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Starting Over

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Starting Over

Chapter 1: Bad Wolf Bay, Part Deux

Rose Tyler stood there on that cold, godforsaken beach and looked at the square depression in the sand where the TARDIS stood just seconds before. She felt numb inside, cold, like she had died again. This was wrong, this was so very wrong.

She felt a hand slip into hers. It fit perfectly, as always. She tore her eyes away from the square on the ground and looked into those familiar brown orbs for a moment. He stood there next to her, staring back with intensity, and she had to look away again, back at the square on the ground. His hand tightened on hers, as if he was afraid that she was going to pull away.

"What the hell just happened?" she asked, finally finding her voice. She hated how it cracked, how she wanted to drop to her knees.

"Rose," the Doctor softly called out her name, bringing her attention to him and back to the problem at hand. "I know that this isn't what you expected, but-"

"I shoulda known really," she interrupted him, harshly. She yanked her hand out of his and took a step back. "Every bloody time, 'm always pushed away, sent away, twice now sent to another bleedin' universe. I should probably just get it already, yeah?" she walked off as fast as she could, away from him before he could reply to her.

Her mother yelled, "Rose? Your Dad's sending us a car out of Bergen. They'll be here in about forty five minutes."

"Lovely," Rose replied back sarcastically, and kept walking to the place where the car would enter the beach.

XxXxXxXx

The Doctor stood there, unable to comprehend what she just said for a moment. When understanding came to him, it hit like a bolt of lightning. He did have a habit of sending her away, or even worse, pushing her away. At the Game Station, he sent her away to save her life, hoping she'd have a fantastic life. When Rose met Sarah Jane, he took that as an opportunity to push her away, hoping she'd walk away. He brought Mickey on board, hoping he'd put some distance between them. And while the situation with Reinette wasn't really what it seemed to Rose and Mickey at the time, he took advantage of the misunderstanding at first and hoped it'd drive her away.

She stayed with him through it all. The strife he introduced to their relationship seemed to make it grow stronger, contrary to his good intentions. And he finally gave up pushing her away.

Then came the biggest betrayal, when he put that yellow button on her and let Pete take her away, hoping that she'd be safe and happy in a universe where her father was still alive, with her mother there, and Mister Mickey, who was so beneath her, but would treat her well.

Not that he wanted her away, he just wanted her safe, and to live the life he could never have. And every time, he sent his hearts away too. But now, he could have that life, and it was just one heart now.

With the clarity of three years away from her, he made a decision right then and there. Nothing was going to keep him from being with her. There were no lifespan issues, no wall between the universes, no more changing his face, and hoping she'd love the next one.

He could be with her properly now, without the fear of living centuries after her passing. Nothing was going to stop him now.

Except her.

He knew she was furious, and she had the right to be. He didn't know what she had gone through in the years since, but he knew it was a lot, and that she had walked several universes trying to find him.

Well, the other him, with the TARDIS, in the other universe.

And that was the problem, wasn't it? There were two of him now, and they had managed to make her stay in this universe by telling her that the other him would be okay without her, and that this him wouldn't. He had just essentially told her that he didn't really need her. That whatever she went through to make sure that he wasn't alone was for nothing.

Well that was just fucking wizard.

He had to fix this. He'd start all over if that's what it took to win her heart back.

"Don't worry, Doctor, we'll take care of ya," Jackie Tyler said softly. "And you're really the same as 'im?" she asked, "save you're part 'uman?"

"Yeah, it's just like when I regenerated at Christmas, new body, still the Doctor," he reassured her.

"I still don't understand that."

"It's pretty complicated. Basically, the body is not the person, what makes a person is memories, and I have all of the same memories, feelings, basic thought patterns and all, it's just all stuck in this part human body with this one heart." He put his hand over his heart and tried his best not to let on how wrong it felt and to keep from making comments like he had with Donna.

Suddenly, his waist was enveloped in the arms of one Jacqueline Andrea Suzette Tyler. He just stood there for a moment in shock as the woman who once nearly slapped him into another body squeezed him.

When she pulled back, she looked him in the eye and said, "thank you."

"For what?" he nearly squeaked.

"For my family. If it wasn't for you, I wouldn't have my husband or my beautiful boy. And if it wasn't for this you," she emphasized 'this', "I wouldn't have my daughter, either."

She glanced over at her daughter, who walked off into the distance, then looked back at him knowingly. "She'll come around eventually," she told him. "She's daft about ya."

"I sure hope so, Jackie."

They watched Rose sit down on a big rock and put her head in her hands.

"Go to her, you plum," Jackie commanded.

"I don't think it's such a good idea-"

"Go to her," she repeated, "We're all gonna be in that car together for at least forty-five minutes, you might as well try to get talking during the forty or so minutes until the car gets here."

One didn't go against the advice of Jackie Tyler when it came to what to do with her daughter, at least not if you valued your face. He sighed, "I'll try."

"Go on," she nudged him.

And that's how he found himself walking towards the woman he loved for so very long, and had never thought that he'd ever see again. The walk seemed to stretch on forever, but the innate time sense that he still carried told him that it was only 1 minute, 20 seconds before he reached her.

"You know what's funny?" she asked, without turning around or looking up when he finally stood behind her. "I worked for years tryin' to figure out a way to come back, and then when the cracks started. I traveled, I don't even know 'ow many universes, I lost count after about, oh a 'undred fifty. Travelin' through the cracks, all on my own, tryin' to get to get to the right one. The things I've seen, that I've had to do to survive..." she trailed off for a moment, thinking about it.

She ran her fingers through her hair, and sat up straighter. "And I did all of that, I found the right universe, but when I finally got here- there, I kept missing the TARDIS. By minutes, by hours, by days a few times. There was one time where I was being pulled back to this universe against my will, just as the TARDIS started materializin' right in front of me."

He walked around her, and got down on his knees in front of her, taking her hand in his. She finally looked him in the eye, rejection and anger written all over her face.

He continued the end of the story, "You get through all of that, and then you're dropped off right back in this universe. Back on this damned beach. Right where you started. And then, 'cause I have an incredibly thick head, I practically tell you I'll be just fine without you, thanks for playing, here's a parting gift!" He said the last part like he was a game show announcer.

The corner of her mouth twitched upwards, and he considered that a win.

"Was that a smile?"

"No"

"Yes, it was, you smiled." He was deliberately replaying the moments after he regenerated before. "Look, Rose, I know what this must look like to you. I know we said we would never leave you behind, and that looks like what he just did. But he didn't, not really, because he left you with me. And I promise, I really am him."

It seemed that all of her emotions left her, save despondency. "Yeah?"

"Yes." He nodded emphatically.

"So how long until you leave me as well?" she whispered. And his heart stopped.

XxXxXxXx

She knew they were the same man. She had fallen in love with a Time Lord, and had been through a regeneration, well, technically two now, and she knew that the true Time Lord had nothing to do with the body, but with the memories and knowledge. The man in front of her had already proved that he had all of the memories and knowledge of his other self.

That's not what she was worried about, what she was worried about was the Doctor's propensity to push her away. She couldn't do it again, couldn't lose him again after giving him yet another chance. And she couldn't help but think that she was betraying the other one.

"Oh, Rose," he sighed and pushed a lock of hair behind her ear. He cupped her cheek in his hand and she couldn't help but lean into it and close her eyes. "I promise, I'll never leave you, at least, not by choice. He didn't want to, either, you need to know that."

She let herself see what he was feeling, and saw sadness, fear, a touch of anger, rejection, forgiveness, understanding, and hope. Lots of hope. How could he have hope? He had just been taken from all of his friends, his universe, and his lifelong companion and the last thing of his home planet, the TARDIS. In place of all of that, he had been dropped off in a universe that he knew very little about, with nothing but the clothes on his back.

She knew how that felt, and resolved right there and then to not be angry with him for the things his other self had done after they split off.

But that didn't mean that she had to just let it go, either. This him would have to prove himself.

Suddenly, the Doctor groaned and put his hands to his temples.

Chapter Text

Chapter 2: The Past

Suddenly, the Doctor cried out and held his hands to his temples.

"Doctor!" she gasped out, "what's goin' on?" She grabbed his shoulders in fear.

After only a couple of seconds, he took his hands off of his head and shook it. He looked off into the distance, where the depression was that marked the place where the TARDIS had stood only minutes before.

"She's gone," he whispered. "She's gone." He looked pale, like he was about to be sick, and it scared Rose.

"Doctor, are you okay?" she asked, worried. The way he cried out reminded her of the last time she saw the Doctor get a new body, and she was worried this version of him would have a neural implosion or something else similar would happen. Would this part human body even be able to survive something like that? Before, one of his hearts had quit working, and this time, he didn't have a backup.

He looked over at her. His face showing all the sorrow and pain he felt in that moment.

"Right now, no, I'm not," he admitted. The admission shocked her. The Doctor never admitted anything other than being alright. At least not since he had become the man with the great hair and the penchant for suits.

He took her hand again and smiled softly down at her. "But I will be," he finished.

"Is there anything I can do to help?" she asked him, still worried.

"Oh, Rose, just be your magnificent self. You're already helping me more than you could ever know." This time, his smile was genuine.

"What was that about? And will it happen again?" she interrogated him.

He stared out at the ocean for a while, apparently deep in thought. She knew this behavior, and gave him some time to answer her, if he was going to at all. She knew this was going to be a difficult subject, and, after the day they just had, she wasn't going to push too hard, not quite yet. Just when she started to be sure that he wasn't going to answer her, he spoke.

"Imagine living with something every single day of your life. Maybe your neighbors always play their music just a bit too loud in the flat next to you, or your house is right on the road and you hear the cars coming down the road almost constantly. It's always there, when you're sleeping, when you're up and about, even when you're making a lot of noise yourself. And then one day, the neighbors move somewhere else and are replaced with quieter ones, or you move to a quieter area. And suddenly, that noise isn't around anymore. Even though that noise had become white noise, something you never actually noticed when it was around, the world is now far too quiet. You can't sleep without that noise, you even have trouble thinking without it, it's become so ingrained into your life."

"I don't have to imagine," Rose said softly when he paused. "Had that happen the first time I was brought here."

The Doctor looked over at her, surprised. His expression quickly turned thoughtful. "Ah, you would, wouldn't you? Yeah, you would, the TARDIS's hum."

"Not just the hum, I missed the feelin' of her in my 'ead," Rose whispered.

"You could actually feel that?" he queried, with a bit of shock.

"Well, yeah, it was intermittent, like I'd feel emotions sometimes, like a pleased feeling that wasn't my own and it came with a slight change in the hum."

"The TARDIS always did really like you," he said. "Some humans have low level telepathic abilities," he explained. "You may have empathic abilities. It would explain some things."

"So that's what you're going through right now?" she asked. "That doesn't quite explain the level of pain I saw."

"No, you're right, it doesn't," he admitted. He took a deep breath and sat down beside her, once again looking anywhere but at her. He swallowed before he continued his explanation. "Okay, then, let's try this. Now imagine that this noise has been there, quite literally you're whole life, no matter where you are, except it's not actually a noise, it's an awareness, and all of a sudden, it's gone."

Rose gasped as she understood what he was and wasn't saying. He was talking about the end of the war and the loss of his people. He had told her before that he'd feel the presence of others if they existed.

"Anyway," he continued, "I always had the TARDIS to help, always there, in the back of my head, that little telepathic tingle. If she had been any other TARDIS, I would have probably gone completely mad." He gave a little laugh. "Don't say it," he ordered her, pointing a finger at her.

"Wouldn't dream of it," Rose answered back, a little cheekily. Feeling emboldened, she asked him, "Why do you say, if she had been any other TARDIS?"

He gave a crooked smile. "My impossible TARDIS. She was ancient when I...acquired her. Had been decommissioned. Navigation knackered, it was said, but really, she had aged enough to start overriding the restraints put on her." He shook his head and laughed ruefully. "You see, the Time Lords thought of the TT capsules as machines."

Rose scoffed at that, and the Doctor nodded at her. "Mine was a Type 40, and the first TARDIS that officially had 'full sentience' was the Type 102. Turns out, they had repressed them, because the first capsules were very willful. She had been used as a research vessel. The bare minimum of controls, mostly organic. Over time, I did major modifications, and freed her as much as I could. She took care of me, and I did my best to take care of her."

"And now, even she's gone," Rose whispered, saddened at the thought. She turned and hugged him in an effort to comfort him.

XxXxXxXx

He was thankful that Jackie had given them space to talk while he explained to Rose what had happened to him. Partially explain, anyway. He couldn't tell her what he had felt from Donna at the same time the link to the TARDIS broke. Not yet, anyway. He hoped that his other self wouldn't do something stupid now. The poor bastard.

He felt sorry for his past self, despite how much he hated him. And he did hate him. He was him, after all. He thought about those last moments on his beautiful ship before he had been abandoned here as they sat quietly, waiting for the car.

XxXx

On the TARDIS

He watched Rose watch his other self walk up the sloped walkway from the doors to the console. There were so many possibilities here, so much uncertainty, and he couldn't see one damned bit of it because Rose was deeply involved. He still couldn't see any of her mysterious time-line. Sure, when he had first met her, he had seen a glimmer, just for a moment, but then it disappeared completely before he could register any part of it.

"Just time for one last trip," his double? Twin? Counterpart? said. He gave him a significant look. At the same time, he heard his own voice, but not, tell him "take care of her, give her everything she could ever want."

Suddenly, he knew what his original self had planned. He was so thick to think anything else could have possibly been in his thoughts.

He was angry. How dare he make decisions like that without consulting her! Or him, for that matter. He had a sudden urge to slap the other man into his next body.

But mixed in with the anger was hope. He lost a heart, he lost his lives, he was losing his home and lives long companion, his friends, and even his entire universe, literally. All within the span of a few hours. However, he was gaining Rose. He was gaining a life with her, where he could love her without fear of the centuries after her death.

"Darlig Ulv Stranden, better known as Bad Wolf Bay."

The Doctor immediately left the console room while his other self set the TARDIS up for a jump between universes. With preparation beforehand, the TARDIS wouldn't die when they materialized in Pete's World.

He went to his room, thanking the TARDIS for putting the door to the room just off from the console room. He grabbed some things he'd need. Parts that would be difficult, if not impossible to obtain in a 21st century Earth, even if they traded extensively with other planets. He also grabbed a couple of the bags of gems that he had picked up over the centuries on planets and times where they were so common as to be worthless. He packed his bigger on the inside pockets with his blue suits. He left one for the other Doctor, and took one of the copies of the brown one in it's place.

He left the room that used to be his, and was greeted with the door to Rose's room. He took the hint and entered her room, where he took some photos, mostly those from Rose's childhood. He had taken them from their flat after Canary Wharf, sickened at the thought of people who weren't relatives having them. Jackie would love to have those. He also took some from their travels. Rose documented every trip, and he was sure she'd want some photos of his past self and of Jack. All of the pictures he took were right out in the open, and he knew they weren't before.

The entire quick grab had only taken 2 minutes, 45.3 seconds from the moment he had entered his room, and he was never gladder to have trans-dimensional engineering, an eidetic memory, and a sentient ship with the ability to see time-lines better than any Time Lord ever could.

As he walked out of Rose's room, he saw Donna on her way toward him.

"Is he ready to send me to my exile yet?" he asked her, more harshly than he intended. Luckily, she understood.

"Oh, Spaceman," she chided him as if he were being silly. "You'll have Rose, and you won't be stuck on Earth if you don't want to be."

"What are you going on about?" he asked her, confused.

"Take some coral, grown your own," she said, as if it were obvious.

"But it takes thousands of years to grow a TARDIS," the Doctor protested.

"Nope!" she exclaimed, popping the 'p' as he so often did. "If you shatterfry the plasmic shell and modify the dimensional stabilizer to a foldback harmonic of 36.3, you accelerate the growth by the power of 59!"

The Doctor thought for a second, and realized that she was right, but there was still one problem.

"Rose and I won't live that long," he argued. "We'd have to let the TARDIS die."

"That is what children are for, Dumbo," Donna lectured him sarcastically.

"That's being awfully presumptuous," he returned. "After what we're about to do, I wouldn't be surprised if she never wants to see me again." His singular heart raced in an attempt to leave his chest at the thought.

"She'll come around. You were made for each other," Donna assured him. "Just be yourself. She seems to like that for some reason." She looked him up and down. "I dunno why, you're just a skinny little streak of nothing with a complex."

"Thanks so much for that," he replied, dryly. "Way to help with the self loathing."

"I would have thought the planet sized ego would have taken care of that by now," she retorted.

"Oi!" he protested. The word came out like hers, a guttural sound/word that was indignant, sarcastic, and loud. He winced internally at the way he sounded now and probably always would.

That's when they noticed a coral outcropping that wasn't there before. On it, there laid a piece of coral that was separated from the ship.

"Well, that settles that," Donna smugly said. Suddenly, she came forward and hugged him. A hug which he immediately returned.

"Goodbye, Spaceman," she whispered.

"Goodbye, Earthgirl," he said back. "I will miss you so very, very much."

They separated and walked back to the console room, where the other Doctor was finishing up the preparations. Rose was talking to her mother while she watched the Doctor, and he couldn't help but wonder what would happen if he told her what was happening right then and there.

Donna helped, trading technical data with the other Doctor with ease.

"Blimey, I wish I could understand half of what you just said," Rose told her.

"Yeah, just what ol' skinny boy needs, a friend who's an equal. The universe has been waitin' for me!" Donna exclaimed enthusiastically.

He was glad that Donna had found her confidence.

Rose had been asking what they were talking about, taking an opportunity to learn something, so while the other two set the controls, he explained what they had talked about as best as he quickly could for her. When he finished, she gave him a smile that made his heart stutter for a moment.

The other Doctor watched them with a devastated look on his face that disappeared whenever one of the Tyler women looked like they might look his way.

"Okay, then, time to get you home," the Doctor in brown said as soon as the controls were set.

This was it. Goodbye to the life he had for so many centuries, more than he was sure of. Goodbye to the home he had known as long.

Hello to the unknown, to a life with Rose, hopefully. A life of day after day. He could have that life now after all.

The ride through the Void was bumpy. Once they settled, he went towards the door. As he passed his other self, the man put something in his pocket.

XxXxXxXx

When the Doctor and Rose got quiet, Jackie went over to them and sat down on the next rock over on the other side of Rose. She wasn't going to let them have too much time to be silent and think too much before they got in the car.

She began educating him on the differences between this universe and their original universe. There was so much to learn, but the Doctor was a smart man, usually, and he'd probably pick up on it a lot faster than she and Rose did.

After a few minutes, Rose started adding in various bits of information. They spent the rest of the time until the car that had been sent for them arrived, a bit late. As time went on, she noticed that the Doctor and her daughter had begun to hold hands again. They had also scooted closer to one another. Neither of them seemed to even realize that they did it.

"Oh, I'm glad the car is here!" the Doctor exclaimed when it arrived. "It isn't half cold out here!"

That's when she realized that they had both been shivering slightly for a while. It was no wonder, the Doctor only had his suit, and Rose had her blue jacket, but it was short and only provided so much protection. She thought with some amusement about how they both matched right then, blue jacket, and purplish shirts.

They both stood up at the same time and stretched.

"Well, then," Rose started.

"Allons-y," both said at the same time.

They both looked at each other and broke out in identical grins.

"Hey!" the Doctor exclaimed, delighted.

"So that did stick, then? I always wondered," she said with her trademark grin.

"And you've adopted it!" the Doctor laughed.

"I think I just got a toothache," Jackie grimaced.

"Oh, Jackie, are you okay?" the Doctor asked her, concern written all over his features. "Maybe you should get that checked out. But it could just be a sensitivity to the biting cold."

The clueless plum. He was sweet, though.

"I'm fine," she told him. "That was a comment on how the two of you are so sweet, it hurts."

She immediately wished that she hadn't made that declaration. Rose's face immediately dropped and she turned around and headed for the car. The Doctor shot Jackie a helpless look. And followed her. With a sigh, Jackie Tyler followed her daughter and the Doctor to the car.

Chapter Text

He didn't want to admit it, but he was exhausted. He had no clue why, he hadn't done anything. Sitting in a warm car after the biting cold and wind of Norway's oddest named beach wasn't helping either.

The driver that picked them up was a young man that couldn't have been any older than 20. He was baby-faced and looked like he never even needed to shave. He had greeted Jackie warmly when the three of them got into the car, and Jackie seemed to know the young man. She sat next to him as they discussed the latest episode of one of her soaps. He didn't recognize anything of it, so it probably was something that belonged to this universe only.

He had a guilty pleasure in Eastenders because of the woman. Not that he'd ever admit it, especially to Jackie Tyler. Rose had caught him catching up on episodes once, which he played off as needing to know what her mother harped on about all the time.

Rose sat behind the driver, her head down and her hands in her lap. She picked at her fingernails, one of her many habits she always had when she was nervous.

"Do they have Eastenders here?" he whispered to her, leaning closer.

She looked up at him sharply. Then a small smirk graced her face. She glanced at her mother to make sure she wasn't paying attention, leaned in, and whispered back, "I knew it!"

"Knew what?" he tried to play innocent

"You do like Mum's favorite show!" she accused.

"Rose Tyler, I don't know what you're talking about," he sniffed.

"Don't lie to me, Time Lord. I've caught you catchin' up with it before." Her tone sounded angry, but from the way the corners of her mouth turned up and her eyes sparkled, he knew she was amused.

"The accusation that I'd ever be interested in one of your mother's soaps..." he scoffed.

"Okay then," she said as she leaned back. "Sorry 'bout that."

Good, he thought. There was that uncomfortable truth averted.

Rose then leaned back in as far as she could. "'Cause there's no Eastenders in this universe," she added smugly.

"What?!"

XxXxXxXx

Jackie talked with their driver, Charlie, who's husband had gotten a part in her new favorite soap. The two of them were discussing plot lines when she became aware of the Doctor and Rose whispering in the back seat. She tried to let them have their discussion in peace, but couldn't help but try to catch some of it. Their voices were too low to catch most of it, but she did hear her daughter apologize to the Doctor. Now she desperately wanted to know what they were talking about.

"What?!" the Doctor squeaked, and Rose howled with laughter.

Jackie turned back to look at the two of them. The Doctor was sputtering and Rose was shaking with laughter.

Yeah, those two idiots would be alright.

"You two mind keeping it down back there?" she said, as if she was bothered.

XxXxXxXx

The Doctor and Rose were silent after her mother chastised them. Rose mostly looked out the window, and the Doctor mostly looked at Rose. He tried not to look like he was, though.

"So, did you enjoy your trip to Norway, Mrs Tyler?" their driver asked.

"Yes, I did, but it would 'ave been much better if our car hadn't broken down," Jackie replied.

"I hope it doesn't stay there too long," the young man said.

"Oh, it won't, there was already a wrecker on the way when we left," she assured him.

"I could have driven to the car, ma'am," he told her.

"Nah," Jackie said, "it was 20 miles further. We took Rose's gizmo to the beach."

So, they had a cover story for why they were in Norway and needed to be picked up already? An elaborate cover story too, for such a small thing. And Jackie delivered it flawlessly. She'd had plenty of practice at this.

Had he just gotten his first taste of what life would be like here?

And what was Rose's gizmo? He'd have to ask later, when they were alone.

Rose slipped the upper part of her seat belt off her shoulder and leaned over on the seat, putting her head on the seat next to him. During her travels with him, she had learned to have a kip just about anywhere. The seat of a car would be comfortable compared to some of the places he had seen her take catnaps.

It had only been 16 minutes, 32.1 seconds since they had gotten into the car, they still had a minimum of half an hour left to go until they were in Bergen. And all he had to talk to was Jackie Tyler and the driver, who's name he hadn't managed to catch yet.

He didn't know what to do, he wanted to stay mostly quiet so Rose could get the nap she obviously needed, but he couldn't pull out one of his devices in front of the driver, who obviously knew nothing about the situation. It might raise too many awkward questions.

He settled for a combination of looking out the window and watching the scenery pass him by, and watching Rose sleep. Damn, why was he so tired?

XxXxXxXx

When they finally pulled up to the hotel that they were going to be staying at, the Doctor was happy for the change of pace.

"Hey there, Sleepyhead, wakey wakey," he shook Rose to wake her. She roused slowly, sat up, and looked around, trying to get her bearings.

"We're here, then," she stated once she realized where they were. "Thanks for the ride," she said to the driver, then got out of the car and closed the door. When she was out of the car, she stretched and waited for the other two to get out.

He thanked the driver too, and exited the car, glad to be out of it. The backseat wasn't exactly made for a person of his height.

They entered the hotel, where Jackie checked them in. They followed her up to the hallway where they were staying for the night. Once to their rooms, she handed the Doctor a key, then disappeared into her room, telling the other two to catch up.

Rose was nervous, and tried to hide it. So was the Doctor. This was going to be the first time that they were properly alone together since, well, since before ghosts that weren't ghosts. The Doctor opened the door, and Rose followed him into the room.

Once inside, he leaned back against the door, closed his eyes, and drew in a deep breath.

"You all right, there?" Rose asked, worried.

He opened his eyes and smiled at her. "Yeah, I'm alright," he said. "Just a little...overwhelmed?"

She looked sympathetic. "Yeah, I bet you are." She picked up the room service menu, looked it over quickly, and handed it to him. "Here, choose something, and we'll talk."

He quickly picked a Norwegian dish, and Rose ordered for them. While they waited for the food, Rose told him about their cover stories for herself and Jackie.

Before she could go any further, their food arrived. He had kjøttboller, which was surprisingly good. He'd just pointed at something pretty much at random when she handed him the menu.

Rose had ordered wine with their food, and it made him pleasantly warm.

While they ate, they talked about mundane things. When their meal was finished, they sat back and watched a few shows on the telly, shouting at it every once in a while when a character was being particularly thick.

"He's alone, now, ain't 'e?" Rose eventually said.

"What makes you say that?" he asked her, surprised. His words slurred a bit.

"She was 'uman," Rose stated simply. "If your brain's as big as you say, it mighta been too much for her."

He took her glass, put both of them down on the bed stand, and turned his full attention towards her. "Yes, he is, but he won't be for long. He'll find someone to show off to soon enough."

"I wish I could have split myself off in two as well," Rose sniffed. "Then everyone could be happy."

"Oh, Rose, he'll be okay, he'll be better off this time than I was last time we were on that beach. Last time, all he had was that knowledge that you were alive, this time, he knows you aren't alone, and that a part of him gets to have a proper chance at forever," he reassured her.

"Yeah?"

"Yes." He hugged her then, her head tucked under his chin. "I love you, Rose Tyler, all versions of me who know you love you, and always will."

She pulled back and stared into his eyes, searching for something. Then she crashed her lips to his. He kissed her back enthusiastically.

When she climbed up on him, he ignored the warning bells at the back of his mind. They shouldn't do this yet.

He continued ignoring his conscience as he lifted her shirt up and unhooked her bra.

As he flipped them over so that he was on top, he ignored the warning that this was going to go pear shaped.

His last thought before he cupped her bottom and slid inside of her was that his conscience could go straight to hell. After that, he couldn't think straight.

XxXxXxXx

He woke up from his intense dream. They were still in the car on their way to Bergen, and it had been 49 minutes, 39 seconds since he had gotten in the car. He looked over at Rose, who was asleep, curled up on the seat, her jacket and shirt had ridden up so that he could see a thin strip of her skin at her waist. He also got a nice view of that frankly fantastic arse he had been dreaming about a moment ago.

Nothing was certain yet, but she was warming up to him already, just a bit, and if he wasn't too thick from here on out, they'd be okay, he thought.

Once again, he had a wave of sorrow for his other self, who would surely never know just how good it was to properly be with her, because it would be good, it'd be more than good, it'd be absolutely brilliant.

Really, he should have taken her when he felt the storm coming. No, earlier. After the Coronation, he should have pushed her up against the console and lifted up all those petticoats. He should have made her properly exhausted on Krop Tor that night they spent there, instead of just holding her and watching her sleep. He should have pushed up that little denim number after the werewolf. Taken her on the applegrass. He wanted to do something when she was in that little black number after Pete's World Part One, but she was too distraught after Mickey chose to leave her for another universe.

To be honest, from the pheromones she gave off, he probably could have bent her over the console and sought his absolution in her thighs just after meeting Charles Dickens, but he was too much of a coward. What was he thinking with his "for a human" comment? Even back then, he could sense her insecurities, which he hadn't done nearly enough about. Definitely anytime after meeting the Slitheen, when he had just come right out and told her that he was willing to put her above the rest of the planet, even though he had only known her a few days.

He felt that he was stiff as a board, and tore his eyes away from the woman who had consumed his thoughts. With a glance at her, frankly terrifying, mother to make sure she hadn't noticed, he shifted around and lifted up his knees so that she couldn't see anything and tried to will himself calmer, only to find out that he didn't have any ability to control his blood flow like he used to. Come to think of it, he didn't used to get like that in the first place.

Oh, for Rassilon's sake, when the hell did he become such an animal?

He'd had so many regrets when he was still a real Time Lord. There would be no more regrets, not where that was concerned anyway. He'd tell her that he loved her every damned day, every damned hour if she needed to hear it.

Rose shifted, and her purple top lifted up, showing two words, or rather, the bottom half of two words that were very familiar to him. Sometime while she had been stuck here, she had gotten a tattoo on her side. It was blue, and looked like graffiti, which it often was when he saw those words. Why had Rose tattooed "Bad Wolf" on her side?

"Oh, you're up!" Jackie Tyler noticed. She promptly began telling him more about the recent history of Pete's World, well their world now, he supposed. He listened to her voice, knowing that this information was unimportant in the grand scheme of things, but very important if he wanted to appear that he was from this world. He didn't, but for the next five years, for sure, maybe longer, he had to be.

She kept up her commentary, making it seem like they were just discussing normal, everyday things until they arrived in Bergen. He had to hand it to her, she had managed to give him a lot of information in a very short time and never let on to the man who drove them, whose name he still hadn't caught, that he wasn't quite human, or that he was from another world.

He went to wake Rose before they pulled up to the hotel, but Jackie stopped him.

"Not like that," she said.

"Why not?" he asked, confused.

"She's scary when she wakes up," Jackie replied.

"Okay, then. How do you want to wake her?" He asked. What was Jackie talking about? Rose was always resistant to waking up, but there was nothing scary about it. More questions for later.

"Cover your ears, dear," she said to their driver when the car stopped. The man immediately complied.

"Rose!" she shouted, and the Doctor jumped, wishing he had covered his ears as well. At least he now knew that he still had his Time Lord hearing.

Rose opened her eyes and sat up quickly. She looked alert and ready for anything, except for the fact that he could see confusion in her eyes that quickly cleared. Okay, what was so scary about that?

She looked around and noticed that they were at the hotel. "Oh, we're here, brilliant. Thanks for the lift, Charlie," she said warmly.

"No problem, Agent Tyler," the young man, Charlie, apparently, replied.

"Give my love to Steve, and congratulations," she added.

"Will do, ma'am, and thanks!"

She got out of the car.

The Doctor thanked the man and followed her to the sidewalk, where they waited on her mother.

His innate time senses told him that he had been in the car for 53 minutes, 10 seconds.

"Alright, so the zeppelin will arrive 'ere at 10:30 in the morning, and we'll leave the hotel at the same time," Rose's mother informed them.

"Okay, then," Rose acknowledged. She took off her watch and reset it based on a digital clock across the road.

"We'd better get checked in, I guess," Jackie said "Your father's already got us rooms booked." She started up the stairs and added. "Oh, would you look at that, a doorman, you don't see many of those these days." She began babbling as she moved farther away from them.

The Doctor just followed the nattering woman, silently.

Chapter Text

Rose followed her mother and the Doctor into the hotel. She was on autopilot, trying to not think about everything that happened, which was a fruitless pursuit.

She stood silently near the Doctor while her mother checked them into the hotel. She handed a key card to the Doctor, and kept the other one. Rose wasn't handed a card. It was silently implied that she could choose which person she would be staying with that night.

Part of her-a rather large part if she was being honest with herself- wanted to strangle her mother for this choice. It wasn't like they had to worry about the money. Now she was being forced into something she wasn't quite ready for yet. If her mother had gotten three rooms, she'd have been able to just go to her own room without any guilt.

Knowing her mum, though, she was probably just being practical. With the exception of Christmas and the fact that she was required by her husband's position in the world to host parties, her mum hadn't changed, really. Why get a third room when two would be just fine? She supposed she should feel lucky that it wasn't just one room.

They rode up the lift in silence. When the doors slid open, they were greeted with a standard hotel hallway, mostly in boring beige. Their rooms were right across the hall from one another: 808 and 809.

"Well," the Doctor started, "I guess this is us," he stated with a glance between the white paper envelope his key card was in and the number on the door.

"I'll be back out in a bit for a bite," Jackie told the Doctor before she put her key card in the door of 809 and pushed it open. She quickly disappeared into the room, leaving Rose alone in the hallway with the Doctor. The Doctor put the key card in the slot and entered the room. She made her choice quickly before she could think about it too much, and walked into the room behind the Doctor.

Once inside, she closed the door behind her. The Doctor turned around quickly at the sound with a surprised look on his face that quickly disappeared. She was nervous as hell. It wasn't like she hadn't slept in the same bed with him before, but it was always a jail cell situation, or they were posing as a couple and couldn't very well ask for different rooms. Except for that one night after they went to the coronation. That's when he held her, in her own bed, without any pretense. The sound of his hearts beating had lulled her to one of the most restful nights she'd ever had.

"D'you mind if I...?" she asked, without knowing what she meant to ask.

"Yes! Um...no? Um...sure go right ahead," the Doctor stumbled over his word choices. Rose went in deeper into the room and sat in one of the chairs that all hotels seemed to have, regardless of the time, place, universe, or quality. She chewed her thumb while she thought about what had just happened.

XxXxXxXx

He shifted for a moment, trying to decide whether to sit in the chair close to her or on the bed that seemed to take up the whole room, even though it was a spacious room. Rose chewed on her thumb, a tic that she had always had as long as he knew her. He decided that the chair was the better bet, and sat down in it, watching her.

He didn't know what to say or do, so he sat there, with his hands on the table and watched her. She wouldn't meet his eyes, just stared off into nothingness.

Suddenly, she stopped chewing her thumb and smacked the table hard. The suddenness of the gesture made him jump. "Goddammit!" she growled as soon as her hand hit the table. She jumped up and paced back and forth. "No warnin', no goodbye, no 'thank you', no 'fuck you.' Jus' drop us off in the middle of fuckin' nowhere, fif'y miles from anythin'. Over two thousand miles by car an' ferry, an' seven hundred and fif'y or so miles by slow arse air ship from where we'll wind up!," she ranted.

"Rose-" he started, but was cut off.

"No discussion!" she nearly shouted, ignoring him. "'Ow 'ard would it 'a' been ta say, 'Rose, I have this idea.'" she mocked. "No, it's always just, 'ere's wha's gonna 'appen,' and you'll 'ave no choice but ta go wit' it.'"

Even though she was also talking about him, he couldn't help but agree with her. She was angry, she was really, properly angry, and she had every right to be. He realized that she had been keeping a mask carefully in place the entire time she had been in the presence of other people. The yellowish light in the room glinted off her eyes, and it looked like they were glowing intermittently.

"I worked years- years I don' even know 'ow many!" she continued her rant, "to escape this place. This stupid rock where nothing tastes right, an' the air smells wrong, and every bloody thing feels wrong!" She threw her hands up and ran them through her hair, then spun around and faced him. "I spent so long," Rose cried out "worried 'bout you, all on your own. I spent so bloody long tryin' to convince myself tha' you'd be okay, you'd find a hand to 'old as you musta before." Her voice broke as she continued, "an' then, when I finally found you… you…"

She growled and kicked the bedpost, then cried out and bent over, hands on the foot board of the bed. She gripped it tightly enough that her fingers turned white. Now he was worried. He'd seen her angry before. She burned with righteous indignation when it came to slavery, misogyny, and other words that end in a 'y', but he'd never seen her this angry before. He got up and went over to her in an effort to calm her.

Then she rounded on him and truly let loose.

"Why?" she cried out. "How could you!" She poked him in the chest. "You. Were. Dead!" Each word was punctuated by another poke.

"I was what?" he questioned in shock.

She took his jacket by the lapels just as she had on the beach and pulled him eye level with her.

"You were dead," she hissed at him. "In a time line where Donna chose to be hired by a small firm rather than be a temp, You died at the First. Bleedin'. Chance. To. Off. Yourself!" The last words had been punctuated by a little shake. She then shoved him back a little.

"Rose, I didn't-"

"You told me that Time Lords didn't split off with the universes like everyone else, remember?" she accused. "Which means that you did it. I 'ad to rewrite years of time ta make sure that Donna always chose to go left so you would live! Your welcome, by the way! I sent ya a message I don' even know if you could 'ave got."

"Bad Wolf," he stated, to let her know that he had received it. His blood ran cold. That was proof that he had done it. Not that he doubted Rose, but it was proof that Donna's universe had become another time line to their prime universe-a must not be. Rose had somehow turned Donna's choice into a fixed point, which was no mean feat, even for a Time Lord.

XxXxXxXx

Rose stared at him, still angry. The exertion from her raging had made her warm, and she remembered that she was still wearing her jacket. Before she could decide if she wanted to take it off or leave the room, he spoke.

"When I heard that, I couldn't get back to Earth quickly enough," he told her softly.

"Why?" she asked suddenly.

"Why not?" he said, as though she'd lost her mind, "I l-"

"No, no, why did I have to see your body. Why did I have to rewrite time? Why did I have to watch the world fall apart?" She fired questions at him, not allowing him to say it again..

He sighed, put his hands in his pockets, and closed his eyes. When he opened them a second later, he asked, "how did I...?"

"Drowning. The Thames was drained," she told him in a clipped tone.

"Okay, um, right." One hand came out, and he started scratching at his neck.

"Why?" she repeated.

He came back over to her, and put his hands on her shoulders. "That was hours after...I had just said goodbye to you, and there I was..." he got quiet and got a dark look on his face.

Before she could process what he was saying, his stomach let out a loud grumble. In one of his usual mental whiplash inducing changes of mood, he looked down at it like it was a traitor.

"Oh, come on! A flippin' stomach grumble? How rubbish is that? Like I'm human!" he exclaimed with a disgusted look on his face.

It was so funny, that she couldn't help but laugh a bit.

"Oi! Why're ya laughing at me? This ain't funny!" He said indignantly, which only made her laughter worse. He'd picked up a bit of Donna's speech patterns in this regeneration, just like he had picked up a few of hers in his last body. He crossed his arms and gave her his best stern look.

"I hate to break it to ya," she reminded him, "but you are part 'uman now."

He had the same look on his face that he'd had just after her mother had kissed him. "Don't I know it," he pouted.

"Gimme a minute," she said, then ducked into the loo, where she checked her appearance. She fixed herself up to look presentable, then left the room and took the Doctor's arm.

"Come on, let's grab a bite," she told him.

They left the room and went to the lift. "Before we get out, I need to tell you that the people of this world tend towards xenophobia." They both knew how to handle themselves in a place that was xenophobic.

"Great," he said sarcastically. "Thanks, for the heads up," he added, softer.

"Always," she replied as the lift stopped.

The pair went to the nearest restaurant, where they found her mother working through her dinner.

"Oh, there the pair of ya are!" she exclaimed when she saw them. "I was wonderin' what you'd gotten up to."

XxXxXxXx

After a quick meal, where the Doctor had been wheedled by Jackie into telling them a story of something that happened with each of the girls she had met on the TARDIS, they went back outside.

"So, there's a museum where they take the last of every species and preserve them, huh?" Rose commented quietly.

"Yep," he replied, popping the 'p'.

"And the Ood are free," she happily added. "I wondered about them!"

"You knew?" he asked in shock.

"Well, yeah, I told off a couple of the people, asked an Ood if it liked bein' ordered about, and got accused of being a 'friend of the Ood.' Was fine with the accusation, but still."

He felt a warmth at hearing that, Rose hadn't forgotten to ask about them. "I never asked," he admitted.

"We had a lot on our minds at the time," Rose reasoned.

"It's no excuse," he despaired.

"Come on." She took his hand and pulled him along with her, but it wasn't to the hotel they were staying at. They went two blocks down and turned left, then another block and a half before they came to a small, high end grocer, where she went inside.

"How did you know where to go?" he asked. The Doctor was confused as to why they were there. They had just eaten.

"Went on a bit of a wander last time I was here-"

"Of course you did," the Doctor interrupted.

"If I didn't wander off so much, who'd have rescued your arse all those times? Or found out all those things?" she teased. "And interruptin's rude," she added with a mock glare.

"That's me," he brightly said, "Rude, and still not ginger."

Rose took off down an aisle, and when he caught up to her, she held a bottle in her hands.

"Whaddaya think?" she asked him.

"About what?" he questioned, confused.

"We've 'ad one helluva day," she complained.

She crashed her lips to his. He responded immediately this time. Tasting her, touching her. She tasted of the wine they had drank, of stardust and hints of Time. Her skin was silky and soft. He groaned when she pushed him back against the headboard and crawled on top of him, never pulling her lips from his.

Memories of his dream came back to him, and he argued with himself for a moment before telling her, "It's very hard to get a Time Lord drunk, Rose."

"Is that a challenge?" she asked, her tongue peeked out from her smile, something he hadn't seen in oh, so very long, and hadn't expected to see again for some time. What had he done? Rose wouldn't back down from a challenge without a good reason. He'd been trying to be good.

"I'm sorry, M'lady, but I regret to inform you, that I do not carry the coin of this realm," the Doctor said in a serious voice.

Rose snorted. "Are you sayin' I 'ave to pay again?"

"Yep!" he replied, happily, popping the 'P.'

Rose grabbed a second bottle and walked back to the front of the store.

XxXxXxXx

Challenge accepted, Rose thought when the Doctor told her that it was hard to get a Time Lord drunk. She had drank with the Doctor before. Most of that was during the first year that they were together, back when he had those ice blue eyes you could fall into forever.

After a quick stop back at the room, to pick up the plastic cups she saw in there before, she led him to the roof of the hotel. It was another place she had found while wandering so long ago. There were tables and chairs up there. The area was maintained as a place where people could spend the evenings. The hotel was on the hills overlooking Bergen, and you could see the port, ocean, and more hills from their position. This time of year, it wouldn't be long before the furniture was taken down for the winter, but it was there now.

Another couple sat down on the other end, too far away and upwind of the Doctor and Rose to hear what they were talking about, so she felt free to discuss whatever she felt like talking about.

"I found this spot last time I was here," she told the uncharacteristically quiet part human next to her as she poured the two of them a bit of the wine. "On my wander, I found myself in the same grocer we were just in and 'ad picked up a bottle, then came back to the hotel to get properly drunk. 'Appened to notice a stairway marked 'roof' and came up here. Everyone had been lookin' for me. It was deserted up 'ere, an' I lost track of time."

She drank the finger's worth of port she had poured, sat back in the chair, and looked him in the eye. "Turned out that they thought I was gonna do sumpthin' stupid, which shocked me, as I had never, not once, thought about anythin' like that," she told him, pointedly.

He stared back at her, his eyes wide. He swallowed heavily, tore his eyes from hers, and downed his drink. As soon as he put his glass down, she poured for both of them again.

"Literally seconds after the last time I saw you," he started hesitantly, "Donna was standing right there in the TARDIS. She screamed at me, accused me of kidnapping her, and found...something of yours and accused me of kidnapping you." He sniffed and sat there for a moment, taking in the scenery.

"How'd she get in the TARDIS?" Rose asked.

"It was her wedding day, but her fiancee had been poisoning her with manufactured huon particles..." He told her the story of his day with Donna. How she slapped him several times, which caused Rose to laugh, how everything reminded him of her that day, and how the day ended.

The sun had already disappeared over the horizon. Most of the sky was a deep blue color that trailed off into pale blue, with the rest of the color spectrum in a narrow band near the horizon. The street lights had come on around the same time they got to the roof, and the effect was beautiful. The streets were lined with shades of gold, while the rest of the world was in shades of blue and black. Only the brightest stars were visible in the sky.

"So now you know why," he finished and downed his second drink.

She reached over, and grabbed the hand that still held the glass. She didn't say anything. She didn't need to. He locked his fingers with hers as he always had, and she rubbed small circles on the back of his thumb.

"So what about you?"he asked.

"What kept me going before was the fact that I 'ad my family, and a slight 'ope that you'd come for me. I say slight, 'cause a big part of me was sure that you'd not even try, since me mum an' Mickey were here."

"Rose, I-"

"Don't. Just don't, Doctor," she interrupted him tiredly, pulling her hand out of his. "I know that you were tryin' to save me, and that you were tryin' to make sure I knew what I was doin'. But when it came down to it, you made a huge, life changing decision for me, without my input. Sound familiar?"

He nodded, looked down, and whispered, "Yeah, yeah it does." He sat back in his chair and leaned his head against the back of the chair with his eyes closed for a moment. "What about after the beach?"

"I continued my work," she simply stated.

"Which was?" he queried. He turned his eyes back to her.

"Finding my way back home," she told him. "I'll give ya all the specifics another time. This," she emphasized 'this' with a finger pressed to the table, "discussion 'snot good for tech babble."

"Fair enough," he replied with a head nod. They both took a sip.

Suddenly, the woman on the other side of the roof exclaimed and stood up. "They're back! Jacob, the stars are back!"

Everyone stood up and turned their eyes to the sky, and sure enough, the stars were coming out in force, more than she had seen in a long time. Less than what they would see, had there not been the light pollution from the city below, but enough that she knew, without a doubt that they had started showing again.

The woman then dragged her husband or boyfriend back inside the building, going on about calling someone to tell them.

When they were alone, Rose looked over at the Doctor, and found him watching her.

"We saved the multiverse today," he said with a soft smile.

"I didn't 'ave much ta do wit' it," she denied.

"What're you talking about?" he asked incredulously. "You were instrumental in it."

"I stood there," she told him. "I stood there and let a psychotic troll in a wheelchair wreak mental havoc on him."

"Whatever Davros said to him, I guarantee it was less than what I'm always thinking myself and he just brought it to the top for the moment," he tried to assure her.

"Ta, that helps a lot," she muttered sarcastically. She took another drink, then walked over to the railing and gripped it. She turned her face to the sky. There were three zeppelins overhead. The slow, low flying airships marred the beauty of the starry sky that had begun to be crossed with the ribbons of the Aurora Borealis. Over this part of the world, the Northern Lights would show up green more than any other color.

When he stepped up behind her and wrapped his arms around her waist, she leaned in to his warmth automatically.

XxXxXxXx

As the Doctor held Rose, he looked at the sky. The sky that he may never fly into, depending on a great many things. He wouldn't tell Rose, not yet. He wouldn't get her hopes up for nothing.

"Does he really think that about himself?" she wondered.

"I'm the same man, Rose, and I don't want to lie to you, so-"

"No, you're not, not anymore," she cut him off.

What? He thought she was accepting the metacrisis! If she didn't really think he was the same-

"Not anymore than you are still the you wit' the ears an' the ice blue eyes," she clarified, ending his sudden, half panicked thoughts.

"Okay, then, I'm a new man," he agreed. Technically, he was after all.

"One so dangerous that the Doctor 'imself can't even 'andle ya," Rose angrily said, "But a human girl is supposed to be able to? What the 'ell am I supposed to do wit' that?" She suddenly spun around. "Frankly, I think that's a whole lot of shit."

"Well," he admitted, "I did just commit genocide, again, without a second thought." The fact that he blew up so many was a source of disgust, but he didn't hold any guilt over it this time, and that fact scared him.

"I think that reason's a load of shit," she told him bluntly. "Pot, meet Kettle. I'd've done the same thing. I have done the same thing," she reminded him. "It had to be done. I mean, wha' was 'e gonna do, eh? Let 'em go free ta do it all again? Have bloody tea wit' 'em?" She pointed a finger into his chest. "An' don't ya go feelin' guilty over that.

"I don't feel guilty," he admitted. "I should, but I don't."

"And that means that you have to be exiled from the only family you have, your home for centuries, and your entire universe?" she asked incredulously. Her eyes got wide and she took a step back, to where she was against the railing. "Or did you choose this?" she accused.

"No," he said quickly, then inwardly winced at how quickly he said it. He didn't want to sound like he didn't want to be there. Well, he didn't, but he didn't want it to sound like he didn't want to be with her.

"Did you even get a say in the matter?" she angrily asked.

"No," he told her, happy that she was angry on his behalf. He didn't dare to show it, though. "I didn't, but don't think that I wouldn't want to stay with you if I was given a choice. Could've done without the different universe, though. Those zeppelins are ugly." With those words, the look on her face softened, and she appeared to be almost amused.

He walked over to the table and poured the two of them another drink. He was feeling pleasantly warm from the drink. The port wine seemed to be allowing them both to talk without the anger overtaking everything, or the usual deflections.

Her features shifted again, back to suspicion.

"Did you know...before?" she asked, simply. He didn't need anymore words to know what she was asking. Did he know that the Other was going to betray their promise? Did he know that the Other was going to abandon them before they stepped out of the TARDIS?

"Yes," he told her honestly. Instantly, he saw the betrayal in her eyes and hastily clarified. "I found out when I left the console room. It's why I left the console room, actually." He put his hands in his pockets and leaned back against the railing. "So I could grab a few things."

She nodded. "Did you ever think to protest his decision?" she asked him, peeking at him out of the corner of her eye.

"Ah," he rubbed his neck, ashamed. He'd never thought of that.

She turned toward him and crossed her arms. "Did you even think about giving me a heads up so I could protest myself?"

"And that would be part two of the previous 'ah.'" He had thought of telling her himself, but not so she could protest. He had wanted to explain things to her, then had quickly decided to wait for a time when they had more time. Clearly, that had been the wrong choice, or at least Rose thought so now. "Look, Rose, You've got a good life here. You've got your Mum, your Dad, a brother. You don't have to worry about money anymore. Everything you've ever wanted. And, you're not in danger all the time. You deserve a good life."

"I like runnin'," she told him, then added, "an' when 'ave I ever said this life was what I wanted?"

"Um, November 7, 1987?" he replied. The day she saved her real dad. The day she caused a paradox and almost destroyed the world. A dark look passed over Rose's face at the mention of that day.

"That," she started, "that's not...It coulda been anyone there, and I woulda still tried to save 'em. I just...I didn't want 'im to die alone." She took a deep breath.

"I know, I'm sorry to have even brought that up. But isn't it good? Having all of this, your family together, a sibling? And I'm here now, consider it a gift of the universe."

"Yeah, yeah, I suppose it is," she admitted. "Mum's not alone anymore, they have Tony to dote on." She smiled and shook her head. "You know, I begged and begged my Mum for a brother when I was five. Most of the other kids my age had a little sibling, or their Mum's were pregnant and I felt left out of the excitement."

"What have you got, now?" she asked. "You've lost everything."

"You," he told her, then thought that was a bit presumptuous. "Wellll, I hope I've got you. If I haven't been too much of an idiot. You've got me, just so's we're clear. Unless you don't-"

She suddenly hugged him, silencing him. "Yeah, you got me," she whispered.

He immediately hugged her back, happy at her declaration. The two of them stood there for a moment, holding each other, her head at his chest, and his chin on the top of her head. He was grinning like a loon and didn't care who saw.

A moment later, he asked, "Rose Tyler, what're we doin' on this roof? It's freezing!"

XxXxXxXx

"You're not, ya know," Rose told the Doctor as they stepped through the door to their room. He carried the wine and she carried the cups, both of which still had the last drink in them.

"Not what?" he asked.

"A gift," she replied. The instant hurt that marred his features broke her heart. She quickly continued her explanation, "You an' Donna both said it. Callin' yourself a gift implies tha' you're somehow less, that you're not your own person, or that you don't deserve to make your own decisions."

She closed the door and walked over to the little table where they had sat before, putting the cups down next to the bottles that the Doctor had already placed there. She shook off her blue jacket and draped it over the back of one of the chairs. She turned around and saw him watching her

"Thank you," he said, then cleared his throat.

He stepped closer and cupped her cheek in his right hand, then tentatively bent down, giving her the softest kiss she'd ever had. It was a rather chaste kiss, not much more than a peck. When it was over, he settled his forehead against hers.

Neither of them ever really knew who made the next move first. Suddenly, their lips crashed together. Their noses bumped and their teeth clacked together. Their passionate kiss was perfect in its imperfection.

One of her hands had made it to the back of his neck, and was on the move into his really great hair. The other one was on his chest and moving lower. The hand that was on her cheek moved into her hair. His other hand wrapped around her waist, pulling her closer.

Just before she was pulled flush with him, a knock sounded on the door, making the two break apart.

"Rose, it's me," her mother's voice came from the other side of the door, as if anyone else would have been knocking at that time of night.

Rose hid her face in the Doctor's chest and groaned, which caused the Doctor to chuckle. He rubbed the top of her back for a moment, then stepped back and sat down.

"You'd better go," he told her in a low voice, "I can't answer the door like this." He looked a bit fidgety and uncomfortable.

"Can't answer the-oh," she blushed and he grinned.

She picked up her cup and downed the contents, then stepped to the door when the knock sounded again.

"Yes, Mum?" she asked when she opened the door.

"I jus' got off the phone with Pete, an' he told me that the zeppelin won't be able to leave 'ere 'til about noon, 'cause of a storm. Rose Marion Tyler, 'ave you been drinkin'?" she said all in one breath.

"Yes, Mum, I have. Grown woman 'ere. Not doin' any drivin'," she told her mother. "Thanks for the heads up on the zep," she added.

"Where'd ya get liquor?" she queried.

"Walked to the shop an' picked it up," she answered. "Want some?" She turned back and asked the Doctor, "you don't mind, do ya?"

"Wine not?" he replied, then grinned. He got up and brought the bottle they had opened over to the door. "We've had enough anyway. Drink up Jackie."

"You two alright?" she asked, looking back and forth between the two of them.

"Yeah, we're good," Rose replied quickly.

"Yep," the Doctor said at the same time, popping the 'p'.

"Well, then, I can tell when 'm intrudin'. I'll just say goodnight now." She stepped back with a smile and went back into her room.

Rose closed the door and leaned against it with her eyes closed, her mind swirling with a million thoughts. When she opened her eyes, she found the subject of a large number of her thoughts sitting back in his chair. The Doctor was watching her seriously.

"Probably a good thing that just happened," he told her seriously. He picked up the cup he had been drinking, looked into it, then apparently decided that he didn't want it at the moment and put it back down.

She knew what he was getting at. They were both loosened up from the port, emotions were running high, and they both really needed to get to know each other again.

"Neither of us are exactly the same person we used to be," she commented, to which he nodded in agreement.

"I, um, I need to take a shower, an' get some sleep," she told him, not sure what she should do. She needed a moment to herself, that much was known.

"Yeah," was all he said.

She moved to the bathroom. Just before she got there, the Doctor called out, "Rose?"

"Yes?" she wondered.

"We're good, right?" He was still watching her, looking sad.

"Yeah, we're good," she replied, grinning. "You're one helluva kisser," she added with a wink, which made him grin back.

Once alone in the shower, she thought about the day, about Daleks and two Doctors (didn't that make the mind race?). Her mind then turned to Donna, Mickey, and everyone else.

That's when realization hit her.

XxXxXxXx

He turned on the telly, in an attempt to drown out the sound of the shower running. "No, no, no, no, no," he repeated to himself. "I will not think about Rose Tyler, naked, with just one door between us. No, no, no. I need something to keep myself occupied. What, what, what." He paced back and forth across the room for a moment, his hands in his hair until a burst of inspiration came to him. "Yes!"

He went over to the bed and began the process of emptying his pockets, to get a good idea of what he had on hand. His pockets held the items he had picked up in his mad rush just before being dumped on the beach. Also in the pockets were a rubber band ball, several wires, a stethoscope, a yo-yo, a deck of cards, a remote control for an RC car (where did that come from?), eight screws, notes from various time periods (he could probably toss those), three books, a banana, and a gizmo he had designed to detect holes in the fabric of reality. It was supposed to go "ding" when it found new stuff, and the little dish was supposed to go around. It had obviously never worked, as he never knew about the Daleks until the warning.

His last pocket he knew had only his suits and the TARDIS coral in it. He didn't even pull those out. It wasn't much to start a life with, but it was a helluva lot more than his other self was going to give him. The bastard. He quickly shoved the various items back in the pocket they came out of and sat down on the edge of the bed with his head in his hands.

The silence in his mind screamed, and he reached inside of his pocket in an attempt to feel the little one, to ground himself in a manner of speaking, but what his hand felt when he reached in was not what he expected. He pulled out the little package and looked at it. It was an envelope. A simple, unassuming envelope that bulged. How the hell did this get here?

He remembered the Other putting something in his pocket just before he stepped out of the TARDIS and immediately wanted to throw it away. He didn't want anything the bastard gave him. With a sigh, he fought the impulse to chuck it out the window and watch it fly down eight stories, but only because he didn't want other people getting hold of it.

He opened the envelope and peeked inside. What he saw there was a shock. It was his sonic screwdriver and the leather case he kept psychic paper in. He dumped the items on the bed and stared at them. Really, it was the least the Other could do, he had more psychic paper he could use, and remaking the screwdriver was a walk in the park if you had a TARDIS at your disposal.

He picked up the screwdriver, gave it an experimental flip, and put it in his pocket, spirits raised. He then grabbed the wallet, and opened it up. Inside was a message.

The one adventure I can never have.

Oh, please. The bastard didn't even really want to be stuck on Earth. He understood the sentiment, of course, he was the same man. But it was really no more than a 'the grass is greener on the other side' sort of thing. A thing born out of the desire for a life with Rose and what she deserved.

