A/N: I was inspired to write this while watching Casanova the other day. Just a little thought in my head that turned into a big story on my way to work. Hope you like it. As always I own nothing.
"That storm'll have the roof off before too long," moaned Jackie as she pulled the heavy knit cardigan tighter around her before kneeling by the fire and coaxing the flames up higher, "And why the power company haven't got the electric back on after two days I don't know."
"They can hardly work in this weather," came a quiet voice from the corner, muffled by a heavy book, "They'd probably drown, besides, I like the candles."
"Yeah well if Dominic has one over while he's tearing about you won't be saying that when the place is on fire," muttered Jackie, tucking a strand of blonde hair behind her ear as she settled back into the ornate sofa of the first lounge room.
It had been ten years since they had all crossed the void into the alternative dimension and Jackie was as content as anyone could be. Her husband, the alternative Peter Tyler was head of Torchwood since it had been reformed and the family had been able to leave the London home they had in favour of one situated in the wilds of Dartmoor, the advent of the sonic express making travel to and from London a pleasant half hour commute. Jackie loved the sprawling mansion they occupied, big enough for them to almost have a wing each if they so pleased but the family liked to keep close. Dominic Tyler was the youngest of the band, Jackie's second child, nine years old and a tearaway he tried his parents patience but was indulged by his elder sister. Rose adored her brother, with his wild shock of blonde hair and deep brown eyes, he had such a sense of adventure, the same that had sent his sister off on her journeys so long ago. It was through Dominic that Rose lived now. She worked at Torchwood same as her father but at twenty nine she remained at home, unmarried and almost friendless. She liked it that way.
"The house won't burn down, the candles have a safety mechanism in them that extinguishes them on impact, alien technology is a wonderful thing."
"Well I still want the electric back," huffed Jackie, shoving her feet up onto the dark wooden coffee table before her.
The book descended from her companions face and too deep brown orbs held hers for a second, "Mum complaining is not going to make things go any faster," said Rose, the crackling light of the fire highlighting her still youthful features, "I'm trying to read."
"What is that you've been buried in all night anyway?" said Jackie, "And where is your father with that tea?"
"It's the Great Gatsby," said Rose, sighing as she folded down the page she was on and closed the book, when her mother started asking questions there was not much chance of her continuing to read, "I've been meaning to read it for ages, the Doctor…"
Jackie was perched on the arm of the chair beside her daughter in an instant as she heard the catch in her voice, even ten years could not heal the one wound Rose carried. Rose leant into her mother's embrace, her eyes straying to the fire and watching the dance of the flames, her memory skimming back over events long since passed.
"Oh Rose," was the only sound in the room, "I wish…"
Even Jackie could not find the words. So often they'd all tried, Jackie, Pete, Mickey but they all gave up in the end. Mickey had moved on from them now, forging his own life out in the world. He visited often but he had a new life, he hadn't even tried to win Rose back after the Doctor but being by her side without being her partner had proved too difficult in the end. No one blamed him, not even Rose.
"I know Mum," said Rose softly, her breath shuddering in her chest as she steadied her nerves, "The Doctor said he loved the book so I thought I'd give it a go. He always did love a good story. He'd never believe it if he saw me reading it."
Jackie just rubbed her daughter's shoulder, making deliberate shivery noises as if it was due to the chill rather than the need to comfort her. Rose had to admit the touch did warm her slightly. The storm outside had been raging non stop for three days and the power had blown almost as soon as it started leaving them to fend off the chill with fires and candles. Rose loved the atmosphere, coal fires on the wild and windy moor land of Devon. She loved their home, the untameable nature of the place appealed to the adventurer inside her and the solitude was a welcome break from the hustle of London. So often when the weather was fine she would find herself out on the Moor, wandering for hours lost in the memories of times gone by. Sometimes it was almost as if he walked beside her, augmented her memories with his own, the cheeky London accent of his that she remembered so well or the soft northern tones of when she first loved him speaking into her ear in a whisper for her alone.
