Dedicated to Ebony, who gave me the story idea.
I don't own Doctor Who, unfortunately. If I did, it would be the Doctor and Rose, forever.
Your faith was strong but you needed proof
You saw her bathing on the roof
Her beauty and the moonlight overthrew you
It is only in those silent moments of the night (well, what counted as night-time in the TARDIS), those moments when nothing is stirring, and he feels bad for the tiny noises his feet make as they clip softly around the console, that the Doctor allows his mind to be caught in the past, and not the present.
His past, filled with her beauty and her laughter, and his self-loathing and silent mind.
It has been three hundred years since he ended the Time War, almost three hundred years since Rose, Martha, Donna. He has spent three hundred years weaving in and out of the Ponds' lives, because he can't bear to move on, can't bear to move forwards. Three hundred years, stuck in the past. How ironic.
And he can feel the time lines shifting, he knows his story with the Ponds will soon come to an end.
For months they avoid Earth, and he shows them the stars. They get locked in dungeons, lead revolutions, Rory even gets accidentally married to a green blob thing on a nameless planet billions of years in the future.
Amy almost convinces him to take them home after that, but he casually mentions that imploding nebular that can really only be seen right now, and off they go.
He pads silently to the kitchen, where he is surprised to find Amy and Rory sitting at the table, blearily staring into cups of tea.
"Is it that time already? Rise and shine, munchkins, where to today?" He forces some cheer into his voice; normally he gives himself hours to drag himself out of the morbid thoughts, but obviously that won't be happening.
"Relaxation would be nice," says Amy, resting her head on her arms. "My legs still hurt from all that fleeing we did yesterday."
"Good excercise!" the Doctor scoffs.
"What's 'Bad Wolf?'" Rory eventually asks.
The Doctor freezes, his back to the Ponds, hand stretched to a cupboard to retrieve his own mug. He licks his suddenly dry lips.
"Bad Wolf," Rory repeats. He swivels his mug to face the Doctor, and the words are clearly imprinted on the white mug in bold, black font.
The Doctor darts, quickly, unsteadily, and snatches it from Rory's hands, spilling hot tea over the table. Amy and Rory yell in surprise, chairs scraping to avoid the splashes.
He examines it for a long time, eyes barely inches from the mug. "Yes, it does seem to say Bad Wolf, doesn't it," he muses.
"But what's it mean?" Amy presses, keenly aware that something feels very wrong.
The Doctor takes a long time to respond, and in that moment, Amy can almost feel the weight of the universe pressing in around her.
"It means," says the Doctor eventually, "it's either a message lost, or that the Earth is doomed. I'm not sure which I prefer..."
He trails off, lost in thought. For a moment, Amy thinks his worlds away, another life away, and he looks so wistful and remorseful that she doesn't know how to respond.
"Hang on," says Rory, "doomed Earth? How could you prefer that?"
The Doctor doesn't answer, only leaps into gangly movement, shouting, "let's find out!"
Amy and Rory trail warily behind as they make their way to the console room. When they get there, the Doctor is already twisting levers and pushing strange buttons.
"But where are we going?" Rory shouts as the TARDIS jolts into action.
"Earth!" The Doctor yells back gleefully. "2014!"
"Why then?" asks Amy.
"The old girl's picking up a reading," replies the Doctor leaning over the console to reach a distant button. He yanks back his hand a moment later, and sticks his finger in his mouth, scowling.
Amy giggles as the Doctor corrects himself.
"Sorry, sorry; beautiful, sexy, young girl!" and he reaches again for the button.
The TARDIS jolts as she lands, her wheezes fading away as they anchor into the life outside the Vortex.
The Doctor bounces to the doors and throws them open. It's sunny outside, and Amy and Rory peer over his shoulders. They seem to be in a park, green grass, trees and a large fountain in the middle. The fountain sprays water from four dolphins, and the surrounding pond is square. There are no people in sight, except for one.
There's a woman, her back to the TARDIS, facing the fountain. She wears a blue leather jacket, and her blonde hair falls just past her shoulders. There's a large, oblong black shape slung over her back.
Amy watches the Doctor's face. It is sad and resigned, and it's a look she's never seen before.
He turns to them, and he knows he can't hide the sadness, but he asks them to stay in the TARDIS.
Rory eyes him suspiciously. "So the Earth isn't doomed?"
The Doctor turns his gaze to Rory, and Rory feels like drowning in the abyss. "Rory," he says, "I wish it was."
And with that, the Doctor turns around and shuts the doors in their faces.
"That was rude," says Rory. "We're not actually just going to take that, are we?"
"Of course not," Amy scoffs. But when she reaches for the doors, they won't open, and no amount of wheedling can convince the TARDIS to open them for them.
Rory is about to slump on a step when the monitor on the console turns on, showing the scene outside soundlessly.
"Thank you," whispers Amy, and she and Rory watch a silent tragedy.
Outside, the Doctor makes his way to the woman he never thought he'd see again. He can't quite decide if it's a blessing or a curse.
"You've changed," Rose says softly, eyes still on the fountain.
"You haven't," he replies.
"Haven't I?" she responds mildly.
"You've come too far," he finally murmurs softly.
