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The Beginning of Forever

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“Doctor,” Rose said, grabbing her fiancé by the arm and pulling him into the alleyway beside the building.

“What is it?”

“I can’t go in there,” Rose said, glancing toward the building they were investigating.

“You can’t? I thought—”

“I am ready for the adventures and the trouble. But one of those guards is from the Estates, and he’d recognize me,” Rose explained.

“Yeah, and?” the Doctor asked, glancing at the man.

“And I’m supposed to be dead. Even if we were able to convince him it wasn’t me, we’d still cause a scene. Which is the opposite of what we want to do right now while we’re gathering intel,” Rose explained.

The Doctor was quiet for a minute. Rose could feel him in her head, trying to come up with a solution to the problem. “It’s okay, Doctor. You go in, find out what’s going on, get a client list, and get out. I’ll be waiting in the TARDIS, and when you get back, we’ll go interrogate people together.”

“But we’re supposed to be doing this together,” the Doctor sighed.

“And we will,” Rose said, smoothing down his lapels. “We’re just splitting up for a bit.”

“Are you sure?” He asked.

“Yes,” Rose smiled, pressing a quick kiss to his lips before saying, “Now go.”

The Doctor gave her another quick kiss and strode toward the building, coat billowing out behind him.

**********************************************************************************************************************

“John Tyler, Health and Safety. Don’t mind me,” the Doctor mouthed, flashing the psychic paper as he sat down in one of the cubicles. He could distantly feel Rose’s amusement at his choice of last name, so he knew she had made it back to the TARDIS. Their temporary bond wasn’t supposed to allow them to communicate over long distances, but the TARDIS helped Rose boost the signal, and he couldn’t be more glad. It didn’t feel right investigating without her.

”Stop thinking about me and pay attention,” Rose’s voice warned in his head, and he turned back to the woman.

“That's a three week course of pills for a special price of forty five pounds. We deliver within three working days. The box comes with 21 days worth of pills, a full information pack, and our special free gift, an Adipose Industries pendant,” the woman pulled out a small gold pendant and handed it to the Doctor. “It's made of eighteen carat gold, and it's yours for free. No, we don't give away pens, sorry. No, I can't make an exception, no.”

When the woman finished the call, the Doctor was still inspecting the pendant. “Right, I think I’ll need to keep this for testing. And I’ll need a customers list. Any way you could print one off?”

“Of course,” the woman smiled.

The Doctor popped up, “That’s the printer there?” he asked, looking over the cubicles.

“By the plant, yeah,” she said.

“Brilliant,” he said, sitting back down as she sent the command, popping up a few seconds later to ask, “Has it got paper?”

“Yeah, Jimbo keeps it stocked,” the woman replied.

Then Miss Foster walked in, and the Doctor ducked down as all of the employees stood. “Excuse me, everyone, if I could have your attention. On average, you're each selling forty Adipose packs per day. It's not enough. I want one hundred sales per person per day. And if not, you'll be replaced. Because if anyone's good in trimming the fat, it's me. Now. Back to it,” with that, she turned on her heel and strode away.

“Anyway, if you could print that off. Thanks,” the Doctor said. As he was about to leave, the woman pulled him back down and handed him a piece of paper. “Thanks, then. Oh, what's that?”

“My telephone number,” she replied.

“What for?” the Doctor asked, and he could feel Rose laughing at his genuine confusion.

“Health and Safety. You be health, I'll be safety,” she grinned at him.

“Ah, no no no no no,” he said, shaking his head. “I’m um, I’m engaged. Sorry.”

The Doctor quickly ducked away, sprinting to the printer only to see that nothing had printed. Groaning internally, he returned to her desk. “Me again,” he sighed.

**********************************************************************************************************************

“Oh Doctor,” Rose giggled as they walked up the street. “How could you not tell that woman was flirting with you?”

The Doctor groaned, “She was working, and I was just investigating. Why would she be flirting with me?”

“You are a bit fit, you know?” Rose asked.

“Yes, well, I’ve also been known to miss very obvious signs that people fancied me,” he said, looking down at her. “Especially since I met this one girl.”