Her parents had tried and failed to convince her to go out, meet people, have relationships. She had tried at first, when her initial mourning was over but it was futile, no one would ever compare to the man with two hearts and his travelling machine. She didn't want them to. She had been his companion, his confidante, his best friend. He'd been her world. She didn't always think of him with sadness, she would even laugh and joke about him when the mood took her but it was when his name came up unexpected that her loss would hit home. All she longed for was a chance to relive her old life but it would never come.
Rose pulled herself from her reverie as she heard the noises echoing from the kitchen that announced the return of her brother and father.
"I'm ok Mum," she said, smiling up at Jackie before giving her a quick hug.
Jackie pressed a kiss to her forehead, "Good girl," she said, moving back to her place on the sofa as the door swung open to reveal the cheeky face of Dominic as he scurried through to hold it open for his father and the tea tray he carried.
"About time," said Jackie as Pete set the tray on the table before her, "I was going to die of thirst."
"You try boiling water over a fire and tell me how easy it is," said Pete but no venom laced his voice as he regarded his wife, "It took ages."
Rose laughed to herself and shook her head at the couple before she felt the familiar nudge of her brothers elbow as he clambered onto her lap.
"And what can I do for you?" she said, cuddling the young boy too her, "You're getting too heavy for this Dom."
Dominic pouted, giving him the classic Tyler look that had blackmailed, conned and coaxed its way into everyone's hearts, "Tell me a story Rose."
"What story do you want to hear?"
"Tell me one about the Doctor," said Dominic, his tone softening, knowing it was always a touchy subject with his sister but desperate to know all the same.
Rose patted down the young boy's hair, "Alright," she sighed, flashing her Mum a consoling glance as she looked set to tell Dominic to leave his sister alone, "How about I tell you about the time the Doctor and I went to play golf on the Moon?"
"You played golf on the moon, cool!" cried Dominic, "Mum Rose played golf on the Moon."
"Well actually it turned out to be a bit more exciting than that," said Rose, settling her back against the chair in order to begin her story, "We ended up on Earth…"
Pete gently lifted Dominic from Rose's lap, cradling the small sleeping form and allowing Rose to stretch out her aching limbs. Several hours and several stories had passed by but both Jackie and Pete knew they had been mere notes of what had really occurred, there was never any talk of Rose's affections for the Doctor and even his character Rose played down in her tales. The fiction of the fact Pete had once called it in conversation with Jackie, he doubted anyone would ever hear the truth of the adventures his daughter had had. Still cradling his son Pete left the room to carry him to bed.
Rose pushed to her feet and went to the window, pulling back the heavy drapes to look out onto the night shrouded Moor Land as the wind and rain lashed at the Tors. She giggled as a cry of 'Heathcliffe' wanted to pass her lips, she knew full well she was at the wrong end of the country but the mood was right. The lightning was the only thing to pick out the menacing spread of Dartmoor, the heather lain almost flat by the drive of the wind and the heavy granite almost pushed down hill by the rain. Rose found herself thinking of dragons and knights. She saw the Doctor dressed in the garb of King Arthur, a sight she had witnessed once in their travels, battling some mythical beast with sword and shield as she was tied to the granite tor, the wind lashing the white silken frock she wore. She smiled at herself as the thought faded, he would probably have fought with the sonic screwdriver in his suit and she had never been the damsel in distress type.
"I'm going to go to bed darling," came her mothers voice from behind her.
"Ok," said Rose, not taking her eyes from the Moor, "Good night."
She heard the pad of feet as they made for the door but that was not what caught her attention. A flash of lightning lit up the scene before her and her heart started as she swore she saw a figure clambering dangerously over the jagged granite before her. The lightning flashed again, the thunder rattling the roof and the wind echoing in the chimney. Her vision was confirmed, a figure cloaked in black struggled against the wind and rain, staggering back into the heather and grass and mud. When he failed to stand again Rose was already running.
Seeing her daughter's distress Jackie cried for Pete, calling out for Rose to stop as the young woman threw open the front door and dove out into the night. Pete's footsteps echoed on the stairs as he ran down them.
