A/N: As promised, a sequel that's not really a sequel. Post-Doomsday, but not AU, with references to 'Momentum and Impulse Connection.' I kinda discovered I liked playing around with the established relationship, so maybe in the future I'll write more in this verse. I assumed there was about a month or three between the end of 'Momentum' and Doomsday.
Bonded with Rose Tyler. Truth be told, he never saw that one coming.
They were always friends, and even when she became much more than that, they still remained friends. It took a freak occurrence in Time and Space and a very persistent Rose to teach him a lesson he wouldn't forget in a heartbeat. Or two.
Nights he spend outside her bedroom, in the corridor, or inside her room, not quite knowing what to do, watching her sleep innocently and unaware of his presence - all that passed once she decided she'd rather be without him than with him and lonely. Of course he didn't let her. And so they came to be a couple. What a very spectacular time that was.
Annoyingly, Rose insisted on informing her mother about the new relationship-status, and he prepared to dodge a few bullets on that one. Jackie proved strangely level on the whole matter, though. With laudable calm she listened to Rose explaining that her and the Doctor weren't actually married as such, and that therefore Jackie hadn't missed out on the opportunity to cry and gloat to her friends, but that it meant her daughter wouldn't be coming home anymore. At least not permanently. To the rest of the world nothing much changed. People had always assumed they were together, even when they weren't yet.
Later this became a private joke, to bring up each time they found themselves in situations were certain rituals had to be performed to not offend the locals, or because it was the most prudent thing to do given the circumstances. Or just because it sounded like fun. A lot of the time it came down to that - having fun. Once he made a quick inventory of each marriage-ceremony that had been inflicted on them and he came to the staggering number of eighteen. And that wasn't even counting the ones that had been broken of prematurely because it turned out said locals wanted the bridal couple sacrificed prior to marrying them. Those were the less fun occasions.
Of course, there was only one rite that ever mattered to him, or to Rose. That being the one they performed themselves, without prying eyes or potential risk of sacrifice. The night that he and Rose first explored what they truly meant to each other was etched in his memory, and would remain so even in the unlikely event of regeneration. Which he had been prone to in the past. Now though, it seemed as if he could live forever. With her by his side.
On the morning after their bonding, Rose asked him if he knew how far their bond stretched. He gave some vague, uninformative answer, because frankly he was at a loss to what the right answer was. Only happy to have her, he didn't want to dwell too much on the question of how he would lose her, or what would happen if their bond was ever severed.
He just didn't know then.
Now he does.
Leaning against a whitewashed wall, his ear pressed to its surface, he doesn't listen. There is nothing to listen to. Except maybe for the screams that echo in his head; his cries and hers, as she was about to disappear into what they had dubbed hell. For one terrifying moment he saw hell reflected in her eyes, the next there was nothing but the damn wall. Like she never existed. And maybe that's true now - she doesn't exist anymore, at least not in his world. Not in his universe. Only in his head, where he searches in vain for that spark of life, a tiny fragment of light, of her. Then he tenses. He pushes his hand tighter against the wall and shouts with all his might. It is a silent cry only meant for her. He calls her name and she tries to answer, but the link is too weak and those other walls, the ones between universes, are closing. All that he can hear are her sobs. He gives it one last desperate effort. Rose, remember New Earth. We had chips. Don't be angry. Don't be sad. Rose, look, you can come back now. I won't laugh. Don't cry. Rose, I love you. I...
Then it's all over. His hand slides down and he steps back, the hollow in his mind all he can feel. He isn't angry. He isn't calm. He's a spec of dust. So he puts his hands in his pockets and slowly drifts away.
He goes back to the TARDIS.
Where else would he go? He's not going to smash up Torchwood Tower. The Daleks and Cybermen did that already. He's not going to tear his eyes out bewailing the Heavens. Time Lords don't even have that concept. What he does next is what he always does. He leaves it all behind.
He tinkers with the TARDIS.
He does this for hours on end, without eating or drinking or sleeping. There's so much to be done. Not to mention all the work left after procrastinating for hours, days, weeks at a time. Time spend with her, in a time-machine that needs constant maintenance. He has all the time in the universe now, without distractions. No more cups of tea that need to be enjoyed slowly or otherwise you'll lose the flavour. No more mornings of luring her out of bed with the promise of adventure, only to dawdle until noon and then dragging her back into bed. No more arguments over clothes left in inappropriate places to trip over in the middle of the night. Like that purple top over there. He pauses and sits back against the side of the console. His hands are greasy, so he thinks he'd better leave the top lying where it is, otherwise he'll only dirty it. She doesn't like her clothes dirtied by greasy paws. Although there was that time his hands were covered in juice from a rather succulent piece of Ganghi-fruit. First she screeched at him to stay away, but in the end she found a certain way of cleaning his hands that left them both sticky so it didn't matter anymore. Come to think of it, that might have been how the purple top got there. Thrown carelessly to the side, ending up draped over the railing.
