There's only so many ways you can tell somebody you used to hate them.
"I used to hate you," Martha said.
Rose looked startled and Martha felt bad straight away.
"No, I mean...oh, God, I've put my foot in it."
"No, carry on," Rose said, frowning.
"I don't mean you, you're nice. I mean the idea of you, you know, this girl the Doctor was in love with and didn't get."
Rose looked at her, as all around them their friends talked and cheered, and Jack produced a bottle of champagne from who knew where.
"He...said that?" she said in a whisper. "He said he was...?"
"Oh! No, no, he didn't say it, you could just tell."
"Oh," Rose said, and she ran her fingers over the TARDIS console, and Martha considered how very different and yet very alike she and Rose were. Both were young girls turned into soldiers, and fallen in love with the one who made them that way.
"I liked him," she said. "A lot."
"You loved him, right?" Rose said, "S'alright, I can tell."
"Yeah, I did. But I don't now. I found someone else, I'm marrying him. So you should...well, you should go for it."
"I don't hate you," Martha added, wanting badly to get that said. "I was jealous, I was so jealous, I didn't like it, I didn't like me when I was like that. I kept wondering about you, I sort of built you up in my mind to be this thing when you were just a person."
And Rose grinned again.
"That's alright, I know the feeling," she said. "You should've seen what me and Sarah Jane were like with each other when we met."
"I'd have liked to see that," Martha said with a smile. "Did you save the world?"
The two of them hugged, slightly awkwardly at first but only at first. And Martha thought that in some far-off world of childhood or high school, she and Rose could well have been best friends.
"Go get him, girl," she said. And a small part of her heart broke away, but she didn't mind seeing it go.
Jack approached Mickey.
"Want some champagne?"
"I don't know where you pulled it from, mate, so no."
"Want a celebratory snog?"
"No! Stop asking!"
Jack pouted, albeit in a charming way, and leaned against the railing.
"Who's that?" Mickey asked, in a strange tone of voice. "Her, there, talking to Rose. I never got her name, too much stuff going on."
"That," said Jack, "is Martha Jones. Very clever, very sweet, one of my favourite people. Interested, huh?"
"Yeah," Mickey said. "Yeah, I'll say."
"Hold out your hand," Jack said, and Mickey did, and Jack took a pen from his pocket and scrawled a number on it.
"If that turns out to be your number, I'm going to kill you."
"I'd like to see you try! No, it's hers."
"Well. Thanks, Jack, I'll call her, say 'Remember when we saved the world that time...'"
"You should," Jack said. He took a sip of champagne and said, "Oh, she is engaged, though. To a doctor. Bloke called Milligan, she met him saving the planet from the Master, except you weren't there at the time and probably wouldn't have remembered it anyway. Time travel, you see, funny thing..."
Mickey glared daggers at him.
"Want a snog now?" Jack asked.
"We're dropping Sarah Jane off first!" the Doctor yelled. "Come on, people!" Rose moved forward, and Martha, and Donna, but many of the others hadn't even registered the words. "Oi! You want something done, you have to do it yourself." He turned to his human form, and then turned away again.
"Here, Rose," the human Doctor said, "you just pull this lever here..."
The Doctor looked at them thoughtfully.
"Nice suit," Rose said, "I never saw you in blue before. I mean, the other you. Oh, I don't know what I mean."
The human Doctor smiled.
Jack then brought things to a halt by coming between them, looking a question at the human Doctor, and then snogging him.
"That thing going through my head earlier?" he said. "It's still going through my head." And then he turned to Rose.
"Told you once you were worth fighting for."
"Yeah," Rose said. "You did."
"Turns out you're worth dying for, Rose Tyler, over and over again."
Rose looked puzzled, and concerned. "Jack, I don't know how you came back to life earlier..."
"Don't ask, Rose, never ask."
"...but I'm really glad you did."
They hugged. The human Doctor watched them.
"Are you going to stay here?" Rose asked Jack. "Please do, I'd love that."
"I'd love that too," Jack said, "but I don't think I can, Rose, my travelling days are over."
Sarah Jane waited by the door, enjoying the festivities but keen to get back to her son.
"You alright, love?" Jackie asked her.
"Oh yes, thanks, I am now. Rose's mum, right?"
"Yeah, that's me. Mum of two, now."
"Ooh, congratulations. I have one, one wonderful boy."
Jackie smiled, but there was something behind it, and then she said, "I never thought this were a place for mums, the TARDIS, but now I think it just ain't a place for me."
"What do you mean?"
"I love my daughter, but she's too in love with him, with all this. And it ain't like normal, it's like havin' a daughter in the army but in space. And I can't do what she does and I can't protect her." And she dropped her voice, and Sarah Jane knew she was about to hear a secret few people were privy to. "I was relieved, you know. When he got seperated from her. When he left us. I mean, I was sad, but Rose was alive, and that was all mattered then."
Sarah Jane nodded, her thoughts far away. "I see."
