Into the blue by RadiantTopaz
Summary: "But I'll tell you this - Rose Tyler gets her happy ending." Journey's End fix-it.
Rating: All Ages
Categories: Tenth Doctor
Characters: Donna Noble, Jackie Tyler, Pete Tyler, Rose Tyler
Chapter 1: Nothing Noble left
Chapter 2: Always all right
Chapter 3: First things first
Chapter 4: I'm still me
Chapter 5: In the hurt
Chapter 6: Out of line
Chapter 7: For reckless disregard
Chapter 8: Coming up short
Chapter 9: A full accounting
Chapter 10: Lack of understanding
Chapter 11: In endless possibility
Chapter 12: On impossible things
Chapter 13: Coming full circle
Chapter 14: In everlasting forgiveness
Chapter 15: For new beginnings
Chapter 16: Next stop: everywhere
Chapter 1: Nothing Noble left
Author's Notes: Didn't like the way it ended for Rose and Ten. So, like so many before me, I had to do something about.
I didn't feel it was necessary to rewrite known canon, so no retellings of things we've already seen, just several extremely contrived missing scenes to force canon to bend to my will.
Nothing Noble left
The blue-suited Doctor frowned when his counterpart announced they had time for one more trip — Dårlig Ulv Stranden. Bad Wolf Bay.
No. This wasn’t going to happen again. He wouldn’t allow it.
He caught the other Doctor’s eye and jerked his head toward the corridor off console room. “Can I have a word?” he asked casually, giving the others in the room no hint to the Oncoming Storm gathering in his eyes.
The Doctor sighed with a nod and motioned for the Blue Fury to follow him to the library. He didn’t need this now. What he had to do was killing him. He was going to lose everything. Again. He seriously began to wonder if he could go on after all was said and done. Wondered if he even wanted to anymore. The last thing he needed was Doctor 2.0 questioning him.
Once they reached the library, the two men faced each other in a clash of ego, the likes of which haven’t been seen since the gods ruled the Earth.
“I know what you’re going to say.”
“It’s not going to work.”
“Yes it will; it’s for the best.”
“Who’s best? Yours or hers?
“You’re an idiot.”
Probably, but that really wasn’t the point. This had to be done. Rose deserved a life with a man who could love her fully, be with her always … grow old with her. He couldn’t offer that anymore. The meta-crisis changed everything.
“We can’t both exist in the same universe,” the pinstriped Doctor reminded him, unnecessarily.
“No doubt about that,” the other Doctor agreed with a roll of his eyes. “You’re too thick to stay here.”
“And what, you’re going to remain here and send me to Pete’s World?”
“You’re insane!” He threw his hands out in frustration. “And dangerous! That was genocide! You murdered an entire race of beings!”
“Hardly a first for us.”
The Doctor bristled, shoving his hands into his pockets to glare at the Indigo Irritant. “We don’t have time for this.”
“Yes, I know. We have exactly 17 minutes and 42 seconds before we land,” the Doctor answered stripping off his jacket and tossing it to the floor in front of the other man before grabbing the hem of his t-shirt and pulling it off.
“What the hell are you doing?” Ah, that explained it. The new Doctor was certifiable, completely around the bend. The meta-crisis had gone bad somewhere and his counterpart was unstable.
“Getting undressed, we only have a few minutes to change clothes,” he spoke slowly as if addressing a small child.
“Wha … You think we’re switching places?” Well, he hadn’t been expecting that.
“Again with the thickness. We are switching places. I have to stay here and clean up the mess I’ve created.”
“Donna is my responsibility...”
“No!” the nearly naked man shouted. “She’s mine. I’m the reason she’s Doctor Donna and I’m the one who’s going to deal with it.”
“You can’t just —” and he was interrupted again.
“No, you can’t, you fool.” The Doctor stopped removing his clothes and faced his double, fists clenched, annoyed that this was taking so long. “When that energy blast hit Donna, what did it do to her?”
The suited Doctor’s hearts clenched at the question. “It activated the Time Lord DNA.”
“What the hell do you think it did to me?” the new Doctor ground out between clenched teeth and the other man’s eyes widened.
“Exactly,” the Destroyer of Daleks confirmed. “The human DNA is being rewritten as we speak. I’m losing Donna fast; I’ve already begun to grow a second heart. By the time we hit that beach, they’ll be nothing Noble left.”
“Regardless, I’m the one staying.” The Doctor dug in his heels. This didn’t change anything, he tried to convince himself. He had responsibilities. No matter how much he wanted to stay with Rose, he couldn’t.
The other Doctor smiled grimly, seeing the resolve set in with his counterpart. So, that’s how it was going to be — an all out battle to see who could be the most self-sacrificing. Bloody hell, they were stubborn.
“You want this. I know you do,” he told him calmly, knowing he would win this in the end. He held all the cards, even if the other Doctor didn’t realize it yet.
“I remember what it was like after she was gone. All of it — every day and every, single lonely night we spent laying in her bed wanting nothing more than another minute with her. Everything we are is for her. From the moment we regenerated into this body … this body we created just for her. So, just stop. I know what you were thinking when you saw her on that street. If you managed to save the universe and survive, you were going to take her, find a nice quiet corner of the galaxy, park the TARDIS and settle down. Live the rest of her life with her. Give her the children you so desperately want to. And never, ever let her go again.”
The Doctor, crossed his arms over his chest and frowned darkly, but couldn’t deny what the other man was saying.
“It’s why I exist,” came the reminder that sounded dangerously close to an accusation. “You couldn’t bear the thought of leaving her again. You were so scared she wouldn’t love you the same if you weren’t in this body, but it was nothing compared to the fear you had about not loving her the same in a new body.”
Again, he could offer no response. Not sure he wanted to anymore. His mind whirled with the ramifications and possibilities of what he was being offered. His every dream ... his every nightmare. Why wasn’t his timeline in flux? If he was seriously considering this, why wasn’t the universe protesting? It should be fighting every step of the way, yet....
“And you’re right,” the Blue Wonder never faltered in his argument. “I can’t force you to do this. If you insist on playing the martyr, there’s nothing I can do to stop it. But I’ll tell you this — Rose Tyler gets her happy ending. You’re not abandoning her on that damn beach again. Thirty minutes from now, after the TARDIS disappears, one of us will turn to her, place both her hands over the hearts that beat only for her and apologize for not having time to explain, but that we did it for Donna.”
“And if that man is me,” he continued, the warning clear. “I will never tell her what happened in this room. How you didn’t love her enough to take the risk, even after all that’s happened. She promised forever and that’s what I’ll give her. She. Will. Never. Know.”
The Doctor’s eyes hardened. He would do it too. He would lie to Rose, tell her he was her Doctor and she wouldn’t know the difference. Not that there was much of one anymore. But he wouldn’t even give her the choice of choosing for herself. At least he’d been planning on giving her that much. She couldn’t have him, but she could have the half-human him … if she wanted.
The Doctor waited for that last bit to sink in. He wasn’t bluffing. He had all the same memories. All the same feelings. He loved her too and if it wasn’t so damned wrong, he would be fighting to stay with her.
“Don’t think I don’t want it to be me, either. I love her as much as you do. I want nothing more than be with her, regardless of how much pain it will cause me when I lose her again. And I’m going to have to live with that a hell of a lot longer than you will.”
The Doctor’s head snapped back. “What do you mean?”
“And we called Mickey an idiot,” he sighed. “Newly created Time Lord, genius, figure it out.”
“Who’s never regenerated,” the man in the brown suit realized suddenly.
“Now he finally gets it. I’ve got twelve lifetimes left. You have two. And the way you’ve burned through them in the last few years, there’s a pretty good chance she’s going to outlive you,” he smirked.
“So, Time Lord, now you know what will happen. Rose and the Doctor. Together. Forever. It’s your choice. Time is running out and there’s really only one question here: Tonight when she cries out our name in a way she hasn’t in three years, is she going to have her legs wrapped around you, or me?”
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Chapter 2: Always all rightAlways all right
“So, Time Lord, now you know what will happen. Rose and the Doctor. Together. Forever. It’s your choice. Time is running out and there’s really only one question here: Tonight when she cries out our name in a way she hasn’t in three years, is she going to have her legs wrapped around you, or me?”
The Doctor grabbed his tie and yanked it off, throwing it on the floor. “You didn’t have to go that far,” he growled, pulling off his jacket and unbuttoning his shirt.
“Wouldn’t have had to if you weren’t so bloody stubborn,” he muttered, sitting down to untie his Chucks.
They swapped clothes quickly, both aware of the precious few minutes they had left.
“Maybe we should just tell them,” the Doctor began, buttoning up the blue suit jacket and dropping to one knee to tie his trainer.
The other Doctor shook his head. “No, Donna is losing enough today, I’m not going to make what little time she has left any more painful. She doesn’t need to know.”
He wanted her to have these last few moments of being Doctor Donna, figuring it out, solving the problem ... saving the day. He wouldn’t take that from her for anything. She deserved so much more, but this was all he could offer.
“I suppose it doesn’t matter, really,” he sighed in resignation. “Not anymore. You’re the man she’s traveled with as much as I am now.”
“Yeah,” he agreed quietly.
“She’s going to fight you. She’d rather die than go back to the way she was.” His voice cracked slightly.
He shuddered at the thought, knowing full well she wasn’t going to allow him to just wipe her memory. She would gladly choose death over what he had to do. No, Donna was going to fight him with everything she had. And there would be no time to reason with her; it would have to be done by force. The mere thought of it made him nauseous. It was rape, plain and simple. The worst kind of violation. Punishable by death on his planet. And he had no choice.
“Are you going to be all right?”
That brought a smile, albeit a sad one. “We’re always all right.”
“We’re a pair of liars, too.”
“It’s rule number one,” he said quietly. “I’ll be fine, no need to worry about me. Got loads to keep me busy after all this is done. Always a crisis to avert, there is.”
The Doctor struggled for a moment before speaking. “Don’t do it alone,” he implored. “It’s never good for us to be alone.”
“I won’t,” the Doctor lied. “Got a wife waiting for me in the not-so-distant future, remember?”
“River.” He hadn’t even thought of her. Maybe....
“Oh, for crying out loud, don’t start again! She never was yours and you know it. You felt something was off at the Library. You knew it wasn’t right. This is how time wants it. This is how time created it. You leave and I stay. River is my future; Rose is yours.”
The Doctor now in blue paused. “I was going to use the chameleon circuit,” he said quietly.
Of course he knew. They were still the same man when he decided that in an instant before breaking into a reckless run to get to Rose. If he’d only been more careful, none of this would be happening.
“I won’t be able to do that now. She deserves better.”
“She deserves you,” the Doctor reminded him. “And I’m thinking it’s not going to matter.”
“What do you mean?”
“Just something Doctor Donna saw,” he said, straightening his tie. “For a while there I could hear her thoughts; she could see Bad Wolf and if we took that from Rose, she wouldn’t have been able to. I think it’s the reason she was able to find us across the multiverse.”
The Doctor nodded; he’d come to that conclusion himself when Davros held them. “It’s still tying us together. She used something called a Dimension Cannon. They developed it at Pete’s Torchwood.”
“The power it must have required...,” the Doctor trailed off in horror. A Dimension Canon? Probably the most appropriately named piece of equipment he’d ever heard of. Even with the cracks forming throughout the multiverse because of the Reality Bomb, they would have needed the power of space and time itself to blast through reality after reality. And Rose had done it without any protection, just her fragile body hurtling from one dimension to the next....
“How the hell did she survive?” he rasped, both reaching the same destination with their thoughts. It shouldn’t have been possible.
“That’s something you’re going to have to figure out once this is all over; we’re running out of time.” He pulled the sonic screwdriver from the pocket of the brown suit and tossed it to the Doctor. “Here, I’ll make another one. You’re going to need this.”
The Doctor in brown led them back to the console room in silence, the thought of what was to come weighing heavily on the both. Rose moved closer to his side as he checked their progress through the void.
“You okay?” she asked with concern; something nagging at the back of her mind, something just a little off.
He smiled widely at her, chasing away the worry in an instant. “Of course! Couldn’t be better!”
Rose smiled in return and slipped her hand into his, leaning into him to rest her head in the hollow of his shoulder. A small, contented sigh escaped her lips. She was finally back where she belonged.
The Doctor’s arm crept around her waist to pull her even closer and for a moment he allowed himself to just feel. He closed his eyes and reveled in the embrace, breathing in her scent, noting the shiver that raced through her, remembering how perfectly she fit against him. Remembering everything.
The Doctor in blue watched the exchange with sharp eyes, Donna at his side. He felt cold and a little unsteady with only one heart beating inside his chest and he began to hate himself for what they were doing.
“He’s going to leave you with her in the other world,” she whispered. “You can’t both exist in the same universe.”
He fought back the tears. Oh, how he was going to miss her. “I know,” he told her softly, turning his whole body toward her so only she could hear, letting his sorrow show through his eyes as he looked at her.
She blinked quickly to keep the tears from falling and pressed something cool and smooth into his hand. He felt the comforting hum of the TARDIS as his fingers closed around the piece of coral.
“You can grow your own,” she said and he shook his head. “It takes thousands of years....”
“Not if you shatterfry the plasmic shell and modify the dimensional stabiliser to a foldback harmonic of 36.3,” she explained in a rush,. “You’ll accelerate the growth by the power of 59.”
He just stared at her in shock. Once again, she was saving him. He pulled her into his arms tightly and whispered, “I’m going to miss you.”
“I’m going to miss you too, Spaceman.”
“We’re here,” announced the Doctor from the console, their eyes meeting over the heads of the women they held. The women they loved.
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Chapter 3: First things first
First things first
Rose yanked herself out of his arms with a gasp as the TARDIS disappeared. She rushed toward the fading blue box before stopping short when it completely vanished, left to stare at the empty space in front of her in disbelief. He left? He left her again? Reality began to fade at the edges and she swayed slightly on her feet. Then, a hand grasped hers in a tight embrace, grounding her once again. Their eyes met for a long moment before she stepped back.
“Rose,” he began, reaching for her again and she shook her head violently.
