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Time Rewritten

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“Right, where are we off to today, Doctor?” Amy asked, leaning against the railing, studying the Doctor from his position by the console. Rory was sitting in the jump seat, waiting patiently for the Doctor to take them to their next destination.

The Doctor looked up at her and grinned, flouncing around the console and making a show of pushing some knobs and pulling some levers. “Anywhere you want, Pond. You have the whole of time and space at your fingertips. Where do you want to go?”

Amy crossed her arms and said sternly, “Well, you’ve been promising to take me to the beach for a while now. Somehow we never end up going.”

The Doctor made a face and whined, “But beaches are so boring. Nothing but sand and sun.”

“Never been to a nude beach then, Doctor?” Amy teased. She was satisfied when the Doctor blushed furiously and started fidgeting.

“A nudist beach! How exciting,” River sang, emerging from the corridor and into the console room. She grinned seductively at the Doctor as he sputtered and stammered.

“What!” he squeaked in a voice a pitch higher than normal. “No. No, absolutely not.”

“Aw, come on, Doctor. You need to tan that pasty white flesh of yours,” Amy continued to tease.

“Maybe, but certainly not at a nudist beach!” he huffed.

“So, a normal beach, yeah?”

“Absolutely. Nothing better than a normal beach with people covering appropriate parts and…wait, did you just trick me into taking you to a normal boring beach, Amelia Pond?”

“Maybe I did,” the fiery redhead said a little too innocently.

“You have to admit, you did walk right into that one, Doctor,” Rory stated.

The Doctor whirled around to face Rory, losing his balance and partially stumbling toward the other man. He righted himself and tweaked his bow tie. “And whose side are you on?” he asked indignantly.

Rory pointedly look at his wife and replied, “My wife’s, of course. I’m the one who has to live with her. Remember: happy wife, happy life.”

The Doctor muttered something under his breath and turned back to the console.

“Wise man,” Amy piped up. “You know, Doctor, you should listen to those words of wisdom and make your wife happy and take her to a beach.”

The Doctor snorted. “I don’t think River’s the type of woman who goes to beaches.”

“Do you know that for a fact or are you making assumptions?” River asked, raising an eyebrow and walking over to seat herself next to Rory.

The Doctor stilled, knowing full well that he was more than likely walking into a trap and he really didn’t feel like being on the receiving end of River’s wrath. River was a strong, self-assured woman, but her moods could swing quite volatilely and she could be impressively scary with her temper. Not to mention her slaps were on par with Jackie Tyler’s slaps.

No, I must not think of that, he thought, shaking his head. Those memories are too painful.

He turned a dial and flipped a lever and turned to the trio, a big grin plastered on his face. “Right, the beach it is!” he exclaimed, rubbing his hands together.

Suddenly, alarms started wailing at a deafening crescendo and the TARDIS rocked and shook, sending its occupants tumbling to the floor. The Doctor grabbed the console from his position on the floor and hoisted himself upright, checking the monitor to see what was going on. River was close to his side, holding on to the console to keep from falling over.

“What’s going on?” she shouted above the din. Lights started flashing and the shuddering increased, sending them sprawling on the floor once more.

“I don’t know. I didn’t even send her anywhere yet!” the Doctor shouted back. He glanced over at Amy and Rory, both who had their hands over their ears.

Suddenly the TRADIS exploded with golden light. The Doctor, who had been trying to stand again, was sent sprawling onto the floor once again. He shut his eyes tightly against the blinding brightness of the golden light, trying to grab on to something to keep himself steady.

And as suddenly as it started, it stopped. The silence that followed was unnerving. The stillness of the ship was eerie. The Doctor waited a few seconds to see if it would start up again, and was relieved when it seemed the ship was good for now. He clambered to the console and checked the monitor again.

What had just happened? he thought, checking the readings. But the screen showed him nothing. Everything appeared normal. He sent out a telepathic question to the ship, but she stubbornly refused to even give him a hint of what had just happened. He scratched his head in frustration.

“Um, Doctor, you might want to see this,” Rory said from the other side of the console.

The Doctor swung the screen away from him and stomped over to Rory. He stopped dead in his tracks as his eyes came to rest on a glowing form laying in a fetal position. As he watched, the golden light seemed to absorb into the figure, the features becoming more pronounced.

The person had long blonde hair that was fanned out on the floor. So probably female, he assumed. Slim build, but hard to tell with the position she was lying in. She was dressed all in black, from her black boots to her black jeans and black jacket.

The Doctor frowned. Who is she and more importantly, how did she get on my TARDIS?

He became aware that the Ponds and River were standing right next to him, staring fascinatedly at the person, but waiting for him to do something. He swallowed and cautiously made his way to the figure. He knelt down and brushed away the hair from her face to check a pulse and froze as he saw who it was. Rose Tyler.

Time seemed to slow down as he stared at the woman who had stolen his hearts so long ago. He thought that he had moved on and dealt with the pain of losing her, but now, coming face to face with her, all those long forgotten feelings started resurfacing.  He smiled sadly and traced his fingertips lovingly across her cheek. He knew his actions were blocked from view by the others and he had to allow himself this one moment of tenderness towards his long lost girl.

Suddenly she gasped for air and her eyes flew open staring wildly around her. He knelt over her and grinned. “Rose Tyler.” He said her name reverently, with such tenderness, but in a low voice that he was sure neither Amy nor Rory had heard him. He wasn’t too sure about River.

She blinked a few times at him, remaining utterly still except her heaving chest, giving away how scared she was. “Who are you?” she asked in a shaky voice.

Ah, yes, new face. She doesn’t know who I am, he thought.

“It’s me, the Doctor. I’ve regenerated,” he replied softly, sitting back on his heels.

She just look at him blankly and the Doctor felt his hearts breaking slowly as he realized that she had no idea who he was. He had imagined, fantasized, many times about meeting Rose again, but in each of those scenarios he had never imagined her not knowing who he was. The reality of the situation was becoming suffocatingly painful.

“Don’t you remember?” he asked again softly, his voice almost breaking.

She shook her head and struggled into a sitting position. She looked all around her, not even recognizing the TARDIS. The Doctor frowned. She looked to be in her early twenties, so she was definitely older than the nineteen year old he had first met. So why did she not know him?

“What do you remember?” he finally asked.

Her eyes returned to his and he could feel himself drowning in their warm hazel depths.

“Nothing,” she rasped, grabbing his wrist, panic suddenly flashing in her eyes that had gotten wide with fear. “I can’t remember anything!”

Chapter Text

The Doctor felt like his hearts had plummeted. If it had been the simple matter of Rose not recognizing who he was because he had regenerated, well he knew deep down that she would simply accept the new him. Granted, she had taken his regeneration from his ninth self to his tenth self a bit badly, but he had hardly prepped her for such an event. But she had matured and seen so much since then. Surely she would accept him now, new face and all, wouldn’t she?

But for her not to remember their whole time together, well, that was heartbreaking.  She had always been his Rose, and now she didn’t even know him. Wait, she didn’t even know who she was.

He glanced over her quickly. There didn’t seem to be any outer signs of trauma. No visible head wounds that he could see. He’s have to do some thorough medical exams of her.

“What do you mean you don’t know who you are? What do you remember?” he asked in a low voice.

“Nothing. Absolutely nothing,” she whispered, still clutching his wrist.

He stared into her eyes, wracking his superior brain as to what had happened? Questions were running through his head and he would not be getting any answers from her. Not until he helped her regain her memories.

“Doctor, who is she?” Amy asked from behind him.

He glanced over his shoulder and saw the three of them staring at them. Amy was holding Rory’s hand, her eyes wide. Rory was studying them silently. Rory was unusually observant and had the uncanny ability to sense what was going on. It wouldn’t take him long to put two and two together and make sense of the puzzle of Rose. River had a neutral expression on her face, waiting for the answer to the question that Amy had asked. He had never talked about Rose to River.

He glanced back down at Rose. She was staring at them with wide eyes. How terrifying this must all be for her, he thought. He gently took her hand from his wrist and helped her to stand up, never letting go of her hand. And secretly he was thrilled at how perfectly her hand still fit in his.

“Right, yes, introductions. Rose, meet The Legs, The Nose and…”

“Don’t even say it,” River cut him off sharply, glaring at him pointedly.

“Is that my name? Rose?” Rose asked.

He looked down at her and smiled tenderly. He lifted his hand and pushed a stray lock of hair behind her ear. He was relieved when she didn’t flinch away, just stared at him curiously.

“Yes, you’re my…you’re Rose Tyler.” He mentally slapped himself for his blunder. She’s not yours, you idiot! She’s now with the metacrisis…wait, what happened to him? he thought.

Rose looked at him for a moment and then grinned that lovely tongue in teeth grin she always seemed to reserve for him. He felt his own grin turning goofy. She hadn’t even been here five minutes and he was already turning to putty in her hands.

“And who is Rose Tyler?” River asked, her voice having quite a sharp edge to it.

He tore his gaze from Rose and looked over at River. She was pointedly glaring at their entwined hands and then she looked up, arching an eyebrow. He swallowed hard.

“She’s, uh, she’s a former companion,” he stuttered.

“Really? You’ve never mentioned her,” River retorted coolly.

The doctor felt his temper rising. “And you tell me everything, don’t you, River?” he snapped.

She pursed her lips but said nothing more. An awkward silence fell upon the group.

Finally Rory, the ever logical one, decided to get the conversation back on track. “How did she manage to get in the TARDIS?”

“No idea,” the Doctor replied, sighing and running his free hand over his face.

“She’s right there. Why don’t you just ask her?” Amy asked.

“She can’t remember anything. Right now all she knows is her name.”

“So amnesia?” asked Rory.

“Not sure. I’ll know more when I run some tests,” the Doctor said, starting to pull Rose towards the corridor. She stumbled after him, a bewildered expression on her face.

“Wait. What kind of tests?” she asked.

He stopped and turned around to face her, almost pulling her flush against him, but he managed to control himself and keep a little space between them. “Don’t worry. It’s nothing that will hurt, I promise. I would never do anything to hurt you, Rose.” He said her name like a prayer and he inwardly cursed himself for sounding so sappy.

“Do you two need a moment?” Amy asked sarcastically. She was no fool and she could obviously see that the Doctor had deep feelings for this woman. And if she could see it then so could River. And as tough as River was, Amy knew that when it came to the Doctor she could be easily hurt. And as her mother, she would not tolerate her daughter being hurt.

“Yes! Now you three go off and do whatever it is you do. I have some very important tests to run,” the Doctor huffed, pointing a long finger at them.

Amy blinked in surprise at his brusqueness. She was about to open her mouth to protest and put the Doctor in his place when Rory spoke up. “Come on, Amy. The sooner he runs those tests and finds out what’s wrong, the sooner the…situation can be resolved.”

Amy shut her mouth but narrowed her eyes at the Doctor. She didn’t like the ‘situation’ one bit, but she knew that the Doctor was dead set on his task and the stubborn fool would not be swayed. She turned and stormed away, Rory following close behind her but not before he gave the Doctor a meaningful glance.

River stood there, stubbornly refusing to do what the Doctor told her. He stared at her and she stared right back, not even blinking.  The Doctor shrugged and turned, pulling Rose with him towards the Med Bay. River didn’t follow but he knew that this was the tipping point and there was no mending what had just been broken between them. But at the moment he didn’t care. He had Rose back.

Yes, but what is the point of having her back if there’s nothing left of her former self? he asked himself. He shook his head. No, he would fix this. He would find out what happened.

But what then? Yes indeed. What would happen once her memories were restored? Surely her family and the metacrisis were waiting for her? He just didn’t know, but he was going to find out.

Chapter Text

Rose was staring at the Doctor as she sat on the exam bed, biting on her lower lip. He was rummaging through drawers and cupboards and he could feel her eyes follow his every move. Now that they were alone he was suddenly nervous. He had no idea why. When they had been together before, so long ago, he was always at ease with her. Maybe it was different now because he had to start from beginning, make a first impressive impression. He wanted to impress her and see adoration in her eyes again. It was certainly vain, but with this regeneration he was about as elegant as a newborn giraffe and not nearly as sexy as his last self. But would Rose see past all outer appearances and love who he was inside? He dearly hoped so because living a life where Rose did not love him was definitely unbearable.

He had no idea what he was looking for. He was basically buying time and trying to think of where to start, what scans to do. He sighed and turned to face her, a needle in his hand.

She blinked at the needle but sat absolutely still, waiting to see what he was going to do.

“I’m just going to take a blood sample. This is the only part that will hurt a little. I’ll get the TARDIS to run a full scan and we’ll take it from there,” he said, a weak smile playing on his lips.

“Yeah, sure. Just…make it quick OK,” she said quickly.

“Oh, you have no idea how quick I can be,” he blurted out and cringed.

She burst out laughing and it was like music to his ears.  Still didn’t stop him from blushing crimson red as he realized what he had just said. Why couldn’t he have said something cool?

“Was that a pun?” she asked, grinning with that tongue between her teeth. He found his eyes drawn to that tongue and he couldn’t tear his gaze away.

He shook his head. “No. No, no, no, no, no. Definitely wasn’t a pun. Definitely wasn’t implying that I’m quick in the...in that…” he stammered into silence, feeling his ears burning with the deepening blush.

She giggled and subsided into silence. “How is it that I can remember what a pun or a sexual reference is, but I cannot remember who I am?”

“Memories reside in a different part of the brain. That part of your brain has either been tampered with or you are blocking those memories. Now your basic brain functions, like mathematical equations or how to tie your shoelaces, don’t seem to be tampered with. But I’ll know more when I do some tests.”

“Why would I block my memories? It doesn’t make sense?”

“Something traumatic could have happened. Something really, really not good.” He was thinking of her mom and the metacrisis. No, he didn’t want to think of him right now.

He proceeded to take her blood and put it in a machine for the TARDIS to analyze. Then he had her lie down on the bed and the TARDIS did a few scans which lasted five minutes top. When it was over he went over to the monitor to read the results when they were ready. He startled when Rose came up right next to him, he had been so lost in thought.

“Can I ask you something, Doctor?” she asked in a low voice.

He swallowed and nodded.

“What am I to you?”

Everything! he thought. He was thankful that he hadn’t just blurted that out. He started panicking. What should he tell her? What answer did you give to a question like that when their history was so…complicated?

But he looked her dead in the eye and smiled sadly. “Does it need saying?”

She scowled and looked down. When she looked back up he noticed tears shimmering in her whiskey colored eyes. “It feels like I should know what that means, but it’s almost like there’s so much sadness associated with those words.

He felt his own eyes tearing up. Yes, there was definitely a lot of sadness associated with those words. Words that he had uttered to her on that blasted beach. He had wanted to give her a happy life with an exact replica of himself who could grow old with her. He had sacrificed his own happiness so she could be happy. He had to believe that she would be happy. But he had always looked back on that moment and cursed every deity out there and cursed himself even more. A bitter, painful memory it was, indeed.

He pulled her into a hug and felt her arms wrap around his middle, her head resting on his chest. He rested his chin on her head and closed his eyes, concentrating on getting his emotions under check.

He jumped and pulled away from her when he heard the signal that the results were ready. He scanned the monitor and scowled.

“What does it say? Did you find anything?” she asked.

He looked at her and noticed that she was hugging herself, almost like she was cold.

“Nothing. The scans found nothing. No signs of interference or anything. If I had to wager, I’d say it’s a mental block. But it still doesn’t explain how you managed to appear on the TARDIS the way you did.”

“Is there any way we could find out?”

He paused and she noticed. “What is it?”

“I…I could try and go inside your mind, telepathically.”

Her eyes widened. “You can do that? Wait, humans aren’t telepathic.”

He pointed to his chest. “Not human.”

She raised an eyebrow. “Alien?”

“Yes.”

He stared at her, waiting for her response. This was so like the first time they had met.

“You look human.”

“Humanoid. Lots of species are humanoid.”

“And you wear a bow tie?”

He startled at the sudden direction of the conversation. Honestly, why did everyone attack his bow tie? He felt his hands fly up to it and adjust it. “Bow ties are cool.”

She tilted her head and grinned that tongue in tooth smile again. “Yes, they are.”

He preened and grinned at her. “See! I knew you would like it, Rose Tyler. You were always my special girl!”

She laughed and he grinned some more. This felt so normal and natural. Rose Tyler and the Doctor in the TRADIS, as it always should be.

“So you want to look in my mind, yeah?”

“Only if you want me to. I won’t force you into it.”

“Even though you really, really want to know what’s going on.”

“It would be a violation of trust the go into someone’s mind without their permission.”

She extended her hand towards him. “Then you have my permission.”

“Just like that?”

She shrugged, her hand still extended. “I trust you, Doctor.”

He grinned and took her hand. He stood facing her and let go of her hand, gently pushing her hair behind her ears. He then cupped her face in her hands, tilting her head gently up so she was looking at him.

“Try and relax. It won’t hurt. If anything comes up that you don’t want me to see, just imagine a door and I won’t look. Promise.”

Her voice was slightly teasing. “Kinda hard to do that when I don’t even know if there’s anything that I don’t want you to see.”

“Good point. OK, relax and close your eyes.”

She complied and her lips parted ever so slightly, he stared momentarily at those full lips and felt himself leaning forward. He mentally slapped himself and instead rested his forehead against her own.

Entering her mind was easy. There were no walls, no resistance. There was a slight nervousness. And it was completely blank. That wasn’t right. He decided to delve deeper. And he ran smack into a golden, shimmering orb that resembled Vortex energy. He couldn’t push into the orb. He didn’t sense anything threatening about it. But he couldn’t decipher whether the orb was protecting her memories from within, or whether it was withholding them. Maybe it was withholding her memories in order to protect Rose. As soon as he came to that conclusion, two words formed: Bad Wolf.

The Doctor gasped and pulled away from her, stumbling and landing on the floor. He scrambled back to his feet. Rose had fallen to her knees and was clutching her head. Any other time he would have been concerned, but right now he was full of fear.

“How is that possible? I pulled all of the Time Vortex out of you. Bad Wolf should be long gone?” He paused. The TARRDIS would have picked up readings if there was any Time Vortex energy in Rose when he did the scans. Unless Bad Wolf was concentrating all of the energy into supressing Rose’s memories. It was a small possibility, but a possibility nonetheless. And to be honest, it was the only thing that made sense.

Rose looked up and the Doctor was surprised to see anger there. He was expecting fear, denial, but not anger.

She rose shakily to her feet and he ran over to steady, which was ironic considering he stumbled over his feet and almost knocked her over.

“You said that wouldn’t hurt,” she accused.

“It shouldn’t have. Do you remember any of it?”

She closed her eyes and concentrated. “Bad Wolf.”

“Does that mean anything to you?” he asked nervously.

She shook her head. “Nah. It’s just giving me a wicked headache.”

He stepped back from her and wrung his hands together in a nervous gesture.  He had no idea what to do, where to go from here. It was Bad Wolf, that much he was certain of. And Bad Wolf was supressing/protecting Rose’s memories. But he had no idea how to take it out of her or whether it was a good idea to even try.

“I do remember something though when you poked around in my head,” she said.

He looked up at her and waited for her to continue.

She frowned and concentrated, the expression absolutely adorable on her face. The Doctor’s own expression softened. “It doesn’t make sense but all I remember is eyes.”

“Eyes?” What a useless thing to remember! He thought.

“Yeah. Striking blue eyes. But the weird thing is that they morphed into chocolate brown eyes.”

“Ah,” the Doctor said, making the connection to his ninth and ten regeneration. Ninth with the leather and big ears and blue eyes, and tenth with the sand shoes, great hair and brown eyes. Rose was remembering certain aspects of his past selves, well, the eyes anyway.

“Mean anything to you?” she enquired.

“Yup,” he said, popping the ‘p’. He frowned. Saying that word sounded strange his mouth and he had no idea why he had just said it.

“Care to share with the class?”

“Uh, it’s…it’s complicated.”

She frowned and stepped closer to him, suddenly cupping his face in her palms. He instantly froze, wondering what she was going to do. Was she going to kiss him? A big part of him was hoping so. But she just peered closer into his eyes.

“Those eyes are just like your eyes. So old. So much pain in their depths,” she whispered.

“Would you believe me if I told you that those eyes, these eyes, are all the same?” he whispered back. He wanted to close the distance, to brush his lips against her own. He could feel her breath brush against his lips, she was so close. It wouldn’t take much to close the distance between them.

She arched an eyebrow. “Then I would say that you have a lot of explaining to do.”

He grinned. “Depends on how much time you have.”

“Forever.”

He blinked. He had never forgotten those words that she had promised him. Those words that he had held so dearly to his hearts. That simple word that echoed through his mind and tormented him through all the many lonely years. Rose knew him. She was remembering her promise. But it was still a promise she couldn’t keep. She was human after all. Or is she?

She closed the distance and their lips brushed together in a chaste kiss. His eyes fluttered shut, his hearts hammering in his chest. He felt her start to pull away and he wrapped one arm around her waist and the other came up to cup her head and he deepened the kiss. And as chaste as it started, it had now turned into a desperate longing. Her hands were in his hair and she moaned into his mouth, a sound that drove him absolutely mad. She finally had to pull away for air and gasped his name, making him grin. He continued to kiss along her neck and he happened to look up and froze and he saw River standing in the doorway.

Chapter Text

Now it’s true that the Doctor has quite the gob, but at that moment all words failed him. All the air whooshed out of him and he felt his respiratory bypass kick in. This was very, very, not good. His hold on Rose must have hardened, because she let out a yelp and looked at him and then followed his gaze to the woman she now knew as River.

She squirmed out of his grasp and unconsciously he moved in front of her, blocking her from River. Rose peeked from behind him and puzzled at the look of absolute hurt on the other woman’s face. The hurt was so raw and intense that Rose felt her own heart breaking for her. But that kind of hurt could only be caused by the utter betrayal from the person you loved.

She gasped and looked up at the Doctor. “Is she your wife?” she demanded.

The Doctor didn’t look at her, instead keeping his gaze resolutely fixed on River. “Yes. No. Technically, the answer is no. It happened during a timeline that didn’t technically exist.”

“But you made the vows,” River said quietly. Quiet was not good. He would have preferred raised voices and shouting. Even some throwing of things. But the deadly calmness of River did not bode well. It was very much the calm before the storm.

“In order to restore the timeline. And quite frankly, I felt forced into it. You never gave me much choice,” he retorted.

“Is that what you really think? That I forced you into marrying me?” River asked disbelievingly.

“You were like a spoilt kid refusing to budge until you got what you wanted. And what you wanted was to be known as my wife. Well, darling, you got what you wanted. Are you happy now?” he retorted scathingly.

It was cruel and he knew it. He wanted to take it back as soon as he said it but it was now too late.

River blinked a few times and the Doctor braced himself for what he knew would be the mother of all blow ups. But she surprised him. Instead of angry insults and slapping or even drawing her gun, he watched as she schooled her features and turned abruptly and stalked out the room.

The Doctor let out a breath he had been holding. He ran a hand over his face and then through his hair. This day was going pear-shaped and he just couldn’t find it in him to chase after her and apologise. Did he really want to apologise? Certainly not for kissing Rose. And certainly not for loving Rose. But he knew he should apologise for the unnecessary cruelty he had inflicted on River.

He turned around slowly and faced Rose, ashamed of how he had just acted in front of her. He was expecting anger from her, but instead she just raised an eyebrow.

“Rough day, yeah?”

He smiled softly and spoke in an even softer tone. “Something like that.”

She reached for his hand and he gratefully grasped it. “Wanna talk about it?”

He chuckled ruefully. “Oh, where to start, Rose Tyler? There has been so much that I’ve wanted to tell you and the cruel irony is that I finally have you here, I cannot tell you because you can’t remember.” He traced his fingertips along her cheek and was pleased to note the hitch in her breath.

She momentarily closed her eyes and leaned into his hand. She opened them and grinned, her tongue peeking out the side of her mouth. “Well, let’s work on that. Give you something to do to keep your mind off your marital woes.”

He grinned back at her. “Cheeky.”

Her grin broadened and he felt himself melting into her beautiful smile. How many times had she given him her special smile and it had instantly lifted his spirits? He dropped his hand from her cheek and grasped her hand tighter. “Right, let’s start from the beginning,” he stated, forcing himself to step away from her and pull her out of the med bay and down one of the corridors. They walked in silence until they came to a wooden door with beautifully carved roses set into the wood.

“Your room,” he said softly, stepping aside to let her open the door.

She opened the door slowly, peeking inside, and finally opening it fully. It was the same as when she last left it, the day of Canary Wharf. He shuddered and quickly dispelled those memories. He walked in behind her. It had been so long since he had been in this room. His tenth self had come here often, brooding and losing himself in the memories of Rose. After he had regenerated into his eleventh body, he had resolved to forever lock this room and never enter it again. He had chosen to move on. It was the only way he could survive losing her.

The bed was unmade and clothes were strewn on the floor. Makeup and perfume cluttered the vanity. There was a heavy wooden dresser to the side and various photos in frames adorned its surface. Photos of his ninth and tenth self. Photos of Jack, Mickey and Jackie. There was a photo that had been enlarged from Christmas dinner, shortly after he had regenerated into his tenth body. He was wearing his pinstriped suit and long jacket. He and Rose were posing together, both wearing paper Christmas hats, his arm around her waist. She was looking up at him and he was looking down at her, both grinning from ear to ear. That one photo had captured such a tender moment, a moment of joy and promise…and love.

He tore his gaze from the photo and watched Rose as she slowly turned around, looking at everything. She finally spotted the photos and walked over to where he was standing by them. She studied them for a long time and finally picked up the enlarged photo that he had just been staring at. She frowned and placed it back down and picked up a picture of his ninth self, all leather and gruffness. She traced a finger over his picture, almost tenderly.

“This is you, isn’t it?” she asked softly.

“Yes.”

She put the picture down and pointed to the enlarged photo. “And this is you, too?”

He nodded. “Do you remember any of that?”

She shook her head. “No, no memories. Just almost like a background echo telling me that these two men are you. How is it I know what regeneration is and that you regenerated from those two men, but I have no memory of it?”

He mulled a bit at her question. “Background knowledge, I’m guessing. Bad Wolf is hiding your memories, but not the knowledge associated with them, by the looks of it.”

She turned round and flopped down on her bed with a huff. “Fat lot of good that is,” she muttered.

He followed and sat down next to her, shifting until their shoulders were touching. “We’ll figure this out, Rose. I promise.”

She turned her head and studied him. Eventually she said, “I know you will, Doctor. But right now there are questions that I want answers to.”

“Like?”

“River.”

He felt himself deflate. He really did not want to talk about River.

“And I want to know exactly what I was to you?”

He swallowed hard. “What do you mean?”

“Were you and I…were we, you know, together?”

“Together?”

She sighed. “Don’t be obtuse, Doctor. You know what I mean. Were we a couple, an item, in a relationship?” She was staring so intently at him he was sure she could see into his soul.

He looked down at his hands clasped in his lap. He slowly shook his head. “No. We never crossed that line.”

“Never?”

“Never,” he confirmed.

Her frown deepened. “That doesn’t sound right. When I look at pinstripes you, I get the distinct feeling that we were intimate.”

“No, we were never intimate.”

“Then why am I remembering making love to you under the stars and…Zeppelins?”

“Ah,” he replied and had to look away to hide the sting of tears in his eyes. She was remembering his metacrisis. How odd to feel jealous of himself. He had always assumed, or at least hoped, that Rose and Handy had made it work together after he had left them on that beach. He had refused to dwell on how intimate they would become and get married and have children together, because that was the life he had envisioned having with her. And that fantasy had blown to dust the instant the metacrisis had been created. He would give her the life that she deserved. He could love her and grow old with her and give her children, if she so desired. The fully Time Lord him could give her none of that. That was the curse of being a Time Lord. Now to have it confirmed that they were intimate and happy was like a sharp slap to the face for him. It hurt him more than he should let it.

“Doctor?”

He cleared his throat. “You’re remembering my metacrisis.”

“Metacrisis? You mean the exact replica of you? Same thoughts, same memories, same man? Except he’s human.”

He nodded in confirmation. “Yeah. What else do you remember of him?”

“Just that one snippet of memory.”

He nodded but remained silent, thinking about how lucky that bastard was to have the pleasure of making love to Rose Tyler. But then he started wondering about Handy. What happened to him? Was he searching for Rose? He sighed and abruptly stood up, pacing the room.

“You have to understand, Rose, that I left him with you because I knew he could give you the life you wanted. He could openly love you and grow old with you and have children with you. I knew I would never be able to give you any of that. I did what I did because I thought it was the right thing to do. And it was one of the most utterly painful things I had to do, because I finally had you back and then I had to give you up.”

He stopped and looked over at her. She was staring at him with big eyes, biting on her lower lip. He smiled weakly and said more softly, “No, I suppose this doesn’t make any sense considering you remember nothing of it. But I want you to remember this conversation once your memories come back. I want you to know that I never stopped loving you. But I had to move on. I had to, for my own sanity.”

“So is that where River comes in?” she asked.

He sighed again and looked down at his shoes. “Can we not talk about River? The story of River is very, very complicated.”

She stood up and walked to stand in front of him, waiting for him to lift his head and look at her. She placed a hand on his shoulder and replied, “We do need to talk about her. She is your wife, regardless of what you think, and you kissed me, which utterly hurt her.”

“I know, Rose. I know I hurt her. I thought the story of you and I was closed. I never expected you to come barrelling into my life, and my hearts, again. I was quite willing to make it work with her, but…”

“I came back and ruined it,” she finished for him.

He grasped her hands and clutched them to his chest. “No, no don’t blame yourself. The blame lies all on me. I guess you could say I was with her out of a sense of guilt. I tried desperately to make things up to her.”

“How do you mean?” she puzzled.

“He means,” a Scottish voice interrupted from the doorway, making them both jump apart, “that Rivers’ whole messed up existence is because of him. He’s the reason she never had a normal childhood or was raised by her parents. Instead her mother was kidnapped while pregnant with her by a psychopath and taken cruelly from her mother after she was born and raised for the sole purpose of killing the Doctor. She never stood a chance of having a normal life. Her parents, that being Rory and I, never got to raise our daughter. And now that we’ve accepted it all and have tried our best to make it work, he goes and cruelly breaks her heart by cheating on her with you.”

Amy Pond had her arms crossed over her chest and was looking very formidable. Her fiery red hair framed her angry features and she was quite the image when she was furious.

Silence fell heavy in the room with Amy and the Doctor glaring at each other. Rose stayed absolutely still, her mind reeling from the bombshell Amy had dropped. So Amy was Rivers mother. Well, that was…interesting. She was starting to understand why the Doctor kept insisting that it was complicated.

“Now I know it wasn’t all your fault and quite frankly, all has been forgiven. But I will not stand by and do nothing while you make kissy faces with Blondie here,” she continued.

“Excuse me?” Rose snarled. She didn’t quite like the brusque nature of the redhead, or the attitude.

Amy turned her scorn onto Rose. “I think you should go. I want a word in private with the Doctor.”

Rose stood straighter, her temper rising. “No,” she stated.

Amy narrowed her eyes. “I said get out.”

Rose stood her ground. “And I said no. This is my room. You leave.”

Amy looked round the room, studying its contents. She finally looked back at Rose, sizing her up. She finally came to a conclusion and nodded once and turned her attention to the Doctor. He looked agitated and not very pleased with the turn of events.

“A word, please, Doctor?” she asked, inclining her head to the door, indicating for him to follow her.

He huffed. “Not now, Amy. My main priority is helping Rose get back her memories.”

“And my main priority is my daughter,” she retorted pointedly.

He groaned and stormed out the room, followed closely by Amy, who looked back at Rose before she exited the room. Rose watched curiously as they left. Amy had a way of getting the Doctor to do what she wanted. River didn’t seem to have the same hold on him as her mother. Curious. Whereas Amy was blunt and a no-nonsense kind of woman, a trait she had passed on to her daughter, River had an underlying softness to her. A softness that was directly related to the Doctor. A softness that led her to get hurt by him more often than not. Is that what loving the Doctor entailed? Getting your heart broken? Is that what happened to her? Did he break her heart?

She shook her head and walked back to the pictures. She sighed in frustration. She desperately wanted to know what the hell was going on. Why were her memories blocked? What had caused it in the first place? She could mull all of those questions all she wanted but there still weren’t any answers. She and the Doctor obviously had a history together. He still cared deeply for her, maybe even loved her. But none of those revelations were helping in unlocking the mystery of her blocked memories.

There was a soft knock on her door and she turned to see River standing there expectantly. She groaned and turned back to the photos.

“Please, River, I’m really not in the mood for a catfight.”

There was a slight pause and River replied. “I’m not here to fight.”

Rose turned and looked at her in surprise. “Then what?”

“I thought maybe I could help.”

Rose arched her eyebrow. “And why is that? You mother and you both consider me the harlot trying to take your husband away, when in reality I have no clue as to what is going on.”

“I know that, Sweetie. My anger is not directed at you. It’s directed at the Doctor and at myself for being so stupid for believing that he could truly love me.”

Rose was still not convinced. “Fair enough. But you still haven’t answered my question. Why would you want to help me?”

River chuckled, but it had no humor to it. “My reasons are purely selfish. The sooner we get you memories back the sooner you can get back to where you came from and the sooner I can put this whole episode behind me.”

“As easy as that?”

River shrugged. “One can only hope.”

“So what do you suggest?”

“Has the Doctor tried going into your mind?”

Rose nodded. “Right before you…found us. My memories are being blocked by Bad Wolf. The Doctor seemed quite scared when he saw that.”

“Well, there’s our first clue. Come with me to the console room. We’ll have a look and see what Bad Wolf is.”

 

They were standing in the console room. Amy and the Doctor were still somewhere talking and Rory was keeping a low profile. River was typing on the keypad and watching the screen. Neither woman was making an effort to strike up a conversation.

After about ten minutes, River growled. “The Tardis is refusing to let me find out any information on you or Bad Wolf. Why is she fighting so hard to keep this a secret?” She continued to type on the keyboard.

Rose got tired of standing and decided to sit on one of the jump seats. She closed her eyes and listened to the clicking of River typing on the keyboard, of the sound of the rotor as it rose and fell.

“Care to dance with me?” a voice whispered in her ear. She felt long fingers caress along her waist and she shivered at the touch.

She giggled and rolled over on the bed. “Worst pick up line ever, Doctor,” she said, yawning.

He nuzzled along her neck causing her to moan softly. She felt him grin against her naked skin.

“Hmmm…I do recall you using a similar line in a basement during the Blitz,” he murmured, his fingers slowly and achingly caressing across her hips and make a lazy trail lower between her legs.

“Ah…I…I was actually talking about dancing back then,” she said, her concentration breaking as he gently parted her legs and trailed his fingers upward until he reached her sweet spot. She scraped her nails against his scalp and involuntarily raised her hips, seeking release.

“So was I.”

He kissed her leisurely and passionately as he positioned himself between her legs. All conversation was forgotten as they made love slowly, getting lost in each other and whispering each other’s names.

Afterwards they lay in each other’s arms, legs tangled. He languidly stroked her hair and she nuzzled against his chest.

“Are you happy, Doctor?”

“Of course I am. I certainly got the better part of the deal. I got you,” he replied. She looked up at him and grinned. He tilted her chin up gently with his fingers and kissed her with such love and tenderness.

“I get to wake up and fall asleep with you every day. I have your love and in turn I get to openly love you with no fear or repercussions.”

“But don’t you miss the travelling?”

“Yes, but I would give up every time if it meant I could keep you.”

She smiled happily. “How long are you going to stay with me?”

“Forever,” he whispered.

“Rose,” a voice called.

Her eyelids fluttered open and she looked up into the concerned face of the Doctor, who was kneeling in front of her. She touched her cheek and realised that she had been crying in her sleep. She looked over his shoulder and spotted Amy and Rory in the background whispering. River was still staring at the monitor, ignoring them both.

“Are you OK?” he asked gently.

She nodded. “I’m always alright.”

He stared at her a bit longer. “You were crying. Do you want to talk about it?”

“No. That memory is private,” she snapped. He frowned and she sighed. She did not want to share that intimate memory with him. She was aching with the love she felt for the human version of him and the love he in turn showed to her.

“I had a dream, or maybe it was a memory, of your metacrisis.”

He stared into her eyes a bit longer and she willed him not to make her go into detail of that memory. He nodded once and stood, extending his hand to help her to her feet. She took his hand and rose to her feet.

“That’s the second time you’ve had a memory recall and both times it has been of the metacrisis. Maybe he’s the one we need to concentrate on,” the Doctor mused, looking pointedly at River.

She nodded and said, “On it,” typing again on the keyboard.

He turned back to Rose. “Maybe he’s the key to all of this. Can you try and remember anything else? Did he hurt you in any of those flashbacks?”

“Why would you think that?” Rose asked.

“You were crying.”

She chewed her lip, trying to figure out a delicate way of telling the Doctor without going into too much detail. She must have taken too long to respond because his eyes widened and he grasped her shoulders. “He hurt you, didn’t he?”

She shook her head. “No! No, he never hurt me.”

“Then why were you crying?”

“I don’t know. It was a good memory.”

“A good memory wouldn’t make you cry.”

“Tears of happiness, I guess.”

“And what did he do that made you so happy?”

Rose felt her cheeks burn with the furious blush that was forming and she looked down at her boots.

“Rose?” he queried. He was not going to let this drop.

She looked up at him and practically spat out the words, “We had just made love and he told me that he would give up travelling every time if it meant that he got to be with me. And then I asked him how long he was going to stay with me and he said forever.  I was crying because the love I felt from him was so powerful and overwhelming.”

She saw tears spring to his eyes before he instantly schooled his features and stood up straighter. She happened to glance over at River who was frowning at the Doctor. Had he ever shown her such undulated love and affection? Rose was guessing not by the look of consternation of River’s face.

Now when the Doctor (especially in this regeneration) was hurt he tended to hurt the other person right back. He was also quite reckless and selfish in this regeneration.

“I’m sorry, Doctor,” Rose said softly. “You wanted to know and I really didn’t want to tell you. I knew it would hurt you.”

The Doctor didn’t move but the icy look in his eye was enough to make Rose step back. “Oh no, Rose Tyler,” he said, his voice deadly soft. “You didn’t hurt me at all. Of course you should be deliriously happy with him. So deliriously happy in fact that you left, just swanned off and left him to come and find me.”

Rose shook her head in denial. How could she leave someone willingly that she felt such love for?

The Doctor ignored her silent denial and continued scathingly. “You see, you are Bad Wolf. You made the decision to leave him and breach the walls of the parallel word, which could have been catastrophic. That was very selfish of you! All to come and find me and turn my life upside down?”

He was pacing now, his arms waving animatedly around. Rose was so shocked by the venom of his words that all she could do was gape at him.

“So what happened, hmmm? Did you grow bored of him? Was he too human? Once you realised that you still had the power of Bad Wolf did you decide to find yourself a full Time Lord?”

He marched over to her, his eyes narrowed and leaned his face right in front of her own. “You profess that you two are so in love, so happy. So why leave, hmmm? Is your love that cheap?”

The resounding slap echoed all around the console room. The Doctor stumbled back with the force of the slap and clutched at his burning cheek. Rose had pure fury in her hazel eyes and she started stalking towards him, emanating power. Suddenly she started to glow golden and the Doctor’s eyes widened.

“Don’t you dare make such accusations of me! I might not remember everything, but I do remember how that love felt and it was not cheap! He may be human but he has proven in only two little memories that he is so much more than you. You who are a full Time Lord. You know nothing about love!” Her voice was rising into a shout, tears streaking her cheeks, and the golden light shining brighter. But she didn’t seem to notice. She was focusing all her rage on the Doctor.

“If I didn’t hate you then, I sure hate you now. You were supposed to help me, but I can see now that you will be no help.” With that the room exploded in golden light and the Doctor fell to the ground, shielding his eyes from the intensity of the light. When the light receded the Doctor opened his eyes and looked around. Rose was gone.

“No,” he screamed in such a guttural cry, falling to his knees and clutching his hair in his hands.

Amy was instantly by his side. “Doctor! What happened?”

“She’s gone,” he choked, the sobs threatening to spill out of him. “She’s gone and t’s all my fault. I was trying to get a reaction, a strong emotion out of her, thinking that it would help unlock her memories. Instead she’s gone and now most probably hates me.”

“That was all a tactic?” Rory asked incredulously. “Didn’t seem like a very good tactic to me.”

“Strong emotions can either lock or unlock memories. It’s all part of the minds coping mechanism. It was logical for the Doctor to use that tactic, but I think there was too much…emotion and truth behind his words,” River lectured.

“You think?” Amy retorted sarcastically, rubbing the Doctors back in soothing circles while he wept.

River silently studied the broken Doctor. “I can try and trace her energy signature and see where she went to.”

The Doctor suddenly bolted up and bounded to the monitor with a purpose. He hastily wiped his face and furiously typed on the keyboard. After a few minutes, he slammed his fist down on the console, cursing. “Can’t find anything in all of time and space. And she has quite a unique energy signature. It should have been easy to trace her.”

“Unless she went back to the parallel world?” River offered.

He nodded in affirmation. “Yes, quite possible.”

“Or…” River continued.

The Doctor raised an eyebrow at her. “Or?”

“She went inside a time lock.”

The Doctor froze. “Impossible. Nothing can penetrate a time lock. Not even a Tardis.”

“Yet she breached the walls of the parallel world without even causing a pinprick. I think with the power of Bad Wolf she would have no trouble entering a time lock. She obviously needs your help but felt that this you wasn’t up to task and decided to find another you.”

“Oh, that’s not good. Not good at all.”

“Why? Why is that not good?” Rory asked.

The Doctor slowly turned to him, deathly pale. “Because, Rory, she is going into The Time War.”

Chapter Text

Rose groaned and struggled to sit up, clutching feebly at her head. “Blimey, my head is killing me.”

No sooner had the words left her mouth than she was assaulted with a deluge of memories. Memories of her childhood and her mother and Mickey. Memories of her past. Memories of meeting the Doctor when he was all leather and ears and memories of when he had fantastic hair and puppy dog brown eyes. Memories of Canary Wharf and the stars going out and building the dimension cannon. Memories of her brother Tony being born and memories of travelling to so many different and dangerous places to find the Doctor. Memories of finally finding him and standing next to him and the Tardis reappearing and the metacrisis running out. Memories of defeating the Daleks and the Doctor returning them home to the parallel world, leaving her with his metacrisis. Memories of that passionate kiss they shared on that beach.

But nothing after that, save for those two snippet of memories she had previously of him. Why remember everything else, but nothing of her life with the metacrisis?

She groaned at the assault of memories and frustration of how incomplete her memories were.

“Why can’t I bloody remember?” she ground out in frustration?

An eerie silence greeted her. Odd. Where was the Doctor and why wasn’t he still shouting at her? Had something happened? She couldn’t remember anything after the slap. She slowly lifted her head and gaped wordlessly. The console room, the Tardis, looked totally different. Almost Goth-like different. The centre console, the heart of the Tardis, was surrounded by six metal beams that rose up and met in the centre, forming a strange dome. The heart gave off a blue hue, almost being the only source of light in the gloom. From where she was sitting she could make out a bookcase that made up the length of the wall, each shelf crammed with books. There were a few towering candle stands with every candle lit. This was not the Tardis that she remembered.

She groaned as she achingly rose to her feet, grabbing the edge of the console for support. The blue light from the centre column brightened momentarily, almost in a greeting and she felt the Tardis hum lovingly in her head. She closed her eyes and smiled softly. The Tardis truly was magnificent. She knew that she was sentient and intelligent and had a mischievous streak, like when she blasted Rose with icy cold water in the shower, making her shriek like a little girl, or when she hid the Doctor’s bananas. But she always let Rose know that she was welcomed and on some level, loved by her. Maybe not so much with the big things, but if Rose needed something, she would almost find it immediately supplied in plain sight. But more it was the way she hummed in her mind, almost affectionately.

“Hello, Beautiful. What happened to you, then?” she sighed.

She felt something akin to a chuckle and an eye roll, almost like she was missing something obvious. Yes, she was definitely missing something obvious, but her head just felt too heavy and exhausted to think.

“Doctor! Where the bloody hell are ya? You’ve got some explaining to do!” she hollered. When all else fails, call the Doctor.

“Right behind you,” a velvet voice responded from behind her.

She whirled around and had to grab the edge of the console to support herself at the sight of the Doctor. He wasn’t tall, yet his posture gave him the illusion of being tall. He wore a buttoned up vest which was covered by a dark green jacket that looked well-worn and hung down to his knees. The jacket wasn’t buttoned up and white shirt cuffs peeked from the sleeves of his jacket. He wore brown pants and worn brown boots that laced up to his knees. And to compliment the outfit, he wore a navy cravat tied loosely around his neck. On anyone else the whole attire would have been ludicrous, but he pulled it off with such confidence that she felt herself appreciating his clothing choice and how good it looked on him.

But then she took in his face. He looked to be late thirties, early forties. His chestnut hair was neither long nor short, but looked messy and unkempt. His eyes were pale blue, almost blue grey. And they looked so tired. In fact his whole face looked weathered, down to the slight scruff on his handsome face.

He stood tall and assured of himself, legs slightly apart. He held his sonic loosely in his right hand. He looked almost casual, but she knew he was waiting for her to make the first move. Should she decide to attack, he would be ready.

She licked her suddenly dry lips, unsure how to proceed. She had no doubt that this was the Doctor. His face told his infinite age and intelligence. And who else would dress like that? But she had to ask anyway. “You’re the Doctor?”

“I think we’ve already established that,” he said briskly, not moving a muscle and not taking his eyes off her. Why was he acting so weary of her?

Her mind raced. He didn’t seem to recognise her. If he did, he certainly wouldn’t be wary of her.

“What regeneration are you?” she asked nervously.

“I beg your pardon?” he asked in surprise.

“Um, I mean, what number in your regeneration are you in right now?”

He blinked, weighing whether it would be best to answer her. “Eight.”

She blinked a few times trying to dispel the panic suddenly threatening to spill out of her. “Oh, this is not good. You have to take me back now before we cause a paradox from me meeting your past self.” She felt her chest heaving, her panic overwhelming her. Were the Reapers coming?

“You can’t.” At the look of disbelief, he hurriedly elaborated, “You can’t go back, I mean.”

She almost shrieked. “What do you mean I can’t go back? You’re a Time Lord, superior biology and intelligence and all. You should know better than any else what a paradox can do and I don’t fancy having another go with the Reapers. Take me back now!”

“I wholeheartedly agree that you should not be here,” he said calmly, “but I’m telling the truth. You can’t go back. We’re in a time lock. Nothing can enter or leave this time lock, not even a Tardis.”

“A time what?”

“A time lock,” he repeated slowly. “Sanctioned by the President of Gallifrey so that this blasted war will not affect past or future.”

She held up her hand to silence him and thankfully he stopped. “War?”

He nodded his eyes studying her every reaction.

The Time War,” she elaborated. He nodded in affirmation again. She felt her body go numb as she slowly slid down to the floor. This was definitely not good. She cursed and thunked her head against the edge of the console, barely registering the pain. She looked up slowly to where he stood. He was still guardedly watching her. She swallowed hard. “You said nothing could enter or leave the time lock. Then how did I get here?”

“I was hoping you could tell me,” he murmured.

She clenched her fists and resisted the urge to scream. “I don’t know. The last thing I remember is you, well future you, and I were fighting and I slapped you and then I woke up here.”

“So you’re a future companion?”

“Yes. Well, not anymore. It’s complicated.”

“I’ll just bet it is. You make it a habit of slapping me?” he asked, raising one eyebrow in question.

She huffed in humor and replied, “No, but my mother does.”

He gaped. “Your mother? Your mother slapped me?”

She openly smirked at the memory. “Well, you deserved it. You bought me home twelve months late instead of twelve hours. She thought you were some dirty old man taking advantage of me.”

He stared long and hard at her. Finally he pocketed his sonic screwdriver and walked gracefully towards her, extending his hand to help her to her feet. He kept his hold on her hand and said, “I wager that you have one very interesting story to tell me, but how about we talk over a cup of tea, Miss…”

“Rose. Rose Tyler,” she breathed out, completely mesmerised by his eyes.

He tilted his head and studied her. “Yes, there’s an echo of your name. Definitely a friend and not someone dangerous as I first thought.”

“Wait, why would you think I’m dangerous?”

He looked at her incredulously. “You really don’t know, do you?”

She shook her head.

He huffed and ran a hand through his hair, his fingers snagging in the tangles. He winced and carefully removed his hand. “You exploded in here in a bright golden light with enough force to knock me over. When the light vanished you were lying unconscious on the floor. Anything that can penetrate the time lock as well as my Tardis is generally not a good thing, dangerous even. I had to be cautious.”

She frowned. “That’s what your future self said. That I entered his Tardis in an explosion of golden light.”

He scratched thoughtfully at the scruff on his cheek. “Well, Miss Tyler. We have a lot to discuss. But first things first, let me get cleaned up and then I’ll meet you in the library and we can talk over a good cup of tea.”

She looked him up and down. She hadn’t noticed the caked dirt and blood on his clothes. And no wonder his hair was such a mess. Still didn’t distract from how handsome he was. But fighting in the war had taken its toll on him and his face was showing the weariness of fighting one of the greatest battles in all of time and space. Did he have any inkling of what this war would cost him and what it was going to do to him? Her heart ached, knowing that he was going to have to live with the burden of doing what he had to do to end it.

She chewed her bottom lip. “Call me Rose. But Doctor?”

“Yes?” he asked softly, noticing her shift in mood.

“My being here is causing a paradox, me being from your future and all. Aren’t you in the least bit worried?”

He smiled, a twinkle in his eye. “Let’s just say, Rose, that I’ve had a few run ins with some of my incarnations. Occupational hazard of mine. I can forget in order to preserve timelines and the memory will come back to me when it is safe to do so. Later on I’ll have to forget you, so that we do not cause a paradox.”

She nodded, assured by his words. He placed his hands gently on her shoulders and waited until she looked up at him. “Trust me. I’m the Doctor,” he joked, a twinkle in his eye.

Rose rolled her eyes. “That was so corny on so many levels, Doctor.” But she grinned back at him, her tongue peeking out from the side of her mouth. His eyes darted down to her mouth and then back up to her eyes and he was suddenly struck with how easily he could get lost in those whiskey colored eyes. He cleared his throat and stepped back hastily.

“Right then,” he said, pointing his thumb over his shoulder, “I’ll just be…”

She nodded hastily. “Yeah…um…yeah. I’ll meet you in the library.”

They went their separate ways, each lost in their own thoughts.

 

The Doctor stared at himself in the bathroom mirror, hair clippers clutched in his right hand. He was freshly showered and cleanly shaven and wore his usual attire that was now clean (courtesy of the Tardis). He switched on the clippers and went about the task of trimming his hair down to a more manageable length, his thoughts resolutely on the mysterious Rose. She had given him quite the shock when she had spectacularly exploded into his Tardis, and then his Tardis openly welcomed her like a long lost beloved child. The Tardis wasn’t openly affectionate with his companions. Oh, there were some she liked and some she did not, but to make direct communication with one was unheard of. And the more he thought back to his earlier conversation with her the more questions he had. He was still trying to get over the fact that someone’s mother had slapped him!

Finished with his task he appraised his appearance in the mirror, satisfied that he looked suitable. He looked tired. It had been a hard day. Not dangerous compared to others, but he was desperately in need of some sleep. It had been a while. But first things first. He wanted some answers from the mysterious Rose.

He made his way to the library and found Rose curled up in the corner of the couch, sipping from a mug of tea. A tray of cookies lay on the side table by the couch. Hmm, the Tardis was even feeding her. Sometimes she didn’t even do that for him. She looked up at him and smiled, a sweet smile, but not the full grin she had done earlier. He must have interrupted her from an internal musing. He smiled back at her and went over to sit on the opposite end of the couch. A cup a tea appeared on the end table by his side of the couch and he mentally thanked the Tardis, taking a grateful sip of the warm beverage.

“Penny for your thoughts?” he queried, placing his cup down and clasping his hands loosely on his lap.

“Oh, this, that and everything,” she replied vaguely.

He nodded. “OK. Well, I have a few questions, if you don’t mind, Rose?”

“I thought you might. Though, I gotta say, this is the most polite way you have ever asked.”

He quirked an eyebrow. “Rude much in my future?”

She scoffed. “You have no idea.”

He grinned. “I’ve been rude in every regeneration. I just so happen to be more…refined at it in this one.”

“Yeah, you are. So where did you want to start?”

“Weeelll,” he drawled out, “the most pressing question I have is your mother slapped me?” his voice rose in the end, indicating how incredulous he was about that notion.

Rose threw her head back and laughed. He grinned at the sight, liking how her laughter sounded to his ears. She calmed down and nodded. “Yeah, you wouldn’t stop whining about it for weeks after.”

“I do not whine!” he protested in mock affront, which made Rose snort. He grinned and winked at her, which interestingly made her blush.

“Well, jokes aside, how about you tell me the full story and I’ll ask questions afterwards? Does that sound alright?”

“Yeah, but are you sure you can forget everything I tell you? I caused a paradox once and I’m petrified to do that again.”

He reached over and entwined his hand with hers. “I promise that we will not cause a paradox.”

She grasped his hand tighter and gave him a nervous smile. “Well then. Here goes. You and I met when I was working as a shop girl. You saved me from an Autron attack in the basement where I worked. Told me to go home and forget about you. Then you proceeded to blow up my work.” The Doctor grinned at her words, a mischievous twinkle in his eyes. “Anyway, I went home and you showed up the next day. Long story short, we stopped the Autron invasion and you asked me to come and travel with you. I turned you down and regretted it immediately after you left. But you came right back and I ran right to you. We went on a few trips and then you took me back home to see my mum. Told me that we had only been gone twelve hours, but you bought me home twelve months later. You really are a terrible driver, you know that?” she asked, shooting him a playful glare.

“I’ve been told once or twice. Or maybe more than that. Doesn’t matter. Carry on,” he said abashedly.

She grinned, her tongue sticking out of the corner of her mouth and he found his eyes once again drawn to her lips. He quickly cleared his throat and took a sip of his tea. “Anyways, that’s when my mother slapped you. So we travelled together for a bit and met an ex Time Agent, Captain Jack Harkness,” she continued, a little breathlessly. The Doctor found himself inexplicably jealous of this Captain Jack. Strange, must be an echo from his future. “He joined us and I think it was about a year after we first me, though it’s hard to keep track of time travelling with you, that we ended up on the Gamestation. Turned out to be Daleks.”

He visibly flinched. Those blasted creatures. They were the cause of so much strife he had suffered. But he kept his curses to himself and let her continue.

“You sent me back home in the Tardis, but I managed to open her console and I looked into the heart of the Tardis. Don’t remember anything after that, but I woke up and you told me that you absorbed the Vortex out of me and then you regenerated right in front of me.” She slapped him on the arm and said sternly, “Next time, warn a girl before you do something like that!”

He rubbed the back of his neck, a gesture that was so familiar that it made her heart ache, and looked sheepish. “Sounds like I turn into quite the idiot when I get older.”

“Nah, you’re brilliant. Wouldn’t have you any other way. It keeps things interesting,” she said winking at him.

He preened at that, looking quite smug. “Anyways,” she continued becoming serious, “you later told me that I came back with the Vortex coursing through me and became Bad Wolf. I destroyed the Daleks…but I can’t remember any of that. But by absorbing the Vortex yourself and causing yourself to regenerate, you developed regeneration sickness. We came back to my home Christmas day and you went into a healing coma. It was then that the Sycorax decided to invade, using blood control and they transported the Tardis, the Prime Minister and her assistant, Mickey and myself onto their ship.”

“Mickey?”

“He was my boyfriend back then.”

“And he was OK with you travelling with me?”

“Not really. We had started drifting apart and I guess it was over between us long before the Sycorax incident. We remained good friends. So here I was trying to be all intimidating and telling them to leave Earth alone, but I was so scared. And then you waltzed out the Tardis and had a duel with the chief in which you got your hand lobbed off and grew it back again. Still freaks me out when I think about it.”

The Doctor smirked. “Yes, I imagine it would.”

Rose rolled her eyes. “Yes, you’re just like a worm, growing parts back and all.”

“Now you’re comparing me, a superior Timelord, to a worm?”

“Maybe,” she teased.

He sniffed. “Of all the analogies you could have come up with, you picked a worm to compare me to.”

“Well I have to knock your ego down every once in a while. You think you’re so impressive.”

“I am so impressive,” he retorted.

She grinned. “Yeah, that’s what you used to always tell me, back when you were all leather and ears.”

“Leather?” he groaned.

She chuckled. “Don’t worry. It looked very good on you. Even this outfit looks good on you.”

He looked down at his attire. “What’s wrong with what I’m wearing?”

“Oh, nothing. On anyone else it would look silly, but you pull it off quite nicely. You look quite striking.” Her eyes softened as she assured him.

He looked down and realised that he was rubbing his thumb in slow circular motions on the back of her hand. And more peculiar was that she didn’t even seem to notice or mind, as though this was a common occurrence for them. Well, for her. Certainly not for him. He tended to avoid getting too close with companions. It would only lead to heartache later on down the road. What was his future self thinking? Though, he could see how captivating Rose was. He was drawn to her like a moth to a flame.

To dispel the sudden revelation he said, “Why, Miss Tyler, I do believe that you have bestowed unto me a compliment.”
She snorted in a very unlady like fashion. “God, you sound so posh.”

He winked at her but decided to keep on topic. “So what happened next?”
“Well, I guess it was a few months and Mickey was travelling with us and we ended up in a parallel universe, one where my dad was alive and very successful and I didn’t exist. We stopped a Cybermen invasion but not after they had killed my parallel mom. Mickey decided to stay behind and fight the stragglers in place of his parallel self, Rickey. So a few months later we went to visit my mom…”

“I still took you to visit her after she slapped me?”

