He can nearly hear the ghost of her voice, a long-passed echo that still remains and catches along the walls at times. He hears her light timbre singing softly, not particularly to anybody or for any purpose other than entertaining herself. The whirring of the kettle joins her as she takes it from the stove and prepares yet another cup of her favorite tea.
He smiles, breathing in a scent that isn't there. The Doctor can practically feel the warmth of the kettle, the steaming mug and its aromatic herb combinations and the sound of Rose cussing when she somehow manages to burn herself. Again.
He crosses to his bedroom then, not particularly tired but feeling the weight of emotion finally beginning to plague him. It feels heavy on his shoulders, this burden, and he excuses himself from the room to be alone.
Amy and Rory won't notice anyway, he guesses. And although they are his friends, although he loves them and their silly domestic ways, he can no longer be around their romantic banter.
It all seems too similar, and the back of his mind is much too ready to remind him of this.
He comes across a room he hasn't seen in a while. The Doctor had never once said his new companions couldn't set foot in the room, and yet it remains seemingly untouched. It is as if it has been hidden, kept away from prying eyes for his sake. Now, he is ready to go back.
He is right under the assumption that the room has been untouched. Everything is the way she left it, and this fact almost makes it harder to look upon its slight chaos.
The Doctor runs a hand along the dresser, expecting to find a thick coat of dust from the untouched room. He finds, however, that the space is immaculate in the prospect that there is no lingering dust, nothing that would make it seem as though it hadn't been used for more than a day or two. He finds himself opening one of the drawers to find it still brimmed with colorful fabrics. A light piece of cotton is pulled from the pile and he rubs the cloth between his fingers before setting it back down, letting himself give it one last glance with heavy heart.
He moves to her bed, fingers finding the soft fabric of her duvet and staying there for quite some time. He is frozen, looking upon the time capsule room. He is remembering.
A sliver of light teases Rose's happily closed eyelids, and she groans as she opens them. She sits up immediately, however, surprised to see the Doctor standing in her doorway.
"Doctor?" She rubs the sleep from her eyes before stretching, allowing her sleep-mussed tresses to fall as they please.
"I was just, erm, checking on- weell I wouldn't say that but…Maybe I was-" He shakes his head. "I wanted to make sure you were alright, but I can see that you are with your nose and your lips and your eyes-ah, your beautiful eyes."
He hesitates at first, but she beckons him with an outstretched hand and finally the Doctor complies. He stands still at the side of her bed for a moment before taking her hand in his. Rose leads his own hand to the side of her cheek and he closes his eyes upon impact, relieved to feel the rivets and freckles he's grown so used to seeing. The vision from his horrible nightmare, he realizes, was just that; he'd never have to see his real Rose Tyler faceless again.
"Bad dream?" Her voice is soft and breaks a diminutive silence he hadn't even realized was there. The inquiry does not even cover what he has been through, but he nods in response anyway. Words, he finds, will not escape his lips or form rightfully in his brain. His hearts beat fast with the loss of fear and the addition of pure relief. Maybe, he thinks all too late, the rapid pulse has something to do with their proximity, the fact that his hand still lingers on her face, the pad of his thumb tracing lazy circles along her cheekbone.
He removes his hand from her temple upon this realization and runs it through his flyaway hair, mumbling incoherently until she prompts him to speak up.
"I should, erm, let you sleep and all that."
"You could stay here if you wanted…"
He is taken aback by her invitation and yet excited by the prospect. Not in that way, he argues. Something about the events of the day compels his need to be with her. He moves to the small armchair in her room and she watches, laughing, as he tries to fit his gangly legs comfortably. She finally looks over and gives him a small smile, patting the space next to her before voicing the suggestion.
"I don't take up that much room."
He wakes up two more times throughout the night, but can feel her steady breathing when he wakes. Each time he does, he checks to make sure that the nightmare isn't real. The Doctor glances down to see Rose with her head on his chest, legs tangled comfortably with his as she dozes peacefully. Her eyes are closed, her face intact, and so he joins her; finally content. The terror of the night isn't real, but the beautiful dream is.
The Doctor removes his fingers from the duvet and lets his body fall completely onto the bed. This movement is delicate, however. He does not want to rid the room of the fresh, flowery smell that hits his nose as the bed moves with his weight. It takes him a moment of staring, of finding the ceiling's patterns, never changing, rather intricate and a good distraction from all of this, of these feelings he can no longer hold in.
He rolls over, smothers his face in her pillow, and takes a deep breath. The scent is overpowering now, these memories so believable that he half expects her to walk through the door and shake her head at him. He pictures her with hands on hips, smiling in that same cheeky tongue-through-teeth manner he'd grown so accustomed to, had grown to love so dearly.
