AN: Yeah, everybody wrote a post-Journey's End fic. This was written almost immediately after, I've been sitting on it for a good long while. It's amazing how much of what I wrote I've read in other peoples' versions since, but it wasn't intentional. Sheer one-off fluffy fun, from Rose's point of view, posted because I was bored of my cross-over ratio being at 100%. The characters, as per usual, do not belong to me.
It’s his body, his voice, his memories, but it’s not him. I can feel the rough spots that will be calluses developing on his hand from all the frantic button pressing that’s been his life thus far. Despite this, I lean into him, in part because he’s there and I am exhausted, and in part because both of us are watching our better half disappear. He looks down at me then, as the gates seal for a last time.
“Well, that was dramatic of me.” He must see the doubt in my eyes, because he turns about, faces the ocean, and sticks his hands in his pockets. “Not a sonic screwdriver to my name.” There’s an odd note at the end of that statement indicating future surprises, but that’s okay; I let it slide. What would the Doctor be without his secrets and surprises?
I give this Doctor a crooked smile. “You always have been sort of crap at exits.” A good first reply telling him and me not just that I don’t take him too seriously, but also including “you” and “always”. I know this Doctor, just as he knows me. I begin walking towards Mum and he falls lockstep next to me. Our bodies know all of the moves.
“I like to think that I make up for it with my entrances.” There’s that note of hope, the backs of manly hairy fingers brushing so casually against mine. I let it slide; sometimes you just have to let the Doctor happen to you. Mum stands at the edge of the beach, a knowing smile on her face. I wave broadly at her; the Doctor waves too.
“Fifteen miles to the nearest village, then another fifty to Bergen.” She sighs, looking the Doctor up and down once more, shaking her head. “You couldn’t at least have let us off in Bergen this time, could you?”
He shrugs. “It could be worse. Could be Aberdeen.” This is history, he’s telling us, the sideways apology that is often the only one to be gotten from him. Mum, of course, doesn’t notice.
“I could go for Aberdeen about now. There’s a car on its way from whatever that village’s name is, it’ll meet us at the main road, so we’d best get a move on.” She flashes a glance at our unlinked but oh-so-close hands as she turns, then happily natters on for the next twenty minutes. Pete is going to get the Doctor an identity, until then international travel will have to wait for the morning; there is a hotel suite in Bergen awaiting them; she’s sure that Pete will be happy to find him a pension for services rendered, saving the world and all, and probably a job too if he wanted one. The Doctor and I smile at each other: whatever changes or challenges we face, the universe will bend long before my Mother.
I drift off during the car ride to Bergen, and I find that I’ve left a small trail of drool on the Doctor’s shoulder. “Oh. Sorry.”
He hands me a hankie from his jacket pocket. “Quite all right.” I wipe it from my face, then daub at his jacket. There are those eyes again, watching my every move. This Doctor is apparently quieter, or perhaps he’s just yielding the floor to Mum. But those eyes speak volumes. I sit back up, and he moves his arm back between us; that’s when I realize that the arm had been wrapped around me in sleep. I look at Mum and can only imagine what she wants to say, but instead she sits there thin-lipped before resuming her history of Tony’s childhood for the Doctor’s benefit. Not quite sure what’s caused this sudden round of good behavior on her part, but I’ll take it.
We check into the hotel suite in Bergen: two bedrooms with baths attached to a large sitting room, kitchen and dining room. More like a luxury flat than a hotel, really. Mum retires to her bathroom almost immediately for a hot bath, and the door locks with this resonant click almost as dramatic as the last door that slammed shut on me. I feel the grit that’s snuck into my shoes. “A long soak sounds like a dream.”
He casts a look down in my direction. “You should have one then.” He strips his jacket off, laying it over a table, and kicks off his chucks. Somehow there’s no sand in his shoes, his bony toes bare and wrapping in the pile of the carpet. T-shirted, barefoot, a random book from the shelf in his hand, he flops down on the white couch and looks so... young. “I’ll be fine.”
