Love Songs Vol. IV - I Won't Give Up by Rishi_Diams



Summary: After the events at Canary Wharf, Rose and the Doctor deal with their separation and struggle to find their way back to each other.
Rating: All Ages
Categories: Tenth Doctor
Characters: Donna Noble, Jackie Tyler, Pete Tyler, Rose Tyler, The Doctor (10th), The Doctor (Duplicate 10th)
Genres: Action/Adventure, Het, Missing Scene, Romance, Series
Warnings: None
Challenges: None
Series: Love Songs
Published: 2013.02.25
Updated: 2015.09.11


Index

Chapter 1: Chapter 1
Chapter 2: Chapter 2
Chapter 3: Chapter 3
Chapter 4: Chapter 4
Chapter 5: Chapter 5
Chapter 6: Chapter 6
Chapter 7: Chapter 7
Chapter 8: Chapter 8


Chapter 1: Chapter 1

Author's Notes: This is the first chapter in the fourth volume of my Love Songs series, following I'm Yours.

With credit to Russell T Davies for the Doctor Who episode the Runaway Bride. Volume title taken from the song of the same name by Jason Mraz.


When I look into your eyes
It's like watching the night sky
Or a beautiful sunrise
There's so much they hold
And just like them old stars
I see that you've come so far
To be right where you are
How old is your soul?

I won't give up on us
Even if the skies get rough
I'm giving you all my love
I'm still looking up
- "I Won't Give Up," Jason Mraz


"normal speech"
*telepathy*


He felt the muting of the bond as the last remaining hole between the dimensions closed. A single tear slid down his cheek, joined an instant later by a second. Wiping the tears from his face, he composed himself. Falling apart at this point would do nothing to get Rose and the baby back. His child - their child. The Doctor dropped into the jumpseat as the enormity of that statement began to weigh down on him.

Rose was carrying his child, a half-Gallifreyan - half-alien - baby. Aside from a few casual thoughts about the hazards of traveling with a pregnant woman and, eventually, an infant, he'd never really let it sink in. He'd done nothing to prepare her regarding the differences between a Gallifreyan pregnancy and a Human one, and now she was stranded where he could do nothing to help her should the need arise.

He'd promised Rose he would fix this, but travel between the dimensions was impossible. In order to get back, Rose and the baby were going to need to cross dimensions in a way that would not harm either of them or the dimensions themselves.

His stomach twisted. Was that the reason why his sweet blond son always came to him for answers? He wore a vortex manipulator on his wrist that was very similar to the one Jack Harkness used. His questions were almost always focused on the basics of Time Lord science. Was it possible that in the boy's present, he and Rose were still trapped in the parallel dimension? Could he have somehow programmed the vortex manipulator to allow short hops back to this dimension? Was he still, some seven years in the Doctor's future, searching for the answers to the same questions now facing the Doctor himself?

"What?"

He sprang from the jumpseat to look at the woman who had just appeared inside the TARDIS. She was ginger, utterly incensed and wearing a wedding dress of all things, the multiverse's cosmic joke when his wife was trapped on the other side of the void. "What?" he parroted.

"Who are you?" she barked.

"But --" It was impossible.

"Where am I?"

"What?" No one could...

"What the hell is this place?"

But she somehow had.

After they'd gotten past the ranting and the obligatory "not Human" conversation, the purely scientific part of his brain latched on to the impossibility of Donna appearing in the TARDIS like she had. It was fascinating, and, if she could do it, maybe it could be adapted to Rose.

"Maybe a genetic --"

Donna slapped him hard across the face.

"What was that for?"

"Get me to the church!"

He dropped the ophthalmoscope he'd been using to look into her eyes and turned back to the console. "Right! Fine! I don't want you here anyway! Where is this wedding?"

"Saint Mary's, Hayden Road, Chiswick, London, England, Earth, the Solar System."

As he set the controls to take Donna back to her wedding, he also set the TARDIS to scan her for anything that he might be able to use to bring Rose home.

"I knew it. Acting all innocent. I'm not the first, am I? How many women have you abducted?"

The Doctor looked up from the controls and his eyes fell to the purple shirt that Donna was brandishing at him accusingly. Rose's purple shirt, the one she'd worn on New Earth. It had been in the pile to take to Jackie on their last visit, but at the last minute Rose had decided it still smelled enough like apple grass to warrant leaving it behind. He'd been so busy trying to figure out a way to get a message to her that he'd hardly noticed that it was still in the console room.

"That's my... friend's," he said softly.

"Where is she, then? Popped out for a space walk?"

"She's gone."

"Gone where?"

"I lost her," he said after a moment, not willing to delve into the details with this harpy.

"Well, you can hurry up and lose me." Then, gentler but still with an edge that cut, "How do you mean, 'lost'?"

The Doctor looked up and stared at her then advanced, ignoring the sudden fearful look she gave him, but he only snatched Rose's blouse away from her. He circled the console, pulling the lever to start the materialization sequence. "Right! Chiswick."


* * *


Rose awoke to the sound of her name and the faint smell of roses. She sat in bed waiting, hoping to hear it again, praying that she had not dreamt it. After a while, she laid back down again and tried to go back to sleep. She was just on the edge of sleep when she heard it again.

*Rose.*

Now there was no way she was going to get back to sleep. The sun was almost up anyway, so she got out of bed, dressed, and then headed down to breakfast. Pete was dressed for work sitting at the head of the table and reading the newspaper while he ate. His fork clattered against his plate when she walked into the dining room, and he watched her warily as she picked up a plate and served herself from the sideboard.

Rose sat next to him and started eating, realizing a few bites in that she was really hungry. After a few minutes Pete picked his fork back up and joined her. "Good morning."

"Morning."

"You're up early," he commented cautiously.

She could tell he was afraid to say something that would set what they viewed as her recovery back. Her father, but not really, he was still one of the only people she could trust in this entire universe. "I heard a voice again this morning. Calling my name, just like last time. He said he'd find a way through and I think he's doing it."

Pete was stunned. "Good - that's good."

Rose finished the last of her eggs and stood, brimming with energy and confidence she hadn't realized she'd missed since arriving in this universe. He was coming for her. Things were going to be okay. "I think I'm going to take a walk around the grounds. That all right?"

This time Pete couldn't even form words.

"Good morning, Mum!" Rose called to Jackie who was coming down the stairs.

"Rose?" But she was already outside, feeling the warmth of sunlight on her face for the first time in weeks.

Her first trimester was almost over. What little morning sickness she'd experienced had already stopped. Physically, Rose was feeling better than she had before she'd found out she was pregnant. And now she had renewed hope that the Doctor was close to a breakthrough which would bring her home.

She walked for hours along the pathways that weaved around Pete's enormous estate, stopping occasionally to examine a flower that was native to this universe or to sit and rest a while on a bench. As she walked she talked to the child growing inside of her, telling him stories of her travels with his father.

"Hopping for our lives, can you believe it?" and "She is one of your dad's best friends, your Auntie Sarah Jane."

That night she lay in bed waiting, but nothing happened. Eventually, she began to drift off, but just as she did the smell of roses filled her nose. *Rose.*

Remembering how quickly the connection had dissolved that morning, she responded softly, careful not to stir too much. *I'm here.*

*Love you... Mum.*

As the voice faded away Rose jolted to a sitting position, suddenly fully awake, one hand coming up to clutch at her still flat stomach, the other covering her mouth. Not the Doctor this time, but their child.

Back to index


Chapter 2: Chapter 2

The Doctor went into the TARDIS and started the dematerialization sequence. That morning should do, something quick and easy, a parlor trick. The ship landed with a bump and he stepped out onto the street. He only had a moment to wait before Martha Jones walked by and he hurried to catch up to her.

"Like so," he said, taking off his tie. "See?"

Ignoring her confused look, he hurried back to the TARDIS and set the coordinates for later that evening. He returned to the alleyway holding his tie in his hand.

"Told you."

"No, but, that was this morning. Did you -- oh, my God. You can travel in time. But hold on. If you could see me this morning, why didn't you tell me not to go in to work?"

