Title: Eleven Truths Rose Tyler Learned About Love
Authors: Gillian Taylor
Rating: PG
Characters: Rose Tyler, Ninth Doctor, Tenth Doctor, Mickey
Summary: Rose Tyler thinks she knows what love is.
Spoilers: All of Series 1 and 2
Disclaimer: Don't own them. I just like playing with them...a lot.
Archive: Sure, just let me know.

A/N: Thanks, as always, to my lovely betas NNWest and WMR.


"Eleven Truths Rose Tyler Learned About Love"
By Gillian Taylor

I.

Rose Tyler thinks she knows what love is.

She's young, he's a few years older, and she's never felt like this before. It's dangerous, he's dangerous, but that's what makes it thrilling. What makes it real. Jimmy Stone is everything she's ever wanted. Tall, dark, handsome. He's got a wicked sense of humour and a far cleverer tongue - especially when it's employed in pursuits other than singing or talking.

It's love, because she wouldn't give herself to just anyone. She never gave herself to Mickey, though she supposes that that might've been love. He'd been with her since forever, but forever was a long time and Mickey'd always been just too comfortable. The easy choice. The one who'd never hurt her.

She wants danger. She wants excitement. She wants Jimmy Stone. And she's got him. Every night when he comes back to the flat, she has him. Every time he's on stage, he's hers and she's his.

She smiles as she adjusts her blouse, smoothing away the wrinkles. He's due to come back to the flat soon. She's looking forward to it. Always does.

Then, when he comes home drunk and gets angry, she realises that she doesn't know love. Or maybe she does and he doesn't. He slaps her once, twice, three times. A punch and her lip splits. He says he loves her, but he makes her bleed.

She takes it for only so long before she stops him the only way she knows how.

The lamp makes a satisfying sound as it connects with his skull and shatters. She stares at his unconscious body, rubbing her split lip and letting the tears fall.

He says he loves her but how can he?

How can he love her when he does this to her?

She wishes that she could travel back in time and stop herself from going with him. She never should've left home. And that's how she learns that love hurts.


II.

She returns to Mickey because that's comfortable. That's safe. She's been burned by love, and she knows instinctively that Mickey could never do that to her. He loves her and she supposes that she loves him too. It's fun. It's safe. But a tiny voice deep inside is convinced that it's getting stifled by him. By comfort. By safety.

She wants more, but she can't ask for it. Not from Mickey. He doesn't know how to be dangerous. How to be exciting. He knows how to be himself. And that's enough for him.

Then she meets someone new. Someone who saves her life, wears a battered leather jacket, and blows up jobs to save the world. She wants to say 'yes' when he asks her to come with him, but Mickey's holding onto her.

He's safe, he's comfortable, and how could she go with the Doctor after all she's learned about love? She thinks it'd be easy to fall for him, alien or not. So she says 'no' and knows that she'll regret it for the rest of her life.

He returns seconds later, tempting her with the offer of time. She could go, do something dangerous, and come back to her safe and comfortable life moments later. Despite Mickey's desperate grasp upon her, she grins.

Though she doesn't say it, she thinks 'yes' and says goodbye to Mickey with a reckless 'thanks for everything'. She knows she'll come back to him. She always does.

So she goes.

That's how she learns that love doesn't last.


III.

She's seen the end of the world, met Charles Dickens, and watched an alien spaceship crash into Big Ben. She's held his hand through all of their travels and she thinks that this must be love the instant that she feels him staring at her, his expression taunt and desperate.

"I could save the world but lose you," he says, his eyes whirling with emotion.

"Do it," she replies in an instant, not caring if she lives or dies because there's something far more important at stake.

She's just Rose Tyler. He's the Doctor. There's a world to save. She doesn't measure up and that's okay. That's love too, she thinks.

Love is sacrifice.


IV.