I nod, then go and have my soak. I don’t lock the doors, but he doesn’t poke in. I don’t cry, but then I didn’t know if I was expecting to either. I feel better afterwards, and not at all self-conscious about walking back to the sitting room in my dressing gown. The Doctor jumps up when I come in. “Rose! Brilliant. I have this, uh, problem.”
I feel my hands go to my hair. “Uh, okay, what’s wrong?”
“I am starving. I actually feel like my throat’s been cut. And here I always thought you- I mean, humans, here I thought they were just making that line up, but no, I swear it’s been cut right open.” He’s so very good at catching himself, but he does actually look a little shaky on his feet. I smile at him.
“Okay, did you check the fridge?”
He looks aghast. “Paying for the mini-bar?”
I laugh. “Forgivable in moments of desperation like this one. Plus, Dad’s paying, so don’t worry too much.” I swoop into the kitchen, and toss a packet of peanuts in the Doctor’s direction. “Afterwards, we can even order room service, if Mum hasn’t already.” I grab the menu and place it on a tray with tumblers of ice, tonic, and two tiny bottles of gin. The Doctor is pouring peanuts down his throat. “Chewing is important.”
He swallows, replies, “Overrated,” and then resumes shoveling them into his mouth.
I grab the packet out of his hands and replace it with a gin and tonic. “Cheers,” I say clinking my glass against his.
He looks suddenly thoughtful, and I wonder about the toast he wants to give, but in the end he just clinks back and says “Cheers.” I drink most of it in one go, and nurse the rest of it while we peer together through the room service menu. We wind up ordering entirely too much food, and even more of the mini-bar disappears. Mum appears once or twice to complain about the noise, but she does it with that smile that indicates that on most any other day she’d be out here herself.
We watch Godzilla on the telly, an old favorite of his that I kind of like too, curled up on the floor under blankets stolen from that other bedroom. As long as we both stay out here, we don’t have to deal with that question yet. I think we both sleep wrapped around each other, but when I wake up, he’s in the shower. I crawl to the kitchen for water and aspirins, then drag the blankets back to the bedroom and dump them and myself on the bed. Later I hear their murmurs from the other room, semi-interested in what they’re saying, what they could possibly be saying, but mostly interested in the backs of my own eyelids.
I wake as a weight sinks down on the bed beside me. A warm finger tucks under my chin. “Wakey wakey Rose. You’re looking at James Peter Gallifrey on his very first day in the world.” The Doctor holds a newly minted passport in his hands. “Pete has a sick sense of humor.” He grins, and the smile very nearly reaches his eyes. “Jackie would like you to know that you’re ‘a silly girl who needs to drag her sorry carcass out of bed right now before we miss our plane.’”
Anyone in their right mind would curl up in a ball and moan at this point, so that’s exactly what I do. The Doctor laughs, which is plenty of evidence that he still isn’t quite human, and I feel his bony frame lay behind mine, long spindly fingers pressing gently against my temples while his thumbs push at the base of my skull. My headache becomes a good deal less urgent while my traitorous body relaxes into this new situation. Our bodies know all of the moves. I’m just starting to push back into him when Mum’s cry of “Five minutes and I’m leaving without you,” springs me out of the bed like a slingshot, and I’ve grabbed my clothes and shut the bathroom door without looking back.
Four and a half minutes later and it’s back into the sitting room where the Doctor, excuse me, I mean James, is back in his trainers and jacket not looking guilty at all, and Mum is tapping her foot. I’m exhausting all of this kindness and good will she’s been showing towards this Doctor and me and I can see the wheels in her head turning on the cab and then on the jet. Mum has never quite taken to the zeppelins, so Pete has made do with this unfashionable little Lear jet ever since, with no real sense of style. Not that I’m the kind of heiress that cares about that sort of thing, not that I really act like an heiress too often, and that’s the conundrum rattling in Mum’s head, because when we land, am I taking a cab with her to the Tyler mansion where I have a room, or another one to Shepherd’s Bush, where I have a life? And in which does the Doctor ride? I’ve been working on inter-dimensional travel for the last ten months and now I’m stumped by hypothetical cabs.
