I still feel
The Doctor was worried. Not that he’d openly admit it of course, but the TARDIS could sense his mood and kept supplying plates of biscuits – chocolate ones, naturally – at random intervals, in an attempt to raise his spirits. He knew what she was up to, of course, since she usually hid them from him, due to his tendency to eat two or three packets in a sitting if left to his own devices.
Rose was sleeping now; at least the Doctor thought she probably was, although he hadn’t been in her room since the Game Station so he couldn’t be sure.
Instead he’d gone back to spending his evenings tinkering with the TARDIS or in the library where he was currently, still trying to read that same book, and still failing, for much the same reasons as before. As he stared absently at the fire and munched yet another biscuit, his thoughts turned back to Rose, again.
He’d been through regenerations before, where his companions hadn’t handled things well, had left because they didn’t understand, couldn’t accept the change. So after the whole Sycorax situation had been dealt with, he’d asked her to come with him, again. “That’s three times I’ve asked her now,” he realised.
She’d agreed, even took his hand when he’d offered it, but still he was concerned. Was it just the thought of more adventures that had made her agree, the whole “it also travels in time” thing, or was there still something…? Their relationship had begun to change after he took her to see her father, things were different now….well, they were then.
After the reapers, they’d become much closer, the hugs more frequent, and longer. Holding hands was almost a constant activity and, of course, they stole kisses now and then. He’d also spent far less time during the TARDIS’ night cycle tinkering or reading, and far more time lying by her side, watching over her as she slept.
Things had never progressed beyond that though, and right now he was thankful for that, since it would likely have made things even more complicated. There had been that whole dancing thing of course, which almost led to… “No, best not think about that right now,” he decided. He leant back in his chair and stared at the ceiling. “What should I do, old girl?” The TARDIS’ hum changed, indicating she was chuckling at him in response, and another plate of biscuits appeared.
“If only I knew how she felt,” he mused to himself.
He’d taken her to New Earth, where he’d hoped they would have time to relax, she’d have time to get to know him again, the new him, and to realise he really was still him. As they’d stretched out on his coat on the apple grass she’d gazed across at him and smiled and he’d thought that maybe…
Of course then everything had gone pear shaped, and he did so hate pears. They’d ended up dealing with Cat nuns and a body-snatching human trampoline. Par for the course around him though, he realised. What if this was the last straw though? What if after today she wanted to go home?
“But…” he thought to himself, “if even part of what Cassandra had said was true…”
“You’ve been looking….you like it.” He ran over the rest of what Cassandra had said again, and couldn’t help but hope.
After returning to the TARDIS, Rose had excused herself, muttered something about a shower and sleep, and left the control room, almost at a run.
“Damn it, DAMN IT!” she thought to herself once she’d reached the safety of her room. She’d been trying to take her time to get her head around the whole new, new Doctor thing, to get to know him properly, and she’d been doing quite well.
When they’d returned to the TARDIS after Christmas, they’d chatted for a while, with him explaining regeneration, and they’d seemed to reach an agreement of sorts. Things hadn’t simply continued as they were before, but they’d both silently agreed time was all that was needed; at least she thought they had.
They’d decided on a trip, to give them both some time to relax, and they’d ended up on New Earth. It had been amazing, as it always was, new world, new sights and new smells. As they’d settled down on his coat on the apple grass to enjoy the view, and she’d looked into his eyes as he’d glanced across at her and smiled, she’d thought that maybe…
Before she’d really had time to explore her feelings any further though, they’d been heading off to see whoever it was who’d “called” the Doctor. They’d gotten separated, and Cassandra had barged in, taken control, and voiced all her private thoughts, in front of the Doctor no less. And she’d kissed him!
All Rose had been able to do was sit in the background of her own mind and listen. She had no real idea how this new Doctor felt about her yet, hadn’t really had time to figure it out, and was terrified of what his reaction would be to the things Cassandra had disclosed.
As she stood, alone in her room, she felt the tears welling up despite her best efforts. She’d more or less convinced herself now that after today their next destination would be the Powell Estate. He’d take her home. He was a new, new Doctor after all, and she wasn’t that sure yet that he really still wanted her around, let alone still felt…
So having convinced herself there was no way to fix things, at least not right away, she’d headed for the en-suite, turned the shower on and tried losing herself beneath it as the tears finally fell. Then she’d sat on the side of her bed, in her fuzzy pink pyjamas, combed her damp hair and gone over things again in her head.
