Stardust and Photographs

Disclaimer: If I owned Doctor Who, the pairings would be so much less screwy and a lot more TenRose would have happened =D

Disclaimer Take Two: I don't own Fell in Love Without You, it belongs to Motion City Soundtrack.

A/N: So I'm laid up with various maladies (probably of an exam-induced sort), and since I have neither the energy or the inclination to finish the politics essays that were due in today, I decided to write fic! It was a toss up between Alt!TenRose angsty angst of the angst variety or smutty Tencest of the smut variety, but the angst won hands down so this is what occured...with a slight prompt from Series 1 of Secret Diary of a Call Girl (of which, incidentally, I am writing smut!)...So, enjoy, I guess...

A/N Take Two: Please remember that all reviews are greatly appreciated and make the plot bunnies very happy indeed, so once you've finished reading, have a go at pressing the purdy li'l button at the bottom of the page...Pretty please with an even prettier Time Lord on top?

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Last night I fell in love without you,

The stars at night aren't as big and bright,

As you made them out to be.

Every aching wound will cauterise and bruise,

In memory of what we used to call in love.

And only time will tell if violins will swell,

In memory of what we used to call in love.

Fell in Love Without You – Motion City Soundtrack

~*~

It started with a phone call. Isn't that how all romantic stories begin? Boy meets girl and all that? A phone call and a box full of photographs; memories, rocks long eroded, planets still floating as dust. Only one thing connecting them; a smiling couple. The girl; blonde hair, brown eyes, wide, childish grin, and the man; all hair and eyes and teeth, smiling like they had all the time in the world. Not a bad assumption, really. They had all of Time and Space to choose from at one time, anywhere and everywhere, any star, any galaxy, past, present, or future.

It's all gone now, the planets and stars. Oh, they're still there, sitting on the horizon as the sun sinks, millions of light-years away. So far away, so out of reach when they had been so close. Twinkling lights across a dusky blue duvet of sky, taunting her. He's still out there somewhere, travelling the stars with someone else. Forgetting about her. It should be alright, she should be capable of moving on, of loving the part of himself that he left her with, but the whole idea that he abandoned her in the first place cuts her deeper than she'd really like to admit. Of course she had to admit something; she had to tell the clone that she couldn't play happy families and pretend that she was fine. It was harder than she could have ever imagined.

She had always known that she would find him again; even that day on the beach when touch was forbidden and tears froze in the North wind, she knew that she would never give up, never stop searching for him. And she found him, travelling hundreds of miles, stepping from one Universe to another, breaking down the walls of reality to find him again and for a few shining moments she had honestly believed that this was it; what she had been waiting and hoping for ever since she had lost her grip on that lever three years earlier, but when was reality ever perfect? There were always extenuating circumstances of one sort or another that removed all possibility of a happily ever after, and seemingly the metacrisis was simply another way of reminding her that life with the Doctor was never perfect or fairytale. She should've known.

So there she was, back on the same beach that had ruined her life; sand in her shoes, wind though her hair, fresh tears glittering on her skin. It might have felt farcical if her heart hadn't been breaking at the time; choosing between twins, leaving with second best because the one she truly loved was too much of a coward for honesty.

They tried to live happily ever after for a couple of months, but she had always known, deep down, that it wouldn't – couldn't – last. Somehow, living with an identical copy of the Time Lord she loved was harder than never seeing him ever again, because there were subtly insignificant differences between them that sliced through whatever love she might have held for him. The touch of his skin against hers made her feel like melting glass; his fingers, burning her, twisting her into putty, moulding her into shape; instead of the shivering thrill of icy water that she had always known from hands that were exactly the same, but just a little bit different. Hands that had given her this.

So they'd screamed, and cried, and loved and lost. Those big brown soulful eyes that had haunted her for so long were the last thing she let herself see before the door had slammed. Wide and childlike, spilling with tears; his first human heartbreak, an experience he didn't deserve. So why is she clutching her mobile and dialling his number? The screen becomes blurred; watery with the tears she hasn't realised she is shedding, clouding the shining digits and making it so much easier to press the taunting green call button, because she can't see them, she can pretend, she can lie to herself. It's funny the traits you pick up from the ones you love.

