Summary: On the parallel Earth, the clone Doctor and Rose come to terms with being left behind by the "proper" Doctor. This is a companion piece to my first story "What Becomes of a Lonely Time Lord." You don't have to read that to follow this one, but why would you deny yourself the pleasure.
He was gone. Just like that. No good-byes, no hugs, just...gone. Rose felt movement at her side as a cool hand slipped into her open palm. Her fingers automatically interlocked with his as they looked to each other, neither knowing what to say about what had just happened. Behind them, Jackie watched and waited to see how her daughter would react to being left behind by the Doctor.
Rose stared back at the spot where the TARDIS had once stood. "I can't believe he just...left," she uttered despondently.
"I'm sorry," the man standing beside her offered an apology for the other Doctor's unexpected departure.
Rose looked at him, feeling his hand tighten slightly around hers in a silent gesture of understanding and commitment. She considered pulling her hand away but realized that it would be interpreted as a sign of rejection. It wasn't his fault that her real Doctor had turned tail and ran. She thought at first that it had been because of the kiss. She had kissed this Doctor and the next thing she knew, the TARDIS was dematerializing. It didn't take long to realize that the decision to abandon her had been made well in advance. The Doctor had decided to give her away to his half-human clone without ever asking for her opinion. The clone seemed okay with the decision but at the same time, worried that he would not be welcomed into her life.
Rose glanced down at their joined hands and for lack of anything else to say, softly murmured, "Your hand's kinda cold."
"Sorry," he apologized for the cool touch, but didn't bother to let go. "I don't have the ability to regulate my body temperature like before," he was quick to explain. "But, you know that old saying, 'cold hands, warm heart'."
"Only one heart," said Rose, sounding a bit sad.
"Yeah, but it's much bigger on the inside," the Doctor said with a wide grin.
His smile -- as always -- was infectious and Rose couldn't help but respond with one of her own. He held out his arms in an open invitation and she fell into them for a proper hug. Seeing that her daughter wasn't about to go to pieces over the loss of the other Doctor, Jackie pulled out her phone and made a call to her husband to inform him of their present situation. After a brief explanation of the circumstances, Pete assured her that a taxi would be sent to pick them up and take them to the nearest 5-star hotel. They would simply have to walk the half mile from the beach to the main road. After relaying the news to Rose and the Doctor, Jackie continued her conversation with Pete on the phone, filling him in on all the details of their journey to her old world. As she walked several yards ahead, Rose and the Doctor trailed slowly behind, side-by-side with hands intertwined.
"Why didn't he want us with him?" Rose asked the question which had plagued her mind from the instant she watched the TARDIS disappear.
"You heard him."
"He said you needed looking after, that you were dangerous. But what you did -- destroying the Daleks -- there was no other choice. Was there?"
"I didn't see one. Although, I have to admit, I didn't really take the time to think of any other solutions. I just wanted it over. I mean, they were destroying all of creation. How could I stand by and do nothing? How could he?"
"That Darvos bloke was right then," said Rose, realizing the truth of the matter. "The doctor doesn't have to kill, because he surrounds himself with people who are willing to do it for him. Kill for him and die for him."
"I have never wanted people to kill for me, Rose!" the Doctor defended himself vehemently. "And I've certainly never wanted anyone to die for me."
She looked at him in surprise. "I forget that quick. You're really him, aren't you?"
"I was him," he corrected her. "We've diverged. He's still the Doctor and I'm...not quite the Doctor. I'm someone else now. Something else. I still feel like a Time Lord...a Time Lord without a TARDIS."
"Will you be all right without her?"
"Oh, I'll be right as rain," the Doctor spoke confidently. He had no choice but to pretend. He was missing that special connection with the old girl already. There was an emptiness in both his mind and heart that would most likely never be filled. Maybe I could get a puppy.... Okay, that had to be a Donna thought there.
"And it wasn't because I kissed you," said Rose, talking to herself more than the man next to her.
"Pardon?" the Doctor raised his brow in confusion.
