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Space Oddity

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Chapter 1

If someone had said to Martha that seeing Brighton one day would have thrilled her, she would never have believed it. But, after nearly a year of avoiding the Master's agents and talking about the Doctor, she was overjoyed to see the shores of England again. Because it meant that she was finally near the end of this nightmare. The horror she witnessed during this past year made her more than ready to end all this and go back to her life. She really loved the Doctor for all of the adventures that he took her on, and the sights that she never thought she'd get to see, but this year only proven to her that her first love would always be her desire to be a proper doctor.

"We're almost there. We need to be very quiet. The Master has a lot of agents snooping around here, and it's worse as we approach London. Are you sure you want to go there?" her visibly nervous escort asked while looking over his shoulder. The young man had been under order by the head of the local UNIT contingent to escort her from France to Brighton. He had been uneasy the whole trip, and would only be calm once he reached the safety of his base.

Martha sighed while looking around the desert town. "If we're going to stop the Master and all this madness, the I need to go to London." She looked at him. "You know, you weren't commanded to escort me this far. You could have given me the boat and told me where to go. Or you could have let me go alone into the city. I would have understood." That wasn't a lie. His family was a country away, and until three days ago he didn't even know her at all. Aside from her stories, she was a nobody to him.

Bolero was the name he wanted to be known as, and she didn't feel as if she knew him enough to ask for his real name. He smiled. "Someone brave enough to travel the world unarmed by herself? Was just something I needed to see for myself. Beside if I let you go alone, she'd probably kill me." He snorted while kicking at a pebble.

Martha was intrigued. "Who?"

"Me," a voice called from behind them.

Martha and Bolero spun around with Bolero raising his weapon just in case.

"At ease, soldier," the person commanded with a hint of amusement in their voice. "You can holster your weapon. Sorry to have surprised you."

Martha eyed the young woman before them. She appeared to be roughly two or three years older than her. She seemed friendly enough, with a nice smile and dark blond hair. However the habit of staying on guard when meeting a new person, regardless of if they held any sort of power or not, caused her to remain rigid and alert. "Who are you? Where did you come from?"

The woman's smile morphed into a smirk. "I was waiting for you, Martha Jones. Please feel free to call me Wolf if you want. Everyone else does." She turned to Bolero. "Good job, Captain, I will take it from here. Do you want to come with us or do you prefer to go back?"

"Thank you, Colonel. If it's alright with you, I would prefer to leave now. If I speed a little I should be back before the morning," Bolero answered after a perfect salute.

Wolf shook her head, as if she was expecting this answer. "As you wish. Have a safe return and give my respect to Ahmed will you?"

"Yes 'Ma'am" He turned to Martha and held out his hand." It was a pleasure to be your escort. Best of luck to you in your mission."

She shook his hand and smiled. "It was really nice knowing you. Be safe." Then in a surge of gratitude she hugged him. "I really hope one day you will tell me why you named yourself Bolero."

"If you survive this, I will tell you my whole life story if you want."

She released him with a small laugh. "That a promise."

"Sorry to interrupt but we have to go, it's not really safe here," Wolf reminded them with a cautious glance around her.

With a last smile and waves, the small group separated. But two seconds later Bolero turned around and shouted, "Hey Martha?"

The two woman halted and Martha raised an eyebrow

"My name is Thomas. Thomas Berger." And with a last smile he ran away, as Martha enjoyed the first real laugh she's had in a month.

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They were walking in silence after seeing Bolero off. Wolf was walking without even looking everywhere except straight ahead. A sight that Martha was not accustomed; whereas she had gotten used to sleeping with 'one eye open' and always keeping to the shadows. All out of fear of being discovered by someone working for the Master or a roaming Toclafane. She still had her key but for even that wasn't comforting enough. Not with everything she witnessed. During the first few months after the Doctor sent her on this mission, she had constant nightmares of what would happen to her if they found her. And now, with her mission almost over, that fear was back almost in full force.

"So why Wolf?" Martha inquired in an attempt to break the uncomfortable silence.

She shrugged her shoulder. "That's sorta my name. But to be fair, I was more known as Bad Wolf in the very beginning." When Martha looked at her funny, she continued, "not that I'm a fan of the story or anything. It's just..." She looked into the distance with a sad face. "At first it was a joke. To remind me of something really important for me, even if that had gone to hell. But that was taken a little too seriously. So since that day it's also my code name. But it was a little too fairytale for some, so it's just Wolf. And with what's happening now, I think it's not a bad sign." She smiled at Martha. "But if you don't like it, you can still call me Colonel."

"You seem to be quite young to be colonel." Martha noted. "You're what… 25 maybe 27 at the most?"

Wolf smiled widely, her eyes taking a golden reflection with the sun. "Don't judge a book by its cover. I look younger than I am"

That surprised Martha. "Oh really? By how much?"

"Let's just say that I moisturize." Wolf snickered as if she had a private joke with herself, confusing Martha at the same time.

Martha opened her mouth to ask about the context, however Wolf suddenly announced, "Here we are." They walked through a maze of abandoned buildings, before finally entering one of the warehouses. "We'll stay here for a day. Two at most. Just some time to find a safer way to get into London?"

Martha nodded her head, temporarily distracted by the number of people in the warehouse. She hasn't seen this many people, at least a hundred by her count, in one place since Russia three months ago.

"Like you can see, we are a rather large crowd. In the scheme of things, it's really not safe, but I don't have the heart to separate anyone..." She sighs. "At least we can try to defend the maximum of people here. We do have the advantage of strength in numbers incase we get unwelcome guests."

"So you have plenty of people. Why am I here? Do you need me for medical assistance?"

"No, no we are good on that." Wolf motioned towards the little group of men and woman in brown jackets. "That's our medical support. They are the survivor of the local UNIT medical branch. Thank you though for the offer, and if we need anything we will not hesitate to ask." She then led Martha towards the back of the room.

"You were an UNIT officer before all this Master craziness?" The picture was seemingly getting clearer, yet fuzzier for Martha which each passing second. This woman was an all out mystery, and an inquisitive habit formed by her travels with the Doctor pushed her to learn more.

Wolf showed her something which could pass as a chair while taking a seat herself. "Yeah, technically I was. Well, I'm more the one sent in when everything is going pear shaped. They'll send me and a few other people wherever we're needed no matter the location. Almost like an expert in alien life if you want to see it like that. Well… not an expert like the Doctor, but we are trying to do our best. And I must insist that I'm more of a science person than a soldier." She shrugged. "Not really a fan of gun, me. But we can't afford to be too much peaceful these days." She looked at the other people in the place, some of them clearly way too young to have a gun in arms. Martha wanted clearly to ask more questions, including how she knew of the Doctor, but she was interrupted by a soldier who was frantically running towards them.

"Colonel, we have a situation!" He began. Martha made a move to let him take her seat, but he dismissed her with a gest of his hand. "The alpha team is under fire. They had an encounter with a dozen of the Master's soldiers and three Toclafane are said to be on their way. If we don't do something now, they are lost!"

"Rashtek!" Wolf shouted, at the surprise of Martha, who hadn't heard this particular insult since her travel in the market of Cashel. "Alright, tell team beta and omega to gear up and move out, we're going now!" She gave Martha an apologetic smile. "Sorry, I need to go." She looked around, visibly searching someone. "Appolo!"

A boy no more than sixteen answered as he jogged over. "I need you to take care of Martha until I come back," Wolf said quickly before taking off to finish preparations with her teams.

The young man smiled at her timidly. "So you are Martha?"

She smiled. "Yes. Martha Jones. And you?"

"I'm Apollo." He then added, "Wolf named me after she found me in a basement with my guitar."

"Nice. So everyone has a nickname here?"

"Yeah. With the Master so close, it's better that way. We are not supposed to say our real name to anyone. Wolf says that name have meaning and power. We have to hold them close."

Time passed, and the more she and Apollo talked, the more she was intrigued by Wolf. "So she's the person in charge here?"

"Oh yes! You can't find better person here!" Say Apollo with pride. "She the one who has kept us safe. Taught us things to help keep us alive."

Martha was still curious. "And you know her well?"

Apollo shook his head. "No. But then again, nobody really knows her. Some of the soldiers say they've heard this story, or that story but they never have proof. Even one that claims her to be this legendary figure. But I don't know that much, they don't really talk to me. I'm just a kid for them..." He was somber for a few seconds, like he was remembering something before suddenly smiling brightly. "But she's really nice, and sometimes she's funny, I think you'll like her alot!. She saved my life! She also protects all of us." He was quiet, looking into the distance with a look who broke Martha heart. So many lives destroyed by the Master. It was really not fair. He looked around briefly before asking the burning question on his mind. "So is it true? Wolf said that you are the one with the stories, and that you were tasked with the mission to go around telling them. Did you really travel into the stars?"

She smiled at the his hopeful expression. She could tell that he'd remember everything she was about to tell him as he spread the tale. "Yes, I am. Would you like to hear one of them now?"

When he nodded enthusiastically, Martha took a deep breath and began the story.

Chapter Text

Chapter 2

 

Wolf and her men didn't come back until well into the night. Almost everyone was asleep, happy and joyful after having listening to Martha for hours. They were eager to know everything about her and the Doctor. However, the opposite applied to Martha, as the excitement and the joy of telling her story made her more wired than anything.

"Still not asleep I see," Wolf offered as she joined Martha by the fire. "What’s keeping you awake?"

"Just the adrenaline.” Martha gave a tiny shrug. “I normally don’t sleep right away when I'm talking about why I'm here. Your mission was successful?"

Wolf sighed and sadly shook her head. "We lost two men..."

"I'm sorry." Martha turned her full attention towards Wolf, ready to be a sympathetic ear if needed.

After a moment of silence the blond woman turned her head toward Apollo, who was sleeping close to Martha. "Did he take good care of you?"

"Oh yes," Martha said with a smile. "He was very nice, and a very good listener." She looked at the kids and older one scattered all around the fire. "They all were."

"You know you give them hope. It's a good thing to have."

They stayed in silence during a long moment, staring at the fire. After a few minutes Martha considered asking more questions to know this Wolf person a little better, when the other woman began to talk again.

"Can I ask you a question?" she said, almost shyly.

"Yes. Of course." Martha nodded.

"How he is? I mean the Doctor...How he is when he is with you?"

"What do you mean?" Martha asked, giving Wolf a curious look. And for the first time, the woman seemed lost.

"Is he happy? I mean before the Master, he was happy?" Wolf diverted her gaze towards one of the groups of slumbering children. Martha recognized Wolf’s intent almost immediately; trying to subtly gather information on a particular subject.

Martha tooks a few seconds to consider her response. Is the Doctor happy? Outside of current circumstances… Yes, he appeared happy most of the time. But, there times where she could see just how deeply sad and wounded he was deep down. She knew what a person in mourning looked like, and it was obvious that it was for his planet and probably of Rose as well.

But right now people needed a hero. Someone who was still capable to make you want to fight. Especially after having lost people, like the colonel did today. And like she said earlier that evening: hope was a good thing. "Yes, I think he was. Before everything happened with the Master, He smiled a lot and he couldn’t seem to stay still." A smile was on Martha’s face now as she recalled her adventures. "He hates it when I sleep, said it's a waste of time. If I was crazy enough to take his advice, I will only sleep every four days. Sometimes he reminds me of a giant baby." She chuckled. "You know what the funniest thing about him is? He’ll talk to his ship a lot! Like all the time! Sometimes I'm almost waiting for his ship to respond."

Wolf was smiling with what Martha could swear was longing. She was also moving her head, like she was pondering something. "Great! That's great. I'm happy he’s not alone. Having someone is the most important thing in the world. Especially someone like him."

"What do you mean?" Martha was intrigued by her choice of words.

She waved her hand in dismissal. "I work for UNIT, I know his story. It's been years since we even heard of any Time Lord beside him or the Master. Saving the world, traveling in the entire Universe and being a hero. It can be hard on you, and you need to have someone to keep you in check and hold your hand. If you don't, you start to forget why you are doing this."

"You seem to know a lot about saving the world and all..."

"I have my fair share of adventures. The perk of being employed by UNIT for years. So yes I saved the world once or twice." Wolf stated proudly, looking directly into Martha eyes. The stare of the soldier was full of sorrow and pain, reminding Martha too much of the Doctor. Maybe that's why she looked so sad. Losing everything could do that to a person.

"For what you've lost I'm sorry," Martha offered, surprising herself by taking Wolf’s hand in hers. This year had been very hard on everyone. But those who were still trying to resist, who were still fighting, were generally those with nothing to lose. And she had a feeling that the colonel was one of those people.

Wolf was clearly startled by the gesture. "Oh! Well, uhm, thank you." She frowned, not looking at her and slightly uncomfortable at the contact. "I have to check on the perimeter. Good night, Martha." In a flash she was gone, walking with long strides towards the other end of the warehouse.

Martha sighed while rubbing at her eyes, feeling exhausted all of a sudden. She hoped that she hadn’t inadvertently set back progress between her and Wolf. She liked her and still wanted to talk to her more. It had been a long time since she had any sort of connection like that with someone, regardless of how big or small the interaction was. With a last look, she stood up and took one of the blankets. A good night of sleep, that's what she needed.

Tomorrow was another day.

Chapter Text

Chapter 3

The next day Martha was suddenly woken by a very enthusiastic Apollo who was smiling ear to ear. "We found a secure way for you to go to London! I heard Wolf mentioning it to Gandalf a few minutes ago! Isn’t that awesome?"

Martha grumpily rubbed at her eyes as she yawned. Too much information before coffee. "What? First who is Gandalf? And secondly, what are you talking about?"

He pointed out the gruffy looking man with a small beard and a perpetual frown on his face. She recognized him from last night, he was one who came back with Wolf. "I'm talking about the fact that Wolf found a way to let you go without any agent of the Master tracking you. I don't know the details, because I didn't hear it all but the conversation seemed very serious. But I know if she said she can do it, then she’ll get it done."

"Let Martha breath, will you? Go to see the nurse, she needs help with the younger one," Wolf gently admonished Apollo as she approached, and handed Martha a cup of something that could pass as coffee, if you were not too picky, in her hand. Martha gave her host a thankful smile and drank it after blowing on the liquid. Anyone else would have raised an eyebrow at it. But eating and drinking ‘strange’ things on her travels with the Doctor, combined with her body growing accustomed to drawing every ounce of caffeine from all beverages made a difference.

Once Apollo disappeared, with a long sigh and a visible pout, Wolf started to laugh. She took a seat next to the other woman and smiled.

"Sorry I think he may have a tiny crush," Martha groaned, now a little more awake.

Wolf shrugged. "You made quite an impression on him. But as he just mentioned, we found a way to let you go to London in the most secure way possible. One of my men heard that a doctor from the next town over is trying to go back to London, just like you are. He is expected to start out tomorrow, so I'm going to have him escort you until it’s time for you to part ways, and during that time me and my men are going to make a diversion. It will let you guys get at least two hours into your journey without any trouble. We will try our best, but I don't know if we can do better."

Martha frowned. "Wait, I don't want you to sacrifice yourself. I need people like you in this world. I can't let you die just to have a couple of hours!"

Wolf smiled fondly. "Oh Martha Jones! You are worth ten of me. You're saving the Doctor and the world. I would gladly die a few times over for that. Believe me." She looked suddenly way older. "Just...In case I don't came back, tell… No that would be pointless." But before the other woman had time to say something, she was already up. "I need to coordinate my men. See you later." She quickly waved and then she was gone.

Marth tried to stop her, but without success. And despise her effort to seek her out later, she only saw her once that day. Wolf was talking to the one named Gandalf when suddenly she clutched her head into her hands. Before Martha had time to move, Wolf had disappeared outside. She tried to track her down but nobody let her follow her. Even after a lot of fuss.

It's with frustration she approached Apollo and the other kids after that. They kept her busy, and she gladly helped the elders who were trying to do as much as possible with almost nothing. They might have been former UNIT doctors and nurses, but without supplies and possibilities to go out, they seemed to make do. But Martha was nothing but stubborn, with plenty of hope too. The fact that she knew the end of this hell was near helped a lot. So, she worked for hours, almost forgetting Wolf and her disappearance.

It was during dinner that thing started to change. A little boy, who was not much older than six, asked her timidly if she had other stories in hand. She remembered him from last night, he was the one who squealed loudly when she started telling her story about Shakespeare. And when she lifted her head, she saw a lot of people who were visibly eager to hear more stories. But they were also something more. Something who looked a lot like hope.

It was during her third story; the one when the Doctor had slipped and fall into the Sacred river of TellSom, and they had to run to the TARDIS because they suddenly had furious natives on their heels that she noticed Wolf. She was in the back of the crowd, but she was visibly listening. And she was smiling, seemingly normal again. Not the smile full of sadness, and longing that she occasionally sported since they came into this warehouse. No, this was a genuine one. And when she started to tell how the Doctor had to give his trousers to the locals to appease them, she saw her laughing. A laugh that exuded real joy and better times. And in that instant she was not a soldier or a mystery, just an everyday person. Who visibly had way too much fun at the expense of the Doctor. Like she knew what Martha had to endure. So, Martha laughed too, happy to have a good laugh in these dark times.

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"Ok so in less than one hour, you and Dickens are going to go this way" Wolf pointed to the path on the map. "At the same time, Gandalf’s group are going to wreck havoc into the village, letting the Master think they are going to search for supplies. Me and my group are going in the opposite direction and attack one of the factories. In forty five minutes, Simba and his two mates are going to create a third diversion in another warehouse, letting them believe it was for that all along. And the civilians… Well, they know what they have to do when the time is right. Clear?" For the first time since the beginning of the speech, Wolf looked Martha in the eyes.

Martha wanted to say no, she wanted to fight Wolf and her apparent death wish. Maybe it was for the greater good: the end of the Master. But that were too many good man and women who could possibly die, because she told them that maybe hope was on the way. And Wolf was someone she needed in this new World if she failed to do exactly what the Doctor asked her to do in order to fix what the Master did.

Even if the Master died, the Earth would still be in shambles. But she saw the fierce determination in Wolf’s eyes and the craving to do what is good. Too much like the Doctor now that Martha thought about it. So she said nothing, only nodding in agreement when necessary. Because today she was like her best friend, and if she had to choose between these people and the world, the world would win. Especially when she wanted to choose these people. But Wolf and her men would never let her choose anything but the greater good.

What she would give to go back in time when things were easier. Yes, she knew the irony of that statement. She gave a sigh while giving a last look at Wolf, who was now busy giving instruction to everyone. Sometimes doing the right thing sucked.

Saying goodbye was always hard, and today was no exception. She knew she had to leave them, she had a specific mission to do, and people to see. But it was not something simple, saying goodbye with no way to know if they are going to survive another day. It had been really hard for Apollo, who revealed to her that his real name was Jamie. She promised him that she’d do everything in her power to come back one day, as long as he promised her that he was going to survive. Tears and hugs were exchanged, and he was not the only one to be missing her already. People young and old had woken early to be able to say goodbye, while passing on their thanks for her stories. Martha had felt relief in their solid belief, and it was with a big smile on her face, and a melancholy in her heart, that she followed Wolf and her men outside the camp.

Wolf passed her the map and a bag full of things. "Are you ready to go?"

"Yes I think so," Martha lied, she was not ready to go deep down. She was weary of all this.

Wolf had a small smile. "Ok good. Did UNIT did tell you about the son of the professor?"

"Oh yes! They’ve had this information for almost a month. It is still the case?" Martha asked.

"Don't worry, if this information was no longer relevant I would had found out. Don't be worried" She smiled at Martha. "I gave you a copy of the CD UNIT was supposed to give you. I was not certain if they had it."

She took out of her pocket the CD she carried since Munich and show it to Wolf. "Yes. Don't worry. I know what I'm doing."

Wolf smirked at that. "Oh, I'm certain of that, don't worry. I think that nobody is better suited than you."

"Sometimes I feel like you know more than you let me think. It's aggravating. And frankly it reminds me of the Doctor. You should be proud."

The smile dropped a little. "It’s time for you to get going. The Doctor you will meet is named Tom Mulligan. We’ve already informed him that you are coming. If you have any problem on arrival, tell him that the pack sent you. In case he's already gone or any other problem, go to the village and tell them that Wolf said you needed a transport, and that you are the storyteller."

"So this is goodbye?" Martha tried hard to hide the sadness in her tone.

Wolf had a big smile. "I like you, Martha Jones, I really hope it's not the last time I see you! It's more of a see you later, ok?"

"Ok. I promise when all this is over, I will come back." Martha promised with a smile.

"I would love that. Really." Wolf replied also with a smile.

"I’ll hold you to that. Now you have to survive." Martha laid her hand on Wolf’s shoulder. "Don't forget, think of the Doctor and have faith."

Wolf looked into the sky - her face somber. "That's two things I will never forget to do. Believe me." She looked into Martha eyes again. "And you, Martha Jones… Don't forget that you are a star. One in a million. Promise me you will never stop being wonderful."

Martha laughed. "If you can promise me the same!"

Wolf shared her joy for a few moment before going somber again. "For the first time in my life I can say that I don't know what will happen next. But one thing is certain, I'm going to send you to London and you are going to save the Doctor and the world. Ok?"

"I promise." Martha glanced at the group of soldier with a frown. "Wait...Why did don't you have a big gun like the rest of the group?"

Wolf smiled enigmatically. "A magician never reveal their secrets. But what I can say is that I have a few things in my sleeve. And I'm not the only one displeased with what the Master has done. Goodbye Martha. See you!" She hugged Martha suddenly, causing her to gasp in shock. But before she had time to hug back, Wolf was already moving away. "Alright, let’s set off some fireworks, boys!" She smiled again in direction of Martha, a fierce look into her eyes. "Let's cause a diversion they will never forget!" With a last wave she disappeared into the labyrinth of warehouse, followed by all the soldiers except the one was supposed to lead her into the right direction,before causing a distraction himself.

"Time to move, Doctor Jones," said the young boy, looking with nervously behind him. "All hell will break loose in a few minutes, so we need to be long gone."

"She’s that good?" Martha laughed lightly, still looking towards the direction where the group had headed.

"No. She is better."

Martha had more questions, but the man had already moved away, leading her towards the end of her adventure. But she would never forget the enigmatic Wolf and all the questions she wanted to ask her. When the Doctor was saved, and the Master put into the ground once and for all, Martha vowed to return for all of them.

But Martha never had the chance to search for Wolf or the others except for a few of them. Between the year that never was, and all that happened after she had other things in mind.

Maybe one day.

Chapter Text

Chapter 4:

 

The reign of terror of the Master disappeared from memory, making him a passing dream in some minds, becoming ‘the year that never was’ for the few in confidence. Martha returned to her studies and family, never forgetting those who helped her during the darkest moment of that forgotten history. 

In fact… Everyone continued their life, never knowing how they fought for their life and freedom in the name of the Doctor. 

Rose smiled proudly the day she heard that Martha had been recruited by UNIT.  Every person who had become a companion of the Doctor had the potential to achieve greatness; it’s usually what draws him towards someone as a potential companion. And Martha was no exception to that rule. However, Rose didn’t knew it was her own actions, and the bravery of so many UNIT men and women, that was a major factor in Martha’s inspiration to join this institution.

Sometimes, Rose would sit and think about how she would enjoy to talk to Martha about her time on the Tardis. To know how the Doctor has been doing, to hear about his latest adventures. But those ideas do not last long, just enough to yearn about that life again, before running head first again into action.

Little did she knew that day would come way sooner than later…

 

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Rose was an happy camper for once. She had asked to be assigned to the Valiant for a few weeks, yearning for a change of scenery and to discuss science with people who weren’t going to roll their eyes after a few moments. She really needed the break after a string of missions which became harder and harder, and what better than the only place in UNIT who was filled to the brim of scientific and people eager to share everything they knew? Even the science department of London UNIT was less enthusiastic than them (and they have Dr. Malcolm Taylor).

“We’re working on improve our engines. We recovered a few spaceships in the last ten years, and if we can understand and reverse engineering some of them, maybe in a few years we are going to be able to travel into the stars!” One of the engineers named Liam Scott had enthused as soon as he saw Rose.  She had been seized as soon as she had set foot in the engine room. Everyone who knew her, or about her, knew how she loved to talk or listen about science with anyone.

Rose smiled. “So the problem at hand is understanding what we have right in front of us. And if I read the department memos from last year correctly, we are still stalled somehow.”

The look of pure joy he gave her made her almost laugh out loud. That what she missed sometimes, the simplicity and the delight. It was a refreshing change from past experiences.  It always came onto her shoulders when push came to shove.  And while she was glad to do her part, it grew tiresome to be the only one expected to make a decision around here.

He opened his mouth to reply, but the speaker cut him off. “Colonel Wolfe is urgently requested on bridge. I repeat, Colonel Wolfe is urgently requested on bridge! 

She rolled her eyes with a chuckle. “I seriously can’t have five minutes.” She smiled at Liam before departing. “I will try to come back later to finish our discussion.”

It didn’t take Rose long to reach the bridge. “What is wrong?” She approached the second in command of the Valiant, Sergeant Azarmov.

“We are receiving a very strange reading from our people on the ground. At first I was thinking it was probably an issue with our radar, and asked Private Hillman to check in with London.  But it’s not just a problem with the Valiant, but it’s worldwide!” Azarmov explained, not bothering to mask the extreme anxiousness in her voice.

Rose frowned at the news. “Show me.”

Hillman waved her over, and pointed at one of the multiple screens around him. “Screen two has the results.”

Rose squinted at the multiple numbers and lines that scrolled without interruption. “Wait, am I reading this correctly?”

Azarmov nodded as she stood behind the two. “I’m afraid so ma’am.”

“How can our atmosphere suddenly became poisonous?” Rose turned around. “Has UNIT sent any information in the last 24 hours on anything that could point to the culprit?” Normally, she would had been contacted on her mobile if something really catastrophic had happened. But of course, she had asked for a sort of downtime (first in almost four years - so she definitely was entitled to it) after two months of continuous hellish missions. So, now that she thought about it, It was most likely they hadn’t bothered her with this until it got to this level.

One of the men raised his hand. “We have a report from Colonel Mace from today 0100 GMT stating they were investigating the ATMOS incident…”

“Yes, the suspicious manner in which 52 people all died at exactly the same time. I read the memo.” Rose answered impatiently. “But how does this related to our atmosphere being dangerous for people down there?”

“Just they are entering the ATMOS factory and starting operation blue sky. No communication since 0800 GMT. 

Rose raised her eyebrow. “Operation blue sky? Someone want to tell me what that is?” One week on downtime and she was already out of the loop.

“It’s one of...” Someone had begun to explain before Hillman frantically interrupted with, “Atmosphere saturation at 38%, and it’s rising again!”

“Okay, everybody stay calm,” Rose commanded and turned to the first person she saw. “You’re Private Vasquez right? Call Geneva, request a status update, and then ask why the Valiant was not informed.” She then turned to another soldier. “Call Colonel Mace, I need to know what is exactly happening on the ground.” When the soldier acknowledged his task, Rose let out a small sigh. The holiday was officially over.

While everyone were furiously working at their stations, Rose took a second to send a message to the people she had worked with, asking about what they knew about the situation. But unfortunately they were as much in the dark as she was. Something that she did not like. As that almost always meant the situation had come out of nowhere and they had either missed the warning signs or whoever was behind this was an ace at stealth.  Both were never a good thing, as one would involve competency questions from higher up, and the other was just really bad news

“45% now and rising!” Tillman called out.

Rose put a hand on her forehead. “That's not good. Not good at all...That's rising too quickly...” She mumbled to herself, before realizing that Vasquez was looking at her with a sort of anxious yet concerned look. “What did Geneva say?”

Vasquez rolled her eyes. “They put us on hold." 

Rose wasn’t expecting that. “What? Why?”

“They said that the Valiant was not top priority right now, and that we could hold or be called back later. The United Nations is holding an emergency session.”

“Fine. We’ll have to get by without them.” She scowled then turned to Azarmov. “Did any of our scanners pick up anything abnormal around the Earth? Any spaceships? A weird light, perhaps?”

Azarmov lifted his chin, already pulling up a few communications logs. “Our men are looking at it right now. We’ve also asked the other Unit bases to report their findings.”

“Level rising at 50%! “ Interrupted Private Hillman, his eyes glued to the screen.

“50%? Do we even any idea what is in that fog? And where on earth he is coming from?” Rose tugged at her hair before calling over to someone, “Has anyone been able to reach Colonel Mace?”

“Channel two, Colonel!” said one of the technicians.

“Finally! Maybe I’ll get some bloody answers now…” she muttered while crossing her arms. “Ok! Onto the big screen now!”

Colonel Mace’s head and shoulders appeared before them. “Trap One for big Hawk! You wanted to speak with me?”

“Colonel Wolfe, acting command of the Valiant.” Rose watched him blink a few times while processing her words. Like every high rank officer of UNIT, he that when Wolfe was brought into the situation, that it was extremely serious.

And that didn’t always apply just for their enemies.

“I'm going to be brief, Colonel Mace. With the situation at hand, we don't have the time to run around blindly. What is happening down there? Is this connected to your investigation on ATMOS?” She looked at him very seriously, waiting for answers.

“Yes, it involves ATMOS,” Mace admitted, “but we don’t have a clear answer as to what is the cause of the problem. But, we strongly suspect that it’s alien, and originated in all ATMOS devices. We’ve passed a message for people to stay away from their cars.”

Rose shouted a very nasty curse, making the Sergeant beside her look at her in surprise. “Are you sure? Because do you know how many cars have ATMOS on it?”

“Yes, we’re sure!” Mace nodded, pleased with himself that it was his people who discovered not only the origin of the devices, but their inner workings. “It’s good you called me,  I was just about to contact you. We require the Valiant as back up. We're sending in a fresh batch of soldiers right now, and we are probably going to need you to clear the frog from the area. And be ready to shoot on my command. We need to be prepared on all front.”

Rose had stopped listening after the revelation that ATMOS was responsible, and that they clearly had no idea on what to do. She was now too busy tinkering with something on her wrist. “Colonel, I need your coordinates.  I’m coming down. I will be more helpful on the ground than up here.”

Mace looked affronted. “Colonel, we have the situation completely covered! And you are well aware that your machine is not that good! You yourself have said that you don’t know if it’s still working!”

“Yeah, I know this thing is dodgy at the best of time, but it’s not the time to discuss semantics! The Valiant will remain completely functional under Sergeant Azarmov.  You however obviously need help on the ground.”

“I’m the head of UNIT England, you can’t just--” Mace sputtered as his face grew red with frustration.

Rose interrupted him with a scowl. “Mace. Don’t make me pull seniority on you. Remember that I’m not Brigadier only because I refused the promotion.” She clenched her hands, wishing for the ability to smack him through the screen. “Right now is not the time. So, if you have a problem with my decision, then you can still file a grievance with Geneva or the prime minister. But only after I’ve saved your sorry arse. Am I clear?”

“But the D…” He tried to start again.

“For Pete’s sake, Colonel!” Rose’s eyes flashed and she looked so angry that the men besides her took a cautious step back. “The whole world is choking! Do you really want to debate on who has the biggest toy?”

With a resigned sigh, Mace transmitted the coordinates of the mobile HQ, and waited for the her to show up. Wolfe was one of the most mysterious agents of UNIT, and probably the very best they had in the years since the Doctor was about.

Speaking of the rather frustrating alien… He took a moment to consider the potential of them crossing paths, wondering if he could survive a meet up between the her and the Doctor (who easily proved that he could be just as hard headed).

Rose was still typing on her machine, which looked a cross between a steampunk watch and intricate bracelet. “Right, so in fifteen seconds I'm going to move down to the ground. Stand by and wait for my signal or for Colonel Mace to make a move. Am I clear?” she commanded, not even looking back over her shoulder. She knew her crew well enough to know they would obey her order.

Sergeant Rinkins, who had been with the Colonel for the week nodded his understanding. Like almost all UNIT agents, he knew the legend of Colonel Marion Wolfe. It said she was with UNIT since its creation, and that she even had superpowers. She was the wild card when everything was supposed lost. And he didn't want to be the one to contradict her. “Crystal clear, ma’am.”

She looked at him for the first time since the beginning of this situation and smiled. “You’re going far Rinkins. See you later.” And in a flash, she was gone.

Chapter Text

Chapter 5:

A few seconds later, in a blinding flash, she reappeared in front a very surprised soldier, who didn’t even had time to point his weapon before she presented her credential. “Colonel Wolfe. I’m coming from the Valiant. I need to know where Colonel Mace is.”

Still totally stunned by what he just saw, the soldier just pointed in direction of the UNIT field base. Rose thanked him and marched with a resolute step into the secured space.

“Okay, I'm here. What do we know exactly? And what is your next move? ” Rose said with determination, her sudden appearance clearly surprising a few of the people. A few people even looked at her in surprise at the fact that the Colonel Wolfe was there. Some of them tried to salute, but she stopped them with an annoyed look.

Mace sighed irritably. “Wolfe, like I said...”

Rose growled, making a lot of them nervous. She was clearly totally over the lack of information. “Don’t push me, Mace. What. Is. Happening.”

A few people started whispering among themselves, they knew Rose was high rank, but they didn’t know that she was that high of a rank. Mace throwed them a black look before replying, “It’s ATMOS. We think it’s alien, but we don’t have total confirmation. I sent a group of soldiers into the factory to secure the area. We are waiting for advice from our expert but meanwhile we are sitting ducks. Satisfied?” His tone clearly displeased with the intrusion.

“Do we have any idea about what’s in that gas?” Rose asked. After a few seconds a woman gave her a clipboard. She thanked her, and looked at her distractedly before doing a double take. “Oh you’re Martha! Martha Jones, right?” She smiled.

The woman gave a somewhat forced smile. “Yes, that’s me. Do I know you?”

“No, no but I heard about you. You were the one to save us all during the year that never was. You were also traveling with the Doctor, right?”

“Yes, yes, she was,” said Mace impatiently as Martha stalked off, annoyed by all the small talk. “And like I’ve mentioned, we are waiting for him to report his findings. So, I’m sure you will be very helpful but...”

Rose blanched, the clipboard slipping from her fingers. “The Doctor? He’s here?”

Mace looked at her with curiosity. “Yes he is our expert. Who do you think operation blue sky was targeting? It’s not like we have a lot of allies and expert on alien technologies. Even you’ve had your limit.”

But Rose was not listening, she was too lost in her own head. She looked all around her with a frantic look. “I can’t be here. I need to go.”

“But Wolfe...” However, a sizzle on the radio made Mace pause to listen properly. “Greyhound 40 to Trap 1, I have just returned the Doctor to base safe and sound. Over.”

“Trap 1, received. Over.” He responded.

At the same time Martha came back with her phone on hand. “Sir, message from the Doctor. He says Code Red Sontaran.”

Mace cursed under his breath. “One moment.” He grabbed his radio. “All troops: Code Red Sontaran. Repeat: Code Red Sontaran.” He glanced at Rose, who was still, and pale as a ghost. “Well, you wanted in. Now you are! If you have any idea how to sort this mess, I’m all ears!”

Rose felt the familiar adrenaline begin to flood her body. She licked her lips, hoping that the idiot would heed her advice so that she could get out of here quickly. She wanted to be anywhere but here. “You said that you sent some troops into the factory? The Sontarans are a warrior race, and they will not resist to draw your people into a firefight!” She grabbed her weapon from her holster. "I'm going in. And don’t you dare tell the Doctor I was here!” And before they were able to say something, she was out of the UNIT field base. Less than a minute after her departure it was the Doctor’s turn to rush inside.

“Right then, here I am. Whatever you do, Colonel Mace, do not engage the Sontarans in battle. There is nothing they like better than a war. Just leave this to me.”

Captain Price rolled her eyes. “She goes out. He goes in. Seriously... This place is worst than a vaudeville act!”

The Doctor spun around, and looked at her confused. “What?”

Mace interrupted him, diverting his attention again. “And what is your plan for dealing with this problem?”

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It was a very determined Rose who caught a slightly stunned Jenkins. “You. Are you the one in charge down here?”

He saluted, a little unsure about what’s happening. “Just for my unit, yes. But my orders are coming from Colonel Mace. You want me to call him?”

"No, I'm good." She showed him her UNIT card. “Colonel Marion Wolfe. I'm taking over the command here.” The men made themselves all stand at attention, annoying Rose who was clearly not in the mood. “At ease, and don’t salute again, it's not necessary.” The men looked at each other confused.

“Sorry, Ma’am, but why are you here? I mean we are honored, but we’re only responsible for securing the building.”

She ignored his question. "How many soldiers here?"

He looked at the other men with a shrug. "I don't know. I think maybe 30 or 40."

Rose reached for her radio before realizing it was on the Valiant. She cursed softly. "Shit don't have mine." She looked at Ross. "Ok, I want you to spread the word that we’re on high alert. Nobody is patrolling alone, and if anyone sees anything suspicious they report and go back to base. We are up against Sontarans. They don't take prisoners, and they are a highly skilled warrior race. So we are playing on the safe side. Clear?" she commanded in the most serious tone that she had. Plus, anxiety was creeping it’s way in, with the Doctor nearby and the Sontaran, it was a recipe for disaster.

He nodded gravely. "As clear as possible, Ma'am."

She smirked. "Great." She turned to one of the men. "You, what's your name."

"Pri...Private Cahnahan Ma'am," he stuttered, still surprised that Colonel Wolfe was addressing him directly.

Rose smiled widely. "Nice to meet you! You’re coming with me, and we are going to see further inside what's happening!" She turned to Jenkins. "Don't forget what I said." She turned back to Cahnahan. "Can I have your radio please?"

Ross nodded, already passing the message. "Greyhound Forty to all factory troops. Everyone on code Red. I repeat, everyone on code Red. If anything appears suspicious, report immediately and retreat. Alpha Wolf order."

xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

All of the radios began to crackle. "Greyhound Forty to all factory troops. Everyone on code Red. I repeat everyone on code Red. Report immediately if anything is out of place. Alpha Wolf order."

Mace sighed while listening. Of course she would take over and do whatever she wanted. Sometimes he wanted to scream in frustration. Between her and the Doctor, if he didn't have a heart attack by the end of the ordeal, he would consider himself lucky. He then turned to the operative besides Price. "Call NATO, we are starting operation Defcon One initiatives. We don't have any other choice."

"Right on it, sir!" the man replied and got to his mission.

"And what about the factory...?" Price asked uneasily.

"Let the Colonel do whatever she wants, like she always does. If she prefers to prepare for imaginative objectives instead of saving the world then good for her. But I'm not going to be a coward." He puffed himself taller. "I'm going to do what is necessary."

"Green light from NATO, Colonel!"

"Great! Let's save the world!" Mace said with a smile.

The Doctor suddenly barreled in. Again. "Change of plan," he began while looking a little worried.

Mace smiled. "Good to have you fighting alongside us, Doctor."

xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

"So Cahnahan, do you have a first name?" Rose asked her temporary partner as they passed the west corridor.

"Lee, Ma'am," he answered, his weapon firmly in hand. He waved to signal her that the corridor was clear. "I was named after my grandfather."

Rose opened a door to do a quick, yet thorough check before they moved on, reassured to not see anything resembling a Sontaran. It appeared to be all clear except for the two other teams they saw earlier in another hallway. "That's sweet. And have you've been with UNIT long?"

"It's gonna be a year in three weeks."

They continued their progression in silence for a few minutes, passing through doors and hallways without seeing anything. It was a little eerie to see so much empty space. It was not really reassuring to Rose, who was certain that some sort of trouble was brewing.

Sontarans were not reputed for a peaceful nature.

They were walking mostly in peace, except for the few orders that Rose gave here or there. But she noted how Lee looked at her with nervousness, obviously trying to ask something without having the courage. After two false starts, which Rose pretended to not notice, he finally managed to ask, "And you? How long have you been with UNIT? If I may ask."

She stopped her progression and looked at him, smiling. "Don't be shy, Lee. How about you ask me what you’ve really wanted to ask."

"It's true you've been with UNIT since its creation?" He asked with trepidation. He knew that he was one of the few that had the gut to ask the question that everyone wanted to ask.

"Well..." Rose started but was cut by a sudden frantic radio message that she recognized as Jenkin’s voice. "Sontarans within factory grounds. East corridor, grid six!"

She cursed. She knew that something will happen. She knew it. "Alpha Wolf One to all stations immediate retreat! I repeat immediate retreat! Everyone out !" She screamed into her radio, already moving rapidly to the south exit. A few teams were on her six, or already out, making her sigh with relief. She hoped that everyone had time to run out.

"Troop moving, I'm going to slow them down!" Jenkins said a few seconds later, making Rose and Cahnahan stop abruptly. "Jenkins, evacuate immediately! That’s an order!" She screamed again into her radio, making a desperate half turn, already running towards his direction. "Or I swear to god I will make your life a living hell!!" she lowered her radio and called over her shoulder for Lee to get out and make sure that everybody was following orders. Without another word, she started running faster.

Jenkin’s voice came through the radio again. "My weapon is not working! Tell the Doctor it's that cordolaine signal!" The shoot and sudden static that followed his last words made her blood run cold. It was too late for him. She wanted to scream and cry, but now was not the time. He gave his life to save others, and she will not let another soldier die for nothing.

She shoved her weapon hazardly in her back and started to search the ground, hoping to not come face to face with a Sontaran. But she was lucky and only found three soldiers, trying to run desperately to the exit.

"Colonel!" One of them shouted with relief that it was one of their own that they ran into. "They’ve taken the factory!"

"Yes, I know! You need to evacuate!" She pushed them in front of her, already hearing the heavy footing of the aliens. But she didn't have the time to say another word, her radio crackled again. "Alpha Wolf One report. Over!" came the extremely stressed voice of Colonel Mace.

xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

The Doctor and Mace were arguing when the loudspeaker came to life again. "Sontarans within factory grounds. East corridor, grid six!" Jenkins called out over the the radio, almost immediately followed by another voice, just as frantic as the last one. "Alpha Wolf One to all stations immediate retreat! I repeat, immediate retreat! Everyone out!"

The Doctor looked startled by that voice. "Who is that? The second voice, who is she?" he demanded while looking at Mace, who tugged at his collar nervously.

"Why do you ask?" Mace replied as the exchange continued in the background.

The Doctor started to pace, occasionally looking at the speaker like it had the power to answer all of his questions. And as the exchange continued on the radio he suddenly turned around and stopped just a few centimeters short of Mace, who retreated under the surprise. Even the soldiers around were visibly uneased by the comportment of the Doctor. "Because it's probably the most important thing in the universe right now!" The glint in his eyes made the Colonel shiver.

Mace moved back a few steps. Uneasy and troubled by the direction the conversation was heading. "It's clearly not the time, Doctor, we have a planet to save!" he said with irritation.

But the Doctor was clearly not having it, looking more frazzled by the moment. Passing his hand through his hair again and again. Making the hair stick up every which way. A few soldiers started to look around, puzzled by exchange and who they were discussing. Even Price and Mace were starting to be worried about the well being of the Doctor.

"TELL ME!" the Doctor growled, furious at the lack of responses. He knew that voice belonged to Rose. He didn't know how that was possible, but he would have recognized it even in his sleep.

He would not let the universe separate them again. Even if he had to step into the factory himself and take her back into the Tardis where she belonged.

He started to move towards Mace, a determined look in his eyes. The oncoming storm was there, daring the man to deny what he knew. Thank god Donna was not here, she would have slapped him into oblivion, reminding him that there were more pressing issues at hand in this moment.

But the Colonel was clearly more brave than he would have think. "Greyhound 40 was talking about a cordolaine signal. What is it? There are too many lives at stake, not only my men, but the entire world! We need you, so don't make me arrest you, because that would be counterproductive," He threatened in a firm and clear voice, making the Doctor slightly back away, clearing the madness a little.

He looked around, feeling guilt as his comportment, seeing so many look of confusion made him realise that it was not only his life at stake, he was responsible for all of them. He sighed suddenly tired. He didn't mean to lose control like that. He finally turned his head to Price, who looked a little afraid of the sudden attention. "They need to stay as far away as possible from the Sontarans. Or they will all die."

"Alpha Wolf One report. Over," Mace said into the radio, before turning to the Doctor. "For your information her name is Colonel Marion Wolfe, and she is the commander of the Black Operation, and one of the finest soldier UNIT ever had. She's been under my order for two years. Under Colonel Chaudhry for three. She has special recommendations from Brigadier General Lethbridge. I can go on and on if you’d like to continue to waste time! Do you also want her medical records, or are you going to start to question the credentials of all my men?" Mace’s tone was tight while glaring at the Doctor, all while being aware that they had an audience. Everyone around them had been waiting for things to come to a head between the Colonel and this Doctor, and they were not disappointed.

Mace was waiting for the Doctor to make some sort of retort, but to his surprise the Doctor only sighed and slumped his shoulders before turning around. The man looked like the life was squeezed out of him, which puzzled the colonel to no end. But Mace was brought out of his thoughts by his radio which crackled to life again.

xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

"They have taken the factory! A few of us got out, but I don't know how many soldiers are still in there!" Rose reported while gripping her radio. She was able to get out with the few soldiers that crossed her path, but the Sontarans made it impossible to come back looking for other survivors. Not without any functioning weapons at the very least.

"Get to the industrial estate and stay on standby. Don't try to engage, we are trying to find a plan to get around the signal Greyhound 40 talked about. Trap one over."

"Wouldn't dream of it..." She murmured as she helped a wounded soldier to climb into an ambulance. She looked around and saw Cahnahan a few meters away, talking to another soldier who was visibly shaken while flagging down a medic. But he rapidly vanished into the crowd, as she looked at the wounded and the dwindling amount of soldiers before her. The Sontarans had been ruthless in their pursuit. She taken a few seconds to herself, giving a brief thought to those who had fallen, before she put herself together and went back to concentrating on keeping charge of the situation.

After a handful of minutes, way too long for Rose, a message came from Mace made them all finally smile. They had a breakthrough! They finally had a plan and a way to fight back against the Sontarans. They were back on track. Rose was not a violent person, she clearly preferred to talk and do science than shooting at someone. But she was more than ready to do an exception for the Sontaran. Shoot now, talk later. She smiled into her gas mask and started to ready her troops.

Almost an half an hour later, as she was passing the last of the new weapons, she was surprised by the voice of the Colonel Mace. "Attention, all troops," he called out with a proud tone, causing everyone to stop and give their attention.

Rose almost jumped out of her skin upon noticing the Doctor standing beside him, and in her own opinion, looking way too amused for someone sporting a gas mask in this situation. She started to back away, making a beeline in direction of the majority of the troops, putting as much space between herself, and the Doctor. She quickly hid behind a few soldiers taller than her, making sure to be not seen by anyone important. She didn't want him to see her, she wasn’t ready. Too much time has passed since they parted ways, and she knew that she will fall hard again if she went off with him again. She couldn’t survive another heartbreak. It was way too hard and she was not strong enough.

Not after what she survived.

"The Sontarans might think of us as primitive," continued Mace, not aware of the turnabout on Rose’s part. "As does every passing species with an axe to grind. They make a mockery of our weapons, our soldiers, our ideals. But no more!" he exclaimed.

Rose smiled at that. She did not always see eye to eye with the Colonel, but she could not deny that he was one hell of a motivator.

