Well this was a bit longer than intended, but I'm happy with it at last.
Later on that day (it could have been early evening by that time, but she couldn't tell), when Rose had slept a bit and eaten a little and thought a lot, she decided that enough time had passed for her to go and find the Doctor. She would have let another night pass, but what with her sleepless night and doing nothing all day, her body clock was not working properly and she could not even work out when would be the right time to go to bed. It was better to go and find the Doctor – it wasn't that likely he would be asleep – and get this sorted out. Maybe then she could get a good night's sleep, safe in the knowledge that she and the Doctor were back to normal.
That was just the thing though: would they ever go back to normal? Rose had – stupidly in her opinion– told the Doctor that something was sure to happen between them at some point. She had then asked him what he thought about that the next day, and he had clammed up and refused to talk, before admitting things that she had never dreamed she would hear him say. It was just a shame they were said in a fit of anger rather than love. Despite the Doctor being an alien and therefore more difficult to read than most people, Rose had been sure for a while that he wanted something more than what they had already – if she hadn't thought with absolute certainty that she was right then she probably would not have pressed the matter with him.
The moments had been subtle - a shared glance that revealed more than he intended; a hug that lasted just second longer than normal; those moments when he was certain she couldn't see, and she caught him staring at her with a look in his eyes that she had rarely seen before. Nevertheless Rose had noticed them. Now she had to deal with the fact that the Doctor would probably have never admitted he felt that way about her if she hadn't tried to pry it out of him. She wasn't sure whether she felt guilty about that or just sad.
Instead of deliberately trying to find the Doctor (or avoid him, as had been the case for the last 24 hours or so) Rose decided to just go to the console room and wait. If he wasn't there when she arrived, he would be sure to turn up at some point. She certainly wasn't going to force her company on him. It wasn't like Rose to admit it to herself, but the Doctor being enraged and directing the anger at her... it scared her.
Not because she thought that he would hurt her or anything – Rose knew that he could never do that to her, not in a million years. More because having the Doctor act like that towards her was painful in a different way. She could not bear the condescension and the sarcasm and the spite that came with it. Every insult uttered in the heat of the moment stayed inside her like a lump of rock, reminding her that she wasn't good enough, that he didn't feel that way, that she would have to leave sooner or later. Even if it meant being in complete denial, she would rather be happy than face up to all the truths that both she and the Doctor always brought up during a fit of rage.
The Doctor wasn't in the console room when Rose arrived there, so she curled up on the captain's chair and stared at the time rotor, not really seeing it. It didn't take long before she heard the slap of approaching footsteps coming down the corridor. She stood up, not exactly sure why she was doing so apart from the fact that she was too edgy to remain seated.
She wanted to see him so badly and at the same time she wanted to run and hide and not talk to him about it ever again. Stupid humans with their bloody conflicting emotions. He was going to arrive any second and she had to get control of herself.
And now here he was, standing there in front of her with his hands in his pockets once again. He was making a face that she knew well – it was the face he made when something was really wrong, and he was contemplating whether there was anything he could say that would make it better. Well she hoped he was going to say something, whether or not it was going to make the situation any better. Anything would be better than them both going away and never discussing this again.
Rose went to speak, but the Doctor held up a hand, motioning for her to stop, because he seemed to be on the verge of saying something and it didn't look like it was easy for him. "I'm sorry for the way I talked to you yesterday, and I'm sorry if I upset you." He spoke quickly but sincerely, as though anxious to reassure her before anything else was said. "Got a bit carried away, too much bottled up anger I guess. I didn't mean to make you feel bad."
He didn't say he was completely sorry. He didn't take back everything he had said and grovel. She was glad he didn't. If he had, Rose would have been wondering who he was and what he had done with her Doctor, the rude and not ginger one who apologised all the time, except for when it really mattered to her. Besides, it wasn't as if it had been all his fault.
"I didn't really mean most of what I said to you either. I mean," she qualified, "I meant a lot of it, but I didn't mean to say it like that. You know what I mean. I'm not taking it back or anything, I just wish it hadn't come out like that, it wasn't nice."
