Title: Hour of Darkness
Characters/Pairing: Ninth Doctor/Rose Tyler, Torchwood, Alt!Torchwood
Rating: PG-13 ish?
Summary: The Ninth Doctor returns to London with Rose Tyler, only to find that an alternate world is bleeding over into the original, and bringing with it all its dangers and threats…and heroes. AU rewrite of Doomsday, part of A Man Who Wasn't There series.
Disclaimer: I don't own anything, BBC owns it all.
Many many thanks to Stephanie G for her excellent beta reading.
Deep in the basement of Torchwood Tower, Mickey Smith was pacing in his holding room.
Brigitta Osgood watched, trying to smile comfortingly but mostly managing to look nervous.
In the corner, Tommy Connolly was playing with his iPhone. The Doctor had gotten him one when they stopped by the Olympics in 2012, and Tommy was terribly addicted to Angry Birds. "Pacing isn't going to make them come back any faster," he pointed out casually. "The Doctor is off being clever, Rose is off being wonderful, and they'll sort it all out."
"You've got confidence."
"Well, they're brilliant."
Mickey gave him a long, hard look. "Is he takin' care of her?"
"Rose is fantastic," Tommy said, finally looking up from his phone. "But she belongs with the Doctor. In every sense. Is this why you volunteered to have us turned into prisoners? To poke at me and ask about Rose?"
"Nah, just figured since we were here an' all." He shrugged. "I know Rose well enough, she wasn't gonna leave and I'd rather not get shot over her bein' stubborn. So I offered us up, let them sort out the politics. We can wait out the fight; they come let us out whenever the Doctor's decided humans can be trusted with our own destinies again."
Brigitta cleared her throat.
"I'm not being jealous," Mickey said firmly.
"Didn't suggest you were," she replied. "But the Doctor did destroy the particle engines, right?"
"Right," Tommy agreed.
"So, the ghosts shouldn't be here?"
The boys stared through the small window at the ghosts forming a nearly military formation in the hall beyond.
"That's…probably not good," Tommy said, after a long moment. When they turned solid, revealing themselves to be men of solid metal, he amended his statement. "Definitely not good."
"Those are Cybermen," Brigitta whispered in awe, peering out at the metal monsters. She pushed her glasses back up her nose and huddled down beside Mickey, wrapping her arms around him tightly. Her actions were nervous, but her voice was calm. "They pull out your brains and stick them inside those metal bodies and turn you into them. At least some of those things are probably human."
"You're scary sometimes, babe," Mickey said. "Found that on the internet?"
"There's really a lot of information if you know where to look," she replied. "I'm not just a pretty face you know."
"Yeah, I know," he said. He grinned at her and kissed the tip of her nose. "'S why I love you."
She blinked in shock.
"Oh, God." Tommy sounded like he was going to be ill. "Could you not, really, for a bit? We're in mortal danger, honestly."
"Now who's jealous?" Mickey asked, grinning a bit at him. Tommy rolled his eyes.
"Think you could pick this lock?" Brigitta asked suddenly, peering at the door handle. "I want to know where they're going."
Mickey shrugged and started digging through his pockets. "Can't hurt to try, yeah?"
In the central command of Torchwood Tower, the Cybermen approached the Earth's contingent.
"You will talk to your central world authority and order global surrender," the Cyberleader commanded.
Yvonne Hartman met the eyeless stare of the metal men. "Oh, do some research," she said. "We haven't got a central world authority."
"You have now. I will speak on all wavelengths."
The Doctor once again pulled out the 3D glasses and propped them on his nose, glancing surreptitiously at the Cybermen in the room. He quickly put the glasses away again.
The Cyberleader's voice echoed through the room from every speaker. "This broadcast is for human kind. Cybermen now occupy every land mass on this planet. But you need not fear. Cybermen will remove fear. Cybermen will remove sex and colour and creed. You will become identical. You will become like us."
The message ended, and after a pause the Cyberleader turned to the Doctor. "I ordered surrender."
"An' what, you're surprised that they rebelled?" he scoffed, looking out the window at the panic below. "They took your emotions, not your memories, an' you were human once. Could you really expect them to give up when you come after their children?"
"Humanity will learn." With these rather ominous words the leader turned and walked away.
"Scans detect unknown technology active within sphere chamber." An unidentifiable metal man alerted the leader.
"Cybermen will investigate," another replied.
"Visual contact established."
They could see through the eyes of the Cyberman as it approached the sphere containment room, and as the enemy came into view the Doctor went rigid. Rose Tyler was at his side in a moment, her fingers slipping into his, but his tension didn't ease.
On the computer screen, a small copper creature was arguing with the cyber man. "State your identity!" it demanded.
"You will identify first," the Cyberman replied.
"Illogical, you will modify."
"Daleks do not take orders!"
"It's my worst nightmare, come to London," the Doctor said softly, just a bit of wonder in his voice. "My two greatest enemies in the city I love best."
Rose's fingers tightened around the Doctor's as the Cybermen proposed an alliance. "We've beat 'em both apart, we can beat 'em both together," she said, voice low and soothing.
"I'm so sorry, Rose," he said. "No matter what I do, they just keep comin'. The Daleks against the Doctor, an' it's never gonna stop."
"Not your fault," she said firmly. "You hear me? This has never been your fault. We'll get out of this."
He took long slow breaths as the Daleks and the Cybermen on the screen began to attack one another.
"Maybe they'll just kill each other off?" she suggested hopefully.
