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The Wolf's Way Home

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Rose could barely say the words. The three words that had been left unsaid by her for over two years. The words that had plagued her mind these past five months since she had been separated from the Doctor. Rose swallowed down the lump in her throat, fearing the Doctor's reaction to her words, but somehow, she was able to force them out.

 

”I love you.” Rose said with a sob, her voice breaking as she let out a shaky breath. The early December wind - chillier than she was used to back home - blew strands of her golden hair in her face, obscuring her vision of the Doctor. His projection was standing just a few feet from Rose, who yearned more than anything that she could touch him one last time. But she couldn’t. He wasn’t actually there. 

 

Watching the Doctor nod and smile at her confession, the urge to run up to hug him became harder to resist and for a moment, Rose swore she could hear a soft singing. It was a calming and strangely familiar presence in the back of her head, telling her it would be alright. She allowed the song to calm her as was its purpose, and tried to focus on where it was coming from, but the Doctor began to speak before she could place it. 

 

Rose pulled the stray strands of hair from her face, looked straight into her Doctor's eyes and watched him with mixed feelings as he spoke to her. He looked back at Rose with such warmth, that it momentarily made her forget this was goodbye and when he spoke, his voice was filled with such adoration, Rose could almost sense it. She wanted to drown in that feeling. The TARDIS key in her pocket, that she always carried with her, felt warm against her thigh, and she reflexively reached for it without realizing. Her whole being was concentrated on the Doctor's image, his final words to her before she had to say goodbye forever.

 

”Rose Tyler...”

 

Silence fell upon Bad Wolf Bay. The Doctor’s image was gone. The key in Rose's pocket went stone cold, and the warm, calming singing in her head ended abruptly. The headache she’d already gotten from crying worsened, and Rose nearly doubled over in pain as she let out a heartbroken whimper. She let the tears fall down her face, eyes stinging from the make-up mixing with them and pooling in her orbs. She hung her head and did her best to breathe despite the feeling that something was constricting her throat, blocking her airways.

 

The moment Rose was able to draw in a lungful of air, she raised her head. Without a second thought, Rose turned to her mother, her cheeks stained black from the layers of makeup that were running down her face, and ran. She didn't stop until she felt her mother's arms wrap her into a warm embrace and hands rubbing her back in gentle strokes. Through her sobs, Rose could hear her mother whispering to her that everything would be alright, and allowed the words to soothe her until she stopped crying. 

 

”Let's go home, sweetheart, eh? I'll make you a nice cuppa tea once we get there.” Jackie said lovingly to her daughter, hugging her close as she led her back to where Pete and Mickey were standing, waiting for them with open arms. Rose allowed both men to hug her, before they started to lead her off the beach, Mickey taking hold of her hand in an effort to comfort her. As they walked, Rose couldn't help one last glance at the spot where the Doctor's projection had stood before they turned around the corner, away from Bad Wolf Bay. Rose felt something tug at her heartstrings, but before the tears could return, she looked away and continued towards the rental car, her throbbing headache slowly abating to somewhat bearable levels.

 

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The car drive back to the hotel seemed to go on for ages for Rose, as she stared at the buildings passing by. Colorful graffiti decorated many of the walls, but Rose paid no attention to them as she did her best to keep her emotions in check, also trying to ignore the still pounding ache in her skull. It was only when Pete stopped the car at the hotel's parking lot that Rose first bothered to look more closely at the text that adorned the concrete walls around them. Directly in front of their rental vehicle was golden, swirly graffiti, beautifully painted on the concrete. As Rose stepped out of the vehicle and read what was carefully painted on it, she heard the familiar singing in her head again. The pounding headache ailing her was momentarily forgotten, despite it worsening when the song began. 

 

While last time the song had been calming, this time it was lacking the soft, quiet notes that had helped Rose steady her breathing. This time, there was an underlying emotion in the melody that she could not pinpoint underneath her own shock. The strong grip she had on the car door slackened and her arms fell to her sides. Rose stood there a moment, blinking in awe before she moved past the rental car’s door and slammed it shut a little too hard. Ignoring the annoyed and puzzled shout from Pete at the doors loud bang, she ran to the wall and pressed her hands against the text. The other three accompanying her rushed out of the car with confused stares directed towards the blonde.

 

”Rose?” Jackie asked, walking slowly towards her daughter and placing a gentle hand on her shoulder. When Rose turned around, Jackie swore that for a moment golden flecks of light had danced in her daughter's wide-open eyes. They were gone as soon as Jackie blinked, but the shock on Rose's face remained as the blonde whispered the two words that had led her back to the Doctor once before:

 

Bad Wolf.” 

Chapter Text

A faint memory of a golden glow emitting from the depths of the TARDIS surged to Rose's mind as she stared at the words before her. Muffled voices sounded in her head, and hazy images of the TARDIS flashed by, all blurred by the same golden glow. The images brought back the pounding headache with a vengeance, but it dissipated rapidly along with them as well, calming to a slight pressure at the back of her head. Rose wasn't sure how long she had stared at the wall, but she realized she must have been silent for a while when she was suddenly brought out of her momentary stupor by the sound of her mother's voice.

”Rose, sweetheart, whatever it says, it can't be Bad Wolf can it? It's not even written in English!” Jackie tried to reason with Rose, but the determination in the other Tyler's eyes was clear.

”No Mum, I know what it says. It's written clear as day.” Rose argued back, glancing back at the graffiti. She didn't lie, she knew exactly what it said, and no amount of blinking and rubbing her eyes or analyzing it changed that. ”I know it's a sign. I can find a way back.” She continued, taking the TARDIS key out from her back pocket and staring at it intently. ”I left myself messages before. They led me back to him once, Mum, they can do that again.”

”But, Rose, look.” Mickey interrupted, pointing at the golden graffiti behind Rose. ”It's just circles and swirls, babe.” He said with concern, dropping the pet name he’d had for Rose while they had been dating out of habit. Rose looked back at the graffiti again, feeling a strange warmth spreading through her chest and shook her head.

”No, I can read it clear as day, it says Bad Wolf. I don't care if you don't believe me, I know what it says and I know I can get back to him. He needs me.” Rose paused and took a deep breath, trying to calm the emotions threatening to overwhelm her. ”And I need him.” Jackie gave Rose an empathetic look and tried to pull her back into a hug, but Rose shrugged her off.

”If I can read it, but you can't, then maybe I still have some kind of connection with the TARDIS. I know the Doctor said he was just an image, but what if... What if he wasn't? What if there's something at the beach?” Rose bit her lower lip in thought. ”It's called Bad Wolf Bay, right? I need to get back there. There could be something there, or... or on the way there.” Rose said with determination and marched away from the vehicle, her eyes following the tall concrete walls, searching the graffiti that littered them diligently. The warmth in her chest dissipated the moment she left the vicinity of the graffiti, but Rose didn't let that stop her as she marched forwards with purpose. Jackie, Pete and Mickey exchanged worried looks by the vehicle, before Mickey sighed and ran after Rose.

”There’s clearly no arguing with you, so I’ll help.” He told Rose when he caught up with her, earning a grateful smile from the blonde. The pair hadn't gotten far when Pete and Jackie pulled up beside them in the rental car. Jackie was driving, while a slightly disgruntled looking Pete sat in the passenger seat.

”Well get in then!” Jackie called as she rolled down the window. ”If we're looking for signs, we'll find them faster if we take the car.” Rose nodded without hesitation and climbed into the back seat, Mickey following suit. As the car sped off down the road back towards the beach, a cold settled in Rose's chest, like something telling her she was moving further away from her goal. Despite her rising uncertainty, Rose told Jackie to press on and keep going. She had to be sure.

The four spent the rest of the day looking for further signs of Bad Wolf. Every now and then, Rose called out to Jackie to stop the car, quickly running out of the vehicle, only to return disappointed. The warm feeling she’d gotten hadn’t returned even once since she had left the car park.

They eventually made it back to Bad Wolf Bay and by then the sky was already dark. Stormy clouds had gathered on the horizon and the previously chilly wind had turned as icy as the feeling in her chest, but Rose searched on. She walked to the spot where the Doctor had projected his image, but felt nothing. She reached for her TARDIS key, but it was ice cold in her pocket, the chill in her chest radiating a feeling of wrongness to her. Dejected, Rose sat down on the sand and felt fresh tears sting her already puffy eyes. Behind her, Mickey knelt down and wrapped her in a comforting hug.

”I just wanted-” Rose tried to swallow down the lump in her throat that made it hard to breathe, ”I hoped-” She tried to continue, but found it impossible to speak between her hiccuping sobs. Rose had somehow known returning to the beach would be fruitless, ever since leaving the car park had resulted in the warm spark in her chest disappearing. However, returning to the place she had seen her Doctor last brought every negative feeling she’d felt throughout the last five months back and she struggled to not drown in her sorrow.

”We'll find a way, Rose. You will see him again.” Mickey whispered confidently and stroked Rose's golden locks. Rose turned around to face him, something in his words ringing true, and despite finding that strange, she didn’t dwell on it. Instead she placed a grateful peck on Mickey’s cheek and nodded, shivering as freezing droplets began to fall from the dark clouds above. ”Come on, it's getting cold. Let's get back before we get soaked.” He said as he helped Rose up. Rose dusted the sand off her clothes and looked up at the storm clouds, thinking of her Doctor. She bit her lip and took Mickey’s hand. As she moved back to the rental car, Rose could swear the empty feeling in her chest lessened a little with each step she took.

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When Rose, Pete, Jackie and Mickey returned to the hotel, it was well past midnight and a freezing rain had begun to pour from the heavens as though someone was dumping the whole Atlantic Ocean down on them. Rose immediately rushed to the wall where she had seen those two haunting words. While the words were as golden as ever, she couldn't hear the singing in her head anymore as she looked at them, but the sorrow she’d felt on the beach didn’t return either. Something, an instinct Rose didn't know she had told her the answer wasn't here, that she had to move forward. Reluctantly, and with a strange feeling she couldn't place, Rose retreated into the dinky little hotel room and without bothering to shower, despite an uncomfortable grimy feeling on her skin, changed into her jim-jams and fell on the bed on her stomach.

The moment her head hit the pillow, something pulled Rose into a deep sleep where she dreamed of a wolf finding its way across the city of London, to the dark basement of a tall building. The name of said building flashed by Rose's eyes in red, too fast for her to read it. The wolf led her further inside the basement, to a room that looked like a laboratory. Vials and flasks decorated the walls and desks of the room, a golden liquid bubbled away in a tube and the wolf marched around it. It sat by the far wall and howled and Rose was suddenly aware she was standing by the wall in the wolf's place. Gingerly, she reached her hand towards the wall, fingers gently brushing it, trying to feel the Doctor's presence. Rose felt a soft tingling at her fingertips and saw a soft, golden glow emitting from the wall.

Soon, my wolf. Something whispered in Rose's head. She knew the voice and heard as it began to sing a melancholy tune.
Be patient, my wolf, it is not yet time.

The voice continued to sing to her as Rose closed her eyes, hand still resting against the wall. As the singing grew louder, the wall under Rose's fingers seemed to melt away, and when Rose opened her eyes, she saw a glimpse of her Doctor's smiling face through a haze of golden light where the wall had previously been. She shouted for him.

”Doctor!” Her shout echoed through the small hotel room as Rose woke up sweating, her head feeling like it was going to explode. Looking around, confused and unnerved, she saw nothing and tried to remember what had prompted that sudden reaction. Was it a dream? Screwing her eyes shut in concentration, Rose tried to bring forth any shred of detail about her dream, but no matter how hard she concentrated, she could remember nothing.

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The next morning, Rose and her family returned to the airport and bought tickets to the earliest flight back to London after some arguing at the check-in desk over who would sit where. Pete and Jackie had fought over who would get to sit next to Rose in case she needed comforting or a hand to hold. Rose had managed to put a stop to the conversation though, with a furious glance at the two. They had ended up hastily buying the tickets and in the end, gave Mickey the argued-over seat. Soon after, the four rushed past security, Rose marching ahead of everyone else to the gates while Jackie stayed behind to buy chocolate from the tax-free shop.

After a half an hour of sitting in an uncomfortable, tense silence, the group finally boarded their plane back to London. Rose spent the beginning of the flight fidgeting impatiently, glancing out the window and checking the time on the monitors, hoping it would pass faster. She refused the chocolate her mother tried to offer her and continued to tap her foot impatiently. Jackie, Pete and Mickey sent concerned glances her way on occasion, and Rose, finally growing tired of the attention after fifteen minutes, turned her back on Mickey who was sitting next to her and closed her eyes. She tried to make herself fall asleep, but her mind was far too active, so she slumped against her chair and watched the clouds drifting by, trying to make out shapes in them like she used to while relaxing on new planets with the Doctor. Her efforts at distracting herself didn’t work and the flight dragged on, slower than before.

