A/N: So, this is it! I hope you guys enjoy this as much as I've enjoyed writing it! As per usual nothing you recognize belongs to me. I've got a bit in here of Siegfried Sassoon's 'Repression of War Experience,' and a bit of ee cummings' 'i carry your heart [i carry it in]' as well.
Rose has a bedroom on the TARDIS, not that she needs it as they're still stranded in this one, linear timeline, but the Doctor knows the value of personal space even on a ship as large as his. And when she comes with him she will need a place of her own. She's a firecracker, his Rose, and he, well, he's never been good at talking about problems. It's much easier to push them under the rug and let life get on with it but he doubts she will be amenable to that. It never ceases to amaze him how anger can make all the vastness of space seem small.
In the classroom they try for normalcy, but he can't help but notice that she stands closer to him than she would before. He can't help but notice the way her top rides up just enough to expose a sliver of her stomach when she raises her hand to answer a question. She hangs back at the end of class like she normally does and they barely make it into his office before his tie is curled around her fingers and she's pulling his head down for a kiss. He contemplates shagging her on his desk for one delicious moment but the ramifications of being caught, while minimal for him, would be severe for her and he will not risk it. When she presses herself against him his hands itch to touch her and when she is with him the emptiness between his hearts lessens and the silence in his mind is not as loud as when she is gone.
She comes to see him whenever she's not working and they aren't at the school. He ponders blowing up her job when the long silence of the night weighs down on him but eventually decides against it. He isn't sure where this compulsion to copulate has come from; none of his previous bodies suffered from it. He supposes that it could just be a symptom of his rebellious nature manifesting in a previously unknown way, but the timing screams 'biological imperative' and what was that quote from that movie—the one with the dinosaurs? Oh yes: 'life will find a way.' His lip curls as he remembers the blind arrogance of his people. They thought that they were above all the messiness that comes with living, the anger, the jealousy, the hatred; and they sat in their ivory towers while the universe burned until finally they couldn't deny what he'd been saying as long as he can remember—that evil needs to be fought. That what affects the universe affects them, but by then, by then it was too late. It is incredibly ironic that he is the one who survived. His people had always found him lacking, always believed him to be mad or dangerous and occasionally both, no matter how many times they elected him president, but at the slightest sign of trouble they were begging him to come and fix it until finally there was no solution but the final solution.
The scrape of Rose's teeth against the sensitive skin of his neck draws the Doctor into the present. When she pulls back he can see the question in her eyes but she doesn't press. It can't last, this hesitant acceptance, the result of their newness and her insecurity. He can read the signs in the way she flinches sometimes when he surprises her and the way she doesn't talk about the scars on her arm and her chest. Someone hurt her, hurt her badly and that makes him furious, because he loves her fire and steel, her stubbornness and her quick wit. So he shows her every way that he can, with his hands and his lips and his eyes that she is worth so much more than she thinks she is.
They do more than shag, of course. The TARDIS still stubbornly refuses to budge but when Rose is with him his ship opens her doors willingly. It's not optimal, not by any stretch of the imagination, but it's better than nothing. And besides, there will be plenty of time for trips (as she is, after all, a time machine as well as a space ship). Sometimes they wander down the halls together, checking the rooms and looking for places he's lost over the centuries (the Zero room hasn't come back, not since he jettisoned it four regenerations ago). Rose finds his ship endlessly fascinating and the TARDIS, in turn, seems to be inordinately fond of the girl. Often he tinkers. It's second nature now and there's always something that needs fixing. Rose sits on the jumpseat and watches him most times, but occasionally she ventures out by herself, looking for whatever secrets his ship sees fit to reveal.
She always finds something extraordinary. One time it is an authentic, Victorian-era ballroom and of course that leads to a trip to the Wardrobe to find an authentic(ish) dress and a great deal of pouting when he refuses to change out of his jumper and jacket; another day she stumbles into a scale model of the glass pyramid of San Kloon and he adds that to the continually expanding list of Places-to-take-Rose that he has going in his head.
