TITLE: The Lesson
SUMMARY: Where would the Doctor be without us humans?
RATING: PG
SPOILERS: Seasons 1-4 of new Who, and both seasons of Torchwood
NOTE: This was written for time_and_chips Month of Love, in which we had to post something that related to why we liked the relationship between the Doctor and Rose. While this piece does come over as bittersweet towards the end, I hope it goes some way in expressing why I like the relationship. Just so everyone's clear, this is with Doctors 10.5 and Eleven. It was written prior to the announcement of David Tennant's departure.
THANKS: alliesings was great in doing a quick beta job for me.
FEEDBACK: Constructive comments are always welcome.

The day after the crisis – which required two Torchwoods, two Doctors, albeit one half-human, the charm of Jack Harkness and the medical expertise of Martha Jones – there was finally time to sit down in the Tylers's living room and reflect. What had been done was done; there could be no going back now, at least not for the next lunar month. From now on, they could only make sure no one made things worse during the next twenty-something days.

"I knew it wouldn't work," the half-human Doctor muttered as he slumped back against the couch. "But no, you thought you knew better."

"Well, how was I to know it would rain at the precise moment?" the fully alien Doctor retorted.

Rose looked at them and rolled her eyes. The two Doctors had begun arguing as soon as they'd met up with each other and hadn't stopped yet. "Okay, you two, that's enough." She sat down between them, thankful she didn't feel as though she was sandwiched between a pair of bookends since the first Doctor had undergone regeneration since she'd last seen him. "You're both as stubborn as each other. And neither of you were willing to listen to anyone else unless we were in your face with it. Jake suggested the water-proofing but you chose not to take his advice." Mouths opened and fingers pointed, but Rose slapped down both arms. "When are the two of you going to learn that us humans really are smarter than we appear?"

"I always trusted your advice, Rose," the Gallifreyan Doctor said in a petulant Cardiff accent.

"And I do listen," her husband protested.

His father-in-law sat on the couch and laughed. "Yeah, right. That's why you cause so much trouble for us at Torchwood."

"Look, just because I happen to know more-"

Rose clamped a hand over his mouth. "Okay, so you're getting better. But really, the thing is, you just don't think about the consequences. You just come barging in, with no thought for the rest of us."

Jackie was handing out cups of tea. "She's right, you know. You've been doing it since day one. Honestly, if it hadn't been for you, Rose would never have lost her job at Henrik's and thrown our lives into constant disarray. And I wouldn't have had to spend the last half hour in the kitchen trying to console Martha about the likelihood she'll miss her own wedding."

Jack had been gazing over the books the family had in the case that took up the whole of one wall. He looked up at the mention of his colleague. "How's she doing, Jackie?"

Rose's mum shrugged. "I dunno. Gwen was talking about her own wedding being messed up. She was saying something about a shape-shifter when I left them."

"I don't think Martha's going to forgive me for this one," Welsh Doctor groaned.

"I told you it was a bad idea, Doc."

"We all did," Rose stated, turning to the alien. "Honestly, Doctor, you are so thick at times. Couldn't you tell she was reluctant to get involved?"

"No."

"I did," Jackie said cockily. "And I'd only met her once before."

"Well, maybe I was looking at the bigger picture."

Rose snorted. "You always miss the small details. It's like when you couldn't figure out the Millennium Wheel was what you were looking for when we first met."

Jack laughed. "Hey, I remember that one! Wasn't he looking for something large and circular?"

"Yeah, we were standing by the river. He kept going on about needing something tall and circular that could act as a transmitter. And it was right across the water from us. Even when I tried pointing it out to him, he still didn't get it."

Now it was Mickey's turn to chuckle. "And you always called me the idiot. Even I would have spotted that one."

"I got it eventually."

"You should have seen his face when he did," Rose continued. "One moment he was all grin and the next he looked like he wanted to disappear. He was so embarrassed."

"I was not."

"You were still embarrassed when I met you, Doc," Jack said.

"Well, maybe it was an honest mistake."

"Like when I thought my daughter had been murdered because she was gone for an entire year?" Jackie was scathing.

The human Doctor shifted awkwardly. "I'm sorry, Jackie. I thought you'd forgiven me for that."

"You, I have. Him," Jackie gestured with her biscuit, "I'm not so sure about. He leaves messes wherever he goes. First, he blows up Henrik's. Then he smashed up my coffee table, which didn't help when I thought Rose had been abducted."

