Part I - A moment in Time
One tiny moment — a time blip; it was all he wished for. To see Rose again. Just a glimpse in time, to make sure she was all right in the parallel world. To see her slow smile crawl across her face, the way she tapped her lips with her tongue, or to hear her giggle delightedly at one of his goofy stories.
Normally, he didn’t allow himself these kinds of thoughts. Running forward, leap ahead, never look back was his motto and it served him well, for otherwise the pain was too big; too much to bear. To think of the one he loved meant opening the door for the others to sneak in. The ones lost in the time war. He knew too well that the weight of that loss would overwhelm him.
No. He avoided memories like that at all costs, but on a day like today, stuck in-flight until the TARDIS recharged herself on a dimensional rift he found far from Earth (for he didn’t feel like running into Torchwood today,) his yearning for Rose was tearing at his hearts.
Donna didn’t seem to mind an idle day. She was snuggled up on the jumpseat with a book and a cup of tea, munching on a biscuit.
The TARDIS was running smoothly, all systems checked, so there was really no need to
crawl under the console — apart to hide from the ache of his missing Rose.
He stifled a sigh and ducked under the console to find something to take apart.
“You all right there, Spaceman?” Donna’s boots stepped into his line of vision.
“Me? Oh, yeah! Never better!” he said with forced cheerfulness and added a loud smashing of metal for good measure.
Donna’s boot tapped the floor panel. “So, what’s on your mind?”
The Doctor cringed and rubbed the bridge of his nose. Beneath her careless, inattentive attitude, Donna was a sharp observer.
“Oh, you know me. Hydro pumps, one-dimensional equations, the one or other paradox,” he piped up through gritted teeth, attacking a screw.
“And?” Donna knelt down to peek under the console.
Lying on his back, he lifted his head. Busted. “And time,” he added in a small voice.
“Ah-ha,” Donna motioned him to go on as she sat down.
“Just pondering - what if. You know,” he said slowly, avoiding her gaze, “if… I had a moment in time.”
Donna stared at him expectantly, but didn’t probe further.
Now he was in real trouble. If she was quiet, she would not let go.
“You know,” his head sank back and he closed his eyes. “Thoughts of what I would do.”
“Like saving Rose before she fell into the parallel universe,” Donna said matter-of-factly.
His eyes flew open, wide with emotion. “I can’t do that!”
Donna rolled her eyes. “I didn’t say do it. We were just speaking hypothetically, weren’t we?”
“Oh, yea. Of course,” he nodded, his gaze shifting to the wires hanging down from the console.
“So, you were not thinking about saving Rose?” Donna trailed off trying to get him to look at her, but he refused to break his stare with the cables. She nudged him in the leg, hard.
“Oi!” he looked up and crooked an eyebrow.
“You were thinking of Rose, though?”
“That obvious?” he ruffled his hair sheepishly.
“Oh, yea-ah!” Donna nodded with a big smile.
He slid out from under the mass of cables and sat up, resting his back on the console beside
her. He rubbed invisible dust from his hands until Donna laid her hand on his.
“Get it out, Spaceman. You’ll feel better.”
“I will?” he asked quietly.
“Never fails to help,” Donna squeezed his hands. “That and dark chocolate.”
The Doctor wrinkled his nose in thought. “Don’t have any on board, but we could pop over
to–.” He started to scramble to his feet.
“Nice try,” Donna grabbed his arm and kept him from getting up. “Maybe later.”
He sunk back, staring at the ground and feeling Donna’s eyes on him. He heaved a sigh. “I
was thinking about what if I had one moment in time. Just a tiny one. Just to see her again. Make sure she’s fine.”
“How could she be, without you?” Donna squeezed him hard.
His head shot up. “You’re not helping.”
Donna flung back a strand of hair. “Wasn’t my intention,” she said with a wicked grin.
He wrinkled his brow.
“Unless you accept that she misses you as much as you miss her, and is just as miserable,
you can’t move on.”
“But she’s safe now and with her family,” the Doctor protested weakly.
Donna snorted. “Who wants safe when they can travel with you?”
“Again — NOT helping,” he shot back, trying to wiggle out of her grip.
“Well, face it,” Donna pushed down harder. “She was sent there against her will.”
He went limp and stopped struggling. “She’d have been lost in the Void otherwise, and it
would have been my fault.”
“No,” Donna poked his leg with her index finger. “From what you told me, Rose jumped
back from the ‘safe’ alternate world to be with you.”
He nodded feebly.
“So, it was her decision to abandon her family, friends and safety to be with you.”
He looked at her, his lips forming a tight line.
“And it was her decision to let go and pull the lever to save Earth, thus risking her own life,”
Donna’s eyes bored into his.
He held her gaze silently.
“It was,” he whispered finally.
“So stop beating yourself up about it,” Donna said gently. “You might be 903 years old and
we might appear like babies to you, but by human standards we are grown-ups and fully capable of making our own decisions.”
“It should have been me,” he said, breaking eye contact.
“And then what?” Donna tapped his knee softly. “You’d be trapped there and then WHO is
gonna save us and the rest of the universe over here?”
His head popped up and Donna grinned triumphantly. “Hadn’t thought about that, had you?”
He grunted something unintelligible and Donna nudged him. “See, we need you.”
A smile sneaked over his face as Donna stood up and extended her hand. He slipped his hand into hers and she pulled him up.
“Off to Choclatiere III.”