"All of humanity caught in the crossfire?" he replied, shaking his head. His tone was still mournful. "The whole planet will burn."
"It looks like a big copper rubbish bin," Tommy whispered.
"'S that supposed to be scary?" Mickey asked. "Pepper pot with a sucker?"
Brigitta shrugged and they all watched as the creature argued with the Cyberman. Mickey stiffened and paled when the word 'Dalek' was mentioned. They had come across it once or twice, partially obscured in documents that had been mostly redacted, but he clearly knew more than she did. "What's a Dalek?" she asked, turning to her boyfriend.
"It's a thing that the Doctor's afraid of," Mickey replied, backing into the hall and pulling her with him. That was explanation enough, and they followed willingly. Once they were safely back in their cell, he explained what he knew. "Last year, the Doctor was fightin' 'em in the future, the distant future. Thought he was gonna die, so he sent Rose back in the TARDIS. Only he didn't count on her bein' stubborn, an' she literally tore open the ship to get back to him. She don't remember what happened, but the Doctor told us she destroyed the Daleks an' saved the planet. But she died. And then got better. And no one knows why."
"Well, don't complain about it!" Tommy said sharply.
"Pretty much what Jackie says," Mickey replied. "But me, I want to know why a girl dies and then wakes up again. That's something that tends to bug me."
"Would me, too," Brigitta agreed with a shrug. "Because if you wake up from being dead all of a sudden, what's to keep you from dying all of a sudden again?"
"See, my girl gets it!" Mickey crowed. She beamed at him.
Tommy sighed. "Again. Mortal danger."
"Right." Mickey cleared his throat. "Daleks. Bad things. Really bad. Rose wouldn't ever talk about what they were like. Said they were enemies of the Doctor is all. But she was terrified of 'em."
"We should probably not bring him up, then," Tommy suggested.
The others nodded.
Brigitta pulled out her inhaler and took a deep, nervous breath. "I don't like waiting in here to be found," she said, after a long minute. "I feel exposed."
"Yeah," Mickey agreed, standing and peering through the door again. "Look, hall's clear, the Daleks killed the Cybermen and went back in with the sphere, maybe we could make a break for it?"
Brigitta and Tommy nodded, and they slowly pulled the door open.
"Alright, where to, then?" Brigitta asked as they crept down the hall, creeping close to the walls and peering around corners to avoid detections.
"Upstairs, back to Doctor and Rose?" Tommy suggested.
"That's where all the soldiers were!" Mickey objected.
"Rather soldiers than Cybermen," Tommy pointed out.
Mickey and Brigitta exchanged glances and then shrugged and slowly moved toward the bank of lifts.
"Hostile life forms detected!"
The human trio whirled around and froze, spotting the Dalek directly behind them.
"Wait!" Tommy shouted. "Wait, Dalek!"
It paused, blue-lit eye rotating slightly between them. "Identify," it commanded.
"I'm Tommy, this is Mickey and Brigitta." He gestured at his new friends. He forced an awkward smile and waggled his fingers. "Hello!"
Mickey did not look amused.
"You are familiar with Daleks," said the alien. "Explain."
"We got mutual connections," Mickey interrupted. Tommy shot him a dark look, and he shrugged.
"You will explain."
"You will explain."
"Not gonna happen."
"Explain or the female will die." The Dalek rolled forward, its plunger extended toward Brigitta. She shrieked and jumped backward; Mickey immediately threw himself between her and armoured monster.
"Fine!" He was breathing heavily, eyes locked on the deadly extremities of the alien. "I know this alien who travels a lot. He mentioned you once."
"He?" The Dalek's voice showed inflection for the first time since its appearance in the hall. "IDENTIFY HIM!"
"He's called the Doctor."
It was like he had shocked the Dalek with a cattle prod. It rolled back a good ten feet, its eye stalk now swivelling between the trio frantically. "The Doctor?"
"Yeah." Mickey cleared his throat. "An' he's right upstairs."
"Threat level elevated!" The Dalek's voice wobbled. "You will follow and obey! You will advise Dalek Sec of the Doctor's activities!"
"Oh, brilliant," Tommy muttered under his breath as they followed the creature. "You first get us taken prisoner by Torchwood and now by Daleks. Can you stop making decisions for us?"
"Don't let's start fighting now," Brigitta said sharply. "We stick together, thick or thin, alright?"
Mickey laced his fingers through hers and gripped her hand tightly. "You got it, babe."
The Doctor was doing his very level best to appear calm, and rapidly failing. "Alright, we've got four Daleks downstairs and five million Cybermen around the world. Humanity is about seven billion, plus you an' me. I've got a sonic screwdriver, the TARDIS and in a pinch we can call your mother. Am I missing anything?"
"Could you put in a call to UNIT?" Rose suggested, rubbing her thumb soothingly along his knuckles. "Haven't they got anyone that could help?"
"No one left but retirees." He shrugged. "And wouldn't interrupt the Brigadier's tea for somethin' silly as this, now, would I?"
"Guess not," she agreed. They all tensed as communication to the Daleks ceased, and the Cybermen's attention returned to their immediate captives.
"Quarantine the sphere chamber. Start emergency upgrading." The Cyberleader gestured to Yvonne and Rose. "Begin with these personnel."
Before they knew what to do, metal arms had encircled all three of them. Rose screamed as she was lifted from her feet and carried from the room, fighting every step.
"Rose!" The scream tore from the Doctor's throat, all gravel and agony.
