A/N: Long time 9/Rose and 10/Rose shipper... first time 9/Rose & 10/Rose writer. Woof. All hail the BBC, nothing belongs to me. This is set post-Rise of the Cybermen/Age of Steel. Also hey I am American and this has not been Brit-picked. I am duly ashamed, I promise.
This is not Woman Wept.
There is snow in London, real snow, this time not the ash of an alien race floating softly like many bells down. Instead this is real, actual, frozen water, cloud-spun snow. Rose doesn't remember the last time she felt snow caressing her face, getting stuck in her hair.
Actually, she can remember. But that was that snow, alien snow, and this is Earth snow. Completely different, he assures her, although it all looks and feels the same to her. So she remembers the fluffy white glitter on the fur edge of her hood while she held his hand under the towering frozen waves of Woman Wept, but she can't remember the last time she saw Big Ben wearing his own fuzzy white cap.
The Doctor, this Doctor, has brought them back to Rose's original time –"Home!" he says brightly- to see her mother after the disaster of the parallel world. She told Jackie the truth of Mickey's absence within ten minutes of parking the TARDIS in the middle of the sitting room, but something about her mother's typical solution of emotional healing through a good cuppa had just put Rose right off.
She took one look at the Doctor happily sipping from his cup –his actual cup, one that Jackie had put aside for just his use on their visits- and had bolted out the front door of the flat. It was so domestic. She's terrified that this is it, he's going to look around and realize she's too close and it's time to leave her. And she can't handle that right now. She just can't.
She was across the Estate and on the number 6 bus in what felt like time travel.
She left the bus near what used to be Henrik's, on autopilot. It wasn't until she found herself reaching for the door of the boutique that now sat in Henrik's place that she snapped out of her daze. She dug her endlessly ringing phone out of her jacket pocket and pressed the power button down until the jaunty tune abruptly switch off and a cheery "Goodbye!" sung out of the device. It wasn't until the rush of the crowd reached her ears that she noticed how long the ringer must have been going off.
She wandered aimlessly then, taking familiar roads and occasionally turning down a disused side street whenever her feet pointed her toward one. Her mind was blank, firmly staying away from any thoughts about the TARDIS being gone when she gets back. It was grey outside, and bitterly cold. Her jacket wasn't quite up to protecting her from the wind ripping through the fabric. She bundled it closer, absent-mindedly, for she had just emerged from an alley and there across the road was the bank of the Thames.
Despite her mood, Rose couldn't help but smile. Yes, the skies were a gloomy grey and if she looked down, the snow was more slush than fluff, but the view she was taking in looked just like something out of a childhood dream of a White Christmas.
Snow covered the two benches across the high road, and graced the steeples and peaks of Parliament and Big Ben across the river. It all looked peaceful, serene. Not quite as majestic as the vistas of the alien worlds the Doctor delighted in showing her, but somehow just as beautiful in its own right.
This is not Woman Wept, with its soaring, flash-frozen waves and shining, turquoise mirror ice. But it was London, and it was snowing, and it was beautiful.
Rose crossed the road and seated herself on one of the two benches, snuggling down into her jacket and stuffing her hands into her pockets. The phone is still off, and she doesn't want to think about the multiple messages she is sure are piling up in her inbox.
Doesn't want to think about who will have left more, the Doctor or her mother.
Her chilled fingers slip off the phone, landing instead on another item in her pocket, a smooth rock. Her fingers curl around it naturally, the round stone bringing her comfort. It is why she keeps it in her pocket, something to grip on to when her hand is empty and cold. When they are not together.
He (the old he, she thinks. Or the same he, or the different he; she's not always sure, and sometimes it changes in her head. Complicates your tenses, time travel, the old he told her once) gave the stone to her. Kicked it from the ice on that frozen weeping planet, the ice no impediment to his steel-toed boots.
"Here," a Northern voice whispers in her memory. "Souvenir. It's just a rock, but it's smooth. Worn down by time, not a small feat on this planet. It's old, I reckon. Stuck in this ice for hundreds of years, maybe a thousand. Since the water froze. And now you've saved it. Only bit of this world that survives the storm and warms up again, how 'bout that?"
She thought she knew what they were really talking about, out there in the snow.
He grinned that manic smile at her, bright blue eyes stark in the winter landscape.
There is no water on this planet; it was all frozen in some alien technical mumbo jumbo ages ago –so why does she feel like she's drowning?
"Use it as a worry stone, yeah?" He murmurs, gaze focused on her completely. "I had one once –very useful, a worry stone is. Mind you, I had a real Worry Stone. Looked a bit like this, but actually took your worries away. They mined them at -" a long pause here "-at home. It's always nice to have a bit o' home around, but I lost it a while back. Can't get another one any more o'course, but this will do for you just fine."
