As he watched Rose walk away up to Mickey's flat, the Doctor made his decision. Ignoring the burning of the start of his regeneration tearing his body apart, he staggered back to the TARDIS. The Doctor spared a glance at Ood Sigma, who was watching but not commenting on what he was seeing. Determined, the Doctor pushed open the door of the TARDIS and set the flight pattern.
Rose Tyler, now 16, was heading out of her mum's flat to go to school. She hated school, but she knew it was almost over. A few weeks of school left then she was on study leave and she was free. As Rose neared the bottom of the stairwell, she pushed the door open to see a man leant against a wall staring directly at her. Rose mentally shook herself, reminding herself he was watching the stairwell, not her. Probably waiting for his girlfriend or something. The man was older than Rose, about mid to late twenties, maybe early thirties, but Rose doubted that. He was tall and skinny and had carefully styled brown hair. Rose noticed that he was wearing rather scuffed up once-white converses, skinny black jeans and a fitted burgundy t-shirt, although he looked as though this wasn't his usual attire. And Rose had to admit, he wasn't bad looking either. So, Rose straightened up and tossed her hair over her shoulder before walking past him, trying to catch his attention without looking too obvious. Sure enough, as she walked past, he called to her.
"Um, hi. I'm...I'm kinda new around here and I was wondering where the nearest tube station is..?" the man asked, rubbing his neck awkwardly.
"S'ppose the nearest one from here would be Waterloo." Rose replied, trying not to smirk at how obvious the man's lie was.
"Thanks." The man replied. He went to leave, but turned back and spoke again. "So what's your name?"
"Rose. Rose Tyler. I live up there, number 48." Rose told him, pointing up at Bucknall House.
"Pleased to meet you, Rose." the man told her, giving her a crooked smile.
"You too." As Rose turned to leave, she realised she didn't know the man's name.
"Sorry, I don't think I caught your name." Rose told him.
For a moment, the man seemed to freeze, almost as if he was scared of answering.
"It's Jimmy. Jimmy Stone." The man- Jimmy- replied.
"Nice to meet you, Jimmy. I'll see you around, yeah?" Rose told him, grinning, tongue between her teeth.
As Rose left, she didn't see the expression on Jimmy's face. An expression that was part longing, part fear, part exhilaration and a lot of love.
When Rose returned home from school, she was pleasantly surprised to find Jimmy in seemingly the exact same place she had left him that morning. She bounded up to him and was about to reintroduce herself, thinking he'd probably forgotten her when he saw her and grinned.
"Hi, Rose!" he told her, grinning.
Rose stared at him, pleased he had remembered her name.
"Hi, Jimmy! Look, I was wonderin', do you wanna come up to the flat with me? I don't think my mum's in, she's at a client's house; she's a mobile hairdresser, see." Rose announced. She swore she saw Jimmy shudder at the mention of her mother.
"Er, actually, Rose, I was wondering if you wanted to come out for a coffee with me?" Jimmy asked.
Rose sighed. "I'd love to, Jimmy, but I've got no money. Lent my last fiver to Mickey last Saturday and he still hasn't payed me back." Rose told him apologetically.
"No worries, I can pay for both of us." Jimmy replied.
For a moment, Rose was suspicious; for someone she'd only met that morning, Jimmy was awfully eager to take her out. However, she soon dismissed this as just a good deed and thought nothing more of it.
So, ten minutes later, Rose Tyler stepped out of her flat again, wearing her favourite t-shirt and dark jeans with her new trainers. She had contemplated doing something with her hair, but had stopped herself when she realised this hadn't been called a date and she didn't want to scare Jimmy off. She found him waiting at the bottom of the stairwell for her and Rose suddenly felt immensely shy as Jimmy grinned at her.
"Ready?" Jimmy asked.
"Yeah, I text my mum, said I was going out with a mate, so she won't expect me back for a few hours at least." Rose told him.
She was slightly shocked but also pleased as Jimmy took her hand, seemingly from instinct.
"So," Rose asked, her hands curling around the mug of tea "tell me about yourself, Jimmy."
"Well, I'm 25, I'm...I'm in a band." Jimmy told her, seemingly- unsure?- nervous.
"Yeah? You any good?" Rose asked, tongue captured between her teeth.
"Well, I'd say we're mildly adequate. I'm sure we'll be big one day!" Jimmy replied, seemingly getting more comfortable with the conversation.
"What's the band called? What do you play?" Rose asked, beginning to get excited- all her mates would be so jealous of her if she was dating a successful band member.
"The band...the band's called...Pantheon of Discord. I play lead guitar." Jimmy announced, grinning to himself, seemingly proud of his band.
"Nice. I'm sure you're a great band." Rose assured him.
Jimmy grinned at her.
"You know, Rose? I really like you."
Rose blushed, smiling back.
Three months later
Rose looked around her new flat. She had done it. She'd dropped out of education, after her GCSEs. She'd left home and told her mum to stuff her opinions on Jimmy. And now Rose and Jimmy were together, no one to tell them what they should do, or how they should do it, or criticise them. Rose was sure this was going to work out. Well, ok, Jimmy didn't have the money to pay for the flat – no money at all, actually- but Rose had found the money and they'd managed to buy a comfortable one bedroom flat.
"Hey, sweetheart." Jimmy told her as he wandered into the living room. He kissed her on the cheek before flopping down onto the sofa beside her.
Rose grinned at Jimmy and cuddled up to him. They were going to be great together.
