Seed Pearls

by HonorH [Reviews - 232]

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  • Teen
  • Explicit Sex
  • Action/Adventure, Het

Author's Notes:
In Which Our Heroine And Hero Make A Significant Decision

“Of course he’s real! What kind of stupid question is that? He’s got flesh, blood, bone, brains, a soul, tonsils, sweat glands, the works. In other words, he is quite properly a genuine, born-of-a-woman, grade-A human being. You can even trace his ancestry. Or, better yet, take a TARDIS back a hundred years and meet his great-grandfather. Peculiar chap. Dressed badly.

“The point, my dears, is that when Time does something, it’s done. Rose Tyler and I, in my ninth incarnation, wanted a way to be together. It’s something that couldn’t happen in her home universe. But, buuut, butbutbutbutbutbutbut--a counterpart of that incarnation in another universe could have a life with Rose. Couldn’t be a Time Lord, of course; we were bound to a single universe. He had to be human. Works out better all around that way anyway.

“Therefore, we have Doctor John Smith. Not a mere construct, he. When Time decided to create him, it did so properly, with a family line that has always been there. Well, at least since the rise of human life on that Earth. Nonetheless, he is my counterpart, as much as I am my ninth incarnation. Which I both am and am not.

“Do keep this in mind. It’s very important.”


***

Rose was dead.

She had to be. There was no other explanation for what she was seeing.

“Dad?” she whispered.

Pete Tyler leaned over his daughter’s hospital bed. “I’m here, Rosie.”

She tried to reach out to him, but her arms wouldn’t work. Pete’s hand closed around hers, and her vision blurred with tears. “Dad,” she gasped again. “You’re here.”

“We’re both here, sweetheart,” said her mother’s voice, and then Jackie’s face appeared in her vision.

“Did you die, too?” asked Rose, her voice still barely above a whisper.

“ ‘Course not!” Jackie looked at Pete. “How hard did she hit her head?”

Pete reached down and cupped Rose’s cheek with his hand, and his skin felt warm. “Easy, love. The doctor says you’ll be fine. You just need to rest.”

“The Doctor? Where is he?” Rose tried to sit up, to look around, but her head felt like a lead weight. “Does he know you’re here, Dad? Is he angry at me? Tell him I’m sorry.” She started to cry. “I didn’t mean to mess things up so bad. I just wanted to save you. Couldn’t watch you die again.”

“Sweetheart, you’re dreaming,” said Jackie, brushing Rose’s hair off her face. “We’re all fine. You got hurt, but you’ll be fine, too.”

Pete brushed the tears from Rose’s face with his hand. She turned her head, seeking contact, and tightened her hand on his. It didn’t matter if he was dead; she wouldn’t let him go. “Don’t go,” she whimpered.

“I won’t,” Pete promised. “I’ll be right here when you wake up, Rosie. Just rest now.”

Clinging to her father’s hand, Rose drifted back into sleep.

***

Rose would never remember that waking. When she did awaken completely, it was, unsurprisingly, to the sound of her mother’s voice.

“. . . still can’t believe you would let her walk into a death trap like that. What were you thinking? Your only daughter. Were you even thinking? She could’ve been blown to bits, nearly was!” Jackie’s voice was getting more and more shrill.

“It wasn’t a death trap, Jacks,” said Pete’s exhausted voice. “It was a recon mission. They didn’t expect it to be dangerous. Besides, I’ve never known you to be able to stop Rose when she had her mind set on something.”

“Hullo?” mumbled Rose.

Jackie gave a little scream. “Rose, sweetheart, are you awake? Really awake, this time? Can you hear me?”

“Yes.” Rose managed to force her eyes open. Her mother’s face came into somewhat fuzzy focus. “Wha’ happened?”

“There was an explosion,” said Pete’s voice as his face came into view. “You’ll be all right. The Doctor says you’ve got a concussion and some cracked ribs. It--it could have been a lot worse.”

Rose blinked, her mind slowly coming to rest on her father’s last statement. “Who--did anyone die?”

Pete’s mouth hardened into a thin line. “Sean,” he said. “Derek. Alyssa. Derek was standing right in front of you when the blast went off. If he hadn’t been--” Pete couldn’t finish his statement.

“God,” gasped Rose. Tears stung her eyes.

