Falling For You, All Over Again by jinni



Summary: AU. Nine. Post-Doomsday. It should be impossible but nothing is ever impossible where the Doctor is concerned. Nine/Rose/Jack
Rating: All Ages
Categories: Ninth Doctor
Characters: Jack Harkness, Rose Tyler, The Doctor (9th)
Genres: Drama
Warnings: None
Challenges: None
Series: None
Published: 2006.07.09
Updated: 2007.04.15


Index

Chapter 1: Prologue
Chapter 2: Chapter One
Chapter 3: Chapter Two
Chapter 4: Chapter Three
Chapter 5: Chapter Four
Chapter 6: Chapter Five
Chapter 7: Chapter Six
Chapter 8: Chapter Seven
Chapter 9: Chapter Eight
Chapter 10: Chapter Nine
Chapter 11: Chapter Ten
Chapter 12: Chapter Eleven
Chapter 13: Chapter Twelve


Chapter 1: Prologue

Title: Falling For You, All Over Again
Author: Jinni (jinni.fanfic@gmail.com)
Rated: R
Disclaimer: All things Doctor Who belong to the BBC, et al.
Spoilers: Doomsday.
Author’s Note: This has been in my head since I woke up this morning. I must write it. I must.
Summary: It wouldn’t make sense for there to be a Doctor in this reality. Then again — when did things have to make sense?

~*~Prologue~*~

It wouldn’t make sense, of course, for there to be a Doctor in this reality; but that had never stopped Rose from believing before. After all, she had seen some pretty nonsensical things during her travels with the Doctor. Like a consciousness that could float from body to body, inhabiting them for periods of time — like Cassandra had done… repeatedly. Or like the Gelth — aliens that needed corpses to survive. Or …

Lots of things that made no sense, yes. Not to her. Maybe to the Doctor.

Probably to the Doctor, that was.

And he would say that it was impossible, there being an alternate him in this universe.

But the Doctor had been wrong before. In fact, he seemed to sort of like it when he was wrong. It made him a grinning, giddy fool.

He had taught her well, too. To question, not to discount. To look into things more than just the surface showed.

So when she first stumbled upon the references in the Torchwood database — quite by accident because she hadn’t even been looking for them to begin with — she didn’t immediately dismiss them as being impossible; simply because that was not what the Doctor would have wanted.

Because being impossible had never stopped anything from happening before.

Rose licked her lips, staring at the screen. Her eyes flitted back and forth, reading word after word, absorbing sentence after sentence. Just one account at first. About when the Doctor — her Doctor — visited from the alternate universe. But there was a reference, to another file. An older file.

Hesitantly — almost reverently — Rose clicked the link to that file.

Her breath caught in her throat. There he was. Her Doctor.

Her original Doctor.

She reached out, unthinking, and touched the screen in front of her; tears lodging in the back of her throat. Leather jacket, almost-shaved head. Intense eyes. Yes, this was him. The picture was old, from the fifties or thereabouts she would hazard a guess — but it was him. The breath she had been holding was let loose in a sigh so loud that it seemed to fill the room.

The Doctor.

~*~*~

It took her ages to come up with a plan to get him to take notice. Couldn’t just wait around, hoping that he decided to pop back by Earth — because no matter how often he did that, how often he returned to London or Cardiff — there was the chance that he would miss her. She had to make waves. Make ripples in all of time to get him to take notice of her, or at the very least — Torchwood.

So she did the one thing that she would never have otherwise considered — trusting that the Doctor would be able to fix it all when and if he found her.

She betrayed him.

In absolute detail, Rose set about making an account of not only her travels with the Doctor of her world, but everything she knew about him. It wasn’t much — but it was more than the people of Torchwood — or this world — should have known. It was enough, she hoped, to set off flags somewhere in the tardis’ consciousness that this was wrong that it needed to come here and now to make it right. The Doctor would step out, thinking he’d landed in one place as usual — and find himself here.

Still, she felt as if this was a betrayal.

She hoped he wouldn’t see it that way. Hoped that he wouldn’t take it as a threat to himself.

No. He wouldn’t. He would be curious. Curious to a fault, even.

”Always so curious,” she whispered under her breath, typing out the last of her words. The accounts would be different. The Doctor in this universe would never have had those travels with her that she’d had with the other Doctor. But she trusted that the basic facts remained the same. Things like Gallifrey and Time War.

Things that should not be told. Not here. Not now. Not to the people of Torchwood.

She just wanted to talk to him, she told herself. Whether or not she could ever travel with him again, she wanted to see him. Compare him? Yes, she wanted that to. In a morbid way, she wanted to compare him to her original Doctor. Wanted to see if some things had remained the same. Was he still bitter and hard? Had he found someone to work through that with, as her second Doctor had once told her he had done with her?

There was no way to know for sure without doing it.

Still, her fingers trembled as she finished the last of the new file. The one that she would send to her superior for review and inclusion into the Torchwood database. Her heart raced and her blood pumped furiously in her chest. Loud. Fast. Hard. Too fast. She was getting lightheaded, hyperventilating just at the thought of doing this.

With the push of a button, Rose set off what she hoped would be a red flag in all of this reality’s space and time.

~*~*~

She wasn’t sure what she had expected to happen — but the near immediate sound of the tardis materializing in her office was not it.

Rose scrambled to her feet, backing up a couple steps; watching as the familiar blue box appeared slowly in front of her. She ran her hands along her pants, trying to rid them of the film of sweat that suddenly appeared.

Of course. He could be there at any second in time. It made sense, then, that he would be here to quickly. That he would choose this moment to come and undo the damage that she had done.

The whining groan of the engine faded to nothing. Until there was just her and the tardis, face-to-face, so to speak. And her waiting for the Doctor to pop his head out and ask her how she knew so very much about him, of course. Was he in there, right now, watching her watch the tardis? Was he looking her over, trying to place her?

Or had he already researched her and found out what little there was to know about her in this reality? Adopted daughter of Jackie and Pete Tyler — that’s what she was officially, set up through all kinds of legal channels. Adopted daughter, because in this world the Tylers had never had a daughter Rose.

No past beyond that. Just her time here, at Torchwood. No past beyond when she had been sucked into this reality, by her father, to save her life. Only then had she become a permanent part of this timeline, she reasoned. Only then had her past, present, and future truly begun here and ended there.

By the time the door opened, she was faint in the legs from nervousness. It didn’t open slowly, either. It was opened just as he’d always opened it — like he had a purpose. Then again, he usually did. Rose sucked her lower lip into her mouth and bit down, doing her best not to whimper.

The Doctor.

Not her Doctor, she reminded herself; just in case the urge to run over and hug him overcame him.

There he was.

Rose leaned back against the wall behind her as suddenly her legs were too weak to hold her any longer. He was there. In front of her, watching her curiously.

”Doctor,” she whispered.

The corner of his mouth twitched. “Rose Tyler, I presume?”

~*~END PROLOGUE~*~

Back to index


Chapter 2: Chapter One

~*~Chapter One: Nice to Meet You, I Think~*~

There was that little part at the back of her mind that was insisting that she should say something; verify that yes, she was Rose Tyler, and that she was definitely the one that he was looking for.

The battered leather jacket looked the same as it had in her reality. Same piercing eyes and cut of hair. Same way that he leaned against things, arms crossed over his chest, one ankle over the other. Even the same intensity to his gaze; so deep and penetrating that she had once wondered if he could see right inside of her.

Then again, maybe he could. She hadn’t found out until he regenerated what being ‘slightly telepathic’ meant to him. It meant a lot more than she’d thought. He could get inside someone’s head and look at their thoughts. Wasn’t too hard to believe that the Doctor could see right to your soul if he wanted.

The thing was — and this was had always counted on — was that the Doctor would never want to look that deep inside of anyone. Not her, most especially. It was about trust.

But this Doctor didn’t trust her. She could see that in the way he was watching her. She couldn’t blame him, either.

“Are you Rose Tyler?”

She nodded and leaned a little more heavily against the wall. It really was the only thing holding her up at this point. Bit of plaster and wood. Nothing more. If it wasn’t there, she’d fall right onto her bottom, because her legs were in no shape to support her.

Her Doctor, right here in front of her.

No, not her Doctor. Her Doctor was in her reality. This Doctor didn’t know her.

“Are you all right? You look pale. Are you going to fall over?”

Then he was moving. Before she could say a word he had taken the chair from behind her desk and placed it in front of her, urging her into it with a hand on her elbow. And if she shut her eyes for just a second, she imagined she’d be able to forget that the hand that touched her was not the one that she’d known so very well. The one that had held her hand through countless adventures; reassuring her, guiding her.

But he wasn’t him and that hand wasn’t his.

“Just feeling a bit faint,” she muttered, pulling from his grasp gently. Not meaning to be rude, but unable to take the reminder of his touch. He took the hint and also a step back; watching her, but not saying a word.

Well, if he was waiting for her to explain herself, she wasn’t about to disappoint him.

Just as soon as she knew where to begin.

“You’re here about the reports, yes?” she asked quietly, risking a glance up. He didn’t seem angry at the mention of them, and a little weight eased off of her heart. “Probably wonderin’ how I know all that stuff?”

“You’re from an alternate reality.”

The instantaneous response made Rose’s mouth snap shut. She frowned. Shouldn’t be too surprised, she guessed. He was the Doctor, after all, and the Doctor, as he had always been fond of telling her in his last incarnation, was brilliant. “Guess not, then.”

“What I don’t understand, is why you’re here in the first place,” he knelt on the floor at her feet, watching her. The question was so blunt that it rankled at Rose’s already frazzled nerves.

“Didn’t you read the report?” she snapped, unable to stop herself. She blushed when she realized what she’d done and sat back in the chair with a sigh. “The Doomsday report, didn’t you read it? S’obvious you read the others.”

“The Cybermen versus the Daleks,” the Doctor said, mouth turning up in a grim smile. “Sounds like a science fiction movie.” He paused and the smile faded to worry. “And now they’re all in the Void?”

Rose nodded. “Yeah. All of ‘em. I hope.”

“That makes two of us,” the Doctor responded. “And Pete Tyler popped in at the last moment to save you, bring you here, to this world, just when you were about to go into the Void yourself?”

Another nod and a sigh came from Rose’s lips. She felt suddenly so weary, as if the weight of that day was hanging on her shoulders all over again. Of all the ways she’d imagined this going, this wasn’t it. Not this calm, almost cool interrogation. She’d thought maybe anger, maybe blazing curiosity. But not this. Never this.

“Problem is, Rose Tyler — you were never meant to be a part of this world. Oh, I know. And your mum was meant to die here and Rickey was supposed to slough off himself, not be replaced by your Mickey. All of that is one thing. But you, Rose Tyler. You know too much to be here, taking up space where no Rose Tyler was meant t’take up space. Your very existence in this reality could do more harm than good. Everything where you are concerned is blank up here,” he tapped his head. “Not. Good. You could change everything with one wrong word. Things that these people aren’t supposed to know. You traveled with the other me for far too long just to get dropped off, working for people like this Torchwood.”

She felt fear thread its way through her heart and body. It made her heart speed up, her breath catch in her throat. For all that she knew that the Doctor — her Doctor — would never harm someone, even if it was for the greater good; she worried that maybe, just maybe, she was too much of a liability. That, coupled with the fact that she didn’t know one thing about how this Doctor in front of her worked made her very, very nervous.

“I won’t say anything.”

“You already did,” he pointed out. And there was the anger that she had expected. That sharp, biting anger that she had rarely known to come down upon her.

“I wanted —“

“To get my attention. And now you have it.” Again his smile was something short of happy and very close to dangerous.

Rose’s thoughts skidded to a halt, crashing into one another in her head until there was a pileup and all she could think about was one thing —

She was Rose Tyler and she didn’t let anyone, the Doctor or not — talk to her like this.

Standing slowly, Rose put her arms over her chest and raised an eyebrow at him. “Right. Now I have it. Silly me, wantin’ to see if the man that I … cared about so much…” she fumbled over the words, unwilling to admit them now, to him. The Doctor that mattered knew how she felt and that was enough for her. “…even existed in this world. Stupid ape, right?” She goaded him. “And yeah, I know too much. So —what-?”

The corner of his mouth twitched up, just a bit. Almost a smile. Rose felt her mouth doing the same and squashed it. She wasn’t going to fall into that old routine. He flashes her a grand old smile and she does so right back.

“Means I can’t let you just stay here, wanderin’ through this time line,” he said with a shrug.

There was that nervousness again, but Rose refused to give into it. The Doctor wasn’t about to kill her just because her existence in this reality could cause problems. That, she could be certain of.

She hoped.

“Oh?” Rose asked. “Can you take me back to my own timeline, then?”

It was a silly question. A silly, silly question and she knew it. Of all the impossible things that the Doctor had ever mentioned, she was sure this was one that was going to stay that way. Mickey and the others coming through the first time had been a fluke. And the Doctor would have made sure the world was all sealed tight from this one, now. He wouldn’t let something like that happen again.

Then again, this was the Doctor, too — standing here watching her like… like… like she’d lost her mind.

“You know I can’t do that.”

“Was worth a shot,” she sighed, giving him half a smile.

“S’pose it was,” he grinned suddenly and it was the same grin that Rose had fallen for so very long ago. She bit the inside of her cheek to keep from whimpering under the onslaught of feeling that it dredged up from within her. So hard to see him here and know he wasn’t hers. “Would you want that anyway? Give up your family? Your little sister?”

Little Anna. Not even half a year old. Rose swallowed, the thought of never seeing her again bringing tears to her eyes. But like she’d said to the Doctor once, she had made her decision, and it was him. It would always be him.

“Like you said,” she shrugged. “’M not meant to be here.”

She wouldn’t discuss those feelings with this Doctor. Wouldn’t tell him of how she had loved her Doctor and how she was positive that he had loved her in return.

“Right,” he nodded. “You’re not. Which leaves only one option.”

Rose took an instinctual step back, hands clenching into fists. Even as she did it and saw the surprise on the Doctor’s face, followed by something remotely like exasperation, she knew she was being ridiculous.

“I’m not that different from your Doctor,” he growled, waggling a finger at her in chastisement that was somewhat diminished by the amusement in his eyes. “And that includes not being the sort to just hurt someone like that, Rose Tyler.”

“Of course,” she nodded, giving him another smile. “So…what then?”

“You’ll come with me, of course.”

“I’ll… sorry, could you repeat that?” Rose murmured, unsure that she had heard him right the first time.

“Well I can’t let you go traipsing about where you don’t belong and I can’t take you back to your own reality,” he pointed out, needlessly. “That only leaves two options — me trying to take your memories from you —“

“Don’t you dare!” Rose shouted.

“Which I wouldn’t do!” the Doctor rolled his eyes. “I realize we just met — but your lack of faith in me is something else.”

She blushed.

