Run With You

Human Nature pt 1

“Vortex!” The Doctor yelled, and Rose dashed to the console to get the ship off wherever they were. “Did they see you?” He asked Martha urgently.

“I don’t know,” She said, confused. “I was too busy running.”

“Martha, it’s important, did they see your face?” He asked with a thin veil of calm.

“They couldn’t have.” She said with certainty.

At that the Doctor dashed around to stand by Rose, looking at the monitor. A moment later, a warning chime came from the console, the old girl sent Rose a wave of surprised panic, and the Doctor curse. “They’re following us.”

“How can they do that? You’ve got a time machine!” Martha snapped in panic.

“Slow down,” Rose yelled. “Who’s following us, what’s going on?”

“A family that seeks out life forces to extend their own.” The Doctor explained quickly. “Theirs is likely on the way out, and they smelled me, a Time Lord.”

“With a very long life span.” She concurred.

“Yeah. And apparently they’ve stolen Time Agent technology by the looks of things. We’ll never be safe, they’ll follow us right across the Universe. Unless….” He trailed off, and when he turned she could see his heart was slowly breaking.

“Unless?” Martha asked.

“I stop being a Time Lord.”

John’s eyes shot open when his alarm blared obnoxiously by his ear. Groaning, he fumbled around until it was finally silenced. Sighing, he closed his eyes, flopping back on his pillow. That dream again, not one of the more pleasant ones he had on a regular basis, but one that still held some mystery to him. He always seemed to wake up at the same spot, and he really wanted to know what was going to come next.

The alarm blared again, and he growled, getting up this time and actually turning it off. Rubbing his eyes, he swung his legs off his bed, put on his glasses so he wouldn’t walk into a wall as he stumbled to the bathroom. In the shower he thought of Rose, both dream Rose and real Rose, though the former provided much more inspiration. Those were his favorite dreams, the ones where he was naked and sweaty with her, though he didn’t quite understand why she insisted on calling him ‘Doctor’ even in those ones. When he was a grand adventurer from another world, yeah, sure, ‘Doctor’ worked just fine. But in bed? He supposed it didn’t matter, just that he had a very good imagination in the way that he could picture her in such a way though he’d only really ever seen her in a Barista uniform.

After his shower, John walked around his bachelor flat naked and looked out at the rising sun through the large glass doors that led out to the balcony almost as big as the interior. It was a sweet deal, this place. Almost a month ago, just as he moved to town take up the position as a high school English teacher, the owner of the flat had to sublet it for a bit. Luck, John thought, had been on his side since deciding to cross the pond.

With a sigh of contentment, he went about getting dressed. He pulled on a fresh pair of pants, hopped around as he put on his favorite pair of gray denim jeans, falling on the bed as the garment made him stumble. Groaning, he launched himself back up, putting on a black t-shirt before the obligatory oxford. Business casual, ugh. He missed the days of being a student sometimes. At least the blue did well to contrast his eyes. Maybe she’d notice? Probably not, though. Doing his hair, making sure it was perfectly coiffed before he checked to see if he needed to shave (nope, not today), John looked at himself in the mirror. Not too bad, he supposed. Could be worse.

He left the bathroom and headed for the front door, grabbing his wallet and canvas messenger bag on the way. Popping on his favorite black trainers, he left for the day.

When he stepped outside he was glad he hadn’t worn a jacket. Summer seemed to be lingering into fall, and while it was the last week in September it was still above fifteen degrees in this quiet Canadian city.

John walked the couple blocks down the road toward the high school, his heart starting to hammer as he got closer. At the last moment, just as the two story building came into view, he turned the corner, heading one block over. He stopped on the corner, checking his reflection in the store front window of an office supplies shop, ensuring his hair was still acceptable, and his untucked oxford was straight before he continued into the next shop.

The scent of coffee hit his nose, and he inhaled deeply. Taking a deep breath, he headed to the counter and trying not to glance down the bar to see if she was there.

“Morning, handsome.” The petite red head behind the counter greeted him as she pulled a cup from the stack. “Usual?”

“Yep,” he said a little too loud, popping the ‘p’ and instantly feeling like a dweeb for it.

Red head smiled, wrote his name on the cup, and set it aside.

His heart caught in his throat as he glimpsed the gold bracelet on the wrist of the hand that grabbed the cup. He knew that bracelet because he stared at it for the first week he’d been coming here, before he was brave enough to make eye contact.

“Here’s your banana muffin,” Red said, exchanging the food for his credit card. “See you later, John.” She said as she handed back his plastic.

“See ya,” He managed to say, but was too busy trying to remain cool as he moved down to wait for his drink for further interaction.

“Morning, John,” Her London accent caught his attention, and he could feel his ears turn red as he looked up into her clear hazel eyes. Her smile, with her tongue between her teeth, made him grin like an idiot.

“Morning, Rose,” He managed to say without stuttering, an instant win in his books as far as he was concerned.

“And what are you teaching those lovely, bright minds today?” She asked as she went about preparing his drink without looking at what she was doing. Which always amazed him, how those graceful little hands seemed to have a mind of their own while she held his eye and made conversation.

“Starting ‘Much ado about nothing’ actually.” He said, leaning on the counter and almost stumbling as his elbow slipped. He immediately straightened up, adjusting his bag to have something to do with his hands.

“Shakespeare,” She said approvingly. “I always found his work hard to follow in school.”

“And now?” He asked.

She chuckled, shaking her head. “These days if I want to understand it, I do.” She said more to herself, but she met his eye again.

He didn’t know what to say to that, then again he didn’t know what to say to her in most cases. She was just so … there weren’t enough words in the English language.

“Yeah,” He said dumbly, his ears turning red when he realized how spaced out he sounded. “So, uh, what are you doing this weekend?” He asked, even though it was Tuesday.

