Fire in the Dawn {part one}

It had come down to this. This room; this time.

This was where the world ended.

He'd found a way – when Daveros had come back to haunt the universe, she'd found him and he'd found her and they'd saved the world. As it should be. He couldn't deny that they'd come out of it with scars, some of which ran deeper than others, but they had come out of it. Nothing unusual had happened in the end. Okay, so the thing with Rose feeling the TARDIS inside her head when she'd been trapped in the ship, that was a bit weird.

She'd been in the TARDIS when it fell into the pits on the crucible – an event that the darleks had orchestrated specially, he was sure. It couldn't have been coincidence. Couldn't have. Not when they'd almost destroyed his third and fourth hearts at the same time in one, fell swoop.

For a moment, a terrible moment in which the screams of his own people drowned his ears, he thought they had succeeded. He thought they were gone; stolen from him by the race that had taken so much. He'd thought she was…but – but, then everything had been fine. Absolutely fine! The TARDIS had taken care of the girl she still considered her sister and showed her how to fly her. How to fight the darleks. How to save the world.

The light was still blue as it filtered through the windows facing east, a light mist hovering over the cold, stone floor. The room echoed; a cavernous, empty hall with the alter at the end. Rows and rows of seats ended some way before it. The alter itself was low to the ground so that the first light could strike the surface and refract across the bowl-shaped indentation made of silver and lined with glass.

Broken now. Cracked. Shattered in the centre so the dust pooled in the bottom.

And the sword…lying four meters in front and to the left, by the seats.

They'd gone back to Pete's universe to pick up her parents, because he couldn't just have her leave them because of him.

Jackie had slapped him again. For good measure. For being a useless Timelord.

It had hurt.

He'd forgotten how much it had hurt from last time – well, new face he supposed – but still, it hurt! They'd left them in London after making sure they'd be okay. And after having Rose introduce him to Tony.

Her younger brother was a menace. Permanently sticky, wouldn't sit still and chased after anything and everything. His little ape obsession with shiny objects and bright colours was intriguing to say the least. But he couldn't get over how much his sense of wonder and curiosity was like his sister's. He glowed with the chance to meet someone new; lost no time in showing the Doctor all his toys. He'd showed him the jam jar where he put all his 'shiny things' – collected bottle tops, marbles…

He'd called him 'Doc'a', and the Doctor had given him a banana. He'd told Mickey to keep an eye on them – and on Martha, although between him and Jack that second one didn't need pointing out. They'd be okay. Sarah-Jane too, he'd look in on her at some point. Find out more about her son. But for now it was just him and Rose.

The Doctor and Rose.

Donna had gone off too – not for long. She'd said pick her up in a week's time and she'd spend it with her family, knowing full well the pair of them would waltz off to the stars for a couple of months in between.

So, they were together in the TARDIS once again. The Stuff of Legend; Shiver and Shake. 'Course they would sneak a month or two with just them. He couldn't shake the feeling Donna was trying to give him a hint, though.

His footsteps clicked off the walls, and then again and again. The noise bounced around him as he walked slowly up the hall. He didn't feel anything. He didn't even feel pain. There was a black storm in his head, but something held it back. He was on autopilot, disinterestedly observing his limbs moving without really thinking. All thought was a blurred wash. His throat was sore, but he wasn't screaming now, not even inside his head.

He was beyond that.

He led her back into the TARDIS properly for the first time, both of them grinning madly, and let go of her hands to stand by the console. For some reason he couldn't seem to focus; his fingers were cold again and he had to look back up to reassure himself that she was still there. Then he got distracted by her tongue as it poked over her teeth.

"So, Rose Tyler," he had thought he'd never see her again. His voice had been low and the way he'd said her name – he hadn't meant to, hadn't meant to show it, but it was impossible to keep the secret.

"Where do you want to go?"

She had smiled mischievously; nervously.

"Anywhere in the universe?"

He was shivered violently. When he reached her, his legs gave out entirely and he sunk to his knees by her side. It was like on Gamestation, but somehow, like arsenic poisoning, it had gotten so much worse since then.

"Anywhere you want to go."

"I don't know…somewhere relaxing." She had come up to stand beside him, her warmth just touching his shoulder. "Somewhere with beaches. Just this once."

He'd turned round, hand still on the console. He'd met her eyes and almost lost himself, pulling away at the last second. He'd lost her, and now she was here.

She was here.

The universe didn't usually do that and he certainly didn't deserve it. It was too amazing. He'd felt the pause between them and had chosen his words, unable to take his eyes off her.

"Your wish."

