Disclaimer: Doctor Who belongs to the BBC. I do not own any of it, nor do I get paid for it.
A/N Welcome to the last chapter of 'Desperado'. Enjoy the reunion and a small epilogue at the end. It has been a journey and half with this story and I am thankful for each and every one of you being there for me with your amazing support.
As the Doctor prepared to return to Gallifrey in his eighth life, several years in his personal future the Tenth Doctor woke up from a vivid dream as the memory unfurled in his mind. Feeling the coordinates in his mind as easily as he knew his own name, he ran to the console room at a speed that seemed to defy the very nature of time.
"Rose," he murmured to himself, twisting dials and pulling levers at an astonishing pace. "I am coming to get you."
All those signs, all those indications of Bad Wolf, all of that had been true. Rose was really back and she had been looking for him for so long. The Doctor felt like both his hearts would burst with joy. He was going to see Rose again.
He was a bit thankful that Donna was off visiting her mum and granddad, and Jenny was still at the Luna University. He would introduce them to Rose later; for now, he just wanted to see her and hold her in his arms. Other details of the memory filtered into his mind and he felt himself go red. Perhaps more than just holding her then, he decided.
The TARDIS landed and he vaguely registered that it was mid-afternoon and the storm had let up. There was still a light drizzle in the air but he didn't care as he ran to the cottage that his eighth self hadn't got a chance to examine properly because of the storm.
In the bleak daylight now, it looked quaint and quite beautiful. He could see why Rose would have liked it. The thought of her being only a few feet away from him propelled his feet into action as he ran to the door and unlocked it with the sonic screwdriver, too impatient to knock and wait for her.
He could hear both his hearts hammering in his chest as he ran inside the cottage but there was no reply from Rose. The Doctor tried not to give in to the sinking feeling as he called for her again and walked through the cottage.
The smell of melted wax still lingered in the air but the bed had been made up and there was no sign of Rose. Afraid that he had just missed her, he was about to head back to the TARDIS to try and trace her when he saw the vortex manipulator sitting on top of the table. The rose and note left by his eighth self were placed next to it. A bag filled with Rose's belongings was tossed to the side and a closed diary was tucked into the side pocket of the messenger bag.
Curiosity overcoming everything else, the Doctor sat down on the bed and opened the diary. He recognised Rose's writing at once and his hearts gave a leap as he read the first entry. 'Dear Doctor…' it began and the Doctor started reading as Rose's story unfolded from the moment she had been taken to Mars by Commander Skaldak and Ssari. Interspersed among the entries were details of her life in Pete's world, and the Doctor realised with a pang that it had been far longer for her than it had been for him.
By the time he reached her second to last entry, he had tears in his eyes. He was so proud of her, so much in awe of her, and so grateful for whatever had given her the ability to give him forever. Rose Tyler, the Bad Wolf, Defender of the Earth, and the most remarkable woman he had ever known had chosen to love an old, lonely alien like him.
He ran a hand over his eyes to wipe the tears before turning the page to the last entry.
It feels odd writing this one. It is always hard to write when I run into one of your other selves but this time was different. I don't know if you remember, if you will ever remember, but I doubt I will ever forget last night. Perhaps it was as much for my sake as yours that we met like that.
It hurt me not to tell you what was to come. Of course I learned my lesson with the reapers but I know that I wish I could spare you the pain of the Time War. You deserve so much more than you have been given and it pains me to see you lose so much. The universe is a bitch sometimes.
I wasn't surprised when I awoke to find you gone. You never were good at dealing with the aftermath of things. I have to admit that even I wouldn't have known what to say after all that. It was one of the best nights of my life, as well as being the most difficult but I wouldn't change a thing about it. I love you, Doctor, and if even a distant memory of last night helped you in anyway then my goal was successful.
Oh, and the flower and the note was a nice touch. Robert Burns was always a favourite of mine as you well remember since you introduced his work to me. Now maybe I'm wondering if last night subconsciously affected your decision about that. It's funny how timelines work sometimes.
I am taking today off from universe hopping. I actually feel like going for a walk even if it looks like it might start raining again soon. But I will be back looking for you once I get back.
I will find you, I promise.
The entry came to an end and the Doctor ran a reverent finger over the 'I love you' she had written. The memory of the past night had helped him more than she could ever know. He'd frequently dreamt of it during the rare moments of sleep in midst of the war and he'd found the strength to keep going, as Arcadia fell, the Time Lords lost and Gallifrey burned.
The need to see her returned in full force. He reread the part where she said she was going for a walk, and he dropped the diary on the bed and ran from the cottage. There were prints in the mud leading down a path to the west and the Doctor ran faster than he ever had in his lives as he followed the tracks.
The path sloped downwards but he didn't pause as he ran through the squelchy moors. His internal time senses registered that he had been running for a full twenty minutes when he saw a figure in the distance. The drizzle that had gradually changed to a steady rain drenched him completely as he came to a stop a few metres away from the woman who had her arms flung wide open and her eyes closed as she tilted her head to the sky.
The rain was soaking her clothes and hair but she had a quiet smile on her face as she just relished in the feel of rain against her skin. The Doctor had a flashback to the planet of Lavazza when he and Rose had got caught in the rain while running back to the TARDIS. They had shaken off the horde chasing them a few miles away but they'd been so soaked that they had just stopped to enjoy the rain.
Rose had been in much the same position as she was in now and the Doctor had just looked at her, the beauty of Lavazza (murderous hordes not withstanding) paling in comparison to her. He had wanted to kiss her then but said murderous horde had somehow picked up their trail again and they'd had to leg it back to the TARDIS quite quickly.