“No. We’re not doing this now,” she informed him coldly, heading up the beach to where her Mum and Dad were standing by a large, black SUV. Nondescript, dark-tinted windows and Rose was willing to bet, armored and armed to the teeth — Torchwood equipment. She hadn’t noticed it before.
He frowned before following her, his long strides catching up the distance quickly. “Rose, please,” he implored and she rounded on him in anger.
“Not now!” she hissed. “I’m not doing this here!”
Then, Pete was upon them, pulling his daughter into his arms. “I didn’t think I’d ever see you again,” he said with tears in his eyes.
“Hi, Dad,” she sniffed into his shoulder, hugging him back.
“Smart man that father of yours,” Jackie told them. “Been waiting for us, he has.”
Pete pulled away from Rose and smiled with a shrug. “Figured if you were going to make it back at all, it would have to be here. After your mother lit off to Torchwood after you,” he shot Jackie a baleful look letting her know they would be discussing that later, “I got Tony settled with the nanny and headed straight up here.”
“How long have you been here?” the Doctor asked, stepping forward to shake Pete’s hand.
“About eighteen hours.” Pete gripped the other man’s hand and wondered what the hell was going on. He saw the Doctor leave in the TARDIS and yet, he was standing in front of him. “I’ll have a zeppelin here in the morning to take us home. In the meantime, I’ve booked us rooms at a hotel in Bergen.”
Rose didn’t waste any time getting into the SUV; if she never stepped foot on this beach again, it would be too soon. Pete watched the Doctor frown darkly as she scrambled into the vehicle without another word to any of them. He glanced at Jackie for some insight, but she just shook her head slightly, letting him know to drop it until they were alone.
“All right, then,” she said cheerily. “Off we go. I’m wanting a hot bath and a cuppa tea.”
The nearly hour-long ride to the hotel was strained to say the least, Jackie did her best to keep the conversation going at first, but the one-word answers she was getting from both Rose and the Doctor, didn’t make it easy. After a while, she gave up and slid across the seat to lean against her husband.
“I’m still mad at you,” he whispered over the top of her head while putting his arm around her to pull her even closer.
“Okay,” Jackie said with a smile playing at her lips and her hand lightly tracing a path over his thigh, causing him to draw in a sharp breath.
“Knock it off,” he warned her under his breath. “The kids are in the car.”
The Doctor smiled slightly at the exchange and glanced at Rose. She hadn’t moved since getting into the car. Huddled against the door, she watched the countryside go by as they sped down the motorway. With a sigh, he dropped his head back against the seat. You would think, being more than 900 years old, he would have mastered the skill of patience. You would also be wrong.
Rose heard the Doctor’s sigh and almost relented. None of this was his fault. He hadn’t been given a choice either. But she just couldn’t do it. Not yet. If she started to talk about it, she would lose it. After all this time, everything she went through, to know that he could just up and leave here again like this was more than she could take. He never loved her the way she loved him. He couldn’t have.
Once they arrived at the hotel, it was only a matter of minutes before the Doctor stood inside his room with nothing to keep him company but his thoughts. Rose’s room was two doors down with Jackie and Pete between them. He flung himself into chair that sat by a small table near the window and then out of it almost immediately to pace back and forth in the small space. He desperately wanted to go to Rose, but the look she’d sent him as she opened her door let him know in no uncertain terms he was not welcome.
Then, he heard the muffled sounds of Jackie and Pete arguing. He tried to ignore it, but the walls of the hotel seemed to be made of paper. He grimaced at Pete’s angry words, forced to listen Jackie try to explain why she felt she had to leave him and Tony to help Rose. If the universes ended, no one survived, couldn’t he see that? It was loud, it was angry and it was harsh. It was also over so fast, it made the Doctor’s head spin. And then he had another problem, forced to listen as Rose’s parents made up. With a groan he collapsed on the bed, grabbing the pillows to cover his ears.
Rose smiled through her tears when she heard her parents stop fighting. She was used to it and she loved that they were able to work their problems out in a relatively short period of time. It might be volatile, but it worked for them. With a sigh, she walked into the bathroom to turn on the shower. Maybe a hot bath would help.
It was sometime later when Pete knocked softly on the Doctor’s hotel room door.
The door swung open after a moment to reveal a rather ragged-looking Doctor. Pete frowned in concern.
“Jackie went out and bought you some things,” he said, holding up a large, plastic shopping bag. “Figured you didn’t have much with you and would need a change of clothes and a toothbrush.”
The Doctor nodded, but made no move to take the bag from Pete, his expression slightly wary. “Tell her thanks; I appreciate it.”
“I doubt you’ll be saying that when you see what she got you,” Pete smirked and the Doctor raised his eyebrows. Jackie’s sense of humor was a bit twisted.
Pete regarded him thoughtfully for a moment before speaking again. “She told me you’re not the same Doctor I met before. Well, that you are, sort of, but you’re a copy of him. Is that right?”
The Doctor frowned. “The meta-crisis that created a duplicate me created more than a copy. We’re identical — every thought, every memory.”
“Except you only have one heart, right?” Pete asked. “That’s what Jackie said. That you’ll grow old like the rest of us.”
The Doctor just stared at him. He couldn’t answer the man’s questions. Rose needed to hear it first and she wasn’t talking to him right now. No, at the moment, she was crying her eyes out in a room not twenty feet away, behind a locked door, refusing to see him. It broke his heart. He could feel her despair and if she’d just let him in for a minute, he could explain, but she couldn’t even look at him right now.
Pete watched as the emotions flittered across the Doctor’s face. The agony radiating from the man could almost be felt physically. And he’d seen it before, this pain; he’d felt it.
“The thing is,” Pete began, stepping further into the room, forcing the Doctor to step back and let the door close behind them as he set the bag of clothes on the dresser. “I remember the man who loved my daughter so much he was willing to give her up to keep her safe, even if it wasn’t what she wanted. I saw what sending her away did to him. And when he looked at me as he pulled the dimension jumper from his pocket, I knew he was only giving her to me for safe keeping ... because one day, he’d be coming for her.”
He swallowed hard, the memory of those early days slamming into him. Oh, how he tried to get to her. For months he’d worked on a solution, forgoing sleep and food, almost driving himself insane with desperation only to realize the best he could do was send an image through the last remaining crack. Just long enough to say goodbye. It almost killed him. Hell, if it hadn’t been for Donna, it would have.
“So,” Pete drawled. “While I guess it’s entirely possible you’re a different man than the one who fought side by side with me at Canary Wharf and saved my family along with the two universes, somehow I don’t think you are.”
The Doctor shook his head. He would do well not to underestimate this man in the future.
“Pete,” he sighed. “I promise I will explain everything to you and Jackie as soon as I can, but Rose needs to hear it first.”
The other man nodded. “Fair enough.” He paused for a moment before continuing, “It’s been a rough couple of years. Losing you was very difficult for her. And there are things that happened that you don’t know about yet. She worked so hard to get back to you ... she was so determined it scared the hell out of us.”
“She put herself in danger.” It wasn’t a question.
“More than once.”
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Chapter 4: I'm still meI’m still me
This wasn’t going to be pretty, but he’d let it go on long enough. She didn’t need to suffer and he couldn’t take it anymore. After spending a good ten minutes standing outside of her door begging to be let in, he reluctantly decided to do it, loathe to upset her more, but seeing no alternative. The last time he used their bond like this was three years ago; he would pay dearly for using it now, but she’d left him no choice.
With a sigh of regret he opened his mind and called out, “Rose.”
In a room down the hall, Rose’s head snapped up from where it had been resting on her knees. She scrambled off the bed in disbelief before it touched her mind again. “Rose.”
A shocked gasp escaped her lips. How could he?!
She flew out of her hotel room in a tornado of fury, not caring she only wore the nightgown her mother just purchased for her, reaching his door in a matter of seconds. A door he held open. She stormed into the room, rounding on him in anger as he followed her.
He probably should have seen it coming, she was Jackie Tyler’s daughter, but for all his Time Lord senses, he didn’t. It took him by complete surprise when she slapped him across the face. Hard.
“How dare you!” she hissed, her hands clenched into fists to keep herself from hitting him again. “How -dare- you,” she repeated, appalled he would do this.
“Rose, please,” he implored. “I can explain.”
She glared at him, her whole body shaking with rage. “You don’t have the right to use that. Ever. Do you hear me? Not. Ever. That was ours! It was ...,” she trailed off brokenly, turning from him suddenly and wrapping her arms around her waist as if he’d physically punched her in the stomach. “It was....”
“Sacred,” he finished for her. “It bound us together; it made you my wife.”
“Not you,” she said in a hollow voice, still not facing him, her head bowed. Not him. No, the man she gave her heart to had walked away from her as if their bond meant nothing. Something insignificant and ordinary that could be used interchangeably with the man standing in front of her. Everyone was replaceable, including himself.
And then he knew. Knew what drove his counterpart to fight so hard for this. He’d known all along Rose would never accept him. That part of him that was human for a time realized she couldn’t. It had to be him. If things had gone the way he originally intended, all three of them would have ended up with broken hearts. He closed his eyes for a moment and sent a silent thanks across the void to the man who fought for this when he didn’t — couldn’t — understand.
“If you only knew how much he loved you,” he said softly and she sniffed.
“If he loved me, he wouldn’t have sent me away ... again.”
“Even if it was so we could finally be together?”
She spun around, her eyes flashing. “What don’t you understand? We’re not going to be together. You’re not him. I don’t want you.”
“Liar,” he approached her with soft steps. “You wanted me on that beach.”
“I was confused,” she admitted. “All I heard was his voice telling me he loved me. I’d waiting so long to hear that again ... and for a moment it was him saying it.”
He smiled gently. “It was me saying it.”
“You’re not him!” she insisted.
“Oh, but I am,” he told her, taking hold of her hands and placing them over his hearts. “I’m standing right here in front of you. Me. The man you promised forever.”
Rose struggled against his grasp, but he held firm and moved her up against the wall, trapping her body with his. She shook her head, still straining against him, her traitorous body lighting up in response to his touch. It didn’t seem to care that this wasn’t the man she loved. “Stop it!” she sobbed; she couldn’t take much more of this.
He dropped his head down next to hers and pressed himself even closer to her. “Rose, please!” he whispered desperately against her cheek. “Just feel. Just for one second.”
The agonized catch in his voice stilled her. She stopped fighting and met his intense gaze. “It’s me,” he told her with a tentative smile, pressing her hands more firmly to his chest.
Her eyes widened before she looked down to stare at their joined hands, feeling his hearts beat under her fingertips. “But I felt your heartbeat on the beach. There was only one,” she reminded him, still not quite believing the proof that beat steady in her hands.
“I stopped one of my hearts. We did it for Donna. I’m so sorry I didn’t have time to explain it to you, but Donna lost so much today, we didn’t want her to lose me too.”
Rose struggled to wrap her mind around the truth. “You’re still you?”
He laughed softly. “I’m still me.”
“You changed places?” She searched his face with her eyes and hope flickered inside her.
“We had to.”
“You’re my Doctor?” Her hand reached up to stroke his cheek, fingertips grazing over his sideburns.
“You didn’t leave me?” she asked, still not ready to believe and he groaned.
“Rose, are we going to do this all night? Because, I’ve gotta tell you, I’m pretty worn out. It’s been a hellva couple a days and I actually could use a little sleep.”
She almost smiled at his whiny tone. Almost. Instead, she shook herself slightly and pulled away, folding her arms over her chest to keep herself from touching him again. It was too hard to think when she was that close to him and he wasn’t getting off that easy. “Start talking, Time Lord.”
Well, at least she didn’t slap him again. But she didn’t look all that forgiving at the moment, either.
“I’m sorry,” he apologized roughly. “I’m sorry we lied to you. I’m sorry we didn’t have time to explain. And most of all, I’m sorry I hurt you again. I wanted to tell you right after he left, but you wouldn’t let me.”
“So this is my fault?” she asked with a raised eyebrow.
“No! That’s not what I meant!” He ran a hand through his already disheveled hair, causing it to stick out at crazy angles. “I didn't think it would go on this long. I thought you’d listen to me.”
“Yeah, well, after getting abandoned on the bloody beach again, I wasn’t in the mood to hear anything you had to say.”
“I gathered,” he said drily, rubbing his cheek absentmindedly and she blushed in shame.
“M’sorry I hit you.”
“Reckon I had it coming ... after everything.”
“Why?” she asked quietly, finally ready to listen.
“For Donna,” he sighed. “A human meta-crisis can’t exist. A human brain can’t hold a Time Lord consciousness; she was going to burn, Rose. We wanted what little time she had left as Doctor Donna to be about her, not about saying goodbye.”
“Donna’s dead?” Tears welled up in her eyes. That brave, wonderful woman was gone? The Dalek warned them one would die; she thought they’d outwitted destiny. She should have known better.
“No!” he shouted. “She’s not! He’ll have saved her by now.”
“Then why don’t you look happier about it?” she wanted to know.
“Because he had to erase her memory to save her life. All of our time together, everything she became, is gone,” he revealed on a broken breath.
“Oh, no,” Rose whispered, folding him into her arms. He returned the embrace with a desperate clutch, holding her far too tight, but he just couldn’t make himself let go.
“The worst part is, he would have had to force her,” he admitted, his chin resting on her head. “She would have known what he was going to do and she would have fought him. She’d rather die than go back to what she was before.”
Rose closed her eyes at the tortured tone of his voice. He told her once to enter a person’s mind without permission was the most heinous crime on his planet. The punishment was death for it. He said it was rape. Oh, how this must be killing him. Both of them.
“I owe her my life and this is how I repay her.”
She didn’t know what to say. Were there even words to bring comfort? Probably not, so she did the only thing she could think of. Lifting her head, she brushed her lips over his. “I’m sorry.”
He followed her as she tried to pull back, his lips refusing to leave hers and before she drew her next breath, he was kissing her desperately, threading his hands into her hair to hold her still as his tongue sought entrance. He’d been able to keep his hands off her up until now, but once she kissed him, all bets were off.
Oh, no, no. This shouldn’t happen now. They had too much to discuss. He still needed to answer for lying to her and there were things she needed to tell him. Things he needed to know. This couldn’t happen now. “We can’t,” she gasped, reluctantly tearing his mouth from his.