Then he'd pulled the lever and they'd been thrown to the ground. They'd gone on an adventure, because obviously he didn't have the capacity to just 'visit' a pleasure planet. That wasn't how the universe ever worked, but there were still beaches. Rose had worn a breath-taking white dress with tiny strawberries dotted over it and a straw sunhat she'd found somewhere. He didn't think he'd seen anything more lovely.

And that was odd, because he'd seen thousands of things in nine hundred years of travelling space and time. He'd seen the birth of new galaxies and the dawn of civilisations; he'd seen the treasures of the universe and some of the most beautiful things in creation.

But she was Rose. Always Rose.

It was like what Shakespeare had written when he'd done that sonnet describing a lover.

'My mistress' eyes are nothing like the sun;

Coral is far more red than her lips' red'

He had seen the sun in her eyes – or rather the heart of the TARDIS. And when he had he'd thought she'd been a living goddess, but that had scared the living daylights out of him and he'd quite literally died to stop it. No, none of that he thought of when he thought of her. The last line meant something about how humans inaccurately described the Madonna women, but he thought of the meaning of the sonnet through the eyes of the writer.

Rose was more beautiful than anything in the universe because Rose was Rose. Comparing her to anyone or anything else was pointless and unfair.

He reached out a shaking hand to touch her soft, yellow hair. It felt like silk and softened pine needles. It was still warm. Not for long, but for the moment he could pretend he could still feel the glow of her life. His fingertips brushed her skin, clammy from running but still so very fine, and slid slowly, slowly down her cheek.

He'd thought she was beautiful before she was gone, but this was different. Something had changed; they'd both felt it. Maybe it had something to do with the sentence he never finished…

But there was always plenty of time for that, wasn't there? Even approaching the thought, he had felt something akin to terror. It frightened him that his existence might depend so greatly on one pink and yellow human. Frightened him that he might once, just once in all his lives, have stumbled upon something that only happened in legend.

So, he did what he did best in times of emotional complication. He ran.

They had adventures, and he never mentioned the change because he wanted to enjoy what they had only recently re-discovered. He thought desperately that admitting the blindingly obvious, even to himself, was courting disaster. The universe may have given her back, but he knew from experience that it was unforgiving.

He thought fleetingly of checking for the imprint of her mind; to indulge that one, insane hope that stirred still his hearts. But if he found nothing…that emptiness…

The tear pulled gently away from his chin.

When they visited Sepia Xelphox IX, he couldn't hide anymore. It was a planet where, during the civil war, they held people in nightmares constructed from their own memories. He was forced to endure the last days of the Time War over and over again. As well as Gamestation, the battle of Canary Warf, the Master's return and a thousand other things, as well as the events on the Crucible, still so, so raw.

And she'd pulled him out.

She'd given him a light to follow and saved him; saved them. She'd been too strong for them to hold, his Rose. He let her handle everything on the planet since she still seemed to be thinking straight. He hadn't been able to shake the need for revenge – anything to vent the pain spearing through him. It was a black, hard feeling. If he were alone, he might have levelled the complex and returned to the TARDIS, but he hadn't been alone. He'd had her. And so she'd saved everyone.

Then they'd gotten back to the TARDIS and he'd just wanted to lock away that pain until he couldn't feel it anymore; drown it in good memories. Memories with her.

She was having none of it. She somehow managed to persuade the TARDIS to give them a chance to talk and his magnificent timeship brought them to the edge of a nebula: the universe's equivalent of a bend in the road in middle of nowhere.

When had he become so easy to gang up on?

She was beautiful, even now in the half-light, limbs sprawled across the floor where she fell. She'd destroyed the alter; the creatures were gone. The earth was safe, yet all the while the universe collapsed down and down towards them, the tears pooling silently in his eyes before falling onto her ashen skin.

He'd resisted talking for hours, tinkering with the ship whilst Rose tried everything to get him to open up. He'd been immune to all of them – partly because he didn't want her to feel his pain, partly because he didn't want to feel it himself.

But then she'd talked about the nightmares she'd been put through, and he hadn't been able to keep it up. She'd talked about all the things she'd seen with the dimension cannon; about pain and death and endless possibilities. What struck him most was how it was possible that he'd never asked. He'd never checked that she'd been okay, that she hadn't been hurt. She'd been through hell and even showed him the marks to her perfect body – that was still perfect, of course it was, but it did make him want bring the full fury of the Oncoming Storm to the monsters that had dared hurt her.

She'd tried not to cry, but he saw it coming. And then she'd smiled, her eyes lighting with a fire to outshine the stars, and told him she'd thrown it all off – all the nightmares – because she didn't regret any of it, even for a second. She didn't regret it because of him. Because she loved him and there would never be anything she wouldn't endure for him.

