Once upon a time, there was a girl who wrote her name across the fabric of the universe. Bad Wolf is a bay in Norway, a name in a fairytale, an ancient legend of Gallifrey, a corporation in the year 200 100, a code for a military base in Utah, a nuclear power plant project in Cardiff.
Once upon a time, there was a daft old man who stole a magic box, and ran away to seethe universe. Even he could not predict what he would become, what he would create. That he would sweep across the universe, leaving a storm in his wake.
He doesn't know who she is. He can't recognize her. He only sees her for moments at a time before she vanishes. A girl, who is glowing on the inside out. There she is, turning Daleks to dust, pushing the Master away from him, scattering her gold (so much more effective than real gold) across the cybermen to send them away. She appears to him during the war, impossibly blonde and shining, his angel, his goddess.
She gives him the strength to do what Romana has asked of him, and she holds his hand afterwards as he screams from the pain of the void of nothing in his head, clinging to her physically and to the TARDIS mentally. She eases him into regenerating, even when he would do almost anything to just lie down and die. Somehow, regeneration doesn't burn nearly as much as it usually does, with her holding him steady.
Then, even as he clings more tightly, she slips out of his fingers again, dissolving into dust. He follows the Nestene Consciousness to twenty-first century earth, and he finds her. Younger, and not glowing, he takes her hand in the basement of a shop, and the pieces that were missing from his hearts miraculously slot back into place.
Her name is Rose.
He clings to her even as he pushes her away—whatever circumstances led to her glowing and dissolving her way through all of his lives, saving him and his companions along the way cannot be a good fate for her. It is most definitely his fault—because this is what happens to the people that he loves. This is the result of his love. Perhaps his love should be declared a weapon of mass destruction and quarantined—the people that suffer it would be much better off. And yes, maybe if she hadn't been there, he might've died many hundreds of years ago. Maybe that would've been better. Maybe if he had suffered an untimely demise many hundreds of years ago, Gallifrey would still be there, having never turned to dust in a storm of blood and fire, never fallen victim to the consequences of his love—even his planet cannot survive it.
He asks her to accompany him anyway. Because he's selfish that way, and because he needs to cling to her warmth just a little bit longer. The part of him that loves her, that has loved her since he first laid eyes on her, long before he turned into this bitter, broken mess of a person, is relieved when she says no. But that part also screams and twists in pain inside of him, so he goes back to ask her again.
The first thing that he shows her is her own planet, dissolving into fire before her eyes. It is a horrible thing to force someone to watch, but he just desperately needs someone to understand. Needs her to understand. Somehow, miraculously, she does, and the words, "there's me," are burned onto his subconscious forevermore.
And she takes his hand and drags him to get chips, and he thinks that he might just be falling in love—the parts of him that weren't already in love with the version of her that is scattered as his glowing saviour, all across time and space.
Then he is going to die and he sends her away, thinking that perhaps it wasn't his fault—perhaps, somehow, she manages to run afoul of something else that makes her glow and dissolve across his timeline. He's just glad that she's out of harm's way. Until she isn't. And the TARDIS is rematerializing, and she slides out the doors, glowing more brilliantly than she ever has before. She turns the Daleks to dust and brings Jack back to life, and she can see the whole of time and space—all that is, all that was, all that ever could be. And he knows where she is right now. She is saving him—all of him.
But she's burning. She burning, and dying, and he's blinded by her light, and the thought of losing her is so utterly unbearable that he takes the vortex into himself. Small price to sacrifice one of his lives for—clinging to her for just a little bit longer.
He's happy now. He's got her, and he's got the TARDIS, and yes, there's still a hole in his head where the Time Lords should be, but she fills it. She's there, and he adores her, because she's still fantastic, even if the word tastes sort of funny in his mouth now, and after a little bit of discussion and resourceful world saving, she doesn't want to leave him.
Which is good—because he was sort of born loving her, and he thinks that he may have imprinted on her like a baby duckling.
They're amazing. The stuff of legend. The Valiant Child, the Beast calls her, and even as he says that she will die in battle, he is so amazingly proud of her, of her nature, for earning a name like that from a creature as malevolent as the Beast.
