Rose sat the large mahogany desk in her bedroom. She had a book open in front of her, and she was scribbling onto the blank page. This book was her diary. She always kept diaries growing back, but this one meant the most. She bought it after the Battle of Canary Wharf. Whenever she felt down or felt like she needed to vent, she would write, and then she would feel considerably better than before.
John knocked twice on the doorframe to get her attention.
"Hey, Rose, are you busy?" He asked. "Pete has some paperwork he wants me to do, and we're all out of tea and bananas. Would you mind going down to the store and getting some?"
Rose finished up writing, placed her diary on the shelf, and got up from her seat.
"Sure," she said. "Be back soon." She kissed him softly before grabbing her coat and keys and leaving the mansion.
John smiled after her, but he knew something was wrong. He had been with her long enough to know that. He just had to breathe the same air and he knew. He shook his head, bringing his piles of paperwork to the desk. He sat down, a pen in his hand. He was about to get to work when he remembered he didn't have the address of the organization's headquarters.
He scoured the shelf in search of the address book. He knew it had to be here somewhere. This is where he and Rose kept it. He eyed each book until he came upon a mysterious, leatherbound book Rose had just placed on the shelf. They had considered getting a bigger address contacts book, and he was fairly certain he had never seen this book before. Pulling it from the shelf, his fingers fumbled, dropping the book to the floor. It landed with the cover parted, pages settling on a scribed page. He reached down to scoop it up when some of the writing immediately caught his eyes.
He's not Him, the title said.
John's eyes narrowed, picking up the book to get a closer look. There was something written in what was, unmistakably, Rose's handwriting.
I have been keeping more and more contact with the Doctor. You know, two hearted Doctor, who I traveled with for quite some time. I miss him. I miss him so much. He showed me so much, and I miss all that. I love John, I truly do, but he's not him. He's not as adventurous or as hyper. He's not my Doctor. He's doing the things the Doctor was terrified of doing, living in a house and all that. He's very domestic, and I don't want that. I want adventures. I want aliens! I miss hearing double heartbeats when I lay against his chest. The TARDIS growing outside won't be my TARDIS. She's not my TARDIS, and he's not my Doctor. And… I really don't know. I'm so confused. Well, I feel I've ranted enough. Til next time.
John's eyes widened as he read the passage-three times in total. He couldn't stop his eyes from scanning the page, part of him determined to believe he had read the words wrong. The passage wasn't even that old-about a month or so to date. He nearly dropped the book, staring in disbelief down at it in his hands. A hand ran over his face as he felt his heart sink to his feet.
Everything he and Rose had worked towards-every little step progress to get them where they were. Was it all for nothing? John paced the room for several minutes before looking over at the book again, deciding to thumb through it to see the other entries. A thought stopped him. This was Rose's diary. This was territory he was never meant to cross. But a part of him urged him to continue. He allowed himself one more page, feeling his throat tighten as his world seemed to close in around him in that room.
"Hey!" Rose called. She was downstairs in the kitchen, taking the tea and bananas out of the grocery bags and placing them on the counter. "I just came back! You want me to fix you a cup of tea?"
John stood by their bedroom window, the diary now resting on the bed behind him. The sun was setting, the dimming sunlight reflected on his face, expression of a man whose world had just been flipped upside down. His arms were crossed tightly, as if to keep his heart from leaping from his chest. If it was even there anymore. Those diary entries had torn his heart straight from his ribcage, leaving a hollow gap in its place. At the sound of Rose's, he said nothing. His throat was too tight to let any words through.
She took his silence as his way of saying he was too busy with his paperwork, so she just went ahead and made tea anyway.
She came up upstairs with a cup of tea and plate with cut up bananas on it.
"Hi, I brought you something!" She smiled hugely, setting the mug and plate on the desk. Her smile melted away when she caught sight of his somber face. "Are you okay?"
John shut his eyes tight for a moment before turning slightly, though still not meeting her eyes. As he spoke, his tone became more biting and bitter. "Depends. Define okay. If okay means wondering what if I eve matter, what I'm even doing here anymore… then sure, I'm perfectly okay." He turned towards her then, his voice breaking off as he looked down at the book on the bed.
"John, what?" Rose flinched from his tone. She followed his gaze, finally seeing her diary before her. "What is that doing there? John…" She hated to think he would invade her privacy.
"I thought it was the address book. Instead of addresses of our contacts, it showed me someone I thought I knew. But clearly, they're as much as a stranger to me as some of the people in the proper contact book." He paused, feeling his mind begin to race, his control slipping. "When were you going to tell me about that, Rose? About how much of a disappointment I am to you? About…how I'm just a shadow of the man, of the life you really want?"
