This is the twenty fifth, and final, fic in my 2013 Advent Calendar! Happy holidays!
prompt: "So this is the new year, and I have no resolutions."
LONDON, EARTH, NEW YEAR'S EVE 2002
"Got any new year's resolution, then, babe?" Shareen asked, leaning against the balcony railing.
"Nah." Rose brought her cigarette to her mouth, sucking nicotine into her lungs. "Got it pretty set, don't I? Nothing to improve on."
"That so? How about Jimmy?"
"What d'you mean?"
"I mean… Maybe it's time to– " Shareen crane her neck, peering into the flat through the window. "Look, Rose. We both know he's no good. Maybe your resolution should be to move on, yeah?"
"You don't know him like I do, Shareen," Rose said, blowing out smoke and watching it bloom into clouds before her.
"You know what, Rose? You know what I think the real problem is? You don't know him like I do." Shareen shook her head and pushed herself off the railing, opening the balcony door. "You're so blind, you are."
"Reckon I could quit smoking." Rose stared at the cigarette in her hand and dropped it, crushing the bud with her heel. "How's that for a resolution?"
"Always something." Shareen moved to walk into the flat, but stopped and turned around, one foot inside. "You know… Mickey still loves you. He said, the other day."
"I've got Jimmy now."
"Yeah? I don't think you–"
"Shareen!" Jimmy shouted from inside the flat. "Make up your mind, woman, and shut the bloody door before we freeze our arses off!"
"What a charmer." Shareen pursed her lips. "It won't end well, babe."
Rose picked up another cigarette, put it between her lips and lit it, taking a draw. "Jimmy and me are forever."
"Thought you said you would stop smoking."
She grinned. "Not a new year yet for a couple of hours."
LONDON, EARTH, 1 JANUARY 2005
"Did you have fun, mum?" Rose asked, giving Jackie a cuppa of steaming hot tea and sitting down beside her on the sofa.
"Ugh, can we just sit all quiet and nice for a moment, sweetheart." Jackie rubbed her forehead. "Waiting for the bloody aspirin to kick in."
Rose failed to suppress a snort and leaned back, turning on the telly, volume down low, and sipped on her tea whilst she waited for her mum to be up for a chat. It took her twenty minutes before she began sharing details from last night's New Year's Eve party, and Rose listened and hummed in all the right places.
"And what about you?" Jackie asked, once she'd finished. "Did you do anything fun?"
"Nah. Just went to bed."
"Oh, I forgot to ask you. Did you make any resolutions? I promised myself to lose a bit of weight and to chat up that bloke that works with Mickey. You know, the tall, broad fella." Jackie scrunched up her nose and raised her shoulders, smiling. "I like me a big bloke. Makes me feel so small and protected."
"Dunno. I said to Mickey that there was no use, right, 'cause…" Rose shrugged. "I mean, I don't really have anywhere to go, do I? I'm stuck."
"Why would you say that?" Jackie shook her head and took a small sip of her tea. "You got such a good life, Rose. You're so ungrateful, you are. When I was your age, I lived on my own. Then I met your father, but it was still hard. Really had to struggle to make ends meet. And I promised myself that I would never ever let my child go through that. I won't just toss you out and–"
"I met this bloke last night and–"
"Really? And what about Mickey?"
"Not like that, mum. But he said… What was it? 'I bet you're gonna have a really great year'. Yeah. Something like that, he said. A really great year."
"Oh? Was he pissed?"
Rose furrowed her brow and tried to picture the man, but could only conjure up a brown blur. "I don't think so. He was… There was something about him, yeah, that just made me trust him."
Jackie's eyebrows flew up high on her forehead and she opened her mouth, but Rose cut her off before she'd got a word out.
"Relax, mum. I didn't do anything stupid. I just meant that, for some weird reason, right, I could tell that he meant it. That he knew it." Rose smiled, nodding to herself and feeling her chest expand with a little hope brewing inside her. "Yeah. That's my resolution. And when my chance comes, mum–and it will, just you wait–I'm gonna go for it. Yeah. I'm gonna have a really great year, I am."