“All evidence to the contrary,” he countered, his teeth nipping along her neck.
“Still have to talk,” she managed to get out, having trouble breathing as his hands reacquainted themselves with her curves and her resolve crumbling.
“Later,” he insisted, dragging the straps of her nightgown off her shoulders.
“S’important,” she tried again.
“So’s this,” he growled before finding her mouth again in a slow, wicked kiss designed to rattle her senses and of their own volition, her hands dove into his hair to pull him closer.
That was all it took. He pulled back for a moment to look at her, eyes dilated and pulse jumping, before swiftly picking her up and carrying her to the bed. Whatever she had to tell him could wait.
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Chapter 5: In the hurt
Author's Notes: Sorry this update it took so long. Work was crazy this week and this one was hard to write.
In the hurt
The Doctor stared through the inky blackness at the hotel room ceiling; Rose sprawled across his chest, asleep in his arms. For a long time, he’d been content to just listen to her steady breathing, rejoicing at the feel of her body against his. The happiness radiating through him a new sensation; the universe had been a cruel mistress, he never got second chances like this.
But now his impatience grew. For as tired as he was, sleep eluded him. There were too many questions. She tried to warn him, too. But it had been so long since he’d held her, kissed her ... made love to her. Stopping hadn’t really been an option. He needed her.
So, he’d brushed aside her concern and seduced her, confident whatever bothered her could wait. It hadn’t been that hard, really. She didn’t put up much of a fight before giving in to him, crying out his name in pleasure so acute he almost lost it when she took him into her body — her body, but not her mind. Oh, she allowed him to use their bond; she couldn’t deny him that, except what he found disturbed him greatly. Too many closed doors. Rose never shut him out before, her mind so trustingly open to him it bordered on terrifying.
Not anymore. She only showed him parts of her now. Her love for him. Her grief at losing him. Her joy at finally finding him. But nothing more. Locked tight in the shadows of her mind, she held the past three years of her life away from him.
He knew a little of happened over the intervening years from Pete. Although, the man had been irritatingly vague with the details, telling him he needed to talk to Rose. But he saw the deep concern of a father who spent many a night worried about his daughter.
With a sigh, he carefully extracted himself from under her and left the bed to splash some water on his face in the bathroom and considered taking a shower to distract himself, but worried it might wake Rose. He braced his arms on the counter and looked at himself in the mirror. “Whatever it is, it can’t be good,” he told his reflection quietly.
“It’s not,” Rose responded from the bed. He looked up to meet her gaze in the mirror. She sat cross-legged, holding the sheet tight around her breasts and even in the dim lighting, pale as a ghost.
He went to her, sitting down on the edge of the bed to take her hand in his. “It’s not going to change the way I feel about you,” he reassured her.
She gave him a watery smile, fat tears falling from her eyes. “Even if I lied to you?”
He nodded. “Even if you lied to me. You must have had a reason. A good reason.”
“I was going to tell you. I thought you were coming for me. I even packed. But then you said you couldn’t come through and I didn’t know what to do … I tried to tell you, I really did, but I just couldn’t. S’worried you’d do something stupid and….”
His hearts plummeted when he realized what she was trying so hard to tell him and he reached up to cup her cheek, resting his forehead on hers to stop the frantic rambling. “Shhh,” he hushed her. “It’s okay.”
“S’not,” she sobbed. “Had the right to know … should’ve told you.”
He gathered her in his arms and slid on to the bed to rest his back against the headboard, holding her on his lap as she cried. “S’my fault,” he sighed, stroking her back. “Should have been more careful.”
Yeah, he should have been more careful with her. Protected her from pregnancy. Secured her to the magna-clamp. Not taken her into danger in the first place. His selfishness apparently knew no bounds. Or his arrogance. He’d left a girl barely out of her teens pregnant and alone in an alien universe … with an alien child.
“You must have been terrified,” he said softly and grabbed the blanket to cover them, dropping a kiss on the top of her head. “Oh, love, I’m so sorry.”
“Wasn’t scared,” she sniffed into his chest. “Was happy I had that part of you. Looking forward to it, really.”
Of course she was. His brave, fearless girl never failed to live up to a challenge. He could easily imagine her facing this unknown pregnancy with hope and joy, even with all they’d lost. Blinking back tears, he held her close and stroked her hair in comfort. It was quite some time before she settled down and silence fell upon them.
“What happened?” he finally worked up the courage to ask, desperate to know and not know at the same time. She hadn’t given birth, he would have noticed the changes in her body when he made love to her.
She sighed. “I was driving home from Torchwood. The roads were icy and a lorry lost control on the motorway....”
He closed his eyes and sucked in a huge breath. “You were hurt.”
“Yeah ... pretty bad. He was too small. I was only about six months gone, but he was growing slower than a normal baby. The doctors at Torchwood thought it was because he was more Time Lord than human. He had two hearts. They figured I’d be pregnant about a year?”
“You would have been,” he confirmed thickly. “Takes longer with my people. Advanced species need more time.”
“They did everything they could, but it wasn’t enough ... said there was too much trauma.”
She grew quiet again and he just waited, sensing there was more.
Rose struggled to continue. She’d been pushing these memories down for so long now, to relive them again for him was like being back there all over again. “He fought so hard,” she said so softly he almost didn’t hear. “I got to hold him after I was out of surgery. It was almost like he held on until I was awake. He was so perfect.”
She grew silent again, remembering how his tiny body felt laying on her bare chest.
The Doctor gently tilted her head up with a finger on her chin to look at her tear-streaked face. “May I,” he asked gruffly, moving his fingers to her temple.
“Yeah,” she gave him permission with new tears filling her eyes. She would have spared him this, but understood he needed to see it himself.
Closing his eyes, he entered her mind. It took a considerable amount of control to sort through the chaos he found. Flashes of the crash assaulted him. Searing pain. Torn flesh. Broken bone. Heartbreaking loss. He was trembling by the time he located the memory he sought. A vision of Rose lying in a hospital bed with an impossibly small baby resting at her breast, covered in a soft cotton blanket. He felt the labored breathing of their son as he fought to stay with her and her agony while she watched him slip away. He could hear the screaming in her head when their child took his last breath. Screaming for him. Screaming his name. His real name.
A scream he remembered hearing in a horrific nightmare about six months after the Battle of Canary Wharf. He’d woken up shouting her name, scaring the hell out of Martha. He’d dreamt of seeing Rose’s broken, bloody body and not being able to reach her no matter how hard he tried. She kept calling to him and he fought to get to her through a haze that settled over his vision. Clawing and desperate he forced his way to her and only managed to grab hold of her hand for a fraction of a second before losing his grip and waking in terror.
He’d been beside himself for hours, convinced it was real. Martha threatened to sedate him at one point, ridiculous as it was, so disturbed at his behavior. She finally convinced him it was only a dream, probably triggered by the fact they had been in Cardiff the day before to recharge the TARDIS over the rift.
But now he knew it was real. Somehow, someway, Rose reached across time and space to find him in that moment.
Her eyes snapped open to meet his tortured gaze. “It was you,” she said in wonder. “You were there. For a moment. I thought it was just my imagination, but you were there with me, weren’t you?”
He smiled sadly. “Just for a second, I think.” He bent his head to kiss her softly before settling them down on the bed, curling his body around hers protectively.
“Time for bed,” he said firmly. “You need to sleep. We’ll talk more tomorrow.” About a lot of things, including the insanely reckless behavior he saw her engaging in after the death of their son.
“Love you,” she said sleepily, exhaustion taking over.
“Love you too.”
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Chapter 6: Out of lineOut of line
Rose fought through the heavy layers of sleep, her mind and body protesting loudly. Predawn light filtered into the room, telling her it was far too early to be up, especially after last night. She sat up slowly, pulling the hair back from her face with one hand and clutching the sheet to her chest with the other. The Doctor sat quietly in a chair by the window, watching her with dark eyes.
She knew that look. She’d been on the receiving end of it many times. With a defiant tilt to her chin, she challenged him to say something.
He quirked an eyebrow at her. “You really want to do this now?” he asked dangerously. “Mum and Dad are right next door, they’ll hear everything.”
“Now or later, doesn’t matter,” she said with a shrug, rising from the bed and wrapping the sheet around herself. “But not until I’ve had a cup of coffee and a shower.”
His eyes flashed in annoyance at her snippy attitude, absolutely spoiling for a fight. He stood up and crossed the room to grab her arms and haul her against him, a little rougher than necessary. “Don’t push me, Rose,” he ground out between clenched teeth. “You have a lot to answer for.”
“So do you,” she reminded him sharply and pulled out of his grasp, flouncing off to the bathroom.
He swore harshly and picked up the telephone to order tea and toast (since when did she drink coffee in the morning?) before grabbing his sonic off the dresser to go and get her clothes from the other room.
Rose stared at herself in the mirror after hearing him leave the room. He was in a right state. She knew he wasn’t going to be happy once he found out what she did to get back to him. Ever since Krop Tor, when he discovered the bruises on her arms from being restrained, and she had to tell him how she’d fought to stay on that planet because she didn’t want to leave him, things changed between them. Before, he always seemed a little proud of her when she defied him. After his encounter with the demon in the pit, he became a little crazed with protecting her. They’d argued over it for months, after every jeopardy friendly incident, every time she wandered off, every time he worried about her. Nothing she said made a difference. He was bound and determined to keep her safe, even willing to send her away to do it. With a sigh, she turned on the shower tap, dreading the showdown heading her way.
The Doctor prowled around her room, muttering about stubborn pink-and-yellow humans, as he picked up Rose’s discarded clothes. It took him a couple of minutes to gather everything and fill the large shopping bag sitting on the bed. Jackie obviously having shopped for all of them.
He was still steaming when he almost barreled into Pete on his way back to his room.
“In a hurry?” Pete drawled.
The Doctor blushed a little. “Rose needs her stuff.”
“Yeah, figured that.” Pete nailed him with a hard look. “Worked things out, have you?”
“Getting there,” the Doctor evaded.
“Really? Because it sure as hell sounded like all was well last night,” Rose’s father observed darkly, raising an eyebrow.
Payback’s a bitch. “The walls of this hotel could do with a little more insulation, couldn’t they?” the Doctor replied with an evil smile, remembering every scream he’d rung from her before she fell asleep, too tired to continue. Three years was a long time.
Arrogant bastard. “Have you forgotten that’s my daughter?”
“Now you’re going to play the protective papa?” he asked incredulously, The Oncoming Storm brewing in the distance. “You let her run wild for years, endangering herself on a daily basis, but -now- you intervene?”
“You know, I’m trying really hard to remember you’ve been through a lot, too,” Pete retorted in a cold voice. “And believe me, it’s not easy. You have no idea what went on around here after you were separated. After you left my twenty-year-old daughter pregnant and alone.”
Pete smiled in dark satisfaction at the Doctor’s obvious discomfort. At least he had the grace to look ashamed of himself.
“Who the hell do you think picked up all the pieces in the aftermath of your destruction?” Pete continued bitterly. “Who do you think held her when she was hysterical with grief? Buried your son while she lay broken in a hospital bed? Do you honestly think I didn’t try to stop her?! There was no stopping her. The only thing she lived for after losing the baby was finding you. And then the stars began to go out and I had no choice but to -help- her. You were our only hope. Do you know how that tore me up? All I wanted was to keep her safe and I couldn’t. You don’t have the right to question anything we did. Not a damn thing. And if I find out you’ve upset Rose about this, you’re going to answer to me. Do I make myself clear?”
The Doctor shook his head in amazement. There weren’t many beings in the universe brave enough to go head to head with him, but apparently most of them were Tylers.
“Well, I guess you better schedule round two, then” the Doctor told him. “Because I guarantee you, Rose is going to be upset when we’re done talking about this.”
Pete’s faced hardened. “The zeppelin is here. We’re leaving for the airport in an hour,” he informed him. “Don’t be late.”
That brought a chuckle. “I’m never late.”
“About three years, as far as I can tell,” the other man reminded him grimly before going back to his room.
The Doctor turned on his heel with a snarl, aiming the sonic at the door handle to unlock it. Rose came out of the bathroom with a towel wrapped around her just as he entered the room. He dropped the shopping bag on the bed for her. “Got your stuff.”
“Thanks,” she said a reluctant smile playing at her lips. She hadn’t noticed before. “What are you wearing?” she asked, attempting and failing to keep the mirth from her voice.
“Your mother’s idea of a joke,” he bit out. If the suit he arrived in didn’t smell so badly of singed fabric, he would never have put the clothes on, but even his sonic hadn’t been able to rescue it. So, there he stood in a pair of too-tight jeans, a long-sleeved henley and a pale-blue t-shirt with the phrase “Trust me I’m a doctor” emblazoned across the chest.
Rose’s hand flew to her mouth to keep from busting out in laughter at his completely disgruntled expression.
“Don’t start!” he warned, wagging a finger at her. “I’m still hacked off. You’re not getting off that easy.”
She grinned, catching her tongue with her teeth. “So, I’ll still be getting off?”
And he groaned, grateful for the knock on the door stopping him from launching himself at her and ripping off the towel that barely covered her. “That’ll be our tea,” he told her moving to the door. “Get dressed, the zeppelin is at the airport, we’re leaving in an hour.”
Rose picked up the bag and headed back into the bathroom to dress. Well, he couldn’t be all that angry with her if she could distract him so easily.
“Oh, yes I am!” he yelled from the other room.
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Chapter 7: For reckless disregardFor reckless disregard
“Please tell me you have your own place and we’re not living with your parents,” the Doctor said under his breath when Jackie decided she needed a cup of tea and headed off to the galley that adjoined the sitting area they were in.
Rose bit her lip to stop from laughing. They’d been stuck in the zeppelin for hours and her mother had spent the majority of the time quizzing the Doctor on anything and everything about his life since the separation. Her dad just sat back in his chair letting Jackie run on, which Rose found highly amusing since he usually redirected her attention elsewhere when she became this overbearing. He seemed to enjoy watching the Doctor in the hot seat this morning.
“You don’t want to live at the mansion with Mum and Dad?” she asked innocently, just loud enough for her mother to hear and saw her dad smirk, out of the corner of her eye.
The Doctor groaned in what could only be described as agony. “You’re an evil woman, Rose Tyler.”
