I do not own any part of Doctor Who, that would be fabulous, but sadly it is not true.

He loved his companions. All of them. Really, he did, even the annoying ones.

But sometimes they could be so thick.

He never understood why they never saw it, why they never felt it. It wasn't like he was hiding it or anything; didn't they see the way he spoke to them or held their hands? Others did though; outsiders could see what was really going on. They probably thought it was a little odd for such a young pair to have such a relationship, but they understood it none the less. They'd even had it pointed out to them on one occasion by Davros on the Dalek Crucible. Well, yes, they had at the time been embroiled in the end of the universe and all of reality but, honestly, that was no excuse not to pay attention.

The Children of Time.

The Children of Time.

It hadn't always been that way. Back when he'd been young and grumpy- yes young people were always grumpy, have you ever seen a baby? If they aren't sobbing their heads, they're frowning at the world- companions had just been companions.

He hadn't even wanted the first pair, but Ian and Barbara's discovery of the TARDIS in the Foreman junkyard and his increasing paranoia about being discovered with his borrowed [read: stolen] TARDIS- well he just ended up stealing them as well. His granddaughter Susan's big, compassionate eyes certainly didn't hurt either. No matter how old or young he was, it seemed a sad child would always get the best of him.

But at the time they were all just humans. They were fun for a brief, few years, taking in the sights of the universe, seeing it once again through the virgin eyes of a species that hadn't achieved space travel yet. But he never really got all that upset when one came or went. Oh sure he did get rather attached to a few of them, Sarah Jane being a notable example. And when one of them, oh poor Adric, died on one of their adventures well of course he felt horribly guilty. But there had still been this sort of barrier between them, because each of them would leave as they all eventually did and he would go back to his people on Gallifrey.

Now no one would ever say he fit in on Gallifrey. It was too repressive, too resolute and binding for someone as spontaneous and reckless as he was. It's one reason why in recent years been nostalgically fond of Victorian England, it just had the same feel as his home world only without the flying time machines and the crazy headdresses and the looms.

Actually never mind it's nothing like Victorian England so forget that.

What was he saying again? Oh right. Gallifrey. The Time Lords. He may not have got along with him but they were always there. He could have gone there whenever he wanted to, to breathe in the ruddy smell of the red grass, to catch the most glorious sunrises in all the nine systems, to be among a people and a culture that had a rich, shared history.

Ok so that last bit may have been a bit of a stretch, the only thing that could ever really call him home was his children.

No matter how far or how fast he travelled, he always went back to his home world whenever any one of his children asked. He supposed it defeated the purpose of running away, but after so many months away his hearts would just ache for them. He loved every single one of them, his sons and his daughters, the ones that loved and despised him for his eccentricities, the ones who ran into his arms when he arrived and the ones who hung back with a smile.

Oh how he missed them terribly.

Like his eldest son, that boy tried so hard to be the perfect Gallifreyan stick-in-the-mud. He read all the tomes, attended all the boring classes and meetings and wrote his name in triplicate on all the forms. It really was too bad he was rubbish at it all. Too much of his father in him probably. Oh how he and that boy used to bicker on philosophy and responsibilities; only those closest to them understood the underlying love and respect beneath those barbed words.

He died on a planet far away from his home and even farther away from his father when he came into contact with Chen 7. He was only 230 at the time.

Or his daughter, his kind and beautiful daughter with her feathery blonde hair and sapphire blue eyes who called him 'poppa' and always greeted him with a hug no matter how long he had been away. She was the one who gave him his granddaughter Susan. Some of his fondest memories to this day are of his daughter and granddughter cuddled together on the TARDIS as he regaled them with stories of his adventures across all of time and space.

She was killed at the bitter end of the Time War. He had tried so hard to take her away from Gallifrey, to get her to run away with him like her daughter before her but she refused to leave her beloved planet, the universe itself, to the Daleks. She was shot down in cold blood by those monsters trying to negotiate peace before the war destroyed everything. Her death, the death of his last blood child, is what gave him the courage to finally end the Time War once and for all.

And just like that it was all gone. Gallifrey. The Daleks. His children. All that remained was a mad man and his box. He could give a flying Sontaran about the Daleks or even his own demented people, but his children, the only thing that gave him a semblance of a home were gone forever. And he was devastated. That loss, that horrible never-ending pain just made him bitter and angry and made his dream of travelling the universe seemed so pointless without a family to return home to.

Until he met Rose.

It had been an accident meeting her, he hadn't been looking for anybody, he just wanted to sulk and let his anger burn until it hollowed him out completely. But then all at once he found himself running, really properly running, again. He found the battle against the Autons engaging and exciting for the first time in so very long. And all because some little human reminded him what it was like to be needed. The deal was sealed when he realized just how much she resembled his daughter and the fact that she looked so darn happy to see the universe he had just about given up on.

