The Doctor paced around the TARDIS console slowly. The room hadn't gotten any smaller, but the walls suddenly felt closer. There was no Donna, no Martha, Jack - Rose - to push the walls back, their smiles and chatter and personalities filling the spaces, stretching the atmosphere... Everyone was gone. Left behind or sent home against their will.

It was beter this way though, definitely better. The Doctor loved his companions, more than he should, probably. He loved every last one, even Mickey the Not-Such-an-Idiot; even Captain Jack Harkness, for all he liked to push the Doctor's buttons. He loved them all so much that his heart ached sometimes. So much that he would let himself abandon them, for their own good. So much that he would let them walk away instead of fighting, begging. So much that he would push them away. So much that he never cried, for fear of missing them even harder. So much that he often refused to look back, because that did hurt. It hurt, loving as hard as the Doctor did. He didn't understand why he kept letting himself get hurt like this, why he kept hurting himself. Didn't understand why he didn't just follow the laws of his people and Not Interfere. Just Observe.

Probably because he loved too much and too hard. Maybe because he knew they made him better.

With a heart-heavy sigh, the Doctor began the dematerialization sequence, ready to just sit for a few hours - or weeks - in the time vortex. He was in a mood, one that a human just might call sulking, but Time Lords do not sulk, and felt like he deserved a bit of time to Not-Sulk (even if the TARDIS disagreed. Too bad). The Doctor was halfway finished when a distinct, yet gentle knocking echoed throughout the console room.

"What?" he sighed wearily. He glanced, concerned and confused at the doorway, watching it. There was no one left, no other lives to continue ruining, no one to barge into the TARDIS begging for a ride or set on vengeance. Well, no one except for Sylvia and Wilf Noble, and while the Doctor didn't have the best track record with mothers, he was fairly certain he was finished with the Noble family.

So who would be knocking?

Again, the knock echoed, now a harsh series of demanding slams against the wood, as opposed to the question of permission from before. The Doctor narrowed his eyes and stalked over, ready to give the culprit what-for.

"What?!" he nearly growleed, making sure to project a man who was not meant to be messed with, a man with over nine-hundred years, a man too tired and too hurting to deal with anything else. However, standing on the other side of the door, was not an angry mother or self-entitled companion, was not a dalek or hostile alien, was not anyone willing to re-break his heart or further try his patience. On the other side of the door was a short girl with blonde hair and bright eyes filled with wonder. Her face held a worried quite possibly even fearful expression, which quickly morphed into one of the most brilliant smiles.

"Dad!" she cried, excitement written into every one of her features. She threw her arms around the Doctor and he staggered backwards from both Jenny's weight and his own shock.

"What?" he softly gasped.