Spoilers?: Set within Journey's End
Characters/Pairings: Ten2/Rose, with hints of Donna, Martha, Mickey, Jack and Ten
Summary: On board the TARDIS, the part-human Doctor gets his first chance to talk to Rose Tyler.
Excerpt: The Doctor watched Jack and Rose hug, suddenly acutely aware that he hadn’t hugged Rose yet. He frowned. Jack Harkness hugging Rose Tyler before he did? That couldn't be right.
Author's notes: goldy_dollar posted this tiny background moment over at doctor_rose_fix and wanted someone to fic it. So... I did. And then I made her beta it, so I think I got the last laugh.
The Doctor watched Sarah Jane step through the TARDIS doors, his mouth drawn into a pensive line. Some part of him – probably the part that said things like “wizard” – wondered if he ought to go out and say goodbye to her himself. It was the last time he’d see her – any of them, really.
But he supposed a one-sided goodbye wasn’t particularly meaningful, and they weren’t likely to miss him – not with the Time Lord version bumbling around the universe. So he shoved his hands into his pockets and leaned back against a coral strut.
A shoulder bumped his. “Go out there,” said Donna, nodding towards the door. She bumped his shoulder again, harder this time. “Say goodbye.”
The Doctor looked at her in surprise, unnerved by the insight, but shook his head and shrugged his shoulders anyway. “I’m sure he’s got it under control.”
Donna rolled her eyes. “You’re an idiot.”
She peeked around him curiously, and he followed her gaze over to where Rose stood talking with her mother, Mickey, Jack and Martha. Rose brushed her hair over her shoulder and smiled at him, quickly and timidly. The Doctor felt queasy, and by the time he lifted his hand to wave, Rose had turned back around.
Donna dug her elbow into his side, grinning at him knowingly. “Go on, then. Talk to her.”
The Doctor lifted his free hand to rub the back of his neck. “Talk to…?” Realizing his voice had come out closer to a squeak, he cleared his throat and tried again. “Oh, I… wouldn’t want to interrupt.”
Donna snorted. “Oh, please. She’s been making bedroom eyes at you this whole time, I reckon she wants you to interrupt.”
He couldn’t help but perk up at that. “Has she? Really?” He spun to look at Rose again, just in time to see her studying her nails.
“Oh, you are an idiot,” Donna complained, with a long-suffering sigh. “How old are you, thirteen?”
“About two hours, actually.”
“Well, Miss Jones,” he heard Jack say, “I think this is our stop.”
Martha nodded. “Right.” She smiled. “Good to meet you all.”
The Doctor watched Jack and Rose hug, suddenly acutely aware that he hadn’t hugged Rose yet. He frowned. Jack Harkness hugging Rose Tyler before he did? That couldn’t be right. Come to think of it, he’d barely even spoken to Rose yet; she’d stood beside him at the console, sure, but he hadn’t actually said anything to her, and—
“See you later, Doctor,” Martha said, jolting him back to reality as she stepped toward the door, stopping to nod at him and Donna. “Donna.”
“Yeah.” He gave himself a shake and nodded, smiling fondly. “Goodbye, Martha.”
Close at Martha’s heels were Rose and Jack. With a salute and a wink that seemed to delight Donna more than the Doctor wanted to think about, judging by the noise she made, Jack stepped out of the TARDIS with Martha.
Rose stopped at the top of the ramp and watched them go, her hands wedged into her pockets. As the doors swung shut, she turned to the Doctor and Donna. He didn’t think it was a stretch to imagine that she was a bit uncomfortable.
He was, at any rate. That bizarre, queasy feeling was back. It was ridiculous, really. It was only Rose – and okay, so she’d somehow done the impossible and crossed universes. She was still Rose.
That was probably the terrifying part.
“She seems nice,” Rose said, gesturing vaguely towards the doors.
It took the Doctor a second or two to parse the sentence properly. “Martha?” He nodded, feeling dumbfounded. “Oh, she is, she’s brilliant. Absolutely brilliant. Brilliantly brilliant.” He blinked. “Not that… I mean… well, you all are. Brilliant, that is.”
Rose stared at him, eyes wide. From the corner of his eye, he saw Donna shake her head in disbelief.
“…Yeah,” Rose said after a moment. She sounded amused, and though he suspected that was at him rather than with him, he counted it as a victory.
“Better call my family,” said Donna suddenly, “excuse me.” She pulled her mobile out of her pocket and sent him a pointed look, stepping away from them to take the call.
The Doctor frowned as she walked away. Had she just winked at him?
“So,” said Rose. She leaned back against the console and folded her arms across her chest. “Have you just been keeping that suit handy in case of a… bio… what was it?”
“Instantaneous two-way biological metacrisis,” he supplied cheerfully, rocking on his heels. “And this?” He looked down at his suit, smoothing out the front of the jacket. “Nah, wear it all the time. D’you like it?”
“It’s…” Rose hesitated, biting her lip and looking him up and down. Then she grinned. “You match the TARDIS. Make a cute couple, the pair of you.”
It was meant to be teasing, and he supposed he ought to at least act offended, but he was preoccupied with the fact that she was grinning at him. Her tongue was wedged between her teeth just the way he remembered, and judging from the empirical evidence, Rose Tyler’s grin had the unique ability to liquefy the brains of otherwise highly-intelligent human/Time Lord metacrises.
So for a moment he only laughed and grinned back at her. When he reclaimed his voice, he said, “Well, so do we.” Rose’s eyebrows shot up, and the Doctor turned several shades redder. “Match, that is,” he explained hastily, gesturing between them, “we… match.”
Rose nodded, her broad grin replaced by an uncomfortable half-smile. “Right.”
Feeling nauseous again, the Doctor reached up to rub the back of his neck. Holding a conversation with Rose wherein he did not make himself look completely incompetent had never been this difficult. All right, so he’d never spoken to Rose before as the product of a biological metacrisis who had recently destroyed an entire fleet of Daleks to stop a pan-dimensional threat. Surely that didn’t matter much. It was Rose.
He supposed there was also teensy, insignificant fact that she’d spent the last few years in another universe entirely.
“I missed you,” he admitted abruptly, because he hadn’t said it yet, and he supposed he ought to, even if the other Doctor had beaten him to it.
Rose looked surprised. Her eyes widened and her cheeks tinged with pink, and suddenly it occurred to him that the other Doctor might not have said it after all.
She bit her bottom lip and folded her arms tighter. “Yeah.” She smiled softly. “I missed you too.”
The Doctor opened his mouth to say something – anything, really, so long as it kept Rose talking to him. But before he could get a word out, Mickey Smith was standing between them.
“So I’m off,” said Mickey, nodding towards the door.
“You’re staying?” asked Rose, though she didn’t sound surprised.
“Yep.” Mickey nodded again. “Fresh start, might as well.” He glanced at the Doctor as though expecting some opposition, then turned to Rose. “I’ll see you around, then, Rose.”
“Yeah,” said Rose, smiling. “See you around.” She watched him close the TARDIS door behind him, and then turned to the Doctor. “We’ll see him again.” It was a half-question, accompanied by a grin and a quirk of her shoulders.
Once again the Doctor felt nauseous, only this time he knew precisely why. A distinct sensation of guilt made his mouth go dry.
He should tell her, he thought, to say a proper goodbye to Mickey now. He should tell her what the other Doctor was planning – what they were both planning – and give her a proper heads-up. He should give her the chance to make the choice for herself.
The Doctor knew what she would choose, and the possibility terrified him.
So instead he put on a grin and shrugged. “Maybe.”