Six Times the Doctor held Rose Tylers Hand.
And one time he didn't. ( 10xRose edition)
How long had it been for her? He'd been sending his voice out through the time and space that he had come to know so well in the hopes that he could see her one last time after they had been so cruelly ripped apart by forces neither of them had been able to control.
He had found the perfect spot in mere moments after he had walked away from that white, blank wall and stepped into the awaiting TARDIS that hadn't wanted to move at first and then seemed to dim considerably after realizing that Rose, their Rose wasn't going to be joining them this time. Or any other time. That the last time, with her screeching, harpy of a mum who made one heck of a good cup of tea was it. And he was off to be alone again, that bitter emptiness already filling up inside him where she used to reside.
While he waited for a sign of his human- because she'd always be his and no amount of distance could ever change that, just like he'll always be hers no matter what- he practiced, using the TARDIS as a springboard. He had to get this right; he knew her well enough that the Doctor really and truly doubted that she wouldn't ask questions, wouldn't plead and beg and try his patience and his strength not to follow her- universes be damned as long as he could hold her and be with her one last time.
And then, her voice reached his ears and he couldn't make his image appear to her soon enough and- oh, it was so good to hear her voice once again, too see her again even though it had only been a few minutes, but the last time he had seen her face was moments before she was gone forever.
He was burning up a sun to say goodbye, and before he knew it their time was up, the echos of his last words surrounding him as the sun's death cut them off before they could reach her, and the hand that he had lifted out of instinct was empty, clutching at space and at time and at nothing all at the same time.
There was something about…just sitting side by side and watching the world go by. It didn't happen often enough really. They were usually out and about, running to danger and away from safety as they put their lives on the line more often than not for the sake of adventure and entertainment and helping those who needed help. They had survived mannequins and skin flaps and Gelth. Bad Wolf, a werewolf and face stealing creatures. They were always on the move, and while the Doctor hardly minded sharing everything that the universe had to offer with his pink and yellow Rose, sometimes it was just as nice to sit down, sides pressing against sides as they took everything in.
It was moments like this where they didn't need to speak, the silence and company was enough and if Rose fell asleep with her head on his shoulder, then he'll just pull her in close and rest his head on hers, taking her hand in his, perfectly content with everything that makes them…them.
They're hardly perfect, the Doctor and Rose Tyler. They fights and challenge each other, but they're always there when the other needs it, and there has never been a moment where he's regretted coming back for her in that South London ally way. . He loves her and she loves him and that's all that matters.
And as her head falls on his shoulder, he unconsciously falls back into routine, an arm slipping around her shoulder to pull her in closer, his own head dropping to rest against her crown as his hand moves to entwine her fingers with hers.
Sometimes, he still wants to call her a stupid ape, because that's the type of man he is. Rude and not ginger who thought it'd be a good idea to bring along someone who'd challenge him every step of the way while letting him do his own thing at the same time almost two years ago.
She had wanted to stay behind, his Rose. She had refused to leave him on that doomed planet without knowing if he lived or if he died. If she had stayed, he would have had no way of knowing, not in the slightest and he had risked everything on the hope that she would have been within slight distance from the creature who had been housed in that impossible planet orbiting a black hole. He had been counting on people he barely knew to make sure that she was out of harms way.
And she had refused them every step of the way, only getting on the ship after being knocked out.
And if she had had it her way, she would have been long gone in the belly of a black hole, a place not even his TARDIS could reach to pull her out and back to safety.
And she would have been okay with that, dying while thinking that he wasn't alone on that planet.
But he wouldn't have been.
And as she relayed the events that had transpired while he had been down in the hole, the Doctor found himself getting more and more irate at her and him and circumstances and the whole damn universe even though he knew it was being blown out of proportion.
She can sense it, he tells, by the way she closes off, shuts down and moves to leave him to his own devices but-no! He can't let her leave, not after realizing just how close he came to losing her because of her stupid, human dedication to someone who'll never be able to spend the rest of his life with her despite her having every ability to spend the rest of hers with him.
And as her hand sways while she stands up, he reaches for it, clasping it tightly as his eyes never leave the screen above the TARDIS console.
He'll forever be watching this one, won't he?
He doesn't remember whose decision this particular trip was. If it was hers or his or the ships or some combination one way or another or six ways from Sunday. All he knows is that they have mouse ears on their heads, cotton candy in their hands, and are being jostled on all sides as they search for a ride or attraction to visit next.
