...But the Story Never Ends

by WhoMe [Reviews - 169]

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  • Teen
  • None
  • Angst, Drama, Het, Romance

Author's Notes:
A rather heavy, angst-filled chapter. But as you’ll see in the one that follows, this is leading up to a much happier ending that helps explain, at least in my mind, the Doctor’s mercurial shift in mood from how he was at the end of “Waters of Mars” to his much more jovial demeanor when he stepped out of the TARDIS at the start of “The End of Time.”

The look he gave her was unsettling. She had never seen such darkness in the Doctor’s eyes, and it unnerved her to the core. It was then Rose registered the feel of two hearts beating beneath her palms. She gasped and pulled her hands back with a start, as if she’d been burned.

They held each other’s gaze for a tense moment, both breathing heavily.

“Two hearts,” Rose finally gasped. “It’s…it’s you.”                      

He swallowed heavily. “Yes.”

She shook her head slowly. “But…how?”

“Temporal collision.”

He finally broke the stare that had their eyes fused to each other, and suddenly it seemed as if he couldn’t get far enough away from her as he went to the other side of the console and busied himself at the controls.

Rose’s mind was spinning. She didn’t understand how this could even be possible. If this happened now, then why didn’t her Doctor – this Doctor’s future self – remember it? Surely this was the sort of thing he would have mentioned.

“You shouldn’t be here,” he said flatly, knowing there was no possible way Rose could stay – he severed any chance for that when he made the excruciating decision to leave her behind, believing she could have a better life with her family and a version of himself who had the courage to love her as she deserved to be loved. Rose no longer belonged in this universe – no longer belonged with him. So as much as it killed him inside, the only thing he could do was send her back.

Again.

And for the sake of his stability, the sooner the better. He couldn’t allow himself to feel the joy of having Rose with him again, only to inevitably lose her once more. He was not able to bring himself to even look at her as he spoke. “As soon as I figure out how to reverse this, I’ll send you back,” he said, his emotionless tone concealing the turmoil within.

Rose sank down into the jump seat and eyed him pensively. The Doctor had told her how alone and broken he had been during this time. He had also told her that while he often thought of her, he sometimes had to do his best to block it out because the thought of her gone from his life was just too painful to dwell on.

A throbbing ache rose in her chest as she watched him while he worked at the controls, single-mindedly determined to send her away. “You can’t get rid of me quick enough, can you?” Rose said, unable to hide the hurt in her voice. She knew she shouldn’t let herself be upset by his reaction to her, especially knowing how everything would work out for them in the end. But still, it did hurt.

His eyes flashed up to her, then quickly back down. “I’m just trying to get you home,” he replied, his voice tight.

“Weren’t you always,” she let quietly slip out. He didn’t respond.

It’s funny, Rose thought ruefully, there was a time when this universe was home, and she would have given her life to get back to it. But she couldn’t blame this Doctor for reacting this way. He was probably experiencing emotional turmoil right now.

He continued on at the controls for several minutes, the atmosphere thick with intense silence. Rose wanted to go to him, take his hand in hers and tell him that everything would be alright, that he would not be alone for much longer and tell him about the amazing life they would soon have together. But she knew she couldn’t. If he knew about his future, it could change everything. So she remained silent and couldn’t let him know that the Doctor she was with in the other universe was really him – or at least soon would be.

After several more minutes, the Doctor finally spoke up, but his eyes remained fixed on the controls. “If I can reverse the dimensional stabilizers creating a temporal fold-back and recreate the conditions that caused this, I should be able to open the fissure between dimensions and send you back. I’ve set the stabilizers on a reversal loop to start the process, but it’ll take about twenty minutes for them to cycle ‘round.”

The Doctor continued fidgeting at the controls, never once looking in her direction.

“You can look at me, you know,” Rose finally said, her voice sounding small. “I’m just…me,” she finished with a shrug.

