A/N: This is the second part of chapter 9, so please make sure you've read part 1 first!
It was dark by the time she returned home. She parked next to the bright yellow convertible that she knew would be there, but wasn’t quite able to open the door. After what she remembered tonight, a part of her didn’t really want to face what she was going to do. It involved two awkward conversations that she didn’t want to have, one with Dr Smith and one with her mother. She couldn’t imagine that either would go well.
Eventually she forced herself out of the car, and trudged her way up the drive and to the front steps. By the time she reached the door, it had already been opened, and Jackie stood there against the light and warmth of the hallway, looking part-annoyed, part-worried. Rose sighed, knowing that her phone conversation earlier that afternoon had worried her mum. She’d been half-saturated in the small yet momentous discovery that she’d made, and in an instant had made a decision. She needed to move out. She needed to go back to her flat and try to start living her own life again. She still had barely any memories, and much of her life was shrouded in mystery. But she didn’t need to treated like a child and wrapped in cotton wool. She needed to be an adult, and she needed her own flat.
She offered her mum a smile as she walked in, ignoring the inevitable twist of her stomach as she did. This wasn’t going to be fun.
Rose wondered, as she sat outside with her back against the glass door of the conservatory, if she’d started smoking again during the years she couldn’t remember. She could really do with a cigarette right now. She’d never seriously smoked, it was more of a rebellion thing when she was a teenager, and then became a drunken habit as she got older. She sighed and closed her eyes, the sting from the tears of the evening dulling as she did. She wasn’t sure if Jackie really understood her reasons. She wasn’t back to her old self, so in her mother’s eyes she still wasn’t well enough to live by herself. She tended to cry when her mother did, and Jackie had been exceptionally emotional, almost as if she were moving to another planet rather than to another part of London. But Rose needed her own space. So she’d cried, and she tried to explain and eventually her mum had calmed slightly. She was sure it would be fine in time, but for now, it was raw and painful.
She would have been happy to sit and stay as it got darker and colder, but the tell-tale sound of Converse hitting the ground reminded her that there was still another conversation to be had tonight. Her eyes remained closed as Dr Smith approached slowly, then sat down heavily beside her.
Rose inhaled the fresh air deeply once, then moved her head and opened her eyes. He wasn’t looking at her, his back resting against the glass and his face turned to the sky. She mirrored his position, staring into the dark, trying to make out the constellations that were hidden from her eyes in the lights of the city. They were silent for a few minutes.
“I heard Jackie yelling.”
Rose snorted. “I think everyone south of the river heard Jackie yelling.” Dr Smith cracked a smile, and the moment was lighter for a while. It didn’t last though, and Rose looked across at the garden, attempting to work out how to start this conversation.
“I’m moving out. Of here at least. Back to the flat.”
Rose was hoping for a reaction to this, but she didn’t get one. He barely even twitched, simply said, “Hence the yelling.”
It was like pulling teeth, trying to get him to ask her questions so that she wouldn’t have to come out and say everything. But it looked like she had no choice. Turning away from him and back toward the garden, she swallowed thickly, and then spoke.
“I remembered something today.” Out of the corner of her eye she saw his head move in her direction, but she didn’t move. “I’d been remembering it for a while, actually. I just didn’t really understand what it was until today.”
This was the awkward part. She finally turned and looked at him, mirroring his position with her head against the glass and turned to the side.
“You lied when you said we were nothing.”
He shrugged, looking anywhere but her as he spoke. “Didn’t you already tell me this?”
“Yeah, but I was going on a hunch then,” she confessed, watching as he frowned, trying to work out if he should take the bait. Finally he sighed and turned and shook his head.
“And now you’re not.”
“Because I love you.”
She expected the awkward silence. She expected her palms to start sweating despite the cold, her head to pound and her stomach to twist uncomfortably. She did not expect Dr Smith to laugh. Her hands began to shake as he knocked his head against the glass twice, still laughing, a bitter and harsh sound that seemed to echo inside her head. She watched numbly as he clambered to his feet, the laughter halting.
