Disclaimer: Doctor Who isn't mine. If it was things would be quite different. The BBC owns all and I bow before them.
A/N: Credit to my awesome beta, resile, not only on the suggestions on what to cut, but also what to leave in when I had my doubts. I appreciate your time and effort! Many thanks as well to Ablissa whose encouragement and feedback helped me along the way.
"Rose? You ready, sweetheart? A van should be along in a few minutes to take us to the airstrip."
Her mum's voice broke into her thoughts and Rose Tyler found the same concern for her that was on the Doctor's face echoed on Jackie's.
"Yeah," she mumbled. "We don't need to wait like we did last time. I swear if I never set foot on this beach again, it will be too soon." She felt the Doctor squeeze her hand as she said that.
As they waited for transport, neither of them spoke. He dropped her hand and instead pulled her into his arms and she rested her head against his chest as she listened to the strange sound of only one heartbeat. It seemed weird that he wasn't babbling away but maybe he felt as overwhelmed as she did. He'd been abandoned too. Without a TARDIS, without the promise of real travel anytime soon, he had lost the stars, lost everything.
Somehow though, deep inside, hope had started to bloom inside her. Today had been tough, but they had made it through and would continue to do so. With a Doctor at her side she could get through anything life threw at her.
Rose had loved the first version of her Doctor and while she had initially been scared and unsure after his regeneration she had come to realize quickly he was the same man, just with different personality traits. Now this new Doctor, her third version, was her future. And while she didn't have all the answers to that mystery at the moment, she knew they'd find their way.
The van soon arrived and the Doctor took her hand again as the three of them departed Bad Wolf Bay. Once she was seated on the zeppelin and staring out the window, Rose watched the Norwegian shoreline recede. Despite her earlier feelings of hope she now could only feel a profound sense of loss and wished she was alone so she could cry in peace. She couldn't do that seated next to a man who looked the same.
The Doctor was restless beside her and she knew she should talk to him but at the moment she couldn't bring herself to do so. They had a long ride ahead and without an option for privacy all she wanted was to sleep, so she could shut it all away for the time being. She eventually felt his hand pull away after a quick squeeze and looked at him for a moment.
"Rose, can we talk?"
She could only shake her head. "Not right now."
"Well, when you're ready then."
Rose nodded, turned her head away from him, and closed her eyes.
On the following night, once they were at the Tyler Mansion and a room was being prepared for him, the Doctor stepped away. Nobody seemed to notice, or paid him any attention, and right then he was thankful for it. He needed a moment to remember, to say goodbye, and to mourn.
He looked up at the stars. Stars that had been in danger of going out forever. They had triumphed. The day, the multiverse, all had been saved. But at such a terrible cost. Not him, no he didn't agree with the other Doctor on that at all, but her.
Donna Noble, the brilliant woman that he had known, that Donna was gone forever. He had felt it, the moment his other self erased her memory. Only centuries of burying his feelings had kept his body and his features neutral when it happened. It hadn't stopped the pain in his heart though, nor did it stop a few tears from escaping now as he allowed himself to grieve for the fiery redhead.
The Doctor had known it was going to happen. Both of them had after the metacrisis. They knew what it would mean for their dear friend. What he hadn't expected though, was to feel it. It shouldn't have been possible. Yet, biologically he was a combination of the other Doctor and Donna Noble. That was the only explanation for the telepathy across such distance.
"Oh, Donna Noble. I am so sorry," he whispered softly to the heavens. He wasn't apologizing for her memories being taken, although that was tragic. No, he was apologizing for being the reason she had to forget in the first place.
Logically, the Doctor knew he wasn't really to blame. He had not asked for this or tried to make it happen. Not really. While it was true the metacrisis was the reason she had to forgot, without him, she would be dead. That was an unequivocal fact. The TARDIS would have been destroyed, Donna would have died, and reality would've come to an abrupt end. They would all be dead. He was the reason she was still alive but at the cost of losing a huge part of the truly amazing woman she was. It was a bitter pill to swallow.
Lost in thought, the Doctor hadn't realized the bite in the air but he suddenly felt it in a rush. No longer fully Gallifreyan, he couldn't regulate his body temperature like he used to and it seeped through his clothing now. He no longer had his coat, the fantastic coat given to him by Janis Joplin. He only had the clothes on his back, the trainers on his feet, and a chunk of TARDIS coral in his pocket and none of them could keep him very warm.