She'd looked away after her admission, embarrassed maybe, but then she didn't see the way those words made everything tumble down. In that single moment they held him like a net, a hope, and then crushed him because he didn't deserve her love. He hadn't deserved her to save him.

"I'm sorry."

"Don't be. Don't ever be." He'd felt the emotions all stick in this throat, threatening to spill out. The truth. The inevitable, inevitable truth.

"I just…I know you're hurting, and I want to help. I want to help you, Doctor. 'Cos, I know what it feels like to have all that pain there and it just…eats at you."

He slid sideways where he knelt, letting gravity take its hold until he hit the cold floor beside her.

He couldn't say it. It'd got caught on his tongue and he hadn't got it out. That little thing he carried round like a candle in a hurricane. Everything else he'd let go of: he'd told her everything, spoke for hours except when he couldn't and she'd just held him. He'd sobbed in front of her, much to his chagrin, but then again he'd felt so vulnerable and had allowed himself to be.

For her.

She'd seen him back to his room after he was finished, but then he couldn't bear for her to leave. To be alone then…he'd asked her to stay. Just for a while. Until the pain and exhaustion had drained away. So she'd climbed into his bed without further comment and gestured for him to lie next to her.

At that he'd hesitated – at that alarm bells went off. Not that he didn't want to be so intimate with Rose, far from it. Many nights under the console while she slept he'd half fantasised about such an opportunity, about giving in to the impossible idea…

Presented with it, he baulked. He loved her – there was no denying it now. He loved her and was a broken old man who didn't deserve her. But the alternative was to be alone, and he didn't think he could survive that, so he acquiesced and let her wrap her arms around him. In them, he'd felt so ridiculously warm and content, but he'd insisted she let go when he'd felt her growing sleepy. She'd rolled away and fallen under the spell, and to his surprise, he'd found himself heavy with sleep too. Well, maybe it wasn't that much of a surprise. He hadn't slept in months.

He reached for her, through the feeling of falling through the floor, and tangled his hand in her hair. The abyss caught him up. His hearts were dying and the pain was beyond anything. He wanted to follow her, wanted to plunge after her, but even if he did…

A wretched sound gouged and forced its way up his rib cage, past his thorax, past his lips…

He'd woken to find her in his arms again, fast asleep, spooning her from behind. His arm was tight around her chest and the rest of him was pressed against her as if his subconscious was just as desperate to have her close as he was. In his sleep addled state, he had merely pulled her tighter and drifted back to sleep.

He closed his eyes. He screwed them up and let the agony thunder through him, a long, terrible howl roaring through his throat. The fingers balled in her hair, as if by clutching at her he could bring her back…

She awoke before he did. He was woken by her pulling his arms even more tightly around her – that was even possible? – and by her sigh of contentment. It was at that precise moment that he wondered how to panic without alerting her. And he'd needed to panic. He blearily remembered being in that state in the middle of their sleep, but now he was awake – and aware of the other problem –

He had to think she'd noticed that. It would have been hard not to.

She'd protested as he gently extracted himself and made a run for it. Because he was sure that wasn't meant to happen. Not without him choosing it to, anyway, and he was sure he hadn't been dreaming about it.

He'd gotten to the first empty room – the TARDIS had provided him a cupboard in which to hide his shame, this from the ship he'd shared existence with for the past nine centuries! – and leant his head on the door. He tried to think. Tried to think about anything other than Rose. Anything but the human companion that this couldn't ever happen with for a litany of reasons five miles long…

And then all he could think about was Rose. How she had felt in his arms. How her hair had smelled as he buried his nightmares in it.

This, surprisingly, hadn't made the problem go away.

He felt like he had on the TARDIS when he'd gotten clear of the Moment. From the destruction of everything he had ever loved. He had been alone then too, but he'd still had hope. Not that he would ever be whole: that he would ever feel again, that he would ever find someone to make life bearable again, but a small, resilient voice telling him he would go on. That the rest would come later.

It was dead now.

As he'd leaned his back against the door, he'd strayed into a very dangerous area of thought. The one involving the position they'd been in. What would it have been like if he'd woken her with a kiss? What then? Then his hands might have been on her hips when he pressed up against her, her thigh stretched back over his…

At this point the constriction in his trousers had hurt so much that he'd opened them without thinking. He had half-realised what he was doing when the thought of her pressing back made him reach down. A groan of relief escaped him as he grasped his throbbing shaft, fingers moving if only to lessen some of the pressure. He remembered a dim sense of self-disgust, but it was quiet and distant and honestly half-hearted as he did it again, building a rhythm as he thought of her.

