AN: And we've come to the second-to-last chapter! It's been wonderful to finish this story, and I hope that you all have enjoyed it as much as I have. Thank you so much for sticking through it all, even when you thought I had abandoned it, and thank you for leaving your wonderful reviews, they mean so much to me, they really do. I hope you all enjoy this chapter.
Disclaimer: I own nothing.
By the time Rose reached the console room, trailing clumsily after the Doctor, the world seemed to be closing in around her, squeezing all the breath out of her lungs and making her trip over her own feet. The Doctor grabbed her by her shoulders and steadied her.
"Doctor, w-what are you talking about?" she asked, laughing out of shock as she wiped cold tears away from her eyes. "I thought she couldn't be saved."
"That's what I thought too, but then I realized, what if that wasn't Sophie at all?"
"I don't understand what you're saying..."
"When I rescued you from Demon's Run, they switched her with a duplicate," he said, whipping through his words breathlessly. "But what if they did it again? And what if, that was the plan all along? What if they wanted us to find a fourteen-year-old version of her, as a-a distraction?"
"But why would they do that?" she said.
"Because they knew we'd keep looking for her," he continued, practically frolicking around the console as he flipped switches and turned dials. "So they needed something to guarantee that we wouldn't keep on chasing them. So they created another duplicate and they let her escape somewhere they knew we would find her."
"So the real Sophie's still out there?"
"Yes, and not only that," he grabbed her by her shoulders and kissed her on the head. "We can rescue the infant version of her."
Rose looked away, unsure how to react. For a moment, she thought he had well and truly gone insane, but once the words began to settle, she felt her breath lodge in her throat, like a sharp stone. The memory of holding her daughter in her arms after hours of agony, the softness of her tiny body in her arms, the horror of Madame Kovarian tearing her from her grasp. Suddenly it felt as if it was all a dream.
"But... Doctor," she broke off into a sleepy tangent, feeling her heart sink. "That other Sophie, she was just alive as ours. She had memories, she had a life."
He sighed, pressing his lips together and sliding his hands into his pockets. "I know. For all intents and purposes, she was our daughter. But not anymore, she's gone now. But our original Sophie is out there somewhere, waiting. She needs us."
Rose nodded, blinking away tears, then she smiled. "We're really gonna find her, aren't we?"
"Oh yes," he said, and cupped her face and kissed her gently.
She melted into it, savoring the feeling of his lips on hers, gasping when he pulled away.
"Rose Tyler," he said with a grin, flipping a switch on the console. "Allonsy."