"Crossing into established events is strictly forbidden." He ignored the pang of pain in his hearts. After Donna left he'd spent a lot of time working out the maths involved in using Rose's genetic structure to pull her back into the prime universe. When that had failed, he'd turned his thoughts to stealing her back from his past self or preventing her from ever being near the rift at Torchwood. Nothing he'd come up with could justify the risk to the universe. "Except for cheap tricks," he added.

"And that's your spaceship?"

"It's called the TARDIS. Time and Relative Dimension in Space."

"Your spaceship's made of wood. There's not much room. We'd be a bit intimate."

Her words were suggestive, but he'd put off over-amorous companions before. It would be even easier now. "Take a look."

Martha stepped into the TARDIS and he followed her onto the ramp. "No, no, no. But it's just a box," she said, walking out again. "But it's huge. How does it do that? It's wood. It's like a box with that room just rammed in. It's bigger on the inside."

He mouthed the words along with her. "Is it? I hadn't noticed." He shut the door and walked to the console. "Right then, let's get going."

"But is there a crew, like a navigator and stuff? Where is everyone?"

"Just me."

"All on your own?"

"Well, sometimes I have guests. I mean some friends, travelling alongside. I had -- there was recently, a friend of mine. Rose, her name was. Rose. And..." He looked down, trying to scrape together the right words. "...we were together. Anyway."

"Where is she now?"

"With her family. Happy. She's fine. She's -- not that you're replacing her."

"Never said I was."

* * *

*Are you okay? I mean, it's not like I can go to an antenatal. 'Can you check for two hearts? You see, I'm having my alien lover's baby...'*

*I'm fine, Mum, us Smiths --*
*Tylers,* Rose countered.

But the returned *Smith* brooked no argument.

Rose sighed. *Your father will have to find us first.*

The equivalent of a huge yawn reached her. Two weeks had passed since the baby first made contact and every day the attempts at communication grew stronger, but it still tired the baby out quickly. It was comforting, having a piece of the Doctor she could talk to, but it was no substitute for him.

*Sorry. It's a muscle I need to exercise. It will get easier with practice, but for now I need to rest.*

*It's fine. Go ahead.*

For a moment, Rose believed the baby had fallen asleep, but then another thought drifted her way. *One heart until the first regeneration.*

A few minutes later, she sat up straighter when Pete walked into the living room.

"Oh, Rose, there you are. I was wondering if I could talk to you about something."

"Sure. Yeah."

Their relationship was growing, she could almost see herself calling him "Dad" - not yet, but some day. But as he sat down on the sofa opposite her, he looked apprehensive.

"We've noticed some... oddities at work."

She sat up even straighter, knowing instinctively that he was talking about his work with Torchwood, not Vitex. "What kind of oddities?"

"Stars are disappearing. The first couple of reports were dismissed out of hand, but it's getting worse. And... the dimension cannon has started receiving signal again."

"That's fantastic news! Well, I mean, not about the stars, but the dimension cannon. I could go home!" Rose covered her stomach with her hand, but stopped short of sending a thought to the baby.

"And I think we're going to have to use it. The stars disappearing, that's beyond anything we could hope to fix."

"I want in."

"Of course, we'll keep you apprised --"

"No. I want to be the one to go."

Pete blinked. "You're pregnant! I can't hurtle you across the dimension lines! We don't even know if it's safe! Think about the possible complications!"

"I'm not letting you do this without me. If I have to go to Torchwood every day and stand outside your office, I'm going to be involved."

He ran a hand over his face. "I'll keep you in the loop." He raised a hand to forestall her protests. "Your mum would kill me if anything happened to you or the baby. After we've run some tests, had our best and brightest look at it, I'll consider it. And that's all I can offer you right now."

"I'm not going to forget about this."

"I would expect nothing less."

They were ready for jump trials within the week. And every night for three weeks after that, Pete came home and shook his head sadly. Things were not going well. For all the 'best and brightest' he'd assigned to the project, items that were sent across the Void returned mangled - or not at all.

During this time, Rose began to show, a tiny bump that was unmistakable by all unless she took pains to hide it. Most days she didn't, too proud of the growing life inside of her to deny its existence.

*You shouldn't worry so much.*

*It's hard not to. The trials are going nowhere which means neither are we.*

*When the cannon is ready --*

*If.*

*When, Mum. When the cannon is ready you'll find Dad.*

*Assuming I can even survive the Void.*

*The Wolf will protect you.*

*The Wolf? Your father took all of the Wolf out of me.*

*He missed a bit,* was the sheepish reply. *It's what made your bonding possible. It's what made me possible. And it's still changing you. It's slow, but unmistakable. You are not entirely what you were three years ago.*

The next day Pete came home with a smile on his face. For the first time, an object they'd sent to the prime universe had returned intact.

*Now, if only we could pinpoint your Dad.*

*Give Granddad your TARDIS key.*

Back to index


Chapter 3: Chapter 3

Safe in his pinstriped armor, the Doctor returned to the Cartwright house. Inside, Matron Redfern waited for his return.

She was looking away when he stepped into the house. "Is it done?"

"It's done."

"Police and the army are at the school. The parents have come to take the boys home. I should go. They'll have so many questions. I'm not sure what to say." She turned around and seemed startled to see him. "Oh, you look the same. Goodness, you must forgive my rudeness. I... find it difficult to look at you. Doctor, must call you Doctor. Where is he? John Smith?"

"He's in here somewhere."

"Like a story. Could you change back?"

He was reminded of another conversation with a different woman who had asked much the same question.

"Yes." Do you want me to?

Joan suddenly looked hopeful. "Will you?" Can you?

But his final answer on the subject was the same: "No."

A part of him, a very Human part of him, had fallen in love with this woman, had wanted to spend a very Human lifetime with her, but now that he was fully himself his hearts ached for another.

* * *

Rose knew the minute she materialized that she was not where she'd intended to go. The interior of the ship was different, the control room small and white. The console itself was also smaller and had fewer buttons; it was all a bit disco, actually. But the song of the TARDIS herself was familiar and the ship welcomed her. They were in flight, she noticed, a persistent hum accompanying the steady up and down movement of the time rotor.

Movement to her left grabbed her attention and she turned to see what had caused it. He was tall, taller even than her Doctor, but with his crazy smile and big hair, she knew who it had to be. "Jelly baby?" he asked, extending a plain white bag out to her.

"Excuse me?"

"Would you like a jelly baby?" He took a few cautious steps closer to her, the bag still extended between them.

"No, thank you."

He stopped, studied her for just a second, then dove for the console, the ends of his scarf flying, his empty hand already outstretched to slap a large button. The time rotor slowed to a halt and the room quieted. He whirled around, furious, but she had seen him worse than this and so the majority of his anger bounced off of her. "You're pregnant!" he screeched and she rubbed a hand over her bump. "Bad enough that you're here in the first place, but I was in flight, traveling through the Vortex. Do you have any idea what that will do to a developing Human fetus?"

"Doctor --"

"I need to make sure I stopped us in time, that no harm was done." He whipped out his sonic screwdriver and punched a setting before leveling it at her.

Rose felt the baby's sudden distress. "No, wait!" she cried.

He was just about to push the button to start the scan when comprehension flooded over his features. "What did you call me?"

"You obviously don't recognize me. Can you trust a complete stranger enough that when she says, 'Please, Doctor, do not scan my baby with your sonic screwdriver,' you will honor her request?"

"Where did you come from, child?" he asked by way of response, looking down his long nose at her.

Rose opened her mouth to answer him, but promptly shut it. She met his eyes, "I don't know how much I can tell you."

"My future then?"

She nodded. "I think so."

He slipped the sonic screwdriver back into his pocket. "Right then. Well, I meet people out of order all the time. We can still get the basics out of the way. You are Human?"

She nodded again.

"Earth?" he ventured.

"Yes."

He looked down at her clothes. "Twentieth century?"

She nodded again. "Well, twenty-first."

"Ah, early twenty-first, then. And you know me."

"I do."

"What was that thing you shoved in your pocket?"

"What?"

"When you first materialized, you shoved something in your pocket."

"Oh. I must not have even realized I did it. Um, I don't think I can tell you about that either."