"From this point on, it stops. From this point on, the people of Earth fight back, and we show them our strength. We show the warriors of Sontar what the human race can do. Trap One to Hawk Major. Go, go, go!"

A few seconds later the Valiant made itself known with the whir of engines that powered the giant propellor blades that began to clear the area of fog. She smiled and removed her mask, happy to be able to breathe again. She turned to a soldier who was just as happy as her at being able to see and breathe correctly and smiled wickedly. "Ready to make history?"

He charged his weapon in one swift movement and smirked. "Like nobody before."

Rose looked in the direction of Mace, waiting for his signal to the Valliant. And as she heard the words, she turned to her men. They were all geared up for the battle, weapons in hand and fire in their eyes just waiting for orders. She smiled. She was proud to serve with these people, all ready to die if that meant Earth would be safe. It would not be something she would ever forget. And with that though in head, she yelled as everyone else was, "Let's show the Sontar how it's done one Earth!"

And just has she finished her sentence, a giant green beam exploded a part of the factory wall, bathing them all in light and smoke. Immediately after, she saw the loading bay doors get blow up. She heard a few soldiers whooping with joy before running head first into combat. She smirked. It was now or never. It was show time.

And with a fierce look and her weapon firmly in hand, she charged into the heat of the battle. More soldiers directly behind her. The Wolf was at the door and she was ready to howl. Bullets were flying everywhere, hitting body after body, mixing all into a cacophony of sound and blood. Soldiers starting to enter the factory at all openings, pushing the Sontarans back as they began to gain ground.

Rose was having the time of her life. Opening fire without hesitation, muscle memory coming to life and making her feet move in a way that one would swear that she was dancing. Shouting the occasional order between rounds of shooting, darting behind cabinets and rumble with a wolfish smile on her face. Sontarans were falling left and right around her.

They didn’t stand a chance.

She wanted to show then that the Earth was defended, even without the Doctor as protector. That the human race was born fighting, and she’d gladly step into the battlefield if necessary to do her part. She smiled at a man beside her and before he had time to blink, she shot at the Sontaran who had tried to line up a kill shot.

She gave him a wink. "You're welcome!" And without another world, she jumped over the rumble they were using as cover and knocked out a Sontaran before disappearing into the melee with a joyous cry. At that exact moment the soldier understood why Wolfe was considered as a legend in UNIT, because she was one you wanted on your side.

She was indomitable. Steel in her eyes, and death on her path. Determined to as many soldiers as possible went home at the end of the day. She spotted a Sontaran who was aiming his weapon at one of her fallen men. Without any hesitation, she slammed the butt of her gun into the vent at the base of it’s neck, causing him to drop like a sack of potatoes. She'd lost too many soldiers to be merciful. When she was younger, things would have been different. She would have tried to bargain, or at least found a different solution to the problem.

But she knew differently now. Rose was no longer a naive woman, but a hardened soldier who preferred peace, but understood that sometimes war was the only solution. She didn't wait to see if the Sontaran would get up again, instead holding out a hand to help her comrade to his feet. This one was one more person that would go home to their family tonight.

After she making sure the young man wasn’t in need of a medic, she ran back to the fight. By the end of the next round of heavy battle, she took out two more Sontarans and gained a few meters, rejoining a group of soldiers who were trying to gain access to a corridor leading to the north part of the factory.

They didn't have much success. It was heavily guarded by Sontarans, weapons drawn and ready to fire. Not one to resist a mystery, especially in combat with a bloodlust race, she opened fire without hesitation. Pure concentration was on her face, and frustration in her heart as she took cover behind a fallen wall. She screamed to the men and women besides her to keep firing, and that they were almost there.

If she heard to her radio correctly, there were a few groups of soldiers that were deep in the west and south corridors, and if she wasn’t mistaken, the Sontarans were getting a taste of their own medicine. She also knew that Mace had been able to get into the eastern portion of the factory. They were at the end, she knew it. They just had to hold on a little longer. With that determination in her mind, she reloaded her weapon and turned to the sergeant beside her. "Cover me. I will try to open a breach by the side," Rose said confidently.

"Already on your six, ma'am," the sergeant promised with a small nod.

“Great!” Rose enthused with a wink before stepping back out into the firefight.

Not even a moment after Rose shot down the last one, she heard her radio crackle. Even the loud speakers of the factory, those who survived the battle, were coming to life. The voice of Colonel Mace boomed and resonated all around them. Everyone stopped to listen for what they hoped was good news.

"The Sontaran commander who foolishly believed that he could take our planet without a fight is dead!"

A loud cheer, Rose included, broke out all around the factory. The Earth was not completely in the clear, not really, but it was a good start.

And maybe, just maybe, they could be safe.

Chapter Text

Chapter 6:

Rose and a team of few soldiers were deep in the factory, surrounded by leftovers of broken machine and corpses of Sontarans when their radio suddenly crackled to life. Making almost all of them jump in surprise.

"Trap One to all troops, the Earth has been saved! I repeat the Earth has been saved! Trap One over!" called the joyous voice of Colonel Mace. 

Rose felt the tension on her shoulders suddenly melting at the news. She knew what that meant: the Doctor had once again saved them all, swooping into action and being the hero. She smiled as her team cheered in happiness and even shared a few relieved hugs, chuckling at the sudden joyous atmosphere surrounding her men. But it was with a sad smile that she led them again into their mission. Because as she heard the different curious exclamations and silly reenactment. Everyone had their assumptions; even if almost all of them had the Doctor on the front of the action. She knew the truth. The Doctor didn't stick around for the clean up and the questions. He would have undoubtedly have already disappeared onto his next adventure.

Which deep down Rose knew was for the best. She wasn’t ready to see him, probably never would be. But, it still made her heart tighten for a moment in her chest the more she considered this decision. 

She suddenly smirked after noticing that Tygen, a private not more than 22, was trying to do his best impression of the Doctor being his impressive self. Making his comrades laugh more than anything else. She shook her head fondly. "Ok guys? Quite playing, let's go. Those aliens technology will not find themselves."

A few minutes later, as she was examining parts of what was a manufacturing machine before a few explosives turned it to scrap, she heard someone call her name. She turned and after a brief salute was offered, she nodded for the person to speak. 

"Colonel, you have to see this!" The concerned soldier waved her over.

Rose frowned. She handed the bit of metal to the soldier who was working along her, and stood while dusting off her trouser leg. She followed the woman, who looked a rather concerned. "What did you find?" She looked at the nametag on her uniform. "Corporal Felden?" She also noticed that they were walking along the other side of the corridor they tried to gain access to during the battle.

Felden looked uncomfortable the closer they got to their destination. "We remembered during the fight that corridor was more heavily guarded than the rest, so we thought it would be a good idea to start here. At first we didn't find anything out of place. I mean a few things that looked a bit off, like the rest of the factory, but not really something worth raising an alarm over. Then we remembered that we could access the basement by that stairwell." As they passed by said stairs, she pointed it out for Rose. "But when we started to search it… Well it was another story."

Rose raised an eyebrow. "And I suppose it was very alien?"

Felden made a face. "I’ll let you be the judge of that, ma'am." They passed a number of doors and soldiers, who all saluted as she passed. Rose nodded absently, as she looked more and more amazed by the strange machinery that she was able to see in passing.

The corporal grinned as Rose had the same curious expression that they all shared the first they came down here. "As you can see, we have stumbled into science department heaven."

That comment made Rose snort. She could not wait to see Taylor’s face when he got to see this stuff. And even she couldn’t wait to have a closer look. She smiled inwardly, as she knew where she would be passing the rest of her holiday.

"But that's not all. We found something else," Felden continued, clearly still focused on her mission. They passed an automatic door that was heavily guarded by their own soldiers. Making Rose frown again. This was not a good sign.

At first Rose didn't see anything, her brain too focused on the alien equipment around her. Already considering how it would fit UNIT’s use in the future, and how she could insert herself into the science department to be able to look at it from the inside. But then her eyes were drawn to the flurry of animation. A few soldiers and doctors were busy examining something on the floor. She made a few steps in their direction, before realizing with horror that it was the lifeless body of Martha that had everyone’s attention. 

She cursed loudly, drawing the attention of some of the people around her. She turned to Felden. "This is not good. Not good at all. We have to call Mace immediately!" If Martha was lying dead before them. Where was the Doctor? A frightening thought passed her, making her blood run cold. The Doctor could be in very big trouble, or injured, or worse dead. She couldn’t stay here and do nothing.

She started pacing, gripping her radio until her fingers turned white. "Alpha Wolf to Trap One. Please report on the Doctor." She waited a few seconds, and when no response came. "Alpha Wolf to Trap One. I repeat, please report on the Doctor!" 

Felden put her hand on her shoulder. "Ma'am, we don't have any signal here. That's why I came to get you."

"Ok, I'm going back upstairs. Don't move the body until then. Nobody who not already in this room can enter! And we need the scientific team asap! So if they are not already on the move, take a fire under their ass!" Without waiting for a response, she made a half turn and started to jog in direction of the flight of stairs. Rose knew that she was starting to lose her calm, knowing the Doctor could be in grave danger make her reckless. She knew that was not her job anymore, that she was not a companion, that she was probably only a memory somewhere. But he was still the Doctor...

As soon as she hit the last step, she grabbed her radio. "Alpha Wolf to Trap One, do you copy?"

"Trap One to Alpha Wolf. I copy. What's happening?" a response finally came, and Rose smiled, happy to hear Mace voice.

"I need the whereabouts of the Doctor urgently. Something came up." She said while still walking. She wanted to tell him about Martha face to face. Not over the radio if she could avoid it.

She had a few seconds of static before she heard Mace again. His voice less assured than before. "Right okay. One moment." She could hear him moving around in his search, and was in view of the mobile HQ when the Mace’s answer made her instantly stop in her tracks. "He has just left Doctor Jones in the East sector. Are we in danger? Do we need to call him again?" He inquired with just a touch of nervousness in his tone, but Rose was already taking the direction of the East sector.

"What do you mean he left Martha? Are you sure?" she asked in a strained voice. This was not good. Not good at all. It was the opposite of good!

"Uh yeah. I was just speaking with her on the phone. Why? Is there a problem?" His voice now took a confused tone.

She pulled out her gun and verified it was loaded. She would also have loved to take a few men with her, but she didn't have time to ask for them. "Yes that is a problem. We just found the body of Martha Jones in the basement of the factory. So how can Doctor Jones be in the East sector?" Before he could respond she continued, "Send me her coordinates. I'm not far from there. Just tell her not to move, and don't mention the body we found. If I don’t contact you in the next twenty minutes, send the cavalry. Alpha Wolf over."

She packed away her radio, and resumed her progress with determination. A few seconds later they finally came across Martha, who was still on the phone, probably with Mace. Rose frowned. Something didn't look right. And then a second later she realized that ‘Martha’ had the Doctor’s coat over her shoulders. The exact one which he almost never let out of his sight thanks to the sentimentality surrounding the garment. She could still remember the glee in his voice as he told her the story, almost like it was yesterday. “It was Janis Joplin’s coat, Rose! She offered it to me!”

And the fact that this so called Martha had it, it triggered alarms inside her head.

"Hands up! Disclose your identity!" Rose commanded with a clear voice, her gun ready to shoot at any sign of danger. 

As Martha turned around, her eyes wide and phone still in her hands, Rose noted with confusion that she was barefoot and dressed in a hospital gown under the Doctor's coat.

"I'll call you back, Colonel," said Martha with a distracted voice, also confused by the gun in front of her. She hung up and smiled, but was cut short by Rose who was still in full mode Colonel.

"State your identity and badge number. And how did you come across that coat?" Rose asked again with an icy voice.

Martha was visibly taken aback. "Doctor Martha Jones, UNIT, number 45873699. Who are you?"

Anyone else might have accepted that response and lowered their weapon. Rose however was still on edge while responding, "Colonel Marion Wolfe. Now, I’ll repeat my question once more. How did you come across that coat?"

Martha seemed to realize the situation she was in, and replied in a calm yet urgent tone, "I was abducted by the Sontarans. The Doctor found me in time to save my life, but I didn't have time to recover my clothes from my clone. So the Doctor--” 

Rose interrupted her to ask, "I'm sorry what? A clone?" 

"Yes, but I didn't have time to explain that to the Colonel Mace." Martha laughed a little awkwardly, realizing that taking a moment to pass that information could have prevented this confrontation, but stopped when she realized that Rose didn't move a muscle. "The Sontarans abducted me, and put a clone in my place. Apparently she was supposed to spy on us, and stop the nuclear launch, but then the Doctor figured it out. I know it's a little confusing, we didn't really have time to talk with all that was happening. Just that I'm the real Martha. I think you will find the clone on in the basement of the factory."

It started to make sense for Rose, but she was still not convinced. "We already found it."

"Well that explains your comportment," Martha grumbles more to herself than anything. Suddenly she looked at Rose and squinted her eyes for a second. She then recognized who this woman was, and her eyes widened almost comically. "Oh my god, it's you!"

Rose looked puzzled. "I'm sorry?"

"You're Wolf! THE Wolf! Oh my god! I so wanted to find you again, but I didn't knew your real name, and with you not remembering...!" Martha enthused with an excited bounce, but was cut off by Rose, still confused and closed off as ever. 

"Ok, slow down! Explain yourself, because I don’t understand anything that you’re talking about," Rose asked while lowering her gun a little at the same time.

"Oh right, you don't remember," said Martha after remembering that only a few people remembered what happened. "You saved my life during the year that never was. You sacrificed yourself to give me the time to go to London, and you helped me the best you could. I was very grateful. I really was! But you never gave me your name..." she trailed off with a small hint of sadness in her voice. 

Rose shook her head. She was here during the ‘Year that never was’? What was she on about? "I think we really need to talk, Martha Jones. I'm going to escort you to the Colonel, and confirm your version of events." She took out her radio. "Alpha Wolf to Trap One. We found Martha Jones. The Martha we found in the basement was a clone. I suggest we send a team of scientists to confirm what she just said." 

"Alpha Wolf, a team is on their way. Report as soon as you can. Over."

Rose gave Martha a stressed smile. "You heard the Colonel. Let's go Doctor Jones."

However, before they had time to walk more than a few feet, they were stopped by the most wonderful sound in the universe.

The TARDIS had just materialized before them.

Chapter Text

Chapter 7:

As the TARDIS began to slowly materialize, Rose felt panic and dread take possession of herself. This was not supposed to happen. She couldn't see the Doctor. Not today. Maybe not ever. Her weapon already forgotten, she took a step back. And then another one, until she was a few meters away, her heart beating wild in her chest. Alarms were screeching deafeningly in her head, screaming her to run as far as possible. Even her breath was starting to come short. Martha, who was too busy looking at the spaceship appearing, didn't seem to realize her predicament. 

But she had run out of time to hide herself. The TARDIS was there in all her magnificence. After all this time, it was time for her to face the music. After a few seconds, a century for Rose, the Doctor opened the door and stumbled out of the TARDIS. His face brightening when he saw Martha, who was just beside the door. 

"Martha Jones! Just the person I wanted to see! Hold on, why haven’t you changed into normal clothes?" he asked, frowning at the fact she was still barefoot and wearing that hospital gown under his coat. 

Martha started to reply with a large grin on her face. However, Rose didn't hear a sound with the thud of her heart pounding loudly in her head. Her entire being entirely focused on the man in front of her. If she was not as scared as she was right now, she could have cried.

She had dreamed about this moment a very long time ago. Hoping every day to see his face, telling herself it was just a bad dream that she will soon come out. But that day never came, and she had to make peace with it and move on. She started a new life, and with that came a path which lead her to a life that she could never have imagined when she was growing up in the estates. 

But now he was in front of her. Not more than a few meters away, still as beautiful as she remembered. If she was still the old Rose, she would have probably wept at the sign. But the old Rose was long gone and the only thing she wanted to do now was run far in the other direction. Because everything had changed. She had changed. Drastically. And she was not that sure that the Doctor would want that version of her on the TARDIS. 

She started to back away, after deciding that it was better to leave when he just happened to look her way, the ending of a laugh still on his lips. For a split second his gaze passed through her, as if she were simply a ghost, something that couldn't possibly be here. 

But then he did a double take, his face paling slightly. He put one foot forward but stumbled, stepping backwards instead into the TARDIS, as if his brain decided otherwise. Martha moved towards him, slightly confused as to the reason behind his stumble. Rose met his gaze and it was like coming home, their eyes not tearing from each other.

Later on, after the fact, she would swear that time had stopped during that moment. She didn't see Martha trying to get a response from the Doctor, nor the soldiers who were advancing on them, curious to see the famous Doctor outside of battle. She didn't even realize she dropped her radio, letting it bounce aimlessly on the ground. The world was suddenly two bottomless brown eyes. Filled with ice and fire, the burning of the stars themselves, overflowing with a grief and sorrow almost too bright to turn away. During those few seconds, it was like the universe itself held its breath. Reducing it to the Doctor and Rose, stuff of legends.

"Rose..." he murmured, his voice choking with emotion. 

And just like that, time resumed his course.

Rose gasped at his tone when he said her name. A sound she hadn’t heard for so long, she almost forgot it. Absently, she realized she could hear the world again around her. But she was rooted in place. "Doctor..." she whispered in a reply. As soon as those words left her lips, she swore she saw tears forming in his eyes as he realized she was not a product of his fatigued mind.

Martha squeaked in excitement as she witness the brief exchange. "Oh my god! You're Rose!" Her eyes were huge with amazement. "We found you. Oh my god!"

This made Rose turned her head to the young woman in surprise, easily breaking her gaze from the Doctor who, by the way, still had the the same look of shock that one could expect after being hit square in the stomach. She wasn’t expecting to hear that they were looking for her. "What do you mean? How do you know me?" she asked, puzzled by the fact that this stranger, who she knew had been the Doctor’s companion sometime after their separation, seemed to know her well enough.

Martha opened and closed her mouth a few times, trying to find the right words but failed. She looked at herself and seemed to finally realize she never changed into some proper clothes. "You know what? I’m going to run and change real quick. Don't move!" She turned to the Doctor who still looked at Rose like the world around them didn't exist. "Don't you even think of swanning off without me!" He nodded almost absently. She started to say something else, but after realizing that Rose was the only thing in the Doctor’s the focus right now, she quickly took her leave, telling the few remaining soldiers to follow her out of the field. Leaving Rose and the Doctor alone. 

Rose was still feeling paralyzed, her heart and mind still at war on what to do. A part of her, the one who still remembered the happiness of old days, wanted nothing more than to run into his arms and bury her head into the crook of his neck, to forget everything ever happened. But she couldn't. The past was just too painful and she had to remember she had a mission now. Responsibilities to the people who depended on her. Things happened in their past that could not be forgotten. But her heart in this moment was winning over her rational thought. She took a step forward, not really sure about what she was going to do, when he finally spoke.

"Rose. How?" he asked after a few seconds, the pain and hope in his voice so strong she almost cried then and there. 

Rose tried to play it natural and shrugged as if it were common fact. "I hitched a ride, and here I am." 

Her nonchalance at traveling across the void as if she merely caught a cab downtown threw him off for a moment. He moved from the TARDIS towards her, his voice betraying his shock and light fear, "But. But, it's impossible! Rose, those walls were sealed!" 

"You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means." She smirked gently while quoting back their favorite movie, which made him almost smile. "As for the walls… Don't worry, it's safe. We were very careful. It's just..." She sighed, her fingers wiggling in anticipation as she considered the best way to explain her reasoning. "It was an emergency. We didn't have a choice. One by one, the stars were dying. One day they were there and the next...Nothing.” Rose paced as she wondered how he would react to the solution they had devised. “So, we built this machine. A cannon really, so that I could cross over and discover what’s was happening. And we realized that it wasn't just a problem for Pete's universe. It was happening in every universe, Doctor. The walls were weakening and their stars were going out too. And we became conscious that the point of origin was right here, in this universe. So my intention was to found you and solve the issue" She sighed. "But during the last jump, I somehow landed earlier than intended. Then my hopper burnt out for some reason, and I was stuck here. Ironic isn’t it? Stuck in my home universe again. So, time passed on and things changed." 

She wanted to tell him about the fear of not being adequate for the challenge, the misery of being suddenly totally alone in this universe, the dread to move in a world that forgot about her, the horrors she had to face. She wanted to tell him everything that happened since the last time she saw him. But before she could let her heart go wild, possibly ruining everything she was working for, he was in front of her, wrapping her into his arms. Hugging her like she was his lifeline. She didn't even hesitate and hugged him back fiercely and desperately, like she was afraid he would disappear at any moment. It would not be the first time.

"Oh Rose," he sighed in a hushed almost reverent voice, tightening his embrace a little more. Like he was trying to melt all their pains away with the sheer force of his mind. And for a while, he succeeded. She was Rose Tyler again, travelling the stars with the one brighter above all. The other part of her soul. 

She didn't know how long they stayed that way. In a peaceful state of grace where nothing could touch them. But of course, reality caught up in the form of a returning Martha Jones. 

"Oh good you're still there!" Martha said in a relieved voice. 

They broke apart at her voice, and Rose had the sudden urge to take a few steps back. She needed to regain herself and her thoughts. She saw the hurt in his eyes, and felt her heart clench but she needed to stay strong. Soon he would be gone and she would stay behind, and she was already too deep. 

"I still can't believe you're here! I’ve heard so much about you. 'Rose this'. 'Rose that'. It can give a woman a serious complex!" she joked with a smile. Rose turned to the Doctor with wide eyes, blinking a few times in shock. 

"You talked about me?" She was stunned. He never mentioned past companions. Ever.

The Doctor squirmed a bit, scrubbing his neck, deliberately not meeting her eyes. "I might have mentioned you once...Twenty times..." 

Martha snorted with a roll of her eyes. "Right. You are so full of..." But she was interrupted by the sound of her phone. "Oh excuse me!" She accepted the call, and swept a few feet away. "Martha Jones!"

They looked at each other awkwardly, the Doctor’s smile painful as he drank her in. This had to be some cruel trick of the universe - hiding her from him until this seemingly random moment. "I still can believe that you’re here," he said with amazement, his eyes going soft. "Look at you." He looked at her for a few seconds before taking her face with his hands, touching her forehead with his own. Breathing out a shaky, "Rose."

"I missed you, Doctor," she answered with tears in her voice. Her eyes fluttered close as she felt his fingers caressing her cheeks and temples. "I really missed you." She mirrored his actions, stroking his face with her hands. Trying to reassure herself that he was really here, and not a product of her broken spirit. It had been really hard for her all of these years, learning to live without him again. Like she couldn't breathe properly. It had taken a long time for her to be able to live without his ghost on her shoulder. She wondered how long it had been for him. 

She heard his smile in his voice. "I missed you too Rose. So much." He released her face, taking a step back to look at her in the eyes. "Like you wouldn't believe." They stood there for a few moments, staring at each other with what was undeniably stupid smiles on their lips. However, in addition to that, the Doctor had this determined look on his face. Like he was trying to make a decision on some long internal debate, and the romantic in her made her dream that he was mustering up the courage to kiss her. But the realist part of her, the one who knew this would be a bad idea caused her to panic internally. Which side would win out? Would she hold her ground and walk away? Or would she let herself be swept back into their old routine of mixed messages and adventure.

But they were interrupted by Martha who was hurrying back in.

"Sorry to interrupt" She grimaced. She had caught a fleeting sight of them standing close together, assumingly on the brink of reunion when Rose took the opportunity to jump back a few steps. Not noticing the Doctor display a brief look of grief in his eyes before going blank again. "That was Donna. She said she's ready to be picked up! And I quote: 'hurry up spaceman! Don't have all day!" 

The Doctor sighed and also took a step back, putting his hands into his pockets. They were almost there. He could feel it. He knew when Rose was deep in thought, and he had hoped that the heavy contemplation in her eyes was a sign that she was considering coming home. "Okay, everyone in the TARDIS." He pushed Martha, who laughed all the way to the door. "You're coming Rose?" he continued, a hopeful smile on his lips. He had a niggling feeling that he still had a chance. 

Rose took another step back. Her smile faltering. "I...I can't, Doctor. I have a mission now. I have a life." She closed her eyes and turned around. She could not face the Doctor, not without showing tears. She told herself again and again that it was for the best. For all of them. "I'm sorry but… I'm too different now." 

For a few seconds, an eternity for her, she heard nothing, only the sound of her own heartbreak. But just as her resolve was at its breaking point, and ready to let the old Rose take control and say screw it to everything, she heard the sound of a closing door. She bit back a sob, biting at her lip to not make a sound. She thought that if she was going to watch the TARDIS go, it's going to be with dignity and pride even if it killed her inside. It was with this notion in mind that she turned around, ready to say goodbye to the only man she ever loved more than life himself, and the home that she called her own for so long.

But she was shocked to see he was still here, looking at her with agonizing eyes, his hand on the closed door of the TARDIS.  At the moment she knew she was staying upright only by the sheer will of her own stubbornness.

"Rose,” his tone was pleading, and she wanted to cry. "I just… For one moment? Please?"

Rose shook her head. "Doctor, you know if I come into the TARDIS, it will be too hard to stay away," she replied. She was drained in almost every way right now. Physically because of the battle, and emotionally from coming face to face with the Doctor.

His shoulders slumped at that. The dejection on his face as he replied, "I just want to have a little more time. Because..." He briefly closed his eyes, visibly pained to say that. "But you’re right. It's your decision. I just want you to meet Donna and after that I will..." He looked away. "I will drop you off wherever you want."

Rose knew that she should say no. She should ask him to bring Donna to her if he wanted them to meet each other so bad. She knew it was a bad idea, probably the worst since her big incident with the Ice Warrior, even worse than her jumping universe to universe. Even her inner voice was screaming about repercussion. Possible reapers and therefore consequences worse than death.

But the look in his eyes. Those sad eyes that were full of hope, it make every resolve that she had break under the weight of the love that she still felt for him somewhere. Even if she’d never openly admit it. "Open the door," she said before she could change her mind. “I would love to meet Donna.”

The Doctor’s demeanor instantly changed. He straightened and the smile on his face was so bright and wide, that she saw his previous face for a split second. He opened the door of the TARDIS, and as she stepped inside for the first time in many years, she was welcomed by the most beautiful sound of the universe.

"She missed you," he murmured as he passed by her while looking to the ceiling with a fond smile. "She didn't hum so brightly after you..." His voice hitched. "Since you’ve been gone."

Rose walked to the console, passing a curious Martha casually leaning against a pillar. As she touched one of the panels, the column illuminated brightly for a second. "Oh, I’ve missed you too, beautiful," she said with a warm voice. "Has he been treating you right?" 

"Oh god, there are two of you now!" Martha scoffed. "If you start stroking her, I swear I'm leaving to search for Donna myself!"

"Don't listen to her, you're perfect!" continued the Doctor, suddenly appearing beside Rose. He patted the grating before doing his magic, moving the TARDIS up to the house of Donna.

Rose rejoined Martha, sitting down beside her. "She needs attention too, you know. I know he’s a little extreme" She snickered, remembering all the times she caught him caressing some part of the TARDIS. "Okay not in the magnitude of what the Doctor does, but some love from time to time doesn't hurt."

Martha huffed. "I know she's alive and all that, but she's still a machine. And if she didn't play with her lighting from time to time, or move the kitchen into one of the holo-rooms every two weeks, I still would be a little skeptical."

"You just have to listen to her. With time it becomes easier as she gets to trust you," Rose offered.

"What do you mean listen? To what?" Martha frowned.

But before she could reply the Doctor declared proudly they arrived, and the door to the TARDIS opened suddenly, admitting a very distressed redhead.

"Donna are you ok?" The Doctor looked at her in concern, moving rapidly around the console to approach his friend.

"Yes, yes it's nothing I swear." Donna began to smile, but then realized there was one more person than earlier. "Oh and who are you?" She turned to Martha with a raised eyebrow. But Martha could only smile like a cat who swallowed a canary. 

Rose stood with a smile. "Hello. I'm Rose. Rose Tyler. I used to travel with the Doctor. You're Donna right?"

Donna looked at her with astonishment for a few seconds, making Rose a little awkward, before she pulled her into the fiercest hug. Making Rose huff in surprise. But before she could do anything, Donna had released her and turned to the Doctor. "Why you didn't tell me you found her, you dumbo!" she exclaimed while hitting him on the shoulder, making him yelp with pain. "And you!" She turned to Martha. "A little warning could have been nice!" She looked again at Rose, smiling like she had won the lottery. "Oh my god, I'm so happy to see you! How did you find each other?"

In the background the Doctor, still rubbing his shoulder, peaked up at the question. He had been wondering the same earlier. "Oh yes! Why were you here by the way?" 

Donna groaned and covered her face when she heard him. "Oh my god! Sometimes I seriously wonder how you are still alive, Doctor."

"I work with UNIT," Rose replied as she crossed her arms over her chest. "I needed a job, and since I’m deceased in this universe, my job prospects are rather limited." 

The Doctor scratched the back of his neck at the reminder of the repercussions of the events at Canary Wharf. He didn’t know if it’d be right to say anything in response to that really. While Rose didn’t seem angry, he was sure that she didn’t need to reminder. 

Donna opened her mouth to reply. But before she could voice her thoughts, the door slammed shut on its own and the time rotor activated - throwing everyone around. 

The Doctor looked around in alarm. "What? What?!"

"Doctor, what's happening?" Rose asked while trying to hang onto one of the coral pillars.

"I don't know! I didn't touch anything! She's flying herself!" he said as he lost his footing and slipped while trying to access the console board.

"Where are we going?" Donna asked as she was practically launched from the chair. 

"I just said that I don't know. It's out of control!" the Doctor replied while pushing button after button without effect. This wasn’t good at all! He couldn’t figure out how this happened. What if she was malfunctioning? Or if someone found a way to control his ship.  But how though?

"Doctor you have to take me home!" shouted Martha, trying without much success to get up.

Rose nodded vigorously. "Make her turn around! Do something!" 

"I'm trying! I swear!" And without any other warning he started to whack the console with a hammer. However the only thing that came out of that was sparks and some new dings on the surface.

The TARDIS was out of control, and the Doctor had absolutely no way to regain it.

Chapter Text

Chapter 8: 

"What the hell is it doing?" Donna screamed as she was tossed around, almost colliding with the ground only to be saved at the last second by Rose, who was just barely hanging onto one of the pillars with one hand. Martha, who was on the other side of the TARDIS, was in no better situation. She was currently on the ground, waiting for an opportunity to stand and move in a safer place, but without much success as the TARDIS was shaking everywhere. The only still upright was the Doctor, who was bouncing all around the place.

"I can’t seem to get control!" He said, with panic in his voice as he frantically hit and turned different levers and buttons on the console. Trying anything to make her fly right. But the TARDIS continued her frenetic course through the vortex. And at the surprise of the three other people, he suddenly lost his footing and yelped while disappearing out of view.

"Doctor!" Rose shouted while trying to make her way around to help him despite the turbulence. But before she made not even three steps, he was already standing and smiling with a jar in his hand.

"I don't know where we're going, but my old hand is very excited about it!" he said with great enthusiasm while still gripping the console. With a grin he showed the jar off, passing it in Donna’s direction who looked at him like he was barmy. She even tried to take a step back but was stopped by another violent trust of the TARDIS. Making her fall right into the captain’s chair. Rose, seeing her new friend being violently thrown about again, started to move in her direction. Before realizing with a start what was in the Doctor hand. "Whoa, hold on! Did you lose another hand?" she said stunned.

He scratched his ear, trying to put it down without dropping it. "No. It's the one that I lost during the Sycorax. You remember?" He was smiling and Rose couldn't do anything but smile too. How could she forget her first Christmas with this him?

Donna, who was clearly more than a little disgusted by the bubbling hand, decided to just not ask questions that she didn’t want answers to. She just huffed and gripped the chair, closed her eyes and muttered under her breath. Meanwhile Martha, finally upright and clutching the column with determination, looked at Rose with interest. "Oh you knew about that thing?"

Rose shrugged while still trying to stay upright. "I was there. But I have to confess, it was a little weird." She chuckled, remembering the Doctor being his impressive self in a pajama.

"You don't say, sunshine," Donna snarked from her seat with her eyes still closed. She even started to look green around the edge.

The Doctor scowled, but the TARDIS suddenly tilted backward, making sparks rain everywhere. Rose lost her grip and fell head first toward the nearest pillar, but was caught at the last second by Martha who was crouching besides her. She heard Donna scream loudly behind her, and she could not really blame her. The Doctor was the only one who by some miracle was still standing, looking around like it was nothing. And as sudden at it started, everything stopped. For a few seconds there was only silence. Martha and Rose exchanged a look, not really sure about what happened. As they were starting to stand up, looking around to be sure that the TARDIS will not start to move again, the Doctor smiled maniacally at them and made a mad dash in direction of the door before disappearing outside.

"No wait, Doctor!" Rose called after him while trying to stand as quickly as possible while Martha was still dusting herself. But it was too late, the alien was now long gone. Probably already poking around and making a fool of himself. She turned towards the other women with a sigh. "Well I see that some things never change."

Martha smiled widely and with a cheeky wink to Rose, she followed the Doctor outside. She was soon followed by Donna, who rolled her eyes at the excitation showed by the young Doctor, leaving Rose completely alone in the TARDIS. She started to stroke the machine in passing, a fond smile on her face as she looked around. She had missed her so much. Almost as much as the Doctor. Because as much as she had loved the Doctor at the time, the TARDIS had been her home. And it had been hard to adjust without her and the gentle hum in her head. Especially at night. As she was starting to think about those difficult times, she received a warm response in return, making her smile bigger. "Don't worry girl, I'm okay now." She looked at the door still open and sighed. "You would think that after all this time they would learn..." And with determination, she finally decided to trail after them.

She got out of the TARDIS and started to walk in direction of the little group, catching the end of the discussion between the two other companions. "I thought you wanted to go home," Donna said to Martha who was smiling with excitement. She also realized that the Doctor was looking at the wall with interest. Poking it with his screwdriver like it contained the secret of the universe.

Martha was bouncing around, making Rose smile with amusement. That young woman was decidedly full of energy. She reminded her a little of Jake when they were off to whatever mission they had at the moment. "I know, but all the same, it's that feeling you get."

"Like you just got on a rollercoaster?" Rose offered as she joined them. She exchanged a found smile with Donna. At least she was not alone in her amusement.

As Martha opened her mouth to reply, a harsh male voice appeared out of nowhere, making all of them jump in surprise. "Don't move! Stay where you are! Drop your weapons." As they slowly turned around, they realized that three men armed with rifles had managed to catch them by surprise.

Rose didn't even think, she moved swiftly and placed herself in front of the group, diverting all the attention onto her person. It was all her fault, she scolded herself internally, how can she have not heard them coming? She was a colonel for god sake!

She briefly considered taking out her weapon, but the possibility of collateral damage was too high, and she could not endanger civilians like that. Before she could even begin to speak and find a better solution than fight for her life in a middle of a cavern, the Doctor jumped in front of her. Gesticulating to divert all the attention to himself. "We're unarmed. Look, no weapons. Never any weapons. We're safe."

Rose frowned, irate at the fact that the Doctor had taken the lead without even considering that maybe she knew what she was doing. Some things obviously never change.

But one the men had already caught sight of Rose, not paying attention to the thin and tall man in front of them, who was moving around wildly. He bumped his chief, who just spared a look in his direction to tell him that he was listening. Clearly he was not the only one not impressed by the clown. "This one looks like a soldier to me," he said with a nod in Rose’s direction. Who, after hearing his correct assumption, frowned as that could either be a good or a bad thing.

The man in charge squinted while evaluating Rose with a trained eye. This of course made Rose turn her complete attention to this man, watching his every move in case she needed to cause a diversion. The Doctor, who clearly disliked the sudden attention to his companion, stood tall and rigid in an attempt to intimidate as many people as possible, hoping it struck unease. Even Martha and Donna stepped closer, not pleased by the turn of situation. "You're right. But I don't see any marks on them," he sneered. "One of those pacifists hmm?" He turned around and motioned towards the machines. "Let’s not waste anymore time. Process them all. Her first."

As one of the men grabbed her arms, the Doctor moved to intervene; not realizing that Rose was more than capable of defending herself if needed. "Woah slow down, gentlemen! Can you explain first what is happening, because I think we have a misunderstanding here."

The only response he obtained was a rifle on his face and a sneer. "Move, boy before I start to shoot."

The Doctor looked offended. "Boy?! Excuse you? Where do you get off calling... " He then scoffed. “I’m probably older than your oldest living relative, and you call me a Boy?!”

"Oh my god," Rose muttered with an eyeroll, as she heard Donna snicker in the background. "Okay, everyone calm down before does or says something they’ll regret." She turned to the Doctor who was starting to look more and more like the oncoming storm. "Look they have three rifles, a target to shoot and not a strong sense of compassion so let me handle this before you get us all killed ok?"

"But Rose..." He cringed, not really liking where this was going. She was not supposed to put herself out there like that. He could regenerate if things went south, so naturally it should be him that puts himself at risk. He couldn’t risk losing her again when he was on the brink of any chance of reconciliation with her.

"I know what I'm doing." She said in her best 'Colonel Wolfe' voice. She turned to the man who still had his hands firmly on her arm. "Ok, let's go."

He nodded before leading her in the direction of the row of ancient machines that were against the wall of the tunnel. They didn't really have time to examine them when they arrived, as Rose let the Doctor looking at them when she had talked with Donna and Martha. She sighed as she heard a commotion behind her. She really hoped that the two girls were able to restrain him before he did something harsh. She was not fond of the idea to have to kill the three men just because the Doctor could not trust her more than five minutes. That's why she had to leave after that. They were not on the same page anymore. As they continued to move she heard Martha said something to the Doctor but she was too far to hear what.

The one in charge led her in the direction of one the machines that suddenly lit up. "Okay. Your hand into the machine. Now."

Rose looked at it suspiciously. "What is this supposed to do?" Like she would just put her hand into a weird machine without explanation. She was sure that the Doctor would have done just that, but that's probably why the man was on his tenth regeneration. She snorted silently to herself. Knowing him, he would have put his head inside just to see what was inside. But she needed more than a 'well do it', because she was not ready to do something rash right now. Not in front of the Doctor, his friends or this rather pushy group of soldiers.

The man pushed her with annoyance. "Like I said, everyone gets processed." He showed her his hand which had multiple marks. Proving that the process was not likely to be fatal. "And we don't have all day, so hurry up! We’ve still got to process your friends."

There was still a slight reluctance on Rose’s part (despite acting all tough moments ago) as she pushed her own arm into the machine. For a few seconds nothing happened except for a faint buzz. She started to think that perhaps the machine in question was probably broken, when she felt a brief but intense pain, making her yelp more in surprise than distress. As she grimaced at the soreness on the back of her hand, she heard a commotion behind her, guessing it was probably the Doctor making a show. But she was too focused on the machine to react.

"Is the machine taking a sample?" she asked the group who looked at her with a blank stare. Ok, not scientific. Noted. She started to turn to share her observation with the Doctor when she felt her arm being released from whatever was holding her arm in place, making her almost miss a step. Before she had time to move more than a few meters, Martha was beside her, soon followed by the Doctor.

"Are you alright? Any pain anywhere?" Martha asked while evaluating her arm and hand, while the Doctor was doing the same with the rest of her body.

Rose shook her head in reply. "I'm okay." She yanked her arm away when the Doctor batted Martha’s hand away from the arm to wave the sonic screwdriver over the skin. "Seriously, it's nothing. I think they just took a sample.”

"What for?" Donna asked as she came around to look at Rose’s hand.

Rose turned to the Doctor, curious to know what was his opinion on the subject when she realized that he was not looking at her. He was looking past her with a curious stare on his face. She turned around following his line of sight and was surprised to see that the pair of glass and metal doors besides the machine, which she presumed was a part of the engine, was starting to open. A mist of smoke rolled out beside the bright light from inside. Without even thinking Rose latched onto Martha and Donna, hoping that the Doctor had also followed, and retreated until they were besides a block of rock. "What do you think this is?" she asked them as the Doctor joined them, his attention still focused on the fog and lights.

"I really hope it's not a remake of Alien!" Donna offered half jokingly, which in turn made Martha snort with laughter.

The Doctor glowered, his concentration finally shifting to his companion. "Donna that's offensive! And...!" But was cut short by Rose seizing his arm, turning him with a shocked face. "Oh god look, something is coming out!"

Just as Rose finished her sentence, a human shape was starting to take form, becoming more visible as the mist was starting to fade away. She realized that this was most probably a man. A tall one even, almost as tall as the Doctor.

When the doors opened and the newly formed man finally stepped out of the device, she was so shocked that she had the sudden and strange impression to see an older Tony in soldier fatigue. She blinked a few times as the young blond man was handed a rifle and orders.

"Who is this guy?" asked Donna with curiosity, passing her head above Rose’s shoulder, who was still trying to wrap her head unto her vision.

"He came from Rose," the Doctor answered with an evident tone of shock. He moved closer to Rose, his hand on her shoulder in a reassuring gesture. He wasn’t sure what sort of reaction Rose would have, but if he could show support, then all the better for him.

"Come again?" said Martha with surprise, looking between the blond man and her new friend. Searching a sign of resemblance.

Rose’s eyebrows raised as high as they could possibly go at that. Did he read his mind to have a joke on her? "What? How he can come from me?"

The Doctor looked away, visibly uncomfortable. He started to take out his specs and scratching his neck in a vain tentative to gain time. But without result, as all the women were looking at him. "Technically that's your son Rose."

"How on earth is that even possible??" her tone was deep with shock. "I mean I remember basic biology. I only carry X chromosomes!" She turned to Martha. "How the hell could this happen?"

Martha looked at her helplessly, just as confused as Rose was. Rose looked at the man, the one supposed to be her child, who was checking his weapons with thoroughness. She could see some resemblance. He had the same blond hair that she did when she was young, and she was pretty sure that she had seen that same determined look on Tony enough times to recognize it from a mile away. But those similarities did not have to mean that this being was her son. The universe was big enough that some people were bound to look alike. The Doctor was mistaken. That had to be it, and she almost laughed aloud at the absurdity.

"Progenation," replied the Doctor, putting his glasses on his face, missing the distress emanating from Rose, who had begun to breathe with difficulty. "Reproduction from a single organism. Means one parent is biological mother and father. You take a sample of diploid cells, split them into haploids, then recombine them in a different arrangement and grow. Very quickly, apparently." He was in full mode Doctor, talking like it was a normal thing, like growing an adult son from an hand was something you saw every day. "And you know, Rose, the fact that you only have X chromosome is not really a problem. Everything is just a question of hormones, balance and all funny things like that. He would clearly not be the first man with two X chromosomes." He beamed in her direction, but his smile quickly dropped when he saw her alarmed face. "Rose I..." But she didn't let him finish, she turned and walked away in the opposite direction. Her head was spinning from this whole series of events.

"You primed to take orders? Ready to fight?" Asked one the man to her son, as she passed them. Now that she had done her duty, they were no longer interesting to the group for the time being.

The 'son' of Rose nodded. "Instant mental download of all strategic and military protocols, Sir. Generation five thousand soldier primed and in peak physical health. Yep, I'm ready." And he smiled in her direction. Throwing a wink for good measure. A smile that she knew intimately as she had saw him enough time in the mirror or on his little brother face. The Tyler smile.

"Oh god, he has my smile." Rose’s face was pale, and she honestly wasn’t expecting that; so no one could really blame her when she took a few steps back and bumped right into Donna.

"Are you okay?" the Doctor asked as he stood nearby, ready to help where asked.

"That's a stupid question, Spaceman." Donna sneered with a roll of her eyes. "Does she look alright to you?"

As Rose was starting to feel claustrophobic under that much scrutiny, she frowned as there was a sudden realization on her part. Something was not right. And she was certain that she just heard sounds that were not there a moment ago. A somewhat mechanical sound. She turned her head, only seeing Martha who was examining the machine from where the man came from.

"Something is coming!" her son called out, followed by the gruff voice of their leader, "It's the Hath! Everyone open fire!"

And just like that both sides opened fired on each other, noise reverberating from left to right. No one could exactly pinpoint exactly where the shooting was coming from thanks to the acoustics of the chamber. Rose crouched immediately, her training taking over. Without even thinking about it, she grabbed Donna and the Doctor, pushing them beside her. Trying her best to shield them with her body. She took out her weapon but realized that she had absolutely no idea who was the enemy in this situation, and she was not going to take a life without a really good reason.

"Everybody move! Take cover now!" she screamed, effortlessly reverting to her colonel persona. She urged everyone to move, pulling the Doctor back down as he started to stand up to probably intervene. She was rewarded by a wounded look, making her only roll her eyes. That man had clearly no sense of self preservation.

They eventually abandoned their hiding spot, running a few meters before she shoved the Doctor in direction of a pile of rocks that seemed safe enough. Just before jumping to safety he threw her a concerned look, a look that screamed 'we are going to talk about this'.

But she didn't have time to discuss her comportment. Right now she didn't have time to argue about what she became. She just wanted to save their live before they all went their separate ways. She saw him take out his sonic screwdriver before she lost sight of him as she pushed Donna under a makeshift barricade. The redhead started to argue but Rose was moving again, her weapon firmly in hand. She had realized that one of them was missing; as Martha was nowhere in sight and she needed to find her immediately.

She turned around widely, trying to see past the battle when she finally spotted Martha who had taken shelter beside a fallen rock deep in the Hath territory. As a bullet hissed past Rose’s head, she became well aware that Martha was way too close to the combat zone. Multiple Hath, or what she heard identified as Hath, were a close distance from Martha and she already saw at least three bullets hit the rocks surrounding Martha.

"I'm coming!" Rose called out while shooting in multiple directions, trying to scare off the aliens from her friends. "Martha, I'm coming!" Martha had finally realized the mess she was in, and she looked at Rose with wide eyes while trying to move without getting hit by a stray bullet. In an act of desperation, she darted to one of the rocks closer to Rose’s position, but she was stopped in her tracks by one of the Hath. It had presumed that she was one of the enemies and thus engaged in combat.

Rose started to run, determined to not lose anybody today, and especially not Martha. She had to take cover a few times, as Hath and what she presumed to be human were fighting left and right. Sounds were reverberating all around her, making difficult for her to advance. But, before she could reach her she fell tremors under her, making her lose her balance. Loud klaxons were starting to blare from all sides. She and Martha looked to each other, realizing with panic that she will never able to reach her before what's happening will hit its crescendo. Suddenly loud explosions rocked the area. Giving her just enough time
to jump into a corner before the roof fell.

The shaking seemed to last forever, reminding her that time in Australia, when she had been surprised by an Earthquake in the middle of her mission. And then it ended swiftly, the ground stopped shaking with only a few rocks and dust still falling. Rose carefully stood in case there were aftershocks and looked around to assess the situation.

"Rose! Oh my god Rose! Are you okay?" She could hear someone calling her, but it sounded as if it were from a distance with the slight ringing in her ears. She was checking herself over as the Doctor appeared besides her, giving her his own examination at a frantic pace. Touching everywhere that she’d let him while reassuring himself that she was still alive and in one piece.