He would have to go back in shortly but for the moment he still needed some time alone with his thoughts. After centuries, the Doctor had truly lost just about everything. Not just his home but much of himself. Now he was no longer fully Time Lord.
At least he had Rose Tyler. Or he hoped he did. She had given him a fantastic snog on that beach. After so many years of denying his feelings for her and that he'd wanted a much deeper relationship with her almost from the beginning, it had felt good to finally give in. That part of being human was something that would be very easy to get used to, if she let him. He wasn't entirely thrilled to be part human but he knew she could make it all worthwhile.
But now a full day had passed and she had barely spoken to him, or anybody else, not really. She'd seemed to be in a daze. He's not you, she had said and it was partly true. He wasn't exactly the same but he was still himself, still the Doctor. The very core of who he was had not changed and would never change.
He had offered to spend his life with her but what if that wasn't what she wanted? What if she couldn't reconcile what had happened? That she had lost the Doctor she wanted for a Doctor she had not asked for? Just like after his last regeneration, it was her choice, it didn't matter how he felt. Without Rose though, he would truly have lost everything.
"There you are," her voice came softly from behind him. "I've been looking all over for you."
She opened the sliding glass door to the balcony and came to his side. There were no tears in her eyes but they were red and puffy.
"Doctor," she began, an expression he couldn't read on her face. "We need to talk."
His single human heart sank and he swore he felt a physical pain in his chest. Because he'd seen enough telly and movies, read enough books from Earth, to know what that phrase really meant. I'm sorry. It's not you, it's me. He could hear those unspoken words hanging in the air. But it was him. She did not want this him.
The Doctor swallowed thickly; he didn't want to hear her reasons because he knew they would only make it worse. He willed himself to not break down. He couldn't do that in front of her.
"Rose," he paused as he took a moment to compose himself.
He couldn't say her full name, couldn't caress it with his tongue the way he wanted to, in a plea to make her understand. He'd expressed so much with just her name in the past, all the feelings he had never been able to confess, but it wouldn't be fair to her now. Not if she didn't want to be with him. And knowing she wouldn't smile that special smile of hers when he said it that was all it took to quash her last name.
He scrubbed his hands over his face and began again. "It's okay. I understand. You don't owe me any explanations. Please let me spend the night. I'll figure something else out tomorrow."
The Doctor didn't know what could change in such a short amount of time but at this moment he had nowhere else to go. He was truly alone now and wasn't even sure if he wanted to go on. How could he when he had so little, not even the women he so desperately loved? Despair started to sink in and he wanted to run away, get to that room, and shut it all down.
Rose looked at the Doctor in shock. He looked so… raw. How could he… Oh. "'M Sorry. I didn't mean it like that. Not at all."
"No," she replied simply, and her eyes bored into his as she tried to convey her sincerity. "Not unless you want to leave."
"Never," he breathed, and she swore she saw light return to his eyes.
Rose pulled him into her arms and hugged him tightly. Immediately she noticed he was so cold in her arms. She was used to the Doctor's cooler temperature but nothing like this; he was absolutely freezing.
"C'mon. You can catch a cold out here." Rose slipped her hand in his, rubbed her thumb against his soothingly, and led him inside.
They went into the kitchen and she set about making them both a cuppa. As she poured the water into the kettle she looked at the Doctor and reconsidered what she had planned. Right now he needed her. She could see from the way he held his body he was hurting. "Doctor, there are a few things I want us to talk about but it can wait. What was going on out there? Why did you think I'd want you to leave? It couldn't have been just what I said, right?"
He gazed at her for a long moment before he spoke. "No. Donna. I was remembering Donna."
Rose's heart broke a little for him. She'd seen with her own eyes how close the Doctor had been to Donna Noble, almost like siblings. She chastised herself for not realizing he hadn't just lost the TARDIS and the stars but Donna as well.
"I'm so sorry, Doctor."
A haunted look crept into his eyes as she returned his gaze. "Rose, I wasn't just missing her. Donna's gone. The Donna I knew… she doesn't exist anymore."
A chill ran through her. "What are you talking about?"
"He had to wipe her mind, from the very moment we met her. The metacrisis… a human brain can't handle a Time Lord consciousness. It would've killed her, Rose. Every memory had to be erased."
She swallowed, stunned. "I…" She paused and narrowed her eyes. "He knew, didn't he? I asked what was going to happen and he lied to me, told me he'd have her."
