Silence immediately befell all in the group as they left the relative safety of the small room and stepped into the corridor. The Two Doctors walked as a pair ahead of the two ladies, one of which was scrutinising their every surrounding, and the other analysing this new man – the younger Doctor – not being quite able to believe the tales they wove about Time Lords and regeneration…
…It made no sense.
They’r only been walking for less than a minute before the Doctors both waved a hand at the girls and then pressed their backs up against the wall. Eight was in the lead of the foursome, with his focus tight on whatever lay around the corner. His elder self was against the wall at this side, trying to lean across him for his own view, but was fighting against the annoyed swatting from the younger him. Martha shifted In beside her Doctor, her hips tucked in tightly against him. Leela, she was having none of being at the back of the group. She made her way to the front and crouched on the floor beside her Doctor.
“What is it?” she hissed out quietly through her teeth.
“Daleks,” Eight answered simply. “What else?”
There was a knife clutched I a dagger hold in her left hand, and her other hand tensed against the wall ready to press off. “Eye-Stalk, right?”
He looked down. “Don’t, Leela.”
“Isn’t that why we’re here? To defeat the Daleks and free the prisoners?”
Ten entered the conversation with a light huff. “Best we find out what, and how many of them, we are actually facing here,” he advised gently. “Taking one down might be easy enough, but if it alerts the rest of them…”
Leela gave a firm nod. “We will find a way, though, right?”
“What? For you to kill them?” Eight asked with amusement. “Of course. Even if it only means that we have to press a big red button to destroy them all, Leela, then I promise you I’ll let you press it.”
“I will hold you to that.”
“I am very sure that you will.” He sucked in his breath, pressed back against the wall, and signalled frantically for all of the companions to do the same. His hand had to fall upon Leela’s head to force her backward, but she complied readily enough when he did.
With a whir, a trio of Daleks rolled across the corridor past them. Eight kept his eyes on their retreating backs and only exhaled once they were out of sight. He twisted around to look toward the other end of the corridor and, seeing it clear, signalled for his team to follow.
Once again, the formation fell to the Doctor’s in the lead and the ladies at the rear.
“You seem to know exactly where you’re going,” Ten remarked quietly. “Which I find curious.”
“Let me guess, because you don’t remember?”
“Obviously,” he gruffed under his breath. “But moreso because I don’t ever recall entering a Dalek battleship at all through out lives until the invasion.”
“Which invasion might that be?” Eight asked curiously.
“Not my information to share with you right now,” he slid back quietly. “But it didn’t happen in your body if you’re looking for timelines.”
“This ship is identical to the one that crash landed on Gallifrey a little over two months ago…”
Ten grabbed his arm and stopped him short. “I’m sorry. Did you say that in this timeline the Daleks made it to Gallifrey. While you’re still you?”
“Yes,” he snarled as he pulled his arm from the grasp of his younger self. “And if you don’t mind, can we continue on?”
Ten gestured with a wave. “After you.” He let Eight pass him, and then stepped to his side. “They landed early,” he mused.
“Yes,” he replied. “That’s what she said as well before she destroyed every living thing on board it.” He shuddered. “Turned them all into dust. Every … single … one.”
“She?” Ten asked with a pucker in his lips and his eyes forward. He wasn’t sure if he wanted to know the answer to the question in his mind, although he was very sure he knew it. “Who is she?”
“The Bad Wolf,” he answered with only a slight flick in his eyes toward his younger self, looking at him through only his peripheral vision for a reaction. The reaction was minor, a blink if you miss it kind’ve thing, but it was there: a hardening in the eyes, and a clench of his jaw. “You’ve heard of her?”
“May have,” he whispered. “Although I doubt it’s the same Bad Wolf I encountered.”
Martha’s voice piped up from behind them. Her voice was quiet, but the excitement in it was obvious. “I’ve been seeing those words a lot lately,” she admitted. “Everywhere we go…”
Ten spun in place, his eyes wide and wild. His turn stopped Martha abruptly enough that she had to lean backward from him. His voice was clipped and harsh. “What did you just say?”
