A/N: If you recognize it, I don't own it. This story jumps around Bad Wolf and The Parting of Ways, inspired by the realization that Rose uses a possessive for the Doctor but he never uses one for her.
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The Doctor didn't know what was happening anymore. That had never happened to him but he didn't care. He knew that he had to get Rose; he therefore entered the game without fear, without a plan, and without any inkling of hesitation. Rose was Important. It was Important that he get Rose back because without her, he had nothing.
He heard himself saying something about the game. Stop the game. Stop the game.
And there was Rose, sweet and beautiful Rose, running toward him, warning him. Look out for the Anne Droid, look out –
And he was on his knees, staring at the remains of the human who had meant so very much to him, staring at the dust as the universe came crashing down around him. Part of him wanted to rebel, wanted to say that there was no way he was going to let her go like this, no way he was going to let it end like this – he was the Doctor, the Oncoming Storm, the Destroyer of Worlds, Victor of the Last Great Time War, the man who had killed two of the greatest empires ever to exist in this or any other universe, and why should he let her go like this?
But the overwhelming majority just felt numb.
He could do nothing.
He had nothing.
He was nothing.
Because he had failed her.
And the universe should have ended in that second.
For him, it did.
He didn't care about the guns pressed to his head. Guns couldn't do anything more to him.
He didn't care when they threw him against the chain-link fencing that served as the Gamestation prison, when they searched his pockets and pulled something out.
They were saying something about it. What is it, they wanted to know. What is this thing?
The Doctor looked at the screwdriver in the guard's hand, but his eyes passed right over it; it wasn't important. Not remotely important. He told them that. Not important. They took it, but that didn't matter.
They told him to look straight at the camera. He did.
They told him to look to the left. He did.
They told him to look to the right. He did.
They threw him in jail and pestered him and Jack Harkness and Lynda-with-a-Y.
And the Doctor realized that he wasn't content to let the universe end just yet. Because they had killed Rose. And he had to, had to, avenge her before he could let the universe end.
And suddenly he had a goal, something to focus on, and he could focus. He was consumed by the Importance of this goal and he would not stop until every sniveling coward on this satellite, every stinking, filthy human who called it okay to strip the universe of its only value, lie trembling at his feet and begging him for mercy.
Because he was the Oncoming Storm.
The Destroyer of Worlds.
Victor of the Last Great Time War.
He had destroyed the Daleks and the Time Lords single-handed.
He was the Doctor.
He was Rose Tyler's Avenger.
"Let's do it."
Jack had figured it out.
"It's a trans-mat. It's a secondary trans-mat system. People don't get disintegrated in the games, they get transported across space! Doctor, Rose is still alive!"
And suddenly the universe came crashing back, everything settling into place.
In an instant, suns flared and gave light to his life, and he could see again. In an instant, the song of the universe swelled and became more beautiful than it had ever been, and he could hear again. In an instant, flowers blossomed and their scent was sweet and fresh, and he could smell again. In an instant, he could taste again.
In an instant, he could feel again.
In an instant, the universe became right.
In an instant, meaning returned.
Because Rose wasn't dead.
Rose was alive. And so he would get her back.
And the Doctor laughed.
The Daleks had Rose. If ever he had reason to hate them, it was this.
But he smiled and joked because Rose was on the screen, and when he could see Rose, and she could see him, nothing could be wrong.
"You will obey or the female will be exterminated."
And the Doctor found that he wasn't afraid. He was almost jubilant. Because he had found Rose Tyler, the one who gave the capital I to the Important things in his life, and now nothing in the universe would stop him from getting her back and making sure that she never had reason to look so afraid ever again.
"I said no."
"What is the meaning of this negative?"
"It means no!"
"But she will be destroyed!"
"No!" He leapt to his feet, grinning. It felt almost savage. It felt fantastic. He was going to rescue Rose Tyler from the middle of the Dalek fleet, and he was going to save the Earth, and then to finish off, he was going to wipe every single stinking Dalek out of the sky. And this time he was going to do it properly, so that they would never have a chance to rebuild themselves.
It wasn't because they were his sworn enemies.
It wasn't because they had killed his people.
It was because this was the second time they had threatened Rose Tyler and this time they were going to pay.
And he would set an example to all of the universe, for all of time, so that no one would threaten her ever again.
They wanted to know how he would do it, since he had no weapons or defenses or plans.
He didn't know and he didn't care.
He didn't need to know.
