I give you the finale. A very special thanks to all my reviewers! I hope all other readers enjoyed the tale, and if anyone wishes to comment on the story as a whole, I welcome your thoughts.
Their story continues on in the form of a sequel with a completely different adventure, but I will not have time to devote to writing it for a while, so don't hold your breath unless you're part Gallifreyan. One-shots here and there are planned in the meantime. ^_~
Several watchful members of the Ambassador's Guard accompanied the Doctor and Rose back to Sariel's ship, one of them carrying Gelry's body. Upon arriving, they told the Doctor to wait for their vessel so the Guard could at least escort them back to the capital. The Doctor argued, eager for them to be on their way and claiming he could take care of those with him fine on his own. One of the Bosthinats insisted that if the Doctor arrive at the Ambassador's building first, he would have no one who had witnessed the unbelievable event with him to explain and get him through. He considered this logic and reluctantly agreed, but had given them one condition. The Doctor had disappeared into the ship, retrieved a bleary-eyed and bound Sariel and shoved her down the ramp into the waiting arms of the Guard, telling them to give her a fair trial. Sariel had given the Doctor one last murderous look. Nash watched her go dispassionately, turned and walked silently back into the ship.
There had been no sign of Ambassador Lura. It didn't surprise the Doctor that when the Ambassador's Guard had returned to her ship, they found it had gone missing. He strongly suspected she had already fled the planet. The Guard secured a government vessel from Gur'kurk and met up with the little red space hopper.
Arrangements had been made during the trip back to have Bosthinatia's royalty meet them at the Ambassador's building, to put aside anything Merchant Berr'ka may have told them and remain neutral until they could see proof for themselves. They were skeptical at first, but when they were told that Ambassador Lura had scarpered, their curiosity was piqued and they immediately agreed.
The TARDIS had been easy to find—Lura no doubt hadn't expected the Doctor to be able to wander freely within her home and hadn't hidden it. The Ambassador's Guard had simply contacted the individuals that had found and delivered it in the first place and asked where they had put it. The TARDIS was waiting in the Ambassador's chamber when the Doctor arrived.
"Ah, there she is! Safe and sound," the Doctor announced with smiling words. He went up to his ship and ran his hand affectionately over a blue painted wood edge.
Rose thought about how the familiar sight she had come to associate with home made her feel ridiculously happy, even though a Londoner from her time would see it as a simple curiosity from the past and nothing more. It no longer appeared out of place to her anywhere that it was. The chamber dwarfed the outside of the TARDIS, but she knew the inside would put this place to shame, and it was all hers.
She just wished she could get rid of her pounding headache. Maybe the TARDIS could help with that. As soon as this was over, she would tell the Doctor and they would sort her right again.
Now that they were reunited with the living ship, neither one of them wanted to let it out of their sight until they were safely off Bosthinatia. Rose wanted desperately to go inside and put the wild planet behind her, but she stood with the Doctor in front of it as the Kerrs and Kikitch arrived. Really, the planet couldn't be all that bad. She would miss their five friends.
Several others claiming to have great influence found them and began to ask the Doctor questions. The Bosthinatian royalty came, and the Doctor showed them Kerr'kipik and its korwi. They were reluctant to believe it could be done again, that the Doctor must stay and do it for more Bosthinats. Rose squirmed at what that would mean for her and was about to adamantly refuse, but the Doctor grinned in amusement at her discomfort and told them Kipik's korwi could help just fine.
He finally relented to show them and had one of the korwi tanks brought over. Fla'ri'kikitch scrambled over, practically begging to be second to Kerr'kipik. The Doctor smiled and agreed. He did promise Kikitch. He had both Kipik and Kikitch crouch next to the tank. The tanked korwi was linked to Kipik's korwi on one side and Kikitch on the other. The Doctor made sure not to touch any of them, and Rose could see it was difficult to suppress his curiosity as he hovered about, talking them through the experience. It wasn't long before the wild korwi was able to coax the imprisoned korwi to open up to the promise of a new life, one of love and joy and freedom and peaceful coexistence.
There was much celebration from the ruling family, and they immediately began to click and whistle animatedly with the other important persons about the future of Bosthinatia. The Kerrs and Kikitch were not only given immediate pardons for any perceived transgressions against the government, but also temporary advisory positions in restructuring society until their official statuses as heads of Korwi Integration, the department replacing Korwi Harvesting, could be established. The Ambassador's building would be reallocated to a korwi nursery and recovery center.
As a side note, a statement probably made in good fun but taken as serious, the word "korwi" was to be capitalised in the books from now on.
