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Safe in the TARDIS, Rose Tyler sipped her tea, and began her story.
"Well, we'd landed, and you'd just finished telling us not to wander off..."
..."Don't wander off Rose. We don't know what's here yet." Called the Doctor, his jacket flapping about him, making him seem even more like the proverbial mother hen. She rolled her eyes, but nodded and continued her exploration - keeping Jack and the Doctor in line of sight. For someone who claimed to enjoy the thrill of adventure, the Doctor could sometimes be a bit overcautious Rose thought.
'Here' was a station or platform or something in the middle of the farther outer regions of the known Universe, and they'd come to follow up a situation they'd encountered, in which they'd rescued a small colony of people about to be enslaved by the Warlord Titus.
Not content with saving the day, the Time Lord had immediately decided that they had to trace the Warlord and put a stop to his slave trafficking altogether. So 'here' they were. Here.
She sighed. It didn't look like there was anybody else here - in fact it looked like the place had been deserted long ago. She idly picked up a piece of blackened metal - the Doctor and Jack's voices droning out. She frowned as she turned it over in her hands, discovering symbols engraved in the metal. She was just about to call out to the Doctor to see if he could tell her what they meant when she saw a pair of eyes staring back at her!
Startled she jumped but the eyes were swiftly followed by a face, an all too familiar face at that. Rose scowled.
"Captain Harkness it's rude to jump out on people!" She hissed, eyes flashing. Then something else registered and she took a step backwards. If Jack was standing in front of her... then who could she hear talking with the Doctor behind her? She whirled, there was Jack talking calmly about a space battle he'd once been in, hands waving energetically about him and the Doctor looking slightly bored. But... but he was also standing in front of her, a few feet away plain as day.
"Who are you!" She demanded.
The Other Jack seemed more amused then concerned at her reaction.
"That's our Rose." Then he looked sad, almost like he was about to break down in tears or something.
"What is it? What's wrong?" Instinctively she reached out for him, to hold him - because some instinct was telling her that this WAS Jack, her Jack and that something was terribly terribly wrong.
"What is it.. Jack?" She asked again, softly.
He raised his head.
"Oh Rosie." He caught sight of himself then, over her shoulder - still trying to convince the Doctor that he'd really been where he was saying he'd been.
"Those were the days alright. We thought he was indestructable." He said softly with a sigh.
"Stop speaking in riddles, Jack. You know I don't like that." She said, irritated.
"Okay, Rose - I need to talk to you - but first I have to have your promise that you won't tell the Doctor or the other me." He asked her, taking her hands in his.
"Do you promise?"
"Jack... whatever it is, whatever has happened the Doctor can fix it. He wouldnt let anything bad happen to us - not unless it was over his dead body." She grinned, quoting the Time Lord from another adventure.
Jack's look spoke volumes then and she glanced back at the Time Lord who was now laughing at Jack's gestures.
"No..." She dragged her gaze away and turned back to the Jack in front of her.
"Tell me everything. Now." She demanded and grabbing his arm, pulled him out of sight.
Rose couldnt believe what she had just heard.
"So the Doctor dies in a few hours, and isnt there to save the Universe when the Daleks turn up? But the Daleks are gone - they died in the Time War, Jack." She persisted.
Jack shook his head.
"They're out there Rose. They DO come back, only this time The Doctor isnt there to save the day. Because he dies here - and he's not supposed to. Rose... he dies saving you." Revealed Jack.
Rose was utterly speechless.
... "My god, you must have been horrified." Butted in Jack, reaching out to take Rose's free hand. She nodded, still unable to meet the Doctor's gaze.
"Go on.." He urged her, although a part of him was curling up and dying inside him.
"Then what happened..."
..."Well I didn't know WHAT to think. But Jack knew exactly what to say to convince me.."
"So he saves my life and then gets himself killed? But how's that happen - where are you? What happened to you covering his back eh, Captain?" She demanded, anger taking over for a minute.
"I tried. God Rose, I tried. I tried to get to him - but it was just ... there wasn't time to save him. He died in your arms..." Jack turned away, seemingly gutted by the memory.
"Okay so how can we stop all this happening again? Wait a minute, how'd you make it here? The Doctor's the only one who can fly the TARDIS." She was suspicious again.
"Called in a favour at the Time Agency. One shot wonder." He explained bitterly.
"Okay, say I buy it. What can we do." She asked.
"He listens to you. Make sure he stays with me, you take the lead. But Rose you have to understand, that if you do this - you wont make it. You'll die instead of him." Said Jack, earnestly.
"And at this point you didnt twig, or at least think that you should maybe run this past the Time Lord, who actually has EXPERIENCE with this type of paradox thing. Who knows about the timelines?" Interjected the Doctor, softly. There was no accusation in his tone, just a slight pleading.
Rose didnt answer that question and after a few seconds, simply continued her story.
"Then he started going on about what the Daleks were doing, about the people dying..." She said, her voice getting quieter.
"Rose Lord knows I don't want to lose you. But the Universe needs the Doctor. You havent seen the suffering I've seen, the people enslaved, the children being exterminated.." His face was as grave as his tone and sent a wave of shivers down Rose's spine. Shivers of responsibility.
"The Universe needs its Doctor." She realised, speaking the words aloud. Unable to look at her, Jack hung his head and just nodded.
Rose summed up all the courage she had inside, all the determination she'd added to since travelling with her Doctor and squared a shoulder.
"Then theres only one thing left to do, isnt there Jack, we both know that. Just promise me... promise me one thing?" She asked him.
"What? Anything for you Rose." He answered, voice cracking.
"Look after him for me." And then they hugged for the longest times.
When they parted eventually, she had a shining unshead tear in her eye, but she turned around and marched stiffly away from him.
She knew what had to be done, after all. His part in this was finished.
Hers would be over soon enough