Nothing could stop him now.
It had been so long since he'd heard her voice, and it was too wonderful to describe.
"I'm coming to get you."
"Rose, are you alright?"
"Yeah, fine. Glad to see ya. You?"
This wasn't the only option. They could just leave. He let her know that. We don't have to risk our lives, we could just leave and let what happened, happen.
But Rose didn't like that idea. It had never even crossed her mind. You would never do that.
He wished he could have told her how much he loved her for those words. But he didn't just love her, and there were no words to tell her.
This had to work. If the delta wave wasn't correct, Rose would die.
So would the Daleks, and Jack Harkness, and Lynda-with-a-Y, and the workers, the game hosts, the players of the games. So would he. So would the entire Earth.
But they weren't Important. He wasn't Important.
Rose was Important.
He couldn't let Rose die.
"Rose Tyler, you are a genius!"
"Oh, good!" She paused. "How?"
He told her something to technical for her to understand, so that she wouldn't know he was speaking nonsense. He sent her into the TARDIS, had her hold down the right buttons so that she couldn't move, and sent her home.
The Doctor would never see her again. That was alright; he had planned for this. She would know what he was doing, after it was too late for her to stop it. And he would die here, unable to regenerate in the onslaught of the delta wave, but that was okay because Rose would still be alive.
It would be a lonely death.
But at least Rose wasn't around to see him shaking with fear.
She came back.
In the darkest hour she came back to him.
The TARDIS door opened and it was all swirling golden time energy, a herald for the most beautiful, fantastic human who had ever lived.
And she was beautiful, smelling of Time and Rose and glowing golden, her hair a mess, mascara running down her cheeks where she had cried, her swirling eyes staring into distances of which he could scarcely even dream. The time energy clung to her skin like pixie dust. It suited her so perfectly. She was an avenging goddess, for him, just for him.
And she was dying.
He could see her dying, he could see her withering before his eyes, shrinking down in her corona of time energy. She would shrink down and become nothing and the corona would be all that remained of her.
He pleaded with her as she destroyed the Daleks. He pleaded with her to give up the power. Just let it go. He wanted her to go home. He wanted to be the one to finish it, not her.
It wasn't because he wanted to be heroic.
It certainly wasn't because he wanted her to leave him.
It was because he knew that the one who triumphed here would be the one to die.
And if he let her triumph, if he wasn't heroic, she would burn from the inside out. She would be consumed by the Time Vortex swirling around in her head. It was eating away at her and when it was done she wouldn't even be a pile of dust. There would be nothing left of her, didn't she understand that?
She didn't care.
"I want you safe, my Doctor."
Her Doctor. Yes – that was the bottom line, wasn't it? He was her Doctor and he would do anything for her. He didn't love her. Love was a fleeting thing, made of hormones and self-delusion. Rose Tyler was his everything. Without her he was nothing, he was less than nothing. He belonged to her, completely and totally, body and soul.
She would never belong to him. She would never be His Rose.
But he would always be Her Doctor.
"My head." She was crying. "It's killing me."
She didn't have much time left.
"You need a Doctor."
She had a Doctor. He was Her Doctor.
He had no weapons, no plan, no useable technology, no idea what to do.
And nothing was going to stop him saving her.
It wasn't a kiss. It couldn't be a kiss because kissing was all about emotions, all about passion.
Someday, he hoped to kiss her.
But right now, all he was doing was pulling the Time Vortex out of her so that he would die and she would live.
Because this was the way it was supposed to be.
She was not supposed to die before him. Because if she did, his universe would end, and he would go insane with grief.
He was selfish like that.
But if it saved her life, it was okay to be selfish this time.
"Every cell in my body is dying."
"Isn't there anything you can do?" There was, and he was doing it, but she didn't understand that it wouldn't matter if there wasn't. He would be happy to die like this, with her alive next to him, because he had saved her life and he wished he could tell her he loved her. He wished he could be merely in love with her. It would make things simpler.
"Yeah, I'm doing it now."
He would always be Her Doctor. This next body, which he could already feel prickling under his skin and waiting to come through, would be hers to do with as she wanted. He wondered if she knew she had that power over him.
But he knew she didn't know.
She was Rose Tyler.
And he was the Doctor. Her Doctor.
She was not his Rose. Because he could never hope to own her. Never could.
She was too Important to be the property of any man, and especially a man like him.
And he didn't simply love her. But one day, he hoped, he would find words to tell her how Important she was.