Slowly, he lifted his eyes to her. “You were never just you,” he said, so softly she could barely make out his words.

They each held the other’s gaze for a moment. There was so much they both wanted to say, but neither one was able to find the words or even know where to begin. It was Rose who finally looked away first as she spoke.

“Will he know what happened – know that I’m alright? I don’t want him to worry.”

His jaw tensed. The Doctor knew exactly who the he was she was referring to – the man who had everything he never could. “If he’s half as clever as me, and he should be, then I’m sure he’s worked it out.”

Rose just nodded.

The Doctor cleared his throat. “Earlier, you said it was my…his…driving skills that threw you to the floor. Does that mean you were…?”

“In the TARDIS,” she confirmed.

“How can you have a TARDIS already?” he questioned in surprise.

“It’s…a long story,” she finally answered.

 There was another long pause of silence.

“You didn’t even say goodbye,” she suddenly blurted out. Rose knew she shouldn’t even be going down this road. The two of them had already been through all this, and she had long since put it behind her. But somehow, seeing him like this – the same man with the same mindset who walked away without the intention of ever returning, she couldn’t help but feel that familiar sting once again.

He swallowed thickly, his eyes filled with pain. “I couldn’t. I just couldn’t,” he said quietly.

Suddenly his face became an emotionless mask once more, and he turned back to the console. “Besides, you were a bit preoccupied at the time anyway. I’m surprised you even noticed,” he said flippantly, but with an unmistakable edge of bitterness to his tone.

“Well isn’t that what you wanted?” Rose retorted as she stood up. Oh, she knew this was insane. Having an argument about him jealous of her being with his other self when they were exactly the same man, but she just couldn’t help herself. He always had a way of stirring up a fire in her, but most of the time in very good ways.

Yet his broken, anguished reply quickly subdued the feeling of anger that has risen up. “Yeah,” he breathed, his voice cracking with pain as he gazed at the floor. “That’s what I wanted. I wanted you to be happy.” He looked back up at her with sorrowful eyes filled with centuries of regret. “Are you happy, Rose?”

Rose’s eyes traveled down to the wedding ring on her finger as his gaze followed her line of sight. She forced down the lump in her throat as she replied. “Yeah. I’m very happy. You make me happy.” She bit her lip in a second’s hesitation, then spoke the words she had been fighting back. “Doctor, he’s you.” Her words came out in a rush, unable to stop herself.

He smiled sadly. “That’s what I had tried to tell you back on that beach. I’m glad you finally realized it.”

Her shoulders sagged. “Yeah,” she mumbled as she slumped back down on the jump seat, wincing in pain as she did so.

He was at her side in an instant. “Are you hurt?” he asked in concern.

She shifted, trying to ignore the pain in her side. “I’m fine. Just a little sore from the landing I made.”

“Come on, let’s get you to the infirmary,” he insisted. She knew it was pointless to argue.

He instinctively held out his hand to her which she instantly took. He momentarily froze at the contact. The feel of her hand in his was something he had ached for ever since it had been gone from his life. He now had her back for this brief moment, but felt the pain of knowing he was going to have to give her up once more. That’s why he always ran and never looked back. Going back was too painful.

But still, he had her hand now, if only for this brief moment; and he wasn’t about to let go. There was one thing that had never changed: He needed Rose like he needed the air to breathe – he had from the moment he met her. And just being near her once more almost inexplicably soothed the turmoil he was feeling over what had just transpired on Bowie Base One.

The Doctor walked Rose to the infirmary and finally released her hand to have her sit on the table while he ran a quick scan for injury.

“You’ve got a bruised rib, but nothing serious,” he assessed. He then turned to grab the dermal regenerator.

Rose reached for the hem of her shirt and tugged it over her head without giving it a second thought. Being intimate with him felt natural to her now, and she briefly forgot that this him had never seen her in quite this way. He turned back and froze in place as his eyes traveled over her, clad in only a bra and the tight-fitting low-slung jeans her Doctor loved her in (and out of). Suddenly feeling more than a bit awkward, Rose blushed and went to reach for her shirt, but then stopped herself.