“It’s all right, sweetheart,” Jackie soothed her, stroking her hair. “Shh.” She leaned down and kissed Rose’s forehead, and Rose slipped back into unconsciousness.

***

Rose slowly began recovering over the next few days. Her father had named only her worst injuries, the concussion and the cracked ribs. The explosion had also left Rose with bruises over her entire body and taken a good deal of skin off her right arm. She was stiff and sore literally everywhere.

She also knew she hadn’t gotten the worst of it. Two days after she awoke, she learned that Doctor Ross had passed away from her own injuries. Mickey, fortunately, had been behind a concrete barrier of some sort and wasn’t injured at all. In all, about three-quarters of the team--twelve people--had been killed or injured in the explosion. Those who’d survived were mostly in hospital with Rose, save for a very lucky few. Her parents, her housemates and her friends trickled through during visiting hours.

John didn’t, even though she was at Albion Hospital. Rose watched her door anxiously every hour, but he never appeared.

“Turnabout’s fair play,” announced Mickey as he strode into her room, bag in hand.

“Guess so,” said Rose. “Bring me goodies?”

Mickey grinned at her, lifting an eyebrow, and produced a suspiciously good-smelling Styrofoam package. “Contraband.”

“Chips!” squealed Rose. “Give ‘em over!” She held out her hands as far as she could without it being (really) painful. Mickey set the package and a plastic fork in Rose’s lap, and she immediately dug in. “Mmm, heavenly!” she moaned around a mouthful. “Hospital food will kill you.”

“Been there a time or two myself,” said Mickey. That was understating matters. Mickey and Jake were locked in a tight contest for “most hospitalizations.”

Rose swallowed. “So what happened? I don’t remember an awful lot.”

“Way I heard it, you found some scraps of metal. Sean found this metal ball thing nearby, and . . .” Mickey made a gesture that said “Boom!” and shook his head. “There wasn’t nothin’ left of him, hardly. If Derek hadn’t been in front of you--I don’t like to think about it.”

“Neither do I,” Rose said very softly. “Do they know what it was? The metal ball, I mean.”

“Not exactly much left of that, either. Doc Foster’s analyzing the explosive residue. He was talking a million miles an hour about some scientific claptrap last time I saw him.”

“That’s Foster for you,” said Rose. She shook her head, toying with a chip. “I can’t believe Liz is . . . and Sean was my age. Little younger, actually.”

“There’s a memorial planned for next week,” said Mickey. “Hopefully, they’ll spring you from this place by then.”

“Yeah, I hope,” said Rose.

“Hey, guess what?” said Mickey, obviously trying to lighten the mood. “Some cheesy blond bloke tried to get in to see you, claiming he was your boyfriend. Your dad had security remove him.”

“Probably some reporter trying to get a scoop,” said Rose, rolling her eyes. Unfortunately, Mickey’s words only served to remind her of the one person she most wanted to see, but hadn’t. Unconsciously, she glanced at the door again.

“Still hasn’t come by?” asked Mickey. Rose looked at him, startled. “Advice: never complain to Darcie about anything you don’t want everyone else to hear.”

Rose forced a shrug. “He must be busy. Might’ve come by when I was asleep.”

“Must be,” said Mickey, not sounding remotely convinced. “Look, you enjoy those chips. I’ve got to get back to Torchwood, but I’ll drop by again tomorrow.” He kissed her forehead and stood up.

“Thanks for coming by. And for the chips,” said Rose. He left, and Rose lay back, trying not to think about how much she wanted John to be there.

***

When she awoke next, he was. John sat by her bedside, looking down at her with an inscrutable expression.

“Hi,” said Rose.

“Hi,” he said.

She reached out one hand, and he took it. “I’m glad you’re here.”

“Can’t say the same about you.” John’s face and voice were closed, revealing nothing.

Rose looked at him, worried. “I’m going to be fine, John. It’s all right.”

“No, it’s not.” John dropped her hand and stood, pacing to look out the window. “I saw them bring you in, Rose. On a stretcher, surrounded by paramedics, oxygen mask over your face, soaked in blood--!” He cut himself off abruptly. “I thought I’d lost you.”

“You didn’t,” said Rose, shaken to see how deeply affected he was.

