The Doctor was not one to become easily unnerved. Over the centuries, he’d faced many of the worst species in creation, experienced war and the depravities that most would be unable to fathom. But there was one exception to his composed nature, and it was when it came to a very particular topic–Rose Tyler. His pink and yellow human unknowingly had the ability to terrify him. The emotions and feelings she stirred within him were unlike anything he’d ever experienced, and he’d experienced multitudes in his very long lifetime.
Normally she was a source of life and light, always ready with a smile or her tongue in teeth grin, something that he’d come to realize was mostly for him. But right now, there was something not quite right about her. Rose was subdued, quiet–almost reflective. It had been three days since the events of France and his brilliant girl was not shining so bright. Though it wasn’t really part of her nature, Rose was still female and as such, the Doctor had in some part expected her to say something about what had transpired unintentionally with Reinette. Expected questions. Expected resentment. Expected… something. But she defied his expectations and remained unnaturally silent. He loathed it. He’d rather she shout and rant at him, even preferring a slap compared to her current behavior.
Rose wasn’t ignoring him per se, but their usual banter and easy conversation was no longer flowing. She answered him kindly when he spoke to her, however, that was as far as it went. Instead, she had taken to choosing various locations on the TARDIS to sit quietly and sketch. It was a trait the Doctor had observed early in their traveling together. Whenever something was weighing on her mind or she needed to process troubling events, he would often find her cuddled up somewhere within the TARDIS, quietly sketching. Though he pestered her to the point of madness, Rose held firm and kept her work hidden. Realizing that she was otherwise an open book to him, the Doctor came to respect (albeit a tad begrudgingly) that this was one thing she needed to keep for herself and herself alone, no matter how eaten up he was with curiosity.
It was during that particular musing that the Doctor came up with a plan to entice Rose Tyler to return to her usual self. If Rose needed artwork, he would show her artwork. A long absent grin appeared on his face at the brilliance of his plan and the prospect of Rose being Rose once again. The perfect planet came to mind, and he eagerly inputted the location into the TARDIS. Without hesitation, he began wildly throwing levers and pressing bits and bobs as he piloted them to their destination.
From her place on the grassy plain within the TARDIS’ garden, Rose lifted her head from her sketchbook and furrowed her brow. Something was different. They were no longer drifting about in the Vortex, something she knew with a certainty; it was one of several lingering effects of Bad Wolf that she was slowly discovering. With this realization in mind, Rose stood and exited the garden, sure that the TARDIS would keep the room hidden so the Doctor wouldn’t be able to stumble across her sketches. Since recent… “events”…the TARDIS had been treating her with even more consideration, almost as if She was comforting her. Rose always sent many a loving mental thank you to the magnificent ship for Her repeated kindness.
Deciding to find out what was happening (since the Doctor had obviously decided to keep the plan to himself), Rose purposefully made her way through the corridors and towards the Console Room. On coming across the Media Room, she popped her head in, wagering that Mickey would be in there frolicking about. Briefly looking around, she saw him completely enraptured with the ridiculously large television screen the TARDIS had provided him and what was almost an endless supply of games from various planets. It made no matter to Mickey where they originated; games were games, and since he’d bested all the ones known to him, he was eager to have a new challenge.
Still remaining in the doorway, Rose called out to him. “Mickey, do y’know what the Doctor’s up to?”
“Whatcha mean?” he asked, his eyes still fixed on the screen.
“I’m pretty sure we’ve landed. Did he say anythin’ about where we were headed or whatnot?”
“Didn’t say anythin’ to me, but then again I’ve been stayin’ clear of ‘im. If I’m not around ‘im, then I don’t have the urge to wring his skinny neck,” Mickey replied with a low growl.
Rose stifled the urge to retort. It wasn’t a conversation she wanted to have, at least not the type of conversation Mickey seemed intent on having. Though justifiably angry over he and Rose being left to fend for themselves for God only knows how long, Mickey seemed to want to rehash it over and over again. And while she was still struggling with her own feelings on the matter, Rose had no desire to spend hours on end bashing the Doctor and his thoughtless choices or the woman at the center of them. Honestly, what point was there to it?