The telly wasn't up loud enough, and the sound of the shower intruded again. He closed his eyes and tried to will himself calm again, even though he was aware that it wasn't really going to work, but then he became aware of another sound.

Rose Tyler was crying.

Chapter Text

Chapter 5:

While Rose was in the shower, she thought over the events of the day. Daleks. Bloody Daleks again. She'd gone up against them five times already, and had gone to some extreme lengths to rid the universe of them. Lengths she was still finding fallout from. Not to mention the terrible things that the Doctor had needed to do because of them. She was certain that the Doctor, the one in the other universe, would never be rid of them. Luckily, in this universe, she had yet to see any signs of Daleks, but that didn't mean anything.

She wasn't very happy with the other Doctor at the moment, but she still loved him. She hoped that whatever happened to him from then on, he'd be okay. She worried about him, she couldn't help it.

Her thoughts turned to two Doctors. That could have been fun, but the idiots would have probably killed each other, not literally... maybe literally. She knew the Doctor hated himself, which was probably the underlying reason why they were sent back here. The man was really his own worst enemy sometimes.

At least he still had Donna. That was something, though she didn't think she liked Donna all Doctor-fied. It was weird. She liked Donna and she loved the Doctor, but the two personalities in one mind were, wrong. Something was very wrong with it, but she couldn't pin what it was.

Apparently Martha had traveled with the Doctor after Rose and before Donna. She as glad he wasn't alone, though she couldn't help the bit of jealousy that seeped into her over the other woman. She'd been with the Doctor when Rose wanted to be. She liked Martha. She admired the woman's negotiation tactic. It bought them needed time. She hoped it was just a bluff, though.

And Mickey decided to stay in the other universe. That wasn't actually much of a shock. Mickey's Grandmother had died, and that was one of the main reasons that he had stayed in this universe the first time. She'd miss him. She'd literally known him her entire life. But he had to live his own life, not an extension of Rickey's. She wished him the best.

It was good to see Sarah Jane again. She missed her. The two would occasionally get together when Rose was on Earth, to the Doctor's horror. Rose teased him for a long time after seeing the pictures of the two bodies he had while she was with him. She made him show her pictures of all of his bodies a bit after that.

Her mind turned to her friend Jack. Jack, who she was so close to. She'd say that he was like a brother to her, except they flirted far too much for that relationship. She had thought Jack was dead, but learned while in the alternate time-line with Donna that he was alive and heading up the last Torchwood branch in Cardiff. She was proud of him. He'd done well for himself.

She knew that he had been hit by the Dalek's ray. She was sure of it, his skeleton had shown and everything. So how was he still alive? There was no way. Even the Doctor might not regenerate from a full hit. The only reason he was still alive was because the laser had just glanced him.

She had no answers, so her mind turned back to the damned Daleks. She thought about the way they intended to destroy everything. The test of their weapon had made those people into little piles of dust. She had a memory of things disintegrating like that before. A gold tinged memory that played in her mind like a video, like she had watched it on the telly, complete with background music. In that memory, she had made it happen, with no more than a thought. She could have chosen any way to take out the Daleks. Completely wipe them from existence, turn them into stone, explode them, whatever, and she had chosen to tear them apart in the exact same way that this last lot had chosen to tear apart everything.

A horrible thought occurred to her. Had she seen all of this? Had she chosen this? Had she made the man in the other room? Had she hurt the other Doctor? She already knew that the incident was what made him regenerate. He had admitted that taking in the Vortex was what had done it, though, at the beginning, he had omitted the fact that it had been taking it from her that had done it.

She ran through all of the memories that stemmed from that day.

I want you safe. My Doctor. Protected from the false god...I can see the whole of time and space. Every single atom of your existence, and I divide them...The Time War ends...I bring life...I can see everything. All that is, all that was, all that ever could be.

She was certain now that she hadn't deliberately done anything to hurt the Doctor. She had been overwhelmed. She probably thought that it was an incidence in the past, which, considering that was 198,000 years in the future, it was. She was certain that she had seen snatches of it, and used that as inspiration. But there was something else that was bugging her.

"I bring life," she whispered to herself. Why did she say that? All she had done was deal out death.

Suddenly, the answer hit her and she slid down the wall of the shower.

Jack had died back then. She had brought him back to life.

He died again just earlier that day, and the Doctor hadn't seemed surprised to see Jack back alive.

How many times had he died and come back?

With the realization, she slid down the wall, crying.

XxXxXxXx

The first thing the Doctor wanted to do as soon as he heard Rose crying was to barge in there and find out why. He even had his hand on the door, ready to push it open before he stopped himself.

She was obviously trying to be quiet. She didn't want him to know that she was crying. He wanted to destroy the git that put her in that state, but he didn't think that she'd take it too well if he suddenly took off to another universe to go do that.

He put his head against the wall and listened to her faint cries. It was the least he could do. He had done this as well. The sounds disappeared, and a couple of minutes later, he heard the shower stop running.

With that, he scrambled back over to the bed, moved his jacket off of it and onto the chair he had been sitting in earlier, kicked his trainers off, and went back to the bed. He kicked back like he had been there all along and tried to concentrate on the news show that broadcast in Norwegian.

The Door to the bathroom opened, and Rose stepped out. From the way she looked, he would have never known she was crying just a few minutes before. More proof of his theory. She wore a nondescript white, terrycloth robe that must have been in the bathroom and was using a matching towel to dry her hair. Her face was entirely free of makeup, and he thought she looked more beautiful without the thin covering.

He tried not to speculate on what would be under the robe. Rose didn't have anything else to wear that he knew of other than her clothes from that day. And now was not the time for his mind to wander in that direction. He was getting as bad as Jack. Well, maybe not that bad.

"Good shower?" he asked nonchalantly as she wrapped her hair up with the towel.

Rose immediately deflated. "You know, don't you?" she accused.

Well, so much for not letting her know that he knew. What gave it away? Maybe she was talking about something else?

"Know what?" he asked.

Rose came over and dropped down on the edge of the bed near his hip. She opened her mouth to say something, then shut it with a click. She did that twice more before she finally got some words out. He had sat up in the meantime and put his hand on her shoulder, reminding her that he was right there.

"Is Jack...you know?" she haltingly started. She gestured with her hands, trying to make herself understood without coming right out and saying it.

Jack? Jack was what she was crying about? With all the things that happened that day, why would she be crying about-oh. He was thick, he was so very thick.

"Jack is, um, well Jack can't die," he started. "And when I say that he can't die, what I really mean is that he does die, and then, you know, comes back to life. He'll die a final time and stay that way eventually, but for now, he just pops back. It's a really handy trick to have, you know, not to die, but-"

"Can you stop saying die?" Rose suddenly burst out, her voice cracking. "How many times?"

"I don't know, I'm sorry," he told her softly.

"It makes so much sense now," she said, sniffing. "In the other time-line, he'd come back from a mission covered in blood, or 'is clothes torn, or somethin', and he'd be fine. He'd swear it wasn't 'is own, or it was a small cut that just bled a lot, or..." she cried out and put her hands to her mouth. "Oh, my God, 'e was tryin' ta keep me from knowin'!"

She pulled her feet up on the bed with her and wrapped her arms around her knees. He pulled her into a hug and she went willingly. He held her, worried about how quiet she was. His Rose could appear to be so stoic sometimes, and that wasn't always a good thing for emotional humans.

"It's all my fault," Rose whispered. "He's been through so much, and it's all 'cause of me. I didn't even ge' ta talk to 'im properly."

"Hey, hey, hey, now. Don't beat yourself up over this. It's okay. Yes, Jack's had some...not very good things happen to him, but he's alright, and he doesn't hate you," the Doctor tried to assure Rose. He scooted over to make some more room for her, and pulled her along with him gently until they were laying next to one another.

He pushed the escaped strand of her still damp hair back from her cheek and got a good look at her. She looked so tired. He pulled back so that he could get off the bed and pull up the duvet, but Rose tightened her grip on him.

"Let's get under these covers," he said softly. She seemed to realize that they were laying on them, and moved to help. A minute later, they were both laying on the bed, under the covers, further apart than before. The situation made him feel a bit self conscious, which was new.

"Are you okay?" Rose asked him suddenly.

Her question made him smile. "Yes, Rose, I'm fine," he answered.

"Are you sure? What about the-" she waved, indicating his head. It took him a couple seconds to realize that she was asking about his telepathy, about the silence in his mind.

"I'm fine," he repeated. "Exhausted, though. Had a kip in the car on the way here, but blimey, I think this body'll wanna sleep half its life away." He shuddered at the thought.

Rose giggled and scooted closer. "Third," she corrected.

"What?" he asked, confused.

"Eight hours a day is one third of twenty-four. It's basic math," she teased.

The Doctor briefly considered tickling her for her cheek, but decided against it. He settled for shaking his head and telling her that she needed to get some sleep.

A few minutes later, her breathing slowed and he knew she had dropped off into sleep. As he laid there, watching her sleep for a few moments, his mind whirred with a million thoughts. Possibilities, worries, dreams. He fell asleep with a smile on his face, thinking about the kisses the two of them had shared that day.

XxXxXxXx

After a dreamless night, the first in many months, Rose woke up to the sound of someone knocking on the door. A beam of light from the window landed right on her face, and for a moment, she wondered why her blackout curtains were opened.

Then she realized her arm and a foot were laying on someone and her head was hurting a bit. What?! She panicked for a moment, not realizing what happened until she realized that it was the Doctor she was laying on and all her memories of the previous day came rushing back to her.

The knock on the door sounded again, reminding her of the reason she had woken up. She got up immediately, put her robe in place, de-tangled her hair from the towel it was wrapped in when she fell asleep, and looked through the peephole. It was her mother at the door. She opened the door, and looked at her mother bleary eyed.

"What is it, Mum?" she questioned, shortly.

"Now that's no way to talk to your mother, little lady," she admonished. She softened a little when she finally took in her daughter's appearance. "I woke you, didn't I?" she asked.

In answer, Rose just nodded her head. "What time is it?" she yawned.

"Half past eight," her mother replied.

Rose was astonished. She had slept nine hours. She hadn't slept more than six hours in a night in years. Of course, she'd also been up for two days before giving in to the need for sleep the night before.

"Where's 'imself, then?" her mother wondered, looking around Rose to see in the room.

"In bed still, keep it down, will ya?" Rose told her.

"Wear 'im out, did ya?" she asked with a wink.

"Mum!" Rose's eyes widened, and she glanced over at the bed to make sure the Doctor was still out and couldn't hear her. "For the bazillionth time, we weren't ever like that, an' even if we were, I'd not be-no, never mind, it's none of ya business," she hissed.

"Alrigh', alright," her mother replied, "keep ya knickers on." She rolled her eyes at Rose. "I only knocked to drop this off." She held out a white plastic bag.

Rose took the bag and looked inside. In the bag was a hairbrush, a comb, two toothbrushes, and some toothpaste.

"You're a lifesaver, Mum," she praised.

"Oh, now you're appreciative," Jackie complained.

The Doctor groaned and put his hand to his head.

"Don't forget, the zeppelin'll be 'ere 'round noon an' we're leavin' at 11:00" her mother reminded Rose before she stepped back to her room.

Rose closed the door, and turned back to the Doctor, who shielded himself from the light with his hand. Rose had to fight the urge to giggle at his appearance. His hair stood out in all directions, except for one part on the side of his head, which was flattened down. His tongue smacked in his mouth and he made a face like he had tasted something disgusting.

"Blimey," he complained. "'S like a torch." He sat up and stretched, then looked around. When his eyes landed on Rose, his face lit up, like he had just realized that yesterday was real.

"Good morning, Doctor," she greeted him, as she went to the table and grabbed the glasses from the night before.

"Good morning, Rose," he replied.

She filled a glass with water and brought it to him. "Here, for your head," she told him.

He accepted it gratefully and drunk it down while she liberated her new hairbrush from it's package.

As soon as her hairbrush was free, she went into the bathroom to take care of her appearance. She laid out the other items her mother had picked up on the counter by the sink so that the Doctor couldn't miss them, and set to work fixing herself up.

It was going to be a long day.

Chapter Text

Starting Over: Chapter 6: Identity

The Doctor stood on the tarmac and stared at the giant, grey balloon with a look of disdain. This was how they were supposed to get from Norway to England? A quick inspection of the visible parts of the balloon showed that this universe's airship technology was far more advanced than the other universe's technology. That was to be expected, with the fact that they were more common. The gondola was larger than what he was used to seeing, and it could obviously carry far more than its similar sized counterpart on the other side of the void in the same time.

"Well, are ya gonna stare at it all day, or are ya gonna board?" Jackie Tyler called to him, from nearby.

He walked toward the gondola and up the ramp that came out of it. The interior of this zeppelin looked much like the interior of trains. He followed the directions the lady at the door gave him, which led him to a sliding door that was closed. There was a window in the door, with a curtain that was pushed aside, and he could see Rose sitting in the room.

On the other side of the small room, there sat a portly, older man with thick glasses and a mostly bald head. The two of them were in deep discussion over some papers that were strung out over one of those tables that collapsed when not needed. He could hear their discussion from the other side of the door.

"...an' 'e isn' a threat to any of us or to Earth," Rose told the man.

"Yes, Commander Tyler, I get that, but protocol states that-" the man argued.

"I know what the protocols state, Thomas," Rose argued back, curtly, cutting the older man off. "I set up those particular rules myself, 'cause we don't know about who they are. I'm tellin', ya, though, several of us do know the Doctor. And those people include the Director 'imself. He's not an unknown equation."

Well, that settled the question of what they were talking about. The Doctor wasn't sure if he should be listening to this or not. With the door closed, it was obviously a private conversation, but it was also about him, and included the one person who's thoughts he wanted to hear the most.

"And just how well do you know this 'Doctor' of yours?" the man, Thomas asked with accusation in his voice.

"Well enough," Rose stated, confidently.

"I'm not sure I trust your judgment on this matter," the older man told her.

"You don' have to trust me, you jus' have to do what I say," she shot back. "The Doctor is the one who stopped Lumic. That alone more than entitles 'im to what 'm askin', no, telling you to do."

The Doctor listened to this, his heart warming at Rose's words. She was fighting for him. He didn't know what exactly she was fighting over, but he was sure she'd tell him soon. Having heard enough, he was going to back off and go explore, but when Rose saw him, she waved him in without taking her attention from the argument at hand. He opened the door and stepped in.

"Should my ears be burning?" the Doctor joked in an attempt to lighten the mood.

Rose shot him an amused glance while Thomas ignored him and continued his argument.

"I don't work for you, Commander Tyler, I work for the Director-"

"Who will fully agree with me, which is why 'e sent the paperwork in the first place, though he coulda avoided sendin' you wit' it," Rose interrupted him again.

"Well, Miss Tyler, I won't argue with you on this matter any longer. I clearly cannot change your mind. When it all goes pear shaped, let me know," he said with a hint of anger in his voice. He stood up and left the room, stumbling a bit when the airship lifted off.

When he left, the Doctor took his seat and looked at Rose, who mumbled to herself as she gathered up the papers. Even with his superior hearing, he couldn't make out everything she said. He got the gist of it, though. She was insulting the other man's intelligence.

"Thank you," he told her.

She looked up from her shuffling, startled. "What for?" she asked.

"Well, whatever that was about, you obviously just went to bat for me," he pointed out. Noting her confused look at his statement, he added fondly, "You never even thought about doing anything else, did you?"

"Well, I'm just too good," Rose said as she closed the folder.

"So, how long have we got to deal with bald and grumpy?" he asked, which caused Rose to giggle.

"We should reach London at about 5:30," Rose told him.

"Oh, well, not too long then, I can't wait to meet your baby brother," he replied jovially.

"5:30 a.m.," Rose corrected.

"Blimey, what's a bloke supposed to do for seventeen hours?" he complained.

"Well, some of those hours will be spent sleeping," Rose informed him. She took a deep breath, as if she were steeling herself for something unpleasant. "As for the rest," she continued, "we need to start with these."

She turned the folder around and slid it across the table to him, along with a pen she had in her pocket.

"I know you hate paperwork of all kinds, but this does need to be done," she told him sympathetically. "I put this packet together myself, to allow people who weren't from this world and needed to settle down here permanently to have all of the paperwork they need to get through their daily life. It's mostly for humanoid aliens seeking asylum, but-what?" She noticed his odd look at her.

"You put together a packet to establish human identities for aliens?" he asked in awe.

"Well, yeah," she said, as if that were obvious. "'Snot like they're all invaders. We get crashed ships with people who we can't get back home yet, some come 'ere tryin' to get away from a war, the occasional person displaced out of time, and-" her words were cut off when the Doctor leaned over the tiny table, grabbed her face, and kissed her hard.

When he sat back down, she looked dazed, a fact which he was smug about.

"What was that for?" she asked, then quickly added, "Not that 'm complainin' or anything."

"Rose Tyler, you are brilliant," he praised her. Rose blushed at his declaration and shook her head. "Yes, you are. Who else would have thought this up?"

"This was nothin', 'smostly papers I had ta put together when I came 'ere," she told him.

"Yeah, but you thought of putting it all together in one place to help people," he affirmed.

"We'll see how much ya like it when you're finished," she replied seriously.

He opened the folder. Inside, about 20 sheets of paper laid, all printed forms of various types.

"We usually have someone sittin' with the person filling out the forms, to explain the whys and 'ows," she informed him. "I don' think ya need help with that, but I'll sit 'ere with ya to bounce ideas off of."

He took out the first sheet and read the first question. "Name? Well, that's easy, John Smith." As he went to fill in the blanks, Rose grabbed his hand and kept him from doing so.

"You might want to think about that. The name you choose now will be what anyone who doesn't know you well enough to call you what they think is your nickname will use. It'll be stuck with you."

She was right. This wasn't something that he could drop in a heartbeat. The Doctor thought about it for a moment.

"I've been using the name off and on since my first body," he finally told her.

"Okay, then, as long as you're sure," Rose said as she let go of his hand. "What about the middle name?"

He sat back and thought for a moment. That was a harder choice. Whatever he chose should have some meaning to him.

Rose suddenly had that look she got when she had an idea. "I get your reasons for John Smith," Rose said. "But maybe we should lengthen it to Johnathan?" she asked. "I know a couple of John Smiths, and when a new person meets them, they think 'sa fake name, even though there's somethin' like 30,000 people in Great Britain with the name. People will automatically shorten it to John without really thinking about it," she explained.

It was a good idea, he thought. She had a point, and it wouldn't make a difference.

"Okay," he agreed.

"As for your middle name, that should have some meaning to it," Rose put in, unknowingly echoing his thoughts on the matter.

"Well, there's so many possibilities that have meaning and would fit in with the basic English name," he started. "Let's see... Jason has roots in Greek, and means 'to heal.' There's Alex, Alexander, and other variants, all derived from the Greek word alexo which means, 'to defend' or 'to help.' Chance, as in 'luck,' but is derived from the Latin cadens, meaning 'falling.'" he thought for a moment, then added, "nah, don't like that. Joshua has Hebrew and Aramaic origins, but essentially means 'salvation.' There's Benjamin, derived from Hebrew, meaning 'son of the right hand.'" He wiggled the fingers of his right hand, which was the hand this body grew out of.

"Nah, that's too weird," Rose interrupted his babble, shook her head, and scrunched up her nose. The entire time he had been talking, Rose had been scribbling in a little notebook. He wondered what she was writing down.

"Okay, Benjamin's off the table," he agreed. "We also have...Theta, based in Greek, I used to be called Theta Sigma, but I hate that nickname." He shuddered. "There's also Storm, that meaning's obvious, and Old English. In Pokiliniso, Storm also means, 'wisdom.' Evander, also derived from Greek, means 'good man.' Blimey, a lot of these names are Greek derived." He stopped babbling and looked at her, wondering what had her attention.

She finished scribbling in her book and looked up at him, expectantly.

"What are you writing in that book?" he asked, folding his arms.

"Jus' writin' down possibilities," she answered. She handed the book over to him so he could see.

The Doctor picked up the little notebook and looked at the page she had been writing on. Rose's handwriting repeated his human name over and over, with different middle name possibilities added on.

Johnathan Jason Smith

Johnathan Alexander Smith

Johnathan Chance Smith -This one was marked through.

Johnathan Joshua Smith

Johnathan Benjam -This one had been struck through several times, with enough pressure that the pen had gone through the paper.

Johnathan Theta S -was also struck through and unfinished.

Johnathan Storm Smith

Johnathan Evander Smith

"I'm, um," Rose started nervously, "just writin' out each possibility to see how it flows an' looks. Mum did the same thing when she an' Pete named Tony." She played with a strand of her hair and looked sheepish.

He was touched at her gesture. "Tony Tyler, yep, I see what you mean," he grinned. "What's his middle name?"

"Peter," she replied. "That was the one thing Mum wanted. The other possibility for a firs' name was Alan. They couldn't make up their minds between Tony and Alan, and wound up flippin' a coin."

The two of them laughed together over that. When the laughter died down, far too quickly, he thought, he picked up the pen and crossed out Joshua and Jason.

"Why'd ya get rid of those two?" Rose asked, curiously.

"Why? Did you really like those?" he asked, unsure. The lessened confidence he had been feeling was foreign to him. He wondered if that was some more of what he was now calling his "inner Donna" coming out, or if it was just the situation.

"It's not about what I want, Doctor," she was quick to assure him. "'Syour name, yeah? I was just wondering."

"They just didn't feel right," he replied, to which she smiled and nodded, satisfied.

Now he was left with Johnathan Storm Smith, Johnathan Evander Smith, and Johnathan Alexander Smith. He liked all of them. This was going to be a difficult task.

He started tapping the notebook with the pen, frustrated. He didn't want to pick a name. He was the Doctor, that's all he needed. Anything else was was temporary, and now here he was, being forced to choose a permanent name.

Before his thoughts could spin into a darker realm, Rose reached out and grabbed his hand. "I don' need ta be an empath to tell that you're gettin' frustrated already. It's okay." She gave his hand a squeeze. "You shoulda seen me when I was doin' this. I didn't 'ave to come up with a lot o' the information, an' I still threw paperwork a couple of times. I swear, Hell is piles of paperwork that never get smaller," she finished.

He hadn't thought about her having to become a legal person of this universe before. All that frustration with coming up with an identity when she had never existed. For Mickey, it would have been easy, he could just step into Rickey's life. His grandmother probably never even knew that her real grandson had died. For Jackie, they would have had to make up some story about the three years, but that was all. She could have stepped in to her counterpart's shoes, at least publicly.

Rose, however, not only had to get integrated into this world, but had to try to get publicly integrated with an already established family that she had never existed in.

"What did you tell people?" he asked her. At his question, Rose got a sad look on her face.

"In this world, 'm officially a distant relative of both Jackie and Pete, where one of his cousins married one of hers. Everyone on that branch of the Tyler and Prentice families are all gone now, so there's no one who can say any different if there was actually a child born to them. They 'adopted' me after Jackie 'regained her memories', because I had 'elped her without knowin' who she was."

"So, your mum isn't your mum?" he asked.

"In public, anyway," she answered. "Though I sometimes slip up and call her Mum. People just assume she asked me to call her that." She waved that off- both metaphorically and physically- and added, "I had the option to be their daughter publicly. The story was basically a 'long lost daughter given up for adoption when they were still poor' sort of thing. Mum came up with it. She's always loved spinnin' a good yarn. That woulda come with a media circus, though, an' I couldn't deal with that at the time. Still have ta deal with the media, though."

She wasn't looking at him when she finished her explanation. She was making a show of digging in her pockets for something. She couldn't get rid of the emotion in her voice, though. It held a deep sadness mixed with an anger that seemed old. It might have permeated her existence since they had been separated.

Suddenly, she turned the conversation back to the task at hand. "Okay, so what're your options, then?" she asked. She didn't want to talk about it anymore right then. He knew the tactic all too well, and decided to let her do it, for now.

He looked down to make sure, which he really didn't need to, and told her, "Storm, Evander, and Alexander."

"Say the full names out loud?" she suggested.

He did, then immediately crossed out 'Evander'. "Well, then, down to two possibilities," he said. "Uh, I like both of them. Let's see...Alexander, Alex, Alec? No, not Alec, that's just. No, I hate that. Xander? Nah," he denied that at the same time Rose scrunched up her face. "Storm," he continued. "Really, there's no variations of Storm, not unless you want the Basque name Ekaitz, and I don't like that, it means 'leaper of sheep' in Anitiana. Well, they're not sheep, really, but they look somewhat similar, and are used for the same purposes."

Rose giggled, which had been his intention when he suggested the last couple of names. After her giggle, he got back to the business at hand.

"I don't know which one to choose," he admitted. "I can't believe I'm about to say this, but I think Jackie Tyler's way is the way we have to go. Of course, I don't have any coins on me right now."

"Nothing new," Rose quipped.

He pretended as if he hadn't heard her jab. "We'll spin the pen, if it points more to, let's say the door, we'll go for Alexander, if it points more to the wall, we'll go for Storm." He put the pen down on the table and made to spin it, when he noticed Rose's 'I-have-a-really-great-idea-but-I'm-not-sure-about-it' look. It was even complete with the chewed thumb. Those ideas were always her best.

"What?" he asked her encouragingly.

"Who says ya have to choose?" she rhetorically asked. "'Sa middle name, nothin' says ya can't 'ave two. Lotsa people have two middle names." Oh she was brilliant. Better say that out loud.

"Johnathan Alexander Storm Smith," he said out loud, tasting the words. He gave her his best thousand watt grin, which she blushed at, then returned. "What do you think?" he asked her and waggled his eyebrows playfully.

"I think you should keep it," she answered.

He wrote down his new name in the blanks provided for it. He had to squeeze his new middle name in.

"Okay, that's one question down," he flipped the corners of the pages. "Only about a million more to go," he complained.

"That was probably the hardest decision," Rose assured him.

"Next question: birthday," he read off of the paper. It shouldn't be this hard to read that.

"That's somethin' I never even thought about," Rose realized. "The things you don't think about when travelin', like age and birthdays. What is your birthday?" she asked.

He tugged on his ear as he admitted that he didn't know. Then explained to her about how they didn't do birthdays. After a moment of back and forth, they chose to use the day that this version of him had sprung into existence as a birthday.

They had decided to say he was 32 years old based on his looks, that he was born in London, which matched his accent, and that he was of English descent on his father's side and Scottish on his mother's.

They had needed to make up a short family tree for him, but could hide it well enough thanks to the Cyber War. A key records office had been destroyed in a fire that started when a few people who didn't have earpods controlling them had tried to fight off some Cybermen. It had become a great way to get people into the system without having previous records on them.

The Doctor got more and more depressed as they went through the pages.

XxXxXxXx

Rose was on her way back from getting herself and the Doctor another cuppa when her mother ran into her, almost literally. She had absentmindedly stepped out of her cabin on the airship right into Rose's path, nearly knocking the scalding hot tea over the both of them.

"Oh, 'm sorry, Swee'hear', didn' see ya there," she said.

"'Saright," Rose replied. "Jus' keep an eye on where you're goin', yeah?"

"Where's 'imself, then?" Jackie asked after she noticed that Rose was alone.

"He's in the cabin, finishin' up that pile o' paperwork." Rose told her mother. "'E's goin' a bit stir crazy."

"Oh, that one never could stay still for long, could 'e? Same no matter what body he's in," her mum scoffed.

"Why'd Dad have to send Thomas?" Rose asked.

"I dunno," her mum replied. "I didn' even know 'e was gonna be 'ere." Her mother hated the man almost as much as Rose did. Thomas Trout was nothing if not unimaginative. He was a stickler for efficiency and the rules. The man's personality could use some major improvements. Her friend Jake often said that he needed to get laid. Rose thought it'd take a lot more than that.

"Oh, you'd better get that tea to him 'fore it gets cold," her mum suddenly realized.

Gratefully, Rose took leave of her mother and made her way down the narrow hallway toward the cabin she and the Doctor were sharing. On her way, she thought about her mother's observation that the Doctor never could stay still for long. It was true, and Rose wondered if the Doctor could do this; If he could stay still in one place. She didn't know if she was enough.

She had a way to travel through time and space, but it could be dodgy sometimes, and she only used it when she absolutely had to. The Doctor was a Time Lord, and could probably make her Vortex manipulator work properly if it stopped working. She wouldn't tell him about it yet, though. She wanted -no needed to know if she was enough.

She reached the door to their cabin, slid it open, and caught the Doctor ranting to himself about how this universe needed a Boeing plant. He noticed her presence immediately and came over.

"Why zeppelins?" he asked as he took the tray from her.

"The Hindenburg never existed here, and one of the Wright Brothers died on their first flight. People gravitated toward airships because of all the accidents in early airplanes," Rose explained.

"So they went with the slower technology because of a few accidents?" the Doctor scoffed. "Humans, I'll never understand you. One minute, you're all, 'Let's go to a black hole.' The next, you're all, 'no airplanes because we had a few accidents."

"Well, maybe you should make a workable airplane, then," Rose teased.

"There you go, that's what I'll do." he seemed delighted by the idea. Of course he'd think that would be a great idea.

"It's an expensive thing to do," Rose warned.

"Oh, there's a thought. Money. I'll have to get money. I've always been a bit vague about money." He looked sad at the thought. Rose knew that he'd wanted for nothing when he had the TARDIS. If he needed actual money for something, he'd go to a cash point and use his sonic. She wondered if he even had his sonic now.

"We'll get to that in time," Rose told him.

He blew out a big breath, his cheeks puffing up the way they always did. "Yeah, we'll see." They both drank their tea in silence for a minute.

Rose suddenly had an idea. She stood up and held her hand out to the Doctor. He looked up at her, questioning.

"Come on, I have something to show you," she said and wiggled her fingers.

He took her hand and let her lead him from the room and down the corridor.

"Where are we going?" he asked.

"You'll see-ee," Rose sing-songed.

At the end of the hallway, there were three doors.

"This one," Rose informed, pointing to to door on the end, "goes to the cockpit. This one," she pointed to the door on the left, "goes to the loo. This one," she pointed to the the door to the right and looked down the corridor to make sure no one else could see them. "This one is where we're goin'."

The door was locked, as it usually was, which was no problem. She reached into an inside pocket of her jacket and pulled out a small cloth roll filled with several thin bits of metal. She bent over to pick the lock, and suddenly there was a very familiar blue and silver tube in her face.

"Need this?" he asked cheekily.

"So you do have a sonic?" she asked, delightedly, then took the device from him, set it to the most used setting, and pointed it at the lock on the door. She was happy to hear the warble sound again, followed by the satisfying click of the door lock. So very satisfying.

"Did you just sigh?" The Doctor teased.

She couldn't believe she had actually sighed. Damn. How should she deal with this? The little part of herself that spoke in Jack's voice popped out.

"A girl's gotta get her jollies some way," she flirted as she handed the sonic back to him.

"You know, you didn't have to go through all this trouble for a snog in the cupboard," he flirted back as he followed her through. She closed the door behind them.

"This isn't a snog in the cupboard," she told him, somewhat shocked at the way he was flirting back with her. They had always flirted, but not like this. This had a sense of inevitability that sort of scared her.

"Shame," he replied, then winked.

She couldn't keep her shock hidden apparently, because he suddenly asked her, "what?"

"It's jus', well, you're...different," she replied.

"Good different or bad different?" he asked. She was instantly reminded of an almost identical conversation way back when he changed on her the first time.

"Good different," she told him, honestly.

At her words, his eyes went wide for a moment, then he grinned one of his happy, daft grins.

"Come on, Goofball," she told him, "you'll like this," she informed him with a shake of her head and a giggle.

They went down the short, narrow staircase that had a small landing and a door at the bottom.

"Close your eyes and no peeks," she instructed him when they were at the bottom of the stairs.

The Doctor immediately squeezed his eyes shut, then popped one open real quick before shutting it again.

"Okay, eyes closed, no peeking," he said, happily.

She felt anticipation at showing him this. Was this how he always felt when showing people the wonders of the universe?

Rose opened the simple, unassuming door, took the Doctor's hand, telling him to keep his eyes closed, and guided him into the room. She then closed the door behind them.

"Okay now, you can open your eyes," she told him when she got into position where she could see his expression. His eyes popped open, and he took in his surroundings. She felt joy bubbling inside her at seeing his face light up when he realized what was going on.

XxXxXxXx

They were standing in a room that was mostly made of clear plastic on two walls and the floor. The other two walls were really one wall that curved around. There were support bars across the plastic. They broke up the view just enough to keep a person from getting vertigo when they came into the room. The view outside showed the ocean going by, and they could see a coastline in the distance.

"This is not bad. Not bad at all," the Doctor said happily.

"This model of zeppelin was designed for observation and scientific study originally," Rose lectured. "There's another room like this on the other end of the gondola. 'S larger and has three walls, but its door is left open an' it's easier to get to. This one stays private. There's a coating on the Plexiglas that keeps it from being seen from the outside."

"You've spent some time in here," the Doctor commented.

"Yeah," Rose replied, looking out the window and not meeting his gaze.

"It's nice," he said softly.

The two of them stood there, looking out over the gray-blue waves. During the silence, the Doctor thought about his new self, the future, and this new Rose.

"Why do you follow me so easily?" Rose blurted out after a few minutes of silence. "I mean, you jus' take what I say and-"

"Why not?" the Doctor interrupted. "You know this world. I don't. I trust you, so why not do what you say?"

Rose stared at him wide eyed. "You trust me?" she asked, her voice went up a higher pitch than normal.

He looked over her. "Well, yeah," he said as if it were the most obvious thing in the world.

"Maybe you shouldn't," she told him seriously.

He was surprised at that statement. "Why not?"

"No one else seems to," she said sadly.

"Now I don't believe that," he chided.

"Really?" she asked, incredulously. She began listing various cases. "Thomas flat out told me righ' before ya walked in tha' 'e didn' trus' me. My own mum jus' spent years tellin' me that 'm wrong for wantin' to cross ta another universe to be with someone I love, the hypocrite. She jus' crossed universes to follow me, usin' a button I tol' 'er not ta use. I told her again an' again that if what I was doing worked, the walls between the universes would close as if they 'ad never been cracked, an' she could get trapped over there away from 'er son and 'usband, but she apparently didn't believe me, 'cause she came anyway. Mickey did the same thing, though he at least wasn' leavin' any actual family behind. But what 'e did was even worse 'cause 'e 'elped Mum to do it."

He could tell she was getting emotional as her accent became thicker, and she dropped more letters from her words.

"Okay, I can see how that would make you feel that way," the Doctor replied slowly before he pulled her in for a hug. He rubbed her back for a moment while he thought about how to make her feel better.

"Who's this Thomas anyway?" he queried.

"Thomas Trout works for Dad. He's all about efficiency," she said into his jacket, her voice muffled a little.

"What he says doesn't matter, Rose. Remember that," he told her. "As for your mum and Mickey, I hate to say it, but neither of them have ever exactly approved of your way of doing things."

Rose jerked her head up and looked at him angrily for a second, but before the Doctor could start to wonder if he should get out of reach, her expression became thoughtful, then sad.

"I suppose you're right," she whispered and laid her head back on his chest.

After a few minutes, they moved into a more comfortable position on the floor, where they silently watched the ocean under them.

Not long after they sat on the floor, the second bottle of wine that they had bought the night before but never opened made an appearance from one of the Doctor's pockets. The two of them sat there, drinking straight from the bottle until Jackie came looking for them.

XxXxXxXx

When Jackie opened the door, she walked in on them singing "Bohemian Rhapsody" in the silliest way possible.

Yeah, they were going to be okay, if they didn't get liver damage first. Where they hell did they get that bottle of wine?

"Food's ready, you two."

Chapter Text

After dinner, Rose and the Doctor retreated to their cabin.

"I think he properly hates you now," Rose said happily as soon as the door was slid shut behind them. "But to be fair, he was gonna hate you anyway. That's jus' 'ow 'e is." She folded the table they had been working on down and fell into the seat she had sat in earlier.

"Got the path to hate over quickly; like a plaster," the Doctor replied and dropped into his seat across from her. After a moment, his face fell. "Blimey," he said, scratching his neck under his chin, "barely been in this universe for a day an' I already have an enemy."

Rose leaned forward, grabbed his forearms, and looked into his eyes. "That is not a reflection of you, that's all on Thomas," she emphatically stated. "We all have people we can't stand, people who can't stand us. Okay?"

He nodded and smiled at her. It was a genuine smile, no daft or manic grin. It contained a bit of sadness, though, and other emotions that she couldn't identify, not from just looking at him anyway.

She squashed the sudden, alien impulse to figure out just what those other emotions were. It was wrong, and made her feel voyeuristic. She only did it on the beach because she needed reassurance.

"Who doesn't like you?" The Doctor asked after a second. "Other than Thomas and other people who just don't like anyone, I mean."

"Lots of people," Rose replied with a shrug. "Let 'em. 'If you're holding out for universal popularity, I'm afraid you will be in this cabin for a very long time,'" she quoted.

"Ah, good ol' J.K.!" the Doctor exclaimed.

"Another thing that doesn't exist in this universe," Rose told him.

The Doctor groaned at that information. "Really?"

"Yeah, really. I looked her up when I found out that there was no Harry Potter here, and as far as I can tell, she never existed here," Rose informed him.

"Oh, well, that's rubbish." The Doctor said sadly.

The two of them sat in silence for a bit. While they sat, the Doctor stared out the small window into the darkening sky. She could practically see the storm clouds brewing in his mind.

"Penny for your thoughts?" she asked.

"Ah, now whaddaya wanna waste good money on that for?" the Doctor queried.

"I have plenty," she replied truthfully.

The Doctor looked at her a moment, then sighed, stuck his hands in his pockets, and looked back out the window.

"I don't know what I'm going to do," he admitted. "In the Prime universe, I'm a legend. There are galaxies where I'm feared, planets where I'm considered a god. My presence at events has both escalated and ended situations. I have allies and enemies. Here," he pulled a hand out of his pocket and waved at their surroundings, "I'm only some random bloke to everyone but a handful of people." The hand went back into his pocket. "All those times I've admired and even occasionally envied the lives of humans, I never actually wanted to be human myself. Well, humanish anyway."

Rose's heart was breaking. She stood up and moved over to stand next to him and hold his hand to let him know that she was there, but he wouldn't look at her, and he kept his hands in his pockets.

"Still," he continued, finally taking his hands out of his pockets, "maybe that's a good thing. Maybe I've gotten too big. Maybe it's time to retire from the world saving business. Maybe I'll build that airplane. Could write out the Harry Potter novels to pay for it. I'd be rich. Can you imagine me? Rich? Building airplanes and writing books? Wouldn't take me long to write the books either. The stories are already told."

He was gesturing wildly, and speaking like he had so long ago on an impossible planet orbiting a black hole.

"I'd just have to type them out," he continued to babble as he finally turned toward her. His eyes had that manic gleam in them, the one that Rose couldn't ever be sure was proper excitement, or hiding deep sorrow or panic.

"I can get them just right too, mind like a steel trap, me. Then I could write other stories. Stuff that really happened to me, and people would think them to be great big epic tales of fancy." He held his hands out a little more than shoulder wide with his fingers spread out and thrust them into the air about eye height to punctuate how big and epic the tales would be. It seemed this incarnation would talk with his hands a bit more than the last one.

"I'd even be able to do the language thing like Tolkien, and people would think it brilliant. Oh, Rose, did I ever tell you I met Tolkien once? Gave him a few Gallifreyan words to use as part of the Elvish language. Could have taught him a whole language to use, but I'd only recognized a few words and Johnny had to write the rest."

He saw that he wasn't fooling her, put his hands back in his pockets, and turned back to the window. "I could, we'll see," he finished, sniffing.

"You know," Rose ventured, "nothing has to be decided right away. Take some time to get to know who you are now, then decide what you want to do with this life, now that you're stuck on this rock with me."

He looked at her, the corner of his mouth turned up. "You know, stuck with you? That's not so bad," he repeated the words she had once told him on an impossible planet.

"Yeah?" she asked.

"Oh, yes."

XxXxXxXx

The Doctor and Rose folded the seats in the compartment down to reveal the mattresses and got ready for bed. They were still talking, though, about a wide variety of subjects. They had mutually and silently agreed to discuss topics other than being stuck here.

"...is there even a Disney here?" he finished as he put the pillow down in place.

"Yes, there is. Some of the colors may be different, some of the stories are different, but 'smostly the same. More than most things," she assured him.

Later, they were both lying in their bunks. The lights were off, and they faced each other. He wished they were together as they were the night before, but the bunks were too narrow for that.

"Who's the president now?" the Doctor asked.

"Harriet Jones still. She's in 'er second term now. Great woman, in both universes," Rose told him. "Maybe now she'll stop tryin' ta set me up," she added.

"I'll be watching her," he replied, thinking about what the Harriet Jones of their universe did.

"Watch her if ya want, but she's a friend of mine in this universe, and I just watched her die in our universe," Rose told him stiffly.

"Watched her die? What? When? How?" the Doctor fired off questions, shocked.

Rose told him what happened with the subwave network and how Harriet died by Dalek. "...and they shot her," she finished stoically. She closed her eyes and took a few deep breaths. "Wow, was that really just yesterday?" she asked after a minute.

"Yeah," was all he could manage in reply, softly.

They laid there in silence for a moment, when the Doctor asked the next, perfectly logical question.

"Was there ever anyone else?" he wondered.

Rose lifted her head back up and looked him in the eyes. "I went out a couple of times."

His hearts-no, heart clenched. Part of him was happy that she had moved on. It was a very small part, though. The rest of him was either hurt that she could move on, or wanted to find whoever she had went out with and strangle them.

She looked amused. "There's my jealous Doctor," she teased. "Relax, it was only to make my mum back off."

He relaxed an extreme amount at that information. "So, nothing serious then?" he asked to confirm.

"Oh, god, no. Mickey thought that since I didn' 'ave you, I'd go back to 'im. He asked me ta marry 'im. Bought the ring an' all. I said no, of course," she was quick to reassure him.

"When was this?" he asked, his voice uncontrollably high pitched.

"About two weeks after we got stuck here," Rose replied.

He grimaced at that. So much for Mickey-the-not-such-an-idiot-anymore.

"Then once a month for the first ten months I was stuck here before he finally got it in his head that ship had sailed," Rose finished. " After that, Mum tried to set me up. I had complained that he was stupid as a reason to not see him again. Then she kept trying to set me up with these pretty boys who thought they were brilliant."

"A bunch of pretty boys, huh?" the Doctor growled, remembering Rose's additions to the TARDIS crew in the past. At least Jack was useful. Smart enough to be allowed to work on the TARDIS.

Rose giggled. "Like you've got any reason to grumble about pretty boys. You look in the mirror any?"

Oh, that minx knew exactly what she was doing to him. He had to get away from this topic now, before he went over there and showed Rose just how brilliant he could be.

XxXxXxXx

The Doctor woke up to a banging noise and the voice of Jackie Tyler.

"Wake up, Doctor," she said.

He got up and trudged the couple of steps to the door and slid it open. On the other side, Jackie Tyler stood there, looking annoyed. What else was new?

"What do you want, Jackie?" he grumbled and wiped his face of the feeling of cobwebs.

"Good mornin' ta you too," she retorted. "We land in 'alf an hour. Rose sent me ta wake you up."

The Doctor looked back at the foldaway bed and realized that Rose wasn't there.

"Where is Rose?" he asked her mother.

"Oh, probably fightin' with Thomas again," Jackie replied with an eye roll. Apparently, it was a common occurrence. "Now get yourself ready." She ordered before she turned and walked away.

With a shake of his head, he slid the door closed and walked over to where he kept his suit jacket. On the chair that it was hanging over, he saw a small suitcase sitting there with its lid opened. Inside, on top of the items, there was a note laid out where it couldn't be missed. He picked it up and read it.

Good Morning Doctor,

I'll be back soon, I hope. In the meantime, Pete sent this case. It has some clothes in it that should fit you, or fit close enough anyway. Mum guessed your size and told him to send it.

I know how you are about your suit. It's just an option.

Rose

He looked at the clothes left for him. They were new, or close to new, and had even been ironed.

XxXxXxXx

Rose had just finished a call to one of the members of her team at Torchwood when the Doctor walked into the room.

"Hey, you're just in time-" she started as she turned toward him, then stopped speaking as her breath seemed to have disappeared.

He stood there, wearing the jeans and Oxford that had been left for him. He also wore his blue suit jacket.

His hair was done up more like it had been when he regenerated into that shape so long ago. But it was shorter now, so it still stuck up a little. And he had a couple of days worth of stubble.

He was the sexiest creature she had ever seen. Seeing a man who was usually casually dressed in a suit was hot. Seeing a man who was usually in a suit dressed more casually was a whole new level.

He looked down at his outfit self consciously. "It looks stupid, doesn't it?" he asked. "I'll just-"

"No!" Rose said, a little too quickly. "I, um, I jus' didn' expect ya to actually wear those."

"Almost didn't," he replied. "But I got to thinking, New me. Why not give it a try?" He looked down at his clothes again. "I dunno yet."

"You look good," Rose told him, resisting the urge to add anymore.

"So do you," he said sincerely, looking her up and down. She wore a silk, cream colored blouse, with ruffles at the neck and down the front. It had sleeves that went down to her elbows, then flared out. She also wore tan trousers, and her hair was pulled up in a messy bun.

"Thanks, but this," she gestured down to her outfit, "'snot me, it's Rose Tyler, Vitex Heiress."

"That's something I've been meaning to ask about," the Doctor said. "Back in that car, your mother had a story about why we were all in Norway and needing to be picked up. I got the feeling you all were used to having a story."

She shrugged and looked around, making sure no one else could hear her. "More'n that, we've even got our own spin doctor. Me an' Mum, we're from another universe. We're also part of a rich family that's in the spotlight. Much of my work is classified." She took a deep breath. "The cost of all of these things is playing a part. You have to have a story for every oddity, and life can be a constant performance."

"All the time?" the Doctor asked sadly.

"Not always," she replied. "I have a small group of friends who know who I really am, who I trust. All but one knew from the beginning who I was."

"That's good, right?," he asked. "To have some friends you can relax around?"

"Yeah. That's great," Rose assured him. "In fact, you already know one of them."

"Oh, really, who?" the Doctor asked interestedly.

"Jake Simmonds," she announced with a grin.

"Oh, Jakey-boy! How's he doing these days?"

"Great," she told him, grinning.

One of the people crewing the ship came up to the pair and informed them that landing was in five minutes. They sat down in the nearest seats and strapped themselves in.

"The thing is, Doctor. I sometimes get on the covers of tabloids and in newspapers, usually over a little thing. And now you're gonna wind up on them as well."

"You're worried about me doing something that'll have me dissected," the Doctor deduced.

"Well, that too," Rose admitted, "but we have that spin doctor, remember? He's good. No, I'm worried about how you'll take it when the sharks turn on you." She turned her head and looked away from him, biting her lip.

"You're worried I'll do a runner," he breathed out in realization. "Rose, look at me."

She closed her eyes for a moment.

"Rose, come on, Love, look at me." The term of endearment startled her into complying. That was new.

"It's just a few articles. I can't promise that I won't need to...take off once in a while, but I can promise that I'll never leave you behind, not unless you want to be."

He unbuckled his belt and came over to her, leaning down and cupping her face in his. "I love you, and I will not lose you again, especially not to something like that," he vowed.

As he leaned in to kiss her, the zeppelin landed with a hard bump, throwing him down to the floor.

Fighting a smile at his look of indignation, Rose announced, "We've finally arrived!"

She unbuckled herself while the Doctor picked himself off of the floor. The pair then walked out of the zeppelin. As the Doctor took her hand in his, she worried.

What would happen when the Doctor found out everything? There were things she needed to talk to him about, that she needed to know about, but she wasn't ready yet.

She saw a camera flash. Blimey, the paparazzi got started early today, didn't they? The sun wasn't even over the horizon yet.

Chapter Text

Starting Over Chapter 8: Home

The cab ride from the airfield was anything but peaceful. During it, the Doctor and Rose were fidgety, both for different reasons. Jackie babbled on, excited to get back home and see her son and husband. This was the longest she had been away from either of them.

"Rose, Sweethear', do you want to go straight to your place, or would ya like to come home?" Jackie asked when they first got in the cab.

"You have your own place?" the Doctor questioned. He had just assumed that she still lived with her parents. Well, her mum and Pete, who was technically her stepfather, but genetically her father. Before Rose could answer, however, her mother did.

"Yes, after Tony was born, she jus' had to move out. Couldn' get away fast enough." The tone of her voice told everything she thought about that. It held scorn and sadness.

"Jackie," Rose hissed at her mother with a pointed look at the driver. It was weird, watching Rose call her mother by her given name, well the shortened form of her given name.

Jackie's expression changed, and she said, "Please, sweethear', call me Mum," as if that were a conversation that they had several times. "I still don' see why you had to move out."

"We've gone over this before, I had several perfectly good reasons fer wantin' my own place, mos' of which involved me bein' an adult," Rose told her mother. "Now, jus' leave it."

This sounded like a typical parent/older child argument, and the domestics made the Doctor squirm.

"Well, which one is closer?" the Doctor asked, in the hope of derailing this argument before it really turned into an argument.

"They're abou' the same from 'ere, but if you wanna meet Tony now, we can go there. Or we can go to my place first an' visit Tony and Pete later, when Mum's done smotherin' 'im," Rose let him know.

"Oi, I'm not gonna smother 'im," Jackie protested.

The Doctor thought about it for a moment, weighing the pros and cons of each possibility. In the end, he decided not to overwhelm the little tike.

The fact that he'd have Rose truly to himself, in a different building than her mother didn't enter the equation at all, nope.

"Your place it is, for now," he said to Rose, who then turned to the driver and rattled off an address.

16 minutes, 37.2 seconds later and outside of London city limits, he stepped out of the car, followed by Rose. He looked up at the modest, single story house that Rose had been living in.

It was brick, with a small, concrete porch that had two steps leading up to it on the side nearest them, and a wheelchair ramp of all things on the other side. There was a very small yard, and it looked like they were standing in a small parking lot. This looked like an office or something.

While he was taking in the appearance of the outside of the house, Rose told her mother that they'd be over the next day. When the car left, Rose came up to him.

"So, whaddaya think?" she asked.

"It's not what I was expecting, for sure. I mean, when I learned you had your own place, I was picturing a small flat, not..." he trailed off and gestured to the house.

"An old doctor's office?" Rose asked knowingly. She gave her Rose Tyler Grin™, complete with pink tongue sticking out of the corner of her mouth.

"Oh, well that would explain the parking lot and wheelchair ramp, wouldn't it?" he commented. "Why're you living in a an old doctor's office?" he asked with a raised eyebrow.

"Come on, I'll tell ya the story over a cuppa," she said, and went up the stairs.

XxXxXxXx

Rose realized when she got to the door that she didn't have her keys. They were at Torchwood with her car keys and car.

"Damn," she muttered and went to go around to the back of the house to get the spare she had buried.

"Did you forget something?" The Doctor asked before she could take a step.

"Yeah, my keys. I'm going to ge-" she replied, then she noticed the sonic screwdriver in his hand, and wanted to smack herself in the forehead for her stupidity. "Oh, duh."

To his credit, the Doctor didn't say anything about her gaff as he let them in. He did, however, smirk.

A few seconds later, they both stood in the living room, looking around. The Doctor looked curious, and Rose couldn't believe how surreal this all was. The Doctor stood in her living room.

The Doctor was there, with her, in her house.

Suddenly, she felt a bit self conscious. It wasn't intentional, but she was living in an old doctor's office, for Christ-sake. She bought it partially because it had a wonky floor plan that sort of reminded her of the TARDIS. And what was he gonna say when he saw her office? Part of her wanted to leave him in the living room and at least go hide the cork board.

The cork board that was held to the wall with screws in the corners, because that's what she had at the time and didn't want to wait. Screw it, let him see it. Let him know how much she missed him.

"I know it's a bit bland. Never really had time to do much with it," Rose explained. "Okay, guess it's time for the dime tour. This is the living room. It was originally a waiting room." The living room was a basic off white color. There was a black couch on one wall with a dark mahogany, oval coffee table in front of it, and a TV in the corner. The only really personal touch to that part of the room was a colourful afghan bunched up on the couch. The other half of the living room was mostly empty, with a flatpack bookshelf still in its unopened box laying on the floor.

"The little library over there that's threatening to spill out into the rest of the living room was originally the receptionists office." One corner of the long room had two hallways coming from it, and between those hallways, was a small room with a half wall that was full of books.

"You've got a little library!" the Doctor enthused. He then went over to the half wall and picked up one of the books on top of it. His eyebrows scrunched up.

"Entanglement theory, huh?" he said, holding up the book.

Rose just shrugged, trying to keep a straight face. He hadn't noticed the rest of the books yet. This was going to be good.

"Casimir Effect, Special and General Relativity..." he continued. As he went through the books on top of the little counter made by the half wall, his eyebrows went higher and higher. Suddenly, he went around the half wall and started to scan the spines of the books that were properly sitting on the shelves. He pulled out several slim stacks of paper and glanced over the titles.

When he got to the bottom, he popped back up and looked at Rose incredulously. "Did you know that a third of your library is texts on what humans of this time frame would call theoretical physics?"

"Seeing as I put them there, yeah, I did," Rose said. It took everything she had to keep her straight face but she wanted to see this through, and breaking out in laughter would stop it.

"Theoretical physics, temporal physics, quantum physics, spacial physics," the Doctor listed various types of sciences Rose had books on. "There's mechanical engineering books as well. Did you read these?" he asked.

"A lot of them," she replied. She nodded and bit her lip. The Doctor looked down at the books. When he looked back up at her, he opened his mouth several times and closed it again. His reaction was satisfying.

"Whaddaya need to read all this for?" he finally asked. She could see the gears turning in his head.

"Because I needed to know some of this stuff," Rose replied. "Pan-Dimensional transport doesn' jus' build itself, ya know."

Her very strange mind supplied a cartoon light bulb over his head when he finally got it. "You...you actually built that?" he asked in awe.

"I 'ad 'elp," she replied sheepishly. "A whole lotta help," she emphasized. "And, I've forgotten some of what I learned, or maybe most of it. If I didn' use it, I probably don' remember it."

"You learned physics!" the Doctor exclaimed delightedly.

"I learned physics," she affirmed as she scrunched up her nose to indicate her displeasure with the subject. "And maths and such so I could throw myself 'cross 'undreds of universes, so I could-" she stopped herself before she could say something she'd regret.

The Doctor's face dropped, and he looked like he was about to start apologizing again. She swore she'd smack him if he said those words right then.

"What's this room?" the Doctor asked with a sudden change in demeanor, pointing at the room next to the little library. It stood alone, like an island. None of its four walls were shared with any other room.

"'S empty righ' now," she told him, grateful for the return to the tour. "It was the previous owner's darkroom. Dunno what it was before." The Doctor opened the door and peeked inside the empty room.

"And this is the loo," she said, pointing to the door of the room that shared a wall with the almost empty part of the living room. "The wall was moved for it, to put in the tub."

The Doctor stepped inside, to look at the simple bathroom. The tub was large. Larger than the size of the bathroom would suggest it to be. The oval of it was situated diagonally, and it had a built in seat in the corner. The sink and loo were simple, left over from the original office. The mirror had been replaced with a nice medicine cabinet.

"It's nice," the Doctor commented. "Love the tub." He waggled his eyebrows flirtatiously, causing Rose to blush.

"I love it too," she told him, composing herself. "'S relaxing. This next room is the laundry room, used to be a second loo," Rose continued her quick tour. The Doctor just peeked in for a second. A laundry room was a laundry room, and neither of them were keen on doing laundry.

"This is the kitchen-slash-dining room," Rose announced. The entrance was the widest doorway in the house, a little over twice the width of the doors. "This used ta be two rooms, but a wall was taken out from righ' 'ere." she waved her arm right in the center of the entrance.

The kitchen's floor was black and white chessboard with white walls, except for behind the counter, which was white tile with the occasional black one stuck in randomly. The dining room area had a small, round table with two chairs sitting at it. Two more chairs were sitting against the wall.

Rose went over to the counter and grabbed the kettle.

"So, how did you come to live here?" the Doctor asked while the kettle filled. Oh, that's right, she promised a story over tea.

She turned back to him and leaned against the counter. "While Mum was pregnant, I decided that I needed to have my own space. At first I was jus' gonna find a flat, but Jake said something about this place, and, on a lark, I decided to look into it."

"Jake found this place?" the Doctor asked.

"Yeah, his boyfriend lived not too far from here," Rose explained.

"Ah," the Doctor replied.

"Anyway, the man who owned this place retired, and instead of selling his practice, he decided to fix it up as a place to live in and sold his house. 'M guessin' part of it was because of the wheelchair ramp out front and no stairs inside the living spaces. With the odd floorplan, the fact that there's no cupboards, and the original owner having just died-"

"Your water is-" the Doctor started.

Rose cursed and spun around to see the kettle overflowing. She shut off the water, and poured a little out. She then put it on the stove and turned it on.

"Well, that's gonna be a mo', and no, you can't sonic it to make it go faster," Rose said, pointing her finger at the part human man. The Doctor opened his mouth to protest, but before he could say anything, Rose asked, "shall we finish the tour while we wait?"

"Yeah, might as well," the Doctor replied. They left the room and turned left, towards the back of the house. "Did you say the previous owner died?" he prompted.

"Yeah, 'e 'ad a 'eart attack," Rose told him as she opened the next door. "This is the bedroom. It used to be two rooms, plus a bit of hallway where the door for the room in the corner was."

The bedroom held a decent sized bed, with just enough room on either side to walk and have a night stand, though only one side had a nightstand. On the other side of the room, there stood a metal clothes rack like you'd find in a department store and a dresser.

