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Neither Rose nor the Doctor noticed Jack pick up her bag and stash it in the TARDIS, but it was a good thing they did. Later, Jack would give them a hard time for not actually saying goodbye, but they were busy. It had been an emotional rollercoaster of a day for both of them. They stumbled into the TARDIS, and the Doctor quickly threw them into the vortex before returning to his previous task of showing Rose just how much he loved her.

Rose was leaning up against the console, watching him and giggling. She knew that some of the joy she felt was hers, but a based on the smugness, some of it was the TARDIS’s too. The Doctor finished throwing them into the vortex and then came back to where Rose was, looking for a kiss. She gave in for a moment, then pulled back. “Wait,” she said.

“What?” he asked. “What’s wrong?”

“Nothing,” she replied. “It’s just, there are some things we need to work out. I love you, Doctor, but I don’t want to end up in the same position we were in before this year. There are some things I need to know, and some things you need to know too.”

“Okay,” he sighed, clearly not appreciating the interruption, but also unable to tell her no.

“What am I?” she asked.

“What are—I don’t understand the question, Rose?” the Doctor asked.

“What am I? Am I just a companion that you now occasionally make out with? Or am I a permanent resident of this TARDIS, same as you?” Rose asked.

“You’ve been a permanent resident of this TARDIS for ages Rose,” the Doctor replied.

“If you had really thought that, my opinion on Martha would have mattered, wouldn’t it have?” she said, raising an eyebrow at him.

“I thought you and Martha were friends?” The Doctor asked, confused.

“We are now,” Rose answered. “But before this past year? No. Far from it. Spent all of our time trying to one-up the other. And you knew I wanted you to take her home. Instead you gave her a TARDIS key.”

“I meant to take her home,” the Doctor shrugged. “I really did. I just…I was scared. I knew I loved you, and I was worried I wouldn’t be able to stick to my rules if I was alone with you. So I invited her to stay.”

Rose nodded. “And that’s exactly why we need to have this conversation. Either what I want matters, or it doesn’t. But if we’re going to do,” Rose pointed between herself and the Doctor, “this? You’ve got to talk to me. I don’t want to just be a companion in all of this. I want to be your partner. I don’t want to have to worry that you’ll just strand me somewhere if you get tired of me.”

“I’ll never get tired of you, Rose Tyler,” the Doctor said, pressing his forehead to hers.

“Please, just promise me,” Rose said, looking up at him.

“I promise,” the Doctor said. “And I’ll even teach you how to pilot the Old Girl, if it would help. This is your home, Rose. I want you to feel like it is.”

“You’ll teach me to fly the TARDIS?” Rose asked.

“Of course. She’s meant to have six pilots anyway. I just usually have to manage on my own. But not anymore,” he smiled down at her.

“And will you teach me Gallifreyan?” Rose asked, her excitement getting the better of her. “So that I can read the console?”

“I can have her change the console to English,” the Doctor replied, looking down at his feet.

Rose’s heart sank as her mind started running through all of the reasons that he might not want to teach her his language, and her mind kept settling on the fact that it would be too hard. Before she could say anything though, the TARDIS zapped the Doctor. “Ow!” he exclaimed. “What was that for?” The TARDIS flashed her lights insistently, but Rose knew the message was for him, not for her. It took a few moments, but then realization dawned on the Doctor’s face. “Wait, do you want to learn Gallifreyan?”

“If you don’t want to teach me, that’s fine,” Rose replied. “I know that Time Lords were brilliant, so I’m sure it’s an impossible language to learn. Shouldn’t have even asked, really.”

“No, Rose,” the Doctor said. “Just tell me. Do you want to learn Gallifreyan?”

“Really, it’s okay, Doctor. I get it if you don’t want to teach me,” Rose replied, not meeting his eyes.

“Who ever said I didn’t want to teach you?” The Doctor asked.

“Well, you just said you could change the console to English,” Rose replied.

“Because I thought you only wanted to learn Gallifreyan so you could pilot her. There are other options, you know?” the Doctor replied. “But the TARDIS seems to think you might want to learn it just for the sake of learning it.”

“I don’t know,” Rose shrugged. “It’s just, you speak my language all the time. I thought it might be nice if I could speak your language too.”

“Oh Rose!” he exclaimed before leaning down to kiss her.

“If you don’t have a problem with teaching me Gallifreyan, why’d you look so sad, earlier?” Rose asked, pulling away.

“The TARDIS is the only place I get to see the language I grew up with. It would have been a little hard to go without it on the console,” the Doctor replied.

“But you’d do that, for me?” Rose asked.

“Of course,” he replied. “I love you.”

“Oh, Doctor,” Rose sighed before leaning in to kiss him soundly.

“Rose Tyler, you are brilliant. You know that?” the Doctor smiled.

Before Rose could answer that, or even get into the million things she needed to tell him, alarms started blaring and the console started sparking.

Chapter Text

“Ah, stop it! What was all that about, eh? Eh? What's your problem?” the Doctor asked as he started circling the console. Rose was about to join him when the TARDIS told her to just take a step back and watch the show. Unsure what the TARDIS meant, Rose did as she was told.

That was when she noticed a man in a white coat and hat with a stalk of celery pinned to his lapel. “Right, just settle down now,” the man said. The TARDIS helpfully supplied that this was a previous regeneration of the Doctor.

Rose watched as the two men bumped into each other as they tried to figure out what was wrong with the TARDIS. “So sorry,” the younger one said.

“What?” Rose’s Doctor asked, standing up straight. He looked to Rose to confirm that he was really seeing what he was seeing, and she nodded and giggled. She had a feeling the TARDIS was right, and this would be fun.

After a moment, the younger Doctor processed that there was someone else on his TARDIS. “What?” he asked, mimicking his older self.

“What!” Rose’s Doctor exclaimed again, this time excited.

“Who are you?” the younger man asked.

“Oh, brilliant. I mean, totally wrong. Big emergency, universe goes bang in five minutes, but, brilliant. Look, Rose. Isn’t it brilliant?” her Doctor asked.

“Mhm,” Rose smiled, trying not to laugh at the look on the younger Doctor’s face.

“I'm the Doctor. Who are you?” he asked.

“Yes, yes you are. You are the Doctor,” Rose’s Doctor said, avoiding the question altogether.

“My name’s Rose,” she said, just so the poor man wouldn’t be sitting there without an answer forever. He hardly seemed to register her though. He was much more concerned with the lunatic in the blue suit that was grinning at him like an idiot.

“Yes, I am. I’m the Doctor,” he replied, slightly nervously.

“Oh, good for you, Doctor. Good for brilliant old you,” her Doctor smiled.

“Is there something wrong with you?” he asked. Then he turned to Rose. “Is there something wrong with him?”

“Oh, loads,” she grinned.

“Oh, there it goes, the frowny face. I remember that one. Mind you, bit saggier than I ought to be. Hair's a bit greyer. That's because of me, though. The two of us together has shorted out the time differential. Should all snap back in place when we get you home. Be able to close that coat again. But never mind that. Look at you! The coat, the crickety cricket stuff, the stick of celery. Yeah. Brave choice, celery, but fair play to you. Not a lot of men can carry off a decorative vegetable. What do you think, Rose?” her Doctor asked, clearly trying to get her to declare him the better looking of the pair.

Determined not to give him the satisfaction, Rose grinned at him, tongue and all, and said, “I dunno. I kinda like it.”

“Hey!” her Doctor exclaimed.

But the other Doctor yelled, “Shut up! There is something very wrong with my TARDIS, and I've got to do something about it very, very quickly, and it would help, it really would help if there wasn't some skinny idiot ranting in my face about every single thing that happens to be in front of him!”

“Oh. Okay. Sorry. Doctor,” her Doctor said, drawing out the last word purposefully.

The younger Doctor took off his hat and sat it on the console and sighed, “Thank you.”

It took the older Doctor about 45 seconds to move and peer at the back of the younger man’s head. “Oh, the back of my head,” he noted.

“What?” the younger Doctor yelled.

“Sorry, sorry. It's not something you see every day, is it, the back of your own head. Mind you, I can see why you wear a hat. I don't want to seem vain, but could you keep that on?” her Doctor asked, pointing to the hat.

“What have you done to my TARDIS? You've changed the desktop theme, haven't you? What's this one, coral?” the younger Doctor asked.

“Oi!” Rose exclaimed, feeling a bit hurt on behalf of the TARDIS. “I like this theme!”

“Well,” her Doctor drawled.

But the younger Doctor just sighed, “It's worse than the leopard skin,” and put on a pair of half-moon spectacles.

“Oh, and out they come, the brainy specs. You don't even need them. You just think they make you look a bit clever,” her Doctor noted.

“Sounds like someone I know,” Rose said, just loud enough for him to hear.

Just then, another alarm sounded, and the younger Doctor jumped. “That's an alert, level five, indicating a temporal collision. It like two TARDISes have merged, but there's definitely only one TARDIS present. It's like two time zones or more at the heart of the TARDIS. That's a paradox that could blow a hole in the space time continuum the size of…” He paused for a moment, trying to calculate the size, while the older Doctor just showed him the screen where the calculation was already done. The younger Doctor sighed and continued, “Well, actually, the exact size of Belgium. That's a bit undramatic, isn't it? Belgium?”

Rose’s Doctor offered him his sonic screwdriver. “Need this?” he asked.

“No, I’m fine,” the other Doctor replied.

Her Doctor came over to sit next to her. “Oh no, of course, you liked to go hands free, didn't you, like hey, I'm the Doctor. I can save the universe using a kettle and some string. And look at me, I'm wearing a vegetable,” he grumbled.

“Rude,” she whispered.

“Who are you?” the younger man asked.

“Take a look,” her Doctor said.

“Oh. Oh, no,” the younger man said, horror dawning on his face.

“Oh yes,” Rose’s Doctor smiled.

“You’re. Oh no,” he whispered.

“Here it comes. Yeah, I am,” her Doctor grinned, still staring into his past self’s face.

“A fan,” he sighed.

“Yeah—what?” her Doctor asked, the grin deflating quickly.

“This is bad. Two minutes to Belgium,” he said, swiftly ignoring his older self again.

“What do you mean, a fan? I'm not just a fan, I'm you,” Rose’s Doctor said, clearly agitated. Rose sat there and laughed, and he just glared at her.

“Okay, you're my biggest fan. Look, it’s perfectly understandable. I go zooming around space and time, saving planets, fighting monsters and being well, let's be honest, pretty sort of marvellous, so naturally now and then people notice me. Start up their little groups. That LINDA lot. Are you one of them? How did you get in here? Can't have you lot knowing where I live,” the younger man said.

“Listen to me. I'm you, I'm you. I'm you with a new face. Check out this bone structure, Doctor, because one day you're going to be shaving it,” he insisted. Then the cloister bell started to ring and he sighed. “Right on time. That’s my cue.”
Rose watched as both Doctors circled the console, throwing levers. “In a minute we're going to create a black hole strong enough to swallow the entire universe!” the younger Doctor exclaimed.

Not at all remorsefully, Rose’s Doctor said, “Yeah, that's my fault, actually. I was rebuilding the TARDIS, forgot to put the shields back up. Got a bit distracted,” he said, smiling cheekily at Rose. “Your TARDIS and my TARDIS, well the same TARDIS at different points in its own timestream collided and whoo, there you go, end of the universe, butterfingers. But don't worry, I know exactly how this all works out. Watch. Venting the thermobuffer, drawing the Helmic regulator, and just to finish off, let's fry those Zeiton crystals.”

“You’ll blow up the TARDIS!” the younger Doctor gasped.

“No, I won’t. I haven’t,” Rose’s Doctor said.

“Who told you that?” the other Doctor asked.

Her Doctor shrugged. “You told me that.”

Realization dawned on the younger Doctor’s face. “Supernova and black hole at the exact same instant.”

“The explosion cancels out the implosion,” her Doctor nodded.

“Pressure remains constant!”

“It’s brilliant. Isn’t it brilliant, Rose?” her Doctor asked her.

“You think you’re so impressive,” she smiled.

“I am so impressive!” he exclaimed, before leaning over to steal a quick kiss. Now that he could do that, he found himself quite unable to resist.

“Far too brilliant. I've never met anyone else who could fly the TARDIS like that,” the younger Doctor said.

“Sorry, mate. You still haven’t,” her Doctor replied.

The TARDIS flashed her lights overhead and Rose giggled. “The Old Girl seems to think I might be able to give you a run for your money soon.”

“What?” he asked, before his younger self redrew his attention.

“You didn't have time to work all that out. Even I couldn't do it,” the younger man said.

“I didn’t work it out,” Rose’s Doctor said. “I didn’t have to.”

Realization, for real this time, dawned on the younger Doctor. “You remembered.”

“Because you will remember,” her Doctor nodded.

“You remembered being me watching you doing that. You already knew what to do because I saw you do it,” the younger one said.

“Wibbly wobbly…” her Doctor started.

“Timey wimey!” they all three exclaimed in unison.

“Right, TARDISes are separating. Sorry, Doctor, time's up. Back to long ago. Where are you now? Nyssa and Tegan? Cybermen and Mara and Time Lords in funny hats and the Master? Oh, he just showed up again, same as ever,” her Doctor said.

“Oh no, really? Does he still have that rubbish beard?” the younger one asked.

“No, no beard this time. Well, a wife,” her Doctor shrugged, which made Rose laugh, and brought the younger Doctor’s attention back to her.

“And what’s this then? A companion? You surely haven’t forgotten all of the rules, Doctor,” the younger one said, glancing between Rose and her Doctor disapprovingly.

Her Doctor smiled and pulled Rose into his side. “All the rules go out the window when Rose Tyler is involved.”

The younger one still looked at her skeptically, but Rose looked up to her Doctor. He was staring down at her with so much love. She smiled up at him and gave him a quick kiss.

The younger Doctor started to blink out of existence, and as he did so, he said, “Well, at least try and be careful. But it seems I’m off. What can I say? Thank you, Doctor.”

“Thank you,” Rose’s Doctor said.

“I’m very welcome,” the younger one said, just before blinking out of existence.

Then Rose’s Doctor noticed his hat, still sitting on the console. He flipped some switches, and the younger one reappeared. He handed him the hat and said, “You know, I loved being you. Back when I first started at the very beginning, I was always trying to be old and grumpy and important, like you do when you're young. And then I was you, and it was all dashing about and playing cricket and my voice going all squeaky when I shouted. I still do that, the voice thing. I got that from you. Oh, and the trainers, and—” He stopped and pulled his brainy specs out of his pocket. Rose grinned, with her tongue between her teeth. She really loved those glasses. But her Doctor continued. “Snap. Because you know what, Doctor? You were my Doctor.”

Realizing he was about to leave again, the younger Doctor smiled at his older, somewhat ridiculous self and said, “To days to come.”

“All my love to long ago,” her Doctor said as the younger one vanished.

Then, the echo of the younger Doctor’s voice said, “Oh, Doctor, remember to put your shields up.”

Before he could, though, Rose and the Doctor heard a ship’s horn and were sent crashing to the ground as the prow of a ship crashed through the console room. The Doctor fought through the dust to find Rose. Once he was sure she was fine, he looked up at the ship. “What?” He asked. “What?”

Then he noticed a life preserver that had fallen off. He picked it up, and it said, Titanic. “What?” he asked again, this time looking straight at Rose.

Chapter Text

The Doctor jumped up and started hitting buttons and turning dials, patching up the TARDIS as he did so. Then he threw the lever so that the TARDIS would rematerialize on the ship.

“I’m going to go see what this is. There’s no way we should have been able to crash into the Titanic. Not without water spewing into the TARDIS,” the Doctor said, moving towards the door.

“Not without me, you’re not,” Rose said, moving to his side.

“Rose, this could be dangerous. We don’t know what’s going on. And you’ve been through so much this year. I thought you died, I’m not about to risk losing you again,” he replied.

“You can’t keep me in here, protected from everything, all the time,” Rose replied. “I’m not going to break. I’d go mad. We’re partners in this, remember?”

He sighed. “Alright. Just please, promise to be careful. I don’t want to lose you now.”

Rose leaned up to press a kiss to his lips. “You won’t.”

He made to move toward the door again, but Rose pulled him back. “If this is the Titanic, I’d say there’s a dress code. One we’re not currently fitting. Let’s go get changed.”

**********************************************************************************************************************

The Doctor went and put on the Tux of Doom, and Rose went to the wardrobe room to see what the TARDIS had in mind for her. It was a gorgeous, blue, Edwardian dress with a sheer, black lace overlay. Rose smiled. She hoped there wouldn’t be too much trouble, because it would be a shame to ruin that dress. But she put it on with a pair of black flats that would be good for running. She wasn’t going to make things purposefully harder for herself than she had to. She pinned her hair up into a simple updo, then returned to the console room to meet the Doctor.

When she stepped into the console room, both of the Doctor’s hearts stopped. A while ago, he would have accused the TARDIS of trying to kill him. But now, he just strode forward and snogged her, like he always wanted to when she got dressed up like that. He had a feeling they would be making lots of trips to the past.

When they finally broke apart so that Rose could breathe, she asked the Doctor, “Weren’t we supposed to be investigating something?”

“Forget about that,” he practically growled, leaning down to kiss her again.

She pulled back. “Plenty of time for that later. Let’s go see what’s going on here, though.”

They finally left the TARDIS, the Doctor with his arm around Rose’s waist, and they went strolling around the room. Everywhere, people were in Edwardian dress, enjoying the party. There were large, golden angel statues all around the room, and Rose shivered. She had a bad feeling about them. Then she noticed a small, red skinned alien in a dinner jacket.

“Doctor, I have a feeling this isn’t the actual Titanic,” she said, nodding her head at the little guy who clearly did not belong in Edwardian high society.

“Right,” he said as he steered them over to a window, where they could see the Earth below them.

Overhead, they heard a voice say, “Attention all passengers. The Titanic is now in orbit above Sol Three, also known as Earth. Population, Human. Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to Christmas.”

Rose and the Doctor moved to a frame where a video was playing. It showed a man with a gold tooth. In it, he said, “Max Capricorn Cruiseliners. The fastest, the farthest, the best. And I should know because my name is Max.”
Giving each other a weary look, they moved away from the frame. Something was wrong here, but they didn’t know what yet. They passed a steward who said, “Merry Christmas, sir, madam.”

“Merry Christmas,” the Doctor and Rose replied in unison.

Around them, everyone was dancing. “May I?” The Doctor asked, holding out his hand to Rose.

“You may,” she smiled, taking his hand.

“We never did get to enjoy the village dance,” the Doctor sighed as he held her close.

Rose pulled back enough to look up at him. “How much of that do you remember?” she asked. They never had talked about it.

“Oh, I remember everything from when I was John,” he replied.

“Yeah?” Rose asked, slightly nervous. She knew it was silly. She had now told the Doctor, to his face, that she loved him, and she knew he felt the same. There was no reason to be nervous about him remembering what she had said in the Cartwright’s cottage, but still, she did.

“Yeah,” he said. “That was what made 1969 so hard for me. I couldn’t look at you without hearing you say that you loved me. And all I wanted to do was say it back. But I couldn’t not with my rules.”

“But, you wanted to?” Rose asked, looking up at him with a little bit of hope.

“Oh, yes,” he replied. “When John said that he needed to say something I could never say, he knew it was true for me. He knew from the moment he held the watch that his feelings for you were my feelings for you. He was just brave enough to say it. So when he said he loved you, what he meant was that I loved you.”

“Yeah?” she asked.

“Oh, yes, Rose Tyler,” the Doctor said, leaning down to kiss her.

Just then, they bumped into a man on his phone. “Watch where you’re going! Idiots…” he mumbled before resuming his phone conversation. “It's not a holiday for me, not while I've still got my vone. Now do as I say and sell.”

Rose pulled back from the Doctor. “He was a bit rude.”

“Yes, he was,” the Doctor agreed. “But we should probably figure out what’s going on.”

“Alright,” Rose smiled.

They made their way up to one of the creepy golden angels, and the Doctor said, “Evening. Passengers fifty-seven and fifty-eight. Terrible memory. Remind me. You would be?”

“Information. Heavenly Host supplying tourist information,” it replied in a mechanical voice.

“Good, so, tell me, because I'm an idiot, where are we from?” the Doctor asked.

“Information. The Titanic is en route from the planet Sto in the Cassavalian Belt. The purpose of the cruise is to experience primitive cultures,” it replied. Rose shivered as she realized that the creepy feeling she was getting was because this was some kind of unholy combination of the weeping angels and the clockwork droids from their Parisian adventure.

Oblivious to her unease, the Doctor continued, “Titanic. Who thought of the name?”

“Information. It was chosen as the most famous vessel of the planet Earth,” the angel said.

“Did they tell you why it was famous?” the Doctor asked, looking at Rose. Sometimes aliens got their Earth cultures mixed up. This might just be a case of that. But the Doctor had a feeling it wasn’t.

“Information. All designations are chosen by Mister Max Capricorn, president of Max, Max, Max—” the angel’s voice changed pitch as it began to short out. A steward noticed and ran over.

“Ooo, bit of a glitch,” the Doctor said.

“It's all right, sir, we can handle this,” the Steward said, coming over. “Software problem, that's all. Leave it with us, sir. Merry Christmas.” He turned to the other stewards and lowered his voice “That's another one down. What's going on with these things?”

Rose and the Doctor were distracted from the hosts when they heard the man that they had bumped into earlier screaming. “For Tov's sake, look where you're going. This jacket's a genuine Earth antique!”

The waitress that he was yelling at stooped to the ground the pick up the glass she had dropped. “I’m sorry, sir.”

“You'll be sorry when it comes off your wages, sweetheart. Staffed by idiots. No wonder Max Capricorn's going down the drain,” the man said as he stormed off.

Rose immediately ran over to the woman. “He’s an ass.”

The Doctor followed her and helped her and Rose pick up the pieces of the glass and put them on her tray. “Careful. There you go.”

“Thank you, sir, ma’am. I can manage,” the waitress staid.

“Never said you couldn’t,” Rose replied. “But helping never hurts. I’m Rose.”

“I’m the Doctor.”

“Astrid,” she replied. “Astrid Peth.”

“Nice to meet you, Astrid Peth. Merry Christmas,” the Doctor replied.

“Merry Christmas, sir,” Astrid replied, standing up, now that she had all of the glass cleaned up.

“Just Doctor, not sir,” he replied.

“Are you both enjoying the cruise?” Astrid asked them.

“Yes, despite jerks like him,” Rose sighed, looking over to the man who was back on the phone.

“What about you?” the Doctor asked Astrid. “Long way from home, Planet Sto.”

“Doesn't feel that different. I spent three years working at the spaceport diner, travelled all the way here and I'm still waiting on tables,” she sighed.

“No shore leave?” the Doctor asked.

“We're not allowed. They can't afford the insurance. I just wanted to try it, just once. I used to watch the ships heading out to the stars and I always dreamt of—” she stopped. “It sounds daft.”

“You dreamt of another sky. New sun, new air, new life. A whole universe teeming with life. Why stand still when there're all that life out there?” the Doctor replied.

“So, you travel a lot?” Astrid asked.

“All the time. Just for fun. Well, that's the plan. Never quite works,” the Doctor replied, tugging on his ear.

“Trouble’s just the bits in between, eh?” Rose asked, elbowing him. The Doctor unconsciously wrapped an arm around Rose’s waist and smiled down at her.

“Must be rich, then,” Astrid replied.

“Haven’t got a penny,” the Doctor replied. “We’re stowaways.”

“You’re kidding!” Astrid whispered.

“He’s serious,” Rose replied. “He even made me pay for our first date.”

“No!” Astrid gasped.

“Oh yeah,” the Doctor replied.

“How did you get on board?” Astrid asked.

