A/N: Sequel to 'Obligation', although you don't necessarily have to read that first. Revamped and reposted as I wasn't really happy with the first draft, plus some things were pointed out to me and I felt the need to sort it all out in one chapter rather than a series of chapters. With thanks to Erica01, who gave me the nudge I needed to go back and sort out the rushed bits and explain how Rose came to take him back. Now with Pete and Jackie! Hopefully this version is better!
"You don't need all that makeup, you know,"
Rose dropped the mascara wand in shock, frozen in place as she stared in the mirror on the wall. She could see him reflected in the mirror, but still she didn't want to believe he was back. Swallowing, she turned slowly, forcing herself to look at him, to see if he was real or if she was imagining him. Again. However, unlike the times before, Jonathan was really there.
"Y- You're back," she murmured dumbly, silently cursing herself for stating the obvious.
"I am." Jonathan replied, smiling slightly as he leant against the wall "Sorry, I let myself in; I wasn't sure you'd be up,"
"I'm always up at this time," Rose replied flippantly, turning back to finish applying her makeup.
Jonathan merely made a little noise of agreement and glanced around her bedroom. He had, of course, noticed the changes in the apartment as soon as he'd stepped inside, but hadn't given it much thought until now. The entire apartment was much neater than when he'd last been here five months previously, and Jonathan had originally passed it off as the fact that Rose was older now, but here she was, piling on the makeup much as she had done when she was nineteen. That, coupled with Rose's remark about how she was always up this early- a discrete glance at Rose's alarm clock told him it was just gone six thirty in the morning- made Jonathan wonder what exactly had happened while he'd been away.
"So," he piped up cheerily "how have you been?"
"Same as ever," Rose answered a little too quickly.
Jonathan raised an eyebrow, but didn't question her.
"Still at Torchwood?" he asked.
"Of course," Rose answered, beginning to tidy her makeup away.
She wouldn't look at him, Jonathan noticed. He sighed.
"I really am sorry for leaving, you know." He told her suddenly, quietly.
Rose merely shrugged, finally looking over her shoulder to meet his gaze.
"You did what you had to do." She replied levelly.
"Yeah." Jonathan agreed softly "But…But I think I'm better now. I've sorted it. I think I just…I panicked. The whole becoming human thing, it just…threw me, I suppose. And I know that that's no excuse, but I think I've come to terms with it now. I've accepted the truth."
"And?" Rose prompted, a glimmer of hope shining through her otherwise neutral expression.
"I love you, Rose Tyler. I guess I was just too scared to see it before. I was scared, and…And I was angry. Not with you, never with you, but with him. Me. The Time Lord Doctor. Both of us." Jonathan sighed, rubbing his eyes as he began to get confused "I was angry that he'd left us again, left you."
"What do you mean?" Rose asked quietly, beginning to get confused.
"Rose, that's, what, the second time he's left you now? He left you without as much as a goodbye! And…And I'm angry with myself because that was me. We're the same person and we just…We abandoned you. And then I did the same. Because I was scared. And… And I didn't want to let you down."
"Let me down?" Rose echoed, brow furrowing.
"I didn't want to fail you, Rose."
Rose snorted, looking away.
"And yet you walked out on me." She muttered.
" I'm not used to being tied down to one place for more than a few weeks." The Doctor protested, eyes wide and pleading "Admittedly, I did stay on Earth for a number of years, but that was when the Time Lords exiled me, so I had little choice in the matter. My point is, I don't really know how to be human, and I wasn't sure I'd cope. But I think, in the last few months, I've come to…accept it. That's why I came back. I still may not be the perfect human, Rose, but I don't think I'll fail you now." Jonathan explained.
Rose merely blinked, and Jonathan felt a sense of dread.
"That's…That's if you want me back." He added meekly "If you want, I could just go find a hotel to stay in, or something… "
He turned and began to leave bedroom, but stopped when he felt a hand on his arm. Turning slowly, he saw Rose stood there, wide-eyed. All the anger and bitterness that had met him when he'd arrived a few minutes ago had melted away, leaving only vulnerability in Rose's eyes. However, Jonathan knew that that didn't mean she wasn't still angry with him.
"You're really back, aren't you?" she asked quietly.
"I am." Jonathan agreed "If you'll have me."
Instead of replying, Rose launched herself at him, hugging him tight. Jonathan needed little encouragement, and he was soon hugging her back. It wasn't long before he became aware that Rose was sobbing. Pulling back slightly, he cupped her face, angling her chin up so she was looking at him.
"What's the matter?" he asked gently.
"I…I wasn't sure you'd come back." Rose admitted softly.
"Oh, Rose." Jonathan murmured "I'd always come back for you."
"But he didn't." Rose reminded him quietly.
Jonathan froze. She was right, of course she was right.
"I know, and I'm sorry for that. But I'll prove myself to you, Rose. I will."
Jonathan sat on the edge of Rose's sofa, feeling rather awkward. The pair had descended into silence when Rose had abruptly pulled away from him, her face a blank mask. She had since hurried to the kitchen to switch the kettle on, leaving a frankly worried Jonathan alone. Just then, Rose entered from the kitchen carrying two cups of tea. She handed one to Jonathan before sitting beside him. They remained in an awkward silence.
"So," Jonathan started awkwardly after a while "how have you really been, Rose?"
"I'm fine. I said so earlier." Rose replied, shoulders tensing slightly.