"No, you can't do this!" Yvonne shrieked. "We surrendered, we surrendered!"
"This one's increased adrenaline suggests he has vital Dalek information." The leader gestured to the Doctor.
"Don't you touch her!" he shouted, fighting frantically to reach Rose again, to reclaim his grip on her fingers, to regain the little comfort she had been able to offer and feel the warmth of her blood beating life under her skin. He stopped suddenly, eyes blazing with steel blue fire. "You are going to let her go."
"We do not fear you."
"You'd best understand, then. This is your reality. I'm a monster. I'm the thing the demons fear finding under their beds. And if Rose Tyler is not returned to me, I will not be responsible for my own actions."
The Cyberleader was unmoving for several long moments. "Emergency upgrades will continue as scheduled."
"Alright." He grinned suddenly. "Makes everything simple, doesn't it?"
It walked away in silence, leaving the Doctor to stare at the door his precious girl had disappeared through, his mind running along all the myriad of possible timelines wherein he never saw her again.
"You are proof."
He looked up. He hadn't even noticed the Cyberman approach. "Of?"
"That emotions destroy you."
"Oh, I am, that." His brow drew together in a bit of confusion as something shimmered in the rift. "'Course, there're a few good ones out there. Hope, for instance."
In an instant the room was filled with chaos. Men who were clearly highly trained in combat and heavily armed had the Cybermen overtaken in mere moments.
A pair approached the Doctor and in perfect sync removed their masks. The Doctor blinked and then scowled. "Jake? And Mickey?"
"It's Ricky," the man in question replied instantly.
"The Cybermen came through from one world to another - and so did we." Jake stood proudly, leaning into Ricky's space. "Good to see you again, Doctor." He straightened. "Defend this room. Chrissie, monitor communications."
"If the Cyberleader is the dead, they'll just download to another," Ricky explained, moving quickly to the door. "We gotta get goin'."
"An' you just, what, jump from one universe to another?" the Doctor demanded angrily. "You can't do that."
"We just did, with these." Jake tossed a contraption at the Doctor. It looked like a basic large yellow button on a silver chain, hiding several layers of completely impossible technology.
"That's horrible," the Doctor said. "Wrong. Impossible. You can't have this technology."
"We've got our own version of Torchwood," Jake replied. "They developed it."
"Wanna come and take a look?" Ricky suggested, smirking a bit.
"No!" The Doctor lunged for him, but Ricky had already slapped his hand against the button.
The bright light of Yvonne Hartman's Torchwood disappeared, and they were surrounded by a dimly lit copy. The Doctor glanced around; the room looked as if a battle had recently taken place there, with raw materials and weapons strewn about haphazardly.
"Parallel Earth, parallel Torchwood," Jake said. "Except we found out what the institute was doing and the People's Republic took control."
"I haven't got time for this," the Doctor said. "Rose is in danger."
"That would be my daughter." Peter Alan Tyler strode into the room, flanked by soldiers.
"No," the Doctor replied, darkly. "You haven't earned that right."
"But you, Doctor, I still have no idea who you really are."
He smiled grimly. "I'm the Doctor. An' I have to get back to Rose."
"No, you're not in charge here. This is our world, not yours. And you're gonna listen for once."
"Doesn't work like that," the Doctor replied. "You get me back to Rose, an' I help you after I sort our Earth."
Pete stared at him. "Jackie an' I, we have a daughter now," he said, slowly. "Didn't call her Rose. Didn't seem right, after we met you."
The Doctor raised an eyebrow, but waited for him to continue.
"Her name's Hannah, but we call her Poppy." He looked out the window to the city beyond. "When you left this world, you warned us there'd be more Cybermen. So we sealed them inside the factories."
"Except people argued," Jake said. "Said they were living. We should help them." His tone indicated exactly what he thought of such ideas.
"Wouldn't want to do that," the Doctor said, giving him a dark look.
"And the debate went on," Pete continued. "But all that time, the Cybermen made plans. Infiltrated this version of Torchwood, mapped themselves onto your world, and then vanished."
"When was this?" The Doctor was curious despite himself.
"Three years ago."
"Three years," the Doctor marvelled. "Took them three years an' you pop back and forth like it's nothin'. Must be the Cybermen leadin' the way, breakin' the seal on the universes, openin' cracks in the Void for you to follow."
"We spent a lot of time on this," Pete said. He looked down at the zeppelins over London. "A world of peace. They're calling this 'The Golden Age'."
"Who's in charge?"
"A woman called Harriet Jones."
"Well done, there." The Doctor nodded and inched back toward the rift chamber.
"But it's a lie," Pete continued. "Temperatures have risen by two degrees in the past six months. The ice caps are melting. They're saying all this is gonna be flooded. That's not just global warming, is it?"
"It's the breach."
"It's unnatural, breaching the walls like you've done." The Time Lord strode back to the wall. "First the Cybermen an' now you with your buttons. You're letting the Void in bit by bit an' it will boil the entire universe."
"Doctor, I want my girl to have a future. I know that you can find a way to seal the breach."
"An' what, leave five million Cybermen strewn across my Earth?" He snorted. "Nothin' doin'."
"That's your problem. I care about there bein' a world for my daughter to grow up in, an' that's all."
"And Rose?" The Doctor stared steadily at him.
"You said yourself she's not my daughter."
"I think I liked you better when you were a dead man." The Doctor folded his arms across his chest. "Alright, fine, I'll help you." His face hardened. "Now get me back to my London."
