The product of reading an afternoon of angst-fics when I should have been revising for my ASs. Because did Stolen-Earth-Rose look like she was wasting away to you? No, me neither.

Babbled a bit more than I thought I would in this. Review anyway, please? Flames will either be laughed at or cried over depending on what mood I'm in.

Disclaimer: It's mine on that parallel world with the zeppelins. But then, only on the planet Zog (where curiously enough, chocolate is the international currency). But this world? Nuh-uh...

He ran out of time. A Time Lord. Ironic, really. But then, he was right, she thought, that second time around on Bad Wolf Bay. It didn't really need saying. She'd always known that somewhere deep inside, there was a tiny part of him that felt for her just a little bit more than for the other women he'd loved and lost.

Alright, she had wavered. When he'd swanned off to save Madame de Pompadour without a backwards glance, she had considered the possibility that maybe this him wasn't the same. That he'd left her like he promised he wouldn't just a day before, when his other self never would have, and just for a second, she missed a leather jacket and big ears.

Then she remembered the 80s, and a car accident, and a key being returned.

And when his face broke into a grin after he got back, she hugged him and remembered I'd love you to come and Can you imagine watching that happen to someone you...

And when she saw his grim expression back in the TARDIS after going back to France, she remembered Jack and Adam. Cause she'd done the same thing, really. Didn't mean she loved him any less.

So when she stood on a beach the first time, and he didn't quite finish his sentence, she realised she didn't need him to. It didn't matter that she ran to her mum and cried, or that she didn't say a word on the drive back to London.

Have a fantastic life, he'd said. Defender of the Earth, he'd said.

So she threw herself into Torchwood life like she'd been made for it, laughing with Mickey on field trips to places she'd never heard of, bantering with Jake over a piece of alien tech that had blown up, playing with her new little brother. And if she had to force a smile every now and again, it was only because she'd got lost in thought and lost track of the conversation.

She didn't give up; the dimension cannon was as important to her on the day she started it as on the day she finished. But it wasn't the centre of her world, because she had another world, with a second chance, and a family. If it worked, it worked. And if it didn't, it wasn't the end of her world.

But when the Darkness came, her heart suddenly flew to her mouth. Not because she needed to hear the end of that sentence, but because she needed to know if he was still the man who'd said it; the man who'd told her to run, the man who'd changed his face, the man she'd left on that beach. To a certain extent, she hoped he wasn't. She hoped he'd... not forgotten, exactly, but didn't get stuck exactly as he was without the capacity to get better. He never stood still, and she didn't want him to, because a TARDIS with him alone with his tears and his memories was so much poorer than a TARDIS full of another person's laughter, and missed appointments, and smiles.

The second time around, she almost laughed at the ease of it.

How was that sentence gonna end?

Does it really need saying?

I love you.

The question she'd asked wasn't the one she'd meant, really. She was asking if he'd moved on like she hoped he had, like he'd asked her to, and in a way, she got her answer. The man on the right was so much more than the one she'd left. And the man on the left was so much more than the one she'd first met. But he hadn't lost anything, neither of him. Martha had dragged him back to the present and Donna had spit him in half, but both of them were everything she'd needed to know he hadn't lost.

So when one of them walked away and the other held her hand, she didn't mind that she'd lost the Universe. Because with Torchwood, and him, she still had the stars.

And she'd got what she came for.