“Yes. Now stop interrupting,” she chided playfully.

“Fine. I’ll leave the questions for after you have told me your tale.”

“Thank-you. So we went to visit my mom and she told me that she wanted me to meet someone, my grandfather, who had died a couple years ago. We saw his ghost and well, that didn’t sit well with you. You went to investigate and traced the signal back to Torchwood, who were opening the rift and letting in the ghosts. So absorbed you were you didn’t realise that my mother was in the Tardis until after we had materialised at Torchwood. So you pretended that she was me while I hid away in the Tardis, while the personnel at Torchwood carted the Tardis to another location. I snuck out and found myself in a room with this orb thingy. Felt so wrong, it did. And that’s when I met Mickey there. He had come over from the parallel world from Torchwood, which was now being run by my parallel dad.

“The orb turned out to be Daleks, and the ghosts were Cybermen. The Daleks had this container thingy, which was Time Lord technology and held millions of Daleks. Mickey accidently touched it and it opened, releasing all those Daleks. So the Daleks and Cybermen started fighting and you came up with a plan to suck them all back into the void. We all met up and my parallel dad was there as well and anyway, he and my mom made out, which was great but not so great at the same time. You decided that we should all teleport back to the parallel world so that we wouldn’t get sucked into the Void. You tricked me and sent me back with everyone, but I pushed the teleport and came back. You lectured me and everything but then we got to work and we put these clamps on the wall and after we opened the rift we held onto the clamps so we wouldn’t get sucked in. It was working, but then my lever started lowering, so I let go of the clamp and pushed the lever back. I tried to hold on, but I could feel myself losing my grip. Just as the last Dalek was sucked in I couldn’t hold on any longer. But before I got sucked into the Void, my dad appeared and grabbed me ad teleported us back to the parallel world. The rift was closed and there was no way of getting back to you.

“Three months later you somehow sent me a telepathic message in my sleep and so my mom, dad, Mickey and I travelled all the way to Norway to a beach called Dalig Ulv Stranden, which translates to…”

“Bad Wolf Bay,” the Doctor finished.

Rose smiled sadly at him and nodded. He squeezed her hand and waited for her to continue. “You were orbiting around a supernova, burning up a sun just to say goodbye to me. That’s when I told you that I loved you.”

A tear trailed down her cheek and the Doctor held his breath. This is what he had feared. But at the same time he wanted to stop her hurt, to comfort her. He shifted a bit closer and pulled her to him, cradling his arm around her and resting his chin on the top of her head. She sighed, but it was full of sadness, not contentment.

“Before you could say anything the connection was lost. Three years passed and I worked for Torchwood all that time. Anything to keep busy and keep my mind off of you. Not as easy as it sounds. Then we started noticing the stars disappearing. We built a dimension cannon, trying to find a way back to you to warn you. I travelled to countless worlds, seen things that were horrifying and things so beautiful. Eventually we came up with the idea of using my Tardis key to hone in on your location. And it worked. But something had gone wrong with the timeline, and it all centered on your companion, Donna. Someone had messed with her timeline, changing one little decision so that she wouldn’t end up meeting you and saving you. I had to go in and tell her she had to die. I felt so bad, but she did it and it worked out. She saved you. She was the most important woman in the world. So I landed on Earth, and it had been taken along with twenty six other planets. It was the Daleks. I eventually found you, but just as you were running towards me, you were shot by a Dalek. Captain Jack showed up and destroyed the Dalek. We dragged you back into the Tardis and you started regenerating. But before you fully regenerated, you blasted all that energy into a jar that held your hand that had been chopped off by the Sycorax. I later found out that Jack had found your hand and used it to track you down and you had kept it on the Tardis ever since.

“So the Daleks teleported the Tardis onto their ship and told us all to get out. But before Donna could get out the doors to the Tardis slammed shut and the Daleks dropped her and the Tardis into the incinerator. To cut a long story short, Donna touched the jar with the hand, causing an…”

“Instantaneous biological metacrisis,” he interrupted, ignoring his earlier promise not to interrupt.

She nodded. “Yeah. But it went both ways. Donna now had the consciousness of Time Lord. With her, you and the metacrisis, you three managed to stop the Daleks and return the other planets. We returned Earth back to its proper time and place and you dropped everyone off at their home. And then you took me and my mum, who followed me, and the metacrisis back at Norway on that bloody beach back in the parallel world. I wasn’t too happy about that decision. I was expecting to return to you and travel again with you. And then you wanted to leave me with the metacrisis. But Donna told me that he had one heart and was human. The metacrisis said that he had all the memories and thoughts of you, but he wouldn’t regenerate. He would grow old with me, if I wanted. So I asked both of you what was the last thing you said to me on that beach and how that sentence was going to end. You thought it didn’t need saying. The metacrisis was the one who whispered in my ear that he loved me and then I kissed him. Because I saw that he meant every word and I could see the love in his eyes. I knew that he was you in every sense. Same thoughts, same memories. Just human. And you left without saying goodbye.”

She stopped, gathering her thoughts. It was true. She had seen and felt the love from the metacrisis. She just wished she knew how their story had developed? She gently pushed herself away from the Doctor and wiped away the tears on her cheeks. Her heart suddenly felt so heavy and ached to feel that love that she had experienced with the metacrisis.

“Rose?” the Doctor asked gently.

She looked up at him and he was floored by the raw grief in her eyes.

“What happened?”

She sighed, hanging her head. “I don’t know.”

“Did you leave him?”

Her head shot up and she glared at him. “Don’t think I’m petty, Doctor. The thing is, I can’t remember. A few hours ago, I awoke in the Tardis and met a future you and I had no memory of anything. I didn’t even know my name. Over the course of those few hours I had two flashbacks of the metacrisis and myself. And in those two flashbacks, I felt so much love between him and me. So no, I don’t think I left him. When I told you about the last flashback, you started saying some really horrible things to me and I got so angry and slapped you and then I woke up here. And then all my memories came back except the ones of the metacrisis.” She stopped and felt herself deflate of all anger.

The Doctor was silent, sitting absolutely still. She was so adamant that she loved the metacrisis and that he loved her back.

“Did I love you, Rose?”

She shrugged, still refusing to look at him. “Don’t know. You never said and we never crossed that line.”

“Well, I must have. Because the metacrisis had my thoughts and feelings and he loved you so much.”

She stared at the floor for a moment. She eventually nodded at his words. “But just to clarify,” he continued, “Are you expecting you and I…”

She frowned at him until it dawned on her what he was referring to and shook her head. “No, Doctor, I don’t expect anything from you. I don’t even know why I’m here, but all I want is to get back to him.” she smiled sadly. “I don’t even know if he gave himself a name or if I still continued to call him Doctor.”

He should have felt relieved at her assurance, but oddly he felt unsettled. “Right then. That was quite the story. So did future me run any tests on you?”

She nodded. “He said everything was normal. Completely human. The he tried to look in my mind and all we got was Bad Wolf, which makes sense now.”

He drummed his fingers on the arm of the couch, thoughts flying through his head. “How long after you appeared did he run the tests?”

“Dunno. About thirty minutes.”

“And are you certain you came from the parallel world?”

“I think so.”

“And after I absorbed the Vortex out of you, did I run any tests on you?”

She shook her head. “No. With the regeneration sickness and the Sycorax I don’t think it really occurred to you.”

“Hmm, I really do turn into an idiot.”
Rose shot him a look but he was too busy staring at the ceiling, thoughts buzzing away in his head.

“Right!” he exclaimed, jumping to his feet and pacing in front of the couch. “Now this is purely speculative and is just a theory, but it is plausible. Well, slightly plausible. No, maybe not.”

“Doctor, just spit it out!” Rose huffed.

“Yes, yes. Well, if I had to wager a guess, a tiny particle of the Vortex remained in you slowly evolving over the years, so slowly that no one noticed, not even me. But now the power of Bad Wolf has become one with you and is fully evolved. So the question is, how long has it taken to manifest? We have no idea how long you were in the parallel world, so we can’t get an answer there. But by looking at you I would wager that you’re about twenty-seven, twenty-eight?”

Rose just shrugged. He carried on without looking at her. “Something like that takes a long time to fully evolve. So what sped it up? We won’t know until we get your memories back. Hmm. So my theory is that with Bad Wolf you managed to teleport yourself from the parallel world and that takes an exorbitant amount of energy. So when you appeared in my future, you were basically depleted of power, that’s why my tests didn’t notice it. But it was a few hours later and those energy stores were fully replenished and you managed to teleport here.”

“So why block my memories?”

He stopped and turned to face her. “I don’t know. And why bring you to me in this time? Or future me?”

“Yeah, that was awkward.”

“How so?”

She hesitated. “Your wife was there and saw…” she trailed off.

“Wife! I’ve become so domesticated. The tragedy. Wait! What did she see?”

Rose blushed crimson and pulled her knees to her chest, wrapping her arms protectively around them. “She saw us kissing,” she murmured, keeping her eyes downcast.

The Doctor gaped. Then he snapped his mouth shut. It would make sense that if he loved her as much as he thought he did that this kind of thing would happen. “But you had no memory of who I was.”

“I know,” she muttered.

“Then why?”

She looked up at him and met his eye. “I don’t know. It felt so natural. You felt so safe and it was like instinct.”

“So subconsciously you recognised me.”

“I guess so.”

“And this me?” he queried.

“Yes and no. you’re still the Doctor, regardless of which face you wear. But I guess with this you there’s no shared history. No familiarity.”

“So there’s no risk of you kissing me?” he asked cautiously.

She arched an eyebrow questioningly. Then she grinned, a twinkle in her eye. “Only if you ask nicely.” She expected him to squirm and make some excuse and run away.

“How nicely?” he asked, his voice suddenly low and husky.

She gaped at his bold flirtation. Then she laughed out loud. “God, Doctor. I didn’t realise you were such a flirt! Though your tenth incarnation was pretty good at it, but this you is quite the pro.”

He grinned and winked at her. This made her feel a bit confused. Had he just been playing with her or had he really been flirting? She shook her head. No use thinking about it. The Doctor was never one to cross that line.

“So you want to run some more tests then?”

“I think we should wait until after a good night’s sleep. By then the Vortex energy in you should have replenished and we should get a good reading.”

“Yeah, I think sleep sounds like a great idea. I’m knackered.”

“Yes, sleep does sound good. It has been a long and eventful day.”

“Yeah, I was wondering about that. Your clothes were full of dirt and mud and quite frankly, you looked like hell.”

“I’m stuck in the middle of a war, Rose. Looking like hell comes with the territory.”

“How bad is it?” she asked softly.

“Bad,” he replied, his face suddenly looking wearier as memories washed over him.

She stood and walked to him, enveloping him in a hug. He hesitated for a second and then returned her hug, resting his cheek on the top of her head and closing his eyes, enjoying the rare comfort he was being given.

“I’m so sorry, Doctor. I know how hard and bad this war is.”

“Just promise me one thing?”

“What?” she asked pulling back, but still holding on to him so she could look into his eyes.

“Don’t tell me how it ends.” His eyes were deep pools of suffering.

“I won’t, though you never went into detail about the war.”

He stroked her hair thoughtfully. “It’s the worst experience I have ever encountered and I don’t think it’s going to get any better. But you are proof that I have a future, so there is some comfort in that. I’ll get you back, Rose. I’ll figure out a way,” he said softly.

“I know you will. I have faith in you,” she replied equally softly.

His hand trailed down to stroke her cheek and she closed her eyes against his touch. He should stop now. He shouldn’t even be entertaining the idea of kissing her. But he had been in the war for a few years now, on the sidelines, refusing to participate but trying to give help where needed. And he felt all alone and in this moment of madness he selfishly wanted to take the comfort he knew she would willingly give.

He stepped back slowly and said in a slightly strained voice, “Good night, Rose.”

She blinked her eyes open, looking a bit confused and maybe a bit hurt. But she nodded once and replied, “Good night, Doctor.”

He watched as she walked to the library doors and opened a door. She turned and looked back at him. “Oh, Doctor?”

“Yes, Rose?” he asked.

“There’s no night on the Tardis,” she sang, grinning cheekily at him before closing the door behind her. He grinned at her parting remark. The mysterious Rose certainly was enchanting, he thought as he made his way to his room to get some much needed sleep.

Chapter Text

After four hours the Doctor awoke from his deep slumber. Four hours was a long time for him to sleep, though it had been a few weeks since he last had any shuteye. His thoughts instantly turned to Rose as he lay in his bed. There were still so many questions, so many conundrums, where she was concerned. He couldn’t deny that he was utterly fascinated and captivated by her. And also afraid. Not scared by what she could physically do to him, though if the power of Bad Wolf was any indication, she was very, very dangerous. No, it was the fact that his future self would lose his hearts to her. And if he was being truthful, he could already feel that pull, that attraction to her. He knew he would have to keep his distance, keep his guard and walls up, when he was around her. Though he knew that too was pointless.

He gracefully climbed out of bed and dressed in his usual attire. He didn’t bother checking his appearance in the mirror before he made his way to the galley to make himself a cup of tea and maybe something to eat. He was wagering that it would be a few hours before Rose woke up, if she was like any normal human woman. But was she? He stopped at that thought. By what she had told him so far, the answer was not entirely. But she had also said that future him had done tests and it was one hundred percent human. He would have to wait to do his own tests. He almost turned to find her door so he could get started, but a firm mental nudge from the Tardis told him that this would not be a good idea. She was probably right.

Instead he went to the galley and made himself a cup of tea and some toast with jam. He took his mug and plate and walked to the console room and sat in his armchair by the bookcase and put his mug and plate on the little table there. He ate quietly and then finished his tea, all the while thoughts churning in his head. He walked to the monitor and checked the readings.  War was still raging. He was still hiding out in the Vortex. And several message from the President, Romana, urging him to help them fight in the war. The answer had always been a resounding ‘No’, but he knew sooner or later he would have to do his part. But he was The Doctor, not a warrior. His namesake was to heal and help, not kill and destroy. But the Daleks were forcing his hand and he knew the time would soon be upon him when he would have to take up arms, so to speak. But not now. Let him have a few more days, even weeks, before he spilled blood on his hands.

He sensed her before he heard her. And it was unsettling, like a brewing caged storm trying to batter its way out of its confinements. Raw, undulated power. A power that he had never before encountered. He felt the hairs on the back of his neck and his arms stand up and he froze. She was powerful. So amazingly powerful that he didn’t know whether to be afraid, very afraid, or in awe. But it was so untamed, like she didn’t have any control over it. And maybe she didn’t. Which in itself was more dangerous than ever. Uncontrolled power could cause more damage and destruction than anyone could ever imagine. How could she not have noticed, or him for that matter, the power growing inside her? Or had it just developed recently? And the key to that question lay in her life in the parallel world, which was buried in the deep abyss of her mind, locked away. Layer upon layer of mystery surround the mysterious Rose. And he loved a good mystery. But he’d have to act normal. He was getting an inkling that strong emotions would uncage the beast. Hopefully he was wrong. Hopefully.

He heard shuffling on the other side and he peered around the rotor to see Rose shuffling in a zombie-like manner, wearing fluffy pink pajamas, from the corridor and she made her way to the galley. He stepped forward to offer her a greeting, but she held up her hand and mumbled, “Tea first then talk.” She disappeared into the galley and he decided to wait. She was obviously not a morning person.

Ten minutes later she made her way to the console, a half empty mug of tea clutched in her hand like a life line. He beamed at her and she returned it with a smile of her own that was stifled by a yawn.

“Not a morning person?”

“You get used to it,” she shrugged, taking another sip.

“I suppose I do. Anything else I should be warned about?” he queried.

She took another sip, thinking. “Yeah, don’t wake me up before I’ve had eight hours sleep. Unless you want the nearest object within my reach to be thrown your way.”

“Noted,” he said dryly.

She giggled. “It’s usually a pillow, so that doesn’t deter you from trying.”

“I stand by what I said earlier.”

“Which was?”

“I become an idiot as I get older.” He grinned, mainly to show that he was joking and she giggled again.

“So breakfast?” he asked, though what he really wanted to do was do those tests. He felt her power buffering at his mental shields. Maybe they should work on her controlling her power first and then do the tests. Strangely, she looked normal outwardly. Very deceiving of what lay underneath. But when he looked into her eyes, he was surprised to see innocence there. She had absolutely no idea.

“You cook?” she asked incredulously.

He blinked at her, momentarily confused by his train of thought. “You mean I don’t know how to cook. I’ve never cooked for you?”

“The first you I travelled with couldn’t even heat up soup from a can. Mostly lived off these weird tasting bars. The other you was all over the place and became constantly distracted that things got burnt. A lot. I think the Tardis took pity on me because she used to have meals waiting for me on days that I was too tired to make anything. Usually I cooked for us.”

“Hmm,” he murmured, trying to ignore the buffering on his mind. He shut his eyes and took deep breathes, fortifying his shields.

He felt her hand touch his arm in concern and he jumped at the contact. His eyes flew open and he looked at her in surprise. Her face was etched with worry.

“What is it?” she asked, her voice slightly high with worry.

“You,” he ground out.

“What?” Worry turned to shock.

He patted her hand reassuringly. “Uh, I would wager that no tests are needed. I think your power has returned in full force.”

“Bad Wolf?”

He nodded. “Can’t you feel it?”

She stopped and thought and finally shook her head. “Nope. I feel normal.”

Very curious. “Well, let’s just say that you’re going to have to learn to get it under control. I know it’s unintentional, but your power is sort of trying to batter its way through my mental shields.”

Her hand flew to her mouth, her eyes growing big. “Oh my God! Am I hurting you? How do I make it stop?”

He patted her hand again, the one still on her arm. “Rose, calm down. No exactly hurting me, but it is giving me a headache.”

She took a deep breath and nodded. “Okay. So how do I control it?”

He grinned manically at her and replied jovially, “No idea, but let’s find out.”

 

They were in her room. She had declined the other rooms on the Tardis because ‘they were too gothic and unfamiliar’. Her words. He tried not to take offence to that, but he was rather fond of the décor.

“Are you still pouting about what I said?” she asked.

“I’m not pouting,” he replied, a bit petulantly.

“Sure you’re not,” she replied, rolling her eyes.

“Rose, Time Lords do not pout. Pouting is for toddlers. I am over nine hundred years old.”

“Nine hundred?”

“Yes?” he queried slowly.

“It’s just, when I first met you, you told me you were over nine hundred years old then.”

He shrugged. “It’s hard to keep track of one’s age when one is so old.”

“Maybe.”

“You don’t believe me?”

“No, it’s not that. Well, yes, I do believe you. But…” she trailed off, worrying at her bottom lip. He felt her power flare and became alarmed. She was experiencing a strong emotion and it was setting off her power.

“But?” he asked cautiously, trying hard not to step back from her.

“Well, I was thinking, that the you I first meet happens not to long after this you. That your regeneration into him is a result from the War.”

Silence filled the room, her words sinking in. So he was right. His time was short. He closed the distance between them and hugged her, stealing comfort as well as giving it. And he was a tiny bit grateful that there was someone who still cared about him, regardless of what regeneration. That in itself was a small measure of comfort.

“Best not to dwell on it, or tell me any more…but I have a feeling that with you in my future, it’s not going to be all too bad.” He pulled away, his hands resting on her shoulders and smiled softly at her. She looked up at him, her eyes watery with unshed tears.

“Better with two,” she said, smiling her own soft smile.

“That it is,” he conceded. Silence stretched, but he couldn’t look away. He was letting her get dangerously close, not in perimeter, but personally close. He couldn’t form attachments. Not now. He clapped his hands and stepped back at the same time. “Right then. Shall we get started? Building blocks with you. So much to do, to figure out and right now the most pressing thing is getting that power under control, for everyone’s sake.”

She blinked and then nodded. She was so used to him rambling, or hurrying around with excess energy, using distraction when they got to close. This was nothing new for her.

He faltered. “Uh, maybe a comfortable spot?”

She smirked and crossed her arms over her chest, inclining her head. “My bed?”

He looked over at her bed, which was unmade and a rumpled mess, almost like she had tossed and turned all night. “Yes, I guess that will work, seeing as you declined all other offers of my ‘gothic’ rooms, which would have served a better purpose.”

“Aw, you still pouting?” she teased.

“I do not pout!”

She grinned, her tongue peeking out from her teeth. “Don’t worry, Doctor. You’re still cute when you pout.”

She walked past him and flopped down on her bed and stretched. He went and fetched her stool from her vanity and came to sit by her head. “So, you think I’m cute?” he asked casually as he sat down.

“Always have,” she replied just as casually, her eyes closed as she snuggled more comfortably on her bed. “I ended up with the human version of you.”

“Yes, about that. I think he’s the key,” he said slowly, trying not to alarm her in any way.

“Yeah,” she sighed. “I think so too.”

He paused. So she had been thinking about it, too, and had come to the same conclusion. If only they could access those memories and reveal those answers. “I’m first going to try and see if I can access those memories of him and then we’ll build some mental shields. And then tests.”

“Sounds fun,” she deadpanned.

He smiled. “Anything you don’t want me to see just imagine a door and I won’t peek.” He lowered his hands and his fingertips and each of her temples, closing his eyes and initiating the telepathic connection.

Her mind was golden, power swirling in golden hues. But it was calm and non-threatening and he felt reassured. Memories swirled around him, memories of his two incarnations that would come after him, memories of her childhood and her mother and The Estate. She hid nothing. She was being a complete and open book for him. He briefly marvelled at the love she held for him, but he forced himself to keep searching. He was on a mission. Slowly the memories receded and a golden glow came up ahead, peeking from the darkness. He followed it eagerly, greedily wanting to open the treasure it held. He finally came to a solid golden orb that was about as tall as he was. It just hovered there in front of him, its surface shiny and solid and seemingly impenetrable. He gingerly lay his palm against the surface. It burnt hot against his hand and he yanked his hand back with a hiss of pain. He could swear that he could hear a growl from within the orb.

He stepped back. There was no opening that set of memories. He was a powerful telepath, but even he doubted that he could break through that barrier. To try and do so would cause great pain and maybe even mentally harm her, and he would not risk that. Well, best to work on those shields.

He painstakingly built and fortified her mental shields, talking to her while he worked on them, letting her know what he was doing. She would be aware of those shields and he guided her on how to fortify them.

Finally he was satisfied with them and pulled himself away, both mentally and physically. Rose slowly opened her eyes and he swore he saw a flash of gold in them.

“Still giving you a headache?” she asked, stiffly sitting up.

“No. you don’t feel like a battering ram anymore. But we will have to work regularly in teaching you how to control your power. Shields are the first step but they would be for nothing if you cannot control it.”

She nodded and stretched again, feeling how stiff her body was. “How long were we here?”

He mentally calculated. “Three hours.”

“Blimey. That long?” she looked at him thoughtfully as he stood to return her stool back to her vanity.

“Can I ask you something, Doctor?”

“Of course,” he replied, turning to look at her.

“You’re a telepath, right. That means that you can communicate mentally, right?”

“By touch or by thought.”

She nodded, having heard the explanation from her previous Doctor. “Is there a chance that I could be telepathic?”

“Try and direct a thought to me, a mental picture,” he commanded, equally curious now. Maybe even a little hopeful.

She closed her eyes and he waited, even fully lowering his shields. She opened her eyes again and looked at him. “Anything?”

He shook her head. “No, though to be honest, I didn’t think so. I would have been bombarded with your thoughts instead of your power.”

“Isn’t it the same thing?” she asked, getting to her feet.

“No. your power was battering at my shields, but not telepathically. It was just overwhelming the power you were exuding. More like an energy force that was coming out in waves and my shields were a brick wall and those waves kept crashing into that wall. Rubbish analogy, but that’s quickest one I could think of.”

“Okay. So how do I work on controlling this power?”

“Trial and error.”

“Encouraging,” she sighed.

He leaned against her vanity, his ankles crossed, and each hand clutching the edge of the vanity. He was staring at the floor with intensity, mentally boring a hole into it.

“Doctor?”

“Hmm?”

“What’s bothering you?” she asked. She still hadn’t left her spot by the bed.

“It just feels like this is a puzzle and we’re gathering the puzzle pieces but we don’t have the complete picture. It’s frustrating and enthralling and has quite piqued my interest.”

“You know, this is the most honest you have ever been with me.”

He looked up at her sharply. “How do you mean?”

She shrugged. “It’s just, whenever something was bothering and I would ask what, you would always say ‘Nothing’ or ‘I’m always alright’. You’re more…open, I guess.”

“And you think I’m being completely honest with you?”

She laughed. “God, no. you wouldn’t be the Doctor if you did. Nah, it’s just the older versions of you tended to bottle things up. Kept your secrets.”

“Talking about secrets,” he said, changing subject, “I noticed that you didn’t have any doors. You showed me everything.”

It was her turn to now look down at the floor. “I guess I just wanted you to know that I wasn’t hiding anything from you.”

“Much appreciated, but I believed you from the start.”

“So then what’s bothering you, besides the obvious of the war, Bad Wolf, memory suppression?” She was now pointedly looking at him.

He swallowed hard. He would not talk about feeling and relationships and commitments with her. Not now. It was a lot for him to take in, him falling in love with her and then losing her. And maybe her expecting something along those lines with him, this him. And that scared him. What scared him more was that on some level, he might actually want that. No, this was not a discussion he was having with her.

He was saved from having to answer her by the loud grumbling of her stomach.

“You haven’t had anything to eat yet, have you? Right, I’ll go whip us up something and you can get dressed and we’ll…uh…go from there.” He quickly exited the room in a flourish, not bothering to look back or wait for her reply.

Rose stared at the door that was now slightly ajar and sighed. Still the same man, deep down inside. Always running from the emotional stuff. But she couldn’t expect anything less from him. Especially this him. She could imagine quite the shock he had from learning about his future and maybe it just felt too domestic.

She decided not to pursue the subject with him. It would only make him more flighty. She made her way to the bathroom and took a quick shower and dressed in jeans and a powder blue V-neck shirt. She decided to wear trainers, those being the most comfortable option. Light make-up and a quick brush to her hair and she decided to go find the Doctor, but most importantly, the food he had promised her. She was starving.

 

She found him in the galley, puttering around and humming to himself. She leaned against the doorway and took in the sight of him. Elegant hands danced around as he fried bacon and eggs and toasted bread. He was a sight of pure elegance and aristocracy. His face was rather handsome and those eyes, those bedroom eyes. Dreamy eyes. Eyes she could get lost in.

He turned and when he saw her standing there he froze, a plate loaded with food in his hand. She was just standing there with a soft smile on her lips and she was just watching him. No, studying him. He felt like he was under scrutiny.

“What?” he asked a bit wearily.

She shook her head softly, soft smile still playing on her lips. “Just memorising this moment. Proof that the Doctor can, indeed, cook.”

He relaxed. Not at all what he was thinking. He placed the plate down on the kitchen table and pulled a chair out for her. She raised an eyebrow, but walked over and allowed him to seat her.

He sat down in a chair opposite her. “Quite the gentleman, you are,” she said before taking a bite of the bacon and closing her eyes, humming in appreciation. “And you can cook. I might just keep you.”

He leaned his elbows on the table, hands clasped in front of him. “Why on Earth did you stay with me if I didn’t treat you like a Lady?”

“Cos I’m not a Lady,” she replied cheekily.

He raised an eyebrow. She sighed and put down her fork. She reached over and laid a hand on his clasped hands. After a pause, he unclasped his hands and entwined a hand with hers.

“You did treat me right, Doctor. You didn’t treat me like a porcelain doll. You didn’t see me as just a plain old shop girl. You made me realise that I was so much more, that I could accomplish anything. You made me see my potential. If that isn’t treating me right, then I don’t know what is.”

He absently started rubbing his thumb across the back of her hand. “But did I ever show you that I loved you?”

“In your own way. And I did feel loved, valued and appreciated.”

He nodded. “Good. Nice to know I’m not a complete idiot.”

She picked up her fork with her free hand and resumed eating. After a few mouthfuls she replied. “No, you’re far from being an idiot. You tried your best and did what you thought was right. Wasn’t always easy. Some days everyone lived and some days…well those days were hard for you. Which brings me to something I’ve wanted to ask you.”

He stayed silent, waiting for her to continue. She took a deep breath. “The War.”

“You can’t tell me anything about it,” he rushed.

“I know. But the thing is, you never went into any details, which I can understand. I only know how it ends. And I made a promise to you not to tell you how it ends, and I intend to keep that promise.”

He frowned. “Okay. So what do you want to know?”

“My being here, isn’t it going to effect the War?”

His thumb halted on her hand. She did raise a valid question.

“Doctor?”

“Hmm.”

“Talk to me,” she softly pleaded.

He ran his free hand over his face. “There are a few, well, maybe two scenarios. The first being that I find a way to return you to your time, forget you and everything resumes the way it is supposed to be.”

“And the other?”

He swallowed hard. “The other being, that you were meant to be part of this War.”

Chapter Text

She blinked a couple of times, his words sinking in. “You mean Bad Wolf?” she asked hoarsely.

He nodded.

“You mean that Bad Wolf orchestrated that I return to you in the Time War and what? Fight?” She laughed bitterly at that thought. “None of this makes sense. I can’t fight. I’d be bloody useless trying to disarm a Dalek.”

“You forget the power you wield now,” he interrupted her rant.

She stopped, her face going pale. She shook her head violently and stood abruptly. “No. No I refuse to fight. I can’t control it. What if I kill innocents? I don’t want blood on my hands. I can’t! I won’t.”

As her voice and panic rose, her body started to shimmer with swirling golden light. The Doctor’s eyes widened. He quickly stood and strode to her, grasping her by the shoulders. “Calm down, Rose. You need to calm down. When you experience strong emotions, you lose control of your power. Look down at your body,” he said in a firm, yet gentle voice.

She looked down and gasped at the golden light shimmering and swirling over her skin. She slowly raised a hand to her face, mesmerized by the light. She swallowed thickly.

“Take deep breathes,” the Doctor instructed. She did as he asked, taking slow, deep and steadying breathes. “Close your eyes and envision a happy, peaceful moment.”

Again, she did as he asked and he marvelled at how beautiful she looked. Absolutely breathtaking. Slowly the light receded into her and finally diminished altogether. She slowly opened her eyes and blinked at him. “Thank-you,” she whispered.

He didn’t consciously think of it, but slowly his hands travelled up until he was cupping her face and he leaned down slowly, brushing his lips against hers. She gasped in surprise, but after a pause, he felt her arms entwined around his neck, her hands snaking their way into his hair, nails scraping against his scalp as she returned his kiss. He groaned at the sensation, and suddenly the kiss deepened. His one hand clutched at the back of her head, angling her head so he could kiss her deeper, his other hand on the small of her back. She groaned and he felt all his restraint snap. He walked her backwards, still kissing her until she bumped into the table. He distantly recalled sweeping the plate off the table, hearing the crash as it shattered on the floor. But none of that mattered. All reasoning had left him. He wanted her with such a ferocity that it should have scared him. But all he could think about was having her, tasting her.

He hoisted her on the table and she wrapped her legs around his waist. He leaned her back until she was lying on the table, neither of them breaking from the kiss. His hand slipped under her shirt, her bare skin searing hot to the touch. His hand moved with confidence up her ribs until he reached her bra. He paused and parted her lips with his tongue seeking entrance. She willingly parted her lips and their tongues danced together, tasting each other. She arched her chest up, encouraging him.

He kissed down her neck as his hand palmed her breast over her bra. “You should tell me to stop,” he murmured between kisses.

“Do you want to stop?” she panted.

He looked up at her. Her blonde hair was dishevelled, her lips bruised, her face flushed. She looked glorious. “No!” he growled and kissed her again fiercely. He felt her tugging at his jacket, desperately trying to get it off him.

He parted from her briefly to shrug it off. It dropped to the floor silently, their pants and gasps the only sounds echoing in the kitchen. He was just about to unbutton his vest and shirt when a ringing in the console room interrupted the moment.

Rose sat up and started unbuttoning his vest. “Ignore it,” she murmured, placing a kiss on his neck as she slipped the vest off, letting it join the jacket on the floor by his feet.

But the ringing just got louder and she sighed, dropping her hands. “Better go answer it.”

He lifted her chin with his fingertips and placed a gentle kiss on her plump lips. He turned swiftly, cursing under his breath. Of all the eons that the phone has never rung, it had to choose this moment to interrupt. But maybe it was just as well. Things would have gotten too far. Dangerously far. He sighed. So much for keeping a respectable distance, keeping the boundaries.

But when he got to the console room he realised that it wasn’t the phone ringing, but an incoming video call on the monitor. He hit the button to accept and a boyish face stared back at him. The Doctor was taken aback. This was clearly a future him. He frowned.

“How are you making this call? I’m in a time lock,” he asked sharply.

“Wibbly-wobbly stuff. Now important question: is Rose Tyler there?” he replied dismissively, his hands waving about as he talked, his emerald green eyes sharp. Then he frowned as he took in the appearance of his younger self. “Aren’t you a bit underdressed?”

The younger Doctor felt a blush forming. Rose chose that moment to walk into the room, smoothing down her hair. But her face was still flushed and her lips still swollen. She walked up to him, a question in her eye and then looked over at the monitor, gasping in surprise when she spotted the older Doctor.

His face became neutral as he took in the sight of her, but his eyes looked furious as he put two and two together.

“Ah,” was all he said.

“Seriously, how are you getting this video call through?” the younger Doctor persisted.

“I told you: Wibbly-wobbly, Timey-Wimey stuff,” he said flippantly. In the background they heard a female voice call out, “Doctor, hurry up. The connection isn’t going to hold long.”

“Right, yes, to the point then,” the younger looking Doctor muttered. Then he pointed a finger warningly at the Doctor standing beside Rose. “You need to keep her safe until I can figure out how to get her out of the time lock. Do you understand? This is a very dangerous time, you have no idea how bad it’s going to get. Keep her safe!” The last sentence came out in a growl.

“I understand full enough the seriousness of the situation and I can guarantee you that I’ll keep her safe...”

“By making kissy faces with her?” the bow tied Doctor interrupted.

“I beg your pardon?”

“Rude,” muttered Rose.

The Doctor on the screen turned his full attention to Rose. “I’m sorry I said those things, Rose. I had to initiate an emotional receptor in order to force an unlock of your memories. I just didn’t expect…you to disappear.” There was sorrow written all over his face, his emerald green eyes pinching with the knowledge that he had hurt her.

“Well it worked. She got them back. Well, most of them anyway,” her current Doctor interrupted.

“Really?”

“All of them except what happened after you dropped me and the human Doctor off on that beach. Those memories are still stubbornly locked,” Rose said.

“But there’s another situation,” the Doctor added.

“Like?” the youthful looking Doctor asked, his almost non-existent brows furrowing together.

“Bad Wolf,” Rose offered.

“It has manifested and as such, is now fully part of her,” the Doctor said.

“Have you run tests?”

“Not yet. We first worked on building shields and she’s starting to learn to control it.”

The green-eyed Doctor looked thoughtful. “We can use that to our advantage. Use that power. Use it to get her out of there.”

“She has very little control over it!” the Doctor said raising his voice. “Getting through the time lock and onto my Tardis depleted almost all of that power. Attempting such a thing, even if she is fully in control, could prove detrimental.”

The younger looking Doctor ran a hand over his face and then straightened his bow tie. The voice called behind him, “Not much more time, Doctor!”

“Okay. Okay. Figure something out. I’ll try as well on my end. After this, I doubt whether I’ll be able to contact you again. But keep her safe. Keep her out of the War. Promise me!” he demanded, his look fierce and his voice urgent as he glared at his younger self.

The Doctor nodded once. “I promise.”

The other Doctor turned to Rose, his face softening. “Rose, my precious Rose. I…” The communication cut off abruptly.

Rose blinked at the now blank screen. She felt numb all over. Unbidden, the memory of that day on the cold windy beach of Norway hit her, chocolate brown eyes looking sorrowfully at her as he started that sentence but never got to finish it.

“Well, that was insightful,” the Doctor mused, rubbing thoughtfully at his chin.

“Which part?” she asked bitterly.

“All of it.”

She turned her head to look at him, waiting for him to add more to that statement, but he was still staring at the now blank monitor, a slight frown etched on his features. It had unsettled him just to see firsthand how raw his feelings for Rose were. His future self was deathly afraid. Outwardly, he had exhibited a certain amount of control, but he could see it in those emerald green eyes. It was like an open wound. He still loved her deeply and the thought of losing her again, like this, was almost killing him. But he was definitely right. They had to find a way to get her out of here. And he knew of only one person who had the power to help him.

But first they had a lot of work to do before they went there. He shuddered at what it would cost him. Everything came at a price and now this was going to be his debt.

He finally pulled himself out of his musings and turned to look at Rose. She had her arms crossed protectively over her stomach and her jaw was clenched. Her eyes held fire, her anger very easy to see. He had a very good guess that her anger was directed at his future self.

“Rose?” he asked softly.

She met his eyes and some of the anger melted. “Sorry, just bought back some unpleasant memories.”

He nodded and decided not to pry further. “If you feel up to it, I thought we could run those tests. I have a plan, though to be honest, it has a slim chance of success.”

“Do you have a plan B?”

“No, but I’m working on it,” he told her honestly.

She nodded. “Yeah, your plans usually never work out…and we usually end up running for our lives.”

“Yes, but that’s what keeps things so interesting. Life would be so dull if everything went according to plan.”

She laughed, a genuine laugh, and he couldn’t help but smile back at her.

They made their way to the med bay after he had collected his vest and jacket from the kitchen, and Rose lay on the examination table without being told. She remained silent as he took blood samples and ran scanners all over her. A small ping sounded letting them know the tests were complete and the Doctor strode over to read the printout on the monitor. He stood absolutely still, tension radiating through him. That was not a good sign. She sat up on the table, her legs swinging back and forth at a leisurely pace, her hands clasped on her lap, waiting for him to tell her the verdict.

Finally she got tired of waiting and asked, “Well?”

He didn’t answer her, but he did turn to face her, running a hand tiredly over his face.

“That bad, huh?”

He flinched slightly. “Depends on how you look at it.”

“Best not to gloss it over, Doctor. Just be straightforward with me, yeah.”

He sucked in a deep breath, steeling himself. “You’re mostly human, though your DNA strand has an additional helix. Here, come to the monitor and I’ll show you.”

She jumped off the bed and walked over to the screen. On it was a DNA strand and woven into strands was a shining golden strand, entwined and fixed into her DNA.

“I’ve never seen genetic material like this before. You are very unique. Mostly human, but something else as well. Now the printout shows fast metabolism, which means that you probably heal fast as well.”

He reached behind him and when he turned he had a scalpel in his hand. She visibly drew back at the sight. “I promise, just a small cut. I want to see if what I’m reading is right.”

She wordlessly offered him her hand, though her heart was hammering in her chest. With a quick flick of his wrist he made a shallow cut on her palm. It was so quick that she barely registered any pain. His thumb stroked reassuringly over her fingers and he leaned down, kissing her with such tenderness. He pulled away and smiled softly. Then he turned away and got some tissues, wiping away the blood. Where there should have been a cut, still bleeding, there was only a small pink scar.

They stared at her palm in silence, Rose feeling her heart hammering in her chest.

“Hmm, you heal even faster than me,” he murmured. He was still looking at her hand clasped in his own. “There was something else the scans showed.”

“Good or bad,” she asked breathlessly. This was too much to take in.

“Again, depends on how you look at it,” he said. They looked up at each other. “You might want to sit down for this,” he said, gesturing to the chair by the exam table.

She reluctantly let go of his hand and went to sit, nervous energy thrumming through her. Her fingers drummed a nervous beat against her knees and she had the sudden impulse to run.

The Doctor sucked in another deep breath, steeling himself. “Your cells are regenerating at impossibly fast rate.”

“Which means?”

He hesitated. “You’re not aging.”

She blinked at him. A sudden buzzing noise echoed in her head, incessant and non-stop. She wanted to be sick. But she forced herself to stay focused. At least her training in parallel Torchwood had taught her to stay focused, but it hadn’t really prepared her for news like this. When she was younger and more naïve, she would have thought that immortality would have been wonderful. But life lessons and her time with the Doctor and taught her that it was a curse. A very horrible curse.

“So I won’t age,” she asked, surprised by how even her voice was. “Does that mean I won’t die?”

“I…uh…I don’t know. And I’m not too keen to test that theory.”

“Did your tests show how old I am?”

“Undetermined. They couldn’t tell. If only we had your memories from the parallel world we would have some answers.”

Suddenly a horrible thought entered her head. “Is that what happened? Did I outlive him? My human Doctor?”

His features saddened, indicating that he thought that this was the likely scenario. “I don’t know, Rose. Only you hold the key to that answer.”

She laughed mirthlessly. “So I have the power of the Vortex running through me, merging with my DNA, making me mostly human but something else entirely. I heal fast and don’t age. Anything else I need to know?”

“Rose, I know this is a lot to process…”

“No, you have no idea!” she was shouting now, tears shimmering in her eyes, threatening to fall. She didn’t want to cry, but she knew it was a losing battle.

“Actually, I do,” he countered quietly.

The tears that were threatening now spilled down her cheeks and she took a trembling breath. “Yeah, I know. The curse of the Time Lords. Sorry, I shouldn’t have taken my anger out on you. It’s just, I never asked for any of this. I only took in the power of the Vortex to save you.”

He strode over to her silently and wrapped his arms around her, resting his chin on the top of her head. She felt herself break and she sobbed. He rubbed his hands up and down her back, letting her cry herself out, not saying a word.

Eventually she quieted and pulled back from him slightly, wiping at her cheeks. He silently handed her a handkerchief from his pocket and she took it gratefully.

“Of course you would carry a handkerchief,” she sniffled, laughing slightly.

“Back to criticizing my wardrobe choice?” he joked.

She shook her head and wiped her eyes and nose.

“I’ll help you, Rose. I promise that I’ll stay by your side and help you through this.”

She suddenly felt drained. “I think I need some sleep. Still a bit human after all.”

“Do you want me to join you?” he asked.

The question hung in the air. They were definitely crossing the line that hadn’t dared be crossed before. This Doctor was certainly more open with his emotions and feeling. She had thought that she had been bought here by accident, but maybe this was the Doctor that she needed all along.

She took his hand in her own and replied, “Please.”

She saw him visibly relax. Maybe he had been scared of her rejecting him. They walked to her room silently and she went to the bathroom to change into pajama shorts and a strappy pajama top. When she came out he was standing by the vanity folding his clothes neatly and placing them on the chair. He was wearing black pajama pants and nothing else. His chest was bare, sparse hair smattering his chest. It was a well-defined chest and back. His muscles were toned. Nothing bulky or very defined, but she had never found big muscles attractive.

He turned to her, standing straight and she could see how nervous he was. She walked to him and hugged him, nuzzling against his bare chest. He visibly relaxed and stroked her hair.

“Thank-you,” she murmured against his chest.

“Anytime,” he whispered back. He pushed her back slightly and cupped her face tenderly. He leaned down and brushed his lips against hers. It was a sweet kiss, one meant to reassure and express love. It didn’t hold any heat or passion, but she didn’t think now was the time for passion. He gave her one last kiss and then gently took her hand, leading her to the bed.

Once they got under the covers, Rose snuggled into him, her back to his front and he wrapped his arm around her waist, spooning her. She heard him sigh contentedly and it wasn’t long before she felt herself drifting off.

Chapter Text

They stood on the sand, the wind whipping at their hair as they watched the Tardis dematerialize. They looked at each other and then back to the spot where the Tardis had once been. The only proof now that the Tardis had been there was a square indentation in the sand.

She looked up at him and he looked down at her, his chocolate brown eyes slightly wary, as though he was waiting for her anger or rejection. She felt her anger dissipate. He was not the one she should be angry with. He didn’t deserve that. He was the Doctor in every way, but human, and he had told her the words that the other could not. He hadn’t asked to be created or dumped in this world without the Tardis. No, he had been abandoned just as much as she had.

She squeezed his hand and smiled up at him, though it was a sad smile. “How long are you gonna stay with me?” she asked.

“Forever,” he replied without hesitation.

Her smile broadened and she watched the apprehension leave him. They would be fine, she was sure of it. They would make this work.

She leaned up, her hands on his shoulders to steady herself and laid a small kiss on his lips. She expected him to freeze, but he kissed her back, pouring his relief and love into that kiss. She felt her own tension leave her and the kiss turned tender as they slowly explored each other. Passion could come later. Right now she was feeling that love igniting between them and her acceptance of this human version of him.

“Oi! I want to get out of the cold and go find a cozy motel somewhere. You two can resume your snogging then,” her mother called from the distance, her cellphone in her hand. “Your Dad is organising a private Zeppelin and driver for the mornin’.”

Rose stepped back from the Doctor, blushing furiously. She glanced up at him and he reached for her hand, the wind ruffling his still gorgeous hair. He smiled down tenderly at her, making her heart skip a beat.

“Ah, good ol’ Jackie. Impeccable timing as always,” he said, a jovial lilt in his voice.

She chuckled and they started walking towards her mom, who had walked up the embankment and was now waiting for them on the side of a very little used road. A fine misty spray was blowing from the beach and by the time they had made it to the small coastal town, all three of them were damp and shivering from the cold. But as uncomfortable as she was, she didn’t let go of his hand and it was with satisfaction that she noticed he didn’t try to pull away either.

Jackie was unusually quiet as they trudged to the entrance of the motel, every now and then muttering about bloody Norway. They booked two rooms, Jackie pointedly taking her key card and throwing a comment over her shoulder as she went to find her room. “You two get some rest. I’ve gotta call your dad. There’s going to be holy war when we get back to London.” But she glanced back and winked, showing that she wasn’t in the least concerned about what Pete would have to say about her up and leaving to follow Rose.

Rose grinned and silently took the key card, leading the Doctor to their room. The room wasn’t bad as far as motel rooms went, though she noted drily that her mother had gotten them a room with one queen bed. If that wasn’t a blunt hint she didn’t know what was.

She heard the door close quietly behind her and her throat went dry. She suddenly felt nervous, even though they had both established that this is what they wanted from each other. He had chosen to cross that line by saying those words, admitting his feelings, staying with her. And she had crossed that line by accepting him and kissing him, twice.

He surveyed the room, hands thrust into his pockets. “Well, this isn’t too bad. Not like that time in Gespia. Or Juvar. Oooh. I just remembered Loxima. Now that was a nightmare of a place. Made some of our prison stays seem like five star hotels.”

She smiled softly at his rambling. “You’re really the same, aren’t you?”

He stopped and considered her statement. “Consider it like a sideway regeneration, except with a dash of human. Blimey, I’m going to be sleeping away half my life, well, a third. How do you lot manage to get anything accomplished.”

“We’re very resilient,” she responded, grinning her tongue touched grin.

His eyes flickered down to her lips. “Yes, that you are,” he murmured. His eyes quickly darted back to her own. Her grin broadened. Maybe she could have a bit of fun teasing him.

“Any other changes? Anything else that feels different?” she asked innocently, starting to peel her jacket off.

“One heart. No regeneration. Still have a Time Lord mind, so memories and feelings haven’t changed. Still as brilliant as ever.”

“Still as modest as ever,” she muttered, yanking off her wet shoes as she sat on the edge of the bed.

He continued, ignoring her jibe. “Might actually need those glasses for real now.”

“No complainin’ here. I thought they made you look quite sexy,” she said, unbuttoning and unzipping her jeans.

He made a pleased sound and she looked over to where he was still standing by the now closed and locked door. And he was watching her, his eyes slightly darker than usual.

“I’m just gonna take a hot bath and we’ll need to hang up our clothes to dry. It’s not like we have extra to change into. Though, hopefully, mom will have organised some clothes to be delivered here in the mornin’.” She stood up and walked to the bathroom, closing the door gently behind her and sighed. There was so much air that needed clearing between them, a lot to talk about. And she didn’t know if she had the energy, or the nerve, to do it tonight.

She quickly showered and donned the complimentary robe and wrapped her wet hair in a towel. Taking a deep breath she exited the bathroom and found him sitting on the edge of the bed, minus socks, shoes and jacket. His shirt sleeves were rolled up to his elbows and he was staring at the television, flicking at a fast pace through the channels. He looked up at her and gave her his famous grin. She couldn’t help but grin back.

“You should take a hot shower yourself. I’ll organise some dinner for us,” she said gingerly.

He nodded and stood, placing the remote by the television. She couldn’t stand the tension that was suddenly building up between them. It felt so unnatural and…wrong.

“Doctor!” she called. He turned to look at her, his chocolate brown eyes slightly guarded.

She smiled at him and said, “I’m glad you’re here.”

His eyes softened and he gave her a toothy grin. “Me too, Rose.”

She walked over to him and hugged him. He returned her hug just as fiercely, almost like he was starved for her touch. “I know we need to talk and work through things and that it’ll take time. I just don’t want things to be uncomfortable between us.”

He chuckled. “I was worried you were having second thoughts, you know, about me.”

She pulled back slightly and looked up at him. She touched his cheek tenderly and his eyes fluttered closed as he leaned into her touch. “I made my choice, Doctor.”

His eyes sprang open as her words sunk in. She saw them almost twinkle in merriment. “You chose me,” he said in wonder.

“Of course, you daft alien,” she chuckled.

“Human now.”

“Part human.”

“Close enough,” he growled before his lips crashed onto hers in a passionate kiss.

A pounding on the door interrupted them and the Doctor groaned in frustration. “Oi! Open up. I bought you some food,” Jackie hollered.

“Please tell me we are not living with your mother. I don’t think I could handle it,” he pleaded.

She laughed and pulled away from him. “Nah, I have a flat that we can stay in until we decide on something else. Go take a shower and I’ll handle her.”

He gave her a quick peck on the lips before he hastily retreated to the bathroom, closing the door firmly behind him.

Rose went to open the door, letting her mother in. She breezed in, carrying a few bags of take-out.

“I had some food delivered. Figured you two must be starving,” she said, placing the bags on the only table in the room. She turned to look at her daughter. “Where is he?”

“In the bathroom taking a shower,” Rose responded, going over to the bags and started unpacking them.

Jackie nodded. “Things OK between you two?”

Rose paused. “It’s a huge adjustment for the both of us. A lot we have to talk about.”

Jackie smiled. “You two’ll be fine.”

“I hope so,” Rose mumbled.

Jackie placed a hand on her daughter’s shoulder. “He’s head over heels for you, love.”

Rose frowned. “How can you be so sure?”

“I saw the way he was looking at you on that space ship, when he thought no-one was looking. He’s smitten. Better than the other one. Wasn’t truly open with his feelings for you.”

Rose glanced up in surprise. Her mother still managed to surprise her even after all these years. Her uncanny observation and insight was even more surprising because not very many people thought of Jackie as the insightful type. Rose gave her a watery smile and hugged her mother.

Jackie patted her back. “Now you two get something to eat and get a good night’s rest and I’ll see you lot in the mornin’.”

“Thanks, Mum,” she said hoarsely and gave her a peck on the cheek. Jackie patted her cheek lovingly and walked out, closing the door behind her.

“Is she gone?” the Doctor whispered from the door that was slightly ajar.

Rose grinned at him. For all their bickering, she knew that her mother and the Doctor had a genuine affection for each other. They just didn’t openly admit it.

“Yup. She bought food.”

“Oh good! I’m starved!” he declared, opening the door fully. He, too, was wearing a bathrobe. He took his damp clothes and hung them on any available surface.

They unpacked the rest of the containers of Chinese food and ate in relative, but comfortable silence. Rose hadn’t realised how hungry she was and judging by how the Doctor was shovelling food in his mouth, he was also famished.

“Tomorrow’s gonna be a long day. We should probably get some sleep,” she said after they had finished their meal.

“Are you tired?” he asked.

“Aren’t you?” she asked back. It had been a very long day, a lot had happened and she now felt drained of all energy.

“Physically, yes. Mentally, weeelll, a lot is running through my mind right now.”

“Like?”

He gave her a small smile. She nodded in understanding. She felt the same way. And right now she wanted comfort. His comfort. Having him close to her, she knew he would ward off the nightmares and be like a healing balm for her.

She stood and extended her hand. “Would you like to join me? I know I would sleep better if you were there with me,” she explained.

He took her hand and as they cuddled in bed, she could feel both their hearts settling, breathing evening out as sleep finally took over them. That night there would be no nightmares for either of them. They had found each other and were finally able to be together.

 

They were sitting in the private Zeppelin, the Doctor asking multiple questions about this world as compared to the Prime Earth. Rose had had three years to study up on all the differences and she happily gave him the history and all that she had learned. They were dressed in the clothes that had been given to them by the driver who had come to collect them from the motel. Rose was wearing black slacks and a cream colored blouse topped by a long beige coat that reached her knees. The Doctor was wearing jeans and a black T-Shirt and a leather jacket. He had wrinkled his nose when he had been presented with the clothing choice and Rose had been quick to reassure him that they would go shopping when they got back to London. He had groaned a bit at the mention of shopping. But a small part, a part that he highly suspected was a trait inherited from Donna, was kind of looking forward to it. Oh, how the mighty had fallen.

They had been in the air for more than three hours and the conversation had come to a lull.

He turned from his view out of the window and looked at Rose. “Are you angry?”

She had been picking at her nails and looked up at him thoughtfully. “Yes. Kind of. Not at you. You didn’t ask for any of this. And I understand why he did what he did. I just didn’t like…the way he did it.”

He reached over and grasped her hand. “You know he and I are the same?”

She nodded and he continued. “It wasn’t easy for him to let you go. But he loved you so much that he gave up his own happiness so you would be happy.”

Her eyes shimmered with unshed tears. “And my feelings have not changed. Might have a human body, but my mind is still the same. I meant what I said on that beach.”

She smiled and clasped his hand harder. “And I meant what I said in that motel room.”

He grinned as he remembered her words. “I made my choice.”

After a pause, she asked, “Is he going to be OK?”

“I don’t know,” he replied honestly. “He’s lost you and now he’s lost Donna…”

“What!” she exclaimed.

He cringed. “Donna is fully human with a human brain. Her brain cannot sustain a Time Lord consciousness.”

“Is she going to die?” Rose gasped.

“Her mind would have burnt up unless he wiped her memory.”

“Is that what he did?”

“It’s what I would have done,” he said almost casually, except the slight hitch in his voice gave away how much pain he was feeling about Donna.

“I’m so sorry, Doctor,” she murmured.

“Yeah,” he said distantly, looking out the window again. She absently rubbed her thumb over the back of his hand that was still clasped in hers. She left him to his thoughts, knowing she couldn’t offer much else in comfort except to be there for him if he wanted to talk. He squeezed her hand, a silent thank-you.

“So, you still work for Torchwood then?” he asked. She knew he was trying for a distraction and she let him. They could grieve later, maybe together.

“Yeah. Which reminds me – just a heads-up. Dad is gonna want you to join the team, what with your expertise and brilliance and all.”

“Work for Torchwood? Never thought I’d see the day,” he muttered.

“It’s not like the other Torchwood. We mostly help aliens and every once in a while deal with the not so friendly ones. Doesn’t happen often and usually we can negotiate with them and come to an agreement. We haven’t had much hostility, mostly misunderstandings. But after the Cybermen attack, people on this Earth are very xenophobic, so everything has to be hush-hush.”

She eyed him. “Though, thinking about it now, having you are the team might not be such a good idea. Subtlety is not something you’re very good at.”

He chuckled. “In my defense, it’s usually not my fault.”

She laughed and he winked at her. “I’ll think about it. Going to have to earn a living now.”

“There’s no rush. Let’s just first get settle in and then we’ll work out the kinks, yeah. But there is something you’re going to have to do before we reach London.”

“Oh?”

She reached for the briefcase by her feet that had been given to her by their driver just before they had boarded the Zeppelin. She placed it on the table in front of them and opened it. The Doctor was openly curious and leaned forward to see what surprise she held for him.

“Be warned, though. This is going to make this all very real. It did for me,” she warned softly.

He arched an eyebrow and she fished out the paperwork, placing them in his hand. He squinted and flipped through the thirty odd pages.

“Your new identity,” she clarified as he remained silent. “I had to get mine done when I first…arrived here. We had to make up a whole background story that my parents gave me up for adoption when they had me coz they couldn’t afford to keep me, as this was all before Dad became successful. An open adoption, so they kept in contact. After the Cybermen attack, in which my adopted parents were killed, they welcomed me back. All this for the press.”

“Press?” he asked, looking up from the daunting pages of paperwork that he was required to fill out.

“I’m now the Vitex heiress. Can’t go anywhere without the bloody paparazzi following me. Should warn you about that,” she muttered darkly, this obviously an unpleasant subject for her.

“Bloodthirsty bunch, are they?”

“You could say that. I’m fresh meat. Showed up three years ago out of the blue, stand to inherit the Vitex fortune. Yeah, I’m the hottest topic right now. And when they see you with me, well…”

“Lovely. Maybe we should move somewhere closed off and remote.”

“You asking me to move in with you?” she teased, grinning wickedly at him.

He grinned back and leaned in, a salacious grin on his face. “If you recall, Rose Tyler, I asked you to move in barely a day after meeting you the first time.”

She grinned back, her tongue poking out between her teeth. “And now you’re moving in with me. That is, if you want…”

His grin turned into something more tender, more sweet. “Yes.”

“Yes?” she asked.

He nodded solemnly. “Rose, I’ve dreamt about a normal life with you since I met you. And the fact that you want that too, well, that’s brilliant.”

She leaned in and brushed her lips against him. His free hand came up and cupped the side of her face. It was a long, languid kiss, one that took its time. There was no rush.

