Standing on a windswept beach in Norway again, Rose held the other Doctor's hand after he told her what she'd been longing to hear – that he loved her.
"Well, what now?" Rose asked him as the Tardis faded from view.
"We can get the hell off this freezin' cold beach, that's what," her mother told her.
The clone Doctor smiled at the same old Jackie Tyler and turned to Rose.
"I'm still him Rose, like I said, nothing's changed."
"Yeah, I get that now and you're back. Mum's right, we need to find somewhere to stay the night so come on then, I'm tired, I've not slept in days and while that might be OK for a Timelord, I ain't one of them."
The clone Doctor woke up the next morning, Rose had her arm over him and was only wearing one piece of underwear and he was just in a pair of boxers they'd got him from the hotel gift shop as it was about to close. He smiled at the sleeping woman beside him, she'd tried so hard to get back to him and all she'd got was a copy of him but he wasn't going to let that get in their way. Well so he thought.
Six months later, it was now 2013 in 'Pete's world' and the clone Doctor was still trying to get the failed dimension cannon up and running again. It had stopped working after all the planets had been put back where they belonged in the other universe but Torchwood had been determined not to stop exploring other worlds even though the original purpose was for Rose to find the Doctor again, there were still vast advantages to do so, the knowledge they could obtain for one, let alone all the inventions and devices they could get their hands on.
The clone Doctor, now officially James Smith or 'Jamie-babe' as Rose called him at home in their luxurious two-bedroom apartment in Richmond overlooking the river disagreed to a certain extent of what Torchwood could gain from it but he couldn't help but jump at the chance of still travelling to other universes, since they'd had no luck growing their own Tardis.
They had laughed and gone to the 2012 Olympics, this time without him getting sucked into a child's drawing and the spectators disappearing though he was upset he didn't get to light the flame at the opening ceremony. Neither of them talked about getting married or having a family, Rose was still the head of research and Jamie head of the cannon project, Mickey having stayed behind in their original universe.
They were happy, or so he thought, Rose never complained if he worked late, she would just wait for him coming home and they'd make love even when he was tired, which he felt now he was no longer all Timelord. Then, a few months later, he had a breakthrough and the cannon started measuring timelines again. They were looking for volunteers to go but he didn't think either of them should be the ones if they found the original one.
"Why not?" Rose asked him.
"Because he's still there Rose, there can't be two of us and you heard him when he left us here. I thought you'd be the last one who would want to find him again when he went off."
"That's not fair Jamie and you know it, he had no other choice. Forget it then, we'll stay here but where are we going? It's been almost a year and mum's forever putting wedding magazines in front of me every time we go to visit."
"You want to get married Rose?"
"Not necessarily, not if you don't want to?"
"We are not getting married just to please your mother. Rose, you know I love you, that's enough, isn't it sweetheart?"
She went to put her arms around him, she hated fighting with him.
"Yeah, I know you love me, you plum. I'll tell mum she's wasting her time then shall I?"
"I have a nice comfy sofa in my office, don't forget," he teased, taking her hand.
Time went on, they got volunteers to complete successful missions to other universes, none of them the right one, Rose was disappointed and they'd still not got around to getting engaged, let alone getting married though James had bought her a pink sapphire ring which Rose insisted on wearing on her wedding ring finger just to please her mother and he was happy to let her.
Soon, almost three years had passed and James had broken his own rule, he'd been tempted to use the dimension cannon when they thought they'd found the right universe again and it had caused a major row, ending in Rose leaving and going back to her parent's house but James had come back saying he'd found the right universe but it had been somehow changed. Rose didn't want to know, they were hardly talking and James was on the verge of letting their rented apartment go since he now buried himself in his work, fine tuning the cannon in on that universe, getting readings on the timelines until one day, he announced he thought he'd got it right.
Rose of course got to hear the news, Jake had been keeping her up to date and acting as a go-between for the two ex-lovers. He'd been heartbroken for both his friends that their three year relationship had ended so badly because the Doctor had given in and tried to beat Rose to get back where they'd come from.
"So, heard the latest then?" Jake asked her, pouring two cups of coffee and taking one across to Rose's desk.
"James disappeared and never came back?"
"You don't mean that Rosie and you know it. You still love him."
"You think you know me so well Jake but you don't, not really. Yeah, I love him even though he wasn't really the doctor, I accepted him and treated him like he was but he did the unthinkable Jake, he couldn't resist it after we promised each other we'd never go back."
"Well, you said he was always curious. Anyway, I got word from someone in his department, he's found the right timeline. It's 2013, how it should be back there but so far, he's not sent anyone. I think he's waiting for you to ask to be sent there."
"Well, that's very good of him then, now he finally thinks about me?"
"Don't be like that Rose, go see him."
"Why? I've not seen him for more than a few minutes since I moved out last month then only because Pete called us both to his office because mum had been on to him about us. It didn't end well, trust me."
Rose's mobile rang – it was James. She didn't feel like answering though but the phone kept on playing 'Their' song as the ringtone and she could have sworn she'd changed it to something more appropriate.
"Hi Rose, how are you?"
"What do you want?"
"Well, 'erm, I wanted to ask you if you could come to the cannon room? I have some news for you, unless Jake's already told you?"
"Yeah, he did but I'm not interested James."
"Rose, I know you're upset and I said I was sorry but I hate to see you like this. Think about it, the readings are still strong, we can get you safely there but it's up to you if you go and if you want to stay there. You could finally get back and I won't stand in your way. I still love you."
A tear formed in her eye. It was never going to be the same. She could stay here, constantly being reminded there was a way back to her original home and though her mother would never go with her, Mickey was still there, somewhere but she had a feeling he'd gone off after Martha Jones, she couldn't really blame him she supposed.