She smiled a little wider, and his heart rate picked up. “Dunno,” She said with a casual shrug. “Probably just stay in, read a book. You?” She asked.

“Oh you know … just… the usual. I guess. Nothing … ah … special.” He stuttered as she slid him his drink. “Oh, yeah, thank you.” He said as he picked up the cup and focused intensely on the lid. “Well, I should probably go to the school. Bright minds and all.” He said, still unable to look at her for anything longer than a couple seconds.

“Well, have a good day.” She said.

“You too,” He said, fleeing the shop before he could make anymore of a fool of himself, nearly running into a wall in his attempt to escape.

He headed quickly to the school, a non-distinct brown brick building which was currently surrounded by 15-18 year olds in various styles of clothing. Public school, one that didn’t have rules about who could wear what other than how much skin was shown or the possibility of jewelry being weaponized.

If John was honest, he liked this better than the prospect of a place that made their students dress alike. Personalities showed here, and he didn’t have to be so formal himself.

He was greeted by a few students as he weaved his way around the various groups, and he tried to acknowledge them all but simply couldn’t before making it inside.

“Oh,” Dave Clark got John’s attention as he walked through the lobby. “Stupid grin, coffee in hand, barista girl working today?” Dave ribbed him, heading with John upstairs. When John only tried to stop himself from smiling, Dave laughed. “Why don’t you just ask her out, already?”

“Almost did,” John admitted. “Asked her what she was doing this weekend. Was going to be a big lead up to asking her to dinner, or a movie.”

“But ya chocked.” Dave said, dropping his arm around John. “Dude, if you don’t ask her out soon, then Martha is never going to get the hint that that kiss was only a drunk mistake.”

It was a memory John tried repeatedly to block from his memory to no avail. He hadn’t been that drunk, though if anyone asked he was pissed. Reality was he was simply lonely. He was still getting to know people in town, trying to figure out where he fit in, and Martha seemed to welcome him warmly right from the start. Like she knew him, though in so many ways he could tell she didn’t. But it was raining, they were huddled together under the alcove waiting for a cab, and she looked lovely. Very lovely, with her sweet smile and sparkling eyes that he couldn’t stop himself. And she was all too willing to reciprocate, which he was sure was because of the beer but now wondered if that was in any way true. He pressed her against the wall, which already felt off, but when she put her fingers in his hair he drew back. That was definitely off. Pleasant, but not right.

“Pretty sure she’s never gonna get the hint anyway.” John mumbled to himself as the object of their conversation started to come down the stairs, chatting with one of the other teachers. “Damn,” John said, looking to Dave, “I’m taking the east wing.” He said, throwing a thumb over his shoulder and darting down the hall before Miss Jane the biology teacher could spot him.

She wasn’t a bad girl, really. She was beautiful, smart, funny, and he found it easy enough to carry on a conversation with her. But a couple weeks ago as she, Dave, him, and a few others had been out John had just enough liquid courage to kiss the girl of his dreams, he seemed to decide that Miss Jane (admittedly the other girl in his dreams) was an adequate substitute. Which it was not. Martha, however, immediately took this as some sort of sign, and despite how he tried to sweep it under the rug, she did not.

As he moved down the halls to the east stairway, a bit more out of his way than he’d like, John heard a mild protest, followed by a cruel sounding laugh.

“Give it here, loser.”

John peeked around the corner to one of the side corridors and watched a tall, blond student named Dean Baines snatch a notebook out of Tim Latimer’s hands. The young man barely put up a fight from where he sat on the floor against some lockers as Dean and one of his sidekicks started flipping through it. “What the fuck is this shit?” He asked, showing it his sidekick as he laughed. “’He drew up his sword and faced down the enemy, the urge to spill blood coming in equal parts with his desire to run.’ What kind of shit is this?” He asked, hand poised to rip the pages out of the perfect-bound book.

“Hey,” John yelled, moving down the hall at a calm pace though his eyes narrowed down on the jock. “What’s going on down here?” He asked as he looked between Dean and Tim, chin tilted up.

“Just having a conversation with my buddy Tim, here, Mister Smith.” Dean said in an ass-kissing manner.

“Uh-huh.” John said, narrowing his gaze on the jock. “Mind if I have a look at that?” He asked, tilting his head to the journal in Dean’s hands, shifting his cup so he held it in the same hand as his muffin.

“Well I’d give it to you, Sir, but it is Timmy boy’s here, and I was just having a gander.”

“Oh it’s Tim’s,” John said as if he didn’t know already. “Brilliant, Tim, might I have a look?” He asked hand extended to Dean for the journal while he looked at the young man on the floor attempting to hide behind his long, black hair. Tim nodded once. “Right, give it here, Dean.” John instructed, turning his a narrowed gaze back on Dean and waited to see if he would dare put up a fight. Likely remembering that he could be suspended from whatever sports team he was on if he dared to challenge a teacher, Dean handed over the journal. “Right, now, shouldn’t you two be off making out with your girlfriends where you think none of us can see you?” He asked, causing Dean and his sidekick to look perfectly embarrassed as Tim snorted from his spot on the floor.

John smiled down at him as the two jocks skulked off, and when the coast was clear, he handed Tim his journal. “Why this time?” He asked.

Tim shrugged. “Just sitting here.” He said as his took the journal and ran his hands over it lovingly, the ball point pen still between his fingers from where it likely was before. “Guess they just got bored.”

“Yeah, maybe.” John said, looking where the boys went though they were long gone. “You let me know if they harass you again, got it?”

Tim snorted. “Look, mister Smith, you’re new here.” He said as he got to his feet, standing only an inch shorter than John. “Just the regular shit that goes on around here.”

“Language.” John said with a partial grin, getting Tim to snort. He clapped the young man on the arm. “Come see me anyway.” He said before turning and heading back toward the stairs.

As John made it to his class room he had to keep the warning of language in mind as he spotted Martha Jane leaning up against his desk in a purple dress that was just a little too form fitting for a proper teacher. “Hey,” She said with a wide smile.

