A/N:

Okay, here it is, the very last chapter of Come Back to Me. I am really going to miss this story, and I selfishly hope that you all will too. My sequal is going to be called "Return for Me," and I hope you want to read it as much as I want to write it. An easy way to find it once I post it (which hopefully will be by the end of the week) is by putting me on your author alert list.

I just want to say thank you to everyone who has been so wonderful and reviewed this story. It is my first one ever and if you start at the beginning and read all the way through you can see how I've improved. So, thanks again for your support. I would mension you all by name but I would leave someone out and feel terrible, so you all know who you are.

I write a bit about Gallifrey and Time Lord Tradition in this chapter. Much of it is cannon, as I've done some research for this story. A lot of it is made up though, so if I make some grievous error, please just forgive me and chalk it up to poetic license.

As stated before, I own nothing. woe is me.


Chapter 16

Forever

Rose was pregnant.

The Doctor had known from the moment he'd switched on the scanner and heard a sound that certainly didn't belong in her monocardiac system. The second heartbeat was galloping; beating out an impossibly fast rhythm that while alarming for most listeners, was perfectly normal at this stage of fetal development. He'd gaped at it; actually just stood there with his jaw hanging open expecting the vibrant three dimensional image to disappear if he dared to blink. One couldn't blame him really; he'd still been reeling from the discovery that Rose could quite possibly outlive him; that she might actually be able to deliver on that promise of forever he'd never quite allowed himself to believe in.

How many times had he denied the possibility of a normal life? A stone church came to mind; reapers swarming its painted windows as a frightened bride and groom told him their story. He'd envied those two, despite the horrible fate that awaited them all, and bared his soul a little in his reply, "Street corner, two in the morning, getting a taxi home. I've never had a life like that." And to Rose on that painful day on a cold beach in Norway, "Here you are, living a life day after day, the one adventure I can never have." But the words that were really coming back to haunt him now were not all his protestations of the mundane, but something very simple that hadn't crossed his mind again, "Never say never ever." Four simple words he'd used to warn Rose that they couldn't be together forever and instead they mocked him with complete reversal. Here it was, the fulfillment of all his dreams and the culmination of all his fears; a woman to spend the rest of his life with, a child in her womb, a second chance. Domesticity, thy name is Rose.

He'd meant to break it to her gently; explain in detail exactly why she was going to live a few hundred years longer than generally expected and then smoothly transition in the tiny detail that she was carrying his child. But did he follow that plan? No, he had to give in to that one unfortunate personality quirk this body came with and blurt it out in the rudest way possible. Moron, thy name is Doctor.

So now he found himself gaping again; shock at his bluntness evident in both his and Rose's expressions. The love of his life lay not five feet away from him, one delicate hand cupped protectively against the curve of her stomach. Her soft skin, already pale due to consisting of entirely brand new cells, waned dangerously close to gray and the Doctor stepped forward, concerned that she'd topple from the infirmary cot. He placed a hand gently on her shoulder and held his breath, waiting for her to speak.

The Doctor watched, horrified as Rose buried her face in both delicate hands. He quickly moved to sit alongside her, drawing her shaking body into his arms and rocking back and forth. "I'm so sorry Rose," He soothed, both hearts almost choking him in their effort to crawl out of his throat. "We'll get through this, I promise." Rose took a deep shuddering breath and the Doctor pulled back a bit, both hands gripping her upper arms, and desperately looked into her eyes. The huge grin plastered across her face was a bit of a surprise.

Rose let out a tremendous laugh, her mirth overflowing into streams of delicate tears. "Sometimes the genes just aren't compatible," she managed to mock him; throwing his exact words back at him between deep gasping breaths. She pointed at him rudely with one white finger, while clutching her slightly swollen stomach with the other hand; hiding for a moment the inspiration for this giggle fit. "You said it would take a while and we got it right the first try!" Rose took another deep breath and continued, "Is having 'super sperm' just another Time Lord super power?"

"Cheeky git," The Doctor scolded, relief and joy pouring out of him in continuous waves. "I thought you were upset."

"Nope," she insisted jumping up from her place on the cot. Her slippered feet padded across the metal floor as she quickly moved closer to the console. She slid both hands down the view screen, tracing the features of their child with her fingertips. "This is brilliant!" More joy bubbled out of Rose as she tilted her head back to erupt in more glorious laughter. "We're having a baby!"

