This is it! The final chapter! Before you all come at me with torches and pitchforks, I promise there are two sequels on the way, a one-shot that is already mostly complete and a multi-chapter that will (hopefully) tie up all of the loose ends.
You all have been so amazing, your reviews have made me laugh and cry and have kept me going! THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU SO MUCH! I'm sorry that lately I haven't been responding consistently, life has gotten very crazy but I really appreciate you all sticking with me! My betas have been incredible, and this would not have been written if it wasn't for them.
Thank you all again, and make sure you've got me on alert for the sequels!
Please note that this chapter briefly discusses the sensitive issues of child and spousal abuse.
Rose jolted awake the following morning, disoriented and wondering briefly why there was a guitar strumming near her head. As she grew more awake, she registered the guitar sound as her alarm, and she swatted blearily for her mobile before she heard a low chuckle. A cool hand grasped hers gently, stilling her motions and the noise stopped soon after.
"Nice thing about dating a Time Lord," a gentle voice murmured in her ear. "You'll never need one of those again."
Remembering suddenly where she was, Rose turned to face the Doctor, who was smiling softly at her. He smoothed the wild stray hairs away from her face and placed a light kiss on her lips. Rose was grateful that she was already lying down, because her knees likely would have given out at that very moment.
"Good morning," he told her, brown eyes crinkling with his smile.
"Morning," Rose whispered back, capturing his lips once more. Evidently, morning breath was not a deterrent to Time Lords, as the Doctor simple groaned and deepened the kiss, grasping the sides of her head and pulling her closer against him. Rose kissed back just as eagerly, teasing his tongue with hers and running her hands through his hair.
Before she knew it, he had rolled her onto her back so gently it was as though she was made of glass. He hovered over her, not breaking their kiss or pressing any weight onto her bruised ribs and began to trail kisses down her neck.
"God," she choked out, arching her back as much as she could and moaning as her hips came into contact with his. "Doctor, please..."
"We can't," he murmured against her neck, darting his cool tongue against her pulse point.
"You won't hurt me," she gasped, moving her hands from his hair to clutch his shoulders. "Just be very..." she trailed off, placing a gentle kiss to his ear. "...very," she repeated, adding just a bit of her tongue and teeth to the mix. "...gentle..."
The Doctor gasped and resumed the assault on her mouth, the intensity of the kiss making her head spin. Rose writhed against him, knowing she'd finally broken his careful control, and began to audibly pant as his hand worked its way slowly under her camisole.
"Oh, Mickey, you're so fine, you're so fine you blow my mind! Hey, Mickey! Hey, Mickey!"
Rose cried out in frustration against his mouth. The Doctor immediately broke their kiss and pressed his forehead against hers, fighting to catch his breath even as he smiled gently. "You partner seems to be calling us..."
"I am going to kill him," she growled. "This gorgeous bloke has got me in his bed and I think he was about to have his wicked way with me."
The Doctor chuckled, giving her a soft kiss on the lips and rolling onto his back. "There is an ongoing murder investigation happening right now. We have a lot to do."
"Yeah," Rose agreed, grabbing her mobile from the bedside table. "And unfortunately, that does not include each other."
The Doctor laughed, and Rose answered Mickey's call. "Can I help you?"
"Good morning, sunshine!" her partner chirped into the phone. "We've got a warrant signed, sealed, delivered."
Rose huffed. "When will criminals learn to have better timing?"
"I'll make sure Giannini knows how badly he's interfered with your love life. We're meeting there in an hour, I'll rally the troops. Do you still have the address?"
"Yeah, in my bag somewhere," Rose said, stretching her limbs and grinning at the dark look the Doctor gave her. "We'll see you there."
She clicked off her mobile and turned to the Doctor, grinning. "Whole universe is against us, I swear."
He chuckled a bit, running a hand through his hair in discomfort. "Rose, I'm sorry. I don't usually...lose control like this. You have me at quite the disadvantage." He turned and met her gaze. "You are...very beautiful. Time Lords don't generally feel this level of attraction. It was considered a weakness among the older, stuffier generation."
"Good thing you were such a rebel," she teased.
"Yes, well," he replied, a bit flustered. "Anyway, what I'm trying to say is that...holding you all night was sorely testing my supposedly superior self-control and you're wearing those tiny little jim jams and you kept...rubbing up against me and..."
