Ariel3: You are absolutely right! That was the core of the story, as well as it being intertwined with the Doctor (original and meta-crisis) finally being held accountable for his/their behaviour and actions on many levels: legal, moral, emotional...
I think I too would have made the same choice as Rose! It would have been tempting, though... the adventures in the Tardis... But in the long run, Ten is the one I'd want to live my life with. Thank you so much for your lovely comments. My word! To write for the show-I'd love that!
Kolidescope: Thank you very much for your review. I'm glad to hear that the dynamic seemed right to you. I too feel a little sad that it's all over. :)
M J Azilem: Thank you! I'm rather fond of Eleven taking care of Ten too. :)
Author's Note: Thank you to everyone who has followed this story. It's been a full year in the writing, editing and posting, and it's been a wonderful experience for me. I've loved reading your reviews and having that connection between storyteller and audience and learning about your thoughts and points-of-view.
And... currently, I am working on a follow-up story that explores Ten and Rose's adjustment to their new life. I hope that you may want to follow them in their new adventure-a light-hearted, active and yet still introspective-at-times story (I can never quite let go of all angst). It will be somewhat shorter, and I plan to have it ready for posting in the new year.
One week later, Rose, Ten, Eleven and Martha stood on a rocky shore. The sea raged around them, and a castle was behind them.
Martha handed a packet to Ten and one to Rose. 'UNIT has taken your name off the deceased list,' she said to Rose. 'You were travelling the world during the Battle of Canary Wharf and have only just returned.'
'Travelling the world,' said Ten grinning. 'Where did you go?'
Rose peeked into the packet. A passport, birth certificate, bank card and several documents were inside. She brought out a key. 'We're all set,' she said. 'Key to the castle, yeah?'
'That's right,' said Martha.
'And I still have your sonic screwdriver,' Rose added, looking at Ten. He nodded.
'And you, Doctor,' continued Martha, 'I'm afraid we're back to "John Smith" for you. Gotta have something legal. But UNIT knows who you are and the difference between you and Eleven. Officially, you'll be "Doctor" with "Ten" in parentheses, but they'll still call you "Doctor", and that's how you're being introduced to the people on the island.'
'Good,' said Rose.
'There have been some unexplained events here at Lindisfarne, and UNIT wants some answers. You two are in their books as freelancers. UNIT can't think of anyone better to investigate, and I know that you, Ten, aren't quite back to your old self. This will give you some privacy for now.'
'Just give him time,' said Rose. 'Knowing him, he'll be bouncing off the walls soon and getting into all sorts of scrapes.'
Ten winked. 'Just give me time.'
Martha grinned. 'So, you two will be live-in custodians of the castle. There are plenty of stairs for you to run up and down with that energy of yours. In the future, when this place has been sorted, there's even the old Torchwood cellars at Cardiff. Everything there is up in the air at the moment. Officially it has been discontinued by the government, but UNIT may be allowed to run it in the future. The Rift is still there, and they will still need people who have had experience with aliens to manage it. But as I said, that's all still undecided for now. I don't know what role Gwen will want. I hear she's moved away.'
'Hm!' said Ten. 'I'd be making some changes around there if UNIT wants me to manage it.'
'So would I,' said Rose. 'Been there, done that.'
'I can't think of any two people better for the job,' said Eleven. 'Just one favour.'
The others looked enquiringly at him.
'Take me off the list as Enemy Number One, would you?'
Martha grinned. 'Don't worry. If UNIT takes it over, the whole thing will be restructured.'
'Glad to hear it,' said Eleven.
Martha glanced behind her at the military jeep idling in the small car park. 'I'd better go. I have to check up on UNIT's operative at Bamburgh. They'll be a contact for you too, by the way.'
Rose looked out across the water to see the large castle on the opposite shore. She nodded.
'One question, though,' Martha said. She looked at Ten and Eleven. 'I asked you before, during the trial, why there were so many people watching us when we visited Ten in the cell. You wouldn't answer, but I think you know.'
'Yes,' said Rose. 'I want to know too.'
Eleven hesitated and looked at Ten.
'Tell them,' said Ten. 'They need to know.'
Eleven took a deep breath. 'It wasn't just the visits. It was all the time once the death penalty became a real possibility.' Ten nodded at this. 'Many races have wanted samples of Time Lord genes. The information they would get from it could be used for all sorts of advantages-some devastating. No one trusted one another to not steal samples from him. Martha, I think they only allowed you to treat him since you were already with him. They probably assumed that you had all the information already or were not interested in exploiting it.'