He turns back to the console and rips out a piece of redundant wiring, only to discover that it really isn't redundant, or at least the TARDIS doesn't think so, for an electric shock rips through his nervous system. He yelps and falls back to the floor. Lying on his back, he squeezes his painful hand between his side and his arm until the first wave of pain subsides. When he brings it up again, he sees the shock has left a nasty burn-mark; an ugly black and red blister the shape of Australia. The continent. Not the planet. He knows he should cool it. Put ice on it first. Or some anti-burn cream. Ice-cream. He and her had ice-cream on Pillowun Three. The ice had been a very unusual colour, a sort of greenish white, and the flavour was called Cosmic Latte. The vendor proudly announced this to be the Basic Colour of the Universe, to which the Doctor kindly pointed out that this was wrong and that the average colour of the universe was actually closer to a beigeish white. Of course, the vendor didn't take kindly to his business being undermined by some alien know-it-all, and running ensued. But the ice-cream had tasted good. The burn hurts and he gets up to bandage it without putting ice on it first.
He gets distracted.
Well, that's no wonder. After working on the TARDIS for five days straight, he's near exhausted. Most of the repairs have been done and he reckons he can take a break. Just a short one to get himself in order. Places to go, people to see. All that. He isn't one for outward-appearances, despite his usual careful attention to personal hygiene and the odd accessory, but he suspects that people probably don't want to be saved by someone looking and smelling like he does now. He needs a shave and a change of clothes, and possibly a shower.
He saunters down the corridors towards his room on auto pilot. Knowing these corridors like the back of his hand (his good hand, not the burned one) helps to find the way when there are other things on ones mind. He finds the right turn and opens the bedroom door without thinking, then stops dead in his tracks. Their room, not his room. It's their room now. Was. Still is. Not as if she's dead and buried; she might come back. He hovers in the doorway, then slowly walks in, past the Victorian four-poster bed with slightly rumpled sheets, the dresser with the empty tea-mug on it, towards the door at the opposite end of the room. He hesitates again, unable to understand why he is here. He needs to clean up, but he can do that somewhere else. The TARDIS has so many rooms, he could take a shower in each of them and not be done by Christmas. He opens the door anyway and is confronted by a rather palatial bathroom. The blue-and-white tiles and the tub with the posh fixtures. On the edge of the bath is an earring. A perfect, shiny little piece of cheap metal and glitter. He takes two steps forward, then reconsiders. He swivels around quickly on his heels and shuts the door behind him with a whoomph. He ends up taking a shower in one of the TARDIS' rooms he's not seen since his fourth regeneration. It isn't perfect, but he thinks it's a start.
He tries to help people.
Some yellow-eyed alien is ranting in his face about crops. Apparently the Doctor just destroyed the man's crops by nearly crash-landing the TARDIS in it and then setting the whole field on fire in an attempt to stop a rampaging monster appropriately named He Who Comes To Wreck. Or some other local alien variation on the general concept of gods and tributes. The Doctor doesn't really like people who offer tributes to devouring monsters. Particularly not when those sacrifices consist of one or more lucky members of the society in question. In this case the victim is a young girl with long blond hair and bright-green eyes, barely out of her teens. Still the yellow-eyed man is ranting at him incessantly. The Doctor stands his ground and frowns down at the little man who is now almost spitting on him. Never mind that the Doctor just saved him and the girl and their entire village by trapping the local tribute demander in a force-field set to hold the creature for the next four-thousand years at least. Give or take a few decades.
The other villagers come and carry off the disgruntled citizen. They proceed to thank the Doctor and it soon becomes clear they want him to accept their tribute, now that the former recipient is out of the picture. The Doctor politely declines the 'gift', watching the girl squirm, trying to produce a smile for him. She's lovely. The villagers are quite insistent though, and he inquires why they don't just return her to her parents. He is told they don't want her anymore now that she is spoiled as a gift to the gods. The Doctor feels something stir in his head, but ignores it. He tries to explain something about the nature of certain gods and about protecting what you love, only to be met by blank stares. The little thing in his head begins to quiver. Other tributes are carried in and offered to him - a whole bunch of trinkets and cups and other bling that makes him really eager to leave the place. In between refusals, he eyes the girl who is looking more miserable by the minute.
The little yellow-eyed man reappears on the scene and starts his rant all over again, poking one withered finger in the Doctor's chest each time he makes a new point. By this time the villagers have begun arguing amongst themselves and are shouting at one another back and forth. The Doctor catches the words unacceptable, idiot and kill her anyway. The girl stands to the side and shivers visibly. All at once the argument seems to have been settled and one burly man steps forward, grabbing the girl roughly by the arm. She cries out for the Doctor and throws a desperate glance over her shoulder, her blond hair shiny in the bright sunlight. The Doctor leaps forward to stop them from hurting her, but is stopped in turn by four people who start pushing him back in the direction of the village-hall.
