Author's Note: Between my daughter and I both being caught in a vicious timeloop of strep throat and flu (twice!) and a rekindling of love for an old fandom, this last chapter has been greatly delayed but I would like to think that it was worth the wait. I hope you enjoy it. :)

And I must admit that I have grown more attached to this pairing than I thought that I would and by the reading numbers on both sites, I think you have too. In saying that, I am pretty sure that I will be writing again for them as I have some ideas rumbling around in my mind. One of them foremost is having Barbara and Ian discover the TARDIS. What do you think?

Oh, and there's a little inside joke for any Archers fans. I love The Archers and eagerly await the Sunday omnibus. Thank goodness for the internet! :)

And a very Happy Birthday to my beautiful little girl!

Disclaimer: I do not own anything in relation to Dr. Who or The Archers.

Weeks have passed and the Doctor continues to remain silent regarding his true origins. He knows that he needs to be honest with Rose about who he truly is and the life that he lives but he's still hesitant as he's afraid that it's the very elements of that life which might drive her away.

The Doctor and Rose are currently in the park near the lake sitting on what is now commonly referred to as 'their' bench dining on fish and chips wrapped in newspaper. Rose takes a few sips of her soda before inquiring, "So, what would you like to do today, Doctor?"

He smiles craftily as he rummages through his coat pocket and pulls out a piece of crumpled paper. "You know me so well, my dear! Now, I've been doing some research on the city's attractions and I've made up an itinerary. Why don't you take a look at it and tell me what you think."

She accepts the list and scans the names of the various tourist sites and a quick peek at him reveals the barest hint of a devious smile playing about his lips. She peers down again at the Doctor's scrawl with bright eyes that are moist from unshed tears when she reads the list again.

Imperial War Museum

London Eye

O2 Arena

Victoria and Albert Museum

Eastbury Manor House

Yardley's Sweet Shoppe – 3 lb.s of gobstoppers for me, 1 pound lb. of jelly babies for Susan

Orleans House Gallery

Underground

Her outward calm and collected composure is only betrayed by the slight sniffle that she is unable to hide when she notices that the first letter of each word spells out 'I love you'. He has never once spoken the words but she knows how he feels about her. They simply couldn't have this type of instant connection, this feeling that the entire planet was hurtling around the sun and they were falling through space if he didn't love her as much as she has come to love him.

She glances down again at the itinerary and smirks. He thinks he's so impressive. She faces him and notes, "Well, it seems as though you've put a lot of thought into this."

The Doctor watches her closely as though studying a specimen so that he may evaluate her every reaction. He clasps both hands around the handle of his cane as if he's readying himself to push off and run at the slightest indication. "And what do you think?" he asks gruffly.

Rose stares back at him shrewdly and commends, "I can see the merit in your idea and I love it very much."

His rigid posture promptly sags in relief and his entire countenance softens as he gazes at her. "You're quite sure?" he questions expectantly seeking reassurance.

Rose leans over and kisses his cheek while placing her hand over the two of his own that are still clutching his cane in a death grip and whispers in his ear. Whatever she tells him obviously satisfies the Doctor as the remainder of his lunch is left untouched and he refuses to move his hands from underneath Rose's hold. His only verbal response to her declaration was a smug, "Quite right too!"

Once Rose has finished her lunch and the Doctor has wrapped up the remnants of his and stuffed them in his coat pocket, he turns to her with a serious expression, his tone very grave. "Rose, there's something that I need to tell you, something so important that it may very well change the way that you feel about me."

Glancing at the blue police box several yards away, Rose queries teasingly, "Is it that you're a bit old fashioned? Because I've seen you enter that phone box frequently over the past few weeks. Now I know that you're a bit on the…frugal side but honestly, don't you think it's time to invest in a mobile?"

The Doctor ignores her banter and forges ahead. He gestures towards the TARDIS and proclaims, "That is no ordinary phone box, Rose Tyler, it is in fact a very basic component of who I truly am."

Rose's gaze travels to the phone box once more as she cheekily inquires, "And who's that then? Clark Kent?"

His brow furrows in consternation as he tries to deduce the significance of her reference. "I'm sorry, but I'm not familiar with that particular gentleman."

