A/N Last chapter. I hope you enjoy it, and thanks for coming along on this final installment to this series.
Rose dropped to her knees beside the fallen Doctor and cradled his head in her lap as Jake rushed over and began applying emergency pressure to the life-threatening wound in his chest.
Pete immediately radioed for help. "This is Gemini. Get a fix on my location and send medics down here. Now!"
"You're gonna be okay, you hear me?" came Rose's trembling voice. "It can't end like this! We've been through too much to get to this point only have it end now. I won't let this take you from me, I swear. I promised you forever, and we've only just begun! Hold on…just hold on!"
Her body draped over him as she pressed her forehead to his. "I told you not to die for me!" she sobbed, the words she had spoken to him days before now replaying in her mind.
Weakly, the Doctor raised his hand and placed it on her face. "I'm not dying for you, Rose," he rasped out. "I'm going to live for you."
Pete knelt beside them and placed a hand on the Doctor's arm. "Help is on the way," he assured. "The medics will be here any minute. You're going to be fine."
The Doctor slowly shook his head. "There's nothing they can do," he hissed through the pain.
"Don't say that," Pete admonished. "You'll be alright. We'll get you to Torchwood Medical. Fix you right up, they will."
The Doctor drew a stuttering breath, his words breaking with the effort it took to produce them. "No time. I'm…going to have to t-test…my theory of my body still being able to…r-repair itself even if I can't regenerate fully."
He lifted his hand and gazed at the faint, telltale glow that was now beginning to emanate from it. "It's started," he wheezed. "Help me stand up. Please."
Pete, Rose and Jake exchanged glances and came to a silent agreement. They had no other options. Rose stood back as Pete and Jake helped him to his feet. The Doctor placed his hand on the wall to steady himself and told the others to stand back.
Pete held Rose in a protective embrace as the Doctor's entire body began to radiate with energy. They had to shield their eyes as the light intensified. Rose had once begged the Doctor not to change as he was regenerating, but in this moment she didn't care if he became a new man or not, just as long as he lived.
The intense glow enveloped his entire being, but just before reaching the point of a full-on eruption of energy, it gradually began to dissipate. The Doctor staggered back as the regeneration energy coursing through him came to a sudden stop. He quickly looked down at the now healed wound in his chest, probing it with fingers that were still tingling.
"Blimey!" he gasped. "I seem to have developed a pattern of getting shot and then partially regenerating. Nasty habit, that."
Rose rushed forward and threw her arms around him, holding him as tight and close as she could despite the large protrusion of her belly making it difficult. "I thought I was gonna lose you!" she murmured into his neck.
"Not if I can help it," he promised.
Jake just stared in open-mouthed shock, even more gobsmacked than when he'd witnessed the TARDIS dematerialize for the first time.
"W-what," he stammered, "what was that?!"
Pete gave him a pat on the back. "That was the Doctor for you. Apparently nothing should surprise us anymore when it comes to him."
Rose pulled back from the Doctor's embrace and placed a hand on his still blood-soaked chest, feeling the miraculous solidity beneath her hand and the strong beats of his hearts, assuring herself that he was really okay. Just then, another powerful contraction suddenly seized her, and she sank to her knees in pain. The Doctor knelt beside her and looked up at Pete.
"I need to get her to the TARDIS. Now!"
"We'll have to go on foot. We disabled their transport system when we took the building," Pete informed him.
The Doctor and Pete each took Rose by an arm and helped her stand.
"You're in charge here," Pete delegated over his shoulder to Jake as they led Rose from the room.
"Good luck!" Jake called out as they swiftly headed down the hall.
The journey seemed long and agonizing, but in little more than five minutes they had reached the TARDIS. Upon entering, the Doctor stopped briefly at the console to set the coordinates for departure. Even with the threat now over, he didn't want Rose or the baby anywhere near this place a minute longer.
