AN: The last chapter. I know this has been a bit like a fun-size snickers, so thank all of you who have read and reviewed! I hope that you enjoy the finale and happy Independence Day to all of us State side!
Those of you who have gone on to read my other DW works-I love you! Please let me know how everything measures up to your expectations.
John watched as the Doctor laughed at something his dad said. It had been a hectic two weeks since that unexpected display of affection that even now had his face heating. They'd careened into adventures wildly in that time; the Doctor barely giving him a break before they were off again. He had the sneaking suspicion she was trying to distract him from what she'd done.
This last escapade had been a near thing, involving justice meting balls of light and standing stones that absorbed blood. The Ogri had been taken from their planet for nefarious purposes and John had nearly been killed by the Megara's black and white view of the situation. The Megara had been a hair's breath away from executing him before the Time Lady had shown up with Cessair, the real culprit. While she was doing some fast talking and saving the day, he could feel the fear seeping through his friend's usually impenetrable shields. She'd been far more worried than she'd let on.
The Doctor had decided to take him for a visit with his family after that. She'd been subdued; strongly reminding John of her previous self in her brooding.
"Stop staring at her like you're trying to vanish her clothes," Amy hissed in his ear.
Stifling a yelp at her abrupt appearance, John glowered at her. "What?"
The ginger smirked and crossed her arms. "Someone's jumpy. What were you thinking about?"
Curses flew through his mind as he felt himself blush. His sister-in-law's eyes sparkled impishly at the sight. Arching a brow, she glanced across the room at the Doctor and then back to him.
"You know, John, you're more relaxed than I've ever seen you. Whatever you do out there-it's been good for you," she told him seriously, catching him off guard.
Clenching his hands against gestures, he shrugged. "Yes. The Doctor says her life has a way of changing people."
Amy waved flippantly. "I don't know about that. I think it's just brought out things that were always there. It helps having someone you don't have to slow down for, doesn't it?"
Straightening his bowtie, he nodded nervously. Amy smiled and patted his arm.
"Just don't get married in some weird alien ceremony unless you can invite us."
Sputtering, he tried to put his indignation into words as Amy cackled gleefully. The three across the room glanced to them with curiosity. Shaking her head, the Scotswoman walked to her husband as the Doctor made her way to an embarrassed John.
The family went to the kitchen, leaving the two time travelers alone in front of the TARDIS. The Doctor folded her hands together and smiled.
"You have a splendid family."
Holding his elbows, he snorted. "For the most part."
"I imagine you must miss them," she stated with such casual nonchalance that his radar immediately triggered.
Facing her, he narrowed his eyes as he tried to reason what she was doing. Her mind was locked tight, giving him no hint that way.
"Sometimes," he answered carefully. "What are you doing?" he finally just asked.
"I promised I wouldn't leave without saying goodbye," was her heartbreaking reply.
He'd thought over how this scene would go a hundred times since he first understood that one day it'd happen. He hadn't realized how angry he'd be.
"Our Timelines diverged, just like that?" he gritted out.
The split second before she nodded, he knew they hadn't. She was pushing him away because she was scared of how close to death he'd come. She was leaving him before he could leave her-to death or old age. He knew her reasons. He really, honestly could see her point of view, and until that moment, would have probably let her just to make her life easier.
In that moment, however, he glimpsed how devastated this would make her. She made the mistake of letting her shields slip-just slightly. Clenching his jaw, he ran every angle through his mind as fury and desperation mingled and built until he was left with only one thing.
"Look me in the eyes and tell me our Timelines have diverged," he hissed lowly, catching her attention as nothing else had.
Anguish was pooled in her dilated eyes as she drew herself up. Their gazes clashed as she tilted her chin up defiantly-at total odds to the trembling walls of her mind.
"Our Timelines have diverged."
"Liar," he accused as his emotions erupted into actions.
One hand cradled the back of her head-knocking off her hat-as the other slammed her against the TARDIS. She only had a moment of shock, then he was kissing her as if she was life itself. He didn't know what would happen after this-if she would change her mind or not-but his feelings were finally unleashed.
As his mouth slanted over hers, she buried her fingers in his hair, pulling him even closer; kissing him back. That sealed it for him.
Breaking away, he would have been a bit smug at her dazed expression and the little noise she made, had he not been so terrified. Resting his forehead on hers, he closed his eyes and savored the feel of her pressed against him in a non-life threatening way.
"Johnny," she whispered, a catch in her voice, but he cut her off.
"I'm not romanticizing my memories of you," he stated gruffly, opening his eyes and pulling back to look at her.
"I see who you are, Doctor, and how dangerous this life is. I might have an hour or eighty years left whether I'm with you or not. However, if you're going to leave me here in some sort of misbegotten attempt to keep me safe, then you're going to listen to me first."
He cradled her face. "I love you," he told her, the words tender and absolute. "You leaving won't change that. You've shown me how to be better; what it means to make a difference and live. But, I love you because you dismantle toasters and can't cook in either of your incarnations. I love you because you hum when you're happy and are killer at cards. I love you because you look like home and always will to me."
A wet, breathy laugh escaped him as he tried to reign in his emotions. "All those universes out there, are we ever happy?"
Tears spilled down her cheeks as she sniffled and rested her hands over his heart. His left hand slid to cover them.
"Yes. A few give us happiness." One side of her mouth quirked as she met his eyes. "The ones where Time Lord you doesn't send Human me away."
His lips twitched as the corners of his eyes crinkled in affectionate amusement that was so familiar. The green Storm in his mind suddenly burst free from its door, making him gasp. The Doctor blinked in shock as the air around them shifted and a new Timeline was born. When the green Storm brushed the golden howling of her mind, John's face went slack.
"Doctor, you—" he blushed, then grinned so widely his face hurt. "You love me," he finished, unbridled joy lighting every part of him.
She realized her shields were completely obliterated, making her flush in a way she hadn't done in several lives. "Shut up," she grumbled, but squeaked when he leaned down and kissed her again.
Surrendering to the onslaught, she resigned herself to being happy and all the terror filled worry he brought to her mad life.
Meanwhile, Rory worked to pick his jaw off the ground. Amy and Arthur stood beside him, having come to see what was taking him so long in fetching the travelers.
"Damn," Amy whispered. "Did not know John had it in him."
Arthur covered his mouth to hold in his laughter. "John's always found a way to get what he wants. It sometimes just takes him a while to realize he wants it."
Tilting her head to the side, Amy felt her eyes grow to the size of dinner plates.
"Did he just—"
"—And we're leaving!" Rory declared suddenly, herding his family toward the door. "My treat at that new restaurant, yeah?"
In some universes, John Smith is a Time Lord and the Doctor is a human girl known as Rose Tyler. In most, he leaves her with only golden memories and heartache in his wake. In a special few, she gives him her forever and he cherishes every day of it. In one, she is a golden vessel of Time. In another, a universe traversing woman who becomes more. The TARDIS meddles in this one or that one while she's a lost Time Lady in several others. Perhaps nanogenes change her in one, or she is changed into pure energy in another.
Yet, in this universe, she is the Doctor and she loves a bowtie wearing green and brown genius who maybe-just maybe-she can keep for her forever. Those other universes apparently didn't take into account Pythia-era marriage bonds.
"Are you drawing Prentiss' theory of anti-matter suspension on my hip?"
His fingers stilled.
"My bedroom. Now."
Grinning, he complied.