Towards the end of the flight, Rose felt a familiar tug at her chest. Immediately jumping up to look around, she was disappointed when she saw nothing outside or on the monitor that hinted at the Bad Wolf. When the flight attendants began shuffling through the corridor, making sure the passengers were safely buckled in, she looked out the window more frantically. The growing anxiety Rose felt for finding nothing brought back emotions she didn't want to face on the flight, and after a few moments of failing to calm down by breathing slowly, the emotions threatened to take over. Before the flight attendants reached her row, Rose quickly excused herself and made her way to the isle, hopping over Mickey’s feet deftly and moving towards the toilets at the back of the plane. She nearly ran inside the little cramped stall when she reached it, locking the door with a click.

Once she reached the basin, Rose pushed her hands underneath the faucet, and began to wash her face with the chilly water that trickled out slowly. She rubbed away the remaining make-up from the day before to hide the tears that had begun to fall down her cheeks, staining them with fresh black streaks of eyeliner and mascara. After wiping down her damp face with the paper towels she’d grabbed from the dispenser, Rose screwed her eyes closed and took deep breaths until the emotions swirling inside her calmed down. All the strong emotions in the past day had begun to take their toll on Rose and they barely even felt like her own anymore. With a frustrated groan, Rose opened her eyes and looked at her face in the mirror, hoping she didn't look too messed up from her outburst, but stopped short when her eyes fell on the scribbled black text in the upper corner of the mirror.

Instantly, the tugging feeling in her chest blossomed into a full on warmth and she mouthed the words out loud. Staring in disbelief, she glanced back to her reflection in the mirror when golden light appeared to spark in her eye. A sharp pain behind her brown orbs followed the spark, forcing the blonde to close her eyes with a grimace. A blurred vision of the Doctor standing in his ship with a ginger woman wearing a white dress flashed before her eyes, quickly replaced by another vision of the same woman surrounded by a golden glow. The vision was gone as fast as it came, and Rose took a shaky step back from the mirror, opening her eyes and staring gingerly at her reflection. The golden light in her eyes was gone, but at that moment, Rose somehow knew that she was closing in on answers. Something within her told her to be patient, a quiet whispering in her mind that calmed the storming emotions she felt. Touching the scribbled text in the corner with her fingertips, Rose nodded and exhaled deeply before quickly returning to her seat with a renewed sense of hope.

The descent back down to London seemed to speed by for Rose and even the journey home to the Tyler's new house near the Torchwood headquarters seemed to flash by in a single blink. Despite the calm she felt and the faint hope that she would see the Doctor again, Rose found herself restless and itching to do something. As they drove past the Torchwood building, Rose felt the now familiar tug pulling her towards it. She stared after the skyscraper and a resolve settled in her chest.

Not bothering to unpack once home like Jackie, Pete and Mickey, Rose instead rushed into the loo, leaving her luggage by the door to her room. She didn’t bother waiting for the water to heat up before throwing her clothes into the hamper - making sure to take the TARDIS key from her pocket and leaving it on the bathroom table - and scrambling in, washing her hair and the sweat off her body in record time. After drying herself off and patting her hair as dry as she could get it with the damp towel, Rose threw on the first set of clothes she could, grabbed her work bag from her room and marched down the stairs. She exited the house, absently running her fingers across the shiny silver key that she had hung around her neck, not taking notice of Mickey running up to join her.

”So, what's your plan then? To get back to the Doctor?” He asked, startling Rose and making her jump. Rose shook her surprise off and kept walking. Beside her, Mickey panted slightly as he struggled to keep up with the fast pace she had set.

”I dunno, but something tells me I gotta get to work.”

”Something? Like the Bad Wolf?”

”Yeah, I think so.” Rose said before abruptly stopping and turning towards Mickey. ”Remember when I went back to the Doctor before? I told you that I looked into the heart of the TARDIS, right?” Mickey nodded as he awkwardly slowed to a stop. ”The Doctor told me later, that Bad Wolf was a message I scattered throughout time to lead myself back to him. He said I saw everything, what is, what was and what could be, but I don't remember it.” Rose paused, brow furrowed as though she was deep in thought. ”I must have seen this happen then.”

”Yeah, say that's the case, how do you get back then?” Mickey interrupted. Rose stood silent for a moment before answering.

”Maybe if I remember what happened, prop'rly, but...” A memory of the Doctor's words began to play in Rose's mind, the warning in his tone clear and tinted with fear.

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The TARDIS was in the void and the Doctor stood by the console, fiddling with different controls as Rose watched, mesmerized. His new body was definitely different. Handsome, with hair that was just begging to be ruffled, but Rose wasn't quite used to it yet. It seemed odd to watch someone who looked so much like a stranger, but acted so familiar. On top of that, the missing memories from Satellite 5, or the Game Station as it had been called then, still bothered her and the manic energy the Doctor emitted made Rose feel even more restless. She had to ask before they went anywhere else.

”Doctor?” The Doctor looked up from the console, dragging his skinny fingers through his hair.

”That's me!” He said, a goofy grin plastered on his thin face. Rose couldn't help the little smile that crept on her face at the sight of that familiar grin. He was still the same man he had been before his regeneration.

”What happened back on the Game Station?” Rose asked, voice wavering a little with uncertainty. The smile faded from the Doctor's lips and his face turned sour, almost sad. ”I can't remember and it feels weird not knowin' the whole thing.” Rose pleaded, looking at the Doctor with what could only be called the Rose-Tyler-Puppy-Dog-Eyes. He sighed. She deserved to know.

”Well…” He began nervously, rubbing at the back of his head. “You looked into the heart of the TARDIS, the time vortex, came back to me and destroyed the Daleks. I absorbed the vortex from you, regenerated and well, here we are. New body!” The Doctor said with a smile, though Rose could read him well enough even in this new form that she could see it was forced.

”The words Bad Wolf. They led me back. Did I...” Rose eyed the Doctor, staring intently into his brown eyes.

”Yes. You, um, you did that. Scattered the words throughout time and space to lead yourself back to me.” He answered.

”Why can't I remember any of it?” His face soured at her question.

”It's better that you don't. No one should look into the vortex. The memories could drive you mad, or worse, kill you. You saw everything that had ever happened, all that is, all that was and all that ever could be” The Doctor repeated the Bad Wolf's words back to Rose, then paused and looked down at the console. ”It's a miracle it didn't kill you back then.” Rose felt a strange pressure in her chest for the slightest moment. ”But!” The Doctor continued and skipped over to where Rose was sitting, grabbed her hands and pulled her up to the console. ”Everything is fine, I absorbed the vortex out of you and no harm was done!” He said with false cheer. Despite the knot in her stomach, the Doctor's bouncing was infectious, and soon enough they were off on another adventure, smiling, laughing and holding hands as they ran.

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Rose sighed. ”Then again, maybe not.” She looked thoughtful as she continued her trek towards Torchwood's hidden entrance. ”But if I saw everything, I must have seen that I would be trapped here and I must have created some way to get back.” Rose sped up as she reached the entrance to Torchwood, scanned her security pass on the hidden panel and stepped in, Mickey only a few steps behind her. ”I just need to figure out what it is.” She said finally and rushed off to the lab.

Mickey stared after Rose, a mixture of sadness and pride written on his face. His ex-girlfriend, who had once thought of herself as a simple shop girl with no A-level, almost glowed with an optimistic determination now, something he had rarely ever seen in her before she met the Doctor. In fact, the closer he looked, the more Rose seemed to glow an unearthly golden light. Blinking rapidly to make sure he wasn’t seeing things, Mickey confirmed the light was actually there. ”Wait, Rose!” He shouted to Rose as she rounded a corner, before rushing to a sprint to pursue her.

”What?” The blonde asked, not stopping to look at Mickey, even when he ran in front of her.

”Uh, you're glowing.” He said monotonously. Rose lifted an eyebrow at his comment.

”Alrigh', I appreciate it, but this isn't the time for flirtin'.” She said, a toothy grin on her face, her pink tongue peeking out between her pearly white teeth.

”No, no, look!” Mickey shouted, and turned Rose towards the windows they were passing by. ”You're literally glowing.” Rose turned to look at her reflection, and saw the faintest shimmer of gold surrounding her. A glow that seemed to originate from her eyes, swirling down to circle her whole body. A sudden throb in Rose's head made her flinch, as hazy memories made their way to the surface.

I am the Bad Wolf.” The words escaped her mouth in an ethereal sounding whisper before she could even realize it. ”I create myself.” Rose continued, with a confused frown on her face. Another wave of images came crashing into her mind as her head began to feel as though it was about to explode from the pressure. First, a vision of a wolf danced in front of her eyes while a soft whisper played itself in her head urging patience. Then there was an image of a dark room surrounded by flasks. She'd seen similar visions before, though she couldn’t remember where and when. Finally, Rose saw a flash of what looked like herself, glowing, hand outstretched towards a Dalek, and suddenly the images faded along with the majority of the pain in her skull.

Mickey watched as Rose stood before the window, staring at her image with unfocused eyes. She stood there for a while, but, growing nervous, Mickey brought her out of her trance with a gentle shake of her shoulders.

”Rose?” He asked cautiously, watching as the golden glow dissipated and Rose's brown eyes refocused, turning to look at him. ”You alright?”

”Yeah... Yeah I am.” Rose said unconvincingly, turning to look back at her reflection, noticing the newly painted graffiti, still drying in the midday sun outside the windows. Familiar words painted in a metallic yellow stared back at her from the wall of the building next door. ”I feel like I have to wait for some reason. I dunno why, but it feels like the right thing.”

”Wait? How long?”

”I dunno. But the Doctor is worth it, however long it might be.” Rose said, determination lighting up her face again. ”Anyway, I need to work to get my mind off things. Maybe it'll help me find out what I need to do to get back somehow too. Let's go.”

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For the next few weeks, Rose worked diligently at Torchwood, focusing solely on her work in advising her colleagues on the many alien artifacts they had, their uses and where they came from. She dug every little nugget of information the Doctor had told her on their travels from the depths of her memory and ensured that Torchwood in this world would be as well off as possible if she was able to return to her own. What Rose didn’t remember, she made a note to research and what she didn’t recognize, she tested rigorously, making detailed notes every step of the way.

Working was a good outlet that kept Rose busy and despite knowing that she could potentially get back to the Doctor and soon, it felt like the right thing to do. Not just for this world’s Torchwood of course, but for herself as well. Rose couldn't explain why she felt this way, but again, an instinct she didn’t know she had told her so. Besides, work helped keep her distracted from the headache that had made itself a permanent resident in her brain, so Rose wasn’t complaining.

She saw no further signs of the Bad Wolf anywhere during those few weeks and tried her best to ignore the constant loneliness that grew worse the closer Christmas got. After having spent a fantastic Christmas with the newly regenerated Doctor nearly a year ago, it didn't feel right to celebrate it without him - of course, it had been a little longer for her and the Doctor than year, but in linear time, it had been a little over 11 months. The fairy lights that started to decorate each and every store window around London felt wrong and the cheery air around the Tyler household was rapidly beginning to get on Rose's nerves. She needed to get out of the house and away from the ever present Christmas spirit that was now creeping into the Torchwood offices as well.

When the morning of the 21st of December rolled around, Rose had had enough and finally took a day off work, going on a stroll around London. She spent the afternoon roaming around various parks, avoiding the busy shops and streets as best she could. When the parks began to fill with people later in the day, she started to slowly drag herself back home, but strangely felt herself drawn back to the city center. Before she knew it, she was standing in front of a tall office building, with 'H.C. Clements' written on it in large red letters. Something about the building seemed familiar, and Rose felt compelled to enter it. Trusting her instincts, she walked through the front doors and stepped into a large reception area.

H.C. Clements was clearly a high-tech office building of some sort, from what Rose gathered at first glance. The entire first floor was covered in windows with decorative plants lining each and every wall. There were many well dressed, slightly pompous looking employees mingling in the reception area. Rose found that the outfit she’d worn, a simple t-shirt under a thick, black leather jacket, dark acid wash jeans and knee high winter boots made her look very out of place. Definitely not like someone who one would usually find roaming the building’s halls. Rose would have to find a reason to stay and search the building if she was to figure out what had made her march in in the first place.

As she walked further in, Rose took note of a sign by the lifts to the left of the receptionist’s desk that stood a little over 25 feet from the front doors. Above the sign, the company’s motto was written in red letters: 'Efficient, safe and affordable security'. Most floors seemed to be regular offices, but the label beside the basement floor gave Rose pause. Laboratories? Why did that ring a bell somehow? Making up her mind, Rose started to walk towards the reception desk, where the receptionist was busy speaking on the phone.

“No they’re still not fixed.” She tapped her fingers on the desk. “I know it’s inconvenient, but there is nothing I can do. The maintenance workers still haven’t arrived.” Rose could almost hear the annoyed huff on the other side of the phone. The receptionist looked rather put off herself, frowning and rubbing her forehead with a soft groan. “I’ll call the company again if they don’t arrive by the end of the day. Now, I need to get back to work and I suggest you do the same.” She said and ended the call, leaning her elbows on the desk and shaking her head. Rose hid the knowing smile that threatened to appear on her face as a plan formed in her head. Digging out the psychic paper inside her back pocket, courtesy of her job at Torchwood, she marched over to the receptionist. When she presented her psychic paper to the brunette, she was met with a relieved sigh.