Rose looked up into his face, her eyes wide at his anger. "You're not a disappointment to me!" She screamed. "Excuse me for having feelings like any other normal person would have! It wasn't anything I ever wanted to tell you! It was nothing. It's not like I'm going to jump dimensions to be with him! I'm here." She gestured to the area around her. "With you!"
"Yeah," he said, voice hoarse, "but clearly this isn't the way you want it to be. Not your Doctor, not your TARDIS. Am I right?" He shook his head, feeling his emotions threatening to overtake him. He suddenly strode across the room, grabbing his coat from the closet, and heading out the door without another word.
Rose ran after him, tears in her eyes.
"John!" She yelled. "Where are you going?"
When he reached the stairs, John looked back over at her, voice wavering slightly, "Don't wait up." With that, he headed down the stairs to the parking lot where his TARDIS was waiting patiently. The one place where he could take refuge, the one place he could always count on when he had nowhere else to go. Inside, he leaned against the console, staring up the rotor as the ship hummed comfortingly around him.
Rose couldn't believe what had just happened. She put her head against the shut door, letting her feelings take over her. She sobbed loudly. Did John just expect her to forget about the two-hearted man who had stolen her heart long ago? She turned on her heel to their bedroom, where she flopped against the bed and cuddled up against her pillows.
John, feeling completely heartbroken, flew the TARDIS to a nearby pub after nearly an hour of just sitting around.
"Just give me the stiffest drink you've got," he somberly told the bartender.
"Here you are, mate," he said, pushing him the glass. "You alright there?"
"I'd rather not talk about it." John sat at the far end of the bar, sipping away at his drink, his expression grim and his eyes red.
After a couple of drinks, he rose to pay his tab and head to Jake's, whom he considered his best mate from Torchwood. He knew he could rely on his opinions, his advice. He was a good man.
John got back into the TARDIS and flew her to Jake's flat. He knocked at Jake's door, letting out an uneven breath to try and stay collected in front of his mate.
John balanced on the balls of his feet, waiting for Jake. A few moments later, the door opened.
"Hey, John!" Jake said. "What brings you here? Oh, please, don't tell me Pete wants us to do more work. I'm still exhausted from that last mission." He stopped, studying his friend's face. "Blimey, you look awful! Here, come in." He opened the door and ushered John in. "Do you want anything? Water, something to eat?"
John shook his head as he entered, not quite meeting Jake's eyes as he ran his hand through his hair from what seemed like the hundredth time tonight. "No, I'm fine," he slurred slightly as he went to sit down. "Just having one helluva night. Look… mind if I crash here tonight? I really shouldn't fly the TARDIS."
"No, I don't mind," Jake said, looking at his friend with concern. "Be right back." He fished out a pillow and a blanket out of the hallway cabinet. "Here." He tossed them to John. "How much have you had tonight? You're not one to drink, John."
"Not nearly enough," John murmured, running his hands over his face. "And I think tonight is a perfect time to start."
"John, you're my best mate, and I can tell you don't need any more to drink. I'm sorry, but I'm not giving you anyway."
John just stared at the carpet, leaning forward with his elbows on his knees. He was silent for a few moments. "I'm quitting Torchwood," he finally said. "I haven't got a purpose here anymore."
"What?" Jake exclaimed. "What the hell are you talking about?"
"I've been wasting my time. Trying to convince everyone I'm the same man that saved their lives a dozen times. Even Rose. I thought her and I…" He trailed off, throat tightening at the thought of Rose and her diary entries. "I thought she had finally come to see me as the man she'd fallen in love with all those years ago, and more."
Jake stared at John, confusion on his face. "I… I don't understand," he said. "What happened between you two?"
"She's been lying to me, Jake. Keeping secrets." He shook his head slightly, a cold gleam to his eyes. "I found her diary by accident." He didn't need Jake thinking he was snooping. "There were entries about how she misses the Doctor. About how I'm not enough. Not him." He smiled bitterly. "I've been nothing but a disappointment to her."
Jake was silent for a moment or two. "Maybe this isn't my place to say, but don't you think if it bothered her that much, she would have left a long time ago? I mean, you guys have a kid, and you're married." He couldn't wrap his mind around the idea that Rose was disappointed in John.
"Maybe she feels trapped. I dunno. She's not comfortable. Otherwise, she wouldn't be writing these things. This isn't the life she wants."
"Do you know how long she's been writing these entries?"
"The whole time we've been together. They started after I was left here… then there was a break…but it started again a few weeks ago. The last entry expressing those feelings was only about a month ago."
"So what now?" Jake asked. "You're just going to up and leave? It's not my place, so I'm neither going to encourage nor discourage you from going back." Deep inside, though, he thought John was being a bit rash.
"I can't stay here," John said. "Not if she doesn't want me. She's the reason I'm here, Jake. To live the life we've both always wanted. To spend my life with her. But if I'm not giving her the life she wants, after all this time, why am I here?" He sighed.
