Oct. 20th, 2011

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“So, you're not him.” It was an innocent enough question, and Rose wrapped her arms around her legs as she asked, staring out toward the water. The Doctor sitting next to her shook his head.

“Nope. Well, yes, but at the same time, a great, big, resounding no.” He rubbed at the back of his hair, ruffling it in a manner so familiar, it almost undid the gravity of his answer. She rested her chin on her knees and glanced over at him.

“I don't understand. You look the same, you mentioned Canary Wharf-”

“All of that did happen to me, Rose. I'm sure it happened to a hundred versions of me, and it was probably all pretty similar. And there are versions of me where it never happened at all, or versions of you that never met me, or places like this universe, where I never existed. Infinite number of universes, infinite number of possibilities.” He tilted his head, watching a ship glide across the open water.

“But when you- he- the last time he was here, he said-”

“He was wrong. Not impossible, happens from time to time. Probably thought the walls were sealed up, as well. Just because they are on his side doesn't mean there isn't damage on your side, or the rest of them, either.” He shoved off the bench, wandering out toward the place where the sidewalk met safety rail, and leaned against it.

She stayed seated for a few moments longer, watching him, a question rolling around in her mouth.

“Aren't you going to ask me?” He spoke up without looking at her.

“Ask you what?”

“If I'll take you back to him.” Damn. Different version of him, and he still knew her. It was... painful.

“Will you?”

He turned to face her, crossing his arms across his chest.

“No.”

Her brow furrowed, and a frown instantly tugged at her lips. She let her legs drop, and shoved off the bench herself. “Why not?”

He didn't answer, but something in his eyes... they flicked away from her face, but it was too late. She'd seen the pain, touching just at the corners.

“Doctor...” He stiffened, then relaxed. “What happened to your Rose?”

He lowered his eyes, and his arms, and his fingers curled around the railing. He didn't answer, at first, not for a long time, but Rose knew to wait. He might've been different, but really, he was the same.

He made a noise, the short, casual intake of breath, and said simply... “She fell.”

It took Rose a minute to catch on, and when she did... oh.

“Into the void. She lost her grip, and fell into Hell. And the walls closed around her. Trapped there. A second, a minute, a year, it doesn't matter. She'd've gone mad.” He closed his eyes. “And it was my fault.”

Rose didn't think. Didn't stop to consider that she might have been hurting the situation more than helping it. She strode forward, wrapping her arms around his middle, pressing her head to his chest. For a long time, he didn't move. And then he did, he curled around her, gripping her, pressing his face into her hair. He didn't make any noise, but she felt something warm, something wet, and she squeezed her eyes shut.

It was over instantly. He broke away, separating himself from her, striding down the sidewalk by a few yards. His hands in his pockets. His stance stiff.

“I'll help you.” He didn't sound like a man that'd just been crying. He didn't sound like a man in pain. He sounded like a man who had nothing else.

He strode forward, and didn't turn to make sure she followed.

She did.

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Rose Tyler

November 2015

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