"Think I'll put that cupboard right there, maybe big enough to walk in," Rose mused mostly to herself, looking at the corner where the clothes rack stood. She left the room and went to the next one, with the Doctor following her silently.

"Office," she pointed out as she walked to the door. The Doctor stepped inside and took a look. The original cabinets from when this was a physician's office were still on one of the walls, and under it, were some filing cabinets. Another corner held a large desk, with a desktop computer and a printer on it.

Above the printer, a cork board was screwed to the wall, and on the cork board, there were several pictures of the Doctor and Rose.

The Doctor stood in the middle of the room, taking it in, like he had done with the other. When he saw the part of the wall with the cork board on it, he stilled. Rose wondered what he'd make of this.

She stood there, in the doorway with her arms crossed, watching the Doctor look at the photos pinned to the wall.

"That's just- where did you get these?" the Doctor asked.

XxXxXxXx

The Doctor looked at the pictures on the wall in shock. He didn't know she had these. He asked her where she got them from as he ran his fingers over a couple of the pictures.

"Most of them came off the mobile I had when I ...fell. Technology here is compatible with just about anything, remember? These," she pointed to a couple of pictures that were taken before they went to this universe the first time and added, "these were from the mobile we left with Mickey."

Those pictures included a few from the time when Jack joined them. There were a few Jack and Rose selfies, one of them where they were obviously very drunk. There was a picture of the Doctor asleep under the console, sonic in hand. One picture had Rose wearing his leather jacket and she was holding his sonic. In another one, it was obviously taken a few moments later, the Doctor was in his red jumper and had his hand out for the sonic.

Pictures from after the regeneration included one where Rose was leaning against the TARDIS. She wore his coat and held the sonic again. The tails of the coat laid on the ground. She was even wearing his glasses. He remembered taking that one. It was only two hours before they meant to go to the Ian Drury concert, but wound up in Scotland.

Then there were other pictures, some he didn't even know existed. The Doctor in his suit dancing at the console, himself kicked back with a book in hand, the tunic he wore in Rome, with the sonic stuck in his belt like an absurd sword, a couple of angles of his 50's hair.

There were twenty-two pictures pinned to the board.

He was glad that she had something from their time together while they were apart. He had her whole room, and a lot of stuff from the Tyler home to boot.

"I didn't know you had any pictures," The Doctor said in wonder as he turned towards Rose. Something in her posture relaxed, and she walked toward him.

"Neither did I, at firs'," Rose replied. "Then Mickey brought me the printed pictures from the phone we left him with, and I realized there might be a few more on the phone I had."

The Doctor turned his gaze back to the wall, and noticed two pictures that were different from the others. They were higher resolution, but he was in the background. He wore a black tuxedo and carried a serving tray. In one picture, he was alone, and a woman was picking up a nibble. In the other, he and Rose had their heads together and were talking about something.

"You've got pictures from the party!" he exclaimed happily.

"Yeah. Apparently the photographer dropped his camera, and it was picked up later. Pete has all of the pictures from that night, and I've got a couple of them now," She explained. "These are all copies of the originals, which are locked away in a fire proof safe at the mansion."

"Why do you have them on a corkboard?" the Doctor asked. "Not that there's anything wrong with a corkboard, I'm sure it's a perfectly fine corkboard."

"It was easy to have them all out, like my adventure wall back ho- on the TARDIS," Rose quickly tried to cover up the fact that she was going to call the TARDIS "home." He didn't mind. Back then, the TARDIS had been home. He understood.

Wait.

Rose's "adventure" wall!

"Oh, Rose, I've got something for you," he proclaimed excitedly. "Do you have a space where I can lay stuff out? There's a bit in these pockets," he explained.

"Yeah, two more rooms, an' we'll be done," she said with a grin and walked out of the room, beckoning. He followed her past the back door. She opened the door of a room, which had boxes sitting in it.

"This is the old x-ray room, it's lined with 2 mm thick lead," she informed him.

"Interesting," the Doctor said, nodding. "Protected a bit from certain outside influences."

"No experiments in the house," she ordered firmly.

"But Rose!" he protested "Where am I supposed to-"

"I would like to be able to keep the house, and you tend to blow things up," she said with a stern look.

He couldn't argue with that, not much anyway. He'd revisit that discussion later.

They walked past the next door, which was open. It was another room, about the same size as the office. This one was completely empty.

"Empty room," she informed him quickly. "'S jus' a room."

Just then, the kettle gave its whistle in the kitchen, signaling that the water was ready. He stiffened at the sound. Rose jumped and spun around quickly, as if she were ready to single-handedly prevent a global invasion. She then relaxed and laughed weakly.

"Forgot I put the kettle on," she admitted sheepishly. "I'll jus'-" she gestured in the direction of the kitchen.

"Oh, yeah, go ahead," he assured her.

"Then we can find a good place to lay out your stuff so I can see what kinda goodies you brough' me," she said as she walked towards the kitchen.

"Actually, the kitchen table will do just fine," he told her, following her to the room.

"Fantastic!" Rose exclaimed. She went to the kettle and set about making two cups of tea. "Still take yours the same way?" Rose asked over her shoulder.

"Yeah, I think," The Doctor replied. It was a new tongue, but he was sure he'd like his tea the same way.

"Okay, so back to my story earlier," Rose started. "Jake knew I was looking for a place, an' 'e saw this house. He told me to go check it out, and on a lark, I went with 'im. I loved the fact that it had an odd floorplan, an' it was a lot cheaper to live 'ere. There was just one problem; it was far from work. Then Jake reminded me that I had my gizmo. Oh, look at me," she scoffed. "They've got me callin' it that now."

"Yeah, your Mum mentioned that when we were in the car, what's your 'Gizmo'?" he asked.

"Personal teleport," Rose told him. "Carryin' one, you can go up to lower earth orbit, carrying two reduces the range to abou' 100 miles, an' carrying three, it can only safely go abou' 30 miles. Everyone calls it my gizmo, 'cause 'm the one who got the original one to work."

"How'd ya do that?" he queried. He was impressed.

"I recognized it from that trip to the planet with the orange grass and the really stumpy trees. Where was that?"

"Yanilorn," he replied, automatically. They had gotten married for the eighth time on Yanilorn. It had been a necessary measure since an unmarried woman couldn't have her head uncovered. People teleported when they needed to go somewhere. The teleport coordinates worked based on where you were, not where you needed to be, like most other similar devices. It was easier to use in some ways.

"Yanilorn," she repeated. "Good day. I remembered wha' it was and tried it out, but it didn' work. Pried the cover off, an' there was a burned out fuse. Dunno what ta call it, but it worked like a fuse. Had the guys in research make a new one from an identical one that worked righ'. Now, 22 people carry one for emergencies."

"Rose Tyler, look at you," he praised.

"I replaced a fuse. Didn' even do that." She rolled her eyes.

While Rose made their tea and told her stories, he pulled things out of his trans-dimensional pocket. The pile on the table grew larger until he finally got to what he was searching for. While he talked with her and searched through his pockets, he also thought about Rose's reaction to a simple kettle. He had forgotten about the tea as well, but he had only stiffened up at the sound. Her reaction suggested something he didn't want to think about.

Rose came over with two mugs and eyed the pile on the table.

"Don' think I'll ever get completely used to the 'bigger on the inside' concept," she commented.

"Trans-dimensional engineering is child's play," the Doctor sniffed as he accepted the mug meant for him. He blew on the surface of the liquid and took an experimental sip. Perfect. He hummed happily.

"Child's play, huh?" Rose snorted.

"Yep," he bragged, popping the 'p'. "I learned the basics when I was 11 years old."

Rose stared at him, with her eyes wide. "You're kiddin', righ'?"

"No," he replied.

"Of course," she mumbled.

"That was when everyone learned how to do that," the Doctor replied. He handed her a stack of the photos he had taken from her room on the timeship and grabbed the other half of them out of his pocket and laid them on the table. He then began piling up the other items he had that were originally taken from 48 Bucknall House.

When he was finished pulling the bits out of his pockets that had been taken from Rose's room, he looked over at the woman. She flipped through the photos in her hand quickly, then put them down and fanned out the ones on the table. She then picked up the tiny jewelry box with hands that subtly shook and looked inside. One of her hands went to her mouth, and a sob came out.

"Sorry I couldn't bring everything," he apologized, "it wouldn't all fit."

She quickly put down the box and faced him. There were tear tracks that had previously been hidden by a curtain of her hair. She moved towards him and wrapped her arms around his neck, burying her nose into the collar of his jacket.

He wrapped his arms around her waist. He didn't know what else to do, or quite why she was crying. He hoped it was one of those happy cries.

"Thank you," she whispered. She kissed his neck, then his jaw, then his lips.

Chapter Text

 

 

Rose looked through the stack of photos the Doctor had given her in amazement. The pictures included some from before her parents were married, of their wedding (she caught a leather covered arm in one), images from her childhood, of her grandparents and various other relatives.

She then fanned out the stack that the Doctor had laid on the table. Most of those were of her and the Doctor in various places and included some with her Doctor back when he wore leather, and when they ran with Jack. She never thought that she'd see any of these again; that it'd all been lost in another universe. Her vision became watery and she blinked back the tears that had threatened to fall.

Rose picked up the first of the small trinkets that had been taken from her room and the flat she used to live in; a tiny jewelry box that she dimly remembered sitting on her mother's dresser. Her hands subtly shook as she looked inside. When she saw the gold bands laying on top of the other pieces of jewelry jumbled inside, one of her hands went to her mouth, and a sob came out.

"Sorry I couldn't bring everything," the Doctor apologized, "it wouldn't all fit." Oh, that daft alien.

She quickly put down the box and hugged him, wrapping her arms around his neck and burying her nose into the collar of his jacket. He wrapped his arms around her waist. She could tell that he was a bit confused, so she whispered, "Thank you."

She softly kissed his neck. Then she remembered that she could do more, so she moved up to his jaw and placed a light kiss there, then over to his lips to place a chaste kiss as a thank you.

The Doctor held to her tighter, and their kiss deepened, despite intentions on both sides to keep it simple. Held tight against him, she could feel him hardening and at the same time she registered that, he moaned softly. He immediately stilled and pulled back a little. For a moment, Rose had to fight the old instinct to back away and start talking about something else entirely, which was their old standard when things got too personal.

The only thing that kept her still was the fact that he kept his hands on her hips, closed his eyes, and put his forehead to hers. His breath was labored and a little ragged. They stayed that way for a moment, until Rose asked, "Are you okay?"

The Doctor pulled his head away from hers, opened his eyes, and gazed into hers. "I'm alright, better than that actually," he replied with a smile that actually lit up his eyes. Because of that, Rose believed he was telling the truth. "You're the one who was just crying, Rose," he added.

"Happy tears," Rose promised him. He nodded, as if that confirmed what he thought and reached up to wipe tears away from her cheek.

"You've got a bit of mascara running, there," the Doctor helpfully pointed out.

Rose left to go to the bathroom and sort herself out. When she got a look at herself in the mirror, she grimaced. Her face looked a mess. While she used a lot less makeup than she used to, she still used a good amount on her eyes. She had slightly more than 'a bit' of mascara that had run down her cheeks. Rose washed her face and, after a moment's consideration, decided to leave it bare for the time being while she was in the house.

She looked at herself in the mirror again after she dried her face. Rose thought that she looked younger without the makeup, younger than she knew she was. She also noticed that she actually looked happy, a look she hadn't seen in a mirror in quite some time.

Instantly, Rose was filled with guilt. How could she be happy knowing that there was another Doctor over in her home universe who was hurting? She had seen the way he looked at her; felt the way he clutched at her when they'd finally had a proper hug. When he ran toward her on that deserted street, she was sure she had never seen him moving so fast before without being chased. He'd put everything into that run. What the Doctor, the Doctor here with her, had said on the beach had clenched it for her.

The Doctor had been hurting, and she'd just kissed someone who was no longer him right in front of him. No wonder he'd turned away and left without saying goodbye. She hated herself for her impulse.

"Stop it, stop it, stop it," she hissed at herself before she could go any further with her self recrimination. "He made 'is choice, an' 'e chose to manipulate me into leavin' 'im. He's still got Donna, he'll be fine," she told herself. "Forget 'im, Rose. Focus on the one who stayed 'ere with you."

Feeling better after her argument with herself, Rose left the tiny bathroom and went back to the kitchen. The pile of stuff that was on the table had disappeared, probably back into his enormous pockets, leaving only the mementos and cups of tea on the table.

The Doctor sat at the small table, nursing his tea, and apparently deep in thought. She looked him over, without scrutiny from him this time. She really loved the jeans and suit jacket combination. Speaking of which...

XxXxXxXx

The Doctor sat at the table after putting the stuff back in his pocket and picked up his tea. He berated himself for getting carried away a moment before. They'd agreed to take it slow and relearn each other. He turned his thoughts to what he'd learned about her in the last few days.

There was her tattoo, which he still needed to ask about. Her teleport, which he was proud of. The physics and engineering, which he was extremely proud of. She had her own house, which was a bit weird for a house, but was alright. He noticed that the windows had blinds, not drapes, and there were no carpets. There was also the matter of her jumping at the sound of the kettle, which, when coupled with Jackie's words about how she woke up, scared him. Finally, there was her comfort level with guns, which he absolutely did not approve of, but then again, she was jumping into an area infested with Daleks, he couldn't blame her.

He turned his head towards Rose when she entered the room. Her face was clean of all makeup, which was something he was happy to see. She looked much better without it, in his opinion. Tasted better too. Though he had developed a fondness for what she did to her eyes with her mascara.

When Rose sat in the other chair and reached for her tea, the Doctor asked her, "So, does this place have a mortgage?" He didn't mean for his voice to be quite that high.

Rose busted out laughing and shook her head. Her reaction was so funny that the Doctor couldn't help but laugh a bit with her. When her laughs died down, she wiped the tears that had gathered at the corner of her eyes and shook her head again.

"There's no mortgage, actually," she informed him, laughter still in her voice. "After I looked at this place, it was bought, and I was all, like, 'snot meant to be.' A few weeks later, it was Christmas, and one of my presents was an envelope, containin' the deed. Pete bought it for me," she told him. "Guess 'e thought I should 'ave my own place too." She pointed her finger at the Doctor and told him, "Never tell Mum, she doesn't know. Dad doesn't want 'er to know."

He made the 'zipping my lips' motion and got a smile from her. He didn't need an explanation for that. Jackie obviously hadn't wanted her daughter to move out of the Tyler mansion.

The James Bond theme tune played. Rose scrunched up her eyebrows and reached into the pocket of her trousers to pull her mobile out. "They weren't supposed to call me unless there was an invasion," she groaned.

The Doctor sincerely hoped that there wasn't an invasion. Well, most of him hoped for no invasion yet, a smaller part wanted to take his mind off his new found mortality, exile to another universe, and having to live the slow path.

He listened to Rose and Pete's quick conversation on the phone. Pete had let Rose know that he'd received the paperwork, and that he would do everything he could to make sure that there would be no record of paperwork being created for the Doctor, or Johnathan Alexander Storm Smith. At that news, Rose appeared to be relieved. After a few, more mundane sounding questions and Pete's assurance that if they needed anything, they could ask him, Rose hung up the mobile and stood up to take a notepad off the fridge. He knew what this was about.

"We're about to make a list, aren't we?" he asked, scrunching up his nose. "Oh, I hate lists. Lists are boring."

"I wanna make sure we don't miss anything," Rose replied.

By the time they had made two lists, he knew for a fact, that it was going to be a long, long day. Had they really only been off the zeppelin for two hours?

He hated shopping.

XxXxXxXx

They took a taxi to Torchwood, where Rose's car was parked. The Doctor babbled the whole way about how they didn't need to do this right now, or maybe not all of it right then.

"Maybe we could go visit Tony?" the Doctor asked, hopefully when they stepped out of the black car.

"You don't want to be anywhere near the mansion for a few days," Rose warned.

"Why's that?" he queried.

"Mum's gonna be in a slappin' mood," she simply told him. Pete was going to be angry with her mum, her mum was going to be angry with Pete, and Tony was going to be smothered.

"Oh, never mind," the Doctor replied with a wince. Rose had to hold back a smile at that.

"Okay," Rose stopped him before they came to the building "You have no ID yet, so 'no wandering off,'" she told him with a cheeky grin.

"Ah, and should I follow that rule as well as you follow it?" he questioned with one eyebrow raised.

"No, seriously, if you're not with me, they'll detain you," she told him, feeling a little bit of fear at the thought.

"You don't trust them?" he asked shrewdly.

"For most things, yes, but at the end of the day, it's a bunch of humans with access to higher technology and a lot of power. Personally, I don' trust the whole one bit," she admitted in a low voice that was almost a whisper. "That's why I didn't wan' a record of you gettin' an identity. There's a few people I truly trust, though."

"Why are we coming here today? Were you going to show me your-" the Doctor started, but Rose shushed him.

"Don' talk about it away from it. A very, very small handful of people know it even exists," she whispered. "As for why we're here today, It's jus' to get the pictures for your ID cards. The sooner that's finished, the better."

"Couldn't we, just, I don't know, take the pics ourselves?" the Doctor asked.

"I wish it were tha' simple," Rose informed him, "But there's codin' in the pictures, tells when and where they were taken an' prevents forgery."

"That's, brilliant, actually," the Doctor said, impressed.

Rose walked right in through the parking garage entrance of the building that was known to most people as simply, "The Tower," and past the guards. They nodded at her and greeted her with, "Good morning, Miss Tyler."

They went to a large office on the third floor to have the photos taken. Rose walked in with all the authority she could muster and talked with the woman behind the desk.

XxXxXxXx

The Doctor looked around at the insides of the building they were in. As far as he could tell, it was identical to the building he had lost her in. How could Rose stand to work here? The place had him on edge, and not just because of the building being the parallel version of the place he lost the love of his lives. He couldn't help but think about Rose's admission, that she didn't trust these people. Her reasoning was sound, a bunch of humans with too much power and access to technology. They'd both seen what that did in the other Torchwood, and they both knew that the same things had been happening here before the People's Republic took over.

They walked down the stark halls to a lift and went up a couple of floors. On the third floor, they walked into a large office with high counters. Rose straightened up, walked to the counter, and cleared her throat to catch the attention of a bored looking woman who apparently hadn't noticed them yet.

The woman looked up, startled, then turned back to her screen. She closed what looked suspiciously like a card game, and gave her attention to the Doctor. "What can I do for you?" she asked him as her eyes flicked up and down, taking him in. The Doctor recognized the look.

"I need updated photos," Rose ordered in a hard voice, letting the woman know who she should talk to. As he expected, Rose recognized that look too. He felt a bit of satisfaction at her jealousy.

"What's your name?" she asked him as she pushed a logbook at Rose

"Johnathan," The Doctor replied, "but everyone just calls me 'Doctor.' What's yours?"

"Selene. Like a medical doctor?" she asked.

"I've got some skills in that area, but more like a scientist," the Doctor answered.

Rose made a show of writing in the logbook and closed it hard, causing Selene to jump. She looked towards Rose with an annoyed expression. "Your authorization," she ordered curtly.

Rose reached into an inner pocket of her blue jacket and pulled out a battered leather wallet. She flipped it open with a fluid motion and showed the woman, who then went over to a computer that was hooked up to a boxy looking camera in the corner.

"Where did you get that?" the Doctor whispered, having caught a glimpse of the psychic paper inside before Rose put it back in her pocket.

"It's yours," she replied, her voice a hair lower than his. He knew he had his in his pocket, so- oh. So that's where it had disappeared to. She'd had it on her in Canary Wharf. It was one mystery solved. He'd landed himself in jail after not being able to provide his 'papers'. From the way she handled it, she'd gotten some use out of it, and that was great. Definitely worth more than the day he spent locked up and had to escape.

He stood by the height chart and let Selene take his picture. The light from the camera left spots on his eyes for a moment, which was a new phenomenon. Must be this part human body. He made to move away, but Rose stopped him.

"We're not done yet," Rose told him.

"We're not?" he asked.

"Nope," Rose replied, popping the 'p' a little.

The woman behind her just shook her head and rolled her eyes. "We can't use the same picture for the various identifications," she explained.

"It's also better if we make the different pictures look like they were taken on different days," Rose said in a voice low enough the other woman couldn't tell what she was saying.

"How do you plan on doing that?" the Doctor asked, raising one eyebrow. Rose gave him a mischievous grin and looked up at his hair. Suddenly, he knew at least part of the plan.

Rose reached up, and laced her fingers through his hair to make it lay a different way. It had been sort of flat, because he didn't have any product in his hair. After a few adjustments, she smiled and nodded. Her hands left his head, and trailed down his front, to the buttons holding his blue suit jacket closed. He swallowed thickly as her hands moved down, transfixed by the gesture. She stared into his eyes as she popped the first button, then moved down to the other and popped it as well.

From the look in her eyes, he knew that she knew exactly what she was doing to him.

At the moment, he was glad that she was staring into his eyes and not down at what she was doing, because she'd surely notice something else just a bit lower. It was only seeing the other woman, who looked angry behind Rose that kept him from doing anything.

Damn this body. Damn its hormones and lack of endocrine control. Judging from Rose's ragged breathing, she was similarly affected. Control yourself, you're not an animal, and there's others in the room, he thought.

A cough sounded, and Rose jumped back, suddenly reminded that they weren't the only people in the room. They glanced over at Selene, who looked annoyed and made a 'hurry it up' gesture. Rose stepped back and gave him a critical look.

"Pop that top button?" she suggested with an eyebrow up. The top button was actually undone, so the Doctor immediately undid the next button of his oxford with a smirk in her direction. Two could play this game. He was rewarded by the look on her face as he undid the button. Somehow, gaining control of their little game helped him gain some measure of control over himself.

"Look at the camera, Mr. Smith," Selene ordered. He did so, and a second later, his retinas were assaulted once again.

"How many more of these do we need to do?" the Doctor asked Rose a second later, rubbing his eyes.

"Just one more," Rose replied. She came forward again, adjusted his hair, and stepped back quickly, apparently not playing their game anymore. "Take off your jacket," she commanded him, her voice businesslike.

"Yes, Ma'am," he replied cheekily.

Her expression wasn't very businesslike as he took off his jacket. It was predatory. Oh, she was still playing the game.

XxXxXxXx

Rose was flirting dangerously with the Doctor, taking it as far as she dared go with witnesses. She'd used the pictures as an excuse to run her fingers through that really great hair a couple of times, unbutton his jacket, get him to unbutton his shirt a little, and finally take off his jacket. All of it was well past the point of being able to blame it on the situation, but she felt comfortable enough to push the old boundaries after several full blown snogs over the past few days.

Her little game also served as a distraction for the Doctor. She could tell how on edge he was while walking through those corridors, and how nervous having his picture taken was making him. Part of her kicked herself for telling him just how much she didn't trust them. The larger part, however, knew that he needed to know. He might be part human now, but he was still very alien.

"Why did you use the psychic paper?" the Doctor asked in a low voice when they stepped out of the office, photos in hand.

"Because I didn't want any more record of that session than I had to," Rose replied in a whisper. "The logbook? I never wrote anything in it," she added and grinned.

"Oh, you are devious," the Doctor praised as they stepped back into the lift. Rose pressed the button for the top floor. "Rose Tyler, were you jealous?" he asked as soon as the doors were closed.

Rose stood up straighter and stared at the doors as the lift rose to the top floor. "I don't know what you're talking about. I don't get jealous," she denied. The Doctor snorted in reply. "Shut up," Rose protested, unable to keep a straight face.

The Doctor gave her a goofy grin and went to say something, but the doors opened and gave a ding. He changed his mind and hurriedly stepped out of the lift.

"So, where are we now?" he asked, looking around.

"Top floor," Rose answered, leading him down the corridor.

"What for?" he wondered.

"Gotta drop these off to the righ' person," Rose replied.

"Looking forward to meeting this right person," the Doctor replied. He wanted to know the people Rose truly trusted here.

"Oh, you've already met 'im," Rose replied as she came to a stop in front of a door marked "Peter Tyler Director."

Chapter Text

The Doctor watched Rose walk through the door that featured her father's name and followed her with a bit of trepidation. He had only met a version of Peter Tyler three times before, and every single time, the world was ending. If he were a less sophisticated man, he might have said that Peter Alan Tyler was bad luck.

They stepped into a small, simple office with a single desk and two chairs by the wall. A woman with short, chestnut colored hair sat at the desk, typing.

"Mr. Tyler's not available right now, you need to ma-" She stopped speaking when she looked up and saw Rose. "Rose!" she squealed, got up out of her chair, and enveloped the blonde woman in a hug. "I thought I'd never see you again!"

Rose stiffened up and looked baffled, as well as a little sad when the woman threw her arms around her. After a moment, she relaxed and returned the hug. Then she pulled back from the hug. "Oh, well, plans, change, ya know?" Rose said. She tried for nonchalant, but even though they had been apart from one another for years and she'd apparently learned a lot of things he hoped she'd never need to know, he could tell she was anything but unconcerned. He wouldn't have even needed to know the story behind those changed plans to know that.

The woman turned and openly regarded the Doctor. Suddenly, her eyes lit up and her mouth dropped open. "Are you- oh, my God, you are, aren't you?" she squealed and jumped a little.

"Maybe?" the Doctor asked, a bit embarrassed. "Um, who is it you think I am?"

"The Doctor!" she squeaked.

He nodded dumbly, which prompted more squeals from the woman. He opened his mouth, but closed it again, speechlessly shocked and looked over to Rose. She just stood there, looking amused and slowly shaking her head.

"Rose, aren't you gonna introduce us properly?" the woman chided.

"Oh, right, I've got no manners anymore. Doctor, this is Chelsea Grammer. She's Pete's secretary an' PA. Chels, this is Johnathan Smith, better known as the Doctor," she introduced.

Chelsea stuck out her hand. "Hello Doctor, it's wonderful to meet you. I never thought I would!" The Doctor took her hand and shook it, bemused.

The door to the inner office opened, and a tall, thin man in a black suit stepped out. He barely glanced at Chelsea, Rose, and the Doctor on his way out.

"Pete, Rose and the Doctor are here," she called into the room.

"Alright, send 'em in," came the voice of Pete Tyler. "Oh, and Chels?"

"Yes?" she asked.

"Could you order a box of Jackie's favorite chocolates and a single, red rose?" he asked. Chelsea immediately went to go do that.

"Uh, oh," Rose muttered as they stepped inside the office.

"Your mother's mad at me, 'cause I'm mad at her," Peter Tyler explained.

"For what it's worth, I agree with you," Rose replied.

"So, Pete Tyler, how have you been?" the Doctor changed the subject. "I hear you're properly a father now, congratulations! Can't wait to meet that boy of yours. If he's anything like his sister he'll be very jeopardy friendly and..." he trailed off at Rose's glare. "Brilliant, just absolutely brilliant."

"Oh, he's a handful, alright," Pete chuckled. "Welcome to this universe, Doctor. Glad you're here."

"I'm glad to be here," the Doctor earnestly replied with a smile. "Wellll, not glad to be here," he amended and gestured out the window to indicate the world, "but I'm perfectly happy to be here," he gestured towards Rose, who blushed a little.

"That's good," Pete said. He turned to Rose. "I wasn't expecting you this morning. You two've got those Ident pictures finished already?" he asked.

"My car was still 'ere," Rose explained. "You did say, 'the sooner the better,' so I figured we might as well get it done while we were already 'ere at the buildin'." She handed the envelope with the freshly printed and chipped pictures to her parallel father.

"Might as well," Pete agreed, looking through the pictures. "Oh, I see you look different in each picture. Good idea. What're you doing after you leave here?"

"Shopping," Rose replied with a grin.

The Doctor couldn't hide his grimace at the word. Unless it was parts, he didn't like to shop. He'd already tried- unsuccessfully- to get out of shopping, but he couldn't deny that he did need things. He only had a handful of suits, no shirts, ties, socks, pants, etc.

Pete chuckled at his grimace. "Jacks made me go shopping once, said she was tired of seeing me in nothing but grey and black suits. I told her I could fix that by wearing n-"

"Don't wanna hear that!" Rose interrupted quickly, squeezing her eyes shut. It was funny, and the Doctor couldn't help but chuckle.

"Speaking of suits," Pete said to the Doctor, "I've never seen you wearing anything but a suit or tux before. I take it Chelsea found something that met with your approval?"

"Yep. I figured, new me, let's try something new. Never thought jeans would be this comfortable. Well, I used to wear jeans before. Jeans and leather, but not since Christmas," the Doctor replied, glancing down at the garment in question. He caught Rose eyeing him up from the corner of his eye and shot her a wink.

"Thanks for that," he added quickly, before Rose could call him rude.

"No problem," Pete said as he turned toward the desk. "And if you need anything, you can come to us," he added as he picked up a pair of photos.

"Rose, while I've got you here," he started, "Early this morning, just after your debrief, your team was called out for an unknown fallen object. They found this," he told her and handed her the pictures. "Is that what I think it is? I recognize it from your stories." She gasped and looked up at her parallel father, nodding.

"Recognize what?" the Doctor asked, moving over to get a peek at the photos in question.

"No one's tried to open it, have they?" Rose questioned sharply, pulling out her mobile phone.

"No," he replied. "It's stable, so I ordered them to lock it in Secure 10, until you told them otherwise."

Rose handed the Doctor the images as she scrolled through her contacts and he finally got a look at what they were talking about. No wonder Pete recognized it from a story Rose had told (another thing he had to ask about later). She'd know this piece of technology well. It was Chula. Not only was it Chula, it was medical.

"Jake?" Rose said into her mobile. "That cylinder thing you picked up this morning, you have it down in S-10, righ'?" she asked into the phone. "Are you there now?" A pause. "Yes. 'S a Chula ambulance and whatever you do, don' touch it anymore." Another pause. "'Ere, talk to the Doctor. Yes, e's righ' 'ere." She held the phone out to the Doctor, who immediately took it.

"Were any of the lights on the panel lit up at all?" the Doctor asked, bypassing all greetings.

"One, a little yellow light at the bottom right corner of the panel," came a familiar voice. "That's when you're standing at the end closer to the panel," he added. Rose had called him Jake. This was Jake Simmonds. He mentally praised the man for getting right to the point and him not having to ask Jake to describe which buttons and how he was standing.

The Doctor looked down at the pictures in his hand again, paying special attention to the panel, which the photo taker had thoughtfully shown in full detail. It looked exactly the same as the one he encountered the night they met Jack Harkness, so he could be sure that it was the same where it counted. That little yellow light wasn't good. It could wait, but if someone pressed the wrong button, the panel would open up.

"It's not flashing, is it?" he asked.

"No, it's solid," the man replied.

"Okay, I'm coming down to deactivate it," the Doctor declared. "Rose, lead me there, Love."

"No, you're not," Pete said.

"You can't," Jake proclaimed at the same time Pete had given his negative.

"I can't," Rose replied softly.

"Why not?" he asked all three, not whinging. Time Lords didn't whinge. Both Pete and Jake answered with explanations about how everyone who entered the Secure rooms had to have clearance and the doors would lock someone who didn't have clearance in between the first and second set. It was an impressive bit of security, the Doctor thought.

"Pete, you run this outfit, give me clearance," the Doctor protested.

"I can't," Pete explained. "Not without you already in the system," he added.

"I have clearance," Rose spoke up. "Tell me what to do."

The Doctor took a pen from the desk and put a little number over each button that needed to be pressed and the order it needed to be pressed in. Some buttons had two or three numbers over them. It was a fairly long sequence.

"Press these buttons in the order I've numbered them," he told her, handing her the now marked up photo. Rose took it and looked it over quickly, nodding. The photo was pretty self explanatory.

"Okay, be right back," Rose said. She took her mobile and told Jake that she was coming down as she left the office.

As soon as they were alone, Pete turned to the Doctor with a serious look on his face. Suddenly, he remembered that this man with the thinning ginger hair was, for all intents and purposes, Rose's father. Or stepfather, depending on how you looked at it. He also realized that this was the first time he was truly alone with the man. Any version of him.

"Doctor, while you're waiting, we need to talk," Pete informed him, causing the Doctor's stomach to drop. Rose didn't get all of her formidableness from her mother. "When Rose first came to this universe, she was a mess," Pete told him. "She was...depressed doesn't even begin to cover it."

This news hurt the Doctor to hear, but he wasn't surprised. He'd spent some time in a near catatonic state before the idea came to him to find a way to get to her. After all, the first time through was an accident. He'd broken an entire room full of things on the TARDIS when he couldn't find a way through. Once his rage had calmed down, he found a way to contact her to make sure she was and would be okay, even if he couldn't get through. He needed to hear her voice and see her one last time.

"A few weeks in," Pete continued, "she suddenly decided that she was going to take me up on my offer to work here. It was like she suddenly had a purpose. Turned out, Rose only took the job because she wanted access to the archives, the information on our jumpers, an' some excitement." Pete went around to the other side of his desk and sat down, gesturing for the Doctor to do the same.

"I saw her library," the Doctor said. "She told me that she had worked on the Dimension Cannon."

"Yeah, she did," Pete affirmed with a nod. "I reckon we wouldn't've been able to get it done in time if she hadn't been working on it herself. That's not my story to tell, though. Only she knows the whole thing." He leaned forward and put his hands on the desk in front of him, fingers clasped together.

"After Bad Wolf Bay, she went back into her depression for a bit. Mickey, Jacks, an' I were worried, but grief was something we could understand well." A dark look flashed on his face for a moment, and the Doctor was reminded that he had lost his first Jackie 3 years before Rose and her mother came to live with him. "I mean, you might as well have been dead, the result was the same."

"It was the same on the other side of the Void," the Doctor admitted. Pete looked sympathetic for a moment.

"Jackie tells me that there's two of you now?" Pete asked.

"Yep," the Doctor said, popping his 'p.'

"How did that happen?" he asked. It was a perfectly logical question, and he found himself explaining it again.

"Rose told you about regeneration?" the Doctor asked, receiving a nod in reply. "Well, when Rose came back, I got shot by a Dalek. I had just gotten involved with the situation, and Rose had just come back. Changing myself right then could have been disastrous. So I used a little of the energy to heal myself, and managed to stop the change by putting the rest of it into the hand that had been cut off right after I regenerated last time," he explained and wiggled the fingers of his right hand. "This hand right here, my handy spare hand," he joked. "Next thing I knew, I woke up on the floor of the TARDIS and there were two of me. Turns out Donna had touched the hand, which set off a chain reaction and this body got a bit of her DNA, making me part human," he finished.

"So, you were born from a hand?" Pete asked, incredulously.

"More like- welll, close enough," the Doctor replied.

"Jackie tells me you have a human lifespan?" Pete questioned.

"More or less," the Doctor replied. "The human part overtook several of my Time Lordy bits. No regeneration," he explained.

"And you're sure that your projected lives are about the same?" Pete asked. The Doctor started to wonder why Pete was pushing this, then remembered that Rose probably told him how old the Doctor was.

"You can never be too sure about these things, Pete. You know that better than most," the Doctor answered, trying not to reawaken too many painful memories. He knew that this Pete and the other Jackie had separated, but the man in front of him had still loved his wife. Pete nodded in affirmation and remembrance.

"Jacks also told me about what happened back on the beach this time," Pete informed him after a moment. The Doctor swallowed at this. What happened back there went according to the other Doctor's plan, and Rose hated it, with good reason. He'd taken her railing at him, though. He had played a part in manipulating her as well.

"The point I'm getting at is: you're the same man, and he left her without a word," Rose's father pointed out.

"And you're worried I'm going to do the same," the Doctor finished for him. He leaned forward and put his forearms on his knees. "I'd rather be by her side than live the life I've been living the past few years. The life I know he's living right now. And the same goes for him. He didn't want to leave her any more than I do. The only reason I sent her away the last time we met was so that she'd be safe. Rose and I have discussed this already, and I promise you, the same thing I promised her: if I ever leave her, it won't be my decision."

Once his speech ended, he sat back and waited for the other man to speak. Peter Tyler nodded once, appeased.

"Don't hurt her, Doctor. She's been hurt enough," Pete said.

"I'll try not to," the Doctor promised.

XxXxXxXx

After she finished shutting down the Chula ambulance, Rose and the Doctor finally stepped outside of Torchwood Tower and walked toward her car, a Kia Hare in an emerald green color. The model had never existed in their home universe, as far as she knew. It looked fast, and it was, but she didn't get much occasion to use the speed capabilities of it.

"Nice car," the Doctor said, approvingly. Figured he'd be a car man.

"Hydrogen powered, with a petrol backup," she told him.

"They went to hydrogen cars here?" he asked.

"About a quarter of the world's fleet is hydrogen powered," Rose replied. "A third's electric, and the rest're still on petrol, but mos' of those are older cars or in developing nations."

"I'm impressed," the Doctor replied as they got in. "Doing better than you lot in our universe."

"'Snot our universe anymore," Rose muttered and pulled out of the parking spot.

They went to four shops that day, starting with the Converse Outlet, looking for all the basics they needed for the Doctor. Rose was sitting by the dressing rooms in next shop, when the Doctor came out in a printed powder blue t-shirt that said, "Trust me, I'm a Doctor."

Rose busted out laughing.

"What?" he asked. Rose laughed harder.

"What?" he repeated.

Rose shook her head and gasped out, "No."

"What's wrong with this t-shirt?" the Doctor asked, which had Rose laughing again in remembrance of when he used to say that about his jumpers.

"Fine, I'll take off the bloody t-shirt," he grumbled.

At the third shop, the Doctor got his measurements taken for a couple of suits. While there, he discovered that he really liked a velvet jacket that was on display. He put it on and looked in the mirror, stroking it while he did so. It seemed he was as tactile as ever.

The Doctor still favored pinstripes over anything else, though. Half the clothes they bought that day were vertically striped.

Their last stop was to a furniture store. When the Doctor realized where they were, he got a bit antsy. Rose was surprised it had taken him this long.

"Relax," she told him after they got inside.

"I am relaxed," the Doctor replied.

"No, you're not," she countered. "We won't be long here," she promised. "We don't even have to make any choices, I already know what we've got to get."

"And that is?" he asked.

"Bedroom furniture for you," she replied. "What else would we need from a furniture store?" Rose wondered.

"So, we're getting a bed?" he mumbled, rubbing the back of his neck. Rose's heart stopped for a moment. "I guess I'll need a bed. You know, in that empty bedroom. I mean, if I'm gonna get a bed, can it be a-"

"Hold on a mo'. Do ya wan' your own room?" Rose interrupted the Doctor's nervous ramble. He stopped and looked at her. She wasn't used to this uncertainty in the Doctor. He was usually so confident.

"No! I mean, really, no," he replied, "but-"

"'Cause I thought we'd get a bedstand and dresser that matches mine for you. For our room," Rose told him before he could get going again.

The Doctor put his hands in his packets and smiled sheepishly. "Really?" he asked.

"Yes," Rose assured him with a little nod.

Their eyes locked together and the Doctor opened his mouth to say something, but the door behind them opened with a ding, reminding the two of them that they weren't alone.

Once they were back home, bags strewn all over the half of the living room that was mostly empty, they collapsed on the couch with takeaway Chinese. Rose turned the Telly on to some mindless show, and they both tucked in to their meal.

XxXxXxXx

"Awww, come on, really?" Rose asked incredulously.

"I'm serious!" the Doctor exclaimed as he grabbed a shrimp with his chopsticks. "H.G. Wells really did get the term 'science fiction' from me." They laughed.

XxXxXxXx

"So, me an' Jake's all covered with this thick, pink slime, an' Mickey's laughing at the both of us. And it stinks!" Rose exclaimed. "It stinks like those snail things on Tanilla."

The Doctor wrinkled his nose at the memory. "Now that was bad."

"Yeah," Rose agreed. "So I distract Mickey while Jake comes up and gives him a full body hug!"

"No way!"

XxXxXxXx

"-and Ace is so excited to break out of prison that she might as well have just tipped off the guards herself and saved us the trouble of subterfuge," the Doctor explained, rolling his eyes.

"Sounds like she was a firecracker," Rose replied.

"Oh, yes. Rather explosive, literally. Had to be careful with her, especially when she had a spray can in hand," the Doctor told her as he explained Nitro 9.

XxXxXxXx

"...an' here we all are, trying not to laugh an' give away the fact that the translator is working again," Rose laughed and the Doctor chuckled.

"Look at you, Rose Tyler," the Doctor breathed out. "You don't need me anymore." His voice held both pride and sadness.

"Maybe not," Rose admitted. "I want you, though, isn't that better?"

The Doctor brushed a lock back behind her ear. "Yeah, I think so," he breathed out.

He had started to lean in when the phone rang and Rose jumped. He cursed the invention in twenty different languages before Rose picked it up. It was her mother calling to see how the day went.

The Doctor wished he was on the other side of the Void from that woman.

XxXxXxXx

The Doctor climbed into the spacious bed next to Rose, who was reading a book. She leaned over, grabbed a second book off of the table, and handed it to him.

"Charlie got to finish it in this universe," Rose told him. "No blue elementals, though," she joked.

The Doctor looked down at the really old, worn book in his hand. It had the title, "The Mystery of Edwin Drood."

"'S a first edition," Rose told him. "I was gonna give it to you when-" she cut herself off. "Didn't get the chance,' she finished. "A little light reading if you can't sleep," she added.

The Doctor pulled her in for a hug and shifted them so that they laid together.

"Thank you, Love. I'll treasure it always," he whispered.

They laid there in silence and started to drift to sleep.

Chapter Text

Starting Over Chapter 11: Dreaming

I wanna give a huge shoutout to my beta, Hawkerin. Wonderful woman, helped me keep this chapter in flangst instead of the angst I kept pushing it to. She also wrote me smut for my birthday.

This chapter is earning the M rating.

XxXxXxXx

She snuggled into the Doctor's arms and whispered, "I love it when you call me that."

"What?" the Doctor asked. "Love?"

She leaned up and kissed him in answer. He immediately responded to it. Her tongue darted out and ran over the seam of his lips, and he parted them, letting her in. She wrapped a leg around him and he pulled her even closer to him. Forget their getting to know you bit from the other night. She needed him.

The Doctor pulled his mouth from hers and started trailing his kisses down her neck, having apparently come to the same conclusion. He then rolled her onto her back and ground himself into her. His length rubbed against her core and she gasped, scraping her fingernails against his scalp.

"Oh, Doctor," she sighed. She moved her hands to the top button of his pajama top and looked him in the eyes as she popped it. He growled and claimed her mouth again, hungrily.

The Doctor's hand moved underneath her clothing, trailing up until he reached her breast. He cupped it, and ran his thumb over the nipple. Rose couldn't help the moan that escaped her throat as she started trying to get the buttons undone faster.

As soon as the last button was released, the Doctor pulled back and threw off his shirt while Rose went to work on her own buttons. The Doctor quickly stripped off his trousers as well. Rose didn't get more than a glimpse before he was back on her, lips pressed to hers as he helped her finish removing her clothes. Once they were bare before one another, the Doctor ran his hand down her side and traced the letters of her tattoo. He became serious and looked into her eyes.

"Rose, you should stop me now," he told her, his voice in a near whisper. She put her hand on his chest and ran it down the front of his body.

"I don't want to," she replied just before she wrapped her hand around his length.

"Oh, Rose," he growled. He claimed her mouth again and thrust into her hand as his own hand went around to her front. A finger slid into her, moving just enough to make her want more.

"Please," she moaned and the Doctor's eyes went dark. He situated himself between her legs and slowly slid himself into her. The feeling of his length moving within her was blissful. "Oh, Doctor, yesss," she sighed, letting him know everything felt good.

That seemed to spur him on; he moved faster and ground against her, causing friction in all the right places. It felt so good.

Suddenly, the Doctor pulled back and left her body. She felt cold for a moment. Just as she was about to beg him not to stop, he dropped down and kissed her thigh. She knew what he was about to do, and whispered his name pleadingly.

She got a light chuckle from him as he kissed closer and closer and-

Rose woke up in her dark bedroom, throbbing with need. After taking a moment to calm herself down, she got out of bed and shuffled to the kitchen to make herself a cuppa.

Stupid bloody dreams. She felt more alone than ever after one of them. This one was odd though. She often dreamed scenarios where she got back to her Doctor, some were nightmares and some were perfect. Some of her dreams had him making her come back for one reason or another, usually in disgust. But she'd never dreamed that she was back in this universe with the Doctor before.

He'd be happy when he heard her news, she hoped. She knew she'd get to him, it was only a matter of time. Stop it, she chided herself. He might not even want to see you. He burned up a sun to say goodbye and you let your stupid mouth get away with you.

She went through her ritual: fill the kettle, put it on the stove, teabag in the cup, wait. While she was waiting on the water, she turned toward the fridge to grab some milk.

And screamed.

XxXxXxXx

"I love it when you call me that," Rose whispered.

"What? Love?" the Doctor asked.

Rose leaned up, kissed the Doctor soundly and ran her fingers through his hair in answer. He loved it when she did that. When she put a leg over his waist, he instinctively pulled her closer and started kissing down her throat. Forget taking their time. He knew Rose, the other parts were just details. Decision made, he rolled her onto her back and ground into her.

"Oh, Doctor," she sighed. Rose removed her hands from his hair and started unbuttoning his pajama top. He claimed her mouth again and moved his hand under her loose top to cup a breast. Touching this erogenous zone produced the desired effect. Rose moaned and her movements became more frantic. He happily matched her movements.

It wasn't long before they had removed all clothing from one another. He ran his hand down her side until he reached the tattoo there and traced the letters. He moved his eyes from those important words and gazed into her eyes.

"Rose," he whispered. "You should stop me now," he told her. Rose trailed her hand down his chest, to his lower abdomen.

"I don't want to," she replied, and moved her hand lower, touching him.

"Oh, Rose," he growled, thrust his tongue into her mouth, and thrust his hips. He moved his hand and touched her the same way she was touching him.

Rose moaned and whispered, "Please." Something about the way she said that spurred him on. He slid within her just a couple of seconds later with a groan. She wrapped her legs around him and put her hands on his back.

"Oh, Doctor, yesss," Rose sighed from beneath him as the Doctor slowly moved within her. He could tell that it wasn't going to be long before she reached orgasm. It wasn't going to be long for him, either, and he wanted to lose himself with her.

He moved a little faster, grinding himself against her nub to bring her a little faster. After a few thrusts, he felt her flutter around him and-

The Doctor woke up with a start, breathing heavily. The fingers of his right hand were dug into Rose's hip and, to his horror, he was pressed into her thigh.

He jerked his hips back, then stilled for a moment to make sure she was still asleep. She moaned a little and wiggled. Well, that might be why he was in this state. If the person you love wiggles in her sleep against you, there's going to be a reaction. Much less the woman you've loved for three lives now, who you recently found again and have kissed- really, properly snogged; while you're trying to figure out a new body that apparently had the sex drive of a rabbit.

He had to remind himself that this was normal for a healthy male of the human race who's got an interest in doing such things. He was mostly Gallifreyan genetically, but that bit of human added on took over a large amount of his physical biology. Other than his mental capacity and senses, he was, well like a human.

Oh, he'd been human before: a little two month stint in 1913, but at the time, he hadn't known who he really was. He was glad for the memories of the time, though, because they were really helping him out now. That was what was really keeping him from freaking out about the metacrisis. Welll, that and the goddess laying there in the bed next to him.

Between his mortification at how he woke up, and his disgust at the lack of control of his own body, he felt himself finally start to soften.

He turned his attention back to Rose. Her shirt had ridden up while asleep, exposing a strip of the creamy flesh at her waist that he wanted to run his hand over. She moaned and shifted. The motion moved the flannel top back down and covered the strip of skin. The Doctor was relieved that there was one less distraction. That relief lasted 1.6 seconds before a whole new torture began.

Rose wiggled and whispered, "Doctor." It was followed by a distinctive sigh of pleasure.

The Doctor could have sworn that his single heart stopped beating when he heard that. He knew he had quit breathing. It didn't take any imagination at all to know what she was dreaming about. The thought made him warm, and he had to get away from her, to calm down. He couldn't sleep all keyed up like this, and this body needed to sleep.

He went out to the living room and sat down on the couch, trying to calm down so he could go back to bed. He thought about just trying to sleep there, but he didn't want Rose to find him sleeping on the couch when she said specifically said he could sleep with her-sleeping, that was. It would undermine his work in proving he wanted her.

The Doctor wondered just what was going on in her dream. He leaned back, putting his head on the back of the couch and blew out. Thoughts like that weren't going to help his problem. Stupid apish body and hormones.

He was uncomfortable, and tried to adjust himself. As he did so, a memory came to him from his time in 1913: touching himself one morning, thinking about the girl with the tongue touched smile from his dreams. He'd never done that sort of thing outside of those two months. Time Lords just didn't do that. They weren't wired to do that. He'd been disgusted once he became himself again, for defiling her memories. That's why he hadn't thought of it before now.

But this time, Rose was close by. He could walk just a few steps and touch her, smell her, hold her. They had agreed that it was best to wait, he chastised himself. There was also the undeniable fact that this body was wired that way. Decision made, he pushed down the waistband of his pajama bottoms and freed his straining appendage.

He lightly ran his hand down his length, enjoying the way it felt. Then harder. He thought of the Rose in his dream, touching him there. The feel of sliding inside of her had seemed so real. Of the kiss on the beach and the subsequent ones over the last couple days. The way her lips felt where they had touched, and how he imagined they'd feel other places. What was that little tongue in her mouth capable of doing? His motions sped up at the thought.

He remembered her laid back on the apple grass, and hovering over him as she went to get up. He had wanted to lean up and kiss her then, especially after reminiscing about their first date.

The Doctor bit back a moan as he worked himself over. He was getting closer. He leaned up quickly and grabbed one of the napkins still on the table from their dinner. He remembered seeing Rose for the first time after so long, running toward her and making a promise to himself that he wasn't going to waste one second more.

"Rosssee," he groaned as he finished, forgetting for a moment that he was trying to be quiet. As soon as he was finished, he stilled, listening for her, but heard nothing.

He got up and went to the bathroom, where he cleaned up. He saw himself in the mirror and thought he looked as tired as he felt. He was going to head back to bed in a moment. This body really did have the disconcerting habit of needing to be unconscious for several hours every day.

As he washed his hands, he thought about his promise to himself. Was he wasting time? In some ways, yes. Rose had changed, and he wasn't exactly the same man anymore, but they were still the Doctor and Rose Tyler. As he had decided in his dream, he knew who she was, and she knew who he was, and the rest were just details. She'd made it clear she wanted him, and he knew he'd stop at nothing to have her. There was no way he was misinterpreting the kisses, and the flirting, and the sharing a bed when he'd given her an out.

No, he wouldn't hold back on that front ever again.

But there was one problem: his other self. That hypocritical bastard was haunting him even from the other side of the Void. Just that morning, or the previous morning now, he supposed, she'd expressed doubt that he'd stay with her. The Doctor knew that it was at least partially because of what his other self had done.

All he could do was what he had been doing. Just keep letting her know that he was there for her and wouldn't leave her. As little as he was looking forward to it, maybe something in those tabloids she was talking about would help. That had been what she had specifically talked about.

The Doctor sighed and left the bathroom. He walked the short trek to the kitchen to get a sip before returning to bed, and saw Rose standing there, making some tea. She turned toward the fridge, then jumped and gave a little scream. Her eyes went wide and she put her hand to her mouth.

"Doctor?" she gasped and rushed to him, wrapping her arms around him. "You're here. You're really here. 'Snot just a dream." She was squeezing him, as if he were gonna disappear any moment. She had woken up alone and thought that the last few days weren't real.

"Yes, I'm really here," he assured her. He hugged her back and kissed the top of her head. The two of them stayed like that for a moment until the kettle went off.

Rose pulled back at the sound and went over to take the noisy thing off the stove. "You wanna cuppa before we go back to bed?" she asked.

"Sure," he agreed. "Was just coming in here to do the same thing. You know what they say about intelligent minds," he said, deliberately flubbing the line.

Rose looked confused for a second. "Don't you mean great minds?" she wondered.

"That too," the Doctor replied with a grin. Rose chuckled and shook her head. She glanced at the clock. "Blimey, have we really only been asleep a couple hours?" she asked.

"Apparently," the Doctor replied.

The two of them sat down at the table and discussed their plans for the next day while they had tea. It was going to be another long day.

He resigned himself to the domestics. It was going to be necessary for a few years, maybe forever.

It was worth it.

Once their tea was finished and they had put their cups in the sink, the couple walked back to bed, hand-in-hand. Reminding himself of his resolution not to fear what came between them, the Doctor spooned himself behind Rose as they snuggled under the covers and wrapped a comforting arm around her waist. He wouldn't have her waking to think that she was alone again. She sighed happily before they both drifted off to sleep again.

Chapter Text

The Doctor woke suddenly, his heart racing. He squinted at the too bright light coming in through the windows and groaned. He was still a bit disoriented when he noticed that the other side of the bed was empty. Rose was up before him again. That was odd.

He rubbed his eyes and climbed out of the bed, stretching. He turned around and made her-their bed. Normally, he wouldn't have bothered, but it had been made when they climbed into it. While he did that, he found a little note from Rose on her bedstand.

Gone for run and breakfast, hope to be back before you're up.

He went out through the rest of the house, looking to see if she was back yet, but she wasn't. She couldn't be too far, though, since her car was still there. He was able to kill a little time by getting ready for the day. He chose one of his blue suits and a dark red oxford from one of the bags that still littered the living room floor. They were planning to get those taken care of later, but he could sort the items out a little, by type. That project didn't take long. Most of the things they had purchased the day before were in like groups.

Just when he started worrying, he heard the front door jiggle. He rushed to the door to help her get it open, knowing she'd have breakfast in hand. Rose was dressed in exercise attire with her hair in a ponytail, and had a bag in her hand. She looked surprised when the door opened up from the other side.

"Well, so much for gettin' back 'fore you were up," she commented as she walked in. She noticed that the bags were moved around and the Doctor's state of dress and asked, "How long 'ave you been up?"

"Thirty one minutes, forty-nine seconds," he replied automatically, glad that his time sense was still intact. "How long have you been up?" he queried.

"Dunno," Rose answered after a moment. "A while," she added and headed toward the kitchen. There, she placed the bag on the counter, took out a couple of cardboard containers, and handed one to the Doctor with a fork she pulled out of the drawer.

The Doctor sat down at the table and popped his container open. He was greeted with the sight and smells of a full English. He watched Rose at the counter. She peeked into the toaster for a moment, nodded her head, picked up her container, and headed over to the table where he was. She seemed nervous about something.

"I would have gone on that run with you," he ventured, trying not to sound put out. Rose froze just before sitting down to her own meal. The hesitation lasted just for a split second, and he would have missed it if he hadn't been paying close attention to her.

"You looked so peaceful while you were sleepin', I couldn't disturb that," she replied softly, then she walked back to the counter and reached inside the bag that had held their breakfast. "Also, I didn' want the first time you saw this to be in public."

She took a deep breath and handed him some colorful papers, which turned out to be a tabloid. On the front cover, there was a full, technicolor picture of the Doctor and Rose holding hands at the airport.

The Vitex Heiress' Mystery Man was the headline. He opened up the paper and looked inside.

Rose Tyler, adopted daughter of Vitex creator and Chairman Peter Tyler, was seen yesterday morning at Heathrow in the arms of a mystery man.

Sources close to the heiress refuse to identify the man, who looks to be in his 30s, only offering the information that the unknown man is an old friend of Rose's.

Digging into archives, our reporters have found that the man in question was staff at Jaqueline Tyler's ill fated 39 th birthday party, where the President of the Republic was killed in the Cybermen attack. Miss Tyler herself, then 16 years of age, also attended the party as staff.

There was a surveillance picture of himself and Rose at the party before the President had been killed. They were standing close to one another, in conversation.

"Sixteen?" he asked.

"Part of the story," she replied. "sixteen at the party, nineteen at the 'adoption', twenty-three now. It coincides with when my on paper mother was actually pregnant. I'm not the only one having to fudge on my age. Mum has to pretend she's three years older than she really is."

"How old are you now?" he asked.

"I don' know," Rose answered. "Didn' know when I came 'ere in the firs' place, but with all the dimension hoppin' and everything... well I was hopin' you'd tell me. You've got that thing you do where you know how old people are."

"It doesn't work that way," the Doctor told her. "Not with you."

"How comes it doesn't?" she wondered. Her brow was furrowed in confusion.

"I'd have to be able to see your timeline, and I can't," he admitted.

"Is this a new thing? You know with-?" she asked, gesturing at him. When he shook his head in the negative, she added, "Why not?"

"Best guess I have is that your timeline is too intertwined with my own, except I get sometimes get slight glimpses of my own, and yours is completely obscured."

"Oh," was all Rose said to that. She looked back down at her food and started eating again, not meeting his eyes. He decided that it was best if he went back to reading the tabloid.

The Vitex heiress has a history of workplace relationships. Previous trysts include Jake Simmonds and Richard Smith, both colleagues at the Torchwood Institute.

"Who's Richard Smith?" he asked as soon as he read that. He rubbed his eyes, wondering why they hurt.

Rose raised her eyebrow in amusement. "Mickey's real name is Michael. Richard was Ricky's name."

"Ah," he said. That was obvious after the fact. He continued reading. On the page was another photo from the previous morning, where she was smiling at him with her special grin. She had been teasing him for grumbling about his hair laying flat.

Has her heart been thawed? Miss Tyler is often referred to as cold, hard, and calculating by her colleagues, yet her demeanor on this cool morning shows a warmer side previously unseen.

The Doctor read the rest of the piece, which included outlandish speculation on him possibly being a secret agent, and that's why they couldn't find much information on him. It also claimed he was taking advantage of her.