The Doctor insisted all imprisoned Korwi be freed, and it was agreed upon to be a priority. He asked if they knew how to safely wean them off their dependency to the silicon-hydrate solution, and he was assured it was a simple matter.
As the officials talked business, Fla'ri'kikitch bounced up to the Doctor and Rose. It had reluctantly left its Korwi's side, the creature still restricted to its tank, but Kikitch couldn't watch its friends go without saying goodbye.
"My Korwi is surprised I am nice to him. It feels supernatural and so right!"
The Doctor grinned and clapped Kikitch on the shoulder. "You get back to him, then. I'm sure you'll look after him and get him out of that tank as soon as you can." The Bosthinat bobbed quickly in enthusiastic agreement.
Rose smiled and tried to squeeze its arm, but she couldn't so she settled for patting it instead. "We'll miss you."
"Doctor and Rose Tyler stay?"
The Doctor frowned sympathetically and shook his head. "It's not our way. Besides, you'll get on fine by yourselves. We'd only get in the way." He pointed to the tanked korwi. "Now, off you go. See to your future." Fla'ri'kikitch did so, and the Kerrs approached them next. They were similarly invited to stay, and the Doctor brushed it off graciously as he had done with Kikitch.
"My Korwi wanted to know," Kerr'kipik began coyly. "Korwi don't use names, but Bosthinats will need names for them. She wanted to know... could she have yours, Rose?"
Rose's mouth opened in surprise. After a stunned moment, she looked to the Doctor, who was struggling to keep his enthusiasm in check.
The Doctor took her look to be a request for approval. "Naming the first civilised member of an oppressed species after you, that's quite the honour."
She managed a smile and stepped forward, reaching up to pet the Korwi. Giving her name to a prawn, she thought. Could be worse. Rose the Korwi detached one of her tentacles from Kipik and snaked it along Rose's wrist. "I'd be honoured for you to have my name." Rose spotted the effigermus still tucked securely between her front legs and plucked it up. "Won't be needing this anymore though, will you?"
Rose the Korwi assured Rose she had looked after it for her and was pleased to return it. Rose projected her thanks and wishes for a happy future before saying goodbye and stepping back, letting the Doctor say a quick farewell himself. When he had finished, he glanced down at the pink flower-shaped object Rose was holding and blithely snatched it from her hand. As if he owned it.
"The Doctor waved to their Bosthinat friends with his other hand, but before he could take a step, Rose had snatched the object back. The Doctor turned to stare at her in surprise.
"I believe this is mine, thanks," Rose informed him and walked on ahead, catching the amused raising of eyebrows before reaching the TARDIS door. Kipik chuckled in a softly-grinding laugh, and Kikitch peered between Kipik and Rose, failing to see the same level of humour as the others.
A Bosthinat official called for the Doctor, and he hurried his step towards the cracked TARDIS door. "Erp, that's my cue, best be off." With one last grin and wave towards four Bosthinats and a Korwi named Rose, the Doctor ducked inside his unimposing ship and closed the door on Bosthinatia.
It was such a relief to be in the safety of the TARDIS again. They still had one trip to make, however, and even though they had the advantage of procrastinating with a time machine if they really wanted to, neither felt inclined to do so.
The TARDIS materialised in the front garden of a modest residence on the planet Chosthu. The Doctor walked the short distance to the front door, Rose following him, and knocked. The door opened to a surprised but eager Nash.
"Come in, come in, please, Doctor! Where have you been?"
They entered, and at Nash's question, the Doctor whirled into a backwards walk, hands in pockets. Rose welcomed the resultant trailing of his coat along her pant leg. "What do you mean?"
"I told you how long my trip would be. You said you would arrive just after I did. That was this morning."
The Doctor pinched thoughtfully at his ear as he came to a stop. "And what time is it now?"
"Half past seven."
The Doctor nodded. "Right. Sorry." He offered no further explanation. Rose suppressed a long-suffering sigh at his landing accuracy.
Nash's face softened. "That's all right. It gave me time to make arrangements for... for Gelry."
"Speaking of arrangements," the Doctor continued on, his tone respectful but cheerful, "Bosthinatia wishes to hire you in the collection of all off-world Korwi. They're willing to pay well for their careful return. The space hopper has clearance already, and since you're still employed, if indirectly, under Bosthinatia, they said you could use that for transport purposes until Sariel's trial goes through. If you want."
Despite Nash's excitement at the Doctor's presence, he took a moment to carefully consider the Doctor's words, considering who they were coming from. He nodded quickly but was eager to move on, stepping towards a back room of the house and hesitating uncertainly at the doorway. He pointed vaguely. "Gina's in here... if you're ready to take a look. If you don't mind?"
