They were all gathered in the Gallery, all sipping tea in flowery teacups in front of the bigger-on-the-inside painting, depicting the fiery fall of Gallifrey's second city, Arcadia. Parked against the wall adjacent to them were three blue police boxes, all in varying states of shabbiness.
"I don't suppose we'll know if we actually succeeded. But at worst, we failed doing the right thing, as opposed to succeeding in doing the wrong."
Clara turned to the haggard-looking old Doctor, who was sitting next to her, frowning and nursing his cup of tea, and raised her eyebrows at him. "Life and soul, you are."
The other two Doctors also had a cuppa each in their hands, both sporting their brainy specs. The brown-suited Doctor frowned at the three-dimensional painting the group stood before. Stepping forward, he asked with curiosity, "What is it actually called?"
His floppy-haired incarnation stepped closer as well, saying softly, "Well, there's some debate. Either No More or Gallifrey Falls."
"Not very encouraging," said the War Doctor gruffly.
"How did it get here?" asked the pinstriped Doctor, ignoring him.
"No idea…" murmured the tweed Doctor with wonder, taking off his specs as he regarded the painting curiously.
Upon sniffing, the pinstriped Doctor shrugged and said, "There's always something we don't know, isn't there?" He sipped his tea matter-of-factly.
"One should certainly hope so," the War Doctor chuckled, setting down his teacup, standing up and stepping towards the two men who would be his future. "Well, gentlemen, it has been an honour… and a privilege."
The pinstriped Doctor nodded and said, "Likewise," just as the other bowed slightly and replied with a grin, "Doctor."
The War Doctor regarded them with a bitter smile and nodded as well, before turning to Clara and adding, "And if I grow to be half the man that you are, Clara Oswald, I shall be happy indeed."
Clara, who'd just sipped her tea, set down her cup as well and rose from her seat, smiling, "That's right; aim high."
The two shared a laugh before Clara kissed his cheek, the gesture returned. The War Doctor froze, his smile fading into a frown, before he turned back to the other Doctors. "I won't remember this, will I?"
The floppy-haired Doctor grimaced. "The time streams are out of sync. You can't retain it, no."
"So I won't remember that I tried to save Gallifrey rather than burn it." The War Doctor paused. "I'll have to live with that. But for now, for this moment, I am the Doctor again. Thank you." He smiled a little at the other Doctors, who both grinned back. The War Doctor turned away and regarded the three TARDISes. "Which one is mine?"
The other Doctors paused, one opening his mouth and closing it and the other looking uncertainly between the TARDISes.
The War Doctor grinned and chuckled, approaching the shabbiest-looking TARDIS and stepping into it. He closed the doors behind him and headed straight for the console, flicking switches until the familiar grinding sound that brought hope to all who heard it began to echo. Sighing, the old Doctor turned around and started at the sight of the blonde woman sitting on the jump seat, her hands folded in her lap and a gentle smile on her mouth.
"What are you still doing here, Bad Wolf girl?" the War Doctor asked confusedly, waving his hand at her. "You're not needed anymore."
"Oh, but I am," she said softly, her smile never leaving. "And I always will be needed by you, Doctor."
The wrinkled old War Doctor regarded her through narrowed eyes, dark and full of suspicion. "You are the Moment, correct?"
"Yep," she said, popping the 'p'.
"You may personify any person in the world, any one person that has encountered or ever will encounter me?"
"Then answer me this." The War Doctor circled around the console and sat down gingerly next to her on the jump seat, still watching her through squinted eyes. "Why her? Of all the people to ever take form of, why this human child from my future?"
The girl closed her eyes and sighed, her smile widening into something almost affectionate. When she opened them again, they were twinkling with delight. "Because Rose Tyler will be your salvation, Doctor."
He frowned at her. "A human child? In what way?" He froze. "Never mind, mustn't compromise the timelines."
"Oh, silly Doctor," she giggled. "You won't remember anything about this! I can tell you anything."
The War Doctor thought for a moment, before sighing and nodding. "Indeed. So tell me, then… Rose Tyler… who is she to me?"
"She is your everything," Rose said simply, now positively beaming.
"My everything?" he echoed, his wrinkled forehead wrinkling even more with a frown. "What do you mean? Elaborate."
Rose sighed again. "Well… after this, you will spend the first year wallowing in your own regret of having destroyed Gallifrey." She paused, her smile fading. "It will nearly kill you." They shared a moment of heavy silence before she continued. "You won't take on another companion for all that time, until you meet her. See, Doctor, one day you'll investigate the Nestene Consciousness coming to London."
"The most jeopardy-friendly town on the most jeopardy-friendly planet," the War Doctor chuckled.
Rose beamed. "Exactly! You'll be in the basement of a Henrik's department store. You'll see a shop girl being chased by a group of Autons." She paused, ducking her head like a shy schoolgirl. "You'll take her hand, and tell her to run. And from then on she'll be your everything."
