Unable To Recall
There were many things the Doctor thought he knew about Rose Marion Tyler. She was compassionate and funny, helpful and friendly, adept in a crisis, good at running. She made the best of a bad situation, and she was always there to hold his hand. She lived on the TARDIS as though the ship had always been her home, and their visits back to Jackie were...well, bearable. More than bearable, now, really. He actually quite enjoyed them, but he'd never tell her that.
She was messy and clever and good at drawing. She wrote an account of their adventures in a diary so that she could keep track of linear time. She wore her TARDIS key on a chain around her neck most of the time, and when he'd asked her about it she'd blushed in that pretty way she did, mumbling something about how she liked the feel of it against her chest, against her heart. He knew about her past from the stories she and her mother had regaled him with, and he knew about her present for he was always with her nowadays.
There were also many things he thought he knew about his friendship with Rose Marion Tyler. He knew that he enjoyed her company immensely, and vice versa. He knew that he hugged her as often as possible, and made excuses to sit or stand close to her. He knew that she brightened up the room, and his life, when she was nearby. He knew that she could persuade him to do almost anything, but he also knew she was the one who would stop him when he went too far. He knew that she was his brilliant best friend who he would share the whole universe with if he could, and he knew that he'd keep her here with him as long as she wanted. He knew that he would find it extremely difficult to ever let her go. He knew that his friendship with her was so much more than friendship really, and he knew that at some point he really should tell her exactly how he actually felt.
All of this, he knew.
He never expected to forget any of it. Never thought he was capable of forgetting any facet of Rose Tyler, or what she meant to him.
Nonetheless, one day, he did.
Panting for breath, Rose shoved open the TARDIS doors and, stumbling under the weight, she half-carried, half-dragged the unconscious Doctor across the grating. The doors slammed shut behind her and she deposited the Doctor on the floor next to the jumpseat, unable to lift his surprisingly heavy body up into the chair itself. She hurried across to the console and looked up at the time rotor beseechingly. "Please work with me here," she whispered to the TARDIS, before implementing the sequence that would take them into the vortex – the sequence the Doctor had been teaching her recently on her introductory lessons in How To Fly A TARDIS. Thankfully, with just a brief groan, the TARDIS did as instructed. Once the ship had stopped moving, she dashed around to the console screen and heaved a sigh of relief when she recognised that they were indeed now in the vortex. Safe. "Thank you," she whispered, resting her hand against the console.
She glanced over at the sleeping Doctor. "Not bad, eh? Shame you didn't get to see it." Finally getting her breathing under control, she stepped back over to the Doctor, and sat down beside him. She bit her lip as she looked him over; he must be so uncomfortable lying on his back on the hard grating, but she supposed he couldn't feel it seeing as he'd been knocked unconscious. Her hands went to his head and she examined it gently, running her fingers through his hair and finding the sore bump where he'd been whacked. "I'd go and get some stuff from the medical room," she murmured, taking his hand in hers and entwining their fingers. "But I don't want to leave you on your own when you're like this. We'll patch you up when you're awake, yeah? Yeah."
She sat like that, cross-legged and holding his hand, for another half an hour. She was starting to lose her patience, and she had really bad pins and needles. "Doctor," she mumbled, tugging on his arm. "Time to wake up now, eh? Come on. Wakey wakey. God, you moan about me taking too long sleeping. I know how it feels now. Come on! Wake up so that I know you're alright, you daft alien!" She sighed, knowing it was hopeless. She glared at him briefly and muttered, "Better not regenerate on me again."
After a few more minutes, his eyes fluttered open. He quickly sat up, his gaze unfocused and his expression confused.
"Hey!" she grinned warmly, squeezing his hand. "You're back, then! How are you feeling? You took a really nasty blow to the head, I had to carry – well, drag – you back in here. Sorry I left you in such an uncomfy position on the floor, but you're heavier than you look and I'm knackered."
His response was just a blank stare, and Rose's smile faded.
"What is it? Are you badly hurt?" she asked quickly, shifting into her knees to get closer to him.
He cleared his throat. "No, I think I'm – ooh. That's – that's very odd. New voice." He looked down at his lap. "Pinstripes, eh? Weeelll - "
"Doctor," she interrupted impatiently. "You don't remember regenerating?"
"Nope," he answered, popping the 'p.' "When did I do that, then?"
She swallowed thickly. "Ages back. Months ago."
