They met because she decided to sit in for one of his lectures. Earlier in the week, she’d run into her old friend Donna Noble, and she had told her about the miracle working ‘Doctor’ who had helped Donna exact revenge on her cheating bastard of an ex, Lance. The same Doctor had then proceeded to hire her as his assistant.
Rose tried to tell herself that it was only Donna’s recommendation that made her attend his lecture and not her own damned curiosity. He was shorter than she expected, and more handsome than she would have thought a man of his age to be. He had an enchanting voice that reminded her of smooth velvet and melting honey, and Rose noticed how everyone in his class hung on his every word like they were captivated.
She had never been one for history, but somehow watching him explain the significance of various London landmarks held her attention, and she was more surprised than anyone when the hour was up. She gathered up her coat and scarf and turned to leave, when he caught her a gaze with a plain demand to stay.
She waited until the last of his students had left, and approached the podium. He looked up from shuffling his papers and surveyed her quietly. “I don’t believe I have seen you in one of my classes before,” he said.
“You would be right,” said Rose, getting the feeling that he was trying to solve her. “A friend recommended your class to me.”
“I see,” he said and he didn’t ask who the friend was, even though it seemed like he wanted to. “And what did you think?”
He didn’t sound like he was looking for praise, but rather trying to gain an insight into her mind. She decided to answer as neutrally as possible. “I never knew London could be so fascinating,” she said lightly, letting a small smile grace her face.
His eyes flickered down to her mouth before moving back to her eyes rather hastily. “How rude of me not to ask your name,” he said, though she could tell that he had recognised her already.
“Rose Tyler,” she answered anyway. “Do tell me Doctor Smythe, what is it about revenge that fascinates you so much?” she asked, remembering the main theme of his lecture.
He smirked a little. “It isn’t revenge that I am fascinated by, Miss Tyler, but people,” he said. “Often, the revenge isn’t about the person who has wronged them but about their own peace of mind. Which is what I help them get. Peace of mind, so they are free to leave the misery behind and move on.”
She returned his smirk. “Do you know what I think? I think, you do what you do because you know that these people will then be bound to you,” she said, holding his gaze steadily. “You can be their mysterious saviour and they shall be indebted to you. I think,” she added, moving just a little closer to him. “I think you rather enjoy that.”
His handsome face suddenly closed up. “And you would know about this, would you Miss Tyler?” he asked, with just enough scorn to make her haughty mask make its appearance. “But then again, I wouldn’t expect the Ice Princess to know what it’s like to help someone.”
It had been a low blow to use the cruel nickname that the media had given her, but Rose appeared mostly unperturbed. “No, I suppose I wouldn’t,” she said and then pulled her gloves on. “Goodnight, Doctor Smythe,” she said politely and left the empty lecture hall with only the tapping sound of her heels left in her wake.
She didn’t see him again until nearly a month later. She hadn’t attended any more of his classes, not after the way he had spoken to her. She did find herself thinking about him quite often, because despite his words, Rose was certain that she had hit the nail right on the head. She was so very tempted to call in a favour with her old friend Mickey Smith and dig up everything about Doctor Smythe’s past, but she always held herself back.
Her parents’ wedding anniversary was coming up, and the annual Vitex Ball would be held at the mansion in their memory. Rose still missed them everyday, even though it had been nearly five years since their boating accident. As much as she would prefer to be left alone that day, she knew how important it was to attend the Ball. She did not personally work at Vitex, but she kept a careful eye on things much the same. The board needed her because she was well-known in both social and business circles, and the reputation of Vitex rested on her shoulders.
The Ball was typical of its form, and the event planner she had hired had done a spectacular job as always. Rose mingled with the guests, with her usual charm and smiles, winning over even the most dour of guests. After her initial runaround of the floor, she sought her regular hideout behind the curtain of the window with the reading alcove. She had found it when she was 14, and still used it to this day to take a break from the socialising.
To her immense surprise, she found it occupied by none other than Doctor Smythe, who looked up with a slightly apologetic smile when he saw her. Rose schooled her features back into a careful smile. “Doctor Smythe,” she greeted.
“Miss Tyler,” he returned with a small nod. “It is a wonderful party.”