She releases an amused laugh until she realizes that he's serious. "You're kidding, right?" When there's no response from the Doctor other than silence, she adds, "Long tights, a cape and a big red S on his shirt?" The Doctor merely continues to stare at her in confusion. "Wow, Doctor, you really need to get out more."

The Doctor huffs in frustration and he doesn't need to see timelines to know that he's getting nowhere fast. "Rose, that box over there is not a police phone box; it is however, my ship!"

"Your ship?" repeats Rose flatly.

"Yes," declares the Doctor with a tight squeeze to her hand. "That is the ship that Susan and I travel in when we cross the Vortex."

"The Vortex?" questions Rose with a mixture of worry and confusion. "Doctor, what are you on about?"

"The Time Vortex to be precise. It's the medium that travelers like myself and Susan use to transverse time and space, to go between now and tomorrow so to speak."

"I see," notes Rose as she shifts into a more comfortable position and tries to ascertain if the Doctor is joking or not. "And do you do this often?"

Mistaking her concern for interest, he proudly proclaims, "As often as we can, or as often as we used to until we decided to stay here for the time being."

She scrutinizes his every movement along with his tone and expression and comes to the overwhelming conclusion that he's completely serious. Her eyes widen in a combination of shock and pity as she gazes back at him. "You actually believe what you're saying; you honestly think that phone box is your ship!"

"Well of course I do!" insists the Doctor. He appears a bit uncomfortable as he confesses, "True, I don't exactly have any credentials of ownership in my possession but it most definitely is my ship."

Rose sits there pondering his words. My poor deluded Doctor…and poor Susan! Does she even know how bad he is? Maybe if I ask him to take me there, he'll snap out of it when he sees my reaction. Oh, Doctor, we're so close now, I couldn't bear for any walls to come between us, especially if they're white ones made out of rubber and padding.

Releasing a sigh and taking a deep breath for courage, Rose stands up and requests, "Doctor, may I please see your ship?"

Eyes alight with excitement, he offers her his arm and cries, "Why Rose Tyler, I'd be delighted!"

He rapidly escorts her to the phone box and stops outside the front door while he withdraws his key. Before he inserts it, he announces, "Rose Tyler, welcome to the TARDIS," and then he unlocks the door and pushes it open for her to enter.

With a kind smile, Rose steps inside the ship and enters the console room. Her gaze instantly darts around the interior in a sudden blind panic and then she proceeds to practically knock the Doctor down to the ground as she barrels past him. He speedily gathers himself together and is about to give chase when he sees Rose coming back around the TARDIS.

She blankly stares at him before determinedly circling the TARDIS again and finishing her mission to arrive standing before him once more. "It's smaller on the outside!" she exclaims breathlessly.

He takes but a moment to register her observation before throwing his head back in delighted laughter. "Rose Tyler! Leave it to you to be the one who stands apart from all the rest!"

Choosing not to respond to him right away, she instead volleyballs her gaze back and forth between him and the TARDIS. "B-b-but how?" she sputters disbelievingly.

"Why don't we move our conversation inside, Rose, and I promise that I'll explain everything," he suggests kindly.

She nods silently, still dazed by her discovery, and allows the Doctor to usher her back inside the phone box. Once she's crossed the threshold, she slowly scans the console room and takes in every detail.

As she surveys the room, she notices a King George chair in the room. She's extremely grateful for that simple bit of home at the moment seeing as she feels that her legs might very well go out from under her at any second. Her gaze travels to the round bits that are sticking out from the walls and the hexagonal shaped table in the center of the room. No wait, on second glance she thinks that it might be some sort of electronic console since it has so many dials and switches. Perhaps it's Susan's stereo system, pretty elaborate that. Then she ends her visual tour as her eyes spy a clock sitting atop a pedestal. It's nothing special really, except for the comfort that it brings her. It's just another common household item onboard this astounding ship, yet reminding her that she's still safely on Earth…where she belongs. However, now that she's seen what she's seen, does she still believe that she belongs with this man?

The Doctor stares at her with a slightly worried expression and hesitantly inquires, "So, my dear, where do you want to start?"

She stares back at him in sheer wonder and replies, "Doctor, this isn't humanly possible."

His unyielding stance belies the tumultuous storm that is brewing inside him. "No, it's not."

Rose gasps and her eyes widen in realization. "Does that mean that you're not human?"

"Yes," he declares as he tries to hide a nervous swallow. "Is that alright?"

