A/N Final chapter. Thank you to everyone who has read, reviewed and encouraged my first endeavor! There will be a few sequels to follow.
A short time later, everyone was gathered in the console room where the Doctor had just finished explaining his plan. They all thought he was just a bit mad, which was nothing new, really. But once they moved a little beyond the shock and disbelieve, everyone was excited at the possibility of what this could mean for the Doctor and Rose. If any two people deserved a chance for a life together, it was them. The Doctor had sacrificed so much for the sake of the universe, and it was time the universe gave him something back.
That didn't mean they weren't skeptical of this seemingly daft idea. After answering their numerous questions and, much to his displeasure, having Donna compare Time Lords to worms for having the ability to, as she put it, 'Lop a bit off and grow some more', it was finally time to put this plan into action.
But first, the Doctor bounded off back down the corridor, then reappeared a moment later holding a familiar blue dressing gown. To answer the quizzical looks he was receiving he explained, "The new Doctor will grow fully formed, but not fully clothed; I have to protect a Time Lord's dignity, after all."
"You kept this?" Rose asked, slightly amused.
"'Course I did! A dressing gown with pockets can be quite useful," he reasoned. "Especially for storing the occasional satsuma. Never underestimate the value of a satsuma in a crisis," he told her in all seriousness. "Or a banana for that matter."
He was babbling and he knew it. The fact of the matter was the Doctor was slightly terrified. But he was determined to do this, so he summoned his courage and forced himself to refocus.
"Right then!" He took a deep breath, "Time to do this."
"Good luck," Rose offered, taking his hand and giving a reassuring squeeze.
All eyes were trained on the Doctor as he approached the jar and instructed everyone to stand back. He placed the dressing gown beside it as he knelt, then drew a steadying breath and reached his right hand out towards the glass casing. He looked up once more at the others as they held their breath in anticipation, and then slowly placed his hand on the glass.
A golden glow began to emanate from his hand and encompass the jar. The energy grew until the entire room was illuminated with the golden light radiating around the Doctor, causing everyone to shield their eyes from the intensity. The power continued to intensify until, suddenly, the glass shattered, and the Doctor fell back on his heels, breathing heavily.
The hand was now lying on the grating of the floor, golden energy still swirling about it. Slowly, the fingers began to twitch. Then, almost instantaneously, the figure of a man began to take shape and shot up into a sitting position.
This new man quickly slipped on the dressing gown, and then, quite literally, sprang into life and began taking personal inventory.
"Legs! I've still got legs. Good! Arms, hands, oooh, fingers...lots of fingers. Ears, yes. Eyes, too. Nose – and I've had worse. Chin, blimey! Hair..." Then a look of horror crossed his face. "I'm a girl!" he squeaked. "No! No, I'm not a girl,' he assured himself, then pulled a lock of shaggy hair down in front of his eyes. "And still not ginger!" he noted with disappointment.
The Time Lord metacrisis then spun around and faced the Tenth Doctor. "Ha! We did it! We did it!" he exclaimed, as they both threw their arms around each other, laughing and grinning like loons.
The Eleventh Doctor, still bouncing with energy, turned to the others. "Now if you'll excuse me, I think a trip to the wardrobe is in order. Oh, I've always loved this bit," he said, grinning. "A new look for a new man!" Then he contemplated for a moment. "I wonder if I can find a bow tie? Oh, this is Christmas!" he cried enthusiastically, and sprinted off down the corridor.
Everyone just stood there in stunned silence, gaping after him. Then Donna piped up. "Honestly, do you just get more barmy each time 'round?" she asked the Doctor sarcastically.
"Oi!" he cried in offense, as the others stifled a laugh.
Later on, after hugs and bitter-sweet goodbyes, The Doctor dropped off Sarah Jane, Jack, Martha, and Mickey back on Earth.
Donna had accompanied the new Doctor to the TARDIS' kitchen after saying he needed to 'test-dive' his new taste buds. Jackie joined them a short while later, saying that she needed a good cuppa to calm her nerves. She had sworn she would never recover from this day. Jackie couldn't hide her joy, however, at knowing she wouldn't be losing her daughter after all, and Rose would finally have the happiness back in her life that had been missing for too long.