She started to smile, looking to reassure him. But then she noticed the cave in where Martha was just standing. Her eyes widened with worry. "Martha!" She looked around, but not seeing Martha anywhere. "She was there! She's on the other side of the tunnel!" She started to try and dig into the wall of stone, when she was stopped by Donna who grasped her wrist.

"Listen Wonder Woman, all you are doing is injuring yourself. Especially since we don’t know how steady those rocks are," Donna tried to reason with Rose. "You look like a snowman."

Rose took a second glance at herself, effectively covered in dust and dirt, and realized there was nothing to be done for the time being. She turned to the Doctor, who had turned to face the four men with the most furious look that he could muster. "You've sealed off the tunnel and almost killed Rose! Why did you do that?" he said in a dangerous voice, the oncoming storm starting to come around.

The man who came from Rose took two steps forward and stared defiantly at him. "They were trying to kill us. I did what I had to do."

"Our friend is on the other side!" said Donna as she marched angrily right onto the face of the blonde man. "You didn't have to right to do that!"

He smiled at Donna. "At least you've still got your friends. The Hath lost more than us, so that's a victory I think."

Donna looked more furious by the second, pointing her finger unto his shoulder. "Her name is Martha. She's not lost; we are going to get her back. Have you got that, GI Joe?" She turned to them. "Right?"

The Doctor nodded; a somber air on his face. "We are going to find her." He was helping Rose dust herself off. "We are not leaving without her."

"You're going nowhere," the one in charge called out. "You’re not making any sense. You don't have marks." He cocked his head in direction of a still morose Rose. "That one has a gun, but no sense of real fight, and you two are obvious pacifists." he spat the word as if it were the most disgusting thing in the English language. "I'm taking you to General Cobb. Now move."

Rose was in his face almost immediately, her self-control lost into the face of her failing. "It's your fault! You understand? It's your fault!" she said angrily, her gun pointed directly under his chin. "I had time to save her!" She would have had the time if she had a few more seconds. All she had needed was a few more seconds! She didn't realize that the three other men had pointed their riffle at her almost straight away. Then all she could see was the fact that that man has authorized an act of murder. He was the one in charge and he didn't think twice about civilian life. If Martha was dead it was all his fault.

A murderous glint started to appear in her eyes, as a feral smile was growing on her face. Making the man pale significantly under her gaze. But before she could do something she'd regret, and get them all killed, she was stopped by a wide eyed Doctor. Who slipped between her and the men, effectively de escalating the situation before it was definitely out of control.

"Rose, it's not the time," he offered in a hushed voice. Looking warily at all the weapons drawn, including her own. "I'm sure Martha is still alive, and we are going to get her back, I swear. I will not leave her here. But we need to go with them and find out everything that we can before our next move."

"Also find a map," Donna added, who was clearly as uncomfortable around that situation as the Doctor.

The Doctor nodded with a smile, relieved that at least one of them was thinking rationally. "Like Donna said." Before looking at her again with a soft look in his eyes. "So Rose?"

Rose sighed and holstered her weapon again. Her fury becoming more and more under control. She looked at the men who were still on their guard. "Okay, we will follow you..." In the corner of her eyes she saw the Doctor sag with relief and felt a little bit of shame. She shouldn't have lost her cool like that. She was an officer, not a rookie. It should not have happened… But the Doctor like every time he appeared in her life had changed everything.

Without another words they started to walk into one of the dark tunnel. Rose was wondering if this day could go any worse.

Chapter Text

Chapter 9:

 

They walked in silence for a few minutes when the Doctor nudged her, looking at her with soft eyes. "Are you okay?"

Rose smiled weakly. "To be honest, not really. It's a little too much for me… Between seeing you again and then suddenly having a son. Well technically..." The Doctor’s smile slumped a little and he averted his eyes, feigning a sudden interest for Donna who was talking to the blond man. She cursed internally at her word choice. None of this was really his fault. "It's not that I'm not happy to see you! It's just..." She sighed. "Doctor, I thought that I would never see you again, and I made my peace with it. And suddenly having you right in front of me… It's hard." She chewed at her lips. "But now is not the time to talk about this. We have to find Martha as soon as we can."

His shoulders dropped at her admission before straightening back up again as Rose was right. "You have a point, Rose Tyler. Always seeing the entire picture." 

The sound of her name in his mouth made her heart flutter. And before she did something she regretted, she walked a little faster, catching up with Donna and the boy.

"So what's your name?" Donna asked curiously. "I'm Donna and she's Rose," she offered as Rose caught up to them with a smile.

He shrugged. "Don't know. It's not been assigned."

Rose raised an eyebrow. "Really? So what do you know?"

He smiled at her, making her falter a little. It was really weird to see her own smile on another person. "The machine told me how to fight. Be a good and efficient soldier. All of those important things. That's all I need to know."

"Nothing else?" asked Donna with surprise and a little pity.

The Doctor shimmed into the group. He smiled ear to ear while poking the son of Rose with affection. Who didn’t bother to hide his uncomfortable expression as the Doctor was coming more and more into his comfort zone. "The machine must embed military history and tactics, but no name. Not really important in that conflict I think. That's really fascinating!" the Doctor explained as he once against leaned in to examine Rose’s son.

Rose nudged him off her son, who gave her a relieved look, making the Doctor protest in response. "Hey, you’re not the one with a sudden adult son, mister. And no you can’t take him to the TARDIS to ‘examine” him." 

The Doctor’ nervous smile at being caught was the only response Rose needed.

But Donna was clearly not finished with the topic. "Well, he needs to have a name. “ She had a few seconds of silence before lighting up like she just had the best idea ever. “I could name you after my granddad! His name is Wilfred." She turned to Rose with a smile. "What do you think? After all he is your son."

Rose’s eyes opened almost comically. "Oh god that's so weird." She approached closer to the man, who smiled shyly at the attention. And she had a sudden realization. "You remind me of my little brother Tony. So what about it?" 

He seemed to think about it for a few seconds, before nodding, mostly for himself. "Tony. Yes I like that name." 

"Congrats mom," Donna said with a little laugh while patting her on the back. At the same time, the Doctor had struck up a conversation with Tony, who responded eagerly in kind as he was rather happy to have a new friend.

"Please don't call me that,” Rose hissed at Donna with a glare. As Tony was oblivious, still too focused on what the Doctor was saying behind them. "It's not against him, really. But kids were clearly not in my plan. And he was a bit...sudden." She shrugged. She didn't want to hurt his feelings. It was not his fault if three mad men decided to play god with her DNA.

Before Tony had time to realize what Rose was saying, the Doctor interrupted with a wild smile. "Oh that's right! Your mother was pregnant! So he was named Tony? Wonder how he survived her..." he trailed off while scrubbing his shin. Before being punched in the arm by both women at the same time. "Hey!" he squawked.

"Not funny Doctor," Rose warned as Donna murmured, "not the time!"

"Oh!" His eyebrow touching his hairline as he realized what he said. "Sorry." He smiled sheepishly, rubbing his neck in a sign of discomfort. "It was clearly not the moment..." He beamed at her with soft eyes. "I would never hurt you." Rose smiled back, taking his hand in hers, as Donna looked on like a proud mama in the background. 

"You’re all weird," Tony declared, looking at them oddly and unknowingly breaking the moment. Rose quickly dropped her hand, diverting her eyes to the men in front of her, not wanting the see the disappointment in the Doctor’s eyes. She had to remember this was temporary. As soon as Martha was found, she will be back to her life.

It was for the best.

After five minutes of uncomfortable silence, with nobody daring to say something for fear of making things worse, they finally arrived in a large room with a slightly domed roof and a gallery. The ambient lighting seemed way redder than in the cave. Rose could also see more clone chambers here. She nudged the Doctor to show him. A nod in return told her he also saw it.

"So, where are we? What do the locals call this planet?" the Doctor asked Tony, who in turn looked all too happy at being spoken to, as well as the chance to exhibit his knowledge. It made Rose smile briefly. Being mesmerized by the Doctor was apparently a Tyler trait.

"Messaline! Well, that's the name the machine taught me," he responded with a big smile before turning to one of the soldiers that were accompanying them. "Do you know where that name comes from?"

"I don't know. The first ones are long dead, and with them a lot of our history," one of the soldiers replied dispationally before being interrupted by Donna. She was a few feet away, looking all around with an impressed look. "But this is a theatre!" she exclaimed while touching the wall with interest.

The Doctor came beside her, nudging her with a smirk. "Maybe they're doing Miss Saigon." Rose rolled her eyes in the background. That man was such a child at times. 

"Ok, that looks like a town for me," Rose observed while squinting at some carving on the wall.

"Yes! Like an underground city!" Donna enthused when she came to look at it as well, as the Doctor was looking at her with a smile in the background. But after a few seconds she frowned as she realized something. "But why?"

"Because it was one," answered a man with a neatly trimmed white beard, making Donna jump almost a foot in the air. The man approached them with a grim figure. 

"General Cobb I presume," said the Doctor while looking at him with a suspicious look, his hands firmly in his pockets. 

One of the soldiers took over the discussion, visibly trying to impress his superior. "Found in the western tunnels, Sir. I'm told they have no marks. There was an outbreak of pacifism in the eastern zone three generations back before we lost contact." He turned to Rose. "Is that where you came from?"

Rose looked to the Doctor furtively. "Mmmh yes. Exactly. That's where we came from."

The Doctor moved to the front, pushing a grumbling Donna in the middle of their group at the same time as Tony trailed behind them. "I'm the Doctor, this is Rose, Donna and this young man is Tony!" 

At the sound of his name, Tony’s chest puffed with happiness. "I was named after Rose’s brother," he said proudly, making Rose smile at his somewhat childish enthusiasm.

Cobb looked at him with annoyance, clearly not happy with his intervention. He turned to the Doctor with a hard look. "Don't think you can infect us with your pacifism. We're committed to the fight, to the very end if required."

The Doctor raised his shoulders, silently urging the Rose and Donna to move. But Rose was too busy glaring at Cobb to notice. "Well, that's all right. We can't stay anyway. We still have to find our friend. Right, girls?" He finished with a nervous smile.

"Girls?" Donna growled while aiming her hand to give him a slap on the head. But Rose stopped her before she started a new incident. 

The general made a face the Doctor’s reply. "That's not possible, all movement is regulated. We're at war."

"Yes, I noticed. With the Hath. But tell me, because we got a bit out of circulation, eastern zone and all that. So who exactly are the Hath?" asked the Doctor with interest while taking out his glasses. 

Rose sighed and rolled her eyes. They didn't need a history of the place, just a map to find Martha. As the general and the Doctor were starting to discuss the place, Rose started to wander. Soon she was followed by Donna.

"So what do you think this place is?" Donna was curious while looking at the few plaque around them.

Rose shrugged. "I don't know. Some sort of remembrance maybe?" She touched one of the machines on the wall. "I wonder how many people were born this way. Without family or friends. Just born to fight without question." She sighed, shaking her head and looked at Tony, who was still with the rest of the men looking interested in the discussion.

Donna put her hand on her shoulder, giving her a sad smile. "He can still have a family and friends you know? Maybe he was not born traditionally, but that's not mean he is not yours. My friend Nerys fathered twins with a turkey baster and she loves them all the same."

Rose averted her eyes, preferring to look at the array of empty machines. "It's just… You don't understand. I had a family but I lost them. Looking at him is hard. Every time I look into his eyes or his smile, it's like looking into the past. I know it's not his fault, but I can't help it." After a few seconds of silence she was suddenly engulfed into a strong hug. 

"For what you lost, I'm sorry," Donna said softly. 

That brief moment of peace was broke by the Doctor, who squealed in their direction, "Donna, Rose I think I found something."

They turned in one movement, looking at their friend who was smiling ear to ear and swaying in his excitement with his hands in his pockets. With one last look, and a pat on her arm by Donna, they joined him besides a table. 

"So what did you find?" Rose asked, looking at the different pieces with curiosity. 

"A map!" With a flourish of his sonic screwdriver, the Doctor made the map buzz and suddenly a whole complex of tunnels and chambers started to appear.

Cobb pushed Rose aside, who looked at him annoyed. "That must be the lost temple. The Source will be inside. You've shown us the way. And look, we're closer than the Hath. It's ours!" He turned to a group of soldiers. "Tell everyone to prepare to move out. We'll progenate new soldiers on the morning shift, and then we march. Once we reach the Temple, peace will be restored at long last." 

The Doctor scratched his ear, exchanging a look with Rose and Donna, as Tony was looking curiously in the back. "Er, call me old-fashioned, but if you really wanted peace, couldn't you just stop fighting?"

Cobb nodded with an almost sinister grin. "Only when we have the Source. It'll give us the power to erase every stinking Hath from the face of this planet."

The Doctor looked at him bewildered. As Rose and Donna seemed more and more worried. "Hang on, hang on. A second ago it was peace in our time. Now you're talking about genocide?"

Cobb gave a uncaring shrug. "For us in this moment, genocide is the way to peace." Then, not caring if his answer was acceptable or not, he turned towards his men poised to issue orders.

"Then you need to..." the Doctor fumed before being forcibly pushed aside by a murderous Rose.

"You listen to me!" She snarled as she grabbed Cobb’s arm, forcing him to come nose to nose with with her, and it didn’t escape her notice that he looked rather stunned as he certainly didn't expect any resistance. "If you think for even a fraction of a second that I will just stand back as you murder an entire civilization then you need to think again!" Her glare was so harsh and judgemental that he even took a step back. And for a split second, Rose wished that she still had her weapon, even if it was to show her resolve to fight for what is right. "And I will not hesitate to..." But before she could finish her threat, she felt a arm around her waist as the Doctor tugged her back while trying to shush her.

"I know you care deeply, Rose. But this is not the moment to possibly get us killed," He murmured on his ear, as she struggled to break free. "Do I have to remind you we need to be alive to find Martha?" 

She wanted to elbow him in the ribs so he would release her, but one look in Donna’s direction and seeing her concern made her lose some of her hostility. Only Tony seemed completely unfazed by the events around him. She nodded in indication that she would not do anything further and waited. After a few seconds, the Doctor released her when he was sure that Rose was completely in control of herself again.

Rose looked away the more she reflected on her actions, not wanting to see the disappointment that she knew was on his face, before taking a few steps in the opposite direction. Taking the time to fully calm herself. She didn't mean to lose her cool like that. It was not supposed to happen. She remembered what happened the last time she lost it like that and was clearly not one for a repeat. She sighed and closed her eyes. 

Cobb, not aware of Rose’s inner turmoil regained his posture, shaking himself like it had been just a little discomfort, and had not been probably a few seconds away from being killed. "Cline at arms," he commanded. And the leader of the group who had found them, took out his rifle in a crisp response. "Show them the cells. We don't need them to spread their treason." He turned to Rose who was still turned to the wall. "And you, Rose. If you try anything, I'll see that the Doctor dies first." 

Rose spun around at the threat, a look of fire and death in her eyes. "Touch him and I swear on my life that I will end you," she promised with a tone that told everyone this was not an empty threat.

"Okay Rambo, calm down will you?" Donna said nervously as Rose was locked in an almost staring contest with Cobb. 

"Come on. This way," said Cline, pushing Rose in the process, breaking the tension without realizing it.

The Doctor looked at Rose with concern before turning to the colonel. "I'm going to stop you, Cobb. You need to know that," he promised.

Cobb smirked. "I have an army and the Breath of God on my side, Doctor. What do you have?"

The Doctor tapped at his temple with that cheeky grin of his. “I have my extremely clever brain. A brain that is going to find a way to stop you, and when I do, you’ll have one chance to make things right.”

Cobb rolled his eyes now that it appeared that he had the upper hand against the small group He waved a hand in dismissal. "Lock them up and guard them."

"What about the new soldier?" Cline asked while throwing a look at Tony, who looked offended at the implication he was a troublemaker. 

"Can't trust him. He's from too wild a stock. Take them all." And with a last hand gesture, he dismissed them all. Looking at the map like they were now non existent. 

And just like that, they were pushed in direction of the prison cell. The Doctor tried to look at Rose and catch her attention, but she was stubbornly looking at the ground, refusing to meet his eyes. He realized suddenly that she changed way more that he was thinking at first. And he wasn’t really sure if it was a good thing.

Chapter Text

Chapter 10

"I don't want to talk about it." Rose stood firm while repeating her answer for what had to have been the fifth time. Because he could never know the truth. Ever. "Like I said, I just lost my cool. That's all."

The Doctor’s agitation grew as he paced the middle of the prison cell they had been put into. "And like I said, your reaction was not normal! You threatened a man Rose! Two times!" He stopped in front of her. "Talk to me," he sighed, "please." But only silence was his response.

"More numbers," Donna observed while trying to break the tension. "They've got to mean something."

"Makes as much sense as the Breath of Life story," the Doctor mumbled, still bothered by Rose’s stillness.

Rose stared curiously at the Doctor. "What?"

"You think it’s not true," Tony asked from his seat on the ground. He was still staring at the wall vacantly, as a startled Doctor looked at him having momentarily forgotten that he was with them. “You think it’s a joke, when it’s the fate of two civilizations at stake.” An ominous silence was his response before Donna gave a nervous laugh, making Tony jump like he had been deep in through. 

"Okay, what’s he’s talking about?" Donna asked while looking at the Doctor, who was still frowning at Tony as if he were trying to find the response to a very difficult enigma. The only person not visibly bothered by that comment was Rose, who was too busy throwing Tony a sad look.

The Doctor scratched his chin, briefly considering Donna’s question and if there was time to get into it before waving his hand in a sort of dismissal. "Just some myth. You know the 'and then there was life' kind of things." He started to path again. "Regardless, I think there could still be something important in that temple. Maybe a piece of technology, or a weapon. Lost in time and became a myth."

Donna looked at him offended. "So the Source you’re talking about could be a weapon, and we've just given directions to Captain Nutjob?" She threw her hands in the air. "Good job, really!" She turned to Rose who was still sulking in a corner. "Back me up please!"

Rose shrugged, still a little perturbed by Tony’s behavior and her own loss of self control. But one thing at the time. "Hey no objection from me, remember I was the one who wanted to stop him." Her sentence gained only a worrying look from the Doctor. She also realized that Tony was looking her way with a curious gaze. "What?"

"You are not like the others. Are you a soldier like me?" he asked with interest.

She smiled at him, still cannot believing she had a son. A son who looked so much like herself that her mother would have probably smothered him to death by now. "Technically an officer really. I'm generally the one who gives the orders rather than the one who follows them." But then her smile faltered as she remembered her life before the Doctor, a time when everything was so still and motionless. That life she had wanted to run from so bad. Sometimes she wondered how that life would have been without the Doctor.

"So, you are like the colonel Cobb?" Tony continued, totally oblivious to the change of mood in Rose.

She flinched, turning her head to the wall. She recalled the multiple times she had people under her command, counting on her in battle to bring them home alive. She always tried to do her best and incur the bare minimum of loss possible. But sometimes it’s too easy to lose yourself in the blood and rage of the battle. Humanity is such a fleeting thing... "No, I'm not. Life is something precious." She turned her head again, making sure that Tony was looking directly in her eyes. "You should never waste it. If I had to teach you one thing, it's that you never take a life when you have other means."

The Doctor and Donna were looking at them, but she had eyes only for her son. Tony was solemn and subdued, like he was pondering what she just had said. But she knew how that moment was important, because he was literally born to fight and kill. She remembered a time when it was a choice that she had to make, and she didn’t want him to suffer like she had. Trial by fire is never without consequence. She wanted something different for him, an alternative choice like she had herself. Even if she had to drag him kicking and screaming.

"Can you teach me? I mean being a soldier like you," he asked after a long moment of silence with a shy look. He was clearly expecting to be turned down, but he asked anyway.

She beamed, so proud she almost burst. "Yes, if it's something you want," she replied with the hint of emotions she was feeling herself. Maybe something good could come from all this.

Donna fell beside her, punching her lightly in the shoulder, making Rose jump almost a foot in the air. She had totally forgotten they were there. "Well good job mom," Donna praised with a fond smile. Rose tensed almost immediately at the moniker, as she was still not at ease with the idea of instant motherhood. The love for her son was already here, she was not denying it, but the shock had clearly not settled out.

The Doctor sensed her sudden panic, and diverted the attention to himself. "Well, we still need to get out of here, find Martha, and stop Cobb from slaughtering the Hath."

"Oh right!" said Donna with suddenness, before getting back on her feet. She offered her hand to Rose who hesitated for a second before taking it and getting up herself. "Do you have a plan?"

"I need your phone Donna. Time for an upgrade." He turned to Rose with a smile. "What happened to yours by the way? You know the one we lost the first time?"

She laughed, remembering the fate of her poor phone. "An unfortunate incident involving my mom, two mentors hell bent on invading east London and a washing machine. He sadly didn't survive."

He chuckled as Donna looked at her. "What's a mentor?"

She shrugged and she walked in direction of Tony who still didn't have moved from in position against the wall. It was time for her to have a real one to one with her son. "Let's say if you don't like slugs, then they’re not going to be your favorite aliens."

The redhead shuddered at the visual as the Doctor was sniggering in the background. "Ok. Got it."

Rose sat beside Tony who was still looking at the ground. Probably still thinking about what she said. She bumped him with a smile. "You know I'm sure my mom would have loved you."

He looked at her with wide eyes, almost childlike their appearance. Making her realize that even if he was fully grown, he was still only a few hours old. It was not his fault if he was there now. He didn't ask to be born from some machine. For better or for worse he was family, and like her mother always said: you don't abandon family. You stick with it and you try your best. If she turned her back on him, she was sure that her mom would have crossed over just to give her the smack of a lifetime.

"You have a mother? That means I have...That I have a family?" Tony was starting to be excited. At that moment she was only seeing the Tyler in him, the one who could have been really hers if her life had been different.

"Yes and I have a dad. And like I said before, a brother named Tony just like you. And even friends!"

"Could I meet them?" he asked as the excitement seemed to radiate from him, just like she used to do when she was a child. She had lost it somewhere during her adolescence but she was so happy to see it was a trait so ingrained in her that she passed it on to him.

She had a sad smile full a sorrow and pain. "No I lost them a long time ago." She patted his shoulder as he started to look saddened. "But I'm sure they would have loved you. My mom would have probably adored you to death."

"Martha, you're alive!" She heard from the other side of the cage, as the Doctor was looking ecstatic, smiling like a madman. She crossed his eyes and realized as his stare softened that he had deliberately let her have a moment with Tony, even if his burning envy to know answers was eating at him. She had a soft smile, thanking him wordlessly.

"I'm so glad you're alive!" Donna shouted into the phone, making the Doctor wince under the volume, and breaking the moment without realizing it.

"Yes, we’re all here together. Donna, Rose and Tony too. Yes, that’s what she called him!" He nodded after being handed the phone, mostly for himself rather than Martha. "We're fine. What about you?" He smiled at her response as she began to fill him in, making Rose relax, who become conscious that she had been tense since their separation with the companion. "Anyway, where are you?" He then frowned at what she was saying before his eyebrow almost jumped to his hairline. He was entertaining to watch she thought. That was a thing she didn't remember and it almost saddened her. Because what else has she forgotten?

"Oh, that was me," continued the Doctor, not seeing the turmoil in Rose. "If both armies are heading that way, there's going to be a bloodbath... Just stay where you are. If you're safe there, don't move, do you hear me?" He stayed silent for a few seconds, waiting for an answer before looking at his phone with surprise. "Well she hung up."

Donna sniggered. "Maybe she was tired of hearing your voice!" They started to bicker, making Rose roll her eyes as Tony looked at them with interest. "Are they always like this?"

"Unfortunately I think so," Rose replied with amusement. She was glad to see that everything had not been bleak for the Doctor. It was good for him.

But her fleeting moment of peace was shattered by the sudden and distant screams of dozens of soldiers. "To war!" They shouted over and over again, triggering in Rose a flashback of a few memories that she tried her hardest to forget or bury deep into herself.

As the screams grew louder and louder, she felt herself shutting down, gasping for breath while realizing helplessly that she was having an episode in a middle of a group less than equipped to manage it. And if the Doctor realized...Well she was clearly not ready to face that storm of questioning anytime soon. 

She started to recite the names of her teammates while taking slow deep breaths, then repeating to herself over and over that it was not real and nothing was happening, just like how she had been taught after the last few disastrous event when she had a flashback without warning. But her control of herself was still wavering, making it harder for her to come back to herself without anyone realizing it.

"Hey are you okay?" Tony asked in a worried voice, encircling her with his arms, as the Doctor was fortunately too busy looking looking for a way to escape to see her state.

And just like that, she felt like she was back into her own body, grappling back to the reality and grateful beyond words that Tony had seemed to know how to do the right thing at the perfect moment. She was still shaken, and a little afraid to see how everything had gone to hell so fast since the return of the Doctor. But she knew that now was not the time to be vulnerable or emotional.  People were counting on her, and she would have to wait to be back on Earth to fall apart if needed. So, she faked a smile to her son, as she let herself relax into the hug, and played that moment as just a fluke. "Yeah, yeah just some memories. No worry.” She diverted his attention to the other topic at hand, and hoped that Tony would be too distracted to talk about what just happened. “So! We need a means to escape before they start to kill everyone. I’m open to any ideas." Donna and the Doctor turned their heads in a synchronized movement, making it almost comical. She shrugged. "Just saying."

“Rose? Can I talk to you for a second?” asked the Doctor, visibly troubled by something. 

She exchanged a smile with Tony, patting him on the knee to indicate him that they were good and started to stand up. With a little difficulty she realized with humor. Maybe she getting too old for this sort of thing. As she joined the Doctor, who was walking along the door nervously, she heard Donna take her place, starting a discussion with Tony.

“So tell me what do you know about this place?” She bumped the Doctor’s shoulder with a smile, trying to stop him from stressing too much while grounding herself at the same time. She knew that the more she had contact with people after an episode, the easier it was for her to grasp the fact it was not real and that she was now well and good. “What do you wanted to talk about?”

He sent a nervous look in Tony’s direct, who was smiling at Donna. “Are you sure it’s a good idea to trust him like that?”

She bristled at his tone of voice. “You seemed to like him well enough before. What changed?” 

The Doctor’s eyes softened as she called him out, and it was the look that said he knew that she was emotional and just needed a pep talk. The one she already wanted to smack down when they were travelling together and now was even more infuriating. Especially in that instant. 

"Rose, he is a man of war. If he had not been thrown in here with us, he would have been chanting just like them."

She came nose to nose with the Doctor, furious at his insinuation. "And what? He doesn’t deserve a second chance? Just because he was created to fight a war?”

He started to back down, his position as non threatening as possible. “I didn’t say that. Just I’m not sure he should follow us when we get out of here. We cannot be sure he’s not a spy or someone here to stop us.” 

“Hey!” called Tony in an indigned voice in the background. 

But neither the Doctor or Rose were looking at him. “I trust him. That’s more than enough for me,” Rose declared. Tony had literally saved her from herself less than a minute before, how could the Doctor be that dense? But he was still looking at her with a patronizing look in his eyes, making her want to hurt him.  “And you know what?” she sneered, her tone helped by the residual anger that an episode tended to leave behind.  “If you make me choose, don’t be so confident about my response.” 

He took a step back, a pained expression on his face at what she implied, that she would leave him again without a second thought. Making her regret instantly what she just said. She started to open her mouth to apologize but the Doctor beat her to it.

“He is a soldier. Literally born to kill!” the Doctor shouted, angry and hurt beyond reason. Touching a weak point of Rose without realizing it. 

"So I am!” she shouted back. “And you know what? I’ve killed people! I’ve sacrificed men just in hope than more would live! I fought in wars! I'm just like him. Are you going to sacrifice me as well?"

She was meet with a choked silence and sad eyes. "Rose I didn't mean..."

But it was too late now. They both said things that could not be taken back, no matter how much they wanted to. Rose realised with sadness that maybe the boat had sailed a long time ago, and now too much has changed. That she was too broken to be someone of any worth to him. The Rose he knew was long gone, and she was deeply sad to see she could not measure up. She sighed and turned her head, too tired and wired to fight.

She just wanted to go home. Get her emotions under lock once again and move on. "No you didn't probably mean it but that's a reality. I’ve changed, Doctor. I will not let you vilify a man just because he could have been..."

"Maybe we can ask Tony what he thinks?" Donna intervened while trying to calm them down before the situation spiraled out of control.

"Well, you are a tad too much emotional, and I would really prefer not being sacrificed. But I can still be the diversion if you want," Tony said with so much sarcasm that Rose snorted. Sarcasm was obviously in his genes as well.

"At least he has a sense of humor. And that's clearly something that came from you, Rose, because that lot of soldiers are clearly not a comedy troupe," continued Donna while smiling ear to ear at Tony who looked pleased with himself.

“No, don’t worry, if a diversion is needed I can do it,” said Rose with a fond look to her son. She had decided then and there that if she could, she would take him back with her.

“Why you? Why not me or Donna?” asked the Doctor with indignation, still mulling over his spat with Rose. It had been very childish of him to be this petty, but seeing her so open with someone else had made him envious, so his mouth had run on autopilot as usual. And the worst thing about his behavior is that he really liked Tony. He was so much like Rose.

“Because knowing you, you will probably annoy them to death and make them kill you,” Donna teased with a satisfied smile as the Doctor puffed. “And well I’m not against doing the diversion, but I’m curious to see what Rose will do.”

Rose smiled at Tony, who was waiting for his cue to do something. “Ok Tony, watch and learn.” She glanced to the Doctor, still hurt by what he said. “And you could also learn a thing or two...” Then without another word she walked to the door, realizing as she leaned against it that the guard had changed. Now it was Cline, the one who moved them here. This could work in their favor as perhaps he will have her weapon with him.

“Cline right?” she asked with a hint of flirting in her voice.

“I’m not supposed to talk to you. I’m on duty,” Cline replied without moving his eyes from the opposite wall.

“Well, I imagine that colonel Cobb would not be an happy man if you fail at your duty…” She bent a little, waiting for the right moment to move then smiled. “And you know what?”

By reflex, he turned his head at the question. “What?”

“He was right.” Before he had the time to think about what she just said, she moved her arms around him and knocked him out, muffling his brief scream with her hand, squatting with the body to let him down gently without a sound. A few seconds later she turned around and with a big smile, showed a key in one hand and her gun in the other one. Making Donna laugh big time.

“No way in hell you would have done that!” she said to the Doctor, who was looking at Rose with astonishment.

“Wow that was awesome!” cried out Tony, jumping to his feet with excitement and smiling like a little kid. “I’m really, really impressed!” He turned to the Doctor, hitting him in the shoulder with enthusiasm, his previous issue with Tony already forgotten. “Isn’t she cool?”

The Doctor could only nod numbly at Tony. He was completely overwhelmed by the contradiction in him. Because while he was fundamentally against violence, especially when an alternative existed, but in that moment he could only be awed by what he just saw.

At least if Rose was leaving him after this, he could still bond with Tony over the fact she was in a league way out of their own.

Chapter Text

Chapter 11:

 

“Ok, I think it’s enough,” said Rose as she finished tying up the guard she just knocked out. “We need to move now, before the rest of the cavalry realizes that we’re gone and come after us.” As she turned around, she realized that the Doctor was still looking at her with a weird look in his eyes. Which made her roll her own in response. Sometimes she wondered about his sanity. But she was fortunately saved from an uncomfortable discussion by an oblivious Donna, who was still looking around with Tony.

“Ok time to get out!” she ordered a little too loudly for the Doctor, who winced at the sharpness of her tone.

“And we need to find the plan for the secret tunnel,” added Tony, walking besides Rose, who couldn’t stopping herself for smiling proudly every time he opened his mouth.

“Yes, so let’s go.” And suddenly just like that Colonel Tyler was back. “I’m going first.” She turned to Tony. “You are closing the group. Don’t forget to take the guard’s weapon on our way out. Doctor…” The man himself approached her with curiosity, still not accustomed seeing the soldier in Rose. “I want you to stay close to Donna and be right behind me. Nobody move before I said so, nobody try to be a hero and for the love of everything let me handle everything coming our way before someone,” she took an hard look to the Doctor, who started to look around innocently, “tries to save the day with a rubber duck and a strand of liquorice.”

Before the alien in question had the time to look offended, Donna started to laugh really loudly, almost tripping on Tony who was probably wondering if liquorice was a weapon or not. “Ok, after our little adventure blondie and I really need to talk!”

“Please no!” The Doctor cringed at what could happen with the two woman in the same place and no danger on the horizon to distract them.

Rose had a sudden evil grin, making everyone a little nervous. “Oh yes. The stories I have…” She looked a little dreamy for a second before shaking herself and taking out her weapon, looking again like the professional she was. “Ok let’s go.”

“Hey I’m not a damsel in distress!” said Donna, affronted to be treated like a child, almost hitting the Doctor as he tried to move her behind him. Tony had the wisdom to stay away behind, occupying himself by checking the weapon he just recovered.

Rose sighed, a little irritated to lose time like this. Did nobody realize that they had maybe twenty five minutes, at best, before someone came to relieve Clive? “I know, Donna, but you are also the only full civilian here, so it’s my job to ensure your safety.” The Doctor coughed, making her add, “and also the Doctor is here to protect you. So please stay behind. And Doctor, no heroic action. We find Martha. We stop Cobb from doing something stupid, and we run to the TARDIS. Are we clear?”

“Crystal!” He smiled broadly, his hands in his pocket. The perfect image of a nine year old on a sugar rush. Making Rose shake her head fondly. That man was infuriating, but by god did she miss him sometimes.

“Ok let’s go!” And then she was out.

“I so want to be her one day,” Tony whispered to the Doctor as they were walking out. His last row with Rose already forgotten.

“I can understand why...”

“Hey, Fanboy, we don’t have all day!” called Donna while snickering besides them. Between the man with a crush, and the kid with an hero worship; she was five seconds away from telling them to hold their fan club meeting elsewhere. But she wisely decided to leave that for another moment as the Doctor walked in front of her.

She had to convince Rose to stay in the TARDIS first. Because she was not ready to have an heartbroken Doctor on her hands again. One time had been enough.

---

They had been walking for almost ten minutes. Rose making them progress slowly while checking every nook and corner, her eyes entirely focused on the mission at hand. For the moment they had not seen anyone, letting her relax little by little. But it was not enough for the Doctor, who was realizing more and more that he didn’t know at all the Rose Tyler in front of her.

Gone was the joyous and carefree woman who had traveled with him. In her place was a hardened soldier and leader. Not that he was proud to see her so confident and charismatic, but the fact it happened without him made something really ache inside him. He didn’t want that life for her. When he had imagined her in the parallel earth without him, he always imagined her happy, most importantly with her family and endless laughter. It had almost broken him, but that was all that he ever wanted for her.

But now? Seeing her like that, was looking at an uncomfortable mirror from a past life. And he was not sure he was able to support the choices that he would inevitably have to make.

“Someone is there,” whispered Rose in front of him, making him almost jump in surprise. He had been so deep in thought that he had forgotten where they were.

“If I remember correctly, that's the way out,” the Doctor muttered as he was looking at the man who was facing away from them down the stairs. “I’m right?” he continued in Tony’s direction.

“Well yes, this is the most direct route. There are others, but we might run into trouble with some of Cobb’s friends.”

“Let me distract this one. I have picked up a few womanly wiles over the years,” Donna said with grin, eager to prove that she was as much as capable that the rest of them.

“Let's save your wiles for later. In case of emergency,” replied the Doctor, trying to somewhat hold back Donna, as Tony was looking amused beside them. “Let me handle it.”

“Like you handled it the last time? Sure! It worked so well,” Donna said sarcastically.

As they continued their disagreement, not realising they were going up and up in volume, they were suddenly stopped by a loud whistling, putting a stop to their bickering.

“Okay you can stop shouting, it’s done,” Said Rose with a smile as they turned around in a perfect unison, while nudging the unconscious guard with her foot just to be sure he wasn’t faking. “So we need to find something telling us where the Hath camp is.”

“They must all have a copy of that map I saw with Cobb,” said the Doctor, taking out his sonic screwdriver. “Just stay there,” he said, walking tall in front of Rose, trying desperately to regain the upper hand.

“Yeah right…” Rose replied, smiling with Donna who was probably two seconds away to bursting into laughter.

“Wait. This is it. The hidden tunnel. There must be a control panel,” said the Doctor, already in the other room, most probably to Tony who was the only one who had followed him. “I think it’s why you couldn’t know this. It’s clearly in a dead end for you and…”

“There’s another one of those numbers. They're everywhere,” said Donna, looking at one of the pillar in this new area, cutting off one of the Doctor’s infamous monologues.

“Well, the original builders must have left them. Some old cataloguing system,” he offered curious to why she was focusing on that of all things.

Donna turned to Rose, who was guarding the back door just in case. “You got a pen? Bit of paper? Because the numbers are counting down. This one ends in one four. The prison cell said one six.”

“Yeah sure wait…” She started to ruminage into her pocket, taking out a pen. “But I don’t have any paper. I usually just carry the basics on me these days.“

“I have some, Donna.” The Doctor fished something out of his pockets.

“One day I will want to know what you have exactly in those pockets.” Donna rolled her eyes while taking the paper.

“No you really don’t want to know,” Rose replied as she passed her head out of the door to keep an eyes on the stairs

Hey!” The Doctor glared at her, taking his head out of the map looking scandalized. “I said I was sorry about that! I didn’t even remember I had it!”

“Yeah and the fact you had a mouse trap in the first place was not weird at all,” snickered Rose as they started to smile to each other.

“He had what?” Said Donna horrified. “Ok, maybe I really don’t want to know.”

“Ahah! Found it!” called Tony in the background, his hands on two seperate parts of the wall, making them all turn around. “I think I have the control panel and the door!”

“Tony, you are a genius!” the Doctor enthused as the young man beamed. “Now give me just a minute…”

“So… You said that after you will stop the colonel you will leave. We are you going?” Tony asked shyly.

“I travel through time and space. Looking around at the different things.”

“He saves planets,” added Donna. “Rescues civilisations. Defeats terrible creatures. Runs a lot. Seriously, there's an outrageous amount of running involved.”

“I don’t think I ever had a better cardio than when I was travelling with the Doctor,” Rose thought to herself as she looked into space. Did she have better running time as a Torchwood agent or as an UNIT colonel? She will had to take out her few last running time to compare.

“Got it!” the Doctor said enthusiastically, high fiving Tony who was still besides him, making Donna and Rose smile as the door opened.

But the joyous atmosphere was cut short by the voice of Cobb and a few men reverbarting all around them, indicating they weren’t the only ones in this area.

“Time to run!” said Rose, pushing a still motionless Doctor and Donna into the hole made by the door opening.

They started to run. Going faster and faster, surprising even Rose as Donna outdistanced her without issue, following the Doctor, who was still running like his life depended on it. Not unusual at all if she thought about it.

She then realized as she looked at Tony, who was a little in front of her but was showing more signs of effort than the rest of them, that when she resumed her training regime, that she’ll need to drag her son with her. Because she was clearly out of shape compared to them.

After a few seconds however, she noticed that the Doctor had stopped running. After stopping short, and taking a brief glance around, she realized why: an array of laser beams was criss-crossing the passage. Making it impossible for them to pass without being fried to death.

“That's not mood lighting, is it?” asked Donna, the humor clearly more to relax the situation than anything else.

Without a word the Doctor rummaged around one of his pockets, taking out a clockwork mouse and tossing it into the lasers, causing it to instantly disintegrate.

“Wow! You really do have everything in those pockets,” Tony was more impressed by the Doctor rather than what he just saw. The Doctor of course responded by smiling broadly at Tony. Making Rose roll her eyes with a sigh. Soon she will have to separate them if this was going to cause a distraction.

“That’s clearly not good news,” Donna interjected, unaware of the mood around her. She started to have practice with the Doctor. If she survived him into one of his “Rose’s mood” she could override everything.

“Tony with me!” the Doctor commanded as he approached a blue box in a corner, clearly trying adopt the young man by any means possible.

But Rose was starting to be fed up with all this, and pushed her son in the other direction before he had time to make a move. “No, Tony check the corridor. I’m going in.” As the Doctor looked at her in surprise, she started to justify herself. “I have probably a better understanding of the electrical layout than him.”

“Since when?” asked the Doctor, his mouth going faster than his brain like always.

“There's more of these. Always eight numbers, counting down the closer we get,” said Donna before Rose had time to respond, trying to deescalate the situation before they started to shoot at each other again.

“I think I’m hearing the general,” Tony advised as he engaged his weapon, his demeanor going full soldier in a few seconds. He had the time to make a few steps before Rose realized what he was doing.

“And where do you think you are going, young man?” Rose asked icily, channeling her best impression of Jackie Tyler, making even the Doctor freeze in a somewhat forgotten preservation instinct.

The young man looked at her with big eyes, clearly not sure what he was supposed to do. “I can stall them.”

Rose walked in front of him, the blue box and laser already forgotten. “And getting yourself killed in the process? I don’t think so! I’m going,” She declared while taking out her weapon at the same time, her head already forming plan. She could use the machine gun that was a meter away.

But before she could even think about going in that direction, she was stopped by a surprising strong arm and a double “no!” coming from both the Doctor and Tony, who were looking at each other surprised.

“You cannot do that,” commanded the Doctor with a mullish expression on his face.

“And why not?” Rose shot back, her arms crossed, already annoyed with his tendency to shelter everyone who was not him.

He had a brief panicked look in his eyes before looking at her triumphantly. “Because Tony is better suited for that. He know better than us how they work!” She turned around, looking at Tony who was nodding with force. Obviously her son was firmly on ‘team Doctor’. She tried to have support from Donna, who immediately looked away, showing that she was not going get involved.

Rose sighed, knowing when she was outnumbered. “Ok, Tony you do it.” The Doctor and the young man exchanged a big smile. “But remember if you can. Don’t kill them.”

Tony put his hand on her shoulder in a sign of affection. Thus melting her annoyance a little. “I will just try to stall them until you disarm the laser. I promise.”

She nodded and returned to the blue box with the Doctor, who was already deep into it.

After a few seconds she started to hear an exchange of gunfire, and with her heart into her throat that she forced herself to not look. Praying to every deity he will be okay. “Okay do it!” said the Doctor with a last flourish of his sonic screwdriver just as the laser flickered out.

As Donna started to run into the corridor, the Doctor and Rose turned around as one and screamed “Tony let’s go!” before looking at each other with surprise, forgetting for a second where they were.

“Hurry up they are starting again!” screamed Donna, breaking the moment without hesitation. Making them run just in time to see the laser start up again, looking helplessly at Tony who was still exchanging fire with Cobb and his squad. “We needs to help him,” Rose said, her stress going up by the second as she looked at her son risking his life less than fifty meters away. She cursed her reflex to run after the Doctor instead of staying back and fighting alongside him.

“You're a child of the machine. You're on my side. Join us. Join us in the war against the Hath. It's in your blood, boy. Don't deny it.” She heard Cobb scream above the noise of the bullets.

But before she could do something foolish and run into the laser to go hit that man, Tony got up and aimed the machine gun in direction of the general, saying proudly, “I’m the son of Rose Tyler!” He then shot a hole in a steam pipe above Cobb, and turn around with a wild smile on his face.

“Run Tony!” screamed the Doctor, just as scared as Rose. “The circuit's almost finished looping back!”

But before Tony had time to run all the way back to the corridor, the laser were already up and running. This unfortunately cut off his only exit from Cobb, who was already trying to pass the hot steam obscuring his sight.

“Turn it off again!” Donna hollered, as the Doctor was trying desperately to stop Rose from jumping into the laser.

“We can’t leave him here!” Rose shrieked, her eyes bored into Tony’s, who was getting more anxious by the second. “I can’t abandon him!” She tried to the Doctor’s hold but he was too strong. Stronger than her, even now. But she was trying, not ready to see the son she just had disappear in front of her. She had to find another way. Because she was not sure to be strong enough to lose someone else. Not with all her emotions overflowing since she was back in the presence of the Doctor.

“The controls are back there, I cannot do anything from here,” the Doctor answered with a strangled voice, his heart breaking under the situation. Seeing Rose like this was one of the hardest thing he ever witnessed. And knowing that he couldn’t do anything, only watching the bright young man he liked so much be presumably lost to them was devastating. But he had to be strong for Rose. He could do as much for her.

“Go without me!” Tony called while looking behind him as Cobb and the rest of his men was finally moving towards him. “You have to go!” he continued, trying to stay brave for them, but the fear was still clearly in his eyes.

“Not without you!” replied Rose who had stopped struggling, tears running down her face. All trace of fight had deserted her, too heavy under her emotions. As the Doctor was murmuring “I'm sorry, I’m so sorry…” into her hair, trying to comfort her at the best he could do without much success.

As Cobb was only a few meters away, the face of Tony changed suddenly from scared to determined, making them all pause for a second. He looked briefly at Cobb before taking a huge inspiration, and without a second to waste, threw away the weapon and ran. Before their amazed eyes he suddenly flew into the laser, crossing over by doing somersaults between the beams, as if he’s done so his entire life. He dodged every single one of them before landing in front of Rose and the Doctor.

Donna looked at him with an amazed look. “No way. That was impossible,” she said with a sort of reverence.

Rose, who had been released by the Doctor was too busy hugging the life out of Tony, who was laughing madly to say anything.

“Not impossible. Just a bit unlikely. Brilliant! You were brilliant. Brilliant,” said the Doctor who smiled like a mad man. He turned to Rose, who was still clutching to her son. “No DNA test needed! He clearly inherited your gymnastic prowess!” Rose laughed at that, still under the rollercoaster of emotions she just felt.

Tony smiled at the Doctor over Rose shoulder. “I couldn’t let you go on without me. I still have a spaceship to see.”

But the moment was broken by the sound of of Cobb screaming “At arms!” behind them, making Rose jump instantanely in front of Donna and Tony.

The Doctor advanced threatenly, trying his best to conceal the rest of the group, at the annoyance of Rose, who had to push back her son who wanted to follow his new best friend.

“I warned you, Cobb. If the Source is a weapon, I'm going to make sure you never use it,” he said with defiance, letting them all know that their second chance was dangerously close to being squandered on almost killing Tony.

But his only response was a smiling Cobb. “One of us is going to die today, and it won't be me.” But before he had time to order his men to fire, the little group had already run away into one of the corridor, gaining distance once again.

Chapter Text

After a few minutes of running in a tense silence, and the distance between themselves and Cobb and his men growing by the minute, they finally began to relax enough to slow down. Which Tony, who was getting winded by the sprint, was all too happy join in.

“So, are you all travelling together?” Tony asked, partly out of curiosity and partially to cut the tension.

“First of all, don’t ever scare me again like that again!” Rose ordered as she spun on her heel and punched Tony in the arm, making him jump in a combinations of surprise and pain. “And if you do it again, you’re grounded for the next ten years! Are we clear?”

Tony acquiesced with surprised eyes, exchanging a frightened look with the Doctor, who was nervous that he was next on Rose’s list. But he was saved by an amused Donna.

“Just me and the Doctor. I only met Rose yesterday. But the Doctor and her used to travel together. As did Martha at one point.”

“Oh!” He said surprised before turning to Rose. “Why did you stop?”

