Setting: After 2.06 Age of Steel for Rose. Season 3 for the Doctor.
Summary: A chance meeting leads to heartbreak. There’s a reason Timelines should not be crossed.
Characters: Ten, Rose and a yet un-named companion.
Disclaimer: They ain't mine. All the playthings of RTD and the BBC.
WARNING: Spoilers, based on recent press releases, for the end of season 2.
Such a simple question. Such a familiar voice.
Just one problem – she shouldn’t be there.
The Doctor swallows and turns round. Just as she was when he first saw her. That blonde hair shining, the look in her eyes showing the questing intelligence and the sheer passion for life buried inside her.
“Rose Tyler,” he says, his voice somehow not breaking, “Why didn’t I remember this?”
His companion jumps beside him, and turns round just as slowly. “Oh god,” she says, “I… I can’t handle this.” She clutches onto the edge of their Tardis door as if needing the strength before throwing herself inside, casting him one last look of pain.
And it’s just him and the girl he once knew in the dark, chill air of the night. There’s a separate, deeper chill in his bones that has nothing to do with the local atmosphere.
But all his attention is on the girl before him, her gait unsteady, her once bright eyes dullened from all the tears cried and the alcohol consumed. The empty bottle still in her grasp as she stares at him. And then he remembers the last time the two of them had visited this planet.
“Mickey’s gone,” she says, staring up at him, those wide eyes begging for him to make it stop. “Tell me he’s gonna be okay. Tell me that it was the right thing.”
They’d just come back from the parallel earth with the Cybermen. He’d thought a nice trip to Arkyon 5 and a few drinks would help. Arkyon 5 – such a great place to visit, always open, always everything available (even Tardis parts) and always with a surprise around every corner.
So stupid not to have looked closely at their time/space co-ords, but all he’d wanted back then was to take that look from Rose’s face. And he remembers how he lost her. Lost his Rose into the dark night and how he’d searched the streets, desperate to find her. And she’d been curled up asleep on that bench all the time.
That bench right over there.
“Tell me everything’s gonna be fine, Doctor.”
How can he? How can he tell her that after Torchwood Tower?
“Tell me it gets better than this, Doctor,” she says and buries her head against his chest. He just holds her, feeling her shaking sobs against him. The empty bottle drops to the floor unheeded by either of them.
And somehow, for once in this incarnation of his, he has no words.
The universe has given him one last chance to hold Rose like he never did before.
He’s going to hold her now.
Now and for the rest of the night if needs be, until she falls asleep in his arms.
And then he’s going to quietly leave her on that bench over there, and time will sigh and slip happily into the track it was always meant to take.
And he hates that he has to do this – leave her once more, knowing what’s coming.
And he loves that he gets to do this – hold her once more, despite knowing what’s coming.
She doesn’t know what pain, hurt and suffering is yet to come for her. He’s been through it already. This is what it feels like when both hearts break.
“Everything will be fine, Rose,” he lies.