Quietly sighing and ignoring his irritable tone, she answered back, “Want me to come get you when I find out?”
“No thanks. I’d rather stay here for a bit and blow off some steam, seeing as ya won’t lemme knock some bloody sense into that daft git you ca-...”
“Mickey…,” Rose warned, her tone conveying she wanted him to go no further.
Putting the game on pause, Mickey turned and looked at her, offering her a small yet genuine grin. “Just go have fun. Save some planet. Run for your lives. Do whatever it is ya do. I’ll be here when ya get back. ‘Sides, if you go with ‘im, I know you’ll come back,” he finished, turning his attention back to the screen before he could see Rose’s reaction.
Rose closed her eyes and silently sighed. Without another word, she turned on her heel and continued onward to the Console Room. As she entered, she saw the Doctor fluttering about in his usual manic manner, a brilliant grin overtaking his features. Rose couldn’t help but smile softly at the sight; whatever his plan, he was obviously bursting with excitement over it, and she was glad to see this familiar side of him begin to return. Taking a few more steps towards him and into the light, she cleared her throat.
“Care to tell the class ‘bout what’s happenin’?” she inquired with a small grin.
The Doctor jolted his head upright and gazed directly at her, his eyes brightening at the sight of her and that grin. Already his plan was working; that was the closest she’d been to teasing him in days. His grin widened exponentially as he realized this and he quickly answered her.
“What’s happening, Rose Tyler, is that we are going on a little daytrip. Just you and me. No Mickey for this one!”
“S’alright. Mickey doesn’t wanna go anywhere today. I already asked ‘im.”
“Really? Well, that’s perfect because this place isn’t for him. This place, Rose Tyler, is specifically for you. And it’s rather perfect, if I do say so myself. I thought, ‘what would Rose like?’…and then I thought, someplace nice. Someplace special. Someplace beautiful. Someplace extraordinary. Someplace-…”
“Doctor?” Rose interjected.
He raised his eyebrows at her. “Yes, Rose?”
“Round it up.”
“Oh, right. No more talking. Time for showing,” he said, bounding over to the TARDIS doors and waiting for her to join him.
Inwardly excited, though still uncertain about what exactly was happening, Rose smiled softly and walked over to the patiently waiting Doctor. The closer she got to him, the more brilliant his grin grew.
Putting his hands over the handles, he kept his excited gaze on her. “Welcome, Rose Tyler, to Obradealma,” he said, throwing the doors wide open.
As she took in the sight before her, Rose felt her eyes widen and jaw slack. Slowly, she made her way out of the TARDIS, all the while absorbing the scene around her. Surrounding her were the most magnificent works of art she’d ever seen, both in person and in books. The beauty around her was astounding. No two media seemed identical, something she had a difficult time comprehending considering the vastness of her surroundings. There were sculptures that were so realistic that Rose was just waiting for them to reach out and touch her; depictions of nature so detailed and lifelike, she was certain it was some sort of portal. It was almost overwhelming, and she was only vaguely aware that the Doctor had been talking to her the entire time.
“……can it, Rose? An entire planet that is nothing but works of art! One planetary gallery! No inhabitants of any kind. Weelll, except wildlife. But I don’t think little bunnies and squirrels constitute as inhabitants, at least not in the sense I’m talking about. Although, there is this one planet…did I ever tell you about Jaxaliptle? Nothing but rabbits! As far as the eye can see! It’s a bit crowded, though. They’ve tried to control the population…family planning and all that, but you know what they say ‘bout rabbits…”
The Doctor trailed off as he watched Rose soak in the sights at hand. It was the first time in days that he’d seen a spark in her eyes, and seeing it just made him realize how much he’d missed it. She took a few steps further into the gallery, her eyes flitting about the room. Grinning brilliantly, he walked up beside her and held out his hand, wiggling his fingers excitedly. However, for the first time, Rose’s hand did not immediately intertwine with his. In fact, she seemed not to notice him standing right next to her. There was an instant knot in the pit of his stomach and a surge of pain in his hearts. How could she not notice him? She always knew when he was near, their hands always instinctually seeking refuge with the other. But there he was, waiting, and she wasn’t even aware… How could she have forgotten about him when he was right there?