“Accident. I've got this, sort of, ship thing. I was just rebuilding her. Left the defences down. Bumped into the Titanic. Here we are. Bit of a party. We thought, why not?” the Doctor replied with a shrug.

“I should report you!” Astrid said.

“Go on then,” the Doctor said.

Astrid smiled conspiratorially. “I’ll get you drinks. On the house.”

Rose barely heard the last bit though, as her attention had turned to a table where a bunch of snobby rich people were laughing at a rather large couple in cowboy costumes. The man turned to the woman and said, “Just ignore them.”

Rose and the Doctor sat down at their table. “Something’s tickled them,” the Doctor remarked.

“They told us it was fancy dress. Very funny, I'm sure,” the woman replied.

“They're just picking on us because we haven't paid. We won our tickets in a competition,” the man said.

“I had to name the five husbands of Joofie Crystalle in By the Light of the Asteroid. Did you ever watch By the Light of the Asteroid?”

“Oh, yes! Don’t tell me though. We’re only up to husband number three!” Rose exclaimed.

“Oh, you’ve so much to look forward to!” the woman replied. “It’s marvelous.”

“But we're not good enough for that lot. They think we should be in steerage,” the man said.

“Well, we can’t have that, can we?” the Doctor said before pulling the sonic out of his pocket. He aimed it at their table, and a champagne bottle burst open, spraying all of them down.

“Did you do that?” the woman asked.

“Maybe,” the Doctor smirked.

“We like you,” she said.

“We do,” the man replied. “I'm Morvin Van Hoff. This is my good woman, Foon.”

The Doctor and Rose each shook their hands. “I’m the Doctor, and this is my—” the Doctor paused and turned to grin at Rose before saying, “girlfriend, Rose.”

“New relationship?” Foon asked, noting the matching grins on their faces.

“Oh, it was a long time coming. Rose finally gave in and said yes,” the Doctor teased.

“Oi!” Rose exclaimed. “I’m not the one who was pretending to not be interested for years.”

Morvin and Foon laughed a little at that, but then an announcement came over the ship. “Attention please. Shore leave tickets Red Six Seven now activated. Red Six Seven.”

“Red Six Seven. That's us. Are you Red Six Seven?” Foon asked.

The Doctor looked at Rose and shrugged. “Might as well be.”

“Come on then,” Morvin said, getting up. “We’re going to Earth.”

The four of them made their way over to a little man with a sign. “Red Six Seven. Red Six Seven. This way, fast as you can.”

Astrid caught up with them, holding a tray with two drinks. “I got you those drinks,” she said.

The Doctor took the tray out of her hand and sat it down. “And we’ve got you a treat. Come on.”

“Red Six Seven departing shortly,” the man with the sign said.

“Red Six Seven, plus two,” the Doctor said, flashing him the psychic paper.

“Quickly, sir, please, and take three teleport bracelets if you would,” the man said.

“I’ll get the sack,” Astrid whispered.

“Brand new sky,” the Doctor countered.

“To repeat, I am Mister Copper, the ship's historian, and I shall be taking you to old London town in the country of UK, ruled over by good King Wenceslas. Now, human beings worship the great god Santa, a creature with fearsome claws, and his wife Mary. And every Christmas Eve, the people of UK go to war with the country of Turkey. They then eat the Turkey people for Christmas dinner like savages,” the man with the sign said.

Rose and the Doctor turned to look at each other. The Doctor raised his hand. “Excuse me. Sorry, sorry, but, er, where did you get all this from?”

“Well, I have a first class degree in Earthonomics. Now, stand by,” Mr. Copper said.

Just then, a small, spiky, red alien ran up to the group. “And me! And me! Red Six Seven.”

“Well, take a bracelet, please, sir,” Mr. Copper replied.

“But, er, hold on, hold on. What was your name?” the Doctor asked.

“Bannakaffalatta,” he replied.

“Okay, Bannakaffalatta. But it's Christmas Eve down there. Late night shopping, tons of people. He's like a talking conker. No offence, but you'll cause a riot because the streets are going to be packed with shoppers and parties and –” the Doctor started, but then the teleports activated, and they were standing in the middle of a deserted street. “—Oh…”

“Where is everyone?” Rose whispered.

“I don’t know,” the Doctor replied.

“Now, spending money. I have a credit card in Earth currency if you want to buy trinkets, or stockings, or the local delicacy, which is known as beef. But don't stray too far, it could be dangerous. Any day now they start boxing,” Mr. Copper warned.

“It should be full. It should be busy. Something's wrong,” the Doctor muttered.

“But, it’s beautiful!” Astrid exclaimed.

“Really? Do you think so? It's just a street. The pyramids are beautiful, and New Zealand,” the Doctor started.

“But it's a different planet. I'm standing on a different planet. There's concrete and shops. Alien shops. Real alien shops! Look, no stars in the sky. And it smells. It stinks! Oh, this is amazing. Thank you!” Astrid gasped.

“Alien shops?” Rose said. “Never thought I’d hear Earth called alien.”

“What do you mean?” Astrid asked.

“I’m from here,” Rose shrugged. “Born and raised a few blocks that way.”

“You’re an alien?” Astrid asked.

“Well, strictly speaking, we’re on my planet, now, so you’re the alien,” Rose grinned.

“Oh!” Astrid gasped. “I never thought of it like that!”

“Come on, Rose. Let’s have a look. See if we can find out what’s wrong.” The Doctor said, grabbing her hand and dragging her over to a stand where a man was sitting with a TV and some newspapers. “Hello, there. Sorry, obvious question, but where's everybody gone?”

“Oh ho, scared!” The man exclaimed.

“Right. Yes. Scared of what?” the Doctor asked.

“Where've you been living? London at Christmas? Not safe, is it?” the man asked.

“Why?” the Doctor asked.

“Well, it's them, up above. Look, Christmas before last we had that big bloody spaceship, everyone standing on a roof. And then last year, that Christmas Star electrocuting all over the place, draining the Thames,” the man explained. Rose and the Doctor shared a guilty look. “And this year, Lord knows what. So, everybody's scarpered. Gone to the country. All except me and Her Majesty. God bless her. We stand vigil.”

“Well, between you and me, I think her Majesty's got it right. Far as I know, this year, nothing to worry about—” the Doctor started, but before he could finish his sentence, they were all teleported back on to the ship. The Doctor turned to Mr. Copper. “I was in-mid sentence!”

“And now you’ve practically doomed us,” Rose replied. “You never should have said there was nothing to worry about.”

Before the Doctor could say something about her being superstitious, Mr. Copper announced, “Yes, I'm sorry about that. A bit of a problem. If I could have your bracelets.”
“Apologies, ladies and gentlemen, and Bannakaffalatta. We seem to have suffered a slight power fluctuation. If you'd like to return to the festivities. And on behalf of Max Capricorn Cruiseliners, free drinks will be provided,” the steward said.

“That was the best! The best!” Astrid exclaimed. “Thank you!”

“What sort of power fluctuation?” the Doctor asked no one in particular before he went screen with Max Capricorn’s face on it. He soniced it until the screen changed to show a schematic of the ship that announced that the shields were offline and a few asteroids were headed their way. He activated the coms and said, “s that the bridge? I need to talk to the Captain. You've got a meteoroid storm coming in west zero by north two.”

“Who is this?” the Captains’s voice replied.

“Never mind that, your shields are down. Check your scanners, Captain. You've got meteoroids coming in and now shielding,” the Doctor said.

“You have no authorisation. You will clear the comms at once,” the Captain ordered.

“Yeah? Just look starboard!” the Doctor exclaimed.

A steward came up to the Doctor. “Come with me, sir.”

A few more stewards came to help drag the Doctor away, and when she tried to argue, Rose too. “You've got a rock storm heading for this ship and the shields are down,” the Doctor argued as they struggled. The Doctor managed to wriggle out of his guard’s grip, and he ran to the stage and took the mic from the singer. “Everyone, listen to me! This is an emergency! Get to the lifeb—” An angel covered the Doctor’s mouth, cutting of the rest of his sentence.

A flurry of activity followed as Rose and the Doctor were drug down a maintenance corridor. Everyone from their shore leave adventure and the jerk from earlier all ended up in the corridor with Rose and the Doctor when the asteroids finally hit the side of the ship.

When the asteroids finished hitting the ship, the Doctor rushed to Rose’s side. “Are you alright?”

“I’m fine, Doctor. Check on everyone else,” she replied, rubbing her head from where it had gotten bashed into the wall in the chaos.

When he was sure everyone was fine, the Doctor turned to the group and smiled. “Bad name for a ship. Either that or this suit is really unlucky.

The steward that was with them cleared his throat. “Er, everyone. Ladies and gentlemen, Bannakaffalatta. I must apologise on behalf of Max Capricorn Cruiseliners. We seem to have had a small collision.”

“Small?” Morvin asked.

“Do you know how much I paid for my ticket?” the jerk asked.

“If I could have silence, ladies, gentlemen. Please. Quiet!” The steward yelled. When everyone had finally quieted down, he continued, “Thank you. I'm sure Max Capricorn Cruiseliners will be able to reimburse you for any inconvenience, but first I would point out that we're very much alive. She is, after all, a fine, sturdy ship. If you could all stay here while I ascertain the exact nature of the situation.”

The steward moved over to a hatch to open it. The Doctor yelled, “Don’t open it!” But he was too late. The steward opened the hatch and was immediately sucked out into the vacuum of space. The Doctor used the sonic to restore the Oxygen Shield and turned to look at the group. “Is everyone alright? Rose? Astrid? Foon? Morvin? Mr. Copper? Bannakaffalatta?” Everyone nodded, and the Doctor turned to the jerk. “You, what was your name?”

“Rickston Slade,” he replied.

“You all right?” the Doctor asked.

“No thanks to that idiot,” Slade scoffed.

“The steward just died!” Astrid exclaimed.

The Doctor immediately turned to find Rose. Normally she’d be giving Slade a lecture about priorities and respect, but instead she was just staring out of the hatch that the steward had just flown out of. “Rose, are you alright?”

She stared at the bodies floating through space. “It was all supposed to have been done. We stopped him. The Toclafane never happened. I was supposed to be done with all this death,” she whispered.

“I’m sorry, Rose. I’m so, so sorry,” the Doctor whispered, wrapping her in a hug.

“Is this our life now?” Rose asked. “Do death and destruction just follow in our wake?”

“No, of course not,” he replied.

“I just want an adventure where everybody lives,” she said, burying her face in his jacket. “I need one.”

“I’m sorry Rose. I know—” the Doctor started, but Slade interrupted him.

“What’s wrong with her?”

“Hey! She’s had a rough year. Seen way too much death lately. Give her a break,” the Doctor snapped back.

Rose pulled back and shook her head, wiping away her tears and taking a deep breath. “He’s right. Now’s not the time for sentimentality. We’re alive, and we need to focus on that. Focus on us getting out of this alive.”

“Right,” the Doctor said. “If we can get to Reception, we've got a spaceship tucked away. We can all get on board and. Oh…”

“What?” Astris asked. “What’s wrong?”

“That’s our ship over there,” Rose said, pointing to the TARDIS floating aimlessly through space.

“Where?” Astrid asked.

“There. That box. That little blue box,” the Doctor replied.

“That’s a spaceship?” she asked, unconvinced.

“Oi! Don’t knock it!” Rose and the Doctor exclaimed in unison.

“It’s a bit small,” Astrid replied.

“A bit distant. Trouble is, once it's set adrift, it's programmed to lock onto the nearest centre of gravity, and that would be the Earth,” the Doctor sighed.

**********************************************************************************************************************

The Doctor had a hurried conversation with someone on the bridge while Rose did her best to keep everyone calm. Without even noticing it, she had slipped back into the persona of Wolf. She was just trying to keep everyone alive. She had pushed all of her emotions down. They would distract her. And that meant people might get killed.

The Doctor returned and said, “To the bridge!”

“We’re all going to die!” Foon moaned.

“Are you saying someone's done this on purpose?” Mr. Copper asked.

“We’re just a cruise ship,” Astrid argued.

“Quiet!” Rose yelled. “I know you’re all scared, yeah? But screaming about it isn’t going to do much good. We need to stay calm and keep our heads. That’s how we’re gonna get out of this alive.”

“Right,” the Doctor said, thankful Rose had gotten them all quiet. “First things first. One. We are going to climb through this ship. B. No. Two. We're going to reach the bridge. Three. Or C. We're going to save the Titanic. And, coming in a very low four, or D, or that little iv in brackets they use in footnotes, why. Right then, follow me.”

“Hang on a minute. Who put you in charge and who the hell are you anyway?” Slade asked.

“I'm the Doctor. I'm a Time Lord. I'm from the planet Gallifrey in the constellation of Kasterborous. I'm nine hundred and three years old and I'm the man who's going to save your lives and all six billion people on the planet below. You got a problem with that?”

“No,” Slade replied meekly.

“In that case, allons-y!” The Doctor said, grabbing Rose’s hand and leading the group to a nearby stairwell. “Careful everyone,” the Doctor warned as they all dodged the debris that was laying around the room.

“Rather ironic, but this is very much in the spirit of Christmas. It's a festival of violence. They say that human beings only survive depending on whether they've been good or bad. It's barbaric,” Mr. Copper replied.

“No, they’re not,” Rose protested. “Christmas is about being with the people you love, peace on Earth, all of that. None of what you’ve said makes any sense.”

“And how would you know, young lady?’ Mr. Copper asked. “I’ve a first-class degree in Earthonomics.”

“And I’m from Earth,” Rose replied. “Born and raised.”

The Doctor turned back to Rose and smiled, “Who are we kidding though? All of our Christmases are like this?” Then he went back to trying to clear some rubble, only to find one of the Angels under some metal plates. “We've got a Host. Strength of ten. If we can mend it, we can use it to fix the rubble.”

“We can do robotics,” Morvin said, gesturing to himself and Foon. “Both of us.”

“We work on the milk market back on Sto. It's all robot staff,” Foon explained.

The Doctor nodded. “See if you can get it working. Let's have a look.”

“I’ll stay back with them,” Rose said. “Never leave anyone behind.”

“Good idea, but you say that like it’s a military thing,” the Doctor replied, confused.

Rose shrugged, “I wasn’t much use helping Martha with patching people up last year, but I was pretty good at helping the patrols.”

The Doctor started to ask her more questions, but he decided to hold off. They had time for him to figure out what Rose had been up to later, when their lives weren’t all at risk. He let the rest of the group further up the staircase, and Rose sat down next to the Van Hoffs.

“Thanks for staying with us,” Foon said.

“No problem,” Rose replied. “I can’t help much with the robotics, but I have a feeling something’s about to go horribly wrong, and I figure I can keep an eye out for that.”

“Something’s about to go wrong?” Morvin asked, slightly panicked.

“Nah, just a feeling,” Rose replied, neglecting to mention that her gut instincts were usually right. “But I figured it’s always best to be prepared.”

“Oh, right,” he shrugged, getting back to work.

From above them, they heard Slade say, “Thing is, how are Mr. and Mrs. Fatso going to get through that gap?”

Foon heard them and started to cry. “He’s an idiot,” Rose said. “Don’t listen to a word he says.”

“Hey, hey. Come on, sweetheart. Rose is right. Don't listen to him,” Morvin said.

“No, but it's all my fault, though. The tickets,” Foon cried.

“We won them fair and square,” Morvin replied proudly.

“I know. I never told you. I dialed the competition line five thousand times. That's five thousand credits. I might as well have paid for the tickets. I've been hiding the vone bill for months now,” Foon cried, quieter as she feared her husband’s reaction.

“Five thousand credits? You spent five thousand credits?” Morvin asked, shocked.

“Don’t hate me,” she whispered. Morvin looked at her for a moment, then started to laugh. “What’s so funny?”

“Five thousand?” Morvin asked, still laughing.

“We’ll never pay that off,” she moaned.

“I know! I’ll have to work twenty years, you mad, bloody woman!” Morvin replied, still laughing.

“You’re not cross?” Foon asked skeptically.

“Does it matter? Look at us. You drive me barmy. I don't half love you, Mrs Van Hoff. Come here,” Morvin said, pulling Foon in for a quick kiss.

Rose sighed, “You two are adorable.”

“Oh, you’re one to talk, missy,” Foon laughed.

Rose scrunched her brow and looked over at her. “What do you mean?”

“You and your Doctor,” Morvin replied. “It’s easy to see how in love the two of you are.”

Rose smiled a little at that. “Oh yeah, it’s still a bit new.”

“It is?” Foon asked. “You two just seem to know each other so well. It doesn’t seem new.”

“Well, it’s a bit complicated,” Rose explained. “Known him for over four years now, and I’ve been in love with him the whole time. He just wasn’t ready to admit his feelings until this morning. Afternoon? I’m not really sure. Time’s a bit strange for us.”

“This morning?” Foon asked. “You two haven’t even been together a whole day?”

Rose shook her head. “Afraid not. But this was certainly not how I imagined the day going after we finally cleared the air.”

“I imagine not,” Morvin chuckled. A moment later, they got the Host working. It sat up and Morvin yelled, “It’s working!”

Then the Host reached it’s arm out and said, “Kill.” It grabbed Rose by the throat and started choking her.

“Turn it off!” the Doctor yelled unable to see that it was strangling Rose because of the angle of the debris.

“I can’t, Doctor!” Foon yelled.

The Host echoed its cries of “Kill. Kill. Kill.” The Doctor pulled the sonic screwdriver out of his pocket and aimed it at the Host, still unable to see how it was strangling Rose. She was quickly losing consciousness, which only caused Foon and Morvin to panic more. As soon as she was dead, it dropped Rose and moved to Morvin.

“Double deadlock!” The Doctor cursed before dashing down the stairs to try from up close. It was then that he saw Rose laying on the ground, and he lost it. Instead of trying to use the sonic again, the Oncoming Storm came out and ripped the Host’s head from its body. As the Doctor turned to yell at Morvin and Foon for letting anything happen to Rose though, she sat up with a gasp.

“Rose!” he exclaimed, kneeling down next to her. “Are you alright?”

She coughed a few times before she nodded and said, “Yeah. Think it just knocked me unconscious for a bit. I’m fine now though.”

It took her reassuring him a few times and at least three promises that she would visit the med bay when they got back to the TARDIS, but eventually they all moved on and got enough debris moved so they could all get up the stairs. Rose hung around the back of the group though, as the Doctor tried to figure out a plan. She felt bad for lying to him, but it really wasn’t the time to tell him about her immortality. He had a lot to deal with already, and her adding to it wouldn’t make things any better.

They all made their wat to a kitchen, where they got to sit down and rest. A couple of people tried to sit near Rose, but she shooed them all away. As much as she wanted to make friends, she was too scared. She had a horrible feeling that there were still a few things that were bound to go wrong, and she wasn’t sure how much more she could emotionally take. Rose had no idea how long it had been since she had last slept. At least 48 hours, and that was not helping her emotional state. So she sat off to the side as everyone else ate and took a breath.

Astrid walked over to the Doctor with a small plate of food. “Saved you some. You might be a Time King from Gaddabee but you need to eat.”
“Yeah, thanks,” he muttered taking the plate without really looking at it. He was staring at the scans he had taken from Rose just after she had been strangled. She was perfectly fine. And she shouldn’t have been. Even if she lived, there should have been some bruising and she should be disoriented. But all that seemed different was that she was quiet and wouldn’t meet his eyes.

“So, you look good for nine hundred and three,” Astrid smiled.

The Doctor snorted, “You should see me in the mornings.”

“Okay,” Astrid replied, far too quickly.

Rose’s head shot up and all of her possessive instincts kicked in, overriding her desire to be alone. She immediately stood up and moved to sit next to the Doctor, but finding nothing to sit on, she settled for sitting on his lap and wrapping her arms around his neck. His arms immediately snaked around her waist and he asked, “Are you alright?”

“I’m fine,” she said. “Just a lot going on. I thought I was in for a little bit of quiet after this last year.”

“I’m sorry, Rose. I’m so so sorry. Once all this is sorted, we won’t leave the TARDIS for a year if you like,” he said.

“Oh, I don’t know about that. I was thinking a beach somewhere. Or maybe Barcelona? You still haven’t taken me there,” Rose said.

“The city or the planet?” he asked jokingly.

She rolled her eyes and replied, “The one with the dogs with no noses.”

The both smiled at each other for a moment, able to forget all the chaos happening around them. Then Mr. Copper interrupted the moment, “Doctor, it must be well past midnight, Earth time. Christmas Day.”

“So it is. Merry Christmas,” the Doctor replied.

“This Christmas thing, what's it all about?” Astrid asked.

“Long story. I should know, I was there. I got the last room,” the Doctor shrugged.

“You did not!” Rose exclaimed.

“Did too!” the Doctor argued. “The TARDIS was being difficult, and in my defense, I didn’t know what day it was. They weren’t exactly calling it Christmas back then. I just thought it was a party or something.”

“You’re impossible,” Rose chuckled.

“But if the planet's waking up, can't we signal them?” Mr. Copper interrupted. “They could send up a rocket or something.”

“They don’t have spaceships,” the Doctor replied.

“No, I read about it. They have shuffles. Space shuffles,” Mr. Copper protested.

“Mister Copper, this degree in Earthonomics, where's it from?” the Doctor asked.

“Honestly?” he asked.

“Just between us,” the Doctor promised.

“Mrs Golightly's Happy Travelling University and Dry Cleaners,” Mr. Copper replied, hanging his head in shame.

“You, you lied to the company to get the job?” Astrid gasped.

“I wasted my life on Sto. I was a travelling salesman, always on the road, and I reached retirement with nothing to show for it. Not even a home. And Earth sounded so exotic,” Mr. Copper shrugged.

“Hmm. I suppose it is, yeah,” the Doctor replied.

“How come you know it so well, Doctor?” Astrid asked.

“I was sort of, a few years ago, I was sort of made, well, sort of homeless, and, er, there was the Earth,” the Doctor replied. Then, turning to smile at Rose, he added, “It also helps that some of my favorite people are from Earth.”

“The thing is, if we survive this, there'll be police and all sorts of investigations. Now the minimum penalty for space lane fraud is ten years in jail. I'm an old man. I won't survive ten years,” Mr. Copper sighed.

Before anyone could say anything about that, a loud crash echoed in the distance. “A Host! Move! Come on!”

They all ran to a room with a narrow bridge in the center, stretching across a chasm with the engines at the bottom.

“Is that the only way across?” Slade asked.

The Doctor shrugged, “On the other hand, it is a way across.”

“The engines are open!” Astrid exclaimed, looking down at them.

“Nuclear storm drive. As soon as it stops, the Titanic falls,” the Doctor said, mostly to himself.

“But that thing, it'll never take our weight,” Morvin said, pointing to himself and Foon.

“You’re going last, mate,” Slade said, starting to make his way toward the bridge.

“It's nitrofin metal. It's stronger than it looks,” the Doctor argued.

“All the same, Rickston’s right. Me and Foon should—” Morvin started, but Rose cut him off by grabbing his arm.

“Get back!” She shouted. “And everyone hurry across.”

No one knew why they instinctively listened to her, but they did. If anyone had thought to look at her, they might have noticed the fact that her eyes were glowing golden, and that the bridge was a little bit too as they all made their way across it. The Host started to break through the door they had entered just as Foon reached the other side. They quickly made their way out of the room and into a corridor, the Doctor deadlock sealing the room behind them. Rose leaned against the door, suddenly exhausted.

“Are you alright?” the Doctor asked Rose quietly.

She shook her head. “I’m just tired. This is a lot, and I’m not sure when the last time I slept was.”

“Okay. But if anything’s wrong, you promise you’ll tell me?” the Doctor asked. Rose just nodded in reply. The Doctor turned to the rest of the group. “Right. Get yourself up to Reception One. Once you're there, Mister Copper, you've got staff access to the computer. Try to find a way of transmitting an SOS. Rose, you take the sonic. You know how to use it to open the doors.”