“That I’ve seen the words,” she repeated with a frown of discomfort shadowing her features.
His eyes flicked between hers, their intensity unwavering. “Where?” he hissed out. “Where did you see them?”
She found herself backing up and away from him. There was a very discomforted look on her face that was almost fearful. “Doctor,” she warned him. “You’re scaring me.”
“I need to know, Martha,” he demanded.
She began to cower just slightly against the spittle flying from his teeth, and that desperate manic look in his eyes. “Doctor, please.”
Eight took hold of his elder’s arm in a firm grasp that warned against any objections. He shook his head at him. “Stop, Doctor. You’re scaring her.” He caught the glare that had become legend across the universe since his last incarnation: The glare of the Oncoming Storm from Gallifrey. His breath hitched, but more in awe than of fear. “You won’t scare me,” he warned shortly. “Although nice try.”
He pulled at the Doctor, and then shoved him ahead of all of them. When he turned back to try and question her again, Eight clicked his tongue and pointed ahead of them. “Keep going…”
“You do know that I’m older than you, right?”
Eight rolled his eyes. “Doesn’t make you any wiser.”
Behind the two of them, Martha walked quietly. She held herself and rubbed at her arms. “I’m sorry,” she said quietly. “I honestly never thought anything of it. Just a faery tale bad guy.” She sniffed. “I didn’t think it was important.”
“It’s very important,” Ten gruffed. “More than you can know. Bad Wolf… She… She…”
“She’s Rose,” Martha suggested flatly, not making her statement a question at all.
Three sets of eyes shifted to her, but she didn’t look at any of them. Instead she sighed and looked at the wall as she passed. “Not hard to figure out. The only time you get misty-eyed, contemplative, passionate, or hell, even show any actual honest emotion is when it comes to her.” She finally looked at him. “You can’t even take me places that you didn’t take her, can you? All of the universe, Doctor, all the wonders of space and all the infinite possibilities – and you take me on a best-of Rose Tyler tour.” She slumped, pain in both posture and her eyes. “And I don’t even get to see the good parts of it. I get taken to the slums, don’t I?”
Ten’s eyes widened a moment, caught off guard by that. He didn’t stop walking, nor did he truly turn to face her. He did shift his head to one side full of apology. “I didn’t know you felt that way,” he admitted softly. So if you preferred that just took…”
“Finish that statement,” Eight growled hotly. “And I’ll let Leela castrate you.”
“It would be a pleasure,” Leela said with a pleasant smile as she moved to position next to Martha. With a very awkward effort of one not quite used to comforting anyone that wasn’t a small child, she tenderly patted at Martha’s arm. “The Doctor is a complicated man,” she assured her. “All Time Lords are – especially when their mate is concerned.”
“Rose was not my mate,” Ten corrected.
“No, Doctor,” Martha corrected him. “She wasn’t. She was much more to you than just a mate.”
Leela looked first to the Time Lord with the scowl on his face, and then toward the one with sadness on his. “Doctor?”
Eight shook his head at her as they approached the doorway to the main communications deck. “Leela, would you mind please staying with Martha at the doorway on Patrol?” He tipped his head toward the Tenth version of himself. “He and I, we have some…” He rolled his eyes. “We’ll need some backup and warning in case any Daleks decide to roll on by.” He looked around them with a lift in his brow. “We’ve been kept mercifully free of them so far – I don’t anticipate this luck holding too much longer.”
She gave him a nod, even as she pulled a second knife from her holster to hand to Martha. “Here,” she said. “You may need this.”
Martha looked at the weapon with a single brow lifted high. “You think that’ll help?”
Eight padded behind his older self with a slouch set in his shoulders. Like the man in front of him, his hands were deep inside his trouser pockets, and his head hung low. As a pair, an almost identical one in terms of stride and posture, they approached a communications console. They stood either side of a divider, facing but not looking at each other.
“I’ll look through the transponder traffic, see what communications have moved between this group, and any that might be hovering off-planet,” Ten advised. “Best you take a look through the schematics, see if there’s a weakness we can exploit…”
“Tell me about Rose,” Eight interrupted.