"Well I know that now," she says, and finally turns to face him.
His eyes trace over the features of her face. He hasn't seen it in three hundred years, unless you count that small photograph in his beside his bed, which he doesn't.
And then, to make matters worse, she smiles, tongue between teeth, and it's like his world explodes. Suddenly he's hugging her and she's hugging him and it's like they're the only two people in the entire universe that matter. It's like that imploding nebular, a burst of such intense emotions that he wonders if he squeezes hard enough, could he become her, never leave her, be a part of her? He inhales the scent of her hair, and he swears it smells exactly the same, never mind three hundred years and parallel universes. He doesn't want to let go, to send her to the right year, to send her to the Daleks and the fear and the Other Him. Never mind the time spent apart, never mind the new (but not really new) companions. He wants it to be The Doctor And Rose Tyler, Saving The Universe.
They pull apart eventually, but don't let go. He grips her hand in his, and he realises this is what this hand has been missing all this time. He wants to cry.
How many years off am I then?"
"You want 2008," he says reluctantly. "This is 2014."
She makes no move to leave, for which he is thankful.
She grins again, her eyes sliding down his body. "Bow ties are cool," she states firmly.
"Thank you!" he crows happily. "No one thinks they are! Well, they didn't think the fez was either... Or the Stetson... They're all fashion deprived, I won't have it!"
She sighs, and he fears the sadness in her eyes.
"I'm not with you then?"
"But obviously I find you, because you told me where I need to be... How many years has it been, Doctor?"
He looks at her, and Rose realises his eyes are the same. It's like she's falling into an endless abyss of pain and loneliness and rage and fear.
"Too long," he finally murmurs. His fingers trace over their joined hands, as if he doesn't understand them, and she knows why he does it. After all this time, how is it that their hands still fit perfectly?
"Three hundred years," the Doctor whispers, as if it pains him to say it, and she realises that it probably does.
She hugs him again, and it's just as well, because both of them feel like they could cry.
"I thought I'd had a rough time of it," she jokes feebly against his chest.
"Who're your new companions?"
For a wild moment, he struggles to remember the two people that he has kept coming back to for such a long time.
"Amelia Pond, her name is like a fairytale, isn't it? And her husband, Rory."
Rose chuckles. "Two regenerations later and you're practically swimmin' in domestic."
"At least none of their parents have slapped me," he grumbles. Considering the irony that it is their daughter who's slapped him, and the mess of whatever is going on between him and River, he keeps his mouth shut.
He mumbles incoherently into her hair.
What could have been after several days, or possibly several hundred years, the Doctor finally releases her.
"You should go," he says.
Rose knows how much it pains him to say it, because she doesn't want to go either.
"What if I don't want to?" she voices mulishly.
"Because you need to find Donna Noble and save the universe, like you always do."
She steps out of his arms and nods tightly, and suddenly she's crying, and he's crying, and he remembers that awful day on a beach in Norway, when their lives were ripped apart.
"Right. 2008, Donna Noble." She lifts her chin, and he notices that devious sparkle in her eye.
On impulse, the Doctor leans forward and kisses her forehead, not like he does to Amy (or Rory, on occasion), but as if he were kissing just a bit lower. His lips linger, his hands clutching her shoulders, his senses desperately trying to remember everything about this moment.
"Rose Tyler, Defender of the Earth," He murmurs fondly.
She grins at him, that beautiful grin, tongue between teeth. She fiddles with the Dimension Canon at her wrist.
In the last moment, their eyes meet, desperately seeking each other, because the Doctor knows he will never see her again, and for Rose this is the first reunion with her Doctor, and she wants to cherish this moment forever.
"Will I ever see you again?" "You can't."
The words linger between them. He will never see her again, but she will see him.
And then she's gone.
The Doctor stares for a very long time, at the spot where she vanished.
"I wish the Earth was doomed," he mutters bitterly.
The day seems grey, the colours leached out. He wonders if the colour would ever truly be back, because those moments before had been the brightest he ever remembers.
He trudges back to the TARDIS, shoulders stooped. He rests a hand on the door before entering, and he can feel her comforting pulse. She misses Rose too.
Inside, Amy and Rory are standing near the console, and for once, they don't spring hundreds of questions at him. They just stare, and he is grateful.
He sends them into the vortex, the TARDIS complying miserably.
"Doctor, who was that?" Rory eventually asks the inevitable.
He sighs heavily.
"Rose Tyler, Defender of the Earth. She was looking for a past me."
He doesn't want to say more, he doesn't know if he can. Beautiful, happy, now painful, memories have been brought to the surface. He feels exposed, raw.
"You really love her," Amy whispers.
In a visible effort, he draws himself together. "Where next, Ponds?"
There's a long silence, like Amy and Rory are trying to decide if they should ask him about the mysterious Rose, but Rory eventually speaks.
"Well, Amy and I were discussing it before - in the kitchen. Can we go to New York?"
The Doctor remembers his last encounter with New York - Daleks. Still, that was during the Depression. It would be nice to go during the modern day.
"Alright, Ponds. Allons-y!"
They stare at him in amusement.
It's not somebody who's seen the light
It's a cold and it's a broken Hallelujah