“You sound like you’re not coming with us,” Rose said.

“There's something down on deck thirty-one. I'm going to find out what it is,” the Doctor replied.

“I’m not letting you go alone,” Rose argued.

“I’ll be fine,” the Doctor said, quickly kissing Rose.

“Yeah, that’s not going to work. You can’t just kiss me and expect me to do as I’m told. We’re partners, remember?” Rose replied. She quickly adjusted some settings on the sonic to preset it to the doors and turned to Astrid. “Take this. It’s preset. All you need to do it press that button and it should open any doors. Just don’t lose it.”

“What if you all meet a Host?” Astrid asked.

“Well, then we’ll just have some fun,” Rose shrugged.

“Sounds like you do this kind of thing all the time,” Astrid replied.

“Not by choice,” the Doctor replied. “Trouble’s just the bits in between. But it does tend to happen.

**********************************************************************************************************************

The two groups split up, and Rose and the Doctor ended up in a kitchen, surrounded by four Host. As they started to close in, the Doctor said, “Wait, wait, wait, wait, wait. Security protocol one. Do you hear me? One. One! Okay, that gives me three questions. Three questions to save my life, am I right?”

“Information: Correct,” the Host replied.

“No, that wasn't one of them. I didn't mean it. That's not fair. Can—” the Doctor was cut off by Rose slapping a hand across his mouth.

“Careful with the questions, yeah?” She said.

“Information: Correct,” the Host said again.

“I wasn’t talking to you!” Rose huffed.

“No! No, no, no, no. That wasn't a question either. Blimey. One question left. One question. So, you've been given orders to kill the survivors but survivors must therefore be passengers or staff, but not us. We’re not passengers. We’re not staff. Go on, scan us. You must have bio-records. No such people on board. We don't exist, therefore you can't kill us. Therefore, we’re stowaways, and stowaways should be arrested and taken to the nearest figure of authority. And I reckon the nearest figure of authority is on deck thirty-one. Final question. Am I right?” the Doctor said, recovering brilliantly.

“Information: Correct,” the Host said.

“Brilliant. Take me to your leader. I've always wanted to say that,” the Doctor said, grinning at Rose as they both held up their hands in mock surrender.

“Stupid bloody alien,” Rose muttered, unable to resist smiling just a little at his joke though.

**********************************************************************************************************************

The Doctor kept talking, all the way down to deck thirty-one. When they arrived, they could see debris from the explosions and the engines. “Wow. Now that is what you call a fixer upper. That’s a show, Rose. Have you seen it? Probably not, since it’s American, but a good show nonetheless. But anyway, come on then, Host with the most. This ultimate authority of yours. Who is it?” The Doctor paused as he watched the host open a pair of doors. A large machine on wheels rolled out into the room. There was a head smiling at the Doctor and Rose from on top of it. “Oh, that's clever. That's an omnistate impact chamber. Indestructible. You can survive anything in there. Sit through a supernova. Or a shipwreck. Only one person can have the power and the money to hide themselves on board like this and I should know, because…”

“My name is Max,” the head said, grinning and flashing his gold tooth.

“It really does that. Look, Rose, it really does that!” The Doctor grinned.

“Who the hell is this?” Max Capricorn asked.

“I'm the Doctor, and this is my girlfriend, Rose,” the Doctor answered.

In unison, Rose and the Doctor smiled at the head and said, “Hello.”

“Information: Stowaways,” the host supplied.

“Well,” the Doctor shrugged.

“Kill them,” Max said dismissively.

“Oh, no, no, no. Wait, but you can't. Not now. Come on, Max. You've given me so much good material like, how to get ahead in business. See? Head? Head in business? No?” the Doctor asked.

“Oh, ho, ho, the office joker. I like a funny man. No one's been funny with me for years,” Max replied.

“I can’t think why,” the Doctor retorted.

“A hundred and seventy six years of running the company have taken their toll,” Max sighed.

“Eh, I’ve seen worse,” Rose shrugged before turning to the Doctor. “How old was Cassandra?”

The Doctor stopped to think for a second. “I don’t know. But she’s right. At least you don’t look like a trampoline. And that’s a nice set of wheels you’ve got there.”

“No, a life support system, in a society that despises cyborgs. I've had to hide away for years, running the company by hologram. Host: situation report,” Max said, dismissing Rose and the Doctor.

Rose looked around and noticed a forklift off to the back. Thankful that the Doctor would keep everyone sufficiently distracted, she snuck over and climbed in as Max Capricorn said, “Let me see. We should have crashed by now. What's gone wrong? The engines are still running! They should have stopped!”

“When they do, the Earth gets roasted. I don't understand. What's the Earth got to do with it?” The Doctor asked.

“This interview is terminated,” Max said.

“No. No, no, no, no, no. Hold on, hold on, hold on. Wait, wait, wait, wait, wait. I can work it out. It's like a task. I'm your apprentice. Just watch me. So, business is failing and you wreck the ship so that makes things even worse. Oh, yes! No. Yes. The business isn't failing, it's failed. Past tense,” the Doctor noticed.

“My own board voted me out. Stabbed me in the back,” Max spat.

“If you had a back. So, you scupper the ship, wipe out any survivors just in case anyone's rumbled you and the board find their shares halved in value. Oh, but that's not enough. No. Because if a Max Capricorn ship hits the Earth, it destroys an entire planet. Outrage back home. Scandal! The business is wiped out,” the Doctor said.

“And the whole board thrown in jail for mass murder,” Max added gleefully.

“While you sit there, safe inside the impact chamber,” the Doctor sneered.

“I have men waiting to retrieve me from the ruins and enough off-world accounts to retire me to the beaches of Penhaxico Two, where the ladies, so I'm told, are very fond of metal,” Max grinned.

“So that's the plan. A retirement plan. Two thousand people on this ship, six billion underneath us, all of them slaughtered, and why? Because Max Capricorn is a loser,” the Doctor taunted.

“I never lose!” Max retorted.

“You can’t even sink the Titanic,” the Doctor laughed.

“Oh, but I can, Doctor. I can cancel the engines from here,” he said with a malicious smile.

“You can’t do this!” the Doctor yelled.

“Host, hold him,” Max ordered, completely forgetting about Rose. “Not so clever now, Doctor. A shame we couldn't work together. You're rather good. All that banter yet not a word wasted. Time for me to retire. The Titanic is falling. The sky will burn. Let the Christmas inferno commence. Oh. Oh, Host. Kill him.”

Realizing now was the time for her to do something, Rose started the forklift and began to move toward Max. When she was as close as she could get without him noticing, she yelled, “Mr. Capricorn? I’d really rather you not kill him. He’s spent ages being an idiot, and he’s just now gotten over it, so I’d rather have some time to enjoy that.”

“Rose, don’t!” the Doctor yelled.

Rose rolled her eyes. She lifted Max’s machine with the forklift and then leaned down to do something before jumping off the forklift. It continued to roll forward until it and Max fell over the railing into the engines.

“Rose! Are you alright?” The Doctor asked, running towards her the moment the Host released him. He held her face tightly in his hands and looked her over quickly.

“I’m fine, I promise. I just locked the pedal into place so that I didn’t need to keep holding it down. I’m fine, Doctor,” she replied. He leaned forward to kiss her quickly before taking her hand and running toward the Host.

“Get us to the bridge, as quickly as you can,” the Doctor ordered them.

Clearly recognizing him as the new highest-ranking authority, the Host picked them up and did as they were told, punching through the ceiling as they made their way to the deck.

When they arrived, the Doctor smiled at the young officer he had been talking to since the explosion. “Ah, Midshipman Frame. At last.”

The man looked anxiously at the Host that had carried Rose and the Doctor into the room, “Er, but, but the Host…”

“Controller dead, they divert to the next highest authority, and that's me,” the Doctor replied.

“There's nothing we can do. There's no power. The ship's going to fall,” Midshipman Frame said, as the computer eerily echoed this sentiment.

“What’s your first name?” the Doctor asked.

“Alonso,” he replied.

“You’re kidding me,” the Doctor grinned. “Rose, did you hear that?”

“What?” Alonso asked.

“Doctor, the ship? About to fall to Earth and kill everyone?” Rose reminded him gently.

“Right, of course. But Rose, you know that’s something I’ve always wanted to say,” he whined.

“Oh, go on then. Then let’s save the Earth, yeah?” Rose said with a small smile.

“Right! Allons-y, Alonso!” the Doctor declared before he began inspecting the bridge. After noticing that the impact area was West London, the Doctor sighed, picked up the phone, and dialed a number. “Oh. Hello, yes. Could you get me Buckingham Palace? Listen to me. Security code seven seven one. Now get out of there!”

As they began falling, the Doctor rebooted the engines and managed to steer the ship, just barely missing Buckingham Palace. He quickly got the ship back into the sky and away from Earth.

“Whoo hoo!” Alonso yelled.

As they all laughed in relief, the Doctor spun Rose around and kissed her soundly. He decided he was definitely going to enjoy ending all of their adventures like that. When he finally pulled back to let Rose breathe, seeing as she didn’t have a respiratory bypass like him, he turned to Alonso and said, “Used the heat of re-entry to fire up the secondary storm drive. Unsinkable, that's me.”

“We made it,” Alonso replied, still clearly unable to believe it.

The Doctor slid an arm around Rose’s waist. “Yes, yes we did.”

**********************************************************************************************************************

Once they were all safely in reception, the Doctor took a look around at the group. It was a miracle they had all managed to make it out alive, but there they all were. Morvin and Foon were smiling and enjoying raiding the food cart, Slade was on the phone, ranting about how he was going to be rich, and Bannakaffalatta was telling Alonso all about the benefits of being a cyborg, especially since it had been determined that some of his injuries would take more than just a doctor to fix up. Alonso looked scared, but Bannakaffalatta was doing his best to put the man at ease.

Astrid and Mr. Copper were hovering near Rose and the Doctor. “What are you going to do next?” Astrid asked.

“Oh, travel a bit, try to lay low. You said Barcelona, didn’t you, Rose?” the Doctor smiled.

“Oh, that sounds nice. It’s a shame I won’t live to see anything other than a jail cell,” Mr. Copper moaned.

Rose’s eyes lit up, and she stood on her toes to whisper her plan in the Doctor’s ear. “Oh! But that-that’s brilliant!” he smiled. The Doctor took four of the transport bracelets and handed one to Mr. Copper, Astrid, and Rose, before putting one on his own wrist. Using the sonic, he managed to power them up enough to send them back to Earth, landing them right next to the TARDIS.

“But, what’s this?” Astrid asked.

“An alien sky,” Rose smiled. “For you two at least.”

“Rose thought you two deserved something better than what you’d get up there. And how much did you say was on that credit card of yours?” the Doctor said.

“It's just petty cash. Spending money. It's all done by computer. I didn't really know the currency, so I thought a million might cover it,” Mr. Copper shrugged.

“A million? Pounds?” Rose asked incredulously.

“That enough for trinkets?” Mr. Copper asked.

“Mr. Copper, a million pounds is worth fifty million credits,” the Doctor replied.

“How much?” Astrid asked.

“Fifty million and fifty six,” the Doctor replied.

“I’ve got money,” he said in a daze.

“No, you two have got money. I trust you two to look after each other,” the Doctor warned.

“Oh, my word. Oh, my Vot! Oh, my goodness me. Yee ha!” Mr. Copper laughed.

“You’re going to let us stay?” Astrid asked.

“Of course, you’ll blend in well enough, and it’s better than what you had back on Sto, isn’t it?” the Doctor asked.

“Oh yes! Thank you!” Astrid exclaimed.

“You’ll need a story of course,” Rose said. “I was thinking a rich old man and his daughter that just moved to London. We’ll need someone to sort it out. I guess I should call Jack.”

“No, don’t call Jack. That means you can’t see him till Christmas,” the Doctor said. “Timelines and all. Hand me your mobile. I have an idea.” The Doctor took her phone and made a quick call, explaining the situation. He hung up and said, “Okay, some friends from UNIT are on their way. Just wait here and they’ll take care of everything. No interfering. I don't want any trouble. Just, just have a nice life.”

“Oh, we will!” Astrid exclaimed. “Thank you, Doctor!”

“Oh, thank Rose. This was her plan,” the Doctor smiled.

“Oh, thank you Rose!” Astrid exclaimed, reaching forward and hugging her.

“You’re welcome,” Rose smiled.

Meanwhile, Mr. Copper was skipping in circles, exclaiming, “But I can have a house. A proper house, with a garden, and a door, and. Oh, Doctor, I will made you proud. And I can have a kitchen with chairs, and windows, and plates, and—”

“Merry Christmas to you both,” the Doctor said, clearly ready to get away from it all.

“Happy Christmas,” Rose echoed.

“Merry Christmas,” Astrid smiled back with a wave while Rose and the Doctor stepped into the TARDIS.

Chapter Text

As soon as the TARDIS door shut, Rose sighed. She knew she shouldn’t put the conversation off any longer, but she couldn’t help it. “Doctor, I’m going to go get changed, then I’ll meet you in the med bay, alright?”

“Right, yes, the med bay. I had forgotten about that. I’m surprised you reminded me, if we’re being honest,” the Doctor replied.

Rose shrugged, “It’s a bad habit Martha got me in. Always made me check in for a physical after a day with the patrols.”

“Good for Martha,” the Doctor nodded, spinning around the console to throw them into the vortex.

Rose made her way to her room. She wasn’t lying when she said she was going to change. She did throw on a pair of sweatpants and t-shirt, but mostly, she knew she had a phone call to make. “Hello,” she said when she heard the other person answer the phone.

“Rosie, what’s wrong? What’s he gone and done now? You’ve only been gone 15 minutes!” Jack yelled through the phone.

“15 minutes? But we left hours—oh, the TARDIS said she rerouted my call,” Rose said.

“Still, he’s managed to screw things up in only a few hours?” Jack asked. “I’ve barely even made it back to the hub. But if I need to beat him up, just say the word.”

“No, the Doctor hasn’t done anything wrong. I’m just trying to stay true to my promise to Martha,” Rose said.

“Your promise to Martha? You mean you’ve died already?” Jack asked.

“Yeah, the Titanic accidentally crashed into the TARDIS, and I got strangled by a robotic angel. It’s a long story, but the moral is that you really need to stay out of London on Christmas,” Rose sighed.

“So the Doctor knows? That you can’t die?” Jack asked.

Rose shook her head, even though she knew Jack couldn’t see her. “No. I’m gonna tell him though. As soon as I hang up I’m headed to the med bay for a check up. I just don’t know how to tell him. He’s going to think it’s his fault, but it’s not. It’s not even close to his fault. I did this to myself. And I’m not upset about it. Especially not now. I get to spend forever with him. It’s the greatest scenario I could imagine.”

“Focus on that then,” Jack suggested. “Remind him that it’s a good thing. He spends so much time being selfless, remind him that it’s okay to be selfish every once in a while.”

“You think that’ll work?” Rose asked.

Rose could practically hear Jack shrug and start to grin suggestively. “If not, I’m sure you can think of other ways to distract him.”

“Jack! This is serious!” Rose exclaimed, unable to hold back a chuckle.

“You wanted my advice,” Jack replied. “I’m giving it to you. But good luck. It’ll all work out in the end because that man is crazy about you.”

“Thanks Jack,” Rose said. “I hope you’re right.”

“I know I’m right. And anytime, Rose. Love you,” he said.

“Love you too,” Rose said, hanging up the phone and moving to her door. She could do this. She could tell the Doctor about her immortality. It would be fine. The TARDIS sent Rose some reassurance, and that was enough to propel her out into the hall and then into the med bay.

“Ah! Rose!” the Doctor smiled. “I was just starting to think you had changed your mind and were trying to hide.”

“No,” she said, shrugging but not offering any other explanation for why it took her so long.

“Now, I’d like to do some scans on you. I tried scanning you with the sonic back on the Titanic, but all the readings came back that you were completely uninjured, which doesn’t make any sense. The Host tried to strangle you, and clearly thought you were dead. There should be some sort of lingering—” the Doctor rambled, but Rose cut him off.

“Doctor, there’s something I need to tell you,” Rose said, deciding just to get it out there.

“What is it?” He asked, all of his attention suddenly focused on her.

“Remember how Martha and I were teasing the Master about how we managed to trick the Toclafane into thinking I was dead?” Rose asked.

“Yes,” he replied, “but I don’t know what that has to do with this.”

“We lied,” Rose said. “We didn’t trick the Toclafane.”

“Of course you did,” the Doctor shook his head. “They were registering you as dead, which you clearly aren’t.”

“But I was, though,” Rose replied. “They shot me, and I was dead. For a couple of hours. Martha was in the middle of trying to bury me when I gasped and sat up. I think I almost gave her a heart attack.”

“But, but—” the Doctor stuttered, unable to find words to respond with.

“And that wasn’t the only time,” she continued, finding herself unable to stop now that she had gotten started. “The reason so many people thought Bad Wolf was invincible was because I was unable to stay dead. They just thought I was tough, or managed to avoid the worst of the injuries, or something like that.”

“How many times?” the Doctor asked quietly.

“114,” Rose replied. “Or, I guess 115, with the Host today.”

“So you died? Right there in front of me?” the Doctor asked, still eerily quiet.

“Yes, but Doctor, I’m fine,” Rose insisted.

“But this is all my fault. I don’t understand how—” The Doctor mumbled before Rose took his hand and cut him off.

“No. This is not your fault. This is all me. I did this. As Bad Wolf. I saw all of time and space and decided that I didn’t want you to have to live without me,” Rose explained.

“But, but—you can’t remember that! I locked the memories away!” the Doctor exclaimed.

Rose shrugged. “The TARDIS unlocked them when she decided I needed them. It was just after the run in with Shakespeare.”

“You’ve known all this time, and you didn’t say anything? Rose those memories could kill you!” the Doctor exclaimed.

“No, they won’t. The TARDIS wouldn’t have given them back to me if they could hurt me. And I didn’t tell you because I knew you’d try to take all of the Bad Wolf out of me, and I couldn’t let that happen,” Rose explained.

“Why not?” the Doctor asked.

“Because I killed you last time. I won’t do it again. And now I know they’re not hurting me. Bad Wolf keeps me alive. It’s a part of me.”

“I’ll need to run some tests,” the Doctor mumbled.

Rose was about to argue when the TARDIS gave her an idea. “Check on my telomeres,” she suggested.

“What?” the Doctor asked.

“The TARDIS says to check on my telomeres,” Rose repeated.

“But the TARDIS can’t have told you that. That’s not how she communicates,” the Doctor argued, briefly distracted from the Bad Wolf dilemma.

“Yes it is,” Rose said, but then she paused for a second while the TARDIS told her something, and then she began speaking aloud to her. “What do you mean you can’t talk to him like that? Just me? Why? A part of my heart stayed in you, and a part of your heart stayed in me? That’s why all of this is possible?”

“What?” The Doctor asked incredulously as he watched the conversation. He would have tried to say that Rose was making it all up in order to convince him she was fine, but the way the TARDIS was flashing her lights gently led him to believe the conversation was genuine.

“Okay, so the TARDIS says she can’t talk to you the way she talks to me because we are sort of the same being in two separate bodies. That’s not quite it, but that’s the best she can explain it. And she says that I’m fine, that you need to stop worrying, and that you need to check on my telomeres because there’s a surprise for you,” Rose explained quickly.

“This, this is madness,” the Doctor muttered, but he did as he was told, and when he read her results, he gasped. “You’re not aging. You haven’t aged since you were 19.”

“What? How can you tell?” Rose asked.

“Telomeres, they’re sort of the body’s way of showing your age. Telomeres shorten as you grow older because of cell division and what not. But yours are the same length they were when you were nineteen.”

“So I am immortal?” Rose asked. “My forever is going to match yours?” She had sort of known that for a while, but actually seeing the evidence made her giddy. She was really going to get to spend forever with the Doctor.

But when she looked at him, he didn’t look nearly so happy about it. “I’m so sorry, Rose.”

“What for?” she asked, confused. This was some of the best news she had ever gotten, and here he was, sorry about it!

“I didn’t mean for this to happen. A long life isn’t necessarily a better one,” he said looking down at the ground.

She took his hand and smiled at him. “Hey, it’s better with two, yeah?”

The Doctor looked up at her and shook his head. “Rose, you don’t understand. You’re going to watch everyone you know and love grow old and die. Do you know what that feels like?”

“No, I don’t,” Rose said, honestly. “But I’m not going to watch everyone I know grow old and die. I’ll have you, and I’ll have Jack. And we can space out visits with everyone else so that I get to spend as much of my life with them as I can.”

“But Rose—”

“No, Doctor. I won’t let you ruin this for me. I wanted this. I did it to myself, and I don’t regret it. My forever is going to match yours and I’m thrilled about that. Doesn’t that make you happy?”

“Rose, I don’t want you to regret me because I’m the reason you’re going to live forever,” he protested.

“Doctor,” she sighed. “Just tell me this. Do you want me to stay with you, forever? Did you mean what you said to me back in Cardiff about loving me till I die?”

“Yes,” he replied.

“Then that’s all that matters. I love you, and time isn’t going to change that,” Rose said seriously, placing a hand on either side of his face before pulling him in for a chaste kiss.

He leaned his forehead against hers. “I love you too.”

“Good,” she said, a small yawn escaping her before she was able to fight it.

He kissed her forehead. “There’s still a lot we need to work out, but right now, you need to sleep. It’s bedtime for the human.”

“Not quite human anymore,” she said with another yawn.

“Oh, Rose Tyler, you will always be my pink and yellow human,” the Doctor smiled at her as he walked her to her door.

“Goodnight,” she smiled, giving him a quick kiss.

“Goodnight love,” he replied.

Rose laid down, and tried to get some sleep, but despite her exhaustion, she found herself unable to fall asleep. For the past year, every time she had slept, she had been surrounded by people. Even the hum of the TARDIS didn’t replace the sound of other people, breathing, around her. It was what reminded her that she wasn’t alone after the bad days, the ones where she watched so many people die. The sound of breathing reminded her that there were other people alive. Even if it had just been her and Martha sleeping on the road between camps, it had always soothed her to know that Martha was still alive by the sound of her breathing.

Rose got up and asked the TARDIS where the Doctor was. He was apparently in the med bay, pouring over some of her medical charts. She quickly made her way there and stood there for a minute, watching him. He had his brainy specs on, and he was running a hand through his hair absently as he read the circular language on the screen.

“Doctor?” Rose asked.

He jumped up with a start, “Rose, what is it? What’s wrong?”

She shook her head. “Nothing’s wrong, I just can’t sleep,” she replied.

“What do you need? Is there anything I can get you?” He asked, clearly on edge after her announcement. She had a feeling he might need a reminder that she was alive as much as she did.

“No, I was just wondering… Would you stay with me? Until I fall asleep? I’m so used to being surrounded by people that it makes me a bit on edge, not hearing anyone else breathing around me. It was how I reminded myself that other people were still alive, even after I watched so many people get killed.”

He stood up. “Of course,” he smiled, and they walked back to her room, hand in hand.

She crawled back into bed, and he took off his shoes, jacket, and tie. Rose had rarely seen him so undressed in all the years she had known him, but he barely seemed to notice as he rolled up his sleeves and climbed in next to her. He wrapped an arm around her and kissed her forehead. “Goodnight, Rose.”

She tried to respond, but she was already asleep before she could even get the words out.

Chapter Text

The first thing Rose noticed as she regained consciousness was the stillness of it all. Everything was calm and peaceful. It had been over a year since she had woken up like that.

“Good morning,” the Doctor said, causing her to wake up very suddenly.

“Doctor!” Rose gasped. “You stayed!”

“Of course I did,” he replied. “You asked me to, and I’m done running.”