Rose's unadulterated happiness was contagious and he found himself grinning like a mad man in the face of her joy. He moved to join her, wrapping an arm around her shoulders and pulling her into the side of his body, molding her form to his. He copied Rose's tactile exploration, his long fingers following hers in their incoherent pattern on the magnified image.

Her hand stalled in the center of the screen and she quieted, her giggles ceasing for the moment. She looked up at his beaming face, her soul in her eyes this time. "There's only one heart." She said, her voice light, but questioning as she turned to face him. "I s'pose it's silly really," she added, reaching up to caress both sides of his chest through the blue jacket, "but I'd rather hoped for two."

The Doctor smiled indulgently and smoothed a stray strand of golden hair over the elegant curve of her ear, "My people were actually born with just one heart," he explained, causing Rose's jaw to drop in surprise. "We're actually quite similar to humans the first time around. We grow up, we grow old, and just as we're about to die, we regenerate and grow a second heart. That's when we stop aging."

Rose glanced back over her shoulder at the image and bit her lower lip. "Do you reckon our baby will be able to do that," she asked him, sounding a bit unsure at this point.

The Doctor placed his hands over her's where they lay against his dual hearts and broke into a smile that could melt glass. "Oh yes," he answered enthusiastically, shaking his head for dramatic effect, "She may be little, but she is definitely a Time Lady." He moved over to the other end of the console, all but dragging Rose by the hand in his enthusiasm. After flipping a few switches and turning a lever the same swirling lines from before appeared on the screen.

"That's my DNA," Rose stated matter-of-factly, while gesturing to the familiar double-helix.

"Right you are Rose," he replied proudly, while pushing another set of buttons. A strange image appeared next to Rose's DNA, the same kind of swirling lines, only many more of them all packed together and made of many, many more colors. "That," he told her, "is my DNA. Well," he amended, tugging on the lobe of one ear, "It's not really called that but you get the idea."

"Blimey!" Rose exclaimed, flashing him an incredulous look, "it's amazing you look human at all."

"Oi," he answered her, sounding hurt, "it's you lot that take after us you know." Rose just rolled her eyes. "It's true. All those so called 'humanoids' actually take after the Time Lords. We were here first."

Rose lay her head against his arm for a moment in appeasement, "alright superman," she soothed, her lighthearted smile warming him to the core, "got anything else to show me?"

"Right!" he exclaimed, getting back to the task at hand. A third picture flashed onto the screen, the same number of swirling lines as the Doctor, but the colors were similar to Rose's, with a few of the Doctor's unique ones thrown in. "This is the baby's DNA," he explained, "it consists of many human components, but is structured like a Time Lord. My genes are very dominant, so she should be able to regenerate all twelve times." The Doctor frowned, his voice suddenly growing quiet, "Our daughter's going to outlive the both of us by quite a bit." A sick dread bubbled up inside his stomach, threatening to become despair. He'd finally found his forever and in the process doomed his child to a lonely future. Once he and Rose were gone, and Tyler too by that point, she'd be all alone.

Rose reached for her lover's hand and interlaced their fingers together. As usual she knew exactly the right thing to say. "We'll just have to make sure she has company then, wont we?"

The Doctor broke into a half smile, "More Tylers on the way?"

"Hmm," Rose agreed, letting her tongue peak out the side of her mouth in a trademark cheeky grin. "Time Lord Tylers."

The Doctor shuddered, remembering a certain Jackie Tyler and her stinging palm. "The universe better watch out now."

"You're not kidding," Rose caressed her belly, "So how far along am I?" she asked him, moving across the room to once again look at the display of their baby.

"Hard to say really," The Doctor replied, causing Rose to frown a bit. "If I go by fetal development alone I'd guess you're just about to start your second trimester. She's got a skeletal structure, all her basic organs, and fingerprints. So the baby is almost fully formed, apart from her dainty size, which right about now could be compared to a satsuma."

"But?" She prompted him, as if waiting for the other shoe to fall. The Doctor tightened his grip around her shoulders for a second in a sideways hug.

"But," he continued animatedly, "I have no way of knowing how long those trimesters are supposed to be. Humans take about forty weeks to gestate, Time Lord roughly twice that. You could have anywhere from six to twelve months to go. We'll just have to take this one day at a time and see what happens."

