Old Man, New New New Man
Disclaimer: We all know how Doctor Who would have turned out had I any claim over it.
Author's Note: A very simple one-shot, but I hope you enjoy nonetheless. (Apologies to anyone who read while the whole text was bold; I dunno what was up with that...)
It'd been years since Clara left and the Doctor was once again on his own. This time, it was different. This time he chose to be alone, not because he was afraid of ruining someone else's life (though he didn't think he'd ever stop being afraid of that), but simply because the Doctor needed to prove to himself he was trustworthy enough to be on his own. Clara had been a lovely distraction from all that had gone wrong in his life since the Time War. The mystery that had shrouded the young woman had intrigued him like so many before her had. In the end, he'd simply been glad that Clara was able to get her happy ending, setting forth on her own grand adventures.
He would deny it if anyone ever accused him of being gloomy after she left (they all left in the end, one way or the other, didn't they? One would think he'd be used to it by now), but this time the Doctor had no need to sit in a cloud, pretending to do nothing, for a decade. He took a small reprieve, but then it was back to rushing head-on into the next adventure. He met many amazing people, but none of them had that...oh, what's the word? Zest! Yes, that's it. No one he'd met lately had the zest he looked for in a companion. Maybe he was just getting old... Oh, now there was a thought, he grumbled glumly.
Not a great way to start the day... Well, what passed as day in the TARDIS. The Doctor looked around the console room. It reminded him a lot of the way the Old Girl used to be. Clara had proclaimed it to be beautiful, if a bit cold, the second time she stepped into the ship. She'd gotten a pure-white room and a cold shower for a week for her troubles. The TARDIS eventually warmed up to Clara, the mysterious girl who seemed to appear everywhere and everywhen, especially when she saved his life for the third time. The Old Girl could never hold a grudge against someone who saved her Time Lord's life.
The TARDIS would never allow him to invite anyone along that she didn't like. Some she liked more than others, some she was indifferent to, and others she loved. She always mourned a companion's loss with him and none so much as one pink and yellow human...
The Doctor shook his head. It'd been awhile since he thought of her. Oh, she was always there, in the back of his large, Time Lord mind, but rarely did he allow his thoughts drift to her. He always tried to never look back, but she was the one being in the universe, besides the TARDIS, that he ever...
Suddenly, he knew exactly where he wanted to go. He ran around the console, pushing at buttons, flicking at one lever, pulling at another lever, and then holding on for dear life as his precious ship travelled through the vortex to land in their favourite place of all. Good ol' jolly London, circa...he checked the monitor, 2009. It wasn't their usual district, though. No, this was Ealing. He'd been here a few times and most recently to visit Sarah Jane Smith. Last time had been a bit of a disaster, to be honest, but things had worked out in the end. This time he hoped to make his visit a bit (or, if he was lucky, a lot) quieter.
Usually, he'd complain that quiet was boring. Who wanted quiet? Only grown-ups did and they were quite the boring lot (well, some...okay, most of them). Sarah Jane wasn't one of them, though; she wasn't boring. Plus, with the small mishap he'd had on Jasipton the other day, quiet might just be what he needed. Reaching 13 Bannerman Road, he rang the doorbell.
When Sarah Jane Smith had woken up this morning, she never would have guessed that, a few hours later, she'd be opening her door and finding the Doctor standing outside. In fact, quite a few things that had happened today would not have even crossed her mind had they not occurred. The fact that he rang the doorbell like any normal person was enough to make her pause.
Green eyes, fathomless and ancient, peered down at her and they sparkled as the Doctor grinned. "Hello Sarah Jane."
"Doctor." She returned the smile as she stepped aside. "Won't you come in?"
"Don't mind if I do."
Closing the door, Sarah Jane had to wonder at the visit. The Doctor was never one for social calls, so she had to ask, "Is everything alright?"
He hummed absent-mindedly as he looked around the living room. "Oh. Yes, everything's fine. Was just in the neighborhood, thought I'd stop by for a visit."
The brunette woman arched a brow. He didn't seem to be looking for anything, but the Doctor could hide his intentions well sometimes. Coincidences were flying high today, if he truly wasn't looking for anything. "Are you sure nothing's going on? No strange energy readings? Iffy neighbours?"
He shook his head. "Nope. Really, just thought I'd drop by." He was earnest and sincere.
Sarah Jane was touched. The Time Lord had changed so much from when she'd first travelled with him. He was even different from his previous self. His tenth self had been so bouncy and full of energy, but there had been a darkness that he balanced over precariously. It had seemed to carry out into this regeneration, but the man before her now was calmer somehow. He seemed almost at peace with himself, though there was no mistaking the manic energy that always surrounded him. This Doctor was a lot more at ease with everything. More...mature, for lack of a better term. Before she could say anything else, a voice called out to her from the kitchen.
"Sarah Jane, where do you keep...?" The voice trailed off and the figure stood at the entryway of the sitting room.
The Doctor whirled around at the sound of that voice. It couldn't be. Taking in blonde hair that was a lot longer than he'd ever seen it, he trailed down to a curvy body he had once known so well clad in jeans and a form-fitting jumper before making his way up again, his eyes staring straight into honey eyes. His hearts started beating quickly.