Ricky pressed the button on his chest, and all four of them reappeared in the shining white of Torchwood Tower's rift chamber.
The Doctor all but ripped the chain off of his chest and ran for Yvonne's desk, rapidly dialling a long-memorised number into the phone there. He was practically vibrating with nerves as it rang. Once. Twice. Thrice.
"Fat lot of good you are!"
He sagged against the desk, relief written in every inch of him. "How'd you know it was me?"
"There's an invasion of Cybermen, who else is daft enough to phone?" She sounded out of breath, but not particularly frightened. No more so than to be expected anyway.
"I don't know; have you paid your TV license?"
She snorted. "Staircase N-3, if you were curious," she said, still panting. He pulled up a schematic on Yvonne's computer and within seconds had her pinpointed. "I'm on my way down, gotta find Mickey and Tommy. Figured someone had to save my friends while you're swannin' off."
"I wasn't swannin' off!" he objected. "Are you gonna be difficult all day? Takes a bit o' the fun out of the adventure, I'll have you know."
"You love every minute."
"I do." He grinned briefly, and then sobered. "Right, I'm comin' for you, what level are you on?"
"Fourteen," she replied a moment later.
"Hold tight, Rose Tyler."
"Don't I always?"
The Doctor set the receiver down and looked over at Pete. "Ready to save your daughter?"
Pete nodded seriously. "Both of them."
The Doctor grinned. "Anyone got a white flag?"
"You surrender?" The Cyberleader did not quite seem to believe it.
The Doctor smiled broadly, his hands thrust deeply in the pockets of his leather jacket. "I could do," he said. "Or...I could help you defeat the Daleks. Your choice."
The Cyberleader halted. "You would help your enemy?"
"The enemy of my enemy is my temporary ally," he replied glibly.
"Your temporary alliance is accepted."
The Doctor grinned. "Fantastic."
Rose was terrible at waiting.
As far as humans go, she was remarkable. She could take advantage of moment's inattention from the Cybermen and escape from right under their noses and she could run at top speeds for very long periods of time while being chased by aliens from any number of planets. She had many great and wonderful attributes–she was a kind and generous soul who was very clever indeed, but really, she was absolute rubbish at waiting.
She paced along the little landing at level fourteen, looking anxiously up and down the stairs; certain that at any moment a Dalek or a platoon of Cybermen would come along and find her. She was not going out like that. She was going to move on, she could probably get on down and find Mickey and Tommy before the Doctor even got close really–and who knew how long it would take him?
She hadn't realized just how tense she had been until it all drained away. She turned and bounded up the steps, launching herself at the Doctor. For a moment he just held her; her legs dangled over the landing, their noses millimetres apart, smiling at one another.
"Hello," he said. "Stayed out of trouble?"
"Just a bit," she replied. "You?"
"Ran into some friends." He set her back on her feet and she looked past him, her eyes widening.
"Hello, Rose," Pete said. "Long time."
"Dad?" She swallowed. "Sorry. Pete. You're from the other world; you followed the Cybermen, yeah? How's Jackie?"
"Good. She's good." He smiled awkwardly. "We've got a little girl. Poppy Tyler, age two."
Rose let out an awkward laugh. "That's, that's brilliant. Good for you. Brilliant. Yeah. Show me a picture when we're done, eh?"
"Yeah, I'll, uh, I'll do that. Let's go save the world, yeah?"
"Should tell you," the Doctor added casually. "Made an alliance with the Cybermen, might well get us all killed, thought you ought to know."
"Okay," Rose agreed. "Best get a move on."
Although the sphere was still sort of weird and wrong and made Tommy's stomach twist in ways that reminded him entirely too much of Krop Tor, he knew the second the Dalek led them into the room that it had changed. It was…present in a way that it hadn't been before. It seemed to be there, really there, for the first time.
He counted four Daleks, and a bizarre cone-like structure that looked somewhat like one of them and yet not at the same time. It was a similar material at least, and shaped roughly like them, just a bit bigger. He didn't like it either.
"Dalek Sec," their guide said, greeting a solid black alien. "The Doctor is with the Cybermen. These humans have travelled with him."
"You are the Doctor's companions?" Dalek Sec questioned, its eye-stalk turning to them.
Mickey and Tommy exchanged looked and shrugged. "Yeah," Mickey said after a minute. "Yeah, we all are. We're his companions."
"You have travelled in the TARDIS?"
They stopped and stared at one another. "We will tell you that only if you tell us why you want to know," Brigitta said. Another Dalek approached her, a sensor extended at her.
"There is no artron energy detected around the female," it stated.
"Oi, what's that mean?" Mickey wrapped his arm around Brigitta. "What's that?"
"You are not a companion of the Doctor. You have not travelled in time. You will not serve the purpose."
"That's not true," she said, a bit tearfully. "I know him. We're - we're friends. He'll save us."
"Artron energy is detected around the young male." The Dalek turned to Tommy and another appeared behind him, herding him toward the bizarre metal cone. "Your handprint will open the Ark."
"Good to know." He dodged their probes. "Tells me not to touch it."
"You will obey or the Doctor's companions will die."
Tommy looked between Brigitta and Mickey and chewed his lip. "Rose would never forgive me if I let something happen to you," he said.
"Don't. Whatever they want, it's no good, don't!" Mickey held tightly to Brigitta. "They'll kill us anyway! You can't trust a Dalek!"
"Place your hand upon the casket."
