The Time Traveller's Wife
Disclaimer: I do not in any way own Doctor Who, that belongs to the BBC and RTD. The quotes you recognise in italics are not mine either, they are taken from the show.
I died a thousand deaths that day. My alternate-universe father saved me from the Void - Hell, some called it - but in retrospect I don't think saved is the right word. Hell is never seeing the Doctor again. Hell is never hearing those three words from him. Hell is never seeing the TARDIS as it flickers away into infinity, only to return with an invitation of a lifetime. Hell is all around me; it is what separates him from me, and me from him.
He was her past, her present, her future; he was all around her, he was inside her. Yet he was gone, and without him by her side, or even the possibility of his return, she was alone. So, so alone.
Mickey, her mum, her…her…dad – she still couldn't get over this, after watching him die, which was odd considering the strangeness she had encountered on a daily basis – they all stood by her, tall and strong, but they weren't enough. She hated herself for thinking that, because at one point, this was all she had ever wanted. For her parents to be alive and together. For Mickey to grow up to be the man he has now become. Her dream has come true, but it is no longer her dream.
With the Doctor, dreams became realities.
He has left her nothing to remember him by, no trinkets bought in far off lands, no battle scars, at least not on the outside. There was only one item she possessed that even hinted that the Doctor had existed alongside her. She wore the TARDIS key around her neck on a golden chain, a wedding ring with silent vows. She had promised herself to him, had given herself to him, mind, body, soul, and she would wait for him. He would come back one day. He would.
All she was waiting for, all her life hung on, were three little words. She had been so positive he would reciprocate her line, so sure, but when he fizzled out of her existence something inside of her broke.
"You were fantastic. Absolutely fantastic. And d'you know what? So was I."
She tried to stifle a sob at the unbidden memory and it wrenched her heart to think that it was all over, this was it, all he could ever be was a memory. Her face crumpled, and she tried to gulp down the guttural despair from cascading out but it was no use. She kicked the rocks around her, her breathing ragged, her vision blurred, her actions desperate. Harsh sobs punctuated the still air. She half-expected his deceivingly strong arms to restrict her, to hold her close and protect her, but there was no one but her, and she flailed her arms out in retaliation, in anger. Raw pain exuded from her cries, and even when the crying ceased, the raw pain lingered on the air.
She had found a beach not long after they returned, one similar enough to the one where she saw him last, one similar enough to indulge in her inability to forget him, to let go. It's not too far away from her new home; far enough no one will think to look for her here, far enough she won't be disturbed.
She doesn't know much about parallel universes, but she's learning. She wants, no, needs to know every single detail. She hasn't quite accepted that this is the end of the road, that there are no roads leading to him, and she scours the archives for possibilities of weak points. She knows the Doctor closed them all, but she can't give up, can't give in to the horrifying thought that she'll never hear his voice again; never get to laugh with him…the list is too long and incomprehensible for her, right now.
She walks slowly over to the waves, closer to the tide, close enough to feel the sea spray sting against her skin. She welcomes the slight pain, there's a part of her that wants to hold onto this feeling; as heartbreaking as it is, if she forgets this pain, it's like she'll forget him, and how could she possibly forget such an incredible being? She closes her eyes tiredly, rubbing a hand over her raw eyes, and sits down heavily, suddenly. She digs her hands into the warm sand, feeling the grains underneath her fingernails, the wet slush around her bare feet. Her trainers are discarded, socks tucked inside, lined neatly next to each other on a large rock in the dry. She likes walking barefoot on the beach, because it reminds her of him. She isn't quite sure why, but it does; maybe it's the freedom, the heightened feelings, the naturalness of it all. The cold water is moving towards her, it has moved up to her ankles, or maybe her feet have just sunk, in any case she rolls up her jeans to just above her knees, and rests her hands behind her, the warmer sand a sharp contrast.
She stays there until the tide comes in so much that she would be swimming had she stayed there any longer. She retreats to her rock, the one with her battered Nikes on, and sits and thinks of him until the sun goes down.
"D'you know, they'd never even seen a banana before; always take a banana to a party, Rose. Bananas are good."
"You goin' my way, doll?"
"Is there any other way to go daddy-o? Straight from the fridge man!"
"I'm the Doctor. This is Rose Tyler. She's my plus one."
"Now forget me Rose Tyler. Go home."
It was the one of the only things he had asked of her that she could never do. Forget him.
Her mobile vibrates and falls off the rock with the sudden movement. She knew she should have tucked it in her trainer with her socks. She bends down and picks it up. Caller ID tells her it's Mickey. She thinks about answering it, but wants to keep her melancholy mood to herself, and just lets it ring and ring, and loses herself in her memories once more.
"Did I mention it also travels in time?"
It isn't until a few years later when she visits the beach for the millionth time, that she accepts the unwanted truth.
He was gone.
And there wasn't a damn thing she could do about it.