Rose Tyler never thought she'd be looking at eyes that were too ancient for a face so young. After the last time at Bad Wolf Bay, where the Doctor, the other Doctor had left her mum, her Doctor, and herself, she would never have guessed she'd be back here. She had looked forward to living her life with her new, new, new Doctor and they had. They had had over sixty years together, but it came to an end when her Doctor died of the one thing that he never thought he'd die of: old age. His still sparkling brown eyes, set on a wrinkled face, had looked up at her and he'd extracted a promise from her to live on. So she did. She continued to work for Torchwood, a Torchwood that was a lot more tolerable than the one she'd left behind, thanks to her and her Doctor.
After the Earth's first alien encounter, visas were given to those who wanted to visit. By the time her little brother Tony's first child was born, they even had a few U.K. citizens.
Rose had been in Cardiff when her world once again turned upside down for the first time in seventy-two years. The rift, which had been dormant for as long as she could remember, suddenly flared to life and she'd felt a similar sensation to the dimension cannons, before she was spat out somewhere that looked a lot like... Finding a newspaper stand, she confirmed that she was back in her original universe, barely a few months after she'd last been here. The eight of January, in the year 2009. She wondered at trying to contact Jack, knowing from her Doctor that he was in charge of Torchwood Three, but there was something in the air that told her it would be a bad idea to look for him. Something was coming, something Rose couldn't be here for and it would break his heart... She wiped the tears that suddenly fell down her cheeks. Whatever it was, she swore to be here when it was over. With that in mind, she decided to head to London. She found a dark alley and, with a golden flash, she was gone.
Arriving at an equally dark alley, she looked around, and found herself at the edge of a quiet residential home. Her senses, the ones developed thanks to Bad Wolf, led her to the front door of a number 13. Knocking cautiously, Rose gasped in surprise.
The woman inside was equally stunned, but she got over it a lot sooner and threw her arms around the blonde. "Rose Tyler."
Tears welled in Rose's eyes. "Sarah Jane Smith."
"Oh, do come in."
"Sorry for the early call." She looked to the side and saw the sun was barely starting to peak over.
"You are always welcome here." Sarah Jane smiled as she closed the door.
Rose came back to the present as she observed the man in Sarah Jane's living room. He was young-looking, maybe his late twenties at the most, with floppy hair that covered a slightly large forehead. He was wearing a grey suit, the jacket unbuttoned, revealing a matching waistcoat, and, on his neck, was... "A bowtie?" She raised a brow. "Really?"
A hand went up to said object and he defended his favourite accessory. "I'll have you know, Rose Tyler, that bowties are cool!"
Her breath hitched. There was no denying it now. No one had ever said her name quite like he had, no matter the different face. It was the intonation that made all the difference. Out of the corner of her eye, she saw Sarah Jane smile and make her way upstairs. Rose turned her gaze back at this new, new, new, new Doctor and couldn't help but ask, "Never look back?"
The Doctor shook his head. "Never. Never ever. Except for those special few."
"We're all so special to you."
"There will never be anyone as special as you."
It surprised her that he could even admit that when the last time she'd asked the Doctor how his sentence was going to end their first time at Bad Wolf Bay, he'd dodged it completely. Suddenly, Rose looked up as she felt a palm cup her cheek.
"Rose Tyler, it most definitely needs saying. I love you." With that, for the second time in three regenerations, he pulled her in for a kiss, his arms automatically wrapping around her waist to bring her closer. There was none of that awkward hand-waving he did when other women would attack him with their lips. This time, he was doing the snogging and the Doctor's natural reaction to Rose Tyler was always to bring her closer, even when he tried to keep her at a distance at the same time. It was right then and there that he swore to never let her go. He had waited for this moment for too long, all his life it seemed and he was impatient to have it all. His tongue parted her lips and dived into her mouth, exploring her carefully, but no less passionately. The Doctor felt her arms tighten around him and his body responded by pressing closer to her, if it were possible. Oh, but it was. Giving her lower lip a nip, he parted to let her catch her breath, his respiratory bypass ready to kick in as his hearts continued to work overtime.
"I don't think Sarah Jane would appreciate it if her son came home to find a couple of strangers snogging in his living room."
"Mmm, guess that means we better move into the TARDIS." He weaved his hand down to capture one of hers and they stared at one another as their fingers twined together perfectly. It seemed he was always made for her.
Sarah Jane came down a few minutes later and rolled her eyes at her open front door. She'd give the two a good scolding next time. For now, she was just happy her friends had found each other again. The Doctor and Rose Tyler, just as it should be. She had a feeling the universe would find hell if it tried to separate them ever again.
Things weren't always easy for them. Sometimes the Doctor forgot that Rose wasn't completely human anymore and he'd do something foolish. But he never tried to send her away. He knew that second chances rarely happened, never mind a third opportunity. Sometimes they would fight and, only once, had she ever threatened to leave.
Rose had felt the weight of guilt after she said that because the Doctor would look at her from the corner of his eye at times, as if she'd vanish without a never-you-mind. Finally, the staring got to be too much and she couldn't help but ask, "What are you going to do when I leave?" She wouldn't. She couldn't. She'd never. But what if she did?
Green eyes stared at the blonde intensely. A long time ago, oh such a long time ago, back when he'd been fresh out of the war and he'd met this naive blonde girl, had she left him, the Doctor would have watched her go. It would have hurt, but, like in his dreams when he'd been John Smith for a short while, he would have watched her walk away, taking his two hearts with her. Now, though, now there was absolutely nothing he wouldn't do for her. Just as he was certain Rose would do anything for him. If she left... There was only one answer, of course. "Come after you."
With that, he pulled her in to kiss the brilliant smile right off her face. Never let it be said he was too old to learn his lesson.