“Or, I can take you with me. Keep an eye on you. Well, take you away from this timeline entirely, really,” he continued on.

Rose couldn’t swallow, couldn’t breathe. Travel with the Doctor again? It was like a dream come true except… this wasn’t her Doctor. It was a Doctor that looked like her first Doctor but he wasn’t that Doctor --

She put a hand to her head. This was getting confusing, even by her standards.

“I —“ she stammered, shaking her head. “I mean… Would I be able to visit my family… like before, with my Doctor?”

“Does it matter? Seems to me like you’d leave them without a second thought if I could take you back to your reality.”

She frowned. It wasn’t like that at all. “S’not like that. I just… I’m not meant for this anymore. And…” she broke off, looking away; still positive that he didn’t need to know those things. Not her feelings. “There are other reasons I would go back to him. But,” she emphasized, “if I am staying in this reality, then there’s no reason we can’t visit. Dropping by every now an’ then wouldn’t give me time to mess up the timeline, right?”

“Right,” he grinned broadly. “I just wanted to see if you could work that out on your own. Just don’t expect me to do the visiting with you. I —“

“Don’t do domestic,” Rose cut him off with a roll of her eyes. “Yeah, I know. Some things just don’ change.”

The Doctor’s grin grew. He rubbed his hands together briskly. “I’ve already taken care of your reports, so if everything is settled for the time being… in with you.” He tilted his head at the door of the tardis.

Rose grinned. She put her hand in her pocket, taking out her key. “This still work?”

“Try it.”

She put the key to the lock, not even really surprised that it turned easily. The tardis was still the tardis, no matter where it was in time, space, or alternate realities.

“Oh, before —“

Rose heard the words as she opened the door, but was already caught in the motion. She looked up, hearing the Doctor mutter something under his breath about her seeing soon enough. And she wondered, briefly, what he meant. Only briefly, though, because that was when she caught sight of a very familiar head of hair and a grin that she’d know anywhere. The Doctor’s hand on her elbow and his voice reminding her that this man wasn’t the same, either, were all that stopped her from throwing herself at him. Instead she laughed and it was half-sob.

The one person she’d given up hope on ever seeing again.

Figured, then, that he’d be here in the last place she expected to ever stand again.

“Jack.”

~*~End Chapter~*~

Back to index


Chapter 3: Chapter Two

~*~Chapter Two: Reunions Most Bittersweet~*~

“I’ve heard a lot about you.”

Rose continued to just stare in shock even as Jack’s opening greeting washed over and through her. Her heart felt like it was breaking all over again. Jack. Jack was right there. She pressed her lips together, determined not to cry. This day was getting more and more overwhelming by the moment. Any second now she was going to have a nervous breakdown. Something much bigger than the mini-breakdown she had the very first time she stepped into the tardis, back when she was nothing more than a shopgirl without a shop worrying about whether or not the Doctor had just pulled the head off of her boyfriend or not.

Right now was definitely not the time to cry, though. This was a happy time, even if it was completely and utterly overwhelming. She had the Doctor back — sort of — and Jack too. Though, again — sort of. That was better than nothing, she kept telling herself, even as she wondered if she would wake up at any second to realize that this had been nothing more than a taunting dream of the life she would never again have. How many nights had just that happened? Brushing up against something beautiful, only to have it slip through her fingers the second she opened her eyes?

This wasn’t a dream, some little part of her mind insisted. This was real. Still, she pinched her arm just to be sure, the pain a confirmation of her waking state.

Despite her best efforts, some tears managed to somehow escape her eyes. She realized this only about the time they hit her chin and dripped off to land in a wet splat on the same arm she’d just pinched. She flinched, surprised.

“Hey, now,” Jack murmured, getting close enough that she could smell that aftershave he’d always worn. It made her tremble inside, broken apart even as pieces were trying desperately to right themselves again. He held out a handkerchief that Rose took gratefully. “Usually women cry in happiness after meeting me. This doesn’t look like happiness.”

That was just so…so… Jack. Rose giggled, wiping at her cheeks with her hand even as she continued to laugh softly. “Sorry.”

In that moment she suddenly realized, too, that she could feel the Tardis around her, welcoming her. It knew her, just as the other did, and that was something that Rose felt thankful for at that moment. It was a constant, a solid presence there in her mind when she was sure that she was going to break under the revelations of the day. The Doctor would notice eventually, the closeness she had to his precious Tardis, and then she’d be forced to fill in some of the noticeable gaps in her reports. Namely, the way that the Time War well and finally ended in her own reality. Her experience as Bad Wolf and how the Doctor had really regenerated. All of that she had kept out of her reports, feeling as if it were too private for anyone to read.

She still felt that way, but how could she keep it from the Doctor if they were going to be traveling together? It would be impossible.

That, however, was not a conversation for now. Later.

Much later, if she had any say in the matter.

Jack shrugged off her apology and gave her one of his over the top, far too perfect smiles. “It’s hard, I know. Well, I guess. Never had the opportunity to go through to another reality myself.”

So the Doctor had already caught him up to speed on that, which was good. She wouldn’t need to act like she didn’t already sort of know him. That was a relief, given that she was having a hard enough time resisting the urge to hug him, or the Doctor. She wondered if they could see that on her face, the barely restrained urge to reach out and touch.

“Well, it’s different, definitely,” Rose nodded. “I mean… seein’ people that you know… but they aren’t the people you know at all. Not really.”

“Actually, a lot of what I read about the me from there,” Jack winked. “Was true. Except, I did miss out on saving you from the barrage balloon and dancing in front of Big Ben on top of a cloaked space ship. Guess we have some things to make up for, then. Maybe I can show you a few tricks that other me never did?”

Rose blushed at the completely flirty look that went along with his comment. Definitely Jack.

”Jack — don’t scare her on her first day with us, all right?”

Rose wanted to argue that it wasn’t her first day, but maybe that was the wrong way to think about this. About everything. This was starting over. Even if the people around her were familiar, they were different, too.

”Sure thing, Doc,” Jack drawled, turning away from them. Rose smirked at the look the Doctor shared with her. He didn’t like that nickname any more than hers had. “I’ll wait until tomorrow, if that’s okay with you, Rose?”

“Oh, yeah, of course,” she agreed with a roll of her eyes. Jack tossed her another smile and then exited the control room. She followed him with her eyes until he was completely out of sight. Tomorrow. Well, she was sort of looking forward to that, all things told. Jack flirting with her was about as much of a universal constant as she seemed to be able to find these days. It filled her with hope that maybe other things wouldn’t have changed. Like the way that her and the Doctor had meshed, right from the start.

”If he gets to be too much, just let me know,” the Doctor offered quietly, surprising Rose. Now that was different. Her Doctor would have known better.

She turned to him with a raised eyebrow, “You forget, Doctor, I’m used to Jack. He’s no worse than the one from my reality. I can handle him.”

The look he gave her said that he was skeptical about her ability to deal with Captain Jack Harkness, but Rose didn’t feel like arguing with him at that moment. For all she knew, this Captain Jack was even worse than her own, anyway.

She ignored the Doctor for the moment, stepping more fully into the Tardis. Each foot she placed brought her closer and closer to the controls, the central column quiet. They’d need to take off soon if they weren’t going to get seen by her associates at Torchwood. She put her hand on the smooth metal of the console, between a lever she thought had something to do with the ‘space’ portion of traveling in time and space, and another that she was pretty sure controlled the speed at which they traveled. Or maybe that was the switch for the broken chameleon circuit. Hard to say. The Doctor had never really explained much to her when it came to piloting the Tardis. The little she did know was mostly instinct, left over from things best left forgotten.

Memories of golden light and power that had coursed through her veins. Bad Wolf. That was her. Could she have saved everyone by doing it all over again?

No. Yes. Possibly. It didn’t matter. Rose shook her head. She wasn’t going to do that again out of fear that the Doctor would try, one more time, to save her. She didn’t deserve that kind of sacrifice. Never had and never would.

He was just too blind to see that sometimes.

She watched the Doctor as he began to set a destination. Where and when she didn’t know or care. This was it. She was in it for the long haul now. This Doctor wasn’t going to get rid of her by tossing her into an alternate reality — she’d make sure of that. No telling if there’d be another Doctor in a new reality, waiting to whisk her away.

No, this was it.

The familiar groan of the tardis’ seemed to come from everywhere at once as they started moving. She clutched at the railing for a moment, the time spent away having made her unused to the lurching that seemed to accompany every takeoff and landing.

“I’ll need to let my mum know. I mean, I can’t just go disappearing. She’ll get worried.”

She could care less about her job at Torchwood. Those people had been the biggest group of morons she’d ever encountered, for the most part. The Doctor was right, chances are she’d say something that put the Earth far too ahead for its own good if she stayed on with them. There were things she’d seen while traveling.

And then there were the bits and pieces of things that she still got flashes of, every now and then, when working through files on new alien species Torchwood thought they’d come across. Glimpses of information that should have left her long ago.

She’d give it all away and never mean to.

She’d damn the Earth, to hell with the consequences because she wouldn’t even know that they were there until it was too late.

Rose didn’t want that.

The Doctor looked up from the controls, lips pressed together in that way she remembered so well as he considered her request to speak with her mum. In the end, she knew he’d do it, but that look of ‘oh, lord, domesticity’ on his face, however brief, was enough to make her grin again. He held out a hand. “Phone.”

It wasn’t the request itself so much that struck her as odd, but the fact that the Doctor had made it. After all, he wasn’t the first Doctor to ask for her phone. Not even the first Doctor in a battered leather coat. This Doctor, who didn’t know a thing about the fact that her previous Doctor had rigged her phone for her because she hadn’t mentioned it in her reports at all, was about to do the exact same thing that his self in her own reality had done. She handed it over without a word, smiling at him. He frowned, “What?”

“Nothin’. Nothin’ at all.”

He was so much like her own Doctor. So very much.

Maybe too much, because already she could feel herself tumbling into an emotional place that she shouldn’t — couldn’t — go. Not with him.

The smile must have made him nervous, because he handed the phone back as quickly as possible, tucking away his sonic screwdriver back into his pocket.

“Thanks.”

Now for one of he hardest calls she was ever going to make. She used the speed dial for her mum’s house, hoping that it was her that answered and not Pete or the housekeeper. She didn’t know how long she could be brave if she had to hold together while waiting to get to the one person in all of this world that needed to know what she was doing.

“Mum?” Rose greeted, voice trembling even as she decided for the just jumping right in method. “Guess where I am right now?”

END CHAPTER

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Chapter 4: Chapter Three

x x x Chapter Three x x x

It was the little things that were different about the Doctor and things concerning him in this reality; Rose began to notice almost immediately.

Starting with when she went to look for a place to call her own on this ‘new’ Tardis.

The Doctor had offered her any room that she wanted, so instinctively she had sought out the one that she’d used during the entire time that she traveled with her Doctor. She had walked right up to the door and opened it.

Only to be met with some sort of storage closet. Filled to the brim and resembling nothing even remotely familiar to the bedroom that she had spent untold hours’ in, resting and recuperating from the adventures her Doctor had taken her on, or just grabbing a quick bit of sleep as they traveled. Boxes and bins, pieces of electronic equipment that made no sense to her. Things the Doctor needed, for sure.

She had walked down the hall further, taking the first bedroom she came to with a sense of odd detachment, born of something that she was sure was the beginnings of shock. The room was empty and she was glad for that. Jack’s room was somewhere around here, too. Well, if he was in the same room he would have been in back in her reality, that was.

The Tardis was the same, and that was comforting even when nothing else could be. It was pleased to have her aboard. Just not pleased enough to rearrange everything and put her bedroom where she thought it should be, Rose thought to herself.

By the time she got back to the console room, Jack had returned and was working on something under the panel across from her. She could see his legs sticking out. Leather pants, well at least that hadn’t changed.

And he still had a nice —

“You find a room?”

Rose nodded in response to the Doctor’s question, turning her attention to him. Same eyes, different Doctor. Same face, different Doctor. Same everything — but not her Doctor. It was so very hard to keep that straight.

“Your mum take it well?”

Surprised, Rose could only blink for the longest of moments. She’d walked out of the room still talking to her mum earlier, setting out to acquaint herself with this new Tardis. So, of course the Doctor had no idea how that conversation had ended.

It was the fact that he was caring enough to ask that threw her for a loop.

Definitely not her Doctor.

“She’s upset. But says if it makes me happy, then…” Rose trailed off, shrugging. She laughed. “S’not like you gave me much choice. Might as well have trussed me up and thrown me in.”

“Oi!” the Doctor said, brows going up. “I didn’t kidnap you.”

“And if I hadn’t wanted to come along?”

“He’d have figured something out, I’m sure,” Jack answered, voice half-muffled from under the console.

”Of course,” the Doctor nodded. “Just not sure what it would have been, mind you. Can’t have you blundering about, potentially creating trouble for me to have t’come and fix. Much easier this way. Simpler.”

When he put it that way, Rose had to agree. She couldn’t deny, either, that this was where she wanted to be. Back in the Tardis with a Doctor, even if it wasn’t her Doctor. And with a version of Jack, too! Speaking of which…

She shoved her hands down in her pockets and leaned back against one panel of the console, watching Jack out of the corner of her eye as she continued to follow the movement of the Doctor’s hands on the controls.

”So how’d you two meet. Here, in this reality?” she asked. “I know how it happened in mine. But I s’pose it was different here, right? Without me there.”

“Definitely no dancing involved,” Jack called out.

Rose stifled a grin. So many ways that could be taken but only one that she was sure Jack had actually meant.

“Not with me or anyone else?” she teased. “Didn’t take the Doctor for a twirl?”

The Doctor looked up, rolling his eyes as Jack laughingly answered, “Don’t think I didn’t try. He just wasn’t having any of it. Used up some of my best lines trying to get him to do a little… dancing.”

Okay, then. So maybe Jack did know that little meaning.

”What happened was this,” the Doctor joined her at the console, leaning against it so close to her that she could feel his arm brush against hers when he crossed his arms over his chest. He hooked one foot over the other, at the ankle, and regarded her with a half-smile on his lips. That, too, was different. The Doctor she’d known — this incarnation at least — hadn’t smiled that often. Not half-smiles or otherwise.

”Everything in your report — right up to the part where you landed with the other me — that happened like you said. ‘Cept, was just me. Not you an’ me.”

Rose nodded in encouragement.

”I get there, figure out that I’ve landed in the middle of the war, start lookin’ around for that thing I’d been chasing through the Void.”

”That’s when he and I stumbled into one another,” Jack said from beside her. Rose turned, surprised. She hadn’t even realized that he’d come up from under the console. “I knew I’d screwed up, but I was still trying to work my con.”

”He’s skippin’ ahead,” the Doctor argued with a shake of his head. “I met Nancy and her kids before that.”

