turn the key: part i

She walks in, chattering happily. He closes the door behind her, not saying a word, just listening and nodding. She lets her bags and keys on the clatter; they land with a rattle and a bang. He walks past, whirls around.


Suddenly silence fills the room, now, and the air is charged with tension. He shatters it, his voice so loud and harsh, his dark eyes angry.

"I can't do this, Rose. I'm not him. I'm me, I'm human! One heart! And - Rose - this isn't how it's supposed to be. You're clinging to memories of him and I'm pretending and I'm never good enough! I'm sorry that humanity was never enough for you, Rose, but I'm sick of always standing in the shadow of who I'm supposed to be!"

He stops abruptly, runs his hands through his hair. His gaze is teary as it meets hers. Rose is shell-shocked, though from his tone or his words it's impossible for him to tell.

"I - I don't - I'm sorry." Her voice is no louder than a whisper, and it's barely that. Her brown eyes lock onto his before looking down, tendrils of blond hair escaping their constraints and falling into her face. From habit, he reaches up to tuck them away before he freezes. His hand slowly lowers to his side. "I ... I never wanted to hurt you," she finally chokes out, then turns away, hiding her face in her hands. "I'm so sorry. I - I'll ... I'll just go." Rose Tyler backs away from the human Doctor, from her shadowy lover. From her make-do. She thinks that maybe, just maybe, it's time to star finding her dreams, her magic, her make-believe. Her Doctor.

The door slides slowly closed behind her, shutting with a click. The brisk fall air washes over him, as he whispers belatedly to now-empty air. "But I'll always love you,"

Post-Journey's End. Companion piece to "Set Fire to the Rain."