“Thank you. I shall pass along your compliments to my event planner,” she said, still smiling at him though the frostiness of her voice could hardly be mistaken.
He cleared his throat and nodded. “I am not normally one for such events,” he said. “But the Dean asked me personally to attend.”
“I see,” she said. “Well, I shall let you enjoy it then.”
“Wait,” he said when she turned to leave. He looked rather hesitant, and not at all like the cold man she had met before. “I felt as if we left things on a bad note the last time we met,” he said quietly. “What I said wasn’t fair, and I know it is not true. I do hope you will find it in you to forgive me.”
She was gobsmacked at his honesty and his apology, both of which she hadn’t expected. He was still waiting for her to respond, and she replied with a question of her own. “Do you dance, Doctor Smythe?”
He looked surprised but caught on quickly to the fact that this was her way of telling him that he was forgiven. “Sometimes,” he said and held out his hand to her.
They danced together several times, stopping only when Rose was approached by one of the other guests for a dance. Even then, he was quick to snatch her up as soon as the song was over. The guests all left one by one as the party dwindled down, and the two of them took to the balcony with a bottle of wine between them and a plate full of nibbles.
They sat and talked for who knows how long, about everything from her parents, to his lectures, to London and his clients. They fell silent when the sun began to rise on the horizon and they realised that they had spent an entire night together getting to know each other. A sudden shyness fell over them after that, though it did dissipate slightly when he invited Rose to one of his excursions around the city’s landmarks with his students. Her smile of agreement made the goodbye a lot easier and the two of them parted ways, with more hope than their first meeting had brought.
The Doctor, as Rose called him, found himself looking forward to days of his lectures because he knew she would be there, listening intently to his every word. They would go out for coffee after his classes, where their discussions would continue. It wasn’t just London’s history they would discuss. He found himself captivated by how much art history she knew and the passionate way that she talked about it. Since she was not officially his student, no one could accuse him of impropriety, even though there never had been any impropriety between them.
Despite their regular talks and coffee, and the occasional lunch or dinner, they were not dating. It was quite alright with them though, since they were friends and confidants, and they both understood each other on a level that people around them sometimes missed. The age gap was yet another thing, since he was almost a decade and half older than her. Yet, with all of that, the two were quite close.
He was always reluctant to bring new people into his fold but when he introduced Rose to his employees, she got along well with everyone immediately. She had already known Donna, who was thrilled that the Doctor and Rose had moved past their rocky first meeting and decided to become friends. He liked Donna and he knew that she made for a wonderful assistant, making sure his day was properly organised and that his forgetful nature never made a fool of him in front of others. Apart from Donna, he had Molly O’Sullivan who worked in the library and was an expert on World War I and dealing with some of the more difficult clients that he sometimes got.
Then there was Adam, a computer genius who was very good at what he did, but could be very arrogant at times. To counterbalance him, was Jack Harkness whom he had known since they were at university together, and who now practiced as a lawyer. Rose was glad to meet them, and she was fascinated to learn the various ways that the Doctor had helped them.
Donna’s ex, Lance, had been cheating on her with another one of the temps in the office. When Donna had found out, she had enlisted the Doctor’s help to get her revenge. Lance was afraid of flying and always got nervous when he had to travel. When he was flying back into London after a business trip with his colleagues and bosses, the Doctor had made sure that Jack and Adam were on the same flight as Lance. Halfway through their flight, the flight attendant had asked Adam to accompany her behind the curtain. He had returned back to his seat moments later, looking pale and shaken. Then the same had been done with Jack, who was seated next to Lance. Lance was already sweating bullets by the time Jack returned and demanded to know what was wrong. Jack had muttered something about engine failure and remaining calm, but Lance had lost it at that point. When they hit some turbulence, Lance became convinced that they were going to die and had become hysterical. He was reprimanded by the authorities immediately after their arrival at Heathrow.
