Disclaimer: I, in no shape or form own Doctor Who. I'm just playing in the sand box.

Author's Note: An exploration into what the Tenth's Duplicate and Rose's life would be like in the other world. This is my first Doctor Who fanfic.

Second Best

Rose Tyler loves him.

He knows that. He really does. She would tear time and space apart to save him: in fact she has torn time and space apart to save him. She smiles at him, holds his hand and asks questions about all the impossible things as they wander. They wander a lot. Not through time or space anymore, but they do venture into the world: climb mountains, trek through the deserts of Africa (it had taken five years from preparation to the actual reaching the final destination), and dive into the dark blue depths.

He still wants to observe everything: see history taking place and how it changes from what he knows from his universe. He wants to read thousand year old texts late at night under an old oil lamp while Rose wanders off, gets into trouble and he has to find her again. It's like old times: he goes to observe and explore, and she wanders off and suddenly whatever trouble they originally got into is ten times worse.

They are notorious around the world: he is The Doctor and she is The Companion. They could've been arrested and killed a least ten times already but as they always come up sunny side up. They are connected to all the major world governments, and regularly defend the world when aliens decide to turn up they continue their adventure.

When they go home they are just Rose Tyler and John Noble – or rather Mr and Mrs Noble. He took that last name to honour his creator … or his creator from the Other Reality. He met his creator from this one and while he and her still talk similar, the connection is lost.

He still tries to be her friend.

Rose laughs at this and also tries. She knows it's important to him. She says it's just like when she wanted to know Pete, her dad-who-wasn't-her-dad. He says it isn't because he's the Doctor. He already has a real mother – she died in the Time War. Rose shakes her head at this, clasps his hand in hers and stares into his soul.

"Donna is like your mother – you aren't exactly the same, John, you do have a different beginning to him."

He knows that.

And it hurts.

It hurts because it sums up the very problem that in their relationship – like an elephant in the room. A massive giant-I-will-eat-you elephant in a tiny room – like the size of the TARDIS would be if it wasn't 'bigger on the inside'. He knows he isn't THE Doctor. He is The Doctor but he is only ever going to be a duplicate, a clone, a freak accident that should have never happened because really his Original should've regenerated – and because of that he will never be THE Doctor. Instead he's John Noble, codename The Doctor.

He doesn't have a TARDIS: instead he has a TARDIS-blue Morris Minor. Rose smiled at this when he brought it home: half-destroyed, without an engine and in serious need of a makeover. He worked on it for a month, adding in the latest technology (most of which he builds and updates these days with Pete and the Torchwood boys for fun on a Saturday night when Rose has a girls night out with Jackie). It's almost like his old TARDIS … except it's a car and he still hasn't worked out how to make it teleport.

And it isn't any bigger on the inside.

He told Rose that when he had finished it and she once again chuckled, sweeping her soft blonde hair out of her eyes before pulling him out of the garage and upstairs. She does this a lot when he thinks about what he lost – or rather what he isn't.

He doesn't know if she does it for his sake or hers.

He tells himself he shouldn't care.

Rose has been great for him. He's never been 'domesticated' so it's up to her to teach him about money and about normal human activities. She is there always to make sure he's alright. He loves Rose. He loves her so much.

She loves him.

But not as much as his Original: every look she gives him, every kiss, every touch and – oh Time, he loves it when she props herself over the top of him, sheets entwining them together, and asks him about what they should do for the day just as the sun rises in the early morning, is measured against those fleeting glances, those sad smiles and constant reassurance that he's doing great which only reminds them both that if he was THE Doctor he wouldn't be here and wouldn't need to know these things.

Rose Tyler does love him though.

Just not as much as his Original.

He's only second best after all.

He can live with that.

He thinks.


Fin


Author's Note: Thoughts are very much appreciated. Thanks!