“Of course you’re living on the estate!” Jackie proclaimed loudly. “Rose has her own wing. It’s big enough for a family.”
“Until we’re settled on our own,” he said firmly. No way in hell were they living with her family.
“Actually,” Pete finally spoke up, taking pity on the Doctor, but knowing more about why Rose lived at home than he did. “You’ll have more privacy at the estate. It’s gated and fully secure. The press can’t get at you as easily.”
“The press?” the Doctor asked, confused. “Why would they bother with us.”
Rose chuckled. “Because I’m the Vitex heiress,” she told him in her best (which was really quite bad) impersonation of Queen Victoria. “Everybody wants to know what I’m doing at all times.”
“You’re having me on, right?”
He glared at her. “You’re a celebrity here?”
“Big time.” She grinned widely, taking far too much pleasure at his annoyance. “The whole family, really. The Vitex king reunited with his long-lost wife and daughter he never had, it was all over the papers when Mum and I showed up. It’s what I do — make appearances, attend functions, raise money for charity.”
“I thought you worked for Torchwood?”
“Oh, that’s my secret identity,” she whispered in a conspiratorial tone. “M’kinda like Batman.”
“Power shopping by day and fighting aliens by night?”
The Doctor shook his head. Only Rose could have a life this complicated. It’s a good thing it should only take about a year to grow the new TARDIS, if Donna’s calculations were correct. Living with her parents was far more domestic than he was willing to risk.
His thoughts were interrupted by the pilot letting them know they were beginning their descent and he let out a whoosh of relief, prompting yet another chuckle from Rose. He let her have her fun. As soon as they were alone, they were going to have it out and he was fairly certain she wouldn’t be laughing then.
When they disembarked the Doctor noted a large SUV waiting for them on the tarmac, identical to the one Pete had in Norway, flanked by armed guards. He looked at Rose and raised his eyebrows. She just shrugged and he realized this was normal for her now. Under armed guard, behind locked gates. The illusion of safety all around. It angered him on a level he didn’t know existed before; his ire building during the short trip to the Tyler Estate.
Once inside the front door, a little boy, who could only be Rose’s brother, flew into his mother’s arms with a squeal. “Mummy!”
Jackie picked the child up and held him close, tears filling her eyes. “Oh, there we are,” she whispered into the boy’s blond, curly hair. “Mummy’s home.” Pete wrapped his arms around both of them and suddenly the Doctor felt like he and Rose were intruding.
“Where’s our room?” he asked quietly and she reached for his hand. “This way.”
She led him to her suite of rooms on the south side of the estate, which was separated from the main house by a courtyard with long glass-walled hallways on either side. Her mother wasn’t kidding when she said it was big enough for a family. The five-bedroom wing included a full kitchen with dining room, living room, office, media room and seven bathrooms. Life had certainly changed for the Tylers.
Rose let him wander for a few minutes, setting her coffee pot to brew since he’d only ordered tea this morning. She pulled some biscuits from the cupboard and put them out on the counter by the bar stools. She took her first grateful sip of coffee from her favorite mug when he found his way back to her.
Grabbing a biscuit off the plate, he sat down and took a bite while watching her intently. “When did you start drinking coffee?” he asked after swallowing.
She shrugged. “Couple years ago.”
“So have you,” she countered without missing a beat.
The Doctor nodded. They’d seen too much. Done too much. They were harder. More controlled. Less likely to trust. They were wounded.
“Why’d you do it, Rose?” he finally asked. “All those jumps. All those years. Why did you keep going? Why didn’t you move on?”
“Why didn’t you?” she demanded, eyes glittering with anger.
“This isn’t about me.”
“Isn’t it? Ask me how many times I found you alive and well in another reality?” She put down her coffee cup and crossed her arms over her chest. “Go on then. Ask me.”
“I don’t think we should....”
She waved off his concern with an impatient flick of her hand. “It’s not your timeline, it’s an alternate reality. It doesn’t affect us here and you know it. What’s the matter? Too scared to find out?”
The Doctor stood up and rounded the counter to tower over her in fury. “I don’t care how many times,” he ground out. “It doesn’t matter. What matters is why you continued to jump, sometimes three or four times a day for over a year when it was obvious you weren’t going to find me.”
“I did find you!” she yelled. “I kept jumping because I knew I’d find you eventually. It didn’t matter if it took a thousand jumps or ten thousand, one day it would be the right one.”
“Rose, you were damaging your cellular structure with every leap! You were killing yourself!”
“I healed quick enough. The damage wasn’t lasting.”
“Did it ever stop hurting?” he asked, knowing the answer.
“I managed.” She turned from him, taking another sip of coffee, not willing to discuss just how painful it had been.
“Did you want to die?” He wasn’t sure he wanted to know this.
She laughed bitterly. “I told you, I healed quickly. Just like after the crash. They told me I’d be hospitalized for weeks and in rehab for months. I walked out of the hospital ten days later without so much as a scar. I healed; he died.”
“It wasn’t your fault,” he said tightly. “It was an accident, not something you should have been punishing yourself for.”
“I wasn’t,” she defended herself.
“The hell you weren’t! You practically had a death wish!”
“You want to talk about death wishes, yeah?” She raised an eyebrow. “One time, Doctor. I found you one time aside from this you. And you know why? ‘Cause I found us. Donna doesn’t exist in the other universes, as far as we can tell. She’s unique. There was no one to stop you. The only other time I found you still breathing was in a reality where we were still together.”
“It was so cold when I arrived,” she continued, a far off look on her face. “I remember thinking I should have bundled up more. And then I saw us. Walking down the sidewalk, laughing together. I was holding onto your arm and you were holding our baby close to your chest to keep him warm ... he had on the cutest little red snowsuit....”
She stopped to wipe the tears from her face and he pulled her in his arms to hold her close. “I’m sorry,” he whispered against her hair.
“Don’t you see? I had to find you. Everything would be gone if I hadn’t. Mum, Dad, Tony ... everybody. It was worth the risk.”
He sighed. “You know you can’t argue logic with me about you, Rose. My feelings are anything but. The universe be damned, I want you safe,” he admitted in a frustrated voice.
“I want you safe, too, but I don’t think that’s ever going to happen,” she said with a sad smile. “Even stuck here on the slow path with me.”
The Doctor brought her face up with two fingers under her chin and smiled at her. “Yeah, but stuck here with you isn’t so bad.”
“Yeah?” Her grin widened at the memory.
“Yeah,” he confirmed, brushing his lips over hers in a feather-light caress that unexpectedly sent fire coursing through her veins.
“So, m’thinking,” she drawled, her hands working their way under his shirts. “I didn’t get much sleep last night because of a sex-deprived Time Lord and a nap is sounding really good at the moment. You interested?”
His eyes darkened with desire. “I promise you, Rose Tyler, you’re not going to be sleeping now if I get you into bed again. Not for a very long time. Last night barely scratched the surface. We have a lot of lost time to make up for.”
“Well, if I have to....”
He picked her up with a laugh carried her to their room. The one decorated in TARDIS blue with stars painted on the ceiling. He couldn’t wait to tell her they would be traveling again soon. Well he could and he would, because right now, he had far more important things to do.
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Chapter 8: Coming up shortComing up short
The Doctor leapt off of Rose with a yelp when their bedroom door burst open and Tony bounded in. “Wose!” he yelled, clambering up on the bed as they frantically covered themselves with the comforter. “S’time for tea!”
“Tony! Don’t!” They heard Jackie try to stop him from a distance, far too late as he settled himself on Rose’s lap.
“Who’s dat?” he asked, pointing to the Doctor.
“That’s the Doctor,” she replied, smiling broadly.
The tot viewed him suspiciously. “Docta who?”
“Love it when they say that,” the Doctor laughed.
“Just the Doctor,” Rose told him.
“Tony Tyler!” Jackie yelled from the doorway. “I told you, ‘No!’”
The child looked at her, completely unaffected by the admonishment. “S’time for tea,” he told her as if it explained everything.
The Doctor chuckled. “It’s okay, Jackie. Really.”
She looked at him in shock. This was the same man, who three years ago groused about having dinner at her flat, saying he didn’t “do domestic.” Now he was okay with toddlers interrupting them in their bedroom?
Undeterred, Tony sized up the Doctor, eyes wary. “You sleep here, wit Wose? Like Mummy and Daddy?”
“Tony!” Jackie exclaimed in exasperation. “Leave them alone!”
But the Doctor just smiled kindly and answered, “Yep, just like Mummy and Daddy. That’s what married people do.”
Rose looked at him, wide eyed in disbelief, and Jackie gaped from the doorway. “You’re married?! When did you get married?!”
“You didn’t tell them?” he asked Rose with more than a touch of confusion.
She shook her head slowly, the ability to speak vanishing like the mist in the morning.
The Doctor frowned, but before he could question Rose further, Jackie swooped in and picked up Tony from her lap.
“Married for years and never told her mother,” she muttered as she carried the boy from their room. “I’m serving tea in a half an hour,” she tossed over her shoulder. “Don’t be late.”
Rose groaned and fell back on the pillows. “Way to go, big mouth,” she grumbled at him. “I’m never going to hear the end of this.”
“Um, Rose?” He tugged at his ear. “How come your mother doesn’t know we’re married?”
She looked at him quizzically. “You weren’t happy about telling her in the first place, so I decided not to.”
“You thought I wanted to keep our relationship a secret?”
She got out of bed and began gathering her clothes. “Well, yeah,” she admitted and glared at him when he laughed out loud.
“What’s so funny?” she demanded to know.
He came to stand in front of her, dropping a kiss on her nose. “I’m just trying to figure out how I’ve escaped a thumping from your dad. He’s pretty pissed at me for leaving you alone and pregnant, which he has every right to be, but I had no idea he was laboring under the impression I left you unmarried as well.”
“That’s why Dad’s mad at you?” Her eyes widened.
“Yep. Why’d you think he was?”
“Dunno,” she said with a shrug of her shoulders. “Figured you were rude or something. Not an unusual occurrence, eh?”
“Oi! I’ve gotten better at that!” he told her indignantly.
“Sure you have,” Rose snorted, pulling away from him to dress and walking into the en suite to wash up.
He followed suit, grabbing his scattered clothes from the floor before joining her in the bath. Rose gathered her hair into a messy pony tail while he turned on the shower tap, Then he grabbed her suddenly around the waist and hauled her against him under the spray of water. She squealed at the cold temperature and he turned her quickly out of the way, shielding her from the shower until the water had a chance to heat up. “Sorry.”
She shook her head and muttered, “Every time.”
The Doctor grinned unapologetically, reaching for the shower gel. “Correct me if I’m wrong,” he began, soaping up a washcloth. “But wasn’t our last trip to see your mum for the specific purpose to tell her?” He remembered their conversation quite well about this. He’d had enough of her mother’s nagging phone calls to Rose. The woman had damn near become obsessed with Rose’s lifestyle and her fear she was losing her daughter. Admittedly, he hadn’t been thrilled with the prospect of visiting Jackie and telling her, but his reasons had nothing to do with wanting to keep their marriage a secret and everything to do with his anger at the woman for harassing Rose.
She shivered when he started stroking her with the sudsy cloth. They were never going to make tea if he kept it up. Oh, wait. He asked her a question, didn’t he?
“Rose?” he prompted, turning her around to get her back.
She frowned. “Don’t talk about my mother when you’re touching me. Kinda ruins the mood.”
He pulled her under the spray to rinse her off with a chuckle. “We don’t have time for more,” he reminded her before beginning to wash himself, taking great satisfaction in her sigh of disappointment.
“Then you shouldn’t have started it,” she complained, getting out of the shower and wrapping herself in a towel.
“So, why didn’t you tell her?” he asked again. Dog with a bone, much?
“She started in on me again about settling down when we got to the flat,” she told him as she dried off. “I didn’t want to deal with it, so I didn’t say anything and we kinda had more important things to address. Remember?”
He popped out of the shower and started to dry himself off. “Why not later? When you found out you were pregnant? Or when we were separated?”
“Didn’t see the point, really,” Rose admitted sadly. “We couldn’t be together anymore. Figured you would move on; s’what you do. Always knew when I was gone, you’d find someone else to travel with. Maybe even love. Didn’t feel married anymore.”
A dark shadow crossed his face. “You knew you were different. We were different.”
“We were still separated. You couldn’t come to me and I thought you would just go on, like you told me you had so many times before.”
He sighed and an uneasy thought crept into his mind. “Was there someone else for you, Rose? It’s okay if there was,” he reassured her. “I understand if you needed someone.” He may not like it, but he’d fallen in love with another when he was human. He couldn’t very well expect her to go through life alone when she thought they were over. There were still a few closed door in her mind, maybe this was one of them.
Rose shook her head. “No, too busy trying to find you for that ... what about you?” Why did she ask that? She didn’t want to know. What the hell was the matter with her?
He grimaced as if in pain and her heart dropped. “About a year after I lost you I needed to conceal my identity. I used the chameleon circuit to rewrite my DNA to make me human. I had to lock my memory away in a pocket watch and live as a man called John Smith for three months. He fell in love with a wonderful woman,” he told her in a measured tone.
“What always happens,” he replied with a shrug, pulling on his clothes while he spoke. “The Doctor was needed to save the world. After the battle I asked her to travel with me, but she loved him. She found me very much lacking in character. A coward. And she was completely right. He was a better man than me.”
“Did this chameleon circuit change your personality?” she wondered.
“Well, no. Not really,” he admitted. “Just gave me a false background, but it was still me. As much as I could be without my Time Lord consciousness, that is. There were differences, but my basic personality remained the same.”
“What year was it?”
She nodded. “So, you asked a woman born before airplanes could fly to travel the stars with you and were surprised when she turned you down?”
“Yeah, I guess,” he said sheepishly. “Kinda put out, really.”
Rose rolled her eyes. “Probably scared her silly, you daft alien.”
“She was still right. I was a coward. Was a coward with you for a long time, too.”
“Been beatin’ yourself up over this for quite some time, haven’t you?” She finished dressing and faced him, arms on her hips.
“I hurt her, Rose. And Martha.” It was something he seemed to excel at actually. He’d cut a path of emotional devastation across so many lifetimes. He didn’t deserve the life he’d been granted here.