Today he finds her in the gardens. He wanders through the structured, formal section that the TARDIS maintains (this regeneration, while as dexterous as the others have been, is not one for gardening), past the Japanese koi pond and rose bushes that climb their white lattices and the silent serenity of the zen rock garden. For a moment he panics because not even he has seen all the rooms the TARDIS has, and he could search it for probably the rest of his lives and still not find her. His ship humms at him, part amusement and part exasperation, and urges him forward to a door he thought was lost in the destruction and terror of the War.
Two suns shine a smoldering red high in the simulated sky. The atmosphere is thicker than Earth's and the alien elements color it a pale orange. He stands frozen for a moment, unable to walk into the waist-high red grass that blankets the scene. A gentle wind blows through a million shining silver leaves and carries a spicy, earthy scent he never thought he'd find again. The TARDIS pulses in his mind, a warm bundle of worry and compassion underlined by insistence. Rose is inside and he cannot stand in the doorway forever. He blinks back tears that have gathered in his eyes, takes a deep breath to steel himself, and steps inside.
He doesn't have to go far to find her. Twenty or so feet in, the ground begins to slope gently upward into one of the rolling hills that mark the beginning of the mountains that loom off in the distance. Rose is lying on her back, hands cushioning her head, discarded trainers next to her still sock-clad feet. Her eyes are closed and her face is turned towards the suns. The corners of her lips tilt up and her hair spread against the dark loam and red grass shines like spun gold. Iridescent butterflies with wings as large as his hands flutter around her. They pause at the brightly colored flowers that grow mingled with the grasses and ride the warm wind. One of them, especially adventurous, it seems, lands on the tip of Rose's nose. Her lips curve more fully into a smile as she opens her eyes to study it.
"Already picking up admirers?" he asks dryly, his voice purposefully light as he stands above her. The butterfly, startled by his sudden advance, drifts away and Rose sighs in feigned heartbreak. "Not the most constant lover," he notes and lies down next to her, mirroring her position: hands behind his head, ankles crossed, but he leaves his boots on.
"The pretty ones never are," she murmurs.
"Oi!" he objects in mock-outrage. "I'm right here, you know. Tryn' to say that I'm ugly, Rose Tyler?"
She rolls onto her side and cocks her eyebrow at him, disbelief writ large on her face—and then she catches sight of something in his eyes and the teasing falls away. For a long, silent moment she studies him with fierce intensity and he returns her gaze. Something in the mood shifts as she reaches out her free hand and lays it on his cheek. "No," she says finally, "never that. You're not pretty, but you're intense. S'like standing in the eye of a storm, sometimes. Like a hurricane—there's all that destruction going on around and it's terrible but it's beautiful too." The tip of her tongue pokes out through her teeth in the smile that's one part mischief and one part innocence and completely deceptive. "So not pretty, no, but dead sexy."
No one has ever called him sexy before, and he isn't exactly sure how to respond, so he doesn't. She takes his silence to mean—something, and rolls onto her back, arms at her sides. As always, he mirrors her. "What is this place, anyway?"
"I thought it was lost," the Doctor replies softly.
"It's beautiful," Rose offers. It's simple and sincere and there are tears in his eyes again, because he can never go home. He pushes the thought away most of the time, tries to ignore the way that he could never stand the place when it was around, the way that he had no patience for the rest of the stuffy, stiff Time Lords and their backwards, isolationist ideals, the way he could never leave fast enough.
"Gallifrey," he tells her eventually. "It was called Gallifrey."
Rose doesn't reply, but she reaches over and laces her fingers through his and together they lie on a bit of a planet that no longer exists and watch the wind blow through the silver trees and the butterflies dance over a sea of red grass.
A week later they're studying the poets of the Great War and the Doctor and Rose have their first row. He covers it because he has to—the knot in the time lines hasn't resolved yet and the TARDIS still refuses to leave, so for now he needs this job, as much as he hates to admit it. War has always been a touchy subject. He thinks that violence on a whole is a waste, something that happens because people who use weapons end up thinking with their guns and not their brains. Or at least, he used to think that. Now, now he's been a soldier and the words of the men who lived and died and fought and wrote in the trenches speak to him in his blood and bones.
