She loves him. The Doctor, her Doctor. (Although all Doctors, whether she’s met them or not, feel like her own.) Of course she loves him. She loves his daft smile when he’s playing with Tony, loves how excited he gets when he does something simple successfully like the wash. (The first time they’d had to call in someone to vacuum the suds out of Jackie’s expensive shag carpets. Jackie still reminds him about it.) She loves how he holds her hand as he’s falling asleep and how he still wakes her up from the nightmares. Because even though it’s been a year, the void still hasn’t left her.
She’s happy, really she is. But that hadn’t of stopped her from noticing the date on the calender as it approached. It hadn’t of stopped her from driving out to Norway at five am, when everyone was still asleep. (Yet the kettle was on with her favorite mug set next to it, and Rose knows her mum too well to think it was an accident.)
She’d driven to the beach in silence, quietly laughing to herself at one point over how many times she’d been on that road.
There’s a knot in her stomach when she arrives. The slam of the car door makes her nerves jump, and she shoves her hands deep into her pockets when the chill in the air goes to her bones.
The air smells the same. The stones are the same, the waves move in the same direction. For a moment, Rose thinks if she looks to her left she’ll see herself standing there. Crying, aching, left empty and alone. Or running, running to him and away from him, and taking his hand because she’d needed something to hold onto.
She finds a rock to sit on and thinks about him. Lets herself, because most of the time she can’t. It doesn’t feel fair to the man she’s with, even if sometimes he looks at her as if to say ‘It’s alright’.
She’s still mad at him, for not giving her a choice. For not saying goodbye. She still wonders what might have happened if her Doctor didn’t exist. She wonders if he would have brought her back her anyway, and that hurts too much to think about, so she moves on.
She wonders what he looks like, who he’s with. She wonders if he’s happy, if he could let himself be, not just because of her, but because he never could.
She lets herself wish, one last damn time, that she could say goodbye properly.
She doesn’t cry, because this is the last time she’ll ever be here and she’s not going to leave once more crying.
Rose watches the sun rise, watches the way the edge of it creeps over the horizon until it’s all she can see. It’s the way the thought of him comes to her, suddenly and slowly at once, until it’s all she is. She’s come here to say goodbye, but she knows she’ll never really ever let him go.
When she gets back to the car, he’s there, leaning back against Pete’s old Jeep.
He looks up, eyes big and round, not saying anything. Rose just shakes her head. “How’d you know?”
His lips curve up slightly. “Rose. You’ve been looking at the calender every day for a month like the end of the world was coming.”
Rose grins, teasing. “Yeah, that only happens once and I was already there.” But the Doctor doesn’t smile back, just looks at her with worried eyes. “Why didn’t you come to the shore?”
“I didn’t come to intrude, just to make sure you were okay.”
Rose walks closer to him, tugging on his scarf. “What if I had stayed longer?”
Now the Doctor smiles. “I brought soup.”
Rose laughs, and lets herself fall into him, breathing him in. He puts his arms around her, and she holds onto him, tighter.