A.N. - This story is based off of a painting that I found on Deviant Art by Ferntree, called "Here Without You". Credit goes to the artist for positioning of Rose and for the wonderful story idea that she gave me!
Rose woke up in the dead of the night. Or, at least that's what she assumed it was. Time didn't really have any meaning when traveling in the Tardis and that made things a tad bit disorienting for her whenever she woke up.
Despite the bare bones of the control room, the rest of the Tardis was fairly comfortable, and her room was quite luxurious…however, she couldn't help but wonder how many other companions of the Doctor had stayed in that room before and made it their home away from home while traveling with the Doctor.
Her Doctor was now different and had been that way for quite a while…going on a month, actually.
And she still wasn't used to it.
He was still the same; he still had his ridiculous off-the-wall humor and fun outlook on life…but he wasn't her Doctor anymore.
Rose kept up the brave face for him, having years of experience of having to do it for her mother so that her mother didn't worry about her too much, but the forced façade was slowly taking its' toll on her, and she was feeling almost desperate.
After slipping on a pair of green socks, blue shorts and pulling a red hoodie on over her sleep shirt, as well her old white trainers, she slipped from her room and walked down the metal walkway to his old room. When he'd changed, he had also switched rooms, but would not tell her why.
When she had asked him, he'd replied with, "Oh, I don't know…just felt like a change, I guess," and then flashed her a devil-may-care grin and then had taken some unknown things down to his new room.
She'd never fully explored the Tardis, but it seemed infinitely large, with room upon room. She had gotten lost once, and he'd had to "rescue" her.
As she approached his old room, a sigh escaped her lips, and she took a deep breath before pressing the number nine on the keypad. Before he had changed, he had given her the code so that she could wake him up whenever she was awake, so that they were always spending time together.
She still hadn't figured out why the code was only one number, and why it was the number nine.
This new version of him hadn't given her any codes and seemed unaware of the fact that she had the code to his old room.
A sound similar to a vacuum sounded as the door opened up, and she stepped inside…
…And was overwhelmed as she took another deep breath by the smell of her Doctor. It was so overwhelming that she collapsed to her knees and leaned back on the door that had automatically closed the instant she'd stepped inside, grateful for the support.
Not a thing had changed.
The bookshelf that she'd seen a few times before was in its usual disarray, and the faint glow of the hull of the ship shined underneath hangings of drawings and camera-taken pictures.
There was a sketch of Charles Dickens next to one of a man that she'd never seen before, but he wore a toga and had a stern countenance. Above the head of his bed, where the sheets were still in a tangled mess, was a picture of her in her Union Jack t-shirt, leather coat, and her old pair of worn-out jeans. She didn't even remember that picture being taken, but her gaze lingered on the bed.
Lying on the rumpled covers of the bed was a book.
Hesitant to move it, she stood up and walked over to the edge of the bed and leaned down slightly to read the cover.
War and Peace, by Leo Tolstoy.
The spine was creased, and the pages were dog eared. It was a leather bound copy, so the words embossed on the front were slightly worn and faded, but still legible. She reached to pick it up, to put it back on the shelf, but stopped herself before her fingers touched it.
No…she would leave it there.
Now that she was standing again, she looked around the room, curious.
And then she saw it.
His coat. His black, leather coat.
It lay in the corner, thrown over an antique chair, looking forlorn. Hopelessly alone. Though she hadn't touched any of the other things in his room, her hand reached out on its own accord and her fingers traced the curve of the leather lovingly, a warmth filling her, starting at the fingertips that brushed the worn fabric and traveling up through her arm and to the rest of her body.
Carefully, not touching anything else around it, she picked up the jacket and brought it to her face and breathed deep.
It was him.
Rose thought that she had become accustomed to his new face, and that she had been doing quite well with moving on…but her reaction told her otherwise. She suddenly felt tears at the corner of her eyes, and then felt the hot trail that was left behind as a single tear escaped, burning down her cheek.
The tear slipped along her chin and landed on the coat under her hands, and she quickly wiped it off trying to keep it clean.
Gently, she pressed it to her chest, wrapping her arms around it possessively, and then moved to leave his room, certain that she would be in more pain if she stayed there any longer.
She was about to leave, but then she saw a picture had been covered by the jacket and her heart broke a little bit more. Carefully, she picked it up, tracing her fingers over the face of a man that no longer existed…and yet, he still did.
The picture was of the two of them. She remembered when that one was taken.
In a small town on a planet called New California. Beaches, beaches and more beaches, as well as gorgeous rolling hills and valleys. It was one of the few times where they hadn't run into any dangers or disasters.
They had been outside and someone had offered to take their picture, so they had accepted, neither of them bothering to correct the woman when she'd said what a sweet couple they made.