'Same with the Judoon,' said Ten. 'They're so single-minded, they'd never use it for anything other than law enforcement.'
'But where did they get genetic samples?' asked Martha. 'Through the Master's Minions?'
'No,' said Eleven. 'I suspect they never had the information. The Master must have handed it over to the Judoon himself somehow, at some point. He would want to protect Time Lord information as much as we do. But anyone else? No. Representatives were there to watch Ten and to watch each other. But if he had been executed, there would have been a nasty fight over his body.'
Rose shuddered. Ten put his arm around her shoulders and drew her close.
'I'd have fought hard to retrieve his body,' said Eleven. 'I'd have needed to cremate him as fast as I could. But failing that...'
'What?' asked Martha. 'What would you have done?'
Eleven glanced over at the Tardis and didn't answer.
Ten spoke instead. 'He'd have materialized the Tardis into wherever they were holding me. Forcing the Tardis through those shields would have destroyed the area where I was held-well, most of the base-and quite possibly the Tardis and himself.'
Rose and Martha looked at him, stunned.
'It's what I would have done for him,' he added softly. 'And it's something you two need to know if, when, either of us dies. Our bodies must be destroyed as soon as possible. Cremated preferably.'
'That's what you did to the Master,' murmured Martha.
Ten and Eleven nodded. 'And look at what happened with just a small sample of his genetic material,' said Eleven. 'You would have to ensure that everything, absolutely everything, was burned.'
Martha laughed shakily. 'I suppose the first aid kit for any house of yours needs a can of petrol.'
Ten nodded. 'Yeah.'
'I'll let UNIT know too,' she said, 'though I'll explain it as an important cultural tradition. They don't need to know about your genes.'
'Right,' said Eleven. 'Cheery thoughts, these. Sorry about that.'
Martha hugged him. 'I still have your number, just so you know.'
Eleven grinned. 'Wouldn't forget it.'
'And you two.' She stepped back. 'I'll see you around. I believe, the way things are set up, that I'm actually your supervisor.'
Ten touched two fingers to his temple. 'Yes, boss.' He and Rose looked at each other and laughed.
Martha smiled broadly. 'I know better than to try and control you two. Doomed to failure. But try to stay out of trouble.'
Rose, Ten and Eleven watched as Martha returned to the jeep and greeted the driver. As the jeep disappeared in the distance, Ten looked up at the castle.
'I love castles,' he said. 'All sorts of nooks and crannies and unexpected things.'
'Speaking of unexpected things,' said Eleven and he pointed his thumb over his shoulder at the Tardis.
'Yeah,' said Ten.
Rose hugged Eleven hard. Once more she could feel the reassuring thumps of his two hearts. 'When will we see you again?' she asked.
Eleven closed his arms around her. He rested his cheek against the top of her head. 'Er, I... well... you don't need me now. We'll see.'
Rose tensed. 'Don't you dare. Don't you dare go swanning off and never coming back, you hear?'
Eleven grasped her arms gently and held her away from him. 'You have your lives to live now. You don't need me. I'd just get in the way.'
'Back to the safe island, are we?' Rose challenged. 'See, that doesn't work. After all this, it just doesn't work. You said he's a teacher for both humans and Time Lords. But you're going to run away again? You're the only Time Lord who can learn from him. And here you are, running away. Don't you dare!'
'You chose him,' he said. 'I don't want to get in the way.'
'All or nothing, is it?' she said softly. 'Haven't you learned? He's your family. And just because I chose him doesn't stop me from loving you. It never will. You made your choice to put us together and then you lost us. We're still together and you have us back. Don't lose everything again. Don't choose that again. We're your family and you know you want that.'
Eleven looked down at the ground. 'Yeah.'
Ten cleared his throat. 'I know you. Take your time. Just remember we're both human. Keep track of our timeline.'
Eleven raised his head and nodded.
'And,' Ten continued, 'come back at least once after each of your regenerations. I... I want to know how my story would have continued.'
Eleven gently let go of Rose and approached Ten. 'Yeah. I could do that,' he said softly. He gazed at Ten and reached up a hand. Very slowly, deliberately, he ran his fingers through Ten's wild hair, brushing errant locks from his forehead. Then he turned and walked back to the Tardis.
As Rose and Ten stood together, their arms around each other, the familiar voorp, voorp came to them through the wind. As Rose's hair streamed out behind her, and Ten's long coat flapped, the Tardis slowly disappeared.
After a while, they stirred, looked at each other and smiled. Ten took Rose's hand and they started up the hill towards the castle.