SPOILER WARNING: HUGE SPOILERS FOR THE 50TH ANNIVERSARY EPISODE. Do not read if you haven't seen the episode.
Set during the Ninth Doctor (Christopher Eccleston, not John Hurt). Starts directly after the episode with Adam in Satelite Five.
Disclaimer: Doctor Who isn't mine and I'm making no money out of this (sadly).
The Doctor finished the dematerialization sequence and let the TARDIS drift in the time vortex for awhile. They had just dropped Adam off back in his proper time. It had been a long day for both of them. Rose probably needed to rest. Besides, he could use the down time to do some maintenance on the TARDIS that he had been putting off for awhile.
"I'm sorry," Rose said as she rounded the console and stood next to him.
"For what?" The Doctor turned to look at her in confusion. She was all smiles before back when they were at Adam's house, but now that that they were alone, her expression turned contrite. Almost guilty, even.
"It was my idea to take him along," Rose said while fiddling absent-mindedly with the post-it note he pasted on the monitor.
"Wasn't your fault, Rose. You couldn't have known what he'd do," said the Doctor. He couldn't have her blaming herself for what Adam did. All she wanted to do was to show the idiot boy the stars. It wasn't her fault he turned out to be a selfish ape. In fact, if Rose hadn't stopped the Doctor earlier, he would have done more to the boy than merely destroying his phone and leaving him there. The Doctor wasn't just angry that Adam nearly changed history. He was angry because the boy had taken advantage of Rose's trust and generosity for his own selfish gains.
"Yeah, but—" Rose's voice was cut off when the console beeped. They both looked up when the screen flashed a message in Gallifreyan.
"What?" The Doctor muttered in surprise.
"Doctor? What's going on?" Rose asked since the TARDIS refused to translate the message to her.
"I've got a call," the Doctor replied. His voice shook slightly. Hope filled him. A call from another TARDIS? But… only Time Lords could control a TARDIS. Could it be…? "No... no, that's impossible."
They're all dead. I'm the only one left.
"From who?" Rose asked.
Instead of answering, the Doctor pressed the button to answer the call. The image of a young man wearing a pinstriped suit popped up on the screen.
"Hello, me! Yes, I'm you. The next regeneration. I—" The new man's voice trailed off when he spotted Rose. A look of anguish crossed his face. "Rose.."
"Who are you?" Rose asked.
"He's me." The Doctor couldn't help but feel a pang of disappointment. It wasn't another Time Lord. It was only himself from the future. He was still alone, after all. Still the only one left.
"But… how could he be you? You look so different." Rose stared between the two men in confusion.
"Regeneration. It's a trick Time Lords have. My whole body changes when I'm dying. And apparently, I turn into a pretty boy," The Doctor glared at his next self. "What do you think you're doing? You can't just cross your own time stream!"
The new pinstriped Doctor was still looking at Rose with a strange look of longing in his eyes. The current Doctor snapped his fingers and said, "Oi! Pretty boy! Focus!"
"Right! Sorry!" The pinstriped Doctor blinked and turned his attention back to his past self. His gaze turned serious. "You won't remember this afterwards, but… we need to go to Gallifrey."
The current Doctor froze. "You know that's not possible."
"What's Gallifrey? Doctor?" Rose asked.
"It's… my home planet. Home of the Time Lords," answered the pinstriped Doctor.
Rose's eyes widened in surprise. She turned to her current Doctor and asked, "But… you said your planet is gone."
"It is gone. And not just gone, completely erased from all of time and space. I can't go back. Not ever. No one can. Gallifrey is time locked," the current Doctor answered while glaring at his future self.
"Not yet it isn't," his pinstriped self answered mysteriously.
"What do you mean?" The current Doctor looked at his future self in confusion.
He listened as his future self explained what had happened and what he and his two other selves planned to do to save Gallifrey. By the time he finished, the current Doctor's eyes widened. Something fluttered in the bottom of his hearts. Something he hadn't felt in a very, very long time.
"All this time, I thought Gallifrey burned. Punished myself for it." The leather-jacket Doctor muttered as memories of the Time War flashed in his mind. He felt a soft hand slip into his and turned to see Rose smiling at him.
"Now you won't have to. Not anymore." Rose squeezed his hand. His gaze softened. His hearts swelled at the sight of her. She was the one who brought him out of his misery after the Time War. She was the one who stopped him from killing that Dalek in Van Statten's museum. Without her, he wasn't sure what sort of man he would have turned into. With a smile, he realized that there was no one else he would rather have at his side as he saved his own people and finally absolve himself of his guilt, even if he wouldn't remember it afterwards.
He turned to his future self and said, "Let's do it."
The pinstriped Doctor smiled for the first time. He turned to look at Rose and said, "Rose, you won't remember this, but… if this is my last chance to say it… Rose Tyler, I…" He took a deep breath, as if he was gathering his nerves for what he was about to say. He looked her in the eye and said, "I love you. Always have."
Rose touched the screen almost reverently. The pinstriped Doctor reached out his hand to touch the screen, as if doing so would allow him to touch her once more.
Meanwhile, the current Doctor replayed his future self's words over and over in his mind. His last chance. Fear began to fill his hearts. What happened to Rose in his future? Did she die? Or did she grow tired of him and decided to go home for good?
He was going to lose her. He would regain Gallifrey but lose Rose.
Was it even worth it? Regain his people, only to lose the woman he loved?
He turned to his future self to ask, but before he could do so, his future self gave him a two-fingered salute and cut the transmission off.
"Doctor?" Rose squeezed his hand and brought him out of his stupor.
"Right. Gallifrey." He took a deep breath, then set the coordinates for the planet he never thought he would ever see again.
Somewhere in a parallel London filled with zeppelins, Rose Tyler suddenly woke up in the middle of the night. A hazy memory was replaying in her mind. The details were vague, but she could have sworn she saw her pinstriped Doctor tell her that he loved her.
But that's impossible. He never got to finish that sentence. It must have been her wishful thinking creating false memories for her. With a sigh, she shook her head and glanced at the clock. Only two hours left before she had to get up and go to Torchwood.
But she would see him again. She hoped.
Because today, she would finally be able to test the new dimension cannon Torchwood was building.
Today, she was going home.