The TARDIS landed with the shaking thuds I had missed so much. I couldn't help the grin that spread across my face, thinking of the adventures I had tried to lock away for so long, and realizing that my life could return to "normal". I glanced at the Doctor, catching his eye and poking my tongue between my teeth, happier than I had been in years. The Doctor smiled back, but it didn't reach his eyes; his brow was furrowed and I could tell his mind was far away. Instantly thoughts flashed through my head faster than I could count, but my main concern had my knees weak with worry: what if the Doctor didn't want me back? I pushed the thought away and gripped the handle of the TARDIS harder, my knuckles turning white. The Doctor suddenly stood, a massive smile on his face and his eyes twinkling with delight, he beckoned towards the other Doctor, who was standing opposite the console.
"Doctor, could I borrow you for a moment, we need to discuss a few, er... plans for the immediate future. Rose, I'll be right back, don't wander off, I don't want to have to search for you again" He said with a wink. I sighed. I longed so much for just a minute alone with the Doctor.
The "New" Doctor stood and, well, flaunted into the TARDIS corridor following his twin. I couldn't help the tears that welled in my eyes when I watched them walk away, remembering the last time that man in brown said my name.
"Rose?" Mum reached for my hand, "are you alright?"
I looked up quickly, forcing myself to forget the horrid thoughts I shied away from automatically.
"Yeah, Mum, I really am."
The next quarter of an hour consisted of many official introductions, and of course innumerable innuendoes from Captain Jack, which had us all chuckling, however my mind never strayed far from the Doctor. What could be so important that had himself, two of himself in fact, hidden away in a hallway less than an hour after saving the world?
I sighed in relief when the Doctors returned. New Doctor was pulling on his blue jacket sleeve, with a look of delight on his face. "My" Doctor looked solemn however. He came to stand at my side, and my hand slid into his, just as it should be. As his brown eyes found mine, he whispered "quite right too". I couldn't help rolling my eyes, but at the same time I was flying inside. I still couldn't believe the dimension cannon worked.
"Go look outside" the Doctor said, inclining his head towards the TARDIS entrance. I all but skipped the door, grabbing the handle and pulling towards me. As I looked outside, my heart stopped. I couldn't breathe. Mum pushed ahead of me looking around at the beach in front of us. The New Doctor followed her, he gently brushed his hand against my cheek before stepping out onto the sand. My shock at seeing Bad Wolf Bay erased all other coherent thoughts from my mind. I took a deep breath and choked back tears. In a daze I walked forward bracing myself for what I knew would come. He didn't want me. My Doctor didn't want me. Just as well, I thought, I was just a companion, he had so many of those before me, I'm just disposable. He probably fell in love with that pretty black girl Martha and hasn't thought of me twice since then.
The conversation that followed billowed around me, but I barely heard anyone. Mum ranted on about Dad and the nursery, while the Doctor and Donna exited the TARDIS.
"Hold on" I interrupted "This is the parallel universe right?" I prayed for the Doctor to say no, to calm me by stating that we were simply in some sort of time jibberish. I needed to hear his voice, I needed his to talk in his space speak that I can barely understand. I was out of luck.
"You're back home" said the Doctor. No, I screamed in my head, I'm not home! My home in the TARDIS, the blue box that changed my life. The entirety of space and time is my home. Donna stopped my mental breakdown dead in it's tracks. "And the walls of the world are closing again. Now that the reality bomb never happened, it's dimensional retriclosure. See, I really get that stuff now." I stared in shock. It was still hard for me to believe that Donna had the Doctor's mind now. I felt my heart sink to my stomach when I realized the Doctor would rather travel with someone of his own ingenuity, instead of me, a girl with no A levels, who got herself stuck in a parallel universe. My hysteria rose up inside of me. I needed the Doctor to understand.
"No but, I spent all that time trying to find you, I'm not going back now." The Doctor took a few steps towards me, his eyes were hard, and I felt the water in my eyes threaten to fall.
"You've got to, 'cause we saved the universe, but at a cost, and the cost is him." The Doctor was looking behind me. I turned and stared at the man in the blue suit behind me in shock. What did he have to do with me? What confused me even more was how, even though one could have cut then tension in the air with a knife, the New Doctor was holding back a smile, and his eyes still twinkled. "He destroyed the Daleks, he committed genocide" the Doctor continued. "He's too dangerous to be left on his own."
"You made me!" the New Doctor retorted instantly.
"Exactly, you were born in battle, full of blood, and anger, and revenge"
The Doctor's eyes softened as his met mine, his voice lowered and he muttered, "remind you of someone? That's me, when we first met, and you made me better and you can do the same for him." What? So the Doctor wants me to pretend this new... clone... was him? I was supposed to go on with my life deluding myself? The stranger behind me was still holding back a smile, I was tempted to slap him.
"But he's not you" I begged.
"He needs you, that's very me" The Doctor's eyes met mine and for a moment, it was as if he still did love me, as if I was still a nineteen year old girl looking for adventure. Donna broke the momentary silence once again.
"But it's better than that though, don't you see what he's trying to give you? Tell her, go on."
I looked at the New Doctor, hoping he would clarify the jumble of thoughts in my head. He took a breath.