“Yeah?” Rose said, her tongue peeking out from between her teeth as she smiled.

“Yeah. Haven’t really noticed anyone else since I met her.”

“Is that so?” Rose asked. “She sounds pretty special.”

“Oh, she is,” the Doctor replied.

“And do you know how she feels about you?” Rose asked, enjoying their light banter.

“Oh, I think she might fancy me just a bit,” the Doctor replied. “Even though I did blow up her job.”

Rose laughed and gave the Doctor a quick kiss. “As much as I’m enjoying this,” Rose said. “We’re here.”

“Well, allons-y, Rose Tyler,” the Doctor said as they walked to the front door and knocked.

When the door swung open, Rose asked, “Mr. Roger Davey? We’re calling on behalf of Adipose Industries. Just need to ask you a few questions.”

Roger let them in, and Rose and the Doctor had a seat on his couch and asked him about his experience with Adipose.

“I've been on the pills for two weeks now. I've lost fourteen kilos,” he said.

“The same amount each day, or does it just average out that way?” Rose asked.

Roger shook his head, “One kilo exactly. You wake up, and it's disappeared overnight. Well, technically speaking, it's gone by ten past one in the morning.”

“What makes you say that?” the Doctor asked.

“That's when I get woken up. Might as well weigh myself at the same time. It is driving me mad. Ten minutes past one, every night, bang on the dot without fail, the burglar alarm goes off. I've had experts in, I've had it replaced, I've even phoned Watchdog. But no, ten past one in the morning, off it goes,” Roger explained.

“But there aren’t any burglars?” Rose asked.

“Nothing,” Roger said. “I’ve given up looking.”

“Tell me, Roger,” the Doctor said. “Have you got a cat flap?”

“Yeah, this way,” he said, leading them to it. “It was here when I bought the house. I've never bothered with it, really. I'm not a cat person.”

“No, I've met cat people. You're nothing like them,” the Doctor said, getting down on his hands and knees to examine the flap. Behind him, Rose snorted at the joke.

“Is that what it is, though? Cats getting inside the house?” Roger asked.

“Well, thing about cat flaps is, they don't just let things in, they let things out as well,” the Doctor explained.

“Like what?”

The Doctor turned around to look at Rose and Roger. “The fat just walks away.”

Roger led Rose and the Doctor out of the house. “Thank you so much Mr. Davey,” Rose said, shaking his hand.

“Yes, thanks for the help,” the Doctor said. “Tell you what, maybe you could lay off the pills for a week or so.”

As soon as he had said that, a little device in his pocket started beeping and he grabbed Rose’s hand and took off running. “Oh, got to go! Sorry!”

Rose and the Doctor followed the detector’s signal down the street. A little black van almost ran them over, and the detector went mad for a second, and the Doctor and Rose took off chasing it, but the van moved too fast, and they quickly lost the signal. With a sigh, they headed back to the TARDIS.

**********************************************************************************************************************

Back in the TARDIS, the Doctor and Rose were examining the pendant he had taken from Adipose Industries. “Fascinating… It seems to be a –”

“Bio-flip digital switch!” Rose and the Doctor exclaimed in unison.

“Hold on,” the Doctor asked, “how did you know that?”

Rose shrugged and hopped up to take a seat on the TARDIS console so she could swing her legs freely. “You were thinking it. Loudly.”

“So you’re just going to take all of my dramatic reveals now?” the Doctor asked, raising a brow at her.

“Nah,” she grinned. “Where would be the fun in that? It’s much better to randomly surprise you.”

“Well,” he said. “If you know everything I’m thinking, then what do you think I’m planning on doing next?”

Rose laughed, “Love, I don’t need to be in your head to know the answer to that!”

**********************************************************************************************************************

That was how Rose and the Doctor managed to spend an entire day locked away in a supply closet. As soon as they were sure all the workers were gone, they snuck up to the roof to use the electric cradle to get outside Miss Foster’s office. They both listened as she interrogated the journalist, but Rose happened to look up and across the room to the opposite door, where she saw a familiar face.