”Maintenance? Finally! We've been waiting for someone to come fix the pipes down in the basement for ages. Miss Taylor from… TARDIS maintenance is it?” The receptionist asked, and Rose nodded, her cover name still sounding odd to her, despite being with Torchwood for nearly six months and having used it often while investigating potential alien activity. She hadn’t expected the ‘TARDIS’ part of her cover, however, and cursed her subconscious for it.

”TARDIS Maintenance, yep. That's me. Here to inspect what's wrong with the pipes.” Rose gave her a smile. “The actual repairman will be along tomorrow though, provided we have the parts we need at the office.” Rose said, the lies rolling off her tongue with practiced ease. The receptionist looked irritated, but put on what Rose recognized as a customer-service-smile from her shop girl days.

”Fantastic. Take this,” The receptionist said with false cheer, handing Rose a badge that read 'visitor'. ”Sam here will lead you to the basement. Please get the problem fixed as soon as possible. The laboratories have been without access to water for nearly a week now. This should have been fixed days ago.” She looked at Rose pointedly. It had worked far easier than Rose had expected it to, though judging by the look on the receptionists face, Rose wasn’t surprised. Someone in that bad a mood usually doesn’t bother double checking what company the maintenance staff comes from.

“Absolutely! I’ll expedite the order for new parts if we don’t have them in our warehouses so they’ll arrive before Christmas. I am truly sorry for the delay. You understand how hectic things can be around Christmas time though, yeah?”

“Of course. Now please go, this really cannot wait.” The brunette said irritably with a wave, and a tall woman beside her nodded to Rose.

”This way, Miss Taylor.” She said with a husky voice, like she’d smoked far too many cigarettes in her life, and led Rose to an elevator, swiping the keycard that was securely around her neck and hidden beneath her shirt on the keypad by the elevator buttons, before pressing the one that took them to the basement and down to the laboratories.

”So the pipes, they’re down by the labs, yeah? I’m guessing a security firm like yours has all sorts of electrical equipment down there, so faulty pipes can definitely be a hazard. What’s a security firm do with water down in their labs though? I didn’t realize a security firm needed running water in their labs, unless the water is for drinkin’ or the loo?” Rose asked with genuine interest as the elevator let her and Sam out into a dark hallway.

“It’s needed in experiments.” said her escort.

“What sorts of experiments?” A familiar feeling hit Rose and she knew it was suspicion.

”It's nothing you should concern yourself with.” Sam responded emotionlessly and continued to lead Rose along the hallway. Rose nodded and apologized, feigning simple curiosity as reason for her questions. There was definitely something strange going on in the company, though, she was sure of it. Even if the laboratory was standard fair at such a company, Rose would still have suspected that something was off. There was a curious feel in the atmosphere that made her feel slightly on edge.

Rose looked around curiously at the area Sam led her to, feeling a strange sense of déjà vu. As they reached the far end of the hallway, the TARDIS key in Rose's back pocket became warmer with each step. When the key became uncomfortably hot, Rose glanced towards a door, her eyes rounding in shock when she read the plaque next to it. Written in engraved silver letters were the words 'Bad Wolf Laboratory' and suddenly Rose's head was swimming as visions invaded her mind.

The TARDIS floated in space as a small planet was slowly forming in the distance. A voice in her head told Rose it was the Earth, before the image shifted. A ginger woman stood in a wedding dress, walking down an isle, only to disappear screaming and surrounded by a golden light. There was a quick mess of images showing the Doctor hanging out of the TARDIS over a highway, the midday sun shining down on him and the ginger bride jumping towards him before the vision changed again. Next, Rose saw a spider-like creature with a human face rising from a deep well in the ground, the Doctor running through a similar hallway as the one she currently stood in and then the vision changed again, a golden light filling her mind, the words '… but here it's Christmas Eve' echoed through her head in a feminine voice and finally, the image disappeared.

Rose found herself staring at the laboratory door, the TARDIS key returning back to room temperature. Her escort was watching her with slight concern as Rose doubled over when the ever present headache from the past few months worsened to excruciating levels.

”Miss, you alright?” Sam asked hesitantly, placing a hand on the blonde's shoulder.

”Yes I’m fine.” Rose said breathing heavily. “Let’s keep going.” She continued, but a wave of nausea threatened to over take her when she straightened out. With a pained frown, Rose watched as Sam reached for her shoulder, stopping abruptly when her walkie-talkie beeped.

Through the walkie-talkie, Rose heard a crackly, robotic voice informing the woman that the maintenance workers had arrived and biting her lip, Rose watched Sam turn to face her with a suspicious look. Before the other woman could reach for Rose, however, she darted back towards the elevator, barely managing to get inside and send it back to the main floor without Sam reaching her. Thankfully the lift didn’t require a keycard to return there. Below, Rose heard Sam cursing and shouting something she couldn’t make out into her walkie-talkie, her voice muffled by the elevator doors. Expecting trouble, the moment the lift doors opened, Rose swerved around a security guard she knew would be there and ran out of the building as fast as her legs would take her. The security guard bolted after her, but Rose had already made it out the door and to the streets. For five minutes, she scampered through small alleys, taking sharp turns to ensure she would lose the guard still pursuing her and once she knew for sure she’d lost him, Rose slowed down and started towards the streets that would lead her home.

Despite her headache, still present and still extremely painful, Rose made it home in near record time. She opened the front door with a bang and shouted for her mom.

”What is it Rose, what's the matter, sweetheart?” Jackie asked as she rushed to the entrance from the kitchen.

”I think I know how to get back.”

Chapter Text

Jackie Tyler was standing in the middle of the Tyler households entrance hall staring at her daughter whose forehead was shiny with sweat. Red, silver and green Christmas decorations were hanging off her arms. Jackie’s hands were holding several, glass baubles that were now in danger of dropping to the floor because of how strongly her hands were shaking. She’d heard her daughter right, hadn’t she? 

 

“You found a way back? To the Doctor?” Jackie asked, voice wavering with emotion. Rose nodded and smiled wider than Jackie had seen since she’d been brought back to this world a half a year ago. Despite her daughter’s clear happiness, Jackie couldn’t bring herself to say anything.

 

”Well, more like when to get back.” Rose corrected after a moment of stunned silence between her and her mother which made Jackie blink and furrow her brow in confusion.

 

”What's that mean, when?” Jackie asked incredulously, one of the glass baubles nearly falling from her hand as she stepped forward.

 

”I went on a walk, yeah?” Rose started and began to pace around the room as she explained to her mother everything she had seen in her vision earlier in the day. Jackie listened, frozen in place, watching with a blank expression set on her features as Rose walked back and forth in the narrow hall. Various thoughts began to run through Jackie’s mind, the most prevalent of them being the knowledge that her daughter, despite her strongest wishes, was dead set on returning to the Doctor. And now she seemed to have a way to do so. As the sadness crept in, Jackie’s shoulders began to shake and when tears began to prickle in the corners of her eyes, she dropped her arms to her sides, the decorations falling with them. One of the ornate glass baubles broke with a soft crash as it landed on the wood floor. Rose didn’t seem to notice, too lost in her own monologue. 

 

”So I have to be there on Christmas Eve, I know it.” Rose finished, relaying the words she’d heard in her vision to Jackie, looking up at the other woman for the first time since beginning her explanation of the day’s events. Rose’s brows knit together at the sight of her mother’s quivering lip and unshed tears before her gaze shifted to the floor where the decorations lay in a scattered pile. Biting her lip, Rose took tentative steps towards her mother, gracefully hopping over the shards of the broken glass bauble. ”Mum?” She asked, looking up at her mother who wore a sorrowful expression on her face.

 

”Oh, sweetheart.” Jackie whispered, placing her hands on Rose’s shoulders and pulling her daughter into a tight hug. Jackie’s shoulders were shaking as she wrapped her arms tighter around Rose.

 

”Mum?” Rose asked again, her voice wavering with emotion. Jackie screwed her eyes shut and took deep breaths before opening her mouth, letting out a shaky exhale.

 

”You're sure about this?” 

 

”I am, mum.” Rose murmured into her mother's shoulder. ”I have to, no, I want to get back to him.” Jackie stayed unnervingly quiet and still in the embrace as Rose waited for a response. She knew it would be hard to say goodbye to her mother, but she also knew, it would be far harder for Jackie to say goodbye to her. Jackie had lost Rose once, back when she had gone missing for a whole year because of a slight mistake in the Doctor’s steering. Knowing how heartbroken Jackie had been back then, it made sense she would be less than enthusiastic about Rose leaving for good.

 

“I love him mum, he needs me. I don't know how I know, but I just do.” Rose added when the silence between them became too much to bear. A strong feeling of guilt slowly trickled in to her belly, but Rose couldn’t shake the small bud of excitement and joy that had made its place there since her latest vision had presented itself to her. Finally, after many more unnerving moments of silence, Jackie replied quietly.

 

”Oh I know, sweetheart, but I'll miss you.” Jackie tightened the hug even further. 

 

”I know, I'm sorry.” Rose hiccuped and sniffled as stray tears ran down her cheeks. ”But we've got until Christmas Eve to spend together, yeah?” She pulled away and gave her mother a shaky smile, who returned it uncertainly. Seeing the determination in Rose’s eyes, Jackie relented on her sorrow and resumed her usual slightly disapproving - yet oddly, in every way an accepting and loving - demeanor when ever she spoke to Rose about the Doctor.

 

”Well you best find a way to call every now and then. In fact, you tell that Doctor of yours that he better find a way or he'll have to deal with me.” Jackie's threat brought out a soft giggle from her daughter.

 

”I'll make sure he knows that.” Rose said with a genuine smile. “And I promise, I’ll find a way to at least send you a message every now and then. I’ll do my best.” Rose figured it had to be possible. The Doctor had, after all, found a way to contact her, despite being in a parallel world. If they ran across more rifts and had access to enough power, then maybe, just maybe, Rose could contact her mother too. Although all these assumptions relied on the Doctor allowing Rose to return to the TARDIS with him. The last time they’d spoken, Rose had declared her love to him, but since the rift had closed before the Doctor could finish his last words, she had no idea how he felt about her confession. Rose quickly shook away the thoughts. She couldn’t let herself think like that.

 

“Swear to me.” Demanded Jackie. “Swear to me this won’t be the last time I see you.”

 

“I swear, mum. I’ll do whatever I can.” Jackie’s face relaxed visibly at her daughter’s promise. She pulled her into another hug, a short and sweet one this time, and then looked down at the broken bauble on the floor. Sighing, Jackie bent down, picked up the still intact decorations and handed them off to Rose who accepted them without complaint.

 

”Alright then. Now, help me clean up this mess, and then we'll hang up the rest of the decorations. We'll need to plan for an early Christmas, because there is no way I am letting you leave without having a proper Christmas dinner with your family.” Jackie said and wandered off to find something to clean up the glass with. Rose followed along without argument and spent the rest of the day helping Jackie decorate the house with various, colorful fairy lights, wreaths and small decorative elves, the holiday cheer no longer feeling like it was suffocating her. In fact, she felt exhilarated and could barely contain her mirth. Christmas Eve could not come fast enough.

 

Explaining Rose's visions to Pete and Mickey when they arrived later that evening was an easy affair, especially since Mickey had come to terms with losing Rose to the Doctor a long time ago. Pete, as much as he cared for Rose, hadn’t known her long enough to come to love her, let alone miss her the way a father would. He’d also seen the immediate change in Rose’s demeanor, now that she seemed sure she would be able to return to the Doctor. Her movements were lighter and her head was held up high. Her shoulders no longer sagged and the forlorn glint in her eyes was gone. She would be happier with him, he knew.

 

When Rose had finished telling Mickey and Pete what she’d told her mother hours earlier they both nodded their understanding and Mickey gave Rose an excited clap on the back. 

 

“The only problem is, I’m not sure how to get back to the building, since I sort of had to run away from the guards.”

 

”Right, we need to find a way to get you into those laboratories on Christmas Eve then. Undetected.” Pete muttered from the sofa. “Should be no problem with the tech available to us. Trust me on this.” He finished with a wink, eliciting a tired groan from the other three. Rolling their eyes at the slight huff of feigned hurt from Pete, Rose, Jackie and Mickey laughed. Once Pete had joined in and the laughter had slowly died out, the group started coming up with a plan. As plans go, it wasn’t very difficult to put together, but with the knowledge that Rose would soon leave them, Mickey and Jackie especially were determined to drag as much social interaction from Rose before her departure. Thus, they spent the rest of the evening and a few hours into the next day in the living room, discussing any and all possible weak points in their plan.