She stares Death in the face, but it doesn't hurt. It doesn't kill. She stares at the Dalek and she's certain it stares back. She frightened, terrified, but she doesn't care. This is what she wants. Not to die. She doesn't want to do that to him. She can only hope that her words have given him comfort.

She still wouldn't miss it for the world.

She wants to be with him. Seeing the universe and time and all the various points in between. This is living. A far better way than she's ever lived before.

And she can see it changing the Dalek. Bit by bit it changes. From merciless killer to something else entirely.

It doesn't kill her. Can't kill her. But why?

Then she hears his voice, calling her name, and in that one word she knows what he must've felt when he'd thought she was dead. She tries to be nonchalant, but it doesn't work.

"What use are emotions if you won't save the woman you love?" the Dalek asks and she isn't surprised. Somehow it knows how she feels, but she knows that the Doctor doesn't return the emotion. Not in that way.

He loves her as his best mate, and that's okay. She can live with that because it means she can stay. But he still releases them from the lower levels. Somehow she manages to stop the Dalek from killing Van Statten and lead it to freedom.

Then, she sees him. She's never seen that expression on his face before. Desperation, yes. But not this darkness. Not this unreasoning hatred. Not this barely-hidden anguish and thirst for revenge.

He's pointing a gun at her.

Well, not at her, but the creature she shields with her body. She feels sympathy for the Dalek even after all it's done. It's alone in the universe. It has no one else. And it's changed.

The Doctor has her. Now she finds herself wondering what would've happened to the Doctor had she not been there, on that chain, beneath the Eye. Would he've lived? Or would he've died without her?

She doesn't want to consider the what ifs. She has the nows and that's what matters to her.

Despite her inner thoughts, he's still pointing a gun at her, telling her to get out of his way. He needs to destroy it, but he shouldn't. She knows what this'll do to him. He's so guilt-ridden, but she has to save him.

"It couldn't kill Van Statten - it couldn't kill me - it's changing. What about you, Doctor? What the hell are you changing into?" she asks and she sees him flinch.

It's only later, after the adventuring is done, that she realises another aspect of love.

Love saves. And, she thinks, it might've just saved him.


V.

This is the end of the world.

Because of her stupid mistake, her silly desire, her shameless abuse of everything the Doctor's meant to her, she's destroyed everything. And now the Doctor's dead. He's dead and she's killed him because all she wanted was to save her Dad.

The tears don't stop, can't stop, because as much as she's glad that her Dad's alive, it hurts too much that the Doctor's gone.

Just tell me you're sorry.

I am. I'm sorry.

God, she's ruined it all. He forgave her and then she touched the baby.

Don't - touch - the - baby.

And now he's gone. He's gone and she'll soon follow. Along with her Dad, her Mum, and everyone else in this church. She's killed them. Not in fact but in deed, by her own stupidity.

The Doctor's dead.

"The Doctor really cared about you," her Dad says and she looks at him, confused. "He didn't want you to go through it again if there was another way. Now there isn't."

Anguish fills her and she shakes her head. He can't, he mustn't. Not now. Not after all of this. But he continues to tell her what he thinks, what he knows. And she can see it too.

"I've had all these extra hours. No-one else in the world has ever had that. And on top of that...I get to see you," he says, cupping her cheeks with his hands. "And you're beautiful."

She sobs, the tears pouring unheeded down her cheeks. She's only just got him and now she has to say goodbye.

"Are you going to be there for me, love?" he asks and she nods. Of course she is. That's what this was all for.

"Thanks for saving me," he says.

No, she wants to reply, thanks for saving me. But she doesn't. She can't. She just watches as he runs in front of the car. She just watches him collapse in front of her.

Then she hears his voice. The Doctor's. "Go to him," he encourages and she does.

She's with her Dad the moment he dies, and that's what matters. And, when the Doctor takes her hand and leads her home, she realises something new.

Love forgives.


VI.