He and Pete then helped Rose to the infirmary and onto the bed. The Doctor had set the TARDIS to land back at the safety of Rose's London flat, and Jackie was already there waiting. Pete had phoned to let her know the minute her daughter had been found and assured her the Doctor would be returning with Rose soon. She wasted no time getting to the flat and had been anxiously waiting for their return.
As soon as she heard the blessed sound of the TARDIS materializing, she ran to it, through open the doors and hurried through the ship in search for Rose. Upon finding them in the infirmary, she rushed to Rose's side, enveloping her in an embrace of utter relief.
"Oh, Rose," she half sobbed.
She then fully registered that they were in the infirmary and Rose appeared to be in distress. "Are you okay, sweetheart? Are you hurt? What's happened?" she asked in growing concern.
"The baby's coming, Mum!" Rose replied, half in excitement and half in fear.
Jackie reached up and stroked her daughter's head. "Oh, sweetheart, you'll be just fine," she said reassuringly. "Remember what you told me – you're in the best of hands, yeah?"
Rose smiled faintly and nodded. Jackie then looked up at the Doctor, a look of horror instantly overtaking her face at the sight of his blood-stained chest.
The Doctor followed her gaze down to his soiled shirt then back up to her. "It's a long story," he supplied quickly. "But trust me, everything's fine now."
Jackie just continued to gape at him. Pete came over and put his arm around his wife. "Come on, Jacks," he urged. "Let's give them some space. The Doctor can take over from here."
Jackie turned back to Rose and took her hand, giving a squeeze. "We'll be right outside. You can do this, Rose," she encouraged. "Everything's gonna be fine." She then looked back to the Doctor. "Take care of her, Doctor," she said earnestly. "Both of them."
He placed his hand on her shoulder. "I will. I promise."
Jackie and Pete left the room, and the Doctor turned his sole attention to Rose. He leaned forward and kissed her softly, then stroked her hair, whispering words of encouragement.
He helped Rose get comfortable, then moved to the end of the bed and lifted the sheet to check her progress.
"You're nearly 6 centimeters dilated," he announced. "You've made a lot of progress, but there's still a bit more to go."
Rose cried out as she felt another contraction coming on. The Doctor moved to her side and took her hand. "Just remember to breathe," he said, trying to interject lightness in his tone. "Breathing's good."
"Shut up," Rose panted, half in annoyance but unable to hide the slight smile that crept to her face. It soon disappeared as the contraction intensified, along with her grip on his hand.
The Doctor brushed the hair back from her face as the pain eased up. "Are you ready to try what we talked about?" he asked.
Rose shook her head no. "Don't want to hurt you," she said breathlessly.
The Doctor swelled with love at her words. His Rose never ceased to amaze him. Not that he was overly experienced with this sort of thing, but it seemed a universal constant for laboring women to be screaming at the male for having done this to them. Yet here she was in the midst of her agony, concerned with causing him pain.
"Rose," he said gently, "we're in this together, remember? We're a team – Shiver and Shake, and all that. You're not alone in this, Rose. Let me share this with you."
Rose bit her lip in hesitation, but as the beginnings of another contraction hit, she relented and nodded in consent. The Doctor placed his fingers on her temple to fully open the link. They didn't usually need physical contact to initiate their connection, but Rose was more than a little preoccupied at the moment and needed assistance.
"Try to focus on giving me what you're feeling," he encouraged.
She did, and the Doctor was suddenly hit with a portion of the pain she was feeling. Not quite prepared for such intensity, he sank to his knees beside the bed, struggling to keep his fingers in contact with her temple. He was just glad Donna couldn't see him right then. He could just imagine what she'd say – the almighty Time Lord brought to his knees from a few seconds of the pain that was only a fraction of what Rose was experiencing.
The Doctor regained his wits and realized he wasn't exactly doing his part here. He was supposed to be dulling the sensation to help ease her pain. He gathered his concentration and focused on helping her through this.
