Summary: The story of how Rose died. An idea thought up that may be one of the possible reasons for Rose leaving. Most of the story itself is Rose and the Doctor and her death. Getting out of Torchwood Tower was just something that got in the way. And he leaves. Again.

Words: 8,351

Doctor Who Original Characters: Tenth Doctor, Rose Tyler, Jackie Tyler, Mickey Smith

Disclaimer: I own none of the Doctor Who characters, the BBC owns them all. Believe me, it's something I cry about on a daily basis.

Story Rating: K plus, not really much wrong with this story. It's just a little sad.

Genre: Angst, Drama, Romance, Tragedy.

Spoilers: Ninth and Tenth Doctor series, particularly Ten and "Army of Ghosts".

A/N: Just a small idea that bit me and wouldn't let go. I just wanted to see how well it went down rather than actually writing a full story. Perhaps a little OCC, but this wasn't meant to be a story, just a portrayal of a possible idea. We'll see :)


Memories


This is the story of how I died. It started easy enough. I s'pose they all do.

For the first nineteen years of my life, nothing happened. Got through school okay – not much to show for it 'cept some poor GCSEs and a resentful ex-boyfriend. Ended up a shop-girl in some local store. Lived with my Mum in the council estate I'd grown up in my entire life. Never really thought much 'bout anything. Got up, went to work, came home, went out and got drunk with my friends, started the whole thing again the next morning.

I hated it. I didn't know I hated it, but I did. I wasn't goin' anywhere. I wasn't doin' anythin'. I was jus' another face in the crowd, another lonely, bored human on the way to nothing.

Then I met this man – he's called the Doctor. Never did find out his real name. I never thought to ask when I had the chance; and now I can't. But anyway, he was the one who saved me. He took me out of a world that I didn't belong in an' took me all around the stars. Sounds strange, I know – but it happened.

I don't know when it all really started, or when I first knew that I'd go travelling with him. It just seemed so right all the way through... T

here was this basement in the shop I used to work in. I went down there to look for my boss, and ended up being surrounded by all this livin' plastic things. Autons, the Doctor called 'em. I thought that was it. Rose Tyler, died in the basement of some shop 'cause of some nerdy school-kid's prank gone wrong. What a story that would've made.

But the Doctor wouldn't have me die. I didn't know him at the time; had no idea who he was or what he did. But suddenly there he was, right next to me, taking my hand and pulling me away. We ran together for the first time, an' I didn't even know it.

As he told me later on, we never did stop running. All around galaxies and universes and stars and planets. We came back here a lot, too – he said it was 'cause he was attached to the place. He kept savin' it and savin' it, scaring away all the aliens that ever threatened our useless little planet. I'd never known there were so many.

I'll always remember this one time, Christmas Day. He'd just regenerated – it's a thing that he does, right; he calls it a way of cheatin' death – and out he walks of the TARDIS, his ship, like he owns the whole world. We're stuck on this alien flying land thing, surrounded by ugly crinkly things who're brandishing whips and shoutin' death like there's no tomorrow. So out steps the Doctor, dressing gown and all, and sparks off some speech about how these Sycorax, the aliens, can't invade the Earth 'cause it goes against all sorts of constitutions. They don't fall for it, of course – who would? It looked like the end... Though come to think of it, it almost always does when the Doctor's around.

And then something happened. Something changed, right in front of me. He lost the joking and the kidding and he stepped up to them all, after killin' their leader, and stood up for us. For all of us – the whole planet. And then he finished with the words: When you talk of the Earth, then make sure that you tell them this: It - is – defended!

He was talkin' about Earth. He sent the aliens on their way with a warning that anyone who threatened the planet again would have to deal with him. He was their protector. Their defender. Their saviour. He saved 'em time and again, all the stupid humans. But it didn't do us any good in the end. He just ended up gettin' himself recognised. A wanted man. People started following his storyline through time, people who noticed him. Him and that blue box. It all led to trouble, and it didn't matter that he'd risked his life for them. Died for them. He was jus' another alien that damn Torchwood company wanted. An' it all went to hell.

I dunno how long I spent with the Doctor. He showed me so much. Things I hadn't even thought of, or dreamed, or read about. He showed me the death of my planet. When we were at our best, the height of our civilisation. He protected the Earth when it was in danger, an' no one even knew. I met his worst enemy once. Well, more than once if I think about it, but once when it was personal. I could see it in his eyes. He looked so afraid and angry and lost and... He told me he had fought the Daleks in the Time War. He'd won but he'd lost his home. His whole planet and all his people had burned with the Daleks when he'd saved them. And he was alone.

He wouldn't tell me any more. He didn't want to let me in, and I so wish he had. Maybe if he had, things would have been different.

But that's the Doctor – never lets anyone in, scared of getting hurt. That's it in principal, though he'll claim some sort of strange reason if you ask. Don't ask, though – he doesn't like to talk about it.