She won't let him do this. She can't. He mustn't. This is her choice, her life. She won't be sent home, told to live a fantastic life, while thousands of years in her future he's dying.

He's taught her so much. Now, she supposes, it's her turn. To teach him. She won't be left behind. She won't stand for it. He needs her as much as she needs him. And, if this is meant to be how she dies, so be it.

For a better life. No, for him, she'd do it. And gladly.

So she convinces her Mum and Mickey to help her. She feels regret that she can't stay with Mickey, but that measure of safety's gone. She's destroyed that recourse over the past few months with the Doctor. He's who she needs. He's dangerous, but that's okay. That's what she wants. She wants him. Even if it isn't love as she wants it, it's still love.

Best friends. Best everything. She once told Mickey that the Doctor wasn't her boyfriend, that he was much better than that. And he is.

He needs her and she will go. So her family helps her. With a yellow truck, they open the heart of the TARDIS and she sees gold and knows no more.

Some unimaginable time later she wakes. He's there, safe and sound, grinning madly at her as he frantically flips switches.

She doesn't remember what happened, but she knows they must've won. Then she learns they haven't. He's dying. He doesn't truly say as much but she knows it to be true. Something happened and she wasn't able to stop it.

She hasn't saved him.

He bursts into flames and terror fills her as a stranger takes her Doctor's place. He's wearing the Doctor's clothes but it isn't him. She knows it isn't. Transmat or Slitheen, he can't be the Doctor. She wants him back. She needs him back.

She loves him.

But he's gone. The instant that the stranger takes her hand she feels something different. The skin's different, the hand's shaped differently, but she knows how it feels. She knows this hand. Somehow, someway, she knows it.

Then he tells her the first word he ever said to her and she starts to believe.

It's him but it isn't. He's younger and has more hair and has a mole. He's more manic and happy and different. He knows her but she doesn't really know him.

He takes her home, to Christmas, after he goes a bit insane. It's another adventure complete with alien invasions and last minute saves. She tried to fill his shoes but she learns that she can't. There's only one Doctor and it's him.

It's still him even now. She sees it in his eyes. And, as she takes his hand while the ashes fall, she realises that love changes.


VII.

She's not special. Oh, she always knew that to be true, but somehow she managed to delude herself for so long that she was different. Is different. She's the Doctor's companion. There couldn't've been anyone before her. Then again, he told her as much, didn't he? During the Blitz he'd told her that there'd been others before her. She'd just chosen to forget. To ignore his words.

She knows differently now.

Sarah Jane Smith. In another life, they never would've met. In another life, she never would've learned the truth. She's merely the latest in a long line of companions. This is the first time she feels jealousy about the Doctor. She always thought that he belonged to her. But how can he?

He belongs to the universe. She just gets to spend some time with him for a short while before she's done. Before she's gone. Before the world turns, time goes on, and he leaves her behind.

He promises her otherwise, but she can see the truth in his eyes. So can Mickey. But she lets him lie. She lets herself believe it.

He's over nine hundred years old. She should've realised that he wouldn't've spent that time alone. He needs people, companionship.

She thought she was special.

She knows differently now. She loves him, still loves him, despite this fact. And she knows that there's more than enough room in his hearts to love all of the Sarah Janes that came before her and will come after.

Love, she knows, learns.


VIII.

Much as she wishes she could hate Madame de Pompadour, she can't. She's beautiful, intelligent, witty, and far cleverer than she could ever be. She's seen how he looks at the Madame. Seen how his expression softens when he talks of Reinette. She's been measured, weighed, and found lacking.

He's found his Reinette and she has to find a way to live with that. She's his best friend, she consoles herself. Nothing more. So she volunteers to warn Madame de Pompadour of the future while the Doctor frantically searches for a way to save it.

Now that she's met her, she can see what he sees. She can survive this, she knows she can. Reinette shows far more perception that she'd first granted her as she tells her what she's always known.

The Doctor is worth the monsters.

