"An’ I want both of you to be okay. To be happy. Do you think he is?”, 1,381
It’s one of those quiet, fuzzy mornings when all he wants to do is cuddle and fall back into the bliss of sleep. Or, even better, fall into her arms. He reaches out, pawing blindly at the other side of the bed for her warmth.
She’s not there.
The Doctor’s eyes shoot open. He’s met with rumpled covers, residual warmth still radiating from the blankets, but no Rose. He frowns and peers around the empty room.
“Rose?” When there’s no response, he rises, pulls on pants, and shuffles out the room. The living room is just as quiet as her – their – bedroom. The kitchen and bathroom equally so. There aren’t many places she can be in the small flat and she’s not in any of them.
Fear seizes him. What if she’s been abducted? Or kidnapped? What if she’s lying on cold steel somewhere, alone, with aliens wandering about?
Or, and this is the one that scares him the most because the rest they can fight through together like always, what if she’s left? Decided the last week has been one huge mistake and run off to somewhere else.
She wouldn’t leave without a note. Right? That’s not Rose. She doesn’t run away because she’s too scared to face things. That was him, the man always running from his past, from the consequences, from his feelings. Not anymore. Well, not anymore if he could help it. But if she’s left without a word, maybe he doesn’t know her as well as he once did.
Maybe he should do some poking around first. Kidnappers would’ve left traces or perhaps the neighbors heard something. Resolved with this plan of action, the Doctor returns to their bedroom, eyes determinedly avoiding the bed in case she did leave and those memories are the last ones he’ll ever have of her. He throws on some trousers and a jumper, ties up his trainers, and leaves the flat.
First stop – Mrs. Peabody, residential queen of gossip and the only neighbor with lights on at this early hour.
He knocks and then smiles when she opens the door. “’Ello, you haven’t seen Rose, have you?”
She returns his smile with a kindly one of her own. “I reckon she’ll be on the roof again. Poor thing used to go up there all the time. Hasn’t since you came back with her though.” She eyes him appreciatively then.
The Doctor thanks her and then charges up the stairs, heart thumping wildly. He slows when he reaches the top. What would he do if she wasn’t there? Or if she went up there to think about how to leave him? Or –
His thoughts freeze when he steps out into the chilly air. Rose is there, arms curled around her knees, dressed in one of his oversized red jumpers. That’s a good sign, right? You don’t dress in the clothes of someone you’re going to leave. Right? He steps out on to the rooftop and pads slowly across to her.
She jumps, startled from her thoughts, and looks up at him. Her brow furrows. “Doctor? What’re you doing up here?”
The Doctor gives her an easy smile despite his heart hammering away in his chest. It’s the beach all over again and he’s just as scared of her answer here as he was there. “Could ask you the same. Can I –“ He gestures down and she nods. He takes a seat by her, nearly touching but not quite there.
They’re quiet for a moment. She’s looking out at the waking city, at the cars trundling by, the birds flying low, the people just beginning to leave their homes. He’s got his head set straight, but his eyes are running over her, cataloguing each detail. The way her bare toes are curling inwards, the way her fingers tap against her legs, the way her hair threatens to escape from her messy bun, the way her shoulders tense against every breeze.
“I asked first.”
“Lookin’ for you.” He answers. He wants nothing more than to put an arm around Rose’s shoulders and pull her close, to warm her from the chill. And then to take her down to bed. But he doesn’t know if that’s okay right now, so he just keeps his arms tightly to his sides, fists clenching and unclenching.
“I come here to think.” Rose pauses, takes a breath. He prepares himself for her apologies, her final good-byes, her dismissals. Reminds himself that it’ll be okay, that if it’s what she wants then he’ll be okay, that it won’t kill him. Except it really would. No ocean to walk into here but there’s the roof’s edge and it’ll look inviting any second. No, no he’ll be strong. He’ll be valiant and oh screw it, he knows he’ll lose it if she says good-bye.
“When I was alone, I came here all the time. Sometimes I’d look into the sky and imagine that he, you, would come back.” Oh, that’s what she wants. The other him, the Time Lord him. Of course. His shoulders droop. He doesn’t want to listen anymore, but he can’t bring himself to stand either. “But mostly it was my place to think. Still is. An’ this, well ‘s a lot to take in.”
“Do you want him too?” He doesn’t want to know the answer, but he does.
Rose blinks and turns to face him fully for the first time that morning. “What?”
His eyes remain on the buildings ahead. He can’t look at her. Can’t look at her say yes. Can’t imagine her saying no. “Do you want him to come back now?” He impresses himself with the clipped tone of his words, the control that hides the turmoil inside.
“No.” Such a short word, but it sends his heart sailing into the sky. He peers at her from the corners of his eyes. “Well,” and here she casts her eyes up to the sky briefly before returning to his face, “You’re both the Doctor and I’ll always love you both. An’ I want both of you to be okay. To be happy. Do you think he is?”
The Doctor knows he isn’t. Knows that he had to lose Donna and that likely the Time Lord Doctor is all alone now. All of space and time, but no one to share it with. Even in this human body, confined to one time and one place, this Doctor knows he’s luckier.
“He’ll be okay.” It’s all he can manage without entirely lying or saying too much and hurting her. He hopes it’s enough.
Something warm touches his hand. When he glances down, it’s her hand, her fingers resting on his skin. He turns his palm and their fingers instantly lace together. Once this contact has been established, the rest of her body follows, leaning into his side. Her face nuzzles into the join between his shoulder and neck.
“I thought you left.” He’s not sure what compels him to tell the truth, whether it’s the lie he just told or it’s just some silly search for reassurance.
“’M never leavin’ you.” She laughs softly, her breath tickling his neck. “You seem to keep forgettin’ that.”
“I know. I just –“ He cuts off, waves their joined hands in the air.
“I was plannin’ on coming back before you woke up. Just lost track of time up here, that’s all. Sorry.”
The Doctor nods. “’M not leavin’ you either. Ever. You’re stuck with me. Like a Remorand to a Sicasin except without any of the parasitism involved. Or teeth, no teeth at all, wellllll not their kind of teeth, I liked that thing you did last night. With your teeth. That was nice.”
Her lips press into his neck and he goes still, his babbling cutting off. “Like this.” She nips at the skin there, rolls it gently between her teeth and tongue, then pulls back, only to lick at the spot. “Or this.” Her bite is firmer this time, her tongue even more soothing as it traces the mark. He lets out a small moan.
Rose draws back, smirking. “C’mon then.” He blinks slowly. “There’s still time before we need to leave bed.”
He grins and lets her pull him up to go downstairs.