"What's happened?" he said as he saw the front door wide open, the rain flooding the marble floor and the wind whipping the curtains into a frenzy.
"She just ran out," said Jackie, her arms held up to her face against the rain as they made for the door, "Pete I can't see her. Rose? Rose!"
Without a second thought Pete ran down the path and out onto the Moor, the pitch black of the night making it impossible to pick out Rose's form. He called out for her but her name was torn from his lips by the wind. The lightning flashed and he saw her as she struggled in the mud, trying to lift what looked like a body onto her shoulders. He rushed over, using his hands to guide himself to her as the light died once more. Soaked to the skin he found her, struggling under the weight of the black cloaked figure.
"Help me!" called Rose over the thunder.
Pete lifted the body onto his shoulder and together they carried it back to the house, struggling to follow the dim candlelight shining in the living room window. As soon as they were through the door Jackie pushed it shut behind them, closing out the howling wind and freezing rain. She watched silently as Pete lowered to body to the ground, pulling back the tangled cape to reveal the face of an old man. His white hair was in a shocking halo around his head and his face drawn and thin. Rose bent over him, feeling for breath with her cheek and checking his pulse with her fingers on his neck.
"He's alive but his heart beat's everywhere," she said, "Its racing. He needs a doctor."
"The nearest hospital is twenty miles," said Jackie, "And there's no way you can drive in this storm."
"Call for the air ambulance then," said Rose, loosening the clasp around the man's neck.
"The phone lines are out as well as the power," said Pete, "Let's just get him comfortable and dry and then we'll think of something."
Rose nodded solemnly as Pete picked up the unconscious man once more and carried him up the stairs.
The room was warm and the blankets soft and that was the best she could do for now. Rose looked down at her patient, his brow peeked with fever as he shuddered despite the warmth. Pete had managed to get the old man dry and nearly into one of the spare rooms but Rose had insisted on being his nurse and he was placed in her own bedroom. It was the early hours of the morning and he had not stirred from his sleep. His life was confirmed only by his shuddery breaths and the occasional incoherent mutterings. Rose mopped his brow again, talking to him softly as she tried to coax him to wakefulness. She often wondered if she should have become a nurse rather than choosing to work at Torchwood, she seemed apt at caring for people when they were sick but she could not waste to great knowledge she had gained from her time with the Doctor.
She heard a faint grow from the man in the bed and turned her attention to him once more, her heart lighting slightly as his eyes began to flutter.
"That's it, you're safe, I've got you," she said as she saw him struggling to wake, "You're safe now."
Two soulful grey eyes blinked up at her, an incredulous and thankful look passing over them. Rose smiled down at him, using the damp cloth to smooth down his shock of hair.
"Hello," she said softly, "Its alright, I'm Rose. I'm going to take care of you."
His lips moved but no sound echoed from them save for a hoarse gasp. Rose placed her arm beneath his shoulders and helped him to sitting before turning to the small table next to her and picking up a glass of water. She held it to his lips and he drank several small sips gratefully, his frailty apparent as his lips trembled against the glass.
"There we go," said Rose moving the glass away.
"Thank you," came the reply, his accent unplaceable, a soft, deep drawl that showed his years.
"How are you feeling?" said Rose fluffing the pillows behind him.
"Like I collapsed out on the Moor," said the man, a small smile forming on his thin lips as he chuckled to himself, "I take it you were my saviour."
"You were lucky. If I hadn't have been looking out of the window you would have been out there all night, you would have died."
A sadness passed over the man's face, "Death would be a blessing."
"Now don't say that," said Rose, smoothing down the quilt covering him, "Do you have a name by the way? You already know mine."
"Rose Tyler," said the man softly causing Rose to start in surprise, she hadn't told him her surname. The man laughed at her expression before raising a bony finger to point to the jacket she'd hung at the end of the bed, "It says so on your ID badge."
Rose rolled her eyes and tutted, already liking the personality before her, "You have very good eyesight for a man of your age," she said.
"And what age would you have me at?" said the man, his grey eyes looking up at hers once more.