"The lies!" he exclaimed indignantly.

"Yeah. 'Sa tabloid. They don't have to print the truth, just what someone says is the truth, or what looks to be the truth from photos," Rose replied tiredly.

"But they called you cold, hard, and calculating!" he protested, unaware he was yelling.

Rose looked down for a moment and took a deep breath. When she looked up, he saw a deep sadness in her eyes. "It's okay. I do have that as a bit of a reputation among some people."

"Rose-" he started.

"No, 'snot a big deal. I mean, look at what they called you!" she turned the conversation around. "An agent? A gold digger?" She laughed incredulously. "It does no good to get angry about it, Doctor, it won't do any good. I did warn you."

This deflated him. She had warned him, just minutes before these pictures were taken.

"Why is this drivel printed?" he asked, disgusted.

"People like gossip. They like hearing about famous people," Rose replied. "Other people take pictures and gather stories about those famous people and print them. 'Sa supply and demand thing." She dropped her fork, finished with her breakfast at the same time he threw down the tabloid.

"Stupid apes," they both said at the same time, he smiled at her and she giggled. Just like that, the tension was diffused.

Rose got up and dropped her container into the garbage can and told him, "You haven't eaten anything. You should finish your food before it gets cold. I'm gonna go take a shower, and we'll tackle that stuff in the living room before the furniture arrives."

She walked out of the kitchen, pulling the band out of her hair as she left. He was left alone to finish his meal and try not to think about the woman he could hear singing in the shower.

Later, the two of them were moving things from the bags in the living room to their appropriate places. They had the radio on, and Rose explained some of the musical differences between this universe and the one they were from. For example, Elvis had gotten clean and lived until 1989. They'd started to have fun with the chore when the James Bond theme sounded.

"There had better be a proper emergency, or I'm gonna strangle someone," Rose growled as she went to pick up her phone. The Doctor couldn't hear the other half of the conversation this time over the radio, but he'd bet his sonic screwdriver that it wasn't good.

"What?!" Rose exclaimed. "No, I don' care where the base tech came from, that's my project, an' I say 'snot ready." She listened. "No, we don't know what the full effects on humans from it are. That's part of why there's only twenty-two people who have one." Her face took on an angry tone. "Now you listen- No. Nevermind. I'll be right there." She hung up the phone and looked like she was going to throw it before the Doctor grabbed that hand and kept her from doing it.

"What's wrong?" he asked.

"Remember the teleport?" Rose asked.

"Yeah? Oh, twenty-two people!" he realized.

"Yeah. The thing's proved to work, and now they wanna put them out for all agents," Rose frustratedly told him.

"But you just said..." he trailed off, worried. He knew Rose had one of them. Her mother had said so back in Norway.

"Yeah. We're doing studies on how long term use affects the human body. Every agent who uses one gets a full physical every other week, except me," she told him, pulling back.

"Why not you?" the Doctor asked as Rose stalked out of the living room. "Rose?" He started to follow her, but only got to the kitchen door when she came back with a small wrist strap in her hands. If it were leather, it'd look a bit like a very small version of a Time Agent's Vortex Manipulator.

"I'll explain in a bit," she promised him as she stuffed the strap in her pocket.

"Okay, so, we're going to Torchwood, then?" he wondered.

"Yes," Rose answered. She grabbed her keys, and her eyes landed on the last bit of the items they had brought home from the day before. "Shit! The delivery's gonna be 'ere in twenty! They're already on their way."

"So, we go as soon as the dresser's dropped off," the Doctor said.

"Can't, I gotta get there before that idiot Thomas sends out the order. Tryin' ta stop it after would be like recalling a- I dunno, it'll be hard."

"I'll stay," the Doctor offered. "I can finish this up and everything while you take care of that. It's not like you don't know what you're doing with this." That must have been the right thing to say, because her face got softer.

"Really?" she asked. He nodded immediately. "I hadn't even thought of that," she told him.

"Wellll-" he started, dragging out the word.

"Oh, shut up," she chided him, grinning and shaking her head. "I have to go," she told him and took a step backward toward the door, ready to leave.

"Good luck," he told her.

"Thanks, I might need it," she said, just before she hit a button on her teleport and disappeared in a flash of greenish white light.

The Doctor stood there, staring at the spot Rose had disappeared from for a minute, trying to remind himself that Rose had just gone to Torchwood Tower. She wasn't somewhere he couldn't get to. He could probably see the building from the yard. At that thought, he went outside and looked toward the London skyline in the distance. Sure enough, there was Torchwood Tower, half obscured by another skyscraper.

Having calmed down, he went back into the house with the resolve that he would never tell Rose how much her disappearing act freaked him out.

The dresser delivery came ten minutes early, much to his pleasure. He had started to wonder what to do with himself until they came. He directed them to the room where the new pieces were supposed to go and signed his human name to the paperwork they presented him. The whole thing was over in twenty-five minutes, twenty-seven seconds from the time they pulled in the tiny parking lot until the time they pulled out.

When the Doctor closed the front door on them, he realized how domestic this all was, literally domestic. He dropped down on the couch for a moment, tapping his foot, wondering how long it was going to be before Rose got back. She'd probably be a while, but he was impatient to know what had come of her argument with the person that wanted to release the teleport to a larger group of people.

Wait. She'd said 'Thomas.' Was that the same Thomas he had met on the zeppelin? Now he was curious. The older, overweight man didn't like him or Rose, and they didn't like him. If this was the same man, Rose would have a hard time convincing him without bringing other people into the argument.

He wanted to get in contact with her, but didn't know how to. The numbers that could be used to contact her were probably not given out to the general public, given her job and social status. He'd probably wind up interrupting her anyway while she was trying to take care of something that sounded important.

The Doctor sat there, tapping the fingers of his right hand against his knees. He didn't know what to do with himself. Rose could be back at any moment. He wanted to be there when she got back or called so he could find out what was going on. He couldn't run out and explore just yet.

He reached into the pocket of his suit jacket and pulled out the coral within. It was warm and had a very slight vibration to it that he wouldn't have felt had he been any more human. He held it tight and opened his telepathic senses as much as he could. He could feel the tiny consciousness inside the coral. Immature, yet ancient at the same time. There were other presences he could feel, but they were far away and faint. He couldn't get an indication of where, who, or how many they were, just a general feeling of thereness. All he could tell was that these people were more than touch telepaths, or he wouldn't have felt them at all.

He narrowed his focus to the rough stone in his hand. "We'll get you taken care of soon," he cooed to it. "It won't be long, and you'll be flying through Time and Space like your sister." When he put it back in his pocket, he remembered something he could do to pass some more time.

The Doctor went back to the bedroom and started emptying his pockets onto the large bed. His suits from the TARDIS were hung up among his new suits, and he found a few more things in those pockets as well. Among those items, there was a regulator for the sonic screwdriver. It was the one part that would break more than any other.

That task had only taken a few minutes and he was getting bored again before long. He went back out to the living room, but when he passed the little library Rose had amassed, he remembered the bookshelf that needed to be put together. Well, he did have a handy dandy screwdriver...

XxXxXxXx

Rose had finally convinced Thomas Trout and a couple other higher ups that the SRT (Short Range Teleport, also called Gizmo) technology wasn't ready to be released past the twenty-two people who had it. Not only were there potential health concerns (which, admittedly were waning quickly), but there were also security concerns. A person who had it could teleport right into high security areas and be nearly to the other side of the country in seconds.

She trudged back up to her office, which was a level down from Pete's, bid good day to her new secretary, unlocked the door, and dropped into her seat. It was a smaller office, but not too small. She didn't need a huge amount of room, nor was she needing to impress anyone. The walls had whiteboards with technical drawings and theories on them. A whiteboard was even stuck to the glass of the window with suction cups.

She pulled her mobile out and dialed the number of her house. The line rang three times before it was picked up.

"Hello?" the voice of the Doctor answered tentatively.

"Hello Doctor. Holding up?" she asked.

"Yes!" he replied quickly. Maybe too quickly. "The delivery happened about ten minutes earlier than we thought, so that's good."

"You aren't bored and taking apart my appliances, are you?" Rose teased.

"No!" he squeaked. "No appliances have been taken apart, I promise. The toaster's still a boring toaster, the fridge is still a boring fridge, the telly's still- oh you get the drift. Though the toaster could be a little more-"

"No, Doctor, the toaster is just fine being unsonic," Rose interrupted. She was amused by his denial and hoped she could stay amused.

"How'd your meeting go?" the Doctor asked. "You're out, right?"

"Just got free. Managed to convince Thomas and the other higher ups he had convinced that we weren't ready, but I don't know how long it's gonna be before they want to put the Gizmos in more people's hands again. Stubborn old goats," she complained.

"You called it a Gizmo again," he informed her.

"Yeah, it's growing on me," Rose admitted. "I wanted to use one of the Gizmos to drop Trout into the deep blue sea."

"So it was that Thomas? Did you find out why they wanted to do it?" he wondered.

"Transportation costs and time," Rose answered.

"I suppose you're coming home?" the Doctor asked. She detected a bit of hopefulness and wondered if her stove and washing machine were sonic now. He hadn't mentioned those.

"Not yet, but I'll bet there soon. Just a couple stops to make," she answered.

Just then, her intercom buzzed and her secretary's voice came on. "Miss Tyler, your father has requested your presence."

"You're being summoned?" the Doctor asked.

"Yep," Rose popped.

"Okay, see you when you get back. Don't drop people in the ocean," he joked.

"Not if I see you first and I make no guarantees," she replied.

This visit was with Peter Tyler, her boss, and not Pete Tyler, her parallel dad. She'd had to explain what happened with the teleports. When she was finished, he switched gears to dad mode, handed her a manila envelope, and told her that he'd see her at dinner that night.

She took a cab to the nearest grocery store. During the ride there, she looked over the various pieces of identification that were in the envelope. Everything was in there, a paper trail detailing the life of Johnathan Alexander Storm Smith, a life that the Doctor had never lived.

Here you are, living a life, day after day. The one adventure I can never have.

Some adventure. She shoved the identification back in the envelope and stepped out of the cab, payed the man who drove it, and walked into the store, where she picked up what they needed for a couple days.

When she stepped back out, instead of trying to hail another cab, she stepped around into the alley and pressed a ten digit combination of buttons on her teleport. She disappeared from the alley in a flash of greenish white light. The only being who saw her departure was a stray cat.

Rose popped back into existence in the middle of her kitchen. She'd meant to hit the living room, but she was glad that she'd made it into her house. She'd never teleported from or to that store before. She put the bag and the manila envelope down on the counter and wandered to the living room, which was where she figured she'd find the Doctor.

The first thing she saw when she entered was the Doctor, laying on the couch. He was staring at her, wide eyed.

"Hi, Honey, I'm home," she joked.

"And what sort of time do you call this?" he jokingly asked as he got up.

"I didn't mean that to take so long," Rose apologized.

"No, you were doing your job, which may or may not have saved some people. The point, though, is that you tried and I love you for it," he declared. He leaned forward and kissed her softly.

Rose could tell that he wanted a lot more, but he kept it chaste and she pulled back. "I've got to go put the groceries up," she told him, turning back. "The bookshelf's together," she noticed.

"Oh, yeah. I had time, and a nifty screwdriver, so I said, 'what the hell, let's put up some shelves,'" the Doctor explained.

"Thank you," she said. "That box had been sitting there a month, at least. Hmmm."

"What?" he wondered.

"Taking care of deliveries, putting things away, putting together a shelf, I just may keep you yet," she laughed.

She immediately felt the Doctor's nervousness and insecurity, though he didn't show it, and immediately wanted to kick herself for her thoughtlessness. "That was a joke, you know?" she told him in an attempt to banish those emotions. "You're stuck with me." She turned around and went into the kitchen to take care of what was in the bags.

"No one I'd rather be stuck with," she heard the Doctor say in a low voice.

"Your IDs are finished," Rose informed him.

"Oh, really?" he queried. "When do we get them?"

"I've already got 'em," Rose told him, holding out the envelope.

He took it from her and dumped out the contents on the table, looking through them as Rose put the groceries away. He sat in the chair, looking at one of the documents, but Rose could tell he wasn't really seeing it. She came over to stand behind him and put her hands on his shoulders.

"It just got real, didn't it?" she observed.

"Yep," the Doctor popped. He blew out a big breath, puffing up his cheeks, leaned back to look up at her, and put his left hand over her right hand.

"It'll be okay," she assured him. "You're handling this much better than I did. I had a full blown panic attack when I got the same papers."

"I don't see you panicking about anything," he commented.

"It happened," she stated. "More than I care to admit." She then changed the subject and went back over to the fridge to pull out the makings for lunch. "Lunch'll be ready in a few."

"Oh, really?" he perked up. "What'd ya get?"

"It's just sandwiches and crisps. A light lunch," she replied. "I've been informed that we're going to dinner at the mansion tonight."

As predicted, the Doctor groaned. Rose decided to take pity on him. "She's not cooking tonight."

"Oh, good!" the Doctor enthused.

"You be nice," she said, pointing at him. She brought the sandwiches and the bag of crisps to the living room and went to turn the telly on with the remote.

The television did not turn on, instead, half of the cars in the neighborhood started making a lot of racket. She hit the power button again, and they all shut off.

"Doctor? What did you do to my remote?!"

Chapter Text

Starting Over Chapter 13: Tylers

The Doctor stepped out of the car and looked up at the mansion nervously. Last time he had been to this place, an army of Cybermen had crashed the party. He wasn't worried about that this time, but he was nervous about meeting the newest member of the Tyler family.

"Relax, Doctor," Rose said as she closed her car door.

"I am relaxed," the Doctor replied.

"No, you're not," she called him out. "I can feel the tension coming off of you."

"Worried if I'm gonna survive the dinner," he joked.

"You'll live," Rose promised. She took his hand, led him up to the door, and knocked on it.

They didn't have long to wait before the door opened. Rose's Mum stood there with her hand on her hip and a smile on her face, which was terrifying. Last time she had been smiling at him when he came in the door, she'd kissed him, repeatedly.

"Oh, don't look so scared, Doctor. I ain't gonna slap ya," Jackie chided. "Yet. We'll see. Now both of ya, don't jus' stand there, get yer bums in this house, I ain't coolin' the neighborhood."

They both stepped into the mansion, and the Doctor closed the door while mother and daughter hugged. As soon as their hug was over, Rose went off deeper into the house and left the Doctor alone with Jackie.

"So, how'er ya settlin' in?" she asked him quietly.

"Pretty good," he replied.

"Anything you need?" Jackie questioned. "Rose takin' care o' ya?"

"No," he replied. "I think I've got everything I need right now. And Rose has been...wonderful."

She gave him a soft smile. "I wish you could see the look on your face when you said that," she told him. "You've got it bad."

She led him into the house proper. They came to the living room and saw Rose and a little redheaded boy that was three and a half years old. He could see the family resemblance. He had Jackie's eyes and Pete's hair, back when Pete had hair.

"Hello, there," he said to the boy, who was staring at him. "You must be Tony." He drew closer and got down to his height. "It's nice to finally meet you. I'm the Doctor."

"You're real?" he asked.

"Yep. Real as you are," the Doctor replied.

"Wow," Tony said. He stepped closer to the Doctor and held his hand out formally. The Doctor shook the small hand in amusement. What Tony said, however, wasn't formal. "'M happy you're real. Can I see your somic studriber?" He raised an eyebrow at Rose, who smiled and shook her head, amused.

"Sure," he replied.

He pulled out the sonic and showed it to Rose's little brother. He put it on a harmless setting, and pointed it at a glass of water on the table. He activated it, letting the light at the end glow. The water rippled, and Tony's eyes got wide.

"Cool!" Tony exclaimed. "Can I try?"

"I don't think that's such a good idea," Jackie interjected. "You might break something."

"Please, Mum?" the boy pleaded.

The Doctor stood up and walked to Jackie. "He's a smart boy, isn't he. The setting it's on right now, it won't do much more than vibrate water. It's safe."

Jackie looked him in the eyes, searching for a second. "Alrigh'," she conceded.

"Yay!" Tony jumped.

The Doctor got back down on his knees next to the excited boy. "Okay, this is a very strong tool," he told the boy. "It's very important that you only touch this button right here." He pointed to the little button on the side of it. "Now point it at the glass over there and hold down that button," he instructed.

He held the screwdriver out to Tony, who took it from him excitedly. He almost dropped it. "Careful, now. It's pretty big. Use both hands if you have to."

Tony held the screwdriver with both hands and pointed it at the glass of water, like the Doctor had done before. He held down the button and the water started rippling. After a second, the glass gave a low humming noise and Tony's eyes lit up in glee.

The hum started going up in pitch, and the Doctor told Tony to let up on the button before it broke the glass. He didn't want to prove Jackie's theory right.

Pete came into the room and announced that dinner was ready. It was a proclamation that the Doctor was happy for, as it meant that Jackie really wasn't cooking. He didn't know if his new biology could withstand it.

"He likes to cook," Rose told him when they were the last two people left in the room.

"Didn't like the shepherd's pie, huh?" the Doctor asked. Rose snorted.

"Something else my mum and her parallel shared," Rose admitted. "Her other self didn't cook. She had a household staff to handle that. Mum's against havin' strangers clean up and make her meals," Rose explained.

The Doctor looked around the mansion, which, even though it was the same place, looked much warmer. The big house was now more of a home. "It's an awful lot of house for one person to clean, isn't it?" he asked.

"There's a couple of girls who come in once a week and spruce up the place," Rose told him as they entered the dining room. "It's nice to not have the staff, though. We can talk freely, except for Tony."

They sat down at the table in the two empty chairs across from Tony and began loading their plates.

"So, Jackie," the Doctor began. "How's living in a big house?"

"A sight better than that little flat," Jackie replied. "Especially with the little one runnin' about."

"Ah, runnin', now there's a worthwhile activity. Good for you too," the Doctor told Tony, who grinned.

"Yeah! And Mum tries to catch me!" Tony giggled.

"I bet you're real fast," the Doctor said.

"Oh, don't egg 'im on," Jackie complained.

"Doesn't matter what he says," Pete commented pragmatically. "Tony'll jus' do it anyway. So, Doctor, have you given any thought about what you're gonna do now that you're here?" he asked, changing the subject.

"Well, not yet," he admitted.

"It's only been three days. He's still getting used to being, well, him," Rose spoke up, glancing at Tony at the end. The little tike probably didn't know much about his family's origins, which made sense, considering children at that age usually told everything they heard.

"Doctah is a monster hunter!" Tony informed everyone.

"Yeah, that's right. I scare all the monsters away," the Doctor told him.

XxXxXxXx

Rose watched the Doctor interact with her family. When her parallel Dad asked him about what he planned to do, she had to speak up. Knowing Pete as she did, he'd try to push the Doctor into working at Torchwood, starting immediately.

During the meal, she watched as the Doctor bantered with her mother as usual. The two of them pretended not to like one another, but it was a thin cover. He talked about a wide variety of subjects with Pete, who had never stopped tinkering and inventing. He even listened to her brother's stories intently, and talked to him like an adult.

After dinner, the Doctor went off with her dad to his workshop to see what he was working on. Rose wanted to go with him, but her mother held her back with talk of one of her shows and what Janice, one of her friends, was doing. Rich or poor, living in a small flat or a large mansion, Jackie Tyler was still the same.

Rose nodded at the right points, but truthfully, she had no idea what her mother was talking about. She didn't watch television in this universe, except for the news. She hadn't watched much contemporary telly since she'd met the Doctor.

When it was Tony's bed time, her mother took him up to his room to put him down. Rose went to Pete's workshop, where she saw the two men looking over one of Pete's inventions.

"If you programmed the timer to set these reactions off at intervals of 2.25 seconds, the rate of- Oh, hello Rose," the Doctor said.

"2.25 seconds?" Pete asked, writing in his little notebook.

"Yeah," replied the Doctor.

"I see the two of you are getting along well," Rose commented.

"Oh, yes," the Doctor said. "I see where you got it from. Your Dad's brilliant," he told her, grinning.

"I'm not her father," Pete interjected.

"Oh, right," the Doctor replied.

Pete leaned back against the worktable and put his hands in his pockets. "Now don't get me wrong. In actuality, I'm her stepfather. In public, I've adopted her. We've made a close relationship, but I'm a different man. Similar, but different."

"I understand that," the Doctor told him, fiddling with some wires. "Can I use your loo?" he asked suddenly.

"Yeah. Make yourself at home here, Doctor. The loo's down the hall 3rd door on the right," Pete said.

Rose watched the Doctor leave. As soon as she was out of the room, she turned to Pete and asked him, "You haven't been pesterin' 'im, 'ave ya?"

"I might have mentioned something about him maybe coming to work at Torchwood," he replied. "We could use 'im, you know that."

"Yes," Rose agreed. "And I'm sure he'll work with Torchwood, but 'm worried about pushin' 'im too far in any one direction. He jus' lost his home, his friends, his universe, even parts a 'imself. He needs time."

Pete nodded. "How's he holdin' up?" he asked. "I asked him, and he said he was alright."

"He always says he's alright, even when 'e's not alright at all," Rose told him. "But he seems to be doing okay so far. Better than I expected, actually. A lot better." She started chewing on her thumbnail, worried about how well he was doing. It seemed a silly thing to worry about, but she knew him; knew that he covered up how he was feeling. She wouldn't be surprised if he was adept at fooling himself into believing everything was great. It worked when they ran, to a point. Things could be pushed back and buried when you had something else to focus on.

"Have you told him about-" Pete started.

"No," Rose answered before he could get his question finished. "We've stuck to simple topics and light stories so far. I don't know how to-"

"He needs to know, Rose. About all of it," her not quite father admonished her. "The longer you wait, the harder it'll be, on both of you. That goes for your mother too, now that you're not leaving."

"I can't, not her," Rose denied, shaking her head. "She wouldn't understand."

"Jacks might be far more open than you give her credit for," he said.

"She just crossed universes, leaving you and Tony behind. An' it wasn' only 'cause she didn' wanna lose her daughter; it was because she was afraid for who I'd become if I went back," she reminded him, a bit cruelly. "She won' understand."

Pete flinched at the reminder. "I'm sorry, Pete."

"No, no. You're right," Pete replied. "Your mother doesn't want any of us messing about with weird things."

Rose snorted. "She's got the wrong family for that." He nodded in agreement.

"I reckon your mother would be ecstatic if we both quit Torchwood, the Doctor stayed put, and the two of you got married and had a bunch of kids," Pete said.

Rose groaned. "Ugh, don't remind me. I'm amazed she didn't say anything at dinner."

"Bunch of kids, now there's a scary thought," the Doctor spoke up. She turned around, wondering how long he'd been standing there. He stood there at the door with his hands in his pockets. Rose thought that he looked really ready to go, but wondered if part of that wasn't her need to get away from the conversation.

"You know, Pete, it's probably time for us to head back," Rose said.

Pete nodded and moved toward the door and the Doctor got out of his way. "I'd offer drinks, but you're going to be driving back," Pete said.

They met Rose's mother on the way. "Oh. You two are about to leave, aren't you?" she said, a little sadly.

"Yeah, I think it's time, Mum," Rose said. "This one has to sleep a lot," she teased, poking the Doctor in the shoulder.

"Ow," the Doctor protested, holding his arm and looking indignant.

"Wuss," Rose said, laughing. Her parents chuckled as they walked toward the front door.

"You two be careful," Jackie told them. Hugging them both in turn.

"Doctor, it was nice seeing you when there wasn't something happening," Pete said, shaking his hand.

"Likewise," the Doctor replied jovially.

They bid each other goodnight, and the Doctor and Rose went back to the car.

"So, how do you like Tony?" Rose asked while they were buckling in.

"He's an alright kid," the Doctor answered. "Smart, talks well for his age, and is curious. I like him."

"I think Tony's got a new hero," Rose said.

"Really?" he asked. "Hero?"

Rose grinned and started the car.

"Really?"

"Yeah. The sonic bit was the clincher," she told him.

The Doctor hummed happily.

Chapter Text

Rose had tears streaming down her face. "I can't. We can't. I'm sorry. I really am." She picked up a button and hit it, disappearing from the universe in a flash of light.

The Doctor woke up from his nightmare. A quick glance at the window told him that the sun had only been over the horizon for a few minutes. The soft light barely illuminated the room.

A warm weight was pressed down on his side and he looked down to see Rose curled against him. Her bare arm was wrapped around him and her leg was thrown over his. This was the first time he had woken up with her like that. Anytime that he'd shared a bed with her before was either a tense situation and he didn't sleep, or, in the previous few days, she was up long before him. He didn't know when she had come to bed. The night before, she had stayed up and seemed distracted by something, but wouldn't tell him what. When did his Rose become so secretive?

He ran his hand down her bare arm, reveling in the feel of her skin. He felt a slight tingle where his bare skin touched hers. Part human or not, he was still a touch telepath. He still felt it when he touched another sentient being. He could easily delve deep into her mind and learn all of her secrets in just a moment if he wanted to.

He could.

He'd learn what she was hiding; why she kept deflecting; what had happened to her in the years they were separated to make her the way she was now. He'd know how she had gotten back to the Prime universe, how she was really taking all of this, and if she really could see past the bastard he used to be to who he was now. He'd understand everything, and then... Then he could fix it.

All he had to do was slip right into her mind. Just a thought away, and he'd know everything.

He could.

But he couldn't.

He took his hand off her quickly, sickened by what he had been thinking of doing. It would go against every bit of trust she had ever shown him. It would break the trust she was showing at that moment by sleeping in the same bed with him.

He got out from under her arm and leg as quickly as he could without waking her up and almost ran out of the room. He went past Rose's little office and out the back door. Once outside, he dropped to the grassy ground against the house and pulled his knees to his chest.

What the hell had he been thinking? Entering another person's mind without their permission was a violation of the highest order. It was- He felt a burning sensation come up his esophagus and realized what was happening just in time to keep from being sick on himself.

This damned body. He couldn't control it, it just...did things! Didn't matter what he wanted to do. It hit him suddenly: this was his punishment for his lapse. It didn't matter that he'd have never actually done it, only that he had thought about it. His other self was right, he was dangerous.

XxXxXxXx

Rose wondered where the Doctor was. He wasn't in the house, but as much as she could tell, there was nothing of his on him except for his pajamas. His screwdriver was even there. Before real worry set in, she heard the unmistakable sound of the back door opening and closing. The Doctor had come back in.

She let him come to her. As soon as she saw him, she realized that he had been sitting outside. His trousers were damp with dew. He looked haunted by something, and walked into the bathroom without noticing her standing there in the doorway of the kitchen.

"Hey, you. Did ya have another nightmare?" Rose asked when he came back out. She went over to him and pushed a lock of hair out of his eyes.

"Something like that," he replied. She put her hand on his cheek, and he leaned into the touch a little.

"You wanna talk about it?" she asked. She knew she was probably wasting her breath with that question before he shook his head. The Doctor would rarely talk about the things from his nightmares. She had to extend the offer, though, to let him know she was there for him.

Suddenly, completely out of the blue, the Doctor asked, "Can I see that dimension cannon of yours now?"

XxXx

A couple hours later, Rose and the Doctor were walking into Torchwood Tower. Both were surprised to find out that the Doctor already had the necessary clearance from the Director.

"Ol' Pete Tyler's on the ball today, isn't he?" the Doctor said as he attached the photo ID with the Torchwood logo on it to the lapel of his suit jacket.

"He wants you," Rose said as they stepped into the lift.

"No offense, but I don't ride that bus. I mean, I've never cared about which bus I was on, but-" He stopped talking when Rose snorted. "What?"

"You knew what I meant." She grinned at him and rolled her eyes.

"Yes, I did. He wants me to work here. I don't know if I can," he admitted.

The lift reached its destination: the same floor that Pete's office was on, and the pair stepped out. They took a different route than they had two days before, quickly coming to a door with a keypad and iris scanner. Rose walked right to it and hit several keys, then stood in front of the scanner as it did its work. She hated that damned thing. Bright, bluish laser light shining right in her eye; that couldn't be good for it.

"Welcome, Doctor, to the Pan Dimensional Transport Machine. Also known as the Dimension Cannon."

They were in the old lever room, right at the top of the building. One wall was glass, separating the main room from the office that had been filled with computer banks. The room was brighter than it had been the last time they were in there. If it were mostly empty, the Doctor would have sworn he were back in the identical room on the other side of the Void.

But it wasn't empty. There were wires all over the place, Thick cables hung from holders in the walls, drooping down until they got to the next holder. More cables crisscrossed the floor, with thick, rubber mats laid down over them to make it harder to trip. A large, circular plate stood near the wall which was the focal point of the particle engines when Torchwood was playing with the hole in reality. More computers lined the walls, and there was an obvious main control console smack dab in the center of the room.

"When I first came 'ere, I was a mess," Rose started explaining. "I didn' know what ta do with myself. I was torn between you comin' to get me, you not being able to come, and you not even trying. It was a week before I'd even thought abou' allowin' them to make an ID for me, and another week before we decided on who I was and my back story. I was hidin' a lot, tryin' to stay away from the press my Mum was getting. Jackie Tyler returned, with no memory of the 20 years before the Cybermen invasion."

The Doctor listened to her intently, though someone else would have thought he wasn't listening at all. He was scanning the room, silently. If he weren't listening, he'd have been babbling. She also knew he was avoiding having to look at her in that moment. And, to be fair, she was avoiding having to look at him.

"After I got my ID, I turned down the offer to work 'ere," Rose continued. "I didn' wanna start up another life."

The Doctor looked up at her sharply at those words, but she continued on. "Pete kept trying to get me to come. He said that they could use my experience. Eventually, I realized that I could use the resources of Torchwood to get home. After all, that's why I was 'ere in the firs' place, righ'?"

"How do you work here?" the Doctor blurted out.

"It was hard at first," Rose answered. She walked over to a computer and booted it up. When the screen came up, she entered the commands she needed. "But this was the best space for it. Over time, I came to appreciate this room for what it could do for me. That hole, it hadn't completely closed."

"What?" the Doctor asked.

"Yeah," Rose said. The data came up on the screen, and she got out of the way so the Doctor could look at it. "This data is right now. The hole is closing on this side of the Void, but it's going very, very slowly. It'll be nearly one hundred and fifty years before it's fully closed."

The Doctor poured over the data, when he was finished, he went over to the wall and looked at it, as if he could see something there that she couldn't. Rose went over with him as he was running his hand over the wall.

"Why's this one spot darker?" he finally asked, pointing to a spot about head height.

"That would be my hand print," Rose softly said. She put her hand in the spot to show him. She'd spent a lot of time there, and over time, the oils from her skin got into the wall.

"Rose," he said softly. "What happened to having a fantastic life?"

"How?" Rose queried. "What was I supposed to do? Dive right into a place I had no business being in? Make friends? Go out like my mother wanted? Go meet someone? Say I found someone I actually liked. Then what? Lie to them? Tell 'em I grew up in such and such place, when I can't be sure 'm describing wha' it looked like 10 years ago? 'Cause I damned sure couldn' tell the truth, now, could I?" Her vision had become a bit watery and her voice had risen by the time she had finished. She turned away and went to the window to calm herself down. She sure as hell wasn't going to cry about that anymore. Enough tears had been spilled.

As she looked over London and the Thames, she felt the Doctor's hand on her shoulder. He gently turned her around and, in a showing of understanding, he didn't push.

"So, how did this all come about?" he changed the subject.

"I started workin' 'ere, and got my hands on one of the old jumpers," Rose explained. "A bit of diggin' around, and I got hold of the research that went into making them. I couldn't read it, like, at all. One day, I approached the main scientists that worked on the project for help, but they couldn't help me. They had actually been told not to mess with dimension jumping anymore. One of them, Toshiko Sato, knew my real origin and pointed me to a range of subjects I needed to study."

"That was nice of her," the Doctor said, a touch sarcastically.

"Yeah, I think, at the time, she thought I would just leave it alone when I realized how much learnin' it was gonna take."

"She didn't know about how stubborn you were," he commented.

"'Snot stubbornness, it's determination," she responded with mock indignation, earning a half smile from the Doctor.

"Potayto, Potahto," he joked. He was examining the large, round platform.

"Anyway," Rose continued, emphasizing the word. "I started gathering books, textbooks, works, whatever. Studied whenever I could. It took me nearly a year before I really started understanding."

She sat down at the console and launched into her explanation that she was sure the Doctor would be impressed with. "The walls between the universes are, in their natural state, somewhat porous. There's the Void in between, of course, but there's nothing actually holding the universes apart. There's two likely ways to travel between them when the walls are right: either by going through the spot where two universes touch, or going through the gaps in the walls when they align." The Doctor stayed silent, letting her explain.

"If a person were to, say figure out a way to predict when the natural gaps or touchin' would 'appen, slipping through would be a breeze. But then you have the problem of countless parallels an' alternates. I decided that wasn't such a problem, 'cause of my TARDIS key and what you told me about Time Lords and parallels. I figured that we could use the key to get to the right universe."

The Doctor nodded his head, looking impressed.

"The major problem," Rose continued, "was in predicting when an' where the alignments between this world and ours would happen. Every so called expert I talked to told me the same thing. It was impossible to find out when an' where the gaps would happen, and even if you could, it'd be impossible to get through to the righ' universe."

"That was my problem," the Doctor told her, looking into her eyes. "I had one tiny gap and could find the right place, but it wasn't enough to get through." She thought he was beseeching her to understand, but she already did.

She got up from her seat and started walking toward him. "The problem with the people who know everything, is that they only think they do," Rose told him. "The so called experts tend to stop when they reach established limits. They say that it's impossible." She stressed the last word.

"I like impossible," the Doctor commented as she got down on her knees next to him.

"I like to beat impossible," Rose told him. "Impossible only means that you haven't found the solution yet."

"Sometimes I've believed in as many as six impossible things before breakfast," the Doctor quoted, causing Rose to smile.

"I'm no expert. 'M just some stupid ape with some textbooks on hand-"

"You're not-" the Doctor interrupted, but stopped when Rose put her finger to his lips and shushed him.

"Makin' a point here," she chided him. "I don't know where the established limits are. I have no preconceptions. And I knew, for a fact, that travel between universes was possible. The problem was that it was highly dangerous to the universes to just pop through like the Daleks, Cybermen, and the others had."

The Doctor pulled a panel off of the side of the raised dais and started poking inside. "So, this hole was here the whole time?" he asked.

"Yeah," Rose replied.

"So, why all the way in Norway when there was a gap right here?" he asked, obviously not actually asking her. She had an answer anyway.

"Names, Doctor," she reminded him. "That beach gave me the determination I needed."

XxXxXxXx

The Doctor was poking in the core of the Dimension Canon while he listened to Rose's explanations. The device itself had elements similar to teleport pads and Vortex manipulators. He hated to even think it, but he couldn't believe Rose had a hand in this. Sure she was smart enough: absolutely brilliant, but the Rose he knew wasn't smart in this way.

As for Rose herself, she had a point about not being able to move on. She'd have to hide everything about who she really was from everyone until she could truly trust them, and then, when she told them, she'd probably lose them. It made sense, and while a part of him wished that she could have had a great life and moved on, a much larger part of him was selfish enough to be extremely glad that she couldn't.

"That beach gave me the determination I needed," Rose finished.

"Ah. Right. Bad Wolf Bay. Though it's name really translates to The Bad Wolf Beach," he lectured. "Strand is beach in Norwegian, and -en added to a word makes it a definitive article, thus stranden by itself means The Beach. And the darlig part, that can also mean poor, sick, and words like that." He stopped babbling about Norwegian when he came to a bundle of little wires that seemed out of place.

He glanced up at Rose to see that she had a real smile on. "What?" he asked.

"I missed your lectures," she told him. He grinned at her and started tracing the wires. He swore his breath disappeared and his heart stopped when he found out what the wires went to.

"Rose?" he asked tersely.

"Yeah?"

"There's a bomb in here."

Chapter Text

"There's a bomb in here," the Doctor told Rose, leaning back from it. He hadn't seen the whole thing, but he saw enough to tell it was a very simple bomb, made with human materials and know how. Anyone could have made it.

"Uh, oh," Rose leaned forward suddenly. She went to reach in, but the Doctor pulled her back.

"What are you doing?" he asked her, bewildered. "It could go off any minute!"

"'S not gonna go off," Rose told him calmly. Was she amused? "I put it there."

"What?" he asked. "Why would you put a bomb in here?!" he shouted incredulously.

Rose put her hand on his chest. "Calm down. This was how we were gonna deal with me bein' gone," she told him. "The story was gonna be that an experiment I was workin' on blew up on me. The plan was to make a very public explosion that all of London would see, without doing much more than cosmetic damage to the building itself. This was also gonna destroy a few parts of the cannon that wouldn' be able to be replaced."

"So, you've been using this thing with a bomb attached?" he asked in horror.

"Only for about a week," Rose defended herself. "Once I knew I was in the right universe. It was safe." Rose reached in, and in just a moment, had the bundle of wires and explosives removed from the machine. She turned it over, plucked a wire, and handed it to the Doctor. "There you go. All disarmed." She then took the bundle back and teased, "On second thought..."

"Oi!" he protested, and Rose laughed.

She put the bomb off to the side, went over to the cannon's platform, and undid a few latches. "I think you'll like this," Rose told him as she started lifting panels off of the top so he could get better access.

Even though he wasn't happy that she'd been using a machine that had a bomb attached to it, he was truly impressed. From the design of the machine, it could be easily adapted to time travel, or just teleportation. They already had teleports, but they were reverse engineered off world technology. This machine and its coding were all human made.

Except for one piece: the power source. The power source was the core of a Hadarian bomb. The core itself was stable. It required another chemical and an electric charge to detonate. A Hadarian bomb was very hard to make explode, but if it did, it'd take out all of the southern part of the UK, at least.

No, this wasn't the UK. This was the People's Republic of Great Britain. Another universe. Right.

He looked around at the room. The damned room, and that forsaken wall. Rose had used Torchwood to achieve her goals, or an approximation of her goals, anyway.

He put his hand in his pocket and touched the coral. Maybe he could use the organization to achieve his.

XxXxXxXx

Their first stop was her office, where the Doctor saw the glass wall overlooking London. It had been used like a blackboard and was covered in notations from her jumps. He looked them over while Rose grabbed some papers that she needed to take to their next stop.

She felt an unknown grief, and when she looked up, she found the Doctor staring at the block of notes for the timeline of Donna's little pocket universe. He reached up and held his hand over her name. He then closed his hand into a fist in anger. For a second, she wondered if he was going to hit the window it was written on. He then let his hand drop to his side and hung his head.

She should have waited to get those papers, until she had cleared off those notes. He hadn't needed a reminder of a close friend he'd never see again.

"Found 'em," she spoke up, pulling him out of his darker thoughts.

"Good," he said, then turned around, no hint of the negative emotions she knew he was feeling on his face.

"You know, you don' 'ave ta hide from me," she told him. She didn't know what made her confront him then, but once the words were out of her mouth, she knew that it was the right thing to do. The Doctor abandoned his mask of happiness, leaving him looking like he was grieving.

He stepped forward, put his hands on either side of her face, and whispered, "Alright, then, Rose. What're you hiding from me?" He stepped back, moving his hands to her shoulders and searching her face for any answers. Once again, she wondered how much he had heard of her and her almost dad's discussion the night before. She hoped that he wouldn't freak out.

"I don't know how to say it," Rose told him in a whisper, shaking her head and looking down.

"I hope that isn't true," he told her sincerely. He pulled her in for a hug. "I know some bad things had to have happened to you. I can see the effects," he said in her ear. Rose stiffened up at hearing that; she didn't want to think about any of it. "I'm here now," the Doctor continued. "Take your time. If you can never get it all out, that's okay, but don't hold it in. Don't hide it. Don't hide from me, and I won't hide from you. Deal?"

He thought that her nervousness the night before was her hiding what had happened to her. It wasn't. She wasn't hiding any of that. They just hadn't gotten around to talking about the bad things that had happened to both of them yet. It had only been a few days since Norway, after all. No, the problem was in how she was going to tell him.

She answered the Doctor's question with a nod, and he gave her a sad smile and kissed her forehead.

XxXxXxXx

The Doctor followed Rose around Torchwood Tower, as it was known in this universe.

"Okay," Rose said. "The first stop is to the labs. I want ya to meet the other two minds behind the Dimension Cannon. Tosh and Malcolm are geniuses on their own, together, the two of 'em are beyond their time," she praised.

"I'll be the judge of that," he said with a sniff.

"Oi! Rude," Rose chided him.

"Yep, that's me," the Doctor replied with a smirk. "Rude and never gonna be ginger. Oh, I could dye my hair like you do!" he realized as they stepped into the lift.

Rose pressed the button and looked at him oddly. Probably gauging how he'd look with red hair.

"No," she decisively said. "You've got the freckles for it, but not the coloring. 'Sides, I like the way you look now jus' fine."

He hummed in appreciation and stepped out when the door opened. From what he could tell from where he was and the fire escape routes shown on a plaque in front of him, the entire floor was laboratories. They were underground here, on the first basement level. It seemed as though the basement levels weren't directly under the Tower: more off to the side, under the streets.

Some of the labs had a glass wall, so that you could see in at a glance. Other labs had a solid door, or a door that had a small window, and the Doctor assumed those were either for more classified works, or more dangerous ones.

The floors above ground that he had seen so far were all professional looking offices, except for half of the top floor, which was the Dimension Cannon's room. They were nice, clean, and professional. This floor, however, was medically sterile: glass, white, and stainless steel, easy to clean. It was professional enough for a series of laboratories. You could bring visitors here if you wanted, but it wasn't made up to be nice like the other levels he had been on so far were.

"Okay, we're going to see Toshiko Sato and Malcolm Taylor," Rose began. "I trust 'em both completely, and, like I said upstairs, they know all about who I really am. They know a bit about you too," she told him.

"Like what?" he asked. The Doctor looked in what labs he could as they went down the main hallway. There were various people working on technology of all kinds. He stopped and looked at one person, who was painting things with a white paint.

"Just some random stories. They know 'bout time travel," Rose answered. "That's an experiment in non toxic glow in the dark paint that can be applied and looks like the color 's supposed to look like. Also, it's gonna be able to light up without having to charge up in light."

The Doctor nodded. That was harmless. He looked around to make sure no one could see or hear them. "Do they know I'm not exactly human?" he asked in a low voice.

"I've never said, but 'm sure they have strong suspicions." They went to the next lab and Rose opened the door. "Malcolm, Tosh, I have someone I want ya to meet!" she called out.

A slightly chubby man with thick glasses popped up. He straightened, pulled off his glasses to clean a smear off of them, and looked at the pair by the door. "Rose! I heard you were back! Oh, hello, who are you?" he asked. He turned away and moved his keyboard over. "That Tosh, how does she sit here at that angle?" he muttered.

"Malcolm, this is the Doctor," Rose told him. The Doctor was surprised. She'd introduced him as Johnathan to other people. On the other hand, Pete's secretary did know who he was.

"Oh, thanks, Rose, but I don't need a doctor. I'm all better now," Malcolm said somewhat distractedly.

"No, Malcolm, this is THE Doctor," Rose stressed. Malcolm looked up, eyebrows raised almost comically. His eyes locked on the Doctor.

"Cor blimey, it is!" he exclaimed. Malcolm went around the table and shook the Doctor's hand. "It's wonderful to meet you! I've heard a lot about you, sir. Never expected to actually meet you! You look just like your picture! I've got to say, your solution with the Cybermen was brilliant!" The entire time he was talking, Malcolm pumped the Doctor's arm up and down with both of his hands.

"Which time?" the Doctor asked, realizing that if Malcolm worked on the parallel transports, that he'd know at least a little of what happened on the other side of the Void.

"Both times, of course," the human scientist replied and let go of his hand.

He was jittery, and the Doctor thought that he seemed to have taken in far too much caffeine. Rose had apparently noticed this too. "Malcolm, did you work last night?" she wondered.

"Oh, yes, I had a breakthrough on non-solid, invisible protection systems," he replied happily and took another sip of his coffee.

A door opened on the other side of the lab and a woman walked in. She was short, had black hair, and Japanese features. She had to be the other scientist, Toshiko Sato.

"Hey, Tosh!" Rose called out.

"Hi, Rose, I didn't expect to ever see you again," she replied. Her gaze settled on the Doctor in confusion.

"Tosh," Rose said. "This is the Doctor." Tosh's face lit up in understanding, then she gave a shy smile.

"That explains much," she commented. "Hello Doctor, it's nice to meet the man behind the stories."

"Ah, you shouldn't believe everything you hear," the Doctor told her. "Unless it's good, then, you know, feel free to believe." He grinned at her, and Rose elbowed him lightly. He glanced at her in time to see her roll her eyes.

Toshiko was a quiet woman, only speaking when she needed to say anything. Something about Tosh, as she preferred to be called, was extremely familiar. He wracked his brain for the answer, but couldn't come up with why she was familiar. He had probably run across someone who looked like her in the other universe.

The Doctor's security clearance was apparently the same as theirs, so he was shown around the various labs in a tour that took nearly an hour.

Rose had to keep him from marching into a couple of the labs and taking the technology in there, though. He argued that the last thing they needed was those bits of tech working and in human hands, but Malcolm assured him that they weren't looking at those for the weapons capability. They only wanted them for their power cells. It seemed logical enough and Rose trusted him, so the Doctor let it drop, for the moment.

Much of what they worked on was in reverse engineering alien and future technology. He was impressed by some of the work. Other work, namely weapons systems, he was less than impressed with. It was about what he expected, though.

As they left the area, Rose asked, "What do you think?"

"About?" the Doctor questioned, stalling for time to come up with his answer. He didn't know for sure what he was going to do yet.

"Anything. Everything," she replied. It was an open ended question. Okay, he could work with that.

"It's a better setup than I expected," he admitted. "Don't like that humans are messing with some of this technology in this time, though."

"Me neither, but there's not much I can do about it. Some of that tech was used against us," Rose told him as they stepped back into the lift. Once inside, she turned toward him, took a deep breath, and said, "I once got hit by that arm cannon they're looking into the power cells of. Nasty bugger. Got me in the hand. Couldn't use it for a bit."

She shouldn't be able to use her hand at all after a Segoe designed cyborg arm attachment hit her. He took the hand that she had waved and looked it over. It looked fine. "I take it there's medical facilities here?" he asked.

"Fourth floor," she answered. "The entire floor. Half of the fifth floor is also medical, but non emergency and the other half is labs for medical."

"What's on all the different floors?" he asked.

"All forty-five above ground and five below ground?" Rose questioned.

"Just the basics, thanks," he replied giving her a grin. The doors of the lift opened and they stepped out into another corridor that looked like offices.

Rose shook her head and sighed. "Basement levels one through three are what you just saw. Four is basically a warehouse of items. Five is a lockup for dangerous artifacts. Ground floor is reception, guest stuff, etc. Level 2 is HR and recruiting. Level three is the identity center and alien processing."

"Identity center and alien processing?" the Doctor asked. He did not like the sound of that.

"Oh, yeah. Sounds worse than it is, I promise. That's where we went last time we were here. 'S just where identities are put together. Also, for undercover work, false papers can be gotten there."

"Alright then. Not nearly as bad as the name sounds," he concurred with a nod.

"I already told you about four and five. Six through nine are tactical. Ten is various specialized offices. Eleven through thirteen are records. Fourteen through seventeen are bunks, safe places, showers, etc. Eighteen through twenty five are more research levels: theoretical, non dangerous, and some electrical."

"Electrical can be dangerous," the Doctor pointed out.

"Yes, yes, it can," Rose agreed. "'Cept it's all low voltage stuff."

After a turn, they were coming to the end of a hallway. There was only one door left there, and it stood wide open. The Doctor figured that they were on the other side of the building from the lift they had taken.

"Floors twenty-six through thirty-one are all teaching," Rose continued as she walked through the open door. "Hey Stacy. Is Melissa in?" Rose asked the tall, thin woman with short, black hair who was at the desk.

"Yes, she is, but she's running a test right now. As soon as it's over, I'll let her know you're here," Stacy told Rose.

"How long's the test been running?" Rose asked.

"About forty-five minutes now," was the woman's short reply as she stood up and started going through a filing cabinet. He could tell that Rose and Stacy didn't like one another.

"Okay, then," Rose told her. She grabbed the Doctor's hand and pulled him over to the chairs to sit down and wait. "We only 'ave about ten minutes to wait," she told the Doctor in a low voice. "Now where was I?" she asked.

"Six floors of teaching," the Doctor answered. That was good. He liked that.

"Okay. So floors thirty-two and thirty three are a library of sorts specializin' in information about non terrestrial species, plant life, poisons, etc. Thirty-four and thirty-five are meeting rooms. Thirty-six through forty-four are all offices. Forty-four also has more meeting rooms and 's where my office is, and forty-five is Dad's office, the Dimension Cannon room, and the boardroom." She didn't seem to realize that she'd called Pete, "Dad."

"What are we here for?" he asked after exactly twenty-eight seconds of silence in which he observed Rose, who looked nervous.

"I want you to meet Melissa," Rose told him. "She's my friend." He was so glad to hear that she had made a friend while here, one she wasn't working side by side with. "She's also telepathic." she added.

"Oh, really?" he asked, curious. "What species is she?"

Rose grinned. "She's human, but she was attacked about fifteen years back by a Wirrsk. The attack was stopped by a Torchwood agent who'd been lookin' for it. Somehow, afterwards, she found out she was telepathic. She was taught to control it, and now tests all new recruits for telepathic ability."

The Doctor flinched at that. Wirrsk would tear through a person's mind. They only attacked people with telepathic ability and no shielding, so Melissa must have been one of those rare humans that had a little bit of natural ability in the first place.

The inner door opened up, and a young man walked out of it, looking confused. He shook his head and walked out the door, muttering about wasting his time.

"Send Rose and the Doctor in," they heard over a small intercom on the desk. Rose was already up and moving toward the door when the secretary turned from the cabinets to tell them they could go in.

He followed Rose through the door. The room inside wasn't anything he expected. Half of it was a wide open space with large pillows on the floor. The other side had two small rooms with glass fronts. Each room held a bed and a very comfortable looking recliner.

He settled his gaze on the women in the room. Rose and Melissa were hugging each other. The dark skinned woman was tall and thin, with a mane of wild, curly hair that he'd not wish on anyone. They pulled back from one another and Melissa held out her hand. He had always tried to avoid the custom of shaking hands when meeting someone new, touch telepath and all, but he was finding today's group to be very touchy. He hoped Melissa wasn't a walking paint shaker like Malcolm was.

"Hello, Doctor. I'm Melissa Saroyan," she introduced herself. "It's good to meet you. Don't worry, you can speak freely with me. I know about the parallel universe where you're originally from, Time Lord."

Her shake was simple and quick, about what he would expect from a telepath who was used to the custom. Even someone who wasn't a touch telepath would have their abilities amplified with skin to skin contact.

There was something warm about Melissa, motherly, even. He could see why Rose and her were friends. She didn't seem like the kind of woman that would be involved in what was, essentially, a paramilitary organization. Then again, even this new Rose didn't seem much like she should be part of it.

"Well, I'm not exactly a full on Time Lord anymore, more like a Galli-" he began babbling, but the rest of his words were cut off when a roaring sound was heard.

The three of them rushed to the window to look out. They saw what looked like a meteor coming down on London. It got louder as it came closer. The giveaway that it wasn't a meteor was the fact that it changed course about 3.2 seconds after they heard it.

Rose turned to the Doctor. "Oh, look. They're playin' our song," she said.

Chapter Text

"Oh, look. They're playin' our song," Rose said to the Doctor after the meteor changed course.

Just before it disappeared from sight, another one just like it appeared. They heard the unmistakable roar of a third, but it was on the other side of the building and they couldn't see it. The sound of the second meteor hitting the ground was heard, but the other two landed too far away from the Tower for the people in the building ten floors up to hear.

Rose pulled out her mobile. "Five. Four. Three," she counted down. When she hit one, it rang. She hit the button and put it down while she pulled her hair back. "Ello."

"Did you see the meteors?" Pete said.

"Yeah, two of 'em, kinda hard to miss," Rose replied, tightening her pony tail.

"I want you to take Jake and Anna and investigate the meteor that landed to the south side," he ordered.

"Okay," she answered. "What about the Doctor?" she asked, watching the man in question. The Doctor was standing there, looking out the window and pretending- horribly- not to be interested in the call.

"If he's willing, he can go too," Pete said, trying not to sound too eager. If she hadn't known him as well as she did, she would have said he succeeded. As it was, she suspected that her almost dad called her directly because he knew she was with the Doctor and wanted to get him involved. Normally, Rose would have received a call from Jake or whichever command center was in charge. "Get him kitted out," he ordered, then hung up the phone, having said all he needed to say.

"Well, then, I guess we'll talk later?" Melissa asked with a flick of her eyes to the Doctor.

"Guess so," Rose said. She stepped toward the door, then turned back and added, "We've got enough telepathy on our team, but keep yourself free for a bit, you might be needed at one of the other sites."

"Will do," Melissa replied. "Doctor, it was good to meet you. We'll be seeing each other soon, I expect."

"Likewise," he said as he stepped out the door without closing it.

XxXxXxXx

He watched Rose in amusement when she counted down the seconds until her mobile rang. While she talked to her step-dad/boss, he listened to the conversation, while thinking about the meteors that had fallen, and thinking about the other woman in the room.

Even though he liked that Rose had made a friend, and he liked her well enough from his first impression, the Doctor was a bit suspicious of Melissa Saroyan. He'd kept his mind locked up tight when near her, just to be certain. A little niggling part in the back of his mind kept telling him that she was too good to be true.

He also wondered how she knew who he was and that Rose and himself were waiting for her when they hadn't been announced. Though he supposed there could have been a camera, and if Rose told her about him, she probably showed him a picture. Maybe.

Because of his nagging suspicion. He checked the timelines he could see, and couldn't see anything sinister. She was a mother, a good one. Her husband had passed on barely a year before. She went to work and home and she would most likely join her husband in the afterlife, if there was one, due to an accident. Much of her time was obscured, but that wasn't too unusual. It was much like Jackie's timeline. She was just a person who was close to Rose.

He'd keep his suspicions to himself, for now.

When they left the office, they started rushing to the nearest lifts, which were much closer than the lift they had used to come up to this floor. He asked Rose what Pete meant by getting kitted out.

"Just a few things for protection," Rose answered. "Jake," she said suddenly, as if she just remembered she was supposed to call him. She pulled out her mobile and was about to hit buttons on it when it rang. "Jake! I was jus' about ta call ya. You near Anna?" she asked.

"Yeah," Jake said on the phone. "Pete called me already. Where d'you wanna meet?"

"Control four," Rose replied.

"See ya there in a few," Jake told her as they stepped into the lift again. Rose shoved the little, black mobile into her pocket, leaned back against the wall of the lift with her head leaned back, closed her eyes, and groaned.

"What's wrong?" the Doctor asked her.

"I hate these things," was the reply he received.

"What?" he asked, incredulously. Since when did Rose not like a good invasion?

"Gearin' up, an' meetin up with a team, an' being ordered ta do what I was probably already goin' to do," Rose responded. "And paperwork! Savin' the world's jus' not the same."

Paperwork. Blah. Paperwork means red tape, and clean up. I hate red tape and clean up. She has that right; It's definitely not the same, he thought morosely. He leaned against the opposite wall with his head hung.

He looked up when the doors of the lift opened a second later to see Rose's gaze on him. "There's some good points too," she said, stepping out of the lift. "No one questions whether or not I'm supposed to be there. When it comes to alien activity, no one has more authority than us. No more getting locked up or thrown out because we're not supposed to be somewhere."

He perked up a bit at that. It'd certainly be easier to investigate. He looked around the floor they were on. The room was divided up into three parts. One half held tactical gear of various types. There were many types of body armor, headgear, canisters, bags, etc. The other half of the room was divided between weapons and what looked like lockers for individual gear. He already didn't like this room.

There were two people over in the tactical area grabbing items and adding them to belts and pockets. One man was over in the weapons, picking up what looked like a sniper rifle, but of a design he didn't recognize.

"Rookie," she called out. "You on the meteors?"

"Yes, ma'am. Northwest side," he replied, straightening up and giving her a salute. The Doctor would have wondered why the man was going to take such a big weapon if he didn't know that humans tended to overreact. He hoped they didn't this time. The salute amused him, though. He hated receiving one, because he didn't deserve it. This wasn't him receiving the sign of deference, though; it was Rose.

"Don't salute me, Rookie. What're ya pickin' up tha' one for?" Rose rebuked him. "Always try for the non-lethal option." She stalked over there, grabbed a small blaster, checked it over, and handed it to the young, blonde man. "There's no need to go in all menacing-like. Have a weapon on ya, but never make it your firs' choice. An' keep it on stun."

The Doctor watched her familiarity with the small energy gun with a pang. The Rose he'd lost would have never touched a gun, now she had demonstrated familiarity with a few weapons. His meddling in her life had turned her into a soldier.

Now that's not true, another part of his mind chided him, reminding him that she'd taken up a bolt gun back when they had dealt with the Beast. She hadn't shot the possessed man that she had killed directly, but she might as well have.

Rose had finished with the other agent and was calling his human name from nearby the tactical gear. When he walked over, Rose asked, "Penny for 'em?"

"It's nothing," the Doctor replied. Rose just raised her eyebrow, clearly not believing him. "I don't see why I've got to have all this stuff. I don't need it. I've never needed it before," he admitted, looking over at one of the agents leaving the floor, fully geared out and looking like he was going into a full blown war.

"I remember wondering how the 'ell I was gonna move about in all of that. We don' have to kit out that much," Rose told him, sounding a bit amused. "The basics give us a lotta' choices. 'E's wearin' mostly Earth designed gear. He feels bettah with the bulky wear." She took his hand and led him down the row of torso armour to the end.