"He'd already decided before he brought us here that he was dumping us both. He just didn't want us on board anymore. Or maybe he just didn't want me."
"No, that's not it," the Doctor jumped in. "Trust me. He...I...we... want you, very much. But the one thing that he...that I...that we...."
"Just say what feels right," Rose suggested. "I'll understand."
"Right. Well...the number one thing that I've always wanted, Rose, is for you to be safe. Unfortunately, I've done a lousy job at keeping you out of harm's way, and it's only been by sheer luck or someone else's quick thinking -- including your own -- that you've managed to survive while traveling with me. Anyway, it's more about keeping you safe than keeping you close. I...he felt that your life would always be in jeopardy as long as you traveled with him, and he couldn't bare the thought of being responsible for getting you killed."
"I can take care of myself. I think I've proven that enough times already."
"Yes, yes you have. And you see, that's the thing. You shouldn't have to. You shouldn't have to always be fighting for your life or running for your life, or losing your face."
"But it should have been my decision, yeah?" Rose raised her voice angrily as she pulled her hand away from his and folded her arms across her chest. "It should have been my choice whether I want to keep running for my life, not his!"
"Oh, so you'd rather have traveled with him a while longer until some alien being or human idiot forces you into a situation where it's either your life or the Doctor's and, of course, you being Rose Tyler, girl hero, would choose to sacrifice yourself to protect the Doctor."
"I love him," Rose's voice cracked with tears threatening to flow. Her steps faltered and she came to a complete stop.
"And he loves you," The Doctor insisted as he moved to stand directly in front of her, placing his hands gently on her arms.
"Then why did he leave me? I thought we had something special. But he just walked away like I meant nothing to him. Is it Donna? Does he like her more?"
"No, Donna was just my best mate. You...you're much more than that to me, and to him. It's not because he doesn't love you. Never ever think that. It took a lot for him to walk away. Believe me, it wasn't an easy thing for him to do."
"Would he have done it if you weren't around?"
"No," the Doctor answered without hesitation.
"So, what, he thought he was doing me a favor? Thought he'd leave a copy of himself with me and I'd be fine with that?"
"He wanted you safe."
"What makes him think I'll be any safer in this world? For all he knows, a Zeppelin could fall from the sky and crash right on top of me."
"But he wouldn't have to watch!" He wished he could have taken the words back immediately, but they were already out there. He let his hands fall away from her as he took a step back.
Rose stared at him hard, but was unable to catch his eyes which were looking everywhere but at her. "So it's that then. Still can't handle watching me grow old, wither and die."
"Except you're jeopardy friendly," the Doctor pointed out while making eye contact again, "and the odds that you'll live long enough to ever grow old are next to nil. Rose, that day back at Torchwood when you lost your grip on the lever and was being sucked into the Void.... That was one of the most terrifying moments of my life. If Pete hadn't popped in and grabbed you...." He shuddered at the memory. "You don't know how often that scene has played back in my mind. And in my nightmares, the outcome is much worse. I've watched so many people die, Rose. So many innocent...." He looked away, unable to finish the thought.
Rose studied his face for a moment, seeing in his wide, dark eyes the depth of his despair. "Back when we were on the Crucible, that Darvos creep was taunting the Doctor about exposing his soul. Not sure what all was going on there, but at one point, the Doctor got this terrible, sad look on his face. Same look that's on yours now." She reached a hand up to caress his cheek. The Doctor closed his eyes momentarily and leaned into her touch.
"Been a bit rough then?"
"Just a bit," the Doctor nodded, then took hold of her hand and kissed it lightly. "I was lost without you, Rose. There were times I didn't want to go on anymore. If it hadn't been for Martha and Donna coming into my life at just the right moment, I don't know what would have become of me. They kept me going. But still, I always thought of you, always wanting you there to hold my hand instead of Martha; wanting to see your wonderful smile instead of Donna's. But then, I would stop and think...well at least she didn't die in the Void. She may not be here with me, but at least she's alive. She's over in that parallel world, making new friends, doing great things, and having a fantastic life."