We went through a lot, him an' me. We were always together, him holding my hand and being there for me when it was all a bit too much. Course, then he changed and everything else changed with it. He was still the Doctor, I knew that. Still clever and funny and kind and so many other words that don't do him justice. You'd have to meet him to know just how much of everything he is. Anyway, it didn't matter. He changed towards me. He wouldn't take my hand so much, and when he did it was sort of... empty. Like it didn't matter. He still cared about me, of course – but there was somethin' missing in his look that I'd never see again.

So on we went, pretendin' nothing was wrong. Pretending it was all alright, that we would carry on forever. I didn't think otherwise, though – never really came up. But o' course, it didn't work. When it came to it, p'raps we should have done something about it. P'raps we should have sat down and wondered exactly where it was we were headed. Mind, wishing now won't make any difference.

I don't know how it happened, really. You never do know when it's the end, and you certainly don't expect it. Even after all those times, all that runnin', all that bein' trapped, all that screaming for help... You'd have thought it would have helped; but it doesn't. It hurts just as much. It's just as scary. It's just as much the end as any of the other times could have been.

Imagine this: the Daleks and the Cybermen. Nasty things, both of them. Never seen so much hate in my life. But me an' the Doctor, we're stuck up in this building – Torchwood Tower. He's dealin' with the Cybermen a few floors up, I've got the Daleks all comin' at me from a weird sphere thing. I never saw the Doctor again after that. Or I should say, he never saw me. Not really.

He's the Doctor. He's clever and he's brilliant and he'll do anything to save us. He did something, something to do with his past selves and havin' them all help him out. I dunno, he never explained. But he did it. Nearly died in the process, mind – and he may as well have, for all I know. Doesn't make much difference now.

Maybe I should tell you what really happened in that tower. From what I remember.

I----------------------------------------------I

They were hammering against the door. Just the two of them, desperately pounding their fists against the cruel, unyielding metal. Mickey's gun had been useless – not even a scratch. Rose hadn't even had the time to hug him, tell him how much she'd missed him – there was danger on the horizon. The man had been the first to go, and his crumpled body now lay dead on the floor. It was then that both Mickey and Rose had fled for the door, pounding against it with all their strength.

From behind them came the terrifying call of the Daleks' death cry. Again and again they screamed, getting more and more intense with each screech. But Rose had come across them before – she should be dead by now, she knew. So why wasn't she?

All the screaming and shouting in the world wasn't going to get them out of this locked vault. At least, not in time. So with all the courage the Doctor had given her, she took in a breath, swallowed and turned.

She stared back into the empty gleaming face of a Black Dalek. To her it just looked like a different colour, a darker shade of that horrifying tone. She didn't know he was a centurion, the leaders of the war.

With defiance that the Doctor would have been proud of, she lifted her chin and spoke. The crying calls ceased.

"If you want to kill us, you'd better know this: there's a man in this place who will stop you. You once called him the Oncoming Storm. You're scared of him and I know that he'll find a way to kill you all. An' if you want to get out of this room to put his life in danger – you'll have to go through me."

There was a pause and an eerie silence as the Dalek seemed to consider her. Eventually, its hoarse, grating voice spoke out, like it was speaking through thick tar.

"Then – We – Will."

Rose blinked back, terrified, but didn't falter.

"This door is three feet thick," she said, ignoring the shaking feeling that was coming over her. In her mind, there were just four words that were whizzing around her head, that were leading her on. Get to the Doctor. "I know you're geniuses, an' that you think you can blast through that in a second. But you can't. It's built to stop anythin' from gettin' through that doesn't belong. An' you don't belong. You've lost before you've even started. So... So you should go back in that ship of yours, turn around and lave! 'Cause there's no way you're takin' this planet or all the innocent people on it. I won't let you. And neither will He."

Another eerie pause. Rose felt Mickey tug slightly on her arm. "Not the best time for a conversation," he muttered.

"We're still alive, aren't we?" she snapped back in hushed tones. "Besides, I've seen the Doctor do this a thousand times."

"The – Doctor?" the Black Dalek asked gratingly, edging forward slightly. Mickey stepped back a little, but Rose stood her ground. "You – Know – The – Doctor?"

"Yeah, he's a friend. He's gonna stand with me and fight you, and there won't be one of you left to – "

"You – Will – Take – Us – To – Him," the Dalek cut across unemotionally.

"Oh yeah?" she asked in return, folding her arms. "Says who?"

"We – Are – The – Daleks. We – Have – Come – Through – To – Your – World – To – Find – Him. He – Is – The – Reason – We – Fight. He – Is – The – Reason – We – Live. He – Is – The – Reason – There – Is – No – One – Left – To – Oppose – Him. He – Is – The – Reason – All – The – Worlds – Shall – Die. He – Has – Killed – So – Many... And – Still – He – Goes – On. He – Kills – All – He – Touches. He – Must – Be – Stopped."

