Lasty last last…
The Doctor, Pete and Mickey had gone down to the lower levels to get transport to Stonehenge. Jackie and Rose made a quick detour back to their house, where Rose gathered up everything she wanted and threw it into a bag, and Jackie organised her nanny to stay longer for Dominic. When they met up with the others at Torchwood, there was a van waiting for them. Pete drove, with Jackie beside him, while the Doctor, Rose and Mickey piled in the back.
The drive to Stonehenge, which took the regular three hours (especially with Pete at the wheel), was filled, at first, with a thoughtful silence, until someone made a reference to something, which sparked off a tangent of stories, debates and personal anecdotes. The Doctor, Pete and Mickey soon were immersed in a debate about the positives and negatives about various pieces of alien technology.
"Nah, if you superinfused it to the mainboard it would blow!"
"Mickey, I've done it before!"
"Yeah, but was it a direct patch to the mainboard or to a subsidiary matter control port?"
The Doctor nodded. "Yeah, it was, but it still worked and technically that's patching it straight to the mainboard. Rose, can you settle something?"
"What?" Rose looked up from where she had been quietly talking with Jackie.
"What's better? A Jathar Sunglider, modified with a duo-technic ionic extrapolator, or a Chula Warship, like the one Jack had, but with a slipstream engine and a waveform transmitter?"
Rose attempted to find some English in his sentence. What answer would be appropriate? Think of technology…pretend you know what you're on about…"Oh, I don't know. I'd probably have the Sunglider, but with a slipstream engine and a neutron tetramorphic system."
Both the Doctor and Mickey looked at one another. "That might work, you know. That might work…"
Rose rolled her eyes as Mickey and the Doctor went back to their debate about the Sunglider and what could and couldn't be done to improve it. This was punctuated occasionally by comments from Pete, who, at the wheel, wasn't talking part as much as he would have liked to.
"Mum, I don't know what to do."
"What do you mean, sweetheart?"
Rose kept her voice low, aware that their conversation could be listened in on. "I don't know if I want to leave. I've got a stable life here, a good job, friends, and family. I don't know if I could never see you again now I have to go through it. I don't know what to do. I want to both stay and go. If only there was a definite way of being able to come back…"
Jackie raised her hand and placed it on Rose's. "Sweetheart, you do what feels right. I'd like you to stay, but I know you want to go. You'll never forgive yourself if you don't take this chance. And what about him?"
"What about him?"
"You love him, we can all see it. And he loves you, am I right?" Rose nodded, a shy smile on her lips. Jackie nodded. "There you go. Would you make him leave, alone?"
"He really is alone, you know. His planet's gone…"
Jackie watched Rose as she stared out at the upcoming stone circle, dimly visible in the headlights. "I just don't know if I can never see you again. And Mickey, and Pete…what should I do?"
Pete parked the van and the five got out, looking to the stone circle, which was surrounded by darkness; it was about ten thirty at night, after all. The Doctor walked towards it ahead of the others, and Rose ran to catch him up.
"Oh no – you're not slipping off again."
"Well, last time it was fade, but you know what I mean."
"Rose…" he hesitated, unsure of his words. "You still want to come? With me, and the TARDIS?"
She linked her arm though his. "Yeah…"
"But what about this world? Jackie, Mickey, Pete – they're your family."
"So are you," Rose replied quietly.
"You'll never see them again. Ever."
"I know…I know…I've thought about this, and I made my choice long ago – I told you that two years ago, at Torchwood. The original, that is. I went back to help you of my own free will and choice, you know that. Mum knows and so does Mickey. I haven't changed my mind."
"I can't take you away from this." He stopped walking, near the stones. "I just can't take you away from all this. You finally have a good life, here on a single planet."
Rose stood in front of the Doctor, looking at him calmly. "It's not good. You're missing. I never thought I would see you again, yet here we are. I'm coming with you. No argument."
The Doctor met her stare, his eyes glowing in admiration and love. "I was hoping that you would say that. Travelling alone was terrible…but I didn't want to just assume you would come."
Rose kissed him on the cheek. "You're my Doctor. How could I not come?"
They walked into the centre of the stones together, and stood looking at the portal. It was still glowing a bloody red colour. Mickey, Jackie and Pete came up behind them.
"So…this is goodbye, yeah?" Mickey said quietly to Rose.
