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Second Time Around

Chapter Text

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Sometime

Somewhere

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Rose wandered alone through a silent alien city.  The dark, empty streets were unsettling to her, as she looked up at the towering skyscrapers, wondering where all the people were.  It seemed unnatural.

They had landed the TARDIS in a dirty alley about an hour before after following some stray tech that the Doctor had picked up on the scanner.  After a cursory explanation of what they were looking for, he had insisted that they split up, so that the search would go quickly.  He ran off before she could even argue, much to her annoyance. So far, she had seen nothing that appeared to be outside of the ordinary for this planet. She wasn’t quite sure, though, having never been to this galaxy or time before. And so, lost in thought, under the inky black sky of an unfamiliar night, she aimlessly roamed the city blocks.

Rose looked up at the towering walls above her, and found herself thinking back to the Farosma Canyon.   The memory of that trip always left her feeling confused and off balance.  The Doctor had been his typical self on that trip, talking around the issues without ever actually properly addressing them.  He was never straight forward with her about emotional stuff.  But the impression that she had gotten from that trip was that he was worried about her.  He thought she was broken, in need of repair from a broken heart.  Initially she had believed that he was tiptoeing around her because he was angry with her, but now she realized it was something else entirely.  

Rose wasn't really sure how to bring it up with the Doctor, especially since he was continually avoiding her.  Feelings were something they never discussed.  In fact, it was something they went out of their way to never discuss. So how could she tell him that she was happy to have him back in her life?  Would he think she was a terrible person if she admitted that this was the life she wanted, and that, while she missed her former husband, she'd rather be with the Doctor?

More than once, she had wished that her mum was still in this universe, so that she could it all talk out with her.  Her mother had a lot of faults, but she had an incredible talent for seeing through all the chaos and finding clarity for Rose at a time of trouble.  

Instead, Rose continued to push her uncertainties to the side, while she bounced after the Doctor from one planet to another, adventure after adventure, trying desperately to prove that nothing was wrong.  But Rose could tell that it was clear to them both that things were not normal.  She couldn't think of any other reason why the Doctor had suggested that they split up on this search.  Usually they did all their sleuthing together. 

"Shiver and Shake," Rose whispered to herself, remembering a time when things were so much simpler between them. 

"What do you think you're doing?"

A stern voice interrupted Rose from her thoughts.  She turned to see two burly men in matching uniforms approaching, guns in hand.  She cursed under her breath, and turned to run, only to see a third officer blocking her exit.  She was trapped. 

Rose turned back to the man who had spoken, and grinned.  "Oh, you know...just out for a stroll."

"A stroll?" The officer repeated.  "Alone?  Do you have a death wish, sweetheart?"

"Since when is it not okay for a girl to take a walk?" Rose retorted.

"Where's your husband?"

"My husband?" Rose shot back.

"Come on, sweetheart.  Everyone knows it's the death penalty for a woman to be seen out of doors without her husband."

Rose's brain finally caught up with the officer's questioning, and she mentally cursed the Doctor for getting her into this predicament.  He had called this place a "primitive" planet, but she had no idea that it would be this ridiculous.  The Doctor should have known better than to leave her alone here. 

"My husband and I just got separated," Rose lied smoothly.  "He should be around here somewhere...DOCTOR!!!!"

"The girl lies," the officer determined, gesturing to his partners.  "Seize her!"

"DOCTOR!!!" Rose shouted again, louder this time.  Much to her relief he came sprinting around a corner shouting her name.  "Here he is!" Rose insisted desperately.  "My husband.  Now will you let me go?"

"Your what?" The Doctor blurted out, and Rose widened her eyes at him pointedly, trying to get him to play along.  

"This woman claims she's your property, sir," the officer explained to the Doctor.  "She was caught out in public without an escort.  Will you claim her as yours?"

"Of course I'm his!" Rose cried.  "Look, I'm wearing his ring and everything!"  Rose stuck her hand out under the officer's nose as evidence, and she glanced up to see the Doctor staring at her ring in horror, like an alien presence had invaded her finger and was slowly overtaking her brain.

"Sir?"  The Officer prodded him verbally once again, but the Doctor continued to gape silently at the whole situation.  

"Oh for goodness sakes!"  Rose burst out with, wrenching her arm out of the enforcers’ grasp and marching over to the Doctor before tugging his face down to meet hers in a forceful kiss.  The Doctor froze at first, but it didn't take long before he started responding, and it quickly deepened into something much more intense.  

The kiss quickly escaped her control.  She was trying to prove a point, to get the law enforcement men to back off, but instead she found herself growing lost in the moment, remembering something that she thought she would never feel again.  And the way the Doctor had begun to kiss her back made her suddenly question her belief that a relationship between them would never happen.  The Doctor was kissing her with a desperation that startled her. His lips were forceful, his tongue demanding, and Rose felt like her heart was bursting from the extent of the passion that seemed to be bursting from him.