Molly had been working towards her Ph.D. but her mentor had focused a lot less on her thesis and more on using Molly as a personal secretary. She had to keep in his good graces if she wanted to get her doctorate and so she had gone along with the menial tasks handed to her, including keeping his collection of porcelain frogs clean. In the end, her thesis had failed and her doctorate rejected. Calmly, she had approached the Doctor who agreed to take her on as a Ph.D. candidate and helped her plan her revenge on her previous mentor. Molly had kept careful stock of everything her old mentor had cared about, including the porcelain frog collection. She knew well enough which of the pieces he was after, and used her meagre spendings to buy up those figurines for herself. Every few months, she would put one of them up for auction through an agent, and the Doctor’s friends in the audience would inflate the price until the piece was sold off to Molly’s old mentor. Once she had a tidy sum raised up, the piece would be sold off to one of the Doctor’s friends from Molly’s old money and she got to enjoy the torment faced by her old mentor as he lost the auction time after time and saw the beloved collectibles slip from his grasp.
Jack’s story didn’t have much in terms of revenge, but he still owed a great deal to the Doctor. When they had been at university, Jack had been interning in the legal department of a very large company, but the Doctor had discovered that he was being groomed to be the fall guy to cover for the various shoddy dealings that the company had been involved in. He had got Jack out in the nick of time, saving his career and his future. The company had later collapsed, and Jack had always remained indebted to the Doctor for helping him out. Adam, on the other hand, had been exacting number of revenges on his nemesis, a boy he had known since childhood. When the two had been at university, he had stolen a major computer program that Adam had written and made a fortune from it. His revenges had been small and spaced out, though he did enjoy helping out the Doctor’s other clients with his skills.
Rose realised that her initial assessment about the Doctor had been quite correct. All of his friends loved him dearly, and held him with some sort of reverence. He thrived on their love, she could see, and for all their hours spent talking, he had carefully avoided the subject of his past and his family. Still, she knew how easy it was to fall for his charms, without even meaning to. Even with the walls she had built around herself, Rose knew that she was attracted to him. Not just physically, though that was definitely a factor, but the way he spoke to her and listened to her as if every word she spoke mattered to him. There was nothing he could gain from her since it was easy enough to see that the lifestyle he kept and even his manners spoke of a privileged upbringing and old money. He was interested in her, not her status or her money, and Rose hadn’t had many of those people in her life in a long time. The Doctor and his friends gradually became friends to her, and when the Doctor told her that he had a new client who could use her help, Rose was quick to agree.
Martha Jones was a medical student who was doing her residency at the Royal Hope Hospital in London. She had been dating the attending surgeon, Dr. Tom Milligan, and the two had been engaged to be married when she’d discovered that he had been sleeping around with some of the nurses in the very hospital that they worked in. When Martha had found out and confronted him, he had denied the whole thing and then proceeded to carry on. Frustrated, Martha had contacted the Doctor and told him she could use his help. The Doctor briefed Rose in and asked for her opinion on the sort of revenge that Martha could get on Tom. Rose arranged a Vitex Children’s Benefit for the Royal Hope Hospital and threw a lavish charity dinner at a prestigious hotel in London. All the board members of the hospital were invited, as were some of the surgeons including Tom, who was supposed to do the final speech thanking Rose for her generosity. Martha was attending incognito as Jack’s date, hoping to see her revenge come to life.
When the time came for Tom’s speech, he inserted the thumb drive containing a presentation about the children’s wing of the hospital that he’d had one of the interns make. Adam, who was disguised as staff, swapped out the thumb drive and put in one of his own which contained a video of all the women that Tom had been cheating on, cussing him out for his cowardly cheating behaviour. The video was aired to the entire party, including Tom’s employers, and the rich and wealthy who would have contributed to this charity. He’d tried to get it to stop but the video kept playing and there was a complete silence in the hotel when it was over. Rose had rushed over to the dais then and done great damage control, assuring the hospital board that the contributors hadn’t changed their minds and whoever did this was a brave soul indeed. Thankful that their grant money was safe, the Chairman of the board had proceeded to declare that Dr. Milligan would be investigated and dealt with severely. Rose also hinted to him that the women in the video should not be punished, and agreed to donate even more money for ensuring that they could file their harassment suits.