A further five months later
He had to get out. He couldn't do it anymore. He had to get out. He loved Rose; he loved her so much, but he simply couldn't stay in one place any longer. He stuffed all his stuff into the suitcase, before stopping and staring at the photo of him and Rose in a frame on the bedside table. He picked it up and tenderly placed it in his bag.
"Jimmy? What are you doing?" a voice came from the bedroom doorway.
Jimmy looked at Rose sadly as she realised what was happening.
"No! No, please, Jimmy!" Rose begged, already nearly in tears.
"I can't do this anymore, Rose. I gotta travel. Hate staying in one place too long, me." Jimmy explained.
"Where will you go?" Rose asked softly.
"Oh, I dunno. France, maybe. I've always loved the French." Jimmy told her, smiling weakly.
And with that, he left Rose Tyler.
Rose Tyler had never been more embarrassed. She was stood on her mother's doorstep with a suitcase full of her stuff. She was £800 in debt, depressed and homeless, nowhere to go but back to her childhood home. Her mother quickly got her inside the flat, away from prying eyes and, after a good cry on Rose's part, they never spoke of Jimmy again.
Jimmy Stone glanced up at his and Rose's flat one last time before turning his back. He walked towards the big blue box in front of him and pushed the door open.
"Hello, old girl. I've missed you."
The TARDIS gave a low, pitiful hum.
"I know, girl. I know. I shouldn't have done it. I know I shouldn't have done it, but I had to. You have to understand. Because I've just made everything worse. I shouldn't have done it, but I had to. Because I'm Jimmy Stone, I broke Rose Tyler's heart when she was just 16 years old, left her in £800 debt. If I hadn't have done that, she'd never have gone back to Jackie's, never have gotten the job at Henricks. Never would have met me."
The Doctor pulled off his hoodie and took out his wallet, thumbing through the fake bank cards in there. All with Jimmy Stone's name on. The man who, when Rose had told him about Jimmy, had made his blood boil with anger at how he could treat Rose with such disrespect, leave her heartbroken and in debt and ultimately break her spirit. And he had done that. The Doctor, last of the Time Lords. He disgusted himself.
"And you know what?" the Doctor shouted at the TARDIS, spinning on his heels and pacing up and down, hands in his hair "You know what? I disgust myself. I now haunt Rose Tyler's memories, she will always remember the moment Jimmy Stone broke her heart and she will never, never forget it! It's all my fault! This is why I don't get involved with my companions; I always break their hearts, I leave them, or they die for me, or I make their life such a misery they have no other option but to leave. My first memory of seeing Rose after my regeneration was me and her right here in the console room, her unsure of whether it was me or not, me gaining her trust. Her first memory of me in this body will now forever be Jimmy Stone breaking her heart! I shouldn't have done that to her! Not her, not my Rose! She's too special to me! I love her so much, and I want to be with her, but all I ever do is break her heart! I never told her how I felt. I abandoned her on a Norwegian beach. Twice! And then, then, I go back and ruin her childhood! Her perfect, innocent childhood!" As the Doctor came to a realisation, he sank to the floor and whispered "I've destroyed her life."
Now he was back in the TARDIS, his regeneration was beginning again. He had managed to alter his regeneration process, so it would only trigger in the TARDIS. The effort had been excruciating, but all the Doctor could think about was that he'd been given- or stolen- a third chance with Rose Tyler. The Doctor raised a hand to his face as the skin began to glow. The TARDIS let out a concerned whine as the Doctor pushed himself up.
"I've lived too long." The Doctor muttered.
Again, the TARDIS let out a whine.
"I went too far. I didn't know when to stop. Well, I did, I just decided not to pay attention. I dunno, maybe the change will do me good. After what I've done the past few months, I won't be sad to see this body go. Would've been before, but not now." The Doctor murmured.
He took a deep breath as the golden light exploded around him and his body began changing...
Amy Pond frowned in confusion at the photograph. She recognised the man as the Doctor- or, at least, the Doctor before she had met him- but she didn't know who the girl was.
"Rory, look at this." She called to her husband.
Rory wandered over and took the photo from Amy.
"I've seen that girl in other photos. She must have travelled with the Doctor. There's loads of photos like these in his bedroom." Rory told his wife.
"So, you found the Doctor's bedroom, then?" Amy asked, smirking.
"Yeah, he was annoyed we kept asking if he had one, so he showed me his room. Just a quick glance, though. But, from the photos I saw, he was very close to this girl." Rory explained.
Amy took the photo back from Rory.
"Come on, I know where to put this." Amy told Rory, dragging him down the corridor, ignoring Rory's protests of "Are you sure about this, Amy?"
The Doctor wandered into the kitchen, whistling.
"Now, where did Pond put that custard?" the Doctor muttered, holding a box of fish fingers.
His eyes alighted on the fridge and he hurried over, intending to open it. Hand on the handle, the Doctor froze. There, in among the photos of him with Marilyn Monroe, Amy and Rory on the planet Barcelona, him, Rory and Amy at Rory and Amy's wedding, him, Kazran and Abigail and the photo of him and Rory wearing fezzes, there was a new photo.
"Always wondered what happened to that picture." The Doctor murmured, gazing at it.
There, right in the middle of the fridge, being held on with a heart shaped magnet similar to the one holding the wedding photo on, was the photo of Jimmy Stone and Rose Tyler.
The Doctor smiled and turned around to see Amy and Rory in the doorway, looking nervous but pleased he was smiling.
"Thanks, Ponds." The Doctor told them, smiling. Then he pulled them into a hug. And he didn't intend to let go soon.