Rose hit the Doctor on the arm and pointed at the window, just as Donna noticed them.

“Donna?” the Doctor mouthed.

“Doctor? Rose?” Donna mouthed back.

“But what? What? What?” the Doctor mouthed, looking between Rose, who was staring in shock, and Donna.

“Oh. My. God.” Donna mouthed.

“But how?” the Doctor asked.

“It’s me!” Donna replied.

“Yes, I can see that.”

“Oh, this is brilliant,” Donna grinned.

“What the hell are you doing there?” The Doctor asked.

“I was looking for you two,” Donna mouthed back.

“What for?” the Doctor asked.

Donna started doing some weird hand signals that Rose couldn’t make out, but she quickly noticed that they had a few eavesdroppers on their own silent conversation.

“Are we interrupting you?” Miss Foster asked.

“Run!” The Doctor told Donna, sonic-ing the door locked as Rose used her own sonic to force the lift up.

The met on the roof, and Donna quickly hugged each of them in turn. “Oh, my God. I don’t believe it! You’ve even got the same suit! Don’t you ever change?”

“Yeah, thanks, Donna. Not right now,” the Doctor said.

“Not voluntarily,” Rose replied, smiling at Donna.

“Still here then?” Donna asked her.

“Yeah,” Rose smiled. “We had a bit of a rough patch five or six years ago, but he’s stuck with me now.”

“Forever,” the Doctor smiled back at her, pausing for just a moment in his work to secure the roof.

“And I didn’t think you two could get any sappier,” Donna sighed. Rose laughed and brushed a lock of hair out of her face before Donna screamed and grabbed her hand. “Is that a ring?”

“Yeah,” Rose grinned, letting Donna see it.

“Do aliens have different reasons for wearing rings?” Donna asked.

“Some might,” Rose shrugged, “but this one represents a very human reason.”

“And I thought you said you two weren’t like that,” Donna scoffed.

“Well, we weren’t at the time,” Rose replied.

“If you’re done discussing our love life, would you mind telling us how you got here, Donna?” the Doctor asked.

“Well, I thought, how do you find the Doctor? And then I just thought, look for trouble and then he'll turn up. So I looked everywhere. You name it. UFOs, sightings, crop circles, sea monsters. I looked, I found them all. Like that stuff about the bees disappearing, I thought, I bet he's connected. Because the thing is, Doctor, I believe it all now. You opened my eyes. All those amazing things out there, I believe them all. Well, apart from that replica of the Titanic flying over Buckingham Palace on Christmas Day. I mean, that's got to be a hoax,” Donna explained.

“Yeah, sorry about that,” Rose shrugged. “But at least we kept it from crashing into Buckingham Palace.”

“That was you two?”

Rose nodded, but the Doctor just asked, “What do you mean, the bees are disappearing?”

“I don't know. That's what it says on the internet. Well, on the same site, there was all these conspiracy theories about Adipose Industries and I thought, let's take a look,” Donna replied.

“Okay ladies, in you get!” The Doctor motioned toward the cradle he and Rose had been in earlier.

Rose climbed in, but Donna said, “What, in that thing?”

“Yes, in that thing,” the Doctor sighed.

“But if we go down in that, they'll just call us back up again,” she protested.

“No, no, no, because I've locked the controls with a sonic cage. I'm the only one that can control it. Not unless she's got a sonic device of her own, which is very unlikely,” the Doctor replied.

They started going down, but they weren’t even halfway when the cradle started sparking and began to drop quickly. Rose looked at the Doctor and said, “Why’d you have to say she wouldn’t have a sonic device?”

The Doctor managed to get them stopped, and said, “Hold on. Hold on. We can get in through the window.” He tried to use the sonic to unlock the window, but it was deadlock sealed. “Can't get it open!”

“Well smash it then!” Donna yelled, grabbing a spanner as she began to beat on the window. Just then though, Miss Foster started to use her sonic to cut the cabling. Donna started to fall, but Rose pushed her tighter into the cradle, and was just holding on by a broken end of the cable.

“Rose!” The Doctor yelled, reaching out for her.

“Doctor, it’s too heavy. I’m throwing off the balance,” Rose said.

