Chapter nine: Full circle
Rose was in the middle of a lovely dream when she felt something fall on top of her. She sat up with a start, holding up the Doctor's coat in awe. His psychic paper dropped into her lap, and she looked next to her to find that yet again he wasn't in bed. He hadn't been staying in bed as much lately, and it did worry her that something was going on. She was about to call for him when she heard a certain Arabian. "Al," she grumbled as she found the teeth marks on the Doctor's coat. "Look what you did by bringing me this. The Doctor loves this coat."
Aladdin bobbed his head and nudged her hand, which held the psychic paper. Taking the hint, she opened it and a message appeared. Get ready for our next date and meet me in the console room. X
She grinned and excitedly got out of the bed, darting towards the loo. The horse tried to follow her, but she managed to shut the door. After getting prepared, she practically danced into the console room. It had been months since a proper date, thanks to a few sticky weeks on a strange planet and a broken TARDIS. He got everything running again, and apparently he had thought of a new adventure.
"I see you got the message," he smiled brightly.
"I did. Did you train Aladdin to do that? Bring the coat?"
He winked. "Maybe…"
"Well, he tried to get in the bath with me. You'd better watch him. He is very charming, and girls love horses…" she teased as she flopped onto the seat. "Where are we going?"
"Many, many places. We have a packed schedule."
"Are you going to tell me or is this a secret?"
"Well, I could tell you everything…but where's the fun in that?" he pulled on the lever and the entire TARDIS rumbled. Once they got there, he grabbed her hand and pushed her to the door. "Now, close your eyes. No peeking, Rose Tyler."
She giggled and snapped them shut. "All right. They're closed. Don't let me fall over."
Carefully, he led her outside and shut the door behind him. He leaned in. "Open."
Looking around, she could swear that it was familiar. "I've been here before," she stated as she walked into the cobbled street. "But where is it?"
"1953. Muswell Hill, London."
"We came here when we were trying to see Elvis," she laughed. "You said it was New York."
"It could be…" he defended. "Just look at that building. It's very…American."
"Yeah right. Wouldn't we be here right now?" she frowned, remembering the last time she caused a paradox.
He shook his head. "This is months after we were here."
"I lost my face," she scowled. "Not the best memory."
"After you got it back," he began as he took her hand. "We ate, drank, and were very merry. I couldn't take my eyes off you."
"Because you were making sure my face was still there," she reminded him playfully. "That's what you told me when I caught you gawking like a teenager."
The Doctor grinned shyly. "Well, that wasn't entirely true. It was an excuse to stare. I remember thinking how lovely you looked in that outfit. Just so happens that today is the first day of autumn, and they're having a small celebration. Thought we'd crash it."
"What if someone remembers us?"
"We say hello," he smiled breezily. "C'mon. Off we go."
They went to the end of a street where tables were set up an old music was playing. He spun her around and forced her into a dance. She laughed and went along with it. No one seemed to remember them, but they fit right in and enjoyed some seasonal dishes. She wanted to stay for another dance, but he pulled her away.
"We aren't staying?" she asked confusedly. "I thought we were on a date."
"We still are. This isn't our only stop. We're on tour, remember?"
"Like a rock band?"
"Oh yes. Tyler on the TARDIS is coming to a planet near you."
She died with chortles as they got back inside and he hit a few controls. Once they stopped, she ran out of the door and understood what the Doctor was up to. "We're in Scotland. You're taking me back to places we've been to, aren't you? Doctor?"
He arrived on Aladdin with a smile. "Welcome to 1878, one year before we're officially banned. Hop on. We're going for a ride."
"Och, ay! Goin' oot and aboot on a wee horsey!"
"Don't. Really don't."
They laughed as they rode through the hills. She clung to his waist, proclaiming, "Go faster, Sir Doctor of TARDIS!"
"Ay, Dame Rose of the Powell Estate!"
He made Aladdin go even faster and she let the wind rush through her hair. They rode for a while longer until the Doctor turned back around and stopped suddenly near the TARDIS. She had to cling to his back to keep from falling off, and he cackled at the look on her face as he leapt down.
"Are you not amused?" he questioned as he offered her a hand.
She smiled. "You never did pay me that ten quid, you know."