His brow furrowed. "How did I...?"
"It was...well, it was to save my life," she replied quietly.
He smiled. "Oh, that's nice. A noble death. Honour and valour and – sorry, what was your name?"
She dropped his hand in surprise. "Oh. You – you don't remember me," she stated shakily.
He tilted his head to his side in contemplation. "No, sorry. From my perspective it's as though I've never seen you before in my life, until now. Have we known each other long?"
"Nearly two years," she choked out, unsure how to deal with this situation. "Look, will you get your memories back, do you think? It's 'cos of the head thing, right, so at some point, once you've healed, your memories of us will return?"
"Oh yes, I expect so. What was it I was hit with?"
"A large plank of wood. The Rengogs weren't too happy with us after we upturned their corrupt slave system," she informed him, with a sheepish smile.
"The Rengogs? Interesting..." he hummed. Then he looked a bit more alert, his eyes focussing on her properly. "Wait, if they hurt me because of it...are you okay? They didn't hit you over the head with a plank of wood, did they?"
She shook her head. "No, I'm fine, ta."
He sighed, evidently relieved. "Good."
"So...what's the last thing you remember?"
His expression darkened and he winced. "I remember, uh...the war, the..." He closed his eyes, breathing deeply. Rose slipped her hand back into his and squeezed it sympathetically.
"That's all over now, Doctor," she said softly. "You and me, we travel across the universe together having fun adventures and saving worlds. It's a great hobby."
He opened his eyes again and jumped a bit at finding her suddenly so close. "Am I...nice?"
She giggled in surprise. "Yeah, course you are. To me, anyway," she grinned, sticking her tongue between her teeth.
He smiled back. "Am I happy?" he asked, thinking that he could probably work that out considering the last few minutes have been very happy indeed, simply because this girl was sitting so very close and holding his hand.
"I think so," she replied. "I hope so. Yeah. You laugh a lot, anyway. And sometimes you get this expression on your face when you look at me and I..." She trailed off, her cheeks tinting a bit pink.
"What?" he smirked.
"I dunno," she replied, a bit embarrassed. "Just...I dunno, I can't explain it."
He cleared his throat gently. "Sorry to have to ask this, but...well, you didn't answer me before - "
"Oh!" she realised abruptly. "Sorry, yeah – I'm Rose. Rose Tyler. Your best friend," she added cheekily.
"Rose Tyler," he murmured, testing out the name. It sounded perfect. "Lovely." He paused, his eyebrows drawn together in thought. "Um, Rose...do you mind if I ask you something else?"
"Course not, go ahead," she smiled encouragingly.
"You said, uh, that we're best friends?"
"Yeah," she nodded. "Why?"
"Are we anything...else?" he asked awkwardly.
She blinked at him. "Depends on what you mean by that..."
"Well, it's just – now, you see, this is a bit odd, but – well..."
"Doctor, get on with it," she muttered.
"Right, yes, sorry. It's just, I don't remember you, yet I do have this feeling that I should, and I also have this uh, fluttery feeling right here," he told her, pointing to his stomach. "And analysis of my chemical processes within my body tells me that there is an element of me that does still remember you, or at least, remembers how to respond to you being near, so I was wondering whether...I mean it's silly, really, I don't do this, ever, after all, but...but I thought perhaps, seeing as one can't argue with scientific proof and all that, perhaps..."
"Are you seriously leaving it to when you don't actually remember me to tell me that you fancy me?" she asked simply.
His eyes widened. "No, no, no, no...I merely, uh...so we don't – we aren't – we haven't - "
"Oh. That's weird then. Because you see, I should only feel like this if we had."
"Doctor, you have amazing self-restraint," she informed him. "And really, believe me, I'm fine with that."
He wrinkled his nose up, taking her words to mean she was strongly opposed to the idea. "Oh dear. Have I got myself into the awkward situation of unrequited - "
She quickly slammed her hand over his mouth and met his gaze steadily. "Don't say that word," she told him quickly. "Not while you're like this." He mumbled something against her hand, but she ignored him and continued, "For the record, I do feel the same way, and I think you probably know that – or at least, you know that when you have all your memories - but we never talk about it so just keep schtum for now, yeah?"
She removed her hand and he looked at her in bewilderment. "Okay," he mumbled, chastened. He was silent for a moment. "Are you glad that we don't talk about it?" he asked her then. "Or..."
She lifted her hand again; a warning. He stopped talking.