And then she's gone. His hearts are being ripped out all over again, and he thinks that this might just hurt as badly as after the Time War. He loves her so much, and all of his previous incarnations (who love her, too) are screaming in his head for him to say it to her, but he runs out of time because he was stalling and being a coward.
Then there's a shrieking bride on his TARDIS, and he can't sit and wallow in misery right about now. Donna Noble grows on him, mostly because he knows that Rose wouldn't want for him to be alone, and because he knows that Rose would like her—Rose liked anyone who had the courage to put him in his place, and he adores anyone that Rose likes—even if she never actually met Donna, it counts.
So he invites Donna along—anything to stop up the aching silence that her absence has left. Donna says no, but he doesn't ask again—that was for Rose only. But Donna calls him back, and he hopes that she's going to change her mind. Instead, she just asks for his friend's name. And he finds that he wants someone in this universe to know her name—to remember her, even if she doesn't know. And he wants for Donna Noble to think of her now and then. Rose deserves to be remembered. She deserves to be a story—not to fade out of existence after she's gone, like so many of the others; but to be told, if only so that, in a little way, she's always on the TARDIS with him.
"Her name was Rose."
He dematerializes without hearing Donna's reaction.
He meets Martha Jones in a hospital on the moon. And Rose wouldn't want him to be alone. She would never want that. Martha is resourceful and quick-thinking. She's adventurous, and she has many, many positive qualities. And she's mostly nothing like Rose, with exception to bravery, which is good. He thinks about Rose often enough without having someone there reminding him of her all the time.
He travels with Martha, and he knows that he makes her feel second-best. He feels bad about it—Martha is plenty good all on her own, and she doesn't deserve that. But she just isn't Rose, and nothing that Martha says or does will change that.
When he is human, he remembers gold light. It seemed to follow him. And when he is a Time Lord again, he convinces himself that his own feeble human mind is incapable of comprehending what he was seeing.
It is both preferable and inferior to the alternative—that she didn't just reach back through his lives, she reached forward, that he has to see her but not touch, that he can lay eyes on her for a single golden second, through the rest of his years and lives.
This is confirmed as truth after the Master. When Martha walks the earth and the entire world says his name—and what happens isn't his youth being restored. It is a golden blonde coming into existence at the cage's side. He reaches for her—he cannot help it. He is like a drug addict, and she's the only fix that he can get.
One touch of her fingers is enough for her light to spread to him, to restore him, to get him over to the Master and instruct Jack to destroy the paradox. Commotion to the side as they stare at each other—Jack's arrived, then.
Jack skids into the room with a gun at his side. Rose grimaces at the pain of the vortex burning her. "My Captain," she says affectionately.
Jack cocoons Rose into his side as the Doctor takes care of the Master and the paradox. And then it is over. "Please don't leave," he begs her. Clings to her.
"My Doctor," she declares, in that voice that breaks his heart.
"Your Doctor," he agrees, in effort to make her stay for just another second, to make her smile that smile that makes him wish that he had fallen with her—for Rose Tyler, he would give up the stars.
"I want you safe. But I cannot stay."
"Why—why didn't you save yourself?" He demands, his fingers tightening on her shoulders as he near shakes her for answers.
"It will all be answered in time," she says. "I must go, now. But, my Doctor. You will see me again. When the time is right. Martha Jones," she adds, looking over his shoulder, even as she starts to dissolve in his arms.
Martha is in awe, he can tell. "Yes?"
"Thank you. For taking care of him."
"Rose!" The Doctor grabs for her as she turns into stardust. "Rose Tyler, I l—" he tries, only to be cut off, again, this time by her disappearing instead of him. "No," he murmurs brokenly, dropping to one knee beside the Master's lifeless body, still staring with wide-eyed grief at the remnants of gold in the air.
Jack sinks next to him, and, wrong as Jack may be to his instincts, he cannot resist the impulse to collapse against him. "That was the Time Vortex, huh?" Jack asks as he rubs soothing motions into his back.
"Yes. She burns. Like the sun," the Doctor declares.
"She loves you."