"Yeah, I'm doing it," Tommy snapped, turning back to the Daleks. "But you've got to swear that you will keep Mickey and Brigitta safe."
"Daleks do not make promises."
"Then Daleks don't get their Genesis Arks opened!"
"Place your hand–"
"No, if you're gonna kill them anyway, then sod it all!" Tommy threw his hands in the air and paced with frenetic energy. "You're enemies of the Doctor, the man who saved me, and Rose, the most amazing woman in the universe. You think I'm going to help you without some negotiation? No, that's not how this works, you've gotta give me something here!"
There was a long pause. "Your demand will be met. The companions of the Doctor will not be exterminated."
"Okay," Tommy said. He took a deep breath and slowly walked toward the Ark, his hand extended in front of him. "But before I do this, tell me, what's inside?"
"You put your future inside something you couldn't open yourselves?"
"The technology is not ours. It is stolen." Dalek Sec stated. "It was designed by the Time Lords. It is all that remains of their home world."
"An' you took it?" The Doctor's voice was entirely too calm.
Tommy's hand jolted back to his side and he spun around to face the door. "Doctor!"
"Yup," he said, glancing quickly over the trio. "Everyone got all their pieces?"
"Last I checked," Mickey said.
"Good enough." He turned and faced the leader of the Daleks. "Well, you've got my attention. That what you wanted?"
"How did you survive the Time War?"
"I fought." He stared flatly at them. "An' you ran. Guess that puts me up on you."
"The Doctor will activate the Time Lord technology," one of the golden Daleks demanded.
"The Doctor will not!" he laughed.
"You are unarmed!"
"Generally." He raised an eyebrow. "'S this the latest in Dalek fashion?"
"I am Dalek Sec!"
The Doctor blinked. "Oh," he said. "That explains it. Explains a lot. The Cult of Skaro."
"Who are they?" Rose asked.
"A secret society," he said. "It was their job to think like the enemy. Have names, have ideas, have thoughts beyond obeying the Dalek imperative to exterminate. An' you've come out of hidin' at last. You escaped the Time War by sneakin' away in your ship, while the rest of your species burned."
"The Daleks had to survive."
"In cowards like you? You're not worth the Dalek name," he scoffed, circling the Ark. "An' what've you got in there, some sort of bomb? It won't bring back Skaro. Won't bring the rest of the species back - I made sure of that. I burnt your planet an' mine with it." His eyes blazed and the Daleks rolled away from him. "An' I'll do it again if I have to."
"You have no weapons!"
"None," he agreed. "'Course, I've always preferred people to weapons. People are good for a lot more. For example, a weapon can only destroy. But a person can build. A person can create. A person can come when called to."
He held the sonic screwdriver aloft like a beacon and behind him the doors burst open, filling with Torchwood agents and Cybermen alike. It turned ugly quickly. The room echoed with deep metallic clangs of "DELETE" and shrill screams of "EXTERMINATE".
One of the soldiers was thrown clear across the room and slammed into Tommy. The boy tripped and fell backwards, stumbling over Cybermen pieces. His arms pinwheeled through the air as he tried to stabilize himself. He couldn't get his balance back and he fell with limbs so awkwardly positioned he couldn't soften his fall; his skull cracked hard against the base of the Ark.
The others were too far away to see, but Mickey was beside him in a moment, pulling him away from the Dalek casket. "Hey!" he yelled. He cushioned the boy's head in his lap and felt sick - it had been seconds, just seconds, but there was so much blood! "God, Rose, he's hurt!"
Rose came skidding around the Ark, and her face went white. "DOCTOR!" she bellowed.
The Daleks were already leaving - even just the glancing blow of Tommy's skin against the stolen technology had been enough to activate it, and now they were free to use the weapon against London. Rose was kneeling beside Mickey; she had peeled off her hoodie and pressed it against the wound under Tommy's head.
In a moment the room was nearly empty. The Cybermen and most of the Torchwood soldiers were dead, and the Doctor was able to see the blood puddled beneath the boy.
He was at their side a moment later. "Tommy, can you hear me?" He had the sonic screwdriver out and was shining it like a physician's light in the boy's eyes. "Oi, you!"
"'d I touch it?" Tommy's words were heavily slurred.
"Don't worry 'bout that, Tommyboy, just try not to ruin Rose's favourite hoodie now."
"Doctor, there's so much blood," Rose murmured.
"Head wounds, they all bleed like the devil," the Doctor replied. "Mickey and Brigitta, you keep pressure on it, stay with him, keep him conscious if you can. We've got to go."
"We can't leave him!" Rose objected.
"We haven't got time," he said. "Rose, I'm sorry, but we can't stop."
"But…" She stopped herself, took a deep breath, and nodded. She pressed a quick kiss to Tommy's forehead and hopped to her feet, taking her place at the Doctor's side.
"Jake, check the stairwell, you lot, with me!"
Jake grabbed Ricky by the back of the neck and kissed him passionately before running from the room. Brigitta gaped. Slowly her gaze dragged to Mickey, and her eyes narrowed appraisingly. He was staring at his doppelgänger with horror. He felt his girlfriend's scrutiny and his eyes shot to meet hers.
"No!" he said.
A little bit of a smile twitched at her lips, but she quickly refocused on keeping pressure on Tommy's wound, curling her body protectively around him.
In a moment everyone else was gone racing after the Doctor, leaving the little trio huddled alone in the belly of Canary Wharf.
