Rose noticed the loss too late.
“Oh no!” she exclaimed while frantically patting the car seat in search of a missing item. The Doctor looked at her worriedly from the driving seat.
“Rose, is something the matter?”
She rummaged through her beach bag desperately, shaking the towels and splattering the floor of the car with the items from their beach trip. Yellow flip flops flew to the back seat, the sun hat fell on the rubber mat beneath her feet, her sunglasses were tangled in the handle of the bag. Sand grains littered all available surfaces. Several beautiful seashells dropped on Rose’s knees when she pulled out a bottle of sunscreen and her wallet out.
The Doctor was growing worried by the moment. Rose never ignored him if it wasn’t for something serious. “Rose, what’s going on?”
His wife turned to look at him. One look at her wobbling lower lip was enough for him to understand that Rose was mere moments away from bursting into tears.
The Doctor pulled the car on the side of the road and unlocked the seatbelt, turning fully to Rose. She was staring at the bottom of her now empty beach bag, looking small and shattered and oh so young. He lifted his arm to put her blonde locks behind her ear to see her face better. Rose’s skin was pinkened from spending much time in the sunlight, her hair wavy from salty ocean water and bright yellow in the light of the evening sun. Her eyes, usually warm and expressive, were dulled by gathering tears.
He took her palm in his hands and squeezed it gently. Rose took in a deep breath shakily and whispered
“I lost my wedding ring”.
The Doctor stared silently. When Rose realised that her husband didn’t comment after a minute of tense waiting she dared to peek at him from the corner of her eye.
She was surprised to see him nearly laughing.
Rose immediately felt her hackles rising. Just what was this stupid half-alien laughing at?!
The Doctor honestly tried to hold the bubbling giggles that were threatening to break his wife’s fragile emotions but gave up and burst into laughing.
Rose adored the sound of his happiness. It was such a joyous experience to see the Doctor genuinely happy. Yet right at that moment Rose wasn’t sharing his good mood because it seemed that her husband’s good mood was at her expense.
She stared at him through narrowed eyes coldly. She’d show him laughing time.
The Doctor had finally noticed his wife’s angry pose and tried to calm down. Few spluttering laughs escaped his lips anyway and it added to Rose’s growing aggravation.
“Rose, is that the reason you were about to drown us both in the sea of your tears this fine evening? Certainly you wouldn’t be so shattered by such a small misfortune. I’ll buy you seven new wedding bands, how about that? Each for a weekday. Silver for Monday, platinum for Tuesday, pink gold for Wed...what is it, Rose? Did something else happen to you while I was buying us drinks?” the Doctor added nervously just as he saw Rose’s eyes get misty with tears again. She sniffed and tried to wipe the tears from her sunburnt cheeks. The Doctor unclasped Rose’s seatbelt, put her empty bag on the floor, swept the contents on his wife’s lap into said bag and maneuvered her to his lap. Rose went willingly although she refused to meet his eyes and kept fiddling with her engagement ring. He gifted that ring to her two years after saying goodbye to her home universe for the last time. It was a slim silver band with a small tourmaline kept in a thin silver netting. Pink and glowing, just like his wife. The Doctor made the engagement ring himself. The wedding bands, however, were a gift from Jackie and Pete, although the Doctor customised the rings by engraving their vows in circular Gallifreyan on the inside of platinum bands.
He honestly couldn’t understand why Rose seemed destroyed by the loss of a wedding ring. It was nothing, right? Just a simple symbol of their belonging to each other. Not that they needed any symbols to let everyone around them know that they were an item. The Doctor and Rose Tyler. John Smith and Rose Tyler-Smith.
Rose couldn’t give up her surname because it was one of the few things that belonged to her from the original universe. She couldn’t reject the Doctor’s acquired name also, therefore, Rose sported a hyphenated surname in her ID.
However, the state of his wife of three years at that moment assured him that losing the wedding ring was a pretty big deal to Rose.
She confirmed his thoughts. “It won’t be the same one, Doctor. It’ll be a different one,” Rose whispered brokenly.
The Doctor sighed and cupped Rose’s cheeks tenderly and turned her face towards his own. He trailed the tips of his fingers across her round face, enjoying the warmth. Rose put on weight sometime around their first anniversary and the Doctor couldn’t be happier to see his precious life companion healthy and content. The horrors of travelling through the Void melted with each pound she gained back after stressful life in search of him.
“Rose, it’s just a ring. I’ll make you a new one, a thousand times better than the one lost, I promise. You’ll choose the design yourself. Don’t worry about it so much, please,” the Doctor murmured, patting Rose’s hair in a placating manner. He then hugged her tightly and squeezed until he heard her snicker into his shoulder. It was their favourite ritual: to hug one another tightly until one of them giggled and to kiss after the first laugh. That’s exactly what the Doctor did after relaxing his grip on Rose’s frame. He kissed her. Warmly, reassuringly, a little tiredly after a day in the sun and playing volleyball and swimming. Rose replied eagerly if a little uncertain, she still was grieving an important token of their bond.
The Doctor smiled goofily at Rose and saw one corner of her mouth lift in tentative reply. He kissed both of her cheeks, helped her on the passenger seat again and then proceeded to assist her in collecting the scattered items into her bag again. He put on her heart-shaped sunglasses and turned on the engine accompanied by the sound of her giggling.
Rose is sitting on his lap again two days later admiring his delicate work on the new wedding band. This one is the exact same copy from the store where the Tylers bought the original wedding rings, only the engraving is slightly different now. It says “My forever is yours, never to be lost”. The Doctor’s ring echoes the words after a small adjustment.
It’s a minor token of their love yet it means the world to his Rose. A touchstone. A symbol of hope and new beginnings. A second chance she wasn’t expecting. Forever shared by the two of them for as long as possible. A promise to never be without the other. Two hearts destined to beat in unison time after time, universe after universe, always together, never to be parted again.