How many goodly creatures are there here!
How beauteous mankind is! O brave new world
That has such people in't!
-William Shakespeare, The Tempest
Davros is dead. The Daleks are destroyed. The Doctor stands inside the TARDIS, the reality finally overcoming him.
Is their destruction even possible? How many times before has he thought that, only to be brought face to face with the Daleks again? Ever since the Time War, there've been too many Daleks for his liking.
And now they're gone. An entire race of beings, gone.
Just like before. He's not the one who did it, not this time. But it was close enough to him as to make no difference.
The TARDIS, so recently the scene of amazing homecomings and happy reunions, is silent once more. Sarah Jane has gone back to her son. Jack has returned to his team. Martha and Mickey are gone as well, Martha to her fiancé and Mickey to a new life in his old universe. All is right with the world, but the Doctor's world has just changed drastically.
Hearing familiar footsteps enter the room, he turns to face Donna across the TARDIS control room. He knows what she's going to say and wishes very much that she did not have a Time Lord mind inside her human head.
"Go find her," Donna says without preamble. "You need to talk."
The Doctor frowns and twirls a control knob. "She-"
"She nothing!" Donna snaps. "Tell her what you need to tell her. Haven't you lost enough time?"
He shakes his head. "I don't know what I need to tell her. Not now."
Donna rolls her eyes. "You know what to tell her. Don't you?"
Clearly having a Time Lord mind has not changed Donna very much. "Donna..."
"I remember you that Christmas, right after you'd lost her," Donna says. "I remember how you didn't care if you lived or died. She's here now. She came back for you. Doesn't that mean anything?"
He hesitates, unsure of what to do.
"I saw her in the kitchen with her mum," Donna says gently. "It's a good time for friends to talk."
Rose is alone when he finds her. She's standing in the hallway, hands clasped tightly together. The Doctor takes in her shining hair and the way her eyes light up when she sees him. She's much too thin in that leather jacket, and he wonders how much she went through, trying to reach this universe at the proper time.
"Hi," Rose says with a shy smile. "I was just coming to find you." She does not mention that she knew where he was - she just couldn't work up the courage to take those final steps to him.
"Hi." The Doctor shoves his hands in his pockets. "So. We made it."
"I can't believe it," Rose says honestly. "I can't believe we stopped it. All those worlds, saved!"
"Well, we had some help, this time," he allows.
This reminds her of something, and her expression changes to a frown. "I can't believe you knew Jack was alive all this time!" She slaps his arm as she speaks, and it's like they've not been apart at all.
He coughs. "Yes. Well. I didn't want to upset you."
She starts to speak, and then stops and takes a deep breath. "It's okay. We'll talk about Jack later."
The Doctor is relieved to have Jack tabled for now, but the word 'later' reminds him that there is more that needs to be said.
"I missed you," he says without meaning to.
Rose smiles hugely and hugs him tightly, just the way she used to.
"I missed you, too!" she says. "You wouldn't believe all the stuff I had to do to get here."
He allows himself to hold onto her for a moment, just a moment, and breathes in the scent of her hair. "I can't wait to hear about it," he says, gently letting go of her. "You must have been brilliant!"
She beams. "Oh, maybe. I don't know."
"You were, Rose Tyler!"
"Yeah, I was," Rose says, in the tone of someone who is trying to be modest.
He clears his throat. "So."
"Shall we go and talk?" she asks, and he is startled by how forthright she is. He wonders what Rose Tyler has gotten up to during her time in Pete's world.
"Yeah," he says, wincing at the nervousness in his own voice. "Let's talk." His hearts beat at a frenzied pace, and his blood thrums in his ears.
She leads the way to the library, a dark, paneled room set with leather couches and chairs. A small fire burns in the fireplace, and the lights are low. The Doctor wonders if the atmosphere is strictly necessary, and glances around his ship in annoyance. The lights brighten a bit in response.
Rose drops down onto a chair. She's sat there many times before with him, and as the Doctor sits beside her it feels like no time has passed since the last time they were together in this room.
"We watched that I Love Lucy marathon, remember?" Rose seemingly reads his mind as she curls up on the chair. "The one where she's at the candy factory, eating all the chocolates? I laughed so hard!"
"Lucy's always good for a laugh," the Doctor agrees. They stare at each other for a moment and then Rose starts to smile.
"What?" he asks in surprise.
She grins. "All the time and effort I put in to come back, and we're sitting here talking about I Love Lucy."
The Doctor smiles back. "What should we talk about?"
And just like that a silence descends upon them. Rose flushes. She opens her mouth and then shuts it again.
"Well," she says. "There was the coming darkness and all. I knew you'd be able to help."
He sighs. "Only barely."
"Maybe, but we did it."
"You were amazing. I don't even know how you managed to do it all!"
"There's time enough to hear that story," Rose assures him. "I started trying to get back almost the minute I landed on the other side. I never stopped trying."
"Why did you come back?" the Doctor asks, and he feels sorrow at the look that comes over her face.
"To come back." Rose says it with some surprise. "To stay with you. I promised you I'd stay forever."