A bit pot/kettle, wouldn’t ya say, Doctor?
That sudden, unprovoked voice in his head caused a pang of guilt within him. Sniffing, he quickly turned his gaze away from Rose and absentmindedly looked around him, trying to convince himself that he was merely looking at the surrounding artwork. His eyes once again flitted towards Rose, and he realized that she was no longer beside him; instead, she was standing in front of some sort of abstract, clearly riveted.
Sniffing once more, he decided to peruse about the gallery. After all, Rose was clearly enjoying herself, which was all he wanted…right? Pulling out his sonic, the Doctor began his wander. Maybe if he was lucky, he’d find some trouble to fall into or some conspiracy to dismantle.
Hours later, bored and unfortunately finding not a lick of unrest anywhere, the Doctor was anxious rejoin Rose, feeling incomplete and at unease without her by his side. Searching through the various exhibits he was certain would’ve caught her interest, he was greatly disturbed to find no trace of her. Starting to fear that something had happened to her, the Doctor sprinted to towards the TARDIS, hoping he’d be able to lock onto her bio-signature. He was nearly to the ship when his heightened awareness caused him to catch sight of Rose, still standing in front of the same painting where he’d left her. He sighed in relief, but then furrowed his brow at the continued oddity of her behavior.
“Are you alright, Rose?” the Doctor inquired, walking up bedside her.
“’Course I am,” she answered, her contemplative gaze firmly fixated on the painting.
“Have you been here the whole time?”
“Why?” He was utterly confounded. His brows practically met in the middle and he cocked his head to the side, trying his hardest to understand just what in the cosmos was going on with his Rose.
Rose turned to him, her expression unreadable for the first time. “Because I can see it.”
Unable to stop himself, the Doctor rolled his eyes. “Well of course you can see it, Rose. What are you on about? I can see it. Everybody here can see it. Doesn’t explain why you’ve been standing here for hours staring at this solitary painting when there are literally countless others to look at!”
As he finished, Rose’s eyes softened and a small smile tugged at the corners of her lips. “Doctor… what do you see?”
He jerked his head back slightly. “What?”
“What do you see?”
“What does that matter?”
Her smile still in place, she took a step closer to him. “Doctor, just tell me what ya see… Please?”
Sighing, though without the normal theatrics, he reluctantly turned his gaze from Rose to the abstract with which she was so entranced. Before him hung a medium sized canvas. The edges were weaved intricately with various bright hues, ranging from pastel to neon and all commanding attention as they seeped towards the center. These then morphed into darker pigments, creating a somewhat ombre effect. The hues within this section were clearly morose–jagged and rough strokes of blacks, blues, purples, and highlighted with dark crimsons, tendrils of which attempted to breach the light entirely. The outlining bright colors did a fairly effective job of distracting from the darkness within, but it wasn’t enough to hide it completely. All of this orbited a small yet bright center. It was nearly strangled by the almost overwhelming intensity of the darkness surrounding it; yet it held strong, refusing to be extinguished.
Something about it resonated within the Doctor, and he averted his eyes as he nervously cleared his throat.
“Weelll, I guess it’s what you’d call aesthetically pleasing, but I, uh…I don’t really see anything more.”
There was a brief pause before Rose replied. “You’re lying.”
The Doctor’s eyes flew over to meet hers at not only her words but the firm and irrefutable tone with which she uttered them, and his jaw slacked ever so slightly. He was unable to readily recall a time when she had actually come out and accused him of lying.
He started to deny her accusations. “I-I’m n-…”
Her eyes steeled and became pained as she held her hand up, halting him. “Just don’t… I’d rather ya just be all silent or change the subject than lie to me.” Turning in the direction of the TARDIS, Rose took a few steps forward before she stopped and looked back over at the Doctor, a weak smile upon her face. “Thank ya, though, for bringin’ me here. I really did enjoy it.”
The Doctor silently stared after her for a few seconds before taking off towards her.
