When All is Said and Done (Half-past Seven, Christmas Morning)

There's a moment, right before it happens, when she thinks Maybe it won't, maybe things will be different this time but she's a goddamn fool if she ever saw one.

That moment changes everything.

There's something to be said for lies. Or maybe not lies, but fairytales, myths or fabrications, false truths covered in fancy wrapping and shining like presents under the Christmas tree. She remembers the excitement she felt in those hours before dawn, catching glimpses of striped paper and candy canes and it was all so wonderful and bright. It was like that, then, when she took his hand and he pulled her in, bright and shiny and new, everything so splendid and wonderful.

How quickly illusions fade. The toys don't shine so brightly the next morning and the tree is already dying right before your eyes, brown needles littering the carpet and getting stuck in bare feet. It's a momentary prick, a sadness and loneliness and longing for those toys that weren't under the tree. That's how she feels, expectations not being met and the warm glow around her fading to a dull grey.

It's like that moment when you realize that Father Christmas isn't real, that's what this is.

She doesn't remember most of it, when she burned like the sun. She remembers flashes, remembers how it hurt and how his lips tasted, salty like chips and sweat and spice like that scent she smells every time she's near him, this version and the last. He saved her because he could. Regeneration – some kind of fancy party trick. He could do it because she couldn't. Besides, it would have happened anyway - her Mum would have killed him if he brought home a burnt-up corpse.

It's always about power, what he can do and they cannot. Saving people – saving her, and now that French woman – is all about his powers as a Time Lord. He can indulge in his whims, can indulge in people following him around or tagging along because he knows he can leave them whenever but he really wouldn't mind the company at the moment, it's lonely in space.

Company. Companions. Sarah Jane was right.

She kicks her foot, stubbing it against the metal console. There's glass scattered around her feet, and Mickey's looking confused and pushing buttons that might kill them if they're lucky.

Does this happen in space travel? Leave one timeline, enter another and die there? The people left behind, those you've sworn you loved yet left, they never know?

Leaving is so easy when you're the one walking away.

She's realizing how hollow everything is when Mickey starts to pace and she's so sorry she ever brought him here and so glad he's next to her because she doesn't want to die in space alone. It's a jealous thought, something greedy she's harboring to herself because all the time windows are blown out by the Doctor rushing in to save the day, but if he's being selfish, she can be selfish too, right?

"We can figure this out," he says, traces of hope in his words and she shrugs her shoulders. She doesn't want to figure this out. She would prefer death to having to look in the eyes of her betrayer again. Strong words but with everything that's happened these last few days, it's like

"Rose," he says, leaning down in front of her, "we can get out."

She remembers what she liked so much about him when they first started dating. He's reliable, and he's resourceful, things her father never was and her Mum can never be. But Mickey, oh, he's always been there, with his helping hand and his brain and even if he's the tin dog in their entourage - oh, wait - he's still useful in so many ways.

This boy's a keeper, Rose Mum had whispered when she first introduced him properly as her boyfriend, and she remembers smiling foolishly, much the same way she smiled when the Doctor took her hand on Christmas and –

"Yeah," she agrees. "We can figure this out." Her smile is as shaky as her legs as he pulls her to her feet.

You were looking the voice of the Doctor, the words of Cassandra, rings in her head. You like it. How can you not look, when things change? You need to know what's different, what's stayed the same. You need to understand that it may be a new body but it's the same man.

She's not so sure it's the same man and if it is, she doesn't know if she wants to be near him anymore.

She'd be lying if she said she didn't notice, didn't like what she saw. This version's younger and more attractive in her eyes than the last. There's something about a pinstripe suit and the way he wears it that she enjoys watching.

That doesn't stop her from kissing Mickey, pushing him against the console, hips against hips and it's been ages since they've done this. It's familiar territory, the way that he tastes and the way that he feels under her hands, the way he likes to nip at her earlobe and whisper things in her ear that make her shiver.

She remembers reading something back around the time that of Princess Di's death about grief and sex, and how the two went together so well. As he's pulling her shirt over her head and kissing along her bra straps, she things about how true that is, how absolutely true that the human instinct seeks comfort in feeling something other than pain when it's with someone you care about. She loves Mickey, she really does but she was beginning to think she loved him more but oh, wait, Mickey's here and now and he's not coming back for them.

They don't get all their clothes off because she stops and tells him the clocks might return even though it's been two hours alone with no interrupts but she doesn't want to be caught with her pants down, so to speak. It's hard and against the wall, cold metal on her back and warm i familiar /i body pressed to her front and when she come she kisses him to forget about everything.

Afterwards, they pull their clothes back on and he holds her, kissing her forehead and brushing her tear away.

"I'm so sorry," she whispers into his neck.

"I chose to come."

"I know," she says. "I'm still sorry."

She hugs the Doctor when he returns because she knows now that they can leave this place. It's a false satisfaction, a weird feeling in the pit of her stomach and when he turns to run back to the fireplace she fears, for a moment, that he'll leave them again. But he doesn't, and hours later, once they're in space and far away from that ship, he wanders into the kitchen, looking a bit despondent.

She's sipping tea, feeling awful for all the horrible things she thought about him but grateful all the same that he's come back to them.

"You alright?" she asks as he fiddles with the tea kettle and he jolts.

"Yeah, fine, fine." He pauses, a small grin creeping out from the corners of his mouth. "You thought you were going to die."

"Yeah, just a bit," she replies and smiles because he's automatic, she can't help it.

"You humans, you're so predictable when you think you're near death-"

"Don't," she says, cheeks burning because she knows what he's about to say so he stops, and smiles, and slides into a chair next to hers. "Besides, it's not like you didn't have fun in France."

He doesn't say anything, just smiles and stares at his hands folded on the table. He's a mystery, a million of them wrapped up in shiny paper which her hands itch to unwrap. She wants, in many ways, to know him better but she knows she can't, that this is transitory and she'll be gone soon, like all of them. She can't win his love, not like Reinette – she's not sure she understands what happened there but that's fine, she'll figure it out eventually – but she's here, and for now she thinks that'll be enough.

She clears her throat. "Where we goin' now?" she asks and he smiles, brighter than the sun and Christmas morning.