He is a doctor, after all, she thought to herself with an inward smirk. And why not give him a little glimpse of things to come?

His gaze traveled down and fell upon the iridescent scar on her abdomen. He slowly stepped closer. Tentatively, he reached out his hand and trailed his fingers down its length, causing them both to shiver at the contact. He lifted his eyes to hers with a questioning look.

“It was the worst and best day of my life,” Rose said in reply, but knew she couldn’t give him the details. He would have to live it for himself. The Doctor simply nodded, but she knew in that moment he could feel the bond between them, yet didn’t know it was a bond that would one day be his.

The Doctor forced his eyes back to her face as he cleared his throat. “Lie back,” he instructed, forcing neutrality into his tone. Rose eased herself back as he ran the device over the bruised, tender flesh. The Doctor had to fight to stay focused on the job at hand. He could smell himself all over her and it was driving him mad. He was also acutely aware of the ring on her left hand – an Eternity Stone, and he could now sense a bond that Rose had with his other self.

The Doctor had always told himself he could never have Rose in the way he wanted to, but now it was clear his other self was able to have just that. He inwardly cursed the injustice of it all.

He told Adelaide Brooke that he was the Time Lord Victorious, and the Winner; but the truth of it was he felt like the Universal Loser.

The Doctor thought back to the time when it was just him and Rose. Just the two of them running hand-in-hand through time and space, and everything between them was so easy and care-free. He always knew it would one day have to end, but a part of him wanted so desperately to believe it was true when she told him she would stay with him forever. But that just wasn’t possible no matter how much he had wanted to believe it.

Somewhere between “Run” and “Does it need saying?” innocence was lost, and everything became a bit more complicated.

After several moments, the Doctor switched off the device and set it aside as Rose sat up. He placed a hand over her now healed rib, applying just the slightest pressure. “All better?” he asked, his throat feeling constricted from the emotions he was trying to tamp down.

Rose placed her hand over his. “Yes,” she breathed. She reached out her other hand and gently stroked his cheek, feeling him tremor slightly beneath the intimacy of her touch. Oh, how she loved this man – past or present. He was simply her Doctor, and her love and desire for him would remain constant throughout all of Time.

Unable to stop herself and drawn to him by instinct, she leaned forward, bringing her face closer to his, stopping only when their lips were nearly touching. He didn’t make a move to come closer, but neither did he pull away. She could feel his breath coming out in rapid pants as she closed the final centimeter between them and pressed her lips to his. His mouth was soft and pliant beneath hers, and she was about to lose herself in him, just as she always did, when she realized with a start what she was doing, and that he was not responding, not moving.

Rose broke the kiss, pulled back and looked into his eyes. Something suddenly flashed in those dark brown pools. Was it anger? Sorrow? Need? Perhaps a mixture of all three. Before she had a chance to register what was happening, he pulled her to him almost savagely and claimed her mouth in a fiery kiss. It was desperate and hungry and raw. Rose knew she should stop this before it went too far; but then he was doing that magical thing with his tongue that made her lose it every time and, oh, she didn’t want him to ever stop.

But he finally did stop, just as suddenly as he began. He slowly released her and took a step back, both breathing heavily.

He ran a quivering hand through his hair. “I’m sorry,” he said shakily.

Rose slipped the shirt back over her head and took a deep breath. “I’m not,” she replied simply and without regret.

The Doctor stared at her with uncertainty, perhaps questioning her fidelity to her husband. “He’s you,” Rose said firmly once again, wishing she could tell him just how literal that statement was.

Sorrow washed over his face once more, thinking if only that were true. “Yeah,” he replied in a hoarse whisper as he turned and left the room.

Rose sighed heavily. Just when she thought all complications between her and the Doctor were behind them, the universe always seemed to have a way of throwing them a curve.