He walked away from the depressingly white wall. There was nothing left on the other side anymore. It was just a wall. Slowly he made his way back through the building to his TARDIS, sitting the middle of a room filled with all kinds of alien technology that shouldn’t be here. For the first time in a long time, two years in fact, he walked through those doors alone, knowing that there wouldn’t be anyone waiting for him on the other side. No beautiful pink and yellow girl to welcome him back or inquire as to where their next adventure would take place. He was completely alone.
But…just because the door to that other dimension had closed didn’t mean that he couldn’t still say goodbye. He charted the TARDIS to a sun, one that wasn’t warming any planet, one that wasn’t giving life and started to draw upon its energy. He had to say goodbye. Using the sun, burning it up, he found a small opening through the void and projected himself onto some windswept beach. She was standing there, looking out at the water that crashed along the shore. In the distance he could see Pete, Jackie, and Mickey, and a large jeep. No doubt she had all of her belongings in there. She was prepared to leave her family behind to travel with him, to stay with him, forever, just like she’d promised.
But he knew better.
She turned and looked at him, and his hearts, already broken into a million pieces, shattered all over again. She looked just about as heartbroken as he felt. “Where are you?” she asked.
He swallowed hard, trying to keep his emotions somewhat under control. “Inside the TARDIS. There’s one tiny gap in the universe left, just about to close, and it takes a lot of power to send this projection. I’m in orbit around a supernova.” He paused for a moment and thought of the irony. “I’m burning up a sun just to say goodbye.” Because he had to. He couldn’t just leave her stranded somewhere. He’d told her once before, that wasn’t for her. He would never do that to her. Because he had fallen in love with his pink and yellow girl.
She shook her head as she looked at him. “You look like a ghost.”
“Hold on,” he said softly, adjusting the setting on his sonic screwdriver. He aimed it at the TARDIS console and boosted the signal, draining more energy from the sun, but now he looked as real as he could. Yes, his time was shorter, but now it was like he was really standing on that beach with her.
Rose slowly walked over to him, until she was standing right before him. She reached out her hand. “Can I touch…?”
Again the twice broken pieces of his heart shattered a third time. “I’m still just an image. No touch.”
“Can’t you come through properly?” she asked, her voice beginning to crack as she realized what he was doing. She would have to stay here, he couldn’t take her with him.
“No, the whole thing would fracture. Two universes would collapse.”
“So?” He almost laughed. That was his girl, wanting to do anything and everything to be with him. She looked away, shaking her head.
To try and move the conversation to something a bit less depressing he asked her where they were. He had to laugh at the irony of standing on Bad Wolf Bay. Then she really started to break down. She asked him how long they had left. The warning signals in the TARDIS were going off, alerting him that their time was nearly up and he would forever have to say goodbye. They only had about two minutes left. When she mentioned the baby his hearts stopped beating in his chest and he feared he may regenerate right then and there.
If she was carrying his baby…if she was with his child…he didn’t care if two universes would collapse in on each other. He didn’t care how many lives it would destroy. If she was pregnant with his child, he would tear through the universes; rip the void apart to get to her. He wouldn’t rest until she was safely aboard the TARDIS with him. She eased him though, telling him that Jackie was the one who was pregnant, not her. He didn’t know if he was disappointed or relieved.
Then she told him she was working for Torchwood and if that didn’t make him swell up with pride. His beautiful, clever girl, defending the earth just like they’d always done together. Torchwood would be safe in her hands. He told her that back home her mother, Mickey, and her were all on the list of the dead, officially. While he was talking the TARDIS kept on beeping and blinking, telling him that his time was running short. She asked if she would ever see him again…and he had to tell her the truth. They would never see each other again. She was trying to keep from crying, trying to keep her composure, so was he, but it was getting harder by the second.
And then she said those three words that neither one of them had spoken to each other before. “I love you,” she said, choking on her sobs, trying to keep the tears from breaking free. The shattered pieces of his hearts began to burn, catching fire and slipping away; soon there would be nothing left.
The warning signals from the TARDIS were getting stronger. They had seconds left. He wanted to tell her he loved her, because he did. She had done so much for him. She’d come into his life when he’d been in a dark place, he’d been ready to die. She had shown him the light, pulled him from the darkness and gave him something worth living for. She’d shown him how to love again, shown him that there was still wonder in the universe. He wanted to say those three words to her, but he knew he shouldn’t. That was too selfish of him. So, instead, he dragged his final farewell out as long as he could as the TARDIS counted down the seconds remaining.
“Quite right too.” Fewer and fewer. “And I suppose,” the clock ticked down, “if it’s my last chance to say it.” Almost nothing was left, just a few precious seconds. “Rose Tyler…” He faded away, no longer was he standing on the beach in front of her. It was then, and only then, that he let his own tears leak from his eyes and roll down his cheeks, staining them with those three words he could never say to her. He felt his hearts completely burn up. He was sure there was nothing left in the universe to completely make him whole again…at least…not this universe.