"Really?" he said mischievously. "Wonder how I forgot that…"
Her lips went to his ear and he shivered. "You can pay me back later."
They led Aladdin back to his stable and he went to the console. She was getting excited, wondering where they'd end up next. Once they landed, he caught her by the hand before she could rush outside. "Close your eyes again. No more running out before me," he stated as she attempted to escape. "I'll tie my tie around your eyes if you don't!"
"You will not," she challenged, squealing as he held her firmly in one arm and slipped his tie off with the other. It went around her eyes and she laughed. "Doctor!"
"Nope," he responded, holding her hands so she couldn't undo it. "You're ruining the element of surprise."
They awkwardly made their way outside and he let her go. She tugged the tie down frantically and a hand went to her mouth. "New Earth?"
"Precisely. And this time," he produced a blanket from his pocket. "We have an actual blanket."
He set it out and they sprawled in the apple grass, watching the flying cars. She looked over at him with a smirk. "New new Doctor."
"And New New New New New New New New New New New New New New New New York."
"How many News did you just use?"
"Sixteen," he replied cheerfully. "This is the fifteenth New York. Tenth Doctor."
She took his hand and indolently watched the sky. He studied her face and she glanced over. "You're staring at me."
"I am," he admitted gleefully. "Rose, what did you think of me? Well, this me when I showed up."
"I thought you were unbelievably attractive and much funnier. Not that you weren't attractive or funny before. Just a different kind."
That made him beam. "You know, you're the reason I talk like this."
She raised an eyebrow. "I am?"
"Absolutely. Your imprint on me. Well, one of the many. You make me better."
They kissed and he let it get almost to the point of shagging in the open before dramatically getting up and offering a hand. She scowled. "You just have to tease me."
"Full schedule. We're nowhere near done yet," he helped her up and collected the blanket, briskly kissing her cheek. "We'll pick up where we left off. I promise you that."
After piling into the TARDIS, he set another course and looked at her intently. "Don't run out of the door on this one. This isn't a full stop."
"No?" she frowned. "What is it?"
He nodded. "Go look."
Her hands opened the doors and she remembered perfectly. "The end of the world."
"Yep. The year 5,000,000,000 or 5.5/Apple/26. Our first date."
She watched the Sun expand and softly smiled. "I was so freaked out that first time. Are we there on the space station?"
"Yeah, but we're on the other side of the Sun. This us is drifting. That us doesn't know we're here."
"You took my hand. You remember that?" she wondered, hoping it wasn't just her that saved those little memories.
He took her hand again and grinned. "I don't forget anything."
They watched the Sun expand for some time until Rose shut the doors and kissed him. "Where to next, Doctor?"
Moments later, she stepped out of the TARDIS and opened her eyes. "London, present day," she said as she read a newspaper. "Why are we here?"
Her car revved behind her and she gladly hopped inside. They drove in the traffic down a very familiar street. She pointed with laughter. "That's where we got chips."
"Yes," he confirmed. "That's the shop right there. And I have money this time."
They parked and went inside, ordering some chips with lunch. She eyed him carefully. "Where'd you get money?"
"I have my ways," he assured her vaguely. "Great chips, huh?"
"Right. Change the subject. I'm still suspicious. I'll get it out of you."
They finished their chips and got back into the car. He drove down another familiar street, and she started to understand the Time Lord's logic. She stepped onto the sidewalk and gazed at the sign with wide eyes. "Henrik's. You've taken me back to places we've been to in reverse order. This is where we met. Where my life changed forever."
He put his arm around her. "Where our lives changed forever."
"Looks the same, even after they rebuilt it…" she chuckled. "You blew it up."
"That I did. I did that a lot back then. Blow things up."
"It's practically how you communicated. We did blow up that school, though."
The Doctor nodded. "Well, I still blow things up. It's a good time."
She chuckled and hugged his arm. "Can we go for a drive out of the city in my car?"
"We do have time for that," he agreed, opening the driver's door for her. "Your turn."
