The first thing Accalia did when the Doctor dropped her off was to go to her TARDIS and put on some clothes. That done, she snuck back into the town to collect her necklace. She was halfway to what had been her prison when she realized the village was essentially deserted, and she didn't need to put so much effort into not getting caught. A few minutes later, and she was brushing the dirt from the chain and rings, before slipping them back around her neck.
"Right, get the alien, again, and get out," she muttered to herself, exciting the stone room that gave her goose bumps. And for once, things went mostly according to plan (she may have made a pit stop in the town church where all the villagers were to assure them they weren't all going to hell); she recaptured the Voltmyathon with minimal difficulty (though he did try and give a villainous speech again), and dropped him off on his home planet within minutes.
After that, she did a lot of pacing, cursing, and hair pulling before finally deciding to visit Jack. Jack-Jack, not Boe-Jack. She was still trying to wrap her head around that one.
It was as she was landing that she realized no one had told Jack about River. "Oh god," she whispered. She remained at the console, trying to figure out how she was going to break the news to Jack, but a sharp knock on the door interrupted her thoughts. She took a deep breath, and walked outside and into Jack's flat.
He grinned lazily at her. "Was wondering if you were ever going to come out of there. You just missed River, by the way. She should be back tomorrow," Jack called to her as he made his way to the kitchen.
Accalia gaped at his back, mouth opening and closing like a fish, tears threatening to spill from her eyes. Of course. Of course. River was a time traveler; what was current to Accalia might still be future to Jack. River still lived in his timeline, and that meant that Accalia could see River again!
'No. No you can't,' some part of her brain that sounded suspiciously like the Doctor whispered. And as much as she hated to admit it, she knew it was true. If she saw River now, she'd warn her about what would happen at the library, stop her from going. The consequences that could come from that action…well, it was something Accalia knew she couldn't risk.
"You alright? You're awfully quiet," Jack frowned, handing her a cup of tea.
Accalia accepted it gratefully, and tried to smile at Jack, shoving her thoughts of River aside forcefully. She couldn't tell him about River, either, because he'd try to stop her, too. "Just…a long day," she muttered.
"Care to share?" Jack asked, sitting down on the couch, and motioning for her to do the same.
Accalia sat down next to him, and, haltingly, told him about her day. He nodded sympathetically. "Being burned alive is the worst," he agreed. She told him the Doctor rescued her, but left out the part where he told her he loved her; it just seemed…to intimate to share, even with Jack.
By the time she'd finished talking, Jack had replaced her tea with a tumbler of brandy. "You need something stronger," he'd explained when he handed it to her. She rolled the glass between her hands, studying the liquid, a small frown on her face.
"You're leaving something out," Jack commented, studying her.
Accalia hesitated. "I've been…I am…" she sighed. "I don't know who I am anymore," she admitted, and finished off her glass with a wince. Jack motioned for her to go on. "You and the Doctor insist on calling me Rose. I call myself Accalia. The Doctor told me why he calls me Rose, I told him why I call myself Accalia. And lately…his reasons make more sense than mine," she shook her head. "I want to be more like the person he describes," she whispered, rubbing her head.
"'What's in a name? That which we call a Rose by any other name would smell as sweet,'" Jack quoted, smiling. Accalia glared at him. "What, it's true!" He defended. "Look, I've always called you Rose because no matter what you call yourself, or these little ways you've changed, you're always the same person underneath. You always smell as sweet," his lips twitched into a smile as Accalia groaned at the bad joke. "Really though. You change your name to help you run from the past. It doesn't change who you are," Jack shrugged, leaning back into the couch.
Accalia considered him for a moment. "You really believe that?" She asked, unsure.
"Really do!" He said cheerfully.
Accalia fell silent, thinking, and Jack stayed silent and let her work everything out. If she decided to believe all this, to accept it and to call herself Rose once more, it meant that she would have to accept everything else that had happened in her life; everything. From John's death, to the destruction of the universe. From befriending Rory, to her insanity when she thought the Doctor was dead. From adopting River to losing the entire Pond family. Becoming Rose meant a lot of pain.
And yet… all she was doing was running. Running from her past, her mistakes, her failures…but running from so much happiness, too. It hadn't all been bad…She thought of her life with her mother, meeting the Doctor, traveling when the universe was still so new and strange. She thought of her friends in both universes, of seeing her mother happy and married to Pete; her baby brother Tony and how happy he'd made all of them. She thought of her years with John, and how she wouldn't trade them for anything. She thought of all the wonderful people she'd met, she thought of Alaric. She thought of Rory and his unwavering loyalty to those he loved. She thought of Amy and her fierce protectiveness. She thought of River and her teasing smiles and brilliant mind. She thought of Jack, with all his ridiculousness, and his brotherly relationship with her. She thought of the Doctor, and how he never lost faith in her, despite of it all. She thought of how he still loved her.