The Dalek lifted its gun threateningly towards Rose.

"And – If – You – Will – Not – Help – Us, – You – Will – Die – Too."

"I'd rather die tryin' to stop you than lead you to him!" Rose spat back, her eyes blazing with a fierce anger. She unfolded her arms and clenched her fists, ready to make a stand. Mickey stood next to her, shaking with fear, but determined as ever.

"Same goes for me," he added, enough strength in his voice to give them both courage. "You're not getting through that door. I've seen scarier things than you in my sleep."

"Then – You – Shall – Both – Die. Good – Bye – Rose – Tyler. I – Am – Sorry."

I----------------------------------------------I

Yeah, I know what you're thinkin'. Since when is a Dalek ever sorry? They don't have emotions like us, they don't feel. They know anger and hate and fear. But that's about it. It also knew my name. The Doctor said it was something to do with a connection to the Time Vortex I once had a long time ago. I remember, just before he regenerated, he said something about the Time Vortex and that he'd absorbed it. That was what killed him. We'd been up against the Daleks, and I'd been sent back home. I was so desperate to find him, I just had to get the TARDIS to work... Much after that, I don't really remember. I don't s'pose it's important. An' I don't really understand why that Dalek recognised me, or didn't want to kill me. An' it doesn't matter now. They've all burned.

After that, when I thought I was gonna die – the Doctor's voice came out of nowhere. There we were, me an' Mickey and this hoard of Daleks, comin' thick and fast... And there's the Doctor above it all. He must have been speakin' through some sort of communication thing. But there he was. Saving me, just like he always used to.

I----------------------------------------------I

"Rose! Rose, are you down there?"

His voice was desperate and tired, like he had been searching for years and years. To hear her reply made him so incredibly happy he thought he might just drown in emotion right there. She was safe. Now he just had to warn her of the danger. He'd dealt with the Cybermen for now; or rather, they'd dealt with him. He and Yvonne, locked up in some room as a prisoner. Why the Cybermen hadn't made anything of them, he didn't know. But that was something to be addressed later. For now, he just had to know that Rose was safe.

When she heard him speak to her through the communications device, she could have cried with joy. Seconds from death, she shouted for him.

"Doctor!"

"Oh God, Rose, you've no idea – "

"Doctor, I don't have much time. There are – "

Her voice was drowned by the rising call of excitable Daleks. They joined together one after another, chanting their cry of death.

The blood from the Doctor's face fell when he heard it.

"Get out of there!" he shouted desperately into the transmitter. He knew she was trapped. That she had probably been trying to get out of there since the sphere had opened up. Daleks... Cybermen... It was enough to make him sick.

With a burning rage and hopeless air, he rounded on Yvonne.

"Override the door," he commanded, pointing to some controls on the desk. He supposed the Cybermen weren't clever enough to realise they'd had shut him in one of the most useful rooms in the entire building. "Override it or I swear to whatever it is you have faith in, I will hunt down every living thing on this planet and make sure they never take another breath again. I won't lose her. Not like this."

Yvonne, not one to be intimidated by a man who rightfully belonged to their testing lab, folded her arms and raised an eyebrow.

"And you wondered why we wanted to keep you in captivity. You are dangerous, Doctor, and I will not have you – "

"Look around!" he spat back, anger for the stupidity of the human race boiling. "This is not a situation you are in control of! This entire world is as good as dead, and I will not have Rose die alone in the middle of it. Now open that door!"

There was a pause as Yvonne considered him. Then, out of nowhere, a voice came through the communicator.

"I'm not alone, Doctor," Rose choked at him. He blinked down, realising that he was still holding the transmitter. Face ashen, he brought it up to his mouth.

"What do you mean?" he asked gravely, his voice defeated.

"Mickey's here, yeah? An'... the Daleks, they're not doin' much. Just sort of... sittin' here. Listening. You can't open that door, Doctor. If these things get out, they're gonna tear the whole world apart to look for you. An' I won't have that. Not for me."

"Oh, Rose..."

He was grief-stricken. He knew he couldn't save her. She was trapped with the things that would kill her, and they were only looking for him. Looking for him... That was strange...

"Did you say listening?" he asked abruptly with a frown.

"Yeah. They said they were gonna kill me, then you spoke, then they sorta went crazy and now they're..."

"Listening," he finished. Then he turned to Yvonne and met her eye. She was smiling, though he didn't know why. She couldn't possibly have known his plan. He didn't even have one. "Rose, stay there. I'm coming to get you."

I----------------------------------------------I

It was jus' what they wanted. They wanted the Doctor to come to them so they could finish him. I shouted and told him so, but there wasn't a reply. I don't know if he heard me. If he did, he just ignored it.