For his part the Doctor spends most of the flight home looking out the window, and I’ve no idea what’s going through his mind. I can’t even imagine the last time he would have been on something so archaic as an airplane, unless he was hopping along in one that DaVinci or the Wright Brothers designed, hanging on for dear life, then I remember him telling me about his adventures with kiting and Ben Franklin, and I laugh thinking of the indignant look on whatever face he’d been wearing at the time. I get the indignant look that this one’s so good at, but then I curl a few fingers around his and he assumes that I’m not laughing at him, which is an excellent cover, and I lean over him to watch out the window while we come in to England.
Pete postpones the hypothetical taxi question by announcing that we’ve all got to debrief at Torchwood, with a particularly pointed stare at Mum. He looks old and she looks hard. I wonder just what it had taken Mum to get clearance to come back with Mickey, or if she had bothered getting it at all, but then Tony pops out of the limo and Mum pulls him up into her arms, and I’m wrapped in an enormous hug, Dad’s long arms stretched around all three of us, and it’s going to be okay, but there’s the Doctor, scratching his head a few feet away. After the family pulls apart, Dad shakes his hand, and the Doctor thanks him for the passport, just looking all alone and making those quick jokes he does when his brain’s going a mile-a-minute. Dad takes it in stride, because sometimes you just have to let the Doctor happen to you, and then it’s all of us Tylers plus the family Doctor loaded into the limo and headed to Torchwood.
Torchwood is where we’re all separated for the first time since we’ve gotten back to this dimension, and I feel the absence of my Mum and of the new Doctor keenly. A coworker is interrogating me, and I’m tired, hung over, and all I really want to do is to change my clothes. Finally I finish the report, wondering what happened to the meek Welsh girl I’d gotten along so well with before I disappeared into the other dimension, but then I’m walking past a door and see the Doctor sitting on a table in his knickers, and I realize that I’ve brought an alien home. In a human body. And he’s just sitting there, taking it, cracking jokes with the doctors and scientists, knowing that every word he’s saying is being recorded and will be gone over with a fine-tooth comb by these very same scientists after we leave. He catches my eye and waves. I hop up on the table next to him, pulling my sweatshirt off.
“Standard post-mission physical,” I say, a clue to Owen to get over here right now and take some of my blood and check my pulse before I raise holy hell. Owen is very perceptive, and drops whatever he’s doing to do just that, nice lad.
I cuff the back of his head. “Yes really.” Not really. There is a standard physical, but it happens once every three months, and I’ve just had mine, and it’s not quite the complete examination that the Doctor’s receiving. One of the doctors is looking at an MRI film and I wonder when exactly they had a chance to take an MRI of the Doctor, and I must have been in that report quite a bit longer than I thought, and I’m going to kill Pete for this. Owen puts a needle in my vein, and I jolt just a moment before the Doctor takes my hand. He’s sitting there in his boxers, I always knew they would be boxers, electrodes and needle tracks all over him, holding my hand while I send a few vials of blood off into the aether all in the name of good manners. When Owen’s done with me, I ask for the Doctor’s clothes back. When he hesitates, I remind him that he’s got the authorization of Special Projects director. Owen runs off on the words, and the Doctor chuckles.
“The Special Projects director must be a right bastard, make a fellow take off like that.”
“I’m the Director of Special Projects.” I will admit I may have planned something in my head like this, after all these years, and after the Doctor’s eyes widen, they light up with humor and pride. Owen returns with the suit, t-shirt, and trainers, and it doesn’t escape my notice that the Doctor checks the jacket pocket first before excusing himself to go dress. I give Owen a warning glance, and stomp off to my father’s office to go have a quick shout before the Doctor finishes up.
