Hours later, Rose and Martha were back in the TARDIS, having both cleaned themselves up. Martha was sitting on Rose’s bed and Rose was in her bathroom while the Doctor performed a traditional Gallifreyan funeral for the Master.
“Wolf, are you sure about this? Are you sure you’re gonna leave?” Martha asked.
“It’s all over Martha,” Rose replied. “You can go back to using my name.”
“Sorry,” Martha laughed. “I’ve spent so long calling you Wolf, it’s gonna be hard to switch back.”
“Will this help?” Rose asked, coming out of the bathroom, her hair now blonde again. A slightly more honey shade than before but still blonde.
A wolf-whistle from the door made Martha and Rose turn to see Jack standing there. “Looking good Rosie,” Jack said.
“Thanks,” Rose replied. “Now come on in and shut the door.”
“Oh, are we having a secret meeting in here?” Jack asked, plopping down next to Martha on the bed.
“I’m trying to convince Rose to either stay with the Doctor or come live with me,” Martha replied.
“And I’ve told you a million times why I can’t do either of those things,” Rose sighed.
“So, what are you going to do?” Jack asked.
“Well,” Rose shrugged. “I was going to ask if I could go with you?”
“Go with me?” Jack asked.
“Yeah, and work at Torchwood in Cardiff,” Rose said. “I was going to go live with Sarah Jane in London, but it’d be much easier to get away with the whole faking my death thing if I was living in Cardiff, and I think I know a bit about aliens. Maybe I could be useful?”
“Rose, of course you can come stay with me, but I think you need to seriously consider staying with the Doctor,” Jack replied.
“Why? Because he needs someone?” Rose asked angrily. “He’ll find someone else. He always does. And it’s not fair to me to stay. I’m good enough, on my own. I learned that this year. But if I’m here, always fighting for his attention with the newest companion? I’ll go mad. I can’t do that forever, and my forever’s going to be pretty long.”
“How long?” Jack asked. “Cause earlier you said…”
“That reminds me!” Martha interrupted. “What’s your number?”
“114,” Rose replied.
Martha sighed, “I guess it could be worse…”
“What’s that mean? Your number?” Jack asked.
“It’s the number of times I’ve died,” Rose replied.
“114? You’ve died that many times?” Jack exclaimed. “But, how?”
Rose shrugged. “Martha and I didn’t trick the Toclafane. I really did die. Then I woke up a few hours later. It kept happening. I realized I’m like you. I can’t die.”
“Oh, Rose,” Jack sighed.
“You are literally the last person that can feel sorry for me,” Rose said, shaking her head. “I did the same thing to you. At least I did this to myself.”
“Still,” Jack sighed.
“Just, can I come with you?” Rose asked.
“Of course,” Jack said, giving her a hug. “But I still think you need to think about staying with the Doctor. You didn’t see the look on his face when he thought you were dead.”
“Guilt,” she replied.
“C’mon, Rose. Is there anything he could stay that would convince you to stay?” Martha asked.
“Oh, I don’t know,” Rose sighed. “He’d have to have a pretty good explanation for why he’s been acting the way he has been. He’d have to say that he loved me. And he’d have to say that he’d be willing to try to make it work, even with a human lifespan.”
“But you probably don’t have a human lifespan,” Martha argued.
“Yeah, but he doesn’t know that. And if he was willing to try to make that work, I’d know that he meant it, you know?” Rose replied. “But you both have to promise that you won’t say anything to him. He’s got to do it on his own.”
“Fine,” they replied, glancing at each other. “We promise.”
“Thank you,” Rose smiled.
“But you both have to promise me something,” Martha said, turning to face Rose and Jack. “I have a feeling you’re both a little jeopardy friendly, and don’t take your own safety into account. I know Rose is, and I have a feeling you are too Jack. So, I need you two to hold each other accountable. Just promise me that if you die, you’ll tell the other about it as soon as you can.”
“Why tell each other, not you?” Rose asked.
