Disclaimer: Yes, I own Doctor Who! I am also Santa Claus, the Tooth Fairy and the Easter Bunny...
A/N: As mentioned in the summary, this is a prequel to 'Ten Days'. Since Ten Days is a very depressing story, I wanted the story behind the photograph to be much happier, with just a dash of angst
The Last Photograph
He was already starting to regret that he had said yes. This was so not his thing, but when Rose had made that adorable face, he just couldn't resist. He nearly smacked himself. He had turned into an old softie, especially when it came to her.
On the other hand, this might be the thing that would chase away the nagging feeling in his gut since the Olympics, when the Beast had said that Rose would die in battle.
But still he regretted ever mentioning the Intergalactic Ball on New Earth. He had hoped the Cassandra incident would have scared her far away from that planet, but he had clearly underestimated Rose Tyler. How could a human be so brave, so amazing, so kind, so beautiful? That was why he lo... liked her. He did not love her. He would not love her. There, simple. Feelings always complicated good things.
Suddenly he heard the clicking of high heels nearing the console room, and he glanced at the clock. Oh, it had only taken her three hours. That was an improvement.
"So, what do you think?" her voice came from behind him. He turned around and his jaw nearly hit the floor. She was wearing a black dress which went a little below her knees. Her hair was curled and she was wearing the necklace he had bought her when they had visited Eurynome, a planet famous for its diamonds and jewelry.
"You look..." he paused, looking for the right word. The word was there, in his own language, but there were no words in English which meant the same, so he settled for, "absolutely amazing. Incredible."
She smiled broadly. "Thanks, so do you." God, he lo... liked her smile. He offered her his arm. "Milady, allow me to escort you to the ball."She giggled as she grabbed it. "Good sir, I would be delighted to let you escort me." They both laughed as they left the TARDIS.
Soon the Doctor and Rose arrived at the grand manor where the ball was held. Rose was incredibly excited. Just this once it wouldn't end with them running for their lives. Hopefully. With the Doctor you never knew. He could end up insulting the king of some foreign country or planet, and they would be chased away. She hoped he would be able to keep his gob closed.
As they arrived, the Doctor flashed his psychic paper to the guards. He studied it carefully. "Sir John and Dame Rose Smith, welcome. I hope you have a pleasant evening." The Doctor marched inside, Rose a little behind him. As they walked into the giant hall, she stopped and stared in awe.
"Rose Tyler, welcome to the Intergalactic Ball. Species from 3 galaxies and 27 planets are right here, in this room." He grinned at the expression on Rose's face. It was all a mix of different colored dresses and skin. Already Rose knew she was going to enjoy herself.
Suddenly music started to play. "Milady, may I have this dance?" the Doctor asked and bowed a little. She quickly grabbed his hand and pulled him into the dance floor.
"Well, I guess if the world doesn't end," she said. He quickly spun her around, although he was a little nervous. He hadn't really danced in this body, but hopefully he would be able to make this an enjoyable evening for her.
He slowly dipped her. "So, do I still have the moves?" he asked.
"Oh, you most definitely have," she replied. Suddenly a much slower song started to play. The Doctor helped her to her feet and pulled her a little closer. She put her hands around her (his?) neck and rested her head against her chest. She could feel the two hearts beating under her chin.
The Doctor's arm grabbed her waist tightly. This was nice. Maybe... maybe a bit too nice. He could feel his defenses begin to tumble down, but he could not let them. What would happen if he did? If he allowed all the walls he had carefully built up since the day he had taken her hand to crumble to the ground. Maybe he would be happy. Maybe she would say she felt the same way as he, and always had, and they would live happily ever after. Like in fairy tales. That would be nice.
Maybe she would leave him, leaving him all by himself again. He couldn't do that. He couldn't let the woman who had filled his hearts go. It would break him, tear him apart. He couldn't live without her in his life, not after everything they had been through. He couldn't live without seeing her smile, seeing her laugh out loud when they recalled one of their adventures. Couldn't go on without seeing her safe and sound.
So, all in all, it was better not to risk anything. He would let things run their natural course and if something was meant to happen, it would.
"Doctor, are you all right?" Rose's voice broke through his musings. He realized he had stopped moving and had just stared at her for the past few minutes.
"What? Yes, sorry, just got lost in thoughts, you were saying?"
"I wasn't saying anything. You're the one who have been staring at me for the past five minutes. Are you absolutely sure you're all right? Do you need some water or something to eat?" She reached out her hand and out it on his forehead. It took all of his will power not to lean into her touch. "You're a little bit warmer than usual."
"Well, we have been dancing for some time, plus it is a little bit hot in here, or is it just me?"
"I guess so..." The Doctor immediately grabbed Rose and pulled her away from the dance floor. Stupid, fantastic, beautiful, sexy human, making him feel this way. If he could, he would have jumped into a cold shower right on the spot. Unfortunately there were no showers in the hall, so he did the next best thing. He pulled her outside in the cold night. "Look at that sky," he said, desperately trying to get rid of this… feeling. He couldn't do it. He just could not grab her and snog her. "It's beautiful."