"But things have changed, haven't they? Time has passed, and you've matured and become so much more than you were. You don't have to stay just because you made a promise to me."
She shakes her head. "It was more than a promise." She stares him in the eye, telling him what she won't yet say out loud.
The Doctor stands up and walks around the room. "It's not just you and me anymore."
"It was always you and me," she says incredulously. "Traveling around, having adventures."
He runs a hand through his hair. "Things have changed."
She shakes her head, not understanding. "Stop saying that things have changed. They haven't. Mum is here, but she won't stay. She'll want to go home, as soon as she can."
"Oh, Jackie." He'd forgotten that Jackie was still aboard, to be honest. The woman had been blessedly quiet so far. "Where is she?"
"The kitchen. So if it's not Mum," Rose continues, "you don't need to worry. I love Donna. She's amazing, absolutely amazing! We could have so much fun together!"
"Rose." The Doctor turns to face her. "Donna and I...don't worry about Donna. I'll take care of her."
"But," she prompts him. When he doesn't respond she adds, "You weren't so reluctant to talk before."
That surprises a small grin out of him. "You weren't so challenging before."
She shrugs. "Grew up some, I guess."
"Yes." The Doctor tries again. "You're forgetting about...about him."
Rose bites her lip. "I haven't. He can stay, too."
The possibility has been whirling through the Doctor's mind for long hours now. He's slightly amazed that she hasn't thought of it. He braces himself and says the words out loud.
"You don't have to stay with me. You could go back. With him."
"Back?" Rose asks blankly.
"Back to your world. With...him. The other...the other me."
"Stay with him?" Rose stands up as she speaks, the better to face him. "I came back for you, remember?"
"But if you want to stay with him, I'll understand." The Doctor presses forward, determined to state her options. Rose deserves the best, and he will make sure she gets whatever it is she deserves, not what she thinks she wants right now. She's still young, so young.
"How can you think I wouldn't stay with you?" she demands. "I've spent years - years - trying to get back to you! If you knew half of what I've done - I had to do A levels! I learned physics!"
He smiles a bit at the indignation in her voice. Clearly learning physics had not been something she'd been very happy to do. "Rose." He wants so much to have Rose stay with him forever. He still can't believe she's here with him. She can't stay, though. She's human, and a new chance for her has opened up, and he needs to make sure she understands it.
"He's human like you are! You could stay with him and have a life together. A normal life."
"Right, like anything with you would ever be normal."
"Why would I leave you?" she demands.
"Why?" he asks incredulously. "To have a life! A normal, human life! To stay with your family! To be human."
"I don't want to do that," she says in a small voice. "I want to stay with you."
For the first time he wishes her faith in him was not so strong. He sighs and tries again. "It's him or me, Rose. Once the decision is made, we'll close the breach and it can't be undone."
"But that would be fine!" Rose says eagerly, grasping at a solution to what she thinks is the problem. "We could all travel together! Us and Donna...and him." She says the last negligently, as though the other Doctor is someone not worth mentioning.
But she is lying. The Doctor saw how they laughed and talked together on the TARDIS as he was saying goodbye to the others. He'd watched the other Doctor - the other version of himself - smile and flirt with Rose. He'd watched Rose smile and flirt back.
Whether she was consciously aware of it or not, she'd felt a connection with the other Doctor. That connection could become something greater.
"We can't do that," the Doctor says quietly. "He wouldn't want to stay here like that."
"Rose, do I need to spell it out for you?" He doesn't call her a stupid ape, but he's pretty angry. "Like a second rate companion! Watching you and I have fun, knowing that he's human and not a Time Lord."
"He could have fun with us!" Rose flares angrily. Unspoken is her wish to be more than as simple companion to the Doctor. She didn't come back to have fun, she came back for him. To see if the sparks and chemistry they'd shared would grow into something else.
She didn't come back so things could be as they were. She came back to make them better.
"It would never work," he says quietly. "And he wouldn't want it either. Think about it, Rose. I'll never judge you, no matter what you decide. But I want you to be very sure."
"What do you want?" she demands.
"I - what?"
"What do you want, Doctor?" she repeats. "You've certainly been busy, making sure everyone goes where they should, everyone does what they're supposed to do. But you haven't said what it is you want. Do you want me to leave with Mum? Do you want to travel with Donna and him? Would you rather have their company than mine?"
"I'm a Time Lord with a TARDIS. He'd be a human with memories of abilities he no longer has. A TARDIS he no longer has. There's no way that would work - for either of us."
"But...you're the last one! He'd be family."
"So you don't care about what happens to him, not really."
"That's, that's not the point!" he exclaims. His hands move across his hair again, more agitated than before.
"Then what is the point?"
"The point is that I'm giving you the option to have a normal life."
"You're not!" she says angrily. "You're asking if I want to stay with someone I don't know who happens to look like you, just because he'll die one day and you won't."
"He's not just someone who looks like me, Rose. He is me."
"He isn't you." Rose says this quickly. "He may look like you and talk like you but he's someone else."
