Word Count: 7710
Author's Summary: He sees her for the first time. She sees him for the last.
Characters/Pairings: Rose Tyler, Eighth Doctor, Ninth Doctor, Fitz Kreiner, Nine/Rose
Warnings: graphic sex, character death
Recced because: This is a wonderful story that bridges the gap between the end of the Time War and the Doctor meeting Rose. A year after saying "goodbye" to the Doctor at Darlig Ulv Stranden, Rose has started moving on with her life. Then she sees the TARDIS fall from the sky, a casualty of the Time War.
One thing I love about this story is that both Rose and the Doctor are broken, but they're at different steps in the healing process. Rose is slowly putting things back together at this point, while the newly regenerated Ninth Doctor is all but falling apart. Once upon a time, a stranger held out his hand and offered to show Rose the universe; now she finally has a chance to repay him by making certain that he becomes the man that she met in her past and his future.
After his regeneration, the Doctor showed her images of his past incarnations. It had been strange to see them, but oddly comforting, too. Knowing that he could prevent his own death by regenerating had taken a load off her mind. Also, some of his old fashion statements had provided enough material for years of teasing.
The man she sees on the floor is his eighth incarnation. She remembers commenting on how attractive he'd been, and that it was a pity she hadn't met him then, which earned her a worried look from the Doctor until she finally had mercy on him and assured him she was joking.
"Doctor," she says simply, and kneels by him. Is this what's happened to him in the wake of the Time War, then? Has he fallen through time into another universe?
"Do I--do we know each other?" he asks. His voice is raspy, as if he's having trouble breathing.
"Not yet," she says.
"Ah." His eyes search her face with familiar intensity, even though he's obviously weak and wounded. "May I know your name, then?"
"My name is Rose Tyler," she says, "and someday, I'll love you."
Her vision blurs a little, and she blinks away her tears, looking at his face. Pale, almost gray, but noble and beautiful all the same.
"Rose Tyler." His hand lifts a little, and she takes it in both of hers. "Do you know what I've done, Rose?"
She nods. Oh, he never told her, but she had known, even before the Beast said anything. She guessed it after she met her first Dalek. A tear slips down her face.
"I've killed my own people," says the Doctor. "And now . . . now all is silence."
He lets out one more rasping breath, and then he shudders convulsively. His hand tightens on hers until she thinks he'll break her bones, but she doesn't try to pull free. Instead, she tightens her hands, trying to offer him whatever comfort she can.
He arches back, his whole body rippling and blurring, and a terrible groan erupts from his lips. Something's happening, crawling under his skin as he writhes in pain. She bites her lip as his grip on her hand becomes even more painful.
Then it loosens, and her eyes track up to his face.
She smiles gently at what she sees. "There you are."
Don't forget to leave feedback for the author if you enjoy the story.