Donna and the new Doctor were just emerging back into the console room as the Doctor was making his way back up the ramp.
"You. Are. BONKERS!" she said to the new Doctor as they came into the room.
"Why? What's wrong with fish custard?" he asked in confusion. "It's rather delicious. Don't criticize it until you've tried it for yourself, Donna Noble," he challenged.
"Not on your life, Sunshine," she gasped. Then she looked him up and down in his new tweed attire. "You were really serious about the bow tie?" she questioned skeptically.
"Of course I was," he answered, proudly straightening the aforementioned accessory. "Bow ties are cool."
"You really are a proper bonkers Doctor, aren't you?" she remarked, as she shook her head.
The new Doctor continued, seemingly ignoring her remark. "The only thing I'm lacking to complete the look is a fez," he said in all seriousness.
"Oh, you are kidding me! No way! I am not traveling through time and space with a bow-tied, fez-wearing alien," she told him sternly. "So you can just forget about that, Space Man."
The new Doctor let it drop, but the impish look in his eye said this probably wasn't the last of that conversation.
The Tenth Doctor was looking on, a smile tugging at his lips as he thought to himself that maybe everything really was going to work out for everyone after all. Sometimes, on rare and precious occasions, the universe was kind.
But to be completely sure, there was still one last conversation he needed to have. He took the opportunity to pull Donna aside while Rose and the Eleventh Doctor began talking with each other — yet another complex conversation, no doubt.
Once one-on-one with Donna, he had a little trouble figuring out where to start. Just how did one go about saying goodbye to a best mate, glad that she would still be with a part of himself yet selfishly wishing she could remain with him, too?
"Donna, I...," he trailed off, running a hand through his hair anxiously.
Donna smiled fondly at the faltering Time Lord. It was nothing short of miraculous that he had committed to taking this leap with Rose, because when it came to expressing himself emotionally, he was like a dying fish out of water.
"Oh, save it," she told him, knowing where this was headed and taking pity on his inability to just come out with it. "Look, Doctor, you've been pining for Rose since the moment I met you, and now you finally have her back. Of course you're going to stay with her. I think you two might actually be meant for each other," she teased. Then grew serious, giving his arm an affectionate squeeze. "And you have no idea how happy I am for you. You deserve this, you know?"
"Thank you, Donna," he responded in a relieved tone. What else could he say, really? Well…there was one thing. "You know, you could always…well…come with us, if you wanted," he offered, attempting a casual shrug. He already knew what the answer would be, but he still wanted give her the choice and let her know she was always welcome.
Donna snorted. "Oh, I don't think so! Seeing you look at Rose like a love-sick puppy all day has been enough for me," she laughed. "And I know what it will be like – you two will be all over each other constantly. It'll be sickening!"
The Doctor blushed deep red, which only made Donna laugh harder.
"Seriously though, Doctor," she continued. "You and Rose have each other now, the way it was meant to be, I think. And from what I've seen, this new Doctor is really gonna need me," she added with a sigh as she looked back over at the newly-hatched version. She then leaned in to whisper pityingly. "There is no way he'd make it on his own."
The Doctor laughed. "He will need you, Donna. You're brilliant," he told her proudly.
"Yes, I am," she agreed confidently.
The Doctor chuckled and pulled her into a hug. "Oh, Donna Noble. What would I have done without you?"
A fading memory from the parallel world she had experienced briefly flashed in her mind — a memory where the Doctor allowed death to claim him along with the adversary he was fighting, because there had been no one to stop him.
"I'm just glad I was there for you when you needed me, Doctor. And I wouldn't have missed it for the world."
"We had the best of times, didn't we?" he said with a fond smile.
"That we did. And you know what? It's not over yet," she predicted with excitement.
"Yeah," he agreed, as he gazed back over at Rose with a feeling akin to wonder.
Meanwhile, the Eleventh Doctor and Rose had been having their own conversation — a complicated fusion of hello and goodbye.
"So...," Rose started, not quite sure of what to even say. "New, new, new Doctor?" she remarked with a nervous laugh.
He smiled boyishly. "So what do you think? Tell me the truth. Good different or bad different?"
