Synonyms for Love
by Camilla Sandman

Disclaimer: BBC's characters. My words.

Author's Note: Spoilers through series one and series two. Aside from Nine, Ten and Rose, there's also guest appearances by Eight, Charley, Jack, Sarah Jane, Reinette and original characters. Some pairings are hinted at. Thanks to Saz for beta.


The TARDIS is adrift in time and space, a little vessel in a giant sea, and the Doctor is waiting for a particular wind to catch him. There's no rush, though there undoubtedly will be as soon as he finds himself somewhere. For now, all the possibilities are exciting enough. A whole Universe of them, and they never run out.

He thinks he loves that.

"Doctor?" Charley asks, looking up at him with eyes changing colour as the TARDIS does. "Word for love, four letters?"

He smiles at her. "You need not finish a crossword just because Arthur Wynne gave it to you."

"I do," she insists. "It's polite. I can show it to him if we visit again."

If, he notes. She is at least learning he is not a great return visitor. Perhaps that will make it easier for her to understand when the time comes.

"Very well then," he agrees. "Word for love, four letters? Tricky. Love's so indefinable almost anything can be a synonym for it. Like, fond?"

She shakes her head.

"I have an idea," he says, leaping over to the TARDIS console, feeling the wind in his back. "We'll go see Samuel Johnson, he's bound to know."

In the end, they wind up in Ireland instead, and Charley gets nicked by Vikings and the Doctor nicks her right back along with a longboat he's sure will look smashing somewhere in the TARDIS, and the crossword, the crossword is left forgotten.

The word remains open.



He's screaming as he dies. Howling, and it still doesn't drown out the silence in his head. They're dead, they're dead, they're dead, and he's dying, and they're dead, they're gone. Nothing. Nothing, and everything hurts. There's pain, and he dies into it.

He is born into it. His body is betraying him, his TARDIS is betraying him, his mind is betraying him, and he screams into life. It hurts. He's just killed millions out of love, and it hurts, and they're gone, gone, gone.

The Daleks for his planet.

His planet for the Universe.

The TARDIS is still hurtling, and he doesn't care towards what, mind filled with what from. His body is healing, reshaped, and for once, he feels no urge to look at what he is. Not yet. His hair lies burned by his fingers, and he touches it, feeling the stink of ashes in his very skin. A womb of ashes and ruin and remembered death for him. A tomb for them, and space holds no warmth.

He holds no warmth, clothes torn off him, the remains smelling of his blood. He spends a long time crawling until he finds a leather jacket, worn and slightly tattered, and he curls into it. It would better resist debris than other fabrics, he considers. A strange thought, and he laughs hysterically at it.



By him. Because of him. From him.

He wonders if they understood, because he sure does not.


They're dead, and he's alive, and it hurts.



He meets Kalanna on the planet of Garah, looking for parts to the TARDIS, slowly rebuilding it. He's not sure if it's out of habit, compulsion, genuine desire to have this last piece of Gallifrey work properly again or just love for her, his TARDIS. He does know she's all he has now, and every piece brings her closer to what she once was.

The market he goes to is crowded and busy, and as it turns out, under attack from Glybb worms. He does hesitate, but then he remembers he never had much choice about caring. He just does, and in either case, the screams make his heart pound a little and the silence in his head seem less quiet. He runs into danger, and into Kalanna, who seem to have much the same ideas as him. He knows about Glybb worms, and she knows about Garah, and it's enough to together knock out the worms with a whiff of a particular native flower mixed with flour.

Unfortunately it does knock him out too, and he awakes in a soft bed to soft hands on his face. Kalanna's hands and Kalanna's bed, and Kalanna's lips whispering about heroics and admiring him and how many lives he saved. On and on, she talks, clever Kalanna of a clever people, working things out.

"They say your people are gone," she whispers, her tail curled around his arm. "They say the burn screamed in the minds of millions light years away. In my mind, I heard the howl. I heard the echoes of it again today. That's when I knew what you were, what you are."

He says nothing. Confirms nothing. It doesn't matter. She already knows, but unconfirmed, she has no access to his grief. That does matter.

"Are they all gone, Time Lord?"

