Title: The Fluidity of Time
Author: sinecure
Character/Pairing: Ten/Rose
Rating: All ages
Genre: Angst, drama, romance
Summary: Some decisions just shouldn't be made.
Disclaimer: I don't own Doctor Who.
Author's Notes: to JennyLD for the beta, even though she thought this would be better as a multi-chapter fic.

The Doctor strode purposely over to the lever Rose had just lost her grip on and ran a scan on it with the sonic screwdriver.

"You shouldn't be here," the other him said quietly, straightening up and slipping his hands in his pockets.

Putting the sonic screwdriver back into his pocket, he took a deep breath and focused on his younger self. "Make sure she sets this lever tight. It's very important. Don't-- don't turn it on until this lever is set."

The other him tossed his head back with a sharp inhale. "You shouldn't be here. You shouldn't be telling me--"

"Set the lever," he said, voice hard, "or lose her. Forever."

The other him nodded once, a short, sharp dip of his head.


12 months later--

The Doctor fought against the tears gathering in his eyes as he kissed his daughter's wrinkled forehead. She croaked out a few weak sounds, flailing her tiny limbs in his arms. "Alexia," he whispered, cradling her to his chest for a few precious moments. He smoothed a finger down her arm and over her little hand, smiling as her fingers curled up, trying to grasp it.

He inhaled deeply and turned, handing his daughter to the woman beside him.

"Doctor?"

Standing up and tearing his eyes from her small body, he glanced at the woman on the bed. "Her name is Alexia. Rose--" Eyes caressing Rose's face, he whispered, "Her name is Alexia." Leaning down, he kissed Rose's still lips, shuddering at the coldness of them.

Turning from the small, cramped room, he left his daughter behind, left Rose behind.

"Doctor!" the midwife called after him, Alexia's cries nearly drowning her out. "Where are you going?"

He shut the door and strode down the hall to the TARDIS, closing the doors and his eyes against his daughter's cries. Pushing away from the doors, he strode up the ramp to the controls and set the coordinates. The instant she landed, he walked back out the doors, leaving the TARDIS behind.

He barely even glanced at his surroundings as he crossed the hotel room to the bedside table. Grabbing a few foil packets from his pockets, he tossed them in the drawer, dropped a few more to the top of the nightstand and then, for good measure, turned to the second TARDIS in the room. Making his way to his own bedroom, he set the box of condoms on the nightstand there and left.


9 months later--

The Doctor drew his hand over Rose's eyes, closing them one final time. Gunshots sounded around him, bombs went off meters away, but his attention didn't stray from Rose. He wiped the blood from her mouth with his torn shirt and smoothed a hand through her singed hair. Ignoring the shouts of Preeola telling him to take cover, he pressed a gentle kiss to Rose's lips, and stood up.

He walked away from the gunfire, the bombings, the screams and shouts and explosions, and entered the TARDIS. His hands moved over the controls with speed and assurance, despite the burns covering them. Once she landed, he pulled the sonic screwdriver from his pocket and walked down the ramp, straight back into the hell he'd just left.

Everything was quiet now, the battle having not yet begun. Aiming the sonic screwdriver at the surrounding area, he pressed the button.

Once all the bombs had been detonated, he turned back to his ship, leaving the planet behind.


5 months later--

The Doctor wiped his eyes with the back of his hand and shuddered out a painful breath, feeling it catch in his throat. Rose's eyes stared at the ceiling, no longer focused, no longer seeing. The high-pitched whine of the machine beside him drew his attention away from her still face. He turned it off, staring at the line that scrolled slowly across the monitor. Feeling rage well up inside him, he shoved at the machinery, sending it crashing to the floor.

By the time he was done, all the equipment in the room was on the floor, in pieces.

Straightening up, he stalked out of the medical bay and headed to the control room. Once there, he set the coordinates and stepped out into a derelict flat. Setting the sonic screwdriver, he flashed it around the room and headed toward a beat-up old cabinet. Yanking open the top drawer, he pulled out a handgun and pocketed it.


3 months later--

The Doctor leaned down and kissed Rose's lips, smoothing a hand over her hair, ignoring the ugly red rash covering her skin. It didn't mar her beauty any, didn't affect his love for her. Standing up, he pushed past the nurses and doctors surrounding her, headed down the corridor, straight to the TARDIS, parked inside a custodian's closet.

As soon as he landed, he turned down a nondescript corridor. When he came to a locked door, he used the sonic screwdriver on it and went inside. Grabbing vials and boxes, he stuffed his pockets full, then turned and left.

Back in the TARDIS, he once again set the coordinates and headed to the planet he'd just come from. Rose and the other him were across the park, holding hands as they neared a tree that Rose would sniff and--

Turning to the other TARDIS, he made his way quickly into the medical bay and deposited the medications on the counter, more into a cupboard, and a few into a drawer.


6 months later--

The Doctor opened the door of the TARDIS and stepped out, walking slowly across the white floor, hands in his pockets. He stopped and stared down, hearts pounding furiously in his chest. Everything in him resisted doing it, but he pulled out the sonic screwdriver anyway and aimed it at the device. Pressing the button, he closed his eyes and then drew in a deep, shuddering breath.

He turned and walked away, leaving Canary Wharf behind.


2 years later--

The Doctor turned from Donna's house, heading back to the TARDIS.

Alone again.

Closing the door behind him, he sighed and looked around the cavernous room, missing Donna's bossy voice, the concern in her gaze after a particularly difficult trip. Pushing away from the door, he headed toward the controls, smiling sadly at Rose on the jump seat--

His head shot up and his eyes widened. Rose Tyler, right there, in his TARDIS, on the jump seat, smiling at him, and biting her lip.

"Rose?"

She nodded and stood as he circled around the console, then threw her arms around his shoulders. Shocked, he wrapped his arms around her waist and held her tight, not daring to breathe or close his eyes, lest she disappear. When she remained solid, he buried his face in her hair and inhaled.

She was here, she was really here. Back where she belonged.


10 months later--

The Doctor blinked back the tears gathering in his eyes as he kissed his daughter's wrinkled forehead. She yawned and flailed a fist, hitting his chest lightly. "Alexia," he whispered, cradling her to him. He smoothed a finger down her arm and over her little hand, smiling as her fingers curled up, trying to grasp it.

"Doctor?"

Tearing his eyes from the baby in his arms, he glanced at the woman on the bed. "Rose--" Eyes caressing her tired face, he whispered, "Alexia is a beautiful name." Leaning down, he kissed Rose's smiling lips and wrapped his arm around her. "I love you."

"Love you," Rose whispered, leaning against him as she drifted off to sleep.