The Girl in the Fireplace

It had been several hours since his companions had left him brooding in the console room on the premise of exploring the many wonders of the TARDIS. He knew Rose was loath to leave him, but she was letting him get over whatever it was in his own time, had probably figured out what had happened the moment he returned to them sans one French Aristocrat. He knew she never bought into the whole 'I'm always alright' routine anyway.

He set them adrift in the vortex, his usual manic enthusiasm lost as he stood by the console staring into the glass of the rotor for a length of time even he was unsure of. He wandered through the corridors lost in thought until he'd found himself in the library, the worn old leather of his favourite chair a welcomed comfort as the weight of his many years seemed to settle heavily on him in his current state. He sat beside the fireplace, the TARDIS humming softly in the back of his mind attempting to soothe the ache in his hearts.

He'd let her down, both of them. One he'd left standing on a broken down space ship in the 51st Century, the other, well, she had spent the rest of her life waiting for him. She claimed to have loved him, to have known him her whole life. In reality though, it was merely fleeting exchanges throughout her life and perhaps a whole hour for him. But she had seen a part of him he had never shared with another living soul when she had stepped through the door into his mind, she glimpsed a small fraction of himself, his childhood, what it was to be who he was. But this was why her death pressed upon his conscience so heavily, he had barely known her.

Did he love her?

No. How could he?

She was brilliant and interesting yes, but like all historical figures he had met in his travels, her fate was always sealed, a fixed point. No exceptions. It was why he had to save her. Why he'd taken Arthur and crashed through the remaining time window. This was not as history was meant to be, Rose knew it too, it was why she had urged him to go. He knew he would have found a way back, his previous regenerations were all through-out this era, he would have come across one to bring him back eventually. Rose however, trusted him to come back, believed he would always as he had promised. Sometimes the faith she had in him was terrifying.

He stood with a sigh and pulled Reinette's letter from his jacket and taking a step towards the fireplace he let the parchment slip from his fingers. He would not keep the reminder with him, she was at peace now and he would move on as he always must. He shrugged out of his long coat and laid it to rest on the back of his chair before going in search of his companions.

With his hands stuffed tightly into his trouser pockets he wandered back along the corridors. He passed the wardrobe, the swimming pool which was still and quiet as he ducked his head in, past Rose's room and the den which he also found vacant of his travelling companions. He finally found Mickey in the kitchen, soda and crisps in hand as the screen on the wall blared away some horrendously inaccurate science fiction program from the Delta Four Cluster of Andromeda. He had to roll his eyes at the absurdity of it all. He was on a space ship, what did he need to watch that rubbish for?

The Doctor was having second thoughts about allowing Mickey to accompany them, Rose he noted had seemed to dislike the idea at the time but something was on the horizon and he felt that Mr Mickey would become an integral part of it. He'd also hoped to provide a distraction of sorts for himself and Rose, their relationship was evolving, into what he wasn't sure. She had been upset when she learnt of his former companions, but she needed the reminder that he had suffered her past indiscretions too, not only Mickey but the 'pretty boys' Adam and Jack also to a certain extent. He moved silently continuing on to check the console room before ducking down the barely used corridor to the observatory.

From the door he could see her lying along one of the higher gratings watching the maelstrom of stars swirling across the ceiling. She was humming to the TARDIS, one leg swinging gently as it hung over the edge of the platform.

"I'm sorry." He whispered leaning heavily against the doorway.

"Wha' for?" She replied softly after a time.

"For leaving you like that." He breathed, scuffing his trainer along the floor.

"I told you to go," She replied softly. "Those droids would have changed history, you had to save her."

"Yea." He agreed quietly, swallowing to keep the lump in his throat down.

"Wha' happened?" She asked gently.

"She died." He murmured sadly. "Spent the rest of her life waiting for me."

"I'm sorry." She mumbled turning her head in his direction, "You comin' up or ya jus gonna stand there?"

His lip twitched in the hint of a smile as he climbed. She sat up and waited silently as he dropped down beside her, shuffling until he was comfortable. She leant her back against his arm and rest her head on his shoulder so she could still see the stars above them. He breathed deeply as the soft sweet scent of vanilla and human washed over him, a smell now so deeply ingrained into the TARDIS that he associated it with home.

"Did you love her?" She asked quietly, sadness lacing her voice. She felt him still behind her.

"No," He admitted with a shake of his head. "She loved me-"

"She loved the idea of you," Rose stopped him, "She had no right-"

She stopped before she gave too much of herself away. He had hurt her when he left them, but his admission of not returning Reinette's affections did calm the green eyed monster that lurked behind every though she had of the two of them together.

"She said you were worth the monsters." The Doctor snorted at this.

"If she truly knew me she would never have said that." He muttered darkly. "I'm no angel Rose, the terrible things I've done." Rose could imagine the sadness in his eyes.

"But you are ya know," She turned, only able to glimpse a pinstriped leg due their odd angle. "Worth it."

"Worth wasting the rest of your life waiting?" He quipped, guilt and anger lacing his voice.

"Some things are worth gettin' your heart broken." Sarah-Jane was right about that.

"That's rubbish." He muttered regarding the back of her hair, "Nothing is worth that, I'm not worth that."

"Yes you are and don't you dare say otherwise," She snapped at him, "People are drawn to you, it's just who you are," A sad knowing smile graced her weary features, "You barge in all rude-an-not-ginger, and sweep them off their feet with your brilliant mind and that great big ridiculously gorgeous grin with its unstoppable running gob and great hair and they jus can't help but fall for you, it's who you are."