“Rose,” he called out. “Rose, wait!”
Running into the TARDIS and haphazardly shutting the door behind him, he saw Rose standing in the middle of the Console Room, her back still turned to him.
“Rose, what’s wrong? I don’t understand what’s going on with you,” he said, his tone clearly lined with frustration.
With these words, she turned and looked at him, a sad smile upon her lips and hurt evident in her eyes.
He felt the tension begin to grow inside him and he furrowed his brow at her. “What’s that supposed to mean?”
Rose shook her head softly at him. “Don’t ask questions ya don’t want the answer to.”
“And what’s that supposed to mean?” he grumbled, stepping closer to her and crossing his arms.
“It means, Doctor, that I’m tired of playin’ this game. Of this dance. I’m not gonna just say I’m good when I’m obviously not. I’m not gonna smile and lie to myself or you ‘bout what’s right in front of us. It means if you ask somethin’, I’m gonna answer you honestly. No more word games.”
Feeling a flash of guilt that was then overshadowed by anger, the Doctor encroached further into her sphere.
“No word games, huh? What do you call what you’re doing now? You’re circling round and around something but won’t just come out and say it! You’ve been out of sorts ever since that bloody spaceship, hardly saying a word to anyone.”
Feeling anger begin to bubble in the pit of her stomach, Rose shortened the distance between them. “Do you hear y’self right now? That’s rather rich comin’ from you, Doctor. You come back almost completely altered, and yet I keep to myself for a few days and you give me grief? What would ya rather me do?”
The Doctor took a step back from her and sighed harshly, running a frustrated hand through his hair. He knew he’d opened this door, but he wasn’t ready to go through it. All he wanted was his Rose back, and somehow they had ended up here.
“What did ya expect me to say, Doctor? Did ya want me to scream and cry ‘bout ya leavin’ us… about leaving me? Want me to act all jealous? Expect me to badmouth Reinette ev’ry chance I could? Would that have made you happy?”
“Of course not!” he growled.
“Then what do you want?” she asked exasperatedly, hands outstretched.
“I want my Rose back!” he answered hotly, staring straight at her. His mind felt stunned as he realized what he’d just uttered, but it was too late to change it. What was said, was said.
He could see his frank openness had taken her aback, but she didn’t let it falter her. Instead, she maintained her gaze.
“And I want my Doctor back,” she replied calmly. “I’m not gonna lie to you an’ say that it didn’t hurt when ya took off without a second thought. That I didn’t feel angry or forgotten, ‘cause I did. But that wasn’t why I kept to myself for a bit.”
“Then what was it, Rose?”
She sighed, closing her eyes and running her hand through her hair. She’d said she was going to be honest and that’s exactly how she was going to proceed, whether it hurt her or not. Because in the end, wouldn’t it hurt more to look the other way? To pretend?
“When you came back that last time, something was different …I could see it. I know you were sad that she died. You saw her whole life pass and in no time at all, she was gone. I understand that; honestly, I do. I can’t fault you for that… and I don’t. What hurt was that somethin’ happened while you were over there… somethin’ that really shook you, an’ y-…”
“She saw inside my mind, Rose,” the Doctor interjected, deciding to give her a dose of that truth she wanted so badly. “One of the times I went through, I had to look through her memories. Try to figure out what was happening. And she somehow got through my defenses…she barely touched the surface, but Reinette…,” he sighed, “… No one’s been able to see me like that… Not even you, Rose.”
The sadness remained in her eyes, and she felt a twist in her heart. But despite that hurt, Rose maintained her stance. “I’ve never needed to, Doctor.”
The simplicity yet profoundness of her words took the Doctor completely off guard. “Rose…”
“Do y’know why I couldn’t turn away from that painting?”
The Doctor could only shake his head.
“Because when I saw it, I saw you… ya have this brightness, this life about you. But you also have this darkness hidden underneath all that. This pain, this guilt, the mistakes that y’think no one can see. You don’t want anyone to see it. But I can see it, Doctor. I see you. The good and the bad. I’ve been on the other side of a gun with you holdin’ the trigger. Seen ya face down the worst of creation and show mercy. I’ve seen your rage, even been at the brunt of it. I’ve heard ya scream out in fear and pain with nightmares ya thought I didn’t know about. Sat beside you and whispered in your ear till ya stopped thrashing around. I’ve see all of that with never once looking into your mind.”