So she's carried it in her pocket –whichever pocket- since Woman Wept. She worries at it, like he suggested. When she can't find him, when they've been captured, when she is terrified but determined to help him. When she's thinking of him, either him, every him. When she can't help but feel the most amazing things about this Time Lord, good and bad things, she worries them into the stone in her pocket, rubbing concentric circles into an alien rock almost like from his lost world, and he gave it especially to her.
But now the slick, polished edge of the rock unsettles something deep inside her, and her hand is shaking inside her pocket. She realizes it's shaking in anger. In rage. The rock is clenched tightly in her fist and god she is so mad at him she can't believe he just keeps trying to leave her and he actually left Mickey and he promised-
And she knows what will make her feel better in this moment. She looks out across the choppy grey waters of the Thames and can feel the stress of her knuckles around the stone and she knows –she knows she would feel so much bloody better if she just lifted her hand and chucked the rock into the swirling water below.
It's even a round stone, flat-ish on the bottom and would probably skip a few beats across the water.
She would feel so much better.
Her fingers bring the stone out into the cold air, still clutched tight around it. It's so small it can't even be seen around the grip of her palm. And she is so stupid it begins to make her sick. She has literally –literally!- carried around a burden, a symbol of her feelings for almost a year now. Tucking it in her pocket by day, never not-knowing where it is at night, obsessing over every word or look he has given her since she stood under those damn waves holding a hand he doesn't even have anymore.
He's not here anymore, either, and the new (same, different, Londoner, pretty) one will hardly know if she's not carrying some lumpy souvenir around like a prize lotto ticket anymore. Not like he'd care either. This one is all pinstripes and French women and wither and die. At least with blue eyes and ears and leather she was reasonably sure he at least liked her. But that Doctor is gone, no matter what this Doctor says. So it's time to let him go.
It was only ever just a stupid rock anyways, and she was only ever just a stupid shop girl caught up in the whirlwind that was the Doctor's life. He's going to leave her soon –"Home!" he says brightly in her memory, like he's excited to be going there and that's a titanic-sized hint. He doesn't do domestic. He wants her to go home. He wants to let her go. He's been pushing and pushing for weeks. Months. So she's got to let go first.
And so she's going to throw it in. The dumb rock and the dumb hope that she had worried into its gleaming surface.
She stands, feet crunching through the untouched snow, making her way to the stone guardrail between her bench and the frigid water. She ignores the cold that seeps into her hand as she grips the short, snow-covered wall with her left hand and swings the right arm back. She has to do this.
This is not Woman Wept. Won't ever be Woman Wept again.
Rose takes a deep breath, relishing the painful gust of cold air forced into her lungs, and releases her arm.
A palm slaps down around her hand, clenching her fingers together over the stone. Long, familiar digits wrap around her fist, tugging her arm back down and turning her whole body to the side. She looks down at the slush-stained cream trainers in the snow, much more yellow than usual against pure white on the ground.
His other hand tips her chin up gently, and his chocolate eyes search hers carefully. The he eyes her fist, his face skeptical. A Southern voice whispers in her reality, "What's all this, then?"
"Oh, this?" She's going to play it off as nothing. She's going to pretend –she's very good at it, really. Learned from the best. "Just skipping stones. Water's perfect."
He looks at the choppy, rolling water. He looks at her. The water. Her.
She very carefully keeps a perfectly straight face.
"Okay," he sighs, squeezing and then releasing her hand. "Sounds like fun."
Her fingers uncurl slightly as the pressure of his digits abruptly disappears.
And quick as that he's snatched the stone from her slightly numb fingers and is arching his arm back and back and he's laughing and releasing his arm and Rose shrieks.
"NO!" She lunges, grasping at his pinstriped arm in a vain attempt to pull it back down. He can't. He can't can't can't. It's hers, hers to let go and hers to keep and hers to whatever with and just definitely not his. "Stop, Doctor, you can't!"
He blinks in surprise, lowering his arm. She claws the stone out of his palm, weak sunlight glinting off the green surface and just like that he knows what it is. She can tell. Mostly because his fingers go limp and the stone thumps into her palm again. He also lets out a squeak she'd tease him about if she weren't so bloody mad at him right now.
"Rose! That's your worry stone. What're you doing throwing it into the Thames?" He looks flabbergasted. She has never even see someone look flabbergasted, thought it was just something people wrote about but never actually knew what it meant. But he is definitely flabbergasted. His mouth flaps about a bit, and then remembers syllables. "It's not like I can just drain the Thames to get it back. Throw some of these instead," he bends and scoops up a handful of snow and gravel, tries to shove the lot into her other fist.
It's clenched too tightly for him to open. She thinks that's when he realizes she's in a towering temper.
Or maybe this is when.
"I will bloody throw whatever I like into the bloody Thames!" She hisses, turning away from him again and moving back to the railing. She knows it won't feel as good now, not now that he's here to watch her and look hurt, or worse, confused. But she's going to do it just to prove her point. She's stubborn like that and they both know it.
