A/N: Set after the Runaway Bride, but before Martha.
Just a bit of pure angst.
Fixed and Broken.
The ghost of Rose Tyler haunts him. Even though she is very, very much alive. She is very much alive, but very far away, unreachable and untouchable. But she is still there; she is in the hallways of the TARDIS. He hears her laugh; he smells her sweet strawberry conditioner. He often sees (imagines) her blonde hair whipping around the far corner. He runs to look around the bend, breathlessly, every time. Without fail, it is his imagination, every time. His brain is trying to reconstruct Rose Tyler where she should be. She should be here, should be having tea with him every night in the library, after an adventure-filled day fighting Daleks and saving planets and saving him.
He's known for a while now, the most important thing she's doing is changing him. He needs her, she's making him better. She's made him better already. She's fixed him, in a sense. And now she's gone. Gone just like that, and he didn't even get to say goodbye, properly. He won't. He's tried, and failed, miserably, just because he couldn't get past the fact that she has to already know. But it damn well needed to be said, and he couldn't get it out fast enough. Still, he doesn't think he could say it. To say he loves her would destroy him from the inside out, because he's bloody well aware that they can't be together forever. It's as if keeping those words inside seals his pain within himself. It's much better that way, isn't it?
What made his hearts burst before now leaves a dull ache inside. He used to feel giddy at her presence, breath taken by her compassion. Her smile used to leave him helpless, but a happy sort of helpless. At the mercy of his Rose's smile, he was never scared. Being so wholly addicted to her was entrancing, like dancing on clouds. He remembers the feeling for a fleeting moment as he closes his eyes and imagines. Wind in blonde hair, a sharp giggle beginning to bubble into laughter. His hearts soar, and he feels like he's flying. It's akin to what it's like looking out the TARDIS doors, into all of space and beyond.
But of course, he pays dearly for his moment of denial. Because, after all, what goes up must come down. And when he flies himself that high with Rose, he's going to come crashing back. And he does. His emotions make him physically fall. He topples to the ground in his room in the TARDIS, unceremoniously. He's left with what feels like a gaping hole in his chest, and he's having trouble breathing. Her name was Rose. The words he spoke only hours (or maybe it's days by now?) ago still pain him. The taste of her name on his tongue tastes like tears and heavy, unkept promises.
But she's safe, and that is consolation. Small consolation. But consolation nonetheless. She is safe, as he's promised she'd be. She is alive and with family. The Doctor half-hopes she's missing him as much as he misses her. He hopes that maybe whatever's missing in his chest to make him feel like this, whatever's gone, is with her. He wishes for her to know what he couldn't say. Hopes more than anything that she knows this part of him will always belong to her. He would give her the moon and the stars and the sun, and all the rest of the suns in the universe. He would have shown her everything, but she's gone now.
Slowly he makes his way to the TARDIS control room, the front room, so to speak. He sheds clothing along the way. His coat is left in his bedroom. His favorite pinstripe jacket ends up somewhere outside his door. He doesn't make a note when he loosens and undoes his tie, there are so many more where that came from. He ends up staring at the front doors, clad only his pinstripe pants, trademark converses, and a half-way unbuttoned cream colored, collared shirt. One hand reaches out and wrenches open the TARDIS doors.
They're spiraling through space. He's spiraling through space. Just a man and his box. He looks out into the expanse before him. The stars seem dimmer, as if they realize they have no reason to shine anymore. Without Rose, he thinks, the stars will surely go out. He just stares outside the box, with sad and cold resignation on his face. This will turn him bitter. Donna was right, he does need someone. But the only one he wants is trapped away, safe from him and all the havoc he could wreak. After all, he only takes the best. The best is Rose Tyler, and she isn't even staring at the same stars as he is.
When night falls on Bad Wolf Bay, he knows she'll look up as well, into the dark sky. They'll both be looking up at a sky. But it's not the same sky. They don't even get that much comfort. It's the curse of the Time Lords, he supposes. But he knows, deep down, it's more than that. The whole of space and time does not bend to his will, and this is a sign that there are just some things that can't be fixed. Some things remain damaged. Some things are fixable, yes. Others are doomed to be broken forever. Somehow, right now, he is both.
The Doctor. In the TARDIS. Without Rose Tyler.