Rose was grinning outright at the playfully disdainful looks that they were giving one another. If she didn’t know better, she’d think that the two of them had danced before. Come to think of it, all Jack had said was that the Doctor hadn’t danced with him that time in London, not that they’d never danced together since. Something like jealousy bubbled its way upwards. She grabbed at it within mental fingers, squashing it before it could get any farther.

Not her Doctor.

Not her Jack.

Not her business.

“Anyway — we finally meet up. I think he’s a Time Agent, sent to bring me in or make a deal.”

“’Cept I’m not falling for his con. Not when I’ve already noticed that there’s this bit of oddness goin’ around. People with gas masks for faces. A little boy cryin’ for his mummy,” the Doctor rolled his eyes. “Made pretty boy here take me to his ‘warship’.”

“And from there it went pretty much like your file said,” Jack shrugged. He leaned in a bit, bumping her lightly with his shoulder. “I’m sort of jealous of your version, come to think of it. All I got was him. The other me got to dance with you.”

“Nothing beats dancing on an invisible ship during German air raids,” Rose grinned, resting the tip of her tongue in the corner of her mouth. Jack’s eyes followed it, lingered just a moment longer than they had to, and Rose felt a bit of heat build up in her cheeks.

This one was going to be just as much trouble as her own Jack had been.

Maybe even more so.

“Show me your moves sometime?”

Before she could stop the words from coming out of her mouth, Rose found herself saying, “If you’re lucky.”

Jack grinned. “I’m the luckiest man I know, darling.”

The Doctor coughed. Rose smothered her grin and turned to him with an apology on her lips, but the look on his face was that of amused interest. Another difference, then. The other Doctor had wanted all of her attention to himself. This one, not so much so, apparently. Then again, he barely knew her. She couldn’t very well expect him to get jealous over a girl he’d only just met.

“Do you two mind keepin’ the flirting out of the control room?” the Doctor said. Then he paused and flashed a grin that was mischievous if Rose ever saw one. “And that dancin’, too, if you don’t mind.”

Rose laughed, the sound bubbling up like a cough that escaped her lips before she could stop it. Her cheeks were a little hot and she had no doubt in her mind that they were pink. She opened her lips to deny what she’d been very well caught in the act of doing, open to shut them again. It didn’t matter. This was a new Doctor and a new Jack and she could flirt with this Jack if she wanted. The Doctor had no say in her behavior.

Well, no say in it outside of insisting that she travel with him and Jack, that was. She hadn’t exactly put up a fight, either, she supposed.

“So — he transported the bomb into his ship, then you showed up just in the nick of time to save him, then?” Rose carefully turned the subject away from flirting, dancing, and everything else that could even be remotely construed as dangerous topics for the time being.

“That I did. ‘Course, he knew that I would. Don’t know why the me in your reality played head games with him like that. Makin’ him think he was going to be blown to bits for doing the right thing,” the Doctor said with a shake of his head.

Rose knew. Or, she thought she knew. It was the whole jealousy issue all over again. The Doctor — her Doctor, that was — hadn’t really liked Jack because of how he’d been with her. Without her to be in the middle of everything, obviously this Doctor got along just fine with Jack.

Why’d she feel a little off about that, then? Was it jealousy on her part? That she wasn’t in the middle of their relationship?

Oh, this was going to be confusing. Not just the way she felt about the two of them — together and as a whole — but the adventures that the two of them had gone on versus the ones that she had been on and so on and so on.

Which led her to another question.

“Isn’t me bein’ here tempting paradox? I could say somethin’, give away too much. Not to mention what was in those files…” she trailed off, realizing that she could very well have put this whole reality in jeopardy putting that information out there for the Doctor to read. She could’ve changed things already.

“Don’t worry,” the Doctor said. “Things are different enough for us that you aren’t changing a thing.”

“So…no Game Station, then?” she asked, half-playing, half-wanting to know for sure that she wasn’t in for heartache sometime in the near future.

“Safe to say that, with all the Daleks gone from this reality, even if there was a Game Station, it wouldn’t turn out that way,” Jack said with bright grin.

She savored that thought, rolling it around in her head like a sweet in her mouth. No Game Station. No Daleks.

Sounded like heaven, to her; even with all the confusing thoughts running through her head. Rose looked between the two of them, a question in her eyes.

“So — where’re we goin’ first then?”

END CHAPTER

Back to index


Chapter 5: Chapter Four

FFYAOA: Chapter Four

Rose moved her wrists gingerly, glancing around the room that her and Jack had been tossed into without so much as a reason given why. She sighed and then laughed. Some things just didn’t change, alternate reality or no. Traveling with the Doctor was hazardous and guaranteed to be exciting. They hadn’t been off the Tardis for more than ten minutes when they’d been hauled away for only God knew what.

“What’s so funny?”

She shook her head, still laughing. “Nothing,” she waved off the question. “Nothin’ at all.” Her laughter trailed off into snickers and then to nothing and finally she could speak again, “S’just, first trip w’ the two of you and look where ‘m at already.”

“It’s not the nicest as prison cells go,” Jack said with what looked to Rose like a reassuring smile. It only made her laugh a bit harder, though she was polite enough to try to stifle it. He was only trying to be helpful. “But don’t worry, we’ll get out.”

“Oh, yeah, no worries at all,” she agreed when at last she had her laughter under control. “’m just marveling at how quick being with the Doctor put me back in dangerous situations. Was all — step off the Tardis, get hauled off to jail this time. Didn’t even have a chance to look ‘round the bazaar for more than five minutes.”

Jack caught on and a slow grin spread over his lips. He nodded. “He does tend to have trouble following him wherever he goes, doesn’t he? This one time, on Thrishnic, he and I were just looking for spare parts for the Tardis, when out of nowhere a local crime lord up and decides that he looks like the man that owes him fifty thousand docets — that’s the money on that planet — and we both get jumped and pushed into the back of a hovercraft before we know what’s happening. Next thing I know —“

Rose leaned against the wall, listening to Jack’s story. It could have been something that happened to them. Her Doctor. Her Jack. And… her. That’s how familiar it all seemed. This Jack liked to tell tales, too; just like hers. From that recounting of adventure, he launched into another and then another all over again. She had a feeling it was half wanting to keep her mind off the fact that they were imprisoned and half because he just liked to entertain. When her legs grew tired, Rose slid down the wall and sat on the hard floor, wincing a bit at the coldness that almost immediately seeped through her jeans to the bruise that she’d gotten while struggling to get free from their captors.

She must have winced, because Jack was by her side in a second. “You okay?”

“Yeah, I’m fine,” she said.

“Your tone says otherwise.”

Rose sighed and shrugged. “’s nothing, okay? Just a bruise and the floor’s cold.” She stopped and thought for a long moment about when they first were shoved into the room. “Come to think of it, it seems like its getting colder in here. Was warm at first.”

Instead of denying her spur of the moment assessment of the situation, Jack nodded grimly. “I had already noticed. Not sure what they’re doing. The ruling class of this planet during this time period are sort of… well, sick in the head is probably the best way to describe them. They take amusement from the suffering of others.” He sat down next to her, so close that she could feel some of his body warmth. It was all she could do not to lean into him, like she would have with the Jack she had known.

“You don’t seem cold,” she pointed out more to make conversation than anything else.

“The humans of my time are slightly more advanced than they are in yours,” he shrugged. “We don’t get sick, hot, or cold as easy.”

Rose snorted. “Must be nice. Bein’ all superior.”

She shivered, feeling the room’s temperature drop even further. Her breath was coming out now in little foggy puffs. Wriggling, Rose pulled her hands and fingers up into her sleeves. Her toes were starting to feel the chill through both her trainers and socks. Hands still covered by her sleeves, Rose rubbed at her arms.

”Come here.”

And then she was being pulled right up alongside Jack, his arm around her shoulders pressing her to him. She thought about protesting for one long second, but didn’t. He was warm and sharing that warmth. In moments, her shivering had died off until she was only trembling.

The trembling had nothing to do with being cold, however. Rose licked her lips, careful to keep her eyes off of Jack’s face, head down so that he couldn’t see the confusion sparking in her eyes. She’d always liked Jack in her own universe — had been heartbroken when he hadn’t been with them anymore.

In a way, she had always thought that maybe the two of them could work something out, even if her and the Doctor never got around to it. Or maybe, she had fantasized in more than one dream, all three of them could come together as one, happy unit.

Happy unit, ha! That was why it had been a dream and nothing more. The Doctor would never have gotten domestic. Not her first Doctor, anyway, and by the time her new Doctor rolled around, Jack was out of the picture.

Being here now, pressed up against Jack, breathing in that faintly spicy smell of his cologne, Rose knew again what it was to want. So she didn’t try to pull away, didn’t try to put some distance between them, and it wasn’t just because she needed the warmth. It was because, after missing her Jack for so long, this Jack was good enough. The thought worked its way down, deeper into her mind, until — just for a few warmth-filled, happy moments — she was okay with it.

And then reality hit.

This was not her Jack. Not her world.

And certainly not her Doctor that she was praying would save them, though any savior would do just fine at that moment.

Rose sighed.

“So, this is it, then. They just leave us in here to freeze to death? That’s the plan?”

Finally, after a long moment, Jack spoke, “I don’t think they’ll let it go that far. Not much fun to watch your captives freeze to death.” He paused. “I think we’re probably already giving them what they want, actually.”

“What’s that?” Rose asked, turning to look at him. From this angle, all she could see was his profile. The hard set of his face, the tic in his jaw that she knew meant he was either really angry, really irritated, or both. She was sure, right at that moment, that it was both.

“Interaction with one another. Watching how we react to the situation as it changes,” he offered in a low voice that she was sure was meant for her ears only. Rose nodded slightly.

”So they won’t kill us?”

“No clue, darling,” he admitted after a second’s pause. “I just don’t think that’s the goal right now.”

“Oh.”

“Yeah, oh,” Jack said. He pulled her closer to his side and Rose burrowed her face into his shoulder, refusing to look out the room. Maybe if she just ignored it all, this would end and she wouldn’t be here stuck in this room, getting colder and colder by the minute, torturing herself with memories of the past and longing for what should never be.

“He’ll be here soon,” she whispered into Jack’s shoulder. “I know he will.”

Jack didn’t respond.

x x x

“Rose, honey, wake up.”

“Jack?” Rose muttered, tired. “You get that power coupling hooked up for the Doctor?”

He laughed and she felt strong hands on her shoulders, gently jostling her. Rose swallowed and opened her eyes. Why was Jack waking her up when she needed to sleep?

Oh, right, Rose realized the second the sleep had cleared from her eyes. This wasn’t her Jack. She blushed. “Just ignore me, was dreaming.”

“About me fetching a power coupling for the Doctor?” Jack smirked. “Yeah, I got that.”

”Was the other Jack…other Doctor,” she defended herself testily. “Wasn’t dreamin’ about you.”

“Yet,” he teased. “Give me half a shot and I’ll give you things to keep your mind in sweet dreams for at least half your life.”

“Only half?” Rose rolled her eyes and pulled away from him. It was then that she noticed that she wasn’t cold anymore.

“They turned the cold air off maybe half an hour ago. It’s been getting warmer since then.”

She didn’t dare ask how much warmer it had gotten and how quickly, afraid that she would be told that it now looked like their captors were swinging from cold to hot. Instead, Rose forced herself to really look around the room for the first time. It didn’t look like a jail cell. There was a bed and the floor was carpeted, if not very thinly. On the other hand, there were no windows and only a single steel door that they had heard being locked when they were first thrown in.

She was really starting to wish the Doctor hadn’t gone off to a different part of the market. Had they been missing long enough for him to even get worried? She couldn’t tell. Time was all so fleeting when she had nothing to measure it against. It was sort of like being in the Tardis, except without that feeling of home and security.

Sitting up, Rose stretched out her arms and legs. “How long was I asleep?”

“Maybe an hour? Hard to say.”

Just as she’d thought. So it had been about two or three hours since they’d been tossed in this room.

“Would it help if I promised to try to get him to take us somewhere safe and restful after this?”

Rose laughed before she could stop herself. A short bark of sound that rang through the room. She bit the inside of her cheek at the mock-hurt on Jack’s face.

“What?” he asked.

“D’you know how many times we said that? The three of us? Next time it would be safe. Next time it would be fun. Next time it would be restful. Never was,” she laughed. “Well, ‘cept for the fun part. Always did enjoy runnin’ for my life with the two of you. I mean, with my Doctor and my Jack.”

“I knew what you meant,” he assured her. “And I’m glad to see that we’ve lived up to your standards so far. Anything I could do to raise the bar a bit?”

She grinned. “Dunno, could you put us in real mortal danger? Not just this up and down temperature thing? It’s creepy, but hardly life threatening.”

The door to the room swung open as Rose finished speaking and she sucked in a breath. Two guards, like the ones that had captured them, stepped into the room while two more remained in the hall. Four guns were trained on them and Rose felt menace descend over the room.

“Hey, Rose,” Jack asked in a quiet voice, taking a step closer to her under the watchfully hateful eyes of their captors. “Remember that old saying about being careful what you wish for?”

END CHAPTER


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Chapter 6: Chapter Five

Edited to fix the end. Many thanks to WMR for unwittingly pointing out to me exactly what was going wrong at the end of this.

FFYAOA: Chapter Five

This did not look good. Rose inched closer to Jack, his mere proximity making her feel better – even if only a touch. She swallowed, nervousness making her feel sick to her stomach.

“Hey guys – can we talk about this?” Jack asked, smiling despite the situation. “I’m sure this is all just a mix-up.”

“There is no mix-up.”

Rose looked from the four goons with guns to the man that had stepped into the doorway. He didn’t look any friendlier than the firing squad, she noted with a rising sense of dread. Slightly pudgy, balding – he looked like the stereotypical tyrant to her.

“We didn’t do anything,” Jack offered with a shrug. “I figure you have to have mistaken us for someone else.”

The man’s lips pressed into a thin smile. “It matters not if you did anything that you consider to be worthy of note. You arrived here with a person of interest.”

The Doctor, of course, Rose’s brain supplied to her as she lingered over their captor’s words.

“And it is him that we are interested in speaking with,” their captor continued, though the way he said ‘speaking’ led Rose to believe that it was the last thing they actually wanted from the Doctor. “Tell us where he is.”

“No clue,” Jack shrugged.

The pudgy man’s already thin smile slipped to a full frown. His eyes darted to Rose and she felt a chill creep across her skin. “Is that your answer as well?”

“I don’t know where he is,” she agreed with a nod, thankful that her voice didn’t tremble too much.

“Why do I not believe you?”

“It’s the truth!” Jack protested, taking a step forward. Instantly the guns swung level with his head and heart. Rose gasped and Jack halted immediately in his tracks. Only when it was clear that they were not going to fire did she breathe again, but her heart was still racing frantically. Jack sighed. “We don’t know where he is.”