Pete’s nerves are already a bit shredded, I assume that he and Mum had it out while I was off making reports, but he holds his tongue while I rant. When I’m done he folds his hands in his lap. “He’s an alien. A known friendly one, but still an alien. I’m going to do my best to get him integrated into society, but until then I have to follow procedure. He should be spending the night in detention.”
“He’s coming home with me,” I shriek, not meaning to shriek, not really wanting to, after all this is Pete-my-boss, not my Pete-my-sort-of-father, but the Doctor’s going into detention over my dead body.
Pete sighs. “Direct care and supervision of the alien by the Director of Special Projects, however, is a perfectly acceptable alternative.” He slides the paperwork across the desk.
“Oh.” I sign. Cunning bastard. I can take the Doctor home and it can just be my job, if that’s what I want it to be. I see Mum and Tony peering through the blinds from the back room. “Thank you.”
“You’re welcome.” He takes the paperwork back, and then the boss mask crumbles. “You okay baby?” It’s one of the most naturally paternal things he’s ever said to me, and all I can do is shrug and lie.
“I’m fine.” Dad nods then rises, walking around the desk to give me a hug, and I’m not going to cry, but it’s okay if I hold on a little extra long. There’s a knock at the door, and Owen announces that the Doctor’s waiting.
Dad lets go of me and tells Owen to send for the car. Mum and Tony head down the stairs, while Dad picks an envelope up off of his desk. “I’m working on his pension, but that will take a few days. In the meantime, you’ll receive a stipend for taking care of him. Don’t forget to save your receipts.” I don’t do anything so crass as look inside, but the envelope is rather thick. “After we’re dropped off, the driver can take you two shopping, make sure you have everything you need.” Like sheets for that guest bed of yours,
goes unsaid, but then men do bring the very fatherly side out of Pete. He kisses my cheek, and we walk down to the floor, where the Doctor is teaching Tony to make faces, with his tongue up his own nostril. Fortunately for Mum, Tony’s doesn’t reach quite that far yet.
Mum tries to talk us into dinner, but I beg off, nerves too overloaded and too scared of either hers or the Doctor’s patience running out on each other, because as far as I can tell we’re already on borrowed time. Mum and Dad tell me to call them, and Mum actually hugs the Doctor, and when he hugs back I thank my lucky stars and hustle him back into the limo as fast as I can, for surely disaster is only moments away. At the store I leave him to pick out a few new shirts and pyjamas and a razor while my eyes flick momentarily to the displays of bedclothes over on the other side of the floor before turning back. I have some at the flat anyway. Instead I place a call to the Indian restaurant around the corner. The cashier seems to be taking note of Rose Tyler buying pyjamas for bedraggled handsome older man
, so I make sure that she notices the company envelope I pull the notes out of. I do make an effort to stay out of the tabloids, but there’s only so much you can do when you’re the long-lost daughter of the third-wealthiest man in Britain and the Hero of the Cybermen Wars. There will no doubt be a camera-phone picture in the morning, and when was the last time that I used a hairbrush? Mum wonders why I don’t date. I have my reasons.
“Ha. We met at a department store.”
I smile back at him. “We did.” I hand the bags back to him. “Try not to blow the place up this time, yeah?” I wink, he grins, and the shop girl just looks alarmed. There but for the grace of the Doctor go I. Downstairs we pick up our dinner and hop back into the limo, and I busy myself finding my keys. Finally we’re in the flat, and though it’s not a bad place, a Torchwood director’s salary being nothing to sneeze at, it’s not quite the TARDIS console room. I tell him to just drop the bags in the hall and put the food out on the kitchen table. “You can start while I get changed, just a sec, ‘kay?” I strip out of clothes it feels like I’ve been wearing for weeks. I still have the clothes I wore at Canary Wharf in the back of my closet, unwashed, because just a tiny hint of the Doctor’s smell lingers in their threads, even after all this time. But out in the kitchen I’ve got my very own Doctor to smell any time that I want, so I dump these clothes in the hamper and pull some sweats on.
