Disclaimer: I do not own Doctor Who. It belongs to the BBC.
I'd like to dedicate this to Bria, who is a fantastic person, author and a constant source of support. Thank you! ^_^
"Doctor," a familiar voice beckoned him, surrounding him left and right. He turned around without a thought and his two hearts froze upon the sight of the person who stood before him.
Blonde hair. Brown eyes. A smirk. Raggedy, torn clothes.
His past. Ever present in his thoughts despite their separation. The one woman who truly made him better.
But how could she be here? How is that even-
"Walk outside," her voice interrupted his shocked thoughts, pulling him back to reality.
"Outside?" he muttered under his breath. How could she even be in his universe? She didn't quite look like Rose, certainly didn't act like her, but she has got to be her. Unless...
"Outside," she said and pranced out of the barn, swinging her hips with the knowledge that he would follow her even if she jumped straight into a fire.
Of course he would follow her. He'd follow that woman to the end of the universe, but he couldn't follow her beyond it.
He wanted to. But he couldn't. It broke his hearts, but he could not follow her. He lost her.
What was this all about?
He left his temporary companions: his other two incarnations, the one he never admitted to and the other Doctor, together with Clara and snuck out of the barn in which The Moment was kept.
Could it be that she was a mirage? A product of his lonely imagination, the result of many thoughts from the past returning to him in full force, a breathtaking, lush oasis in the middle of a dry desert? His own mind coming to his rescue, trying to soften the guilt he has never quite managed to bury?
"Questions. Questions! I see them. Feel them! You have questions!" she exclaimed with a strange grin, and that was when it hit him. The woman before him, whoever she was, she couldn't be Rose. His superior eyesight noted the slight changes, no, not in clothing or hairstyle; things that were much more subtle. A slightly misplaced beauty mark, a different glimmer in her eye, that unnatural smile, the attitude. There could never be a perfect copy of Rose Tyler. There could only be one Rose.
"Who are you? What have you done to Rose?" he demanded quietly in his most dangerous, although subdued voice. He did not wish for company during this particular conversation. He wouldn't want to share Rose, not even with his other self.
Funny, that. He left her with himself, with the man who was also the Doctor, he left her back on Bad Wolf Bay with him, yet now when it came to seeing her again, he didn't wish to share.
This was between the two of them, whoever she was.
Her eyes turned golden as a teasing smile played on her face and they both said it at the same time,
"Bad Wolf. Bad, bad, bad wolf!"
The Doctor gasped. Rose as the Bad Wolf has already saved his life once before. Why was she here now? How could she be here now? Of course, the Bad Wolf was timeless, but that couldn't be it. No... No, the energy that came from her was of a different kind; it was an intangible difference, but he still took note of it.
"No, you're not," he took a chance and stated what seemed to be a fact. This wasn't Rose, this wasn't the Bad Wolf. This was somebody else entirely. Yet she looked so much like his Rose that standing next to her like this was increasingly painful and he found himself wanting to escape.
He never quite stopped lo-...
"No, I'm not!" she agreed, "I'm the Interface. The Moment. I chose this form especially for you, but my Doctor didn't recognize it. Wrong timeline. Always getting those mixed up."
"He is not the Doctor," he corrected, his expression cold as ice in a struggle to cover his emotional turmoil.
He would have given anything just to see her again. Anything at all. And now, there she was. But she wasn't her, she was a doppleganger, she borrowed Rose's body for something that was essentially just a program. A very advanced security measure for the most deadly weapon in the universe. And that weapon, that weapon was now his Rose.
"He is. So are you. You remember her, don't you? You know her."
She tossed her hair back with an inquisitive smile, but she became serious upon seeing the hurt in his eyes.
He looked away from her, quite unable to bear looking at Rose's body without being able to truly see his old companion.
"I remember. Of course I remember. How could I forget?" he chokes out after a moment and silence falls between the two of them as he thinks about the past. The days spent with Rose.
Run!, he said, starting the greatest adventure he has ever taken part of. Through laughter and tears and mystery and danger and adventure, Rose Tyler became the very center of his own little universe, up until that bubble of happiness of theirs was shattered and he lost her forever.
And then - and then he thought he might have gotten her back, but the creation of the metacrisis left him with no choice. He gave that man his everything - he gave him the love from his hearts, the memories from his soul, the future he never could have had.
And he left, but he yearned for her. Oh, he yearned for her across the dimensions, but what could he have done? He lived as she would have wished him to, her memory fresh in his mind. And now, The Moment chose her of all the people he's ever known to torture him with. Why didn't the other Doctor see her?
"He might. He will. He is." The Moment said as if reading his thoughts.
The Doctor frowned as he studied her along with all the questions that lingered on his mind.
What he failed to notice was that the door leading out of the barn was slightly open; just enough for the other Doctor to peer through. The Time Lord's hearts nearly stopped upon seeing his other incarnation talking to Rose. The Moment turned her eyes towards him, and in them, he saw the truth. She wasn't Rose, but he wouldn't interfere.
He knew that the man who spoke to her, although he essentially was him, needed to be alone. They were linked, different regenerations or not, they were still the same man.
Just as the metacrisis had been. The half-human Doctor.
With a sigh of defeat, the other Doctor withdrew and returned to the others.
"How did you do that?" he finally asked, "Why her?"
"It was the one person you wanted to see. Isn't that right, Doctor?"
Eyes drifting to the floor, he finally nodded.