There's pity in her voice, and her eyes are filled with it, and her skin is comforting as she touches him. Warm, soft and alive. As his no longer feels like. She whispers what's meant as comfort too. All the clever words and he listens until he can't listen anymore and lets her lips own his flesh, because it's all he can imagine giving, and still she demands more.

In the morning, he leaves.

He's got enough pity for himself.



He runs into a silly human in the middle of a rather silly danger, and he takes her hand and runs with her away from Autons. It feels a bit like old days, and even more so when she starts asking questions and tries to find logic. She's young, and innocent, and he likes that. It's easier to craft pretend innocence when near the real thing. It's easier to feel wise when youth has still so much to learn. It's easier to feel alive when someone's there to live with.

He even asks her for her name, and remembers it. Rose Tyler.

He is surprised to run into her again still, and even more when she keeps asking and asking. Nosy, and it reminds him. So does the mirror, and he finally gets a look at himself. He hasn't really cared, he realises, but now he spares it a few thoughts.

He's going to have to get used to jokes about his ears. That's all right. There's always jokes about something.

Rose keeps asking, especially after the little hand-attack, and he gives her answers. They're safe enough questions, except for one.

Who are you?

Rebel, survivor, storm, death. A thousand words he might use, and each of them only describing one aspect and revealing much still.

He gives her an answer of sorts, but what he remembers afterwards is holding her hand, and feeling the Earth turn with them on it, gravity the only hold. He knows he can break it for her, spin her into space and time, his hand the only hold then. She'll love it, he's already sure.

Even so, he tells her to go home.

His hold is never safe.

She still comes into it in the end, and he's not even sure he's sorry.



The Earth goes boom, and he takes Rose out for chips. Or rather, she takes him. She's not his girlfriend and he's certainly not her boyfriend (not that Ricky the Idiot would offer much competition), but it's still a date, still two people sharing a meal and the start of something. He's not sure what, but he's never paused for analysis on the very good reasoning that he would never get anything else done. What is, is. Everything else, he'll make something of.

Rose laughs easily, even after what she's just seen, and she smiles at him without pity, even after what he's told her. He likes both.

"Do aliens also have chips?" she asks, licking salt off her fingers. He watches, feeling a little strange.

"Only the really sophisticated ones."

"You never see that on telly," she reflects. "Aliens always seem to be eating something with tentacles."

"That's because humans are gross with gross ideas," he informs her, and she nicks a chip from him in retaliation. He doesn't take one from her, because she'll learn about loss soon enough. All too soon with him. Perhaps she's even forming ideas already.

Maybe he likes that too.

"Funny still," she goes on, chewing with consideration, "all the ideas humans got about aliens probably being all wrong. Like they're all going to speak proper English. You never think about dialects. Planets having a North and all."

"There's a lot of things you lot don't think about and still entertain ideas over."

She gives him a look he can't quite read, at least not yet. He makes a note of it for when he might be able to.

"You know everything then, Doctor?"

"Yes," he says confidently. If it's not true now, it will be soon enough. Time teaches and he learns. He teaches and Rose learns.

Maybe Rose has something to teach as well, he thinks, and smiles when she steals another chip.

"I think you're full of it," she says, and whatever has started, he rather thinks he likes it.



Rose almost dies in a cellar in Cardiff.

Rose almost dies in Ten Downing Street.

Rose almost dies in a Utah bunker.

They're all his fault, even if not his will, because she's in his care and she's his responsibility and he can't lose her, refuses to lose her. He knows she is one life, and the world is millions and billions of lives and from the Universe's point of view, it's a more than fair trade.

It still doesn't feel it. He's already had to give a trade so unfair the burn of it still echoes in his head and he's not doing another. He could let her go, but that feels like another trade again and this time, he will be selfish. Will care for himself too.

He doesn't give her the option of leaving her. Not really. He knows his life is addictive, an addiction he's never kicked, but others have and he remembers. He remembers well enough to let Rose bring Adam along, simply because she cares.

He feels a little bit charitable about it all, and knows he's ever good at being selfish.



Sometimes, at night, he dreams about Romana.

She holds Gallifrey in her hands, cradling it like a child. It burns, but she doesn't cry, doesn't make a sound, only looks at him. Bright, so bright, but he can't look away.

Our child, she doesn't say, but she might as well. Our home. Our family.

