Neither of them speaks at first, then:

'Working chameleon circuit, I guess,' she says, feigning nonchalance, hands in the pockets of her blue leather jacket. He doesn't start, because of course she knows all about chameleon circuits now, just as she knows all about cross-binary vortex intensifiers, and wormhole distorters, and parallax lens generators and more. She learnt all of it since he'd lost her. She'd spent her hours and days and months and years learning everything she could, clutching at the last wilting tendrils of energy as they died, and her hope that she'd ever get back to him died right along with them -

But that's not something he's going to allow himself to think about. Not today, because today's the day he finally gets his girl back.

The other one, that is.

He runs his hands over the bark of the squat, thick trunk before them. It is unusually warm – well, warm by the standards of your average tree.

'Hello there, old thing,' he croons, 'blending in just as you should.'

'How do we get in?' she asks, hair spilling over her shoulder as she turns to face him. 'I'm guessing you don't have a key yet.'

'No need,' he grins, and she raises her eyebrows. Turning back to the curved face of the trunk, he traces over the ridges of bark with his fingers until he senses an outline.

Ah yes.

The Doctor clicks his fingers, and the door of the TARDIS swings open.

'Since when did you pick up all the smooth moves?' Rose says.

'Ah you know,' he replies, 'I'm just brilliant,' and for a second it's almost like it's just them again. But still there is that distance between them that neither of them is quite sure how to cross. A moment later it doesn't matter, however, because then their wide eyes are fixed on the doorway and the dimly inviting light beyond.

He holds out a hand. Rose takes it, and they walk inside. Inside, into a room that is so impossibly familiar it hits him like a punch in the chest.

'But it's…' Rose trails off, shaking her head. 'How did…'

'She remembers us,' he finishes, and strokes the rough coral surface of the wall. 'Oh, you clever girl. Clever, clever girl.' The wall thrums back through his fingers, warm and familiar, and he ducks his head to give it a quick kiss.

'You,' he calls suddenly to the wide round room, gazing up at the soaring, studded buttresses, 'Are gorgeous. Have I ever told you that? Gorgeous.'

The room pulses in reply, central column groaning. When he looks at Rose her eyes are shining.

It's the TARDIS. It's their TARDIS.

However, it isn't quite the same, he realises. There are little differences, here and there – new patterns in the texture of the wall, a slightly different hue to the glow of the control room. And what are those on the console?

'New buttons! I love buttons.' He's already bounding up the gangway, and he swears his teeth are aching from the grin splitting his face. He puts on his glasses, and his fingers fly over the dials and switches. 'Not just new buttons. New bits. And bobs.' He grasps at a round clear ball. 'And new snowglobes! And if I'm not mistaken…' He hovers over a random twiddly lever that looks awfully like-

'That's been nicked off 'Bop It'', says Rose, pointing to the little plastic spring in question. 'She's taking the mick.'

'Just as I taught her,' the Doctor smiles, spinning around a screen, which displays the words WELCOME BACK, SPECCY AND BLONDIE. 'Oh, you are getting feisty,' he murmurs, giving the console an affectionate pat. 'Of course, she's not fully grown yet, still not much more than a baby really. So there won't be many other rooms at first; we might have to wait a few months for the swimming pool in the library. But she's done a fantastic job considering she's only just matured.'

'She couldn't have done it without you,' says Rose, and the pride for him in her voice, if that makes him feel almost ashamed for recognising his similar feeling of pride in himself, then it's a pleasant sort of shame.

'Yeah, well,' he avoids her gaze and pulls off a hatch, exposing a veritable spaghetti junction of wires in rainbow coloured miniature. 'Oops, not sure that was supposed to happen.' He automatically reaches for his sonic, but of course it's not there. Well, no matter, super glue will have to do. They're all set and ready to fly. Poking twice at a twinkling glass orb, he asks 'Where do you want to go, Rose?'

Rose says nothing. She says nothing for so long that he stops pressing buttons, and when he looks up, she won't look back.

'What do you think you're – what do you think he's doing, Doctor?' She bites her lip. ' You. The one out there, I mean.'

