Chapter Nineteen: A Final Jump
Once they landed in Torchwood's hangar, they were met with applause and cheers. It wasn't until Jackie got to Rose that she could instantly tell something was wrong. She looked in her daughter's eyes and examined the number of people on the flight. Knowing the Master was missing and how close they once were, Jackie held onto Rose with all her might.
"I'm sorry, Rose. I'm so sorry."
The family retreated to their estate and sat around the dining table. Nobody felt like talking. They all had their tea and sipped as gently as possible. Even the smallest member of the family, little Tony, seemed to feel the somberness.
"He did more than I ever expected in the end," Mickey offered as he lifted his cup. "Here's to Harold Saxon, or whatever his name was."
Everyone halfheartedly joined his toast. Pete awkwardly cleared his throat afterwards, trying to move the subject on. "So, what happens now?"
"We've got the TARDIS parked on Bad Wolf Bay. We plan to go back," the Doctor began with a grin in Rose's direction. "All three of us."
Rose set her cup down and stood up quietly. "Excuse me for a second."
In confusion, everyone watched as she left the room. The Doctor glanced at Donna and leaned in to whisper, "I really missed a lot when I was out, didn't I?"
"Just a bit, yeah. She's taking the Master's death really hard. You might want to go find her and talk to her. See what's on her mind."
Jackie stuck her head into the huddle. "Her room is just about the corner. That way."
The Doctor took the cue and got up. He went in the direction of Rose's room. However, when he got there, she wasn't there. He stood awkwardly in the hallway for a moment. Everything had seemed so wonderful when they talked. She was in love with him, he was in love with her…where was the problem? She seemed awfully excited to return to the TARDIS. Things couldn't change so quickly. There was no way. Then, he heard a quiet sniffling sound.
Following it just a ways away, he saw a door cracked open. He peered inside and saw Rose on the bed in the room. She was going through a drawer in the bedside table, crying. He knocked gently and moved into the doorway. "Mind if I come in?"
He sat down on the bed near her, but he wasn't directly beside her. His eyes scanned the room, yet there wasn't much in it. It wasn't until he spotted the suit in the corner that he knew. They were in the Master's room. She was going through his things. Her rose shaped pin was in one hand while she explored a few other things. They didn't speak until Rose lifted a cigar box from the drawer.
"My dad gave him this a few months ago. Used to have cigars in it, of course. They'd smoke after work sometimes. He worked at Torchwood with us. Dad loved him because he was so good at his job. They'd laugh about stupid things Mickey did at work. Once, he got caught in a bunch of cables. Took us almost an hour to get him out. He never lived that one down. Koschei kept his things in here. He didn't have much. Just what he came here with and a few other things. I haven't looked, honestly."
She started to pick through, but the Doctor was too busy looking right at her face. "He mattered to you, didn't he?"
Without speaking, she broke down into tears as she held up a handful of items. He took them from her with a perplexed expression. She pulled herself together to explain, "He kept the slip from the cinema. The movie we saw on our first real date. Next to that is a bottle cap from some liquor we drank at a park. The last thing is a Teletubbies cake topper. We had it for Tony on his birthday a few months ago. He said he'd thrown it out. They used to watch the show together all the time. I didn't know he'd kept all this."
The Doctor gently gave the items back to her. "That isn't like him."
"You don't know who he became. He was with me for six months. We both changed so much. I'm not the same girl. He wasn't the same man. He was my best mate. The only person that knew everything that I knew. He could keep up with me in a conversation. Make me laugh. I was starting to fall in love with him. I decided to move on from you. Get a new start. Then you came back. I was so happy to see you. You're all I ever wanted, Doctor. It was like my past, the wonderful life I'd lost, came back. I was so thrilled at the chance to get that back that I ignored what I'd made. We were starting to move forward together. I want our old life back. I want to forget that any of this happened. He'd gotten into my heart, but only just. It's always been you…but I didn't know how much I cared about him until now. Until I've lost him."
"I've lost him too. He was my mate a long time ago. I'd forgiven him. I wanted him to stay with me on the TARDIS. But he ran here. He hated me and I don't know why. All I wanted was for him to see that he had the potential to be a force for good. You taught him that. I'm so glad that you did."
"Yes. And…there are worse people to fancy. I can't know what happened in the six months he was here. I can't know how close you became. I understand that. I respect it. If you need time or…you don't want to leave because you're not ready…I can handle that."
She met his gaze with a gentle smile. "I love you, Doctor. That hasn't changed. It never will. But, it's not going to be the same, is it? Us traveling together, I mean. We aren't the same. Donna's along. I like her, but it's not going to be as it was. We'll have to take things slow. See what can happen. Accept the changes. Is that all right with you?"