He barely makes it through the lesson. His hands are shaking and when he tries to write on the blackboard he drops the chalk, twice. He knows the kids will talk because kids always do, but that doesn't matter. She matters and he can feel her eyes on him like a weight, pressing down on his shoulders and making it hard to breathe.
The trust in her eyes, the complete and utter faith she seems to possess nearly breaks him, because what has he done to deserve it? She thinks that she knows him, hell, she thinks she's safe when 'with him' is possibly the most dangerous place she could ever be. He told her that people who travel with him get hurt. He told them that sometimes they die. He didn't tell her that sometimes he has to make a choice and that's what kills them. He didn't tell her that he participated in a war that had a death count of over a quadrillion. He didn't tell her that he has unwritten the histories of entire planets, that he has caused entire species to have never evolved, that he has committed genocide, that all the oceans of all the worlds cannot wash the blood off of his hands. (it's bad to think of war, / When thoughts you've gagged all day come back to scare you; / and it's been proved that soldiers don't go mad / unless they lose control of ugly thoughts/ that drive them out to jabber among the trees)
She waits for him after class, like always, and if he was thinking more clearly he would wonder what she tells her mother (if she tells Jackie anything at all) about where she is when she doesn't come home. But all he can see is burning and all he can hear is screaming and the air tastes like ashes and fire. Because he killed them, he killed them all. He killed Leela and Andred and their children and Drax and Romana and Susan, oh Susan. He turned her out of the TARDIS, out of her home with one shoe on her foot and he told himself over and over that he was doing what was best for her, that she would be happy with that David Campbell boy. But none of it mattered in the end because in a flash of silent fire she was quietly unwritten and the universe kept on ticking like it always does, like it always will, long after he and everyone who ever knew him is gone.
His pace quickens; his stride lengthens until he is very nearly running down the street. Rose is forced to jog to keep up with him—and for the first time in a very long while he does not take her hand. He hardly notices her; there are monsters in his head and he cannot stop the screaming.
When they reach his flat the Doctor goes immediately to the TARDIS and lays a hand against the smooth wood of the ship's exterior. Rose shuts the door as quietly as she can. He's always been a bit fragile, a bit broken. It's part of what drew her to him, honestly, a burning desire to light up those stormy blue eyes, but now he's gone cold and aloof and silent and she doesn't know what to do. For a very long moment she watches him lean against the ship, his forehead pressing into the wood and his hand resting next to his face. He is so still that she can't be sure he's even breathing.
"Doctor?" she asks quietly, and receives no response. She lays a tentative hand on his arm and he flinches away from her. Rose tries to tell herself that he's having a bad day, that something has gotten him beyond shaken-up, but it still hurts. "Doctor," she tries again. "What's wrong?"
He can feel the concern radiating from her like heat from pavement on a summer's day. It should be soothing and if this was any other time he would wrap himself in the warmth of her compassion, but today it makes him furious. "Everything," he bites out and pushes himself away from the door. "This whole universe is wrong!"
"I dunno what you mean," she tells him, her voice as calm and soothing as she can make it—but she hates when people take their issues out on her (she gets far too much of that at work, thank you very much) and whatever did this to him, it wasn't her.
"Of course you don't," he scoffs and she bristles. "How could you? Your whole species thinks it's so smart, so evolved." He mutters something that definitely isn't English and doesn't sound like any language Rose has ever heard before. "Stupid apes haven't even figured out gravity yet! But you've figured out war, you have. Well done, you figured out how to kill more people faster—that's progress!"
"Oi!" she snaps. "I didn't do any of that!"
He glares at her. "Haven't tried to stop it though, have you?" She presses her lips firmly together and gives him a look that he's half surprised doesn't light him on fire, but he's hit his stride and this body is so good at righteous fury. "You sit here, well-fed an' clothed an' goin' to a decent school. That makes you royalty an' you should care what happens to this world! Do you even know what's goin' on outside London?"