“I only asked you to stay until I fell asleep. You didn’t have to stay all night. I know I waste too much time sleeping, and that must have been boring for you,” she said.

He kissed her on the forehead. “I spent almost a year thinking you were dead. Spending eight hours watching you sleep, being constantly reminded that you were alive? Not boring at all. I think it’ll take a long time before I find that boring.”

Rose propped herself up on her arm to look at him, “Well, it’s a good thing we’ve got time. I can hardly imagine walking into the kitchen in the morning and not finding something in pieces on the table.”

He chuckled and slid out of bed. “Get dressed and I’ll make you some tea. Then we’ll figure out what we want to do today.”

Rose’s eyes lit up, “Oh! It’s been ages since I’ve had tea!”

He laughed and left the room, hoping the TARDIS had already put the kettle on. Judging by the look on Rose’s face, it wouldn’t take her long to get ready if the promise of tea was waiting for her. When he got into the kitchen, he was right. The TARDIS had put the kettle on. “You really love her too, don’t you Old Girl?” The Doctor asked.

The TARDIS flashed her lights in agreement, and the Doctor continued, “So why have you been keeping secrets, then? You know I would have done something much sooner if I had known that I wasn’t going to lose her.”

“She said that we both needed to grow up a little. Even if she didn’t mind constantly reminding you that you were being an idiot,” Rose said from behind him, causing him to jump.

“How long have you been able to do that?” The Doctor asked as the kettle boiled and he set about making them each a cup.

Rose shrugged. “It’s been so gradual, I don’t really know when it started. For a while, I thought it was just what happened when you traveled on the TARDIS for a while. You just got more used to her, and therefore better at talking to her. Sarah Jane told me that wasn’t the case while you were on the moon with Martha. I was going to talk to you about it when you got back, but then Martha was there, and things sort of went downhill from there.”

“I’m sorry,” he said.

Rose nodded. “I know. And it all worked out in the end. But the TARDIS is right. I needed to be so upset that I was ready to leave before I’d really start calling you out on things. And I think you needed to realize that you wanted to be with me no matter what before this relationship would really work. We did both need to do a lot of growing up.”

“But if you knew that you were immortal before we dropped Martha and Jack off, why didn’t you say anything?” The Doctor asked.

“Because I needed to know that you loved me enough to lose me. I didn’t want to be with you because you felt guilty about dooming me to a long life. They both told me I should tell you, but I just couldn’t. I had to know that you really meant it,” Rose said calmly as the Doctor handed her a cup of tea.

The Doctor sighed, “I really mucked things up for a while, didn’t I?”

“Yes,” she said. Then, with a grin, she added, “And now it’s time for you to start making things up to me.”

“Oh, yes, Barcelona. Finish your tea and we can go,” he said.

“Later,” she said. “I want a day or two to just float around and relax. No running, no trouble. Just calm.”

“Okay, so what do you want to do?” he asked.

“Could you start teaching me Gallifreyan? I know it’ll take a long time, but the TARDIS promises she’ll help, and I would really like to learn it,” Rose said.

“Of course I can, Rose. I would love to.”

**********************************************************************************************************************

Four days later, Rose and the Doctor were sprawled out in the floor of the library, papers and books everywhere, as the Doctor tried to explain for the fourth time about the different Gallifreyan tenses. “This is bloody insane,” she muttered. “You’re telling me there’s an entire verb tense for talking about aborted timelines? When are you ever going to use that?”

“Yes! There is!” The Doctor exclaimed. “Because time travel is so innate to our culture, it’s important to be able to delineate between what did happen and what might have happened and what no longer happened.”

“I’m never going to get this,” she mumbled.

“Course you are,” the Doctor said. “We’ve got plenty of time to practice.”

Rose flopped dramatically on her back. “Nope. I’m never going to understand this. It’s hopeless.”

“Don’t think like that. You just need a break is all,” the Doctor reassured her. “What about chips? Do you want to go for chips?”

Rose looked up at him, seriously considering his offer before she gasped, “Sarah Jane!”

“What about Sarah Jane?” The Doctor asked. “Is the TARDIS telling you that she’s in trouble?”

“No! It’s just I’ve got to tell her,” Rose exclaimed scrambling up. “We have to go visit now!”

“Time machine, Rose,” the Doctor reminded her. “But what is it that you need to tell her?”

“That I’m not coming to live with her,” Rose exclaimed, dashing to the console room.

“I thought it was Jack you were going to go live with,” the Doctor said, following her at a more reasonable pace.

“It was,” Rose replied. “After the year that never was. But before we even ran into Jack, I was gonna go stay with Sarah Jane. And her son! I still need to meet her son!”

“Wait? Her son? Since when has Sarah had a son?” The Doctor asked, pausing from where he was putting in the coordinates.

“It’s a long story. She had just told me about him before Utopia happened. And then when I ran into her during the year, she told me that he was part of the first ten percent. I need to make sure that he’s okay,” Rose replied.

“Alright, I’ll set the coordinates for just after we dropped everyone off. Is that alright?” the Doctor asked.

“Yeah,” Rose replied, dashing out of the TARDIS as soon as she felt it land.

Sarah Jane was standing right outside, having run out when she heard the TARDIS materializing. When Rose quickly flung herself into her arms, Sarah Jane immediately hugged her tight and said, “It’s alright. Everything is going to be just fine. I’m so sorry.”
Rose pulled back for a moment, confused, before realization dawned on her face. “Oh! No! I’m not leaving him anymore.”

“You’re not?” Sarah Jane asked. “Then what are you doing here? Luke and I had just been watching the news after your phone call about the Master, and we were packing up the car to go to UNIT headquarters, but then they called to say that everything was sorted. What’s going on, Rose?”

“It’s a long story,” Rose sighed. “But can I meet Luke first? I’ve been dying to for ages now.”

“Ages? I just told you about him yesterday!” Sarah Jane laughed.

“Again, part of the long story,” Rose smiled. Then she turned around to the Doctor. “Come on, you. No running away this time. Can’t have you picking up more strays.”

The Doctor shook his head and smiled. “Speaking of strays, she should be at her mother’s right now, and I think that’s only about a ten-minute drive from here. If you wanted to see her again, that is.”

“Oh, yes! Sarah Jane, you need to meet Martha! You haven’t actually met her in this timeline,” Rose replied, pulling out her mobile.

“Martha? I thought you didn’t like Martha. And what are you going on about timelines for?” Sarah Jane asked.

“Part of the long story,” Rose shrugged. “It’s all a bit hard to explain.”

“Easier with a verb tense solely dedicated to aborted timelines,” the Doctor teased.

“Oh, hush,” she said to him. Then she turned back to Sarah Jane. “Do you mind if Martha comes over?”

“Of course not. As long as the two of you aren’t going to start a cat fight,” she laughed.

“No,” Rose smiled. “Martha and I are friends now. No fighting, I promise.”

“Go on then,” Sarah Jane said, motioning to Rose’s phone. “I’ll put the kettle on.”

Rose quickly dialed the number. “Rose? What is it? It’s only been a couple of hours.”

“For you,” Rose replied. “It’s been at least five days for me. But I’m back on Earth, visiting Sarah Jane, and I thought you might want to meet her properly. Especially since she doesn’t remember the other time you met, seeing as it didn’t actually happen.”

“I’d love to. My family is driving me barmy. But my flat still got blown up, so I’m stuck with them until I find a new one, so a break would be nice,” Martha replied.

“I thought you said it had only been a couple of hours,” Rose teased.

“A couple of hours is more than enough,” Martha laughed. “Now what’s the address?”

“13 Bannerman Road,” Rose replied.

“Perfect. See you in a bit,” Martha said, hanging up.

Rose followed Sarah Jane and the Doctor inside to the living room. As she came in, she heard Sarah Jane yelling up the stairs, “Luke! Come down. We have guests.”

This was followed by the sound of footsteps and the appearance of a gangly looking young boy with messy brown hair. “Hello,” he said as soon as he reached the living room.

“Luke, this is Rose and the Doctor. Rose, Doctor, this is my son, Luke,” Sarah Jane introduced.

“Hello, Luke. It’s lovely to meet you,” Rose smiled.

“So are you coming to live here?” Luke asked.

Rose chuckled. “No. I was, but some things have changed, so I’m not leaving the TARDIS. But I will try to visit as often as I can.”

“Lots of things must have changed if you did decide to stay,” Sarah Jane smiled. “You seemed pretty determined to leave the last time I spoke to you.”

“I’ve been through a lot since then,” Rose shrugged. “And he has too. Finally got over his fear of commitment.”

“Oh really?” Sarah Jane asked. “Now what could have brought that on?”

“Thinking I was dead,” Rose replied, sitting down on the couch.

“Thinking you were dead?” Sarah Jane asked. “What happened to make him think you were dead?”

“It’s a long story. Martha can help me tell it better, since she was there with me for all of it,” Rose replied. As soon as she finished, they heard a knock on the door. Rose jumped up and said, “Speak of the devil!”

She threw open the door, and Martha gave her a quick hug. “When I said you needed to call, I didn’t exactly mean every couple of hours.”

“I said you’d be sick of me soon enough,” Rose laughed, leading Martha to the others.

“Sarah Jane, Luke, this is Martha Jones. Martha, this is Sarah Jane Smith and her son Luke,” Rose said with a smile.

“It’s nice to meet you, Martha,” Sarah Jane said, holding out her hand to shake Martha’s.

“Oh, you don’t need to lie,” Martha laughed, taking the proffered hand. “I know most of what you heard about me from Rose was bad. We had a bit of a rough start.”

“Yes, Rose was telling me the two of you were friends now, but she didn’t quite get around to explaining how that all happened,” Sarah Jane said.

“Well, it all started in Cardiff,” Rose said, and for the next few hours, she, Martha, and the Doctor launched into the adventure that was the year that never was. They left out a bit, particularly about meeting Sarah Jane in the aborted timeline. No one really wanted to explain to her that there was a version of reality where her son had died. It just didn’t seem like a pleasant conversation topic.

When they were all finished, Sarah Jane asked, “So you’re immortal now?”

“Seems like it,” Rose replied. “The Doctor is still adjusting to it all though.”

“Really?” Martha asked. “I thought you’d be thrilled! Rose is going to live as long as you are.”

“I’d rather not think about the number of times she’s died,” the Doctor replied, looking uncomfortable as he tightened his grip on Rose’s hand.

Martha snorted. “You’re telling me. I had to live through all of them. Every time I worried she wasn’t going to wake up. It doesn’t help that there isn’t really a pattern as to how long it takes her to wake up. It was terrible, living like that.”

“I’ve told you I’m sorry,” Rose sighed. “But better for it to be me, who had a pretty good chance of waking back up, than one of the other people I was with who had a much smaller chance.”

“I know, I know. Doesn’t mean I liked it though,” Martha replied.

“So you all lived through all of that, but now it never even happened?” Sarah Jane asked.

“That’s right,” Martha said, having made fast friends with Sarah Jane.

“That’s mad. Just hearing about it,” Sarah Jane said, shaking her head.

“Exactly why Gallifreyan has a tense for that,” the Doctor teased again, nudging Rose.

“Okay, okay, I get why it would be useful now,” she giggled.

“What’s this about Gallifreyan?” Martha asked.

“The Doctor’s teaching me his language. It’s bloody insane,” Rose laughed.

Sarah Jane sat upright, “Your language? Really, that’s a big step Doctor. No more secret messages around the TARDIS if Rose can read it.”

The Doctor shrugged. “I don’t really think secret messages are even possible anymore. I think the TARDIS would just translate them for Rose.”

Martha shook her head, “But the TARDIS doesn’t translate Gallifreyan,” Martha argued.

“The TARDIS also doesn’t talk to people directly, but she does talk to Rose. She’s apparently doing lots of things I didn’t think she could do,” the Doctor replied.

“Oh, you’re just jealous your ship likes me better than you. Maybe she wouldn’t if it wasn’t for all of that percussive maintenance you do,” Rose teased.

But the Doctor didn’t fall for her teasing. He just leaned toward her and whispered, “Our ship.”

“Aww,” Martha sighed. “Look at the two of you. You’re just too adorable.”

Rose tossed a wadded up napkin at her, and Martha only laughed harder. The Doctor just looked between the two of them and said, “You really weren’t kidding.”

“About what?” Rose asked.

“With the Master, I thought the friendship thing might have been an act, to tease him more, but it’s not.”

Rose shrugged. “There are some things you can’t share without ending up liking each other and fighting a psychopathic Time Lord for a year is one of them.”

“Knocking out a twelve-foot mountain troll is another,” Martha added, easily catching Rose’s reference.

Rose, Sarah Jane, and Martha all collapsed in a fit of giggles at the reference, while Luke sat on, looking confused. The Doctor made a mental note to lend the boy his copies of Harry Potter. Everyone deserved to read them. The Doctor just smiled as he looked at the people around him. He spent so much time running from the past and avoiding previous companions because of his fear of losing them. But the look of joy on Rose’s face made him wonder if he was wrong. Maybe he’d regret not spending time with them more than it would hurt to lose them one day in the future. Especially if they stuck to Rose’s plan and spaced out their visits well enough.

He was shaken out of his reverie as Rose launched into some story making fun of him, that he half-heartedly protested, and he decided not to think about anymore, instead opting to follow Rose’s lead and live in the moment.

Chapter Text

“Okay, and now, throw that lever there,” the Doctor said, guiding Rose’s hand to the one in question.

“The TARDIS says that I should push this button first,” Rose replied, pointing to something else on the console.

“I never press that one,” the Doctor argued.

“Cause you don’t know what it does,” Rose teased.

“What? Of course I do,” the Doctor protested.

“The TARDIS says you don’t,” Rose said in a sing-song voice as she happily pressed the button before throwing the dematerialization lever.

If the time rotor hadn’t been going up and down, the Doctor wouldn’t even have known that they had moved. “What?” he asked, looking around confused.

“The TARDIS says that button activates the interior stabilizers. She says that’s why it’s always so bumpy when you fly,” Rose explained.

“There aren’t any interior stabilizers!” the Doctor argued.

“Well clearly there are,” Rose said, pointing at the button she had just pressed. “Now, I’m going to go get changed and grab the bag the TARDIS packed for us, and you put in the coordinates since I can’t read Gallifreyan well enough to do that yet. But don’t touch anything else.”

The Doctor couldn’t help but smile as Rose sauntered off. It had been six months for them since their little pit stop at Sarah Jane’s. Since then, the Doctor had been trying to teach Rose how to fly the TARDIS, and she was brilliant at it. They hadn’t really been anywhere yet, mostly just bouncing place to place. This was going to be their first big trip. Rose was going to try to fly them the Barcelona, with very little help from him.

Rose bounded out in a pink sundress that left her shoulders bare, and her hair piled up in a bun on top of her head. She sat the bag down on the jump seat and moved over to the console. “Are the coordinates set?” She asked. The Doctor nodded, unable to form words as he watched Rose bounce around the console. He always thought she was beautiful, but there was just something about her flying the TARDIS that managed to take his breath away. Eventually she stilled and put her hand on the dematerialization lever. She looked up at him with a mix of excitement and nervousness. “Ready?”

“Allons-y, Rose Tyler,” he said with a smile, and she threw the lever, landing them gently.

“Did I do it?” She asked, a little unsure because of how gently they had landed.
The Doctor looked down at the console to confirm, and he nodded, “Yeah, looks like the TARDIS just made the landing super easy on you, since it was your first flight and all.”

The lights overhead flickered and Rose laughed, “Well, the Old Girl says that you need to get used to the idea that I might end up being a better driver than you.”

The Doctor scoffed in mock indignation and looked up at the time rotor. “Traitor!” he huffed.

Rose giggled, then grabbed the bag and threw the door open. They were standing on a beach with pale blue sand and a champagne colored ocean. “Oh, it’s gorgeous,” she gushed, taking off her sandals to run her feet through the sand.

The Doctor followed her out and took the bag. “Come on, let’s go check into the hotel.”

“Hotel?” Rose asked. “Are we not staying on the TARDIS?”

“We’ve spent six months on the TARDIS, I thought it might be nice to have a little break. Besides, this is one of the top rated hotels in the galaxy, and it has a fabulous restaurant. A nice little vacation spot. But if you’d rather we stay on the TARDIS—” the Doctor started.

“No!’” Rose interrupted. “It sounds lovely. Lead the way.”

Thankfully, the hotel they were staying at was on the beach, so Rose got to enjoy walking on the beach the whole way there. It didn’t take her long to notice that the beach was surprisingly empty though. “Where is everyone?”

“Oh, it’s actually winter right now. Well, late fall, but essentially the same thing,” the Doctor replied.

“Winter? But it’s so nice out!” Rose exclaimed.

“Yes, for you. For the Barcelonians, this is cold. I couldn’t bring you for their summer. The heat is well outside what a human could stand,” the Doctor replied.

“So we’ve got the beach to ourselves?” Rose asked.

“Mostly,” the Doctor replied. “There will be other tourists, but this is slightly before peak tourist season, so it should still be quiet. But right now it’s lunch time, so everyone is probably in town. I thought we could go find a nice café once we were all checked in.”

“That sounds lovely,” Rose replied, looping an arm through his.

“And, I promised you dogs with no noses. I intend to deliver on that promise,” the Doctor replied.

“You promised me that ages ago,” Rose reminded him.

“I was a different man back then,” the Doctor said.

Rose shook her head. “No, you weren’t. You were my Doctor then, and you’re my Doctor now.”

“I can’t argue with that,” he smiled, leaning down to kiss her sweetly.

**********************************************************************************************************************

After lunch, Rose and the Doctor were strolling down the street when the Doctor noticed a flower stall. “Oh, Rose! Come look. Barcelona is known for these,” he said, pointing to a small, yellow flower. He turned to the woman at the stall and asked how much.

“Oh, no charge for such a lovely couple,” the woman said.

On instinct, after years of similar comments, they both started to say, “Oh, we’re not—” before they both stopped and looked at each other and smiled.

“You’re not?” the woman asked, confused.

The Doctor grinned back at her. “Actually, we are. Still a bit new. Old habits die hard, you know?”

“Ah,” the woman said, “well, I hope you and your wife have a lovely day.”

“Oh, we’re not, we’re not married,” Rose sputtered.

“Come back in a year, and we’ll see about that,” the woman winked, handing Rose the flower.

As they walked away, the Doctor turned back to look at her with a puzzled look on his face. “What is it?” Rose asked.

“Nothing. It’s just, Barcelonians are known for being particularly time-sensitive,” the Doctor replied.

“And that means?” Rose prompted.

“They can’t exactly see timelines, not like a Time Lord at least. They just have strangely accurate intuitions. Normally they don’t say much to off-worlders about them, though,” the Doctor replied.

“Well, if you can see timelines, what do you think she was hinting at, then?” Rose asked.

“Can’t see my own timelines, or those of the people closest to me,” the Doctor replied. Then he stopped and smiled adoringly at her. “But it doesn’t take a Time Lord to figure that out.”

She leaned up to kiss him, murmuring, “I love you.”

“I love you, too,” he replied, smiling against her lips. He pulled back a little and rested his forehead on hers. “I never get tired of saying that.”

“It’s only been six months,” Rose laughed. “Everyone says the honeymoon phase’ll eventually wear off.”

“Not for us,” the Doctor replied. “Cause you are the most amazing, impossible being in the whole universe.”

She pulled him down for another kiss, but he broke it off far too quickly, exclaiming, “Oh! I nearly forgot!”

“What?” Rose asked, slightly annoyed at the interruption.

“The whole reason I stopped to point out the flowers in the first place!” the Doctor said.

Rose looked down at the small yellow flower in her hand. It was pretty, but nothing special. It looked like a daisy if she was being honest. “What about it?” she asked.

“Barcelona is known for being a particularly romantic place,” the Doctor said. “Never would have suggested it in my last body if I hadn’t been a bit delusional from the regeneration energy and being very much in love. But anyway, it’s known for being romantic. And these flowers are no exception. Because they look extremely boring when they’re being held by one person. Just a sort of boring, yellow color. But it’s very important that from the time they’re picked until the time they’re sold, that they’re only held by one person at a time.”

“Why’s that, Doctor?” Rose asked.

“Because when two people that are in love hold them simultaneously, this happens,” the Doctor said, grabbing a hold of the stem, just under Rose’s hand. Suddenly, the inside of the flower turned a bubblegum pink. It faded beautifully into the yellow of the outside.

“Oh!” Rose gasped.

“Technically, it’s got to do with pheromones interacting with the chemical composition of the flower, but they’re still beautiful. And it stays, even when they’re not being held by both people anymore,” the Doctor said, letting go of the flower. As Rose twirled it around in her hand the Doctor smiled and said, “A pink and yellow flower for my pink and yellow Rose.”

She smiled up at him and gave him another quick kiss.

**********************************************************************************************************************

Rose had been asleep for about an hour by the Doctor’s calculations. He had brought a book to read while she slept, but he found he didn’t really want to. He was content to just lay there, holding her as she slept. He hadn’t been lying to her on the TARDIS that first night. He didn’t get bored watching her sleep because the rise and fall of her chest reminded him that she was alive.

Even now, six months after learning that she couldn’t die, he couldn’t forget how it felt, spending all of those months thinking that she was dead. Every night that he was the Master’s prisoner, when the Master had left him alone, in the dark, he had replayed her death over and over in his mind. The Doctor didn’t think he’d ever forget that, and it only made him want to cherish her even more.

Because he had spent nearly six months watching her sleep though, it didn’t take the Doctor long to notice that something was wrong. Rose should be entering REM sleep by his calculations, but her breathing was more rapid than normal. When she started thrashing around a little bit, the Doctor decided he needed to intervene.

“Rose. Rose, wake up. Wake up,” he whispered, shaking her shoulder.

She sat up with a start and immediately reached for something on her hip. Not finding it, she looked down, panicked for a moment before she realized where she was. “Doctor?” she asked, quietly.

“Rose? Are you alright?” he asked, taking her face in her hands and looking her over.

She refused to meet his eyes. “I’m fine,” she said, shaking her head and gently removing one of his hands from her face. “It was just a nightmare.”

“Want to tell me about it?” he asked.

“It was nothing,” she replied.

“Rose, come on. It was clearly bothering you. That was the first nightmare I’ve seen you have since—” he stopped, unable to bring up Canary Wharf, worried that was what it was over.

“It wasn’t about Canary Wharf,” she replied, practically reading his mind.

“What, then?” he asked.

“Nothing,” she replied shortly.

“Rose, what happened to talking about things? Communicating?” the Doctor asked.

Rose finally looked up at him, and he could see the pain in her eyes. “If I told you… I don’t know that you’d love me anymore.”

“Rose, that’s ridiculous. There’s nothing you could do that could make me stop loving you,” the Doctor replied. “You are the best person I have ever met.”

“I’m not, though!” she yelled, turning away from him. “I’m not the same Rose you knew from before that year happened.”

“Rose, what are you talking about?” the Doctor asked, trying to take her hands. “Of course you are.”

She ripped her hands away from him. “No, I’m not. Most of the time, I’m able to pretend I am. Sometimes I even manage to convince myself. But I’m not. During that year, I became exactly what you hate the most.”

“Rose, what are you talking about?” the Doctor asked.

“Doctor, I’m a soldier. I wasn’t like Martha. I wasn’t a doctor, and I couldn’t help people. But I turned out to be a pretty good soldier. So that’s what I did. For almost the whole year, I carried a gun. I didn’t even think about it,” Rose said. She looked up at him, panic and confusion in her eyes as she said, “My first thought, just then, when I woke up, was to reach for my gun.”

“Rose,” the Doctor started.

“You hate guns. But for me? They’re so normal they’re my first thought when I wake up.”

