Author's note: This is it! Thank you for reading and reviewing. I hope you enjoyed it.
"Isn't your daughter with you?" John asks Alec once they've sat down in a booth with a couple of pints.
"She's at a concert with her cousin. Some boy band..." Alec replies with a grimace.
He removes his jacket and takes a few sips before inquiring about John's new job. They'd gotten to know each other quite well in the months after Rose had left, keeping in touch even after John had moved to London. As antagonistic as they had been at first, they were now proper mates.
"It's brilliant, I love it. I'm going to Patagonia next month," he says, eyes bright, not as sunken as they used to be.
"An archeological dig in the Andes, we think a spaceship may have crashed there 5000 years ago. Fascinating stuff."
"Good. To tell you the truth, I didn't think you'd like it. It's a bit like the army, no?"
"Not all of it, you saw the U.N.I.T. soldiers which is quite like the army but there's a whole scientific division that's a lot less about ranks and guns... My wife's coming with me, to Patagonia," John adds with a barely suppressed smile.
"She's your wife again, eh?"
"Well, we're trying, we'll see."
"So, that temp you were seeing..."
"Donna? Nah, one date and we knew we were better off as friends. She might come by later, I'll introduce you if you want, she's the funniest woman I've ever met."
Alec shrugs and both men direct their attention to the rugby match playing on the overhead TV. The increasingly loud cheering of the pub customers makes any further conversation almost impossible.
"So what really brings you to London," John asks during a commercial break.
"S'like I told you, father-daughter weekend." Alec replies.
He averts John's inquisitive glare by rolling up the sleeves of his green oxford.
"Ok, I just thought maybe you'd found her."
Alec looks down at his now empty pint, he makes the glass swivel between his hands, his ever tousled hair partially hiding his eyes. Who is he ever going to talk to about that if not to Smith?
"I may have found her..." John perks up instantly, leaning forward, "I traced the mother of the Tyler woman who was killed in the estate fire and when I called, her grand-daughter picked up. Iris Tyler, she's called."
It had taken him a many weeks to begin his search for Rose in this dimension. At first, he refused to even contemplate the possibility, he just wanted to put it all behind him but it was always there, at the back of his mind, a nagging "what if?". Except it started as "What if she's a terrible person?", "What if she's married?" but eventually it became "What if it works out?", "What if we could be happy?".
He hadn't recognized her right away on the phone, her manner of speech being different. A result of been raised in Hillingdon by her grand-parents rather than on a council estate in Peckham, as he'd found out later. He had looked her up immediately after hanging up and he'd managed to find a picture. She looked about the same age as Rose, same plump lips and doe eyes, but her hair was brown and her face rounder.
"She works for some institute in Canary Wharf," Alec adds, he hadn't been able to find any information on that organization.
"What, Torchwood? Can't stay out of trouble, that one," John says, laughing.
"How d'you mean?"
"They're in the same field of research as U.N.I.T. except they're all about the British Empire," he says, pronouncing the last words with a mock posh accent. "You won't believe this: You know how Queen Victoria was assassinated, right? Well, it's not what they taught us in school..."
He tells Hardy about the Lupine Wavelength Haemovariform and Sir Robert MacLeish inviting experts at his manor in Scotland to continue his father's work. John had learned all that after working with one of Torchwood's R&D employee last week. Unsurprisingly, Alec looks skeptical but then he starts thinking and a hint of a smile appears on his lips.
"Would she know about parallel worlds, then?"
"Maybe, depends on her job I guess."
It had taken Alec a while to work up the courage to come to London after finding Iris. One of the things stopping him was that he didn't want to introduce himself under a false pretense, he didn't want to lie or deceive her. As noble as it may seem, it was also a self handicapping strategy to protect himself. But this new information changes everything. The odds that this mad quest will not end up in a complete disaster are looking better and better.
"You know, I asked Mace and Magambo, and they say Rose succeeded, she saved us," in more ways than one, John adds mentally.
Alec smiles, he'd figured as much, given that they were still alive, but it was nice to have a sort of confirmation from someone on the inside.
"I'm glad... I hope she found what she was looking for."
The smell of the Tardis clings to his blue suit, something organic with a hint of rust, that makes her rig cage feel too small for her expanding heart. His lips are exactly the same but the kiss his different. A kiss like no other, a promise of forever, his arms encircling her tightly, his fingers almost reaching her ribs, his single heart beating against her chest. He's not holding back, the way he didn't hold back when he said "I love you". And she grasps him, clutches at him like she's afraid he might not be real. But he is and he's free and so is she. She forgets all about the wind and the cold and her mother watching, she kisses him desperately, deeply, lovingly.
She can love him, in a way she already does. She knows that a part human version of him is not a consolation price and that he's not a lesser being than the Time Lord. She'll love every gravity-defying gray hair on his head and every wrinkle on his boyish face.
A life on Earth, together, her head swims with all the possibilities. Possibilities she hadn't dared think about before except during her short time with Alec. A hand to hold through the ups and downs of daily life. And he holds hers while the Tardis dematerializes. And she knows he's going to stay by her side no matter what.
That night, they find a secluded spot on the bank of the Sognfjord. They sit down on the gravel, cuddling under a thick wool blanket. In front of them, a majestic landscape of mountains so high, clouds hide their peaks and a sky studded with stars once again. The green and purple glow of the Northern lights dances above their heads and illuminates their smiling faces.
"900 years and I've never seen an aurora borealis," he says, "I still have so much to discover."
"A new new life."
And they kiss again, frozen nose tips pressing against each other and cold fingers slipping under jackets and they never want to stop.
After what she went through, she feels like she understands him a little bit better and now that he's part human, well, they're not just the stuff of legends, they're the stuff of fairytales too.
Getting separated is a fixed point in time. The Doctor sees it and Rose as the Bad Wolf saw it. The metacrisis Doctor is a fixed point in time. The Doctor knows it and the Bad Wolf knew it. How Rose would react was impossible to predict but some things could be done to make it easier. The Doctor does it and the Bad Wolf did it.