"So, have you got a plan or anything?" Rose asked casually as they raced down the hall.
"You don't trust me to have a plan?" The Doctor sounded offended. "I'm hurt!"
"Is that a 'no', then?"
"Call it a rough draft." He grinned at her. He pulled her to a halt outside of Torchwood's lab and pointed a finger in her face. "Stay put, Rose Tyler. An' don't be difficult, an' don't follow. An' don't wander off."
"Like I was gonna wander off right now!" she replied derisively.
"You've picked worse moments." He grinned a little and opened the door just a crack, letting the sound of Torchwood gunfire and Cyber-rays echo into their chamber. He slid through, moving casually, as if the likelihood of being shot by either group was slim to none.
Rose was scarcely breathing, watching him as he grabbed for a pair of devices that had been pointed out by Ms Hartman earlier that afternoon. Magnaclamps. Alien whatsits that cancelled out mass. He turned and used them as shields, blocking blasts from the Cybermen's lasers and moving with a bit more purpose back toward relative safety.
"Come on," she murmured under her breath as bullets came terrifying close to leather. "Come on, please."
It seemed an age before he was through the doors again. He beamed at her, showing off the devices. "Second draft," he informed her proudly. She rolled her eyes and smiled fondly.
"So, fill me in," she said.
He shrugged, ignored her and ducked his head back into the lab, pulling out the 3D glasses again. This time he left them on, peering around at the Cybermen, the Daleks, even back over his shoulder at Ricky, Rose and Pete.
"Override roof mechanism," a Dalek ordered. Above them the ceiling began to open, allowing them free access to the city skies, and the aliens, with their Ark, began to rise up off the floor.
"What're they doing?" Rose asked, her voice rising frantically. "Why do they need to get outside?"
"Doesn't make any sense," the Doctor muttered, shoving the spectacles back in his pockets. "The last remnant of the Time Lords an' what is it? What've they got?"
"Something to do with the Cybermen?" Pete asked.
"The Cybermen are nothin' to the Daleks," the Doctor replied. "Barely pestilence."
"That's a comfort," Ricky muttered.
"We've got to see what they're up to, c'mon, then." The Time Lord was on his feet, the magnaclamps slung over his shoulders.
"Going up?" A voice called from down the hall. They stopped and as one turned, seeing a head of spiky blond hair poke out of the lift.
"That'll do," Ricky replied, grinning. He reached the other former Preacher and their relief at being in the same space again was almost palpable.
"So," Rose said, rocking on her heels. "Two of you are…"
"Yeah," Ricky said, a bit rudely. "Why, you got a problem with it?"
"Oh, no, no problem." She chewed her lip. "Just that here you're not," she added. "Like, at all. I mean, I should know, we was - I mean, this world's you, Mickey Smith an' me, we were together for like, two years. Definitely, thoroughly not gay. 'S a bit weird to me."
The Doctor gave her a sidelong look at the repeated insistence of Mickey's heterosexuality. Of course he was aware that they'd been…together, but it did not necessarily mean he enjoyed pondering the finer details of it.
"Yeah, well, you never know," the Welshman replied cheerfully. "Ricky had a girlfriend until he met me. I like to think he's just Jakesexual."
"You know, there is an alien invasion happenin', in case anyone's forgotten?" the Doctor interrupted, gesturing widely at the world beyond the lift. "If these are among my last moments, I'd really prefer not to spend them ponderin' the sex life of Mickey the Idiot."
There was a long silence.
"Well. This isn't a bit awkward at all," Pete murmured. "Forty-five floors, is it?"
"Thirty now," Jake replied.
Rose nudged the Doctor with her shoulder and took one of the magnaclamps so she could slip her free hand into his. "You're sweet when you're jealous," she said fondly.
He rolled his eyes, but his grip on her was firm, and, blessedly, the rest of the ride in the lift was silent.
When the doors opened to the top floor they were out like a shot, the Doctor's impressive nose pressed against the window. They could see the Genesis Ark opening, and sickness and horror was the only thing anyone felt as its contents were revealed.
"The last remnant of Gallifrey," the Doctor murmured. "A prison ship."
"What?" Rose glanced between him and the creatures beyond the glass.
"It's bigger on the inside."
She swallowed hard. "How many Daleks?
He shook his head ever so slightly. "Millions."
And below them, London began to burn.
"I'm sorry, but you've had it," Pete said, backing toward the rift chamber. "This world's gonna crash and burn. There's nothing we can do. We're going home." He pulled a yellow button from his pocket and tossed it at Rose. "Come with me. We've got room. You can be Poppy's sister. I told Jackie everything; she wants to know you too. You could be our daughter. You'll be safe."
"Don't be stupid, I can't leave while Daleks destroy the city!" she said.
"It's not just London, it's the whole world!" Pete gestured widely. "But there's a whole world over there, Rose, an' it's safe, as long as the Doctor closes the breach!" He looked to the Doctor, eyes hopeful. "Doctor?"
The Doctor popped his 3D glasses on Rose and grinned madly. "There, then. Third draft. Thoughts?"
"You're…covered in sparkles." And it was true. Through the glasses at least, she could see millions of sparkling particles dancing around him.
"Not just me." He pointed to the Torchwood soldiers. "Them too. An' you."
She looked at her own hand and was amazed to see her own swarm of particles following her every move. Her face twisted. "Oh, that's weird."