 

With Christmas holidays starting soon, most of the building would presumably be empty, so getting in, using the technology available to Torchwood was deemed easy. Finding a way into the laboratory undetected shouldn't be too hard either, Rose knew, as the TARDIS key could help conceal her from prying eyes and locked doors should be easy enough to open with sonic technology, provided Torchwood had a sonic device ready to go or enough spare parts to build one. There weren’t any security systems in place that Rose had found concerning down by the laboratories either, although she would have to find a keycard to access the laboratory level. Finding the right kind with the correct clearance shouldn’t be an issue thanks to the perception filter provided by her TARDIS key. Rose just had to find the right person to swipe a card from. Surely a large security firm like H.C. Clements had to have employees working even during the holidays.

 

What worried Rose most was timing. The knowledge she had of the 'when' of her return was limited to knowing it would happen on Christmas Eve, but she had a feeling that her actual window of opportunity was far more limited. Figuring out exactly when to be at the laboratory turned out to be tricky like Rose expected, due to the nature of her visions. With the majority of what she had seen occurring indoors, it was difficult to pin down the time of day, but Rose had managed to narrow it down to the late afternoon and evening, based on the few images she remembered, although she remained unsure. The flashes of the Doctor and the ginger lady were all jumbled, and Rose couldn't be certain what order they had presented themselves to her, but something about the later evening rang true to her. Getting in too early could result in a long wait, which put Rose at risk of being found out, but getting in too late meant potentially missing her one chance of returning. Trusting her instincts, she finalized the rest of her plan with Pete, Mickey and Jackie on the assumption she would sneak into the H.C. Clements building in the late afternoon, between four and five PM. 

 

When all four had begun slumping in their seats with exhaustion, eyes drooping and thoughts slowing down, they finally agreed to head to sleep, despite Jackie’s reluctance. As Pete dragged a tired and complaining Jackie - “I’m not tired Pete, let me go talk to Rose...” - to bed, shaking his head affectionately as his wife yawned widely, Rose retreated to her own. She quickly showered, washing away the sweat and grime of the day and tied her hair up in a tight braid. 

 

When Rose collapsed down on her bed, she expected to fall asleep without issue, but found herself unable to drift off. She tossed and turned for several hours, until eventually giving up and throwing off her pajamas. Once she was dressed in her regular jeans, shirt and jacket, Rose threw the TARDIS key over her neck, letting it hang on top of her tee on its golden chain, and grabbed her work bag. Once downstairs, Rose left a quick note on the refrigerator door and headed to the Torchwood building.

 

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Retrieving as much of the sonic items she could find in the storage cupboards at work, Rose started experimenting with them, testing to see which ones held the qualities she needed - specifically which one was capable of locking and unlocking doors. She had just found one that could work as a rudimentary sonic screwdriver, if she made some small changes, when Pete and Mickey joined her. With the three of them working together, it didn’t take long for Rose to finish the makeshift screwdriver. When she held the small device in her hand, she couldn’t help, but smile at how familiar it felt under her fingers. It wasn’t anywhere near what the Doctor had, but it was capable of performing its intended function without any larger issues. Rose was rather proud of it.

 

With nothing else to do for the remainder of the day, Rose decided to go home and spend time with her mother while Pete and Mickey remained at work until the evening. Since Rose would most likely never meet her younger brother, Jackie had decided they would put together an album with details of who she was, what she did and where she’d gone. With all of Rose’s childhood photographs stuck in her original world, they wrote letters and spent hours clipping together relevant images - a red bicycle, a blue police box and even a stock photo of a girl folding clothes - from newspapers and images printed off the net. Many hand drawn images decorated the pages where relevant images couldn’t be found. When Pete and Mickey returned from work, they helped add to the album, and once it was deemed done, they spent the rest of the evening reminiscing through dinner.

 

When night came, Rose found herself unable to sleep again, despite doing her best to calm down and even popping one of her mother’s melatonin pills. She stayed in bed this time, lying with her eyes closed and letting the thoughts running through her head run their course. In the morning, she joined her mother on a shopping trip despite her exhaustion while Pete and Mickey once again headed to work, and then helped Jackie prepare the evening’s meal. Rose eventually took an accidental nap on the living room sofa, waking up and finding herself wrapped in a warm blanket, Jackie sitting across from her reading the album they’d made.

 

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Late in the evening on the 23rd of December, Rose, Jackie, Pete and Mickey gathered together in the Tyler household and celebrated an early Christmas. The mood in the house was bittersweet, but joyous nonetheless, as Rose especially did her best to uphold the Christmas cheer despite two sleepless nights. When night drew near, after a hearty meal and an evening of swapping presents, Rose was exhausted and ready for bed. It was well past midnight, nearing 5 in the morning when she retreated upstairs to her room.

 

Before allowing herself to fall on her bed, Rose checked the small over-the-shoulder bag one more time to ensure it had everything she needed: her psychic paper, the faux sonic screwdriver, her old cell phone the Doctor had long since modified as well as her wallet with enough cash to get by in case she couldn't find the Doctor right away. She also had other assorted knick-knacks, including a picture of her and her mother that she couldn't bear to part with packed in with the essentials. She tied her hair up in a braid to get it out of her face while she slept before marching over to her dresser. The clothes Rose had prepared for tomorrow were neatly laid out on top of it. The warm, purple leather jacket and long jeans were topped with the golden chain where the TARDIS key hung and Rose gave it a long look before falling into her bed.

 

Soon after Rose’s head hit the pillow, soft whispers filled her mind and soothed her into much needed sleep.

 

Sleep. Gather your strength. The calming voice told Rose as she drifted away.

 

I will see you soon, my wolf. A gentle caress brushed through Rose's mind as a warmth bubbled in her belly, before she finally lost consciousness.

 

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Rose woke up early in the afternoon on December 24th, Christmas Eve, feeling groggy but strangely awake despite only around 4 hours of continuous sleep. She’d woken up multiple times, terrified that she’d missed her chance, only to realize it was still early. The warm feeling in her belly from last night was still there, and as Rose got up to shower, she was filled with an excitement she could hardly contain. Nearly bouncing out of the shower, she quickly dressed up, checked her bag and pockets one final time before skipping downstairs where Jackie, Pete and Mickey were eating leftovers from the previous night. Jackie shoved a plate full of leftover turkey and sprouts at Rose and fussed over her daughters hair for fifteen minutes, untangling the braid and brushing it down to neat waves before sitting back down and continuing her breakfast. Rose did her best to keep up with casual small talk so as not to upset her mum, but by the time she was finished with her meal, Jackie had retreated to the living room to cry. Rose joined her in the living room and after sitting down next to her on the large sofa, pulled Jackie into a hug.

 

”I'll miss you mum.” She said soothingly, but Jackie continued to sob silently, wrapping her arms tighter around the other blonde.

 

”Then don't go, sweetheart.” Jackie begged and Rose felt a pang of guilt.

 

”I'm sorry mum. He needs me. You have Pete and Mickey here, and the baby.” Rose said looking towards Pete rummaging around in the kitchen. ”You'll be happy.” Rose promised gently, running her fingers through her mother's hair in a calming fashion. ”I need him and he needs me. I have to go.” Rose said, her voice colored by a tone of finality. 

 

”He better make you happy.” Jackie said finally and released Rose from the tight hug. 

 

”Or he'll have to deal with you, I know mum.” Rose said with a laugh before getting up from the sofa. Jackie stopped crying and gave Rose a heartbroken nod as her daughter retreated upstairs to grab her bag. When she came back down, she was glancing nervously at her phone, checking the time. It was well past 3 pm, and getting to the city center would take at least a half an hour. She didn’t know how long it would take to make it inside the laboratory itself.

 

”I should be going.” Rose said finally, inviting her mother into a final hug. Jackie rushed over to embrace her daughter and wish her good luck. With a final 'I love you', Jackie released Rose, who rushed out of the house towards the car where Pete and Mickey now waited for her. Pete gave Rose a one handed hug before letting her step into the car and returning to the front door to stand by Jackie, who watched teary eyed as her daughter departed.

 

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When Mickey parked the car at a nondescript parking lot by the H.C. Clements building, Rose placed a gentle kiss on his cheek, thanked him and stepped out of the car. She felt a strange sense that this would not be the last time she would see him, but focused on the building in front of her. Thumbing the TARDIS key hanging around her neck, Rose stepped towards the front entrance and confidently marched inside, not surprised to find the sliding doors opening to let her in. 

 

Once she was past the automatic doors Rose could see the same receptionist from three days earlier sitting behind the large reception desk. The building was otherwise very quiet, most people presumably out on holiday. Watching the receptionist carefully to make sure she didn't spot her, Rose started to look out for anyone who might have access to the basement levels. When she didn’t spot anyone in the entrance hall, Rose decided it wouldn’t hurt to try her sonic and made her way to the elevators. She waited for the doors to open before slipping quietly inside making sure the receptionist didn’t hear the lift ding. Scanning the panel for the basement level, Rose pushed the button she remembered her escort pressing when she was last here. The elevator stood still and refused to move and Rose dug out the sonic device, hoping that she could force the lift to move, but had no success.

 

Damn, had to try . She cursed inwardly and exited the lift, tiptoeing over to the receptionist's desk making as little noise as possible. It seemed unnecessary in hindsight though, as the receptionist had earbuds in and was clearly listening to music that was far too loud to be safe. Looking around and sneaking as quietly as she humanly could, Rose searched for a keycard anywhere near the desk or on any of the few people in the room. Spotting the same woman, Sam, that had escorted her before emerging from a side door on the other side of the hall, she cautiously started to approach her. She managed to sneak over to Sam without being heard or detected and tried to grab the keycard from the little plastic pouch that was clipped to her belt. Slowly, Rose managed to extract it without alerting the other woman and with quiet steps, made her way back to the elevator, silently thanking the perception filter of her TARDIS key. She wasted no time scanning the keycard on the pad and pressing the button down to the basement.

 

As Rose walked out of the modern lift into the familiar dark hallway, she noticed a group of two men and women dressed in white lab coats walking from one room to another. Rose held her breath and flattened herself against the wall, trying to be as inconspicuous as possible. She waited until the door closed behind the last scientist before moving forwards, heading straight towards the laboratory marked 'Bad Wolf'. 

 

Much to Rose's relief, the laboratory seemed empty when she peeked in through the window. Using the small sonic device to unlock the door, Rose stepped inside and took in her surroundings. The tables and counters inside the laboratory were full of chemistry equipment and except for a small vial - which glowed brightly despite the laboratory being otherwise dark - inside a cupboard, seemed otherwise empty. The entire room was silent and appeared unused. The only thing other than the vial that managed to draw Rose's eye was the massive golden writing on the far side of the wall. The words Bad Wolf stared back at her and called to her. She walked over to them and gingerly placed her hand on the wall. 

 

Not yet, my wolf . A voice sounded in her head and Rose accepted it without complaint. Her mind was assaulted with a vision of herself reaching for the wall and laying her hand flat against it. The wall melted away and for some reason, Rose felt a huge sense of déjà vu, as though she had seen this before. On the other side of the wall, Rose saw the Doctor and then she was back to reality, staring at the wall. Despite the headache that came and left with the voice - for the most part at least - Rose trusted it. She could recognize the voice, despite being unable to name it, but the fact that it was so familiar made it impossible for Rose to mistrust it or the visions that came with it. 

 

Rose stepped back from the wall when she couldn’t feel any sort of pull towards it. The voice had told her to wait, after all. The little glowing vial in the room, however, seemed to be calling to her. She marched over to the cupboard, used the sonic to unlock the glass door and promptly picked up the vial. As she shook it, it glittered and Rose felt the urge to pocket it. She stared at it for a moment longer and then quickly slipped the capped vial into her front pocket with care. There was something about the vial that was important, Rose could tell, but what it was, she had no idea yet. She patted it gently through her jean pocket and then walked back over to the writing on the wall. Glancing at her phone, she tried to determine how much time she had left. 4:38, presumably not much. Rose stuffed it back in her pocket and quickly readjusted the bag on her shoulder.

 

Rose took a seat on the floor and started to fiddle with the TARDIS key around her neck and waited like the voice in her head told her to. Wondering if the vial and it’s contents were something otherworldly, because of the strange glow it was emitting in her pocket, Rose mentally went through all the human and alien elements and substances she had encountered in her life. With nothing coming to mind, except the glow she remembered seeing in the TARDIS, she pulled out her phone again. After quickly sending a text to Mickey, letting him know that Torchwood might want to keep an eye out for potential alien activity at H.C. Clements, she exhaled, closed her eyes and let her mind wander.

 

Rose tried to think of what to say to the Doctor when she finally saw him again and wondered how much time had passed for him. It had been a little over six months since the events of Canary Wharf for her, but she knew time could work in mysterious ways as proven by her 12 month disappearance back when she had first begun to travel with the Doctor. Then again, that had been a slight miscalculation while steering the TARDIS, but regardless. Hoping it had not been too long, Rose concentrated on the slowly building excitement of seeing the man she loved again.

 

After what felt like far too long - but which was actually only around 15 minutes - thankfully without any sign of the scientists she had seen before, Rose felt something tug at her chest. She knew it was time. 