“If only I knew how he felt,” she thought to herself.
He’s so different now, not just his looks, but his personality too. “Good different or bad different?” he’d asked at Christmas. “Just different,” had been her reply. She realised now that she’d not been totally honest with him then, because he was good different, and that was making things even more confusing for her.
She was attracted to him before, of course, big ears, daft old face and all, but now she only had to look at him and she felt… “Oh god, what am I going to do?” she asked aloud. She heard a change in the hum of the TARDIS, and a small plate of chocolate biscuits appeared on the bedside cabinet. “Thank you,” she said, running a hand over the wall, “although I’m not sure that’s the answer.”
He’d sat in the library for as long as he could bear it, just staring at the fireplace and desperately willing it to give him an answer, any answer.
Finally, after deciding that the TARDIS was not going to help him figure this one out, and the fireplace didn’t seem to have any ideas either, he’d headed off in the direction of Rose’s room. He had no idea what he’d do when he got there, didn’t even know if she’d be awake, but he knew he had to do something, say something, because if he didn’t…
When he’d arrived at her door, his initial courage failed him. He’d stared at the door for a few minutes, and then begun pacing back and forth in front of it trying to decide whether to knock or leave.
She could hear him just outside her door; the rubber soles of his chucks squeaked faintly on the corridor floor, and she suspected he was pacing. She contemplated just opening the door, but wasn’t all that sure she was ready to face him quite yet. Instead she got into bed, and hoped he’d go away, or come in; she really wasn’t sure which would be better at that moment. Then she heard a small knock. “Oh well, this is it then,” she thought.
“Come in,” she called.
The door opened and the Doctor peered around it. “How are you feeling?” he asked.
“Erm, I…ok I guess, why?” she replied, rather confused, because that was certainly not what she’d expected him to say.
He stepped into the room, “I…I was worried you might have a headache or something, after that business with Cassandra,” he replied, shifting nervously from one foot to the other.
“No, no. I’m fine, really,” she said, looking at him curiously. She was pretty sure that wasn’t what he’d expected himself to say either, judging by the fidgeting.
He moved a little closer, and finally noticed the redness around her eyes. “Are you sure you’re ok? You’ve been crying, haven’t you?” he asked.
“I’m fine, honest, just…emotional day, yeah?” she responded. It was a terribly inadequate explanation, but she couldn’t really come up with anything better at that moment. Didn’t want to try even, especially if it meant that he would just take her home once she did explain.
“Is that all?” he asked, as he moved to sit beside her on the bed, his hand resting on the covers beside hers, but not touching. He looked at her for a moment, and then decided he had to ask, even if he dreaded the answer.“You don’t want to go home, do you?”
“What? No! You don’t want me to go, do you?” she asked, hoping desperately that the answer would be no.
He let out the breath he hadn’t even realised he was holding, and reached for her hand. “Of course not, why would you even think that? I love having you with me, I thought you knew how I…” he couldn’t finish the sentence though, he was still unsure of her feelings, and saying too much could ruin everything.
“Well, of course I…well, I knew before, but now…well, things are different now, aren’t they?” She asked, wondering how they’d managed to end up talking about this, when it was clear neither had wanted to.
He could see it in her eyes now, the fear he’d send her away, and he knew her feelings really hadn’t changed, despite his own fears. “Only if you want them to be,” he replied softly, looking deep into her eyes and willing her to understand.
“Oh. So you still feel…” she asked, trying not to give away how desperately she needed him to say yes.
“Yes Rose, I still feel…” he replied, as he raised his free hand to the side of her face and ran his thumb over her cheek.
“Then…would you…stay with me tonight, like you used to?” she asked.
“There’s nowhere else I’d rather be,” he said, as he leaned forward to press his lips against hers.
In the background, the TARDIS hummed quietly to herself. If she’d had a head, she’d probably have shaken it in fond exasperation over the unnecessary worries of both her Time Lord, and her human. Instead she cleared away the plates, and hid the remaining biscuits away again, where the Doctor wouldn’t find them.
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This is a sequel to Feel. It’s not necessary to have read that in order to follow this story, but it might help.
Huge thanks to Mme_de_Pompadour who, in a moment of madness, agreed to BETA for me and as a result was a huge help in finishing this.
Oh and I did the screen grab from New Earth myself to use as a header image. This story has also been archived over at A Teaspoon And An Open Mind, here.