"How is he?" The Doctor asked quietly, stepping in to the room where Susan was sat, holding the hand of her unconscious Grandfather. He looked pale, his breathing very shallow. Susan looked up towards the Doctor and gave him a faint smile.
"The doctor said," She paused, the smile growing to a grin, "his doctor, said he'll be fine. They'll all be fine." She caught the Doctor glancing over at her Grandfather. "He just needs some rest."
"Sounds about right." The Doctor smiled back, reassuringly. "Bit of a shock to the system, having all that energy flowing through a body then being sucked away." He tilted his head to one side and shrugged. "I should know."
The Doctor stepped forward towards the bed and pulled up a chair, sitting down next to Susan.
"There's one thing
I don't understand Doctor." Susan said softly, after a few
moments of silence.
"There's always things we don't understand." The Doctor smirked. "That's what makes the universe so exciting." Susan ignored his comment, and continued.
"What happened to Wittgen? It was as if he just vanished?"
"Well, he did, in a way." The Doctor shrugged his shoulders. "He thought he was absorbing the Vortex Energy, but he was wrong."
"It was absorbing him?" Susan replied, shocked.
"Yes." He nodded solemnly. "Aubrey had absorbed so much energy over all those years, it must have made up the majority of his body. In the end, his body just couldn't cope without it."
"But what about Jack?"
"Like I said down in the Hub," The Doctor smiled. "Jack's just wrong. It's like how his thoughts were able to echo through to your Grandfather and the other patients."
"You mean them shouting your name?"
"Yeah." He nodded. "That shouldn't have happened. Vortex energy doesn't carry a person's consciousness. But it carried Jack's. The normal rules just don't apply to him."
"And don't I know it!" Jack beamed, striding in to the room, his blue coat flowing behind him. "Doctor, I found the TARDIS. Storage room A6."
"Fantastic." The Time Lord replied, getting to his feet. He was about to address Susan when she interrupted him.
"You're going?" She also got up, a look of surprise on her face. "You're just leaving everybody here, after all that's happened?" There were a few moments of uncomfortable silence before Jack jumped in.
"That's the Doctor. Not really the morning after type."
"It's best if I go now Susan." The Doctor eventually replied. "Whilst things are simple."
"Simple?" The volume of her voice was rising a little. "Wittgen's gone, but Torchwood isn't! What if they just try and do it all again? And what about all the patients? We don't even know that they'll be ok."
"This won't happen again." The Doctor said very seriously, looking Susan straight in the eyes. "Not with Jack back in charge anyway."
"Certainly won't." The ex-Time Agent confirmed. "There's a few too many 'staff' for my liking too, too many people who knew what went on, but I'll make sure they won't remember." He stopped, but soon noticed the surprised look on Susan's face. "Oh, not like that. No killing, just some memory loss. They can all go back to the lives they had before Wittgen."
"Then what happens to you Jack?" The Doctor questioned.
"Well, might hang round Cardiff a bit more. Find out what I missed over the last hundred years. Maybe check out that new club on the Bay. Might as well take advantage of these good looks now I've got them back."
Susan giggled, before noticing that the Doctor was making his way out of the room.
"Good bye Susan. Jack," He smiled a cheeky smile. "Try and keep out of trouble."
"Doctor. Don't go now." Susan pleaded. "Please. I don't even know who you are."
"Maybe that's for the best." He replied, turning his head back to face Susan, Jack and Susan's Grandfather.
"I know who he is."
Came a faint, croaky voice. "I've seen just who he
"He is the Doctor." The old man sat up slightly, his eyes locked on Susan. "A lone traveler. The last of the Time Lords. The Oncoming Storm. The Lonely God. He doesn't want to let people get close because he knows that soon enough, they will be gone. He travels the Universe trying to make a difference because no one else will."
Sudden tears had started to well up in Susan's eyes. He turned around quickly to the empty doorway, where the Doctor had been standing moments ago.
"Doctor!" She shouted, heading towards the doorway. Jack stepped forward, taking her by the shoulders.
"Let him go." Jack whispered in to her ear. "He'll be fine, he always is."
"But that life. Is it true? Is he really alone? Really so lonely?"
"He likes to think he is." Jack smiled. "But as long as we, and everyone who he has ever met, helped or saved, as long as we all remember him, he will never be alone. In that way, the Doctor will live forever."
He always hated leaving like that, but the Doctor had learnt better. Even though it was difficult, slipping away was often for the best. For everybody. He sighed as he turned the TARDIS key in the lock, the door creaking open.
He stepped inside, the familiar hum of the central pillar somehow comforting. Here it was. The only companion that he knew really would be with him forever. Well, he thought, maybe not forever.
After all, forever was a long time.