aibhinn_fics: (DW Nine plus one)
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Title: Learning to Love
Author: [livejournal.com profile] aibhinn
Rating: All Ages
Pairing: Nine/Rose
Summary: This twenty-first century shop girl, barely into adulthood even by her own culture's standards, has given him something he never thought he'd have again: a reason to continue on. Joy in simply being alive. The courage to allow himself to love.
Author’s Note: Written for round 1.03 of [livejournal.com profile] writerinatardis. Prompt: Rose teaches the Doctor something.


She stands by the window, this human child, staring out at the burning remains of her planet. Chunks of rock bounce occasionally off the protective shields, but she doesn't even flinch. She just stands there, transfixed by the death of all she's ever known.

At that moment, he feels closer to her than he ever thought he could . . . and he could kick himself for having brought her to this, of all things.

He makes it better, of course: takes her home, lets her ground herself in the knowledge that everything she knows and loves isn't really lost. And then it slips out: the death of his world, the war and its aftermath. He manages to keep himself from saying more, saying the name that he hasn't allowed to pass his lips since his regeneration, but it's a near thing. And when he asks her if she's sure she wants to go with him, he all but holds his breath. He won't let himself influence her decision, but in the back of his mind, a little voice is begging, Please, please, say you'll stay—please say you'll stay—

She doesn't, but she does drag him off to a chippy. And when she steals part of his portion, replying to his protest with an arch reminder that she'd been the one to pay, he allows himself to believe that she'll really be going back to the TARDIS with him after all.

***

The Earth has been saved again; the Slitheen have been destroyed, along with 10 Downing Street; Harriet Jones is well on her way to becoming the Prime Minister who will inaugurate Britain's Golden Age.

And Rose is at her mother's.

He putters round the console room, trying not to think about what he's done. Jackie's going to want Rose to stay, and no wonder; thanks to his carelessness, Rose disappeared for a year in her mother's timeline. After a full year of not knowing whether her daughter was dead or alive, there's no way Jackie will let her go without a fight. And guilty as Rose feels over having caused her mum so much worry, he's terrified she'll give in.

He couldn't blame her if she did.

But oh, he wants her to stay.

He castigates himself as he takes up the floor grating and gets down beneath to perform some not-really-necessary maintenance. It should be Rose's choice, not his. Her mum has a right to know that her daughter's safe. If Rose wants to stay here, he can't prevent her. He shouldn't try.

His mind flickers back to Rose, when they'd first landed in what he'd thought was Naples. "Better with two," she'd said, with that grin that did terrible things to his heart. She'd meant it then. Did she still mean it? Was having a missile shot at her enough for her to lose her nerve?

He imagined it: dematerialising alone, leaving her behind to live out her ordinary human life with her mum and her idiot boyfriend. Travelling alone, randomly, trying to find something to keep his interest. No longer having anyone to whom he could show the wonders of the universe. No longer having anyone through whose eyes he could see those wonders anew.

He's shocked by how excruciating the pain of that thought is. He stops, leans against a bulkhead, closes his eyes. It's wrong to try to persuade her. He knows it's wrong. But he can't just let her go—not without a fight of his own.

He pulls himself up onto the main floor, replaces the grating, and makes a call.

***

"I wouldn't have missed it for the world."

"Exterminate!"


The metallic sound of the Dalek's laser will ring in his ears for eternity. Rose is dead—and it was he who killed her, he who locked her in with the deadliest creature in the universe. There's a gaping, Rose-shaped hole between his hearts, and it feels as though he's bleeding into it, bleeding to death with the pain of her loss. How could she, this little human child, have become so important to him, so vital to his life?

And more importantly, how does he learn to live without her?

When the Dalek contacts them again, it's the first and only time the Doctor has ever been happy to hear that sharp, mechanical voice. Seeing Rose standing there, unharmed if terrified, is enough to make him do what he swore he never would: release a Dalek into the light of day.

Twenty minutes later, with his face buried desperately in the crook of Rose's neck and her arms tight around him, he realises the Dalek isn't the only one her compassion has changed.

***

Jack is dead—he felt and heard his friend die, felt each one of the human deaths on board this satellite. And now he faces death as well—final death, the sort he won't regenerate from; the Dalek laser bypasses regeneration. At last, at long last, he'll be able to rest—dead, like his planet, like his people, like his children and grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

But not Rose. He saved her, at least—took her back to her home where she'll be safe from the carnage here. She'll be able to create a fantastic life for herself; he knows her well enough for that. She'll mourn, and she'll move on, and that's all he can ask.