"I love her," the Doctor says honestly. Jack brushes a kiss onto his hairline, and he doesn't have the strength to object to Jack's typical affection.
The TARDIS is back in the vortex, and Martha and Jack think that he can't hear them, but he can.
"So that was Rose," Martha is asking.
"That was Rose. She wasn't so glowy the last time that I saw her," Jack attempts a joke that falls short, and he can hear Martha shifting uncomfortably. "She... from what I can figure—the Doctor isn't exactly explaining," Jack elaborates, "when she absorbed the Time Vortex to save him, she scattered more than just the words Bad Wolf through time and space—she scattered herself. She saw this happening, and she split herself to meet it in the moment that she held the vortex. She did it to save him."
"She's always saved me," the Doctor says, making his presence known. Jack gives him a darkened look, and Martha jumps as if he's clanged a hot fire poker on the console in front of her. "I knew her long before I met her, because she scattered herself all the way across my timeline, saved my life more than once. She was there after the Time War."
"You've been in love with her since before you met her," Jack says.
Jack gives him a sympathetic look. Maybe it was seeing Rose, and maybe it was just the Year, but Martha's realized that he's never going to love her like she wants him to. He's proud of her for leaving him, even though it hurts like a knife to the gut. Proud of her for choosing to do what she needs, even if it isn't what either of them want.
Martha could sort of stop up the holes that Rose left, but now Martha's gone, too, and he's alone again—except for his fifth incarnation. He asks about her. How can he not? As Five is fading away, he calls out to him. "You know the blonde girl?" He asks. Five turns to him.
"What about her?"
"She's not going to hurt you. You can trust her," he says, remembering how he used to sort of distrust her brilliant glow. "And just wait till you meet her—ask her twice. She's worth it." He knows that Five won't remember their conversation—he can't. The Blinovitch Limitation Effect is there for a reason. But the memories are never truly gone, and maybe that's why he asked her twice in the first place? Because some subconscious part of him remembered that?
Of course, then the Titanic crashes into his ship, and he meets Astrid. And Astrid reminds him of her, and all she wants to do is see something more. It would be a crime to not offer it to her. She wants to see the stars.
But then she dies—he's managed to get her killed after knowing her for all of three hours—that may just be a record, even for him. And she glowing and flying, and he can't help but be reminded of his burning angel.
So he's alone again. He resists the urge to seek out danger on purpose so that her glowing form will come and rescue him.
Donna. Oh, he's so proud of Donna. Looking for him, chasing down aliens, all of it—Donna Noble can defend this earth, since Rose is busy defending the other one. He refuses to let himself hope for anything other than glimpses—Rose is trapped. Even when she promised that he would see her again. Obviously, she means that he is going to get into trouble and she is going to turn up to save him.
Like when he is blowing up the Sontaran ship. She appears next to him in a helix of gold, and they are both sucked away from the explosion, back to Luke Rattigan's special school, where Donna and Luke are staring at the teleport in abject horror and Martha is standing apart, looking knowing.
The light is here, and Donna and Luke stare in awe and Martha smirks, because clearly she was expecting this. "Rose," Martha greets carefully.
"Hello, Martha Jones," Rose says, all of time echoing through her voice. Then she turns to him, turns into his arms and presses one hand to his cheek. "My Doctor," she echoes herself affectionately. "I want you safe. But you certainly make a habit of making that difficult."
"Rose," he begs brokenly—because she will always break him. "Please, stay. Don't go."
"I must." She takes his hand in hers, and presses a gentle kiss to his palm. "I am coming, Doctor. You will see me again. The wolf is at the door. The song is ending, but the story never ends."
"You won't leave my next incarnation?"
"Still my Doctor," she assures him. Somehow, the fact that she will continue to come and save future-him makes his impending doom (according her and the Ood, anyway, he's dying. He's kind of a genius, and not likely to misinterpret a warning like 'your song is ending soon.' He knows what's coming.) seem more bearable.
Then she's gone again, and he's left grasping at stardust as she dissolves from his arms, and he collapses to his knees, reaching for her. Martha is next to him, holding him as he chokes and grabs for something that isn't there. Donna comes to his other side.
