A/N: Ask and ye shall receive—people wanted an epilogue, so here it is. I started writing this before Torchwood started, so it's not canon at all. Also, I got post-itis and was unable to wait for my beta to finish reading this (sorry Michelle!), so any mistakes are all mine.
Feedback: Is love. Please review!
Shireen sighed happily as she walked back to the estates, working the kinks out of her neck. It had been a long day at the office, but it was better than the shop. She'd gone to work the day after talking with the Doctor, but after only an hour of fake politeness to snobbish customers who didn't even seem to realize she was there she'd wanted to pull her hair out and scream. She could do more than fold clothes and smile until her cheeks hurt—the Doctor had shown her that.
As soon as her shift had ended she'd run to the nearest university she knew of and perused the list of courses offered, one instantly catching her eye. Marketing. While she didn't want to work in a shop for the rest of her life, she still loved clothes, and fashion. She could do this. She would love doing this—and she signed up for classes right then and there.
The classes were hard and time consuming, but she excelled, putting the creativity she used to reserve for her hair and outfits into her projects. And then one day one of her professors had mentioned her name to an ad agency that was hiring, and they'd been impressed by her work. They'd offered her a job as a secretary for the time being, allowing her to get a feel for the company, with a full time position waiting for her once she finished her degree. And while the job was similar to her previous one, the environment couldn't have been more different. Here she was surrounded by intelligent people who loved what they were doing, not just slogging through each day for the paycheck. She was so proud of what she'd accomplished—and couldn't help but hope that Rose would have been too.
A familiar whooshing filled the air, and Shireen smiled as she saw the blue police box materialize next to her flat. She'd seen the Doctor a few times in the months since they'd first talked. Strange things had started to happen again—people next to the river falling ill for no reason. The government and health officials were strangely silent on the issue, which just piqued her curiosity even more. She'd gone down to the docks to investigate, staying in the shadows and snapping pictures with her mobile when she came across a group of people who were acting suspicious—and didn't look quite human. She'd been on her way home, desperately trying to figure out how she could contact the Doctor, when she'd literally bumped into him on the street. They'd dropped by so Martha could see some of her mates, but as soon as she showed them the pictures they were on the case, her along for the ride. The "people" she'd found turned out to be a partially amphibious species called Artkers who'd discovered that human white blood cells were an excellent source of fuel for their ships, and were happily taking advantage of that fact. How rude. There'd been a few moments when Shireen hadn't been sure she was going to get out of it alive, but when she'd mentioned that to Martha the other woman had laughed.
"Actually," she'd said, "this has gone relatively well."
Shireen had also mentioned, once the Doctor had dispatched the last Artkerian, that she loved Martha's necklace, an intricate, twisting chain that held a deep blue stone.
"A Krangarth sapphire!" the Doctor had exclaimed. "The exact same color as their hair. We can get you one when we're in the area—we've got a rebellion to help along, anyway."
Martha had rolled her eyes. "Of course, it can't just be a pleasure trip. There has to be some kind of death-defying aspect to it."
"Oi!" the Doctor had protested, as the two women smirked at each other. "I'm telling you, the Krangarthian Revolution of the eighty-third century is an event not to be missed."
The Time Lord had been true to his word. They'd come back a few weeks later with a similar necklace—and an American bloke named Jack. Shireen had vaguely remembered that Jack had traveled with Rose and the Doctor briefly, and had been happy to find another person who had known her best mate. The three had stayed for a few hours before taking Jack to Cardiff. She and Captain Harkness still kept in touch, calling each other when they wanted to talk about Rose. The Doctor didn't come back to visit often, but she understood—she would miss Rose for the rest of her life, and how long would that be? Fifty or sixty years? The Doctor had hundreds of years to carry that pain. She couldn't begrudge him trying to stay away from the constant reminder.
The Doctor had appeared by the time she walked up to the TARDIS, his lean frame filling the doorway of the police box. "So, who are you saving Earth from this time?" she called to him teasingly.
He grinned at her, bright and warm and gloriously happy, and she realized that he seemed…lighter. Lighter than he'd been in a long time. "Oh, no rescuing today. Just had someone who wanted to see you." And with that, he stepped out of the doorway.
There was a shriek that could have shattered glass, and then Shireen was throwing herself at Rose, both women crying happily as they embraced each other. It was a struggle to stay upright as they stumbled out of the doorway of the TARDIS, Shireen running her hands over Rose again and again, as if to convince herself that this wasn't a dream. "You're here, you're here…oh, God, you're really here!"
Laughing and crying at the same time, Rose nodded as her best mate engulfed her in another hug. "I missed you so much, Shireen," she choked out.
"Me too, hun," the girl replied. She pulled back, still holding Rose by the shoulders. "Wait, if you're back...what about Mickey? Your mum?" she asked, looking at her expectantly.
Rose's expression fell slightly as she shook her head. "No. Just me." But she quickly continued, before the mood could turn somber. "But they understand. It's okay. I'm where I belong." Lips curling into a smile, she looked over Shireen's shoulder at the Doctor, who was leaning casually against the TARDIS.
Shireen turned in the direction of Rose's gaze, finally remembering that they weren't alone. Lunging toward the unsuspecting Time Lord, she tackled him and wrapped her arms around him, giving him an exuberant hug. "And you, you wonderful, amazing alien man," she murmured into the fabric of his coat. "Thank you for bringing her back."
Laughing, the Doctor returned the hug. "Don't thank me," he replied, returning his companion's smile over Shireen's shoulder. "She did most of the work."