Rose had a nervous smile, looking all around her except for the Doctor, who was looking at the ceiling with a somber mood. “Let’s just say that at first, it wasn’t really by choice. And after...Well it’s not really the kind of story you can tell while running away from bad guys…”

Tony nodded for a few seconds before looking at Donna brightly. “Can I come with you after? I want to see other planets and the things you talked about!”

“Of course you can come!” enthused Rose and the Doctor before looking at each other surprised by their simultaneous outburst. This made Donna laugh so hard she had to stop and lean onto the wall to not fall over, making them all stop as they looked at her with different degree of surprise.

“You’ll have to share custody! That’s hilarious.” She laughed louder. “So what are you gonna do? One week in the TARDIS then one week at UNIT? If you do that, I will pay big money to see that.”

“Don’t be silly Donna,” said the Doctor annoyed. “We let Tony chose.” But his response only made Donna continue to laugh. “Human sometimes I swear…” he muttered.

Rose rolled her eyes at his remark, like he was any better than them. “Tony is an adult, well technically, If he wants to come with one of us, then that doesn’t mean he won’t have a means to contact the other. Yes, I will be going back to UNIT after we’re finished here.” She pretended to not see the wounded look on the Doctor face at her announcement. “But if Tony wants to travel a little with the Doctor that’s fine. That’s why mobiles exist. As long as I can see him from time to time.” She smiled fondly at her son. “I just want him to be happy.”

And that’s she could ever want for him. And if that meant see him leave for some time with the Doctor, well she could accept and support that. She already loved Tony deeply, but she was nowhere ready to be a full-time mom, nor have someone depending on her for a long period of time. She still sometimes had difficulty tending for herself correctly. Seeing the state of her life right now, and what she was supposed to do, it was probably for the best for the Doctor to stay with Tony. He could teach and protect him. And she could still arrange to see him enough to keep an eyes on him. Just in case what she thought would could happen in the future came to fruition.

“What is it like going to other planets?” asked Tony, his head already in the stars, making Rose tear up a little. He really looked like her when she was younger. Always dreaming big, and she was so happy that nobody will tell him otherwise. He’ll get dream all he wants, and go as far he wanted to go. And just like for her, it was the Doctor who will make the dreams real. Like mother like son in an ironic way.

“Oh, never a dull moment. It can be terrifying, brilliant and funny, sometimes all at the same time. And a lot of time running. It’s like we never stop sometimes,” said Donna, her full attention on Tony and his eyes full of dreams. “You’ll love it!”

“We’re not always running!” the Doctor protested. “It’s just the bit in between.” He started to scratch his chin. “Well…okay lot of bit in between...But I swear that’s not not my intention most of the time.”

“Yeah right,” Donna snorted. “Hey Donna, let’s take tea in this gorgeous planet. I swear they’re peaceful! And then not even half an hour later, I’m trying to depose a murderous tyrant while trying not to be ran over by that beanpole on a bicycle.”

“Hey it was one time!” protested the Doctor as they started to bicker over their accounts of the event while Tony’s head bobbed like he was watching a tennis match.

Rose smiled as she observed the three. She was so happy that he had Donna. They seemed to go on like a house on fire. She started to move forward, deciding to let them have their fun until they realize that she was advancing. But her peace did not hold for long as she realized not even ten meters in front of her a piece of the wall was starting to crumble under the pressure of an heavy object, making her realize that Cobb had probably decided on another route. She ran in the other direction, just as the wall was blasted away, passing her three others companion who looked around surprised.

“They've blasted through the beams!” She screamed. “Time to move!”

“Great! Love the running!” the Doctor said happily, while following her as Donna and Tony were going full blast beside him. But they were not running very far as they were suddenly in front of a dead end.

“We're trapped,” said Donna as Rose was hitting the wall at different place, hoping to open what was visibly a closed door.

“Can't be! This must be the Temple door,” continued the Doctor, standing next to Rose with his sonic screwdriver.

Donna was the only one still looking around, as Tony had started to help the other two. “And again, we're down to one two now,” she said distractly while looking at the number.

The Doctor jumped a little as the door started to make a sound. “I think I’ve got it!”

Rose threw a nervous look behind her as the sound of Cobb was coming closer and closer. “Yeah, but now would be better!”

“I’m nearly done,” he replied, his attention fully on the door which was making more and more sound.

Donna touched one of the numbers. “These can't be a cataloguing system,” she muttered more for herself than the others.

“Got it!” screamed the Doctor, just as Rose and Tony finished forcing open the door, letting them finally escape.

“Woah that was close!” Tony exclaimed just as the Doctor closed the door on Cobb and his men.

The Doctor smiled in his direction. “Not fun otherwise.” But the only response he gained was a hit on the shoulder by Rose. He turned a wounded look to Donna, but the woman was too busy looking around to see what happened.

“It's not what I'd call a temple,” Donna observed with a clearly impressed tone.

Rose examined one of the walls, touching the machinery closely and turned a curious look to the Doctor who was sonicing another part. “More like a spaceship, no?”

He nodded absently. “Fusion drive transport more exactly.”

“What, like the original one? The one the first colonists arrived in?” asked Donna.

The Doctor shrugged as he couldn’t really be sure. “Well, it could be. But the power cells would have run down after a while. This one is still powered-up and functioning.” He pushed Tony in the direction of the stairs. “Come on.”

As they headed up a flight of stairs, they realized that someone was cutting their way through another door.

“I think it’s the Hath,” said Tony with a highly concerned look. “That door is not going to last much longer. And if General Cobb gets through, war will break out.” He exchanged a worried look with Rose this time, but as he turned to ask the Doctor something, he realized that the man was nowhere to be found.

“ Look, look, look, look, look. Ship's log.” They heard the Doctor calling from another part of the spaceship. When they joined him, he was looking at a screen displaying what looked like some sort of official report.

“Messaline Leader One mission log designation XG2482942-372” He started to read while Rose was looking over his shoulder.

“So this was the original ship. I wonder what happened?” Donna mused.

The Doctor signed. “Phase one: Construction. They used robot drones to build the city.”

As Rose was reading, she didn’t see anything about what she was the most interested in. “Nothing on the war...”

“Wait…” said the Doctor, before turning page for a few seconds, using his speed reading to search for what was interesting Rose the most, all while Tony began to look around, interested at was basically his history. “Ah found it! look!” The Doctor showed Rose part of the document, while reading it aloud for Donna, who was behind them and visibly becoming more frustrated by the second. “Mission commander dead. Still no agreement on who should assume leadership. Hath and humans have divided into factions. That must be it. A power vacuum. The crew divided into two factions and turned on each other. Start using the progenation machines, and suddenly you've got two armies fighting a never-ending war.”

“And now they’re both outside,” Tony warned while still touching and probing everything. Something that reminded Rose of the Doctor with fondness. How many times did she have to stop him touching everything and starting a diplomatic incident? She wondered if it’s was something that changed.

“Oh look at that!” exclaimed Donna as a number was being lit by the screen showing the whole planet.

The Doctor dismissed it with a wave, too busy trying to decipher the different volumes around him. “Yeah it's like the numbers in the tunnels.”

She frowned, gesticulating in excitement. “No, no, no, no. Listen, I spent six months working as a temp in Hounslow Library, and I mastered the Dewey Decimal System in two days flat. I'm good with numbers. It's staring us in the face.”

“What do you mean?” asked Rose with curiosity, lifting her head from the book she was immersed in.

“It's the date,” Donna answered smiling more and more. “Assuming the first two numbers are some big old space date, then you've got year, month, day. It's the other way round, like it is in America.”

“Oh!” the Doctor screamed, making everyone jump in surprise. “It's the New Byzantine Calendar.”

“The codes are completion dates for each section.” Donna was now looking more and more excited, jumping on what the Doctor was saying, making him smile more like a madman by the second. “They finish it, they stamp the date on. So the numbers aren't counting down, they're going out from here, day by day, as the city got built.”

“Yes. Oh, good work, Donna.” The Doctor had a pleased expression, even if Rose had didn’t really followed what happened. And at the face of Tony she was not the only one.

But the redhead was not finished. “Yeah. But you're still not getting it. The first number I saw back there, was sixty twelve oh seven seventeen. Well, look at the date today.”

“Oh seven twenty four.” The Doctor shook his head in pure disbelief. “No.”

“Ok, can someone explain what’s going on to those in the room who don’t know what you’re talking about?” asked Tony with Rose nodding in the background.

The face of the Doctor dropped, becoming somber by the second. “Seven days.”

“That’s it. Just seven days,” Donna echoed him in a manner of confirmation.

Rose rolled her eyes. She was seriously fed up with all the mystery. Would it kill someone to be straightforward sometimes? “And what exactly do you mean by seven days?”

“Seven days since war broke out,” the Doctor answered simply. “This war started seven days ago. Just a week. A week!”

Tony frowned, sitting down on of the nearby boxes. “No, that’s not possible. They told us years.”

“No, they said generations,” Donna answered gently. “And if they're all like you, and they're products of those machines.”

“They could have twenty generations in a day. Each generation gets killed in the war, passes on the legend,” commented the Doctor, not really looking at anything, already calculating something in his head. “Donna, you're a genius.” This made Donna smile proudly.

“But…” Rose was confused. She specifically remembered the antiquated look of the machinery when they pushed her arm in. “Everything is in ruin.”

“No, they're not ruined,” replied the Doctor as he took out his specs already getting into his ‘teacher mode’. “They're just empty. Waiting to be populated. Oh, they've mythologised their entire history. The Source must be part of that too.” He helped Tony get up and nudged Donna. “Come on.”

They began to walk in silence, everyone mulling over the revelation before literally running into Martha as they were turning a corner. They looked at each other in surprise for a few seconds before Martha jumped into the Doctor’s embrace.

“Doctor!” she exclaimed, happy to be reunited with her friends.

“Martha!” the Doctor squealed with delight while returning her hug with happiness. “Oh, I should have known you wouldn't stay away from the excitement.”

“Martha!” Rose nudged the Doctor - who protested loudly about who was being the rude one this time - out of the way. She hugged Martha, happy to see her alive. “Oh god I’m so happy to see you! I was so anxious when I didn’t see you after the dust cleared.”

Martha smiled fondly, touched by Rose’s concern. “I was okay, don’t worry.”

“Oh, you're filthy. What happened?” asked Donna as Rose stepped back.

Martha shrugged. “I, er, took the surface route.”

The only person not really approaching Martha was Tony, preferring to stay in the background, not really sure about what he was supposed to do in this situation. But he still smiled at Rose, who looked at him with a slight motherly concern when she realized that he was not beside them.

But the moment was broken when multiple shots and screams were heard from behind the wall, indicating that the confrontation was well on its way.

“So...Time to stop a war?” Rose asked cheekily to the Doctor, who only smiled in response, taking her hand as a sure gesture. And just like that, they started running just like old times.

They were waiting for war and horror, but were surprised to drop in a middle of vast space filled with flower and life, making them all stop in surprise.

“Wow that’s...Beautiful!” Tony said reverently as he looked around in fascination. Overwhelmed by all the beauty around him. And Rose could only wordlessly agree with him as she brushed a few flowers.

“Is that the Source?” asked Donna as she walked up to a glowing globe on a pedestal with wires running to it.

“What is this place?” Martha asked as she looked around curiously.

The Doctor took out his sonic and guided all around the globe Donna was trying not to touch. “Terraforming. It's a third generation terraforming device,” he said while deciphering the reading of the sonic.

Donna opened her mouth to finish asking her earlier question, but she was interrupted by the Hath and the soldiers running in from opposite sides trapping them in the middle of the conflict.

“Stop! Hold your fire!” the Doctor commanded, jumping in front of a startled Donna as the rest of the group gathered around them ready for a fight. Especially Tony and Rose, who had her weapon out.

But Cobb didn’t care about the Doctor’s pleading as his weapon was still directed in the Hath’s direction. “What is this, some kind of trap?” he asked with venom in his voice.

“You said you wanted this war over,” answered the Doctor with his head held high. Like everytime he was sure he had won. And that only increased Rose’s anxious state, as she knew how that ended most of the time.

And she was right to be worried, as Cobb was clearly not in a peaceful mode. “I want this war won,” he spat, his weapon now aimed directly at the Doctor, making Rose and Tony instantly move aside to try and protect him. But the Doctor only pushed them aside, taking a step forward, a speech already on his lips.

“You can't win,” he began passionately. “No one can. You don't even know why you're here. Your whole history, it's just Chinese whispers, getting more distorted the more it's passed on.” He moved around, trying to touch as much people as possible, fully immersed in his role. “This is the Source.” He pointed to the globe. “This is what you're fighting over. A device to rejuvenate a planet's ecosystem. It's nothing mystical. It's from a laboratory, not some creator. It's a bubble of gases. A cocktail of stuff for accelerated evolution.”

Rose looked around, realizing it was working as more and more people were starting to lower their weapons. Even their group, who knew the Doctor and what he was capable of, were enthralled by his words, making her have faith once again that this would end well.

“Methane. Hydrogen. Ammonia. Amino acids. Proteins. Nucleic acids. It's used to make barren planets habitable. Look around you. It's not for killing, it's bringing life. If you allow it, it can lift you out of these dark tunnels and into the bright, bright sunlight. No more fighting, no more killing.” And after a few seconds of silence, as everyone was looking at the life around them, he took out the globe and smiled. “ I'm the Doctor, and I declare this war is over.” Then without another word, he throwed the globe onto the floor where it exploded and released gas and energy.

As everyone watched it slowly rise up, they started to put down their weapons one by one, fascinated by the ballet around them. All except Cobb.

“What’s happening?” Tony asked as he stood beside the Doctor, looking with a childlike delight as the different light and movement.

The Doctor smiled at him, then his eyes found Rose’s eyes who was radiating happiness. “The gases will escape and trigger the terraforming process.”

“And what does that mean?” Tony inquired.

He looked at Donna who was amusing herself with one of the particule, and then to Martha who was laughing with one of the Hath and felt peace for the first time in a long time. “It means a new World.”

Rose and the Doctor were looking at each other once again, soft looks in each of their eyes, soaking in the brief happiness, when the Doctor was suddenly pushed aside by a blur. As he hit the ground hard, he heard the unmistakable sound of a bullet being shot from someone’s weapon and felt his blood ran cold.

Rose had heard a grunt, realizing what happened just as she saw the second body crumbling into himself. He seemed to hit the floor in the slowest motion possible, his blood already spilling into the soil.

“TONY NO!” She screamed in horror.

Chapter Text

chapter 13:

Rose fell to her knees beside Tony after rushing as his side as soon as she had screamed his name, the rest of the world already forgotten. Her vision only focused on her son, who was lying in his own pool of blood. 

She touched him everywhere, trying in her panic to stop the blood flow that wouldn’t stop, completely frozen by the fact that her son was motionless in front of her. Logic told her that there was no hope for Tony. However in that moment she was a mother trying to save her child, not the soldier always cold under the pressure that UNIT knew so well. “Tony! Oh my god, Tony! Talk to me!” she ordered in a tortured voice, her hands pushing harder on his shoulder, the point of impact if the blood stains were any indication. 

Tony suddenly coughed, his whole body jerking up as the adrenaline started to kick in under the pain. “Bloody hell that hurt!” he complained with a grimace. He tried weakly to look in direction of the injury but movement in that area was too painful for him. 

“Langage,” Rose admonished with humor, but all too happy to hear his voice and see him moving, even if he was in complete agony in doing so.

“Is the Doctor okay?” Tony asked with innocent eyes, making Rose chuckle brokenly as she brushed his face with gentleness. Her son, too much like her, his heart already on his sleeve and ready to put his life on the line for the Doctor. How could she have doubted even for one second he was not hers?

“I’m okay, Tony,” the Doctor assured him with a weak yet relieved smile, his face appearing beside Rose. They exchanged a look before focusing again on the man in front of them. “How are you feeling?” He had sonic out already while scanning him at the same time. Worry visible is his eyes. Making the brief relief Rose had felt at seeing him disappear instantly.

“Not so good…” Tony answered, his face losing color by the second, even with the sonic working on his shoulder. 

Rose cradled his head in her hands, locking her eyes onto him. “Be strong, my boy. You still have so much to see and learn! You’ll be the greatest I’m sure! Running from star to star, laughing at everything and making me proud. You can’t miss that can you?” She knew she was crying, but how could she not when her son was fading with each passing moment.

“You clearly inherited Rose obstinate nature. And combined with my TARDIS, I’m sure you will be unstoppable!” continued the Doctor, working endlessly on his wound, smiling brightly at his new friend. “It’s in your genes to be the stuff of legend! Just like your mum! Did I told you about the time when she had overrun the King of the planet Helroz three by accident, and declared planetary peace who lasted for hundred of years without realizing it?” His emotions was showing more and more as the smile on Tony’s face dropped. 

“No, but I would love to hear about it,” Tony answered weakly, his face looking ashen. “Oh that’s beautiful!” he continued with wonder as nature was growing and spreading all around him. 

“Yes.” Rose was crying openly, smiling broadly to him as she was feeling her heart break and her soul scream in agony. But she needed to be strong for him. Sending him force with all her being, trying to make a difference in the inevitable outcome she was seeing right now. She knew that the Doctor was doing his best. But she also knew that sometimes it wasn’t enough. “And you can’t miss that, right? You need to see the beauty that the planet will become. Terraforming, it’s an one time experience and you don’t want to miss that!”

“Well, technically with the TARDIS you can,” the Doctor tried to make a joke, wanting above all to keep Tony awake, and to focus on something to keep him from letting his frustrations loose on the world around him. Today was not the day that he would lose this precious life. 

“See? So you need to hold on,” Rose plead, but to her horror she Tony’s body going limp on her. “Tony? You hear me?” She shook him, without result. “...Tony?” She said, her voice breaking on his name. But she was suddenly pushed aside by Martha, who had been looking helplessly on the side until then. 

“He’s going into shock!” Martha declared. “We need to stabilize him!” She was now only focused on the person in front of her. Determined for him to leave with them alive and well. Because she knew at the moment that she could save four hearts today, or break them all. And that was not an option, not after everything that happened.

“I think one of the arteries had been hit, but I’m not totally sure. I tried to stop the bleeding and clot everything with my sonic. But I think the bullet is still inside,” said the Doctor, visibly living to his name and wanting to staying that way.

But Rose was not listening to the conversation anymore, because all she could see was the blood. She could see it everywhere and on anyone, coating her field of view and invaded her mind, waking the beast inside her. The smell of blood was deep into her nostrils, making her dizzy with the sudden urge to run and howl. The old Rose would have been terrified by what’s inside her mind at the moment, running to the Doctor to stop it before it happened. If she had still been at UNIT, she would have isolated herself to focus on every trick she had learned during the years. But right now? Right now her limit had been pushed. So far and so deep she could not even see the line anymore. All she could see was the man responsible for what was becoming her personal tragedy. The man who wanted war so badly that peace was treated like a disease. The man who shot an innocent man, just to be sure to taint the innocent beauty around him. All just to prove that he could. But she would show him that he was not the only one ready to shed blood for poetic gesture.

She turned her eyes to him, an ominous smirk appearing on her face. Her whole body now focused on him, ready to torn it to piece if she wanted. She knew her power and what was trying to unleash inside her. She had made peace with it a long time ago, knowing how to reign it most of the time. But today, compassion and empathy dissolved like dust into the wind.  

If the Doctor had not been so strongly focused on Tony, he would had been horrified by what she was. She was definitely not the Rose who had shown love to a dying Dalek. That part of her, that innocence had died a long time ago. But right now, the turmoil which was taking over Rose Tyler was clearly not noticeable to the Doctor, who was trying his very best to save the life of young Tony. Later, much later, he would see it as the occasion that triggered the unstoppable chain of events that changed the universe itself. And he would forever regret not seeing the obvious signs in front of him before hell broke loose. 

But right now Rose was still fighting the war inside herself. And she was able to see fear in the eyes of the general in the split second before she was on him, her weapon drawn and ready to shoot. She had took everyone by surprise. She moved so rapidly that nobody had saw her advancing on him. Before he even had time to take a breath, she had him pinned against the wall with such a determination that he could not have moved even if he tried, not without struggle at least. 

“Give me one reason not to kill you,” Rose said in a voice so cold and distant that the few men around them took a few steps back. 

“Because you want peace,” Cobb answered with a smirk. In his arrogance, he was neglecting to realize that she was giving him a chance at mercy, and he was spatting it in her face. “You are just a pathetic pacifist without any ounce of fight inside her.”  

“Don’t push me,” Rose growled, her body going tense under the pressure of the warfare in her mind. She knew she could kill him right in that instant. With her bare hand if needed. But she was totally uncertain of the casualty if her control slipped with that level of emotions inside her. She still had nightmares of the last time it happened. 

Cobb continued to smirk, always arrogant until the end. Determined not to show emotions in front of his men. “I could have killed you. I could have let you rot like the dog you are.” At that Rose pushed her weapon with more force into his chin, struggling hard to keep the control. Letting Cobb think she was showing sign of weakness, making him hit as hard he could in his cockiness. “You are just lucky I was merciful. But then one day you will find a fish much bigger than you. And then you will finish your pathetic son. Dead in a ditch.”  

Rose knew it was all for show. That he only wanted to have the last word before he accepted whatever fate planned for him. She had saw the fear in his eyes and the uncertainty around him. But all she could see was Tony, fighting for his life when this man didn’t have any ounce of remorse. She tried, she had really tried to resist, and to be the better better person.

But now she knew it was too late. The angered beast had broken free, and she would not risk her sanity for him. And in a blink of an eye, she was Rose no more. Her weapon fell on the ground, suddenly useless, as she grabbed his neck with force. She pushed him up the wall with such a force that he had to stay on his tiptoe to avoid choking. Upon witnessing this everyone had scattered a few meters back, afraid of the vibes coming off of Rose.

As soon as she felt the switch in her, the wolf unfurling claw by claw, the man who had glanced around cockily until then started to look terrified. Eventually losing enough color that he was white a sheet.  

“What are you?” he croaked out miserably, as she was smiling gleefully enjoying the sheer terror about him. 

“She wanted to show you mercy, even after you tried to harm those precious to her. Even after you would not repent your sins against the innocent.” Rose’s voice changed just then, mirroring the change within her body. “I am the one you should never wake…” She growled, “you don’t know when to stop pushing, do you?” Her head tilted to the side, as if she were pondering something. “She’s not one to kill without very good reason you know. She tried her very best to stop me, but you broke every limit.” She smiled ferally, making the colonel thrash around more forcefully, trying his very best to escape this nightmare, his eyes going crazy under the fear. “Congratulations. You’re the first one in...so so long…” She tightened her grip around his neck, making Cobb give off strangled puffs of air as he was slowly going limp. 

“Rose!” She could hear from far away. “Rose no!” she heard the voice again, going at her like she was immerged underwater. But all she could see was the man in front of her, but slightly blurry, as if she was observing from behind a glass. A spectator in her own body. She was completely detached from that reality, and she didn’t even really care. Around her was a vast of nothingness. “Martha! I need you to get her! Donna, please calm everyone!” The voice was still screaming, but she couldn’t understand why. It was so peaceful. Seeing the light going gradually dimmer seemed so normal to her at that moment. 

But her thoughts and placidness were abruptly shattered by the sudden apparition of Martha who was grabbing her, trying her best to make her release her grip on Cobb, screaming into her ear to drop him. She felt herself turn her head and the vision of a Martha looking very frightened of her, shook her enough to make her snap her out of the state she was in. As soon as she felt herself, she dropped Cobb with horror, who collapsed with laboured breath. She took a few step back, completely horrified about what happened.

But before she could even start to think about the fact that “she” was ready to once again take a life without remorse, she was suddenly in very strong pair of arms. Arms who belonged to a Doctor visibly divided between clear rage and intense worry. 

“What were you trying to accomplish Rose?!” he asked in a voice lined with fury, his eyes going so hard she could almost see her other Doctor in one of his fits of anger. 

“I...I…” she stammered, still shaken by what happened. “I don’t know.” She looked around, and realized how far back the others stood. Were they were also afraid of her? She almost began sobbing then and there, still not totally sure of the damage she had done. “Tell me I didn’t kill anyone?” she begged, her stare full of unleashed tears, making him waver.

He let her out of his arms, making her falter for a second. “No. You just let out your anger out on Cobb, but he will live. He needs a little time to recover but no lasting effect as far as I can tell.”

She searched around frantically. “Oh my god! Tony! Where is he?”

“He is going to live. We were able to stabilize him and stop most of his bleeding. That’s why I sent Martha over to you. I needed a little more time to lock the bullet in place. Just enough to let me stabilize him enough to have him moved to the TARDIS to take it out.” He rubbed at his eyes, his whole body screaming guilt. “I should have been the one to take this bullet.”

“No!” Rose replied with fervor, making him look at her with surprise. “No one should have had to take that bullet.” Especially not the Doctor in her opinion. If it had been him and he would have ended up having to regenerate. She was not sure if the place would have been left standing. 

“You almost killed a man, Rose.” He started to pace around, nervously agitating his hands around, making her slightly dizzy. “I know you love Tony. I love him too. But if Martha had not stopped you…” He stopped and looked her directly in the eyes, with such helplessness she wanted to cry. Or scream. “You would have watched him die. Rose you almost murdered a man in cold blood. I know you’re better than that!”

“I know!” Rose screamed, making everyone jump a few feet in the air. Except for the Doctor, who was still unflappable and wrapped around his indignity. Making her shake with anger. As if he had been better than her. “Yes I know! And do you think I’m proud of this? Yes, I lost control! Do you want me to promise that it will never happen again?” She saw the brief glimpse of hope in his gaze. But she was not one to feed empty promises. “No I can’t. Because I don’t even know myself! It’s who I am now Doctor. Like I told you, i’m not the Rose you knew.  You have to understand that.” She felt her shoulder slump, and she was tired beyond words. She was still very afraid for Tony, horrified about what happened and with the Doctor still stuck in the past. She just wanted to go home. She turned around, not wanting to fight with him anymore but she was stopped by a gentle hand in his arm, pleading silently to look at him. Just one last time. 

As she met his gaze, she saw a new determination on him. 

“Maybe you are not that Rose Tyler anymore… And I’m beginning to see that.” He sighed, pushing his hands through his hair with a resigned face. “I cannot say that it’s not something I’m happy about, because I’m not. And with you going…” She turned her face around, not wanting to see his stare at the moment. “We don’t have much time right this moment, can we can still talk later?” 

“Yes, we can still talk. But you still want the old Rose back, I understand that, but I don’t know if I can give it to you. You’ve seen what happened. I lost control and almost murdered someone. You don’t need someone like that with you. Even if for a few days.” She was resigned to her fate, to go back to her life and isolate herself from everyone. Just like before. And maybe this time she will be stable enough to complete her mission without breaking down at the sight of the Doctor.

“It’s your choice Rose,” he murmured before turning his back to her. “I’m going back to Tony, I think they had enough time to move him to the TARDIS now.” He threw her one last smile, visibly trying his best to make her think he was alright. “If you change your mind, you know where to find me.” And then just like that, he was gone.

As she started to break down, having waiting to be alone for that, she felt a presence beside her, making her turn around suddenly. Her whole body ready to fight, because the last time she had lost control like that, the aftermath had not been pretty. But it was only Donna, who looked at her with kind eyes and an inviting smile. 

“Why are you not afraid?” asked Rose, surprised to see someone wanting to be beside her voluntary.

“I’ve seen way worse, blondie.” she responded with humor. “And I think that right now what you need is a friend.” And then she sat down beside her, showing her that she was not going anywhere. She didn’t say anything but for Rose it was more than enough. Maybe she was not the total monster she thought she was. 

The Doctor on the other hand was more than conflicted. He abhorred violence, and killing was something he avoided at all cost. Seeing Rose so cold and so careless with a life was a real turning point for him. He had hoped since he had lay eyes on her again that they could maybe have something again. Just like before. He was so certain his Rose was not far from the surface. But how could someone so full of life and empathic change that much? It was impossible for him. But then, this happened. He really wanted to give her a chance, especially when she seemed so broken and dejected. But he was not sure he could see past her hand around the Cobb’s neck, ready to see him die at her feet.  

Rose Tyler was someone from the past. And effectively maybe the best course of action should be let her be and move on. But deep inside him was still that man who needed her oh so badly, he was ready to die without her. And right now? He was not certain who was winning in this fight.

Chapter Text

Chapter 14

“You know you’ll have to talk eventually…” Donna said as Rose was still staring at the wall. She had not moved for almost one hour, worrying Donna to no end.

Donna had tried to be understanding and let her have space, but now the silence was starting to be really concerning. To her, Rose looked just like the Doctor when he was in one of his very dark moods. Which was not something to take lightly. The last time she made that mistake, she almost lost her best friend before she had time to know him. And she would not repeat that mistake again. Even if she had to open old wound again, it was for a friend’s sake.

“I understand what you’re feeling right now, Rose. When my dad had his heart attack...The agonizingly slow wait for news... It was the worst, and I honestly thought I would go crazy,” she swallowed hard at the memories. “You can’t do anything run everything through your head over and over again.” For a moment she was back in that little privacy room. “What you could have done to prevent it. Saying to yourself ‘what if’ over and over again until you drive yourself mad.” She felt her voice crack on the last word. Memories of her mother wailing into her aunt’s arms as the Doctor informed them that they could not do anything more. The scent of sickness all around her, and then the sudden numbness when she realized that she would never see her dad again.

As she was trying not to lose herself to that day again, she saw that Rose had finally moved, looking at her with such sad ancient eyes she felt the weight of old tear in her soul. “I thought I would go crazy not knowing. And I probably would had if not for my grandad.” She smiled weakly to Rose, who was still looking at her in silence. Showing her support by just being there. “I’m sure you would love him, he’s such a silly old man.” She chuckled, more at the memory of Wilf than anything else. “If not for him, I don’t know where I would be. Or my mom.”

Rose finally stood and sat beside Donna, making sure that she was listening. “I lost my dad, but your son is still alive. And knowing the Doctor, he will do everything he could to keep it stay that way. Yes, you did something not really pretty, and your anger was pretty terrifying.” Rose looked away in guilt at Donna’s words, but Donna was having none of that. “But we all did some things back there that we’re not proud of. But that’s life.” Rose started to open her mouth to respond, but before she could say something, approaching footsteps behind them made her suddenly turn around and jump to her feet making Donna turn around at Rose’s actions.

“Well?” Rose asked anxiously over Donna’s shoulder, making the redhead realize that Martha had entered without her noticing it.

Martha gave them an exhausted smile. “He is going to live,” she promised with a rejoiceful voice. “The Doctor is still with him, but I wanted to tell you the good news.” She just had time to finish her sentence before being brutally hugged by a sniffling Rose.

“I knew that man would do something good!” Said proudly Donna, visibly so happy for her friend.
“Oh Donna, the Doctor asked me to have you go back to the TARDIS! He needs you for something,” Martha said over Rose’s shoulder, who was still hugging her very tightly. She saw Donna hesitate, looking at Rose with indecision. “Don’t worry, I’ll take care of her,” she mouthed, making Donna relax and smile. She nodded one last time, and with a pat on Rose’s shoulder, she left for the Tardis. Leaving her two friends alone.

After a few seconds, Rose disentangled herself from Martha with an embarrassed shrug. “Sorry...I was a little emotional.”

Martha shrugged as well. “Don’t worry, I totally understand. I can imagine it was stressful for you.” She smiled reassuringly. “But the Doctor told Tony that he was going to be completely okay in a couple of days. He is going to be groggy for a couple of hours, and his shoulder will be a little tender. But there’s going to be no after effects.”

Rose eyes widened, her whole body going rigid, ready to bolt towards the TARDIS. “Tony is awake?” But before she had time to move away, Martha was grabbing her, urging her to not run away.

“No wait, I need to talk to you!” Martha saw the look of uncertainty in Rose’s eyes, making Martha realize that Rose was not her friend at the moment but Tony’s mom. “I swear Tony is doing good, but the Doctor still needs a few minutes to finish with him. Just stay with me a little, and then I swear I’m going to take you to the TARDIS, and let you see your son.”

Rose relaxed, but still looked at Martha with a touch of skepticism, not really sure on what she wanted to talk about so desperately. She really hoped that Martha would not ask questions about what happened earlier, because she was not really sure she wanted to talk about it. Especially not if she would be talking to the Doctor later about the very same thing. “Okay… What about?”

Martha sat on one of the broken low walls, patting the spot next to her in invitation. After a few seconds of hesitation, Rose finally joined her. “I know it seems a little weird for you, but I know what will happen if I don’t do anything.” She sighed as Rose looked at her curiously at that comment. “If I don’t say anything then nothing will change, and when this is all over you’ll go back to UNIT as some mysterious soldier going all around the world. I’m going to be the doctor who dreamed of stars and the Doctor… Well the Doctor…” She looked pensively at the ceiling where a few traces of glowing energy were still visible. “He’ll continue on living, bickering with Donna and showing the universe to Tony. Life will go on. Maybe one day you two will cross paths again. Who knows? Especially with Tony on team TARDIS? But one thing is certain...”

“What?” Rose asked, although she was sure she knew the response already.

Martha looked at her with so much sadness, Rose had to look away. “You’ll both end up so miserable, but so stubbornly sure each is doing the right thing that it’s going to drive you away from each other again and again until only memories are left. And I can’t do that to you, and even less to the Doctor, not after what I had to see him go through,” Martha finished with a determined voice.

Rose looked at Martha with curiosity. “What do you mean?”

“I travelled with him for almost two years, three if you count the year that never was. The first thing he talked about when I first crossed the door of the TARDIS was you. I didn’t even knew if that ship had room but I already knew your name. And then he showed me the wonders of the universe. But you were still there somewhere, always in the front of his mind. I would ask him something and he would talk about you. Travelling with him was like travelling with a ghost, I was hardly second best for him. Because you were everywhere with us, it was like I was transparent for him. You know how hard it is to see so much wonder, and realize that he would trade everything in an heartbeat to be there with someone else?” She rubbed her eyes tiredly. “Even when he forgot who he was all he could think was you.”

“I’m sorry,” Rose answered softly. She didn’t know what to say honestly. “I didn’t go by choice you know.”

Martha gave a small humorless chuckle. “I know, don’t worry. Even the Master knew. But my point is: you can’t just leave like that. Not if it means seeing him slip back into his way, it was too heartbreaking to see. I don’t ask you to stay with him. Just that you talk to him. Please, Rose.”

“Do you know how long I was in that other universe? How long I was separated from the Doctor?” Rose challenged as her voice cracking a little under the emotions.

Martha started to think about it, realizing her question was more loaded than she anticipated. “You told us before that you came back a little earlier than expected, but you don’t look that old. I had you at 28 years old. So six, maybe seven years?” She wasn’t really sure about Rose’s response, not that she really knew Rose that well. Only what what she saw during the year that never was, and what the Doctor decided to tell her.

Rose laughed, but more at the situation than the guess that Martha just gave. “43 years. Give or take a few months, I’m not certain at this point.”

Saying that Martha was shocked was an understatement. The Doctor always told her that Rose was human! He even told it to Jack! How could she had been separated that long without aging even by a little? “How?” Was all she could ask.

Rose shrugged, looking around with a false look of relaxation, like she didn’t have a care in the world. “Bad Wolf.” She said simply.

“Bad Wolf?” Martha asked with a confused expression, “as in the wolf from the Red riding hood story?”

“When I was Nineteen…” Rose continued as if Martha wasn’t speaking. “I did something very dangerous to save the Doctor. I pried opened the heart of the TARDIS.” She ignored Martha’s gasp of surprise. “And it did something to me… I didn’t realize at first, but then after a few years I stopped aging. That’s why I can’t stay with the Doctor. He is going to blame himself, and I can’t let him do that.”

“So, you’re going to leave him without any explanation, and let him think it’s because he failed you completely? How is that better in any sort of way?” Martha asked with a frown and judgemental glare. God how those two people were able to even be in the same vicinity, and somehow manage to communicate without any misunderstanding was a goddamn miracle. “Please just talk to him. I’m not asking you to move back into the TARDIS, but at least explain your point of view.”

Rose stood quickly, making Martha jump under the surprise. “I can’t tell him what has become of me! I can’t!” She started to move around, her stress visible in every step and turn. “This is absolutely not something he can know. And I have my mission and…!” She started hyperventilating, her control going out again. As she felt her head going light, she was suddenly engulfed in a hug and steered against the wall, where she could crumble without hurting herself. After a few minutes, she realized that Martha was talking to her in a low voice, helping her going back into herself without hurting herself or those around her.

“Don’t worry, we are not going to tell the Doctor. You are just going to let him talk, and then explain your point of view, and then you are going to see. Nobody is going to force you do anything I promise,” she said in a calming voice, not letting her go from the hug. When she realized that Rose was not shaking anymore, she started to release her little by little. “Better?” she asked in a kind voice.

Rose disengaged herself, embarrassed by her outburst of emotions. She looked up at her new friend with a nervous look, realizing that she had probably shown more emotions and instability in the last 24h than in the last ten years. She really hoped that the new companions didn’t view her as some sort of broken and hysterical girl unworthy of the Doctor. “I’m usually more balanced. I swear,” she promised in a vain tentative of humor.

Martha shrugged. “You forgot that this is not the first time that I’ve met you. I’ve been with you during the year that never was, I had time to know you without any interference from the Doctor.” She smiled. “Well kinda. You just went an hard time, and with what you lived it’s not hard to understand why. I mean everybody would be a little unstable in your situation. You suddenly met the Doctor after more than forty years, and that’s still hard to wrap my head around that… I mean I have so many questions. When did you realize you were suddenly not aging? And how were you not able to return to where you were from?”

Rose grabbed Martha, who just kept rambling question after question. “Martha, I’m sorry to tell you this but I don’t think it’s the time to discuss all that. I want to see Tony and you are right. I have to talk to the Doctor. We can’t end things badly. Not again.”

“Yes, you’re right. Come, I’m going to guide you to the TARDIS, they moved it when the terraforming was working it’s magic.” With a nod of her head, she began to lead the way. They started to walk in silence for a minute before Martha said, “I’m sorry for earlier, you know. It’s just I heard so much about you and finally having you in front of me, I had so many questions.”

“I’m normal you know,” Rose protested, but after a few seconds of silence, she realized what she just had said. “Well mostly. But it’s been years since I did something really out of the ordinary. I’m trying my best to stay out of trouble. Even with UNIT it’s sometimes hard. Especially when you know what will happen and you cannot do anything to change the outcome.”

“But earlier I saw you.” Martha stopped for a second, making Rose falter in her own movement. “Your eyes, they were gold.” As they continued walking, she realized that her friend was blushing hard.

“I’m really sorry…” Rose said in a little voice, averting her eyes. “It hasn’t happened in such a long time, it took me by surprise. I’m much better at keeping it at bay, but too much in too little time and it had to break free. I’m just happy that I didn’t kill anyone.”

“It’s something that happens regularly?” Martha asked in an horrified voice. Not for Rose but about what she went through. “Can we do something to help?”

“Only a handful of time but now I know how to control it.” Rose shrugged. “Most of the time. And we cannot do anything, it’s just a side effect of Bad Wolf. Well, right now I only have a suspicion at this point.”

“And I suppose you don’t want to talk to the Doctor about it?”

“No, never.” Rose felt that agitation begin to creep up again. “You have to swear you’ll never said a word about this to the Doctor. It’s only going to worry him, and then he will try to stop it! And that can’t happen!”

Martha looked puzzled, especially about the worry in Rose eyes. “You don’t want it to be gone? I imagine that you can control it, but that would not be better to not have it at all?”

“I’m here for a reason. I tried to explain it to the Doctor earlier, but it’s a little too complicated to tell in just a few sentences. But to be brief, something is destroying the multiverse and it will start from this one. The only thing I know is it’s going to be there soon. I don’t know how soon, but I’ll say in a few months at most and I’m not going to let Bad Wolf go when I’ll need it the most.” She shrugged. “For you it’s only the visible monster who tried to kill a man in cold blood, but for me it’s the constant companion who’s been in my life for decades. It’s not always easy but I’m not going to separate her from me. It would be like cutting out a part of myself. Just like if I told you to make your hand disappear. It’s the same feeling for me.”

Martha pondered on what Rose told her and realized that she was far from understanding that woman and what kind of implication she could have on the Doctor life. She had wanted more than anything to reunite those two, probably as much as Donna, but maybe she flung herself in something way too big for her for once. Even too big for the Doctor. But she had to do right for her friend, because she could not bear see him that broken again. “I’m sorry, I didn’t understood like that but you’re right. It’s clearly a situation I don’t know well so you need to do whatever you think is right.” She breathed in, braving herself, knowing it will probably the last time she could tell something to Rose before life will interfere again and she really needed to make her point of view clear.

As the TARDIS came into view, Martha stopped Rose one last time before letting her go to her son. “Listen, like I said it’s your life. You do whatever you want. But as a friend of the Doctor I really need to tell you this. For him it’s only been a few years. Nothing compares to you, I know.” She placed herself in front of Rose, completely blocking her view and keeping her in place, trying to showing how serious she was. “When you were left behind in that other universe, you were not alone. Your family was with you, helping you mend your broken heart. You had your whole world to fall back on, to make you hope and heal. The Doctor had nothing except a box and two broken hearts. Everything on this planet and even other was only a reminder of you. All he could see when he was looking at me was you. What you could have been, what you could have said. You were the ghost in the machine and I was the painful reminder that you were never going back.” She had a sad smile. “And like I said, even when he could not remember his own name, you were only what he could think about. That’s how deep he felt. You had forty three years to make peace with what happened. Him? Only maybe four. And one was spent with a sociopath who loved torturing him with memory of you. So please, go see him. But please, remember that when you had a whole system to fell back on, he only had himself.” And with a last smile and a quick hug, she was heading confidently towards the shed she saw the Hath trying to put together, happy to have said what she wanted to say. Maybe if she was lucky she would find Donna and tell her everything. She needed to tell the redhead about what happened. Because if even the discussion between the Doctor and Rose went south, she would need reinforcement.

Rose was frozen in place, still processing Martha’s little speech. She was ready to cry, her heart breaking under the pain that the Doctor had gone through. Martha had been right. When she lost the Doctor, she had lost part of her soul but she had her mom, dad and even Mickey to help her get back up. But the Doctor had nothing. Gallifrey was no more for a long time now, the family he found in Jackie and herself were suddenly gone like smoke. Only the TARDIS had remained. She had asked him on that beach what would happen for him, but she had hoped that after some time he would find someone else and heal. However, she didn’t realize that travelling with someone new would only be a reminder of everything he had lost. She felt a sudden urge to hug him hard and walked with determination towards the TARDIS. After crossing the threshold, she paused on the grating, hearing the gentle hum all around as she was welcomed by the most beautiful sign of the universe. Her son alive and smiling, like he wasn’t near death just three hours prior. He was looking with awe at the Doctor, who was so enthralled in the lecture he was giving that he didn’t realize that anyone had entered the TARDIS. After a few seconds she cleared her throat making both men jump in the air and turn around at the same time.

“Having fun I see?” she said with a tinkle in her eyes, her happiness shooting from every part of her body.

“Rose!” exclaimed the Doctor, as Tony tried to get up before flopping down again with a grunt, making her suddenly worried that Martha had not told the whole truth as to not trouble her.

Temporarily ignoring the Doctor, she moved forward until she was face to face with her son. As he looked at her innocently, she hesitantly touched his head with affection, not wanting to hurt him more than he already was, making him visibly relax with contentement. As she stroked him fondly, she looked at him from head to toe, trying to find any sign that he was not as well as Martha told her. She noted the arm bandaged, the sling supporting his shoulder and the Doctor hovering not far from him, only keeping quiet out of respect for her. But as she started to show signs of anxiety, she looked directly to the Doctor, who looked at her confidently and happily, making her realize that Tony was probably only suffering the aftereffect of a life saving operation and no real ill effect. Rationally, she knew that since he was awake and moving was a very good sign but she could not help but be a little anxious. She smiled nervously at the Doctor and diverted her eyes back to her son.

“Are you okay?” she questioned him, wanting to hear his voice above else.

“Just tired and rather uncomfortable. My shoulder is still bothering me, but the Doctor told me it’s going to be the case for a few days. But I’m just happy to be alive,” Tony answered with a smile, his eyes not totally focused, showing he was still feeling residual effect from his time in the infirmary.

Rose brought back a sob, not wanting to concern him with her emotions and smiled brightly. “I’m so happy to hear that. You are going to be back on your feet in no time, you’ll see.’ She looked at the Doctor, thanking him with a look and a smile before looking back to Tony. “The Doctor and Martha took good care of you.”

“Well it helps when you have someone as strong and stubborn as him,” the Doctor said with a touch of humor trying to make everyone smile. “I used an Argolexian technology to repair your shoulder and regenerate your arm rapidly. It’s going to be a little painful for a week or two, but after that you will have full use of it again.” He scanned Tony with the sonic screwdriver, mostly to show Rose that very fact. “Your vitals show that you came through the operation much more easily than normal.” He looked at Rose with another fond smile, making her blush under the intensity. “Like mother, like son.”

Before she could respond, they heard the door of the TARDIS fly open and Donna rushed through. “Hey, spaceman!” She smiled to Tony. “Glad to see you on your feet. Don’t scare us like that again, or help me god I’ll smack you so hard, your descendents will feel it.”

Tony paled while gulping with wide eyes. “I’ll be good.”

Donna nodded with severity and turned back to the Doctor. Rose had to turn around to not let Donna see the smirk that was threatening to evolve into a full laugh. She definitely liked her, and was very glad that the Doctor found her, even if she frightened her son half to death.
“Cline and the Hath want to know if they could see Tony,” continued Donna, oblivious of the smile on Doctor and Rose face. “They heard that he was alive and on his feet again, and they want to see him.” She rolled her eyes. “Apparently, they want him to help create a peace treaty. I personally think it can wait a few days while he rests, but they were insistent. And Martha wanted me to ask, so here I am.”

“Let me guess,” said the Doctor with laughter in his voice. “She sent you because she was worried you’ll start intimidating everyone if she left you alone with them.”

Donna smirked. “Yes. Because for me that boy needs rest. Not to play referee to a band of idiots.”

“Hey!” Tony protested from the captain’s chair. “They are my people, and I want to help!”

Rose looked at him worried. “You just came back from surgery, you need time to get back on your feet. Rest and we will see tomorrow if you feel well enough to move around.”

“I feel just fine, Mum!” He turned to the Doctor, who was obviously not trying to get in the middle of his companions and their maternal instinct. “Right, Doctor?”

As the Doctor felt the piercing gaze of his two friends, he shuffled around nervously and scratched his neck absently “If he promises to not overdo himself, I don’t see why he couldn’t go see what they want” He felt Rose’s murderous glare on him making add swiftly, “But with moderation! Just a quick discussion and then back to bed!”

Tony pumped the air. “Yes!” He smiled at Rose. “So I can go?”

Rose sighed, sometimes she wanted to kill the Doctor. “Okay, but you stay with Donna and only for half an hour. Just to see what they want exactly and then back to the TARDIS. You need rest.” She crossed her arms, showing him that she was dead serious. Even if a snickering Donna in the background was lessening her effect a little.