 

She stood up from where she'd sat down by the wall and turned around. The letters on the wall glowed softly, but when she reached out to touch the wall, nothing seemed to happen like she expected to, like she’d seen. Frowning, Rose tried to concentrate on the Bad Wolf , hoping it would give her an idea of what to do next, but got nothing. Glancing around the room, Rose saw nothing unusual, until she happened to look down and saw the slight muted golden glow emitting from her pocket and it hit her. The vial!

 

Rushing to grab the vial filled with golden liquid out of her pocket, Rose lifted it up to eye level and watched as the liquid swirled around in its container. Gingerly, Rose unstoppered the vial and inspected the liquid more closely, pouring a tiny drop on her hand to test it out. The liquid seeped into her skin and Rose watched as it dissipated. Looking back up at the text on the wall, the voice in her head told her to drink it. The more she looked at the vial, the more it felt like the right thing to do, as though something in the pit of her stomach was yearning for it. Tentatively, Rose brought the cool vial to her lips and in one gulp, downed the golden liquid.

 

Instantly, Rose felt a tug in her chest as though something was trying to drag her somewhere and as she glanced once again at the text, the words Bad Wolf glowed with that familiar golden light. She knowingly stepped forwards and suddenly felt like she was falling through the vortex. The sensation twisted in her insides and made her nauseous, a burning headache pierced her skull and brought the familiar dull ache that had plagued her these past six months back to the forefront of her thoughts. The pain was impossible to ignore, as it seemed to worsen with each uncomfortable twist she felt. Rose barely noticed when her body stopped spinning shortly after.

 

Disoriented, Rose groaned as she felt herself hanging off a web, hearing angry, muffled voices below her. She looked in confusion as she saw the ginger woman from her visions hanging off the spider-like web, screaming at the man beside her, both oblivious to her presence. With the headache still pounding between her ears, Rose found it hard to concentrate as an arachnid creature with a human face looked up at them. None of them had noticed her and Rose immediately tried to bring her hands up to her chest to grab at the TARDIS key, but she couldn't move. She watched, face scrunched up in pain as she and the other two in the web began to glow. It felt like something was drawn away from her as Rose watched the golden light zoom down into a hole in the ground beneath her. The majority of her headache dissipated with the light and Rose let out a sigh of relief.

 

”The secret heart unlocks and they will waken from their Sleep of Ages.” The arachnid creature spoke with a grating voice and a hiss. 

 

That doesn't sound good . Rose mused to herself and watched as strange looking creatures began to climb up the hole. They were still very far down, but they were slowly and steadily getting closer. That's definitely not good . She thought to herself again and tried to struggle in the web, just barely managing to release her other arm. 

 

”My babies will be hungry. They need sustenance. Perish the web.” The arachnid screeched, and Rose watched with horror as the webbing around the man broke and he fell unceremoniously into the hole and presumably, to his death. The ginger screamed after him as the arachnid continued her monologue. Rose attempted to dig the sonic device out of her pocket, failing when she realized her pocket had been glued shut by the sticky webbing. Out of the corner of her eye, she saw a hooded figure with a mask on climbing up the steps near the web. The moment the figure stopped at the platform, a sudden wave of anger, sorrow and guilt hit Rose like a ton of bricks. The arachnid turned around to face the figure with a sneer.

 

”My children are climbing towards me and none shall stop them. So you might as well unmask, my clever little doctor man.” Rose's heart did a flip as the figure removed his mask and threw off the cloak from his shoulders. Before her stood the Doctor, seemingly oblivious to her presence, now pointing his sonic screwdriver towards the ginger he had called Donna. His face was twisted in anger and Rose knew that the strong mix of emotions was coming from him. How she could feel it so strongly, as though the emotions were her own, she didn’t know, but she had more important things to consider right now.

 

”Doctor!” Rose tried to shout, but her voice didn't seem to want to work and instead she gave a barely audible wheeze as a thin strand of sticky webbing got lodged in her throat. She managed to clear it out with a few short coughs, gagging a little at its disgusting texture. The Doctor didn't notice her, however, and told Donna to swing as the webbing gave away under her, except for the lone strand that Donna now clung to. Rose watched with mild amusement and a pang of sympathy as Donna swung directly into the wall below the Doctor and dropped to the ground with a loud clang. 

 

”Oh, sorry!” The Doctor shouted and Rose couldn't help the soft giggles that escaped her lips when the ginger, Donna was her name, responded with a disgruntled 'Thanks for nothing'. Rose tried to struggle out of the webbing once again and shouted the Doctor's name once more, hoping for a reaction. She could see the momentary hesitation in his eyes, but he still didn’t look at her. Quickly maneuvering her arm up to her neck, Rose managed to reach the chain. Moving her fingers down it, Rose gripped the TARDIS key tightly in her fist and yanked the chain off, knowing it would be fruitless to try and take it off the conventional way with the webs gripping her hair like they did. 

 

Once the necklace was off and safely inside her closed fist, Rose screamed for him again. ”Doctor!” 

 

She saw the Doctor's face scrunch up in confusion. He slowly turned towards the voice, his jaw dropping when he stared straight into Rose's eyes.

 

”Rose?”

Chapter Text

It was only a month ago that they’d stood on the rocky hills of Culkakron, holding hands and watching the planet’s native flying stingray’s making their yearly migration South. He’d asked her how long she would stay with him. She had told him then that she’d stay with him forever. The Doctor had allowed himself to hope, but he was a Time Lord, he should have known better.

 

He could feel Rose’s presence on the other side of the rift. A small echo of her spirit still seemed to linger on this side of it and the Doctor pressed his face against the wall. He knew she had done the same and tried to draw comfort from the knowledge that she was alive, that she was safe. The Doctor gently placed his hand against the wall as well to try and feel Rose’s presence more clearly, but the last ripples of the rift soon dissipated and Rose was truly gone to him. The Doctor reluctantly withdrew from the wall and quickly walked away. Being in the room where he had lost Rose forever felt suffocating and gave the Doctor the overwhelming need to run. So he did. He ran to the TARDIS and didn’t look back. 

 

Once inside his ship, the Doctor sent her to the vortex and slumped down by the console. He sat there, cradling his head in his arms, screaming out every Gallifreyan curse word he could possibly think of and kicking his feet in frustration. He let out a muffled scream against his sleeve. He had lost her without so much as a goodbye.

 

Taking deep, slow breaths, the Doctor forced himself to calm down. At least she’s safe. He thought and tried to swallow down his sorrow. He could live with the knowledge that at least she was alive and safe and with her family and Mickey. Rose could be happy. She could have the kind of life she deserved. A good job, a nice house, maybe a mortgage. A nice domestic life that the Doctor could never give her. 

 

Somewhere deep within him, however, the Doctor knew that a simple domestic life was not what Rose would have wanted. She hadn’t wanted one ever since she’d stepped inside his TARDIS after he’d blown up her job. Rose had told him so herself, many times when he’d fallen into periods of self-doubt after unwittingly placing her in harm's way again.

 

The TARDIS sent the Doctor a calming wave of energy as he moped. He saw images of multiple supernovae flashing through his mind, courtesy of his ship, he knew. The Doctor leaned back on the console and exhaled. He’d wanted to show Rose one of those supernovae, Olritch 6. It would explode into a beautiful pink and red rose-shaped nebula eight million years after Rose’s time. He cursed the TARDIS for showing them to him and rubbing his loss in his face. Calmly but with a stubborn determination, the ship showed him the images again, before sending a picture of Rose into his mind. It was then, that the Doctor understood.

 

The Doctor stood up, and turned on the scanners in his ship, searching for any suitable supernovae. One after another, he dismissed them, muttering softly to himself. Too small, not enough energy, not enough gamma radiation, too much gamma radiation. Perfect, but too far back in time to be of use. And of course, just as he was rifling through the different possible supernovae, the Doctor heard the telltale alarm of a distress signal. He ignored it and kept on his search, but the TARDIS lurched suddenly and he found himself drifting through the void towards it. The controls were locked and the Doctor knew he couldn’t change his ships mind, so he resigned himself to his fate and allowed the TARDIS to take him to the signal.

 

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It had been a rather irritating affair, dealing with the signal’s source. It had taken the Doctor a good two weeks of linear time to resolve it and somehow he knew, that it would have been so much faster and easier had Rose been with him. She had always been good at spotting the things he missed. She would have seen what the sergeant was hiding. Had Rose been there, maybe things would have gone differently.

 

The Doctor returned to the TARDIS feeling dejected. His suit was grimy, his hair was all over the place and there was a scorch mark on his trousers left leg from running away from the explosion. After quickly changing his clothes to his identical, but not burned, suit, the Doctor reorganized his hair and returned to his search. The TARDIS hummed at him apologetically, but the Doctor ignored her.

 

Once he finally found the perfect supernova to draw energy from, the Doctor sent the TARDIS to it straight from the void. His trusty ship brought him exactly where he needed and the Doctor gently caressed the console despite his previous irritation at her. Once he was orbiting the dying star, he began to extract the star’s energy and feeling the TARDIS guide him, whispered Rose’s name, knowing she’d somehow get the message. 

 

It took nearly an hour of waiting, before the TARDIS alerted him that Rose had made it to where the rift was strongest. He activated the monitor and his hearts skipped a beat when Rose’s face appeared on it. For a moment, the Doctor wasn’t sure if he could do this, but he knew he owed her this much. A proper goodbye. He couldn’t have her forever, but he could at least have one more moment with her.

 

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The Doctor didn’t think he could feel worse after Canary Wharf, but when the connection cut off, the star’s energy having been depleted and the rift having closed, leaving his final words unsaid, he did. A single tear slid down his cheek as his fingers trembled on the TARDIS controls. She’d told him she loved him. The Doctor had always hoped and by Rassilon had he wanted to tell her he loved her too, but he’d run out of time again, like always. Ironic. A Time Lord, running out of time.

 

It must have been by some cruel twist of fate that he ran out of time now too, when his grieving was put to a halt with the sudden appearance of a ginger woman in a poofy white dress. Her mystery apparition in his ship took over his thoughts, allowing him a short reprieve from his sorrow.

 

Figuring out how Donna had managed to appear inside his TARDIS turned out to be a much more interesting task than the Doctor had anticipated. Donna was a headstrong woman and did not take ‘no’ for an answer, something he learned very quickly while hanging outside of the TARDIS, chasing the runaway bride through the highway. The Doctor’s first thought after rescuing Donna from the taxi was that she and Rose would get along fantastically, teasing him relentlessly whenever he rambled on and keeping him in line. His longing for Rose increased even more when he’d had to save Donna and her family from the ‘killer Christmas tree’. He’d rescued Rose in a similar fashion last Christmas, right after he’d regenerated. 

 

In some odd way, despite everything, the Doctor was glad for Donna’s company. Her strong, commanding persona kept him from falling down too far into his despair. Having the added distraction of solving another mystery, mainly how Donna had been infected with Huon particles, certainly helped as well. He’d even found himself unable to help the bubbling laughter that erupted from his lips when he, Donna and her fiance had rolled along the H.C. Clements basement on segways. A strange feeling of hope was mixed in there as well, but the absurdity of the moment overwhelmed it. Was there any stranger sight than a woman, in her wedding dress, speeding through a dark basement on a segway after all? 

 

Rose, when she came back for me on the Game Station. He thought, bringing him out of his momentary good mood.

 

Shaking himself out of his grief, the Doctor focused on helping Donna and on stopping the Racnoss Empress they’d discovered in the basement. He’d faced loss before, he just needed a distraction, and stopping the Racnoss had to be it. A second distraction after the TARDIS had sent him on that mission. So he worked. He helped Donna, he watched as her fiance backstabbed her and did his best to comfort her. He took her to see the creation of the Earth and he promised her, knowing it was something Rose would do, that he’d make sure she lived through this. Then Donna had disappeared and his anger and sorrow had boiled over again. There was a tug at the back of his head, a strange familiar feeling, but he didn’t have time to ponder on it. Donna needed help and he refused to lose someone else.

 

The Doctor knew exactly where to find Donna and being as smart as he was, he had a plan faster than the Racnoss Empress could blink. Soon enough, he was there, facing her down at the top of the stairs, releasing Donna from her web prison and readying himself to flood the Empress and her children down to the center of the Earth. He stopped when he thought he heard a voice, but when he saw nothing, he refocused his attention on the Racnoss. The Doctor was about to shout out his ultimatum, when he thought he heard a familiar voice call his name again, louder this time. He slowly raised his head up to look towards the sound. The Doctor’s eyes widened, his hearts began to beat faster and his lip began to tremble as he stared into the eyes of one yellow and pink human woman hanging off the Racnoss’ web. 

 

“Rose?”

 

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The bewilderment in the Doctor's face was certainly one to remember, Rose thought to herself as the man and the arachnid stared in confusion at her. She smiled so widely that it almost hurt.