And then he surprises her for the millionth time since Henrik's basement.
"Well then let me get mine, at least. We'll toss them both together. Can't let a good worry stone go off on it's own. All that worry is bound to need a friend to complain to. No, that's worry warts, isn't it? Anyways, give me two ticks, pockets bigger on the inside, who knows where it's got off to, yeah?" He digs both hands down into the coat Janis Joplin gave him, jumping up and down a bit and generally looking like a right nutter.
"You've got a worry stone, too?" The words have slipped out of her mouth without any permission from her brain. She can almost see them travel out her lips and on the freezing breeze into his head. She cringes.
"Oh, course I do!" He grins, dancing about a bit more. "Lots to worry about, I've got. Space. Time. Planets. Jackie Tyler's fighting hand. Bananas! Whether I've left the stove on in the past, present, or future. The fourth Ralcatigoun Peace Brokerage of gamma slash apricot slash seven. Eureka!" He pulls his left fist out of his pocket, something white and vaguely glittering poking out around his palm. He suddenly turns the full force of his gaze on her, crowding subtlety closer to her and grabbing at her still-locked fists. "You."
He grinned that boyish smile at her, chocolate eyes wide and dark against the winter landscape.
There is water on this planet. A fair amount of it, actually. There's even a whole river right next to her, and frozen crystals of it caught in his eyelashes and crusted on her trainers. But none of it's anywhere near her lungs. So why does she feel like she's drowning?
"What?" She manages, and then promptly blushes as the stupidest thing she could have possibly said seems to ring in her ears.
"You, Rose Tyler," He rolls her name around in his mouth, like the old him did every time he said it. The way he rarely does anymore. "Practically need a whole worry stone just for you." She's having trouble remembering that this isn't Woman Wept. She's having a hard time being angry at all. "You are quite a bit to worry about. Jeopardy friendly, I've told you. And always bringing home the strays. And apparently always throwing away my gifts."
He coaxes her suddenly weak palm open, catching her worry stone as she helplessly watches the action as if from very far away. He's got her stone in one hand, his own in the other. "When did this habit start, hmm? I hope this isn't about the Falcolnton hot water bottle, because I said that was a joke. We laughed. I remember."
Rose sits heavily. Luckily he's maneuvered her back to the bench, somehow. She can't remember when or how. He's sitting next to her and handing her his own worry stone and she can't take her eyes off it. Her fingers clench around it automatically.
"Alien?" She asks quietly, turning it in her fingers. Rose knows it isn't.
"Nope!" the Doctor smiles, fiddling with Rose's stone and watching the grey sunlight twist in the green, obviously alien texture of the rock. "As earthy as Earth can get. Because it's a rock. Earth. Rock. Get it?" He grins proudly, waiting for her laugh.
He'll have to keep waiting. She knows it's an Earth rock. She used to collect rocks just like this, when she was very small. The coarse, white stone is surprisingly light in her grasp. If she twists it just right, small flecks of glitter wink at her from the porous surface. She used to think the glitter was fairy dust, and she'd make Mickey run all over the Estate with her looking for them.
"Where'd you get it?"
He mulls over her question for a moment, obviously debating whether to give her the truth or not. She wonders how he is so easily readable again, just like the old him, the Northern him used to be all the time, for her. It's like a switch has flipped in Rose's brain and all of this –all of him- is familiar again.
"The Estate," he finally admits, quietly. The mood has dramatically shifted. Rose feels like a thousand thoughts are crashing through her mind at the same time. She manages to wonder if that's how he feels all the time.
"Why?" She doesn't mean to play Twenty Questions. But.
The Doctor takes her empty hand, rubbing at her chilled fingers softly. His eyes burn brighter than any sun she has ever seen. He takes in a breath of the frozen air, and on the exhale changes her world again.
"Oh, better to have something connected to what I'm worrying about. And I like that it's pretty ordinary looking, fairly common in most gravel and landscaping mixtures, really. Until…" he twists her fingers around just so, and the fairy dust settled on the rock shimmers beautifully in the grey light. "It's so special, see?" She watches it quietly for a moment. He watches her.
He pauses, fingers stilling over hers. "And it's always nice to have a bit of home with you, yeah?"
She thinks she knows what they're talking about, out here in the snow.
And this is not Woman Wept, but suddenly there is a woman weeping.
Out by the Thames, sitting on a snowy bench a blonde woman sits with a brown-ish sort of man. He's wrapping an arm around her and tugging her to him. They pass something between them, one thing glittering and green and old and strange, and the other white and plain until the sun hits it just so and it lights up with fairy dust. They don't kiss or anything, just a tight hug, because she is weeping and he is not very good at Moments (definitely a capital M there), especially his own.
So this is not Woman Wept.
This is London.
This is home.
A/N: Hey I just wrote this, and this is crazy, but if you review me, I'll stop making Call Me Maybe jokes... maybe.