But Sarah Jane... you were that close to her once, and now... you never even mention her. Why not?
I don't age. I regenerate. But humans decay. You wither and you die. Imagine watching that happen to someone who you--
The words rang around in Rose’s head, round and round like an ever-decreasing circle, with nowhere to go and no way of ending. She thought he loved her. He showed her daily, in his actions, in his words, in every thing he did. Until tonight when she’d discovered Sarah bloody Jane, she of the battling eyelashes and the broken tin dog. She, who was currently downstairs, catching up with the Doctor over tea, while Rose had been patted on the head and sent up to bed, like a good little girl.
Rose picked at the lilac flowered duvet cover, sighing. Just where did she go from here? Maybe she ought to go home with Mickey tomorrow, once the Doctor had sorted everything out. But then, she didn’t want to go home, and even if the Doctor didn’t love her as she thought, she wanted to cling onto him. Rose shook her head. Clinging onto him just wouldn’t do, that didn’t work in life; she ought to know this by now, she was not a child. She wouldn’t cling to him. She would fight for him; fight Sarah Jane Smith for him. She’d had her turn, and the Doctor wasn’t hers anymore.
Rose stood, taking a step towards the door when it opened up, bathing the room with light from the hallway. The Doctor stood nonchalantly in the doorway, his face shadowed against the light.
“Here, you are,” he said quietly. “I wondered where you’d got to, Mickey took a lot of settling did he?” He looked over towards the bed with a smirk and a slight nod of his head.
“No!” Rose whispered loudly. “ Mickey’s not in here. Why would he be?” Rose immediately went on the attack. She wouldn’t have Mickey in her room; she hadn’t since the regeneration, not since the Doctor and she had finally admitted they more than cared for each other. But tonight had shaken Rose’s faith in the Doctor; it reminded her that she didn’t really know him and she didn’t like it at all.
The Doctor shrugged. “Dunno, I just thought…’Cos Mickey was here…”
Rose stormed towards him, pointing, her eyes glittering. “Don’t you dare! Don’t you just dare! Mickey is NOT in here. I wouldn’t do that to you. You are the one downstairs going gaga over ‘old assistants’.” The final words were punctuated with the familiar gesture.
Stepping inside the room, closing the door and turning on the lights, the Doctor began. “I am not going gaga over Sarah Jane, she was my friend, a good friend, I haven’t seen her in a very long time.”
“And here you are, letting me know not to wait up tonight, so you and her can carry on where you left off!”
“What are you talking…?”
“Don’t lie to me, Doctor. Just tell me the truth. I understand, the term is ‘fuck buddy,’” Rose interrupted intent on hurting the Doctor before she could be hurt. She sat down on the bed and watched the emotions splay across the Doctor’s face, from anger to confusion and back to anger again.
“Fuck buddy!” he almost shouted. “Is that what I am? Well, thanks for clearing that up. It would have been nice if you’d told me first. But well! At least I know now!” He turned to walk out of the room, placing his hand upon the door handle, he turned back, “I thought you were different. I was wrong.”
Rose watched stunned as the Doctor left the room. She didn’t know what had happened there, one minute she was having a go because of Sarah Jane; the next minute the Doctor was turning it back on her. Rose tried to recall exactly what had been said. The Doctor hadn’t been cross because she’d been jealous of Sarah Jane, he’d become cross when…
“Shit!” Rose jumped off the bed and raced down the stairs after him. She was about to call out for the Doctor when she saw him and Sarah Jane hugging each other on the sofa. Rose leaned quietly against the doorframe and although she knew it was wrong to eavesdrop, she listened in.
“I am so sorry Sarah, I… it’s just so hard to return, what if I’d got the date wrong? You know what my driving is like. I couldn’t bear it if I’d come back and you weren’t here. It’s easier to imagine you living a fantastic life.” He hugged Sarah tightly. Rose felt guilty and went to move away, but Sarah’s next words stopped her dead.
“So, Rose? What’s happening between you two?”
Rose waited with bated breath to see what the Doctor would say. She nervously bit her thumb, worrying that she’d just blown everything between them.