Her hair is fire and her lips are red, curved in a smile that holds nothing but accusations. He wants to take them from her, kiss her to life and himself to death, but he can't move. Can't ever move, only watch.

Here burns Gallifrey, brighter than the sun, held ever so softly in her arms.

She holds it until she's ashes and he wakes, head burning with her.



"How do you feel about me?" Rose asks, and he wonders if humans learned subtly from the way they used to bash things with sticks. It certainly feels like he's been whacked over the head.

"You're annoying me," he says very firmly, and she is, standing between him and the TARDIS console he's itching to fiddle with, if only because the TARDIS doesn't ask what stroking it might mean.

Rose doesn't seem to take the annoyance factor too personally, but he can see some sort of worry in her eyes. "I mean, what Adam did... You're not... Not liking me for it?"

"Rose, Adam was a git all on his own."

She smiles a little. "He was a bit pretty, though."

"Never bring pretty on-board," he informs her, pushing her a little aside to get to the TARDIS, now humming impatiently. "Pretty is trouble."

"What am I then, ugly?"

"You're Rose," he says a little absentmindedly, and the TARDIS powers up into joyful song under his hand. She looks at him as if he's said something she doesn't quite get, but is enormously flattering all the same and he wonders if she might like stroking too.

It worries him he might like her to like it.

The next day, she asks to see her father, and he knows it will get ugly.

He still doesn't say no.



She fucks him in her bed in the TARDIS, without kissing or gentleness or whispered words and lights off. It's just need and want, and he gives, because he's seen his planet die before his eyes to save the Universe and he can understand what seeing your father die to save the world does to you.

Skin is a little comfort, and he lets his fingers travel across hers. Warm, softer in some spots than others, little marks of life across it. A scar there, a freckle there, a mole on her thigh that he wishes he could see. In the dark, he can only faintly see the palest spots of her skin, almost ghostly and distant even touched.

He hopes she doesn't let grief haunt her. He knows how it feels. He lives how it feels.

She sighs a little, head falling back and hair cascading down her back as he thrusts into her, just a little angrily. Because forgiveness doesn't mean the anger just goes away and because it isn't just her want that made him follow her into this room when she took his hand.

He isn't quite sure who fucks who, in the end.



Then there's Jack. Oh yes, there's Jack.

Pretty is trouble and Jack is plenty of both, that much is clear from first meeting. But with insults and pushing, Jack is also conscience, buried beneath the jokes and sex. Not buried well enough at all when even Rose sees, but every man has his lies.

The Doctor knows his, and knows taking Jack along on Rose's insistence is a sort of one. Because it's easier to let Rose push and think it only her moves. Easier to let Rose lead in the dance when he's not sure what it is, especially now that it is a threesome. It is a threesome, even when it's simply he and Rose dancing and Jack just watching. It is a threesome, even when it's Jack flirting and Rose blushing and the Doctor just watching. It is a threesome, even when it's Jack learning about the TARDIS from the Doctor and Rose just watching.

The Doctor, Rose and Jack, falling into a sort of rhythm. Better with two, she said once. Three isn't half bad either.

They have adventures, an amazing amount of them that seem to end up with Jack naked. Sometimes even in beds of others, and if Rose feels a little jealous, so does the Doctor. But Jack is what he is, and he always does return and they always say nothing. The next day, he will make a move on either one or both of them, as if it's just breathing to him and either would be a pleasure to inhale.

Little humans and their rushed sexualities, the Doctor thinks, and never says. He's always been good at the unspoken.

When Rose goes with Mickey in Cardiff, nothing is said either. It's not that sort of a threesome or even twosome, but when Rose returns, she looks as if she's moved on from something and he thinks a lot about to what.

He thinks a lot about what he's moved on to as well, and all the while, the Universe readies its own move.



They never die.

They just never die. The Universe never kills them, and he hates it a little.

The Daleks are alive and he knows many others will die. For a while, it looks like Rose is one of them and he can't feel anything but age, years and years of living crushing down on him. He's had so many lives. Rose should have at least one.

Will have at least one, he decides when he gets her back. His choice. He picks her to live, and knows Jack will die. He feels guilty for it, but he's used to guilt and used to having his own way and paying for it. Rose will live. Others will die.

He still hears her calling of his name echo in his mind long after the TARDIS has gone and feels all too young, almost like the first time he was shown what time could do and he ran away, thinking he could never carry that at all.

