"And even if it takes the rest of our lives to prove it, Rose. I just want you to know..." he brushed his lips against hers in a light, chaste kiss, just a barely-there brush.

"I love you," he whispered.

Rose watched him as he pulled back from his light kiss, to settle on his haunches still holding her hands. "You don't have to say anything right now, Rose. I'll say it enough for both of us. I wasted so much time, idiot Time Lord that I am, spent so many years just wishing I had said it, that I had told you, that I can't stop now, won't stop now. I'll shout it from mountaintops and whisper it in your ear at breakfast. I'll tell you before you go to sleep at night and when you wake up in the morning." His beautiful lips quirked up on the sides and he raised an eyebrow at her. "I'll tell you when I rescue you from being thrown in jail and I'll tell you again when you rescue me from being thrown in jail. I love you, Rose Tyler and I'll say it in front of anyone. In front of Jack, in front of Charles Dickens, in front of Shakespeare...I met Shakespeare, Rose! He was brilliant. I wish you had been there. For lots of reasons, actually. I think he fancied me and -"

"You think everyone fancies you," Rose said, offering him a small smile. She wondered how long it would take for him to resort to babbling mode. She also wondered how long it would be before she could tell him back. Or how long it would be before he found out the last of her secrets and decided he didn't love her anymore.

"Not you," he said, smiling back, scrambling to keep her talking as he watched the brief happy light from her eyes start to dim as she transcended into darker thoughts. He had to prove to her that he wasn't leaving this time. That he wasn't sending her away. They had forever and he wasn't letting it go. "Didn't think I could be that lucky. Especially when I was all ears and leather. Why would you ever fancy me?"

"I did," she said softly. "I do," she said, softer still.

"Good," he said, giving her his best, biggest, brightest smile and settling down beside her on the couch once again, keeping hold on one of her hands. They fell into another silence, this one more comfortable than the last.

"So what did you do after Salmandis?" the Doctor asked eventually. He hoped she would tell him what had happened there eventually but he could tell now was not the time to ask.

"Went back home and Pete set me up to go off world. Had my own ship...could go wherever I wanted, do whatever I wanted. I did a lot of diplomatic missions for Torchwood and spent a lot of time just roaming around the universe. Always seemed to know where to find some extra trouble," Rose said, a faraway glance in her eyes.

"That's your Time sense," the Doctor responded and Rose looked at him, surprised. "Even heavily shielded it would have drawn you to vulnerable points in Timelines."

Rose smiled at him sideways and, to his delight, stuck her tongue in her teeth. "Thought it was just 'cause I was jeopardy friendly."

"Well, yes, that too," he responded, nudging her with his shoulder.

"Even travelled with companions," she said, looking at him and grinning slightly.

"Oh yeah?" he said, feeling torn between being sad for her and her separation from her family, being jealous that others had gotten to travel the universe with her and being proud of her.

"Yep. Just picked 'em up along the way, usually. Some by accident, some on purpose. Even travelled with a few that tried to kill me." The Doctor paled slightly but Rose didn't notice, caught up in her memories. "Some humans scattered around the universe, some aliens, a robot or two...and an Australian," she chuckled. "None of them stayed too long...actually I think the alternate version of Sarah Jane was with me the longest. What?" she asked, finally noticing the Doctor's paled features and his steady grip on her hand.

"The Australian...what was her name?" he asked. An Australian, an assassin, a few robots...Sarah Jane. He didn't like where this was headed.

Rose frowned. "His name," she said.

"What?" he asked.

"His name was Teagan," she said, her frown deepening.

"Tegan's a girl's name," the Doctor replied, unsure whether he should feel relieved or not.

"Well, I think he'dve argued with you on that one. Never one to keep his opinions to himself," she replied. "Pilots," she snorted.

"What about the one who tried to kill you?" he asked, pressing her again.

"Visla," she said. "Why do you ask?"

"Oh, Rose," he said, hanging his head and releasing her hand.

"What?" she asked, distressed that he'd let her hand go and by the wave of sadness that washed through him into her.

"Your universe made you into me," he said, sadly.

Her brow furrowed further. "I don't understand," she said.

"Tegan, Australian, flight attendant, travelled with me in my fifth life. Vislor Turlough, Trion, tried to kill me, also fifth body. Nyssa, Trakenite, Kamelion, Robot, Peri, human, Mel, human, Ace, human...shall I continue?" he said, rubbing his hand over his face and chancing a glance at Rose's now paled face.

"How -"

"Time Lords are heavy points in Time. We attract and are attracted to anomalies in Time. That's why I'm always stumbling into trouble even when I don't mean to. I've always attracted situations like that because I'm far more meddlesome than most Time Lords but I've had not only all of Time and Space to spread those encounters out but also, for the my first eight lives at least, millions of other Time Lords to attract at least a small portion of those events. But you...stuck in a universe with no access to even the past Time Lords and stuck in one timeline to boot..." he trailed off and looked her mournfully. "Your universe found you a suitable substitute for a Time Lady or maybe you are and...I'm so sorry, Rose." No wonder her life had been such a busy hell. If she'd experienced even half of his adventures crammed into seventy-five human years...

"You mean all of those things that happened were my fault?" she asked, reeling.

"No! No, of course not, Rose! It's just the way Time works. It all would have happened anyway, except more spread out, perhaps...only you wouldn't have been there to stop it. It is not your fault, Rose. It is absolutely not your fault."