She's broken it. She's broken the silence that they never discuss, and what is he supposed to say?

'Well,' his voice not as casual as he'd been aiming for, 'The usual, I suppose. Chasing aliens. Well. Being chased by aliens. Fixing bits of machinery. Well. Blowing up bits of machinery. You know me, busy busy busy.'

She swallows, and nods, and for a second he hates; childishly, impotently, he hates that there is always going to be a part of her that wonders-

'So, Rose Tyler,' he cuts off his own thoughts, 'Where is it you want to go? Virgin voyage. Anywhere, anytime – a bit like 'The Goodies' I suppose.' His jumps around to the other side of the console. 'Barcelona! We never did make it to the planet Barcelona. Did I tell you about how the dogs there have no noses? Well you just wait till you see what the miniature elephants look like.'

He's getting carried away, lost in the moment, but he can't stop because he's erasing all his poisonous thoughts as swiftly as he can with the glee of the moment. He's here with her, and their time is their own now, and the whole of the universe is expanding away from them in the bright techni-coloured spectrum of possibility.

'Brand new TARDIS, Rose, brand new me. Well, new figuratively speaking at least, and it's all yours. So Captain Rose Tyler, whither shall we boldly go? Rose?'

Rose, Rose, Rose. Is he repeating that a lot? Well, he loves the sound of her name on his lips. Next time he might try shouting it, poking his head out of the TARDIS on some far off planet and yelling it, he might try singing it, or in fact he could get David Guetta on the line to mix up a bass and then he could rap it –

Again, Rose doesn't reply. Instead she simply stands, leaning back against the rail with an expression on her face that isn't quite a smile. That look – it's one can sense from his memory, but one that he, he, has never seen. He doesn't want to break the moment and lose it, but more than that, he wants to know what has brought it back.


'It's really you, isn't it,' she says softly, and there's something catching in the corners of her eyes that might be laughter but might be tears. 'I wasn't happy in five years. But it's you.'

Slowly, he lowers his hands from the console and walks across the grating towards her. If the side of his jaw ticks slightly it's the vestiges of a hurt that's fading fast, the last small traces of a frustration that's been dissipating since the moment on Daleg am Stranden when she chose him. Still, because he's not quite sure what this is, and how it's going to happen, when he cups the side of her face in his hand it's gently, seeking confirmation.

'I'm me,' he said, 'Though not genetically. That's all gone out of the window slightly. But I'm who and what I've always been.'

'And what's that?' she asks, and his eyes wander for a second to her slightly parted lips for a moment as she speaks. He can feel two hearts beating, but one of them is hers, and that's good.

'To quote Jason Mraz, I'm yours.'

For a moment she doesn't speak, and her lashes tremble. 'Will there be shooting stars? And comets?'

'And meteorites, and asteroids, and intergalactic space bananas.'

'Will there be aliens?'

'Oh, absolutely.'

She pulls him closer.

'Lots of aliens?'

'Tall thin wriggly ones, short fat hairy ones, and ones with three heads and an aunt called Kevin.'

Her lips twitch, and her voice drops to a murmur.

'Will there be ridiculously dangerous situations that'll give my mum a heart attack?'

'That can probably be arranged. And by probably I mean definitely.'

'Will there,' she says deadly seriously, 'Be running?'

'Oh yes.' He laces his fingers through hers, and swings their clasped hands back and forth idly. 'There'll be so much running, it'll make Mo Farah weep.'

Rose kisses him.

When she pulls back, her face splits into a wide smile at the stunned look on his. After 900 years and more than his fair share of surprise snogs this reaction would normally be a little embarrassing, but then again, this is Rose.

He clears his throat. 'Sorry Captain, I didn't quite catch where you said we were going.'

'I don't know,' she laughs, 'Anywhere. Oh my god, I don't care.' It's a tearful laugh, but it's a laugh all the same. 'I never cared, as long as it was somewhere with you.'

'Which is convenient,' he says solemnly, 'Because you're certainly not going off in this brand new TARDIS without me.'

This time it's him that kisses her, and the lights in the control room blush a happier shade of orange.