“Hey, Martha,” He said nonchalantly as he stepped around his desk, setting down his drink and pastry.

“So my roommate’s gotta a thing tonight. Usually she just sorta stays out until she’s done for the day so I’ll be alone for dinner. Maybe you want to join me? I mean, not at my place, or anything, I meant out. You know, nothing too formal or fancy.”

“Oh, you know, I’d love to, but I can’t.” He said, pulling an award winning act of disappointment. “Already got plans with Dave.”

“But Dave does some training down at the gym tonight,” Martha said, genuinely confused.

“Yeah, after that. And before, you know, grab a bite he and I. You know, manly bonding. It’s … well it’s all sorta, just, you know, me. Settling in, sorta.” He rambled and stumbled with various winces and grimaces. “Anyway, too busy to do dinner tonight. And, ahh, probably not going to be able to tomorrow. Tests needing to be graded and all that.”

She smirked at him adoringly. “Alright, mister.” She said as she turned away, “But call me if you change your mind.”

“Will do, thanks,” He said, knowing full well he wasn’t going to. “Oh, Martha,” he called after her. She stopped by the door, looking at him over the shoulder. “Seemed to have misplaced my calendar. What’s the date today?”

She smiled, “September 27th, 2005.” She said. “And your calendar’s on your desk under all those papers.” She teased before leaving the room.

“Right,” he said to himself as he reached in the paper bag and pulled out the muffin. “Explains why I never use it,” He muttered before inhaling his breakfast before classes began.

“Harder! Harder, come on!” Dave commanded, and despite being sweat drenched and tired, Rose obeyed. “Faster! Come on, baby, I know you can do better than that!”

And at that, Rose stopped. “Baby?” She panted.

“Sorry, got carried away.” Her trainer said as he lowered his punch mitt covered hands. “You’re making excellent progress though. Seriously, I’d never had anyone pick up mixed martial so easily. Especially a woman.”

“Oi.” She said with mock offense, smiling with her tongue between her teeth as Dave laughed. “I was always told I was a fast learner.”

“That you are.” Dave said with a grin.

He was older than her but probably a decade, tall and heavily muscled, and in an on-again-off-again relationship with someone named Scott. It was why Rose settled on Dave as a trainer despite his limited availability. That, and when she inquired about the sport, feeling like maybe with her accelerated brain and he longing for something more physical it would help her through the next three months, he was the only one in the gym willing to train her. He was going easy on her still, for the most part, but they were both learning that she could take more than it looked like she could.

“Ever consider maybe going into some armature matches?” He asked her as he put the gloves back in place. Rose latched on to his head and kneed him in quick, hard successions in the gloves until she counted twenty in her head and he lowered them.

“Nope,” She said, her muscles starting to finally sing with a pleasant amount of fatigue. Glancing at clock on the wall, she noted they’d been at it for an hour. “Sorta just wanna learn the skills.” She said with a grin.

He arched a dark blond eyebrow, shaking his head. “Don’t wanna run into you in a dark alley,” He glanced at the clock as well, or at least she assumed, and pulled off his gloves. “I’m expecting someone in a minute, so we’re going to have to call it a night.” He said to her, glancing at the door and smiling warmly before waving.

“Oh, is it Scott?” She asked teasingly, turning around and having her heart stop and her smile falter as she looked at the Doctor.

John, she corrected herself.

“No, I’m not lucky enough to be his type,” Scott said just as it seemed John noticed her. “Other than being blonde.” He added with a mumble, but Rose pretended she didn’t hear him as she waited and hoped that the Doctor, John, would catch her eye.

Which he did a second later.

John paled, eyes widened, and he looked so adorably caught off guard that Rose couldn’t help but smile again, giving him a little wave. He gave it back, awkwardly in jerking motions before he shoved his hands in his pockets and looked away.

“You know John?” Dave asked as she turned back to face him, pointing at the man in question over her shoulder.

She shrugged one shoulder. “I see him in the coffee shop I work at all the time.”

Something in Scott’s eyes lit up in recognition, and he looked her over. “Ah,” He said, nodding. “So, uh, yeah, why don’t you go get changed or what ever and I’ll see you here in a few minutes? Talk about when we can meet up again?”

“’Kay,” She said, glancing back at John and catching him staring before she went to the locker room.

Rose toweled off and changed quickly, always preferring to shower back at the apartment. And after peeling off her tight gym clothes and replacing them with her jeans and a jumper, she grabbed her bag and headed out.

John and Dave were talking quietly when she came in, the former looking nervous and shifty while the other remained calm with his arms crossed over his chest. John caught her walking in, and in a habit that made Rose’s heart ache, he pulled on his earlobe before he turned away.

Dave turned toward her. “So Thursday is probably best for me, work for you?” He asked her, not changing his posture from when he talked to John.

“Yeah, ‘s fine.” She said.

“And, hey, I know you’re new in town, and the two of us don’t really know each other, but if you’re free Friday night maybe you can come down to trivia night McDougall’s?” He asked, referring to a local Pub she heard Martha mention a couple of times.

Rose glanced at John, seeing him acting as though the punching bag a few feet away was the most interesting thing in the world and that absolutely nothing could pull his attention away from it.

“Maybe,” She said in a non-committal way. “Remind me Thursday.” She said, giving one of Dave’s arms a little squeeze.

“Sure,” Dave said enthusiastically.

Rose turned to leave, pausing after a couple of steps. “You don’t look like you’re here to train,” She said to John, taking in his outfit. The same casual look he had on this morning. She wondered if there was any part of him that knew his shirt was the perfect shade of TARDIS blue, and if that’s why he picked it out.

“Wha? No, no.” John said with a nervous laugh. “I, ah, umm, work with Dave at the, uh school.”

She smiled, “Oh?”