She walks away from him, further into the room while she looks all around her, and then turns to face him as she leans back against the console.

For all of his bluster and stiff upper lip dignity, alien or not, he is still a man. But not just any man, but the man that she has come to love so dearly with all of her heart in so short a time. A brief once over reveals his rigid frame, his white knuckled death grip on his cane and a tight lipped grimace.

Nevertheless, despite the discomfiture these signs bring to her, it is the anguish radiating from his gaze as he awaits her answer that settles the matter for her right then and there. He's always seemed a little alien to me anyway, she muses. So what's a little more then?

Eager to relieve his worry, she quickly makes her way back over to him without a moment's hesitation and lifts her hand to his cheek and tells him, "Of course it's alright, Doctor. I love you."

It takes but a moment for her response to register before he's pulling her tightly against him. "My precious Rose…," he allows himself a nervous gulp and then takes that final brave leap into the unknown. "I love you too."

They remain in the console room for quite some time, occasionally kissing, frequently cuddling, and every so often whispering words of endearment, but always in every moment, basking in their love. There was only one thing that could possibly draw them out of their own little world and thrust them back into the cold waiting arms of reality and Rose was the first one to bring it up.

"Doctor," she asks quietly as she rests her head on his shoulder and fingers his lapels, "how are we going to tell my mum?"

The Doctor makes a grimace of distaste that thankfully Rose is unable to see. Domestic, bah! He ponders the situation for awhile, quite studiously, and then arrives at the only solution that he can think of that makes any sense and will keep him well below Jackie Tyler's radar. "Rose, my love, does it really need saying?"

Lifting her head to stare at him in utter disbelief, she hauls her hand back and smacks his arm.

And that was the beginning of their first fight.

Fortunately, Rose forgave the Doctor rather quickly, especially after a few whispered sweet nothings and vows that his jest had been in poor taste and that Jackie Tyler was, in his humble opinion, the epitome of love, courage and nurturing that mothers everywhere should aspire to attain.

Oh well, he reflected, a few blackened, or shall I say, charred truths never hurt anyone.

However, to his great surprise and a grudging nod to Jackie's character, she actually took the news quite well. "I always knew that there was something off about him, Rose, I just didn't know it was off-world," she groused before settling herself on the TARDIS sofa to watch Eastenders.

And then the big day came, their first trip in the TARDIS since he and Susan had decided to stay. The two time travelers made quite a fuss over their guests as they instructed them on what to do for their first maiden voyage through time, albeit only twelve minutes ahead into the future. Too bad there was a slight miscalculation.

"You idiot!" rages Jackie in her pink velour tracksuit as she storms out of the TARDIS, banging her cane onto the pavement with each step.

"Mum, please!" begs Rose. "I'm sure it was just an honest mistake!"

Jackie whirls around in a fury and bellows, "Mistake? The only mistake made was taking him on as your bloke, Rose Tyler!" She stalks over to the Doctor and pokes him in the chest with her cane. "You swore to me that we would only be gone for twelve minutes," she waves her hand around to indicate the morning light, "and we've been gone for twelve hours!"

She whacks his arm with her cane. "You made me miss bingo!" She attacks him again. "And The Archers! Now I'll have to wait for the omnibus to find out if Alice takes that job in Canada!"

When she goes in for a third strike, he hurriedly brings his own cane up to block her blow. Susan yells, "Grandfather, no!"

The Doctor ignores his granddaughter's fearful warning and defends himself both physically and verbally. "She accosted me first!"

When their clashing of canes becomes more heated and aggressive and much too reminiscent of a sword fight, Rose shouts, "Mum, stop it! Doctor, please don't hurt her!"

"What are you on about, Rose?" barks the Doctor as he dodges another blow. "I'm merely defending myself!" A few more expert thrusts and parries have Jackie's eyes gleaming in satisfaction as the Doctor cries out, "My word! Who taught you how to fight, woman? Errol Flynn?"

As the Doctor and Jackie move their battle towards the center of the street, Jackie snarls, "This will teach you to lead my daughter on, you Cassanova! For weeks you've been taking my little girl out every night with no promise or even hint of a future!"

With a cry of outrage, the Doctor channels all of his anger into one final blow that knocks Jackie's cane out of her hand and nearly sends it flying down to the courtyard. "How dare you?" he growls fiercely. "How dare you not only insult me but impugn your daughter's honor in the process!"

