Title: Semper Abeo, Semper Par
Author: Gillian Taylor
Characters: Ten/Rose, implied Nine/Rose
Summary: There is no remedy for love but to love more.
Spoilers: None really.
Disclaimer: Don't own them. I just like playing with them...a lot.
Archive: Sure, just let me know.
A/N: Thanks, as always, to my beta NNWEST. The Latin 'Semper Abeo, Semper Par' can be roughly translated as 'forever change, forever the same/equal.'
Nature's first green is gold,
Her hardest hue to hold.
Her early leaf's a flower
But only so an hour.
Then leaf subsides to leaf.
So Eden sank to grief,
So dawn goes down to day.
Nothing Gold can stay.
She watched him when he was not looking, straining her eyes and her heart in the attempt to see something familiar. In the turn of his head, his pace setting walk, the way his ran his hand through his hair she tried to see a hint of the manic grinned man she once knew. Part of her recognized that she was searching for something that was no longer there, continuing to hurt both herself and him in the attempt. However, she could no more stop trying to see her Doctor in this man's eyes than she could stop breathing.
A stranger in a pin striped suit had taken the place of the man she knew, but she hoped that somewhere, hidden behind his deep brown eyes, her Doctor still existed. She missed him, though how could she mourn his passing when he was still there? With a deep sigh she leaned against one of the pillars on the console room and watched him work with slightly narrowed eyes.
He watched her out of the corner of his eye. He tried to see a hint of the happy, beautiful, intelligent woman he had asked to accompany him through time and space behind her sad expression. However, the Rose Tyler that he knew was muted - hidden behind another, suspicious version who watched him carefully for aspects of the man that he once was. He missed her, but how could he mourn her passing when she was still there? Regeneration was always hard on his companions, but this one more so than most. He loved her just as much now as he did in his ninth body. However, he knew that with her continuous search for the Doctor that she knew, nothing could ever come of that emotion.
He just wasn't certain how much longer he could stand the suspicion in her eyes before he went mad. He needed her, he wanted her, he loved her but she couldn't see him. She kept looking for the old him and, in that, she was doomed to disappointment. The Doctor put down the sonic screwdriver with a heartfelt sigh. He could not repair the TARDIS like this. Not with the air of tension that bathed the console room, not with her looking at him like that.
Steeling himself for the inevitable confrontation, he turned and met her eyes.
"What is it, Rose?" he asked, and in his voice was a hint of resignation.
"Nothin'." Rose replied, turning her eyes away from his.
"It's not 'nothing,' you've been watching me for most of the evening like you've wanted to say something. So, say it."
"You have freckles."
He blinked. That was not what he had been expecting to hear, and in turn he felt somewhat flustered. "Er, yes?"
"I'm sorry, I jus'...I keep..." Rose swallowed, shuffling her feet somewhat guiltily. While she could search for her Doctor while he was unaware, now, that she was caught, she could hardly tell him so. The pain was still too fresh, still too near, for both of them.
"You keep looking for the old me." The Doctor summarised, hiding his hurt behind hooded eyes.
"Rose," he began, running his hand through his hair, "I'm sorry. But, this is me now. I'm him, but I'm also me. Can you understand that?"
"I...I'm trying. But, I just miss him, you know? But that's silly because you're right here. How can I miss you when you're right here, Doctor?" Rose shook her head, attempting to hold back the sting of tears.
A rustle of cloth was the only sound he made in his movement to cross to her side. Despite his suspicion that she might resist, he could not bear the sadness in her voice without attempting to remedy it. "Rose," he began, looking intently at her, "Can I hug you?"
Mutely, she nodded and she sighed as she felt his arms wrap around her - giving and taking comfort at the same time. She put her arms around him, and in that moment she gave into the grief. Tears poured freely down her cheeks as she buried her face in his jacket and for a timeless moment he was holding her - her Doctor.
"It'll be okay, Rose," she heard a Northern accent whisper into her ear, "I'm here."
And he was.
In three words I can sum up everything I've learned about life: It goes on.
- Robert Frost
Time passed and the Doctor no longer was a stranger in a pin striped suit but a friend. There was no hesitation when she followed him into danger, nor did she stare at him in an attempt to see the man that he once was. She saw him and that was enough for them both. A fond smile crossed her lips as they paused to catch their breath. Their lives had, once again, returned to the standard of a death defying adventure before lunch, an afternoon of defeating a megalomaniac, and a quiet dinner in the TARDIS. It was normal. Or, rather, her version of normal and she would have it no other way.
"Ready?" The Doctor asked, a large grin on his face as he held out his hand. The sound of pounding feet behind them only spurred the need to hurry, but somehow Rose knew that to the Doctor they had all the time in the world.