Tony nodded eagerly and stood cautiously, noting Rose’s concern. She crossed the gaze of Donna, who smiled at her reassuringly. Promising without words that she would take care of him just like she would have done herself. As Tony was escorted by the Doctor, who was babbling excitedly at him. And with the look on Tony face, he was probably producing some last minute advice and recommendation to help him on the mediation between the two colonies.

And with a last wave from Tony and a last knowing look from Donna, they were gone. Rose realized she was now alone with the Doctor and as he walked back to the console and smiled at her with nervousness, she decided that it was now or never.

She took a deep breath and met his gaze with determination. Now or never she said again to herself, you owe him that. “Doctor, I think it’s time we talk.”

Chapter Text

Chapter 15

As soon as she uttered those words, the smile on the Doctor face melted away, replaced by a look of fear and worry.

“I didn’t mean to…” he started to say, his voice gripping with dread. “I understand but..but…”

Realizing suddenly how her words could be taken, especially with how the last few discussions between them had gone, she had the sudden urge to smack herself right into the forehead. Sometimes she wondered how they had been able to communicate at all in the past without blowing up everything out of proportion.

“No, Doctor, I mean not about me leaving or anything like that,” Rose clarified as the Doctor relaxed at her words, his hand losing his grip onto the console. “Well, I mean we will have to talk about that, but that’s not what I want to talk at the moment.” She mimicked his infamous head scratch for a moment. “First of all, I haven’t properly thanked you for Tony… You did everything to save his life when I couldn’t.” She looked straight into his eyes for probably the first time since the incident a few hours ago. “Thank you, Doctor. I don’t know how I could repay you.”

The Doctor smiled gently, his face mellowing under her words. “Oh but you already have, you know. So many times,” he said with kind eyes, making Rose blush lightly under the undertone. “Well, if you count Abraskal X, I’d say that we are even!” he finished with a blinding smile making Rose snort at the memory.

“I didn’t save your life. At most I saved one of your converse.” She rolled her eyes at the image of the Doctor hopping on one foot, screaming at the little goblin who was running around with a bag of jelly babies and a mousetrap. “And the only thing I needed to do was ask the King nicely to give it back.” She started to think back about that moment. “By the way, you never said why you had a bag full of jelly babies in your pocket,” she mused.

He felt into the driver chair with absent gesture. “Converse… Life... I’d say it’s the same thing. So for me we are even. And for the bag, well let’s say that one of my past bodies was exceptionally fond of it and loved to hide them all over the place.” He smiled more to himself than to her. “I wonder what other things I will find in the future.” He looked at her brightly. “Do you know that I found a recorder from my second body in the bathroom of the Abydos chamber? The one with the non-gravity swimming pools!”

As Rose was ready to retort a witty response about that time where he had almost drowned Jack in one, she suddenly realized that he was trying to divert her attention by any means possible. Just like when she had been travelling with him. Everytime she had tried to have an important conversation with him or discuss past event, he had swiftly changed the subject or derailed the discussion enough for her to forget about it.

And she almost fell right into it. Just like when she was 20. She knew that she should be annoyed or even a little angry at him, but she couldn’t because she knew that he was scared, at least as much that she was right now. But she knew that was something that could not wait any longer. Because if so, they will never do it. And like Martha said, probably lose each other in the process. And with her life, her mission and everything in between, it was something she wanted to avoid. At least for the current moment.

“Doctor…” she said with a gentle voice. “We really need to talk.” The guilty look he had for a second was enough for her. “I think it’s time you don’t say?”

He sighed and after a last look into the ceiling he stood up. “You are right like always, Rose Tyler.” And with a small smile he started towards one of the corridors, not looking back to see if she was following. “The kitchen or the Library?”

She followed him, looking at his tense back. “The library. Less chance to be interrupted.”

He snorted. “With Donna? Yeah sure.” He opened his mouth to add something else before suddenly freezing in place and smacked himself in the forehead, making Rose jump at the sudden change of mood. “Oh we forgot the tea! We can’t go without tea!” He jumped around, a wild smile on his face, already changing corridors at alarming speed. “Start without me. I will be right behind you!” And just like that he disappeared. She looked around, still a little stunned at what just happened.

“I almost forgot about that,” she said to no one in particular, even if she could swear that the TARDIS was laughing in the background. She was ready to clapback a remark to the machine that had once been her home, when the door of the library appeared in front of her. She drew a sudden breath, surprised as the strong emotions taking hold of her body. She touched hesitantly the drawings around the frame, remembering doing the same thing so many years ago the first time she had seen it. It had been her first Doctor back then. Explaining to her what each drawing was supposed to mean. As she walked into the room, everything was a reminiscence of those times.

That couch when he had read Charles Dickens to her while she was wrapped up in his leather, smiling like a loon everytime he tried to do some different voice and failing miserably. The bookcase in the far end of the library when she had laughed until crying when the Doctor had tried to retrieve one of his physics book, and instead had tripped onto his converse and fell right into the purple plant from Zenevor, making him sneeze uncontrollably for three days. That table when Jack and her had an epic battle reenacting “A Midsummer Night's Dream” when the Doctor had forbidden them to enter the console room for a reason long forgotten.

She didn’t realized that she was crying until a soft hand brushed her shoulder in a clear sign of comfort, startling her with a gasp. When she turned around, she looked right into those ancient eyes full of compassion and pain. So much like herself she had to look away.

“I’m sorry,” she said hastily drying her eyes. “It’s just…”

He put the tray onto the coffee table, and placed himself in front of her, keeping a safe distance between them, not totally sure if he should touch her. “Don’t worry, Rose, I know.” He smiled in direction of a chair big enough to contain two people. “Do you remember when you decided that you wanted to read all of the Harry Potter in one go after I told you they did three different spin off?”

She smiled without realizing it. “We camped out for nine days on that chair.”

He scratched his ear. “Well technically seven days, eighteen hours and thirty-six minutes. But who’s counting?”

She pushed him playfully. “Hey, I’m sure if we count every time we had gone out to eat, or use the bathroom, it’s almost nine days!”

“If you say so!” But then his smile dropped, his face becoming more serious. “If you prefer we can go somewhere else. Just tell me. I think the Royal Garden is somewhere nearby. Or the little park that looks like the one we visited on Orion Six.” He turned around to grab the tray but was stopped by Rose.

“No, I’m okay now. I just needed a little time that’s all.” She looked rapidly around. “It’s just that piece has so many good memories for me. And for us.”

They looked at each other in silence for a few seconds before the Doctor grabbed one of the cups and gave it to her. “Your tea with two sugar and milk!” he said with a big smile, happy to show that he still remembered that.

“Thank you Doctor.” She shuffled awkwardly for a moment. “Actually now I take it with only one sugar.”

“Oh,” he said with surprise. “Do you uh… Do you want me to change it?” He started to make a move but she backed up a few steps, almost tripping on the armchair of the sofa.

“No. No, I’m good. Don’t worry!” She said with a pained smile. Now that the Doctor was starting to fully realize that Rose had really changed, the tension was now back with a vengeance.

After almost a full minute of them looking at each other in silence, becoming more restless by the second, the growing tenseness was suddenly broken by the sound of a bunch of bananas suddenly crashing down into the shelf dedicated to Martian mathematics, making them both jump a foot in the air.

They looked at each other incredulously before glancing in a same movement at the ceiling.

“Was that the TARDIS?” she asked with a mix of amusement and disbelief.

“Uh, I think so?” Said the Doctor as he took out his spec. He approached the bananas with caution and as he touched it, the light started to blink a few times. He turned around, the bananas still in his hand and smiled hard. “Yes, she’s the one doing it!” He said, proudly as Rose started to crack up before joining her in the laughter.

“Well it’s safe to say that we can add her to the list of people wanting us to talk,” said Rose with amusement.

He sighed as he walked to the couch and dropped into the plush cushions. the bananas in one hand and his tea in the other. “Let me guess...Donna? She also talked to you?”

“No. It was Martha,” she answered with a glint of humor in her eyes, realizing that even if the Martha’s speech had been very serious, they had been played on both fronts. But then her smile dropped, realizing that the moment had come. “But they are right. We really need to talk.”

He dropped the fruit onto the nearest surface and huffed, his whole body deflating with what about to come. “I know…”

She studied him as he drowned his tea in on go and realized that he was afraid of something. Was he afraid of her? “Are you… Are you scared of me?” she asked with a creeping apprehension. Did he see her earlier when she unleashed the Bad Wolf? Was that why he was trying so badly to stop any discussion?

He looked at her with an outraged look. “Never! What would you think that? I will never be afraid of you. Never, Rose!”

She turned her head in direction of the roof, not wanting the Doctor to see her tears. “So why aren’t you looking at me? Why are you trying so bad to not talk at all?”

“That was not my intention, Rose. I’m sorry.” He stood up, running his slightly shaking hands through his hair, making the strands stand in all directions. She almost smiled at the view but the pain of rejection and incertitude stopped every possibility of showing emotions. She knew it was not healthy, but at the moment it was not even on the fifteen things on the front of her mind. All she could think was of her fear over the Doctor recoiling from her. “It’s all my fault, and if I could change it I would. I swear.”

“What are you talking about, Doctor?” she asked gently, not really seeing where he wanted to go.

“I ruined your life, Rose, and I will forever hate myself for that sin. Without me you’d still have a normal life, your mother, Mickey. Without me you wouldn’t have…” his voice broke as he looked at her with desperation. “You would not have been a soldier.”

She jumped to her feet, not realizing that she had toppled her tea on herself, and in a second she was in front of him, punching him on the shoulder. “Never, ever something say something like that ever again!” She continued to advance on him, making him retreat until his back was against the wall, visibly terrified. “Don’t ever say that to my face! Don’t you dare think for one second I would change anything! You don’t get to take that away from me!”

“But Rose…” He tried again only to be interrupted again by a raging Rose Tyler.

“No! You know what would have happened without you? I would still be stuck in a life that I hated. My mom would still be chasing a love lost decades earlier. Mickey would never have seen what he was capable of. Yes, I turned into a soldier, but I’m a good damn one at that. But you know what else?” As the Doctor shook his head no, still afraid to say anything, Rose continued, “I earned a doctorate in quantum physics! I was the head trainer for Torchwood! Plus so many things that we don’t have time to list! The naive 19 year old Rose Tyler you knew was doomed to a dead end job, doomed to marry someone just because others told her that it would be the best thing for her, and ready to give up on anything outside of estate living. So don’t ever say that you’d change it. You saved me in so many ways, Doctor” She finished in a whisper, her eyes clouding with the memories of despair and desperation. Nineteen and already dying without realizing, no hope or expectation, just the belief that she was destined to end on the Powell Estate with children she would not want with a man she had no choice over on a job she hated most of the time. Yes while knowing the Doctor she had suffered more that you could imagine, lost everything three times over, lived heartbreak so excruciating she had sometimes wished for it to end all but not once she had regretted it. Because she was living life the way she wanted to.

As she stepped back lost in her own thoughts, the Doctor guided her to the couch again, gently guiding her to sit down. “Oh Rose, I would never do that to you. You are entitled to your life. It’s not my place to change it.” He smiled at her gently, stroking her back lightly in a gesture of comfort. “I just wish I would have done some things differently. But you are right, I didn’t see it from your point of view and--” He then suddenly stopped and straightened, looking at her with a stunned stare. “Wait! Did you say that you have a doctorate in quantum physics?!”

Rose blushed hard. “Well technically I have one in Pete’s World. Here it’s more--” But before she could finish, she was engulfed in a strong hug by an excited Doctor.

“That’s brilliant! I’m so proud of you, Rose!” he shouted almost jumping off the couch in his excitement, making Rose cling to him so she wasn’t thrown across the sofa by his wild gesture. “I knew you would do great things! I was so sure of it!”

The pride in his eyes after they pulled back a little was almost blinding, making her divert her eyes. “Thank you. Without you it would not have been possible.” She had suddenly a wicked smile. “Well I think my mom was more proud of it than me. She even had a Zeppelin floating a banner the day I received my diploma. It was really funny.”

“That’s so Jackie. I’m even surprised she did not buy a spot on the TV for that.” said the Doctor while smiling into her hair. Rose didn’t respond, only cuddled further onto his chest. They stayed that way for a few minutes, enjoying each other’s presence in silence. They knew it was only temporary, but it had been too long for either of them.

“I’ve missed you,” Rose finally admitted in a small voice which finally broke the silence.

“Me too, Rose, me too…” He pushed back a little, just enough to see her face. “How long has it had been for you?” he asked in a gentle voice.

“A few years,” Rose answered vaguely. With how he had been earlier, she had decided not to tell him everything in one go. It would be too painful for him, and he would blame himself to no end. And that was something she could not let happen. If she had to protect him from himself, then she would gladly do it without hesitation. “Martha told me it’s probably been three or four years for you.”

The Doctor scratched his chin absently. “Four years, one month, two weeks and three days. Approximately.”

“An eternity for us,” she said with humor as she habitually stretched out her legs onto his lap, making him take one of her feet and massaging it without realizing. Well things didn’t change she said to herself as he was visibly thinking about something.

“An infinitude,” he said with a voice so full of love and yearning, Rose gasped at the tone. He froze instantly, the implication lingering between them like a life sentence, and looked at her with wild eyes. Before she could even think about something, he was already up and occupying himself, turning his back to her “And how did you finish at UNIT?” he changed the subject as if he had not said anything just before.

Rose had two seconds of silence, still trying to wrap her head around what he had just said. She wanted to get up and confront him. She wanted to scream and cry. But she knew that even if emotions weren’t running high, the feelings were still there. Probably for the rest of their life. She could not delve into those feelings without huge repercussions and now was not the time, probably never even. So she just smiled and continued like nothing happened. “Like I said before, I was trying to pinpoint the source of the destruction of the multiverse, and my hopper fried during my last jump. Without any possibility to go back to the other universe, and knowing that I could not contact you without... well unraveling the web of time… I did the only logical thing I could. Search for others, and then I found UNIT! By the way thank god for Alistair Gordon Lethbridge-Stewart. Because without him and your shared history, I would have never been able to convince them that I knew you.”

He sat down again, but this time on the chair opposite of the couch Rose was on. “Remind me to thank him one time,” he mused with a smile before turning somber again. “But the most important thing is: what about the multiverse dying? Are you sure?”

She stood up straight, looking suddenly like the Rose he had seen earlier in battle, breaking his hearts a little more every time he saw it. “Oh, we are more than sure. Believe me. At first it was only two or three stars. And then it was ten. Then twenty disappeared until whole sections of the sky were completely black. We first through it was an issue with our atmosphere. With what happened with the cyberman it was a good possibility you know?” She shrugged. “So we sent satellites more tuned for that kind of thing. We talked to the alien community. That’s when we realized that everything was dying at an alarming path. Cracks in the fabric of time were now starting to pop up randomly all around the universe so we decided to send multiple probes at first, even to try and understand what the problem was. That’s when we realized that it was not just our universe, but all of them. Some we noticed too late and they were disintegrated completely, the walls so weakened that they were now only ashes and death. So we constructed a cannon to send a team to other universes to determine where the starting point was in all this.”

She paused for a second remembering the long nights, the different projects fizzling on them, the pressure from concerned government officials all around the world desperate for a response and a solution. It had been an hard time for everyone. “We searched for months, until we finally found that the point of origin was right here in this universe. So my intention was to find you and solve the issue. As Mickey and I were the only ones with real links to this universe we were dispatched to different point to try to find you. But during my last jump something happened, and my hopper had burnt out beyond any possibility of repair, so I was stranded here. Trying to go back to the other universe was extremely complicated, especially with the project going back to scratch here. So I joined UNIT and waited for the right moment. My objective was to find you when I was sure to not cause a paradox or any possibilities of reapers. But you found me first,” she finished with a smile.

The Doctor was severely conflicted on how he should feel after hearing her story. “Oh Rose, I don’t know know what to say.” He was torn between expressing just how much he was proud of her, and lecturing her about how she could have killed herself an hundred times over. That going intr-rift between universes could have killed her in an instant, or destroyed everything without realizing it. But knowing that his Rose, the Rose Tyler who never believed she could amount to anything when he had meet her, became an hero so bright and radiant that she was ready to lay down her life in an heartbeat if that mean saving the world. And not even the world, the multiverse! It made him continue to burst with pride and love for her.

Rose not realizing the predicament that the Doctor was now in, she continued like nothing was happening. “So, now you know exactly what happened, and why I have to leave you soon.”

“Leave me?” he screeched, surprised by Rose’s response to his disbelief. “But you just told me that you were waiting for me! That your objective was to find me and resolve everything!”

She took his hand, trying to calm him before he started to hyperventilate. “Yes, but here’s the tricky thing: I don’t know where or when it’s supposed to happen. I’ve deducted that it’s probably going to happen in a few months, but I’m not certain. But also, I can’t leave the Earth without knowing what will happen. What I wanted to do was to tell you everything, and stay on Earth to protect it while you found what is triggering this mess.” She really wanted to stay with him, continue like nothing had happened, as if she did not miss him for four decades. But it was too dangerous.

He smiled at her with hope. “You just said it yourself. You don’t know what will happen, or where it will happen.”

She looked at him curiously. “Yes…?”

“So why can we not search for it together? Just like old times! Shiver and Shake,” he said fondly before pausing for a second. “Well with Donna and Tony too. And Martha if she wants as well. So Shiver and Shake, whizzer and chips?” He looked puzzled. “That sounds weird right?”

She stroked his hand with a sad smile. “Doctor, I can’t. Like I said, I have a life and responsibilities. Others to take care of. I just can’t up and leave UNIT like that.”

He turned his head with a sigh to hide his disappointment. “I understand. So mmh I’m going to…” He stood up, taking the tray with him. “I’m going back to the kitchen.” He started to walk out when he straightened. “You should probably change yourself.” He gestured in her direction with clear discomfort. “You know with the tea and all.” And then he was gone.

She looked at herself and realized that she was covered in the tea she had toppled on herself, making her clothes a little more revealing than supposed. “Oh!” she said to herself as she started to blush.

As she started to move, she was surprised by the return of the Doctor, who looked like he had just sprinted from the other side of the TARDIS.

“By the way, Rose,” he started with a slow almost mischievous smile appearing on his face, “did I mention it also travels in time?”

She looked at him stunned for a second, before finally registering what he had just said. And then she could not help herself as she started to crack up like a madwoman, almost falling from the couch at the same time.

“Okay.” She said, finally calming herself enough to respond. She knew she shouldn’t do it and risk getting sucked back into this life when she had people depending on her back home. Everything was telling her that she should go back to Earth and forget about it. She still had that issue with Bad Wolf, her possible immortality, the stars going out, and of course her feelings for him. But at the moment all she could feel was her heart going out to him, the man in front of her, looking at her with so much hope and faith. Laying everything in front of her just in the hope that maybe, just maybe, she would say yes. How could she reject him? The Doctor, her best friend, the man who had one part of herself for years without realizing it. “Okay I’m in,” she finally agreed, this time more surel about her decision.

The vulnerability surrounding him almost made her cry then and there. “Yes?” he asked, almost not believing the opportunity that he was being given.

To hell with honor and duty, Rose thought to herself. For once she could put herself first before everything. She nodded. “Yes.”

He took a few steps towards her, not enough to touch her but enough to see the sincerity in her eyes. “So run?” he asked while extending his hand to her. This was it. She was either going to take his hand or completely deny him and walk away.

She took it without hesitation, smiling that special smile of her. The one she hasn’t used for a long time since their separation. “Yeah run.”

Chapter Text

As soon as Rose took the Doctor’s hand, she knew that her life had irrevocably shifted. Before that moment she could have changed her mind. She could have walked away, keeping her mind and heart mostly intact. She would have even been able to tell herself that she did the right thing. But now she knew the truth. She could only go forward.

She had waited for that moment for decades, dreaming it for days when she had only the night and stars for company, knowing perfectly at the same time that it was still only a dream. But now she could change everything, even if she knew deep down that second chances were not for people like her. She had made that mistake once after Canary Wharf and she almost lost herself. So this time, she’ll run head first into it and hope for the best, until the universe would stop being kind and let her fall.

But at this moment all she could do was smile as she looked into his eyes. Eyes so full of kindness and pain. At the same time, also made her temporarily forget the countdown towards full disclosure running in the back of her mind. “Doctor, we need to discuss our next move.” Rose said with a smile as he was looking just like the madman he was. “But first I need a change of clothes.”

He dropped his hand, old habits making himself embarrassed at that display of emotions. “Right. I’ll be in the console room if you need me,” he answered while taking a step back.

Rose nodded and started a few feet down the nearest corridor. Suddenly she halted as she looked around in confusion before turning back to him. “I..I kinda forgot where the wardrobe room is,” she admitted with a nervous chuckle and light blush on her cheeks.

The Doctor looked a little taken aback by her statement. “Oh… Really?”

She gave a pained smile in response. “Well a little. It’s just that I’ve had a lot on my mind, and I can’t remember everything. You know how are those pesky human brains are.” She laughed gently, trying to make him at least smile.

But the opposite happened as his face became more somber. “Sometimes I forget…” he said wistfully, looking at her with a painful look.

“Forget what?” she asked as gently as possible, afraid of what his answer would be or how he’d vocalize it. She recalled times when he was like that, and they were never good times to be had.

“How human you are.” He passed his hands through his hair, more in a gesture to not break down in front of her than anything else.

“Hey, I just forgot one little thing. It’s not like I suddenly couldn’t remember my own name. It’s not like I’ll die tomorrow.” She approached him and nudged his shoulder playfully with her own. “I’m sure that I don’t need to remind you how big this ship is, Doctor? And besides, it was not me who fell into the garbage can after I mixed up the place with the Wiklen garden. Even after I told you three times that it was the wrong way.”

He chuckled, her playful manner melting away the bad mood he was falling into. “Okay you’re right. But I’m still sure it was the right door and that the TARDIS was playing with us.”

She snorted. “Yeah right....” She turned around and picked one of the hallways without a second thought, walking like a woman with a purpose.

“Wait!” he called, making her stop in her track and turn around curiously. “You remember?”

She smiled, brilliantly. “No. But she does,” Rose answered while pointing upwards at the ceiling with a flourish before resuming her walking, smirking as she heard his laughing in the background.

---

Almost an hour later, she walked back into the console room, looking much more like the human she was and with a clean uniform. The Doctor didn’t want to even know where she had found it.

“Ok, what’s next now?” She asked, hopping around as she tried to lace her right rangers as she was walking, amusing him to no end. Some things never changed visibly. He winced a little as she almost collided with one of the pillar but she continued like nothing happened.

“Well look who it is!” He said with false surprise. “I almost forgot you were here!” He continued, smiling at her like a loon.

“Ahah…” She said with as much sarcasm she could muster before throwing a yoyo she found on the ground at his head. He avoided it with ease, letting it crash on one of the walls, before making a face to her. Making her laugh at the stupidity of the situation.

The door of the TARDIS suddenly opened with a clatter, startling Rose while her right hand reached instinctively for the weapon that was always at her side, and the Doctor jump in surprise. As he was taking out the sonic, they realized at the same moment that it was only Donna at the door.

“Ah good, you are still here,” she said, oblivious to the fright she just gave them. “If you two could stop making eyes to each other for a bit. We need you outside.”

“What’s wrong. What did you do,” the Doctor asked cautiously while crossing his arms with a suspicious look on his face, making Rose snort in her chair. She was happy to see that she was not the only jeopardy friendly passenger on the TARDIS.

Donna looked affronted. “Nothing!” She looked quickly to Rose the back to the Doctor. “Do you want me to remind you of Xiloras and their princess? Because I can.”

The Doctor looked suddenly alarmed, his eyes going back and forth between Rose and Donna. “The less said about it, the better thanks!” he said in a shrill, making Rose very curious.

“Oh do tell,” she said in Donna’s direction, who had clearly the same look as someone who had won the lottery.

“Oh look at that, they appear to be waiting for us outside!” the Doctor exclaimed, pushing Donna in direction of the door with a desperation that would have looked suspicious on a lesser man. He then had the sudden realization that if the two women decided to talk, like really talk, he was bound to regenerate from the shame alone.

“Hey stop manhandling me, Spaceman!” Donna loudly protested, snatching her arm from his grip. “And preferably before you get your knickers in a twist.” He made a strangled sound at the mere suggestion. “I came to say that Tony is waiting for you. Apparently they are in the middle of a treaty and they need your output.” She looked at Rose above the Doctor’s shoulder. “Well more you than him I’d say.”

All humor disappeared from Rose’s face at the mention of her son’s name and turned her full attention to the Doctor, blasting him with a black look like it was all his fault. “I told him to go easy! He was supposed to just talk and have a rest! I knew this would happen!”

The Doctor grumbled something that sounded suspiciously like ‘Like mother like son’ before grabbing his sonic and running outside. Probably aware that going against Rose on the warpath was not something he needed to do if he wanted to stay alive.

“Ha what a wuss,” sneered Donna at the sudden disappearance of her friend before turning to Rose. “Don’t worry, Tony is just fine. He was really having a blast the last time I saw him.”

Rose huffed as she walked slowly to the door. “I through I would never say this, but I suddenly totally understand how my mother felt.”

Donna laughed and gave her a friendly pat on the back. “Come on, blondie, I will take you to him. Because I’m ready to bet that Spaceman is long gone now.”

--

When Donna and her arrived at the makeshift camp, Rose realized that the discussion of a treaty wasn’t being taken lightly amongst the negotiators. A big table had been mounted and at least five people were talking at the same time. And the Doctor was in the middle of it, visibly trying to calm everyone with Martha before it could go badly.

“It’s been like that for ten minutes,” she heard Tony’s amused voice behind her. “I don’t think the Doctor had realized it’s how the Hath are negotiating,” he continued while coming around to face his mother, his eyes twinkling with amusement.

“Are you okay?” asked Rose immediately, her gaze going directly to his shoulder, still held securely into place with a cloth sling.

“It’s ok. Nobody asked me to write or anything like that, so I’m doing good.” He shrugged with a smile. A smile that made her think of her mother. “I’m really happy to see you, Mum.”

“Me too,” she replied, going against her urge to hug him with all she had. “So, how is it really going out here?” She turned around to look at the spectacle, realizing that Donna had gone to the group while she was talking with Tony, and was now talking to Martha, who was laughing at something.

Tony started to walk in direction of the tablep. “Really good. I think that both groups are ready to make peace. What Cobb did made them realize that the violence was clearly not the answer.” He looked a little sheepish. “And your reaction was exactly the electroshock they needed… But don’t worry they’re not holding that against you!” he quickly assured her as he saw the face of horror Rose made. “They totally understand, just believe me on that. What they saw was just grief and pain, not any horror or fear. You made them realize that we can be more than soldiers. How we are worth more than that.”

“They are not afraid?” she asked with a little voice, apprehensive of the response.

“No. Ok, maybe a little. But not so much that they’ll give up on change.” He shrugged. “They are molded by Cobb’s influence and ideology. He clearly lost his mind at some point during the war, and sadly some of them can’t help but think about themselves first.” He nodded with sadness. “I still think it’s my fault.”

Rose stopped him with a hand on his good shoulder, forcing him to look directly at her. “Never think that. It’s Cobb fault, he is the one to choose to fire, not you. You saved the Doctor’s life.” she said with a serious tone, hoping to make him really understand.

“So, it’s not yours either you know.” He shrugged. “You just reacted and if what the other said is true, Cobb tried to egg you on until you snapped.”

She felt her skin ran cold. Did anyone saw the Bad Wolf in action? She through that only Martha and Cobb had been witness to the return of the beast, but perhaps she had been wrong. “Did they told you anything about that?” she tried to be nonchalant in her question, trying to not cross the eyes of anyone as they approached the table.

“Just that they had felt bad for you. If you didn’t notice, they are mostly all big on gun and lost on emotions. It’s going to take time to not go directly to violence to resolve things.”

As she looked around, she realized that Tony was mostly right. Nobody was avoiding her or looking at her like the monster she was. It was just mostly curiosity and apathy. They had seen too much during that endless war to be jaded by her outburst.

“It’s going to take a lot of time to have something really working,” said the Doctor, entering the conversation with an air of thoughtfulness, looking at the different groups talking. “Even if I’m certain that the Hath are saying no, more for the fact that it’s funny for them than anything else.” Rose and Tony exchanged a conspiratorial glance behind his back “So I was thinking!” continued the Doctor as if nothing happened. “We give them a little nudge in the right direction, and then back to Earth we go! Even if Tony already did a lot.” He turned to the young man. “I heard you had been able to make them all sit and talk. It’s already a very good start,” he finished with a look of pride all over his face. His fondness for Tony very obvious.

“Really?” asked Rose with delight. “I’m so proud of you!” She hugged him, making sure to not touch his hurt shoulder. “Just for that, I’m going to take you to the best fish and chips in all of England when we are back in London.” She turned her head to the Doctor. “IF we are back on Earth of course.”

“Hey!” He looked indignant. “That was one time, and I was not even was in that body, so that’s really not fair.”

Before she could respond, Tony ended the hug, talking a few feet of distance. “About that…” He looked uneasy and anxious, fidgeting with the edge of his t-shirt like it was the most important thing in the universe. “I don’t think I will be coming back with you…”

Rose felt like her world had paused for a second, as the Doctor looked at her bewildered. “What?” she asked with a flat voice, staring at her son like he had just spoke chinese.

“I know I can do great things here,” Tony said, his eyes appearing to stare off into the distance, as if he were peering into some potential future. “I want to be sure we have something right for everyone. To not repeat the errors of the past. Like I said to them earlier, we came onto this planet as one. We need to built it like our ancestors wanted. Together,” he finished, looking every inch of the future leader Rose easily could see that in her son. Already so proud and tall, ready to take the world by storm. Everything in him reminded her of herself when she had been young, so sure of her own worth, ready to go in a blaze of glory. But life, and Jimmy Stone, had diminished that fire in her until almost nothing remained. Till the Doctor came along and reminded her of that very potential.

As Rose continued to gaze at Tony, seeing the sparkle ignite in him, she knew she would not have the heart to stop him. She could not be the able to live with herself, not after what she had to live down to gain her own back. She smiled at him again, even if she could not help but let her sadness creep out a little. “I’m sure you are going to be great,” she said with a lump in her throat and tears pooling in her eyes.

Tony looked overjoyed but not surprised.“I knew you would understand, Mum,” he said with a grin as the Doctor had retreated back and engaged in an animated conversation with Cline (who looked rather annoyed). “You are different, just like me.” He jerked his head in direction of the Doctor who was now joined by Martha and Donna, who had been drawn by all the noise made by their friend. “They don’t understand what it means to be between worlds. I will always been different to them, like you are always going to be a stranger to your own world,” he said as he looked at her sadly. “But I know that I can do great things here, just like you can do with the Doctor.”

“But you would have been great too,” Rose rebutted softly, knowing perfectly she could not change his mind. He clearly had the stubborn streak of the Tyler family.

“Hey, I’m not going to stay here for the rest of my life. You’re my mom, I still want you in my life one day! But for the time being, this is where I need to be.”

“Oh god I suddenly understand my mother.” Rose laughed as she facepalmed herself in shame.

“God save us all,” joked the Doctor, materializing beside them with Donna and Martha.

“Is someone finally going to tell us what’s happening?” Donna grumbled as Martha nodded in agreement beside her. “We had to stop Spaceman from lecturing Cline about brainwashing or something and everyone is talking about Tony like he’s the next Gandhi! We are away five minutes and everybody has apparently lost their minds!”

Rose looked at her son, who bowed slightly before turning back to the group. “Tony is going to stay here on Messaline,” she said in one breath.

“What?” Martha gasped as Donna was asking ‘why’ with as much surprise as her friend.

“That’s what I want to know also!” the Doctor erupted in all his manic energy. “Did they tell you something, Tony? Are you being threatened?” In the moment, the Doctor was more frightening than anything else for Tony, who took a step back involuntary.

“Ok calm down, Doctor,” said Rose, placing herself between Tony and the rest of the group, trying to calm down the situation before it was too late. “Nobody is forcing anyone. Tony has just decided that for the moment he would be more helpful here than with us.” Rose was trying to talk as calmly as possible, knowing that any of them could blow up if she was not cautious.

“But for how long?” asked the Doctor, in a somewhat desperate voice, breaking her heart in two. She knew that the Doctor was not good with people turning him away.

Tony shrugged. “However long it takes.” As the silence following his admission was stretching out, it made it harder and harder for Rose to not cry in front of everyone. She was trying her best to be understanding of Tony’s choice, but the Doctor’s reaction had made it very difficult for her to be joyful.

“Well, I’m sure you will be great,” Donna enthused suddenly while trying to infuse some cheer into the group. She moved to hug him, soon followed by Martha who was adding reason after reason how he will be a great asset to the human and Hath, making Tony glow with happiness. They had rapidly realized that Rose was only hanging up by a thread at that point and the Doctor was no better. So for the sake of everyone, they stepped up and distracted Tony, just enough for the Doctor and Rose to recover enough to be able to put on a mask.

The Doctor cleared his throat and looked back at the TARDIS who was still visible with the sunlight. “Well I think it’s time to go home now, right ladies?” A smile too wide on his face to be completely genuine.

“Yes. I need to discuss my decision with UNIT, and Martha needs to get back to her life. I’m sure she would love nothing more than a bath, and some time with her future husband,” she said with humor as the two other woman were starting to move away from Tony.

“I would definitely say yes to any of that!” Martha shouted with part seriousness and part humor, making Donna snicker.

“We needs something to communicate!” Rose said suddenly, panicking that she came so close to remembering when it would possibly be too late. She turned to the Doctor. “Do you still have the Amrax communicator? The one we used when we were on Venus?”

He looked surprised at the proposition. “Maybe, I would have to search for it. But why not give him your mobile? I can amplify it like the old one.”

Donna rolled her eyes at the suggestion and responded before Rose had time to even open her mouth. “Yeah sure, and he’s going to charge it with what exactly, Spaceman? The moon?”

Rose looked at Donna then at the Doctor with a smug expression, making him drop his shoulders in defeat. “Ok, I’ll go find it. I’ll be back.” He sighed and moved back to the TARDIS, trying his best to walk with confidence as the rest of the group were smiling at his departure.

“Well it’s been a pleasure, Tony,” said Martha in a cheerful voice. “But now if you’ll excuse me, I want to say goodbye to some people before we leave.” She waved at him with a smile before walking away to a group of Hath who were talking a few meters away.

“We had a great time and I’m sure we will see you soon,” added Donna with certainty. “With those two not far away, I’m sure we will come here at a drop of a hat!”

Rose sticked her tongue out at the redhead, who laughed out loud before walking away towards Cline, who for some reason still looked annoyed. She turned to her son, who had been quiet since the Doctor’s outburst. “Don’t take it against you. It’s just…” She turned away for a second, looking at the TARDIS who was glowing in the sun. “He’s lost so many people in his life and losing you to is a little hard for him.”

Tony crossed his arms, a mullish look on his face. Sometimes she forgot how young he was technically, how little of life he knew. But in that moment, she could see the teenager that she had been, who sulked at every rejection that was thrown her way. “But I’m know what I’m doing. I saw it.”

She started to smile before the enormity of what he said crashed on her. “What do you mean you saw it?”

Her alarm must have show on her face because he looked suddenly way less sure of himself. “I’m not sure. It’s just I realized that sometimes I just know some things. Like in the cell or right now. I know that I will do great things here, like I know that we will see each other again.” He sighed. “But I don’t know how.”

She had the sudden realization that by using her DNA, a little bit of Bad Wolf had gone over into Tony, making him a little more aware of the universe’s future. She had been worried to let him stay, but now she was terrified. Terrified of the possibilities. How much of the beast had been transferred?

She grabbed him, looking deeply into his surprised eyes. “How do you feel? Do you have the impression that you have something inside you? When you fell to the ground, did you have the impression that you were losing control of yourself?”

He disengaged himself from her, talking a step back. Feeling uncomfortable under that much intensity. “I don’t think so? The only thing I felt was pain and I’m pretty sure I’m just me.” He looked around, but no one was paying attention to them. They were too busy saying goodbye the the two companions of the Doctor. “It’s just sometimes I feel like I’m remembering something, like a weird feeling, and then it disappears.”

She relaxed slightly, exhaling a sigh of relief at his explanation. “Ok that’s good, that’s good.” She would have never forgiven herself if her son had fallen victim to her own actions. She had taken the Bad Wolf willingly, completely understanding the price. And she would do it again in an heartbeat. But he had asked for nothing, and it would had not be fair to him. It seemed only a fraction of that power had been transferred to him, but she would still keep an eye on him. Just in case.

“Did anyone told you that you were weird?” Tony asked with a puzzled look.

She smiled. “All the time.”

Before the discussion could continue, the Doctor appeared beside them, a triumphant look on his face. “I found it!” He showed a little square with a multitude of flashing colors. “Here, take it.” He placed one in Tony’s hand. “With that we are going to be able to communicate with you easily.” He gave the other to Rose. “So it’ll be rather easy to reach us if you want or need to. You only have to press that green button. Say ‘calling’ and then press the blue one. The other one will automatically glow and we’ll know that you want to talk to us.”

“Wow that’s great!” Tony cried out excitedly while showing it to Cline who had approached when the Doctor had came back. “Pretty neat.” He was now smiling, passing it to everyone who wanted a look.

“Sometimes I wonder if it’s not your son too.” Rose said to the Doctor, amused by Tony’s antics.

“Oh by the way, do we know why the TARDIS took us here?” asked Martha who was visibly ready to go.

The Doctor looked at Tony who was now talking animatedly with a group of Hath and human. “Tony was the reason for the Tardis bringing us here. It just got here too soon, which then created Tony in the first place. Paradox. An endless paradox.” They all looked at him silently for a few seconds. “So...Time to go home?” the Doctor asked.

Martha nodded as Donna had finally joined them. “Yeah. Home.”

Chapter Text

Chapter 17:

Rose sighed when she finally closed the door of her apartment behind her. She had spent the last week deciding what to take and what to leave behind. Informing UNIT that she was now officially in the role of offshore consultant for the time being, and except in the case of clear and dire emergencies; she will only respond to emails and phone calls if absolutely necessary. Which of course Colonel Mace, and Geneva by extension, had not been happy with this sudden change in arrangement. Especially when she had told them she was leaving Earth with the Doctor to fight an unknown enemy who could or could not destroy the whole multiverse in the near future. Mace had been particularly vocal about the fact that another of the top minds of UNIT had once again been snatched by the Doctor. And it was quickly getting old. She had played along, especially when Sir Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart; who had been visiting his daughter Kate, had stated that it was a fact of life that the Doctor was to annoy UNIT and those in charge to the best of his ability .

But she knew that deep down that everyone, especially those who knew about her, were fully aware that she will never return to UNIT. Not full time at least. Even if she was successful on what could be her biggest mission ever, she had never hidden the fact that her time on Earth was running out. She had tried to live a somewhat normal life, complete with a circle of friends and the occasional boyfriend here and there. But the fact always remained in the back of her mind: she was not aging, and soon enough it will become an issue.

When as she looked at the three bags balanced precariously against the wall, she realized that everything that was close to her heart were in those bags. She could never return to her place ever again, and not miss a single thing that was inside. That fact made her realize that even if she had a life here, a very good one at that, she had never really placed roots. Not since she had lost everything when she had crossed over without the possibility to comeback.

As she lifted her luggages with difficulty, she vowed to herself that when her adventure with the Doctor does end, she will do everything in her power to change that. But before she could dwell more in those morose thoughts, she head the sound of the TARDIS materializing only a few meters from where she was. As soon as that glorious box became completely visible, Donna almost fell out the door. She had apparently opened the door as soon as they landed to rush out and greet Rose. She eagerly hurried up to Rose, ready to engage her in a discussion, until she saw the bags on her back and shoulder. She frowned and turned around.

“Oi Doctor, Rose needs a hand with her luggage!” She called through the open door.

Before Rose could even begin to insist that she was fine, the Doctor had appeared. “Please tell me she didn’t bring a Hat case too,” he said with a teasing voice, making Donna slap him on the shoulder as a response.

“A what?” Rose asked with a puzzled face, trying her best to not let the bag on her right shoulder slip and fall.

“Nothing, just something that Donna had brought along when she came onboard. She somehow thought there was a planet of the hats out there,” he answered with a smile, trying to keep his nerves at bay. This was it, Rose had was finally back in the TARDIS. Back with him where she belonged. He walked to her with his right hand extended, waiting for her to drop at least one of her bags. “Let me take your luggage, it doesn’t look comfortable.”

Rose tried to protest, but he already had one of them in his hand, and was doing his best to take the one from her other shoulder as well.

“You sure you have enough?” he asked with a quick glance around, not sure if this was all of her bags or if she had one hidden somewhere for some reason.

She shrugged as Donna was giving her a welcoming hug. “Everything needed is here. And if I miss something, I still can ask the TARDIS to drop me somewhere to buy it.”

He scratched his chin. “That’s fair. Ok, let’s go inside. Ladies first!” he said with a flourish, a bigger smile than before on his face.

Rose was first to enter, glad to have taken time to unwind after so much time not having a single minute to herself. She was closely followed by Donna who was looking at her back with genuine interest. “That backpack is really interesting. I think my grandad had one just like that from the war. But his is much more beaten down. And I thought they only came in green,” the redhead observed as Rose was dropping it off beside one of the column.

Rose let herself fall in the driver seat and glanced at the bag, as the Doctor was putting down her two other bags. “My duffel? Oh yeah, normally they are green or black. But with privilege of my rank, mine is brown and blue.”

“Well old girl, it’s not that I do not like that kind of discussion but where are you going to take us next?”

She smiled at him, ready to to playfully mock him about his short span of attention; when she realized how much he was uncomfortable at the discussion of her soldier past. Forgot how he was ready to take responsibility for everything, and how he still sees the fact she was in the military as a failure on his end. Rose knew that they should discuss this. Make him understand that she had loved what she had become. And she had kept it to herself before not just for the sake of it, but because she was genuinely proud of herself and her accomplishment. But now was not the time.

“Well, I propose hanging out in the time vortex. I need to take everything to my room, and then take a shower. I don’t know about you, but it’s been a very long week, and not a fun one at that.”

“Well it’s only been two hours for us, but I understand your point of view,” Donna said as Rose looked at the Doctor with surprise. Who, Donna noted in amusement, suddenly found the ceiling very interesting.

“Only two hours?” Rose was astonished.

Donna snickered as the Doctor was glaring at her with the intensity of a thousand suns. Amusing Donna even more. “Well if I didn’t ask for time to take a shower and change, I think it would have been fifteen minutes top.”

“I needed to be sure that the TARDIS was working correctly!” the Doctor answered in a stronger tone than intended. “She just took us to another planet without input from us. Imagine if it happened again!”

“Sure, Spaceman. Just keep telling yourself that,” Donna teased, changing what had been simple discussion into bickering that lasted at least five minutes before Rose lost interest, and decided to go in search of her room.

She took two of the bags, the ones she knew contained the more important things and slipped back into one of the corridors, the sound of Donna and the Doctor’s debate getting more and more muffled the further she walked. She walked for about a minute, passing multiple doors and a hatch, none of them distinguishable from one another. As she was starting to feel her right shoulder sting under the weight of her backpack, she felt drawn to a blueish door with a carving of a phoenix in the middle and oak leaf all around the frame.

“This one?” She asked to the ceiling. After a few seconds she felt the draw once again. Making her smile. “Okay girl, but the phoenix is a little on the nose, no?” The laugh in her head was all the response she needed.

---

While she was occupied deciding what belonging would go where, she was interrupted by a knock on the door. When she turned around, she was greeted by the sight of the Doctor looking at her sheepily from the doorstep, her last bag in his hand.

“Can I come in?” he asked with bashfulness, proposing his full hand as a tribute.

She smiled. “Sure! You can just drop that one anywhere.” He put it down beside her bed. “I’m trying to unpack everything before being too caught up in everything. I mean, last time I think it took something like three months before I had the mind to take out all my socks from my backpack.”

The Doctor stood straight, his glasses giving him that very serious look. “If I remember correctly, it was four months and you also forgot the tupperware from your mother. Also, I remember there were two bags of skittles that definitely didn’t like that famous tupperware.” The smile on his face was all she could muster before facepalming herself in shame.

“Oh god that tupperware...I think I had to move out for two weeks before the smell disappeared.” She still had nightmare once or two time a year about the odor. And she had a Xylot explode on her.

He laughed for a few seconds before looking serious again. “I’m really sorry about earlier. We both tend to be a little oppiniated sometimes.”

She snorted. “I think I had made my peace with that don’t worry. It’s just I needed a shower and five minutes alone so it was more of a blessing that anything else.”

He nodded before looking around, realizing this was not the original room she had before leaving. “Did you not find your room? You should have asked the TARDIS to get it for you. I’m sure she would have loved that.” He touched the wall, which was now more of a pale orange, completely different from the neon violet she had lived in before.

She got up, walking to the open wardrobe with a few shirts. “No, I don’t really want to have the same room that I did before…”

He approached her, his hands deep into his pocket. “Why?”

She debated with herself about what to say, stalling as much as she could, arranging her shirts like it was her life mission. But as she started to open her month to lie, she realized that she was so tired trying to protect him from her own truth. He deserved to know about her, not all of her, but most of it. If she was starting this renewed friendship on a lie, how could she really deserve to be friends with him again? How could they trust each other? “Because I’m not ready to be back there.” She turned around, looking him directly in the eyes. “Things are different now and I’ve changed. A lot. Just like how you’ve changed too. And I’m not emotionally ready to go back into my old room and see what I left behind. I…” She averted her gaze, his truthful stare too much at that instant. “I need time, Doctor. That’s all.”

“I understand,” he said and they looked at each other in silence for a minute, not sure about what to say after that. “You want me to go?” he finally asked, pointing to the still open door.

”No, it’s okay. I just wanted you to know…” She continued to move her things out of her bag, trying her best to show that everything was good. “By the way where is Donna?” she finally asked, wanting to end the uncomfortable silence that had grown since the end of the conversation.

The Doctor jumped on it, walking around the room with a smile. “Oh she is still in the console room!” he said, looking curiously in the bathroom. “I think she is reading of her magazines or something. I can’t say I understand much of what she is doing sometimes.” He knocked on her bed frame with a interrogative look. “But I wanted to know how you were doing and where do you want to go next.” As she was starting to feel dizzy watching him going round and round, he finally decided to sit down in one of the chairs, making her a little less tense. “But it took forever to find your room. At first I did go to your old room and then when I tried to find you, someone...” He glared at the ceiling. “didn’t want me to find you. So it took forever.”

“I needed time to sort out the essentials and take a shower, so I can understand why.” She smiled cheekily, making him blush a little.

“So where do you want to go next?” He asked like she had said nothing, taking the opportunity to pull out a wooden-like sculpture out of one of her bags, examiniting it with his sonic like it was make of C4.

She snatched it out of his hand, her eyes rolling with exasperation. “Don’t touch that. A shaman from the Chimeran gave me that, and I prefer to keep it in one piece please.”

He looked surprised. “A Chimeran? Really? I thought they were rarely leaving their system now.”