"Just...different," she told him, feeling a strange sense of Déjàvu. She struggled to find the right words as she continued. "I want you to know that…if there was still just the one you, and then he became this you… Oh, this is so confusing." Rose shook her head. Just trying to wrap her mind around all this was going to take time. "What I'm trying to say is that I would always...love you, no matter what."
This new man was clearly touched. "And that, Rose Tyler, is why you will always be so special to me. What I told you before, when I was still him, was true. You will always hold a very special place in my hearts. Nothing is ever forgotten – not completely. And while a part of me will still love you, the love he has for you has stayed with him. And even though I'll miss you, I am so very happy that the two of you have this chance to be together. I may not be the same man, but I remember the sorrow felt when you were lost. But now I feel nothing but happiness knowing what the two of you have ahead."
Rose hugged him then, and even though the arms around her felt different, it still felt a bit like being home. He said a part of her would always be in his hearts. The same held true in regard to her feelings for him.
"And besides," he continued as they pulled back, "I won't be on my own. I've still got Madame." He indicated toward Donna. "I may never be ginger," he added, "but I think I was destined to at least have a ginger companion."
"Yeah," Rose smiled and agreed. "You two are gonna be great," she told him, as they hugged once more.
She realized with a bittersweet sense of certainty that this man who was the Doctor wasn't entirely her Doctor. Not anymore. He would go on without her and be okay. Maybe that should have stung more deeply than it did. Her eyes, however, caught sight of the man who had just pledged his love and given her his hearts. The man whose manic, crinkly-eyed grin and soulful brown eyes had haunted her dreams and driven her efforts for the past two years. He was hers. Completely. Had been and would always be. No emotion other than joy seemed capable of seizing her heart on this day, no matter how complex loving a man named the Doctor might be.
The time had come for one last trip. Together, the Doctors guided the TARDIS through the transient gap between worlds. As Rose and Jackie were saying their goodbye's to Donna, Rose noticed the two Doctors talking animatedly about something while her Doctor appeared to be removing a chunk of TARDIS coral with his sonic.
Her curiosity got the better of her. She made her way over to him and asked quizzically, "What are you up to, Doctor? Nicking a bit of the TARDIS for a souvenir?"
He gave her an affronted look. "I'll have you know, Rose Tyler, that this," he said, now holding up the chunk triumphantly, "is going to be our new TARDIS!"
"What?" she asked in astonishment.
"Remember when I once told you that TARDIS's were grown, not built?" She nodded, still confused. "Well, that's exactly what we're going to do with this!" he said with excitement.
"He and I put our heads together," he indicated Eleven, "and we came up with a brilliant idea that we never would have thought of on our own."
"It's quite simple, really," the Eleventh Doctor went on to explain as Donna and Jackie now joined them, looking as puzzled as Rose. "If you shatterfry the plasmic shell and modify the dimensional stabilizer to a foldback harmonic of 36.3..."
Then her Doctor took up and finished, "...you accelerate the growth by the power of 59!"
"Brilliant!" they both exclaimed in unison.
"Which means?" Rose questioned, more confused than ever.
"It means," Ten clarified, "that instead of taking thousands of years, we can grow our own TARDIS in a matter of months!"
"Our own TARDIS?" She could hardly believe her ears. "We can still have our own TARDIS and it will be able to travel in the other universe?"
"Since it will be grown there and draw its power there from the start, then yes, it will most definitely work." he assured her.
A smile lit up her face as she hugged both Doctors at once. This incredible day kept living up to that definition.
Eleven pulled back and smiled at her as he pronounced, "The Doctor in the TARDIS with Rose Tyler, just as it should be."
There was nothing more to be said, really. And no more time in which to say it. The walls of reality were closing, and this was it. Time to embrace the future.
Just before exiting, Rose turned to her Doctor as a last-minute thought suddenly occurred to her. "Hold on…don't you need to pack, or something?"
"Already done," he informed her, while patting his pockets.
She raised a quizzical brow, to which the Doctor stated simply, "Bigger on the inside."
Rose shook her head and just let it drop. She wondered if the Doctor would ever cease to confound her. Somehow, she doubted it.
