Rose closed the door to the flat behind her and quickly carried the groceries into the kitchen. By the time she got them onto the counter and off of her wrist, her hands had started to turn slightly blue due to lack of circulation. Even though it was just the two of them now, just her and the Doctor, she still bought enough food to feed an army every week. They were still adjusting to having a part-human/part-Time Lord Doctor around. Finding normal human food that the Doctor would actually eat without making faces was turning out to be quite an endeavor. She smiled and shook her head as she began to put the food in the pantry and refrigerator.
It was then that she realized that it was quiet. Too quiet. Silent. How could she have not realized it earlier? The Doctor was always there, waiting for her when she got home, filling the flat with his inane chatter and boisterousness. Having quiet with the Doctor around was similar to having quiet with children around: it made one nervous and suspicious. She cocked her head, straining to hear any noise, just the tiniest sound that might indicate what the Doctor was up to. But there was nothing.
"Doctor?" she called out, beginning to move through the flat. Fortunately, there wasn't much flat to move through, so there were limited places where he could be. He wasn't in the living room, nor was he in the bedroom. Maybe he went out for a walk, she thought to herself. Then she saw that the door to the loo was slightly ajar, so she went and pushed it open.
The first thought that went through her mind was relief that she had found the Doctor. That thought was quickly replaced with panic as she looked at him. He was sitting slumped on the edge of the bathtub, gazing at his hands, which were covered in bright red. She gasped and rushed over to him, taking his hands in her own.
"Oh my god, what happened?" she cried, turning his hands over looking for the cuts. Not finding any on his hands, she looked at his shirt and saw that it, too, had red splotches all over it. Continuing her eyes' journey upward, all she could see was red: on his neck, on his face, in his hair...
She looked closer at his hair. Come to think of it, that actually didn't look like blood. What was going on here? She looked back at his face. He wasn't looking at her,though; he was still looking down, avoiding her gaze. In her confusion she looked down at his hands again, which is how the box on the floor caught her eye. She looked at it, then reached down and picked it up.
It was a box of bright, double-decker bus red hair dye.
She blinked. It was still a box of hair dye. She blinked again. Hair dye. Her brow furrowed in thought. Why would he have...?
"I always wanted to be ginger."
The sound of his quiet voice made her turn her attention back to him. He was still looking at his hands, which were now clenched into fists on his thighs.
"I went to the supermarket, thinking I could try for a job there. Give me something to do all day," he continued, his hands gripping tighter as he spoke. "As I was leaving, I saw these boxes. You can use them to turn your hair any color you want. And I always wanted to be ginger."
She looked back at his hair. Now that she knew what she was looking at, what happened was clear to her. It seemed he had tried to dye his hair, but without actually reading the directions first - not surprising of the man who had thrown the manual to the TARDIS out into space. His hair was red...mostly. It was a splotchy job, with some spots cherry red, other spots hardly more than auburn. At any rate, whatever it looked like was clearly not how he had intended for it to look. She was too good to laugh at him when he was obviously upset, so she tried to be encouraging.
"Well, you know, it washes out...eventually. When it does, we'll try it again. Until then, if you leave the flat, you could just put on a cap...or a turban..."
"No! You don't understand, Rose," he fumed, standing up and striding over to the other side of the room in a temper. "I always wanted to be ginger! And I always thought that one day, I would be. It would come to the end, and I would regenerate, and then look in the mirror and be ginger! That's all I wanted! Ginger!" He slammed his hand down on the sink, making Rose jump at the impact. "But now, there's no regeneration. No more chances. I won't get to be ginger, unless I do it in this impossible human way...and look how that turned out! It's a disaster!"
He turned, placed both hands on the sink, and stared at himself in the mirror as he continued. "I just don't know how to do this," he said, his voice going quiet, though still intense. "I don't know how to be human. I don't know how to deal with this face staying the same forever. I don't know how I'm going to live a day-to-day existence, with no more TARDIS and no more planet hopping or time skipping. I have to learn to eat the same kind of food every day, follow a routine, live a normal life. And I just don't know how." Letting out a sigh, he lowered his head, so that he was looking into the sink dejectedly.
Rose had expected this. She knew that living a human life was going to be hard for the Doctor, for this Doctor. Even though he was part-human and had only been alive for a matter of weeks, he still had all the memories of the true Doctor, off in another dimension. And after 900 years of following nothing but his whim, she knew that settling down to an Earth life was going to be very frustrating for him. Fortunately, she knew just how to handle this.
"I'll tell you how you're going to do it," she said, getting off the floor and walking to him, wrapping her arms around his waist and resting her chin on his shoulder. "With me. You're going to live a human life, with me. You're going to follow a human routine, with me. You're going to grow old, with me. You're going to do everything, with me. Just as it should be."
He raised his head again, and met her gaze in the mirror. "Just as it should be," he echoed, and she was pleased to see a sparkle back in those brown eyes.
"Exactly," she replied, smiling at him, her heart fluttering when he smiled back. Turning her attention back to his hair, she put on a mock quizzical face. "So, now the question is, what are we going to do about this?" She reached up and ruffled his mismatching locks.
"Actually, we have a slightly bigger issue at hand," he replied, turning to face her fully.
"Oh, really? And what might that be?"
"Well, I might have made just the teensiest bit of a mess while trying to do this," he said, turning her back towards the tub.
She sighed. The bathtub looked much like he did: covered from top to bottom in red streaks and splotches. She'd been so concerned about him when she came in, she hadn't even noticed. She shook her head. At least this was easier to conquer than all the intergalactic messes he had caused...
She turned back to him. "Well, this can be your next lesson in being human: learning how to clean the bathtub."
He pouted slightly, then got a mischievous twinkle in his eye. "Is this one of those human things that I'll be doing, with you?"
"Hmph. Glad to hear you were paying attention."
"Thank you. But that doesn't answer my question."
"Oh, alright, fine. I'll help you this time. But you will have to learn how to clean up your own messes at some point."
"Oh, I hope not. I want to clean up all my messes with you." He flashed that brilliant smile, and she couldn't help but reach up and kiss him. When they finally parted, he took a deep breath. "I think I'm already used to that part of being human. It's quite nice."
"I'm afraid bathtub cleaning isn't quite as nice."
"No, but it is a problem that must be sorted. So sort it we shall! Allons-y!"