He tells her. In graphic detail. He tells her about war and pestilence, about corruption and indifference, about greed and cruelty. He shouts when she tries to talk over him and when she claps her hands over her ears and he wouldn't be surprised if one of his neighbors calls the police, but he's too far gone to care. Tears glitter on her cheeks and her eyes are red and swollen and she's shaking, ever so slightly, but he continues on his rant until finally he has run out of horror to pile on her.
Silence stretches between them for a long time. He's starting to come down, the red haze that he was lost in fades as what passes for adrenaline is metabolized. Rose takes a single step forward and he opens his mouth to find the words to apologize, but before he can, her palm connects with his cheek hard enough to snap his head to the side.
"You," she grinds out between clenched teeth. "You are such a bastard." He touches his cheek gingerly. There will be a mark. "I might just be a stupid ape," she snaps, "I might not be some high an' mighty alien, but I'm pretty sure that none of that is my fault."
"Rose," he begins but she cuts him off.
"No." Her voice is hard and brittle. "Not after that. You wanna be alone? Fine. Be alone."
The door slams behind her and he swears that time has stopped because he blinks and twenty minutes have passed, twenty minutes of him staring at the space where she used to be (where she never may be again, a little voice reminds him). Anger flares in the back of his mind, where the TARDIS resides and he doesn't bother to protest. Rose called him a bastard.
He feels a bit like one.
He dreams of burning, of smoke and ash and the end of all things. The field where he and Rose had lain is cracked and bare beneath his feet, stripped of all life. The silver trees are charred and twisted stumps and when the wind blows it brings only the scent of destruction to him. Far in the distance, nestled in the shadow of two enourmous mountains is all that remains of the Capital. The dome is cracked and broken and thick black smoke rises to the heavens to blot out what little he can see of the suns. The air burns his lungs with every breath. Spaceships lie scattered about him, great chasms carved in the dirt from when they crashed down. They are so much scrap, now, just twisted hunks of metal. He wanders for what seems like hours, looking for someone, anyone. He yells until his voice gives out.
There is no response. There is never any response in these dreams. There is only smoke and ash and death—and all of it his fault.
And then he hears the screams. He is off like a shot, running full out (and that's something for a Time Lord) because this is different and it can't be different and please please please let there be someone left someone else please please please let him not be alone. The thoughts circle in his head like vultures and scream like a banshee. They sync up to his heartsbeat and for the first time in so long he has hope.
He forgets that you can't have despair without it.
The cries lead him into the city, into the heart of the destruction. It was beautiful once, grand, stately buildings, delicate spires that seemed to stretch right to the heavens, and the Panopticon in the center, large enough so that you could fit all of Earth's armies into one quadrant. A flash of color in this greyscale world catches his eye and he turns.
She is stretched out on the cracked marble steps of the Panopticon in a mockery of when she had last lain in the garden. Her white dress (purity in some cultures—death in others, two guesses as to which his belongs, and the first two don't count) is smudged with ash and dirt and stained bright, brilliant red over her heart. She is one more victim on Time's altar, sacrificed to the universe. Her eyes are wide and staring and her arm is stretched out towards him. The glint of metal catches his eye and he kneels. Her TARDIS key is clasped loosley in her hand, the silver chain wound around her wrist. He smooths her hair back from her face, closes her eyes, places a single kiss on her forehead—and then he leans back and howls his anguish to the empty sky.
He wakes in a sweat. His throat feels like sandpaper and when he rubs his eyes his hand is shaking. Just a dream, he reminds himself firmly. It's just a dream.
It feels real.
Rose isn't in class the next day, or the day after that, but Shireen Costello is and she gives him a look that makes him wince. The TARDIS hasn't let him in since he yelled at Rose—every time he slides the key into the lock she shocks him and insists that he apologize. He has a feeling that Shireen agrees.
She waits until the classroom empties out at the end of the day, and then stalks up to his desk. He is sorting papers (they're already sorted, they've been sorted, but she doesn't need to know that) in the hopes that she will see he is busy and leave.
She doesn't. Instead, Shireen stands stiffly in front of his desk until he looks up. "Yes, Ms. Costello?" he asks in his best 'bored and arrogant' voice.