"You forgot the cat flap, Mum."

"That was him, too? I thought the thing had just come loose."

"He took the screwdriver to it."

"And let's not forget the establishment of Torchwood," Jack pointed out. "That was probably the most idiotic of all."

"That wasn't just me. Rose was there too."

"Yeah, but I'm not the reason it was created. Nor was I on their hit list."

"If not for that Torchwood, there wouldn't have been all those Cybermen loose. Don't get me wrong," Jackie continued, seeing her visitor was about to protest, "I'm happy with Pete, yeah, but I lost some good friends that day."

"Friends," Rose added, "that were good to her when I was missing."

"Yeah, they supported her to the point they believed I was to blame, too," said Mickey.

"Let's face it, Doctor," said Rose. "You need us mere mortals-"

"And immortals."

"Yes, Jack. And him too, to keep your mind focused. How many times have we come to your aid? It's not just the Millennium Wheel. What if I hadn't come to your rescue against the Nestene Consciousness? What if Harriet Jones hadn't made that decision in Downing Street? What if this Torchwood hadn't come to our assistance against the Cybermen? What if Jack hadn't been able to keep his Torchwood under proper control?"

"What if Martha hadn't put her life at risk for you?" Jack asked quietly. "We do a lot for you, Doctor. Remember that. Martha's going to miss her wedding because she's here for the next month. After all, we've all learned that the TARDIS isn't infallible when it comes to aiming for a specific time and destination. But you know what she said to me earlier when we first realised we were stuck here? She said it was worth it. She didn't want to help, she shouldn't have had to help, but she did. Because it was worth it." He shook his head in bewilderment. "I've been telling her and Gwen that they need their lives outside of all this. But they keep sacrificing those lives anyway." He began walking towards the door. "I better go see how they're doing."

Jackie jumped up and gathered the empty cups. "Make yourself useful, Harkness. Take some of these for me. I need to go check on Tony." Her husband and Mickey, who claimed fatigue, followed her out the door. Rose pled the same excuse when she left a moment later.

"I'm as much to blame as you are," Rose's Doctor admitted quietly. He'd had some time to contemplate not only what had been said tonight but everything that had happened since he'd found himself in his unique situation. He stood and walked over to the fireplace, wanting to some space between him and the other Doctor. "But there is something I need to say. Rose and Jack gave you quite a list to think about, I know. I've been thinking about it ever since I came here." He scratched the back of his neck as he contemplated what he wanted to say. "But there's one thing neither of them mentioned, even though Jack and I discussed it earlier. It's this: what if Rose hadn't accepted me for me? What if she'd only ever thought of me as a pale substitute or second best? You would have condemned all of us to a living hell. But did you even ask us or allow us time to accept what had happened?"

"Rose knew who she wanted. It was more than I could give her."

"That's a lie. We could have had this long ago. But we thought that we couldn't have her because she was only human. I came out of it well, all things considered, but we could have had it all. If only we'd paid attention to the details and treated her as an equal. If only we'd accepted that it was okay to feel love for the humans we met. Maybe we wouldn't have been so reckless in the past.

"Do you remember what Donna said to us the first time we met her? She said we needed someone, someone to stop us from doing stupid things, to keep us out of trouble, to stop us from being alone. She was right.

"Oh, I know, for so long we were taught that the Time Lords were so much more superior to humans. We were more intelligent than they ever could be. Have you ever noticed how often that's been proven inaccurate? Humans might only have limited life spans, and the one heart thing took a lot of getting used to, but we've done all right considering. At least we've not managed to wipe ourselves completely out of existence." He knew the last comment was a low hit, but he felt it needed to say it in order to stress the importance of the message he was trying to get across.

"I'm going to bed now. No doubt you'll sit here all night and brood. I'll go over the TARDIS with you in the morning. Maybe there's a possibility we can get Martha back to your Earth in linear time for her wedding. It would be a nice thing to do, after all, you know, considering. Right then, good night."

He left the room quietly, not even sure that his counterpart was aware he was gone. As he slowly walked upstairs to the room where his wife lay, he reflected on how fortunate he was compared to the man he'd once been. Humans, he mused, we have so much going for us. And, as he opened the bedroom door and discovered Rose awake and waiting for him, he decided that being human was so much better than a Time Lord. After all, he was no longer alone. And he had a human to thank for that.

FINIS