"I'll think about it. How long will the gap be open?"
"We don't know, it's been a while now but it could revert to one of the other timelines, there's no real way of telling but if you make your mind up soon, you'll be guaranteed of getting there, I promise."
Jake looked at her and knew she was going to accept the invitation to go back and find the real Doctor, she wouldn't stay here and remain unhappy when she'd been given yet another chance.
Rose went back home to think about it – what did she really have to keep her here? Her stepbrother yes, he was worth staying for as was her mother but her heart was really back with the real Doctor and always had been and while she'd tried not to let the disappointment show to Jamie, deep down he must have known he wasn't the version she'd wanted.
The next morning, she stopped to do some shopping, buying a lightweight rucksack and three packs of space-saving bags from a discount store because if she was going, she was going prepared. Once in the office, she wound up the projects she'd been researching and told her secretary to hold all her calls. Then she went to see Pete.
"You're going, aren't you?" he stated.
"I have to and I love you all so much but I'll never be happy."
"Your mum said last night that you'd go. It's not about you and James splitting up, is it?"
"No, though that didn't help Dad. I loved him and he couldn't resist going to take a look, without me and he never even told me he was going."
"Because you would have stopped him and he knew it. He's an explorer Rose, he's stuck here as much as you are and he accepted he couldn't go travelling any more but it has to be affecting him, more than it has you."
"I know and I'm sorry I got so mad with him but it's over, we both know it. He'll want to keep doing it but he asked me if I wanted to go, on my own. He can't stay there and he knows it but he'll want to keep popping over to see what's going on and he won't if I'm there. I'll take one of the portable devices with me, if I change my mind but I was warned it may not always keep working, I'll have to chance it."
"Don't go without saying goodbye to Tony and your mother, will you?"
They got up and Rose hugged her stepfather, who had been the only father she'd ever known. She went home to start packing, rolling out the air in the spacebags and putting them in the rucksack and getting out the 'Universal' credit card she took on other missions with her. Then she went down to join the others for dinner, Jake and James were already there.
James took her to one side after dinner.
"So, you're going then?" he asked, sounding disappointed she'd actually taken him up on the offer.
"Yeah, I have to James, I'm sorry. These last few years we've had together, they've been good though, yeah?"
"Yeah, they were the best and even all that time we were apart, I never stopped loving you and I never will. I'll be here, if you ever come back. I'll keep the gap open as long as I can and even if that one closes to that timeline, the chances are it will open up again. I'll see you in the morning then, are you all packed?"
"Yeah. I have to say goodbye to Tony in the morning."
James smiled. "Good luck with that then, he'll miss you, we all will."
"Don't make it any harder for me James, please."
"It doesn't have to be like this Rose."
"Yes, it does. I have to find him, ask him why."
"Why he left me with you? I'm the one who should be mad at him, not you. I'm the one he left because I did what he wouldn't have done and you know what? The Daleks will still come back Rose, they're not gone, they just want you to believe they're gone, they always survive when I lose everything, including you, twice."
Rose ran off to her room, crying. James didn't know whether to leave her or go after her, he'd get yelled at by his almost mother-in-law for driving her away, that's if she was still talking to him when Rose vanished in front of the dimension cannon in the morning. He decided he'd only make her worse by going after her and went to the guest room Jackie had given him if he didn't feel like driving all the way back to the apartment he'd once shared with the love of his lives.
The next morning, Pete as putting her rucksack in the back of his car, James had left early, getting away with just a hug from Jackie and a 'Try and talk her out of going' speech, Rose turned to Jackie and Tony.
"Bye then, I'll try and come back, when I can."
Jackie and Tony could only wave as Pete drove off. James was doing the final checks to the dimension cannon, having operators checking and re-checking it was pointed at the correct timeline and everything was looking good. He'd made sure all the readings pointed it was the beginning of July, 2013 and they'd picked up signs of the Tardis though they couldn't be sure if the other Doctor had regenerated or not.
Rose was wearing her blue leather jacket, a pair of black trousers and a purple top, just as she'd been dressed the last time she'd gone though why, she'd couldn't tell anyone. James called her forward as Pete helped her with the rucksack. He handed her a smaller version of the portable device she'd used the last time, his new 'improved' version he called it.
"Right, this is it then. Good luck Rose, I hope you find what you want, we'll all be here, if you decide it's not what you want."
He tried to put his arms around her as best he could.
"Bye James, I did love you but I have to do this, I know you don't want me to and I'm not trying to punish you for doing the same to me but this is what I want, what I've always wanted."
She reached up and kissed him goodbye and went to take her place. The cannon fired up and Rose vanished in a flash of light, something James could never get used to but now his love had gone away, he felt like smashing the whole thing up, wishing he'd never even seen the thing, let alone getting it working again and he cursed the day he'd found the right universe. He'd never told Rose that he'd located the Tardis, though he'd not had the courage to let himself be seen but the ship had looked different, more like it used to be ages back but he'd thought nothing else of it. Rose was gone and his new life here, in Pete's world was never going to be the same again.
Sure, he'd be able to spot Rose in the timeline, he'd sent her to the last known location of the Tardis, which seemed to be in a village called Leadworth, wherever that was. Still, there was no need to be hanging around the Powell estate any more, was there?
Rose had landed in the middle of a village green, hoping no-one had noticed and pretending she'd been there all along and just got off a bus. She got her bearings and there, just by the side of a pub, was the Tardis. She smiled and hitching the straps of the rucksack up, checked she still had the portable device in her jacket pocket and made her way across to the blue police box and knocked on the door, hoping the Doctor was at home.