"He didn't want you to worry about him. Also at that moment Donna didn't know."
Rose pressed her lips together in a tight line but decided not to say anything more about that for the time being. She shook her head and moved back on track.
"It wasn't your fault you know. That he had to do it. Davros taunted him with knowledge that the TARDIS was gone and Donna was dead. He had pleaded and begged to switch places with her but could only stand there and watch while we thought the TARDIS was destroyed. That's what would've happened, Doctor. You saved her."
"I know that, Rose. But it still doesn't make it easy."
She studied him carefully for a moment. "How did you know about it?"
"I knew it was going to happen. But I felt it when it did. Biologically I'm a combination of the two of them and I was able to pick up on the distress telepathically from him."
"Are you still in communication?"
"No. He didn't mean for me to feel it and it was just as the TARDIS was departing this universe."
Rose wrapped her arms around him in a tight embrace. "It must have been awful. That it happened and that you had to feel it." She looked up him and fear suddenly clutched her heart. "Is that going to happen to you?"
The Doctor hugged her back and shook his head. "No. I'm still mostly Gallifreyan. I'll be fine."
Rose felt sadness for Donna wash through her, but also relief. She could not handle losing the Doctor for a third time, even if he was a new Doctor. She also ached for the Time Lord. Despite her hurt at the fact he lied to her and left her, she knew that would eat away at him but there was nothing she could do about that. She could only help this Doctor now.
The tea kettle whistled and she broke away to pour the water and prepare the tea while he sat down at the table. "What else?"
Suddenly the Doctor looked very weary and stared at his hands, steepled on the table.
"Go on," she encouraged.
His shoulders slumped for a moment before he met her eyes. "I changed. I didn't want to but it still happened. I know you would've rather gone with him, Rose, than be stuck with me."
She looked at him intently as she set a cup of tea in front of him and down beside him. "But you're still the Doctor, yeah? Isn't that what the two of you said?"
He nodded. "I am."
She patted his leg reassuringly. "Then don't you remember? Stuck with you, that's not so bad."
Finally, a small smile spread across his face. "Yeah? Even still?"
Rose smiled back. "Yes. And know what?"
Rose turned in her chair and embraced him quickly once again. "Why I kissed you on that beach? It wasn't just because told me you loved me, Doctor. That was a huge part of it, yeah, but not all. You gave me a choice and he didn't. I know this is an adjustment but I want this."
"Oh, Rose, so do I." His eyes were earnest and she felt her skip a beat.
Impossible as it seemed this quickly, she knew she was falling for this man, regardless of how much of the Time Lord he had in him. She'd felt a connection to him back on the TARDIS and now here they were. Just talking and it seemed like nothing had changed when in fact everything had. The moment was perfect for it and yet she didn't know how to ask the question and not make it sound like doubt.
They sat in companionable silence and slowly sipped their tea. When they were both done, the Doctor cleared his throat. "Isn't it your turn now?"
"Didn't you want to talk about something?"
Rose looked at him silently for a few moments and then nodded. She picked up their cups and after she had placed them in the dishwasher she led him to the closest sitting room. She'd planned on having this talk before she ever got back to him, as she had always believed she would reach him. But now that things had changed she felt wrong-footed and ill prepared. She'd never demanded things from him, but now her heart was on the line and she knew she had to share her feelings instead of keeping them inside as she had in the past. She'd start with that and bring up the other part later.
"I um.." she laughed nervously. "I had this all planned out, see. What I was going to say, yeah? And now things have changed but I've still got to say it. It can't happen again."
His eyes met hers and he gestured to her to continue, his face open but cautious.
"He left me," she began but was immediately interrupted.
"Rose, he thought you would be happier with-"
Her hand flew up to still his words and she didn't wait for him to continue as something snapped inside her after so many years of heartache. "I wasn't talking about that damn beach!" It came out louder and harsher than she intended and he stepped back, a startled look on his face. She had almost screamed at him.
Rose closed her eyes and took a deep breath. "'M sorry. I didn't mean to snap… Please, Doctor. You can talk when I'm done."
He nodded and sat down on the couch while she started to pace. It was easier to not look at him as she spoke.
Rose started again. "He sent me away at the game station. He did it again at Canary Wharf. After that, I know he moved on, just as he intended to when he placed that button around my neck. Nine hundred years, how could he not? Time Lords endure. I know that's why he was able to leave me behind, but I couldn't."