"What did you do to Rose?" She glares at him and taps her foot on the floor, clearly expecting an answer.
"I don't know what you're talking about," he replies levelly.
"Bullshit." The words are out of her mouth almost before he's done speaking. "She won't talk to me, she won't talk to her mum, she won't talk to anyone. She didn't even go to work yesterday, an' that's really not like Rose." Shireen crosses her arms over her chest and raises an eyebrow. "So what, you two have a row?"
He blinks at her. She rolls her eyes. "You think I didn't know? Honestly, I dunno how the rest of the class doesn't pick up on it. The two of you are so obvious."
"Yes," he says finally. "Yes, we had a row."
Her eyes linger on the faint red mark that graces his cheek. "She gave you that, then?"
He winces. "Yes."
For some insane reason Shireen laughs. The Doctor doesn't find it particularly amusing. He hasn't touched Rose in two days, hasn't felt the gentle pressure of her emotions and her thoughts on the edges of his consciousness. He crosses his arms over his chest and gives her what Rose always calls his 'dribbled on your shirt' look. Shireen either doesn't notice or doesn't care. "You deserved it," she says after she stops laughing. She chews on her cheek for a while, and then digs out a pen. "But she's miserable right now, and lately she's been—happy. Happier than I've seen her in a long time." She grabs his hand and he frowns at her. "Are you sorry?" she asks.
He is lost. "What?"
Her voice is hard. "Are you sorry for hurting her? Are you going to try not to do it again?" She pauses, pen hovering over his palm. "Do you love her?"
Does he? He's known her for months, has been involved with her for six weeks. Is that enough time to fall in love? He thinks about the way her hands fit in his perfectly, the way her smile makes him feel younger than he has in ages—the way her light brightens the dark corners of his soul and smoothes his rough edges. She's human and young, and fantastic.
"Yes," he says quietly.
Shireen studies him for a moment, searches his face for the truth. She finds what she's looking for, apparently, because she gives a short nod and then scribbles something on his palm. "Be here," she instructs, "at half-past six tomorrow night."
He raises one eyebrow. "An' why would I want to do that?"
Shireen rolls her eyes. "Because I'm gonna tell Rose to meet me there. And then you two can talk." He frowns. She sighs. "Look, Rose won't come to you, not after Jimmy. You gotta go to her. That a problem?"
He's never gone after someone before, never felt the need. People come and then they go, because they grow up, or they move on, or they realize that they don't need him to be fantastic. And people have turned him down—Grace most recently, because it's too dangerous, or too strange, or just not right for them.
He wasn't in love with them, though. "No," he tells her. "No, it's not."
The address Shireen gave him belongs to a club. The Doctor rolls his eyes and flashes the psychic paper and the bouncer waves him through. Inside the music is loud, thunderously loud. It beats against his skull like hammer blows. The lighting is minimal, just enough to illuminate the bar and the dance floor. Red track lighting outlines the booths against the wall and the Doctor takes a seat in the one closest to the door. He orders a drink—nothing here will get him drunk, not unless he drinks a barrel of it, and maybe the potassium in a banana daiquiri will keep his hands from shaking.
Half-past six comes and goes and Shireen and Rose fail to appear. He orders another daiquiri. Maybe Rose has reconsidered. Maybe she's realized that she doesn't need some daft alien with far more baggage than she deserves. Maybe she isn't coming.
Shireen appears at seven-thirty—alone. He is on red alert instantly.
"Where is she?" he demands.
"I don't know!" she replies. Her eyes are wide and frightened. "She was supposed to meet me at my mum's flat, but she never showed. Jackie said she left ages ago!"
I'll be back for you. Jimmy's words ring through his mind with the finality of the Cloister bell.
He breaks into a run.
It takes three and a half seconds to push his way through the press of bodies to the door of the club and fifteen seconds to calculate the route Rose would most likely have taken to get to Shireen's.