“Yeah,” he added, his smile getting a little wider and he stepped a bit closer to her. “Bright minds and all.” He shifted nervously. “So, umm, trivia.” He said loudly, clearing his throat and flushing. “Trivia, trivia’s fun. Umm, I go, too, there. Ah … not that that matters or anything, but, you know, if you go it’ll be more than just Dave there that you know. Not saying that you know him, or me for that matter. I’m just the guy who gets coffee.” He laughed, looking down at his feet. “And I’m finding I can’t stop talking now that there isn’t a counter between us.” He added as he rubbed the back of his neck.

Rose smiled, her heart pounding and aching, soaring and bleeding, both hating and loving the man in front of her in equal parts because of his awkward babble.

“Well,” She said slowly. “If you’ll be there, I may just be there too.” She said.

And oh how she loved and hated the wide eyed shock that was on his face as he snapped his head up. “Yeah?” He asked, mouth moving around words that weren’t forming.

“Yeah.” She said, smiling painfully. “See you tomorrow, John.” She said with a wave.

“Yeah,” He said, “Yeah, of course.” And the way he said absently, staring at her in awe.

She offered Dave a wave before leaving the gym, catching the up town bus to her apartment, and headed upstairs.

The moment she was inside the flat she made a b-line for her bedroom. She pulled the necklace that held her TARDIS key out from under her shirt, taking the additional small key on the chain and unlocking the doors to her armoire. The only thing behind the double doors was a small safe. She punched in the code, and the door popped open. Rose removed the ornate wooden box from inside like it was a bomb, carefully carrying it over to her bed. Opening it, she looked at the beautiful fob watch inside. Running her fingers over the cool metal, she felt the warmth come from within.

Rose, his voice whispered, my precious Rose.

She picked it up, holding it with both hands, thumbs clamping it against her palms as she brought it up to her lips and kissed the decorative surface as she closed her eyes. Her thoughts drifted to those last moments with her Time Lord, as they often did on the odd day she’d let herself hold the watch.

They had been in bed for hours, naked, sweaty, satisfied and yet still entirely unsatisfied. The feel of his cool skin along hers was better than she could imagine, as was the way he worshiped her for hours, and she him in return.

“You’re insatiable,” He smiled against her lips as she looped her leg over his, preventing him from doing anything but what he had been.

“I can’t ever get enough of this,” She admitted, her fingers touching his temple and sending him all the love and bliss he was making her feel back to him. Her finger tips trailed down his cheek, his neck, down to the hair on his chest. The absolute perfect amount of hair in her mind. And while they explored his body for the dozenth time, she still felt her mind humming with his. “How do I still feel you?” She asked as his mouth trailed down her neck.

“Bonded a bit,” He said as he traced circles and lines on her stomach. “Not enough to link us without touch, but enough that we can touch anywhere and send thoughts and feelings.”

“And is that normal?” She asked as she ran a single finger up his spin and felt him twitch against her thigh.

“For a human? No.” He admitted as his nose grazed her collar bone. “But since parts of your brain started waking up, becoming higher functioning, possible that this was part of it.”

“’Kay,” She managed to get out as his mouth did things on her neck that made her lose all train of thought.

It was after another long, sensual moment of passion that they spoke anything more than each other’s names. “Why now?” She asked as they laid on their sides, arms and legs wrapped around each other, keeping them pressed together. “Why not before?

“I dunno.” He confessed, playing with her hair. “We were barely speaking for a while there, and my mental shields are still weak after the sun. My mind seeking out comfort, your mind unshielded and ready to search me out ….” He reasoned. “Does this bother you?”

Rose shook her head. “I get to give you something you need,” She said as she laid her fingers on his temple and sent him love. He closed his eyes and hummed happily. “Not sure what that means for my brain, but it doesn’t hurt.”

“We can look into the changes.” He said softly. “Find out what’s going on, if you want.”

“No,” She shook her head. “We said we wouldn’t.”

“Can just skip the life expectancy part,” He murmured as his lips touched her forehead.

“You know you won’t.” She countered, her eyes falling shut. She heard him chuckled, his arms coming around her tighter.

“Sleep, Rose.” He said, kissing her sweetly.

He stirred, and her eyes popped open as he climbed out of bed. “Where ya going?” She asked

The Doctor smiled fondly at her as he pulled on some pants. “The TARDIS told me Martha’s awake. Apparently she fell asleep waiting in the media room and has been trying to find us since she woke up. Better go out there.” He explained as he pulled on his trousers, then proceeded to dress. “But you stay in bed, rest.” He said, climbing back on the bed to kiss her. “We can pick up where we left off later.” He said in her ear.

“We better,” She said, closing her eyes again.

She wasn’t sure how long after that she pulled herself out of bed. She showered quickly, put on some jeans and a t-shirt, and then went out to the console room to find it empty.

The TARDIS showed her that the Doctor landed them on a deserted planet, but the ship felt uneasy about it. “Why?” Rose asked her, and all she got back was that the old girl was unsettled. That something felt off.

The first boom that shook the ship had her stumbling into the rail. Before the second, shaking boom the doors flew open and the Doctor was practically pushing Martha inside.

“Vortex!” He yelled, and Rose dashed to the console to get the ship off wherever they were. “Did they see you?” He asked Martha urgently.

“I don’t know,” She said, confused. “I was too busy running.”

“Martha, it’s important, did they see your face?” He asked with a thin veil of calm.

“They couldn’t have.” She said with certainty.

At that the Doctor dashed around to stand by Rose, looking at the monitor. A moment later, a warning chime came from the console, the old girl sent Rose a wave of surprised panic, and the Doctor curse. “They’re following us.”

“How can they do that? You’ve got a time machine?” Martha snapped in panic.

“Slow down,” Rose yelled. “Who’s following us, what’s going on?”

