It couldn't be true.
She must've made a mistake, it certainly wouldn't be the first time. There was just no way Rose Tyler was in this time and place. She should've been dead by now. She should've been buried next to her husband in the place they spent their lives together. And yet...the Doctor had tracked her down to a century after she left her in this world. According to the TARDIS, her former companion was alive and well, living on the beach. Needless to say, that was simply impossible.
Then she saw Rose.
From atop the hill she parked her TARDIS on, the Doctor looked out and saw that extraordinary woman standing on her balcony, sipping tea from a mug. She didn't look a day older than when the Time Lord forced herself to say goodbye forever, and left her with a Doctor she could be with. She really had no time for this, there were loads of friends she still had to visit. She had seen Rose, somehow, and that was enough. It had to be.
"Rose, right?" the Doctor asked her old friend. Alright, she'd have a quick conversation with her and then leave. What was the harm in that?
"Yeah...who are you?" Rose questioned, arching her eyebrows. A soft, sad smile tugged on the older woman's lips.
"Joan." she responded, almost instinctually. Her friend squinted, as if she could almost recognize the Doctor. Maybe it was best she didn't, though. No need to make a fuss.
"Oh my God. Y-You're the Doctor, aren't you?" she realized, just moments later. Her expression was all over the place, equal parts sadness, happiness, and utter confusion.
"How could you tell?" the Doctor inquired shyly, turning her head to the side. Tears rolled down Rose's face as she raised a shaky hand to point at the TARDIS in the distance. Oh, that makes sense.
"Nice to meet you, Rose." she said softly, a grin coming onto her face. Her companion chuckled and wiped her eyes before rushing down from the balcony.
The Doctor had lived through millenia, but waiting less than a minute for Rose to get to her felt like an eternity.
"You're back. You came back for me." she mumbled, sniffling and nearly tackling the Doctor as she pulled her into a tight hug. It didn't take long for the Time Lord to wrap her arms tight around the other woman.
"Oh, of course I did. Couldn't very well not visit Rose Tyler." the Doctor replied, her lost love pressing her face into the crook of her neck. They just stayed there for as long as they could, embracing each other, not saying a word.
"How are you still alive?" she wondered out loud, breaking the silence. Rose pulled back, not so much that they broke the hug, but so she could be face-to-face with her friend.
"I dunno. My Doctor thought it was some leftover Bad Wolf energy. He said I had a few decades more than him, he was right. Outliving the Doctor...I never worried about that." Rose explained sadly. The Doctor's heart broke for her companion. She, more than anyone, knew how painful it was to survive the people you loved. So many thought they'd fancy immortality, or something like it, but they understood what a curse it could be.
"I got a few decades left too." the Doctor told her, which was clearly quite the surprise to the other woman.
"You don't look it." the younger woman remarked, which made her friend blush. "Won't you just regenerate?" she asked, tilting her head.
"I kinda got poisoned. Long story short, the stuff they use in the future...well, I won't be able to. This is my last body." she answered. That was the whole reason she came for Rose. She was on a farewell tour of sorts. The Doctor was just supposed to catch a glimpse of her companion and leave, let her get on with her life. That's what she had been doing for the others. Silly her, though. Rose was anything but typical.
"I've got the time to listen to the story, Doctor. If I remember correctly, you've got a pretty nice place for us to go." she suggested with a cute smile. The Doctor's dark eyes went wide, before the goofiest grin appeared on her face.
"If you want to go with me, I'll take you. There's no one I'd rather spend my last lifetime with." the Doctor admitted, her cheeks tinted red. Maybe she had said too much.
"Does my answer need saying?" Rose replied, walking hand-in-hand with the Doctor as they headed for the TARDIS.
That girl was as cheeky as the day they met.