I admit, I cried while writing this chapter (and even when editing it two years later). It might not translate to reading, but there you go.

Last chapter for this story. I'm only doing Rose's POV for this one, assuming her introspective guesses at the Doctor's side of things are bang on.


Chapter 6, Dålig Ulv Stranden

This was it. The Doctor's voice was clear in Rose's mind, calling her to this beach. "Rose," she heard again, as the jeep pulled to a stop. She got out and walked along the shore, shivering slightly in the wind, looking for some sign of the Doctor.

"Bad Wolf Bay" had been the translation on the map. The Doctor had said he'd found a way to communicate, but she couldn't help but hope he'd found a way to rescue her. The last time Bad Wolf had reared its head, it had been a message telling Rose that she had a way back to the Doctor. Maybe, this time, it was in the Doctor's hands. He was the one with the TARDIS, after all.

"Rose."

More clearly than ever, she heard her name, and turned towards the Doctor's voice. There he was! He looked sort of see-through, obviously not physically standing on the beach. "Where are you?" she asked.

"Inside the TARDIS," he answered. "There's one tiny little gap in the universe left, just about to close."

So hurry up and take me through, she thought hopefully.

"And it takes a lot of power to send this projection," the Doctor continued. "I'm in orbit around a super nova." She saw him laugh a bit at that. "I'm burning up a sun just to say goodbye."

Goodbye, after all. Rose shook her head, trying to bury her hope of rescue. "You look like a ghost," she told him.

"Hold on." He aimed his sonic screwdriver at something Rose couldn't see, and his image firmed, looking almost solid.

Rose walked up to him, hoping that he might just be as real as he looked. She raised her hand, trying to touch his face. "Can I t-"

"I'm still just an image," he interrupted her. "No touch," he said sadly, obviously as disappointed as she was.

She couldn't help but ask, "Can't you come through properly?"

"The whole thing would fracture," he explained. "Two universes would collapse."

"So?" she asked, only half-joking.

The Doctor smiled at that.

Oh, how she wished she could hold him.

He looked around at the beach. "Where are we? Where did the gap come out?"

"We're in Norway," Rose told him. A bit of a ways from India, she neglected to add.

"Norway, right," he nodded.

She might as well fill him in on her little hope-raiser. "About fifty miles out of Bergen. It's called 'Dålig Ulv Stranden'."

The Doctor looked shocked; did he know what it meant? "Dalek?" he asked.

Okay, maybe not. "Dålig," Rose clarified. "It's Norwegian for 'bad'." She took a breath while the Doctor waited for her to explain. "This translates as 'Bad Wolf Bay'." That he understood, and they shared a bit of a laugh at the irony. But Rose didn't want to waste her last moments with him, joking about ironic phrases. "How long have we got?" she asked him.

"About two minutes," he told her.

Two minutes? she thought. What do you do with your last two minutes with the love of your life, when you can't even hold him? "I can't think of what to say!" she choked out, laughing slightly at the absurdity. Here he was burning up a sun . . . .

She noticed the Doctor glance over her shoulder towards the jeep. "You've still got Mr. Mickey, then?"

Jealous much? She could hear it in his voice, no matter how nonchalantly he tried to say it. She couldn't help a bit of teasing. "There's five of us now," she told him. "Mum, Dad, Mickey-and the baby."

"You're not . . . ."

Idiot, she thought, at how easily he took the bait. It would have been yours, if anyone's, and we certainly never-she bit back the tears, and forced a laugh. "No, it's Mum." The Doctor looked back at Jackie, the relief rather obvious on his face. "She's three months gone, More Tylers on the way," she supplied

The Doctor looked back to her. "And what about you? Are you . . . ?"

Settling down? Wasting away wishing for you? What? "Yeah, I'm-I'm back workin' in the shop."

He nodded. He was so gullible, sometimes. "Oh, good for you," he said, as if that was just what he wished for her life.

"Shut up. No, I'm not," she corrected. It was too fun teasing him, but time was slipping away. "There's still a Torchwood on this planet," she explained. "It's open for business." More tears flowed as she thought about her prospects, and how much they'd changed, thanks to the Doctor. "I think I know a thing or two 'bout aliens," she observed, barely getting the words past her throat.

He smiled at her, so proudly. "Rose Tyler: Defender of the Earth," he proclaimed. He was working up to something, she could tell. Finally, he told her. "You're dead, officially, back home."

But not here, she thought, crying quietly while he spoke. Here, it just feels like it.

"So many people died that day, and you've gone missing. You're on the list of the dead." Then he smiled-a forced smile, but a smile nonetheless. "Here you are, living a life day after day," he said. "The one adventure I can never have."

Rose couldn't help her sobbing, now. We almost had that adventure together, though, didn't we? "Am I ever gonna see you again?" she asked.

He hadn't shed any tears yet, but they shone in his eyes. "You can't."

"What're you gonna do?" Rose asked.

"Oh, I've got the TARDIS. Same old life. Last of the Time Lords."

"On your own?" She didn't want him to be alone.

But the Doctor nodded.

Through her tears, Rose made to tell him, "I lo-" but the words were stuck in her throat. I will tell him, she thought. He waited until he could only think the words at me, I have to say it while I have the chance. He needs to know, especially if he'll be on his own, "I love you." she said, determinedly.

"Quite right, too," he answered gently, sadly.

She smiled, nodding, knowing that now at least he knew. Even if they could never be together, even if he could never say the words to her face-

"And I suppose," he said, as if bracing himself, "if it's one last chance to say it . . . ." Rose held her breath. "Rose Tyler-"

And he was gone.

Forever.

She stood, feeling for all the world utterly alone, sobbing into her hands. The tears flowed freely, Rose only now allowing herself to realize the finality of her situation.

When she turned back to her family, she saw the pain on their faces, pain for her. Jackie ran out to meet her, holding her tightly when they met.

"He's gone," Rose cried into her shoulder. "He's gone. That's it, he's gone," she told her.

Jackie shushed her, rubbing her back, and Rose felt her crying as well. "You got to say goodbye, yeah?" Jackie asked when Rose calmed enough to pull away.

Rose nodded, replaying the Doctor's almost-last-words in her head. She knew his mind, and to see his face left her in no doubt. Still, to hear the words would have been nice, but that's the Doctor for you. A Time Lord without enough time.

They drove the five hours back to Stavanger. Pete and Jackie went into the hotel and arranged for rooms, leaving Rose asleep against Mickey's shoulder. Rose hadn't realized she'd drifted off, until Pete and Jackie climbed back into the jeep, waking her.

"Rose, honey," said Jackie, turning to her from the front passenger seat.

Rose thought she looked on the verge of tears. "What's wrong, Mum?"

Jackie looked to Pete, who answered for her. "Your Mum couldn't understand them," he explained. "They had to call another employee to the desk who spoke English."

"I'm so sorry, sweetheart," Jackie said, reaching out for Rose's hand.

"It's closed," Rose said, the truth of the Doctor's words sinking in at last. The last gap between universes, her last link to the Doctor and the TARDIS. Gone. She swallowed, giving her Mum's hand a squeeze. "'S alright," she told her, fighting back her own tears. "We got to say goodbye," she said, more to reassure herself than her Mum. "That's somethin'." Something she knew the Doctor's companions didn't often get. "Now, we go on."


The end.

Shwoo! Glad that's over :) Now, I can go and write "Doomsday Averted", "Runaway Bride", "The Smiths and Miss Jones", et cetera, et cetera, et cetera ;)