“And, again – I do not believe you,” the man sneered. “No matter. I know just how to lure him into the open.”

As if they had been waiting for a signal, four more guards came stomping into the room. Rose bit her lip to keep from crying out in pain when her hands were jerked behind her back, bound, and she was shoved forward, the tip of a gun digging into her back when she tried to hold back and not be taken from Jack.

What was going to happen to them?

Through the building they were led, past other rooms that looked just as much like a jail cell as the one her and Jack had been kept in. No matter which was she turned her head, there were no obvious avenues of escape and no sign that the Doctor was anywhere nearby planning to break them out of this place. Before she knew it, doors opened in front of her and bright light momentarily blinded her. She felt the warmth of the sun and drew fresh air into her lungs. Outside! They were outside!

She looked around, squinting as her eyes struggled to adjust to the sunlight. On and on they walked, through the city, the sounds getting louder as they marched, nearing somewhere that obviously had a lot of people.

The first thing she recognized where the bazaar tents that her and Jack had had their sights set on when they’d first started out of the Tardis. The citizens of the city stepped out of their way as they continued on, the guards that surrounded her and Jack giving no indication that they would have stopped moving even if a citizen had dared to stay in the way anyway.

And then they stopped walking entirely. Rose stumbled to a stop, barely managing to catch her balance without falling on her face.

“That doesn’t look good.”

Rose’s head snapped up, eyes darting around to get a look at what Jack was talking about. She froze. “Are those…”

“Stocks,” Jack confirmed grimly. “They’re going to put us in the stocks, right here in the center of the bazaar. Hard for the Doctor not to notice that, I suppose.”

She wasn’t na├»ve. She knew what would happen when the Doctor came to get them free. He’d be captured by the guards that would undoubtedly be lying in wait somewhere close by.

“He won’t fall for it, don’t worry,” Jack muttered to her as he was forced up, first, to the wooden stocks. They were on a platform in what Rose could only assume was the center of the bazaar. Everyone would be staring at them, she realized.

And Jack was right, the Doctor wouldn’t fall for this trick. He’d see it for what it was and then try his best to work around it. What worried her was what happened if that didn’t work. Would he rush in and try to save them anyway? Her first Doctor had been that rash. He would rush headlong into danger to save her. But was this Doctor like that?

Did she really want him to be? To risk his life for theirs?

She didn’t know.

“Hey! HEY! All you have to do is ask, guys!”

Rose turned her attention back to Jack. The guards had taken a knife to his shirt, slitting it up the front. With a smirk that said he wasn’t going to let this get to him any more than anything else had, Jack pulled the remains of the shirt from his pants and then off of his body. The undershirt went, too, after a none-too-friendly prod from the nearest guard. He was forced to kneel with a hard shove to his back. She saw Jack wince and knew that it had to have hurt him, but he didn’t utter a sound and she was proud of him for that. Not giving the enemy any satisfaction was always a good idea – even if only for your own pride, she knew. Knowing she was next, Rose watched as Jack was forced to put his head and wrists into the stocks. The sound of the device closing rocketed through the now-quite bazaar.

Before she could even recapture her wits, Rose felt her own contingent of guards pushing her forward, up the steps. On top of the platform, she could see out over the center of the bazaar. Everyone had come out to watch, it seemed. There wasn’t a spare inch of space to be had. This planet was just like any other, she supposed – people enjoying watching other suffer.

“Strip.”

The command was expected, but Rose still had to fight not to flinch. Their captor — who she decided to refer to as Sleazy — licked his lips in anticipation, his prominent brow already beading with sweat in the sunlight. His gaze darkened when she didn’t immediately jump to it.

”Take your clothes off — or the guards will do it for you.”

Rose nodded, fingers moving stiffly to the bottom of her shirt. She was glad that she’d worn clean and rather modest knickers that day. Her gaze was locked with Sleazy’s as she tugged the shirt up. This wasn’t that hard. Sure, this was more people than had ever seen this much of her skin, but that was all right. She’d get through this. Then the Doctor was going to owe them somewhere peaceful and restful next, she told herself. Somewhere with a beach and gentle waves. Only her first trip out and already she was plannin’ on needing a vacation from the danger.

She pulled the shirt over her head and told herself that this wasn’t much different from being out at the water in a bikini. Right?
“Trousers, too.”

“What?!?” Jack’s cry echoed hers, both angry.

“You didn’t make him take his off!” Rose protested.

“Thanks, Rose, sweetie,” Jack said, but it was with something that almost sounded like amusement. “Just remind the nice man that I still have my pants.”

Rose threw a smile over her shoulder, unsure if Jack could even see it from the angle he was at.

“Guards,” Sleazy prompted. “Assist her.”

Rose twisted away, fingers already fumbling with the catch of her trousers. There was no way she was going to have someone else strip her of her clothing. She’d do this herself.

Just like a bathing suit, she told herself silently.

She pushed her jeans down, kicking off her shoes so that she could step out of them. Swallowing down her disgust at being forced into this situation, Rose lifted her head to stare at the evil little man before turning to the stocks. Without prompting, she got down on her knees and placed herself in the wooden restraint. Everyone behind her was getting a nice little show of her arse, she knew.

“We’ll be alright, Rose,” Jack tried to assure her.

Rose wished she could believe him.

She forced herself to keep looking forward, meeting the eyes of the crowd that gathered to watch this spectacle.

This would not break her — she’d endured too much already in her life to let something like this be her undoing.

Sit out like this too long and she’d get a sunburn all up and down her back — definitely not a fate that she wanted to endure.

The Doctor had sure better show up sooner rather than later.

END Chapter

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Chapter 7: Chapter Six

CHAPTER SIX

“So — tell me about myself.”

Rose cut her eyes to the side, unable to see more than the very side of Jack’s head from this position. Her neck was aching, her knees were sore from kneeling for so long, and she was very sure that the sunburn she had worried about was a reality after spending the entire afternoon with her bare skin exposed like it was. There’d be something in the Tardis to take the sting off, she was sure. Provided they ever made it back to the Tardis, that was.

“The me from your universe,” he prodded. “What was he like?”

“Wonderful,” Rose said without thinking, happy to have something — anything — to take her mind off of the situation they were in. All around them the bazaar moved on at its normal pace, the citizens of this backwards little rock of a planet going on with their lives, making no move to help the two poor visitors that had been put up on display for them all. Every now and then someone would stop — usually a male — and leer at her, but otherwise the experience had been only mildly uncomfortable once she’d resigned herself to the fact that she was almost completely naked in the middle of a crowd of strangers.

“Wonderful, huh?” Jack asked, voice light but curious and more than a little teasing.

“I cared about ‘im a lot,” she admitted softly, giving voice to something she hadn’t been able to in the reports or in the casual conversations she’d had with either of them in the short time since she’d joined them in the Tardis. “He was such a flirt but with a real heart of gold, you know?”

Jack laughed. “Yeah, I think I know.”

Rose blushed and then laughed at the irony of what she’d said, his reaction. “I s’pose you would, at that.”

Jack was quiet, and Rose sighed, shifting a bit to try to get comfortable. Well, more comfortable anyway, seeing as how they didn’t look to be getting rescued any time soon. She wondered if the Doctor had even realized yet that they were in trouble and not just spending more time in the bazaar than he had thought they would. That was nothing more than her being silly, though, because of course the Doctor knew they were in trouble. He always managed to know things like that, even when logic dictated that there was no way he should know. Really, then, she didn’t need to even wonder if he knew, only what he was doing about the knowing.

“What happened to the other me?”

Rose stiffened, Jack’s question rolling over her like a thousand stinging slaps. She sucked in a breath through her teeth and tried to turn her head just enough to look at him more fully. “Jack —“

“I know it’s something you don’t want to talk about,” he cut her off, voice quiet and sympathetic. “Even in your report it was all Jack died, nothing more, nothing less.” He frowned. “Come to think of it, that entire report felt like it was lacking in detail, but that’s not my point.” Another pause. “The point is this — you say you cared about your Jack, but he was sort of nothing more than a footnote in your report.”

It wasn’t fair that this question was being put to her here and now, with all of these people around that could overhear. Not that she thought any of them cared to listen. They had their own boring lives to attend to and didn’t need to hear any part of her own dramatic saga. This was the sort of question she had always expected that one — if not both — of them would ask her, and she’d been almost prepared for it… well, as much as she could be.

But she thought that question would come while they were traveling or late at night, sipping tea in the Tardis’ little kitchen. Maybe drinking with Jack. Not that she had given this much thought in the few hours she had been back in their company …

… except she had. She’d gone over it a million and one times in her head — how exactly to admit to what happened on the Game Station.

And here Jack was, asking her when they were bound, him bare from the waist up and her in just her knickers.

Sometimes life wasn’t fair.

“’s’nt a bit odd, wantin’ to know how the other you died?” she asked him, stalling. On some level she was hoping that she could — maybe — distract him enough that he might let this go for right now. If he really wanted to know and got tenacious about it, then she would tell him. She wouldn’t lie. Lying wasn’t the best way to start a new friendship, and being Jack’s friend mattered to her more than just about anything right now.

“Why do I get the feeling this story has less of a happy ending than I already knew it did?” Jack asked her. A second later she realized that they were close enough that he could, with some effort, reach out one leg to nudge her calve with the tip of his foot. She half-smiled and sighed again.

So she told him. She told him all of it in a voice so broken that she wondered how she’d ever thought that she’d moved on past those memories. Wondered if she would ever really feel healed from what had happened in that brief, brief time. Rose felt her heart wrench in her chest when she laughed off Jack’s kiss goodbye to both herself and the Doctor, heard Jack give a little chuckle as if to say that a’ boy.

“He tried to send me away,” she told him softly. “Tricked me into the Tardis and sent me back to my mum. Thought he was doing what was right, he really did. Never stopped once to think that I wouldn’t want to —“

She stopped, voice faltering, remembering that day on the beach when she’d finally been able to tell the Doctor how she’d felt. That was the last time she’d seen him. That him, anyhow. There was this him in this reality, but it wasn’t the same. Her heart leapt at the sight of him because he was familiar in looks, and even sometimes actions, but he wasn’t her Doctor. That man was — quite literally — in another universe. Locked away from her.

And, oh God, it still hurt. Still ached and bled deep inside with the pain of a thousand cuts that she was sure would never heal over. Not completely.

“You loved him,” Jack said simply.

Rose nodded. Maybe it was because he was Jack - and she’d never had trouble talking to her Jack about her problems and feelings — but she realized that it wasn’t so hard to admit. The world could have stopped around her right at that moment and she wouldn’t even have noticed it, though; so caught up in the painful memories.

“I loved him,” she repeated. “And I wasn’t about t’let him go off and die by himself, stupid git.”

Jack laughed, and after a moment Rose joined him. The hardest part of the story was still to come, she knew, and it took her a long moment to work up to speaking again. Long enough that Jack prodded her again with his foot, jarring her from thoughts of memories from a lifetime ago with one simple question.

“What did you do?”

Rose bit her lower lip, trying to find the words. “I was des’prate, just so you know. I needed to get back to him, and all I had was the Tardis … but I couldn’t fly her. So I got into her… into her heart. Took the Vortex into myself.”

Jack gasped, a sharp hiss of air through teeth. Rose had the feeling that he’d be giving her a look of complete and utter shock and maybe despair if he could get his head to turn that far in the stocks. She couldn’t say she blamed him. The Doctor had sat her down a few months after his regeneration and explained just what she did, why it was so dangerous, and why she must never, ever get such a foolish idea in her head again. He might not be around to save her next time, he had warned, and even as he said the words, she’d laughed them off to herself because the Doctor would always be around.

“I don’t remember much about what happened after that,” she told him, honestly. “The Doctor filled in the blanks for me. I came back t’the Game Station, wiped the Daleks from all of time — or, I thought — with just a thought and a wave of my hand. And then the Doctor… he…” she choked around the words. “He had to take the Vortex back from me, because it was burning me inside. It was killin’ me.”

“Rose… hey…”

She sniffled, blinking back tears of guilt and sadness. “’S why he regenerated. Because of me. I killed him.”

“Oh, honey,” Jack sighed. “But, it sounds like you saved everyone.”

“Everyone except the two people that mattered t’me the most,” she said, the matter-of-fact statement coming out broken and whispery.

Jack was silent for a moment, then finally spoke, “Now, I can only speak for myself, of course. This me, right here and now — but it seems like you did the right thing. Don’t get me wrong — it was very risky, and if you ever think of doing it again, I might have to punish you.”

Rose choked on a laugh. She didn’t need to see Jack’s face to know there was a playful leer on it. God, she’d missed him. So very, very much. This — being in danger with him by her side — it felt so much like home that she wondered when she’d fallen off the deep end. How could she have ever lived out a normal life after what she’d seen and done?

How could she have survived for her entire life without these two, without the heart pounding fear and excitement?

Rose didn’t really want to figure any of that out.

“On second thought, maybe we’ll work the punishment in there somewhere anyway.”

That was it. She was done. Rose laughed. Heads turned in the bazaar, and she wondered what those crazy aliens were thinking. Probably that she was completely off her rocker, laughing like she was while she was being held prisoner and subject to public humiliation.

It only made her laugh more.

END

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Chapter 8: Chapter Seven

Their rescue, such as it was, came just as the sun was beginning to creep down over the horizon. The marketplace slowly emptied out, everyone returning to their homes for the night until it was just her, Jack, and the guards that Rose knew were around even if she couldn’t see them. There were little glints of light that gave her a good idea of where they were, but nothing concrete. Not nearly enough for her to guess how many there were, though she suspected quite a few given how eager the leader of this place was to get his hands on the Doctor.

The heat of her sunburn was rapidly becoming a dull pain that Rose knew would only escalate as time continued to pass. Suddenly the Tardis’ medical bay seemed like an unattainable heaven. Her neck and shoulders were sore from the position they’d been in for the day.

“Jack?” she whispered, not daring to try to turn her head out of fear that her muscles would protest in a way more than just the dull ache they were currently giving off.

“Hmm?”

“He’s comin’ for us, right?”

“Rose, honey, of course he is,” Jack assured her. His voice was soft in the darkness, smooth as a caress. Any other time that low tone would have made her shiver and wonder why she’d never gotten with Jack in her own universe. Right now it only made her want to be held in those strong arms, to feel safe and comforted.

“Right, of course,” she murmured. Sagging into the stocks, Rose felt absolute exhaustion slowly winding its way through her body. Her mind was crying out for sleep, something that Rose only wished she could give in to.

“You having doubts about him?”

Jack’s question caught her off guard, and for the longest moment Rose couldn’t answer. “It’s not that m’having doubts. Not really.”

“Then what is it?” Jack asked, sounding for all the world like he was genuinely curious.