"Exactly," he said. "An' everything else that's ever passed through the Void is soaked in it. Cybermen, Daleks, Genesis Ark, all of it. Each time they pass s'like running a piece of metal over a magnet. All I've got to do is turn on the particle guns, open up the breach and–" his eyes were bright with enthusiasm.
"The magnet pulls them right back in!" Rose finished gleefully, bouncing on her heels.
"But what about us?" Ricky asked. "You said we've got it too."
"Well, don't open if from your side, then," the Doctor replied, rolling his eyes. "Go back to your little world, eat your beans on toast, and forget this whole thing ever happened. No more Cybermen, no more Daleks, no more hoppin' between worlds."
"But you. You have to come too – or you'll get pulled in as well," Pete said. "Rose–"
She let out a little disbelieving laugh. "Mickey's downstairs, an' Tommy, an' my Mum's out there, you think the Doctor an' I would just walk away? Never come back?"
"Not me," the Doctor said. She looked at him, eyes wide. "I've got a job to do. I have to close the breach. But you, Rose Tyler..."
"Don't be stupid," she said, shaking her head slowly. "Me, go with them? An' the breach closes with you here?"
"Yup." He fiddled with a little knob on the side of the particle gun. "It's half made up of the stuff itself, it'll pull itself in and seal off. No more breach. No more holes." He pointed to the magnaclamps sitting abandoned on a computer terminal. "An' all I have to do is hold on until it's over. Used to that, me."
"But I'd be on the other side," Rose repeated. "With no way back."
"Yes." He looked at her. "You'd be safe."
"I don't care." She laughed again. "That's never gonna happen."
"We don't have time to argue!" Pete interrupted. "Rose, are you coming?"
"No," she said firmly.
Peter Alan Tyler took a ragged breath and very quickly pulled her into a hug. "You are everything I could have ever wished for in a daughter," he said. "I'm so proud of you."
She couldn't speak, but she nodded and held him tightly for just a moment before letting him step away, the spare button in hand.
"Goodbye, Rose Tyler."
With a flash they were gone, and it was Rose and the Doctor, alone again.
Rose was not impressed. "What happened to 'we're bonded for life' and 'you couldn't leave me if you wanted to'?" she asked, following him as he moved mechanically about the room.
"Might've killed me," he admitted, not meeting her eyes. "But you had to be allowed to make your choice. It wasn't for me to say."
"I made my choice a long time ago," she said. She put her hand over his. "And I'm never gonna leave you."
He took her by the back of the neck and kissed her briefly, fiercely, before flying into motion. "Right, then, co-ordinates over there–" he gestured to a computer opposite. "–set all to six."
She sat at the terminal and began typing. "We've got Cybermen on the way up."
The Doctor barely looked up from his work. "Where?"
"Get a move on, " he said, gesturing back to her terminal. He went back to typing at his own, and in a moment the computer cheerfully announced that the levers were operational. The Doctor grinned.
"Ready for action, then?" she asked, smiling up at him.
"At any moment's notice, Rose Tyler." His eyes were suddenly dark when they met hers, and she blushed.
"Time Lords," she muttered.
"You love it."
"Every minute." She grinned and grabbed the magna clamp. "So, I press this?"
"Red button." He pushed the hair back from her face, fingers brushing the apple of her cheek. "Hold on tight, Rose. We haven't passed too many times so it shouldn't be bad for us, but they've wallowed in it. They'll pass quick. Just don't let go."
"Have I ever let you down?" She asked, giving him a cheeky smile.
"Never once," he replied. "My fantastic Rose."
They grinned at each other for a moment, and then they each took hold of a lever and pulled it upright.
"Online," chirped the computer.
White light suddenly filled the chamber, and a pull began to drag the pair toward the wall.
"It's openin' up!" the Doctor shouted over the sudden rush of wind.
"You think?" she called back. "Thought maybe there was just a draught!"
He laughed, joyously happy as his plan came to fruition and his lifelong enemies began to spiral into the breach. Daleks and Cybermen alike began to swim through the room, falling faster and faster into the swirling vortex and the Void beyond.
The first crash hardly registered as a Dalek bounced against Rose's lever, but they noticed when its locking mechanism failed.
"Offline," chirped the computer.
The wind slowed, the suction was no longer pulling as hard, in a moment the Daleks and the Cybermen in the room would reorient and they would be at their mercy.
Rose stretched as far as she could, but she couldn't quite reach the lever from the magnaclamp. She met the Doctor's eyes, wide, steely blue and terrified.
She let go of the clamp and fell onto the lever, letting out an 'oomph' of pain as she slammed into it. "I've gotta get it upright!" she shouted, using every ounce of strength to pull it back on.
"Rose!" He could see the timelines stretching around her, so many versions of her future from this moment, as the breach opened again and began to pull at her. He needed to find the strand that would keep her with him, the action he could take that would save her, but with each passing moment there were fewer and fewer options. He needed to slow time, give him more options, but in his panic he felt his control over time falter and slip.
'The wolf will die howling'
She felt her grip weaken, and when she looked to the Doctor she realized that he could see it. There was nothing he could do, and no way that she would be able to save herself. There was no terrible sound effect to signify the moment her fingers slipped from the lever, but as she felt herself plummet toward the Void the Doctor's scream of denial echoed in her ears.
There was a final ripple, and then stillness.
The wall stood silent, blank and unblemished by the bloodiest battle that had ever torn the Earth. The Doctor took a step toward it, and then another; half-consciously following the path that she had taken an impossibly short time ago. He could still feel the traces of her in the air, so vivid she could almost be standing beside him.
