“And that’s what friends do for each other, right?” the Doctor asks, skipping around the console with his typical manic hyperness as he sends the TARDIS into flight.
Rose nods stiffly, blinking back tears that try to break free. Somehow, she manages to swallow down the hurt long enough to bid the Doctor goodnight. “I’m goin’ to bed. Night, Doctor.” She half runs, half walks out of the console room, ignoring a perplexed Doctor calling out her name.
When she reaches her room, she runs inside and slams the door behind her, begging the TARDIS to hide her far, far away from the Doctor. God, she’d been so naive, so stupid to think he’d actually want more with her.
But ever since his spontaneous kiss several weeks ago, the one that had set her on fire after a ‘we saved the universe’ kind of day, he’d been none too subtle about ensuring that she understands their ‘friends only’ status, reminding her how good a friend she is, how much he loves traveling with friends, how his friends have been the ones to give him hope through his long life. Bloody hell. She gets it already.
Despite how much the Doctor tries to convince her the kiss had been a complete mistake, Rose still thinks he’s lying. To both himself and her. What she doesn’t understand is why he’s lying. Oh sure, he’s blathered on about some ‘curse of the Time Lords’ and some rot, but Rose doesn't buy it. She never has. He’s in love with her – or at least has decidedly not platonic feelings for her – and she doesn’t know what to do about it.
It comes down to the simple fact that he’ll live far longer than her and how he can’t take the risk of entwining his life with another’s. The problem is, Rose muses, is that he already has. Him and her, they’re two peas in a pod, as her Mum likes to say. She can’t imagine her life without him, and the way he reaches without hesitation for her hand with that daft grin on his face convinces her he feels the same way. The way he’s pushed her away the last several weeks has hurt more than she likes to admit.
With a frustrated growl, she throws her jacket into the corner of her room and stomps around angrily as she peels off her clothes. It’s not much, but throwing each item to the ground offers some modicum of relief. Once naked, she finally allows the tears to break free as shuddering sobs send her to her knees.
For so long she has loved this daft alien, but her human heart can only handle so much shallow rejection and heartbreak. As she cries, a strange sort of determination fills her heart and mind, and she rises to her feet to take a shower. If the Doctor refuses to address whatever thing exists between them, then she’s not going to sit idly by anymore and let the days pass by. It’s up to her, apparently, to approach him and directly face the issue of them.
Once she’s standing under the soothing stream of water, Rose asks the TARDIS to help her out whenever she decides to confront him. The Doctor’s a runner, but Rose trusts the ship will have her back and keep him where he needs to be. The lights in the ensuite flicker brightly around her, and she smiles, bolstered with a renewed spirit.
Well that was… odd. The Doctor stares after Rose as she abruptly runs from the console room. Upon their return to the TARDIS, she’d looked as though she was on the verge of tears.
Was it something he’d said?
The lights in the console room turn mauve.
“What?” he asks out loud. “I haven’t done anything.” The rotor pulses up and down a twice, changing from a soothing green to mauve.
Oh, well that’s… Ominous.
They’d just returned from another brilliant adventure, one in which he’d saved Rose at the last minute from a forced marriage, and he had carefully emphasized the importance of his friendship with her as he danced around the console. Was that it? The ‘friend’ comment?
The mauve darkens.
“But you know we can only be friends, and Rose has to understand, too. Even if… Even if she wants more.” There’s an uncomfortable prickle in his mind as the TARDIS expresses her annoyance. “Fine, even if I want more, too. We can’t. I can’t.”
It annoys him that his ship chosen to interfere with this particular issue. Sure, he’d kissed Rose on accident three weeks ago, acting only on the post-saving the universe endorphins flowing through his blood. That’s all. Really.
Besides, what he really wants doesn’t matter. He’s a Time Lord, last of, and he has duty and obligation to uphold. And there’s the simple matter of her mortality. Rose has her entire life in front of her. What right does he have to take her away from the opportunity of a normal and happy human life?
