Hey, guys! Sorry this one took WAY too long. I got writers block on it and just really didn't know where to take it. But it's here now. And it's the last chapter. So enjoy!
Waking up is Knowing who you Really Are
The light was far too bright, even though she knew it was on low. It burnt her eyes. Everything stung, everything ached. She just felt so horrible and still so weak. She knew that seizures were bad, but she hadn't realised they felt this bad.
For a moment she had had the most wonderful hallucination, or daydream, or whatever it was. It wasn't as good as others she'd had, but it felt so real. She could hear his voice as if he were really beside her. Feel the material of his suit beneath her fingers… she could feel.
Oh, she had dreamt of being able to feel these past four months. In her daydreams she could feel the hard grating of the TARDIS beneath her bare feet. But this actually felt as if she could feel again. It felt real. She felt real.
Hang on… she could still feel something. She could feel soft sheets at her back and a warm duvet over her. And she could hear the comforting sound of the TARDIS, but she almost expected that. Sometimes her mind just played it.
What really surprised her, when her eyes came into focus, was that she found she was in a very familiar room. It was her room on the TARDIS. She was lying in her bed. The whole room was the same. Nothing had changed.
The only things she could pinpoint as different was the smell of the Doctor on her pillow, a few items of his that had just been forgotten in here… and the seat beside her bed with a sleeping Time Lord in it.
As beautiful as he was, he also looked terrible. His suit was crumpled, as if he hadn't changed in days. The jacket was off and the shirtsleeves rolled up to his elbows. His hair was in even more disarray than usual and maybe in need of a wash. He had faint shadows below his eyes and clear signs of a 5 o'clock shadow too. She could tell that he was sleeping restlessly.
She sat there, just looking at him. She didn't want this illusion to shatter. She wanted this dream to never end. It felt more real than anything had in a very long time.
Slowly his eyes fluttered open. He groaned as he rubbed them, moving so he was sitting up properly. He looked over at her and blinked. It took him a few seconds to realise that she was actually awake, but when he did, he was by her side in a flash.
"Rose!" he cried. "Rose, it's okay." He began tenderly stroking her face and her hair. His hands felt so wonderful against her skin she almost cried. She opened her mouth to say his name, but all that came out was a pathetic gasping sound. "Shh, shh," he soothed her. He reached over to the bedside table and grabbed a glass of some almost clear, just slightly yellow drink. "Here, drink this," he told her. "It'll sooth your throat. Don't try and talk yet."
She nodded silently and he gave her a small smile. She drained half the glass and he placed a hand on hers to stop her. "Slowly!" he cried. "It's been a while since your stomach has held anything." She opened her mouth to ask how long she was out for, but he gave her a look. "Uh-uh, I said no talking, Missy!" he said, jokingly. But tears were slowly filling his eyes as he looked at her.
Suddenly she was swept up in his arms and he let out a sigh that almost sounded like a sob. "I'm so sorry, Rose. Rassilon, I've missed you!" With the little strength she had, she wrapped her arms around him and buried her head in his chest. Oh, he felt so good. She needed this contact.
"How do you feel?" he asked after a while.
"Sore," she managed to croak; her voice was still raw, but now she was at least able to speak. "I didn't think a seizure hurt this much… or caused hallucinations."
This caused the Doctor to chuckle a little, his hand swept down to caress her cheek and she leaned into it. "This isn't a hallucination, Rose," he told her softly. "You're really here."
"You found a way through?" she rasped quietly in wonder.
He shook his head. "You never left. I'm sorry. I'm so sorry, Rose. You were kidnapped on New Earth before Cassandra took you. They replaced you with a Flesh that held your consciousness. Neither of us could know the difference. You've been here ever since."
"Is that why I couldn't feel anything?" she asked, sounding so tired and innocent.
"After you said goodbye, I lost feeling. I couldn't feel anything. Completely numb."
"Yeah, the sealing of the walls must have broken the connection somewhat. And you said seizure?" She nodded. "That would have been the machine deteriorating as the power failed. Not actually a seizure, just the molecules of the Flesh falling apart."
"Then why do I feel like crap?" she asked. The Doctor looked away, hesitant to tell her. She knew that for some reason he was feeling horribly guilty. "Doctor?"
"You've…" he started. "You've been lying in a psychic link pod for… a very long time."