When I get back out, the Doctor’s sampling some biryani and reading one of the newspapers that had accumulated in my absence. “'Rose Tyler, woman of mystery.'”
“Don’t you know it,” but I blush, because it means there was another feature article on me, as is prone to happen whenever I disappear for a week or more, and I haven’t really left Torchwood for more than two plus however long I was in the other dimensions, so nearly three now. Also, this means that we were definitely photographed coming into the apartment. The buzzards like to camp out at the cafe across the street to await my returns.
He watches my panic and grins. “All the blinds are already closed. Come on, food’s good but it’s getting cold.” It is good, and we munch in companionable chatter, just like if we were on Women Wept or Jastra or any of the hundreds of meals on dozens of worlds we’d shared over our time together. But there’s that other question to be answered, and it weighs on my mind, even as exhaustion weighs on my eyelids.
The Doctor clears the table, which is totally unlike him. He wonders why the TARDIS was always so fussy with him, and I’ve always suspected that one of the reasons was the state that he perpetually left her kitchen in. This must be one of the Donna bits. I knew that I liked her. Then he’s lifting me up and carrying me to bed, and I must have nodded off at the table. Our bodies know all of the moves, so when he lays me down, I pull him down with me, and then it’s a confusing mash of lips, teeth, and tongues, but after a few moments it resolves into a rather nice kiss, and I can feel his one heart pounding against his chest. I’m content to just kiss him for a few hours. Whatever feelings I may have for the Doctor who flew away, however those may transmute into feelings for the one I’ve wrapped my legs around, it has been a rough few days, and I have earned these long, adoring kisses. The Doctor, prim and gentlemanly as ever, doesn’t ask for more, though I can feel his now-human control over his body slip and can only guess at how frustrating that must be for him. This is too bad, because how many times did the fully Time Lord Doctor send me off to bed wishing that I had just dipped my mouth a little closer to his, closed that distance, and taken what I wanted? And this one has those memories, was that man, and so it is Just. Too. Bad. He may now wait until I figure out if what I really want is more than these kisses, his t-shirt and skin soft and warm under my hands, that Doctor smell all around me. It’s not fair, not at all, but it’s not bad.
In the morning, there’s tea and lingering questions. My lips feel swollen with kisses, and there’s not anything wrong with that. “So how are you?” I ask so that I don’t have to answer first.
He’s been watching me all morning, with new trousers and new t-shirt. The blue trousers have a faint grey pinstripe, and I smile at this. “Different. Second day of being James Peter Gallifrey, but the first one didn’t go too badly. Getting used to my body being all, y’know, human.” He makes a face, and I laugh. He’s not going to talk about how he feels abandoned and purposeless and quite probably an enormous but conflicted sense of guilt over massacring the Daleks and thus getting us both stranded here. That’s fine. I can wait.
“I told you eight hours a night wasn’t asking too much.”
He rubs his eyes. “Yeah, hardly seems to be enough. And there’s the food thing, and the constant loo visits, and, well, it’s all a lot to get used to.”
He gets that new look in his eyes. “It also has its perks.” I sip my tea and don’t dignify this with a response.
“We’ve got a couple of free days before I have to get back to work. We could take a trip, maybe even a zeppelin ride.” If I keep him moving, maybe he won’t miss the TARDIS, and that’s a loss that probably hasn’t quite registered with him yet. It took me a week of missing the Doctor before I realized it wasn’t just that, I missed the traveling. But a zeppelin ride should have enough novelty to pique his interest, keep him distracted.
“That might be nice. Tour the countryside, see what trouble we can get into.” He does his best to sound hopeful and grabs a chocolate biscuit. I make mental note to buy more of them, and wonder what his mouth tastes like after eating a chocolate biscuit. But such thoughts aren’t for the breakfast table, because they just lead back to the questions that neither of us is willing to deal with just yet. Kisses are still an act of desperation for both of us right now, though after last night, I think he’s gotten past the fear that my kiss on the beach was just a show to make the other one jealous. There may have been elements of show, but the fact is that after however many centuries, the man simply knows how to kiss. I choose to appreciate this.