"Okay," Rose swallowed convulsively and managed to tear her gaze away from their child's image long enough to look at the Doctor. "I'm going to remain calm and not become a complete nutter at the idea of being pregnant for a year." Rose took another deep breath. "Oh my god a year!"

The Doctor took a deep breath of his own and turned to cup her face in his hands. "Rose," he cautioned firmly, "try and keep it together okay, it might not be that long." Rose didn't look convinced; she bit her bottom lip as if trying not to cry. He stifled a groan, a whole year of these mood swings and he might just go mad. "Look." He said, placing a hand on the screen, right next to the tiny wriggling form, "she's perfect Rose, absolutely perfect, and she's ours."

Rose placed her palm over the Doctor's long fingers and smiled again, her laugh came out choked, but was genuine nonetheless, "she is beautiful isn't she?"

The Doctor moved in closer behind his love and lightly caressed her ear with his lips, "Just like her mother."

Rose beamed, all vestiges of the brief panic attack gone, "I'm gonna be a mum!"

The Doctor slid his hand from the screen to enfold Rose in both arms, her back to his chest. "According to Tyler," he said seriously, "you already are."

"Seriously?" Rose turned in his embrace to gaze up at him, "He's a great kid and all, but he just met me?"

"That's not how he sees it," The Doctor led Rose back to the cot and sat her up on the stool he'd been occupying a few minutes ago. He stood in front of her, fidgeting slightly. "I suppose it's my fault really. I was so sure I had this amazingly domestic scene set up for us in the TARDIS. I never stopped to realize it was actually just a couple of bachelors traveling the universe." The Doctor paused, and looked down at his feet for a moment, ashamed at not knowing his son better. "He was a baby," he admitted, "and so I could share things with him that I couldn't with someone who might judge me. His bedtime stories were of bygone days and dreams of another life; tales of my home world, and memories of love." He looked up at Rose then, unsure of how to continue.

"You told him about me." It wasn't a question; his Rose was nothing if not insightful.

"Yeah," he admitted. "And I suppose at some point you became a bit of a hero in his eyes. He dreams of us all being a family together; said as much when I put him to bed just before meeting you here."

Rose leaned in and placed her forehead against The Doctor's, "I suppose If we're going to have this little one running around calling me 'mum' it wouldn't hurt for Tyler to use it too. Although," she added playfully, "It is going to be a bit strange at first, him being only about six years younger than I am."

The Doctor pulled her close again, his love for this woman threatening to overwhelm him once again. "Sometimes," he told her affectionately, "you make me feel just like the old man I pretend not to be." Rose smiled and leaned in to brush his lips with hers in a brief kiss. "And other times, "he continued, returning her grin, "you make me feel so very young; as if the universe has just begun for me and I have my whole life ahead.

"You do." Rose answered him, placing her palm against one of his freckled cheeks and caressing his cheekbone with one thumb. "You have a whole life ahead of you with me. And you never have to be alone again."

The Doctor leaned into her caress and closed his eyes, keeping the tears from escaping by sheer determination. No one had ever made him that promise but Rose. Even Tyler would grow up and find a life of his own, just as Susan had, just as they all had. But Rose wanted to stay with him forever, and now, (he thought about those amazing little time vortex particles sprinkled throughout her DNA) now she could.

He fingered the slight weight in his left trouser pocket for a moment, verifying that it as still there, before wrenching open his eyes. Gazing into Rose's lovely hazel orbs he willed her to see all the love, and longing he held for her. Reaching for her hand and intertwining their fingers he said, "Come with me."


Rose held the Doctor's hand and let him lead her down into a section of the TARDIS that she had never seen before. Down, down, down into her depths they'd traveled, past the living quarters and the wardrobe room, past the kitchen and the library, beyond two gardens, and the swimming pool. She'd followed him down too many dark corridors and spiral staircases to count, until finally they emerged into a massive stone chamber. The room reminded Rose of an ancient cathedral, complete with balconies and flying buttresses, and she half expected Dracula to peak out from one its dark alcoves. Strange symbols accented the doorways and pillars; circles with some sort of scroll worked figure eight inside that Rose had never seen before. The purpose for the room however, seemed to be the mysterious stone dome resting in its center.