She stopped for a moment as her voice shook. "I waited for five and a half hours at the wall that day and he didn't come back. Then I waited five and a half more, just in case. But he still didn't appear. And then after that transmission on Bad Wolf Bay I knew he was never going to come back to me. I'd lost my Doctor and I couldn't accept that."
Rose felt tears pool in her eyes at the memories but she blinked them back and continued. "I went on, I had to, but it wasn't the same. I couldn't look at other men. Mum tried to help me, insisted it's what he would've wanted. Set me up on blind dates at first with the sons of Pete's coworkers and it was easier just to go along. But they never worked out and she eventually stopped trying. I just couldn't think that way. I threw myself into my job knowing I had to get back to him, because I couldn't move on, not from him."
She stopped pacing and finally turned her eyes to the Doctor and sat down beside him. "What I'm trying to say is I can't go through that again. If we do this," she indicated between them and then broke off as his eyes suddenly were the size of saucers and his body tensed once again.
Rose laced her fingers with his and squeezed gently. "S'not a threat. I'm not going anywhere. But I need you to know I can't go through that again. If we are together and then in a couple of years we're traveling again and you left me behind or sent me away, it would destroy me. I can't lose you like that too. Don't put me in a position where I would have to. You and me together, no matter what. Promise me, Doctor, please."
The Doctor gulped, shaken by the pain in her voice and anguished over the fact that he had caused it. He had known their separation had to have been hard on her but knowing and hearing about it were two different things.
"Together," he confirmed. He'd had his reasons before, good reasons, but now that he was part human he could admit his feelings as well as how much he needed her, too. Also, if she didn't understand he really was the same man, he had to clear that up immediately. He didn't look forward to her anger about the past but she had to know exactly what had happened on the Dalek Crucible.
The Doctor cupped her cheek gently as he willed her to understand. "Rose, that was me too. Honestly, it's still me. I am him. Well, err, I was. I said the same memories on the beach, not his memories, because they are mine as well. That wasn't a metaphor or a figure of speech. I'm the man who left Gallifrey, stealing a TARDIS and running to the stars for adventure. I'm the man who grabbed your hand at Henrik's and quickly found that I never wanted to let it go. I'm the one that ran to you in that deserted street, hardly believing what my eyes were seeing. Knowing that the moment I had my arms around you things were going to be different, no more of my self-imposed rules. That's why we wanted to stay the same, for you. That wasn't just him; that was me too. Until the moment we siphoned off the regeneration energy into my hand," he paused as he held up his right hand before he continued. "We were the same man. I'm not a clone. I was literally him. My appearance is a copy of his but that's it. The only difference between us is this body is part human and what has happened to us since then."
She ran her fingers across his face softly, wonder on her face. "Then it really isn't just memories?"
"No, it isn't."
Rose studied him for a long moment, her mouth agape. She blinked tears away once again. "Doctor?" she finally whispered.
He nodded. "Yes. Your Doctor." He was about to say more when suddenly instead of sitting beside him, her arms were wrapped around his body and her face was buried in his neck. He felt her start to shake as sobs wracked her body.
"I missed you so much. I thought I'd lost you," she said between tears.
"No, Rose. You found me." Rubbing circles up and down her back he held her until her tears ran dry.
Once she had cried herself out, he continued. "Don't think for a moment that it was easy for me or that I moved on either. Not a day went by where I didn't miss you terribly. Donna knew about you almost instantly, during our first conversation. As soon as our lives were out of danger, Martha knew who you were too. They understood what you meant to me and what I had lost."
Rose sniffled one last time and nodded before she met his eyes. "Martha said as much when I was on the Crucible. How did that work though? I thought it was an energy transfer?"
The Doctor nodded. "Yes, but it was more than that. Time Lords don't live forever. Back on Gallifrey there was a matrix that was used to store the consciousness of deceased Time Lords. It could also store past personalities of living Time Lords. In my desperate attempt to stop myself from regenerating, I not only transferred the healing energy into my hand but a part of myself as well – and my current self at that. It's something that has never happened before so I didn't even know it could be done."
Rose's gasped. "So it was kinda like Harry Potter!"