She opened a drawer and reached in. "Take off your jacket an' shirt," she said.

"What?" the Doctor asked, feeling his face get warm.

"We need to get goin' Doctor. Take off your jacket and shirt so you can put this on. Or are you shy?" she asked, flirtatiously. "'Cause I've already seen it all," she informed him with a mischievous glint in her eyes. "Well, almost all," she amended.

"What?" When?" he asked, trying to remember a time when he would have been bare before her. He swallowed, heat building at the thought.

"How do ya think you got in those jim jams? I'll be right back." She winked and handed him what looked to be a black, shiny jumper. After she disappeared with a giggle, he examined the material, trying to turn his thoughts around. It didn't weigh much more than the standard, cotton shirt he'd always wore underneath his Oxfords in his full Time Lord body.

Suddenly, he recognized the fabric. Contemporary Plancian designed klinta. Contemporary in the prime Universe anyway, though it was probably the same where he was. The fabric was originally designed for dignitaries, but quickly became used for many functions where one's life was possibly in danger. It was soft and would move with the wearer, but become hard instantaneously if an object hit it, kind of like starch and water. When one jumped on the mixture, it became hard enough to move across, but if a person were to walk slowly, they'd sink.

The problem with the Placian designed fabric was that unlike starch, it would not relax afterward, and could not be cut. It wasn't really fabric, though. Fabric was woven strands. Klinta was one large molecule formed into the needed shape. It was extremely good armour.

It's just armour, he thought. Protective equipment, what harm can it do? He removed his jacket and undid the buttons of his oxford. Just as he was picking up the protective undershirt, Rose came back, holding what looked like a wristwatch. She was always asking him what time it was, so he knew it wasn't actually a watch, or at least not only a watch.

"Okay, this is for-" she started, but stopped when she saw him, eyes locked on his chest. He tried not to smirk, knowing she was getting her due for what she'd done a minute and a half before. Of course, it was backfiring a bit, thanks to the predatory look on her face.

"Is something wrong?" he asked, as if he didn't know exactly what he was doing, then pulled the soft body armour over his head. By the time he popped his head through the hole, Rose had put the watch down on top of his jacket.

"Yeah, we're wasting time. Put the comm and earwig on. I'll be getting my kit on at the lockers," she said in the same commanding tone she had used on the agent earlier as she went past him.

The Doctor had the distinct impression that Rose had ordered him about because she was flustered. He chuckled at the thought. He found that he loved making her that way.

XxXxXxXx

Rose was digging in her locker and cursing to herself for starting that back there. Get it together, Tyler. You've got work to do. That bleeding Time Lord had always been able to make her like that, he'd even flirted back just as much. She was older now, though. Supposedly wiser. She had a job to do. She shouldn't have flirted like that when there were things to do.

She found the gear she needed and quickly got ready. When she pulled her shirt back down, she turned around to see the Doctor standing there. He was leaning against the locker at the end of the row with his arms crossed, pointedly not looking at her. She wondered how much he'd seen, then decided that it didn't matter. She'd been wearing a bra, had her back turned to him, and if she had it her way, he'd see a lot more. No, Stop that!

"Ready to go, then?" she asked.

The Doctor stood up straight and said, "Yep!"

"'M almost ready," she told him, picking up her blaster and putting it in the holster. She didn't miss his dark look as his eyes tracked the weapon to the holder at the small of her back. She was going to have to be patient with this. She'd been waiting for him to blow up over her showing up back home with a giant gun. When Mickey heard what she was likely going up against, he pushed the gun in her hands and told her to take it.

"I don' like it anymore than you do," she told him. "Had to start carryin' it to be able to go ou' like this."

"You're very comfortable with it," he accused.

"Yeah, well, it's saved my life and the lives of others many times," Rose told him unapologetically. "I keep it on stun settin's, 'cept for this one time, where I had ta change it after stun just made whatever that was angry. Well, it made him angrier, but the higher setting put 'im out long enough to lock 'im up." The corners of the Doctor's mouth turned up a bit at that and Rose knew he'd not push against her having weapons anymore unless he had a different reason than just not liking it.

She put her comm on her wrist and stuck the earwig into her right ear. Taking a deep breath, she picked up a blaster identical to the one strapped to her back. "I know how you feel about it. You don' have to carry one," she told him, stressing the word 'have.' "You're marked down as a consultant righ' now. There's different rules."

"Good," the Doctor spoke up happily. "Ready to go then? I'm ready to go see one of these meteors that've got everyone up in arms. You know, we could have been there already, but-" He stopped speaking when Rose took his hand and placed the blaster in it. "Rose. I can't," he whispered. She felt his fear.

"Can't, or won't?" she asked.

"Won't," he responded.

"When the winning Roman generals would come back from battle victorious, they would have a slave with them, whispering reminders in their ears that they were only mortal men, not gods, that they would die one day," Rose told him, trying to get him to understand why she wanted him to carry a weapon. She didn't think she could get him to, but it was worth a try.

"Memento Mori," he spoke. He looked down at the weapon in her hand and put his own hand over it. "I can't," he repeated, pushing the blaster back toward her. Why was he afraid?

"Just put it in your big pockets," she told him. He shook his head. "For my piece of mind? You don't 'ave to use it, don' even 'ave to draw it or make 's presence known. With those pockets, you can even be patted down and no one know." When she saw that he was wavering, she looked around to make sure no one was in hearing range.

"You don't have a get out of death free by regeneration card anymore, Doctor. The armor and gun will only work against some things that might come after you, but I know I can't wrap you up in cotton wool and protect you. You'd drive me more barmy than you already do," she whispered.

"Oi," he protested weakly, but he put the blaster in his jacket pocket. "I don't need to be protected. If anything, it's you who need to be protected, oh Jeopardy Friendly one," he teased, trying to lighten the mood.

"Thank you," she said and hugged him. "And yes, you do, Trouble Magnet," she teased when her mouth was near his ear. She kissed his cheek, pulled back, grabbed her blazer off the bench, and beckoned him. "Well, come on, we have to meet up with the rest of the team."

XxXxXxXx

The Doctor had allowed himself to be talked into carrying a Bilitian stunner by Rose. After his realization that morning, he was afraid to have it. He buried it in his pocket and tried to forget it was there.

They went up to the next floor, which held tactical centers. He just followed Rose, who actually knew where she was going. He looked around, still trying to decide whether or not he'd work for these people in something other than a consulting capacity.

"Sit rep," Rose ordered as soon as she burst through the door marked C-4. There was a flurry of activity inside, people sitting at stations all around three edges of the room. The fourth wall was large screens.

"Good afternoon, Miss Tyler," one of the people at a station near her said. "Here are the coordinates of all three meteorites, with each marked on this map." The young man handed her a sheet of paper. Rose glanced at it and handed it to the Doctor with a significant look.

The Doctor took a look, and automatically noticed that the three meteors-now meteorites-had landed in a perfect, or at least near perfect equilateral triangle with each one just outside the city proper. There was no doubt, just glancing at the map, that this wasn't an accident.

"I'm sorry, Sir, but you can't-" the young man, who looked all of twelve Earth years of age, started.

"He can an' 'e will," Rose cut him off quickly in a tone that left no room for argument.

"Yes, Ma'am," he replied and quickly sat back down. He looked to be in fear. Rose went to the middle of the room, where Jake Simmonds, and a woman he was unfamiliar with stood talking.

"Doctor," Jake greeted. "Good to see ya!"

"And you too, Jakey-boy. Been keeping out of trouble?" the Doctor asked.

"Nah. What fun is that?" Jake asked and the Doctor grinned at him.

"This is Anna Sherman, our medic," Rose said, directing his attention to the woman to the side of Jake. Her hair was pitch black, and she looked pale. Anna wore an all black pants suit. "Anna, this is Johnathan Smith."

With that introduction, the Doctor knew that Anna didn't know about who he really was and that she wasn't one of the people Rose trusted implicitly. That didn't mean she wasn't trustworthy, though, so he wouldn't treat her with suspicion.

Anna waved, a greeting action the Doctor preferred over a handshake, no matter how tactile he was. When her sleeve rode up, the Doctor noticed a black widow tattoo on her wrist. Combined with her clothing, complexion, and hair, the Doctor figured that she was probably a Goth, dressed down for work.

"Hello!" she practically chirped excitedly. Okay, so a bubbly goth.

He nodded at her and said, "Hi," quickly. "So, are we going there?" He was done with introductions and tactical weaponry and all and was anxious to get to one of these meteors.

"Finally!" Anna spoke up, obviously just as frustrated as he was. She'd only spoken two words to him, and he already decided that he liked her. "Jake made me go get a vest and a gun." Now that she'd said more than one word at a time, the Doctor could tell that she was an American.

"I know," he agreed. "Rose made me do the same. And I hate guns," he told her.

"This is the first time you've been out in an entirely unknown situation." Jake told her. He turned to Rose. "You were handed a paper when you came in," Jake observed. "Is that the coordinates I've been waiting on?" he asked.

"Yeah," Rose answered. "And take a look at the map." The Doctor took that as a cue to hand him the paper he still held.

Jake looked at the map for a second. "Well, that seals it," he said, handing it to Anna. He pushed up his sleeve, and the Doctor noted that he was one of the twenty-two people who had a Gizmo. He watched Jake hit a string of buttons on the small device. Beside him, Rose did the same.

"OK, the probabilities that that's an accident are so low that we might as well just say it's not an accident," Anna rambled, a little bit freaked out.

"That's why ya 'ave the vest, Spider," Rose told her. "Don' worry, you'll be fine."

"Beta and Delta's on the way already. They'll call in for the exact location as they get closer," Jake told her. "Ready?" he asked Anna.

"Nope, but let's do it," she responded gamely. She put her hand on his wrist strap and screwed her eyes shut.

The Doctor placed his hand on Rose's teleport, remembering the last time they'd used one of them. It was one of the easiest teleportation devices he'd ever used.

Rose called out, "Teleportation in three-" The Doctor saw the people of the room look away from the corner.

"Two."

He took a deep breath, wondering about how nauseous he was gonna feel.

"One."

The world lurched.

Chapter Text

Starting Over Chapter 17: Meteorites

XxXxXxXx

The world lurched and suddenly, they were in a small neighborhood, right next to a grocer's. The Doctor bent over, feeling a a bit nauseous, not for the first time that day. Next to him, Anna was doing the same. Jake stood nearby, standing still. Rose, for her part, was turning around in a circle, taking in their surroundings.

When he was sure he wasn't going to lose the lunch he'd had with Malcolm, he stood up straight and looked around. Rose was heading off to the obvious location of the meteorite. A small group of people stood around the mouth of an alley, trying to get a look at what was smoking.

The Doctor caught up with Rose quickly, with Anna and Jake right on his heels.

"Nothing to see here, people." A few people looked her direction. One left, but everyone else stayed. "Move it!" Rose shouted after trying to get through the crowd. "This location is now under Torchwood authority!"

Two more people left, grumbling, and a third ran away, looking back often. The rest opened up a passage into the alley so that the four people could get through.

"Jake," Rose called back when they were through. "Screen and interviews."

"Got it," Jake replied. He turned back to the crowd and made them back up so that no one was in the alley. He pulled out a roll of yellow and red tape, attaching it to each building on either side, then reached into his backpack and pulled out a white bundle that turned out to be a frame and a sheet, so people couldn't see inside any longer. A chorus of 'awwwws' sounded when the crowd's view of the meteorite was blocked.

The meteorite was up ahead, leaning against the brick wall on one side of the narrow space. The Doctor could see the path the meteor had taken as it fell. Burning clothes laid on the ground, still attached to the clothesline they were hanging from. A window air conditioning unit had fallen to the ground, smashed and twisted. Its brackets were still attached to the wall above. There was a gouge on the wall, where bricks were broken.

As soon as the screen was up, the Doctor took out his sonic and started scanning for everything, starting with radiation, what gasses were being given off, and anything that may be harmful.

The meteorite was almost as tall as he was, and oval shaped. It glowed still from the heat of entry, but barely, and the glow was fading fast. Anna was taking pictures of the scene, while Rose walked around the meteorite, just looking at it.

"Doctor?" Rose asked. The Doctor finished his scans and looked at her. "Anything?"

"From what I see and have scanned," the Doctor answered, "there's no dangerous gasses except smoke and only minor levels of radiation. Best not touch it or go within 4 centimeters of it, just in case. As far as I can tell, it's a regular meteorite.

"Except?" Rose prompted.

"Except for the trajectories and landing places of the three meteors," the Doctor said. "There's something I can't see here." He ran his hand through his hair as he thought.

Anna came up to him and slapped a pair of gloves that looked to be latex, but were thicker and not see through in his hand. "Put these on, Mr. Smith. They've got lead particles in the center layer." She handed Rose an identical pair, and, without a word, Rose pulled them on.

"Probably hollow," Rose commented.

"My scans say it's solid, but something could be blocking the sonic."

She went over to Anna's box, which was sitting there open and picked up a long, flat head screwdriver. A regular screwdriver. The Doctor had just enough time to wonder what she was going to do with it when Rose went over to the meteorite and smacked it right in thew middle of the oval shape with the metal part.

A reverberation sounded. It was dull, but distinct.

"Hollow?" Anna asked, fear and wonder in her voice.

"Yep," he answered, popping the 'p'. He slid the gloves he was still holding on and approached the meteor. "The walls are thick, but if I can..." he thumbed through the settings of the sonic and ran it over the meteorite. "Aha!"

Suddenly, what looked like a line of lava made a small circle on the meteorite. When it was complete, the circle pulled in toward the middle of the meteorite.

"Uh, oh," Rose said, pulling the Doctor away from in front of the hole. He allowed himself to be moved. Anna had quickly positioned herself close to the mouth of the alley, near the screen, ready to bolt in a second if need be.

When the small circle had pulled in, a larger circle started forming. That one split in four when it started moving and slid out of view. Rose and the Doctor waited with bated breath, each wondering what was inside and what would happen when it came out. Both were trying to get the other one to stand back a little further from it than they were.

The pieces of the little door stopped moving, and nothing happened. There was no rush of air-in or out, no ramp, no alien, no gas seen, or gas that could be detected with the screwdriver.

"Could they be hurt?" Rose asked, leaning in toward the Doctor to try to get a better look into the small hole.

"It's possible," the Doctor said. With nothing at all happening, the Doctor thought that whatever might be in there was either dead or unconscious. He started inching closer, using his sonic screwdriver to both light up and scan anything he could.

"Careful," Anna called out, worried. She'd come back closer to the meteorite when it hadn't done anything, curiosity winning over fear.

"Don't worry, Spider. 'E does this all the time," Rose assured her.

"Spider. You're called that because of the tattoo on your wrist, right?" the Doctor questioned, trying to learn more about the woman they were with.

"How did you know that?" Anna asked.

"When we met, I saw it when you waved," he responded.

"You're very observant," she replied, studying him. "I've never seen you around the Tower before. How long have you been working for Torchwood?"

"Oh, I don't," the Doctor replied grinning over at her. "Freelance, me." He took another step forward, waving his sonic at the hole. "I should be getting something, anything out of this meteorite!" he exclaimed frustratedly and hit the sonic against his hand. "Well, I suppose it's really a pod or a ship of some type, a meteorite is more of a rock or some type of space debris that's hit the ground. Though this still also falls within the scope of a meteorite, when you look at the definition of a meteorite as a body from space that has come through the atmosphere and hit the-"

The sonic must have finally been close enough to the hole to get past whatever was blocking his sonic, because he suddenly got a reading from it. Rose, who was on her comm to the other two teams and giving them a status update so they might know what to expect with their own meteorites, told the other teams to keep watch and report anything they saw.

"What is it, Doctor?" she asked.

"There's life signs inside," he said, and reached in.

"What are you-" Anna started, while Rose automatically took a step forward to pull him back.

"It's okay," the Doctor assured them.

"The radiation," Rose reminded him.

"Is very minor, and we're hit with the same radiation all day every day. Don't worry," he replied. He moved his hand in the space gently and felt one of the beings inside. He scooped his hand under the small, soft body and brought it out in the light. "Of course," he breathed out. "Rose?"

Rose knelt beside him and held out her hands to take the tiny alien from him. She looked at the female Noran wide eyed. She was mostly a lavender color, as all the females of her race were. Her wings were light, see through blue and green. She and her kind looked like they might have been the fairies of lore. Except these weren't fairies. The fairies from lore were bad news.

"It's beautiful," Anna breathed out.

"I think she's sick," Rose whispered reverently. She looked pained, and the Doctor loved that she was still sympathetic after all she'd been through. A flash of their conversation on the beach flashed in his mind. "...it was intermittent, like I'd feel emotions sometimes, like a pleased feeling that wasn't my own..." The evidence was stacking up that Rose really was empathic, and it explained much about her.

He turned his mind back to the task at hand and scanned the Noran woman. "She's just been knocked out. She'll be okay." Seeing the look on Anna's face, and knowing Rose would enjoy the information, he started lecturing. "She's a Nora. They're extremely peaceful," he assured the women and Jake, who was walking down the alley toward them."They have to be. Between their empathy and their delicate natures, they can't be anything else." He reached inside the pod to see if there were any more of the Nora inside.

"That scanner," Anna said, pointing at his sonic. "Where did you get that? I've never seen technology that can scan for lifeforms, do a medical diagnostic on-"

"It's mine," the Doctor interrupted her. "I designed it over many years, combining technologies from all over the place. And, no, I'm not sharing it." He had added the last bit when he noticed that she was looking at it enviously.

He expected Rose to remind him about how rude he was being, but as he talked to Anna, she had transferred the sleeping Noran to one hand, hit her comm and told the other two teams what they found out.

"Jakey-boy. Anna. You got anything on you that's soft? A hat. A scarf?" he asked.

"Why?" Anna asked.

"Someplace to lay them?" Jake questioned as he reached in his bag.

"Yep," he replied.

Rose got off the comm. "That info was jus' in time. Delta Team, the site to the, uh, Northeast reported that their meteorite was openin' up."

He breathed a sigh of relief. If they were anxious, things could get bloody quickly. This had the potential to avoid bloodshed now that they had information.

Jake handed him a knit cap and he put his sonic down to lay it out. He laid the reddish male he had just brought out of the pod on it and Rose did the same with the female she held. The Doctor put his arm in the hole again to check for any others. He searched and was just about to give up when he found a third Noran. It was smaller, and when he pulled it out, he saw that it was a young girl.

"A family?" Rose said, shocked.

"It looks like it," the Doctor replied grimly. A thought hit him, and he stuck his head as far as he could into the hole. It was too dark to see anything, so he pulled his head out and asked Anna for a small torch. She handed it over, and the Doctor turned it on and put it in the hole, then put his head back in there.

He couldn't see much, just a little sliver of the space inside, but what little he saw confirmed his suspicions. He immediately reached for his comm to get in contact with the other two teams.

"Beta and Delta teams," he started, using the designations Rose had used while she was talking to them. "We've got families. The meteorites are escape pods. Delta team, your pod is open?"

"Yes," came a man's voice over the comm.

"And they haven't come out?" he questioned.

"No. We've got no noises, no indication of life, nothing, just a really dark hole," replied the voice of the person on Delta team.

"Okay. Get whoever you've got that has the gentlest touch. Have them reach in and carefully look for the occupants. Lay them out on something soft to wake up," he instructed. "Be careful of their wings," he added quickly. "Beta team, anything happening at your site?"

"No, nothing yet," replied a younger sounding voice.

"You heard what I said. If your pod opens before I get there to open it, do the same."

"Yes, Sir," the young voice replied. He let the Sir part drop.

"Do not move the pods before the occupants are removed," Rose ordered them. She turned to Jake. "Witness statements?"

"All pretty much the same thing," Jake started. "Meteor flying through the air. Meteor hits here. Several reported seeing a change in direction at one point. Two also added a detail of two beams of pinkish light shooting off that way." He pointed to the North.

"That would be part of the escape pod's emergency systems," the Doctor informed everyone. "Each pod links up with at least one other, preferably two as they fall. They land at known distances from one another, so that the survivors are easily found. The pods put the occupants to sleep in an effort to spare them the psychological trauma of the landing, and the people are held in a force-field until after the fall to spare them the physical trauma. It's a brilliant system, really. Built to save the people in the pods-the pod people." He grinned and Anna rolled her eyes, Jake groaned, and Rose was trying to hide a smile.

One of the survivors, the female who was freed first, started stirring.

Chapter Text

Start Over 18: Offers

Rose watched the Doctor talk with the Noran that had woken up first. Their language sounded like cooing and trilling. Anna had pulled a translator device out of her toolbox and Jake and Rose were standing on either side of her, reading what the device said.

The Doctor was assuring the tiny alien that she and her family were safe and they would do everything they could to get them where they were meant to be going. The two unconscious aliens had started stirring by the time the assurances were accepted. They made a noise as they woke, alerting the Nora female, who's name was Olnee, and she rushed over to them to check on them.

"Status update," Rose heard over the comm. "One of our Nora are waking up," Delta's team leader informed everyone. Both of the other teams also had a translation device with them and knew the protocols for contact with non-hostile life forms. Protocols that Rose herself had tweaked. The other teams would do okay.

The Doctor instructed Jake to take the Noran family to the Tower, then told Olnee that she was going to meet up with the rest of her people there. Jake left with the three Nora in a flash of light, leaving Anna, Rose, and the Doctor behind.

"The pod to the Northwest still hasn't opened yet," Rose announced.

"I was afraid of that," the Doctor replied grimly.

"We need to go there, don't we?" she asked as she pulled out the map they'd been given so she could work out the coordinates for her teleport.

"Yeah," he answered. "Gotta get that pod open."

"Spider," she called. Anna, who had been putting her toolkit back together, looked up at Rose. "Stay 'ere with the escape pod until retrieval arrives," Rose ordered her.

"What about them?" Anna questioned, pointing a thumb back at the curtain Jake had put up at the end of the alley to keep people from watching them. "What if they- You know?" she asked, waving her hands. "Cause I'm a pacifist. Unless someone's life's in danger, I won't-" she gestured to her side, where they could see the blaster she had to carry. Rose and the Doctor grinned at her. "What?" she asked, obviously uncomfortable.

The Doctor folded his arms and leaned against the brick wall. "How long have you been doing this?" he wondered, returning her question from earlier.

"I've been with Torchwood for a little over a year," Anna answered. "But, yeah, I'm new to this. I've only been going into the field for a few weeks."

The Doctor nodded, his theory having been confirmed. "You don't have to worry about that lot," he told her.

"With the screen up so people can't see inside, that lot think there's four people in 'ere," Rose informed her. "Four armed people," she added. "They won' bother you, though 's always possible that you may get one nut job, but you can handle it," Rose explained. "I called for Recovery earlier. It should be ten minutes tops."

Anna nodded. "That's not so bad. Hey, it's my first time. Solo, that is. Good Luck, Wolf. You too, Mr. Smith." Anna held her thumbs up. Rose returned the thumbs up, with a grin.

The Doctor put his hand on Rose's teleport, and she whisked them away to the site to the Northwest.

They materialized about a block away from the unopened escape pod. One person noticed them appear. He did a double take, then shook his head, got in the car, and drove away.

"People," Rose muttered. Meteors falling from the sky right there. Controlled chaos was only about a block away. People appeared out of nowhere. And only one person gave them a glance, then shrugged it off.

The Doctor was next to her, looking a little green. Rose rubbed his back and told him, "You'll get used to it. I remember the first time Jake and Mickey went. Micks threw up. Jake- well I'll keep that to myself."

The Doctor straightened up and glared at her. "Thanks for the image," he said sarcastically. "I shouldn't be getting nauseous at all. I didn't used to," he complained.

"Earlier version and a different universe than what we used before," Rose explained as they walked toward the commotion a block away. The pod had landed in a small park, and Rose was glad that it had crashed there during school hours, when the park was empty. This meteorite, being out in the open on two sides, was a bit harder to shield than the other ones. Beta team had known this beforehand and brought a different screen setup than Jake had. Their screen was like the tents used at festivals with side walls.

Rose and the Doctor went around the screen and looked at the escape pod. This one looked just like the other one, as if it were a standard meteorite, blackened from entry into the Earth's atmosphere.

"Nothin's 'appened on its own?" Rose asked as soon as she saw it.

"No, Ma'am," one of the team members answered. She thought his name might be Steven.

The Doctor walked right up to the pod and touched it with his still glove covered hands, as if he were feeling for a spot. The team around them looked at one another in confusion.

"Who is he?" one of the other team members asked, pointing at the Doctor.

"Doctor Johnathan Smith," Rose replied. "He's an expert." It was all the explanation that she was going to give anyone right now.

"One of you have a screwdriver? Or a long piece of metal?" the Doctor asked, and Rose tried not to snicker at the part human Time Lord, with his sonic screwdriver, asking for a regular, non-sonic screwdriver.

One of the team members handed him a metal rod, and the doctor started tapping the oval shaped escape pod around the center. Finally, he came to the spot that sounded hollow, and he smiled and handed the rod back to the man who had given it to him.

"Found you," he said to himself. He held the sonic out and activated it, jumpstarting the escape pod's door sequences. The door opened just like the doors in the others did.

One major thing was different, though, when the seals on the door broke, a puff of smoke came out. The members of Beta moved back quickly, in order to get away from the Noran escape pod. Rose stepped forward, ready to do whatever was asked of her. The Doctor got closer, and as soon as the opening was wide enough, he stuck his arm in and felt around.

The Norans that he brought out were asleep, like the others she'd seen, but singed. One of them had a burn on her hand. Another's wing looked crumpled. There were five Nora in this pod, and every one of them looked to be injured in some way.

"It looks like the force field glitched," the Doctor explained, scanning them. "We need to get them back to the Tower."

XxXxXxXx

Four hours later, the Doctor stood on the roof of Torchwood Tower, looking up at the darkening sky. One of the pinpricks of light, larger than the rest, was getting smaller. The twelve people from Nora were headed back home. Nine of them were unharmed, or nothing worse than bruises. One had a broken wing, but would be able to fly again with the help of technology. One had a burn, but their people could fix it. One of them was in a coma. Their people didn't know for sure what would happen with her. He did.

Rose walked up beside him. "Well, that's that."

"Yep," he replied simply. He looked over at her and grinned. "Lepola will be alright."

"Lepola? That's the woman who's still out?" Rose asked. At the Doctor's nod, she replied, "Oh, that's great!"

"She'll wake up in two days," he told her and looked back up to the few stars that could be seen over the city.

"Penny for 'em?" Rose asked, making the Doctor chuckle.

"Today's the first time since I've been in this universe where I felt like myself," he admitted.

Rose grabbed his hand and leaned into his shoulder in sympathy. "Yeah," she sighed. "I know exactly what you mean. We've been busy since we got 'ere, so there's not been much time to think on things."

He worried what would happen when they did have time to think.

"The boss wants to speak with ya," Rose said, changing the subject. The Doctor groaned, and Rose chuckled. "The powers that be will also be wantin' a report from you, you know."

Oh, no, no,no,no. Paperwork. He just gave her his best pleading look.

"Luckily for you, I happen to 'ave taken pity on you. While you were trillin' with the Norans, I wrote yours up for you. All you need to do is add details. But 'm not going to do it for long, 'kay Mister?" she teased him, poking her finger into him.

"Have I told you yet today how much I love you?" he asked, seriously.

Rose's face went from teasing to serious immediately and she shook her head. The Doctor turned, cupped her cheek with his hand and pressed a soft kiss to her lips. He kept it chaste, though.

"What do you think I should do about what Pete wants?" he asked. He knew what it was all about. The man let the Doctor tag along on a mission and hoped it would have him wanting to work for them.

"That is up to you. Each has good and bad things about it," Rose told him. The Doctor had three choices: Work for Torchwood outright; be a consultant; or do something completely different away from Torchwood.

"What would you do?" he asked.

"Wait on any concrete decisions," Rose replied automatically. "Think about it."

"That was a non answer," he told her, eyebrow raised.

"These are important decisions that could affect years of your life. I think you should take some time and weigh everything before you make any sort of concrete decisions. You can remain a consultant right now and make decisions later."

What she didn't say, or need to say was that later should be when he's had time to come to grips with his new reality.

"'M not gonna tell ya what to do with this life," Rose added. "'Syour life, yeah? Your decisions. Enough of your decisions have already been taken. I'll be in my office when you're ready." She then turned and walked over to the stairwell, leaving the roof and him alone.

The Doctor sighed, and went to the stairwell. It was time to meet with Pete Tyler.

XxXxXxXx

"Hello, Doctor," Peter said as the man walked into his office.

"Hi, Pete," he replied.

The Director of Torchwood didn't waste any time on small talk. He merely picked up a thick packet and handed it to the Doctor.

"What is this?" the alien asked, looking at the packet in his hand, but not taking it.

"Information you'll need to know on working here," Pete replied, hoping the Time Lord would take the packet already, it was heavy.

"And what if I don't want to become an employee of Torchwood?" the Doctor asked wearily.

Realizing that he wasn't going to take the packet from him, Pete put it down on the other side of the desk. He picked up a second, thinner packet, and held it out. "This is information on working with us as a consultant. You'd have less authority, though."

When the Doctor gave it the same suspicious scrutiny that he'd given the first packet, Pete didn't even bother trying to get him to take it, he laid it on top of the other thick envelope.

"The thing is, Pete," the Doctor started, scratching the back of his neck. "Torchwood is responsible for a lot of bad things. I'm sure a lot has changed, but I'm not comfortable with working for you, yet."

Pete sat back and scrutinized this man. Both Rose and Jackie had told him that this wasn't the original Doctor, that the man in front of him was part human, but he was still the Doctor in all the ways that counted. He'd only met the man a couple of times, but the Doctor he'd met before was self assured. This Doctor still had the cockiness, but had a bit of insecurity as well.

"I understand your point, Doctor," Pete said. "Take the packets. Look through the information. You don't have to make any decisions yet, but we'd be happy to have you here."

"I'm over nine hundred years old, Pete. I've spent at least seven hundred of them in a nomadic lifestyle. If I take this job, I can't promise you that I won't walk out of Torchwood in the middle of the day because I need some freedom. I can't promise that I won't need to get away for a few days, or a week because I'm going mad staying in one spot."

"Details can be worked out later, Doctor. For right now, we have you in the system as a consultant," Pete informed him. "You have the freedom to come and go whenever."

The Doctor picked up the packets and turned to leave. He took two steps toward the door, then stopped and turned back around.

"What if I decide that I don't want to work with Torchwood at all?" he asked.

"I wish you would, but that's your decision," the Director of Torchwood replied. "Jacks would be happy, though."

The Doctor nodded and left the office. When the door closed, Pete picked up his phone and made a call.

"Hi Jacks. I'll be home shortly."

Chapter Text

 

The Doctor was fairly certain the events of the next day would become routine for both of them, now that Rose wasn't taking trips into other universes whenever possible and he was stuck on Earth.

They both went into Torchwood, where the Doctor worked down in the technical labs until lunch. Then, he met up with Malcolm and Tosh, who he'd worked with for an hour earlier. The three of them went with Rose to a little deli two blocks away from the Tower.

The Doctor spent his afternoon on level B-4, the warehouse. He spent a lot of time looking through various uncatalogued items, telling the attendant what each one was. It was almost as good as a museum. While he did that, he also slipped a few things into his pockets. They'd work for his project.

While he was explaining that the little laser pointer looking contraption was actually a television remote from two centuries in the future, he noticed that the attendant was looking down the row behind him. He turned around and saw Rose coming toward him.

"Havin' fun?" she asked.

"It's not a museum, but it's alright. Why're you here?" he answered.

It turned out that Rose had come for him because it was time to go back to the house.

Once back at the house (neither of them were quite ready to call it home yet), they sat at the table, eating the Italian take out they'd picked up. Rose had started a discussion about what each of them had done that day.

Rose had spent most of her morning in various meetings. Some were about the use of technology, including one about the teleports. She was adamant that they not be released to most personnel yet, due to training and security concerns. The most secured areas of the building were shielded from teleportation, but they just didn't have the technology to shield the whole building. Their teleports could also fall into the wrong hands and wreak havoc.

After lunch, Rose taught a class, filling in for the guy who'd been teaching them while she was jumping across universes. This class was about negotiation tactics and was a required eight day course for all recruits. The class had also been made mandatory for all agents to attend. Since then, altercations were down a good twenty percent.

The rest of her afternoon was split between paperwork, and checking in on a few research projects on levels eighteen, twenty-two, and twenty-four.

While Rose was telling him about one of the recruits in her class losing his temper and yelling at the person he was supposed to be negotiating with, she added, "'E 'ad me ready ta go over there an' smack 'im! That wouldn't've been a good way to show the class wha' ta do!"

The Doctor regarded her for a couple of seconds before asking his question. "Do you often get swept up in other people's emotions?"

Rose stilled and looked at him curiously. "Sometimes. Why're you askin'?"

"Does it feel like you're feeling other people's emotions?" he asked pointedly.

"Doctor, I thought we established that 'm empathic already?" she questioned, looking confused.

"When did we do that?" he wondered, shocked.

"Back on the beach," she told him. "You said that it explained much. Then, on the zeppelin, I told you that I didn't need to be an empath to understand what you were feeling. Remember?"

"On the beach, I said that you might be empathic. Not that you were," he reminded her. Rose fiddled with her earring nervously. Her nervousness reminded him of the day before, when they were waiting for her friend Melissa.

"Why haven't I been able to tell that you had an ability like that before now?" he asked. "We were together for years."

"I don' know 'bout before," Rose answered. "When I first came 'ere, though, I had headaches. Really, really bad headaches. Sometimes, I had trouble seeing, they were so bad. The day I met Melissa, she ran her tests. The moment I had telepathic contact, the headache mostly went away." Her nervousness had almost disappeared once she had started her explanation.

"But...that sounds like...But that's what I felt when..." No, it couldn't be possible.

"When your telepathy kicked in?" Rose asked, knowingly.

"But you were an adult! Telepathic based abilities kick in during childhood! If you had it kick in then..." Something had to have happened for her to suddenly have that kick in.

"That's why I took you to meet Melissa yesterday. I was going to tell you." She closed her eyes, looking pained for a moment, then took a deep breath, huffing it all out in one go. "Here goes."

Suddenly, he could feel her presence at the edge of his consciousness. He leaned forward and grabbed her hand, desperate for more contact.

"Hello, Doctor," came Rose's mental voice. It didn't quite sound like her. Her mental voice had no accent to it.

"Rose?" he asked. He was scared for her. What had happened to make her properly a telepath? It had to be something horrible. Was she attacked by som-

Suddenly, Rose's presence disappeared, and she yanked her hand out of his. She got up out of her chair in anger.

"Stop that!" she hissed at him, pointing her finger at him. "Stop worryin' about me like that! 'M fine! This," she said, tapping her temple to indicate the telepathy, "is fine. I wasn' attacked by anythin' like Melissa."

"But Rose, what if it's something bad?" he asked.

"'Snot," Rose answered shortly.

The Doctor stood up to match her. "How can you-"

"Please, jus' trust me on this," Rose pleaded. "'M not in any danger. Nothin's gonna hurt me. I'm fine!"

He looked into her eyes. She was terrified. He could see it. "You're absolutely sure about that?" he asked quietly.

"Yes, Doctor. I'm okay," Rose replied earnestly. The Doctor enveloped her in his arms.

"Okay, I believe you," he whispered into her ear. He buried his face in her neck. "I'm just- I can't lose you again," he admitted.

"You won't," she promised.

He pulled back, but kept his arms around her waist. "You know what happened," he realized.

Rose nodded and extricated herself from his grasp. ""M pretty sure I've always had some slight empathic ability. As for the rest, if you think about it, really think, you know too. You were there."

He started going through his memories of their time together before Canary Wharf, sticking to things with a telepathic or mental component.

The mind scan when Balor was being created. They'd been alerted to a problem when Rose had shared a dream with the TARDIS.

There was the time she'd gotten turned into a Golem by the Valnaxi, who were all telepathically linked to one another.

The Wire had taken her face and her mind.

She'd been taken over by the aliens from the Ascendant, who reached out to people close to their victims.

She'd been possessed by Cassandra with a Psycho-Graft.

He was starting to get sick thinking about how many times she'd been in danger or changed just in the few items he went through after his regeneration.

In order to be thorough, he went the other way, looking through his memories from the moment he met her. Only one incident made the cut: A device put on her forehead to control her movements. The Doctor had been forced to "play" Rose like she was Laura Croft. He'd souped up the system so Rose could move faster and have a better chance at surviving.

With a sinking feeling, he realized that he had really dropped the ball when he changed.

He thought of one last event: his regeneration.

The same regeneration that had been triggered by taking the Vortex from her. That she'd gotten from the TARDIS. The same TARDIS that she'd shared dreams with. "Not just the hum, I missed the feelin' of her in my 'ead...it was intermittent, like I'd feel emotions sometimes, like a pleased feeling that wasn't my own and it came with a slight change in the hum."

Two words. The same two words she'd told Donna in that little splintered Pocket Parallel. The same two words that were written everywhere.

The same two words that Rose had tattooed on her side.

Bad Wolf.

"Get it figured out, did you?" Rose asked sadly.

Chapter Text

 

Rose could practically see the gears turning in the Doctor's head as he thought. It was only a short time before she could see the thought process halt and the denial set in. He even shook his head a little.

"Get it figured out, did you?" Rose asked sadly.

"But-," he started. "You were- But-"

She reached out to him and cupped his face in her hands. "Relax, Doctor, it's okay." He shut his eyes tightly for a second, making little creases in the corners, and took a couple of deep breaths. When he opened his eyes, he stared into hers for a second before he gave her a little smile.

"So, you've been trained? Weelll, you had to have been trained, to do what you did. Melissa, I take it?"

"Yeah," Rose replied, fighting a smile at the return of his babble. She knew what he was doing.

"That's good. Great even. You've already got some protection. Can I-? Can I just...feel you again?" he asked, ears turning red.

Rose remembered their conversation on the beach and realized what he must be going through to ask for that. The lack of telepathic contact of any kind after centuries with an almost constant presence in his mind must be horrible. She nodded and let down her barriers. Not all of them, just enough so he could feel. There was much she wasn't ready to share yet.

The Doctor grabbed her hand almost instantly, and his eyes closed. He smiled tentatively. He really was a gorgeous man, especially when he smiled. And those lips were-

"Rose Tyler, you have naughty thoughts," the Doctor said in an amused voice, popping his eyes open.

"So?" Rose challenged. "Am I not allowed to think you're good looking?" The tips of his ears were a little bit redder. He was properly blushing.

He recovered quickly, leaned in, and said, "Oh, but you were thinking so much more than that, weren't you?"

"So are you," she called him out, but now she was the one blushing. The Doctor grinned and hugged her tightly, like she was going to disappear any moment.

"Are we okay?" Rose asked unsurely.

"Yeah," he breathed out, giving a little nod to go with his answer.

XxXxXxXx

Rose was sure that things were not quite alright. It'd been a week since the Doctor had learned about her telepathy, and he was...she didn't know what to call it.

He'd been eager to get into the Tower each day. The first day he'd even tried rushing her along like he used to do when they had the TARDIS, but she glared at him and said they would get in when they got in, and he hadn't tried that again since. They hadn't had lunch together since that first day.

The night he'd learned about her telepathy, she'd relented and gave him the room with the lead lining as an office. They were supposed to go that weekend and get him a proper desk and a worktable, but the next day, he'd left for a while with Jake and came back to the house with a table that had legs that could fold up and a computer better than hers. When asked about where he got it, the Doctor only said that he'd had something of value and sold a bit of it to get what he knew he wanted for the moment.

Since then, he'd go into his office almost as soon as he arrived, and Rose could hear him banging about with things she was sure he'd nicked from the Tower and singing to himself. He really couldn't carry a tune.

She'd say he was being distant with her, but when they laid in bed at night, he held her as close as he could.

She'd say he was focused on some project, but he'd occasionally slip up from the basement levels where he usually was and walk in on some random meeting like he owned the place. No one ever paid him any mind, thinking he belonged there. A couple of the meetings he sat in on were also ones that she was attending. During those, he'd sit as close to her as he could. And he'd readily come out of what Rose was starting to call his cave.

She'd say he was avoiding her, but then there was the bed thing again. He'd also talk to her readily enough if they ran across each other in their day. He'd even sat in on one of her classes, observing, silently for once.

She'd have been worrying about him changing his mind, but during the seventh day and one of the meetings he had sat in on early that morning, he was right next to her. She was dressed in a skirt suit for the day's meetings, which included two with diplomats, and her skirt rode up over her knees. During that meeting, he rubbed the inside of her thigh until she begged him in her mind to stop so she could concentrate on the meeting. He'd then asked her out and had been smug anytime she saw him for the rest of the day.

She didn't know what was going on, and she didn't know how to ask. She'd find out, though.

XxXxXxXx

The Doctor woke up the next day with a plan in his mind. He was eager to get on with it, and tried to rush Rose so they could get to the Tower so he could get started on it. And that was going to be the last time he ever tried to rush her to go to the place that he worked. The glare he received could kill on some planets, he was sure of it.

"Let me get this straight. You want to go into work early?" she had asked.

"Yep," he replied, a bit less exuberant than before.

"That's inhuman," she grumbled.

"I'm not-" he started, then stopped. Rose raised an eyebrow at him, knowing what he was going to say. "Well, I'm only a little human. I can be inhuman if I want," he defended himself.

Once they'd gotten to Torchwood, Rose went straight to a meeting she needed to attend and the Doctor made a beeline up to the top floor of the Tower. He needed to talk to Pete.

"Good morning, Doctor. The boss is in a meeting right now, but if you have a seat, he'll only be a couple more minutes," Pete's secretary greeted him when he stepped into the outer office. What was her name again? Calla? No. Chima?

"Chelsea!" he called out when he remembered her name. "Good morning to you too," he added as exuberantly, trying to cover up his exclamation.

"You're a morning person, aren't you, Doctor?" she asked, reaching for a mug of coffee.

"Yep!" he replied, chipper.

A minute later, the door to Pete's office opened, and a portly, older man walked through it. He handed a piece of paper to Chelsea, who took it and got to work. When the man turned to go toward the outer door, he saw the Doctor at the same time the Doctor recognized him.

"Doctor," he said, looking like he was going to pop a blood vessel.

"Well, Thomas, funny meeting you here," the Doctor replied amenably.

"What are you doing here?" he asked, not really disguising his hostility. "Aren't you supposed to be telling us what all that alien junk is?"

"Evidence suggests I'm here for the same reason that you are, old chap. To see the great and powerful Peter Tyler," the Doctor said, knowing he was getting under the man's skin.

Thomas Trout walked out of the office. The second the door closed, Chelsea began giggling.

"I don't think he likes me much," the Doctor commented idly.

"Oh, he doesn't like anyone, I think," she replied. "Pete's ready for you." He went through the door and came face to face with Rose's stepfather-slash-parallel father-slash-boss.

"Morning, Doctor. How're you settlin' in?" Pete asked.

"Better than I expected," he said. It was true. He had thought he'd be a mess.

"What brings you here this early in the morning?" he asked. "Did ya read those packets?" He didn't even bother keeping the hopeful note out of his voice.

"Just the one," the Doctor admitted. "Was thinking I'd sit in on some of the meetings and your classes Rose told me about to get more of a feel for things." Normally, he wouldn't bother asking about something like that, but with Pete being an important part of both his personal and-his mind balked at the idea-professional life, he wanted to stay on the man's good side-for now.

"Go ahead, Doctor," Pete agreed. "Is there anything else I can do for you?"

The Doctor nervously pulled out a tiny bag from his jacket pocket. He dumped the contents into his hand and bounced them in the palm of his hand, feeling their weight.

"I figure a man of your stature knows about these things. I just need you to point me to the right place to turn these into money." The Doctor leaned forward to lay the colorful rocks on the desk so Pete could inspect them. "Brought a cross section of earth based precious and semi precious minerals with me."

Pete Tyler's eyes went a bit wide and he picked up each stone, looking at it. There was a ruby, a diamond, an emerald, a couple of different shades of sapphire, a small lump of gold, turquoise, and a few other stones.

"What's this?" he asked. Holding up a blue stone with a hint of purple to it.

"Tanzanite," the Doctor answered. "Its gemologically correct name is 'blue zoisite'. It's only found on Earth in the East African state of Tanzania. If you don't have that country here, I can point it out to you on a map. Your landmasses are the same as in the other universe. This universe diverged from that one rather recently."

"Why're you needing to get money?" he asked.

"Because you've all been wonderful, but I need to be able to get some things without having to ask for them. Rose has been known to frown on my other ways of obtaining money. Speaking of Rose, I also wanna take her out somewhere, and it's better-well, feels right, really, to do it with my own money. I'd also like to do all this before I get paid from here," he answered. Then a thought hit him. "I am getting paid, right?" he asked.

Pete laughed. "Yeah, you're getting paid."

"Oh, good. Probably should have thought of that before I started working, eh?" He scratched the back of his neck.

"Yeah, probably," Pete agreed, still smiling. "I'll get these taken care of for you and have the money in your hands by the end of the day," he told the Doctor.

"Thank you, Peter Tyler!" He jumped up out of the chair he'd been sitting in and went to go to the door. He wasn't concerned about the stones. He trusted Pete to take care of it. He might not trust the organization he led, but he did trust the man running it.

On his way down, he was going to stop by Rose's office and make sure she was going to be able to go to lunch with him, but he got halfway there before he remembered that she was in a meeting. He did see Jake, though. When he told him what he was planning to do, Jake agreed to help him get what he needed.

The Doctor hated having to rely on others for transportation.

That night, he left Torchwood Tower with Jake. The first stop they made was to get a sturdy table that had a solid top and legs that could fold up. The folding was mostly so he could maneuver it easier, and so he could have room for several tables and be able to take them down. The rooms of the house were fairly small. The next stop was to get a computer that could handle him. The Doctor settled on one designed for serious game play. It was the most powerful available, and easy to customize and make more powerful if he needed it. The sales person didn't even bat an eye when the Doctor handed him cash. Instead, he tried to engage the Doctor in hacker conversation. Amateur.

When he got back to the house, Rose asked him where he got the stuff. He told her the truth.

The next few days, he sat in on some meetings and some of the classes on floors twenty-seven, twenty-nine, and thirty. He found his way to a class Rose was giving once, and he got to watch some of what she did. She was giving a lecture on first contact protocols and didn't even notice him at first. When she did, she faltered for a moment, and he waved at her, grinning. Rose then went back to teaching her class and trying to ignore him.

He sat in on some meetings. No one ever questioned him about what he was doing there, and he'd put his input into every subject. He came across meetings with Rose included twice, and sat as close as he could to her both times. One time, he had to corroborate one of her statements with proof in quantum physics. He did it with a marker on the glass wall.

He didn't get to have lunch with her for almost a week. One time, he'd started an experiment and couldn't leave it, another, a meeting he'd sat in on was longer than he thought it should be and he wound up eating alone. One time, he was out translating for an alien who arrived there on Earth by accident. They kept missing each other.

When they arrived back at the house, the Doctor would take whatever he'd nicked from the Tower's basement levels into the old x ray room and work on his little project. He'd come out if Rose needed him, or if there was food. He knew he wasn't being entirely fair to Rose, but this was important. It wasn't like he could do his work while Rose was asleep anymore.

As he passed a week in this new universe, he realized that he really did need to sleep much like a human. In the first week, he hadn't thought about it much. He usually slept quite a bit more when he was newly regenerated, but when the need for sleep continued, he realized it was something he was going to have to deal with.

At night, the Doctor would curl up with Rose, who he'd seen little of through the day if he hadn't happened to get in on one of her meetings or a class. He basked in the little bit of telepathic presence she had started to let through. It was something he was grateful for, a connection with another sentient being.

But Rose only lessened her barriers just enough for him to be able to feel her presence. She sometimes had nightmares, and he never knew unless they woke him up.

Oddly enough, he apparently now needed more sleep than Rose. Rose Tyler, the woman who could hibernate. Or maybe, she just couldn't sleep. He didn't know which. All he knew was that if she went to bed with him, he woke up alone, and if he went to bed alone, he woke up with her. Sometimes, he'd get up in the middle of the night, and she'd be up, working on something. He caught her soldering a circuit board at the kitchen table one night.

"Hey, can't sleep?" he asked her.

Rose put the soldering iron into its little holder and looked at the bit she had just finished. "I'll go to bed soon," she replied, though the Doctor could see tiredness in her eyes. He took her rubber gloved hand and made her put the piece down on the mat by pushing her hand down gently.

"Come to bed, Rose. You're tired, I can see it." He coaxed her to bed and held her. They wrapped their arms around one another, pressing together. It wasn't long before Rose was asleep.

On the seventh day after learning that Rose was a telepath, twelve days after arriving in the universe, the Doctor decided to step things up. He sat on the edge of a desk, speaking with Liam, an agent he'd worked with when he'd gone out on the translation mission. He had a cup of coffee in his hands, because, apparently, he was into both coffee and tea this time around.

"Uh, oh, here comes the Ice Queen," Liam said in warning, nodding over his shoulder. The Doctor turned to look, and the only female he noticed moving around was Rose. Rose was dressed in a skirt suit, with the skirt's hem just above her knees, showing off the legs shaped by running.

"Who's the Ice Queen?" the Doctor asked. "I only see Rose, unless you mean a man. In that case, queen is an abnormal way to-"

"You and that overly big brain of yours," Liam complained, interrupting him. "I mean Rose Tyler."

The Doctor nearly choked on the coffee he'd been sipping at the moment. "Rose? Why would you call her an ice queen?"

"Because she is. She's bossy-"

"So?" he asked.

"She turns down everyone when asked out. Literally everyone. And she doesn't just turn down most offers, she cuts them off at the knees." Liam said.

"So, quit asking her out. Has it ever crossed your mind that she's already taken?" the Doctor questioned, trying to keep the jealousy he'd only recently started to admit he had down. It was difficult. This man he liked had asked Rose out, and it made him want to cut the man in a very different- woah, there, reign it in, he thought to himself. She turned him down.

"Yeah. There's been rumors that she's got a bloke. The rumors state that he's not human." Liam told him.

"So what if she does have a bloke who's an alien?" he asked, eyebrow raised. If Liam only knew who he was talking to at the moment. By definition, Rose was an alien in this world.

"John, I know that you're new around here, so I'm gonna tell you. Aliens are treated with a bit of suspicion," Liam said.

"You, know, Liam. I like you in every other way except for the things we've talked about in the last couple minutes," the Doctor told him. "Be careful of misogyny and xenophobia. Neither is good for anyone."

He drank the last bit from his coffee, dropped the empty cup into the trash next to Liam, and went off toward Rose, who'd stopped to talk to someone. When she noticed him, she gave him a smile that made his insides all wobbly.

He sat next to her in her next meeting. Her skirt had ridden up under the table, and his conversation earlier with Liam had him a bit possessive. More so than usual, anyway.

He put his hand on her exposed thigh. Rose stiffened for a second, but then glanced at him out of the corner of her eye and relaxed, leaning back in her chair. He took this as permission to continue. He moved his fingertips to the inside of her thigh, and felt her move her legs a bit, making the gap between her thighs a little bit wider.

He heard her breath speed up lightly. He knew she was affected when she dropped her shielding a bit more than usual and he could feel her lust.

Suddenly, she sat up straighter. "Doctor, stop, please," he heard in his mind and he pulled his hand back. "Thank you, I need to concentrate on this."

"Rose, you wanna go out tonight?" he asked suddenly.

"What? You mean, like a-" she started.

"Date, yes," he replied.

She glanced at him out of the corner of her eye. "Yeah," she replied, then closed herself off most of the way, leaving just enough of herself open that he could feel her emotions leaking through.

He was glad of the long meeting and the high table. He'd gotten quite excited.

Chapter Text

 

The Doctor was in a great mood for two hours, twenty-three minutes, and thirty-five seconds after the meeting ended. He was telling Jake that he finally, properly asked her out for once, instead of just going somewhere, enjoying it, and later calling it a date.

"Where are you takin' her?" Jake asked, which ended his great mood.

"I don't know, Jake. I don't even know what's considered good around here. Where do you take people on dates?" he asked.

"Depends on what I know they like," Jake answered. "Or food, if I don't know them well enough. You know Rose very well, though. So ask yourself, 'What's she like to do?'"

"Get in trouble. Wander off. Dance. Curl up and watch a good movie. Read. Things that cause an adrenaline rush," the Doctor listed.

"Dancing and watching a good movie?" Jake wondered incredulously. "Well, that doesn't sound like the Rose I know. Trouble and running off into danger sure do though."

"I don't think Rose was in a mood for the quieter things," the Doctor admitted softly.

"Why not try to recreate your first date?" Jake asked, getting them back to the discussion at hand.

"No, that won't be good," the Doctor said, remembering what they'd always referred to as their first date. "There's no way in this reality or any other that I'm going to blow up the Earth. Or take her back to the end of this planet. Suppose I could do the chips, but that's nothing special. We got chips all the time. That woman seriously has a thing with fried potatoes."

Jake looked at him with his wide eyes for a second. "On your first date, you took her to see her home planet get destroyed?" he asked incredulously. "Why the hell would you do that?"

"It was her first trip. Seemed like the thing to do at the time. You know, show her a whole lot of aliens at once," the Doctor replied, shrugging.

"Helluva idea of romantic, Doctor," Jake said, shaking his head.

"I wasn't trying to be romantic, I was trying to-" the Doctor started, but cut himself off. He saw Jake staring at him, wordlessly trying to get him to go on. "It doesn't matter," he finished, somewhat lamely.

Jake looked at him a moment more, but then decided to drop it. "Oh, I've got it!" he exclaimed.

XxXxXxXx

Rose shut the folder she had just finished with a grin. That was the last of her work for the day. The last she was going to do anyway. She'd had a hard time concentrating on any one task since the moment the Doctor had put his hand on her thigh. He'd asked her out. He'd properly asked her out. Inside, she felt like a schoolgirl who's crush had asked her to the prom. She wondered where he had planned to take her. What would she need to wear?

She handed the folder to her new secretary and told her to have a great weekend. The fact that she had a secretary in the first place baffled her. She'd only had Emily for a few hours and was unsure about the whole thing. Emily wasn't only her secretary, since Rose's primary job was in the field. She had to share the woman with the office next door, which was fine with her, because Lawrence was a boring pencil pusher, so he'd be able to use the woman much more than she could.

She hadn't gotten all the way to the lift yet when the door opened with a ding. Inside stood the man who'd been pervading her thoughts all day. They both grinned at each other and Rose stepped inside the small space with him. He threaded his fingers with hers before the door closed.

"So, where we goin'?" Rose asked.

"It's a surprise," he answered in a sing song voice.

"Okay, then. What sorta clothes do I need?" she wondered.

He looked over at her, then slowly ran his eyes down her body, making no effort to hide what he was doing. "Something at the length that you're wearing now will do just nicely, though you may want to wear something a little less businessy." He considered her feet for a moment. "And flats. Something you could run in," he added.

"Will we be doin' any runnin', Doctor?" Rose asked, flashing her grin at him.

"Welll, you never know what you'll be doing. Don't want to break an ankle," he replied nonchalantly. "Plus, high heels do damage to your feet over time. Even the lower ones," he added. Rose looked down at her own feet. The heels she wore were low, only about an inch high.

The lift doors opened right then, and they stepped out into the car park. During the drive to the house, Rose kept noticing the Doctor out of the corner of her eye. She could feel his nervousness. It was just like her own.

At the house, the Doctor made a beeline for his office, just like he had on any other day. This time, he came out only a couple of minutes later.

"What are you doing in there?" Rose asked, not for the first time.

"I told you, it's a surprise," he repeated, as he had every time Rose had asked the question. "The best kind of prize is a surprise," he said, then smiled at his own little joke. The way he said it, she was sure he was quoting something, but she didn't know what. "Get ready," he told her, shooing her off toward the bathroom.

She didn't take long fixing her makeup up. She had it down to a science now. Exactly what she needed to enhance her features, plus a little additional eye makeup, because she still liked it darker. She didn't wear it as heavy as she used to. It made her look older than she did otherwise.

And it made her look younger than she really was. She didn't know exactly how old she was, but she had a clue within a year.

She left the bathroom and went to the bedroom, not seeing the Doctor on her way. In the bedroom, she chose a little black dress. Something that would be great almost anywhere. The dress had thin straps over the shoulders and was straight and simple on the top. The skirt part was pleated. It was one of those her mother had made her get when they were new in the universe. Something to show off her status, but not too ostentatious. She slipped it on, grabbed a small, black purse, and walked out to the living room to transfer the items from the pocket of her blazer to the purse.

She felt the Doctor's presence and turned around to see him leaning on the half wall of the little library with a soft smile on his face. He was wearing his blue suit and red chucks, but, instead of just the t shirt like he usually wore underneath the blue suit, he was fully kitted out with a tie and Oxford. She liked that a lot better than the t-shirt.

"You look...beautiful," he told her, staring her straight in the eyes. He stepped forward and kissed her softly. She melted into the kiss and decided that she would have been quite happy to stay in that night, but the Doctor had other plans and pulled away. He took her little bag and stuck it in his bigger on the inside pocket.

"Allons-y," he said and pulled her to the door, taking the keys off of the hook by the door as he did so. At the car, the Doctor went over to the passenger's side and opened the door for Rose. It took a second for her to get what he was doing. He was being chivalrous.

"Are you gonna drive?" Rose asked him.

"Well, I do know where we're going," he replied.

"Do ya even know how ta drive a car?" she queried with an eyebrow raised.