He'd said similar words last time I'd been trapped in the middle of a Dalek fleet. He'd looked up into the monitor, right at me, and told me he was comin' to get me. Soon after that, he died. It's still all a bit hazy. But I know he died to save me. And living with that, every day with his new self... It's almost too much to bear.

The rest after that, stuck in that room with Mickey, I can't much remember. I'm not even sure how long I was stood there, the Daleks not doin' anything. Mickey stood with me, silence around us like a bubble. I even asked the Dalek why it wouldn't just kill us – but it didn't even reply. Soon after that, somethin' weird happened. The sphere thing on the wall started going mental. It was shaking and glowing and doing all sorts of things, and the Daleks started runnin' around firing their guns and screaming danger. Something about the Doctor.

Me and Mickey ducked down, avoiding their guns if we could. The next thing I know, I'm drowning in a sea of a death calls of 'Exterminate' and 'Danger' and it's all just like a bad dream. I still don't know what the Doctor did. What I did find out was caught from other conversations as I overheard them. But it doesn't matter. I don't really care what he did, 'cause it didn't do us any good. The planet and the world, yeah – he saved the lot. But he lost me. And the selfish part of me wishes we could have just up and left them all to it. I never would have, but sometimes it's nice to wish.

In the end, it wasn't the Daleks that killed me. It wasn't the Cybermen, or the Slitheen, or werewolves, or Cassandra, or nurse cats, or the Gelth, or any other sort of adventure. It was him. All those times he'd saved me... and it was all for nothing. Well, not nothing really. I s'pose I wouldn't go back and change it if I could. I'd still go off with him, see the universe, that sort of thing. Even knowing that it ended like this.

I woke up in the arms of Mickey. We weren't in the Torchwood Tower, or anythin' like that. We were on some sort of green park outside. The building was destroyed. There were people in the street, shoutin' and screamin' and cryin'... but they were happy. And even before I knew what had happened, I knew he'd saved them all. And I smiled, 'cause he always won in the end. And I couldn't wait to see him.

Course, I wish I hadn't. I wish I'd just lain there, packed up and went home. 'Cause what happened next – that's what killed me.

Mickey told me no one had seen him. That he had died in the explosion, or something. I wouldn't listen to him. I stood, a bit dizzy, and shouted for him. I was cryin' too, the only one who wasn't happy. My Doctor had gone.

Still, he proved me right when the TARDIS materialised a few metres away from us. I stood for a minute, grinning, rooted to the spot. Maybe I should have run to the doors, I dunno. But I just stood there and he poked his head out of the door, looking in all directions. At the sight of the happy people, he grinned. Me an' Mickey were closest to him, and Mum was only a few feet off.

Everythin' that happened then... I wish it hadn't. I wish I could forget it. But I never can. He was the death of me – Mum was right.

I----------------------------------------------I

The Doctor poked his head surreptitiously out of the TARDIS doors. Beaten the Cybermen and the Daleks in one day – that was one hell of an achievement. He deserved a grin to see all the happy, alive people, who had no idea how close they all came to certain death. He'd be sure to thank his past selves if he ever got the chance.

Then he spotted the three of them, caught the eye of each, and his grin broadened. He stepped out of his TARDIS completely, not caring to lock it behind him. Today was just too good a day.

"Everyone all right?" he asked with a grin. They had no idea what he'd done for them, of course. They never would.

Or so he had thought. It had come as a shock when the blonde girl had rushed up to him, flung her arms around his neck and jumped into him, like he was a brother she hadn't see in years.

He tentatively patted her back, wishing that her weight wasn't putting such a strain on his neck. That would just be the icing on the cake: beat the Cybermen and the Daleks, only to die of a broken neck thanks to an over-ecstatic human. Maybe she just appreciated life more than the others.

She slipped down back to the ground when she realised he wasn't hugging her back. However, the smile on her face was so intense, he had no choice but to echo it.

"Hello," he smiled softly, tilting his head to one side and taking her in. Her blonde hair, dyed he noticed. Smooth, clean face, but tear streaked with mascara. She had a nasty bruise on her forehead, too. Perhaps she'd fallen, knocked her head. It would certainly explain her strange reaction.

Her entire face lit up with this simple greeting though, and she was hugging him again, laughing, crying. He laughed through his nose, then closed his eyes and hugged her back. What the hell – he'd saved the day, he deserved a hug.

"You did it," he heard her whisper in his ear. Her voice was warm and soft, and something inside of him jolted slightly. "I don't know how, but Doctor – You saved us all. Again."

She knew. Somehow, she knew. He was gobsmacked, but hid it well.

He let her fall to the ground again and flashed her a cheeky grin.

"I did, didn't I?" he asked pleasantly. Then he dropped his arms to his side and considered her, before offering his hand. "I'm the Doctor, by the way; but by the sound of it, you already know that. I'm sorry, you are...?"

She snorted. "Can't go playing games now, Doctor. Can't get past me," she grinned, nudging him in the ribs. It hurt, and he frowned slightly. Then he met her eye.