"What just happened?" Donna asks quietly of Martha, as they smooth things over with UNIT, him in a haze between them as they support him back to the TARDIS.
"I'm sure that he's mentioned Rose?"
"Little bit, yeah," Donna says, rolling her eyes. "Here and there."
"That was Rose," Martha says by explanation.
"That was Rose? With the glowing and the teleporting and the dissolving?" Donna asks incredulously. Still, she seems to instinctively understand that right now he needs support, so she continues to hold his weight and keeps manoeuvring him to the TARDIS.
"The way I understand it," Martha says, catching his arm as it begins to slide off of her shoulder. "One time, they were in a lot of danger, and he sent her away. But she ripped open the heart of the TARDIS and absorbed the Time Vortex. She saved him then, but she also scattered herself across his timeline, saving his life whenever he needed it. Jack could explain it better than I could. But if you're ever in deep enough trouble that it looks utterly hopeless, expect her to show up, and for him to be mindless with grief for a few days."
"But why'd she leave him, then? Why didn't she just stay?"
"Because she only held the Time Vortex for about five minutes," Martha says. "It was killing her, apparently. He didn't talk about her a lot, but after she turned up to help save us from the Master, I was able to wrangle bits of the story out of him. Then Jack filled in the rest."
Martha laughs. "You'd like Jack," she says. "He's gorgeous. I'm an engaged woman, but I can admit that."
"So... she had to go back to when she had the time vortex?"
"Yeah," Martha says. "She can only stay for a few minutes. From what he's said, one time she stayed for days, but I think that he really needed her then."
He just wants to take the TARDIS into the vortex and mope around for a few days, but instead they're hurtling towards somewhere unknown, and his handy hand is getting excited about it. Martha is angry about it—he can tell, even though she avoids yelling at him with the state that he's in.
He wakes up from his cloud of grief when he realizes that they've factory produced his daughter. And she's blonde; Time Lord genetics can be a bit weird, and she most likely gets that from blonde-him (Five, in case you were wondering), but when he starts accepting her, he decides that she's blonde because Rose was blonde, and that's what he wants to delude himself with; so too bad to everyone who doesn't agree.
Then Cobb shoots her. And he is literal inches away from shooting Cobb in retaliation—he's lost too much lately, and after Rose slipping between his fingers, his nerves are not serving him well right now—when that familiar song starts to echo, and there she is again.
He stumbles away from Cobb and collapses against her, sending the gun clattering to the ground and wishing that he could hold her for longer. "Shh," she soothes. As always, behind that eerie golden glow is that pain in her eyes, the pain that comes with being omniscient, and the pain that comes with the burning. Then she turns to Jenny's fallen form, drops smoothly to one knee, and murmurs, "I bring life."
"You can't!" Those words, he's heard them before, and he won't let what she did to Jack happen to Jenny. Jenny jolts against Rose's fingers, and a breath of golden dust is released through her lips.
"Don't worry," she says absently. "What I did to my Captain was not an accident, Doctor. I regret causing him that pain, but it was necessary. I shall not do the same to your child."
Then she turns to Cobb, and the Doctor, having returned to his senses, remembers exactly what the Bad Wolf is capable of—that she reached through time, and reduced an entire army of Daleks to dust in the blink of an eye. Cobb, horrible as he is, does not deserve that fate. But she doesn't. She kneels next to Cobb, and Cobb flinches away from the strength of her glow. "I am the Bad Wolf. My Doctor wishes for me to grant you mercy. But in return for that, for the pain that you have caused him, you must swear to never harm another. He never would, and you must found your society on the values of a man that never would."
Cobb nods frantically, still trying to scramble away from the strength of the soldiers that lock him into place. Rose got to her feet, and he knows what will happen now—he isn't sure that he has the strength to take it again, so soon. "Rose," he says desperately, knowing that even now, his ninth incarnation is begging her to let the power go. "Rose."
She wraps her arms around him when he enfolds her against him and takes her hands (their hands fit prenaturally well together, and he never wants to let go) "Hello, Martha Jones," Rose says. The Doctor gets the sense that she is fond of Martha, and grateful to her. "Donna Noble. Thank you."