"You're too right it wasn't nice," the Doctor agreed, with so much feeling that Rose couldn't help from letting out a laugh at his face. He looked up at her with surprise and a little delight on his face, as though he had thought she would never laugh at some he said ever again. Typical Doctor. Good at the big stuff, but give him a little human thing like a row and he didn't know quite what to do.
"Well, I guess you want to talk to me about it then." And then the Doctor did something Rose did not expect. Long limbs folding with surprising grace for something so sharp and angular, the Doctor sat down on the floor, legs crossed and elbows on his knees. He looked up at Rose, frowning as though she were the one who was acting strangely. "Come on then!"
Rose sat down obediently, still too stunned by his apparent willingness to talk that she couldn't think of any sort of witty comeback. She observed him as he fidgeted slightly, shifting and twirling his fingers together. He looked a little bit nervous, but there was also just the slightest edge of seriousness to his face that made her feel that he still didn't want to be doing this. Why was he, then? Was it for her? Was he tired of them fighting and just wanted to get it out the way as soon as possible? Had the TARDIS gotten involved? Rose sincerely hoped that the TARDIS had been prodding the Doctor towards this ever since they had first argued – often he needed a kick up the arse to get him to open up even slightly, and this time it couldn't be Rose doing the kicking.
"To be honest I feel like an idiot." He was rubbing the back of his neck again and not looking her in the eye. "I know I never... well, talk to you about anything and I shouldn't have been surprised that you weren't taking that lying down. My Rose Tyler, follows her heart and to hell with anyone who tries to stop her." There was so much pride in his voice that Rose was smiling again before she knew it. The Doctor risked a glance at her, actually connecting his eyes with hers for a second before looking away, deciding that his converse boots were a much better thing to focus on.
"I don't like to think about the future because I can see it in my head. All the timelines and the possibilities and it makes it so much harder to bear when you see the happy ending that could have been and know that it's not going to happen. That's why I'm like this. I can't go back but I can't make myself take a step forward so I'm stuck here." He paused for a moment, possibly hoping for some sign that Rose had accepted what he had just told her, but she remained impassive, giving nothing away. "Hopefully that sort of explains the flirting and the not telling you what I'm thinking and the running away from ever resolving any of it. Maybe. Kind of."
"Yeah, I guess it sort of nearly kind of maybe possibly almost does." She was teasing him now, and the mischievous light in his eyes and the curl of his tongue in his smile (he had nicked that from her, she was sure of it) relaxed her just a bit more. "I mean, that isn't to say that I agree with all the things you've ever done, but I definitely understand why you acted like you did."
The Doctor nodded, opening his mouth and shutting it before pulling on his ear – he was clearly having trouble phrasing his next thought. "You telling me that you wished I hadn't regenerated- even if you didn't mean it," he added quickly, seeing Rose about to stop him right there, "it just pushed me over the edge. You said it yourself that that was the only thing that made me lose it – that's probably because I was so worried that it was true."
"Well it isn't." Rose was firm and clear, putting a stop to any further doubting or self-pitying that might be coming her way. "It's not true and I'm sorry I said it." She paused, saying each word slowly as it formed and hoping that what came out would make sense. "I think I'm more sorry that you ever thought it, if you know what I mean. I'm sorry that you had the feeling that I couldn't accept you like this, because even when I've been more frustrated with you than I ever have with anyone in my life – and believe me, you managed it – I would never want you to change back. Ever."
The Doctor laughed, looking away from her eyes and rumpling his hair as he did so. "OK, OK, I get it, you love me just the way I am – how could you not? I mean, look at me! – and just so you know, I feel the same way about you."
Raising an eyebrow, Rose pressed her lips together to avoid a smile. "Excuse me. I didn't change my face."
"Yeah, but you got a haircut and for a little while I couldn't recognise the back of your head. It was a worrying couple of days, believe me."
