Disclaimer: I wish I owned Doctor Who. Then I could bring Rose back. But I don't. And I can't. I deal with it; so can you.


The yell rings out, a single syllable echoing through the trees with force enough to dwarf its source's skinny frame. One syllable, then it's choked back by fear and anguish. The Doctor watches, paralysed, as the shadow tightens its grip on Rose's throat. Tendrils of darkness already bind fast her arms, legs, chest. The wispy, insubstantial blackness has her thoroughly defeated; and the Doctor can do nothing to stop it. It spreads out behind her, like the looming spectre of mortality, curling around itself in sinister undulations. Rose tries to speak, but the words fall silently from the tip of her tongue.

The Doctor doesn't even know what it is. Maybe he never will. They chased it, the two of them, through time and space. The Tardis had alerted them of some malicious presence, flitting between time streams chaotically. And, well, the Doctor was never one to ignore something like that. Finally, they halted its progress; forced it into a confrontation. Just to learn what it was.

Now he wishes he had ignored it, as the last light fades from Rose's eyes, and the monster releases her. The darkness retreats, slipping away like draining water, and it is gone, back into the vortex. The night gives way to a profound silence, and still he cannot move. His heart beats. Then the other one. Then he's running across the leaf litter, crashing through the trees…

She's gone. Lost. The Doctor sobs into her hair as he cradles Rose's body. He's failed her. Jackie. Everyone. All the promises he's made, all the solemn, determined oaths, now lay shattered. Rose is dead, her blossom wilted and brown. She's so young. It wasn't her time. Everything has its time, I know. But this wasn't hers. She's too young.

Time is an illusion.


He's landed the Tardis on the other side of the wood. It screeched in protest all the way there, but he was resolute. Even a time ship as wilful as this can be overpowered by a Time Lord driven by madness. For madness it is. Grief has taken him over, and he's thrown every convention he ever upheld into the Void. Time is an illusion, and illusions have no laws. They can send an army of Reapers; he doesn't care. All that matters now is Rose.

There. The shadow filters between the trees, moonlight streaming through the wreaths of darkness. It moves slowly, but it's being followed. In minutes, Rose and the other Doctor will find it, and confront t. Rose will try to talk to it, in a kind, inquisitive voice. And it will kill her. If he doesn't stop it. He leaps out from amongst the trees, and it turns on him. It arrows itself toward him, as it did to Rose. He points his sonic screwdriver at it and it recoils. It's not sure of the danger, but it's not taking any chances either. It retreats as it did the last time, but the Doctor is expecting that. He activates the screwdriver, which, augmented by the Tardis, closes the rift the monster has created. It's trapped between two time streams; the pressure builds and it collapses in on itself. The monster is eradicated.

The Doctor hears his own voice from somewhere nearby. Two worlds tremble on the edge of the stillness.

"It's gone again! Come on, Rose, into the Tardis. We'll catch it."

The voice dies on the wind, and is replaced by the familiar sound of the time rotor as the Tardis takes the other him away, with Rose in tow. Rose. Living, breathing, Rose.



His eyes snap open. He's on the Tardis, in the control room. What? There's a pause. Then he registers the voice. He grins like a lunatic and turns his face towards the speaker. Tears of joy glisten for a moment in his eyes, but she doesn't notice.

"Yes, Rose?"

She sighs slightly, as if from relief. She mirrors his smile, but makes it her own. Her own beautiful smile. "You spaced out for a bit there," she laughs. "What's wrong, are we not chasing this thing any more?"

He shakes himself inwardly, and turns his gaze to the readouts. The disturbance is gone, but he knew that. He killed the monster. No. Not him. Another Doctor. The madman that let Rose die. That's not him any more.

"It's gone, Rose."

"What, just like that? Just…gone?"

"Yup. I must've lost the trace. Sorry about that. I think it's what the professionals call 'a wild goose chase.' Anyway, let's get going. Where do you --"

Bang. It hits him like a speeding train. A wall of death. He's ripped a hole in the time-space continuum, and now it's repairing itself. With a million lives. That planet wasn't uninhabited, and now millions of people around the wound have paid the price for the Doctor's act of heroism. And he can feel it. Chaos, destruction, extermination, all pounding inside his skull.

A million people screaming inside his head.


He was asleep for a week. Whether he meant it or not, Emergency Programme One activated itself, and landed them in the Powell Estate. Rose placed him in the bed in the spare room, as she had done last Christmas. She stayed by his bedside the whole time, silently imploring him to wake up, whilst praying that the Sycorax weren't after a repeat performance. Jackie made sarcastic comments about him spending half his time in a coma, whilst leaving steaming cups of black tea on the bedside-table, "just in case."

He's awake. He's been awake for a while now, long enough in fact to have bundled Rose into the Tardis and be on the time-space highway again. He hasn't yet told her what induced the coma. But, after many abandoned conversations and meaningless, please-be-satisfied answers, she finally gets it out of him. And it hits her hard. Not as hard as it hit him, but then she doesn't have the victims wailing in her ears. He offers, under his breath, to take her home. She declines; she may not like it, but she understands it - she tried to do the same thing for her father. The death upsets her, and she tries immensely hard to be like the Doctor himself, who has obviously been dogged by death for ten lifetimes, and carries on despite it. It's far from easy, but she carries on. But there is always one little voice; one screaming victim at the back of her mind that makes her uneasy. It tells her that it won't ever be the same, no matter how hard she tries.

There are some things that even time can't heal.

A/N: Wow, now that's depressing. Sorry if this fic brought anyone down, but I couldn't think of anther way to do it. Oh and mea-kh, if it's after my deadline - forgive me! I've been absolutely snowed under and my lack of Internet didn't help either.