"Rose," Martha greets her carefully.
Then Rose fades away from him, and he can't help but sag forward. Martha and Donna, anticipating this reaction, both move to stop him before he hits the ground. He crumples up next to Jenny, and holds her close in relief as he heaves dry sobs over Rose (again). "She saved you," he says.
"She saved me," Jenny agrees. "But who is she?"
"That was Rose," Donna supplies. "Man like him, not going to fall in love with someone normal, is he?"
He travels on with Donna and Jenny after returning Martha home, showing Jenny the stars and everything that matters to him—everything that's in her blood. In the library is a woman named River Song, who seems to know him. "Who are you?" He demands.
"A friend that you haven't met yet," River says. When he questions why he should trust her, she whispers two words into his ear: Bad Wolf.
Then when River is going to die, she appears again, uncuffs him from the support pillar, pushes River out of the chair and pours her golden power into CAL, restoring all of the people that were trapped within her system. As always, Rose fades from his arms, after assuring him that she will see him again. The mysterious River grins to the side, and jolts about a foot in the air when Rose calls her Melody and kisses her on the forehead.
"She's not lying, you know," are River's parting words, after she watches him open the TARDIS door with a snap of his fingers and grins knowingly at him. "You will see her again. The real her, the one that's trapped—she isn't as trapped as you think." Then River turns to Jenny and holds out a hand. "Do you really want to travel the universe with your father? Or would you like to come with me?"
Jenny gives him a hug and goes with River, and the Doctor wishes that he could stop her, but can't bring himself to ask her to stay—after all, River has a point. Who wants to travel time and space with their father?
On the planet Midnight, he is reminded of the dark side to the race that he normally loves so much; that humans can do nasty things, too. That just because they don't have the power that it would take to seal their planet into a time lock and watch it burn, doesn't mean that they wouldn't have the capacity to cause the same sort of destruction that he does.
He wishes that she would come to him after that, but she doesn't. Obviously, she knew that he could save himself, even if he isn't sure that he wants to. But he does see her. Not glowing, not dissolving. She overrides the viewing screens and calls his name, and he's done with yelling at the humans for their idiocy in seconds, across the ship and away from the poor woman that's been possessed by something unfriendly to scan the screen frantically. "Rose. Rose. ROSE! Please, come back. PLEASE!" He begs.
"That girl," Jethro says, approaching him cautiously. "That girl in the screen, do you know her?"
"She's... my friend. And I thought that I'd never see her again. ROSE!" Sky is echoing his every word, but he doesn't care. "Please! Please, don't leave me again," he murmurs feebly.
"Who was she?" Jethro ventures. "Was she special?"
"Her name was Rose. And yes, she was special."
Then he gets back to figuring Sky out, because face it—these people are getting jumpier by the second.
Jethro isn't a bad kid, in the end. Now that they're stuck here, awaiting transport, Jethro no longer seems interested in talking to his parents, so he clings to the Doctor instead. Laughing, the Doctor (who has little experience with teenagers—not since Susan, anyway) tells him the stories that he told Jenny, who is the closest thing to an adolescent that he has had on his TARDIS in centuries.
"I have this daughter," the Doctor ventures. "Her name's Jenny—you remind me of her."
"Where is she now?"
"Oh, she went off to see the universe with someone else," the Doctor says, waving a hand. "A friend that I think that I can trust. I understand—who wants to travel the stars with their parents? I was definitely crimping her style."
"How old is she?" Jethro asks shyly.
"Oh, hard to say," the Doctor says. "When I last saw her, she had been 'born' about three months ago—you know how it goes, genetic anomaly generator, out pops fully formed sampling of your DNA who happens to be entirely fully grown mentally and physically, even if she doesn't have much in the way of life experience. Probably fifteen or sixteen, when you factor in physical age and mental development, hormones and all of that. Of course, time travel—next time I see her could be in a week for me, and forty years for her. Soooooo... I have no idea."
"And who did she leave with?"
"River," the Doctor answers. "River's... complicated. She's a friend that I haven't met yet. Time travel—sometimes I meet people in the wrong order. According to her, I'll trust her in the future, but I have no real reason to believe that I can trust her now." Except that she told him that he would see Rose again, and that makes him inclined to believe everything that comes out of her mouth, if only to affirm that that's true.