“A family that seeks out life forces to extend their own.” The Doctor explained quickly. “Theirs is likely on the way out, and they smelled me, a Time Lord.”

“With a very long life span.” She concurred.

“Yeah. And apparently they have stolen Time Agent technology by the looks of things. We’ll never be safe, they’ll follow us right across the Universe. Unless….” He trailed off, and when he turned she could see his heart was slowly breaking.

“Unless?” Martha asked.

“I stop being a Time Lord.” A moment later, he moved to a different part of the console, pressing some buttons and opening a compartment. “Only way to keep you two safe.” He said suddenly as some sort of device with a head piece came down from the ceiling, and a chair with straps on the arms and legs took the place of the jumpseat. He looked at the device with apprehension. “Never thought I’d have to use this.” He said.

“What, hold on.” Rose said. “Stop being a Time Lord? How?” She asked.

He lifted his hand, showing her a pocket watch. “This watch becomes me.” He said, and Martha came up to stand beside him. “I use the Chameleon Arch, rewrite my biology, and everything that makes me a Time Lord gets put in here.”

“Re-write your biology?” Rose questioned dubiously. The Doctor nodded. “Won’t that …?”

“Hurt? Oh yes,” He said wearily. “But what other choice do I have? We can’t go anywhere as I am because they will follow us. Our best chance is to hide. The family, they’re like mayflies, they’ll die off in three months. Three months, we can do that, can’t we?” He asked, putting a hand on her shoulder.

“That depends.” Rose said. “What’s going to happen if you aren’t … you?” She asked nervously.

He smiled fondly. “I’ll recognize you both. I’ll have enough residual memory to let you both in, but I won’t know you. Not until I meet you. I’m sorry, it’s not like ….”

“Same body, but different man then.” Rose nodded, letting out a breath like she was punched in the gut, staring at the man she had made love with just hours ago and realizing he was leaving.

“Martha,” he said, holding Rose’s eye just a little longer before turning to their companion. “There’s a box in the library on the mantle. Small and ornate. Can you bring it here?” He asked.

“Of course.” She said, darting off without a second thought.

The Doctor cupped Rose’s face the second they were alone, pressing his forehead to hers. She felt his love and grief pour over her. “I won’t be the same man, no. I won’t be me. But I know without a doubt that this,” He said, sending something like a tickle to her, “this bond, no matter how small, is going to draw me to you more than anyone. I’m not going to know why, but that’s where it comes down to you. My hearts are yours, and even when one is dormant part of me won’t forget that.”

“What do you want me to do?” She asked, gripping his wrists.

“I want you to do what you feel is right.” He said. “But I am yours. This body, any body of mine, is yours. Don’t let me do anything with it that would hurt you.” He leaned in and kissed her, sending her love and calm despite how jittery she could feel he was. “I’m sorry.” He said as he pulled back.

“Got it,” Martha yelled, causing them to jump away from each other. Martha appeared a second later with the small, mahogany box, handing it to the Doctor.

He tucked it under his arm before reaching into his pocket, pulling out two cuffed bracelets: one silver, one gold. “One more thing,” He said, sliding the silver one on Martha’s wrist. “Do not take these off,” He instructed. “They’re going to mask your scent from the Family. It won’t be as tempting as mine, but they may make the connection to me.” He explained as he slid the gold one on Rose’s wrist.

“Wait, why does Rose need one?” Martha asked, genuinely confused. “She wasn’t with us.”

The Doctor looked Martha straight in the eye, “Because her scent is quite literally all over me.” He said frankly before turning away and getting into the chair. He handed Rose the box. “I’m trusting you with my life,” he said with a smile, trying to lighten the mood. She could only manage a half-hearted grin. “After this is done, the TARDIS will land herself. She’s creating a back story for me, manipulating time and events so I can fit in to society. She’ll do the same for you two but on a lesser extent. I’m going to seem out of it, but don’t touch me. I’ll guide myself out the TARDIS. She’ll go into emergency shut down to save energy and hide herself.” He took a deep breath, placing the watch in a slot on the arch before lowering the head piece down. He looked Rose dead in the eye. “Remember, it’s all up to you what happens. I … oh you know.” He said before slamming the device down on his head.

It was his screams that bothered her the most. Those shouts of extraordinary pain as he lost a big part of who he was. He once told her regeneration was painful, but she was certain the arc was worse. After that he had slumped in the chair for a few minutes before suddenly bolting up and walking for the TARDIS door, grabbing a bag along the way.

The ship had provided her and Martha a bag as well, though Rose didn’t tell Martha that she was provided a credit card along with a fake identity, a job. Nor did she feel the need to inform her of the keys in the bottom of her bag, and the address for an flat. Luckily for Martha it was a two bedroom, and Rose, still in shock from all that happened, didn’t dare be alone.

Two days after they landed in a small, North American city Rose’s phone went off to indicate it was her first day of work, and she needed to be there in two hours. The Old Girl was looking out for her, which was more than she could say for Martha who was nearly late for her first day as a teacher in a High School. Rose had recognized the uniform that was among her clothes, and with a little help from the GPS on her new phone she got there on time. And, apparently, her higher processing power allowed her to learn how to make coffee for picky people really quickly.

People including John Smith.

Her breath caught in her throat when she first saw the Doctor, John, walk into the coffee shop she had been assigned to work in. He was the same, but so different. No suits or overcoats, instead he was casual in jeans and loose oxfords. He wore his glasses all the time, she came to notice, and he seemed far less graceful than he had been before. She was fairly certain that if John Smith was to attempt to walk on the backs of theatre seats to face an intimidating group of Daleks he’d stumble on the climb then fall on his face when attempting to cross aisles.