“Rose,” the Doctor said, a bit more forcefully this time, trying to get her attention. “That year was hell. You did what you had to do. It’s okay. What’s important is that you made it out alive.”

“The Toclafane were human, Doctor. They were humans, and I killed them. I don’t even know how many I killed. I lost count. How can you possibly love me after that?” Rose asked, tears streaming down her face. While the Doctor tried to come up with a response for that, Rose climbed out of bed. “I need to go back to the TARDIS. I can’t do this.”

"Can't do what?" the Doctor asked.

"I don't know," she cried, running out of the room.

“Rose, Rose, wait!” the Doctor yelled after her as she took off running, but she was gone. He quickly packed up all of their things and went to the front desk to check out. So much for a romantic vacation.

The Doctor slowly made his way back to the TARDIS, trying to figure out how to fix this. Rose had to know there was nothing she could do to make him love her any less. She had done what she had to do, to save herself, to save Martha, to save countless other people. How could she think that would make him hate her?

When he got back on the TARDIS, he asked the ship for confirmation that Rose was onboard. The lights flashed to indicate that yes, she was onboard, so the Doctor sent them into the vortex, even remembering to press the buttons for the internal stabilizers that Rose had shown him earlier that day. Once they were just floating, the Doctor sat down the bag and picked up the pink and yellow flower from earlier. He still didn’t know how to tell her that things were okay, so he decided to try to show her. Making his way to the room that had quickly become theirs, the Doctor pushed the door open quietly.

Inside, Rose was laying in bed, pretending to be asleep. He knew she wasn’t, but decided that if she wanted to be left alone, he would respect her wishes. He walked in and laid the flower on the pillow next to her head, then leaned down and kissed her forehead whispering, “I love you, Rose.”

The Doctor made to leave the room, but stopped in the doorway. He looked back and saw Rose pick up the flower and twirl it around in her fingers. She wasn’t okay, and he didn’t know how to fix it, but he had a feeling he knew someone who did.

Chapter Text

The next morning, Rose woke up and went to the kitchen, unsure as to whether or not she wanted the Doctor to be there. A part of her did because she wanted him to confirm that they were still okay, now that she was calmer. The other part of her was still worried that he would reject her because of everything that she had done.

Despite her confusion, she was still disappointed to find the kitchen empty, other than some toast and a cup of tea. Next to them was a note in Gallifreyan that read, “Console Room.” Rose was still struggling to learn the language, but the Doctor had taken to writing notes in Gallifreyan for her to find as a way to help her learn to read it. She took it as a good sign that he was still doing that, and she quickly finished her breakfast and followed the note’s instructions to meet him there.

“You got my note,” he smiled.

“Yeah,” she replied, quietly.

“Do you want to do the honors?” the Doctor asked, pointing at the materialization lever. “Don’t worry, I already activated the internal stabilizers.” She smiled weakly at that, and the Doctor beamed at her as she pulled the lever.

As soon as they landed, Rose asked, “Where are we, Doctor?”

“I thought you could use a little visit with your best friend,” the Doctor replied.

“You mean--” Rose started, but she was cut off when the TARDIS door flew open and someone ran up the ramp.

“Rose!” Martha exclaimed. “You haven’t called in like three weeks. I was worried you were gonna miss it.”

“Miss it? Miss what?” Rose asked. “Doctor, when is it?”

Martha looked at Rose and shook her head, still smiling, “I graduate from medical school tomorrow! And you promised you would be there.”

“Wait, you graduate tomorrow?” Rose asked.

“Yes!” Martha replied. “I was just getting ready to go out with some mates to celebrate. Go get dressed, you’re coming with me.”

“Are you sure?” Rose asked.

“Of course I’m sure,” Martha replied.

Rose shook her head, “Martha, I really don’t think I’m going to fit in with all of your doctor friends. I don’t even know what we’d talk about. It’s not like I’m in school or I’ve got a career or anything.”

“Rose, no one cares about any of that. You’re brilliant, even if you can’t always see it. But that doesn’t matter anyway. We’re going out drinking and dancing, so no one’s really going to be doing much talking. And we’re all tired of talking about school anyway. We just want to have fun,” Martha replied.

Rose sighed, “Alright, alright.”

“Brilliant,” Martha said. “Now, let’s get ready here, cause the TARDIS has the best wardrobe room, and I’d like to raid it, if the Old Girl is done hating me that is.”

Rose laughed as they made their way back to the wardrobe room, “Yeah, I think it was mostly to try to remind you that she wanted the Doctor and me to get together.”

“Her and me both,” Martha laughed. “It was about time you two figured things out.”

Martha went quiet for a little while as they both picked dresses and sat down at the vanities the TARDIS had provided for them. Then, a little hesitantly, Martha asked, “Is everything okay? You seem a little…off.”

“Yeah,” Rose shrugged. “I’m fine.”

Martha stopped and turned around to fully face her friend. “Rose, you know you can’t lie to me. I know you too well for that.”

Rose hesitated, then took a deep breath. “I know, I know. It’s all fine. Between me and the Doctor. It’s been about six months since the last time I saw you. We just went to Barcelona, and everything was great.”

“And what happened in Barcelona?” Martha asked, picking up on the change in her friend’s voice.

On Barcelona,” Rose corrected instinctively. “And I had a nightmare. I haven’t had one since I’ve been back on the TARDIS. I think she was shielding me from them. But we were staying in a hotel, so she wasn’t there to block them.”

“Oh, Rose, I’m so sorry. I know how bad they can be. But they get better,” Martha replied.

Rose shook her head. “It’s not the nightmare that’s the problem. I can deal with those on my own. It’s what I turned into during that year. I turned into exactly what the Doctor hates. I was a soldier. And I had to tell him that.”

“What did he say?” Martha asked.

“He said it was fine, and he tried to reassure me that he doesn’t mind it, but how can he not? He’s always saying how much he hates guns,” Rose replied, pulling her legs up on the seat beside her, and wrapping her arms around them.

Martha got up and sat down next to Rose, hugging her in the process. “Hey, you don’t like them any more than he does.”

“Yeah, but I got used to them,” Rose replied as the tears began to fall. “By the end of the year, I didn’t even have to think about it. I was so used to carrying a weapon, that I didn’t even stop to think before shooting a Toclafane. I don’t know how I ended up like that.”

“The Toclafane weren’t human, Rose, they were monsters,” Martha argued, trying to reassure her friend.

“They were human though. Deep down inside, they were us,” Rose protested. “And even if they weren’t, would it matter? Because most of the beings that I interact with on a daily basis aren’t human. Does that make their lives worth any less than mine?”

“No, that’s not what I meant,” Martha sighed. She paused for a few seconds to rethink her tactic. “On the worst patrol day you had, how many people died?”

“What?” Rose asked. “How is that supposed to help?”

“How many?” Martha repeated.

“Single patrol? Seven,” Rose replied.

“And how many came back?” Martha asked.

“24,” Rose replied.

“If you hadn’t have been there, doing exactly what you were doing, how many would have come back?” Martha asked.

“That’s impossible to—” Rose started, but Martha cut her off.

“No, it’s not impossible to determine. I know you thought about it. That’s what got you through the year. So, tell me, how many of those people would have come back alive if you weren’t there?” Martha asked.

“None.”

“That’s what I thought. Rose, I know it’s easy to dwell on the bad, especially now that life is so good. But you can’t do that. You need to remember how much good you did. You weren’t shooting the Toclafane because you wanted to hurt them, you were doing it because you wanted to help other people. Everything you did was for other people,” Martha said.

“I know,” Rose sighed, but Martha could tell she wasn’t convinced.

“And I don’t think it’s the Doctor you’re worried about not forgiving you,” Martha said.

“What?” Rose asked.

“Because you know what he did. With Gallifrey. He’s done the same thing. So you’re not worried about him not forgiving you. You can’t forgive yourself,” Martha said.

“I don’t…” Rose petered off, unable to finish the sentence because she knew Martha was right.

“Can you forgive the Doctor for destroying Gallifrey to save the Universe?” Martha asked.

“Of course,” Rose replied, instinctively.

“Then why can’t you forgive yourself for doing the same thing?” Martha asked.

“I—I don’t wanna talk about it, Martha. Tonight is supposed to be about you, not me, and especially not about my issues. Let’s just go and have fun. Okay?” Rose asked, pulling herself away from Martha and wiping her face.

Knowing that arguing any more was pointless, Martha stood up, “Okay. But I’m not going to forget about this.”

Rose chuckled, “Believe me, I know.”

**********************************************************************************************************************

Once they were finally dressed, Rose and Martha both made their way back to the console room where the Doctor was waiting for them. “You ready?” Martha asked.

“Yeah, I think so,” Rose replied, looking through the small purse she had grabbed. “No, wait, I left my mobile. Let me run and get it.”

Glad to have Rose out of the room for a minute, Martha turned to the Doctor. “You need to talk to her.”

“I tried,” he replied. “I don’t know how to help. She doesn’t really seem to want to listen to me. That’s why we came to see you. I was hoping you would know what to say to her. I don’t know how long she’s been worrying about this because she never said anything.”

Martha shook her head, “Doctor. You are quite literally the best person to talk to her because you’ve been in the same position.”

“I have?” he asked.

“Yes, you have,” Martha replied. “The problem is that she’s blaming herself for doing things that she normally wouldn’t in order to save other people. You’ve done the same thing.”

“I don’t know how to help with that though!” the Doctor exclaimed. “I still struggle with the guilt. The only thing that makes it better is her.”

“What does she do to help you?” Martha asked.

“She’s there. She reminds me that I’m not alone. That’s what she’s done since the day I met her. It’s part of the reason I love her so much,” the Doctor replied.

“Have you thought about the fact that maybe that would help her too?” Martha asked. “Sarah Jane, Jack and I, we’re all here for her as friends, but you and her share a different kind of a bond. You have been through so much together, and you both understand what the other has been through, at least a little bit. I’ll help her as much as I can because she’s my best friend, but this is something I think only you can help her with. I did all I could while I was there with her, every day during that year. She’s heard everything that I can possibly say to her. But you have a different perspective, and you need to use that.”

The Doctor just stared back a Martha, processing her words. He hadn’t thought about it like that before. As he was about to reply though, Rose came back in. “I can’t seem to find it anywhere, and the TARDIS is being really unhelpful.”

“Oh!” Martha said, pulling Rose’s phone out of her pocket. “I found it here right after you left. I guess it fell out of your purse or something.”

The Doctor looked knowingly at Martha, but she just shrugged. She needed to talk to the Doctor alone, so she figured out a way to do it. “Oh, thank you!” Rose said. “I can’t imagine how it managed to fall out without me noticing though.”

“No idea,” Martha replied. “But come on. We’re already running late. And I want you to meet my new boyfriend.”

“Boyfriend?” Rose asked, raising an eyebrow as they walked out of the TARDIS into Martha’s bedroom in her mum’s house.

“Yes,” Martha said, running down the stairs as she heard the doorbell ring. “Well, I say, meet, but that’s not quite accurate.” Martha flung open the door to reveal a man Rose remembered very well. “Tom, this is my friend, Rose. The one I was telling you about that travels all the time. I wasn’t sure if she was going to make it, but she just got in. Do you mind if she rides to the bar with us?”

“Oh, of course not,” Tom said, smiling at Martha. Then he turned to Rose. “Hello, I’m Tom Milligan. It’s a pleasure to meet you. Martha’s told me so much about you.”

Rose stared wide-eyed at Martha for a moment before turning back to Tom to shake his hand. “Hello, Tom. Rose Tyler. And I’ve only been in a little bit, so Martha hasn’t had time to tell me too much about you. She did say you were in paediatrics?”

He nodded as they all three made their way to his car, “Yes, I am. Though I’m preparing to go abroad. Do some work for Doctors Without Borders. I wish I could convince Martha to join me, but she was offered a fancy job with the United Nations here in London.”

“You were?” Rose asked.

“Yeah, with UNIT. They know a bit about my…resume,” Martha said cryptically. “They didn’t even wait for me to finish my exams before offering me the position.”

“I’d reckon you’ve had enough practice,” Rose said, quickly realizing that UNIT wanted a doctor that had some experience with aliens. “Though you don’t want to go to Torchwood? I’m sure if you wanted, you could get the same job from Jack, maybe with a little less oversight.”

Martha shook her head. “Nah, who wants to live in Cardiff?”

Rose laughed, “Okay, fair enough. I’m still going to tell Jack you don’t want to work for him.”

“Okay then,” Martha replied. “You can tell him tomorrow. He at least was good enough to tell me that he was going to show up to my graduation.”

“Hey!” Rose exclaimed as they arrived at the bar and all climbed out of the car. “Don’t blame me. The Doctor drove us here. I am a fantastic driver.”

“Wait, he’s letting you drive now?” Martha asked.

Rose nodded, “Yeah, he’s been teaching me for the last few months. I just made my first solo flight to Barcelona.”

“Seems like you two ladies have a lot to catch up on,” Tom remarked, “and looks like we’re the first ones here. Why don’t you all grab a table, and I’ll go fetch us some drinks.”

“Thank you, Tom,” Martha smiled.

As soon as he had walked away, Rose turned to Martha, “Tom Milligan?”

Martha shrugged. “I looked him up a few days after we got back, and we just started chatting. He’s a really great guy.”

“So you really like him?” Rose asked.

“Yeah, he’s probably the nicest guy I’ve ever dated,” Martha said.

“Is it weird though?” Rose asked. “Having a ton of memories of him even though he has none of you?”

“Sometimes,” Martha replied honestly. “But I’m pretty good about not saying anything.”

“Are you going to tell him?” Rose asked.

“We’ve only been together for two weeks!” Martha replied. “It’s a little soon for all that.”

Rose shrugged. “Sorry, it’s been a bit longer for me.”

“I’ll say,” Martha chuckled, “If you’re already flying the TARDIS by yourself.”

“She helps,” Rose said, trying to downplay it.

“Yeah, whatever,” Martha said. “But sometime soon, you’re taking me and Sarah Jane on a girls’ trip. Somewhere cool. We’ll leave the Doctor with Jack. That’ll make for some fun stories.”

“Have you kept in touch with Sarah Jane?” Rose asked.

Martha snorted, “Of course. We’ve actually started a group message with Jack. We’re calling it the Companion Club.”

“And I’m not in it?” Rose asked.

“Well, you’re not really a companion, are you?” Martha asked cheekily. Before Rose could reply, the rest of Martha’s friends showed up, and the night dissolved into a flurry of introductions, drinking, and dancing.

**********************************************************************************************************************

Later that night, Tom drove a very drunk Martha and Rose home. They were both sitting in the back, talking nonsense about aliens and spaceships. He was a little nervous when he walked them up to the door and knocked, wanting to make sure that someone was taking care of them before he just left.

It wasn’t Martha’s mother or sister that opened the door, however. It was a skinny man in a pinstripe suit. Tom said, “Oh, I’m sorry. I must have the wrong house. I was—”

Tom was cut off by Rose yelling, “Doctor!” and launching herself at the man.

The Doctor caught ahold of Rose and said, “Go on inside, love. You too, Martha.” Then he turned back to Tom. “Hello, I’m Rose’s boyfriend. Thank you for bringing them both home.”

“Tom Milligan, I’m dating Martha,” he replied.

The Doctor grinned, “Oh, good for you! And I’m Doctor John Smith, but most people just call me the Doctor.”

The Doctor?” Tom asked.

“Long story,” he replied. “But I should get in and make sure the girls are alright. Make them drink some water so they don’t wake up in too bad shape tomorrow. Goodnight.”

“Goodnight,” Tom replied as the Doctor shut the door. Once Tom was gone, the Doctor walked up to Martha’s room, where Rose and Martha were both laying the wrong way on Martha’s bed.

“Look, Rose,” Martha sang. “It’s your boyfriend.”

Rose grinned up at him, and if it wasn’t for the way her eyes were slightly unfocused and the smell of alcohol wafting off of her, he could almost pretend she was alright. “How much did you all have to drink?” The Doctor asked, a little concerned, as he scanned them both with the sonic.

They both shrugged, and Rose replied, “Not much. But it’s been a while since either of us drank. Maybe we forgot how to.”

“Ah, lowered tolerances. That might account for this,” the Doctor mused. “Now come on, you two. Into the TARDIS. We’ll get you some water and then it’s off to bed.”

“But we wanna have a sleepover!” Rose pouted.

“And you can do that,” the Doctor said. “Just do it in the TARDIS so we don’t wake up Martha’s mother. Francine scares me.”

**********************************************************************************************************************

The next morning, Rose and Martha stumbled into the TARDIS kitchen, both nursing horrible hangovers. Rose was cursing at the TARDIS under her breath to turn the lights down, but the ship was cheerily ignoring her. “Good morning, ladies!” The Doctor yelled as they walked in.

He managed to last about five minutes before the look of pain on Rose’s face made him stop his teasing and hand them both the pills that would get rid of their hangovers. “Humans created a cure for hangovers in the 32nd century,” he said.

“And you couldn’t have given them to us earlier?” Martha grumbled.

“Where would be the fun in that?” The Doctor asked. Rose glared up at him from where she was sitting at the table. He leaned down and pressed a kiss to her forehead. “Sorry, love, but even the TARDIS thought it was a good idea to have a little fun with you both.”

“Traitors,” Rose hissed.

The Doctor laughed, just as they all heard a knock on the TARDIS door. “You two wait here,” the Doctor said. “I’ll go see who that is.”

A minute later, he came back with Sarah Jane and Jack. “Looks like it’s about time for you to get ready, Martha. If you want to finally be a doctor, that is,” the Doctor replied.

Martha dashed out of the TARDIS to go get ready, but no one else felt any rush. They were in a time machine after all. “Doctor, aren’t you a little worried that you’ll miss it? You aren’t always the most reliable driver,” Jack said. “Wouldn’t it be safest to just go on over with Martha and her family?”

“I might not be the most reliable driver,” the Doctor said, “But Rose is, so we’ll be fine.”

“First Gallifreyan, now driving the TARDIS? Things are moving pretty fast, aren’t they?” Sarah Jane teased.

Rose just shrugged and stood up. “I should go get dressed. Even if it is a time machine, we should try not to be too late.”

“Is she okay?” Jack asked seconds after Rose left the room.

The Doctor sank down into the chair that Rose had been sitting in, his buoyant attitude fading quickly. “Not as okay as I thought. Apparently she isn’t coping with the aftermath of the year as well as I thought she was.”

“What do you mean?” Sarah Jane asked.

The Doctor shook his head. “She never had nightmares, she seemed like herself, and I think we both wanted her to just be fine, so we ignored it. Tried not to talk about anything that happened. But it’s all been an act on her part, and it just got to be too much. I was hoping this visit would help, but I don’t think it is.”

“Is there anything we can do?” Sarah Jane said, placing a hand over the Doctor’s in solidarity.

“No,” he sighed. “This is something I need to do. I just don’t know how to start. Times like this is when companions normally leave. I don’t deal with the aftermath, when they’re picking up the pieces.”

“Sarah Jane, is the Doctor becoming self-aware?” Jack asked teasingly. “Is he finally admitting that he might not be the most emotionally mature person in the room?”

“Jack,” the Doctor said, glaring at him.

“Sorry, Doc,” Jack shrugged. “But you can do this. She loves you. And I don’t know what she went through during that year. No one does. But I really believe that you can help her get better.”

“She’s always done that for me,” the Doctor admitted. “But I don’t know how to do that for her.”

“Just be there,” Sarah Jane suggested.

Before anyone else could add anything, Rose came back in the room, dressed in a cute blue tea-length gown. “Are we ready?” she asked, trying to seem her usual self, but failing miserably around the people that knew her best.

Chapter Text

The graduation ceremony was beautiful. Martha’s whole family was there, and her parents even seemed to get along. There was a small party afterwards, but neither Rose nor the Doctor felt mush like partying. They stayed for a little while, then Rose pulled Martha aside.

“Congratulations, Martha,” Rose said, hugging her.

“You’re leaving, aren’t you?” Martha asked.

Rose shook her head, “Not if you want me to stay.”

“You’re not having fun,” Martha said. “I get it. I don’t want to see you standing around here miserable all night. Go on, call me later.”

“I will,” Rose promised, giving Martha a last hug.

“And talk to him,” Martha suggested. “You both need that.”

**********************************************************************************************************************

As soon as Rose was on the TARDIS, she made a beeline for the library. She knew Martha was right, and that she did need to talk to the Doctor, but that was easier said than done. She didn’t even know how to start that conversation.

The Doctor watched her go and threw the TARDIS into the vortex. It felt wrong, piloting the Old Girl by himself. Rose had only been helping him for six months, but it already felt natural, flying around the console in unison. He looked up at the time rotor and asked, “Can I really do this?”

The TARDIS flashed her lights encouragingly, and the Doctor went to the kitchen to make tea. Tea always put Rose in a good mood, and maybe it would ease them into the conversation. Once he had everything prepared, he put it on a tray and followed the TARDIS’s instructions to the library. He pushed open the door and found Rose sitting on the floor, wrapped up in a blanket in front of the fireplace.

She looked up when he came in, and said, “Look, Doctor. I’m sorry about Barcelona. It was just a dumb nightmare, and I overreacted, but I’m fine.”

The Doctor knew that was a lie, so he chose not even to answer it. He sat the tray down on the ground next to her, took off his suit jacket, and rolled up his sleeves. Then he sat down next to her and said, “Do you remember when we first met?”

Rose looked at him, puzzled. “Of course I do, Doctor.”

“You know I was fresh out of the Time War, then, don’t you?”

“Yeah,” she said. “But really—”

“Do you know how recent it was for me, though?” the Doctor asked.

“What do you mean?”

“I had just left Gallifrey, the day before I met you. I had just killed my entire species and regenerated. Hadn’t even seen myself before. I had just stumbled into the wardrobe room and thrown on a new outfit. The first time I even looked in a mirror was in your flat. You were trying to say we should go to the police about what happened at Hendrik’s.”

“What are you saying, Doctor?” Rose asked.

“I’m saying that I know exactly how you feel. I know what it feels like to be so full of guilt that you don’t feel worthy of being loved. Even though you tell yourself that you were doing it for good reasons, it doesn’t make it any easier to bear that weight,” the Doctor sighed.

“So, how did you get over it?” Rose asked quietly.

“Well, I won’t lie and say that all the guilt is gone. I don’t know if it’ll ever be,” the Doctor said, looking down at his hands. Then he reached out and took one of Rose’s in his, and looked her in the eyes. “But it’s you that makes it better. Reminds me that I’m not a monster. That maybe I do deserve a little bit of happiness, even after everything I did.”

“Doctor,” Rose said, trying to take her hand away.

“No, Rose, please listen to me,” he said. “I was broken when you met me. I didn’t want to live anymore. If you hadn’t been down in that shop basement, I might not have actually left the building before detonating that bomb. I just wanted to run through all of my regenerations as quickly as I could, and then go join my people. But you remind me every day that there is still something worth living for. You brought joy and wonder back into my life.”

“Doctor, I’m not that special,” Rose protested.

“Oh, yes, you are, Rose Tyler. You are that special. I never go back twice, so when you said no to travelling with me, I tried to move on. Went and saw the Titanic, the Kennedy assassination, loads of things. But nothing could make me stop thinking about you. So I went back, and tried again,” the Doctor said, reaching up to brush a strand of hair off Rose’s face.

“Doctor, I’m not that girl anymore,” Rose said. “That girl would rush headlong into danger and try to argue her way out. Now? Now I don’t know what I’d do. If we end up visiting a war zone, what if I just jump in and try to join the fight?”

“Rose, just the fact that you’re asking yourself that question means that you’re still the same girl I fell in love with in that shop basement. You don’t want to fight people, and no one is going to be expecting you to. That’s part of the reason you fought during the year, wasn’t it? Because people expected you to?”

