Well, this was pretty much my reaction to Rose's "conclusion" in Journey's End. Sorry about the extreme "old news" aspect of it now--I lost the fic for a while and just found it on a pen drive. Er, this isn't a happy fic. At all. (Don't get me wrong, I love the fluffy 10.5/Rose fics to pieces. I just...didn't write one.) If it's still your cup of tea, I hope that you enjoy the read.

--

Hearts As Big As Apples

(and apples in the shape of mary's heart)

--

The ride back from Norway, once Pete arranges for their transportation, is permeated by that restless unquiet that follows the realization that things have changed irrevocably. Jackie sits in the front seat, alternating between tapping out messages on her sliver-thin mobile and answering ceaseless questions from the Doctor.

This new, different Doctor chose to sit in the back seat with her, and Rose is both thrilled and rueful. She is still mourning Mickey, her dearest and most constant friend, and yet she can't shake the recent memory of the Doctor's lips against hers—unrestrained, for no reason at all but because he wanted to. It's a dizzying concept.

They're not even back on English soil when the Doctor's head sinks to her shoulder. For one brief, terrifying moment, she's sure that something's happened to him. But he snores, this new Doctor, and suddenly she remembers that's he's half-human (and even if he wasn't, he's just regenerated after all—or something like that; she's still not clear on the specifics).

She pulls him down onto her lap and strokes his hair absentmindedly, studying him. She remembers her mother's romance novels, the racy ones that sometimes talk of the hardened romantic hero's sleeping face. They're always the same, different words but the same scenario: he drifts off and all of his cares disappear, leaving something cherubic behind.

The Doctor's face is just slack. There is no hint of peace there, simply unawareness.

Suddenly Rose Tyler gets a glimpse of what she has accepted, what she has brought upon herself.

The Doctor does not wake when she begins to have a panic attack.

--

His need for her is almost fanatical. He follows her everywhere: to Pete's, to work, to her little flat, to her bedroom. He kisses her like she's the most important thing in the universe, licks into her like she's all he has. She barely has to hint before he's fucking her like he was born to do it.

And every moment she's trying to convince herself that this is right. She sneaks glances at him across the supper table, listens in as he asks about every aspect of Torchwood, traces the swirling pattern of hair at the nape of his neck while he lies across her. He acts and reacts like her Doctor, and she tries again to tell herself that's what he is. Just…a little modified.

But when he whispers "my Rose" conspiratorially, she can't respond with "my Doctor."

--

She finds him outside one particularly clear night, staring past the trees and the buildings and the zeppelins to the stars beyond. His eyes slide from one to another, his face a mask of longing as his tongue flicks out to moisten his lips.

She coughs lightly and he spins around, already smiling and holding out his arms for her. The expression is so different, so very much a lie, that for one blinding moment of panic, she's certain he's going to go off and leave her alone again.

Then she remembers that he can't. He's trapped here, an exotic bird with clipped wings.

--

He tries so hard to be good for her. He does everything he can think of to make her happy. He is always available, always giving, always cheerful. He wins Jackie and Pete over completely within days; he becomes Tony's very best friend. Rose's team at Torchwood consults him as frequently as they do her. He plays her body like a fine instrument and her emotions much the same.

She wonders sometimes where the rage and pain the original Doctor warned of resides.

And then, sometimes, she knows. When a small fleet enters Earth's atmosphere, the Doctor pulls rank on her and ordered Torchwood to destroy it. Only after it has been reduced to ash and flaming hail does he evasively explain to her that the species in question had a history of violent encounters.

She bites her tongue instead of asking if their violent encounters were worse than what he just did—but only because of the look she sees in his eyes: the absolute cold vindication of one who can't be convinced his actions were anything less than justified.

But even that doesn't worry her nearly as much as the fact that he tries so very hard. Surely, she thinks, he shouldn't have to struggle quite this much.

--

His mouth is pressed against her neck, and those hands of his are sliding all over her pink blouse. She flattens one palm against his chest almost unconsciously, and then it's all she can hear, all she can feel: the steady dah-dum dah-dum of a heart beating solo. It's the most normal sound in the world, and she hates it.

He pulls back to stare at her when she stills, and for a moment he seems pained. Then he wraps his fingers around her wrist like an unbreakable band, holding her hand there. "It's me," he hisses, his face terrible in that moment. "This is me. The Doctor. The same as I've always been. It's just biological. That doesn't change who I am."

She averts her eyes from his burning expression. She knows. The same, the same. The same man who whisked her from the estate in the first place, the same man who showed her the universe.

He pulls her hand up then, pressing a soft kiss into the creases of her palm. There's a thick desperation in his voice when he murmurs, "Please, you're my everything."

She doesn't think she's strong enough to fix him. Not this time.

--

He's hunched across the table, facing her, waiting for their meals to come. He's smiling at something (not her, though), but the pinched lines between his eyes scream of unhappiness. She bites her tongue deeply as a memory comes back, sharp and pertinent.

Sitting with him on a tiny hunk of rock suspended just outside the maw of endless nothing, no TARDIS, no hope. Making a joke that wasn't really a joke about them spending the rest of their lives together in a little house, living a normal life.

God, what an idiot she'd been. She doesn't want normal. She doesn't want a flat and laundry days and going out for dinner every once in a while. She wants clinging-together-out-of-breath-never-gonna-leave-you-'til-I-die. She wants the terror of knowing that it could end at any moment, the rush of realizing she made it another day and she still has him.

What she wanted, on the impossible planet, was the promise of forever—or, at least, the way humans imagine forever.

And now she has it.

And she wishes, wishes to god, that she'd never made the suggestion at all. Because then, maybe then, the Doctor wouldn't have left her behind with this diminished copy and expected her to be content.

"What?" the Doctor says, the lines on his face deepening as he sees her put a hand over her mouth, trying to keep the hysterics in. "Rose, what?"

She shakes her head and tries to calm down before the waitress arrives with their dishes.

--

She finds him sitting in a park, staring into the sky again as if searching for some message.

"I'm not him, am I? Not enough, anyway."

And she's acknowledged now what she'd known from the beginning: he's too human for her to ever love fully. She loved the Doctor, the Lonely God, the Time Lord. She loved him for the strangeness and the aloofness and the uncertainty. She loved him, but she also loved his way of life. This Doctor has nothing to offer her but himself, and she hates herself a little for discovering that's not actually enough.

Conversely, he's too Time Lord to ever be happy. He'll always want more than Sundays with the Tylers and her one-bedroom flat. He has all of the original Doctor's memories and thoughts, and he will never forget the grind of TARDIS engines or the feel of alien turf under his feet. And even if he does—or could—love her with his whole being, he'll never stop yearning for the universe beyond the tiny little planet that he is now pinned to as surely as she is.

And both of them have no one to blame but the one person neither wants to: the Doctor himself, the true one, the whole one. The one that soothed his own pain and guilt by shoving them together and thinking they could be complete.

(How could he have thought she'd ever be happy with a human Doctor when the real one still exists?)

"I'm sorry," Rose Tyler says. I'm sorry that my need for him trapped you here. I'm sorry that you'll never see the universe again. I'm sorry I don't love you enough to make you forget what you've had taken away.

He stares at her for a moment, and his expression is utterly blank. His eyes are calculating, as though he's tallying her worth against everything else. He nods once, and she suddenly has the feeling that she has been weighed and been found wanting.

"I am too," he says, and he turns back to the hazy and distant stars.