"Do you honestly think that Rose would ever settle for less than she deserves? And I may not deserve her, but I intend to do my very best for the rest of my lives rectifying that, in the state of holy matrimony, mind you!" He steps away from Jackie's glower and the gobsmacked pair of Rose and Susan and begins pacing back and forth while muttering to no one in particular. "And to think…to think that I was going to offer that…that miserable old harridan her own room on the TARDIS just so that Rose wouldn't have to worry about her!"

"Hmmph!" grumps Jackie disbelievingly. "So when was this grand proposal supposed to take place then?"

He turns to her in exasperation and huffs, "When the time was right, woman! I want to wine her and dine her and fill her night with romance with a trip to the stars!" he proclaims as he lifts his hand to the sky. "Are you completely devoid of any inkling of romance and imagination in your soul?"

Jackie's ire simmers down to mere irritation at his declaration while the Doctor tugs on his lapels in an effort to restore not only his suit but his dignity. The effort to restore his suit went well but only so much could be done with his temper as he is overheard when he softly grumbles, "Were it thought that you had any soul."

Jackie's eyes catch fire as she advances on him. "I heard that you little -"

Her words are cut off as she's unexpectedly engulfed in a crushing hug from Rose while the Doctor is simultaneously being smothered by Susan. "Oh, Mum, can you believe it?" crows Rose. "I've never been so happy!"

Susan pulls away from the Doctor just long enough to pepper his cheeks with kisses before wrapping her arms back around him. "Oh, Grandfather! This is such wonderful news! I can't tell you how happy I am for the two of you!"

The Doctor and Jackie take turns staring at each other, completely flummoxed by their situation. "What's wrong with them?" questions Jackie suspiciously.

"I have no idea," he replies anxiously as he cringes when both Susan and Rose begin crying tears of joy and he has to suddenly activate his extra respiratory bypass when Susan clutches him in a stranglehold that would make a boa constrictor proud.

Staring silently at all three women with a befuddled look, he wonders what in Rassilon's name could have caused this predicament. I have absolutely no clue what just happened here, none at all. What could possibly be wrong with them? Hmmm. This must be how human males feel all the time. Quite disconcerting, really.

Later that day, the Doctor and Rose are now comfortably ensconced on 'their' bench enjoying freshly baked pretzels while watching a group of children push their toy boats into the water for a sailboat race.

Rose turns towards the Doctor with her tongue poking out between her teeth and casually mentions, "So…I really liked the way that you proposed to my mum."

The Doctor fixes her with a quelling glare before turning away to sulk. "It wasn't supposed to be like that, I had everything planned out to the minutest detail."

"I know," soothes Rose when she realizes that he's taken her teasing to heart. She raises her hand to his chin and gently turns him back to face her. "Don't you know by now that just being with you is all the romance that I need?" Her smile is no longer teasing but instead loving as she murmurs, "I don't need trips to the stars, Doctor, I only need the man who can take me to them."

The brightness of his smile could rival the sun as he grasps the hand that's still holding his chin and places a light kiss in the center of her palm before interlacing their fingers together. "Rose Tyler, what do I need with the wonders of the universe when I have you?"

She grins widely before she snuggles into his side and he kisses the top of her head. They continue to watch the boat races in companionable silence that's only broken when the Doctor remarks, "Rose, I was wondering what type of wedding that you were planning in terms of size. Are you thinking of having a large or private ceremony?"

"I haven't really thought about it, Doctor, what with the proposal being so sudden and all," she answers laughingly.

"But you did know that we were heading in that direction, didn't you?" he asks anxiously. "I did try my best to make my intentions clear to you."

"Well," she admits sheepishly, "I had hoped that we were moving that way but I didn't want to seem presumptuous."

The Doctor squeezes her hand reassuringly and promises, "There was never a need to worry about that my dear, not even the slightest iota."

She lifts her head off of his shoulder and inquires, "What about you, Doctor? Do you have any preferences for our wedding?"

The Doctor bears a bit of a grimace before he replies, "Well to be quite honest, I was hoping for a small ceremony. You see, it's not that I don't want a large wedding; in fact anyone who was willing to celebrate in our joy would be welcome. Unfortunately, neither Susan nor I have any family or friends besides each other and I'm afraid that glaring fact might draw unwanted attention that we have avoided so successfully thus far."