Rose shook her head in disagreement. "It hasn't been fantastic. How could it be without you here?"
"Quite right," said the Doctor with a ghost of a smile, looking exactly the way he had when he'd said good-bye to her a couple of years earlier.
Rose began toying with the lapel of his jacket. "This blue suit's gonna take a little getting use to."
The doctor shrugged lightly, "Oh, it's not so different from the brown suit. Same basic design and fit, don't you think?"
"But the brown's the one I fell in love with," Rose replied, knowing that neither of them were referring to the suit.
"I thought you fell in love with the black, leather jacket." He saw a look of surprise, then realization fill her eyes as her hand slipped away from his lapel.
"You knew I was in love with you back then?"
"Well, you risked your life for me on numerous occasions, dumped your boyfriend and quite often put me ahead of your own mother. Be kind of hard to miss the clues."
"Why didn't you ever say anything?"
"Oh, nine-hundred-year-old Time Lord, nineteen-year-old Earth girl. Didn't want to be known as that dirty old alien, did I?"
"That the only reason?"
"Well, I was a little terrified," he was reluctant to admit. "What I felt for you scared me because I knew it wasn't normal. Normal for me, that is. Besides, I figured it was just temporary, that it'd fade in time."
"No, just the opposite."
"And he feels the same way?"
"And he still left me," Rose sighed.
The Doctor dug his hands into his pockets and stared down at the sandy ground. "I'm sorry," he apologized.
"What have you got to be sorry about? It's not your fault. None of it. You just came into being a few hours ago."
"I'm sorry you're unhappy with the situation. I suppose it was a bit presumptuous to think that I could just step in and try to take his place. Even though I still think like him and look like him, I'm not him. Like you said, I'm just a copy. I don't even have a TARDIS. Won't be able to take you out there anymore." He nodded towards the sky above. "Which, I suppose goes along with that whole trying to keep you safe rationalization." He sighed dejectedly as his hand rubbed the back of his neck. "No larger than life adventures, no exploring alien planets, no history as it happens, no running for our lives...." He paused to think about that for a second and grimaced. "Blimey, that sounds perfectly boring, doesn't it?"
A tiny smile curved Rose's lips. "Yeah, it does a bit," she said, her spirits lifting as she studied the pouting man in front of her. "I don't know. Maybe we can find a few small adventures to keep us from going mad with boredom."
"Maybe we can," the Doctor smiled. He stepped closer and encouraged by the agreeable look in Rose's eyes, leaned in for a kiss that was unfortunately interrupted by the high-pitched nasally voice of an impatient mother.
"Oi! You two!" Jackie yelled at them from several yards away. "Enough of your dawdling! Come on, we've got a taxi to meet."
The Doctor gave Rose a quick peck on the lips before taking her hand and turning to continue their trek along the beach.
"At least he'll have Donna to keep him company," Rose commented, now a bit more accepting of her other Doctor's decision. "She was really nice. Wish I could have spent more time with her. And Martha, too. Oh, and it was great to see Jack again! You never did say why we couldn't go back for him. I thought that maybe he had died back on the Game Station and you were just afraid to tell me. And then I thought the Daleks had killed him on the Crucible, but it turns out he was just faking it. He's such a character."
That was something he didn't have the courage to tell her, the truth about Jack. But he felt that he needed to tell her. He didn't want to start off a brand new relationship based on lies or secrets. Blimey, that must be the Donna part of his brain kicking in again. Right, he'd tell her. She deserved to know.
"We've got a lot of catching up to do," he said. "A lot to talk about."
"Yeah, I know. I want to hear everything you've been doing. All the places you've gone and the people you've met, and all the lives you've saved."
"What makes you think I saved anyone?"
"It's what you do."
"It's what I try to do. Doesn't always work out."
"You can tell me about it later over a cup of tea."
The Doctor simply nodded. The two of them walked on in silence, both their minds filled with questions to ask, confessions to make and apprehensions about their future together.
end part 1
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