He gets back from the tour and goes to find Donna; his best mate. Donna takes one look at him, gets to her feet and catches him in a hug. And onwards they go. The Shan-Shen marketplace should be tame and danger-free. And it is—for him. Donna comes blasting out of a hidden booth, slams into him and starts babbling about giant beetles, and the world being destroyed because he never met her, and how Rose seemed to glow a lot less, even though she disappeared just as often, and Martha was dead and Jack was being experimented on by Sontarans—and how the hell does she even know about Jack? Martha must have told her about him.
He finally gets Donna to calm down enough for her words to make any real sense, and when he understands what happened, his blood runs ice cold. And then she gives him Rose's message. Because she's been talking to real-Rose—he's sure of it. Real-Rose who has no memory of being the Bad Wolf—she knows what happened because he told her (with a few omissions—she has no idea what's happened to Jack, and when she finds out that he's alive and they ditched him on the satellite, she's going to smack him into a new body, and she still doesn't know that she scattered herself across his timeline—that the Gamestation was not the first, or the last time that Rose Tyler had saved him). Rose Tyler, who should be trapped, and even if it's wonderful that she's fought her way back to him on a personal level, the fact that she was even able to breach those walls spells out very bad things for the universes.
"But Doctor," Donna says, as he sets the coordinate to earth. "Rose is coming back. That's good, right?"
He looks at her over his shoulder, and manages a single word through the lump in his throat. "Yeah."
They've just landed on earth and are about to step out to try and begin to figure out what's wrong when the earth disappears. It literally vanishes out from under the TARDIS. Donna is shrieking at him—which really isn't helping, he thought that she was mostly over that habit—as he examines the scanner, trying to figure out where his favourite planet has gone.
He takes Donna to the Shadow Proclamation, which is probably a bad move, but the only thing that he can think of. And he figures something out, even if that something is very much not good. Because it isn't just earth; there are twenty-seven planets that have vanished without a trace, and to make matters even more complicated, a few of them vanished from time as well as space, which means that whoever has done this has access to technology of incomparable power.
His TARDIS screen activates, and so many of the people that he loves are there—working to bring him here. Jack and Martha and Sarah-Jane, all sending him a signal to bring him back to earth. His hearts are warmed by these people and how much faith that they have in him. Until the network gets hacked, and he sees who is causing all of this trouble.
And he had honestly thought that he was done with Davros. Davros and his empire of Daleks. He feels heavy inside—the thing is that he can't let that Dalek empire survive. Either they lose this battle and everything gets destroyed, or he has to commit genocide—again—because those Daleks will wreak destruction beyond anything that he can condone allowing to live. Everywhere he goes, everything he does—death. All death. Pompeii, and the Sontarans, and the Daleks—always the Daleks. And Gallifrey.
They've finally landed, they're on the darkened street (because there's no sun) when he decides to further interrogate Donna about what Rose said in that alternate world of hers.
"Why don't you just ask her?" Donna asks. And he looks where she's pointing, and there, way down the street, is a recognizable blonde form, wearing a blue leather jacket and a massive gun. He's running to her in seconds, and she's running to him, and she's not glowing, and she's not disappearing, and he's never ever going to let her go.
There's a loud bang behind him—there was a Dalek there, he guesses but he doesn't care as he finally reaches her and pulls her to him. "Rose," he says into her hair.
"Doctor," she answers, smiling brilliantly.
"Missed you," he manages to get out.
When they finally untangle themselves, Donna is not alone. Jack is standing with her, along with the blown out carcass of a Dalek shell—obviously Jack arrived at exactly the right moment to kill it—but he really can't bring himself to care. Rose's hand is in his, and they're moving towards the TARDIS, and even though there's a crucible of Daleks dangling about the earth and twenty-seven displaced planets, he feels like he can do anything with her by his side.