“Oh, Sarah Jane, it’s complicated between us. I thought…well it doesn’t matter what I thought. I was wrong.”
Rose felt the tears prickle behind her eyes. She pressed her hands into her mouth to stop the sobs coming and stealthily crept up the stairs, the Doctor’s muffled voice following her. Reaching her bedroom for the night, Rose let the tears fall. She’d blown it. She’d better call her mum and tell her she’d be home tomorrow.
Rose held her breath as the phone rang, Jackie had warned her that loving an alien would end in tears, she just hoped there wouldn’t be too many I told you so’s.
“Hello, Rose? What’s wrong?” Jackie sounded worried, “Where are you? On Earth?”
“Mum, slow down. Yes, I’m on Earth. I’m not far away, but, Mum, I’m coming home tomorrow, to stay.” Rose started to cry. “I can’t stay here anymore, Mum.”
Jackie stopped talking on the other end of the line and waited for Rose to calm down.
“Now explain to me properly, what’s going on? Has the Doctor left you? ‘Cos if he has I’m going to bloody kill him so much he doesn’t regenerate!”
“No, Mum, he hasn’t left me. But…” Rose started to cry again. “It’s all been ruined mum. He hates me, I don’t think he’ll forgive me, I can’t stay.”
Jackie hung up with the words “I am going to regenerate him.” Rose stared into the phone before flipping it shut. Curling around the pillow, Rose cried herself to sleep.
The Doctor was sitting on the sofa, chatting to Sarah Jane, filling her in on various adventures he’d had since she was gone, but most of them he realised involved Rose in some way.
“Doctor,” Sarah asked, “just what is your relationship with Rose? I’m curious.”
“Oh, I don’t know, Sarah.” He scrubbed his hands through his hair. “I was in a bad place. She made me better. She’s just…oh…Sarah, she’s just everything to me.”
“But?” Sarah prompted.
The Doctor laughed a wry laugh. “Nothing ever did get past you, did it? I think we’ve had a fight.”
”Don’t you think you ought to go and sort it out?” Sarah smiled knowingly. “Girls like it when the men apologise first. I won’t tell her I told you to.” She nudged him to move. “Go on, Doctor. She is young, but she’s obviously been good for you.”
Before the Doctor could answer, his mobile began to vibrate in his pocket. He glanced at the caller ID and debated whether he should answer or not. Deciding that she would continue to ring until he did, he pressed the answer button and prepared himself.
“Doctor!! What have you done? Why is my Rose crying her eyes out? Why is she coming home? Where are you? You’d better not have hurt her, or believe me, I will hunt you down and regenerate you into a woman!” The voice of Jackie Tyler in full rant was more frightening than facing down an army of Daleks, the Doctor decided. He was about to answer her when her questions became clear.
Why was Rose going home?
“Jackie, shut up!” the Doctor demanded. “I don’t know what you’re talking about. What did Rose say?”
Jackie filled the Doctor in on the confusing conversation that she’d had earlier with Rose. He was shocked; he’d thought it was a row that would blow over. It seemed as if Rose had decided to leave him now. He slumped down into the sofa, pretending to listen to Jackie. He wondered what he could do to stop Rose leaving. He must have said that aloud because he became aware of Jackie telling him to apologise and eat humble pie.
“Ok, Jackie got to go now, things to see, people to do and all things like that! Bye!” And with that the Doctor pressed the receiver down button and hung up.
Sarah Jane laughed. “What a harridan!! She’s got the measure of you.”
The Doctor looked at Sarah Jane, wondering when she had become so bitter.
“She’s actually quite nice,” he said quietly. “She saved me at Christmastime. Well, I say saved me, it was her tea really. But my point stands, her bark is much worse than her bite.”
The Doctor stood up determined to go and talk with Rose “We’ll finish this out tomorrow, Sarah. I just need to, well, sort things out.” He pointed up. “Night night, Sarah Jane.”
