Once Upon a Time There Was an Ocean

by ABadPlanWellExecuted [Reviews - 121]

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  • Teen
  • Swearing
  • Action/Adventure, Drama, Series

Once upon a time I was an ocean
But now I’m a mountain range
Something unstoppable set into motion
Nothing is different, but everything’s changed

- Paul Simon, Once Upon A Time There Was An Ocean

“Well,” said Jack cheerfully, “that’s all taken care of. You two want to go get some dinner?”

Rose laughed, giddy with the knowledge that it was finally all over–the Doctor was safe, and the timelines were safe, and they were all out of Torchwood. She shook her head regretfully. “I really shouldn’t. Control starts to get nervous if the jumps take too long. And it’s been…” She set her pack down and started to search through it. “What…about eight hours or so? I just have to check to see if the…” she trailed off, her mouth hanging open for a moment. And then, “Oh, fuck!”

“Problem?” asked Jack.

“What is it?” asked the Doctor.

Rose straightened up, aggrieved. She was clutching a device in her hand–the TURT. “Bloody hell! I never set the date and time on this thing! It’s only done its initial transmission.” She inputted the necessary information and watched while the TURT calculated the estimated time to completion. When it beeped, she groaned.

“How much longer do you have to wait?” asked the Doctor.

Rose snorted and stuck the TURT back into her pack. “Five and a half hours. Of course. Don’t know why I even bothered to check.” She leaned back and thumped her head against the wall. “Do you ever have one of those days when the synchronicity of the universe just really starts to drive you spare?”

“From time to time,” answered the Doctor mildly.

“So,” said Jack, looking back and forth between them, “does this mean we’re on for dinner?”


A short while later, the TARDIS landed in Cardiff, after Jack confirmed that his team had gone home for the night. He led the way to a little bistro on the Mermaid Quay–not quite the same place that they had gone years ago, or would go years in the future (depending on the perspective), but it was good nonetheless, with hot chips and cold pints and excellent company.

Jack told them all about his team and Torchwood bureaucracy and his troubles with weevils. The Doctor just listened and ate and laughed, a look of amazement on his face, like he’d forgotten that life actually could be enjoyable, and Rose noted with amusement that Jack’s stories contained just as much nudity as ever.

“…and then,” said Jack, elbows on the table and gesturing with both hands, “we end up in the kitchen, right? Four-star restaurant, so it’s busy, and I mean busy–people running past with sauce pans knives and hurling ingredients left and right. So we’re trying to sneak past, you know, act like we belong, but like I said, half our clothes were in shreds. So there we are, trying to dodge hot pans and burners, and then this guy, the head chef runs at us–” and he paused, grinning, as Rose dissolved into giggles, “no, no, wait for it. He runs at us, brandishing this whisk over his head, threatening us with it like it was a club, and he’s shouting in French…”

As Jack worked his way up to the climax of the story, Rose leaned against the back of the booth, grinning. It was so familiar, this scene–the three of them together like this, shooting the breeze. She felt like, if she squinted, if she tilted her head just right, all those years would just fall away. She’d be nineteen again–jeans, trainers, rings on her fingers, and a ton of mascara. They’d eat and laugh, and when they were done, they’d run back to the TARDIS and set the coordinates to go anywhere, everywhere.

But as much as she would have liked to forget for awhile, those little differences were there, unavoidable–the weight of the tech in her shoulder pack or the way Jack’s stories were full of his team instead of the Time Agency. The way the Doctor looked surprised when he laughed like he was just remembering how.

It would never be quite the same as it had been. At least not for her, not for Jack. Sure, they might meet up, the three of them, but it would be pinstripes and Converse, Torchwood and more Torchwood, and the burden of all those years spent apart. It would still be good, brilliant even, and still worth it, always–but it wouldn’t be this.

“Jack,” said Rose when the conversation hit a momentary lull, “tell the one about Igrus 8.” When he looked at her blankly, she explained, “The hunting trip–you know, the one where you should’ve turned left?”

From across the table, Jack smiled at her slowly, and Rose thought that maybe she wasn’t the only one feeling nostalgic.

“Jeez, give away the punch line, why don’t you?” he said, rolling his eyes good-naturedly. “Yeah, sure, Rose.” He took a swig of his drink and started in.“So this one time, I’m on Igrus 8 with my friend Ian Brakovitch…”


They left the restaurant only when they started getting dirty looks from the serving staff. Jack paid and left a hefty tip with his company credit card, joking that after all Torchwood had put them through today, they ought to at least foot the bill for dinner.

