When it came to the words “I love you,” the Doctor seemed intent on making up for lost time. Maybe it was the fact that he’d never said it in all the years they’d traveled together, or the way their first conversation on Bad Wolf Bay had been cut short, or the time they’d been apart. Maybe it was simply that his single human heart felt too small to hold all his Time Lord emotions and they spilled right out of him.
Whichever the case, Rose wasn’t sure what to make of it.
At the little hotel in Norway, the morning after the TARDIS vanished and left them here with Jackie, Rose came out of her room to find his door just across the hall was open. The lights were off and he was hunched on the floor with something in his lap, tongue between his teeth in concentration and sonic screwdriver buzzing in one hand. She watched him for a quiet minute, thinking of all the times during the last few years she would’ve given anything to have him here just like this, weighing that against her anger and disappointment and confusion over being abandoned again by the other Doctor.
He finally looked up from his task. “Plug-in kettle’s broken. They don’t have those little packets of sugar and creamer you like, but I thought if I could get it working, I could brew us a cuppa before Pete’s zeppelin gets here.”
Rose crossed her arms over her chest. “Don’t you usually need your specs for that kind of work?” He didn’t reach for his glasses. It occurred to her that perhaps he didn’t have them, that maybe they’d been in his brown suit.
“I meant what I said, you know.”
“I’m not in the mood for tea, Doctor.”
“No. Not about the tea. The other thing.”
Well. He’d hardly spoken two words to her since the beach, accepting her desire for a separate room without comment and merely nodding at her when she said good night. She knew with perfect clarity what other thing he meant, cold wind whipping off the ocean, his breath warm in her ear: I love you.
“Did you plan it out, the both of you, the way things were going to go?” she asked, goose bumps pricking her from scalp to toes.
He rested his hands on his knees, sonic in one palm, long fingers curled upward in a way that looked particularly helpless. “I told him we had to give you a choice. I told him … I’d stay here, no matter what you decided. Because one universe couldn’t cope with two of us. We couldn’t cope with two of us.”
“Oh.” Her face burned. Her hands trembled, so she balled them into fists. “You’re not here for me, then. You’re here because of some Time Lord territorial issues.”
His eyes popped open wide and his face grew pale. “No, Rose. That’s not it. Not at all,” he said, words tripping over each other in a rush to get out. “I meant all of what I said. I’ve got one life, and it’s yours, if you want it. What he and I agreed, about who was going to stay where and giving you a choice, it was for your sake –”
“The way the conversation went, you call that a choice?” she interrupted.
“I didn’t know he was going to leave like that.”
She stared at him. “Really.”
His gaze faltered. “Welllll, the idea might’ve occurred to me, if I was in his place. Same man, same brain, same thoughts. It definitely would’ve occurred to me. Actually doing it, though – I don’t know if I could’ve.”
“Well,” she said, her voice like someone else’s as it came out of her mouth, “he wasn’t the one I was kissing.” It wasn’t forgiveness, exactly – Rose wasn’t up for that yet. She turned around and left to find her mum and wait for their zeppelin back to London.
The Doctor lived at the Tyler mansion for two days before Jackie demanded Rose let him stay at her flat. He wouldn’t accept a position at Torchwood and he’d been occupying his waking hours by tinkering. The washing machine was now shredding clothes (“Improved efficiency, Jackie”), the dishwasher was stripping the finish off the china (“Companies would pay a fortune to know the secret behind that kind of cleaning power”), and Tony’s toys were all modified in ways the manufacturers had never begun to imagine (“Tony’s clever, Jackie, he’s not going to blast his own hand off”).
So the Doctor came to stay – which wasn’t really “moving in” in the real sense of the phrase, because when she picked him up, he only had the suit he was wearing, his sonic screwdriver, a razor Pete had given him, and a jar of hair gel that he’d procured from somewhere. He slept on her couch and shared the one bathroom.
When she stepped out of the shower the first morning, room full of steam, she found the fogged mirror covered in painstakingly-drawn circles, elaborate swirls from ceiling to countertop, traced by his fingertips. He’d obviously done it the night before, after his own bath, and left it to evaporate and reappear like invisible ink waiting for the perfect steamy reagent. She recognized her own name – he’d taught her the approximation of Rose Tyler in Gallifreyan years ago, when his hands and his ears were larger. And the other words she didn’t know, but she could guess.
