Fandom: Dr. Who
Spoilers: Journey's End, etc.
Summary: Time let them go.
Author Notes: For tzikeh, who said she wanted something like this.
He tells her:
"He asked me. I asked myself. Isn't that strange when you think of it?"
"Imagine all of time and space running through your head, like a river over rocks that flows and then it stops--no, no, that's not right."
"Fish and chips. I keep thinking of fish and chips. Am I hungry?"
She watches from somewhere impossibly deep, listening to his voice ebb and flow around her like the coming tide, words pushing senselessly against the surface of her skin. "You're both hungry," she hears her mother say. "What you need is a spot of tea and a good rest to put things right."
Jackie Tyler never met a world where tea couldn't cure all ills. Rose nods, tongue dry and clinging to the roof of her mouth, and closes her eyes, feeling him curving toward her like spacetime around objects huge and miraculous, like moons that orbit stars so bright they burned her eyes.
She's walked so many worlds, folding dimensions like paper in her hands, felt Time itself bowing to her will (not a memory, but a knowledge she carries in her bones, Time that looked into her and saw her and never really let her go). Time isn't water, he's right, but it's easier to explain all the things it's not that what it is.
"I wonder if tea will be ready," her mother says, and the words wash over Rose like water.
"Fascinating," he says at tea, picking his way across the table, trying every dish, long fingers moving between biscuits and sandwiches, studying his tea like it contains the secrets of time-travel (and she thinks, it could. It might). "Did you make these, Jackie?"
"I like to keep my hand in," her mother says and Rose picks at her plate, words bunched together at the tip of her tongue, so many she can't say a thing. Her heart broke once and never knit itself quite right; she traveled a thousand worlds to find him with a whisper in her ear, hurry, hurry, don't give up, you're almost there. She remembers Time stood still when she saw him by the TARDIS, a second of perfect clarity that murmured *home*, wrapped in a man who wasn't human on a world she'd thought was lost.
"Dimensional cannon? Really?"
"Quite the inventor, my Rose," her mother says, with a pat to her shoulder that shakes the earth. "Every day, off to Torchwood to save the world. Doesn't eat right," her mother confides. "If I've told her once, I've told her a thousand times, how will she get a husband if she's nothing but skin and bones?"
His mouth quirks, eyes flickering to her, a rippling moment of spacetime that bumps her up, breaking the surface of her mind to feel the flush of heat across her face. Her fork slides the length of porcelain and she drops it before she gives herself away.
"Right then," her mother says. "Would you like to see the house, Doctor?"
He sets down the napkin and eyes the last of the biscuits before taking three that disappear into a pocket as his eyes fix on her. "I'd like to see where Rose lives."
He tells her:
"He said, I've seen everything that could be and will ever be. I didn't see you. I never saw you. Not until I did."
"He told me, you can stand still."
"He said, you're what I can't be."
He maps her flat like the topography of a star, peering into cupboards and beneath the bed, curiosity flaring off him like light, gravity that pulls her into orbit, circling him with her eyes. She marks out the differences (his smile, his scent, his taste in clothes), because saying what he isn't is so much easier than believing what he is.
He doesn't touch her, but she wants him to so badly she can barely breathe.
"I like it," he says, leaning against the doorway, already living in the spaces she created for him and never knew it. Fitting, like she crossed the universe, created the impossible just to bring him home.
Home, in a flat that was half-empty and now it's not, embodied in the man who stands before her; something in her begins to shake, pushing her up and out, surfacing in a world that's finally still, as if Time has finally let her go.
She reaches for him with arms that feel as light as air. A familiar body beneath her hands, a single heartbeat against her ear, the infinite mind of a Timelord that sees all of time and space clothed in human flesh and bone. He laid the universe at her feet once upon a time, skipped her through stars in nova and galaxies being born, opened the universe before her eyes. She looks at him and wonders if she can give him her world as he gave her his, brilliant and terrible and glitteringly new; a single time and a single place can't possibly match the whole of time and space.
"It does," he says. "It can. There's you."