A/N: Set after JE; Rose and the Doctor have arrived at her flat in London after a long and tiresome journey from Norway. Unsure yet hopeful, they begin to forge this strange new life together.
Texting and Scones
'I can't go back to yesterday because I was a different person then.'
- Lewis Carroll
She reached for him. The Doctor instantly tucked his hand into his pocket, and for a moment Rose thought that he was withdrawing from her comfort. But then his hand came right back out again, this time holding two envelopes. He held them out to her, his eyes sad, and swallowed thickly.
Rose's brow furrowed. "Doctor...?"
"Open them," he murmured gently.
She took the envelopes from him and turned them over, her breath hitching in her throat as she recognised his handwriting. His elegant script, writing Rose in the centre of each one.
She looked up at him questioningly. He shrugged. "That one's from after I lost you, when I was being particularly depressive one evening." He pointed to the other one. "I don't know what that one says, I didn't write it; he did. But I can probably guess. Go on. Open them."
"So he...gave this one to you, before we left the TARDIS?" she said quietly, trying to keep her emotions in check.
"Yes," he answered simply. There was a pause where Rose just nodded and then went back to staring at the envelopes, and then, moving away from her, he continued, "You can choose whether you want to read both of them or just one or whatever. I'll give you some space - "
"No!" she cried out sharply, her free hand reaching out towards him. "Please don't go," she whispered.
His expression softened and he stepped back to her side and took her hand in his, squeezing reassuringly as they both sat down on the sofa together. "Okay," he promised.
She gave him a small, grateful smile, then opened the first one, the one he'd told her that he'd written after he'd lost her the first time. She took in a deep breath as she started to read,
This is probably pointless, really. I'm writing you a letter but it's not as if I can post it. I wish I could. I wish I could get this to you somehow. Well, no, actually I just wish that I could get you back, somehow...but all that's impossible, isn't it? That's what I told you. That's the fact of the matter. And I've been trying, I promise I have – trying and trying and trying to find away to get you back to me. Unfortunately the universes are still being uncooperative, and you are still too far away.
Anyway, I feel like I need to write this down. Don't know why. Seems quite human, really. Maybe that's your fault. I suppose that's what I need to say first, actually – thank you, thank you, Rose, for making me better, for making me a little more human.
I wish I could tell you that because of that, because of you saving me – in oh, so many ways - I'm okay right now. But I'm really not. I just. I just miss you, so much, and I can't believe I'm never going to see you again. All your stuff, everything that you left on the TARDIS, it's all still here, as if you've never left...all in its rightful place. In your home, where you should be.
Still. I want you to be happy, Rose. Don't mope around too much like I am. Don't you dare. You're so young, so human, so, so brilliant. You'll get on with life, I know you will. You'll live a fantastic life for me, just like I asked you to all that time ago. And you'll move on, someday. Your heart will heal.
I feel like such an idiot for wasting so much time on that beach. I should've said what I wanted to say when I had the chance, instead of leaving it to the last second and then getting cut off. But you know, anyway. You know that I love you. That I love you more than anything. That I will always, always love you.
Rose wiped at her eyes with her free hand and looked at the Doctor. He was staring sorrowfully back at her. "Doctor," she croaked out.
He ran his thumb across the back of her hand soothingly. "Read the next one," he told her softly.
"I don't know if I can," she whispered.
The Doctor smiled gently and removed his hand from hers to wrap his arms around her tightly, burying his nose into her hair. "Of course you can," he whispered back, before pressing a tender kiss to the top of her head.
She swallowed against the lump in her throat and carefully put the first letter back in its envelope, then placed it on the coffee table. With another deep breath, she opened the next one.
I expect you hate me right now. You think I've abandoned you. But soon, you'll see why I've done this, why I've left you there with him. And it might not seem like it now, but one day, you'll be so grateful that I did.
You see, you can have the most wonderful life together now. A proper life together, where you really can spend forever with the Doctor. Have adventures. Be brave and brilliant and hold his hand. Make a home. Make a family. He can give you things I could never give you.
Don't resent him. He's me. Really, he is. Well, he is, but he's better, too. He's the best part of me. Oh, he'll be just as rude and not ginger as always, but he's the part of me that can stay with you forever, so that makes him the best. And I'd like to think that because he's me and I'm him, you'll never feel alone again.
You can be together now, and Rose, don't waste time missing me, because I'm right there with you, right now. As you read this, I bet he's hovering, reading it over your shoulder. Nosy bastard, that's me. Always invading your personal space. I hope you didn't mind that in the years we travelled together, because you're stuck with it now. He'll always be there. And not because he has nowhere else to go, but because he loves you with everything he is, just like I do. But better. Because he's not the last of the Time Lords or lonely wanderer or all those other titles I've generously been given over the centuries, not anymore, not really. He can let go of that burden now, and you can help him do that, and make him see that the only person he needs to be concerned with is you. Well, and your family, of course. You both need each other, so I'm hoping that I've given you your happy ever after. Because you deserve that, Rose. You deserve every happiness possible.
I don't want to end this letter. I don't want to sign off and that be it – my last ever words to you. But I know I have to. And at least I know that you've still got me, right there with you, to share the rest of your life with you, grow old with you, do the domestic, make you happy. I want you to know that I wish that I could've swapped places with him. I need you to know that. That life, the adventure I've never had – I want that, so much, with you. But I couldn't swap, and you know why. It's not because I don't love you enough, because I love you so much that I would give everything up if I could, just to hold you in my arms. It's because I have this responsibility to the universe that I can't just ignore, and I'm sorry. I really am.
And if I'd given in and let you stay with me, we would both be consciously aware that every minute we spent together could be the last. I couldn't face losing you again. Not like that. Maybe it makes me a coward, but I really don't think I could watch you die and carry on afterwards. Now, in my mind, I know you're still alive and somewhere in the multiverse. To me, you'll always be alive. Always. And it isn't quite what I wanted, because what I wanted was for you to spend the rest of my life with me; but that's impossible, and this is the lesser of two evils. Letting you go now, knowing you'll be happy, knowing that there is somewhere where you are still there, still alive and wonderful and my fantastic Rose Tyler.
So I'll treasure what you gave me, those precious moments of your life that I've had with you. And the memory of you and everything you are, and everything we were, will get me through the rest of my life. I'm going to miss you so much that you can't even fathom the measure of it, and never, ever, think that I will forget you, in time, because I won't. I won't ever forget you, I won't ever not miss you. And I won't ever not love you.
Be happy, Rose Tyler.
The Doctor x
Once Rose finished reading, they both remained silent, and he held her as she curled up in his arms, hugging her tightly while she cried.