The Doctor continued marching them down the corridor and away from the direction of Joron. Rose finally shrugged out of his grasp once they reached the TARDIS.
“Doctor, that was rude!” she scolded.
“Yeah? Well get used to it,” he said unapologetically.
Rose stepped in front of him, forcing him to a stop. “Excuse me?” she challenged.
He deflated and let out a sigh. “I’m sorry. But I don’t trust him, Rose.”
She folded her arms across her chest. “Don’t trust him or don’t trust me?”
“Rose, he’s a warrior. Zendorians have fighting in their blood.”
“I know,” she replied. “I’ve seen that side to him, seen the anger. And you know what? He reminded me of you.” The Doctor stuffed his hands in his pockets and swallowed thickly. “You when we first met. He has lost so many that he cared about — I should think you could sympathize,” she added. “And so I tried to be a friend to him.”
“Well that’s clearly not how he sees it,” he replied tersely.
“I don’t care how he sees it. But I do care how you see it.”
The Doctor blew out a long breath. “I suppose I just don’t like the idea of someone else showing you the stars in my absence,” he admitted, while gazing down at the tops of his trainers. “I know that sounds selfish, but that’s how I feel.”
Rose smiled softly. “You showed Martha and Donna the stars in my absence,” she pointed out.
His head snapped up. “That was different.”
“They were just friends.”
“And Joron and I were just friends. Besides, it was just three trips, and it was not like when you and I traveled together,” Rose assured him.
His lips twitched in a half smile. “Yeah?”
Rose smiled slowly as she took a step closer. “Yeah.” She draped her arms around his neck as his hands came to rest on her waist. “I’ve never seen you this…possessive.”
“Oh, I’ve felt this way before,” he drawled. “Let’s see, there was Mickey and Adam and Jack,” he rattled off, then locked eyes with her once more. “But now that I’ve got these human hormones thrown into the mix, I think you’re going to find I have a harder time of suppressing it and can be much more aggressive.” He dropped his voice an octave lower. “Complaining?”
Rose slowly traced a finger down his tie. “Not at all.” Then she leaned in closer to his ear. “It’s actually quite a turn-on.”
A low growl rumbled in his throat as his head dipped down to claim her mouth with his own, and Rose reached up to thread her fingers through his hair as her tongue battled his for dominance. After several moments, his lips found their way to her neck, then continued lower. The top button of her blouse seemed to come undone of its own accord, and the Doctor took advantage of the extra slack to nudge the garment back slightly from her shoulder and place open-mouthed kisses on the exposed skin as his fingers drifted down to toy with the second button of her blouse.
Rose knew if she didn’t somehow find the resolve to slow this down now, she never would. “Doctor,” she whispered breathlessly.
“Hmmm?” he responded absently, preoccupied with his current activities.
“We’re supposed to be taking things slow, remember?”
The Doctor pulled back and gave her a smoldering look. “I can go very slow…”
Rose bit back the whimper that threatened to escape her lips. Just the way he was looking at her made her melt inside. “You know what I mean,” she said reluctantly as she straitened her now disheveled clothing.
He sighed and ran a hand through his hair. “Sorry.”
She placed a finger on his lips. “Don’t be. I want this with you. I want us to have everything together. But I also want to take our time with this,” she said, as the Doctor took several deep breaths to get himself back under control. Rose then cast a glance over at the console. “Plus right now I think we have some repairs to get back to.”
The Doctor quickly brightened at the mention of that. “No time at all, Rose Tyler, and I’ll be the one showing you the stars again,” he said exuberantly.
He then tossed his jacket onto the jump seat and rolled up his sleeves as he scooted back under the console to get back to work. Rose sighed dreamily as she watched him. “You show me the stars every time you touch me,” she whispered to herself.
The Doctor was only half focusing on the work he was doing. His mind kept going back to Joron. “He might have found a reason to stay longer,” he grumbled to himself. “Just what did he mean by that?!” The Doctor knew exactly what he meant by that, and that’s what was bothering him. There were no doubts in the Doctor’s mind about his relationship with Rose or where he stood with her. But that didn’t stop the uneasy feeling this man gave him. The Doctor wasn’t comfortable with anyone looking at Rose in such a predatory way (with the exception of himself, of course).
