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A Flash of Gold

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“I’m supposed to go.” Rose knew it wasn’t a question, not in the Doctor’s mind.

“Yeah,” he replied, as cheerily as if she had asked if he wanted tea.

“To another world, and then it gets sealed off.” Rose thought that maybe voicing the daft plan aloud would help the Doctor realize that he was talking nonsense.

“Yeah,” the Doctor replied again, in that same cheery tone.

“Forever,” Rose said, hoping he would catch on to the dual meaning in that world. She had promised him forever, but she couldn’t do that trapped across the void from him. She let out an incredulous laugh. “That’s not going to happen.”

The building shook from the battle between the Daleks and the Cybermen. Rose had already lost one Doctor to the Daleks; she wasn’t about to lose this one too.

Before she could voice that thought though, Pete started moving forward and shouting orders. “We haven’t got time to argue. The plan works. We’re going. You too. All of us.”

“No, I’m not leaving here,” Rose protested.

Jackie stopped too. “I’m not going without her.”

“Oh my God. We’re going!” Pete yelled.

Jackie leaned toward Pete and yelled, “I’ve had twenty years without you, so button it. I’m not leaving her.”

Rose stepped up behind Jackie. “You’ve got to,” she whispered.

“Well, that’s tough!” Jackie yelled.

Rose took her mother’s hand. “Mum.” The computer continued its countdown in the background, but Rose ignored it. She looked straight at her mother and continued, “I’ve had a life with you for nineteen years, but then I met the Doctor, and all the things I've seen him do for me, for you, for all of us. For the whole stupid planet and every planet out there. He does it alone, mum. But not anymore, because now he's got me.” She noticed the Doctor walking behind her, but she ignored him in favor of focusing on her mother. She almost took a step back to stand by his side, but at the last second, she stepped forward and hugged her mum, letting that hug convey everything she was feeling that she couldn’t put into words. When she let her mother go, she pushed her toward Pete. “Go. Have a great life Mum. I love you.”

Behind her, the Doctor reached up to put a button around her neck, but she stepped forward to squeeze her mum’s hand as Jackie let Pete put a button on her neck. This caused the Doctor to miss, but it was already too late. Pete had pressed the button, and her mother was gone, but Rose was still with the Doctor.

Rose turned to face him and saw the button in his hand. “You were going to put that on me, weren’t ya?”

“Rose,” The Doctor whispered. “Once the bridge collapses, that’s it. You will never be able to see her again. Your own mother.”

Rose took the Doctor’s hand. “I made my choice a long time ago, and I’m never going to leave you. Besides, it wouldn’t have worked. Don’t you remember the last time you tried to send me away?” She didn’t notice the panic that flashed through his eyes as he remembered Bad Wolf and how it had almost killed her. She continued lightly, “So, what can I do to help?”

At that moment the computer chimed, “Systems rebooted. Open access.”

Realizing that if Rose had already torn the universe apart once to reach him, she would do it again, and that this time it might kill her, the Doctor decided he had no choice but to let her help. It was the only way he could even try to keep her safe. “Those coordinates over there,” he pointed, “set them all to six. And hurry up.”

“We’ve got Cybermen on the way up,” Rose called to the Doctor.

“How many floors down?” He replied, sprinting over to her.

“Just one.”

The Doctor quickly took over typing, and within a few seconds the computer said, “Levers operational.”

The Doctor smiled, and Rose said, “That’s more like it. Bit of a smile. The old team.”

“Hope and Glory, Mutt and Jeff, Shiver and Shake,” The Doctor said, his own smile widening in response to Rose’s.

“Which one’s Shiver?” Rose asked, glad to have their playful banter back.

“Oh, I’m Shake,” the Doctor replied seriously, handing Rose a magnaclamp.

They both put their magnaclamps on the walls by the levers. “Press the red button,” the Doctor said. “When it starts, just hold on tight. Shouldn’t be too bad for us, but the Daleks and Cybermen are steeped in void stuff. Are you ready?”

Rose glanced at the Doctor and nodded quickly, but when she looked back, she saw the Daleks approaching the window. “So are they.”

“Let’s do it!” The Doctor yelled, and they both forced their levers up, quickly grabbing onto their magnaclamps.

"Online,” the computer said.

