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Unbreakable

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“Did you think I just forgot?” the Doctor asks, his face full of apology and regret. “Rose, really, I promise I didn’t leave you on purpose. I thought I… Blimey. I thought came back two hours later, not two weeks.”

Rose sniffs, struggling to keep her emotions in check. She’s had two weeks back on the estate to imagine all the ways the Doctor purposefully left her behind while he went galavanting around the universe doing who knows what. Or worse, she’d imagined him leaving her for good, without warning or explanation.

“I thought you left me.” Avoiding his gaze, she chews on her thumbnail, remembering the multiple waves of hurt and anger she’s experienced since she’d discovered the TARDIS missing from the courtyard.

“Never, Rose. I’d never leave you like that,” the Doctor insists, leaning down to peer into her eyes. “Please believe me.”

With a shuddering breath, Rose looks up and meets his gaze. “But you already sent me away once before.” A half-sob/half-laugh bubbles from her throat. “What’s a girl supposed to think?”

Reaching out, the Doctor tentatively touches her shoulder. When she doesn’t immediately shrug him off, he steps closer and wraps his arms around her. She allows the action but doesn’t relax into his embrace, not quite ready to forgive him.

“I sent you away to save your life. The last thing I expected was for you to return all… glow-y and Bad Wolf-y.” He pulls away, as if he senses her unwillingness to believe him.

“Yeah, well, serves you right for trying to force me to do something I didn’t wanna do,” Rose mutters. Brow furrowing, she pokes him in the chest. “Stop distracting me. You still left me here for two weeks. Mum was unbearably smug.”

“I didn’t leave you here on purpose. Like I said, I only meant to be gone a few hours. I’m sorry my driving is so rubbish.”

Despite her hurt and irritation, Rose smirks at the Doctor’s admission. The Doctor is the very picture of an apologetic puppy, and for a brief moment, she wonders if he’ll resort to groveling at her feet if she doesn’t accept his apology soon.

“What was so important that you couldn’t wait for me?” she asks, returning to the heart of the matter.

At her question, the Doctor pulls himself up and scratches the back of his neck. “Well, ehm, I… I got you a present, and I wanted it to be a surprise.”

Rose blinks, struggling to hold onto her anger. But his answer had thrown a wrench in her determination to hold his actions against him. “A present?”

The Doctor sighs and reaches into his trouser pocket. After a moment, he pulls out a small box and runs his fingertips over the top before handing it to her without a word.

She takes the box without hesitation and flicks her gaze to his before studying the box. Familiar circular symbols cover the surface, and at a nod from the Doctor, she opens the box. With a gasp, Rose stares at the object inside.

“It’s a... necklace,” Rose says in awe, as she pulls a long, silver chain from the box. “Oh, Doctor, it’s beautiful.”

“It’s not just a necklace, Rose.” The Doctor’s gaze is strangely intense as he steps closer and takes it from her. “It’s for your TARDIS key. You mentioned your chain broke right before you went to see Jackie, so I thought I’d pop off to Ralvon – the moon, not the planet – to get you an unbreakable chain and be back in time for tea.” He chuckles humorlessly. “That obviously didn’t go as planned.”

A necklace for her TARDIS key. An unbreakable chain. “You don’t want me gone,” she says softly, allowing the truth of his actions to speak louder than his apologies. “You wanted to make sure I never lost the key to my home.”

"Yeah,” the Doctor answers, clearly vulnerable under her scrutiny.

The two weeks without him had hurt her deeply, but she has no reason to believe that he’s telling her anything than the truth. Without another thought, Rose wraps her arms around the Doctor and squeezes him close, breathing in his familiar scent. God, she’d missed him.

“Thank you.” For a moment, she lingers in their embrace, but then pulls back and digs her key out of her pocket. “Put it on for me?” she asks, nodding at the chain still in his hand.

The Doctor breathes a sigh of relief, then unclasps the necklace and strings the key on the chain. He steps behind her and gently pushes her hair out of the way before wrapping the necklace around her neck. As his fingers secure the chain, they brush lightly against her skin, and she shivers.

Rose turns to face him. “I’m ready to go home, Doctor.”

He nods, then crushes her in a hug. “I’m so sorry, Rose.”

“I know.” There’s no point in pressing the matter further, so with a shy smile, she takes his hand and leads him home.