"Those are Mickey's things," the Doctor says, leaning over her shoulder. His wild hair tickles her ear. "What are you doing with them?"
"Taking them back to the Wardrobe room. I thought I should, yeah?"
"You don't have to. We can just close the room up."
"No. Someone might-- in the future, maybe, you'll have some boy around in the future that needs a pair of jeans, I don't know."
"You don't have to."
"I want to."
"There you are," the Doctor says. "Jack won't move till you give his outfit the all-clear. Shift a leg, eh?" His voice is a low Northern burr and his clothes are dark and shabby and his ears are every bit as ridiculous as she remembers.
She drops Mickey's box on her foot.
"What's that?" he asks.
"Um," she says. "Just-- uh, just some things? What are you doing here?"
The Doctor looks hurt, and gestures dramatically to his chest, to the faded Pokemon t-shirt he's got on. "I can change my clothes every now and again," he says. "It's not like they're glued on."
"God, hold-- hold on a minute." Rose closes her eyes, presses her hands to her face, and takes three deep breaths. When she peeks out over the tips of her fingers the Doctor is still standing, there, dark and defensive and rubbing awkwardly at the bright cartoon creatures under his jacket.
"The world doesn't end if the Doctor likes Team Rocket," he mutters. "I'm almost positive."
She remembers this: she remembers them. Dressing up for Harajuku Japan in the 90's, ending up in the Tokugawa Shogunate. She and Jack had fought a Samurai; the Doctor had held her hair when she'd drunk too much rice wine at the celebration afterward. And then came the Game Station, and Bad Wolf, and everything had gone smashing apart forever.
Jack's smile is bright and sweet, and his jacket is red with black flames up the sleeves, and the pomade he's picked out for his hair has pink glitter in it. He's almost more alien than the Doctor, and it feels like a hammer blow against her heart how much she'd liked him, and how little that ended up mattering.
"How's the hair?" he asks her, eager as a child.
"It's a bit flash," she says, running her hands through it.
"It's very flash," the Doctor says.
"I like it. It's very Elvis, very twentieth century." Jack preens in the mirror. "The sixties, man, they knew how to party!"
"If you like that sort of thing."
"Aww, don't be like that," Jack teases, taking the Doctor's hands and swaying with him. "Come on now: one for the money, two for the road, three for the sugar, and--"
"That's not how it goes at all, you're butchering it," the Doctor protests, dipping him without missing a beat. "Have you ever even been to the sixties?"
Jack swings back upright, laughing. He's so alive. "We'll put it on the itinerary, okay?" he grins.
"If it's alright with Rose," the Doctor says.
"C'mon, li'l darlin'," Jack drawls to her, still in the Doctor's arms, "Y'wanna take a chance?"
"Whatever y'all like, daddios," she tells them.
Jack and the Doctor laugh at that, unselfconscious and entirely unaware of their own futures, or more specifically their own awful lack thereof.
They're so innocent.
"I gotta--" she says, and waves her hand. "I gotta go."
"You want some help with your outfit?" Jack offers. "I saw a feather boa--"
"No!" she says, "I mean, nah, I got one. I just-- I just have to go. Um. And get it."
"Alright, then, go get changed," the Doctor says, coming to give her a hug. "We'll see you back at the Console Room, yeah?"
"Sure," she says. Tries to smile.
She wraps her arms around the Doctor, breaths in that familiar leather-and-rain smell one last time.
"See you," she says.
He pats her head, pushes her away.
She goes to the Console Room anyway.
When she sees only the Doctor with the tight pinstripe trousers and foxy hair rattling around the console and talking to himself, she has no words for the kind of ache that seizes her heart. It's a jumble of grief and regret and shame and love... Her fingers still have Jack's glitter on them, and it's this final thing that makes her sit down hard, on the jumpseat.
The Doctor goes still.
"Rose?" he asks.
She holds up her fingertips to him.
"I saw-- the Wardrobe room--"
He sits down next to her. His eyes are dark as interstellar space, as they flick back and forth between her fingers and face, and as fathomless.
"Japan," he says, "Just before we went? I remember, I thought you smelled older for a bit. I didn't think anything of it, then-- linear progression's a bit funny in the Wardrobe room."
"Yeah," she says. "You could have warned me sooner. I mean, it was, it was nice. It's just--" she sniffles a little. "God, never mind, don't listen to me. I don't know."
"Oh, Rose..." the Doctor bumps her shoulder with his, nervously. "They say, the more things change, the more they stay the same, yeah? They do say that, don't they? Rose?"
"I miss you," she says.
He looks hurt. "I'm right here," he says.
"I know," she sighs. "I'm sorry. I just-- you know what I mean."
He shrugs, elaborately unconcerned. "Suppose I do," he allows. "So-- where d'you want to go next, then? Venice? Mars? Johannesburg?"
"Elvis," she says, without thinking. She clenches her fist around the last few bits of glitter. She smiles at him, a gesture that doesn't quite reach her eyes. "Can we go see Elvis?"
He smiles the same smile back at her. "Whatever you like," he says. He wraps her up in a tight hug, and rests his cheek against her forehead.
"Alright," she says, smiling a bit more.
And it is.