Chapter Twenty-Two

Frank opened the patio door. He and Rose stepped through it out into the calm night sky. Rose closed the door and took Frank's hand.

"Rose, what's this about?" he said, "your friend just told me you're leaving again. Where are you going? Is it something you have to do for Torchwood?"

Rose sighed. She sat down in a wooden deck chair and motioned for him to do the same. When he sat down beside her, she took his hands in hers.

"Frank, first off, I just want to say that the past eight months have been fantastic, and I'm so glad I met you."

Frank looked into her eyes.

"I sense a, "but" coming," he said.

Rose nodded. She sighed and collected her thoughts. Frank was such a sweet guy, and she wanted to break this to him gently.

"Frank, you met the Doctor, didn't you?"

Frank nodded.

"Well, he and I…we're more than just friends."

She paused and looked at him.

"You wanna get back with him, is that what this is about?"

Rose turned her eyes to the ground and nodded.

"It's just that…he and I have known each other for three years now, and we both love one another, but…there was this…accident, and we ended up getting separated from each other. Over the past year, I've been living without him. I…never meant to fall in love again. But, I met you, and you were so kind and loving, and…you reminded me of him."

She sighed deeply.

"I…I was lonely and heartbroken, and I never thought I'd see him again, and…before we were separated, he told me he wanted me to go on living my life in honor of him. So I did, but…"

"You got me on the rebound," Frank said, sadly.

Rose gripped his hands.

"Frank, I do love you. I care for you. But…it's more like loving a very dear friend. I've done a disservice to you, Frank. I should have told you upfront about the Doctor, but I really didn't think he was going to come back. Frank, you are such a sweet guy. You deserve someone who will love you with their whole heart and soul. Please understand. I'm not doing this to be cruel. I'm doing this because I love you, and I know there is someone out there for you. The perfect woman. But in order to find her, I have to set you free.

Tears ran down Rose's face.

"I'm sorry, Frank. I'm so sorry."

Frank squeezed her hands.

"Rose, I want you to be happy. I care for you deeply and if the Doctor is the one that you love, and he loves you in return, then you belong with him. Is he a good man? Does he treat you well?"

"Yes, he's a good man, and he treats me like a million pounds."

"Well, when I was speaking to him, he seemed like a nice guy and that's all that matters to me. I just want someone who will treat you like the queen you are."

Rose threw her arms around him and hugged him tightly.

"Will I ever see you again, Rose?" Frank said, when they pulled away.

"I…don't know. I don't think so. Where he's taking me, it's very far away."

"Farther than mobiles?"

Rose nodded.

"It's hard to explain, but we're going very far away, and I won't be able to contact you in any way."

"Is it something to do with Torchwood? Although…the Doctor said he wasn't affiliated with them."

"No, he's not. It's nothing to do with Torchwood. Um…his job is kinda like Torchwood's though. He goes to different planets and helps people. That what I did with him before the accident. That's why Torchwood was a perfect fit for me. But…that's basically what we're going to be doing, travel around, and help others."

"Then, I wish you the best of luck, Rose. I hope you stay safe."

"Oh, trust me; if anyone can protect me, it's the Doctor."

Frank smiled.

"Good."

They gave each other one more huge hug.

"I do love you, Rose."

"I love you too."

She pulled away and smiled at him.

"Actually, there is something you can do for me."

"Yeah?"

"My mum doesn't want to go with us. She has a life here now. If you can keep an eye on her, and dad, and Billie for me, that would be great."

He smiled.

"I would be honored."

"Thank you. I appreciate it."

She looked over at the patio door.

"We better get back in there now before mum does something to the Doctor."

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Rose winced when she neared the living room.

"I swear to God, Doctor. If anything happens to Rose, I will tear a hole in the void, cross over, find you, and rip you apart with my bare hands!"

Rose hurried into the room. She giggled when she saw the Doctor. There it was, the abject fear on his face while he nodded meekly. She could see Martha and Donna looking at each other, unable to believe that this woman intimidated the Doctor. Rose was sure the Doctor would go down on his knees and thank all the deities he could think of, the moment they were over the void.

She walked over to the Doctor's side and put a hand on his shoulder. Jackie looked at her.

"Honey, are you sure you want to do this?"

"Yes, mum, I want to do this."

Jackie sighed.

"Well, I can't stop you from going. I just hope you know what you're giving up when you're going with this man."