"Yeah. Yeah, it is." Rose felt uncomfortable. Mickey's faith in her had lasted so long, and through her constant vanishing and re-appearing he had always been there for her, listening for the sound of the TARDIS and helping them on many occasions. She owed him so much. "Mickey…you…find a girl, get married, yeah? Live a normal life on my behalf." She had tears in her eyes and could see them running down Mickey's face silently. She hugged him tightly, kissing him on the cheek as she did so. "I'll never forget everything you did for me. Before and after I met the Doctor. The girl who gets you will be so lucky."
Mickey smiled, despite his tears. "I'll call one of my kids Rose. And when Dommy's older I'm gonna tell him about his adventurous sister, who ran off to the stars. Make sure you take care of yourself."
She nodded, turning to Pete and Jackie, who were standing together. Pete smiled, holding out his arms and sweeping her into a hug. "You really are my daughter. Just promise me you'll take care of that Doctor, so we won't have to world jump to bail him out."
"Yeah, can do. Thanks for everything, Pete. And make sure you look after mum," Rose whispered in his ear, before turning to Jackie.
Jackie's face was dry, with no sign of tears. She swept her daughter up in her arms; whispering as she did so, "don't worry about us. You just go."
"No, mum. I'm so sorry for everything I put you through, both before and after I met him. I vanished for a year, was always in trouble…I wish I had been a better daughter."
"You were perfect, sweetheart. Now don't you worry. Have a good life, yeah?" She cupped Rose's face in her hands. "We'll be fine here. She passed Rose her bag, which Pete had brought up from the van, then turned to the Doctor. "Look after her."
He smiled, looking between Jackie and Rose. "I swear to you, Jackie, I'll protect her. I can't guarantee her safely, and you know what it's like now – but I will do everything in my power to protect her."
Rose went to stand beside him, her bag over one shoulder. Together, always together, they stood before the portal.
"We just walk through, yeah?"
"Yeah, that's pretty much how it works."
Rose turned one last time before she walked through. "Bye. Thanks for everything. I love you all. And I know they're just cheesy words, but I can't think of anything else to say."
She waved to them as the Doctor held out his hand for her. He turned to Pete, Jackie and Mickey. "Bye then. Don't forget me – Time Lord's don't exist in this universe." His smile faltered a little. "Thanks. Keep defending the earth."
He looked at Rose, who reached out and put her hand in his. Together they walked through the red glow and came out the other side. It was night here, too, exactly the same place only with no one else around. No Jackie, no Mickey, no Pete.
The Doctor released Rose's hand and kneeled down by some equipment. "This is the portal link – phew, it's still holding. Once it's gone, the gap should close by itself. Is there anything that might need to be said or done before I close it?" He looked up at her.
"No," Rose said. "What's done is done." She watched anxiously as he disconnected a heap of wires, and the red haze before them faded to nothing. Rose sighed. That was it. No more Jackie, Mickey, Pete…
"Are you alright?" said the Doctor from next to her. Rose nodded, still staring at the point of where the gateway had been. "Yeah. I will be." She turned away then her eyes spotting the major thing out of place in their current surroundings. The TARDIS seemed to stand out more than usual amongst the green and grey, it's windows glowing warmly. She walked over to the door and opened it.
Stepping inside, Rose felt disbelief and relief. She was back. Dropping her bag onto the floor grilling, she walked thoughtfully over to the console and placed her hands upon it, being careful not to touch anything that might kill them. She really was back here. The console was warm beneath her fingers, the light flickering.
The Doctor was leaning on one of his ship's inner supports behind Rose, watching her. She turned to him, still leaning on the console. "I'm home."
He smiled, bouncing up off the support and wandering over to her, wrapping one arm around her waist and typing on the console keyboard with the other. "Then let's get going. Where to?"
"I don't know. You always ask me and I never know."
Rose couldn't believe this was real. He was here. She was back inside the TARDIS. It was like always…two wanderers among the stars. Two star-crossed lovers – in the sense that they crossed the stars, that is. Not the doom-filled sense – that had been and gone, they had been separated, but now reunited.
The Doctor pulled a face. "Well, what would you like to do?"
"I don't know!" She grinned at him and he let out an exasperated sigh and rolled his eyes. "Let's just go through time and space as always."
The Doctor laughed aloud at this, leaping around the console randomly. "Let's just go… brilliant phrase, that!"
The TARDIS slowly faded from Salisbury Plain, leaving nothing behind, no sign that for once, aliens had actually been there, as so many had always speculated.
Heh. Don't ask about the boys in the van, I just could imagine them having that sort of discussion.
So yeah. That's it. Thankies so much to all people who reviewed. It's nice to read really cool reviews. I'll hopefully be writing again soon, but my exams are coming up so I'll do it when I can! Keep listening for the TARDIS!