The Doctor doesn’t quite know what to say. Or to do.
He doesn’t know what to think about the events that unfurled in front of his eyes in the last minutes.
Mind you, that’s a big one. Him not knowing what to do. Or what to think, for that matter.
The young woman lying prone in his arms, exhausted and unaware of the world around her, is Rose. Yet she isn’t his Rose. This Rose, not-his-Rose, is a far cry from the healthy-looking girl he sent out on a shopping excursion with Jack two hours ago. Not his rosy-cheeked, soft-curved, fresh-looking Rose Tyler. Loud and bright, jeopardy-friendly and curious, compassionate and loyal Rose.
The blonde woman with hollow cheeks and sunken eyes was Rose all right, just not his Rose.
And her left side was bleeding profusely. First things first, the Doctor needed to heal the nasty wound. Then he’d address the matter of checking her blood data and replenishing the liquids and nourishment not-his-Rose lost.
He doesn’t want to think about where and how she lost them.
The small surgery was successful only because the Doctor had bags of synthetic blood compatible with Rose’s blood type and anaesthetic mild enough not to knock Rose out for several days.
She’ll still be slightly sluggish and loopy but it is better than making her unconscious for three days in a row. He’s monitoring her blood pressure as he closes the wound with a dermal regenerator. It’s unlikely that Rose will go into shock and there’s no way the Doctor won’t be able to treat it but he’d rather not let Rose go through a stressful event like that. Not in her condition. Not ever.
The blood tests show astonishingly low levels of blood sugar, 25OH Vitamin D and iron. The skin turgor informs him about a prominent case of dehydration. The IV he started twenty minutes ago should help with that, and the Tardis’s medicine-producing device will create the pills that will sort out the microelements in blood problems.
The Doctor doesn’t want to admit that he is scared of what not-his-Rose has been through. Where she’s been. What she had to do and what was done to her. He is scared of the small device embedded into the base of her neck, he is terrified of the giant gun that he had to take off Rose’s limp body hours ago.
The Doctor knows he can scan the gun and learn about its origin and purpose but he also knows that he’ll have to forget about it to preserve the timelines. He is trembling in fear of giving into the temptation (again) of preventing whatever happened/will happen/is happening to not-his-Rose, of changing the timelines, of not forgetting this encounter, of locking this Rose up on the Tardis to keep her safe, to take care of her tired body.
And her exhausted soul. There was no way the Doctor will ever forget the dead look in Rose’s eyes mere seconds before her gaze landed on him.
The machine that prepares medicine emits a deafening “ding!” and the Doctor is pulled from his musings sharply. A double dose of three pills should settle the problem of iron and D3 deficiency nicely and a nutritious dinner with lots of sugary and milky tea will deal with the low sugar levels.
It seems that he is not the only one who was pulled out of dreaming state by the machine.
“Ow…,” the Doctor’s breath hitches. Even her voice is different now. “Ow!”
He plasters on the best “Everything is fine" smile and turns to face her.
Rose’s eyes are as wide as saucers. She puffs her cheeks and blows air through her lips, licking them afterwards. “Not a dream, then,” she mutters incredulously as she stares at him.
It’s a stare he’s all too willing to be the object of.
The Doctor always knew that Rose carried a little crush on him. He couldn’t fathom why, though. Why him of all the people they met? Surely, she must have had a misplaced sense of gratitude that went the wrong way. Rose was apprehensive the first few trips, expecting him to ask something in return for hiring her as his travelling companion. Her 21st century worldview slap bang in the era of capitalism and "nothing-is-ever-free" stopped her from believing that the Doctor wouldn’t ask for something for showing her the Universe (although he remembered specifically saying “free of charge” when he invited Rose for the first time).
Humans and their lack of faith in all things good.
The Doctor comes closer to the bed where Rose lies and uses the control panel on it to lift Rose into a seating position. The young woman stares through squinted eyes on the catheter in her arm and her other hand itches closer to where the wound was.
He catches her hand and squeezes it gently between both of his.
The Doctor doesn’t expect the words that come tumbling from Rose’s lips.
“I’ve always loved your hands, Doctor...so manly, so big and never harmful. You were always so careful...like I was made of glass...yet I wanted nothing more than to feel those hands on my body, you know? Those callous mechanic’s hands, so rough-looking yet so gentle…,” her voice trails dreamily as she comes to stop, continuing caressing his palms with the tip of her fingers.
Her inhibitions are lowered and she’s tongue-loose.
He blames the anaesthetic.
She relishes the opportunity to confess her feelings (only the tiniest part of them, however) and not to take responsibility for revealing too much.
Her Doctor. Her blue-eyed, sad as the Moon, lonely two-hearted hero.
The one she nearly died to protect. The one who died to protect her in return.
Rose had never quite gotten over the events on the Game Station even though she loved her New New Doctor tenderly.
The Doctor clears the throat and offers her several pink-coloured pills and a glass of something sparkling. Rose huffs a laugh, smiling brightly.
“No matter how old Rose Tyler is, her love for all things pink will never disappear. Am I right, Rose?” he quips, so happy at his own idea.
She swallows the tears and the pills and tries her best not to embarrass him by looking into his electric blue eyes constantly.
He cooks her a hearty meal, not allowing her to lift a single finger and watches like a hawk when she’s eating. He plies her with awfully sweet tea and rolls his eyes when she refuses to add milk into it.
They don’t talk about other things that changed about her. What changed about them. Why she’s alone. Why she was hurt and most importantly why she was carrying a big fat gun on her shoulder. Rose notices him trying to ask those questions several times but puts a hand onto his elbow and shakes her head, sucking her lips in. “It’s safer for the timelines,” she says.
He hates seeing her in pain. Hates her being on her own.
He knows how vast the Universe is when you’ve got no one to share it with.
She smiles ruefully, gently tracing the lines on his face with her right arm.
Rose surprises them both when she kisses his eyelids and lips and murmurs, “I gotta go”. She is unsurprised, however, when the Doctor encompasses her in a crushing hug, refusing to let go.
Oh how the tables have turned.
Rose flicks his ear and he yelps indignantly before helping her heft the gun onto her shoulder, shushing his questions. The Doctor pushes the bright pink pills into her pocket and instructs her to take them with the next meal.
She kisses him, hard, on the lips. Dazed and astonished, he yields to the pressure of her cool lips on his.
Misty-eyed and with a silly grin on his face, the Doctor promises Rose to hide away the memories of their encounter until the right time comes.
He forgets the last several hours and the encounter with not-his-Rose completely the moment she vanishes into thin air, blowing him a goodbye kiss.
2005 Rose knows not why but the Doctor is super attentive and craves her company something fierce when she returns from a shopping trip with Jack. She shrugs, blames the “Captain Jealousy” and enjoys the Doctor’s undiluted care and warmth that night.