With the next several contractions, they established a rhythm of giving and taking and sharing the pain as he tried to help ease it. Their combined efforts gave Rose a measure of relief. It didn't completely stop the pain, but it helped take the edge off.
Nevertheless, the labor was beginning to take its toll on Rose, and she was becoming increasingly drained. The Doctor had feared that her ordeal during the past several days might cause complications with the delivery, and he soon discovered his fear to be a reality.
While connected so deeply, he was not only able to feel Rose's pain, but see it. Her psyche was sapped of control and she was not able to shield what was transmitted to him through their shared connection. He saw her thoughts – her recent memories as if they were his own. One in particular was assaulting her again and again.
She had been tortured.
That psychopathic monster had inflicted physical suffering upon her. It had nearly killed her and their unborn child. The Doctor was almost sick at the revelation of just how bad the final hours of her captivity had been.
Rose knew he had seen. She could feel his anger and sheer anguish through their link. She would have no doubt shielded this from him if she could, deciding the centuries of burdens upon his shoulders were already far more than enough. So even still, she sought to mitigate his own distress.
"It…wasn't so bad," she rasped faintly, attempting a feeble smile.
"Oh, Rose," he choked. "Never, never will anyone touch so much as a hair on your head ever again. I swear it. I swear it." Instinctively needing to ease this pain for her too, he sought after the harsh memories and flooded over them with his comfort and reassurance. It didn't erase the pain, but just like the other form of relief he was currently providing her, it helped to ease it.
The after-effects of the ordeal were not over, though. Several minutes later, an alarm sounded on one of the numerous machines monitoring her condition. A rapid assessment gave him the grim news. The placenta had prematurely separated from the wall of the uterus, and Rose was now beginning to hemorrhage. Such a condition could be caused by extreme physical stress, and the trial of the past several days had undoubtedly led to this, along with the premature labor.
Working as rapidly as he possibly could, the Doctor was able to administer something to stop the bleeding, but she had already lost a massive amount of blood in the time it took to halt the crisis. It was in that moment when the changes to Rose's body became a double-edged sword. She was no longer compatible to receive a human blood transfusion, but she wasn't similar enough to a Time Lord to receive blood from him. Her body would eventually compensate due to its enhanced healing ability, but she had to be sustained long enough to make it to that point.
In her now-weakened state, Rose was beginning to lose consciousness, and the Doctor was rapidly growing more and more concerned.
"Rose, stay with me," he said urgently.
"So tired…," she murmured.
He took her face in his hands. "I know you are, love. But you need to stay awake. Can you do that for me? Just a little longer, I promise. Our baby will be here before you know it, and you're both going to be just fine. This will all be over soon."
Rose slowly opened her eyes and smiled weakly at him. She knew. It was evident in her eyes that she knew how critical her condition was becoming. "I love you," she whispered. "I promised you forever, and I don't want to leave you. But if I do, this time you won't be alone. You'll have our daughter, and a part of me will always be with you," she finished softly, beginning to give in to the weariness that was quickly claiming her.
The Doctor shook his head and had to fight back the tears stinging he eyes. He didn't want her to see his desperation. "No, Rose. I won't be alone because I'll have both of you. She and I need you. I can't live without you, Rose." He could no longer fight the tears that were now tracking down his face. A part of him wanted to rage in hatred at the man who had caused her such physical distress and brought her to this point. But overpowering even the intensity of that emotion was one of anguish. How could he possibly survive one more unthinkable, savage loss? Would there be anything left of him if Rose were ripped from his life, too?
Rose, knowing his very soul, strove to save him from himself one more time. "W-whatever happens, don't you dare let this take away who you are. Because who you are inside is the greatest man I've ever known. Even if you couldn't see it, I could. Don't let anything ever change that. Please." She reached up and touched his cheek, her voice now a hoarse whisper. "And tell her… Tell our daughter how much I love her. Even if I never held her in my arms, I held her in my heart."