She pulled back, slightly breathless and was pleased to note that he was the same. They spent the remainder of the flight filling out the paperwork. He was adamant that his alias would be John Smith. After it was all filled out he looked at her, a frown worrying his handsome features.

“Do you want to call me John?”

She patted his knee and shook her head. “Nah. You will always be the Doctor to me.”

He gave her such an adoring smile, a smile so unguarded and full of love. Yes, she thought, they were going to be just fine.

 

They landed two hours later and Jackie gave Rose and the Doctor a hug and told them to come by the house the next day. She then boarded a sleek black car with all the windows tinted and they watched as she was driven back home. Another vehicle, identical to the first, awaited them and they climbed in, settling in the leather interior.

“Where to, Miss Tyler?” the driver asked her merrily.

“Home, please, Joe.”

“Yes, Ma’am.”

“Ma’am?” the Doctor mouthed.

“Shut-up,” she scorned playfully, digging her elbow in his ribs.

It took well over an hour to arrive at their destination. Apparently they had landed at a private estate owned by one of Pete’s friends, who had graciously allowed them to land there.

“So why doesn’t Pete have his own private Zeppelin?” the Doctor queried.

“Mum hates them. Says they’re ugly.”

“Can’t argue with her on that one.”

They drove up to a skyline building, in a posh area. This was definitely not the slums. The building towered over them, all gleaming steel and glass. They went into the underground private parking area, where there was an array of fancy shiny cars in their allotted parking spaces.

The Doctor quirked an eyebrow at Rose and she rolled her eyes. “Yeah, I know. But I had to find a place, and with all the paparazzi, Pete suggested that this apartment would be better than having those vultures camp out in my front yard. Security here is excellent, I have relative privacy and it’s only rich people here, so they really don’t care that I’m the Vitex heiress.”

They climbed out and went to the private elevator. Rose inserted her key and the elevator proceeded to rise.

“It wasn’t meant to be permanent. I didn’t have plans to stay here. So if you want to find another place, I’m more than open to the idea,” she explained, reaching for his hand, which he took with such familiarity.

They arrived at the top floor, the penthouse and Rose nervously unlocked the door. He followed silently after her. It was blaringly obvious that she hadn’t meant to stay here long. It was almost military bare. One lone couch in the middle of the room facing a wall mounted television. A desk with a computer in one corner. No pictures on the wall, save a few of her mother and what must be her brother on the computer desk. It looked like it hadn’t been occupied in months.

But what really drew his attention was that above the couch was a large glass dome in the ceiling. If you sat on the couch and looked up, you would be looking at the stars. And it was with great pain that he realised that Rose must have spent many nights sitting there looking up into the night sky, thinking of her old life, of him.

He swallowed hard at that thought and looked back at her. She was watching him carefully for his reaction, biting on her thumb nail.

“That skylight was the main reason I chose this place. If you don’t like it we can start looking for another place.”

He sauntered over to her and offered her a smile and his arm. “How about a tour first, Dame Rose?”

She beamed up at him and placed her hand in the crook of his elbow. It was a short tour, to say the least. Kitchen, bathroom, laundry room, spare bedroom that was completely empty and then her room. He was relieved to see that there was a queen sized bed in there at least. A dresser and vanity and a walk-in closet that had clothes strewn on the floor, shoes haphazardly shoved in the corner. The bed was unmade and rumpled pajamas lay on the floor.

He turned and grinned at her. “Ah, here’s a glimpse of the Rose Tyler I know.”

She sat on the edge of the bed leaning back on her hands and smiled softly at him. “Yeah, the messy part still hasn’t changed. But in my defense I’m barely home enough to get some cleanin’ done.”

He sauntered over to her until he was standing directly in front of her, forcing her to crane her head to look up at him. “And what was you excuse when you lived on the Tardis?”

“You were always dragging me on one adventure after another. Too tired to bother cleaning.”

He offered her his hand and pulled her up, pulling her close to him with his other hand on the small of her back. He let go of her hand and placed it on her waist, making her breath hitch slightly. He leaned in, his lips brushing against her ear and he murmured, “Truth be told, I’m not the neatest, especially this incarnation. You’re going to be competing with me in the mess department.”

She chuckled and replied, “Challenge accepted.”

He pulled back and beamed at her. She tucked a stray lock of hair behind her ear and asked, “So what do you think? Wanna stay here or look for another place?”

He looked around, his hands still firmly on her waist. “Weeelll, becoming human is sort of like regeneration. Gotta figure out what I like and don’t like. But I’m leaning more towards the idea that we could find a place, together. Something that we both like.”

She breathed out a relieved sigh. “Thank god. Cos I really I hated this place.”

“Really?”

“As you can see, I never really settled in here. Never made it home. I just had to get out. Mom was driving me bonkers with her smothering and pregnancy hormones.”

He wrinkled his nose. “Yes, living with Jackie would certainly drive anyone mad.”

She playfully smacked his arm. “She’s not that bad. She was just worried and concerned, especially after Bad Wolf Bay. But when she started trying to set me up on some blind dates, I knew I had to get away.”

The Doctor felt jealousy roil through him like an unpleasant wave. He had to fight to taper it down. Apparently this human body was more prone to being jealous and showing it. “Dates?” he asked, trying to sound casual, but it might have come out as a growl.

“Yeah. Wasn’t interested in any of them.”

“Why’s that?” he asked softly, pulling her body a little bit closer.

“Cos none of them were you.” The honesty in her eyes was so raw, so open, that the Doctor felt his breath hitch with the intensity of the moment.

They didn’t know how it happened. It was a whirlwind of kissing and touching, clothes being ripped off and somehow they found themselves on the bed, not caring about anything else but becoming one with each other. It was a moment entirely perfect in its imperfection. Lust and love warred with each other, finally intermingling to become a moment of anticipated completion.

Afterwards they lay in each other’s arms, Rose resting her head on his chest, blissfully listening to his rapid heartbeat gradually slow to a normal pace. A serene smile played on her lips as she trailed her fingers over his chest.

“I love you, Doctor,” she whispered.

He kissed the top of her head. “I love you, too, Rose Tyler.”

She felt that she would never be as happy as she was in this moment. They were finally together in every way and they were getting their happy ending.

 

The next few weeks passed by in a flurry. They managed to get through the shopping trip in one piece, the Doctor complaining every few minutes. He thought that he would enjoy shopping, but nope, he still found it tedious and tiresome. So Rose had to hire a personal shopper and specify what she thought the Doctor might like. Suits and sandshoes was definitely a must. He hadn’t lost his love for that ensemble.

They had gone to her mom and dad’s place for dinner the following night. The Doctor and three year old Tony hit it off like a house on fire. Mainly because she suspected that the Doctor was like a big kid himself. As suspected, Pete offered the Doctor a job at Torchwood, and surprisingly, he accepted without a hesitation. He must had thought about it long and hard since she had first mentioned it to him on the Zeppelin. She should have known there was an ulterior motive, even though he thoroughly enjoyed his work. It kept him busy and occupied, which is something he desperately needed. The spare room was now cluttered with bits and bobs, a combination of mad scientist lab and workshop. With all the stuff he had borrowed (nicked) from Torchwood, he cobbled together his own sonic screwdriver. When he had proudly showed her, she had squealed in delight, that is, until he turned it on and made the dome light shatter.

It wasn’t surprising that after some spectacular and some rather explosive incidents, they were asked to find another place. And the paparazzi certainly weren’t making life easy. It wasn’t long before they found out about the Doctor and his face was splashed over every tabloid, citing him as the Vitex heiress’s new toy. And because he was a mystery, with very little known history, the tabloids wrote wild and exaggerating stories about him. The Doctor was not impressed.

“Bloody vultures!” he groaned as he flopped on one of the chairs in Rose’s office in Torchwood, a rag mag in his hand.

She looked up from the paperwork she was busy filling out. “Just ignore them. You don’t wanna know what they wrote about me when I first got here. Best just to not let it get to you.”

“It’s not right, I tell you. The lies they get away with writing!” he said indignantly.

She held out her hand and he handed her the magazine. Splashed on the cover was a picture of him. She remembered that day all too well. His glasses were slightly askew and his hair was sticking up in every direction, smudges of soot on his handsome face. That was the day when he thought it would be a good idea to do an experiment in the spare bedroom and it had exploded. Not big enough to cause any damage, but enough to set off the fire alarm and fill the whole apartment building with a smell that was somewhere between rotting garbage and dirty gym socks. That had been two days ago and the windows were now permanently open to air out the place. There was still a slight whiff of that smell when you first walked in. Rose was hoping it would be gone by the end of the week. Though, they had been asked to be gone by the end of the month after that incident.

The picture on the magazine was when they had had to evacuate the building and it hadn’t take the press long to figure out who had started it. Captioned on the front were the words, “Mad Scientist.”

She looked up and arched an eyebrow at him. “For once, I believe the press.”

“Oi!”

She laughed and dropped the magazine on her desk, getting up to walk around the desk and sat in his lap, wrapping her arms around his neck. She nuzzled at his neck and he made a contented noise at the back of his throat. “Don’t worry about it. You’re my mad scientist. You might drive me bonkers sometimes, but I can’t imagine, or would want, you any other way. I love you the way you are.”

He wrapped his arms around her waist. “Hmm, wanna show me how much you love me?” he smirked, wagging his eyebrows.

She laughed and scooted off his lap. “You’re incorrigible.”

“I blame it on this human body. I used to be so good at controlling these…urges.”

“Oh? So you had urges when you were a full Timelord.”

“Of course. Though, not to this extent. I really had to practice control when you wore all those short skirts. Very distracting, that was.”

“It was meant to be.”

He hummed in agreement. “I see you’re wearing a skirt now. Though it is a bit modest.”

“Says the man who wears so many layers.”

He laughed and stood up to stand in front of her. She was leaning back against the desk, her ankles crossed. He placed his hands back on her waist. “Well, it’s almost time to go home. Want to see how many layers you can get through,” he asked seductively, his brown eyes growing darker at the thought. She felt her legs grow weak and she almost caved.

“Later,” she said, swallowing hard. “But right now I want you to come somewhere with me.”

All lust vanished and was replaced with curiosity. “Oh? Care to share?”

She shook her head, a teasing smile on her face. “You’ll see when we get there.”

“I hate not knowing things,” he groaned.

She chuckled and grabbed her jacket and purse and locked her office. They went down to his lab where he retrieved his long overcoat. He had been overjoyed when she had managed to find a close replica of his beloved coat.

They went to the employee parking lot and got into their black Jeep. The windows were all darkly tinted, another reminder of the ever present paparazzi. They got through the rush hour traffic and it was another thirty minutes of driving before they reached the outskirts of London. Rose turned into a secluded driveway that stretched for what seemed like miles and was lined with looming oak trees. Further up they eventually came to a formidable iron gate. Rose rolled down her window and entered a pin into the keypad. The gates opened and she drove through. A little further up the Doctor could see a house. He had half expected a mansion or a castle, considering the size of the land, but he was pleasantly surprised by how modest and quant the house was. Double storey, large windows to let in the sunlight. Ivy was growing up the walls, giving it quite the country house feel. The front door was solid heavy wood, almost barn wood heavy. The house was surrounded by thickets of trees and bushes as far as he could see. A very private place.

There was a car already in the driveway and as Rose parked next to it, a woman emerged from the car. She was short and stout, her curly hair pulled into a tight ponytail. She wore very little makeup, but with her pleasant face, she really didn’t need it.

“Hello. I’m Allison. I was very pleased to get your call this morning, Miss Tyler,” she said, her voice smooth and silky. She extended her hand to shake Rose’s and then the Doctor’s.

“Thank-you for meeting us, Allison,” Rose said with a smile. “This is my…boyfriend, Doctor John Smith.”

The Doctor looked at Rose. This was the first time that she had classified them as a couple, even though in private they very much were a couple. But it hadn’t been made public. And they had never broached the subject on what to tell people. He guessed they hadn’t thought about it, until now. But he liked the title. Boyfriend. Yes, he liked that very much. Other him would have run away by now. How far he had come.

“Pleasure to meet you, Doctor Smith.”

“Likewise,” he replied back with an equal smile. He didn’t bother to contradict her on the name. He knew that he had to use his alias when out in public. But now his mind was whirring away, trying to figure out who this lady was and why Rose had contacted her.

“Shall I give you the tour?”

“Please,” replied Rose. And then it dawned on him. Allison was a realtor and Rose was interested in this house. And he looked around with renewed interest. Yes, he could see why this place was appealing. Secluded and private. It was a big house for the both of them, but not fancy or over the top that they would both hate it. Rose might be an heiress, but she still liked modesty.

They went around the house and he could feel himself gravitating toward it. Yes, he liked it very much. It had a finished basement. The main area was open concept, with the kitchen, living room and dining room looking into each other. Stairs led upstairs to three bedrooms, the main bedroom having an en suite. A second bathroom nestled in between the two other bedroom.

Then Allison led them out the back door located by the modern and up-to-date kitchen. And the Doctor felt a grin spread over his face. There stood a contemporary barn, though not painted red. It was made from logs, with a solid tin roof. The wood had been treated and varnished and gleamed in the sunlight. The Doctor practically ran to the doors and opened them, revealing an expansive interior, with hardwood floors and high beams. A spiral staircase led to the upper loft and he raced up those to inspect the upper floor. This too was hardwood floor and lots of windows. Lots of space and room. It was perfect.

He spun around and found Rose standing there, grinning broadly. “I thought this could be your workshop. Somewhere for you to do your mad scientist experiments.”

He grabbed her and spun her around, both of them laughing. “It’s perfect!”

“Yeah?”

“Yeah,” he said lovingly, placing her down on her feet. He leaned in and gave her a quick, yet loving kiss.

He looked up and saw Allison standing there. “We’ll take it.”

 

So the next two weeks went by with them packing their meagre belongings and picking out new furniture for their home. This in itself would have been very boring for the Doctor, but he found it wasn’t too bad when he was doing it with Rose. Granted, they did all their shopping online, so it wasn’t the same drudgery of going to countless stores to pick out a chair and table.

And with their personal touches it was starting to feel like home. And he was immensely proud of his workshop/lab. State of the art equipment and some items that he thought would be of use from Torchwood. All alien items that had been deemed useless for Torchwood, but very useful for him.

Summer was now nearing an end and the briskness in the air was letting everyone know that Fall was soon on its way.

It was a Saturday afternoon and the Doctor was standing in the walk-in closet staring viciously at the tuxedo that hung there. He wondered if this would be the tuxedo of doom?

Rose came up behind him, fresh from her bath and wrapped only in a fluffy white towel.

“Do we really have to go?” he whined without turning his gaze from that blasted thing.

She sighed. “Yeah. It’s a ball that mom and dad are hosting and we are expected to be there. I bloody hate those things so boring and stuffy and the people there are even worse.”

“Call in sick,” he said, wrapping his arms around her waist and nuzzling her bare neck.

“Hmmm, tempting. But mom will kill us if we don’t show up.”

“Darling?”

“Hmm?”

“Please don’t bring Jackie up when I’m trying to get frisky with you. It kinda puts a damper on the mood.”

She chuckled and squirmed out of his arms. She gave him a pointed look. “Get ready. I’ll see you in about an hour.”

“An hour? What can possibly take an hour?”

“Hair and make-up.”

He groaned. But he gave her a quick peck and grabbed his tuxedo and shoes (Sandshoes, he absolutely refused to wear any other shoes), and went into the room to get dressed. Rose came out shortly after and laid her dress on the bed and placed the black stilettoes by the foot of the bed.

He was already dressed by the time she had applied some make-up and she still had her hair to do. He decided to wait downstairs for her. But waiting had never been his forte. He flicked through the channels and paced the room. Just when he thought he was going to have to occupy himself by going to his workshop, he heard her descend the stairs. He looked up and gaped like a fish out of water.

It was true that Rose was a beautiful woman. She had even turned his head and stolen his hearts as a full Time Lord. But right now she was absolutely breathtaking. Her dress was floor length and black, the straps looping around her neck and leaving her shoulders bare. Silver and emerald sequins were sewn into the dress giving it a shimmery quality. This paired with killer black stilettoes. Her hair was in loose waves, so artfully done that she looked like an angel. He preferred the softer blonde look on her instead of the bleach blonde.

“You look beautiful,” he breathed when she reached him. She blushed at his compliment and then straightened his bow tie.

“You look very handsome yourself. Kinda contemplatin’ on takin’ you up on your offer and forget about the party.”

“There’s still time,” he said, entwining their fingers.

She smiled coyly at him. “Mom just called. Driver is going to be here in five.”

He groaned. “Why do we need a driver? We could drive ourselves.”

“Cos at boring events like this one, you kinda need alcohol to keep it interestin’.”

The intercom buzzed letting them know that the driver was at the gate. Rose pressed the button to let him.

He held out his hand and she took it. “Allonsy.”

She grinned. “Allonsy.”

 

The ball was in full swing, the orchestra stringing out melodious tunes. Rose and the Doctor mingled a bit, making small talk and smiling politely and taking pictures with the important people, which was nearly everyone.

After an hour, the Doctor’s patience – and politeness – was running thin and he dragged Rose to the dance floor.

“So the Doctor does dance,” she teased as they swayed to the music.

He leaned in and whispered in her ear, making her shiver, “You know how well I dance, Rose.”

“Hmm, that I do,” she whispered back.

They danced a few more dances and then they went to get refreshments. But instead of going back to the ballroom, the Doctor pulled her to the kitchen and then out the back door. She was about to protest, her heels sinking in the soft lush grass. Instead he scooped her up and carried her to the greenhouse, which was at the far end of the garden. He gently placed her down on her feet and opened the door for her.

It was warm inside, the smell of dirt and flowers permeating the air. It was quite a large greenhouse, something that both her mother and father had created together. Strange, back at The Estate, Jackie was not known there for her green thumb. But here, in this world, she thrived.

He led her to the very back where there a bench. She sat down gratefully, her heels killing her from all the dancing. She leaned back and looked up through the glass ceiling, the stars and a few Zeppelins dotting the night sky. She closed her eyes, floating in the tranquility and a few minutes reprieve of the party.

She opened her eyes and almost startled when she saw the Doctor on one knee, a small velvet box in the palm of his hand. “Not quite sure if I’m doing this right. Never had to do something like this before.”

She felt like she couldn’t breathe. She sat absolutely still as he slowly opened the box, revealing a silver ring set with a blue sapphire surround by smaller diamonds. It was absolutely stunning and Rose looked up at him with a shocked expression on her face.

“So, here goes. Rose Tyler, will…”

“Yes!” she squealed, jumping into his arms and knocking him over with the force.

“You’re supposed to wait for me to finish that sentence.”

“You’re rubbish at finishing sentences.”

He managed to sit up, with her still in his lap. It was surprising that he hadn’t dropped the box. He took the ring out and placed it on her finger.

“I knew for a very long time, even before I lost you the first time, that I wanted to make a life with you. And now, I’ve been given this chance, the slow path, to spend it with you. It’s the adventure that I am most looking forward to experiencing.”

Her eyes shimmered with unshed tears. For all his talking, he never actually said much. But this human version of him wasn’t shy or scared to let her know how much he loved her.

“Forever,” she clarified.

“Forever,” he agreed.

They made love on the floor of the green house, Rose losing herself in his molten brown eyes and she looked past to see the stars and Zeppelins in the night sky. This beautiful memory would be forever etched in her mind.

Chapter Text

Rose woke with a start, disoriented and at first didn’t know where she was. She quickly turned over and came face to face with the Doctor, his blue grey eyes staring at her with concern, instead of the chocolate brown ones she had just been remembering.

She roughly pushed away from him and sat up, cradling her head in her hands, trying desperately not to cry. She had been happy. So, so happy. And now she was here, for some unknown reason. All she wanted was to go back, to be with him and feel that happiness again.

“How long was I out?” she eventually asked, after she had gotten her emotions under control. He had laid there silently, waiting for her to make the first move.

“A little over two hours.”

“Some of my memories returned,” she said flatly after a few minutes, refusing to look at him.

“I guessed at much,” he said neutrally.

She turned her head sharply to look at him. “How?”

He pushed himself into a sitting position and looked down at his hands that were fidgeting in his lap. He was uncomfortable and didn’t want to really tell her. “You know I’m telepathic?”

She sighed impatiently. “Yes.”

“Touch as well as non-touch. And we were, uh, our skin was touching…a lot. When your memory returned it mentally poured out of you like a giant wave. I couldn’t help but experience that memory myself. I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to pry. It just…happened.”

“I don’t understand. Your shields were up.”

He scratched nervously at the back of his neck, still not looking at her. “I fell asleep. Shields are not as strong then. I was basically pulled into the memory. Woke up the same time as you.”

She frowned. “Can that actually happen?”

He looked at her then. “It’s the first for me. I don’t usually make it a habit of sleeping with companions.”

She didn’t know what to say to that. He was obviously in her bed, even fell asleep spooning her.

“I’m sorry,” she said after a while. “It’s just…I kinda woke up expecting to see…him.”

He stared at the ceiling and after a pause, murmured softly, “How odd to be jealous of myself.”

She frowned at him. “What do you mean?”

He turned and looked her square in the eye. “Does it need saying?”

She felt like she had been slapped. She knew he had seen that memory when he had been inside her head. She hadn’t exactly kept it a secret. So why was he using those words against her?

“Yes, actually, it does,” she snapped.

He climbed out of the bed and stood there, looking down at her. “Fine. You want the truth, well here it is. You come blazing into my life and I find myself being inexplicably drawn to you…I feel myself falling for you. I’ve kissed you and have wanted you like I have never wanted anything else before. Then to find out a future me has defied all known laws of physics to get a video call through a time lock just to make sure that you are ok shows that he is still deeply in love with you, even after such a long time after losing you. And it kills me that I’m going to have to find a way to get you back to him when all I want to do is keep you for myself. But I know I can’t because after experiencing that memory myself, I realise that your heart lies with a human version of me, and I know I can’t compete with that. The deep love I saw that he had for you and you for him, well, yes, it made me extremely jealous. Because I know that I can’t let down those walls and let you in and love you in such a carefree manner. Because in the end, I will lose you.”

He was breathing heavily, avoiding her gaze.

Finally she spoke. “He is you and you are him. What I feel for him I feel for you too. But with him I had the opportunity to share my life with him. I can’t apologise for that. I won’t apologise for being happy with him. But don’t feel like you have to compete. I love you, no matter what regeneration, or metacrisis.”

He closed his eyes painfully. “It was so easy for the metacrisis. He was free to love you, to be with you. There was no fear of losing you. There was no fear of watching you age and die while he had to live on. He was the lucky one.” The last was said with bitterness.

She climbed out of bed and stood behind him, wrapping her arms around him and leaning her cheek against his back. “And I won’t age now. Maybe this is…another start for us?”

He turned in her arms and looked down at her with such sadness in his eyes. “Fate has never been kind to me, Rose. I’m soon going to have to fight in this war, a war that is very, very dangerous, and I will not let you be a part of it. I’m soon going to have to let you go.”

“So you’re just going to keep your distance from me, is that it?”

He swallowed painfully. “Yes.”

“Why?”

He backed out of her arms and went to retrieve his clothes. “Because if I let you in, I know I’ll never let you go.”

With that he exited the room, leaving her to her thoughts as tears slowly slid down her face.

 

Rose didn’t allow herself to wallow too much. He was right. Of course he was right. There would be no happy ending for either of them if they let this…whatever was happening between them…continue. She washed her face and brushed her teeth and quickly dressed in the same clothes. She ran a brush though her hair and with a deep sigh decided to go and find him.

He was in the console room where she had expected to find him. He was peering at the monitor, a slight scowl on his face. When he saw her he straightened, his hands clasped behind his back. A casual stance for him, but she knew otherwise. He was nervous. But if he wanted to maintain distance, she had no choice but to oblige.

“OK, so what’s the next step?” she asked in a casual tone, maintaining a respectable distance from him.

“I’m taking you to Gallifrey.”

Her eyes widened. “Seriously?”

He nodded. “I have a friend there that might be able to help and send you back to…future me.”

“Oh? Who’s that then?”

“Romana. She’s a good friend…and also President. If anyone can help, it will be her.”

Rose nodded then grinned. “I’m going to see Gallifrey! That’s just brilliant.”

“Have I never taken you there before?”

She hesitated. She had to be careful about what she said next. He could not know the outcome of this war, the outcome that meant Gallifrey would be destroyed. By his own hands.

She shook her head, praying her face didn’t betray her thoughts and said, “Nah. We never really got around to it.”

His eyes narrowed slightly. Her heart hammered in her chest, praying he wouldn’t press her for more details. She gave him her sunniest smile. He returned her smile and said, “Well, then, I guess this is your lucky day. Not so lucky for me. Bunch of stiff, boring bureaucrats running around there.” He started turning some dials and pulling a few levers. Rose inwardly sighed in relief.

“Is Romana like that?”

He looked up, looking slightly confused. She must have interrupted a deep inner musing. “Like what?”

“Stiff and boring.”

He chuckled. “No. Romana actually travelled with me in my fourth regeneration. She’s one of the better ones.”

Rose ran her fingertips lightly over the top of the console. “Alright then. Shall we go and get this over and done with?”

Her words must have come out more bitterly than she had intended because he looked at her sharply. “There’s no guarantee that she’ll be able to do it.”

“Then I guess you’ll be stuck with me.”

Her sentence hung in the air like a pendulum. She held her breath, waiting for him to respond. But a chime from the console interrupted whatever he was going to say in response. He looked at the monitor. “A distress signal. Shall we go check it out before we head to Gallifrey?”

“Sure. Where’s it coming from?” she asked, her curiosity overriding her bitterness. She was kind of looking forward to an adventure.

“It’s coming from a spacecraft. It looks like it’s about to crash into the planet Karn.”

“Well, we’d better hurry,” she said, her voice rising in excitement.

The Doctor grinned and her and pulled the lever, making the Tardis dematerialise and then materialise on the doomed spacecraft. Once they had landed the Doctor read the readings. “Only one passenger. I’ll go check it out. I would like for you to stay here in case things don’t go well.”

She opened her mouth to protest, but then thought better of it. “Yeah, OK.”

He laid a hand on her shoulder. “I’m sorry, Rose. I would love for you to come with me, but the spacecraft is going to crash very soon. If I don’t make it, I’d like to know that at least you survived.”

She nodded. “Better hurry then.”

He hesitated and then ran out the door. She walked over to the monitor, looking at the view outside of the Tardis. She watched as he slipped down the corridor and then was out of sight. It wasn’t long before she spotted the Doctor and a pretty woman making their way back to the Tardis. The woman stopped at the sight of the Tardis, and then said something to the Doctor. Rose wished she could find the volume so she could hear what was being said.

Rose frowned as the woman pushed a button on the wall and a door closed between her and the Doctor. He was now banging on the door, his agitation quite apparent. She felt the Tardis nudge her in her mind, warning that there was no much time. Rose didn’t think twice after that. She raced out the door, the Doctor screaming the name ‘Cass’, still banging his fists uselessly on the door. Rose yanked at his arm, but he refused to budge. She started to feel her panic bubbling to the surface.

“Doctor! We’re about to crash. If you don’t come back in the Tardis now we’re all going to die. You and me. Do you understand?”

It was like a fog had been lifted from his mind as Rose’s words started to make sense. She would die here with him if he didn’t act, and didn’t act fast. With one final pleading look at Cass, whose face was stony, he turned away and grabbed Rose’s hand, pulling her into the safety of the Tardis. He had just closed the door when the ship crashed, sending both him and Rose sprawling to the floor.

After the deafening crash, it was eerily silent in the Tardis. “What just happened?” she asked, pushing herself up.

The Doctor sprang to his feet and helped Rose up and walked over to the monitor. “The spacecraft crashed. On the planet Karn, I would surmise.”

“And Cass?” she asked tentatively.

He hung his head, his eyes pinched closed in grief. “Gone.”

She walked up to him and laid a hand on his arm. “I’m so sorry, Doctor.”

He looked up at her, grief and guilt washing over his features. “Do you know why she refused my help?”

Rose shook her head.

“Because I’m a Time Lord, one of the two species responsible for this war. She blamed me and chose to die than have any association with me or my…kind.”

Rose closed her eyes momentarily, letting sadness wash over her. The Doctor, for all his faults, was a good man and this moment would haunt him for the rest of his days.

“Listen to me, Doctor,” she said with renewed determination. “Her death is not your fault.” He squeezed his eyes shut again at that sentence, but she forged on. “She made her choice. You tried your best to save her and she refused your help. Her death is not on your conscience. You tried. I was watching and I know you tried. But you cannot save those who don’t want to be saved.”

“But she was right about one thing – this war is the fault of the Time Lords.”

“And the Daleks. But the war is not your fault. I know you’ve tried your best to stay out of it, helping where you can. You can’t put blame on yourself for this.”

He opened his eyes and stared at her. Suddenly he enveloped her in a fierce hug and she gasped at the intensity of it. “Thank-you,” he rasped.

“For what?” she asked, confused, but clutching just as tightly.

“For saving me. If you hadn’t pulled me back, I would most probably be dead now.”

“You’d regenerate.”

He pulled back his face neutral. “Maybe.” He let go of her and spun to the monitor. “Ah, the sisterhood of Karn is sending a welcoming party. Shall we go and greet them?” His eyes held no humor, just steely determination.

She held out her hand and he took it. “Together.”

“Together,” he agreed as they walked to the door.

 

The rubble of the destroyed ship lay scattered all around the Tardis, some half buried in the red sand. Smoke and dust swirled around, almost choking Rose, but it didn’t seem to have any effect on the Doctor. He stood there calmly, watching as some of the sisterhood pulled the body of Cass out from the rubble.

A woman broke from the group and strode up to the Doctor and Rose at their place by the door of the Tardis.

“Our High Priestess, Ohila, would like to have a word with the both of you,” she said in a monotone voice.

The Doctor nodded and both he and Rose followed the Sisters silently, still holding hands, as they carried the body of Cass to their destination.

They made their way into a cave, dimly illuminated with candles. The Sisters laid Cass on a slab of rock, a makeshift table. An older woman, Ohila, strode forward.

“Doctor,” she greeted in a raspy voice.

“High Priestess,” he greeted back, inclining his head slightly.

She turned her blue eyes on Rose. “Rose Tyler. I’m very happy to see that you are here.”

“You knew I was going to be here?” she asked surprised.

“I had hoped,” she replied simply.

Both the Doctor and Rose frowned at her, but she ignored their silent queries and continued. “The war between the Time Lords and Daleks threatens all of reality. You are the only hope left.”

“It’s not my war. I will have no part of it,” the Doctor stated firmly, though his grip tightening on Rose’s hand. She squeezed back to reassure him.

“You can’t ignore it forever,” she persisted, the urgency in her voice becoming apparent.

“I help where I can. I will not fight.”

“Because you are the good man, as you call yourself.”

“I call myself the Doctor,” he insisted. Rose looked at him. His face was set in hard lines. She looked back at Ohila, wondering where this conversation was leading. Ohila was staring resolutely at the Doctor.

“It’s the same thing in your mind.”

“I’d like to think so.”

“In that case, Doctor, attend your patient,” she said, gesturing widely to the lying form as Cass.

“But she’s dead, isn’t she?” Rose asked.

“Yes,” the Doctor said simply, though he let go of her hand and strode over to Cass, gently caressing her cheek. “She wanted to see the universe,” he murmured.

“She didn’t miss much. It’s nearly over,” Ohila stated. Rose shot her a look. This woman was being cold hearted.

“I could have saved her. I could have got her off, but she wouldn’t listen…” he mourned.

“Then she was wiser than you. She understood there was no escaping the Time War. You are a part of this, Doctor, whether you like it or not.”

“I would rather die.”

Ohila strode up to him, putting her face inches from his own. “Like her? How many more must die? How many more would you let join her?”

The Doctor swallowed hard. “What do you need?”

Rose felt goosebumps prickle her skin. Something important was happening right now, a pivoting point in history. She could feel it in her bones.

“Fight this war,” Ohila urged.

He smiled a bittersweet smile. “Yes, it’s coming to that point.”

“But not alone.”

“What?” he demanded, suddenly feeling sick to his stomach.

Ohila turned her sharp gaze to Rose, who had to fight the urge to step back from the penetrating stare. “Rose plays a big part in this. If you fight in this war the way you are, it will be a losing battle. She will be the one to balance you, to make you stronger. You need her. We all need her to go into this with you. Together.”

Rose blinked. Of course, the power of Bad Wolf would play a big part in winning this war. Except, she didn’t know how to control it. And now faced with the reality of the situation, Rose was suddenly sharing the Doctor’s sentiments about staying out of this war.

“No!” he said before she could reply. “I made a promise to keep her out of this war. She is no part of it.”

“Then you need to break your promise. She is the key, Doctor. Whether it’s to your hearts or to the saviour of the entire universe. A broken promise means nothing compared to that.”

The Doctor was fuming. He was indeed not very happy with the direction this conversation had taken. He stormed over to Rose and took her hand and started leading her out of the cave none too gently.

Ohila called after him, her voice full of urgency. “Please, Doctor, the fate of the entire universe lies in both your hands!”

He ignored her as he led a fast pace back to the Tardis. Once inside he started the dematerialization process. Rose stood silently by the console, deep in thought. It had rattled her what Ohila had said. She didn’t want to be a part of this war any more than the Doctor did.

“Was she speaking the truth?”

“Who can tell anymore,” he seethed.

“Doctor?”

He sighed heavily. “I don’t know. The Sisterhood of Karn have an uncanny foresight, though not exactly prophecy. But they sense things that no one else does. But it doesn’t mean they’re wrong.”

“And what if they are right?” she asked, crossing her arms protectively over her chest.

He looked at her, his eyes sorrowful. “Then it will not bode well for either of us. Do you know why I don’t want to fight in this war? It’s not because I’m afraid to fight. It’s because of the horrors I will face, the blood of countless lives that will forever stain my hands. My soul will never be cleansed. But I will do what I must. I just refuse to drag you down with me.”

“And what if you don’t have a choice?”

 He narrowed his eyes at her. “Are you saying you want to fight?”

She let out a bitter laugh. “Of course not. But I have a feeling that neither one of us is going to have much say in the matter.”

The Tardis landed with a small bump, barely jostling her two occupants. But they just stood there, staring at each other. An incessant knocking on the door halted any further conversation on the topic.

The Doctor turned from her and she felt a heavy lump settle uneasily in her chest. The words that Ohila had uttered still ringing in her ears. She would ultimately be the universe’s saviour, but the Doctor’s curse.

The Doctor yanked the door open and came face to face with a woman that could only be Romana. And she looked pissed, though that didn’t distract from her beauty. Thick blonde hair that was braided down her back, a cute upturned nose and smiling eyes, or could be if she wasn’t looking so livid.

“Romana,” the Doctor greeted casually, ignoring the daggers being glared at him.

“Doctor,” she said curtly. “You and your…companion better join me. We have a lot to discuss. One of them being your rudeness as to ignore all my messages. And your lateness.”

“Both attributes that I am well known for. So how did you know about Rose?” he asked, following behind Romana as she led them in what could be described as her office. Rose followed silently behind, letting the Doctor do all the talking. They were on his territory now and he knew what to say and what not to say.

The room was large and circular, the floor a shiny grey marble. Large windows surrounded them, giving them the perfect view of Gallifrey. It looked peaceful down there, untouched by war. Romana seated herself behind her wooden desk and the Doctor and Rose took the two seats on the opposite side of the desk.

Romana clasped her hands together in front of her, a scowl still marring her pretty features. “When an anomaly breaks through a time lock, something that is impossible, then of course I know about it. And when that said anomaly lands right inside your Tardis, well that just complicates things even further.”

“I’m surprised that you didn’t immediately hunt her down,” he said, drumming his fingers against his knees.

“Believe me, every instinct was screaming for me to do so. But when you and an anomaly coincide, all I can do is hope that it’s for the better and not the worse.”

Rose snorted. “Basically, you’re saying that it’s common for him to find himself in trouble and usually he gets himself out of it through blind luck.”

“Oi!” the Doctor retorted.

Romana grinned at her. “Exactly. But I wouldn’t be wise if I didn’t check it out.”

“You spied on us?” the Doctor asked.

“More like I took readings. At first human, which I thought unusual, but after a few hours it morphed into a unique energy signature. And seeing that you were still alive and well, I didn’t feel the need to pursue it further. I was just hoping you had found someone to help us win this war.”

“Rose will be no part of this war,” the Doctor clarified.

“Then why are you here?”

“For your help.”

Romana stared at him, calculating. “I’m listening.”

“Rose is from the future. A future…companion of mine. Her being here is quite accidental and I need to get her back to her own time. I need you to open a tiny crack in the time lock so that we can safely send her back.”

Romana was absolutely still. “I don’t believe her being here was an accident.”

“Yes, it was.”

“Then please explain how she is flowing with Vortex and Atron energy, something very similar to the heart of the Tardis. She basically piloted herself here, found and broke through the time lock and went straight to you, breaking through your Tardis.”

The Doctor was silent, the gravity of her words sinking in. Rose sat there quietly, unable to defend herself. She had no recollection of how she got here. How could she explain herself when she didn’t even know herself?

Finally he spoke up. “She has no control over it, Romana.”

Romana turned to Rose. “Why did you go through all that trouble to get in, Rose? And why now are you seeking to get out. Surely you could get out the same way you came in?”

Rose swallowed hard. “I can’t remember,” she said feebly.

Romana looked incredulous.

“She has a large chunk of her memory missing, or I should clarify, locked away, and I have been unsuccessful in trying to open them.”

Romana sighed. “It never is simple. And under other circumstances I would be intrigued. But as it stands, we are in a war, and as such I cannot open the time lock for you.”

“Romana, please,” the Doctor pleaded.

She held up a dainty hand. “No, Doctor. What you are asking of me is reckless and dangerous. Even opening it a tiny crack could leak this war out. Do you want all of time and space to be swallowed up in the war for one little human girl?”

The Doctor looked like he very much wanted to give a sarcastic reply, but he wisely held his tongue. “Then what do you suggest I do? I can’t drag her into this war. As you said, she is human, and she is my responsibility to keep safe.”

Romana leaned back in her chair. “We can send her to a safe house of sorts.”

“You mean lock me away?” Rose said, sitting up straighter in her chair.

“For your own safety,” Romana countered gently.

“Nope. Not happening. I’m stayin’ with the Doctor and that’s final.” She crossed her arms over her chest for emphasis.

“Rose,” the Doctor gently coaxed, “think about it. You would be safe and out of this war.”

“And what if something happens to you?”

“I will make sure no harm comes to you in the event that something happens to the Doctor. You have my word,” Romana said.

“You’ve seen that I make it through this war,” he replied.

“Time can be rewritten,” she countered sadly.

He said nothing to that, though his eyes held immense sadness in them as he stared at her. He abruptly turned to Romana. “Let her through, and I’ll fight this war for you. I’ll do whatever you ask.”

“Doctor, I will not let you sacrifice yourself for me,” Rose interrupted.

He turned to her sharply, but his tone was smooth and eloquent. “And I will not let you sacrifice yourself for me.”

They were at a stalemate, and she knew it. She turned to Romana and asked, “How much damage would it cause getting me through this time lock?”

Romana looked tired as she answered, “The war could leak out and then it would be the utter destruction of all of time and space.”

“But there’s a chance that it won’t,” the Doctor protested.

“A very, very small chance.”

Rose shook her head. “I will not let you risk it, especially for me.”

The Doctor abruptly stood, his anger and agitation roiling off him in waves. He strode to one of the windows and stood tall and straight, his hands clasped behind his back.

Romana spoke directly to Rose now. “Your best chance is learning to control your powers and find a way back. Safely, I might add. You lucked out the first time and never caused a tear in the time lock.”

Rose nodded. It was no use fighting. She was in this war to stay, might as well accept it and try and make the best of it. “And what of these safe houses?”

“Rose stays with me,” the Doctor said darkly, never turning around to look at them, though he was listening intently.

“I gathered as much,” Romana said dryly, but she turned to Rose and there was a knowledge and a sparkle in her eye. “Help her gain control of her powers. I regret that I cannot help, but I must beg of your help, Doctor.”

“I told you, I will not fight. And if Rose is with me, I’m definitely not going to drag her around in this war.”

Rose sat there, staring at the desk, deep in thought. The Doctor told her that he had ended this war. That meant that he had fought in it as well. Right? He had to fight, he had to end it. For the sake of all of time and reality. And she was the one holding him back.

“I’ll join the fight,” she offered quietly.

The Doctor spun around so fast, she was surprised that he didn’t lose his balance and fall to the ground.

“Under no circumstances will you fight!” he shouted.

Rose stood up as well and glared at him. “You do not make choices for me, Doctor. Someone has to fight and make a difference. And if my power can help, then so be it.”

“You have no control over it. And you have no idea what you are offering or getting yourself into. Right now you are being a foolish little girl!”

Rose flinched. She had been used to the verbal insults from leather clad him, but not this him. His words cut like a knife. She held her chin up high, tears shimmering in her eyes. “Better a foolish girl than a coward.”

The Doctor reeled back as though he had been physically slapped. “Is that what you think?”

She shrugged. “Dunno. Is that what you think?”

His eyes saddened immensely and he ran a hand tiredly over his face. Romana watched the whole exchange silently. “Rose, may I have a word in private with the Doctor, please?”

Rose tore her gaze away from the Doctor and nodded. She was afraid that if she opened her mouth she would start crying. She turned and walked back inside the Tardis, closing the door behind her.

“She’s not ready, Romana,” he said as soon as the door clicked shut. “She doesn’t know how to control her power or even use it. She will be slaughtered within the first five minutes.”

“I know,” she conceded.

This made the Doctor pause. “Then what are you proposing?”

“If she accepts, she can stay here with me and I can train her, help her. You can go on missions, fight a few battles and then when she is ready she can join you.”

The Doctor fidgeted at his pocket watch. Romana watched the action and arched an eyebrow. “You don’t want to be parted from her. You care for this human.”

“Yes,” he admitted without much thought.

“I will make sure no harm comes to her. You have my word. But we both know that she is not ready to join you yet. But we do need you to fight right now.”

He twirled the pocket watch between his nimble and elegant fingers, thinking and weighing up his options.

 

Rose slumped in the armchair by the console and closed her eyes tiredly. She wasn’t so much physically as mentally drained. Emotionally drained. She let the tears fall freely now, unable to stop them even if she wanted to. His words rang in her ears, a hurtful reminded that she was indeed a foolish little girl, compared to the mighty and intelligent Time Lords.

So lost in her thoughts that she didn’t even hear him enter and walk silently up to her. He took in her tear streaked face and his hearts broke, knowing he had caused her pain. And was about to cause her more pain.

He dropped to his knees in front of her and clasped her hand in his own. Her eyes flew open at the unexpected touch. “I’m so sorry, Rose,” he murmured.

She wiped hastily at her cheeks, trying to erase the evidence of tears, even though she knew it was too late. “Which part?” she muttered.

“All of it. I shouldn’t have said those things to you.”

A lone tear rolled down her cheek, a tear of shame. He brushed it away gently with his thumb. “I’m sorry, too, Doctor. I shouldn’t have called you a coward.”

He smiled softly. “But I am a coward. It’s what has kept me alive all these years.”

“You’re in your eighth body. It’s not working too well for you.”

He chuckled, his thumb still caressing her cheek. “You’re leaving, aren’t you?” she asked quietly, after a few moments of silence had passed.

“Yes. Romana has offered to train you and when you are ready you will join me.”

“How long?”

He hesitated. “I don’t know, Rose.”

She realised that it could be months or even years before she would see him again. She would have to be strong and work hard in order to be reunited with him again. She unclasped their hands and he made to rise, but she pulled him by the lapels and crushed his lips to her own. He didn’t protest or fight. Instead he kissed her back with such ferocity, burning the memory of how her lips felt on his, how she tasted, in his mind. It would keep him going through all the hard times. Eventually the kiss tapered off to a slow dance and finally they parted with a brush of lips and a heavy sigh between them.

“I’ll be waiting for you,” she said, giving him her tongue touched grin.

He smiled back softly. “And I’ll come back for you. I promise.”

She nodded and they both stood. He pulled her into a hug and she readily moulded into him. He kissed her on the top of her head and she left the Tardis silently. And a heavy feeling descended him when the door clicked closed behind her. He reluctantly set the coordinates on the console and with a heavy heart pulled the lever to dematerialise.

Chapter Text

Two years had passed since they had been left on that beach in Norway. And in a way Rose was very happy with how things had worked out. She may have been angry about the abandonment from the full Time Lord, but now in hindsight, she could see that this is what he had envisioned for her and the metacrisis, regardless of how much it hurt him, or her, to do so.

Life couldn’t be better. The human doctor was him and little bit more in the fact that he openly loved her, sometimes bordering on the point of adoration. They’d eloped two months after their engagement, much to the ire of one Jackie Tyler, but both her and the Doctor couldn’t bear a huge wedding with all the trimmings. An intimate and quiet setting is what they had, with Rose wearing a simple white summer dress and white sandals and the Doctor wore his usual blue suit and red trainers (which wasn’t a surprise). They’d gone to Cuba for a vacation and decided on the spur of the moment to get married, and it had all been worth it, even when they went home and made the happy announcement and had to put up with two hours of shouting and lecturing and basically being put on a guilt trip by Jackie. Months later Jackie was still shooting them death glares when they came over for the routine Sunday lunch.

But it had all eventually settled down, with both Rose and the Doctor respectively happy in their jobs at Torchwood, where there was always a mission to keep them on their toes and then home at night where they relaxed and enjoyed each other’s company.

It was a Friday night and they’d returned home from a rather hectic day and Rose and the Doctor were in the kitchen eating straight out of the takeaway containers of Chinese food.

“Rose?”

“Hmmm,” she mumbled around a mouth full of noodles.

“I’ve been thinking…”

“That’s not good,” she muttered playfully.

He continued, ignoring her comment. “We’ve been together two years now and are married and living the domestic life. Carpets, drapes, bills…”

“You going somewhere with this, Doctor?” she asked, sipping from her mug of tea.

He paused, swallowing visibly hard.

“Doctor?” she prodded.

“Have you ever thought about having children?”

She blinked, remaining ominously silent.

“Rose?” he asked nervously.

“Sorry, it’s just not a topic I thought we’d be having any time soon, is all.”

“Really? Why?”

“Well, take our jobs for one. We work in sometimes dangerous situations. What if something happened to one or both of us? I really don’t fancy our child growing up with only one parent, or no parent at all.”

“We could change jobs,” he suggested.

She raised an eyebrow. “Would you really be happy working anywhere else but Torchwood?”

He reflected on that question. Could he be happy working somewhere else? What other job would captivate his mind and keep him busy like Torchwood did? He came up with a blank and sighed in defeat. “Alright. Point to you. But can I just ask one more question before I drop this subject?”

She nodded and he continued, “Why are you so opposed to having children?”

She sighed and looked down. “A lot of reasons.”

“Like?”

She looked up and him and steeled herself. “I grew up without a Dad. I know how it feels. I don’t want to risk our child living that life.”

“You think I’m going to leave?” he asked incredulously.

She shook her head quickly. “No. Not by choice. I think you’d make an excellent father. But what if something happened to you?”

He thought back to all the risky and sometimes life threatening encounters he had run into while at Torchwood.

She continued. “The other reason is that I’m not ready. I was kinda enjoying the honeymoon phase of our lives.”

He smiled wickedly at her. But she started fidgeting with her hands, unable to look him in the eye. “There’s something else, isn’t there?” he asked.

He could see her cringing. “Rose, tell me please,” he urged softly. They had established a long time ago that there were to be no secrets between them, and so far both of them had held up on that deal. So what was she hiding?

She looked up at him, her eyes watering. “I don’t think I would make a good mom,” she admitted sadly.

He couldn’t help it. He burst into laughter. Her look of despondency turned into a full blown Tyler glare. He stopped abruptly and consoled. “Rose, I’ve seen you with your brother. You totally dote on him.”

“That’s different,” she stated back.

“How?”

“I didn’t have to be there for feeding every two hours. I wasn’t the one who was sleep deprived. I didn’t have to change diapers and potty train and feed and bathe and put to bed. I was there to dote on him, as you put it. I was there for the fun times. Mom was there through all the hard times.”

“And I’ll be there with you through all the times, good and bad”, he said, reaching for her hand across the table.

“I know you will. But I just don’t think I can handle the huge responsibility of a child right now.”

“Okay,” he conceded.

“Okay?” she asked in disbelief.

He shrugged and squeezed her hand. “You say you’re not ready, Rose, and I totally respect you for that. I’m not going to push you into something that you don’t feel ready for. And even if you decide you never want kids, it doesn’t mean that I’ll stop loving you. Just more time for the both of us,” he said grinning.

“You’re not mad?”

“No, of course not. If it happens it happens. If it doesn’t, it doesn’t. Like I said, I’ll love you no less. I’ll stay by your side forever.”

She smiled a genuine smile and clasped his hand tighter. “Thank-you,” she said softly.

He stood and pulled her up, giving her bear-tight hug. She felt all her tension melt away and contented herself in the moment.

That night she lay wide awake in bed, their earlier conversation bouncing around in her head. The Doctor was blissfully asleep next to her, his chest rising and falling with his deep breathes.

And as much as she was afraid of the idea of having children, all she could picture now was a little boy with wild brown hair and freckles smattering his cheeks and he laughed gaily, a mischievous twinkle in his eyes. Eyes that were chocolate brown. Like his fathers. Like the Doctor. And in that moment all misgiving faded away to be replaced by feeling of longing, love and hope.

She silently got out of bed and padded to the bathroom. She opened the medicine cabinet and pulled out the box of her birth control pills. She stared down at that box for what felt like hours, contemplating her next move. And in a move that had no guilt attached to it, she tossed the box into the trash can and climbed back into bed, snuggling comfortably with her husband. That night she slept blissfully.

 

It was two months later and it was five in the morning. Rose sat tensely on the loo, not daring to look at the stick that lay on the counter until her timer went off. Silence lay thick and heavy in the room. How could one little pregnancy test hold so much weight. She was tense as a tightly wound spring, her hands clenching and unclenching. She had made the choice two months ago to stop the birth control, but now, well now the reality of that decision would set in.

The beeping on her phone let her know the time was up and she hastily turned off the timer, hoping it hadn’t woken the Doctor in the next room, who was still sound asleep. She took in a deep lungful of air and steadied herself. What outcome was she really hoping for? She had no answer to that. Part of her was hoping for a negative, but another part was warring with her, hoping for a positive.

She picked up the pregnancy stick and time seemed to freeze for her. It was positive. She didn’t know whether to cry or laugh. These past two months she had gradually become excited at the prospect of becoming pregnant, but now, now it was really happening. But the Doctor’s words sounded like a healing balm in her mind. He would be there for her, through thick and thin. She didn’t have to do this alone. She felt a smile spreading on her face. She was going to have a miniature version of the Doctor!

She softly padded to the bedroom, stick clutched in her hand and crawled onto the bed. She lay there for a moment, gazing at the peacefully sleeping form of her husband and her heart swelled for the love she had for this man.

“Doctor?” she sang out softly.

“Hmmm,” came his mumbled response. “Five more minutes.”

She grinned. For someone who always berated the human race for their love of sleep, he sure did a lot of it himself. Though in the beginning he fought long and hard to sleep as little as possible, but eventually he had to give in and admit that his body was indeed human and needed adequate amount of sleep.

“I have some news,” she continued sweetly.

He cranked open an eye and said flatly, “It had better be life or death to get me out of bed this early.”

“Life,” she said after a pause, her face splitting into a grin.

His eyes had fluttered closed again and he frowned. “What?” he asked groggily.

“Life,” she stated again.

He slowly opened his eyes and gave her his full attention. “Life?”

She held the pregnancy test up to his face and he squinted. Then his eyes widened. Almost in slow motion he tore his gaze from the pregnancy test and looked at her. “Really?” he finally breathed out, hope blazing in his now alert eyes.

She nodded in response, still grinning. In blur of speed she didn’t think he was capable of, he flipped her over onto her back and gave her a deep and thorough kiss then he pulled back and beamed at her. “We’re going to be parents!” he exclaimed.

“Yes!” she giggled. He kissed her again and she felt life couldn’t be more complete.

 

A month had passed. A long, hard, miserable month of morning sickness. She felt like her body was punishing her in the worst possible way. None of the morning sickness pills seemed to help and none of her mother’s old wives tales held out much hope. When she finally collapsed from dehydration and exhaustion, the Doctor rushed her to the hospital. He stayed with her the whole time, looking over the charts and going into deep discussions with the doctors. His face was etched with worry. They had given her intravenous fluids to keep her hydrated. But she could sense something was wrong. She didn’t feel like this was normal. It was almost as though her whole life essence was being drained from her, making her weaker and weaker by the hour.

Late into the night, she awoke with a gasp. What had woken her? She looked over and saw the slumped form of the Doctor in the chair fast asleep. She went to raise her hand and the shimmering golden light made her gasp.

“Doctor!” she called out urgently.

He came to his taps in an instant and immediately recoiled as he saw the golden light casting a golden hue off her body.

“What’s happening?” she asked, her voice trembling. Then a shearing pain shot through her whole body, making her back arch off the hospital bed. The pain was so intense that she couldn’t even cry out, it took her breath away in that instant. All she could do was clench her eyes closed and pray it would be over soon. And thankfully she passed out.

She stirred awake, not recognising the room she was in. She shot up in bed and frantically looked around. She calmed a little when she saw the Doctor asleep in a couch that had been positioned by the wall, close to her bed.

“Doctor?” she rasped, her throat parched.

He shot up, his eyes bloodshot, his hair dishevelled and his suit rumpled from sleeping in it.

He was immediately by her side, clasping her hand, his chocolate brown eyes marred with concern. “How are you feeling?”

“Where am I?” she asked, ignoring the question.

“Torchwood. Medical facility.”

“Why?”

He swallowed hard. She knew that this was not going to be good news. “There was an incident at the hospital and I thought that Torchwood would be better equipped to help out.”

“I don’t understand,” she said, frowning.

He sighed. “What do you remember?”

She thought back, trying to recall what had happened. And then the memory hit her like a blast of Artic air. Her eyes widened and she felt herself panicking. “What happened?” she shrieked.

He cast his eyes down and took steadying breathes, clasping her hand tighter. “I ran some tests when we got you here after you went all glowy. You still have some remnants of Bad Wolf coursing through your body. Not like when you absorbed the Vortex, but some of it stayed in you and has slowly morphed with your genetics, making you human, but not quite. I’m so sorry, Rose. I thought I had taken it all out of you.”

She blinked a few times, his words slowly making sense. She stayed silent for a few minutes, concentrating on his thumb slowly rubbing back and forth on the back of her hand.

“The baby?” she asked quietly, dreading what he was going to tell her.

She looked up at him when he didn’t answer and saw silent tears trailing down his haggard face. “No!” she whispered.

He slowly nodded, confirming her worst fear. They had lost the baby. They clung fiercely to each other, each sobbing and mourning their loss. Later when they had both quieted down, the Doctor explained that her altered physiology had made her body miscarry the baby.

“It’s all my fault,” she said, her voice thick with tears.

“No, Rose,” he said morosely. “It’s my fault for not taking all of the Vortex out of you.”

She clutched him and said, “Let’s not play the blame game. But I do understand if you want to leave.”

He clutched her tighter. “Rose, I told you before that I love you no matter what. You had no control over what happened.”

“Neither did you.”

“We’re a team and I can’t imagine spending my life without you. I will always love you, whether we are able to have children or not.”

She nodded silently, clutching him tighter. They would get through this, together, and be there for each other. A part of her had died that night and she strongly suspected that it was the same for him. They never did try for another child after that.

Chapter Text

It had been three long years since the Doctor had left. Rose had learned from Romana, who assiduously kept her updated on the going-on’s on the Doctor, that he was fighting on the front lines, either on some distant planet or up in space. He had been promoted General Commander and was quite adept at strategy planning and execution of said strategies. But the words of Ohila still sounded in her subconscious like an ominous warning. Together they would be strong. Apart they were weak. But so far he was holding his own. Maybe too many close calls for her liking, but he always pulled through. She missed him terribly and childishly wondered if he missed her too?

And as busy as Romana was with the war, she had made time for Rose and helped her harness and control the power coursing through her. And it was no easy feat. They had learned early on that Bad Wolf was indeed a very powerful entity and the power of Bad Wolf was no less. If Rose put her mind to it, she could decimate the entire Dalek Empire to dust with just a single thought. But that kind of power scared Rose and she didn’t dare try to tap into that kind of destruction, a decision that Romana wholeheartedly agreed with. Romana was nervous of the power, too. Especially when it was housed in a human, a species known for their instability and recklessness. But she had grown to trust Rose and had seen that her compassion and empathy greatly outweighed hatred of any kind. In a way, it was a good thing that it was in Rose and not someone else, someone who was power hungry and evil.

It was during those three years that the last memory slowly came in bits and pieces until it had finally slotted the last piece in her dream last night, forming the full, though not quite full, picture of that time period of her life in the parallel. She had awoken, her cheeks damp with tears. It may have happened many years ago, but the memory was fresh and new, and so was the heartbreak.

She marched into Romana’s quarters without knocking, sitting heavily down on the chair by Romana’s desk. Romana didn’t even look up from filling out paperwork.

“Had another flashback?” she queried, her eyes still down and quill still scribbling furiously.

“One day you’re going to have to tell me how you do that?”

“Do what?”

“Able to sense when I have a memory restored. Or what kind of mood I’m in when I walk into the room and you haven’t even looked at me.”

Romana set down her quill and clasped her hands in front of her. “When your emotions are stronger, the energy you emit is noticeably…more forceful. That’s how I judge your mood and usually sad or angry is associated with a memory restoration.”