"What is this place?" She asked the Doctor, whispering in an instinctive respect for holy ground.

"This was," he told her reverently, "My link to the Eye of Harmony."

"What's that?"

"Many, Many centuries ago Rassilon, the first Time Lord, created a massive power source out of a black hole and that event is what made Time Travel possible. He called it the Eye of Harmony, and the TARDIS, and all ships like her, used to be powered by it."

Rose approached the stone dome and rested her hand against the short wall that protected it, "That's a beautiful story," she told him, "sounds a bit like those myths from Earth. You know, like 'how the leopard got its spots,' or 'why rain falls down instead of up."

The Doctor let out a sad smile and took her hand again, "It does sort of sound like a legend doesn't it? My people spoke of Rassilon so reverently it might as well have been. Doesn't matter anymore though; the original eye is gone, burned to dust just like its planet."

"That's why we have to power up at the rift yeah?"

The Doctor just nodded and turned away, leading her out of the chapel. "This isn't what we came to see, come on."

They traveled on a bit further, through more archways adorned with that mysterious figure eight, and finally came to an official looking set of double doors. The Doctor paused then, as if hesitant to go further. Rose was starting to worry now; this man, usually so confident, seem lost somehow, and Rose was at a loss as to how fix him.

"We don't have to go in," she assured him, "We can go right back upstairs to our bedroom. I'll be the damsel in distress; you can be the Lord of Time…" Rose trailed off, flashing him a cheeky grin.

That seemed to knock whatever demons the Doctor was struggling with right out of him, at least for the moment, and he returned her grin with one of those gorgeous smiles she'd come to love so much. "As tempting as that prospect is," he told her lightly, "there is something I wanted to show you."

"All right," she said, standing on her tiptoes to give him a quick kiss. "But my offer still stands should you care to take me up on it."

"Duly noted." He assured her, placing a palm on each door. "But I think you might just want to have a look at this."

Rose gasped in wonder as the Doctor pushed open the double doors with a mighty heave. If she'd thought the stone chamber was impressive, this was unimaginable. Taking a few small steps, she found herself in a garden, set at night with a glorious expanse of stars overhead. Two moons illuminated the silver leaved trees, one of which was so large she almost expected it to tumble out of orbit. Rose kicked off her slippers and buried her toes in the blood red grass, luxuriating in its softness. A stone fountain, adorned with those same circular symbols lay in the center of the garden, its gentle spray creating a soothing trickling sound. Rose approached it and let her fingers drift in the cool water as her eyes gazed toward the horizon. She could just make out a huge city in the distance, its towering spires and massive cathedrals all encased in a large glass dome.

"Where are we?" Rose asked, turning to face the Doctor. The look on his beloved face was all the answer she needed.

"I've dreamed of seeing you in this place." His rough voice was almost as startling as the tears that streamed down each cheek. She'd seen him tear up before, but the sight of her Doctor crying in earnest was almost enough to break Rose's heart. "Each TARDIS was given a place like this," he explained, "a little garden with a holographic sky to help ease the pain of being away from home. If I chose it could be daylight, the two suns turning the sky a glorious burnt orange, but I wanted to see you in the moonlight." His voice cracked with the last word and Rose ran to where he seemed frozen in place to wrap him in her arms.

"What was it called?" She asked him reverently as he buried his face in her neck.

"Gallifrey." The name came out like a prayer, a single word that spoke of so much longing, and regret.

Rose stroked his hair and rocked back and forth just as he'd done for her earlier. "It was beautiful."

The Doctor straightened and viciously rubbed at his eyes, sniffling a bit. "Yes it was," he agreed, a slight but proud smile transforming his features. "It was beautiful, and I didn't appreciate it until it was gone."

Rose took his hand in her's, trying to lend him some comfort. "We're all like that," she told him, "nobody appreciated home until they haven't got one anymore. I'd say it was very human but…"

The Doctor managed a chuckle at that and moved to take her back into his arms. "I wanted to see you here," he told her again. "I needed to see you here."

"Well I'm here," she agreed, "squeezing him tightly, "and I'm not going anywhere."

"That's what I wanted to talk to you about actually," His voice was clear again as he stepped back and buried both hands in this trouser pockets. "You left your family for me."