Rose shook her head at the man she loved. “One of these days, you’re going to have to forgive yourself.”
“So will you,” he told her quietly.
She held out her hand and he took it. “I guess it’s something we can work on together, eh?”
He folded her into his arms, holding her tightly. “After we sooth your mother’s ruffled feathers, will you take me somewhere?”
“Of course,” she agreed, closing her eyes and resting her head on his chest. “Where do you need to go?”
“Our son’s grave.”
Back to index
Chapter 9: A full accountingA full accounting
The Doctor and Rose walked hand in hand down to the courtyard, where Jackie was setting out tea. Tony sped past them on a tricycle as they approached the table where Pete sat, reading the afternoon post.
“I hear congratulations are in order,” Pete commented dryly as they took their seats, not looking up from his paper.
Rose groaned while the Doctor chuckled. “A few years late, but thank you.”
“It’s not like we knew about it, did we?” Jackie scolded him, carrying out the tea tray through the patio doors. Pete jumped up to help, taking the tea from her and setting it on the table while Jackie sat down next to Rose, pinning the Doctor with a rather pointed look. “Still don’t, really.”
For his part, the Doctor seemed remarkably unbothered by Jackie’s frustration, causing Rose to worry. He was up to something, she just knew it. Bloody hell.
“What is it you would like to know, Jackie?” he asked her mother, reaching for the tea Pete poured him.
“When, where and how did you marry my daughter and why wasn’t I there!” she demanded.
The Doctor sipped his tea thoughtfully. “Well, the when is easy. It was right after we left this world the first time, before I brought Rose to see you. We had to charge the TARDIS over the rift for a day after we made it back.”
“Cardiff!” Jackie all but shrieked. “Why didn’t you call me? I would have driven up to be there!”
“Mum.” Rose reached over and covered her hand with her own. “It’s not like that. There wasn’t a ceremony or anything. It’s different with his people.”
“What do you mean different? How different could it be?”
Pete, who’d been watching the exchange with sharp eyes noticed the glint in the Doctor’s eye. “Jackie, maybe you should leave this alone,” he began only to be cut off.
“No!” she shouted. “I want to know everything!”
“Well, if you insist....” the Doctor drawled with a smile.
“I will so murder you.” Rose kicked him under the table but it didn’t deter him a bit.
“You see, a marriage bond with my people is more than a piece of paper like it is in your world,” he told his mother-in-law. And he was never going to use that phrase again. “It’s a physical and telepathic link that ties the couple together. The bonding is a very intimate thing, which usually doesn’t involve onlookers. But if you really want to know the details....”
“No!” it was Pete’s turn to shout now. “We’re fine without them, right Jacks?”
“So, there wasn’t an actual wedding ceremony?” Jackie asked in a tone that scared the hell out of the Doctor.
“Well, no,” he answered honestly as Rose shook her head, muttering, “No, no, no,” under her breath. Why couldn’t he just keep his mouth shut? How many times had his blasted gob gotten them into trouble? Would he never learn?
Jackie smiled widely, sending chills down the spines of everyone at the table. “Then we have a wedding to plan,” she informed them with steely determination before getting up to grab Tony and get him settled at his small table with his tea.
The Doctor sat slack jawed. How did that happen? That wasn’t what he had planned. How did that woman always manage to turn things around on him like that?
“Have you learned nothing in the last four years?” Rose asked in exasperation, hacking off the top of her dippy egg with a vicious swipe of her butter knife.
Pete looked almost sorry for him. Almost, but not quite. “Well worth the small fortune this is going to cost me,” he smirked.
“This isn’t going to be an intimate ceremony with just family, is it?” the Doctor all but groaned.
“Oh, no,” Rose drawled, glaring at him. “S’going to be the social event of the year. M’going to have to wear a big white dress and you’re going to have to wear a tux while several hundred people watch.”
“Fantastic,” he muttered in disgust, catching Jackie’s triumphant grin while she poured Tony’s juice.
After an endless hour of Jackie rambling on about the wedding, the Doctor helped her clear away the remnants of their tea while Rose and Pete kept an eye on Tony as he played.
Jackie viewed him thoughtfully while he rinsed the dishes and loaded them into the dishwasher. “You’re different,” she commented. “Never would have put up with this before.”
“I’ve washed dishes for you before, Jackie,” he reminded her.
She nodded. “Yeah, and if what you told me is true, it was on your wedding night. Rose was in a right state when you two landed in the flat that day. Cried for hours before she could even tell my why. You made us tea and cleaned up afterward. I remember being surprised then, too.”
“Rose needed you then,” he sighed. He’d never felt so helpless in all his 900 years than that day. Making tea kept him busy for a short while, nowhere near enough. He’d spent most of the afternoon tinkering under the TARDIS console with the doors open so he could still hear Rose and Jackie, burning his fingers more than once due to lack of attention. He gave up finally and went to sit with them and watch a movie on the telly.
Rose fell asleep curled up next to her mother and he carried her to her bed in Jackie’s flat and removed her shoes and jeans before tucking her under the covers, all under the watchful eye of her mother, who he’d all but forgotten was there.
“Done that before, have you?” she’d asked him with a raised eyebrow and he’d actually blushed.
He ushered her from the room and closed the door softly. “Can I sleep on your sofa,” he asked quietly. “I want to be close if she needs me.”
“You spent your wedding night on my sofa,” Jackie realized, remembering that night along with him.
“Didn’t think you’d appreciate me sleeping with Rose in your home.”
“Wouldn’t have minded if I’d known what I know now.”
He chuckled softly. “Rose wasn’t up to telling you then. It was still too new and she was too upset. I want you to know I never asked her not to tell you. She was the one who decided that.”
“When were you planning on telling me?” she wanted to know.
“It’s why we came back that last time,” he admitted. “But the ghosts got in the way.”
“And me, I suspect,” Jackie sighed. “I gave her a hard time about how she was changing. Was worried I was losing her.”
“I promised you, I’d always bring her home.”
“Didn’t understand the two of you,” she conceded. “Not until after Rose and I were here and I saw what it did to her. I didn’t realize until it was too late just what you meant to her.”
“I guarantee you, she means more to me.”
Jackie nodded. “I see that now.” She paused for a moment before continuing, “I have something for you, just give me a minute?”
The Doctor watched her fly from the kitchen with a shake of his head before going back to the dishes. She was only gone for a couple of minutes, returning with a small box in her hands. She motioned for him to sit at the table with her.
“I kept these, even though Rose didn’t want to see them again, but I thought she might change her mind some day,” she told him, her voice breaking. “I also wanted to have them in case you ever came back. I knew you’d want to know.”
She opened the flat white box and pulled out a tiny knit cap and handed it to him, tears filling her eyes at his sharp intake of air. She closed her hand over his as he ran his fingers over the blue material, the scent of Rose and his son hitting him with staggering force. Jackie sat quietly with him, noting how he shook with the effort to hold himself together. He pulled the box closer and reverently picked up the precious few photographs it contained and studied each one, committing to memory the images of Rose and their son, along with Pete and Jackie.
His head snapped up at Rose’s pained gasp from the kitchen doorway, her face stricken with grief. Pete stood just behind her with Tony in his arms, a concerned expression watching over his daughter. She’d jumped up from the table in the garden and raced into the house without a word.
“You okay?” Her voice trembled at the question.
He shook his head. “No. Are you?”
“No,” she sniffed, flinging herself at him when he stood.
Pete nodded to the Doctor before he and Jackie left with Tony to give them some privacy.
“He’s here,” Rose said into his chest after they were alone. “Dad had him buried on the estate to keep the press away.”
“Take me to him, I need....”
She nodded, grasping his hand and leading him out of the house. They walked in silence down a winding garden path through the estate to a quiet corner with a large tree standing sentinel over a small headstone of brilliant blue granite. It read:
James Ian Tyler
Beloved son of
Rose and the Doctor
The Doctor dropped to his knees in front of the marker to trace the letters with his fingertip, Rose standing next to him with her hand on his shoulder.
“James,” he whispered brokenly, bowing his head, his fingers gripping the top of the headstone until they turned white.
With a cry of despair, he turned suddenly and hauled Rose down into his arms to bury his face in her neck. She felt his tears against her skin as she clung to him, offering comfort as much as she took it. Comfort for all they had lost and hope for all they had found.
“We’re going to be okay,” she told him with confidence. “Battled the gods of time and space and won, us. There’s nothing we can’t handle together.”
Back to index
Chapter 10: Lack of understanding
Author's Notes: Sorry, everyone. Had a death in the family this week, so I had no time to write until now.
Lack of understanding
The Doctor wandered a bit aimlessly though the main house while Rose gave Tony his bath and got him ready for bed. The afternoon had been rough on both of them and being with her brother seemed to help, but the toddler hadn’t quite made up his mind about him yet. So, he was left to his own devices after dinner. Not a good thing for him, it gave him too much time for him to think … and remember.
Everything felt raw. All the feelings he’d locked away in his heart after losing Rose boiled just under the surface now. The pain he never really dealt with. The loss he never wanted to accept. The regret he never let go of.
Her strength amazed him. How hard she fought for them when he gave up weighed heavily on his mind. She found a way through the impossible and he stopped trying. Gave up and just took his anger out on Martha whenever she reminded him of those feelings. Horrible didn’t even begin to describe how he treated her. He didn’t know why she stayed. All those times he’d played stupid about her feelings for him, taking perverse pleasure in hurting her for daring to love him. He was a right bastard, no doubt about it.
When he walked into Pete’s office, the sudden change of décor startled him. The rest of the estate was a study in luxurious elegance. Everything high end, almost bordering on opulent, but just shy of obnoxious. Rather a surprise considering Jackie’s questionable taste, but this room was stark in comparison — clean white walls with utilitarian furnishings, maps and blueprints pinned up by thumbtacks and the floor nothing more than simple tile.
Pete chucked at the Doctor’s dumbstruck expression. “She has the rest of the estate, this room is mine.”
The Doctor nodded. “I like it.”
Pete stood up from his desk and went over to the wet bar. He pulled out two cut-crystal glasses and dropped a couple of ice cubes in each before filling them with a sizable amount of scotch — Johnnie Walker Blue. He handed one to the Doctor saying, “You look like you could use this.” He motioned to one of the comfortable-looking chairs surrounding a coffee table in an alcove off the main office area.
The Doctor sank into the grey leather and took a large swig of his drink, purposefully not metabolizing the alcohol. He did need it.
Pete sat down opposite him, silently considering the man before him. It was the Doctor who spoke first.
“Thank you,” he said quietly, looking down at his glass. “For taking care of them. For everything.”
Pete took a hefty swallow of his drink as well. “You’re welcome,” he replied gruffly. He wasn’t good at this either. Not when it still hurt so much. Watching Rose struggle for the past three years was the hardest thing he’d ever done. He couldn’t fix the problem and it made him feel like a failure as a father. A father he never thought he’d be.
“You know, I never actually thanked you for giving me my family back,” he said after a moment.
The Doctor smiled slightly, meeting his gaze. “Wasn’t entirely sure you were thankful for that,” he admitted. “I dumped a complete family on you, replacing your wife with a stranger and giving you a daughter to care for who you barely knew.”
“The funny this is, it wasn’t anywhere near as hard to accept all that as I thought it was going to be,” Pete told him with a self-depreciating laugh. “They have a way of working themselves into your heart without you even realizing it.”
“That they do,” the Doctor agreed.
“So … I know you’ve only been here a day, but have you given any thought to what you’re going to do in this world? I know you probably don’t want to, but I’d like you to consider consulting at Torchwood. We could really use your help.”
“Wouldn’t be my first choice,” the Doctor bit out. The thought made his skin crawl. It was something he still had to talk to Rose about, he wasn’t all that keen on her working there anymore.
“I understand,” Pete acknowledged with a sigh. “It’s just that things have changed so much and we’re just struggling to keep up. Your insight would be invaluable.”
“I’ll consider it,” he said grudgingly.
“Can you tell me now why Rose and Jackie didn’t know it was you that came here with them?” Pete asked, unable to stop himself. It probably wasn’t any of his business, but whatever happened hurt Rose and he wanted to know why her husband led her to believe he abandoned her.
The Doctor grimaced. “It’s complicated, but when the meta-crises was first created, he only had one heart. He was part human. I thought it was better for Rose; he could offer her a real life. Age with her. And more importantly, not have the burden of all of space and time on his shoulders.”
“And you thought that’s what she wanted?”
“I thought it was what she deserved.”
“So, you were going to make that decision for her once again?” Pete shook his head in amazement. “Don’t really learn from your mistakes, do you? I mean, it worked so well the last time.”
That brought a chuckle from the Doctor. “No, not one of my strengths.”
“What changed your mind? You’re not exactly easy to persuade once your mind is made up. Believe me, I know.”
“It was a combination of things, really,” he admitted. “Nothing was as I thought. The other me was hit by an energy blast that sent his Time Lord DNA into overdrive, rewriting his human half. By the time we reached this world, he’d grown a second heart and was fully Time Lord, with twelve regenerations left. He’s going to outlive me by a millennia.”
“And if that hadn’t happened, you would have sent him here with your wife?”
The Doctor stood up and paced around the room, agitated. “You don’t understand. I had responsibilities. Donna was in danger because of the meta-crisis. I should have been the one to handle that! He took the blame, but it was my selfishness that created him in the first place. I didn’t want to regenerate and he was brought into being because of that. He’s over there suffering, cleaning up my mess, and I’ve been given everything I’ve dreamed of for the last three years!”
“How long are you going to punish yourself for the war?” Rose’s question came from the doorway where she stood, her arms wrapped tightly around her waist.
Pete looked at his daughter and back to the Doctor. “I’ll leave you two alone,” he said before gently kissing Rose on the forehead and pulling her into the office so he could close the door softly behind him.
Rose stared at him in disbelief. “He had to -convince- you to come with me, eh? You were planning on staying behind out of guilt, weren’t you?”
He flushed with shame, but refused to lie to her. “Yeah.”
“You deserve to be loved, you know,” she told him quietly. “You deserve a chance at happiness. We both do.”
“If I do, then so does he. Why does our happiness have to come at his expense?”