"Eighty, eighty-five," said Rose, "Why? How old are you?"
The man just laughed at her softly, "How old are you?"
"That's no question to ask a lady," she said, "Shame on you and that's the second of my questions you've not answered. Tell me your name or I shall have to give you one myself."
The man almost looked proudly at her, "Oh you have a fire in you child. Fine then, give me a name of your choice for I shan't give you mine as you have taken to taking up your elders with that tone of voice."
"I have spoken to people far older than you," said Rose, admiring the glitter in the eyes before her and seeing something of herself reflected back in them, "And I shall take you up whenever you choose to be facetious too. Now, a name for you…Heathcliffe."
"Heathcliffe?" said the man almost in disgust, "Under what possession are you to call me that?"
"I was thinking of the name when I saw you out on the Moor," said Rose, her tone quieting slightly as she thought of the other name she had fondly thought of at the time, "And as for my age mister Heathcliffe, I'm twenty-nine if you must know."
"I'm sorry?" said Rose not hearing his soft mutter over the crackle of the fire.
"Nothing," said the man, "You just don't look that age, I'd have put you much younger. Pretty girl like you, unmarried, I would have only put you at twenty-five at the highest."
Rose fussed her fingers over the absent space on her wedding finger, a habit she'd developed whenever anyone mentioned her status, "Yes, well I'm a career woman, I haven't got time for a marriage."
"A career woman? What career would that be then, modelling, pop star, nurse?"
Rose shook her head as he teased her, "You have already seen my identity badge and unless you have been away from the television for the passed five years you'll know full well who I am. I'm Rose Tyler, alien liaison officer for the Torchwood Institute, its my job to make sure any of the people we encounter as our result of our outreach programme don't try to blow us to bits."
"Aliens are people too," said Rose, the familiar line tripping off her tongue with a practised tone. Earth was still growing used to the existence of aliens and Rose was used to the prejudice against them.
The room fell silent but there was no discomfort, the gentle crackle of the fire and the howl of the wind only punctuated here and there as the old man drew a shuddery breath before wheezing out a desperate cough. In the dim light Rose could see the paleness of his cheeks despite the mirth of his personality and it pained her. She knew despite her care he would need a hospital soon, the cough alone confirmed that. She helped him to drink once more, realising moments later that she was gently stroking his hair as she did so. She snatched her hand away and held it in her lap, looking down at the ridiculous fluffy slippers she wore.
"You don't look like a liaison officer to me," said the voice beside her, "What did you do before you became the face of alien relations?"
Rose sighed softly, her hand coming up to play with the chain around her neck, its pendant still concealed behind the jumper she wore. She ran her finger over the familiar bumps, each one memorised by her fingertips. She looked at the man before her, seeing the gentle nature in his grey, old eyes. She saw the pain there too, concealing his agony and something in that look that told her he would not be on the earth for very long. She had gone to a priest once, wanting to confess, to talk about all that had passed in her life but the fear that someone would tell her secrets kept her silence. Why did the old man before her with his sparkling eyes and quick wit seem like the peace she had waited for?
"I was in mourning," she said softly, "For a very long time for a very dear friend."
"A lover?" said the old man, "You have that look in your eyes, its always in the eyes, the look only a woman who has loved can get."
"He wasn't a lover, he was…we were…we were us. I loved him, I think he loved me in his way but he was complicated. He was in pain, I don't think he could ever give anyone his heart, not fully."
"Perhaps fear kept him from telling you," he said, his bony hand reaching out and settling over those in her lap. The movement proved to much for him and he cried out in pain, clutching at his chest and falling back against the pillow. Rose was on her feet in a second, comforting him and aiding him until his breathing found a more regular pace.
"You really need a doctor," she said, "I'll get my mum to sit with you while I go to the town to get someone."
"I would not send a stray dog out in this storm," said the man, his hand finding a grip on hers and anchoring her to his side, "I'm beyond the help of medicine now child."
Rose felt tears prick her eyes at his words, an affection for the man before her tugging at her heart, "Now don't say that, I'll have you well, you'll see and then when you are I will help you find your friends and see you home to them."