LONDON, EARTH, NEW YEAR'S EVE 2908
"Oh, I know that look." Jack shot off a grin and leaned on one elbow against the bar. "What are you up to, Rose?"
"I'm gonna do it. I'm gonna do it tonight," she said, without taking her eyes off the Doctor ploughing through the sea of people moving on the dance floor.
"It's my New Year's resolution. I'm gonna–" She released a shaky breath and rolled her shoulders, wiggling her arms to release some nervous energy. "I have a perfect excuse, don't I? New Years."
"Oooh, I see. You're gonna give him a little smooch at midnight? Finally make something happen between you guys?"
"Yeah. It's almost count down and he's heading our way. Wish me luck!"
Jack downed his shot of whiskey. "Don't think you need it, hon. That man worships the ground you walk on."
"Yeah?" Rose grabbed her glass and guzzled down the minty drink, letting it drown the butterflies swooping around in her stomach. "I don't want him to worship the ground I walk on. Or me. I just want him to–" She swallowed the rest of her words and grinned from ear to ear, holding out her hand in invitation as the Doctor had come close enough to hear them over the din. "Hi! Where've you been?"
"Had to chat with the owner to get the primo–"
The people around them began counting down, hollering into one another's faces, smiling and jumping on the spot in excitement. Rose shot Jack a glance, receiving a discreet thumbs up, and she licked her lips and took a deep breath. The clock struck twelve, and she grabbed the lapels of the Doctor's leather jacket, rose on tiptoes and pressed her mouth to his, kissing him for a little longer than could be considered platonic.
She pulled back, looking up at him through her lashes. "Happy New Year, Doctor."
"It's not really a new year for us, Rose." He smiled and patted her hands before removing them from his lapels; a lump formed in her chest, sinking down to settle deep in her stomach. "We should get back to the TARDIS," he said and headed across the bustling floor.
Rose looked at Jack; he shrugged, comforting her with a lopsided smile and tender eyes. He slung his arm around her shoulders and kissed her temple.
"He loves you, Rose."
"Yeah?" She ducked her head, staring at her scuffed up trainers. "Then why have I never felt so rejected in my life?"
Jack sighed. "I don't know what his prob–"
Rose's head snapped up and she saw the Doctor standing a bit farther away, frowning at them.
"C'mon, then," he called to them, nodding over his shoulder. "Off we go."
LONDON, EARTH, NEW YEAR'S EVE 2007
"You must be so restless." Rose adjusted her grip on the Doctor's hand, squeezing her fingers around his now more narrow palm. "When d'you think the TARDIS's gonna be ready?"
"Oh, I don't know…" He tilted his head back and looked up at the sky. "Shouldn't be too long now."
"That's good! Will be good to get out there again. Among the stars…"
He peered at her, small smile playing on his lips, eyes dancing over her face. "No, I meant, the fireworks. Two minutes. The TARDIS still needs quite some time," he said, returning his gaze to the sky. "One week if we're lucky. Two weeks if we're being realistic. Four weeks if we're very,very unlucky." He sighed, voice turning softer, breathier. "Weeks of Jackie Tyler's cooking, more telly than you should watch in a lifetime, really, and–"
"Oi!" Rose elbowed him in the side. "That's my life you're criticising."
"Is it? I thought…" He raised his eyebrows before furrowing them in concern. "Did you change your mind."
"No! 'Course not." She grinned and bumped him with her shoulder. "Don't be daft. You're stuck with me, you are."
He beamed, watching her with sparkling eyes. "It's about to start."
They counted down together with the rest of the people gathered for the fireworks show at the London Eye, and huddled a little closer when the sky exploded with colour.
"So, Rose Tyler, d'you have any resolutions this year?" he asked, smiling down at her.
"I might have." She reached up and cupped his cheek with her free hand, running her thumb over his freckles. "How many faces have you worn, then?"
"Quite a few."
"And how does this face feel about traditional kisses at midnight?"
He hummed, eyes directed skyward as he pondered her question. "Oh, I think this face is quite all right with a friendly kiss at midnight." He pressed his lips to the corner of her mouth before removing her hand, looping her arm around his neck instead and hugging her. "Happy new year, Rose."