"He's going to want her again, I mean, she's going to want him again. And I don't know what I'll do, if she wants to stay here, cos the walls between worlds and all that..." Here her strength failed her. "I don't want to choose between my kids but sometimes I think I might have to." And she blinked, quickly.
"Oh," Sarah Jane began, and then she realised she didn't know, or had forgotten, the woman's first name. "Mrs Tyler, it'll be alright, I'm sure of it. The Doctor doesn't split families up."
"But he went and did." Jackie said. "For a long time."
The Doctor slid over to Martha. Rose, Jack and the other Doctor were at the console, and she was watching.
"He's you," she said, pointing her head towards the human Doctor. "Now that's just weird."
"Yeah," the Doctor said.
"Are you mad at me?"
"What? Why would I be?"
"Well. I nearly blew up my planet."
The Doctor looked at her, and reached out and brushed her cheek, a gesture he had never made to her before. "Oh, Martha, you're in good company."
"Hey you," Jack said, approaching Donna with a glass of champagne in hand. "Nice work back there!"
"Thank you," she said, and eyed him delightedly. "You weren't bad yourself."
They looked at each other.
"I hate to tell you this," Donna said, "but you're sort of wrong. You feel out of time. You know. Sort of..."
"Yeah," Jack said. "I get that a lot. D'ya want me to go?"
"No! Cos it doesn't matter!" Donna said, with a grin. "You shouldn't be alive, you're gorgeous, who cares! You ought to hang around here for a bit longer."
"I would," Jack said with a grin. "I so would. But I've got these people I gotta get back to."
Donna felt something, a sort of ripple in the timeline, she didn't know what it was but she delighted in the fact that she had it. "You got family, Jack?"
"Sort of. A daughter. A grandson. But what to them I really am, I just don't know. I look younger than my daughter." He was still smiling, but Donna felt it again, the ripples, and she saw beyond the smile. That was what it felt like, wasn't it, being the Doctor, she could sort of tell, sort of see things...
"Aw, Jack," she said, "You ought to go see them."
"Maybe I will," Jack said, finishing his drink. "Maybe I will."
"So," Rose said to the Doctor, when the other one wasn't there, "what's it like being two of you?"
"Interesting," the Doctor said. "What d'ya make of him?"
"Well," Rose said, a little confused, "he's basically you, isn't he?"
"Mmm," said the Doctor, and then he moved away, and Rose could tell he was afraid to tell her something. She leaned against the wall and wondered where she would end up. And thought of her baby brother.
Sarah Jane left the TARDIS with a hug from the Doctor, and hurried home to her son. The Doctor watched her go, waved a little sadly, and came back in to see Mickey and Jackie embracing.
He knew it was their last hug, he always knew these things, but paid it as little attention as he could.
Now there were eight. And Donna felt a thought in her head.
"Doctor," she said to the real one, "Are you gonna do what I reckon you're gonna do?"
"Yes," he said.
"You sure that's...the right thing?"
"Yes," he said. "I do. With all my heart."
"You have two hearts."
"Well, there you go."
Jackie Tyler approached her daughter, knowing she had lost Mickey, knowing that Rose had lost him a long time ago.
"Rose," she said.
"What is it, Mum?"
"Don't go, sweetheart," she whispered, like she had whispered before. "Please don't go."
Rose looked at her. "Aw, Mum," she said, sounding nineteen years old again, "It won't be like that. We all could-" And suddenly she grinned hugely. "We all could live here! You and Dad and Tony and Mickey, and me and him. All of us in the TARDIS!"
"This ain't a place for kids, Rose," Jackie said sadly.
"It could be! Tony wouldn't be in any danger, we'd all look after him!"
Jackie said the words no parents wants to say. "What if he dies, Rose? It happens. Your Doctor died. The man in the leather jacket, the one who wanted you safe, he died."
For one second Rose was angry, and afraid. "He came back! Regenerated! He's still the Doctor, my Doctor, and he would look after Tony, he'd look after all of us." She faltered. "Mum..."
"Rose," Jackie said gently. And Rose turned away, feeling the thing all adults have to feel, that sense of dreams slipping away.
"What does Mickey think?" she finally asked.
"Rose, that's the first time in years you've asked what Mickey thinks."
"Well, what does he think?"
"I don't know, Rose, he's left, he's staying here."
Then there were five. And with the departure of Mickey, Martha and Jack, a hush seemed to fall over the TARDIS.
"Just time for one more trip," the Doctor said. "Dalig Ulv Stranden, better known as Bad Wolf Bay."
"Doctor," Rose said, "Doctor, I need to talk to you, I thought we could pick up my family and we could all stay here..."
"Forever?" the Doctor said, before she could go on.
"Yes," Rose said. "Forever."
"Rose," the Doctor said gently, "no-one stays here forever."
"You alright?" said Jackie to Donna.
"Yeah," Donna said. "You?"
"No," said Jackie. "But s'alright, darling, things have been worse. Where's the Doctor dropping you off?"
"Oh, he isn't," Donna said. "I'm going to stay here forever."