Rose saw the sadness fall across him again and saw her own pain reflected in his eyes.
"I have no friends," he said softly, "Not anymore."
"You've got me," said Rose, remembering a time when she had said those words to another lost soul, "I don't have any friends either, no one compared to…"
"He was called The Doctor, I never knew his real name but Doctor suited him somehow. He was a stubborn git like you too," said Rose, a smile playing on her lips at the thought, "He was wonderful too, kind, loving, he used to read to me sometimes when he wasn't running around like a mad thing. I loved the life we had and then he just…"
"You really loved him didn't you?"
Rose looked down at the bony, wizened hand she held, "I couldn't have not loved him, he needed me. I seem to attract people who need my help in some way. He'd never have admitted that he needed me though, he'd call me a stupid ape for saying so."
Rose breathed a deep sigh and she felt the tremor in the old hand, she saw him struggling to hold back a cough as he lay back against the bed. She'd never seen anyone die of old age before, not right before her eyes but she recognized it. Saw each breath becoming a struggle. He had asked her what she had done, he wanted to know and for some reason she trusted him, trusted the man with the deep grey eyes and cool, bony hands.
"He wasn't human," she said after a pause, "He was an alien, the last of his race."
She waited for the laugh, the gasp of disbelief but all that came was a grasp on her hand.
"I knew you had a look of another world about you, when you came to me on the Moor I thought the faerie folk had sent one of their kin to fetch me away."
"I'm nothing but human," said Rose, "That was the problem but it didn't stop us. From the day we met we were best friends, the Doctor and me. He was so different back then, tall, dark, big ears, rich northern accent and he was so very sad. He took my hand and he told me to run and we never stopped. Can I…can I tell you about him?"
"I have always loved a good story," said the man, "Tell me Rose Tyler of how you ran."
Once the story had begun Rose found it came to her easily, every detail so clear in her mind and her age giving her the eloquence to represent them. Her patient listened with interest when he could and even when he dropped in and out of fitful slumber Rose continued her tale, only pausing on the odd occasion when wither Pete or her mum interrupted her to enquire after her patient and for Rose to ask if the storm showed any signs of waning. The answer was always negative and her heart would sink to her shoes as she looked down at the frail form on the bed but he would give her a small, sad smile and beg her to continue.
She felt a peace pass over her, like some great exorcism as she told of her pain when her Doctor had regenerated, her joy when she saw the same man beneath the new face, the rollercoaster of their life afterwards. She unashamedly spoke of her growing love, the love she longed to be returned but knew never could be. She had thought another spasm of pain had taken Heathcliffe as she saw the tears in his eyes but the emotion in his voice showed her that it was her tale he wept for. Rose dried his eyes and softened the pillow behind him, noticing with alarm the translucent pallor of his face. Again he begged her to continue and again she complied until her breath stilled in her throat as she remembered their last adventure.
"Rose?" came the question as her lips suddenly felt too dry to move.
She choked on a sob and his hand tightened around hers, a gesture of support that he had no idea of the meaning behind for her.
"I don't know if he knew what would happen," she said the tears already flowing down her cheeks, "He knew something was wrong the second we got there and then there were the ghosts. People all over the place seeing ghosts, even Mum. Of course he had to find out what was happening and it led us to Torchwood. My Mum was on board and I knew something was wrong the second he pulled her out of the TARDIS instead of me. If I'd stayed inside like he wanted me too then…but I couldn't, then there were Daleks and Cyberman and people from the other Earth we'd been to, Mickey, Dad. The Doctor worked it all out, what had to be done to stop them all but he wanted me safe. He sent me across the void but I couldn't leave him. I went back to him, to help him. That's when it happened, that's when I…"
Rose stopped and buried her face in her arms down on the duvet, sobbing uncontrollably. She felt the hand in her hair, gently stroking her long blonde tendrils that hung still half damp around her shoulders. She heard him hushing her, heard him speaking in a language she couldn't make out until the words began to surface in her memory. She shot up to sitting looking down at him, her gaze grabbing his own. She saw the tremor of fear in his eyes at his expression and her gaze softened, she didn't know the language and no one could speak it even if it was known.
