shining like stars, hearts like supernovas

The Doctor is so weary. He has had at least nine hundred years to run from pain, and yet he finds that as he grows old, his misery grows as well. There is no escape from it, not even in death.

He has had so much time - nine lives, and his tenth is ending - and yet so much time still remains. What will he do with it all? Let the lives he's ruined stack up in number? He's long since run out of fingers to count the deaths with, and that's including all the fingers he's ever had.

And more than death trails behind him - loss, pain, suffering. For him and those around him. The Oncoming Storm leaves chaos in his path, and there is no where to hide, no safe place to cower within. Everything around him withers before its time because though it is the last thing the Doctor could ever wish, he is poison and destruction. So much lost ... and still so much to lose.

Susan Foreman, his grand-daughter, with her short dark hair and her wide eyes. She burnt in the Time War, and her screams still echo in his ears. Because it's all my fault.

Barbara Wright, the unwilling companion, along with Ian Chesterton. Both alive on Earth, but with a thousand images exploding behind their mind's eyes, never truly satisfied, and never again to experience a feeling of comfort or safety.

Victoria, or, rather, Vicki. Beautiful and naive, alone in the dark so very long. And then she found love, so the Doctor left her, only for her to be lost and confused for all her life. Where does she belong?

Steve Taylor, abandoned to far too much responsibility for one human to handle, out of his elements, out of his place, out of his time.

Katarina, who sacrificed herself to give the Doctor 'peace of mind', shooting herself into the emptiness of space in order to spare him a hard decision.

Sara Kingdom, so protective of the Doctor and so willing to do right that she stumbled blindly forward, aged to dust before his eyes.

Dorothy "Dodo" Chaplet, left hypnotized and partially brain-dead, with never another visit from her Doctor to sustain her mental health; she's left believing that most of her early life was a hallucination, or perhaps that her currentl existance is the illusion.

Polly, dragged off on dangerous adventures, so weary and heart-sick by the end, left to a world that never noticed her absence, and Ben Jackson, depressed, angry and suspicious. At least they're together, right?

Jamie McCrimmon and Zoe Hariot, minds wiped clear of their encounters with the Doctor.

Victoria Waterfield, beautiful and brave, but so very frightened, left to spend her days cowering amongst strangers.

Liz Shaw, never appreciated, only someone to pass the test tubes and tell the Doctor how brilliant he was. He never did tell her that she was brilliant, too, far more so than he could ever be, even if it was just because she was human and happy and alive.

Jo Grant, miniaturised, hypnotised, flung through time, nearly aged to death, and menaced by both giant maggots and ancient daemons. She suffered so much for him, weathered it all for her Doctor. Did he ever thank her? There's no point in even asking; when has he ever slowed down long enough to thank those he hurts? They're dead before he turns around.

Sarah Jane Smith, left hundreds of miles from home without a goodbye. She waited for decades for that goodbye, and the Doctor knows that even now, it's not enough, because how can he give back the time he stole? How can he fix what he broke so long ago?

Harry Sullivan, forgotten, on a train of all places. His conscience still feels the dull ache when a train is mentioned, because he can't even go back to right this wrong.

Leela, the primitive and violent but quite brilliant girl, who faced killer robots, murderous homunculi and Sontaran invasions with bravery and poise, and the Doctor only ever belittled her for not being civilized enough.

K9, broken and abandoned, a newer model made while the elder's sacrifice goes unmourned.

Romana, short for Romanadvoratrelundar, a Gallifreyan assigned to assist the Doctor, who was first left in E-Space but later fought alongside the Doctor during the War, and who burned alongside every other of their kind. Well, except him ...

Adric, burnt in the fiery wreck as he tried so hard to do good, to be accepted and validated by those around him, especially the Doctor, whom he held in such high esteem.

Nyssa, brave enough to sacrifice her life in an attempt to spare others from suffering.

Tegan Jovanka, so strong, but her travels took such a psychological toll on her; she left all things behind in tears.

Vislor Turlough, an alien, sent to kill the Doctor in order to return to his planet, but strong enough to resist. Maybe one day he'll be able to come home ...

Peri Brown, full name Perpugilliam Brown, with her infectious smile, eventually married to a stranger from another race and never mentioned again.

Mel Bush, of the curly hair and convoluted time lines.

Ace, with her backpack full of nitro-9, is no longer a little girl. Her Professor weeps with shame to recall how he manipulated her. He taught her of all the beautiful things in the universe, and of all the most hideous things within himself.

Grace Holloway, tired of life but afraid of dying, who fell finally fell in love only for it to be with a man who would never love her in return.

As the Doctor remembers, oh god, his hearts ache with such strength as would kill any human ... but human he is not, and now a smile graces his lips. He laughs to recall the vivacity with which his companions lived, and even though the weight of worlds are on his shoulders, and though guilt often threatens to strangle him, at least he can revel in the glory that they all held. All his companions, bright and shining!