Rose leaned back against the console and realised this might be the last time she would ever be inside the TARDIS, feel connected to it, and felt a dead weight in her heart. Jack was gone, Mickey was gone, and she felt gone.
"Sorry about Mickey," said the Doctor's voice, and she looked up and saw it was the blue-suited one, the human Doctor.
"That's okay," she said. "We weren't even friends anymore."
"When did you stop being friends?"
Rose remembered stinging words and thoughts, pain and anger. "Round the time we got the Dimension Cannon working."
The human Doctor sort of smiled. "Oh, Rose," he said, "Rose, you are selfish."
Rose gawped at him, not sure what to say. The stare she gave him seemed to last a lifetime. "So what if I am?" she finally said. "I wanted him back! I loved you! I mean, him."
The human Doctor nodded, reached for her hand just like the other Doctor did, but Rose pulled it away.
The TARDIS juddered and started to land.
"Rose Tyler," said the other Doctor, as he went to the door. "Do you want to come with me?"
"Out of the door."
"Yes," said Rose. "What's out there?"
Jack, Martha and Mickey sat in a London pub, empty bottles (mostly Jack's) littering the table, discussing the wonders of their lives.
"And then it took all my clothes off!" Jack yelled. "I'm not kidding! A gun that takes off your clothes! I just wish I'd smuggled one out with me, come in handy!"
The barman glanced towards them as if he was trying to pluck up the courage to throw them out.
"I can do better!" Mickey yelled. "The Cybermen! All over France! And the Eiffel Tower-"
"Time to change subject, Mickey Mouse, you can't have any more Cyberman stories."
Martha grinned at these antics and set down her glass. "Guys," she said, addressing both of them, "it's been great, it really has, but I need to get back to my family and my bloke."
Mickey and Jack exchanged a look.
"No problem," Jack said, and stood up to hug her. "I would nip you back myself, but the Doctor deactivated my vortex manipulator."
"Well, yeah," Mickey cut in, "God knows what you would do with that."
Martha hugged Mickey too. "Great to meet you," she said, with a big smile. As she broke away, Jack moved to kiss her.
"Whoa there, Jack. I'm still getting married."
"Married? Huh! Bring him along too sometime."
"Goodbye, Jack," Martha said cheerfully. "Goodbye, Mickey." And then she was gone.
The Doctor and Donna walked back into the TARDIS, the Doctor picturing Rose's face, trying to make sure it would stay in his mind as long as possible.
Now there were two...
...and then there was one.
And he was already making plans for his death.
Sarah Jane crushed her son into a hug the minute she saw him.
"Are the others okay?" she asked when she let go. "Clyde, Maria, their families?"
"Yeah, they're fine."
"Luke, Luke," she said, hugging him again. "I'm so glad you're okay."
"I'm so glad you're okay," said Sylvia Noble.
Donna looked up, surprised. "What is it, Mum, I weren't in any danger today!"
"No," Sylvia said. "But nonetheless." She turned to leave her daughter's room, and then stopped. "Donna. You do know I love you, right?"
Donna gawped at her, a memory resurfacing of the last time her mother had said those words, so long ago. She didn't know.
"Yeah, Mum, yeah, I know."
"Good," said Sylvia. "Come join me and your grandad for tea when you're ready, okay?"
"Rose," said the Doctor, as they stood there on the windswept beach. "I need you to try and remember something."
"It would be a New Year's Day," he said as the waves crashed. "A day of new beginnings."
"Doctor, what are you on about?"
"You would have seen me," he said. "Before I died, I would have gone to you."
"I'm going to die, Rose," he said simply. "The other me. He's going to regenerate and become a different man, quite soon, I think."
Rose tried to say something appropriate, something to convey the shock she felt, but all she could say was, again, "What?" And then the words she sought started to come. "He...you...I mean..."
"He'll die," the Doctor said again. "But I know what he'll do, because I know what I would do. He'll seek you out, Rose Tyler, you'll be the last human being he sees."
The magnitude of what the Doctor was saying was sinking in. "You mean...I'll see him again?"
"No," the Doctor said. "I mean you've already seen him. He starts to die, he goes back to see them all, his children of Earth, and you are the last. I know he does that because I'm him. You saw him, Rose, just before he died, before you even knew him he said goodbye."
Tears were coming to Rose's eyes. "Wait, wait. What you're saying is, he came back before I'd even met him? When he was dying?"
"Time travel," the Doctor said softly. "It's a funny thing."
Rose swiped a hand across her eyes and looked at her mother, standing a little way down the beach, talking to Pete and Tony on her mobile phone. Jackie waved, and Rose waved back, one hand still rubbing her face.
"I remember," she said. "Me and Mum were walking home. Mum went on ahead. And there was a man, a drunk man in the shadows, asked me what year it was. And I said 2005, and he said..."
"...'you're going to have a really great year.'"
Rose looked at him. "Yes," she said. "Because that's what you would have said, right?"
"Yes," the Doctor said simply. And he took both her hands in his.
"Rose Tyler. You're going to have a really great year."