Rose stood in her mum’s kitchen, leaning against the marble counter, clutching two bottles of water in her shaking hand.
That kitchen had been witness to many long, heartfelt talks in the years since she and her mum had first been stranded in this universe. Even as recently as last night, Jackie Tyler had stayed up into the wee hours pow-wowing with Rose over a bottomless cuppa.
Her mum always knew when she needed to talk, Rose thought with a fond smile. She’d stayed the same old Jackie Tyler from the Estate, her mum, even though she now had more money than she knew what to do with. And, oh, how Rose had needed those talks, that connection to home. She wouldn’t have traded those moments for anything.
But her mum wasn’t here now. She had left, with a reassuring hug, to have dinner with Tony and Pete, needing a moment to celebrate being reunited. Rose drew a deep breath and turned her attention back to the presence that dominated her thoughts and had been the major topic of the most recent kitchen talk: the part-human-part Time Lord currently digging in the Tyler pantry.
Rose had initially panicked at being alone with this new-new-new Doctor, not quite sure what to think of him (and, to be honest, still embarrassed about that kiss on the beach,) but her unease had faded as she watched him pace and launch into one of his Doctor-ish rambles about cause of the cooler air temperatures in this universe.
Now, with her stomach not in the tightest of knots anymore, she’d realized she was hungry and so very thirsty.
That’s what had led them to their present location.
Rose’s adrenaline was waning and she could feel that her blood sugar was low, but the Doctor had caught her eye when she’d turned from the fridge with the water.
He was still wearing the maroon tee, blue pinstripe trousers, and red Chucks. He’d lost the jacket earlier when he had been rolling around on the floor playing and laughing with Tony. The toddler had latched onto the hero from his big sister’s bedtime stories and hadn’t wanted to let go. Neither had the Doctor. Best mates for life, those two were.
Rose let out a breath when the Doctor stood on his tiptoes to reach something. His shirt had come untucked a bit, exposing a sliver of skin... toned skin. God, she’d almost forgotten how gorgeous he was. And had his suit always been that tight?
When she’d kissed him on the beach, her mind had been flooded with memories, memories of her time as Bad Wolf: everything that had been, everything that was, and everything that could be. All of the events leading up to the present had been predestined: Rose would have died from an alien illness if she had stayed with the full Time Lord, and he, having endured unimaginable guilt and grief, would have evolved into the mad man in the blue box, madder than he’d ever been. The Time Lord Victorious would have emerged, bending the Laws of Time to his will, the universe be damned.
So, Bad Wolf had said no.
And Rose found she couldn’t be upset about what she, as a goddess, had let come to pass.
But that didn’t mean this life with this Doctor would be easy. She knew what an emotional idiot the Doctor could be and, even though he had said he’d loved her on the beach, she couldn’t be sure he wouldn’t turn tail and run if it all became too much.
A boisterous whoop snatched her out of her ruminations.
“Rose! Is this banana jam?” Bouncing on his toes, the Doctor unscrewed the lid. Rose’s heart absolutely melted when he plunged two fingers of that hand into the jam and thrust them into his mouth. “Oh, brilliant! It is!”
Wide eyes met hers, his smile faltering. He slowly lowered his fingers and swallowed, looking so unsure and vulnerable, Rose had to ensure he knew how much she loved him.
Overcome with a thousand emotions, Rose tossed the waters over her shoulder and rushed over to him, wrapping her arms around his waist, squeezing.
“Whoa!” He exclaimed, returning the embrace. “Not that I will ever complain about an armful of Rose Tyler, but what’s this about, love?”
Rose smiled into his chest. Love. He’d called her love.
Without releasing her hold on him, she leaned back, studying his face. She could tell by the arch of his left eyebrow he was about to launch into another ramble, so she pressed her lips to his. She swooned at his hum of happiness but broke this kiss before he could deepen it.
“You’re still you.”
It wasn’t a question. It was a soft acknowledgement of the truth.
The Doctor gave her a small smile and tucked her hair behind her ear, fingers lingering on her neck.
“I’m still me.”
All her doubts about the Doctor pulling a runner evaporated. She could see it in his eyes, always had been able to, whether those eyes had been brown or blue, that he was her Doctor.
Rose delicately cupped his cheek. “My Doctor.”
Tears welled in their eyes, both of them understanding the importance of this moment.
Rose took a deep breath and spoke the powerful words once spoken to her. “How long are you going to stay with me?”
The Doctor let out a small laugh as he slid the hand that wasn’t wrapped around her waist into her hair. He pulled her closer until their lips were a hairsbreadth apart.