"All because I'm a bit 'pretty'," He scoffed, "Please."

"Oi," She slapped him on the leg hard, "It weren't jus this you so you can stop that right now."

"Who I was would never have left you behind." He admitted in a whisper.

"Yea but we're different now." She sighed. "You're not as broken, I- I don't think you need me as much as ya once seemed to, plus I've learnt a thing or two bout gettin' myself outta trouble, not so much in need of rescuin' myself these days yea."

"You're wrong you know," He breathed, "I do need you."

"Wha?" She murmured.

"It still hurts," He sighed resting his head back against the wall, "But you make it easier to bare, make it easier to forget, easier to hide."

"I'm still not sure what's worse." She replied uneasily and he chuckled.

"You made me better Rose," He assured her.

"You made me betta too," She faltered, "I'm sorry bout bein' jealous of her and Sarah Jane. It's jus like I said, I thought you an' me were-"

"Rose-" He knew Rose loved him, after all he wasn't blind or stupid, what he hadn't realised until their argument outside the chippie with Sarah Jane, was just how that affection was directed, he hadn't realised that she'd seen the two of them as something a little more exclusive.

"But it's ok ya know, cause I realised that someone like you doesn't jus belong to anyone, you're so many things to so many people, to the universe an' it was childish of me to think otherwise, over 900 years, I was so naive, I jus forget sometimes that you're not human, but now I know, the way we are, and we're not-" She swallowed over the dry lump rising in her throat.

"What are we?" He breathed, oh she must know, surely?

"I dunno," She admitted, "You're my best friend, but it's more than that-"

"Yea it is." He agreed with a sigh.

"When you said I could spend the rest of my life with you did you mean it?" She questioned hesitantly.

"Of course." He frowned, indignity lacing his response.

"I know I said I didn't wanna be just another one in a long line, but," She paused closing her eyes as she pooled all her courage.


"I'm yours," She cut him off. "I mean not like that um, cause we're not, or whatever, but I am," She stuttered twisting the hem of her shirt nervously, glad in that moment that she couldn't see his face, "There's no one else, not for me, not ever, so if it's alright, I'm gonna stay with you, forever."

"What about Mr Mickey then?" He nudged her gently.

"Nah," She breathed, "Me and im' were over a long time ago."

"I'm sorry."

"I'm not." She replied firmly. They sat in companionable silence for what seemed like hours.

"So, forever then?" He began. "That's a long time to put up with me."

"Yea but it's not so bad." She laughed softly, then frowned. "I know my life is like the blink of an eye to you, but I won't leave you or the TARDIS, they'd have to drag me away kickin' and screamin'. You and her, you're my home now."

"Are you proposing to me Rose Tyler?" He whispered, amused at the blush that began to creep up her neck.

"You don't do that sorta thing," She laughed into the material of his suit, letting the familiar smell of him invade her senses, "But I guess it kinda seems that way."

"Who says I don't?" He interjected softly but she could hear the indignity behind it.

"Well how am I supposed to know," She retorted, "It's not like ya ever talk about anythin' like that, I mean you flirt and stuff but isn't it just a bit too domestic for ya, besides you're alien and all that."

"I've been married before Rose." He rolled his eyes.

'You what?" She stiffened in his arm, "Really?"

"Of course," He frowned then raised an eyebrow. "Mind you back then it was all pre-arranged rubbish if you ask me, it's part of the reason I left."

"You – you didn't love her?" Rose questioned softly.

"Love rarely had anything to do with it," He replied honestly, "But some of them, one of my old companions in fact, Leela, she was brilliant, a warrior of a regressed human tribe called the Sevateem, she fell in love with the Commander of the Chancellery Guard, a Time Lord named Andred."

"She was human?" Rose frowned.

"Uhuh," He confirmed.

"So what no witherin' an' dyin'?" She murmured just a little bitterly.

"Not with the Time Lords in the height of their power," He replied heartbreakingly softly, "Different now, only me and this daft old police box."

"I love this box." She smoothed a hand lightly down the wall beside her.

The Doctor chuckled as the shipped hummed affectionately, her lights brightening.

"I think this means we return the sentiment." He replied glancing down at her.

"We?" Her breath hitched slightly.

"Mmmhmmm." He agreed.

"Quite right too." She hid the grin threatening to break across her face in the arm of his jacket.

"Quite right-" He scoffed, "What kind of response is that?"

"Yea well you answer my question first?" She slapped him again, a smile tugging at her lips.

"Hmmm?" His frown deepened. "What question?"

"How long are you gonna stay with me Doctor?" She reminded him gently.

"Oh, that question," He breathed.

She nodded against his shoulder. He was quiet and just when she thought he would back away and they'd pretend like this conversation had never happened he shifted behind her and she squeaked in surprise as his arm came up over her head to settle firmly around her middle holding her back against his side.

"Your mother's gonna see me regenerated for this." He muttered pressing a kiss to the top of her head

"Forever then?" She whispered.

"Forever." He agreed.

Naww love a little bit of fluff. The whole point of this little romp in the 'Bits in Between' is to explain (in my opinion anyway) a few tid bits that RTD threw us throughout series 2 regarding the nature of the relationship between The Doctor and Rose and it's evolution. This chapter, as you may have already guessed, helps me come to terms with The Doctor's ridiculous response on the beach in Norway. Anywho back to it. Reviews = Love so let me know what you think. xxoo