"Rose?"

Something in the way he says her name sends a jolt to the pit of her stomach, hauling her up like a puppet on a string. There is silence and she remembers that she called him and she hasn't even explained herself. The carefully prepared speech falters, dissolving into fresh, racking sobs. Sometimes she wonders if she can only talk to him when she is crying, but this throws her theory out of the window; her mouth doesn't seem to be working right now, let alone forming coherent words; it's just a wide, gaping hole of gasping, choking black. There is a click and the resounding buzz of the dial tone but she doesn't even notice; the phone had fallen out of her hand and clattered onto the linoleum floor a while ago. What does it matter?

Hours seem to pass, the clock ticking monotonously. Time. She never had enough. A quick, sharp tapping rhythm hammers against the door and she lifts her head from her kitchen table, curls tangling in front of her face. She brushes them away and trudges towards the sound, her slippered feet slapping noisily against the floor tiles. Every sound seems accentuated, like it's pounding into her head. The door handle scrapes, metal on metal, as she turns it and opens the door. Just like before, no words are exchanged; she merely falls into his open arms and lets him stroke her hair.

Sleep is peaceful and quiet, and once again, her skin melts under his careful exploration. Maybe he wants her, or maybe she needs him – this – but she doesn't need excuses or reasons for why they've done this, why this particular barrier was the first to fall. She already knows. It fell because they're magnetic, because he can still feel the enticing pull of Time and Space and knows every must, must not, and maybe. His shirt slides across her skin like silk and the cool air hits her like a bullet as she steps out onto the grass, feeling it crunch softly beneath her feet. The stars look so much brighter than they have ever done. The city is quiet and the faint haze of butter yellow dusts the horizon, but in the patch of midnight blue above her head, she can see them; planets, suns, and stars. Glitter on patent leather. She could drown in it.

Searing fingers slip in between hers and he presents her with a box. Plain green cardboard; a shoebox, unassuming, but she knows it immediately. She moves to take it but his free hand shoots out, wrapping around her waist, stopping her. The box falls, held by no one, its contents spilling out across the inky grass. Tiny squares of dimly lit smiles and life among the stars. He releases her and bends over the photographs, ignoring them and reaching for a velvet drawstring bag.

"We're not the sort of people to be boxed up. You can't compartmentalise us, Rose."

It's the first solid sentence he's said to her all night; she wonders why it sounds so disapproving. He opens the bag and reaches inside, pulling his hand out again and rubbing his thumb and forefinger together. She watches the tiny shimmering dust particles fall back into the indigo velvet and averts her eyes. He remembers it just as clearly as she does; the drifting creatures, like manta rays floating across the sky, the rocks coppery, like burnt brown sugar. She'd promised forever and he'd given it to her; a handful of stardust in a tiny drawstring bag. She'd kept it to remember him by, to remind herself that, sometime in the distant future, on a far away planet, he loved her, loves her, will love her. It's a fixed point in Time and the silver powder proves that to her.

Yet she has enough sense to realise that holding onto the past when you can't revisit it is ridiculous, especially when the man who gave her that dust is standing right next to her in one form or another. She slips the fingers of one hand through his again and with the other, removes the bag from his grip. The velvet is soft to the touch, furry for having been rubbed the wrong way by his slim hands. She fingers the golden rope along the side of the bag before pulling it and emptying the powder into her hand. Tiny crystals of silver-white stardust glitter in the palm of her hand and her fingers close over the mound as she turns to kiss him. The Doctor. No matter what species he might be. His lips on hers are no longer demanding, merely compliant, waiting for her to make the next move, for her to take what she wants, whatever she wants.

Instead, she pulls away and releases her fingers, intently studying the grooves left in her hand by her fingernails. The stardust settles in the lines across her palm and she pushes her arm up, letting her hand stay open. The dust flies into the air, shimmering softly in the glint of the moonlight as it settles on the wind. She doesn't notice. This time, he doesn't wait for permission or question; he just kisses her. Since that day with the two of them on the beach she has wondered why she was the one to kiss him, and not the other way around. But this is…right. She has waited a long time for this.