Rose immediately took his hand and returned his smile. "Always." His grin widened impossibly as they took off again, hand-in-hand as ever.
The city turned to the countryside, all without her being aware of much else other than the rush of blood, the scream of the wind in her ears, and the feel of his hand within hers. Their pursuers still followed them, and she heard the Doctor mutter an alien curse beneath his breath as he turned towards one of the large outcroppings of rocks that were scattered across the landscape.
The Doctor dodged around the rocks, weaving through spaces that were barely wide enough for his lanky form to slip through. He had to drop Rose's hand when movement side by side was no longer an option. The sounds of pursuit began to lessen the further they moved into the outcropping, but the Time Lord was unwilling to slow in case their enemies found their path. With Rose close behind, he climbed, crawled, and weaved through the rocks in an attempt to muddle their trail enough that their pursuers could not follow.
He was far more intent on losing their enemies than he was on his footing, and that almost proved to be a fatal mistake. The first sign that something was wrong was when he felt his footing loosen in a avalanche of pebbles and dirt. The second sign was his sudden introduction to freefall.
"Doctor!" Rose screamed, her hand outstretched in a desperate attempt to grab the Time Lord before he fell off the edge of the cliff.
The Doctor tried to find some purchase on the rocky surface, his hands and feet perilously attempting to jam themselves in crevases far too small for either. "Rose!" he cried, his hand reaching for hers in one last bid for rescue.
Their fingers touched, grasping, reaching, stretching, slipping, grabbing, stopping. The Doctor was held in place only through the warm grasp of Rose's hand. "I've got you," she assured him, bracing herself against a rock in an attempt to pull him back to safety.
He smiled, his muscles straining as he forced himself back up the side of the cliff to collapse gratefully onto the ground. "That was a close one."
"Don't do that to me again." Rose told him firmly, her eyes bright with unshed tears. "I can't lose you, too."
"Never." He stood and gathered her into his arms, this time without asking. "I'm still here, Rose."
"For how long?" she asked, her heart pounding within her ears as she played back the moment that he had slipped off the edge within her mind. She was not strong enough to live through the loss of another Doctor. A Doctor, she suddenly realised, that she now thought of as 'hers.'
"Forever," he boldly promised, despite not knowing what adventures or tragedies might befall them in the days, weeks, months, or years to come.
Her arms tightened around him due to his words, and she felt herself smiling. "I'll hold you to that."
The Doctor grinned, pressing a gentle kiss against her forehead before murmuring, "Sounds like we've lost our friends. What do you say about heading home?"
Rose pulled away from him enough to look into his eyes. With a wide grin, she replied, "I'd say...fantastic."
There is no remedy for love but to love more.
- Henry David Thoreau
When did friendship turn to love? When had she begun to desire this Doctor as much as she had the last? These questions plagued her, yet she could no more answer them than she could solve the meaning of life. It seemed as if it had always been, always would be. She loved the Doctor, no matter his incarnation. No matter his dress sense, whether he was tall or short, had hair or did not, had blue eyes or brown. None of that mattered. It was all surface covering of the man he was underneath. She loved him. Yet she held back. She did not know if this Doctor cared for her more than her just being a companion, more than her just being a friend. There were times when she suspected he did, times when his deep brown eyes seemed to call out for her. However, those times were overshadowed by his other actions, those other times when he flirted with someone else, when he seemed to ignore her. Rose's head spun with thoughts, her confused emotions battling within her for dominance in a cacaphony of sensation.
When he spoke, his voice startled her out of her thoughts. "Want to talk about it?"
"Hmmm...wha?" she asked, blinking as she attempted to understand what he had just asked.
"Talk? You know, I get us a cuppa, some scones, we sit in front of the fireplace in the library and you tell me what's been bothering you." He summarised with his now customary smile.
"Nothing's been botherin' me," she protested, though her words sounded weak even to her own ears.
He laughed. "Rose, that's not going to work. So, go over to the library while I fetch us tea."
Knowing the futility of arguing with him, especially when he suggested tea, she nodded. "I'll see you there."
The Doctor squeezed her shoulder as he passed her by, his hand lingering for a moment before he continued on his way to the kitchen. Sparing him a fond glance, she turned in the opposite direction towards the library. This version of the Doctor loved spending time amongst the books, though his tastes tended to run along more eclectic lines. When she entered the library, the seventh of the Harry Potter novels lay open on the reading table, a bookmark resting haphazardly between its pages.
Shaking her head, Rose shut the book and settled into one of the overstuffed chairs in front of the fireplace. She stared into the flames of the eternal fire, her expression distant. She never heard the Doctor shuffle inside the library, pushing a cart loaded with scones, pastries, and a steaming pot of tea. Nor did she hear him push the cart next to her or pour the tea. The first thing that she did notice was when a steaming mug was held before her.