"I don't know what to say, John, but I know Rose. And believe me, she loves you. You can just… stay here until you make a decision."
"Cheers," John said sadly. He leaned back, resting his head on the wall behind the couch. Maybe he should call Rose. Maybe all they needed was to talk things through. At any rate, he couldn't trust his judgment tonight. He would sleep on it and make his decision in the morning. John curled up on the sofa, pulling the blanket over him, and resting his head on the pillow.
"Night then," Jake said. "Wake me if you need anything." He clicked off the lights on his way to his bedroom. "Keep away from the liquor cabinet, or I'll punch you."
John groaned in response, rolling onto his back to stare up at the ceiling through the darkness. He dozed off quickly from the affects of the alcohol. He awoke the next morning, uncertain at first where he was, but soon his memories of the previous night returned and he almost wished he hadn't woken up.
Jake was already up and in the kitchen, cooking some breakfast by the time John woke up. "Here's some tea for that nasty hangover you've probably got. Oh, hold on. My phone's going off." Jake reached into his pocket. "Hello? Oh, hey, Rose." John's eyes perked up at the sound of her name. "Yeah, he's here. Hold on for a second." He put the phone to his chest. "John, what do you wanna do?"
John took a slow sip from his tea, listening to John at the phone, heart hammering in his chest. He placed the mug on the table, ran his hand over his face before looking back at Jake. He said with only a hint of confidence, "let me talk to her."
Jake handed over the phone. "It'll be fine," he mouthed. "Don't worry."
John smiled slightly, taking the phone from his hands. He leaned against the doorframe of the kitchen, putting the phone to his ear. "Rose?"
It took Rose a few moments to find her voice. "Hi, John," she said softly.
"You found me," was all he could say, trying to keep his voice level. What else could he say? He glanced at Jake, thankful he had such a good friend to lean on.
"Yeah, I figured you… you might've went to Jake's." She sighed deeply. She tried to keep herself composed, but she found herself taking deep breaths to halt her tears.
John heard her breaths on the other end of the phone and his heart leapt into his throat. He swallowed hard, fighting back emotion of his own. "Listen, I've told Jake I'm quitting Torchwood. Maybe take the TARDIS and do a bit of traveling. But, you know, that depends."
"On what?" She asked.
"On you. On… if there's a reason I should stay."
She gulped. "John, you can't leave. But, really, I wouldn't blame you if you did. I am a horrible person. I don't deserve you. Really, take David too. Horrible mother, I'd be."
At the sound of their son's name, tears gathered in his eyes. He turned away from Jake, not wanting him to see him upset. He went into the office, sitting at the desk. "I couldn't take David away from you, Rose. He needs his mother. But… I need him." He rubbed his eyes. "Just tell if I've been wasting my time. Be honest with me." He paused, forcing the next words out. "Are you married to me… or are you married to the Doctor? This other life, you crave so badly?"
"I miss that life, yes, desperately. But, I don't regret a thing. I love you. And I'm sorry. I'm married to you, John, only you."
John was silent for a long moment, unable to stop a tear from sliding down his face. "Why would you write all that then? About missing the old life and being disappointed in the fact I'm not him if you were so happy with me and our life?" He asked.
"It overwhelms me sometimes, John!" Rose shouted. "I still can't grasp my mind around it all! The only way for me not to snap is to write it down. I… never intended on acting on those thoughts. Maybe you should've read the last page of my diary."
He had opened his mouth to retort when she hit him with that last sentence. He furrowed his brows, thinking he had read all of the entries up to the present day. "What do you mean?" He asked.
"The diary has about five hundred pages," Rose explained. "I've written about one hundred. On the last page, I wrote something there. Every time I felt as if I needed to vent, I looked to the last page. It says, "I'm horrible. I have this wonderful life, and here I am acting like I don't. John has given me so much. He has given me so much the Doctor can't. He means the world to me, and sometimes, I think I don't deserve him. Just please, don't let me screw this up." I'm not saying this justifies anything I've done because it doesn't." She bit down on her lip, wishing she wasn't so stupid.
When she had finished, John ran his hand through his hair, feeling more tears sliding down his cheeks. This wasn't what he wanted-to leave Rose behind, to leave their son behind. He needed them, so badly it hurt. He was silent before asserting softly, emotion heavy in his voice, "One hundred pages to one doesn't seem like a very good ratio to me, Rose."
She put her hand on her face, wiping the tears away. "God, that's not that's written there, John! I write about Torchwood, my friends, my family!" She yelled, angry that he thought every entry in her diary was about her craving the Doctor.
John sighed, rubbing his eyes again. "This is your call, Rose. Tell me what you want me to do. Consult your little diary and tell me- should I stay or should I go?"