He was wrong then. He is wrong now.

He's not the only one with choices, he forgets. His seems simple enough. The Daleks for the Earth, this time. Is simple enough, should be simple enough. He's already traded Lynda for them, and Jack (oh Jack oh Jack oh) and himself, and the rest shouldn't be harder. Can't be harder. Just a few billion lives for all the Universe, and surely that is fair enough. Was fair enough for Gallifrey.

And he can't do it again.

He doesn't quite know why, just knows he's picked something else over killer this time. Maybe he doesn't love the Universe enough this time. Maybe he loves it too much.

"Coward," he says, and is. "Any day."



Death in a kiss. His death, Rose's life and this time, the trade seems fair. He has lives to give. She doesn't, but she was ready to, she and whatever of the TARDIS she holds and he kisses both. Time tastes like fire on her lips, but he doesn't let go, not until he's almost sure he's taken all of the time vortex from her and her memories of it too.

He wants her as Rose, and it's easier if she doesn't remember. Maybe it's stealing innocence from her and forcing innocence on her at the same time, but he still does it.

He hopes whatever he becomes after death doesn't mind too much. Hopes he won't be a total git this time around. Hopes Rose will like him still and feels a little jealous of all the thing he'll get to experience with her without being himself any more.

But that's all right. He might be ginger this time. He might not feel like an open wound, raw and bleeding, this time.

So, he kisses her to life and himself to death and even feels a little hopeful over it.



It's hard to pick up a relationship where it left off when you're really starting it all over again.

New Doctor. Same Rose. New hand. Same hold. New body. Same memories.

Humans are so attached to bodies, he knows, and shape identities around them. He is fond of bodies too, sure. Only not when they're rebelling against him.

Rose comes into 'his' room in the Tyler flat, watching him throw-up with only the tiniest amount of pity. It's the third day he's been sick after returning triumphant from the Sycorax, and he's done such a fine job of reassuring everyone it's just the last of the post-regeneration sickness and he'll be fine, honest! that only Jackie is treating him with any sort of pity. (And she's almost overdoing it to the point where he wonders if she's liking his new body a little too much.)

"I'm not avoiding you," Rose declares, flopping down on his bed and almost sitting down on his foot. He retracts it a little, lifting his head away from the bucket and watching her with just a little confusion.

"Okay!" he says brightly, because he didn't think she was. Didn't really think about it at all, really. Using too much really, really.

She looks a little oddly at him, and he wonders what that's about and whether or not he's meant to know. He remembers expressions she'd had, and expressions he's used, but there's a lot of information shacked up in his brain and sometimes the sleeping arrangements get a little confused. He doesn't forget. He can mislay.

"It's just, Mickey and Mum..." She trails off, staring so intently at his naked foot she's probably not seeing it at all. It occurs to him that he is in a state of undress, only a shirt on, and hasn't even thought about with Jackie around. Now he is, with Rose around.

That probably means something.

Bugger it, he decides, and sits up anyway.

"We'll go soon," he promises her and tries to feel a little less nauseated. Steering the TARDIS is a very, very bad idea in his current condition, but the thought of returning to it is already making him perk up considerably. The TARDIS and Rose and time, all new experiences to have. Without buckets to barf in. Probably.

"I'd like that," she says, almost shyly, and they sit in the silence until he starts babbling and she starts laughing and it is sort of old times anew after all.



Rose snogs him. He has time to find it a little surprising, especially her aggression and her unapologetic tongue. Somehow, he always thought she'd be a little more hesitant the first time, but maybe he's just impossible to resist.

He feels a bit proud at that, even as something of a nagging thought places itself in his mind and refuses to budge. Wrong voice, snogging and then talking about stuff Rose shouldn't know, not unless she's been late night studying to really impress him. Rose's body, certainly, but mind?

He likes the mind to go with the body and decides he will have it.

When he finds out it's Cassandra, he's a little surprised and a lot angry and the memory of Rose's lips is just a memory he puts no mind to.



The moment he sees Sarah Jane, he feels hundreds of years younger, past crashing into present with a loud enough bang to leave even a Time Lord dizzy. Sarah Jane. Older, but still bright, still clearly up to something, and he half wants to swing her around the room until everyone thinks he's lost it and he'll know he has.

