So, as the summary says, this is a sequel to The Wolf and the Thief. For those who are reading this and really don't want to read that first (though I strongly suggest you do) here's the last chapter to catch you up to speed a little. For those of you that did read the first one, just skip ahead to the next chapter. Allons-y!
The Doctor spent the next two weeks between calculations and deep scans to find a way for Rose to say goodbye to Jackie and spending as much time as possible with the girl herself. He'd been horrified to learn the specifics of what she'd gone through in the parallel world, having her own mother forget her, having the father she'd never known fight for her and lose, over and over, all without having any hint as to what was happening—compounded by guilt that he'd actually suggested she go back there, regardless of whether he'd been in a position to know what would happen or not. She'd told him exactly what had happened in the Rift Chamber as well, the way he'd tricked her into leaving, the way she's come back, and the manner in which she'd ultimately ended up trapped there anyway. He couldn't imagine the pain he would have felt had he watched her get pulled towards the Void.
Rose didn't know any real specifics about what had happened to him after he lost her, and the TARDIS wasn't offering up anything more than she already had. She had only been able to retrieve those moments while they still existed in potential; now that time had been rewritten, those images would be impossible to play back, even for her. Probably for the best. The Doctor had dark enough moments while Rose had been comatose—he couldn't imagine the despair of losing her completely in such a way.
He was still stunned at what she had gone through the last two years. He could understand now why she had started sounding so much like him. Reliving those adventures gave her a unique perspective, and she'd come as close to seeing the universe the way he did as anyone who wasn't a Time Lord could. He could see why the TARDIS had sent her back so far—all the oddness, as well as the personality change, would have been impossible to ignore if he's already known her at all—but he hated that she'd had to go through all that, all the loss, all the guilt, all over again. He couldn't, however, hide the pride he felt when she did recount some of the specifics that she'd changed, how hard she'd fought, the people that had survived because of her.
He'd found out soon after the battle that both her and Jackie were listed as dead. He'd offered to get her name at least taken off the list, but she'd refused. She said it would provide closure for the people still left behind, the family and friends. Without Jackie there, it just wasn't home anymore. Let those that still remained mourn for them and move on.
When they weren't talking about the more morbid subjects, though, the Doctor was delighted just to sit and watch her. Now that she wasn't living in the shadow of her own secret, she sparkled again. There was still grief over the fact that she wouldn't see her mother again, except maybe to say goodbye, but she knew what her mother's life would be, and how much happiness it would be filled with. After all, she'd been there the first time. So as much as it hurt, she didn't allow it to detract from her happiness that she could stay with him. He was still floored that she loved him that much, and was still trying to wrap his mind around the fact that she was actually going to last.
Not that he was complaining. About anything. He hadn't even panicked when, the day after she'd regained consciousness, he'd woken up to see her sitting next to him on his bed, holding out a mug of tea and wearing his shirt—that only had appeared to have four buttons still attached. He still craved the telepathic connection that Time Lords created with their mates, quite badly, but the ache wasn't nearly as excruciating as loving her while he'd thought she had a human lifespan had been. This was a pain he would take gladly if that was all he had to bear.
For Rose's part, she was on cloud 9. The nightmare battle was over, the war against Time itself had been won. She was finally free to live happily ever after with the Doctor, and happy it was indeed. He had taken everything so much better than she'd dared to hope, and the Doctor from her nightmares had never even factored in. He still loved her, and he still wanted her—he was even trying to find a way to say goodbye to Jackie for her.
She knew that it would take a while for it to fully hit her that she'd never see her mother again, probably not until after she'd said goodbye, and she was already mourning the loss of the family she'd never be able to have with her and Pete, but it was better this way. While things had fallen into place almost immediately for her parents, life in the other universe had been a constant struggle for Rose from day one, a struggle that had only gotten worse when she'd finally realized what was happening to her. Jackie had a chance to be happier than she'd ever been, and at least now she wouldn't forget Rose—hopefully being able to say goodbye would convince her mum that she was just as happy.
