When Rose woke up she was very aware of the Doctor lying next to her, holding her tightly from behind. She turned over, meeting his wide awake face. "There's no way you slept last night."
"Nope. I finished the lecture, put Jack to bed, and then did some snooping about. I just thought I'd be here when you woke up."
"Snooping around where? Did we learn anything about Professor Edwards?"
"Not from my tapes. Great to listen to, mind you, the man was an absolute genius, but nothing seemed off about him."
"Couldn't we just pop back a few months and ask him if he thought he was in danger?"
"Established events. We know it's happened, can't be changed now or we'd have no reason to go back and ask. Great big old paradox. Maybe your mother was right."
Rose stared at him.
"Well, you know, just about this being humans attacking humans. Not about anything else. Ever."
"Could be. Where do we go then?
"Anywhere," he shrugged. "There's so much to see. I have a million things I still want to show you, and a billion things to show Jack."
She smiled. "So we travel. We show him everything, twice, and then find something else to do."
"That could take a while," the Doctor smiled back. "I've been at it seven hundred years and I've only seen a small portion of the universe."
"Then we better get started," Rose teased.
He leaned forward and kissed her on the nose, then heard the sound of a door slamming loudly next to their room. They heard footsteps running, getting quieter, then disappearing. Rose frowned, jumping out of the bed and peering down the hallway.
"Jack?' she called.
The Doctor slid behind her and opened Jack's door. "He's gone."
Her heart sank. Why would Jack leave? How would he know where to go? Had someone taken him? "Jack!" Rose called, running down the hallway.
They barreled toward the control room, not sure what they would see. Rose's heart beat faster and faster, whipping around the archway to the face the TARDIS controls. There, running his hands appreciatively over the controls, stood Jack. His wide-eyed grin turned to face her, and he waved excitedly.
"Morning, Mum! Morning, Doctor!"
Rose stared at him. "Um…good morning, Jack. You…you're talking?"
"Oh, yes! The music was a big help, loved the music. Took me a bit to catch on—got a good night's sleep though, just what I needed," he said, peering intently at the time rotor.
The Doctor went to move past Rose, but she caught his arm. "He's talking," she whispered. "He could barely form sentences last night."
"Fast learner," the Doctor said gently, patting her on the arm. "He was already learning at an accelerated, exponential rate. We left home alone for eight hours, did you expect him to just stop thinking in his sleep?"
"I know what this is!" Jack said excitedly, pressing his face up against the glass of the time rotor. "The coordinate setter, the zig-zag plotter, the door release—it's all so beautiful!"
"I know, right?" the Doctor said excitedly, tapping the machine lovingly.
"How do you know what any of this is?" Rose said worriedly. She took hold of his face and stared him. "Do you feel okay? Do you need to sit down?"
He giggled a bit. "Last night, Mum, something weird happened. I remember being in bed and the Doctor was telling me a story, then everything went dark. Suddenly I was standing in a big, um… a large open space with grass in it, what's that?"
"A meadow," the Doctor said from the controls. "You dreamt about a meadow."
"Oh, meadow, med-ow, I like that. Anyway, I was standing in meadow made of red grass, and the sky was all reddish…well more like a mix between red and yellow…is there a word for that?"
The Doctor wasn't looking at the controls anymore. He stared at Jack, his mouth slightly open. Rose tried to read his expression, but there was something so painful about it, she had to look away. "Orange. The sky was orange."
"Right," Jack grinned, not noticing the pain on his father's face. "It was so warm and wonderful. I walked a long time and found this big shining glass place. It was great, and when I woke up I saw this next to me." He pulled a watch from his pocket, holding it up for her to inspect it.
She looked over the watch, looking at him quizzically. He was grinning madly, expectantly, as if at any minute she would agree with him about something. "So…you found a watch?"
His face fell a bit, then he started to talk very fast. "No, not a watch, Mum. Time! I understand it—oh, isn't it wonderful? Millennia dropping to centuries and then to decades and years and seasons and months and days and hours and minutes and seconds and microseconds and on and on forever and ever, always getting bigger or smaller in every direction! Time! It's gorgeous, I don't know how I ever didn't know about it. It's elastic and firm, and simple and complex, oh Mum! Why didn't you tell me about it? You must love it as much as I do, but even more because you've had longer to appreciate it!"
Rose set the watch in his hand, patting it gently. "Time's lovely, yeah. I like traveling through it, at least. I guess I hadn't really given the concept itself much thought. It's a bit complicated."
Jack frowned, looking at her crookedly. "I don't…why don't you understand? You know everything and if I know this you must know even more. I bet you know everything about the TARDIS. I know how they work, in theory. I saw them in my head, I saw everything about them on that planet. They travel, right? Have you traveled a lot, Mum? All over time and space?"
"Some," she smiled. "Your dad takes me all sorts of interesting places."
Jack grinned again, spinning around to the Doctor. "Can we travel, Doctor? Could we visit that planet I saw?"
The Doctor tensed up, hiding his face from Jack for a moment. "No…no we can't visit there Jack."
"Why?" he asked, his eyes rounding disappointedly.
"That was Gallifrey, Jack. It's where I'm from. We can't go there."