"Rose!" he cried in desperation. "I won't let you go. I won't! You have to hang on. You have to fight!"
"'M sorry," she whispered as her eyes slipped shut and she lost consciousness.
"No, Rose!" he cried out again. "Stay with me…please. You can do this!"
There was no response.
The Doctor had to reach her, had to push her to keep fighting with all she had. There was only one way he could do that. He closed his eyes and focused on merging fully with her mind. As he did, he could see Rose's faint essence.
He surrounded her dwindling life force with his own and drew her with him into his own mind. He carried her back to the place he had shown her on their wedding night when they first bonded – back to the hill overlooking Gallifrey.
Rose felt total peace. Total calm. The agony and chaos of the labor and its complications faded away like morning mist swept clear by a summer breeze.
She found herself standing beside the Doctor, and she inwardly thought that this might be their last moment together. He turned towards her and took her hand, his own voice and demeanor now placid as they communed in the safe cocoon of this sacred place.
"There's something I need you to see. Look at the timelines, Rose."
He indicated the expanse before then. The Gallifreyan scape faded, and now, between the Mountains of Solace and Solitude swirled timelines extending even beyond where the eye could see. She was gazing upon their own timeline, currently stretched out before her. Within the whirl of light and life and possibility now existed that of the baby's as well, their child's own thread branching out from them. As Rose watched, the baby's thread seemed to fracture and spread in a thousand directions.
"It's shattering," Rose said fearfully. "Does that mean the baby…?"
He placed his hand on her cheek, turning her eyes to his as he smiled widely. "It's not shattering. It's branching out," he explained, his voice filled with awe. "Branching out to the farthest reaches of the universe. This is the Time Lords reborn. A brand new race. You did this, Rose. You've given my people back to me. And you and I will both live to see this day. Together."
"I don't know if I can," she whispered, voice breaking as she recalled the fragile state of her corporeal form.
"Oh, Rose, if there is one thing I've learned, it's that there is nothing you can't do," he affirmed.
The Doctor took both her hands in his firm grasp. "You can do this. I know you can. But you have to come back to me. Fight for this, Rose Tyler. For me, for us, for our offspring. It's time to bring our baby into the world."
With that, he slipped from her mind and was once again looking into Rose's pale, lifeless face. Her pulse was dangerously low and the baby was becoming distressed. But he feared surgery was too risky for Rose in her weakened state if he were to take the baby by C-section.
She rallied for a brief moment, her pulse rising, and he knew his remarkable Rose was indeed fighting. She could not, however, hold out much longer. In the precious few moments her burgeoning strength had given him, his mind continued racing with thoughts of what to do. It was then the answer came to him.
His body was still buzzing with energy from his own brush with death and partial regeneration. If he could impart some of that restorative power to Rose, it might be enough to get her through this.
In the same way he had once taken deadly power from her, he now gave her life-sustaining energy: with a kiss. As he parted her mouth and touched his lips to hers, he breathed the golden energy into her being.
He eased back, golden wisps mingling between their shared breaths .The seconds ticked by in agonizing slowness as he waited for any sign that the desperate effort had been enough.
Gradually, her pulse began to strengthen, as did the baby's, and the color of life returned to her cheeks. Her heart rate became steady even as his galloped uncontrollably. Rose slowly opened her eyes and was met by his gaze, brimming with utter joy and relief.
"Hello," she whispered.
He swallowed down the lump in his throat as he stroked her cheek. "Oh, Rose. I knew you could do it!" He touched his forehead to hers and whispered. "I knew you could." He eased back, eyes growing strong, steady and resolved. "And you can finish this," he encouraged. "I know you can. We're almost there. I know you're exhausted and you've been through so much, but on the next contraction, I need you to try to push, okay?"
Rose took in a deep, strengthening breath and nodded. She felt the next contraction coming and the urge to push. She summoned all the strength within her and began to bear down.
