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Far Flung Hopes and Impossible Dreams

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Chapter 1

There was a flash of light and a sound like a Tesla coil. Rose Tyler hit the ground crouching; feet braced, a large weapon slung across her blue leather-clad chest, her blonde hair falling forward into her face. She straightened and did a rapid assessment of her surroundings. She was on what appeared to be a fairly normal 21st century London street, outside a row of townhomes. She did a quick 360 and let out a huff of shocked breath. Behind her, clear as day, was the TARDIS.

“Hello,” she murmured, a grin stretching her face. Swinging her weapon around to rest across her back and pushing her hair out of her eyes, she stepped toward the beautiful blue box, her hand outstretched. All awareness of her surroundings had zoomed in to this one thing; this gorgeous wooden structure that held all of her hopes and dreams. It looked different, somehow. A brighter blue. In some corner of her mind, Rose hoped that she wasn’t too early; that she wasn’t finding a Doctor who wouldn’t know her yet and wouldn’t know to trust her. The majority of her focus, however, was on her fingertips gently stroking the ship’s exterior, basking in the warm hum of the sentient ship returning her greeting. “Oh, I missed you, girl,” Rose breathed, pressing her hand flat to the ship’s side.

Behind her, a door closed on a chorus of “bye for now” and “don’t be a stranger!”s. Rose ignored it, absorbed in her reunion with her ancient friend. That is, she ignored it until a voice suddenly sounded, much closer to her and sounding extremely annoyed.

“Oi!” it shouted. “Hands off my ship!” The accent was unfamiliar, but the tone was unmistakable. Rose’s heart leaped as she whipped around to see a tall, gangly man in a tweed jacket, a burgundy bow tie, and too-short trousers striding toward her purposefully. As his eyes found her face, however, he came to an abrupt halt, face slackening in shock. “...Rose?” he whispered.

Rose’s grin grew wide enough to split her face. Even in this new body, she knew him. She would always know him. Slipping the gun from her back so that it wouldn’t encumber her and letting it clatter to the pavement, Rose quickly closing the few meters left separating them and threw herself into the Doctor’s embrace. His thin, strong arms closed automatically around her, clasping her to him tightly enough to hurt. She didn’t mind in the slightest, clinging to him just at hard. “Rose,” he gasped again, rocking her, burying his face in her hair. “Oh, my Rose.”

Rose grinned into his chest at the possessive used in conjunction with her name. “My Doctor,” she answered, feeling happy tears beginning to coalesce in the corners of her eyes. “I’m home,” she told him, sniffling, “I made it back to you.” Pulling back from their embrace slightly, she wrapped one hand behind his neck and tugged him down toward her, raising up on her toes to help close the distance between their faces. Following the guidance of her warm palm, the Doctor leaned down to meet her, their lips finally joining in a hard, desperate kiss. The Doctor’s hands released from her torso to twine into her hair, pulling her closer to him. Her lips parted beneath his and his tongue eagerly darted forward to meet hers.

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This wasn’t possible. He knew this wasn’t possible. But it was Rose — his wonderful, brilliant Rose — and he hadn’t seen her in centuries, and he just couldn’t bring himself to care what was possible right now. He moaned into her mouth as their tongues twined, and then pulled back, only to surge forward to meet her again. He was kissing Rose Tyler, and he couldn’t get enough. Every atom of his body screamed for them to be closer, to never be parted from her, for more, more, more. Finally, with a groan, he disconnected their mouths with a last, lingering kiss and rested his forehead against hers. He knew he couldn’t delay the inevitable.

“Rose,” he breathed. “Why are you here? How are you here?”

Rose breathed out through her nose. “The how is… sort of complicated,” she demurred. “But as for the why…” she looked up, meeting his eyes. A shadow lingered behind her brilliant whiskey irises, and the Doctor noticed that she looked tired; very, very tired. “Doctor, the stars are going out.”

The Doctor jerked back from her in shock. His eyes travelled up and down her body, taking in details that he hadn’t at first absorbed in their desperate reunion. Her outfit. Her stupid, stupid outfit. It was burned into his memory, that outfit. Blue leather jacket, pink shirt, black trousers. The last thing he’d ever seen her in. His face went blank and he closed his eyes against the pain of realization, trying desperately to shield her from the despair that had suddenly washed over him, drowning out his momentary elation. Of course. He should have known right away. He opened his eyes again and met hers, which were now full of confusion and concern.

“Doctor?” she asked hesitantly.

“Oh Rose, I’m sorry,” the Doctor told her, his voice sad, “but your journey isn’t quite over yet.” He gave her a sympathetic half smile, burying his own pain, trying to reassure her. He pushed open the door to the TARDIS quietly. “I think you had better come in.”