“I couldn’t help Martha as a doctor, but I could keep people alive as a soldier,” Rose replied.

“That’s my point,” the Doctor said. “You weren’t trying to kill the Toclafane. You were trying to keep other people alive. Your motivation for doing it does matter, Rose.”

“But Doctor,” Rose sighed. “I was still a soldier.”

“So was I,” the Doctor replied, pulling her in for a hug. “Then I met you and you made me better. Can you let me do the same for you?”

“How?” Rose asked.

“I have no idea. I should be asking you that question,” the Doctor replied. “All I know is that I will always be here, and I will always love you.”

“I love you too, Doctor,” Rose replied.

The Doctor leaned down and gave her a slow and gentle kiss. Things weren’t okay, but they would be. They were the Doctor and Rose Tyler. There wasn’t anything they couldn’t do.

**********************************************************************************************************************

The next morning, Rose woke up feeling a little bit better. She and the Doctor had stayed up late, talking about everything. She had thought that the best way to get over it all was by trying to forget it, but talking about it and remembering it had done her more good than anything.

She was sure that she had fallen asleep in the floor of the library, but the Doctor had obviously carried her in to bed at some point. She looked up at him, only to find him still sleeping. That was a first in the six months they had been together. He had always gotten up first.

Rose took advantage of the fact that he was still sleeping to take in the room. It had originally been her room, but over the past few months that descriptor didn’t seem to work anymore. The pink fluffy rug was gone, replaced by a dark brown one. Her pink duvet cover had been replaced by a deep blue one. There was an extra dresser with the Doctor’s clothes, and an extra nightstand on his side of the bed. Her clothes and magazines still cluttered up the room, but in amongst them were nuts and bolts and other assorted tecno-junk of the Doctor’s.

It had all happened so gradually that Rose had barely noticed the changes as they were happening, but it was interesting for her to just look around and notice them all. Her observations were cut short by the Doctor waking up.

“Good morning, sleepyhead,” Rose teased.

“Rose?” the Doctor asked, groggily. “When did you wake up?”

“A few minutes ago,” she shrugged. Before he could respond, the TARDIS started flashing her lights gently as she and Rose conversed. “Come on,” Rose said.

“What is it?” the Doctor asked as he watched Rose climb out of bed and get dressed.

“The TARDIS says she has somewhere for us to go. She already put in the coordinates,” Rose replied.

They both got dressed quickly and hurried to the console room. The TARDIS had a travel mug full of tea waiting for Rose when she arrived. “Thanks, love,” Rose said, patting the console as she took a sip.

The Doctor studied the console. “It isn’t anywhere interesting,” he shrugged. “The planet Paz Nine. Not much happens there, especially not in the 57th century, which is when she has us going there. What are you up to?”

“She says it’s something that we need to do,” Rose said as she began the materialization sequence.

The Doctor joined her, and they landed gently. “After you,” he said, motioning for Rose to go first.

They both stepped out into the gleaming sunlight. The TARDIS hadn’t landed them far from a village, so they decided to make their way there and see if they could figure out what was so important about this trip. The moment they crossed the town line, the Doctor’s face paled as he realized what it was.

“Rose, this isn’t a good idea.”

“Why, what’s wrong, Doctor?” Rose asked.

“I’m already here,” he replied.

“What are you talking about?” she asked.

“I can’t tell if it’s a past version of me or a future version, but we are definitely crossing my timestream. I think I managed to throw up my mental shields before the other me realized, but it’s never a good idea to have more than one of me in the same place,” he replied.

“The TARDIS wouldn’t have insisted we come here if it wasn’t important,” Rose said. “And besides, things were fine when you met your fifth self, right before the Titanic incident.”

“This is different,” the Doctor said, shaking his head. “Then I had memories of it happening. Now? I have no idea what’s going to happen.”

“You said your other self doesn’t know you’re here. Let’s take a look around and see if we can figure out which you it is,” she suggested.

“You and the TARDIS are impossible,” the Doctor sighed, but he followed her as she took off into some of the shops.

Half an hour later, they noticed a large group of people leaving a bar, all looking vaguely annoyed. As they started to walk in, one person grabbed the Doctor’s arm. “I wouldn’t go in there if I were you. I don’t know what that guy’s problem is, but you definitely don’t want to deal with him.”

“Thanks for the warning,” the Doctor said as he and Rose walked in.

It didn’t take long to realize who the man had been talking about. Sitting alone at a table was a grumpy looking man wearing a leather coat over a jumper. Rose gasped and grabbed the Doctor’s arm. He quickly pulled Rose into a booth so that the younger Doctor couldn’t see her.

“Doctor, what’s going on? Where is younger me?” Rose asked.

“Probably still standing in that alleyway with Mickey clinging to your legs,” the Doctor replied. “That’s me before you started travelling with me.”

“How can you tell?” Rose said, sneaking a peek out of the booth at him.

“He’s so angry,” the Doctor replied. “He doesn’t want anyone near him. Just watch.”

Right as the older Doctor said that, a bartender walked up to the leather clad Doctor. “Please, sir. You need to stop terrorizing the other patrons,” he said, clearly shaking. “Or I’ll have to ask you to leave.”

“Terrorizing the other patrons?” the Doctor growled. “I’m just telling them the truth. The real world isn’t like this silly little excuse for a planet. People aren’t kind and everyone doesn’t end up alright in the end. If one more bloody person tries to tell me that things’ll get better, you’ll really see what terrorizing the other patrons looks like.”

With that, the younger Doctor stood up and knocked his chair over before storming out into the street. Rose almost followed him, but she thought better of it and went over to the bartender. “Excuse me,” she said. “When you say he was terrorizing the other patrons, what did you mean?”

“Did you somehow miss his in-depth descriptions of the horrors of the Time War?” the bartender asked.

“We, um, got here a bit late for that,” Rose’s Doctor said, coming up behind him.

“I don’t even know what got him so riled up,” the bartender continued. “He was just sitting there, looking glum, so I went over and told him to keep his chin up, cause whatever was bothering him would likely turn out alright in the end. Then he just lost his mind, going on and on about war. It was horrible.” He shuddered.

“Thank you,” Rose said to him before she walked out into the street. She could see the Doctor pacing back and forth in the street, muttering to himself.

The Doctor put an arm around her and said, “That was what I was like without you.”

“Do you remember any of this?” Rose asked.

The Doctor shook his head, “I don’t. I don’t really know why, though. That regeneration never really had any memory issues.”

Rose looked between the two men and made a decision. She walked over to the younger Doctor and placed a hand on his elbow. “It really does get better,” she whispered.

“What?” he asked, spinning around to face her. “Rose?”

“Hello, Doctor,” she said.

“What are you doing here?” he asked. “You said no.”

“The first time,” she said. “The TARDIS wasn’t even completely gone before I realized I had made the biggest mistake of my life.”

“The first time? You mean I ask again?”

“You do,” Rose nodded, then she motioned over toward the older Doctor. “And I’m still with you.”

“Ah, that’s why you said yes,” he grumbled turning away.

“What do you mean?” Rose asked.

At that point, Rose’s Doctor came up to join them. “She didn’t say yes to me,” he said. “It was you that she said yes to in the first place. In fact, the regeneration was the first time I almost lost her.”

“Hey! It was just cause I was surprised,” Rose protested. “I didn’t know what was going on. One second, I watched the man I love explode into a bunch of golden light, and then the next second there was someone who looked completely different standing in his place, trying to convince me they were the same person. I’m sorry it took me a couple of hours to wrap my head around a completely alien concept with no prior warning.”

“You loved me?” the younger Doctor asked.

“Of course I did,” Rose replied. “I still do. Any you is still you, and I’ll always love you. No matter what you look like.”

The younger Doctor looked like he was trying to decide if he should smile or throw up. Instead, he opted to ask, “But how could you possibly love a monster like me?”

“You’re not a monster, Doctor. You saved the whole universe. I think that makes you a hero,” Rose said.

“But my own people,” he whispered.

“You did what you had to do to save everyone else. It was a terrible decision you never should have been forced to make,” Rose said. “But you did it because no one else would. You weren’t trying to wipe out your own people, you were trying to save everyone else that was out there.”

“But—” he started, but Rose cut him off.

She looked up at her Doctor as she remembered what he had said to her the night before. “Your motivation for doing it is what matters, Doctor.”

“What in Rassilon’s name did I do to deserve you?” he asked breathlessly.

Rose’s Doctor wrapped an arm around her waist and pulled her close to press a kiss to her forehead. “I have no idea, but I thank my lucky stars every day for giving me her.”

Rose looked up at him and smiled bittersweetly at him. Without saying a word, she just twisted enough in his arms to hug him properly. They stood there like that until the younger Doctor cleared his throat.

“Right,” Rose’s Doctor said, letting her go. “We should be on our way. I think I know what it was the TARDIS wanted us to see here.”

“Yeah,” Rose said. “I think you’re right. But there’s one more thing I need to do.” With that, Rose reached forward and grabbed the younger Doctor by his leather coat, pulling him into a kiss.

“Rose!” she heard her Doctor exclaim. “What are you doing?”

She finally pulled away and shrugged, “I always wanted to do that, and the only time it ever happened was when we were both dying.”

“Yeah, but he-he-“

“He’s you,” Rose said. “And I love you in any form.”

“But, but,” he stammered.

“Oh come on now. You aren’t telling me you’re jealous of yourself, are you?”

“Is that something that happens a lot, then?” the younger Doctor asked.

“Oh, yes,” the older one said, pulling Rose close to him possessively. “And don’t go worrying about the rules because Rose Tyler doesn’t much care for the laws of the Universe, let alone the rules we put up. Nothing stops her from getting what she wants.”

She giggled and smiled up at him. It was her first real smile since Barcelona, and the Doctor couldn’t help grinning back at her. Then he turned to his younger self. “Now, I hate to do this, but you need to forget this.”

“Do I have to?” he asked, looking longingly at Rose.

“If you don’t want to jeopardize this future, then yes. And trust me when I say you don’t want to jeopardize this future,” the older Doctor said.

“Oh, go on then,” the younger Doctor grumbled. The older one raised his hands to his younger self’s temples and locked away the memories. He set them to unlock when he and Rose returned to the TARDIS after this.

He pulled his hands away and whispered to Rose, “Go. While his eyes are still closed. He can’t see us.”

They walked slowly back to the TARDIS so that they didn’t attract any attention. Back on board, they worked together to get back into the vortex. Once they were there though, Rose didn’t move. She just kept her hands on the console.

“Rose?” The Doctor asked, worried. What if seeing the man he was after the Time War scared her off? He had always been so careful to never show her the anger and guilt he carried. The closest he had ever come was taking her to see the day the Earth died. But even then, he had had her presence there, keeping him calm and reminding him to be the person she believed him to be.

She finally turned to look at him, and there was no judgement in her eyes. “You really do get it,” she said quietly. He just nodded and waited for her to finish. “I was so worried that you wouldn’t want to wait for me to go back to who I was, but I think it was more about me not wanting to wait for that to happen.”

“Rose, you don’t have to go back to who you were before that year,” the Doctor sighed. “A lot happened, and it changed you. I just want you to become the person you want to be. That’s what you’ve done for me. Since meeting you, I’ve become the kind of man I wanted to be. Sometimes I still slip up a little, and I let the Oncoming Storm out, but it gets rarer and rarer the more time I spend with you.”

“Well,” Rose said. “I think that means we should keep doing exactly what we’ve been doing for the past six months.”

“Wait, what?” The Doctor asked.

Rose laughed and moved closer to him. “What I meant was that we should keep to the vortex for a while. Just spend time together. I love our friends, I really do, but maybe I’m not ready for them yet. You’re right in that I need to figure out who I want to be, and they might confuse me.”

“And I won’t?” he asked.

“No, because you see me as my best self. I want to be the person you think I am. I’d like to figure out what that means,” she replied.

“Well,” the Doctor smiled, leaning down to press his lips to hers. “Your wish is my command.”

Chapter Text

“The TARDIS says, ‘Don’t even think about it,’” Rose called to the Doctor without even opening her eyes. He was doing some maintenance under the console, and Rose was curled up near the Heart of the TARDIS. While she could talk to the TARDIS clearly from anywhere on the ship, Rose found that the closer she was to the Heart, the happier the ship was. So Rose had taken to curling up there any time the Doctor decided to start tinkering with the controls.

“But—” the Doctor argued.

“You don’t need a mallet to fix that, Doctor,” Rose argued. “Seriously, that’s the third mallet this month. Where do you even get them from?”

“Sorry that I have to keep my stash a secret,” the Doctor grumbled. “It’s just that someone keeps throwing them into supernovas.”

“You’d think you’d take the hint,” Rose said, finally sitting up and looking over at the Doctor. “The TARDIS is fine. She said she’ll let me know the next time she needs you to fix something.”

“But if I—”

“Blender,” Rose said, raising an eyebrow at him.

“One time!” he exclaimed, throwing his arms in the air as he finally gave in and stopped tinkering.

“The past four toasters, the vacuum cleaner, the washing machine, the—”

“Okay, so sometimes my improvements backfire,” he admitted.

“Sometimes?” Rose asked, grinning at him. The Doctor mumbled something under his breath and Rose snorted, “Why’d do you sound so annoyed when you say that?”

“You don’t know what I said,” the Doctor replied, more a question than a statement.

“Course I do,” Rose said. “You said you loved me.”

“Yeah, but Rose,” the Doctor said, staring at her in wonder, “I said it in Gallifreyan.”

“You did?” she asked.

“Yeah,” he laughed. “I said it in Gallifreyan and you understood!”

“I didn’t even have to think about it,” she giggled.

“I told you,” he said. “You know it. It just takes a while to click.”

Rose repeated the phrase a few times, giggling as the Doctor danced her around the console room. It had been two years since she started learning Gallifreyan, and she understood most of it on an intellectual level, but she had never really been able to understand it in a conversational sense. The Doctor said it had something to do with the way that the brain processed timelines and that the musical qualities of the language resonated with a special frequency that required time sensitivity in order to understand.

While she didn’t understand what any of that meant, she was just glad that her brain was finally able to process the language. Reading it was easy for her at that point, and she could speak it just fine. There had just always been some sort of disconnect when it came to comprehending the spoken words.

“We should celebrate,” the Doctor declared. “And I have the perfect idea.”

“What are you thinking?” Rose asked

“If I tell you, it won’t be a surprise,” the Doctor said in Gallifreyan.

Rose rolled her eyes and asked, “How do you say spoilsport in Gallifreyan?”

The Doctor snorted. “The Time Lords weren’t really big on teasing, so I’m not sure there’s an accurate translation for that.”

Rose laughed. “Can you at least tell me how to dress?”

“Oh, I think the TARDIS will help you with that,” the Doctor smiled, and the TARDIS lights chimed in agreement.

“Fine!” Rose declared, throwing her hands up in mock surrender. “I give up!”

**********************************************************************************************************************

An hour later, Rose came back into the console room wearing a gold rockabilly dress from the 1940s. “Will this do?” she asked, spinning around in a circle.

The Doctor’s jaw dropped when he saw her. They had been together over two years, and he was still in awe of her. “Rose, you look beautiful.”

“Thank you,” she smiled. “It was the TARDIS’s idea. But can you tell me where we’re going now?”

“Nope,” he said, moving the scanner out of view when he saw her trying to peek.

She sighed, but went to stand on her side of the console to do her parts of flying the Old Girl. They could both fly her on their own, but both of them found it much more enjoyable to fly it together. It was meant to have six pilots after all.

They landed gently, and Rose ran down the ramp to the doors. She threw open the doors and stepped out into a busy lobby.

“The Glen Island Casino, 1940,” the Doctor explained. “There’s a band here that I wanted to bring you to see.” He led her into the dining room where the evening was already in full swing.

They had barely managed to take their seats when a very familiar song started to play. “Doctor!” she gasped. “It’s our song!”

“You remembered?” he asked, grinning.

“How could I forget?” she asked before stretching out a hand. “Now come on. The world doesn’t end because the Doctor dances.”

He gladly took her hand and led her out onto the dance floor. The music slowed down a little after the first song, and the Doctor gladly took advantage of that to pull Rose even closer. “Back then, I never could have imagined this,” he whispered into her hair. “This is all so domestic.” Rose looked up at him, concerned, and he continued, “I never thought I’d like domestic, but with you? I can’t imagine anything better.”

“I’m sorry I’m not ready for adventures yet,” she said. They had had that discussion countless times, and the Doctor always insisted that it was fine, but Rose still felt guilty.

“Rose,” he sighed. “It’s okay. I understand. You’ve got a lot to process. And we have forever for that. Literally. And I don’t care what we’re doing, as long as I’m with you. I don’t need big crazy adventures.”

“It’s just, I want to go out and find some trouble, I’m just scared I’m not ready,” she said, burying her face in his chest.

“That’s okay,” he said. “When you’re ready, just say the word. Until then though, I’ll take advantage of the calm to spoil you.”

“I love you,” she whispered in Gallifreyan.

“I love you too,” he said right back, pressing a kiss to her hair.

**********************************************************************************************************************

As soon as they were back in their room, Rose collapsed on the bed. “I don’t know that I’ve ever done that much dancing, Doctor,” she sighed, trying to pull her shoes off. “And I don’t think these are ever coming off. My feet have swelled too much.”

The Doctor chuckled and bent down in front of her. He gently helped her off with each shoe, and then rubbed her tired feet. “Sorry about that, love.”

“Don’t apologize! I had a great time,” she replied. “Thank you, Doctor.”

“Anything for you,” he smiled, kissing her hand.

“Anything?” she asked, a teasing glint in her eye.

“Of course.”

“Well,” she said, gripping his hand tighter and pulling him up on to the bed with her. “Get up here, then.”

He happily obliged.

Chapter Text

Rose was lounging by the pool with a book when the Doctor ran in, breathless. “What’s wrong?” she asked, sitting up suddenly.

“Rose, this is important, so I want you to think about it before you answer,” the Doctor said.

“Okay…”

“When calculating your age, do you want to count the year that never was?” the Doctor asked solemnly.

“That’s your important question?” When the Doctor just stared at her in response, Rose sighed, “I don’t think Martha’s going to count it, and since it never actually happened, I’m going to say no.”

“Okay, good to know,” the Doctor said.

“Not that it really matters,” Rose said, “since I don’t know how old I am either way. I lost count a long time ago.”

“You turn 26 tomorrow,” the Doctor said.

“What?” Rose asked. “How do you know that?”

“I’ve kept count,” he shrugged. “I knew when it was your birthday last year, but you were having a bad week, so I didn’t say anything. But we did go to Kartoffel 9 to get chips.”

“I think I remember that,” Rose said. “At least, I remember thinking it was weird that you were so insistent we go get my favorite chips.”

“I had to do something to celebrate,” he replied. “Speaking of which, what do you want to do for your birthday?”

Rose shrugged, “I don’t care. It doesn’t need to be anything special. You spoil me enough as is.”

“Come on, Rose,” he said. “It’s your 26th birthday.”

“I know, but—wait? 26? When did I get old?” Rose asked, looking shocked.

“26 isn’t old,” the Doctor argued. “I’m over 900.”

“Yeah,” she said. “But I was 19 when I started travelling with you. I worked in a shop and hardly thought about the future past next weekend. I just can’t believe it’s been seven years. It’s gone by so quickly.”

“And you don’t look a day older,” he said, sitting down on the edge of her pool chair. “But come on, what do you want to do? It’s your birthday.”

“Surprise me,” Rose replied.

**********************************************************************************************************************

The next day, the Doctor took Rose to a lovely dinner on the planet of Crepuscolo. The restaurant was situated on the beach, and from their table Rose and the Doctor were able to see the sunset over the ocean.

“Happy birthday, love,” the Doctor smiled at Rose from across the table.

“Thank you,” she smiled. “This was lovely. But you really didn’t have to do anything special. You’re going to have to celebrate a lot of birthdays with me.”

“And I’ll enjoy every one of them,” he replied.

Rose rolled her eyes. “You are so cheesy.” In lieu of a response, the Doctor just took Rose’s hand and kissed it. “When is your birthday, Doctor?”

“I don’t really remember,” he shrugged. “I stopped counting around 700.”

“So you don’t even know how old you are?” Rose asked, shocked.

“It didn’t really seem important once I reached a certain age.”

“So what age are you going to stop counting my birthdays at?” she asked.

“I’m never going to stop,” he replied.

“Then we need to figure out how old you are!” she replied. “If we’re going to celebrate all of my birthdays, we’re going to celebrate all of yours.”

The Doctor just shook his head. “Good luck with that. If I don’t know how old I am, I don’t know how you’ll figure it out. But enough about me. I have a present for you.”

“Doctor,” Rose said. “You didn’t need to get me anything.”

“Of course I did,” he shrugged. “Besides, I found this a few months ago when we were shopping. I’ve just been saving it for now.”

The Doctor pulled a small, rectangular box out of his pocket and handed it to Rose. She opened the lid to see a necklace with a small diamond hanging off of it. “Oh Doctor,” she gasped. “It’s beautiful.

“That’s not a diamond,” he replied. “At least, not an Earth one. When I found it in an antique store on Denda, it was clear the owner didn’t know what it was.”

“If it’s not a diamond, what is it?” Rose asked, gently running her hand over the small stone.

“It’s called a white-point star,” the Doctor said. “I never thought I’d see one again. They could only be found on Gallifrey.”

Rose’s eyes snapped to meet the Doctor’s as they filled with tears. “Oh, Doctor.”

Instead of saying anything, the Doctor got up and took the necklace out of Rose’s hands. “May I?” She nodded, and he helped her put it on.

“Doctor, this is, thank you,” she said, unable to find the words. She knew what it must mean to him.

“There’s no one I would trust more with a piece of my home,” he said, kneeling down next to her.

She leaned forward and kissed him. “Let’s go home, Doctor.”

**********************************************************************************************************************

Two days after her birthday, Rose was sitting in the console room alone. The Doctor was somewhere deep in the TARDIS storerooms looking for who knows what, and the TARDIS had assured her that they had a while before he would return.

“Do you have any idea how old he is?” Rose asked, then she laughed at the mental eye roll she got in return. “Of course you do. What about his birthday?”

The scanner beeped, and Rose moved over to look at it, only to find a calendar pulled up with a day highlighted. “I’ve got two months, huh? I think we can make that work,” Rose smiled, glancing up at the ceiling. “Because I have an idea of what I want to get him, but I’ll need your help to make it work.”

The TARDIS quickly agreed and told Rose where she needed to go to get everything she needed.

**********************************************************************************************************************

“Rose?” the Doctor called. “What are you doing?”

“Don’t come in!” Rose yelled, quickly tilting her canvas so that he wouldn’t be able to see it from the doorway.

“What’s that?”

“It’s nothing,” she replied quickly.

“Oh, come on, Rose,” he said, moving into the room to try to get a peek.

“It’s not finished,” she said, brushing some hair out of her face and smearing paint all over her cheeks.

“I’m sure it’s still beautiful,” he said, trying again to catch a glimpse of her painting.

“Oh no you don’t,” she said. “Not until it’s finished.”

“I didn’t even know you liked to paint,” he said.

Rose shrugged. “I was going to take Art for one of my A-levels, but I just sort of gave it up completely when I dropped out.”

The Doctor nodded. She had told him all about Jimmy Stone, and the thought of him stopping Rose from doing something she loved just made his blood boil. But looking at Rose, covered in paint, smiling at the canvas calmed him down. If she could get over it, then so could he.

“Are you sure I can’t look?” he asked.

“Don’t even think about it,” she warned, and the TARDIS lights flashed in solidarity.

He threw his hands up in mock surrender. “Alright! I give up. Don’t show me, then.”

“Good,” she nodded, dipping her brush into some paint and bringing her attention back to her work.