“Why are you so certain he won’t find it on his own?” she wanted to know.
“Because he’s me! He’s not a copy, Rose. He’s still me. A me without you, who just lost the love of his life for a second time and his best friend all in one day. I don’t think he’s going to survive.”
Her breath caught. “Because you didn’t think you were going to survive,” she realized in horror.
“I know I didn’t want to,” he told her honestly.
Rose’s heart broke for both of them. For the man who stood before her so filled with guilt he believed he deserved damnation and for the man who sacrificed what he wanted to give them their shot at forever.
“You owe it to him to stop this, you know. He chose this for you and me. He sacrificed himself for us. For our future. If you allow yourself to be eaten away by guilt and regret, it was all in vain.”
“I know, but it’s not easy. He’ll never even know about James and he was his son as much as mine.”
Rose considered this for a long moment. “I think you’re not giving him enough credit. I think it’s going to be hard on him, but in the end, he’ll go on. You always do.”
“No, that’s the point. He has no reason to anymore. You don’t understand.”
“Really?” Rose snorted “None whatsoever? He went on after the Time War. He went on after losing me. He went on after losing Sarah Jane. Are you seriously telling me there is no hope in his future? Because that certainly doesn’t sound like you.”
“River,” he whispered.
He smiled then. “River knew him in the future. His future.”
“Um ... well ... actually, she’s his wife.”
Rose raised an eyebrow. “His wife? You met his wife from the future?”
He laughed and picked her up to spin her around. “Yeah, except I thought she was mine!”
Rose looked down on him in confusion. “You thought she was your wife? How do you not know your own wife?”
“Because I hadn’t met her yet. She was a time traveler.”
“You had a time-traveling wife from the future?” Well, wasn’t that just peachy.
“No, you jealous little thing.” He put her down and kissed her soundly. “He has a time-traveling wife from the future. A time-traveling, pain-in-the-ass, archeologist wife ... to run with.”
Back to index
Chapter 11: In endless possibilityIn endless possibility
Rose spied the new pile of clothing, which mysteriously had appeared on their bed, and fought the bubbling laughter that threatened. Along with the packages of boxer briefs and socks, there were several dark-colored jumpers, black denims and a black leather coat that bore a striking resemblance to a jacket she hadn’t seen in a long time.
She didn’t dare look at him, biting her lip to keep silent.
“First thing tomorrow morning, we’re going shopping,” the Doctor growled.
Her shoulders shook with repressed laughter. “She always did like that look on you.”
He rolled his eyes. “I need to get some clothes before she has me in a 20-foot striped scarf, patchwork coat and celery boutonniere.” Yes, he fully admitted it; there was more than one questionable fashion choice in his past. Probably his future, too.
“I loved that scarf!” Rose interjected. “It was great in the cold. I could wrap it around myself like a hundred times.”
The Doctor smiled at the memory. The scarf was still in her bedroom on the TARDIS, hanging over the back of the door to the en suite, ends trailing on the floor. It was one of the few things left on the ship which still bore her scent.
“It looked much better on you,” he said with smiling eyes.
“So, I’m assuming we need to visit a tailor? Pin-striped suits and button downs with ties?”
“Always liked the ties,” she drawled, catching her tongue with her teeth. “So … versatile.”
“They were handy,” he leered at her, grabbing her around the waist to pull her flush against him, his desire evident as it pressed into her stomach.
“Doesn’t take much to set you off lately, does it?” Her hands trailed over his shoulders.
“If you remember,” he paused to nibble her neck. “It never took long for you to get me off.”
“I said ‘set you off,’” she laughed.
The fell on to the bed and Rose yelped as something far harder than she was used to dug into her hipbone. “What the hell is that?”
He rolled off her and pulled what looked like a rock from his pocket. “Oh, sorry.”
She sat up and grabbed it from him, wondering why he was carrying around a stone and gasped when she felt the warm presence of the TARDIS touch her mind. Not the full-on mental connection they used to share, this link seemed much weaker, but very familiar.
“Is this part of the TARDIS?” she asked in awe, her fingers closing around the piece of coral in an attempt to strengthen the connection.
“It’ll get stronger when she grows bigger,” he told her quietly, his eyes dark with an emotion she couldn’t quite name.
Rose remembered him telling her TARDIS’ were grown, not made when they were stuck on Krop Tor. She also remembered it took thousands of years. He was already planning for when she was gone. It shouldn’t hurt so much, but it did. She thought she’d accepted the fact that he was going to outlive her by hundreds of years, but apparently not as well as she thought.
“Hey?” He rested his hand on her knee and scooted closer. “What’s wrong? I thought you’d be happy we could travel again.”
“How can we travel when it takes so long for a TARDIS to grow?” she asked, confused.
“Donna figured out a way to accelerate the growth,” he replied. “Should only take about a year now.”
“Really?!” Rose squealed in joy and tackled him backward on the bed; her body sprawled over his. “Only a year?”
“So, you’re okay with this?” he asked, that same unfathomable emotion crossing his features.
She frowned down at him. “Of course, why wouldn’t I be?”
“Dunno,” he said with a shrug. “Thought maybe you’d want to settle down … have a family.”
She sat up slowly next to him and he followed suit, facing her. They’d never really discussed this possibility. When they were together before, the idea of anything domestic sent him into a tizzy. Hell, until the little line showed up on the pregnancy test, she never even thought they could have children together.
“Is that what you want?” she asked, drawing her knees up to her chest and crossing her arms around them.
The last time they got anywhere near this subject he’d twittered off on a tangent about having carpets and doors when she teased him about having to settle down like everyone else. He was so uncomfortable with the idea he didn’t even get her joke about them having to live together when they had been living together for nearly two years and sleeping together for almost half of that. It made her think he regretted bonding with her after their run in with Cybermen. He apologized later, when he realized he’d upset her with his careless comments, but it made her wonder if they weren’t as close as she thought they were.
“Would you believe me if I told you it’s what I always wanted with you?”
She viewed him thoughtfully. “Wanted but felt you couldn’t have? Or didn’t deserve?”
“Does it matter?”
“Yeah, actually it does,” she huffed. “Were you denying us a real future out of obligation or guilt? ‘Cause m’not crazy about either excuse, but the guilt thing is really starting to tick me off.”
He hung his head. She was right, again. For all his so-called reasons for not wanting to live a “normal” life, it was guilt that kept him running. And not just from the war. No, his guilt went back much further. It went back centuries.
“Rose, there’s so much you don’t know....”
Her eyes narrowed. “You can stop right there, Mr. I’m So Old and You’re Too Young to Understand,” she snarked. “We’re going to have to come to an understanding here, you and me. Either we’re equal partners in this or our relationship means nothing. Especially if you want kids. ‘Cause no way in hell are we doing that if you don’t respect me.”
“Of course I respect you!”
“Really? Enough to let me make my own decisions? To actually consult me before you make one?” she questioned him harshly. “I’m not sure you do. Just yesterday you were willing to leave me here with the other you because you thought it would be better for me. And you weren’t even going to give me a choice in the matter. Hell, you weren’t going to give either of us a choice!”
“What do you want me to say?” he bit out through gritted teeth, rising from the bed to pace across the room. “That I was wrong? That I should have talked to you about it? That I should have thought it through more?”
She watched silently from the bed as he ranted. Her heart breaking at his tortured questions.
“You’re right, okay!” he all but yelled. “You’re always right. I’m an idiot and almost destroyed everything. You have no idea how much I regret even thinking about leaving him with you! I wasn’t thinking straight, Rose. I admit it. Davros got to me. He was right, you know. I’ve destroyed so much ... killed so many.”
She went to him, sliding her arms around his waist, resting her head on his chest. “And saved so many more,” she reminded him, tears in her eyes.
He sighed and returned the hug, resting his cheek on the top of her head. “I’m so sorry.”
The Doctor picked her up and sat down on the loveseat in their room with her nestled in his lap. “You make me a better man, Rose. I need you more than I care to admit.”
“Need you too, you silly alien,” she laughed softly. “Better with two, yeah?”
He nodded. “Yeah.”
They sat quietly for a few minutes before Rose spoke again. “So, do you want to have children?” she asked tentatively, a little scared at the answer. “You never really said before. I didn’t even know we could....”
He tightened his embrace. “You were too young back then, but yes, I do want to have a family with you,” he said in way of explanation. “I can control my fertility, unlike some people.” He looked down at her with twinkling eyes when she pulled away with a snort.
“Apparently not that well, since you knocked me up!”
“Yeah, well, about that....”
She raised an eyebrow. “Go on then, explain to me how it happened, with all your superior Time Lord biology.”
“Iwasjealous,” he said in a rush, tugging at his ear.
“You were jealous?” Her eyes widened with disbelief. “Seriously, that’s your excuse? You were jealous quite often, if I recall. I didn’t end up pregnant when Prince Arizol wanted to sleep with me, why this time?”
“I didn’t like hearing about that dork with a bow tie you gave your virginity to,” he admitted guiltily.
“Then you shouldn’t have asked!”
“You have no idea how much I wish I hadn’t.”
“It was one night, you idiot.” She shook her head. “Not one I’m proud of either. One night stands aren’t really my thing.”
He dropped his forehead to hers. “I didn’t do it intentionally, Rose. Getting you pregnant. Just sort of more focused on making you forget him to remember to take care of other things. It wasn’t the fact that you had sex with him that bothered me, it was how fondly you remembered him. That night was special to you, as it should have been, really. I just didn’t like it.”
“So, you went all Neanderthal and decided to mark your territory?” Her lips twitched with a suppressed grin.
“Oi!” he exclaimed indignantly. “A lot was going on then! A demon had just told me I was going to lose you. I could see the storm approaching and knew we didn’t have much time. And we were going to see your mother! Had a lot on my mind, you know!”
Back to index
Chapter 12: On impossible thingsOn impossible things
The Doctor piloted the TARDIS through the vortex with his arm wrapped tightly around Rose’s waist. “Where to?” he asked her. “Somewhere quiet or are you up for another adventure?”
As soon as he asked the TARDIS shook with a mighty bang. His grip on Rose tightened and he spun her into the jump seat in a flash. “Secure yourself!” he ordered, turning back to the console, attempting to stabilize the shuddering ship.
“You need help...,” Rose began, rising from the seat.
The Doctor didn’t take his eyes off the monitor, pointing to the jump seat as he threw another lever. “You try it and I’ll tie you to it,” he growled. “Strap yourself in. Now!”
Rose huffed but did as he asked. “Should’a never made that promise,” she mumbled under her breath in frustration. “Bloody over-protective prat.”
“I heard that!”
“We’ve been pulled out of the vortex,” he told her, grimly. “Something’s dragging us across the void.”
Bloody hell, what did he do? The rift they were caught in was enormous. He’d never be able to close it alone. The damage to the fabric of time and space sent waves of horror through him. He’d never seen anything like it before. All of reality torn asunder, fraying at the seams, unraveling before his very eyes. What could have caused this kind of destruction? Blimey, this wasn’t even possible. Unless....
The air sucked from his lungs; he cursed soundly in Gallifreyan and proceeded to rant in his native language, doing his best to control the inevitable crash landing they were headed for. If they survived the next few minutes he was going to tear the fool’s head off when he found him. No, first he was going to beat him senseless and THEN he was going to rip the moron’s head off, he obviously didn’t need it as he certainly wasn’t using it. He was going to regenerate his ass on the spot. With absolutely no regret. Would that be considered murder or suicide?
“What wrong?” Rose raised an eyebrow at the outburst. Hadn’t heard that in quite a while. She could only make out a few words here and there, the TARDIS having decided not to translate for her, but recognized the cursing and caught the phrases “irresponsible idiot,” “it would be homicide” and “a thorough thumping.”
“Are you strapped in?” He ignored her question. “We’re going to crash.”
“Yeah, I’m in,” she confirmed. “How bad is it?”
“Bad enough,” he ground out. “But I think we’ll be okay. At least we didn’t lose power this time.”
“Brace yourself!” Dammit, she better not be injured because of this. He vowed a whole new world of hurt for the dolt if she was.
By some miracle, and don’t ask how because his piloting skills were adequate at best, he managed to get them down in a reasonably controlled landing, the impact nowhere near as jarring as it should have been. He rushed to Rose as soon as they stopped, running his hands over her, checking for injuries. “You okay?”
She grabbed his hands, stilling his frantic movements. “I’m fine, we’ve landed harder in our own backyard,” she assured him.
His breath whooshed out in relief.
“What’s going on?” she asked as he unstrapped her and helped her to her feet.
He wrapped her in a tight embrace. “I’m not sure, but I have an idea and if I’m right, we’re in big trouble.”
She just shrugged. “What else is new?”
“Come on,” he growled, reaching for her hand to lead her out the door.
Rose recognized her native world immediately. The energy just felt “right.” She didn’t need to look up to see the lack of zeppelins to know they were home.
“Oh,” she gasped and he tightened his grip on her hand when she saw the words ‘Bad Wolf’ written on every available surface.
“Okay, there?” he asked, concerned.
“Yeah, just didn’t expect....”
He nodded. “Something’s happened. All of reality is tearing apart.”
“Bad Wolf,” she whispered. “It called us here, didn’t it? He needs us.”
“He always needs you,” a voice said softly from behind them, a voice she recognized.
Rose spun around and saw a man she never thought she’d set eyes on again. “It’s you,” she realized. He looked exactly the same as the last time she saw him — waistcoat, bow tie, haunted green eyes.
“Hello, Rose,” he greeted her with a smile.
The Doctor next to her looked at the other man with narrowed eyes. “A bow tie?” he snorted. “That’s what you’re going with now?”
The dark-haired young woman next to him giggled. “At least he left the fez behind.”
The two couples approached each other slowly; the pinstriped Doctor’s face hardening when he realized why the bow tie irritated him. “You’ve got to be kidding me,” he muttered. “He looks like a clumsy giraffe.”
Rose elbowed him, sharply. “Focus, would’ya. We’ve got real problems here.”
“Your taste in men, being one of them,” he bit out.
“You do realize you’re insulting yourself,” she reminded him with a snort.
He ignored her, coming face to face with the other Doctor. “I always said you were dangerous.”
The green-eyed Doctor met the hostile glare head on. “You would know.”