"Doctor," Rose interrupted, sitting up and placing her fingers against his lips. "Was I objecting?"
He grinned. "No, no...I think I would remember that. In fact, you were quite emphatic in your appreciation..."
"Quite," Rose purred, tugging on his vest and pulling him close for a brief, gentle kiss. "Now, the sooner we take care of this, the sooner we can come back here...or to my place, I'm not picky."
"As soon as you're healed, I promise. I won't risk your health."
"Yeah, well...I can be very persuasive."
"I don't doubt it," he grinned. "Didn't we have somewhere to be?"
"Did we? I was under the impression we were off duty."
"Clever, but I don't think it will work on our fine colleagues." He leaned in to kiss her once more before cupping her face and fixing her with a winning smile. "Now, Detective Tyler, if you thought I had a nice tub...you oughta see my shower."
They arrived on the scene slightly over an hour later. It was a warm, sunny day, and the Doctor pulled up in his little Echo with Rose still vocally expressing her appreciation for his choice in eyewear. The shades made him look debonair and mysterious, and Rose couldn't help the long string of complimentary statements that flowed from her lips. The Doctor scoffed in false modesty, and his sexy smirk did absolutely nothing but enhance the overall appearance.
Rose was very grateful they pulled up to the scene when they did.
Mickey, Jake, and Jack were already waiting outside with a group of officers, the firearms team assembled and ready to clear the residence. It was a shabby home, but large for the outskirts of London. It looked as though it was once a lovely, comfortable place that had fallen into the hands of someone who couldn't be bothered to care for it. The grey paint was peeling horribly, the roof was missing several tiles, and the front porch had fallen into horrible disrepair. Oddly enough, it was exactly what Rose pictured when she considered the home of a crazed serial killer.
"You ready to do this, Inspector Smith?" She greeted.
"We all are," he told her. "Just waiting for your go-ahead, make sure there's nothing last-minute we need to know before going in."
"Just keep alert, watch your backs," she said. "You getting anything, Dr. Smith?"
He stared at her for a moment, and Rose grinned before he started slightly in realization. "Oh, right! Dr. Smith, that's me. Well, most of this is blocked since I'm involved. But keep each other safe and stick to the warrant, I'd say."
Mickey turned to address the team, reminding them that the warrant extended to blunt objects, computer equipment, anything related to jewelry making, and any files or paperwork related to the victims. He turned back to Rose, his expression serious. "Rose, will you please wait out here with the Doctor and Jack until we clear the premises?"
Rose rolled her eyes in response. "If I must..."
"You must," Jake told her, his eyes twinkling. "See you in a bit then."
"Let's move!" Mickey said, following the team into the dilapidated old building.
Jack turned to the pair of them as soon as the team had entered the home. He grinned and wagged his eyebrows. "So...what were you two doing last night?"
The Doctor wrapped an arm casually around Rose's shoulder. "Oh, little of this, little of that. Nothing exciting."
"I gave him a pedicure and we braided each other's hair. You should have seen him, it was adorable," Rose teased. "I got pictures."
"Did not," the Doctor replied, placing a gentle tickle to her side, safely above her bruised ribs. Rose giggled, squirming a bit out of reach as the Doctor smiled brilliantly at her.
"Aw," Jack cooed. "You two are so cute!"
"Oi," the Doctor protested. "Time Lords are not cute."
"On the contrary, I happen to think you're very cute," Rose replied.
"You sly dog!" Jack told him, walking over and bumping his fist against the Doctor's. "Didja hear? She thinks you're cute!"
Before the Doctor could respond, an odd rustling came from the bushes behind them, and their heads snapped instantly towards the sound. Rose, who was facing the pair, noticed a slight movement and instinctively reached for the tazer in her pocket.
Before Rose's hand even made it to her coat, in the split second that all three of their focuses were elsewhere, she suddenly found her upper body immobilized and the cold steel of a blade pressed against her throat.
"Doctor!" she screeched before the blade pressed more firmly against her. She winced and the Doctor and Jack spun around. Jack immediately pulled an odd looking gun from inside his pocket and trained it on her and her assailant. The Doctor, meanwhile, had gone abnormally still, his eyes were focused on her with a single minded intensity and had turned completely dark. His face was pure steel, an expression that Rose had never seen before. She was reminded once more that the man in front of her was completely alien, and she wasn't a bit frightened. Though she did have the feeling that her assailant should definitely feel that way.