"It's a planet, isn't it? It was so big and wide and wonderful, the TARDIS could take us there—"
"Jack," Rose cut in quickly, "why don't you go put on something a bit warmer? We were considering visiting the Olympics, but if we go the Winter Olympics you could see snow! Wouldn't that be lovely, Jack?"
"It's okay, Rose," the Doctor said with a sad smile. "Do you mind if I talk to Jack alone for a minute?"
She kissed the Doctor on the cheek, then Jack, and nodded. "I'll get dressed. Call if you need me."
"What's wrong?" Jack blinked, staring at the Doctor with his head slightly tilted. "Why can't you take me to Gallifrey? It's your home, don't you like it there?"
"Oh, yes. Very much. It was beautiful, just like you said. I wish you could see it for real—but it's gone, Jack. Gallifrey doesn't exist anymore."
"Where did it go?"
"It…there was a war, Jack. A terrible war that raged across the entire universe. The Daleks would have stopped at nothing to control everything—"
"What's a Dalek?" Jack asked innocently.
The Doctor flinched, squeezing one of the controls a little too hard. "They're…hard to explain. The war could have destroyed everything, killed everyone, but it was stopped. The price for stopping the war was Gallifrey, and all the people who lived on it. The Time Lords, that's what they were called, they're all gone. The meadow, the citadel, they burned into nothing. You're standing on the very last TARDIS in existence. That home is gone, Jack, and we can't ever go there."
Jack stared at the ground, thinking for a minute. "If you're from there, you're a Time Lord. Then, why are you still alive?"
The Doctor sighed. "I was the one…Jack, I had to. I'm sorry, I'm so, so sorry, I burned your home into cinders to save the universe. I'm the last one. Well," he smiled a bit, "not anymore, I suppose. Now we have you, too."
"You destroyed a planet?" Jack asked slowly. "Is… Is that what we do? Do we stop planets that need to be stopped?"
"No," the Doctor said quickly, "I'm never violent, almost never. Violence is not the answer Jack, we never carry weapons. There's always a way to get out of fighting, there's always a way to be better than that, please remember that."
"Except for that time?"
The Doctor squeezed his son's wrist sadly. "I'm sorry, it's a bit confusing. Just, please remember that violence is not the answer."
"Okay, I understand. You can't be the last, though," he said suddenly, "What about Mum? She's a Time Lord, or a Time Lady I suppose. At least you have her."
The Doctor raised an eyebrow. "Jack, your mother's not a—"
"Who says I'm not?" Rose asked walking in with a new outfit and a bright smile. "I might be the smartest Time Lady that ever lived, you don't know."
"And how long have you been listening in?" The Doctor teased.
"Not long," she said slyly, pulling a warm jacket over Jack's shoulders and wrapping a very long scarf around his neck. "I'm not a Time Lady, Jack. Just a regular human from Earth, not important like you two."
"Yes, you are," the Doctor said sweetly. "You're fantastic. You're the Bad Wolf, you're Rose Tyler, and you're—"
"Okay, I see the point," Rose brushed him off, fastening up Jack's button for him.
"I can do that myself, Mum. I'm pretty big, look at these giant hands. I could put on this…whatever this thing is. Dress, is that the right word?"
"Just watch me the first time, I've got it,' she insisted, waving his hands away. "It's a jacket. Dresses are something entirely different."
"Oh, got my name in it," he said excitedly. "Wait, why do you call it getting dressed, then?"
"I'm just saying," the Doctor interrupted, "there isn't a single person in the universe who isn't important. You are no exception, if anything you're doubly interesting, Rose."
Jack was looking back and forth between them. "So I'm part human, too? Part Time Lord and part human? What am I, then?"
"Don't exactly know," the Doctor said, clapping him on the shoulders. "Isn't that exciting?"
"But I'm different," Jack asked, following his father as he started to run erratically back and forth around the controls, pulling certain ones. "How many are there, like me?"
"None. Not ever. You're unique, Jack, an impossible thing."
"Is that good?"
"Of course it's good! Impossible is always good!" the Doctor said too loudly, throwing a lever back. The time rotor whirled, shaking the TARDIS around them.
"Which Olympic year are we going to?" Rose asked, grabbing a railing to avoid falling over.
"Not sure yet, we'll head there next," the Doctor said, catching the rail next to her and slipping his arm around her waist. "Got to make a quick stop first. You drained some of the time energy out of the floorboards, remember? We've got to make a quick stop in Cardiff, fill up at the rift. Then we'll be off."
Jack laughed excitedly, landing with a thump onto the padded bench of the other side of the room. There was so much to see in the universe, and he was ready for it.
Captain Jack Harkness was sitting at his desk in what would eventually be the Torchwood Hub. This was more work than he had counted on, trying to put together a team to help in Cardiff. And now, with his computer genius missing… it wasn't looking good. His new medical doctor, Owen Harper, was downstairs. That new guy Ianto was around, he might send for some coffee in a bit. There was so much to do, so many plans to make, so many decisions that needed addressed.
But they would have to wait.
Because, at that moment, the hand sitting next to him in a jar began to jerk and bubble. He stared at it, dropping his pen onto his desk. The Doctor was coming. He jumped from the desk, grabbing his coat and the jar, racing out of his office.