As she turned to head down the ramp, the Doctor smiled, thinking about something very important his pocket contained: a White Point Star. To most it would just appear to be a large diamond, but it was much more than that. It was a piece of his home. One of the few remnants he had from Gallifrey. The plans swirling in his head were terrifying enough to take his breath away, yet as natural as the breath currently alluding him. He would have it set in a silver band engraved with his name, his true name. And he would offer it to Rose.
He was already making plans for that moment. Perhaps, he thought, on their first trip out in their new TARDIS. He would take her to Barcelona, he decided - the planet, not the city. He never did have a chance to take her there. Now they had forever, thanks to this brilliant, second chance.
Second chances, he pondered. Maybe he really was that sort of a man after all.
"Oh, fat lot of good this is! Back of beyond. Bloody Norway!" Jackie complained as they exited the TARDIS.
"Sorry, Jackie, it's the best I can do," replied the Doctor. "The walls between the universes are at their weakest here, so I can bring the TARDIS through whilst doing the least amount of damage."
Jackie, however, didn't seem convinced as she continued to glare at him while fishing in her pocket for her mobile. Then she headed off a ways down the beach trying to find a signal so she could call Pete and tell him to come rescue her.
The Tenth Doctor turned to the Eleventh, shook his hand, and gave him some parting advice. "Just remember," he said solemnly. "With great power comes great responsibility." He frowned. "No, hold on…sorry. That's Spider Man. But, the point still stands."
The Eleventh Doctor smirked. "Actually, I'm technically the older one now. Number eleven, remember? So I should be the one giving you advice," he replied in a superior tone.
Donna cut in before they could continue. "Oh, don't' start!" she rolled her eyes. "If you're both gonna get into the whole 'I'm a more impressive Time Lord than you' bit, we'll be here all day. Why don't you both just admit that for all of your 'Time Lord Superiority', the truth of the matter is you'd be completely helpless without the women in your lives. So have we got that settled?" They both nodded mutely. "Good. Now as for you...," Donna said, turning to Ten. "You behave yourself. And just...be magnificent."
The Doctor smiled and pulled her into a hug. "Yeah, I think I will. And you know, Donna, I think Rose was right. Travel between parallel worlds might not be so impossible after all. This trip makes number three," he reasoned. "So the next time the universes are coming to an end and the walls between worlds are weakened, I have a feeling we just might see each other again. So, I'll see you at the end of the world, then?" he asked with a grin.
"That's a date," she agreed, then quickly amended, "Well, not a date. Oh, you know what I mean." The Doctor just laughed and hugged her once more.
The Tenth Doctor and Rose stood hand in hand as Donna and Eleven made their way back to the TARDIS, already making plans for their next trip. It was a funny old life, indeed; never stopping, never slowing, never ceasing to be fantastic.
"I thought we could try the planet Felspoon," said Eleven. "They have mountains that sway in the breeze. Mountains that move...can you imagine!" he said excitedly, as they disappeared into the TARDIS to begin the next chapter of their adventures together.
The Doctor moved behind Rose, wrapped his arms around her waist and rested his chin on her head. "Just think," he said with quiet enthusiasm, "it's all waiting out there, Rose. And it's brand new to me. All those planets and creatures and horizons – I haven't seen them yet, not in this universe." He looked down into her eyes as she looked up into his, and he gave her his mega-watt grin. "And it is gonna be..."
"...Fantastic!" they finished together.
"So, where are we gonna go first?" Rose asked, brimming with delight.
The Doctor stretched out his arm and pointed up into the sky. "That way." Then he considered their endless options. "No, hold on." He moved his hand slightly more to the right. "That way," he said with certainty, then wrapped both arms around her once more.
Their blissful moment was interrupted by the angry voice of Jackie Tyler making her way back towards them. "Two days!" she yelled. "Pete said it would be two days before he could get us back home from here! Stuck in bloody Norway for two bloody days, and all because of you, you plum!"
As she continued to advance upon him, waving her mobile menacingly in his direction, the Doctor quickly turned to Rose and said urgently, but with a mischievous glint in his eye, "Rose Tyler, RUN!"
Broad grins broke out across both their faces as they ran, hand in hand down the beach.
And they never stopped running. Yet this time it was without hesitation or regrets into this brilliant new life they had always been destined for. Out to the stars and across the universe.
The Doctor and Rose.
The Stuff of Legend.
Just as it should be.