“I’d much rather not,” Ten answered him with a lift of his chin to indicate he had a task to do himself. “Focus on what you’re supposed to be doing.”
“I am,” Eight assured him without lifting his eyes. “I know what I have to do.”
He tapped at a keyboard, read through some lines of text that really told him nothing, and sniffed. “Tell me about her.”
Ten’s eyes lifted slowly. “I really don’t want to talk about her.”
Eight kept his eyes on the screen, but shifted his face in a gesture toward Martha. “Seems to me that you talk about her quite a lot. Enough that you’ve got a companion feeling not only envy toward the woman, but also making her feel as though she’s less important.”
“Martha is very important,” he corrected. “And once we are through here, I’ll make more of an effort to make her believe it.”
“You certainly seem to struggle with that, don’t you?” He queried curiously. “Making your companions feel unwanted, unsupported … unloved.”
He lifted his eyes angrily to his younger self. “Don’t pretend as though you have some great insight into who I am, and how I treat my companions, when you’ve only met one of them. Yes, I’ve got a few kinks to iron out in this incarnation.” He grunted. “But it’s hard to do when this body was created so very specifically for one person…”
“Born from love?” He queried with a tilted head.
Ten snorted out. “Yeah, but a fat lot of good it did for me, She’s gone now, and as usual, I’m left to go on. Alone. Like always.” He pointed at the Eighth Doctors console. “Now if your nosy self wouldn’t mind – get back on task.”
“So you do love her,” Eight pressed on. “This Rose Tyler, was she more than just a friend as Martha suggested?”
“Will you leave it alone?” he hissed through his teeth. “I don’t want to talk about it.”
Ten slapped both hands down on the console, hard enough to make all three of the other people in the room jump. “Because it hurts!” he growled loudly. Tears filed his rapidly reddening eyes. His words shifted to calm and quiet seething between his teeth. “Because Rose should have been my mate. She became my saviour, my lover, and the sole reason that my hearts beat.”
Eight recited a Gallifreyan phrase to that effect.
“Yeah,” Ten breathed out. “That’s the one.”
“So what happened?” He queried. His eyes shifted to his sunken shoulders and then up to his eyes. It was obvious this was a man who was grieving.
“I chased her away,” Ten admitted with a rueful smile of self hatred. “For some reason I can’t even begin to comprehend, I took her heart, I held it in my hand … and then I squeezed the love right out of it.” He sniffed and shrugged, looking back down at the screen. “So now she’s gone, with both of my hearts still firmly in her hands, and I’m here alone, trying to move on without her.” He lifted his eyes and gave his younger self a pained smile. “Isn’t that a great future for you to look forward to, Doctor? Are you happy you asked?”
Eight didn’t say a word.
“It's really no wonder I don’t remember any part of this,” he said with a somewhat manic laugh. “Why the Hell would I want to? Why would I want to know that what I’m heading into is a hundred and fifty years of brutal war, then, when that’s all over, I finally meet the love of my lives, and then what? I spend an entire incarnation making incredible love with her. Then Kyoto." He breathed out a heavy grown. "Oh we made love for hours that night. I couldn't stop - I didn't want to stop - If I died that night just like that, inside her, I'd have died happy. But then. Well… less than a day later, we're taken hostage by the Daleks, and I regenerate. I regenerate and turn into me: The one who let her down, and worse, let her die. She not just gone, Doctor. She’s dead, and it’s all because of me: The man who was supposed to love her.” He slapped hard at a rolling ball tracker on the counter, and then opened his arms wide. Tears tracked down his cheeks. “So – Spoilers! Happy future timeline, Doctor. You’re welcome! Aren't you glad you asked?”
There were several really quite very important things said inside the Doctor’s rant. Several things that his younger self really wanted to properly touch on and analyse for a long while maybe over a few glasses of wine and a slice or two of Rose’s Magnolia pie. However, one part of his rant stood out a little more than the rest …
“I’m sorry,” he started with a curious, and somewhat terrified expression. “One hundred and fifty years of what?”