She placed the figure on her nightstand. “Well, one of their spaceships was caught in a wormhole, and they space crashed in our planet. It was not really intentional of course...” She looked around, making sure that everything of value was not in reach of the Doctor. When she was satisfied that nothing could go wrong in the next five minutes, she nodded to herself and took the direction of door, indicating to the Doctor she was ready to go back. “But to respond to your question, I would like a quiet place for a change. Like not running for our life or plead with a megalomaniac that saying no to his marriage proposal is not grounds for a death sentence.”

He sighed and muttered while following her in the corridor. “You promise her one time to someone trying to dominate the world and then you hear nothing else.”

She chortled, pushing him with her shoulder. “One time? Doctor, try three times. And I’m not counting that one time when I had to rescue you from a bloodthirsty princess.”

“Hey! That time was a different me, so it doesn’t count!” he exclaimed, his indignity written all over his face.

“What doesn’t count?” Donna asked absently as they entered the console room, her eyes completely focused on the magazine in front of her.

Rose as a second of surprise when she realized they were already there. She had forgotten how much the TARDIS liked to play around sometimes, before jumping back right into what she was saying. “That I completely saved him from marrying a crazy princess! You should have seen him” She was laughing hysterically at that point. “Screaming his head off to not touch him, clutching as his shirt like a lifeline, and her shrieking that he was the man of her dreams. One minute more and he would have climbed to the ceiling.” She was clutching to the Doctor to stay upright as she was laughing too much at the memory. At the dismay of the Doctor himself. “Jack had to basically strip himself naked, and dance around her to divert her attention.” She looked at him with humor. “I think it took you three weeks to look us in eyes again. And you had to threaten Jack to send him in a supernova to stop him from laughing every time he was seeing you.”

“He would not stop!” said the Doctor with a clear desperation in his voice. “And I had to! Three times he sneaked on me, whispering in my ear to take him right now. It was that or I would have murdered him.”

Donna could not stop laughing at the image. “Oh man! I need to meet that Jack someday.”

All humor left Rose’s face, sobering her up instantanely. “That’s not really something we can do I’m afraid, he is pretty busy at the moment,” she said, completely aware that she was lying through her teeth to her new friend. She stood quickly, needed a little distance now, as she felt the Doctor tense beside her. She knew the Doctor had lied to her that day, saying some beautiful story to placate her, but she was not stupid. Jack Harkness had died fighting for an already lost cause. Dying like the beautiful hero she always knew he was. That day she had lost more than a friend. She had lost a brother, a best friend, a soulmate.

“Jack is… Well…”continued the Doctor, clearly not knowing how to finish that sentence, looking at Rose with concerned eyes. He tried to say something else, but she didn’t want to hear. She never had mourned Jack completely and if brought up the subject right now, she was afraid to lost it there and there.

“But I’m sure you would have loved him!” Rose said, interrupting him with a fake smile, purposely looking Donna in the eyes. “If you ever had the chance to meet him, he would’ve charmed the pants off of you, I’m sure.”

“Quit literally I have to say,” muttered the Doctor in the background.

“Well if one day we cross his way I would gladly introduce myself to him,” Donna enthused, sensing it was a sensible subject and to not dwell on it. “So where are you taking us next, spaceman?”

The Doctor perked right up, jumping to the console with a maniac energy. “Well I was thinking Drexell Three. The sky is red like it’s on fire, and if you’re there at the right time you can see the most magnificent meteor shower!” as he finished his sentence, he was already pushing and pulling buttons and levers all around the console.

As Donna was expressing her enthusiasm, Rose looked at him suspiciously. “Wait. You’re not talking about the planet that was overthrown sixty-six times in three decades?”

He made a strangled sound before clearing his throat and smiling awkwardly. “Maybe?” Donna made her protest loudly clear as soon as the word had left his mouth. Making Rose smile, she officially was fond of the Doctor’s spirited redhead friend.

“But I’m sure everything is going to be fine!” the Doctor said quickly while trying to assure everyone that things would be just fine. “I plan to land on a year when nothing had happened!” he continued, trying to make a point, even if he was sure that he had already lost.

“Yeah sure good idea!” said Donna sarcastically, throwing her magazine in his general direction. “Let’s go to that planet where everything is going to be perfect! Where have I heard that before?” She made a show to look like she was thinking hard, making the Doctor cringe, already knowing what she will say. “Oh I remember! There was Pompeii when you landed on flipping volcano day, and we were almost roasted like a Sunday chicken!” She was now shooting him daggers, and Rose clearly could see it was a sore subject.

“You really landed on Volcano day?” Rose asked curiously.

The Doctor who had now retreated as safe distance, scrubbing his neck with a grimace. “In my defense, I wanted to land in Rome. I didn’t plan to end up in Pompeii…”

Rose had a cheeky smile, humor dancing in her eyes. “How many times I heard that before?”

He pointed to the walls, trying his best to clear his name. “You know that this ship has a mind of her own!”

Donna crossed her arms, a mullish expression on her face. “And that’s why we are not going to Drexwell thing. With your chance we are going directly in the middle of a revolution.”

He sighed. “Drexell three...Ok fine, where would you like to go?”

The two women looked at each other for a few seconds before turning to him again. “Somewhere nice,” started Rose. “Where we’re not running for our life,” added Donna. “And if possible where either of us have never gone,” Rose finished with a smile.

The Doctor looked at the rotor. “You heard that girl? Do you have the place?” And as the light started to blink, the Doctor pulled two lever and with a dramatic gesture punched a big red button. As the TARDIS started to shiver and shake, signaling that she was moving and materializing somewhere, the Doctor looked at them with one of his maniac smile. “Direction anywhere, wherever!”

“Great… We’re definitely landing in the middle of the sun or something,” Donna said with a half serious eye roll as she was resigned their fate where there is no controlling where the TARDIS lands.

Rose could only do one thing in response. She laughed.

Chapter Text

Chapter 18

As the TARDIS materialized, Rose was the first one out of the door. Soon followed by the Doctor and Donna, who were talking about the possibility of the TARDIS going directly into the sun. “For the last time Donna, she cannot go inside a star! It’s ridiculous!” said the Doctor, raising hands to the heaven in exasperation.

“But she can go in the middle of a Black hole without issue,” added Rose with a cheeky smile. Soon followed by a triomphant “Ah!” from Donna, who looked at the Doctor with a boastful grin. He turned to Rose, throwing her a dark look before faltering as she only smiled brighter. He sighed and turned around, trying his best to ignore Donna who was still mocking him with glee, completely aware he could never win when Rose smiled at him like that.

Rose chuckled at the exchange while looking around trying to decipher where they were. She spied a vintage car in the distance. One that her grandfather would have gushed over for hours if he were still alive. Then she rolled her eyes at a realization. Of course, it would be too easy to go somewhere else.

“We’re on Earth. Again,” she said more in direction of the TARDIS than her pilot. “Did we move at all at least?”

The Doctor suddenly started sniffing at the air, looking like one of those anti bomb dog she would sometimes see at the airport. She snorted at the image, almost ready to hear him bark and pant. When he looked at them with a serious look, oblivious to Rose still trying to not double over with laughter, he nodded visibly sure of himself. “Oh, smell that air. Grass and lemonade. And a little bit of mint. A hint of mint. Must be the nineteen twenties,” he said with a satisfied smile.

“You can tell what year it is just by smelling?” Donna asking in surprise of the weirdness that was her best friend. She almost added if he was also capable to smell bullshit but she just barely refrained. And at the face that Rose was making she was clearly not the only one that was thinking that.

Before he could respond, Rose pointed to the Victorian house and car a hundred meters away in front of them, just scarcely concealed by trees and bushes. “I will say, those helped a lot as well…”

“Mostly the lemonade I will say, but let’s see where we are!” the Doctor said before strolling to one of the bushes, closely following by Donna who had never before looked so excited. Rose took one last look at the TARDIS, who was the picture of an innocent time machine, before shaking her head and following them.

“It's supposed to be a party.” Rose heard one of the men say as she moved closer. “All this work will be the death of you,” he finished and then disappeared inside with the two other servants. One she supposed was a butler as he looked rather similar to the one who was employed at her parent’s house in the other universe. At the delight of her mother, who had passed the first three weeks in their new home, asking for the most absurd things just so she could merely say ‘The butler did it!’ again and again. Rose had not been in the best condition at the time to see the humor, but now it was one of her favorite memories of the other universe.

“Never mind Planet Silex or something. A party in the nineteen twenties, that's more like it.” Donna exclaimed, almost jumping up and down at the possibility.

The Doctor looked at them in feigned sadness. “The trouble is, we haven't been invited.” He took out his psychic paper, and glanced at them with visibly forced surprise. “Oh, I forgot. Yes, we have!”

“I need to change into something more...Flapper,” said Donna as they entered the TARDIS again. “Do you think the TARDIS has that?” she asked in direction of her two friends.

“I remember her having clothes for literally every scenario, so I’m sure we can find you something in the wardrobe,” Rose answered before turning to the Doctor. “See you in a half hour!” And took off, dragging Donna behind her.

The Doctor sighed as they disappeared down one of the corridors. He briefly considered moving to the Vortex, because knowing them, they would be at it for hours… “Please, if they aren’t back in one hour, please cut the lights out,” he asked with a tired voice in direction of the time motor. “I want to at least enjoy the cocktails...”

----

“So what do you think of this one?” asked Donna, placing a pink monstrosity in front of her, making Rose frown in disgust. “That’s what I thought,” she said before throwing it back onto one of the rack. “I didn’t realize that the TARDIS had so much clothing hidden back here. It’s really a wonder why he always wears the same thing over and over. I mean, I think I’ve only seen him change ties and perhaps his shirt two times at the most.” She looked puzzled for a second. “Does he at least wash them regularly?”

“I think it’s just how he does things?” Rose answered, not really sure of the answer to that herself. She had try to ask once back when he was in his previous body, but he never really gave her a clear response. “Wait, he doesn't change his shirt? Like ever?” She frowned. That was not like the Doctor she traveled with. Yes he never changed his suit, but she clearly remembered him changing his shirt and tie quite regularly.

Donna shrugged. “I don’t really check, but I’m the suit doesn’t really move that much, that I’m sure.” She suddenly lit up. “Oh! How about that one?” She showed Rose a rather lovely black and gold charleston dress, which was the perfect mix of the era and the spiky personality of the red head.

“Perfect!” Rose exclaimed while still deep into her own rack. “Go try it on. I’m sure you’ll look absolutely banger in that dress.” She took out an outrageous green dress that wouldn’t look out of place in the MET gala and snorted a laugh. She did however hesitate just for one second, wondering if trying to get in it would be worth the look on the Doctor face. But she decided it was clearly too much work and put it back. After a few minutes, still without dress or anything that caught her eyes, she was ready to forfeit and just ask for a perception filter to the Doctor when Donna suddenly appeared, looking really lovely in her new dress.

“Do you think we can found some accessories with that?” She asked, twirling with glee.

Rose smiled widely. “Oh you look fantastic!” She moved to hug her friend, when she tripped on something and almost tumbled into a rail full a clothes. As she tried to get up, Donna asking if she was okay with a voice full of concern, she came face to face with a silver beaded sequin dress that looked absolutely lovely.

“Ooooh! How about this one?” She took it out and showed it to the redhead who grinned instantly when she saw it.

Donna squealed. “It’s absolutely perfect! If the Doctor don’t fall on his arse when he sees you, it’s a real crime against fashion. You have to try it!” Donna pushed her in the cabin, not giving her the possibility to change her mind. “Wait we have to find you accessories too.” Donna was now a woman with a mission.

--

“We'll be late for cocktails if we don’t get out there!” the Doctor yelled from the console room. “And probably supper at this rate,” he grumbled to himself. He would definitely never understand woman in why they needed that much time just to put on clothes, and he resigned to the fact that it would always be a mystery.

“Alright, alright, coming!” Donna called as she appeared. All smile and swagger. “So what do you think? Flapper or slapper?” she asked, doing a little spin as she walked to the Doctor.

He smiled broadly. “Flapper. You look lovely.” He turned around, frowning when he realized that Donna was alone. “Where is Rose? We are really going to be late.”

“Coming, coming!” Rose exclaimed from one of the hallways. “Do you know how hard it is to find nice shoes from that period that’s not a death trap, or look like what my nan would wear?” she asked as she entered the console room, rolling her eyes at the inconvenience. She continued to talk but the Doctor was not hearing anything. All he could see was the striking vision that was Rose Tyler in silver, twirling and spinning around with the biggest smile.

She was magnificent, a picture of beauty and grace. And all he could think was that day back in the early days of their travels, when he realized for the first time that she was simply perfection for him. She had been wrapped in a black dress, all shy smile and excitement, ready to see her first Christmas past. She had stolen his hearts that night. When he had closed the door to the TARDIS, seeing her looking around with childish wonder and big beautiful eyes, he had knew right at the instant that he was doomed. Doomed to fall for an human. A human who would become so important that he would gladly lay his life to save hers, without even looking back. And he would do it over and over if needed, even if the Rose from today would probably make him regenerate again just for having the idea alone.
She had been his supernova back then, the brightest star in the endless sky that was his mind. And now as he looked at her, shining like the heavenly body she was, he realized that nothing had changed. She was still his north Star, the sole light in the darkness.

“Still alive here?” asked Donna, nudging him with a knowing smile.

He suddenly realized he had not breathed since Rose had appeared. “You look beautiful,” he said softly, still a little winded by the vision.

Rose smiled shyly. “You mean for an human?”

She had remembered he realized, as he looked at her hairstyle, which looked rather similar to that night. “No, for any species,” he answered firmly. Before realizing how much he had overplayed himself when the stunned face of Rose was his only response. “I propose that we go now!” he said with an over the top joy, pushing Donna in direction of the door. Sometimes he wanted to hit himself.

--

As Donna and the Doctor were moving at the rapid pace in the direction of the door, Rose was still stunned by the Doctor words. She had been pleased to see his slightly shocked face when she had appeared and even more at his words, but she never expected to have that response when she had teased him. He had always been closed off. Too prompt to divert every compliment and make a joke of heavy moments. She realized that even if she changed, he had changed as well. He was not the same man that shared her life decades earlier. He was still joyful and maddening but he was also deeply wounded. He had not healed from her departure from his life. At least not completely, and she will have to live with that now that they were in each others lives again. She told him to adapt, but it was clear that she would need to do the same.

“You coming?” She heard Donna say from outside. She shook herself, determined to not dwell on it and overthink it and followed behind them.

As she stepped out in the sunlight, the Doctor offered his arms to both of them with a big smile. “Let’s party like the twenties!” Donna laughed, clearly the more excited of the three, and led the way.

They approached the house, seeing more and more people fluttering around, adding food and drink around them. And Rose could not help but smile too. It was the beginning of a great day, she thought, she could feel it.

“Good afternoon!” said the Doctor with his usual charm, already blending in like he belonged.

“Drink Sir? Maam's?” asked the butler with a definite english accent.

“Sidecar please,” asked Donna, looking around with curiosity.

“Lime and Soda for me thank you,” continued the Doctor. Sticking to his non alcohol drink as always.

“Bee knees please, double on the lemon,” requested Rose as the Doctor looked at her with surprise.

She shrugged. “Well, try to survive constant parties at Vitex without alcohol and we’ll talk.”
The Doctor had a second of pause, before shrugging. Fair enough he thought.

“May I announce Lady Clemency Eddison,” the footman loudly announced as a petite older woman made her appearance.

“Lady Eddison!” exclaimed the Doctor when she made her way over to them, like he knew her for half her life. Rose knew it was just a diversion to hide the fact he was, well basically an alien here. But she could not help but the smile at the air of confusion on the lady’s face.

“Forgive me, but who exactly might you be. And what are you doing here?” she asked a little harsly. Not completely sold on the acting of the Doctor.

He pushed his companions in front of him, trying his best to be as charming as possible. “I'm the Doctor. This is Miss Donna Noble, of the Chiswick Nobles.” Donna made a curtsey with much more grace than her when she had to do it for the first time. “And this is Miss Rose Tyler, of the Powell Tyler.” Rose bobbed in a brief curtsey as well, more to the fact that she was not trying to laugh than anything else.

“It’s a pleasure to meet you my lady,” Rose said, trying to remember the few lessons of good manners she had to endure on the other side.

“Good afternoon, my lady. Topping day, what? Spiffing. Top hole,” said Donna in the most hilarious fake posh accent that Rose had ever heard. And that sentiment included her mother.

The Doctor looked at Donna, horrified as Rose was trying her best to not giggle at her friend. “No, no, no, no, no. No, don't do that. Don't,” he muttered as he took out his psychic paper with a flourish and turned around with a smile. “We were thrilled to receive your invitation, my lady. We met at the Ambassador's reception.” Donna and Rose nodded at the affirmation in the background.

Lady Eddison still clearly didn’t know who they were, but was trying her best to not show it. She smiled brightly, leading them to the buffet. “Doctor, how could I forget you? But one must be sure with the Unicorn on the loose.”

The Doctor looked around, positively thrilled at the idea. “A unicorn? Brilliant. Where?“

Rose snorted at the childish manner of the Doctor, rolling her eyes at the posh attitude that everyone was trying to converse around them. Realizing that she’s been there for ten minutes, and she already wanted to bow out and go back to the TARDIS. These kinds of parties were never been her forte, even when she was the Vitex hairess. Well, especially then. It was always anxiety inducing for her, and with time she was less and less comfortable with each party thrown.

As they continued to move in direction of the rest of the group, she did her best to stay behind. Lagging by the buffet as her two friends were oblivious to her departure, too engrossed by the stories of Lady Eddison. When she was sure that she was alone, she turned around, taking out her cocktail as the server passed her, and admired the garden. It was rare for her to see that much peace, and she was savoring it at the best of her capacity, because knowing the Doctor, she would run for her life before the end of the day.

“Rose!” the Doctor called from a few feet away, bringing her out of her thoughts. As she turned around, she could see his face flowing with joy as he approached her with big steps. “I have someone that you have to meet!” he said, taking her hand and pulling her in the direction of a blonde lady that Donna was visibly fangirling over.

“Rose, may I present to you, Agatha Christie,” he said with pride and happiness written all over his face.

Rose looked at the blonde woman, and then the Doctor with shock. “THE Agatha Christie?”

Agatha looked a little taken aback by all the attention. “Yes, that’s me.” She looked at her and then the Doctor for a few seconds and smirked. “Well Doctor, like I said before, the thrill is in the chase, but sometimes even I can be wrong.”

Rose turned to the Doctor, who was visibly embarrassed, as Donna was snickering at the remark. “I don’t understand,”she said, completely lost in the subtext.

“Excuse me, Agatha?” said Roger cutting in the middle of them with a smile. “I have a few questions about your books.”

“If you’ll excuse me,” Agatha announced in direction of the Doctor and his friends before joining the rest of the guests who were visibly eager to grill her on her writing habit.

Rose turned to Donna as the Doctor wandered about. “Did I miss something?” she asked, still not totally sure about what happened.

“Except for fanboy over there making a fool of himself, and me lamenting on the lack of good suitor?” She shrugged. “Not really. But I have to say it’s a banger party! We should let the TARDIS choose more often,” she said, snatching a pastry in passing.

She looked around with a throuthful eyes. “I wouldn’t say no to more authenticity but well you can’t take out England out of the English.”

She raised her glass. “Preach to that.”

The Doctor finally reappeared, looking at a paper with a concerned face. “The date on this newspaper.”

“What about it?” Donna asked mindlessly, still in her discussion with Rose.

He ushered them a few feet away, making sure that nobody would be listening.“ It's the day Agatha Christie disappeared.”

In one movement, Donna and Rose looked at the novelist with interest, who was still laughing away with the colonel and his son. “Why?” asked Rose with intrigue. Donna shared the same sentiment as she looked as eager to learn the response of the Doctor.

“She'd just discovered her husband was having an affair,” he answered, his sad eyes setting on on the joyous blonde. Learning that the person you love with all your heart is now with another was heartbreaking. For every species. Well most of them.

Donna looked somber for a moment, completely understanding the feeling. “You'd never think to look at her, smiling away.” And when she looked at Agatha she could never guess the turmoil she was in. Sad story…

“The curse of being british and with money. If you don’t look happy prepare for a storm...” Rose said with a sad smile, remembering only too well the feeling. She had to endure way too many functions as a Vitex Heiress. Trying her best to look somewhat happy when her heart was still in shreds. Mourning the Doctor while she was vilified in the diverse tabloids because she looked not cheerful enough. Forced too many times to smile when the only thing she wanted was to cry, and grieve her life and love lost to another universe. It had been hell and only time had partly cured that. Time and long months out of view of the world, while she was too busy training for Torchwood and studying for university. She would have exploded if she had to appear like there were no cares in the world again and again. She pitied the poor Agatha.

“Well, that's what they do,” he continued, looking at her with understanding. But she was looking at everything except him. “They carry on. Except for this one time. No one knows exactly what happened. She just vanished. Her car will be found tomorrow morning by the side of a lake. Ten days later, Agatha Christie turns up in a hotel in Harrogate. Said she'd lost her memory. She never spoke about the disappearance till the day she died, but whatever it was…” he said ominously, visibly excited by the mystery that now the heavy subtext was gone.

“And it's about to happen,” said Donna, feeling the excitation of the unknown, sharing smiles with the Doctor.

Rose rolled her eyes, children, they were all children. “And with our chance, right at this instant.”

As soon as she finished her sentence, Chandrakala, who had been sent to retrieve Professor Peach, ran screaming and crying from the house the house. “Professor! The library! Murder! Murder!”

Rose turned to her friends, crossing her arms with a scowl. “You had to jinx it.”

Chapter Text

Chapter 19

Rose had been the last one in the room. When they all barged in, she had been the one doing damage control. She had tried her best to convince the poor butler to wait outside until they could check everything over, wanting of course to spare the poor man the vision of his dead friend. She also had to persuade everyone, well everyone that was not the Doctor, Donna or Agatha Christie to wait in the corridor. Assuring them that the Doctor would be the one with the answers. It had not been easy but she had not been a UNIT colonel for nothing.

“I told everyone to wait outside,” she said in direction of the Doctor as she entered the room, closing the door behind her, making sure they were alone.

“Good choice, Rose “ said the Doctor absently, his attention fully on the various documents he was shuffling through on the desk, as Donna still searched the body of the poor professor for any clue. “We will probably need to ask them some questions after this.” He took out his glasses and scrubbed his eyes.”Nothing worth killing for in that lot. Dry as dust I’m afraid.”

“Hold on,” said Donna, straightening up suddenly, like she just realized something vital. “The Body In The Library? I mean Professor Peach, in the library, with the lead piping?” she asked with a certain glee, looking at Agatha and Rose with the biggest smile possible.

But before anyone could react, the Doctor jumped in the middle, clapping his hands with force and smiled. Redirecting the attention on himself. “I think we’re finished here.”

“Someone should call the police, no?” asked Agatha as the Doctor opened the door, getting face to face with the rest of the guests who were all waiting impatiently in the corridor.

“No need to!” he said, brandishing his psychic paper with a flourish. “Chief Inspector Smith from Scotland Yard, known as the Doctor.” He pushed a startled Donna in front of him. “Miss Noble is the plucky young girl who helps me out. and miss Tyler is...” He turned to Rose with a puzzled look. “Miss Tyler is well…”

She took a step forward, before the Doctor could have the time to put his foot into his mouth and ruin everything. “Rose Tyler, private investigator from the UNIT detective agency,” she said with aplomb.

Clemency looked at her quizzically. “I say…”

“I think it’s time we ask questions to each of you, no?” Donna looked to the group, trying her best to cut the awkward tension that was taking place. And not give the Doctor time to say something stupid.

“Donna is right. Go into the sitting room. We will question each of you in turn,” the Doctor said as Rose closed the door behind them so no one could enter the library.

Agatha Christie nodded in their direction and led the others away, throwing a last confused look at their group before disappearing into one of the sitting rooms. As soon as they were sure they were truly alone, Donna’s smile died out and she turned around, smacking the Doctor on the shoulder who jumped out with a yelp. “The plucky young girl who helps me out?” she said indignantly.

“No policewomen in 1926,” he grumbled, rubbing his arm with a pout, making Rose smile at his childish manner.

“So why Rose is the private investigator then?” Donna challenged with her arms crossed.

Rose grinned widely. “Because contrary of the Doctor, I’m rather good at thinking on my feet in a split second!” she said proudly. The Doctor made a face to her as Donna laughed at his expense.

She gently nudged him, showing him it was just for laughs. As he started to smile at her, she realized something. “So why don’t we phone the real police by the way?” she demanded, curious as to why the Doctor wanted to implicate himself in a human trouble.

“Well…” started the Doctor, putting away his sonic paper into his pocket. “The last thing we want is PC Plod sticking his nose in, especially now that I've found this.” He opened the door of the library and crouched, scraping some gunk off the floorboards. When he stood, he showed them what he had on his finger. “Morphic residue,” he said in a resolute voice.

Donna looked curiously at the strange thing he was showing around. “Morphic? Doesn't sound very 1926.”

He nodded. “It's left behind when certain species genetically re-encode.”

“So does that mean that the killer is an alien?” Rose asked apprehensively, not sure if she wanted the response or not. She could not help but think that she was really glad to wear mostly practical shoes. Because at the rhythm they were going, she was predicting an alien invasion before the end of the evening.

“Yes, and it means one of that lot is an alien in human form,” he said while taking a tissue from Donna, who looked a little repulsed, to wipe out his hand from the weird goo.

“Anyway,” Donna said while trying not to touch the tissue that the Doctor was trying to return to her. “There's a murder. A mystery. And to top it all off, we have Agatha Christie.”

The Doctor looked puzzled. “So? Happens to me all the time.”

“No, but isn't that a bit weird?” Donna continued with extreme excitement at the idea. “Agatha Christie didn't walk around surrounded by murders. Not really. I mean, that's like meeting Charles Dickens and he's surrounded by ghosts at Christmas.”

The Doctor and Rose exchanged a look. “Well…” the Doctor said while scratching his neck.

Rose smiled as the nostalgia filled her head. It had been the adventure that made her realize that her feelings for the Doctor was a little less platonic than planned. “The first time we almost died together,” she offered with a tongue-touching smirk and nudging him playfully.

“I would say it was the first time you were jeopardy friendly but that would be lying,” he said, smiling like a loon. She had been so beautiful that night, making his previous regeneration very jealous of anyone who looked even remotely in Rose’s direction.

“Oh, come on!” Donna huffed in exasperation, cutting short the moment between her two friends without realizing it. “It's not like we could drive across the country, and find Enid Blyton having tea with Noddy.” She had a moment of doubt. “Could we?” she asked, looking at Rose then the Doctor. “Noddy's not real. Is he? Tell me there's no Noddy,” she said with a touch of freight. The idea of him existing was terrifying.

“There's no Noddy,” the Doctor responded, with the most serious face possible. Making Rose snort at the idea that something like that could be legitimately possible in the grand scheme of things.

“Next thing you know, you'll be telling me it's like Murder On The Orient Express, and they all did it,” Donna said with a roll of her eyes at the absurdity they were in.

“Murder on the Orient Express?” Agatha asked as she reappeared in the hallway, visibly tired of waiting for them.

“Just an expression,” Rose said quickly while silencing Donna with her hand, who was clearly two seconds away from putting her foot in her mouth again.

Agatha nodded, pleased with the response. “I’ll keep it in mind.”

The Doctor clapped, moving the attention on himself again. “Anyway!” He said, giving a side look to Rose, who was apologizing discreetly to Donna. “Agatha and I will question the suspects. Rose go interrogate the personnel. And Donna you search the bedrooms. Look for clues.” He leaned in direction. “Any more residue.” He said with arched eyebrows.

As the Doctor was taking out what looked like a magnificent glass from his pocket, Rose was already moving. “I’ll be back in half an hour,” she called out before walking in direction of the kitchen.
---

“So…” Rose started, looking to the three people in front of her. “Have any of you ever met the professor before today?” She asked with the most friendly smile she could muster.

“He had been invited by Miss Eddison multiple times, Miss,” answered the maid with a pinched look. “I’m pretty sure he was a friend of the family.”

“I don't understand why someone would do any harm to that man,” Hart said with a regretful stare in direction of the door, like he could see the poor professor from here. “He was always nice to everyone, even to us. Not all people who come by are like that…”

“Did the professor do anything out of the ordinary today?” Rose asked while mentally taking notes at the same time. Everything said and every behavior observed, and discussed with the Doctor, Donna and Agatha later in private. “Like the fact he was in the library instead of drinking with everyone.”

Davenport nodded his head negatively. “No, he was always like that. Generally he was talking with miss Davenport, or any other guest for a moment, and then he would go to the library for at least an hour before coming back.”

Rose looked at him curiously. “Why the library? Was he was doing research on something specifically?”

Davenport scratched his chin, frowning as he was thinking hard. “I think he was doing research for his book. But I can’t think of what it was all about…”

“A dead man's folly nothing more,” said the maid somewhat grumpily. “Asking foolish questions and whatnot.”

Before Rose could ask anything else or respond to Chandrakala, she heard Donna scream in the distance. Without any second thought, she started to run.

--

She almost collided with the Doctor and Agatha Christie as she had reached the top of the stairs. They only exchanged a glance before running again.

“It’s a giant wasp!” Donna screamed as soon as they set foot on the corridor, making them all stop in their tracks.

“What do you mean, a giant wasp?” The Doctor looked puzzled as Agatha was catching her breath in the background.

Donna looked deeply annoyed. “I mean a wasp that is giant.” She turned to Rose when she saw that the Doctor was clearly still not understanding her. “Rose help me!”

Rose shrugged helplessly. “I don’t understand either. Are you allergic to wasps?” She really tried to understand what was happening but she was completely out of it for once.

Donna raised her arms in despair, frustrated at the lack of comprehension of her friends. “When I say giant, I don't mean big. I mean flipping enormous!” She pointed at the ‘gift’ left behind by the wasp. “Look at its sting.”

The Doctor and Rose exchanged a look, before they looked at the direction that Donna was turned to. “Let me see,” said the Doctor, taking out his specs.

That thing was effectively enormous. And clearly not from this earth, unless the wasp had undergone an extreme mutation without anyone ever realizing it. They had entered the room and as the Doctor was inspecting the bedroom, Rose started to poke the sting, waiting for something to happen. As she further examined it, she wasn’t sure if she wanted to see the creature attached to it…

“It’s gone. Buzzed off,” the Doctor declared as he turned around, disappointment written all over his face, making Rose smile at his definite envy to go head first in trouble.

Agatha crouched beside her, enthralled by the sting.” But that's fascinating,” she said, her hand moving in its direction.

The Doctor bolted in their direction. “Stop, don't touch it!” His tone was frantic, making Agatha jump backward and Rose almost tripping on herself, afraid that the sting was suddenly coming to life. “Let me,” he then said, taking out a pen and scooped some gunk from the stinger into a test tube. Not realizing the black look that Rose was sending his way.

“Giant wasp,” he said as Donna was looking curiously above his shoulder “Well, tons of amorphous insectivorous lifeforms, but none in this galactic vector,” he finished, looking directly to Rose who frowned at the implication.

“I think I understood some of those words. Enough to know that you're completely potty,” said Agatha who appeared annoyed at their visible folly.

“Lost its sting, though.” Donna didn’t hide her utter relief. “That makes it defenceless.”

But all hope she had about that was rapidly crushed by the Doctor. “Oh, a creature this size? Got to be able to grow a new one.”

“Great…” Donna muttered as Agatha was getting more and more irritated by the second. “Can we return to sanity? There are no such things as giant wasps,” she said with a cross of her arms.

“ Exactly. So, the question is: what's it doing here?” he asked as his expression grew more and more serious.

“Maybe he’s visiting?” Rose asked, more to make the Doctor and Donna smile than anything else. With great success as the Doctor snorted.

As Donna opened her mouth to ask something, they heard a scream outside followed by the sound of something heavy hitting the ground. They all looked at each other briefly before going off running.

---

As they had ran outside, they saw the body of the poor maid, still pinned down by what they supposed to be a Gargoyle from the roof of the manor. Rose was the first one to reach her, soon followed by the Doctor, Donna and Agatha. She skidded to her, taking her hand in hers, searching for any means to help her.

“She’s still conscious!” Rose called out urgently while trying her best to comfort Chandrakala, who was in deep shock and dying by the second.

As the Doctor was taking out his sonic screwdriver, Chandrakala suddenly tightened her grip on Rose’s hand. “The poor little child,” she breathed out before suddenly going limp, her hand dropping to the ground.

“She’s dead…” said Rose, tearing up a little. She had talked to her less than fifteen minutes ago and now she was dead. Donna in a gesture of comfort had put her hand on Rose’s shoulder. But it was a sad moment all around. As Agatha was closing the eyes of the maid, they started to hear a strange buzzing sound in the distance.

“There!” yelled the Doctor who was pointing to the roof of the house, where a giant wasp was flying over. They could all see the stinger that was reflecting the light in the distance, showing it has grown back in the few minutes it had disappeared. “Come on!” called the Doctor, already running back to the mansion.

“You were not kidding when you said it was giant!” said Rose, trying her best to keep the pace as the Doctor was already inside.

“You don’t say!” Donna answered with as much sarcasm as possible, as they had reached the stairs. She then turned to Rose with a smile. “Hey, this makes a change. There's a monster, and we're chasing it this time.”

But Agatha was clearly not having it. “It can't be a monster. It's a trick. They Do It With Mirrors!” she insisted while trying her best to find any thread of normality. Reminding Rose from her time with Charles Dickens. Apparently historical figures and alien didn’t mix well.

As they reached the upstairs corridor, they were greeted by the sight of the Doctor having a standoff with the giant wasp. “By all that's holy,” said Agatha, horrified at what she was seeing.

“Oh, but you are wonderful. Now just stop. Stop there,” commanded the Doctor as the wasp was lunging at him, scraping the wall with his stinger, making it impossible for Rose and Donna to approach or help the Doctor.

“We need to help him!” hissed Rose as she tried for the third time to move forward, but without any possibilities as she didn’t have any possible weapon at the moment, not even a heel as she had chosen to wear flat shoes for the day. She was turning around widely, trying to find anything that could help.

“Oi, fly boy,” Donna suddenly yelled, making wild gestures in the direction of the wasp, who turned his attention to her. As Rose was internally contemplating her friend’s sanity, Donna took out the magnifying glass and pointed it in the direction of the insect, who retracted back into another corridor.

“Don't let it get away!” the Doctor yelled out frantically, who looked a little tousled after his little face to face with the flying creature. “Quick, before it reverts back to human form!” They tried to follow the creature, but it was nearly impossible as he took off with an almost impossible speed.

After a few seconds they turned to what seemed a dead-end “Where are you? Come on. There's nowhere to run. Show yourself!” the Doctor challenged with satisfaction. But before he could gloat further, all of the doors opened, letting out every guest from the party. The shoulders of the Doctor slumped at the realisation that he had been beaten by a giant insect. “Oh, that's just cheating….”

Donna and Rose could not help themselves and laughed.

Chapter Text

Chapter 20

The atmosphere of the room was definitely melancholic, and solemn as everyone swallowed the news that was delivered to them a few minutes ago. Miss Eddison more than any other, as she had almost collapsed when she realized that her long life friend was now gone.

“My faithful companion, this is terrible,” mourned Clemency with sadness written all over her face, a tissue crumpled in her trembling hands. She looked at her son with big sad eyes, trying to find the strength to stay upright and proper, but found it extremely difficult as she was sniffing into her handkerchief. Rose could only sympathize at her pain. She had known the housekeeper for only a few minutes, barely enough time to talk to her, but she had held her hand as she had slipped away. And she could not help but feel that things were now more personal.

She had lost a lot of people in her life. Had been witness to the last moments of more than one soldier. But poor Chandrakala had just been an innocent woman. A victim of something beyond her grasp. But as she realized that the sadness was taking her toll on her, Rose pressed her head further into the Doctor’s chest, in search of a comfort only he had been able to give in the past. Without a second thought, he tightened his hold on her.

“Excuse me, my lady,” Davenport offered as he approached Miss Eddison. “But she was on her way to tell you something.”

That made Clemency clearly more somber by the second. “She never found me. She had an appointment in death instead,” she finished in a dramatic exclamation. After a last wistful look in the direction of the garden, she took her glass of wine and drowned it in a matter of seconds. Before she could ask for a second, Donna grabbed it away and dropped it off smoothly on the coffee table. She exchanged a quick smirk with the Doctor before turning her attention to the discussion at hand.

“She said ‘the poor little child’,” interjected the Doctor, trying his best to come closer to the conversation without moving from Rose, who was practically molded again his side. “Does that mean anything to anyone?”

Curbishley shrugged, his eyes looking in the distance. “No children in this house for years. Highly unlikely there ever will be.”

Rose stiffened, suddenly remembering something, making the Doctor softly whine as she moved away from him. “When I asked her questions about him earlier, she said something about a book written by the professor. Could that be linked?”

They all looked at each other for a few seconds before the lady of the house turned to Agatha, eagerness written all over her face. “Mrs. Christie, you must have twigged something. You've written simply the best detective stories.”

“Yes, tell us. What would Poirot do?” continued Golightly with curiosity, as Agatha looked more and more like she wanted to be anywhere but here.

“Heaven's sake. Cards on the table, woman. You should be helping us!” Curbishley roared with temper when Agatha didn’t magically produce a solution. He was visibly frustrated but Rose was having none of that.

“Hey calm down!” Rose said with authority, as the Doctor was gripping her shoulder with force so she was not tempted to confront one of them directly. “Everyone needs to take a step down and relax ok?” But the damage was already done.

“I’m merely a writer” Said Agatha as she looked to the ground, shame creeping from her voice.

Robina put one of her hands on Agatha side, a soft smile on her face. “But surely you can crack it. These events, they're exactly like one of your plots.”

Donna nodded with vigor. “That's what I've been saying. Agatha, that's gotta mean something” The intentions were commendable, as they were trying their best to shore up her confidence. But the blonde woman was having none of that.

“But what?” Said Agatha with a haunted look. Looking back and forth between Donna and the Doctor. “I've no answers. None. I'm sorry, all of you. I'm truly sorry, but I've failed. If anyone can help us, then it's the Doctor, not me.” And then she stood up and disappeared out of the door, leaving the rest of the group in a stunned silence.

Lady Eddison turned to her husband. “What should we do?”

Before anyone had time to respond, Donna was already up and marching in the direction of the garden. “Let me talk to her.”

As they watched her retreating back, they all jumped when the Doctor suddenly clapped his hands. “Well!” he said with cheerfulness, as Rose was throwing him a black look. “I think it’s time everyone goes back to their chambers. Let the police do their pursuit like we said!”

“Do their job…” she whispered to him as everyone looked at him like he was starting to lose it. So not something really different for him.

He turned to her with a bewildered face. “What?”

She sighed. Sometimes she was forgetting how alien he was. “Nevermind…” She patted him on the forearm as he was still completely oblivious and turned to the rest of the group with the most friendly smile she could muster. “What my friend was trying to say is that we need to conduct some additional investigations, and we will call you when you will be further needed. After all this, a little rest would be good for the nerves. Right Doctor?” When he didn’t react, she poked him in the ribs, making him yelp.

“Right!” said the Doctor, massaging his side with a slight grimace. When he realized they were still unsure about what to do, he motioned at the butler. “Could you...?”

Greeves nodded and opened the door. “Right this way ladies and gentlemen.”

Curbishley looked at them dubiously, clearly not convicted but clearly too english to tell anything. “Well if you say so, Doctor…” he said while rolling out of the room, his son and wife on his heels. A few seconds later, the reverend and Robina followed pace and with a last nod Greeves closed the door behind him.

After a few seconds of silence the Doctor turned to Rose, outrage comically written all over his face, making her smile at the exaggeration. “What did I do this time?”

“Just you being you.” She said affectionately, bumping him with her shoulder, making him beam like a mad man. Sometimes she swore he was like a puppy on a sugar rush. “So what should we do now?” She finally asked we he made no movement to move from beside her. Not that she was complaining at the moment. After Chandrakala’s death, she was still a little shaken and having him as a support was really helpful for her.

“Well first I think we need to let Donna do her magic, and then I’d say find the Vespiform and then live happily ever after!” he winced. “Well, except for poor Professor and miss Chandrakala…” He looked at her with big sad eyes. “Sorry.”

As a response, she put down her head on his shoulder and sighed. It was in moments like this that she missed UNIT. At least half of the time, a report was a false alarm and everyone could go home. However, when it involves the Doctor; you had more of a chance for things to start as an innocent and peaceful celebration to the Sun, and finish in the middle of a revolution to overthrow a bloodthirsty tyrant bent on ruining the moment.

But, it’s not like she didn’t know all this when she decided to come back. But at least she was doing it with her best friend, and she wouldn’t trade it for the world. Even if it was not meant to last forever.

The Doctor tensed briefly as he felt Rose head on him. So sure that if he started to move even so slightly she will realize what she was doing and move away. Like she did so many times. He knew they were supposed to take their time. Learn to know each other all over again. But he was missing her so fiercely that sometimes he was longing to just touch her, and the fact she was approaching him not once but two times in a span of ten minutes made him think it really was his lucky day. That maybe the old Rose and the old Doctor were there somewhere just waiting to get back to where things were when they were separated. As his embrace tightened around Rose, Donna and Agatha entered with a clatter into the room.

“Look what we found!” Donna said with excitement as she put down a small case near the Doctor.

Rose was the first one to move, looking curiously at their findings. “Where did you find this?”

“Just outside by the wall. Right in the flowerbeds,” exclaimed Agatha, her demeanor reflecting the excitation she was feeling.

“That means someone was probably wanting to urgently get rid of it.” Rose turned to the Doctor with a grin. “You know what that means?”

He looked at her in surprise, his eyebrows almost disappearing into his hairline. He was clearly not following her. “Uh no?”

Her grin moved to a full smile as the twinkle in her eyes intensified. “Someone is hiding something. And you know who generally hides that kind of stuff?” As he looked around, seeing Donna laughing behind Agatha, he realized she was probably making fun of him somehow. But as he started to open his mouth he realized he had missed this.

He greatly missed the banter, along with the teasing, and of course that oh so special smile of hers. She could probably start to make fun of him openly, and he would still be desperately in need of her. Somewhere in his mind he could hear all his previous incarnations laugh at him, and he could not blame them for one second.

He sighed, more tired of his own reaction than anything else. “No?”

“The house staff!” Rose and Donna said in unison, beaming like they had the response to the universe’s biggest mysteries. They high fived each other as Agatha Christie was clearly bewildered by the attitude of her new friends. “I’m going to interrogate them, you...” She pointed to him with a wink. “Search for clues in that thing.”

The Doctor was positively glowing, his energy renewed as he asked, “Shiver and Shake?”

She smiled that special smile of hers, making him feeling like he was the most luckiest gallifreyan in the universe. “Hope and Glory.”

As Rose looked at her friends, momentarily forgetting that the world beside them existed, Donna felt her eyes rolls so hard she was afraid for a second they would get stuck in the wrong place. “Oh for God sake get a room you two!” she grumbled, a little uncomfortable to be in the middle of their love parade.

They jumped and Rose felt herself blush. As the Doctor was blubbering something, she realized that she had totally lost her focus for a minute. She had let herself be swept away by her memories of her past with the Doctor, and for a moment she had been the naive Rose Tyler of long ago. “I’m going to interrogate them. See you later,” Rose mumbled, fully embarrassed with herself.

And before they could say anything, she was out of the door. But not without hearing Donna talk one last time. “Sometimes I wonder if I should just lock you two in a cupboard, and throw away the key.”
Fortunately for her though, she closed the door before she could hear the Doctor response. She was mortified.

She almost collided with Greeves in her haste to leave the room, where she could faintly hear what she supposed was banter between Donna and the Doctor. He avoided her at the last second, nearly topping over the tray he had in hands. “Madam!” he said with alarm, checking in at the same time that he had not spilled anything on her.

“Oh sorry, Greeves.” She had been too preoccupied to see him. She debated for a second to ask him a question then and there, but she needed to be as far from the Doctor as possible at the moment. And the middle of a corridor was not the best of places. Especially with a tray full of glass. “Can you come to the kitchen when you have finished your task please?” Rose asked politely while taking a drink in a swift movement. “I need to ask you a few questions if you don’t mind.”

He bowed. “Certainly madam.”

She smiled briefly one last time and walked with a decided step in the direction of the kitchen, letting Greeves get on with his task. And especially as far as possible from the Doctor and her own shame.

----

“So Davenport, what can you tell me about those people?” She had been right. When she had entered the kitchen she had heard them discussing the guest, but unfortunately they all quieted down when she had made her presence known. She was now trying to convince them to open up again, but she was having no luck at the moment.

“Well…” He started before being interrupted by a frantic crash noise and scream in the distance. They all turned their heads as they realized that the noise was coming in their direction, getting louder and louder with each second. Like someone was intentionally hitting on every corner and furniture in their passage. Davenport frowned. “What the...?!” But before he could finish his sentence, the Doctor crashed through the door, staggered around the place like he was drunk, soon followed by a distraught Donna and Agatha.

“Ginger Beer!” the Doctor screamed out, almost colliding with Rose in his haste to reach the bottle that was on the table near her.

The cook looked at him, horrified by his erratic movement. “The gentleman's gone mad!”

“What’s happening?” Rose almost yelled at Donna as she intercepted the Doctor, trying her best to make him stop moving, as he was almost drenching himself with the beer.

“He is been poisoned by cyanide. Alas,” Agatha answered with a wince, “no cure I’m afraid.”

She turned to the Doctor with fright. “What? How?”

“Not for me.” He nearly spat out the ginger beer on her as he tried to smile reassuringly to her, but it only worried her more. “ I can stimulate the inhibited enzymes into reversal.” He turned to Donna. “Protein. I need protein.”

Donna grabbed a jar and handed him over. “Walnut?”

He snatched it almost violently from her while smiling maniacally. “Brillant!”

As he started to gorge himself with the nuts, Rose grabbed Donna by the shoulder, who was going back and forth between the pantry and the Doctor in her haste to find something - anything - that could work on her friend. She needed to ground the redhead enough so she could get her answers. “Donna, what happened?” she asked urgently. Her best friend was possibly dying, and if she didn’t want to lose it on everyone right there, she needed facts. Right now.

“I don’t know! He drank from his glass and then he started to scream about being poisoned before making a dash to the kitchen!” Donna for once didn’t know what to do and the panic was starting to eat away her composure. What if her best friend was really dying? What if she was losing him?

Rose saw the dread and confusion in Donna eyes, and let the soldier in her took over. It was no time for alarm. Not with the life of the Doctor at stake.

“Donna! I need you to focus!” she commanded, forcing her friend to look at her and focus. “We will find a solution ok? But not if you let hysteria take over. Understand?” Donna nodded, somewhat calmed by the self control that Rose was showing.

Rose nodded too, trying her best to not show she was also in complete shambles inside, merely seconds away from losing herself and doing something extremely regretful. Because for now she needed to save the Doctor. By any means possible. She would have time to collapse when everything was over and well. Alone in her room.

“Salt!” called the Doctor from behind them, making them turn around in one move. “I need salt!”

Rose was the first one to see the container with the salt and quickly held it out to him, trying her best to not drop anything with her shaking. “There!”

He grabbed it, but made a face when he realized what was inside. “No too salty.”