I love you.
Examining the maze of Time Lord script, Rose wondered about time lines, divergent fates, pasts and futures accessible with the twirl of a time rotor, fixed points in time, and what sorts of promises lay in each circle.
Instead of scrubbing the steam off the mirror, she left the swirls untouched and made do drying her hair without seeing her reflection. And when she took a shower the next day, the words were still there, because he hadn’t scrubbed them off, either. Which explained why he’d nicked himself three times while shaving.
It was a bizarre first few days – all the mundane tasks necessitated by shared living space had seemed so much less domestic onboard the TARDIS. It had to be the lack of alien technology available in her oh-so-terrestrial London flat. Every time he helped her unload the dishwasher (and inevitably put the plates in the silverware drawer) or fumbled around with the vacuum (and accidentally sucked the decorative beads right off the couch pillows), words resounded in her head in a thick northern accent: “Don’t go getting all domestic.”
Then came the morning she woke up to the Doctor making poached eggs for breakfast. First he’d tried sonicing them, which resulted in raw yolk all over the wall. Rose discovered him in the early stages of disassembling the stove to improve its efficiency, and she put a stop to that before she lost her security deposit for good.
The realist in her knew quite well that having the Doctor in the flat meant losing the security deposit wasn’t a matter of if, but when. Rose decided that it wouldn’t be this morning, and fetched a pot to fill with water, added a bit of salt, lit the burner, and stood back to wait. He stood beside her and crossed his arms, squinting at the water the way he did when he was puzzling out a particularly difficult problem.
“You know what they say about watched pots,” Rose said.
“How long do you suppose,” he began slowly, as though examining each word for efficiency, “until we know if the pot is going to boil or not?”
She chuckled, looking up at him with a raised eyebrow. “Doctor, it’s simple science. The fire is lit, the heat will make the water boil, yeah?”
He drew a deep breath and pulled his gaze away from the pot. “I love eggs, Rose. Adore them, matter of fact. And if the water’s going to boil, I’ll wait as long as it takes. I’m good at being patient, me. There was one time on Axrami I spent almost a year in the court of the Axramian Prime, infiltrating their ranks to find out who had kidnapped the heir. Strangely enough – or maybe it wasn’t really strange, come to think of it – it was her own brother. Not because he wanted to steal the throne, but because he was trying to shield her from the difficulties of office. They give them responsibility so early there, when they’re only two years old, and –”
“Doctor,” Rose said. Because he wasn’t really talking about water and eggs and aliens, he was asking her a question.
His lips parted slightly, his brown eyes studying her as though she had words across her face just like he’d written words across her bathroom mirror. He was so tall and so skinny and so here, right here in her kitchen, his chucks on her linoleum and his heart in his hands.
“The water will boil,” she said, nudging his arm with her shoulder. “It just needs a chance to warm up, okay?”
He rocked back on his heels and put his hands in his pockets. “And would the watched pot be happier if I was out of the flat, do you think?”
“The watched pot is perfectly happy with you on its couch, Doctor.” She gave him a small smile, slipping her arm around his elbow.
He beamed at her. “Good. Because I adore eggs. Although I might’ve said that already.” He led her over to sit on the aforementioned couch. “Do you remember the eggs we had on Satellite One, before Cassandra the bitchy trampoline turned homicidal? The fried ones with a bit of pepper and Syrillian spice? Ooh, that’s my favorite, Syrillian spice on eggs, we should see if Torchwood has some stored away somewhere. Costs a fortune on the black market …”
# So everybody and their aunt has done their own TenToo/Rose in Pete's Universe fic # And here's mine # Doctor Who # TenToo # Rose Tyler # TenToo/Rose # OTP to end all OTPs # fanfic # ficlet # crazyandsexy # So this is what came out of that gifset you showed me # And there's more of it but I'm not sure if it's worth posting # So there might be a part two if I get it in some kind of shape at some point # Maybe # ;) # Human Doctor # TenII
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