Hours passed before Shireen would let them leave, the moon and stars out in the sky as they finally walked hand in hand back to the TARDIS. They were only steps away from the police box when the Doctor stopped, turning to face Rose. He took a deep breath and paused, measuring out what he was about to say.
"Shireen mentioned your mum, and Mickey…we can try to get back to them, if you want."
But Rose was shaking her head before he'd even finished speaking. "No we can't, Doctor. You know that as well as I do." She'd already thought about that, in the time it had taken to get to Shireen's flat. Without even trying, her mind had instantly gone through the various timelines, where she and the Doctor immediately tried to cross the void into the parallel universe. They all ended badly, although she didn't know exactly how. She just knew that as she traveled along each line, she would get a horrible, malevolent feeling, and then the line would abruptly end—as if it no longer existed. She understood now, how sometimes the Doctor would know where to go, but not exactly why.
Defeated, the Doctor replied, "I just…I don't want you to regret…you're here without your family, and there's a good chance you're not going to be able to see them again—"
Rose cupped his face in her hands and lifted his eyes to hers. "Stop that. Either way I was going to be sad—staying there, or somehow finding my way back here. I know I'm going to miss Mickey, my mum and dad, Nancy…that's going to hurt for a long time." Her voice grew thick. "But I told you before that I made my choice a long time ago—I'm not leaving you. I'm not leaving you because you've shown me that there's more to life than my simple planet. I'm not leaving you because I'm not going to make you do all this alone." A tear ran down her cheek. "But most of all, I'm not leaving you because I love you. Don't ever, ever make yourself feel guilty by thinking that I regret what happened, because I don't. Got that?"
The Doctor nodded, a smile slowly appearing on his face. "Yeah, I think I do," he said, voice thick as well, before giving Rose a quick, hard kiss.
There was silence for a moment, each of them collecting themselves, before he spoke again. "I think there was someone else you wanted to see."
Jack signed the form in front of him and added it to the smaller of the two piles on his desk, then leaned back in his chair and stretched, sighing. Fighting aliens and protecting the Earth were in his job description, but it seemed like most of his time was filled with paperwork. Lots and lots of paperwork.
Martha choose that moment to walk into his office, carrying a steaming mug in each hand—tea for her, coffee for him. He sighed again, but out of relief this time.
"Bless you," he murmured, taking the proffered cup and carefully swallowing a mouthful of caffeinated goodness. "My hand was about to seize up."
She laughed. "That bad?"
He swept his hand over the desk, indicating the stacks of paper resting on its surface. "I'll be lucky if I get all this done today."
They talked a while longer, deciding what they would have for dinner that night. When Jack's phone rang, he picked it up immediately, hoping for a reason to get out of his office. "Captain Jack Harkness, Torchwood Cardiff."
"So official sounding. Someone who didn't know you would think that you were a company man."
Jack smiled as he glanced at the door, making sure Martha had closed it after she came in. He'd made sure his phone and office weren't bugged his first day on the job, but you never knew when a nosy subordinate might try to listen in. "Doctor," he greeted, Martha looking up expectantly at the name, "didn't think we'd hear from you again so soon. What's up?"
"Oh, nothing much," he replied, sounding evasive. Jack could practically see the innocent expression the Doctor would be making, as if the Time Lord was standing right there in his office. "I was just hoping that you could come down to the TARDIS. I've parked it down the block from Torchwood."
Jack frowned. "I know things here have changed some, but you're still in the mission statement, Doctor, and still an alien with alien tech. I'm not sure it would be a good idea for me to go swanning off in the middle of the day to meet you."
"I—" the Doctor started, but he was cut off, and there were muffled thumps and laughter, as if he was struggling with someone for the phone. And then a new voice filled his ear, so warm and familiar it hurt his heart.
A voice he'd thought he'd never hear again.
"Come on, Captain," Rose teased. "Where's your sense of adventure?"
The phone fell to the desk with a clatter as Jack rushed out of the room, wrenching the door open so hard that it slammed into the wall behind it. Martha looked at the phone in confusion, then ran after him, trying to keep up.
Jack didn't notice. The people at the desks around him faded into a blur as he ran out of the building into the midday sunshine. He ran and ran and then there was blue and Rose and he had her in his arms and spun her around, Rose's feet in the air as she laughed and laughed and oh God he'd never been happier.
He finally set her down and held her at arm's length, just looking at her, taking it all in. "I'm not dreaming this, am I? Someone needs to pinch me, prove I'm not dreaming."
Rose laughed. "Anything to get me to touch you—I see you haven't changed a bit, Jack."
He grinned and hugged her again. Yes, this was definitely real.
When Jack finally released her she saw a woman standing behind him, waiting silently. Rose smiled and extended her hand—she was no longer the girl who had been so catty with Sarah Jane. "And you must be Martha. It's nice to meet you."
The slightly nervous expression vanished from Martha's face as she took Rose's hand. "Same here. It's wonderful to finally meet the person behind the stories."
Rose quirked an eyebrow. "They've been telling stories about me, have they?" Her expression turned mischievous. "I'm sure I have a few Jack and Doctor stories of my own that you would love to hear."
Martha's grin widened as she leaned in conspiratorially. "Oh, and I know the Doctor didn't tell you everything that's happened over the past year. I'll have to let you know all the juicy bits."
"That sounds wonderful," Rose replied, linking arms with Martha and leading the other woman back to the TARDIS. They walked past the gobsmacked Doctor and Jack, who were just beginning to realize how much trouble they were in. They exchanged fearful glances.
Without waiting for a reply, they both rushed after the giggling women, following them back into the TARDIS.