The Doctor moves around the console, but as he places his fingers on a lever to send them out of the Vortex and into deep space, the TARDIS sends an electric shock through the metal, burning his fingers.
“Ow!” He scowls as the rotor pulses a deep mauve. “Oh, so you have something to say about this? Bloody meddling time ship.” There’s no response from the TARDIS. “Since when do you take Rose’s side over mine? You’re my ship.”
Silence greets his ears.
The Doctor stews internally a few moments before turning on his heels and storming out of the console room. His ship’s unexpected opinion on the matter makes it clear it’s time for a discussion… of sorts with Rose. His feet itch with the desire to run far away from this conversation that looms over his head like a black cloud, but maybe they both need to be on the same page. That’ll clear things up.
She’ll understand. She has to.
He ignores the long suffering sigh of the TARDIS as he sets off to find Rose.
Rose loses track of time while she stands under the refreshing spray of water, but once her tears are adequately washed away and she can breathe again without feeling as though her chest is constricted by a vice, she decides to get out and perhaps find the Doctor.
As she towel dries herself, apprehension slowly steals over Rose. She needs to say something, to call the Doctor out over his behavior, but doing so could ruin everything between them. A familiar nudge against her mind fills her with a sense of revived determination while the lights in her room flicker brightly, as if the TARDIS encourages her past the thoughts holding her back.
Placing her hand on the wall, Rose says, “Thanks, girl. You think he’s an idiot, too, then?” The lights flicker merrily in response, and an amused sort of warmth blooms inside her mind. “Mmm, well, good. Don’t know how you’ve put up with him all these years.”
Rose dresses quickly, throwing on a pair of sweatpants and a simple tank top and walks to her door. She tries to pull it open, but it doesn’t budge. “Okay, what’s goin’ on? Why can’t I leave?”
The lights flicker a mauve sort of color.
With a sigh, Rose attempts to open the door once more. “Oi, why won’t you let me out? Thought you wanted me to talk to him.” The lights flash mauve again. “Okay… So he’s not in a mood to be confronted?” She sighs. “Guess I’ll just hang out here for a while.” The lights flicker brightly, confirming her suspicions.
Rose rolls her eyes. Leave it to the Doctor’s ship to meddle in their relationship. While it’s definitely not the first time the time ship has communicated directly with her, it’s the longest ‘conversation’ they’ve shared together, and Rose finds she rather likes it. Without anything better to do, she decides to continue conversing with the TARDIS, sharing her frustrations about the Doctor. If anyone knows him more than herself, it’s his ship, for sure.
The Doctor strides down the corridor toward Rose’s room, determined to set things straight between them, and hoping he won’t be swayed. What he wants is irrelevant.
His thoughts a chaotic mess, it takes the Doctor far longer than he’d like to admit to realize that the corridor to Rose’s room is leading him nowhere.
He stops. “What?!”
Fuming at the TARDIS and growing increasingly annoyed when she doesn’t respond, the Doctor continues his aimless walk. For hours, he stalks through his ship, through blank corridors frustratingly absent of any other door.
“What exactly are you trying to tell me?” he all but shouts at the TARDIS. “Do you expect me to change my mind? It doesn’t matter what I want. You know who I am. I’ll live on forever, and to… to start anything with Rose… I’ll only lose her in the end. It always happens. You know the drill. Make a new friend, travel with them for a few years, and then, inevitably, bam. I lose them. Sometimes they leave by choice, other times… they don’t.”
The TARDIS, for all her incessant interfering, remains silent.
“And if Rose and I… if we’re anything more than what we are now, it’s going to destroy me when she… when she leaves.” He purposely leaves out the words he can’t even bear to think.
A gentle prod in his mind reminds him that he’ll feel the same regardless of how close he is to Rose.
“I know that. But I can’t. I just can’t!”
The round nodules along the corridors flare mauve again, and the TARDIS tugs rather uncomfortably at his mind.
“Oi!” The Doctor stalks forward several paces until he comprehends the implications of what the TARDIS suggests.
