Disclaimers, et al: I own no one and nothing in these stories. I just let them play for a bit before letting them go. Although if Chris Eccleston wants to stick around, I won't tell a soul…
Spoilers: PotW, I suppose. Pretty AU.
A/N: I spent all weekend torturing myself with repeated watchings of PotW. One of the reviewers on my story Beautiful Disaster sent me to see a Beautiful Disaster/Who video at YouTube (which was fabulous, by the way) and I saw a Who Knew/Who video while I was there. This song just struck a chord in me, especially with the video presented the way it was. It was very sad, very poignant and I'm not ashamed to say I burst into tears. I bought the song on iTunes this morning and I've been running around with this in my head all day at work. Anyone else feel like their best friend died? Or is it just me that's that lame? Anyway, I apologize for the super-angstiness, but I needed to get it out…
"Rose?" He knocked softly on the door before leaning his forehead against the cool wood. He knew she was in there, he could hear her shuffling. He could hear her sniffles, the little gasping sobs she gave when she cried. He stared hard at her door and he could almost imagine her curling into herself on her bed.
Somewhere, niggling in the back of his mind, the image haunted him. Like he'd seen it before.
He shrugged. He probably had.
He knocked again, jiggled the doorknob. They both knew he could use his sonic screwdriver and let himself in, but her locking him out was more a symbol than anything else. And one he'd respect, on top of it.
"Rose, let me in. Let me talk to you. Let me help."
"Haven't you done enough? Just leave me alone," came the watery reply, so soft he had to lean his ear closer to the door to hear it.
You took my hand, you showed me how
You promised me you'd be around
I took your words
And I believed
In everything you said to me
Rose rolled over onto her back, closing her eyes as her tears dripped down her cheeks, tickling her ears.
Regeneration? Cheating death?
"How? How is it better?" she whispered to no one in particular.
"Rose," he called again. She looked at the door, but she couldn't call out to him. Somewhere, deep in her grieving heart, she knew that he wanted to help. He wanted to offer comfort like no one else could.
But he couldn't.
It wasn't him. It just wasn't.
He said he remembered most things, but it wasn't the same. It felt like a complete stranger knowing your life story.
It felt wrong.
He dressed differently, he acted differently, he talked differently, he reacted differently to things she said. He didn't have the same manic grin, or that same, haunted steely-eyed stare.
He wasn't her Doctor anymore.
If someone said three years from now
You'd be long gone
I'd stand up and punch them out
Cause they're all wrong
I know better
Cause you said forever
It was her fault, all her fault. If she'd listened to him, maybe he'd still be alive.
No. He'd be dead, completely gone. Killed off by the Daleks and she'd be in London, besides, never knowing the truth.
Your Doctor may be gone, a little voice told her. But you saved him. He's alive because of you.
I killed him! Rose groaned with the pain of her thoughts, rolling onto her side once more, pressing her fist to her mouth in a vain attempt to stop the flow of tears. If I hadn't looked into the Time Vortex…
You sacrificed yourself to save him and he did same for you.
"I love him," she whispered. "Why did I realize it too late?" But that was stupid. How could she have enjoyed the time they had together. The hard thumping heartbeats her heart had given at the simplest brush of his sleeve against hers. The quickening of her breath when those electric, ice-blue eyes met hers.
Had he loved her?
She liked to think so. He'd never said the words, but words were only words. He'd told her a long time ago that he didn't do domestic. But wasn't that what they were? What they had been? They lived together, they looked after each other. Held hands more often than not and he'd even begun to include her in the decision-making, putting the alpha male routine on the back burner.
Why did it have to go so wrong right when it got so good?
Remember when we were such fools
And so convinced and just too cool
I wish I could touch you again
I wish I could still call you friend
I'd give anything
He studied her thin, drawn face. She was pale, her eyes red-rimmed. She'd made an effort by finally emerging from her room, he'd give her that, but the minute she'd come into the control room, she'd been drawn to the spot where she'd last seen him and he first met her.
He must've been a lucky bloke to have someone that loved him that much. Shame he couldn't remember much of it.
He knew he'd loved her enough that his heart ached at the sight of her tears. That he would do anything to make it better.
And he knew what would make it better. He was just waiting for her to ask.
When someone said count your blessings now
For they're long gone
I guess I just didn't know how
I was all wrong
They knew better
Still you said forever
Rose stared at the spot where she'd last seen him. The Doctor, the new one, he sat in his captain's chair, staring at one of the screens. She knew he was uncomfortable, but she didn't feel anything, didn't care.
The real Doctor, her Doctor, had simply disappeared. What sort of closure was that?
"Bloody fucking Time Lords," she grumbled.
"What was that?"
His accent, the soft, cultured accent with just a trace of something else echoed dully in her ears. He couldn't even have sounded the same, could he? He couldn't have left her anything other than a battered leather coat she couldn't bear to look at?
An idea crossed her mind and she glanced at the Doctor out of the corner of her eye. He was looking at the screen again, tapping something out on the keyboard.
Her mum had always told her not to take things for granted. Why hadn't she listened? Already the gamboling lilt of his voice was fading just a little in her mind. She couldn't quite smell the spicy scent of his cologne anymore, couldn't quite remember exactly the way his eyes looked when he gave that manic grin.
She cleared her throat and turned to face the Doctor. He raised his eyebrows a split second before looking up at her.
"I know I seem ungrateful," she said quietly. "But I hope you can understand."
He didn't say anything, just sat back and watched her. It unnerved her. She took a deep breath, let it out.