"I look like him, I think like him, same memories, same thoughts, same everything, except I've only got one heart" his eyes twinkled and it made me think of the moments when the Doctor was hiding a great surprise for me all those years ago. I didn't fully understand.
The New Doctor looked at me with a strange expression. "I'm part human, specifically the aging part. I'll grow old and never regenerate. I've only got one life, Rose Tyler, I could spend it with you if you want."
Momentarily I was filled with joy, I could imagine my life ahead of me with this man who claimed to be the Doctor. I could picture children running around with his hair, us growing old together.
"You'll grow old at the same time as me?" I asked hesitantly.
"Together" the New Doctor said with a small smile. However, I still felt as if I was missing something important. I reached forward, needed to see the proof for myself. I put my hand to his chest and felt the heartbeat I longed for. Although I was tempted to move my hand to the left and feel a second heartbeat, I stopped myself. This was not THE Doctor, but this could be MY Doctor.
The TARDIS sounded behind me.
"We've gotta go. This reality is sealing itself off, forever." The Doctor turned and walked away without another word. I ran after him.
"But, it's still not right, he's... the Doctor's... still you." The Doctor blinked.
"And I'm him." He was trying to leave, that much was certain, but I wouldn't let him off that easy.
"Alright" I said. "Both of you, answer me this. When I stood on this beach on the worst day of my life, what was the last thing you said to me? Go on, say it." I directed the question to the Doctor in the brown suit. The Doctor who said the words to me previously.
"I said Rose Tyler."
I swallowed. "Yeah and how was that sentence gonna end?" I needed him to say it. I needed to know he loved me, as I loved him.
"Does it need saying?"
I would find out one way or another. I turned.
"New Doctor? What was the end of that sentence." He placed his hand on my arm and leaned forward. His breath tickled my ear but I hardly noticed. As he spoke the words I had wanted to hear since the first time I travelled with him, I realized even if this man is different, I didn't care. He remembered. That's all that mattered. I grabbed his jacket and pulled his face to mine. Our lips crashed together and for the first time in my life, everything fell into place. He pulled me closer and I snaked my arms around his neck, never breaking the kiss. I could have sworn something was off however, I felt two heartbeats through the New Doctor's jacket. We were pressed to close together, however, it was just my heart beating in time with his. Neither could tell who's was who's.
The TARDIS door closing shocked me back into reality and I knew what was about to come. I heard the familiar engine start up and I walked forward, secretly hoping the Doctor would burst through the doors and ask me to travel with him once again. Maybe he would even repeat the words from our first meeting, "did I mention it travels in time?" But the blue box disappeared. The New Doctor grabbed my hand and I looked into his eyes again. Mum walked away behind us, silent, for the first time since I can remember. The tears that welled in my eyes started to spill over.
"Rose Tyler," the New Doctor said, brushing my tears away with his thumb. "You're the stuff of legends. Know why I asked you to be my companion?" He chuckled and I shook my head, dazed and confused. "It's because I knew you were special. You are the most amazing, intelligent human I know. Now since you're so intelligent I'm surprised you haven't figured it out yet." I looked up into the New Doctor's eyes. I knew something was off, and maybe now he would explain it to me.
"Rose, I'm the Doctor. Not the half human Doctor, the time lord (and more manly and handsome in my opinion) Doctor."
My heart stopped. No, this wasn't right, the Doctor just left with Donna in the TARDIS, and yet...
"You're joking, you are." My tears started to fall once more.
"No, no no no I'm not Rose. My Rose. Would I ever joke about this? Well, since we've never been in this particular situation before as far as I know, which really isn't that much when you look at the facts, so I understand if you don't respond to that, but the answer is no, I would never joke about something as important as this. Rose, you're the most important thing in my live, in all my lives." The Doctor threw up his arms in exasperation. "How did I know you wouldn't believe me? Here, let me explain: when we were in the TARDIS and I asked the other Doctor to step out with me? Remember?" He looked at me and it was clear he wouldn't continue until I responded, so I bobbed my head once. "Well, we both figured out that he has enough time lord in him to regenerate once, only once. He wont grow old either. But that's besides the point. The point is, that I asked him to switch clothes with me. That was the only possibly way to tell us apart unless you went into the biology of it all which really would be a massive waste of time in my opinion. So we switched suits, since Donna would never approve of me leaving well, her and all the other earthlings who need saving every other day. But that Doctor can handle that from here on. I want to stay with you Rose, I need to." The Doctor grabbed my hand and placed it on his cheek. "Forever. Which we do have now. While you were... er... away, I ran some genetic testing from one of your old shirts. When you looked into the Time Vortex, and became the Bad Wolf, you became, for lack of a better term, immortal. Rose, you and me can stay together forever."
I was shaking. My tears kept falling and I shook my head, unable to believe this lying man. Me? Immortal? I was on the verge of fainting, but the brown eyed Doctor I loved held me tightly.
"But, you said you only have one heart..." I began uncertainly. "I felt it, I felt one heartbeat-" I stopped midsentence. Because I had felt two heartbeats when we kissed.
The Doctor smiled.
"You never did felt for a second heartbeat Rose."
Slowly I raised my hand, to both the right and left side of his chest this time.