us before? We're usually the first to laugh in the face of impossible, so why not do it again? I swear I will get back to you Doctor, I will never stop trying because…" Her sentence stopped dead as she tilted her head upwards then looked back at him. Once again she was blinking in a failing attempt to stop herself crying. "Oh I really hope I got the chance to tell you because I love you, Doctor." She went silent for a moment before she began to smile. "I hope you know that and I hope you knew even before I told you, because you need to understand just how much I love you so you can believe that I'm coming back." She rubbed at her eyes then hurriedly looked over at the TARDIS door. Barely a second later she turned back and looked him in the eye. "I'll see you soon, my Doctor." She smiled in that beautiful, heart warming way which he'd always been fond of. "I love you."
He exhaled deeply, head tilting downwards as his eyes closed involuntarily. She was right, completely and undeniably right. He was every bit her Doctor, always her Doctor. He forced himself to open his eyes and look up at her. She was gone. "I love you, Rose Tyler." It was a whisper, barely audible but still clear, his voice becoming stronger as he repeated it in Gallifreyan.
He sat staring at the spot where she'd been for a moment, just a second more than he normally would have, then picked himself up and went in search of her present. He stopped in the doorway of his room when he saw the pink box on his bed; so very Rose and so contrasting with its surroundings but still fitting perfectly. He walked over and sat on the bed beside her present, the yellow writing on the lid catching his eye. It was Rose's handwriting. "Bad Wolf." He traced his fingers over the golden lettering and smiled. She would always be the Bad Wolf and this was a message to lead herself home.