She knew the Doctor still harbored some guilt about the fact that, if it wasn't for him, she would never have had to do any of it. But, as she told him, if it hadn't been for him, she wouldn't have had a life worth fighting so hard for. For the first nineteen years of her life, nothing happened. Nothing at all. Not ever. And then she'd met the Doctor. A man who could change his face. And he took her away from home in his magical machine, and showed her the whole of time and space. Together, they'd fought, and they'd laughed, and they'd loved. And now it never had to end.
The Doctor beamed when he found it. He knew it could be done…after all, he'd done it. But that didn't stop him from a hearty self-congratulation when he found the crack and the perfect power source for Rose to say her goodbye. As soon as he was sure of his findings, he went off to give her the good news. He found her in the library, and whistled as he sauntered in. This wasn't the only surprise he had for her.
"I've found your supernova, love," he said, taking a seat next to her on the sofa, beaming when her face lit up. "And a crack. I'll help you get a message through to lead her to the right place, then I'll patch in something visual so you can see each other."
She threw her arms around his neck. "That's just…brilliant," she said. "Thank you, Doctor."
"Of course, Rose," he said, pulling back a little. "I promised, right? Catch me breaking promises to you," he added with a wink. "Oh, and there is one other thing."
She pulled back further and shifted, looking at him expectantly.
"I've decided that you were right," he said. "That chain was just entirely too cluttered."
"You…you took the charms?" she stammered. She'd asked about the chain when she found he'd taken it off while she was sleeping, but he'd evaded explanations, simply saying he needed it for something.
He nodded. "Couldn't even get to the key anymore. Completely ridiculous design. Don't know why I ever did it in the first place." He took a sideways glance at her and saw her swallow hard. "Soooo…I decided that a bracelet for them would make more sense," he went on, tugging the new bracelet out of his pocket, complete with every charm—the TARDIS, the snowflake, the crescent moon, the star, the mistletoe, the forget me nots, the angel wings, the dream catcher, the silhouettes, the cross with roses engraved in it, the lightning bolt and the torch. He held it up to her, watching it glitter in the firelight.
"May I?" he asked softly, holding out his other hand. She nodded mutely and gave him her arm, letting him slip the bracelet around her wrist and clasp it with the sonic. He smiled when she held up her arm, examining it with a small smile.
"And the key?" she asked, tearing her gaze away from the beautiful bracelet.
"Right, that," he said, as if he'd completely forgotten about that part. "Have that too." He pulled it out of another pocket and handed it to her with hands that shook slightly.
There were only two charms on the chain now; one heart on either side of the key. There were silver scars running across the bright red surface of each one.
"Be careful with those, Rose," he said softly. "That's—" he swallowed hard. "That's everything I have to give. They're not perfect. But they're yours."
When she looked back at him with tears shining in her eyes. She put a hand on his cheek before leaning forward to kiss him softly.
Jackie Tyler woke with a start. She looked around the dark room, at her husband sleeping next to her. What in the hell?
"Rose?" Jackie looked around bewildered for another moment before shaking her husband awake. "Pete, Pete wake up! It's Rose!"
She told him about the dream, and about hearing her again after being awake. He listened quietly, then called Mickey. They sat in front of the fire and she told her story again. They knew the Doctor. They believed her. They piled in Pete's old jeep and took off. They drove for miles and miles, following Rose's voice.
They finally stopped at a deserted beach at the back of beyond. Pete and Mickey stayed with the jeep as Jackie walked away, searching for any sign of her daughter.
"Mum," she heard finally, and turned to see her daughter standing there, slightly transparent.
"Where are you," Jackie asked, moving toward her.
"Inside the TARDIS," Rose replied. "There's this tiny gap left, but it's just about to close. It takes a lot of power to even do this. We're orbiting around a supernova." She glanced away and laughed softly. "The Doctor is burning up a sun just so I can say goodbye."
"You look like a ghost," Jackie said, shaking her head.
"Hold on," she heard the Doctor's voice call. He came up behind Rose and pointed his sonic thingy at something, and suddenly they looked solid. Jackie stepped closer and moved to touch her daughter's cheek.
"Still just an image," the Doctor said, sounding regretful. "No touch."
"Can't you come through properly?"
They both shook their heads at her. "The whole thing would fracture," the Doctor said.