"Is there anything you can tell me?"

"I dunno. When are you?"

"I've just dropped Sarah Jane in Croydon --" He saw the recognition in her eyes. "You know Sarah Jane?"

"We've met. And it was Aberdeen."

"What?"

"You didn't drop her off in Croydon, it was Aberdeen."

"Right. That's next to Croydon, isn't it?"

Rose snorted and shook her head. "No. It's not."

"Oh. Anyway, as I was saying, I'm on my way to Gallifrey - ah, I see you know that name as well."

She felt a pang of sadness. "I do. Go on."

He paused briefly, but continued. "And I had to leave Sarah Jane behind because Humans aren't allowed, you see. Which presents me with another problem. What am I going to do with you?"

"I'll be able to leave before you have to move on. Another, maybe, 20 minutes?" she guessed.

He took his sonic screwdriver back out and started pressing more buttons. He leveled it at her again. "I suppose that may be long enough for you to explain how a 21st century Human was able to project such an intense wave of sadness into the fully-shielded mind of a Time Lord."

"Put the sonic down, Doctor. I'm not going to hurt you."

"Sorry, I've heard that one too often to believe it. You'll have to do better than that."

"How can I tell you more when you're the one always cautioning me about messing up the timelines?"

"Try me. If I deem it's necessary, I'll forget whatever you tell me."

Rose started to lift up the sleeve of her shirt.

He waved the sonic screwdriver at her. "Slowly, now."

"And I was doing so well, too," she shot back, pressing her thumb against the hidden tattoo. As it began to appear, she finished bunching the sleeve at her shoulder.

He took a step forward and grabbed her arm, so engrossed in reading the tattoo that he didn't even notice when she took the sonic screwdriver from his hand and switched it off.

"Rose Tyler."

"Doctor."

"Do you have any idea what this means?" he lifted her arm slightly to show her the tattoo.

She took his now empty but still hovering hand and guided it down to her stomach, watching as their unborn child made contact with him. "What do you think?"

He stumbled backwards. "But that's impossible. The Curse."

"I'm from your future, Doctor. Is it so hard to believe that, in my time at least, the Curse has been lifted?" She waved the sonic screwdriver at him. "You could scan me now, if you wanted to. Asking you not to was just a precaution for the timelines."

He came back to her and took the sonic from her hand, but slid it back into his pocket instead of turning it on. Silently he asked her permission before placing his hand on her stomach again. "But you're so young. And Human. How long have we been married?"

She blushed. "We were bonded about ten months ago."

"Ahh, that explains how your emotions found their way into my mind so easily. But we're not married?"

"No. Things got... complicated."

"Humans have such strange notions. Obviously I care for you a great deal or things would have never progressed past the bond, and that depth of emotion is not exactly transitory where I come from. The tattoo clearly indicates that at some point I had every intention of committing to a marriage, and I cannot imagine allowing your pregnancy to progress as far as it has without doing just that. So, what, precisely, do you mean by 'complicated'?"

"We were... separated. I was only six weeks along. He didn't even know."

"Of course I knew. How could I not? Think, I was in this room with you for 30 seconds and I figured it out."

"Well, I'm a lot further along now than I was then."

He made a dismissive noise. "This is obviously your first child so, yes, you probably only very recently started showing, but I'm sure I would have explained to you in advance that conception was all but guaranteed and you would have started putting off a different scent after only a week. Are you sure I didn't know?"

Rose felt so stupid. All of her worrying and asking the TARDIS to keep her secret, how could she possibly have forgotten about his 'superior Time Lord physiology'? "No, I'm not sure. In fact, you know yourself better than anyone, he must have known."

"Rose, the way you're speaking about me - the other me, the man that you see as this angelic creature's father - I'm still around, right? I mean, I'm not dead, am I?"

"No! No, God, no. Like I said, we were separated. I'm here because I'm trying to get back to him - my Doctor - I just missed, overshot."

A beeping noise began emanating from her pocket. "Speaking of which, it looks like I can leave now." She hugged him. "Thank you, for trusting me and for talking to me."

"You are very welcome. It was quite interesting."

"You will forget all of this, right? I don't want to interfere with my own past."

"Of course. Good luck finding me."

"Thank you." Rose pushed the button in her pocket and dematerialized.

* * *

The smell of Torchwood invaded her nostrils. Something always smelled off here, no matter how hard she had tried to adapt. Maybe it was too many bad emotions.

Pete was still standing where she'd left him. "Well, obviously that wasn't the right one. You came back."

Doctor Crowell ran up and took her vitals.

"We've found the right dimension, but we need to reduce the cool down time. I was stuck there for half an hour."

"No ill effects though," the doctor reported. "Will you let me examine the baby?"

Rose focused internally. "That's not necessary."

Pete sighed. "I hate that you do that, Rose."

"Time Lord, Dad: dimension hopping, traveling through time, it's what they do."

"It's still your baby, still half Human," Pete offered.

"TNA dominates, we've talked about this. Besides, there's nothing 21st century Human medical science could do if there was a problem. Now, let's get started on that cool down."

Pete exchanged a look with the doctor and nodded the other man out of the room.

"What did you see? Where did you appear?"

"Dad, a debriefing now, really?"

Pete pulled a chair over from a nearby desk and forced Rose into it. "Report, Agent Tyler."

"I knew I should have never let you give me that bloody title." Rose told Pete everything that had happened while she was in the other dimension. "Happy? If you're done, I need to get to work."

"Rose, I want you to go home."

"I can't go home now, we're so close."

"This is already an obsession for you, but I'm not going to let it dominate your life or potentially injure your child. You've just dimension hopped, twice. And from what you said, you were there for 30 minutes. You were only gone a few seconds, Rose. I think time runs differently in the two universes."

Rose paled. "Seconds?"

Pete nodded.

"But it's been months I've been stuck here. Years could have passed over there."

"True, but you brought back another valuable piece of information, Rose. The Doctor didn't know you yet. I think with a little fine-tuning we can still potentially get you exactly where you need to be. Which means that you have plenty of time to go home and rest tonight. Let us work on the cool down, come back fresh tomorrow and I'll let you go back to work."

"If you just let me --"

"Good night, Rose."

"But Dad --"

"I'll have Kurt escort you home," he threatened. "You know how he feels about your delicate condition - your delicate unmarried condition."

Rose threw her hands up. "I'll go home."

"Thank you. Tell your mother I'll be home right after work."

"Yes, Director."

Back to index


Chapter 4: Chapter 4

"I can feel it in your head, you know. And it's not the lovely Miss Jones or the freak so it must be someone down on the surface. You may as well tell me who it is... because I'm going to find them."

Nearly 300 days had passed aboard the Valiant and every day the Doctor had thanked gods he didn't even believe in that Rose and their son were out of the Master's reach.

"Tell me!"

He hunkered down. Not much longer now.

* * *

It was the white control room again, but it was quiet this time; wherever they were, they were stationary. The TARDIS welcomed her, which was followed almost immediately by a loud thunk and a cry of pain. Rose hurried around the console, not surprised at all to see a pair of feet sticking out from beneath it. Trainers again? And a cricket kit? Where did he get his fashion sense?

"Nyssa, I've warned you not to --" He came out from underneath the console to glare at her, "What is the meaning of this?" He whipped a pair of thin-framed spectacles out of his pocket, shoved them onto his face, and glared at her through them, but she had seen that ruse before. "Who are you? How did you get in here? The shields were up!"

Rose giggled. "Celery? Really?"

He touched the rib affectionately.

"And glasses? You don't even need them."

He took the glasses off, looking at them as though they'd somehow failed him before tucking them back into his pocket. "You, miss, have not answered my questions."

"You, Doctor, ask too many questions at once."

"How do you know my name?"

"When is it for you?" Her eyes narrowed. "And who is Nyssa?"

"A young woman who travels with me."

She glared at him, suddenly suspicious of his possessive tone. "Have you been sleeping well lately, Doctor? Any unusual dreams, perhaps?"

He paled. "How do you even know that? Never mind. It doesn't matter, it's over now anyway."

Over? Not Nyssa then. "What was her name?" she asked, not unkindly.