Distantly, she realized that the officer and his deputies had backed away and left them to their passion.  But that wasn't enough to make her want to stop kissing the Doctor.  It was the need for air that eventually forced her to pull back and stare up at the Doctor in awe.

"Right...I think we made our point," the Doctor stammered out.  "They're not going to argue after that.  Back to the TARDIS?"

"Did you find the alien tech?" 

"Yeah, it was nothing.  Just a stray bit of rubble.  I disabled it.  Not a problem anymore.  Off we go?"  The Doctor turned and started walking off towards the TARDIS.  Rose stared after him for a long moment, before she remembered that being caught without him again would probably be a very bad idea.  She took off at a jog to catch up to him.

Her head was spinning as she followed him back to the TARDIS.  There had been this unspoken awkwardness between them ever since the Doctor had returned, but now Rose was certain that her actions had made everything worse.  What she had done might have saved her life.  But if he was so upset about the kiss, why did he respond to it?  Had he just been trying to play up the role for the police, or had he, like her, been caught up in the moment?

Was there a chance that maybe, just maybe, he felt something too? 

Rose shook the thought away almost immediately.   It was completely impossible that the Doctor might have feelings for her.  He had spent months now insisting on them getting back to life as normal on the TARDIS. Why would he insist on doing that if he had feelings for her?  He had to know that she had feelings for him.  

Didn’t he?

 

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June, 1915

London

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As the war progressed, Rose found the world changing around her.  Her boss, the shopkeeper, left to go fight in the war.  His wife begged Rose to run the place in his absence, so she found herself maintaining the shop in solitude most days.  The war had been going on for months, and already Britain was feeling the effects.  Word came almost daily of someone in the neighborhood leaving for war, or dying on the Western Front.  Money was scarcer than ever, both for John and Rose, and for the shop’s customers.   

Rose was surprised, when she locked up the shop after a particularly quiet day, to turn and find John standing across the street from the shop, watching and waiting for her.  Rose smiled at the sight of him and crossed the street to greet him.

"This is a surprise, John," she exclaimed as she greeted him with a swift kiss on the lips.  "What are you doing here?"

He didn't answer right away.  Rose's heart grew cold with fear as she took note of the dark look on his face.  It was similar, but not as fathomless, as the look on the Doctor's face when something was properly wrong.

"What is it?" she pressed him, her voice quivering nervously.  "Tell me."

"I was out," he explained in an emotionless voice. "So I decided to stop by.  I figured it would be best.  To see you right away, and tell you..."

"Tell me what?" Rose pushed again.  Her voice seemed to shake him out of whatever trance he was in, and his gaze refocused on her.

"You had to know this day was coming, Rose.  It's time.  I can't put it off any longer."

"Put what off?  What is it?"

"It's time for me to go, Rose.  Into the army.  I have to do my duty for King and country."

Rose froze, and stared at him in horror.  "Your...duty!" she exclaimed, spitting out the last word in disgust.  "It's not your duty."  

Rose instantly knew it was the wrong thing to say, even if it was complete and utter truth.  John's eyes darkened with anger now, and he stiffened as he took a step away from her.

"How can you say that?" he burst out in anger.  "Do you have no love for our country, Rose?  Our freedom?  We have to protect what's ours, and the Germans are coming closer every day.  Work is getting scarcer.  I'm doing nothing useful with myself.  I'm strong and able-bodied.  Of course it's my duty to go, to fight, to protect you.  What good am I if I don't go?"

"You do a lot of good here.  You're good for the children you tutor.  And you're good for me, John.  Without you, I've got nothing.  I can't lose you."

"I don't want to leave you alone," he swore.  "But I don't have a choice, Rose.  And it's too late anyway.  I've just come from the enlistment office.  I leave tomorrow."

His final words broke the last bit of strength Rose had left inside of her, and she immediately choked in a breath of air as she started to sob.  John collected her into his arms and rocked her lovingly, whispering soothing words into her ear, but Rose heard none of it.  All she could do was whisper into his chest the desperate thoughts racing through her head.

"Please don't die...you can't die...you don't even know how important you are.  I need you to stay alive..." she repeated over and over again as she cried into her husband's chest. 

Eventually, she collected herself together enough that she was able to tuck herself under his shoulder, while they slowly walked home.  She stayed close to him, unwilling to stray from his side for even a minute.  She was terrified that if she turned her back, he would disappear.  She needed every remaining second that she could possibly have with him.                                        

That night, John packed a suitcase, and gave her his futile promise that he would return from the war.  Eventually, they crawled into bed and made slow, desperate love to each other, trying to make it last as long as possible for fear that it would be the last time.  Afterwards, Rose tucked herself against his body, and looked up at him through blurry, drowsy eyes. 

"Please don't go,” she whispered, pleading with him one final time.  His only response was to press a soft kiss to her forehead, and she knew that his mind was made up.

When they awoke in the morning, John slowly dressed himself in his new military uniform for the first time.  They said their goodbyes, and before midday, he was gone.

Rose had no idea when she watched him walk away that she would never see her husband again.