A/N: Thank you so much to everyone who has supported this story. It's my first Who fic, and I really enjoyed writing it. I have started a new story, and hopefully it will be posted soon.
Thank you to my lovely beta Latessitrice for her help and support all the way through.
I hope you enjoy the last chapter.
She was almost expecting it to rain. That was how romantic reunions worked, wasn't it? Either that or the clichéd running towards each other, arms outstretched, perhaps in a field of flowers. Rose would even have taken heavy traffic, abandoning her car and running the rest of the way. She thought that it would have fitted the extraordinary twists her life had taken, even the memories she'd discovered. Memories like falling in love with the human clone of a man she could never have, living in a parallel world where her father was not only alive and well, but a millionaire. And of course, aliens. She could have at least had a romcom moment if there were going to be aliens in the picture.
Yet the weather continued to be mild, the traffic was steady and there was no one running towards her with their arms open. She would have been disappointed if she wasn't completely aware that this train of thought was purely a distraction from the fear of what she might find at home. She'd been right when she had been suspicious of the Doctor's belief that her memory loss had something to do with him. It was an unfortunate coincidence, a horrible, disastrous effect that she'd never have wished upon her worst enemy.
She could remember what she'd tried to forget now. Not as vividly as she once had, and her mind seemed to try and shy away from it. It was stupid of her to take the serum, but she could almost understand why. She had no idea what her emotional state was that night, and she knew she had a history of reacting before she thought too carefully about the situation. Sometimes that worked in her favour- running off with a strange man in blue box for an adventure was one of the best decisions she'd ever made. It was impulsive though, and probably not the safest decision. considering he'd blown up a building, and only given her the name 'Doctor.' It was that same streak she imagined that had lead her to taking the serum.
Rose pulled up to the house, taking extra care in her parking to give herself a few minutes. She took a moment to steady her nerves, then stepped out of the car, determined and ready. The flat was only half lit, telling her that the Doctor had probably shut himself in his room while keeping the rest of the rooms dark. She elected not to turn the light on until she got to the kitchen and stubbed her toe painfully on an unidentified object. It turned out to be half a frying pan. She didn't want to know where the other half was.
She walked out of the kitchen and into the gloom of the hallway, pausing outside of the intimidating closed door, the light filtering out rebelliously from beneath it. Rose swallowed, and giving herself a mental push forward, knocked on the door.
She heard something drop, and a muffled curse that made her smile. There was so much piled high in his room that it was a miracle he hadn't been buried in it by now. There was a jangle of metal and a flurry of papers before she heard his voice call.
"Can I come in?" she asked, too keyed up to mess with pleasantries. Her question was met with silence, and she could feel the awkwardness descend even through the door.
"I'm busy at the moment. Can it wait?"
She could feel him deliberate, almost moving from foot to foot as he thought about his options. Rose rested her head against the door, as close as she could get to him without his permission. She had a block in her memories, a vacuum in her past, and a door between herself and the Doctor. Of all these, the last should be the easiest to overcome, but right now it appeared to be the most difficult of all. She could feel the blood pounding her ears as her nerves skyrocketed, and once the door opened she stumbled, and almost fell into the Doctor.
She righted herself, and he looked startled and slightly wary, which she guessed she deserved after her stunning entrance.
"I need to talk to you."
His expression changed from wary to worried at her words. "What's happened?"
Rose hesitated, not really sure how to begin. "Can I come in?" she asked, which probably wasn't the best way to allay his concern, but standing awkwardly in the doorway was making her jumpy. He nodded slowly, still understandably wary of the entire situation. He moved, and Rose was granted access to the room, making her feel a little better, but still unsure of how to proceed.
The Doctor seemed to notice how agitated she was, and his expression softened. He gestured towards the bed, and after moving several heavy books, some metallic objects and a packet of crisps she sat down. He seemed to have gathered that whatever she wanted to talk about didn't mean the imminent end of the world, but she knew she had to stop drawing this out, and just speak.
"I remember," she said, the two words coming out so easily, which she didn't think was fair considering how they seemed to carry everything with them.
The Doctor stilled, and Rose was shocked that he was able to be so motionless. It didn't suit him. "Remember what?"
"Everything. No, not everything, far from it actually. Just...everything that seems to matter right now."
Nothing was coming out exactly as she planned, and before she could say anything further, The Doctor started talking again.
"And what exactly matters to you at the moment Rose? Because I don't think I've ever understood your priorities. I'm glad you've remembered, I really am. I'm just not sure I really want to hear what comes next." He was pacing now, back and forward, back and forward, and although she liked this better than his standing still, Rose was starting to get annoyed.
"You really do believe the world revolves around you. Even said it the first time I..." Rose cut herself off, swallowing loudly and ignoring his reaction. She inhaled once, and turned to him. "Did it ever occur to you that this may have absolutely nothing to do with you?"
He frowned as Rose continued you to speak. "It's quite telling actually that you automatically assumed I took the serum to forget you. Just you in fact, even though I'd lost all of my memories since I was nineteen. Do you think I just pretended our entire relationship? The months of working things out, trying to build a life together with you. Did you think I was just biding my time until Torchwood came up with the technology to give me an escape route?"
He seemed to be paralysed at her words, every muscle, every antsy twitch he usually displayed frozen over. Rose suddenly felt exceptionally guilty, and stood. She walked over to where he leaned against the desk. She took his head between her hands, trying to breathe life into him again.
"This isn't your fault. It's mine. You were right when you said I wouldn't speak to you. After that mission.." Her hand started to shake in his, and he snapped out of his stupor, gripping her hand tighter.