"You are not allowed to talk, Princess," a vaguely familiar voice said directly in her ear. The hot breath nearly made her gag.
"You are going to let her go, Claude," the Doctor said, his voice eerily calm though his face had turned colder and more fierce than she'd ever seen before. Her heart was pounding in her chest as she ran through her self-defense training in her head. His blade was directly against her jugular and any movement could shift it. She couldn't take that risk, not when there was a possibility of talking him down.
"Claude, think about this," Rose said quietly. "I know you don't want to add murder of a law enforcement official to your already impressive rap sheet."
"Is one life sentence any different than the next, Inspector Tyler? I'm already facing several, what's one more?"
"Jack, what's keeping you?" the Doctor called, not taking his eyes off them.
"I can't get a clear shot, Doctor! She's too close to him."
"Claude, listen to me," the Doctor pleaded, holding up his hands even as his countenance remained stiff and alert. Rose gripped Claude's forearm, even though she knew it was useless. The instant she moved, he would slice her throat. He had proven to be a complete psychopath and she knew the Doctor wouldn't take any chances. "I understand what it's like to be clever. Clever and different, the two of us. I know what it's like, never to be good enough despite being better than everyone around us. Of course you had to prove it, of course you did. And what better way is there than outsmarting London's finest?"
"Shut up!" Claude spat. "Stop acting like you know me. This is pathetic, Dr. Smith. Child's play. My father was a cop, I know how this works. He made sure I knew all the tricks in the book."
"So you know how this goes," he continued, still moving steadily towards her as Claude led her backwards. "And it does not end well."
"It does if I take her," he said, gently stroking the blade down her cheek. He didn't press down enough to cut her skin, but it still made her heart leap in her chest. "The one that got away. You are a worthy adversary, Inspector Tyler. Combined with Dr. Smith here, you are nigh unstoppable. Which is why I have to stop you. You understand."
"I understand you're completely mental," Rose mumbled.
"I AM NOT MENTAL!" Claude cried, pressing the blade firmly back to her throat. That had certainly struck a nerve. "I am not. I am brilliant. A genius."
"Rose," the Doctor fixed his intense, pleading gaze on her. "Please..."
Her heart clenched as their eyes locked. Her Doctor. He'd been through so much, had lost nearly everyone that he'd ever loved. They'd finally found a bit of happiness with each other. She couldn't bear leaving him.
"All clear, guys! Get in here!" Mickey's voice called from the house.
In the split second that followed, Rose felt her feelings for the Doctor flood her, and time seemed to slow. She wasn't ready to put a word to them, not yet, but she could feel it in her bones that they were worth fighting for. That combined with the adrenaline coursing through her veins caused her next actions, and she knew they were either brilliant or incredibly stupid. She could consider the consequences later.
Claude wasn't expecting the noise from the house, she could tell by the way his head snappedd back, distracted, towards Mickey's voice. Immediately, Rose delivered an elbow to his gut. The knife scraped down her neck, she felt it press shallowly into her skin but the pain was a complete afterthought. She delivered a stomp to his foot, a punch to his groin, and the same elbow that hit his stomach made a satisfying crack against his nose as she spun out of his grasp, taking his right arm with her as she twisted it behind his back.
"Down on the ground!" she commanded. "Now!"
He continued to struggle against her hold, but Rose managed to wrench his left arm to join his right and forced him to the ground. With a knee against the small of his back, Rose deftly cuffed him.
"Claude Giannini, you are under arrest for the murder of Lara Johnston, Jocelyn Taylor, Diane Preston and the attempted murder and assault of a law enforcement official...you do not have to say anything but it may harm your defense if you do not mention when questioned something you later rely on in court, anything you do say may be given in evidence..."
Rose didn't even register the Doctor and Jack approaching them. She looked up and noticed Jack with his blaster pointed directly at Giannini's head while the Doctor crouched down, a hand placed comfortingly on Rose's back as he addressed the man on the ground.
"You are very, very lucky, Mr. Giannini," he began, his voice low and menacing. Rose shivered. "This is the second time you tried to take someone of extreme value to me. Claude, believe me when I tell you that I am one of the last people you want to test. Now I want you to consider yourself lucky, every single day, that I did not dump you in an event horizon of a collapsing galaxy or trap you forever in chains forged in the heart of a dwarf star. Because I could have...so easily." He ducked his head lower so that he could look directly into the man's eyes. "This woman made me better. If you had taken her away from me...well...let's just say I would not want to be in your position."