But there were no murderous hordes now, nor was there anything stopping him as he ran those last few steps towards her. Her eyes opened as he got closer and the smile that came over her face would have put the brightest stars in the sky to shame.
In a split second, she was running towards him and there was nothing to stop them as they met in the middle and wrapped their arms around each other so closely that it would be difficult to tell where one began and the other ended. Rose felt her feet being swept off the ground as the Doctor proceeded to twirl her around, both of them laughing and weeping at the same time.
It was only when Rose shivered in his arms that they realised that they were both soaked to the bone and it was quite cold outside. But then their eyes met properly for the first time and the warmth that blazed through both their hearts made the cold inconsequential.
"Rose Tyler," the Doctor whispered, still holding her tightly in his arms.
"Yeah?" she breathed, her hands tangling into the soft, wet hairs at the nape of his neck.
He brushed her nose with his. "I love you."
Rose laughed breathlessly as she tilted her face up in clear invitation. "Quite right too," she murmured. "I love you, Doctor."
His grip around her tightened as their lips met in a fierce kiss. Years of passion, devotion and love culminated into a kiss that shook them both down to their very souls. Timelines, past and future, converged and diverged before becoming intertwined in an exquisite bond that resonated through all of time and space.
Serenity, thought the Doctor, as he kissed the woman he loved with all his hearts. The feeling of peace and tranquillity. Rose had named her ship perfectly. It was how he felt about her.
For Rose, being in his arms felt like she was finally home. She had questions for him of course, most notably how he had found her but they could wait, as could the rest of the universe.
Their lips broke apart as their lungs ached with the need to breathe. The Doctor smiled down at her as he linked their hands together and said just one word. The word that had started it all. "Run."
And so they did, all the way back to the cottage. They were both out of breath by the time they got there but Rose gave a cry of delight as she saw the TARDIS and immediately pulled out the chain around her neck to unlock the TARDIS with her key. The Doctor watched her with a beaming smile as she ran inside and ran a loving hand over the time rotor which brightened immediately under her ministrations.
"Hello, old girl," Rose whispered as she felt the warmth from the TARDIS infuse her mind, delighting in her wolf's return. "I missed you too."
She felt the Doctor's arms wrap around her waist as he hugged her from behind and buried his face in her neck. The two of them stayed just like that, letting the song of the TARDIS soothe them as she basked in the joy of her thief and wolf being together again.
There were things to do, questions to answer, and children and companions to introduce, but for that moment, it was just the Doctor and Rose Tyler in the TARDIS.
Just as it should be.
Epilogue – Four Hundred (Relative) Years Later
"I don't know what you mean. The silver looks nice," said Rose contemplatively.
The Doctor made a face as he turned this way and then that as he appraised his hair. "And the accent?"
"Scottish, very nice," she teased with a wink. She appraised him from head to toe. "Not that much taller than you were before."
He raised his eyebrows, another novelty in this body Rose noted, and pulled her towards him. "Still the perfect height to kiss then?" he asked, some uncertainty letting itself known under the sure persona of this new regeneration.
Rose replied by raising herself on her tiptoes to let her lips touch his in a slow, lazy kiss. "The perfect height to kiss," she agreed.
He smiled, placated for the time being. Rose almost rolled her eyes at the never changing vanity he seemed to possess in every regeneration. She was so going to remind him of this the next time he complained about her need to change her whole wardrobe. Call her human, but a change was good every few decades and he hadn't seemed to mind when she had worn nothing but skirts and sundresses for about three decades. Something about easy access and less layers.
A light beeping drew their attention away from their own thoughts and Rose picked up her battered yet trusty old vortex manipulator which had an emergency beacon lit up on it. With a sigh, she opened the message and read it quickly.
"What is it?" the Doctor asked, looking at the bowtie like it was something he wanted to shred with his bare hands.
"Our daughter thought it would be funny to steal the Mona Lisa from the 31st century revival exhibit," said Rose. "Something about a fake painting being undeserving of being in the exhibit."
"They're all fake," said the Doctor absently. "I personally went back in time and wrote FAKE in black felt tip on the blank canvases before good old Leo painted them."
Rose stared at him as if trying to gauge if he was joking or not. More than four centuries they'd been married and she still couldn't tell. "Anyway, I've gotta go and break her out of prison. You'll be alright, won't you?"
He nodded. "I should go and talk to Clara. Poor girl was a wee bit shocked."
Rose slapped his arm as she entered the coordinates to take her to Jenny's location. "That's what happens when you don't warn your companions about regeneration," she said as he grinned at her. "In any case, Jenny and I will drop by later. I love you."
"And I love you, Rose Tyler," he said, relishing the way his new accent made it sound. Judging by the heated look she shot him, so did she. A flash of bright blue and she was gone but he knew that she would be back.
For faces could change, people could come and go, and time could pass, but the Doctor and Rose Tyler were forever.
THE END ~
A/N Thank you for reading.
Let me know what you thought of the final chapter and the story as a whole. This was one of my favourite stories to write and I hope you enjoyed reading it.
In case it wasn't obvious, the Doctor at the end is the 12th Doctor. Obviously it's guess work on my part about what his Doctor would be like but I hope it is something similar to a cross between Nine and Ten. That's what I think of when I look at Peter Capaldi anyway.
Anyway, thanks for sticking with me through the entirety of 'Desperado'. A big thank you for all the alerts, favourites and reviews. Not to mention the occasional reminder to get my butt into gear and update. I am completely grateful.