Martha’s revenge was a success, and she was integrated into the Doctor’s fold. A few days after the charity event, she told them that she had broken off her engagement to Tom who was being examined by the board for his less than professional behaviour. Rose made a note to herself to introduce Martha to her old mate Mickey, who had seen her at the charity event and had been a little bit lovestruck. The Doctor had personally thanked Rose for all her help, and the two of them had shared a celebratory dinner at one of her favourite restaurants on the Thames. She had asked him if all his clients ended up being part of his fold, but he said that most of them just chose to leave once their thirst for revenge had been quenched.
A month or so passed in a similar fashion, during which Rose attended an auction for the frog figurines that Molly was selling, and then outbid Molly’s mentor. Seeing the man sweat and look pained at losing the figurine, Rose had to admire Molly’s ability to hit where it hurt the most. As this went on, Rose became more and more involved in all of the revenges, and continued to grow closer to the Doctor.
The first bit of bad news came in when Adam decided to take his revenge one step too far and ended up hacking into a secure bank account that his old friend had. The Doctor was infuriated; despite the dubious nature of his revenges, he was strictly law-abiding and never did anything criminal. To hear that one of his people had done something so monumentally stupid had made him angry beyond belief. He’d wanted to confront Adam, but he had skipped town as soon as he had learned that his hacking had been less than successful. He’d delivered a parting shot to the Doctor though, telling him he would uproot several of the revenges by revealing the Doctor’s involvement in them if the Doctor tried to hand him over to the authorities. This betrayal brought the Doctor’s mood down dramatically, and Rose could see how much it pained him to have been betrayed by someone close to him.
The Doctor started to withdraw into himself, hardly seeing any new clients. He was distant towards Donna, Molly, Martha, and sometimes even Rose. After he had cancelled their dinner three times in a row, Rose’d had enough. She had picked up takeaway and gone to his office. He had been alone in there, sitting in his armchair by the fireplace with an empty pot of coffee next to him.
He’d been surprised when Rose had walked in and shut the door behind her. “Rose, I thought we had cancelled,” he said, wary of the determined glint in her eye.
“No, you cancelled on me,” she corrected. “Thrice.”
He looked sheepish at being caught out. “Sorry, I just had a lot of work…”
“Oh, just don’t,” she snapped, watching his eyes widen in surprise. “You have been miserable ever since that thing with Adam, don’t even try and pretend otherwise.”
His jaw tightened as he looked away. “It was my fault,” he said, swallowing deeply. “Perhaps if I had helped him more…”
“Adam was an arrogant, unstable weasel, Doctor,” said Rose bluntly. “He enjoyed working with you to feed his own vindictive nature, not to help others. You did the best you could with him, but you are not to blame for what happened. So, stop being so self-pitying and for god’s sake, stop moping.”
He looked stunned at her fierce words, but Rose continued before he could reply. “Doctor, you have been helping so many people,” she said, her voice softer now. “There are so many others who need your help. Don’t let one person’s mistake take your helpfulness from you. Please.”
The Doctor stared at her for a long moment, watching as the fire danced off her golden hair, and the almost ethereal shine in her golden brown eyes. He admired her a lot, especially the way she just saw into the heart of someone right away. He hadn’t liked it when she had done that to him, but he had appreciated her ability to do so. He cared for her too, more than he had ever done so for anybody else.
He stood up from his chair and walked up to her, his gaze locked on hers. The two of them stared at each other for a moment, before he ducked his head and kissed her mouth softly. Rose melted into the kiss almost instantly, choosing to burrow one of her hands into his curly hair while the other caressed his cheek. He kissed her with an almost desperate sense of hunger, like he couldn’t get enough of her. When they did finally break away, he smiled softly at her and whispered her name. She blushed deeply at the adoring look in his eyes.
“Dinner’s getting cold,” she said, though she continued to run her hand through his hair.
“I don’t really care,” he said as he bent down to kiss her again.
Unfortunately for them, they were interrupted by a phone call. There had been a hitch in one of the Vitex deals in Norway, and Rose was expected to go and smooth things over. Her advisors had said that the Norwegians wanted to meet her first thing in the morning, which meant that Rose had to be on a flight to Bergen that very night.
She had to leave immediately so she could pack up and be driven to the airport to catch her plane. The Doctor was sorry to see her go, but he did promise her one thing.
They would go on their very first date the moment she came back to London.
“I hate corporate lawyers,” said Rose as soon as he had answered.
