Here it is: the last chapter. The last page. The end of this story. It's been a good ride. A journey to be remembered.
To answer one of the reviews, asking where Clara is - She went through the vent after Martha. :) I checked and I said so in the last chapter. It was brief though.
Period Thirteen - The Last Page
I watch blankly as Jack's Torchwood gang put out the fire still burning on the second floor. We were held captive inside that accursed building for a week. A long, tiring week. I'm not sure what to do now. Just hop back into the TARDIS and fly around the universe? I can't just forget all that's happened. But what else could I do? Settling down, even for a short while, would drive me insane. I'm not even sure why it hurts so much. After all, it's not like I really lost Rose and the Ponds. They were already out of my reach. But the fact that I thought I had gotten them back...Only for them to be taken away again...That's what is causing this numb feeling inside of me. I haven't said a word to anyone since we made it out, not even knowing what I could say.
"Doctor?" I look up at Clara's uncertain voice. She's standing in front of me, having walked up without my noticing. The way she's twiddling her thumbs shows the evident fact that she is unsure of what to say.
I force a smile onto my face and I rise to my feet in front of my impossible companion. "Where to next?" I ask as cheerily as possible, walking in the direction of where I was told the TARDIS is parked.
I turn to look at Clara's surprised face. "What's wrong?" I ask, pretending that I don't know already.
"You're what's wrong!" Clara exclaims, coming over to me once again, peering at my face. "How can you be so normal? You're acting so cheery! How can you be happy?"
"I'm not happy. I'm very, very far from happy, actually. But I can't just stop now, can I? I have to go on traveling in the TARDIS, all across time and space, because that's what I do."
"So you're going to leave without saying goodbye to River? Or Martha, Mickey, or that incredibly handsome man that rescued us? How about your own daughter? Hmm?" Clara snaps.
I take a deep breath. "No, Clara. I'm not." I walk towards the TARDIS once again, painfully aware of the fact that Clara hasn't moved.
"What is wrong with you?" Clara shouts at my back, causing me to jump. "You just lost your friends and now you won't even say goodbye to the ones you've got left?" I turn around, mouth open to say something back. "Don't try to make excuses!" Clara snaps hotly. "Do we really mean so little to you? Is this what you do, just disappear without saying goodbye?"
"How long will it be until...until you just drop me off somewhere and leave me there without explaining what's happened, or saying goodbye?"
"That won't happen-"
"Of course it will!" A tear rolls down Clara's cheek. "I've seen all these old friends of yours, Doctor. You have to leave us at some point, don't you? And it hurts us. It hurts to travel with an amazing alien who can't die, and travel through time and space with him. It's unlike anything I've ever imagined. But all the time I know...It can't last, can it? Someday you'll just get bored of me, or I'll die-"
"Don't say that!" It's my turn to shout now, making Clara jump a little. "I could never get tired of you, Clara. And you're not going to die."
"Everybody dies, Doctor." She whispers.
"Not if I can help it."
"But you can't! You can't change the fact that I'm human, and someday I'll get too old to travel with you, and then you'll have to find somebody else! Or maybe something will happen to me while I'm flying around with you. We always get ourselves into messes. What if, one day, the mess is too big, and-"
"Fine! Then I suppose I'll leave you now, then, won't I? If you want out so badly then I should, shouldn't I? After all, I do lose my companions, don't I? Look at Rose, stuck in a parallel world. And the Ponds, trapped in a time lock. Martha and Mickey are well off, sure, but only because they left on their own accord. And then there's Donna, who can't remember me!" I'm hurt, and angry, and upset, and I feel slightly sick to the stomach.
"Jenny's alright though, isn't she?" Clara says softly, more as a statement than a question. "And there's River. I mean, sure, she's a little bit weird, but I'm betting she's like that around anyone."
"Oh, so now you're trying to lighten the mood? I thought I was supposed to be feeling awful right now?" I say, shaking my head tiredly.
"No, Doctor, that's not the point!" Clara cries, taking my hand gently. "I just...I don't get how you can keep on going like you do. Most people would have fallen apart by now. Why haven't you?"
"Because...Because..." I stutter, unsure of what to say. "I just haven't, ok?"
Clara's fingers let go of mine, and pain fills my hearts as she walks away in the direction of the hill where we first set foot on the planet.
"Doctor!" I turn at Martha's call, and see her running over to me, Mickey right behind her. Upon reaching me, she looks deep into my eyes searchingly. "Were you going to leave without us?"
"No, of course not." I lie; doing my best to ignore Clara's indignant huff and annoyed glare. "I was just looking for you, actually."
"How're you holding up?" Martha asks tentatively. "You know what happened to your friends wasn't your fault, don't you?" Her sympathetic face and tone hurt me more than they should.
"Yeah, yeah, of course..." I trail off.
"We need a ride home. To earth." Mickey pipes up, breaking the awkward silence.