Almost immediately, the vacuum of the Void began to pull, and Rose and the Doctor were lifted off their feet, but they both held firm to the magnaclamps. As the first Daleks were sucked in, the Doctor yelled, “The breach is open! Into the Void! Ha!”

A steady stream of Daleks and Cybermen were sucked into the Void. The more time went by, the faster everything was sucked in. Everything was going perfectly until a Dalek bumped Rose’s lever, causing the computer to say, “Offline.”

The suction decreased, and Rose leaned toward the lever, hoping to be able to pull it without letting go of her magnaclamp. She realized it was impossible at the same moment the Doctor yelled, “Hold on!” Ignoring him, she flung herself onto the lever.

"I’ve got to get it upright!” she yelled. Because she was facing away from the Doctor, he was unable to see the way her eyes lit up gold as she struggled, eventually forcing it back into place.

“Online and locked,” The computer declared. The suction picked back up, quickly pulling in the last of the Daleks and Cybermen.

“Rose, hold on! Hold on!” The Doctor yelled as the suction picked Rose up vertically.

The suction of the void picked up, and Rose found it harder and harder to hold on to the lever. But right as she thought she was going to have to let go, she found a little extra strength and tightened her grip. And if she appeared to glow slightly? Well, the Doctor put that down to his own imagination and relief as he heard the computer say, “Systems closed.”

The suction stopped, and they both fell to the ground. Rose collapsed, completely exhausted. The Doctor immediately sprinted over to her and scooped her into his arms. “Rose, are you okay? I thought I had lost you. You shouldn’t have done that, we would have found another way—"

He rambled on a mile a minute until Rose looked him in the eyes and whispered, “Shhh… It’s fine. I’m okay Doctor. Can we please just go home?”

Without another word, he picked her up and carried her to the TARDIS. Clearly relieved to have both her Thief and her Wolf safe, the TARDIS opened the doors for them, so the Doctor didn’t have to set Rose down to use his key.

“Thanks, Old Girl,” Rose whispered, brushing her hand along the door frame as the Doctor carried her in. Without a word, the Doctor dropped Rose onto the jump seat and started to send them into the vortex. When he was finished, he just stared at the time rotor. After a few minutes of silence, Rose softly called, “Doctor?”

“Hmm?” He replied noncommittally.

“What is it?” Rose asked.

“What is what?” He replied, turning around and bouncing on the balls of his feet.

“What’s bothering you?”

“Oh, nothing! Nothing bothers me!” He replied, jumping around the console. “So, where to next? We could go to—”

“Doctor!” Rose shouted. Once she had his attention, she continued calmly, “I just wanna rest. Maybe float through the vortex for a few days?”

“Oh, quite right! And that reminds me, you need to go to the med bay. I have to make sure everything is fine after that,” The Doctor replied.

“In the morning,” Rose grumbled, standing up. Silently, she asked the TARDIS to move her room a little closer. She needed to be able to make it to her room on her own if she wanted to convince the Doctor that a medical inspection could wait until the morning.

“No mornings in the TARDIS Rose Tyler!” The Doctor called.

Rose shook her head and stumbled to her room. She collapsed on the bed and fell asleep instantly, as the exhaustion of the day became overwhelming.

Back in the console room, the Doctor watched Rose disappear into the hallway. As soon as she was out of sight, he slumped against a coral strut. “I could have lost her today,” he whispered to the TARDIS. Her lights dimmed in sad agreement. She had seen the timelines, and most of them ended with her Thief losing her Wolf one way or another. “She should have gone with her mother, to Pete’s World,” the Doctor continued. At that, the TARDIS flashed her lights mauve. How could he possibly think that would be a better situation? “But she lost her mother and her best friend to that universe. What does she have left here?” The TARDIS gave him the telepathic equivalent of an eye roll at that. “Me? I’m no good for her. Just look at the situations I put her in. How many times this month have I almost lost her?”

At this point, the Doctor was belligerent, stumbling around the console room screaming up at the ceiling. The TARDIS flashed her lights green to remind him that Rose was safe and sound onboard and that she was sleeping. He quickly quieted down, even though he had a feeling it would take much more than him yelling to wake her up. The Doctor collapsed into the jump seat and put his head in his hands. “What should I do?” He asked the TARDIS, but she remained unhelpfully silent.