“He asks for salt, and then he complains that’s too salty.” Donna rolled her eyes at the dramatics of her friend. But Rose was too worried at the moment to see the humor of the situation. She was almost knocking over the shelf in search of something less salty but still enough for the Doctor.

“Anchovy?” Agatha offered in the background, as she was looking over a few containers.

“Yes!” the Doctor exclaimed, his face illuminated with an almost glee as Donna passed him the jar that Agatha had found. He downed it almost in one go, making Donna recoil in disgust. But when he looked over to Rose, she knew right at that instant that he didn’t work. The painful stare they exchanged was response enough.

He tried to say something, but his erratic behavior was making it difficult. “What is it? What else? It's a song? Mammy? I don't know. Camptown Races?” Donna desperately tried in a last effort to find a solution. Any solution at this point would be welcome.

He stopped his unpredictable and confusing gesture that he was trying to use as communication. “Camptown Races?” he asked, genuinely confused by the questions.

Donna shrugged. At least she had tried. “Well, all right then, Towering Inferno.”

But before they could continue their bantering, Rose seized the Doctor by the ribs and forced him to look at her eyes to eyes. “Doctor, what do you need?” She didn’t have time to let them fumble around for a solution. Time was critical and they already lost enough as it is. She was not ready to say goodbye to this Doctor. Not in this time, and definitely not in this condition.

As she asked him that question, she realized by looking into his eyes that he was trying everything he could to think of what he would propose as his last chance. If what he said right at that moment didn’t work, it was over. She saw the spark of fear in his eyes but she was not ready to let that win. Not if she had a say. “Tell me. What do you need… Please,” she asked again, trying her best to show faith in him with her eyes and smile.

“Shock. I need a shock,” he answered.

Donna nodded and started to walk towards the Doctor with purpose. “Right then. Big shock coming up.” But she was stopped by Rose who halted her with her arm, her eyes still locked to the Doctor.

Rose knew that her friend would have found something shocking enough to shake the Doctor out of any poison known to men. Most probably something hilarious and memorable knowing Donna. Like slapping the future regenerations clear out of him. Or something else just as outrageous. But she wanted to be the one to do it.

She wanted to prove to the Doctor that Rose Tyler was still to be trusted. That even in the midst of them trying to find their footing that was once the Doctor and Rose, the stuff of legend, they were still that man and that woman who had promised the universe to each other. She had traveled the world, the universe and even the multiverse for him. So she smiled at him and did what she had promised herself a long time ago not to do.

Because she decided then and there that he was worth the heartbreak.

“Doctor. I’m immortal.”

Chapter Text

Chapter 21

The Doctor took two steps back, looking at her with wide eyes as Donna gasped out loud in the background. He tried to move, but as he started to go in her direction, he suddenly fell back heavily into a chair, like all the energy in his body had been drained from him. His face was white as a sheet, like he was two seconds away from unconsciousness.

As Rose was starting to think she made a mistake, that she had traumatized him rather than shocked him; he opened his mouth and a thick black smoke erupted from his mouth then quickly dissipated into the air.

For a few seconds, nobody moved or took a breath, not sure about what to do next. Was he still dying? Or did he manage to finish the detox in time?

Donna poked him in the ribs, making sure he was still alive and not on the verge of dying or collapsing. When she saw he was finally regaining color and was looking better by the second, she turned to Rose with a shocked face and exclaimed, “You’re what?!” Suddenly realizing the impact of what Rose had said a few seconds earlier.

“You are all impossible,” added Agatha, her voice trembling under so many new emotions. She looked at them all with big eyes, clearly still unsure about what was happening.

“Were you serious?” the Doctor asked in a deep voice, trying his best to take control of the situation which had been long gone from him.

Rose could only nod, her gaze diverting to the floor. She was not really sure what to say now, or if there was anything that she really could add to the conversation. She had mostly played in the heat of the moment, her head only focused on saving the Doctor by any means possible. Even if it was by giving away her most guarded secret. But now that the ash has settled, she realized that she hadn’t planned on how to handle the aftermath of her admission.

“Like immortal for real? Until the end of time kind of thing?” Donna could not believe her ears. She knew that Rose was special and all, but the Doctor had always insisted that she was human, just like her. “Wait!” She turned to the Doctor. “You told me she was human!”

“She was!” he squealed, his determined face crumbling fast under the panic he was starting to feel. Rose had been desperately human when they traveled together, and he had examined her enough times to be sure of it. He had been scared after her brush with the Vortex, but everything had come back with the same result every time: she could not be anything but human.

The redhead looked at him suspiciously. “If travelling with you is making me like you I swear…”

Before the situation could degenerate more, Rose stepped in. “No, none of this is the Doctor's fault. Just my fault,” she said in direction of Donna before she had the idea to throttle him for false information. “Well…” She turned to the Doctor with a weak smile. “Mine and the TARDIS somehow.”

The Doctor’s face became ashen. “But that’s impossible! I took everything away. I made sure of it.”

She laughed humorlessly. “Apparently, you weren’t that thorough.”

“Can someone care to explain to the one in the back?” Donna asked irritably, completely fed up with the double entendre and all that. She wanted answers, not playful banter.

“I’m sorry, Donna, but we really don’t have the time right now. It’s a very long and complicated story, and we’re really not in the right place…” She eyed the multiple people who were looking at them like they were good for the asylum. And Agatha Christie was clearly not thinking of them a clear of mind at the moment.

The Doctor seized her arm, all humor gone from his eyes, replaced with steel and fire. “When this is finished, we are going to talk about this.” His voice had never been that cold towards her, and she had an involuntary chill at the implication. At that instant she knew that from now on, and until she could prove him otherwise, she was not Rose to him.

“I swear. I will tell you everything,” she promised while looking in the direction of the Doctor than Donna. Who looked satisfied at the perspective to finally have an answer from at least one of them.

But the Doctor was closing himself off with each second that passed. She knew it was mostly a defense mechanism when he was starting to feel overwhelmed by his feelings, especially ones that were not so good. But she could not help but feel hurt by the sudden distrust. She should had felt it coming. I mean for him Rose Tyler was as human as they come, not some sort of monstrosity of nature. But she was still herself, deep down. She had changed yes, but her fundamental nature was still the same. Well she hoped it was.

He looked at her one last time, his eyes exulting fire and ice like she had never seen before, a last warning if you will, before turning away to the household with a maniac smile on his face. As he started to babble away, distracting everyone from the events of the last ten minutes, she realized that seeing like that was somewhat attractive for a part of her, and not necessarily the one she wanted anyone to see. The Oncoming Storm seething in him, that part he was trying his damndest to never show to anyone, was making the Wolf in her stir and howl deep inside her, like she was calling to something. And she was not really sure on how to manage it.

As the Doctor was most likely explaining a plan to his captive audience, she retreated to the background, trying her best to calm the beast inside her. These sensations were new for her. She could feel Bad Wolf coming out, but she was not trying to take over or show any aggression. It didn’t feel like she needed to protect her from what she thought in her powerful mind as a menace. She was not fighting for control neither for domination. She was just waiting. But she didn’t know what for.

As she was trying to decipher the whisper of the other part of herself, she didn’t see Donna approach her until she just barely entered her peripheral vision, making her almost jump out of her skin in surprise.

“Sorry. I didn’t want to frighten you,” Donna said carefully as she sat down beside Rose. “I just wanted to tell you that…” She paused while tapping her hand on the nearest surface in emphasis. “For me: immortal, mortal or whatever you are... It doesn’t change anything for me. I still think you are pretty bonkers either way.”

Rose could not help herself, and burst into laughter at the words of her friend. Making the Doctor side eye her in the distance. She had prepared herself for every sort of response one would normally receive, from disgust to freight to curiosity even, but not in a million years would she have been prepared for Donna’s response.

“And a smile! That’s what I wanted to see,” Donna said happily. She had to admit that Rose’s revelation had been a shock, but her best friend was an alien from outer space who travelled in time. So nothing could really faze her anymore. “I’m sorry about my reaction, it was a spur of the moment.” Donna looked really contrite. “I really don’t have anything against you. It’s just…” She looked at the Doctor who was gesticulating all around the place. “He talked so much about you. And you seemed so human…”

“I’m still human!” Rose said in a rush to clarify that oh so vital piece of information. “Well mostly… I’m just different now… It’s really complicated to explain it like that…”

Donna put her hand on Rose’s leg. “You don’t have to explain yourself to me. I mean yeah, I do want to hear more about this, but your priority should be the Doctor.” She had a slight grimace. “Well, the killer wasp and then the Doctor.” Rose had a small laugh, making Donna smirk. “Feel better?”

And as they exchanged a smile, she realized that yes she was feeling better now and the Wolf was now calmed, back in slumber like nothing happened.

But that quiet moment was short lived as the Doctor headed towards them with a resolute path. “I have a plan,” he said, his face serious and grave, mostly focused on Donna than Rose. Who was trying to not take it personally.

---

The weather had gone sour in the time it took for the Doctor to explain what he was trying to achieve, and be sure that everything was ready for the big set up. Rose had expressed some scepticism, but it had been short lived as the Doctor had reaffirmed he knew what he was doing. And as Donna had said, it’s not like they really had a choice.
That’s how they all came together in the dining room, trying to eat like nothing happened. Thunder and lightning rumbling in the background.

“I swear if someone knocks at the door right at that moment I’m going to scream,” Rose whispered to Donna, who snorted into the soup bowl she had just been served. She tried to disguise it as a cough, but Rose giggling beside her was a dead give away.

“A terrible day for all of us,” began the Doctor with a clear voice, trying to distract the group from Donna, who was still giggling with Rose. “The Professor struck down. Miss Chandrakala taken cruelly from us. And yet we still take dinner.”

Miss Eddison threw him an annoyed look. “We are British, Doctor. What else must we do?” she said in her most pinched voice. He had definitely touched a sensible point.

“Be a little less stuck up maybe?” Donna mumbled to herself. But she had been overheard by Rose who swallowed wrongly as she laughed at the quip.

All the attention of the table was now on her as she coughed multiple times, trying her best to not choke herself with a bowl of soup. The Doctor was looking mildly annoyed as his theatrics had been interrupted. The only one who was still smiling was Donna, with good reason.

“Sorry,” Rose said, tears streaming in her face as she was finally getting a hold on herself. “It’s a little too spicy for me.”

“Oh I was thinking the same thing!” said miss Eddison’s husband with joy. “It has a certain kick that’s not unpleasant.”

The Doctor straightened up, realizing that his plan was back on track. “It’s because I had spiced it up with pepper.” He turned to Agatha. “Do you know why pepper?”

She rolled her eyes, knowing already the plan but she still humored him. “No, Doctor. But I’m sure you would gladly tell us.”

“The active ingredient of pepper is piperine, traditionally used as an insecticide.” He looked around, trying to find any sign of a start of a metamorphose. “So, anyone got the shivers?”

In a dramatic effect, the thunder exploded as soon as he finished his phrase. The window flew open dramatically and the candles extinguished, plunging everything in the dark.

“Perfect timing!” Rose said cheerfully, who was feeling more and more by the second in a gothic novel.

The Doctor shushed everyone before anyone had time to respond. “Listen!”

Everyone stopped talking and moving. Donna was almost certain than some of them had even stopped breathing just in case. After a few seconds, she realized that she could hear a faint buzzing sound.

She heard a gasp in front of her. “No it can be!” Clemency exclaimed with a voice mixing fright and wonder.

Before anyone could ponder about her sudden exclamation, the thunder illuminated the room multiple times. Each time more and more louder with each lightning strike. And every time it happened, the buzzing sound intensified, like he was feeding off it.

“Show yourself demon!” screamed Agatha as she got up.

The Doctor stood up in turn, his arms wide open, trying his best to calm the group. “No nobody move! Stay where you are!”

But it was too late. When the lightning struck once again, it illuminated the wasp who was now in the middle of them, poised and ready to hit.

Rose was the first out of her chair, prepared to go face to face with the creature. But as she placed herself between the wasp and the rest of the group, she realized that she had nothing to actually fight it with. Before she could face real harm, she felt herself tugged firmly backward, almost tripping on herself.

“Out, out, out, out, out!” screamed the Doctor behind her as he pushed her out of the room, closing the door behind him, releasing Rose in the same movement.

“Good idea, Rose,” Donna snarked from her spot beside Greeves, who looked worse for wear. “Go face to face with the ginormous monster armed with absolutely nothing! Absolutely nothing could go wrong.” The intensity of the glare she gave made Rose almost consider searching for cover. She was now understanding why the Doctor was a little wary of the redhead. You really didn’t want to be on her bad side.

“I didn’t think…” she admitted with a little bit of shame. “I realized too late that I was not armed.”

“Can I remind you that you are not…!” the Doctor started furiously, before realizing what he was about to say. He suddenly deflated and turned away from her, trying his best to look disinterested. “Nevermind…” He shifted his attention to Agatha who was trying to arm herself with a vase, missing the dejected look on Rose face at his attitude. “Not you, Agatha. You've got a long, long life to live yet.” He took one of the swords from the paneled wall and barged back into the room, Greeves hotly on his heel.

Donna bumped shoulders with Rose and smiled. “Well, we know the butler didn't do it.” She tried to cheer up her friend. But it was to no avail, as Rose was rather hurt by the Doctor’s stubbornness. Donna was thinking that if her friend was not seeing the light by the time Rose had fully explained herself, she would smack him into oblivion. They decided to follow the Doctor, just in case he fully intended to attack the wasp with a sword. But as they entered the place, she didn’t have more time to dwell on a plan as Clemency started to scream about missing jewelry.

However before anyone had time to react, Davenport gasped loudly. “Roger!” he moaned with visible distress.

They all turned in his direction, to see a now deceased Roger Eddison with a visible stab wound to his back.

“My son! My child!” screamed Clemency as she ran to the body of her child. She touched him, and when she realized that he was really dead, she collapsed. Her wailing of pure agony breaking everyone's heart.

Her husband was the first one beside her, trying his best to comfort his wife without breaking into pieces himself. In the background Greeves ushered Davenport outside, who was visibly on the verge of a collapse himself. Rose wanted to follow them but she didn’t know how to start. It was another time and she was afraid to worsen his pain by trying to be present. She turned to the Doctor, who was looking sadly in direction of the couple. Nobody else was moving, too afraid to disturb the grieving mother.

After a few moments, Donna took charge and pushed everyone outside, explaining that now was the time for the police to do their work. She asked them to go into one of the sitting rooms, exchanging a look with Greeves who was now back, and then returned to the group.

“What should we do?” she asked in a low voice to her companions, who looked as lost as her.

“Give them some privacy I think,” Rose suggested, who wanted to be anywhere but here. She had the impression she was imposing in a private moment, and she hated that.

The Doctor nodded. “Yes, let them mourn for the moment… There is nothing we can do for now.”

Agatha Christie was the one to close the door on them, muffling the sound of the loud crying.
“And now what?” she asked, not really sure about the path to follow. She was a writer. She could imagine death, but she had no real experience being face to face with it.

The Doctor sighed. “It’s really sad but we really need answers now. Before someone else is murdered.” He turned to Donna. “When Miss Eddison is a little more calm, I need you to ask questions about the jewelry she has. How much it’s worth. Where did she get it etc, etc. You know the drill.” She nodded at the instruction. “Rose, we need to have some arrangements done for poor Roger. And I don’t think the Eddisons are up to it at the moment, can you see to it?”

“I will ask Greeves, he will be better suited for that kind of thing, I think.” Without waiting for a response, she was gone, her head already on her mission.

“Let’s meet in the blue sitting room when you have finished okay?” He said as his companions were going their ways. He then turned to Agatha. “Let’s go shall we?” he proposed, opening the door from the sitting room in question.

As they entered the next room, the Doctor realized he had probably lost all control of the situation. He had only wanted to show a little bit of fun to his friends. Maybe impress Rose, but then everything had gone to hell and now… Well now all he wanted was to finish this adventure without losing another part of himself.

If Rose was really immortal… If that was even the real Rose. He didn’t want to think about the implication. He certainly didn’t want to think about how he had managed to screw over the life of one of his companions. Again...

He never felt more alone.

Chapter Text

Chapter 22

The atmosphere was definitely morose as Donna and Rose entered the room. Donna had been tasked with asking the questions, as Rose had been trying her best to find arrangements with Greeves for poor Roger. At the same time, she also tried her best to comfort Davenport, but he had refused to even see anyone, claiming that he was trying to mend his broken heart in private.

“Poor Davenport,” said Rose with sadness. “He was supposed to go on without anyone knowing about him and Roger. It’s terrible…”

Donna scoffed. “I don’t get it. It’s 1926, time to come into the modern age, not the dark ages.”

“Did you inquire after the necklace?” Agatha asked excitedly.

Donna nodded as they sat down in one of the sofas. “Lady Eddison bought it back from India. It's worth thousands.”

The Doctor was still pacing around trying to find the piece that completed the puzzle. He was so occupied in his thoughts, that he hadn’t noticed Rose and Donna’s return or the conversation that they were having with Agatha. “This thing can sting. It can fly. It could wipe us all out in seconds. Why is it playing this game?” he wondered aloud while sinking into the chair.

“Every murder is essentially the same.” Agatha shrugged as if it was a key piece of evidence. “They are committed because somebody wants something.”

“But what does a Vespiform want?” The Doctor was frustrated, and it was starting to show as he stood up and started to pace again.

“Money maybe?” Rose offered tentatively. For once she was stumped.

Agatha rolled her eyes. “You two stop it. The murderer is as human as you or I.”

The Doctor stopped short and turned around so fast, he almost collided with the furniture. “You're right!” he yelled, making Agatha jump in surprise. “Ah, I've been so caught up with giant wasps that I've forgotten.” His hair was now looking like he had gone through a hurricane with how much he had pulled it, making Rose smile at his adorableness. “You're the expert.”

She scoffed at the nonsense. ”I'm not. I told you. I'm just a purveyor of nonsense,” she said with an indulgent smile, like she was talking to a child.

But the Doctor was not deterred. “No. No. No. Because plenty of people write detective stories, but yours are the best.” He was now pacing with more vigor, but this time from excitation. “And why? Why are you so good, Agatha Christie? Because you understand. You've lived.You've fought. You've had your heart broken.” He had a brief look to Rose who felt her heart skip a beat involuntarily. “You have a way of understanding people at their core. Their passions. Their hope and despair. And most importantly: their anger. All of those tiny, yet huge things that can turn the most ordinary person into a killer. Just think, Agatha. If anyone can solve this, it's you. “

And just like that Agatha Christie had an idea.

---

As they were all gathered in the room, Rose could not help but feel like she was in one of those Hercule Poirot episodes that her mom would watch obsessively when she was a kid. He had been a fixed part of those lazy Sunday with her mom, when it had been too rainy or too cold to play outside. And now she was almost waiting for him to come in and announce the murderer. She smiled at the image, especially as she observed the present crowd. Saying it would be a surprise would be an understatement, she amused herself thinking. She wondered who would be the most surprised? The Doctor or Donna? But before she could dwell on that, the Doctor made his entrance, closing the door with a dramatic flourish. She heard Donna snorting behind her, visibly entertained by the dramatism of their friend.

“I've called you here on this Endless Night,” he started, moving from person to person, his hands crossed behind his back. Looking each of them suspiciously. “Because we have a murderer in our midst.” He held a second of silence, increasing the theatrics of his demeanor. He was really enjoying this, Rose mused. “And so, when it comes to detection of those murderers, there's none finer. Ladies and gentlemen, I give you, Agatha Christie.” Like she was waiting for that moment, Agatha opened the door, appearing triumphant on the door frame, smiling like she knew all of their secrets.

Rose and Donna exchanged a look, not really sure what was happening. Agatha had just started to explain what she was thinking, when the Doctor had charged them to summon everyone. And they obviously had been busy while they were gone.

“This is a crooked house,” she started almost as theatrically than the Doctor. “A house of secrets.” She walked slowly, knowing all eyes were on her. “To understand the solution, we must examine them all.” She turned to the youngest in the room. “Starting with you, Miss Redmond.”

They all turned to her in one move. “But I'm innocent, surely?” Robina said, however with a touch of nervousness in her voice.

“You've never met these people, and these people have never met you,” continued Agatha with a confidence that Rose found fascinating. The author really was in her element. “I think the real Robina Redmond never left London. You're impersonating her.”

Robina scoffed. “How silly. What proof do you have?”

“You said you'd been to the toilet,” Agatha alleged with a twinkle of triumph in her eyes.

Rose straightened suddenly, but Donna was the fastest. “Oh, I know this. If she was really posh, she'd say loo.” She exclaimed, excitation written all over her face.

Agatha picked up the locksmith case and put it on the table in front of the whole assembly. “Earlier today, Miss Noble and I found this on the lawn, right beneath your bathroom window. You must have heard that Miss Noble was searching the bedrooms, so you panicked. You ran upstairs and disposed of the evidence.”

“I've never seen that thing before in my life,” Robina firmly denied the charge.

“What’s inside?” Rose asked, as she had been out of the room when they had examined the case.

Agatha smiled, pleased by the question.“The tools of your trade, Miss Redmond. Or should I say, the Unicorn. You came to this house with one sole intention: to steal the Firestone.”

Suddenly the demeanor of miss Redmond completely changed. “Oh, all right then.” She started, a cockney accent replacing the proper one she had been talking with since their first encounter. “It's a fair cop. Yes, I'm the bleeding Unicorn.” She turned to Rose who was still surprised by the sudden change. “Ever so nice to meet you, I don't think. I took my chance in the dark and nabbed it. Go on then, you knobs, arrest me. Sling me in jail.” She tossed the firestone to the Doctor, who grabbed without missing a beat.

“So is she the murderer?” asked Donna with genuine interest.

“Well I would say she is a thief, not really a killer,” Rose said to Donna who was visibly way too deeply invested. “I mean be the unicorn AND the killer? Bit much, no?”

Robina nodded firmly. “Blondie is right. It’s already hard enough to steal, killing is way above my paygrade.”

“And that mean we come to you, Colonel,” Agatha said, trying her best to regain the attention of the room.

But before she could finish, the colonel stood up, a defeated air on his face as everyone exchanged shocked looks. “Damn you woman, you rumbled me.”

“He can walk now?” Donna whispered in Rose’s direction, who was just as lost as her. As Lady Eddison and her husband were talking in the background.

“I suppose? I mean, I think I lost the plot somewhere between dinner and now, and I’m not really sure I understand what is happening,” she whispered back, making Donna crack up.

“Ladies, behave…” hissed the Doctor, who had been mostly silent since Agatha had took the floor.

They turned their attention to the scene at play, realizing that now the writer was showing the Firestone around. “Far more than the Unicorn's object of desire. The Firestone has quite a history. Lady Eddison.”

“I’ve done nothing!” Lady Eddison exclaimed with an affronted air.

“You brought it back from India, did you not?” Agatha continued as if Lady Eddison had not spoken out. But her expression was now softened, almost pitying. “Before you met the Colonel, you came home with malaria. And then confined yourself to this house for six months, in a room that has been kept locked ever since, which I rather think means…”

Rose gasped at the insinuation. “Oh my god, you were pregnant!” she cried out under the surprise. She crossed the choked gaze of the Doctor and the amused one of Donna and realized she said it aloud. “Sorry…” she said, slightly embarrassed.

Clemency suddenly broke down, her english persona melting down under old grief. “My poor baby. I had to give him away. The shame of it.”

“But you never said a word…” said her husband, as much as loss than the rest of them.

She swabbed her cheek with a tissue, gaining her composure once again. “I had no choice. Imagine the scandal. The family name. I'm British. I carry on.”

“And it was no ordinary pregnancy, right?” the Doctor said suddenly, taking part of the scene once again. “When you heard that buzzing sound in the dining room, you said ‘it can't be’. Why did you say that?”

“You’d never believe it.”

“Try us,” said Rose as gently as possible.

She straightened up, looking right through them. “It was forty years ago, late one night in the heat of Delhi. I was alone, and that's when I saw it. A dazzling light in the sky. The next day, he came to the house.” She sighed, deeply into her own memories. “Christopher. The most handsome man I'd ever seen. Our love blazed like a wildfire. I held nothing back. And in return, he showed me the incredible truth about himself. He'd made himself human, to learn about us. This was his true shape. I loved him so much, but it didn't matter. However, he was stolen from me. 1885, the year of the great monsoon. The river Jumna rose up and broke its banks. He was taken at the flood. Christopher left me a parting gift though. A jewel like no other. I wore it everywhere I went, keeping it always close. Part of me never forgot.”

They all looked at her, moved by her little speech. And Rose could not help but feel a kinship to that poor woman. When she had been separated from the Doctor, she had not been able to be separated from her TARDIS key, the only physical souvenir she had of him. But forty years without being able to talk… She didn’t know how she did it.

Before the silence could stretch much longer, Agatha said, “A poor little child. Forty years ago, Miss Chandrakala took that newborn babe to an orphanage. But Professor Peach worked it out. He found the birth certificate.”

“Oh, that's maiden. Maiden name!” blurted out Donna, feeling like everything was starting to make sense. When Agatha nodded, she continued, “So she killed him?”

“I did not!” Clemency denied with force. “I never did such a thing.”

“Lady Eddison is innocent,” Agatha declared with a smile before turning to the Doctor. “Because at this point, Doctor...”

The Doctor nodded and with a smile, walked to the centre of the room, secretly pleased to have all the attention on him. “Thank you. At this point, when we consider the lies and secrets, and the key to these events, then we have to consider it was you, Donna Noble.” He pointed to Donna, who looked around with surprise.

“Wait. You killed someone?” asked Rose, who was starting to feel like she had missed a huge part of the movie.

“No!” Donna exclaimed. Then turned to the Doctor with a shadow of doubt. “Did I?”

“No.” He sighed, feeling he was the only one in the room with an ounce of sanity at this point. “But you said it all along. The vital clue. This whole thing is being acted out like a murder mystery, which means it was you, Agatha Christie,” he finished with a maniac smile, making Rose and Donna inhale sharply.

“She killed them?” They asked at the same time.

“No. But she wrote. She wrote those brilliant clever books. And who's her greatest admirer? The Moving Finger points at you, Lady Eddison.”

That’s it. Rose had enough, she was all for theatrality but if the Doctor continued to play with her nerves, she swore she was going to choke him. “For the love of God, who is the killer?” she asked, exasperation written all over her face.

He rolled his eyes at her impatience. “I’m on it Rose, all in good time.” He turned again to Clemency. “Last Thursday night, what were you doing?”

“I was in the library. I was reading my favourite Agatha Christie, thinking about her plots, and how clever she must be. But how is that relevant?” She was doing her best to respond but was visibly as lost as the rest of them.

“Just think. What else happened on Thursday night?” He turned around suddenly, fixing Golightly with his piercing stare.

“What?” asked the priest uncomfortably.

The Doctor took out his spec, placing them in his pocket. “You said on the lawn this afternoon. Last Thursday night, those boys broke into your church.”

“That's correct. They did. I discovered the two of them. Thieves in the night. I was most perturbed. But I apprehended them.”

“Oh, my God,” gasped Clemency as the rest of the room was realizing what was happening. “My son?”

“Your child has come home.” The Doctor smiled gently, a hint of sadness in his voice. Rose knew that he was thinking of Gallifrey. About how the possibility of returning home was forever lost to him. And she fought against everything in her to get up and hug him right that instant.

“You found those thieves, Reverend,” continued the Doctor, not noticing Rose’s turmoil. “And you got angry. A proper deep anger for the first time in your life, and it broke the genetic lock. You changed. You realised your inheritance. After all these years, you finally knew who you were. Oh, and then it all kicks off, because this isn't just a jewel.” He tossed the Firestorm lightly in his hand. “It's a Vespiform telepathic recorder. It's part of you, your brain, your very essence. And when you activated, so did the Firestone. It beamed your full identity directly into your mind. And, at the same time, it absorbed the works of Agatha Christie directly from Lady Eddison. It all became part of you. The mechanics of those novels formed a template in your brain. You've killed, in this pattern, because that's what you think the world is. It turns out, we are in the middle of a legitimate murder mystery.” He turned to the writer with a smile. “One of yours, Agatha.”

“So he killed them, yes? Definitely?” Donna asked, who was probably the only one who had followed everything.

The Doctor nodded sadly. “Yes.”

Golightly stood up brutally, a forced smile on his face. “Well, this has certainly been a most entertaining evening. Really, you can't believe any of this surely, Lady Eddizzon.” The slight buzzing sound made everyone sit up more upright.

“Lady who?” asked the Doctor flippantly after a few seconds.

Rose stood up as the vicar started to look more and more angry by the second. “Lady Eddizzzzon,” he repeated as the buzzing sound became more and more prevalent.

As the Doctor continued to egg him on, trying to make him change, Rose turned to Donna who was clearly ready to jump in if needed. “Maybe it’s time to get everyone out?” she suggested with a smile. The redhead acquiesced and without another word was out of her chair and near the door.

“Damn it, you humanzz, worshipping your tribal sky godzz,” Golightly yelled as his body was vibrating on himself. He was moving closer and closer to the Doctor who looked completely impassive. “I am so much more. That night, the universe exploded in my mind. I wanted to take what wazz mine.” He faced Agatha, his face almost a blur. “And you, Agatha Christie, with your railway station bookstall romancezz. What'z to stop me killing you? What'zz to stop me killing you all?” He turned around, but only Rose and Donna were facing him. The rest of the group were now long gone.

Rose smiled. “Sorry, just us now. Disappointed?”

The alien screeched, his body rapidly changing from human to alien. It took him only a few seconds to become the wasp they had tried to chase after during the day. Rose was ready to face him, her body taking a stand in front of Donna. She really hoped the Doctor had a plan, because at the moment the only thing they had to face the alien was luck, and maybe a chair if she was fast enough. But before anyone had time to move, Agatha ran towards the Doctor and snatched the Firestone from his hands.

“No. No more murder,” she pled, sadness creeping from her voice. “If my imagination made you kill, then my imagination will find a way to stop you, foul creature.” And just like that, she ran out of the door.

“Agatha!” screamed the Doctor, before taking off after her. Donna and Rose were quick to follow.

As they ran down the different corridors, Donna could not help but smile, making Rose question her sanity.

“What?” She asked, a little out of breath.

“Well, now it's chasing us. Interesting change I believe,” Donna replied cheekily, making Rose roll her eyes.

Children, they were all children.

“There she is!” the Doctor yelled as Donna closed the front door. “Agatha stop! What are you doing?” he screamed as they saw the author entering a car.

“If I started this, Doctor, then I must stop it!” She blared the horn multiple times, just enough to have wasp burst out the door, narrowingly avoiding Donna. And before he could move, she drove off, spraying gravel everywhere.

As the wasp flew off after Agatha, Rose turned to the Doctor with a frown. “Now how are we going to keep up with them? I suppose you know how to drive one of those?”

“Well!” He took out the sonic and pointed it at one of the cars. “Only one way to find out!”

Donna would never admit it, but when the Doctor showed that the TARDIS wasn’t the only vehicle that he drove badly, she let out a tiny scream and held tight as the Doctor frantically drove to catch up.

---

As they stopped by the Silent Pool lake, the Doctor was the first one out of the door, visibly scared by the possibility of losing Agatha Christie today. “Stop!” he screamed as he saw the author near the lake, the alien only a few meters beside her.

“Here I am, the honey in the trap. Come to me, Vespiform,” Agatha called, ready to jump into the water.

They all moved little by little, trying their best to not spook anyone. “ She's controlling it,” Donna whispered to them. “Maybe we can work on that?”

The Doctor nodded, his eyes not moving from Agatha and the wasp. “Its mind is based on her thought processes. They're linked.”

Agatha looked briefly to him and smiled. “Quite so, Doctor. If I die, then this creature might die with me.”

“Maybe we can help him change!” Rose answered desperately, trying to find a different solution. “Nobody has to die!”

“Rose is right,” continued the Doctor, trying his best to reach the Vespiform. “You just had been programmed that way. It’s just the wrong template.”

But as they were pleading with Agatha and the Vespiform, Donna had moved away from them. Then without giving anyone the time to think, she took to Firestorm from Agatha’s hands and threw it into the lake. As the stone plunked into the water, they watched in horror as the wasp followed suit, disappearing into the clear water.

“Too much was at stake…” Donna said, looking at them with sadness. “Gone, just like his father,” she added, looking at the water bubbling in the distance.

The Doctor rubbed his eyes, tired beyond measure. “It couldn’t help himself.”

“So much death. And for what?” Rose added wistfully, as the water was losing color by the second. “Just the wrong thing at the wrong time.”

Donna stared at her, curiosity written all over her face. “What do you mean?”

“If Lady Eddison had been gardening or reading a romance novel, everything would have been different. Like I said, wrong things, wrong time.”

The Doctor started to open his mouth, when suddenly Agatha doubled over in extreme pain, kneeling on the soft ground.

“Oh, it's the Firestone,” the Doctor explained as Donna was trying her best to support Agatha, who was quickly losing conscience. “It's part of the Vespiform's mind. It's dying and it's connected to Agatha.” The Doctor looked agitated, realizing they could do nothing except watch. But before he could panic even more, a soft purple glow enveloped her for a few seconds before disappearing, making her go limp in Donna arms. “ He let her go,” he said while looking at the still water, melancholy creeping from his voice. “Right at the end, the Vespiform chose to save someone's life.”

“Is she going to be alright?” Rose asked, as she was trying to help Donna with the unconscious body of the writer.

He shrugged. “Of course. The amnesia. Wiped her mind of everything that happened. The wasp, the murders.”

Donna looked at the woman who had been a friend for a day, and she could not help but feel a little bit in mourning. “And us. She'll forget about us,” she added in a whisper.

“Yeah, but we've solved another riddle! The mystery of Agatha Christie. Tomorrow morning, her car was found by the side of a lake. A few days later, she turns up in a hotel at Harrogate with no idea on how she got there, or where she’s been.”

Rose looked at the peaceful face of Agatha. “And now what do we do?” She could not help but ask. Because they were actually in the middle of practically nowhere with a body and a car with probably not enough space to have them all without some issues. Especially with one of them completely unconscious.

He sighed, looking at the view with some thoughtfulness. “Well, first we need to drop Agatha at the hotel and then…”

“And then?” asked Rose as the silence continued to stretch.

He looked at her, his face becoming serious and somber. “We talk.”

Chapter Text

Chapter 23

The walk to the TARDIS had been silent for Rose. After they dropped off Agatha, she had let the Doctor and Donna take the lead. Listening to them discuss the life of the novelist following today’s event. They had been completely oblivious of the fact that she was noticeably lagging behind them. She was reluctant to enter the time machine, and was trying her best to postpone the discussion that would immediately take place.

She supposed that the TARDIS understood her turmoil, because she had landed pretty far from the hotel, making Donna complain all the way to the entrance. Carrying an unconscious body, even with three able bodied people, was not really a walk in the park. At the time Rose had loudly agreed with her friend, but now she was glad to have a few minutes to herself.

Because she knew that when she got inside those doors, everything would change. She would have to talk about the past. About events that changed her forever, and more importantly, it would open old wounds. She had been alone for decades now, separated from everyone she had loved and therefor learned to cope.

But talking about everything again? She was not sure how well it would go for her. But she had made a promise.

“Are you coming?” asked Donna, her head sticking out from the TARDIS door. “I’m preparing some tea.”

Rose forced a smile, trying her best to appear cheerful. “Coming. I was just looking around a bit.”

But Donna saw right through it. Realizing she was most probably not ready to face the other occupant of the time machine. “The Doctor went to the kitchen. Said he needed to find something. But I’m pretty sure that the something is a piece of the banana bread that seems to appear every few weeks. Don’t ask me how it gets there, because I’m pretty sure the Doctor would make the kitchen go up in flames if he tried to bake it himself.” She shook her head fondly at the image. “That man I swear.”

“Well if I remember correctly, he did set the kitchen on fire once. But in his defence, it was my fault.” Rose snorted. “Well technically it was Jack’s fault. I was still sleeping, and Jack had the cheeky idea to wake me up by throwing a bucket of cold water on me. I screamed like my arse was on fire.” She laughed. It had been a glorious year with Jack on board. She had missed him so damn long after his death. “But as Jack was laughing his ass off, the Doctor came barging into my room like a madman, sonic in hand and looking around for the intruder.” A big smile on her face as she remembered the scene. “Oh the shouting match that followed was glorious when he realized what had happened. Absolutely glorious.” She had a dreamy look in her eyes at the memory. He had been so gorgeous in his fury, his eyes blazing with fire and his presence so intense she had to remind herself not to throw herself at him.

“You’re drooling,” Donna said matter of factly as she opened the door wide.

Rose blushed as she walked into the TARDIS. “Well… And when he finally stopped shouting we all realized we could smell smoke. And by the time we all got back into the kitchen, the oven was on fire.”

“For my defense, Jack was a little wild at the time, so I was always prepared for the worst.” the Doctor said as he entered the console room, happily munching on a plate of banana bread. “And with our luck at the time, it would not have been out of the possibility for him to have smuggled something in TARDIS without us realizing it.”

Rose rolled her eyes as she sat down in the captain's chair. “It was only two times. And it was only Arandian chocolate, and a bottle of perfume from Allaq Kibor. Not a Tokamak reactor or a Keltek blaster.”

“Ah! Knowing Jack? It would have not been out of the realm of possibility…” He suddenly looked at her funny. “Wait how do you know about those kinds of things?”

She shrugged. “Well I was undercover for three month at the Bedford facility in Pete’s World. We were suspecting that a Usurian scout team had been sent here but it had been a false alarm. At least it had led to a few weeks of exchange about half-quantum vortices with one of their physicists. Very helpful for my thesis,” she added more as an afterthought.

“I think I understood maybe half a sentence in what you just said,” Donna said with a laugh as she put down the tray with a pot of tea. Making Rose realize she didn’t see the redhead leave out of the room a few minutes ago.

The Doctor suddenly smiled, so big and so maniacally that Donna was afraid he was having a stroke. “Are you okay?” she asked, a little concerned about his behavior.

“That is absolutely brilliant, Rose!” he said as his only response, his face still showed his happiness as he dropped against the console.

Rose looked around a little embarrassed. “Well thank you. But at first it was more of a backstory than anything else. I mean one of the wealthier men of Great Britain and right hand of the president had suddenly an adult daughter? Talk about madness.”

Donna sat down beside Rose, passing her a cup of tea. “Your dad is a flipping millionaire?” she asked, really impressed by that information.

She took the cup and smiled as a thanking. “My dad from that parallel universe was. My actual father died when I was a baby.” She looked pensively at the ceiling. “I suppose he would have probably followed a path similar to his parallel counterpart, but we will never be sure.”

“Oh I’m sorry,” Donna said awkwardly as she realized the misstep.

The Doctor shifted to the railing, moving closer to them. “So what was your cover story to have disappeared for two decades?” he asked while trying his best to shift the subject on something less explosive.

“Well they explained that by saying that I had been stolen in the hospital when I was born, never to be found again. And that’s why they never talked about me, because it was a subject much too painful for them.” She rolled her eyes at the theatrics. “I told them it was absolutely bollocks, but everyone seemed to have believed it...”

“With Jackie Tyler as your mother?” He snorted. “Like she would have let you be kidnapped and did nothing. She would have unleashed hell on earth knowing her.”

“I like your mother!” said Donna, already completely enthralled by the story. “And then?”

“When the cyberman attack happened, and that Jackie Tyler was killed, they were never able to find her body. Alas like a lot of the converted. So when my mom crossed over, they just told everyone she survived the attack, but the attack had been so traumatic she had been disfigured and amnesic, forgetting almost everything from that life. And what you believe, she had been found by a first year student from Lincoln university who was near London during the cyberman attack and who took her to the hospital, visiting every day during the months following the attack!” She rolled her eyes again. She had tried to tell the people in charge of creating a new life for them that it was just full of bullshit. Especially the part about her mom being disfigured but looking identical three years later. But she had been silenced and with the state she had been, she didn’t have the desire to fight. Too deep into her own sadness. Of course her mom had loved it, but that was Jackie Tyler for you.

“Oh that’s brilliant, completely brilliant!” Donna was delighted by the tale. “It’s like a soap opera,” she enthused to the Doctor who facepalmed himself.

“And people believed that?” asked the Doctor with amazement. Humans were clearly another species.

“People completely ate it up. Especially when we told them that I tried to find the family of that ‘poor woman’ and combined with the hospital's help, we were able to realize she was Jackie Tyler and contacted Pete. Pete of course came as soon as he could and realizing that she was his poor wife on that bed, so he hired the best plastic surgeon on that damn planet and reconstructed his wife like new. Of course the recovery took years, and during that time they became friends with that student. Until they realized that ‘Rose Jones’ was the baby that had been stolen that terrible day.” Rose crossed her arms at the reminded annoyance. “Don’t ask me how, that’s when I completely tuned out any explanation. Every time a journalist asked me my opinion on the subject I would turn misty eyed and said it was a difficult subject for me. Did the trick.”

“Wait, wait wait,” Donna interrupted them, she had been eating the biscuit on the platter like she had been in front of a very intense movie. “So they presented you to the world like that? Saying you were their child?”

“Yeah you could say that. They first presented my mom, to ease the tabloid on the story. Especially when they realized that my mom was pregnant. And then me three weeks after we knew for sure I will not be leaving.” She stared briefly at the Doctor, who looked dejected at the reminder.

“This is even better than EastEnders!” Smiled Donna.

“And that makes absolutely no sense at all,” the Doctor complained while raising his arms to the sky. “The capacity of humans to believe absolutely everything will never stop baffling me. How can someone can hear something like that and think it’s genuine.”

“Hey don’t look at me, Doctor!” Rose narrowed her eyes at him as she was completely insulted by the remark. “I told them it was bonkers.”

“So you choose to be a student?” Donna interjected to try and keep an argument from starting.

“Well for them, it was more believable for me to be an innocent student. So they fabricated a whole life for me. I have to say it came in handy when I had to be sent on missions for Torchwood. Much easier to explain why I was not in class that day that if I had a job. But going from no A levels to third year Physics student was pretty mind blowing let me tell you,” she said with a laugh. But at the time, she had been miserable. Every day had been a reminder that the Doctor was never coming back. That all the studying had been just a means to an end at first. Which was her getting back to her own universe. But now, now it was her life. And she had to make peace with it.

But as the girls were laughing, more Donna than Rose who was still reeling on the memory, the face of the Doctor became suddenly somber. “How long,” he interrupted them with this question. His voice cracked up on the words, his emotions visibly barely in check. “How long has it been for you?”

The smile on Rose face disappeared instantly. She had hoped to have more time, just enough to ease the discussion on and go on her own terms. But the emotions in the Doctor’s eyes were too raw. Too much anger and desperation spiraling in him to go peacefully. He had prepared for the worst and could not wait any longer. He needed a response now.

She opened her mouth, a lie on the tip of her tongue, something that became a reflex after so many years. But she had promised truth.

“43 years. Possibly more, maybe less,” she answered in a somewhat dejected tone. “I’ve lost count.” And she wasn’t saying that to manipulate emotions or drama. She honestly wasn’t really sure how long she had travelled between dimensions. All she remembered was the long nights working, and endless suffering when she crossed over. It could have been two months or two years. Time was moving differently there.

Donna gasped, moving instinctively to comfort Rose. But the Doctor tensed even more, his face blank and motionless. “When… When did you realize?” he asked in a flat voice. His stature rigid and inert. Donna could only see the alien in him at that instant, someone who was disconnected from humanity. A painful reminder of the day with the Racnoss. Her heart broke for both of them.

Rose disentangled herself from Donna, rising up from the chair and moving away from them. As she was facing one of the pillars she tried her best to not break down then and there. Like always the Doctor had touched a weak point, asking the most painful question of them all. She knew he was not aware of it, but that had been one of the most roughest periods of her life. It took years for her to close that wound. But now it was open all over again, raw and infected. Just like day one.

“I didn’t know for a long time,” she started, her voice wavering at the memories. “I think even my own body wasn’t aware of the change. Not in Pete world I mean. But I think that all of those jumps into the void to cross over through the dimensions awakened something in me.” She still couldn’t look at them, but she knew they were listening. “I believe that it really started to show in the midst of everything, but we were too busy trying to save the multiverse to even start to wonder about it. It was very slow at the beginning, just wound healing much more rapidly than some of the others. The doctors first attributed it to the fact that I was young, in very good health and was born in another dimension. But I think it was just my body already changing.” She turned around, still not looking at them, but at the console. “If not for me crossing into that last crack, it would have stayed that way. Just me being a little more healthy that normally. Even aging gracefully as my mom would say.”

“What do you mean by that?” Donna inquired before Rose could continue. “That was different?”

Rose looked at her for the first time since she started talking, her eyes suspiciously wet. “When we travelled between dimensions we were using holes that were already open, trying our best to not worsen the situation by poking new ones between the walls. But as time passed, it became worse and worse. Some holes became apparent to the naked eyes, eating whole parts of the universe. As the energy reading on those were all over the place we decided to not cross over with it. But on my last jump, I think one of them opened as I was crossing, and the result was that I landed on Earth and my hopper’s circuits were fried.” She uncovered her wrist, showing them the weird steampunk looking watch she was wearing. “I was only able to repair the dimensional watch, the rest were beyond repair. I can really only jump from one place to another.” She shrugged. “Came in handy.”

“Rose…” choked out the Doctor, his face still stony. But his eyes were betraying the difficulty to reign on his emotions.

Rose’s head and shoulders slumped. “I woke up in 1971 near Calgary. Without any means of communication or possibility to go back. I could only go forward.” She had been frightened beyond reason at the time. Lost in a country she didn’t know, in a time she had no part of. She had no name, no life here. Just herself. Rose Tyler was not even born yet. Her parents just children now. “It took me three years to go back to London.” Three years to create herself again and hope for the best. Alone and without family. She could not even have friends, too afraid to reveal something she shouldn’t.

She had been deep into depression at the time, seeing no end on the tunnel. Just a black void. So sure to die before seeing her family or the Doctor one last time. It had been the most frightening time for her. The only thing keeping her alive was the flicker of hope to see them all at least once before everything ends. “But one day I looked at myself in the mirror, and realized that I was the same as the day I came into that universe...” And realizing that even if she was able to find her family once again, it would be to lose them all over again. Cursed to see them all age and die. Until only memories would remain. Doomed to finish in a universe only with herself.

“Bad Wolf,” added the Doctor, making sound the word like a curse. He looked so sad and ancient, that Donna had to stop the urge to hug him.

“What’s Bad Wolf?” Donna asked. This was new to her.

“Me,” said Rose with a sad smile. “Well me and the TARDIS.” She lightly stroked the console, making the TARDIS hum joyfully. “When I was 19, the Doctor, Jack and myself had to fight a really powerful enemy, so powerful that we were almost sure to die. The Doctor sent me back to save my life, forcing the TARDIS to travel to my time. But I didn’t see it that way. All I could see was the fact that he was dying thousands and thousands of years into the future. Without me. So I broke open the heart of the TARDIS, and we became one. Making me one of the most powerful beings in the universe for a brief moment. I saved his life but apparently it had some consequence.”

The Doctor was suddenly in front of her, looking at her with sadness and rage. “I took everything. I’m sure of that. I made sure of it!”