"That's it!" he cried. "Just a little more, then take a breath."
Rose dropped her head back to the bed, breathing heavily as she prepared for the next round of pushing. With the next contraction, she pushed hard once again, the Doctor encouraging her every step of the way.
She managed to push through several more contractions, though growing more weary each time.
"You're doing it, Rose! That's it! I can see her head!" he finally cried out excitedly.
Rose was panting hard as the Doctor urged her to push once more.
She shook her head weakly from side to side. "Can't," she breathed. "I can't do this anymore."
The Doctor reached up and squeezed her hand. "Yes you can!" he encouraged. "You're doing it right now, and you're amazing! Just a little more and our baby will be here, Rose. You can do this, I know you can!"
Taking a deep breath and gathering every last bit of her strength, she began to push one last time.
"She's coming, Rose! That's it! She's almost here!"
Rose cried out as the pain and strenuous labor of the past few hours culminated in this one, final moment. She continued to push with all she had as the baby slipped from her body and into the Doctor's grasp.
"You did it! Oh, Rose you did it!" He was crying tears of joy as their baby let out her first loud wail. The baby was crying loud and strong, and they had never heard a more glorious sound.
After checking that her airways were clear, the Doctor cut the cord, then wrapped the baby in a blanket and placed her on Rose's chest. He had seen life begin a thousand times over in countless ways during his exceedingly long existence, but never had he experienced a miracle such as this. He kissed Rose on the forehead, his voice trembling as he murmured into her hair. "I love you, Rose. Oh, I love you so much." Then he pulled back and smiled widely. "You did it!"
Rose smiled tiredly back at him. "We did it." She then looked back down at the baby in her arms. "Oh, just look at what we did. We made her," she remarked in awe.
The Doctor took the baby's tiny pink hand between his fingers. "The stuff of legend, we are," he said proudly.
"Quite right, too," she replied back.
The Doctor was wholly overwhelmed with the intensity of love he had for Rose and their new daughter. He gazed at them both with unadulterated awe. Rose's hair was drenched in sweat and she looked like she had been through a gory battle. But to him she had never been more beautiful than she was at this moment.
After several precious moments together, the Doctor cleaned up all three of them, then invited Jackie and Pete to come meet their new granddaughter.
"Oh…," Jackie gasped as she stepped closer, "Oh, Rose, she's beautiful!" she exclaimed softly as she gazed at the baby in Rose's arms. Her eyes then scanned her daughter's wearied face. "How are you feeling, sweetheart?"
Rose rested her head on the Doctor's shoulder as he sat beside her on the infirmary bed. "Exhausted." Then she looked up at him and smiled. "But the Doctor took good care of us both." Rose shifted the sleeping baby in her arms. "Would you like to hold her and say hello?"
Jackie's eyes began to mist with tears as she took the baby in her arms for the first time. Pete stepped closer to get a proper look. The child was a marvel, a perfect blending of two species and the creation of something entirely new. But all Jackie saw was her beloved baby granddaughter. "Hello. Oh, you precious little thing," she cooed. "Look at you, you're perfect. You look just like your mum when she was born."
The Doctor stood up and stepped closer to the baby, his fingers already itching to touch her again. He had to keep assuring himself that she was real, that she was actually his. It hardly seemed possible. He'd thought himself damaged and marred and tainted beyond hope for so long, the darkness significantly dulled but still lurking even after Rose had entered his life. Was it possible for something so pure and flawless to have come from him? Her tiny hand gripped his finger as he reached his hand towards her. Such a miniscule action, yet profound. Another portion of his soul was healed in that moment.
"Would you like to hold her, Pete?" the Doctor asked, wanting to share his family with those who had accepted him into their own.
Pete smiled. "If you can pry her away from her grandmum."
Pete had never seen a man so full of pride as the Doctor took the baby in his arms and passed her to him, grinning so wide it looked like his face might split in two.