"I'm sorry?"

The young blonde blinked back at him, her face falling from a grin to a frown. "Doctor," she said, here eyes searching his, her voice stern. It was as if she'd spoken to him in that way many times before. But that was impossible – he'd only just met her.

There was a young black man a few metres away, watching the both of them with a dark expression. Boyfriend, perhaps? He definitely seemed to have that touchy, over-protective edge. And there was another woman, older, walking over to join him. She looked rather like the girl in his arms. Mother? He let his gaze fall back to the girl in front of him, who positively had tears in her eyes. Strange how she could go from so happy to so miserable in a matter of seconds. He almost felt guilty.

"Sorry about the building," he commented, casting a look to the broken remains. No more Torchwood, then. "Looks a bit of a mess. Never mind, I'm sure the government will clear that right up."

The sarcasm in his voice was not unmissable. But the girl didn't seem amused. She put a hand on his arm, and he looked back to her with a frown before stepping away. Too close, he thought. Far too close.

When she spoke, her voice was so quiet and sad, he wondered if he'd done something wrong.

"You're... You're jokin', right? You're jus' kiddin' around. Y'know, save the day, the Daleks and Cybermen, have a bit of a laugh before we go off again?"

There was pleading in her voice, but he ignored it. The Doctor's face retracted into a fierce frown, and he took a menacing step towards her.

"How do you know about that?" he almost spat, his face severe. "How do you know? No human would know that..." He paused, looking her up and down again. The way she seemed to know about him, about the Daleks and Cybermen. It was all too strange. In a tone that was a deadly, threatening whisper, he pushed his face right up to hers. "But you're not human, are you? You're... something else. What do you want here?"

All right, so she looked human. Maybe she just worked for Torchwood – but it had been one hell of a day, and all he wanted was to be rid of it. Off into the realms of time and space again, free to continue his search for his own kind.

The girl let out a choked sob and brought a hand to her mouth, stumbling backwards.

"You... You don't remember, do you?"

He blinked. "I think you'll find my memory's quit in tact. Why, what have I so easily 'forgotten'? Were you supposed to chain me up and do some weird experiments on me? Sorry, missed your chance while I was saving the world."

He thought bitterly of the Torchwood Institute, and their Higher-Than-God nature they had achieved. It was disgusting, and they all deserved whatever they got.

The girl cried out again and turned to the other two behind her. The older woman – definitely her mother by the look of it – ran forwards and hugged her. Perhaps there was a family reunion he had interrupted. He should probably leave them to get on with it.

The Doctor turned back to the TARDIS, but was stopped by the shrill call of the girl's mother.

"Oh no you don't!" she shouted, and he was surprised to feel a strong hand around his wrist. He turned and looked to her incredulously, yanking his arm from her grip. He went to speak, but she got there before him. "There was a time not too long ago when I would've been pleased to see the back of you. But you've been good for Rose, in some weird alien way, an' she's been happier with you than she ever was here on Earth. So if you think I'm just gonna let you walk off and leave her like you did that Sarah Jane, you've got another thing comin'. You an' that TARDIS – it's the best thing that's ever happened to Rose. To all of us. So you take her with you an' make her happy like the way you have. Because I'm not lettin' you get away with breaking her heart."

The Doctor stood for a moment, his face a mixture of anger and terror. She knew he was an alien. She knew about the TARDIS. She knew about Sarah Jane Smith. What in the name of the Time Lords was going on?

Darkly, he turned his head, looking from the angered woman by his side to the sobbing girl – Rose, he assumed – and the dark skinned young man.

"How much do you know?" he asked suspiciously. He was addressing Rose.

She looked to the sky and brought a hand to her eyes, wiping away the stubborn tears. He didn't remember. How... How could he just forget like that? It must have been something he did to save them all. Something to do with that. He'd saved them, and now he didn't remember her. The pain that ripped through her as she fought back a sob was unbearable.

With all the strength she had left, she looked to the Doctor again. That look on his face – the angry, accusing, defensive look that had never been meant for her. It broke her heart.

"How could you just... forget?"

Jackie, sensing that this might be a time Rose would want alone, backed away to stand next to Mickey. But she didn't take her eyes off them.

The Doctor looked to Rose sincerely.

"I don't know what's going on here, but you know things about me that nobody should know. Who are you? Have you been tracing me through time? Trying to find out who I was? Because it won't work. You'll just get lost and confused; trust me, it's better to just leave it alone now."

"Doctor!" she grabbed his arm desperately and, for some reason, he fought the temptation to yank it away. Instead, he looked down into her grieving face with soft eyes. Something told him to listen to her. "It's me. It's Rose. It's the girl you – The girl whose life you saved. 'Bout two years ago, probably, you took me away from all this. The basement in Henrik's? With the Autons? Your old self, with the leather jacket and big ears... I mean... you saved me and you told me to run. Then you took me with you in the TARDIS and we... Don't you remember?"

