“Right, where are we off to today, Doctor?” Amy asked, leaning against the railing, studying the Doctor from his position by the console. Rory was sitting in the jump seat, waiting patiently for the Doctor to take them to their next destination.
The Doctor looked up at her and grinned, flouncing around the console and making a show of pushing some knobs and pulling some levers. “Anywhere you want, Pond. You have the whole of time and space at your fingertips. Where do you want to go?”
Amy crossed her arms and said sternly, “Well, you’ve been promising to take me to the beach for a while now. Somehow we never end up going.”
The Doctor made a face and whined, “But beaches are so boring. Nothing but sand and sun.”
“Never been to a nude beach then, Doctor?” Amy teased. She was satisfied when the Doctor blushed furiously and started fidgeting.
“A nudist beach! How exciting,” River sang, emerging from the corridor and into the console room. She grinned seductively at the Doctor as he sputtered and stammered.
“What!” he squeaked in a voice a pitch higher than normal. “No. No, absolutely not.”
“Aw, come on, Doctor. You need to tan that pasty white flesh of yours,” Amy continued to tease.
“Maybe, but certainly not at a nudist beach!” he huffed.
“So, a normal beach, yeah?”
“Absolutely. Nothing better than a normal beach with people covering appropriate parts and…wait, did you just trick me into taking you to a normal boring beach, Amelia Pond?”
“Maybe I did,” the fiery redhead said a little too innocently.
“You have to admit, you did walk right into that one, Doctor,” Rory stated.
The Doctor whirled around to face Rory, losing his balance and partially stumbling toward the other man. He righted himself and tweaked his bow tie. “And whose side are you on?” he asked indignantly.
Rory pointedly look at his wife and replied, “My wife’s, of course. I’m the one who has to live with her. Remember: happy wife, happy life.”
The Doctor muttered something under his breath and turned back to the console.
“Wise man,” Amy piped up. “You know, Doctor, you should listen to those words of wisdom and make your wife happy and take her to a beach.”
The Doctor snorted. “I don’t think River’s the type of woman who goes to beaches.”
“Do you know that for a fact or are you making assumptions?” River asked, raising an eyebrow and walking over to seat herself next to Rory.
The Doctor stilled, knowing full well that he was more than likely walking into a trap and he really didn’t feel like being on the receiving end of River’s wrath. River was a strong, self-assured woman, but her moods could swing quite volatilely and she could be impressively scary with her temper. Not to mention her slaps were on par with Jackie Tyler’s slaps.
No, I must not think of that, he thought, shaking his head. Those memories are too painful.
He turned a dial and flipped a lever and turned to the trio, a big grin plastered on his face. “Right, the beach it is!” he exclaimed, rubbing his hands together.
Suddenly, alarms started wailing at a deafening crescendo and the TARDIS rocked and shook, sending its occupants tumbling to the floor. The Doctor grabbed the console from his position on the floor and hoisted himself upright, checking the monitor to see what was going on. River was close to his side, holding on to the console to keep from falling over.
“What’s going on?” she shouted above the din. Lights started flashing and the shuddering increased, sending them sprawling on the floor once more.
“I don’t know. I didn’t even send her anywhere yet!” the Doctor shouted back. He glanced over at Amy and Rory, both who had their hands over their ears.
Suddenly the TRADIS exploded with golden light. The Doctor, who had been trying to stand again, was sent sprawling onto the floor once again. He shut his eyes tightly against the blinding brightness of the golden light, trying to grab on to something to keep himself steady.
And as suddenly as it started, it stopped. The silence that followed was unnerving. The stillness of the ship was eerie. The Doctor waited a few seconds to see if it would start up again, and was relieved when it seemed the ship was good for now. He clambered to the console and checked the monitor again.
What had just happened? he thought, checking the readings. But the screen showed him nothing. Everything appeared normal. He sent out a telepathic question to the ship, but she stubbornly refused to even give him a hint of what had just happened. He scratched his head in frustration.
“Um, Doctor, you might want to see this,” Rory said from the other side of the console.
The Doctor swung the screen away from him and stomped over to Rory. He stopped dead in his tracks as his eyes came to rest on a glowing form laying in a fetal position. As he watched, the golden light seemed to absorb into the figure, the features becoming more pronounced.
The person had long blonde hair that was fanned out on the floor. So probably female, he assumed. Slim build, but hard to tell with the position she was lying in. She was dressed all in black, from her black boots to her black jeans and black jacket.
The Doctor frowned. Who is she and more importantly, how did she get on my TARDIS?
He became aware that the Ponds and River were standing right next to him, staring fascinatedly at the person, but waiting for him to do something. He swallowed and cautiously made his way to the figure. He knelt down and brushed away the hair from her face to check a pulse and froze as he saw who it was. Rose Tyler.
Time seemed to slow down as he stared at the woman who had stolen his hearts so long ago. He thought that he had moved on and dealt with the pain of losing her, but now, coming face to face with her, all those long forgotten feelings started resurfacing. He smiled sadly and traced his fingertips lovingly across her cheek. He knew his actions were blocked from view by the others and he had to allow himself this one moment of tenderness towards his long lost girl.
Suddenly she gasped for air and her eyes flew open staring wildly around her. He knelt over her and grinned. “Rose Tyler.” He said her name reverently, with such tenderness, but in a low voice that he was sure neither Amy nor Rory had heard him. He wasn’t too sure about River.
She blinked a few times at him, remaining utterly still except her heaving chest, giving away how scared she was. “Who are you?” she asked in a shaky voice.
Ah, yes, new face. She doesn’t know who I am, he thought.
“It’s me, the Doctor. I’ve regenerated,” he replied softly, sitting back on his heels.
She just look at him blankly and the Doctor felt his hearts breaking slowly as he realized that she had no idea who he was. He had imagined, fantasized, many times about meeting Rose again, but in each of those scenarios he had never imagined her not knowing who he was. The reality of the situation was becoming suffocatingly painful.
“Don’t you remember?” he asked again softly, his voice almost breaking.
She shook her head and struggled into a sitting position. She looked all around her, not even recognizing the TARDIS. The Doctor frowned. She looked to be in her early twenties, so she was definitely older than the nineteen year old he had first met. So why did she not know him?
“What do you remember?” he finally asked.
Her eyes returned to his and he could feel himself drowning in their warm hazel depths.
“Nothing,” she rasped, grabbing his wrist, panic suddenly flashing in her eyes that had gotten wide with fear. “I can’t remember anything!”