On seeing his shock, Rose paused briefly, allowing her words to settle within him.
“Everythin’ you do, Doctor–every word, every action, every look tells me who you are. I see past all the showy display and rambles, to the heart of you, and I… I still…”
She trailed off and closed her eyes, willing every bit of courage within her to finish what she had started. She’d been completely forthcoming, held nothing from him; and what Rose was about to say was the one thing closest to her heart.
The Doctor felt his throat run dry and he swallowed harshly, terrified yet anxious for Rose to finish her sentence.
“You still what, Rose?”
On hearing his voice, Rose opened her eyes and captured his gaze.
“…and I still love you.”
Her declaration caused the Doctor’s hearts to beat madly against his chest, almost as if they were trying to burst forth. Rose Tyler, his brilliant girl, loved him! He’d wondered, he’d hoped, but now he knew it for a certainty.
“And that’s why it hurt, why I kept to myself. Because I realized when ya came back and could barely even look at me… you don’t see me. ‘Cause if ya did, you’d know that I’m right here. That no matter what happens I’ll always be here for you, Doctor. I’ll always see who you really are, and I’ll always love you…whether or not ya love me back. The man I see, the man I know, is worth at least that much.”
The Doctor could only stare at her, mouth agape, and clearly awestruck at her words. Finally he found his voice. “I can see you, Rose.”
Rose walked towards him, stopping just at arm’s length. “Then tell me, Doctor–what do you see?”
He opened his mouth to speak, but for the first time, he couldn’t form the words. His tongue refused to comply with his hearts. Rose continued to wait, giving him ample time to respond; but as the seconds continued to pass, she felt that twist once more, this one the most painful. Because even though she was trying to reconcile herself to the fact that he couldn’t truly see her, his inability to verbalize anything confirmed that heart-wrenching reality.
The pain in her eyes was evident as they suddenly glistened, but Rose refused to let it break her. Lifting her hand, she squeezed his arm. “S’alright, Doctor. I’ll be alright… it’ll take a bit, so just try an’ be patient, yeah?”
Without waiting for a reply, Rose offered him another smile and headed into the corridor. The Doctor’s feet refused to follow. His body’s repeated lack of participation was infuriating; even though he valiantly tried to move, he could only stand and watch as Rose’s figure disappeared.
Two hours had passed and the Doctor had taken to sequestering himself under the console. Like Rose, he needed an outlet and his was tinkering, something for which the TARDIS was not always thankful. However, She seemed to be in rare form, having shocked him for the tenth time.
“You know, it’s bad enough I’ve bollocksed things with Rose; I don’t need you to be all testy with me!”
The TARDIS retorted by sparking at both of his sides and shutting off the lights surrounding him. The Doctor yelped and grabbed for whatever tool was within reach, banging on several of the inner compressors in irritation. After a moment, he flopped his head back down onto the metal grating, absentmindedly staring upward.
“Y’know She hates it when ya do that, yeah?”
On hearing Rose’s voice, the Doctor jerked upright, crashing his forehead against a metal pipe. He muttered curses in multiple languages as he crawled out from under the console. As he stood, the Doctor was surprised to find that Rose was not in the room. He was certain she’d been there seeing as he could smell the vanilla of her shampoo lingering in the air. Yet she was nowhere in sight. With a long sigh, he turned back to the console and was immediately arrested by the appearance of a familiar object.
Taking a few steps forward, the Doctor carefully, almost reverently, picked up the worn leather volume. It was Rose’s sketchbook; he’d recognize it anywhere. He was shocked to see it out in the open. After all his persistence, Rose had never once caved in and showed him her work. The Doctor had been so curious that he’d even attempted to sweet talk the TARDIS into showing him. Her response had been to remove all jam, jellies, and marmalades from the galley for almost a week. So to see it on the console waiting for him was quite a shock. He knew without a doubt that Rose had left it for him.