Instead, he just babbles and remembers she always knew how to smile. Sarah Jane.

He isn't that surprised when he finds her poking about, but she is certainly surprised to see him. Surprised enough to take a little while to start asking questions, and oh, he remembers that too. The answers seem half of the past and half of the future, and Rose keeps looking at him after, as if Sarah Jane is a betrayal to her and the opposite isn't even possible.

He remembers why he's left companions behind.

The past doesn't end there, with K-9 and more questions and hurt he's never much thought about. He moved on. Why can't humans? They don't have a TARDIS, but they have a mind that is much better - forgetting, suppressing, making memories out of the past and seeing only the now.

He sees so much more, and the questions Rose asks him, he's seen coming in her eyes a while. They still leave him a little breathless, a little angry and a little hurt. He's not going to leave her behind. He never leaves any of them behind, not really. He just stops ripping them away from their lives. Stops watching time take them from him. Stops them leaving him, as they do.

He never keeps them.

He loves them too much for that.



In the moment he sees himself as a God, his head burns with possibilities. Gallifrey back. Romana back, to hold their planet as in a womb, safe and protected. Sarah Jane. Bright and questions and answers he can give, and show and share and mysteries enough to fill even her inquisitive mind. Rose. Youth and enthusiasm, ever offered hand and laughter to be shared. The Universe, his, his, his, no pain or death or Daleks.

No change.

Rose's eyes and Sarah Jane's word, and the image slips and he sees it for what it is. Rules. He never made rules. He broke them.

He breaks this, breaks the Krillitanes, breaks K-9 to break them, and breaks Sarah Jane's heart too. There's always a mess, but he decides to clean this one.

To his surprise, Rose is even keen on having Sarah Jane travel with them, but Sarah Jane has other ideas and he wonders at change and its unpredictability. Wonders at Mickey and Rose and roles reversed, but decides the offer he made to Mickey once must still count. Still a Smith on board, then.

Still a goodbye to make.

He says a lot of silly things and feels a little jealous at the life they choose over him, the life he can't have and doesn't quite want and thus is ever safe to envy, just a little.

His Sarah Jane.

He leaves her K-9, because she deserves a whole heart, and someone to be with her and he; he's got Rose waiting.

He remembers why he's always found someone new.



He lives a lifetime with Reinette in a few hours, feeling breathless and off his feet. Saving her, though she is no victim at all. Holding her hand, thinking maybe he can fake human life, just as long as she does. Feeling understanding, even if she stole it from his mind. Reinette, smarts and sense and seduction, the King's Mistress and for a few hours, a Time Lord's dance.

Then she dies. A few minutes of his time, a few years of hers, enough to remind him why he isn't human at all.

Death ends them. It changes him.

A lifetime for Reinette. A few hours for him. He's not sure which side is the most unfair, but when he folds her letter away, he folds her away in his mind too and lets the pain of her loss join the others.

It won't be alone there.



Reinette is dead. Rose is alive.
The TARDIS dies. He gives of his life.
Ricky dies. Mickey stays.
Pete is dead in one Universe. Jackie dies in another.
And he begins to wonder what balancing act the Universe is planning next.



Mickey leaves them, but Rose stays, her choice to go with him reaffirmed. Twosome reaffirmed, and he enjoys it, enjoys falling into jokes and ease and adventures on a Vespa. Not the adventure he had planned, but millions of people saved from the Wire is not a bad trade for Elvis.

But nothing is ever a trade for the TARDIS. Him and her, the only pair in the Universe, and she's ripped from him into darkness. He can't bear the loss of her, so he doesn't feel it and lets Rose think about a future he can't even see. She'll probably lead him into it, stubborn young Rose, romance in her heart and dreams in her eyes. Making the best of things, and he wants to kiss her and flee from her at the same time for it.

There is no best without the TARDIS. There's only avoiding the worst.

Rose and the Doctor, the only pair of that sort in the Universe too, and he gets to break it down in the Pit. A trap, of sorts, the Universe for her and he's always been rather bad at those choices. He can't help it. He keeps having hope and believing in people and generally being a smartarse with a gob.

The Ood are lost, but this time, he wins the day. Not just Rose, but the TARDIS and the Universe too, gambling it all on a pair of hope and defiance and beating a full house.