The first day they met, while handing him his cup, she accidentally on purpose brushed his hand. The electric jolt that went through her body, a common experience among humanity, did something to her mind as well. It was like picking up static on the radio, but still came through as warm. John met her eye and turned red, and she could tell from that first smile that something happened on his end as well. Though there was a strong likelihood that he would simply chalk it up to a part of human nature. Yet every day, this clumsy, lovely man seemed to seek her out in the coffee shop, pretending to look at travel mugs if she was stocking merchandise, commenting on the books she read if she was sitting on break, little things that made her smile and endear him toward her.

But she still missed the Doctor so bad it hurt. Even more when she saw small quirks of his in his body while it was housing someone else. She gripped the watch tightly for a while, letting it whisper the same few words into her mind until she felt centered again. Placing it back in its blue velvet lined back, she closed the lid. The box was returned to the safe, locked behind the locked doors of the armoire before she went to grab a shower and settle in for the night.

“As much as I’m not a fan of being a teacher, I must say I’m loving this.” Martha declared as Rose emerged from the bathroom. “2005, I was in med school with hardly any social life. Out there across the ocean is a younger me wondering if the studying will ever end. And here I am, same year, different city, different country, different name, and it’s just so … strange.” She said. “I’m living the kinda life I always wanted, just teaching instead of practicing medicine. What about you? 2005, where are you right now?” She asked, as she handed Rose a carton of chips from down the road.

“On the TARDIS.” She replied honestly. “So can’t say I’m here at all. Right now there are papers covering the estate with my face on ‘em because I’ve gone missing. My ol’ mate Mickey is suspected of killing me, and I’m ….” She trailed off as she came around and flopped down on the couch. “’S so weird.” She said, looking at Martha as she sat down next to her. “My mum is still here in this universe. I could call her right now, tell her I’m alright, but I can’t because she supposedly never heard from me. Same with Mickey. All he knows is I ran off with the Doctor.”

Martha scrunched her face. “I thought you traveled with Nine first?” She asked.

There had been a few times over the last month the Rose wanted to blurt everything out, but held her tongue. When they first landed and Martha didn’t quite understand why Rose insisted they refer to this human version as John. When they decorated the apartment with pictures of him and them, and one with Jack and the leather Doctor accidentally made it’s way to a frame college. When Martha admitted that John had kissed her one night after a few drinks, and it reminded her of the kiss the Doctor gave her in the hospital. Rose wanted to tell her about all the things the Doctor and she had kept from her, but refrained each time. Not all of it was Rose’s to tell, especially knowing that the Doctor didn’t discuss regeneration with his companions unless he was about to go through it.

“I did,” Rose said, shaking her head and pretending she was confused. “Right, sorry. Time Travel, gets so confusing sometimes.” She said, flicking her hair for emphasis, as if a stereotype could explain it all away.

“Anyway, How I met your Mother’s coming on. You gonna watch it with me?” She asked.

“’Suppose.” Rose said, popping a chip in her mouth. Her eyes drifted to the pictures on the wall, taking in that manic smile and the big brown eyes, and allowing herself one more moment of self pity before pushing it all back in place and focusing on the sitcom.

“So I talked to Rose,” Dave said in a sing song voice at the end of the school day that Friday as he walked into John’s classroom. “And guess who’s going to be there tonight?”

John’s head snapped up, the panic on his face making Dave laugh. “Oh, oh,” John stuttered. “God, what do I say? What do I say to her? What do we even have to talk about? Oh god, what if she figures out I’m a nerd?” He asked, cringing. “Oh this is a disaster, shouldn’t have ever asked her out.”

“But you didn’t. Technically I did, but since we both know she’s not my type, I’m going to hand her over the someone who would appreciate her.” Dave said as clap on John’s arm.

He let out a nervous breath. “Right. Not a date. Not even a little. Just a gathering with some friends and … oh Martha. Martha’s going to be there. She’s going to make Rose think … oh, and we’re right back to disaster.”

“Already have a plan for miss Martha.” Dave said as he started backing out of the classroom. “So you just focus on thinking what you’re going to say to lil’ miss Rose Tyson, and let me handle the rest.” Dave turned around. “And John,” He said over his shoulder. “You don’t show up I’m going to your place and dragging you out of there.”

John laughed, because despite only knowing Dave a short time he wouldn’t put it past him.

He looked down at his clothes, deciding the green-blue oxford looked nice enough to wear out. Though he may have to go home and shower anyway, what with the prospect of Rose being at the pub tonight likely to make him sweat bullets. Rose Tyson. Somehow the name felt off, like it didn’t quite roll off the tongue the way he thought it should.

“Mister Smith,” He was pulled from his thoughts with a knock on the door, looking up to see Tim walking in. “You got a minute?” He asked, looking nervously out the door.

“Got a bunch of them,” John said, gesturing for Tim to come in.

The tall, lanky teenager closed the classroom door, sauntering over to the desk he sat in during class in the front row. He brushed his hair back, looking up at John with his black lined blue eyes.

“You said I could come to you if I was being harassed.” He said with a shrug. “Since there’s a bunch of them waiting for me at the exits, I thought I could hide out in here.”

“Well, I got nowhere to be until eight, so unless they all decide to hang around here until then,” John smiled down at the kid dressed in a Slipknot shirt and baggy jeans, a typical look for Tim. “Why are they so interested in you?”

Tim shrugged, looking at his chipped, black nails. “’Cause it’s easy to pick on the loner.”

“Suppose,” John admitted, leaning against the desk.

“Where ya gotta be at eight? A date?” Tim asked when a lull of silence fell between them.

“Sorta,” John smirked.

“With Miss Jane?” Tim asked, looking up at John with a sly grin.

John’s smirk fell, “Oh, is it really so bad that that’s what you guys all think?”

Tim shrugged again, “Both new, both British, she’s in here all the time, always hanging around you.”

“No,” John cut him off. “She’s not who I’m seeing tonight. Just friends, she and I.” He crossed his arms. “So now that I told you something, how about you level with me and what Baines and his pose want with you?”

Tim sighed, looking around the room. “Said something stupid.” He admitted.

