The Doctor tried his hardest to keep his eyes from wandering towards Rose. It had been a long time since he last saw her, but even so, he couldn't help the feelings he had once had for her coming back, stronger than ever.
He caught sight of the scars on her arm once again.
"Care to explain those?" he asked.
Rose gave him a tired look. "Slitheen, Pete's world. Had to take out a zeppelin full of 'em. Got it done, just got hit in the process."
He reached out, tracing his fingers over the jagged white lines. "I wish I had been there."
She shrugged, seeming irritated. "We handled it fine."
"Course you did," he said soothingly.
"What's the plan now, Doctor?" Rose asked him bluntly. "What do you want from me?"
"I want you to be Rose again," the Doctor answered honestly, for once.
"And what if that's not possible?"
"Impossible things have happened before. Don't you remember the dimension cannon?"
Rose's face was frozen in a stiff mask. "I remember all too well," she growled.
"I didn't want to leave you," the Doctor pleaded with her. "I just thought I was doing what was best."
"You just tend to choose options that are best for you," Rose said coldly. She stood, walking down to the water without a backward glance.
"I take it you guys have a troubled history."
The Doctor didn't take his eyes off of Rose to acknowledge Rory. "It wasn't troubled. At least, I didn't know it was until now."
"Then you need to rethink your definition of troubled." Rory sat down, his eyes also trained on Rose and Amy as they swam.
"What was she like? When she was with you?" the Doctor asked softly.
Rory considered. "Intense," he decided. "Still fun, at times. More than she is now, around you, but there was always something dark underneath. I got the feeling that if she wanted something, nothing would stop her from getting it."
The Doctor buried his face in his hands. "How do I reach her?" he mumbled, mostly to himself, but Rory still answered.
"I'm with you, Doctor. I want to see her fixed."
"Is it possible?" the Doctor whispered.
"Thanks for the support," the Doctor said drily.
The Doctor started up, seeing Rose arguing with an inhabitant of Raxicoricofallipatorius.
Rory voiced his thoughts. "Uh oh."
Just another run for their lives scenario. The usual. Except Rose wasn't smiling.
Rory watched from a distance as Wolf scrubbed her hands wearily across her face. The safe thing to do would be to leave her alone. But Rory Williams was not a coward.
"So, this whole thing you have with the Doctor . . ."
Bad Wolf gave him a sharp look. "I don't have a thing with him."
"You're a bad liar." He ignored her scowl. "I'm just saying, you should try to loosen up. You're on edge all the time, and trust me, I can tell."
Her face softened into something like sorrow. "But if I do, then I'll fall apart."
"If you do, then we'll be here to pick up the pieces," Rory promised.
She quirked an eyebrow at him. "Yeah?"
There was a comfortable silence, and then Bad Wolf sighed. "Guess we'll start small, then. Call me Rose."
"Rose," Rory repeated. "I like it."
She was silent a moment longer, and then she stood. "I can do this."
"Do what?" Rory asked suspiciously.
Rose closed her eyes, and then offered Rory a small quirk of the lips that was almost a smile. "Be who I used to be."
She promised Rory. She would try. She was Rose Tyler, defender of earth, for crying out loud. She could do this.
If only smiling wasn't so difficult.
Rose found the Doctor in his bedroom. She slipped in, gliding silently over to sit on the edge of the bed, next to him. He looked up from fiddling with some sort of technology, offering her a small smile.
Rose closed her eyes. She couldn't look at him, when she did this. "When you left me on the beach, the second time, the other you . . . he died." She pulled out the ring he had given her from around the chain on her neck.
She could practically feel him gaping. Rose shook her head, her laugh watery. "Funny, I hardly knew him. But you had just convinced me that he was you, that I was going to have a full life, and to lose you, right there . . ."
Rose allowed herself one sob, and then choked down the rest. The Doctor's voice was soft. "Rose . . ."
"Let me finish. I have to get this out," Rose interrupted. She took a deep, shuddering breath. "He said the TARDIS had been keeping him alive, but a human wasn't supposed to have a Time Lord's mind."
The Doctor breathed, "Donna."
Rose shot him a sharp glance. "Did she die?"
The Doctor quickly shook his head, but the guilt didn't disappear from his face. "She . . . I had to erase her memory."
Rose nodded in acceptance. She continued, her voice catching. "I . . . didn't do so well, after that. Kind of, well, lost myself. Got depressed, you know?" Rose turned over her wrist, and the Doctor caught sight of the scars there.
"Rose," he whispered, but Rose continued her story.