He feels good about that until Rose tells him to stop smirking like a football nutter watching England win the World Cup and then he just feels good about where he'll take her next. Him and the TARDIS, him and Rose, him and the Universe, twosome reaffirmed.



He forgets who kisses who (which probably means it was him, as he is always good at forgetting the inconvenient), even who slammed who into the warehouse wall, but it's her fingers that unzip his pants and it's his fingers that hike up her skirt and it's definitely his hands on her arse steadying her and it's most assuredly her tongue in his ear.

Right. Shagging.

Humans like it, Time Lords do too, after a fashion, and it's definitely not the first time for him and and it's not technically the first time with Rose either, but it feels like the first of something. It's not grief or comfort or experimentation (ah, University days) or even strictly necessary, because he's pretty sure Rose knows all the things he hasn't said and isn't trying to shag it out of him.

Lust, then, and he wonders vaguely where he's picked it up from, at least until Rose bites down on his bottom lip and everything is very, very much flesh and body and Rose and him.



Forever, she keeps talking about. At first, he warns her against it, holds her hand and feels the storm of time form, but then her innocence seems almost catching. He begins to think of the impossible and holding on and Rose smiles at him and maybe, maybe, maybe.

Sometimes, she kisses him and sometimes he kisses her, and it isn't really needed to be whatever it is they are, but he lets her sexuality be a little catching too.

"How long are you going to stay with me?" he asks, always asks.

"Forever," she says, always says, like a ritual.

He likes words, has always liked words, and lets himself be a little lost in this one.



Rose for the Universe again. He's getting sick of that. Daleks again. He's getting even sicker of that. Cybermen again. He's getting sick of that too, just to be consistent.

He tries to send her away, just like he did before. Just like before, she doesn't let him. Picks him over her mother and the chance to have her father back, over Mickey, over safety and he can't even blame her, because he's taught her to be selfish.

Afterwards, he decides, he's going to kiss her and shag her and hate her a little, because he feels her hurts too.

He's already thinking about afterwards, but time has always been a better rebel than him. It doesn't bend to Time Lords. It just curves itself into a new shape and Rose falls. Towards the Void, and he can only look, can only feel, feel, feel, feel.

Pete saves her, and then she is gone. To normal life in another Universe, not to the Void, and he should be glad for that at least, but he is too tired and too old. Too selfish, because either is without him. He would've let her go, did let her go, but when she came back and the Universe took her anyway, it feels like a cheat.

He doesn't remember walking back to the TARDIS, but he does remember standing in it, listening to it live and time howl within it. Future and past and present, dancing together, killing everything it also gives life. Womb and grave and all in-between, time.

He hates it a little, he decides, because he feels the hurts too.



He doesn't let go that easily. At first, he thinks of a million ways to get her back, but they all end badly for the Universe and he is quite fond of that too. At second, he thinks about being selfish and kissing her while stars burn around them and then he thinks she would learn to hate him for it. At third, he thinks of Jackie and Pete and second chances and impossibilities that happen after you've let go.

So he does. He burns a star to say goodbye, and she tells him what he knows, has seen in her eyes so many times. He doesn't get to tell her what she knows, must know, and it feels like a strange sort of irony.

Just a silly little word remaining open and Rose's name walking into memory, where all the others are waiting for her.



The TARDIS is adrift in time and space, a little vessel in a giant sea, and the Doctor is waiting for a particular wind to catch him. There's no rush, though there undoubtedly will be as soon as he finds himself somewhere. For now, all the possibilities are exciting enough. A whole Universe of them, and they never run out.

"Doctor?" Martha asks, eyes glittering in the light of the TARDIS as she looks at him. "Why do you never finish your crosswords?"

"They're much more fun to start?" he suggests. "Where did you find that?"

She gives him a look that probably means she's gone snooping again. "Just needs one word here to be complete. Word for love, four letters?"

He thinks, remembering Sarah Jane and Reinette and Pete and Jackie and Susan and Mickey and Jack and Romana and everyone else and Rose, oh yes, his Rose too, still the freshest hurt of them all.

"Life," he says, and the TARDIS spins into it, time all around it as it goes and adventures waiting and hurts waiting and everything in-between and he's never let it go.

Yes, he decides. Life.