“Ah. And here I thought you had some magical powers,” Rose mused, her foot jiggling in an impatient tempo.

“I’m a Time Lady, not a sorceress,” Romana scoffed, mild affront marring her delicate features.

Rose leaned forward, resting her elbows on her knees, her hands clasped under her chin. “Is there such things as sorcerers? Magic?”

Romana simply raised an eyebrow and Rose sighed. “Yeah, didn’t think so.”

“So why ask?”

“Just to be sure.”

Romana smiled. She and Rose had truly grown fond of each other. It had started as an awkward treaty, but had slowly morphed into genuine fondness over the last three years. “So what happened?”

Rose knew she was referring to the memory. She swallowed hard, a lump forming in her throat. “We lost the baby. By then Bad Wolf had merged with me and I was incapable of carrying to full term. My body saw the pregnancy as a threat of sorts and in turn forced a miscarry.”

Romana reached over the desk and extended her hand and Rose gratefully took it. Romana clasped her hand and said sincerely, “I’m so sorry, Rose. The loss of a child is something no parent should have to go through.”

“Thank-you,” Rose replied, her eyes shimmering with tears. If anything, she was grateful she had a friend to talk to, to share her grief with. She cleared her throat and wanted to change subject. “Any news of the Doctor?”

“Still fighting in Arcadia. I spoke to him a mere few hours ago. He enquired about you and I gave him the update.”

“Oh?” Rose said, picking at her nails and unable to look at Romana.

“He misses you,” she continued.

“I doubt whether he said that in actual words.”

“Not as such. But I have known him for a very long time, and it’s what he doesn’t say that speaks volumes.”

“Maybe,” Rose mused. “So are we going to train today or more admin work?” she asked. Both ideas did not appeal to her. They had trained long and hard, but she found that using the power of Bad Wolf, even for a short amount of time, greatly exhausted her. Her training was kept to once a week in the beginning, mostly because it took her a long while to recover any strength. Gradually they had upped the amount of time and by now she was able to train for a few hours five times a week. It still exhausted her, but not as much as it used to. When she didn’t train, Romana had her helping with reports and administration work. Not that she was much help in that department, but it kept her busy and staved off the boredom.

“I was thinking that you could help out in this war.”

Rose interrupted, “I will not fight. I know we’ve been training and I have it pretty much under control, but what if I lose that control? I have no idea what will happen and I don’t won’t to hurt innocents.”

Romana calmly held up a slender hand and with a soft smile, said, “That is not what I was suggesting, Rose.”

“Then what?”

“I need you to go scout out a nearby planet. Make observations and report back your findings.”

Rose frowned, even though she was eager to go somewhere, do something. The taste of freedom was a tantalizing temptation. She was starting to feel restless, like a caged wild animal.

Romana continued, “You will have an escort, of course. It’s an unoccupied planet, and no threat can be detected there. But it would be good to send in someone to check up and make sure nothing is going on.”

She knew she should be asking questions, erring on the side of caution, but she was just too eager to get out and about.

“When do I leave?” she asked with a wolfish smile.

Romana smiled back.

 

They teleported onto the planet. Her escort was a soldier Time Lord named Ted, or rather, that was his shortened name. Rose still could not wrap her tongue around the long names that the Time Lords had, but noted that most of them preferred if she used their shortened names. Ted was average height, with short cropped brown hair that hinted at curls if left to grow longer. He had dark brown eyes framed with dark lashes and pale skin. Altogether, he was average looking, but he had an easy smile and pleasant nature, though he was quiet and reserved, something that the Time Lords were famous for.

Romana had given them a time ring, though it was actually a bracelet, that teleported them to their destination. The bracelet was a simple gold band with a red gem in the centre. Rose was instructed to push the gem when she wished to return. Apparently it was programmed to only send her to the destination that Romana had set and the return was for Gallifrey, right in Romana’s office.

The planet was indeed deserted, buildings nothing more that rubble in the wasteland desert. Rose looked around, seeing only sand and a few dried up husks that had once been vegetation.

She looked over at Ted, his eyes roaming the wasteland. She trusted his eyesight more than her own, superior vision and all.

“See anything?” she quipped.

He turned a full circle, his focus sharp and intent. He stopped and pointed a device where he was looking. It made a beeping sound and he looked down at the screen, reading the readings.

“Looks like there was a city a little ways up ahead. No life forms detected.”

Rose nodded. “Fancy a look?” she asked with a grin. It may be a wasteland, but to her this was freedom. A chance to get out and stretch her legs.

“That is what we are here to do,” he said blandly, but he started walking in the direction of the city that she still could not see.

Rose jogged up to him and kept in stride with him. They didn’t talk much, Ted too focused on scanning and searching his surroundings. The soldier in him was showing and idle chat was kept to a minimum.

They walked for a good two hours, until they finally came to the outskirts of the derelict city. Here buildings were small and crumbling, but still standing. Though one could see how this city had been bombed. Huge craters were found every mile or so, evidence of bombings. The buildings that were standing were charred black, the roads now nothings but rubble and dust. Ted scanned every building or house they came across, but nothing of concern showed up on the scanner.

They forged deeper in the city. It was stifling hot and sweat covered Rose’s body. She pulled out a flask of water and gulped greedily. She noted with envy that Ted, clad in heavy leather type armor, was neither sweating nor showing any signs of strain. Rose sat down on a slab of concrete, a remnant of a building or structure long since destroyed.

“How long had this planet been unoccupied?” she asked, taking another gulp of water.

Ted stopped his scanning and turned to look at her. “The inhabitants were destroyed at the beginning of the war. So about a century.”

Rose frowned. She had only been here three years. She had always been under the impression that the War was still in the early stages. “A century? Is that how long the war has been going on?”

“Yes,” he said simply.

Rose was silent, mulling it over in her head. She felt quite stupid for not knowing much about the Time War.

“Who killed the…inhabitants?” she finally asked.

“They were caught in the crossfire. The survivors fled.”

“Who were they?”

“They were the species known as the Glophofane. A peaceful race, but utterly unprepared for warfare.”

“I don’t think anyone is quite prepared for war,” Rose said bitterly.

“Quite.”

She looked up at him, trying to read his expression. This war had hardened so many Time Lords. All the horrors they had seen and had been forced to do, it was understandable. She thought back to the Doctor, when he wore leather, and now his gruffness and unrefined manner made so much more sense. She hadn’t understood what he had gone through, but now she was getting an inkling of what it was really like.

She took one more mouthful of water and placed it back in her backpack and stood. “Onward?” she asked.

He nodded, his expression softening. “Onward.”

Rose was about to step forward when she froze, a scuttling noise alerting her from behind. Ted seemed to hear it too, as he spun around facing the direction where the noise had come from. Rose strained to listen, but it was eerily silent.

Ted stood absolutely still, his eyes searching, his scanner held fast in his clutches. Outwardly he was calm, but he radiated tension. Rose backed up slowly until she stood next to Ted.

“You see anything?” she whispered.

“No, and the scanner isn’t picking up anything.”

“Could it have been the wind,” she asked hopefully, though she knew how stupid that question was. There wasn’t even a whisper of a breeze to slack off the searing heat. Ted seemed to think the same thing as he shot her a look as though she had dribbled on her shirt. It was a look so similar to the Doctor that if the situation hadn’t been so tense she might have laughed. She shook her head. “Thought not,” she muttered.

The scuttling noise came again, this time to their left and closer. They whipped their heads in the direction. The only thing there were rundown building, their interiors hidden in shadows. That was not good. Whatever threat was lurking was keeping hidden in those shadows. She narrowed her eyes, trying to peer into the depths of inky blackness. Ted seemed to be doing the same. So much for superior eyesight. The dark hid monsters from everyone.

As by some unspoken agreement, Rose and Ted backed away slowly. Almost in slow motion they spotted movement from the shadows, a pale clawed arm gripping the edge of what had once been the doorway of the building. Slowly another claw clutched the opposite side, pulling the occupant slowly out into the light. Rose felt bile rise in her throat, her mind going blank as she tried to comprehend what she was seeing. The creature was motley grey, covered in ooze and sores. As its body hoisted out the doorway, Rose could count six more limbs, all spindly and claw-like. Each limb was attached to a swollen torso, making the creature spider-like in appearance. It was roughly twice the size of her and Ted put together. The head was bald and devoid of features except slits where eyes should have been and its mouth opened up wide, impossibly wide, to reveal countless sharp and jaggered teeth. Its two arms were set in the front of its torso, while the other limbs were set on the side. The creature rose, standing on those spindly limbs that were pointed in sharp daggers on the end. Its mouth opened even more impossibly wider and it let out an ear piercing shriek.

“Run!” Ted shouted.

Rose didn’t need to be told twice. She sprinted after him, daring to look back. The creature was scuttling after them, going faster than she could have imagined on those sharp pincers. They would never be able to outrun it. Ted came to the same conclusion and grabbed her hand, yanking them into the nearest building. Shortly after the building rumbled with the impact of the spider-like monster crashing into it, trying to get after its prey.

“What the hell is that?” Rose shouted as Ted led her to the back of the building.

“I don’t know,” he answered back, his panic echoing around the hallow building. “We have to get out of here. The building is going to collapse.”

Sure enough, another crash resounded as the creature battered at the wall trying to force its way in. They ran to the back and Ted kicked down the rotted wood door, and they sprinted out into the blinding light. They sprinted down the street. The buildings looked even more unstable here. They would find no sanctuary here. But they couldn’t stop. Rose looked back and almost shrieked as she saw the monster burst through the building they had just fled, and watched in horror as it crumbled down, the creature spotting them and scuttling after them at a breakneck speed.

Ted fired over his shoulder with his energy gun, hitting the creature in the middle of the torso. But instead of injuring it, the ray just bounced right off it. It screeched even louder.

“It has heavy shielding. Most probably why the scanner never detected it,” Ted shouted.

“Never mind that! We need to get away from it!” she shouted back.

They raced further down the street, passing rubble and steel skeletons that had once been structures. Nothing offered shelter or protection that she could see. The wasteland of the city was flat. They didn’t even have the option of climbing to higher ground.

Her legs burned with exertion as she raced closely behind Ted, who was running at full tilt as well as trying to find a place for them to escape to. She didn’t dare look behind her. She couldn’t afford to panic even further.

Suddenly she was flung to the side, crashing painfully to the side of a building. She managed to glimpse the creature swiping Ted into a building on the opposite side of the street with a hard flick of its limb. Despite the pain she felt, she scrambled to her feet, panting. Ted, she noted with relief, sprang to his feet as well. The creature stood between them. She had no way of getting to Ted. The creature seemed to pause, eyeing out Ted, marking him as its next victim. Ted tried firing a few more rounds into it, but like before the rays didn’t even scratch it. So energy weapons could not harm it. The creature slowly started advancing on Ted and he turned, sprinting away from it, leading it away from Rose. She quickly dug in her backpack and hauled out a long dagger. She unsheathed it and took off after the creature and Ted. She would not run away and leave him to his fate, no matter how scared she was.

She ran so fast and hard after them, the creature seemingly unaware that she was pursuing it. Ted was not fast enough and the creature swiped at him again, sending him careening into a pile of cement rubble. He groaned loudly and the creature reared up, bringing its leg down and piercing him in the abdomen with its sharp limb. Ted screamed and blood poured from his mouth, choking the scream from his throat.

Rose didn’t even think about it. She jumped on its back, bringing the dagger down and piercing it in the back. The creature screamed and unearthly scream and Rose felt herself flung off its back, landing hard on a concrete slab, hitting her head painfully, hard enough to make her see stars. She blinked and the creature reared up in front of her. She scrabbled for her dagger and realised it was till embedded in its back. She scuttled back just as its pincer came down, narrowly missing her. She scrambled to her feet and was about to turn and run, but she wasn’t fast enough. The creature’s pincer pierced her shoulder and pinned her to a wall. She screamed in agony as it ground deeper, her mind unable to think of anything else but the pain. Its mouth opened wide, revealing rows of sharp teeth and it slowly came closer to her face.

Sheer terror ran through her and she screamed. Golden light suddenly burst from her. She couldn’t control it. She was so scared and in so much pain that all she could think of was to make it stop.

The pain reached and excruciating crescendo and blackness enveloped her.

 

It had been five years since the Doctor left them on that beach. The human Doctor and Rose travelled extensively, both for work and pleasure. It was almost like they didn’t want to settle down in one spot too long lest memories of the past came to haunt them. They had both accepted that children would not be an option for them, either biological or adopted. Their way of life did not have any room for a child. So they accepted and contented themselves with each other and traversing the world and discovering new mysteries and wonders.

But she knew that the Doctor was withholding a secret from her. She had felt it from that devastating day that she had lost the baby and she highly suspected that it was the result of the tests he had run on her. She should have demanded to know, but a large part of her didn’t want to know. But if she was completely honest with herself, she already knew. She just didn’t want to face the truth. The truth of what she had become. Because deep down she knew that she had changed. And that scared her. So she chose not to face it, but ignore it hoping that it would go away.

They returned home late one night from a mission in Peru. It was summer and the night air hung heavy with humidity. Rose opened up their bedroom window, willing a cool breeze to blow through. She swore to look into air conditioning as soon as she had time.

She showered and changed into a strappy nightie. She walked into their bedroom and found the Doctor casually laying on the bed, his hands clasped behind his head, his ankles crossed. He wore cotton pajama bottoms and nothing else. She briefly admired the view and went to join him, careful to keep a little distance as it was too muggy for any cuddling. He reached out and clasped her hand, rubbing his thumb soothingly over the back of her hand.

“There’s something I need to tell you,” he said slowly, continuing to stare at the ceiling.

“I don’t want to know.”

He turned his head and looked deep into her eyes. “Why not.”

She lay there silently, staring into the depths of his eyes. Love and concern and infinite knowledge swirled in those brown orbs and she could no longer face the rawness of it all. She got out of bed and went to stand by the window, staring out into the blackness of the night. She felt the Doctor come and stand behind her and he wrapped his arms around her waist. He rested his chin on her shoulder.

“How long have you known?” he asked softly.

“Haven’t exactly known but I’ve suspected since we lost…the baby, that I’ve changed. That I’m not entirely human. And that scares me.”

“Do you know to what extent that you’ve changed?”

She shook her head slightly. “No. And I don’t want to know.”

“Why?” he whispered, his breath ghosting along her neck, making her shiver slightly, though not in arousal.

She turned in his arms and wrapped her arms around his neck in an embrace. “Because,” she said, her voice muffled in his neck, “I love what we have now and I don’t want to find out that I’m going to lose it all. The Curse, as you called it.”

She felt his arms tighten around her slightly. His words from when he was a full Time Lord echoing around them. The curse of the Time Lords. The curse of watching someone you love wither and die. He knew exactly what she was referring to. He pinched his eyes closed, and breathed in deeply. He slowly opened his eyes and her fears were confirmed in the depths of those ancient eyes, eyes that had seen and experienced so much, and had lost so much.

“Okay,” he said softly and bent down to kiss her tenderly, pouring all his love into that kiss, which she returned eagerly. Both were trying to forget the truth, and quiet their fears in each other. And for now it would be enough. It had to be.

 

Rose’s eyes fluttered opened. Exhaustion overwhelmed her and she had to fight to stay awake. Where was she? She turned her head slowly, a headache pounding with the movement. She groaned and closed her eyes momentarily.

“Oh good. You’re finally awake,” a cheerful, yet unfamiliar voice greeted her.

Her eyes snapped open and she was staring at a good looking man with shaggy blonde hair and twinkling blue eyes. He grinned at her, showing off a set of brilliant white teeth. She frowned at him, trying to figure out who he was.

“Thought I had lost you there for a moment. That creature sure was a beast.”

“Ted?” she croaked.

His grin widened and he nodded eagerly. She peered down at his tattered armor, the hole a reminder of where he had been impaled by the monster.

“You regenerated,” she offered lamely.

“Yeah. Do I look ok? Haven’t had a chance to have a good look at myself.”

She grinned despite the headache pounding in her head and winced. He seemed to know what was wrong and handed her a glass of water and a blue pill that had been on her bedside table. She swallowed the pill and water greedily, her headache immediately receding. She looked around. She seemed to be a hospital ward, but she was the only occupant in the sterile white room.

“Where am I?” she asked.

“The Citadel. The Medic Bay. Sometimes we need to bring in others that are not Time Lords and have been gravely injured in the war. This is where they are treated.”

She nodded. “What happened? What was that thing?”

His face became serious. “That…that was an experiment, a creature of war created by the Daleks. Not the first time they have created monstrosities and mutants.”

“So what happened? How did we get back here?”

“I teleported us back and carried you back here. After you disintegrated that thing.”

Her eyes widened as the memory came back, the burst of golden light the last thing she remember. Suddenly she gasped and clutched his hand. “Did I hurt you? Did you regenerate because of me?”

He patted her hand and shook his head. “Nah. That creature gave me the mortal wound. When it turned its attention on you I started regenerating. After you were done with it there was nothing but a pile of ashes and you passed out.”

She sighed, relieved. She rested her head back against the pillow, feeling exhaustion sweep over her. “That’s good. I was worried that I had hurt you. It’s hard to control the power.”

Before he could open his mouth to reply an angry shouting reverberated around the room, coming from behind the door that led to the room she was in. She cringed as she recognised the voice and only had time to shoot Ted an apologetic look before the door crashed open and the Doctor strode in, The Oncoming Storm, followed closely by Romana. She wore a mask of calm and poise, undeterred by the Doctor and his wrath. He was by her side in a matter of seconds, his face stony and anger vibrating off of him.

She gave him a sheepish grin. “Hello.”

He sighed tiredly and cupped her face in his calloused hands, resting his forehead against hers. “I thought I had lost you,” he murmured.

She placed her hands softly on his own that were cupping her face, closing her eyes and breathing in the scent of him. He smelled of dust, blood and Time. That was the only way to describe it. “Take a lot more than that to get rid of me.”

She was trying to lighten the mood, but when she opened her eyes his own were looking back at her stonily. He kissed her softly on the lips and then pulled gently away from her. In a flash he rounded on Romana. “What the hell were you thinking?”

“It was an uninhabited planet. I thought it would do her some good to get out there and do something,” she said calmly.

He stalked up to her, his voice deathly calm. It was the calmness that was so chilling. Rose would have preferred it if he had been shouting. “You and I both know how dangerous it is out there. I trusted you to keep her safe and you broke your promise.”

Rose climbed out of bed and placed a hand on the Doctor’s arm. He never tore his gaze from Romana. “Doctor, it wasn’t her fault. Like she said, it was uninhabited and I had Ted for protection. I had to do something. I’m going mad being cooped up and being absolutely useless! Blame me if you want, but don’t blame Romana. Don’t.”

He closed his eyes tightly and pinched the bridge of his nose, breathing in deeply. She could tell he was absolutely livid and he wanted to vent out on someone. Finally he opened his eyes and swiftly scooped her up in his arms, marching out the room. “You’re staying with me from now on.”

She struggled in his arms. “You’re not locking me away in the Tardis. I won’t allow it!” she shouted.

“Oh, you won’t, will you?” he asked sarcastically.

She gave up the struggle. His arms were like iron bars wrapped protectively around her. “Please, Doctor. I have to do something, anything, to help. Sitting by and doing nothing is not my thing. Put yourself in my place. You would go absolutely mad being caged in.”

He ignored her and marched down the hallway, taking turns and going through doors until he entered Romana’s office, where his Tardis stood tall and proud. He placed her down and unlocked the door, holding it open for her. She huffed and entered, closing her eyes at the warm welcome the Tardis gave her, humming merrily in her mind. She patted the wall. “Good to see you again, old girl.”

She opened her eyes and rounded on the Doctor, preparing to have a shouting match with him, but he was calmly leaning against the console, his arms and ankles crossed, looking at her with a soft smile on his face. “She missed you.”

Despite her irritation, she smiled back. “I missed her too.”

After a pause, he added. “I missed you.”

She smiled softly and walked up to him, letting him envelope her in his strong arms. Finally she pulled away and looked up at him. “I’m sorry. I honestly didn’t expect to run into the trouble that we did.”

He sighed wearily. “Let’s make a deal. You come with me and we fight together. I can’t tell you how distracting it was trying to fight and my mind was constantly on you. At least now you’ll be in my sights.”

She thought about his proposition. “Only on one condition.”

He raised an eyebrow. “Which is?”

“You stop treating me like a porcelain doll.”

“I have to. You’re only human.”

She shook her head defiantly and lowered her top to show him her shoulder. “This is where that creature impaled me. Look at it. Not even a mark. I heal fast, faster than a Time Lord.”

He winced. “That may be, but you can still die.”

“We don’t know that for sure.”

“And you’re willing to risk everything to find out?”

She shook her head again. “No, Doctor. But I am stronger than you think.”

He studied her face for a long while. Finally he nodded in agreement. “I’ll try, but I’m not making a promise I can’t keep.”

She sighed. “Fine. I’ll take it.”

“Good.” He went to the console and started turning knobs and pulling levers.”

“Wait! Aren’t you going to let Romana know where we’re going?”

“Oh, I already let her know my full intentions when I came here.” His tone was dark and she thought back to the shouting she had heard when she had been in the Medic Bay.

“Doctor,” she said softly, “please don’t be angry at her. It wasn’t her fault.”

He stalked up to her, his eyes ablaze. “Yes, it is. I entrusted her to keep you safe and she failed.”

“No, I had the choice and I took it. Be angry with me, but not with her.”

“Do you want me to be angry with you?”

“No, not really. But I really don’t want you to be angry with her either.”

“Fine. I’ll have a more civilized chat with her later.”

She nodded. “Thank-you.”

His face softened and he cupped her face again. Then he leaned in and placed an almost chaste kiss on her lips. He went to pull back but she wrapped her arms around his neck and deepened the kiss. She hadn’t seen him in more than three years and her body yearned for him. He made a pleased noise in the back of his throat and wrapped his arms around her waist, matching her ardor.

The kiss turned into something more animalistic and Rose found herself being roughly pushed against the door, her hands held above her head, held firmly but the Doctor’s one hand. He was flush against her, and he trailed kisses down her neck, his other hand ghosting her breast. She moaned and arched into him.

A firm knocking on the door right behind her startled them and the Doctor groaned in exasperation. “What now?” he bellowed, making Rose giggle. He was still pressed firmly against her, his arousal evident. He shot her a grin and reluctantly let go of her hands and stepped back. He ran a hand through his hair. “Every bloody time. I swear the universe is conspiring against me.”

“Doctor?” Romana called from the other side.

Rose stepped away from the door, smoothing down her hair. She looked down at her tattered clothing. She would need a good bath and new clothes. “Talk to her. I’m going to get cleaned up. And be nice,” she warned playfully as she stepped out of the room to go and find her room. She heard the Doctor open the door and say, “Romana, for a Time Lady, you sure have atrocious timing.”

She grinned to herself. At least he wasn’t as angry as before. Maybe frustrated, but no longer angry.

 

Freshly showered and in clean clothes, Rose made her way to the console room. “Where are we?” she asked the Doctor, whom she found sitting in his armchair by the bookshelf.

He extended his hand and when she took it he pulled her onto his lap. She wrapped her arms around his neck and he nuzzled lazily at her neck. This was a new form of affection, one that caught her a bit off guard.

“Miss me?” she teased.

“More than you know.”

She blinked in surprise at his openness and honesty. The Doctor, well the older Doctor, kept his heart and emotions well guarded. He would have made a flippant remark or have quickly changed the subject. But this younger version of him was nothing like that. She peered into his eyes and leaned down to kiss him tenderly. His hand that had been resting on her waist ghosted down to her upper thigh, making her gasp into his mouth. She pulled back and searched his face, wanting to know where this was going? Were they finally going to cross the line? Was he willing to take that final step?

She caressed the side of his cheek, the stubble prickly against her palm, and he closed his eyes in contentment and leaned into her touch. “I missed you, too,” she whispered.

He slowly opened his eyes and stared at her. She saw thoughts flickering through his eyes. He was having the same internal struggle as she was. But it was with disappointment that she saw him pull up those walls again and slowly disentangle himself from her. He stood and looked at her for a moment before he said, “I think it would be best if I get some rest. Afterwards we can go look into something that Romana asked me to take a look at.”

She nodded mutely and watched him leave the console room. She shouldn’t have been surprised. He always got scared and ran when things became too emotionally complicated. But knowing that didn’t hurt the sting and ache in her chest. She really had been hoping that he would be brave and take the plunge.

She blinked back the tears that were threatening to fall and made her way to her room. She still felt exhausted from her run-in with that creature and having to use her powers. And now she felt emotionally rung out. Maybe everything would be better after a few hours of sleep.

 

Rose awoke abruptly. The room was dark and she couldn’t see a thing. But something had awoken her.

“It’s only me,” the Doctor said quietly.

“What’s wrong?” she asked groggily.

He was silent for a while and she wondered if he was going to answer. “I…I was wondering if I could join you?”

She blinked, still unable to see his silhouette. But she was too tired to ask questions and if truth be told, she really wanted to be held by him. She pulled back the comforter on the other side of the bed and patted it clumsily, a silent invitation. She heard him let out a breath he was holding and he gracefully climbed in next to her. She rolled over, her back to him and without a word, he cuddled into her, spooning her. He let out a contented sigh and soon both he and Rose fell back into a deep sleep.

 

A few hours later she woke up, surprised to feel the Doctor’s arm still wrapped tightly around her waist, his breathing deep and even against her neck. He must have been exhausted, to sleep this long. When was the last time he had gotten any shut-eye?

She wriggled a little and his arm tightened around her, pulling her even tighter up against him. Then she felt his nose nuzzle against her neck, breathing in her scent. She couldn’t be sure if he was awake or asleep.

“Sleep well?” he asked huskily, his voice still heavy with sleep.

“Yeah. You?”

“I haven’t slept this well since the last time we slept together,” he replied and kissed her on the neck, his arm loosening around her waist. But instead of pulling away, he ran his hand over her stomach, which was now bare as her skimpy pajama top had ridden up. He traced lazy circles over her stomach, while still nuzzling at her neck. Rose could feel her pulse speeding up, anticipation vibrating through her. But his reaction earlier on wormed its way into her mind.

“Doctor.”

“Mmmm,” he murmured.

“You know you’re giving me mixed signals, right?”

He froze. She rolled over in his arms and looked up at him. He was guardedly watching her.

“It’s just, you’re kissing me and feeling me up and making me think that you want more. But then you pull back, put up that wall and insist on distance. I can’t play these games anymore, Doctor. It’s not fair.”

He didn’t move, just kept staring at her with those guarded bedroom eyes of his. “What do you want from me?” she finally asked softly.

He swallowed hard. She knew that the Doctor did not deal well with direct confrontation. But she had to know where she stood, where all of this was going? She couldn’t stand being toyed with any more. She knew that last thought was unfair. The Doctor was not like that. But he wasn’t one to be direct and forthcoming either.

“Everything,” he finally said so softly, that if she hadn’t been listening she would not have heard it.

“But you won’t allow yourself to cross that barrier.” She said it with neither bitterness nor resentment. Just a simple statement.

“I can’t,” he replied, pushing himself out of bed. He was clad only in pajama bottoms. He ran his hand through his hair. “I want you, but I know it would be a very bad idea to so.”

“Why?” she asked, sitting up in bed. She knew she shouldn’t be pushing, that she should just leave it be. He just continued to stare at her, his face worn and haggard.

She swallowed. He had his reason, some of which he had voiced three years ago. But things had changed. But she knew she couldn’t force him into doing something that scared him. She climbed out of bed and walked over to him and took his one hand in her own. “I’m sorry,” she said softly.

He frowned, confused. “For what?”

“Trying to push you. I should know better. Let’s just leave it be, okay?”

He didn’t seem to believe her, if the look in his eye was anything to go by. She continued, “I love you Doctor. I don’t expect you to say it back. And I’m fine with that. This is how you are, always have been. But can I ask one thing?”

“Which is?” he asked cautiously.

“Can we still continue making out? It’s kinda fun,” she said grinning, poking her tongue out.

He barked out a laughter, all tension leaving him. She had offered him a way out. They both knew it. They both knew how they felt about each other, but it was unchartered territory. A scary path the Doctor was unwilling to travel down. So she would take his hand and travel down the path he chose for them. It would be enough. It had to be.

 

“So what did Romana want you to do?” she asked. They had gotten dressed and had headed to the console room.

“You remember that creature you encountered?”

“How could I forget?” she asked sarcastically.

“What do you know about it?”

“Only what Ted told me. That it was an experiment made by the Daleks.”

The Doctor nodded in affirmation. “The Daleks have been busy. They created the Skaro Degradation, a smaller version of themselves but with three metallic legs. They are highly unpredictable and volatile and even more vicious that Daleks.”

“Didn’t think anything could be more vicious than a Dalek,” she muttered.

“You would think so. But Daleks believe in the extermination of anything that is not Dalek. They simply exterminate. Torture is not their way.”

Rose blinked. The Doctor had a point. A very valid point. “And these Skaro Degradation, do they torture?”

“No, they are still Dalek in nature. But I have come across many monsters, even more so in this war, that take great pleasure in torture.”

Rose felt a little sick but she nodded her understanding. The Doctor continued, either choosing to ignore her discomfort or not noticing it at all. Like any war, soldiers are hardened by what they see and experience. “Now they have created another monstrosity, with the help of the Deathsmiths of Goth.”

“Deathsmiths of Goth?”

“Would you believe me if I told you they are scarier than Daleks?” he asked ruefully, though his face was totally serious ad devoid of any humor.

“Maybe.”

“They are expert weapon designers, creating some of the most devastating weapons ever known.”

“Like?” She couldn’t help but ask, even though she didn’t really want to know the answer.

“Most recently they invented the Apocalypse Device.”

“Bad as it sounds?” she queried, biting her thumb nail.

“Yes. But it went out of control and started killing them off. So in order to contain it, they had to destroy all the spaceships on their planet Goth, leaving the Apocalypse Device stranded on it among the ruins.”

“So what happened to them if they had to evacuate their planet?”

“I really wish they had all been wiped out. They are a dangerous race. But a few survived and these survivors are helping the Daleks. There’s speculation that they helped the Daleks create the Nightmare Child.”

“The what now?” Rose asked incredulously. She suddenly realised how uneducated she was in this war. She knew absolutely nothing about what was happening out there. She should have grilled Romana, but the President kept tight-lipped about the subject, only giving Rose updates about the Doctor’s whereabouts and well-being. But hearing it now from the Doctor, she suddenly realised how much they had both sheltered her. And she didn’t like it. Starting from now, she resolved to fight by his side, doing what she could to help. Her time of training was over. Now it was time to be a soldier.

“The Nightmare Child. A creature that can manipulate one’s deepest and darkest fears telepathically and turn a strong person mad in seconds. Imagine living your worst fear, thinking it was real, and unable to fight it because you’re so terrified you’re practically immobilized by fear.” The Doctor shook his head, his gaze narrowed at the monitor as he talked.

Rose shuddered. The implications were terrifying, to say the least. She tried not to think about going mad from the fear. “And Romana wants us to destroy it?”

“If we can,” he conceded.

“Any ideas on how?” she asked hopefully.

He turned and grinned, though it never reached his eyes. “Not a clue.”

She groaned. “It’s never simple.”

“Nothing in this War ever is,” he mused.

“How bad is it?” she asked. “Romana never really told me anything, just letting me know every now and then that you were okay.”

His eyes took on a haunted look, but he quickly shook his head. “Bad,” was all he said.

She closed the distance between them and grabbed his hand. “Together.”

He nodded once. “Together.”

Chapter Text

The Doctor was staring at the monitor, seeing if the scanner picked up anything. Rose stood silently by his side, watching the screen with intent.

“There,” the Doctor stated, pointing at the monitor. Rose leaned in closer and gave a small gasp at the huge mass that appeared on the screen.

“How big?”

“Too big,” he replied.

“Helpful,” she muttered, but shot him a grin. “So do we go in blindly or do you have a plan?”

“Do I usually have a plan?”

“Yeah, but they usually never work out.”

His eyes twinkled in merriment. “Usually they don’t, but every once in a while things do go according to plan.”

“Not since I’ve known you.”

He just smirked, still looking at the monitor. “I’m going to pilot the Tardis to a location near the Nightmare Child. Let’s see what we’re up against.”

She nodded and held on tightly to the edge of the console as he dematerialized the Tardis and landed her on his set co-ordinates, the ride bumpy as the Tardis protested. Rose could sense the discomfort of the Tardis. It usually didn’t bode well when the Tardis showed fear. She finally landed with a shudder and then remained silent, her interior growing dimmer. The Doctor patted the console reassuringly and strode to the doors, Rose close behind him.

They stood just outside the doors of the Tardis. They were on a rugged mountain that overlooked a lush green world down below. Crystal blue rivers flowed through the greenery, painting a picturesque scenery below. A cool breeze swirled around, making Rose shiver slightly and she zipped up her purple hoodie.

“It’s beautiful,” she said in awe. “You could almost imagine the war wasn’t going on here.”

“Almost,” he replied, his tone suddenly sharp. She turned to look at him, but he was looking behind them up into the sky and he silently pointed. She followed the direction he was pointing and froze. How had she not noticed it before?

To say it was big was an understatement. The word that came to mind was Leviathan, the sea monster. But this was no sea monster. This was a monstrosity, so enormous in mass swirling lazily in the blue sky, blotting out the sun and casting an ominous shadow over them. But it wasn’t solid, not quite. It definitely had a shape and form, but it seemed to ripple with shadows that made up its form. Multiple tentacles, more than Rose could count, stemmed out from its body. At the end of each tentacle were viciously sharp barbs. The body ended in a thick long tail, also covered in razor sharp spikes. The head was the most chilling of all. There were multitude of eyes, glowing an amber color within their depths. The mouth was an enormous cavern, an endless black hole, lined with jagged teeth that were bigger than she was. The shadows swirled around its head, giving the allusion of a thick mane.

“Why do they call it ‘Child’?” she finally whispered.

“It’s the Dalek Emperor’s creation, his child,” the Doctor whispered back.

“Somebody should tell him not to reproduce. He makes ugly children,” she muttered.

The Doctor snorted and stifled his laughter. He still continued to watch the monstrosity and he didn’t like the fact it was moving slowly towards them. It was a resilient creature, one that had avoided destruction since its creation. And now those amber eyes were trained on them, eyeing out its prey.

Rose felt a chill creeping up her spine, sending shivers of dread through her body. The planet seemed to have lost its glimmer of light, now cast in a hazy gloom. She felt the Doctor grab her hand. “In the Tardis now,” he said calmly, though the tension radiating from him belied his fears. They both backed into the Tardis, seemingly unable to tear their gazes from the Nightmare Child. But before the Doctor could reach the console the Tardis was pitched into utter darkness. Rose tried to call out to the Doctor, but her voice seemed to be frozen. She strained to listen for his breathing, but dead silence greeted her. She stumbled forward clumsily, her hands outstretched before her as she tried to navigate her way through the darkness. A rumble of malicious laughter echoed through the console room and Rose froze. She suspected that she was no longer in the console room. She would have bumped into something by now. So where was she? She calmed her breathing and tried to think. What had the Doctor told her about the Nightmare Child? It telepathically attacked, using a person’s deepest and darkest fears against them. She had a feeling she was about to find out what her fears were.

A child’s tinkling laughter echoed behind her and Rose whirled around. But it wasn’t the normal sound of laughter from a child. This laughter was laced with malice. She shivered again. Then the darkness gradually ebbed away, though not completely, but at least she could make out her surroundings in the gloom. She was in a dank dungeon, or so she thought. It was a large room made of slab stone. Against one wall was a mirror and Rose peered at it. She looked normal. Hair tied up in a ponytail. She wore a grey hoodie and faded blue jeans paired with simple white sneakers.

“Ah, there you are!” a voice exclaimed. Rose whirled around. She had been absolutely certain she had been alone and there were no doors to be seen. There was now a simple wooden table and two chairs behind her and the Doctor sat back in one of the chairs, his feet resting on the table, crossed at the ankles, tilting the chair back confidently. But this was her Doctor. The one with the fantastic brown hair and long brown coat and pinstriped suit. He was looking up at the ceiling, twirling his sonic screwdriver in his one hand.

She knew this wasn’t real. There was no way he could be here. This thing was playing with her mind.

“Oh, but I am real. As real as you want me to be,” he purred huskily. He gracefully stood and stalked to her until he finally stood in front of her.

“Or I could be,” came another identical voice. She turned her head and saw the metacrisis, dressed in his dark blue suit, leaning against the wall, hands thrust deep in his pockets. He pulled his hands out his pocket and pushed away from the wall, coming to stand behind Rose.

“We could both be real, if you let us,” the metacrisis said from behind her, placing his hands on her hips. The Doctor in front of her placed his hands on her shoulders. She was effectively sandwiched between them.

She swallowed hard as both leaned down at the same time and kissed her on either side of her neck. She had to think, but it was so distracting, what they were doing. “You’re supposed to be a thing of nightmares. This isn’t a nightmare,” she gulped.

The Doctor in front of her chuckled against her neck and murmured. “Give yourself to me, Rose. I can give you what he has always denied you.”

She closed her eyes. This wasn’t right. He looked and sounded like the Doctor. But the Doctor would not act like this. This was all an illusion.

“You’re right. But I would give you everything. Even my heart,” the metacrisis said from behind her. She opened her eyes and the Doctor was gone. Just her and the metacrisis. She stared at their reflections in the mirror. He now had his arms wrapped around her waist, his chin resting on her shoulder, watching her with those brown timeless eyes. Yes, the metacrisis had given her everything. His heart, his soul, his love. But this wasn’t him and her heart ached for the man she loved. She pulled away from him.

“You’re not him,” she snarled. She couldn’t let herself be tricked.

“Really. How can you be sure?” he asked, arching an eyebrow.

“I just know,” she answered stubbornly, crossing her arms over her chest.

His lips quirked in a smile. “Do you really know the Doctor that well, that you can say with absolute certainty that I am not him? How well do you know your Doctor, Rose Tyler?”

She opened her mouth to protest, but uncertainty crept into her mind like a poison. How well did she really know him, he who kept his secrets well guarded? She shook her head. “No, I will not let you deceive me!”

“Perhaps I should show you all about your sanctimonious Doctor,” he chuckled and suddenly she was alone in the room and the mirror rippled and then she was watching the Doctor.

He was older, his face drawn and haggard, framed by thin white hair. He stood in a cave, a rock clutched in his hand and Rose watched in horror as he strode with purpose to a man. A man who looked like he was a caveman. A man who was injured and lying helplessly on the dusty cave floor, his eyes full of fear. The Doctor stopped in front of him and lifted his arm in the air, preparing to strike the fatal blow. Rose’s eyes grew wide with horror, a scream of protest trapped in her throat. Would he really kill the man? Did he have justifiable means do commit such an act? Even if he did, to take a life was not something he would do. She turned abruptly, refusing to watch the outcome and came face to face with the Doctor, the one who wore the brown pinstripes. He was grinning widely.

“That was me in my first body. Ooh, such a long, long time ago,” he crooned and firmly placed his hands on her shoulder, forcing her to turn back to the scene. The mirror was thankfully blank now. “Want to see more?” he whispered in her ear.

She shook her head and tried vainly to struggle out of his grasp, but he had an iron grip on her. He roughly shoved her into a chair that had materialised behind her, and when she tried to stand back up, she found her wrists and ankles bound to the chair. He knelt in front of her and said in a cold voice, “I was thinking of ways to torment you. Torture. Mutilation. Making you watch your loved ones die excruciating deaths. But then I settled for the truth. Making you watch the truth of what your Doctor is really like, deep down inside. Like they say, nothing hurts more than the truth. Now enjoy the show,” he said casually, walking to stand behind her. Whether to watch the ‘show’ or to watch her, she had no idea.

The mirror rippled again and she was now staring at a younger version of the Doctor. But now he had darker hair that was cut in a Beetles style haircut. He was standing before a committee of other Time Lords, calmly stating that he saw no wrong in his actions of interference. He continued to belittle the Time Lords on their stance of no interference policy. The video flashed forward and Rose watched as a man and a woman, the two she guessed to be companions, have their memories wiped and returned to their lives where they had left off before they met the Doctor.

“Jamie and Zoe,” the Doctor said softly from behind her. “Because of the Doctor they had their memories erased.”

“Not such a bad punishment,” Rose answered back.

“No? They would never know of all the great thigs they did, all the lives they saved. They would continue in their lives thinking that they were just normal and would never amount to much or accomplish anything. The Doctor could go back and restore their memories, but he hasn’t. He decided to move on and forget them.”

Rose swallowed hard. A conversation from so long ago materialised in her mind. I have been to the year five billion, right, but this…now this is really seeing the future. You just leave us behind. Is that what you’re going to do to me?

“Ooh, look at me now,” he crowed. She still couldn’t see him from behind her. But when she looked up she now saw that the Doctor looked older again. He had bouffant grey hair and a rather large beak-like nose. He wore a velvet suit with red trimming and had a cape! A good-to-honest cape. His white shirt was frilly and he wore a bow tie. She watched as he and another Time Lord, the Master, pitted against each other time and time again. And every time the Doctor showed leniency, asked for mercy to be shown to the Master.

“He showed mercy to his friend. Why is that such a bad thing?” Rose asked, her eyes still firmly glued to the screen. She discreetly tested her restraints, but they still held fast.

She almost jumped as she felt a warm breath on her ear, his voice seductively purring in her ear. “By letting the Master live, so many died at the hands of the Master. Countless deaths that could have been avoided if he had simply ended the tyranny of the Master.”

“No, those deaths are on the Master’s conscience. Not the Doctor’s,” Rose protested.

“Are you so sure, dear Rose? He knew how mad and evil the Master was and each time he let him loose to cause even more death and destruction. No, those deaths are definitely, though indirectly, his fault.” Rose felt herself growing colder at his words. His lips ghosted over the flesh of her neck, but she felt little desire or warmth from the action.

“No,” she retaliated feebly.

She felt him grin against her neck. “Oh yes, sweet Rose.” Abruptly he stood straight, walking away from her and Rose let out a breath she hadn’t realised she had been holding. It felt easier to think. She had to think. The Doctor’s information had been wrong. This creature didn’t cause paralysing fear. This was a creature a great intelligence and cunning. But what was its end game? It had seemed keen for her to join it. But what purpose would that accomplish? Then she felt a jolt of fear course through her as a thought sneaked its way into her mind. Bad Wolf. If the Nightmare Child could harness Bad Wolf, or the power of Bad Wolf, it would be unstoppable. And in order to have that power it needed to control her. And the only way to do that was to break her. Rose felt properly scared now. Her control over Bad Wolf was better than three years ago, but it didn’t mean that she couldn’t lose control. And she was terrified of what would happen if she lost that control.

He chuckled wickedly and Rose turned her head, her face an open mask of horror. He was leaning against the wall, inspecting his fingernails, an air of nonchalance about him. “Not yet, my sweet Rose. There’s still so much you have to see.” He lifted his head and gave her a slow, sly grin that made her insides twist in fear. She had never seen such coldness, such promise of pain in the eyes of her Doctor. It made all the more worse that this creature was wearing his face, impersonating him.

He stepped back and faded into the gloom and Rose frantically looked around for him. Suddenly the screen flared to life, making Rose squint from the brightness.

Her eyes widened at the person she saw on the screen. He had a thick mane of curly brown hair and a wide white grin. His pants were brown tweed, as was his vest that was covered by a knee high brown coat. He wore a wide brimmed hat and a scarf that was multi-colored and impossibly long that Rose wondered how he never tripped on it. And then she watched as the Doctor received a summons to come back to Gallifrey and left Sarah Jane Smith on the side of a road in another town, far away from her home.

“He just left her there. Never went back to see her. For a companion that he professed he cared for, he sure had a weird way of showing it. Tell me, Rose, how many times has he left you, a companion that he supposedly loves?” the voice said softly from behind her.

She involuntarily closed her eyes, trying to blot out the memories of the spaceship and France and Madame de Pompadour. Of being abandoned there for five and a half hours, not knowing if he was ever going to come back. She remembered clearly the fear of wondering if he was ever going to return and if he didn’t, how she and Mickey were going to get back home. And the jealousy of wondering what he was doing with that French courtesan. The memory of running from the Dalek in an underground bunker in Utah and how the Doctor shut the door before she could reach it, leaving her to her death. How he sent her back when they faced certain death in the Gamestation. How he ran off and left her to become a faceless, mindless shell courtesy of The Wire. And how she was separated from him in the parallel world, knowing she would never see him again.

“He had his reasons,” she croaked, her voice thick with unshed tears. No, she shouldn’t be letting this creature play mind games with her. It was just messing with her mind, trying to crack her open enough to worm its way in.

“Keep telling yourself that. A man of his genius could find other alternatives.”

“Yeah, like what?” she snapped.

“Let’s start with Madame de Pompadour.”

Rose stilled, dreading to hear what he was going to tell her. “Did he really have to go through that mirror, cutting off the link?”

“He had to.”

“Really? I think he wanted some alone time with the courtesan. You have to admit, she is a rather beautiful woman and highly intelligent. Such poise and grace…”

“Stop it!” Rose ground out through clenched teeth. The memory still hurt. It still hurt knowing that he had fallen in love with this woman after barely knowing her for a few hours. And that kiss. She had never told him, but she had seen it. And she still felt her heart break each time she thought about it.

He came and stood in front of her and tilted her face up to look at him. She couldn’t stop the tears that trickled slowly down her cheeks. His face took on a tenderness and he knelt in front of her, gently wiping the tears from her cheeks with his thumbs.

“I would never hurt you like that. I would cherish you. I would give you everything he has always denied you.”

Rose jerked her head away and glared at him. “You are a creature of nightmares. You know nothing about love!”

He stayed kneeling in front of her, hands clasped in front of him. “You may have been told that I feed on fear. And for the most part it is true. But I am also a highly intelligent being, capable of feeling.”

“I doubt that,” she snapped.

She expected him to be angry but he just shrugged and stood, motioning for her look at the screen. Unwillingly her eyes darted to the screen and she was met with the sight of a youngish looking Doctor with blonde hair and dressed in a cricket attire, even topped off with a hat. She almost laughed when she saw the stalk of celery pinned to his lapel.

“This is my fifth incarnation…”

“Why do you keep referring to yourself as the Doctor? You know perfectly well that I’m not fooled,” she interrupted.

He stepped back in front of her and extended his hand to stroke her cheek. “Because I am in his mind, right now. I know everything about him. I could be him. I could give you what you desire if only you would give yourself to me.”

“And what is it that I desire?”

“His love,” he replied simply.

Rose shook her head, “It would still be just an illusion.”

“Only if you keep holding on so tight to reality.”

“And let you destroy all of time and space for the simple illusion of love. I’d rather die!” she spat out.

His hand retreated and he stood there, studying her. “Well, then, I suppose I could change this up and make all your nightmares come true.”

“Then why haven’t you?”

He didn’t reply, but simply faded away again, leaving Rose to watch as Adric sacrificed himself, his last words to the Doctor being, ‘Now I’ll never know if I was right’. She watched sorrowfully as Tegan begged the Doctor to go back in time and save him, which he resolutely refused.

“I let him sacrifice himself. I could have saved him,” he said softly from behind her. “Adric was so young, a genius in his own right. So much potential and I let that flame be extinguished.”

Rose clenched her eyes shut, wishing she could block out his manipulative words. She had to hold on. She could not believe his lies. But were they really lies? She knew that the Nightmare Child had both her and the Doctor in its clutches and had delved deep into both their minds. Otherwise how could it know so much about both of them?

“Now you’re in for a treat,” he said, suddenly changing his tone. Rose’s eyes sprang open and she was greeted with the image of a man with curly hair and dressed in garish clothes, the colors screaming wildly at her, making her eyes hurt. He looked like a clown. And he was strangling a woman on the floor, his eyes murderous, his body taut with tension and anger and hate.

“My companion, Peri. I do have a habit of treating my companions badly, don’t I?”

Rose couldn’t reply, her eyes glued on the image before her. How could the Doctor try to kill a companion of his? Was this all a trick, a warped version, a lie of the Nightmare Child?

“Shame on you, Rose Tyler. This is no lie. I told you, I have chosen to show you the truth. The truth about the Doctor. Remember, I have been inside both your minds, your memories…your fears and hopes.” The last was said softly with a hint of promise and Rose shivered in dread.

The image faded out and now she was looking at a short man who was rotund in the middle. He wore plaid pants and a pullover adorned with red question marks. He wore an off-white jacket with a red plaid scarf worn under the lapels. On top of his head was a Panama style hat with a red trim and he held onto an umbrella with which the handle was crafted to look like a question mark. He looked quite peculiar, though his beady eyes showed cunning and deviousness. He was standing behind a pretty young girl with blonde hair and wearing a bomber-style jacket. She was in tears and all he was doing was staring at the back of her with a look akin to distaste. They were in a gloomy lit room in a house that looked to be in the stages of derelict.

“I bought her here, her home in Perivale, where she had a very…troubled past. I made her face her demons. She told me she wanted to face them on her own terms but I knew best. She had to face them when I said so. How horrible to have your memories of an abusive childhood assail you when you are not ready.”

“There must have been a good reason for him to do so. The Doctor is not callous.”

“I beg to differ. I was very devious and manipulative in my seventh incarnation. Played people and situations like chess pieces to achieve the outcome I desired. Shall I show you what happened when we met Fenric?”

“Who?”

“An ancient evil since the dawn of time.”

“Doesn’t explain much.”

“It explains everything.” He stopped and then decided to elaborate. “Fenric was an evil entity, almost a god in a sense. Exceptionally good at chess. But I bested him and imprisoned him. So he started manipulating events to ensure his escape and those that he manipulated or touched were called his Wolves. And Ace was one of his wolves.”

“That girl there?”

“Yes.”

Rose was silent a bit longer until she eventually said, “She’s so young.”

“Sixteen. Three years younger than you were when you first met me.”

Rose startled, a surprised gasp escaping her lips, as she was sure she had heard a Northern burr at the end. She turned her head slowly and her eyes widened as she saw her first Doctor with short shorn hair and piercing blue eyes and big ears and leather jacket. Her eyes hungrily raked over him, her heart aching as she knew she would never see this version of him again.

“Miss me?” he asked, those blue eyes twinkling brightly, his arms crossed over his chest in such a familiar manner.

Rose felt a lump form in her throat and she had to look away so he would not see the tears forming in her eyes. She was now wishing she had been shown her fears. Her breaking heart was more painful than any fear could be.

She felt strong arms pull her out of the chair and envelope her in a tight and comforting embrace. She inhaled the scent of leather, letting the familiar smell comfort her, even though she knew it was an illusion, and unconsciously held tightly to the lapels of his jacket. She hadn’t realised that she had been crying until he pulled back slightly and wiped the tears away with his thumb. Then he slowly leaned down and kissed her. It was a soft, tender kiss, one that was full of love and reverence. Her eyes fluttered closed and she melted into the kiss, snaking her arms around his neck. His large hands splayed against the small of her back, pulling her gently closer to him. This was how she had always imagined a kiss with this him would be like. For all his gruffness, he displayed an enormous amount of protectiveness and gentleness towards her. He acted as he protector. She always felt safe in his arms. Strong arms that would always safeguard her.

He pulled back and cradled her face in his palms, his eyes shining with love. “Say you’ll be mine, Rose. Please.”

She smiled gently back at him and stroked his cheek, watching as his eyes fluttered closed to the touch.

“No.”

His eyes flew open in disbelief and she swiftly stepped out of his embrace. She swallowed hard at the look of hurt in those piercing blue eyes of his. “I could give you everything you desire, Rose.”

“Any version of me,” said another familiar voice as the Doctor in brown stepped into view to stand beside his leather-clad self.

“All you have to do is let go and give yourself to me,” the metacrisis joined in, coming to stand on the other side of the leather-clad Doctor.

Rose shook her head. “It would all still be a lie.”

“But I have shown you the truth,” a baritone voice said behind her and she whirled around, coming face to face with the eighth Doctor. He started circling her. “I have shown you that the Doctor is not who you think he is. How can you love someone you know absolutely nothing about? The Doctor has kept so many secrets from you, has pushed you away so many times. He will never admit or give in to his feelings, if he even feels anything for you.”

“But I could give you all that and so much more, Rose,” the Doctor in brown chimed in. the eighth had stopped circling and now stood directly to her left, while the tenth stood to her right. She didn’t know which way to look.

The metacrisis started walking until he stood behind her and whispered in her ear. “I could give you passion. I could give you love. I could make you forget all the hurt he has caused you.”

Her leather clad Doctor strode to stand directly in front of her and laid his hands gently on her shoulders. “All you have to do is give yourself to me. And you could have all of this. No barriers to hold us back.”

She was effectively surrounded and she felt her heart hammering in her chest. She was surrounded by four versions of the same man whom she loved with every fibre of her being. “You’re right,” she said slowly, watching Ninth grin triumphantly. “I don’t know everything about the Doctor. He has a dark past, which he has kept from me. He has secrets that he will never tell me. But you know what?” she asked, watching confusion flicker in his eyes. “I know that I will never know everything about him. I know that there are things in his past that he has done that he is not proud of. But I know I don’t love him any less because of it. Because I know he has changed. He is not the same man he was in those past lives. And he is certainly not the man you portraying him to be. You can offer me everything, but it doesn’t change the fact that you are not him. And my heart belongs to him and him alone!” she snarled, fury twisting taut inside of her like a tightly wound spring. She felt the power of Bad Wolf arising inside of her and she welcomed it. Golden light started swirling around her and she watched as the four Doctors stepped back hastily, fear in their eyes. She prayed never to see that same fear in her Doctor’s eyes. “Enough of your games. You have lost, Nightmare Child!” she shouted, and closed her eyes, releasing the power raging within her. An unearthly scream shrieked around her and she felt the presence of the Nightmare Child swiftly and effectively retreat from her mind.

Her eyes sprang open and she found herself lying on the floor on the console room. Golden light was still swirling around her and she took a few deep breaths forcing the power back into hibernation. She sat up and looked around until she saw the prone form of the Doctor lying close by. She scrambled over to him, laying her hands on his chest, sighing in relief when she felt his heartbeats.

“Doctor!” she called, gently tapping his cheek.

His eyes instantly flew open and he jolted upright, almost colliding with Rose. Rose held his arm to keep him stable and felt him trembling. He wildly looked around and then his eyes locked onto hers. He instantly wrapped her in a hug and she soothingly rubbed his back. He clutched at her so tightly she struggled to breathe. She felt his hearts hammering in his chest, his breathes ragged and his body trembling violently. All she could do was hold him until he had calmed down. She had never before seen the Doctor so utterly scared. He was usually so good at hiding it. She felt intense hatred towards the Nightmare Child, but she had to tamper down those feelings and concentrate on comforting the Doctor.

“It’s okay. It’s gone now,” she said softly.

“How?” he mumbled into her neck.

“Bad Wolf,” she said simply.

He pulled back and looked at her with haunted eyes. She wished she could wipe that look from his eyes, erase whatever the Nightmare Child had done to him. She wanted to ask what he had seen, but the back of her mind told her that it would not be a good idea. She watched as he slowly composed himself, though he never let loose his iron grip on her.

“Are you okay?” he finally asked. She could see the questions in his eyes. He, too, wanted to know what she had gone through, but likely thought it would be best not to ask directly.

“Yeah,” she replied, tucking a stray strand of hair behind her ear. “It didn’t show me my fears, not really. It was more interested in trying to get me to give myself to it.”

His brow furrowed. “What?”

She nodded once. “Yeah. It kept telling me to let go and give myself to it. Promised to give me everything I desired. It was very convincing. And highly intelligent. I think we greatly underestimated it.”

His frown deepened even more. “Interesting.”

“What is?”

He stared at her for a moment before replying in a deeper voice. “It showed me my worst fears, my worst nightmares. It seems like it wanted you, or your power, more than it wanted to feed off your fears.”

“Yeah, I sorta figured that out.”

They sat silently for a while, each lost in their own thoughts. Finally the Doctor asked, “How did it try to convince you?”

She looked down, both in shame and embarrassment. “Rose, what is it?” he persisted.

She shook her head and stood. “It’s nothing. Should we try and track it down?”

He stood too and grabbed her hand. “Rose, please tell me,” he urged. She looked into those blue grey eyes, so sincere and concerned.

“Are you going to tell me what it showed you?” she bit back.

He instantly dropped her hand as though burnt, his face becoming a neutral mask. “Thought not,” she said snarkily, walking over to the console. “Now let’s track this bastard down.”

“It showed me all my past companions. Their deaths caused by my actions. The ones that left because of things I did that I’m not proud of. It showed me all of time and space burning because of the war. The war I could have prevented if I had just destroyed Davros and Skaro when I was told to. I could hear each and every scream of every creature dying. And I saw you.”

She turned around slowly, shocked that he had actually admitted what he had been through. She had expected him to act like his future incarnations and clam shut and not reveal anything to her. And it broke her heart that she had been in his nightmares. She had been hoping that she would not be in them. She didn’t want the Doctor to look at her differently. She didn’t want it to be that every time he looked at her those memories would flood him and his look would turn haunted. She wanted to see light and joy in his eyes when he looked at her.

“What about me?” she asked, swallowing hard.

“I saw it convincing you to join it. Except it was impersonating me, promising to give you everything I could not.”

She looked down at the floor, guilt washing over her like a shameful tide. “It tried, showing me you and your two future regenerations and the metacrisis,” she admitted, her eyes still on the floor.

“Why didn’t you accept?”

She looked up at him sharply, wondering if he was serious. But she only saw curiosity in his eyes. “I mean, if it had shown me a life where I could be with you freely and love you unconditionally, I don’t think I would have been able to resist.” He explained further, seeing the look in her eye.