In his nine centuries of life, he had never visited, and neither had she in all of her two decades. He wasn't sure just which one was worse. He watches her, keeping an eye on her as per usual as she wanders around the 31st century amusement park because the dynasty of Walt Disney could hardly just disappear, watching aliens and humans alike interact and mingle and enjoy themselves on rides such as Oligaark Plateau and Legend of Skype and the Ood. But then something catches his eye, a little kiosk offering to deep fry anything you could ever want in the batter of Bilgox- a delightful little treat from the planet of which it's name derives from that's not unlike pancake batter mixed with orange rind and paprika. Of course it's an acquired taste and of course the Doctor has acquired it.
He veered towards it, expecting Rose to follow and ordered a banana the size of his head covered in the stuff, paying with a swipe of the card stick he received courtesy of his lovely sonic before turning, ready to show off his prize to his companion, only to discover that she wasn't there.
He called her name, but no answer, stood on her toes, but no sign so he took off, not bothering that he bumped into others because his girl was missing and he needed to find her because wherever she was alone, trouble tended to follow and he needed to be there to keep her safe.
He wasn't aware of how long he had been running around like a cat attempting to catch hold of a laser pointer or a vilgax beast attempting to catch a fly, but then there was a voice coming from the air, making an announcement.
"Could Doctor…what's his name again?"
"Just the Doctor." He stopped in his tracks as the garbled, thin voice of hers came through, tilting his head as he listened to the exchange.
"Just the. Doctor. That's it. No other name, no surname, no first name. The git just goes by the title because he thinks he's so important." But he was so important. He was the Doctor after all, and he listened as directions were prattled off on how to get to where she was waiting for him. Smart girl, she had gone to the nearest park worker when she had discovered that she had gotten lost.
Or perhaps it had been him who had gotten lost.
Either way she had the sense to do something that he wouldn't have thought of, and that's always what made her so remarkable.
The announcement ended, and he made sure he followed the directions to the T, grinning when he burst from the throngs of the crowd and caught sight of his blonde companion. Grinning wildly he hopped up to her, ignoring the slightly chastising expression on her face as he took her hand in his with all the practiced ease of a movement as familiar as breathing, blinking even.
"Come on, I want to show you this ride I passed while I was looking for you. Really, you shouldn't wander off like that." And he pulled her, heading back into the crowds as any protest died on her lips.
Once again all was normal.
She was scared. He could see it in her face. A werewolf, how odd, how dangerous, how…completely them and he couldn't figure out how to comfort her because above that fear was an excitement that only she could possess in an instance like this. So instead he urged her to run as he trailed behind her, his body forming an extra level of barrier between her and the beast that was thundering up the steps behind them, itching, aching to bury it's teeth into the Queen herself
Somewhere along the line, the Doctor passed his charge without realizing it until her scream tore it's way from his throat and he could have sworn that both of his hearts stopped at the sound as he whirled around in terror to see the beast bearing down on her, it's size making her already petite form look even smaller.
He wouldn't get there in time, despite the small distance separating them. The werewolf was just too close to her and getting closer as it leapt down the hallway towards where she stood frozen in fear, but that didn't stop the Doctor as he changed his course in the hopes of that by some miracle he's make it in time.
But the lady of the house and her female staff did, throwing a bucket of liquid onto the beast and causing it to scramble back and out of harms way. In a few more steps he was there, saying words he wasn't fully aware of before grabbing Rose and shoving her none to gently in his haste to keep her safe. She could forgive him, he could forgive himself, if a little roughness kept her alive and with him if just for a little bit longer.
And oh, it seemed like they ran forever, hid forever from the creature of the moon, but then he was sliding Queen Victoria's diamond under the rays of the moon and the werewolf was no more. The queen was safe. The estate and all it's charges were safe. Rose was safe.
Although as he caught the Queen looking at her hand he wondered just how safe he had kept everyone even as the older woman swore that it was simply a scratch from the door and not from the werewolf that had been bent on taking over her body and ushering the age of the wolf, but there was only so much he could do when his help was no longer so readily accepted.
But for the time being, it seemed all was well and he turned from the Queen and towards Rose, pulling her in and wrapping her arms around her tight because he had come so close to losing her once again. This fragile thing who had learned to speak her mind during their travels, seemed to bloom in adversity and had all but completely vanquished the loneliness in his heart just by standing next to him.
The best mate he had been allowed to have in such a long time and the woman who held his heart and his hand with nary any companion.