"And-ooh, she is special," The Moment said, "And you were special too. You are. I know her. I am her. I know her memories."
"Do you know where she is? Display information on the interface target," he uttered and The Moment's eyes once again began to glow.
"Rose Tyler. Parallel universe. Lost during the Battle of Canary Wharf, Earth, 2006. Current age: twenty-six. Current occupation-"
No, this wasn't a good idea, he realized. He couldn't bear to hear it.
"Stop. Just- just stop."
It was unbearable. He longed for this, needed this for so very long, but now that he could know, he no longer wanted to. He didn't wish to hear about the years he had given to the metacrisis Doctor. He wanted Rose to be happy, more than anything, but the pain was acute, regardless of the years that passed between the last time he'd seen her and now.
"Denied. Cancellation impossible." The Moment said in a somewhat robotic voice that was devoid of all emotion.
The Doctor grabbed her wrist and felt her bare skin underneath his fingers; so familiar, yet so wrong. No interface could ever copy the lively beauty of Rose Tyler. No one could ever even come close.
"I don't want to know. I don't need to. It's in the past."
"Denied. Occupation: senior specialist in extraterrestrial life at the Torchwood Institute. Address..."
The Doctor let go of her wrist and then leaned against the door, fighting his own memories. His Rose, she made her way through life. What about him? What about the man who had everything? The metacrisis? The half-human?
"Confirmed. Rose Tyler-Noble, married to John Noble on..."
He didn't hear the date. Married. Married. Married.
Everything he never could have had, this metacrisis Doctor had it all now. A burning sensation of bitterness settled inside his hearts, but it was much too late to go back. He would have to see this through to the end.
"How do you know?"
"She remains. Your spaceship, she preserved the human girl. The essence of the Bad Wolf. I could communicate, I could take this form. Brief. Effective."
"And why did you approach me?" he asked wearily.
"You needed me to."
"You did," The Moment argued, then went back to information mode.
"No," he protested, finally gathering the courage to face her fully, "I don't want information. Talking. Talking is better. Talking, yes, conversation! Humans love conversation, always chatting their gobs off, that's the lot."
"But you're not human."
"Oh, but you are," The Moment said with a smile, "She taught you."
Of all the bizarre conversations the Doctor has ever had, this one took the cake, but he did not feel puzzled at the strange twists and turns in their exchange. He felt sorrow and pride and happiness and pain at the sight of the face he loved the most in all the galaxies and the tiny bits of information he would never obtain if not for this timeless interface that could reach across the universes; he felt all that and although it hurt, he wanted to know.
"Do they travel?" he finally gave in and asked, marking the beginning of the many questions he wanted to know the answer to.
"They do. Your spaceship, it is ready. They travel."
He finally smiled. The Doctor, in the TARDIS, with Rose Tyler. Just as it should be.
"Do they have any... Any..."
"Offspring? Yes. One, male, two years of age. Half Time Lord."
The Doctor could almost see it before his eyes - himself, Rose and a little boy. Brown eyes, ash blonde hair, clever, kind. The perfect combination of him and Rose.
"What is his name?"
"John. But his parents also call him..." The Moment trailed off, looking into the Doctor's eyes until a hint of comprehension appeared in the two pools of brown. The boy's parents called the boy by the Doctor's real name. A tribute, undoubtedly, one that only the three of them would ever know of and understand.
A lone tear appeared in his eye, but he quickly brushed it away.
He asked a few more questions. What they did, how they lived, how the human version of him adapted to the situation. And then, when there was no more time and no more questions to ask, he choked out the one that mattered the most.
"Is she happy? Rose. Is she happy?"
The Moment fell silent, looking into the Doctor's eyes with a kindness not very different from the one he always saw in his beloved companion.
"She is. They are both very happy, Doctor. But she misses you," The Moment finally replied.
"She's got him. Why would she miss me?" he asked bitterly. He missed her everyday, but he didn't want her to miss him. She's got a life, his Rose, a life he could never have...
"The man is you, Doctor, but so are you. You are both. She loves you both."
A strange feeling of happiness and regret choked him, rendering him unable to speak. He looked away again, ready to rejoin the others and never open this part of his hearts again, seal it off as he long ago should have done.
"I have power," she said before he had the chance to leave, "Power to reach out. To send a message. Before I go, before I'm gone, I could... I could do it for you."
He froze in his steps. One last goodbye to Rose. His last words. He could even say what he never managed to say to her before, he could say I love you, knowing that she would never hear from him again.
It was tempting. So very tempting.
"No," he said, not turning around to look at The Moment, his hand on the door, "No. It's done. I can't... I can't do this to her. You... You broke me and mended me and... And I can't... No. Rose is happy. He is happy. Just as it should be."
She nodded, the visage of the woman he loved, the voice of reason of the man he once was but never wanted to be.
He locked his hearts and threw away the key. He told himself that this chapter was now over, he got his final closure, his final goodbye.
He told himself all that, repeatedly, chanting it as if trying to make himself believe the words.
But, despite all of his attempts, he never forgot Rose Tyler.
A/N: A little spin-off from The Day of the Doctor. I wrote it with Ten in mind, but I believe it can also work with Eleven, so choose your favorite Doctor. :) Thank you for reading this, and feedback is always appreciated!
Also, if you follow my current story, I apologize for the nearly two week delay in updating. The next chapter is almost done and should be posted tomorrow!