"I don't want you to leave," Rose said softly, pressing her head against the doorframe, unable to keep her emotions in. "I don't want you to go, John! Please…" She cried.
John hung up the phone and left it on the desk. He stared at it for a few moments before running back to the living room. "I've got to go," he told Jake. "Cheers for letting me stay." He patted Jake on the shoulder before grabbing his jacket and leaving out the door. He went back to his ship, landing a short time later in the driveway of the mansion. He had made his decision… he just hoped he wasn't making a mistake.
He hesitated to knock on the door, finally rapping his knuckles against it and taking a small step back.
Rose opened the door, and she took no moment at all in throwing her arms around his neck and burying her head into his shoulder.
John stood there for a moment before slowly winding his arms around her in return, holding her close to him as he rested his head on her shoulder. His throat tightened at being able to hold her again, though he was still hurt. After a long moment of silence, he murmured into her shoulder, "I'm sorry."
She swallowed the lump that was in her throat. It hurt her that he was apologizing when he did nothing wrong. "No, I'm sorry," she cried. "God, John, I'm so sorry. I'm such an awful person. Please, don't leave me," she begged.
"I couldn't…" He pulled away slightly, bringing a hand to her cheek and wiping her tears with his thumb as his eyes welled up once again. "But it's not worth hanging around if I'm just the ghost of someone else."
She shook her head. "You're not him. You're your own person, and I still love you." She gently stroked his cheekbones. "I love you so much."
John pulled her into his arms again, just needing to hold her, to feel that security and reassurance that everything was going to be alright. "I love you, too. More than anything."
"Let's go inside." She took his hand and led him back inside the mansion. "David's upstairs in his crib, if you want to see him. I'm going to clean myself up. I'm a mess." She laughed, pointing to her disheveled hair and running mascara.
John nodded, reaching for her hand before she could walk away. "Hey… c'mere." He leaned over to press a kiss to her lips, feeling the lump in his throat. Facing Rose was one thing, facing their son was another. When he pulled away, he let her go to their bedroom while he went to the nursery. David shifted, as if sensing his father was here. John smiled softly, feeling his heart in his throat once again.
"Hey you," he said softly, lifting his son into his arms and pressing a kiss to the infant's head. "I'm home, Davy. Don't you worry, alright? I'm not going anywhere."
Rose appeared in the doorway, her hair brushed and her makeup washed off. She smiled softly. "We sure did miss you, John. Don't face Mum for a while, though. She's a bit angry."
"When doesn't that woman want my head on a platter?" He gently set David back in his crib and watched him fall back asleep before turning back to his wife. "I've only been gone a night, but it feels like a year."
"It feels a lot longer than that, actually." She grabbed a lock of her hair and started running her hands over it.
He looked back at David again before leaving the room, closing the door quietly behind him. "Let's let him sleep."
"Yeah." Rose went back into the bedroom, sitting down at the edge of the bed.
John slowly came to join her, plopping on the edge beside her. With a soft sigh, he slipped out of his jacket and trainers. "If it's alright with you, I'm going to take a nap. I didn't sleep too well last night."
"Go ahead," she said, crawling onto the bed to rest her head on the pillow. "I didn't either."
John came to lay beside her, watching her for several long moments before letting his eyes fall closed, hand reaching out for hers just to remind himself that she was still there, still with him.
When he awoke about an hour later, the sunlight from midmorning peeked through the window. He groaned, opening his eyes.
"Hi," Rose said, cuddling up against him.
John smiled softly, and gods, did it feel good to do so, after all that heartache. "Hey. Sleep well?"
"Yeah, so much better than last night." She reached out to touch his hair.
He nodded, grasping her hand and bringing it to his lips. "The only reason I even got sleep was because of the alcohol. I had a few at a pub before going to Jake's."
She bit down on her lip. "I'm sorry. Jake kept you in place, though. Remind me to thank me."
"Yeah. He's a good man, that Jake." He settled his head against the pillows against, simply watching his Rose. "He wants what's best for us. Which is each other, really."
"I agree," she whispered, pressing her lips to his. She stared into his dark brown eyes, loving him more and more with every passing second.
John gazed at her for a long moment before pressing his lip back against hers, brushing his thumb across her cheek.
"Thank you for coming back to me," she said, feeling her eyes dampen once more.
John pressed another soft kiss to her lips. "Shh. It doesn't matter now. We're trying again. That's what matters."
"I want to stay like this forever."
"Then let's do it." He moved his entire body closer to hers. "Just like this. Forever, yeah?"
"Forever," she murmured. "Just like I promised."
John leaned in to kiss her yet again, his lips needing to be close to hers. "I'm holding you to that promise, Rose Tyler."
Author's note: Credit to my rp partner on tumblr Johntylersmith for her amazing RP skills.