Author's Note: Just for the record, this is NOT a Rose-bashing! Don't even ask why I wrote this . . . Enjoy :)

As strong as you were, tender you go,

I'm watching you breathing, for the last time,

A song for your heart, but when it is quiet,

I know what it means and I'll carry you home,

I'll carry you home.

(Carry You Home, James Blunt)

"Come on!" I yell, and it's more to myself than to Rose as we run faster, faster, faster down the factory corridor. I can see the exit ahead but a thick iron screen is descending, ready to trap us inside. Inside with those guards. Those guards who have guns.

They're gaining on us, closing the gap but the exit is only metres away now. Next moment, we're ducking under the screen and I can hear guns firing at us but we're through we're safe we're through and I'm leaning back against the screen and closing my eyes, breathing hard. That was close, much too close but we're through we're safe we're –

"Doctor?"

It's barely audible, just a whisper, but my head snaps up. She's not looking at me though; she's looking down, down at something dark that's spreading alarmingly fast over her T-shirt, from a tiny hole in the upper left part of her chest. My stomach drops.

She looks up at me and our eyes meet for just a second but it's the longest second I've ever lived through. . . and then her legs give way.

No, no, no, no, no, no, no . . .

I hear myself shouting "Rose!" and I lurch forward to catch her. I kneel in the grass, supporting her briefly on my knees while I yank off my jacket. Then I hold her up, cradling her head in one arm while I press my jacket to the wound with the other.

"I've got you," I say, trying to keep my voice steady because my hearts are thumping so hard. And not from all that running. "I've got you . . ."

"Not fast enough . . ." she murmurs, and she's almost smiling.

Okay, stop, breathe, no breathe, good, now first things first, damage control.

I'm looking at her and the logical part of my brain is thinking about human anatomy and saying punctured lung, query bone shatter on entrance/exit point, possible pneumothorax and/or hypoxia, exsanguination but the rest of my mind, every other atom of my existence is screaming Rose Rose Rose Rose Rose . . .

"How bad is it?" she asks, with a shocking calmness. That's my Rose, so brave, so strong, so –

"It's okay, you're okay, you're gonna be fine." I say and but there's a voice in the back of my head hissing LIAR.

And she knows it. Because she knows me. She watches my face with something like bemusement and says "You never were a good liar."

But there are tears crawling across her face. I swallow, hard.

I tear my eyes from her to look desperately around. But there's nothing. Just grassland stretching endlessly in every direction, a whole planet of nothing but that stupid factory we didn't even mean to land in. The TARDIS is miles and miles and miles away and it suddenly hits me like a great big wrecking ball: there's nothing I can do. No medicine to give, no help to fetch. There's nothing I can do.

"It wasn't your fault," she says and her breath is coming in little gasps now. "Don't forget that, okay? It wasn't your fault."

"You're wrong. It's all my f-"

"Shut up," she says, looking so exasperated and so tired and so Rose that I can't say no.

Her face blurs because my eyes are wet and even though I try to blink it away, I can't stop my voice from cracking as I whisper "Everything we did together. . . " (keep it together) "all the things we saw . . ."

"It wasn't supposed to end like this," she agrees. And she's right. It's not. Rose Tyler, the human who faced werewolves and ghosts and zombies, who conquered a full blown Dalek fleet and defeated the Devil himself . . . brought down by a single bullet.

And it's not fair.

(Keep it together)

It's not FAIR.

(Be strong, strong for her)

That little logical bit of my brain is analysing her and telling me how little time she has and I realise it's now or never.

(Say it. Say it. Tell her or forever regret it.)

"I –"

(Say it, you prick! Come on!)

"I love you," I whisper and suddenly it's like something wonderful has been let out of a cage in my chest and it fills me right up to the top so I think I might burst with it, a blur of freedom and relief and pain and joy.

Rose mutters something that sounds a lot like "Now he tells me," but she's beaming through her tears as she says "I love you too. Always have. Always will."

And in that moment, in that single blinding second, I forget that she's hurting, that she's bleeding, that she's dying (oh god), because the next thing I know, I'm bringing her towards me and pressing my lips to hers. We're kissing and my hearts are beating so fast and every nerve ending in my body is dancing and I'm flying, I'm flying, I'm –

Blood. I taste blood. I pull back to see a trickle of it spilling from the corner of her mouth. And I'm falling . . .

"Rose, Rose, talk to me," I say, shaking her slightly because her eyelids are fluttering and her breathing is so shallow.

"It burns," she whimpers, her eyes unfocused and rolling around hopelessly.

"It's okay," I lie and there's no stopping the tears that are streaming down my face now. "I'm here, I've got you,"

"I'm so . . . tired. . ." she murmurs and I can see her slipping away.

"Rose, look at me! You have to stay awake, Rose, okay?" I say and I can see her trying, trying hard.

Her lips move but no sound comes out.

"Please don't leave me," I whimper, "please . . ."

But her eyes are closing, and she's –

She's –

Oh god, she's –

"Please . . ."

She lies perfectly still and she's not breathing and her heart's not beating and she's –

No, no, no, no, no, she can't be . . .

She's gone. She's gone she's gone shesgoneshesgoneshes –

"Please . . ."

No response. I bring her closer and embrace her and I don't care that she's, she's, she's –

I hold her close and I press my lips to her forehead and I cry. I cry and cry, those great, exhausting, painful sobs, until we're both soaked in blood and tears and sweat and blood but I don't care. I don't care about anything but the woman in my arms. And even though the suns are starting to set over this stupid, nameless planet and the logical part of my brain is telling me to let her go, I can't. I can't, I can't, I can't.

She's so warm.

"Please . . ." I can hear myself saying, again and again.

Sundown comes and goes and I sit with her in the dark for I-don't-know-how-long, and still I hold her in my arms, just crying and kissing and looking at her and hurting.

Let her go . . .

NO!

Is this what they mean by a broken heart? I didn't expect it to mean physical pain. But my hearts are burning, like something, someone, was soothing them and protecting them from this agony . . . and now she's been stolen away from me. And it hurts, it hurts, it hurts.

She looks so peaceful. So beautiful. I touch her face with shaking fingers. She's like an angel. My angel. My Rose.

Take her to the TARDIS, says that logical bit of me, even though it's over an hour's walk away. And I do try. I move for the first time in so long and get up, even though my muscles are cramping and spasming from sitting so long. I lift her up and she's so light. My eyes do not move from her face as I force my legs to take me forward.

And I walk.

And walk.

(please . . .)

Every step is a struggle and I stumble often.

But I keep walking.

And walking.

(she's gone she's gone she's gone she's -)

Through the darkness, I carry her.

(please . . .)

I carry her home.


A/N: Thanks for reading! Please feel free to let me know what you think.