"Cuppa?" The Doctor asked, releasing his grip on the cup when she took it. Their fingers brushed for an instant and he smiled as he claimed his own mug and settled onto the chair next to hers. After he had judged the silence to have stretched long enough for her to have enjoyed most of her tea and scones, he turned towards her with a questioning glance.
"Right," Rose began, her eye downcast, "You want to know what's been bothering me."
The Doctor's eyes widened at her expression, and he touched her hand gently, "Rose? What is it?" For a tragic moment, his hearts pounded in fear - he wondered if this was it. If this was to be the moment where she decided that she had had enough of their life together, that Rose Tyler wanted to go home. A twinge of desperation washed through him at the thought, he couldn't lose her. Not again. Not now.
She turned her hand underneath his own, weaving her fingers through his. She remained silent for a moment, chewing upon her lower lip before reaching a mental decision to move forward. "Doctor, can I ask you a question?"
"Of course." There was no hesitation in his response, and she smiled.
"Doctor, I...I was wondering how you felt. About me." The words escaped her lips in a rush, her cheeks bright red as she all but mumbled the last word. He was silent for a long time, and Rose's fear grew as she wondered if she had read him wrong. Maybe he did not love her. Maybe...
The Time Lord's mind was awhirl with thoughts and emotions as over nine hundred years worth of memory collided within his brain. She could hardly mean what he thought, no hoped, she did. It was impossible, improbable, inconceivable. How could he reply? How could he tell her that he loved her when he still thought she was in love with his ninth self? He suddenly came to the realisation that with his silence, he might be implying that he felt otherwise. Rose's breath hitched in her throat when he turned to look at her, and he blinked away reflexive tears at the sight. He could not hurt her, he never could. The truth was the only way.
The Doctor's expression grew determined as he set down his mug. With a rustle of cloth, he moved and knelt before her. "Rose, look at me," he commanded, and when she did not comply he gently pushed up her chin, letting his hand linger on her soft flesh before pulling away.
Her eyes were bright with unshed tears, her lips parted slightly as she boldly met his gaze.
"If I'm wrong," he murmured, swallowing after the words in a nervous gesture, "Tell me." Without bothering to explain further, the Doctor leaned in, barely brushing his lips against hers. When he pulled away, he searched her eyes for an indication of whether he had interpreted her correctly.
Rose's expression was dumbfounded as one hand reached upwards to touch her lips. He had kissed her. Of all the thoughts that had tumbled through her brain, it was dominant. The Doctor, her Doctor, had kissed her. Her lips tingled from the remembered kiss - a kiss that was tentative, loving, and electric at the same time. He had found the perfect response, yet she had no idea how to reply. He had kissed her.
"Rose?" he asked, suddenly fearing the worse. He had misunderstood her, and he made to pull away but Rose's hand tightened upon his own.
"No," she assured him, "You're not wrong." With those words, she pulled the Doctor's unresisting form into a hug, burying her face into his shoulder. "I love you," the words were spoken softly, involuntarily, into his neck.
His hearts skipped a beat at her words, but he had to know. He had to know for certain that she was not confessing her love for his previous incarnation, if she was in love with the memory of the man that he once was rather than as he was now. "You love me?" the words were incredulous.
"Yes," she laughed quietly, hearing the doubt in his voice. "It doesn't matter to me if you're going to regenerate into a wild haired, big toothed, big eyed, poor dresser. I love you, Doctor. The rest? It's just a covering."
The Doctor smiled as he tilted her chin with his hand, his thumb caressing her cheek. He searched her eyes for a moment before pressing his lips against hers in another kiss. When he finally pulled away, though their lips still barely touched, they both were breathless. "I love you," he murmured, finally giving voice to the emotions that ran rampant through his hearts.
"Good, 'cause I don't do this with just any bloke." Rose grinned, tracing his features with her free hand.
"Hmmm, glad to hear it. Come 'ere," he invited, tugging at her hand as he moved closer to the fire.
With a soft laugh, she followed him, curling into his side once the Doctor had settled himself into a comfortable position by the fire. His arm wrapped around her automatically, and Rose released a soft contented sigh as she stretched her arm around his chest and hugged him to herself.
"You sure about this?" The Doctor asked, his hand tracing abstract patterns on her back. He was nervous, excited, and scared for this was one aspect of life in which he was unsure. He loved her, but he feared that he might stumble.
"'Course I am," Rose smiled, turning her head to press a kiss against his chin. "I've never been as sure 'bout anything in my life."
"Brilliant. Because I have no intention of letting you go."
"You won't have to."