 

”Stop staring and get me out of here!” Rose shouted with a laugh and watched as the Doctor brought up his sonic again, repeating what he had done with Donna before. She felt the webbing give away and scrambled to take hold of a longer strand that she could use to swing to the Doctor, the TARDIS key still safely in her grip. The moment Rose was free, she held on and used her weight to direct the makeshift rope towards the platform the Doctor was standing on. Still staring at her completely bewildered, the Doctor opened his arms and caught Rose as she reached him. After helping her climb across the railing, the Doctor croaked out a confused 'what' and Rose grinned at him. She could still sense sorrow from him, but the anger she’d felt before was partly gone.

 

”Hello!” She said, smiling widely, unable to contain her mirth. The Doctor's hands were still on her waist from when he'd helped pull her over the railing and Rose couldn't help but pull closer a little.

 

”Hello.” He repeated back to her. ”What? How?” the Doctor asked, but an abrupt joyous scream from the Racnoss Empress below them brought him out of his stupor. Rose looked down to where he was staring and saw as smaller versions of the Empress were slowly crawling up the walls of the hole she had just swung over. They were now much closer than they had been the last time she looked down.

 

”Ok, reunion later! Save the world!” Rose shouted and ran off down the steps towards a very angry and bewildered looking Donna. The Doctor nodded and then took his opportunity to speak to the Empress, pushing aside his confusion and focusing on the task at hand. Rose could hear him speak to the arachnid creature with the same authority she'd heard him use on dozens of other alien species before, and she couldn't help the smile on her face as she reached Donna.

 

”You alright?” Rose asked and watched as Donna slowly nodded.

 

”Who are you?”

 

”I'm R-” but Rose was soon cut off, as dozens of robots surrounded the room. Rose thought they looked familiar, like the strange robot Santa's that had attacked her and her family the previous Christmas. She pushed Donna behind her, shielding her from the view of the robot creatures.

 

”At arms!” The Empress screamed and the robots lifted their guns towards the Doctor. ”Take aim! And-” 

 

”Relax.” The Doctor said calmly, holding up a remote control as the robots around them slumped. 

 

”What did you do?” Donna asked, pushing out from behind Rose and the doctor wiggled the remote control in his hand, grinning widely at the two women. 

 

”Nice one, Doctor!” Rose congratulated and watched with elation as the Doctor's grin widened, though his eyes still betrayed his confusion as to how Rose was there. Despite that, pride and happiness filled her and the six months of heartbreak she had felt seemed to melt away in an instant. The Doctor looked away from Rose to stare back at the Racnoss Empress when she let out a furious wail.

 

”Roboforms are not necessary. My children may feast on Martian flesh.” 

 

”Oh, but I'm not from Mars.” The Doctor retorted, and Rose watched as his expression slightly shifted. She could see the frustration and sadness on his features and Rose swore, she could feel the same emotions again herself too. 

 

”Then where?” The Empress demanded, and the Doctor responded with a tone seeped in melancholy.

 

”My home planet is far away and long since gone. But its name lives on. Gallifrey.” The Empress's eyes widened in horror as she screeched bloody murder at the Doctor. ”I warned you. You did this.” The Doctor said wistfully, a flicker of the oncoming storm in his eyes, and dug out a bauble from his pocket. After a pregnant pause, he added: “I’m sorry, I’m so sorry.” before lifting his arm and throwing the bauble in his grasp at the wall behind the Empress. The arachnid creature screamed and Rose saw the water begin to fill the room, pouring down the hole and soaking both her and Donna. She took the ginger's hand and started leading her up the steps towards where the Doctor was standing, staring at the destruction below him. Rose needed to get him out of here, to snap him out of it, but Donna spoke out before they could reach him.

 

”Doctor! You can stop now!” Donna yelled at him, breaking him out of his stupor. Rose felt a wave of affection for the ginger as they reached the Doctor at the platform. He grabbed Rose's hand unconsciously and shouted at both women to run towards a ladder at the top of the stairs. They quickly began to ascend, Rose climbing behind the other two, wavering a little on the rungs, because of the now returning, pounding headache, not partaking in the Doctor and Donna's frantic discussion. When Rose climbed out of the manhole, the Doctor was there, holding out a hand to help her up. She took it with a smile and let him pull her up the rest of the way, finding herself wrapped up in a wet, shaky hug. Rose leaned into the embrace, but pulled away shortly after when Donna's voice interrupted them.

 

”We've drained the Thames.” Rose looked towards where the river should be, but saw it was indeed empty. Her eyes met the Doctor's and without meaning to, they both burst into hysterical giggles while Donna stared at them in shock. ”Is this funny to you two?” She asked incredulously, as the pair's giggles died down. The Doctor cleared his throat and started to lead Donna back through where they entered the building from originally. Rose reached for his hand as they walked, the Doctor still looking unsure. Rose could tell he had a hard time believing she was back. She squeezed his hand reassuringly when she took it and walked back to the TARDIS with him and Donna in silence. 

 

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The bag Rose had with her had been thoroughly soaked and while the Doctor maneuvered the TARDIS to take Donna back home, she went to find her room on the ship. She didn’t want to let the Doctor away from her sight yet, but Rose knew he was deep in thought the entire journey back to the TARDIS and needed time to think. She could give him that time as she slowly found her way back through the familiar corridors. Pleased to find her room where she remembered it being, Rose opened the door and stepped inside. 

 

Her room was just as she had left it, the queen sized bed looking inviting and soft, her backpack still in the corner where she had dumped it after their last adventure, the picture frames from times she had been able to drag the Doctor into a photo booth still on top of the bedside table. Rose couldn’t help but smile as she made her way to the dresser and put everything in her bag down on a towel to dry. The phone she had in the bag was fine, oddly enough. Rose figured it must have been because of the upgrades the Doctor had installed back when they first met Lady Cassandra. She patted it dry with a second towel the TARDIS had helpfully provided, and then changed out of her own drenched clothes, grabbing the simple black top and jeans that were ready to go on her bed. My bed . Rose smiled and gently stroked the wall of her room, feeling a sudden urge to hug the TARDIS. As she did, leaning her whole body against the wall, arms spread wide as though embracing it, she heard the familiar voice whisper happily.

 

My wolf. And Rose beamed.

 

”I missed you.” She told the ship lovingly, placing another gentle caress on the wall. She lingered at the entryway to her room and smiled warmly as she eventually headed out when the ship jolted to a stop. Walking slowly, remembering her promise to herself to give the Doctor space, Rose walked out to the console room to find it empty. She strode over to the door and hopped out of the TARDIS, spotting the Doctor and Donna talking a short distance away, snow gently falling on their hair. Walking over to them, Rose couldn't help the skip in her step. She felt like she was on cloud nine. 

 

”And you. So, what will you do with yourself now?” The Doctor asked Donna when Rose reached his side. She instinctively took his hand and smiled at the ginger before them.

 

”Not getting married, for starters. And I'm not going to temp anymore. I don't know. Travel. See a bit more of planet Earth. Walk in the dust. Just go out there and do something.” Donna mused, and Rose saw the little gleam in the Doctor's eye. She knew what it meant, he wanted to ask her to come with them.

 

”Come with us.” She suggested, seeing Donna watch her curiously. “I mean, if that’s alright, Doctor?” Rose quickly added, looking up at the Doctor and gauging his reaction. He nodded without looking at her, which made Rose worry. She let go of his hand.

 

”Who are you again? You kind of just appeared out of nowhere.”

 

”I'm Rose. Rose Tyler. And it's a long story.” Rose said, holding out her right hand towards Donna who shook it gingerly. ”So, want to come with us? See the stars?” Rose asked, turning her head up to look at the Doctor again, who still wouldn’t look at her.

 

”No. You two look like you live your lives like this.” The Doctor rubbed at the back of his head at the comment.

 

”Not all the time.” he shrugged, and Rose couldn't help rolling her eyes while smiling. But most of the time

 

”I think you do.” Donna said and Rose marveled at how well she seemed to read the Doctor. ”And I couldn't.” the ginger added. 

 

”It's beautiful out there. You sure you won't reconsider?” Rose tried, seeing the Doctor's slight disappointment.

 

”Yeah, you two scare me to death. I mean you bloody made it snow!” Donna said, pointing to the Doctor. She then turned to face Rose. ”And you appear out of nowhere as though all of this is normal. And we drained the Thames and both of you just laughed.” the ginger said accusingly.

 

”Right.” the Doctor looked down uncomfortably. Rose stared at her feet and bit her lip.

 

”Tell you what I will do, though. Christmas dinner.” The Doctor glanced to Rose, back to Donna, then back to Rose again and finally settled on staring at Donna blankly. ”Oh, come on.” 

 

”I- I think Rose and I have some talking to do.” He said simply and Rose couldn’t recognize the tone in his voice. Donna seemed to hesitate for a moment, before shrugging.

 

”Alright then. One more question though. That friend of yours. This her?” Donna asked, pointing to Rose. Rose looked questioningly at the Doctor, who smiled gently, if with uncertainty, and nodded.

 

”You keep him out of trouble.” Donna ordered and Rose gave her a toothy grin.

 

”I'll try.” She said, knowing very well that no matter where they went, trouble was certain to find them eventually. Rose then watched as Donna turned around and walked over to her house. She felt a tug at her arm and looked up at the Doctor who still looked at her like she was an impossibility. Before he could speak, like Rose knew he was going to, they were interrupted by Donna’s sudden yell.

 

“Doctor! Doctor!” Donna was peeking out from behind her front door, the hem of her dress flowing softly in the wind.


“Blimey, you can shout.” The Doctor said wincing. Rose laughed.

 

“Am I ever going to see you two again?” 

 

“If we’re lucky.” he replied, gripping Rose’s hand tightly. The response seemed to be enough for Donna, who waved the Doctor and Rose goodbye and slipped back inside her house. The duo watched the house for a while and saw as Donna joined her family in the living room through the window. The Doctor looked down at Rose.

 

”Come on, we should talk.” He told her and started leading her back to the TARDIS. Rose lingered behind a little, hesitating by the TARDIS door.

 

”So, you still want me to come with you?” The Doctor stopped in his tracks. Her question from last Christmas echoed in her mind.

 

”Of course I do. Do you... do you not want to come with me anymore? I assumed you did, when you asked Donna to travel with 'us'.” 

 

”I want nothing in this world more than that.” Rose told him and the Doctor’s shoulders visibly relaxed, some of the disbelief melting away from his features. “I just had to make sure.” Rose said quietly and allowed the Doctor to pull her inside the ship.

 

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Back on the TARDIS, the Doctor quickly dried off his clothes using his Sonic Screwdriver, and then looked to Rose, who had taken a seat by the console. He nodded for her to follow him, and she did as asked, hopping up and watching curiously where the Doctor was currently leading her. She looked at him with a frown when she saw their destination: The med-bay.

 

”Really, the med-bay Doctor?” 

 

”I need to make sure you're, well.. You.” He said hesitantly. ”And that you're ok.” he added hastily, seeing the look on Rose’s face. “I want to make sure nothing is wrong, after however it is you managed to get back here. Dimension hopping isn't exactly healthy.” He added sternly, and Rose relented, stepping inside, remembering how beat up the TARDIS had been after their accidental venture to Pete’s world. The Doctor motioned for Rose to take a seat on the bed in the room and dug out an expanse of scanners and strange looking equipment and placed them on the table. Most of the equipment looked foreign to Rose and she realized he must be about to do some very in-depth testing, something he had never had to do while she had originally been traveling with him. But first, he removed his Sonic from his larger-on-the-inside pockets. The Doctor gave Rose a quick once over with it, humming quietly to himself when he turned to scan her again. His brow furrowed in confusion as he went to scan her for a third time.

 

”What is it?” Rose asked, getting impatient with the Doctor's fiddling.

 

”That's weird.” The Doctor said, grabbing Rose's chin and staring intently into her eyes. Rose sat still and tried not to blink as the Doctor kept examining her. She would have felt annoyed with his behavior, had she not been so accustomed to it. Even after six months apart, his ministrations felt so natural, so right. 

 

”Well?” She said, when the Doctor finally pulled away.

 

”Well...” He started, pausing momentarily to think. ”You're clearly you, but...” He paused again.

 

”But what, Doctor?” Rose said, rubbing at her forehead, feeling her headache return with a vengeance now that the majority of the adrenaline had worn off. The Doctor noticed this, pulled out a small bottle from his bigger-on-the-inside pockets - How much can he fit in there? Rose wondered - and handed a small pill to her. “Thanks.” Rose said, recognizing it as a 51st century painkiller. It dulled her headache instantly and she allowed herself to exhale in relief. “So, what’s wrong with me? Spill.”

 

”I don't know if there’s anything wrong, per se, but... There's something there, but I can't figure out what it is and the Sonic wont tell me. Give me a sec.” He said and grabbed a few other machines and scanned Rose with them, occasionally rubbing at the back of his head. ”Huh, nothing.” He mumbled to himself as he fiddled with an alarmingly large beeping object. The Doctor quickly put it down and rushed over to one of the cabinets on the far side of the room, bringing out a gadget that looked old and nearly unused. Rose recognized the shapes on it as Gallifreyan symbols. He brought it over to Rose and the blonde watched as the machine beeped in front of her while the Doctor read something on the screen on the other side. ”What?” He nearly shouted, glaring at the screen with wide eyes.

