When her fingers slip from the lever at last, it’s just as the breach has closed into itself and all she earns is a crack on the head as she slams into the wall. No longer a breach, no longer the void, just a wall. A plain wall in an ordinary building. You laugh, the relieved and proud and just happy laugh of a man who nearly saw the most important person to him in the universe gone forever. But she wasn’t, she was safe.
“Nearly got sucked into hell there, didn’t I?” She says with a laugh far too flippant riding on the tail end of her death scream. She pulls herself to her feet, hair eskew, face bright and smiling despite the smudges of dirt, and her sweater all bunched and wrong from the fall, yet she’s never looked so beautiful, just being there. Just being alive.
Two strides, and you’ve pulled her close, a tight, strong hug. You smell her hair, feel her body so close, right there. Her arms entwine around your waist and you are together. Alive, so warm, and so very alive. “Oh, Rose.” Gave up everything to be with you, and nearly lost her life from it as well.
Hand-in-hand, you leave the abandoned institute, cross the city before you find one of the only remaining cybermen. You kneel and hold the metallic hand of Yvonne as she passes. She did her duty, she tried to, anyway, but you have no tears for her loss. There were too many others to mourn because of her actions, too many gone, too long the list of the dead.
Mickey and Jackie are on that list of dead. So many gone, and they were missing, the last pieces of Rose’s life. The funeral for Jackie is small, and Rose is too emotionally broken to give a eulogy. It has hit her, now, what coming back to his universe, what forever means. Her hand slips into yours and her head rests on your shoulder, but she doesn’t cry at the funeral. Too many people, and she feels the need to be strong. She has to be strong. Back in the TARDIS she waits until the door closes before collapsing into a pile of grief on the floor. You hold Rose in your arms as tears melt into your shoulder, her soul is bare for you as she grieves. You know the pain of that kind of a loss, it eats at your soul. Her soul is still shining, though, you can see it, feel it in her every motion, every breath. Pained, but never really broken.
“I should never have let you stay here,” you murmur into her hair as she quiets, “I’m so sorry, Rose.”
“No,” she says, firmly, pulling back and looking at you with bloodshot eyes, “No. I want to be with you forever, Doctor. I...I love you.”
Her arms wrap around your neck, and she presses her mouth to yours before you have any chance to protest. She’s all salt and emotion, a painful need in her as she pries your lips open with her tongue. If a touch could burn, it would be the touch of Rose Tyler, and it is wrong of you to want to return the kiss, wrong that you are. It hurts, how much you feel as your hand tangles in her hair and your arm wraps around her waist, pulling her closer, pulling her into you. You know you shouldn’t give in to these emotions, but she needs you, and in so many ways you need her, so you do.
There are many kisses after that one. After near-death experiences, on the tail-end of a successful adventure, during the long, lonely moments while the TARDIS is in obit around a planet or sun. She’ll be asking a random question circling a random subject, and you find the fastest way to silence her is to wrap an arm around her waist and press your mouth to hers. She is comfort, she is your opposite, she is just simply good, and you taste that with her lips, feel it deep in your hearts as she coos out that she loves you against your ear.
You weren’t kidding when you told her she’d be domestic, and as her things slowly begin to take shape in your master bedroom, it becomes more obvious to you how much she’s wormed her way into your life. Ruffled skirt on the nightstand, her toothbrush on your bathroom sink.
“Honestly, Rose, pink frilly skirt, on my armoire!”
“It doesn’t matter, not like anyone goes in there except me, anyway!”
“Still, you could...try to be a bit more tidy with it!” The irritation is brief, the skirt goes forgotten.
It’s domestic. And after a while, you don’t notice quite as much. They’re simply there because Rose spends more time in your room, around you, and the domestics look more and more like domestics, and less like shackles as the months go on.
You’re still lonely, it just hurts less.
Somehow, at some point, she convinces you that you should marry her properly, at the church where her parents married. It is foolish and simplistic, but so very human a want, and you’ve already fooled yourself and her that it could work, a Timelord and a human. Hair in piles on her head, white satin gown flowing, she’s beauty, and, with the words of a priest, she’s yours and you are hers, and it shouldn’t feel as wonderful as it does, but it does.
She tells you that she wishes her Mum could’ve been there, and you nod quietly. You wish your mother could’ve been there, as well. Had a memory about your life that didn’t involve loveless matches. But that was centuries ago, and it’s too late to worry so much about it.
Her arm is stretched across you in that bed you two have shared, and she asks you if you’re still lonely. The lonely Doctor. You try to explain that loneliness becomes a blip on the radar of Timelord emotion in comparison to want. To need. To love.
She doesn’t understand. It’s better that she doesn’t.
A young woman in some seedy bar in Beylix smiles flirtatiously and asks why you don’t ask her to travel with you. She is sweet and all toothy smiles, with a youthful vigorance that simply pulsates off of her. And, after all, the woman you are with now is so old.
“She’s not old,” you scoff, taking a sip of your drink, “Me, I’m old.”
You travel more for fun than adventure, nowadays. Slide along a market, and Rose asks prices with the clarity and confidence of a well-seasoned time traveller. She’s this woman, this strange woman. Barely even human, you’ve rubbed off onto her so much.
She’s pushing fifty, and gained those deep-set lines around her eyes and lips, the ones her mother was so fond of covering up with makeup, and yet...she’s still never been more beautiful. As lovely as she was when your hand first went into hers and you said: “Run.”
“How long do you want to stay with me?” It’s not the first time you’ve asked her, and far from the first time you’ve gotten the same response.
The Beylix woman is ignored and forgotten, and it’s not long before you’re holding Rose in the room you’ve shared in the TARDIS, on what would be her last night with you. Her white hair spills across the pillow, her eyes are growing dark.
“I’m so sorry, Doctor,” she says, reaching a withering hand to touch your youthful face, “I wanted to stay with you forever.”
“You will,” you promise, “Even if you aren’t here, you’re with me. Forever, Rose.”
Tears spill out of her eyes, your thumb wipes them away, and she’s still so beautiful. Your Rose.
“I---“ All these years, a lifetime with her, and you never said it. You knew this day would come, and you would loose her, and all you tried to do was protect yourself from the pain of loss---self-preservation and all that...
Damn self-preservation. She was fading, she would be gone. She needed to know.
”Rose Tyler,” you say, firmly, “I have lived a thousand years, touched stars, changed civilization, but none of that means as much to me as being with you. I love you.”
Her eyes are already closed, she’s already gone. She missed it.
She lies on Andromeda, now. Near her favorite watering hole. You don’t visit, it hurts too much.
Her objects, scattered around the room take centuries to tidy. A skirt to the wardrobe room here, a toothbrush to the trash there. Eventually, it looks masculine again. The dark cherry room of a wandering bachelor.
And you travel. Bore other planets and more exciting adventures to cover up the pain, the loneliness. Depths of humanity, and the bright spots...as many as you can. It works. It distracts. New companions, new friends, new adventures.
“1960’s, it appears, Illyria, try to wear something that will not stand out to horrifically, would you?”
Your blue-haired, partially human companion (the fifth since Rose, and far from the last), steps into the console room. She can feel your emotions, sense your irriation at the reactor coil, at the fact that your TARDIS never sends you where you want, not in the last 1,400 years.
“I am ready.” Deep blue hair, white top, pink frilly skirt. Something hurts in your hearts. It’s raw.
“Not the skirt, would you?”
“It displeases you?”
That’s not it. At all. But she would never understand. It’s better that way.
Muse: The Doctor (Ten)
Fandom: Doctor Who
Word Count: 1,619