What about what Rose wants? What if what she wants is right here? What if she doesn’t want that boring human life he thinks she desires?
He takes a moment to consider the TARDIS’s ideas, and Rose’s reaction to his emphasis on their ‘friendship’ begins to make more sense. With a jolt of shame, the Doctor realizes he’s been so focused on his own (rather selfish) convictions and beliefs of what he thinks their relationship should be, that he’s failed to consider Rose as an equal in any of this. It’s not just him anymore, and if he’s honest with himself, Rose has been more than “just another companion” for a long time.
Pacing the corridors, the Doctor comes to the realization that, perhaps, the best way to live life with Rose Tyler is to stop holding her at arm’s length, to consider the possibilities of more.
And as for being the last Time Lord, well… All those rules can sod off. He’ll make new ones.
Hours later, Rose lays in a comfortable pile of pillows on her bed, lazily munching on her favorite crisps from Delvin 5. Despite her imprisonment, the TARDIS had rather graciously provided Rose with all her favorite snacks, drinks, and an assortment of films. She currently watches a movie about the Queen of Tlurina Isle, and it’s filled with a delicious amount of intrigue, romance, and scandal.
After pausing the film to make a quick trip to the loo, Rose pauses on the way back to her bed at the sound of a dull thud at her door. Odd.
She takes a few more steps, and when the sound repeats itself, Rose walks to the door. “Doctor?” she asks, attempting to open it, but much to her frustration, it’s still locked.
“Yup, it’s me,” the muffled voice of the Doctor replies.
Rose flicks her gaze up at the ceiling, furrowing her brow in confusion. If it’s the Doctor, why won’t the TARDIS let him inside. “Um, what are you doing? How long have you been out there?”
“Oh,” the Doctor starts. “Well, after my beloved ship sent me wandering down doorless corridors for two hours, four minutes, and thirty-seven seconds…” He sighs loudly, and Rose imagines he’s glaring at the floor–wall–ceiling – some part of the TARDIS. “She finally decided to allow me to see your door.”
Rose can’t help the giggle that escapes at his extreme indignation. “An’ let me guess, you’re not allowed inside?”
“Rose, if my own ship thinks she can control me like this, well–”
Rose decides to cut him off before he spirals into another one of his multi-layered rants. “Doctor. Doctor. ”
“What?” he asks, his voice low and, if she’s not mistaken, rather petulant.
“I’m not allowed out of my room. TARDIS says so, apparently.”
There’s a long period of silence from the other side of the door, a moment in which Rose imagines the Doctor is engaging in some sort of telepathic war with his ship.
Her thoughts are confirmed when he splutters in outrage. “Enough with the mauve lights! I get it. Just let me talk to Rose.”
Rose smirks to herself and quietly attempts the door. Still locked.
A thud echoes through the door, and it’s quickly followed by the sound of a body sliding down a door. Rose sighs and follows suit, situating herself on the floor. A heavy silence lingers between them.
Taking a deep breath, Rose breaks the silence. “You can still talk to me through the door.”
“Oh, Rose Tyler,” the Doctor says quietly, “you’re a cheeky one, aren’t you?”
She doesn’t respond, choosing instead to let the Doctor lead the conversation. Fidgeting restlessly with a fraying hem on the bottom of her tank, Rose waits impatiently for him to speak.
Finally, finally, after what seems like eons have passed, there’s a sharp intake, then slow exhalation of breath on the other side of the door. What he says, however, takes her by surprise. “You know, you were never just a friend.”
Rose holds her breath, waiting for the Doctor to elaborate, and she refuses to place hope in the meaning of his words.
“I kept trying to tell myself that it’d be easier to… say goodbye if we were only friends.”
Goodbye? “If you think I’m leaving…” Rose trails off, unable to keep the panic out of her voice.
“No, no.” The Doctor quickly attempts to explain himself. “Whenever you’re… not here… I… Oh, blimey, this all sounded better in my head.” He sighs.
Rose swallows. “Just, try again. But maybe this time don’t lead with me sayin’ goodbye.”