He walked up the stairs a condemned man. He was the one hurt by Rose’s comment and yet, here he was going to apologise. He didn’t care; he couldn’t stand it when he and Rose rowed and when she cried he felt his hearts break. He knocked gently on the door before he quietly opened it and peered inside. He swallowed down the lump in his throat as the light illuminated the tear stained face of Rose sleeping on the bed. He slowly walked over to the edge of the bed and sat down. Gently, he brushed her hair off her face and stroked the backs of his fingers down her cheek.
“Rose,” he gently whispered. “Rose, we need to talk.”
Rose woke slowly, blinking her eyes when she saw the Doctor sitting beside her. He turned to switch the bedside lamp on, and then settled himself beside her, leaning against the headboard.
“What happened today Rose? We were having so much fun and now all this.” The Doctor gestured towards himself and her.
Rose moved herself into a more comfortable position on the bed, so she could see his face properly. “I don’t know, Doctor, I... I don’t know what to think anymore. What do you think is happening?” Rose answered, putting the ball firmly back into the Doctor’s court.
He sighed and looked Rose in the eye. “I think we need to clear a few things up between us, but I’m not sure Sarah Jane’s house is the time or the place. Somehow I’ve become the bad guy here, Jackie shouted at me, Sarah Jane laughed and you, you Rose, did you mean what you said? That I was your ‘fuck buddy’?”
Rose shifted uncomfortably under his stare, the swear word sounding even more harsh coming from the Doctor. “You accused me of having Mickey here. What am I supposed to say? You never tell me anything about how you feel. Yes we shag, fuck, whatever you want to call it, but you never tell me what you feel about me. Do we ever make love Doctor?” Rose looked away and played with a loose thread on the bottom of her t-shirt. She felt rather than heard him sigh and move away from her. Glancing at him, she saw that he was sitting on the edge of the bed, his head hanging down in his hands, looking defeated.
“I told you how I felt.” He was so quiet, Rose had to strain to hear him.
“What? When was that?” Rose whispered. Maybe she had missed something before.
“Outside the café, earlier tonight. I bared my soul to you and not two hours later you are called me a Fuck buddy. Imagine that Rose.” He turned to look at Rose, eyes brimming with emotion. “Imagine how you’d feel.”
“I’m…” The words caught in her throat as she thought about what had been said outside the café, ‘I don't age. I regenerate. But humans decay. You wither and you die. Imagine watching that happen to someone who you…’
“You told me that you loved Sarah Jane, that’s what you said,” Rose countered, still upset.
“I do, did, she was my assistant, my confidante, my friend. Of course I loved her,” the Doctor tried to explain.
“Like me,” Rose ventured, hoping that it was still true, that even though she’d messed things up emotionally between them, he wouldn’t hate her.
“No, not like you,” the Doctor almost shouted as he turned to Rose and clutched her hands so tightly she was sure he’d cut off the circulation. “I told you, you are different. I told you that you could stay with me for the rest of your life.”
“Oh,” Rose whispered, “because you don’t love me, not like you loved Sarah Jane.” She tried to pull her hands away from his, she needed to protect herself against the hurt that she was sure was coming.
“No Rose,” he answered, gripping her more tightly, “because I’m too selfish to let you go. I love you too much to let you go. I’m sorry, but I do.”
Rose lifted her tear filled eyes to look at the Doctor. He looked back at her nervously as though he were afraid she was going to reject him. Rising to her knees so they were the same height, Rose twisted her wrists to hold his hands properly. Leaning forward slowly, she placed her lips gently upon his and kissed him.
The Doctor, still shocked at his truthful outburst, took a moment to realise what was happening, but by that time Rose was pulling away.
“I’m sorry.” She said, “I’ll just…”
“No, stay,” the Doctor whispered, “stay with me forever, please.”
Rose snaked her arms around the Doctor and hugged him tightly. “You’re stuck me with, Doctor. I’m never going anywhere.”
The Doctor and Rose lay wrapped in each other’s arms until the early morning sun peaked its way through the curtains. They had talked a lot through the night and decided that they cared for each other too much to let each other go.
It was only as Rose watched the Doctor hugging Sarah Jane after blowing up the school did the Doctor’s words come back to her. “I love you too much to let you go.” Rose grinned; he was hers.