"It was a long time, until I found Jack. I got him to get me a vortex manipulator. He decided to come with me, once the cracks allowed me to get to our universe." There was a long pause.
Finally, the Doctor nodded. "Thank you for telling me this, Rose."
Rose twitched her shoulders in a semblance of a shrug. "I figured someone should know."
The Doctor's hand drifted over to Rose's. "I missed you. Leaving you . . . it was the hardest thing I've ever done. I just wanted you to be happy. And later, before my regeneration, I even . . ." His pause was longer, and Rose took the time to study his new face. There's something sad about the way his eyes curved, and the set of his brows. Rose still wasn't sure she'd seen him really smile.
"Doctor?" she prompted.
"New Year's. 2005. I bet you're going to have a really great year."
Rose cast her mind back to that distant holiday. Her eyes burned with tears. "That was you?"
"I had to see you, one last time, before I died."
"Doctor," Rose murmured. Her hand squeezed his convulsively. It still felt so right.
"Promise me, Rose, that you won't . . ." the Doctor ghosted his fingers over her scars.
"I never . . ." Rose swallowed. "I could never do it. Not completely. As angry as I was, I still couldn't do it, because of you."
The Doctor leaned over and kissed her on the forehead. "I'm glad."
"Yeah, me too." Rose allowed herself to be gathered into a hug. She didn't deserve a second chance. But maybe she was getting one anyway.
Amy was startled to find Rose opening up more and more as the days went on. She had written off the girl at first as some bad-tempered, time-traveling hussy, but the girl was all right.
Ruefully, Amy found herself remembering an elementary school teacher telling her sternly that one shouldn't judge by first impressions
Still, she could see as plain as day that Rose was hiding some dark secrets. But at least she was trying to be friendlier.
"Can I talk to you?"
Amy nodded, and Rose gestured down the hall. Amy followed, curious to see where she was leading her.
"What's up?" she asked.
They were in the library when Rose turned, facing her with eyes that were far too serious and sad.
"I want you to be completely honest. You and Rory are the Doctor's companions now. Do you want me to leave?"
"I . . ." Amy hesitated. "That's not . . . I can't answer that."
Rose's smile was wry. "Yes, you really can. Long ago I was the Doctor's companion. But things happened, and now you are."
"It's not like it's a set job," Amy floundered uncomfortably.
"In a way, it is," Rose said, tilting her head in consideration. "You help him save people, you keep him from going too far . . . it is a job. And it's a life. So I'll ask it again. Do you want me to leave?"
Amy ran a hand across her face. "I don't know. I mean, at first you got on my nerves, but lately you've been nicer. No offense."
"None taken," Rose responded drily. "But think about it, all right? Because I've finally figured out where the Doctor hid my Vortex Manipulator. Talk it over with Rory. I promise, I won't mind if you want me to go. In your situation, I probably would."
"Mmm," Amy hummed, skillfully avoiding a reply to that.
"What are you two up to?" the Doctor poked his head into the room.
Rose's smile was blinding, and as Amy watched, the Doctor's lips tilted upwards, almost as a reflection of it.
"Wouldn't you like to know?" Rose teased.
"Rose," Amy interjected. The blonde turned to her again, eyebrow tilted upward. "The answer is no. Don't."
"Really?" Rose checked.
"Yeah, I'm sure." Amy chanced a glance at the Doctor, who was looking confused and lost. "You help him."
Rose smiled, a slow and sure smile that lit up her face. "Thank you, Amy."
She grinned. "Any time."
Rose took a deep breath. A new start. This was it.
Rory grimaced. "So, we have no idea where we are?"
"It's more fun that way," Amy laughed, and pulled Rory out of the TARDIS doors.
The Doctor crept up beside her, and Rose's hand twitched involuntarily. The ring that the metacrisis had given her was on her finger.
"Dame Rose Tyler of the Powell Estate," he announced, "will you join me on this adventure."
Rose bit her lip, but couldn't stop the grin. "It would be my honor, Sir Doctor."
He grabbed her hand. "Run."
A/N: Happy Easter! It's finally done!
You guys wanna know a secret? I was this close to killing Rose in the end. Not joking. When I first started writing this, I figured that would be the only way to end it with Rose as messed up as she was. And then I got too close to fixing Rose up and making her happy again . . . and then we get this stupid sappy ending. Ugh. I suppose I'm a closet romantic. Anyway, I'll get around to writing some sort of depressing fic soon. Mwahaha. :P
Hope everyone enjoyed the short ride! Thank you so much for the lovely reviews.