And then the world goes wrong. The Doctor staggers into the side of a building as time shifts around him. The tight, delicate knot that he has been monitoring for so long snaps and the ripples aren't ripples. If time is an ocean then this is a tsunami and he is standing on the shore. If he doesn't move, and fast, he isn't going to exist for very long. This world isn't going to exist for very long. The time lines tingle around him, tighten like a noose and it's the war all over again. Whole futures are dissolving and the street wavers around him like a mirage. What in the whole wide universe has the power to do that? People are staring at him. He ignores them and continues to stagger down the street. He has to get to her. He has to find her, he has to.
The Doctor is nearly to Jackie's when the TARDIS screams at him and he freezes. There's something on the ground next to one of the myriad alleys between the housing complexes, something small and shiny against the damp black asphalt. He bends down and picks up—a key. A TARDIS key. Rose's TARDIS key, the one he gave her so that she could get into the old girl whenever she wanted. She'd given him that tongue-touched smile and promptly threaded it onto a necklace she was always wearing—the one with the locket that had a picture of her mum and dad in it. So she wouldn't lose it, she told him, and the gesture had warmed his hearts. The broken chain dangles limply from his hand as he closes his fist around the small bit of metal.
She wouldn't give it up, not willingly. He takes one hesitant step into the relative darkness of the alleyway (superior physiology and all that). Terror runs through his veins like ice water, because he knows what he will find. He tries to rationalize, to deny what he has known since the time lines went to hell—but there's only one reason why she'd give up the key, only one reason why the universe would shake to its foundation. All of the time lines, every single one, had been tied to her and now they hang limp and broken.
The alley smells like rain and garbage, shit and mud, but over it all is the iron tang of blood, fresh blood. He wants to be sick. There's no time for that now, not if the slightest possibility that she isn't—he can't bring himself to think it. He has given the universe everything that he is and let it break both of his hearts, he has died eight times to preserve the time line and right wrongs. For once, just once, the universe can pay out its debt to him.
He finds her curled on her side, lying on the wet, muddy asphalt. One arm is wrapped around her middle, the other is extended, like she is reaching for him. He drops to his knees beside her and his hand goes to her throat and finds—nothing. Her skin is cold and damp from the rain and still beneath his fingers. There is no inhale of breath, no thrum of a pulse. He rolls her onto her back and her eyes, wide and blank, stare up at him. A thin trickle of red drips down from the corner of her lips to her chin and neck. The hand that was clutched to her stomach falls away, revealing a deep, bloody gash. He lays a trembling hand on her cheek and draws in a shuddering breath.
The TARDIS sings a dirge inside his head. Gallifrey burns. Everything ends. Everything dies, but this—this was not supposed to happen. He has seen the future, has seen the promises in the time lines that adored her, and this is wrong. The time lines are scattered, disorganized and threadbare. Where the fourth great and powerful human empire should be there is nothing, a vast emptiness and desolation that spans for thousands of years. The past is changing, shifting, and it grates against him like nails on a chalkboard.
This should not be. All of time cries out against it. "I'll fix it, Rose," he murmurs. "I will."
If his people were here they'd most certainly stop him, possibly forcibly regenerate him for what he is considering—but they're not and she is. He is the only one left, the last of the Time Lords, and the universe is his responsibility. She is his responsibility, and he isn't going to let her go, not without a fight, not without telling her the most important bit (and this is the wonder that's keeping the stars apart / i carry your heart [i carry it in my heart]).
He leaves it lying in the mud and returns to his ship. It's just a body now, everything that made it Rose Tyler has gone, but not for long. He's going to get her back.
The TARDIS is less than pleased. The Doctor can feel her anger buzzing in the back of his skull, but he pushes it to the side when she lets him in. He cannot afford to be distracted. The threat of a paradox, of reapers and the end of the world looms and if he's going to do this, he's got to do it just right. "I know," he tells her as he double-checks his math and triple-checks the coordinates. "I never should have yelled at her, I never should have let her go. And I'm trying to fix it, but I need your help." He stands, hands on the console, head bowed. It is now or never. The last time he was in this room she was with him—they made tea and took it on the jumpseat and he showed her how he'd fixed the holographic projector. A buzz of the sonic screwdriver and the entire room became the night sky; he showed her planets and stars and everywhere he wanted to take her. She'd looked at him with those eyes, that smile that said that he was so impressive, and he'd made love to her, long and slow and still not in the bed but he'd thought that they had ages.