He smiled, not that she could see it. “And hello to you too,” he teased. “Although I do have to agree with you, considering those corporate lawyers have kept you away from our first date for nearly ten days now.” His tone was light, but the yearning in it was evident.
It was Rose’s turn to smile like a fool into her phone. “You might not have to wait for long,” she said.
He sat up at once. “Do you mean…?”
She giggled at the earnest tone of his voice. “Yeah, my work here is done. I’ll be on a flight home in the morning,” she said.
“Excellent, excellent,” he said, ruffling through the papers on his desk to find the number of the new Italian restaurant that had opened in London. He wanted to get them a reservation as soon as possible. “How does tomorrow evening sound?” he asked Rose.
She bit her lip, trying not to sound too excited. “Sounds wonderful,” she said earnestly. “I’ll see you at your office around 6?”
“I’ll look forward to it,” he said, with a gentle smile. “Goodnight, Rose.”
“Goodnight, Doctor,” she said and hung up. The silly smile was still on her face as she walked through the lobby of her hotel but it slid off when she saw the person who was waiting for her at reception. “Jimmy?”
The Doctor was extremely meticulous in planning his and Rose’s first official date. He had made the reservations at the new Italian restaurant, having had to call in a few favours to get it on such short notice. He had ordered a truly spectacular bouquet of tulips in the precise shade of pink that reminded him of Rose’s blush. He had even bought himself a brand new pair of shoes that fit better than he would have expected.
Since it was a Saturday, Donna wasn’t at work and a part of him was glad for that. She had been pestering him about Rose for what seemed like forever, but the Doctor wasn’t prepared to tell anyone until he and Rose had had a chance to see how things went with them. As the clock ticked closer to six, the Doctor checked his reflection and adjusted his collar, remembering that Rose had once told him he looked better without a tie on. He double checked the bouquet and the address to the restaurant, trying his best to stave off the nervousness he could feel bubbling in his stomach. He hadn’t been on a date in a while, certainly not a first date, and he feared that he might be severely out of practice.
The ringing phone startled him and he almost dropped it in his haste to answer. “Rose? Is everything okay?” he asked, at once when he saw the caller ID.
She sounded a little hesitant for some reason. “Yeah, fine,” she said. “Listen, I don’t think I am up for a night out today.”
“Oh?” he asked faintly, feeling the bottom of his stomach drop.
“Yeah, I guess I am more tired than I thought,” she said. “Do you mind coming over to my place? I can get the cook to make something for us.”
“Yes, of course,” he said, feeling slightly relieved. “Do you need me to get you anything?”
“No, I am fine, just a little tired to go out,” she said hastily. “You’ll come over, yeah?”
“Sure, I will be there in half an hour,” he said.
“Great, yeah, see you then,” she said.
“Bye,” he said and hung up.
He was slightly disheartened that their plans had changed, but she did sound a little tired, and if it was a night in that she needed then he would happily oblige. He picked up the bouquet of tulips and stopped by to buy a bottle of wine on his way to the Tyler Estate.
The mansion was quiet as his car pulled in the driveway, and he rang the doorbell which echoed quite loudly. The door was opened by a young woman in a maid’s uniform who smiled at him.
“Good evening, Dr. Smythe,” she greeted. “May I take your coat?”
“Yes, thank you, er…” he prompted.
“Lucy,” she answered with a smile and took his coat from him. “Miss Tyler is in the parlour. This way, please.”
The Doctor followed her into the parlour, which had a roaring fire in the grate which was the only source of light in the otherwise darkened room. Rose was seated in the armchair near the fireplace, dressed in black trousers and a lovely pink blouse. She got up when he approached her, an involuntary smile gracing her face.
“Hello,” he said, returning her smile.
She came over to hug him, but stopped abruptly when she saw what he was holding. “Are those for me?” she asked, looking at the tulips.
He nodded and held them out to her with a shy smile. “Reminded me of you,” he said, feeling better when she took them with her tongue-touched grin. “Oh, and wine too.”
“Thank you. They’re beautiful,” she said and held out her hand to him. “Come on.”
