The next day, TARDIS landed on the edge of the market, and the group stepped out. “Damn, this is huge.” Ryan said “I can’t even see how far back it goes!” The vendors’ tents, arranged haphazardly were bustling with activity, even at the outskirts.
“This is even bigger than the last time I was here. It might take us a day or two to see everything.” The Doctor told him. “Why don’t we head towards the center first?”
It took them a while to talk through, particularly because the Doctor kept getting distracted by various tents. The center of the market had picnic tables, food vendors, and a large fountain, twenty meters tall, with seven different colors of water spraying and splashing. “My God, that’s beautiful!” Graham said, looking up.
“And look at that! The colors aren’t blending with each other. How do they do that?” Ryan asked.
“Even I don’t know.” The Doctor told him. “It’s a family that runs this market, and it’s their secret.”
Graham pulled out his phone and started taking pictures of the fountain.
“Hey, we should get some pictures of all of us.” Yaz remarked.
“Good idea son. Everyone, stand in front of the fountain.” They did, and he took a few shots. “Hold up, everyone, storage is full. I need to delete a few things.”
Ryan rolled his eyes “Granddad, I told you to upgrade your phone the last time we were in Sheffield. 16 gigs isn’t enough these days.”
“Nonsense,” Graham replied. “This phone is only three years old. You know, my first computer had 500 megs of storage.”
Ryan scoffed. Rose ran over with her phone. “Graham, you can use my phone. No offense, but I’ve probably got a better camera.” She showed him how to take pictures with her phone “I’ve got 3-D, panoramas, everything.”
Graham took several more pictures of the group as they made silly poses. Rose had left the display with her vital signs open. He couldn’t help but notice every time she looked at the Doctor, her heart rate went up.
They spent the whole day at the market. Ryan and Graham went on a brewery tour. Rose and Yaz had stopped to look at a jewelry vendor while two stalls over, the Doctor was trying to haggle for some used machine parts.
Rose was keeping an eye on both of them. The Doctor and Yaz had gone off together last night without explanation, though they came back later, laughing and looking disheveled. Rose had asked what it was about, and she got a bewildering answer about an explosion. She mentioned she hadn’t heard anything, but the Doctor explained the rooms in the TARDIS were soundproofed. She felt a little…jealous? I have no right to feel that way, she thought. But she did.
“Is she having any luck?” Yaz asked, indicating the Doctor.
“She’s trying to make a trade with the junk in her pockets.” Rose giggled. She looked a little closer. “Is that a biscuit?”
“Oh, that’s one of the custard creams the TARDIS dispenses. They’re not bad. I think she got into the habit of carrying biscuits in case Graham got hungry” she laughed. “I’m kind of worried about him, actually.”
“Why?” Rose looked surprised. concerned.
“I don’t know if he likes the traveling as much as we do. I think he’s mostly here for Ryan. I mean, it’s good that he is here for Ryan, but I wonder if he wants to go home for good.”
“I can’t picture. I love traveling with the Doctor.” Rose suddenly felt warm, and she wasn’t sure why. It was a hot out, but it had been at least thirty degrees all day.
“I love it too. I mean, at some point I’ll have to stop, right? I want to go back to my career.” Yaz said. “I want to be chief constable some day. Plus, I want to get married and have a family at some point. Hard to meet someone, let alone have a relationship, if you’re gallivanting around the universe.”
“I guess the only career I’ve ever had was defending the Earth from hostile aliens. Which works perfectly with what I’m doing now.” She chewed her bottom lip. “By the way, where did you two run off to last night?”
“Oh, the Doctor wanted to show me her ice cream maker. But when she added sprinkles, it exploded. It was pretty funny.” Yaz laughed. Rose thought she seemed to be holding something back. She was going to ask some additional questions, when the Doctor walked over to join them, looking annoyed.
“Highly unreasonable people. All those cogs sitting there and they didn’t think a genuine rock from Skaro was worth the trade.” She shook her head.
“What’s so special about a rock from Skaro?” Rose asked.
She lowered her voice. “Between us, nothing. But I tried to convince them it was rare. I’ll come back tomorrow with something else. Why don’t we text the guys and meet them somewhere?”
An hour later, they were all in the TARDIS kitchen, catching up on the their adventures.
“Guys, this beer is amazing.” Ryan handed each of them a bottle. “Granddad and I tried a whole bunch of samples, and this is was the best one. We bought a case!”
“Should we plan to come back tomorrow? There’s still a lot we haven’t seen.” Rose said.
“We could, but there was also that moon filled with butterflies the Doctor was telling us about. I’d love to see that.” Yaz remarked. She then noticed the Doctor was uncharacteristically quiet, and looked over at her. “Hey Doctor, what did you think of the market?”
“Great! It was graaaay…hey Ryan, beer has alcohol in it, right?” She slurred her words slightly.
“Um..yeah.” He looked at her with concern “Is everything okay?”
“Oooohhhhhhh…that splains it…see, I forgot I haven’t had any alcohol in this new body yet. Some bodies have a harder time than others. Nothin’ dangerous, just the room spins a bit and a big headache afterwards.”
“Doctor, why didn’t you tell us beforehand?” Yaz said teasingly. “Besides, you’ve nearly drank the whole bottle!”
