His eyes close, his mind undone. He might be crying, there might be tears; he's not sure, but he knows it doesn't matter. Everything's empty, everything's black, blank; like a starless canvas. He needs it to end now; he'll make sure it ends now. His body is moving forwards, following the lead of the monsters who call themselves men, but he can't register it, can't fathom much of where he is, except being led towards his death.
She's gone, and soon he'll be gone too.
It's not at all unsettlingly, or even frightening, the clarity in which he can so easily make this choice. It should be wrong, it shouldn't be allowed; he should be realising his curse, he should be escaping, stepping foot onto his forever lonely journey with only her memory to remind him of what was. But he can't, not this time, not without her.
He sees this epiphany so clearly, it is a while before he begins to realise that his feet are no longer moving, that the monsters leading him to his salvation have stopped and raised voices can be heard above his slowly beating hearts.
Through his shuttered eyes he can see a low light shining and trying to penetrate his lids. It takes a moment, but he eventually opens his eyes, caught in a sudden blurry vision of the scene before him.
He blinks, sure it must be over and he is now in some sort of afterlife he had never believed in. It's like a burning golden light is suddenly flying through the darkness surrounding his soul.
The golden light is Rose.
They are meters away from the giant scaffolding, but where moments before there had been a noose where Rose hung from, there is now only a lose hanging piece of rope above a rising angel, with burning eyes and glowing skin.
He is too shocked to shout, to even to speak. Everything around him is suddenly hitting him with lightning clarity. The shouts, curses, screams of the crowd flocked like sheep around the scaffolding; the iron, afraid grip the guards have on his arms as they try to pull him back; the king upon the high balcony, screaming and shouting angrily; and Rose, golden Rose, looking down with her eyes upon him, her skin aglow.
She whispers, and though it is quiet it follows through to every ear, because she is sound, and time, and the bad wolf, and she can control whatever she wishes. "Doctor," she says, and it sounds more than just a title on her lips. "My Doctor."
He is too shocked to speak, to move. She should be limp, empty, dead, but she's not. Her eyes turn upon the fearful monsters who murdered her. "This will end," she proclaims, and the Doctor isn't surprised when the shouting stops, each person gazing up at her in terrified amazement. "This ends today," she says and raises her hand.
The Doctor's breath hitches, the scene all too familiar. But she can't turn these people, monsters or not, into dust. It's not right. They're not Daleks, they're people.
"Rose!" he shouts, but she doesn't seem to hear him, or rather, she doesn't choose to hear him.
Every person around the scaffolding is backing away, some are crying. The guards have let go of the Doctor now, stumbling backwards away from Rose and her burning eyes. Her gaze changes though, her eyes turning to sear into the Doctor's, then she raises her hand and everything disappears.
A groan escapes the Doctor. His head is giving off a dull throbbing vibration, his pulse burning through his forehead. His eyes open as he begins to creep into awareness. The tall roof of the TARDIS greets him, coral beams curving upwards. The familiar TARDIS hum is a reassuring lullaby in his mind, and the relief of his ship is evident in its song.
It's only as he blinks, thoughts resurfacing enough to hit any clarity, that he remembers. He sit suddenly bolt upright. A body hanging, limp, from the scaffolding; her eyes glowing with power; her hand raised.
"Rose," he says loudly, eyes wide. What happened? How did he get here? Where is Rose?
The TARDIS hum interrupts his thoughts, and his head whips around in response. He makes a small noise even he doesn't recognise when he sees her, lying on her back by the TARDIS console, still and quiet. Springing into action he runs over to her side, his shaking hands hurrying to the pulse point at her neck. A single, steady beat greets him and he feels himself release a breath of shaky, relieved laughter.
His hand runs along the curve of her neck, up to her cheek. He stares at her for a moment, awed and amazed. Tears spring, unbidden, into his eyes as he thinks of how she looked, hanging with a bag over her head, dead and limp. He swallows the lump in his throat and picks her up into his arms before, decision made, he strides as fast as he can through the TARDIS corridors.
The Doctor stares at the screen in front of him, the evidence before his eyes making his throat constrict and his hearts twist in his chest. His fingers brush over the keyboard as he double checks. He has to make sure. If it's a mistake... He swallows; it's no mistake.
There are still lasting remains of vortex in Rose's body and mind, buried deep within her. What it means, what it could do, he has no idea. As far as he can tell it's not harming her right now, but can anybody withstand that sort of pressure in their head for too long? It was unnoticed by Rose before, but it appears to be growing. Would it eventually consume her, burn her from the inside, or is he over reacting?
"Doctor?" the soft voice behind him makes him still, basking for a moment in the beauty of the sound.