"What? A year and seven months?" She noticed him look down. "Doctor, how long is 'a very long time'?"
"Twenty four years," he whispered.
"What?" she cried, sitting bolt upright. Every muscle in her body screamed in protest as she moved. "I'm 45!"
"Perhaps older," he said quietly. "I don't know how long you were trapped here before the Bliss virus spread. The pod must have protected you from it."
"I'm an old woman!" she cried. Ignoring the pain, she reached up and began touching her face, feeling for signs of age. She didn't feel any wrinkles. Just taut skin and jutting bones.
"No, no, no, Rose!" he cried reaching over and pulling her hands into his. "You don't look old," he assured her. "You still look twenty… Well, I assume you still look twenty, maybe twenty one. It - it's a little hard to tell. You still look young but… You were in that pod for 24 years with no food or water or care. It's a bloody miracle you're even alive…" he had to choke back a sob.
Rose let the words sink in. Twenty four years without anything that would is considered necessary to stay alive. "H-how am I alive?" she asked. The Doctor looked up at her, fear in his eyes. But he had to be honest with her.
"Well, I'm not exactly sure. I'm guessing a lot of it was luck. There was about a 3.8% chance you would be alive. But that's only because… well, it's because…"
"Doctor?" she prompted softly. Her voice was getting less haggard as she continued to drink.
"Your biology has changed," he breathed out harshly. "You're not exactly… human anymore. You still are, a little. But you're more like, well, you're more like me, actually. Well, more like your own new species really. You're still fundamentally a human, still who you used to be. But you've got a lot of Time Lord DNA and some I've never even seen before. But we can figure out how it happened when you're feeling better. The last thing you'll want now is more experiments." He winced at the thought. "But as for how you stayed alive, I think we can base that on your changed DNA and energy being transferred from the Flesh to you. The mere psychic energy was keeping you strong enough."
"No wonder I ate so much and never got fat," she tried to joke. The Doctor tried to laugh with her, but it sounded fairly forced. "Doctor?"
"Can you touch me? Please, just hold me, anything… I need to feel…" She had barely finished speaking when he slipped one hand back into hers and began caressing her face and arms and any other skin he could see. Rose sighed in content, eyes closing. She doubted she would ever take the feel of another's skin against hers for granted. Heck, she'd probably do a happy dance in the snow just for being able to feel the cold!
"This is nice," she whispered.
"So, you couldn't…"
"Feel anything for four months," she finished for him. "Not anything. Not even pain or my own contact. Just about drove me insane… Would it be too much to ask for you to never stop doing this?"
"I'll try not to," he chuckled.
"How could it have been over twenty-four years? I was only over there exactly seven months. I was counting. And it was exactly four since I went numb."
"Hmm," the Doctor thought a moment. "Well, considering New Earth had next to no power since it was being filtered down to the Under City, the machine probably went on standby. It's most likely that you were only conscious… well, dreaming, one day out of every seventy-five."
"And what, the rest I was just switched off?" He nodded solemnly. "Gee, talk about sleeping your life away," she chuckled weakly. The Doctor echoed her laugh.
"Don't you dare pull another sleeping beauty on me like that again," he chided, before leaning down and kissing her on the forehead.
They both looked up as the door closed and someone walked in. "Oh, sorry," she said. "I'll come back later."
"No, no, it's okay," the Doctor told her. "Rose, this is Martha. Martha, this is Rose!" he beamed. Martha came into the room and put the tray she was holding down.
"It's nice to see you awake," she smiled. "He hasn't left your side in days. Speaking of which, you," she pointed to the Doctor sternly, "eat." Happily he did as he was told, digging into food off the tray. "Have you given her a check up, yet?"
"Fee onwy jus woke up, Marfa!" he protested around his food. He swallowed. "I was a little more concerned about convincing her I wasn't a hallucination or dream and telling her that she's not really human."
"Ugh, shocker of a day, huh?" Martha asked as she picked up a stethoscope.
"You have no idea," Rose replied.
"Shock for us too. The mysterious Rose is suddenly here instead of on some… parallel universe."
"Mysterious Rose?" she said in confusion.
"I've only known him a few days, and already it's 'Rose would have loved this', 'Rose would have known what to do', 'Last time Rose and I were here…'"
"Really?" she asked.