He was so distracted by his thoughts that his hand slipped and he cut it on a sharp edge of metal exposed under the console. He hissed in pain and quickly stood up.
Rose looked up from the other side of the console where she was working. “What’s wrong?”
“Nothing,” he snapped as he cradled his hand. He didn’t mean to sound angry. He was just angry at himself for letting Joron get to him like that.
Rose ignored his foul mood and came up to check his injury. She sucked in a breath when she saw his hand. “That’s not nothing. You’ve practically sliced your hand open!” She grabbed a rag off the floor. “Here,” she began, as she wrapped it around his hand, “this isn’t exactly sanitary, but we need to stop the bleeding. Now, let’s get you to the infirmary and see if the dermal regenerator is still working. If not, you’ll have to go down to the med-bay.”
“I can’t,” he protested. “I’m in the middle of calibrating the plasma coils, and I can’t just leave it, not right now.”
“Then I’ll do it,” she offered. “You’ve shown me how. Just go get that hand taken care of.”
“Fine,” he huffed, very much like a petulant child.
He made his way down the TARDIS corridor towards the infirmary, annoyed with his body’s new vulnerabilities and muttering about ‘bloody human weaknesses.’ By the time he reached the room, however, his hand had stopped throbbing and the bleeding had stopped. He unwrapped the cloth and inspected his hand. He quickly found something to wash it off with and stared in disbelief at what he saw. The wound was already beginning to heal.
His mind began racing with the implications of what that could mean. Now that he was part human, he knew he could no longer regenerate. But even still, perhaps he had been too hasty in thinking that meant his Time Lord side was suppressed when it came to his body’s renewing capabilities. Perhaps he had also been too hasty in thinking he would have an ordinary human lifespan. He quickly began working to bring one of the scanners online so he could find out for certain.
Once the scan was complete, he pulled out his specs to examine the results. The Doctor felt his throat constrict as he viewed the information before his eyes. It was true that he only had one life and would grow old and never regenerate, but apparently it would be a long while before that happened. Although he would eventually age, it would happen at a very slow rate. And even without being able to regenerate, evidently his body still had superior regenerative capabilities, as evidenced by his rapidly-healing hand.
The Doctor removed his glasses and sat limply on a stool as his mind swirled with thoughts of what this would mean for him and Rose. It wasn’t that he wanted to die, but he didn’t want to live on alone. He had been cursed by that fate for centuries — having to live on while he eventually lost everyone he ever cared about.
The taunting words of the Krillitane filtered back through his mind.
“Their lives are so fleeting. So many goodbyes. How lonely you must be, Doctor.”
This was the very thing that had kept him from allowing himself to act upon his feelings for Rose in the past, kept him from getting too close. He knew he would eventually face the pain of losing her.
He thought back to the conversation he once had with Rose where he told her of that harsh truth.
“Humans decay. You wither and you die. Imagine watching that happen to someone who you…”
“You can spend the rest of your life with me. But I can't spend the rest of mine with you. I have to live on. Alone. That's the curse of the Time Lords.”
This was one of the justifications he gave himself for leaving her with a version of him who he thought would have a lifetime to match her own. He told Rose they would now grow old at the same time — together.
Apparently the universe had other ideas.
As he continued to ponder these things, he reached a firm decision. He resolved that this would not change anything as far as his relationship with Rose was concerned. He might have let this be an issue to keep them apart in the past, but he was not going to let it come between them now. Whether they had a few days or a few decades together, he was going to stay with her for however much time they could have, even if it meant he would be alone in the end.
He just wasn’t sure how to go about telling Rose this. They were still trying to adjust to everything, and she’d already had so much thrown at her these past few days. He would tell her, of course. He just felt he needed to wait for the right time.
“Curse of the Time Lords,” he murmured to himself. “Two universes and not one of them gets it right.”