The Doctor quickly pulled his hands out of his pockets. "Yes, of course." He peered quickly at Rose before preceding her and Nash into the room.
A pale girl with dark brown hair lay asleep and peaceful in the middle of the room, the bed appearing clean and comfortable. Rose guessed her to be about five years older than herself. A little monitor beeped softly on a life support unit off to the side, keeping watch on her vital signs and supplying her with nutrients.
"After allowing a moment for the Doctor and Rose to take in the scene, Nash spoke. "The doctors couldn't do anything more for her in hospital. She's stable enough to be watched from here. When her condition drops, they're pretty quick to make it out." He watched as the Doctor pulled out his sonic screwdriver and scanned over the man's sister. "They've been studying her blood work for ages. I'm told they're still working on it, but I think they gave up long ago and are just waiting for her to get better on her own or..." Nash trailed off and swallowed thickly. "She's been sick so long. She's never going to get better on her own."
"There's always hope, Nash," the Doctor assured the man softly after switching off the sonic. He rested the tips of his fingers lightly over Gina's sternum. "Never say never, ever." His hand remained motionless for several moments before ghosting up to the young woman's temple. He then gently pulled her jaw open and looked into her mouth, then pulled away and faced Nash. "And we may be very, very lucky. I won't know for sure until I get back to the TARDIS, but I think I have what she needs." He looked to Rose. "I'll be right back. You okay to wait here?"
Rose was about to rise to her feet and insist she come with him, but she just kept herself from moving. She didn't want to let him out of her sight, but it was safe here, and she needed to be strong and not cling to him. Besides, Nash could use the company. "Yeah. Don't be long?"
"I won't." The Doctor disappeared out the door.
Rose sighed, steadying herself, and shared a small polite smile with Nash. Her eyes returned to Gina and lingered there. "She's beautiful."
Nash nodded in agreement. "She was even more so. Her illness has really taken the life out of her."
"The Doctor's amazing. If anyone can help her, it's him."
Nash nodded again. "I believe it."
They both watched Gina sleeping peacefully. Rose thought about something to distract Nash with. "So you must have a lot of happy memories from when you were children."
Nash beamed. It was clear he thought about such things often. Rose considered her choice of topic a great success, because he began to regale her with tale after tale. Rose was surprised when the Doctor reappeared just ten minutes later, holding up a futuristic-looking injection device and wearing a smug grin.
"Here we are. Just one more check." The Doctor retrieved his sonic screwdriver from his pocket and scanned Gina, checked it, then buzzed it at the other object in his hand. He nodded in satisfaction and bent to administer it to Gina while Nash and Rose watched in anticipation.
"That's it?" Nash said incredulously.
"Well, she'll be a while yet. Won't wake up for some time, probably. Like you said, she's been ill for a long time. I would call your doctors as soon as she does, though, to speed her recovery time."
Nash huffed in amazement. "What is she sick with?"
The Doctor took a deep breath and launched into his explanation. "A form of Flametongue flu. Hers isn't airborne. A massive outbreak almost wipes out a civilisation in the eighty-ninth century, I think it was. Near there, anyway. Although, how she came into contact with the contagion is beyond me. The cure was discovered and eventually saturated the market after everyone left alive was inoculated, including several neighboring planets. I picked up a sample last time I was in the area just in case I brought someone there again." He grinned. "Like I said, very, very lucky. She could have had the mumps, and then I would've had to take her to a treatment facility across the system and several centuries out to get the cure for that."
Rose frowned at him. "The mumps? But that was cured ages ago. My time, anyway."
The Doctor gazed down at where she stood crouched by the bedside, his expression sympathetic. "Diseases evolve, too, remember. Future virus. Nasty."
Nash understandably wasn't following, or didn't care about the fact that they were talking about traveling to the future. He suddenly reached out a hand for the Doctor's arm, his excited attention on his sister. "Look, Doctor! Her colour's already returning. I haven't seen her look this healthy in forever." He laughed in delighted relief.
The Doctor smiled at him. "I think she's gonna be just fine, Nash."
Nash clasped Gina's hand with one of his and reached to the bedside table, lifting the lid on a small box and pulling out a handful of pictures. "This was Gelry's. He kept it with him wherever we went, even Bosthinatia." He spread a few out on the blanket. They were all a combination of Nash, Gelry, and Gina before her illness, happy and smiling. Nash gazed at them, as if reminding himself what was to come, or perhaps what never would be again.
"I'm sorry, Nash," the Doctor said, guilt lacing his voice. "You gained your sister, only to lose your brother."