The Doctor's vision goes wobbly with flashes of red, and next thing he knows he's screaming and shouting at the villagers and they all fall quiet as he bellows at them all the abuse he can think of in multiple languages, smashing his way through the crowd, tribute-gifts flying in every direction. He grabs the girl's arm and drags her with him towards the TARDIS. No one dares to follow them.
He sets her down on the jump seat and directs the TARDIS to some world he's forgotten the name of, but where he knows she will fit in just fine. He leans on the console, head down to keep from screaming at every creature or thing that's ever crossed his path and took something from him he cared for. Until he remembers all the things he inflicted on others. Lost in his self-recrimination, he's startled by the flash of blond hair in the corner of his eye and the hand on his shoulder. He speaks her name on impulse, then is reminded by a pair of surprised green eyes that she isn't there. All the anger is sucked out of him like air from a pressure-seal.
For an exceptionally brief moment he considers keeping her, but there's something so fundamentally wrong about that idea, he discards it almost straight away.
Half an hour later he's dropped the girl off, and that's that. Apart from the hum of the TARDIS, the console room is quiet and the purple top is still draped over the railing. Just as it should be.
He visits new worlds.
Or at least, he tries to, but things keep popping up and he's seen so many worlds already, it's difficult to find one that is completely new. Or so he tells himself to rationalise his visit to London in 1997. It's the twenty-seventh of April and he's trying to come up with a good excuse for the exact date. He could have gone to check if Rome was really founded by she-wolf suckled twins - although he seriously doubts it - or witness the signing of the Magna Carta, and discards that idea too because King John was a bit scary with that eye twitch of his. So the Doctor walks the streets of London on a rather glorious, sunny afternoon. At one point he passes a little girl with mousy-brown hair, sitting on a bench, clutching a Spice Girls backpack to her and looking rather lost. Completely transfixed by those big brown eyes, the Doctor fails to watch where he's going and runs headlong into a woman just rounding the corner. All he sees is a flash of ginger hair and a bunch of magazines and papers flying through the air. She starts hurtling insults at him, calling him dumbo and idiot and other non-flattering nicknames. He helps gather up her stuff, while not really listening to her. Instead, he looks for the little girl and is disappointed to find she's gone. By the time the ginger-haired woman has collected her belongings, she storms off, muttering something about men being from Mars and not having eyes in their head. The Doctor gives a deep sigh and starts back towards the TARDIS, until he notices the woman has forgotten one of her magazines. He picks it up from the pavement and gives it a brief glance. On the cover is a picture from a new movie. Something about space-travel and wormholes and first contact and kind aliens delivering knowledge to humanity. The Doctor chuckles at the rather naive idea, knowing that ninety-eight percent of the species out there would rather breakfast on humanity than exchange knowledge. Not even his optimism and curiosity can change that fact.
He stops and sags down on the bench where the little girl sat before. What has happened to his so-called optimism? His eagerness to discover; his love for life? A silent tear slides down his cheek and he swipes at it with his hand. Looking down at his wet fingers, something happens. For the first time in weeks he acknowledges what has happened. The hole in his chest won't be ignored anymore by pretending it isn't there. She's gone. His precious Rose, his life, his everything, is gone. The other gaping emptiness, the one in his mind, is witness to that. Their link has been severed and the frayed bit on his side is like a nerve ending. Every touch, every movement, sends shockwaves of hurt through him. Once, he promised her he would stop after she got old and died. They actually discussed this, be it in hushed terms. He told her he didn't want to regenerate anymore, not without her. It never even occurred to him he might be chained to hope by knowing she was alive and well somewhere.
He glances at the magazine again. Wormholes. Holes in his heart. Holes in Time and Space. Supernovae. Then it occurs to him. It didn't before, because he was too busy ignoring everything that mattered. He jumps up and dashes to the TARDIS as fast as his trainers can carry him.
Once inside, he attacks the console with a zeal that he didn't think he had anymore. He scans for a sign, any sign of what he needs. It won't bring her back, but it will give him that one chance - the chance to say goodbye. And maybe to tell her what she already knows, but what he's never been able to put into words. Words are important, and right now his new favourite word is supernova.
He scans again and again, for hours, until the monitor finally gives that one blip he's been waiting for. One tiny orange blip telling him he's found the right one. That special once-in-a-lifetime occurrence. He's going to burn up a sun to say goodbye and it makes him bounce with glee.
He adjusts the settings and with one final push of a button he opens the last gap in the fabric of time and space. It takes a bit of effort to properly contact her - the gap is so small - but still big enough for their link to assert itself with light-speed and every thump of his hearts. Immediately he feels the emptiness in his soul fill up with light and love. It warms his body, saturates his mind and wraps him in bliss. He can hardly keep from crying out.
Focusing every ounce of shaky concentration, he reaches out and follows their telepathic bond across universes to where Rose is sleeping. It turns out she's dreaming and his hearts nearly stop when he discovers what her dream is about. With a wordless sigh he whispers into her mind the one word that matters to him.