The Doctor and Rose glanced up. Somehow, in the time that the Doctor had been speaking to Giannini, the entire team, including Mickey and Jake, had assembled around them.
Rose stood up, looking a bit sheepish. "So, uh...we got the bad guy?"
Jake looked positively pitiful. "Why do we always miss the good parts?!"
Rose sat, fidgeting, in the back of an ambulance for the second time in less than a week. She allowed the medic to clean the shallow wound on her neck and secure it with a few butterfly bandages. The bleeding had stopped quickly, the medic babbling about her supposedly superior clotting factors, but Rose wasn't paying attention. She was watching the Doctor give his statement to one of the officers, smiling gently at him every time he glanced over and their eyes locked. Immediately after he finished, he crossed the yard and hopped gracefully over the wrought-iron fence, fixing Rose with a smile that caused her heart to nearly melt.
"Hello," he greeted, eyes suspiciously moist in the bright sunlight.
"Hello," she replied, grinning broadly at him and grabbing his hand. "We've got to stop meeting like this."
He chuckled, running his free hand through his hair. "Rose...what you did today...I mean, the way you..." He trailed off and huffed, seemingly frustrated.
"Yes?" she prompted, squeezing his hand.
He blew out a noise breath. "Well, what I was trying to say was...well...the way you executed your training and took the suspect down was..."
"Was...?" she once again prompted. "Awful? Gorgeous? Purple? Sexy?"
Instead of responding, he climbed into the ambulance, grasped the back of her head as gently as he could and pressed his lips firmly to hers. They both ignored the slightly embarrassed cough of the medic and the catcalls from the officers on the scene, instead deepening the kiss as Rose felt her entire body flush in response.
After what could have been several seconds or several hours, the Doctor pulled away, resting his forehead against hers and breathing deeply. "Sexy," he managed to croak out. "Very...very sexy..."
"Not so bad yourself," Rose replied teasingly, chasing after his lips for another kiss before pulling back reluctantly. "I'm so glad you're all right."
"Oh, Rose," he practically whispered, cupping her cheek in his hand. "You have no idea..."
Much later, after processing and interrogation, after typing their reports and filing them with the chief, after receiving word that the DNA sample taken from Giannini matched that sample from Jocelyn's fingernails and confirmation that the metal plating chemicals found in his cellar were a match to the components in each of the victims' rings, Rose and the Doctor were standing on the other opposite side of a two-way mirror. They were watching Janice evaluate Claude, and they'd rarely seen the jovial, friendly woman so deadly serious. Her ever-present grin was nowhere to be found as she talked with him about his childhood, upbringing, and experiences as an adjunct professor.
Once she exited the room, she immediately turned to them with a sigh, running her fingers through her dark tresses. "You want my professional or personal diagnosis?"
"Oh, I dunno," Rose replied. "Bit of both?"
Janice smiled. "Well, personally, this guy is a few crayons short of a box, if you know what I mean. Professionally, he's a high-functioning sociopath and has a huge dose of narcissistic personality disorder to boot. Pleading insanity won't help him. He knows what he did was wrong. It was all carefully planned and premeditated. He's calculating, manipulative, feels no remorse, and is bat-shite cray-cray. I don't think you're going to have any problems with a conviction."
"Thank you, Janice," Rose told her, glancing back at the mirror. Claude was leaning back in his chair, head tilted and eyes closed, looking completely at ease. "How...?"
"How does someone get to this point?" Janice finished for her. "Well, it all goes back to the parents, doesn't it? Dad apparently was a corrupt, violent police officer. His mum was a gorgeous blonde secretary that, despite the fact that he hand-made their wedding rings, his father brutalized on a daily basis. Violence is a learned behavior, and after his mother died from 'falling' down the stairs, he became his dad's punching bag. His mother had always praised him judiciously, so when that praise ended, he needed to find that validation elsewhere."
Rose sighed, rubbing her hands over her face. "Blimey, I need a coffee."
The Doctor grinned, wrapping an arm around her shoulder and tugging her into his side. "Best coffee in town, I hear. The French Vanilla creamer is to die for."
"Oh, yes," she teased back. "I hear the machines are on...automatic drip?"
"Best part of waking up..."