They drove around for a few hours with the radio blasting. He did some embarrassing singing and she danced at the wheel. She couldn't stop smiling. It had been a perfect date as far as she was concerned. No drunk mothers, big spiders, being chased out of planetariums, arguing over duvets, falling off horses, getting shot at by Americans, fighting over blue food in a hotel, or getting hit on by random blokes. No, this time was free from all problems. He was so thoughtful and obviously planned every detail. Upon reaching the TARDIS, she grabbed him and kissed him fiercely, dragging him towards the bedroom to pick up where they left off. He stopped her.
"We're not done."
She blinked. "We're not?"
"No. One more stop."
"Where else could we go? I thought that we were stopping at where we met."
He grinned. "You were wrong. I can actually say that for once. You were completely wrong, Rose Tyler."
"I get the point," she groaned. "Don't get used to saying that."
Landing, he slipped a chain around her neck with a strange pendant. She looked at it curiously and he didn't explain. Instead, he tied his tie around her eyes and led her by the hand outside of the TARDIS. They walked for what felt like a long time before she heard him whispering. "You're wearing a perception filter. No one else will notice us if you walk slowly and keep your voice down."
"Why do I need that?" she inquired.
"You'll see in a few minutes."
He removed the blindfold and she took in her surroundings. "I don't remember this place."
"You shouldn't," he responded simply as he positioned her on the city sidewalk. "You see that bench?"
She spotted the bench in front of a park only a few feet away. It appeared to be London, and she thought that maybe she'd seen the park in passing. "I see it. Where are we?"
"Doctor," she mumbled impatiently. "I want to know."
He wouldn't tell her anything else. Suddenly, a couple wandered over to the bench and sat down. The Doctor calmly walked closer, pushing Rose into a better position. She gasped and tugged on his sleeve. "That's my mum and dad. They're so young. What is this? Late nineteen seventies?"
"Early eighties. Can't you tell by Jackie's hair?"
"And they can't see us?" she questioned.
"Nope. No idea we're here. Shush and listen."
"So," Pete said as he fidgeted with hands. "Nice night."
"Lovely," Jackie agreed.
"I've had a wonderful time," Pete continued. "I always do with you, Jacks."
She giggled and blushed. "I do too, Pete."
"I've been thinking…"
"Not another one of your schemes," she groaned. "You and your big ideas."
He chuckled. "Not that. No. This is different. I just have been thinking about us. You know. Our future. And I guess what I'm trying to say is that I'd…" he paused and tugged on his collar. "I'd like to marry you."
Jackie's eyes grew a size bigger and Rose clutched the Doctor's hand. "What did you just say?" Jackie repeated. "Did you just ask me what I think you did?"
"Yeah. I did. Come on, Jacks. We're great together. I love you, you love me. Why don't we make a go of it? I even have a ring if you want it," he held out the ring, which wasn't overly impressive. "Not sure if it's the right size or anything. But I figured I can always get you a real one when the money comes in."
"Some proposal this is," Jackie snorted. "But I don't care about that. Yes, Pete. I'd love to marry you."
He tried to put the ring on her finger, but it was much too small. She moved it to her pinky and kissed him happily, swatting him the second they pulled apart. "Ouch! What was that for?"
"No more sleeping around, you got that? I know about you and that girl at the shop. You're marrying me, so you're stuck with just me. And this was your idea. Don't you dare blame me if marriage isn't what you thought it'd be!"
"Okay, okay! Calm down, Jackie. I've done everything I can."
"Done everything you can? Is that some kind of sex joke?"
"It is not! I'm really trying here. I told you that I love you and want to marry you, what else do you want?"
"I don't know, how about loyalty?"
"Well, you've got it! I had pawn my watch for that ring."
She made a sound in surprise. "You didn't."
He held up his bare wrist. "I did."
"Oh, Pete. You're the best man I could have asked for."
They resumed snogging and Rose turned to the Doctor with tears in her eyes. "That's so Mum and Dad."
He took her hand. "C'mon. Let's give the kids their privacy."
Rose cast one more glance at the happy couple and squeezed the Doctor's fingers tightly. It wasn't a perfect date before. No, now it was a perfect date. They got into the TARDIS and took the chains from around their necks. She kissed his face and held onto his waist.
"How did you know?" she whispered. "That was incredible."
The Doctor pulled back with a wide grin. "Do you know why I've gone missing every night for months?"
"No…" she trailed off unsurely. "Why?"