“Plus,” he added as they stepped out onto the pavement, “it won’t hurt to have an alibi in case I need one. Pretty hard to be blowing anything up in London one minute and then go out for dinner in Cardiff in the next.” Under the glare of the streetlamp, he paused and took a deep breath.

“Well,” he said, turning his head to look out at the water, “I think maybe it’s time for me to be going.” He looked back toward the Doctor. “You ready to do the memory mod?”

“If you’re sure,” the Doctor replied.

Jack nodded, albeit a little nervously. “Yeah. Can’t leave the fate of reality hanging for the sake of one memory.”

“I will see you again, Jack,” said Rose firmly, grabbing one of his hands in both of hers. She waited until he turned toward her and then she looked up into his eyes, squeezing his fingers. “I promise.”

Jack’s face split apart into a wide smile. “It’s a date.” He swooped in and grabbed her around the waist, and Rose let out a little shriek of laughter as he lifted her up. “See you later, Rose,” he added, giving a quick kiss to the top of her head as he set her back down. “And Doctor,” he added, turning to him with his heart in his eyes, “it was good to see you again.”

The Doctor smiled and nodded. He reached a hand out, like he was going to clap Jack on the shoulder or offer to shake hands, but Jack grabbed hold of it and pulled him in to a hug.

“Yeah,” said the Doctor, surprised. “It’s been…nice.” He patted Jack on the back awkwardly.

“Do me a favor,” said Jack with a half-smile as he released him, “and leave in the bit with the ghost device. I still have to retrieve it at some point.”

“I can do that,” said the Doctor softly. “You’ll just think you were giving it a test run.”

Jack nodded. “Alright. Let’s do it.” He closed his eyes as the Doctor’s fingers brushed his temple.

They were both silent and still for a long moment, though Jack’s eyelids twitched as though he were dreaming. Then he suddenly broke away and, without a word, turned and started walking.

Rose started to call for him, but the Doctor grabbed her arm and shook his head.

“Shhh,” he murmured. “Don’t disturb him. He’ll be in a bit of a fog for a minute or two, but he knows that he’s supposed to head for home. It’ll give us a chance to get out of sight.”

Rose blinked away tears as she watched Jack walk off into the night. “So,” she said, trying to keep her voice normal, “that’s done. I’ve still got a couple hours left to wait–you want to go for a walk or something?”

“Nah,” said the Doctor, reaching for her hand. He gave it a tug as he started walking, and she fell in stride beside him. “Let’s go back to the TARDIS. There’s something I want to make for you.”

“What is it?”

He smiled. “Something a little more precise than Torchwood’s ret-con.”

Back inside the TARDIS, the Doctor started rummaging through his various storage cupboards, tossing things to Rose as he went–tools, bits of wire and circuitry, and something that Rose thought looked quite a bit like silly putty. Finally, he pulled out an old portable tape deck that, judging by the grainy faux-wood finish, was probably from the 1970s.

The Doctor gave it an approving nod. “Perfect.” He carried it back to the console room and sat down on the floor, gesturing for Rose to pass him the rest of the items. She handed them over and then shrugged off her shoulder pack, settling herself down next to him to watch him work.

With the sonic screwdriver, the Doctor detached front panel from the tape deck, set it aside, and then started carefully removing the inner components. “So,” he said after a long moment of silence, his eyes still on the project in his lap, “I’m curious about something.”


“Yeah.” He wetted a finger on his tongue and then used it to get hold of a miniature screw.

“And what’s that?” prompted Rose.

“You said that we’ll be separated at Torchwood because of the particle engine. So why you were so dead-set against destroying it?” He carefully dropped the screw into the empty front panel for safekeeping. “Maybe could have altered things so that event never happens.”

Rose shook her head. “That’s a stupid question. You know why not.”

The Doctor shrugged. “I’m not saying I would have done it.” He looked up at her intently, his eyes inscrutable. “But you could’ve asked.”

“Pretty sure we’ve had this conversation before,” said Rose. “Or will have it again, from your perspective.”

“Oh yeah?” The Doctor reached for his sonic screwdriver and flipped through the settings. “And what’d we decide?”

“That I’m too angelically selfless to do something like that,” said Rose, batting her eyelashes a little. Then she laughed and looked away. “Nah, I’m not. The thing is,” she paused for a moment, thinking it over, “I think in some ways it was good. No, I don’t mean that. Not good.” She shook her head. “I don’t know what I mean.”