His feet led him to the wall, the tall, white partition that hid in its temporal memory the last moments of Rose Tyler. He didn't realize he was shaking until his trembling hand moved of its own accord to flatten against the cool paint. With every bit of his mental strength, he reached for her, searching for a tiny tendril of her thoughts, her presence, that could leave him hopeful…but there was nothing.
His fist collided with the wall with a strength that would have terrified any observing human, and then he dropped to his knees; his forehead pressed painfully hard against the unforgiving barrier. He allowed himself a few last, desperate moments of grief…and then he stood. He clenched his fist, the sudden agony from his broken hand a well-needed distraction that failed to distract. There was room for only one thought, only one pain that blazed across his synapses and burned into his very soul.
He had killed Rose Tyler.
He had murdered her. His beautiful, precious girl — he had pushed her into the Void and from that Hell there was no coming back. He could delude himself and pretend that she had died quickly and painlessly — but he didn't deserve any such comfort. The Void was eternal; her suffering would see millennia pass before it ended.
The faint drip of blood, quiet though it was, pulled his attention to the present. The perfect white floor was blemished, a tiny splatter of red marring the clinically clean surface. He followed the trajectory — his hand was raw and his knuckles bloody. His eyes drifted, only half-seeing, to the empty wall. Some distant, detached part of his mind connected his fist with the red smears on the white paint and realized he must have struck it a few more times than he was currently remembering.
Through some measure of force he pushed himself to his feet, and without another glance left Torchwood behind him.
The door to the flat was not locked, which would have been the first indication of something horribly wrong…had he been paying any mind to it. The second sign was the total absence of cooking fumes - he had long ago informed Rose that Jackie's cuisine was never accompanied by anything pleasant enough to be called smells. That did not pierce his daze, either.
He stopped in the living room and frowned at the television; the fact that it was displaying not only an educational program but one about astronomy — something Jackie had come to despise rather openly — was a bit off. He remembered 'Granddad Prentice' just as the pink velour of a tracksuit jacket caught his eye. He stepped into the kitchen and slowly dropped to his knees beside her. Her wide blue eyes were staring, and her face frozen in fear. She was cold.
His shoulders hunched, and then trembled. Great gasping breaths shook his leather jacket and it was several moments before his hand grew steady enough to reach out and close the lifeless eyes of Jacqueline Andrea Suzette Tyler.
He pushed himself to his feet and looked around the tiny flat. This would be his penance. The little family had become his, and now, like so many others he had loved before, he was responsible for their deaths.
It was a short walk back to the TARDIS, and he moved mechanically along the path that so recently–Rassilon, less than a day–he had been walking hand in hand with Rose.
The TARDIS landed as close to silently as she was capable, and the Doctor stepped back into the Tyler home mechanically. He stared around the small room, and began memorising every detail. When he reopened the doors of his ship the console room was gone, and there was a perfect replica of the flat. He began the slow, arduous process of collecting the personal details. The TARDIS may be willing to recreate the furnishings, but she would not copy the little things. He would have to go through the photo albums, pack up the clothing and the hair products, and move all of it into the TARDIS.
Every item was painful. It all reeked of memories; timelines that could have been lived, and days that should have been yet to come. The strawberry shampoo that Rose still preferred above all the mystical alien nonsense he had introduced her to, and the horrid face cream that Jackie always slathered herself with to try and stave off the wrinkles. Bottles that were only half-empty and would never be used again.
Painstakingly slow, he moved each and every item into the TARDIS, placing it in the replica flat exactly where it had been in the Powell Estate. Was it a bit morbid? Was it a tribute, a punishment, or a memorial? He wasn't sure yet. All he knew was that Rose's things belonged with him, and Jackie's things belonged with Rose's.
About half-way through the process, Tommy Connolly appeared in the flat, bandaged and bruised. He didn't say a word; he just took up the task of packing and moving.
The work went faster then; it was better with two. Before either of them were ready, the Tyler flat was empty of everything personal. It was cold, dead, hollow, and lifeless. The allegory was a bit much, really.
The next time the doors opened, the TARDIS showed the console room. Their signal to leave. He carried Jackie to her bed and tucked her in, called the police to inform them of her death, and took a last look. He would never come back here again.
The doors of the TARDIS closed behind him and he threw them into the vortex.
"They fix up your head?" the Doctor asked gruffly, pacing about the time rotor.
"Gave me a bandage and an aspirin," Tommy replied, leaning against the jump seat. "Guess that's enough. Told me to get lots of rest."
"Human medicine," the Time Lord snorted. "Half a mo' an' I'll sort it. We just need some peace an' quiet, you an' me, we'll rest up an'–" He turned around, stopped and stared just past Tommy's shoulder. He made a few stuttering noises, eventually ending with a rather stunned "What?"
Tommy turned just in time to meet the eyes of a very startled red-headed woman. In a bridal gown. "What?" he repeated.
"Who are you?" she asked, her voice dripping with disdain.
The Doctor seemed disinclined to answer, just gaping at her, his eyes wide.
"Where am I?" Her tone was rising in pitch now, getting angry.
"You–you can't just–" Tommy didn't even get to finish his sentence.
"What the hell is this place?" she shouted.
The Doctor folded his arms across his chest, and his eyes narrowed angrily. Tommy wasn't exactly sure what the man's next words were going to be, but he had a definite feeling that they would not be leading to any sort of peace and quiet.
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