A/N: This was a plot bunny, I'm afraid to admit. I was in the car for a few hours and this idea popped into my head, bugged me, and then refused to leave. So in an hour or so, I polished it off and wrote it up. Nothing big, just an outlet for my thoughts.

Characters: The Doctor (Ninth), Rose Tylor, Captain Jack

Disclaimer: I own none of these characters. And if I did, I could never come up with the fantastic storylines, so it's probably just as well :P

Summary: Set in the penultimate episode. The Doctor has a glimpse of a sudden alternate future. A split second. And then it's torn away from him. Ninth Doctor.

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Did She Know?

It was a second. No, not even that. A tenth – a hundreth – a millionth of a second. That's a lifeltime, he had heard. To the Doctor, a second was an eternity; he could save life, the universe and everything in less time than that. But it wasn't enough to save her.

In the split second when she, Rose Tylor, began running towards him, he could see it all. Her life. His life. All of it. He could see it before it happened, knew that it would. But in that fraction of a second there was suddenly more. He could see what should have happened.

He would run for her, protect her, call out for her. He would lunge his entire body towards hers, his heart racing, his stomach clenching and fear running through his veins. They would hit the floor, hard, together in a crumpled mess. Jack would fight free of the guards holding him and try to lure the Anne-droid away.

But he, the Doctor, would stand victorious and watch as 'Captain Jack' pointed his gun towards the hunk of metal. He would fire, and everything would be all right. But before he did, Rose would sit, stunned from the sudden impact with the floor and blink at the Doctor – her Docter – standing over her, protecting her, and never letting her go.

"Doctor," she would choke, fear and relief hitting her both at once. Tears would force themselves to her eyes; but he couldn't see. He was turned away from her, seperating her from the droid. Protecting her.

"Go," he would say calmly yet commandingly, not taking his eyes from the droid. "Go, Rose. Run. I'll be with you in one second."

Perhaps it was the way he would have said it, but Rose would suddenly have realised something right then and there. She would have realised what he was saying, what he was trying to say, and would finally know that: yes. He did love her. She would realise that he couldn't explain it and that he didn't really want to. She would realise that he loved saving the universe time and time again, but that he would give it all up for her. And she would finally realise what it was that made him keep his eyes on her longer than he should have, what made him keep his hand in hers even though he was terrified to hold on. He was the Doctor. Nothing scared him. Not even death. But he was scared of her, scared of his own little Rose – the one he had been proud to share an entire universe with.

He was scared of how she made him feel, but was more terrified by the thought that he could lose her. She couldn't regenerate, or protect herself with a forcefield. Without him, she couldn't even time travel. She should have been nothing – insignificant. And to the universe, she was. Yet the thought of having tp survive without her scared the hell out of him. The tiniest speck of human life? Maybe. Worth more than the entire universe? All the universes? Definitely. Love – he finally understood it. All thanks to her.

In that second, while she was lying on the floor staring up at him – her hero, her saviour – she would have realised it all. She would have understood. She would have known exactly what he could never say. And they would survive.

That was what should have happened. Eternal happiness should have started with that millionth of a second. His forever. But it never came. Too late did he realise that they could have had it all. It could have been him and her – the Doctor and Rose – together as one. Fantastic. He saw it all, what should have been. Ah, the wonders of being a Time Lord.

But then he saw what actually happened. In the tiniest fraction of a second, in the time it took him to see what should have happened, she disappeared. Right in front of his eyes. She was gone. Destroyed. Exterminated.

Jack screamed blood rage. The guards were still holding him, even though he was writhing against their grip. But the Doctor couldn't see, couldn't hear. His eyes kept in the same place where Rose had been not seconds before. If he willed it, she would come back. He was a Time Lord, for pity's sake – the Time Lord. He could change the world, and he would do it. For her. But he didn't need to. Because she wasn't gone. She was right there, hidden from him. But she wasn't gone. Losing her meant the end. It meant there was nothing. Nothing else could matter. So she wasn't gone.

And then his eyes dropped to the floor. And his hearts – each of them at once – shattered and exploded with grief. He collapsed to the floor, not even fighting back the stinging tears in his eyes. He reached out and felt the dry dust that had been Rose Tylor crumble in his fingers. He watched it fall to the ground like a waterfall. His eyes widened, and he felt sick.

She was nineteen. Sweet. Pure. Life. She was life – he had sworn to protect her. And he had failed. This was all that was left of the woman who had given him life. A pile of dust. Ash. Nothing. Images of what should have been crowded in his mind's eye. He should have saved her. He should have died for her. He should have killed the universe, all for her.

He wasn't even aware of the fierce and strong hands of the guards around his wrists. He couldn't hear the screaming or see the suffering. All he could hear, all he could see, all he could feel, damn it, was her. What she should have been. What they should have been. He bit back the tears that snarled from inside. He knew it should have been different and that he could have saved her. He could have changed it all if he had been that millionth of a second smarter, that millionth of a second quicker. He knew how it should have ended. He knew better. She should have – would have – known everything. His daily battle. His endless struggle. How she was the only one that mattered in any of it.

The Doctor, lone survivor of the Time War and victor for his people, could not fight any more. He poured out his soul in an endless stream of tears, with the knowledge that he had failed. Because she was gone – no more. She had never known how he felt. She could have and shoud have: but she never did. Now, she never would. It was all his fault; and he would never forgive himself.

End