“It can be hard, this sort of life,” said the Doctor, his voice deceptively light. “Maybe it was nice to take a break.”

Rose barked out a laugh in surprise. “No, that’s not it at all. I loved it–this life, I mean. Traveling with you. And we were…we were happy, you and me. We were content. It was easy. I…”

She mulled it over for a moment. “I think maybe that’s it. That it was easy. And I don’t mean that it didn’t do me good, or that I didn’t learn or grow, but… But everything I’ve done since then has been on my own, and I’ve had to fight for it. Had to study, build, argue, take risks. It’s not fun, doing it alone. Definitely better with two,” she added softly. “But when I get back to you, it won’t be because I was rescued or hitched a lift with anybody; I’ll have done it myself.” She smiled at him. “Done the impossible.”

The Doctor smiled back at her. “Tell me how you built your Dimension Cannon, Rose.”

And so she did, explaining the design and function of her impossible travel machine. She wasn’t an expert on every part of the technology, but she had a thorough understanding of the basics, enough to give him a broad overview. The Doctor listened and nodded as he worked, jumping in with suggestions here and there–how to refine the temporal algorithmic targeting systems and ways to reduce post-jump dimensional retrograde .

After an hour or so, Rose yawned. Her day had started early, and she was starting to feel the effects of all that running around. She rubbed a finger over one eye, blinking sleepily, and then yawned again.

The Doctor glanced at her. “You could go get some sleep, y’know. If you want.” He jerked his head toward the hallway. “There’s probably a spare bedroom back there somewhere.”

Rose thought about that door, two left turns and one long stretch of hall away, that had been hers and would be hers very soon–but wasn’t hers now. She didn’t think she had the heart to go open it and see the pleasant but generic bed, the empty bookshelf with no knickknacks, the walls without a scuffmark from a flying red converse that the Doctor had accidentally kicked off when his shoelaces were loose, and–

“Nah,” she answered quickly. She shifted, trying to get comfortable against a coral strut. “I’m alright. I’ll just camp out here.”

“You sure?” The Doctor paused, one hand in midair waiting to snap a component into place. “This could still take a bit.” When she just shook her head, he shrugged. “Suit yourself. There’s always the jumpseat if you decide you want something more comfortable.” He dropped his focus back to the project on his lap, securing the component with a flick of the sonic. “Might even be a spare cushion in one of those cupboards.”

“Well…” Rose bit her lip. The rough surface of the coral strut really was digging into her back. Plus, he was sitting there, right there, looking exactly like she remembered. On a whim, she decided to press her luck. “Actually…I don’t s’pose I could have your jacket?”

“What?” The Doctor’s eyebrows shot up, and the sonic screwdriver slipped in his hand. He fumbled to recover it before it hit the floor. “What for?”

“For a pillow, of course.” She moved forward onto her knees and crawled toward him. “Whenever we’d get imprisoned, you’d always do this thing with your jacket–fold it up so I could sleep on it.” She reached out and tugged at the leather covering his shoulder.

She could tell she’d surprised him–the look on his face was priceless, shock and dismay and hope all warring for center stage. She just raised an eyebrow and gave another imperious tug on his sleeve, and that was enough; he set the electronics down and let her pull it off of him.

Rose held up her prize, trying not to look too pleased. “Let’s see. You had this way of rolling it up so that it made a perfect pillow.” She played with it for a moment, but it wasn’t quite right. She frowned. “That’s not it. The buttons aren’t supposed to stick out. When you’d do it, it’d end up all smooth.”

“Here.” The Doctor held out a hand, his voice soft. “Let me see it.”

He spread it out and started folding up the sleeves, tucking and aligning everything so that there wouldn’t be any lumps. He was slower about it then she remembered, but, Rose supposed, this was technically the first time.

He did the final roll, bundling everything up, and then handed it to her, folded exactly the way she wanted.

She smiled, her tongue caught between her teeth. “Perfect, thanks.” Shucking off her own jacket, she made a spot to lie down and put her leather pillow at the head. She settled down on it with a sigh of contentment.

The Doctor’s ears had gone a bit pink, but there was a ghost of smile lurking on his face. “There’re probably real pillows somewhere on this ship, you know.”

“Oh, no, this is better,” said Rose assuredly. “Trust me.” She rubbed her thumb over the leather nostalgically. “I missed it when you…when you stopped wearing it.”