"Yes, I've even had a couple of cars before," the Doctor replied. "One of them was a bright yellow roadster. I called it Bessie," he told her, smiling fondly.

"Don't crash my car," she told him, poking him in the chest before she got in the passenger side.

It wasn't a far drive to the first place they stopped. It was just a little diner, much like the ones they frequented in the other universe. It was always the little diners that had the best food, the Doctor asserted, and she agreed. The nicer places had good food, too, but for pure flavor, you wanted to go somewhere smaller.

XxXxXxXx

The pair sat in a corner as far away from a window as they could get, with their backs turned to the entrance. When they took their seats, Rose explained that she didn't want people recognizing them and interrupting their meal.

"You'd never guess what happened today," Rose said to the Doctor right after their order was taken.

"What happened?" he asked.

"I have a secretary now," Rose told him, making a face. The Doctor just laughed. "'M serious!"

"Sorry," the Doctor said insincerely, then shook his head. "Actually, no, I'm not. You, with a secretary?" That was funny.

"I know! All I am is jus' some shop girl who, dependin' on your point of view, got really lucky or unlucky. Now here I am, with a secretary? Well, at least she's not just mine, I have to share 'er with the pencil pusher next door."

"Don't say that," the Doctor spoke up. Her words had metaphorically cut him. Did she see herself as lucky, or unlucky?

"Don't say what?" Rose wondered.

"That. You've never just been some shop girl. You've never just been anything," he told her, taking the hand nearer to him. "You worked in a shop, yes, but that was just a step in your life." She leaned into him and he let go of her hand to wrap his arm around her. "A step that led you to me," he continued. "And that step is something I will forever be grateful for."

Rose lifted her head up and looked him in the eyes, staring as if she were searching for something. Suddenly, he could feel more than just her presence. He felt her nervousness "Really?" she asked quietly. He felt nervousness, love, and outright fear.

"Of course," he replied. "You took a tired old soldier and made him want to be a better man. You're still doing it, and I'm glad to have your hand to hold again."

Wow, he was being sentimental. Great, he'd turned into a sap.

"What about-?" Rose started, then stopped herself, shaking her head. "Never mind."

"What about what?" he asked. He caught flashes of memory from her, spanning almost the whole time they'd known each other.

"You made me better..."

"He needs you, that's very me..."

"...You know what you need most? A hand to hold."

"I'm all alone, cause there's no one else." "There's me."

"How long are you going to stay with me?" "Forever."

Along with the flashes, there came a guilty feeling.

Telepathy was a double edge sword sometimes. While Rose was trying to get more from him, she'd inadvertently opened herself up. She might as well have sent him her memory flash. Rose shook her head, sat back up straight and took a sip of her water. She wasn't going to answer him. She didn't know that she already had.

"You know, it occurs to me that I really would not want to be in your position," the Doctor started, fiddling with the napkin in front of him. Rose looked over at him in confusion. "Really. You worked so hard to get back and, just when you reach your goal, it all goes pear shaped, which is another reason to hate pears, by the way. Suddenly, there's two of me, and I'm not crossing my timeline for once. And then there's what happened on the beach."

Rose was looking very nervous now, and had closed herself off completely. He couldn't feel her presence anymore, telepathically, at least. She'd shut herself down so much, that he couldn't even feel her presence as a sentient being. She was a telepathic void, which she shouldn't have been able to do. The loss of her mental presence entirely and so quickly put him on edge.

"This isn't a great conversation for a date, but it needs to get out there," he continued. "I felt the guilt coming off of you in waves, and that won't do at all." Beside him, Rose stiffened.

"Were you in my head?" Rose questioned, eyebrows furrowed. It made a crease mark on her forehead.

"No, I was not in your head," he replied. "But you were sort of in mine, and I got a bit from you," he told her. "Very rude, by the way, getting in someone's head without their permission," he chided her.

"'M sorry," Rose replied with her hand over her mouth. She looked mortified. He knew that she hated when people got in her head. "I wasn't- I was jus' feelin'."

"It's a bit harder to control telepathic shielding when emotional, just like anything else. It's alright. You'll get better over time," he assured her. "I'm glad it happened, though. I didn't realize you felt so guilty over what happened on the beach."

"I was impulsive," Rose suddenly spoke up.

Ow. That hurt. Was she regretting her choice? He'd thought she'd been okay with it, but she'd become very good at hiding things.

"You should've never had to make that choice," the Doctor informed her.

"Choice?" Rose asked indignantly. "That was no choice. You wanna get things out? Fine then. That whole thing on the beach was a manipulation, pure and simple," she hissed, trying not to draw attention to them from the people on the other side of the restaurant. "Starting with my mother."

"If I recall right, and I usually do, your mother was silent through the whole thing," he reminded her.

"Yeah. Her presence was a manipulation all on it's own," Rose asserted.

"How's that?" he wondered.

"As soon as I knew for sure that I was in the right place at the righ' time, I sent word back, lettin' everyone on this side of the wall know. That's when Mum an' Mickey came through. Mum was hopin' she could talk ya into takin' me back 'ere and droppin' me off. Didn't matter that I told her time and again that it was incredibly dangerous."

"She doesn't want to lose you," he reasoned. "She's your mother." Rose nodded sadly.

"I didn't wanna leave 'er, but, well. It was better than the alternative. Besides, she was being completely hypocritical. She left her own mother, my gran, to come a different universe and be with a stranger who looked and acted like her husband, but wasn't. I just wanted to go back where I belonged and...you know."

The Doctor could see the parallels between her parents and their situation. "Like us," he said.

"Nothing like us," Rose denied. She waved her finger between the two of them. "We have history an' you're not a parallel version. Anyway, that's how Mum was manipulatin' the situation. Just by being there as a reminder. An' she wasn' the only one doin' it."

Their food came just then and Rose, who was sitting on the outside, passed the Doctor's plate to him.

"Rose, I didn't-" he started when the waitress left.

"No, no you weren't. You were the only one standin' on that beach who wasn't," Rose assured him sadly. "The only one who gave me a choice. Donna was standin' there, head fulla you and was all, 'Oh, he's bettah for you,'" she mocked, shocking the Doctor. He'd thought Rose liked Donna.

"He," Rose continued. "He stood there and told me you were a cost an' you were dangerous an' I had to take care of ya. An' even if what he was sayin' was true, why the hell is it my responsibility?"

She was really getting on a roll now. All these thing's she'd kept inside since that day. He knew she needed to let it out. She'd let some of her frustrations out that day at the hotel they'd stayed at in Bergen, but only the part where they'd made choices without consulting her, not the fact that she'd felt manipulated.

"It's not," he assured her. "It's really not. That's not your job, and he was out of line to say so."

Rose sighed. "I can't help but think I could have stopped this from happening in the first place. You wouldn't be stuck here, I wouldn't be stuck here. It could all be different if I had just told-"

"Oh, Rose, there was nothing you could have done shy of walking right back in the TARDIS and refusing to come out until he had to leave," he told her. "His mind was made up, and you know how stubborn I can be." Rose nodded sadly at that. "Then I would have wound up stuck in this universe alone. Wellll, not alone, with Jackie Tyler," he shook himself and Rose cracked a smile. He considered that a win for the conversation.

"You coulda stayed too," Rose pointed out.

"Dunno about that," he said shaking his head and popping a chip into his mouth. "We'd have fought like cats and dogs," he informed her around the bit of fried potato. "I know, I've got a tendency to argue with myself. Master of self depreciation, me. I've even been known to insult myself right to my own face!" He laughed. "Got several of me together a couple of times, and we spent half the time arguing amongst one another. One time, two of me were together, and a younger version of me had to come along and break us up! And no matter how many times you run into yourself, the pronouns are awkward."

Rose rolled her eyes and he could tell she was amused. "Only you," she said, fondly. "Different incarnations?" Rose wondered.

"Yep," he replied, popping the 'p'. He thought for a moment, wondering if he should continue the conversation and get answers, or just let things play out. He decided to throw caution to the wind. "If you were properly given a choice, with all options explained fully, what would you have chosen?" he asked, needing to know.

Rose stilled with a fork nearly to her mouth and shut her eyes tightly. "I dunno. Do I know what I know now? Or what I knew then?" she questioned.

He regarded her for a moment before answering, "Both ways."

"Then, I wouldn'ta been able to make the choice. I woulda insisted on givin' both of you the chance. I'd already been talking to ya, jokin' with you. I knew you were the same man. Now?" She grabbed his hand, leaned over, and kissed him softly as an answer.

Rose would willingly choose him.

He deepened the kiss, singular heart fluttering wildly. When Rose parted her lips, he darted his tongue in, to swipe it against hers.

Rose Tyler would have gone with him.

"Get a room," a woman on the other side of the room called out, then laughed, making the pair of ex-and hopefully future- time travelers break apart. Rose looked wonderfully pink with embarrassment.

The Doctor, however, wasn't embarrassed. He was elated, because Rose Marion Tyler said she'd choose him, this him, not the other him.

They ate the rest of their meal quickly and quietly, trying to finish, so they could get out of there. One of the people with the woman who had called to them had recognized Rose, and they were shooting glances at the table. The Doctor was sure that one of them had even taken a picture with his phone. The whole celebrity thing made him nervous, and not just because he had a lot to hide.

When they reentered the car, Rose asked, "Okay, so where to now? And don't say it's a surprise."

"How do you feel about going out dancing?" he asked. Rose's eyes lit up.

"Are you going to show me your moves?" she asked, giving him her teasing, tongue in tooth grin.

"Wellll, first, we're going to find out if I have them, then I will show them off," he told her.

"So, what kind of dancing will we be doing, Doctor?" Rose asked flirtatiously.

"It's a surprise," he told her, causing Rose to roll her eyes.

XxXxXxXx

Rose stepped out of the car and looked up at the building. "Dance lessons, Doctor?" she asked, with an eyebrow raised.

"Yep," he replied, looking smug. He looked around to make sure no one else could hear them. "If I can dance this time around, great, if not, well, I'll learn. My last self could dance. I'm hoping, since this body is very similar, that it carried over."

"So the ability to dance isn't one of the things that stays with you?" Rose asked.

"Well, the basic mechanics do, that's cerebral. The physical is part muscle memory and part if that body is built for it. But I won't ever have to worry about that again." He clapped his hands, said, "I wonder what they're teaching tonight," and started off toward the building.

"You don't know?" Rose asked.

"Well, I called and asked when the class tonight was," the Doctor explained. "Didn't wanna know what class it was. More fun that way." Rose giggled at him. There was her Doctor.

"What if they're doing, oh, I dunno, square dancing?" Rose asked, trying to keep a straight face.

The Doctor snorted. "It's not the hills of ol' Kentucky, Rose. But if they do, it'll still be fun."

It turned out that they were doing Salsa.

"You might wanna move those new feet, which you'll find are still attached to the end of your legs, In case you've forgotten," Rose teased when the instructor told everyone where to stand, causing the Doctor to laugh.

They were twisting and turning, doing what the instructor commanded. They giggled at their mistakes, especially since Salsa had a lot of spins where the pair had to keep their hands held. The Doctor had twisted her arm up behind her twice, but Rose had to admit she wasn't any better. She'd stomped on his foot once.

The instructor came up to them and gave the pair a few extra pointers, demonstrating with both Rose and the Doctor.

"You're passionate about one another. Madly in love. You're a tempest," the instructor said when there were ten minutes left in the class. "You'd do anything for each other, track the other one across the world if you needed to. This is serious, this is passion, this is-"

Rose never heard the end of it, because the Doctor burst out laughing beside her. She followed a second later.

They weren't invited back.

They were still laughing when they got back to the car. The Doctor took them to, of all places, a park. It was a nicer park. Most of the equipment was new.

"A park, Doctor?" Rose asked.

"Why not?" he countered. "It's fun. And now that it's dark, it's cool and there's no one else here. We've got the place to ourselves." He sat down on a swing and slowly swung back and forth. Rose went over to the one next to him and sat on it as well. "There's something so wonderful about a simple swing. Gravity and centrifugal force working together and against each other." With that statement, he started swinging higher.

Rose started swinging too. The swings were always one of her favorite things in a park. The two of them swung for a few minutes, laughing and urging each other to go higher. When they were going high enough that the chain started going a little slack once gravity took hold again, they slowed down and stopped.

Or Rose stopped anyway. The Doctor allowed himself to fly out of the seat on the forward swing, catapulting himself into the air. He hadn't been going high at the time, and he landed on his feet, but those facts didn't stop Rose from momentarily worrying about him until he turned around and gave her a showman's bow.

She rolled her eyes at his antics. "You know, I never thought I'd be messing about on a playground as an adult," she commented, still sitting on the swing.

The Doctor came over and grabbed the chains of her swing. He pushed her back and up so that her face was closer to level with his. She'd had to put her feet on the ground because she was slipping a bit.

"Yeah, but what's the fun in being an adult if you can't act a little childish sometimes?" the Doctor questioned. He then stepped back and held out his hand for her to take.

Rose automatically took the hand offered and was taken over to a large merry-go-round. Rose stepped on it and the Doctor pushed her around. Centrifugal force pushed her outwards a bit, but not much, because the Doctor wasn't pushing very hard.

"Lay down," he told her, and she complied. The Doctor gave one last push and climbed up, laying down next to her. The sky turned around and around and Rose grinned at it.

"This is brilliant," she told the Doctor. "A great date."

"I had hoped you'd like it," he replied. "It was a good first date, or first one for this body anyway. Or a proper third date. Our third first date." He shifted so that he was on his side and focused on her. "I love you, Rose," he whispered and leaned down. Rose lifted her head to meet him halfway in their kiss. The kiss was sweet and soft and didn't last long, but that was okay, because she could feel every bit of love he was pouring into it.

The merry go round had slowed and stopped when their kiss broke. The Doctor looked down at her with wonder in his eyes and cupped her cheek.

"I love you too, my Doctor," Rose whispered. His hand moved to the back of her head and brought his lips to hers again, harder than before. Their kiss was passionate. All teeth and tongue and lips. Rose put one of her hands in his hair, and the Doctor's hand moved down the side of Rose's body until he got to the hem of her dress, the skirt of which was raised up her thigh a little.

Rose moaned, encouraging him to go on, and was rewarded when his hand started moving back up her thigh, only under the skirt. Her own hands had started roaming, and she could feel his excitement, and not just through the telepathy.

The Doctor stopped moving just before he got to the edge of her knickers. Instead, he rubbed his thumb back and forth along the inside of her thigh. He broke the kiss and gazed into her eyes, silently asking her if it was okay. She nodded, and he started kissing down her neck.

The fingers that had been driving her crazy slid over the fabric of her knickers and pushed a little, causing her hips to buck a little in an attempt to get more friction. The Doctor softly laughed against her neck. "Your pants are damp. Now why is that?" he asked with a grin that Rose knew meant he knew exactly why. "Want more?" he asked huskily.

"Yes," she breathed out, and the Doctor fulfilled her wish by sliding a single appendage underneath the fabric and lightly brushing her. Rose moaned and moved her hand to palm the erection she could feel through his trousers. The Doctor moaned and ground into her hand, but stopped her after a couple of rubs.

"I am far too keyed up for that right now, Little Flirt," he told her.

"Then how about we get back to somewhere more proper and private?" Rose asked boldly.

"Right!" the Doctor exclaimed, sitting up. "One properly private space coming up." He stood up and reached down to help her up, when Rose noticed a shadow behind him.

"Doctor?" she shouted, looking behind him. Before he could turn, he was knocked out. Rose noticed a dart sticking out of the side of his neck as he dropped. She went to get up, but saw three darts sticking out of her before she could fully stand. She struggled to get to one of them and do something, anything, but her vision blacked out before she could.

Chapter Text

Starting Over 22: Missing

"I love you too, my Doctor," she told him. The Doctor was pretty sure he'd not heard her ever say that to him before, at least not since a beach in the middle of nowhere. That sealed it, if he had any say in it, he was going to make love to her, that night. He kissed her again, harder that time, and she responded beautifully.

He moved his hand down her side and to her thigh. She didn't seem to mind, so, in a bold moment, he started moving his hand under her skirt. He pulled back for a moment to make sure she was ready for what he had planned and found her more than willing. He rubbed his fingers over her knickers and found the fabric to be damp.

There wasn't any going back and getting in bed; he was going to take her right then. He slipped his finger underneath the fabric and touched her intimately. Rose gasped and palmed his erection. Oh, that felt amazing...

The Doctor woke from his dream slowly and reluctantly. He missed Rose. Gods, he could even smell her. That had such a vivid dream, but he knew that was all it was. His stupid dreams about being human, about being good enough for her and giving her what she deserved. He didn't even work like that. It took quite a bit to get an engorged priapic state out of him, thanks to the genetic engineering his people had done.

He wondered if he'd made the TARDIS angry again, because his bed was very hard. He opened his eyes and saw the night sky and the tops of trees. Okay, so not his bed, then.

Something was wrong. He shouldn't still feel this groggy and he ached, mostly in his shoulder and the side of his head. His hearts! One of them wasn't working! No wonder his healing wasn't working right! In a panic, he slammed his hand against the spot where it was to try to get it started again.

He felt the dart sticking out of his neck, pulled it from his skin, glanced at it, and looked around, finally free of the mind-numbing effects of the drug. He was in the park. It wasn't a dream. He was part human, he only had one heart, and he was right next to the merry-go-round!

Right where he'd been when Rose shouted his name in warning. And Rose was nowhere to be seen.

"Rose!" he yelled before he realized that he'd been knocked out for at least half an hour. The Doctor staggered to his feet and looked around for clues. Cursing his newfound inability to see perfectly in low light, he sat down with his head in his hands at the edge of the merry-go-round before he fell down.

After a moment of thought, he took out his sonic and switched the setting on it to scan for residual artron energy. It was the 21st century, so at the most, there could only be a handful of people who'd been through the Vortex.

After a full sweep, he learned that he was wrong. There were sixteen separate artron signatures in the short range that the sonic screwdriver could scan. He then remembered Rose telling him that they'd put together the packet of paperwork for creating identities for aliens seeking asylum and people displaced out of time.

He needed help. And he needed it now.

Cursing his lack of a phone to contact anyone quickly, he started rushing back to the car, but before he took a couple of steps, he remembered sticking Rose's little bag into his pocket. With a silent apology to Rose for invading her little personal space, he dumped out the contents of the bag and searched. Sure enough, there was a little, silver mobile. He turned it on, looked through the contacts, and hit the call button.

"Pete, it's me, it's the Doctor. Listen, Rose has been kidnapped," he told her stepfather.

XxXxXxXx

Fifteen minutes and thirty two seconds after informing Peter Tyler that his stepdaughter was missing, the park was crawling with Torchwood agents looking for clues as to who had taken Rose.

"And that's all I know," he told Jake and Pete, finishing his story.

"No other details?" Jake asked.

"No, I told you, I didn't even see who hit me with the dart, much less how many there were. I tried to track her down with the sonic, but there's too many people who've been through the Vortex to efficiently track her down by her artron energy with the sonic screwdriver."

"Artron energy? Jake asked.

"It's a kind of radiation you pick up when time traveling," he snapped out, sick of wasting time. They needed to get Rose.

"Sir, we've found something," one of the other agents said to Pete, holding out a couple of evidence bags. Inside each of the bags, there were a couple of darts just like the one he'd found sticking out of him. Two of them had been found not far from the tallest slide. Two more were found in the nearby car park.

One single dart had knocked him out. How many had Rose been shot with?

"I think I know those darts," Jake said, darting his hand out to grab the bags from the unnamed agent. He looked closely at them. "I do!" he exclaimed. "Micks did final tests with them about a month back."

Pete held out his hand for the bag. "I authorized these," he said quietly. "The agents call 'em 'bee stings.'"

"Who has access to these?" the Doctor questioned them. His voice was calm and even. But both men looked a bit scared when he asked that.

"It's not been released for use to all agents yet, I'll get a list," Pete answered.

"How easy is it to overdose?" he asked, still calm on the outside. Both men looked at one another quickly. "Well?" he said a little louder. "Tell me you tested that possibility before letting them be used!" he shouted.

The agents around all stopped what they were doing and looked at him.

"What are you looking at?" he snapped at them.

"You!" Peter Tyler pointed to one of the agents. The agent, an older man with gray at his temples, came over. "Get me a list of everyone who has access to the 'bee stings.' As for the rest of you," he called out. "Don't you all have jobs to do?" Pete admonished them angrily.

The agents went back to work suddenly, with a chorus of, "Yes, Sir," and "Right away, Sir." Pete watched them for a second before turning back to the Doctor.

"Where's Jackie?" the Doctor asked.

"Out with her friends. Tony's with the sitter," Pete replied.

"So she doesn't know," the Doctor confirmed. "Okay, you two know what Rose's been doing better than I would. Any reason you can think of why someone would do this?"

"I'm holding out hope it's another ransomer," Jake said. "Rose'll tear 'em apart."

"Another?" the Doctor yelled.

"She's been kidnapped before, because of her links with me an' Jacks," Pete said tiredly. "Sometimes I wish we'd have just let her be someone completely out of the public eye."

"Damn right, you should have," the Doctor agreed with a growl. "What happened?"

"She got free. Turned out she was hiding a ceramic knife. Two of the kidnappers are still in prison," Jake told him.

"And the rest?" the Doctor asked, because when the phrase 'two of' was used, there were more.

"The third is dead. Rose killed him," Pete admitted.

"What?" the Doctor yelled. He put his hands in his hair and started pacing. No bloody wonder she wanted out of this universe. Kidnapped, public eye, not feeling like she belonged. Hell, he had half a mind to find her, bundle her up, and take her back to the other Earth himself. "Okay, okay, so, ransomer, what other possibilities are there?"

"Her stance on alien-human relations hasn't exactly made her friends in some circles," Jake spoke up.

"Yeah, she said things were xenophobic," the Doctor replied.

"Zen-what-ic?" Jake asked.

"A fear of people from other places," Pete answered just as the agent he'd sent to get the list came back.

"Director Tyler, I've got your list," he panted. Pete took the tablet from him and looked it over, muttering to himself. The Doctor caught a handful of names, but none he knew. Pete handed the list to Jake and asked him if any stood out.

"Peter Travers, Alice Mayfield," Jake said, moving down the list. "Hell, everyone knows Trout doesn't like her one bit.

"I can't see Thomas kidnapping anyone," Pete said.

"Just sayin'," Jake replied. "Uh, let's see. David Cantrell, Johnathan Winters, Richard Tyler," he finished.

"Anyone on that list could have something to do with it," the Doctor said. "I need...a map. Yeah, that's what I need. Something to plot points on."

Jake started flicking and poking at the tablet, then handed the thin electronic device to the Doctor. "This'll do ya?" Jake asked.

"Yeah, ta," the Doctor replied, poking at the map to get just the area he was in. He put a dot in the exact location he stood, then put the tablet down and took readings with his sonic. He noted those readings down quickly, marking all sixteen readings, then started taking off to Rose's car.

"Where are you going?" Jake asked.

"To get a second set of readings so I can triangulate the positions of all the artron energy signatures," the Doctor responded without stopping.

"Jake, go after him," the Doctor heard Pete tell Jake "Don't leave 'im alone."

"Yes, boss," Jake replied and ran off after the Doctor.

"I don't need a babysitter, Jake," the Doctor said when Jake caught up to him.

"Maybe not, but you really shouldn't be alone right now," Jake countered. "I know what happened in that world with Donna"

"Oh, you do, huh?" the Doctor asked.

"Yeah, and I've got a question," Jake wondered as they got in the car. "Rose called it a causal bubble, but the scientists kept telling her it was just another parallel. Which one was it?"

"Your friend, and my-my Rose are missing, and you're asking this now?" the Doctor grumbled at him.

"I'm trying to get you to calm down before you drive," Jake informed him.

"It's not helping," the Doctor retorted before he started up the car and shot out of the parking lot. He felt a grim satisfaction when Jake grabbed the door when he turned onto the road.

The Doctor drove seven streets over, pulled the car into a spot in the first parking lot he found, and got out. He marked the spot where he stood, and sixteen more lines showing the readings he was getting. Jake watched him in silence as he marked the places where the lines intersected, then the doctor put marks in the spots where the sources of artron energy were.

"Jake, get on the phone and give Pete the locations I just marked. Tell him I'm going here." He jabbed at the closest dot on the map. "I also need the rest of the spots cross checked with the list of people with access to those darts."

Jake made the call while the Doctor drove. When he was about to hang up, the Doctor pulled up next to the place where the first dot showed up. It appeared to be a warehouse, and the Doctor had a determined look when he stepped out of the car. He pulled his sonic out and scanned one last time before he went up to the door.

"Wait, Doctor," Jake called before he got to the door.

"For what Jake?" the Doctor asked, angrily.

"I just didn't want you to kick down the door, or try to kick down the door. You're a skinny bloke," Jake told him.

"I wasn't going to kick down the door," the Doctor scoffed. He didn't know for sure if that was Rose inside. If he'd had an inkling for sure one way or the other, he'd have torn the building down to get to her if that was what it took.

He knocked on the door. A lot of clanging was heard inside before a scruffy looking man with bleary eyes opened it.

"Ello?" he slurred, half asleep.

"Hello, I'm Jacob Simmonds, this is my partner Johnathan Smith, and we're looking for someone," Jake said.

"Ain't no one 'here but me," the man said grumpily.

"Maybe you've seen 'er. She's about this high," Jake said. "Blonde, but not naturally, you can see her roots. What was she wearing?"

"A black dress," the Doctor replied. He had scanned the man as Jake asked questions. The man had been through the Vortex at least once. He scanned around the man, and found that he was the only source of artron radiation in the building. "You're human, but you're not in the time you were born in," he mumbled.

"That's supposed to be classified information," the man hissed.

"Oh, it is," the Doctor replied. "Travel through time leaves an energy on you, and the person I'm looking for also has the energy, that's why we're here. Don't worry, I won't tell." He stalked off to the car, calling to Jake. "We're going to the next reading!"

He would find Rose one way or the other. No matter what.

Chapter Text

 

Rose came to a groggy awareness when a blunt force slammed into her rib cage. She curled into herself instinctively, covering as many of her vulnerable spots as she could manage.

"Wake up, you little bitch," a voice snapped at her. She looked up to see the man who had kicked her looking down on her with a livid expression on his face, what little she could see of it anyway. Thankfully, it was covered. Either he didn't plan on killing her, or, he didn't plan on killing her right away, but with her reputation for getting out of sticky situations, he wanted it to be harder to identify him if she escaped.

That was good, she could work with that. Time had a way of helping her.

She took stock of her situation beyond the man standing there. She was in a small room, with the only furniture being a wooden chair that sat in the corner. A wooden chair was a possible weapon opportunity.

There was one window, but she could see bars on the other side of it. It was likely that they were in a bad neighborhood if they didn't mind the bars showing. Escape out of the window was unlikely, but getting it open and yelling for help wasn't completely out of the question.

There was one door that was open at the moment. They were pretty convinced she couldn't escape right then.

A glance at the ceiling provided no escape opportunities. The ceiling was standard, not a drop ceiling.

As for herself, she was tied up with duct tape binding her wrists together in front of her, tight enough that her fingertips were becoming numb. More duct tape bound her ankles, and a piece was slapped over her mouth. Her shoes were still on, which was great because she'd had all her shoes custom done to hide ceramic knives in after the kidnapping incident where they forgot to check her boot for a knife. The flats she wore had soles that got thicker toward the heel. She could pull the sole apart and retrieve the short knife in it.

"Good to see you're aware," another voice, female this time, spoke and Rose turned her gaze to the newcomer. She was wearing a ski mask as well. "I didn't know how long it'd take for the effects of the drugs to wear off."

Drugs? Rose wondered for a second before she remembered the darts sticking out of her as she tried to get to one of her kidnappers. She recognized their pattern, but the memory was fuzzy. Where did she recognize them from?

"Four Stings before you became a non threat. That's rather impressive," she said in a voice that didn't sound like she was impressed at all. "Only took one to lay out your boy toy."

Rose's eyes widened as she remembered the striped dart sticking out of the Doctor's neck just before he dropped. The tranquilizer worked fast. These people must be Torchwood, or have access to someone in Torchwood who was willing and able to get the tranquilizers. The darts that had come to be known as "bee stings," for their shape and striping were being made available to all agents as they completed their training.

She kicked out and made a show of struggling, to the kidnappers amusement. She shouted at them, but the duct tape made it so that no actual words came out.

"You were going to fuck him right there, weren't you?" she sneered. "Right in the kiddie's playground? Shame on you." She came closer and kneeled down near her, so that Rose could see the layers of color in her bluish irises. "Tell me, you little whore, does your piece of meat know you aren't human? Does he know everything you are is a lie?"

Rose headbutted her, hoping to break her nose. She hit her in the right place, but she didn't think it was hard enough to break. The woman still staggered back, holding her nose, though.

"You worthless...thing!" she screeched, and Rose was kicked by the man twice in her back before the woman got up. She tried to return the favor and kick Rose in the face, but Rose turned her head at the last second, and the woman's shoe connected with her ear, leaving Rose dazed. "We'll be back for you." Then they both left, and Rose was left alone.

She was glad she'd been able to deflect the blow. The last thing she needed was a bloody broken nose when that was all she had to breathe through. She rolled and, with difficulty, got up in her knees and elbows, then sat upright, sitting on her feet.

She then pulled the tape off of her mouth quickly, trying not to make a sound and moved her jaw around. The blow to her head had also hit her jaw, but nothing seemed to be broken, thankfully.

Rose brought her hands out in front of her, and slammed them back down, pulling to the sides as much as she could. The force used her body as a wedge to drive her wrists apart. There was pain in her wrists and her side where she'd been kicked, but she heard a ripping sound. Success!

Duct tape was meant to be torn easily, and she'd torn most of the way through with her first try. She wrenched her hands apart to get the last bit tore through, and removed the tape from her wrists.

She moved around so that she was sitting on her bum with her legs out in front of her and tried to break the tape on her ankles in much the same way as she'd done on her wrists, using her hands as extra force. It wasn't quite as easy as the wrists trick, and the tape was wrapped around a much larger expanse. She'd have to get the knife if she wanted to do this quickly.

She didn't want to get the knife out unless there was no other way. Not only would it give away the fact that she had a knife in the first place, but it could also incite more violence. No, the little ceramic knives were a last resort.

She really shouldn't have taken off the tape yet. She should have crawled over to the window, pulled herself up, and tried that method of escape first. She decided to try that next. She crawled over there, a much easier task without her hands bound, and pulled herself upright.

The window looked into an alley. She was high up, at good nine or ten stories up, it was hard to tell because she couldn't see the ground. The window was covered with some of that window tint some people used on their cars, even though it was illegal to make it so that you couldn't be seen by the coppers. There was a fire escape, which was why there were bars on the window, but the escape didn't go to the window, it went to the one next to hers.

She tried to pull up the window, but it wouldn't budge. She bent down to check and see if it was painted shut. She could probably cut it open if it was, but it wasn't. There were no nails in the bottom, like she expected. She started looking around the window, and discovered that the nails were in the top of the part that slid up, and they were driven in too well for her to have a chance at getting them out.

Well, unless she wanted to break the window, that wasn't going to work. Before she could decide what her next move was going to be, another person came in, slamming the door open. Rose tried to turn around quickly, but momentarily forgot that her legs were still bound and almost fell over. However, in keeping her balance, she threw her hands to the sides and gave away that they were unbound.

"How the hell-" the man started. It was a different man than the one who'd caused the ache in her side. He yelled, "It's tryin' to escape!"

It. He used the word,IT. That's what you say when you genuinely don't know what gender a being was. She was quite obviously female. The other reason to call a being, it was when you were trying to disassociate yourself from what you're doing to a being.

His word ratcheted up the level of danger in her mind to mauve. The woman had said she wasn't human, this man had called her an it. She heard footsteps running from somewhere and knew she didn't have much time before she was put down again.

"Where's the- where's John?" she demanded, not wanting to say his chosen name. The second man pretended that he didn't hear her, another dissociation tactic. "Where is he?" she yelled. "Tall bloke, brown hair, about yay high?" She held up her hand to about his height. "You lot put a dart in his neck earlier this evening?"

The man continued ignoring her as the woman and the first man came rushing in. They relaxed a bit when They saw that her legs were still bound and she was in no danger of escaping anytime soon.

But only a bit.

"Well, Miss Tyler, or whatever your name really is, how did you manage to get out of your bonds?" She pointedly looked down to Rose's bound feet in amusement. "Or most of them, anyway."

"Where's John?" Rose repeated. She wasn't going to tell the woman anything.

"What? You don't want to know why we have you? What we're planning to do with you?" she taunted.

"Where is Johnathan?" she question between gritted teeth.

"Oh, you're really protective of your pet, aren't you?" she teased.

"He. Is. Not. My. Pet," Rose argued. "Nor is 'e a toy or anything else that says 'm bettah than 'im or that I own 'im! Now, where is he!"

"We want nothing to do with him," the unidentified woman told Rose. "We left him in the park right where he dropped. He should be up and about now."

That was good. That was very good. The Doctor would be okay. And he knew she'd been taken. One way or another, she'd be getting out of this place fairly quickly.

If she could stay alive long enough, that was.

"You didn't answer my question, though. Does he, or does he not know that you aren't human?"

"I'm human!" Rose protested. "I was born on Earth, in London. My parents are both dead. My mum was cyberized." All of that was technically true. She was born on Earth, in London, just in a different universe. Her father died. Jackie Tyler of this universe was turned into a Cyberman, though that Jackie had never been a mother.

"You're telepathic," the woman accused.

"So? One outta every three 'undred an' fifty people are measurably telepathic!" Rose countered.

"True, but those one out of three hundred and fifty people aren't also capable of extremely fast healing," she replied smugly.

"How did-?" Rose asked. It was time to try the confused human routine. "That's highly classified!" she exclaimed, as if she were indignant the people had looked into her medical history.

"Why is it highly classified?" the unknown woman asked. "Could it be because you're not human?"

"No!" Rose denied. "It's 'cause people would think what you're thinkin!"

"Then why do you heal so fast?" she questioned knowingly. She then looked at the two men to either side of her. "Tie her to the chair. We'll get the truth out of her one way or the other."

"No!" she shouted. "No, no, no, no! You can't! 'M human! Me mum's 'uman. Me dad's human!" The bigger of the two men came at her, and she tried to dodge him, but her legs were still bound, and he wound up catching her around her waist. She hissed in pain from the damage to her ribs. She was pretty sure one of them was cracked.

She fought her captors, trying not to get into the chair, but between the three of them, they managed to get her in and bind her so that she couldn't easily get out.

"Your duct tape didn't hold me, you really think these ropes will?" she asked them.

"Maybe, maybe not," the blue eyed woman said without any concern. "I just need to hold you long enough to get you to admit what you are." Behind her, the two men were setting up a camera on a tripod.

"I am human," she repeated slowly. Instantly and without any warning, she was smacked.

"These are the rules," the woman told her. "I ask you a question, you answer me. If you tell me a lie, something bad happens to you."

"I have been telling the truth," Rose stated with a growl.

"Where were you born?"

"London, England, Earth."

Smack.

"What species are you?"

"Human. Oomph." Rose had been punched this time. "Homo Sapiens?" she choked out

"What is your real name?"

The rapid fire questions continued like this for several minutes. Every answer she gave led to something happening, until she just stopped answering questions at all and dropped her head, acting as if she'd been knocked out. It wasn't long before they gave up and left her alone for a bit.

She hurt everywhere, and she was pretty sure that a couple more bones were fractured, including her jaw. She hoped none of them healed funny. They'd have to be re-fractured.

Wait a minute. She was thick, she was so thick. She was telepathic. The Doctor was telepathic. The Doctor was a touch telepath, yeah, but she wasn't. And she knew his mental signature. He'd be looking for her, and if she knew him, and she did, he would be being a bit reckless.

Rose took a minute to catch her breath and get her mind into the right place. She could let him know that she was hurt, or it'd spur him on even harder.

"Doctor," she whispered lightly at first, then stronger each time until she finally felt his contact.

"Rose?!" he replied in a mental shout.

"Blimey, tone it down a bit, yeah?" she admonished him.

"It is you! Where are you?" he questioned.

"I dunno," she told him. He could use any bit of information she had, though. "I'm at least nine stories, maybe more off of ground level, though."

"That narrows it down," he replied. "Anything else?"

"The window to the room I'm in overlooks an alley, and the building next door is shorter than this one. There's also a fire escape, but next to the window I'm at. Oh, and there's bars on the window."

"Narrows it down," he said, making her smile in remembrance, then grimace in pain from her jaw. "Rose, are you okay?" he asked suddenly. It'd gotten through to him.

"I'm fine," she answered.

"No, you're not. I'm coming, Rose, I promise," he told her.

Rose cut the link between them, because what she was about to do would hurt. It would hurt a lot. The Doctor was coming, but she didn't know how long it would take to get there, and she was never one to wait for her prince to come.

She took a deep breath and yanked up with her right arm, the stronger of the two, trying to pull the arm of the chair up. She did it several more times. If she couldn't get the chair's joint to break, maybe she could get the rope loosened a hair. Each pull jarred her bones, and the rope bit into her skin.

Every few pulls, she would twist her hand, trying to get it out of the loop. It was nine pulls before her hand was free. The arm had splintered a bit, but didn't break. The rope, however, it was new, and stretched just enough for her to get her hand out. As soon as her hand was free, she undid the knot on the other wrist, then the one holding her chest and leaned down, pulling her shoe off.

She took the heel in her hands, and found the spot inside the tread where her fingernails fit. A push just right made a clicking sound, and a small panel, much like a battery cover, opened up, revealing the ceramic knife within. She then hid the knife at the small of her back by poking it through the fabric, closed up the shoe, put it back on, and re-tied the loops on the chair. The loops were looser this time, so that she could slip her hands in them quickly. She then wrapped the rope around her chest and tied it, making it look like she was still bound to the chair.

She did this just in time to hear footsteps coming down the hall. She slid her hands back into the loops and drooped her head. The door opened, and a head popped in.

"She's still out," the first man who'd come in the room told the others. There was a short reply, and he said, "Well, you didn't have to hit her in the head so hard." The door closed, locked, and the footsteps retreated.

Rose pulled her hands back out of the loops, took the knife from her back, and leaned down, cutting the tape at the back of her legs. She wasn't going to remove it yet. She wanted them to think she was still fully bound when they returned. When she had all but a very small bit at the top, to help maintain the illusion, undone, she placed the knife back into its impromptu holder, leaned back, and put her hands in the loops.

She'd be ready when they returned.

Chapter Text

The Doctor stood by the hood of Rose's car with a larger paper map of the London area and the electronic pad with the information and connection to the internet he needed.

The cross referencing between the names of the people who had access to the tranquilizer darts and the locations that the Doctor had found with his scan had turned up nothing.

Thanks to Rose's telepathy, which was absolutely brilliant and he couldn't thank the Wolf enough for that gift at the moment, he was able to narrow down the possible locations Rose was being held. Fourteen possible unchecked locations had been narrowed down to four likely places.

It wouldn't be long before Rose was back in his arms.

XxXxXxXx

Rose wasn't left alone for very long before the woman came back in with the guard that had given her the cracked rib earlier. She didn't pretend to be asleep this time, but she did pretend to be much worse off than she actually was.

"Oh, look, 's you again. With your monkey, I see. Never on your own. What? Afraid to take on a short girl that's bound?" she taunted the blue eyed woman. Of course, all it did was earn her another smack.

Good. She didn't like what Rose had said and retaliated. It kept her less observant, so she couldn't tell that Rose was unbound. She needed a different distraction technique, though, because that way was painful. Even a little smack jarred her jawbone.

"Are you gonna jus' keep hittin' me?" she asked. "Cause, it ain't workin', ya know. Doesn't change the truth."

Yeah, talking didn't hurt as much. And as a bonus, talking was exactly what they wanted her to do apparently. The guard had finished adjusting the camera and the little red recording light was on again.

"Which is?" the woman questioned.

"I've already told you that," Rose replied. "I've answered every one of your questions truthfully. It doesn' matter how many times you ask me what planet 'm from, or what planet I was born on, or what species my parents were, or any other rephrasing of that same question you keep asking. The answers are not gonna change."

"You're not human," the woman spat at her. "Which is all the proof I need to know that you're lying."

"What is your problem?" Rose asked. "Why're you like this?" A thought came to her. "Unless? Oh! You've had a problem with an alien, haven't ya?" The woman made a gesture to her muscle. The thug stepped forward, and Rose told the woman, "I'm sorry, 'm so sorry for whatever they put you through, but it wasn't-oomph." She took deep breaths, trying to will the pain away and keep from leaning forward and giving away the fact that she wasn't actually tied to the chair.

"Tell the truth!" the woman shouted.

"I am!" Rose yelled back, then winced at the sharp pain shouting had caused in her jaw. Before the guard could deliver another blow, she asked, "Why not just pretend I'm telling the truth for a minute?"

"Because you're not," she replied, as if it were obvious. Rose rolled her eyes exaggeratedly and laughed mirthlessly, heedless of the pain.

"And here I thought you were a bit smart," she taunted. "It's pretend. You could get a lot more information that way. Cause 'm sure not volunteerin' stuff the way you've been going at it."

"Okay then. You're from Earth, your parents are human, and they're your real parents," she spoke rapidly, not disguising how much she didn't believe any of it.

"Yep, that's how you do it," Rose told her. "Could take out some of the skepticism though," she added.

"So, how did you become less than human?" she asked.

"Ah, now you're gettin' it! Finally, that's almost the train of thought you should be having!" Rose mock praised. "Though, less than? Really?" she asked. "I'm just as human as I've always been."

"Answer the question," she barked at Rose.

Rose sighed theatrically. "I came across this really strong energy connected to time travel and almost died from it. The telepathy and healing are side effects of exposure to the energy at the levels I was exposed."

"So, you're saying it was an accident with time travel?" she asked skeptically.

"Yes," Rose lied. It wasn't actually an accident.

"You've time traveled," she deduced.

"Yep!" Rose answered.

Suddenly, a loud bang was heard from outside. It sounded like a car had backfired, or a gunshot, one of the two.

"See what that was," the woman told the guard, who immediately left.

Rose felt a telepathic probing. It was very light, and she would have missed it had she not been waiting for it. Knowing it was the Doctor, she made the connection and felt his relief to have found her immediately.

"Did you hear that?" he asked.

"Really loud bang, sounded like a gunshot just a few seconds ago?" Rose answered.

"Yep! That takes two more spots off- wait, really loud!" he realized. "I know where you are!"

"Good, at least one of my guards has gone to investigate whatever you did. There are three total. One woman, two men," she told him quickly.

"And you expect me to just believe you're capable of time travel?" the woman asked incredulously.

"Me? Oh, no, not me. That was an alien from the future," Rose denied. She almost didn't hear her question, focused as she was on the conversation in her head. It was extremely difficult to carry on two conversations at the same time.

"Be right there," he said. "Already on my way up."

"An alien. From the future," the woman repeated incredulously.

"Yeah, that's it," Rose told her.

"I don't believe you." The woman stepped forward and got close to Rose, but not so close that Rose could have headbutted her if she was properly tied.

Rose slipped her hands out of the loops tied to the chair while she couldn't see. With one guard checking on what happened, and Rose in here alone with only one of her captors, there was no better time to try for an escape. The Doctor was coming, yes, but he'd most likely be alone, and would probably forget that he wasn't quite as strong or as semi-immortal anymore.

"And it doesn't matter if you're an alien or not, you just admitted to willingly engaging with one and having been influenced by an alien energy. So-"

Rose kicked out, colliding with the her legs to unbalance her, then brought her fist into the woman's chest to knock her back. She wrenched her legs apart and stood up. Before she could get the tape the rest of the way off her legs, her opponent came at her from a crouched position. Rose kicked out with one of her legs and hit her shoulder, freeing that leg of the tape in the same move.

While her kick had missed it's mark, which was the woman's head, it had enough of the desired effect for the pain in Rose's foot to be worth it. She fell over, holding her shoulder for a moment and gave Rose enough time to grab her knife.

"She's escaping!" her opponent yelled. Rose kicked her in the head, hard, in retaliation for all the bruises cuts, and fractures she had.

"Shut up, you cow," she muttered and walked out of the room through the door that was still open. She wouldn't have long before at least one of the guards showed up.

XxXxXxXx

The Doctor had an idea to narrow down the possibilities of where Rose was even further. The four places that fit her description enough were clustered in two different places on opposite sides of London. He and Jake went close to the nearest place Rose could be. Jake apprised Pete on everything that was happening, and Pete was getting together a team with teleports to show up wherever the Doctor told him they were needed. It wasn't fast enough for him, though, and he was worried about what might happen if they went in with guns blazing.

The Doctor tried to reach Rose telepathically. He had the ability to converse with another telepath at a distance, but it was very difficult. When he thought he found her, he signaled Jake, who shot into the ground, then he pushed, trying to actually reach her. To his relief, she answered after only a couple of seconds.

He found out that Rose was right there. He was only right across the street from the building she was in. He assured her he was coming and ran to the door. He stepped inside, went toward the lifts, and ran into a short, wide man who's blonde hair was very messed up. He was dressed in all black and there was a ski mask tucked into one of his pockets.

He had a strong suspicion that the man was one of Rose's captors.

"What's goin' on out there?" he asked gruffly, confirming his theory.

"Oh, just an old car backfiring, nothing wrong," the Doctor replied with false joviality as Jake caught up to him.

The man grunted in reply, then went back to the lift and hit the button. The Doctor and Jake followed him into the space when the doors opened. His heart was thumping in his ears and he thought that it was because of the adrenaline rush. He'd never had an issue like that before, but this was the first time he'd walked into a dangerous situation since the change. He'd only been in proper danger when he was purely human for the last day, and he'd had the same issue then, too.

Experiencing the human adrenaline rush was amazing now that he was not only himself, but also not scared.

The thug stood in the back of the lift, while the Doctor stood in front of him, trying not to show that he knew what the other man had done to Rose. He didn't think he could look at him any longer than he had to. Jake stood off to the side, tensed up and ready for a fight.

The doors to the lift slid open on the eleventh floor, and the kidnapper went to push past the Doctor, but he stepped aside and let the man pass. With a nod to Jake, he stepped out of the lift behind the other man rushed over to him, and grabbed his skull with both hands.

"What're -" he started before he dropped like a sack of potatoes.

"How did you do that?" Jake asked.

"Touch telepath," the Doctor replied. He took out his sonic and scanned. "Rose is- aha!"

He walked over to the door that his sonic indicated and unlocked it with the same tool. "Ready?" he asked Jake, who nodded and got ready.

Before he pushed the door open, they heard a woman yell, "She's escaping!"

The Doctor pushed the door open, thinking that his entry had set off some kind of alarm, but no one came rushing to him. Instead, the other guard, who'd had his back to the door, rushed down the hallway.

Rose stepped out of the room she'd been in and saw the guard who'd rushed down the hall coming at her. She lifted her hand, holding something small and the guard stopped.

The Doctor and Jake had both started forward when the guard stopped. The Doctor yelled out, seeing what was happening, but it was too late to stop it. Jake had his gun out and shot the man.

But not before the kidnapper shot Rose.

She'd tried to duck into the room she'd come out of, but wasn't fast enough. She fell into the room, and the Doctor couldn't see anything but her legs, one of which still had duct tape on it. The kidnapper was still upright and clutching his side, which had blood gushing out if it.

"Drop your weapon!" Jake shouted at the man.

"It's gotta die," the man said nonsensically and shot a second time. The Doctor grabbed the gun and wrenched it from the man. "It's gonna die," he declared, gesturing at Rose, then laughed. The laugh turned into cries of pain.

The Doctor, stood up and shot the man once more with his own gun in the leg, not putting him out of his misery, but causing more pain. He then ran into the room where Rose was laying and dropped next to her. Jake had his hands over one of her wounds, trying to stop the bleeding. The Doctor took over and Jake got on the phone to get some help.

"Doctor," Rose said, barely over a whisper.

"Hey, you," he replied, tearing the thin fabric of her dress to get at her wounds. "I'm gonna fix you right up, okay?"

"'M sorry," she whispered.

"What for?" he asked. "You were brilliant, getting out like that."

"'M sorry, I should've-" she stopped speaking and cried out when he tied a tourniquet over the hole on her arm where the second shot hit.

"Don't worry about it, you're gonna be fine," he told her, trying to believe it himself.

"Help's on the way," Jake informed them as he tried to help again.

"Jake, get in my left pocket. There's a pack of tissues there." He felt the other man get into his pocket and turned back to Rose. "Knife, I need a knife." Rose's good arm came up, and he noticed that the small object she'd been holding earlier was a small, ceramic knife. He took it from her, remembering what he stepfather and Jake had said about her having a knife on her. As soon as it was out of her hand, her arm dropped back to the floor, limp.

"Doctor, I'm sorry. I shoul-" she started, then coughed.

"Hey, hey. There's nothing to be sorry for," he told her sternly. "You're gonna be okay."

"...find out like..." she said, her whispers growing weaker. She closed her eyes.

"Woah, Rose, stay with us!" Jake shouted.

"...love yen, ma Doct-," she breathed out, before she passed out.

Chapter Text

 

The first of the help that Jake had called in showed up just after Rose had passed out. A team of five had arrived by teleport. One held a medical kit and a backboard, while the other four were armed. The four armed people started clearing the rest of the flat, while the man holding the medical kit bent down to look at the wounds of the man in the hallway.

"Fuck 'im!" Jake yelled. "Take care o' Rose, Owen!"

"She's been shot, twice, and he's the one who shot her," the Doctor agreed darkly. He held his finger inside the wound on her chest. The first bullet had grazed her main artery and he was plugging the hole.

Owen took one look at Rose and rushed over immediately. The Doctor began spouting basic medical information to him, and Owen stopped him.

"I know her history," he snapped. "I just need to know what injuries you've seen and why you've got your finger in 'er."

"Cause there's a hole in her ascending aorta," the Doctor barked back. "She's also got a bullet hole there in her arm, which I've tied a tourniquet over to slow the bleeding."

"Shit, I can't take her the way I came," Own cursed.

"Of course you can't teleport her injured, you prawn!" the Doctor shouted. Jake noted the tears streaming down his face.

"Doctor, calm down," Jake interrupted. "I know you're freaking out. I get it, but don't take it out on this jerk. He's a great doctor." Owen had a horrible personality, but was really good at his job.

"Thanks ever so much for that, Simmonds," Owen grumbled, taking out a headlamp. He put the headlamp on and adjusted it, then pulled out a pair of gloves, a suture kit, and a little black hand held device Jake had never seen before. It was shaped like a pen, but with a bulbous tip.

"I'm gonna close up the worst hole temporarily," Owen told the Doctor. "It'll keep her going until we can get her into surgery."

With some help from the two men who's hands were covered in Rose's blood, Owen widened the opening and sealed up the hole in Rose's artery. It was something he wouldn't have been able to do in place if he hadn't had the little black pen thing, which sealed the hole somehow.

He then took a look at the one in her arm, but proclaimed it a flesh wound and packed the wound with gauze so the tourniquet could be removed and blood flow restored to her arm.

While they had been saving Rose, a second team had come and a medic had treated the man that both Jake and the Doctor had shot. The woman who'd been laying in the room woke up from being knocked out cold by Rose, and she and the man in the hallway that the Doctor had put to sleep had been taken away.

Jake looked out into the hallway and hoped the bastard that shot Rose wouldn't make it.

XxXxXxXx

The Doctor was beside himself. Rose was dying right there in front of him, and all he could do for her was plug the hole in her so that her blood could get to the rest of her body and not come out.

She was hard to look at. There was blood everywhere, but underneath it were bruises where she'd been hit. He knew she'd been in pain when they'd made contact before, but he'd had no idea the extent of it.

He could feel her heartbeat. It was stronger than he would have expected it to be, but much weaker than he wanted it to be.

Then the team Jake had called in appeared, and with them, there was a doctor of the medical variety. The man went to the first body he saw and started checking it over, which pissed the Doctor off. That...thing on the floor was the reason his pink and yellow Rose was all red.

But before he said anything to the doctor with a little 'd', Jake told him off.

The man, who'd Jake identified as Owen, took one glance at Rose and immediately went to her. It wasn't long before he had the worst of the bleeding stopped and Rose bundled up on a stretcher to take her to the medical levels in Torchwood Tower.

The Doctor refused to leave her side and tossed the keys to her car to Jake before he hopped up into the ambulance. The ambulance was disguised as a delivery van. From the outside, it looked like a standard, white box truck, but inside was a very well stocked ambulance. Owen stayed with her and with the other medical personnel, kept Rose alive for the trip back to the Tower.

At the Tower, Rose immediately went into surgery.

"You need to stay here, Doctor," Owen told him, putting a hand on his chest. Owen himself didn't go into the surgery. He wanted Owen in there for some reason, but he didn't know why.

"But-" he started, then changed his mind. "Can I watch her?"

"There's no way to," he said.

"Can you be there?" he asked.

"I need to get scrubbed in," he told the Doctor, then turned and left through the door.

The Doctor stood there for two minutes, fifty-three seconds just staring at the door before a nurse came up to him. "Maybe you should get cleaned up?" she suggested in a kind voice.

The Doctor looked down at himself. He was covered in Rose's blood. How had he not noticed that? Did it even matter? Not to him, but other people looked at you funny when you were covered in blood, and he'd get it everywhere. He nodded at the nurse.

"It's gonna be okay, honey. The doctors will take good care of her," the nurse told him. "Nancy, would you get Mr- uh," she started.

Right, name. She needed his human name. What was his new name? "Smith," he blurted out. "I'm Johnathan Smith. Yeah, that's it, I think."

"Would you get Mr. Smith some scrubs to change into?" she asked the other nurse, who immediately left. "Come on, Johnathan, let's go get you cleaned up." She didn't comment on him having obviously forgot his name for a moment. Maybe that was normal.

She led him to a small room where there was a shower. "You don't need to bother with me," the Doctor told the nurse.

"Nonsense," she scoffed. "You're no bother. Besides, 'smy job, to take care of the families in a time when they forget to care for themselves.

"Family. I don't have any family. I've just got Rose," he spoke.

"How long have you been together?" she asked softly.

"Years," the Doctor replied. "But we were separated for a while. I was-" he stopped himself. Continuing with that sentence wouldn't be good. "Somewhere else and couldn't see her," he finished. "I missed her and just got her back," he added when the other nurse came up holding neatly folded cloth. The nurse he'd been talking to took the small pile from her and put it on the counter.

"Now, you get all that blood off of you," she ordered him. "There's bags right there for your personal effects, and I'll be out by where I found you when you return."

He went to close the door, but then asked her, "What was your name?"

"Jessica," she answered.

"Thank you, Jessica," he said.

"You're welcome, Johnathan," she replied.

The Doctor closed the door and began removing his clothes. He stuffed bloody items into one bag-he could get them clean later, and the rest into a second bag. When he was stripped bare, he looked into the mirror, and he didn't like what he saw.

He looked tired. There were splatters of blood on his face and neck. Some had even gotten into his hair, making it form stiff peaks from where he'd run his hands through his hair. He was skinny, wow, was he a little, skinny bloke. What the hell did Rose see in him? He was a mess, constantly broke her heart, and was a beanpole on top of that.

He stepped into the shower and turned it on, wondering why this all happened. Just a couple of hours before, they'd been laughing, having fun, and taking their relationship a big step further. Now, he wasn't sure she'd survive the night. He didn't know what he'd do if she didn't. He needed her.

With that admission, the tears started falling.

XxXx

The Doctor stepped out of the shower room feeling marginally better. Except for his hand, which throbbed. One really shouldn't punch a tiled surface, unless you were very angry and it was worth it. He walked to the little waiting room by the doors he had been standing in front of. There, he met a tired looking Pete sitting there with his head in his hands. Rose's stepfather didn't notice he was there until he dropped into the chair next to him.

"Where's Jackie?" the Doctor asked.

"She's on her way," Pete replied. "I had to call her. This is too big to keep from her."

"You're keeping injuries from her?" the Doctor questioned. That took some guts. "Better you than me," he added, which caused Pete to chuckle.

"Keeps the complaints about how dangerous things are down, but I've gotta Prentice slap comin' for me for sure," Pete told him.

"Prentice slap, huh? I've always called it the Tyler slap myself," the Doctor said.

"Marion Prentice could throw a good one," Pete remembered, holding his face. "Woman died eight years ago, and I still feel it! Reckon 'er husband called the slap by her maiden name as well."

"Tell me about it," the Doctor sympathized. "I've had two new faces since Jackie got me." Both men gave a laugh that ended far too soon.

"Anything yet?" the Doctor asked.

"No, not yet," Pete replied. "Right now, no news is good news."

They heard a door slam open down the hall, and even before the woman talked, both men recognized the stride of an angry Jackie Tyler.

"Where the hell is my daughter?" she yelled as soon as the men could see her.

"Sh-she's in surgery," the Doctor replied quietly.

Jackie's eyes landed on him, and she stalked forward. The Doctor thought she was going to hit him. He deserved it, so he sat there and let her come at him. Just before she got to him, she stopped and looked him up and down.

To his surprise, she threw her arms around his neck. The Doctor sat in his seat with his arms out to his side for a moment before he wrapped them around her. Jackie was a different shape than her daughter, but she hugged the same way Rose did; with everything she had.

"Oh, Sweetheart," she said in his ear and started rocking him. It felt good to be comforted like that. Jackie rocked and hugged him for a bit before she pulled back suddenly. "Okay. What 'appened?" she asked sternly, looking down on her husband and the Doctor.

"Well, um," the Doctor started.

"They were both hit with tranquilizer darts and Rose was kidnapped," Pete told his wife, taking the much longer explanation out of the Doctor's hands.