"I'm sorry," she said, "I don't know what came over me."
She saw the man raise a hand, the effort apparent on his stony features as he brushed away a tear from her cheek, "He would not want you to cry for him Rose Tyler, he'd want you to live for him."
"But I can't, not without him beside me. I died that day."
"Hush now," said Rose, resting his hand back on the bed and wiping away her tears, "You're exhausted and you need to rest otherwise you shan't get well."
"We both know, rest or not, that I am hardly likely to get well. You never asked what I was doing out on the Moor at eleven at night in an unnatural storm."
"You told me not to take up my elders," said Rose, "and you got me talking on the one subject I could talk for hours on. Go on then, why were you on that lonely Moor at eleven at night in an unnatural storm?"
"I was searching for a light in the darkness," said the man on the bed, a look passing over his features as if he had finally decided something, "I was searching for the place my love has rested for so many years. I was always the lonely wanderer, moving from place to place but she was home, always home."
Rose moved to get up but the hand in hers gripped tighter again and she remained where she was, a cold setting into her bones like she had never felt before.
"I was searching for my beloved, the one I lost," said the man, his hand coming up with a great effort to her throat, gently hooking the chain around her neck onto his finger. He pulled it loose from her jumper, allowing the gold of the TARDIS key dance in the fire light, "She's barely aged and yet I've passed through eleven hundred years alone."
Rose's eyes widened in disbelief and surprise as the key on her chain lighted in his hand, a familiar warmth coming from it. Her hand came up to clutch his and she looked down at him, tears welling in her eyes as she searched the depths of his. She saw it then, the memory of blue, the memory of brown. She pressed her free hand to his chest and felt the erratic but familiar double beat.
He nodded solemnly, tears coming to his eyes as he clutched her hands to his chest, "I wanted to see you one last time."
"Its you, its really you," said Rose, "Oh my God, they'll never believe this, I'll fetch Mum, I'll…"
"Rose," came the desperate gasp, "Please don't call them, I don't have long."
"No, you'll live, you'll regenerate like you did before," she said not knowing whether to laugh or cry, hit him or hug him.
"I can't," said the Doctor, "Thirteen lives, each Time Lord has thirteen lives. This is my last, I've regenerated twice since we last saw each other and I grew old in this form."
"But you can't die, you can't you…I love you."
"Oh Rose, only you could say that to this decrepit old creature before you," said the Doctor as she laid her head down on his chest, tears coming to her eyes as she heard the rattle of each shuddery breath.
"I can still see the boy I fell in love with," she said, changing her hand to grip his, their fingers entwining, "Right here. How did you get here? Why now?"
"I didn't mean to come, I have searched for a millennium for you but never found you. I got old, I knew my time was near so I set the TARDIS for where Gallifrey once existed. I was going to park the TARDIS in the dust and die with my people but then she changed course without my say so and we fell through the void. She died on impact, I think…I think she meant to, she wanted to bring me here. When I stepped outside I recognized the London we'd left Mickey in, saw the Zepplins still in the sky. I went to Pete's house and the housekeeper told me you'd all taken a residence here. I had little money or the wits to barter myself onto any good transport so I took the slow path, I walked."
"Walked?" cried Rose, "Doctor its hundreds of miles."
"I would have walked five times the distance for you," said the Doctor, stroking the golden hair splayed across his chest, "I just wanted to see you. I wanted to die with the one person who was my equal in life, the only one who I truly loved. I'm only sorry I can't be the man I was, to see you again with those eyes. I almost was when you were speaking, I could almost feel myself back in those days when I was nothing more than a stupid boy."
"A nine hundred year old stupid boy," said Rose, sniffling back the tears that wanted to fall, "Is there nothing I can do to help you?"
"You already have," murmured the Doctor, "Now I want to help you."