The Doctor made a noise that was probably supposed to be a huff but ended up sounding far too pleased. He picked up the bits and pieces of his project and got back to work.

Rose watched him from the floor as he twisted pieces of wire together, the sleeves of his jumper sliding back along his forearms to reveal his wrists, his eyes focused intently on his work. It was a very nice image, one that she wanted to just stare at, ink into her memory if possible, but it would fade eventually, just like all her other memories of this version of him. With some effort, she managed to make the sigh coming out of her mouth sound like a yawn.

“Humans,” muttered the Doctor, eyeing her. “Always wanting a nap. What’s the point of all that sleep anyway?”

Rose yawned again, truthfully this time. “Yeah, well. Superior human biology,” she said lightly, shifting to a more comfortable position.

The Doctor snorted. “Superior? Spending one third of your life unconscious?”

“It’s true!” Rose rolled up onto one elbow because she’d been saving this particular lecture for a long time, from well before they'd been separated. She’d looked it up in the TARDIS library one day, but had never gotten the chance to use it, since he’d gotten so much more human-friendly after the regeneration. “Think about it. Humans live, what, maybe eighty years? Not a lot of time to for a brain to grow and develop.”

“Well, if you have less time, seems like you should spend less of it asleep,” he argued.

“But sleep makes everything more efficient. When you sleep, your mind sifts through everything you’ve learned and files away the important bits. You get creative, work out problems, relieve stress. See? Superior biology, packing in so much more learning per year of life.” She settled back down again, a little smugly, and delivered her coup de grĂ¢ce. “That’s how a paltry little species like mine ended up mastering time travel.”


“It’s true.” She shrugged, pressing her lips together to hide a smile.

“Humans,” he growled, “do not master time travel.”

She just lifted an eyebrow, mock-serious. “We have a Time Agency, don’t we? Or will have, anyway. We travel in time, too.”

He snorted. “Yeah, and an ape riding a trike in the circus is ready for the Tour de France.”

“Nah, you can’t get away with that with me,” she said. “I’ve heard you go on and on about human potential. Heard you call us amazing, brilliant. Fantastic.”

“Maybe some of you,” he allowed gruffly.

Grinning with her tongue curled over her teeth, she reached out to poke his leg. “Oh, admit it. You like us.”

“Some of you,” he repeated, softer this time and with warm eyes looking right at her.

She felt the flush creep up her cheeks and pressed her face against the leather to hide it. “Well. Nothing wrong with having a few favorites.”

As she closed her eyes, she heard the Doctor chuckle as he went back to work.



There was a hand on her shoulder. And again, “Rose.”

She came awake with a start, blinking in the greenish light of the console room. The Doctor was leaning over her, peering down with his blue eyes, and for one bizarre moment, Rose had no idea where in time she was.

He gave her shoulder another little pat and then, after just a moment’s hesitation, he carefully swept a finger over her forehead, catching a stray lock of her hair and tucking it gently behind one ear. “Sorry to wake you,” he said softly, “but your five and a half hours are up. Plus, I’m all done. Come have a look.”

She stared at him blankly. Then reality snapped back into focus, and she ran a hand over her face. “Right, right. The memory doohickey.”

He moved back to make room as she pushed up to her feet. “That is what I was thinking of calling it, yeah,” he said with a smile as he scooped the device up off the floor. “You sure you’re awake enough for this?”

“Yeah,” she nodded. “Just…give me a mo’.” To his amusement, she hopped up and down in place, waggling her head back and forth to get her blood moving. “Ok,” she said, shoving her hair back out of her face. “Go ahead.”

“Alright, then. This,” he explained, lifting the tape deck, its faux-wood panel back in place, “is a partial cross-orbital neural scanner. Much more precise than your ret-con because it won’t leave a big blank space in the person’s memory. Instead, it just deletes specific parts of memories–only the bits involving you–and only from short term memories, within forty-eight hours at the most. Anyone affected will be able to recall the events that took place, but they won’t remember that you were there.”

Rose frowned. “Won’t that still leave gaps? I mean, I probably won’t just be standing in the corner like furniture. Won’t people wonder how things happened the way they happened if they can’t remember that I was there?”

The Doctor shook his head. “The human brain is very good at manufacturing false memories. Any inconsistencies will just be filled in by the subject. You might end up with two people with slightly different stories, but they’ll just assume the other one’s got it wrong.”