The Doctor does nothing by halves, and when he is wrong he is wrong.
The lights flicker and the Time Rotor whirrs and hums and the TARDIS shakes. His brain is awash in trepidation, his and hers, but she is with him and she will do everything she can to help him bring Rose back. It's a short trip, less than an hour back in time and less than a mile in space (of course they're really the same thing but humans are just now getting that). His hearts are pounding and the strain on the time lines is astronomical. It's making him nauseas, but that could just be his body reminding him that he hasn't bothered to wash her blood off of his hands.
The TARDIS shudders once more and then stills. He checks the viewscreen—it's the right place, and close to the right time. In less than an hour Rose Tyler will walk into that alley. He strides out into the night. It's cold and still drizzling enough to annoy him. He shoves his hands into the dimensionally transcendent pockets of his leather jacket and leans against the rough brick wall of the alley. It's the same one, he realizes, in which he confronted Jimmy Stone the last time. He tips his head back and closes his eyes, lets the rain drip down his face to hide the burning tears he can't control.
"Doctor?" A soft voice pulls him from his thoughts. Rose Tyler is standing in the alley with the harsh glare of a streetlight spilling over her shoulder. She's wearing far too much eye makeup and the dress she's wearing looks more like a shirt that was a bit too long and she's got highly impractical heels on—but she's alive, and she's here, and she's gorgeous. She is also not exactly pleased. He pushes away from the wall and takes a step towards her. Rose crosses her arms over her chest, a move which pushes her breasts into better view and frowns. "Shireen," she says, annoyance making her voice sharp. "I shoulda known."
"I know you're angry," he says. His voice is level and that's a major victory, what with the way his emotions are ricocheting around his skull. He's never been the best at bioregulation, but this is ridiculous. "An' you've got every right to be, an' you can yell at me all you want—but in the TARDIS." He motions behind him. "She's finally ready to fly."
Rose watches him warily. She shifts her weight to her other foot and the light from the streetlamp glints off of metal around her neck. His key hangs between her breasts, next to her heart. That's a good sign, right? It has to be. "All right," she says finally. He grins at her and she holds up a hand. "But there's gotta be some rules, yeah? You can't just yell at me every time you're sad or angry, especially if it's not my fault."
"I won't," he assure her. "I'll try not to," he amends when her eyebrow rockets toward her hairline. "Rose, I'm—I'm not very good at this. And my people, they didn't do this sort of thing."
"Yeah," she replies dryly, "beginning to see that." He flashes her a wounded look and she rolls her eyes, but she walks towards him and when he puts out his arms she hugs him. He's shaking, he realizes as he buries his nose in her hair. She notices too and she tries to pull away but he tightens his grip on her. "Doctor," she asks again. "What's wrong?"
He releases her only to fumble for his key. "Nothing," he replies, but he knows that she can see the shadow in his eyes, can hear the lie in his voice. "Now? Nothing at all." He shoves open the door and pulls her into the TARDIS. "All of time and space, Rose Tyler," the Doctor tells her. "Everywhere and anywhere—so where do you want to start?"
Time is slotting back into place. The time lines twine together, dance in her eyes and across her skin and the hum of the TARDIS is relaxed and joyful. This, this is how it should be. She studies him and he knows that he hasn't gotten out of any explanations, that this is only a delay (and a rather short one at that) but he will take what he can get. And later, there will be time for explanations. They have all the time in the world.
A slow smile spreads her lips and mischief sparkles at him out of those deep, dark brown eyes. "You have a bedroom on this ship?" she asks, her voice light and teasing.
His own answering smile could outshine the sun. "Could do, yeah."
She links her arm through his. "Let's see the bedroom then."
"Your wish is my command," he murmurs, and brushes her lips with his own. She is here and he is here and it is Rose Tyler and the Doctor in the TARDIS—as it should be.