He stepped sideways a little and leaned forward to try to see something while she was distracted, but she caught him immediately. “Hey!” she exclaimed, flicking the paintbrush at him and splattering him in red paint.

“What?” he yelled looking down at his suit. “Now I’m covered in paint!”

“Serves you right,” she nodded. “Trying to be all sneaky. Now shoo. I obviously can’t trust you to be in the same room as this painting.”

“I promise I’ll behave,” he pleaded.

“Nope,” she said, standing up and ushering him out of the room. “You lost your chance.”

Once the Doctor was on the other side of the door, Rose shut it, and it promptly disappeared. “Oh, you’re in on this too, Old Girl?” the Doctor asked.

The lights flickered happily in response and the Doctor sighed. It looked like he would actually have to wait to see that painting. And if there was one thing he was terrible at, it was waiting.

**********************************************************************************************************************

Rose was nervous. She wasn’t sure how the Doctor was going to react. The TARDIS kept trying to reassure her and tell her that things were going to be fine, but that didn’t calm the butterflies in her stomach.

She had spent all day getting ready for this. The TARDIS had even given her a room where they could see the stars, and Rose had sat up a table and chairs in there. She had prepared all of the Doctor’s favorite foods, even a banana cake. But that wasn’t what she was worried about. It was her gift for him. She had worked so hard on it, but it was still a risk because she had no idea how he would take it.

“Rose?” the Doctor asked, stumbling into the room, wearing the tux she had laid out for him. “What’s all this?”

“Happy birthday, Doctor,” she smiled, gesturing toward the small table with the candlelit dinner.

“What?” he asked.

“The TARDIS helped me figure it all out. Today is your 912th birthday. I decided that if you want to celebrate my birthday, I want to celebrate yours too,” Rose said.

He looked at her with a mix of shock and awe. “You did all this for me?” he asked.

She nodded. “I even made banana cake.”

He grinned and sat down. They had a lovely dinner, and the Doctor told her stories of a few birthdays he remembered before he lost count. It was lovely, and almost enough to calm her down.

As they finished off the cake, the Doctor sighed, “Thank you, Rose. This was perfect.”

Rose took a deep breath. “That’s not all. I have a present for you.”

“A present? Rose, you really didn’t have to do that. Just celebrating my birthday was more than enough of a gift,” he said, shaking his head.

Ignoring him, Rose went across the hall and picked up the easel where her painting was. It had a white cloth draped over it to cover the painting as she brought it in the room.

“Is this?”

She nodded. “Yeah, it’s the painting I’ve been working on. That’s why I wouldn’t let you see it before it was finished.”

“Can I?” he asked, pointing at the cloth. She nodded and held her breath, waiting for his reaction.

He gasped when he saw it. It was a painting of Gallifrey. In it, you could see the Citadel in its glass dome, nestled between red mountains. The twin suns were setting in the background, and you could barely make out the silver leaves on the trees. It was stunning, and the Doctor didn’t know how to respond. He just stood there staring at it in silence.

After two minutes of the Doctor not saying anything, Rose moved so that she could see his face, but his expression was blank. She had worried that it might be taking things a step too far, reminding him of what he had lost, and based on his lack of reaction, she was starting to think that was the case.

“I’m sorry, Doctor. I just wanted to get you something special,” she said, chewing on her thumb nail. “I didn’t mean to—”

He cut her off by pulling her into a hug so tight she couldn’t breathe. “Thank you,” he whispered before releasing her just enough that she could pull back to look at him.

“So you like it?” she asked, still nervous.

“I love it,” he said, his eyes full of unshed tears. “But how did you do it? It’s perfect, but you’ve never seen Gallifrey.”

“The TARDIS helped,” she said. “She sort of put the image in my head.”

“Well thank you both,” he said. “This is the best present I’ve ever received.”

“It wasn’t too much then?” Rose asked. “I was a little worried it would bring up memories you’d rather forget.”

“No, it brings up memories I’d like to remember,” he said. “Because if I don’t remember Gallifrey, who will?”

Rose hugged him tightly. “Happy Birthday, Doctor.”

Chapter Text

Rose was just enjoying the sun on her face when a little girl ran up to her and tapped her arm. “Excuse me, miss. My brother and I need some help with our sandcastle.”

Rose opened her eyes and looked at the little girl. The Doctor had just left to go get them ice cream, so Rose figured she had a few minutes. She smiled and said, “Sure, just tell me what to do.”

The little girl grabbed her hand and drug her over to the sandcastle her brother was struggling with. “We saw the castle you built, and it was just so good,” she explained. “And me and Louis can’t even manage a moat.”

“Well, I’ll teach you how to make a fabulous moat,” Rose declared, then she leaned into the little girl and whispered, “And we’ll make all these other kids jealous.”

The little girl giggled and said, “I’m Elsie.”

“My name’s Rose,” she said, as soon as she was sure Louis could hear her too.

At some point, the Doctor joined them, and for the next hour, the four of them worked on their sandcastle. By the time it was finished, they had three stories and a very large moat. The moat was mostly Louis’s construction, seeing as he was two, and was much more interested in tearing everything down than building it up.

“My, that’s a nice-looking castle you’ve got there,” a woman said, causing everyone to look up.

“Mommy!” Elsie exclaimed, hugging the woman.

“Sorry,” Rose said, standing up and dusting the sand off her knees. “They just asked for help, and I couldn’t really say no.”

“Oh, it’s fine,” the woman said. “I’ve been watching you all this whole time. You’re really good with kids. Are you thinking about having some of your own?”

“Oh, no,” Rose said, nervously, unsure how to discuss that with a perfect stranger.

“Oh, I’m sorry,” the woman said. “You two just look like such a nice couple, and you’re so good with them…”

“We don’t really have a lifestyle that would be conducive for kids,” Rose replied, not looking at the woman or the Doctor.

“Ah,” the woman said, nodding in understanding. “Well, it was nice to meet you, but Elsie, Louis, and I really need to be going.”

“Of course,” Rose said. “Bye guys.”

“Thank you Rose!” Else called, and Louis waved his chubby little fist at her.

“We should probably get back to the TARDIS,” the Doctor said. “The sun is getting ready to set.”

**********************************************************************************************************************

“Rose,” the Doctor said thoughtfully as she climbed into bed next to him.

“Hmm?”

“Earlier today, when we were talking to those kids’ mother,” the Doctor said.

“What about it?”

The Doctor sighed, “You said we aren’t having kids because our lifestyle isn’t conducive to them.”

“Well, it’s not,” Rose replied.

“Yeah, but I’ve never asked it you wanted them,” the Doctor said.

“It’s not possible, so there’s no real point in talking about it,” Rose said, crossing her arms across her chest.

“But it could be,” he replied.

“No, it couldn’t.”

“We’ve proven we can stay out of trouble if we want,” the Doctor said. “We have for two years. And I doubt it would be boring with children running around, even if we didn’t have all of our crazy adventures.”

“No, Doctor. You don’t understand,” Rose said.

“What don’t I understand?” he asked.

I can’t have kids,” she replied, tears welling up in her eyes.

“What? Rose, look at me,” he said, gently trying to get her attention.

She shook her head. “I can’t.”

“Well, at least tell me what’s wrong.”

“You know how I told you about Jimmy Stone?”

At the mention of the man, anger flared up in the Doctor’s gut. “Yes.”

“I didn’t tell you everything,” she replied quietly. “The time I ended up in the hospital, bad enough that they had to call mum, it was for internal bleeding. Had to have surgery, but it was shoddily done.”

“What do you mean?” he asked.

“Lots of scar tissue and adhesions. Made it so I can’t have kids,” Rose replied.

“We might be able to fix it,” the Doctor said. “With the TARDIS’s med bay, there might be something—”

“Can you guarantee that it would work?”

“Well, no, but—”

Rose finally turned to look at the Doctor, and he could see the pain and fear in her eyes. “Then I don’t want to get my hopes up. I’m fine with the idea of not having kids. I came to terms with it a long time ago. It’s not my only purpose in life. And sure, it might’ve been nice, but I’ve accepted that it can’t happen. I don’t think I could take it if I thought it was possible, only for it not to work.”

The Doctor was silent for a minute, but eventually he nodded and pulled Rose close. “Okay.”

“Thank you,” she whispered.

“I’m sorry about what he did to you,” the Doctor said, pressing a kiss to the top of her head.

“Everyone told me he was trouble, but I didn’t listen. I ran off with him anyway.”

“Doesn’t mean you deserved it,” the Doctor said. “No one deserves that.”

“The past is the past,” Rose shrugged, laying down and shutting her eyes. The Doctor thought she was almost asleep when he heard her whisper, “I’m sorry, Doctor.”

“What for?” he asked.

“I can’t give you kids. I saw the way you looked at the ones on the beach today.”

“Rose,” he said, cuddling up next to her. “You are the only thing I need.”

“I love you.”

“I love you, too.”

Chapter Text

“Rose, what are you doing?” the Doctor asked as he followed her into the console room.

“I’m going to Martha’s,” she declared.

“Why?” the Doctor asked as he watched her input the coordinates.

“Because at least I know she cares about me,” Rose replied coldly.

“Now Rose, come on. Please, let’s just talk about this,” the Doctor sighed.

“No.”

“You’re being ridiculous,” the Doctor said.

“Martha wouldn’t say that to me,” Rose said as they landed in Martha’s new flat. Completely ignoring the Doctor’s protests, she walked out into the living room.

“Rose?” Martha asked as she came out of her room, dressed for work. “Is something wrong?”

“Yes,” Rose declared, sitting down on the couch. “Him.”

Martha turned on the Doctor, who had just walked wearily out of the TARDIS. “What did you do?”

“Nothing!” he exclaimed.

“Go on, tell her what you said,” Rose replied, crossing her arms.

The Doctor rolled his eyes. “Rose has a cold, and I made one joke about her human immune system, and now she’ll hardly speak to me. Apparently, she wants a ‘real’ doctor to take care of her.”

Martha looked between the couple silently for a moment and then burst out laughing. “Seriously? That’s what all this is about?”

“I’m sick, and all he can do is make fun of me!” Rose protested before she broke out in a fit of sneezing.

Martha chuckled sadly, “Aw, you poor thing. But there isn’t much I can do for you. Other than some normal Earth medicines. There’s no cure for the common cold. At least, not one I’ve got. He might have something.”

“There’s never really a cure for colds. They keep on evolving, a lot like humans. I do have something that will help, but she won’t take it,” the Doctor explained.

“Well, while I’d love to stay and spend the day with you, I can’t,” Martha said. “I need to go into work. I just got a call that there are some new aliens that they’ve found, and UNIT wants me to take a look.”

“Well, take him with you,” Rose grumbled. “Since the two of you are thick as thieves.”

The Doctor laughed at that, “Oh no, Martha. Now you’re on her bad side too!”

“I don’t want to leave you alone, though,” Martha said. “You’re clearly not thinking rationally.”

“I am too!” Rose said through a fit of coughs.

“Rose,” Martha started, but then she heard the doorbell ring. “Just one second, I don’t know who that is.”

She opened the door to see her mother. “Martha? Where are you going?” Francine asked.

“I just got called into work,” she replied. “But what are you doing here?”

“Work? But it’s Saturday!” Francine exclaimed. “And I wanted to see your new flat. Since you still haven’t invited me over since you moved in.”

“So you’re free?” Martha asked.

“Yes, I am. Why?”

“Because Rose and the Doctor just showed up. Rose has a cold, and apparently the Doctor isn’t being sympathetic enough, so she won’t let him take care of her. But I feel bad leaving her alone here. Will you watch her?” Martha asked.

Francine stepped in the room right as Rose yelled, “I’m not a child! I don’t need a babysitter.”

“Oh dear,” Francine said as she took a look at Rose, sitting there shivering on the couch. “You look terrible.” She grabbed a blanket off the back of another chair and wrapped it around Rose’s shoulders.

“At least someone seems to care that I’m dying,” Rose declared dramatically.

As Martha’s phone chimed with a text asking her where she was, she said, “Great. You two have fun. We’ll be back as soon as we can. Come on, Doctor.”

“Are you sure we should leave them alone?” the Doctor asked Martha as they walked the short distance to UNIT HQ.

“Yeah, they’ll be fine. Mum had three kids. She knows how to take care of someone with a cold.

**********************************************************************************************************************

Back in Martha’s apartment, Francine had moved into the kitchen. “How do you take your tea?”

“A sugar and a splash of milk,” Rose called back.

A minute later, Francine walked in with two cups of tea. “Here you go,” she said, handing one cup to Rose. “Tea might not actually cure anything, but I’ve found it often makes you feel better.”

“My mum used to say almost the same thing,” Rose replied.

“Must have been a smart woman then,” Francine said, sitting on a chair across from Rose.

“She’d have laughed to hear you say that,” Rose smiled.

“If you don’t mind me asking,” Francine said, “Martha said that you lost your mother, but she still hasn’t told me how.”

“She’s not dead, if that’s what you’re wondering,” Rose replied. “She’s actually living in a parallel universe. One where my dad didn’t die when I was a baby, but one where they also didn’t have me. The parallel version of her died, so she decided to go there. Have another chance at a life with the man she loved. But the walls between the universes closed up. Travel between them is impossible. She’s stuck there, and I can’t ever see her again.”

“Oh, I’m so sorry,” Francine said. “And you don’t have any siblings?”

Rose shook her head, “No, well not here anyway. I was able to talk to mum once after she ended up in the parallel universe, and she said she was pregnant. So technically, I have a little brother or sister. I just won’t ever meet them.”

“Oh, that’s such a shame. But you know Martha thinks of you as a sister, right? Goes on and on about you. She’s very adamant that you come to Christmas.”

“I don’t want to intrude, if you want it to just be a family thing,” Rose insisted.

Francine looked taken aback. “Of course not. We’d love to have you. If Martha thinks you’re family, then you’re family. That’s all there is to it.”

“Thank you,” Rose smiled.

“No need for that,” Francine said. “Now, what do you want to do? There’s no telling when Martha and your Doctor will be back.”

“What did you used to do when Martha was sick as a child?” Rose asked.

“Oh, I’d read to her until she fell asleep,” Francine smiled.

“What did you read?”

“Her favorite book when she was little was The Secret Garden. I once read it to her three times in one week because she had the flu, and it was all she wanted to hear,” Francine chuckled.

“I don’t think I’ve read that one,” Rose replied.

“You haven’t?” Francine asked. “But it’s a classic!”

“When I was a kid and I was sick, mum and I would just watch Coronation Street. I wasn’t really much of a reader,” Rose shrugged, pulling the blanket tighter around her.

“Oh I wish I had a copy then, I’d read it to you right now. But I doubt Martha has one here,” Francine said, pointing at the bookshelf that was just filled with medical textbooks.

“The TARDIS library might have it,” Rose suggested. “I could go look.”

“No, I’ll go. You stay there,” Francine replied.

“Are you sure? You’ve never been in the TARDIS before,” Rose said.

“I know it’s bigger on the inside, but I’ll be fine,” Francine said, standing up.

“Go around the console and into the back hallway. It will probably be the fourth door on your right,” Rose explained.

“Alright,” Francine said, pushing open the door and disappearing inside.

When she came out, she looked a little overwhelmed, but she was clutching a small book. “Are you alright?” Rose asked.

“Yes, yes of course I am,” she replied, sitting down on the chair across from Rose. “Go on, lay down and get comfortable.”

“I don’t want to fall asleep,” Rose protested weakly.

“You can’t make it through a sentence without coughing. You need your rest. And if you fall asleep, I’ll stop, and pick back up when you wake up,” Francine argued.

“Alright,” Rose said, laying down and draping the blanket around herself.

“Good, now, here we go,” Francine said. “Chapter one. When Mary Lennox was sent to Misselthwaite Manor to live with her uncle everybody said she was the most disagreeable-looking child ever seen. It was true, too. She had a little thin face and a little thin body, thin light hair and a sour expression. Her hair was yellow, and her face was yellow…”

**********************************************************************************************************************

When Martha and the Doctor left UNIT, they stopped dead in their tracks. “It’s night? How long were we in there?” Martha asked.

“7 hours and 42 minutes,” the Doctor responded instinctively.

“And we left Rose with my mother that whole time?” Martha asked.

“I thought you said they’d be fine!” The Doctor yelled after Martha as she took off running back toward her flat.

“That was when I thought we’d be gone for two or three hours max,” Martha replied. “I don’t even have a television yet. What could they possibly have done for eight hours?

When they got outside the door to the flat, they noticed it was all quiet. Martha hesitantly opened the door. She stopped dead in her tracks at what she heard.

“’Look there,’ he said, ‘if tha's curious. Look what's comin' across th' grass.’” Her mother read.

“When Mrs. Medlock looked she threw up her hands and gave a little shriek and every man and woman servant within hearing bolted across the servants' hall and stood looking through the window with their eyes almost starting out of their heads.

“Across the lawn came the Master of Misselthwaite and he looked as many of them had never seen him. And by his side with his head up in the air and his eyes full of laughter walked as strongly and steadily as any boy in Yorkshire—Master Colin! The End,” Francine said, slamming the book shut.

“Oh, that was amazing,” Rose coughed.

“I still can’t believe you never read it,” Francine said, shaking her head. Neither one of them seemed to notice that Martha and the Doctor had gotten back.

“I was never much of a reader until lately. Actually, I first started really reading for fun a couple of days after Martha joined us on the TARDIS. I was pouting about the fact that I hadn’t been consulted, so I spent a few weeks hiding out in my room. Read a lot while I was there. But mostly Dickens, Shakespeare, Austen, that sort of thing. Adult books,” Rose said.

“Don’t underestimate children’s literature,” Francine said. “Frances Hodgson Burnett is one of my favorite authors.”

“Is that what you two have been doing this whole time?” Martha asked.

They both looked over at her, just now registering her presence. “Of course not,” Francine responded. “Rose also took a nap for a little while, and I made some soup for lunch.”

“How are you feeling?” the Doctor asked.

“Better,” Rose replied. “And I’m sorry I was being so dramatic.”

“You really must be feeling better,” Martha joked. “If you’re apologizing for your delusional behavior.”

Rose stuck her tongue out at Martha. “I’m not sorry about this though. I had a lovely time today. Thank you, Francine.”

“Oh, don’t mention it,” Francine said, waving her hands in dismissal. “You need someone to look after you. And since your mother isn’t here to do it, I’ll gladly step in. Especially after everything you’ve done for Martha.”

“Oh, I didn’t really do anything for Martha. Not anything she didn’t do for me,” Rose dismissed.

“You kept her sane and optimistic through that hell. We’re all still adjusting back, but Martha’s better off than the rest of us, and we have you to thank for that,” Francine smiled.

“It really wasn’t me. That’s just Martha,” Rose protested.

“Oh, give it up, Rose. Arguing with mum won’t do you any good. Trust me. I’ve had my whole life to learn that,” Martha laughed.

“Are you ready to go home, Rose?” the Doctor asked. “Will you now accept some medicine from me that will make you feel better faster?”

“Not if you’re going to keep being so condescending about it!” Rose teased.

The Doctor chuckled. “Go on inside the TARDIS, love.”

Rose gave Martha and Francine each a quick hug, and then headed to the library. She trusted the TARDIS would tell the Doctor where she was.

The Doctor lingered outside though. He turned to Francine, “Thank you so much for whatever you did today.”

“I just took care of her, like she was one of my own kids. She deserves to have someone who’ll take care of her,” Francine shrugged.

“You remind me a lot of Jackie,” the Doctor remarked.

“Jackie?” Francine asked.

“Her mother,” the Doctor explained.

“Really?” Francine asked. “How so?”

“Well, maybe it’s just the fact that you both slapped me. You know, those are the only two times I’ve ever been slapped by someone’s mum? In over 900 years of time and space. You are the only two mums to ever slap me,” the Doctor rambled.

“I have a feeling you generally deserve it,” Francine said, pointedly not apologizing for the time she had slapped him. “What did you do to make her mad?”

“I brought Rose home a year late,” he said, rubbing the back of his neck awkwardly.

“A year late?” Francine exclaimed.

“Yeah, the first time I was trying to bring her home for a visit. It was supposed to be 12 hours, but somehow things got messed up and it had been 12 months. There was a missing person campaign and all. Her boyfriend actually ended up a suspect for murder before she turned back up,” the Doctor explained.

“Well I never,” Francine mumbled. “No wonder she slapped you.”

“Hey, it was an accident!” he protested. “And I still blame the TARDIS for that.”

“Yeah, sure,” Martha chuckled. “Blame the ship.”

“Whose side are you on?” the Doctor asked in mock indignation.

Martha rolled her eyes. “Go on and go take care of Rose. We’ll see you at Christmas, yeah?”

“If we’re invited,” the Doctor said, looking to Francine for permission.

“What is it with the two of you and being invited? Of course you’re invited!” Francine said. “Honestly.”

“Well, thank you again,” the Doctor said.

“It was my pleasure,” Francine said. “Now go on. Get inside and take care of her, Doctor.”

The Doctor waved one more time and stepped into the TARDIS. He quickly threw them into the vortex and then made his way to the med bay to pick up what he needed. Once he had everything, he went to the kitchen and made some tea, before finally asking the TARDIS where Rose was. She quickly led him to the library, where Rose was curled up in front of the fire.

“Still running a fever?” the Doctor asked.

“It comes and it goes,” Rose shrugged.

“Here, take this,” the Doctor said, handing Rose a pill and her cup of tea before settling down next to her on the couch. She instinctively curled up next to him, and he laughed. “So you’ve forgiven me then?”

“Oh, shut up,” she grumbled.

“I am sorry you aren’t feeling well,” the Doctor replied.

“I know,” she said. “Mum always used to say that I was dramatic when I had a cold. I was fine if it was something major, but if it was something that was a minor inconvenience, I always used to act like I was dying.”

“What do you mean?” he asked.

“Well,” she replied. “You saw how I acted today when I had a cold. But when I was eleven, I had the flu. I kept trying to get mum to let me go to school. Insisted I was fine. That was actually why she took me to the doctor in the first place. She could tell I didn’t feel well, but I wasn’t milking it for all it was worth. Ended up having to miss a whole week of school.”

“For most students, that’s a dream scenario,” the Doctor chuckled.

“Oh, I wasn’t upset about missing the classwork,” she replied. “I just didn’t want to miss the socializing part.”

“Ahhh,” the Doctor said. “That sounds more realistic.” She elbowed him. “Ow!”

“Come on Doctor, read something to me,” she said.

“What do you want me to read?” He asked. “We never did finish A Christmas Carol.”

“Actually…” Rose said guiltily, “I might have read it in a fit of rage when I was mad about you giving Martha a key…”

“That’s where it was?” he asked.

“What do you mean?” Rose asked.

“After I did that, I was going to come confess, tell you what happened. I knew you’d be upset. So I was going to take A Christmas Carol as a bit of a peace offering. But I thought the TARDIS was hiding it from me. But no! You took it!” He exclaimed.

“I’m sorry I read it without you,” Rose said. “I just…I don’t know. I wanted to make you feel the way I was feeling.”

“And how was that?” the Doctor asked. Three years ago, at the beginning of their relationship, he never would have started a conversation like that. He used to spend so much time worried that she would leave if he said the wrong thing. But he had come to realize that she wasn’t going anywhere, and talking about things actually made them better.

“Replaceable,” she whispered.

“What do you mean?” he asked.

“I felt like Martha was taking over my spot in your life. I felt like Sarah Jane. So I sort of wanted to show you that if you didn’t need me, I didn’t need you,” Rose replied, snuggling up closer to him, but still not looking directly at him.

“Rose Tyler, I will always need you,” the Doctor said, tilting her chin up so that she was looking at him. “Never doubt that.”

“I love you, Doc—” the rest of her sentence and the tender moment were ruined by another large sneeze.