“No, it’s fine,” the Doctor protested.

“Love, if I keep holding on, I’m going to tip it over and you’ll both fall out. I promise I’ll be fine,” Rose said.

“Fine?” Donna asked. “Do you know how long that fall is, blondie?”

Rose glanced down at the very long fall and replied, “I’ve survived worse.”

“You’ve survived worse falls than that?” Donna asked skeptically.

“Believe me, I’ve been through a lot since the last time you saw me. Just neither of you look down, okay?” Rose replied.

“Rose, please,” the Doctor begged.

“Doctor, I have to. I’ll be fine. You two just get to safety, and I’ll meet you inside.”

“But—”

“You knew things were going to be like this if we got back to travelling. It’s just how things work with me now. I won’t do it recklessly without a purpose, but this is the only way to make sure you two get out of this alive,” Rose replied. Then, before the Doctor could argue, she let go, whispering, “I love you.”

Donna watched Rose hit the ground. “What was that? How did you just let your fiancée do that?”

The Doctor just stared at Rose for a moment, in shock, before he took a deep breath and said, “I have to trust her. I don’t like it, but I do.”

When Miss Foster began trying to cut the other cable, the Doctor used his sonic to burn her hand, making her drop her sonic pen. He caught it and used it to get a window open, then he and Donna crawled through. They ran toward the call centre, where Miss Foster and her guards were waiting.

“Well then. At last,” Miss Foster smiled.

“Hello,” Donna said, clearly shaken by watching Rose die, but putting on her best nonchalant attitude.

“Nice to meet you, I’m the Doctor,” he said, twirling her sonic pen in the air.

“And I’m Donna.”

“Partners in crime,” the Matron grinned. “And evidently off-worlders, judging by your sonic technology. Sorry about your friend.”

Ignoring the jab about Rose, the Doctor said, “Oh, yes, I've still got your sonic pen. Nice. I like it. Sleek. It's kind of sleek.”

“Oh, it’s definitely sleek,” Donna agreed.

“Yeah, and if you were to sign your real name, that would be?” the Doctor asked.

“Matron Cofelia of the Five Straighten Classabindi Nursery Fleet. Intergalactic Class,” Miss Foster replied.

“A wet nurse, using humans as surrogates,” the Doctor said.

“I've been employed by the Adiposian First Family to foster a new generation after their breeding planet was lost,” she said.

“What do you mean, lost? How do you lose a planet?”

“Oh, politics are none of my concern. I'm just here to take care of the children on behalf of the parents,” Miss Foster shrugged.

“What, like an outer space super nanny?” Donna asked.

Looking vaguely disgusted, Miss Foster replied, “Yes, if you like.”

“So. So those little things, they're, they're made out of fat, yeah, but that woman, Stacy Campbell, there was nothing left of her,” Donna said.

“Oh, in a crisis the Adipose can convert bone and hair and internal organs. Makes them a little bit sick, poor things,” Miss Foster pouted.

“What about poor Stacy?” Donna exclaimed.

“Seeding a level five planet is against galactic law,” the Doctor whispered.

“Are you threatening me?”

“I'm trying to help you, Matron. This is your one chance, because if you don't call this off, then I'll have to stop you,” the Doctor warned.

“I hardly think you can stop bullets,” Miss Foster said as her guards raised their weapons.

“No, hold on, hold on, hold on, hold on. One more thing, before dying. Do you know what happens if you hold two identical sonic devices against each other?” the Doctor asked, pulling out his own sonic screwdriver.

“No.”

“Nor me, let’s find out!” The Doctor grinned, pushing the two devices together and creating an awful noise.

Eventually, Donna stopped him and yelled, “Come on!”

The two of them took off for the supply closet he and Rose had been hiding in earlier that day. “Well, that’s one solution. Hide in a cupboard. I like it,” Donna remarked as the Doctor started throwing out mops and brooms.

“I've been hacking into this thing all day, because the matron's got a computer core running through the centre of the building. Triple deadlocked. But now I've got her sonic pen, I can get into it,” he said, opening the wall to reveal a computer system, and a rather amused looking blonde.

