"What do you mean we're nowhere? How can we be nowhere? That's impossible isn't it?"
Rose looked at the Doctor and smiled. "Do you want the long or short answer?"
He considered the matter. "Short."
She gazed up at the clouds. "Then the answer is no, it's not impossible."
"Long, then. I want the long answer."
She smiled back at him and shook her head. "Too late. No second chances."
He approached her, surprised. "Really? Not even for me?"
"Especially not for you. You've had more than your fair share already."
"It's the kind of man I am," he said, coming to sit on the grass beside her.
"Was," she corrected and looked back up at the clouds.
He nodded. "Quite right too. I keep forgetting."
Rose looked at him, studied his face, as though she was committing him to memory. "I'm not supposed to have favourites," she said after a while. "But..."
"Me neither." He moved his hand through the grass and his fingers touched hers. "You're cold."
She drew her hand away slowly. "I withered and died Doctor, just like you said I would."
He looked at her with understanding in his eyes. "You're still beautiful. You don't look a day over nineteen." He grinned at her and she laughed. It did his hearts good to hear her laugh. He'd missed that in these past... three hundred years.
"This form is just... to please you," she admitted. "I thought you'd like it."
"Oh I do. I always did."
She smiled at him again, her tongue peeping from the corner of her mouth.
He held his breath as he looked at her. Then he blinked. "Did you have a good life?"
"A fantastic one."
"I'm glad." He meant it.
For a little while silence sat between them like a stranger invading their conversation, then Rose lay back in the long grass and gazed at the sky above them. "I missed you," she said. "I never stopped loving you."
"I should have told you," he lay down next to her and looked at her in earnest. He took her face in his hands. "I should have said."
"I knew," she said softly. "I always knew."
He leant in towards her, his lips drifting so close to hers. "Rose.."
"There are rules," she whispered, tears springing to her eyes.
"Then this is me, breaking them." He moved his mouth to take hers and claimed the softest sweetest kiss. It went on forever and it died in a second. It was real and a dream all at once. He drew back slowly and Rose's eyes fluttered open.
He looked at the clouds, they were darker now. "I don't suppose...?"
Rose shook her head. "No."
"Those rules again?"
"You know," he said, pushing up onto his arms and lying back, his legs out in front of him. "They do say rules are made to be broken."
Rose shook her head. "I've broken enough already. I've stayed with you too long."
"I don't want you to go," he said quickly, a note of alarm in his voice that he'd been careless not to hide away. "I don't want to lose you again."
"You never lost me."
She looked away from his eyes, turning her attention to the sky. "It's getting dark."
He let out a breath. "What happened to me in the end?"
She looked at him. "Don't you remember?"
"I ran out of regenerations I suppose."
Rose shook her head. "No." She sat up and touched his face. "This is still the face I remember. This regeneration lasted longest of all."
"Ah," the Doctor said. "Yes, I remember now. I never did get to be ginger." His face fell. "It was time I ran out of in the end."
"You could have lived longer," Rose pointed out.
"But that would have meant leaving them all to die."
"It would have," she agreed.
He frowned suddenly. "They didn't die did they? Because that would be..." he looked at Rose. "They didn't did they?"
"Everybody lived," she said with a smile, her eyes sparkling.
"Except me, apparently."
"Except you. Yes." She looked to the sky again, and tilted her head as if she was listening to something, then she smiled and got to her feet, offering him her hand. "They're coming," she said.
He took her hand and she helped him up. "Whose coming?"
Rose looked up. The sky was black and cloudless, but as they watched, a hundred, thousand, million, pin-pricks of light began to appear, brighter than stars they shone.
"They're here," she said, and cast her gaze to the Doctor, watching him staring up at the countless lights in amazement.
"What are they?" he asked.
"They're souls," she explained quietly as he looked across to her. "Souls of men, women and children who lived because of you. All races, all species. Countless lives saved because of one good man. One man who tried to atone for a sin that was not a sin. All these souls would never have lived if it had not been for you, Doctor." She took his hand and walked with him. "They wanted to come to guide you, to steer you home."
The Doctor stopped suddenly. "I won't see you again?"
Rose touched his face. "Perhaps."
He took her hand in his and pressed a kiss to her palm, his eyes bright upon hers. "You're lying to me. I always know when you're lying to me. You do this thing with your nose, totally adorable but a complete and utter give away and..." he swallowed hard. "I can't...Rose... not again."
She smiled at him, tears in her eyes. "But you will."
"Rules?" he asked, and she nodded. He thrust his hands into his pockets and began to walk away. "You won't forget me, will you, Rose Tyler?"
"Not in a million years," she called out to him.
The lights around them grew brighter and he began to fade into them until Rose stood alone under a heavenly sky, full of souls. She looked up and smiled at one that shone brighter than all the others and knew it would hold her heart forever.
Guardian angels were not meant to fall in love with their charges, but as the Doctor had quite rightly pointed out; rules were made to be broken. So perhaps, they would meet again. In time.