"Just what were you doin' that you got shot with a dart for?" Jackie asked in her high pitched I'm-about-to-slap-you voice.

Lucky for him, another voice interrupted what he was sure was going to be a diatribe about getting her daughter into trouble. "Ah, Mrs. Tyler, he didn't do anything this time. They were out on a date," Jake told her. "And the Doctor's the one who figured out where she was and saved her." the Doctor wondered when he showed up.

"You saved 'er?" Jackie asked the Doctor hopefully.

"I don't know, Jackie," he admitted. "I couldn't stop it. I-we don't know anything yet."

"Well, ya ain't gonna find out standin' 'ere, now are ya?" She walked over to the desk where the nurses were and started questioning the two poor women. Pete followed her, in hope that he could calm her down when the nurses told her there was nothing to know yet.

The Doctor just sat there, watching and wondering what was going on in the operating room. The other people talking had helped pass some time and keep his mind occupied a bit, but he couldn't get rid of the image of his worst nightmare coming to life right in front of him. Jake dropped himself into a chair in front of him and stared.

"What?" he wondered.

"You look like shit, Doc," he spoke bluntly.

"Thank you for that general assessment," he responded. "Right now, I couldn't care less. Why aren't you covered in blood?"

"Nothing I could do here except worry, so I stopped by my flat and cleaned up," Jake told him.

They heard the click of shoes coming toward them and turned to find out who else was coming. None of their party and none of the nurses wore hard soled shoes. There were three people: Melissa Saroyan walked toward them, followed by Malcolm and Tosh.

"We heard what happened," Tosh spoke softly, sitting down next to Jake.

"We came to offer our support," Malcolm added ad he dropped into the seat next to Tosh. "We were in the building anyway."

"I ran into them and they told me what happened," Melissa explained worriedly. She perched on the seat on the other side of Jake from Tosh.

The Doctor was glad they were there. Rose's friends were here for her. The only people missing in her life were Anna Sherman, who was a new addition to Rose's team and probably didn't know what happened, and her brother. The Doctor was glad Tony wasn't there. He didn't want the little boy there in the atmosphere of worry.

"One of the nurses are gonna go back 'ere an' try ta see 'ow things're goin'," Jackie told everyone.

The news was supposed to have eased the tension of everyone in the room, but it had the opposite effect on the Doctor. While he knew nothing, he could pretend that Rose was doing well and she'd come out of surgery just fine. Much like he had done while they were separated in different universes, and like he was certain his other self was doing right then. The bastard had no idea, none at all.

Ignorance really was bliss, but it was still ignorance. He didn't want to know, but he needed to. That was the promise of his new, one life, he wouldn't run from the things that needed to be dealt with or said any longer. He didn't have time to.

Jackie sat down next to the Doctor with Pete on the other side of her and the whole group waited for any kind of news. The wait wasn't very long, only six minutes and twenty three seconds from the time Jackie had sat down next to him.

The nurse who'd brought the scrubs he wore came back through the double doors, followed by a doctor with a little 'd' that he'd never seen before. The Doctor immediately stood up and took a couple of steps toward him. If he was there, that meant Rose was out of surgery. The other man in scrubs didn't look like he'd just lost a patient, but he might not have been in Rose's surgery.

"I'm Dr. Louis Fletcher, and I'm the surgeon that worked on miss Tyler," he introduced himself.

"Well, how is she?" Jackie demanded.

"Rose is out of surgery and in recovery. She's stable for now, but in a coma," he told everyone. There was a collective sigh of relief from everyone and the Doctor's heart leapt. The news wasn't an all clear yet, but Rose had gotten through the surgery and was stable. Her chances had improved dramatically.

"When can we see her?" both the Doctor and Jackie asked at the same time.

"Like I said, she's still in a coma, but immediate family members may look in on her for their own assurance," Dr. Fletcher told them.

Jackie immediately stepped forward and pulled the Doctor with her. The Doctor almost protested that he wasn't family, but thought better of it before he opened his mouth. He needed to see Rose, needed to see the evidence that she was still there with his own eyes.

Dr. Fletcher led them to the room where Rose was being held while she recovered from her surgery. A nurse in blue scrubs with hearts on them was taking her vitals when they walked in. She nodded at them and left the room, pushing her cart with the laptop on it out with her.

Jackie rushed right to her and grabbed Rose's hand. "Oh, sweetheart, my Rose, what did those bastards do to you? I'll kill 'em, every one of 'em," she promised fiercely.

"I'd help," the Doctor said, "but we need to know why this happened and if they were working alone."

He stepped closer and gazed down at Rose. She was pale and looked lifeless, but the heart monitor showed she wasn't. She was intubated, and the tube sticking out of her throat made it impossible to pretend she was just taking a nap and he could shake her awake at any time.

Her bruises were a lot lighter. They must have used one of the myriad of devices for healing bruises that had been invented. He wondered why they did it, though, bruises were the least of Rose's worries and they'd fade with time.

The Doctor took her hand gently, as there was an IV line sticking out of the back of it. As soon as his skin touched hers, he felt the tingle he always felt with sentient life. He ran his hand up her arm to keep that reassuring feeling as he leaned closer.

"Hey, you, Miss Jeopardy Friendly," he softly spoke. "You keep fighting, 'cause I need you, and we need to finish our big date." He leaned back and regarded her. "I love you, and I always will, so you'd better come back to me like always."

He kissed her temple and felt a lot more than the tingle. Her consciousness was there, as vibrant as her, but sleeping for the moment, more deeply than sleeping. She'd come out of the coma fine, as soon as her body was ready.

"So, a date, huh?" Jackie said suddenly, making the Doctor jump. He'd forgotten she was there.

"Yeah," he replied.

"Well, it's about damned time," she told him.

"Far too long," he agreed.

"Helluva end to a date," she commented and sighed. "I don' wanna leave 'er, but I've got Tony with the sitter and after what happened, Pete's gonna have to stay 'ere for a bit."

"I understand," he assured her. "So would Rose. Go take care of your son. I've got Rose." Jackie nodded and a tear ran down her cheek.

"I can see that," she said. She went around the bed and hugged him again. "I'm so glad you're here," she told him. "Thank you for saving her." She let go of him, sniffled, and turned to Rose, kissing her forehead before reluctantly stepping out of the room.

The Doctor pulled a chair from the corner of the room to the side of Rose that had a bare hand. He threaded his fingers through her hand and sat there next to her, telling her plans he had for the two of them, how they were going to run all through time and space again, but he did it in his mind, in case some one heard him speaking.

"...and we won't have to hide who we are from them, they're a very open minded and welcoming culture, Rose," he told her telepathically.

Two minutes and eighteen seconds later, a nurse poked her head in. It was the same one that had been in the room when the Doctor and Jackie had walked in earlier.

"Miss Tyler needs her rest, sir," she told him when she saw him.

"Rose is in a coma, she won't be bothered by anything," he told her. "And I'll stay out of the way of you lot doing your jobs, but I will not leave her side," he informed the woman.

"Mr-" she started.

"Doctor," he interrupted tersely. "Smith, Johnathan Smith," he added, remembering

"Doctor Smith, you can come back in the morning," she informed him.

"Someone from Torchwood had a hand in what happened to her, so you're barkin' mad if you think I'm gonna leave my Rose unprotected for them to have another go at her," he nearly yelled.

"Someone who works here did this to her?" she asked, shocked.

"Yes," he replied with a hiss.

The nurse looked over to Rose, laying on the bed, then at the hand the Doctor held. "Rose has been here many times for various reasons. She's always been nice. Why would- Okay, you can stay," the nurse told him.

Dr. Fletcher came in just after the nurse left. He noticed the Doctor sitting there and nodded before stepping to the bed and taking Rose's vitals. "Mr. Smith, you were the one who plugged the wound?" he asked.

"Yeah," he answered, wincing at the memory.

"That was a brilliant method. You saved her life with that trick," he told him.

With anyone else, the Doctor would have bragged. He would have said something about how clever he was. This was Rose, and if he'd been a bit cleverer, if he'd been a bit faster, he wouldn't be sitting here, holding the hand of the woman he loved as she fought for her life. No, instead he'd watched his worst nightmare play out in front of him, and only had enough wits about him to plug a hole, so he turned the conversation to something that had been bothering him.

"What technology did you use on her bruises?" he questioned. "Most dermal regenerators I know of work the body a little harder than usual. In her state-"

"I didn't use anything on her bruising, not in her state," the medical doctor informed him.

"Nothing? Her bruises are much lighter," he accused.

"That's nothing to do with any technology," Louis Fletcher told him. "I'm sorry, Mr. Smith, but you're not one of the people approved to discuss her medical history."

The Doctor was about to argue and point out that he'd been her doctor (the job) for years, until he remembered that he hadn't, and as far as this universe was concerned, he was just a bloke dating Rose Tyler. This man was holding Rose's confidence, and he was glad for that, he just wished he was inside of the circle.

"Who do I have to talk to to find out?" he asked.

"With Rose in this state, Director Tyler is in charge of that task," Dr. Fletcher explained apologetically as he flashed a light in Rose's eyes. "She's looking good and should make a full recovery," he concluded before he left.

The Doctor sat there, alone with Rose again and thought about what had happened earlier. He needed to know why everything happened, but investigating would take him away from Rose's bedside, and there were few people he trusted to stay with her.

He thought about what he'd done after the man, who they hadn't identified yet as far as he knew, shot Rose. He'd shot him in the leg, maiming him, just to cause him more pain. He didn't regret it, but it'd been an act of cruelty.

Never cruel nor cowardly...

He sighed. Maybe he didn't deserve the title anymore.

Fifteen minutes later, Jake came in. "Doctor, we've got some leads on who they are and why they did this," he told him. "Pete wants to see you."

"I'm not leaving Rose alone," he said tiredly.

"That's why I'm here," Jake replied.

The Doctor looked him up and down and nodded. He wanted to talk to Peter Tyler anyway.

Chapter Text

 

The Doctor went straight to the lift from Rose's room and right up to the top floor of the Tower. He walked right past Chelsea's empty desk and straight into Peter Tyler's office, where the man himself sat at his desk with Owen, Chelsea and Melissa standing behind him. All were focused on a screen which the Doctor couldn't see yet. He heard some scuffling sounds coming from it.

Pete stopped the video they were watching as soon as he saw the Doctor striding up to his desk. "Louis Fletcher said you were the one to talk to to find out about what's happening with Rose."

"How is she?" Chelsea asked worriedly.

"In a coma," he answered quickly. "Which is why I'm wondering why Rose's bruises are healing so fast. Her body isn't ready for any of the myriad of techniques for healing bruising. Louis said they weren't doing anything, but something's happening."

Pete sighed, leaned back, and said, "I told her to tell you. She didn't tell you anything?"

"Tell me what, exactly?" the Doctor hedged, not knowing how much Pete or anyone else in the room knew.

"I didn't think so," Pete confirmed and sighed. "The thing is, something happened to her when she was traveling with you. At least that's when she thinks it happened. She's capable of knowing-"

"He knows about the telepathy," Melissa informed him suddenly.

"What does Rose being telepathic have to do with anything?" the Doctor wondered impatiently.

"Because it was the first thing she found out about," she told him.

"I wish someone would just spit it out already! All this bloody hinting at things, but never telling me is making me bonkers!" he nearly yelled.

The others all glanced at each other before Pete finally answered him. "Rose heals fast."

"What?" the Doctor blurted out. Rose healed fast? No, that couldn't be. There were so many ways that wasn't good. The rapid healing could be using up her life faster, and he'd lose her. Earth in this time period was xenophobic in the extreme. He could handle it if he was caught, but he couldn't handle it if something happened to Rose. The worst case scenario was something he didn't want to think about, but not wanting to think about it didn't stop it from crossing his mind.

She attributed the changes in her to the few minutes that she was Bad Wolf. What if she were the one to live centuries past him?

He was getting ahead of himself. He needed answers first before he let his mind go off on a tangent.

"We don't understand it," Chelsea said, only a second after his exclamation. "Rose won't let anyone conduct tests. There have been a few done on her, of course, but only when she was unconscious, and-"

"You've been testing her without her knowing?" the Doctor shouted, suddenly very afraid for Rose.

"No, not against her will. Just the other time she was in a coma," Melissa calmly replied.

"Oh, the news just gets better and better. When the hell was she in a coma?!" he blurted out.

"It was a couple years ago," Pete explained. "She was hit by a car."

"Hit by a car, kidnapped, shot-" he started listing angrily, getting louder with each word before he felt a calming sensation. She took a step forward, and the Doctor backed up. "I know what you're doing, Melissa. I can feel you," he told her coldly. "Stop it." He gave her a mental push and Melissa's eyes widened. The telepathic presence at the edge of his mind disappeared immediately.

"Sorry. It's a reaction. I-I," she stuttered and apologized.

"You never use telepathy on someone without their permission," he snapped at her. He noticed she was scared. A part of him was satisfied with her reaction, but a larger part of him was horrified at scaring someone who was apologizing and had apparently done it accidentally.

The thought calmed him more than her ability could have. He closed his eyes for a moment and concentrated on the fact that Rose was alive and Jake was with her. "That should have been the first thing you learned when you were learning how to use your abilities. You never use them unless permission is given or there's an emergency," he explained. Melissa nodded and he turned his attention to Pete. "So, she can heal fast. How fast?"

"I don't know how to explain it," he answered. "The best way I can explain it is to give you her records. You need to know all of it anyway."

"Good," the Doctor replied. That was what he wanted anyway. He turned around and made to leave.

"That's not why I called you here, Doctor," Pete called out before he could get to the door. The Doctor stopped and spun around. It had slipped his mind that he had been called to the top floor. "You're going to want to sit down for this."

Pete had turned the monitor around so that the Doctor could see it. On, it, a video of Rose tied up was paused. She looked angry and was puling on the ropes that bound her.

"I am human," she told the woman standing right by her. She was smacked hard, causing her hand to snap to the side.

"These are the rules," the woman told her. "I ask you a question, you answer me. If you tell me a lie, something bad happens to you."

"I have been telling the truth," Rose said with her teeth bared.

"Where were you born?"

"London, England, Earth." She was hit again.

"What species are you?"

"Human."

"Oops, that's the wrong time stamp," Chelsea said and quickly moved the video forward eight and a half minutes.

Rose's head was dropped as if she were knocked out. They tried to get her awake, but quickly gave up on it and left the room. As soon as they left, she lifted her head, pulled on her bonds, and then closed her eyes, breathing in deeply. He saw her mouth make the word, "Doctor," but no sound came out. This was when she contacted him. The video was then fast forwarded through her freeing herself, pulling a knife out of her shoe. (He'd had no clue she was armed), and making it look like she was bound just in time for someone to check on her. She'd pretended to be still knocked out until they were gone, then got her feet unbound.

He was torn between pride that she released herself so quickly and shame that she had to have that skill set in the first place. It was all his fault. He wished he'd never had come back and asked her again.

He watched Rose taunt the woman who'd been torturing her in fascination. She got her to stop hitting her and start asking the right questions. The shot Jake had made was heard, and the man he'd put to sleep had left to check it out. Rose goaded the woman until she got right in her face before she revealed that she wasn't bound.

Rose's attack on her captor was vicious, efficient, and brutal. The video was stopped at a moment just before she was shot. The Doctor sat in his seat, speechless. His fingers were digging into the leather, and he was sure there would be permanent marks in it, if not outright holes.

The knowledge that she was tortured wasn't the worst part of the video, Neither was knowing what came next. Not even the efficiency with which Rose knocked out the woman who'd tortured her while she was in great pain. They all scared him, but not as bad as what he saw when the video was paused. Rose's eyes were looking right at the video camera.

And they were gold.

XxXxXxXx

Peter Tyler didn't usually deal with a case-any case directly, but considering who was at the center of this one and the highly classified nature of the case, he wouldn't let anyone else at the helm, except maybe for the man in front of him. That was a big maybe. The man was on the edge of truly snapping. Pete didn't blame him. It'd been a hard day, and he hadn't had his finger in the chest of the woman he loved after watching her get shot.

Pete watched the Doctor watching the video of his stepdaughter being tortured, knowing he didn't need this right now, but they needed to deal with the problem at hand. When it finished, the mostly alien man was frozen, staring at the screen in wide eyed horror and looked like he was about to be sick.

"As you can see, we've got a bit of a problem," he told the Time Lord. "None of the kidnappers captured tonight have ever actually worked for Torchwood, but they know things and had equipment. Someone knows far too much about Rose, and it might come back to Tony, Jackie, you, me, and anyone else she's close to." He still looked in shock and Pete wondered if he shouldn't have given him a summary of what was said in the video instead. "We need to find out who else was involved. Have you seen or heard anything from anyone wanting to know more about her?" he asked.

"Her eyes," the Doctor finally croaked out. "Her eyes are gold."

Pete turned the monitor to him to see, and sure enough, Rose's eyes looked gold in the frame the video was paused at. "Looks like light reflecting off her eyes," Pete denied. Why was the man fixated on her eyes after everything else on that video? The Doctor looked exasperated for a moment, then seemed to snap back to reality.

"I don't know, Pete. I've only been in this bloody universe for a couple weeks. There's been some gossip, but nothing more than the rumours and such you'd expect in a place like this with someone with her public profile." The Doctor leaned forward and ran his fingers through his hair, tugging at the strands for a minute. "Liam," he said suddenly. "Just this morning, I was talking to Liam when Rose came by and he said something about rumour being she was with a bloke that wasn't human. Well, that part was true, but no one could know that. Not saying he's part of it. I doubt it, but the rumour could have had someone looking into Rose deeper."

"Liam?" Chelsea asked writing his name down. "What's his last name?"

"I can't remember. Not sure it ever actually came up, but I worked with him this week. But, like I said, I don't think he's anything but a normal guy. I think he's just misinformed." The Doctor stood up and started pacing. "Wait a minute, we found her because of the list of people who had access to the Stings," he realized.

Pete nodded. "The flat Rose was found in belonged to-" He picked up a piece of paper on his desk and looked it over. "Alec Sullivan, who was found in the other bedroom. We don't yet know why Doctor Sullivan was targeted."

The Doctor grimaced. "Alec. I met him two days ago, we figured out how to stabilize nucleoli in a suspension. Good man. Vocal about alien rights. Very vocal. Very vehemently vocal. Went on a rant about it, actually." The Doctor started bouncing around nervously. Pete knew this behavior from Rose and knew he was feeling trapped and had to leave.

"Go in, Doctor. I'll have Dr. Fletcher release her full records," he told the nervous Time Lord, who immediately darted to the door.

"If you find out anything, let me know," he said just before he left the room so fast that Pete couldn't even acknowledge he'd said anything.

"You up for watching an interrogation?" he asked Melissa Saroyan. It was close to two in the morning, and it was her friend who'd these people had kidnapped and tortured.

XxXxXxXx

The Doctor went back to the lift and took it straight down to the level Rose was on. On the way down, he leaned against the wall with his eyes closed. He was so tired. Tired, scared, and extremely angry. So many thoughts were running through his head.

He should have killed the bastard that he'd shot. He wanted to. Oh, how he wanted to. The thought didn't even make him sick, not at that moment.

Rose's eyes glowed. That wasn't a trick of the light, that was luminous from within. Come to think of it, he'd seen that in the hotel in Norway, too. He'd thought that it was the yellowish light at the time and it was gone as quickly as he'd seen it.

Who knew about her? Who would have her interrogated her like that? Why was it filmed?

Where the hell did Rose learn to dispatch an enemy that quickly?

What the hell was going on with her? She obviously knew about the healing before they'd been brought back to this universe. Why hadn't she said anything?

The doors opened before he could go much further with his long list of questions without any answers. He went directly to the room where Rose was being held and discovered that Jake was just outside of the room, while Owen Harper was inside, looking her over.

"Hi, Owen," he greeted the man who'd saved Rose's life. "I didn't know you were still in the building."

"Yeah, well. What sort of doctor would I be to leave my patient after a surgery?" he replied. "Besides, Fletcher's alright, but she doesn't know him as well as she does me."

"What do you mean?" the Doctor asked.

"She woke up," Owen told him. "Tried to pull the IV out and get away, but I got her calmed down. Anyway, she's alright now. We're just waitin' on her to wake up on her own."

The Doctor damned near kissed the doctor with the too-round head and horrible bedside manner. He knew he wanted him in that operating room. After a bit of back and forth with the man, who he actually liked a little, because of his candor, Owen left and he was alone with Rose again.

He stroked her face. "Oh, Rose. I'm sorry."

XxXxXxXx

Rose Tyler was fighting through a thick sludge, trying to get out, but the more she struggled, the more she sunk. She finally touched bottom and stopped sinking, but her vision was turning black.

XxXx

Suddenly, the world was bright and white. A beeping sound was heard and Rose was ready to smash the alarm clock. Except it wasn't an alarm. She hurt everywhere.

"She's waking up," a female voice called.

In a panic, Rose tried to pull out a wire. "No, no, no, no! Get off me!" she screamed, but couldn't make much noise. "Get away! I'm warning you!" Suddenly, the face of Owen Harper showed up right in front of her.

"Rose, Rose, calm down or you're going to die!" he shouted at her.

"Wha-? What the hell, Owen?" she asked. Oh, she hurt.

"You were shot. We're trying to fix you up, but to do that, you've got to stay calm, Tyler."

"I hurt," she complained.

"Suck it up Tyler. Won't be long and you'll be out again," he snapped. Owen's usual attitude calmed her.

"Anyone ever tell you you're bedside manner's horrible?" she joked.

"Yeah, at least twice a day. I'm the best at fixin' you up though, so-" She didn't hear the rest, because she was out again.

XxXx

She heard the Doctor's voice speaking softly. "Hey, you, Miss Jeopardy Friendly. You keep fighting, 'cause I need you, and we need to finish our big date. I love you, and I always will, so you'd better come back to me like always."

"I'm trying, but I don't know where I am," she called out, but he disappeared. She was left alone in the white room, or she thought it was a white room. She was almost blind with how white everything was.

XxXx

Rose and the Doctor sat in a field of red grass. Two suns hung over them, and she could see a domed city off in the distance above the silver leaved trees.

The Doctor was telling her about places they were going to go and things they were going to do. It sounded wonderful.

"...and we won't have to hide who we are from them, they're a very open minded and welcoming culture, Rose." He disappeared slowly.

"No, Doctor, don't go!" she shouted.

XxXx

She was pounding at the TARDIS doors. "Let me in!" she yelled. "I can't stay here!"

"Stop being selfish. Your family is here. You have to stay. I need someone to take care of him," the Doctor said from inside.

"I can't!" she screamed. "Please. They'll kill me!" The TARDIS faded out of the universe, leaving her behind.

The Doctor walked up behind her. "I've got you, Love," he whispered in her ear. "I'm right here. I'm not going anywhere."

"Only 'cause you can't."

XxXx

Rose was in back streets, running from a mob of people who wanted to burn her for being a witch. Her heart pounded and she couldn't catch her breath. She needed somewhere to hide, now.

She rounded a corner and was pulled through a door. She tried to fight off her attacker, but he held her too tight. Her kicking wound up slamming the door she'd been pulled through and a moment later, the crowd passed by, shouting, "Witch!"

She became aware of the man behind her shushing her. "It's okay, Rose, I've got you," he said in a Northern burr. Her eyes widened, and she stopped struggling. As soon as she did so, he released her and she spun around to face him. He was incongruous in the seventeenth century surroundings with his leather jacket, close cropped hair, and boots.

"Doctor?" Rose asked. He didn't look like that anymore, she was sure of it.

"You've got to get out of here, Rose," he said.

"How?" Rose questioned. "They want me dead!"

"Well, you did turn one of them into dust," he told her, rolling his eyes. "Tends to make some people angry."

"Only after she accused me of bein' a witch!" Rose defended herself. Suddenly, she remembered. "Hold on. How comes you know about turnin' things to dust?"

"Because 'm not real, Rose Tyler," he answered.

"Not, real? No! Of course your real," she denied.

"Think about it, Rose." He rapped on her forehead twice with his knuckles. "Use that brain of yours. For a human, it's pretty good. Now, what's the last thing you remember before we were here?"

"We were on a beach and there were two of you. Were you crossing your own timeline?"

"Wrong, Rose. Try again." He crossed his arms and looked at her sternly.

"I don't know!" Rose shouted.

"Yes, you do," he snapped back.

"I-I don't. Where are we?" Rose started hyperventilating and the Doctor grabbed her by her shoulders.

"Rose, you can do this. You're here and you have to pull yourself out." His voice was gentle. That version of the Doctor rarely had a properly gentle voice. "That's it, Rose. I'm not real, none of this is real. This daft face is gone now. Where are you, Rose?" he prodded.

"I'm, I- I was shot, I was shot and being fixed up," she spoke automatically. As soon as she did, she became more aware of the incongruities in her reality. The Doctor was in the wrong body. She'd turned a villager into dust, though she no longer could. She'd resorted to causing death for no real reason.

"There you go, Rose," the Doctor encouraged.

"None of this is real. It's just my imagination," she continued. "We're trapped in my own mind, aren't we?"

"Give the girl a medal!" the Doctor exclaimed. He hugged her, but when he pulled back, he was all sort of brown again and wearing blue. "Ah, well that's one way of doing it, I suppose. You're really rather good at conjuring up versions of me, aren't you?"

"How do I get out of here?" she questioned him.

"Ah, well, that's the question, isn't it?" The seventeenth century room they were in changed, and Rose could see herself lying on a hospital bed with an IV and a nasal canola in. The Doctor, the same one she was standing next to, was sitting there next to her wearing hospital scrubs. He had a tablet in hand and she could see what was obviously her medical records.

He looked so worn down. She'd never seen her Doctor look properly worn out before. There were dark circles under his reddened eyes. Had he been crying? Herself in the bed looked so pale.

"This is the real world," the Doctor beside her said. "Well, I say the real world, more like what's happening in the real world, 'cause we're still in your head. You're in a coma."

"That explains a lot," Rose said. "Do all people who go into a coma have this kind of experience?" she asked.

"How should I know?" the Doctor replied. "I'm a figment of your imagination. The point here is that's what's real. Real me only left your side once since you came out of surgery, and that was just to get your records."

"He's learning everything," Rose realized. "I'm sorry I didn't tell you sooner. Oh, how are you going to take it?" Her heart rate went up in her chest, and she noticed that the monitors were beeping in time. The real Doctor looked up from his tablet with wide eyes, put it down, and went to her.

"Rose?" he asked.

"That's how you get out of here," the imaginary Doctor in the blue suit said before he disappeared in a blink.

Rose closed her eyes, blocking out the very weird vision of the real world.

Then she opened them and looked up into the worried face of her Doctor.

Chapter Text

The Doctor was still standing next to Rose when Owen returned with a tablet and a memory stick.

"The Boss said to give this to you and explain," he told the Doctor. "The memory stick is her complete records. There are three of these. One is kept with Pete Tyler, one is held by Rose, and there's this one. We keep this information out of the general files that everyone has access to," he explained.

"Who has access to this?" the Doctor wondered as he took the memory stick and tablet from the good doctor.

"Pete, Rose, Dr. Fletcher, Jake, me, and now you. Most of the nurses and other doctors either know about it, or have some idea of Rose's ability, but no access," Owen replied.

"So the pool of suspects is fairly small," the Doctor mused.

"Suspects? What the hell do you mean by suspects?" he questioned sharply.

The Doctor stroked Rose's arm as he answered Dr. Harper. "Someone who knew about Rose's healing and telepathic abilities had a hand in this."

Owen swore rather colorfully. It would have been amusing if things weren't so serious. "I'll keep an eye out and see if anyone's overly interested in her or the others," he promised before leaving.

The Doctor sat down and stuck the small, black device with metal prongs into the side of the tablet before powering it up. The records weren't coming fast enough for him and he was beyond impatient, so he pulled out his sonic and sped it up. After a few seconds, he slowed the tablet's speed down by a bit more than half, mumbling to himself about his new humanish body's sluggishness when he was tired.

When he got the information to come at the right speed, he started going through it as fast as he could, processing the various implications, and getting a little angrier with each account he came across. She'd been stabbed through with a sword and shot a few times. She'd had broken bones and internal bleeding on top of the coma when she'd been run over.

There had been a couple of tests run, including a DNA test, which showed how stupid these apes were. They couldn't make anything out properly. Her genetics looked human at first glance. But there were other things going on, and they hadn't run the right tests.

He'd put that damned button over her neck and sent her away so she'd be safe, not-this. It looked like she'd had more major trauma stuck on this version of Earth than she'd ever had in the TARDIS.

The Doctor was angry. Angry at himself for sending her away. Maybe, if he hadn't she'd have been able to hold on to the lever. Angry at Pete for letting her get into these situations. Angry at the bleeding flipping universes for making it so she was lost in the first place. Angry at his twat of an other self for dumping them there without talking to her.

He was absolutely livid with the bastards that had taken her earlier that night. He knew he wouldn't be allowed anywhere near the interrogations right then, even if he would have left Rose's side. He'd bide his time and wait for the right moment to question them himself.

And though it felt sacrilegious, he was angry with Rose herself. She threw herself into a lot of those situations. She'd been no better than him during their time apart.

He should have realized when he found out about the telepathy that something else was different. If the changes had happened when Rose thought they did, how the hell did no one notice it in the year after?

Why the hell hadn't she told him anything? It'd taken her a bit to come clean about the telepathy, which was minor compared to-to this!

This was something they'd needed to know BEFORE coming back here. Had she said something, he would not have left her. Everything in her file was pointing to one conclusion to someone who knew what they were looking at: Rose Tyler was no longer fully human, and she just might outlive all of them- by a long time.

The monitor's beeping sped up. He looked up from the tablet, alarmed for a moment, until he saw her hand twitching. He put down the device and went to her.

"Rose?" he asked, hopefully, taking her hand. The sooner she came out of the coma, the better.

Twenty-nine seconds later, her eyes started to flutter. They popped open and looked directly into his and she tried to say something immediately, but realized she couldn't say it. Rose's eyes widened as she struggled to breathe normally.

"Calm down, Love. It's okay. Let the machine handle it for a moment," he told her, trying to calm her down. She shook her head and reached up. He realized what she was doing just in time to grab her hand and keep her from pulling on the tube.

"Hey, let's just make sure you're ready and won't have complications," he told her. After all she'd been through, he wasn't taking any chances.

She put her hand back down and stared at him. She appeared to be concentrating for a second, then balled her fist up and hit the bed next to her in frustration. "I'll get someone to help me get it out," he told her and went to the door. Before he got to the door and opened it, he heard a retching noise and turned back.

The second he had turned away, Rose had pulled the tube out of her own throat anyway.

She coughed a bit and said, "Better," in a low whisper. Her hand fell back to her side weakly and the tube fell to the floor. She was breathing heavily and wheezing a little. "Doctor," she croaked out.

XxXxXxXx

The first thing Rose noticed when she woke up was that she hurt everywhere. The pain woke her up fully and she tried to hold back the wordless cry that tried to escape.

Of course, there wasn't going to be a noise. She had one of those tubes down her throat again and she couldn't breathe properly. Both the Doctor and the machine were insisting that she let the machine do it for her, but it was wrong, it was so wrong. She needed to talk to the Doctor and explain. She knew from experience -both in this universe and a handful of others- that if she was awake, she didn't need to be intubated any longer. Wanting to be rid of the thing, she reached up to pull the tube out of her throat.

But the Doctor grabbed her hand and kept her from doing it. "Hey, let's just make sure you're ready and won't have complications," he said softly. She could tell he was extremely worried.

"Doctor, you read my files. Do you really think there'll be any complications?" she sent to him, but he didn't answer her. She thought for a moment that he was ignoring anything to do with the subject she knew neither of them wanted to talk about, but quickly dismissed that. He didn't have a reaction at all.

After trying again, she realized that what her telepathic abilities must have been suppressed from the drugs given to her during surgery. She'd never tried to use her ability when she first woke up before.

There had to be some way of saying something. The Doctor had to know Morse code, she was trying to remember how to do it when she remembered that the code differed in this universe from their universe, and he probably didn't know that yet. She didn't know how much of a difference there was, she just knew that the letters S and O were different.

In her frustration, she slammed her hand down on the bed and would have growled if the damned tube in her throat would have let her. He finally seemed to realize that she really wanted it out, because he told her he was going to get someone to help him.

As soon as the machine had her lungs as full as they would, she pulled the tube out, gagging as she did so. Oh, that was so much better. She could breathe again. Between coughs, that was. Each cough felt like a stab to her chest, but only because it jostled her wound. The important part was she was in control of her body again.

"Better." She laid back down straight and looked at the Doctor, who was staring at her in shock. "Doctor," she greeted, wincing at how her voice sounded. She needed a drink. Those ventilators made a person cotton mouthed.

"Stop trying to talk yet," he told her, coming back quickly. "You shouldn't have done that. You could have hurt yourself more," he argued, worried.

"Can I have a drink?" He immediately reached for the cup by the bed, poured a little bit of water into it, and helped her drink it.

"What were you thinking?" he asked when she was finished.

"I needed it out of my throat. 'M 'kay," she tried to reassure him.

"Okay?!" he exclaimed. "You are not okay, you're anything but okay. Rose you were tortured, you were shot, and-" He put the glass down and tried to compose himself. One of the many things she noticed about this new him was that it wasn't nearly as easy to calm down as it used to be. Or appear calm, at any rate.

"I know. I was there," she simply said. At that moment, she was too worried and frustrated to feel the anger that such a thing usually instilled.

"Rose-" he started.

A nurse came in the room, nearly running, to check on Rose. When she saw that she was awake, she relaxed. "Let me guess, she woke up and took it out herself?" she asked the Doctor as she walked over to check Rose's vitals.

"I take it she's done this before?" he asked dryly. The nurse nodded at him.

He knew she hated being talked about right over her as if she weren't there. "Righ' 'ere," Rose spoke up, irritated.

"On a scale of one to ten, how are you feeling, Rose?" the nurse asked.

"Bad," Rose replied, because, seriously, was she supposed to feel anything else? "What was your name?" she asked the nurse. She knew her, but could never remember her name.

"Nancy, and I need something to put in my chart, Miss Tyler," Nancy the nurse informed her.

"Is ten, 'Woohoo,' or, 'I'm dying'?" Rose asked, unable to remember which way the scale went. She heard the Doctor take a sharp breath that sounded like a gasp.

"Ten is the worst pain you've ever felt," the nurse told her.

"Nine," Rose answered.

Nancy nodded, started fussing with a medicine dispersing machine on the IV stand, and attached a tube from it to Rose's IV.

"What's in the machine?" the Doctor asked. Was he suspicious of the nurse?

"Dr. Harper just prescribed Trinolphine," the nurse answered. Before the Doctor could ask her what that was, Rose caught his attention by grabbing his hand. She shook her head and gave him a warning look. Luckily, he took the warning and kept quiet until the nurse finished what she was doing and left.

"Trinolphine is a pain medicine," Rose informed him as soon as the nurse. "'S common and 'as, like, a million diff'rent strengths. That's the strongest." She decided to bring up the white elephant in the room. "One of the few that'll work for me. It makes me sleepy, but thankfully, I won't need it for long. I'll be fine soon."

"Yeah," the Doctor said. The word came out as barely a breath. Rose knew that look and it broke her heart.

"I know you read my records. The real ones," she told him. "I shoulda' told you all about everything, but-" she stopped herself. No excuses. Pete and Melissa were both right, she should have told him, no matter how scared she was. All she could do was apologize and move on from there.

"I'm sorry, Doctor, I'm so sorry."

Chapter Text

Melissa Saroyan leaned her head against the back of the lift, sighed, and closed her eyes for a moment. It was in the middle of the night and she was exhausted, but still had a long way to go before she could sleep.

She didn't want to do this, she really didn't. She'd have much rather gone home and hugged her kids and husband. Sitting in on an interrogation was draining, but they needed to know why they had targeted Rose and who they were working for. She would have normally not been involved in this sort of investigation. Her duties included finding and training telepathic individuals, negotiation, and contact. Of the only other two telepaths with the clearance for this particular case, one was still in a coma, and the other one was too volatile at the moment to be allowed on so much as the same floor as the people who had put Rose in the coma.

The doors of the lift opened and she stepped out into the nondescript hall on the third floor. She looked at the signs that showed the way to the Identity Center and Alien Immigration and Processing. What the signs didn't show was the fact that the floor had several holding cells and an interrogation room for said aliens.

Melissa walked to a door without a handle and placed her palm to a screen next to it. It turned green and the door slid back into the wall. As soon as she was through, it closed behind her. She hated coming into this space. Being at the center of the tower, there were no windows. The harsh, white, fluorescent light shone from the ceiling, giving the spaces inside an antiseptic feel.

There were four doors in this hallway. Two led to the six cells the level held and the other two led to interrogation. One door led to where the people being questioned were, and the last led to a separate, but connected room, where the sessions were watched and taped. The security guard sat off to the side of the door, leaned back in his chair and watching the monitors intently. Glaring at them was more like it.

"'Ello, Mrs. Saroyan. I'd ask ya what you were doin' in this part of the buildin' at the ass crack o' night, but it's obvious, ain't it?" he asked in a thick, Welsh accent.

"Yes, it is, Tim," she replied tiredly as she went through the checking in process. Having known that she was going to have to relinquish everything she had beyond her I.D., she had left it all behind, so the process was fairly smooth.

"Melissa," Tim called softly as she was walking away from him. "The man they brought in was goin' on about Miss Tyler, sayin' she weren't human."

"Rose was born on Earth, to human parents," she assured the man. "And even if she wasn't, you know Rose, she's not a threat to us."

"Good to know, ma'am," Tim replied, looking better. He didn't have to know that Rose was from a different Earth, and wasn't quite human anymore. Melissa Saroyan nodded at the security guard, turned around, and walked to the door leading to the observation room.

She saw Michael Shapiro, who was one of the handful of agents that were assigned to find Rose when she was kidnapped. He was one of the few people outside of the dimensional projects and medical who knew about Rose's abilities, having been there when she was stabbed. He was sitting in a chair, leaning it back on its back two legs and watching the woman sitting in the interrogation room by herself. His mousy brown hair, as always, lay flat on his head. The hair was so dead, there was a bet around that it was a toupee, despite Michael only being in his late thirties.

"I'm gettin' too old for this shit, Melissa," he complained as soon as she was through the door.

"Too old for what? You're still young-ish," she asked. Really, they were about the same age. She was only a year younger than him.

"These all nighters. Can't do em like I used to," he replied before he got up. He walked two steps to a table and picked up a folder. "Celine Thompson. Thirty-nine years old. Fell under the radar a few years ago."

"Have you gotten anything out of her yet?" Melissa wondered. "Mainly why?"

"No. I haven't talked to her yet. Been trying to find information on her and waiting on you, 'cause Pete said you were coming. Have you seen the video yet?"

"Yeah," Melissa answered, shuddering. "Wish I hadn't." Watching it had been horrible.

"Yeah, me either, and I don't even know her all that well," he agreed.

"Well, as Tim put it just a few minutes ago, it's the ass crack of night. Better get this over with," she said and walked to the door.

"Someone's on the ball," Michael commented, following her.

"Someone wants to get at least a couple hours of sleep tonight," she retorted.

They went down to the next door and entered the small room where the woman who oversaw Rose's torture sat, waiting for them. She had a black eye and a massive bruise on the side of her head. Melissa closed the door and sat down in the empty chair next to Michael as he began the interrogation.

"Miss Thompson, That's one helluva shiner you've got there," Michael spoke as soon as Melissa was seated. He flipped open the slim file theatrically and asked, "Where have you been these last few years?"

"Around," she answered shortly.

"Doing what?" he continued.

"Your fuckin' job," she shot back at him.

"There is no way in hell you're doing my job," Michael told her. "My job doesn't consist of kidnapping women and torturing them. Nor does it include murder."

"This is Torchwood, right?" Celine asked. "You lot are supposed to be fighting against the aliens, not employing them, working with them, and giving them homes. That's what I was doing."

"And, how, exactly is kidnapping one of our agents and killing one of our scientists supposed to help with that?" Melissa snapped at her.

"That bitch isn't human. I don't care what she says. And if she ever was, she's not now." She pulled on her restraints a little bit, just two tugs before she stopped and said, "She isn't dead. You just said kidnapping and torture, not murdering her. The boys were supposed to kill 'er if she got free."

"That would be Kevin Trent and Harold Smith," Michael commented, looking for all the world as if he were calm when he wasn't. "How do you figure she's not human?"

"She's telepathic-"

"That doesn't mean she's alien," Melissa snapped. "So are a lot of people. It's estimated that one out of every three hundred and fifty people are telepathic in a measurable way." She was very defensive about that ability. After her attack fourteen years before, she'd nearly lost her mind when the ability completely developed overnight. Her sister hadn't made it any easier for her. It'd taken her going off planet to Jalikapo and studying with Rixalarians before she was able to properly function in society and a few more years to get her sister to talk to her properly again.

"Telepathic humans don't heal from a stab through their abdomen in a few days," she shot back.

"Right, and what about Alec Sullivan? Was he an alien too? Why did we find you set up in his flat with him dead in his room?" Michael interjected before she could say anything else. She was supposed to be sitting in on the interrogation, not arguing.

"Collateral damage. He had what we needed and sympathized with the invaders," she explained succinctly.

Melissa was tired, angry, and hungry. She wanted to go home and had no patience for this hateful woman at the moment, though she was usually accused of having infinite patience. She was there for one reason: to find out who else was part of it.

She leaned forward and looked into the eyes of the woman who'd hurt her best friend and asked one simple question.

"Who was the tape going to, Celine?" The woman didn't answer her, but Melissa was able to pluck the information from her mind all the same.

She immediately ran from the room.

XxXxXxXx

To the Doctor's surprise, Rose immediately addressed their problem.

"I know you read my records. The real ones," she told him. "I shoulda' told you all about everything, but-" She paused, as if the words hurt her. "I'm so sorry," Rose apologized. "I know this isn't what you expected." She tried to sit up a bit and cried out at the pain.

"Rose!" the Doctor tried to stop her. "You just-" What did she think she was doing?!

"Yeah, I know, I know," Rose retorted painfully. "How long has it been since...you found me?" she wondered.

"Seven hours, twenty-three minutes ago," the Doctor answered. "You came out of surgery about five hours and forty-eight minutes ago."

"Yeah, 's gonna be a bit before 'm up and moving 'round," she conceded and leaned back against the pillow with a hiss. "What's the damage?" she asked, focused on the ceiling and breathing heavily through the pain.

Seeing her in pain was bad enough on a good day, but seeing her hurting this much after everything he knew she went through was unbearable. He leaned forward and looked down at his trainer clad feet, which was the one part of his clothing that somehow hadn't been bloodied. He couldn't look at her as he said what had happened. He'd only be able to get through it if he could remain at least somewhat clinical.

"There was bullet wound in your chest that left a hole in your ascending aorta-the big artery coming from your heart. I plugged it, and..." he trailed off, trying not to remember, but unable to do anything but. He decided to skip to the next injury. "There was a second bullet wound to your arm that missed all major blood vessels. You also had three cracked ribs and bruising from...where they-"

He had to stop there. No amount of not looking at her and pretending that there was someone else lying in that bed that he didn't know could keep him detached from the situation. He felt nauseous again, like he had that one morning and wondered if he was going to lose it again. Oh, he hoped not.

"Doctor," Rose's voice spoke softly. When he didn't answer immediately, she said his chosen name louder and he looked up at her. "Hey, 's okay. 'M gonna be fine." Suddenly, she narrowed her eyes. "I am gonna be fine, righ'?"

"Of course you are," he assured her and she relaxed immediately. "You almost weren't, though. Rose, with those wounds, a normal human would've died tonight. If you weren't-" She was supposed to have been safe, not fighting for her life and tortured because she was a bit different.

As usual, Rose saw right through him and stopped him before he could go on. "'S not your fault, Doctor. You didn't know. 'S mine. I was the target for a reason. But 'nough 'bout that. What's done is done." She yawned, and he remembered what she said about Trinolphine making her sleepy. The pain medicine must have started working.

"You should get some sleep," he told her.

"Can't sleep yet. Ya got questions," she denied with a shake of her head. "You need to know. I-"

"Of course I do, but not right now. That can wait until you've had some rest." What he was saying went against everything in him, but he couldn't have this conversation with her in a hospital bed.

"No, no. You need to know somethin'. You'll go crazy. I need to-" she replied, almost frantic. "I dunno know where to start or 'ow to start. Ask somethin'."

"Okay, one question," he told her. "Just one, then you'll get some sleep?" Really, he had hundreds of questions, most of which he suspected Rose didn't know how to answer.

"Yeah."

"You're telepathic and you heal fast. Is there anything else I need to know about you?" he asked.

"Not that I know of, physic'ly. But, but I've killed, Doctor. 'M not who you used to know anymore." She looked scared and he wasn't used to her looking scared.

"I already knew that much," he told her. That much was obvious from her mannerisms and nightmares, even if Pete hadn't explicitly told him she'd killed one of her kidnappers. "It's okay, I'm sure you had no other choice in the matter."

"Maybe," she said, barely able to keep her eyes open at that point. "You're tired too. Should sleep."

"I don't think I can sleep right now," he told her. That was mostly the truth. Physically, he could easily fall asleep, but mentally, he wouldn't be able to. Practically, unless one of the other handful of people he trusted with Rose came to watch over her, there was no way in hell he was gonna leave her unprotected.

"Don' forget to take care of yourself," Rose ordered.

"I will. Sleep now. You'll feel better when you wake."

"Doctor. We've got the bastards, yeah?" she asked with her eyes closed.

"Yeah. Yeah we did," he lied as she fell asleep.

XxXxXxXx

Rose opened her eyes and groaned at the light right above her bed. Damn, that thing was bright. She went to roll out of bed and immediately felt the pain of her wound, which woke her up the rest of the way.

"Fuck!" she exclaimed, hissing at the feeling.

"Language," a familiar voice admonished. She turned her head and saw the face of her mother.

Fuck.

"'Course, I don' blame ya one bit. Was lucky that wound missed everything." Her mother babbled on, giving her all the information she needed to know about what Pete, Jake, and the Doctor had told her. "Gave us all a big scare, you did, but the Doctor and the, you know, doctors tell me you'll be alrigh' an' up 'n' about in a few days, but you ain't goin' into the field for a bit."

That was why she was cussing in her head. Her mother knew about this, and, of course, she had to pretend to heal slower. She would be out of the field for weeks now.

"Mind you, I'd rather you not go into the field at all, especially after this-"

"I wasn' in the field," Rose interrupted her mother finally. "Where's the Doctor?"

"Oh, I know that Sweet'eart. You were out on a date." He mother looked entirely too smug about that. "So, how was-"

"Don't!" Rose ordered harshly. "Jus'...don't. God, can't you let up while I'm in 'ospital?"

"Just tryin' to make conversation. Get your mind off other things."

"You can make conversation without that," she complained.

"You're so tetchy," her mother complained.

"Mum, I've 'ad a very, very bad night. Last thing I wanna do is talk abou' my sex life with you. In fac', I could have an amazin' day, and still, the last thing I'd wanna do is talk to you abou' whether or no 'm shaggin' the Doctor. So give it a rest, yeah?"

"I think I'll come back later," the Doctor's voice came from the doorway. She looked over at him and almost bust out laughing. His eyes were darting back and forth between Rose and her mother.

"Hi." Rose turned her palm up and held it out to him as much as she could with the wound in her arm.

"Hello. Feeling better?" the Doctor wondered as he came over and took the hand held out.

"Yeah. Come to free me?" she asked.

"How about we let the doctors tell you when you can get out," her mother ordered. She glanced over at the Doctor and said, "The impatience of youth, right?"

Rose barked out a laugh that she instantly regretted for the pain it caused, which she tried not to show. It'd only have her mother fussing over her more. The sentiment was funny, though, because the Doctor was the most impatient and oldest person she knew.

"Actually, Jackie, she should be able to go home fairly soon. Sometime today, at least, so long as everything looks good," the Doctor explained.

"Really? So soon?" Jackie questioned. "But after-"

"If she's stable and everything looks good, there's not anything they can do for her here that I can't do for her at the house where she's more comfortable." He looked down at Rose. "What do you say, ready to get out of this place?"

"Yeah. I bloody hate hospitals," she answered.

"Agreed. Horrible places."

"Hold on, you're 'the Doctor' and you hate hospitals?" her mother asked, looking at the Doctor as if he'd grown a second head.

"Doesn't mean I'm in hospital all the time, does it?" the Doctor defended himself. "Doctor means something completely different where I come from."

XxXx

It took nearly eight hours before Rose was allowed to leave Torchwood Tower. She'd had to walk a little bit and answer some questions about her ordeal first before she could go. The drive back to the house was quiet. When they pulled up to the converted house, the Doctor hopped out quickly so he could help Rose get out before she tried it on her own.

"I've never been so glad to have a wheelchair ramp leading up to the front porch before," she commented as they went up the gentle incline. Trying to go up stairs would have been even more painful than walking.

When they got in the house, the Doctor helped her to the couch. "Do you need anything?" he asked. "Tea? A blanket? I'll go get you a blanket." He went to go to the bedroom and grab one, but Rose stopped him before he could get far.

"Doctor, stop. I don't need a blanket. I'll take a cuppa, though."

"Right! One of the great things about the warming from the breaches is you don't need to be so bundled up. That's something, at least. Granted, you lose the cuddling aspect, and there's that pesky electric bill from the air conditioner, and, you know, the odd weather patterns and animal d- Tea! Getting tea right now." The Doctor went into the kitchen and she could hear him in there, running water in the pot.

"Tea's on. You alright out there for a few minutes?" he asked.

"Yeah," Rose replied.

She heard a door close and, for the first time since she'd been shot, she was properly alone for a minute. Rose was trying not to think about everything that had happened, but she couldn't help it. She'd been through some awful things, but that didn't make it any easier to deal with.

Everything had changed, and she didn't know how yet. Someone else who shouldn't know anything about her abilities knew way too much. She wondered when the metaphorical pitchforks would come. How long would it be before everyone knew? How long would it be before she'd have to implement one of her escape plans?

The Doctor also knew about her healing and she was worried about how calm he seemed about it. He hadn't spoken about it at all since she woke up from her Trinolphine induced sleep. She hoped he wasn't running from it as usual.

XxXxXxXx

While the water was left to heat, the Doctor took a moment to check on the TARDIS coral. Things were still delicate and it was a bit overdue for tending, but not too overdue, just a couple hours. He sprayed the mineral solution on the branch his old ship had given him, which sat in a bed of sand in a glass tank. He then turned to the instruments he'd cobbled together and took readings. After what he saw and learned the night before, he knew that they needed the new TARDIS more than ever.

Satisfied with what he saw, he patted the coral, feeling the light warmth in his mind for a moment before the steam made the kettle whistle.

"Later, beautiful," he told the coral in a low voice before he left the room, went across the house, and fixed up the tea just the way Rose liked it.

As he walked into the living room, carrying two cups of steaming liquid, he noticed that Rose was just sitting there, eyes unfocused, looking at nothing. That was not good, not good at all. She looked like she'd gone catatonic. Cursing in his mind, he quickly sat down the cups on the coffee table and sat down next to her.

"Rose?" he asked, hoping she wasn't as she appeared.

To his relief, she smiled at the cup of tea. "Brilliant, ta," she said, trying to hide what was going on. They sat there in silence for a full minute, almost exactly before Rose spoke.

"I think I'm going to live a long time," she stated almost like she was in shock and had just realized it.

"I know," the Doctor replied. "Information from your records all but proves it."

Rose nodded, still not looking at him. "I'm sorry," she repeated at a near whisper.

"How long have you known?" he asked.

"Since the sword incident," Rose answered.

"What happened?" he wondered. "I only know about your injuries."

"It was about four months after I got here and I was barely trained in telepathy. Just the basics. You know, basic blocking, basic contact. Some Vilanatocca had crashed in Richmond Park." As she spoke, she became more animated and he was glad that the conversation had gotten started.

"And they only speak telepathically," the Doctor realized, causing Rose to nod.

"Now normally, Melissa woulda taken care of it at the time, but she'd just found out she was pregnant with 'er son. I was the only one who could talk to 'em and 'ad done that sort of thing before," she explained.

"But Vilanatocca are peaceful," he argued.

"That's what I thought, but I was working with information from fifteen 'undred years later in another universe. They were jus' tryin' to escape a war on their planet. They were scared, and I messed up the translation." She looked ashamed.

"No," he whispered, knowing what would have come next. She'd been hurt, and because she wasn't the only person from Torchwood there, the people who hurt her would have likely died.

"Yes. That was the sword incident," Rose told him. "A week after that, I was led to a beach in Norway."

The Doctor's jaw dropped open in shock. "You knew back then?" he asked after a moment.

"I had so many questions. Convinced myself that you'd know something, but got there, and, well."

"Why didn't you say something?"

"What good would it've done?" Rose asked incredulously.

"You wouldn't be here now!" he exclaimed. "You wouldn't be sitting here hurt after having almost died last night. You wouldn't have to lie to your mother, and be lying to almost everyone about who you are. And you definitely wouldn't be in this universe where you're gonna outlive everyone, including me! Why didn't you say something before we were put in this forsaken universe, Rose?"

During his outburst, he'd stood up and started pacing. When he said her name, he turned around to face Rose and froze. He'd gone too far. Her face might as well have been a mask for all the emotion she was showing at the moment.

"Sorry I was so worried that all you'd see was that we'd age at closer rates," she said in a cold voice. "Excuse me for not having a chance to tell you so before both of you decided to drop me off in this forsaken universe and wiped out at the very least seven years of work in minutes while at the same time confusing the hell out of me."

"Rose, just so you know, I didn't mean it like-" he started as she stood up to argue with him more level. By the grimace on her face and the little whimper that escaped her, she must have pulled on her wounds a bit as she stood. "You really should stay sitting down."

"Don't wanna sit. What would you've done had I told you before, huh?" she asked once she was standing.

"I don't know, but it wouldn't have been this. You should have told me, or him something. Any little bit of what I've learned since last night and you would've never come back."

"I know what you woulda' done. You woulda' pushed me away, jus' like he did. We likely still don't have matchin' lifespans, Doctor, and I know how important that is to ya. I'm sorry."

She turned to walk away and even took two steps before she stopped and looked over her shoulder at his general direction. "Look, whatever happens, I don't hold you to any promises or anything from before you found out. If you want, I'll help you go back over there where you have people. Or wherever you want to go."

She then took off slowly, leaving the Doctor standing there in shock. Great going, you moron. Run off the one thing keeping you sane.

"No," he said softly and Rose stopped her progress toward the kitchen or maybe the bedroom. "No," he repeated stronger and with more anger. He walked up to her and around her, blocking off her route.

"Leave me alone, Doctor," she said tiredly. He could see where one tear had started making its way down her cheek. She made to go around him.

"I don't want you to help me leave. I don't want to leave," he protested and she stopped trying to get away. "I'm just trying to figure out why I had to find this out the way I did." He looked down at the bandage sticking out of her shirt and pleaded with her. "Come sit down. You've just had a major surgery and yes, you heal fast, but not that fast."

Rose allowed herself to be led right back to the couch and closed her eyes for a second before she answered him. "I would've thought that the why was obvious, Doctor." He shook his head and she sighed. "After what happened on the beach, I was afraid. Then it just got harder to tell you."

"Is that why Jackie doesn't know?" he asked and Rose shook her head.

"Mum doesn't know because she wouldn't understand. She'd freak out and I couldn't do that to 'er. She doesn't know I spent years moving from one world to another, or how much of my time was spent on the dimension cannon project before the jumps started." She looked at him sadly. "I meant what I said, you know. You can do whatever you want, go wherever I'll make sure you can get started if you need." her voice was nearly a whisper, and he realized she was trying not to let it break.

"Rose, Love, stop it," he said softly and her eyes widened at the term of endearment. He saw hope for a moment before she blinked and pushed it back. "I'm right where I want to be."

"Really?"

"Yes, really. Welllll, still not too fond of this universe, and we've got to get the whole xenophobic thing worked out, but-" The corner of Rose's mouth twitched up and he couldn't help but smile at her. "Overall, I'm good here. Here being right next to you, that is."

Rose leaned into him. It was a little bit awkward with her injuries, but they managed a cuddle. As soon as they were both relaxed, he tentatively tried to make contact with her telepathically, and, to his surprise, she let him right in. Seconds later, he fell into a long overdue sleep.

Chapter Text

Let's find out who the bad guy is!

In the last chapter, I mentioned the Vilanatocca. There was a question about it. They talk via images, but only images that mean something to them, so translating it would be difficult. Like that Star Trek episode where the Enterprise crew came across the people who only spoke in metaphors.

Also, someone's started a derivative of this story! That's such an honor :) It's called Finding Hope and was written by bendermom. The story starts right off at the end of ch 28 of this story, and I love what she's doing with it, which is absolutely nothing like where I've got this story going.

XxXxXxXxXxXxXx

Starting Over 29: Enemies in Surprising Places

Fifteen minutes before Rose woke from her coma:

"Who was the tape going to, Celine?" The woman didn't answer her, but Melissa was able to pluck the information from her mind all the same.

She immediately ran from the room. "I've got to see Pete. Now," she told Michael as she left.

"Where's the fire?" Tim asked as she came up to him.

"Information. Just buzz me!" she said quickly, slamming her hand on the pad. The guard had to visually confirm it was her while the pad took her hand print and body temperature. The dual system protected against shapeshifters getting in or out while also protecting against some forms of digital and electronic attack.

The door slid back into the wall and she left the bewildered security guard behind. Melissa was in the lift before she realized that all she had to do was pull out her cell and call Pete, which would have been faster. She was already in the lift, though, and the godforsaken piece of equipment wouldn't work properly in there.