She looked just as defiant. “I’m telling you, Doctor, it’s Bad Wolf.”

“How can you be so sure? How can I be sure you didn’t do that yourself?” That was the heart of the problem for them. The trust that had been so entrenched to their dynamic was now in shambles, a shadow of what it was once. And until it was repaired, they would tear each other apart until nothing remains.

She felt the fight in her ignite. Grinding her teeth she growled, “What? You think I used my time in Pete’s World to do that?”

“That would not be the first time you did something foolish.” He had this almost sarcastic smirk that briefly reminded her of her first Doctor’s smirk, and his eyes were hard and black.

She almost screamed about the Wolf in her, fighting the urge to let it go out to prove a point. But she knew that secret was to be kept at her own, that no one, not even the Doctor would know about it. She will speak freely about everything else, risking opening old wounds again and again. But she will never speak about the monster in her. Not until everything ended. That was the only secret she was ready to die for, because if the Doctor caught a single trace of it, he will do everything to get rid of it. And she knew she needed it, to have a chance to win in the future. She carried her mission for decades, made a promise to a lot of people. She will not fail so close to the goal. So she did what she had to. Fight back.

“I only became her to save you. Because I loved you so much that imagining a world without you was unbearable,” she answered so fiercely that her voice broke for a second. “So if you have an issue with that, then tell that to him, because I will not say sorry for what I did and what I became.” She smiled cruelly for a second, her rage overcoming her for a brief moment. “But the days where you were the most important man in my life are over, Doctor! I moved on.” As soon as those words flew out of her mouth, she regretted them. He had always been her rock, a part of her, even back then when she had only been a scared 19 years old. She had hurt him once like that before, and she felt as shitty as that time. His distressed face was enough for her to feel like the worst person in the universe. She made a few steps, an apology in her mouth when his whole attitude changed. Becoming defiant and hostile.

The Doctor blinked as if to hide any hurt felt by the declaration. His brain screamed at him to shut up as he spat back, “I saw that. You were on that Earth for decades, and you visibly decided that you prefered UNIT to any sort of life. Took too much pleasure playing the soldier I suppose?”

The slap was almost instantaneous. Reasoning in the console room like a cannon.

“How dare you?!” Rose yelled as she pointed a finger at him. “How dare you say that? I lost everything! My family! My entire life as I came to know it! I sacrificed everything to have a chance to save them! Do you have any idea what’s it’s like to live in a world where you have no place? Where saying the wrong word, being at the wrong place, at the wrong time could bring the end of the world? Every day I had to fight with myself to not find my mum, Mickey or even you. I accepted that a decision I would make could send people to their death, I stayed silence when I knew something would happen, I lived in the shadow for decades because that would mean maybe, just maybe having a small chance to save the multiverse.”

She was crying openly now, long held frustrations and feelings bursting from the dam that had been destroyed. “I stayed with UNIT because I had no other choice! I’m an abomination, what do you think will happen if people realize that I’m not aging? If I had to die, I would rather it be fighting what is coming. Not in a flipping cell seeing the universe fall apart around me!” She felt herself lose control of her herself little by little. The Doctor always had the ability to push all of her buttons at once. And a miniscule part of her was bemused to see it was not something that changed.

The Doctor, who was still holding his cheek in surprise following the slap, felt himself burn with anger at the implication in her last sentence. His eyes suddenly lit up with rage as his hand left his cheek and clenched at his side. “How could…”

Donna jumped in before he could finish and start a full fledged war with Rose. “Wouaaah everyone calm down now!” she said, conscious that if she didn’t intervene right now, any chance of reconciliation between the Doctor and Rose would go up in smoke. “I think everyone needs to take five minutes, okay?”

She looked at them both, but they were clearly more interested in throwing eye daggers at each other than listening. Great, now she was irritated. “Stop acting like children,” she demanded with annoyance, especially to the Doctor. She had flashbacks for weeks of him waiting to drown with the Racnoss he sentenced to death, too numb by the loss of Rose Tyler to go on. And now he was ready to play russian roulette with his second chance. She was more than ready to smack them both.

“You don’t realize how lucky you both are!” she continued while absolutely fuming at her friends. “Lots of people would give everything to be able to experience an opportunity like this. Don’t either of you dare to throw that away…” They both had the decency to look ashamed of themselves, realizing they had let their emotions talk before them. “So now, I’m going to make a fresh pot of tea, and while I’m doing that, the both of you are going to march your butts to the library to talk like adults. I am clear?” she ordered in a tight voice, showing she was now fed up with both of them.

They nodded in unisson, their eyes huge with fear. A Donna Noble that was on the warpath was not to be contradicted.

Donna smiled, but not with sympathy but satisfaction, and with one last sharp nod she walked in the direction of the kitchen. Letting them both fend for themself.

The Doctor and Rose looked at each other in an embarrassed silence.

“So what now?” the Doctor asked awkwardly as he rubbed the back of his neck.

Rose sighed, ashamed to have let her emotions get the best of her like that. “Well I’ll say we do as Donna said…”

Without another word, they took the direction of the library, knowing perfectly that the discussion was not finished. Or if it had even started it in the first place.

Chapter Text

Chapter 24

They walked in silence, their steps resonating in the quietness of the hallway. The Doctor had tried to talk once, but before he even opened his mouth, he had speeded up the pace, adding on the heaviness of the air around them. When they passed the same series of doors for the fourth time, Rose knew that Donna was not the only one frustrated with them. And she really couldn’t blame them. She knew the Doctor was hurting, and she added on it by stirring the embers of all his insecurity. She had been far from the mature and poised Rose Tyler she had been proud to become. Even her mom would have been disappointed in her. She who had comforted her so many nights when she had cried over the loss of the Doctor, who had told her again and again that it was not over, not until the ending clap. Jackie Tyler would have screamed at her if she had heard her daughter talk like that.

Rose stopped brutally, making the Doctor almost miss his step under the surprise. “I’m sorry,” she blurted out, tired of the heavy silence between them. “I was out of line before…” She crossed his surprised gaze as he turned around to look at her. “I shouldn’t have said that and I’m sorry…”

He hesitated for a second to continue, looking around him before finally pressing his back against the wall, scrubbing his eyes as he took off his glasses. “You don’t have to apologize. I’m the one who was wildly inappropriate…It’s just…” He sighed, staring into the distance. “I’m sorry,” he finally said after a few seconds.

But she was not duped, she could still read between the lines, even after all those years. She still knew him. “You are still very important for me, Doctor,” she said gently, approaching him like you would a wounded animal. When she was sure he was looking at her, she smiled warmly. “You changed everything, how could it be otherwise?”

But his eyes were still troubled and sad. “Why did you stay with UNIT?”

“I told you. I had no choice,” she explained, not really sure where it was going. “What was I supposed to do? Try by myself?” She snorted. “I’m not you, I don’t have a Time Machine or anything…” Rose shrugged. “And they’re not so bad. Pretty good even.”

“You choose them…” The Doctor was not looking at her, but the heartbreak was deeply implied in his voice.

She suddenly realized what he had been trying to say, why he had been so emotionally harsh with her, a distance he was reluctant to close down. She advanced on him, until they were front to front, almost touching. “I couldn’t have gone to you,” she said, emotions dripping from her voice. “I wanted it so bad but… I didn’t even know where to start. And when I found UNIT, you didn’t even know me.” She took a step back, turning her back to him before sitting on the ground next to his feet, not waiting to see if he would join her there. She was tired. Tired of the tug of war between them. Tired of not getting a hold of her emotions in his presence. Everything. “I mean what I was supposed to do? Go to you and say I was from your future?” She looked up to him. “I could not risk changing our future because I was too broken to wait.”

He finally sat down, his eyes only looking straight ahead. “And after? You knew…” He scratched his throat. “You knew when we would be separated…” He was trying to look detached but he was failing miserably.

She had a laugh, almost a sob if you looked closely. “Believe me, I thought about it almost everyday for years. Every time you were in my time period in this regeneration, and even the previous ones, I knew exactly by the second where you were. But I couldn’t…” She rubbed her eyes, trying to make the tears disappear but to no avail. “I tried once… after we were separated. I came back to London to find you. I had a tip by a Selenian that a Roglyox heir had been stolen and hidden on Earth, and a traveller was in charge to find him. But when I saw you…” The smile on his face, the joy in his eyes, how he was tumbling around, rambling on and on to an annoyed Martha, everything was burned into her memory. “I couldn’t do it. I said to myself that my mission was too great, that maybe afterward the possibility would come. I fantasized we would have found each other, probably in the heat of the battle to come, we would fight back to back once again. And after go one like nothing had changed but…” But the truth was she had been a coward. She had let her chance fly away and now because of that they were two outsiders. So different they could not even discuss normally without the intervention from a Time Machine and a very annoyed redhead.

“You would have stayed away,” the Doctor finished for her.

She was so desperately sorry. She had been so afraid of herself, of what she could possibly become to save the multiverse, of what he would think of her. But more importantly she was afraid he had forgotten her. Going to him and seeing coldness where she had once saw fire. She could not have supported it, it would have ended her. But her fear only separated them a little more. Becoming what she was so deeply afraid of. “I thought you had forgotten me. That it was better that way,” she admitted in a little voice. Now it was in the open, and it couldn’t be taken back.

She had expected anger, shock or even dismissal. But to her surprise he started to laugh, a deep wracking laugh, one of those who wouldn’t stop. She was starting to feel a little offended at his hilarity, especially when he showed no sign of stopping. Until she saw the sadness in the exhilaration. “Doctor…” Rose said as much a question, that it was an affirmation.

“Forgotten you?” He was a little out of breath, an anguished smile still on his lips. “I chased stars for weeks in the faint hope to see you one last time. How could I forget you?” The pain in his words made her heart squeeze painfully in her chest for a quick second. But the foodgate had been opened now and couldn’t be stopped. He looked more angry by the second. “I fought every day to not go back and see you. Every day I had to remind myself that you were happy in that parallel universe, that you were having the greatest life.” He stood up, pacing back and forth in front of a startled Rose, his whole body vibrating under all the emotions he was trying to contain. “The only thing keeping me to do something really bad was the fact I knew you would do great in that other universe, that you would be happy without me and manage to be an every better version of yourself. And now you tell me you were here for decades? I mourned you Rose! I mourned like you were dead because I thought I would never see you again.” He was not screaming but it was all the same for Rose. Every word was like a stab directly in the heart. Seeing him in so much pain was destroying her.

“I’m sorry…” she mumbled in a weak voice, her eyes full of tears. She could not face him anymore.

He suddenly kneeled in front of her, raising her chin with two fingers, making sure she was looking at him. “He died out of love. I’m merely born on the ashes of that fire. Needing you is as part of me than breathing or walking,” he whispered, a painful smile on his face. “Even if I lived for another thousand years, you will always be a part of me...” A few tears rolled on her cheek at the mere evocation, the idea that he had no choice on the matter made her want to scream. She moved, trying her best to disentangle from him but he only rested his forehead gently against her, making her close her eyes at the sensation. She will always be weak against him. “You made me better. I choose to feel that way because I am whole again thanks to you. Rose Tyler, the light who illuminated the sky when nothing remained before.” They stayed in silence for a few seconds, enjoying the closeness even if they knew it was temporary. Too much was between them to stay peaceful for long. “Losing you felt like losing one of my hearts,” the Doctor finally admitted. “And knowing that you were just...here…” After a second he moved away, his feelings becoming too much again. She felt a chill as he took his distance, already lamenting the lack of touch between them. But he didn’t move far, sitting in front of her, their feet touching in the small hallway.

“I still love you,” Rose admitted after finding her voice again. If he could lay bare in front of her, she could at least do the same. She knew they still had a long way to go before they could be in a point where they could think about doing something about that. Feelings had never been an issue between them, acting on it in a healthy way on other hands...He had not been the only one to run away from them, she had been as guilty as him on that point. “I don’t think I ever stopped loving you. I tried moving on, having boyfriends, building a life...But…” She laughed dryly, tears pooling again. “You were always in the back of my mind. Especially when I discovered the parting gift of Bad Wolf. Suddenly I had hope again that maybe I could see you at least once before it was too late.” Rose looked at the ceiling, not really sure how to explain her life without him. She had been happy, no doubt to that, content even. But the void in her had never disappeared, not completely. “I met you once you know. You had a very long scarf and wild hair. I was only a lieutenant at the time, one among so many others. I don’t even think you paid attention to me at that time.. It took everything in me to not beg you to take me to you…”

He looked suddenly distressed at what she said. “I should have seen you,” the Doctor said in a low voice. “I should have realized you were not from this time.”

She snorted. “How? I think the only thing I did to you was salute you. We were in the middle of an Zygon invasion, you had other things in mind.”

Before he could respond, Donna appeared at the end of the hallway, looking visibly crossed with someone, or something. “Oh there you are! I searched all over this damn ship to find you! Where were you?”

The Doctor was the first to get up, offering a hand to Rose who took it gladly. “Well, we walked for a few minutes, but when we crossed the same door for the fourth time I thought it was better to stay put until the TARDIS decided to stop playing with us,” said Rose smoothly. “Glad to see you by the way.”

“That’s why I crossed my bedroom something like five times searching for you?” Donna didn’t look impressed by the revelation.

The Doctor looked at the ceiling with a thoughtful gaze, his hands scratching his neck by reflex. “Let’s say that she is not really happy at the moment.” He grimaced. “If we have cold water for a few days, we will know why.”

The redhead opened one of the doors, checking inside with curiosity. She smiled happily when she realized it was exactly where she wanted them to go. “You two, inside,” she commanded while opening the door wide. “The tea is probably already cold but that’s what happens when you roam around a Time Machine who likes to change the layout at a whim.”

Rose chuckled. “Be happy she didn’t try to throw us out somewhere. You would have searched for hours.”

“She wouldn’t dare!” The Doctor looked offended at the mere thought. But he didn’t look so sure when the light dimmed out dangerously, making Rose and Donna crack up.

“If she is as fed up as me, you bet your arse she will do that,” Donna said dangerously. “Now you two… sit down.”

They obeyed automatically, vaguely afraid of what the redhead could do with an irate TARDIS on her side. They both took a cup of tea that had been prepared for them, not daring to look at each other. The weight of their previous discussion still heavy on their mind. But when they were content to look at everything but each other for a few minutes, plunging the space with awkward silence, Donna had to take everything in her to not throw up her hands. Seriously those two were a lost cause.

‘When you need something done, no one is better than yourself,’ grumbled Donna to herself. “When you said you were immortal, did you mean ‘until the end of time’ kind of thing, or you were taking the piss to shock the Doctor?” she finally asked, sure to have the Doctor show some interest with that.

Rose looked around uncomfortably. “Well I’m not really aging like normal, that is pretty sure. Immortal may be a little forward but that’s mostly how I describe it.” She shrugged. “I do tests every few years to see if we can see some changes, but so far nothing really concluding. Well it did show some minor decay on cellular level, and some discrepancy on my ADN, but Earth is not advanced enough to draw a definitive conclusion…”

“I don’t think you’re immortal,” said the Doctor absently as he was trying to warm up his cup with his sonic. “What?” He asked after a few seconds, when he realized they were staring at him.

“How can you know that?” Rose asked, still disturbed by his offhand comment.

“Well for once you are not immortal in the strictest sense of the word. You can definitely die. If it was not the case, I would have sensed it... believe me. That kind of thing is really grating for my time sense.” He grimaced at the memory of Jack. He really loved that man, he even had trusted him with Rose’s life, but his wrongness still rubbed him badly. “It can still mean you are immortal but you can still die. I can scan you with the sonic to be sure if you want,” he added with a hopeful smile.

Rose didn’t look reassured at all. “Sure,” she said, knowing she had no logical reason to refuse, not without a good reason. She just hoped her secret could stay safe with her.

He scanned her in silence for a minute, making Rose more and more reckless by the second. The Wolf had never appeared in any test before, but the Doctor had instruments much more advanced than Earth could ever dream about.

He frowned. “That’s weird.” He shook his sonic with a bewildered look, inspecting it more closely, visibly trying to find a fault in it before scanning her again.

“What?” Rose asked while trying her best to not panic and bolt out of the TARDIS.

He looked up, surprise written all over his face. “It shows that nothing is wrong with you. Well mostly nothing.”

“What do you mean?” Rose asked cautiously. The Wolf had been asleep for a decade before they had manifested themself to her, but even before that fateful day she knew something was different within her, even before realizing she was not aging. So the Doctor’s affirmation was not really making any sense.

“I only see minor alterations to your DNA, but nothing that could affect your cellular degeneration on that level. Your Atron energy is a little high but nothing concerning. The fact that your body decided to dramatically slow your cellular decay, and by proxy your aging make no sense at all.” He took out his specs out of his pocket. “How old were you when you crossed over?”

She exchanged a look with Donna. “Hum, almost 28 I think.”

“Well the sonic shows that you are now 28 years, 7 month, 3 weeks and 4 days. You are still aging but very, very, very slowly.” He was smiling but no joy was showing.

“Ok so how is that possible? You said that her DNA was human right?”

“It is!” he exclaimed, outraged at the implication he didn’t know what he was doing. “Hold a second, I need to grab something.” the Doctor said suddenly before bolting out the door, leaving the two woman gobsmacked in his trail.

“I see that some things never change,” bemused Rose.

Donna chuckled, her best friend was completely barmy, that’s for sure. “How are you?” she finally asked after a few seconds. Rose was giving a good facade, but she could see the sadness and exhaustion behind it. The Doctor was a good man, but holding back was not something he was known for and Rose was visibly paying the price of all that resentment.

She slumped against the couch, feeling all her energy leaving her. Dealing with the Doctor and her emotions at the same time was exhausting. Even more with opening old wounds again and again. “It’s so hard you know...When you are alone for years like that...I had my life, don’t get me wrong. But when you cannot share anything of importance with anyone you learn to rely on yourself. And I made peace with the fact I will probably never see the Doctor or my family again and now…” She sighed. “It’s so hard. I want to be with him but at the same time everything in me is telling me to run away as far as possible. Because the fact is...I’m not his Rose Tyler anymore.”

And that was the heart of the problem. She could feel him trying to find pieces of the old Rose in her, but she was not even sure herself that person existed anymore. And she dreaded the day he realized that fact. He had somewhat confessed his love to her, but he was in love with a ghost, an echo of something long gone. And even if he told her that nothing could change that fact, she knew better. Martha had told her she had not been able to compete against the memory of Rose. And she was not sure she could do it herself.

“That’s false you know,” the Doctor said while suddenly appearing in the doorway, making them jump in surprise, his relaxed demeanor in total contradiction with the sadness on his face.The look they exchanged during those long seconds was telling enough for Donna. She hadn’t finished tending to his broken heart. She realized it was a discussion they needed to have to themselves so she took the tea tray and left the room, pretty sure they didn’t even realize that she was gone.

“How can you be so sure?” Rose finally asked, too jaded to care anymore. She was tired of all those back and forth moments, an anger that didn’t end and more especially to fight against a past long dead. She just wanted peace.

He smiled, a smile full of grief and melancholy. “The Doctor and Rose Tyler, the stuff of legend.” He said that like it was the response to everything. “In every universe, every reality, nothing could change that fact.”

“No one talks about a happily ever after you know, legends only finish in tragedy.” Rose wanted above all else to believe in happiness but the universe was not kind, it never was. And she knew that it would only end in tears, most probably her own.

To her surprise he turned his back to her, careful to be as close as he possibly could while still being out of reach. “If you don’t want to stay you just have to say you know.” He finally spat, his whole body screaming annoyance and resentfulness. “I’m not keeping you against your will, you still have a choice.”

Rose was not sure how to react to that. “What?” she finally asked, not really where he wanted to go with it.

He turned to face her suddenly, his eyes full of anger and grief. She could feel his fury from a few meters away. “You talk about love and acceptance, how we need to trust and talk to each other, but it’s just words isn’t it? You so desperately want to prove to yourself that you are so beyond me that you just keep throwing everything back at my face!” He hesitated for a second before sitting down, his body collapsing as he was looking more tired than furious. “Having the ability to simply understand each other is not part of our relationship anymore. If it was ever there in the first place…”

His words were like a punch in the face for her. She had wanted to be cautious but all she had accomplished was hurting him again and again. She knew he always had difficulty opening up to anyone. It took him almost three years to somewhat admit out loud he was in love with her when she was still travelling with him, and now that she was back she had rebuffed him at every step. Not because she didn’t believe him, but because she didn’t trust herself. She was clearly not his Rose anymore, not because she had changed too much, but because she was visibly a moron.

“I’m sorry…” she finally said, deeply ashamed of herself. “I didn’t realize…”

He looked at her, his eyes ancient and worm out. “Do you want me to take you back to UNIT?”

“No!” she exclaimed in sudden alarm. “Absolutely not. I made a promise to you Doctor. I know I’m not the best at expressing myself at the moment, but I assure you I don’t want to be anywhere else.”

“Why not? I mean you obviously don’t want to be here. The Rose Tyler I knew was not afraid to speak her mind, so go on and tell me, I can take it.”

“That’s the heart of the issue isn’t it?” Rose got up with an annoyed growl. “You keep making reference to things long gone, and just expect me to roll with it. I’m no angel, I’m perfectly aware of that fact, but you keep pitting me against an impossible version of me! You want the truth?” She was deeply furious again, and frankly she was getting tired of it. It was a rollercoaster of emotions with him, going from pouring your heart out to tearing each other apart in five seconds flat. It was getting old. “The Rose Tyler you kept imagining in your head is dead, Doctor. She had been buried long ago! This person will not come back, it’s only me! Deal with it!”

“How can I even do that? You keep pushing me again and again!” He advanced on her, making them go almost face to face, wrath enclosing them like a blanket. “I want us to have a chance but you are dwelling in the past!”

She had a humorless laugh. “I’m dwelling in the past? You are the one who is living with a ghost!”

Before he could respond, or before they could murder each other, depending on the point of view, a screeching voice resonated in the library, startling them enough to stop them on their track. “Are you two freaking serious? I can’t leave you alone for five minutes!” Saying that Donna was furious was putting it mildly.

“But…” started the Doctor but Donna was clearly not finished.

“Don’t even start Spaceman!” she growled. “You two are acting like flipping toddlers so I am going to treat you as such! You two sit down!” She pointed at one of the sofas. Rose glanced at the Doctor, who was unsure about what to do. When they had still not moved after a fews seconds, Donna seized them both by the arms and pushed them down. “Sit. Your. Arse. down.” The face Donna was making could probably scare away an Ice Warrior.

She crossed her arms, her foot tapping the ground with impatience. “So can I know what happened? Was I not clear before?”

The Doctor looked at Rose then at the ceiling, everything but Donna “Well to be fair…”

“It’s both our fault,” interrupted Rose. She placed a hand on his arms to show she was taking over for now. “Too much time has passed and well…” She sended an apologetic smile to the Doctor. “at the same time not enough., it’s hard to reconcile the two…”

“She’s right…” And it pained him to think that, but she had a point when she said he was living with a ghost. When she had disappeared, she had taken a part of him with her, forcing him to cope how he could with her absence. Going from place to place, thinking what Rose would have done or said there, making the absence less painful on his hearts. The ghost, or the echo, had been his constant companion when no one else could. Even Martha had lost interest in the end. And now that she was back, he was constantly searching for a trace of the Rose he had left behind, hoping she was still somehow the girl who had saved him from himself again and again. But so much time has passed for her. She had made her peace, while he had lingered in the past, stuck with a figment of his imagination. How sad it was? “Maybe it’s a sign.” A sign that love is sometimes not enough, even if you were with everything in your being.

Rose could only nod weakly, tears pooling in her eyes. She tried to open her mouth but nothing would come out of it.

“It’s a sign yeah,” Donna fumed, “a sign that you are both nitwits.” They both looked up, surprise all over their face. “Yes you both heard what I said. You are too busy being sorry for yourselves that you don’t see what’s in front of you!” She turned to Rose, who shuffled at the attention. “You! You travelled across dimensions, defied laws of nature and even climbed all the way up the military to come back to him. You waited decades so you could be sure to be reunited for crying out loud! You became a flipping deity for a second just to save his sorry arse! And now are running the other way? Are you freaking kidding me?” She saw in the corner of her eyes the Doctor throw a triumphant look to Rose and saw red. “And don’t you try and look all high and mighty, Mister!” He moved back in surprise and smacked his head on the wall on his hast to dodge her fury, making Rose smile ever so lightly.

“Do I have to remind you how broken you were?” Donna zeroed in on the Doctor next. “How without me you were ready to plunge into the freaking Thames? Martha had to leave that damned Time Machine because all you could see was Rose! And now she is here you are trying your damnedest to make her leave! Just because she is not the same as before? You shouldn't even care if she was a flipping alien or the pope, you have a second chance! Half the universe would sell their soul to have that chance. You have it for free, so be happy for the love of god!” When she finally stopped talking, she was met with a deafening silence. Rose and the Doctor were not even moving, their eyes intensely focused on their own hands. After a few seconds she realized that even the TARDIS had stopped making sound. It was like the time machine herself was holding her breath.

After a minute of Donna despairing for a reaction, any kind, it was the Doctor who finally moved. “She’s right…” he conceded, weariness written all over his face. “I was so busy searching for things that didn’t exist anymore, I didn’t see what was just in front of me...”

Rose looked up tentatively, crossing his gaze shyly. “And what is that?”

He took her hand in his and smiled. “A miracle.”

Chapter Text

Chapter 25

As the Doctor was smiling happily, his face finally opening up, Donna felt the tension in her shoulders melt away bit by bit. Sure they were just at the beginning, and they were still a long way from where she wanted them to be, but at least they were actually finally getting somewhere that wasn’t delving head first into tragedy.

“I was so sure I would never see you again,” continued the Doctor, not realizing the anxiety surrounding Donna a few centimeters away, as he was too focused on Rose Tyler. “That crossing over various dimensions would be impossible without breaking the web of time himself, especially with the Time Lords gone and forgotten.” He chuckled, his voice a little hoarse with the pain he was feeling inside. “But then you proved me wrong, once again.” His hand was squeezing hers almost painfully. “Only you could find a way to cross the void without killing yourself or destroying the other universes. Stubborn enough to think that the law of the universe did not apply to you. And I just… Completely forgot something when I saw you…” The last few words were no more than barely a whisper, almost like he was ashamed of them.

“Forget what?” Rose finally asked when the silence started to stretch uncomfortably thin.

“How miraculous it is.” The smile he sported could light up a room by itself. “I was certain to never see you again. That I would have to just stay with my memories and regret and now you are here. Really here. And Donna is right, I shouldn't care about the rest.”

“Finally,” Donna exclaimed with a sort of glee, relieved to see not everything had been lost. “But if you start waxing poetry, I’m leaving,” she added with strength. She loved them both, and was ready to forgive a lot of things for them, but even she had her limit. He stuck out his tongue at her, making Donna snicker but shake her head at the almost childish nature of the action.

“If it’s really a second chance like Donna said, we need to do it the right way.” Rose was reluctant to be the downer of the group, but she suffered enough as it is, and was not really keen on doing it again. “Because if we screw up, the universe will not be kind enough to give us a third chance.” She knew she was pretty gloomy at the moment, but decades of delusion had made her that way. She had finally been able to see the Doctor again, but she had lost everything else in the meantime. Fate was cruel that way.

The Doctor nodded with force. “Yes, you are right. Completely right even! More than right I would say. So right it’s almost wrong!” He suddenly stopped, frowning at what he just said. “Wait no, that’s not what I wanted to say…”

Donna patted his shoulder with an air of intense and familiar suffering on her face. “Sometimes I wonder if you listen to yourself…”

“Fat chance.” Smirked Rose as his false distressed face.

“Hahaha yes, mock the Time Lord” he sarcastically added, “you know the one with the Time Machine?”

Donna opened her mouth, a remark already on her lips when she realized what he was trying to do. “And I see an avoidance when I see one.” His guilty face was the only response she needed.

“Sorry…” The Doctor mumbled while squirming in his chair. He was visibly trying his best to divert the attention, but Donna was having none of it by the face she was making. “I got carried away.”

It took everything in Donna to not whack him across the head. “If I have to strap both of you to that couch to make you talk, I will not hesitate for one second. Just so you know,” she warned menacingly. “And I’m sure the TARDIS will help too.” The flashing lights above were response enough.

“The main issue here is not our lack of communication you know,” Rose finally said when she realised they were just going in circles, only rehashing the same argument again and again because they were just too stubborn to accept the truth. “We could talk for hours even! No, it’s just… we are in a completely different place right now. For me it’s been decades, I had time to heal and put the past behind me. I had a life. A career in UNIT. I’m not saying I’ve been happy but I’ve been content. For me this.” She pointed between the Doctor and herself. “Was just something I would remember with fondness and a hint of longing. Because I didn’t have the luxury to do otherwise. And now you are asking me to open everything again and make a leap of faith. But what if it doesn't work out? What if we are too damaged for everything? We are barely even friends at the moment.” The Doctor looked so hurt but she ignored it, trying to make them understand her point of view. “The people we once were, Doctor, the friends that dare I say may have loved each other are gone. They died at Canary Wharf, and I think you know that too. You cannot ask us to continue like none of that happened, because that would only be a recipe for disaster.”

He straightened on his chair, trying his best to not show how her words impacted him. “What are you asking of me?”

“Just see me, Doctor.” She could feel the tears pool in her eyes, but she knew it was too late to stop them now. “See the me that is standing in front of you. The one who was in UNIT for 32 years, and only had herself to rely on for decades. The Rose that bled and killed in battle because sometimes it’s the only way. I’ve matured and become less harsh and idealistic, but I’m still me at my core, just like you said when you changed your face. Do you remember that? You asked me to believe that the important parts of you were still there, even though you changed.” When the Doctor only looked down without saying anything, Rose continued, “I don’t ask you to like me right away, but I just ask for a chance to start over. I’ve missed my best friend, and I thought I would never see him again. And yes, I was okay with that, but that doesn’t mean it didn’t break my heart. I know I still need to give you time to heal. But if you don’t want to do that with me. That me, not the echo you still have in your head, you need to tell me.” She felt her voice broke a little bit at the last part but she could not help it. Now she had laid everything out, now it was in his hands.

He stayed silent for a moment, his eyes firmly looking at the ground. She knew she had to let him have the time to process, but she could not help her heart rate rising at his lack of response. “You are right…” he finally said, his face grave and serious. “I wanted to get back to something that didn’t exist anymore, just pick up from where we left off, and it was not fair of me to push those expectations on you. It’s just for me it’s been what? Three maybe four years?” He scoffed at the ridiculousness of the situation. “A drop of water for a Time Lord. So yeah it’s not easy, but I can’t continue to put you through that. It’s not healthy.” His face was smiling but his eyes were still full of sadness. “For you, Rose, I’ll try my best. But I cannot promise anything, not until I mean it completely. But…” He sighed, his hand passing through his hair untiringly. “You deserve at least that.”

“So...friends?” Rose knew perfectly she was in love with him. She had been since she was 19, but those feelings had been tamed, slightly softened by time and the distance. And that new love, more mature and somewhat more resilient, came with a clarity she had lacked when she was younger. She wanted them to have a chance, she would love nothing more, but they needed to do it the right way. And for that they had to start at the beginning. Again.

He hesitated for a second before taking her hand in his. “Well, Allons-y. What could go wrong?”

“Knowing us? Everything,” Rose enthused while giving a wide bright smile.

“See?” Donna interrupted, having done her best to not say anything until then. “This is what happens when everyone is speaking calmly and is willing to listen to the other. I should have put the fear of god in you since the beginning,” she mused realizing it would have made them gain a lot of time that way.

“Rassilion help us all,” the Doctor said with a straight face, making Rose snort beside him. As a response he waggled his eyebrows at her making her break out in a full out giggle.

After a moment of them looking stupidly at each other, friends my arse thought Donna; she cleared her throat, trying to remind them they were not the only ones in the room.

Rose had the decency of blushing a little bit. “Sorry…”

“By the way where did you run earlier?” Donna asked, relieved they had been able to really talk, and was still a little afraid of a surprise blow up.

“Oh that’s right!” He jumped upright, making the women jump back at his exuberance. “I completely forgot.” He rummaged for a few seconds in his pocket, mumbling things under his breath, before pulling something out triumphantly. It looked like a baseball ball, at the exception that it was emitting a blue light with a slight buzzing sound.

“What is that?” Rose finally asked when no explanation came after a moment.

“It’s from Tretnor, the most medically advanced planet in the universe. Well besides Gallifrey of course but…”

Donna poked at the ball with curiosity, making it buzz a bit more intensively each time she poked at it. “And it’s supposed to do what, exactly?”

The Doctor twitched back with a frown, pulling it out of her reach, making Donna scowl at him. “Well, this is one of those rather odd times where the sonic can’t tell me what I need to know. So, I have this to get the job done.”

“And how long is it gonna take?” Rose asked apprehensive at the thought he could be oh so closer to discovering the beast in her.

“Only a few minutes don’t worry. Don’t move a muscle.” And before she could even react, he started to shift the ball around her with an intense look of concentration on his face.

“How did you meet the Doctor by the way?” Rose finally asked Donna after a long moment of full silence from everyone, trying to not show how uncomfortable she was.

“Oh, he kidnapped me on my wedding day,” Donna answered in a flippant manner as she was serving herself a new cup of tea. “Real change of scenery, let me tell you.”

Rose jerked back in surprise, almost hitting the ball the Doctor was waving around a few centimeters away from her. The Doctor protested instantaneously when the ball glowed a flashing white in reaction. She had a contrite smile as a response, making him grumble to himself about the irregular result.

“I’m sorry what?” she addressed Donna still not sure she really heard her correctly. Did she really just say the Doctor kidnapped her on her wedding day? She knew he sometimes lacked in the social graces department at times, but that was a little extreme.

“I didn’t kidnap her, she basically appeared in the TARDIS. I had nothing to do with the location.” the Doctor said distractedly while looking bewildered as more and more data appeared on the ball, thus making Rose even more nervous as it kept doing it’s thing.

Donna rolled her eyes, that man was a little dense sometimes. “Same thing! I was getting married, and then I was in your TARDIS. Enough to give ideas to a woman.”

“So you’re married?” Rose was curious, and was also wondering if the husband was aware of his wife running around all time and space like that. She glanced rapidly to Donna’s hand but could not see any rings.

“No, he tried to sacrifice me to a giant spider bent on world domination or something, and in the process he got eaten - a bit of karmic justice.” Donna looked unbothered, but there was a hint of sadness that couldn’t be missed if you looked hard enough. She had loved Lance enough to want to get married to him. Even after all those years, knowing her feelings had never been reciprocated and she had been played...It was still a sore subject.

Rose blinked multiple times while processing that tidbit of information. “Uh… ok.” That was a first for her, she thought. A life with the Doctor was never boring it seemed, even in a horrific kind of way. “I’m...uh...Sorry for your loss?”

Donna shrugged, starting to drink her cup of tea before making a face when she realized it was cold. “It’s been a long time, don’t worry.”

“Ok, I have the results!” interrupted the Doctor with a sort of puzzled smile, making Rose freeze with tension.

“And?” Rose asked nervously, wondering if she would have enough time to reach the TARDIS door while grabbing a few things in her room.

He rubbed his neck, a straining smile on his face. “Well, no really good way to say this so...You’re linked to the TARDIS… In some kinda odd way.”

“What do you mean linked to the TARDIS?” Rose exclaimed while Donna stood and snatched the weird ball from the Doctor’s hand, ignoring his shout of protest.

“How is that possible?” Donna asked while looking at all the different data scrolling on the screen of the alien object. “I thought she was a machine? Yes, I know - she’s sentient, but still a machine!” She glanced suspiciously at the Doctor. “If that has any chance to happen to me…”

The Doctor suddenly looked alarmed, afraid she would smack him hard if he didn’t answer right now. “No, no! Zero chance! Well I mean zero, except if you plan to open the heart of the TARDIS, in that condition I would say more than a little bit of a chance. But you would have to cross over; then again and it would become kind of messy. So I don’t recommend…”

Rose shot up from her seat and grabbed him by the shoulders. “Doctor!” She interrupted him before she could lose him completely in his own words. “What is happening to me?!”

He was not meeting her eyes, a thing that worried her. “Nothing is happening with your DNA. You’re still human. Completely human I can assure you but…” He sighed, his whole body screaming reluctance. “When you opened the heart of the TARDIS, it opened a faint link between you and the TARDIS. Nothing major I assure you!” His smile was trying to be reassuring, but it was starting to have the opposite effect on Rose, who felt her panic rise by the second. “But I suppose it was so faint that when I took everything in you, it stayed behind somehow. And you could have lived your whole life without it doing anything else, if you didn’t cross over the void without proper protection.”

“What does that mean?” Rose was beyond confused now. Was she sharing her body with a form of the TARDIS? Was she starting to be one with her?

“That means when you started your jumps across the universe, the void opened the link with the TARDIS. It happened bit by bit in the beginning, and you wouldn’t have ever known. And I think if you hadn’t taken that final jump, it would have stayed that way and you would have lived a normal life, only much more healthy.” He took out his specs and put it on his nose, more as a gesture of comfort than need. “Maybe a little bit longer…But you said your last jump was not like the other?”

“Yes,” Rose’s answer was filled with confusion. “Those were more like cracks in the universe itself, and like I said the readings were all over the place. The original ones that we were seeing were invisible to the naked eye, but then new ones came in and those could be seen by anyone. And when we were crossing over it was more like an intense but brief rollercoaster, 5 to 10 seconds at best. A little bit of nausea and then you were fine. But on the last one, it felt like hitting a wall at full speed and I lost consciousness instantanely.”

He nodded, like he had been waiting for her to say that. “That’s what I thought. That last jump probably opened the link wide open, making the TARDIS take over. That’s why you are not aging, because your body is taking cues from the TARDIS, not your own genetics.”

“Does that mean she is part TARDIS now?” Donna asked who was looking at Rose with a mixture of curiosity and confusion.

He snorted. “Don’t be ridiculous. That’s not possible. Rose is human. The TARDIS is well...The TARDIS. The mix would kill Rose in a few days at best.”

“Hey!” Donna was outraged at his remark. “You’re the one that’s rambling on and on about the TARDIS being in Rose’s head!”

“No, what I mean is the TARDIS and Rose are somewhat linked. Rose is still human, but on an energetic level, the TARDIS is taking the lead. Ergo the DNA not decaying like it should.”

“Am I immortal or not?” Rose could feel herself relax, if the Doctor had detected even a hint of the Bad Wolf, he would have let her know by now.

He winced. “No, not really. With your energy linked like that to the TARDIS, you would probably live as long as her. When she dies, your link with her will dissolve instantly and your body will probably… well, it would give up soon after.” He had the decency to have an apologetic smile. “Sorry, no better way to say it.”

Rose took the alien artifact from Donna's hand and looked curiously at the reading, which was still making no sense to her. “And if I go back to the other universe for example?”

“Well… It’s just a theory, but I think with the TARDIS gone and the void between you, the link will snap and you will not support it.” He took back the ball from her hand. “Let me show you.” He clicked on something, and suddenly multiple lights were shown all around the room, making Donna gasp in amazement. “So do you see all the yellow light all around?”

Rose could only look around, stunned by the ballet of multicolored light around them. “Yes, yes I see.”

“It’s the TARDIS, it’s normal to see them around us, because we are basically inside her. The other colors are other different kinds of spectre, but I am not going to go there now.”

He pushed a few buttons and then turned it in Donna's direction, who took a step back, not really sure about what he was trying to do. She started to slowly glow in a few colors, mostly red and blue, with tiny bits of yellow in some places.

“See?” he continued, still in full teacher mode. “Almost no yellow. And that’s completely normal for a human.” He turned it again, this time on his own body. And to his friends' amazement, he started to glow with a lot more color, much more vibrant than Donna. A stream of intense yellow was circling inside him, taking a good part of the center of his body and some of the head. “I’m a Time Lord, so it’s completely normal for me to be that way. It’s what makes us well, us. The Time stream in one of the purest forms.”

“And me?” Rose asked not really sure if she wanted to hear the answer.

Without a word he clicked again on the alien artifact and within a few seconds, she could see a glow appear all around her. Donna gasped openly at her, making her nervous about what was appearing. “Wow, that's a lot of yellow,” she said in astonishment. “How can she have more than you?”

Rose looked around herself, but the different lights reflecting off her were blinding her and she could only decipher a few of them. “What do you mean?”

He took out his specs and scratched his chin, a thoughtful look on his face. “You have yellow light all around you, mostly on your upper body. I would say 30% more than me approximately.” He moved the ball around and made an interesting noise. “See those strains of faint light around her?” he asked Donna who squinted before nodding. “That’s the TARDIS. A basic manifestation of the link between them. The fact we can see it shows it’s pretty strong.”

“Wait, wait, wait!” Donna said suddenly as if she were suddenly remembering something. “You told me once the TARDIS is made with Atron energy right?”

He smiled. “That’s a little basic but yeah, that’s the spirit.”

“So, if she has that much yellow inside her, why is her Atron energy level that low?” She turned to Rose with an apologetic smile. “No offence Rose but you look like a streetlight.”

Rose laughed at the comparaison, she was still a little shaken at the revelation but she was starting to come around. “No offense taken.”

“Yeah, that’s the only thing still a mystery,” the Doctor said while scratching his neck. “With that kind of reading, Rose should ooze Atron energy, especially if the TARDIS is changing her energy”

Rose had a good idea of why her energy level was so off. She was pretty sure it was linked to the part that was hiding inside her, but she didn’t want the Doctor to start snooping around. “Well how many times have you seen someone sharing a link with a TARDIS like this?” she asked, trying her best to nudge the Doctor’s thought path in another direction.

“Except for Time Lords? No one.” His eyes glanced upwards with a pensive glance. “Well not even them. We are psychically bound to our TARDIS because of our link with the Time Schism, so we do not need to go beyond that. Especially because it can be really dangerous. The Time Vortex in its purest form, like it is in the heart of the TARDIS, is really unpredictable at the best of times…” He turned to Rose, crossing his arms with annoyance. “It’s a wonder you were able to stay alive by the way. I don’t know if I ever told you that but what you did back then was incredibly dangerous. You could have died or worse never have existed.”

“I know,” Rose answered quietly. She had been ready to sacrifice her life if that would have meant a chance to save him. And she had never regretted her choice, not even once. She only regretted not being able to say goodbye. That’s the only thing she would have changed, having enough time to tell him how much he had changed her life and how much she had loved him. “But you were worth the risk. I couldn’t let you die, not without knowing I could do something… and i’ll do it again in a heartbeat.”

His face softened as he smiled. “I know…You tend to be stubborn.”

“Sorry to rain on everyone's parade,” Donna abruptly interrupted them, “but what is the risk of all that? I mean if she shares a link with the TARDIS, do we have to wait for side effects or something?” She shot an apologetic smile to Rose. “If you turn blue one morning I want to be prepared.”

Rose looked horrified at the idea and turned to the Doctor with alarm. “No, don’t worry,” he said with a calming voice. “If you were to suffer any side effects, they will not really be seen by the naked eye. More like on DNA or cellular level, and for the moment it doesn’t seem to be the case.” He seemed to ponder on something for a few seconds. “Oh wait yes… Do you plan on having children?” His smile was big but clearly fake, only adding anxiety for her.

“Not really no,” she answered tentatively, not really sure where to look. “I mean maybe once upon a time, but a lot has changed. Well except for Tony, but it has not been really my choice. And he is already an adult…” She shrugged. “Wait why?”

The Doctor winced, his hand scrubbing the back of his head almost obsessively. “Well, as we've discovered, you and the Tardis share a link. So, we need to consider the probability of further impact on your body."

"what do you mean?" Rose got a little apprehensive at the way he was wording it. What exactly was he getting at?

"The atron energy around you going forward, plus your cellular levels are practically stagnant, unless they happen to mutate as this link grows stronger at some point in the future." The Doctor paused to consider how to drop the bomb on her. He sighed and figured that he might as well just say it. "Rose, there is a chance that you may never have a child in the natural way, should you want one someday."

“Oh…” That was the only word she could get out as she fell heavily onto the sofa.

“Are you okay?” Donna asked as she sat down next to her. That was a lot for someone to take in, and while Donna wasn’t entirely sure Rose’s feelings on the matter, she was ready to be the shoulder to cry on if needed.

Rose gave a humorless laugh. “I’m suddenly really happy my mom is in another dimension.” She turned to the Doctor as he sat down near her. “She would have killed you, you know?” The smile was little but genuine. Her gaze finally wandered to the ceiling, a thoughtful look in her eyes.

He snorted at the image. “Knowing Jackie? No doubt.” After a second, he took her hand in his, tugging her until she was looking at him. “I’m sorry Rose, if I could change it I would but…”

She pressed her free hand to his lips, making him stop almost instantly. “Not everything that is happening is your fault. I opened the heart of the TARDIS, knowing full well it was dangerous. And even if I knew back then, I would have still opened it and did what I did. If I really want children in the future, besides Tony I mean, I will adopt okay?”

He nodded, but before he could do anything else Donna yawned loudly, making them both turn their heads.

“Sorry, I’m knackered,” she said visibly tired. “I think I’m going to take a shower, and go to bed.” As she stood up, she turned around, looking at them with suspicion. “I swear on everything that if as soon as I’m gone you start to bicker again, I will put you both in a cupboard and lose the key.” And before they had time to react, she turned around and left the room, closing the door behind her.

After a few seconds of shock, Rose turned to the Doctor with wide eyes. “Sometimes she’s really scary,” she said with a laugh.

“I heard that!” Donna yelled from the hallway, making Rose and the Doctor laugh.

“That’s Donna for you,” he said with fondness. “I have no idea what I would do without her.”

She placed her head on his shoulder and sighed in contentment. “I’m happy you found each other.”

He placed his arm around her shoulder, making sure she was comfortable. “Me too.”

They stayed that way for a long moment, just happy to be in each other’s company, the silence stretching out as the light dimmed around them. As Rose felt herself melt more and more into the Doctor, her eyes slowly closing, she realized if she stayed that way she would simply fall asleep on him and probably not move for the rest of the night. She reluctantly moved away from him, extracting a protesting sound from the Doctor who was just happy being where he was.

“Sorry,” she said with a grimace, stretching her back at the same time, making it pop. “I need to move before I fall asleep.” She took a few steps and turned around, beaming at him with joy. “So, see you in the morning?”

“Bright and early!” he responded with happiness, almost bouncing on himself.

She laughed and took a few steps, almost crossing the doorstep. She seemed to hesitate for a second before turning around. “Doctor?” Her voice was small but strong. “I’m really happy we are friends again.” Then with one last smile, she closed the door. As the click resonated in the empty room, the Doctor realized he was now alone. After a few seconds, he took out his sonic and pointed it to the ceiling, making the light switch off completely, plunging the room in a complete darkness.

“‘Hear my soul speak,’” He murmured to no one in particular, “‘of the very instant that I saw you, did my heart fly at your service.’” He sighed as he looked to the ceiling. “Shakespeare had always spoken the truth. Right old girl?” He sat up, dusted himself and gathered the tea set that was scattered around the coffee table. “Friends…” he continued, still speaking to himself, a hint of sadness creeping out of his voice. “Yes, friends…”