"Next time, always stay in front of me when we're running from something." He breathed against her hair before releasing her, unfolding his arms from around her as she did the same with hers. "Now, lets go see if there's anything left to eat. I'm starving!"
He could have sworn he had told her not to say that in her horrible Scottish accent but it didn't matter because she was smiling with that small bit of tongue and so was he because how could you ever do anything but smile when faced with the sun?
"Ooch, aye." He repeated, reaching down to grab her hand with his, and following the Queen as she left the room.
It was her muffled squeaks and groans that pulled him away from the book he was reading in the TARDIS library. Sounds that he had never once heard coming from behind her bedroom door or from her mouth in particular, but there were so many reasons that those sounds could have been made so he hung back just as he was about to rush in and demand to know who was hurting his Rose.
It wasn't until he heard sniffles and whimpers that he let his feet move once again and he barged inside the room with a ferocity of a lion protecting it's cubs or it's mate, but the oncoming storm in his eyes faded once he took inventory of just what was happening.
There was no danger, no threat. Just Rose, asleep in her bed, tossing and turning and she cried out and tears slipped past her tightly clenched lids.
A nightmare, that was all.
It was hardly surprising, given what they seemed to go through on a daily basis almost. In fact, the Doctor was surprised that she didn't have terrors like this more often.
He was at a loss however, not quite sure what to do. It had been so long since he had needed to comfort someone from the stories playing out behind closed lids. Since Susan was a little girl it seemed, or maybe it had been one of his wives or even his child oh so long ago that he could barely remember their names now, just faint memories of those from his old life that were long since dead.
It wasn't until Rose stuck her hand out and pawed at the air that the Doctor finally realized what needed to be done and without a second thought, he perched himself down on the edge of the bed and took hold of her hand, whisking her fears away.
Sometime during the night he fell asleep, and when he awoke he was lying down on the bed with her, body wrapped around hers- her back pressed to his chest.
Their fingers were still entwined.
It wasn't snow that was falling on their heads, but Sycorax dust, from a whole ship being blasted apart by the words of one woman. He didn't regret ruining her career, she had deserved it for killing a ship full of creatures that were leaving, even if they had intended to invade Earth.
They had done no harm after all, just simple blood control that would hardly have caused any death or injury thanks to the human brains fight or flight survival instinct.
He felt her coming up beside him in a move so familiar now that he didn't even flinch, didn't even need to turn his head to confirm that his instincts were correct.
She thought they were meteors, the flashes in the sky. They weren't and he almost hated to ruin it for her but that was the kind of man he was now, or was it the kind of man he still was. He couldn't remember the last time he possessed a personality that would withhold information such as this.
"It's the spaceship breaking up in the atmosphere. This isn't snow. It's ash."
" Okay, not so beautiful"
Only Rose would take it so calmly, accept it so simply, something like this, whereas when he had first regenerated just a day or so before, he had accused him of being someone else impersonating the Doctor after taking him away; 'beam me up, Scotty' syle. "This is a brand new planet Earth. No denying the existence of aliens now. Everyone saw it. Everything's new."
No more training wheels for this place, it was coming into it's own and he had watched it happen with so many faces and people beside him, but very few coming close to the blonde standing with him now who was asking what he was going to do next.
There was really only one answer to give. Back to the TARDIS. Back to the only life he had known for so long, protecting planets and species from those who sought to ruin them.
" On your own?"
Did she not want to come along again? This frail person who had come into her own, how had stolen his heart before he had even realized it and was the sole owner of both it and his hand like no others before and he asked her as such but it seemed everything was off when she announced that she did want to come.
He had figured…new face, new companion. That he was new and shiney and she wanted the old him with the battle scars and crew cut and the leather jacket; looking every inch an 40 something year old soldier in the middle of a midlife crisis rather than this one who seemed to be every inch tailor made specifically for her if that was even possible.
But no, she had assumed the same, only in reverse, that he didn't want her and didn't the silly chit know that he'd always want her? That once he had gotten a taste, he would never get enough and-oh, that was a new thought, as were ones that followed. New face, new body, new brain, new imagination it seemed as he was now much freer to think of what he wanted and how he could go along to getting it in a million different ways at once.
No more of that pushing things aside and back and locking thoughts and feelings in a box because who could ever love, ever just want, someone as fucked up as him?
He'd love her to come, more than anything, and he smiled a smile that was new, and she smiled a smile that was not and he held out his hand and she took it as they continued to watch as the latest of Earths invaders turned into nothingness.