 

”Care to explain, Doctor?” Rose said impatiently.

 

”There's still Huon particles inside you.” He said. ”But that shouldn't be possible, my Sonic should detect them. I mean, it detected something, but it should have spotted Huon particles.” The Doctor grabbed his sonic again and gave Rose another scan. ”It's like they're inactive somehow.” 

 

”Are they dangerous?” Rose asked timidly, seeing the concerned expression on the Doctor's face.

 

”They're the particles inside the heart of the TARDIS. You remember when you looked into it to get back to me, right?” Rose nodded and hummed in affirmation, then watched as the Doctor started pacing around the room. 

 

”There was a golden light when I looked in there. The same golden light we saw when Blon looked into it. It's the same light that's been leading me back here.” She said softly, continuing to follow the Doctor's pacing figure with her eyes.

 

”Right, that golden light is the Huon particles in their active form. I've never seen inactive Huon particles, in theory they shouldn't exist, but somehow they're in you. Like they're a part of you somehow. I’d hazard a guess that they caused that headache you had. Drained some of your energy when they activated.”

 

“I found a vial on Pete’s world. In a lab. It was the same color golden light as the heart of the TARDIS. Those must have been Huon particles too…” Rose thought.

 

“There were Huon particles in the other world?”

 

“Just the ones I drank, from what I know. Torchwood never found any anywhere else at least. I just saw them at the H.C. Clements lab and something told me they were important and that I was meant to drink them. I think they drained out of me when I arrived here though, like they drained out of Donna.” Rose answered, remembering as she watched the golden light flowing out of her into the hole beneath the web where she had been hanging at the time. “Well, the active ones I guess.”

 

”Am I in danger?” Rose asked, seeing the concerned, thoughtful look on the Doctor's face. He looked up at her. Rose's face was looking back at him with worry and he immediately ceased pacing and rushed over to her.

 

”No, I don't think so.” the Doctor told her reassuringly. ”You're a perfectly healthy 20-year-old in every possible way. Except for a few inert Huon particles it seems. Completely fine.” He added for dramatic effect, grasping Rose by the shoulders and smiling brightly at her.

 

”I'm 21, Doctor.” Rose said with a smile, looking at him knowingly. 

 

”Yes, you are!” Rose kept looking at him with that expression the Doctor had become so accustomed to. He was clearly missing something. When it dawned on him, his brow scrunched up in confusion. ”You're 21, but your body is 20. Your physical form has barely aged at all since Satellite 5, since the Game Station.” He said soberly. 

 

“I haven’t aged?” 

 

“No, you’ve aged! But very little. Almost like…” The Doctor paused and shook his head. “Can’t be.” 

 

”So, is that bad?”

 

”I don’t know, but I don’t think so.”

 

”My mum said something about me being out there in the stars in 40 to 50 years and not being human anymore.” Rose said downcast. 

 

”Oh, you're still very much human. I don't think whatever this is, will change that Rose.” the Doctor pulled Rose off the bed she was sitting on. ”We can figure this out later, ok? I promise.” his reassurance calmed Rose, who happily took the Doctor's hands in hers. 

 

”Alright, we’ll figure it out later then. Now I do believe you promised we were going to talk, yeah?” Rose said, flashing her signature toothy smile at the Doctor, her pink tongue peeking out slightly between her pearly white teeth. The Doctor felt a surge of happiness and disbelief fill him as he looked down at Rose's beautiful smile. ”Come on!” Rose pulled on his arm as she started to lead the Doctor out of the med-bay.

Chapter Text

Rose and the Doctor arrived at the TARDIS library moments later and sat down on the plush sofa together. They spent a few moments in silence, simply looking at each other in awe, and the Doctor could literally feel the love radiating from Rose. Staring into her warm brown eyes almost made his own water.

 

”How are you here?” he asked, still holding on to Rose's hands.

 

”Long story.” she smiled, biting her lower lip. 

 

”I could...” the Doctor hesitated, reluctantly removing his hands from Rose's and bringing them to her temple. ”May I?” he asked cautiously. “If you don’t want to explain it all.” Rose nodded and even without delving into her mind yet, the Doctor felt the trust she had towards him and for a moment, he was overwhelmed with emotion. Fighting back the wetness in his eyes, he closed them and told Rose to breathe calmly. ”Just focus on how you got back. If there's anything you don't want me to see, imagine a door.” Rose nodded again and sat as still as she could. 

 

“How do I let you into my mind?”

 

“You just have to welcome me in.” Rose hummed with understanding and looked at the Doctor expectantly. “Are you ready?” 

 

“Yeah.” As soon as she had told the Doctor she was ready, Rose felt the prodding of his presence in the back of her mind, gentle and uncertain. She welcomed him like he told her to, imagining him entering through an open door, the door to her bedroom on the TARDIS. She didn’t know why she thought of her bedroom, but it felt right. Or perhaps it was where she really was welcoming him into: her bedroom on the TARDIS, just inside her mind. It was far bigger, though, she realized, but couldn’t reason why. Thinking about it was just confusing her, so instead, Rose began to concentrate on her memories of the past six months.

 

When the Doctor lingered on the edge of Rose’s mind, he waited for her to let him in, feeling strangely nervous and uncertain. When he saw a door forming in front of him, he gingerly pulled it open and found himself standing inside Rose’s bedroom on the TARDIS, except far larger. Humans with such organized minds were rare, but somehow the Doctor didn’t find it weird that Rose happened to be one of them. She had absorbed the time vortex once, after all, and survived for an unbelievably long time. Longer than even he had, in fact.

 

The Doctor stepped inside the room and began to look around as it expanded even further, the pink walls making way for more doors, some open, others closed. Each door led to different memories, he knew, but he was only concerned with one. He didn’t want to intrude, despite Rose’s insistent voice in his head telling him it was ok. The Doctor felt tempted of course, but he had a reason for this visit, and he didn’t want to prolong it too much. Human mind’s weren’t as readily equipped for such visitations as naturally telepathic species were. Extended explorations of their minds could cause harm and causing Rose pain was the last thing the Doctor wanted.

 

He looked around at the different open doors, trying to discern which one was the one that held the memories he sought, but the hallways behind them revealed too little.

 

Focus on how you got back, Rose.”   He pleaded through the connection and felt as the room began to shift. The doors changed places until there was only one directly in front of him and the Doctor confidently walked inside. 

 

As Rose focused, the Doctor began to see her memories take form in the hallway around him. The further he looked, the more recent the memories were and as he started walking forwards, he could sense every emotion Rose had felt as the memories were taking place. They began with an overwhelming sorrow and the Doctor knew it was from loss. Losing him. The first images that flashed by on the walls were the moments after Rose had nearly fallen into the void and the Doctor didn’t want to linger here, so he rushed further inside the hall. Rose’s time in the alternate world was playing on fast forward around him as he moved onward, but the guilt that clouded his thoughts as her sadness continued was too distracting for him to discern how long ago those memories were. 

 

The Doctor felt a soothing, ghostly caress on his cheek and knew it was Rose reaching out for him, both to apologize to him and assure him it wasn’t his fault. He closed his eyes and leaned into the phantom touch allowing himself to fully feel her presence. She soon urged him forwards and the Doctor felt the hall shift around him again. When he opened his eyes, he saw memories zooming by around him, until they abruptly came to a stop. The Doctor saw the first sign of the Bad Wolf at the hotel parking lot. He was watching a hand reach for it through Rose’s eyes, the memory slightly obscured by the golden light from the letters and what looked like Huon particles coursing through the air in front of Rose’s eyes. He saw the visions she had seen, the TARDIS, more of the golden glow and he could feel the searing headache assaulting her. Concerned, the Doctor watched Rose retrace her steps to the beach and back to the hotel, before the memory faded to black. He moved on.

 

Right after the first memory, only a few steps forward, the Doctor saw Rose, Jackie, Pete and Mickey boarding an airplane and now that the Doctor knew what to look for - mainly the Bad Wolf - it was easy to scan the jumble of memories for the ones he needed. He saw the writing on the airplane toilet's mirror and watched as Rose stared at her own reflection in awe, Huon particles once again dancing in her brown eyes. She looked eerily like she had when she rescued him on the Game Station, powerful and beautiful, almost like a goddess. The Doctor saw himself leaning out of the TARDIS and braced himself to feel the headache he knew was coming. He allowed the hope that took over Rose wash over him in that moment, before quickly moving forward.

 

He continued watching her memories of the days - no, weeks, he realized - play around him, from the Bad Wolf at the Torchwood offices, all the way to when she marched over to the graffiti in the Bad Wolf Laboratory. He saw her drinking the Huon particles like she’d said and watched and felt as Rose was pulled through the void and back into his world. The Doctor saw as Rose spotted him for the first time since being separated and confusion filled him when he realized that Rose had felt how miserable he was. 

 

The memories ended and the Doctor found himself back inside the larger-than-in-reality bedroom Rose had on his ship, his mind reeling with far more questions than answers. It was clear the Bad Wolf had led her here and that she wasn’t completely gone from Rose’s mind like he had thought. If the Bad Wolf was indeed still occupying some part of Rose’s mind, the Doctor knew he had to speak to her. 

 

”Can I look at the memories of when you were Bad Wolf the first time? I'll make sure you won't remember them, I still don't know if they're dangerous. ” The Doctor whispered to Rose, who nodded without hesitation. The Doctor allowed her unconditional trust wash over him, feeling awed at the intensity of her affection towards him. He sent her a caress, not unlike the reassuring one she had sent him before and slowly began to ease her into sleep.

 

Once the Doctor was certain Rose was deep in dreamless slumber, he began to seek the Bad Wolf entity inside her head. It wasn’t hard to find a path to her, as the moment Rose had fallen into blissful unconsciousness, the bedroom he had stood in before shrunk to the size it was in real life and the door opened with a creak behind him. When the Doctor swerved around, he watched the bright, golden light flowing inside the room from the hall. He stepped outside, following the traces of gold through her well organized mind.

 

At the end of the light, he found the Bad Wolf , looking exactly how Rose had looked when she had saved him at the Game Station so long ago. He was standing in what looked to be the TARDIS’ console room and the Bad Wolf was perched on top of the console, beckoning him closer.

 

My Doctor. She spoke with Rose's voice as the Doctor approached her. He watched her curiously, stopping a mere few feet away from her radiant form.

 

You have questions for me. The Bad Wolf stated simply and watched the Doctor nod. She leaned back against the console and cocked her head to the side, waiting for him to speak.

 

How are you here?”   The Bad Wolf laughed.

 

I have always been here, my Doctor. Hidden away in the recesses of Rose’s mind. She paused and looked pointedly at the Doctor. In my mind.

 

“But I took the vortex away from Rose.” 

 

Yes, but I am not the vortex. I am, and always have been, a part of Rose. A part she had been unaware of until she stared into the heart of the TARDIS. The Bad Wolf’s voice was soft as she spoke, the ethereal quality in it making it sound almost haunting. When she spoke again, the Doctor realized her voice was coming from everywhere around him.  

 

Merging with the TARDIS woke up the potential hidden deep in her. Surely you know, Doctor, that every human has more potential for greatness than they even know. This potential is hardly ever fully utilized, but Rose… She tapped into it all when she merged with your ship. For a moment, we were one, the TARDIS and Rose. The Bad Wolf emphasized her telling with a quick wave of her fingers, drawing a golden rose and a golden box in the air above her. The drawings swirled together to become one forming the shape of a large golden wolf. The drawing disappeared as the Wolf continued her story.

 

You absorbed the vortex from her, but I had already woken up. You remember her words back then, correct? The Doctor nodded.

 

I am the Bad Wolf. I create myself.“

 

Indeed, my Doctor. She didn’t mean it quite as you thought, however. The Bad Wolf gave him a sly smile.

 

But I cannot tell you more now. The Doctor was about to protest, but the Wolf held her hand up to silence him.

 

You may see what Rose remembers of that night, but the rest, she must remember herself. But, she spoke, pressing a warm hand to the Doctor's cheek, you needn't worry about her. She is safe and well and in no danger. Not from me.

 

As the Bad Wolf raised her other hand to the Doctor’s temple, he saw the quick flash of the little Rose remembered from the Game Station. He saw as Rose, Jackie and Mickey succeeded in prying open the grate beneath which the TARDIS’ heart waited. He saw Rose looking deep into it, the memory illuminated by the Huon particles’ golden glow and then darkness. The next thing Rose remembered was waking up back in the TARDIS some moments later, confused and disoriented, her head aching like mad. When the vision dissipated and the Wolf released her hold on the Doctor, the Time Lord blinked, looking questioningly at the Bad Wolf .

 

“That’s everything?”

 

Yes. She’ll remember more in time, but for now, that is all she and I can show you. She smiled and gently pushed the Doctor away, letting him know it was time to leave.

 

Now, you should go back to her. There is nothing more for you to learn here right now. You’ve been apart too long already. He looked at her and nodded. He had been in Rose’s mind long enough. 