“Took you long enough,” Rose smiled.

“Rose!” The Doctor exclaimed, sweeping her into a bone crushing hug.

“I told you I’d be fine. Now come on, we have to stop her!” Rose said, getting the Doctor to release her.

As the Doctor started to work on overriding the machine, Donna looked at the two of them and said, “You look older.”

“Thanks, Donna,” Rose said sarcastically.

“Not like that,” Donna said. “It’s the way you act, the look in your eyes…”

“We’ve been through a lot since you last saw us,” Rose replied.

“Just the two of you?”

“No, we had a friend, Martha. She travelled with us for a while. But she decided it was time to get on with her life. Still visit her though,” Rose replied.

“I thought you were going to travel the world?” the Doctor asked.

“Easier said than done. It's like I had that one day with you, and I was going to change. I was going to do so much. Then I woke up the next morning, same old life. It's like you were never there. And I tried. I did try. I went to Egypt. I was going to go barefoot and everything. And then it's all bus trips and guidebooks and don't drink the water, and two weeks later you're back home. It's nothing like being with you. I must have been mad turning down that offer,” Donna laughed drily.

“What offer?” the Doctor asked.

“To come with you.”

“Come with us?” the Doctor asked.

“Oh, yes please,” Donna gasped.

“Right,” the Doctor said, looking warily at Rose.

I still like her,” Rose said in his head.

Me too,” the Doctor replied, and that settled it. If Donna wanted to come at the end of this adventure, they would finally have a new companion.

As Rose was about to say just that, the computer declared, “Inducer activated.”

“What’s it doing now?” Donna asked.

“She's started the programme,” the Doctor gasped.

The Doctor began working even more frantically, handing Rose and Donna each a handful of wires. “So far they're just losing weight, but the Matron's gone up to emergency pathogenesis.”

Donna gasped, “And that’s when they convert—"

“Skeletons, organs, everything. A million people are going to die. Got to cancel the signal,” the Doctor declared, taking out the pendant he had stolen and quickly dismantling it. “This contains a primary signal. If I can switch it off, the fat goes back to being just fat.”

He attached it to the machine, and it stopped for a moment before declaring, “Inducer increasing.”

“No, no, no, no, no. She's doubled it. I need. Haven't got time. It's too far. I can't override it. They're all gonna die!” He gasped.

“Breathe, Doctor. We just have to think, yeah?” Rose said.

“Is there anything I can do?” Donna asked.

“Sorry, Donna, this is way beyond you. Got to double the base pulse, I can't,” he whispered.

“Doctor, tell me. What do you need?” Donna asked.

“I need a second capsule to boost the override, but I've only got the one. I can't save them,” he said, stopping as Donna held up the pendant she had stolen. He grabbed it and used it to completely shut down the computer.

They all breathed a sigh of relief as everything stopped. Then there was a loud noise from above and Donna yelled, “What the hell was that?”

“It’s the nursery,” the Doctor replied.

“Wait a minute,” Donna said. “When you say nursery, you don’t mean a creche in Notting Hill.”

“Nursery ship,” the Doctor confirmed.

The computer lit up and declared, “Incoming signal,” before releasing a series of alien sounding noises.

“Hadn’t we better go and stop them?” Donna asked.

“Hang on. Instructions from the Adiposian First Family,” he said, listening to the instructions. “She's wired up the tower block to convert it into a levitation post. Ooo. Oh. We're not the ones in trouble now. She is!”

The Doctor took Rose’s hand and they ran to the roof. “What are you going to do then? Blow them up?” Donna asked as they watched the Adipose babies float into the sky.

“They're just children. They can't help where they come from,” the Doctor remarked.

“Oh, that makes a change from last time,” Donna snickered.

“I’m in a much better place now than I was back then,” the Doctor smiled, absently rubbing the ring on Rose’s finger.

“I bet you are…” Donna laughed as she waved at the Adipose. “Blimey, I’m waving at fat!”

“Actually, as a diet plan, it sort of works. There she is!” The Doctor exclaimed as Miss Foster floated in front of them.