“Because I’m getting ready to finish exams. I don’t need that kind of anxiety in my life. And besides, I’ll only be around for like, 80 more years. You two have forever,” Martha replied.
“But what will telling each other do?” Jack asked.
Martha rolled her eyes. “You both want to take care of the other. I have a feeling that extends to keeping the other alive. You’re not going to want to tell the other. It might make you think twice about doing something stupid.”
“Alright, we promise,” Rose sighed.
“Good. And you’re also coming to Christmas with my family,” Martha said. When Rose went to protest, Martha stopped her. “After this year, you’re like a sister to me. That means you’re family. And family comes to Christmas.”
Rose smiled, “Alright then. If you’re sure your mum won’t mind.”
“She won’t,” Martha insisted.
“And I’ll be at your graduation when you finally become a doctor for real,” Rose smiled.
“You better,” Martha grinned.
The three of them sat and laughed until Rose sat up straight. The TARDIS was telling her it was time to go. “The Doctor is flying to your house Martha.”
“Time to go home then,” Martha sighed, picking up her bag. Rose did the same with her own, and they all made their way to the console room. Jack and Martha hung back for a second and whispered something, but when Rose turned around to see what was up, they both did their best to look completely innocent. Rose shook her head and continued on to the console room.
“Oh, there you all are. I was just getting ready to come looking for you. Martha, I thought you might want to see your family all settled,” the Doctor smiled.
“Thing is, I’m staying though,” Martha said. “It’s time I finish up school, become a doctor myself.”
“Right,” the Doctor said, looking down. “Of course.”
“Spent all these years training to be a doctor. Now I've got people to look after. They saw half the planet slaughtered and they're devastated. I can't leave them,” Martha said.
“Of course not. Thank you. Martha Jones, you saved the world,” the Doctor said.
“Yes, I did. I spent a lot of time with you thinking I was second best, but you know what? I am good,” Martha said, smiling at Rose. “And I got a brilliant best friend out of the deal. You promise you’ll visit?”
Rose hugged Martha and said, “Yeah, and I’ll call so much you get sick of me.”
“I’m counting on it,” she laughed. Then she hugged Jack and the Doctor in turn and stepped down the TARDIS ramp. “Right then. Bye.”
Martha was barely out of the TARDIS for two seconds before she opened the door and looked at Rose. “You sure?”
“Yes,” Rose laughed. “Now go see your family!”
“Right, bye. For real this time,” Martha said before finally leaving the TARDIS.
Without a word, the Doctor flew the TARDIS to Cardiff. He walked out first, followed by Jack. Rose hung around for a second and placed her hand on the console. “I’m sorry, Old Girl. I just, I have to do this. Maybe one day I’ll come back. Forever’s a long time, you know. But I’ll miss you.”
Rose could feel the love radiating from the TARDIS. It gave her the courage to pick up her bag and throw it on her shoulder. When she got out, she heard the Doctor say, “I really don't mind, though. Come with me.”
“I had plenty of time to think that past year, the year that never was, and I kept thinking about that team of mine. Like you said, Doctor, responsibility,” Jack replied.
“Defending the Earth. Can’t argue with that,” the Doctor said, before turning to look at Rose. “What’s that?” he asked, looking at her bag.
“It’s my stuff,” she replied.
“But what do you have that for?” the Doctor asked.
“I’m going to go with Jack. Work for Torchwood,” Rose replied.
“But—what?” he asked, clearly still confused. He might have tried to convince the others to stay, but it was a half-hearted attempt. All he really wanted was to get Rose alone and grovel for her forgiveness. He had eleven months thinking about exactly how he would tell her he loved her. None of his possible scenarios had involved her leaving though.
Rose sighed. “Before all this happened, I asked you to take me to Sarah Jane’s. I was gonna move in with her. But I thought about it over the past year, and it’s safer for me to be in Cardiff. And I’ll have a job. One that I’ll be good at. Cause I reckon I know a thing or two about aliens.”
“But why do you have to go anywhere?” the Doctor asked, his brain still trying to catch up.