He pressed a tiny release button, and the front panel popped open, revealing the hidden controls. “Now, here’s how you activate it, and this here? Changes the focus so that you can target multiple people at once.”

He continued to walk her through the operations, making sure that she understood each setting and function, and Rose could see that he was right–it was far more sophisticated than Torchwood’s ret-con. It could be used from a distance, for one, plus she could make adjustments for the period of time before memory decay. It even had some limited capacity for post-hypnotic suggestion.

“What about this one?” she asked, pointing to the one dial that he hadn’t yet explained.

“Ah.” The Doctor nodded uncomfortably. “That one changes the settings from human to…well, to me.”

“What?” Rose looked up at him. “Why would I need that? You can just block your own memories.”

“Yes, I can, but this makes it more…efficient. Less risk of information contamination, too, though it doesn’t get rid of it entirely. And more importantly…” he trailed off.


He shrugged a shoulder. “Well, you wouldn’t know it from me, of course, but some of my regenerations have been sort of…stubborn. Do you really want to have to convince me over and over that blocking my memories is necessary? Now, look here,” he continued quickly, pushing the device into her hands and then tapping a finger over the switch in question. “You just turn this over to the other setting here and then press the activation button–that’s all you have to do. You’ll have about a two minute delay before it takes effect.”

Rose cradled the tape deck to her chest as she realized what he’d just given her. Not the device itself, of course–that was standard Doctor brilliance–but the sheer amount of trust he was placing in her was staggering. He was handing her the ability to hide her presence from everyone, even him, trusting that she would do what was right to protect the integrity of his mind, the timelines, and the entire universe.

Judging by the look on his face, the Doctor didn’t want to make a fuss. Remember his horror of domestics, Rose just hugged the tape deck tighter. “And that’ll erase your memories?”

The Doctor shook his head. “Not erase–hide. I’ll block my memories of today myself, and when I do, I’ll calibrate it to my own…mental filing cabinet. Then whenever you use it, the memories will all be stored in the same place, and we’ll be able to unlock them when you get to where you need to be with a call and response password.”

“So you’ll be able to remember this,” she said slowly. “Eventually.”

He nodded. “As soon as you get back to the proper me. Here, let me set up the initial recall storage block.” He took the device back and began the first stage of the calibration. Then he showed Rose how to activate the memory release program and waited patiently while she inputted the password that would eventually allow him to retrieve his memories. Once she was done, she handed it back to him.

The Doctor changed the settings so that he could do his final memory block, but then he paused before activating it.

“Now, you’ll still need to have a care with what you do,” he admonished. “Just because you erase people’s memories doesn’t mean you aren’t still changing things in the timeline. This just helps you reduce the damage.”

She nodded.

“And you need to be careful crossing the Void. Make sure to keep an eye on the fragmentation of the temporal streams, like I told you. And run that targeting diagnostic–you don’t want to just pop out in the middle of an asteroid field.”

“Yes, Mum,” she said, grinning and rolling her eyes. “It’ll be alright. We’ll be careful, I promise. You just worry about showing up at my door in the morning to deal with that plastic arm. Can’t let the Autons go around colonizing the Earth.”

“Yeah,” he agreed softly. He looked like maybe there was something else he wanted to say, but the silence just stretched out, and Rose felt compelled to fill it.

“Well. Better get going.” She edged past him, moving to fetch her shoulder pack off the floor. “Thank you, though,” she added seriously as she walked back to him. “For all your help. Running into you today, it was…” But the only words that fit would sound crazy, or desperate, or both. She couldn’t explain to him what it meant to see him again, not when he had barely met her properly. So instead she just finished lamely, “…nice. Really, really nice.”

Oh, brilliant. When she got back to the proper Doctor, he was going to laugh his head off, remembering this.

The whole conversation was incredibly awkward–how do you say goodbye to the man you love, Rose wondered, before he’s had a chance to get to know you? Friendly handshake? A hug? There was probably some sort of special time-traveling protocol for this sort of thing, but she had no idea what it might be. (Jack would’ve known, she thought regretfully.)

Finally, it was his face that decided things, his expression a near-perfect copy of the one he would wear tomorrow evening when he asked her to come with him. It was all written right there, hope and fear and a desperate need for contact that she couldn’t let go unanswered.

Rose leaned in with one hand on his chest to steady herself, intending to press a kiss to his cheek. And maybe she cheated just a bit, aiming a little more toward center, or maybe he turned slightly. Either way, her lips caught the corner of his mouth, lingering a half-second too long to be entirely chaste.