Rose shrugged as much as her position would allow her to. “’E’s not the same Doctor I knew,” she said finally. “My other Doctor — he would’ve done anything t’save me. Anything.”

And she him, the words didn’t need to be said — they hung out there just the same.

“But,” she continued. “This Doctor isn’t him. I know that. Just makes me wonder if he’ll risk himself like that.” Another shrug. “We’ve been out here a long time s’all.”

Jack sighed. “He might not be the exact same person that the Doctor in your universe was, Rose — but he’s still the Doctor. Have faith in him. Trust me?”

Rose laughed, unable to stop herself. “Trust you? The intergalactic playboy and conman?”

That got a laugh from Jack, and it warmed her heart. He sobered up within a few seconds, and she could almost imagine that he was standing in front of her, looking into her eyes with that intense expression of his, when he said, “You can trust me, just like you trusted your Jack. More, if you want.” And there was the innuendo that she was used to, covering up the relatively serious moment that he’d been having with her.

“You keep offerin’ that, Captain, and I just might take you up on it,” she teased lightly.

“Anytime you think you’re ready, darlin’.”

Rose felt a warm flush that had nothing to do with the sunburn currently tanning the backside of her body. She coughed lightly, unsure of what to say. This wasn’t her Jack — but at the same time he was. The same consummate flirting, the same way with words.

The same underlying care every time he spoke to her. She wondered if it were possible for people across universes to just know who they’re supposed to feel things for, if it translated across all of time and space. Hadn’t the Pete Tyler from this universe immediately taken to the Jackie Tyler from her universe?

Maybe some things just… were meant to be.

Before she could delve further into such a deep line of thought, an explosion lit up the sky in front of them, blocks away from what she could tell from her limited vantage. She shut her eyes instinctively against the sudden brightness, the boom of the blast ringing in her ears. There was yelling all around them as the guards that were keeping watch ran to investigate the source of this new threat. Through her eyelids Rose could see the glow of the explosion lit up across the sky, and she dared to open her eyes just a bit so that she could see. Golds and reds, greens and oranges — the sky was alight with colored fire.

“Pretty,” she whispered.

“Copper chloride,” Jack offered.

“What?”

“The different colors are made by different compounds when they burn,” Jack explained. “The green is copper chloride or whatever passes for it on this planet. Whatever is going on over there, it’s all for show. Just a bunch of colors and sound.”

She got it. Grinning, Rose sat back and waited, watching the beauty of the distraction as it continued to unfurl.

The Doctor was coming for them.

A minute later a shadow moved in the darkness, detaching and melting away from it until she could see that it was the very same Doctor she’d just been wishing for. Rose felt her face stretch into a wide grin that was matched by the one on his face.

“Miss me?” he asked, aiming the sonic screwdriver at the locks that held the stocks closed over her neck and wrists.

“You’ve no idea,” she answered, grin still in place even though the sunburn across her cheeks was protesting the taut skin.

“Told you he’d come for us,” Jack teased lightly.

Rose flushed as she lifted up out of the stocks, the look on the Doctor’s face one of amusement as he cocked his head to regard her.

“You doubted me?” His lips twitched with a smile as he turned the sonic screwdriver on Jack’s locks. He was trying to sound affronted, she could tell. She was a little embarrassed at having been called out like that, but the Doctor seemed to be taking it in stride. “Doesn’t matter,” he continued. “Here I am, and off we go. Quickly now.”

Whatever the Doctor had set fire to for his distraction, it was working brilliantly. They didn’t encounter a single guard as they slipped through the dark city. The only signs of life were back in the other direction, where he had set his plan in motion. She was out of breath and sore by the time they reached where he’d hidden the Tardis, and it was with welcome relief that she collapsed against the railing just inside the doors.

“C’mon, then — I’ll need to take a look at that,” the Doctor nudged her with his shoulder, gesturing to the sunburn running alongside the back of her body with a flick of his head. Jack had already gone on ahead, presumably to the medical bay, though she didn’t know for sure. She hadn’t had a chance to get a good look at him to see if he was suffering the same way she was. Now that she’d had a chance to move and stretch out, her skin was screaming with pain. Like she’d been scalded all along her backside.

It didn’t even phase her that she was standing there in nothing but her knickers with the Doctor so close. Not after having had people ogle her all day long. Her Doctor had seen her like this before, after all. Dressing one wound or another, he’d seen just about everything she had to offer. Almost everything. There were some things that had remained unseen. Things that she would have liked him to see.

“Rose? All right there?” the Doctor asked.

Rose looked over at him, shaking her head when she realized he’d gotten halfway to the door and she hadn’t even noticed him moving.

“Tired,” she murmured by way of excuse, following after him through the halls of the Tardis. “Sore.”

“Soon as I take a look at that, we’ll see about you getting some rest,” the Doctor promised her.

Jack was already there, as she’d guessed he would be. He wasn’t nearly as burned as she imagined herself to be, but the pink skin he was sporting looked painful nonetheless.

“We should be able to get some cream for this on Station Seven,” Jack announced, twisting and turning to try to get a better look at himself.

“Go set the coordinates, will you?” the Doctor asked, though to Rose it seemed more like an order.

Jack nodded, stopping next to Rose as she hopped onto the padded table to have her own burns looked at. He smirked and brushed a piece of her hair off of her forehead, behind her ear. “Told you he’d come for us.”

“Yeah,” Rose said softly, giving him a crooked smile. She wet her lips without even thinking and felt her cheeks go pink when Jack’s eyes followed that movement, something dark in his eyes.

“You remember what I said, all right?” Jack ordered with a wink, turning to leave the room before Rose could gather her thoughts, much less come up with a suitably flirty reply. Didn’t matter the universe — Captain Jack Harkness was a complete and utter flirt. Thing was, this was more than just flirting. He was being serious. If she wanted him, she could have him.

Only question then was whether or not she wanted him like that.

“Lie on your stomach,” the Doctor said.

Nodding, Rose laid out on the med. She flinched and sucked in a breath through her teeth when his cool fingers touched her overheated skin. They traced over the flesh, assessing the damage on each and every inch. If it didn’t hurt so badly, she might have actually enjoyed the gentle touches, like a lover’s caress.

“You’ll definitely need that cream from Station Seven,” the Doctor murmured. The chill of his fingers left her, and Rose turned her head so that she could see him. Arms crossed over his chest, he was looking down at her back with something akin to remorse. “I’m sorry.”

“For wha’?” Rose asked. The exhaustion that she had been trying to keep at bay was slowly edging up on her despite the pain that she was in. Or maybe it was because of it. Certainly sleep or unconsciousness seemed a better option than feeling like half of her body was on fire.

“For getting you hurt right off the bat,” he said simply, evenly, as if it made all the sense in the world to him.

Apparently this Doctor was very much like her own Doctor had been. He’d apologized on more than one occasion for something that wasn’t caused by anything that he had done. It wasn’t his fault that — no matter the time or place — people just seemed out to get him.

All right, most of the time it wasn’t his fault. There’d been a handful of times when it was definitely his fault. This, though? This wasn’t one of those.

“Not your fault,” she told him, just as simply. The Tardis started to move, the engines whirring and grinding a melodically familiar sound that she lost herself in for just a moment before she continued. “My Doctor once said to me that I was jeopardy friendly, you know. I s’pose that carried over. Maybe I should be apologizing?”

He gave her a look that clearly said she shouldn’t even think of it, and Rose stuck her tongue between her teeth and gave him a big smile. He stared, she smiled. When it was obvious he wasn’t going to get her to accept his apology, the Doctor threw up his hands.

“I give up.”

Rose laughed, her apparent victory momentarily making her forget the pain that she was in. “You forget, Doctor. I’ve got more practice dealing with you than you have with me.”

END CHAPTER

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Chapter 9: Chapter Eight

CHAPTER EIGHT

The control room was quiet, the central column still, when Rose felt up to wandering. Less than twenty-four hours had passed since her imprisonment and subsequent humiliation, and she was still smarting from the entire ordeal. She stood in the doorway for a minute, hand resting on the wall nearest her. The Tardis’s song hummed along in the back of her head, a warm golden glow of warmth and reassurance. The Doctor was half under the console, his legs sticking out in front of him. Tinkering with something, she supposed. From one universe to another, the Doctor just couldn’t keep his hands off of the Tardis.

Something like amusement flowed from the Tardis to her, leaving Rose wondering not for the first time just how much of her thoughts the ship could read. For that matter — how could this Tardis know her like it did, feel familiar to her like it did? There was no reason for it. Not in this universe. The other Tardis had been special to her since after the Game Station, though the Doctor hadn’t immediately told her why. To be fair, she hadn’t come right out and admitted to him when she started hearing the Tardis, either.

Maybe the Tardis was the Tardis, no matter what universe it was in. Or perhaps something still lingered in her from her little stint with the Time Vortex. Nothing harmful, just residue; like the background radiation she’d picked up traveling from one universe to another. The sort of thing that this Tardis would just recognize instinctively? Hard to say for sure which it was, if either. But those were the only two excuses for the familiarity that Rose could come up with, and they were better than have no reason for it at all.

Rose shifted, leaning against the wall, just watching the Doctor work. Her back was still sore, but she was tired of lying in bed. Lying around for that long was boring and Jack was sleeping.

Sleeping in her bed, she reminded herself. That was one of the reasons, though not the largest by far, that she had gotten up to do a bit of wandering. He had come by to check on her and just talk in general, after she had been sent to bed with the Doctor’s orders to just lie down and get some rest. Jack had gotten the same order, but had decided that he wanted to waste that downtime with her, if she was okay with it.

She had been more than okay with it. Still was. Talking had led to napping together in her bed. Jack had been a perfect gentleman, staying on top of the sheet that she was under, with a blanket pulled over him. There had been flirting, true. Something about if she had wanted to get him in bed with her, all she had to do was ask. To which she’d laughed and informed him quite matter-of-fact that she’d heard that before. Chatting, flirting, and napping. When she’d woken up a few hours later it was to find that her and Jack had gotten closer to one another while they slept, to the point that they were practically cuddling despite the sheets that separated them and the sunburn that stung painfully on both of their bodies.

Everything had changed for her in those moments as she adjusted to the feel of Jack’s body pressed alongside hers, his arm curled over her side, drawing her closer instinctively.

Was it possible to fall for someone when you had, logically, not even known them for an entire week?

The answer was, surprisingly, yes. And she had. Fallen for him, that was. Head over bloody heels. It was partially due to having known her Jack and cared about him, she knew. But there was more to it than that. They had talked a lot while they lay around doing their Doctor-assigned rest and recuperation. Him about his life, her about hers. Talking with him had come so naturally after spending an entire day in the stocks next to each other. And not just for her, either. This Jack had opened up to her more than her own Jack ever had.

It was easy to fall for Jack. Always had been and, as she was finding out, always would be.

The only thing that made it any better, she supposed, was the fact that Jack seemed to like her just as much.

Again, there seemed to be things that translated from one universe to another with no rhyme or reason. Like how friends just clicked, how feelings stayed the same, and how some people were just meant to be with each other.

Funny, she’d thought that if she were going to accidentally lose her heart, it would be to this new Northern Doctor that reminded her so much of the Doctor she’d lost.

Trying to figure all of that out wasn’t what had driven her from her bed, however. There were things that she wanted to tell the Doctor before Jack let something slip or the Doctor himself noticed all on his own. He deserved to hear from her lips about the connection she shared with the Tardis, though she suspected that he wouldn’t be happy about it. True, breaking open the Tardis had happened in the other universe and not to his own precious ship, but that didn’t make the intrusion any less… intrusive.

She pushed off of the wall with a final pet to the Tardis’s walls.

“Doctor?”

He froze under the console, going perfectly still for just an instant before he slid out from beneath it. For one moment the expression on his face was so her Doctor that it took Rose’s breath away.

See, so bloody easy to accidentally lose her heart to him. Maybe she should have insisted that she stay at Torchwood, that he find someway to deal with her being in this timeline other than taking her with him on the Tardis. This was only going to end in heartache for her. Isn’t that what had happened before?

”Something wrong?” he asked, climbing to his feet. He was across the room and standing in front of her before she could answer, looking down at her with worry written clearly on his face. It took her a moment to realize that he had his sonic screwdriver in his hand and a cable in the other, though the screwdriver was currently angled at her. No doubt taking a reading of some sort to make sure that there wasn’t anything physically wrong with her. “Are you still in pain from the sunburn?”

Well, she was. But that wasn’t the reason for her being up and about.

“No, nothin’ like that. ‘M fine,” she assured him, gently pushing the sonic screwdriver down and away from her. “I just wanted to talk.”

“Ah. Right.” The Doctor looked sheepish as he turned back to the Tardis’ console. Being willing to sometimes show emotion didn’t mean that he was comfortable doing so. That hadn’t changed. The Doctor didn’t slip back underneath the console when he stood by it, though, just leaned against it after he had put down the cable he held. Arms crossed over his chest, he waited. “Well? Was there something specific you wanted to talk about, or ‘s this just a social visit?”

Rose coughed to cover her discomfort, turning away with that gaze to gather her thoughts. She walked slowly down the ramp, his eyes following her as she moved around the room, then to the console.

“Yeah, there’s somethin’ specific,” she said quietly. Why was this so much harder than she’d thought it would be? Wasn’t like she’d done what she did to him or this Tardis. Still, she could well remember the gentle reprimand that had been in her second Doctor’s tone when he had finally gotten around to telling her what she’d done, after too many nights had gone by when she’d woken up from dreams that she couldn’t understand. At that time all she’d been able to think was how her first Doctor would have felt about it. And she had assumed the worst, basing her assumptions on how he had reacted to what she’d done when they’d gone back to see her dad’s death.

She’d never told her second Doctor, but that bit of imagination had haunted her. Thinking about how her first Doctor would have reacted. Maybe it was a valid assumption, maybe it wasn’t. Didn’t really matter, because she’d been sure she’d never know.

But this? This was as close as she would come to finding out how that conversation would have gone.

She cleared her throat and put a hand on the Tardis’s console, letting that warm hum wash through her again.

“’s about some stuff that I didn’t put in the files you read. Back at Torchwood,” she began slowly, stammering a bit. “About how everythin’ ended on the Game Station.”

The Doctor nodded. “I thought that there was something missing from that. Wasn’t going to ask. Figured it was none of my business since it all worked out well in the end.” His eyes searched her face intently, and in a moment that she could only describe as compassion, he asked, “D’you need to tell me whatever this is?”

Sighing, Rose gave him a half-smile. “Yeah. Just in case. Don’t think anythin’ will come of it at this point, but better safe than sorry, right?”

“Sounds like it.” He returned her smile with his own, though it was slightly crooked and didn’t quite reach his eyes. It was clear to Rose that he was picking up on her nervousness, and was worried about whatever it was that she had to say. She swallowed hard and tried to calm herself down. There was no reason that this had to go badly, after all. Completely possible that everything that she’d ever imagined happening wouldn’t, well, happen, right?