Auton... the name rang a vague bell. He'd dealt with them on Earth in his last incarnation. Left a path of destruction behind him, blowing things up, figuring it out. He nearly would have died, too, except... except... he... didn't. The Doctor frowned. He remembered being on the edge of a precipice, about to have it all end and die underneath the streets of London. But other than that... His memory failed him. It drew up a blank. Mind you, it had been a long time ago.

"I saved your life," Rose sobbed, pleading to him. "You were there with that plastic thing, and I swung on that chain and saved your life. You threw in the anti-plastic an' then... then after that, you asked me to come with you. You showed me the end of the world. Cardiff, the Slitheen. World War Two? World War Three come to that, or nearly. The Gelth? Charles Dickens? Werewolves? Face of Boe?"

She was getting hysterical, clinging to him desperately, tears beginning to stream down her face. He looked back in heart-breaking pity. His hearts were racing. There was a cold sweat on his brow. She sounded like she knew so much... Why could he not remember?

Rose went on describing all the things he remembered through his Ninth and Tenth regenerations. He remembered being there, but the circumstances were hazy, like a painting that had had water spilled over it, blurring the colours.

And eventually, she gave up. She dropped his arm and buried her head in her hands, letting out a desperate cry. Then she looked up again and thumped him forcefully in the chest, before letting her hand splay out over his double heartbeat. She looked up urgently to him, her face a battlefield of grief. Their gaze locked for a minute and then, without quite knowing why, the Doctor lifted a hand to cup her cheek.

"You poor thing," he whispered in a soft voice, swallowing down the fear that had risen in his throat. She closer her eyes at his touch, fighting back her tears. He watched her with pitied interest. If she was telling the truth – which he was beginning to think she was – then this must be killing her. "I'm sorry; I can't... I don't..."

"You don't remember," she cried back quietly, her voice broken, her eyes still closed.

"No."

He dropped his hand from her cheek and she opened her eyes.

"You travelled with me?" he asked. She sniffed and nodded, her cheek burning with his touch. She was shaking, her eyes sore, her chest tight.

"Yeah," she replied at last. "Yeah, I travelled. With you."

The Doctor felt a small, sad smile sweep over his face; it didn't reach his eyes. "You saved me?"

"Yeah," Rose nodded, blinking harshly to stop the new film of tears blinding her. "You saved me more, though. Like today. I would've died, but you saved me again. How?"

"Oh, I... can't say," he sighed, tilting his head sympathetically. "I'm sure you're right – Rose, is it? You certainly seem to know me well enough as a companion. But I don't remember. It makes sense that something happened in Torchwood when I... perhaps I had to sacrifice some of my memory, I don't know. But I can't be sure of anything. I can't remember, and by the looks of things, you've been hurt so badly by meeting me. I can't put you through that again."

She gaped. "You're not... You're not sayin' what I think you're saying."

The Doctor slid his hands into his pocket, shrugging non-committally. "If you have been my companion, you'll know how dangerous it is out there. I need to search for my own kind. They're sort of... lost..."

"Time War," Rose sniffed, rubbing her red eyes with her hands.

"I told you...? You know about the Time War?" He was genuinely shocked. If he had needed convincing of her truth, at least now he had it. He wouldn't have told that to just anyone.

"Yeah. You might've brought it up once or twice."

He smiled gently, then did something he never thought he would do. He reached for her hand.

The Doctor let his gaze fall gently across her, then reached his other hand to brush some hair from her face. She flinched slightly when his fingers danced over her bruise, but other than that, she stood there watching him.

"I wouldn't trust just anyone with that sort of thing," he spoke softly with a smile. "It would take one hell of a companion to earn that trust from me."

She laughed bitterly, shaking her head. "You mentioned it the first place we went. Five billion years in my future, when the Earth was set to die 'cause of the sun expanding. You sat there and you said your people had died in the Time War and that you were the one responsible."

"God, I must have – " He stopped himself. To trust a companion that much, so soon... He must have cared about her an awful lot. Maybe more than he was supposed to, if his racing heartbeats were anything to go by. It hurt that he couldn't remember. "You stayed with me through the regeneration, didn't you?"

Rose nodded, not even being able to smile when he squeezed her hand. He could see the hurt in her eyes, and it pierced him like a hundred arrows.

"I'm sorry," he whispered sincerely, stepping towards her. He towered over her and she looked up to him, his shadow falling across her. "So, so sorry, Rose. I've hurt you so much. You don't deserve that. Even now, just looking at you – I can see. You didn't deserve it."

"If it meant being with you, Doctor, I deserved every minute of it."

He couldn't remember. It still hadn't quite sunk in. He was here, in front of her, having just saved the world for the umpteenth time. And he couldn't remember. Everything they'd done – everything they were. It was all gone. There was only the future, and if he couldn't remember her, what good was that?