"But you would be as happy with him as you were with me."
"You want me to go," she accuses him. "You wish I hadn't come back to you."
"Then you want me to stay." Rose crosses her arms and glares at him.
He can't speak. He only shakes his head. "Rose, you've got it wrong."
She's so angry she can barely speak. "Wrong? Wrong? Then tell me what I need to know."
He doesn't respond. He just stands there, looking at her her with a helpless look in his eyes.
"I don't believe this," she says in a low voice. "All that I've done, and you still can't tell me what you want. Not what I want. Not what you think I need or deserve. What you want."
Whether or not he would, she'll never know. He doesn't speak, Rose turns and stalks out of the library, leaving him standing alone.
Amazing things, genetic meta-crises. Bringing into being creatures like himself. Something newer and different and yet the same as he was before. His memories are still there. He can remember going to sleep in his own bed as a small child. He remembers stealing the TARDIS and running away - what an impulsive thing to do, even for him. Memories and thoughts and feelings are intact, but now they're housed in a body that will die very soon. He has one heart. One heart! No matter how much Donna always went on about being human, he never thought it looked like fun.
And now he is one. Human.
He doesn't think Rose will bother too much with him, and he can't blame her. He's not the one she came for, is he? He's not the one with a time machine. He may still be the Doctor, but he knows that he's no longer a Time Lord. He knows she won't want him, but it doesn't stop him from thinking about it. He may have grown from a genetic meta-crisis, formed from a human and an extra hand, but he is still the Doctor. And he can do things that the Time Lord Doctor, cannot, will not, do.
Ah, there it is. The guilt he felt for the Time War. Nice to know some things never change. And he's done it again. Destroyed the Daleks. He had to do it, just like he had to the first time. He won't apologize for that. He did what had to be done. The other Doctor would have died rather than do that. He preferred to live and save humanity at the same time.
He knows Rose. He knows what she's thinking. He knows why she came back. He knows himself, too. The other Doctor will be planning something. He may not know what it is yet, but odds are that he won't like it.
The only question left is what will happen to Rose. If he's willing to be blunt enough about it, who will end up with Rose. His other self may be full of finer feelings, of nobility and self-sacrifice, but he is not.
He will do what has to be done.
She can't believe how gullible she's been, how naive. All these years of working and trying to get back to this place, and he all but tells her he doesn't care. Rose is aware that she may not be thinking very rationally, but she's heading in search of Jackie, to tell her mum that they're going home and to hell with Time Lords who have the emotional range of a teaspoon. If she could fly the TARDIS on her own she'd sail straight for the breach and back to what has been home for the past six years.
"He'll never say it, you know."
Rose stops and looks around, startled. She's gone unthinkingly to the control room. Old habits die hard. On first glance the room is empty, but then she sees the other Doctor. The Doctor in blue, she's been calling him in her mind. He's standing there, leaning against the TARDIS console. His arms are folded against his chest. Once more she is taken by surprise by how alike they are.
"What won't he say?" If it were anyone else, anyone at all, Rose would be on her guard, would be harder and more self-protective. But this...this is the Doctor. Even though he's not the one she came for, even though she denied it to her Doctor, he is the Doctor.
"He'll never tell you how he feels."
Rose frowns. "I don't need words to know how he feels."
The Doctor in blue scoffs and rolls his eyes. "Don't you, Rose Tyler? What was he gonna say to you at Bay Wolf Bay? You told him you loved him. And then what?" He pushes himself off the wall and comes closer.
Rose flushes at the memory. It's special and private and he has no right to it, even if it was, in some way, him there with her.
"You can tell him that you love him all you want," the Doctor in blue continues, moving to stand very close beside her. Rose has to tilt her head back slightly to keep her eyes on his. "You can cross universes for him. You can risk your life and choose to live out your lifespan beside him, and he will never say the words you want to hear."
Rose swallows, mesmerized by the look in his eyes. "Stop it," she says softly.
"Do you want to know how I know?" he continues. "Because he was me, I was him, until just a few hours ago. I know."
"I felt it, he felt it, but it's not in him to say it out loud, Rose. You know that. He just can't say it."
"It doesn't matter. I don't need the words." But she does. She needs those words more than anything. Once she would have been happy just knowing, with things unspoken, but everything is different now.
"He will never say it," the Doctor in blue says. "But I will."
She shakes her head. "Don't. You know you're not the one I came back for."
He moves in even closer, and despite what she's told him, Rose feels a pull of attraction. They're the same, they are. Same hair, same eyes, same voice. Only this Doctor has a different gleam in his eye.
It's been six long years since Rose has seen the Doctor. She tries to control herself, but her face lifts up to his. His hand comes up to smooth the hair away from her face. His eyes are on her lips. Her Doctor had never looked at her that way before, and Rose has to force herself to remember what she's doing there.
"A handful of words," he says, lips coming so close to her own. "Just...five."
"Stop," she says, trying to regain control.
He bends down, whispers in her ear. His breath is hot on her skin. "I love you, Rose Tyler."