Rose shook her head. “I may not have any fancy degrees or almost be a doctor, but I’m not stupid. I can tell where I’m not wanted.” The Doctor started to protest, but Rose held up a hand. “Oh, you might want me around now, cause you’re lonely. But that’s not fair to me. Because what am I supposed to do when you find someone else? Someone much smarter and more interesting than me? I won’t go back to being ignored cause it’s convenient for you. I disappeared for weeks, and you didn’t say a thing about it. You hardly look at me. You won’t explain anything cause it’s apparently ‘too complicated’ for someone like me. I can’t live like that Doctor. I felt the same way Martha did. That I was second best. But I shouldn’t be. I’m good enough. And I want to be treated like it.”
“Rose,” the Doctor pleaded.
“No, Doctor,” Rose said, setting down her bag and crossing her arms. “I deserve better than how you’ve been treating me.”
The Doctor took a step forward and put a hand on Rose’s cheek. Unbeknownst to either of them, Jack was dialing Martha up and putting her on speaker phone so she could hear.
“You do,” the Doctor said. “You do deserve better. And I’m sorry. I’ve pushed you away for ages. Because I was scared. You aren’t like any other companion I’ve ever travelled with, and that terrified me. I’ve known how I felt for a long time now, but I always thought I wouldn’t be able to stand losing you if we got any closer. If we crossed that line. But it’s been getting harder and harder to say back from that line. So I tried pushing you away.”
“Doctor,” Rose said, unsure if she wanted him to stop or keep going.
“But I was wrong,” the Doctor continued, bringing his other hand up to Rose’s other cheek. “I was already too far gone. When I thought I watched you die, it broke me. I didn’t want to go on. But the worst part was the regret. I kept thinking of all those moments when I could have told you or shown you how I felt. I realized that it was all for nothing. Because I love you, Rose Tyler. I love you with all of my hearts. Crossing that line won’t make it hurt any more when I lose you. It would just mean that I have more happy memories to cling to. Because that’s what kept me going. Remembering your smile or your laugh. Remembering the feeling of your hand in mine. Losing you will destroy me one day, but I need those good memories. They don’t make the pain worse, they make it better. They make me better. They give me a reason to live on. To be the man you think I am. Or at least, the one you used to think I was, before I went and screwed all of this up with my bloody rules.”
Both of them were crying. All Rose could say was, “Doctor.”
“If you still want to leave, I won’t blame you. You deserve better than me. You deserve better than how I’ve treated you. But, if by some miracle, you choose to stay with me, I swear to you, I will spend the rest of your life making it up to you. Showing you how I feel. Because you are worth it. Even though I’m going to lose you someday, I will cherish every moment I have with you. I promise. I will love you all of your life, and even after that. I will love you until the year one hundred trillion, when the stars burn out and time devours everything,” the Doctor said, closing his eyes and placing his forehead on Rose’s as the tears streamed down his face.
Rose didn’t know what to say. He had said everything in her impossible checklist. And she believed him. She really believed that he meant every word he said. So, with a deep breath to steady herself, Rose decided she wouldn’t say anything. She would show him how she felt.
She leaned up and pressed her lips to his, letting her arms snake around his neck. It took a moment, but he lowered his arms to wrap them around her waist.
She didn’t know how long they stood there, like that, until she vaguely heard Jack yell, “Martha, now you owe me ten quid!”
“Oh come on!” Rose heard Martha exclaim through the speaker of Jack’s phone. “That’s twenty quid today alone. Don’t you all know I’m a student?”
Rose pulled back to look at Jack. He just shrugged and said, “We made a bet as to how long it would take you two to figure this out. Martha said a day, and I said he wouldn’t be able to leave without you. I saw the look on his face when he thought you died, and I knew he wasn’t going to waste his chance.”
Rose looked back at the Doctor, who was still holding her close, but who was now smiling. “So, how long are you going to stay with me?” he asked.
“Forever,” Rose smiled, leaning up to kiss him again. He didn’t know how seriously she meant that, but he’d find out in good time. At the moment, all she wanted to do was go home. They could figure everything else out later.