"That really is future you, right? I'm not going to pop in there and find some strange past version of you tha' I have to explain myself to all over again?" Rose asked. She didn't think she could handle another experience like this one or having to explain who she was and what he meant to her. Plus, with her track record, she'd probably fall in love again and end up shagging him. Even if they were the same man, shagging two different bodies in less than a month felt strange (especially after five years of celibacy). Of course, very shortly she was hoping to add a third to that list, she thought cheekily.

"Yes, that's really future me," he said, looking apologetic. She had forgiven him for bringing her here instead of taking her where he was supposed to but he still felt guilty over it. This body was remarkably adept at guilt.

"Hey, none of tha'. I understand why you did it. I'm glad you did. Really, really glad," she added, pulling him into a tight hug. She was glad to have helped him become the man of his future and hers and glad to have stolen another few days with this version.

"Go on then," he said gruffly but not letting his arms loosen around her. "Get in there to 'your' Doctor."

She pulled back a bit and looked him straight in the eye, that familiar look that he felt resonate through his soul. "You're all my Doctor," she said. He sighed and tightened his grip into one of the bone crushing hugs she remembered so dearly. She was trying desperately to memorize every sensation of him, the feel of the leather under her fingers, the way his body felt on hers, the circle of his arms around her, knowing that it would never feel quite like this again. God. How could she ever let him go? He sighed into her hair, perhaps doing the same thing.

They finally released the hug and she stepped back from him. He felt tears once again on his cheeks and saw them shining on hers as well. She reached up and wiped one away.

"Go and find me," she said simply. He nodded and pressed a gentle kiss to her lips, knowing that it would be a long time before he would get to do it again. They locked eyes once more and she stepped out of the TARDIS doors and out of his life again...for the moment at least.

She turned back to face him once last time. "I love you," she said, before turning away, before she could look into his brilliant eyes for one moment too long and never be able to let go.

He felt the memory of her fade to the background of his mind, hiding itself away from him even as he scrabbled to hold on, watching her walk out of sight, getting lost in the crowds of this busy planet. He closed his eyes momentarily and then she, and the memories, were gone.

He turned from the doors and reached up to touch his cheek. It was damp. Why had he been crying? Memories of the Time War threatened to crash in on him but his shields held. They were stronger than he thought they should be since he had just regenerated and patched up a bit oddly. He was also wearing new clothes. That was odd. He had no memory of picking out this outfit but it was certainly him. He adjusted the leather jacket around his shoulders and felt a warmth settle through his body, protection certainly and...happiness almost. Before he could dwell on that too long, however, the cloister bell rang.

Invasion on Earth, 21st Century London. Honestly, couldn't those apes stay out of trouble even for a few years? All of Time and Space to knock about and he was constantly running back to Earth, saving that little blue green planet as he had so many others in the past, preserving timelines, duty of the Time Lords. He considered that thought. Duty of the Time Lord. It was all up to him now. He was the only one left. The emptiness of his mind was only outweighed by the emptiness of his soul. He was alone, so alone. What was the point, really?

His mind threatened to retreat into darkness but something pulled at him, protecting him, telling him that he had to be more than the Destroyer. He had to be the Defender. Time's Champion. His own personal demons would have to wait in line.

To his great surprise, the controls were already set for the right time and location. How did that happen? And how did the console room get to looking like this? Everything had been fire and burning and death when his last life had ended. The TARDIS hummed at him and told him not to worry about it and, strangely enough, he agreed.

That was curious...and something else. He searched for a word.


That would do.

Off for new adventure, then. Off to London.

She had said no. The Doctor stared at the closed door sadly. He had felt so connected to her. A little human shop girl. It was the first time since before the War he had felt like reaching out to someone. The first time he had felt anything other than alone, with her hot little hand in his. She felt so familiar, so right .

Without any intent or motivation, he automatically wandered around the console and jerked them back into the Vortex.

Bereft of her warm hand, he was alone, drifting in the universe again and he felt so lost he could barely breathe, respiratory bypass or not. It was no less than he deserved. What had he been thinking? He was no champion, no defender. Alone, rejected for all of eternity for the "thing", the monster he was. That idiot boy had been right.

A thought, a hazy memory drifted forward from some unknown place in his mind.

A golden voice, a voice that made him think of stars and dancing and soft grass and running, that rang with laughter and love echoed through his brain. "Sometimes all you have to do is ask a second time."

A persistent little blaze of hope shot through him. Oh! He'd forgotten the most important bit!

Suddenly he grinned to himself, a daft mad grin of manic proportions, spun back to the console and adjusted the settings to go back immediately after he had left. A second time, a second chance. He was that sort of man. He wrenched open the doors and asked again.

And, just like that, Rose Tyler ran into his life for the first (or the third) time.



Rose settled her red pack deeper on her shoulders and turned square to face the second TARDIS sitting proudly across the square of this busy little alien planet. Valiantly, she did not turn back to face the imposing silhouette of the TARDIS behind her, encasing her first Doctor and all the wonderful, mad, daft things he represented.

Dashing a hand across her cheeks to wipe away the tears, she turned her head from side to side for a distraction. Shops! There were shops everywhere. Well that was brilliant. She would certainly like exploring this planet.

Well...she would like exploring this planet with the Doctor once she had finished shagging him senseless.

She took another deep breath, fitted her key in the lock and pulled open the blue wooden door. Then there was a gasp followed very quickly by a groan.

"Oh bloody hell," she muttered. "Not again."