For the curious, the quote is by St. Francis of Assisi.

Brief Candle
or
Happy, for Deep People

She asked where we were going, and I just gave her an enigmatic grin and told her it was a surprise. Now she's wandering about the control room of the TARDIS, pretending to explore—but I can tell she's watching me. She does that a lot. I usually just act like I don't notice.

Used to be, I lived for the admiration in my companions' eyes. Modesty seemed a pointless exercise—why be modest when you command the power of a Time Lord? I was marvelous, and I wanted the whole Universe to know it! But it's hard to demonstrate your awesome might when you're traveling alone. So every now and then, I would pick up one or two childlike beings and drag them hither and yon across Time and Space, showing off. A few grew disenchanted after a while (my hearts still clench at the thought of poor Adric), but for the most part, they all but worshipped me. You can imagine what that does for the ego.

But Rose is different. My first companion since the end of the Time War, since I lost everything, she put me back together again. With her, I could start to heal. She kept me grounded, stopped me from going too far. She still does, actually. Whenever I'm on the brink of crossing that line, Rose is there to bring me to my senses and pull me back.

She sees all my flaws… and still she stays.

I don't want her to worship me. I just want her. I need her.

But I steadfastly refuse to let myself fall in love with her. I won't put myself through that. All of my companions inevitably leave me, one way or another. Even if Rose stays with me for the rest of her life, that would be, what, another sixty or seventy years, tops? A mere instant to one who's lived as long as I. And the way trouble seems to follow me about like a faithful, rabid dog, it'll more than likely be less. Much less. It's going to be painful enough when she goes; falling in love will only make it worse.

So I avoid her gaze by pretending I don't see her looking. Instead, I just bask in the glow of her presence. She's like a candle flame, bright and warm and happy, casting her soft golden light over my spirit.

A very wise human monk once said, "All the darkness in the world cannot extinguish the light of a single candle." It's true. Just when I thought my guilt and loneliness and grief was about to consume me utterly, that was when I met Rose. My single, brief candle who brought me light and peace and joy again.

The problem with candles, though, is that their light comes from fire. And if you touch it, you get burned.

I burn anyway. Just the touch of her hand, a smile, a glance, sets my whole being aflame with the desire, the need, to…

To be worthy of her.

The thought knocks me reeling, though I disguise my momentary disorientation by flicking a switch that causes the TARDIS to shudder violently. In past incarnations, I chose companions I thought were worthy of the privilege of traveling Time and Space, worthy of me. I even kicked one out because I decided he wasn't.

But once again, Rose is different. Strong, brilliant, adventurous, and braver than I ever imagined a human could be. She's gentle and kind and optimistic, compassionate and impossibly forgiving. Not just a candle, she's a blaze, a nova, so bright it hurts to look, and so beautiful it hurts to look away. Who am I to eclipse that glorious light with all the darkness in my soul?

That's why I'm taking her on this little vacation. To remind her—oh, what am I on about, to remind myself—that I can show her the beauty of the Universe as well as its horrors. I set the TARDIS down as gently as I can (she was never designed to be flown solo, after all), and shove my hands in my pockets so Rose won't see them shaking. "Here we are, then," I announce brightly, finally looking over at her. She has her back to me, studying some inconsequential thing, lost in thought. She turns to face me. "Pastoralis Major," I continue, "one of the only completely pristine habitable worlds in the entire galaxy. Perfect place for a holiday, don't you think, Rose?"

She smiles, and my hearts melt. I can't help it. "Yeah," she says, with that giggle that makes me want to snog her senseless right then and there.

"Well, come on, then!" I throw open the doors with a flourish, and the air outside smells like joy and life and promise. "Allons-y!"

I refuse to let myself fall in love with Rose Tyler. But then she takes my hand, and I know it's too late.