“You don’t love me.”
Rose stood too, her emotions flickering between angry, hurt and confused. She followed him as marched across the grass, the dew staining her shoes and seeping into her feet.
“How can you say that? How can you not remember?” she demanded as she walked, forcing him to stop and face her. She was surprised to see the same look on his face that he’d had all those weeks ago when she’d offered him the brown suit.
“Rose, you’re the one who doesn’t remember. I know exactly what you’re remembering, what you’re feeling. And I’m not the person of your memories, or the person you love.”
Anger was starting to trump all other emotions as Rose listened to his cryptic words. She shook her head in frustration, her arms flying out to the side.
“That makes no sense! I only have two memories of you, and you don’t even know what they are. Why are you assuming you understand this?”
He opened his mouth, ready to most likely once again argue against her, but he didn’t get a chance. Now that Rose had started, she couldn’t stop.
“I loved you. I say loved because I’m talking about before the accident, but it’s still there. It makes complete sense to me now, and I can’t believe that I even forgot something so...ingrained in my life. It’s why you drive me completely insane but I’m still completely fascinated by you. It’s why I avoid you but am disappointed when you’re not there. It’s why even though I have no memories of you, every single moment of my life comes right back to you. It’s so obvious, I’m so stupid!” Rose threw her hands up in frustration, the movement allowing her to wipe her eyes as they fell back down.
“I’m...” she hesitated, forcing herself to catch his eye. This was so much harder than she thought, trying to make sense of something, and someone she barely understood. “I’m sorry. I’m so sorry that I didn’t remember sooner. I can’t even imagine what it’s been like for you...it took me so long, and I know there’s still so much I don’t remember about you and about us. But I remember when I first realised that I loved you,” she said, and her mouth turned up at the corners without meaning to.
“When?” he asked, his voice carrying despite its low tone. She watched him as he stood, hunched in on himself, his hands in his pockets, looking as if she were about to tell him she were moving to the other side of the world. If it was really hurting him this much to hear her say something she’d expected him to be happy about, she almost wondered if she should tell him. But she’d already started, and for once he’d actually asked to hear something. So she did.
“It was at a party. I was standing out here. It was dark, and most people were inside. I don’t know why I was there, what occasion it was. I just knew I didn’t want to be there. And then, you came. I turned around and you were there,” she said, turning and pointing to the door they’d both been sitting against. “You were just standing there in the light, and you asked me if you were late. You weren’t just late, you were beyond late, I’d been so annoyed at you. Until you turned up, and said those words, and I just knew...”
She turned around back to face him, and jumped when she almost came face to face with him. She momentarily wondered how on earth he’d managed to walk to quickly and silently without her noticing, but that thought dropped from her mind when she noticed the intense look he was giving her.
“What was the other one?”
“What do you mean?”
“The other memory, Rose.” He clutched his fists to his sides, his gaze not moving from her face. “You said you had two memories of me, what is the other one?”
It took her a few seconds to recover from the way he spoke. He sounded so desperate, as if everything were riding on this memory of hers. Perhaps he’d worried they weren’t real before? She had to look away, the situation making her suddenly afraid.
“It’s not as clear as the other one. I’m sitting on a beach, and it’s either late or really early. It’s cold, and I’m...upset, and you’re there. I don’t really...”
But she didn’t get to finish the sentence. Before her mind could catch up with what was happening, she’d been pulled forward, and he was kissing her. It felt like heartbreak, and despair and love, and everything wonderfully painful in the world in one simple action. His hands were on her face, and hers had gone straight to his hair without conscious thought. She thought she could feel tears on his cheeks, but she was too overwhelmed by every sensation to really be sure.
When he pulled away, he lent his forehead against hers, his hands moving down until his arms were around her waist, and hers drifted grudgingly down to his back. He really did have great hair.
“You really do remember me,” he said, his voice sounding as if he didn’t actually believe it.
“You’re the only thing I do remember,” Rose answered, just about completing the sentence before she was kissed again.