And then she wondered when she'd started crying. She laughed, startled, and turned to look at Jack, who was smiling at her crookedly.
"Hello, Jack," she whispered, hiccupping.
"Hello, Rose," Jack answered. Rose laughed, and hugged him tightly.
The Doctor was trying to fix the TARDIS, honest, but he kept getting distracted by thoughts of Rose. He'd remember how she looked, charred and burned and so vulnerable, lying on the ground at the feet of a few religious fanatics. Then he would shiver, and check with the TARDIS to see where Rose was. Then he'd force himself to calm down, and go back to work. And then the whole cycle would start all over again. It was driving him mad.
He was muttering to himself when he went to check the screen for Rose's position again. "She's fine, she needs space, she doesn't want you…" he trailed off with a frown when he saw where she was.
Woman Wept. What on Gallifrey was she doing there? 'Just a pleasure trip, it is a beautiful planet, after all,' he thought to himself, trying not to jump to conclusions. He'd never told her, of course, but he'd always thought of Woman Wept as their place. He'd taken her there back when he was still leather clad and large-eared. It had been after the incident with her father and the paradox. She'd put on a brave face for a few days, trying not to let on how much she was hurting, how guilty she felt, but he'd seen right through her. It was what made him decide to take her to Woman Wept; it was calm and beautiful there. The Doctor had thought she needed something beautiful after all that pain.
Of course, the planet had paled in comparison to her beauty, but he hadn't told her that; so convinced his attentions would be unwanted, his affections unreturned. He'd settled for just watching her, soaking her in, and reminding himself she was real.
And now she was back on their planet. He stared at the little red dot that represented her, waiting for her to leave. But she didn't, she just stayed there. 'What if she's waiting for you?' Before he could even finish the thought, he was sending the TARDIS to Woman Wept.
He landed next to her TARDIS (his clever girl, making the ship look like a door), and looked around for her. A splash of brown against the blues, whites, and greys drew his eyes, and he started walking to her.
She was sitting on a blanket on the ground, just staring out at the frozen waves. She'd heard his approach, she must have, but she hadn't reacted at all. He hesitated, then sat down next to her on the blanket.
"The first time you took me here," she said after a moment, her quiet voice startling him, "I was so sad. But seeing this place…" she smiled, still not looking at him. "it didn't really help."
He frowned, and turned to look at her, confused now. She'd been so much happier after their trip here, what did she mean this place hadn't helped?
"The way you were looking at me, though, when you thought I couldn't see," she turned to face him finally, the small smile in place, "that made all the difference in the world."
The Doctor's eyes widened. He hadn't realized she'd seen him that day. And if she'd seen him…then she'd known about his feelings for her a lot longer than he'd thought she had.
"I can't promise it will be easy, or that it will be the way it was before. I can't promise we'll have a fairy tale ending, or that we'll never be apart. I can't promise I won't turn into a giant psychic head," she grinned and he wondered distractedly when she'd learned about the Face of Boe and Jack. "But I can promise to try. If we go slowly."
"How," he licked his lips, wondering if this was really happening, "how slow, exactly?"
She grinned, her tongue between her teeth, and he felt his breathing stutter. It had been so long since he'd seen that smile. She stuck out her hand. "Hi, I'm Rose Tyler. I'm eight hundred and four years old, I can't die, and I might be in love with you."
He smiled slowly, taking her hand in his and shaking it. "I'm the Doctor, I'm twelve hundred years old, this is my eleventh face, and I have loved you for a very long time."
True to her word, things went slowly between the Doctor and Rose. They continued to travel on their own, but met up frequently. The frequency only increased when Rose's TARDIS learned to track the Doctor's.
The first time Rose stayed the night in the Doctor's TARDIS, it was after a particularly taxing adventure that left them both so drained, that they just stumbled onto the Doctor's TARDIS without thinking. Rose slept on the Doctor's bed, the Doctor slept in a chair in the same room. She stayed over on the Doctor's TARDIS every so often after that, usually because she'd stayed over to talk. The first time they shared a bed was on one of these occasions when they'd both fallen asleep while sitting on the Doctor's bed. There was a lot of blushing the next morning, as they'd ended up spooning in their sleep.
Their first kiss was initiated by Rose while they were in an alien market, haggling with a vender over a zig-zag plotter Rose needed to fix her TARDIS. The old man (who had at least sixty percent amphibian DNA) kept insisting he couldn't let it got for anything other than Malanbi crystal. Rose laughed at him.
"Mate, that bit of metal and plastic is barely worth a bit of Earth Gold. I could get about a million of them for a Malanbi crystal!" She informed him.
