Rose looked up at the tall man in blue as he gripped her hand on the barren stretch of rocky beach. His serious expression, she knew, matched her own.
"I..." She began. Stopped, unable to express what she was feeling. Embarrassment? Hope? Despair? Love?
"I know." He said softly in reply. He looked down at their joined hands and wiggled his fingers slightly, loosening his grip and then lacing their fingers together and gripping tight. "S'okay?" He said, his voice a little rough.
"Yeah." Rose whispered, feeling the intimacy of that small shift in the way he held her hand woven with his long, clever fingers and recognizing what that small change meant.
"Let's go home." He said, somehow very in charge as usual.
"Yeah. Home." Rose murmured uncertainly but followed docilely, numbly in the his wake.
"Rose." He said, his voice still a little throaty. The way he said her name...she had desperately wanted to hear it again and the sound of it filled her heart. "Rose?" He said again, this time inquiring, and he stopped and turned to face her.
"D - Doctor?" She replied, lifting her eyes to meet his familiar, dark, and luminous gaze.
"Ehm. Where exactly is home?" He said, his lips quirking into a rueful smile. His smile, the full lower lip and the slight wrinkling around his eyes.
Rose felt her lips move to smile in return automatically. Couldn't help it. "It's London."
"London then." He said, his eyes sparkling at her. The long dark lashes dipped as he glanced down at her mouth. When his gaze met hers again, it was darker. Liquid with intent.
Rose drew in a breath. She waited, holding that breath, as he dipped his head and brushed his lips across hers. Once. Twice. Feather-light but purposeful. She shivered, tasting him. Sugar and sea-salt and endless, fathomless time. "It's you." She murmured into his mouth.
"It's me." The Doctor confirmed, his lips moving against hers as he spoke. "New new new Doctor."
She giggled slightly as he lightly kissed the corner of her lips.
"But this time I'm your Doctor. Only yours." He said gravely.
She drew back, meeting his gaze with worried eyes. "But he...he..."
"He does love you. He envies me." The Doctor said and, as he continued, his voice broke a little. "But he couldn't ever be only yours. Couldn't live, day after day, and give you what you needed from him...from me."
"I would've gone with you. I would've stayed with you forever."
"You would've given me everything I needed, but I couldn't give you the life you deserve. Couldn't make a home with you. Couldn't give you this." The new Doctor kissed her again and Rose responded in kind. A few frantic moments of giddy passion passed. When he pulled back, his breath was uneven and his pupils large. "I wanted to, but I couldn't. And I couldn't have done that to the woman that I...I..." The words were still difficult for him.
"I know." Rose said, and she really did know. "I just can't quite...he's still out there."
"And I'm him." The Doctor repeated what he'd said only minutes ago. "Remember when you and I first met? I said 'Run'. And when you and I met the second time, I told you I'd said 'Run'?"
"Even then, it took you a little while to know that it was still me." The Doctor smiled tenderly at her. "It's still me. It always will be now."
"Okay." She said, not as sure as she sounded, but willing to try for him.
He smiled down at her as if reading her mind. His free hand reached up and stroked her cheek. "I've always loved you, Rose, but I..." He laughed bitterly, ironically. "I never had the time."
Rose hiccuped a laugh that sounded like a sob. "Always?" She asked.
"When you took the time vortex, when you saved me on Satellite Five?" He said. She nodded. "I...I kissed you then."
"What?" She blinked. "You never told me."
"It was the last thing I did in that body. Kissed Rose Tyler. What a way to go." He grinned suddenly. "And I loved you for it. For saving me, for being the Bad Wolf, for-for-for just...you. And I died, and I was reborn. I was reborn lo-loving you."
Rose sighed and a little chuckle of happiness bubbled out. His sensitive fingertips were stroking her cheek and his eyes were somehow intense and gentle all at once. His face, his eyes, his touch more than she'd ever hoped to see and feel from him. He opened his mouth to continue but she hushed him with a soft sound.
"Doctor...I think I've loved you since the very first time we met." She admitted, her eyes shining up at him just in the way he'd always privately fantasized. "With your leather jacket and your ears at that thick Northern accent. You were so mad a-and dear...and then...when you got so handsome and, well, I not only loved you, I - I wanted you. I wanted you to want me like...like a man would. But you weren't a man, were you? You were a Time Lord."
The Doctor released a shaky breath. "Rose Tyler." He said, and he drew her forward to rest his forehead against hers. "I may only be part human now, but I promise you that you made a man out of me long ago." His fingers dropped from her cheek to delicately trace her collarbone and neck. "Let's go home."
"Yes." She said. And she sounded certain. She smiled up at him.
He grinned, suddenly wild, his eyes lighting with that same, manic glee. "We'll have our greatest adventure yet! Day after day!"
Rose's smile spread wider and brighter and, suddenly, they were off! Running down the beach united hand in hand, racing toward a new life full of wonder and love.