The wound from her departure was still strong enough to show in his face. Very recently over, then. "Karen."

"Are you all right?"

He shook himself. "I'm always all right."

She had been reaching out to comfort him, but pulled back, her hackles rising at his standard answer.

"I don't know who you are or how you know these things --"

"Doctor, don't be ridiculous," she snapped. "You may not recognize me, but you've already figured out that I'm obviously from your future. You may have even guessed that we travel together. What I need to know is which incarnation of you this is."

"Well, that's quite a question to ask someone. I didn't ask your age."

"It's important, Doctor."

"Is it safe for you to be time traveling in your condition?"

When she finally did make it back to her Doctor, she was going to have words with him about his supposed obliviousness to her pregnancy. "Technically what I'm doing is not time traveling, so I've been told it's okay."

"And the father, how does he feel about whatever it is you are doing that is 'not time traveling'?"

"He doesn't know, but I think he would approve. As soon as I get back to him, I'll ask."

The disc in her pocket began to beep.

"And what is that noise?"

"My transport is ready. You haven't answered my question, Doctor, which incarnation are you?"

"This is my fifth incarnation, as you so quaintly phrased it."

Rose suddenly realized she hadn't asked the same question of the other Doctor, the one with the scarf and the jelly babies. How was she to know if she was closer to her Doctor or further away? She could be going in the wrong direction!

The TARDIS pulsed around her and Rose looked up as the answer filled her mind, her shoulders slumping in relief. She patted the console affectionately. "Thank you, girl."

"Who are you?" the Doctor asked again. "No one can talk to my ship except me and you are not me. I would always recognize myself."

"I have to ask that you forget me, Doctor. It's vitally important to my timeline that you not meet me until the proper time."

"If it's so important for me to forget you anyway, you may as well answer the question. If nothing else so that I can understand why it is so important."

She remembered the sadness in her Doctor's voice when he talked about the companion who had shared his dreams and then left, and thought about his obviously fresh grief over losing her in this incarnation. Rose projected her love for him over the bond, and was sure she had done the right thing when he visibly relaxed.

"We're bonded?"

Her hand came up to touch her stomach. "In my time, the Curse, as I believe you called it, has been lifted."

"Bonded and married?"

"Bonded and mated, but not married."

"That doesn't make any sense. I would never."

"So you said. The other you that I met, not my Doctor."

"Miss - Madam --" he scoffed. "You're my bonded mate and I don't even know your name."

"Rose. Rose Tyler."

"Rose. I don't know what reasons I might have for not telling you this before now, but first you need to understand that Time Lords don't differentiate between regenerations like that when speaking in terms of bonds. If you are bonded to one, you are bonded to all, over all of space and time. It will be the same with our marriage, for the duration of your life. So this 'my Doctor' business - we are all 'your' Doctor. Second, I meant it when I said that I would never let you go around in your condition without us being married. There is no easy acceptance of illegitimacy in Gallifreyan society. The Council may not approve of our marriage, but their approval has never been something that I have courted. At least as my wife, I can protect you and the child from any potential disapproval from them. In fact, I'm tempted to marry you this instant to remedy the situation."

"You can't!"

"You show me our bond and admit you are carrying my child - you must be truly remarkable or neither of these things would have happened, so I assume you will understand what I mean when I say that you are in danger from the Time Lord Council and that I can protect you, but only if you are my wife. It would be a legally binding marriage, 'your' Doctor would recognize it."

"Thank you for the offer, but my Doctor is waiting for me, and I hope to get home to him as soon as possible. It's different in my time, my present. There is no danger waiting for me under the guise of the Time Lord Council, but even if there was, my Doctor would stop at nothing to protect me."

"Well, of course. You're my bonded mate."

Rose was shocked to feel the strength of his conviction flowing back towards her through the bond. She'd known this version of him for maybe 20 minutes and already he had accepted her completely. "Thank you again, but no. I should go now. I've stayed much longer than I planned. Please remember to forget this."

* * *

Pete caught her as her legs gave way. "You were gone longer that time," he said as he carried her over to a chair. "I thought surely you'd found the right one." He gestured to the doctor hovering just out of reach, who rushed over and quickly checked her vitals.

"No, but we're moving in the right direction. A bigger jump next time might just do the trick. Tomorrow --"

"Not tomorrow," the doctor said. "Your blood pressure is low and your heart rate is elevated. That's a dangerous combination for any individual, but in your case I'm considering admitting you for observation."

"You can't --"

"Doctor Crowell has medical override powers on every mission. If he says you're not fit, then I'm pulling you, effective immediately."

"Dad!"

"Rose," he spat, suddenly furious, "you tell me that getting back to him is worth more to you than your life, than your child's life, and I'll let you hop again right this second. Hell, I'll carry you to the launch pad myself. And when your mother asks how you died, I'll tell her that you were too damned stubborn for your own good."

Rose took a deep breath. She turned to the doctor. "Observation? Twenty-four hours?"

"That would be a good start."

Back to index


Chapter 5: Chapter 5

Rose smiles at him as they are tossed about by the wind. Suddenly, there is a small explosion of sparks and the lever on Rose's side moves back into the 'off' position. The smiles fade from their faces.

"Offline."

"Turn it on!" he yells.

The suction is starting to ease. Rose reaches for the lever while trying to maintain her grip on the clamp, but it is just slightly too far away. She strains to reach it, eventually falling onto it. The Doctor watches, full of dread. Rose whimpers as she struggles with the lever.

"I've gotta get it upright!" Rose pushes the lever upwards, groaning with the effort. Finally, she manages to push the lever upright. The Doctor watches with his heart in his throat.

"Online and locked."

The suction increases once more. But now, Rose has nothing to hold on to but the lever.

"Rose, hold on!" he shouts desperately.

But the Void pulls at her, making it near impossible for her to keep her grip. She winces and cries out with the effort.

"HOLD ON!"

Rose moans, her strength almost spent - the Doctor stares at her in absolute terror, horribly powerless, reaching out to her in vain. With one last cry, Rose's grip finally slips. She is pulled inexorably towards the Void, crying out. The Doctor screams her name as she is pulled away from him. Pete appears the moment before she reaches the breach and she falls into his arms. Rose has time only to glance over her shoulder at the Doctor before she and Pete vanish. The Doctor stares at the place where they disappeared, breathing very heavily. The breach closes itself. The wind dies down, leaving the place silent.


The Doctor jolted awake. He'd forgotten for a time after the War - during the years with Rose - what it was like to wake, half rested, nightmares still ringing in his ears. He remembered now.

It had been the Ood that triggered this particular nightmare. The last time he'd encountered them had been on Krop Tor with Rose.

Swinging his legs over the side of the bed he got up then dressed and made his way to the galley. He'd been sitting for a while when Donna came up behind him and peeked over his shoulder.

"What are you working on?"

Putting the pen down, he gestured at the half-full notebook he'd been doodling in all morning. "Start with the most difficult maths problem you can imagine and then amplify the difficulty by a factor of five hundred. Add to it the complication that if you fail not only will you be killing your wife and child, but also destroying the very fabric of the universe."

She dropped into the seat next to him. "You don't talk about her much."

"I can't feel her any more, Donna. Not since the breach was sealed."

"What do you mean, feel her?"

"Time Lords are a telepathic species. When we choose a mate a bond is created between our minds. It's supposed to be able to stretch to the ends of the universe..." He stopped and took a deep breath. "But Rose got trapped in a parallel universe."

Donna picked up the notebook he had scribbled all over. "And this?"

"I have to rip a neat hole in the fabric of our universe, punch - neatly - into the universe where Rose is and pull her and the baby through all without allowing both universes to collapse in on each other."

He was eternally grateful when she didn't comment on the impossibility of such a task.

”Tell me about the baby."

The naked pain in his eyes was instantaneous. "You have to understand first that I sometimes meet people out of order. I'll meet them for the first time, but after they've already met me. And, sometimes, if they're especially clever, I'll meet them before they've even been born. Rose was just a few weeks pregnant when she got trapped. But our boy is beautiful. Big brown eyes, messy blond hair. And he's brilliant. It's like he's studying to find a way to get home to me."