She rested her cheek against his shoulder, face turned away from him. "Yeah. Happy new year, Doctor."
LONDON, EARTH, JANUARY FIRST 2399
The winter chill bit Rose's bare skin and she hugged her knees to her chest, looking at the black sky dotted with stars and the colourful sparks of fireworks. She heard the sound of the door to the rooftop closing between booms, but kept her eyes forward until she felt him hang his coat over her shoulders, and she turned her head to face him.
"Wondered where you'd wandered off to," he said, brushing brown leaves off the edge of the terrass and settling down next to her. "I was worried."
She laughed and tilted her head, regarding him for a moment. "Really?"
A group of teenagers tumbled out on one of the balconies of the opposite building, dressed to the nines and with colourful sticks between their lips. Someone pulled out a lighter and lit each stick and soon the air around them fogged up with clouds in purple, orange, pink, and blue.
"Are those fags?"
"Mm. In a way. Give a slight buzz, though. Would you like to try one?"
"What?" she said with a chuckle. "You'd let me get high?"
"Let you? I'm not your father, Rose. You can do whatever you want."
She followed the outline of his profile, lingering at his full bottom lip before shaking her head. "No, no I can't."
"No? Are you sure? They don't contain any carcinogens and you won't get a hangover. I've tried one once. Was rather pleasant."
She rolled her eyes. "God, you're daft."
"Got any resolutions, then, Doctor?"
"Eehm… No. No, can't say I have. You?"
"Nope! Got it pretty set, don't I? Nothing to improve on." She frowned, repeating the words in her mind, eyes drifting over the sky and the teenagers smoking, before landing on her hands resting in her lap. "Blimey. Got the biggest déjà vu just now."
"You know, Rose, a déjà vu is really just–"
"Not now, Doctor."
"Sorry." He sat quiet for a moment, then turned to her with a wide smile on his face, arms held out. "Well, happy new year, then, Rose Tyler. You snuck off before countdown and I didn't get my hug."
"It's a kiss, Doctor. That's the tradition. A kiss."
"Right." His mouth worked for a moment before a tentative smile spread on his face. "Well, then," he said, leaning in. "Same as last time."
"No," she said, patting his cheek. "We've kissed five times now. One really embarrassing new year's kiss that just made me wish the ground could swallow me whole. One that killed you. One that barely counts, 'cause it wasn't really on the lips, was it?" she said, touching corner of her mouth. "One because you were so happy to be alive, but nothing ever came of it. And one when Cassandra possessed my body. Five stupid kisses that didn't mean anything."
He ducked his head, nodding, before looking out over the rooftops. "That's not true, Rose."
"Yeah, all right. Maybe some of them meant something. But none of them changed anything. Not between you and me. Next time I kiss you, I want it to be… I want it to be a first step."
"That's not… I can't, Rose. Doesn't matter that I–" He cut himself off with a shuddering breath. "You know I can't."
"Yeah, I know." She linked her arms around his neck and snuggled her nose into his shoulder, breathing him in. "It's not really a new year for us, I suppose, but happy new year all the same, Doctor."
LONDON, PARALLEL EARTH, NEW YEAR'S EVE 2012
Rose dragged her feet after her down the pavement, towards the chippy a block from her flat. Her mum had invited her to the Tyler mansion for her usual New Year's bash and told Rose to go straight to bed after her night shift at Torchwood, so she would be rested for the party, but Rose had declined. She'd just completed yet another unsuccessful jump and only had enough energy to pick up some food, kick off her trainers, grab a beer, and unwind in front of the telly.
Every year she made the same resolution: finding the Doctor. Every year she failed. It ate away at her, crumbling her determination and optimism and, now, when the darkness threatened to destroy everything, replacing it with such anxiety she only felt numb. Nothing existed but her mission.
She pulled the door to the chippy open and, although she always ordered the same thing in this place, shot a glance at the menu, staggering back as she saw each line on the menu spelling out the same thing: Bad Wolf.
Her eyes darted about the place and every little piece of text–the open/closed sign on the door, the iPhone held by the woman in front of her in the queue, the newspaper on the table behind her, the napkins that should have the name of the chippy printed on them–everything read Bad Wolf.