“Quite right,” he says with a huff of laughter, then tries again. “I’d convinced myself that not being with you – that is to say, truly being with you – was the best decision. The only possible decision. That I had a duty to uphold, my responsibilities as the last Time Lord, and that you couldn’t possibly want to stay with me forever and give up a normal human life. That it wasn’t my right to take that away from you.”
With a loud snort, Rose rolls her eyes. She’d predicted his answer word for word. Biting her tongue, she forces herself to stay silent, trying to be patient while he finishes his explanation.
“But, ah, the TARDIS rather bluntly told me that I was wrong, and we, er, fought about it.”
At this, Rose can’t contain the sharp bite of laughter than bursts out of her mouth. She pictures him, now, his hair sticking up at all angles from hours of agitated ruffling as he tugs sheepishly on an ear.
“Yes, please. Laugh at my torment,” the Doctor intones.
God, he may be a Lord of Time, but right now in this moment, he’s no different than a normal, overly dramatic human bloke.
“Doctor,” Rose warns.
“Fine. I thought that you’d eventually leave at your own terms because you’d realize you do want that traditional human experience. And I… I can’t give you that.” He pauses, but Rose senses he’s not quite finished yet. She bites her tongue to keep herself from giving him her scathing opinion of his thoughts. “Or… If you decided to give all that up and stay with me, eventually you’ll…”
Rose has had enough. “What? Die? Of course, I’m gonna bloody die, Doctor. I’m a human. Mortal. Rose Tyler, standard issue human being. Alas, no nine extra lives for me.”
“Twelve,” the Doctor mutters, and even though the number of his regenerations is news to her, she ignores him.
“Doctor, you can’t keep doing this. You think it’s perfectly acceptable to make assumptions and decisions for other people without asking. Have you, in all your Time Lord brilliance, even thought once to ask me what I want?” Without waiting for an answer, she rushes on. “You’re scared. Scared I’m going to leave you, in one way or another, and you know what? That’s a shite reason to not be with someone.”
Rose stops, breathing heavily, and the silence on the other side of the door infuriates her further. “As a Time Lord, I thought you’d have this figured out, but I don’t think you do. You spend so much time thinking about the time you don’t have with me, that you’re forgetting to live in the time we do have together. What makes you think our time together is so limited? You have all of Time and Space at your fingertips, with all the advances medicine has to offer, and what if there’s something out there that could prolong my life?” Suddenly, a memory (a memory?) jumps unbidden to the front of her mind, the power of Time and the Vortex and the determination to change herself in order to give her the forever she wants with the Doctor. Just as quickly, however, the memory fades, and Rose struggles to recall the images.
“Rose, you couldn’t possibly want–”
“Stop telling me what I want! Stop making assumptions about what I do or don’t want without asking me first. God, you’re so fucking arrogant, you can’t even begin to fathom the fact that I might want my forever with you.” Rose can’t sit still against the door anymore and pushes off to pace in circles around her room as anger simmers in her veins.
The Doctor says nothing.
Rose takes a deep breath as she confesses everything. “I don’t want that ‘traditional human experience.’ I don’t need a ‘nice normal bloke’ who’ll give me a flat and two point five kids! That’s never been me. This life with you, this is what I want. I knew it the moment you came back and said the TARDIS travels in time. It’s breathtaking and bloody terrifying, but I love it. This life – our life – it’s what I want. You, me, and the TARDIS. Your hand in mine as we run for our lives. I finally feel like,” Rose says, pausing to collect her thoughts, “like this is the life I’m meant to have. I always felt like there was something missing, and the moment I met you, everything just… I’m made for this life, Doctor, and I will not let you make decisions about my future based on assumptions you made or what you think is best for me. Only I get to do that.”
“Really?” Disbelief laces the Doctor’s voice, and Rose sighs in exasperation.
“Yes, you daft git. Why is this so hard to believe?”