At the mention of the series he so loved, the Doctor swore they were back in the TARDIS as scenes flashed before his eyes. He could feel her head in his lap as he read the series to her in front of the roaring fire in the library courtesy of his ship, the light dancing across of her face and her laughter at the different voices he did for each character (his Molly Weasley was her favorite) and their tears as the series progressed from book four onward and beloved characters breathed their last. He remembered sonicing the Ravenclaw robe he had procured for himself to a proper length and watching Rose twirl in her Gryffindor robe before they headed off to a midnight release party for the seventh book. He could see her face light up when she was able to get the very first copy at the bookshop with the help of his psychic paper and oh, the tears, when they reached the ending of that! Then came the sadness and regret when it was all over and he wondered what else he would find to read to her next because they had to have more moments like that but then there was an army of ghosts and she was gone.
As quickly as the reverie came upon him it vanished as the implication of her words sunk in. Fuck! Surely she didn't equate him to that. She couldn't!
He gasped and felt his face fall and Rose's head snapped up and her hand was suddenly over her mouth in shock.
"Rose, what I did, that wasn't revenge. I'm not evil- " He started as she spoke up at the same time and he stopped talking.
"Shit, that came out wrong! Doctor, I didn't mean you're like Voldemort! You saved us all. I know that! I just meant that you split your soul-"
He shook his head. "Consciousness."
"Okay, consciousness, but you did it out of love… you did it for me."
The Doctor let out a breath in relief. "Of course. Ultimately, we were both born out of love for you."
Rose rested her head against his shoulder, smiling. "That's all I could think on the zeppelin. Harry Potter, but that couldn't be it. I was kinda right though, you split yourself unintentionally. Basically you regenerated but instead of doing it like a normal Time Lord and changing your face and personality, you did it backwards and kept a similar body and the same personality and now you're mine."
The Doctor mulled it over and then hummed in agreement. "I can live with that summary," he said with a smile. "I have always been something of a rebel."
Confusion shone in her eyes for a moment as she looked up. "How come you were ready to leave then, on the balcony?"
He sighed softly. "I didn't want to, Rose, but after you stopped talking to me I didn't know what was going through your head. I didn't want you to feel obligated."
She shook her head.
"I don't. You're always trying to be noble, aren't you." She said it as a statement, not a question, and her tone was sad rather than harsh. "That's why you sent me away."
"Rose, I've know what it's like to lose family. I didn't want that for you and I had promised your mother I'd keep you safe and always bring you home."
"I know you did, Doctor, but you promised me, outside that café. You said you wouldn't leave me behind."
He gestured wildly. "You would've lost everything."
"No, I would've had you."
The Doctor recognized the soft, matter of fact tone in her voice quite forcefully. He'd heard it from her before, after she had returned to him at Canary Wharf. He knew he didn't deserve Rose. He hadn't when he was fully Gallifreyan and he didn't now. However, he would spend every day of this human life trying to be worthy of the faith and devotion she had in him.
"And now you do. This one life I have is yours, Rose Tyler." He finally allowed himself to caress her name again, the way he had on the beach, the way he had not allowed himself to on the balcony. "I won't leave you or send you away ever again. You have my word and I'm so sorry I hurt you before."
Rose squeezed his shoulder. "I know that. I understood your reasons, even back then. And I already forgave you. Forgetting is the hard part."
That was something the Doctor knew all too well. He continued to hold her close until she spoke up.
"Is he going to be ok?"
He closed his eyes for a moment before he answered. "Eventually. It takes time after a difficult separation from a companion but he'll go on."
"Yes. Because I would if the situation were reversed. It would've been hard, but I would've done it. Plus he has something we didn't have before. He knows you're with me and how much I love you."
Rose smiled at him, softly and with sadness, but genuine. "Good. I love you too, Doctor. Now, c'mere. I want to hug you properly, now that I know you're completely you." She stood and embraced him fully and they stayed that way for several minutes.
"Was there anything else?" he finally asked as he pulled away.
Rose hesitated for a moment. "You already explained what happened. That was one of the things I wanted to talk about."
"And the rest?"
She took a deep breath. "Doctor, we were apart for a long time. I've changed - I returned to school, got my A levels, and joined Torchwood. I'm not the girl I was at Canary Wharf. I'm still me," she grinned at him. "But I'm a different me. We're still us, but not the same us. I want to take a little time to get to know the new us – share what we've been through. You know, before we take the next step, not that I wouldn't really like to do that, but I think a little time would be good. Until then though… I could really do with more kissing." Her cheeks flushed but her gaze was steady as she met his eyes.