She nodded. “I didn’t accept because it would have been a lie. In my heart and soul I knew that it would not be you.”

“And you still want to be with me even though I cannot freely be with you and love you with no boundaries?”

“Yes.” She turned back to the monitor and started typing in some commands. “Now let’s find this thing and figure out a way to stop it.”

He came to stand beside her, though careful to keep his distance, which she was grateful for. It had been a shaming moment for her. When she had kissed the leather version of him, she had almost caved and given herself to the monster, giving it all up just to be with him. Even though she knew it was all an illusion. She felt tears pool in her eyes as she remember kissing him, feeling that unbridled love. Her heart and body ached for the closeness she had shared with him before in what felt like a lifetime ago. And maybe it was. But she was so achingly lonely, even though he was standing right beside her. But he would never give himself to her. Only a human version of himself.

She shook her head. No time for self-pity. They had a job to do. She went to touch a knob on the console and the Doctor grabbed her hand, entwining their fingers. She looked up into those eyes that she felt she could melt into and he gently smiled at her. He reached up and caressed her cheek with his free hand and leaned down, touching his lips gently to hers. She felt her eyes flutter closed and he deepened the kiss. But just as soon as it had begun he ended it with a chaste peck to her lips and he stepped back slightly, still keeping a hold of her hand. She slowly opened her eyes, feeling a bit confused.

Before she could ask he said softly, “Thank-you. For saving me.”

She nodded mutely. He still would not let down those barriers. He still would not let her in completely. And in a way, she hadn’t expected much to change between them.

“But I must ask – do you know what you’re doing?” he asked, gesturing to the controls that she had been toying with.

She grinned sheepishly. “A little. You showed me a bit about a year after I started travelling with you.”

“Uh-huh. Well, I’ll teach you later, but for now, please refrain from touching buttons. You might cause a nuclear explosion.”

“Is that what that knob would have done?” she asked, a little alarmed.

“No. But I wouldn’t put anything past you.”

“Cheeky,” she muttered.

“I try,” he said playfully, but she wasn’t fooled. He had been deeply shaken and disturbed by his encounter with the Nightmare Child and was trying to hide it with humor and playfulness. But if this was how he chose to cope then she would let him.

But right now they had to concentrate on the subject and had a mission to accomplish. Later they could work through their issues. “Okay, so we know it’s powerful and intelligent. So the question is – how do we destroy it, if it can even be destroyed?”

“There’s only one thing I can think of…” he mused, staring darkly at the monitor, typing commands into the keyboard.

“Which is?”

“It’s headed to the Gates of Elysium…”

“You’re kidding, right?”

He looked at her blankly. “No. see for yourself,” he replied, gesturing to the monitor.

She shook her head and chuckled. “No, Doctor. I meant the Gates of Elysium. Like heaven?”

Comprehension dawned on him. “Oh, right. Forgot about that.”

“So what is your guys version of The Gates of Elysium like?” she prodded.

He paused, thinking. “It’s nothing like the Greek mythology. The Gates of Elysium is a vital rift within the Vortex. One can harvest enormous amounts of energy from it, thus having a strong upper hand in the War. The Daleks and Time Lords are fighting for control over it as we speak.”

“So another battle is being waged there and we’re heading there to…what? Try and take the Gates and harness that power to destroy the Nightmare Child?” she asked incredulously.

“No, but it would have been a good plan if it was plausible.”

Rose rolled her eyes and he continued. “My original idea was to use the Gates to get the Nightmare Child sucked into the Void.”

“But we’d first have to gain control of the Gates and that’s going to be impossible, what with a battle going on there. I doubt the Daleks are going to let you just stroll in there and take over.”

“Yes, that is problematic,” he mused and then proceeded to pilot them to the outskirts, though a safe distance away, of the battle. Rose watched with sickening horror as she watched Daleks and Time Lords fire at each other’s fleets, decimating each other. And as fast as each were killed off, more came to replace them.

“It’s never-ending,” she exclaimed with horror laced in her voice.

The Doctor stood silently beside her, watching the monitor and thus the scene playing out. “This War has been never-ending.”

She glanced at him. His face was drawn and haggard, the tolls of the War showing on his features. “Hmmm, interesting,” he mused, reading something on the screen.

“What is it?”

“It seems the Daleks have turned on Davros and want him exterminated at the first opportune moment.”

Rose stilled, realising the moment to be silent and let it play out had come. Davros would survive and make an appearance in the future with more Daleks he had created. Should she remain silent and let him be destroyed, thus changing the future – her future? But how could she bring herself to save such a despicable being? She didn’t know if she had it in her to try.

“What are you going to do?” she asked, hoping her voice didn’t betray anything.

The Doctor glanced over at her and narrowed his eyes. “You know what happens?”

She swallowed. “Not exactly. I don’t know the details. I only know the end outcome.”

“Cryptic. Best not to tell me any more.”

She nodded in affirmation, resolving to keep her mouth shut and let this play out how it was supposed to. “Now I know what you mean by too much foreknowledge is a dangerous thing to have.”

He smiled sadly at her. “I know it’s hard, especially when it comes to such a hateful being such as Davros.”

“Yeah,” she half-heartedly agreed. “Look,” she said, pointing to the monitor. The Nightmare Child was now making its way to the battle, unnoticed yet by the Daleks and Time Lords.

It took a split second for the Doctor to spring into action. He was on the commutations system, warning all of the impending danger that was heading their way. Then he started fiddling with the dials until he had it narrowed down to one and Davros’ face appeared on the screen. Rose discreetly stepped out of view. She did not need him recognising her in the future.

“Davros. Please listen to me. Your creations have turned on you. They plan to have you destroyed at the first opportunity.”

“Do not mistake me for an idiot, Doctor. I am their creator! They would never betray me,” came his harsh reply. Rose bit on her tongue to stop making a sarcastic retort. She moved further away quietly.

“Please, Davros. You have to believe me…”

“Why would I believe your lies? You would say and do anything to win this War,” he shouted and abruptly cut off communications.

The Doctor slammed his fist down on the console. “I have to try and save him.”

“Leave it, Doctor. He never listens. You should know that by now,” she said bitterly, images from her last encounter with Davros still swirling in her mind.

He looked up at her sharply and she sighed. “But I agree with you. He doesn’t deserve that kind of betrayal. So how do we save him?”

His brow furrowed. “I don’t know.”

Suddenly the Nightmare Child broke through the fleets and screeched a bloodcurdling scream that was heard by all. It opened its jaws wide, sharp serrated teeth showing and swallowed the ships nearby whole.

She came to stand beside him and watched in absolute horror as the Nightmare Child swallowed more ships and Davros’ screams cut off abruptly.

“Was that…”

“Yes, Davros was swallowed up by the Nightmare Child.”

“That’s…that’s just awful.” And she meant it. She couldn’t imagine such a fate, but then she remembered that Davros survived, rescued by Dalek Caan. This was not his end.

Suddenly a blinding white beam of energy shot out from one of the ships and hit the Nightmare Child. It wailed in agony, badly wounded, but not defeated and fled. Rose watched as the Time Lords secured the Gates of Elysium as they gained power and resumed their fighting with the Daleks. Blasts of energy emitted, wiping out Daleks. She watched as the Time Lords entered the rift.

“Where are they going?” she asked in panic.

“Skaro. Home world of the Daleks,” he replied.

“They’re going to destroy it?”

“They’ll try.”

“Are we going to follow them?”

“I think we best stay out of this one. Besides I have to report back to Romana and see what other assignment she has for me or if she wants me to resume my position of Commander.”

Rose was still staring at the screen, her eyes locked on the carnage. “This isn’t as bad as it gets, is it?” she finally asked, turning to look at him.

He said nothing, instead starting the dematerialization sequence, swiftly piloting them back to the Citadel and back to Romana. When they had landed he turned to her with haunted eyes. “Some battles are worse than others,” was all he said as he strode to the door, Rose following close behind him.

He stopped by the door, hand on the handle and turned to her. “You’ve been working on your mental shields?”

She nodded. “Good. Keep them up at all times. There are other Time Lords in there with Romana, and as far as I know, she has kept you secret as best as she could. I don’t want those bureaucrats to think they could use you as a weapon.”

“Would they really try?”

“Yes. This war has been waging for over fifty years, Rose. It has hardened them. Made them desperate and calloused. They would be willing to try anything at this stage.”

She nodded her understanding and the Doctor sighed deeply. “Right. Into the den of wolves we go.”

He opened the door and they were assailed with raised voices, a heavy dispute being waged amongst the group. Romana was standing behind her desk and noticed them first, her face paling. The group of men, about eight in all, turned as one and stared at the two.

“Doctor,” Romana greeted tensely.

“Romana,” he replied, tilting his head slightly.

“We wondered why you left the battle so abruptly. Now the answer is clear,” mused an older looking man with grey hair and a grey beard to match. His eyes were small and sharp, looking at Rose with calculation.

“What is a human doing here? Did you sanction this, Romana?” another man asked incredulously. He was tall and thin with thick brown hair that was starting to turn grey at the sides.

Romana sighed. “Yes, and I expect you to show some courtesy towards her. May I introduce Rose Tyler, companion of the Doctor.”

Rose nervously waved. “Hello.”

All stared at her with stony expressions, except one. He was tall and lanky, but held his posture straight and assuredly. His dark brown hair was combed neatly to the side and sensible glasses perched primly on his thin nose. He had his hands clasped behind his back, and there was a hint of a smile on his thin lips. His brown eyes twinkled as though he found this all amusing, but didn’t dare voice his amusement.

All at once the other Time Lords raised their voices, turning their attentions to Romana and ignoring the Doctor and Rose.

The tall Time Lord with glasses sidled discreetly up to them and extended his hand in greeting. “Pleasure to meet you, Miss Tyler.”

She shook his hand, and cringed at how clammy her hand felt. “Call me Rose.”

“Pleasure, Rose. I am Irving Braxiatel. Though Braxiatel will be just fine.” He turned to the Doctor, his demeanor stiff once more. “Doctor.”

“Braxiatel.”

Braxiatel turned his attention to the throng of bickering Time Lords. Romana was wearing a mask of diplomacy, though anyone could tell that she wanted to pull her hair out at the moment. “Once again you surprise us, Doctor. May I enquire as to why you have bought Rose into such dangerous times?”

“Quite accidently, I can assure you,” the Doctor voiced.

“Ah. Such is the case with you. So tell me Doctor, is Rose the secret that Romana has been trying to keep hidden these last three years?”

“You always were too damn perceptive for your own good, Braxiatel,” the Doctor remarked, his eyes still on the other Time Lords, though his voice held amusement. Rose got the feeling that the Doctor didn’t find Braxiatel a threat. A friend maybe?

“Yes, well, it’s all part of my job. Though it would be hard to keep a being as powerful as Rose hidden. Good work on the shields, though,” he remarked, turning back to Rose. “I don’t think the others have noticed.”

Rose gaped. “You knew all this time?”

He nodded. “Yes. But Romana trusts you and I trust her instincts. If she doesn’t consider you a threat, then I’ll give you the benefit of the doubt.”

All three turned silent as the group of Time Lords turned to them, though the expressions on their faces told they were none too happy with Romana’s stance on the subject of Rose.

The taller man with greying brown hair spoke up. “So, Doctor. Seems like much hasn’t changed with you. I see you still like to have your pets with you, regardless of whether it’s allowed or not.”

“Excuse me?” Rose snarled. “You might wanna rethink that statement, mate, unless you want a good slap.”

No sooner were the words out of her mouth than she felt s presence trying to ram through her mental shields. And it was almost on instinct that she mentally lashed out. The man with the grey hair and beard cried out, falling to the floor, clutching at his head. Before their eyes he regenerated on the floor, his eyes dazed as he looked around.

“Stay out of my head!” Rose shouted, making a step towards him, but the Doctor grabbed her arm, stopping her.

“Rose, calm down. Deep breathes,” he urged softly.

She looked down and realised she was glimmering in golden light. She closed her eyes and concentrated on controlling her anger, tempering down Bad Wolf.

When she opened her eyes, the golden light was gone and she noted the now newly regenerated Time Lord was now standing, albeit further away from her. He was younger looking, with short black hair with specks of grey in it. He was medium height and weight and his now blue eyes held fear in them.

“That wasn’t very wise, Norval. Attempting to enter another’s mind without their permission is the highest act treason,” Romana stated calmly.

Norval seemed too stunned to utter anything in his defense. It was another Time Lord who spoke up. “She’s an abomination. She should not be allowed here, let alone to live after what she did to Norval.”

“The way I see it, he attacked her first and she defended herself against his mind rape. I should have him stripped of his Council privileges.”

“I think the question is whose side is she on?” another Time Lord spoke up. He had sandy brown hair and pale green eyes that showed great intelligence in their depths.

“She is not a weapon and shall not be used as one. She stays with me and if anyone so much as dares to mess with her, they will have me to deal with,” the Doctor said quietly. It was the quiet tone that was so unnerving. It would have been better if he had been shouting. That quiet tone promised so much.

Braxiatel burst out laughing and the Doctor turned to glare at him. “Doctor, after that little display of hers, no one will dare mess with Rose. She’s formidable on her own, let alone having you as her protector.”

Rose puzzled at Braxiatel. He was not in the least bit scared of the Doctor, like the other Time Lords. What was his relation to the Doctor that he was so assured of his safety when it came to the Doctor? It was almost as though he were family. And when she came to that conclusion, it made perfect sense. Brothers. Though not close by the looks of it.

Romana decided to speak up. “Rose is officially an ally and not to be messed with in any way. Are we understood?” everyone nodded their understanding. “She will be working closely with the Doctor as she has her uses and when she is here she will be treated with respect. Now I ask you all to leave so that I may have a word with the Doctor and Rose.”

They all filed out except Braxiatel. He extended his hand to the Doctor, who shook it firmly. “Good to see you again, brother.” He then turned to Rose and his lips quirked in a smile. “Rose. It was an absolute pleasure meeting you finally. I hope you keep things interesting.”

With that he bowed slightly and exited the room. Rose grinned after his retreating form. “I like him,” she declared.

The Doctor rolled his eyes. “I can’t see how. He’s a real bore.” He then turned to Romana. “Busy day?”

She sighed and slumped down into her chair. “The nightmare child has been badly wounded but not destroyed.”

“Yes, I was wondering who shot that energy blast at it?”

“Braxiatel.”

The Doctor nodded. “What of Skaro?”

“Ongoing. There is something that I need you and Rose to do.”

The Doctor arched an eyebrow, hands clasped behind his back, waiting for her to continue. “You two will be fighting in the thick of it. We’re going up against the Skaro Degradation.”

“Skaro Degradation?” Rose queried, noticing the Doctor stiffening beside her.

“Mutations of the Daleks. The Skaro Degradations are the results of experiments the Daleks conducted to retro-evolve the Dalek genome. They have set up base at Moldox. Presumably all known inhabitants have been exterminated,” Romana explained with bitterness in her voice.

“And you want us to go in there and destroy them?” the Doctor asked, a sharp edge to his voice.

“Preferably, yes.”

The Doctor’s face had become stony, his eyes raging, but he kept silent. Romana picked up on his silent dissent. “I’m sorry, Doctor. You’re the only one I trust who can infiltrate and hopefully destroy their base. If you want you can leave Rose here.”

“Not a chance,” Rose interrupted before the Doctor could respond.

“Rose, I know you’ve been up against Daleks before (Romana raised an eyebrow at this), but not on this scale and not something as dangerous as the Skaro Degradations. They are more brutal and unpredictable than normal Daleks,” the Doctor urged, laying a hand on her shoulder. She looked into his blue-grey eyes, which were silently pleading with her.

She sighed. “Doctor, I’m not a porcelain doll. We’ve already had this argument. Let me help. I know I can help.”

He searched her face and finally let go of her shoulder to clasp her hand. “Okay. But stay close and listen when I tell you something.”

She nodded, even thigh they both knew it was a lie.

 

“So what is Moldox?” she asked as the Doctor piloted out of the Citadel.

“It’s located in the Tantalus Spiral. Basically a pleasure planet. The main city, Andor has palaces overlooking the Barian Sea. Quite the hotspot for new and exotic species. Well, used to. With the invasion of the Daleks, I doubt there’s much left to the planet.”

“Why choose that planet, though?”

He shrugged, typing in co-ordinates. “It was there and they needed to set up base.”

“So wrong time, wrong place.”

He sighed. “Unfortunately, yes.”

“Ted told me that this War has been going on for about a century.”

“Yes…” he said, though it sounded like more of a question as to where she was going with this.

“It’s just that you’ve stayed out of it for so long. Until I came along.”

He nodded his understanding. “You weren’t the pivoting point, Rose. It was coming to a point where I was going to have to face it all and fight. Though I sometimes wonder how differently it would have turned out if you hadn’t shown up.”

She bit at her thumb nail. What type of man would he have become? What different choices would he have made if she hadn’t come blazing into his life when she did?

“Still thinking about what Ohila said?” he asked after a pause.

“Don’t you?”

“Haven’t thought about it since the day she said it,” he said nonchalantly.

Rose grinned. “You are such a bad liar.”

He looked up at her with mock affront. “I’ll have you know, Miss Tyler, I am an exceptional liar.”

She giggled. “Yes, that you are. But you forget, I can tell when you’re lying, or omitting something.”

He strode from the console to come and stand in front of her. In a low voice he asked, “And how can you tell?”

Her tongue poked out between her teeth as she grinned. “Well, first you always launched in scientific babble to try and distract me. Second you would scratch at the back of your neck or pull your earlobe.”

He shifted a bit closer, his eyes twinkling. “And this me?”

She laughed. “I’m not gonna tell you! Then you’ll change strategy and I’ll have to figure it out all over again.”

“All to keep you on your toes. Now I think we’ve landed and there’s most probably a horde of nasty surprises waiting for us outside. Care to take a gander?”

Her grin softened to a smile, recognising his nervousness and the way he was covering it up with humor. “I’ll tell you what. When we get through this, I’ll tell you how I know when you’re lying.”

His eyes softened and he placed a soft kiss on her lips before taking her hand. “Onwards?”

“Allonsy.”

He startled. “I seriously say that?”

“Yup!”

He groaned. “Say it isn’t so.”

She laughed heartily and yanked his hand, leading him to the doors.

Chapter Text

The Doctor opened the door and stepped out, Rose following close behind. The planet was in ruins, a wasteland. Everywhere she looked, the sight of carnage and destruction was evident and recent fighting was also shown in the clouds of dust and smoke in the distance.

“Seems they still have a resistance party here fighting the Daleks,” the Doctor mused.

Rose nodded dumbly. She had been terribly sheltered these last three years and was only now getting a glimpse of how devastating this war was and what the Doctor witnessed on a daily basis for the last hundred years. She protectively wrapped her arms around her waist.

Suddenly a woman came into view, a gun pointed expertly at them. The woman was of medium height and slim build, her stance that of a soldier. Her bright orange hair was shaggy and in need of a wash and a good brushing. But in war those luxuries were not an option, Rose mused. The woman wore calf-high black combat boots, grey camouflage pants, a black shirt covered by a black leather jacket and fingerless gloves. Her face was stern, though pretty, with high cheekbones and a narrow nose.

Rose’s eyes travelled to the gun and was surprised that it was made out of parts of Daleks, the barrel being the laser gun of the Daleks and an eyestalk mounted on top. Rose marvelled at the ingenuity of using Dalek parts to fight against the Daleks. This woman was resilient and smart.

Then movement behind her alerted Rose and before the woman could speak the Doctor loudly urged, “Quick! Inside the Tardis before the shoot you! You’ll be safe in there.”

The woman spared a quick glance behind her at the Spider Degradation scuttling towards her and ran into the Tardis without hesitation, Rose and the Doctor following suit. The Doctor locked the doors behind them and a second later shots could be heard as the pelted against the doors.

“What were those things? They looked like Daleks, but…different,” Rose asked, the image still fresh in her mind. They were egg-shaped, narrowed at the bottom, with three mechanical legs. They were red in color, but had globes like a normal Dalek, equipped with laser guns and the infamous eyestalk that glowed an ominous blue.

The woman shot Rose an incredulous look. “Where have you been? Those are Spiders, part of the Skaro Degradation. Faster and more ruthless than your typical Dalek.” Her voice was husky and it suited her tough appearance.

“Rose is relatively new to the War,” the Doctor explained in a soft and smooth voice, his arms crossed over his chest and watching the woman with interest. “May I enquire as to who you are?”

“Cinder,” the redhead responded, her voice taking on a faraway tone as her eyes roamed the interior of the Tardis. “This is a Tardis?”

“Yes.”

Cinder turned her full attention to the Doctor. “You’re a Time Lord?”

He nodded his affirmation. Cinder glanced at Rose with wary eyes. Rose shook her head. “Human…with modifications.”

“And you chose to be with him even though his race started this whole mess of a war?”

Rose stood straighter, indignations swelling inside of her. “The Daleks are also responsible. You’re more than welcome to go back out there and take your chances with them if you dislike us so much.”

Cinder seemed momentarily taken aback by Rose’s rudeness, but recovered quickly and glared at the blonde. “Rose, you’re not helping the situation. It doesn’t matter what she thinks.” Rose looked at the Doctor, but he was reading something on the screen, apparently uninterested in Cinder’s opinion of his race. She forced herself to calm down. He was right. There was no use trying to change a person’s opinion once it had been made. Fighting right now over something so trivial seemed pointless.

“Fine,” she said calmly. “Where can we dump you off?”

“Rose!”

“What? We save her ass and this is the gratitude she shows – by insulting you and your people, who are desperately trying to stop the Daleks and save the universe.”

“You’re right, I’m sorry,” Cinder said before the Doctor could respond. Rose turned to her in surprise, though suspicion nagged at her. She wasn’t sure she trusted this woman.

But the Doctor simply nodded and said graciously, “Thank-you. I’m the Doctor and this is Rose.”

Rose said nothing and the Doctor nudged her gently with his shoulder, pleading silently for her to play nice she sighed and extended her hand. Cinder took it and Rose noted the nervous tension vibrating through her. This woman was young and scared, but she was willing to fight and do what she could to survive.

“Now, Cinder, we were sent here to investigate and hopefully put a stop to the Daleks on this planet. Do you know of anyone we can talk to that might be willing to help us out?”

Cinder let go of Rose’s hand and chewed on her bottom lip, contemplating whether to trust these strangers. Finally she nodded and said, “I’ll take you to our camp. There might be a few people there that will be willing to help.”

The Doctor beamed. “Excellent. Do you think they’ll mid if I park my Tardis there? I don’t want those pesky Daleks carting her away.”

Cinder cracked a smile, something that seemed like she hadn’t done for a while. She nodded and pointed to a location on the monitor, telling the Doctor the co-ordinates. Rose watched them. Cinder had seemed to have dropped the tough attitude and was even being friendly with the Doctor as he asked her a few questions.

They landed and the Doctor motioned to the door. Cinder cautiously opened the door a crack, peeking outside. Then she opened the door wide and stepped out. There was a raised voice and the Doctor and Rose hurried outside to find Cinder hugging another man fiercely. They were in a dense forest, with no campsite in sight. It must be well hidden for the Daleks not to have detected it yet.

Cinder and the man broke apart and they exchanged a small conversation while the Doctor and Rose stood waiting patiently for them to finish. The Doctor clasped her hand and she was relieved for the small comfort he offered. No matter how bad the situation got, holding his hand always seemed to ground her, make her feel safe. She squeezed back and leaned her head on his shoulder. “Can we trust her?” she murmured softly.

“Yes,” was all he said. She straightened and gave a small nod.

The small talk was ending and the man turned to them, his face older and lined, his beard thick and heavy on his face. He extended his hand and the Doctor and Rose each took a turn to shake it. “Cinder tells me that you two rescued her, that you can be trusted.”

“We’re here to try and stop the Daleks and were hoping for some information. Hopefully enough information to destroy them.”

The man nodded. “I’m known as Coyne. Come to our camp and we’ll discuss it over something to eat.”

He turned, not waiting for them to reply and led the way, the other three following silently behind him. After about twenty minutes of walking they came to a small clearing, a campfire illuminating the meagre camp. A few blankets and pillows were paced around the fire, but otherwise empty.

“We move around a lot to avoid detection. Our main base is strictly a well-guarded secret and where we get our weapons and food. There are other groups around, fighting off the Daleks, but they’re slowly diminishing our numbers. Taking them prisoners and carting them off.”

The Doctor frowned. “Prisoners? The Daleks don’t take prisoners. Their preferred method is extermination.”

“Not these ones.”

“What do they do to these prisoners?” Rose asked concerned. A Dalek killing was one thing. Taking a prisoner did not bode well.

“We don’t know. I know the location where they take them, but I haven’t been able to infiltrate their base to find out. Nothing good, I can guarantee you that.”

Rose shared a look with the Doctor. He looked uneasy as well. “You mind showing us where their base is?”

“Yeah, I’ll take you there after we eat.”

They sat around the fire, eating from the cans of beans that Coyne passed around. Certainly not a five course fancy meal, but one could not be picky during a war where supplies were so scarce.

Rose was sitting next to Cinder and the Doctor was deep in conversation with Coyne. “So how long have you known Coyne?”

“Since I was seven. He rescued me from a Dalek attack. He taught me to fight ad has basically been a father figure.” Cinder paused and then looked at Rose. “Listen, I’m sorry about earlier, about the stuff I said.”

Rose nodded and swallowed her mouthful of beans. “Yeah, I was wondering why you have so much hatred for the Time Lords. Surely you know that they’re the good guys, they’re trying to stop the Daleks?”

Cinder drummed her fingers against her knee. “The Doctor said you were fairly new to this war?”

“Yes.”

“Then you haven’t really seen what the Time Lords are capable of. War changes a person. Makes them do terrible things they normally wouldn’t do. The Time Lords are no exception. They have done things just as terrible as the Daleks.”

Coldness seeped into her bones, sending a chill through her body. She turned her head and looked at the Doctor who was still talking to Coyne. Had the Doctor done terrible things, things that Cinder was accusing the Time Lords of doing? She couldn’t believe that of him. “No, not the Doctor,” she whispered.

Cinder patted her shoulder as she stood. “No, not him. He is one of the last few good ones.” She stalked off toward one of the piles of blankets and Rose watched as she pulled out a blade as long as her forearm and a few grenades. Rose looked back at the Doctor and he was staring back at her through the flickering flames. His face and eyes were unreadable and she knew he must have heard their conversation. She gave him a small smile and stood to go sit next to him, accepting his hand. They sat shoulder to shoulder, their hands clasped and Coyne silently left them to gather a few things.

“Is what she said true?” she finally asked, still staring at the orange flames.

The Doctor sighed heavily. “Yes. We have become just as ruthless as the Daleks.”

“Is that why you refused to fight in this war for so long? Was it because you were afraid you’d…change?”

“That was a big part of it.”

She said no more, instead leaning her head against his shoulder. Would she change too? Would she be forced to do unimaginable things to win this war? How much blood of the innocents would be stained on her hands?

“This is why I didn’t want you to be a part of this. Even my future incarnation was frantic at the prospect that you would have to endure this. This was not a fate either of us wanted for you.”

She clasped his hand tighter. “We’re in this together. I’m not naïve. I know it’s not going to be pretty.”

“Then why stay?”

“Don’t really have a choice. Can’t get back. And even if I could, I would rather stay and fight by your side, regardless of how ugly it becomes.”

He looked down at her and his eyes softened. He tilted her head up with his fingers and placed a soft kiss on her lips.

“Coyne’s ready whenever you two are,” Cinder interrupted. The Doctor and Rose stood and followed their two guides into the unknown.

 

They had walked for an hour when they came to an edge of what was once a city, rubble and slabs of concrete strewn about on the dusty landscape. As they approached, the Doctor held up his hand for them to halt, tilting his head to listen. He silently urged them behind a boulder where they huddled together, the ominous approach of Daleks sounding. Rose strained her ears to listen and cringed when she heard the pitiful sobs of prisoners being led to their destination. She waited with bated breath for them to pass, her fists clenched at the thought of what they were going to do to the prisoners. When the sounds of Daleks and prisoners faded she chanced a peek around the boulder, watching as a line of about ten prisoners were being herded to the distance.

“We need to follow them. They’re heading in the direction of where we believe their base of operations is,” Coyne said softly.

They stood and Coyne stepped forward to take the lead. As he stepped from the boulder, he was shot with a ray, vanishing. Rose was about to cry out in horror, when she froze. Why was she feeling shocked? It must be the Dalek, the one Cinder had just shot at and destroyed. But she remained frozen, staring at the ground. Staring at a pair of fresh footprints in the dust. Had someone else been here? She had a nagging feeling that something was not right.

“We need to go now,” Cinder urged.

“Rose?” the Doctor urged, taking her elbow.

“Whose footprints are those?” she asked, pointing to the spot.

The Doctor frowned and knelt down to examine them. “Fresh,” he muttered. “Size 12. Too big for it to belong to any of us.” He stood, his frown deepening.

“We have to go before they notice we’re here,” Cinder hissed, motioning with her fiery head that they had to follow.

The Doctor grabbed Rose’s hand and hastily followed, though she could tell he was still puzzling over the footprints. She was too. She kept looking around, expecting someone else to be there, but who?

They scampered through buildings that were half blasted, seeking refuge in the shadows and cement blocks that offered camouflage. They finally came to a part of the city that looked fairly intact. They made their way into a deserted two-storey house, climbing silently to the attic to peer out the window. They crouched there by the window, looking down at the four Daleks and the row of ten prisoners.

“Rose, remember the number ten.”

“OK,” she replied, puzzling why he would want her to remember a number. A Dalek rolled forward, a cannon attached to it.

Cinder gasped. “We have to help them.”

“I agree, but we don’t know what type of weapon we are up against.”

They watched in horror as the Dalek shot at the prisoners, hitting four of them and they vanished. “I don’t understand. It didn’t do anything,” Cinder whispered.

“Rose, what was the number I told you to remember?”

“Ten.”

His shoulders tightened. “There were ten prisoners, now there’s six.”

“Nonsense. There were only six,” Cinder argued.

“They’re using a weapon that erases beings from time. Making them not exist at all. I had an inkling before we opened the door of the Tardis when we first landed. The Tardis read two lifeforms, but when I opened the door, there was only you. There was someone else with you.”

“No, it was just me.”

He smiled sadly and looked back out the window. “He, or she, was erased from existence, so you would not remember.”

“”The footprints?” Rose asked, dreading the answer he was going to give.

“Someone else must have been travelling with us but was erased by that Dalek.”

Cinder crouched there, frowning deeply. Rose felt slightly sick. “Is there any way to reverse it?” she asked.

“Probably not,” he finally conceded. “I need to get into their base and find out what they’re up to.”

“Up to? Isn’t it obvious? They’re wiping people from existence,” Cinder hissed. Tears of helplessness blurred her eyes. Rose felt for her. She was so young, eighteen at the most. She was scared, facing all of this and trying to be brave. Rose placed a hand reassuringly on her shoulder, giving her a weak smile.

“I think it’s more than that,” he murmured. Rose had to agree with him. This felt much bigger.

“How?” Cinder asked through tears blurring her eyes. She hastily wiped them away before they could fall.

“I’m not sure. I won’t know until I get inside their base and poke around a bit.”

Cinder nodded, looking out the window with a hard look on her face. Finally she stood, careful to stay out of view of the window. “Well let’s go and find out what they’re up to.”

The Doctor and Rose shared a look. Rose was starting to develop a deep respect for this young girl and her sentiments were mirrored in the Doctor’s eyes. They slowly stood and the Doctor gestured with his long fingered hand. “Lead the way.”

 

They sneaked out of the house and followed Cinder soundlessly through the desolate landscape, keeping hidden by the brushes and boulders. Thankfully they didn’t encounter any other Daleks and came to a saucer like structure that Rose immediately recognised as a Dalek ship. It was eerily quiet. She had expected Daleks to be guarding their base.

The Doctor scanned in the direction of the ship with his sonic screwdriver. He glanced at the readings and then sat back down on his haunches behind their hiding spot that was a boulder. “It seems they have all congregated to the centre of the ship. The outer corridors are Dalek free, so to speak. We’ll start there and make our way to the centre, find out what they’re up to.”

They crept along, the Doctor firmly holding on to Rose’s hand and scanning every now and then with his sonic. Cinder followed quietly behind, her grip steel tight on her gun. Her eyes were narrowed as she scanned her surroundings, searching for movement.

They advanced up a ramp and fund themselves in a circular corridor. “Left or right?” the Doctor asked. He had already scanned and both directions were clear. Rose looked at Cinder expectantly.

Cinder shrugged and replied. “Right. Some once told me that when in doubt turn right.”

The Doctor quirked an eyebrow. “Who was that?”

Cinder frowned as she thought. “Can’t remember.”

“Right it is then,” the Doctor said after a pause and tugged on Rose’s hand for her to follow him. They came to a door a little ways down the corridor and the Doctor raised an eyebrow questioningly at his two female companions. “Shall we?”

Without waiting for a reply he entered the room which Rose now saw was a laboratory. Rose halted and the Doctor let go of her hand to go and examine the various ‘experiments’. Cinder stood next to Rose, shock and repulsion written all over her face. Rose stood there immobile, gawking.

There were five Daleks. Though that was a loose term. Their casing was made of glass and inside were humans in various stages of…mutation. That was the only word Rose could come up with. One human’s face was nothing but one huge eyeball placed in the middle of where the forehead should be. All human facial features had been wiped clean. Another human was missing limbs and as Rose drew nearer she could see multitude of tentacles starting their formation. Another’s skin was covered in slime, and was greyish in color. The other two looked normal, though Rose could see that they were fairly new. They had just begun their process of mutation.

“Oh God. This is horrible! They’re turning them into Daleks!” Rose whispered harshly. She looked over at Cinder and noted that she looked sick. This was affecting her too.

The Doctor was peering closely at one of the casings, running his sonic over the mutation before him. He seemed unfazed by what he saw, though Rose knew that it was only a mask. He hid his emotions well.

“Why would they do this?” Cinder asked, her voice cracking slightly.

“Cannon fodder,” the Doctor replied, still staring at the grotesque thing before him. “The Daleks view these mutations as inferior, not true Daleks, and therefore expendable.”

The silence stretched out as each contemplated what they were witnessing. Rose swallowed hard. “Are they…are they in pain?” she asked.

The Doctor’s face was unreadable, though his eyes betrayed him. Those grey-blue swam with a torrent of emotions. “Not now, not anymore. I can’t imagine the process was pleasant to begin with. But their brains have been rewired to think like a Dalek, so they will have no repulsion as to what they have become. There is no more human left in them.”

It was times like this that she wished the Doctor would lie to her. But that was not his way. A low hissing sound sounded behind her and she whirled around to find Cinder ripping the cables out from behind one of the glass casings. She continued to go around to each one, ripping out the life support cable, a fierce determination set on her face. After she pulled the last one out she turned and looked at the Doctor and Rose. “Now they can find peace,” she said simply and went to pick up her gun that she had laid on the table and headed for the door.

“I like her,” Rose whispered as she leaned towards the Doctor, grabbing his hand and pulling him after her as she followed the fiery redhead. She heard him murmur behind her, “Me too.”

 

They continued for a while, crossing gantries that connected the interior of the ship. They saw very little Daleks and managed to avoid detection.

“I don’t understand. You would think they would be guarding this place better than this,” Rose wondered out loud.

“I don’t think they have much interest in Moldox itself. They’re most likely interested in the Tantalus Eye. They’re already using its power to power their temporal weapons.”

“Tantalus Eye?” Rose asked as they entered another laboratory. He strode over to one of the screens, reading intently at what it said.

“The Tantalus Eye is a space-time anomaly and a gateway between universes. Moldox is situated near the Eye and thus the perfect location for the Daleks.” He stood straighter as he read the screen.

“What’s wrong?” Rose asked, coming to stand beside him.

“They’re going to use the Tantalus Eye to erase Gallifrey from history.”

Rose gasped. “How? It would take a weapon of such power…” she trailed off. They already had weapons that could erase a person from history. They just needed to make something that could harness the Tantalus Eye’s power and they had the ultimate weapon.

The Doctor watched her come to the horrifying conclusion. “We have to get back to Gallifrey and warn them.”

“Doctor!” Cinder called from further back in the room. They hurried over and saw she was standing in a doorway that led to another room, her face ashen. “You might want to see this.”

The Doctor stepped into the room followed by Rose and Cinder. They were standing in a vast room with hundreds of vats. And in each vat was a Dalek, like the one she saw when they were in the Utah bunker and the Dalek opened up its outer casing to reveal the organic creature inside. Blobs with tentacles and a huge eye in the middle of what must be its face. Rose shuddered.

“They look like the things inside the Daleks. I’ve killed a few and when I’ve opened up the outer shell that was what was inside,” Cinder said with disgust.

“Yes, they’re Kaled mutants,” he said. At Rose’s questioning look he elaborated. “They’re mutated descendants of the humanoid Kaleds on the planet Skaro. They’re the organic parts inside the protective shell. They’re a living, bubbling lump of hate.”

“It’s hard to believe they start off as humanoid. Were the Kaleds always such a hateful race?” Cinder asked, her eyes still on one of the creatures bubbling in its vat.

“No. There were two races on Skaro: Kaleds and Thals. Davros was descendent from the Kaleds and it was at the end of the Thousand Year War that he came up with the idea of making the Kaleds Daleks. Their planet had become a toxic wasteland and he concluded that Kaleds would have to mutate into Daleks to survive. He orchestrated an attack on the Kaleds by the Thals, thus giving him the excuse to create his Dalek army. But without emotions, the Daleks quickly turned on Davros and his followers, almost killing Davros himself. The rest, as they say, is history.” He said all of this in a monotone voice, as though reciting it from a history book. He walked over to the coolant system to the side of the room and then aimed his sonic at it, causing it to spark and then explode. A deafening alarm sounded and Rose instinctively covered her ears.

He motioned for them to follow him and they ran through the vast vats to the other side of the room where they went through another doorway. Inside this room were rows upon rows of weapons, so futuristic and complex in their designs. The Doctor picked one up and studied it briefly. “A Temporal Cannon,” he stated.

To their right a Dalek appeared, exclaiming in its gravelly computerised voice, “EX-TER-MIN-ATE!”

The Doctor aimed the weapon at it and shot the weapon. Nothing happened. Not even a little scratch.

“Duck!” Cinder shouted and the Doctor and Rose immediately complied. She blasted the Dalek with her gun, making it explode.

The Doctor shot but up and grinned at her. “Good shot!”

Cinder beamed at him.

“We should get out of here. The alarm must have alerted all of the Daleks here. They’ll be here soon,” Rose shouted above the din, feeling like she was stating the obvious.

“Yes, of course. Back the way we came?” he shouted, turning to run, the Temporal Cannon still clutched in his hand, as the two woman sprinted behind him. They made it back to the entrance and the Doctor skidded to a halt, Rose and Cinder almost colliding into him.

“What is it?” asked Cinder.

“There’s a whole bunch outside,” he explained.

“How many?” asked Rose. She nervously looked behind her, praying there wouldn’t be any more Daleks coming.

“Five outside. Scans reveal twenty-five heading in our direction.”

“Okay, I’ll take care of the ones outside,” Cinder stated as she cocked her gun and then stepped into the entrance of the ship and started shooting. And then silence. She looked over her shoulder at them, a small smirk on her lips. “All clear!”

They tentatively stepped out behind her. “Okay. Back to the Tardis. We need to get back to Gallifrey,” the Doctor said. He grabbed Rose’s hand and they started sprinting in the direction they had come from. They had barely made it to the outskirts when Rose felt a sharp pain in her neck. She stumbled and fell down, unable to move. She couldn’t even speak. She felt herself being lifted by the Doctor and he started to run. Everything was quiet, like her ears refused to hear any sounds. She felt herself falling to the ground and saw the Doctor sprawled next to her, his eyes locked on her. And like her he couldn’t move or speak. She saw a Dalek moving towards them behind the Doctor and thankfully everything went black.

Chapter Text

It had been fifteen years since the Doctor had left them on that beach. It retrospect, it didn’t seem that long, but time was showing, especially on the human Doctor. His face was more lined, his hair more grey than brown. Physically he was about fifty years in age. Rose still looked twenty-five, as though a day hadn’t passed since that cursed day on the beach.

She often caught him looking at her with sadness and…knowledge. Knowledge because he had memories of what it was like to watch someone you love wither and die and he knew Rose was going to go through it. Alone.

At night he held her tighter and she held him just as tight back. She was scared. Scared more than she could admit to him. Though she knew that he already knew how scared she was. She knew she might have another twenty, maybe thirty, years with him if she was lucky. But one thing she had learned as she got older was that time seemed to speed up at an alarming rate. Not like when she was a child and the years seemed to drag by.

And death was waiting for all of them. This was driven home very hard as she stared at the three tombstones, the misty rain seeping into her clothes and making her shiver from the cold and damp. The shivering turned into violent sobs and she sank to her knees, mud soaking into her stockings but she didn’t notice. Jackie, Pete and Tony, side by side. Tony was only twenty-three, studying in university. Pete and Jackie were on their way home after picking him up from university when the car had skidded off the wet road and plunged into the hillside below, instantly killing all occupants. This had been a week ago, and the shock of the news still cut her to her core.

She would never hear her mother scold her or Tony, or even Pete. She would never hear Pete’s soft spoken words of wisdom as he guided her through life at work or life in this world. And she would never hear Tony’s mischievous laughter as he recalled one of his pranks that he had set up on one of his friends. He had a face of an angel, but certainly was no saint.

She felt a hand on her shoulder and looked up at the Doctor’s face, his sorrow etched on his own features. He was dressed all in black and held a black umbrella over her. He stood there silently, letting her grieve and offering silent comfort.

She finally stood, her knees protesting. He wrapped his free arm around her shoulder and kissed the top of her head. He led them to the car and helped her in, closing the door behind her. He climbed into the driver’s seat, the umbrella thrown onto the back seat. He clasped her hand tightly and she gave him a watery smile of gratitude back.

The ride back home was long and silent, the radio turned down low. They finally made it back to their house, the same one they had bought all those years ago. The ivy was covering almost all wall surface. The barn that was now his workshop was showing signs of age and weather. Everything was crumbling before her eyes, she thought gloomily.

He parked the car and turned off the engine. He clasped her had again and she marvelled at the lines and callouses compared to her smooth and soft skin of her own hand. She clasped his hand harder, afraid that is she let go she would watch him turn to dust before her eyes.

“Let’s get inside and have a cup of tea.” He had phrased it more as a question and she nodded her silent agreement.

He scooted out the car and grabbed the umbrella, opening the door for her and diligently holding the umbrella over her head. They made their way inside and she blinked as he turned on lights. She moved slowly towards him as he shook out the umbrella and placed it in the umbrella stand. She wrapped her arms around his waist, leaned her head again his still tall back. Even after fifteen years he was still lean and taut, not an ounce of fat on his skinny frame. He turned in her arms and looked down at her lovingly with those chocolate brown eyes that were now framed with glasses. Still sexy, she thought. She went on tippy-toes and kissed him, her arms wrapping tighter around him. He made a sound of happiness and deepened the kiss, his one arm wrapping around her waist and the other hand snaking into her hair. He backed her up against the wall, his body still strong despite his age. She wrapped one leg around his waist, her skirt riding up, and felt his erection press against her core. She moaned into his mouth, greedily seeking a release. She wanted to forget, to get lost in something, to feel such intense love that she felt she would shatter. And she knew he could give her all of that. Love for this wonderful man erupted in her, a love so intense that she felt it wold never die.

He bit her neck and she moaned, closing her eyes and letting her eyes fall shut as she revelled in the sensations of him biting and kissing her neck. She opened her eyes and saw a figure dressed in black coming towards them.

“Doctor!” she screamed, shoving him off her, ready to fight the intruder. But all her combat training at Torchwood would never quite prepare her for a fight against a gun.

The person stood there, gun trained on them. The Doctor stood in front of her, his hands raised in surrender. “Take whatever you want.”

“Oh, but I think I already have,” a cool female voice purred. A voice Rose did not recognise.

She watched as more figures in black, complete with black masks, surrounded them. Then a woman stepped into view. She was in her late thirties, her blonde hair cut into a shoulder length bob. She had husky blue eyes and skin that was tanned to a golden sheen. She was petite and short and immaculately dressed, from the crisp white jacket and skirt with the matching white stilettoes.

“Who the hell are you?” snarled Rose.

The woman looked back at Rose with cold, calculating eyes. Frost Queen was the word that came to mind.

“Dana Ashwood,” she replied smoothly.

Rose looked at the Doctor and he gave a small shrug. He had no idea who she was either. “Sorry, name doesn’t ring a bell.”

Dana gave a small, condescending smile. “Of course not. I’ve stayed behind the scene. Not even dear old Pete knew about me.”

Rose frowned. What did her father have to do with this woman? She was making absolutely no sense.

The woman stalked closer, her army of blackness surrounding them, guns still pointed at them. She was being careful to keep out of arms reach. “But I know all about you, Rose Tyler.”

Rose swallowed. She had to keep quiet and keep this woman talking. Maybe she didn’t know anything. Maybe she was mad. But intelligence shone in those eyes. Predatory intelligence.

“I’ve read the numerous reports. Numerus injuries that seemed to heal very quickly. Of course it was all covered up, the official reports sealed away. But I have ways of finding out information. And what I found out about you is very interesting. The woman who cannot die.”

Rose clenched her fists, cursing the Torchwood doctor, Clive, for his incessant need to report everything. It had been a gunshot to the heart and Clive had been there when she had died and had come back to life a few minutes later. He hadn’t shown surprise, by now used to her near miraculous healing abilities. The wound had started to scar over and he looked at her and said he would just put it down as a gunshot to the shoulder. He wouldn’t even dare to put that down in an official report. They had a mutual respect ad he knew the danger of putting something like that on record, even in Torchwood.

“There has been no official report of such a thing,” she evaded.

The woman grinned. “Of course not. But with a little persuasion, Clive told me all I wanted to know.”

Rose felt her whole body go numb and she felt the Doctor grab her hand. This was not good. “What have you done to him?”

“Only what was necessary to get information.”

“Where is he?”

“Out of his misery.”

Rose swallowed down the bile that was rising. That had tortured him and then killed him once they had the information they needed.

“I suppose you had something to do with the Tyler’s deaths?” the Doctor queried calmly.

Dana beamed at him. “You always were too clever, Doctor.”

Rose wasn’t surprised that she had called him Doctor. Torchwood operatives were often given nicknames, so the Doctor had stuck.

“I thought that it was suspicious, but I couldn’t prove anything.”

Dana shrugged. “I try my best.”

“Why? Why would you kill them?” Rose choked.

“Torchwood,” the Doctor muttered darkly.

“Clever boy. To answer your question, Rose, I needed to take control of Torchwood. And in order to do that I had to take out the head of Torchwood, which happened to be Pete. And for good measure I needed to take out his successor, Tony.”

Rose blinked. She felt like her veins were turning to ice. She couldn’t breathe. “So now it’s my turn?” she snarled, surprised that she could even form words.

Dana cocked her head to the side. “Yes and no. I want to study you, find out why you don’t die.”

“Experiment on me, you mean?”

“However you want to phrase it,” she said, waving her hand dismissively. “If I can harness that, replicate whatever it is that keeps you ageless, why I would hold all the power in the world.”

“Absolute power corrupts absolutely,” the Doctor warned, his eyes narrowed, his face becoming the Oncoming Storm.

“What makes you think I’ll do this willingly?” Rose shot back disbelievingly.

She heard a gun cock for good measure. “Come willingly and put up no fight and we spare him.”

Rose knew it was a lie. The Doctor knew too much. Had witnessed too much. And he was far too clever to be spared. But as she stared at him she knew she had no choice. She couldn’t risk it either way. The Doctor shook his head, silently warning her it was a lie. He knew it and she knew it.

“You’re lying, Miss Ashwood. He’s too much of a liability to be kept alive,” Rose said softly. She continued to look at the Doctor as he squeezed her hand. She couldn’t see a way out of this. And by the look in his eye, neither could he.

The gunshot broke the silence and Rose watched in slow motion as the Doctor slowly crumpled to the floor, blood pouring from his chest. And instantly the slow motion was snapped like a rubber band and reality resumed. She dashed to his side, pressing her hand on his wound. But it was no use. Blood was gushing through the wound, staining her hands crimson red.

“Doctor!” she sobbed, tears blurring her vision. “Doctor! Stay with me. Please stay with me.”

He turned his eyes to her and slowly raised a hand to her head, cradling her cheek in his hand. He looked for a long moment into her eyes and gave her a small smile, tears shimmering in those chocolate brown eyes. “Rose Tyler. Thank-you for giving me your love and letting me share this life with you. I just wanted you to know that these were the best years of my life.” He took a deep breath. “I love you, more than you’ll ever know.”

She choked back a sob. “I love you too, Doctor. Please don’t leave me. Please.” The last was said in a whisper, tears falling from her cheeks as she watch the light leave his eyes and he went limp under hands. She blinked, not willing to accept that he was gone.

“Doctor,” she gasped, patting his cheek, leaving red smears along his cheek and jawline. “Doctor. No, please. Please don’t leave me. Please. I can’t lose you,” she rasped.

Reality seemed frozen, unreal. She stared at his face. He was just sleeping. He had to be. This wasn’t real. It couldn’t be. She felt rough hands grab her under her armpits and start to drag her away, and still she would not take her eyes off him. It was finally the trail of blood that broke through her fog. His blood.

“You killed him!” she screamed and it felt like every fibre in her was being torn apart. She screamed from the pain, the agony of losing her Doctor. Golden light burst from her like an atomic bomb and she was vaguely aware of the dust particles floating around her as each and every person was disintegrated. She walked slowly to her Doctor and mourned his death as she sank to her knees. How could she live in a world where he was not by her side? She clung to him, sobbing into his chest, unaware of the blood staining her face and hair. She felt her heart shattering. She silently urged him to wake up, but he remained still. As the minutes ticked by she knew that this was reality and she would never hold him in her arms again.

This was the thought that made her completely shatter inside and she sat up, screaming, arms flung open wide, golden energy exploding from her very core. And she was vaguely aware of the Earth turning to dust around her as she decimated it. But she couldn’t find it inside of her to care. She wanted to die, willing the power to consume and destroy her. Faintly she heard a song as old as time, a tune that felt so familiar. She closed her eyes and gave herself over to the song, letting it draw her in. the song grew louder and louder until it was deafening and she felt Bad Wolf retreat, taking all her memories and locking it away in the deep abyss of her mind. She felt an internal tug and then her body started fading in the light of the Tardis and she lost consciousness.

Chapter Text

Rose felt her heart shatter, even as she struggled to wake up, the final memory falling into place. Bad Wolf and the Tardis had bought her back to the Prime Universe, back to the Doctor. But why hadn’t she just bought the Doctor back to life? She felt her heart shattering as she thought of the light going slowly out from the eyes of the man she loved, of destroying the entire Earth in her grief. No wonder her memories had been blocked. Even now, even after going through some horrific things in this war, it was nothing compared to losing him.

Her eyes snapped open and she found herself strapped to a chair. She looked wildly around and saw the Doctor slumped in his own chair, still asleep. And then she noticed the Daleks. There were about four, each with their plungers glued to a screen they were positioned in front of. She looked wildly around and her eyes widened at the two glass casing. Just like the ones that housed those mutants she had seen earlier. This was not good. Were they really going to try and convert her and the Doctor? She pushed against her restraints, but it was no use. She was held firmly in place.

“Doctor!” she hissed.

He moaned low in response. “Doctor! Wake up! Wake up now!” she hissed even louder. She was relieved when he stirred and then his eyes snapped open, taking in his surroundings. She saw his face go ashen as he realized what was going to happen. One of the Daleks moved forward and started to levitate the chair and the Doctor in the direction of the glass casing.

“No. Stop!” he shouted, struggling against his restraints. The glass casing opened up and the Doctor was levitated inside and the casing started closing around him slowly. He looked at Rose with helpless eyes.

In that moment Rose saw the Doctor as his face morphed into that of her Doctor, the human one. She remembered the light going from his eyes, the helplessness she saw in their depths, knowing he couldn’t do anything to prevent what was to come. She had watched her Doctor die and now she was going to watch this Doctor die as well.

She screamed out loud as the pain that she had suffered came to the surface and golden light burst from her, swirling around her in a powerful torrent, making her a goddess once more. She couldn’t hear anything over the howling of the Vortex flowing around her. All she saw was the Daleks and willed them to dust. Her binding disintegrated around her and she floated up into the air, hovering as she saw all around her. Tears streaked her face as thoughts of her human Doctor, and the pain and heartbreak doubled inside of her. A burst of golden energy exploded from her, turning every Dalek on the ship to dust. She could give herself over to the power, let it consume her and make her forget everything. She could become a vengeful goddess. She could turn this war to dust. It would take a lot of power and might even destroy herself in the process, but it would be worth it.

She distantly heard a distraught voice shouting through the din, almost muffled. She slowly turned her head and looked down at the Doctor, his face contorted with fear and anguish.

“Please, Rose. You have to let go. Come back to me, Rose. Please, come back to me,” he pleaded.

She looked into his eyes, the golden fog slowly fading ad saw that he was not afraid of her, but afraid of losing her. And that thought was like a slap in the face, waking her from this fog.

She felt the golden power stop swirling and shimmer in place, before violently being sucked back into her. She dropped to the ground and the Doctor caught her in his arms, lowering them both to the floor and cradling her as she sobbed.

As she clung to his lapels and sobbed into his chest, she heard him murmur, “I’m here, Rose. Please, my love, talk to me.”

She didn’t think she could form any coherent words through her heartbreak so she lifted her head slowly and drew his hand to her head, resting his fingertips against her temple. His eyes widened as he realised what she was silent urging him to do. She gave a small nod, tears blurring her vision. He drew his other hand around as she sat in his lap and rested his fingertips against her other temple and closed his eyes.

She felt him enter her mind, almost gently and she shoved the memory at him, making him gasp. She relived the scene again as he watched and finally he pulled away.

She broke down as fresh sobs wracked her body, her forehead resting on his chest. His arms tightened around her protectively as he cradled her. She was broken and she didn’t know if she would ever be fixed again. Exhaustion finally took over and she passed out in his arms, wishing with all her heart that it were the arms of her human Time Lord, the man she would never see again or share her life with again.

 

She awoke in a strange room, the lights dimmed. Memories of what happened flooded her senses and she felt like she was going to drown in her sorrow and heartbreak. She had always considered herself a strong woman, but now she felt broken, an empty shell.

She felt strong arms pull her closer and she felt the Doctor whisper from behind her. “I’m here, Rose.”

She blinked back the tears. Yes he was here, but not really. He would not give himself to her and now she felt that she could never give herself to him. Her shattered heart belonged to her human Doctor.

“Where are we?” she asked. She needed a distraction.

“My bedroom.”

She rolled her eyes. “Yes, I figured that. Are we on Gallifrey?”

“No, we’re in the Vortex. I figured we all needed a rest before heading back to Gallifrey.”

She turned in his arms and looked at him. His eyes were tired, his face so serious and worn down. He was still remarkably handsome. Her face softened. Yes, she could still see her Doctor in those grey-blue eyes. The same, but not the same. She needed to stay focused. Anything to push those memories deep into the abyss of her mind.

“Cinder?”

“Safe. She’s asleep in a room the Tardis set up for her. She was fighting off the Daleks trying to come in and rescue us. I haven’t told her it was you who destroyed the Daleks.”

Rose nodded. “Well, she is gutsy, I’ll give her that.” She turned and climbed out of bed, making her way to the bathroom without a backward glance. She quickly showered and when she came out the Doctor was gone and the bed was neatly made with clothes for her laid out. She quickly changed into the black jeans and green tank top and leather jacket. She hastily laced up her black military boots and tied her hair up into a messy ponytail. She looked in the mirror. Her smooth skin belied her age. But her hardened and tired eyes told the truth. She had seen too much, been through too much. There was no more innocence left in her. Her eyes were starting to look like the Doctor’s. She steeled herself. They had a war too fight. She could no longer afford to wallow in her grief. She now had to be strong and tough. And as she walked through the door to head to the console, she briefly mourned her youth.

 

She found Cinder in the console room, dressed in her usual attire. The Doctor was flipping levers. Rose spotted the Temporal Cannon resting on the console and made a wide berth. She didn’t want to go anywhere near it. The Doctor glanced up at her and she saw sorrow reflected in his eyes. But he quickly looked down. It looked like neither was going to address the issue and she was fine with that. She really didn’t want to relive that again.

“Right, back to Gallifrey. We need to take this to Romana immediately.”

Rose nodded and grabbed the edge of the console, preparing for the rough landing. They landed and Rose turned to go towards the door, but a strong hand gripped her wrist forcing her to turn and face the Doctor. After everything they had been through he had always been strong, and even times that were unbearable, he wore a mask, hid his emotions. But now, now grief and sorrow were etched on his face. What she had shown him had truly affected him and she felt her resolve disintegrating, her heart breaking all over again. It was hard to be around him. He was a constant reminder now of what she had lost.

He cupped her face and whispered in a voice hoarse with emotion, “I’m so sorry, Rose.”

Her eyes shimmered with unshed tears and she silently nodded. He leant down and kissed her tenderly, pouring all his love and heart into that kiss. And she felt the tears fall on her cheeks, whether it was his or hers she couldn’t tell. And she kissed him back, but this kiss was full of grief and longing. They pulled back reluctantly, the present situation calling to them both.

Rose turned and saw Cinder watching them with a quizzical look on her face. Rose wiped the tears from her face, too tired to even feel embarrassed by their public display of affection. The Doctor picked up the Temporal Cannon off the console and strode to the door, holding it open for her and Cinder.