“I don’t really remember what all I put in the reports you read,” she said after a long moment spent gathering her thoughts. “So ‘m just goin’ to start at the beginning, all right?”

She waited for the Doctor’s tight nod before beginning, voice not breaking a single time as she described the transmat that had snatched the three of them from the Tardis, then the Game Station and how she’d played and watched people die right in front of her in that barbaric game show.

No, her voice didn’t falter until she started talking about the Daleks. She felt cold all over. It wasn’t just what had happened on the Game Station, though that was enough to cause nightmares all on its own. On top of that she now had the added terror of what had happened at Torchwood Tower. Post-traumatic stress, that was what it was. That’s what the resident psychiatrist at Torchwood had told her in those first weeks after she’d arrived in the alternate universe. The Rose Tyler that had faced down Daleks without flinching didn’t exist right after that. The girl that had gotten in the face of a Dalek and bragged about taking down the Dalek Emperor had been reduced to someone that became jittery at the very mention of those dome-shaped machines.

She had gotten past it. Slowly. Learned to cope with what she had seen and done.

What she had lost.

Dredging up those old hurts was like reopening the wound, though. It was one thing to say that she’d gotten over it, moved past it — quite something else entirely to have the images of what had happened now going through her head. She could remember the terror she’d felt, confronted with the knowledge that what was happening on the Game Station might be it. The end. Nothing more of Rose, nothing more of the Doctor or Jack, or the whole human race.

She watched the Doctor’s face for as long as she could as she told him about the Doctor sending her away, turned her head when she got to the part where she was back with her mum and Mickey because she couldn’t bear to see his face when she started talking about breaking into the Tardis’s heart. Ripping the old girl open so that she could get back to the Doctor that had sent her away.

There was a sharp intake of breath, a hiss of displeasure.

”You did what?”

Rose flinched, eyes shutting instinctively at the tone of the Doctor’s voice.

“I had to,” she told him, still unable to meet his eyes. Her voice was soft. There was no way that she could make him understand. This Doctor had never been there. Would never be in that situation, she hoped.

“What happened next?” There was nothing in his voice now to give away what he was thinking or feeling. The Doctor was good at that, whether in this universe or the other. He could shut down just like that. Mask his emotions and not give anything away. How many times had she seen him do just that? Usually not with her, no matter what his incarnation.

Not this time. Not this him>

“I don’t remember m’self,” she admitted honestly. “But the Doctor told me that… I looked into the heart of the Tardis. I took the Vortex into me and went back t’save him.” She laughed bitterly, brokenly. The weight of what she had done still rested heavily on her shoulders at times like these. It wasn’t that she regretted having done what she did, but that didn’t make it any easier to cope with. All the power of time and space had been at her command. Inside of her.

In her head, the Tardis hummed softly, encouragingly. Not for the first time, Rose was happy of her connection to this wonderful, living machine. It was easier to do this with someone at her back, giving her that reassurance. Even if that someone was, in fact, just the Tardis. Without thinking, she stroked the console for a brief moment, giving her a pat of thanks.

“You hear her, don’t you?”

Rose glanced up quickly, meeting the Doctor’s eyes for the first time since she’d started in on the more startling parts of her little tale. There was still nothing there that she could read. Nothing to give away what he was thinking. Maybe he was regretting bringing her along with him now, knowing what she’d done.

“Yeah, I can,” she said. “She’s always in the back of my ‘ead.”

The Doctor nodded, face softening. “Ah, well, that explains a few things then. Like how sometimes it seems like she’s communicatin’ with someone other than me. I know the Captain can’t hear her like that. Never thought that you could.”

Rose gave him a half-smile. “Yeah s’been me the whole time.”

Another nod and then, just like that, the moment was gone. He was back to business-mode. “Go on, then. Finish your story.”

She told him what her Doctor had told her. That she had wiped the Daleks from time and space with a wave of her hand, saving him and everyone else. It was clinical and detached now. Like she was on the outside looking in. Maybe because she couldn’t remember any of it, even to this day. Dreams of golden warmth, broken images, but nothing concrete. There was no emotion behind it because she didn’t know what she had felt, if anything. And maybe there wasn’t anything to be felt. Riding on all of that power, it was possible that she had felt… nothing.

“He took the Vortex from me,” she told the Doctor. “And then he died. Right in front of me. Regenerated, but I didn’t know it ‘cause he’d never explained what would happen. Never told me that his — your — people could do somethin’ like that. I thought I’d lost him.”

Before she knew it, she was telling him about what had happened after the Game Station. About the Sycorax and thinking that the Doctor wasn’t going to be able to save all of them. She told him about going the planet that circled around the black hole, about meeting Queen Victoria.

She didn’t stop talking until her throat grew dry and scratchy, buoyed by the Doctor’s questions and comments with every passing tale of adventure and woe.

She didn’t tell him about that day on the beach in Norway, even when she reached the end of her tales. Didn’t tell him because… he hadn’t the right to know about a moment that was so intrinsically personal and between her and her Doctor.

There was no need to, though, as she found out a moment after she’d stopped speaking, when the Doctor said point-blank, “You loved him.”

Rose blushed, looked away. She turned so that she was facing the console, staring into the glowy-green core of the central column. It was still. They were just floating in the Vortex, waiting for the moment when her and Jack were healed enough to be back to adventuring.

You loved him, three little words that said so much. Like the fact that she hadn’t kept her emotions regarding the Doctor as closely guarded as she would have liked. Now this Doctor knew, and she hadn’t wanted that. Not ever. It would be too hard for him to know, for her to have to be around him day in and day out, knowing that he knew. Embarrassing, really. The last thing she wanted was for him to pity her or look on her like she was stupid for harboring a crush like she’d had.

But there was no denying it now. Not with tears leaking from the corners of her eyes, and the pain in her chest so tight that she could scarcely breathe.

She had loved her Doctor. She had loved him more than she’d ever thought it possible to love another person.

And she missed him so, so very much.

“Yeah,” she said, tears on her cheeks. “I loved ‘im.” She drew in a shaking breath, a solution to everything coming to her in a moment of true clarity. “An’ that’s why I want you to take me home. Take me back to Torchwood.”

END CHAPTER

Back to index


Chapter 10: Chapter Nine

Previously on “As the TARDIS Turns”… oh, wait, that’s not right. Previously on “Falling For You, All Over Again”:

“An’ that’s why I want you to take me home. Take me back to Torchwood.”

CHAPTER NINE

Rose waited, breath caught in her throat, for the inevitable derisive look and the scornful response that she had braced herself for from the moment she realized she was actually going to ask to go back. There was already an empty ache in her chest at the thought of leaving, but it was too late to take back the words now that they had been spoken.

Not that she wanted to. This was the right choice, even if it was going to — and already did - hurt like hell.

The Doctor’s eyebrows went up. He crossed his arms over his chest and looked down his nose at her. Rose could almost see the thoughts and suspicions whirling away behind his eyes. She tensed, ready for whatever he had to say, knowing that it would all be over soon enough and she’d be away from here, him, and Jack.

Then the Doctor opened his mouth and said the one thing that Rose had never counted on.

“No.”

Wait. What?

“’M sorry?” she asked, confused. No, confused was too tame of a word for what she was feeling right at that moment, some part of her brain decided. This numb, horrified feeling of embarrassment and irritation? That was being completely stunned, Rose was almost sure of it.

“I said ‘no’,” he told her, as if it was the most reasonable thing in the world. Rose blinked at him, still too shocked at the outright denial of her request to do more than just stare and hope that he started making sense soon.

He didn’t. In fact, he just stood there and returned her stare with one of his own, looking far too much like the first Doctor she had ever traveled with for Rose’s comfort. She swallowed down a lump of something that felt a lot like pain and tried to look away, only to find that she couldn’t. Maybe it was pride that made her hold his gaze, or maybe she was just weak. If this was going to be the last time she ever saw any incarnation of the Doctor, after all, she shouldn’t miss a moment of it. Even if he’s looking at her like she grew two heads when he wasn’t looking.

That sparked a thought she’d rather not have dealt with, though, and suddenly Rose found herself tripping down memory lane, remembering when the Doctor was talking nonsense right before he regenerated. Two heads. No heads.

He’d changed right in front of her, become someone else. Someone that she loved just as much as she’d loved the first him. Maybe even more.

And now she had neither of them. Just someone that looked like her Doctor, spoke like her Doctor, even acted like him.

But he wasn’t him and sticking around here wasn’t going to do anything but break her heart. Bad enough she’d already fallen for Jack.

“You -,” Rose stopped, frowned. The entire universe seemed to have just turned itself inside out and all she could do was hang on for dear life. That was how little sense all of this made. She licked her lips, then tried again. “You keepin’ me hostage, then?”

If that was the case, then there was no greater proof in the universe that this Doctor was different from the one she had given her heart to. Her Doctor had once told her he’d never keep her involuntarily. That he didn’t do that. Never had, he’d even told her. If someone decided that they didn’t want to travel with him anymore, then that was it. They’d talked about those other companions of his once or twice, after she’d met Sarah Jane and been force fed the realization that she wasn’t the only one he’d ever cared about. He’d talked of when he’d left them or vice versa. Not once had he ever said that he’d tried to make someone stay, not let them go when they wanted to.

“Hostage?” he asked coolly. Again there was that feeling that he was looking at her hard enough to stare through to her very soul. She hoped that wasn’t the case, and was pretty sure that soul-watching wasn’t on the list of talents she’d ever heard the Doctor rattle on about anyway. Telepathy, though. That one was right there at the top. Would she even know if he was inside her head? Her other Doctor wouldn’t have done that. But he wouldn’t have refused to take her home, either. This Doctor was an entirely different breed, and Rose was at a loss for what to expect or how to cope with it. The Doctor’s lips turned up in a mocking smile. He snorted and rolled his eyes. “Hardly.”

All right. That was it.

“How d’ya figure that?” she shot back, finally getting angry. “I asked to go home.” Each word was snapped out, through teeth that fought not to clench tightly together.

“Right, heard you the first time, I did,” he said with a nod. No further explanation. Just one, sharp nod.

“And you said ‘no’,” she reminded him, trying not to get any angrier with him than she already was. She failed. Miserably. Once upon a time ago she’d thought that the Doctor was a little attractive when he acted like a lofty, know-it-all. This was not one of those times.

“Knew I couldn’t put anything past you, Rose Tyler. You’re right. I said ‘no’.”

Right, then. She was lost. And frustrated. And definitely more than a little angry. These were not the emotions that she had thought she’d be experiencing after asking to go home. Then again, maybe this was better than the sadness she had expected. She shook her head, trying to break free of her thoughts long enough to get to the bottom of whatever the Doctor was trying to pull. “And that’s not holdin’ me hostage — how?”

“Because you don’t really want to leave.”

Rose went stiff. Had he been looking through her head after all, seen the reasons that she was making this choice, and come to a conclusion with his so-called superior intellect? She tried to keep her voice calm, but knew that she failed almost immediately. “Yes, I really do.”

The Doctor rolled his eyes and shook his head. He turned away from her, so that now all she could see was the tight set of his shoulders under his leather jacket, as his hands moved over the TARDIS controls. While she didn’t know much about how to fly the TARDIS, she did know that he wasn’t actually doing anything. He just didn’t want to look at her anymore.

That hurt. God, it hurt. She hadn’t meant to make him mad or upset or… anything! She’d just wanted to get out of here and back to the closest she could ever hope to have for a normal life, someplace where she didn’t run the risk every single day of having her heart broken because her bloody head couldn’t wrap itself around the fact that these two people — Jack and the Doctor — were not hers.

She sighed. “Doctor — I should go. Back to Torchwood. Or just ‘ome, if you don’t want me workin’ at Torchwood no more.”

Anywhere but here, she didn’t say, though she thought it.

Should go? Says who?” he asked, glancing over his shoulder at her, still with that air that she was irritating him with her request.

“Says me. An’ I’m the one that gets to make that decision, Doctor! Not you.”

Now he turned, whirling on her with eyebrows up and mouth set in a thin line. Rose had never been afraid of the Doctor, and that hadn’t changed. But he could be bloody intimidating when he wanted to be. Right now was obviously one of those times.

“You don’t get t’make decisions like this when you’re obviously not thinkin’ clearly. When you’ve got your poor little ape brain so twisted that you’re set to throw away somethin’ that you enjoy doin’.”

He made it sound so easy, like she didn’t have a problem in the world with giving up this life. Did he really think that? If so, she was doing a better job of hiding how she felt than she’d previously thought.

There was something else there as he spoke, an edge of pleading that was at complete odds with the cool flash of his eyes. The Doctor wanted her to understand what he was trying to tell her. That she shouldn’t be rash. Well, she did understand that, and maybe this was rash and something that she’d one day regret.

Didn’t make it the wrong decision for her to make right now.

“Wish it was that easy,” she told him honestly.

The Doctor shook his head. “I’ll never understand you people. Spend all your lives rushing from one bad decision to another, regrettin’ when you don’t make enough of your short little lives. But when somethin’ comes along — somethin’ better — you run an’ hide the second things get tough.”

“It’s not like that,” she yelled, the words spilling before she could stop them. Well, what was done was done, right? “You think I want t’leave? T’go back to my boring old life when this,” she swept her arm out to encompass the TARDIS, “is all I can ever see m’self enjoying? Ever? D’ya think I’d do that on a whim, Doctor, without havin’ a really good reason for it?”

The Doctor’s face softened. “No, I don’t think that at all, Rose. An’ I know that you believe you have a good reason. I jus’ don’t think that it’s good enough for what you’ll be givin’ up.” He sighed and leaned back against the console again, arms tucking up on his chest so that his hands were snug beneath his underarms. “Look — if you don’t want to talk to me, talk to Jack. You two are close, yeah?”

“Yeah,” she agreed softly, finally finding the strength to turn from the Doctor’s inquisitive gaze. He was wearing her down little by little. She touched the console, seeking the warm, comforting hum of the TARDIS.

And received rebuke instead. Her hand stilled, falling away from console as if she’d been burned. The message had been received loud and clear, though. Not only was the Doctor upset with her, but so was the TARDIS.

Maybe she wasn’t handling this as well as she could.

But it wasn’t like she could do what the Doctor wanted and talk with Jack. Not when a good portion of the confusion she was feeling had to do with the Captain and how she felt about him. That really only left the Doctor as her confidant, and how many times had her other Doctor scoffed at talk like this as being too domestic.

Lose-lose situation all around.

“I can’t talk t’him,” she said softly.

“Why not? Spend all your time talkin’ to him since I rescued th’ two of you,” he chided her, though his voice lacked any malice. In fact, there was a little smile on his lips when he looked at her that could almost be called ‘fond’. “Sleepin’ in your bed right now, isn’t he?”