Under her hand, she felt the Doctor inhale sharply, and she quickly pulled away.

“Sorry.” She blushed and stammered, backing away until she bumped into the railing. “I didn’t mean to…anyway. I…well, I guess I should be going. Probably shouldn’t keep Control waiting too long, and–”

She kept babbling, even as he stepped toward her, and she reached out a hand, thinking maybe he was going to hand her the ret-con device…

“–and who knows, maybe we’ll see each other again, and–”

…But no, he was setting it down on the console….

“–and thank you for all your help and all, you were–”

…And moving toward her again, hands reaching up, maybe he was going to hug her, moving in closer and closer….

“–were really fantast–”

He kissed her.

Fingers cupping her jaw, angling her mouth up so that he could catch her top lip between his. His hands had rigged explosives, torn the arms off plastic dummies, performed percussive maintenance, but in this they were gentle, thumbs brushing lightly across the apples of her cheeks.

There was a muffled thump as her pack hit the floor.

It wasn’t fair, it wasn’t remotely fair that he should do this now, right before she had to walk out the door, she thought as she fisted her hands in the soft wool of his jumper. As she pulled him in closer, tighter. It had been years since they were together, and for all she knew, it would be years before they were reunited, but he was going to get to go for chips with her in less than a day and not kiss her at the end of their first date.

So he had no business making that noise, that hungry, needful sound, as he ran his tongue over her lip. She caught his lower lip in her teeth, gave it a good hard suck.

Yeah. That’d show him.

His hands dropped to her waist as she opened her mouth for him, those clever fingers finding belt loops, tracing a line of skin at the edge of her trousers. He broke the kiss for a moment to boost her up onto the railing, putting her at eye level, and there was absolutely no question at all that she would part her thighs, make room for him to stand in-between to snog her good and proper. Her arms looped around his neck, his hands slid up her back, gripping her jacket just below her shoulder blades.

She thought she should stop. She thought she should let him go. And she thought about how the next time he kissed her, it would be to swallow death from her lips, and with a groan, hooked her ankles around his waist. His hipbones pressed into her thighs, and her fingers found the skin at the back of his neck, and oh, it was good. It was so very good.

A significant amount of time passed before they finally broke apart, and Rose thought that maybe she’d managed to ace the time-traveler’s goodbye after all.

She pressed her forehead to his, a little breathless. “Well.”

He licked his lips. “Yeah.”

“Didn’t you just meet me today?”

He bumped his nose against hers. “Well, there’s that, I suppose. But…” He pulled back to look in her eyes. “It’s there.”

“I’ll say it is,” she said emphatically, and he flashed a grin.

“No, I mean, I already know that…” He paused.


“I already know that I’ll... That you…you matter.” He traced the curve of her cheek with his knuckles. “You matter, Rose. I can tell.”

She blinked away the tears that were threatening. “Yeah?”

“Yeah,” he agreed as he pressed another soft kiss to her lips. And another. And another, only stopping when she pulled back to wipe a hand over her eyes.

She didn’t want to go, but it was time. And the longer she stayed, the harder it would be. She gave him a weak smile. “I’d better…”

“Yeah.” He released her, holding out a hand so that she could hop off the railing, and she gave him a quick, fierce hug once she’d landed on her feet.

The Doctor squeezed her back and then let go. “S’pose we ought to get this finished.” He retrieved the ret-con device from the edge of the console and then sat down on the floor with it on his lap.

“Alright,” he said seriously, “I’m going to start it up now. As soon as the light turns off, don’t speak to me–just take the box and go.”

She nodded.

He smiled at her. “Goodbye, Rose.”

She gave him a wobbly smile in return. “Goodbye, Doctor.”

His eyes closed as he began the process of blocking his own memories. About twenty seconds in, he pressed the button to start the scan. A red light shot out of it, illuminating his face, and the device made a series of hums and clicks. After another minute, the light shut off.

The Doctor was sitting completely still, his eyes still shut, and when Rose reached for the scanner, it came away easily from his limp fingers. As quietly as possible, Rose put it into her shoulder pack and, shrugging it on, walked down the ramp to the TARDIS doors.

Just before she left, she looked back. His face was peaceful, serene, waiting, and it was that image that she kept in her mind as she closed the TARDIS doors, activated her dimensional jump, and stepped through the darkness into another world.