Rose sat up and her eyes met his, so familiar to her that she couldn't fathom how she had not recognized him. He'd searched for her for over a millennium and she had thought ten years a long time. The gently stroked back his wild, white hair. Smiling sadly as she thought of when she had been unable to run it through her fingers or when the state of his hair showed the state of his mind. The Doctor's cold fingers closed round hers as another wave of pain took him and she soothed him gently, seeing the colour drain even further from him.
"Rose," he said, his voice hoarse with more ragged breaths, "You cannot always mourn for me, you're young, beautiful and I want you to be free. Fall in love, get married, have babies, have what I could never have."
"Street corner, two in the morning getting a taxi home," said Rose causing the Doctor to smile at the memory, "I can't though Doctor, no one…how can I love anyone when I love you."
"Because I want you to. I came here with no intention of telling you who I was. I wanted to beg for your help and die in my silence. All I wanted was to see that you were happy and safe. You were such a quiet little creature before you started talking about our life and then you came alive. It pains me to think that your smile only brightens in a memory of something long passed, you deserve so much more than a legacy of me."
Rose brought his thin hand to her cheek and rested lightly against it, "Loving you, whether here or not has been my only pleasure since the day I met you but I will try because I know you will haunt me if I don't."
The Doctor laughed but it turned into another pained cough, this one forcing him to near break Rose's fingers in the agony. Rose tried not to cry in alarm as she felt one heart stop beating and the other fall into an erratic rhythm. She watched the cold realisation pass over the Doctor's face as each breath became more of a struggle.
"Just lie still," she said pressing her lips to his forehead, "I'm with you Doctor, I won't let go. I promised I'd always hold your hand."
"When I am gone Rose I want you to bury me out on the Moor, find a solitary quiet place that finds the first sun of the morning and lay me there," said the Doctor, taking all the strength he had to speak, "Don't mark my grave."
"Rose don't beg me otherwise. Coming to you was my absolution, my sacrifice. I only hope it was enough," he said giving her hand a gentle tug to pull her onto the bed beside him. She lay next to him, her body shaking with repressed sobs as she felt utterly helpless. She knew then he had waited, waited until he saw her peace before he let himself go. He had always done everything for her, now she had to be brave for his sake.
"Rose Tyler are you frightened?"
"So am I," said the Doctor, "I don't know what happens now."
Rose propped herself up on her elbow, watching his eyes slide shut as the strength to keep them open failed him. His breathing was all that echoed in the silence of the room. Rose stroked his hair, singing softly to him as she had done to his first form whenever nightmares of the Time War had claimed him.
"They're coming to take you home Doctor," she said softly, "The whole of Gallifrey is waiting to take you home where you'll be safe, no more running. I will always love you Doctor but now you need to sleep, you're so tired. You're safe in my arms, you can sleep."
"Rose Tyler…" was the rasped whisper at her ear as his heart faltered and his body shuddered, "I love you."
"They're waiting," whispered Rose, "Go home to your people."
She pressed a soft kiss to his lips before laying her head back against his chest, listening to the slowing heart beat and the shallow breaths as if they were the most beautiful music in the universe. She could never tell how long she laid there, how long until the rhythm against her cheek stopped. She lay there for a long time afterwards, tears running silently down her face. Outside the storm began to quiet and she felt a sad smile tug at her lips, that unnatural storm, a world in mourning for the extraordinary man who lay in her arms.
"I always thought the weather responded to your mood," she said softly, pushing up to look down on his features and pleased to see the faintest trace of a smile on his lips. She brushed back his hair one last time before gently taking the TARDIS key from around his neck and placing it in his hands, closing them over his chest.
"Rose?" came a voice from the door.
"Hey Mum," she said, not able to tear her eyes away from the man before her, "He didn't make it."
"We'll have to tell his family, did you find out who he was?"
"He never told me his name," whispered Rose, a small smile catching her features, "But he asked to be buried out on the Moor, where the morning sun catches it. There's a little place out by Hay Tor, its beautiful on a summer morning."
"Rose we should really…"
"Mum I promised him."
"Ok sweetheart," said Jackie coming over and gripping her daughter's shoulders, "Was it peaceful?"
