Don't own Doctor Who.
So this is set after Let's Kill Hitler for the Doctor, and after The Satan Pit for Rose.
He thought seeing her again would fill him with grief, break his hearts all over again when they had finally begun to heal.
Well. Maybe not heal.
He didn't think he would ever get over her. Not really.
Not that he lo-liked her in that way anyway. But even in a best-friend way, no one would ever compare.
He'd wanted to say her name when he saw, say the one name that had never been said in this body, at least not out loud anyway, the one he lo-liked, liked to say very much.
Instead he reached for her, his hearts aching as he realised that this time it was her who was just an image.
And so instead of saying the words he should have said a long time ago, instead of crying out her name he said the one word that would plague him for the rest of his long, long life; one that summed up everything.
"Thanks. Give me guilt!"
Guilt, guilt, guilt.
Maybe if he said it enough times it would ease off.
Had he screwed her up?
Yes, his mind whispered. You made her choose between her family and you, you nearly got her killed so many times, you got her trapped in an alternative universe.
You didn't save her.
That was the crux of the whole sorry affair.
Now he was torn between guilt and regret, after getting back on the TARDIS, waving Amy and Rory off as they went in search of the kitchen, and now sitting there in the console room, staring at nothing in particular.
He should have been on that side. Perhaps he could have reached the lever, his arms were longer, he could have kept hold and pulled the lever up.
Either way, he would have taken letting go of the lever and falling into Hell just to keep her safe; he'd take anything as long as she was safe.
But you don't take care of her anymore. He does. He keeps her safe now.
He pushed away his painful thoughts, focusing his mind on what her hologram had looked like, Rose Tyler back in the TARDIS one more time.
There, he'd said it without wincing.
Well, he'd thought it. That was basically the same.
There was one more terrible yet absolutely brilliant thing that had come with seeing her in the TARDIS.
He could see her again. He could ask the TARDIS to show him more holograms and pictures that she had stored, he could pretend that Rose was back, standing silent beside him in the TARDIS.
Except…Rose would never have been silent, not with him. There had always been something to say, to laugh about; there'd been hugging and joking and even arguments at times, though they had been incredibly rare.
It wouldn't be the same. Never ever.
He'd been good so far, not going back through her timeline, staying away from places they had been together. He couldn't break his promise now.
He looked at the screen in front of him sadly, his excitement fading away, leaving him feeling hollow.
He blinked, his eyebrows raised and then blinked again.
Rose's face was on the screen.
Well, he thought bemusedly. I'm surprised I've stayed sane for this long.
No, this wasn't his mind playing tricks on him, her face was there. It was her voice he could hear.
"Doctor, if you're listening to this then-wait, will my face be the only thing shown? No, not again. Can you make it all of me, like he did?"
He realised amusedly that she was talking to the TARDIS. And then suddenly, she was there, her hair pulled back into a sloppy ponytail, her face clear of make up.
She was so beautiful it hurt.
"That's better," she said brightly, smiling right at him. "If this is showing then I'm gone and you're being all mopey and gloomy. I've asked the TARDIS to show this to you if you ever feel like that and I sort of hope that she never has to."
Her smile faded, her eyes taking on a more serious look.
"That Beast thing told me I was going to die in battle and no matter what you say I know it's going to happen someday. I want to-oh God, why is this so hard? You probably won't even see it! Right, no. I-when it happens, I want you to know that I don't regret anything, not coming away with you and not…"
She frowned, hesitating.
The Doctor stumbled forward, his hand outstretched in front of him despite knowing he couldn't touch her.
She clenched her fists, steeling herself as she said, "I love you and I know you know and I know that in some way you love me. I wouldn't change any of my life. If I die young then it'll have been the best life. If I die when I'm older then I really hope you don't kick me off when I wither," she said jokingly, though her voice was soft.
"Rose," he whispered, his breath catching in his throat. "Rose Tyler."
"I hope I had a good life. And after I'm gone I hope you have one as well. I know you'll feel guilty and it'll eat you up and d'you know what will happen, Doctor? You'll go back to the way you were before me, and I don't want that to happen. You're so brilliant. Be brilliant, Doctor, and find new friends and show them the stars. Make their lives brilliant as well. Because you're worth it, Doctor. You are worth everything."
"Rose," he said raggedly, tears rolling down his cheeks.
"I love you, my Doctor. Remember, no guilt," she said warningly, smiling one last time before her image flickered and died.
"Rose!" he screamed, whirling around to the screen, hoping her face would still be there.
"Oh, one more thing," she said softly, her hologram flickering back to life. She stared right at him, sparkling brown eyes meeting glistening green.
"Have a fantastic life."
He slumped to the floor, the words hitting him like a fist.
"I love you," he gasped. "Rose, Rose Tyler, I love you. Please, come back. Please, please, please," he sobbed, clutching at his hair.
His head shot up, daring to hope that it was her voice again.
Instead he saw Amy, her expression one of fear and concern.
"Is something wrong? Are you still sick?"
"No," he said dully. "Not sick."
Amy walked forward slowly, kneeling in front of him.
"That voice I could hear…she was a friend of yours?" she asked gently.
The Doctor nodded.
"You said you loved her," she said, so softly it was barely more than a whisper.
"I do. I always have. Always will."
"You can't see her again?"
Amy nodded, acting as though she knew what he was on about.
"I heard you say once that a broken heart is better than no heart at all," she said suddenly.
The Doctor nodded again.
"And is that true?"
He opened his mouth once, twice, before saying sadly, "Yes."
"Then be happy about it. You love her, always have, always will. Accept it as something good, not something to be upset about."
The Doctor stared at her, taking in her earnest expression and worried eyes.
He was scaring her. He, the Doctor, the Oncoming Storm, had lost control and she didn't know what to do.
Be brilliant. Have a fantastic life.
"You're right. It's a good thing, a very good thing. And I'm sorry about all…" He gestured wildly with his hands before saying, "That."
Amy smiled, helping him to his feet.
"This girl, she must have been something special."
"She was," he said softly, smiling at the thought of Rose.
"What was she like?"
The Doctor's smile widened, turning into a grin as he said proudly, "Oh, she was fantastic."