This room that he has frequented, a bed that he had slept in…When did it become such a hardship to enter this room full of memories? Especially, he laments, when the memories were so wonderful?
The Doctor moves his head to the side so that he can see her nightstand, and his eyes lock on a singular object. He hears her laughter, can feel it radiating through the simple Polaroid she's framed. He hadn't wanted to get the photo taken, but he'd done it for her. She wanted something 'just in case,' something to remember him by in case she had to leave.
All of the effort of the photograph and she hadn't gotten to take it with her.
"Doctor, don't be daft." He hears the echo of her teasing tone, sees her blonde hair as she turns her head and the way it follows her before settling down her back. He watches her grin move and then the back of her head as she walks away. He follows, not too keen on her idea. To Rose it's simple, really; a single photograph to remind herself of them, of their time together and how much she's enjoying it. Granted it's years before she's supposed to exist, but she does not find this daunting. To the Doctor, the photograph could be something used against him, finding its way to malicious hands.
Her hands, however, are soft and her brown eyes pleading. He tries to avoid her gaze, but his efforts are in vain. He nods and her face lights up as she looks for somebody to take their photo. The Doctor finds a candidate in an older man, who is pleased to let the pair have a Polaroid from his film.
"Anything for a happy young couple." He grins and the pair smiles back, neither accepting nor denying the man's claims although quite frankly they aren't quite sure of exactly what they are. Instead the Doctor snakes his arm around Rose's hip, pulling her flush to his own frame. Her hand finds his chest, where she leans her head. The older man begins to count down to the moment he'll take the picture, and at the last second Rose feels a tickle at her side. She laughs and shoots the Doctor a look before poking him back.
The result is a shining-eyed Rose and her Doctor, close together with gaping mouths, in the middle of an infectious round of raucous laughter and tickling. He'd never been so happy to see those eyes, he recalls.
He opens his eyes again, realizing just how lost he seems to have been in his daydream. Amy stands in the doorway of Rose's old room, glancing around at the unfamiliar yet girlish surroundings, wondering just what the Doctor hasn't told her.
"I didn't mind, you know." Rose says, taking hold of his hand with her free one. The other clasps the Polaroid. He turns his head to her, confused, and she takes this glance as a question. "That people think we're…together."
He blinks at her, and she pretends to ignore the fact that he's wiping at his eyes, trying to shake some sort of feeling away.
"I'm glad." He replies simply, not sure of what else to say regarding that matter. He thinks over the things he could say, the things he's been wanting to say to her since he uttered the word 'run,' but he bites his tongue. They walk in silence for a bit longer, but Rose will not let the subject go. For some reason, she is feeling quite brave.
He sits up on Rose's bed then; smoothing the wrinkles he's made on her duvet. Amy watches as he pauses, not quite ready to leave.
"Do you…want to talk about it?" Amy asks, still standing in the door. He looks at her, his eyes full of something she can't quite read. There's something, she surmises, irrevocably missing in his life. There's something hurting him.
"I just…sometimes, I feel like we are, y'know?"He knows. He feels it too, he wants to reply. He does not, though, because she's not yet done. "And it wouldn't be such a bad thing."
"I suppose it wouldn't." This earns him a smack upon the arm and he laughs, shaking his head to indicate that he's just kidding with her.
He shakes his head, not quite sure if he'll ever be ready to talk about it. Rose…Rose was something special. Something he doesn't think he'll ever be able to get over.
But maybe talking will help.
"Her name was Rose."
"I mean, I told you I'm staying forever-"
"-You won't have forever-" She glares at him with this reminder, but in a way that is laced with admiration and determination and…love. He imagines he must be dreaming, but she displays it so clearly, without any shame…He wishes he could be more like her, more like something she deserves.
"Did she travel with you?" Amy moves a bit farther into the room, looking upon the belongings of the mystery person. She stops to look at the photograph, smiling a bit at his old form, at the happiness so clearly written on both of their faces.
"Yes." He rises from her bed now, and his red-haired companion follows him as he makes his way from her room.
"Did you love her?"
"I'm just saying…Forever's a pretty long time, even if it's only my forever. That's a lot of time to waste." Somehow, he gets where she is going with this. He squeezes her hand and then moves his own so that it is wrapped around her waist, so that he is half-hugging her as they walk back to the TARDIS.
"Well then it would be a shame to waste your forever, wouldn't it?"
He closes the door to Rose's room and now they're standing outside of it, he and Amy. The Doctor takes one last, lingering look at its white wood and gives her a forlorn smile. Maybe talking about things won't be so bad. Maybe it will help.
"More than anything."