"Oh yes," whispered Rose, "I told him a story, he loved a good story."
"And then a million Daleks flew from the centre of every ship and descended towards planet Earth. The brave captain Jack rounded up all the troops he could find even though he knew they could all die. He had to give the Doctor and Rose time to finish the Delta wave to defeat the Dalek army…"
Rose laughed at the astonished gasps from the group of children before her. The wind whipped up her now silver grey hair as she sat in the early morning sunshine on a rock at the base of Hay Tor.
"What happened then?"
"Well that is another story to be told another time," said Rose, pushing up to her feet with a little more effort than she ever used to have, "You have to go to school."
Several groans of protest went up but a handsome dark haired man stepped up to begin ushering them away.
"I think you've had enough of your Gran's tales," he said, taking the hands of the two youngest of his five children, Rose's grandchildren.
"But Daddy I want to know what happens in the story," said the youngest, Michael.
"And you have the whole of time to hear it," said his father, "Now come on, kiss Gran goodbye."
Rose enveloped each child in turn with a hug before watching them scamper off through the heather and bracken, their eldest sibling keeping them in check. Her son pressed a kiss to her cheek.
"I don't know where you get your stories from Mum but they love them," he said, giving her a quick hug.
"I'll tell you one day Jonathan," she said softly, "But until then all you need to know is that you'll hear more in the morning. Now get that family of yours to school."
"Bye Mum," said Jonathan, "And say goodbye to Dad for me when he decides to stop chasing after that old dog of his."
"I will," said Rose, waving after his form as he made off after his children. She sat back down on the rock and watched as the sunlight danced across the floor before her, illuminating a small part of the earth, bare of bracken, where several stones made up a small dry headstone. A shadow fell over her and she looked up with a smile, allowing herself to be helped to her feet.
"Am I interrupting?" came the soft, American drawl that had always brought her so much comfort.
"Just thinking, I was telling the children about Satellite Five but I couldn't talk about when he…Its been forty years today you know since he died."
"I know but he's watching over us, even now. He'd be proud of you Rose."
"He'd be proud of us," said Rose stepping into her husband's embrace, "He always loved the celebrity, now my grandchildren will know his name even if they never know the real him. I'm so glad I found you again Jack, he would be too, although he won't be too impressed that I married one of my pretty boys."
"Not so pretty anymore," said Jack, fingering his grey hair as it blew in the Devonshire wind.
"Oh I don't know," said Rose, "You look alright to me, for an old git."
"Hey, less of the old Mrs Harkness. Come on, breakfast time and Spock's getting hungry."
As if on cue Rose felt the brush of her husband's pet Jack Russell as he nudged her leg for attention, she knelt down to fuss him before getting to her feet once more.
"You go on ahead, I'll just be a little longer."
Jack pressed a kiss to her cheek before leaving her to her thoughts, a spring in his step too sprightly for a man of seventy-nine but Rose knew that somehow he would always be young at heart. She stared down at the discreet grave at her feet. A light breeze blew up around her but she didn't shiver. Her hand hung at her side and she smiled as she almost felt the cool of familiar fingers slip into it. She didn't turn to look, he was never there if she did but out of the corner of her eye she could make out his shape. Today she saw the gentle rustle of light brown hair and a long fawn coat, perhaps tomorrow would bring the tall, dark stranger and his faint smell of leather. She smiled and took in a breath of the crisp morning air.
"Fancy a walk?" she said before making off over into the Moor Land, "Good because Jonathan told me this funny thing that happened at Torchwood the other day and I know how much you like a good story."
Jack Harkness smiled as he watched his wife walk out onto the Moors, knowing both his and her first love walked beside her. He had been blessed to return to her side but their trio was incomplete but he knew as he walked the dance of her silver hair in the wind that they did not have to wait long until they would race through the stars once more, forever young and forever free. He saluted to thin air before blowing a kiss up to the heavens.
"You take care of her out there old man."
And somewhere, in the heather and bracken, echoing around the Tors came the memory of ancient engines that would one day bring them all home.