He took her hand with a grin and let her lead him to the squashy sofa in front of the fireplace where they both sat down. Rose set the bouquet and the wine aside gently before leaning over to hug him tightly. He exhaled in relief and hugged her back, feeling the tension leave his body.
“So glad you are back,” he whispered softly, feeling her lips curve into a smile against his neck.
“It’s good to be back,” she said and then pulled away slowly, pausing briefly to brush her lips against his cheek. “So, is pasta alright for dinner?” she asked.
“Sounds excellent,” he said, knowing it was the company he cared for, not the food.
Rose grinned and stood up, holding out her hand to him. He took it with a smile and hauled himself to his feet. They walked to the dining room in silence, but exchanging gentle smiles all the way. The long dining table was empty, but Rose led him past it to a wonderful little alcove set with a small table for two with a single candle lit on it.
“Far better than any restaurant?” she asked cheekily and he laughed in agreement as the two of them sat down at the table.
Lucy and one other maid that Rose called Nell, brought them steaming plates of the best pasta that he had ever tasted, and poured them the wine he had brought. He and Rose spoke in gentle tones as they ate, mostly about the troubles he’d been having with some of his students who did not understand the concept of a deadline. He tried asking about her trip to Norway, but only got vague answers in response, which piqued his curiosity a little.
They finished their dinner and half a bottle of wine between them, and Rose asked Lucy and Val to clear up and retire for the night. She led him back to the parlour, and he was surprised to see that a fresh fire had been built for them and the tulips had been neatly arranged in a crystal vase on top of the fireplace.
“More wine?” Rose offered, and he nodded and held out his glass.
“You’re not drinking?” he asked when she corked the bottle again after she had poured his glass.
“Better not,” she said with a smile that didn’t really reach her face.
He set the glass aside without drinking it and looked at her thoughtfully. “Is everything alright?” he asked lightly.
She looked a little startled and then sighed. “God, I can’t lie to you,” she said. “I ran into my ex in Norway last night.”
The Doctor stiffened. “Which ex would that be?” he asked, trying to keep his tone politely interested.
“Jimmy Stones,” she said.
“The singer? From that band Hot Ashes or something?” he asked, remembering the name vaguely.
“No Hot Ashes,” corrected Rose. “Yeah, him.”
“Right,” said the Doctor, unsure about how he should proceed.
Rose huffed and decided that bluntness was the best possible course of action. “I won’t lie to you, we had a bad breakup. He was a tosser and a half and I was never happier for seeing the back of him,” she said. “I was really surprised to see him yesterday, because I told him I would rip his smug face off if I ever saw him again.”
He chuckled at that and Rose’s lips twitched a little too. “He must be a brave man,” he said. “I for one know that you always keep your word.”
Rose smiled gently at him. “Brave or incredibly stupid,” she said and the Doctor privately agreed. “Anyway, he saw that picture of us from when we went to the opera last month,” she said.
He remembered the night in question quite well. He had almost kissed Rose that night on their way back from the opera, when she had looked absolutely wondrous in her deep crimson dress and gold heels. They’d been spotted by paparazzi instead and had to hurry away before he’d had a chance to twirl her into his arms and kiss her. The papers had become rife with speculation about them the next day, though the hubbub had died down soon enough. “And?” he prompted, wanting to hear about Rose’s encounter with her ex.
“He had some words to say about us,” she said. At his raised eyebrows, she shook his head. “Don’t worry, Doctor, I don’t care what he says. I think he knew that because he gave me this.”
She held up a thick manila envelope that had been lying on the table in front of them. “What is it?” asked the Doctor warily.
Rose hesitated briefly. “He said he had done his research on you and if I knew what was good for me, I would stay away from you,” she said.
The Doctor’s face went blank. “And that’s the research then, I presume?” he asked, his tone ice cold. “Well? Has it made you want to stay away from me?”
Rose’s brow furrowed at his coldness, before she reached over and grabbed his hand. He looked very much like he wanted to pull away but she held it in her grip and met his gaze squarely. “I didn’t open it,” she said sincerely.
His icy demeanour faltered, but only a little. “Why not?” he inquired, still in that odd, cold tone. “I suppose with Jimmy Stones’ resources he was able to hire somebody capable of digging up the right sort of information so you don’t have to worry about it being inaccurate.”