"I know you're in there. The Doctor I knew. My Doctor. I know it's you. But you're different. So different from the one I...I knew." She surreptitiously wiped her eyes, looked back at the spot that drew her.
"I told you, Rose. I warned you I might be different."
She nodded, "I know. But I didn't have much time to adjust, yeah? Truth is, this is almost worse than if he'd…you'd…um."
"Died?" He stood and came over to where she was sitting, crouched down in front of her. "I know. I'm not insulted."
"I don't understand why I can't just get over it."
"I have a feeling I was a bit unfair to you. That I didn't tell you." She shook her head and he muttered something under his breath.
"I love you, you know? And I know you, who you are now, don't feel the same way. But I know he did." He didn't say anything, just kept his eyes on hers.
"The truth is…I think I need…I think I should…" She trailed off, took a deep breath. "I want to go home."
I'll keep you locked in my head
Until we meet again
Until we meet again
And I won't forget you my friend
His hearts thudded inside his chest and he stood, taking a step back. That certainly hadn't been what he was expecting. He ran a hand through his longish, unkempt hair.
"If you want to go home, Rose, I'll take you home."
"I'm so sorry."
"No. Don't apologize. This isn't right for you. You haven't been you, either, although you have better reason. As long as I'm here to remind you, you won't be able to forget what he did…what I've done. I'll take you back, if it's what you want."
"I can't have what I want," she said quietly. "What I want is—"
"Him, I know. I wish there were something I could do." He turned toward the console and headed around the his keyboard, tapping something in with two fingers. "You'll never be able to put it aside, Rose. I understand."
But you can give her what she wants, he told himself. He remembered enough of her, of his time with her before that he was willing to do it.
He looked at her, waiting until she looked up at him again.
"It'll be all right. You'll see." He smiled.
If someone said three years from now
You'd be long gone
I'd stand up and punch them out
Cause they're all wrong and
The TARDIS began to rattle with more intensity than she'd ever felt before. The ship gave a particularly hard shudder and she was jolted out of her chair, skidded a little before she managed to grab onto the rail of the console.
"Just hold on, Rose. This is going to hurt." There was a grim determination in his voice, a fierceness she'd yet to see from this Doctor. The TARDIS gave a hard jump and Rose felt her arms yank against their sockets as she was flung back, holding onto the rail with all her might.
That last kiss
Until we meet again
"Doctor, where are we going? Why is it so rough? We weren't that far from 2005, were we?"
"I've never quite done this," he muttered. "So just hold on."
And then she could see snatches of her Doctor in him. The single-minded intensity in doing his job. The way he tried to put up a front to make her believe things were better than they really were. She felt a strange twist in her heart.
And then the TARDIS began to settle, the shudders began to slow, lengthen and she released her death grip. They were both panting a little when they met eyes and the Doctor grinned again. A wide grin for this Doctor, but just a shadow of the old Doctor's grin.
And time makes
I wish I could remember
But I keep
You visit me in my sleep
"Take care of yourself, Rose."
"Doctor? I…" He came around the console and wrapped her in a tight hug. She felt the tears well up again and clung tightly to him. "I'm sorry, Doctor. I'm just a stupid ape, with stupid ape emotions."
"You didn't fail me," he said, pulling back and looking down at her. "You just made me see what was right." He kissed her forehead and she closed her eyes for the briefest second. She heard the creak of the TARDIS door behind her and sighed, knowing it was Mickey or her mother, back to brush off her grief once more.
"Oi!" Her eyes shot open and she stared at the Doctor ahead of her, but he was looking over her shoulder. "Are you going to let her go or is this just a visit?"
"No…it can't…" She closed her eyes again.
"Give her a minute," the Doctor murmured. She heard a familiar shuffling and letting out a deep breath, opened her eyes to look at the Doctor.
"I'm not imagining things? You heard him, too?"
"Yes, Rose." He looked bemused. He gave her a quick kiss on her cheek and then nudged her around.
"This isn't possible." The man she'd been grieving over for the past weeks stood against the closed TARDIS door, lanky legs crossed at the ankle, arms crossed over his chest, eyebrows raised.
"Oh, come now. Everything I've taught you?"
"Everything you taught me tells me this is impossible. You died. I saw you die."
"Regenerate," the new Doctor muttered. She shrugged a shoulder. Same thing in her book.
"What does TARDIS stand for, Rose?" She almost didn't think about his question, so caught up was she in staring at him, in hearing his voice. Had his eyes always been that blue? His shoulders that broad? His ears that big?
She felt a small grin quirk her lips and cleared her throat, though her voice was still thick with tears when she spoke.
"Time And Relative Dimension In Space."
"Right. A time ship."
She turned to look at the new Doctor where he stood behind her, hands tucked in his pockets. "I'm in your past?"
"No." Her Doctor said. "I don't have a past. I'm not woven into any one particular time line."
"So no paradox." The two Doctors exchanged a glance. "What?"
"If you go with him…when you go with him," the new Doctor corrected himself. "I won't exist."
"You…won't exist? You'll just disappear?"
"I won't have regenerated yet," her Doctor said.
"You'd sacrifice yourself for me. Again."
"And again and again, Rose. You're worth fighting for." The new Doctor's words so echoed Jack's, she felt the tears rise up again.
I miss you
"Go with him, Rose." She looked at him again before hugging him tight.
"Thank you, so much," she whispered. She held him close for a moment before stepping back. She looked over her shoulder at her Doctor.
He held out his hand to her, raised his eyebrows in a gesture so typical she almost giggled. He saw the mirth cross her face and one of his manic grins crossed his.
She took his hand.