"Oi, could you at least wait until I've left to engage in foreplay? Thank you very much," Janice scolded playfully. "I've got to get back to Mr. Jury. I've been a bit nauseous, so he's made a lovely soup chock full of fresh ginger. What a guy, eh?"
"The best," Rose replied, grinning at her. "Sorry you're not feeling well. That why your hair hasn't changed in the last week?"
"Ah, no," she replied, cheeks flushing. "Turns out hair dye is bad for pregnant women...who'd of thunk it, eh? So this is me, au natural for the next eight months."
"Oh, Janice!" Rose exclaimed, stepping out of the Doctor's loose embrace to wrap her friend and co-worker in a hug. "That's so wonderful! Congratulations!"
"Absolutely brilliant, Janice," the Doctor said, a huge grin on his face as he shook her hand heartily. "Mazel tov, sweetheart. You know," he continued, patting his pockets. "In my culture, we have a tradition. Pregnant women were...well...rare and considered cause for celebration among some families. Custom dictates that we present them with...aha!" He pulled a thin gold chain from his jacket pocket, face triumphant. At the end of the chain was a small crystal, swirled with varying shades of turquoise and purple. "This is a stone forged in the natural springs of Gallifrey. They are extremely rare and take thousands of years to form. It is said," He moved behind Janice, fastening the chain around her neck. "That this crystal holds remarkable mental healing properties. And aids in nausea relief. Perfect recipe for an expectant mother."
Janice grinned and admired the small crystal, her eyes mysteriously damp. "Thank you, Dr. Smith. This is...absolutely lovely. Really. Thank you."
"Of course," the Doctor replied, moving back to wrap an arm around Rose's shoulders. She gazed at him, eyes shining, marveling at the remarkable man next to her. "Best of luck to you both."
She started to laugh as tears fell down her cheeks. "Bloody hormones. Pardon me, darlings, but I must go snuggle with my man. Thank you again, Dr. Smith. You are very lucky, Rose."
"Yeah," she agreed, winding her arm around the Doctor's waist and casting an adoring glance up at him. He met her gaze and made a happy noise in his throat, tugging her closer to him. "I am."
He grinned, dipping in for a soft kiss before turning back to the window. Rose gazed at Claude and sighed, completely torn. On one hand, her heart ached for the poor little boy who had to watch his mother beaten and brutalized, and then had to take the brunt of it on his own. On the other hand, she had to recall the book she'd read recently, about a young boy who's mother had starved him, burned him, and locked him in a bathroom with a bucket of ammonia. He had not turned into a horrible, crazed killer. Instead, he was a loving father who became a motivational speaker and spoke out against child abuse every single day.
"Free will," Rose murmured.
"Pardon?" the Doctor asked, tugging her closer, ostensibly to hear her better. "You'll have to speak up, Inspector."
She gave him a small smirk before turning serious once more. "People grow up with all sorts of difficulties and challenges...some worse than others. But you still can choose between right and wrong, good and evil..." She glanced at their murderer once again through the glass. "He made the wrong choice."
"But we got him," the Doctor told her. "We make a good team, DI Tyler."
She grinned at him brilliantly. "That we do, Dr. Smith. I look forward to working with you again."
He grinned back, wrapping her in his arms and holding her close. "And I with you, Inspector."
Epilogue...Six Weeks Later
She emerged miraculously from the TARDIS, a golden, glowing goddess. Her blonde tresses flowed freely around her head, though there was no wind. It was pure energy that swept her hair up like a halo.
He had no idea who she was. But she was gorgeous, and somehow, intrinsically and instinctively his. He knew it, deep in his bones, that this woman was essential to his very existence. Time flowed around her like a river, graceful and loving and seemed to caress her with great affection. Time loved her, completely adored her, and he had no idea how something like this could even happen.
"I am the Bad Wolf...I create myself..."
"I want you safe," she said. "My Doctor..."
The Doctor shot upright in bed, breathing heavily. Already, the dream was burned into his brain, his beautiful girl glowing with the golden energy of Time, and he had no idea what it meant.
He glanced down next to him, Rose still sleeping peacefully. He ran his hands over his face. Something about the dream was niggling at him, like it was something he should know better than he knew himself. Like it wasn't a dream, more like memories breaking through.
Somehow, he instinctively knew that the lost memories of his regeneration were finally breaking through to the surface.