"Please, do try and cheat her," the Doctor had said absently, looking at a shiny bit of wiring that had been tossed in a junk basket. "I love watching her yell clever things at stupid people."
"He only says that because it's a new thing I do," she confided conspiratorially to the vender, who was quickly becoming confused.
The Doctor scoffed, turning to look at her. "No it's not. You've been yelling clever things at stupid people since I met you," he informed her.
Rose blinked for a moment, then stepped up to the Doctor, and placed her lips lightly on his. She smiled before pulling away, and going back to the vender. She eventually got the zig-zag plotter for the right price, and the Doctor walked around in a bit of a daze, but very smug, for the rest of the day.
They had sex for the first time in a jail on an alien planet (somehow this failed to surprise either of them). It was Rose's fault, the Doctor would tell anyone who would listen (which was an unsurprisingly small audience). Really, it was all her fault.
They'd been trying to find a way out when the Doctor had casually mentioned that Rose still hadn't told him what she thought of his new body. She'd raised an eyebrow; turning away from the lock she'd been inspecting, then grinned in a way that was just mischievous enough to scare the Doctor a bit.
"Well," she said, voice low, moving away from the door to circle the Doctor slowly, her eyes dragging across his form deliberately. The Doctor's ears were turning red from the intensity of her gaze, something that amused Rose immensely. "Still skinny…a bit shorter…nice bum," she purred, making him jump when she brushed her hand across it. "Angular face…surprised I haven't cut myself on it yet, honestly," she mused, trailing her fingers across his cheek bones and making him swallow. She pushed his jacket off of him, the Doctor's limp limbs not offering much resistance. "Great arms," she informed him, pushing up his sleeves to get a better look at them. "Love the bow tie," she grinned wickedly.
And that was when his control officially snapped, and the next thing he knew was they were both on the ground, clothes flying away as if they had desires of their own to escape.
The prison ended up letting them go after that little display, mistaking their enthusiastic coupling for a ritual performed by their people to call down bad luck.
"Pity," Rose had commented as they walked away hand in hand. "They don't know what they're missing." The Doctor had picked her up and all but run to the TARDIS after that.
Eventually, they came to the decision that it was a bit ridiculous to have two TARDISs. They slept primarily in the Doctor's, and they always went to the same places now. They only parted so that Rose could move her TARDIS to wherever they were going that day.
Rose hated to part with her TARDIS, who had been with her through so much. Her TARDIS was the only thing that kept her sane for years, and to give her up seemed ungrateful, somehow. But she had a long conversation with the Old Girl, and they reached an agreement.
Rose gave her TARDIS to Jack, just like she'd tried to give him the Doctor's TARDIS when she'd thought him dead. Jack, of course, had done a lot of stammering, and "I can't accept this!"-ing.
"Look, you have been there for me through a lot the past few years, and I'll never be able to thank you enough. There's no one else I would trust my TARDIS with. Besides, you're not going to be able to stay at Torchwood forever," Jack looked pained at this. "I know, you love it there. But you know how they are with anything…abnormal. Eventually, they'll catch on that you're not aging, and you know how well that will go over. When that happens, you'll have the TARDIS. She already loves you," Rose added with a small smile.
Eventually, Jack agreed, and Rose bid a sad farewell to the TARDIS, promising to visit soon, and often.
And so the Doctor and Rose travelled together like they had so many years before. They were both different from when they'd started; him in body and her in soul. They were married, in traditional Galifreyan style, a few years after Rose officially moved into the Doctor's TARDIS. Rose was unable to have children, a fact that they mourned for a while, before making up for it by having enthusiastic sex in places generally considered inappropriate.
They weren't always happy. They weren't always polite. They fought over stupid things and grumbled about each other's habits. But they always managed to laugh at whatever had made them angry in the first place, and they never wavered in their love for one another. And, just like he promised, the Doctor never left Rose again.
They were both still plagued by nightmares of their pasts, but in the arms of the other, they were able to heal and, finally, move on. Sometimes Rose would relapse, and start trying to pull away from the Doctor. He would patiently remind her that he loved her, and that he was never, ever, going to leave her. Rose would realize that even if she did run from him, he wouldn't give up on her; he would never give up on her. And she wouldn't trade him for anyone in the multiverse.
Because when the Wolf runs, the only thing that can catch her is the Storm.
This is it. This is well and truly it. It's over. I have finished my first fanfic.
Thank you, everyone, for your support. Everyone who reviewed and encouraged me, everyone who followed, everyone who favorited, thank you all. I hope to see you on whatever my next project is!
Also, to everyone who was worried about whether or not Rose would go back for the rings (which was a surprisingly large amount of you!) she did. And to everyone who asked for a sequel, I apologize, but there will be none. Whatever I write next will start fresh, though will still probably be the Doctor and Rose.
Until next time, because there is always a next time,