On the other side of the door, there’s a brief sound of shuffling, and then her door knob rattles. The door is thrown wide open, the TARDIS allowing them to face each other at last, and the Doctor hovers in her doorway.
Rose holds her breath as they stare at each other, and while the Doctor’s face is a stone mask, his dark eyes swirl with a jumble of conflicting emotions. She nods, allowing him into her space, and he wastes no time in stalking to her side.
Grabbing her upper arms, he gazes into her eyes, and the intensity she finds in his eyes makes her gasp. “Do you mean it? All of it?” he asks, voice low and, if she’s not mistaken, stunned.
Rose holds his gaze, and despite all her aggravation for her Time Lord, can’t help but reach up to cup his face. “I told you, I want this life. I want you… as more than… as more than a friend. I’m asking you to believe me. Trust me. Have faith in me. I deserve that much.”
It’s as though time stands still as they stare at each other, and when the Doctor nods, Rose almost sags in relief. She knows it won’t be easy, because this is the Doctor, and he’s living on more than 900 years of deeply ingrained self-hatred and restraint. But for now, she’ll take a sliver of belief and acceptance. She’ll remind him every day if she has to and hopes that someday – someday – he’ll believe her promise with all his hearts.
“So,” she says, breaking the tension between them with a tongue-touched smile, “we’re more than ‘just’ friends?”
The Doctor’s eyes light up, but still, he holds himself back. “If you’ll still have me. I’ve been a bit thick.”
Rose laughs, then agrees. “Just a bit, yeah.”
She takes a step further by standing on her toes and pressing her lips against his. His response is instantaneous as he wraps his arms around her middle and responds enthusiastically to her kiss. It’s thrilling and a little bit surreal to finally experience his lips moving against hers, and when she runs out of breath, she pulls his bottom lip between her teeth as she pulls back. “Oh, I guess I’ll keep you,” she answers several moments too late. “Even if my Time Lord is a bit of an idiot.”
“Your idiot, though.” The Doctor says, her favorite crooked smile spreading across his face.
“As long as you let me make my own choices, even if you think you know better,” Rose commands, poking him in the chest.
A flash of vulnerability and fear crosses his face, and Rose knows how hard this is for him. “Just try, Doctor. It’s all I’m asking. This,” she gestures between them, “what we have, it’s not a you or a me thing. It’s us, together. Two people making decisions together.”
“Better with two,” the Doctor murmurs, remembering the words Rose spoke to him in his last body, shortly after they began traveling together.
Rose’s face softens, and she smiles softly at him. “Yes. Better with two. Don’t forget it.”
As much as he hates to admit it, the TARDIS had been right. And Rose. She’d had the courage to stand up and tell him what he’d needed to hear, even though the truth of what she’d said had stung. His arrogance had almost cost him the most important person in his life, and he’s relieved she’d stood up to his cowardice.
“I don’t deserve you,” he says, pulling Rose close again in a hug.
He can almost see Rose roll her eyes against his chest. “Well, tough,” she mutters, squeezing him back, “‘cos you’re stuck with me.”
A weight lifts from his shoulders as a joyful laugh bubbles out. The Doctor lifts Rose in the air and spins her around the room, much like their reunion in 1953 London. Now, however, there’s one major difference as the Doctor places Rose on her feet and kisses her soundly on the lips.
The simple kiss quickly turns heated, with wandering hands bodies pressed close together and a tingling heat that spreads through his veins. Finally, despite his respiratory bypass kicking in, the Doctor pulls back and rests his forehead against Rose’s. Even after everything, it’s still so fast, and he needs a breather before taking the next step.
“I’m feeling a bit… peckish,” he says, winking at Rose, who blushes a delightful shade of pink beneath his gaze. “What do you think about going to London to pick up some chips and then going to Morflan IV to watch the sunset?”
Rose smirks. “I dunno, Doctor. That sounds a bit like a romantic date. What, exactly, are your intentions?”
“Oh, Rose Tyler,” the Doctor breathes, leaning down to whisper in her ear. “Wouldn’t you like to know?”