The Doctor watched Jack and Martha from the centre of the Tardis as they started to swap tales about previous alien encounters. As he watched his two companions conversing, he felt his thoughts drift back, as they often did, to Rose. He wondered what she was doing, if she was still with Mickey and if she still thought of him at all. He knew he would never forget her, and he knew he would always resent the fact he never told her he loved her. She would hate the thought of Martha being there with him, he knew that, but he knew that he couldn't stand being alone again, not after her. It wasn't the same, but it was a small comfort to know there was someone with him who cared if he lived or died. He felt a tear roll down his cheek as her face became clearer in his mind and he crept away to a corner of the Tardis to be alone for a while. He sank down to the floor next to a pile of Rose's belongings that he had never been able to give back to her and ran his hand over her bag, pulling out the T-shirt that was poking through the open zip. He let the material run through his fingers, remembering how she felt against him whenever he hugged her. He held the top up to his face and smelled it, more tears prickling his eyes as her sweet, familiar smell filled his head again. With shaking hands, he unzipped the bag for the first time since she had left. Why it had taken him this long, he didn't know. He curiously pulled out a small black box he had never seen before from the bottom of the bag and removed the lid, feeling his breath catch in his throat as he saw what it contained. A paper hat from a Christmas cracker, a few blades of grass, a child's drawing and a piece of cracked glass didn't seem that much, but it meant so much to him. The hat was from their last Christmas together, the grass was from their visit to New Earth, the drawing was one of him and the Tardis by Chloe Webber and the glass was from the sanctuary base where they had encountered The Beast. In true Rose-style, she had scavenged small, meaningless items from different worlds and made them special. In the bottom of the box was an envelope with his name on it. He opened it carefully and pulled out the letter.
If you're reading this, then there's a good chance we've said goodbye for the last time, as I know I won't be letting you read it if I'm there. I also know it probably happened quite suddenly, as I refuse point-blank to leave you by choice, which means I may not have had the chance to say this.
I love you, Doctor. You have changed my life completely and shown me things I would never have seen if we had never met. From the first time you told me to run, you have been protecting me. You've saved my life countless times, and for that I am so grateful.
I can't find words to express how much you mean to me. You've taken my life and made it exciting. I know, however, that every perfect situation has to go wrong at some point, so I suppose this is my advance way of saying goodbye. Even as I look over at the new you now, I wonder how many surprises you still have to spring on me. Can't wait!
Anyway, I think we're about to land soon, so I'd better stop writing before you see what I'm doing.
I will always be,
The Doctor felt tears running down his face and he made no move to get rid of them. For once he just wanted to be miserable.
The Doctor closed his eyes as he tried not to let the unmistakable American accent get to him.
"Not now, not now" he mouthed to himself before getting to his feet. Sure enough, he came face to face with Captain Jack Harkness
"Doctor, are you OK?" That was Martha.
"Fine," he replied. "Never better" he added quietly to himself.
There was a pause before Jack spoke again.
"Well, we landed ten minutes ago, so are you coming out?"
The Doctor sighed quietly and emerged from his hiding place. Seeing his not-carefully-hidden-enough tear-stained face, Jack spoke again.
"Are you sure you're OK?" he asked, as the Doctor pocketed the small piece of paper in his hand.
"I'm always OK."
Martha cast a sideways glance at Jack.
"You were thinking about Rose, weren't you?" she asked softly.
Emotions unknown to the Doctor before Rose flooded both of his hearts and he had to hastily blink back tears. When he next spoke, to Martha's surprise, his tone was fairly bitter.
"Honestly, you're on an unknown planet and you've been sitting inside this box for ten minutes waiting for me. Come on."
He darted past them to the doors of the Tardis and wrenched them open, reeling back in surprise as a hoard of angry locals crowded round the door roared their disapproval.
"I'm guessing we either crashed a party or they really don't like visitors" Jack commented.
Martha stared at him. Then she looked back outside to the mob of angry people. They had human shapes, but they had narrow slits for eyes and noses, and their teeth were sharp and pointed. Each one had a pale, greenish tinge to their skin and their eyes were all pupils.
"Why aren't they coming in?" Martha asked the Doctor, who was studying them closely.
"They can't. They need to be invited in. That's one thing about these guys, they'll kill you, but they'll do it politely. Good manners are really important to them."
Martha's mouth dropped open.
"If they can't come in unless invited…..You mean they're vampires?"
Jack snorted and the Doctor grinned, causing a hot blush of embarrassment to grace Martha's cheeks.
"Oh, I love how humans' imaginations work" laughed Jack. "Vampires don't exist, Martha. Well, I've never met one."
"Then what are they?"
The Doctor paused before answering.
Martha stared at them.
"How can they be humans? I'm human, and I don't look like that!"
Jack looked at her patronisingly.
"They've evolved. You're forgetting we've travelled in time. And this is only one type of human. Even in the early 21st century, you're all different. Different races. Well, this is one type of human race in the…..when are we?"
"About 9000 years into your future, Martha. And don't look now, Jack, but I see a familiar figure here."
Jack joined the Doctor at the doors of the Tardis and gaped. In amongst the angry mob of the future human race was himself.