“Crossing your own timeline?!” the Doctor raged. “What the hell possessed you? Do you have any idea the damage you’ve caused? You’ve ripped apart the void!”
“He did it for me,” Clara said. “He followed me into the time stream to rescue me.”
His jaw dropped. “You entered his timeline and lived? That’s not....”
Clara smiled, knowingly. “Possible. Yes, I know.”
Rose and the bow-tied Doctor stopped listening as she moved into his embrace, tears tracking down her cheeks at the love and longing radiating from his eyes. “It wasn’t that long ago for you was it?” she whispered against his ear.
His arms tightened around her. “No, only a few months. I needed you.”
“I’m glad you found me.” She threaded a hand into his hair and drew his head down for a tender, lingering kiss.
The Doctor in brown rolled his eyes. “Standing right here, Rose,” he drawled. “I’m standing right here.”
Clara viewed the younger Doctor thoughtfully. She’d never met this one before. She knew his face, of course. She’d seen many moments of his life, but this regeneration never needed her protection. Neither did the one before him, the one with piercing blue eyes and a penchant for leather. They weren’t like the man she met in the time stream either, the one who didn’t act in the name of the Doctor. No, these incarnations just hadn’t needed her to act — protected fiercely by the Wolf, she was redundant.
The Doctor and Rose pulled apart slowly, neither wanting to let go. “I like the new look,” she told, smiling softly as she moved back toward her Doctor not at all surprised when his arm snaked around her waist to pull her to his side possessively.
“Are you two finished?” he snarked, not liking the smug look on the other Doctor’s face one bit.
Rose just shook her head, turning her attention to the other Doctor’s companion. “Hello, I’m Rose,” she introduced herself, holding out her hand.
“I’m Clara,” the other woman responded, reaching out as well.
Time slowed for the floppy-haired Doctor as he finally (and didn’t it take far too long for him to figure this out?) knew who Clara was. “No!” he cried, a fraction of a second too late as the women’s hands met and a golden glow engulfed them both.
“I am the Bad Wolf,” they said simultaneously. “I create myself. I scatter myself across time and space to protect the Doctor. I am his and he is mine.”
Back to index
Chapter 13: Coming full circleComing full circle
“What the hell?!” the Doctor in pinstripes exclaimed, just catching Rose as she crumbled in a dead faint.
The other Doctor swung Clara up into his arms and headed to his TARDIS. “Bring her here,” he tossed over his shoulder at the dumbstruck Doctor.
The Doctor followed, carrying his wife, demanding answers. “What’s going on? What the hell was that?”
The man in the bow tie only barely registered the questions, too focused on sorting through everything. “Oh, I am slow,” he muttered. “Slow. Slow. Slow! It was all there and I didn’t see it!”
The Doctor strode through TARDIS doors, fast on the heels of the other couple, his only concern making sure Rose was all right. He barely took time to close the doors behind him and snick the lock into place before picking up the pace to get her to the med bay.
“You’ve redecorated,” he commented offhandedly in an effort to distract himself from the utter terror lodged in his hearts. “I don’t like it.”
“Really?” the man in front of him snorted. “All of space and time is collapsing and that’s what you’re concerned about? My choice in décor?”
“Remind me to pummel you repeatedly when they’re back on their feet for causing all this in the first place!” he ground out through clenched teeth.
He laid Rose on one of the med bay beds and pulled out his sonic, ignoring the other Doctor’s derisive snort. His tension lessened slightly when the scan showed her to just be asleep, but when he tried to scan further, he was blocked.
“Dammit!” he whispered, dropping the screwdriver next to Rose’s hip and undoing the fastenings on her coat to splay it open. He lifted her jumper and unfastened her slacks to expose the gentle swell of her stomach.
Placing his hand over her abdomen, he closed his eyes and tried to reach the baby with his mind. “Not again,” he all but prayed. “Please, not again.”
The floppy-haired Doctor turned around in concern at the frantic tone in the other man’s voice. He drew in a sharp breath when he saw where the Doctor’s hand was. “She’s pregnant,” he realized. “Is she…?”
“Rose is fine,” the Doctor told him with a frown. “But I can’t scan the baby, she’s shielding her.”
“She can do that?” he asked, surprised. He skirted around to the other side of Rose’s bed, having determined Clara was going to be okay.
“Yeah, she can do that,” the Doctor said with a small smile. He moved his other hand to her temple in an attempt to strengthen the connection. “Come on, Rose,” he pleaded. “Let me in, I just want to make sure she’s okay.”
The green-eyed Doctor placed his hand on Rose’s stomach just above her husband’s. “Let me help,” he implored, meeting the other man’s pained eyes.
The Doctor nodded, now wasn’t the time for ego. He watched as the other Doctor brought his fingertips to Rose’s other temple. They closed their eyes at the same time and worked together to break down the incredibly strong shield Rose had around the baby. It took quite a while before they made any progress with the Bad Wolf snarling at them the whole time. The Doctor trembled with fear as they slowly, ever so slowly, brought down Rose’s shield. It was nine minutes and forty-two seconds before they could finally sense the child, tucked safely away in Rose’s mind and body. Completely secure.
He stumbled back from his wife in relief and bumped the bed Clara was on, dragging air into his lungs with desperate gulp, not realizing he’d engaged his respiratory bypass.
“All right there, mate?” the Doctor asked him as he straightened Rose’s clothes out and covered her with a light blanket.
The Doctor shook his head. “Sit down before you fall down,” he waved at a chair in the corner of the room before walking over to Clara to cover her with a blanket as well.
That seemed to snap the other man out of his daze. “I’m fine,” he insisted, taking his place next to Rose once again to stroke the hair back from her forehead before dropping a kiss there.
“Yeah, you look it,” the man with the bow tie snorted and was greeted with a dark scowl.
“You can shut it or I’ll commence with the thumping you so desperately deserve,” he threatened without rancor, just grateful his family was safe.
“How long has it been for you?” he asked, watching the Doctor scan Rose again with his sonic.
“A couple of years,” he answered distractedly, checking the readings again. “You?”
“A couple of centuries,” he said with a small laugh before turning serious again, drawing in a shaken breath before continuing, “You’ve lost a child before, haven’t you?”
The Doctor stiffed, refusing to face him. “Yes.”
He shook his head. “No, it was a while ago.”
Something in his voice put the Doctor on alert. “How long ago?” he asked quietly, his whole body tightening with tension.
“How long?” he bit out, advancing on the Doctor.
The Doctor turned to face him. “It doesn’t matter.”
“The hell it doesn’t! How long ago was it!?” he demanded to know, his worst fears, the ones he never acknowledged in the light of day, coming to life right in front of him.
The Doctor sighed. “Five years.”
He closed his eyes briefly, shuddering at the implications. “How?” he choked out.
“There was an accident,” the Doctor told him as he reached for Rose’s hand to lace his fingers with hers. “He was born premature and only lived a day. His name was James.”
A million thoughts collided at warp speed in his mind. He should have known. She’d tried to tell them on that beach, oh so long ago now. He remembered when it must have happened, too. I had to have been the night before they went to see her mother, to tell her about their marriage. He’d been irate at how upset Rose had been the last time Jackie called and insisted they return for a visit. The thought of spending time with her mother had made his skin itch with the domestic implications. But, in all honesty, he’d long since made peace with the fact that he would do just about anything for Rose. So, they spent the night making love and talking about everything and nothing. It was the conversation about first times that did it. He remembered being insanely jealous, which took him completely by surprise. They’d talked about their other relationships before and it never bothered him, but this time, it made him nuts.
Of course it had, he was jealous of himself. If there was one being in the universe he couldn’t stand, it was the one he looked at in the mirror every morning.
He looked at the Doctor in pinstripes and shook his head with a bit of a smirk. “Talk about irony, eh?”
The Doctor folded his arms across his chest and frowned darkly. “Thanks for that, by the way.”
“You got forever,” he replied with a shrug. “The only thing I got all to myself was that one night. Are you really going to begrudge me that?”
“She’s my wife,” he hissed through clenched teeth.
“She was my wife once, too,” the Doctor reminded him sharply. “Besides, you should be thanking me.”
He raised an eyebrow. “How so?”
The Doctor smiled knowingly. “Now you don’t have to wonder anymore. Now you know your feelings won’t change if you regenerate again. You don’t have to live with that fear. You see, it’s been two hundred years for me and I still love her as much now as I did when we bonded.”
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Chapter 14: In everlasting forgiveness
Author's Notes: If I'd stop getting sidetracked with insistent plot bunnies and starting new stories, I might actually finish something. Sorry for the delay everyone.
In everlasting forgiveness
The Doctor stared at his counterpart for long moment, jaw clenched. He shouldn’t be angry, but he was. The idea of him still loving Rose that much made his hackles rise. “Still, after two centuries?”
“Might be closer to three now, actually,” the man in the bow tie admitted. “Kinda lost track for a while there. Not really sure how old I am anymore.”
“What about River?” He raised an eyebrow. “How does she feel about that?”
The Doctor squared off against his pinstriped accuser, fists clenched at his sides. “Be very careful with what you say,” he warned in a deadly quiet voice, not at all willing to listen to the jealous prat’s insinuations.
Pain radiated from the man and it knocked the Doctor down a peg or two. “She’s at the Library, isn’t she?”
“For a long time now.”
He grimaced in sympathy. “I’m sorry.”
“Always knew it would end that way,” he reminded the Doctor with a haunted smile. “Didn’t make it any easier, though.”
“No, don’t imagine it did,” he sighed. “Is that why you went looking for Rose in the past?” What the hell was the matter with him? He really didn’t want to know this, why was he asking?
The man in tweed shook his head. “No, that happened fairly recently. It had more to do with Clara.”
The Doctor glanced at the dark-haired girl still asleep on the med bunk and frowned. “Why does she look so familiar?”
“Because she scattered herself across all of time and space when she entered our time stream to save us. She’s been with us since the start,” he smirked.
The Doctor sucked in a huge breath as images throughout his time traveling assaulted him when the other Doctor opened a telepathic link to show him what he’d seen when he crossed their timeline — Clara appearing when he stole the TARDIS and telling him which one to take, Clara rescuing him time and time again, Clara comforting him in times of need. Hundreds, no thousands of times when she saved them. Through all their regenerations, except the two who traveled with Rose … when she wasn’t needed because she was already there.
“Bad Wolf,” he whispered in disbelief, eyes wide with something akin to horror.
“Yeah,” the bow tied Doctor confirmed with a frown. “And I didn’t figure it out until it was too late. But it certainly explains why I needed to find Rose when I did. There was something about Clara that brought it all back.”
He spoke matter-of-factly but watching her die not once, but twice and then finding her alive yet again had shook him to his core. After the incident with the Wi-Fi, which was far too reminiscent of his and Rose’s run in with the Wire, he’d sought her out, desperate to find solid ground again. Selfish and bordering on diabolical, he seduced the 16-year-old girl out of sheer need. Just one more sin added to the infinite list of his transgressions. Regret had fallen heavy in his hearts the second he was inside her. Not enough to stop him, mind you. Oh, no. He’d made love to her more than once, ruthlessly ignoring the voice in his head screaming at him stop. A special level of hell — the one reserved for child molesters and people who talk in the movie theater — awaits him for stealing her innocence; of that he was sure.
“Is she Rose?” the Doctor wondered aloud, still confused.
The question snapped him out of his revive. “No, she’s Clara,” he told him firmly with a shake of his head. “She fell to the world on a leaf, set adrift at the perfect time, in the perfect place, created out of a perfect love.”
“Rose made her possible when she was the Bad Wolf,” he concluded, the beginnings of understanding dawning on him. “When she saw all of reality, when she held the power of life in death in her hands.”
He looked down on his wife in awe. Would she never cease to amaze him? Even after all this time, everything they’d learned about the changes Bad Wolf wrought in her — her almost regenerative ability to heal, slowed aging process, strengthened telepathic ability — she still could astound him.
“Yeah,” the Doctor confirmed with a small smile. “She saw what was coming — all of it. She knew one of us would be unprotected after the meta-crisis … so she created a new protector.” He stopped to drop a kiss on Clara’s forehead.
The Doctor’s eyes widened with realization. “You’re in love with her.”
He straightened, keeping his back to the Doctor and busied himself with rearranging Clara’s blanket. “Don’t be ridiculous.”
Whether he was or not, wasn’t the point and he most definitely didn’t need to discuss the matter. He owed Clara his life a thousand times over and while he could never repay her for everything she’d done, he knew one thing with absolute certainty — he was her protector now ... and the thing she needed the most protection from was himself.
The other man snorted. “Still lying, I see. To yourself and everyone else.”
He turned around, his face a frozen mask. “Still the Doctor,” he reminded him.
The man in pinstripes crossed his arms over his chest. “It doesn’t have to be that way, you know. You don’t have to live like that.”
“Of course it does,” he flung his arms out in a display of frustration. “You know that better than anyone!”
He shook his head. “What I know is that once you forgive yourself, life stops being so impossibly difficult. There’s joy to be found when you stop running.”
“I don’t have that luxury,” he bit out. “And neither of us have the time to debate this. Because I don’t think Rose knew just how far Clara would go when she made her possible. I’m not sure she could see the decision to enter our time stream. From what I’ve seen, I think Bad Wolf lives in Clara as much as she lives in Rose and their ability to alter timelines might be independent of the other.”
The Doctor rocked back on his heels as if the words came as physical blows. “If that’s true, Rose and I need to get back to our universe quickly,” he realized grimly. “They can’t occupy the same timeline for long and remain intact. They’ll tear each other apart atom by atom.”
“I know and that’s going to be an issue,” he sighed. “With the void ripped open like it is, even sending you back won’t solve the problem, the universes are going to start bleeding into each other.”
“It’s an open wound,” he confirmed, closing his eyes. Two years, that’s all they got of forever. After everything they’d been through, all the pain, all the loneliness, the universe still conspired against them. His fists clenched at his sides in an effort to stay in control.
Rose stirred, sensing his distress. She reached out and touched the back of his waist. “Hey,” she whispered. He spun around, bending over her to rest his forehead against hers as he grasped her hand. “Hey, yourself.”