"Rose," Jonathan sighed, turning to face her better "come on, please?"
Rose sighed in annoyance now, clutching her cup of tea tight in her hands, knuckles going white.
"I've been alright, I suppose." Rose told him testily, not meeting his eyes "Been working all hours at Torchwood, doing extra shifts and overtime and stuff, to keep busy. Mum and Dad tried to stop me at first, but it helped me. I didn't feel so…alone. Probably because by the time I got home at night I was too tired to notice that you weren't here."
Her tone was bitter, and Jonathan bit his lip, unsure how to reply.
"Rose…" he began cautiously.
"Doesn't matter," Rose told him quickly, meeting his eyes for the first time since their hug "can't say it's the first time that it's happened to me."
Jonathan's heart sank at the statement, knowing that she was talking about the Time Lord him. It made his one human heart ache at the thought. He knew now why Rose was back to wearing loads of makeup: he'd abandoned her, left her heartbroken and unsure, so of course Rose had done the one thing she'd known to do since she was twelve years old. She'd hid the uncertainty and self-consciousness and embarrassment and humiliation behind layers of makeup.
"Rose," he began quietly, pleading "I really am sorry."
Rose snorted, looking away across the room.
"You say that word a lot, you know," Rose told him bitterly "it's starting to lose all meaning."
Jonathan winced, clutching his reddening cheek. Jackie Tyler stood in front of him, arms folded as she glared at him. Jonathan couldn't help but notice that Pete didn't look particularly pleased either, but at least little Tony looked excited at seeing him again.
"I hope you realise you're not just gonna swan back into Rose's life after everything she's been through these past few months!" Jackie told him angrily.
Rose rolled her eyes and pushed past both Jonathan and her Mum, to take her little brother from Pete, who was still stood in the doorway of Rose's apartment.
"Shut the door will you, Dad?" Rose told Pete in annoyance "We're attracting an audience."
Pete quickly shut the door, glaring at the embarrassed man who'd been watching them from across the hallway.
"Jackie, Pete-" Jonathan began, ready to beg.
However, he was quickly interrupted by Pete.
"I think you'll find it's Mr and Mrs Tyler to you, Mr Noble."
Jonathan's single heart sank, and he swallowed a lump in his throat before nodding.
"Yes sir." Jonathan replied thickly, having to take a deep breath before he began speaking again. He wouldn't cry, not in front of Jackie and Pete. "I really am sorry for leaving Rose. I'll never do it again, and I'll never stop regretting it for the rest of my life, but I love her, I really do."
"Funny way of showing it." She muttered.
"I was scared." Jonathan told Jackie quickly, imploring her to understand "I was angry at the Time Lord me for leaving me, and Rose, here, and I was panicking, because I've never had to do this sort of thing before… But I've accepted who I am now, I've accepted that I'm human, and that I'll have to change and adapt. And…And I'm willing to do that- to change, that is-, and I'm willing to accept it…If Rose, and you, will accept me."
Something softened in Jackie's eyes, but Pete still looked unconvinced, and he looked across the sitting room to where Rose was now playing with Tony. Confused by the sudden lull in conversation, Rose looked up and across the room.
"Tony," Pete announced suddenly, watching his daughter carefully as he spoke to his son "can you play on your own for a while? Rose, your mother, Mr Noble and I need to have a talk in the kitchen."
The boy hummed happily, distracted by his colouring, and barely even noticed as the adults headed out of the room. Once they were in the kitchen, Pete shut the door behind them.
"Rose, are you comfortable with letting Mr Noble… are you comfortable with letting Jonathan back into your life?" Pete asked his daughter carefully.
Rose looked between Jonathan and her parents for a moment or two before replying.
"Dad," she started cautiously "the Doctor did the exact same thing to me, and I still took him back. Actually, the Doctor even threatened to leave me in 1987 once."
Pete and Jackie both frowned at this, and filed the information away to question the pair on it later.
"That wasn't what I asked, Rose," Pete pointed out to his daughter.
There was another moment's pause.
"You saw how bad I was when he was gone, Dad," Rose told her father quietly "I don't think it was ever a question of whether or not I'd take him back." She then raised her voice, and looked over at Jonathan. "That's not to say it won't take a bit of convincing to assure me he won't do it again, but I know he is really sorry for what he did, and…And I love him."
"But earlier…" Jonathan began, frowning slightly, although he couldn't stop the swell of pride that filled him when Rose said she still loved him.
"I was angry." Rose told him with a sigh "I was annoyed, and…I was scared. I'd been so sure you weren't coming back. I mean, it's been five months."
Jonathan looked down, feeling incredibly guilty. However, he suddenly felt a hand on his arm, and he looked up again. Rose was smiling uncertainly at him.
"But," Rose continued with a small smile "I understand that it's something he had to do, and although it will take some time, I'm sure we can make this work."
Pete sighed and turned his attention to Jonathan.
"You hurt my daughter like that again Jonathan, and you'll have to deal with me. Understand?"
"Yes sir." Jonathan replied, although a small smile was forming on his lips "And it won't happen again."
Pete shook his head, smiling slightly, and Jonathan suddenly found himself being hugged tight by Jackie before she kissed him on the forehead. Jonathan was tempted to pull a face at that, but stopped himself when he realised something. They may still have a way to go until he and Rose's relationship was fully fixed, but this was a start. This was acceptance.