"We must have... been very close," the Doctor commented quietly, his throat dry. And then, in a small murmur, her added, "Too close."

"Yeah," Rose almost laughed. "Yeah, we were. You an' me, we were... Well, can't really explain it."

The Doctor took in a loud breath then looked over to the TARDIS. The crowds in the street had dispersed and petered out, leaving just a few stragglers who were enjoying the day. It was cold and bitter, the sky overcast. But somehow, it seemed to be the most beautiful day in the world.

"Well, I suppose I'd... better be going. Planets to save, that sort of thing." He gave a small smile, but it had faded by the time he looked back to Rose. "Are you all right?"

Was she all right? He couldn't remember her. He didn't have a clue who she was, and all this... this was just to humour her. He had said, 'I had better be going'. He wasn't going to take her. Could she blame him? Did she expect anything more? No, she wasn't all right. He was going to leave, break her heart, and he'd never be back. She would never hear from him again.

"I'll live."

The Doctor smiled at her courage. And then he cupped her cheek again, brushing a thumb over her soft skin. She looked up to him, this time not fighting the tears that spilled over her cheeks and on to his hand.

"You're a brave girl, Rose," he spoke quietly, meeting her gaze, "and I think you've probably done more for me than anyone else I've ever met – but your life is here, now. This is your time line, by the look of it. Early twenty-first century. You've got a life here to build up, a family to raise, a job to find. I'm dangerous. And... And I don't think I can be around you if I don't remember what we were. What you've seen, what we've been through – I would do anything to remember. But right now, I need to be on my own. I need to look for my own people; if the Daleks survived, perhaps they did too. And you've been hurt too much for me to bring you. Again. It wouldn't be fair."

She knew he was right. She knew she couldn't change his mind. But she had to try.

"But – I love you, Doctor."

As he stood there, his hand on her cheek, his chest pressed close to hers, he knew she was telling the truth. He could feel it in himself.

"I know," he whispered, closing his eyes for a fleeting second. Emotion he couldn't explain was brewing in him. Perhaps he could forget the events but not the feelings. Perhaps he still reacted in the same way to her, despite his memory being completely blank. His hearts raced; his head was pounding; his inner temperature was creeping up. He touched his forehead with hers. "And I think – I don't know. I might have loved you, too. Once. In some strange sort way. But now it's..."

"Please, don't," Rose pleaded. Even if he did, however sure she used to be that he loved her, she didn't want to hear it as a comfort. She didn't want him to lie. If he was going to leave, she partly understood. She hated it, but she understood. She would have done the same. Probably. Maybe. She didn't know.

She closed her eyes, feeling his breath tickle across her face.

"Rose; I'm sorry."

Then he tilted his head and swept her lips in a kiss. A small, simple kiss, gentle pressure, his mouth on hers, his eyes closed in a deep longing he couldn't even explain. He was trying to tell her exactly how he felt, because he didn't have the words or reason to explain otherwise. She kissed back for a moment, taking in his gentle scent, the saddened joy of his lips on hers enough to break her heart. Then he broke easily away again and reached up to press his lips to her forehead, his caress light and sweet. He drew back again, giving his lips a small lick. Slowly, almost reluctantly, he lowered his hand.

"Goodbye."

Then, with a small smile and a slight nod of his head, he stepped towards the TARDIS.

Rose watched him, every step he took adding another splinter in her heart. Her body seemed to have completely given up. It wasn't listening to the commands from her mind, to tell her to go after him, to find a way to bring his memory back, to stay with him and make him remember. She just stood there, watching the man she loved turn his back on her and walk away – like she was just another face in the crowd.

At the door, she saw the Doctor pause. He took in a breath, his shoulders rising, before turning and looking her in the eye. For a fleeting, heart-wrenching moment, she thought he was going to ask her back. But he didn't.

"I just want to say: you must have been fantastic. Absolutely fantastic. So do me a favour, when all of this is over – " He paused, considering her, letting out a small breath. She almost wanted to ask him to go on, but her voice had cracked and shattered, leaving nothing but a dry throat. " – Have a good life. Do that for me, Rose. Have a fantastic life."

And with that, he turned into the TARDIS and shut the doors.

She let out a small cry, bringing a hand to her mouth as the tears burned like infernal ice down her cheeks. Those words; why would he say those words? Surely some part of him remembered, if he was echoing the words he had spoken all those months ago?

Rose's body suddenly jolted into action. He was lying. There was something in his face, in his eyes – he was looking for an easy way out. She cried out and ran forwards, her heavy feet thudding on the ground as they crunched along the gravel. She reached the side, pounding helplessly on the door, over and over again. Then she felt arms around her, holding her back, trying to console her. Mickey, her mother – she wasn't sure. She tried to fight against them, to reach him. Didn't they understand? If he left, he wouldn't be coming back. Even if he somehow got his memory back, she would die in his mind just that: a memory. She couldn't let that happen.