And then, horrifyingly, she's back, stepping out of the TARDIS and glowing like a goddess. But not just her—the heart of the TARDIS, the whole of the Vortex, is inside her head. It's spilling out through her eyes and her skin, leaching through her pores and enveloping her like a halo.

"I want you safe. My Doctor. Protected from the false God."

Oh, no. No, no, no. No, she won't sacrifice herself for him. Not again. Not when he can stop her.

But before he can move, she's brought Jack back to life and destroyed the Daleks utterly, turned them to dust with a thought. The end of the Time War, at the hands of this astonishing, brilliant human woman.

"I can see everything. All that is . . . all that was . . . all that ever could be."

Her words leave him stunned. Once, long ago, on their first trip together to the end of the world, he watched her and thought he knew what she felt. Now—now she knows what he feels, every moment of every day.

And he knows what he must do.

With a tender kiss, the sort he's been aching to give her for so long, he pulls the Vortex from her, gives it back to the TARDIS where it belongs. Quickly, he lifts her into his arms and takes her inside as well, laying her delicately down on the grating before he sends the ship into the Vortex.

He doesn't have much time now. He can feel the beginnings of it: the odd, disorienting feeling of his cells starting to pull apart, of his DNA beginning to recombine. He can hold it off for a little bit, but not for long.

Rose Tyler, he thinks, filled with a sense of awe. This twenty-first century shop girl, barely into adulthood even by her own culture's standards, has given him something he never thought he'd have again: a reason to continue on. Joy in simply being alive. The courage to allow himself to love.

He can't tell her how he feels—but she's taught him how to show it without having to say a word. With his new body, he vows, that's exactly what he'll do, every minute of every day, for as long as he has her.

Rose Tyler, he thinks as she begins to stir, I love you.

Date: 2009-01-05 02:14 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] wendymr.livejournal.com
Ooh! I suspected this was yours! And you won! Congratulations :) Well deserved. I voted for it, and if you request your feedback you might even guess which is mine ;)

I absolutely loved this. It does remind me a little of [livejournal.com profile] honorh's A Life Fantastic, though only in that it's a similar 'epic' journey through Nine's life. It's very distinct, though, and I can definitely see that learning to love again come through in what we see on-screen, just as you show us here. A well-deserved win!

Date: 2009-01-09 03:06 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] aibhinn.livejournal.com
Thank you so much! Sorry it's taken me so long to get back to you; jury duty's eaten my brain this week. *hugs* I'm so pleased you enjoyed it so much!

Date: 2009-01-05 03:38 am (UTC)
glory_jean: (Default)
From: [personal profile] glory_jean
Oh, that's lovely.

Date: 2009-01-09 03:07 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] aibhinn.livejournal.com
Thank you so much! :)

Date: 2009-01-05 03:41 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] dameruth.livejournal.com
Hey, it won! The peanut gallery did agree with me! :D

Date: 2009-01-09 03:07 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] aibhinn.livejournal.com
Hee! Apparently they did. :) Thanks for your help!

Date: 2009-01-05 03:45 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] angel932.livejournal.com
Wow - it really touched my heart,

Nine/Rose is an unbeatable combination!

Date: 2009-01-09 03:07 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] aibhinn.livejournal.com
Oh, I'm so pleased it did. Thank you!

Date: 2009-01-05 04:21 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] lindenharp.livejournal.com
Beautifully done.

Date: 2009-01-09 03:08 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] aibhinn.livejournal.com
Thank you so much! :)

Date: 2009-01-05 05:19 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] thatlibrarylady.livejournal.com
This was beautiful and very touching.

Date: 2009-01-09 03:08 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] aibhinn.livejournal.com
Thank you! I'm so pleased you enjoyed it.

Date: 2009-01-05 08:34 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] solarflar3.livejournal.com
Beautiful.

Date: 2009-01-09 03:08 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] aibhinn.livejournal.com
Thank you! :D

Date: 2009-01-06 02:17 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] kb91.livejournal.com
Gorgeous story, full of life and tenderness and love. Great job!

Date: 2009-01-09 03:08 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] aibhinn.livejournal.com
Thank you so much! :)
From: [identity profile] acciochocolate.livejournal.com
Very lovely! Your story has made me tear up with sadness but yet also with joy. Paradoxical? Perhaps, perhaps not.

Date: 2009-03-12 02:44 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] anogete.livejournal.com
This was beautiful! I think you really captured the Doctor's voice and his loneliness so well.

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