Am I Glad I Met You?

I'm so glad I met you.

He'd said that to her once. In a previous life. It wasn't that long ago, really. Not by his usual standards. But it felt like an eternity had passed. At the time he'd meant it, and for a long time after, well into this life. But now…

Now he wishes he'd never met her at all. Never laid eyes upon her and certainly never took her hand in his and shouted 'run!' She made him better. He knew that. She had made him better. But he hurt now. He hurt so badly. And he was sure that if he'd never met her in the first place, he wouldn't hurt so much now.

He'd been fine before her. Sure, he'd been angry and cynical and bitter. But he'd still travelled the universe, traversed time. He'd still been there when he was needed. So what if before her he'd developed a contempt for everything and everyone? At least that contempt had shielded him. But she broke it down, reminded him how much he loved the universe and everything in it…reminded him how much he loved humans especially, and why.

Better with two she'd said. And oh it had been.

He'd never known anyone like her…because she was just like him…only better. She was kind and she cared, and she loved the adventure, she wanted to help, to save worlds. No one loved his way of life the way she had. No one had ever understood it before.

Is that what you do? Jump in at the last minute and save the Earth?

...hundreds of thousands of sunsets ago. No wonder you never stay still.

And it had been fun. He'd never laughed so much or so well in all his long life as he had done when she'd been with him. With her, it didn't matter where they were, what they were doing or how much trouble they were in, it was still fun. Trapped on a planet orbiting a black hole, TARDIS gone and no way home, she'd just said 'Could be worse.'

Protein one with just a dash of three – he nearly laughed at the memory…would have if he wasn't aware he'd weep instead.

She'd gotten inside of him. The only one to promise him forever…the only one he'd have given forever.

You just leave us behind. Is that what you're gonna do to me?

No. Not to you.

He hadn't wanted to think why not to her at the time. But he was clever, he was, so damn clever and he knew exactly why not. And here it was. He had but to look into a mirror to see. Not that he would.

She'd gone. Long before forever, she'd gone and left him alone. He'd travelled alone again for a little while after that, but it hadn't been as easy. She'd left a space…a huge gaping hole. And then he'd met Martha. And she'd been brilliant. He knew he shouldn't take her with him. Knew that she fancied him, knew that he could never return those feelings. Because it was Her; it had always been Her, it always would be.

But he'd been so alone, and he liked Martha and it was just… well, it was better with two. It wasn't fair to Martha, though. She'd come not for the adventure, or the discovery of the Universe. She'd come for him and he could never give her what she wanted…what she deserved, really. And so she'd left him, she'd gone home to her family.

Alone again. But he was coping. And then he'd met Donna for the second time. Against the odds. Because it was fated.

He didn't believe in fate… he hated fate, loathed it.

Because somewhere along the way Donna had become his best friend. She couldn't heal the empty space, but she shored it up. Donna made him laugh again. And she'd held his hand and spoke to him softly when she'd told him She was coming back.

And She had. She'd tried to keep her promise…to never leave him. She'd devoted years of her short life to getting back to him. And when he'd seen her standing there in the street, his hearts had all but burst from his chest.

For a moment, a very short moment, he'd had everything again. And then he'd lost it all…again…and so much more besides.

In another universe, she was happy.

Yeah, but stuck with you, that's not so bad.

In another universe, so was he.

But in this one…in this one his hearts were broken; a human expression he hadn't truly understood until he knew her…until he lost her. And it was all her fault. Because he'd met her, and she'd made him better, and he'd liked having her with him so much…too much. So that after he'd lost her, he accepted Companions again, people to keep the loneliness at bay, and because of her – all because of her – he'd become attached to them. And one by one, they'd left him and forgotten him.

Never again.

If it wasn't for her, he would have stayed travelling the universe as he had been quite effectively before he met her. And being alone wouldn't hurt quite so much.

The Doctor shoved his dripping hair out of his eyes, ignoring the droplets that scattered over the console. He wiped his hand on a dry spot on his shirt, then threw a lever. The TARDIS lurched, but she wasn't there to gaze at him from across the console with excited eyes and a wide grin, holding on tight and laughing as the ship pitched and rolled and threatened to throw them both off their feet.

He sat on the chair. She wasn't there to sit in the seat with him, feet up on the console.

And he wished he'd never met her.

The Powell estate.

It was where he'd come to life. It's where he went to die.

No crossing his own timeline...except for cheap tricks. He didn't have anything for her. Unlike the others, he hadn't come for her benefit, he'd come for his own.

It was cold and dark. And snowing...real snow. He stayed in the shadows so she wouldn't see his face too well if she chanced to look.

He heard her, and Jackie. Who would have known that Jackie's high pitched shrill would have warmed his hearts? She'd slapped him and poked at him and called him names. And she'd hugged him and kissed him and made him sit and eat and told him he was all hers. There was a word for that, but it hurt to think about.

And then there she was.

Rose. His perfect Rose.

He was in pain now, a lot of pain. He couldn't hold back the groan through gritted teeth. He hadn't meant for her to notice him, to talk to him, he'd only come to see her one last time. But now that she did, now that he was looking into her bright eyes under the street lamps in the be it, he thought.

This was his final reward: the ability to see her again. Rose would be his final conversation, the last thing these eyes see.

He didn't have much time. She spoke to him. And he spoke to her.

She smiled and lit up the dark places, just as he remembered. She told him she'd see him later, and he watched her walk away. The last shards scattered in the wind behind her.

New Year's Day, 2005.

He felt a pang of envy for his previous self. Very soon, she'd be in that cellar and he'd grab her hand and tell her to 'run!' And they'd run together, laughing, for years.

And he'd be so glad he met her.