The Doctor laughed and his heart felt so much lighter than it had at any point since the TARDIS departed. "That was rather brilliant, wasn't it?" He gave her a smug grin and went to adjust his tie before he remembered he wasn't wearing one.
Rose gave him a look he couldn't quite interpret. "Oh, it was pretty good," she broke off as he arched his eyebrows in disbelief and he finally recognized the look for what it was: mischief.
"Pretty good?" He scoffed.
"Yeah, you know... considering it was a virgin kiss." Then there was that tongue in teeth grin he had missed so much.
He gave her a wolfish grin. "Well, if you're going to put it like that... this body is only two days old. What does that say about you, Rose Tyler?"
Surprise crossed her face for a moment and then she was a fit of giggles. He joined her and suddenly she was in his arms again and not just beside him and he wasn't sure who moved first. Her head rested against his shoulder as she hugged him tightly again.
"Rose, whatever pace you want or need is fine. No pressure," he stated as he leaned her face up so he could meet her lips with his own. He reveled in the feel and the softness of her lips for ages, before his mouth traced a line to her ear. "I love you," he whispered, unable to resist saying it again.
"I love you too." Rose's eyes suddenly grew wide and she stepped away, grabbing his hand. "Oh! I almost forgot!"
The Doctor grinned at her excited expression. "Forgot what?"
"I have something for you." She pulled him along, up a staircase and down a hall. She dropped his hand and opened the door.
The room inside was almost Spartan. It was decorated but other than two somewhat grainy cellphone pictures, one of him in his previous regeneration with Jack, the other of himself with Rose taken after the 2012 Olympics, it lacked any real personality. There were also stacks of boxes in a corner. He looked at her, curious.
"I wasn't coming back, remember? My stuff was going to go to charity. This was just where I slept while trying to get back to you." Rose stated with a shrug as she walked to her bed and picked up her blue jacket and reached inside one of the pockets.
His look quickly changed to shock as she placed his sonic screwdriver in his hand.
The Doctor was speechless for a moment as he closed his hand around it. He loved his sonic screwdriver. "How?" he finally blurted out. "I thought I'd have to make a new one. "
"I figured. When I saw it I knew I should grab it."
"What? No, of course not. It was yours in a parallel world. You didn't… um.. need it anymore."
She swallowed and looked away for a moment as she blinked profusely and he understood.
"Oh, Rose." He wrapped her in his embrace and rubbed her back soothingly. "I'm sorry you saw that."
"Me too." Her voice came out in a whisper as she laid her head against his shoulder. "But I really don't want to talk about that right now. I just wanted to give you it."
"Thank you." He kissed the crown of her head and continued to hold her close until she tried unsuccessfully to hide a yawn.
"Perhaps it's time for bed?" He nodded towards the clock on her nightstand. It was well past midnight.
She nodded at him as she yawned again. "Will you say with me? Um, for the night?"
The Doctor raised his eyebrows. "I thought you didn't want to move too fast?"
Rose smacked him softly on the arm as she blushed. "Not for that! I mean to sleep. We've shared a bed countless times while traveling and – "
"Twenty-six," he interrupted without much thought.
She frowned slightly at him. "What?"
He caressed her cheek with his thumb. "We've shared a bed twenty-six times, Rose. Five times before I regenerated, twenty-one times after."
"You remember all that?" she asked him breathlessly and then shook her head. "Of course you do."
He nodded in agreement. "I remember every moment with you, Rose."
She gave him a pleased smile. "I just got you back and I'd like to remember you're really here beside me, especially if I wake up during the night."
His brow furrowed for a moment in regret and he rubbed the back of his neck. "I would love to, but we, erm, are in your parents' house."
Rose shrugged. "Mum just got me back when she thought I was leaving forever. She promised as long as we don't make a scene and um, keep quiet, she won't say a word. She was actually surprised when I suggested we prepare a different room for you after what happened on the beach."
The Doctor could barely contain his grin. "Okay then."
"Wait here for a moment."
Rose departed and returned a few minutes later with a pair of Pete's jimjams and toiletries. "You can change while I get ready for bed." She went into the bathroom and closed the door behind her.
Once the Doctor was ready for bed himself, he joined Rose back in her room. She took one look at his ankles as the bottoms of the pajamas were way too short and started laughing.
"We'll have to go shopping tomorrow. We also need to start looking for a flat."