He turns, brown eyes meeting brown eyes. She smiles slightly, sitting up on the medical bed he's put her upon. "Hi," he whispers, walking slowly over to her.
She frowns at him, teeth nibbling on her bottom lip. "Are you okay?"
He smiles sadly; right now he should be the last thing she should be worrying about. "Of course I'm okay."
"I..." she swallows, starts again, "I died."
The words hit him like a physical blow to the stomach, but he can't deny them. He nods twice, chest tight.
A wetness springs into her eyes immediately, and large tears begin to roll down her cheeks. "Oh, Rose," he whispers, stepping forward to close the space between them. He sits next to her and takes his arms around her, similar to how she took hers around his in the prison cell. How long ago had that been? It feels like forever.
"It was so dark," she whispers into his chest. "There was nothing, nothing at all." He squeezes her tighter as she takes a heavy breath. "Then... there was this bright light and... and then everything... Oh god, it was all there. It was all in my head."
He goes very still very suddenly. His eyes lock on a far away point, and he does his hardest to swallow. "You remember it," he says softly, pain breaking his voice.
There is a tiny pause that takes an age to move forward, until Rose's whisper finally breaks through it. "Yes, I do. I remember."
He leans back very gently to look at her. "What do you remember?" he asks.
She shakes her head slightly, a frown tightening her brow. "I can't... remember it all. But you were there. You were all around. And... they were going to kill you... we had to help."
"We?" His voice is husky, deeper than he's used to.
"The TARDIS... she..." Rose sighs, her hand moving to her head, "It hurts to remember."
"Then stop," he says a little abruptly. She frowns and tries to look up at him, but he brings her body closer to his, hiding her eyes in his chest. "I'm sorry, Rose," he whispers. "I'm so sorry."
"Not your fault," she mumbles into his chest.
"It is. You know it is. If I had kept my mouth shut..." Bitterness sweeps into his voice, a thousand self recriminations running through his head.
Rose pulls away to look up at him. "But I'm okay. I'm fine," she says gently, and a small smile begins to bridge her mouth, a sparkle lighting her eyes. "I told you I would be, didn't I?" she says. "I promised. You can't get rid of me so easily. I'm alive for you."
He shakes his head, jaw rigid as he whispers, "But you shouldn't be."
Immediately she stills in his arms, pulling away and trying to stand. "Right," she murmurs flatly.
"Rose," he stops her quickly, pulling her back down, "I didn't mean it like that. I'm so... you've no idea how glad I am that you're... you're alive. It's just that it could hurt you, Rose. The vortex inside you... it's harming you and... Rose, no one can stand that sort of pressure in their head." He looks down at the mattress as he whispers, "It's killing you."
"You don't know that," she says.
He looks up at her and meets her eye. "I've cursed you," he says, voice hoarse. "This is my fault."
He is forgetting, of course, the fact that Rose is the one that looked into the heart of the TARDIS, the one that gave herself for his sorry self. But really, he is the one that told her his ship travels in time, the one that took her away from where she is safe so he could show her the end of the world, the one to make her so attached to him that she feels she has to hold all of time and space in her head to save him and eventually end up hanging from a noose by the neck. So it is all his fault really.
"Stop saying that!" says Rose angrily. "This is a good thing, Doctor. I'm alive! I'm here." She puts an hand around his waist and another against his cheek. "I'll never leave you now. See, it's a promise I can keep forever."
He laughs and it's gone before it's even bubbled into his throat. "Always so stubborn."
She smiles, a parenthesis around her mouth. "I told you."
His lips dip down at the sides. "It could still kill you."
Rose frowns. "Maybe you're right, maybe it will. But it's better it will in the future in a golden light than hanging from a noose. Besides, I don't think it will. I think you're wrong."
"Wrong?" he says as if the word is foreign.
She laughs. "Yes, Doctor. Wrong. Don't look so surprised. It's certainly happened before."
He gives a smile, which somehow manages to stay around his lips this time. He stares at her for a long, long moment, her cheeks full of colour, her eyes full of life.
She takes his hand. "Believe me," is all she says. He swallows, and wonders how, even when she defies death over and over, he can still be just as fearful for her life as he ever was. All he really wants to do is believe her, believe her and fall, fall with her to catch him.
He takes a steadying breath and squeezes her hand gently. Then he pulls it from her grasp, reaching forward to cup her cheek. Without saying one word he leans forward and pushes his lips against hers. It's touching and gentle and slightly different than he expected. It's also wonderful.
She doesn't say anything; she doesn't need to, she knows. This is him, believing her; believing in her. This is him, falling; for her, towards her, and always with her.
A/N: Okay... nervous about this.. don't think it was as good as the other, but... *shrugs* it fixed the one, didn't it?