"No, Doctor." Nash shook his head adamantly. "You saved him. I've never seen him so brave, so selfless. You taught him that." Rose looked up to see the Doctor's smiling eyes, could see he was happy for the man, but Rose knew the Doctor. He still felt responsible for Gelry's death. Nash turned back to Gina and gently took her hand in both of his. "You would have been proud of him, Sis'. Our own Gelry! He gave his life for the Doctor, so the Doctor could cure you."
Rose quietly got to her feet next to the Doctor, entwined her fingers in his and squeezed his hand. He squeezed back and began to tug her towards the door.
Nash got to his feet. "Wait, Doctor! What if she needs you?"
"I'm confident she won't. The doctors of this time are capable enough." At Nash's uncertain expression, the Doctor offered him a small smile. "But just to make sure... You won't see me, but I'll keep watch on her progress. I promise."
This seemed to calm Nash, and he nodded apologetically. "Of course. I don't mean to impose. You've done so much. Thank you, Doctor." Nash turned his eyes to her. "And Rose." They both smiled at Nash and turned, but Nash called the Doctor's attention back. "I think... well, I'm going to take that job. With the Korwi. I want to help."
The Doctor beamed and they said their final goodbyes, left the little house and made their short journey to the TARDIS.
The Doctor allowed Rose to precede him into the TARDIS. She wandered up the grille-floored ramp as he shut the door and followed her, his eyes trailing up and down her backside as she went. She was completely his now. A thrill rushed through him at the thought.
Rose stopped at the console and picked up the effigermus she had placed there earlier, rotating it in her hand and idly examining its open petals. He found himself licking his lips as he approached her.
"What do you think Lura will do?" Rose asked abruptly.
The Doctor stopped in front of her, more than bit hurt she had already moved on from her stage of admiring him as he saved the world yet again. "Dunno. Hunt for me, no doubt."
"Won't find us, though," she shot back, looking up from the pink flower to meet his eyes.
Raising his arms, the Doctor enfolded Rose in a gentle embrace. "Not if I can help it."
"So, we gonna check on Gina's progress, then? Forwards in time, what, a few days? Weeks?"
"Mm," the Doctor began, pulling his voice down into as flirty and seductive a tone as he could. He leaned forward, teasing Rose's lips with his own. "Or we could just let a few days pass right here and check back when we're done." He could feel Rose's breathing immediately quicken. The Doctor lowered his eyes to the effigermus in her hand. "Now..." "What do you say I go about making my Rose bloom again..."
Rose shook her head and immediately flushed, looking away. "I can't believe you just said that."
He grinned at her wickedly, watching the tip of her tongue run its teasing course across her lips with intense interest. She saw him watching and immediately bit down on her lip, stopping herself from driving him mad further with her unconscious habit. Instead, he now considered offering to bite down on her lip for her. Angling his head, the Doctor ran the tip of his nose across her face, barely touching her and whispering her skin with his breath. Rose's eyelids fluttered. Oh, how easily he could make her submit to him.
Oh how easily she made him do it to her.
Rose, having enough, finally pounced on his mouth. The Doctor hummed happily and gently fingered the effigermus from her hand, blindly setting it on the console behind her and wrapping his arms tightly across her back.
The kiss quickly heated, Rose taking him by the tongue and sucking quite forcefully. The Doctor groaned and pushed into her a little wildly, causing Rose to catch hold of his coat lapels, as if he would let her fall. He raised a hand and rubbed his fingertips across her temple, gasping at the intimate contact with his mind.
Rose suddenly pulled back. "God, I need a change of clothes," she panted.
The Doctor growled and reclaimed her mouth, deciding that was very much not a good reason to break the kiss. His thoughts then focused on a mental image of hers that had drifted into his mind, and he found a good reason after all, raising his head just out of her reach. "You referring to the picture in your head of me and you in the shower?"
"Mm," Rose grinned slowly. "Or a nice hot bath."
"Mm, even better." The Doctor suddenly pouted. "I forgot to get some soaps from Bosthinatia. They make your hair smell nice. Well, not that you don't smell nice anyway, but I do and probably will forever associate the scent with a particularly special night we shared..."
"We'll have to drop by for a visit," Rose assured him in a rush. "For now, those exotic flavours sitting in my bathroom cupboard being useless will have to do."
"Sounds good. We should go sooner than later, though." The Doctor rocked against her just enough to prove his point. "If I wait much longer, I won't be able to walk."
Rose bit her lip, failing to hide her amusement. "Trouble walking, you say?" She gently pulled out of the Doctor's arms. "Good, then that means you won't be able to catch me until—" the Doctor took a swipe at her, but Rose dodged and the rest of her words came out in a laugh as she began to run, "—we make it to the water!"