"Wow. For an alien with an amazingly complex brain, you can be really thick sometimes," Rose told him, clambering to her feet and wriggling her left foot, which had gone to sleep. The Doctor was standing up in front of her in a split second (how did he do that, did he have springs attached to the bottom of his shoes?)
"Yeah, that's me – thickety thick face, always will be." There was something in the way he was standing and the face he was pulling that made Rose sure that he had something else he needed to say, so, instead of asking him where they were going next or dragging him off to the kitchen to get food, Rose waited calmly, thumbs hooked over the edges of her pockets in an effort to keep casual. It didn't take more than five seconds for the Doctor to blurt out what he was thinking – the urge to open his gob and talk incessantly couldn't be overridden by awkwardness, apparently.
"And um, Rose, about us." He was staring at her with something akin to longing in his eyes, but there was pain in there too as well as uncertainty and she couldn't decipher which was more prevalent. "I'm not going to promise anything, 'cause that wouldn't be right or fair to either of us, but I'm going to try. Really, I am. At least, for now, is that enough?" Rose nodded slowly, grinning in spite of her attempts to keep herself calm. It might not be a great leap forward, but she knew they had to take baby steps with this. The Doctor might not have acted, but he had accepted what she had said and that she was right. That was good enough for her – for the moment, at least. She had never dreamed that she would be able to get the Doctor to talk to her about anything like this. It felt like a weight off of her chest, and she could tell it felt the same way for the Doctor, who leaned back on his hands, blowing upwards and ruffling his messy hair.
"Well, that's my quota of talking about feelings for the next couple of regenerations. Joke!" He held up his hands as Rose gave him a withering look. She jumped to her feet and turned towards the console as the Doctor did the same. "Oi, aren't you forgetting something?" She turned around, seeing the Doctor standing with his armed outstretched, giving her that look that she knew so well – sad, wide eyes mixed with a little bit of genuine need and a lot of loving smile. She was in his arms in a heartbeat, the movements as easy and familiar as breathing.
Hugging the Doctor, after over 24 hours of not talking and bubbling with anger, felt like settling into a warm bed – a warm bed that felt beautifully familiar and smelled wonderful. Even as he held her more closely to him, Rose felt as if something had been tied tightly around her chest, and that it was finally loosening. It was only now that she realised how sad and lonely arguing with the Doctor had made her. It was true that he was the only person that she had to talk to, without calling her mum for course, but it was more than that. It hurt to not be able to talk to the one person she was closest to. The idea that they might never have gotten over the feelings of awkwardness and anger that their argument had stirred up had definitely crossed her mind, and although the thoughts seemed silly now, Rose had spent a good deal of time try not to imagine what life would be like on the TARDIS when she no longer had the Doctor's friendship and love.
Finding tears brimming in her eyes, and feeling utterly stupid for crying because she was just so happy to have him back, Rose pressed her face into his shoulder. The Doctor's hand cradled the back of her head and he was muttering something that sounded like "it's alright, you'll be alright." The feeling of him stroking her hair made her want to stay in that position forever, but at last she pulled away, trying to wipe her eyes on her sleeve as discreetly as possible. Not that there was any point to that – if there was one thing the Doctor was always aware of, it was when she had been crying. He didn't always say anything about it, but Rose could tell that he always knew.
"So, where to next, Rose Tyler?" the Doctor asked her. The question might have been familiar, but he sat down on the seat just behind him and patted the empty space to his right, indicating that Rose could sit there if she wanted.
"Oh I don't know, somewhere back in the Earth's history." Rose plonked herself down on the seat next to him, leaning on him and crossing her legs.
The Doctor seemed enthused by her choice, immediately listing all the fantastic places and times they could visit, counting them on his fingers and glancing at Rose every now and then to see if she approved.
She relaxed against him, idly thinking, with a smile and a generous splash of hope, that at some point in the future, when someone assumed that she and the Doctor were "together" in that way, that person might actually be correct.
Finished! Hope you liked it, drop a review in if you want, follow me on tumblr if you like (greatbigouterspacedunce), and thanks for sticking with me to the end :)