“You’re a teenager, ‘course you did.” John deadpanned. Tim rolled his eyes up at his teacher who just waited him out.

“I told him last year that his date to prom was a lesbian. She was using him. Turned out I was right, but she didn’t come out til that night.” Tim said, whipping his head to clear the hair from his eyes. “Dunno, sometimes I just know shi- , I mean stuff that I’m not supposed to.”

“Okay,” John said. “Doesn’t seem like a reason for Baines to be going after you.”

“He thinks I set it up somehow. Didn’t help that I asked how his Dad was doing with that second family of his.” Tim grimaced. “Got punched in the face for that one.”

“Trying being slapped by an big, angry blonde woman who thinks your shagging her daughter,” John smirked before realizing what he said made no sense. He hadn’t ever been slapped by someone’s mother. Hadn’t even really been involved with a girl where he’d met her mother to be slapped by.

Tim snorted. “Shagging.”

When the awkwardness started falling around them again, John cleared his throat. “So you write?” He offered the change of conversation.

“Sorta.” Tim said, adjusting so he could put his feet up on the desk.

“Sorta?” John asked, moving to sit in the desk chair next to Tim.

“Yeah, normally it’s nothing. Lately though, I dunno, been getting these weird thoughts since school started. Like, I dunno, some messed up sci-fi stuff. ‘Bout sword fighting aliens and cat nurses.”

“Really?” John asked, his interest sparked for many reasons. “You write ‘em all down?”

Tim shrugged, something John was starting to see was a nervous habit. “Didn’t at first. Some of them are pretty messed up though, so I probably shouldn’t have.”

“Like what?” John leaned forward, hands together in front of him.

“Gas mask zombies,” Tim said with a smirk. “You know, like those old school gas masks?” He mimed holding the mas in front of his face. “Gas mask zombies led by a kid, and some city is being bombed to crap at the same time. I mean, kids are scary as is, but that ….”

John smiled, shaking his head. Not quite the same sort of things he’d been dreaming about, but pretty close. “Ever thought of making them into short stories? Sell ‘em to some magazines or something?”

“You can do that?” Tim asked dubiously.

“Oh yeah,” John said. “You could be a published author before you graduate if you’re lucky, put enough effort into it. I can help you, if you want. I don’t have anything out there myself, but I can work with you on the stories.” He offered. He wasn’t sure why, exactly. He read enough of them, especially Sci-fi and fantasy, so he had list of places Tim could try for. But it just seemed … odd, for him to want to help him like this.

“Maybe.” Tim said, glancing at the clock. “If those jackasses are still out there now, then they’re the ones who need a life.” He said, getting out of the chair. “Good luck on your date, Mister S. Shag her silly, or something.”

John watched him leave, nostrils flaring to stop him from laughing out loud. He glanced at the clock, noting that the two of them had been in the room for an hour. Still a few hours to kill. Maybe he would go home, get cleaned up, grab a bite and try not to think of Tim’s off handed comment when he finally got to see Rose later.

“Rose!” She heard Dave call her over to a table near a big projector screen and a small stage at the front of the tavern. She turned, seeing him wave her over, and glimpsed John peeking around before his eyes met hers. She was set to run, and a big part of her still wanted to, but his smile pulled her to him like a magnet. Same body, different man, but that smile made her forget for a moment as she rushed over to them.

“Hello,” She said, climbing up into the high chair beside John like she would have naturally with the Doctor, shedding her black leather jacket over the back of the chair and straightening her v-neck jumper. “Just the three of us?” She asked.

“Nah’, got another one of our co-workers coming by. John and I just like getting the better table. Drink?” Dave asked, pointing to the bar.

“That would be lovely,” She said, about to get down.

“No, no, no. I’ll get it.” Dave said in an overly polite way which was instantly clarified when he winked to John before walking away.

“Ignore him, it’s what I try to do.” John said with ease before looking at her and paling.

She tried not to look at him too hard, memories of being with the Doctor just hours before this man sauntered into his place creeping into her mind. “So how long you’ve been in the country?” She asked him, seeing it as the likeliest possible way to start a conversation with someone you aren’t supposed to know. And really, she supposed, she didn’t know him.

“About a month.” He said instantly. “Decided I needed to get out of England, hopped over here, got a job. That’s about it.” He said with a nervous laugh. “You?”

“’Bout the same.” Rose said, clearing her throat. “I was traveling and this is where I ended up having to stop. I had a friend in the area, we’re sharing a flat now.”

“Traveling?” John perked up. “Always wanted to travel, me. Probably why I came here, actually. Mind you, moving and traveling aren’t really the same. Still, change. So, where’ve you been?”

“Oh, all around.” Rose said, smiling as she tried to think of places that would sound believable. “Utah, New York, Scotland, Rome, France, Ireland.” She said the last one with a bit of a laugh, thinking of the other world where her family was.

“Wow,” John said, gaping at her. “And you do all this … alone?” He asked, tapping his finger against the rim of his beer stein as he stared at the contents.

Rose sucked in her lips to hide the smirk. He was too adorable, and she hated that she was starting to like that about him. “No, I was traveling with a bloke.”

“Ah,” John said quickly, knee now jerking.

“Just a friend though.” She said, and he froze. “Well, sorta just a friend. We sorta were taking our relationship further.”

“So what happened?” John asked, looking genuinely curious.

“He left.” She said bluntly. “Didn’t just swan off, he had his reasons, and they were great reasons, but … he left.”

“You miss him.” It wasn’t a question, and Rose smiled at him.

“Very, very much.” She admitted, holding his eye, hoping that if there was some part of the Doctor in there that he heard it. “But, have to keep moving forward, yeah?”

“Quite right,” John beamed, and she giggled at it. “So who’s this friend of yours that you came to stay with?” He asked, shifting a little closer to her.