They entered the office of Romana, but nobody was there. “Romana!” the Doctor called out. Rose had an uneasy feeling about all of this. The door burst open and a Time Lord strode in, robes billowing behind him. He was tall and muscular, his skin a dark bronze. His black hair was cut short and his blue eyes narrowed on the Doctor.

The Doctor tensed at the sight of him, his face looking none too pleased at the sight of the other man. “Karlax,” he greeted stiffly.

“Doctor,” he replied, his tone bordering on hostile.

“Where’s Romana?”

“Romana is no longer President.”

“What! Since when?” Rose demanded, ignoring the warning look from the Doctor.

Karlax turned those steely blue eyes on her. She could see plainly that he had no liking for her, probably due to her association with the Doctor, whom she could tell he did not like in the least. “Since Rassilon was resurrected and has been elected President.”

Stunned silence greeted his news. They hadn’t even been gone a day. How was this possible? “And where is Romana now?” she finally asked.

Karlax shrugged. “I do not keep track of her whereabouts. She was asked to step down and she did so.”

Rose looked at the Doctor, trying to gauge if he somehow knew. But he had on his neutral mask again. Which was not a good sign. Rose had a feeling she would have to mourn the loss of her good friend as well when this was all over.

“Then I seek audience with our Lord President. I have a matter of the utmost importance to discuss with him,” the Doctor intoned smoothly.

“Everything is of the utmost importance in this War. Why should your news be any more important than that of others?” Karlax countered with a sneer.

The Doctor narrowed his eyes and stepped forward. “When I say it’s important, you of all people should know that it’s important,” he said in a low voice.

“And I know from past experience that your word means nothing.”

The Doctor lost his temper and threw the Temporal Cannon at Karlax who caught it clumsily. “If you don’t believe my word, then believe my evidence. That is a Temporal Cannon taken from a Dalek ship on Moldox.”

Karlax looked at the weapon in his hand, and turned it over, studying from a new angle. Finally he looked up at the Doctor and said in a bitter tone. “Rassilon is in the War Room. Follow me.” He handed the weapon back to the Doctor and took off at a fast pace, not bothering to look back to see if they were following him.

“He doesn’t like you much,” Cinder remarked, pointing out the obvious.

“It’s…complicated.”

“So just another day in your life?” she replied ruefully.

The Doctor smirked. “Indeed,” he replied dryly.

They came to a set of huge wooden doors engraved with the circular designs that Rose knew to be the Gallifreyan language. Karlax effortlessly pushed them opened and entered the cavernous room decked out with ornate chairs of red and gold set in a semi-circle. The circle of chairs faced a dais where there were several more chairs. This must be where the President and the High Council sat during meetings, Rose thought. The seats on the dais were occupied with Time Lords, each pointing and discussing something that was laid out on the heavy obsidian table before them. They looked up at the intrusion of their meeting.

Karlax bowed and stood straight. “Forgive the intrusion, Lord President, but the Doctor has returned with a matter of great importance to discuss with you.”

A tall man strode forward and there was no doubt in Rose’s mind that this was Rassilon. He radiated power and authority. He had short cropped brown hair that was peppered with grey. His blue eyes were so pale they almost seemed translucent. He wore a red robe adored with gold. He cut a rather handsome figure, if his face wasn’t set with arrogance and disdain.

He stopped in front of the Doctor, but his eyes studied Rose and Cinder. Rose held her breathe, but stood tall and unmoving under his scrutiny.

“I have been told about your exploits, Doctor, as well as your wolf. She is quite powerful. Could be very useful in winning this war.”

“You would be foolish to temper with such a power,” the Doctor said mildly, though the threat was thinly veiled.

Rassilon gave a small smile, which deepened the dimple in his chin. “Yes, I heard what she did to Narvol. Quite impressive. Tell me, was she responsible for what happened on Moldox?”

After a beat the Doctor replied. “Yes.”

Rassilon’s eyes twinkled. He walked around the Doctor and came to stand in front of Rose. She met his stare dead on, though her clammy palms belied her nervousness. “You turned those Daleks to dust, Miss Tyler. Quite a feat for a mere human.”

Rose blinked but remained still, trying to figure out where he was heading with this. Out of the corner of her eyes she saw Cinder startle, openly gaping at her. The Doctor had turned around and was watching the interaction with tension, though he remained silent.

“Tell me, Miss Tyler, you fight alongside the Doctor so therefore I must assume that you are on our side. You could destroy all the Daleks in a blink of an eye.”

“Her powers are limited. Housed in a human body. If she overexerted it would mean her probable death,” the Doctor interrupted. “She has part of the Vortex running through her, not the absolute power of the Tantalus Eye.”

Rassilon remained silent, staring intently into her eyes. Then he turned smoothly towards the Doctor. Though he acted as though he had forgotten her, Rose knew that given the chance he would gladly sacrifice her in an effort to win the war. He was biding his time, waiting for a chance to get his hands on her. Rose knew right then that Cinder was right. The Time Lords were willing to do anything to win this war.

“You have news, Doctor?” he queried.

The Doctor handed him the Temporal Cannon. “On Moldox, we infiltrated a Dalek ship and I found information that they plan to harness the Tantalus Eye and use it to erase Gallifrey from history.”

There were gasps and murmurs from the other Time Lords. The Doctor continued. “That is a Temporal Cannon. I witnessed it being used to erase people from history. They plan to use a larger scale weapon.”

“Are you certain of this?” Rassilon asked.

“Absolutely.”

Rassilon looked at Karlax with an unreadable expression and then handed him the weapon. “Lock that away in the vaults.” He then turned to the Doctor. “We must discuss this matter further and formulate a plan to stop the Daleks. I must ask that your companions wait here.”

The Doctor looked like he wanted to protest, but he simply nodded and followed the others through a door on the other side of the room.

Rose let out a breath and went to sit on one of the chairs. Cinder followed and sat next to her.

“Well, that was intense,” she said.

Rose let out a bitter laugh. “He’s creepy, isn’t he?”

“Yeah. I don’t trust him. He’s ruthless. And cunning.”

“That he is,” Rose agreed and shuddered at the way he had looked at her.

“Did you really turn those Daleks to dust?” Cinder asked after a pause.

Rose sighed. “Yeah, but like the Doctor said, my powers are limited. It totally exhausts me using it.”

“That’s why you were passed out when I found you and the Doctor. He had to carry you all the way back to the Tardis.”

“He’s stronger than he looks. I wouldn’t worry about it too much.”

“Maybe. But even though you’re not on the big side, dead weight is still dead weight.”

Rose had to agree with her. She was so lost in her thoughts of the Doctor, that she didn’t notice a shadow fall over them until she felt the sharp prick of a needle on the side of her neck. Everything went instantly black.

 

Rose awoke with a start in a small room. It was dimly lit with no windows and only one door. She was lying on a simple bed with just a pillow and sheet. She sat up and groaned as dizziness overwhelmed her. She closed her eyes and took deep breathes, willing it to pass. Her thoughts were fuzzy and jumbled. What had happened? Then she remembered and fear flooded her. She stood and raced to the door, trying the handle, but it was firmly locked. She was a prisoner. She pounded on the door and screamed for them to let her out. She wasn’t surprised when no one came.

Her head was aching and she went to rub the back of her neck to relieve some of the tension and froze as she felt a thin metallic band fastened around her neck. She frowned. What in the blazes was a collar doing on her and what the hell was it for? She had an inkling of an idea. She closed her eyes and concentrated, willing the power of Bad Wolf to the forefront. She opened her eyes and looked down at her hands. Instead of a swirling power, her skin merely shimmered a golden hue. Well, that explained it. Whoever drugged her also wanted to keep her powers at bay. They wouldn’t dare try to harm her, knowing full well what she was capable of. To physically hurt her or enter her mind would still unleash the power, though only by direct contact. The collar was meant so she couldn’t lash out, escape. And there was only one reason for that. Cinder.

Her pulse quickened and she started banging earnestly at the door. What were they doing to her? She knew there had been something to the look Rassilon had given Karlax. But what did Cinder have to do with it?

She heard the lock give way and she yanked the door open, ready to give a physical beating to whoever was on the other side. She stopped when she saw the Doctor, sonic screwdriver in his hand. His mouth was set in thin line, anger emanating from him. Relief flooded his features and he pulled her onto a tight embrace. She pulled back and said, “Cinder. We have to find her. They drugged me and I woke up here and I have no idea what they are doing to her.”

The Doctor’s eyes flared. Then his eyes darted down and saw the collar on her. He stooped a bit to peer at it, running a finger over it. “My, they certainly aren’t taking any chances. It’s an inhibitor, a device to keep your powers…subdued.”

“Yeah, I figured that. Can you get it off?”

He held the tip of the sonic against the collar and a few seconds later the collar clattered to the stone floor. She rubbed her neck, though truth be told she had hardly noticed it there.

“Better?”

“Much. Thank-you. Where do you think they’ve taken Cinder?”

“I don’t know. I really don’t have a clue as to why they would want her. I thought their interests would have been in you. When I had returned and found that you two were gone I thought that they had surely taken you and were experimenting on you. I can’t tell you what a relief it was to find you here and not in a laboratory.”

“You think they would be stupid enough to try that after Narvol?”

They had started walking at a fast pace down a corridor. “They’re desperate. I wouldn’t put anything past them.”

“What happened with Rassilon? What did he want to discuss with you?”

His pace quickened. “They intend to stop the Daleks, but it would mean the destruction of a solar system. Billions of lives.”

“What? They can’t!”

The Doctor replied bitterly, “In Rassilon’s own words: what are the lives of billions is it means winning this war.”

“We have to stop them.”

“I intend to just as soon as I find a certain fiery redhead.”

They came to the doors of the War Chamber and the Doctor barged in. “Where is she?” he demanded, his eyes settling on Karlax and a few members of the War Council. He advanced on the Time Lord, who stood his ground against the Oncoming Storm.

“We had to verify that you were speaking the truth,” he stated.

“Where is she?” Rose snarled, advancing on the man, feeling satisfied when he took a step back. “I don’t need my powers. I’ll rip you limb from limb.”

Karlax swallowed hard, internally debating on what to do. Finally he strode to a door and pushed a panel, making the door slide open. On the floor lay an unconscious Cinder, her red hair fanned around her in a fiery halo. The Doctor and Rose rushed to her, kneeling on either side of her.

“Cinder?” the Doctor called gently. She moaned and her eyes fluttered open. “What did they do to you?”

She blinked a few times, a frown marring her face. “They…they strapped me to a bed and placed this helmet on my head. I started seeing all my memories.”

“A mind probe,” the Doctor explained. He stood and with indescribable speed and strength he threw Karlax against the wall, holding him there with his forearm pressed against his throat. Karlax struggled, but the Doctor’s hold was too powerful.

“You used a mind probe on her! You could have killed her! What the hell were you thinking?” he shouted.

Rose flinched at the raw outburst that was so uncommon for this version of the Doctor. She had always thought of this him as a pacifist, a soft-spoken man who avoided conflict whenever he could. To see him lose control and actually resort to physical violence was alarming.

“We had to be certain that what you were telling us was the truth. We had to see for ourselves,” Karlax choked out.

“Was my word not enough? Do you honestly think I would lie about something like this?”

“Put him down, Doctor, or I may be forced to intervene,” came the deep baritone of Rassilon.

The Doctor narrowed his gaze on Karlax, but he stepped back, the other man sinking to his knees and rubbing at his neck. He glared up at the Doctor, his eyes full of venom and hatred. Rose helped Cinder to stand up, her arm around her waist to steady her. Cinder had her arm flung over Rose’s shoulder, her face pale and pinched. The fact that she didn’t protest the help meant that she was in pretty bad shape. Rose shuddered to think what she had gone through.

“What is the meaning of this, Rassilon? Was my word not enough?”

Rassilon inclined his head. “Of course it was. We just needed a visual of what actually happened.”

“She could have died!”

Rassilon didn’t look the least bit concerned. Instead he said, “We have a war to fight. That includes you. I have given you your orders, Doctor, and I expect you to obey them.”

The Doctor narrowed his eyes. “Careful, Rassilon. War changes a man, and that includes me.”

With those words he went to Cinder and Rose and helped her carry Cinder out the room. They made it to the Tardis and he placed Cinder in the Med bay. Her coloring had returned and she insisted she was fine, but he still insisted on a neural scan.

“I’m going to send us into the Vortex. Keep an eye on her, please,” he asked in a harried voice.

She nodded her assent and he strode quickly out the med bay, leaving Rose alone with Cinder. “How are you feeling?” she asked, coming to sit in a chair next to the bed.

“Plotting my revenge. So they couldn’t have done much damage if I can still hold a grudge,” she replied with a wry grin.

Rose grinned back. Then her smile fell. “I’m so sorry, Cinder. I failed in keeping you safe.”

Cinder patted her hand. “They were crafty. You fell like a ton of bricks as soon as they injected you. There’s nothing for you to be sorry for. There’s nothing either one of us could have done against such a sneaky attack.”

Rose nodded. The Doctor strode back in, scowling. He went over to the screen and read the neural scan readout. “Well, Cinder. No brain damage.”

Cinder rolled her eyes. “I could have told you that. Can I get up now?”

“Yes, of course,” he replied, extending a hand to help her off the bed. Rose smiled fondly at the gesture. He was rather the gentleman in this incarnation. He caught her looking at him, but instead of smiling back, his eyes deepened in sorrow. Her smile faltered. Then her memories came crashing back and she hurriedly looked away, hiding the tears shimmering in her eyes. Her heart clenched and she took a deep breath, pushing the emotions deep down. They had to stop whatever plan Rassilon had concocted. She straightened and took another deep breath and turned to go to the console room, but stopped dead when she saw the Doctor watching her from the doorway. Was he really going to confront her now? She didn’t think she could deal with a heart to heart with him right now.

So she plastered a smile on her face and asked, “Shall we go and stop Rassilon?” She tried to walk past him, but he swiftly stepped in front of her, blocking her way.

“Doctor,” she warned, her heart hammering in her chest.

“Do you wish I was him?” he asked in a low voice, almost casual.

She blinked and then shook her head. “I’m not doing this now.”

“Now is as good as a time as any. We might not survive this battle. The end is nearing. I can sense it.”

Rose swallowed hard. “We’d better get a move on, Doctor. We don’t have much time.”

“Prophetic words, Rose Tyler. And that’s why I’m demanding my answers now.”

She shook her head again, crossing her arms over her chest. “No. Now move it.”

“No? Are you telling me no?” he asked darkly, those bedroom eyes darkening. Rose felt her pulse speed up and instinctively back away. He followed her until she was backed up against the wall. “I think I have a right to know?”

“I will not answer that question,” she replied stubbornly.

He slammed the palm of his hand against the wall by her head, making her jump. “Answer me! Do you wish I was him?”

She knew he was referring to the human Doctor. Anger flared up in her. How dare he try to tarnish her memory of the man who loved her with every fibre of his being? How dare he demand a comparison, when there was no comparison?

“No,” she admitted quietly, and confusion flooded his face. “He was you, yes. But he was so much more. He gave me everything. His heart, his love…his life. That’s something you’ll never be able to give me and to try and replace him with you would be…sacrilege.” Tears spilled down her cheeks. She felt so hollow and empty inside.

He reeled back as though she had slapped him, hurt plain in his eyes. He deflated, closing his eyes painfully. “I wish I could give you all of that, Rose,” he whispered.

She stepped forward and grasped his hand, giving him weak smile. “Me too. But fate has never been kind to either of us.”

He caressed her cheek and she closed her eyes. He snatched his hand away and she opened her eyes to see him school his features. “Right, let’s go and stop Rassilon.”

He held out his hand and she took it.

Chapter Text

“So what’s the plan?” Cinder asked as soon as they had entered the console room.

“Rassilon plans to use the Tear of Isha to close the Eye. But that will destroy that sector of space and along with it, billions of lives.”

“How?” Cinder asked.

“The Tear of Isha is a stellar manipulator designed to collapse black holes. Using it on the Eye would cause it to collapse and thus suck in and destroy all planets nearby.”

Rose sat heavily on a chair, cradling her head in her hands. “Bigger question is how do we stop it?”

“I managed to find out that it’s being kept on Commander Partheus’s ship. We simply go in and disable or take it.”

Cinder barked out a laugh. “You’re completely mad.”

The Doctor grinned at her. “Yes I am.”

Rose smirked at him and he gave her a playful wink. But she didn’t see him. She saw her human Doctor, and all the times he winked at her playfully. She saw his eyes crinkling at the corners as he grinned at her. She felt her heart constrict and she had to look down. She felt exhausted to the bone. Her heart was no longer in this. She just wanted to curl up and let death consume her. It would be a reprieve from the aching grief that threatened to swallow her up. But she had to remind herself that she needed to focus. There was something bigger to deal with now. She would have to wait to grieve when all of this was over.

“So are you just planning on landing inside his ship?” Rose asked, still staring down at the floor.

“Pretty much, yes.”

She glanced up at his words, his eyes were no longer twinkling. Instead they were closed off, guarded. He knew things were strained. And like her, he didn’t know how to make it right. But like her, he knew they had more important things to worry about right now.

He knelt in front of her. “I’m still me,” he pleaded quietly.

I am him and he is me. Those words from so long ago echoed back to her. She closed her eyes painfully. “I know, Doctor. I’m still grieving. I need time. Just like you needed time. It’s a lot to process, you know.”

“I know,” he said gently, placing a hand on top of hers. “But I need to know: are you with me?”

She looked deep into those dreamy blue-grey eyes. Eyes that were so sincere, that made her feel safe, just like the chocolate brown eyes and piercing blue of her previous Doctors. She leaned forward ad cupped his cheek in the palm of her hand. His eyes never wavered as he waited for her answer.

“Forever,” she whispered.

His whole body relaxed, the tension leaving him. He turned his head and kissed her palm, before standing and helping her to her feet.

Suddenly alarms started sounding and the Doctor quickly turned to the monitor. He stiffened at what he saw.

“What is it? What’s happening?” Rose shouted above the din.

“We were followed by Karlax. How did he find us?” the Doctor replied. He pulled his sonic out and aimed it at Cinder and then looked down to read what it said. “They planted a tracking device on her.”

Cinder’s eyes flared in anger. The ship rocked and shuddered as it felt like they were being fired at.

“Are they shooting at us?” Rose asked, clutching the console for support.

“Yes. Time Torpedoes by the look of it.”

“Are we safe?” Cinder asked, her eyes wide.

“Oh, yes. I installed shields for just such an occasion.”

The firing of the torpedoes continued relentlessly, shaking the Tardis violently, but she remained intact. The firing suddenly stopped and the Doctor straightened, looking at the monitor.

“What now?” Cinder groaned, standing upright. Rose felt for her. Her muscles ached from trying to keep upright and not fall on the floor.

“Come see for yourself,” he replied.

Rose and Cinder came to the monitor and watched in horror as a few Dalek ships started firing at the five Battle Tardis’s, blowing them apart. The Doctor rapidly punched a few commands in the keyboard and the Tardis materialised amongst the wreckage of one of the Tardis’s.

“We should be hidden from sight here.”

A low groan alerted them and they rounded the console and finding the badly wounded form of Karlax lying on the floor.

“Cinder, help me get him to the Zero Room. He should be stable there and be able to regenerate. Rose keep an eye on things for me, please.”

Rose nodded and watched as the Doctor and Cinder carried Karlax between them. As much as she loathed Karlax, she would not throw him out into the vacuum of space to his imminent and permanent death.

A short while later both returned. Cinder didn’t look too pleased, but she remained silent. “The Daleks have gone,” Rose informed them.

The Doctor nodded, not surprised. He typed in some more coordinates and they landed. “Cinder, keep your gun close. We’re going to need it.”

She nodded solemnly, patting her gun in confirmation. He nodded. “Right. Now we’re going to have to fight our way in and hijack the Tardis.”

“And then?” Cinder queried.

“I’m still working on it.”

Rose rolled her eyes. So typical of the Doctor. Never one to plan too far ahead. Or more accurately, making it up as he goes along.

“Oh boy,” Cinder remarked. Then she barged through the doors, barely giving the Doctor and Rose time to follow behind her.

Things happened very quickly. Cinder fired a few shots while the Doctor ran in a crouch, quickly disarming a Time Lord of his weapon. Rose knocked out one of the pilots with a hard punch to the face, leaving him in a crumpled heap.

“What is the meaning of this?” a man demanded.

“Just doing what’s necessary, Partheus,” the Doctor replied, starting to pilot the Tardis while Cinder had her gun trained on the Time Lord Partheus.

“What are you doing?” Rose asked, sidling up to him, but keeping a watchful eye on Partheus. He was tall and gangly, with strawberry blonde hair and a clean shaven face.

“Taking us to the end of the universe,” the Doctor said with a manic grin.

“And what is there?”

The Tardis stopped and the Doctor gestured to the door. “See for yourself.”

Rose grinned back at him and then strode to the doors, opening them to reveal a giant, swirling red sun. It was breathtaking in its beauty and Rose could only stare in wonder. The Doctor came to stand next to her, watching her as she watched the dying sun.

“The red giant, the last star in existence waiting to burn out,” he explained.

“Even with the horrors of the war, there is still beauty to be found,” she murmured.

“Yes, there is.”

She turned and blushed when she saw that he was looking at her instead of the wondrous sight before them. He swiftly turned, going to retrieve the Tear. It was rather nondescript in appearance. The Tear was shaped like a dagger, the end thicker and wider than the hilt. It glowed blue to the touch. Rose didn’t need to touch it to know the enormous power it could wield.

“And what? You just going to throw it into the sun?” Cinder asked, her eyes glued to the Tear.

“Yes! A perfectly simple plan,” the Doctor enthused.

Cinder was knocked down, her gun kicked across the room. The Doctor was tackled to the floor and he and Partheus rolled around and wrestled, each trying to get the upper hand. Rose could only watch, not daring to interfere lest she somehow hurt the Doctor. Cinder scampered up and retrieved the Tear that had fallen to the floor and flung it into the burning star. Rose gawked as she watched the sun turn in on itself, collapsing and turning into a black hole.

Partheus stood triumphantly, his weapon retrieved from the depths of the Doctor’s pockets and aimed it at the Doctor. Rose made to step forward, but the Doctor held up his hand to stop her. His eyes were fixed on Partheus. “Remember this, Partheus. I just stopped you from committing mass murder of such magnitude.”

Partheus paused, absorbing the Doctor’s words. Finally he spoke. “Yes, but now we have the problem of the Daleks and them erasing Gallifrey. You may have prevented one catastrophe, but you have aided another.”

“Yes, yes. I’m working on that,” the Doctor replied impatiently.

Partheus stared at him for a few more moments, then he ushered them with his pointed weapon. “You best be on your way and damn well sort it out.”

The Doctor nodded his thanks and they entered their Tardis hastily.

“My gun,” Cinder protested when they got inside.

“Leave it. Believe me, he will shoot if we do not leave now,” the Doctor said, piloting them away from Partheus’s ship.

Cinder didn’t look too pleased. “What now?”

The Doctor drummed his slender fingers against the console. “Now we return to Gallifrey.”

“What! Are you insane?” Cinder shouted.

“Yes, I think we already established that, thank-you,” he said brusquely.

“Doctor, what are you thinking? Rassilon basically gave your order of execution,” Rose reasoned.

The Doctor nodded in agreement. “Yes, you’re right. I doubt I’ll be getting any help from them. Especially now. Only one thing left.”

“And that is?”

He looked at her, his eyes drained and tired. “Let’s go stop some Daleks.”

 

“The Eye of Harmony,” the Doctor declared, but Rose could tell his heart was not in it. She entwined her hand with his and he gave her a small smile, one that was tainted with despondency.

They went to the monitor and watched the fleet of Dalek ships hovering around the Eye, keeping guard. On one of the ships protruded a cannon, enormous in size and just as threatening as it looked.

“Shit. They have the cannon. Why haven’t they used it yet?” Cinder swore, receiving a reprimanding look from the Doctor for her foul language, which she ignored.

“It’s busy charging. It’s using the radiation from the Eye to charge up. Could take a while with a weapon that size.”

“Any ideas on how to stop them?” Rose asked. There was no way they could get near enough to destroy it without being destroyed themselves by the Daleks.

“One,” he mused. He turned a few dials on the monitor until he hit a frequency and then pushed down on a button, speaking up. “Hello Daleks. The ones guarding the Eye and the Temporal Cannon. This is the Doctor. I have it on good authority that you are looking for me. Well, here I am! I offer my surrender.”

“What the hell are you playing at?” Cinder demanded, her horror mirroring Rose’s.

The Doctor turned to her and placed his hands on her shoulder. “Getting us closer.”

“It’s suicide!” she protested.

“Yes, but self-sacrifice can go a long way.” He flicked a few switches and Rose felt the Tardis being beamed onto the Dalek ship.

“Doctor,” she said nervously.

His grip tightened on her hand. “I know.”

She took a deep breath, her nerves turning to jelly. This was really, really not good. But she steeled herself. “Together?”

“Together,” he said without looking at her. The Tardis boarded with a soft thud and all three exited the Tardis and entered the Dalek ship. They came face to face with three Daleks, their guns trained on their prisoners.

“YOU WILL FOLLOW US!” one Dalek intoned in the gravelly, computerised voiced typical of a Dalek.

“Lead the way,” the Doctor intoned.

They followed the one that had spoken and the other two followed behind them. They came to a circular room with hundreds of Daleks circling all around them. Rose stiffened, but the Doctor urged her forward. She glanced back at Cinder, noting her extreme nervousness. She offered her hand to the girl and she gratefully took it.

And in the centre of the circle formed by the Daleks was a Dalek casing, roughly twice the size of a normal Dalek. It was a brilliant shade of red, almost scarlet in color and imprinted with black globes.

“WITNESS THE PREDATOR DALEK,” one Dalek intoned. This one was a little bit bigger than the rest and red in color, though a paler red than the Predator Dalek.

The Predator Dalek casing opened up, revealing a burnished metal seat and surrounded by dials and probes and monitors. But the most chilling aspect was the large spike inserted in the headrest of the chair, clearly meant to be driven into the back of the skull of its occupant.

“Pretty,” the Doctor commented drily.

“YOU SHALL ENTER.”

The Doctor startled. “To what means?” he asked incredulously.

“YOU SHALL BECOME DALEK.”

“Me? A Dalek? Why?” he asked, his voice pitching high.

“WE NEED YOUR CREATIVITY. YOU WOULD MAKE THE PERFECT DALEK.”

The Doctor frowned and let go of Rose’s hand to inspect the Predator Dalek. “Hmm. So you plan on neutralising my emotions and memories to exploit my ‘creativity’.”

“YES.”

“Well, that’s just preposterous.”

“EXPLAIN.”

The Doctor clasped his hands behind his back and looked skyward, as though seeking patience to explain. “Emotions are what make me, well, me. You take away my emotions, you essentially take away what makes me, me, and thus the ‘creativity’ that you seek.”

There was a moment of silence then the Dalek spoke up. “YOU SHALL ENTER.”

“No! You can’t. You must see the truth behind his words,” Rose protested.

“THE DOCTOR SHALL ENTER.” Their three guards rolled forward, a weapon trained on each of them. “OR THE FEMALES DIE.”

The Doctor tilted his head and then moved towards them, as though to embrace them. Then Rose heard the materialisation of the Tardis as she landed on them. She blinked at the familiar sight of the console room and then saw an unfamiliar man at the controls. He had dark skin, and when he looked up she saw that he had sapphire blue eyes.

“Karlax, you’ve regenerated,” the Doctor enthused, those Rose could tell it was all an act.

Karlax frowned deeply. “I was meant to go to Gallifrey.”

“Ah, yes. I set the Tardis to home in on the tracking device you so kindly implanted in Cinder.”

“You knew this would happen?” Cinder asked.

“I hoped. Though leaving the door to the Zero Room basically cemented my plan.”

“You had an escape plan all along,” Rose laughed. The Doctor grinned back at her and winked.

So caught up in their momentary joy of escape than neither the Doctor nor Rose noticed the gun that Karlax pulled out from his robes, aiming it with purpose at the Doctor. Cinder jumped in front of the Doctor just as Karlax pulled the trigger. Rose watched in horror as Cinder fell to the floor in slow motion, the Doctor catching her before she hit. Blood spluttered from her mouth as she tried to breathe.

Rose turned swiftly and blasted Karlax with an energy blast that sent him flying into the bookcase across the room, knocking him out. She turned and knelt by Cinder, grasping her hand in her own. But the fire had already left her eyes. Her hand was limp in Rose’s.

“Cinder,” she begged, knowing it was futile. She was already gone. A fearless and courageous companion, whose life had been extinguished too soon. She looked up at the Doctor’s own sorrow filled face. He gently laid Cinder down on the floor and stood stiffly. He glared in the direction of Karlax and then strode with uncaged fury to the console and proceeded to dematerialise the Tardis, leaving Karlax to the ‘mercy’ of the Daleks. Rose could not find fault for his actions and remained silent, tears falling on her fallen comrade.

Grief and sorrow overwhelmed her and she closed her eyes and opened herself up to the power within her. She willed the destruction of all the Daleks around the Tantalus Eye and all of them in that room, including the Predator Dalek and in her rage she disintegrated Karlax. She felt her power straining, and knew she had to stop. She only wished she could bring Cinder back to life, but she had knowledge of what she had done to Jack and didn’t want to place that curse on her.

She concentrated on reigning the power back in, and it was like swimming against the tide. She felt it exhausting her. Slowly she opened her eyes and saw the Doctor kneeling in front of her, Cinder’s body between them. He was saying something, but she couldn’t hear him. She took a deep breath and forced the power back. The golden light absorbed back into her and she felt herself going weak.

“I took care of what Daleks I could,” she mumbled before collapsing as darkness overtook her. She felt the Doctor catch her before she hit the floor.

 

Her eyes felt heavy, refusing to open. She groaned, her limbs stiff and heavy as though she had overexerted herself. Memories came flooding back and she choked back a sob, pulling the thick blankets tighter around her.

“Rose, are you okay?” came the gentle voice of the Doctor.

She slowly forced her eyes open and found herself looking into his concerned face. “No,” she finally admitted, rubbing her eyes tiredly.

He nodded, gently brushing stray hairs off her face. “After what you’ve gone through I would be very surprised if you were alright.”

“I’m just so tired. Tired of all the death and destruction. Of losing good people. I don’t think my heart can take any more, Doctor,” she whispered. Grief flashed in his eyes and she pushed herself into a sitting position. “But now I understand why you run all the time. If you kept still long enough, all the memories would consume you. Drive you mad. Especially after the war, you were almost manic in your need to run away.”

He placed a finger on her lips, stopping her musings. “Best not to reveal too much of my future.”

“I wasn’t going to. Just observing you character.”

He licked his lips. “When you get as old as I am, distractions are all you have. It’s not easy. It’s never easy for people like us, Rose. We give so much, sacrifice so much, and in the end our reward is pain and suffering…it’s easy to get lost in those emotions, but much harder to get out.”

“So you don’t dwell on it.”

He nodded. “I don’t dwell on it. Keep moving forward. And if you have a hand to hold to get you through it, even better,” he said, entwining their fingers.

She gave his hand a tight squeeze and then pushed back the blanket. She was dressed in pajamas. She looked at the Doctor with a raised eyebrow. He gave her a small smile. “I tried not to peek.”

She rolled her eyes. “Sure you didn’t, gentleman that you are. But I am no lady, and that’s why I peeked when you were in a similar situation.” She stood and headed to the bathroom to get a much deserved shower. She looked over her shoulder and was pleased when she saw him gaping.

The hot shower eased her aching muscles and helped wash away the dirt and grime that she felt would never leave her. Wrapping a towel around her she went back to the bedroom and found him sitting on the bed, deep in thought. She went to the closet to select some clothes.

“Rassilon contacted me shortly after your destruction of the Daleks.”

“Oh?” she queried, selecting a simple white dress with long sleeves.

“He has congratulated us on the defeat of the Daleks and has welcomed us back with open arms.”

“How gracious of him,” she retorted drily.

“We are to be stationed at Arcadia.”

“Is that good or bad?” she asked, moving to the dresser to get a pair of panties and bra.

“I don’t know, Rose. I have a feeling that something big is going to happen there. This body has always had a strong sense of precognition and I have a feeling that once we go there, there will be no turning back.” He was looking down at the floor, deep in thought.

She let the towel fall to the floor and put on the white panties and bra, both simple in design. She slipped the dress on and when she turned, she found the Doctor looking at her, his eyes dark and…predatory. But her heart just was not in it. Too much had happened. She was still reeling from the grief that her recovered memories had burdened her with, and now the added loss of Cinder, a woman she was willing to call a friend.

“Before we go, there is one thing we need to do.”

He noticed the serious look on her face and his mood turned sombre. “Yes. Cinder.”

“We need to bury her.” It was said as a simple fact, though laced with remorse and sadness.

He stood and took her hand, walking with her to the console room. “While you were recovering, I did a bit of investigating and discovered where Cinder’s home was. The homestead is nothing but ashes and I discovered three skeletal remains.”

“Her family?”

He nodded. “Mom, dad and brother.”

“She mentioned that she had been rescued at the age seven. Though she never mentioned them – it must have been too painful to mention. Imagine losing everyone you love at the tender age of seven?” Rose felt her heart grow heavy with the revelation. No wonder Cinder was so tough. She had to be in order to survive at such a young age.

The Doctor remained silent, he, too, lost in his own thoughts. “I thought we might bury them together. A tribute to Cinder.”

They stopped at the door and Rose leaned in to give him a kiss on the cheek. “Thank-you,” she whispered.

He gave her a sad smile back, but said nothing. They exited the Tardis and she found herself on a pasture, the sun rising over the mountains in the background. She could imagine this once being a beautiful and peaceful place, a place Cinder had once called home. Lush green fields. A bubbling brook with crystalline water flowing through. A house that was home. Now all that was laid bare was a charred, burnt down structure that had once been the house. The grass around was brown and brittle, the stream long since dried up.

“It will take a while for Moldox to return to being the vibrant and lively planet it once was. Thanks to you.”

“I only destroyed a few. Others will take their place. The only way is for this war to end.”

“I know,” he said, staring off into the distance. He squeezed her hand once more and gave her a small smile before he produced a shovel from his pocket and started digging four graves. Rose went back into the Tardis and let the ship guide her to the room she was seeking. Inside she found what she was looking for and gave a mental thanks to the Tardis.

Two hours later the Doctor was finished with his sombre task of digging the graves and finding the skeletal remains of Cinder’s family, laying each in their respective graves. He wiped his face with his handkerchief and looked around for Rose. He mentally reached out and found her signature in the Tardis. When he came to the door, he knocked softly and heard her reply, “Come in, Doctor.”

He poked his head through the door and saw her sitting on a stool, bent over a slab of stone, her brow furrowed as she carved into the stone with a laser pen the Tardis must have produced for her. She looked up and gave him a smile, though tinged with sadness.

“Just thought I’d make headstones. What do you think?”

He came over and peered over her shoulder. It was a tribute to Cinder’s mother, as were the other two for her father and brother. “I thought we could work on Cinder’s together, if you’d like?”

He beamed at her. “I’d very much like that.” He handed her a piece of paper and she took it, puzzled.

“What’s this?”

“Cinder’s real name. As well as the names of her parents and brother.”

Rose unfolded the piece of paper and read what was written there, tears shimmering in her eyes. She folded it back up ad nodded. “I’ll put it on her tombstone.”

They worked together and when it was completed the Doctor helped Rose carry them out to the graves. They placed each tombstone at the head of the graves of Cinder’s parents and brother, silently paying their respects as they shovelled dirt over the skeletons.

Then the Doctor went back into the Tardis and emerged a few minutes later carrying Cinder’s body wrapped in a white sheet. Rose watched in sombre silence as he gently laid Cinder’s body in the grave he had dug. His face was stony, though when he looked up at her, his eyes were full of grief. They went to work, covering her body with dirt, and with each shovelful, Rose felt her heart growing heavier. To honor the dead was meant to bring some peace to the living, but Rose could find no peace or justice in what happened to Cinder. She was not meant to die, especially so young. It just wasn’t fair.

“She died to save me,” the Doctor murmured after the last bit of dirt was placed on the grave.

Rose didn’t reply. Instead she lifted the headstone and the Doctor helped her place the heavy slab at the head of the grave. She stood back and read aloud the words that had been carved.

“Here lies Cinder. The bravest of us all. Who selflessly gave her life. We will always honor and remember her and the fire that burned within her. Her sacrifice will not be forgotten. No more.”

“No more,” the Doctor stated firmly, clasping Rose’s hand and leading her towards the Tardis, his words echoing all through time and space.

Chapter Text

They arrived in Arcadia, the Doctor having landed them on one of the Guard Towers, and the first thing Rose noticed was how quiet it was. One could almost imagine that there wasn’t a war raging. Almost.

“Arcadia. Gallifrey’s second city. Protected by four hundred sky trenches,” the Doctor lectured as they exited the Tardis.

“Those sky trenches?” Rose asked, pointing to the hundreds of towering columns surrounding the city.

“Yes. They form a shield over the atmosphere protecting from aerial invasions. They have never been penetrated." His voice took on a faraway tone as he stared up into the sky and his brow furrowed, as though something were bothering him.

“But?” she gently prodded.

He snapped out of his reverie. “One could almost say it’s unsinkable.”

She blinked at the thinly veiled reference to the Titanic. “You think they’ll be breached?”

He sighed. “I’m finding that in this war, things that I thought were impossible have been proven possible.”

She tried to think back to what little the Doctor had told her about the war, but she couldn’t recall if he had ever mentioned Arcadia. Though this Doctor seemed to have a sense of foreboding about this place and she had to agree with him on this one. The tranquility and pretentious sense of peace seemed rather fake, unreal.

“What about Gallifrey? Is it protected by those sky trenches?”

“Yes, the whole planet is protected by a quantum force field.”

She nodded, somewhat relieved that Gallifrey was protected, but she knew that those sky trenches would not protect Gallifrey from annihilation at the Doctor’s own hands. She shivered, remorse flooding her. The profound guilt he must have suffered knowing he had killed his own race, his own people. She looked over at her current Doctor. Yes, his face showed the strain of the war, but it held none of the heaviness that her first Doctor carried with him. Nothing would ever ease his conscience from what he did.

“So what now?” she asked, hoping he hadn’t noticed her shift in mood. Thankfully, he was watching the city below them, the people milling around and going about their day to day business.

“We are to meet up with the General and go from there.”

“Rassilon didn’t give you any other orders? Just told you to come here?”

“In a nutshell, yes. They consulted the Matrix and noticed a few…red flags…concerning Arcadia. He was concerned and asked me to come and keep a watchful eye over things.”

“And you don’t think it’s a trap?” Rose asked as they started walking towards a door.

“No.” At her skeptical look he elaborated, “I think after the whole Moldox incident, he has decided that we would be a bigger threat if he made enemies out of us. So he’s trying to make nice.”

“Keep your friends close and your enemies closer.”

“Which works both ways.”

Rose grinned. The Doctor certainly was no fool. He didn’t trust Rassilon, but he knew he had to be in his good graces to get information. “Sneaky.”

He grinned back. “I try.”

They entered the elevator that was behind the door and descended downwards. They came to a large room where there were soldiers in bulky rust red armor with Gallifreyan symbols set on the shoulders. Some soldiers were fitting other soldiers with helmets with red tinted visors covering the eyes. Rose startled as one soldier cried out in fear. The soldier fitting him with the headgear was instantly at his side, reassuring him.

“It’s just a hallucination. That’s all.” The man speaking was slight in build, with sandy brown hair and a pleasant face. And just as quickly as the disturbance occurred, things went back to normal, as though things like this were a common occurrence.

“What was that about?” Rose whispered to the Doctor.

“The new recruits are being fitted with headcams, which record everything they see. It is connected directly to the brain, and one of the side effects are hallucinations,” a large built man with a bald head stated, walking towards them. He had a stern looking face, but his eyes held kindness.

“Or premonitions,” the Doctor countered.

The man smiled thinly. “No such thing, Doctor. Now are you going to introduce me to your lovely companion?”

The Doctor gave a long suffering sigh but grinned at the Commander. “Commander Jarvol, may I introduce my companion, Miss Rose Tyler. Though I suspect you already knew.”

Commander Jarvol grinned, turning his gruff demeanor into a jovial one. He tapped the side of his nose and stage whispered conspiratorially to them, “I may have received interesting news about my two new visitors to Arcadia.”

“All good, I hope?” Rose asked, giving him her sunniest smile.

“Maybe, though time will tell if there’s any truth to it or not,” he replied, extending his hand to shake hers. Rose liked him, but she sensed that under the gruffness, and sometimes joking, there was an intelligence that had made him a Commander.

He turned to the Doctor and said. “There’s not much happening, so you might as well take your Tardis and park it in the housing provided for you.” He proceeded to give the Doctor directions. He then turned to Rose and shook her hand once more. “It was a pleasure meeting you, Miss Tyler, and I’m sure we’ll get better acquainted. But for now, settle in and take a tour of our lovely city, Arcadia.”

He nodded his head at the Doctor and turned to walk briskly back to the soldiers.

Rose turned to the Doctor. “What exactly are we meant to do here if the city is so well guarded?”

“I’ve still retained my rank as General Commander, so I’ll be working side by side with Jarvol, and that means you as well. And even though the quantum force field keeps the planet safe, we still have to protect it from attempted invasions. It’s best to fight the hordes and decimate them before they grow too large and powerful.”

“So we’ll be fighting up there?” she asked, pointing skywards, referencing to outer space.

“Simply put, yes.”

They started walking back towards the elevator to get back to the Tardis. “So what kind of enemies are out there?”

“In the past it has been simple, nothing we couldn’t handle. But lately there have been mutations and beings far more advanced than normal. No doubt the work of the Daleks. They are quite intent on destroying Arcadia.”

“But why? Why not go directly for the Capitol?”

“To destroy ones enemy you have to first destroy what makes them strong. Arcadia may not be the Capitol, but it is a huge support system, our crutch. The Capitol holds the Time Lords and in turn the Time Lords watch over time and keep order. The Arcadians are simply Gallifreyans that aren’t Time Lords. But they keep everything running, from growing the food to manufacturing goods.”

Rose nodded. “Almost like a system of monarchy.”

“In a way.”

They entered the Tardis and the Doctor set their co-ordinates. When they had landed Rose stepped out and found herself in a room that was painted a light yellow, a slight breeze dancing with the white curtains. A large king sized bed spread with ivory colored bedding dominated the room and a beautifully ornately carved dresser made of oak sat in one corner.

The Doctor stepped out behind her. “Our villa. We’re set in the heart of the city.”

Rose went to investigate the rest of the house. It was quite small, though she pondered that she might be comparing it to the Tardis and her never-ending vastness. There was a bathroom with an iron clawed tub. The kitchen was modest with the essentials for cooking. Nothing extravagant there. There was the lounge with a yellow couch, but otherwise the house was bare of furnishings. But she didn’t care. They had the Tardis. She doubted she would be spending much time here anyway.

“Why did they provide us with living quarters if we have the Tardis?” she asked.

He looked down at the floor, having followed her into the lounge. He fiddled with his pocket watch nervously, and that’s when she realised. “You’re going to have to leave me here so you can go off and fight.”

“Not all the time. You will be with me the majority of the time. But there will be times when I will have to go to the Capitol or elsewhere and you’ll have to stay here.”

She nodded. She wanted to argue, but she logically knew that they couldn’t always be side by side. “So are you leaving now?”

He gave her a tired smile. “No. Today is for us.”

She sauntered up to him and tugged at his lapels, drawing him closer to her. “Well, then. I have you all to myself and there’s something I would really, really like you to do,” she purred.

She saw his eyes widen and hid her smirk. His hands had come up to her waist, holding her in place. “And what would that be?” he asked, his voice going just an octave higher.

She leant forward and whispered against his lips. “I want you to…” she kissed him lightly on  the lips, “show me…” she licked his lower lip and his hands tightened on her waist, though his face was closed off, waiting to see what she would do next. “Arcadia,” she finished, giving him one last peck and pulling out of his grasp, heading to the door.

“I beg your pardon?” he asked incredulously from behind her.

She turned and gave him a wicked grin. “Give me a tour of Arcadia. Honestly, Doctor, what did you think I was going to suggest?” she asked innocently.

He blinked. And blinked again. Almost as though his superior brain was having trouble thinking. Then his eyes darkened and he stalked towards her, until she was backed up against the door, and he placed his hands on the door on either side of her head, effectively trapping her in. “You, Rose Tyler, play very dirty,” he said huskily, his eyes locked on her with such intensity that she was trying hard not to squirm and look away.

She grinned up at him. “And what are you going to do about it?” she asked boldly.

He stared at her for a moment, warring within himself as to what his next move would be. He stood up straight and took her hand, opening the door. “I guess I’m going to show you Arcadia.”

She should have been disappointed, but she knew in her heart that this was going to be the choice he would make. He was never one to cross that line. But she was going to see Arcadia, and she was determined to enjoy the tour. She smiled up at him and replied, “Lead the way.”

 

Arcadia was breathtaking beautiful. Everywhere Rose looked there were tall buildings and smaller dwellings. Snow-capped mountains could be seen in the distance, framed by the orange sky and two suns, and just beyond that she could see the domed capsule that housed the Capitol. Gallifrey.

Children were running around, their red and orange cotton robes flapping around their knees as they ran, their laughter echoing in the soft breeze. Adults milled around, chatting and going about their business. It was a bustling city, but Rise noticed how peaceful and tranquil it was. There was an undercurrent of happiness and contentment in the air. She began to feel herself relax and enjoy the atmosphere.

“You sure you want a tour of the whole city?” the Doctor asked with a smirk on his face.

She laughed. “I didn’t realise it was so huge! And everyone seems so happy.”

“Yes, I had fond childhood memories of Arcadia. A wonderful place for a child.”

A small girl of about five with wavy chestnut brown hair skipped up to Rose. Rose knelt down to eye level with the child and the little girl handed her a white rose.

“It’s beautiful. Thank-you,” Rose said. The girl grinned and dashed away.

“Here, let me,” the Doctor offered. She handed him the rose and he gently swept her loose waves from her face and gently tucked the flower behind her ear. “Beautiful,” he murmured.

She felt her cheeks grow warm and then in the distance she heard music playing. She grinned, tugging on his hand. “Sounds like there’s a party going on.”

He let her lead him. “Not very likely. Gallifreyans aren’t known for partying.”

“Oh, liven up, Doctor,” she mock scolded as they went through twists and turns, her ears guiding them to the festivity. They entered an open area, a courtyard of sorts. The natives were dancing and Rose stood a moments watching as their bodies swayed, their arms interlocked as they twirled around, their feet jigging to the rhythm.

“It’s almost Irish the way they’re dancing. Even the music has a certain Irish quality to it,” she mused aloud.

The Doctor tilted his head and listen to the stringed instruments playing, the flutes and drums adding to the melody. “You know, I never made that connection before. But you are right.”

She tugged on his hand. “Dance with me?”

He looked into those pleading whiskey colored eyes and he found he could not deny her. He smiled and acquiesced, leading her into the middle of the throng. No one paid the outsiders much attention, enjoying the festivities too much. He interlocked his arm with hers and then after a pause they got into the rhythm of the music, twirling and swaying. He got lost in the music, the sound of her laughter blending in with the melodies and he felt himself rather enjoying it all. It had been such a long time since he had had any fun, laughed and danced and enjoyed the moment.

They danced and drank the fruity drinks that tasted like pineapple. He stepped back and watched Rose, her white dress and loose blonde hair standing out in contrast to the red cotton robes worn by the commoners. She wore a broad grin, her face radiating with delight, her body swaying to the music. She locked eyes with him and she sauntered over, throwing her arms around his neck. He held her at the waist, enjoying how lovely her curves felt beneath his fingers.

“Doctor?” she asked in a low voice, her eyes still twinkling in merriment.

“Hmm?” He watched as her face slowly softened, not becoming serious, but neither losing the joy in her eyes.

“Make love to me.”

And in that moment he felt everything freeze, waiting with baited breath for his answer. The pinnacle, the tipping point in their relationship. He looked down and intertwined their hands. Then he stepped back, keeping his hold on her tight, and pulled her back to the Tardis, their pace quickening as they both felt the urgency of the moment.

They burst through the Tardis doors, the Doctor firmly locking them. When he turned he found her at the console, facing him, leaning back slightly and clutching the console at the edges on either side of her.

He walked up to her, pressing his body against hers, and cupped her face. The kiss started off slow and sensual, and gradually deepened until it became fierce and possessive. Her fingers were in his hair, nails scraping against his scalp, causing him to moan into her mouth. He retaliated by biting softly on her lower lip. His hands wandered all over her body, and he couldn’t help but think that this was going too fast. He wanted to enjoy her, savor her, and explore every inch of her body. He pulled back and confusion flashed across her face. He scooped her into his arms in a swift motion, causing her to yelp in surprise, and carried her to her bedroom.

He gently set her down and she stood in front of him, uncertainty crossing her features. He couldn’t help but marvel at her beauty, from her tousled hair to her flushed cheeks and kiss-swollen lips.

He lowered his hands and gripped at her dress, slowly pulling it up over her thighs. She silently lifted her arms and he pulled the dress up and over and discarded it absently, barely registering where it landed as he tossed it to the side and she slipped off her white sandals. She stood before him like a Venetian goddess, clad only in her lacy white bra and panties. He gently pulled her against him, and kissed her tenderly, his hands caressing down her spine, stopping just above the hem of her panties. She shivered, a sigh escaping her lips. His fingers trailed upwards and he deftly unclasped her bra, pulling back enough so he could remove it and toss it in the general direction of the dress.

He kissed along her neck and jawline, sucking and nipping at pulse points, his one hand snaking between them to cup her breast. She moaned as he tweaked a nipple, making it harden beneath his touch. His lips found hers and he walked them back to the bed. He gently lowered her down onto the bed and lowered himself onto her. She wrapped her legs around his waist and pulled him in for a kiss. Her hands were in his hair, nails scarping against his scalp. Her hands explored lower, but there was too much clothing. She yanked at his jacket, silently urging him to take it off.

“Clothes off, now,” she all but growled.

He flashed her a grin but stood up, shrugging his jacket off. She half sat up, resting on her elbows and watched as he slowly stripped for her. It wasn’t intentional, but there were so many layers and buttons. He deftly unbuttoned his shirt and struggled a bit with the cuffs but it finally came off and lay in a heap with his jacket, vest, cravat and boots. He unbuckled his belt and unzipped his pants, lowering it and finally stepping out of them. He stood before her in just a pair of black boxer briefs, his erection visibly showing through the material.

His eyes darkened with intent and he lowered himself on top of her again. He kissed her slowly and then started kissing down her neck and lower until he kissed the spot between her breasts. His one hand came up to cup her breast, teasing the nipple. At the same time her lowered his mouth around her other nipple, his tongue flicking over it, making it harden. He gently bit down on her nipple, making her arch up into him, moaning in pleasure. He continued to suck and bite, his hand left her breast and lowered down her abdomen until he touched the edge of her panties. Slowly he slipped his fingers under the material, finding her hot and wet. He slowly rubbed at her clit and she cried out, her one hand fisting into his hair. He slipped two fingers inside of her, and slowly thrust in and out and flicked her clit with his thumb. She cried out as her orgasm overtook her, her back arching off the bed.

He pulled back satisfied and lowered himself until he was at eye level with her undies. He slowly pulled them down over her hips and finally off. He parted her thighs as he knelt on the floor and placed her one knee over his shoulder. She half sat up, watching him, her face gloriously flushed from her orgasm. He looked back at her with dark eyes and lowered himself to her core. He stroked her with his tongue, lapping her up and relishing in the sweet taste that was her. He inserted two fingers into her, thrusting as he licked at her, swirling his tongue against her clit. Her hips bucked and he used his free arms to hold her hips down and in place. She was making deliciously mewling sounds, her orgasm close.

“Doctor, please. I want you inside me. Please,” she panted.

He lifted his head and smirked at her. He stood and pulled down his boxers, his erection springing free. Rose marvelled at the wondrous sight that was him. He lowered himself, positioning himself between her legs and she wrapped her legs around his waist, pulling him down so she could kiss him fiercely, tasting herself on his lips.

He thrust into her and she cried out. She clutched at his back, her nails digging into his skin. He went slowly at first, groaning in pleasure at the sensation. And then it was like he couldn’t hold himself back any more. His rhythm became faster and harder and more urgent. Rose felt her orgasm building up and she cried out, “Doctor!”

Rose calling his name out in the throes of an orgasm seemed to send him over the edge and he cried out her name, spilling himself into her as he came. He collapsed on top of her, breathing hard. She clutched at him, her own breathing ragged.

He slowly lifted himself up and rested his weight onto his elbows. He looked down at her with such love that she instantly saw her metacrisis Doctor looking down at her. And instead of being saddened, she knew she had found him again. She cupped his face between her palms and kissed him, pouring all of her love into that kiss.

That night they both slept soundly, having found some peace in each other’s arms.

Chapter Text

Six months had passed, or so Rose thought. It was hard to keep track of time and she usually measured it by when she went to sleep and woke up. Days and nights were longer here on Gallifrey and she sometimes had to ask the Doctor how many Earth months had passed.

They had been kept busy, with fighting off invasions and being summoned to other planets to help with the fighting. Every now and then they had to thwart the Daleks plans, which proved very dangerous. But she was happy that he insisted that she be by his side, helping, though truth be told, she didn’t feel like she was helping much. Using a gun felt alien to her and hand to hand combat was not easy. She had her training from Torchwood, but that proved futile on a few occasions when she came up against an enemy that was superbly fast and lethal. Usually she had to resort to using her powers, which she found was now easier to control once she had gotten over her fear of it. It was a part of her just as much as she was a part of it.

She was in one of the guard towers helping Rathon, the pleasant faced soldier she had seen on her first day here. They had struck up an easy friendship, his constant chatter helping Rose through her nerves. They were fitting a new recruit, a young lad who looked to be no older than eighteen, though she knew that he had to be much older. Gallifreyans aged much more slowly, their lifespans usually ranging at about one hundred and twenty years.

The Doctor had been gone a week now, having been summoned to the Capitol. He had felt it would be better for Rose to stay behind, saying something along the lines that he didn’t want her to kill Rassilon. She had to agree on that one. She still hadn’t forgiven him for what happened to Cinder. Nor his orders to have them assassinated by Karlax.

She was startled out of her musings by the sharp cry of fear by the soldier. Even after helping with a few of these sittings, she couldn’t get used to the utter cries of terror when they experienced hallucinations.

Once Rathon calmed the soldier down and handed him over to another soldier for weapon selection, Rose turned to him. “Are they really hallucinations? Could they possibly be premonitions?”

Rathon turned to her with those baby blue eyes of his, making him look so much younger. “I certainly hope they are hallucinations. I really can’t bear the thought of them being premonitions, especially after some of the things I’ve seen,” he said, shuddering. He placed his own helmet on his head and grinned at her. “I’m taking the soldier up on the tower to show him the ropes and teach him how to operate the scanners.”

Rose nodded. “Yeah, sure. See you later, Rathon.”

“Not if I see you first, Rosie,” he said, grinning cheekily as he sauntered away.

Rose stiffened. There was only one man who had ever called her Rosie and she had cursed him. She stared after Rathon until he had exited through one of the doors leading to the roof of the tower. A feeling of dread washed over her.

She decided to head back to the villa and take a quick shower. It was heading close to late afternoon, even though she had been up eighteen hours. After showering she towel dried her hair, foregoing styling it. She donned black leggings and a white crochet style sweater and she found a grungy pair of tan colored boots. She didn’t have much clothes here, most of them being in the Tardis. She looked at herself in the dresser mirror. She looked so serious, her face hardened. She decided to apply some makeup to soften her face. Her hair was a wavy mess, but she found she did not have the energy to do anything with it.

She stepped outside. She really should be in bed, but she liked to walk around Arcadia for a bit, watching the people and children. It really was beautiful in its simplicity.

The little girl who had given her the white rose on her first day here waved to from across the street. She dashed over, her face splitting into a huge grin. This had become Rose’s favorite pastime. Almost every day the little girl would come up to her and give her something that she thought was pretty. They never talked much, the girl being quite shy, but Rose did find out that her name was Lily. Today the girl opened her hand and resting on her palm was a small rectangular charm with Galifreyan symbols on it. Rose took it and it examined it closely. At first glance it seemed insignificant, but on closer inspection she could see the fine craftsmanship and detail that went into making it.

Rose knelt down. “That’s really pretty. What is it?”

“A charm, silly,” Lily giggled.

Rose laughed. “Yes, silly me.” She patted down her pants, but found she didn’t have any pockets to stash it away in. Lily motioned her forward and plucked the bead out of her hand. Then with fierce concentration, she started braiding a small section of Rose’s hair and looped the bead on the end, securing it in the braid.

Rose grinned. “Thank-you, Lily.”

The girl gave her a sunny smile and then dashed away with the energy typical of a child. Rose straightened up and stared out to the distance of the Capitol where she knew the Doctor was right at this moment. Or maybe they had sent him off to do something. All she knew was that she had a creeping sense of foreboding and it was refusing to go away. Her eyes wondered over to the guard towers a short distance away and movement in the sky caught her attention. Probably just a bird, she thought. But she couldn’t tear her gaze away from it. It wasn’t moving like a normal bird. The prickling sense of foreboding returned in full force, the hairs on her arm standing up.

And then the sky burst with hundred more objects. Objects, that even from the distance, Rose could tell were Daleks.