“How old is he?"

"He's usually around seven years old when I see him. It's a good age for him. He hasn't come into his height yet, though. He may take after Rose in that regard." His voice broke. "I have to get her back, Donna. She - she is very special."

"You love her." It was a statement, not a question.

"I never told her," he said, his voice breaking. "I kept getting hung up on the words, on how ridiculously trivial they seem. Three little Human words that get tossed around by everyone. There's nothing that means more to me than Rose and I couldn't figure out a way to tell her so that she'd understand."

"She knew, Spaceman. She had to know. As miserable as you've been, you probably showed her how much you loved her every single second."


* * *


She had her eyes closed when she appeared and just stood still for a moment to let the song of the TARDIS wash over her. Almost a week had passed since her last mission before Torchwood's doctor would give her a clean bill of health. "I miss you, too, girl."

"Remarkable."

Rose slowly opened her eyes, completely unsurprised to hear a voice that did not belong to her Doctor. The control room was closer to what she remembered, darker and large. But it looked more homey, with a sitting area and personal touches everywhere. She'd materialized next to a globe of the planet Earth, which she fingered absently.

"And what's your name?"

Finally she looked up at him. He looked like something straight out of the Victorian Era, complete with velvet frock coat, waistcoat and cravat. His hair was long and wavy, and he held himself like a disgraced prince.

"I can't tell you that, but please, Doctor, which incarnation of you are you?"

"You seem familiar. Do I know you?"

Rose took a step towards him and looked deeper into his eyes. Well, she hadn't overshot. That had been a concern with taking such a large leap. "It's too soon. I can tell that. If you know me, that's bad. When are you?"

"I've been recalled to Gallifrey. I was just preparing to leave when you arrived."

Rose tried to contain the jolt of grief that passed through her, but knew she had failed when his eyes widened in surprise.

"Bonded?"

She nodded. "Doctor, I don't know how your memory blocks work, but if I look familiar to you, it's possible the ones you already have in place are starting to leak."

"If we're bonded, I don't understand why I would have blocked my memories of you."

"Because we're not supposed to have met yet." The disc in her pocket beeped. "Can you examine your memory blocks to make sure they're stable?"

She saw him focus inward, knew what it looked like because she had done the same thing many times to talk to their child. It lasted only a few seconds, but when he looked at her again, something in his eyes had changed.

"Rose Tyler," he said closing the distance between them. He slid his hand under her hair and pulled her forward before she could even mount a protest. And then his lips were closing over hers and for just a second she forgot that this wasn't her Doctor.

It was the feeling of him stoking her arousal through the bond that brought her out of it and she jerked away from him.

"Of course I'm your Doctor, Rose," he said conversationally as though he hadn't just picked the thought out of her mind while snogging the life out of her. Superior git didn't even have the decency to be winded. "I explained that to you centuries ago. And you are my wife," he added, taking a step forward.

"Not yet," she replied holding her hand up to stop him from coming any closer.

"The tattoo you wear is a betrothal promise, Rose Tyler. That, combined with the child you carry is all the ceremony required on over 40,000 planets. You accepted me as your husband in the most basic way possible. It's all very medieval Earth, to be frank. Just because we haven't stood before witnesses and said 'I do' doesn't make it any less true."

She was so going to smack him when she got home. "So, what was all of that 'I can only protect you from the Time Lord Council if you're my wife' business?"

"They're a stodgy, officious bunch of nitpickers, Rose. And they're devious; if they want something they'll stop at nothing to get it. They can see the truth, pick the thought out of your mind as easily as I could through the bond, and in your mind we're not married. That relegates me to something on the level of a sperm donor in their eyes as far as my parental rights - or, worse, a criminal for taking advantage of a female from a lesser species. That would be just like them. And you, Rose Tyler, are carrying a Time Lord/Human hybrid, which is an incredibly rare thing, and I can definitely see them doing everything in their power to make sure that the Human side does not assert itself."

He was worried about her, about their baby, it flowed off of him in waves. This incarnation certainly had no qualms about showing his emotions.

"You said you've been recalled to Gallifrey?"

He studied her for a long time before he spoke. "And you once told me that you have nothing to fear from the Time Lord Council in your time. I now have the strangest suspicion that those two seemingly unrelated things are, in fact, connected."

"You know I can't confirm or deny that."

"Of course." He seemed to know that their time was coming to an end. "You asked which regeneration this is --"

"No, it's okay. I know the answer to that now."

"You know how to find your way back to me?"

"I do."

"Rose, I --"

She rushed towards him, noting absently the complete lack of hesitation before his arms came up to surround her. "Don't say it, please. My Doctor's never said it before and it just seems wrong to hear it from anyone but him."

"Ask our child who I am."

Rose hesitated.

"Go on."

"I already know the answer. You're all father. Call me a backwards Human, but I still see a difference between you. Maybe, if I had more time with each of you, I could learn, but until that happens the man that I love is still out there somewhere, looking for me."

His hand ghosted over her stomach. "Then let me just say this: Rose Tyler, you are a remarkable woman and already I care about you more than I ever thought possible. I'm a very lucky man. I don't know what has stopped me from speaking the words to you, but I assure you it is not from lack of feeling them."

Rose sniffled, despite herself. "Thank you. That means a lot to me."

She straightened and stepped out of his embrace. "Can you repair the blocks?"

"I can. Do you want me to remember these interludes once you return to me?"

"Maybe after we're married, eh? Properly married."

"I can do that."

"Be careful, please, when you return to Gallifrey. You won't remember me, but I'll be waiting for you on the other side."

"We'll meet again soon, then?"

"Yeah. After."

"But I'll never see you again with this face."

"I can't tell you that."

"You already have, Rose. Now go."


* * *


"We were much closer that time. He was just leaving for Gallifrey, for the Time War." Pete caught her as her knees gave way and the doctor rushed up to take her vitals. "I'm fine, Dad, just tired. I don't notice it going, but coming it seems to catch up to me."

"It could be the time difference. It's possible you're experiencing a form of compressed jet lag."

"I'm very glad to report your vitals are fine."

"Thank you, doctor. Rose, how long do you think it is between when you just left him and when you need to go back?"

"I don't know. That's the thing, it's hard to tell. I don't know how long he fought in the war, I don't know how long he wandered afterwards before I met him for the first time in my timeline. It could be weeks in either direction, it could be a year or more."

"The important part is that we overshoot the war. The last thing I want to do is land you right in the middle of a hostile situation."

"And I think we need to shorten the cool down again. Ideally, I'd like to keep a channel open just in case I do end up in a hostile situation, I need to be able to hop again immediately."

"I'll see what we can do, but that request might take a few days."

Back to index


Chapter 6: Chapter 6

"Hello, Dad."

He very nearly groaned. She was the spitting image of what he would expect a child of Rose's to look like, down to the roots of her hair.

She challenged him at every turn and though he fought it, he eventually allowed himself to see a future with her in it that even included Rose returning from Pete's World and accepting a role as Jenny's mother. But, in the end, she was too much like him, and once again his future, his child, was torn from him.

After dropping off Martha, Donna found him in the library.

"You okay?"

"Oh, you know me, I'm always all right."

"I'm believing that less and less the longer I know you." She plopped down beside him on the sofa. "I'm here, you know, if you want to talk about it."

"Yeah. I know. Thanks."

* * *

Don't let me overshoot. Don't let me overshoot. Don't let me overshoot. It was a mantra repeating in her head when she materialized.

A cry of relief escaped her when she saw the familiar coral interior of the TARDIS. Her hand went immediately out to touch the nearest strut, but she turned instead when she heard a noise from the hallway.

Rose didn't even realize she was holding her breath. "Doctor?" she called.

He came into the control room, tinkering with some device she didn't recognize, and she exhaled sharply.

"Back so soon? I thought the two of you would be gone for hours." The leather jacket, the Northern burr - Rose couldn't help herself as he turned away from her to adjust something on the console - the fantastic arse.

It had been almost two years in her timeline since he'd worn that face and she almost laughed at the irony: she couldn't think of anything to say to him.