"You sound surprised," Martha noted.
"Well, he doesn't usually speak about past companions."
"I do too!" he said indignantly.
"Need I remind you of Sarah Jane and Jack?"
"Who?" Martha asked.
"I rest my case," Rose said smugly. But the smugness was ruined when she gasped as Martha placed the ice cold stethoscope on her chest.
"Sorry," she said. "To be honest, I don't know what I'm looking for," Martha sighed. "Who knows what's correct for your physiology anymore. I think the Doctor should probably run a few tests."
"I'm not experimenting on her," he said angrily. "She's been through enough."
"Not even to see if she's okay?"
"I've downloaded the information that the Sisters of Plenitude had on her. From what I've read she'll be fine. She's already looking better and it's only been a few days. She just needs to be looked after. Some food, muscle therapy. She'll be right as rain, won't you Rose."
"I look terrible, don't I?" she groaned.
"No," the Doctor told her. She could hear the honesty in his voice, but doubted it due to the sympathetic look on Martha's face.
"You look better than when we found you," she said gently. "We thought that you were dead for a moment until we noticed you breathing."
"So I look dead?"
"No," the Doctor told her. "More like… you've been sick…"
"Doctor, I can feel my ribcage sticking a mile out and I barely have enough strength to lift my arms." She noticed, for the first time, the tears in his eyes as he looked at her.
"Like I said," he told her, trying to sound his happy self. "Nothing a little bit of food and muscle therapy can't fix. You're healing a lot more rapidly than you used to. It shouldn't take too long."
"This is going to suck, isn't it?" she sighed. "Muscle therapy. I had a cousin who had to go through that when she was trampled by her horse."
"It's not going to be easy," Martha said sympathetically. "But it will be worth it. I mean, what with this guy, you're going to need to be in running shape pretty quickly." This made Rose laugh a little.
"What matters," the Doctor said, leaning forward and grabbing her hand, a smile on his face. "Is that you're back."
"Yeah. Yeah, I am."
It had been days since she had woken up. The Doctor had carried her from the med ward to his room. He said that he would have taken her to hers, but his room was better equipped for anything she would need.
She had looked around the room to see equations everywhere. He had dragged at least ten whiteboards around the room, all with notes and equations and diagrams. He had blushed when she asked what they were for, quickly pushing them out, muttering about how they didn't matter anymore.
Now she lay on his huge bed. It was so soft that you sunk a few good inches into it, and you never wanted to get back up. She had pulled her top up and was trying to see the state of her stomach. It hurt a little, trying to use the muscles in her neck for this long, but she knew that was good. The more she did it, the stronger it would get. Her arms were much better now. Still horribly thin, but she could easily lift everyday things now. And yesterday she had taken her first shaky steps with the Doctor's help.
She peered up over her breasts to her stomach. She was still very thin and you could see her ribcage, but it was much, much better than it had been. All she could say was thank god for rapid healing. She had realised not long ago that she was hardly ever injured after the Game Station. It was really more that she just never noticed that she was and healed before it got to the point she would be worried. Even the Flesh had done that. The Doctor said it was because they used her DNA to sculpt it.
"Yes, it is looking bigger," an amused voice came from the doorway. She dropped her hands and looked up to see the Doctor leaning casually against the wall, just watching her. How long had he been standing there?
"You sure?" she asked. "I can still see a lot of bones."
Sighing, he walked into the room and over to her, but not without reaching back through the door and dragging a small trolley after him. He sat down beside the bed and gently pressed a finger to each rib, almost as if he were playing piano. This thought made her giggle. "Ticklish?" he asked.
"A little," she said. "But I was laughing at you… doing that I mean."
"Well, you seem to have developed a very strong craving for physical contact," he smiled at her. "And I, being strangely tactile in this incarnation, feel only too happy to oblige. Especially since I was without you for so long."
"Twenty-four years. I think I win," she said, her tongue poking out from her teeth as she grinned cheekily at him.
"Yeah… probably. And you look fine."
His eyes flicked down to her still bare stomach, which his fingers still rested on. "This," he said wriggling his fingers like he were drumming on a table, making her giggle. "I bet you that in a few days time you'll look just like you always did… Well, maybe a little skinnier. And it will probably only be a few days after that that your muscles will be strong enough that you won't need my help for anything." He seemed to blush at this point. "Anyway," he coughed awkwardly. "Food!"