"They buried me alive."
The words hung in the air between them, and Rose found herself being guided to sit back down before she really knew what was happening. She opened her mouth to explain more about the event, to explain everything that had happened. But all that came out was a strange noise between a sob and a retch, and was crying without control. The Doctor wrapped his arms around her and pulled her to him, the expression of comfort only making her cry harder. Despite this, it did make her need to continue to talk, even if it wasn't about what had actually happened. Dealing with that was going to be a slow process, and would have to come later. Putting it off by trying to forget had obviously not helped.
"It was all I could see every time I shut my eyes, every time I stopped concentrating. I knew about the serum, and I knew I shouldn't do it. It wasn't tested, it could go so wrong, but I needed to do something. I couldn't talk to anyone, I just...it was too hard. I got it into my head that if I just forgot about that one aspect, those few hours of the day then I'd be able to cope."
Rose inhaled messily, The Doctor continuing to just hold her, just being silent, and warm, and there. It was all she could ask for and want in that moment.
"Of course it didn't work. I just forgot everything to do with aliens altogether instead of that one moment. It just felt as if it was the only thing I could do, and once I got the idea into my head, I couldn't let it go."
She felt The Doctor laugh. "Stubborn as always, that's my Rose."
The comment made her smile, despite the fact that her eyes ached from crying and they'd only just started to get everything out in the open. At least his words seemed positive, that she hadn't lost all in a moment of stupidity.
A quiet descended. The Doctor suddenly shifted, and Rose looked up towards him. He kissed her forehead, and she knew it would be alright. This wasn't an instant fix, not by a long way. But they'd brought it back from the edge, and eventually they'd work it out. That's what they did, what they always had done.
"I'm sorry," she said, knowing that the words didn't even come close to explaining her contrition. "I really am. It was stupid, and I've put everyone though..."
"It's okay, Rose," he answered softy.
"It's not. How can it be okay, just like that?"
He signed, and she sat up, reluctant to move away completely, but they needed space for this.
"You were going through something, you weren't exactly thinking straight. I wish you had spoken to me, I like to think we could have got through it. And we're still going to have to deal with that."
Rose nodded, her throat constricting as she did. She knew she needed to, but now wasn't the right time.
"But it is okay. I understand...in a way. You know my fixations." He smiled for the first time since this had spilled out between them, and Rose joined him, the hope she'd felt before increasing.
"I'm sorry too," he said. She must have looked confused, as he started to explain. "For assuming that it had to do with me."
Rose nodded, moving onto the next delicate subject. "I would have thought by now you'd know I would never have done that. I love you. Yes, I loved him, and some part of me will always love him. But that doesn't compare to the way I feel about you now."
"I know that."
"Yes," his voice was strong, his resolve shone through. Rose nodded, knowing he was sincere.
He raised his hand to his head and pushed it through his hair. "I knew it all along. It just...it was like a nagging voice in the back of my mind. I thought I'd give you time, and you would come back to me. And then you didn't remember, and it started to just consume me I suppose. Until I woke up one day and believed it was me. I started to dread the day when you'd remember him before me."
Rose smiled. "But that didn't happen."
It was his turn to smile. "No, it didn't. You remembered me. Us."
The hopeful feeling returned to the room, and Rose flopped back on the bed.
"We're a pair," she said, laughter escaping as she spoke. The bed moved and The Doctor came to lie beside her, taking her hand again.
"That we are. The Doctor and Rose, sabotaging their relationship everywhere they go."
Rose laughed loudly, and turned onto her side to face him. She raised a hand to his cheek.
"I really am sorry. You went through so much over the past eight months. You, mum, Pete. I don't know how to even start making it up to you all."
He shook his head. "Don't. We have things to deal with, but we also need to let it go. We won't be able to move forward if you spend the rest of your life feeling guilty."
Rose raised an eyebrow. "You should take your own advice."
He smiled and didn't answer, but Rose knew it was easier said than done for him. She leaned in and kissed him, a start of something new, a way forward.
She couldn't remember everything. They told her she might never be able to recall everything she'd lost. It was the price she would have to pay for messing with alien technology, and believing that she could just erase a problem. It bothered her sometimes, when she'd recall an incident from the past, but didn't remember why it had happened. A place where she'd travelled, but not the name. People who The Doctor spoke of that she couldn't remember meeting. Time would only tell if she'd ever get it all back again.
It would take time for Pete to trust her again. As her pseudo-father, he'd forgiven her in little time. As her boss, it would take longer to trust her with highly sensitive material and information again. She understood why he was reluctant to give her such a high level of responsibility so soon afterward. Her relationship with Michelle was strained but healing, something that again only time would completely mend. Her mother took in her stride, as she always did. Rose apologised, and apologised, and Jackie smiled, and let her make her own mistakes. The Doctor helped her with the echoes of the memories she had, helping her remember when he could, and helping when the memories just wouldn't return. They had their problems which they needed to overcome, but they would. She knew they would.
"Ready to go?" he asked, snapping her out of her thoughts. The day was bright and warm, the first of many to come as the summer rolled in. She put down the magazine she'd been vaguely staring up at, and smiled as she stood up. It was just past five thirty, and they were leaving work relatively on time. His arm was round her waist as they started to walk, the sun on her face, and his voice in her ear as he asked her a million questions. How was your afternoon? What shall we do tonight? Do we have to go to your mother's tomorrow, 9am is too early for breakfast...
She smiled, content to listen, walk and feel for the next few minutes, all the while the voice that had been whispering to her for so long seemed to say this is right. It's meant to be this way.