kalleah: (dw doctor smiles at rose)
[personal profile] kalleah
It's been a long time since I posted anything, but it has always been my plan to keep writing Ten II and Rose in The Journey After series.  This is set vaguely around the timeframe of Vintage. Thanks to [livejournal.com profile] nonelvis for some brief beta work a million years ago when I started this. Spoilers for Journey's End, of course, but no other warnings.

Title from Erin McKeown's song "Life on the Moon."

Maybe someday we can live on the moon
but because we can, doesn't mean we have to


...

When the bustle of the Tyler family became too much, the Doctor often retreated to the low brick wall overlooking the garden. Rose learned to look for him there first – not in the library, which Pete kept decorated with too many unread books, or the kitchen, where Eleanor spoiled him rotten with nibbles, or the guest room they shared when they stayed over. The wall was low enough to sit on, high enough to let the Doctor's long legs dangle, and afforded a view of the night sky over this new London, although the lights of the city obscured all but the brightest stars.

Tonight, he seemed lost in contemplation of a three-quarters moon draped with gauzy clouds, and when she hopped up on the wall to sit beside him, he jumped.

"Sorry," she said, grasping his arm. "I didn't mean to –"

"It's all right. I should be paying more attention." He smiled, teeth gleaming in the moonlight, and as usual, she couldn't help but smile back at him. Her hand relaxed and slid down his arm to fit into his.

"I've always liked your moon," he observed after a moment.

Your moon. Still not our moon, or even the rather more impersonal this moon. She thought – well, that would come in time, wouldn't it, or would he always be a little distant, a little not quite part of this world? She wasn't sure which one she should wish for. "It's nice," she said noncommittally.

"Hmm. It's more than nice. It's – well, it's quite perfect. Not many small, rocky planets have moons this large, and it's been to your benefit. You get a stable axis of rotation for one, tides for another." He picked at a loose piece of brick on the wall.

"What were you really thinking about?" she asked softly when he didn't continue.

It took a moment for him to answer. "I was thinking … I'll never see another moon. Just this one. Trying to get used to the idea. You know." He glanced over at her briefly.

"I remember the first time I saw another moon," she offered in return. "It was darker, and bigger, and sort of – rockier, I guess, which sounds daft but that's all I could think about. Then I looked around and there were two more little lumpy ones, and I'd never seen anything like them." He had turned to face her as she spoke. "I don't even know the name of that planet." Not that she could point to it on a star chart in any case, or even that Earth astronomers would know it by the name the Doctor shared with her – but he had given it to her as a gift, and she had tucked it away into the back of her mind and forgotten.

"Reciba," he said. "The big moon is Lua and the little ones are Kitta and Stot."

"How far away are they?" she asked.

The ghost of a smile touched his lips briefly. "So far away that right now, Reciba's sun is still a gas cloud. We should be able to see where it will be someday from the Southern hemisphere. Then, even when the star forms, the light it creates won't make it here for several million years. Even that," he indicated the stars overhead with a wave of his hand, "is just an image of what used to be. All that light traveling so far to reach us, and the star behind it could be dead, or gone nova, or collapsed to a black hole, and we'll never know."

"It's like time travel," she said. "That's the past, isn't it, up there?"

"Oh yes, it certainly is," he answered.

"Does it scare you? Not knowing the future?"

"Oh, I never knew the future, Rose, not really. Not my future, anyway, or yours." He sighed, fidgeted, and sighed again. "Yes, it scares me a great deal." He slid his arm around her, drawing her close. "Stargazing makes me maudlin, it seems."

"I wish it didn't." She felt immediately selfish for the statement. "I'm sorry – I didn't mean it like that – I just wish it didn't make you sad."

"Maudlin, not sad," he corrected, stroking her arm with his hand. "I'm indulging in a bit of self-pity. I'll get over it."

She untangled herself from his embrace. "Doctor," she said with intensity, "I don't want you to get over it. I want you to be happy."

"But I am happy." He turned to face her, his dark eyes wide with surprise, and she blinked back in confusion. "I contain multitudes, as they say. I can be a little bit maudlin and a quite a bit happy at the same time. Honestly. I'm all right."

"I never believed you when you used to tell me you were all right. I thought about that a lot after – after I came here. All those times I could tell you were hurting and I just let it go, because I was afraid you'd be angry or drop me off somewhere or get more hurt because I made you talk, but I should have pushed."

He considered that, rolling his eyes up to study the moon again. "It wouldn't have mattered. I would have deflected you somehow."

"But I could have asked. I wasn't being a very good friend."

"You have got to be kidding me." His look was familiar, full of exasperation, even if his words were pure Donna Noble. "You've spent a lot of time thinking about this, haven't you? What were you going to do, tie me to the console until I talked? Rose, it took me losing you to even think about talking to someone candidly and then even after that it took, well, it took a lot of persuasion."

"Someone tied you to a chair?" she said dryly.

"Well, a chair was involved. Never mind. That's not the point. I promise you, I'm not just telling you I'm all right. Tonight is a matter of remembering what is no longer in my life, and acknowledging what is." He brought up his hand to cup her cheek and stared into her eyes. "It's worth losing a few moons." Then, more quietly, "You're worth it."

"You're trying to distract me." Considering that she had leaned her whole body into the gentle contact with his hand, it was probably working.

"No, I'm trying to reassure you," he said, rubbing his thumb against her skin. "Besides, didn't I say it's quite a perfect moon? I mean, if I'm going to be stuck looking at just the one, it's a very, very fine example." His face came closer, and his words whispered against her lips, the barest fraction from a kiss. Their noses touched, and neither of them closed their eyes, even if Rose's view was blurred and distorted at this short range. She could see the fuzzy outline of his pale face and the glimmer of moonlight in his eyes.

She closed the gap between them and saw his lids fall closed as they kissed, even while she still watched him. His mouth was warm and soft, undemanding, caressing. His fingers slid up along her cheek, past her hairline, not pulling her closer but touching with feather-light pressure. It was the sort of quietly romantic kiss she'd dreamed about when she thought it could never happen, that he would never let it happen, and now here they were, in the light of the last moon either of them would ever see.

She closed her eyes, too.
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September 2012

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