A/N) And so here we go, the final chapter to PROMISES.
It had been sudden. One minute he had been standing in the kitchen, the next he was on the tiled floor, curled up into a tight ball, his hands wrapped around his head, as if he was trying to protect himself, whimpering.
Rose was by his side in an instant. "John?"
He didn't answer, just continued to shake.
"Rose?" Jackie peered around the door. She saw John's form on the floor and stepped forward. "What happened? Is he alright?"
"I dunno! He just collapsed!" Rose rested her hand on his shoulder, terrified to move him. Then the shaking stopped. "John?"
He groaned, moving slowly.
"I'm gonna phone an ambulance, sweetheart," Jackie was already out of the kitchen, on the way to the phone in the hall.
"No! Wait. I don't think he needs done," said Rose, as John pulled himself to his elbows and looked up at her. "Are you okay? What happened?"
"I'm fine," he replied, blinking rapidly, as if he was trying to clear his head. "Nothing to worry about."
Rose fixed him with a look. He cringed at her intense gaze, but didn't speak. She sighed. "If it happens again, you're telling me the truth, alright? I know you are not fine!"
The Doctor stumbled into the TARDIS, his knees weakening, but he held onto the railing, pulling himself forward, towards the console. He reached it, placing his hands upon the smooth surface of the edge and looked up at the time rotor. It would be the last time he would see this ship with these eyes... He could feel the regeneration energy building up inside him, ready to burst.
Not yet, he willed himself.
He had sacrificed his life to save Wilfred Mott, Donna's granddad. Trapped in a radiation booth that was about to flood with a lethal dose of radiation, the Doctor had taken Wilf's place in a connecting booth, absorbing the radiation into his body as it had hit. Toxic, it had quickly spread throughout this system slowly, gradually shutting down his body's organs. The beat of his hearts were slower than normal, one barely pumping the blood around his body. He was shaking...
He had said his goodbyes. Donna would live a wonderful life, not knowing what she had seen with him. The meta-crisis would have been fatal for her if he hadn't wiped her memory. Living in ignorance, but she was happy. The Doctor had made sure of that. Sarah Jane would continue to defend Earth; Jack – well, who knew what the Captain would get up to? – Martha would become an award winning Doctor for her future discoveries....
Well, he simply did not know, but he knew she was happy.
He gripped his chest as pain ran through him. He was going, he could feel it.
Slowly, he walked around the console, taking his last steps in this body, taking in the beauty of the TARDIS. He flicked a few switches, setting the time ship into a flight path away from Earth. The amount of radiation he had absorbed would make this regeneration not pretty...
He had suffered a lot in his Tenth life, often wondering if he should end it, especially after the Master had tortured and broken him by ripping his mind to shreds, but now it came to it, the final minutes before he 'died', he didn't want to go. Damaged in the head beyond repair, he had been putting himself back together albeit slowly. He had wanted longer than this, yet he had chosen to save Wilf...
The Doctor took a deep shuddering breath, feeling his body warm as the regeneration energy came to the fore. His right hand was glowing...
Oh god, why didn't I tell her?
If there was one thing he regretted and that was not telling Rose how he truly felt about her. Oh, there relationship had changed when she had made that choice at Canary Wharf, but she had excelled since then, managing to turn her life around... If he could have had one day with her, he would have told her the truth.
His body failing, the energy sweeping through, he braced himself.
He opened his mouth, fighting to hold the energy back, just so he could say it. Just once, even though she wasn't there to hear it. "Oh Rose..I..."
But it was too much. He couldn't hold it back. The energy swept forth before he could finish and he exploded in a rush of volcanic energy, the last of his consciousness draining away as his body changed and someone new stepped into his shoes, ready for the adventure ahead.
The Tenth Doctor was gone.
Rose saw him drop, his mouth open in a wide scream. Two words choked out of John's mouth, " – love you!" He lay on the floor of the landing, convulsing. Rose dared not to touch him, nor did she call for her mother. Her eyes widened as an orangey light flashed briefly over his skin – and then he laid still, his eyes closed.
Slowly, he opened them. Blinking, he saw Rose sitting next to him, her eyes full of concern. "Oh...you saw."
"I was walking right behind you when you collapsed," she said softly. "I need to know whether to expect this again or if it's going to be a common thing." She stroked his hair.
"You shouldn't get it again," he responded, sadly.
"And why's that?"
"Because he's gone," replied John.
Even though he hadn't stated who, Rose knew whom he was referring to. The Doctor had regenerated. Sadness filled her. Though he still lived here in this world, walking the road of a normal life, the Doctor, the one she had fallen in love with so many years ago was gone. She swallowed, locking gazes with John. "How'd it happen?" She had to know.
"Radiation poisoning," he stated. "I don't know how or why... all I know is that he was in agony... He fought off the regeneration for as long as possible... Still... it's over now. A new man. Maybe his hurts will have gone away, like you've done for me." He sighed. "We still have each other."
A sad smiled crossed Rose's face. "I know." She took his hands in hers and gently pulled him to a sitting position before resting her head on his shoulder, wrapping her arms around him, hugging him.
Her Doctor was gone, but she still had John, who was him in so many ways. They were linked together forever, through better or for worse.
Please let me know what you think! Did you enjoy the entire story?
And so it comes to pass that this story, this epic journey I have undertaken with these characters is over. There will NOT be a sequel to this story. HOWEVER, I am in the process of writing a Ten, Rose and Martha story that is set within the time-line of Choices. That should be posted soon. I do not have a final title at present.
I just want to THANK EVERYONE, who has followed me on this journey and remained loyal to me throughout Choices and Promises. It has been a fantastic journey. Thank you everyone :)
Signing out for the last time on this story,