"Hello, beautiful," Pete greeted softly. "I can't wait to get to know you. And if you're anything like your mum and dad, you're going to be quite the handful."
The proud parents both grinned as the Doctor sat back down beside Rose and wrapped his arm around her. Jackie looked up at them both.
"Have you decided on a name yet?" Pete queried.
They looked at each other blankly. "We…still haven't decided," Rose admitted.
"Well, whatever you choose, I know it will be just perfect for her," Jackie said, now having no doubts in the creative abilities of these two if her granddaughter was anything to go by.
As soon as Rose was feeling strong enough, the Doctor transferred her from the infirmary and settled her and the baby into their room. He sat beside her on the bed as she cradled their newborn daughter in her arms.
Rose ran her hand gently over the baby's whisper-soft hair and grinned at the way light brown wisps stuck up on top at all angles, just like her father's. She was a beautiful baby, if the Doctor and Rose did say so themselves. She had the Doctor's aforementioned hair but also his wide, expressive eyes, along with Rose's apple cheeks and Cupid's bow mouth. Her eyes were so innocent and full of life, yet at the same time there was something undeniably ancient deep within.
The Doctor didn't think there was anyone in all the universe who had ever brimmed with as much joy as he did in this moment. After all he had lost in life, all the suffering he had endured, he never in his wildest dreams imagined that his existence would one day be graced with such a gift. His mind drifted to the Time Lord in the other universe who himself had been given a new start, and he hoped that somehow, someday, his counterpart might be afforded a measure of this same peace.
He looked at Rose – his wife, the mother of his child, his bond mate, his everything – and breathed deeply as he placed his hand on the side of her face, reverently stroking her cheek with his thumb. How many times had seemingly hopeless situations threatened to separate them? Yet here they were, overcoming the impossible time and again and still together against all odds.
"You know what?" he began, his eyes twinkling as they met hers. "They keep on trying to split us up, but they never ever will."
Rose smiled back, utterly spent but utterly happy. "I thought you were the one who said, 'never say never ever'," she reminded him.
"Ah, but that," he responded, "was before I'd come to realize that it couldn't possibly apply to you and me. And before I knew about our incredible destiny that was waiting for us."
He gazed back down at his contented daughter in Rose's arms and gently traced his finger down her plump, rosy cheek.
"Our beautiful destiny," he repeated in a whisper.
He and Rose slowly lifted their eyes to each other as matching smiles spread across both their faces.
Rose looked back down at the baby, and one look confirmed it. "I think we've finally found your name, little one. You were here waiting for us all along – through denials and regenerations and battles and parallel universes and Dimension Cannons and Metacrises. Just took your mum and dad a bit to catch up, was all. But you were always waiting. Destiny Tyler."
Rose looked back to the Doctor with a questioning gaze, though she needn't have wondered. "What do you think?"
His mega-watt grin, which now seemed as if it had always been in practice for just this moment, lit up his entire face. "Brilliant!"
He leaned forward as Rose met him halfway, and they kissed softly and slowly as little Destiny cooed happily between them. This, both realized, was the meaning of perfection.
Oh, they were acquainted with reality well enough to know it might not always seem that way. There would be the challenges of raising a child of mixed lineage. She would be given experiences most children could never have, but at the cost of a 'typical' childhood. And there was the pressing burden of keeping her safe in an often perilous universe. And sobering of all was the knowledge that with the greatest gift the Doctor had ever known came the possibility of the greatest loss, should the unimaginable ever even attempt to take place.
These, however, were thoughts not meant for a moment such as this. No. For just this once, all was right in the universe. And if the universe ever decided to say otherwise, it quite possibly would meet its ultimate match in this Family of Time.
Time itself sang a lullaby as its newest offspring slept, and the Doctor and Rose were certain of one thing: The greatest adventure of all had only just begun.