"You're my family," Rose insisted, interrupting him.

"Yeah, I know Rose," he whined, shuffling his feet a bit. "Can you just let me get this out?"

Rose blushed and then made a gesture that imitated buttoning her lips together.

"Okay," he continued, taking a deep breath. "We've just found out that we're going to be together for a long time and that's amazing. It's more than amazing it's brilliant!" He ran his fingers compulsively through his hair a bit before once more clasping his palm to her's. "But it means I'm going to change."

"What?" Rose looked a little panicked, "Right now?"

"No Rose," he answered, flashing her an indulgent smile, "but someday I will. This body will give up, or I'll be injured enough for it to be fatal, and I'll regenerate again."

"I've been through that before, I can handle it again; especially now that I know what to expect."

"But you don't Rose." He told her, "I could look like anything. I could be, fat, thin, bald, ginger, blond, young or old. I'm over nine centuries old Rose," he added dejectedly, "what if I looked like it."

"First off," Rose told him, "nobody can 'look' nine-hundred old, and secondly, Harrison Ford is like pushing seventy isn't he? And most women on Earth would jump at the chance of having him." Rose reached up a hand to cover the Doctor's mouth before he could shoot it off again. "I loved you with blue eyes, I love you with brown. I loved your big ears and your nose, and your mad grin. I loved your short hair; I love your big hair. I don't know how many times I have to say this, but I'm NEVER leaving you."

The Doctor's big brown eyes softened with Rose's declaration and he reached back into one pocket, pulling out something shiny on a chain. "I was hoping you'd say that, so I brought something for you."

Rose put out her hand and a delicate gold pendant was placed in its center. "I've seen this," she exclaimed in wonder, "all over the old part of the ship.

Her lover moved in close to gently trace the edge of the circular pendant with one long finger. "This is the seal of Rassilon," he explained, pointing to the golden figure eight with the bright red background, "and the colors indicate my family house. On Earth one might mistake it for the infinity symbol; probably an unconscious acknowledgement of my people passed down over time."

Rose stared down at the beautiful piece of jewelry as her eyes began to sting with unshed tears. "You're giving me forever?"

"No Rose," he answered, gently removing the pendant from her palm, "You've already given me that. I'm asking you to marry me." Rose couldn't reply past the lump that had formed in her throat. "Wearing this symbol denotes you as my wife. Of course we can go to Earth, or find a colony out there to do it your way, but my people would have considered you family as soon as you agreed to wear it." He kept speaking when Rose didn't answer. "We won't even begin to examine what they would have thought about you being human…"

"Stop Doctor!" she managed to choke out. "Just stop right there." She laid her palm against the closed fist within which he held the pendant and looked up into his eyes. Her own tears blurred the proof of his anxiety. "Just put it on me okay? Right now." Rose let out a slightly hysterical laugh as she pulled her hair out of the way for him, "before you change your mind."

The Doctor quickly unclasped the golden chain and laid it gently against her throat, softly kissing the skin just below her collarbone where the pendant lay. He looked up then, the fire in his eyes exciting Rose to her very core. "How long are you going to stay with me?" The words came out in a passionate growl.

"Forever," she told him, pulling his head down to meet her's. "Forever."

They came together then, his lips covering her's, her tongue entering his greedy mouth. Rose slid the azure jacket off her lover's shoulders and frantically tugged at the dress shirt where it was tucked into his trousers, desperate to feel the skin underneath. Her hot hands stroked up his back and the Doctor moaned at the contact. Placing a palm firmly between her shoulder blades, he gently lowered them to the burgundy grass, making sure to lean most of his weight on the other hand during their descent. Rose wrapped her legs around his waist, needing to be closer, needing more of him. She was just reached up to burry all ten fingers in his glorious hair when he stopped her; abruptly clutching each wrist and bringing them down to the ground, effectively pinning her beneath him. "How long," he said again, his voice ragged, his breath coming in labored pants, "Are you going to stay with me?"

Rose looked up into his passion filled eyes. If he needed to hear it again she'd say it. She'd scream it to the universe every day until he learned to believe. "Forever," She told him, pouring all of her love and passion into the single word. "I'm gonna love you forever."

"Good," he said softly, releasing her wrists to gently cup her face in his palms. "Because that's how long I need to love you."

Fin