“I love you”
The words came out, strangled, more like a force of emotion than a string of words. Tears streamed down Rose’s face, and briefly she was glad she’d put on the waterproof mascara this time. The wind blew her hair around, and she used it as a reason to wipe of her tears with the cloth covering the back of her hands. Soft, yet rough, warm but touched by the bitter cold of the air.
The Doctor looked at her, his eyes sad yet comforting, eyebrows knitted in protection from the perceived environment, barriers against the wind, shields against the feelings threatening to poor out from him. A thousand and one comebacks came to mind, arrogant ones, self deprecating ones, cheerful ones. But all of them comebacks and none of them really what he wanted to say.
And time – time was precious, even to its Lord.
“If this is the last chance I’ll have to say this, the last chance that we’ll have. Rose Tyler, I love you.”
The words were carried through the air, away on the wind. Wound their way into and around Rose’s hair and past, the wind carrying their voices to the bystanders standing by the parked jeep. A small smile appeared on Rose’s face, oh so bittersweet, as she stared back at him, questions in her eyes.
“Just… that you? That came out wrong, I mean…”
“I know. The me you met first, the me you see, every me that comes after. You know me, I don’t tell everyone, but I never forget.”
Quick flashes of Sarah Jane flashed through their minds, running through corridors with different men, the same man, aliens and monsters at their heels. Companions meeting, fighting, laughing. A young Scottish lad, a blond haired Time Lady, a feisty teenager with a fondness for explosives, a young woman with golden eyes saving the world with more power than she could handle.
“I know you don’t." Rose smiled, raising her hand to cover The Doctor’s cheek, the memory of his skin playing under her palm. “I know.”
And though they didn’t say the words again, though their lips spilled forth no new secrets, if there were any to say now at the end of their own bubble world, their eyes told all there was to say. Their faces showed stories, feelings and hopes in a silent reading that only the wind heard. And as quick and unexpectedly as the Doctor had first appeared, he faded from view. Gone. Forever.
Never to return.
A pain stabbed Rose in the stomach and she almost bent over from the shock of it, sobbing, hands flying to her face to try and deny the reality that her mind told her was real. A distance away her mother saw this and knew, knew that her daughter was in pain. That she and the man she’d come to think of as a sort of son-in-law were separated, and she’d feel sorry for him later.
Her daughter was in pain.
Arms flung around familiar bodies, and Rose’s blond head tucked itself safely into the shoulder of her mother, tears coming faster than before, body heaving, being comforted by Jackie. It was horrible, it was draining and something you never wanted to go through, but it was healing.
At least he wasn’t dead, and at least she wasn’t alone. Not completely.
As time went by Rose Tyler, defender of the Earth, moved on in her life. She was close to her family; she was Mickey’s ‘best man’ when he married Jake years on down the line. She looked after her little brother John and taught him about stars, and told him stories about the worlds and people out there. She dreamt at night of another life, in another world with the man she’d always love, and would never forget. Even when she moved on, there was always a place for him there.
And when, decades and decades later, surrounded by family and her friends she finally died, the last words she heard were three little ones, three comforting words, in a voice last heard in a cold and windy beach.