“Stop it,” said Rose, frustrated. “I don’t care what’s in that envelope. I care about you, Doctor, not some sordid past you may or may not have had.”
His eyes softened momentarily. “You should care about what’s in that envelope, Rose,” he said. “I know about your mum and your dad. I know stories about them that you told me. Don’t you ever wonder the same about me?” he asked.
“‘Course I do,” she said at once. “But I only want to know if you are ready to open up and tell me. If I really wanted to snoop around, I would have got Mickey to do a background check on you. The only reason I brought this up was because I didn’t want us to start our relationship off on dishonesty.”
He stared at her, stunned at the open honesty in her shining eyes. “Oh Rose,” he said softly and cupped her cheek.
Without giving her a chance to say more, he kissed her soundly, coaxing her mouth open with his tongue to delve deeper. She tasted like the wine that they had shared, with the underlying sweet taste of something quite exquisite. Her lips were just as soft as he remembered, and when she started to kiss him back, he couldn’t quite hold back his low moan.
Rose moved quite suddenly to straddle him, and he gasped into her mouth at the action, but tightened his grip on her when she made to move away. At his grip, Rose smiled and kissed him as she settled onto his lap, exploring his mouth with her tongue. The manila envelope crackled, caught between their bodies, and without breaking the kiss, Rose picked it up and tossed it over her shoulder into the fire.
The Doctor broke the kiss with a gasp and looked at the envelope being burned to ash in the grate. “Are you sure?” he asked, his breathing heavy.
Rose smirked as she slid off his lap and held her hand out to him. “Come with me?” she asked, sounding oddly vulnerable despite her confident smile.
The Doctor took her hand and hauled himself up. There was no question about it. He would always go wherever she wanted him to.
It was much later in the aftermath of their lovemaking that he felt comfortable opening up to her. She was patient as she listened to him, keeping her interruptions to the minimum.
“You might have guessed already,” he murmured into her hair. “But I came from old money. We were a huge family once, but my father was the youngest of his siblings and he outlived them all before he even met my mother. People used to say we were cursed.” He chuckled without humour. “A curse would explain a lot, but it wasn’t a curse. Sometimes things just go wrong.”
Rose’s eyes softened and she squeezed his hand gently. He paused and kissed her nose before continuing.
“My mother was a school teacher. She came from a simple family but she fell in love with my father and they were married. I was born in the fifth year of their marriage. I was doted on as a child, until my mother contracted an illness which took her before I could reach my fourth birthday,” he said.
“Oh, Doctor,” said Rose, holding him a little tighter.
He smiled at her gratefully. “My father did his best to look after me, but a part of him had died with my mother. I was given the best care possible, governesses and tutors paid to groom me into the perfect heir to take over the family estate. I hardly saw my father, who chose to spend his days mourning my mother,” he said. “At first, I thought that was all it was.”
He stopped and took a deep breath before continuing. “He was ill,” he said finally. “His memory was going. I had been shipped off to boarding school once I had turned eleven as per tradition, so I didn’t notice. He had always been distant and it took a long time for me to realise how ill he really was. I was barely sixteen and my father’s memory had regressed to the point where he could no longer remember that I was his son.”
Rose had tears in her eyes but she bit back the barrage of questions at the tip of her tongue and listened patiently.
“Once I realised his condition, I found him the best care possible,” he said. “It’s a very good facility in Cornwall. Of course, the rest of the world didn’t quite see it that way.” He snorted bitterly. “What they saw was a young heir shipping his old father away and taking over the family fortune. It’s made worse by the fact that I haven’t seen him in nearly twenty years.”
“Why?” asked Rose, before she could stop herself. She had been blown away with the knowledge that his father was still alive.
The Doctor looked at her with moist eyes. “Because his illness is hereditary,” he said.
Rose let those words sink in. “Oh, Doctor,” she said, feeling at a loss for words.
“I can’t see him, Rose,” he said, his voice shaking. “Because I am a coward who can’t bear the possibility that what has happened to him will also happen to me. I am so afraid that if I go to him, all I will really see is my own future.”
“Have you been diagnosed?” asked Rose, still trying to come to terms with what he had told her.