Taking a deep breath, he opened the sketchbook. What he saw took his breath away, and it wasn’t just because of the talent Rose possessed. No, what instantly captured his notice were the scenes Rose chose to immortalize on paper. They were of their various exploits; more to the point, they were of him in those different scenarios. There was one of him in his Ninth form, bracing himself against a conference table within Downing Street. He remembered everything about that moment with immaculate precision–the complete gut-wrenching terror at the thought of losing Rose, the dread of knowing what the right decision was but unable to give the order. And Rose had captured it to perfection. She… she had seen that, seen him. They’d barely spent any length of time together, and yet she had been able to see straight into his soul, to what he was feeling.
The sketches didn’t stop there. Rose had depicted nearly everything–the joined hands in a Cardiff cellar, the agony in his eyes during Utah, the sheer elation as he held young Jamie in his arms, the forgiveness in his expression as they took shelter within a church, the rage contorting his features as he pointed his sonic at “her”… on and on they went. The Doctor was utterly dumbfounded at what he had just seen. The truth of Rose’s words hit him full force–she had never needed to look within his mind to know who he was at the core. She saw it all, every aspect of him, and still she stayed.
Slumping onto the jump seat, the Doctor placed the book beside him and braced his head in his hands. Rose’s question reverberated through his mind.
What do you see?
That question was quite possibly the most terrifying one he’d ever been asked. Because for all his clever ramblings and turn of phrases, the Doctor could not bring himself to utter a single one of them. He just couldn’t do it. Not to Rose. Not when it came to that question. Because his answer…
He stood up and vigorously rubbed his face before beginning his search for Rose. She’d asked a question, and it was about time he finally answered her.
Rose sat silently on the sofa with her knees curled up to her chest, the firelight casting its shadows about the darkened library. She wasn’t sure how long she’d sat there, mindlessly staring into the fire. Mickey had checked on her not too long after her emotional confrontation with the Doctor. Thankfully, he hadn’t pressed her for details and acquiesced when she’d asked for time alone. It wasn’t long after Rose had taken sanctuary within the library before she came to a decision and left her sketchbook on the console for the Doctor to find. By allowing him access to her sketches, Rose was trying to show him to the fullest degree the sincerity of her words, the depth of her feelings. It was the final part of herself that she had to offer, and she finally did so willingly, without hesitation.
Hot tears began to roll steadily down her cheeks. Rose had meant it when she said her view of him wasn’t contingent on his love. That didn’t mean that she didn’t want it, crave it… hope for it. But now she realized that-…
“You’re wrong, y’know.”
The Doctor’s unexpected voice caused Rose to whip her head around, and she found him standing at the doorway, staring intently at her.
She turned her head long enough to wipe her eyes, not wanting him to see her like that. Not after she’d been so strong. Her face now composed, she turned back to him.
The Doctor saw her tears and it tore at his hearts. Taking a deep yet quiet breath, he walked over and joined her on the sofa, staring at the floor as he attempted to gain his courage. That was not an easy feat considering they were encroaching upon a topic the Doctor had never known how to handle–his feelings.
“What you said earlier…’bout me not seeing you… You’re wrong.”
Rose shifted nervously in her seat. “We don’t have to talk ‘bout this anymore, Doctor. It’s-…”
“Yes we do, Rose!” he insisted, running a hand through his wild hair.
The firmness of his reply surprised her. The Doctor was actually insisting on talking? Her mind instantly and irrationally went to the extreme, and she began to fear that her confession of love was too much for him to handle. Forcing herself to take several silent, calming breaths, Rose held her tongue and let the Doctor continue. He continued to run his hand through his hair and he suddenly stood up, pacing back and forth.
“Rose Tyler, you…you are, without a doubt, the most frustratingly stubborn individual I’ve ever encountered in my entire life! And that’s saying something, Rose. I tell you to stay put and you do the complete opposite! The epitome of jeopardy friendly, you are. Sometimes you just completely ignore me, goes in one bloody ear and out the other! I try to keep you safe but you have none of it. It’s infuriating at times! Why can’t you just bloody listen when I say I know best?”