The War Doctor smirked at that. "I doubt such a lovely young girl would come with a broken down old Time Lord."
Rose sent him a tongue-in-teeth grin that he found unbelievably charming. "Oh, she will. And you'll be her everything too."
The 'old Time Lord' stared at her, his mouth agape, dark brown eyes wide. "Are you saying… are you implying that—?"
"That she'll fall in love with you, and you with her?" Rose interrupted, eyes sparkling. "Oh yes." Once again, a heavy silence fell over them as the shocked Doctor contemplated her words. "You'll try hard to push her away, at first, to get her to forget ever meeting you. She'll end up saving your life, and you'll invite her to travel with you."
The War Doctor's cheeks were tinged pink a little, but still he smiled softly. "Indeed. Seems to be a habit of mine."
"She'll say no at first," Rose said happily, watching and laughing as the War Doctor did a comical double take. "Yep. You offer to show her the universe, free of charge, and she flat out turns you down! You! Ha!" The War Doctor looked disgruntled as Rose giggled hysterically, wiping at her eyes and sighing when she was done. Her smile dropped off again. "It'll hurt. Like hell. Her rejecting you, I mean. And you won't understand why. But," she added, brightening yet again, "you won't give up. You'll go back and ask her again, and this time she'll drop everything and run straight to you. And you'll be running together forever."
The War Doctor snorted. "Forever, eh?"
"Yep," Rose said again, now fiddling with her stud earring. "Well, forever within your lifetime."
"You're expecting me to sit her and believe that I'll fall in love with a human shop girl and she'll be with me for the rest of my life?" the War Doctor snorted. "Fat chance! Humans wither and decay within less than a century. Me, I'll be here for centuries to come."
"You're forgetting who's all knowing here." Rose winked, before sighing once more and placing her hand on his. "You will fall in love with this girl Doctor. She'll be the universe and beyond to you. You won't just let her die; you will find a way to tie her lifespan to yours."
His whiskery mouth dropped open yet again. "And she wanted this?"
Rose frowned at him. "More than anything."
His hearts fluttered with flattery and a little bit of disbelief that he would want to spend the rest of his life with a stupid ape— well, that, and the scepticism that an ape as pretty as Rose Tyler apparently was would ever want to commit herself for hundreds of years to someone as old as he. He glanced up at Rose again, drinking in her features, analysing her charming mannerisms, and trying to imagine being in her company for the rest of his life. An almost defeated smile crept onto his face; he so enjoyed her company right now, as an old man. Since he was going to soon regenerate into the ever bouncing, childish 'allons-y' and 'geronimo', he could picture himself having a lot of fun with Rose Tyler… or possibly falling in love with her.
"Very well then," the War Doctor sighed, gripping her hand back. "Tell me more of just how I 'fall in love' with Rose Tyler."
Rose beamed at him, tongue in teeth again. "Well… from the first moment she comes onto the TARDIS, you test her. The first place you take her is the year five billion. The end of the Earth."
At this, he frowned. "Now why the sodden hell would I take her there?"
"You want to see how she'll react, watching her planet burn," Rose said quietly.
"I'm going to turn into a bloody barbarian?" the War Doctor fumed, slamming his free fist on his knee. "How revolting! Why in the world would I do such a thing?"
"You want her to know what it feels like."
"I don't even know what it feels like!"
"You'll think you know."
"It's still revolting."
Rose smiled, despite the War Doctor's obvious anger. "Rose Tyler is strong. You take her to watch the end of the world to prove that. She'll shock you yet, Doctor."
"I don't doubt it," the War Doctor said grumpily, and Rose laughed again, leaning her head on his raggedy old shoulder. His features softened immediately when the girl snuggled up to him. "Tell me when."
"Hm? When what?"
"When exactly do I fall in love with her?"
Rose's free hand flew up to fiddle with her earring again. "I dunno exactly when you fall in love with her. I know exactly when you realise it, though."
"Oh? And when's that?"
"When you first lose her."
He started, whiskered, grey head whipping around violently to stare down at Rose. "First?"
Rose shrugged. "Yep. When you meet one of the last Daleks."
"DALEKS?" He was positively in shock now.
"Mm hm," Rose said lightly. "In a millionaire's bunker. Van Statten, his name is, an' he collects alien paraphernalia. He found a battered up old Dalek and experimented on it. You and Rose'll end up in the bunker, you'll get tortured and the Dalek will get loose. She'll be running from it inside the vaults, and you'll have no choice but to seal them shut. She'll be trapped inside with the Dalek."
"I thought you said Rose Tyler and I be together for centuries?" the War Doctor said sarcastically.
"Oh, you will," Rose nodded. "The Dalek doesn't kill her. It uses her as a bargaining chip."
The War Doctor snorted. "Doesn't sound like any Dalek I've encountered."
"It was because of the human DNA it absorbs from Rose," she said. "Can't kill her. But it uses her to get you to open the vault." She cocked her head to the side, regarding him for a moment. "It'll say 'what use are emotions if you will not save the woman you love?' And you'll open the vault. Even though it possibly means letting countless others die, you'll decide to save Rose Tyler. That's when you know."