When Davros drops the TARDIS into the centre of the ship, it feels like he's being ripped in half. Rose squeezes one of his hands, and Donna the other, and Jack pretends to lose his temper and shoot the Dalek nearest to him. As predicted, they kill him, and Rose tears herself from his side to land beside Jack and try to shake him awake. Jack's eyes jolt open, and he winks at both of them.
"But, how?" Rose says in an undertone to him, as they are escorted to the vaults to be Davros' playthings.
"Complicated," the Doctor answered. Yes, he's a coward, and he knows that when he tells her, she'll be mad at him and she'll hate herself. Really, he should tell her everything, but he worries that she'll think that he was manipulating her; that she'll want to leave him after that.
Everything seems so utterly hopeless—he, Rose, and Donna are all caged in these beams of light and he has no idea where Jack's gone when the screen comes on, and there's Martha, threatening to blow the earth to smithereens. He's horrified. Martha, though, Martha stops threatening when she sees Rose.
"Oh my God, he found you," she breathes. The Doctor's eyes go wide—Martha doesn't know that Rose doesn't know about Bad Wolf—that Rose doesn't remember Bad Wolf.
"Martha Jones, meet Rose Tyler. Rose, Martha, she travelled with me after you," he babbles. Rose looks indulgent. Martha looks confused. And Davros looks livid.
"Doctor, Martha already knows me, remember?" Rose says.
"What?" He turns to jerk around and look at Rose. "What?" He says, banging a hand on the beam-cage. "What?"
"Oh, didn't I mention? I remember," Rose throws at him.
"All of it?"
"All of it. That coat was murder, by the way. I don't know what you were thinking. And what is up with that stick of celery? I liked the scarf, though."
He winces at the reminder of his sixth incarnation's 'fashion sense'. "Ooh, I liked it too," he agrees. That scarf was kind of awesome—and very long. Hey, maybe Rose can wear it! He likes it when she wears his clothes.
"Also, you kissed me." Oh, right. He did vaguely remember that, now that he was thinking about it. "And you're going to regenerate and get a new desktop theme," she adds brightly. "I like it; it's pretty. But you kind of blew her up, that's why she needed to change."
"Oops?" He tries.
Then the screen is rippling again, and Jack is there, threatening to blow up the entire crucible with Sarah Jane and Mickey, because apparently, Rose isn't the only one who's playing the dimension jumping game. Which is great and all, except, what if Rose and Mickey got back together in the other universe? He's such a moron, but he's kind of loved her for his entire life, and now that's in his grasp.
Davros teleports everyone into this room, which means that blowing shit up isn't an option anymore, but that's okay, because the TARDIS appears. Everyone stares at it, openmouthed, because they watched it get destroyed. And Jenny bursts out.
"Hello, Dad," she declares happily.
"Hi, Jenny," Martha recovers first, giving Jenny a little wave. Martha didn't actually watch Jenny run off with River, though, so she's probably more surprised that Jenny isn't imprisoned with him.
"Jenny? How'd you know how to fly the TARDIS?"
"River taught me." Jenny grinned at him, bolted through Daleks, using Davros' shock to her advantage as she started to reverse power feeds. As soon as she releases them from their cages, the Doctor runs to help her.
He and his daughter kill all of the Daleks. They have to—it kills him inside, but he couldn't just leave them there to wreak havoc; he knows that they won't change. Then he drops everyone off at home, and leaves Jenny at the Lunar University in the fifty-first century, oversees Rose's goodbye to her mum on a beach in Norway, pained that she has to lose her, but gratified that she's choosing him. Donna decides to spend a few days at home and tells him to pick her up after he and blondie have sorted themselves out, and he and Rose are left alone on an empty TARDIS.
"So," she says. "You should've told me."
"I didn't know what to say. How much of the future do you know?"
"I know that your next incarnation wears a bowtie, you're going to meet another ginger, and that there was a bloke in a Roman outfit," Rose says. "I can remember enough to see what happened, but it's all sort of blurred together."
He looks at her tenderly. "How long are you going to stay with me?"
"Forever," she says. And this time, unlike the last time that she uttered the words, he gives in to the impulse to pull her to him, to lay his lips across hers.
Maybe one day, the universe will tear her away from him permanently, but he's learned his lesson about not taking the moment when he has it.