Rose could feel her blood start to heat with anger, and she fought the urge to snap at him. Was he just going to list what he found wrong with her? Was that all he saw when he looked at her?
She narrowed her eyes at him, valiantly containing her growing ire. “Ya finished yet?”
“Not even close,” he said, still unable to look at her directly.
On hearing his answer, Rose was on her feet. “Listen, just ‘cause I said I wanted honesty, doesn’t mean ya can stand there an-…”
“You never back down. Not from danger and certainly not from me. Never once since I’ve met you! You challenge me, in almost every sense of the word. You’re fiercely loyal. You give all you have, every time, without a second thought.”
Courage somehow took over and the Doctor turned towards Rose’s still figure. Her eyes were wide and her arms were wrapped around her, as if she was trying to support her own weight. He was nearly overwhelmed by the sight of her standing there, beautiful and resilient. Miraculously his courage didn’t wane, and he pushed forward, now desperate for her to know every truth he’d been withholding.
“And your compassion? I’ve never seen anything like it. You’re always looking for the best in everyone you meet, even when they don’t deserve it. Your passion is inspiring. You feel everything so deeply, so completely that I’m amazed one little human is capable of possessing such ability.”
The Doctor stepped closer to her, his eyes dark and with brimming emotion. It was a look like none other, and Rose felt herself begin to tremble under its intensity.
The Doctor’s need to continue expressing himself was overwhelming.
“You’re incredibly beautiful. Quite literally the most beautiful creature I’ve ever seen. Your eyes are so expressive and so full of life. Sometimes when I trail off, it’s because I’ve completely lost myself in them.”
Rose was no longer able to keep rein over her emotions and her tears flowed freely. She craved to be closer to him but her body remained firmly rooted. The Doctor no longer had such an inhibition and he shortened the distance between them, stopping an arm’s length away.
“And your smile… I can actually feel its warmth. The whole universe can be in complete chaos, but the moment I see your smile, everything suddenly comes into focus. You… you brought light when all I saw was darkness. You gave me hope when I didn’t see a way out.”
The emotions raging within Rose threatened to consume her and she worried her bottom lip, attempting to maintain some semblance of control. Never in her wildest dreams could she have imagined the Doctor standing directly in front of her, his dark eyes boring into her and conveying absolute truth and sincerity. His words washed over her and she found it near impossible to breathe.
“Wh-… I…” Rose’s mouth opened and closed repeatedly but she remained unable to say anything else.
“I’ve always seen you, Rose. Always. I…” The Doctor moved another step closer to her. “I don’t have any justifiable excuse for all that happened with France…with Reinette. I wasn’t thinking about you…about me…about anything. I just ran… And when I-…”
His words immediately halted when Rose closed the distance between them and cupped his cheek, her eyes mirroring his in intensity.
“Just… tell me you’re sorry,” she said softly.
The Doctor was utterly transfixed on the woman standing before him. His mind instantly flashed with graphite images and vivid recollections of them sitting in a church, her words echoing his own.
“I'm sorry, Rose… I’m truly and completely sorry,” he said with quiet yet fierce sincerity.
They stood there silently gazing upon each other, their shallow breaths mingling. Looking at her intently, he saw complete unquestionable forgiveness. Rose was holding nothing back, and this time he was not running. He cupped the back of her head and pulled her to him, crashing his eager lips against her soft inviting ones. He fisted his hand in her hair as Rose ran her fingers through his. As the seconds passed, the intensity of the kiss deepened until Rose finally pulled away. She rested her head against chest, her lungs burning as she tried to regain her breath.
“Ask me again.”
Confused, Rose looked up and met the Doctor’s gaze. “What?”
He cupped her head in his hands and stroked her cheek gently. “Ask me again…”
Searching his eyes, Rose smiled as she finally understood his meaning.
“What do you see, Doctor?”
He captured her lips in a tender kiss before resting his forehead against hers. This time there was no fear or hesitation as he looked into her eyes and answered her with unwavering conviction.
“The love of my lives…”