He slammed the delicate device against the console, smashing it to pieces. "I'll kill him," he growled, "which ever one of them it was, Rose: Jack, Mickey, Adam. All I need is a name."

She blushed when she realized what he was talking about. "You daft git. Were you always this hot-headed?"

"I warned them that you were off limits. I made it perfectly clear what the --"

"When are you? You said I should be gone for hours, who am I with?"

"What are you talking about? You're right here."

"Am I, Doctor? Are you sure?"

He walked up to her and put his large hand on her shoulder. "You feel real enough to me."

"I'm real, but I'm not the Rose Tyler who is currently traveling with you. I'm from further in your future."

"Then what are you doing here?"

His voice had softened and it hit Rose all at once how susceptible she still was to this version of him. "I can't tell you. You know better than to even ask."

"How far in my future, then? How long until..." he gestured vaguely in the direction of her stomach.

"I shouldn't tell you that either. But you didn't answer my question: when are you?"

"Just back from dropping Blon Fel-Fotch Passameer-Day Slitheen off on Raxacoricofallapatorius."

"Oh yeah. Kyoto. Retail therapy, me and Jack." She gasped. "Oh my God, that means --"

"Timelines, Rose," he cautioned. "And you were doing so well." He cocked his head to the side. "Now why does that sound familiar?"

Rose released a noise that was half sob, half wail of pain and threw herself into his arms. She cried freely as he held her, not caring about the tears that were soaking into his well-worn jacket. He comforted her, occasionally saying something to her that the TARDIS did not translate.

It wasn't until she ran out of tears that she realized he hadn't actually spoken a word.

Her shock must have registered on her face. "Well, what did you expect," he asked, looking very pleased with himself, "with all of those emotions and hormones running through you at a million miles an hour? Emotional distress plus bond plus nice convenient bonded mate," he smacked himself proudly on the chest, "equals complete emotion dump. And for the record, that pinstriped pretty boy version of me you're so in love with is a bigger git than I am."

She sniffled. "How can you say that when he's you?"

He dropped into the jump seat and pulled her down across his lap. "Rose Tyler, we've been bonded for almost a year, and you've had that tattoo for most of that time. I should have married you the very next time we touched down in Jackie's living room, but for some reason I didn't. And now there's our child," his hand came up to caress her stomach, and he smiled a huge smile, "which is just fantastic, and you, punching holes in the fabric of the universes trying to get back to me. And I've never even had the common decency to tell you that I love you."

"Oh," she protested, but it was too late and the words were between them. "I know how he feels about me," she replied defensively.

"But I've never said the words and there's no excuse for that. Of course, some of the blame for that one is on me. I should have said them to you by now."

"You -- even now?"

"Yes, me. Why do you think I get so worked up about all of those pretty boys that always take such an interest in you? I'm not this jealous normally." As he spoke, he showed her his feelings through the bond. "And then there's all of the hand-holding and the hugging and the flirting and all of that talk of dancing, really, do you think I do that with everyone?"

He switched from just generally broadcasting his emotions to actively sending her specific memories of her, of each time he had been struck by how important she was to him, how happy she made him, how much he loved her. This man, her first Doctor, loved her. Overwhelmed by the enormity of his feelings for her, Rose leaned forward and pressed her lips to his. He groaned hungrily and accepted her, opening his mouth to allow her entrance, but letting her take the lead. Her hand slipped into his jacket and she scratched him through the thin t-shirt he wore, her fingernails raking along his side.

He surged against her in response, his hands helping as she shifted on his lap to straddle him. Rose could feel him, already hard, straining against the jeans he wore. "Oh, Rose," he said when she stopped to take a breath.

Her eyes flew open as the truth of what she had just done - what she was about to do - registered. She'd been feeding his arousal through the bond. "No," she said, "this is wrong, I can't --"

"It's okay," he replied gently, brushing her hair back from her face.

"No, it's not. You're not --"

"I am, and you know that better than anyone. But I wasn't trying to convince you. I meant that I understand."

"Even though I know you're him, it still feels like cheating."

"Maybe if we had more time," he offered, then saw the immediate panic in Rose's expression. "Calm down, the blocks you requested are still safely in place. I only know you said that because I got it from you. Although, the idea of marrying you right this second certainly has its appeal. That would be quite a secret to keep from you and Jack when you get back."

She laughed, but it was forced.

"We don't have any more time, do we, Rose?"

Rose shook her head, tears already spilling down her face again. He brushed her cheeks with his thumbs, wiping them away.

"I'm sorry I didn't tell you about the regenerating, but frankly with you by my side I feel a little invulnerable. Ten feet tall and bullet proof, me." He pulled her down for a soft kiss then sighed. "I have to wait weeks to do that again. I'm tempted to remember it all. I don't want to forget."

"It would change things, you know that."

"How would you even know? I've got your memories of what happens now. Maybe when you finally get home to me I'll just smirk and tell you that I'd known all along, that I'd been planning it since I offered you a jelly baby."

"That's not you. You care too much about preserving the timelines to do something like that."

"Time Lords aren't supposed to care about anything as much as preserving the timelines, but I'll tell you this now, Rose Tyler, I care about you more."

"And I love you, all of you, but I loved this daft old face with big ears first. I'm out there right now, I've just lost Mickey and I'm spending time with Jack, but the only thing I can talk about is you."

"About that. Fair warning: I'm going to be insufferable when you two get back, so I'll just go ahead and apologize for that now." He sighed. "I wish I could drop you off to me so that I don't have to be without you."

"You know I can't time travel like that."

"Yes, I know." His hand caressed her stomach again. "And you, take care of your mother until I see you again."

Rose felt the rush of warmth that passed from child to father.

"I'll see you soon."

"I love you, Rose Tyler. Don't doubt it just because I haven't said the words."

She dropped a quick kiss on his lips. "I could never doubt you."

* * *

Rose was able to stay upright this time, but Pete's reassuring presence was beside her just in case. "We're so close, Dad."

"I know. I'm going to miss you."

"I'm going to miss you, too."

Back to index


Chapter 7: Chapter 7

Author's Notes: (With Credit to Russell T Davies for snippets taken from the Doctor Who episodes "Turn Left", "The Stolen Earth", and "Journey's End".)


"Escort the ambulance back to UNIT base."

They'd planned a small hop. Based on when she'd last seen the Doctor, they'd estimated one year to place her back with him shortly after she'd been pulled through the void into Pete's world. But the TARDIS had been empty, the first jump where she'd not found him in the control room. Rose rushed out of the TARDIS to check out a commotion nearby, her initial excitement at not recognizing this situation quickly becoming overwhelmed by a sickening feeling that spread as she got closer and recognized the UNIT trucks.

A redheaded woman was walking slowly away from the scene. Rose was talking even before she skidded to a halt beside her. "What happened? What did they find? Sorry, did they find someone?"

The redhead looked like she was in a state of shock, but she stopped and turned to Rose. "I don't know. Um, bloke called the Doctor or something."

Hope swelled and Rose looked around, casting with the bond for the Doctor. "Well, where is he?"

"They took him away. He's dead."

Rose stopped and stared at her. No. It was impossible. Maybe he'd regenerated again, that she could live with especially after meeting more of his past incarnations, but dead? Not possible. She wouldn't believe it.

"I'm sorry. Did you know him?"

Rose turned away from her, her hand absently rubbing her stomach where the Doctor's child slept. Dead?

"I mean, they didn't say his name. It could be any doctor."

"I came so far." And what if it was true? What were her options? Return to Pete's world to raise the baby alone? There was nothing left for her in this universe if the Doctor was dead.

A hand on her arm stopped her from moving any closer. "It could be anyone." But she didn't sound like she believed it.

"What's your name?"

"Donna. And you?"

Something on Donna's shoulder caught her attention, but it seemed just out of sight, like her eyes couldn't focus on it. "Oh, I was just passing by. I shouldn't even be here, this is wrong. It's wrong. This is so wrong. Sorry, what was it? Donna what?"

"Why do you keep looking at my back?"

Rose's eyes darted away. "I'm not."

"Yes, you are. You keep looking behind me. You're doing it now." She strained to see her own back. "What is it? What's there? Has someone put something on my back?"

