IX

Jack walked amongst the Torchwood men, talking to them. They had been so willing to let themselves die, if only they could stop the Cybermen. So willing to sacrifice themselves to the greater good. Brave men, all of them. Torchwoods finest.

'Well,' he thought proudly, 'maybe not the very finest.'

His friends were the best, he thought. Ianto Jones. Gwen Cooper. Owen Harper. Toshiko Sato. All of them. Brilliant.

That had been his home. But this was his home too. Where, he wondered, was his true home?

Should he stay?

Could he stay?

He looked up, to see the Doctor and Eilidh walking towards him, both of them looking very, very tired.

"You look like I feel," he called to them. The Doctor looked at him, and then Jack understood what he wanted.

"Where's Carson?" the Time Lord asked.

--

The console was a mess. Nothing had survived but molten metal and wires. Carson had stayed, pressing buttons until the end, and she looked little better. The Doctor had said nothing, but turned on his heel and walked out.

"You didn't stop her," he said to Jack.

"A hundred years of working for Torchwood, I guess," Jack replied, unsmiling. "Does some things to a man. Like gives him loyalty to the cause."

The Doctor said nothing. Boeshane was only one of millions of worlds threatened by the Cybermen.

"So what happens now?" Eilidh asked.

"Humanity takes massive casualties," the Doctor told her. "But they survive, and win. Eventually, they use planet Voga to create the glitter gun, and wipe out the Cybermen, apart from small splinter groups. This war will be the end of the Cybermen, except as Gold plated statues people use as Hatstands."

He smiled softly, then turned to Jack.

"Shall we go?" he asked.

"I can't," Jack said, the decision he had come to ringing through him. "This is my home. I owe these people more than you can possibly realise."

The Doctor nodded, and walked back to the TARDIS, looking downtrodden. Eilidh stayed for a moment.

"Well," she said at last. "This is goodbye then."

"Yeah," Jack smiled. "Best news you've had all day, huh?"

Eilidh smiled as well, then hugged him.

"I'll miss you, you sexist rake," she told him, her voice breaking slightly. He smiled again.

"I'll miss you too, you annoying brat."

She smiled, wiped a tear from her eye, and walked off, towards the TARDIS The Doctor watched as the door closed.

Gwen. Ianto. Friends. Cardiff. Earth in the Twenty First Century.

He watched as the lamp started flashing.

Time And Relative Dimensions In Space. Travel. Fun. The Old Doctor, in that Leather Jacket of his. The New Doctor, in his suits, and his coat, and his shirts, and his ties. Rose Tyler. Martha Jones. Eilidh Brown.

He watched as the box started fading.

The Doctor. Alone. Without him.

And for the third time in his incredibly long life, he jumped onto the TARDIS as it was taking off. He smiled, as he thought of the Doctor. He smiled, as he knew the Doctors words would be something along the lines of:

"Oh not again!!"

He knew where his home was.

Fin.