But not anymore.

Oh, yes, there was Rose, whose light was brighter than any star; who looked into the heart of the TARDIS and took the Time Vortex into her soul in order to save his life. Rose Tyler, who was more than willing to leave her family behind in order to stay with him, in order to deliver her promised forever.

And oh how much he wanted it. Because there was nothing he had seen, with any eyes, blue or brown or green or black, that could compare to her smile. Nor had any sound he had ever experienced held a candle to her laughter. And not one of his companion's hands fit as perfectly in his as hers did.

Rose, he thinks now, the smile that graced his face when his mind rested upon thoughts of question-mark canes and Australian or American accents fading away. Rose was the one that truly broke his hearts when she left him.

Rose is the epitome of the Doctor's regrets. He regrets allowing himself to fall in love, oh so deeply in love, with a companion, and he regrets never telling her how he felt. But most importantly, he regrets letting her fingers slip from the lever and he regrets the day that clean white wall was built and he regrets the second he first laid eyes on it, because it showed him that he has always been the Time Lord without enough time. And that's why he'll never tell Rose how much she meant to him.

You see, Rose Tyler's fate is not so harsh. The Doctor can even go so far as to believe that she is happy, because she is with the man she loves. But at the same time, she is not, and she is merely living with a consolation prize. Because, even though travel to alternate dimensions should be impossible, Rose found a way back to her Doctor, as she was always wont to do. And the Doctor sent her back with a hybrid, with Doctor-Donna, with a meta-crisis human-Time Lord mutt. A creature with the mind of a Time Lord ... but only one heart. The Doctor left Rose Tyler on a beach in an alternate dimension with an alternate him and called that good. At least the meta-crisis can tell the woman he loves that it is so.

And there was Jack Harkness, who had a smile wider than any the Doctor had witnessed before. His smile is tainted now, because the Captain may very well live as long as the Doctor himself, for he is immortal, a fact, and so is forced to watch those he loves wither and fade.

Mickey Smith, left behind and forgotten. The tin dog; Mickey the Idiot. Always second place to those he loved, until he chose to lose himself in another dimension.

Beautiful Martha Jones of course deserves mentioning; she whose affections the Doctor could never return, because he was far too busy longing for his Rose. Martha, who he ruined, who he turned into a soldier during the year that never was. Martha, who is clever and brave and bright and still never enough.

Joan Redfern; another regret. Are you happy, Doctor? He can't answer the girl because doesn't she look just like Joan? And anything he says will either break her heart or be a lie and he can't stand to see her face sad, or worse, pitying. That nurse ... he saw himself growing old with her, and he would have given up everything - travel in the TARDIS and all his memories and all of space and time and maybe even Rose - just to live that life. It was actually the first time, there in that small country town in the spring of 1913, the first time since Rose ... left him ... that white walls and levers and supernovas didn't fill his mind every hour, waking or sleeping. Of course, when he read "A Journal of Impossible Things" he knew that every step he took as a human was just another scar on Joan's heart, and leaving her behind was, as always, the best thing he could have done for her.

She was too much like me. Jenny wasn't really his daughter, but it had been such a long time since the Doctor was a father and she sorta hac his fifth regeneration's hair color, and her eyes were colored a bit like his fourth regeneration's, and those cheekbones were definitely the ninth's, and so the Doctor's heart ached to see her and ached all the more when she took a bullet for him. How much he wanted to shoot the man who killed her, he'll never tell, because he never would.

You aren't falling, Astrid, you're flying. It's all a lie, isn't it? The Doctor let lovely Astrid die; he didn't even move to stop it. She fell, screaming, reaching for him, and she, too, burned. At least her ghost can watch the stars fall and burn as well, as all of eternity passes her by and she falls through time and space.

Adelaide Brooke, whom he thought he could save. A crooked smile crosses his lips; for he is the Time Lord Victorious, is he not? He named himself, but it wasn't nearly as successful a naming as the Bad Wolf was. Oh, she was brilliant. Fantastically brilliant, in fact, but the Doctor's not even close. He thought himself invincible, thought he could change fate's design, but he never could and he should have known better. If Adelaide weren't so clever, so brave, and so willing to sacrifice herself in order to right what the Doctor made wrong - well, the very universe might have ended right then and there. Yet again, all thanks to the stupidity of one being who just kept screwing up.

And Donna, with her firey red hair and wide smile. Or, as the Ood said, Doctor-Donna. She finally saw her worth in this universe as she saved twenty-six planets as well as the rest of creation, and yet now it's gone and she can only ever be an empty-headed secretary with no hopes or dreams, and with the absolute and unshakeable belief that she is nothing. Her memories of being better are hidden away because otherwise, she'll die in fire.

And oh, as his thoughts today can so clearly portray, the Doctor doesn't need to add more screams of those he loves to the sounds he hears as he dreams at night.