“But I could’ve,” he shot back. “I’ve done that once, Rose, lost the woman I love. It nearly destroyed me. I can’t do it again.”

Rose shook her head, little tendrils of fear working through her. “It wasn’t supposed to be dangerous. Just a freak accident.”

John made a dismissive noise. “Seems to me you lot are in the business of freak accidents.”

“Well, what do you want me to do? Quit Torchwood?” Rose demanded. “I can’t. I’ve seen what’s out there, John, and I can’t just turn my back and walk away.”

“No, you could,” said John. “You just won’t.”

Rose couldn’t even look at him as tears sprang to her eyes. So this is how it ends, she thought. The best thing that’s ever happened to me, and this is how it ends.

John sighed and sat back down. “I ran into your friend Mickey. Or rather, he ran me down. We had words. ‘Stupid' and 'git’ were among the kindest.” Rose had to smile, in spite of herself. Those two had been butting heads since the first time they met. “He told me, in essence, that I either accept you for what you are, or I should just let you go.”

“So . . . what’re you going to do?” Rose forced the words out, heartsick.

“I don’t have a choice,” said John. He touched her face with his fingertips, turning it toward him so she could see the love in his eyes. “I haven’t since I met you, Rose Tyler.”

“You’re not breaking up with me?” The words were barely audible. She hoped she hadn’t misunderstood.

John looked appalled at the idea. “Of course not. What kind of fool would I be then?”

Rose closed her eyes, and tears streamed down her cheeks. “I-I was so afraid . . .”

“Shh.” John’s hand moved around to the back of her head, and he kissed her gently. “I love you, Rose. I said I couldn’t bear to lose the woman I love again. I’m not going to throw her away.”

“I love you, too, John,” Rose whispered. She took face in her hands and kissed him soundly, deeply.

The words had been spoken. It felt inevitable.

Finally, they were forced to come up for air. John stroked Rose’s hair off her face, smiling into her eyes. “I’m sorry I didn’t come to visit you before.”

“I understand,” said Rose. She couldn’t imagine how horrible it must have been for him to have seen her as she was when she first came in, unconscious and covered in Derek’s blood.

John was silent for a few moments. Rose was familiar with his silences by now, and this was one of his “I’m trying not to talk myself out of something” silences.

Finally, he spoke. “I’m going to another medical conference in about a month. It’ll be a week-long one in Geneva. After that, I was thinking of taking a holiday. My mother’s family keeps a villa on Lake Como in Italy. It’s beautiful.” He looked intently at Rose. “Come with me.”

Delight surged through her. “To Como?”

“To Geneva, then Como,” clarified John. “If you want, of course. All I can think is that the whole thing will be much less of a drag if I know you’ll be waiting for me at the end of the day. If it interests you, of course. You could play tourist while I’m being tortured by experts. Unless you’d just like to meet me in Como--”

“No! Geneva sounds wonderful,” said Rose hastily. Waiting an extra week, when she could be with him? It was unthinkable. “I should be healed up by then, yeah?”

“Yes. That’s very important, that you’re completely well.” The words were casual enough, but something in John’s voice and his eyes made thrills run down her spine.

They talked for a while then, lovers’ talk that meant nothing and everything, until John had to leave for the night. Rose settled happily back into her pillow, feeling no pain for a reason that had nothing to do with drugs. She sighed blissfully and closed her eyes.

Her room’s door clicked open again. She opened her eyes, thinking John might have returned. Instead, an older woman with wild hair and eyes was staring at her.

“Who’re you?” Rose asked.

“Don’t think I don’t know who you are,” hissed the old woman. “I see you. You don’t belong. Pasted in from another world--you’re the Bad Wolf, that’s what you are!” Her voice rose to a shout. “Bad Wolf! Bad Wolf!”

The sound of running feet announced the arrival of two orderlies. “Now, come on, Mrs. Crowe,” said the taller of the two. “You know you’re not supposed to be wandering.”

“She’s the Bad Wolf!” cried Mrs. Crowe. “You don’t see! You never see! Bad Wolf!”

“Sorry about this, Miss Tyler,” said the other orderly. “Don’t pay her no mind. Crazy old thing, she is. Come on, Mrs. Crowe.”

They hustled her away, but Rose could hear her shouts of “Bad Wolf” all the way down the hallway. And she started to shiver.