"What's this about leaving?" Jenny's voice calls. I turn to see her walking over, arms folded. "I know a lot has happened, but that doesn't mean you can just pop off the planet without saying goodbye!"
"No, no, I wasn't leaving quite yet." The lying makes my hearts ache, but it doesn't hurt as much as it would to see my friend's faces if I told them I was running. Always running...
"Good, because I need to say goodbye too!" I look up at the familiar voice to see Jack strutting over to us, mischievous grin on his face as always. I hold back an exasperated sigh. I don't know how he can still smile, not after all that's happened.
"Well, you've come just in time, then. We've got to be off." I say briskly. I just have to get out of here. Get off this terrible planet and never come back.
Jack pulls me into a friendly hug, and I reluctantly return it. "You be careful now, Doctor." He says cheerily, breaking the hug. "And, if your lady friend here ever gets tired of your bantering," Jack winks at Clara. "Make sure to give me a call."
I roll my eyes. "Sure, Jack. You'll be the first to know."
"I'll be waiting with bated breath."
Jenny throws her arms around me and just for a moment a feeling of calm washes over me. It's that father instinct in me, I suppose. "I love you, Dad." My hearts melt at her words, and I blink quickly to stop the tears that are threatening to come. We pull apart, and I smile at her. "You have to take me on some trips. Later, of course. But you owe me that, I think."
I nod, the thought of traveling with my kind-of-sort-of daughter actually sounds appealing. "Of course, we'll have to do that." I agree.
"Don't forget!" Jenny presses.
"Never." I say, smiling for real this time. "We'd better be off now, I suppose. Jenny, you've got a way to get off of this planet, I suppose?"
"I'm going to be traveling with Torchwood for a while now, so, yes, I have." Jenny replies excitedly, looking to Jack.
I raise an eyebrow skeptically. "Are you sure you want to do that?"
"What, you don't trust me with your daughter, Doctor?" Jack teases.
"No, actually, I don't."
"I'll be fine, Dad! Don't worry about me." Jenny says confidently. "Honestly, I'm not a baby."
"Alright, alright." I relent. "Just be careful."
Jenny gives me one last hug and then runs off toward the gathering Torchwood gang a little ways away. Jack salutes me, and with a quick wink at Clara he follows after my daughter.
"Come on, then." Martha says, patting my arm. "Let's get going."
We climb up the hill, and there is the TARDIS, parked in the exact same place as before, waiting for our return.
"Well, that's a sight for sore eyes." Mickey says, grinning. "I haven't been in that thing in ages!"
"She's changed inside - new design - so don't get lost!" I say, tossing Mickey the TARDIS key and ushering him, Martha, and Clara to the blue box. My eyes have fallen on someone more important than the TARDIS for the moment. Clara notices I'm not following them, and looks at me quizzically.
"Aren't you coming?"
"In a minute. Go and make sure those two don't get lost in the TARDIS, will you?" I reply, already walking to my waiting wife. Clara notices River and goes to the TARDIS. Her small, slightly triumphant smile isn't unnoticed by me.
"Hello, Sweetie." River greets me as I reach where she is standing at the edge of the hill where Clara and I admired the planet when we first landed.
"What will you do now?" I ask, looking out at the peaceful landscape in front of us.
"Oh, you know; Travel through time and space, creating some ruckus along the way…Same as usual." She laughs a little. The smile fades from her lips as she looks at my face, eyes searching. "What about you?"
"Drop Martha and Mickey off at home. Then, I suppose...Go on like I always do."
"What?" I ask, confused. "What's that supposed to mean?"
"Typical of you to pretend as if nothing's happened. Just jump back into your blue box and fly away."
"And what else am I supposed to do?" I ask, getting slightly annoyed. "What else could I do?"
"Nothing, I suppose." River says calmly. "Although you could visit some friends. Take some time away from travel, just for a while.
River puts her hand on my cheek, turning my face gently to look at hers. "Don't do this to yourself." She says earnestly.
"Do what? What am I doing?"
"Act as if you're alright, because I know you're not."
"Is it that obvious?" I sigh, energy fading again.
"Very." River replies with a small, sad smile. "It's ok to not be alright, you know. Don't try to pretend to be what you're not." I take a deep breath, letting the silence settle into a natural calm.
"I've got to go." I say at last.
"I understand." River says with a smile. She takes me by surprise as she cups the back of my neck with her hand and kisses me on the lips. My arms don't flail about like they usually do in these cases. Instead, they seem to instinctively wrap around my wife's waist, and we hold each other like that for a moment. I take a small step back, waving in farewell as I walk to the TARDIS. No goodbyes are said out loud. After all, as River knows - I hate endings.
Thank you all SO much for all the amazing support! I'm sorry for all the times that I didn't post for quite a while, and I thank you for being patient! You're all really awesome! *Claps*
I would love some last reviews and feedback on my now completed story! I feel pretty accomplished now! :)