He shook his head. “But as you know very well, my memory is not the best,” he said. “I can hardly function without Donna drilling my schedule into my head everyday.”
“Forgetting a meeting isn’t the same as losing your memories, Doctor,” said Rose, cupping his face gently.
“But what if it is?” he asked, his voice twisted in anguish. “What if turn into him, Rose? What if I forget everything about who I was, what I did and the people I cared about?” He paused and stroked her cheek. “What if I forget you?”
“You won’t,” said Rose, grasping his hand. When he started to shake his head, she squeezed his hand firmly. “I won’t let you.”
He stared at her and Rose returned his scared yet hopeful gaze fiercely, until his face softened and he kissed her sweetly.
“I mean it,” Rose murmured against his lips. “Even if you forget who you are, I never will. And I will do my best to remind you.” She pulled away slightly and brushed her thumb over his lips. “I love you, Doctor. You are stuck with me.”
He beamed at her. “Stuck with you, Rose Tyler? It’s not so bad,” he said.
“Yeah?” she asked.
“Yes,” he said firmly and then kissed her again. “And just so you know, I love you very much, Rose Tyler.”
Things between them got better after that. Telling their friends was a surprise, since the general sentiment after the announcement that they were dating was something along the lines of ‘Finally!’
The media gobbled the story up like vultures. The young Vitex heiress and an older heir with a sordid past made for great gossip. The general sentiment among them was that the Doctor was after Rose for her money and his past had been brought up more than once, which angered Rose to no end, but didn’t seem to bother the Doctor so much. He was ecstatic these days, and telling Rose about his past had brought solace to his heart like nothing else.
One of the things that did suffer were his classes, because a lot of the people who would sneak into his lectures had no interest in history, but just wanted to gawp at the boyfriend of the pretty Vitex heiress. So, when the academic year ended and the Doctor was offered a teaching position in Paris for a year, he was quick to inform the Dean that he was very interested and would have a definite answer by the next day.
That night he told Rose, who was all for it, and when he asked shyly if she would want to accompany him, she was eager to accept. London and Paris weren’t too far away but with how new things still were between them, they both wanted to be close. Their summer was spent making arrangements and when autumn came around, the two of them had moved to a lovely little villa in Paris.
Living in Paris was like honeymoon without a wedding for the two of them. He was only teaching one class a week which left them with plenty of time to sightsee and spend time in each others’ company. He left Paris one day after telling Rose he had something important to do and returned two days later, looking very tired. He collapsed into her arms and told her that he had been up to see his father in Cornwall. His father hadn’t recognised him at all, but he had still spent the day playing chess with him. His father’s physicians had informed him that his health was deteriorating and that he wouldn’t have long to live.
At Rose’s request, he took her to see him a month later. His health had worsened and it was difficult to know if he understood at all when the Doctor introduced Rose to him. The news of his death came mere three weeks after their visit. Rose held him through the night as the Doctor sobbed for a father he had lost so long ago and had only just started to reconcile with.
As the year passed, they went from a new couple to a couple who had been through a year’s worth of laughter, tears, fights and discoveries and come out stronger through it. When the university in Paris offered him another year, the Doctor and Rose talked, after which he politely declined the offer.
The two of them returned to England briefly and the Doctor took up a position as a visiting Professor at fellow universities in Europe, North America and Asia. It kept them moving every few months, from city to city and country to country.
He proposed to Rose at sunrise over the rock at Uluru and the two got married in a small church in New Zealand a month later. It was somewhere in the middle of a Colorado winter when Rose, who had been sick for the better part of the week, took five pregnancy tests and cried joyfully with her husband of two years when they learned she was pregnant.
Their firstborn came around in the hottest summer that Dubai had ever seen. The little girl with her curly brown hair and hazel eyes prompted their return to England and she was barely six months old when Rose was pregnant again, this time with twins. The move to England became permanent after that and the Doctor took a sabbatical, choosing to spend time with their daughter and a very pregnant Rose.
They knew they would travel again once the children were slightly older, but for the moment they were happy to stay still. The Doctor mused that if ever there was a day when he found himself forgetting Rose’s smile or the lovely little wonders that they had both created, he would have all of them reminding him about everything he had to live for.
And that was the best feeling in the world.
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