"But Adric-" she trailed off and his hearts broke. He gathered her close to his chest. "I know, Rose, I know," he said, letting some his own tears fall. How much of his grief had she shared? How much of her life had been spent trying to find the good in a universe that had so often only shown its ugliness. How much of his life had she paralleled?

Pulling back slightly so their foreheads rested together, Rose said softly, "It's not your fault, either."

He sighed heavily and stood up, offering her a hand. "Are you tired?"

"Yeah," she said, accepting it and standing up. They walked quietly down the corridors until he stopped in front of a familiar door. "It's still here?" she asked.

"Just like you left it," he said. "I...I couldn't bring myself to change anything." Not that he ever would have...or that the TARDIS would have let him. Squeezing his hand, Rose pushed open the door and felt as though she had walked back in time. Everything, from the pictures on the dresser to the jeans on the floor was exactly as she remembered it. She pulled a pair of flannel pajamas out of the bottom drawer of her dresser. "I can't believe I ever wore these," she said, laughing slightly at the pattern of monkeys and bananas on the brown fabric.

"Ah, c'mon now," he said, smiling gently. "Those are one of my favorite pairs!"

Rose smiled at him and walked into the bathroom to change, shutting the door softly behind her. The Doctor shoved his hands in his pockets and then slumped down in the chair beside her bed. He wasn't sure exactly what he was supposed to do...he didn't want to leave her side but he also wasn't sure she would welcome him in here. During her time with him, he'd often occupied this chair, watching over her as she slept either because he was bored or couldn't bear to leave her presence for long or because he had to assure himself that she was ok after a particularly close call or all three. And when he had lost her, he'd often come in here to brood and remember...even slept in the bed with his nose pressed close to her pillow, cocooning himself in her long lost scent. Feeling her walk across the room smelling of soap and toothpaste, he opened his eyes to find her standing in front of him. It was still so hard to believe that she was actually here, with him. The only thing that kept him from thinking this was just another dream was the way she looked. She looked so frail, standing there in the jimjams of her youth, looking so thin and haunted. He stood up quickly and gathered her into a desperate hug.

"Stay with me?" she asked softly. Well, that answered that question.

He nodded and watched as Rose moved away from him and burrowed under the duvet, settling onto her pillow. He watched as her nose crinkled up and she glanced at him. He blushed slightly, knowing that she could smell him there but she said nothing, merely patted the bed beside her. Removing his suit jacket and climbing onto the bed next to her on top of the covers, he drew her close to him and she settled her arms around his waist. The Doctor's arms went around her, one settled across her waist, drawing her to him and the other gently sifting through her hair.

"Did you fancy him?" the Doctor asked suddenly.

"Who?" she mumbled into his shirt, adjusting her grip on his waist.

"Teagan," he said.

"Oh," she answered. After a pause she said, "I could have. A different time, a different place, a different me, I could have. But as it was...no. I just couldn't. You?"

"Same," he said quietly and her grip tightened and then released, a brief little hug.

"I love you," the Doctor said softly, placing a delicate kiss in her hair. He felt her begin to drift off and softly he began to sing to her. This body was good with words and, it seemed, good with music as well.

He sang to her in the languages of her planet, love songs in French, in Spanish, in Portuguese. He sang to her in lilting languages of exalted planets from across the universe, some none but he would ever sing again. He sang to her in his own language, almost extinct love songs that flourished even in the staid, formal Gallifreyan culture for love, in all its varied forms, exists even where it is least desired. Love flourishes even when it is least deserved. Love does not know the confines of language or universes or even Time. She had shown him that again and again. Now he would show her.

In her dreams, Rose heard his soft voice echoing through her mind, fending off her nightmares, keeping her safe and grounded. He loved her and that was all she needed.

In the console room, Jack Harkness had walked back in to check on his two best friends. "Where are they, old girl?" he asked, laying his hand on the Time Rotor. The screen beside him lit up and on it, he could just make out a sleeping Rose entwined around a (sadly, almost fully clothed) Doctor's waist. She looked more relaxed than he had seen since her sudden return. The Doctor was running his fingers through her hand and crooning to her softly. Jack didn't understand the words to the song he was singing but it wasn't necessary. The way his fingers gently moved across her head, the way his voice cracked with emotion, the way he looked down at the precious girl in his arms despite the semi-darkness...Jack didn't need a translation. He pulled out a sheet of paper from his pocket, ripped it in two and the TARDIS supplied him with a pen.


Take her someplace lovely tomorrow. No running and I mean it. Just stop back in and say hello to me once you're back. Take care of her.

Love her.


He folded the first note and placed it next to the mallet on the console and took out his second half.


Let him take you someplace nice. Don't worry about me...just stop back in and say hi when you're back. Don't let him make you run anywhere and wear something really sexy.

And don't keep too many secrets from him. Tell him.

Just let him love you.


This one he folded and placed on the jumpseat. "Make sure they do it right, won't you, girl?" he asked, stroking the console. "When they come back, they better be happy and together. And making sweet, sweet cross-species love," he added and the TARDIS pulsed with amusement. With one last pat to the TARDIS door and a heavy sigh, he stepped back out into the cold night air of Cardiff. They'd be gone in the morning, with his blessing. He turned up the collar of his coat and walked back to the Hub, hoping they wouldn't wait too long to come back and see him again.