He frowned at his knees, mulling all this over in his head. The idea of letting loose a Dalek on the world to save a girl seemed preposterous, but since the Moment was here, telling him this, it was clearly going to happen. He was going to become a bleeding heart.
"Any other questions?" Rose smiled, resting her head back on his shoulder and squeezing his hand once.
"When… when does she fall in love with me?" he whispered, almost embarrassed to ask.
"I only have your memories of her," Rose told him. "I dunno anything beyond what she'll tell you."
He grimaced in disappointment, despite knowing he won't remember anything she's told him. "Very well then. When do I tell her?"
"Oh, not for ages!" she laughed, swatting him on the arm. "You're a Master of mixed signals, you, and a right old flirt. Always grabbing her hand, sweeping her up into hugs, cuddling with her, but never kissing her. Keep telling yourself you're not good enough for her, and that you'll lose her in the end, so you don't let her in."
The War Doctor inclined his head to the left, thinking that he could definitely see himself doing something so daft. "And what about her? When does she tell me?"
Yet again her smile faded. "You'll lose her a second time, when she gets trapped in a parallel universe. You'll burn up a sun to send a projection of yourself and say goodbye, imagine that! Right romantic, you are!" She nudged him playfully and they chuckled, the War Doctor rather embarrassedly. "She'll tell you on a beach in Norway. Darlig Ulv Stranden. And you, you bloody idiot, blurt out in response 'quite right, too'." She snorted. "You were in the middle of a sentence. The connection breaks off before you're able to tell her. You'll regret that for centuries. It'll almost destroy you."
More silence, in which the War Doctor got a bizarre mental image of the floppy-haired Doctor rocking on the floors of the current TARDIS console room floor, sobbing his hearts out into the grating and screaming out her name.
"Oh no, when Darlig Ulv Stranden happens, you'll be the pinstriped Doctor," Rose said cheerfully.
"Can you see my thoughts?" he asked indignantly.
"'Course I can; I'm in your head!"
He realised something. "Rose stays even after a regeneration?"
"Oh, she stays for your next regenerations onward, Doctor," Rose said airily. "Pinstripes and sand shoes is her second incarnation. She meets Bowtie a couple hundred years into that regeneration, and then you live happily ever after for the rest of your regenerations. Isn't that lovely?"
"I'm confused," he scowled.
"I can tell," she giggled, patting his hand. "Anyway, that's the story of Rose Tyler and how she becomes your everything! Pretty cool, innit?"
"Hold on, I've more questions!" the War Doctor exclaimed. "How does she get back from the parallel universe? When do we reunite? How does she return to me after centuries if she's human?"
"Well I can't spoil everything, can I?" Rose laughed. "You're gonna live it! And it'll be wonderful."
Rose lifted her head from his shoulder and hoisted herself up off the jump seat, bouncing around the time rotor. He stood quickly, watching her with wide eyes as she began to glow a faint, shimmering gold. "Wait! How exactly is Rose my salvation?"
Rose grinned at him, that darned tongue between her teeth again. "She'll find you, Doctor, when you've lost everything. She'll come back to you despite you sending her away. And she'll lead you home. To Gallifrey." She positively beamed. "Goodbye for now, Doctor. I love you."
Closing her eyes, the blonde shimmered away until she was nothing but an outline in glittering golden dust floating suspended above the time rotor, before the cloud whisked through the TARDIS's walls as though a breeze had blown it away. The War Doctor stared in contemplation at the spot where Rose had vanished. He thought hard of the other Doctors, back in the Gallery, of the pinstriped Doctor who didn't know he'd ever be reunited with Rose, and the bowtie Doctor who would soon lose everything only to have her returned to him, a glimmer of light in suffocating darkness once again. He thought of her, mostly, of the possible ways he could fall in love with her, trying to imagine scenarios in which she would capture his hearts.
Knowing this would soon fade from his memory he sighed heavily, stepping towards the monitor and reaching forward to punch in coordinates with both hands, hands that Rose Tyler would soon hold. He started a little at the sight of them glowing faintly gold, before he realised and exhaled with awe.
"Oh yes, of course…" he breathed, holding his hands out in front of him. "I suppose it makes sense. Wearing a bit thin. I hope the ears are a bit less conspicuous this time."
With a growing grin he let himself be engulfed in the golden flame.
A/N: This is just something I thought of during the Day of the Doctor, when that scene with John Hurt walking into his TARDIS only to have it go straight to him regenerating looked a little too abrupt. So I pretended there was a missing scene ;) Very short, possible filler for an Eleven/Rose reunion!fic.
EDIT: There will NOT, as I have previously theorised, be an Eleven/Rose reunion!fic for the end of this series. Instead the next two stories will be introspective fics from Nine and Ten's POV of travelling with Rose, losing Rose and the 50th anniversary.