The Aftermath of Canary Wharf
She stood in the shower as the water cascaded around her. She wasn’t entirely sure how long she had been in there, the water temperature would never be anything but exactly how she’d like it. The dirt and dust from the day had long since ran down the drain, leaving no trace of what had happened on her physically.
But the scenes replayed in her head on loop.
“Mum, I've had a life with you for nineteen years.” Rose said to her mother, Jackie’s eyes still wide with anger, frustration, hurt. “But then I met the Doctor. And all the things I've seen him do for me, for you, for all of us. For the whole stupid planet and every planet out there. He does it alone, mum. But not anymore. 'Cause now he's got me.” She said, taking a step back from Jackie. Before she could say anything more, she felt something slip around her neck. She noted the button, turning over her shoulder to look up at the Doctor. “What're you-” He was gone a second later, and Torchwood looked drastically different. The parallel world. “Oh no you don't. He's not doing that to me again.” She said quietly, pressing that button around her neck without hesitation.
She didn’t think about the other people in the room. At that moment she was too angry, hurt, and desperate to get back to the Doctor that she didn’t take a breath to realize what she was doing.
And everything that followed happened so fast. Clinging on to the magnaclamp for dear life, watching the lever fall into the offline position, loosing her grip to get back on line. Her palms were sweaty as it was, and the fear that coursed through her as she righted the lever only made it worse. The suction was strong, the wind beat against her, and she lost her hold. She looked to the Doctor, taking in his features, wanting his face to be the last thing she saw even if it was filled with agonized terror as he screamed her name.
Pain echoed through the back of her head, causing her teeth to slam together in her mouth. The breath was knocked out of her from behind at the same moment, and the world spun for an instant as she tried to get her barrings. For a split second she wasn’t sure if she was in the void, or the parallel world, but when she saw the blur of brown and blue rush toward her she understood.
The void closed before she could fall in.
The Doctor’s arms wrapped around her tightly, crushing her against his strong, thin frame. Sheer relief came over her and she looped her arms around his midsection and squeezed back. She breathed him in, and she swore she heard him do the same before feeling his lips crushed to the top of her head. For the longest time they stayed there, clutching to one another and barely moving but to breathe, until fatigue started to settle in in her muscles. He took her by the hand, as he always did, and together they walked away from Torchwood.
The second they returned to the TARDIS, the Doctor sent them into the vortex, and Rose went to clean up.
It wasn’t until she was standing under the always warm water that everything started to sink in. She was home, but she wasn’t. She planned on forever with this Madman in the blue box, but forever was always dotted with visits home, seeing Jackie and making sure she was doing alright. Mickey had been in the other Universe for so long that thought of never seeing him again wasn’t all that alien, but to never see Jackie?
The last thing she said to her wasn’t goodbye, wasn’t even ‘I love you’, it was her looking at her mother and telling her she was happy to leave her behind. No, not happy, it wasn’t that crass. She knew deep down that her mother did see how much it hurt to say she wasn’t coming with her, but her words didn’t convey that.
The sob erupted before she realized it was coming. Loud and hard, it was quickly followed by another as her eyes stung. What must it have looked like to everyone as she sent herself back without so much as a farewell? Pete had already rejected her as his daughter more than once. She couldn’t imagine what he would be saying to her mum about her in her absence. Not that it mattered, not really, because what could he say to tarnish a bond that was made over twenty-one years and created by blood? Nothing, but that didn’t mean he couldn’t put salt on her mum’s already sore wounds. Rose left her in another universe without saying the things she should have.
Tears ran down her cheeks and mixed with the water, her cries loud as all the pain came crashing down on her in an instant.
The bathroom doorknob jiggled, proceeded by a knock. “Rose?” The Doctor said from the other side of the door before the knob jiggled again. “Rose, are you alright?”
The lights overhead flickered ever so slightly, and Rose gave the tiniest nod before she leaned against the tiled wall. The glass shower door frosted further, making the opening bathroom door look more like a blurred silhouette of color. She could hear his footsteps come closer, see his shadow on the other side. “Rose?”
“Didn’t say goodbye.” She managed. Out of the corner of her eye, the shadow against the door grew darker and more distinct as the Doctor pressed his cheek and palm against the door. Leaning against the spot, Rose wept, pressing her cheek where she thought his was, her hand against his. “Just didn’t think.” She said, her sobs quieting. “You were gonna leave me again, and I was so focused on making sure I got back to you that I forgot to say goodbye to her. Now the void is closed, and I’ll never see her again.”
