The stories that follow are a paired. The opposite story is called How He Loved Her and can be found on my Author page. Both stories follow Rose's chronology and will be updated simultaneously.
Three: The One Who Cried
Rose Tyler was a tiny little thing, too small for her age at almost four, but already possessed of an assertive personality that often set adults giggling behind their hands at her, even as they scolded her for her audacious behavior. So when her mother, Jackie, ignored her at the play park for almost ten minutes (though to her toddler mind, it was more like ten years), she set off at a brisk but infant trot for the sandbox by herself.
As she approached, she was surprised to see a very tall, very messy looking man crumpled on the nearby bench, sobbing bitterly. She looked longingly at the sandbox, then over her shoulder for her mother, and finally at the man, before chewing her lip, crawling up onto the bench beside him, and taking his hand. "What hurt?" she asked, as best as she could. She didn't have much of a vocabulary yet, after all.
The man nearly jumped out of his seat, snatched his hand away from hers, and looked down at her with eyes wide and wondering. "But... how... why... no no no no no no no."
"Sorry? Is bad?"
"No," he said, then slumped with his head in his hands. "Yes."
"I kiss it better?"
He looked at her now, his mouth hanging wide open, his eyes almost as wide as his mouth.
"You funny," she said with a giggle, then realized that his expression had taken a turn for the worse. "I sorry, I not laugh."
He looked around slowly, then turned back to her finally and winked. "You laugh all you want, Rose Tyler," he said. "Laugh and cry and sing and dance and be brilliant."
"We..." she struggled with some way to ask him if he was a stranger, since she wasn't supposed to talk to those. Of course, he did know her name and that suggested that they had been introduced at some time. "You friend?" finally seemed to work.
"Oh yes, little one," he said. "The very best of friends, I promise you. Where's your mum?"
"Her talking to Robbie. Mummy not listen to me!" she told him indignantly.
"She's good for that, yeah," he agreed. "Well, if it's just the two of us, what would you like to do?"
"Sandbox!" she said.
The man looked at his rumpled blue suit, shrugged, and shucked his jacket. Then he took her hand and led her over to the box. Jackie came over the hill, apparently saw her having fun with her friend, and turned back to her conversation. Rose pouted for a moment, then sat happily with the man and made a brilliant sandcastle, with tall towers and swirls. He pulled something from his jacket pocket and set it inside the castle entrance he'd made for them. All at once, the castle trembled a little, then burst into brilliant, sparkling light.
"It soooo pretty," she told him excitedly. "Thank you!"
"Thank you," he replied solemnly. His face fell. "It'll be gone soon, though, Rose. Nothing lasts forever."
"I know. Ok, though. Get new, yeah?"
"Not as good as the original, though. You'll be out here tomorrow building sand castles with Mickey. They'll not be as good, will they?"
"I not play with Mickey. He cries!"
"I'd try to encourage you, but it won't do any good. Besides, I was crying, wasn't I?"
"Yes." She thought about it, and couldn't figure out how to say that Mickey cried because he didn't want to do what she told him to, even though it would make the castle better, and then cried again when it fell down because he hadn't listened, and then said mean things to her and cried some more when she got mad. "That differnt, you hurt."
"Yes," he admitted, and it sounded almost as if it had hurt him to say even that.
"Why?" she asked, wanting to help.
"Because I lost someone... I..." He started crying again, so she climbed into his lap and held his hand and brushed the tears off his face as they fell in a relative flood.
"I sorry. It not better, then?"
"Not for a long, long time, no."
"Oh." She sat with him and told him a story her nan had told her when she cried once, about a cat with nine lives that always came back, even if you didn't think it would. She messed up the words quite a bit, and forgot part of it, but she knew he understood, she could just tell.
"You'd better go back to your mum, now," he said quietly. "She'll get worried."
"I know." He laughed, even if he still sounded a little sad, and brushed the sand from her cheek. "That can happen with me around."
"We play again soon?"
"When you're older, Rose," he promised. "You won't see me for a long time, but when you're older, we'll see everything."
"Ok, I wait." Then she got up and got ready to go back up the hill to her mum. Instead, she tripped over the edge of the sandbox and landed, with a thud, on the ground. More surprised then hurt, she let out a shocked little wail.
Then, he was there, picking her up, holding her tightly, brushing her off tenderly to see if she had broken anything. "Are you ok, Rose? Are you hurt?"
"I fine," she said, though her knee did sting a bit where it had hit the edge of the box. "Owie," she added, as his hand brushed her knee.
"Let me see," he said, and sat with her back down on the bench. "Yes, that'll sting a bit." He rifled through his pockets until he found a pink sticking plaster and a bit of something that looked like it might sting a lot.
He rubbed it over her knee to clean it, but she was surprised that it didn't hurt after all. Then he applied the sticking plaster with deft hands and smiled at her. "All better?"
"No," she informed him indignantly. "You gots to kiss it, remember?"
"Doctors don't do that," he said. Nevertheless, he kissed his hand and then tapped her knee with it. "Better now?"
"I guess. I have to go?"
"Yes, Rose," he said. "I'm sorry. It's time, though. Your mum will come for you shortly. I just... Rose Tyler, I love you. I love you so much. Please, please, please take care of yourself, now and forever. Promise me."
Baffled by his strange words, but willing to help him if she could, she nodded. "Promise. Love you, too, Doctor," she added, because it made sense at that moment.
"Oh, you precious little thing." And he cuddled her close and cried some more, cold wet tears dripping into her hair. He gave good cuddles and smelled nice, so she was happy, even if she was getting cried on.
Then, he drew back and kissed her lightly on the forehead. "Go on, little one. You won't remember me, but try to remember some day when it's important that I love you forever."
"Bye, Doctor," she said and waved at him, scrambling up the hill, careful of her knee. Then the air went funny and he was gone. At the top of the hill, she found Jackie racing toward her.
"Rose, what happened, I heard you cry. And who were you talking to earlier?"
"My friend," she said.
"I didn't see anybody," Jackie said.
"He gone now," she said. Then, she pointed to her bandage. "The Doctor gimme a plaster. It pretty."
"Yes, it is," Jackie agreed. She could only assume that Rose had met a father and son down there, and maybe Jackie hadn't noticed them because she'd been too intent on Rose. "Don't wander off again, young lady. Someone will run off with you!"
"When I older," Rose said, firmly, much to her mother's baffled amusement. "Not 'til then, k?"
"Ok, Rose. Just play up here where I can see you."
"Love you, mummy."
"Love you too, Sweetheart."