Rose blushed, rising automatically to defend what really was nothing more than close friendship. “It’s not like that.”

At least, she had meant for it to be a defense.

The Doctor’s smile was wide and sudden, and Rose knew that she’d given something away with her hurried denial. She opened her mouth to say something else, to change the topic, but shut it quickly again. There wasn’t anything that she could say now.

“Is that what all of this was about?” he asked, stilling smiling that manic grin.

She’d never liked being teased about this sort of thing, and having the Doctor be the one dishing it out didn’t make her feel any better. Rose huffed a sigh and leveled a mocking glare at the Doctor. “Isn’t this conversation too domestic for you, Doctor?” she said with what she hoped was enough scorn to make him see that he didn’t really want to have this talk with her.

Futile hope, that. His grin didn’t fade in the least, if anything it grew, as he latched onto what he had to believe was proof that he’d figured out the problem that was about to send her home. From that angle, Rose supposed that she could understand his willingness to have this talk. He hadn’t wanted her to leave, had wanted to know why she was acting the way she was.

And now he knew.

“Nah, s’not domestic at all. Just me, bein’ concerned with the welfare of my companions. That all right?”

Saying ‘no’ probably wasn’t an option. Under his grinning, knowing gaze, she cracked. This time when she leaned against the console, the TARDIS was a glowing hum in her mind. She shut her eyes for a long minute, but knew there was no use. He’d still be there, waiting, when she opened her eyes again.

“Fine,” she sighed explosively. “Yeah, I like Jack. Bein’ here, bein’ around the two of you — it’s hard for me. You asked if I loved my Doctor — yeah, I did. An’ I loved Jack, too. Both of ‘em.”

“Ah,” the Doctor nodded. “So you think that by runnin’ away you’ll save yourself some hurt? Not let yourself get attached again, right? Easier that way, ‘m sure.”

The interior of the TARDIS, for all that it was much bigger on the inside, suddenly didn’t seem nearly big enough to hide her from the embarrassment of the knowing, sympathetic look in the Doctor’s eyes.

“What about Jack, tho’?” he continued, arching an eyebrow.

“Wha’ about him?” Just when she thought she’d figured out how this conversation was going to go — more heartache for her — the Doctor pulled out a question that made absolutely no sense. Not to her, anyway.

The Doctor’s answer was only a shrug for the longest of moments. Long enough for Rose to wonder if he was going to answer her at all. And then he spoke, walking slowly towards her, and the world spun topsy-turvy again. “He cares about you. Didn’t think I needed t’tell you that much, and yet here I am. Statin’ the obvious once again. Think maybe you fried somethin’ up here,” he tapped once on her forehead, “being out in the sun like that for so long?”

“That’s not nice.”

“Wasn’t meant t’be.”

Rose stared straight ahead, her eyes fixed on the grey of the jumper beneath the Doctor’s jacket. She wondered if it was scratchy just like the one that the other him used to wear, that she’d laid her cheek against and cried into once or twice. A part of her wanted that more than anything right at that moment. For the Doctor to take her in his arms and hold her, crush her to him and make her feel like the world really would be better.

“Don’t be afraid to care, Rose Tyler,” the Doctor said when he finally spoke again. “Take it from me — s’ no way to live your life.”

She didn’t know what was more shocking: the Doctor’s words; the fact that he cared enough to say something that profound to her, someone he barely knew; or…

…or the hug that came almost immediately after. The one that left her sobbing into his chest for everything she’d lost, everything that had happened in the last few days, and everything that she was afraid to let herself feel.

“No more talk of leaving.”

Rose nodded, not pulling away yet. The shirt really was just as scratchy as her other Doctor’s had been.

“Yeah, no more.”

END CHAPTER

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Chapter 11: Chapter Ten

A/N: Thank you to everyone for the feedback.

CHAPTER TEN

Rose left the control room. The feel of the Doctor’s arms still lingering in her mind, the smell of his soap and the way that his jumper felt against her cheek filling her senses. He’d done what he’d always done. Or, what his other universe self had always done. Made her feel warm and welcome, safe and wanted.

She bit back a sigh and rubbed tiredly at her eyes, but she was far from unhappy. This was exactly what she had wanted to avoid — feeling like this about him or Jack — but he was right, too. She couldn’t live the rest of her life afraid to care about anyone ever again. And she did enjoy Jack’s company. Cared about him a lot more than she would have thought possible. It wasn’t all because he reminded her of her Jack, either. She liked the differences as much as she enjoyed their similarities. Knew more about this Jack than she’d ever known about the Jack she’d once been friends with. It all came down to this: she liked Jack for who he was in this universe. Getting to know him had just been easier because of her experiences back ‘home’.

In short, she was a goner.

With that said, she was still planning to try her hardest not to give her heart to the Doctor again, as well. Wasn’t like he wanted it, anyway, otherwise he would’ve said something while she was pouring her heart out to him, right? While Jack might take her up on her offer of affection and companionship, the Doctor never would. That didn’t change from universe to universe, she was sure of it.

Jack was still asleep when Rose reached her bedroom. He lay on his stomach, head turned towards the open door, sleeping peacefully. She stopped in the doorway for a minute and leaned against the frame, just watching him sleep. The plain grey t-shirt that he wore was tight against his torso, showing off the fine lines of his muscles. In sleep his face was perfectly relaxed, completely open. His lips were half-parted, and the soft sound of his breathing was the only noise in the room, aside from the TARDIS’s soft hum. Here’s where her heart had gone. Of its own volition, without any prior planning or warning. Snuck off and made itself right at home in the safety of Jack Harkness’s embrace, that’s what it’d done. Mutinous little thing, her heart was. If she’d had a choice in the matter, this wasn’t what she would have wanted for herself.

Then again, it wasn’t as if what she wanted mattered. It was too late now. Her heart had been given whether or not Jack realized yet that he had it. What exactly had she been trying to accomplish when she asked the Doctor to take her back to Torchwood? Pride had been her motivation. Getting out before she made a fool of herself by giving away her heart to someone that she didn’t feel would want it. Not like that anyway. She just hadn’t counted on the fact that she really had already — one hundred and ten percent — lost it. Couldn’t lose what you’d already given away freely.

Too late, too late, too late. The words repeated in her head. A teasing chant, a mocking reminder. She sighed and then laughed. It was nothing less than the truth. Might as well try to make the most of things, then, right?

Rose padded quietly across the room to the bed, sitting down on the edge as gently as possible. She reached out, hand hovering just over Jack’s back. Wanting to touch him, but not wanting to overstep any bounds that they still had, either. Was one thing to offer up careless friendly caresses when they were both awake, something else to do it when he was asleep. Besides, it would be cruel to wake him when he was so peaceful anyway, she told herself. She moved to pull her hand away, only to find it caught gently in one of Jack’s. The suddenness made her jump, and earned a little smile from Jack, who had yet to open his eyes.

He ran his thumb over the back of her hand, making Rose shiver just a little, and asked softly, “Everything okay?”

“Yeah,” Rose answered immediately. Probably a little too quickly, but it was still the truth. Everything was fine now. She’d had her talk with the Doctor, worked it all out in her head. As far as she was concerned, all was okay in her world.

“You sure? You were gone a while.” Right then, she guessed Jack hadn’t been completely oblivious to her absence. So much for being discreet about the whole thing. Rose was lucky he hadn’t decided to come find her. That was one conversation that he didn’t need to know about. No sense getting him worried or upset over her insecurities.

Jack’s eyes cracked to slits, the glimmer of blue just barely visible beneath the lowered lashes, and Rose felt that familiar tremor of lust begin in her stomach. It really wasn’t his fault that he looked so good like this, with his hair tousled and an aura of sleep hanging over him. However, it was his fault that he was still stroking the back of her hand with his thumb, and that was making it hard for her to concentrate on what they were talking about. Just a little. A slight delay that she hoped he wouldn’t notice, as her mind tried to overcome the casual desire he was creating with his touch.

Rose nodded, reminding herself again that it wasn’t really a lie, and said to Jack, “Everything’s fine now.” There. She’d qualified her answer, and if he noticed or felt that it was something he should press her on, Jack gave no indication.

He smiled slowly and rolled onto his back, his hand still holding hers. Rose found her eyes drawn to where his t-shirt had rucked up on his stomach, revealing a nice expanse of skin and showing off his toned tummy.

Why was it that it was hard to stop thinking about Jack like that now that she’d decided not to hold herself back from caring about him? It was as if she’d opened up the floodgates and forgotten to stand clear, getting drenched in the process. Easy to just let herself keep falling even deeper, to drown in the emotions and want that being around Jack dredged up.

“See something you like?”

Rose blushed hot, and tore her eyes away. God, she hadn’t even realized she’d been staring long enough for him to notice. Practically molesting him with her eyes. That was what she’d been doing. Imagining running her hands — maybe her tongue — all over his skin. Wasn’t like Jack minded, she was sure of it. He’d parade around in front of her completely naked if she asked, not that she was planning to. Well, not any time soon, at the very least. That was the plan and she was sticking to it… she was pretty sure of it.

The hand that held onto hers squeezed, and from the tone of Jack’s voice when he spoke, Rose could tell he thought he’d embarrassed her. He couldn’t have been further from the reality of it. “Rose. C’mon, sweetheart, I was just teasing you.”

Just teasing. Right. Same old Jack. Nothing new there. He had no way of knowing how close to home he’d hit with that one teasing comment. Not only had she seen something she liked, she’d wanted to touch it, taste it. Run her fingers and tongue along it and learn even more about this Jack that she’d never known about the other.

She didn’t want his question to have been only just teasing.

“Well, maybe I did,” she said quickly, her mind making the decision to just do it before her common sense reasserted itself. She glanced back at him and then away again just as quickly, unable to meet his eyes as she admitted, “See something I like, that is.”

She was blushing again. Hot in the cheeks, flushed admitting to him something that felt so personal and private, yet involved him just the same. Maybe she shouldn’t go rushing into things with him right now, so soon after being conflicted about it. It probably wasn’t the smartest thing.

“Oh yeah?” Jack’s eyes were completely open when she looked back at him. He let go of her hand, and Rose felt the loss like a slap. Like rejection, even though the look in his eyes was anything but.

Then Jack stretched. Arms up over his head. Legs flexing beneath the bed sheet. She glanced down the length of his body and could actually see his toes point. A nice, full body stretch. But it was his stomach and that span of skin that grew as he moved, showing more and more of his body. She’d seen it before, during, and right after their time in captivity together, but this was different. Jack was putting on a show for her. Letting her look her fill with the knowledge that was just what she was doing. There was a sparkle in his eye, and his lips were twisted into a tiny playful smile.

“Look all you want, then,” he said after a long moment of silence during which she had already been doing just that. His voice was light, teasing and amused, but with a warm edge to it that made things low in her body tighten and clench. She gave him another once over. Looking. Enjoying. Imagining the possibilities if she would just let herself take them.

Rose’s fingers curled in her lap, itching to trace those faint lines she could see in his stomach. She stuck her tongue out, resting it on the front of her teeth unconsciously, taking in what Jack was offering. Would he mind if —

Again her fingers twitched, eager to touch and explore both what she could. Would he mind if she just reached out and --?

With a ragged sigh, Jack ended her indecision. “Go ahead. God, Rose, please. Touch me if you want to.”

Throwing caution to the wind, determined to have some happiness again in her life, Rose took a deep breath and did just that.

END CHAPTER

A/N: Short chapter because I wanted to give warning that I’m changing the rating of this fic. Next chapter…Rose/Jack smut.

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Chapter 12: Chapter Eleven

CHAPTER ELEVEN

His stomach was taut beneath her hesitant touch. She ran a finger along the muscle of his abdomen, tracing one of those defined lines with her nail. Jack sucked in a breath, tensing up under her questing fingers. Managing to tear her eyes from his stomach, Rose glanced up at Jack’s face, a question in her eyes.

”You don’t like that?”

He laughed. Husky, deep. “I like it very much.”

She did it again. Fingernail along the skin, a light scratch over that perfect skin. Watched his face as he inhaled sharply, and she could swear that she saw the roll of his eyes within their sockets, even though his lids were shut. His tongue flicked out and over his lips, and Rose unconsciously mirrored the action, wondering what he would taste like. Asking herself if she dared to find out. Continuing to caress Jack’s stomach, she leaned in. Slowly. Carefully. More afraid to scare herself away than Jack. Wasn’t possible to make Jack not want this, she understood now. Didn’t matter the universe, Jack was hers and she was his. All she’d ever had to do was say she wanted him.

What they had was beautiful like that. No way she could run from this. She’d been daft to even think about it.

Jack’s hips flexed, drawing Rose’s attention down to that part of his body, and her breath caught in her throat. Didn’t look like she needed to worry that Jack wasn’t enjoying what she was doing. The evidence of just how much he liked it was right there, tenting the sheet that covered his lower half. She swallowed, suddenly nervous, her fingers stilling on his stomach. It had been a long time for her. A very long time.

“Rose?”

“Yeah?” she asked. Was that her voice that sounded so breathless, so… wanting? She flushed, just a little, at the need that she was feeling. The desire to just move her hand a little lower. Under the sheet, over it. Didn’t matter, because she wanted to touch him and be touched by him.

“C’mere.”

A hard tug on her arm and Rose was pulled down next to Jack, half on top of him. One hand splayed on his chest, and she could feel his heart pounding away. Eyes open, sparkling with dark passion, he licked his lips again. It was like a warning. Or, it should have been, because a handful of seconds later he was lifting up, kissing her so gently, so tenderly, that it just about broke her heart.

Rose sighed against Jack’s lips, melting not only into the kiss, but into his touch in general. She moved her hand from his chest to the bed next to his shoulder, laying herself on him completely with that one little movement. Her legs were still off to one side of his body, away from the hard press of his erection poking up and waving like a flag pole. She giggled a little at the analogy, nerves getting to her.

Jack pulled back from the kiss, arching an eyebrow at her and murmuring with a smile on his lips, “Laughter? Now there’s something new. Something wrong with my technique?”

She rolled her eyes, answering his teasing with a kiss of her own. Licking at his lower lip, she moaned when he opened his mouth to her. It was the sweetest of kisses, and hot as hell, all at the same time. Passionate, intense, and so sweet that it made her teeth ache. He tasted like home. His tongue flicked at hers, tiny teasing licks that had Rose in a full-body shiver. It was enough to make her want more.

In complete control, Jack’s hand caressed along her side, over to her back. He lifted the bottom of her shirt. Skin to skin, warmth to warmth, and Rose gasped from the sudden feel of it. She wiggled a little against him, one leg sliding up Jack’s body. Her knee bumped gently against his erection and she paused. The way that Jack moaned into her mouth was just about the most erotic thing she’d heard in a very long time. Grinning, lips pressed still to his, she rubbed her knee against him, swallowing up the needy moans and sounds of morepleasemore that spilled from his mouth. Drinking them down like they were the finest wine.