It occurred to her in that moment that he could say “I told you so.” He warned her that she was leaving her mother behind, that she would indeed never see her again, and he seemed so agitated at first when she reaffirmed her decision to stay with him that he may still be now despite everything. Closing her eyes, she waited.
The Doctor inhaled sharply on the other side of the glass. “I’m sorry,” He whispered. “I’m so, so sorry.” His shadow disappeared from the other side of the glass. “I’ll give you some privacy.” He said, and a moment later the bathroom door opened and closed once again.
Scrubbing at her face with her fingers, Rose turned to the water, letting it hit her hard in the face as the last of the tears trickled down her face.
Once she was was dried and dressed, she walked out into the console room. The Doctor was studying the monitor with intensity, specks on, oblivious to anything around him. She made her step heavier, the grate echoing beneath her feet in the near silence, and he didn’t flinch. Hesitating, she came up beside him, glancing at the screen only to see Gallifreyan displayed. Her hand hovered over his shoulder a second before it finally made contact, causing him to whip around to look at her. His eyebrows shot up while his brow remained furrowed.
“Sorry,” She said quietly.
“What for?” He asked, studying her.
“Earlier.” She said, taking her hand back and twisting her fingers. “’S not like you didn’t warn me. Just kinda hit me, ‘s all.”
He smirked, but it was humourless. Pushing himself off the console, he turned his body toward her, resting his hands on her shoulders. “I’d be more concerned if you weren’t sad at all.” He said, another attempt at a smirk fluttering over his face before it fell and he became serious. “I can’t take you to her, but if you’ve changed your mind about staying with me, I’m sure you could ….”
“Do you not want me?” She asked, cutting him off.
“I want you here.” He said firmly, giving her shoulders a squeeze. “But if you feel you can’t stay.”
“I want to.” She said with a slight nod. “This is home, here with you in the TARDIS. ‘S just … I realized in there that you sent me away.”
“Only because I thought that’s what you would have wanted. Because I was sure this would happen and you would hate me.”
Rose shook her head. “I wouldn’t. I don’t.”
He nodded, reaching up a stroking her cheek. It was then she realized that tears were trickling down her face, and she collapsed against his chest. Not sobbing like in the shower, not even really crying, but the weight of grief settled around her shoulders even as his arms encircled her. Rose did not regret coming back to him, she only started to regret the way she did it.
He was oddly quiet over the last few weeks, not that she was all that talkative herself. Most of the time she sat on the jump seat and watched as he studied the monitor, typed a few commands into the scanner, occasionally making repairs on the TARDIS while mumbling to himself. The Doctor would glance over, flash her a smile, weak in the beginning but more lively as the days past. It was affecting her, making the pain of not saying goodbye lift a little more each day.
“We’ve been gone three days,” He said when that time had passed. “We can go back to the Estate, if you’d like. Give them a chance to see you survived.”
“What would be the point?” Rose asked. “’S not like I had anything there that could be replaced. ‘S not like I intend to go back.”
The Doctor nodded. “As long as you’re sure.”
Rose gave him a nod, a small smile seeping through when she realized there was relief in his eyes that he was doing his best to mask. It was probably the longest conversation the two of them had after Canary Wharf, and it was also the start of their physical closeness becoming re-established. He would take tea while sitting beside her, closer than he had in the few days before. It made her dare to lean against him again, especially during the rare moments she convinced him to take some time to watch a movie with her instead of focusing on whatever seemed to take over his time. And when Rose went to bed, he would follow her, laying down beside her though he was rarely ever there when she woke up the next morning.
So it didn’t startle Rose so much as take her aback when she woke to the Doctor’s weight shifting the mattress as he climbed on the bed beside her.
“Rose,” He said quietly, barely louder than a whisper as he gently shook her shoulder. “Rose.” He repeated, and she turned in her bed to look at him. It was still dark in her bedroom, the TARDIS humming in her mind as if aiding in the Doctor’s probes to stir her. Her door was open completely, light from the hallway allowing her to see the Doctor’s face. “I have a surprise for you, but you need to hurry.”
“’Kay,” Rose said, sitting up, rubbing sleep from her eyes.
“You may want to get dressed first,” He said as he got off the bed, allowing her to move with more ease now that the sheets weren’t pinned down on one side.
“Doctor, I’m not sure I’m ready for a trip.” She said as she ran a hand over her hair, her feet already swinging to the floor.
“It’s not a trip.” He said, pausing in her doorway. “Just hurry,” He added with a smile before disappearing.