The Doctor's eyebrows arched, pleasantly surprised. "We won't be staying here?"
Rose shook her head. "No, 'course not. We need time and sp-"
She broke off for a second before she began again. "We need our own place. I love my family but my days of living with them are done."
Rose pulled the covers of her duvet back and climbed into to bed, patting the space next to her. He slid in next to her and once he was lying down she snuggled up against him on her side, her head resting just above his heart.
"What's it feel like to only have one?"
He considered for a moment. He'd felt hollow at first but that sensation was passing. "Different."
Rose looked up at him with a grin. "Good different or bad different?"
He smiled back. "Just different. I've actually been human before, but at the time I didn't know I'd ever been anything else."
Rose looked at him in interest. "Really?" she asked around another yawn.
"Sleep, Rose. It's a long story and I'll tell you about it later."
Rose nodded and within moments she was fast asleep in his arms. He wasn't surprised considering her sleep on the zeppelin had been restless.
The Doctor watched her through the dim light of her window, his heart in his throat. Yes, they had shared a bed twenty-six times before but she had never been in his arms. He pressed a kiss to her hair and whispered against it quietly. "Thank you." This time it wasn't for his sonic screwdriver, but for her.
Rose's words from earlier replayed in his mind and he found peace in the truth of them. This new existence of his had come from a direct attempt not to change, so he could stay the same for her. It had proved futile and caused a change he never would've imagined. However, it also gave him this moment, and it would provide a lifetime full of moments such as these, beside the woman he loved. There would be moments of passion, oh yes, but quiet moments like these were a great start and something he would always take comfort in.
The Doctor knew himself well enough to know it would not always be easy. He was stubborn and being grounded on this planet until the TARDIS was ready would surely make him restless from time to time. But for all that he had lost, he had gained what he never would have believed possible that night outside the café: a chance to spend the rest of his life with Rose Tyler. It was the one adventure he never thought he could have.
Rose awoke the next morning as sunlight played across her eyelids and she slowly drifted back to consciousness. She immediately felt the absence of the Doctor beside her and she was loath to open her eyes, not wanting to face an empty bed. She'd told him how she wanted to sleep next to him, a reminder that he was there, but that was only part of it. It wasn't just falling asleep beside him, she wanted to wake next to him, or even better, in his arms. All of the previous times they shared a bed, he was never there when she awoke the following morning and it probably shouldn't have surprised her he'd was gone now as well, but it still hurt.
"Why the frown?"
Rose's eyes flew open and saw the Doctor laying on his side and his head resting on the next pillow over, a tender smile on his face. "Um… I thought you'd already gotten up."
He scooted over so their faces were inches from one another. He reached over and cupped her cheek in his hand and she leaned into his caress. "I was watching you sleep. It was lovely. You're lovely."
"Oh." She felt a blush creeping up on her and words abandoned her as he closed the distance between them and pulled her into his arms.
"Did you really think I was going miss getting to kiss you first thing in the morning?" The Doctor shook his head, his eyes crinkled in amusement. "I always wanted to before but could never let myself. You'd come into the galley or console room in your pajamas and bed head and didn't want to speak until you'd had your morning tea or a cup of coffee. I knew that there were much better ways to wake up."
Warmth spread through Rose at his words, but also hesitation. As much as she wanted his kiss, wanted it badly, she held her hands up in front of her mouth. "Doctor, not that I don't love that idea, but well…"
She closed her eyes as her blush increased. "I should brush my teeth first," she mumbled.
A deep chuckle rose in his chest. "I've waited years for this, Rose. Do you think I would care about something like that?"
"You've got that right."
With that the Doctor's lips descended upon her own. It started out chaste, just like the night before, a mere brush of lips against one another over and over, and then across her face, but before long it became something more. It changed to tongues and teeth as they explored one another, tasting, and nibbling, and she savored the knowledge that this was only the start of a lifetime together and full of good morning kisses.
When they finally pulled apart, minutes or hours later, Rose honestly wasn't sure which, she inhaled deeply and breathed in his familiar scent. "I didn't tell you last night but did you know you smell the same?" She smiled at him in wonder as she felt tears spring to her eyes.
"Well, I don't really make a habit of smelling myself…" he trailed off as he looked into her eyes. "That's a good thing?" he asked with a small smile of his own.
Taking his hand in hers she nodded and brought it to her heart. "Yeah. You smell like home."