"Both universes would collapse," Rose added.
"So?" Jackie laughed a little as her daughter smiled, but she was only half joking.
"Where are we?" the Doctor asked suddenly, looking around. "Where did the gap come out?"
"Bloody Norway," Jackie said with a little irritated noise. "A place called Darlig Ulv Stranden."
"Dalek?" The Doctor's voice was sharp.
"DAR-lig," Jackie said, shaking her head. "Norwegian for 'bad.' Yeah, this place, it translates as 'Bad Wolf Bay'. Cheery, eh?"
The Doctor started at the name, and looked at Rose with a stunned expression. The serene smile her daughter wore confused Jackie, but then, Rose had been confusing her for a long time.
"How long have we got?" she asked.
Rose glanced at the Doctor. "About two minutes," he said softly.
"I can't think what to say!"
Rose glanced at the jeep. "Still got Mickey hanging around then? And…Dad?"
"Five of us now," Jackie said. "Mickey and his gran moved into the mansion. Can you believe it, me in a mansion?" The Doctor gave a little snort, and Rose shushed him. "Well, there's them, and the baby…"
Jackie grinned broadly and touched her stomach. "Three months gone. Pete's proud as punch. Not that it could replace you," she added, a touch sadly.
The Doctor and Rose smiled at her. "I'm so happy for you," Rose said, ignoring the tears that sprang to her eyes.
The Doctor cleared his throat. "You're dead, officially, back home. So many people died that day, and you'd both gone missing. You're on the list of the dead."
"Easier that way, Mum," the girl assured her softly. "I've got nothing I want to go back to there…not anymore."
"Am I ever gonna see you again?" She started crying as Rose bit her lip and shook her head sadly.
"You can't," the Doctor said softly.
"I love you, sweetheart," Jackie said, watching the tears fall from her daughter's eyes and aching to hold her. "Don't you ever forget that. And forget what I said before. This is your life, the one that makes you happy." Rose nodded. "As for you," Jackie went on, watching the Doctor. "Don't you forget that she chose you. You keep her safe, and you keep her happy, or I promise you, I'll find a way back just to slap you."
The Doctor looked genuinely terrified for a moment, then nudged Rose.
"I love you, Mum. I'm so sorry," Rose said, but Jackie gave a little shake of her head. "Give Pete and Mickey hugs, tell that baby of yours that I love him, and…and be happy, Mum."
With that, both of them disappeared. Jackie sank to her knees, sobbing. Pete ran to her, holding her close as she wept.
As soon as her mother disappeared, Rose turned and leaned into the Doctor's chest as he put his arms around her and the tears started falling more freely.
"All these universes…not one gets it just right," the Doctor said softly against her hair. "I'm sorry, love. I'm so sorry."
It was another minute or two before she could respond.
"It's not your fault," she said when she was finally able to look up at him. "This is better for her. Better than waiting around for me, getting older while I stay the same, in and out of her life. She has Pete, and the baby. I have you. It's okay. It's gonna be…fantastic."
He searched her eyes for a moment before his lips twitched and he leaned down and kissed her softly. She reached up and wrapped her arms around his neck, both simply needing to hold the other close for a moment.
"Thank you, Doctor," she said quietly after a moment.
He pulled away fractionally, touching her cheek as he opened his mouth to say something, but something seemed to catch his eye over her shoulder.
"What?" he asked, sounding stunned.
Rose turned just as the redheaded woman near the doors did. Her eyes widened as the woman yelped in surprise.
"What?" the Doctor asked again behind her.
"Who are you?" the woman asked disdainfully.
"But—" Rose started, looking around. Where the hell had she come from?
"Where am I?"
"What the hell is this place?" the woman shouted, interrupting her again.
"WHAT?" shouted the Doctor.
She danced in her orbit around the dying star. The beginnings of a new adventure, one that would no doubt be fraught with peril and danger. But the Thief wouldn't have to do it alone this time, not ever again. Her Wolf and Her Thief, the stuff of legend, could skip through the stars together forever, creating new hope and beauty through time and space.
The Doctor and Rose Tyler, in the TARDIS…just as it should be.