Throwing on a pair of jeans and pink t-shirt, Rose headed toward the console room where she found the Doctor typing before looking up at her.
“Wha’s going on?” She asked as she came up beside him. He turned taking her hands in each of his, a weary smile causing the corners of his mouth to head toward his ears.
“I found a little gap in the Universe, just about to close,” He said, his fingers flexing a loosening around hers. “I have us orbiting a super nova, which will give us all the power we need to get a projection through for a few minutes. But that’s all we can do, and the time will be short.”
“Doctor, what’re you?” Rose asked, shaking her head in confusion.
“You can say goodbye.” He said with a ghost of a smile.
“Rose?” She turned toward the sound of her mother’s voice, glancing back to see the Doctor’s smile growing.
It became contagious, and she matched his despite the tears in her eyes. “Mum,” She turned toward her mother’s image, still clutching one of the Doctor’s hands as she wiped tears from her cheeks.
Jackie had her hands to her mouth, eyes damp. After a second she pulled her hands away. “Where are you?” She asked.
“On the TARDIS.” Rose replied.
“We’re only a projection.” The Doctor said. “Anything more than this would cause both Universes to collapse.”
“Is that why you look like ghosts?” Jackie asked, her voice shaking.
“Oh,” The Doctor said, and Rose watched as he reached into his jacket pocket and pull out his sonic screwdriver. He pointed it at the console, and as it whirred Jackie’s image came in clearer.
She instantly reached for Rose, and without thinking Rose reached back. Their hands fell through one another, and Jackie whimpered.
Rose swallowed, “So you’re settlin’ in then?” She asked, a quiver in her voice that she masked with a grin.
Jackie nods, sniffing. “Yeah, Pete and I, well, we’re ….” Jackie smiled sadly. “We’re expecting.”
Rose’s free hand went to her mouth, and it’s only then that her eyes shift to see Pete and Mickey a few feet away from Jackie, not coming in quite as clear but still visible.
“Three months gone,” Jackie continued. “Pete will finally get the family he wanted, and I ….” She trailed off, smiling. “I’ll tell’em all about their big sister.”
Rose smiled through the pain, a new ache forming in her chest for the one person she didn’t know she would miss. “Not much to tell’em ‘bout.”
Jackie shook her head. “No, sweetheart, there is so much. Big sister saved the world, she did. Both of them.” She sniffed, looking to the Doctor. “How long?”
“You have about two minutes left.” He said, and Rose tightened her grip on his hand.
Jackie nodded. “Then I have two minutes to tell you that you better take care of her. I mean it. No leavin’ her behind, or risking her being stranded on some alien planet. You’re all she has now so you better make sure she doesn’t end up alone.”
“I promise.” The Doctor nodded once.
Jackie nodded, turning to Rose, smiling weakly.
“I love you, mum.” She said, her voice cracking. “So much.”
“I love you too, sweetheart.” Jackie said, her voice stronger than her daughters. “Always. And I’m so proud of you.” She added.
Jackie’s image started to fade, and as it did the bravado her mother had forced on began to slip. Rose waved timidly, not stopping until the image of her mother was completely gone.
The Doctor pulled her toward him gently, cradling her head against his chest as she cried softly and held his shoulders.
“Thank you,” She whispered between sniffs. He kissed her forehead in reply, and it calmed her quickly.
She took a moment to listen to the steady beat of his two hearts, finding comfort in the familiar yet strange rhythm, breathing in his scent. Sweet and musky, with something a little bit like a strange spice to it. It’s safety, that scent, and now she realized it’s home.
Exhaling slowly, she opened her eyes, smiling slightly at the thought of what he’d done for her, why he’d been so quiet, the lengths he went to make her happy.
She blinked once, twice, only to see something suddenly appear at the front of the TARDIS. Standing a little straighter, she shifted to see it a little better.
It looked like a … woman. With red hair. In a wedding dress.
She felt the Doctor shift. “What?” He asked, confusion in his voice.
The woman turned sharply, eyes flitting between the two of them as she let out a small yelp.
“What?” The Doctor repeated, stepping away from Rose and toward the bride. Rose followed, staying behind him, observing.
“Who are you?” She asked, pointing between the two of them.
“Umm,” Rose managed, her mouth moving around words that wouldn’t come out.
“Where am I?” She asked, looking around the console room.
“What?” The Doctor repeated, and despite the situation, Rose cracked a grin.
“What the hell is this place?” The woman yelled, hands balling into fists at her side.
“What?!” The Doctor choked out.
said to herself. “This is new.”