“What happened?” she asked, slowing sitting up with his help, grateful for the strong arm around her waist.
“The world is coming to an end … again,” he said lightly, but she saw the seriousness of the situation in his expression.
Closing her eyes, she focused on their link, seeking out the problem instead of asking. Sorting through the images and memories, it didn’t take long for her to get a handle on things. This bond of theirs came in dead useful at times. He kept his hands on her waist as she traveled through his thoughts, wishing with both his hearts there was a solution to the problem, but not seeing any way out this time.
When she finally opened her eyes and met his resigned gaze, she broke into a wide smile. “Seriously?” she laughed with such joy he couldn’t help but grin back. “That’s all you’re worried about? Closing the rift?”
The other Doctor moved closer to them and raised a non-existent eyebrow at her. “It’s a bit of a problem, yeah. I mean we don’t exactly have a thousand TARDIS’s on hand to repair the void. The boundaries between the worlds are failing everywhere, throughout time. The damage is massive.”
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Chapter 15: For new beginnings
Author's Notes: Just the epilogue left now. Thank you everyone for all your support and encouragement. Not to mention your patience. Hope you had as much fun reading this as I did writing it.
For new beginnings
Rose smiled at the floppy-haired Doctor’s indignation. He really wasn’t so different than her Doctor, or even the one before. Her gazed drifted to Clara as she noted the other woman was waking.
“You might want to see to her.” Rose nodded to the other bed and the Doctor spun around instantly, stalking back to his companion.
He helped Clara sit up and kept a firm arm around her waist while he quickly scanned her with the sonic. She let him hover for a minute, knowing he had to see for himself she was all right - the mother hen. Rose’s lips quirked as she met Clara’s indulgent grin while he fussed, muttering about jeopardy friendly companions.
“Hasn’t changed all that much, has he?” the unspoken questioned floated into Clara’s head, Rose’s silent laughter twinkling in her mind and she shook her head in response.
“I’m fine,” Clara told him softly after a few minutes, covering his hand with hers in reassurance.
For a moment, that’s all that mattered. Collapsing universes, bleeding realities, former wives and annoying previous regenerations stopped existing and for one timeless moment, the only thing that mattered was his Impossible Girl. His stubborn, reckless, self-sacrificing, completely wonderful girl. He dragged her into his arms, cradling her head against his chest with his hand and let out a shuddering breath of relief.
“You’re going to be the death of me, woman,” he whispered fiercely over the top of her head. “This old man can’t take much more.”
She laughed softly, tilting her head up to brush her lips across his cheek. “I’m sorry,” she whispered back. “I’ll make it up to you later.”
Just thought of what that promised had him growing hard. Everywhere. He pulled away from her with a low growl. Twelve hundred years and she could reduce him to a horny teenager. “You’re teasing me? Now? The mulitverse is dying and you’re coming on to me? You have terrible timing, Clara Oswald.”
Rose laughed delightedly behind them, leaning he head into her Doctor’s shoulder. “I chose well, didn’t I?” she asked with a knowing grin and he stiffened.
Rose nodded, hopping down of the gurney with his help. “Now I do.”
“So do I,” Clara told them, also getting of the bed with her Doctor’s assistance. She reached out for Rose’s hand and the man in the bow tie yanked her back.
“You can’t touch her!” he yelled and Clara shushed him.
“It’s all right,” she reassured him and moved toward Rose again. Both Doctor’s tensed as they watched with baited breath while the women stared at each other for a long moment.
There was so much she wanted to say, but time (of all things) worked against them. In the end, however, there was really only one thing that she needed Rose to know. “Thank you,” Clara whispered, tears gathering in her eyes.
Rose smiled, blinking back tears of her own. “Just love him, that’s all the thanks I need.”
“Forever,” she promised.
The pinstriped Doctor couldn’t miss the flash of pain across his counterpart’s face. Forever was considerably shorter than any of them ever believed.
“Oi!” Rose turned and nailed him with a hard look. “Stop being so fatalistic! We’re not going to die today. No one is.”
“Rose,” the man with green eyes sighed. “It’s too late. The damage is done. There’s very little time left.”
“Life of the party, you are.” Clara rolled her eyes and Rose bit back a laugh.
“Oh, ye of little faith,” Rose said with a shake of her head, grabbing her Doctor’s hand. “Come on, let’s go.”
“Home, silly,” she told him with a dry chuckle. “The rift is closing fast, if we don’t leave soon, we’ll be stuck here and I don’t think this universe can take two of you for any length of time.”
“How do you know it’s closing?” he asked, following her to the flight deck in with the other Doctor and Clara right behind him.
“It’s not,” the floppy-haired Doctor exclaimed in exasperation. “It’s too big. It couldn’t be closed with a hundred TARDIS’ and we certainly don’t have that.”
Rose rounded on him when she reached the time rotor, hands on hips. “Is he always this slow?” She flicked a glance at Clara.
“Depends,” she drawled. “Not usually with the time and space stuff like this, but it’s been a long day.”
With realization dawning, the Doctor watched his wife turn around and activate the monitor. “See for yourself,” she instructed with a wave of her hand.
The other Doctor marched up to the console while she leaned back against her husband. “Don’t you want to look?” she asked, closing her eyes in contentment when his arms looped around her waist to hold her tight.
“Nope,” he chuckled, dropping a kiss on her shoulder. “I’m not distracted by raging hormones and lack of blood-flow to the brain. I know how the rift is repairing itself.”
Rose harrumphed. “You could be, you know. It doesn’t take that much to ... distract you.”
“Later, you can distract me until you’re heart’s content,” he promised. “We’re a bit pressed for time.”
“I don’t understand ...,” the Doctor trailed off in confusion. The rift had indeed begun closing itself, timelines knitting back into place one by one, repairing the damage and leaving no trace.
“Clara will explain it to you,” the skinny man told him with a smirk. “We need to get back to our TARDIS and our universe.”
Rose gave the confused man one final hug and a kiss on the cheek. “Goodbye, Doctor.”
He smiled down at her tenderly. “Goodbye, Rose Tyler.”
She moved to Clara next, embracing her quickly, almost giving their men heart attacks, and whispered, “The Moment is coming,” as they pulled apart.
Clara grasped both her hands. “I know.”
Rose nodded and took the hand her Doctor held out, letting him pull her toward the exit. He paused after swinging the door open, looking back at the Doctor and Clara.
“One more thing. You were right back then; Bad Wolf changed much more than we realized,” the pinstriped Doctor told him, looking at Clara purposefully. “Made things possible we could never have imagined.”
The Doctor smiled back. “Things like forever, eh?”
“Things like forever,” he confirmed. “Maybe more than once, too.”
His eyes widened and he looked at Rose, who wore a secret smile. “Run!” she warned him with a laugh as her Doctor tugged her away.
They hurried back to their TARDIS, catching a glimpse of Clara and the Doctor watching from the door of theirs. Within second the Doctor had them hurtling through the void on their way home, his arm secure around her waist.
“You are quite remarkable,” he told her, eyes sparkling with delight. “One might even say impressive.”
“One might,” she agreed, winding her arms around his neck to pull his mouth down to hers.
Back in their original universe another Doctor and his companion were also locked in a passionate embrace. Suddenly, he broke the kiss and drew back.
“Scattered across all of time and space!” he realized. “You my TARDIS everywhere, in every time, to close the rift.”
“Now you’re getting it, clever boy,” Clara laughed.
He picked her up and spun her around with joy before kissing her soundly. This time when he pulled back, however, his expression darkened. “We are going to have a serious talk about your propensity toward dangerous undertakings of late.”
Clara grinned impishly and let her fingers wander under his coat to trail lightly along his ribs. “Can you scold me later? I’m a little tired and would like to take a bath and catch a little sleep.”
He frowned down at her. “Sorry, you’re right. It’s been a hell of a day.” With great reluctance, he let his arms drop and stepped away from her. “Off to bed with you. I’ll see you in the morning.”
She stared at him for a moment then shook her head with a chuckle. “Didn’t say I wanted to do it alone.” And with that, she headed off down the corridor.
It took far longer than it should have for him to connect the dots. “Slow. Slow. Slow,” he muttered as he followed her a minute later.
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Chapter 16: Next stop: everywhere
Author's Notes: Well, this is it. Thanks for sticking with the story, even with all the long delays. Everyone has been so wonderful, thank you all!
Next stop: everywhere
The Doctor swayed on his feet, rocking his newborn daughter in his arms, hoping to keep her quiet a few minutes longer. He glanced to the bed where Rose lay sleeping and frowned slightly at the dark circles under her eyes and exhaustion etched in her features. It had been a long and difficult labor and guilt washed over him. Never again, he vowed silently.
Rose smiled, but didn’t open her eyes. “Never say never,” she reminded him quietly, voice husky from the protracted ordeal.
The Doctor snorted. “If you think I’m letting you do that again, you’re delusional.”
She opened her eyes and motioned for him to bring the baby to her as she sat up, wincing at the movement. “If you think you can stop me, you are.”
“Rose,” he growled seeing the flash of pain skirt across her face. He carefully placed the baby in her outstretched arms and smiled softly when she immediately began to root at Rose’s breast.
Sliding in behind her on the bed, he settled Rose against his chest for support and watched as she dropped the strap of her nightgown and cradled their daughter’s head, guiding her to latch on.
Holding them both, tears gathered in the corners of his eyes as he stroked his daughter’s cheek with his fingertip. He didn’t deserve this. Too many children lost their lives because of him. Billions. He’d murdered all the children of Gallifrey and now he’d been presented the most precious gift of their child. He’d fought so hard over the last couple of years to forgive himself, but deep down, the regret remained and now it threatened to crush him.
Rose looked up at him when he tensed behind her and smiled softly. “You didn’t, you know.”
“Didn’t what?” he asked confused.
“Rose,” he sighed, but she just shook her head.
“I couldn’t tell you before, but The Moment is here; I can feel it.”
He stiffened behind her. “You said that … when you went into labor. Scared the hell out of me. Didn’t expect Bad Wolf to announce the coming of our child.”
They’d been in the nursery the TARDS provided them just off their bedroom folding baby clothes and laughing at how domestic their lives had become and she suddenly dropped the sleeper in her hand and looked at him with those damn gold eyes that he hoped to never see again and said, “The Moment is here.”
She chuckled softly. “She wasn’t announcing Donna’s arrival; she was letting me know it was time. S’probably why I went into labor early, though.”
“Not making much sense here, Rose,” he sighed, worry lacing his voice. When Bad Wolf showed herself, it usually meant things were about as bad as they could get.
“It’s already happened,” she reassured him. “You chose a different path and changed the past.”
“Still not making sense.”
“You changed the end of the Time War,” she said softly. “The Doctor … the other Doctor … and Clara and the one who made the decision and the one who was like you, they did it differently this time. The Moment came and they didn’t destroy Gallifrey.”
He tilted her chin up with his finger to look into her eyes. “That’s not…,” he broke off when she opened her mind to his and let him see what she had done such a long time ago now.
The Doctor gasped, reeling as he watch the decision play out in his mind as if he was there. As if he was the one making the choice.
“You were,” she whispered, tears falling from her eyes. “He’s still you and you’re still him.”
He swallowed hard, not able to find the words he needed to say. She’d saved him. Again. But this time she saved more than his life; she saved his soul — both of theirs.
He remembered her telling the Dalek emperor, “The Time War ends” and the true scope of what that statement entailed revealed itself as he saw her find him when he needed her the most. When that one decision would change the course of history. When it wasn’t possible to get it right; she made it possible.
“You showed me the future I needed to see,” he breathed in awe.
“Now you’re getting it,” she grinned up at him.
“Will he find Gallifrey?”
Rose frowned slightly. “Yes, he will ... eventually. But the path won’t be easy.”
“What’s wrong?” He didn’t like the troubled note in her tone. “Is he going to lose Clara?”
Her frown deepened. “He was...,” she trailed off, staring unseeingly past him. “But things are changing again. She’s changing them.”
“Bad Wolf?” he asked in dread.
“No,” she said with a shake of her head. “Clara ... something’s different ... I think we changed their future when we were there.”
“How? We didn’t do anything,” he reminded her.
“I did. I touched her.”
His eyes widened. “She wasn’t supposed to know, was she?”
Rose sighed. “It’s not whether she was supposed to know, it’s that she didn’t know before and now she does. They were headed for Trenzalore.”
He sucked in a huge breath. “And now they’re not?”
“They are, but....”
“But, what?” he growled. She was driving him spare with her cryptic answers and vague replies.
“She’s not going to let him send her away this time. She’s going to make him fight for forever.”
“He sent her away before? Just like....”
She nodded. “Yeah, just like us.”
“It didn’t work out so well the first time, eh?”
“No, but everything’s changed now ... there’s something I can’t quite ....”
She bit her lip and closed her eyes to concentrate; seeing across realities taking more energy than she currently had at the moment and she trembled in his arms at the strain.
“Rose,” grumbled in warning. “It’s not important. You need to rest right now.”
“I can almost....” she grimaced before breaking out in a broad smile “Oh!”
Across the multiverse the Doctor closed the TARDIS doors softly, taking a moment to rest his head against the wood and let out the proverbial breath he’d been holding all day. How they managed to pull that off was beyond him; they really weren’t that clever. For all their arrogance and bluster, they spent most of their lives bumbling about, surviving on blind luck.
And apparently most of that so-called luck was really the women they loved defying the laws of space and time to protect them.
“All right there?” Clara asked quietly as her arms crept around his waist and she rested her cheek against his back, hands splayed over his chest to hold him close in comfort.
“I’m always all right,” he answered automatically, but for the first time in centuries, he realized with a chuckle, it was the truth.
The Doctor turned in her embrace and tangled a hand in her hair, cradling her head against his chest while his other splayed across the small of her back, locking her against him. He drew in a shuddering breath and her scent surrounded him, causing his whole body tightened. She smelled incredibly good. She always did to him, but for some reason it was better than usual tonight.
She listened to the beat of his hearts with closed eyes, smiling when his lips brushed across her temple before following a path down her cheek and across her jaw, finally finding her mouth and kissing her gently, his tongue sliding deep to taste her and he froze.
Lifting his head, he stared at her in shock.
“You’re pregnant!” he blurted out.
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