* * *

This time when Rose arrived, she wrenched herself from Pete's arms as he tried to catch her. "No!"

Curled up on the floor, her arms wrapped around her stomach, Rose bawled. He let her stay there on the launch pad, his only concession to her arrival to call up Dr. Crowell to check her vitals. Dimly, she heard the man report and a brief exchange between him and Pete.

Rose looked up when Pete dismissed him. "No," she said weakly, then coughed to clear her throat. "No. Stay."

A glass of water was put in her hand and she almost rejected it before changing her mind and drinking it. "I'm going back."

"We've talked about --"

She barely recognized her own voice when she spoke again. "I said I'm going back. Something's wrong. He's dead." She ignored Pete's gasp. "But I don't think that's supposed to happen."

"Rose --"

"No, Dad, there's something wrong. I don't know what it is, but I need to go back. Because there may be a way to fix this."

"So, you want us to send you back so you can save him from dying?"

"I don't think so." She stood and walked to the computer that controlled the dimension cannon. "Mickey, cross reference the name Donna with the Doctor, across the multiverse."

"The multi - you don't have a last name and you want me to scan every single universe? That could take a while."

"We don't have a choice. I need to know. It seems like present day, though, maybe 2006 give or take five years? That should narrow the search."

Pete came up behind her and touched her arm. "While Mickey is scanning for that name, you're going to rest. You're not hopping again until he's done anyway and if this is really something you feel you need to do --"

"It is."

He nodded, cupped her elbow and led her out of the room.

* * *

"You're the one. Christmas Eve - I met you in town."

Rose had to remind herself that for Donna it had been a months, not just a few hours. "Donna, isn't it?" she asked, trying to sound casual.

"What was your name?"

She smiled, but didn't answer. "How are you doing? You're looking good." There it was again, that strangeness about Donna's back. "How's things? What have you been up to?"

"You're doing it again."

"What?"

"Looking behind me. People keep on doing that - looking at my back."

"What sort of people?"

"People in the street. Strangers. I just catch them, sometimes, starting at me, like they're looking at something."

Rose felt her eyes drifting behind Donna again.

"And then I get home and look and there's nothing there." She swiped at something on her back. "See, look, now I'm doing it!"

"What are you doing for Christmas?"

"What am I what?"

"Next Christmas. Any plans?"

"I don't know, that's ages away! Nothing much I suppose. Why?"

"Just... I think you should get out. You and your family, don't stay in London, just... leave the city."

"What for?"

"A nice hotel... Christmas break?"

"Can't afford it."

"Well, no, you've got that raffle ticket." That had taken only a few minutes to arrange, Rose was quite proud of it.

"How do you know about that?"

"First prize... luxury weekend break." She couldn't keep the urgency out of her voice, "Use it, Donna Noble."

"Why won't you tell me your name?"

Rose didn't answer as Donna walked around her threateningly.

"I think you should leave me alone."

Donna walked away and Rose let her go, too relieved that the other woman hadn't noticed that Rose had known her last name.

* * *

There they were, standing together beside the TARDIS, the Doctor blessedly alive, and her feet slowed to a halt. The Doctor turned and despite the distance between them she could see the disbelief and hope on his face.

The next few seconds occurred in a blur. She was running towards him and he was sprinting towards her, and then it all went to hell. Rose knelt next to him. It couldn't end like this not after everything she'd done.

Jack took charge and got them into the TARDIS.

"What do we do? There must be some medicine or something."

"Just step back. Rose, do as I say and get back. He's dying and you know what happens next."

"What do you mean? What happens next?"

He lifted his hand, the tell-tale regeneration energy beginning to make it glow. "It's starting."

"Here we go. Good luck, Doctor."

"Would someone please tell me what is going on?"

"When he's dying his body repairs itself. It changes. But you can't!"

"I'm sorry. It's too late. I'm regenerating."

Orange energy exploded from the Doctor's skin. After a few seconds, he directed the energy at something underneath the TARDIS console. The Doctor stopped regenerating and stumbled backwards, breathless - the same man. He darted back to the console.

The stunned silence from the other three people in the TARDIS lasted only a second before Jack's hand slid down to Rose's bulging belly. "Rosie?"

She nodded in the Doctor's direction but didn't say a word.

The Doctor moved away from the console and dropped to his hands and knelt before what looked like a hand in a jar, which was still bubbling and glowing.

"There, now." He blew gently onto the jar, and it calmed down, the glowing and bubbling receding. Doctor smiled, delighted. "You see? Used the regeneration energy to heal myself, but as soon as that was done, I didn't need to change. I didn't want to, why would I?" He tweaked his tie. "Look at me! So, to stop the energy going all the way, I siphoned off the rest into a handy bio-matching receptacle - namely, my hand. My hand, there. My handy spare hand."

He stood and looked at Rose. "Remember? Christmas Day? Sycorax? Lost my hand in a sword fight? That's my hand!"

In the lingering silence, the Doctor looked up at his companions. Jack and Donna were looking at Rose, but Rose was looking at him, one hand placed protectively on her stomach.

"Rose?"

She moved forward hesitantly, probing him through their bond. *You're still you?*

*I'm still me.*

Rose brought a hand up to cup his face, his eyes twinkling as she rediscovered the line of his jaw and drew her thumb across the softness of his lips. And then, seemingly without either of them moving, his arms were surrounding her, their lips and tongues crashing together. The Doctor's arms tightened around her and he started to lift her off the ground, stopping when he felt the changes to her body.

"And you, you're brilliant!" he exclaimed, breaking away from her and rubbing his hands along the new curve of her stomach. "How long has it been for you?"

"Five months since we spoke at Bad Wolf Bay. I'm seven months along."

"Seven months? Seven?"

Rose nodded and then smiled a secret smile as he turned his attention to his unborn child. "Hello there, little one." He said it out loud, but Rose knew that was solely for the benefit of the others in the room. "I'm your father."

She saw the awe and wonder rush over his features as their child made contact with him.

"A girl?" he gasped. Rose knew he had been expecting the towheaded boy who had visited him so often. "Cassandra?"

"She insisted."

"Cassandra Aurelia Smith. I quite like that: Cassandra Aurelia Smith. Donna! Jack! Come meet my daughter!" He frowned, "On second thought, Jack, not you."

Jack feigned annoyance, but Rose grabbed his hand as well as Donna's and pulled them forward, placing both of their hands near where the Doctor's still rested. She felt the contentment that flowed off of her daughter in response. It lasted only a few seconds.

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Chapter 8: Chapter 8

The power in the TARDIS cut out. The Doctor slid his hand along her stomach once more, a protective gesture, meant to reassure, before he moved back to the console. "They've got us. Power's gone... some kind of chronon loop!"

The TARDIS shifted around them and Rose felt Jack's arms steady her. The Doctor glared at them as the TARDIS righted itself, but Jack didn't look at all apologetic.

"Rose, you've been in a parallel world. Was this happening there?"

She nodded. "The stars were going out one by one, and suddenly the hoppers started to work again. We modified them, created sort of a dimension cannon so that I could - so that we could come back. The dimension cannon could also measure timelines, and it's... it's weird, Donna, but they all seem to converge on you."

"But why me? I mean... what have I ever done? I'm a temp from Chiswick!"

The TARDIS landed with a crash. From outside they could hear the voices of the Daleks ordering them to leave the TARDIS.

The Doctor came back to her side. She could tell he was terrified, but was doing his best to hide it. "Rose, I want you to shift back. Go back to Pete's World."

"I just got here. I'm not leaving you!"

"Think about someone other than yourself, Rose Marion Tyler. Think about Cassandra!" he yelled. He brought the volume of his voice back down almost to a whisper. "Think about me. I need to know both of you are safe."

"It's no safer there than it is here. Besides, I couldn't, even if I wanted to. It needs another twenty minutes to recharge." She spoke the lie boldfaced. He wasn't the only one who could tell lies for the good of someone else.

"Jack? What about your teleport?"

"Went down with the power loss."