"I had to get things in order. My ducks in a row, as they say."
Her brow furrowed. "You're not making sense."
"Well, not yet I'm not!" he exclaimed. "Now, let me see…"
"What are you looking for?" she wondered as he went through his pockets.
"Just something I picked up the other day…and…here it is!" he hid it in his palm and turned to her slyly. "Today things come full circle."
She paused. "Okay…?"
"Ninth date," he reminded her. "We met when I was in my ninth incarnation."
"Right," she nodded, trying to seem like she was following.
"So it only makes sense."
"New beginnings. New life back then. New life today. New New Doctor. New Earth. New New New—"
"New York," she cut him off.
He grinned. "Right you are."
"So that means…what exactly?"
"Well, I've been thinking. Plotting, really. Trying to figure out where would be the right place. Then, I thought, Why not the TARDIS? It seems like the right place. But I couldn't just do it. No, that wouldn't qualify as the ninth date, which we've established as being very important. Full circle. So, I figured that we'd relive the journey that got us to this point. Now, the reason I've shown you this moment in your mother's history isn't to relive our past. Oh no. It's a new memory in the new beginning. You see?"
She held her forehead. "I think I followed most of that."
"Brilliant! I have a serious question for you."
He held out a stunning ring and smiled like a daft school boy. "Rose Tyler, why don't we make a go of it?"
Rose was speechless. It took a second to register that he really was asking her to marry him. Once the shock wore off, she managed to answer. "Yes."
His grin widened and he slid the ring onto her finger. They kissed for a long time until she hugged him close, crying the happiest of tears into his shoulder. "You're the most fantastic man in the universe, Doctor. How long have you planned this?"
"Well, I suppose I've wanted to ask you since our second date at the amusement park. The psychic paper gave that away," he chuckled slightly. "However, I started putting all this together after our double date with your mother. Thomas made some valid points and a very logical argument. I figured no time like the present. So, while you were sleeping, I traveled around to pick the right places at the right time. We couldn't go somewhere when it was raining or invaded by unfriendly aliens, could we? That would ruin the date. It had to be just right. After I had that course prepared, I stopped by your mother's to ask for some money to buy chips and for information about Pete's proposal. That Jackie. Bless. She kept a diary and wrote down every detail of that night, right down to the exact time they arrived in the park. That made things very simple indeed! Of course, I had to get the perception filters completed and the ring next. I decided to go back to the market we went to on one of our dates. That's where I found the ring. We can't go shopping there again, by the way. Sorry. Spent the last of my money. Anyway, that's what I've been doing all this time. Oh, and I did ask Jackie permission before I asked you and she's very happy for us."
"All that for me?" she whispered in astonishment. "You did all that for me?"
"Don't act so surprised. I can be quite sweet, especially when it comes to you."
"I love you," she laughed as she took his hand and pulled him towards their room. "Don't you dare stop me this time, Doctor. We have unfinished business."
They finally got to finish what they had started and rested in a tangle of limbs and sheets. He had his arms around her and hadn't stopped smiling. "Rose, you know what?"
"What?" she yawned into his neck tiredly.
"The next date we have to worry about is the wedding date. How about that? Us. Wedding. I'm rubbish at them. Complete rubbish. You'll have to do all of the planning. I think it's best if I just show up looking handsome in a new suit. That much I can handle."
"I like the sound of that. Let's figure all that out in the morning…" she moved closer to him and grinned to herself. "Doctor, today has been perfect. But…could you do just one more thing for me?"
"Anything you'd like."
"Can you sing me to sleep? I think you know which song I'd like to hear."
He smiled. "You can shake an apple off an apple tree. Shake-a, shake- sugar, but you'll never shake me. Uh-uh-uh. No-sir-ee, uh, uh. I'm gonna stick like glue, stick because I'm…" he paused to kiss his future wife's forehead. "Stuck on you."
A/N: Thank you so much for your kind reviews, favs, and follows. It means a lot. I hope you've enjoyed this as much as I've enjoyed writing it. I'd also like to mention OTHCharmfan for reviewing and reading this story since the beginning. Thank you so much for the feedback. Disclaimer: lyrics used belong to respective artists. I own nothing, other than a few characters of my own creation.