“I love you too, Rose,” he laughed. “Even when you sneeze on me.”

Chapter Text

“Rose? Are you ready yet?” The Doctor yelled from the door of the TARDIS.

“Go on ahead and get us some skates,” Rose replied, her voice echoing down the hall.

The Doctor sighed, but he did close the door. Rose and the TARDIS were up to something, but he had learned a while ago that if they wanted it to be a surprise, it would be.

Not that he could see what the surprise was going to be. Normally, Rose would show up in some dress that perfectly accentuated her curves or was almost too short to be decent. But today they were on the planet of Hielo, and it was far too cold for any of that. Even with his superior Time Lord biology, he found himself shivering a bit against the cold. There was no way Rose was going to come out dressed to the nines.

The Doctor got them skates, then headed back to wait outside the TARDIS. Rose stepped out looking perfectly reasonable for the weather, except for one thing. “Where did you get that?”

Rose twirled the ends of the scarf and giggled, “The Old Girl showed it to me.”

“You can’t wear that, you’ll trip over it and kill yourself,” he exclaimed.

“I’ve got it wrapped up far enough that it won’t interfere with my skating,” Rose shrugged. “Besides, if I do, I’ll be fine.”

“Rose! I thought we agreed not to joke about that,” the Doctor gasped.

Rose rolled her eyes, “Doctor, it’s a fact now. I can’t die. You really need to get used to it.”

“It’s not funny,” he protested.

“You’re one to talk, what with all the regeneration jokes. And at least you have some warning about it all,” Rose replied, taking her skates from him and walking over to a bench to put them on. “When you regenerated, I had no idea what was happening.”

“I said I was sorry,” he said.

“It should be standard practice to tell companions about the possibility,” Rose said. “So no one else has to go through what I did, trying to figure out if you were really you.”

“Well, you’re here now to smooth all that over,” the Doctor replied. “And are we picking up a new companion any time soon?”

“I don’t know,” Rose replied, standing up and wobbling slightly on her skates before they made their way to the skating rink. “Probably some day. The past few years have been fun, but we can’t live like that forever. We’ll go mad.”

“Looks like you’re already starting to,” the Doctor chuckled, pointing to the scarf.

“Hey! You wore it first,” Rose protested.

“I had terrible fashion sense in that body,” he shuddered.

“Just that one?” Rose asked, raising an eyebrow at him. “I do seem to remember actually meeting a version of you that wore a decorative vegetable.”

“Okay, okay,” he said, holding up his hands in mock surrender. “I’ll admit I made some questionable decisions when I was younger.”

“Younger,” Rose snorted.

“What’s that supposed to mean?”

“You wanna know? You’ll have to catch me,” Rose laughed, skating off as quickly as she could.

They skated around the frozen lake for half an hour before Rose finally slowed down. The Doctor skated up behind her and wrapped his arms around her. “Gotcha,” he whispered in her ear.

“Only cause I let you,” Rose smiled, leaning back into his chest.

“Let’s go home,” he said, holding her tight as she shivered against the cold.

“Can we at least get some hot chocolate to go?” Rose asked. “You were going on about it earlier.”

“When have I ever been able to tell you no?”

They got their hot chocolate and headed to the library, where the TARDIS already had a fire going. They stripped off their extra layers and curled up on the rug in front of the fireplace. As they sat there, sipping hot chocolate, the Doctor asked, “Did you really mean it?”

“Mean what?”

“What you said about finding a new companion.”

Rose turned to look at the Doctor, “You seem nervous about it.”

He shrugged. “It just didn’t go so well last time. I don’t want to go weeks without seeing you again.”

Rose rolled her eyes, “That wasn’t because you found a new companion, it was because I didn’t have a say in it. I was hoping that we could agree on a person next time someone traveled with us.”

“Yeah?”

“Yeah,” Rose said. “Also, it would nice if we made our relationship clear from the get go. No more mixed signals.”

“Agreed,” the Doctor said, leaning forward to kiss Rose. “So, a new companion?”

Rose laughed at the Doctor’s eagerness. “What, you bored of me already?”

“What?” the Doctor said, his face going pale. “No, that’s not, Rose, you know—”

She shut him up with a kiss. “I’m only teasing you, Doctor. But let’s do Christmas with the Jones’s first. Then we’ll see about finding someone to travel with us.”

“Are you ready for Christmas?” he asked.

Rose nodded, “I think so. I’m not going to lie, it’ll be hard. I’ve never done Christmas without my mum. But she’s living her life, and it’s time I live mine. It’s what she’d want.”

“Christmas it is,” the Doctor said, standing up.

“Whoa, hold on, Doctor,” Rose said.

“What now?”

“You’re forgetting something,” Rose smiled, taking his outstretched hand and standing up next to him.

“What’s that?” he asked.

Rose grinned, “Presents.”

Chapter Text

“Okay, so now we can mark Tish off the list,” Rose said as the Doctor paid for their purchase.

“How many presents do we need to get?” he sighed.

“We’re getting something for everyone,” Rose said. “And you’re lucky I’m letting you tag along on my gifts because you’d be hopeless at this on your own.

“I would not!” he argued.

“When’s the last time you bought Christmas presents, Doctor?” Rose asked.

“I , well, I must have…”

“Exactly,” Rose smiled.

“I’ve never done this premeditated Christmas thing,” he protested.

“Premeditated?” she asked.

“Yeah,” he replied. “Normally, if I celebrate Christmas, it’s because I’ve landed during Christmas. Like that year with your mum and Mickey. That was probably the most organized Christmas I’ve ever had!”

“Well,” Rose smiled, “get used to it because we’re going to do Christmas right.”

“Right? Who are you to say what the right way to celebrate Christmas is? I’ll have you know that on the planet of—” The Doctor shut up quickly at the amused look he was getting from Rose. “Alright, fine, we’ll do it your way. But come on, who do we have left?”

“Just Martha,” Rose said. “And I know exactly what to get her. I remember seeing some mugs in this market that are vaguely telepathic. They keep your drink at whatever temperature you want it. And whenever I call, Martha is always complaining about how her work distracts her, and how her coffee always manages to get cold before she manages to finish it.”

“What about you?”

“I’m not getting myself a present, Doctor,” Rose grinned.

“Yes, but I need to get you something, and I’m pretty sure I haven’t seen you get anything for me,” he said, trying to ignore Rose’s mocking tone.

Rose shrugged, “My gift for you isn’t something I need to purchase. But how about this? We meet back at the TARDIS in an hour? That’ll give me time to get Martha’s gift, and you can do whatever you need to.”

“Perfect,” the Doctor smiled, giving Rose a quick kiss before strolling off into the marketplace. Despite being the one to bring up gifts, he had no idea what to get Rose. What do you get the woman who means everything?

After half an hour of wandering, the Doctor still hadn’t seen anything that caught his eye. The entire planet was a market, but nothing was good enough for Rose. He also knew there wasn’t really anything she needed. He had made her a sonic of her own for her 27th birthday, and anything else she needed, the TARDIS could provide. Any time he asked her what she wanted, she always laughed and joked that he had already given her the universe, so what more could she possibly ask for?

He glanced halfheartedly at a jewelry display, the fourteenth he had passed, when something caught his eye. He picked it up and turned it slowly in his hands as the idea formed in his mind. Looking up at the vendor, he grinned and said, “How much?”

**********************************************************************************************************************

“Ready?” Rose asked the Doctor as she took her place next to the console. They had already put in the coordinates for Francine’s house on Christmas Day, and Rose had just finished triple checking the presents on the jump seat to make sure they had everything.

“I think I should be asking you that,” the Doctor chuckled. “You’ve checked the presents a hundred times, love. None of them are going to get up and walk away.”

“Sorry, I just want to be sure everything’s perfect. This Christmas isn’t going to be like any I’ve had before. It was usually just me and Mum and Mickey. There are going to be so many people there today,” Rose said, biting her thumb nervously.

“It’s going to be fine,” the Doctor reassured her. “Everyone there loves you.”

“Half of them barely know me!”

“Rose, calm down. Martha would never ask you to do something you weren’t ready for,” the Doctor argued.

“I know, it’s just…I don’t know how to do Christmas without Mum. And I want to, I really do, but I’m just worried that it’ll be too much,” she whispered, tears in her eyes.

“I know,” he sighed. “But if it is, you’ll have me, and Jack, and Martha, and Sarah Jane. Not to mention Francine, who I think has practically adopted you as one of her own. So if something gets to be too much, at least you’ll be surrounded by the people in this universe that love you the most.”

She leaned into his side, and he wrapped an arm around her waist as he kissed the top of her head. “Thank you,” she whispered.

“Of course,” he whispered back.

Rose pulled away and took her normal position around the console. “Okay, I’m ready. Let’s go celebrate Christmas.”

Throwing the materialization lever, the Doctor grinned, “Allons-y, Rose Tyler.”

They landed gently and had barely pushed open the doors when an entire room full of people yelled, “Merry Christmas!”

Rose took a deep breath to steady herself and hoisted the presents in her arms as she smiled and went to greet everyone. Francine was the first to reach her, and she immediately swept the presents out of Rose’s hands and sat them under the tree saying, “Really, Rose. You didn’t have to do this.”

“It’s Christmas,” Rose shrugged. “And you all are letting me and the Doctor celebrate with your family. It’s the least we could do.”

“What did I tell you?” Francine said, shaking her head as she pulled Rose into a hug. “You are family.”

Everyone took turns greeting Rose and the Doctor, and then they all got seated around the table for Christmas dinner. It turned out that even with a time machine, they were the last of the group to arrive. Dinner was easier than Rose expected, and she found that she liked Martha’s family a lot. Even Leo, who didn’t have any first-hand memories of the year-that-never-was, was more than willing to just accept that Rose was a part of the family. It didn’t feel forced, and Rose found herself relaxing. She had been worried that Christmas with the Joneses would be a formal affair, very different from the simple Christmas meal her mum had always made, but the easy way the family laughed and joked with each other made Rose feel right at home.

After dinner, everyone moved into the living room for presents. Seeing as Leo’s baby was still too young to really understand, it was decided that Luke would go first, as the only other child in the room.

“But, what do I do, exactly?” Luke asked, glancing up at his mother.

“What do you mean, what do you do?” Francine asked.

“It’s Luke’s first Christmas,” Sarah Jane explained.

“First Christmas?” Francine asked.

“I was grown in a lab by an alien race called the Bane,” Luke explained.

Francine looked vaguely alarmed, and Rose made a mental note to have Martha give her mother a more detailed rundown of Luke’s history later. But Francine soldiered on, quickly locating all of the presents for Luke, and placing them in a pile around him before telling him to just start ripping open packages. Rose smiled, and Martha moved over to stand next to Rose.

“Looks like you aren’t mum’s newest adopted child,” Martha said, elbowing Rose.

“You’re going to have to explain Luke’s history to her,” Rose replied. “Did you see the look on her face?”

“Yeah,” Martha sighed. “It’s not really going to help with her accepting that not all aliens are bad. She’s having a hard enough time accepting the Doctor as is.”

Rose laughed, but their conversation was cut short as Francine started passing out the rest of the presents, and the room descended into a flurry of activity as everyone opened all of their presents.

**********************************************************************************************************************

“What are you doing out here?” the Doctor asked as he finally found Rose standing in Francine's front lawn.

Rose pointed up in the sky. “We’ve all been so busy in there that nobody even noticed that.”

The Doctor looked up to see the broken up remains of the Titanic as snow fell gently to Earth. “We’re up there somewhere.”

“It feels like so long ago,” Rose said. “Back then, an adventure was the last thing I wanted.”

“Yeah,” the Doctor replied, staring up at the ship.

“Doctor,” Rose said, drawing his attention back to her. “I told you that my gift to you wasn’t exactly something I could wrap. Calling it a gift is even a bit of stretch. But with the life we live, I couldn’t really think of anything you needed.”

“Rose? What are you talking about?”

“Doctor, I think it’s time we get back out there. Go get in some trouble, save some planets,” Rose smiled. “I know you’ve missed it, and I have too. And I think I’m ready.”

“Really?” he asked, grinning.

“I wouldn’t have suggested it if I wasn’t sure,” she grinned back. “And I meant what I said about a companion. Maybe we won’t find one right away, but if we happen to find someone we both like, I don’t see any reason why we shouldn’t invite them along.”

The Doctor picked Rose up and spun her around. They were both laughing as he sat her back on the ground and pulled her in for a deep kiss. When he finally pulled back, he blinked at her for a second, sure there was something he was forgetting.

“Ah!” He exclaimed, digging around in his pocket for the small box he had placed in there earlier. “Your present!”

“Doctor,” Rose said, “you didn’t have to get me anything.”

“Just open it,” the Doctor said, pressing the small box into her hand.

She opened it to reveal a ring, with a TARDIS blue stone on a silver band. It was simple and sturdy, but still elegant. She looked back at the Doctor, only to find him kneeling on the ground.

“Rose Marion Tyler,” he said, taking her left hand. “When I met you, I was a broken man. I had survived a war, but I didn’t see much point in living. Then you stumbled into my life, all pink and yellow and perfect, and the world became wonderful again. It hasn’t always been easy for us, and I can’t promise I won’t still be an idiot from time to time, but I love you with both my hearts. I never considered the Universe a kind place until it brought you into my life, and every day I spend with you is better than the last. I don’t deserve you, but I will spend every day for the rest of forever trying to be worthy of you, if you’ll let me. So, Rose Tyler, will you marry me?”

Rose threw her arms around the Doctor and kissed him soundly, and they were both unaware of the small crowd that had gathered at the window to watch them.

Chapter Text

Rose wasn’t even entirely inside the house when Martha grabbed her hand and said, “Let me see it!”

“Doctor, you didn’t even tell us you were going to propose!” Sarah Jane chided him.

“And isn’t it all a bit fast?” Francine asked, eying him warily.

At that Rose laughed. “Well, we’ve known each other since I was 19, and I’m 30 now, so I don’t think fast is the right word for it.”

“Besides, we’ve properly been a couple for over five years now,” the Doctor replied. “And I couldn’t have told any of you because then you would have acted strange all night and Rose would have figured it out!”

“Is that your way of saying you didn’t even think about letting us in on the surprise?” Jack asked, raising a brow skeptically.

The Doctor snorted and everyone in the room laughed because they all knew the Doctor well enough to know that Jack was right. Rose sat down on the couch to tell everyone the proposal story, and everyone gathered round to look at the ring.

The Doctor stood back as he tried to think of the best way to ask Rose the other question he had in mind.

**********************************************************************************************************************

The next day, Rose followed the Doctor into the console room. “What are you up to?” she asked.

“Nothing,” he lied. Rose raised an eyebrow and he backtracked, “Okay, fine, I’m up to something, but it’s a surprise. Just go get dressed. The Old Girl knows what I’m planning, and she’ll help you pick something out.”

“I thought we were gonna start travelling again?”

“We are,” the Doctor replied. “But there’s something we need to talk about first, and there’s one other thing I want to do before we get back out there.”

“Okay,” Rose replied, turning around and walking back toward the wardrobe room without protest.

The Doctor let out a sigh of relief. He was nervous enough as it was, he didn’t really think he could go through with his plan if Rose didn’t want to be there. As he went over his speech for the millionth time in his head, Rose came back into the room and interrupted his thoughts by clearing her throat. The Doctor’s first coherent thought after seeing her was that the TARDIS had really outdone herself. Rose was dressed in a tightfitting silver dress that shimmered a deep blue when she moved. Her hair was pulled up, with a few wispy curls framing her face. Her only jewelry was her white-point star necklace and her engagement ring.

“So, where are we going?” she asked, strolling down to the console.

“Um, well,” the Doctor started, trying to restart his brain. “I thought since we had just celebrated Christmas, we should also celebrate New Year’s.”

“Oh!” Rose gasped. “We’re getting ready to start a new chapter of our lives, what with getting back to travelling and all, so why not just make it a new year!”

“Exactly,” the Doctor smiled.

“So, when and where are we celebrating?” she asked.

“There’s a little planet called Taifeach that is throwing a huge party in the year 3500,” the Doctor explained.

“Well, what are we waiting for?” Rose asked as she threw the materialization lever. As soon as they had landed, she threw open the doors, and the Doctor followed her out into the party.

“I’ll go get us some drinks,” the Doctor said as Rose stood by the window, looking out at the purple mountains of Taifeach.

A few minutes later, he came back, and Rose took hers gladly. “It’s so beautiful, Doctor. Thank you.”

“Of course,” he smiled, pressing a kiss to her forehead.

“But Doctor,” she said, pulling back and putting a hand on his arm. “What’s up? You’ve been acting weird all day, and you also said that there was something we needed to talk about.”

“Yes, well, you see,” he started, his entire speech flooding out of his head as he actually looked at Rose.

She sighed and leaned forward to place a gentle kiss on his lips. “Doctor, it’s just me, yeah? You know you can tell me anything.”

Looking into her eyes, the Doctor realized that she really meant that, so he decided to just get it over with and ask her. “Rose, you know I’m telepathic, right?”

“Of course,” she replied, furrowing her brow.

“Well, because Time Lords were telepathic, we had a different kind of marriage. We called it bonding, and basically it meant that the couple linked their minds. It allowed them to feel each other’s emotions and communicate telepathically, among other things.”

“So you want to bond with me?” Rose asked.

“Well, yes, if you want to,” the Doctor said quickly. “And technically there are two types of marriage bonds. The full marriage bond had gone out of fashion on Gallifrey long before I was born. It couldn’t ever be broken, and it was much more intense and personal than a temporary bond, so political marriages never really used them, and the last love-match on Gallifrey happened a few centuries before I was born. So if you wanted—”

“I’d love to bond with you,” Rose grinned, cutting him off before his rambling got out of hand.

“Really?” he asked, a grin stretching across his face.

“Really,” she smiled. “But tell me more about the type of bonds.”

“Well, the temporary bond started out as a type of engagement,” he explained. “That was the original purpose. You’re still aware of your bond mate and can feel their emotions all the time, but to communicate telepathically, you have to be in the same room. The connection isn’t as deep or intense. It links you so that other telepathic beings are aware that you are bonded to someone, but it isn’t as serious as a full bond.”

“What makes a full bond so serious?” Rose asked.

“A full bond is permanent. There’s no hiding or secrets over one. You can’t lie to your bondmate. They’d know immediately. And distance doesn’t matter when it comes to telepathically communicating. But the big thing is if one bondmate dies.”

“What happens if one bondmate dies?” Rose asked.

“Have you ever heard of someone dying a broken heart?” Rose nodded, so the Doctor continued, “That idea comes from the Time Lords. If one half of a bonded pair dies, the bond breaks, and the pain was said to be so intense that the remaining bondmate goes insane and eventually dies. The longest a fully-bonded Gallifreyan ever made it after the death of a bondmate was three days.”

“What kind of bond do you want?” Rose asked.

“Whichever bond you want,” he replied. “I’ll take whatever you’ll give me.”

“Doctor,” Rose said, taking his hand. “I love you with all my heart, and that’s never gonna change. But you seem hesitant about a full bond, so if you just want a temporary bond—”

“No,” he interrupted. “I’d love a full bond. I just need you to know what you’re getting into. It means forever, and I don’t think I could take it if you one day came to regret it.”

“I’m never gonna regret it because I promised you forever, Doctor,” Rose smiled.

“Yeah?” he asked.

“Yeah. But, you said the temporary bond started off like an engagement?” Rose asked.

“Yes, that was the original purpose. So the couple could learn to live with each other before making it permanent,” he explained.

“Well, then we’re already engaged by the customs of my world,” Rose smiled, looking down at her ring. “Let’s get engaged by the customs of yours.”

“Really?” he asked.

“Will you stop being surprised that I love you and want to be with you in any way possible?” Rose laughed.

“Right, of course.”

“And if it would make you feel better, I’ll read up on bonds while we’re engaged. I know I’m not going to change my mind, but at least you’ll be able to calm down and realize I’m going into it fully prepared,” Rose replied.

“How long do you want to be engaged for?” the Doctor asked. “I know humans normally set a date for a wedding, but with us being time travelers…”

“Oh, don’t worry about that,” Rose replied. “The TARDIS and I were talking while I got dressed. She said we need to wait, but that we’ll know when the time is right. There are apparently a few things we’re still missing that we need before our wedding can be perfect.”

“What could we possibly be missing?” the Doctor asked.

Rose shrugged. “I have no idea because the TARDIS was being intentionally vague, but the Old Girl insisted we would just know when the time was right.”

“Well,” he replied, “if it wasn’t for the TARDIS, I wouldn’t have forever with you, so I’m not about to argue with her!”

Rose laughed and kissed him. “Now, about this temporary bond…”

“Right! Okay, the first part of the bond is that I need to tell you my name. Well, my family name. Every Gallifreyan has two names: a family one and a personal one. On Gallifrey, the only people who can know a family name are the members of that family. That’s why the family name is shared during a temporary bond. The personal name is only shared as a part of the full marriage bond. You will be the only person, other than myself, to ever know that name. You can’t ever tell anyone,” The Doctor explained.

“Okay,” Rose nodded. The Doctor leaned forward and whispered a Gallifreyan phrase into her ear. She had never heard it before, but somehow she knew exactly what it meant. “That’s beautiful, Doctor.”

The Doctor just nodded and continued, “Now, place your fingers on my temple, and I’ll do the same to you. I’m going to have to have to go into your mind. I should be able to set up the temporary bond on my own, but we’ll need to work on your telepathy before we set up the full bond because that is much more complicated and requires both parties to be skilled telepaths.”

Rose placed her fingers on his temple, and he mirrored the action. Rose closed her eyes when she felt something brush against her mind. It didn’t feel like the TARDIS. The TARDIS’s thoughts masqueraded as her own, but this felt like the Doctor. That was the only way Rose could describe it. She wasn’t entirely sure what the Doctor was doing, but the longer he was doing it, the more clear it became. Rose could actually hear the Doctor’s voice as he said something in Gallifreyan in her mind, but it sounded distant. She followed the sound of his voice until it sounded like he was standing right next to her. Before she could begin to think about what the Doctor was saying, she felt a sharp prick in her mind and her eyes flew open.

“Sorry about that,” the Doctor said. “I forgot to warn you about the bond snapping into place.”

“That’s okay,” Rose said.

“Try saying it in your head, love,” the Doctor said, and that was when Rose realized he wasn’t moving his mouth. “All you have to do is think about telling me something, and I should be able to hear it. It’s a bit hard to explain how to communicate telepathically because I’ve always known how to. It’s like trying to explain how breathe. You know how to do it, but any explanation of it sounds awkward and incomplete.”

“Like this?” Rose asked him in her head.

“Exactly!” he gasped, shocked at the way she did it perfectly on her first try.

“Have you seriously forgotten that I can talk to the TARDIS like this?” she asked, raising an eyebrow. “I might talk to her out loud sometimes, just because it’s more natural to me, but I talk to her like this a lot too.”

“This is how you and the TARDIS talk?” the Doctor asked. Even after five years of knowing that Rose and the TARDIS could communicate at levels unheard of in Gallifreyan society, he was still struggling to understand exactly how she did it.

“Sort of,” Rose said. “It’s not exactly the same. Talking to you feels like I’m talking to someone else, but it’s hard to separate the TARDIS’s consciousness from my own.”

“Hmm….” The Doctor said. “I wonder if—”

“Sh!” Rose said, out loud this time. “They’ve started the countdown! It’s almost midnight!”

Sure enough, the Doctor could hear the people around them slowly counting down from twenty. Rose and the Doctor joined in the countdown, then happily took part in the old New Year’s tradition of sharing a kiss at midnight.

“Happy New Year,” the Doctor said to Rose, telepathically so that they didn’t have to break their kiss.

“Happy New Year, Doctor,” Rose replied, her happiness and love echoing across her new bond to the Doctor.