Even jealousy. So she nods and leaves the Frenchwoman behind to take the slow path to the future while she lives in it now. And she watches the Doctor, in turn, leave her. He shatters the mirror and leaves them behind.

Five and a half hours later, he's back. She was worried, of course. Worried that she'd never see him again. Worried about how the Doctor could survive without the only piece of home he has left. He's returned, though. Saved France, but especially saved Reinette.

She can see the look in his eyes, knows what it means, as he runs out of the TARDIS. He wants her with them. He wants Reinette. But, when he returns alone, she knows the truth. And she watches him as he slowly falls apart, unravelling before her eyes.

She can't save him from this. She can't protect him. He's given a piece of himself to a woman from the past and she can live with that.

As she lets Mickey pull her deeper into the TARDIS, she knows her Doctor's hearts shatter behind her. Love, she decides, has another facet. Love is not being possessive.


IX.

He's been there for her for as long as she can remember. Her safety. Her recourse when things got tough or she needs someone to hold her. She's needed him but she's never realised just how much he's needed her. Had needed her, until he tells her he's staying behind.

It's a new universe, a different world, and she'll never see him again. He wants to stay because he's needed here and she can see that. He wants to stay because of his Gran and because he regrets his counterpart's death.

She wishes she could keep him. Tears pour down her face as she hugs him, telling him that she needs him. He's been a safety blanket for so long. How can she learn to deal without him?

"You've got 'im," he says and she nods. She does.

She has the Doctor but now she doesn't have Mickey.

With one last kiss, one last hug, she turns away and goes into the TARDIS. The Doctor knows just what she needs and she opens the doors to find her Mum.

As she sobs into her mother's shoulder, she knows that this, too, is love.

Love means learning how to let go.


X.

The TARDIS is gone.

She's never considered what might happen if they lost the ship. If they were stuck thousands of years and thousands of miles from home. It'd been cocky of her, she suspects. Nothing is definite.

Not even time and space travel.

So she dares to consider the future. Before, all she thought about was the present. The here and now with him. Travelling through time and space, seeing the universe at his side. That was all she wanted.

Now her wings are clipped. So are his, and she knows that it's tearing him apart. The last TARDIS in existence is gone.

She jokes and talks about mortgages, talks about the future. Suggests that they might have a future together. Dares to believe even for a second that it might be possible.

He dodges the questions, as she knew he would. Then the Ood go mad, he falls into the pit, and she's left behind in more danger than ever before.

She can't leave him, won't leave him. He needs her. He might be regenerating without her, lost and alone in the dark. She's all he has left. He's all she has left. She believes he's alive though Zach doesn't.

She'd know, wouldn't she? She'd feel different if he's gone. In her heart. She'd know. That's belief too.

Zach doesn't let her stay, instead knocking her out and carrying her to the ship. They leave him behind, despite her protests. She wants to stay, but she can't. That choice was taken from her.

When she realises that Toby is still possessed, she does the only thing she can do. She saves them and dooms them at the same time because that's what he'd do. She does it for him as much as she does it for the universe.

She thinks she's going to die. She thinks she's killed them all.

Then she hears his voice and realises they're saved. It's relief and happiness rolled into one overwhelming emotion. Belief pays and that's when she realises another truth.

Love means believing in each other.


XI.

She stands on a frozen Norwegian beach, her tears tracking dark paths down her cheeks. He's gone and she's alone. There wasn't enough time to tell him everything she wanted to. Not enough time to tell him more than a simple 'I love you'.

The Doctor wanted to tell her the same, at least that's what she tells herself, but time is cruel. So, instead, she learns a final lesson. Sometimes, love means saying goodbye. But she'll never forget. Not him nor what she's learned at his side.

Love means having a fantastic life because that's what he'd want. It means never wanting him to be alone. But, most of all, it means appreciating what she's got (what she's had) because everything ends.

Everything, that is, except for love.

THE END