"Changed or not, you're still Rose Tyler and I'm still the Doctor. I don't think so much is really different. I still bring bananas to parties. I wear the same suit. Same trainers. Same hair."
"Still running all over the universe?" she asked with a wider grin.
"Oh yes. All over. I'd like you to run with me. If you'd like. We don't have to pick up where we left off. We can start all over again. I'd like that. Very much."
"I'd like that too. Would you like to sit around and swap stories about Koschei? Maybe remember him a bit before we start anything new?"
He nodded with a stiff smile. "We can. We will. For as long as you need. And as I need. I lost a friend too."
"I know. But I meant what I said. You're not alone, Doctor. You've got Donna. And me."
They looked at one another and decided that the Doctor would tell the first story. Into the early morning hours, they spoke of the Master and all the things they would miss. Once the sun came up, they went their separate ways to get some sleep. Donna was glad to hear that Rose would be joining them on their trip back to their Earth.
Later that day, they all packed their things and allowed Pete and Jackie to drive them to Norway. They had a fun, lighthearted car drive. It was not so lighthearted when it was time to go.
"Take care of yourself, Rose," Pete sniffed and he hugged her tightly. "You're an amazing, young woman. I'll be thinking of you."
"Bye, Dad. I'll always think of you."
Jackie held her close without a word for the longest time. Finally, Jackie looked her in the eye with a stern expression. "Rose Tyler, you better live a long and happy life. Never forget who you are or where you come from. I will always be wishing you the best. And, if you can ever travel safely over here, you better pop in for tea. I mean it."
"I will. Tell Tony his sister loves him and to watch out for shifty teenage girls. I don't want him getting his heart broken when he gets older."
They chuckled and embraced one more time. After that, they waved goodbye and Rose stepped into the TARDIS for the first time in ages. She ran a hand across the console with a wide smile. She was home. It pained her to think that the Master was gone. He spoke fondly of the TARDIS, and they often talked into the night about where they wanted to take it. Donna could see that Rose was starting to get upset, so she went to her with a soft embrace.
"Welcome aboard, Rose Tyler. The entire universe is your playground."
She chuckled happily. "It's been too long since I got to go for a ride."
"Wait until you feel this, Rose. It's the best thing we've built yet!" the Doctor laughed as he started up the TARDIS.
The whole TARDIS shifted, sending Rose into the railing. She couldn't help thinking that she'd lost her space-legs, but nevertheless it was a great ride. With some difficultly, she managed to level herself out. "Where are we going, Doctor?"
"We are stopping by Torchwood first. Jack will want to say hello."
"Jack? Captain Jack Harkness? He lived?" she repeated in amazement. "I thought he was dead."
"No, he very much alive. Alive for good, actually. Thanks to the Bad Wolf."
She frowned at the name, hearing it in the Master's voice. "I brought him back?"
The rest of the ride was about the Doctor and Donna catching Rose up on what had happened while she was gone. They landed in Cardiff near the entrance to Torchwood. Donna went out first, almost in a run, as she adjusted her hair for Jack. The Doctor rolled his eyes and followed her, yelling about how she needed to slow down. Rose glanced at her single bag, and she decided that she wanted to keep some of the Master close to her.
"Always with me, Koschei," she muttered as she opened the cigar box, thrusting a handful of trinkets into her pocket. "Thank you for everything."
The Doctor popped his head in with curiosity. "Rose? Are you coming?"
"Yeah. I had to get something," she smiled as she followed him out.
He walked beside her with a smile. Even though they were not together yet, he had confidence that one day they would be. What mattered is that she was back in his life for good. She had a similar feeling, though it felt strange to be on a different Earth without her best friend. Her hands went into her pockets, but before they got to Torchwood an item fell to the ground. No one noticed.
Rose happily greeted Jack as they entered Torchwood. "It's so good to see you!"
"You too! So, did the Doctor finally tell you that he loves you?"
"What if I hadn't?" the Doctor grumbled at his friend.
"Oh so you two?" Jack grinned.
Donna tried to make signs for him to stop, but Rose had to spell it out for him. "No, we're not. We're taking our time. I need to sort things out."
Awkwardly, Jack changed the subject to an idea he had for a TARDIS adventure. They got onto a lighthearted topic and started to laugh in no time. Donna was too busy hitting on Jack to pay attention to anything that was said. Meanwhile, Rose and the Doctor occasionally stole glances at one another, but starting over felt perfectly natural. She needed time, and he was happy to give it to her.
Outside of Torchwood, the item from Rose's pocket sat in plain sight. A pair of slender fingers picked it up and placed it in their bag for safe keeping. The day continued on as the perfect day for new beginnings. However, none of the travelers could have known what was lost…and found.
It was a ring.