Never has been.
Oh, he feels the initial loss like a punch to the gut. Watches her torn from his universe and at first all he can do is lean against the wall and imagine that somewhere in some other universe she's leaning up against him, too. But that's the romantic side of him he rarely lets out.
He lifts himself up off the wall and walks back to the TARDIS. He can figure out a way to get her back. He thought the split between worlds was sealed before and he was wrong. He can find her. She's not lost.
43 days, or thereabouts. That's how long he spends focusing on nothing but finding her. No traveling, no TARDIS repair (except when the life support system nearly blew on day 11), just looking for a way to travel the universes. Looking for Rose. By day 15, he's located a tiny crack left in the rift, rapidly closing. By day 35, he's figured out a way to hold it open using the power of a collapsing star. By day 42, he realizes that there's no way for him to open the rift for anything more than a glimmer of light, maybe a message. Two universes would collapse otherwise.
Time Lords don't grieve the way that humans do. There's no step system, no grief and then relief. But with this loss…maybe it's because she's so very human. Her humanity's rubbed off onto him so much that he follows the psychological path she might've.
At first, he refuses to accept that it's impossible to open it more. For five days, he rewires and kicks the console because it's not impossible. He switches quickly into anger, because the TARDIS can't open the rift (but it never had that power, he has no idea why he thinks it should). He tries to bargain, to promise to be a better owner if he could just get enough room to pull Rose back. Or maybe pull him through. Him and the TARDIS, a whole new universe to explore. Then he crumples on the floor of the TARDIS in a grieving mess.
Because, really, he's held on so long without truly grieving because he had that hope. That hope he might be able to bring her back. That even though Rose Tyler's name is on the list of the dead, he can change that. He can bring her back.
Acceptance takes a good long while to finally settle in. She's gone and all he can do is say 'goodbye' and beg her to have a wonderful life. It's better than the alternative. Better than never letting her know how much she means to him. Even once is better than nothing.
Of course, he doesn't know where the rift opens up in her universe. He sends out a message, just his voice calling out her name, keyed to her genetic code. He waits. Waits to activate the core until her code meets up with the rift signals. He doesn't want to waste a minute while she's not there. In the meantime he fixes a few neglected bits underneath the console and waits.
Six days pass, and there's a blip on the monitor. He doesn't even think to straighten his hair or suit, he just pulls out the sonic screwdriver and stands in front of the projector.
And he can't see where they are, but he can see her, suddenly, right in front of him. Just an image, but it's her. Right next to the reclining chair and the door to the back corridors. It's like she was never really gone, she just went to use the loo and got lost on the way back. But it's not really her, he has to remind himself, it's just an image.
She doesn't waste time. "Where are you?" she asks.
"Inside the TARDIS," he replies. "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. I'm burning up a sun just to say 'goodbye'."
"You look like a ghost." The confusion in her face is so very her. She's just short of disbelieving everything she's seeing, but she's smart enough to know that her senses aren't lying. He's there.
"Hold on." He pulls out the sonic screwdriver and adjusts a few of the projectors, hopefully clearing up the sending signal. It clears up her image, and as she steps towards him in the TARDIS, it's like she's there, right there.
He's found her.
Muse: The Doctor (Ten)
Fandom: Doctor Who
Word Count 772