Disclaimer: I do not own Doctor Who (BBC does). I am making no profit from this story; I simply love to write.
Notes: Ninth Doctor, in the new series. Spoilers up until the finale of Series 1.
He'd stopped believing in them around the age of three hundred and two, and even given the age he usually told people he was, that was a third of his life. It was rather more like a quarter if he stopped to do the actual math, but he'd been nine hundred-ish for centuries enough that he'd almost stopped counting.
(Not as if a Time Lord could stop counting. The combination of math and time were more natural than breathing. He could stop breathing. Couldn't stop counting.)
But—happy endings. No such thing. Oh, his companions thought he believed everything would turn out all right. They always thought the best of him, his companions, even the ones he brought along to keep his impulses in check. And they were always fooled by the smile, the decision that yes, the victory had been worth the cost, and everything was going to turn out just fine. Happy ending. Everyone lives.
The Time War hadn't robbed him of that belief. He'd robbed himself of it too long ago, watching people die and friends betray. Oh, there could be happiness in endings, but never a happy ending. Never something perfect and complete. Even "everyone lives!" wasn't completely happy. Given that there was a war going on and all, it was hard for anything to be perfect, though he'd managed to sell himself on that one for awhile.
He'd managed to sell himself on an awful lot when Rose was around.
Was that a good thing? Probably not. In fact, he should probably drop her and the flirting Time Agent-become-con man back off where they belonged, ditch both, and find someone who didn't seem to care so much about him. Of course, they all had a pesky habit of doing that eventually, but if he dropped them soon enough, the problem was less annoying. Especially Rose. She had a habit of caring too much.
And he had acquired a terrifying habit of smiling back at her. Right from that moment where she'd gone from helpless passenger to actual friend, looking at him and saying "You've got me."
Three stupid little words (would have been four if she hadn't used a contraction), and he couldn't do the smart thing and drop her off. Why was it that half the humans he picked up somehow managed to worm their way into whatever little space there was between his two hearts and make him care about them? Make him give a damn if they lived or they died, if they were happy or they were sad. And he didn't want to make Rose sad.
Nevermind that her Mum would probably slap him again if he did. Not that he'd be around to get slapped, but even a wallop by Jackie Tyler wasn't enough to deter him. No, it was Rose. That silly stupid little ape of a human girl, who looked at him like he wasn't perfect, didn't have all the answers, but like he was a living, breathing being who was alive and hurting.
She'd noticed that he was hurting, yet she'd never pushed too far. If she had, Rose would've never made it as far as a second stop. He didn't want someone to wrap him in some lovely embrace and make the pain go away. The pain wouldn't go away, and he wasn't even sure if he'd have wanted a magic solution (if there had been one, which there wasn't). He wanted distraction, and she seemed to sense that. Keep him on his toes, keep him moving, ask him questions and fight with him when she thought he was wrong.
He might have called her perfect, if he'd been the sort. He might have called her just what he needed, if he'd been a romantic sop. Thankfully, he wasn't.
What he was was an old and bitter Time Lord, who'd lied to her about his age and a half-dozen other things. He'd keep on lying to her, too, right until she walked away, because they all did eventually, and Rose would be no different. Either he'd ditch her or she'd leave. End of story.
He didn't believe in happy endings, see, and there was too much happy in having her around for it to last.