“Rose?” Martha’s voice came from behind, and Rose turned abruptly to see Martha’s surprise mirrored her own. “What are you doing here?” She asked, looking between Rose and John.

“Dave invited me.” Rose said, throwing a thumb toward the bar. “Thought you said you had a date?” She asked in return, looking at Martha’s low cut vest and tight fitting jeans.

She glanced at John, “I thought I did.” She said as she moved to sit on the other side of him.

“Oh, that’s Dave’s spot.” John said quickly, causing Martha to stare at him slack jawed. “Sorry.” John said, and something told Rose he didn’t mean that.

“No, it’s fine.” Martha quickly grinned, climbing into the next seat over, putting her directly across from Rose. “So, Dave invited you.” She started slowly. “And how do you know him?”

“He’s one of my trainers.” Rose replied. “I’ve told you about him.”

“Yeah, just … didn’t think he was the same one.” Martha admitted as the man in question returned with a pitcher and three steins.

“Wait, one of your trainers?” John asked, “How many do you have?”

“Oh, Dave just does the umm, mixed martial arts stuff. I see another trainer once a week for gymnastics. Used to do it when I was younger, and I sorta fell outta practice.” Rose said as she poured herself a drink.

“Explains how you can eat chips every day and stay the same size.” Martha said bitterly.

“You run,” Rose grinned.

“So do you.” Martha countered.

“And I’m starting to get the sense that we won’t be running together anymore.” Rose said, snarking back at Martha who gave her a fake grin.

“Ladies, please, no fighting.” Dave said as he took the pitcher from Rose and poured a drink for Martha. “Now, since Rose and John know each other least, those two should be in a pair so they can get to know one another better.”

“Or we could go with who knows each other best and Rose and I can be partners.” Martha suggested.

“Where’s the fun in that?” Dave smirked.

Rose shifted uncomfortably, but before she had a chance to say anything, or offer some kind of neutral option, the games started.

She wasn’t entirely sure it was a good thing that she and John fell so in sync with one another. On one hand, it felt natural, normal, one providing the answers where the other may not have known it, or both coming to the same conclusion at the same time. On the other hand, it was dangerous. Constantly, Rose had to remind herself that this was not the Doctor, no matter how close John came to being him throughout the night. His mannerisms were often off, and he didn’t have the same vast knowledge that he had before, but his smile, his laugh, the way he looked at her when she knew something he didn’t, all made her feel like she was home.

They didn’t win, though they did beat out Dave and Martha, the former pulling the latter with him as he paid their tab at the end of the night under the pretense of making sure he had enough money and to discuss some sort of science based teaching thing.

“Well,” John said, voice loud with excitement. “That was fun.”

“Was,” Rose concluded, “Glad I came out.” She confessed.

“Me too,” John said. He glanced at the bar, then down to the space between them. “Can I walk you out? I mean know you and Martha will likely share a cab home, or something. But it’s kinda loud in here, and, well.”

“Sure,” Rose answered, giggling with him when he beamed like a fool.

They got off their high chairs, John stumbling a bit before they put on their jackets and headed for the exit.

The night had cooled down considerable, the light traces of their breath in the air between them. Rose noted now that they were out of the bar how John’s leather jacket looked painfully familiar, though not nearly as worn down as his previous body’s choice. Previous body, that was the kind of thinking that was going to get Rose in to trouble.

“So, um, what are you, uh, what are you doing tomorrow?” He asked her, shifting around and kicking at the pavement.

“I have to work in the evening,” She said, seeing the disappointment creep into his eyes. She should have left it at that, but instead she added, “I’m free in the morning, though.”

“Yeah?” He smiled.

And Rose smiled back. “Yeah.”

“So, uh, do you wanna grab coffee? No, not coffee. Coffee is a stupid idea. Breakfast? Nice little place around the corner.”

“John,” She interrupted him.

“Sorry.” He said automatically.

She twisted her fingers, looking at the love of her life that wasn’t really, feeling torn in a dozen different ways. “So the bloke I traveled with, yeah? He and I, well, we were just starting out. Really, truly. And I don’t know if I can go down that road again.”

“I understand.” He said with a nod. “You need time.”

“Yeah,” She said, nodding.

This body, any body of mine, is yours. Don’t let me do anything with it that would hurt you.

The Doctor’s words popped into her mind just as she heard Martha’s laugh coming from the pub. She met John’s eyes, seeing only the Doctor for a moment.

“But that doesn’t mean we can’t have breakfast,” She blurted out, suddenly terrified of what might happen if she didn’t do this. “Or, I dunno, hang out sometimes. Just the two of us.”

“Yeah?” John said, his face lighting up in a manic grin that warmed her in a way she wished it hadn’t. “Brilliant, absolutely brilliant. Yeah, so umm, how about I get your number from Dave, and I will text you where to meet?”

“Sounds lovely.” She smiled.

“Well alright. I will see you in the morning, Rose Tyson.” He said, his brow knitting as he said her alias name, like something wasn’t quite right about it. But then he shook his head lightly, Dave and Martha coming up to them, and the two pairs split up.

“You just couldn’t stay away, could you?” Martha growled once they were a block away.

“What do you mean?” Rose asked, stopping on the corner and waiting for Martha to respond. She dared her to say something, anything, about her screwing up any chances Martha had with John.

“You are a trigger.” Martha yelled. “He was more like the Doctor than I’ve seen him act the whole time we’ve been here, and it’s all because of you. Why couldn’t you just stay out of his life while we were here?”

“I never left!” Rose laughed. “I’ve seen him nearly every day since we’ve been here, just as often as you do. I didn’t loop Dave into getting me out with you all if that’s what you thought.”

Martha glared at her, losing her fight. “We have two months left before the family dies off.” She said forcefully. “Try not to make him remember before then, yeah?” She said before turning and storming off. Rose just watched her a moment before rolling her eyes and shaking her head, following a few feet behind.

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