He pulled the top off the tray to reveal at least three different drinks, hot tea, juice and a milkshake… and a huge, steaming, pile of chips… on newspaper. Pressing a button on the side of the tray, it rose into the air and hovered before him and he gently pushed it over to the bed, before jumping to sit next to her.
Rose laughed as he popped a chip into his mouth and hurried to do the same, the movement of reaching over no longer painful. She thought back to his earlier embarrassment. He had said that she wouldn't 'need his help for anything'… anything implying everything possible…
But why was he embarrassed about that? Okay, so he had helped her to the bathroom once or twice, but never went in. And in the very early stages when she could barely dress herself, Martha had helped with that. A little embarrassing, maybe a bit downcasting, but necessary, and she was past that point now. And sometimes she got tired of standing in the shower, but that was why the TARDIS had put in a perch for her to sit on and a rail to help her keep balance.
He had never had to worry about any of that… so why was he now? …Then it hit her.
"Martha's leaving, isn't she?" she asked.
The Doctor nodded. "Said she wanted to give us some space. Didn't want me to feel guilty about spending so much time trying to help you. But she gave me her mobile and told me she'd call me to see how you were doing. So she'd be happy to travel with us again… if that's all right with you… Oh, and she's going to finish med school. Spend time with her family."
"Well, good on her!" Rose cheered. "And I wouldn't mind having her back one bit. She's really nice." He gave her a small smile, but then she noticed that he had slipped off into a brooding stare that she thought would have fit better on his last incarnation. "What is it?"
"It's just… I never figured out a way to get to the other universe. There's no way to tell Jackie that you're alive… You'll never see her again."
"I know," she whispered. "But I think they knew I wasn't really me for a while. We ran a lot of tests to see what was wrong with me, and Pete kept looking at me oddly after that. I'm sure they'll figure it out. Besides… I made the choice to stay here with you a long time ago. A very long time ago, apparently."
"How long ago, exactly?" he said, turning on his side to face her. She turned as well, shifting to get comfortable. To say the truth, that question had been eating away at him for a while, but they were always too busy, and then it hurt too much to think about once she was gone.
"Long before I was replaced with the Flesh," she said. "I mean, there were times when I thought, 'I'm never going to leave'. But I don't think I truly meant it… or realised how much I meant it until you sent me away the first time. Something in me snapped. I knew that I couldn't just leave you, that I couldn't let you die or go on by yourself. It was one of the reasons I was so desperate to get back to you. It was around that point that I realised it wasn't just some… some crush or infatuation. I thought I loved you, but then I knew, I knew that I loved you… more than anything."
And there it was. The thing that had been sitting between them since she got back. The thing that they had been… not ignoring, exactly… just not… talking about.
Talking about that time bought back the memories so clearly in her head that her voice had cracked, and tears had leaked from the corner of her eyes. Gently, the Doctor raised a hand and wiped the tear away, leaving his hand resting on her cheek.
"Well then… I think I win, because I realised that it wasn't a fascination or a strange refraction of psychic energy bouncing against me, or any other of those pathetic excuses I thought up, when I thought I had lost you after the Anne-Droid transmatted you. I thought you were dead for a whole two hours!"
Rose smiled, then snorted. "I had to be sedated to get off Krop Tor because I refused to believe you were dead, no matter what anyone said, and wouldn't leave!"
"I had to see you standing there without your beautiful face and no neural impulses and not know if I could ever reverse it!"
"Love's not a competition, Doctor," she giggled.
"Yeah, but I'm winning," he said. Rose laughed again, and he didn't hesitate to press his lips against hers.
He hadn't noticed anything was wrong last time. Now that he had her back, he would never let her go.
And that's all folks!
I had fun writing that last part. In case you may have noticed, I had Paramour stuck in my head at the time.
I know that I didn't actually have him say that he loved her, but it's more than implied. It just didn't really seem like the right moment that he would say it.
So I hoped you liked it. But as they say, one story ends, another begins. I've also got the first chapter of an idea I had a few months back. Why cant I just finish the ones I've started before I move on? Oh, that's right, because my head is so jampact with ideas that it will explode if I don't get them out! Not even Big Time Lord Brains can handle THIS mess up here!