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The Doctor leaned against the console and watched Rose as she walked slowly around the room, running her fingers over the TARDIS’s walls. “She looks so… different,” she finally said.

“Good different, or bad different?” the Doctor asked with a slight smile. Rose looked over her shoulder at him and returned his smile.

“Just different,” she responded, as she always had; as she always would. “I didn’t know she could change like this.”

“Yes, well,” the Doctor said, shifting uncomfortably. “Had a bit of a rough regeneration; the old girl took the brunt of it I’m afraid. While she was fixing herself up, she thought she’d try something new.” Rose bit her lip and nodded. They lapsed into silence. The Doctor could feel time ticking by, but he couldn’t bring himself to tell her the disappointing truth. Or more truthfully, perhaps, he couldn’t bring himself to give her the information she needed to leave him alone again.

“Doctor, what did you mean, my journey’s not over?” Rose finally asked, taking the decision away from him. The Doctor sighed.

“I’m afraid you got the timing of your jump a bit wrong,” he confessed, eyes downcast. “I’ve done this bit already.”

“You’ve done… you mean, I found you?”

The Doctor nodded, still not meeting her eyes.

“And we did it? We stopped the stars going out? I mean we must’ve done, you’re here, so we must’ve…”

The Doctor nodded again. Rose tilted her head to the side.

“I don’t understand,” she admitted. “If I already made it back, and we already saved the world, why were you so surprised to see me? Why…” she trailed off, and then started over. “Doctor, if I made it back, where am I?”

The Doctor finally raised his eyes to hers, and they were full of pain.

“That was a very long time ago, Rose Tyler,” he said softly. “It’s been over 200 years for me since you first told me that the stars were going out.”

Rose narrowed her eyes at him, perplexed. “What’s that got to do with anything?”

Now it was the Doctor’s turn to be confused. “‘What’s that got to do with anything?’ Two HUNDRED YEARS, Rose.”

“Yeah, and? ‘S not like I’m aging, so what’s time got to do with anything? Unless… did we… did we fall out, or something? Did you leave me behind?” her eyes grew worried and she bit her lip, obviously distressed. “I worked so hard to come back, I can’t imagine I’d have left you, so you must have left me. Did I… was it the regeneration? Did this you not want me?” The look on her face was heartbreaking. The look on the Doctor’s face was pure shock. There was so much wrong with what she had just said, but he focused in on what felt like the most salient point.

“What do you mean ‘not aging’?”

“What… Doctor, you must know this. If I made it back, you must know this!”

“Know what? Rose, what happened to you?”

“Bad Wolf, Doctor! I must have told you! It was part of why I knew I had to get back to you; I promised you forever, and now I have it! Why would you not know that?” Her voice was rising; her tone increasingly desperate. The Doctor looked at her with wide, despairing eyes as realization crashed around him. Rose covered her mouth with her hands. “Oh god, Doctor,” she whispered. “What did you do?”

Wordlessly, the Doctor went to her and wrapped her once again in his arms. Rose, her body stiff, clenched her fists against his chest. “You didn’t ask, did you?” she accused, her voice tearful. “You made some stupid, self sacrificing decision that you told yourself was for my own good, and you didn’t ask. Again. Didn’t you?”

“I made a mistake, Rose,” he told her. “A terrible, terrible mistake. And I’m so very, very sorry.” Squeezing her tight, he breathed in the scent of her hair, not allowing himself to pull back and see the betrayal in her face. “But I’m going to fix it,” he continued, his voice determined. “Now that I know, I swear to you, I’m going to fix it. I will find a way to get you back. Do you believe me?” There was a pause, and then he felt Rose nod against his chest. “Good,” he sighed, kissing the top of her head and releasing her. Rose stepped back and wiped tears from her face, trying to pull herself together. The emotional rollercoaster of the past hour, in conjunction with the tension of the dimension cannon project, had her very near her breaking point. The Doctor could tell, but he forced himself to ignore it, knowing what had to happen now.

“It’s time for you to go, Rose Tyler,” the Doctor told her in a faux cheerful voice as he spun away from her and toward the console. “I’ve got loads of work to do, and you’ve got a universe to save. Several, in fact. But I promise you, I will see you again very, very soon.” He met her eyes, wordlessly begging her to believe him; to trust in him so that he could trust in himself.

Rose hesitated, but then nodded and gave a half smile to the man whose false bravery she could see right through, just as she’d always been about to. “Not if I see you first,” she told him before pressing a button on her wrist. In a flash of light, she was gone.