But then a severe wind kicked up and the light on top of the blue police box began to glow. A spine-chilling grating sound resonated through the air, every climax of the sound calling out to Rose like a plea. And then – for the last time, in front of her very eyes – the TARDIS faded out of existence.

I----------------------------------------------I

So there you have it. The day I died was the day the Doctor left me. Life was nothing before him, and it's nothing now. Everything he showed me, all those stars, all those people... That was life. That was the life I should have had. He woke me up to a better way of living. That the smallest person can make the biggest difference. That the tiniest voice in a crowd is enough. That it doesn't take much to stand up and say 'No' – or even to say 'Yes'. He showed me the best time of my life. I was in love. I was happy. I would have done it for forty years or more, just to be beside him. An' now he's gone. Just like that. No aliens, to sacrifices – he just couldn't remember, and that was that.

I still don't know if he was lying or not. I don't think he would make it up – but then again, he changed in that tower. Somethin' in there changed him, and whether or not he remembers me, I'll always remember him. I'll remember him as the man who gave me life; the man who took me out of boredom and depression and who gave me somethin' else, somethin' new; the man who made me feel things I'd only ever seen on films and thought were rubbish; the man who'd stolen my dreams; the man who killed me.

Because, the thing is: without him, I'm nothing. There's nothing for me here any more. Mum's booked me up with a counsellor, to help me work through the issues she says I have. I still have the nightmares, and without the Doctor around, they're jus' gettin' worse. I see him sometimes, too – he's there, protecting me, like he always was. An' every day I wake up hoping. This is the day, I think to myself. This is the day he's gonna remember me and he'll be back. But I know it's not true. He's got a Time Machine: he'd have been back by now. Back ten seconds after he left.

I've tried to get back into the swing of things 'round here. But everything's so empty. Mickey up and left when he realised I was still in love with the Doctor, and that I always would be. That I'd always wait for him. I tried to re-take my A-levels at college, maybe get somewhere; but all I could think about was the Doctor and seeing him again. Wondering what he's doing now. Who he's saving. Who he's standin' up to. Who else he's got on his ship. Nothing else matters. So now all I do is sit around gettin' a bit chubby and swing from day to day jobs. Even my friends won't see me now; they say all I do is sit there and stare into space. But they don't understand. I stare into space and think about things because that's all I have left of him. If the only connection I have is in my head, than that's where I'm gonna stay.

But this isn't life. I'm not livin'. I'm just existing without a purpose.

I'll never see him again. He's moved on to bigger and better things. I'm just a straggler, left behind because I couldn't keep up. No one can keep up with the Doctor. He's his own man. He brings so much joy and happiness, and I never got to tell him so. He doesn't even remember.

I got a call from Jimmy the other day, too. He got my number from Shareen, wanted to know what I was up to. I might meet him for a drink this Saturday, catch up with the missed years. But I might not.

I still have the TARDIS key. I hadn't actually taken much time to look at it since he gave it back after our first real argument, in his Ninth regeneration. I was touched when he gave it back so easily, an' from then on, I always kept it by me. Never took the time to look at it, though. But since he left, I've looked at it every day. And I found somethin' I hadn't noticed before. Hadn't even bothered to look. I guess there's truth somewhere, that when you're with the Doctor you do miss the little things. But there's an inscription, six words. Six words that break my heart that little bit more each day. He seems to have a thing for six words; I wouldn't change him for the world.

Rose,

We're Forever.

Love,

The Doctor.

The Beast told me I would die in battle. The Doctor told me it lied. I believed the Doctor. But he was wrong. This isn't life. Because life without the Doctor is nothing. It's just death and dying that little bit slower.

The Oncoming Storm.

The Bringer Of Death.

Bad Wolf.

The Doctor.

Lord Of Time.

All these titles, all these words, and not one of them got it right. He's everythin'. He's everywhere. I hear him in the laughter of a newborn baby, in the dying breath of an old woman. I can see him in the tears of school children and the glare of the builders down the street. No matter who it is, they're all connected to him in some way. And they've all left me. I'm alone.

Every day, I pray for the end. I pray for a kind of death that won't go on hurting. I pray for a release from this hell I'm living. I just wanna be near him again. Touch the stars, reach out to him. Maybe one day, I'll get my wish. I've even picked my gravestone inscription.

Rose Marion Tyler.

Because One Day, I Will Find You In The Stars.

And who knows; maybe one day, they'll read about me in the history books. 'Oh yeah, Rose Tyler, I've heard of her; she's that girl who died of a broken heart'. They never got it so right. I don't care about the future, or what happens next. I don't care about A-Levels, or Mickey, or Jimmy, or Shareen, or any of the idiots I thought I'd left behind. Because as far as I'm concerned, they don't even touch me. I'm already dead. Everything else is just a story.