Her knees wobbled and she fumbled after the counter with one hand, breaths coming in short intervals. It took a few seconds before she got her bearings and broke out in a smile, shoving her hand into her trouser pocket and pulling up her mobile.
"Control? I need another shift."
LONDON, PARALLEL EARTH, JANUARY FIRST 2013
Rolling over from her back to her side, Rose slung her arm out and, as she hit something warm and soft instead of the cold, smooth sheet she had expected, she shot up from the bed. Heart beating hard in her chest, she stood for a while and stared at the tuft of brown hair sticking up from under the covers. She never brought anyone home. Hadn't had a one night stand in her life. Granted, Mickey or Jake had stayed over once or twice and, since she didn't have a guest-room or much of a sofa to speak of, slept in her bed, but that wasn't either of them.
She pulled out the drawer on her nightstand in a slow, smooth movement, picking up the stun gun she kept there, and reached out with her other hand to lift the covers and reveal the intruder.
She snatched her hand back when the person in her bed groaned and turned around, rubbing his eyes as he sat up in bed.
"Rose? What's wrong? What time is it? My time sense's not adjusted yet. Did I sleep long? Your heart's beating really fast. Is something–"
Her jaw dropped. "Doctor?"
He blinked at her a few times, sleepy smile blooming on his face. "Hello," he said, wiggling his fingers.
"Oh, my god." She breathed out in relief, slumping forward a bit, then crawled into bed, under the covers, and snuggled up on her side. "I didn't remember. When I woke up. I didn't remember. Sorry…" She grinned and ruffled his hair. "I didn't mean to scare you. Everything's fine."
"Good. Can we sleep a little longer, then? This body's utterly useless. I need at least three hours more.
"Yeah, think so. Lemme see…" She grabbed her mobile to check the time, chuckling to herself when she saw the date. "You know what day it was when I left?"
"New Year's Eve, 2012. Like, eight o'clock in the morning. And the o– Uhm, we must've been dropped off the same day, 'cause it's January first, 2013, five minutes past midnight."
"Really? A brand new year."
"Yeah. A brand new year and, finally, I have no resolutions."
"Yeah. 'Cause the last few years I've only had one, and that was to find you again."
"Ah. I dare say you accomplished that, hm?" he said, eyes warm and glittering; she nodded, beaming. "And before that…?"
"Well, before that…" She brushed over his cheek, following the line of jawbone until she reached his chin, touching his bottom lip with tentative fingers. "I think that's taken care of, as well. Remember?"
"Hm… No, no I think I need a reminder."
"Oh, really?" Her smile grew into a delighted grin and she leaned closer, brushing her lips to his. "Did it help?"
"Nope. Try again," he said, eyes drifting close, and she captured his lips again. "Mm. Yes, it's coming back to me now. A first step, wasn't it?"
"Yeah," she said and leaned in for another kiss, making it longer, nibbling a little on his bottom lip.
He opened up for her, tongue giving her lips a gentle push, and she let him slip inside. He tasted of sleep at first, but the more she sucked on his tongue, on his lips, the more she felt the taste of him, of tea, buttered toast, and that faint trace of time she still remembered from her moment as a golden goddess. She slung her leg over his hip and pressed herself closer, hand dipping in under the hemline of his t-shirt to find hot, soft skin. She pulled him with her as she rolled over on her back with him on top of her, nestled between the cradle of her thighs. He pressed his lips to the corner of her mouth, her chin, the tip of her nose, and the other corner of her mouth in soft kisses before pulling back and propping himself up on his hands so he could look at her.
"I missed you," she whispered.
"I gathered," he said, waggling his eyebrows.
"Shut up," she said and they laughed together. She brushed his limp fringe out of his eyes, running her nails across his scalp and giving his unruly hair a soft tug just because she could. "It won't be as easy as this, will it? Just having a snog and everything will solve itself."
"No, I don't think it will."
"But it's a first step."
"Hm… I suppose," he said, nuzzling her nose. "I might need another reminder, though."
"Oh, I think that can be arranged," she said, cradling his cheeks in her hands and bringing his mouth back to hers.