Relief floods Rose that he wasn't secretly having second thoughts and she immediately assures him. "The wedding frills don't matter to me, Doctor, what's important is the marriage." She settles back into his side and declares, "We'll simply have a nice quiet wedding ceremony."

"Oh," he states in a surprised tone, "so then your mother won't be attending?"

Rose doesn't even bother to lift her head as she smacks him and admonishes, "Rude, Doctor!" Then with a giggle, "You think you're so clever."

"Cleverer than most," is his speedy reply, "that's how I ended up with you, of course."

"Will you be laying it on any thicker?" she retorts. "If so, then I'll need to go home and fetch my wellies."

They share a laugh before the Doctor advises, "You might need them anyway, I plan on taking you on a more thorough tour of the TARDIS and some of the rooms need a bit of tidying up." He seems to drift off into himself as he mutters, "Although I suppose if you do end up needing some that we can always check the wardrobe or the boot cupboard for your size. I'm never quite sure where things are these days…"

The Doctor sobers instantly at Rose's quizzical glance and studies her intently as he begins to broach an unusually sensitive subject. "Rose, with the exception of Susan and barring my people, you know more about me and my ship than anyone else in the universe. Do you remember my telling you that I was bonded to the TARDIS and that she was bonded to my lifespan?"

At her silent nod, he continues, "Well, not only is the TARDIS alive but she also has a heart. It's a heart that she has shared with me and she has now, very kindly and quite generously," he reaches out to brush a loose tendril of hair away from her face, "and most lovingly offered to share with you."

Her expression reflects her confusion until he takes her hand and explains, "The TARDIS has offered to share her life-force with you, Rose, and in doing so, tie our lifespans together so that we would never be without the other. You would regenerate when I do or when you need to, but without the pain and from what I understand from the TARDIS, our next selves will be much younger. Apparently the old girl wants to keep us around for as long as she can."

He chuckles a bit and then returns to a more grave tone as he takes her silence for worry. "Now you wouldn't need to fear about losing any of yourself, Rose, you would still and always be completely human. And in being so, your appearance would never deviate from how you look now except to appear younger. Think of it, Rose Tyler! We could live and travel for decades or for as long as time will allow us for the rest of our lives!"

He takes both of her hands in his and holds one over each of his hearts while he vows, "Either way, Rose, I will love you forever. I just wanted you to know that this option was available to you because I always want you to have a choice."

Rose stares hard at him, her gaze filled with the intense love that she feels for this man before her. "I already made my choice, Doctor, not so long ago. I'm going to stay with you forever."

For a moment, neither one of them can do more than hold the other's gaze until the Doctor lifts each of Rose's hands up to his lips and brushes the gentlest of kisses across the knuckles of each hand before whispering, "Thank you."

They lean in close to each other to partake in the sweetest of kisses and unfortunately for them, also the briefest, as the children that they had been watching earlier start yelling, "Ewww! Gross!" in their direction.

At once, the Doctor stands in a rush of anger and starts searching his coat pockets. Rose asks, "What are you looking for?"

"I was looking for a particular instrument that I've been working on so that I could teach those young hooligans a lesson!" seethes the Doctor. When his pockets once again turn up empty, he faces Rose with a determined countenance. "Well never mind, but you be and sure to remind me to hurry up and finish that sonic screwdriver!"

He turns away again with a sigh. "Honestly though, at the rate it's taking me it won't even be ready until my next regeneration." He looks back to Rose and holds out his hand to help her up from the bench. "Shall we take that tour of the TARDIS now?"

She clasps his hand and rises gracefully and practically glowing with excitement. "Yes, let's go! But if it's alright with you, I would like to see the library first, you know how much I love to read!"

He pats her hand affectionately and assures, "Of course, my dear, your wish is my command." As they stroll over to the blue box parked near the lake amongst some trees, the Doctor notes, "We'll simply need to make a quick stop by the linen closet first for some towels."

Rose's brow crinkles in consternation as he she quizzes, "What on Earth for?"

The Doctor's tone is nonchalant as he replies, "To dry off the books, they tend to become a bit damp." He opens the TARDIS and explains as she enters, "You see, the library is in the swimming pool."

THE END