His breath shallowed and he hadn't been able to silence the moans when he suddenly imagined her tongue in place of his fingers. He had leant his head back, speeding up, his mind crashing through in waves as he pictured her, only her. The woman that loved him. The woman he loved; loved more dearly then anything in the universe. Loved desperately, loved jealously and selfishly, but oh he loved her. He'd begun murmuring her name over and over as he got closer and closer.

She came looking for him. She'd called his name, and it had sent him over the edge. With a strangled moan, he'd lost himself, emptying himself of everything and sliding to the floor in a state of dazed bliss.

"Doctor? Doctor!"


"Are you okay?"

He had been breathless and his voice high pitched – once he'd got it back. She'd been calling him for two minutes and twelve seconds before he could even think about answering. She'd been suspicious then, of course, but the waves of pleasure still coming in had been enough to blanket the panic that she would find him. And the TARDIS wasn't that cruel, was she?

As he sat against the door, he'd murmured her name again. He ought to have told her. Ought to tell her. He should say it…


But the orgasm faded and he'd hesitated. It was too selfish – she really wouldn't ever leave if he said. She wouldn't ever have her own life, and he'd had hoped for that. She deserved it. After everything she'd been through.

That one adventure he could never have.

Yet it was selfish not to since she had already given him so much, including her love. But he was too much of a coward and it scarred him. Scarred him that he would tie his life to a fleeting, pink and yellow human and forfeit anything in the future because there would, forever more, never be anyone else.

Scarred him that, for the first time, he truly understood the sentiment. Believed in it. And would doom his hearts to unbearable agony in the end because he would do it.

If he wasn't a coward.

"Coward or killer?"

"Coward. Any day."

He hadn't wanted to think about it anymore and had lurched up and out of the cupboard after spotting the tissues in the far corner. As if his magnificent timeship had anticipated his lack of control. He'd made a face at the ceiling.

"Oh, Rose…"

He'd bounced into the control room, grinning madly, and had met the 'don't-give-me-that-bullshit' look Rose was sporting. She seemed genuinely annoyed that he'd just upped and left her in bed, but pointed out that after the previous day she'd been worried. He'd hugged her, shoving away the thoughts that had fuelled him minutes before, and focussed on her worrying.

About him.

Okay, that didn't help since it got him back onto the subject of her loving him, but that was fine! He had a big head, he could just think about that while he did other things, right? Right?!

He'd kept getting distracted by her tongue as she giggled. And her legs.

Then he'd suggested they go to earth, eighteen ninety's. He'd suggested they finally get to Naples. And the thought of her loving him and him being absolutely and so completely in love with her had refused to shift. What sobered him was the knowledge of two things.

One, that he could never give her what she so sorely deserved as a human: a child, a home, a family or even his life since he would have to live on. And, two, that she could never be his 'eternal' because it would cause him too much pain that she wouldn't live.

So he wouldn't say it.

None of it mattered. He was in pain anyway and more now he knew he would get no more chances; no more extra time. He would never say, and it was like being cut open until there was no more blood left. His hearts pumped broken glass and he couldn't breathe. His repertory bypass wasn't working, and he didn't want it to. He just wanted to choke on his own anguish and end the pain.

Because they'd come here and she'd died and now there was nothing left.

Elliot was right.

This was how the world ended.

Not with a bang, but with a whimper.

He whimpered her name because she was gone. Because there were no screams left. The storm that blotted out everything else descended in a fury, and he allowed himself to be swept into the dark.

A.N: Okay, this is another go at the genre, cos I couldn't resist. I love getting inside the Doctor's head, especially when it has to do with Rose. Not strictly speaking cannon when it comes down to motive and story direction, but that's mostly because the producers have to keep the story going. It isn't like a novel where there is a definitive end: there's always an influx and outflux of things and characters and bits and pieces, specially when there's multiple people writing new adventures. That's just how the series works. But this is my take on the motives of the character and the nature of their relationship.

Oh, and I have nothing against the metacrisis, i just like writing for the Timelord cos it's less domestic and more magical. AU was an easy escape to get the right situation (sorry about that). And I'm shamelessly advertising here, but I do fancy it as being similar to this if anyone's interested: my other one - Between the Worlds - was my first angst/romance/steamy writing piece, so...if you liked this one...

Reviews make my day! HAHA! Seriously though, review if you liked it!

Edit. 0.7ish (sort of edited, but edited in the process of finishing the other chapters, so I don't think it counts)