"I'm not giving up anything. On the contrary, I'm gaining far more from being with him than staying here."

Jackie stared at the defiant look on her face.

"I s'pose I should be happy. After all, I've wanted far more for you than what I had, and you are thinking outside the box and going after something much bigger than a domestic life. It's just that…ooooh, I just hate when you go off with him and risk your life like this."

"I was risking my life working for Torchwood, so what's the difference?" Rose said, shrugging, "life is full of risks, mum. I could be walking to my car and get hit by a drunk driver, or get mugged, or someone could break in here and murder us all. I know you want me to be safe, but if there's one thing I've learned from the Doctor, it's that safe is boring. It's better to get out there, face danger and see the whole universe than sit at a desk filing paperwork. The Doctor taught me that."

"Wow, you mean one of my teachings actually got through the IPod ear buds and made it into your brain? Maybe there's hope for you yet, Rose."

Rose eyed him.

"Another thing that the Doctor has taught me is patience. In that, I have to be patient and resist the urge to hit him when he makes his snarky little remarks."

Martha and Donna chortled when the Doctor let out an exasperated sigh. He looked back at his other two companions.

"I can already tell I'm gonna be outnumbered now," he muttered.

The three women looked at each other and grinned.

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The Doctor rolled his eyes, as he followed his companions into the TARDIS. They waited long enough for Pete and Billie to come home, so Rose could explain what was happening and tell them goodbye. In the meantime, she had rung up Mickey and Pete and said goodbye to them too. Everyone seemed to say the same thing about him.

That man had better look after you and keep you safe!

The Doctor slammed the door. Taking a deep breath, he looked up at the ceiling and screamed.

"YES, EVERYONE, I WILL TAKE CARE OF ROSE. I WILL NOT LET HER COME TO ANY HARM, SO HELP ME GOD! NOW PLEASE GET OFF MY BACK ABOUT IT!"

He looked over at his companions who were standing by the console with stunned expressions on their faces.

"Um…what was that about?" Rose asked.

"Just doing a teensy bit of venting," the Doctor said, cheerfully, "now that I got that out of my system, it's on to Valpora, and then home sweet universe!"

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(Two weeks later. Venice, Italy, 1579…)

The Doctor sighed and drummed his fingers on the table. Across from him, his three companions were giggling insanely. He had brought them here for a nice dinner and a moonlit gondola ride. He had picked one of the best restaurants in the city and had expected the three women to behave like proper young ladies.

Of course, that had been wishful thinking on his part…

Ever since they had gotten back across the void, the three women had bonded and were getting along like a house on fire. Unfortunately, Rose's penchant for pranks had rubbed off on the other two and now the three of them were whispering to one another and sniggering.

"I think we should ask them to bring us a pizza," Martha said, conspiratorially. "I don't think they even have pizzas at this point in time, yeah?"

"Nah, forget pizzas," Donna said to her, "ask for something really far out, like sushi or poi or fried rice."

"Or," Rose added, "we could ask them to bring us mozzarella sticks as an appetizer."

"Ooo, good one," Martha said, nodding.

"How about you order something that actually exists in this time period that they actually know how to cook?" the Doctor said to them.

He sighed when they completely ignored him and went on planning.

"How about we ask them for unlimited salad and breadsticks?" Donna asked.

"I'm for that!" Rose replied.

"Yeah, we order unlimited salad and breadsticks, and some mozzarella sticks, and chicken wings, and a platter of bacon butties, and three Cokes with extra ice and see if they will get it for us," Martha said.

"How about if all of you keep your gobs shut and I order for you?"

Rose looked at him.

"Oh, and we better ask for a huge cloth napkin for the Doctor, so he doesn't dribble spaghetti sauce down his nice white shirt when he eats."

"Excuse me, Tyler; I am not going to dribble anything down my shirt!"

"Really, because with your gob going at full speed, like it usually does, I figure some of the food will fall back out before it gets down your throat."

They laughed when the Doctor's head fell onto the table and he banged it repeatedly.

"Why me? Why, oh, why, oh, why, me?" he groaned, "why am I a huge glutton for punishment? Why didn't I keep K9 after I rebuilt him? A tin dog would have been less trouble than these three. Why, oh, why, oh, why?"

The three women grinned at each other, patted his head affectionately, and settled back in their seats while they waited for the waiter to come over and take their orders.

THE END.