When I’m in the shower I swear I hear the door creak open for just a moment. It would be so easy to tell him to just come in. But it doesn’t feel right, at least, not yet. At the same time, I let him take my hand on the lift ride down. That feels right, and I can sense him relaxing. We’re just two people, out for an overnight holiday.
“You’re a war hero.” I will not buy the tabloids, but there he is on the newsstand, opening the door for me last night. At least Dad’s spin machine’s been hard at work. “‘Dr James “Jamie” Gallifrey,’-”
“At least they didn’t decide to call me Jimmy.”
“- ‘seen yesterday buying personal items with Rose Tyler and spotted cavorting with her later that night’- oh that’s silly, opening a door counts as cavorting now? - ‘with Rose Tyler, is a veteran of the Cybermen Wars and a longtime personal confidante of the Tyler family.’”
“Well, that much is true at least.”
“You looking to buy or rent Miss Tyler?” Jeff, the newsagent, looks eminently amused to find his headline reading his headline smack in front of him.
I give him my best smile. “You know I can’t encourage them, Jeff.”
He rolls his eyes. “You can encourage me any time you want.” The Doctor squeezes my hand just a bit tighter, and Jeff gives us a grunt as we continue down to the air fields.
It’s no trouble to book an airship down to Barcelona, and I exhale as I tell the lady at the counter that it’s just the one suite, thank you. It’s a couple hundred pounds that I won’t be saving the receipt for, but, just maybe, it will work. I return to the Doctor with the tickets, and he carries the overnight bags, and we’re plain old domestic.
Of course, I’m traveling with the Doctor. So it comes as no surprise when a member of the Cybus Liberation Front decides to try to assassinate me and bomb the zeppelin, and very nearly succeeds. In a positive development, the Doctor makes no attempt to kill him. After the Doctor defuses the second, bigger bomb, I tie the bastard up while the Doctor manages to fly the damaged ship to a safe if shaky landing in Nice. Afterwards, the hug is as honest as it’s been since he arrived. I tease him. “It’s official: the trouble actually does find you.”
He manages to look wounded. “What are you talking about? He as much as said that you were his target. This was entirely your fault. Mind you, it did add a little spice to the day, which I never mind.” He kisses the crown of my head, and it feels right.
“Not a real trip until we’ve run for our lives, is it?”
“How could it be?”
Mum calls, and I have to hold the mobile a foot away from my ear. Most of the choicest words are for the Doctor, but there are quite a few for me. I try to tell her that we’re just going to spend the night here in Nice, but it’s hard to get even that in. Finally the Doctor grabs the phone and presses the off button, then stashes it in his pocket. “Hey, give it back.”
“No.” It’s a dare, it’s totally a dare, and we’re going to have to make a police report before we can get to the hotel. The hotel that I can’t reserve right now because my mobile is in his pocket. Really, he’s working against himself here.
We make our report, have lights shone in our eyes, and ignore the reporters as we’re shunted into a waiting cab. The police were kind enough to allow me to use their phone to reserve a room. It’s not quite the Bergen suite, but it will do, especially when the Doctor pushes me up against the wall and kisses me soundly, long spindly fingers working their way up my sides and that ever so talented tongue happy to probe my mouth. I ease my hand down his chest and pluck my phone out of his trouser pocket.
“Got it,” I say, dangling my prize by his head.
The Doctor grins against my lips, fingers digging into my hips. “Got you.”
It’s not fair. There’re still plenty of questions to be sorted through. There’s going to be days without adventures that he’ll rail against. The truce between him and my mother is shaky at best and who knows how he and Pete will get along on a long-term basis? Eventually he’ll tell me what he’s been hiding in his pocket, and maybe after that what he’s been hiding in his heart. But right now? I’ll take the gift of him, this body, this life of the Doctor, which is all wrong but nevertheless all mine. Sometimes you just have to let the Doctor happen to you. After all, our bodies know all of the moves.