"Doctor, I appreciate the view, but it's cold out here," she shivered a little.
"Oh, right. Sorry. Sometimes I forget how fragile you, humans, are." He took off his jacket and put it on her shoulders, his hands lingering for a moment more than they should. Oh, he wanted to hold her tight, to kiss her, to confess exactly how he felt about her, how much he lo- cared for her. Funny, even in his own head he couldn't say it, so how could he possibly do that? How could he tell her how he felt, when he couldn't even say it to himself?
He realized he was staring at her again and quickly shifted his gaze to the sky. He shouldn't think about that now, he was here to have fun, not regretting things he couldn't do. He nearly jumped when Rose suddenly grabbed his hand, their fingers automatically entwining. How could he go on without this, her hand holding his?
"Are you sure you're all right?" Her voice broke through his thoughts. "You seem a little off."
"I'm always all right." The Doctor grabbed her hand a little tighter. "I'm just…"
"Yeah." He looked at her, all pink and yellow as always, but looking so much more beautiful than she ever had. More beautiful than any human he had ever seen before. He loved her. He could no longer deny it. He loved her so much, every day felt like a battle. A battle with himself, trying not to kiss her when she was standing beside him like this. Trying not to grab her and do what Time Lords definitely did not do. "Rose," he said and met her gaze. "I…" The rest of the sentence got lost. Instead he wrapped his arms around her in a tight hug.
"Doctor, it's not that I don't enjoy this, but…" she pulled back a little and looked into his eyes. "You're not all right. What's wrong? Are you sick? Does this have something to do with what happened in London?"
"No, no. It's just and old man being silly." He smiled at her and she smiled back and everything seemed a little bit lighter. She was still here, so alive, so beautiful, so compassionate. And so very much loved by him.
"You're not that old," she said and cupped his cheek.
He chuckled. "I'm more than 900 years old, Rose Tyler, you don't think that's old?"
"You're only as old as you feel," she joked. Her hand was still on his cheek and the joking atmosphere changed. There was some kind of tension between them tonight and the Doctor really wanted that gone. And there was one way to do that.
Rose seemed to have gotten them (the) same idea as they leaned closer to each other at the same time. He could feel anticipation spreading through him, the moment he had been waiting for since he had taken her hand. A chance to kiss a fully conscious Rose Tyler. His hand went to her waist. They were so close now…
"Excuse me, young lady and sir," a voice suddenly said. The Doctor and Rose broke apart and looked at the newcomer. It looked human, except from the giant ears and the long antenna in its forehead. The Doctor quickly recognized it as a Gizatha. "I was wondering, if you would like your picture taken?"
"Em, sure, why not?" the Doctor said. Rose beamed at him as he put his arms around her. He could not help but smile back at her and that was how they looked. Two people smiling madly at each other, him trying desperately to hide how much he loved her, even though he was sure it was obvious.
"Here you are." The Gizatha said and handed it to Rose. "And one for you, sir." The Doctor took the photograph and saw what he had feared. Yes, the most feared being in the Universe had been reduced to looking like a lovesick puppy when he was with his human companion. He felt himself blushing slightly. Oh, and now he was blushing, great. Perfectumondu…Oh, he was never, ever using that word again. Perfectumondu, really?
"I'm going to get something to drink," Rose said, still gazing at the picture. "Do you need anything?"
"No, not right now. You go ahead." She smiled before moving back inside.
"Doctor," the Gizatha said as soon as she was out of earshot. "I know how you feel about her."
The Doctor stared at the Gizatha. He had completely forgotten they were psychic, and due to how… distracting Rose had been, he had completely forgotten to put his shields back up. He mentally swore.
"There is no need for that language, Doctor. I am just here to tell you, that you should tell her soon. A storm is coming in your direction, and you cannot escape it. She will die, Doctor. You cannot stop this, not with the other Time Lords gone. Only they could have brought her back from where she is going. I am sorry, I am so very sorry, Doctor." And with those words the Gizatha walked away, leaving a staring Time Lord behind.
Right, Gizathas did have a reputation for being mysterious, but this was too much. He was already stressed out by the Beast and the London Olympics and now this guy comes by too? They all said the same thing: Rose was going to die, Rose was going to be gone from his life soon. He would not allow it to happen. Maybe he should take her back home to Jackie. Nothing bad could possibly happen there… well, except the Jackie Tyler slap. Or, even worse, Jackie Tyler's kisses. He had learned to fear them the last time he had taken Rose home. Horrible, they were.
"Doctor, are you going to stand here all night?" Rose was back, smiling happily like nothing bad could happen to them. He smiled back at her, trying to ignore the stabbing feeling in his gut.
"Oh no, that would be terribly boring. How about we go and dance some more?" the Doctor said and held out his hand to her.
"Of course, Sir Doctor, I would never turn down such a tempting offer." Together they walked back inside, waiting for what their future would bring them.
They didn't know how little time they had left before they would be torn apart. They didn't know he would have to burn up sun to tell her goodbye, but still never get to tell her how he felt. That a white wall would soon be between them. And that three hearts would soon be broken into pieces.