So amazingly once again the Doctor found himself a father.

Only she didn't quite see it that way.

It was his fault he supposed. He coddled her, took her wherever she wanted to go. He was even going to let her get away with the crazy paradox she created with her dead father. He would have done absolutely anything to keep her safe and happy. He would have been satisfied to die giving her back her life and her future but no, she just had to go and be brilliant and save the world and himself from committing yet another genocide.

How he loved her. Too bad she didn't feel the same sort of love.

He realized all too late her true feelings when he'd been recovering from his latest regeneration in the Tyler home. He'd been mostly unconscious at the time, but he had heard enough of the girls' conversation to realize that Rose believed herself in love with him. As in love-love with him. And that was very extremely not good.

But he was so afraid of losing her. Afraid that if he rejected her misplaced feelings she would leave for good and then he'd have one more lost child on his tally. So he sort of just, let it go. He didn't openly reciprocate her feelings but he didn't exactly deny them either. And that set the standard for companions to come. He'd always been a selfish old man and it was never more clear than when he was with one or more of his companions.

Even once Rose had been trapped in the parallel universe, he had found another human to become an adopted child and then another and the cycle just kept going.

He thought he'd got it right with Martha- he had said after all that that first kiss had meant nothing- but still what a girl! What a doctor she made! He's treated her so poorly, put her through so much. He'd just come back from Rose's departure when he found himself with another curious Earth girl to run with. Only at the very end when the Master enslaved the Earth did the Doctor really, truly appreciate how amazing and wonderful and brilliant she was to turn a whole year around like that with just a thought. She wasn't his daughter and she wasn't Rose, but he loved her anyway.

He discovered it only in time for her to leave.

And to realize that she, like Rose, had fallen in love with him as well.

It was times like these that he really disliked his younger face. Sure he could tell them that he was 907 and loved them like a father or even a grandfather but these silly, amazing, brilliant people just wouldn't believe him.

He and Donna had the easiest time of that. She never looked at him like Rose and Martha had, to her, he was just the Doctor, her own personal Martian ready to show her the universe. He thinks it was all due to Wilfred. Good ole Wilfred Mott. Consciously or not, Donna probably understood that he treated much like her own grandfather did. It was certainly why he and the old soldier got on so well.

In some bizarre and alien way, they shared a granddaughter.

It had hurt so much to lose Donna because she was forever lost to him. He could never see her again for fear of bringing about the Metacrisis in her once again. And though it hurt, hurt more than when Rose became trapped in Pete's World or Martha walked out of the TARDIS for the last time, the Doctor would not, could not lose another one of his children to the Time Lords. So he had to content himself with the fact that Donna would lead a happy and fulfilling life without him, married to the man she deserved. He'd seen his daughters married off before, but this one seemed the hardest of them all.

His children of time, the adopted sons and daughters of Gallifrey though they didn't even know it. Maybe one day they'll get it, one day long after this face and this body have gone- hopefully into an older looking body to avoid future confusion- they might see that those occasional glances spoke of a love deeper than that which they envisioned. And the Doctor knows that it is here on this daft little planet in the middle of nowhere that he will meet his end, defending his new home and his new children.

It's a good life, good enough for an old man like him. So he keeps running because if he stops, if he looks back, he doesn't think he'll be able to move forward again and he can't have that, not when Rose might be transported back any moment or Martha might want a quick adventure away from the family or Donna might need another lottery ticket slipped into her mailbox.

He had too much to do before he died, a father's work, after all, is never done.

This is incredibly random I realize. As with most of my other one-shots, this came about from two or more separate musings which somehow found some common ground and ran from there. I've just re-watched most of New Who neatly rounding off the Tennant era when I was thinking about Davros' comments on the companions being Children of Time in The Stolen Earth and my overall hatred and disgust over 10/Rose. It's just wrong, I'm sorry for those you that ship it, but for me, it's not cool. The Doctor should never be with one of his companions (I'm not a big 11/River shipper either but it's light years better than 10/Rose). I've always sort of gotten this vibe with the Doctor and his companions (other than the blatant Rose fluff which I happy ignored/explained away) I don't know if anyone else thinks this but I think it's nice. The Doctor started out in the '60's as a grandfather and I think it rounds him out that he still acts like one. Might just be me though.

Could've gotten into 11 and his relationship with Amy which is so totally paternal, but I really just liked it being 10 for now. Maybe later if I'm still inspired and people are interested I'll cover it, but for now I've said my piece. Review with your thoughts if you've a moment to spare.

Doctor Who (c) BBC

The deceased son and daughter of the Doctor (c) are mine