“Was good. Besides, I was distracted.” Rose thought the Doctor was looking at her in particular, but though it was probably her imagination.
“Do you want to lie down?” Graham asked her.
“Yes! Splendid idea, lyin down.” She stood up and her legs gave out. She sprawled on the floor. Ryan picked her up. “Hey, let’s get you some help, huh? Rose, can you help me get her to bed?”
They each put an arm around her to and walked down the hall and into her room while she rambled on about random things. Ryan got her settled on the bed, and Rose took off her shoes.
“Damn, Doctor, you’re a lightweight. You’re gonna regret this in the morning.” Ryan joked.
“No, no. I regret Darlig Ulv Stranden.” She looked at Rose “Should’ve told you.” She mumbled incoherently for a few more minutes and was asleep.
Rose looked at her, stunned.
Darlig Ulv Stranden.
Bad Wolf Bay.
Everything that had happened in the past week, everything she’d been feeling, came into focus. How had she not realized it before?
Ryan saw her expression. “Do you know what that was about?”
She nodded. “It was something that happened when we traveled together. Is it okay if we don’t talk about it?”
“Yeah, no problem. Should we go back to the kitchen?”
“I’m going to stay here for a little while.” She didn’t take her eyes off the sleeping woman in front of her.
“Okay. We’ll save you a couple more beers.” Ryan told her on the way out.
Rose sat on the edge of the bed and stroked the Doctor’s face. This Doctor was different, not what she had pictured at all. But as she’d said before, she wasn’t that different. Not in the ways that mattered.
This is the Doctor I love., she thought. And with that thought, her heart raced with nervousness, but it also felt…right. She didn’t know if the Doctor still felt the same way about her. It had been a long time for her. She still wasn’t completely sure about the physical parts either, but she would have to find out for sure. Being with the Doctor always involved an element of risk.
She briefly considered staying in the Doctor’s room, but thought it felt too intrusive. She eventually went back to her own room. She had a difficult time getting to sleep. When she did, she dreamed, not of a dark haired man, but of a blonde woman.
Chapter 6 (”Pull me from the dark”)
The next morning, Rose woke up to a ping on her phone. She was alarmed to see it was after 9. Days on the TARDIS usually started early.
Yaz: Are you still alive in there?
Rose: Just woke up. Didn’t sleep well last night.
Yaz: (sad face emoji) The Doctor went back to the market vendor to get those parts she was looking at yesterday. The rest of us are going out for breakfast. Want to come with?
Rose: No thanks, I’ll get something here. See you later.
She showered and got dressed, aware of the low level of anxiety the whole time. She tried eating breakfast but felt too jittery to finish. She went to the console room and sat on the step, trying to will her shaking leg to be still.
About an hour later, the TARDIS doors opened and the Doctor came in, carrying a large box. “Hiya Rose! Look at all the stuff I got.” She walked over to the wall and put the box down. “Had a great nap. Graham gave me some of his paracetamol, and I feel 100% better. Did you know Earth is the only planet that has paracetamol? I need to stock up!” She pulled out a compartment from the wall, crouched down, and started sorting through the contents of the box.
Rose’s heart was racing. She took a deep breath. Here it goes.
She said “I heard what you said last night. About regrets…and Darlig Ulv Stranden.”
The Doctor stopped everything she was doing. “Oh no, did that really happen?” She looked down. “I’m sorry…I shouldn’t have…”
“Will you tell me now?”
For a moment she didn’t move, and Rose thought she’d made a terrible mistake. But then she stood up, looked at Rose, and her face broke out in a wide grin. “I thought…”
“It doesn’t matter. Not anymore. You’re still the Doctor. You’re still my Doctor.” Rose paused. “Unless…things have changed.”
She slowly shook her head. She walked over to Rose, and put Rose’s hands on her chest. “Rose Tyler, you have always been here. In my hearts. I love you.”
Rose pulled her close and kissed her, gently at first, then with more passion. She felt the Doctor’s arms at her waist. Her lips were soft, and her touch was like electricity on her skin. She gently probed her tongue into the Doctor’s mouth, and heard her moan softly.
“I’m never letting you get away, not ever again.” The Doctor told her, frantically kissing her face. “My beautiful Rose.”
“Just try getting rid of me.” Rose replied, kissing her again. Her nerves had been replaced with excitement.
And then there was a knock at the door.
“Oh, that must be the others. I suppose we should let them in?” the Doctor looked disappointed.
“Yeah…pick this up later?”
“Definitely” the Doctor gave her a wicked grin. She kissed Rose one more time, and they went to open the door.
Ryan, Yaz, and Graham were standing outside. Yaz immediately grinned. “You snogged her!”
“What? No, no, we were just talking…” the Doctor began.
“Doctor, you’re wearing her lipstick.” She smirked. The Doctor turned beet red.
Graham laughed “Doc, you’ve been making puppy dog eyes at her for the past week! It’s not like we didn’t know it was coming. Do you want us to leave you two alone?”
“No! Yes! I mean, we should be going anyway. Are you ready for our next trip?” the Doctor asked. She ran over to the console. “Yaz, you said butterfly moon earlier? Let’s go there!”
Rose grinned. Same old Doctor, wanting to see the universe. It was okay though. They had the rest of their lives.