She pulled away from his mouth, reeling like she had been drinking. Intoxicated from the deep, drawing kisses. With only a little of the nervousness she’d felt before, she reached down and ran her hand over his hard shaft, her own stomach clenching with arousal at the low moan that whispered from between Jack’s lips.

He was flushed and panting lightly. Rose thought that she probably looked the same.

“Rose,” he gasped when she wrapped her hand around him, the sheet and his pajama bottoms still between him and her bare hand. “Are we doing this?”

Were they? Rose’s hand stilled, stopping entirely. She pulled her lower lip between her teeth and nibbled at it, and Jack’s soft sigh sounded like disappointment, frustration, and the same kind of needy want that she could feel churning away inside of her, slick and warm like the heat between her legs.

It was enough to make up her mind. “Yeah,” she murmured. “If you want to.”

He had her flipped and on her back so quickly that the room seemed to spin for a moment. When it came to a stop, she was staring up at the ceiling, and Jack’s fingers were on the waist of her pants, tugging them down. Over her hips, past her thighs. He stopped and dropped a kiss to both of her inner thighs, smoothing a caress over her skin before continuing downward. With every inch of her that he revealed, he let his tongue and lips be the first thing she felt. When he nipped at the inside of her right calf, Rose jumped, whimpering from the unexpected pleasure of the slight, sharp pain.

Jack looked up, a heated smile on his lips to match the desire burning in his eyes. She’d never felt like this; like she was the most wanted, desired girl in all of the universe. Not even her other Doctor had made her feel this way, and he’d made her feel pretty special, even if not sexually.

When he had her pants off, Jack surprised her even more by taking one foot in his hands. He pressed his thumbs into the arch, rolling them in slow circular motions that, all right, felt almost as good as the kissing and touching had. Rose dropped her head back, eyes fluttering closed involuntarily, and she couldn’t be embarrassed by the appreciative moan that came out of her mouth, because Jack certainly knew how to give one hell of a foot massage. She nudged out with her other foot after a moment, reminding him that it deserved attention, too, and was rewarded with a husky laugh from her bedmate before he took that foot and gave it the same treatment.

While he did, Rose took advantage of having him kneeling between her legs and slid her free foot up his thigh, toes nudging at his crotch. It was so hard to concentrate on tracing that hard, long length with her toes when Jack was creating such delicious feelings in her body with nothing more than his thumbs on her foot.

”God, Jack. Where’d you learn that?” she murmured.

He chuckled and let go of her foot, gently pushing the toes that pressed at his groin aside so that he could move up the bed, between her legs. Stopping only when he was nestled between her thighs, Jack lowered himself on top of her.

And suddenly Rose didn’t really care where or when Jack had learned his massage techniques, because he was hard and ready and pressing insistently between her legs, right up against that slick wetness. With a press of his hips he rubbed up and against her, dragging that hardness right up against that sensitive spot right between her thighs.

“D’you have…” Rose tried to gather her thoughts. They needed something…something important before they could go any further. It was so hard to think, though, with Jack grinding against her, his hands slowly working her shirt up, up, up.

“Sterile and disease free,” he answered, as if he could read her mind. Maybe he could, because that was just what she’d been trying to ask, she realized. “Tell me you want this, Rose,” he said, breaths coming a little harder than usual. Sweat glistened on his chest and arms, a light covering that made Rose want to drag her tongue over him, see if he tasted as salty-sweet as she imagined. “C’mon, honey. Let me hear you say it.”

Hips bucking up against his, hands clutching his arms, Rose growled. “I want it, Jack. Want you.”

That was all he needed, apparently. With only a minimal amount of movement, he stripped himself of his pajama bottoms, throwing them out of the way.

When he entered her it was so slowly that it took Rose’s breath away. Or it could have been the way that he stretched her, easing open a body too long neglected. She whimpered, tensed instinctively.

“Shh, it’s okay,” Jack whispered into her hair. His voice was gravel rough. If Rose had to label what sex sounded like, this would be it. Low, rough, and still dripping from his lips like sin. He slid into her bit by bit, pressing her wide open. He wasn’t terribly long, but he made up for it in sheer width. By the time he was buried inside of her, all the way down so that his hips touched hers, the nest of curls at the base of his length brushing rough kisses against the agonizingly electric bundle of nerves between her legs, she was relaxed and ready for more.

Their eyes met, a silent question communicated and answered. Are you ready? Are you okay?

Rose nodded, pushing her hips up with a little wiggle that made Jack’s eyes drift half-shut.

She’d never seen Jack this unguarded. This raw and open. Somehow she doubted he’d ever been like this with anyone else. The witty banter and suggestive innuendo had disappeared, leaving only Jack.

Rose was pretty sure she liked this better. The double entendres were great. They just didn’t seem appropriate right now. With her eyes and body she told him that he had her heart, if he wanted it, as he started to rock gently in and out of her.

She imagined that he was responding back, just as silently, telling her that he knew what she’d given him, and that he felt the same. Whether it was a lie that she told herself or not, she didn’t know. With Jack filling her body, devouring her mouth, she decided to just not care, too.

The fingers of one hand tangled in his hair, holding his mouth to hers, as she held on with the other. Nails against his back, digging in. If he minded the pain, he didn’t say. She didn’t think he did, though. Knowing him, he was just kinky enough to get off on it. All she could hear was the rapid beat of her heart and the sounds that they were making together. Bodies slapping, skin to skin, sweat-covered chest to equally sweaty chest.

Her orgasm took her completely by surprise, startling a yell from her as suddenly she was flying. Bright light exploded behind her eyes, her body tensing and clutching at the hard shaft still buried inside of her, clenching tight around him. She whimpered and cried out his name, coming down from the rush so hard that it felt like she was falling.

Jack was right behind her, though, and she heard her name in the moaning cries that tumbled from his mouth, felt him twitch and spasm within her, filling her in a way she’d never let anyone else do before. He didn’t know that, but she did. And that made it still special as she ran a hand over his back, soothing him through the final trembles of his release.

There was a damp spot under her bottom when he pulled out, and Rose thought about getting up so go to the bathroom for a towel, but her body was too tired, filled with languidness she didn’t have a name for.

“Move over.”

Rose moved automatically, not realizing until she did what Jack had done. He laid down in the spot she’d just occupied, pulling her against him. They were still sweaty and a shower sounded good even if, again, she didn’t want to get out of bed. Jack’s arms felt so good around her.

“Rose,” Jack breathed into her hair, and she smiled, settling back, his body a natural spoon to hers.

A quick nap now… and then a shower.

END CHAPTER

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Chapter 13: Chapter Twelve

A/N: Sorry for the delay. I’m a bad author sometimes. *blush*. In my defense, I’ve been having a rough time recently with family/personal issues. Forgive me?

CHAPTER TWELVE

“Wake up, sleepyhead.”

Rose hummed a sleepy question in response to the teasing rumble that whispered over her ear. Then she scrunched her eyes together and did her best to ignore the closeness, the movements of the bed, and the voice asking her to wake up. It was too early. Or late. One or the other, she’d bet just about anything on it. Was hard to tell in the TARDIS, and she wasn’t going to give up her hold on sleep just to open her eyes and look at the clock. She lived in a time machine, right? If she wanted to sleep in a bit, then she could. It even sort of made sense.

‘Course, everything made sense when she was tired. Except for those things that didn’t.

Maybe she was already too awake to fall back asleep, if she was arguing with her own logic.

“C’mon, Rose. Up and at ‘em.”

Jack, Rose thought tiredly, a small smile playing on her lips nonetheless as she kept trying to ignore him. It was partly his fault she was so tired. He’d kept her up too late. Again.

Not that she’d minded at the time. And there it was — she’d gone from not wanting to lose her heart to being absolutely insatiable for how he made her feel. What he could do to her with just a look, a touch. Being with Jack was everything she’d never dared to let herself dream it would be. He was sweet and attentive, talented and giving. It made her a little sad to know that she’d missed out on this in her own universe, but she was past worrying herself over it. She had the here and now, and that would have to be enough because it was all that there was.

A hand landed on her bare shoulder, shaking her gently, and Rose consciously gave up on sleep and blinked open her eyes. She rolled onto her back, trying to look irritated, but knew she failed miserably when Jack just huffed a laugh. It was too hard to get upset with Jack when he was grinning at her like that. All wide and bright, like he hadn’t seen things in his life that should’ve made him want to run and hide. With a smile like that, she couldn’t help but grin right back.

Even if she was tired and he had woken her up. She just hoped it was for a good reason.

“Morni-,” she mumbled, the end of the word cut off as Jack’s lips found hers, pressing against her mouth for a kiss that stole her breath and left her gasping when he finally pulled back. Before him, no one had kissed her like that. She’d never had the kind of kisses that made her feel like she was burning alive, melting from the inside out, flying apart. He did that. Jack.
The heat in his eyes was enough to wake her up fully, completely. And when his hands slid under the blankets, warming her up even more, she wondered why she’d wanted to stay asleep to begin with. Even if he didn’t have a good reason to wake her up, she supposed this might make up for it.

An hour later she was showered and dressed, sore in places that made her blush and wriggle in her seat if she thought about them too long, and was sitting in the captain’s chair in the control room, watching as the Doctor and Jack worked on the Tardis.

It blew her mind sometimes, the way that they all had their routines as they lazed about in the void. That there were days like today set aside just for repairs — and for the Doctor to use his superior skills at jiggery-pokery to make improvements— when they could be only seconds from the next great adventure, was something she’d never gotten used to with her old Doctor, and didn’t think she’d ever quite wrap her mind around with this one, either.

And yet it was the routineness of some days that she craved the most. Lounging about in the TARDIS, listening to him talk to her about things he’d seen and done. And him listening to her, though his previous self had done it with a look of long-suffering and his second self had done it with rapt fascination, asking questions and making interruptions, going on and on about this topic and that until she couldn’t really remember what it was that had set him off, made his run on so. But she’d loved it. And when Jack had been around there’d been no night that wasn’t filled with the kind of warm glow of family and love that she’d always gotten around them.

She’d expected things to be different here.

They weren’t.

Not really, she thought as she leaned back in the chair and just watched them work, talking with each other about this and that, things that went over her head, but she was happy to keep them there. It was enough for her to be able to push a button or pull a lever from time to time; she didn’t need to know how to muck around with the inner workings of the TARDIS.

Her gaze swept over where Jack lay on the metal grate floor of the TARDIS, one leg bent at the knee, foot on the floor, the other sticking out in front of him as he worked with some wires under the console. She felt a warm flush heat her cheeks and…other places. Her tongue darted out, wetting lips gone dry, and she wished — really hard, too — that the repairs would just hurry up already. Or that Jack would get up off of the floor and quit flashing little bits of skin. Or, well, neither. Jack moved and another inch of stomach was exposed, the shirt riding up.

Yeah, ‘neither’ was sounding really good right about then.

Sleeping with Jack had changed almost nothing, really, as far as Rose could see. Nothing that mattered, anyway. He was still a flirt, still a gentleman. He still made her feel special, just maybe a little more than he had in the past. But that was saying something, because he’d always done a wonderful job of leaving her feeling like she was the most important girl in the universe. He and her old Doctor had had that in common. They’d made her feel like she was more than just a shop girl that hadn’t bothered with her A levels.

It wasn’t as if nothing had changed, though. Just…that the changes were little ones. They went back to the same room to sleep, showered together, spent time together outside of just exploring and making trouble around the universe. And if Jack looked at her a little more softly, more affectionately, than before, sometimes when he thought she wasn’t looking, then that was fine by her. She felt the same way.

The Doctor hadn’t said anything one way or the other. Not a single spoken word to confirm that he knew that she and Jack were together. It was like he was ignoring the subject entirely, aside from the too-quick half-smile he’d given her that first morning when she woke up. It was the closest he’d come to acknowledging that his companions were sleeping with each other.

She didn’t know why that made her just a little sad, though a part of her wanted — no, needed - to believe that it was just because she wanted him to be happy for her. Maybe he was. Maybe he wasn’t. But until he said something, Rose really couldn’t tell. Sure, he’d encouraged her to follow her heart, to not lock herself away and live a lonely life if she thought that Jack might be the one for her, but had he expected her to actually follow through with it? The Doctor she’d known had never said something just for the sake of saying it — but this Doctor wasn’t that Doctor. He was completely different, even while being utterly alike.

It was enough to give her a headache sometimes.

The Doctor slid out from beneath his own section of console, dusting his hands off on his pants, eyes on the controls in front of him. He didn’t spare her a glance.

But that was nothing new, right? He always got like this when he was fixated on tinkering with the Tardis. It wasn’t like he was deliberately ignoring her.

Oh, hell. Something had changed.

Rose winced at the realization, even as her cheeks flushed a pink that she was happy Jack was still too occupied to notice.

She wanted the Doctor, just like she wanted Jack. So much for not making the same mistakes she had in the past, hmm? So much for being happy — very, very happy — with what she had? No, she had to go and fall for the Doctor, too. And the fact that he didn’t seem to mind her being with Jack was driving her up a wall.

Why was her life so bloody complicated?

It was almost enough to make her miss those days when she’d been just Rose Tyler — shop worker, girlfriend of Mickey Smith, nothing more, nothing less. At least then it had been easy. Hardest thing to do was decide what pub they were going to on their nights out.

She was ecstatic to be with Jack, but something was missing. The same thing that was always missing. Here and now or there and then, she’d never had the Doctor the way that she wanted him.

Rose sighed softly. Not soft enough. The Doctor turned his head and Rose was quick to look away, staring down at her nails like she was contemplating the lack of polish or whether or not she needed a trim. She definitely didn’t look up at him, because he would see it in her face. He’d know.

And there was no point in him knowing. Maybe then he would want to take her home, and then where would she be? She’d lose him and Jack, all in one swoop.

Not going to happen. Maybe she’d wanted off the Tardis a week ago, but not now.

Never again, she hoped. Vain longing, that, knowing what she knew about the Doctor. He didn’t keep his companions around forever. One day she’d be getting off the Tardis for good.

She just didn’t want it to be anytime soon.

“Bored, Rose?”

Jerking her head around fast enough to make her neck wince in displeasure, Rose latched onto the excuse like a lifeline. “A little, yeah.”

The Doctor’s grin was lightning quick and manic. “No worries. Hour, maybe two, and then I’ve got just the place.”

From under the console came Jack’s snort. Part amusement, part mockery. “What’s it going to be this time. Revolution? Military coup? Some intrigue that will have us running for our lives less than an hour after we walk out the door?”

The look on the Doctor’s face said it all.

Why not all three?

END CHAPTER


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