She stood frozen in the spot, the horror of the situation crashing down on her. They had breached the force fields, the sky trenches. A single Dalek could wipe out this city. But there were hundreds. They didn’t stand a chance. And as her brain came to that conclusion, the army of Daleks dispersed and started raining down on the city, blasting buildings and homes and everyone they saw. Rose turned to run, but where would she go? The guard towers were being destroyed and she didn’t know where she could help. She decided to head back to Rathon and Jarvol. But before her feet could move, the building beside her exploded, sending her careening to the other side of the road with the force the blast had emitted.

Her vision blurred with the impact and she struggled to her hands and knees. There was a ringing noise in her ears and she shook her head to try and get rid of it. Then it was like a switch had been flicked and hearing returned. Screams and cries of agony filled her ears. She stood and looked around, watching the green rays being fired by the Daleks. People running around, children sobbing, smoke and death filling the air.

She had to find Jarvol. She turned to run and tripped over something, barely catching herself in time as she fell to the ground. She rolled over to see what she had tripped over and let out an anguished cry as she recognised the still form of Lily, her face covered in blood. Rose scrambled over to her, pulling the small child into her arms. And she knew almost immediately that she was dead. The dead feel very different. Colder to the touch. It was something Rose couldn’t describe, but the dead always had a different feel to them. She clutched the little girl in her arms, closing her eyes tightly as she felt her heart break for the child that had slowly won her over. She sobbed at the injustice of it all. A life so young had been extinguished in an instant.

Her grief quickly turned to blinding rage. She gently laid Lily down on the floor, brushing her hair gently from her face. She laid a kiss on her forehead and then stood up straight, willing every ounce of her power to come out. And then she screamed, releasing the power and her anger. Golden dust swirled around her and she felt herself levitating off the ground. But her mind was only on the Daleks and how much she wanted them to pay. Golden energy burst from her and the Daleks surrounding her burst apart, their screams of agony cut short. She rose higher, willing more Daleks to come to her. The power raged like a burning inferno inside of her and she knew that if she didn’t try to control it, it would burn her up. She willed more power to burst from her, destroying eve more Daleks, not caring if she died in the process. Her grief was and anger was so overpowering.

“ROSE!”

Her head snapped in the direction of the voice and she found the Doctor standing below her, looking up at her.

“Did I get them all?” she asked, her voice slightly ethereal.

He ran a hand through his hair. “You killed but a grain of sand on the beach.”

Rose frowned and looked around her. Daleks were everywhere, relentless in their destruction. Even if she used every bit of her power, it still wouldn’t be enough to kill them. As fast as they were being destroyed, more were taking their place.

She slowly lowered herself until her feet touched the ground and the power dissipated. “What do we do now?” she shouted.

“I don’t know!” he shouted back in frustration.

Another building near them was blasted and the Doctor grabbed her hand, leading her to the Tardis. “There has to be something we can do to stop them! They’re destroying Gallifrey,” Rose protested as they entered the Tardis.

“Rassilon has ordered the Ultimate Sanction,” the Doctor said, working at a breakneck speed as he piloted the Tardis away. “It will essentially destroy everything in the known universe, tearing the Time Vortex apart and every living thing. Rassilon plans for Time Lords to shed their corporeal bodies and become beings of consciousness alone so that we will survive.”

“Survive, yes. Living, no,” Rose stated in horror, crossing her arms over her chest.

The Doctor looked up at her. “There is something I can do, but it has a terrible price.”

“Is it as bad as what Rassilon is proposing?”

The Doctor sighed. They had landed. He walked up to her and clasped her hands in his own. “It’s called the Moment. It is the most powerful and most dangerous weapon in all of creation. It can destroy the Daleks and Gallifrey ad whole galaxies in a single moment.”

“How is that any better than what Rassilon intend to do?”

“We are in a Time lock. The Moment will destroy everything in the time lock, but everything outside of the time lock will be safe, free from the war.”

Rose blinked and reeled back in horror. The time had come where the Doctor would destroy Gallifrey, his people, to save the rest of the universe. The time had come where he would forever be a changed man, utterly broken by his actions to save the universe.

She took deep breathes. “Is there nothing else?” she asked pleadingly.

He shook his head. “I’m afraid not.”

She nodded slowly. If this is what needed to be done, then she would stand by his side. He would not be alone in this. He would not be alone in his guilt. “Ok, let’s do this.”

“Stay here,” he said and was about to turn, but thought better of it. He cupped her face in his hands and gave her a fierce kiss. “I thought I had lost you when news of the Daleks invading Arcadia had reached me.”

“I can’t die, remember?”

He smiled sadly. “Yes, well, for that instant I forgot.”

She smiled back sadly at him. She was his first thought. She stroked his cheek gently, dreading what they were about to do. “Go,” she encouraged sadly.

He nodded and turned, running out the doors. Rose went to the monitor. They were in the Omega Arsenal, where all the weapons were kept, and where the Doctor was now stealing the Moment.

She looked down at herself and shuddered when she saw how torn and tattered her clothing was. Her shirt was nothing but a shredded mess. She could go to the wardrobe room and find something else to wear, but she wanted to watch the monitor and keep an eye out in case the Doctor needed help. She spotted a white silk tablecloth draping over the small table the Doctor had set by his armchair. She swiftly yanked it off and tied it around her waist, knotting it on the side as it was too long. The ensemble must look quite ratty, but she just wanted to cover the exposed bits that showed through her torn clothing.

The Doctor burst through the door, a ruck sack slung over his shoulder, something big and bulky banging against his back as he ran. He set it down by the console and set new co-ordinates.

‘Better hurry before the guards come,” he said, trying to sound like it was nothing, but she sensed the strain in his voice, noticed the stiffness in his movements. This decision was already weighing heavily on him.

“Where are we going?” she asked.

“A remote part of Gallifrey,” he replied wearily. “I’ve heavily shielded and deactivated the tracking in the Tardis. We should have some time.”

They landed and the Doctor picked up the ruck sack. He took a deep breath and held his hand out for her to take. “Together?” he asked. His eyes held such fear and she wanted to say no, to tell him not to go through with this. But there really was no other choice.

She took his hand, clutching it tightly. “Forever.”

Just before they left the Tardis, Rose grabbed the first item off the coat rack, which was a vest of a pale green it almost looked dark grey. She just shrugged it on, not caring if it was practical. She felt like she needed the extra layers.

They walked through the desert plains for what must have been fur hours. She wondered why he had parked so far away, but guessed he needed the extra time to deal with what he was going to do. Andy maybe there was the off chance that they could be tracked.

They finally came to a dilapidated barn. The Doctor opened the creaky door and Rose followed him in, noting the scattered straw bales, the dusty floor and on the far end, a ladder that led to a loft room with a single bed. The bed was stripped bare, having not been used for years. This whole place hadn’t been inhabited for many, many years. She narrowed her haze on the Doctor. He knew where to find this place. He must have some past connection to it. She looked back at the bed and wondered if he had once slept in it, maybe as a boy. But she didn’t dare ask any questions. His body language clearly stated that he did not want to be asked personal questions.

He quietly placed the bag down while Rose looked one last time at the dying planet and closed the door quietly. She turned and walked back to the Doctor with a purpose. This had to end and it had to end now. She had grown so tired of all the death and destruction. She now wanted to find peace from her grief and heartbreak.

He pulled the ruck sack off and she got her first good look at the Moment. The sides were made of polished wood, each corner set with metal knobs. The wood was decorated with swirling Gallifreyan symbols and each side of the cube had a different design, some with metal and one side with a blue circular design surrounded by smaller blue design.

The Doctor was running his hands over it, searching for something. “Why is there never a big red button?” he muttered in frustration. As soon as the words had left his mouth the gears started turning and a red button appeared in the shape of a rose.

The Doctor sat back on his heels. “Well, now, if that isn’t a calling card then I don’t know what is.”

“Meaning?”

“A rose for a Rose.”

Rose rolled her eyes but came to kneel next to the Doctor. She ran her fingertips over the box and instantly snatched her fingers away as she felt a telepathic connection calling, pulling, at her.

“What is it?” he asked, clutching tightly on her upper arm.

She turned to him, her expression bewildered. “Does that thing have a consciousness?”

His eyes widened slightly, though not really in surprise. “I had heard the rumors. That is why Rassilon would not use it.”

Rose frowned. “Why wouldn’t he use it?”

“Imagine using a weapon that could make you feel the guilt and reality of using it. Not even Rassilon could bear the scrutiny of such a thing.”

She stared at him. “But you’re going to use it,” she pointed out.

His face fell in sadness. “I really don’t have a choice. This decision will haunt me for the rest of my days, I dare say. But rather my guilty conscience than the destruction of the whole universe.”

She intertwined their fingers and kissed his knuckles. She knew this would almost kill him, break him, make him become the gruff man she had first met who was so full of remorse and anger. It was this decision now that would turn him into that man. But she was determined that he would not have to do it alone. She placed her hands on either side of the box and closed her eyes, opening her mind to the sentient being inside.

The Doctor watched, still kneeling next to her as she telepathically communicated with the Moment, a slight golden sheen shimmering around her like a visible aura. Finally she opened her eyes and pulled back her hands. She looked up at him with tears shimmering in her eyes. Before he could ask, she spoke, her voice strained. “Well, the destruction of Gallifrey won’t be at your hands.”

“What do you mean?” the Doctor asked, panic starting to seize him.

Tears fell down her cheeks and he gently wiped them away. “Talk to me, Rose. Please.”

“It’s all down to me. Either way it will be me who destroys it.”

“What do you mean ‘either way’?”

She looked down at her hands that were resting on her thighs. “The Moment has given me two choices. It has to be me to make the choice because only Bad Wolf will be able to power it.” She took a deep breath and continued. “It will absorb Bad Wolf out of me and send me back in time to live a normal human life with the metacrisis Doctor. I will grow old with him and the whole mess with Dana Ashwood would never happen. And in turn the Moment will use the energy from Bad Wolf to end this war.”

The Doctor sat in stunned silence, mulling over her words. “And the other option?” he asked slowly, dreading what he was going to hear.

She swallowed thickly. “If I don’t choose the first option, the Moment will only use enough of Bad Wolf to end the war and I would still retain immortality, well, until you die for good, and get to spend it with you, if you wanted.”

“Well then, there’s really no competition between the two. Of course I want you by my side.”

She laughed bitterly. “No competition? Really, Doctor?”

He blinked at her. “What are you saying, Rose? That you don’t want to spend forever with me?”

She stood up abruptly, anger flaring in her and she rounded on him. “Of course I do, Doctor. I have now fallen in love with four versions of you. But I’ve seen your future, future you, and there is no place for me by your side. He is a different man and I doubt he feels the same for me as what you do.” 

“How can you assume such a thing?” he shouted, hurt by her doubt. “Only small things change with regeneration. The big things always remain the same. And my love for you is a very big thing.”

“You weren’t there when he said all those awful things to me. He made it very clear in that moment that he did not love me.”

He paced the floor, anger radiating off him. “Don’t be so dense, Rose. I saw him when he made that video call. He was beside himself with worry for you. Under all that flippancy I could see how much he truly still is in love with you. Don’t ever doubt me, Rose. I know myself better than anyone, and I saw more in those few minutes than you realise.”

She sat down heavily on one of the hay bales, the fight leaving her. The Doctor also seemed to have lost his anger and came to kneel in front of her and caressed her cheek lovingly.

“I’m just so tired, Doctor. I have gone through so much heartbreak and have lost so many people that I love. I don’t think I can do it anymore. To be given the chance to forget everything and start over with the metacrisis and finally have some peace when death comes sounds like a real blessing.”

The Doctor lowered his head, tears falling silently down his cheeks. He was going to lose her and there was nothing he could do.

“I don’t know what to do?” she sobbed.

“Stay,” he choked, looking up into her eyes. “Stay with me.” The plea hung in the air. She looked away and he felt his hearts shattering. He had steeled himself for losing his home planet and his people, but it hadn’t occurred to him that he would lose Rose as well. He didn’t think he would survive it, losing her.

Then he felt a mental nudge, so soft and delicate and almost motherly, and he let his walls down to let the telepathic communication in. He closed his eyes and listened. Finally the Moment retreated and he opened his eyes.

“You have made your decision and I must respect it, even though it’s breaking me more than you’ll ever know. But I must ask one thing before you go ahead with your choice,” he said, his voice hollow.

He looked up at her and saw that she was silently crying, but waiting for him to continue. “I want you to show me my future. Let me see for myself if I am perfectly fine without you.”

“How?’ she asked and then her eyes widened as she received a telepathic message from the Moment. She stood abruptly, almost knocking him aside. “No,” she refused flatly.

He stood and crossed his arms over his chest. “It’s a simple enough request. The Moment will help you channel some of that power to get us to my future.”

“It’s not that,” she snapped.

“Then what?” he snapped back.

“I know what you’re trying to do?”

“And what exactly am I trying to do?” he asked, his voice sounding impatient.

She pointed an accusing finger at him. “You’re trying to make me change my mind.”

He barked out a laughter that sounded quite cruel to his ears. “You, Rose Tyler, are a very stubborn woman. No one can make you do anything you don’t want to do.”

“And you are a very manipulative man, Doctor,” she snapped back.

They were both silent and then he finally spoke up, his voice even. “So that’s it then? I don’t even get a say in the matter?”

She closed her eyes and more tears fell. He wanted to pull her in for a hug, but he knew he had to stand his ground on this one. Finally she nodded and said. “Okay.”

A time fissure appeared to her left, a swirling golden portal. “Here’s your future, Doctor.”

A red fez fell out of the portal and landed at their feet. They stared at it and then looked at each other, both wearing looks of bewilderment. “Well, I wasn’t expecting that,” she stated.

He bent to pick up the fez, dusting it off. Then he looked up at the portal. “Shall we?” he asked, offering her his arm.

She sighed and took his elbow. “This should be interesting.”

And they both jumped in.

Chapter Text

They hurtled through the time fissure, the Doctor wrapping his arms tightly around her. They fell hard to the ground, rolling in a tumble of limbs. They finally stopped and they both let out groans. She was flat on her back and he was on top of her. She opened her eyes to find herself staring into those dreamy blue-grey eyes. He slowly got off her and helped her to stand.

“Blimey, that was rough,” she muttered, dusting herself off. She stared ahead at the forest they were in and slowly turned around to take in the rest of their surroundings and froze. Because there, standing with gobsmacked expressions, were the tenth and eleventh Doctor.

Her current Doctor stood in front of her, almost shielding her from strangers he perceived them to be. “Hello. I’m the Doctor. Did any of you lose a fez by any chance?” He sounded cordial and friendly, but Rose could tell he was on guard.

The tenth Doctor leaned to the left and the eleventh Doctor leaned to the right, both peering around the eighth Doctor to stare at Rose, both not believing their eyes.

“Doctor, they are you,” Rose stated, refusing to return the stares of the other two Doctors. In truth, her heart was hammering in her chest and she didn’t know how to feel or react. She wanted to turn and run, but her feet refused to obey.

“Really? I thought I recognised Chinny, but Sandshoes?”

“Chinny?” the eleventh Doctor exclaimed indignantly, turning his attention to the eighth Doctor.

But the tenth Doctor didn’t bother with a retort. Instead he started walking slowly to Rose, as though in a daze. “Rose?” he asked, his voice full of heartbreak, yet restraint.

And looking into those chocolate brown eyes, eyes that belonged to her lover and husband and best friend, Rose felt all her grief reawakening and her resolve breaking. Tears shimmered in her eyes and she mutely nodded, words having suddenly fled from her.

He was now standing in front of her and he slowly stretched out his hand to touch her, almost afraid that she would disappear before his eyes. She hastily stepped back and shook her head. “Sorry, I can’t,” she explained weakly.

Something shattered in his eyes and he closed them tightly, his hand dropping and balling into a fist. Suddenly he rounded on the eighth Doctor. “What have you done to her?” he shouted, the Oncoming Storm rolling off of him in waves.

“I beg your pardon? I have done nothing,” the eighth Doctor said, trying to maintain calmness.

“Look at her! It looks like she’s been through hell!”

“She’s been through the Time War,” the eleventh Doctor said quietly.

“What!” Ten shouted, whirling on Eleven, shock written all over his face.

The eleventh Doctor stalked towards the eighth, fire burning in his eyes. “I told you to keep her safe,” he hissed.

“You knew about this?” Ten asked.

Eleven ignored him, his emerald green eyes boring into Eight’s. Eight sighed and then motioned for them to come closer. He closed his eyes and said, “Contact.”

Eleven studied him for a moment with shrewd eyes, but he finally consented and closed his eyes and repeated the words of Eight. Ten looked over to Rose and she gave him a nod, rubbing her arms as though she were cold. He looked imploringly at her but did what the other two had done. She picked at her thumb nail, waiting for Eight to get the other two up to speed on everything that had happened since she had appeared. After a minute or two they finally opened their eyes and all three turned to stare at her. Eight had nothing but admiration and respect in his eyes for her. Ten looked horrified, though she suspected it was largely to do with the fact that he hadn’t actually give her the happily ever after that he thought he had. Eleven was frowning slightly, as though she were a mystery. He was the hardest one to read. He played his emotions close to his heart. Although he had been fairly open with her when she had first landed on his Tardis, that man was no longer visible. She wondered how many years had passed for him. It must have been quite a while.

Eight broke the stillness, coming to stand next to her, grasping her hand in his own. This action seemed to break Ten out of his shock and he finally spoke. “I’m so sorry, Rose.” His voice was laced with guilt and regret and utter destitution.

She gave him a small smile. “I know, Doctor. And I don’t blame you. You didn’t know.”

“I should have. I should have run tests.”

“It didn’t start manifesting until a few years after you left us in Pete’s world. It only came into full effect when we lost the…” She couldn’t finish the sentence and watched as Ten looked down at his shoes, having seen everything that she had shown Eight. Eleven just stood back, his face closed off, watching with mild interest at the interaction, though she thought she had briefly caught a shimmer in his eyes before he looked away.

She let go of Eight’s hand and walked to stand in front on Ten. He lifted his chin to look at her, his eyes a swirling mass of emotions. She didn’t even think about it. She pulled him into a hug and he clutched at her tightly, breathing in her scent. And she clutched him back just as tightly.

“I’ve missed you.” he whispered into her neck.

“I missed you too. How long has it been?” she whispered back.

He pulled back and trailed his thumb over her cheek. “Too long.” And then his lips were on hers. It wasn’t fierce, but rather a tentative kiss, as though he were afraid she was going to reject him. Her hands found their way into his fantastic hair and she pulled, urging him to deepen the kiss. He didn’t have to be asked twice and he kissed her more with enthusiasm than before. She parted her lips and his tongue was instantly inside, dancing with hers, tasting her.

The sound of troops clambering from all sides broke them apart and the three Doctors instantly formed a protective circle around Rose, pointing their sonic screwdrivers at the guards. She craned her head to see what was going on.

“Which of you is the Doctor?” asked a youngish looking man with floppy brown hair and dressed in Tudor style clothing, a stiff frilly collar to match. Rose guessed him to be the head of the guard. “The Queen is bewitched and I would have the Doctor’s head.”

“Well, this has all the makings of your lucky day,” Eight said cordially, a smirk tugging on his lips.

Suddenly a female voice could be heard sounding from the time fissure above their heads. “What was that?” the head of the guard asked, looking nervous. “That thing…what witchcraft is it?”

Eleven flipped his screwdriver, mischief dancing in those emerald green eyes. “Ah, yes! Now that you mention it, that is witchcraft,” he prattled, walking closer to the time fissure and ignoring the guards with their spears pointed at him. He flipped his sonic again. “Yes. Yes. Witchy witchcraft. Hello? Hello in there?” he turned to the guards and added. “Excuse me.” He turned back to the time fissure. “Hello? Am I talking to the wicked witch of the well?”

Rose hid her smirk behind her hand. Even after all this time, regardless of whatever regeneration, the Doctor sure had a gob on him.

There was no response and eleven called again, “Clara?”

A female voice called out, sweet and girly and a slight Northern accent. “Hello?”

“Hello. Hi. Hello. Would you might telling these prattling mortals get themselves begone?” he snarked, turning to the guards, his hand flapping about.

“What…he said,” the voice said hesitantly.

“Yes, a tiny bit more color,” he stage whispered in the direction of the voice.

Rose was finding it hard to suppress her laughter and grabbed eight’s hand. He looked down at her, a bewildered expression on his face, as though he couldn’t believe he would turn into this prattling idiot one day. She felt a familiar hand take her other hand and she turned her head to look up at Ten, his brown eyes soft. He rubbed his thumb against the back of her hand, but remained silent, trusting Eleven to get them out of this mess.

There was a pause and then the voice sounded again, more shrill than before. “Prattling mortals. Off you pop. Or I’ll turn you all into…frogs.”

Rose grinned. She had a feeling she was going to like this Clara.

“Ooh. Frogs. Nice. You heard her,” Eleven stated dramatically. He caught Rose’s grin and gave her a shy grin back.

Clara must have grown impatient with the theatrics and she dropped all pretenses. “Doctor, what’s going on?”

“It’s…uh…it’s a timey-wimey thing,” he replied walking back to his former selves and Rose.

“Timey what?” Eight asked, disbelief coloring his voice. “Timey-Wimey?”

Ten leaned in and stated, “I have no idea where he picks that stuff up?”

Suddenly a redheaded lady, obviously royalty from the way she was dressed, stepped out into the open. The guards all exclaimed, “The Queen,” and fell to one knee before her Highness.

“You don’t seem to be kneeling,” she stated as she walked towards them, her voice immensely irritating to Rose’s ears. “How tremendously brave of you.”

“Which one are you? What happened to the other one?” Ten asked, his body tensing beside Rose. Rose looked questioningly at Ten but his attention was all on the Queen.

“Indisposed,” she replied coyly. “Long live the Queen.”

“Long live the Queen,” echoed the guards.

“Arrest them. Take them to the tower!” she ordered.

Ten let go of Rose’s hand and stepped forward, pointing his finger at the Queen. “That is not the Queen? That is an alien duplicate.”

Eleven had come to stand beside him. “And you can take it from him because he’s really checked.”

Ten rolled his head and Rose supposed this was accompanied by an exaggerated eye roll. “Oh, shut up!”

Eleven piped up, saying something about ‘the tongue’ and ten turned on him, exasperation dripping from his voice. “Seriously, stop it.”

“No. Hang on. The tower,” he stated, stalking towards the Queen. “Did you say the tower? Ah, yes, brilliant! Love the tower.” He made a show if checking his watch. “Breakfast at eight. Will there be Wi-Fi?” He said all this in a running commentary, his hands constantly flapping around. Rose was mesmerised by his movements and mannerisms. He was so…different.

“Are you capable of speaking without flapping your hands about?” Eight asked sarcastically.

“Yes!” Eleven immediately shook his head. “No!” He turned back to the Queen. “I demand to be incarcerated in the tower immediately with my co-conspirators, Sandshoes, Posh Spice and the lovely Dame Rose.”

Rose’s grin widened even further at the ridiculous monikers. “Posh Spice?” Eight asked, puzzled.

Rose shook her head and whispered to him, “You don’t want to know.”

“They are not sandshoes,” Ten protested.

“Yes, they are,” eight and Rose countered, earning a look of consternation from Ten.

“Silence!” the Queen interrupted, finally losing patience with the spectacle before her. “The tower is not to be taken lightly. Very few emerge again.”

With that, she turned and walked off, leaving her guards to cart off their newly acquired prisoners. They were marched at spear point to the tower, all the Doctors uncharastically quiet. The tower was exactly as described, a tower set into the castle, tall and foreboding. They were roughly shoved into a room, Eleven stumbling over his feet and Ten catching himself more gracefully. Eight was shoved in before her and turned in time to catch Rose in his arms. The door closed behind them with a resounding bang.

“Are you alright?” Eight asked her, gripping her upper arms and looking her over.

She nodded. “Yeah.” She looked around their prison. As far as prisons went, it wasn’t the worst she had been in. She had certainly seen her fair share of them when she had travelled with the Doctor. Hay littered the stone floor and sunlight shone through the windows. There was even a wooden bench for them to sit on. She went to sit on the bench and Eight followed, wrapping on arm around her shoulder. She watched with interest as Eleven picked up a sharp metal spoke and flicked it with his finger, delighting in the tinging sound it made. He went over to one of the stone columns and started etching something into the stone with the spoke.

Ten turned around in a full circle, hands thrust deep into his trouser pockets and stopped when he saw Rose and eight. But the scratching noise made by Eleven seemed to offer him the distraction he needed and he turned to his future self. “What are you doing?”

“Getting us out,” he remarked, as though it were obvious.

Ten rolled his eyes, clearly having little patience for the other man. He started pacing the prison floor. “Okay. So the Queen of England is now a Zygon. But never mind that. Why are we all together?” he asked, walking with purpose to Rose and Eight. Rose looked up at Eight, puzzled that he had not shown them about the Moment and Rose’s involvement. In hindsight, it certainly explained lack of reaction from the other two. Eight looked back down at her and shook his head slightly, confirming it.

Eleven stopped his incessant scratching and turned his attention to them.

“I mean, Chinny and I were surprised. But neither one of you were surprised to be here. Why is that?” He was coming across as blasé, but she knew he was dying to fire off questions.

“Oi! Chinny?” Eleven asked indignantly.

“It’s complicated,” Rose said, a bit thickly. “What do you mean the Queen is a Zygon?”

“Zygons are shapeshifters. Can replicate, down to the minutest detail, of anyone they so choose. It seems one is impersonating the Queen,” Eight explained.

Eleven let out a childish chuckle, and Ten started looking very uncomfortable.

“Sorry, did I miss something?” Rose asked.

“No,” Ten hastily replied.

Eleven snorted out another chuckle, which received him a stern look from Ten. He swallowed down him mirth and became solemn, though his eyes twinkled quite naughtily, and he resumed his etching. “No. Nothing. Not important, really. Just really, really amusing.”

Rose arched an eyebrow questioningly, but Eleven had his back turned to her. She looked back at Ten and he rubbed at the back of his neck, a nervous gesture. Eager to change the subject, he pounced on her once again. “Now what did you mean by it being complicated.”

Rose bit at her lower lip. She had really been hoping that he had forgotten about that, or that he would drop the subject.

“How did you two get here?”

She rubbed at her temples. “Look, Doctor. Believe me when I tell you that it’s not important right now.”

“How can it not be important? Something big is happening and you’re stuck in the middle of it. I need to know.”

She looked at Eight pleadingly. She knew that if Ten and Eleven knew about the proposed deal that she was to make with the Moment, they would try and talk her out of it. And she was worn out and tired. She didn’t think she would be able to withstand all three Doctors’ persuasiveness. She had her mind set on going back to her metacrisis, living a simple human life with him. Her heart ached to feel his embrace again, to feel his love. And even though she knew that Eight loved her and had completely let her in, Ten was still reserved, still set in maintaining those boundaries. And Eleven…well Eleven was a complete mystery. He acted like he was above caring for her. He hadn’t even so much as spoken directly to her or shown her…much of anything.

“And why do you need to know?” Eight asked.

Ten turned to him, his eyes big, as though he couldn’t understand how the other him could even ask. “She’s…she’s…”

“She’s what?” Eight urged softly. His arms were now crossed over his chest as he waited for an answer.

Ten clamped his mouth shut, thrusting his hands back into his pockets. “So I guess she’s nothing, then,” Eight said, his voice unreasonably calm. Rose wanted to ask what he was up to, but then she remembered that he was here to see what his future looked like without her. And by the way things were going, she had to assume that he would be just fine. Out of the corner of her eye she saw Eleven stiffen, his scratching halted.

“Don’t you dare suggest such a thing!” Ten snarled. “She’s everything, and you know it.”

Eight remained completely composed in the face of his anger. “Then tell me why it’s important that you know.”

Ten looked down at the floor, his anger gone in a flash and replaced by…fear? He sighed and ran a hand through his hair. “I lost Rose a long time ago, and it just about killed me. And now to find out that the happy ending that I intended for her didn’t go exactly as planned and that she’s now in the middle of the Time War, well, it scares me. Because I know there’s something else at play here, and if Rose is in any danger, I intend to stop it.”

“And why would you stop it?” Eight persisted.

“Because if anything happened to her, it would completely and utterly destroy me. I barely survived losing her the first time. I know for a fact that I won’t survive it the second time.” He paused and looked Eight straight in the eye. “You know what I’m talking about. I’ve watched you two interact. You’re…very close. Doesn’t the thought of losing her petrify you?”

“Yes,” Eight said with hesitation, nor protest at Ten stating the obvious intimate nature of their relationship.

“Then why aren’t you going mad over whatever is happening, especially if her life is at stake?”

“Her life is not at stake. If it were, do you really think I would be sitting here calmly discussing such domestics?”

“So tell me what is going on?”

“I can’t.”

Ten glared at his younger self and then turned those puppy dog eyes on Rose. “Please, Rose. Just tell me.”

She stood and took his hands in her own. “Please, Doctor. I’m begging you to just drop it. There is a reason we are here, but it is something that neither one of us can reveal.”

“You used to be able to tell me anything,” he said, his voice on the edge of begging.

“I have told you everything,” she said, giving a pointed look in Eight’s direction.

Ten was looking back and forth between her and Eight. She turned her head and saw Eleven staring at them. When he saw that she was watching him, he quickly went back to his scratching, trying to feign indifference. When she looked back at Eight, she saw that he was watching Eleven as well.

“Okay, tell me one thing. Are you in danger?”

“No,” she replied honestly.

“But it’s something big?”

She sighed. “Yes, Doctor.”

He pulled her into a hug, his arms trembling around her. He inhaled her scent and kissed the top of her head. They stood there, just clinging to each other, the only sound was the constant scratching by Eleven.

“So, as my other self scratches our way out of here, let’s pass the ‘Timey-Wimey’,” Eight said, tactfully changing the subject.

The scratching stopped and Eleven slowly turned around to face him, his face showing clearly that he was not pleased by being addressed by the Doctor.

Eight frowned. “Why do both of you look at me like that?”

“Like what?” Ten asked, his arm now wrapped around Rose’s shoulder.

“You both look at me, and I’m trying to find a better word, with dread.”

Eleven and Ten shared a look, then Ten spoke up. “It must be fairly recent for you.”

“What?”

“The Time War. The last day. The day you killed them all,” Eleven said practically, though his eyes held endless sadness. Rose pulled away from Ten, turning to face both of them.

“The day we killed them all,” Ten corrected.

“Same thing,” Eleven countered.

Rose frowned. This didn’t make sense. She was the one who was going to kill them all. Not the Doctor. But then she remembered that he was going to have to forget her to maintain timelines.

“They don’t remember,” Rose mused out loud and went to sit by Eight, clasping his hand. “You have to forget to maintain timelines, so in turn, they don’t remember.” Eight nodded his understanding and she felt guilt wash over her. He would live for hundreds of years thinking that he had killed his people, but the reality was, she was the one that was going to do it.

“Remember what?” Ten asked. She glanced over at Eleven and he was watching her with narrowed eyes, studying her every reaction. She quickly schooled her features and turned back to Eight.

“I’m so sorry,” she said, hoping that she was conveying exactly what she was sorry for without having to speak it out loud.

Eight smiled sadly and caressed her cheek and leaned in to kiss her softly. “Nothing to be sorry about, my dear Rose,” her murmured against her lips. She looked back into his grey-blue eyes and saw nothing but honesty there. He would not hold this against her, though she would always blame herself.

She thought of all the people on Gallifrey that would die at her hands. Men, women and children. Especially the children. She thought back to Lily, a vibrant and wonderful child. So innocent. And now gone.

“How many?” she asked, steeling herself. She had to know.

“How many what?” Eleven asked. She was surprised that he was addressing her. So she steeled herself to ask him directly.

“How many children were on Gallifrey that day?”

Eleven’s face paled slightly, his form going rigid. Then he turned his back to her and started scratching away again. Finally he replied. “I have absolutely no idea.”

Ten just looked at Eleven, as though he didn’t even recognise this man.

“How old are you now?” Eight asked him.

“Uh, I don’t know. I lose track.” He paused to blow dust off his etching. “Twelve hundred and something, unless I’m lying. I can’t remember if I’m lying about my age, that’s how old I am.”

Eight contemplated and then said. “Four hundred years older than me, and in all that time you never even wondered how many there were?”

Eleven continued to scratch, with more force than was necessary. “You never even once counted?” Eight persisted.

Eleven, having finally lost his temper, swept the spoke down hard on the stone, leaving a deeper line compared to the others. He turned to face Eight, his eyes blazing. “Tell me, what would be the point,” he asked, his voice dripping with condescension.

“Two point four seven billion,” Ten declared, his voice strained with the anger he felt towards Eleven’s attitude.

“You did count,” Rose said softly, though not surprised.

Eleven shook his head and went back to his project. Ten rounded on him. “You forgot. Four hundred years. Is that all it takes?” he spat in disgust.

Eleven stalked to him slowly, his voice low and dangerous. “I moved on.”

Rose felt her breath catch. So this was the moment of truth. She looked back at Eight, but she only saw a puzzled expression on his face. She inwardly sighed. It would take him a while to see that he would be fine without her.

“Where? Where can you be now that you could forget something like that?” Ten asked, his voice going higher in pitch as his outrage grew.

“Spoilers,” Eleven said, his voice still dangerously low.

“No, no. For once I would like to know where I’m going.”

“Me, too,” Eight murmured, low enough for only Rose to hear.

“No, you really wouldn’t,” Eleven stated, his voice rising. Ten stared back at him, shocked at what he was hearing.

“I don’t know you, either of you. I haven’t got the faintest idea,” Eight stated, his anger over Eleven’s words finally coming to the forefront. Eight was usually so complacent and very much a pacifist. So when he started to shout or raise his voice, it usually wasn’t a very good sign.

“They’re you, Doctor,” Rose said, clasping his hand tightly. “This is what you become,” she stated, her voice sad. Would they have become like that if she had somehow managed to stay with them? She shook her head. She couldn’t have doubts now. “The man who regrets and the man who forgets.”

Ten and Eleven stared at her. She hadn’t meant for them to hear her, and now she had their full attention. Ten had remorse and guilt all over his face, and Eleven…she could swear she saw hurt in his eyes at her words. She frowned. Why would he be hurt? He had moved on and had chosen to forget. Hadn’t he? Doubt crept into her mind. Was she really doing the right thing? The Moment had offered her two choices, both of them centred on her happiness. But she hadn’t taken into account the Doctor’s happiness. Shame swept over her like a burning fire. She was being unbelievably selfish.

She dropped her gaze. Then she stood up abruptly, the discomfort of the analysing and scrutiny levels in their cell becoming quite unbearable. She marched to the door with purpose.

“What are you doing?” Eight asked.

“I have to get out of here,” she snapped. She reached for the handle and at the same time the door burst open, sending her stumbling back. Strong arms caught her, preventing her from falling. She turned her head to see who had caught her and was surprised to see the face of Eleven. She turned back and looked at a petite brunette who looked like a porcelain doll. Her skin was flawless, her face small and round and she had large round eyes framed with dark lashes. She was beautiful.

“Hooow did you do that?” Eleven asked after there was a moment of stunned silence.

“It was unlocked,” the woman said, her voice the same as the one she had heard in the time fissure. This must be Clara.

She looked back at Eleven, his face slightly bashful. So this was his new companion. She briefly wondered what had happened to Amy and Rory?

“Right,” he replied simply.

Clara looked at each of the Doctors, her face not showing the slightest bit of surprise. And then those baby doll eyes landed on Rose and she saw the question in those depths. She looked back at Eleven. “So three of you here then?”

“Yes. You’ve met them before, don’t you remember?” Eleven said.

“A bit, yeah.” She looked Ten up and down. “Nice suit.”

Ten preened a bit under her compliment. “Thanks.”

“Hang on,” Clara continued, looking at Eleven with a bit of reprimand in her features. “Three Doctors in one cell and none of you thought to try the door?”

“It should have been locked,” Eight stated.

“Yes, exactly. Why wasn’t it locked?” Eleven elaborated.

The nails-on-a-chalkboard voice sounded from behind Clara and Clara hastily stepped back to stand between Eleven and Ten. Rose subtly moved closer to Eight, reaching for his hand, which he immediately took. “Because I was fascinated to see what you would do upon escaping,” Queen Elizabeth said, sidling into the cell, with an air of arrogance. Rose would almost describe her as strutting. “I understand you’re rather fond of this world. I think it’s time you saw what’s going to happen to it,” she snapped, lifting her heavy skirts to turn around and sauntered out.

The three Doctors looked at each other questioningly and Eleven grabbed Clara’s hand and followed, Ten following suit and Rose and Eight making up the rear, still holding fast to each other’s hand.

 

They walked down a steep flight of stairs in another part of the castle. A red glow permeated from the room down below and finally they entered it. Queen Elizabeth walked with purpose, looking as though she belonged here.

“The Zygons lost their world. It burned in the first days of the Time War,” she lectured as they walked past glowing orbs. They came to a bannister and the Queen stopped to peer over at what was down below. “A new home is required.”

Rose looked down into a pit with a very advanced piece of technology that certainly didn’t belong in this era, let alone this world. Lights and buttons flashed all over the top of it. Definitely alien tech, though it was organic looking.

“So they want this one?” Clara asked.

Queen Elizabeth gave them her smile that made her face seem rather malicious. “Not yet. It’s far too primitive. Zygons are used to a certain level of comfort.”

A slow shuffling, followed by a heavy stomping sounded behind them and they all turned to look at what must be a Zygon. It was a tall, lumbering creature with suckers all over its body. It was humanoid with a large cone shaped head. Its face was deeply inset.

“Commander,” it said in a gurgling, rasping voice. “Why are these creatures here?”

The Queen lifted her chin and replied arrogantly. “Because I say they should be. It is time you, too, were translated.”

The Zygon said nothing, simply obeying her order and ambled to the stairs to go down to the machine. “Observe this,” the Queen instructed. “I believe you will find it fascinating.” She followed behind the creature and the rest of them followed suit.

The Zygon placed its ‘hand’ on a cube that was glowing blue, and in an instant it disappeared in a flash of light, almost electric in nature. And behind where he had stood a moment ago, a figure appeared in a painting.

Clara exclaimed, “That’s him. That’s the Zygon in the picture now!”

Eight and Rose stepped closer to get a better look. “It’s not a picture,” Eight stated softly. “It’s a stasis cube. Time Lord Art. Frozen instance in time. Bigger on the inside. But could be deployed…”

“As suspended animation,” Ten finished and Eleven snapped his fingers in agreement. Ten’s eyes grew bigger as he realised the implications. “Oh, that’s very good.” He came to stand beside Rose, unconsciously reaching for her hand. “Zygons pop into the picture and wait a few centuries until the planet becomes more interesting, and then out they come.”

Eleven came closer, but stood by Clara. “You see, Clara, they’re storing the paintings in the Under Gallery, like Cup-of-Soups. Except you add time, if you can picture that?” He shook his head. “Nobody can picture that. Forget I said Cup-of-Soups.”

“Now the world is worth conquering,” Clara mused.

“That’s fascinating,” Rose murmured. “So the Zygons are invading the future from the past.”

“Exactly,” Eleven said ominously.

Rose peered at the painting. “Hold up.” She turned to face the Queen. “How do you know so much about the Zygons and their plans unless you’re a Zygon yourself?”

“Good point, Rose!” Ten enthused. He sauntered over to the Queen. “And do you know how I know you’re a fake? Because you’re such a bad copy. It’s not just the smell. Or the unconvincing hair. Or the atrocious teeth. Or the eyes – just a bit too close together. Or the breath that could stun a horse.” He made an exaggerated face, showing his repulsion. “It’s because the real Elizabeth wouldn’t be stupid enough to reveal her plan.” He paused and leaned in closer. “Honestly why would you do that?”

The Queen had remain silent throughout his insults, merely raising her eyebrows, or narrowing them slight when he mentioned her breath. But now she spoke up. “Because it’s not my plan. And I AM the real Elizabeth.” She ground out the last part with restrained fury.

Ten blinked and then stood up a bit straighter and took a small step back. “OK. So backtracking a moment to learn some context to my earlier remarks.”

The Queen huffed in impatience. “My twin is dead in the forest. I am accustomed to taking precautions,” she stated, roughly yanking up her skirt and revealing a small dagger strapped to her upper thigh. She yanked it out of its sheath and wielded it in frustration, causing Ten to lean back to avoid an attack. “These Zygon creatures never even considered it was me who had survived rather than their own Commander.” She grinned triumphantly. “The arrogance that typifies their own kind.”

Rose had to refrain from rolling her eyes. The Queen was the epitome of arrogance.

“Zygons?” Clara clarified.

“Men,” corrected Elizabeth. Ten gave her an affronted look. Eight rubbed at his temple, almost as though he couldn’t stand the prattling of this woman as much as Rose did. She gave his hand a reassuring squeeze.

“And you actually killed one of them?” Clara asked doubtfully.

“I may have the body of a weakened, feeble woman, but at the time, so did the Zygon,” Elizabeth said haughtily.

Weakened? Feeble? Rose just stared at the Queen, dumbfounded. She certainly looked nothing of the sort. From the roundness of her face and the extra weight she carried, she was definitely opposite of what she claimed. She rubbed at her temple irritably, hoping that could get away from this irritation as soon as possible.

She looked up and saw Eleven giving her a sympathetic smile. It seemed he was on the same train of thought as her. She smiled back shyly, but she could feel her irritation building up.

“Well, when in doubt, you’d better check,” she said, letting go of Eight’s hand and walking up to the Queen. Before she could retort, Rose cupped her face in a vice-like grip and willed her power forth. She could sense the energy flow of Elizabeth and had her answer in an instant. She pulled back and the Queen stared at her horrified.

“Her eyes glowed golden!” she exclaimed.

Rose ignored her. “She’s human,” she said simply, walking back to Eight. Eleven was watching her with those emerald green eyes, almost studying her.

Eight raised an eyebrow. “I didn’t know you could do that.”

“I didn’t either, but I wanted to move this along. Enough with the chit-chat.”

“You could have destroyed her,” Ten said slowly.

Rose gave him a fake, sunny grin. “Then my headache would be gone. She’s fine. So now, Your Majesty, could you please get to the point.”

Eleven chuckled and quickly covered it up with a cough. His eyes twinkled as he looked at her and she winked at him. His eyes softened, and something passed through those eyes that she couldn’t fathom.

Elizabeth quickly gained her composure. “Yes…” She turned to Ten. “The future of my kingdom is in peril, Doctor. Can I rely on your service?”

“Well, I’m going to need my Tardis,” he replied thrusting his hands into his pockets.

Her face lit up. “It’s already been procured.”

Ten chuffed in wonderment. But then he stopped as she continued. “But first, my love, you have a promise to keep,” she all but purred.

Ten’s face grew ashen and he gaped soundlessly.

“Promise?” Rose queried.

Elizabeth turned to her. “He asked for my hand in marriage and I gladly accepted.”

Rose blinked and then she threw back her head in laughter. She clutched at her side from laughing so hard. Finally she pointed to Eleven. “Now I know what you were on about earlier on. He kissed a Zygon, didn’t he?”

Eleven grinned back and puckered his lips up, making kissing motions. Ten looked thoroughly affronted and embarrassed by their amusement at his expense.

“No! The Zygon kissed me!” Ten protested, making Rose howl even harder with laughter.

“I fail to see what you find so amusing,” Elizabeth declared.

Rose wiped tears of laughter from her eyes. “He’s marrying you.”

“So?”

Rose shook her head, grinning broadly. She felt sorry for Ten having to marry this intolerable woman, but if she knew him, he wouldn’t stay for very long. “Nothing. You’d better get a priest. You have to get married.”

Elizabeth nodded and all but skipped out of the room to go and organise her wedding. Ten sidled up to her. “Rose, I don’t have to go through with this if you don’t want me to.”

“You are not getting out of it that easily, Mister. Besides, you have to maintain timelines.”

“That’s right. I saw a painting of you and Elizabeth in commemoration of your wedding,” Clara piped up.

Ten groaned. Eleven came up and slapped him on the back. “Just close your eyes and think of Rome.” Rose stopped short, as she remembered the kiss she had shared with Ten when they had been in Ancient Rome.

Ten rolled his eyes. “Oh shut up!”

 

Rose stood between Eight and Eleven, off to the side, while the priest declared Ten and Elizabeth husband and wife.

“You may kiss the bride,” the priest droned.

Elizabeth pulled the shell-shocked Doctor fiercely in for a kiss and when he tried to pull back, she latched on even harder, snogging him for all she was worth. Clara whooped and threw rice over the newlywed couple.

Rose chuckled, finding the whole situation hilarious. She knew she should be jealous, but it was hard to be jealous when compared to the Queen. For obvious reasons.

Eight looked perplexed and slightly repulsed. “Is there a lot of this in the future?” he asked, turning slightly to face Eleven.

Eleven grimaced. “It does start to happen, yeah.” But then he became more serious. “But you kiss Rose all the time.”

Rose shot him a look, but he was steadfastly ignoring her, peering over head at Eight.

“Yes, but that’s Rose. Not…that,” he said, gesturing to the still kissing pair.

Eleven made a face at the sight. “Couldn’t agree with you more,” he replied evasively.

The Queen broke off the kiss, finally, her face flushed with giddiness. “God speed, my love.”

“I will be right back,” Ten assured, though his eyes looked like those of a deer caught in headlights. He all but sprinted back to his Tardis, the other four following close behind.

“Right then, back to the future,” Eleven quipped.

They entered the Tardis and Rose stared lovingly at the familiar room all around her. How she had missed this look of the Tardis. She ran her fingers over the coral struts, taking in the room. She felt the familiar hum of the Tardis welcoming her and she grinned happily.

“She’s missed you,” Ten said from the console, his eyes locking with hers, conveying a hidden message.

Eight, Eleven and Clara strolled in, Eight remarking, “You’ve let this place go a bit.”

“Ah, it’s his grunge faze. He grows out of it,” Eleven commented, flipping the stasis cube he had procured from the castle.

“Don’t you listen to them,” Ten cooed as a buzzing noise emitted.

Suddenly parks shot from the console and the lights went out for an instant, and when they came back on, the whole console had changed. There were large glowing white circles set into the walls. The console had an antique look to it, while still trying to remain modern.

“The desktop is glitching,” Ten said, having taken a hasty step back from the sparks.

“Three of us from different time zones. It’s trying to compensate,” Eight said.

“Ooh, look the round things,” Eleven said excitedly, a childish grin on his face, pointing over his shoulder at the white circles.

“I love the round things,” Ten replied nostalgically.

Eleven leaned in a bit. “What are the round things?”

“No idea,” Ten said, shaking his head slightly.

Eleven suddenly bolted to the console. “Oh dear. The Friction configulator,” he explained, flipping a switch.

The room instantly changed again, and Rose recognised it as the Tardis she had appeared in three years ago. This must be Eleven’s Tardis. Clara was standing off to the side, completely at ease with this look.

“Ha! There!” Eleven exclaimed giddily. “Stabilized.”

Ten looked around with interest. “Oh,” he said, drawing out the word. “You’ve redecorated.”

Eleven looked up from his fiddling on the console and gave him a grin.

“I don’t like it,” Ten finished, making a face as though he had tasted something bitter.

Eleven’s face dropped and he got affronted very quickly. “Oh, oh yeah. You never do,” he said snidely.  Clara grinned at his outrage.

“I like it,” Rose said, earning her a proud grin from Eleven, though he quickly looked away.

“Listen, we’re going to the National Gallery. The Zygons are underneath it.”

Clara hastily piped up. “No! Unit HQ. They followed us there in the Black Archive.”

The three Doctors froze and slowly turned their heads to stare at her. Clara looked uncertain under the scrutiny. “OK. So you’ve heard of that then.”

“I haven’t. What is it?” Rose piped up.

“It’s a secret vault in the Tower of London. It’s a depository of things that shouldn’t exist on Earth, but do anyway,” Eleven explained. “Like weapons and technology. Earth could easily be taken over with what lies in that vault.”

“And now the Zygons have access to all of that,” Rose said, catching on to the severity of what was happening.

“Exactly.” Eleven confirmed.

“But how are we going to get there? It is Tardis proofed,” Clara asked.

The three Doctors stood at the console, thinking hard.

“Could we somehow talk to them, like Jack talked to us through that radio during the Blitz?” Rose asked.

Their hands snapped up at once, and Eleven instantly sprang into action. “Yes. Brilliant. I forgot about that.”

“About what now?” Clara asked.

“Space-time telegraph,” Eleven exclaimed. “I gave it to the Brigadier a long time ago. Hotwired straight to the Tardis. Should be kept in the Black Archive.”

“We can use it to talk directly to Kate,” Ten said excitedly.

“Who’s Kate?” Eight asked.

“The Brigadier’s daughter. Just like her father,” Ten answered.

“OK. A little hush now. I’m going to open up communications,” Eleven instructed, fiddling with some knobs.

There was a crackling noise, like when a radio is not tuned in to a frequency. Eleven typed on the keyboard and then the sound became crystal clear. A woman’s voice sounded.

“Lock the door. I’m afraid we can’t be interrupted.” There was the sound of heels clicking on the floor as she walked. “You don’t mind if I get comfortable?” There was the sound of a chair scraping against the floor.

“You don’t mind if I do?” came the rasping voice of a Zygon.

There was a short pause and then the sound of another chair scraping against the floor.

“You’ll realise there are protocols protecting this place. Osgood?” Kate said.

Another female voice sounded. “In the event of an alien incursion, the contents of this room are deemed so dangerous that it will self-destruct in…”

“Five minutes,” Kate interrupted. There was a click and a shrill alarm sounded in the background. “There’s a nuclear warhead twenty feet beneath us. Are you sitting comfortably?”

“You would destroy London?” Zygon Kate asked.

“To save the world? Yes, I would,” Kate instantly replied.

“You’re bluffing!” Zygon Kate snarled.

“You really think so? Somewhere in your memory is a man called Brigadier Alistair Gordon Lethbridge Stewart. I’m his daughter.”

Eleven pressed a button and spoke up. “Science leads, Kate. Is that what you meant? Is that what your father meant?”

“Doctor?” came Kate’s reply.

“Space-time telegraph, Kate,” Eleven replied. “A gift from me to your father, hot lined straight to the Tardis. I know about the Black Archive! And I know about the security protocol!” Eleven was becoming more frantic as he spoke, desperation tinting his voice. Ten paced the room nervously and Eight stood stoically next to Rose, though he radiated agitation at the situation. Clara was standing behind Eleven, her eyes big with worry, her arms folded protectively around her middle.

Eleven continued. “Kate, please! Please! Tell me you are not about to do something unbelievably stupid!” He scolded hotly.

“I’m sorry, Doctor,” Kate said, her voice sounding desperate as well. “Switch it off,” she instructed someone.

“Not as sorry as you will be. This is not a decision you will ever be able to live with!” Ten shouted, resting his hands on the console.

Rose felt his words pierce right through her heart. She would never be able to live with herself knowing she had killed all the people on Gallifrey. Her hands would be stained with the blood of billions. She slowly turned her head and saw Eight watching her. He said nothing, silently reaching for her hand. She took it out of habit, but she could gain very little comfort from it. She felt physically sick. It was now an impossible decision. There would be death no matter what she chose. She was so lost in thought that she didn’t notice Eleven turning to look at them, he and Eight sharing a look.

“I said switch it off!” Kate shouted.

“No, Kate. Please,” Eleven begged. “Just listen to me!” he screamed. There was a sound of the communication being cut off. And then there was silence.

Ten stepped back, folding his arms over his chest, weariness written on his face. He sighed. “Tower of London. Totally Tardis proof.”

“How can they do that?” Clara asked.

Eight frowned as he watched the scene play out. His gaze was fixed on something. Rose followed it and saw he was staring at the stasis cube with intense concentration.

“Alien technology plus human stupidity. Trust me, it’s unbeatable,” Eleven retorted. Rose saw the pain etched on his face.

“We don’t need to land,” Eight interrupted. He let go of Rose’s hand and walked over to the cube.

Ten frowned at him. “Yeah, we do,” he said, his voice going high pitch with derisiveness. “A tiny bit. Try and keep up.”

Eight chuckled. “No we don’t. There is another way,” he said, picking up the stasis cube. Eleven was instantly by his side, grinning, and Rose watched Ten’s face morph into that of wonderment as he caught on what Eight was suggesting.

Eleven ran and opened the doors of the Tardis, reaching for the phone, clutching at the side of the door. After a bit he said loudly, “Take a look at your phone and confirm who you’re talking to.”

There was another pause as the person he was talking to did what he asked. “You were just talking to me. I know. I’m a Time Traveller. Figure it out!” he said brusquely, walking back into the Tardis, the telephone cord stretching unbelievably long. “I need you to take the ‘Gallifrey Falls’ painting to the Black Archive. Understood?”

He grinned and reached back outside to place the phone back in its cubby. Then he turned to Ten. “I’m afraid you’re going to have to spend some time with your wife. We’re going to have to go back.”

Ten grimaced.

“Why?” asked Clara.

“The machine the Zygons had. They need it to teleport themselves into the painting. And also the Time Loop needs to be completed,” Rose explained.

“What Time Loop?” Clara asked.

Rose pointed to Ten, grinning. “You said something about a matrimonial painting of him and Queen Elizabeth.”

Clara’s eyes widened in understanding. “Oh.”

She turned to the Doctors. “How did Queen Elizabeth get her hands on the ‘Gallifrey Falls’ painting anyway?”

They looked at each other for answers. “No idea,” Ten finally replied.

“Might be another Time Loop in play,” Eleven offered. “Time Travel. So interesting,” he said grinning, flipping switches as he piloted the Tardis back to Queen Elizabeth.

“I don’t want to go,” Ten whined softly to himself, looking very much like a kicked puppy.

 

Eight, Eleven, Clara and Rose stood in the pit that housed the Zygon machine. Ten was busy getting his painting done with his ‘wife’.

“I don’t see it here,” Clara stated after they had done a thorough search.

“I don’t understand. The painting of the Zygon was here. It stands to reason that ‘Gallifrey Falls’ should be here as well,” Eleven said with frustration.

Rose frowned as she spotted some frames and canvass off to one side.

“Maybe it hasn’t been made yet,” Eight suggested, following Rose’s gaze.

Eleven stopped his pacing and looked at where Eight was looking. Then he looked back at Eight. “All fine and dandy, but I’m not much of a painter, and neither are you, if memory serves me correctly.”

“Rose?” Eight asked.

“Hmm?”

“I’m going to try something very unorthodox and complicated. And it’s going to have to be all down to you.”

She frowned. “What? I can’t paint either.”

Eight chuckled. “No. But you were in Arcadia that day. He’s going to access that memory and I need you to use your power to transport that image into a painting.”

“Me?” Eleven asked.

“Yes, you. I need you to confirm that the image that you saw in the painting is the same as the one in Rose’s memory.”

“How exactly is Bad Wolf supposed to replicate Time Lord Art? Don’t you have something on the Tardis to do that?” Rose asked.

“Yes. The Tardis. And you are directly connected to her.”

She shook her head. “This is absurd. I don’t even know if I can do that!”

“You could tell that Queen Elizabeth was human.”

“That was a fluke.”

“Well, I’m willing to give it a try. I mean, what’s the worst that can happen,” Eleven said.

“I could lose control and disintegrate you,” Rose deadpanned.

Eleven froze. “Yes, well, that is problematic.”

“Rose, a word, please,” Eight asked. He started walking up the stairs and Rose had no choice but to follow.

They reached the bannister and Rose looked down into the pit. Eleven and Clara had started assembling the frame and canvass, prepping it for the final touches.

“You’ve gained phenomenal control over your power, so I don’t understand what is making you so afraid now,” Eight said softly from behind her.

“I’m scared to have him in my head,” she replied softly and honestly.

He touched her shoulder, gently coaxing her to turn around and face him. “He is me. Same hardware, different face.”

She shook her head. “You can’t honestly believe that. He is nothing like you. Or him,” she said, referencing to Ten.

Eight smiled softly. “He is very much like me. More like me than other me.”

“No, Doctor, he’s not.”

Eight contemplated for a moment. “I’ve been watching him, studying him quite intently since we first arrived. I’ve seen the way he looks at you when he thinks no one is looking. It’s the same way I look at you when I think no one is looking.”

Rose’s eyes widened. He continued, “My feelings, even after four hundred years, have not changed for you.”

Rose frowned. “He’s barely said much of anything to me. I doubt he feels the same way. He moved on, remember.”

“So he says. But I think seeing you again has awoken those feelings. When you and other me were kissing in the forest, you didn’t see the jealousy that flared through his eyes before he quickly hid it. Did you notice the hurt in his eyes when you implied that he forgot you? He never forgot. He just had to bury it all deep down inside. Otherwise he would be a very broken man right now.”

“I forgot how observant you were,” Eleven said in a low voice, making the two of them startle.

Rose’s heart started racing as she saw him leaning casually against the bannister, arms crossed over his chest and ankles crossed. His face was a careful mask, though those emerald green eyes swirled with time and agelessness. But she couldn’t see if there lay any truth to Eight’s words in those depths. He was keeping his heart well guarded.

“Just an observation. Though I am curious as to whether I hit the nail on the head, so to speak,” Eight responded smoothly.

Eleven stared at them for a moment before he finally spoke. “That which has been forgotten can be remembered.”

Rose puzzled at his cryptic words. Eight smiled softly and nodded. “Quite right. Are you ready?”

“Yes. All assembled.” He gave Eight a meaningful look and walked down the stairs.

“He’s quite cryptic. Did that make any sense to you?” Rose asked when he was out of sight.

“I suppose it does. Now, we have a Zygon invasion to stop. Do you think you can do this?” he asked, tactfully changing subject.

Rose narrowed her eyes at him. She hated it when he withheld information from her. But he was right. They couldn’t be wasting much time, especially over domestics.

“Yeah, I’ll give it a go. Can’t make any promises though.”

