He all but leaps out the door, rushing up to the wiry, elderly gentleman at the reception desk.
"Hello, I'm looking for Rose Tyler!" he says, "I need to find her, where's her office? I don't have much time."
It was a conversation with Donna—of all people—that inspired this trip. Crossing his own timeline, breaking a few of the rules. To go back to when he had just the slightest slip of breach open and use his own TARDIS's power to slide through. Five minutes? Maybe less? Maybe a little more? No time.
The elderly man stands, looking more than a little shocked, "Your box just appeared there!"
"Yes, yes, you're very perceptive, I need to find Rose Tyler. Right now, where is she?"
"That's a police box, those haven't been around since the 1950's, I remember seeing them."
"Did I mention my lack of time?" The Doctor appears to be close to either strangling the elderly man, or leaping across his desk to his computer. "I've opened a breach in time, I don't have much of it left, I just need to find Rose Tyler, take her into my box that you haven't seen since the 50's, and disappear again."
"Rose Tyler." The man speaks with melodic, almost confused tones. Bloody stupid humans. They don't understand the concept of no time.
"Yes, yes, Rose Tyler. Works in this department, I need to see her right away."
"She's gone, sir."
In a voice that sounds suspiciously like Donna, the Doctor barks, "Gone where?!"
The man takes a breath, "I'm terribly sorry, sir. Miss Tyler...Miss Tyler was on a mission to collect half-formed Cybermen about three weeks ago in the southern part of Cardiff. Some of them were not as docile as we believed."
The Doctor steps back, realization dawning on his face. His hearts burning. Aching. No. He could remember his words to Donna, such a short time ago: She is so very, very alive.
"She's dead, sir. I'm terribly sorry."
He can feel his head nod. No time. Five minutes is all he has, there is no way he can go back to Cardiff and save her in time. No time. Everything stings and hurts and he pushes it down but it doesn't make it better because she's gone and now it's permanent.
"Are you the Doctor?" the elderly man asks, his voice curious as he speaks.
It takes him a moment to realize he does have an answer. "Yes," he croaks, "Yes, I'm the Doctor."
The elderly man smiles, and it looks almost grotesque on his face (but that could simply be because he hurts so much), "She spoke of you often."
"Yes." He turns. No time. Too late. The door to the box closes. He disappears. It's over. The vworp, vworp of the TARDIS as it makes its leave, and there's nothing else.
Clomp, clomp. The sounds of someone running towards that sound. A blonde, aged a few years, looking wide-eyed and more than a little expectant.
"Miss Tyler," the receptionist smiles at her, "You're back from that reconnaissance early. Shall I fix you a cup of tea?"
"Did you hear that?" she barks, "That engine? I heard an engine, right here."
"I didn't hear anything," the receptionist says, "But you could be hearing the air conditioning, it is on the fritz again, though they tell me that they're going to fix it..."
"It didn't sound like the air conditioning, it sounded like---" She shakes her head, "Nothing. It...must've...it must've been my imagination. Forget it."
"Shall I fix you that tea?"
"Thanks, Mr. Manger. That'd be great."
Muse: The Doctor (Ten)
Fandom: Doctor Who
Word Count: 664