 

Before the Doctor began to retreat from the chamber of Rose’s mind that the Bad Wolf resided in, he heard her whisper to him one last time.

 

Remember, we promised you forever, my Doctor. The temptation to turn back around was strong, but the Doctor felt himself being pushed forwards, unable to do more than move one foot in front of the other through the hallway and finally through an open door. The door closed behind him and the Doctor found himself back inside the small bedroom in Rose’s mind. Confused, but strangely soothed by the Bad Wolf 's words, the Doctor began to rouse Rose from her sleep.

 

Once he felt Rose return to consciousness, the Doctor gently and slowly eased out of her mind. The moment he left, Rose felt a momentary emptiness in her head. She blinked slowly when the Doctor's fingers left her temple and looked up at him. 

 

”Did you see anything?” Rose asked, eyeing the Doctor curiously.

 

”Nothing new, but... I think you're safe. I don't think you're in any danger.” He told her, the Bad Wolf 's promise of 'forever' repeating in his mind. ”You promised me forever.” The Doctor muttered quietly.

 

”I did.” Rose smiled at him. ”And I meant it.” They remained silent for a moment, just staring at each other and taking in each other’s presence. The Doctor contemplated telling Rose about the Bad Wolf, but her instructions to allow Rose to remember on her own stopped him.

 

”Maybe...” the Doctor began, but drifted off into thought. The pregnant pause between them continued for a few more minutes, before the Doctor finally continued. ”Well, we'll figure it out together.” he said with a smile. He thought back to everything he saw in Rose's mind, and remembered the hallway of memories he had seen. ”How long has it been for you, since we were separated?” 

 

”A bit over six months. July 8th, that's the day I landed in the parallel world.”

 

”It's been six months for you?” He whispered to her, guilt once more flooding his thoughts.

 

”Yeah. And don’t you start feeling guilty. It’s not your fault.” Rose admonished him, seeing his expression shift. “How long's it been for you then?” 

 

”A few weeks.” he replied. ”I'm sorry.” 

 

”What exactly are you sorry for?”

 

”I could feel how you felt. When I was in your head.” his eyes watered again. ”You were so sad and heartbroken. Over me.” The Doctor looked down at his lap.

 

”I told ya, it’s not your fault. Yes, I was sad, but I’m not anymore. I’m here and I'm fine now.” Rose said, bringing a gentle hand to the Doctor's cheek. ”I'm here.” Her lips curled into a smile. “I can't believe I'm here.” Rose shouted out in glee and slumped against the Doctor's chest, laughing as happy tears streamed down her cheeks.

 

”Yes, you are.” The Doctor said with such fondness that it left Rose speechless. His hands slowly snaked around her waist as he lay his head on top of hers, planting a soft kiss on her temple. She allowed herself to lay there in silence, listening to the Doctor's dual heart beat. She'd missed this. The Doctor pulled her closer.

 

”I love you.” Rose whispered without meaning to when she felt the Doctor's hands gently caressing her hair. The movement abruptly stopped and Rose looked up at him, thinking back to the beach where she'd first confessed to him. A blush rose on her cheeks as the Doctor stared at her in awe, like he could hardly believe what he had heard. Rose had said it once before, of course, but that was when she thought she would never see him again. She had truly meant it then?

 

While the Doctor was stuck watching her, his jaw hanging open and eyes wide and almost disbelieving, his final words on Bad Wolf Bay echoed in Rose’s mind. His unfinished sentence playing on repeat in her head. ”What were you going to say?” She asked, voice wavering ever so slightly.

 

”What?” 

 

”Back on the beach. What were you going to say?” The Doctor stopped staring at Rose and quickly pulled her back into his embrace. Her cheek lay on his chest and she was listening to his hearts beating again. They were beating faster than before. Rose tried to catch a peek of his face, but he had hidden it from her view by leaning his chin on her head and looking away.

 

”Does it need saying?” The Doctor asked as he gently started brushing his hands through Rose’s hair again. Rose allowed herself to exhale in contemptment as the soft strokes through her locks continued. The Doctor knew how she felt about him, but hadn’t pushed her away. That was enough. 

 

“No. I guess not.” She smiled. When the Doctor pulled back in apparent surprise at her reply, Rose let out a quick breath that sounded halfway to a laugh, one that could have turned into one were it not for the fact it seemed to be hard to breathe because of the weight of the emotions swirling in her belly. The Doctor hesitated and stiffened.

 

Bad Wolf Bay had happened less than 8 hours ago for the Doctor. He’d nearly been able to confess to her back then, but time had run out on him. Was this some cruel dream his overactive mind had conjured up to torture him or did he really have a second chance to tell her?

 

”This is not a dream?” He asked, gazing nervously into Rose's eyes.

 

”It's real, Doctor. My Doctor.” Rose pulled the Doctor’s hand to her chest, letting him feel her heartbeat. “I’m really here.” This seemed to make the Doctor relax ever so slightly, but most of the tension was still visible in his shoulders. Perhaps she was real. Maybe Rose really was here, her heartbeat sounded real enough, after all, but would she really want to stay with him forever?

 

“I can’t give you a normal life, Rose.” The Doctor muttered nervously, selfishly hoping she wouldn’t mind. “A house, a family… A safe life.” He waited with bated breath for her reply. Rose didn’t hesitate and answered him instantly with a gentle shake of her head.

 

“I don’t want that. The aliens, the danger, the horrors, they’re all worth it, because I have you.” Her hand came to rest on top of his, still pressed to her chest. The Doctor could feel her heartbeat quickening. “It’s not the traveling or the new places you take me to that make it all worth it, it’s you. I love this life, because of you.” Her eyes closed as she took in a deep breath. “I don’t need a house or a safe life. As long as I get to stay with you, for as long as you’ll have me, I’m happy.” 

 

“How long were you going to stay with me again?”

 

“Forever.” 

 

He smiled sweetly at Rose’s words and unable to stop himself, pressed his lips to her forehead. The love he felt from the woman in his arms overwhelmed him. His entire body seemed to be engulfed in her affection and a shiver ran down his spine. He shook and gently pressed another kiss to Rose's temple, still begging for this to not be a dream. Begging for all of this to be real like Rose had said it was. 


“What about you? How long will you let me stay with you?” 

 

“You can stay with me as long as you like.” A cheeky smile erupted on Rose’s face.

 

“So forever?” The Doctor nodded and a smile crept across his face as well.

 

“Forever.” He laughed. Hearing Rose's soft, pleased giggle made him feel so overcome with joy that he let all the old hesitation that came from her being a short-lived human and him being an old Time Lord wash away. Whether this was real or not, what did he have to lose by confessing to her, after all? Leaning down, the Doctor gently whispered in Rose’s ear.

 

”I was going to say... Rose Tyler…” He paused for what Rose thought was dramatic effect, but what was actually the Doctor trying to force down the lump of emotion lodged in his throat. Clearing it and taking a deep, long breath, he managed to compel himself to say the words he had meant to say back on Bad Wolf Bay. “I love you too.” His voice broke at those last four words, his pink and yellow human having destroyed his defensive walls completely. Rose could feel his shaky breath near her ear and couldn't stop the shudder that ran through her spine. She couldn't stop herself, not that she wanted to, and quickly, but gently twisted her fingers in the Doctor's plentiful hair and pulled him down for a passionate kiss. The Doctor looked taken aback for the briefest of moments, before he brought his arms to Rose's waist and pulled her even closer, deepening the kiss. 

 

Kissing Rose Tyler was everything the Doctor had ever imagined it would be, except far better. It was electrifying and it knocked the wind out of him, making him feel dizzy. Oh, he had kissed her before, but not in this body, not really. The kiss this body had received from the pink and yellow human before, happened when Rose had been possessed by Cassandra. The Doctor refused to count that. It wasn’t Rose after all. It didn’t matter if the lips that had pressed against his had been hers. Besides, this kiss felt so much better. It felt like heaven.

 

After what felt like far too short an amount of time to the Doctor, Rose pulled back, ending the kiss. She beamed up at the Doctor, wetting her lips with her tongue and looking extremely pleased. Rose laughed at the flustered, breathless expression on her Doctor's face.

 

He laughed softly with her, then quickly pulled her towards him capturing her mouth in another kiss, a slow and gentle, loving one this time as opposed to the needy, passionate one from seconds before. The Doctor then kissed the tip of her nose as Rose giggled once more. 

 

“I’ve wanted to do that for ages.” Rose told him.

 

“You have?” 

 

“Yeah.” She nodded and proceeded to plant a peck on the Doctor’s flushed cheek.

 

“Me too, but are you su-” Rose brought her hand to the Doctor’s lips, effectively stopping him from continuing that train of thought.


“No but’s, Doctor. I’m sure.”

 

“You don’t even know what I was going to say.” protested the Doctor, his lower lip jutting out in a pout. Rose shook her head.

 

“No, but I can guess. You were gonna ask if I was sure this is what I wanted. Being with you.” She was right of course and the Doctor groaned and bit his lip. “You trust me, don’t you?” 

 

“Of course I trust you, but Rose…” He sucked in a breath through gritted teeth when he felt the frustration Rose directed at him. “How can you know you want to be with me forever? What if I regenerate again? I’ll change.”

 

“I don’t care. Had I known the first time, I wouldn’t have then either. But you proved that you were still the same man, even though you looked different. If you regenerate…” Rose glared pointedly at the Doctor and he couldn’t hold back the slight squeak that escaped his lips at the look on her face. “Though you better not do that any time soon, ‘cause I don’t want to watch you die, but if you do… “ Her face returned to the soft, loving look she had been showering the Doctor in before. “I’ll still love you, cause you’ll still be you. The Doctor. My Doctor” When the Doctor’s concerned expression didn’t change, Rose’s own grew uncertain. “Unless you worry you might not...  want me anymore if you change?” 

 

“That won’t happen.” He told her quickly. “I’ll always want you-” Blushing, as he realized how his words must have sounded to Rose, who’s eyes went wide in surprise, the Doctor tried to double back. “I mean, I’ll always want you by my side… not like that. Not that I don’t-” Rose’s laughter stopped his rambling short. “What?”

 

“Nothing. I’ve just missed this. I’ve missed you.” 

 

“I missed you too, Rose.” She gave him an affectionate smile and leaned her head on his shoulder, letting out a big yawn. 

 

“Sorry. I haven’t really slept the past three days or so.” Rose apologized as another yawn threatened to escape from her lips. The Doctor gave her a chaste kiss on her forehead.

 

“It’s ok. It’s been a long day, we should both get some rest. Besides, we have time to figure this out.” He said as he helped Rose up from the sofa. 

 

“This?” 

 

“Well, what’s going on with you. And this. Us. What we are.” The Doctor gestured nervously to himself and to Rose.

 

“What do you want us to be?” The Doctor swallowed. Rose had always had a knack for asking the right questions, but right now, that quality was making the Doctor sweat.

 

“I want us to be together.” 

 

“Like boyfriend and girlfriend?” Rose asked hopefully.

 

“Yes. If you want.” The Doctor cursed at himself at how awkward he must have looked and sounded, rubbing the back of his head and looking bashfully away from Rose. She gave him the sweetest smile he had seen ever grace her features and he felt like he was melting.

 

“I’d like that.” 

 

“Yeah?”

 

“Yeah.” She confirmed. The Doctor entwined his fingers in hers and led her out of the library, back through the halls of his ship to the entryway of her room. He opened the door for Rose and was about to let go of her hand, but her fingers gripped his tightly.

 

“Stay?” Rose requested. “I don’t want to wake up alone and find out this was all a dream.” How could the Doctor say no to that? Besides, he understood how she felt. He felt the same way.

 

“Of course.” The Doctor replied and walked into Rose’s room with her. He looked at the large queen sized bed and noticed a comfortable pair of his pajamas neatly folded on top of it next to Rose’s. He glanced to the roof and sent the TARDIS a quick thank you through their telepathic link. Sometimes the Doctor marveled at his ships intuition.

 

“I’ll just get changed real quick.” Rose said as she hopped inside the sizable bathroom joined to her room. The Doctor stripped off his day clothes and quickly pulled on the pajamas the TARDIS had provided for him, before hanging his suit and jacket on the hangers by the door. Rose emerged from the bathroom with a clean, make-up free face, wearing her pink pajamas and looking as beautiful as ever, despite the dark bags under her eyes. She pulled the covers from her bed and sat down, patting the other side and beckoning the Doctor to join her. He did, and they both lay down on their sides, facing each other. 

 

Feeling like the distance was too much, the Doctor closed in and opened his arms as wide as he could in invitation. Rose accepted it with a smile and inched closer until she was snug against his chest. The Doctor wrapped his arms around her shoulders and kissed her gently on the lips.

 

“Good night Rose.” He said when Rose yawned again, leaning her head against his chest and snuggling into him, her other arm relaxed around his waist.

 

“Good night, Doctor. I love you.” Rose said, another yawn escaping her lips.

 

“I love you too, my Rose.” He whispered back and allowed himself to drift off into sleep, gently cradling the woman he loved in his arms and feeling happier than he had in years.