That had been a good few days.
She kept the picture.
Quietly, she walked down the hall of the Tardis and made her way to the engine room, the heart of the Tardis itself, where she had shared so many experiences with her Doctor.
She crept into a corner of the room and carefully slid the Doctor's coat over her shoulders, letting his scent surround her, letting it take her back. Letting her thoughts slide back in time to the man that she had grown to love, but had never spoken the words to.
She brought her legs up to her chest, her blue shorts riding up on her legs.
She hugged the coat tighter around her shoulders, still feeling shaken by how she had found his room. Exactly how he'd left it.
Rose tightened her grip just a little bit more and then felt something press against her; something hard and metallic, that rested in one of the inside pockets. Sniffling, she loosened her grip and reached her right hand inside a hidden pocket on the left hand side of the jacket, along the seam.
When she pulled it out, she could barely believe what she held in her hand.
It was his screwdriver. His sonic screwdriver.
It was strange, because she knew that he, in his new face, still had it…but it must have been a new one, as this one was right here. In her hand.
This was what he had used for everything. For something as important as trying to resonate concrete, all the way to fixing something on the Tardis, like the toaster. Yes, he had a toaster. He had bought it for her, but it had constantly been broken and he'd constantly tried to fix it, but it had never worked.
She turned it over in her hand, staring at it, fascinated, unable to keep her hands or her eyes off of it.
This had once been in his hands.
Suddenly, in a fit of unknown anger, Rose tossed it to the floor in front of her, as well as the picture, which she'd originally been keeping in her lap.
She was about to fling the jacket from her shoulders as well…but she stopped. No…she wasn't that upset. Again, she wrapped her fingers around the front edges of the jacket and pulled it closer in to her body, breathing deeply a second time.
She would not throw him away so easily.
How long she sat there, just breathing deeply, she didn't know. All she knew was that she was content.
She felt herself drift to sleep…
The Doctor slowly stirred, and felt the Tardis trying to tell him something. Something was happening.
Curious, he pulled on a shirt and a robe and padded out of his room to see what was going on that was causing the Tardis to speak to him in such a manner. Instead of being subtle, it was being almost…pushy. Rude, even.
"Alright, alright, I've got the message!" he said, putting a hand in the air, but the feeling insisted, like an annoying itch that he couldn't scratch, and he knew it wouldn't go away unless he listened to it.
He dutifully followed the promptings and went into the engine room…
…and both of his hearts stilled for a moment.
There was Rose, sleeping in the corner of the room. With his old black coat around her shoulders, her fingers clinging to it tightly, she looked small and alone. And sad. So very sad. He could see faint shimmers on her cheeks and surmised that she had cried herself to sleep.
Of course she missed the old him. Hell, he missed the old him.
What he would give to still be the Doctor that she had first met, but he knew that it would never happen.
He bent his knees so that he was down at her level, perched on the balls of his feet, and started to reach out to touch her, to gently wake her up, but then he saw the photo on the floor near her feet.
He quirked an eyebrow, and then slowly retracted his hand and reached down and carefully picked it up, taking care not to make any noise that would disturb her…and he felt his hearts break just a little bit more when he saw the photo of the two of them from before he had changed.
Lovingly, he traced a finger over her face on the picture, and then he looked longingly at the image of the man.
What he would give to be that man again.
But he couldn't.
Instead, he had changed…and in more ways than one. He was no longer dead inside, no longer trying to run from his nightmares or trying to hide from his pain by forcing others to deal with their own problems all of the time.
He was no longer war-torn; he was healing.
And so, he would change…and Rose would remain the same. It was strange, because it was usually the opposite for him. He was the one who outlasted his companions while they aged and moved on with their lives, but now everything was reversed.
He put the picture back down and then saw his old sonic screwdriver and he sighed. He thought about picking it up, but then decided at the last second to leave it there.
It was his past, and he couldn't cling to it any longer, no matter how much he might want to.
He then slowly stood and simply stared down at her sleeping form, taking in the moment, wishing hopelessly that he hadn't changed, and that they could continue on as they always had and, perhaps, possibly have finally admitted their feelings for each other.
But now her feelings had changed.
They both knew it.
She had fallen in love with who he was, if not at first sight, then very near to it. Those emotions were tied to that face, and now that face was gone, as well as the quirks that made up her connections to him and how she felt for him.
She might learn to love who he was now, and even fall in love with this new version of him, but he knew that it wouldn't be the same as it was before.
It would be the same for him, of course, because he knew that his feelings had not changed with his transformation.
They were still the same as they were; constant and steady.
He let out another sigh and walked back to his room, not casting back another glance, knowing that if he did he just might not leave, and he knew that he had to. He wasn't the man that she'd fallen in love with any more.
So he'd let her remember.