The Doctor opened up a panel in the console and took out a small ring. His eyes were tumultuous when he turned around again, his hand outstretched to her. "It's bad enough they'll have us, I can't imagine them knowing that you're pregnant." Rose placed her hand in his and watched as he slipped the ring on her finger. With a shimmer, the evidence of her pregnancy disappeared. "Perception filter," he said as he waved his hand where her stomach should be. "I'll get us out of this, Rose."

"Of course you will. I trust you."

He took a deep breath and steeled himself. "Right, then. All of us together." He looked at all of them in turn, noticing for the first time that Donna seemed to be in a world of her own. "Donna?"

He moved to the redhead and took her by the shoulders, "Donna."

"Yeah."

"I'm sorry, there's nothing else we can do."

"No, I know."

They walked down the ramp, hand in hand, stepping out of the door and into the chaos of the Dalek ship. It wasn't until the door to the TARDIS closed behind them that they realized Donna was still inside. And there was nothing they could do to open it, so Donna fell with the TARDIS when the Daleks opened a trapdoor beneath it to the Crucible's Z-Neutrino Energy heart.

* * *

Donna crouched on her hands and knees beside the console, coughing and panting. Then she stopped, her eye caught by the Doctor's hand in the jar, her head full of the sound of a heartbeat. She reached out to touch the jar and was engulfed by the same orange regeneration energy that had filled the Doctor. The jar smashed as she gasped, shaking violently. The energy left her and returned to the hand, which lay on the grilling, its fingers twitching. Donna watched, brow furrowed in confusion, as the energy spread outwards from the hand into the shape of a man. When the shape was fully formed, it sat up suddenly and shook off the energy to reveal the Doctor, eyes wide.

"It's you!"

"Oh, yes."

Donna glanced down and then quickly up again, "You're naked!"

"Oh, yes," he said again before jumping up and pushing the button that saved their lives.

He disappeared down a hallway without another word, returning a few minutes later wearing a blue suit over a burgundy top.

"Is that what Time Lords do?" She asked as he scrambled around the control room, making quick repairs and rambling about running silent. "Lop a bit off, grow another one? You're like worms!"

"No, no, no, no. I'm unique. Never been another like me! I grew out of you."

"I kept hearing that noise... that heartbeat."

"That was me. My single heart. 'Cause I'm a complicated event in time and space, must've rippled back. Converging on you."

"But why me?"

"Because you're special."

Donna sighed. "Oh, I keep telling you: I'm not."

"No, but you are, you..." He looked at her, only just realizing the depth of her self-doubt and he calmed. "You really don't see it, do you?" he asked earnestly.

Her eyes watered.

A noise on the console drew his attention away for a second and when he looked back she was wiping away a tear.

"Donna Noble, the first thing we are going to do is go save my brother and his wife and then you and I are going to do something about your self-esteem." He punched a button on the console and the TARDIS began to rematerialize.

What seemed like a lifetime later, they were all surrounding the TARDIS console, six of them pressing various buttons, steadying levers, and holding controls level. The TARDIS hardly shook at all as it flew the Earth back home, the Doctor and his Children of Time working as a flawless team to pilot it. The Doctor stood beside Rose, his obvious pleasure at her mere presence flowing over everyone.

The New Doctor and Donna strolled around the console, watching their friends work, until they came together leaning against a coral support. So much had changed for both of them when Davros had shocked them, things that neither of them were ready to discuss with the other Doctor just yet.

Once the Earth was safely back in its orbit around the sun, the TARDIS materialized in a park not far from Sarah Jane's home. Sarah Jane, Jack, Martha, and Mickey all disembarked, happy to be able to return to their lives.

The Doctor stepped back into the TARDIS and looked over his remaining passengers: Rose and her mother, and Donna and the Metacrisis, who happened to have not left each other's sides since they'd left the Crucible.

Rose rushed to him and threw her arms around him, Jackie not far behind. The Doctor placed a soft kiss on Rose's cheek before moving past her.

"And you'd better make an honest woman out of her, Doctor," Jackie threatened as he passed her.

"As soon as you say the words, Jackie. Literally," he muttered as he moved around the console to stand before his most recent companion and a man who looked so much like himself.

"We did it, eh, Spaceman?" Donna asked, looking the happiest the Doctor had ever seen her.

"We did," he agreed and then turned to his twin. "You are not me."

The other man scowled. "A fact of which I am very much aware. I can't say it will be easy because I know how we feel about sharing." He looked pointedly around the Doctor's shoulder as Rose came up beside him to take his hand. "But I'll do the best I can. In the meantime, Donna and I will need your help. Davros' energy pulse started something. I can already feel changes being made."

Donna nodded in agreement, but then grabbed the side of her head as though the motion pained her. "My head..."

The Doctor sitting beside her looked horrified. "Donna?"

"You know you could fix that chameleon circuit if you just try and hotbind in the fragment links and superseding the binary, binary, binary, binary, binary, binary, binary, binary, binary, binary, binary, binary, binary, binary, binary --" She took a deep breath. "I'm fine!" Her hands came up to cradle her head. "Oh, my God."

"Do you know what's happening?"

"Yeah."

"Do something," the other Doctor shouted.

"There's nothing I can do. There's never been a Human-Time Lord metacrisis before now. And you know why. She took my mind into her own head. But that's a Time Lord consciousness, the Human brain wasn't designed to contain all of that. She's dying."

"No!" Donna cried.

"The only thing I can do is wipe her mind, completely. Every trace of us or the TARDIS, everything we did together, anywhere we went, it has to go."

"No. I want to stay." Donna looked between them, her heart breaking. "I was gonna be with you forever."

The new Doctor squeezed her hand and pushed the other him out of the way. "There may not be anything you're willing to do, but I can," he spat, squaring himself in front of Donna. He brought his hands up to Donna's temples. "Look at me, Donna."

"Please, don't make me go back."

"I'm not giving you up that easily. Close your eyes, try to relax."

"I'm scared."

"I know." His fingers touched her temples lightly. "You'll feel me pressing against your mind."

Rose watched, her arms clenched around the Doctor, as she realized what was about to happen. It lasted only seconds before the other Doctor's fingers fell away from Donna's temples. She'd been too involved when the Doctor had bonded with her; had it been that quick for them or had something just gone wrong?

She looked up at the Doctor, who was watching Donna and the other man very closely. She felt the tension leave him when it became obvious that the two of them were communicating happily through their own newly-formed bond.

*Does this mean what I think it means?*

*Not necessarily. Donna is the closest thing to a sibling I've ever had. Taking that into consideration, it's almost like a familial bond. There doesn't have to be any romantic connotations.*

*You mean you could have done that? Bonded Donna?*

*I could have. Of course, she would have been miserable,*
he squeezed her hand, *and three's a crowd. But I needed to know the extent to which he received my abilities.*

*Would you have done it, though, if he wouldn't have?*


A wave of uncertainty coupled with what might have been shame washed over her through the bond.

*I don't know.*

*Does this mean he'll be able to regenerate?*


His arm came around to squeeze her. *Trust you to see around corners, Rose Tyler. Yes, that's exactly what I'm concerned about.*

*What about Donna?*

*Her too.*

*But that would be a good thing, yeah? No longer the last of the Time Lords?*

*Maybe. He's me, sort of. A lot of how I feel about him is going to be colored by that.*

*He stopped being you the minute he was born. Everything he does from this point on is his own choice.*


"Well, that was always a possibility," the other Doctor said, apropos nothing, and when Rose and the Doctor looked up at him he was studying his right hand intently, turning it back and forth. As they all watched, orange regeneration energy started to seep from his pores.

"Rose, step back," the Doctor ordered before stepping closer. "What did you do?"

"Her brain wasn't just rejecting the metacrisis, it was breaking down. I'm still within the first 24 hours of my regeneration cycle so I used some of that energy to speed along the changes Davros's energy pulse had started. I must have used too much." He looked at his hand again and then to both Donna and the Doctor. "You may want to take a step back."

The Doctor, for once, did as he was told without arguing, moving to stand beside Rose and wrapping his arms around her to further shield her and Cassandra from what was about to happen.

And then, for the second time that day, a tall, thin, brown-eyed man with great hair burst into an explosion of orange energy.

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