The Doctor knew Rose had a life of her own before they were reunited. She didn’t like to talk much about it, simply telling him snippets that she was studying and working at Torchwood. It was fine by him really, what mattered was that she was with him and they were not separated by the gaps of the universes. But he was lying if he said he didn’t want to know what Rose did outside of work and study.
It was by chance that he came upon the magazine, inconspicuously stacked with other trashy publications; except this one was printed on a much thicker paper, and the minimalistic design screamed elegance instead of reality dramas.
There, on the cover, was his Rose, dressed in an elegant black dress, flawless make up… and eyes that didn’t quite shine they way they did now.
"Rose Tyler: the Elusive Vitex Heiress Bares All." He deftly slipped open the magazine to the appropriate page and started skimming through the article. It was peppered with pictures of Rose in the same dress, though why the photographer did not ask her to smile at all during the photoshoot baffled the Doctor. Who wouldn’t want to capture her smile? They must’ve been crazy, or too pompously avant-garde to even think humans have emotions.
The piece talked about her mysterious reappearance (hidden since childhood for privacy), her study (she wanted to be an Astrophysicist and take the Zeppelins higher than they’d ever been before), her work (a government research facility that acted as a front for Torchwood), and finally, her love life. He stopped dead at the last one, not really wanting to pry. He hoped she had a good life, even without him, he told her as much, but he couldn’t help but be curious about what the article might say.
Losing his own battle of will he brought his eyes back onto the printed text, admiring the photo next to the paragraph, hoping that the writing was less sad and empty than her expression in the photo.
It started off simply, with Rose joking about all the Vitex events that she now had to attend after living twenty years in relative silence and all the men that she had to sort through because they only wanted her wealth. She segued out a bit to speak about her family and how blessed she was to have them. Finally, she mentioned that yes, there was a man in her life and she loved him very much and he, her.
So where was this man now? The interviewer asked.
He was away on a job. She hadn’t seen him for a year and a bit, but she knew he was out there, doing good for people, loving her just as she was loving him that very moment.
Are you sad that he was not around as much?
Of course. Every day she had thought of him, sent him her love though the stars. It was hard, sure, and communication was minimal (a lie, they couldn’t find away to communicate at all) but she had her obligation and he, his, and she couldn’t fault him for it.
She joked that the man loved playing pranks, and that she could hardly trace his location down for more than a few seconds at a time, despite all the resources within her reach (another lie, she couldn’t have known where he was), though she whispered to the interviewer that she was doing her best at tracking him down so she can surprise him.
What would you say to him when you two meet again?
Just a simple ‘Hello’, she said, and it would mean more to both of them than any declaration of love could be.
His single heart felt like it had stopped beating. His Rose had never stopped loving him, never stopped trying to find him. She deserved all of the credit for saving his life, this pink and yellow woman. When he was too busy running away, she was running ever closer to him, when he finally tripped, she was there to catch him, and when he was given the chance to repay her, he seized it with all his might and he vowed never to leave her again if she would have him.
The creak of the front door broke him out of his thoughts and he hurriedly put the magazine back in the stack, pretending like he was just reading his science journal on the couch. She gave him a kiss that he multiplied in kind, and the two didn’t leave the house at all, missing their dinner reservation.
He found the black dress in the huge room she called wardrobe a week later. The black fabric brought back memories of her solemn expression in the magazine and an idea started brewing in the back of the Doctor’s mind. A week later he was dressing himself up in a nice tailored suit when Rose came into the bedroom wearing the dress, a familiar expression on her face.
He made sure he complimented her in every way he could, short of taking the dress off, and grinned inwardly when she quirked her lips up in a small smile.
They ate their meal jovially in the swanky restaurant, all connotations about the dress almost leaving Rose. Afterwards they grabbed their wines and sat on the patio or the restaurant, enjoying the company of the live music and the other dancing patrons.
Rose knew something was up, the Doctor never really liked just sitting still like this. She could see him steel himself for something before turning to regard her with the most serious face that she’d ever seen.
"You were wearing this dress when you told the world you loved me," he started. The magazine article, she realised.
"So here I am, telling the world that I love you, while you are wearing it again." He pulled out a small box and Rose felt like her heart had stopped for a moment. The Doctor hesitated and blushed and Rose couldn’t help but pull out her best grin.
"Rose Tyler, will you do the honour of being my wif-"
He hadn’t even finished the question before she lunged at him, pulling on his lapels to give him a deep kiss, finishing it with a small exclamation of ‘yes’ in between their lips. Grinning like a lunatic, he pulled the ring out and slid it onto her finger, laughing at the identical look on her face.
He yelled the good news to the other patrons there and they all clapped in congratulations, the manager even got the live band to play a happy tune for the ecstatic couple who were now dancing merrily on the dance floor.
In between their jubilation the Doctor leaned down and whispered in Rose’s ear, “That dress looks better on you when you smile.”
She merely gave him a tongue-touched smile and whispered back, “That suit looks better on you when it’s on the floor.”
They ran out of the restaurant in record time, and in next month’s edition of Vanity Fair, the world finally got to meet the Vitex heiress’ mysterious fiancée. This time they were photographed hugging and laughing, just the way they wanted it to be.