“That’s my girl,” he replied playfully.

“Don’t you forget it,” she laughed.

“That which had been forgotten can be remembered,” he threw back and walked down the stairs.

She stopped in her tracks, his words ringing in her ears. Was he trying to send her a message? Was he trying to tell her that what she perceived as Eleven’s offish demeanor towards her was anything but what she thought it was? She shook her head. Sometimes she wished they would just say outright what they meant. It really did get frustrating at times.

She went back down to the pits. The frame was huge, but otherwise quite ordinary looking.

Eleven stood in the middle of the room, and tweaked his bow tie nervously. “Ready?” he asked, licking his lips nervously.

Rose walked to stand in front of him, tilting her head up to look into those eyes. She reached up and adjusted his bow tie and then grinned. “Still love the bow tie,” she said.

He seemed to visibly relax and grinned down at her. “Tell me you like fez’s as well.”

She laughed. “That was you that threw the fez into the time fissure!”

“Yes! It seems to have gotten lost somehow. Other times it gets blown up. Nobody likes my fez,” he said almost sulkily.

Her face softened. “I’ll have to see you wearing it first before I make a judgement. Though, if you can pull a bow tie off, I’m sure you could pull a fez off as well.”

His eyes twinkled down at her and she caught a flash of something else, a deeper emotion. “Ready?” he asked.

She nodded and he slowly raised his hands to cup her face and lowered his head until his forehead rested against her own. She noted the way his breath quickened, how his hands shook slightly. “Think of Rome, Doctor,” she teased lightly.

“I could never forget Rome, Rose,” he replied, his voice slightly husky. Then he said, “Think back to that moment in Arcadia and lower your shields. Let me in, Rose.”

She closed her eyes and pictured the day Gallifrey fell. She saw the smoke billowing up, they sky tainted with orange and black. Dalek ships swarming all around them, shooting off green rays of energy blasts. Arcadians were running around, fear and terror written on each of their faces. She saw a small stuffed toy in the form of a bunny laying on the ground, muddied and dirty. She saw families torn apart, mother screaming for their children, frantically trying to find them amongst all the death and destruction, fervently praying that their own children were not among them. She saw Lily lying on the ground, her small round face bloodied and lifeless.

She swallowed hard and lowered her shields, allowing the Doctor to enter. She felt his presence, warm and gentle and reassuring. He soothed her as she felt the fear that accompanied this memory surface.

“This is the memory,” he said out loud.

“Good. Now, Rose, you need to open yourself up to the Tardis as well as call up your powers. He and the Tardis will guide you.” Eight instructed in his soft baritone voice.

“OK,” she said, her voice a bit shaky and she still stared at the image of Lily. How many children? Two point four seven billion. Two point four seven billion children that would die at her hands.

The thought slipped and she felt Eleven stiffen. She instantly blocked off the memory of the Moment, hoping he hadn’t glimpsed too much. Hopefully. She felt for the Tardis’ energy and she felt the welcoming hum. She felt the energy of the Tardis surround her in a motherly way and then she called up the power within her. The Tardis instantly took control, and with the guidance of Eleven, they used her power to recreate the image of her memory.

She felt safe, cocooned in the warm, flowing energy of the Tardis and the protective mental embrace of Eleven. She concentrated on that image, her power mixed with the Tardis’ power, and willed it to the forefront. She opened her eyes and turned away from Eleven, walking slowly to the blank painting waiting for her. And she willed the image inside her head onto the canvas. Before her eyes the picture slowly started taking shape, like the whiteness was being wiped away and revealing the picture hidden underneath.

“Oh, my God! She’s done it. It’s exactly like the one I saw in the Under Gallery,” she heard Clara exclaim.

She closed her eyes and willed the power down, and felt the Tardis retreating. She landed on her knees, but not from weakness. She could still see the faces of all those children. All those people. And she was going to kill them.

“Rose?” she heard a voice call and opened her eyes, her vision blurred with tears. Eleven was kneeling in front of her.

“How can you still love me after what I’m going to do?” she sobbed.

Eleven frowned. “What are you going to do?”

She felt protective arms wrap around her. She didn’t need to look to know that it was Eight who was holding her. His touch and embrace was so familiar. She turned in his arms and faced him. “How can you love me knowing what I am about to do?”

“If the situation was reversed, would you love me any less?” he asked back gently.

“No,” she replied honestly, because she knew that he really didn’t have any other choice. They had stolen the Moment and walked to that barn, her knowing full well that he was going to end it all. And she had been fully prepared to stand by his side. But now that the burden had fallen on her shoulders, she felt the intense weight of the reality. And she didn’t know if she could even live with herself.

“What is she going to do?” Eleven asked, his voice dangerously low. He was still kneeling in front of them, his eyes like shards of glass.

“Nothing,” Rose said, wiping her face on the torn sleeve of her sweater and pushed herself up. “It’s nothing. Now let’s get into that picture and go stop the Zygon invasion.”

Eleven stood up slowly, like a panther uncoiling itself, and the look on his face was just as dangerous. “Don’t tell me it’s nothing. I think I have a right to know.”

Rose wanted to recoil at his caged fury, but she stood her ground, even though her heart was hammering in her chest. “It doesn’t concern you, Doctor.”

“It concerns you, and when it comes to you I am very much involved.”

She laughed bitterly.

“Remember what I said. It may have been close to three hundred years ago, but I remember exactly what I said to you that day you showed up on my Tardis.”

Rose swallowed hard. She certainly remembered every word he had spoken.

You have to understand, Rose, that I left him with you because I knew he could give you the life you wanted. He could openly love you and grow old with you and have children with you. I knew I would never be able to give you any of that. I did what I did because I thought it was the right thing to do. And it was one of the most utterly painful things I had to do, because I finally had you back and then I had to give you up.

No, I suppose this doesn’t make any sense considering you remember nothing of it. But I want you to remember this conversation once your memories come back. I want you to know that I never stopped loving you. But I had to move on. I had to, for my own sanity.

She finally looked up into those eyes. “I remember. But things have changed and we have both gone our different ways. You moved on.”

“And now we have found our way back together. Does that not mean anything to you?”

Anger flared in her. “Does it mean anything to you? You’ve barely shown me anything. You’re like a tightly closed book, one that I can’t read. You moved on and I understand.”

Before she could continue he was instantly in front of her, clutching her shoulders in a painfully tight grip. “How can I move on from you, Rose Tyler? I’ve tried. But you’re here again and I worked so hard to piece together my hearts. Tell me, how am I going to do that again when you leave me again? You want to know why I’m so distant. It’s because of exactly those reasons.”

He shoved away from her roughly, a disgusted look on his face. Whether it was disgust at himself or at her, she couldn’t tell. “Then maybe it’s for the better then that you don’t know,” she snapped. “That way you won’t have to bothering piecing together your hearts, the way I have had to.”

He rounded on her. “You think you’ve had it worse, hmm? You really want to compare heartbreaks?”

She was instantly in his face, shoving him, and shoving him again until his back hit against the cold stone wall. “No, because then I would be just like you. This has nothing to do with you, or with me. This has to do with the billions of people that I’m going to have to murder to stop this bloody war!” she screamed.

She stepped back, shocked. She hadn’t meant to say that. She hadn’t meant to tell him. His eyes had grown large. “You’re going to do what?” He turned to Eight. “What in the name of Gallifrey is going on?”

Eight was standing there, his face closed off, though those blue-grey eyes were deep in thought as he watched the scene play out between Rose and Eleven.

Rose stormed over to the stasis cube that was resting on the transfer pillar. Without saying another word, she placed her hand on the cube and was transferred into the painting.

“Why do you always resort to making her upset to get your answers?” Eight asked, his voice soft, but his eyes anything but pacified.

“You’re going to tell me right now exactly what she meant!” Eleven demanded, ignoring the question directed at him.

Eight studied him a bit longer before replying. “No. I can see now that my future does not need her.”

“That’s where you’re very wrong. I need her and that’s very much me.”

“Then why do you act the way you do around her?”

“I’ve lost her three times now. Almost broke my sanity each and every time. The last time I worked tirelessly trying to figure out a way to get her out of the time lock. I’d bring Amy and Rory for a much needed distraction, and after I dropped them off, I would go right back to trying to find her. Day after day. Year after year. Until almost three hundred years had passed. Can you imagine what that was like?”

“Yes, I can,” came the voice of Ten as he descended the stairs.

“How much did you witness?” Eleven asked.

“Pretty much witnessed the shouting match. So now, and I hate to say it, but I’m with Chinny on this, what the hell is going on?” he said, raising his voice as he looked pointedly at Eight.

Eight fiddled with his pocket watch. “I love Rose. And I know you do to,” he said to Ten. “Before I tell you, I need to know if you feel the same way?” he asked Eleven.

Eleven sighed. “I thought I could forget her. Get over her. Move on. But now, I’m not so sure anymore.”

“Doctor, stop lying to yourself and us. Of course you love her,” Clara said. She had been silent throughout everything, that he had almost forgotten that she was there.

“You’re pretty sure of yourself, Clara.”

“Yeah, I am. It’s what you don’t say that speaks volumes,” she said firmly.

He smiled thinly at her. Then he turned to Eight. “Why do you require that specific answer so much?”

Eight looked down at his pocket watch and then looked back up at them. “I’ll show you.”

They made contact and after a minute they opened their eyes. All three were deadly silent.

“Doctor? What is it?” asked Clara.

He ran a hand over his face, his eyes surprisingly blurred with tears. Ten looked shell-shocked and Eight was looking thoroughly depressed.

“Something not good.”

“Doctor?” Clara said in a no-nonsense tone.

He sighed. “She’s going to be the one to end the war. Not me. And when it happens, I’ll have to forget to maintain timelines. I will think that it was me. But it will be her, and she doesn’t have the luxury of forgetting.”

“She will if she chooses the metacrisis,” Eight corrected.

“What now?” Clara asked.

Eleven quickly filled her in on the story and at the end she looked horrified. “But that’s…which is she going to choose?”

“She pretty much had her mind set on the metacrisis. So I manipulated her into bringing us here, so that she could see for herself that my future without her would not be fine, as she put it,” Eight said bitterly.

Clara looked from Eight to Eleven. “Yeah, you two are very much the same. But you forget, it is her choice.”

“I know,” Eight said.

They stood there silently, the gravity of the situation weighing heavily on each of them. “Well, I guess we’d better go and stop the Zygons. Work out something from there,” Ten said glumly, hands thrust deep in his pockets.

They each placed a hand on the cube and were transferred into the painting.

 

Rose blinked and she was instantly back on Gallifrey. Time was frozen in that instant, the smoke and destruction and the Daleks. And then the air shimmered and everything unfroze. She heard the gravelly robotic voice of the Dalek behind her.

“EX-TER-MIN-ATE!”

She whirled around and out of the corner of her eye she saw the three Doctors turn at the same time, reaching into their jackets and withdraw their sonics. They blasted an energy bolt out of their sonics at the same time Rose blasted a golden bolt of energy out of her hand at the Dalek.

The Dalek screamed in agony as it was pushed back and finally blasted out of the painting. Rose could see the inside of the Black Archive and could distantly make out identical sets of three people, one man and two women.

Eight clasped her hand and they all walked with purpose, stepping out of the painting and into the room, walking past the Dalek without a second glance and straight towards the beings in the room.

Rose glanced behind her and saw Clara shakily pull herself through the painting and into the room, her eyes large and round. She turned her attention back ahead of her.

“Hello,” Eight stated, all authority.

“I’m the Doctor,” Ten said.

“Sorry about the Dalek,” Eleven elaborated.

The Dalek sparked and all three and Rose turned to look at it.

“Also the showing off,” Clara muttered murderously, though her eyes sparkled with excitement.

Ten nudged her. Oh, right. Introductions. “I’m Rose. Rose Tyler.”

The six people in the room just stared at them in glazed shock.

“Kate Lethbridge-Stewart,” Eleven said, strolling to one of the Kates. “What in the name of sanity are you doing?” he snarled.

The other Kate spoke up. “The countdown can only be halted at my personal command. There’s nothing you can do.”

Ten spoke up, walking towards them. “Except make you both agree to halt it.”

“Not even for three of you,” second Kate said adamantly.

“You’re about to murder millions of people,” Eight said.

“To save billions,” second Kate said.

Rose swallowed hard, the irony of the situation not lost on her. She would be killing billions to save the whole universe. She felt for Kate, knowing the dilemma she faced.

“How many times have you made that calculation,” she continued.

“Once,” Eleven said. Rose turned and he was staring at her. Then he turned his attention back to Kate. “Turned me into the man I am now,” he said with a pointed look. He turned around again and stared straight at Rose. “I’m not even sure who that is anymore.”

She felt Eight rubbing his thumb along the back of her hand. Ten had discreetly come to stand beside her and took her hand as well. She hung her head. Eight had told them everything. But she couldn’t find it in herself to be angry. In fact, she felt relieved. At least she would not be alone in this, and in their own way, they were showing their support. Even Eleven was telling her that she was not alone.

“You tell yourself that it’s justified, but it’s a lie,” Ten said, letting go of Rose’s hand. She knew that this was not directed at her anymore. They were now trying to diffuse the situation regarding the Zygons. “Because what I did that day was wrong. Just wrong.” His voice held deep sorrow.

Eight looked down at Rose and she looked up at him, both reflecting their own turmoil.

“And because I got it wrong,” Eleven said, “I’m going to make YOU get it right.” Both he and Ten strolled around the table, each grabbing the chairs on wheels and rolling them to the end of the table. Rose watched as they went in sync, each sitting down and placing their feet on the table, crossing their ankles and crossing their arms over their chests.

“How?” Kate asked.

“Any second now you’re going to stop that countdown,” Ten said, pointing a finger at each Kate. “Both of you, together.”

“Then you’re going to negotiate the most perfect treaty of all time,” Eleven said.

“Safeguards all round.”

“And the key to perfect negotiation,” Eleven continued.

“Not knowing which side you’re on,” Ten finished.

They both uncrossed their ankles and pushed against the table, causing their chairs to roll back. They stood and reached in their pockets for their sonics.

“So, for the next few hours,” Eleven said, “until we decide to let you out.”

“No one in this room will be able to remember if they’re human,” Ten said.

“Or Zygon,” Eleven finished.

Eight grinned and reached for his own sonic. Ten and Eleven jumped on the table and all three Doctors aimed their sonics at the device in the ceiling.

There was a blinding white light and Rose watched as the two Kates looked around, slightly befuddled. Then they became horrified as they saw the countdown.

“Cancel the detonation!” they both shouted.

Rose grinned and clapped happily. She turned to Eight and hugged him tightly. She pulled back and kissed him happily.

“Peace in our time,” Eleven said gleefully as he placed his sonic back in his pocket.

They both jumped down and Rose ran to Ten, hugging him just as tightly. “That was brilliant!”

“It has been known to happen,” he grinned and then he kissed her, long and soundly. He then hugged her and murmured in her ear, “But I didn’t do it alone.”

She pulled back and stared in those brown eyes. Then she turned to face Eleven who was pretending to look around the room. She walked up to him. He looked at her wearily, afraid of how she was going to react, considering their last conversation didn’t go to well. “Still fantastic as always,” she said, giving him her tongue-touched grin.

His eyes softened at her grin and then he opened up his arms. She hesitated and she saw the hurt in those eyes. So she closed the distance and felt his strong arms wrap around her, and she felt herself relax listening to his heartbeats. She distantly heard Ten start talking to the two Kates, getting them settled in to the negotiations.

“I’m sorry, Rose, for everything,” he whispered.

“Me, too, Doctor,” she said back.

“I never meant to hurt you. It’s like I’m so unsure in this body, especially when it comes to you.”

She pulled back slightly and frowned. “Are you unsure that I don’t love you anymore?”

He swallowed and nodded.

She smiled back sadly. “I was unsure of the same thing – that you didn’t love me anymore.”

“I never stopped loving you, Rose. Never,” he said firmly and surely.

“Yeah, I think we need to work on our communication skills,” she joked. “But Doctor?”

“Yeah?”

“I’ve loved four versions of you now. I doubt I’ll love this version of you any less.”

His eyes saddened. “But you don’t intend to stay with me.”

Her face fell. “I thought I was certain, Doctor, but now I’m not so sure anymore. This isn’t about me. And it’s not about you. It’s about so much more. And I don’t know what to do.”

“We’ll figure it out, Rose. Trust in me,” he urged, tilting her chin up with his fingers so that she was looking at him. Then he leaned down slowly and hesitantly kissed her. He grew confident and kissed her slowly, savoring the moment. And she kissed him back, feeling the stirrings of love for this man, the same love she felt for the four other versions of him.

The kiss tapered off and he clung to her tightly. “I’m afraid that if I let you go, I may never see you again,” he murmured.

She felt tears pool in her eyes and she found she couldn’t respond. She pulled back and kissed him on the cheek. “I think you’re needed with the negotiations, Doctor,” she said quietly.

“There are more important things,” he said back.

She smiled at him sadly. “I know.”

He looked torn. “I just need some time to myself to…think.” She hoped that he wouldn’t question it.

He nodded and then quickly leaned down, placing a tender kiss on her lips. “My precious Rose,” he murmured against her lips.

“My Doctor,” she replied back.

He smiled back softly and then turned to go and help Ten with the negotiations. She could hear the raised voices of both Kates as they battled it out.

“Cup of tea?” Eight asked softly from behind her. She turned and gave him a smile.

“Tea sounds lovely,” she said, taking the offered mug. They went to a little corner out of the way where two old leather armchairs sat. He sat down heavily in one, sighing contently as he sipped on his steaming mug of tea.

She sat in the other, sipping gratefully at the warm, sweet liquid. They sat in comfortable silence, just sipping on their tea, enjoy the rare moment of peace. Soon they would have to return, back to the reality of war. They needed this moment.

She heard soft footsteps and both she and the Doctor looked up to see Clara walking towards them carefully, unsure if she was welcome.

“Hello,” she greeted.

“Hello,” Rose replied, giving her a warm smile.

“Hello, Clara,” the Doctor greeted back.

Clara pulled up a chair and sat down. She fidgeted, at a loss of what to say. She looked at Eight, uncertain.

“Is there a problem?” Eight coaxed gently.

She bit her lip. “The Doctor. My…Doctor,” she said, her voice having gone soft and tender at those words. Rose looked at the girl curiously. It was so easy to fall in love with the Doctor. She couldn’t find it in herself to be jealous, just…curious. “He’s always talking about the day he did it. The day he wiped out the Time Lords to stop the war.”

Eight looked over at Rose and she looked back at him, biting at her lower lip.

“One would,” he replied regretfully.

“But you wouldn’t.”

He looked up, puzzled at her words and she continued. “Because you didn’t do it. It’s still in your future.” She was now looking at Rose.

“You’re very sure of yourself,” she said cautiously.

“He regrets it. I see it in his eyes every day. He would do anything to change it. But the thing is, he won’t remember that he didn’t do it.”

“I know. That’s the worst part,” Rose said. “But it has to be that way to maintain timelines.”

“But don’t you see. It killed him every day thinking he had done it. Now you’re going to do it.”

“Don’t you think I haven’t thought about that?” Rose said back kindly, her tone not one of patronising. “But maybe it’s better this way.”

“You really do love him, don’t you?” Clara asked.

“Does it need saying,” Rose said, smiling sadly back at the brunette.

Clara thought for a moment. “He loves you, you know. I used to watch him and there were times when he would act like everything was a game, but that spark was always missing from his eyes. His eyes give him away. He lost everything when he lost you. You were what was missing. And that’s why I know you haven’t gone through it yet,” she said, turning to Eight.

He raised an eyebrow. “Oh?”

“It’s your eyes. They’re so much younger.”

Eight looked down into his mug of tea and Rose saw the heavy emotions flash across his face. Losing him the first time at Canary Wharf had nearly broken her. What had it done to him? What will it do to him now? Even though he had the luxury of forgetting, he still knew now what was coming. And it weighed heavy on him.

Rose stood and extended her hand to him. “I think the moment has come, Doctor.”

He stood and took it, sadness etched on his face. “Yes, I’m afraid it has.”

There were raised voices as the two Kates argued and Clara turned her head in the direction of their voices. When she turned back, both Eight and Rose were gone.

“Doctor!” she shouted.

Chapter Text

Rose stood over the Moment, staring at the box that would aid in the destruction of Gallifrey. She stood absolutely still, deep in thought, reluctant to take that final step. Eight stood beside her and took her hand.

“So you and I both saw what your future was like without me,” she said.

“Yes, we did,” he replied softly.

“That was quite devious of you.”

“Did it change your mind?”

“Yes, but not in the way you think.”

“I know,” he said.

She turned to him, not in anger, but rather in despair. “How do I choose, Doctor? Either way, I kill billions. This has become so much more than either of our happiness.”

“I know,” he repeated.

“Then what do I do? There really is no other alternative.”

He embraced her. “I’m so sorry, Rose. This was supposed to be my burden to bear, not yours.”

“Just promise me one thing, Doctor,” she whispered against his chest.

“What?” he asked softly.

She pulled back enough to look into his eyes. “Promise me that you’ll forgive me. Because I don’t think I’ll be able to forgive myself.” Tears spilled down her cheeks as she stared at him with her whiskey colored eyes. His hearts broke and he wiped the tears away with his thumbs.

And distantly they heard the wheezing sound of the Tardis. They turned their heads slowly and watched as two Tardis’s appeared. The two doors opened at the same time and out stepped Ten, Eleven and Clara.

They walked further into the barn slowly, Ten looking around, Eleven staring at them with purpose.

Rose turned back to the Moment, unable to face them. “Please go away. I don’t want you to witness this, what I am about to do.”

She felt them surrounding her, each facing a side of the box. “All these years, I thought it was me that had pushed the button,” Ten said sadly.

“And I lived with that regret and guilt all these years,” Eleven said.

“But to find out now that it was you all along, Rose…it’s not something that I would have wished upon you,” Ten said.

“You are carrying the burden for all of us,” Eleven continued sadly.

“But now you don’t have to do it alone, regardless of what you choose,” Eight said, reaching for her hand and gently placing it over the button, laying his hand on top of hers. Ten and Eleven laid their hands on top of theirs. Silent tears fell from Rose’s eyes, trailing down her cheeks.

Rose’s bottom lip trembled as she tried to suppress the tears. “Thank-you,” she whispered.

“You’re never alone, Rose. We’ll do this together,” Ten stated.

“Together,” Eleven said. He looked over at Clara and hesitated. Tears shimmered in her eyes. “What? What is it? What?’

She shook her head. “Nothing.”

He looked down. “No, it’s something. Tell me.”

She licked her lips. “You told me you wiped out your own people. I just never pictured it was…you doing it, that’s all.”

Suddenly the room darkened and sound filtered through the darkness as the image slowly came into focus of the day Gallifrey fell.

“What’s going on?” Clara asked.

“Nothing. It’s a projection,” Rose said, feeling the Moment working. The projection showed children crying and running, trying to find safety. “It’s the reality around us.”

There was a mother covering her mouth in horror as a child screamed in agony in the distance, fire burning all around her. Clara turned around and then faced then, tears falling down her cheeks. “These are the people you are going to burn?”

The three Doctors and Rose watched the projection, raw grief flooding their features.

“There is nothing we can do,” Ten said.

“He’s right. There isn’t another way. There never was,” Eleven said, his voice trembling slightly. “Either we destroy our own people or let the Universe burn.”

“Look at you. The three Doctors,” Clara choked. “The warrior, the hero, and then you.”

Eleven walked up to her slowly. “And what am I?”

“Have you really forgotten?”

“Yes. Maybe. Yes.”

“We’ve got enough warriors. And any old idiot can be a hero.”

Eleven looked hopeless. “Then what do I do?”

Clara looked down and then back up at him. “What you’ve always done. Be a Doctor.”

The projection had gone eerily still. And then a different image was shown to them. Light chased away the darkness and ash fell around them like soft falling snow. The people of Gallifrey started emerging, wonderment of their faces as it slowly dawned that the Daleks were gone and they were safe.

“You told me once that the name you chose was a promise. What was the promise?” Clara asked.

“Never cruel or cowardly,” Ten started.

“Never give up. Never give in,” Eight continued.

Rose watched as the projection showed families running towards each other, happily embracing each other. A mother ran to her chid, engulfing him in a fierce embrace and then clasping his head between her hands and she kissed him tenderly on the forehead. The image faded and they were once again in the barn.

Eleven looked around, and then he looked pointedly at his past selves, raising an eyebrow.

“You’re not actually suggesting we change our own personal history?” Ten asked.

“We change history all the time,” Eleven replied. “I’m suggesting something far worse.”

“What?” Rose asked, hope suddenly blooming in her chest. It was feeling she hadn’t felt in a very long time.

“Yes, what exactly?” Eight asked, his face holding a light she hadn’t seen for a while.

“I have had four hundred years to think about this,” he said, his eyes falling to the ground as he remembered his shame. Then he looked up and grinned, reaching into his pocket and retrieved his sonic. “I’ve changed my mind!”

He aimed his sonic at the box and the button lowered and disappeared into the box.

“There’s still a billion billion Daleks up there, attacking,” Rose said, though she was now grinning. They were working out a plan. Something big was going to happen and it wasn’t all the doom and gloom she had imagined it to be.

“Yeah,” Eleven said cheerfully. “There is! There is!”

“But,” Ten elaborated, his own manic grin on his face. “But there is something those billion billion Daleks don’t know.”

“Because if they did, they’d probably send for re-enforcements,” Eleven said, practically dancing around.

“What? What don’t they know?” Clara asked, she, too, getting caught up in the excitement.

Eleven whirled around and said rather slyly. “This time there’s three Doctors and our Rose.”

Eight tipped his head back and laughed. “Oh, oh yes. That is good! That is brilliant.”

Ten grabbed Rose and kissed her. “Yes, that is brilliant!” Rose blinked back at him with shocked eyes.

Eleven laughed. “I’ve been thinking about it for centuries!”

“The Moment didn’t show us just any old future. It showed us exactly the future we needed to see,” Eight said in delight.

Rose grinned. “It was playing us all along, like chess pieces, bringing us all together and basically manipulating us to make the right move.”

Eight chuckled. “Yes, indeed. But you were the key to it all, Rose. You always have been.”

She grinned at him and jumped into his arms, wrapping her arms around his neck and gave him a deep kiss.

“So what’s the plan?” Clara asked, ignoring the snogging couple.

Eight let Rose down, his face flushed with happiness and excitement. He grabbed her hand and quickly kissed her knuckles. Then he turned to Clara to answer her question. “The Dalek fleets are surrounding Gallifrey, firing on it constantly.”

“What if the whole planet just disappeared?” Ten said, waving his hands for emphasis.

“Just a tiny bit of an ask,” Clara stated.

Ten continued. “The Daleks would be firing on each other. They destroy themselves in their own crossfire,” he said, crossing his hands back and forth to drive home his point.

“Gallifrey would be gone and the Daleks would be destroyed,” Eight enthused. The other two grinned in their own excitement. “And it would look to the rest of the universe that they had annihilated each other!”

“But where would Gallifrey be?” Rose asked.

“Frozen,” Ten replied, grabbing her hand and twirling her around, making her squeal. “Frozen in an instant of time. Safe and hidden away.”

“Exactly,” Eleven said in a low voice.

“Like a painting,” Eight finished.

Rose laughed having worked out what they were going to do. “Oh, you clever boys!”

They grinned back at her, rather pleased with themselves.

 

Rose and Eight went back to their Tardis, all but sprinting to get to her. They burst through the doors and the Doctor headed straight to the console as Rose leaned against the door, trying to catch her breath. A bottle of water appeared on a side table and she gulped it down greedily. She eyed the Doctor. He didn’t even seem phased.

He piloted them above the city and turned on the communication comms, the screen lighting up. Rose went to his side and watched the action eagerly.

The Eleven’s face came into view. “Hello? Hello? Gallifrey High Command. This is the Doctor speaking.”

“Hello! Also the Doctor. Can you hear me?” Ten said cheerfully as he came into view.

Eight winked at her, then pushed down on a button. “Also the Doctor. Standing ready.”

Rose stood out of view. This was the Doctor’s moment, his moment to make it all right. His moment to shine. And she had never felt prouder of him than at this moment. All of them. Eight looked over his shoulder at her, and she saw the intense love he had for burning in their depths.

And she wondered about the Moment. There never really had been the two choices. And she was glad for that.

“Dear God. Three of them! All my worst nightmares at once,” she heard Rassilon say and she grinned even wider.

“We have a plan,” Ten said.

“We should point out at this moment, it is a fairly terrible plan,” Eleven conceded.

“It most certainly won’t work,” Ten said.

“I was happy with fairly terrible,” Eleven scolded.

“Sorry, just thinking out loud,” Ten replied nonchalantly.

Eight rolled his eyes at Rose and she chuckled softly to herself.

“We are flying our three Tardis’s into your lower atmosphere,” Eleven continued.

“We are positioned at equidistant intervals around the globe,” Ten said, flicking a switch. She heard him say, almost to himself. “Equidistant. So grown up.”

The Tardis started shaking as Eight piloted them and Rose grabbed onto the edge of the console. “Just about ready to do it,” Eight said, flipping some of his own switches.

“Ready to do what?” Rassilon commanded.

“We’re going to freeze Gallifrey,” Eleven replied.

“I’m sorry? What?” Rassilon asked in disbelief.

“Using our Tardis’s, we’re going to freeze Gallifrey in a single moment in time,” Ten said dramatically.

“You know, like those stasis cubes,” Eight explained. “Single moment in time, held in a parallel pocket universe.”

“Except, we’re going to do it to a whole planet,” Eleven said, raising his hands and gesturing.

“And all the people on it,” Ten continued.

“What?” Rassilon said in shock. “Even if that were possible, which isn’t, why would you do such a thing?”

“Because the alternative is burning,” Eleven said.

“And I’ve seen that,” Ten added.

“And I never want to see it again,” Eleven stated firmly.

There was a pause as Rassilon contemplated his words. “We’d be lost in another universe. Frozen in a single moment.” His voice had taken on a sad edge and Rose felt sorry for him. But then she remembered that he had wanted to use the Final Sanction. “We’d have nothing.”

“You would have hope. And right now that that is exactly what you don’t have!” Eleven said, almost shouting.

“It’s delusional. The calculations alone would take hundreds of years,” Rassilon said.

“Oh, hundreds and hundreds,” Eleven confirmed.

“But don’t worry,” Ten said. “I started a very long time ago.”

A voice came over the comms and Rose saw the Doctor, the first Doctor, on the screen. “Warning to War Council of Gallifrey. This is the Doctor.”

“You might say I’ve been doing this all my lives,” Eleven said.

The face of the Second Doctor came on the screen. And then the third and fourth, right down to his seventh face. Each gave their greeting.

“And for my next trick, came the familiar Northern burr of her Doctor and Rose’s heart stuttered. She inched closer to see him in his leather jacket. He was looking down, and she reached out to touch the screen, longing written on her face. How she had missed him. For all his gruffness and shortness, she would never forget her first Doctor. She hastily stepped back, momentarily forgetting that she would be in view. She saw Eight looking at her and he gave her a sad smile.

“I didn’t know I was so well off. All twelve of them,” Rassilon commented drily.

She heard another voice correct him. “No, Sir. All thirteen!”

She peered around to take a look at what the Doctor would look like, curiosity getting the better of her. He had pale blue eyes and the thickest eyebrows she had ever seen. Older looking, his hair almost grey. And yet she saw familiarity in that face. She grinned. Same man, different face.

“Sir! The Daleks know something is happening. They are increasing their firepower,” a Time Lord declared, desperation in his voice, and Rose could distantly hear explosions.

“Do it, Doctor,” Rassilon said, defeat in his voice. “Just do it.”

Rose looked over to Eight, his eyes closed with the pain he was feeling. But he opened them and nodded once at her.

“OK. Gentlemen, we’re ready,” Eleven said slowly. “Rose?” he called out.

She looked questioningly at Eight but he just shrugged. She stepped into view. “Yes, Doctor?”

“Rose? What the hell is she doing here?” Nine demanded.

“Oh, be quiet you. We have a job to do. Now, Rose, we’re going to need your help. The Tardis will guide you,” Eleven instructed.

She nodded and stepped back, closing her eyes and opening herself up to the power of Bad Wolf and the Tardis. She felt her power grow and swirl around her and the Tardis pulled at that power. She could see in her mind what was happening. The Tardis was distributing the power between the other Tardis’s and together they all spun a web around the planet, so fast it was a blur, until the planet looked like it was glowing with golden light. And then suddenly there was a massive explosion, a shock wave that blasted through. Rose fell back, her eyes springing open. She scrambled to her feet and peered at the monitor. There was nothing but empty space and debris of Dalek carcasses floating around.

She turned her head slowly to Eight. “Did it work?”

“I don’t know,” he replied.

Suddenly a set of co-ordinates appeared on the screen. Eight raised an eyebrow at her. “Shall we go?”

She grinned back and nodded.

Chapter Text

They landed and stepped out into a private room in what looked like a museum. On the wall hung the painting of Gallifrey Falls. She walked up to the painting and stared at it.

She turned around at the sound of the Tardis’s appearing. Eleven and Clara stepped out and Ten followed shortly after. They stared around the room and their eyes rested on the painting.

“Well, I’m going to organise tea,” Eight said, popping back into the Tardis. He returned surprisingly quick with a tray laidened with all the settings for tea for all of them. He placed the tray down on the bench and each took turns making their own cups.

Eight stirred two cubes of sugar into his black tea. “I don’t suppose we’ll ever know if we actually succeeded?”

“No, I suppose not,” Eleven mused, sipping from his own cup of tea.

Rose sat next to Clara and they both watched the three Doctors stare at the painting.

“So what are you going to do now?” Clara asked her.

Rose stilled. She hadn’t thought that far ahead. She had had such tunnel vision these last few years, the main one was getting through the war that she hadn’t stopped to think what would happen afterwards. Subconsciously, she had always assumed that she would not see the end of it. But what now?

Out of the corner of her eye she could see the three Doctors turn around and stare at her, wondering, too, what her choice was going to be.

She was saved from answering by the sound of a Tardis materialising. She stood abruptly, almost spilling tea all over herself. She hastily placed it back on the tray and looked over at the three Doctors, who were equally shocked as she was.

The Tardis finished materialising and the door slowly creaked open. And out strode Nine, a thunderous expression on his face. His ice blue eyes instantly fell on Rose, and he silently mouthed her name.

She didn’t think twice. She ran to him and flung herself in his arms. He was caught off guard and almost stumbled back, but he regained his balance and wrapped his arms around her waist.

“You always were her favourite,” Eleven said with a bite of disgust in his voice. “Don’t know why, with the big ears and nose.”

She shot Eleven a warning look and he looked chastened. But Nine didn’t even seem to hear him, his focus was all on Rose.

She grinned up at him. “I’ve missed you.”

He blinked and smiled down fondly at her. “I’ve barely had time to miss you. Just dropped you off at your mum’s.”

She grinned even wider. This him always deflected from giving compliments or showing his true feelings. Clara was right though. It’s what he didn’t say that said so much.

She grabbed his ears and pulled him down roughly for a kiss. At first he tried to pull back, but she held on tighter and used the momentum to deepen the kiss. And then it was like a fire had been lit and he was kissing her back roughly and he spun them around, slamming her back into the Tardis. But she barely registered the pain, she was so lost in the kiss.

A discreet cough sounded from behind him, and she blushed furiously as she pried herself from him.

Clara looked at Eleven in shock. “You actually do things like that?”

Eleven blushed furiously and looked everywhere but at her, or Rose. Ten’s face was a rigid mask, but he held himself back. Eight was staring at her with a look she couldn’t decipher. “How odd it is to be jealous of myself.”

“Quite right, too,” Ten muttered.

“Better question is what are you doing here?” Eleven asked.

Nine composed himself, though his ears were burning red. “I received co-ordinates for here.”

Eleven frowned and then turned to Ten. “You sent him the co-ordinates?”

“No! I thought you were the one who sent the co-ordinates,” he stated.

They turned to Eight. “Wasn’t me,” he said simply.

“Then who was it?” Eleven asked.

“Never mind that. What in the blazes is Rose doing here? How did she end up with you?” he asked, pointing a finger at Eight. “And why would you drag her through the war?” he all but shouted.

Rose touched his arm and he looked down at her, his ice blue eyes thunderous, almost murderous. “They had nothing to do with it, Doctor. And there was no way for him to get me back to my time. We were in a time lock.”

Nine shook his head. “A lot of gaps there, Rose. Mind filling them in?”

Rose looked at the other three Doctors. “A little help?”

Eleven and Ten looked at each other and all but shoved Eight to the forefront. “Why me?” he protested.

“Because you don’t know what he’s like. And personally, we do. We don’t want to be within arm’s reach when the news is given to him.”

Eight frowned. “Reassuring.”

“Wasn’t meant to be,” Ten said.

“You’ll be fine,” Eleven said, though his tone belied anything but that.

Eight sighed and closed his eyes. “Contact.”

Nine rolled his eyes irritably and closed his eyes. “Contact,” he said gruffly.

“Ten quid he gets punched,” Ten wagered.

“Ten quid you get punched,” Eleven countered.

“Me? Why? If anything it should be you?”

Eleven looked affronted. But he took a discreet step back. Rose watched Nine and Eight warily. Their eyes opened and then faster than she could react, Nine punched Eight. Eight landed on floor and looked up at the ceiling dazed.

Ten held out his hand to Eleven, a smirk on his face. “You owe me ten quid.”

Nine started walking towards Ten and Ten hastily stepped back. “I should pummel you for what you did!” Then he turned on Eleven, who had gone slightly pale. “And I should kill you for the things you said to her.”

“Doctor! Stop!” Rose shouted, coming to stand between Nine and Eleven. She looked at where Eight was lying. Ten was helping him up. Eight glared at him. She placed her palms on Nine’s broad chest, feeling his twin heartbeats.

He looked down at her and seemed to come to a decision. He bent and had Rose hauled over his shoulder and swiftly marched back to his Tardis, locking the door firmly behind him. There was hammering on the door from the other Doctors.

“Doctor! What the bloody hell do you think you’re doing?” Rose shouted.

Nine placed her down and stepped back to look at her. “Go get cleaned up and then we’ll have a chat,” he said calmly.

She narrowed her eyes. “And what about them?”

“Let them think that I’m going to take you. Make them realise what they stand to lose by their actions.”

“They’ve already had that. Remember?”

“Let them have another reminder.” Then his eyes softened. “Let it just be you and I for a little bit.”

She bit her bottom lip, unsure. He rolled his eyes. “Seriously, Rose. I’m not going to cart you off. Younger you is waiting for me. And I wouldn’t mess with the time lines like that.”

She nodded slowly. “Promise?”

He grinned wickedly. “I can’t promise that I’m not going to tease them a bit.”

She grinned back. “I’ve missed you so much, Doctor.” She turned and ran down the familiar hallways until she found her room. Still messy as ever. She quickly got showered and rummaged through the closet for some clothes. But everything was a style she had outgrown. When she turned around there were clothes neatly folded on the unmade bed. She smiled and mentally thanked the Tardis. She dressed in the tight black jeans and knee high black boots. She pulled the simple white tank top over her head and grabbed the leather jacket, shrugging easily into it, the leather soft to the touch. She dried her hair and tied it up into a high ponytail and applied a light touch of make-up.

She went back to the console and found him sitting in the jump seat, staring at the monitor. It was quiet outside. “Have they gone?” she asked.

He grinned at her. “After I shocked them a few times.”

She rolled her eyes, but grinned back, coming to sit next to him.

“Besides, they know I won’t be stupid enough to take you away.”

“I might have let you,” she admitted.

He smiled softly at her. “Was I really your favourite?”

She clasped his hand. “You were my first Doctor, the first face I fell in love with.”

“This daft old face?” he scoffed.

She turned in her seat, facing him and traced the stubble along his jawline. “Not daft. I always thought you very handsome. But I fell in love with you, Doctor, not the face you wore. I guess that’s why it was so easy to fall in love with the other you’s.”

“Yeah, the pretty boys.”

She laughed, and it felt so easy to do around him. “Only you could get away with calling them that.”

His thumb traced the back of her hand, back and forth. “So what do you want to do?” he asked after a few moments of silence had passed.

“Not sure, really. Hadn’t thought that far ahead. Not sure what the future holds now.”

“You’ve changed so much, Rose Tyler.”

“In a good way or bad way?”

He remained silent. “Is this what you want? To spend eternity with me?” he finally asked.

“Yes, but…”

“But what?” he asked gently.

She looked back in those ice blue eyes. “I have changed, Doctor. And sometimes I don’t think it’s for the better. I don’t know if you would still want me.”

“We all evolve and change over time, but we all remain the same deep down. And deep down you are still Rose Tyler. Brave, honest, caring. And you make me a better man. And you’ll always be everything to me.”

She shifted and then swung a leg over, until she was straddling him. He made no protest, his eyes showing how much he wanted to do this. His big, strong hands rested on her waist and she leaned down to kiss him. She felt him grow hard between her legs as she deepened the kiss and she grinned against his mouth. “I always fantasised about doing this with this you.”

“You and me both,” he growled. His hands moved to her thighs and then curled underneath. He lifted her up and walked her to the console, placing her in a sitting position on the console. She pulled him in for a kiss and he kissed her back, hard, slowly forcing her back. She ignored the buttons now digging into her back. He rutted against her and she moaned, instantly wet. His hand snaked under her shirt and bra and he cupped her breast, pinching the nipple as he kneaded. Her hand snaked between them and she cupped him over the fabric of his jeans. He moaned into her neck and thrust into her hand. He felt so hard and big.

There was an insistent banging on the door. They both ignored it, though they had both frozen and were staring at each other. “Do you really want to do this?” he panted.

She responded by squeezing him harder and he growled, hoisting her off the console and marched her to the nearest room, which happened to be the kitchen. He roughly placed her down and spun her around, shedding her jacket and then bending her over the table. She grabbed the edges, knowing this was going to be rough and she would hurt in the morning, but she wanted this. God, she wanted this. With this him.

His hands snaked around her and unbuttoned her jeans. He roughly pulled them down, along with her panties, and he helped pull off her boots - jeans and panties following shortly after. He rubbed the cheek of one ass, and then he smacked it. She yelped, the pain verging on pleasure. He rubbed at the spot and then his long fingers trailed between her legs, finding her wet and she moaned. He thrust a finger into her and she whimpered in pleasure. He added another finger, thrusting in and out. She felt herself getting embarrassingly close and she almost whined when he pulled out. Then she heard his zipper and the sound of his pants dropping. He nudged her legs further apart with entered her in a hard thrust.

She cried out and he stopped, letting her grow accustomed to his size. But she could sense that it was taking a great deal of effort to hold himself back, and she didn’t want that. She wanted him to be aggressive and to lose himself in her. She pushed her hips back, urging him to continue and he groaned, his hands tightening on her hips. He pulled out slowly and then then thrust into her again, hard. He did that again and then set up a rhythm, the thrusts fast and hard. She felt the orgasm building up, her moans of pleasure intermingling with the sound of flesh slapping against each other. She met him thrust for thrust and finally the orgasm exploded in her, causing her to call out his name. His thrusts became more erratic and he spilled himself into her as he came. His hands left her waist and he rested his hand against the table, his arms shaking from the exertion. There was nothing but the sound of their laboured breathing.

He pulled out of her and pulled up his jeans, fastening the belt and zipping up the zip. He found some paper towel and silently cleaned her up. When he was finished she stood up, her muscles shaky. She pulled on her panties, jeans and boots.

He was grinning at her like the Cheshire Cat and she grinned back as she smoothed down her hair. “You think you’re so impressive,” she teased.

He stalked towards her. “I think I’ve proved how impressive I am,” he said in a low voice.

She looked up at him, grinning, and wrapped her arms around his neck. His arms snaked around her waist, holding her tight against him. “Any regrets?” she asked softly as she looked into those icy blue eyes.

“Only that I have to return you to those idiots,” he said leaning down and kissing her so tenderly it was hard to imagine he had been so rough during their lovemaking.

“You’re going now, aren’t you?” she asked sadly, her heart already yearning for this him.

His eyes softened and he caressed her cheek. “Wish I didn’t have to. Mainly because I’m going to have to forget all of this.”

She leaned up and gave him a small kiss. “But I’ll always remember.”

He crushed her into a fierce hug. “Are you going to be happy being with those idiots? Cos if you’re not, I’ll take you away,” he said gruffly.

“Tempting,” she teased. He pulled back to look down and when he saw that she was joking, he relaxed. “Things were out of your hands, Doctor. You did the best you could to help me.”

“And what about Dickie Bow? He said some harsh things to you.”

She laughed at the name he had just called himself. Then she nodded. “I think it’s going to take time, Doctor.”

He held her tightly for a bit longer, softly stroking her hair. “Are you sure?”

She pulled back and took his hand. “Yeah.”

“Okay then,” he replied. They went to the door and opened it, stepping out to find the three Doctors and Clara sitting patiently on the benches by the painting. The three Doctors stood to face them while Clara merely turned where she sat, watching how it was going to play out.

“You know, I should take her away with me after all that you lot have done,” he threatened. It was a hallow threat. He knew it and they knew it. But no one dared contradict him. Instead they all remained uncharacteristically quiet, letting him finish.

“Rose is precious. More than you lot seem to realise. It’s time you start remembering and start treating her right. Cos if not, I’ll snatch her away in a heartbeat. Time lines be damned.”

Then he looked down his nose at them, as though the mere sight of them was repulsive to him. Then he pointed a finger at Eleven. “You’d better get your act together and start remembering what it was like without her. Otherwise you’ll be spending more time without her.”

Eleven nodded solemnly. “It’s something I have regretted since I said it.”

“Well make sure there’s no more regrets,” Nine warned darkly. Then he turned to Rose looked down at her with tenderness in his eyes. He cupped her head in his hands and leaned down, kissing her softly. Then he rested his forehead on her own. “I wish I didn’t have to forget.”

“You’ll remember shortly,” she replied sadly, inclining her head to Eleven.

Nine straightened and made a disgusted face, crossing his arms over his chest. “Still can’t believe I turn into him!” he muttered. Eleven wisely didn’t retort. Nine unfolded his arms and sighed. He kissed Rose on the forehead and turned to leave. He stopped and turned, pointing a finger in warning at all of them. “Remember. Look after her.”

Eight nodded, Ten and Eleven saluted. Nine rolled his eyes and went to the Tardis.

“Doctor!” Rose called out.

He turned, hope flaring in his eyes.

“You were fantastic. Don’t ever forget that,” she said, grinning that tongue-touched grin.

He grinned back, his eyes twinkling. Then he entered the Tardis and shortly after, it dematerialised. She stood there for a moment, staring at the spot where his Tardis had been, longing still tugging at her heart.

She felt a familiar hand take hers and she looked up into the eyes of Eight. Those blue-grey eyes were soft and kind. He caressed her cheek and kissed her. She kissed him back, tears blurring her eyes, a teardrop trailing down her cheek.

“You have to go, don’t you?” she asked.

He nodded sadly. “It is my time.”

“And you’ll have to forget everything?”

Again he nodded, his face miserable at the prospect of what he had to do. She shook her head. “No, stay with me.”

He placed his hands on her shoulder. “I can’t, even though my hearts will it. Our time has ended, but your time with him has only just begun,” he replied softly, looking over her shoulder. She followed his gaze and realised he was looking at Eleven. Of course. It made sense. Ten would also have to go and forget. Eleven was the one they were going to leave her with.

“She turned back to Eight, tears trailing down her cheeks. “He’s not you,” she choked, knowing how familiar those words were. She shook her head and swallowed hard. “I mean, I know he is you and you are him. It’s just…I can’t bear to say good-bye to this you. I’m going to miss this face terribly.”

He smiled, though it was a sad smile. “It’s not good-bye, Rose. It’s Hello.”

She felt an unfamiliar hand take hers and she startled, looking up at Eleven. She didn’t notice Eight letting go of her. Those emerald green eyes were looking down at her with a bit of trepidation, as though he were scared she was going to reject him. She stared into those eyes and noticed the kindness. He had kind eyes. And in the midst of that kindness, she saw love and affection. And devotion.

“Hello,” he said softly.

She smiled a slow smile that turned into a grin. “Hello,” she replied, seeing her Doctor in that face.

“I know it’s not going to be easy and we’ll have to work through a few things, but I would really love to have you by my side, Rose. If you still want. Not as a companion. Because you were never a companion. You were always so much more. So, so much more. So…”

She placed a finger on his lips to stop his prattling and he smiled warmly against her finger, his talking ceasing.

“Yes,” she said softly. “But let me first say goodbye.”

His eyes flickered to his younger selves and he nodded. She turned to face Eight.

“I don’t do well with goodbyes, Rose,” he said.

She hugged him tightly and his arms wrapped around just as tightly. “I’m going to miss you.”

“Me, too,” he said back. Then his lips caressed hers and he poured all of his love into that kiss. “My precious Rose,” he murmured. Then he looked at Eleven. “It’s now your turn to look after her, and I trust you will do that.”

“It is my intention,” Eleven confirmed.

Eight nodded to himself, kissed Rose and the forehead and turned back to his Tardis and visibly steeled himself. He turned one last time to look at her, as though memorising her face, and then entered the Tardis. She hugged herself tightly as the Tardis dematerialised.

She felt Ten wrap his arms around her and she couldn’t stop the tears, though she didn’t break down, which she considered a bonus. Later on, in her own private moment, she would mourn them.

“I’m going to have to leave soon, as well,” Ten said, stroking her hair like Nine had done. “But I wanted you to know that it was brilliant seeing you again. You were absolutely brilliant, Rose. I couldn’t be prouder. And I wanted to thank you.”

“For what?” she asked.

“You saved me. You helped me through the War, kept me going. I know that I wouldn’t have been able to do it without you. You made me a better man.”

She smiled up at him. “We did it together.”

“Yes, that we did. And hopefully we’ll continue saving the universe together.” And before she could reply he was kissing her deeply, his hands entangled in her hair as he tilted her head back to deepen the kiss. Her own hands were in his hair, her nails scraping against his scalp. The kiss tapered off and he pulled back.

“I should go before I haul you into my Tardis,” he said, winking at her and she blushed, knowing exactly what he was referring to. He let her go and ambled to the Tardis. “Thing is, I don’t want to go.”

“Oh, you always say. Off you hop. Shoo,” Eleven said sarcastically, though his eyes twinkled in amusement, his hands flapping and making the shooing motion.

Ten grinned back at him and said. “Look after her.”

“You have my word,” Eleven promised seriously.

Ten nodded and then looked back at Rose, his chocolate brown eyes shimmering with tears. “Allonsy,” he said softly.

“Allonsy,” she replied back just as softly.

He went in and the Tardis dematerialised.

“Well, I’m knackered,” Clara stated. “I’m going to bed,” she said, pointing over her shoulder. She didn’t wait for a reply and went into the Tardis.

“Clara seems like a lovely girl,” Rose commented.

“Yes, that she is. Travels with me part-time.” At Rose’s questioning look, he elaborated, “She’s a teacher. Amy and Rory also chose to travel with me part-time after a while.”

“What happened to them?”

“The Weeping Angels.”

Rose had heard stories about the Angels. “You couldn’t go back for them?”

“They had become part of set events. I couldn’t.”

She took his hand in her own. “I’m so sorry, Doctor.”

He smiled down gratefully at her and then embraced her, a hug that she returned without hesitation. This body of his was already starting to become familiar to her. He let go and led her to the bench where they sat side by side, staring at the painting.

“There’s two titles to the painting: Gallifrey Falls and No More.”

“I wonder which one is right?” she mused, tilting her head so that it was resting on his shoulder. He turned his head slightly and kissed on top of the head. They sat there in silence, his thumb stroking along the back of her hand.

Clara’s head popped out of the Tardis door. “Oh, there was an old man looking for you. I think it was the curator.” Then she popped back in and shut the door firmly behind her.

“I could be a curator,” he mused. Rose chuckled beside him and he grinned. “I’d be great at curating. I’d be the Great Curator!” He spread his palms in front of him, making a wide arc for emphasis. He chuckled. “I could retire. I could retire and be the curator of this place.”

“You know, I really think you might,” an older voice declared. Rose recognised that voice, but from where? Eleven had stilled beside her. He knew exactly who was speaking. They both turned to see who was speaking and Rose clasped her hand over her mouth as she recognised the fourth Doctor, though a much older version of him.

Eleven rose slowly, Rose remained seated, still surprised. Eleven advanced slowly to stand in front of Four. “I never forget a face.”

“I know you don’t. In in years to come you might find yourself visiting a few. But just the old favourites,” he replied in a rich, deep voice. Rose got up and slowly walked to stand by Eleven. Unconsciously he reached for her hand and she took it.

Four glanced at Rose and winked and then turned to the painting. “You were curious about this painting, I think. I acquired it in remarkable circumstances,” he said and turned back to face Eleven. “What do you make of the title?”

“Which title? There’s two. ‘No More’, or ‘Gallifrey Falls’.”

Four shook his head, his old eyes twinkling with a secret only he knew. “No, you see, that’s where everybody’s wrong. It’s all ONE title. ‘Gallifrey falls no more’.”

Rose gasped and Eleven closed his eyes as understanding hit him.

Four leaned in to whisper conspiratorially at them. “Now, what would you think that means?”

Eleven beamed and he grinned at Rose, who was grinning right back at him. He turned back at Four. “It means Galifrey didn’t fall. It worked! It’s still out there.”

“I’m only a humble curator. I’m sure I wouldn’t know,” he replied, making a move to leave.

“Then where is it?” Eleven persisted.

“Where is it indeed? Lost. Perhaps things do get lost, you know. Now you must excuse me. Ooh, you have a lot to do.”

Eleven’s face lit up, his eyes shining with excitement. “Do I? Is that what I’m supposed to do now? Go looking for Gallifrey?”

“It’s entirely up to you. Your choice. I can only tell you what I would do if I were you…” he broke off in a chuckle. “If I were you.”

Eleven chuckled along with him. “Oh, perhaps I were you, of course. Or, perhaps, you are me. Or perhaps it doesn’t matter either way. Who knows,” he said, tapping the side of his nose. “Who knows?” He looked down and then turned, walking with his cane out of the room.

Eleven turned to Rose, practically jumping up and down. “Did you hear that, Rose? Gallifrey is still out there! It worked.”

Rose laughed. “So do we go looking for it now?” she asked, the prospect of an adventure filling her veins with excitement.

Eleven quieted and turned to look back at the painting, still beaming with delight. “You said ‘we’.”

“Of course I did. You didn’t think you were going to leave me out, did you?”

He looked down at her with fondness. “No, of course not. It was just nice hearing you say ‘we’.”

He looked quite content, and if Rose had to choose a word, ‘fulfilled’ was the one that that came to mind. Complete.

He cupped her face and kissed her slowly and tenderly. “By your side is where I always want to be,” he whispered.

He took her hand and led her back into the Tardis. She still marvelled at how different she looked. But it was a good different. Just like this Doctor. Still the same underneath.

“Hold up. Do you think he was the one who sent us the co-ordinates,” she asked, referring to Four.

Eleven grinned at her. “I think he very well may have.” He flipped a few switches and dematerialised the Tardis. He then walked to stand in front of her. “I know we have a lot of things to works out, and get used to the new us. And I know you most probably want to take this slow, and I’ll go at whatever pace you want, Rose. I just want you to know that I’m not going to hold back. This is what I want. I finally have you and we can be together properly, with no fears, and listen to me babbling. I really am not very good at this. I don’t know what to say...”

She hushed him by placing a finger on his lips. “You said it perfectly. You said it in your own way. But can I ask one thing?”

He looked nervous. “What?”

“It’s been long day and I need to get cleaned up and get a good night’s rest. Will you…stay with me?” she asked uncertainly.

“Of course,” he said without hesitation and she gave him a shy smile.

They went to room that the Tardis had now deemed as their room. It was all dark wood furniture and dark blue bedding. She went to the bathroom and filled up the tub, climbing gratefully into the hot water and letting herself soak. She thought back to everything that had happened, a feeling of numbness stowing over her. It was finally over. The war was finally over. And a new chapter was beginning. She didn’t know how she felt about that.

Exhaustion washed over her and she quickly scrubbed and got out, drying herself down and putting on the skimpy pajamas the Tardis provided for her. When she came out she found Eleven already in bed, shirtless, and reading a book with his round glasses. She smiled at the sight. He looked up and swallowed hard when he saw how skimpily she was dressed. She crawled into her side of the bed and he placed the book down on the bedside table, along with his glasses. Silently he spooned her, holding her tight. Slowly she relaxed in his embrace, his twin heartbeats lulling her to sleep.

Screams and smoke filled her senses. She watched in horror as Daleks fired down on Gallifrey. She tried to run, to do something, but she couldn’t move. She could only stand there and watch as the horror unfolded before her eyes.

“Rose!”

Her eyes snapped open and she realised she was in bed. It was a dream. A nightmare. That’s all.

“Rose,” an unfamiliar voice called out and she startled when she saw Eleven’s face.

“Sorry, just disoriented,” she apologised.

“Not the face you were expecting?” he asked gently.

“Yeah, sorry.”

“Don’t apologise, Rose. You have nothing to be sorry for.”

She looked into those emerald green eyes, and she saw the man she loved in those depths. She cupped his face and kissed him, and surprisingly, he kissed her back without hesitation or restraint.

They made love slowly, getting to know one another’s bodies and when they came, they called out each other’s names in a soft prayer.

As she lay in his arms, she knew everything was going to be okay. They had each other and, in the end, that was all that mattered.

“I love you, Doctor,” she said sleepily against his chest.

As she was drifting off to sleep, she heard him whisper, “I love you too, Rose Tyler.”

 

 

THE END