Can't. That word has become a millstone around his neck. Can't save them all. Can't make him stay. Can't find a way back to her. The weight of all those can'ts threatens to crush him or to push him to insanity. He decides that he has had enough. He has come across a device that might enable him to breach the void and not destroy either universe in the process. The technology is alien, even to him, and there is no real way to guarantee that it will work. He's past the point of caring and a small part of him hopes that if it doesn't work, he won't be around to know it. He pulls the lever and waits.
The moment the TARDIS crosses the void he feels the feathery whisper of another mind reaching out to him. He has just enough time to think it must only be ghosts from his encounter with the Master before he is flung violently to the floor. Then all he can think is ouch and that's going to leave a mark. The lights in the room go very dim. He struggles to stand up and is almost knocked down again when he feels that same mind, now obviously much closer, reaching out to him.
This time there is no mistaking that it could have anything to do with the Master. The mind that is reaching out to him is absolutely pulsing with joy and love and surprise. He shakes himself off and heads for the door. The sunlight feels harsh to his eyes as he tries to take in his surroundings. He only manages to take two steps before a small projectile rams into him. Rams into him and begins cutting off the circulation to his legs.
He looks down and all he can see is a tumble of ginger curls. It puzzles him that the mind he has been sensing should belong to this small person. It puzzles him even more that he feels a sense of kinship to her. Not just the kinship of belonging to the same species, but the more intimate kinship of blood-ties. He just can't wrap his head around how this can be possible. He tears his eyes away from the child and begins to look for answers.
They're standing on that beach in Norway, the one that haunts his dreams. He looks again and he sees a figure standing a few yards away. It's Rose. She's standing there, one hand clutching what he knows must be her TARDIS key and the other hand is pressed firmly across her mouth. The look on her face is one of disbelief and perhaps fear. A thought springs into his head and he carefully disentangles himself from the small arms wrapped around his legs. He crouches down and looks the little girl in the eye. She smiles brightly and reaches out a small hand to touch his face. He smiles back and starts with, “Hello.” Her reply shakes him, even though he is beginning to see the truth of the situation.
Everything, including the fear on Rose's face, slides into place. Rose had lied to him. Tiny eddies of anger and resentment begin to swirl in his thoughts. He's angry for so many different reasons and at so many different things. Angry at his people for the choices they forced him to make. Angry at the Daleks for everything they had taken from him. Angry at his own limitations. Angry... His thoughts are jerked back to the child standing in front of him as she leans forward and places a soft kiss on his cheek. She whispers in his ear. “I'm so very glad that you are actually here. We've missed you.”
The walls around his heart begin to crumble and he can't help but think that anger has done nothing but weigh him down for so very long. Here he is with everything he's ever wanted and he's wasting precious time with anger? Enough, he decides, is enough. This is not the time for anger, resentment, fear, guilt, or blame. He lets go of all of it and opens his heart to embrace love, trust, joy, forgiveness, hope, and a thousand other emotions that he has never felt that he deserved. He squeezes his child against him and then releases her and stands.
He knows without a doubt that everything Rose did was born out of love for him. He faces her and opens his arms. She practically flies into them. His arms wrap tightly around her as he inhales the scent that is uniquely Rose. It fills his senses and makes him feel so very alive. Eventually their embrace loosens enough that they can look at each other. He grins widely at her. “ I thought I'd be the one shouting surprise. Mind you, this is the kind of surprise I could get used to. She's fantastic. I am bit jealous that she got ginger on the first...” His words are stopped by Rose pressing her lips passionately against his. He realizes that he had forgotten what a wonderful thing it was to be told to shut up by Rose Tyler.
The kiss ends when the pair hear the sounds of giggling. The Doctor turns his head to the sound, expecting to see a child embarrassed by the actions of her parents. Instead, she laughs again and presses her cheek to blue paneling. There is a far away look in her eyes for a moment before her attention turns towards her parents. She smiles impishly. “You've made her very happy. She's singing again.”
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