"You're back home," I told Rose, trying desperately not to be affected by the confused and hurt look on her face. Donna prattled on about the explanation but I didn't pay attention. I'd known what I had to do, I knew that my hearts were going to be torn to pieces once again. It never got less painful, losing someone. If anything, it only got worse. And this ranked up there with the absolute worst.
"See, I really get my stuff now."
"Yeah, but… I spent all that time trying to find you!" Rose protested desperately, every syllable increasing the fractures in my hearts. "I'm not going back now!"
"Well, you've got to," I said, every much as convincing myself this was the right thing as I was her. "Cuz we saved the universe but at a cost. And the cost is him." I nodded at the other me, a little ways behind Rose. "He destroyed the Daleks, he committed genocide. He's too dangerous to be left on his own." It was why I'd insisted on Rose traveling with me. Why I'd asked twice. I could tell Rose was something different, something special, and I'd known I was in need of an influence like hers. I just hadn't expected how much she would end up meaning to me.
"You made me!" the other Doctor protested, offended.
"Exactly. You were born in battle. For the blood and anger and revenge." I looked back to Rose, attempting to smile. "Remind you of someone? That's me. When we first met. And you made me better. Now you can do the same for him."
"But he's not you." Her voice was softer. She knew she was losing.
"He needs you," I pointed out. "That's very me." It was the closest I would ever get to telling her.
"But it's better than that, though," Donna spoke up. "Don't you see what he's trying to give you?" She stared at the other Doctor. "Tell her, go on!"
Rose turned away to give the other me a questioning look. I watched him, every moment wanting to sink into the sand and lose it.
"I look like him, I think like him. Same memories, same thoughts, same everything. Except I've only got one heart."
"Which means?" Her voice was almost meek.
"I'm part human." Those words made it more official. This really was happening. I really was losing Rose all over again. "Specifically the aging part. I'll grow old and never regenerate. I've only got one life, Rose Tyler. I could spend it with you. If you want," he added as an after-thought. We both knew there was the chance she wouldn't take up the offer, that she would stubbornly dismiss the new Doctor and believe in me.
"You'll grow old at the same time as me?" she asked quietly.
I couldn't help the twitch on my lips that formed a sort of half smile as Rose reached out to feel the other Doctor's single heartbeat. However painful it was, I was happy for her. And him, to tell the truth. They both were getting what they wanted. Granted, it wasn't picture perfect and it would take time to rebuild the relationship, but they still got each other. And that would make all the difference.
Everyone started when we heard the TARDIS. I looked back to Rose.
"We gotta go. This reality is sealing itself off," I told her as Donna and I turned to leave. "Forever."
"But—" She scrambled to follow me. "It's still not right! Cuz the Doctor's… still… still you!"
"And I'm him."
Suddenly she seemed to accept it. "All right. Both of you, answer me this." Both of us Doctors walked closer to her, waiting. "When I last stood on this beach, the worst day of my life, what was the last thing you said to me?" She was directing the question to me. I hesitated. I couldn't say it, not now, not in this situation. It was for her sake, the new Doctor's sake, and mine. But, at the same time, I couldn't lie to Rose. "Go on, say it!" she pushed.
"I said 'Rose Tyler.'" It took a great deal of effort to even say that much. She stared at me expectantly.
"Yeah… and how was that sentence gonna end?"
"Doesn't need saying," I said with a slight shake of my head. She already knew what it was. She didn't need to hear it from my lips to know it was true. But she turned to the other Doctor anyway.
"And you, Doctor? What was the end of that sentence?"
But he was already leaning forward, whispering in her ear. And I knew what he was saying, even though I couldn't hear it. I watched the expression on Rose's face expectantly, almost wishing she would still turn away from him and look for me. However, when he pulled back, giving her the same expectant look that was on my face, she grabbed his jacket and smashed her lips against his. The two wrapped their arms around each other, finally getting what they both needed.
And I watched the luckiest man alive kiss my Rose. I watched myself wrap my arms around her tightly, unwilling to ever let go. But it wasn't me. It was a copy, a more fortunate copy than I ever would be. And I couldn't stand to watch any longer.
So without a word, without a final good-bye, as it wasn't good-bye for her, she still had a Doctor, I turned around and left, knowing the pain would never cease.
A/N: I love reviewers and live for constructive criticism!