She stopped at eye level and the Doctor said, “Matron Cofelia, listen to me!”

“Oh, I don't think so, Doctor. And if I never see you again, it'll be too soon,” she laughed.

“Oh, why does no one ever listen?” he asked, glancing at Rose before turning back to Miss Foster. “I'm trying to help. Just get across to the roof. Can you shift the levitation beam?”

“What, so you can arrest me?”

“Just listen. I saw the Adiposian instructions. They know it's a crime, breeding on Earth. So what's the one thing they want to get rid of? Their accomplice,” he said, stretching out a hand to her.

“I’m far more than that. I’m nanny to all these children,” she said, gesturing upwards toward the little Adipose babies.

“Exactly! Mum and Dad have got the kids now. They don't need the nanny anymore,” The Doctor said.

Rose saw the moment the Doctor’s words really hit her, just moments before the levitation beam was switched off. She watched the woman fall to the ground, and Rose winced, knowing exactly how that felt.

“You okay?” The Doctor asked, feeling Rose’s shiver.

“Yeah, it’s just that as a way of dying, falling isn’t my favorite,” she replied.

“Are you saying you’ve got a list of favorite ways to die?” Donna asked.

“Not a list, exactly,” Rose replied. “But there are some ways that are better than others.”

“You say that like you’ve experienced them.”

“Can we change the subject?” the Doctor asked, clearly uncomfortable.

“Doctor,” Rose replied. “If Donna’s gonna travel with us, she needs to know about my immortality.”

“Immortality?”

“Yeah,” Rose replied. “As it happens, it turns out I can’t actually die. Or at least, I can’t stay dead. The how and why are long and complicated and a story for another night, but that’s what’s important.”

“So earlier today, when you fell?” Donna asked.

“I died, yes. Was out about ten minutes, give or take,” Rose replied, leading the way to the TARDIS.

**********************************************************************************************************************

After they had waved at Donna’s granddad, she went off to bed. Rose was about to do the same when she realized that the Doctor wasn’t following her.

“What’s wrong?” Rose asked.

The Doctor didn’t say anything for minutes, but eventually he whispered, “You died today.”

“Doctor, I’m fine,” Rose said, taking his hand.

“But you died,” he whispered, turning to look at her, pain evident in his eyes.

Rose took his hand and held it up to her chest so that the Doctor could feel her heartbeat. “Feel that? That’s proof that I’m alive. That I’m okay. That it’s all okay.”

“But you died and I let you,” he whispered. “How could I let you do that?”

At that, Rose took a step back. “No. No. You don’t get to do that.”

“Do what?”

“Hold the monopoly on that guilt.”

“What do you mean?” he asked, taking a step toward her.

“I know how that feels,” she said.

“How could you possibly—”

“Do you know why I didn’t tell you about Bad Wolf the moment I remembered? Why I didn’t mention every time if was referenced? It was because I felt that guilt. I thought that if I told you, you would do something to try to take it out of me and get yourself killed doing it. Because I didn’t just let you die on the Game Station, I caused it,” Rose snapped.

“No you didn’t,” the Doctor argued. “I made that decision, not you.”

“Exactly,” Rose nodded.

“What?”

“That’s what I realized about Bad Wolf. And it’s what you need to realize about my immortality. Today, you didn’t let me die. It wasn’t a choice you made. It was one I made,” Rose said.

“But—”

“No. If we want to make this work, you’re going to have to accept that that is going to happen sometimes. I’m going to die, and what I need from you is for you to be there when I wake up. That’s all. I don’t need you feeling guilty over anything because it was all my choice. From dying to even becoming immortal in the first place. I made these decisions, so you can’t feel guilty about them.”

“Okay,” the Doctor agreed, far too quickly.

No. You don’t get to lie to me,” Rose said in the Doctor’s head. “Remember. I can feel it. And I get that it might take you some time to come to terms with it, but at least promise me you’ll try.”

Okay,” The Doctor agreed after thinking about it for a bit.

“Good,” Rose said, standing up on her tip toes to give the Doctor a quick kiss. “Now take me to bed, Doctor.”