During the time it took to move forty-two floors up the tower, she calmed down a little. Yes, the bastard that was ultimately responsible for what had happened to Rose had to be stopped as soon as possible; yes, the lowlife, potbellied slime ball could cause a lot of damage within a short time, but she really needed to keep a clear head and slow down enough to think straight. A few minutes likely wouldn't make a difference.

As soon as the lifts doors were open, she shot out into the hall and straight to Pete's office. The door to Chelsea's outer office was open, but the door to Pete's office was closed. She stopped at the door to compose herself before knocking. No matter the emergency, her upbringing wouldn't allow her to just barge into the office of the Director of Torchwood and chairman of the board of Vitex unannounced.

She was just about to knock on the door when the intercom on Chelsea's desk buzzed and her Boss's voice told her to come in.

"What'd you find out?" Pete asked as soon as she stepped into the room.

She blurted out what she'd learned, and Pete's face went white.

XxXxXxXx

Pete's knee-jerk reaction was to deny that it was possible. Maybe Melissa was wrong, or maybe Their prisoner was just convinced that was where the video was going to wind up, but was misled.

Then Chelsea pointed out some things. How he was always subtly trying to undermine him, using their friendship to get away with it. His well known hatred of Rose. He was always trying to push things they wanted held back a bit longer. He even had all the knowledge needed to do it.

"I hate to say it, Sir, but all the facts line up," she concluded. "The only thing we don't know is why."

"I know why," Melissa said, "Or what Celine thought anyway. Hatred. Fear. They're great motivators for some horrible acts." He saw the deep sadness in her and remembered that she'd been the target of some of the xenophobia herself.

At that moment, the phone on his desk rang. One of the nurses let him know that Rose had come out of the coma, but would be asleep for a while from the dose of Trinolphine she'd received. Everyone in the room was relieved to hear that.

Chelsea wanted him brought in immediately, but Pete thought he'd be on high alert that night. Rose and the Doctor both would be in Medical the whole night at least, and therefore safe.

Not wanting to wake him up, but not knowing who else to trust with the task at the moment, he sent Chelsea to wake Jake Simmonds. Jake would keep watch on the man and make sure he didn't get away. He could also be counted on to choose one person to help him watch, anyone at all. Jake was on the ground, he knew who could be trusted.

While she did that, Pete called his wife, who he knew was wide awake and either in the kitchen with tea, or on the couch in the living room with tea. Jackie wanted to come in and see her, but he assured her Rose would be sleeping anyway and that she was okay.

When his wife let him off the phone, he began to plan.

XxXxXxXx

A few hours later, Pete woke, straightened himself out a bit, and took the lift down to greet the bastard responsible for hurting his stepdaughter and parallel's self's actual daughter. He had to act like everything was okay and he wasn't planning anything. Unfortunately, he'd had to become very good at that when John Lumic was in power.

He could stop himself from throttling the man.

"Hey," he greeted grimly when he saw the man. "Something happened last night, and I need your expertise on the matter."

XxXxXxXx

The Doctor woke up on the couch with a thin blanket covering him. Sometime during their midday nap, Rose had gotten up and left him alone on the couch. Where was she?

He got up and walked toward the kitchen, thinking she may be having a cuppa. If she wasn't there, she had likely moved to the more comfortable bed where there wasn't a human/Time Lord octopus probably putting his hands on her wounds.

The Doctor barely got to the little library before he heard her voice. He followed it to her office, which had the door closed. She was talking to someone else, but not on a phone. He could hear them. Correction: him. Rose was talking to Pete. When did he get there. He opened the door and the voices stopped.

Rose spun around, hissing in pain as she did so. She had been sitting in her desk chair and talking to Pete through the webcam on her computer.

"How are you?" he asked her.

"Gettin' better," she answered. "We've got a problem."

"Of course we do. Hello, Pete," he greeted the older Tyler.

"Hello, Doctor," Pete automatically responded.

"Tell him what you told me," Rose said to her stepfather.

"Oh, joy," the Doctor muttered, knowing this wasn't going to be good.

"We've caught the person who we believe is the mastermind behind..." he trailed off and his eyes flicked to Rose quickly before he continued., "...last night."

"How's that a problem?" the Doctor wondered. That sounded like a great thing to him.

"Because it's Thomas," Pete explained tiredly and the Doctor grabbed the back of Rose's chair and squeezed it in an attempt to will himself to not kick something.

"Trout?" he spoke in a deadly calm voice. "Thomas Trout? The man who knows Rose, Jackie, and I aren't from this universe? The man who knows about Rose and I? The man who clearly wants more power than what he has, which is a helluva lot? The man who, just last night, you said wouldn't kidnap anyone? That Thomas?! Well, isn't that just Wizard? Can we say, 'Worst case scenario'?"

By the time he was halfway through his rant, he'd started pacing agitatedly. By the time he was finished, he was shouting. He stopped and stared at the man on the screen. "I want to talk to him. Where is he?" he demanded.

"Doctor-" Rose started, but he didn't want her to stop him or calm him down.

"Where. Is. He?" he repeated with his teeth clenched. He expected them both to protest. Pete would tell him to calm down and Rose would get him to whether he wanted to or not. He started trying to calm his own anger so that he would be more likely to get the information he wanted. One of the things about having a proper Time Lord's brain was that he could calm himself for the moment, but could recall the memory that had angered him so much in perfect detail later on and use that anger.

But, as usual, she surprised him.

"He'd be in one of the cells on Level Three," she responded after a second. He looked into her eyes and realized, properly realized for the first time that she really had changed. She was furious, though at his behavior or something else, he couldn't be sure. If he didn't know her and know she was badly hurt, he'd be afraid. They were the eyes of someone who had seen and done much more than they should have and far too old for the face in them, even though obvious exhaustion made her look a bit older than she usually did.

He realized that they were almost what he saw when he looked in the mirror most days.

"Level Three? Why would he be there? I could have sworn that was where IDs were made," he commented.

"It is," Pete admitted, "but it's also Alien Immigration and Processing. There's six holding cells hidden in the middle of the floor."

He felt terror well up inside him, and his righteous anger come back to him. "You have a secret prison in there for aliens?" he asked. "I knew it, I just knew it." He shook his head. "Bloody humans, you can't just-"

"It's not like that, Doctor," Rose admonished, getting up out of the chair in a motion he knew all to well. She was gearing herself up for a proper argument. "There's not even anyone who's non human in there right now. It's only for those who are violent."

"The cells are part of a deal with the Galactic Alliance," Pete explained, but the Doctor wasn't properly listening to the man.

"Why are you defending them, Rose? One of their top people ordered your kidnapping and torture and killed a good man!" he argued. Instantly, her eyes widened a little in shock. "You didn't tell her, did you?" the Doctor asked Pete.

"No, I hadn't gotten that far yet," he admitted, rubbing his forehead.

"Who? Who died?" Rose questioned.

"Alec Sullivan. It was his flat," he told her softer. It was never good to hear that someone died in connection with you, no matter how tenuous the connection was. He hated himself for her finding out that way.

Then he saw her reaction and hated himself even more. She put her hand to her mouth and turned away.

"It's all my fault," she nearly whispered. Her voice hitched as she said it.

"No, no, Rose," he started in an attempt to comfort her, but she shrugged him off with a wince and left.

"Doctor, there's something you should know," Pete said urgently before he could follow Rose. "While you were gone, Jackie kept setting her up with different men."

"Yes, I know that," he replied impatiently. "What's that got to do with anything?"

"One of the men Jacks set her up with was Alec Sullivan. He was just about to get out of school and she wound up recruiting him to work where here."

Which meant that he wouldn't have been working at Torchwood and wouldn't have been in the line of fire if she hadn't recruited him.

"Oh, I am such a cad!" he exclaimed and stormed out of the room after Rose. "Great big, bloody CAD!"

XxXxXxXx

Thomas Trout sat in the cell that Pete Tyler had shoved him into. He wasn't worried about being found out. He'd planned for the possibility.

He wouldn't be there to stop the text from going out that week, and the final plan would be set in motion.

He chuckled a little bit, then stopped himself from laughing. There were cameras that could see him after all.

Chapter Text

Pete watched the Doctor walk out of Rose's office, calling himself names. That man had a lot of anger, but he could understand it. He was mostly alien and suspicious of them. The things the Doctor had said were likely mostly out of fear for both himself and Rose.

Pete wished the conversation hadn't taken the turn it had and not only because Rose hadn't needed to know someone she'd recruited had been killed because he was there. He'd had something else he needed to tell them.

He sighed and broke the connection on the video chat, then picked up the tabloid Chelsea had brought in minutes before Rose contacted him and finished reading the article inside, trying to see if they actually had any real information.

He then slammed the papers back down when he reached for his coffee and saw the time on the wall clock. He had a meeting to get to and was cutting it close on time. He'd have just rescheduled, but he needed to maintain the illusion that nothing important had happened the night before.

But he couldn't help but wonder where part of the tabloid's headline had come from. Who had told them that Rose had been in a coma?

XxXxXxXx

The Doctor found Rose in the bedroom, sitting on the edge on the side she normally slept on. She was gasping for breath. He couldn't see her face, but if he could, he knew he'd see tears streaming down her cheeks. The sight cooled down his anger, but didn't stop the self loathing.

"Rose?" he asked, stepping into the room. She shook her head, but said nothing. "Rose, I'm sorry, I didn't realize, but Pete told me. I get it. I do. I've been here before, more times than I want to think about."

He came around the foot of the bed to Rose's side and noticed she was holding her ribs. There were tear tracks on her cheeks, but she had not been crying as much as he assumed. She was in pain and he remembered that she had three cracked ribs.

"How bad is it?" he asked sympathetically. Broken bones hurt, but ribs were the worst. Every breath taken was painful and the act of crying would have upset the bones even more.

"Go away, Doctor."

"That bad. Okay. How long does it normally take for broken bones to heal?" he asked her. Normally, it'd take a human five to six weeks to heal from broken ribs, but they could still be painful even months later.

"Four, five days for a break like this," Rose answered. "Bone takes longer." She still hadn't actually looked at him.

"That's not so bad. Just a few days. Where's the medicine Owen sent?" He went to stand up to go get it, knowing already that it wouldn't be in the bedroom.

"Don't need it," Rose replied, even though everything else about her suggested that she did.

"Rose, I think you do. Unless you took some while I was asleep?" She shook her head at that. "Then the bottle should still be in the living room, I'll get it."

"Doctor, stop. I don' wannna take anythin'."

"What? Why?" he asked in confusion.

"I jus' don't," she repeated shortly.

"Rose, Love, I get it, but it's not your fault, you don't have to punish yourself."

Finally, Rose turned her head to look at him. "Punish? Really? 'M not you, Doctor. I don't feel the need to punish myself."

"Then why won't you take the medicine made to help you not feel the pain, huh? What other reason would you have to voluntarily feel every bit of that?"

"It makes me sleep. I don't wanna sleep anymore. I've slept enough," she spoke angrily.

Of course. It made sense. He didn't like to sleep either, for very similar reasons. Rose had been having enough trouble sleeping peacefully in the weeks before, much less after what had happened the night before. He wanted to hug her, but was worried that he'd hurt her if he did so. He'd have to find a less painful way of comforting her. He also needed to get her to take her medication.

Trying to figure out a way to get her to take her pills was put on hold, though, as there was a booming knock on the door and Rose cursed.

"What now?" the Doctor complained and headed toward the door so he could see who was interrupting them.

"'s Mum. She called an' I told her not to, but you know 'ow she is," she explained.

"But what about-"

"Go answer the door, Doctor, before she comes in on her own," Rose told him. When he walked past the threshold, she added, "And don't say anythin' about how 'm doing."

When the Doctor opened the door, Jackie barged right in, carrying a couple canvas bags. "Grab that last one, will ya?" she called as she walked past him.

"It's nice to see you too, Jackie," the Doctor replied dryly as he picked up the brightly colored bag sitting on the front porch. Rose's mother hadn't heard him, thankfully. She made her way to the kitchen and made herself right at home. He peeked in the bag he held and found some meals in Tupperware type containers with the brand "Keeperwear" written on the lid.

"Jackie, you didn't have to do this," the Doctor said, trying not to grimace: not where the older Tyler woman could see anyway. Last thing he wanted was some of Jackie's famous home cooked food.

"Nonsense. It weren't no trouble," Jackie replied, waving him off. "I jus' made that cake you're so fond of and the other sweet stuff. Alice made the meats an' stuff. Some of it, like the salads, I picked up at the grocer's. Just some stuff that's easy to eat, nothing more than heatin'. I know 'ow Rose is. Bet there ain't a scrap of real food in the house."

"Ooh, that super moist chocolate cake you make?" the Doctor asked enthusiastically. There was one area that Jackie shined in the kitchen, and that was baked sweets. How she could make such a delicious cake, but destroy meat pies was beyond him.

"Yes, sweet'heart, I made that cake," she said as she pulled a cake taker out of one of the canvas bags. "How's Rose? I bet she's sleepin' righ' now. That pill they give 'er knocks 'er out."

"She was just in the bedroom when you knocked. I'm sure she'll be along in a minute," he said, avoiding the question of how Rose was doing.

"She shouldn't be up an' about. She needs to heal," Jackie groused.

"I agree, but you know how she is," the Doctor said.

"Headstrong, that one. You make sure she's got no reason to push 'erself, you hear?"

She opened the door to the fridge. "Yep, like I said. Really? All you've got in 'ere is some milk an' some sandwich fixin's?"

"Well, we just usually get takeout from-"

"Yeah, yeah, I know what you do. Nine hundred years old, don'cha know how ta cook? My Rose needs to keep healthy, and I 'eard ya an' the other one there on the beach. Ya ain't exactly immortal anymore, either, Mister."

"I was never immortal, Jackie. Long lived, yes, but not immortal, but thank you for the reminder," he told her politely, stopping himself from hurling insults since she had brought them cake, after all.

She stopped putting food in the fridge, closed the door, and walked over to him. "What about you? How're you doing, Sweetheart? I know this can't be easy."

"I'm alright," the Doctor replied, but didn't elaborate. "I'm just worried about Rose."

"Sure, you're alright. Pigs also fly an' the sky's pink with purple polka dots. You had a great, big upheaval what with bein' stuck 'ere and all. On top o' that, las' night was one 'elluva trauma, but you're alright." She opened the freezer and set a couple containers inside.

As she put things away, he lifted the lid on the cake taker and swiped a finger of the chocolate around the edge before he put the lid back in place as silently as possible.

"Actually, all things considered, I'm much better than I expected to be. It's all Rose's fault of course." He went to put his chocolaty finger in his mouth.

Without even turning around, Jackie exclaimed, "And don't swipe that cake again! I swear, You're just like Tony."

"Wow, you have amazing hearing," the Doctor complimented and put his chocolate coated finger in his mouth unapologetically.

"When you become a parent, you'll understand these things." He shifted, wondering when Rose would show up. He didn't dare tell Jackie Tyler that he was a parent once, and a grandparent too.

"Oh, Mum, you aren't starting in again, are ya?" Rose called from the door.

"There you are! I was about to go searching-" the Doctor started, but couldn't finish once his eyes went to her. Rose looked like she was feeling really bad and for a moment, the Doctor bought it. He rushed forward and was about to ask her what happened when he remembered that Jackie didn't know about the faster healing and Rose would look much worse if she were still a standard human. Rose was acting for her mother's benefit, and his rushing forward to help her added to the image she was trying to cultivate.

"Rose, Honey, you should sit down instead of standin' there like a loon," Jackie said, coming over as well.

The Doctor let Jackie fuss over her daughter for a few minutes. While she did that, he pulled the last few items out of the bags. At the bottom of one was a few tabloids. "Of course you like the tabloids," he chuckled to himself and picked up the first one to idly thumb through it.

Donna had liked them too, even going so far as to look at ones in the distant future or on other planets. He had to admit, it was a good way of getting names and information to try to blend into an area. Of course, having been mentioned in one of the rags himself, the Doctor knew what drivel they could be.

The first magazine was the standard affair. He was pretty sure the "hot couple" on the front cover included a male Topiodantel from the color of his eyes and the way his facial features were shaped. Interesting, he was six hundred and eighty-three light years away from home. It was funny. Tabloids of the time were known for their so called alien stories, but they often featured real aliens that everyone thought were human.

He picked up the second, expecting more of the same, but got a shock when he saw the cover of the third. "What?!" he exclaimed. Both Tyler women looked over at him to see the rag he was holding up.

On the front cover of The Mirror, There was a picture of Rose and the Doctor from the night before, obviously taken by the group at the diner they'd eaten at just before going to the dance lesson. It was taken during one of their more serious moments.

"Trouble in Paradise?" the headline read. Underneath it, in smaller letters, the subtitle read. "After a night on the town, the Vitex Heiress winds up in the hospital."

"What?!" Rose echoed.

"Yeah, I saw that at the newsstand. Had to see what they were saying about my little girl," Jackie said.

The Doctor read the article quickly and handed it to Rose, fuming at what he'd read. He stood there, muttering in Gallifreyan about with his fists clenched as she read.

Sources confirm that Rose Tyler was rushed to a private hospital late last night with life threatening wounds after an ill fated night on the town with new beau, Johnathan Smith (shown above in blue). The same source confirms that the heiress was in critical condition at the time of print.

Eyewitnesses claim that both the heiress and Smith were seen covered in blood and that Mr. Smith was later seen unharmed, but with minor injuries on his right hand.

The Mirror cannot confirm the events that led to Miss Tyler's hospitalization.

The rest of the article just stated facts-both made up and true- about the two of them. Rose had barely gotten to the end of the pertinent part of the article when she slammed down the paper and made an angry, almost growling sound.

"I didn' get a chance to read it, what's it say?" Jackie asked, reaching for it.

"What they're saying-" the Doctor started. "What it says I-"

Rose had her fists clenched as well, every bit as angry as he was. He leaned down over her and asked, "You know I'd never-"

"I know," she assured him, giving him a small smile. "I know."

Jackie had obviously become fed up with them not answering her and snatched up the discarded paper. After reading the first two pages, she exclaimed, "No! No! They've gone too far this time. Accusin' you of that! You're a lot of things, Doctor, but that ain't one of 'em. An' it don't matter how many times ya change, you'll never be. Man risks a planet blowin' up to keep a girl safe ain't gonna hit 'er."

He was touched at her vehemence that he wasn't the sort of man that the rag in her hands had insinuated he was. Something of it must have shown, because Jackie suddenly said, "C'mere you," and wrapped her arms around in a hug. At first, he stiffened up, sure she was going to plant her kisses over him, again, but she kept to the hug.

Almost kept to the hug.

"'Sides, if you ever did hurt 'er, I'd kill ya in the most painful way possible," she threatened as she held him. Her words didn't have the heat that would have accompanied such a threat if she felt he'd really willingly bring harm to her daughter, though.

He gave the only reply one could to a threat worded like that. "Noted."

"'M gonna take care of this. Me 'n' Pete," she promised.

"Where's Tony?" Rose wondered, realizing her three year old brother wasn't there.

"He was all hyped up an' I was sure that you wouldn't want 'im runnin' around here like a little wild thing, so he's with Phyllis and Charlie," her mother explained.

"Ah."

"He knows nothin' 'bout last night. Don't even know I was gone for a bit."

"Oh, that's good," Rose said.

"Yeah," the Doctor agreed. "Don't need the little tyke worried about his sister."

XxXx

Later, when her mother finally left after hovering over her daughter for an hour, twenty-seven minutes, and ten seconds. The Doctor asked Rose what would happen if Jackie, Tony, or Pete got hurt as badly as she did.

"Torchwood really does have some advanced healing technology that could be used on them if something happened. Some of it works better than my healing, and some worse, but better than if it were left alone. Hope they never need it, though." She looked at him shrewdly. "Or you, for that matter," she added.

They sat together in an uncomfortable silence for a moment, which was thankfully broken by Rose's mobile. It was Pete again. They put it on speaker so both of them could talk.

"Rose, I just got off with your Mum. Gave me an earful about that bit in the Mirror, she did," Pete greeted.

"Yeah, none of us are happy about that one," Rose replied.

"Any clue who would've told them about last night?" the Doctor broke in.

"Not yet, but we're lookin' into it," Pete assured the two of them in a hard voice. "Whoever it was broke confidentiality. Chelsea had an idea on how to deal with the press, though, and I like it."

"What's that?" Rose wondered.

"We make them think that there was never anything that happened in the first place."

"And just how do you propose we do that, Pete?" the Doctor asked, curious what the man had up his sleeve. The man had decades dealing with the press, whereas the Doctor had centuries of avoiding accolades and public recognition.

"There's a Vitex function tomorrow night. Jackie's been on me to call it off, but the paps are gonna be outside. If we can get Rose seen, obviously not injured the day before, we can contain this."

"I dunno," Rose said unsurely. "I've got broken bones this time and my chest is probably gonna be obvious."

"No, we can deal with that," the Doctor said. "What I'm concerned about is some people using her being out in the open as proof. And then there's the matter of Jackie and how she doesn't know anything. This is not the way she's gonna want to find out."

With that, the three of them began putting a plan together.

 

Chapter Text

The next morning, before the Doctor woke up, Rose stood in front of the mirror in the bathroom, looking at her wounds. The stitches in her arm had been ready to be removed for at least twelve hours, but she'd let them be. The stitches in her chest were another matter. They could probably be removed, but the skin was still red. There was no way she could show up to a Vitex event like that, no matter what the Doctor said.

She sighed and grabbed her tweezers and pair of cuticle scissors. After disinfecting them, she took the scissors and cut the threads of the stitches on her arm, managing to not cut herself in the process, but barely. The strands pulled as she removed them and when she finished with the last one, she dabbed a bit of alcohol on the tiny specks that were left, hissing as she did so.

"What the hell are you doing?!" the Doctor exclaimed, making her jump. She had left the door to the bathroom open and he was standing there, wearing nothing but his pajama bottoms. Any other time, she would have ran her eyes down his chest and taken his defined muscles and smattering of hair in, but this time, she was too annoyed to be aroused. Even by his great bed hair.

"I'm pulling the stitches out of my arm," she answered shortly. "Maybe my chest too while I've got everything out."

"Why? Are they even ready yet?"

"Because they're pulling and yeah, my arm has been ready for a while." She felt both sorrow and curiosity coming from him and knew what was coming next. He'd been remarkably restrained so far while her wounds were covered.

"Can I see?" he asked softly.

She turned away from the mirror and let him look at her arm. The skin was whitish, more like a scar than a wound sustained just a day and a half before. He rubbed his thumb around the edge before he asked her if it hurt. The entire time, he kept a professional demeanor which would have hid the emotions swirling inside if she couldn't feel them coming off him.

He took the opportunity to look at the wound on her chest. The scar was positioned just over the swell of her left breast, toward the center of her chest and was approximately ten centimeters long.

"You're healing so fast," he said in wonder. "Does it itch or burn?"

"No," she replied.

"Does it hurt right now?" he questioned.

"No. A little uncomfortable, though."

"I think these can come out as well. It'll make covering them tonight a little easier too."

"Um, Doctor, How exactly do you plan on doin' that?" she asked. "It's not flat. The only thing I can think of doing would be to wear a halter top, but most won't cover arms."

"Nah, that'd irritate your new skin. We're gonna make it look like you were never injured at all," he explained and straightened up. He caught the question she hadn't asked. "We're gonna cover it with latex."

"Latex?"

"Yeah, like special effects makeup. You don't have a latex allergy, do you? Because I can use silicone if I need to, but the latex would look and feel better. Of course, if I had more time, I could whip up this lovely little concoction invented in, oh, about fifty years for people with burns. No one would know the difference and you wouldn't even feel it. But, needs must. Latex is the best you've got."

He grabbed the tweezers and cuticle scissors and poured the alcohol over the tips of them. "Hold still," he told her and proceeded to snip the first black thread.

Rose could feel the blush creeping over her skin as she realized that the Doctor was shirtless, with an amazing case of bedhead, and, best-or worst-of all, was focused on her chest, which just had a thin camisole over it. All he was missing was the glasses, and the situation would be fantasy gold.

It was still pretty good, though. The Doctor had gentle hands and there was no pain from the removal of the stitches. He worked quickly, and, before long, all of the black strands had been removed, leaving two little rows of neat holes on either side of the incision. The entire time, he babbled about stitches in ancient Egypt and alternative methods of holding the skin together including gluing, stapling, and some field kit bandages that would stick to the skin on either side and could be pulled into place like zip ties.

"There we go," he said when he finished.

"Where are you gonna get latex for special effects on a Sunday?" Rose asked.

"Oh, that's easy. There's some at the Tower. I saw it. Useful stuff."

"And you know how to use it?" she queried.

The Doctor looked mildly offended. "Rose Tyler, I know a great many things which include basic camouflage and how to change one's appearance with prosthetics."

"And it won't bother the wound?" she questioned.

"No, it won't bother your wound. Now, what are you doing up at two in the morning?"

"I've slept enough," Rose said, causing the Doctor to shake his head.

"No, you haven't," he denied. "Come on. Get some more sleep, Rose. I know you've got to be tired, healing so quickly."

She was tired, so tired. She stepped forward and wrapped her good arm around him. After a second, the Doctor put one arm around her shoulder and the other at her waist, avoiding her ribs. After the hug, she allowed him to lead her out of the tiny bathroom and back into bed.

XxXxXxXx

The Doctor was looking at the black jacket on the hanger and grumbling about going to a black tie affair when Rose walked into the bedroom, wearing a fluffy pink robe with a white towel wrapped around her hair.

"It's just clothes, Doctor," she chided him.

"Every single time I wear a tuxedo, something bad happens," he groused.

"We were always where we needed to be. Now, we're just here," she replied. "It'll be a boring old snob party, I assure you." She walked over to the clothes rack and picked a dress from the center of it. "How are we gonna do this? Clothes first, or latex first?"

"Get whatever you're gonna wear under the dress first," he told her, his voice having gone a bit higher than usual due to the realization that all he needed to do was open up the front of that robe and she'd be bare before him. The Doctor was sure Rose hadn't noticed, though. He put his hands in his pockets and pinched his thigh through the material, which was almost as good as slapping himself to get back on track and stop thinking like that.

"The kitchen has the best light. We'll do the latex in there. After you get dressed, then we'll finish up with a bit of standard makeup. I'm assuming you have foundation and whatnot that matches your skin tone."

"Well, it's a bit different for faces than the rest of the body, but we can make it work," Rose told him. She walked over to her dresser and grabbed a pair of knickers in the same red as her dress and, with her back turned to him, slipped them on, closed her robe back up and turned around to face him. "Okay, then, let's do this latex stuff, then I'll match it while you're getting ready."

"You're not wearing anything else?" he questioned, voice squeaking. Rose smiled her special grin at him, having definitely noticed his reaction that time.

"It's a strapless dress, Doctor," she explained and he looked over to the fabric laying out at the foot of the bed. Sure enough, it was a shaped tube with no straps.

"Right then, let's get that scar covered up."

They sat down at the table and the Doctor had Rose uncover her scars. The one on her chest was pinker than the night before, when it had still been red. It looked a couple days older, even though he knew it was only thirteen hours since the stitches had been taken out. If it hadn't been for the obvious ridge, the Doctor would have said it could have been easily covered up with makeup only. The one on her arm was less puckered and looked more like a month old scar. This job would be easy.

First thing was first, though. He pulled out his sonic and ran it over her, trying to see how her body was healing. He didn't know why he didn't think to do it before, except that maybe he had too much on his mind or maybe too much of his blood was going elsewhere. What the hell was wrong with him?

"Doctor?" Rose queried.

"Yeah?" he asked absentmindedly, running the sonic over her scar for another scan with a different setting.

Rose grabbed his hand and stilled the device. "I know it's killing you, but I will not be a science experiment." she told him.

"Right, yes, I understand. I just need to know something, anything." He picked up the small bottle of liquid latex and started working with it, building thin layers on her scars.

He worked quickly and efficiently, trying to make his work on her chest go as fast as possible. During that time, he had Rose tell him a story, any story to keep his mind off things he shouldn't be thinking about. She told him about the first time she went out on a retrieval and how everyone else was being cautious and she just walked up and opened the door to the craft, recognizing it as an escape pod from a Lanticia ship.

"Turned out there was no one in there, but there coulda' been, you know? Course, I got chewed out for that one, even though I knew it was safe," she finished.

"Course, you did," he said.

"Oi!" she protested.

"No, I mean, they followed their protocols and all, to what could have been the detriment of another living being. Typical, really." He finished smoothing out the slightly tan colored material and blew on it, causing Rose to laugh for a second before she stopped and a flash of pain crossed her face.

"Okay, that does it," he told her. "Unless you need something else, I'm gonna hop in the shower. Be careful with that for a few minutes and don't let the material touch it too much."

Rose just nodded and got up to go get her dress on while he went straight to the shower. He didn't want to go to this affair, but he agreed with Pete. They needed to keep what happened to her under wraps.

He also needed to figure out if he could get the TARDIS coral to grow faster. If he was right, they would need an escape before too long. The readings on his sonic showed that Rose had a high amount of artron energy in her system. All time travelers got it as a consequence of traveling in time. It helped keep them from getting sick when they were in a different time from where their antibodies were used to being and slowed aging a little bit. The downside was that a person could be tracked with it. Of course, that could be an upside as well, as was proven when he used the energy signature to track down Rose.

But the levels would drop off quickly after a person stopped time traveling. There would always be a little bit once it got in a person's system, but nothing like was in Rose. The high concentration in Rose proved that she would definitely live a very long life, barring accidents.

The bathroom door opening broke him out of his thoughts.

"Doctor? You don't mind if I pop in for a moment and grab my makeup, do you?" Rose asked tentatively.

"Yeah, yeah, go ahead. You don't have to take it out, either. I know the lighting's better in here."

"Are you sure?" she asked.

"Yep!"

Oh, why did he have to suggest that? He had enough trouble with his mind wandering into lewd territory without taking a shower and having her right on the other side of the curtain. The revelation that they still wouldn't grow old together should have calmed his raging human libido down some, but, if anything, he was even worse.

Rubbish human-ish body. Figured that human hormones would control that bit of himself. He silently tried to will away the physical evidence of his arousal, but Rose had made a couple of comments, mostly to herself about the makeup that he couldn't help but hear. He couldn't forget that she was right there in the room. He concentrated on washing himself, but when he got to his bits, he wound up just forgetting about washing and set about being rid of his problem the only way he knew would work.

It was wrong, so wrong. There was mere millimeters between him and Rose, who had no idea what he was doing. He peeked out of the curtain at one point to see his Rose, fully dressed, brushing makeup on. At that moment, she'd been putting lipstick on, which fueled his fantasies. He could get caught at any moment. And maybe if he got caught, she'd wrap those lips around him.

When she finally left, he breathed a sigh of relief and sped up, seeking his completion, and able to make a few light noises..

He needed to get this fixation under control.

XxXxXxXx

Rose was certain she'd caught a hint of arousal from the Doctor when he'd referenced her underthings and, out of boredom mostly, she set out to drive him a bit mad. A girl liked being wanted by her bloke after all.

First of all, she walked over to her dresser and slid her knickers on without giving him a chance to turn away before she flashed the red fabric. It'd hurt a bit to slip them on that fast, but not too much and it was well worth it when she turned around and made sure he knew that she wouldn't be wearing a bra at all that night.

She left him alone and pretended to be not worked up about him working just over her breasts while he stuck layers of slightly tan liquid on her skin. He did an amazing job, but she could see that his pulse was up a bit.

The coup de grace was delivered almost by accident when she needed to get her makeup out of the bathroom, which she'd forgotten to do before the Doctor got in the shower. To her surprise, he'd suggested that she just do it in there, where the lighting around the mirrors would help.

He was right, of course. It was better lighting, but the whole time, she'd kept wanting to pop open the curtain. She was starting to wonder if he was playing the same game as her when she felt the lust she'd been feeling the whole time spike.

Okay, the game had to stop. Fun as it was, she needed to stop teasing the poor man. She got out of there as quick as she could, taking the curling iron and a hairbrush with her. She needed to get her shoes on and do her hair.

A few seconds later, she stood in front of the mirror in her bedroom, brushing, then curling her hair in loose, thick curls. She was just going to leave it down beyond that. Once that was finished, she stuck her feet in the sandal type shoes. They were black leather, had a short heel, and straps at the ankles with tiny, silver buckles.

She walked over to the bed and sat down so she could reach the straps when she realized the problem: she needed both hands to close them, and it put pressure on her ribcage.

"Damn it, why are these the only nice shoes I have here?" she complained, just as the Doctor walked in.

He was half dressed already. He just needed to tuck his shirt in, put his jacket on, and tie his tie. His hair had even been done already. It was unfair how quick a bloke could be ready.

XxXxXxXx

The Doctor was tying his tie when he noticed that Rose still hadn't done up the little silver buckles on her shoes. It didn't take him long to figure out why.

"Need a hand there, Love?" he asked, waving the fingers on the one part of himself that was still all Time Lord.

"No, no, I can get it," she told him.

Before she could cause herself any more pain, he went over to her and kneeled down by her feet. "Let me help."

She gave in and let him. He did first the left buckle. When he went to the right buckle, he put his hand on her leg while he turned and looked up at her.

At that moment, he knew, beyond any doubt, he could make love to her right then. It'd be so easy. He could see it all plain as day. All he had to do was slide his hand up her calf and part her knees. He'd get up and help her lay back before he kissed back down her body and scooted the bright red fabric up over her hips, exposing the little, red knickers he'd seen her pull on and-

-And Rose, the empath gasped, then winced at the deeper breath, breaking the moment. She was hurt, and he was a disgusting, manipulative, old man. He quickly did her buckle and got up so he could get his jacket on and they could leave before he took advantage of her.

He did figure out why he had the fixation all of a sudden, though. Rose needed his help, and he really liked taking care of her. Add to that the heightened emotional state they were both in and mix in hormones he wasn't quite used to having, and their natural telepathic barriers were leaking.

Which reminded him….

XxXxXxXx

As Rose watched the Doctor do her first buckle, she started to fantasize about the moment turning into something heated. If he were gentle, they could. There was no reason not to.

When he went to her other leg and put his hand on her calf, he looked up at her and froze. In that moment, she knew that not only could he see her fantasy, he was adding to it. His hand moved up her calf a little bit when he suddenly pulled back, did her buckle, and went back to dressing himself.

She wanted to groan in frustration, which was not a new feeling for her concerning the Doctor. Instead, she gathered herself and said, "Thank you."

"You're welcome," he responded automatically. Then he went and sat on the edge of the bed next to her. "You know, we don't have to do this. We can just call it off, stay here, order takeout and...whatever."

"No, we need to do this. I need to do this, for you, for everyone." Oh how she wanted to stay there and do whatever 'whatever' entailed.

He rubbed his palms against his trouser legs for a second before he said, "You're going to be up and about most of the night. It's gonna hurt."

"I'll take breaks often," she promised.

"What if I had a way to help you with the pain? It'd only be able to be used for a short time, but you'd be able to move around a bit and even laugh without hurting."

"I'd say what is it, and what's the catch. 'Cause I know you, you'd've done it before now if there weren't a catch."

"Well, like I said, it's for short term use only. Too long, and you'll likely cause more damage to yourself. Pain is there for a reason, after all. Also, it won't allow you to feel any pain, not just the affected area. That'd make it a bit harder to fake it with your mother. And, finally, when it stops, you'll feel the pain worse than you do now. If I do this, you will have to take your Trinolphine before I stop it," he explained.

"I can see why you didn't do it before. What is it, exactly?" She was on the fence. A few hours pain free would be great, but the other issues were probably going to be a problem.

"I'll have to go into your head and sort of turn off your pain centers. You'll still have it. You just won't be able to process any of it as pain," the Doctor told her.

"I'll have to think about this. How long until we should leave?" she asked rather than turn around and look at the red numbers on the digital clock behind her. The Doctor was every bit as good as a clock anyway.

"About ten minutes," he answered.

So, not much time, then. She looked down at her shoes and remembered how much pain there had been just getting dressed. Underwear, hair, the dress, and the shoes had all come with some pain. "Do it," she said, after a few seconds.

"Are you sure?" the Doctor checked.

"A few hours, yeah?" The Doctor nodded. "Then yes, Let's do it."

The Doctor leaned forward and put his fingertips on her head. She felt him, but only just for a moment before he withdrew. He then placed a light kiss on her lips, stood up, held out his hand, and said, "Dame Rose, your chariot awaits."

XxXxXxXx

As Rose expected, the annual gathering for shareholders of Vitex was boring. The only interesting part so far had been when they arrived, and paparazzi were taking their pictures and yelling questions which they ignored. That part of the plans for the night was completed.

All shareholders were invited to the party held in the large atrium of the Vitex building, but only those with about a quarter of a percent or more of the company showed up. Pete himself owned forty-five percent of the shares, a little less than half of them were shares he'd recovered since Lumic and his Cybermen. He was working toward having the majority of the company once again.

After speeches by the current CEO, a man named Lyle, and the chairman of the board, which was Pete, Jackie cornered Rose and the Doctor.

"Okay, why the hell are the two of you here?" she asked dangerously loud. Both the Doctor and Rose tried to get her to quiet down. "No, I ain't quietin' down. My little girl was seriously hurt two days ago, and here she is, at a party, lookin' like she weren't never hurt at all."

"Mum, there's a lot of makeup and medicine involved. Even fake skin. This is how we're dealin' with the accusations."

"You're out here 'cause of 'imself?" she asked incredulously.

"No, Jackie. That's incidental," the Doctor interjected. "You need to sit down. Give us a moment, Love?" he asked Rose, who nodded and sat down at a nearby table. The Doctor took her mother off to one side, far enough that it would look like Rose couldn't hear at all. She strained to hear what they were saying. "We're out here, because it's not good for Rose if everyone knows what happened to her. Imagine it. Everyone bringing up something like that won't help her."

"I told you to make sure she wasn't overdoing it," she returned.

"I know, and I'm making sure she has to do as little as possible. No dancing. Sit often, and we'll leave when she's worn out, but I promise you Jackie. This is better for her, even for all of us. I'd never willingly let her be hurt, okay?"

Her mother finally nodded. She then came over to Rose and went to hug her, but Rose leaned back. "My ribs and my wounds, Mum," she reminded.

"Oh, right. Love ya sweet'eart."

"Love ya too, Mum."

"Did you hear what I had to say?" the Doctor asked as soon as her mother has mixed with the crowd again.

"Yeah. You've become good at appeasing mothers."

"Thank you. So, how are you so far?"

"I'm alright,

"No pain?"

"None whatsoever."

"That's good." They sat in silence, watching the people around them for a full minute before the Doctor spoke up again. "I'm bored."

"Me too, and this thing's only just begun."

"Don't think I told you yet, but you're very beautiful tonight. I mean, you're always beautiful, but the way you're done up looks great on you."

"And you're quite handsome," she replied. "Love it when you're in a tux." she saw a waiter come by with champagne. "Can I drink?"

"A little. I wouldn't have more than one glass every hour or so, though. Would you like me to get you something?" At her nod, he went to get her a glass of champagne.

XxXxXxXx

When the Doctor went to get Rose some champagne, he ran into Jake. "Oh, Jakey-boy, what are you doing at a place like this?"

"Oh, I'm here as extra muscle," Jake replied. "How's Rose doing?"

"Oh, she's doing as good as can be expected. She's right over there." He pointed out where Rose was so Jake could talk to her directly where she was.

"I've got a question, and it's been buggin' me," Jake said.

"Okay, I'll see if I can answer it for you. What's on your mind?"

"What were the two of you doing on a playground at night of all places?" he asked, knowingly.

The Doctor just smiled for a second in remembrance of what was going on before all hell broke loose. "What else would you do on a playground Jake my man, we were playing. Did some swingin' on the swings, then went over to the merry go round." He picked up two glasses of champagne.

Jake chuckled. "I knew it. You're not a shag and tell sort of man."

"Rose and I have never- I mean, we-"

"Oh, look at you blush! You really haven't, have you?" Jake asked. "Have you ever?"

"Yes, Jake, I have, but it's been centuries," the Doctor answered in a low voice. Centuries and four bodies, but he didn't talk about regeneration if he could help it. There was no point anymore, seeing as no one in this universe had ever seen him looking any different and he couldn't regenerate.

"Oh, Doc, we've gotta get you laid."

"I can get..laid whenever I want," he said distastefully. That was a horrible way to describe it. "There was a lot we had to work through and now she's hurt."

"She won't be hurt for long," Jake pointed out. "That latex stuff work for ya?" he asked.

"Yeah. Thanks again for bringing that" They started back to the table where Rose sat, talking to someone.

"Oh, hey, before we get back…" Jake opened up his wallet and slipped something square inside the Doctor's pocket, behind the handkerchief. "That's for when she's all better. I remember when everything was new. You're gonna want that." He moved ahead to Rose and rescued her from her interrogator.

He placed a glass down in front of Rose, who thanked him with a smile and immediately took a gulp of the alcoholic concoction. As soon as he had a hand free, he peeked to see what Jake had stuck in his pocket and knew he was blushing again. As embarrassing at it was to be given a condom, he recognized the gesture for what it was and nodded at the man who gave it to him in thanks. Jake was a good friend.

XxXxXxXx

As soon as the Doctor left, Rose had people coming up to ask her how she was. She assured each one that she was fine. Most of them had obviously read the tabloid and were making sure she was okay.

"Don't believe everything you read," she told them, derisively. "If I'd been in hospital two days ago, in critical condition, would I be here, without bruises or cuts?"

That shut most of them up. Except one. "It's okay, Sweetheart," and older woman, Phyllis, Rose believed her name was was telling her. "I've been where you are, but you have to get out, sooner rather than later, before Johnathan-."

"Look, John isn't gonna hurt anyone who don't deserve it," Rose started angrily.

"Oh, honey, you believe you-"

"What exactly is going on here?" Jake asked, plopping down in a seat next to Rose.

"Oh, this lady was just trying to convince me that the Doctor would hurt me," Rose told him.

"Doc? Nah, never. That man worships the ground beneath her feet, I swear he does," he told the older woman. "You ain't been reading that drivel in the rag yesterday, were you? Cause, you can see for yourself. Ain't no way she was beat up that bad less than two days ago. It's all a lie." He waved the woman off, and she left in a huff. Rose could tell she still didn't entirely believe them.

The Doctor came up and placed a glass in front of her and she immediately reached for the drink, thanking the Doctor with a smile before gulping it down.

"You alright?" the Doctor asked.

"Just and ol bint, tryin' to convince me you were bad for me. Nothin' new." She then laughed and took a smaller sip. "Ain't no one else been able to convince me, not Mickey, nor me Mum, Davros, nor even you. An' if some of the most stubborn people across all space and time couldn't convince me, I doubt some old crow who would rather believe a tabloid than a flesh and blood person'll manage it."

Jake laughed and she chuckled with him, still mindful of the fact that her ribs were hurt, even if she couldn't feel it. The Doctor leaned over and put one hand on her cheek. He leaned in and kissed her softly.

"I love you," he told her softly.

"I love you too, my Doctor."

"Awww, you two are so sweet. I'm sure there's an office upstairs you could Christen," Jake said, waggling his eyebrows.

"There will be no office Christening," Pete said from behind Jake. "There's surveillance everywhere and the last thing I need is more publicity for those two."

"Wasn't even entertaining the idea," the Doctor assured him. "How's things going, Pete?"

"It all seems to be according to plan. Though Ol' Phyllis isn't too happy with you. Oh, well, can't please 'em all." He took a sip of an amber colored liquid in a tumbler. Rose didn't know enough about alcohol to be able to identify it with just a look.

"I don't even wanna know what she said to you," Rose said.

"You drinkin' there, Rose? Should you even be drinking?" Pete asked.

"She's not on any medication. A couple shouldn't hurt her. Though Jackie thinks she's got quite a bit of pain medicine in her system, so let's keep that to ourselves." The woman in question was talking animatedly to a group of people far out of their earshot.

"You know, Rose, this would be a helluva lot easier if your mother was on the same page as the rest of us," her not-quite-Dad told her again.

"That's assumin' she'd still be talking to me or the Doctor when we got her caught up," Rose argued. "Nope, 'm not talkin' 'bout it again. When can I go back to work?"

"No field for three weeks."

"Pete!" she protested.

"Hey, you're the one who wants to keep this from your mother. You tell her, and you can go back out when your ribs are fully healed," Pete told her. "You can start teaching again starting Tuesday if you feel up to it."

"Oh, you are good," the Doctor praised, holding his glass up. He was pointedly ignoring Rose's glare.

"And with that, I'm seeing myself outta this conversation. I've got to make the rounds," Jake said, leaving quickly.

Another woman came up to the table. "Hi, are you Pete and Rose Tyler?" she asked as if she were shy, but Rose could tell this woman was anything but shy.

"Yes, we are," Rose replied.

She pulled an odd looking gun out of her purse and trained it right at Pete's head. "You've been allowing aliens on the planet long enough. It ends today."

After her announcement, three other people came from two tables over and trained weapons on them, someone screamed, and people started running.

"See? Tux equals bad things happening,' she heard the Doctor mutter.

Chapter Text

A woman came up to the table where Rose, the Doctor, and Pete were sitting. "Hi, are you Pete and Rose Tyler?"

"Yes, we are," Rose replied.

The woman pulled an odd looking gun out of her purse and trained it right at Pete's head. "You've been allowing aliens on the planet long enough. It ends today."

After her announcement, three other people came from two tables over and trained weapons on them, someone screamed, and people started running.

"See? Tux equals bad things happening," she heard the Doctor mutter.

The chaos only lasted a minute before things quieted down. The guests had left quickly, leaving only the woman and the three men who accompanied her, two guards, Jake, her mother, Pete, the Doctor, and herself behind. The two guards immediately started coming up to them slowly, their weapons out, but not up. Two of the armed men turned and faced outward to keep the other people in the room in their sights.

Pete sat up straight and put his hands up in the air, trying not to antagonize the woman. "You don't need to do this," he said in a measured voice.

"Do you even know what you're doing with that thing?" Rose asked the woman pointing the alien weapon at her stepfather pointedly. She hadn't even stood up or reacted beyond her question, mostly because she refused to show fear to these people and partially because she'd half expected something to happen that night. She narrowed her eyes in thought. Those features were really familiar.

The Doctor had stood up and was staring down the woman angrily. "Oh, I don't think so, Sunshine! How stupid are you, really? The gun you're holding there isn't even human technology, and you're trying to use it to stop alien involvement?"

"Remember who everyone thinks you are," she warned him. Out loud, she said, "Something about you is familiar. Do I know you?" She tilted her head to the side a little bit with the question.

The woman looked indignant. "You don't know who I am? You didn't check? After what you did?" Rose decided then to get her riled up. Not enough to shoot, but enough to make a mistake they could use to stop her without killing her.

"What did I apparently do?"

"You killed my brother," she accused in a hiss. Her teeth were even bared.

"What?" Pete and the Doctor asked incredulously.

"Okayyyy," Rose said, drawing out the word. "Pretty sure I've never killed a guy. Well, one that wasn't trying to kill me anyway."

"You might as well have. One of the aliens you let live here killed Alec, I know it! I know you recruited 'im and you brought 'em 'ere. It's your fault!" she screamed and turned the muzzle of the gun to Rose, just as she had hoped. Rose could survive more than the men at either side of her could. One of the three men with the weapon wielding woman came up behind her and put a hand on her shoulder. He then raised his own gun at Pete, which was something she'd hoped wouldn't happen.

"And you're the one to authorize it," he said calmly to her stepfather.

"Now, you all 'ad better stop this and stop this now. I ain't watchin' my family die 'cause of a bunch of alien hatin' nutters!" Jackie shrieked.

Her outburst had most of the people in the room turn their attention to her for a moment. During that time, Rose shook her head and made a slashing motion across her neck in an attempt to get her mother to be quiet. The Doctor waved his hands, shook his head, and mouthed the word, "no" as big as he could.

"Jacks, calm down, Sweetheart. I don't want you to get hurt," Pete said once the first person had turned their attention back to where they were supposed to have been looking. They'd lost that chance at a distraction, and Rose was determined that she'd get another chance where they didn't have a table between them.

"What about you an' Rose?" she protested, pointing at them. "An' Rose is still-"

"No one's gonna get hurt today. Please, calm down," Pete said over her in an attempt to keep her from revealing that Rose really had been hurt two night before.

Suddenly, Rose knew who the woman was and why her features were so familiar. "You're Alec's twin, Carol, aren't you? 'M sorry. I didn' mean ta get him killed."

"Alec? As in, Alec Sullivan?" the Doctor asked.

"Yeah," Rose answered in a near whisper. The guilty feeling had started to take over again. Not only was she responsible for Alec's death, but she also felt guilt for forgetting about him so quickly.

"But aliens didn't kill Alec, people who hated aliens did," the Doctor pointed out, running his hand through his hair. "Who the hell told you that?"

"It's a lie, you're lying!" she yelled, her gun twitched toward the Doctor and Rose was ready to do whatever it took to keep him safe.

"Calm down, Carol," the man at her shoulder said softly. "We won't get them if you lose your head."

"All three of Alec Sullivan's killers are human. They're locked up, along with the man they were working for," Pete argued.

Suddenly, one of the men behind them shouted, "Don't come any closer and drop your gun!" Both him and the other man were in full shooter's stance, waiting for an order or someone to force them to shoot. The guards had been coming in silently and one of them had taken an opportunity to pull his weapon all the way up.

"Now, come on! There's no need for this. Just put the guns down, and we can all talk like civilized people," the Doctor spoke up.

"You'd like that wouldn't you?" Carol questioned, teeth clenched.

"Yes, I would! Who wouldn't?" the Doctor shot back. "We can resolve this. It's all just a big misunder-"

"And you are?" the other man asked the Doctor.

"You don't know already?" he asked. "Seems everyone knows, or thinks that they know who I am now. All over the tabloids in the last few weeks?" he fished.

"I don't read bloody tabloids," the unnamed man shot back in a disgusted manner.

"Interesting. You're here because of a story worthy of those rags," he retorted, pointing at him.

"Rude," Rose admonished him. "Don't mind him. He's only eye candy," she told the others.

XxXx

"Eye candy?" the Doctor wondered. What was that? On Earth, eyes couldn't eat. The Atraxi, however, were another story.

"Oh yes. You look great in a tux," Rose told him with a wink. He understood and adjusted his tie, humming happily. Then it hit him.

"Only?!" he exclaimed indignantly.

"Relax Sweetheart," she told him out loud. He felt the press of her mind again, reassuring him. "I've got this. Just follow me and Dad's lead." "Guards, relax a little. We don't want bullets flying around, yeah?" She then turned to Carol, stood up, and started walking around the table, slowly enough to not spook the woman. "I'll talk to you, tell you the whole thing, even take you to see the people locked up if you want. Just let these people go. I don't want anyone to get hurt over a story."

The Doctor knew exactly what Rose was doing. Her manner of speech, how she wasn't flustered, even the way she moved were all calculated. Her voice had even changed, sounding a bit more posh without dropping a lot of letters. She'd been playing the woman exactly as she wanted to and he let her, just to see what she could and would do, because he hadn't had much of a chance to see her in action lately.

"How do I know you're telling me the truth?" the woman, Carol Sullivan, asked.

"You don't. Not really. I've got no way to prove it to you until you agree," Rose told her, still moving around slowly.

He noticed that the guards had relaxed their hold on their weapons as ordered, but they were still pointed at the other two people in the group. The really interesting thing was what Jake and Jackie were doing. Jackie, instead of standing there afraid as he expected, looked murderous. She was watching everything and he just knew she was looking to make a move of some sort. He wished she wouldn't, but couldn't stop her without drawing attention to her. So far, everyone seemed content to ignore the wealthy woman who'd been trapped in the room with them.

Jake was playing a game of weeping angel, almost. He'd inch forward when people weren't really looking. The Doctor wondered what his plan was. He wasn't being ignored, but as far as any of the gunmen knew, he wasn't up to anything and was just another bloke.

These people had been making some serious mistakes and had left themselves vulnerable. The Doctor could tell that they had no training of any kind beyond the telly and was sure most of the others in the room could tell as well. This could be good or bad, depending on whether or not everyone remained calm.

The Doctor knew that he himself wasn't doing a great job at remaining calm. Only two days before, he watched the woman he loved get shot twice and she had nearly died in his arms from the wounds inflicted on her. And yet, there she was, staring down the barrel of a gun, again while still healing from the previous shots. Add to that the stress he'd been under the previous two weeks and he was wound up tight, like a guitar string stretched too far and ready to snap as soon as it was played.

"So, what do you say, Carol? Let people out of here? Talk to me?" Rose asked.

"Who would I have to let out?" Carol wondered, still holding the gun on the slowly advancing Rose. "Stop that! Don't come any closer!"

"It's okay, Carol. I'm not gonna hurt you," Rose said soothingly. "Please."

"I just want the truth!" she exclaimed. "Who killed 'im?"

"Celine Thompson, Kevin Trent, and Harold Smith. All three are in custody, along with their boss, Thomas Trout," Rose replied.

"They were human, just human," the Doctor added, feeling the need to put that information out there for these people. "And that's all you're getting. You've got to let these people go and put down the guns if you want any more. We're all unarmed here except for the guards, do you really need-"

"Thomas Trout?" the man next to her interrupted. "We're not stupid. He's the one who told us about Alec dying."

"Thomas-" Pete started.

"No," Rose ordered harshly. "Do what the Doctor said. Not another word. Not until they let some of us go."

"Now, see here. This is my responsibility, and-"

"And I'm the one with the training," Rose interrupted hotly. "You got me all of that training for a reason and I'm gonna use it."

Pete stepped toward her. "Apparently, you need more if you think ordering and directly disobeying your boss is-"

"I can do this. Just let me save you too."

The Doctor watched while Rose and her adoptive father argued with surprise. He'd never seen them act anything remotely like this before. Then he realized what was wrong with the picture: Rose and Pete were staring each other down, but there wasn't nearly as much heat in their expressions as he would have expected. He quickly realized that they weren't really arguing.

It was an act. Not quite an award winning act, but considering their circumstances and the fact that the people watching didn't know either of them, it was enough. He could see the people who were holding their guns at them were relaxing somewhat. The fake argument between Pete and Rose had undermined both of their authorities.

"Oh, are you two gonna witter on all day again?" Jackie complained, giving credence to their argument.

"We're kind of in a bit of a situation here," Jake reminded them, acting scared.

"Oh, just- You know, Pete, she's really quite good at this sort of thing," the Doctor jumped in. "Maybe, you'd like to just let her get on with it?"

Sirens were heard in the distance. Great, more idiots with guns. He could see the moment when everyone else heard the sirens as well. The four people holding them at gunpoint all stiffened up. Both of the gunmen that were watching the guards, Jake, and Jackie started yelling about how they needed to go and Jackie said, "It's about damned time," loudly.

It hadn't really been that long; four minutes and sixteen seconds, by the Doctor's count from the first scream until he heard the sirens. He wished they had arrived with their sirens silenced, though. Knowing they were just about there would change the way everyone acted.

"Now, son, just drop the gun," one of the guards told the gunman who he'd been aiming at him specifically. "The police are on their way, and if you're armed, it'll be harder on you."

"He's got a point. I don't want the police involved any more than you do, but they're about to arrive," Rose corroborated what the guard had said.

"And if they get here and see a hostage situation, it's gonna be bad. Really bad. Lorries worth of bad," the Doctor added.

Carol looked to the man at her shoulder, who nodded slightly before she answered, "Okay, okay, you're right. Some people can go." She glanced around her before making her decision. "The old lady and both pretty boys can go. The guards too, if they want."

"Old Lady? Who're ya callin' an old lady?" Jackie asked indignantly. "I'm-"

"Very beautiful, Jackie. Please just go!" Pete pleaded quickly.

"Pretty boys?" the Doctor wondered, looking around. He supposed Jake could fit as a pretty boy, but who- oh. Eye candy.

"She means you," Rose said helpfully a second after he had figured it out for himself.

"I am not leaving while my charges are in danger," the taller of the guards said. The Doctor had to commend him on that, even though he wished both of them would leave so there were less elements at work.

"Make them go, or not?" Rose asked him as he saw the flashing lights of the policemen's vehicles reflecting off of the nearby buildings.

"Generally, go, but that's up to you, you know their training," the Doctor responded, letting her take the lead. He was quickly finding that he liked it when she took charge. Rose glanced over at Pete and he realized she was either letting him in on the plan, or asking his advice as well.

"Go," Pete ordered them. "Now."

"Sir?" both of them questioned.

"Do what I said. We need you to keep the police apprised," Pete ordered.

"But the innocents, Sir?" the shorter one asked.

"There's nothing you can do in here that'll help. You can keep the police from coming in and all hell breaking loose," the Doctor explained, waving them off.

The two guards finally left, walking backwards, and keeping their sights on the four people. When they walked out the doors, the man with Carol ordered one of the others to cover the door and the other to cover Jackie and Jake.

"Okay, the guards are gone, the other three can go now," he commanded.

"Just-just don't hurt them, let them talk," the Doctor asked before he moved from the other side of the table.

"Get a move on before I change my mind!" she yelled at them and Jake, Jackie, and the Doctor all went to go. Each one had to get a little close to one or more of the four people holding everyone there.

He brushed his hand against hers as he walked past. "I won't have you staring down a gun anymore. This ends now," he told her.

"Doctor, be careful," she begged.

The Doctor didn't say anything as he went around her. Just as he suspected, hoped, and feared, Jackie, who no one was paying attention to, suddenly smacked the arm of the captor she was walking past. His gun shot in reflex, shattering the glass wall behind her. Immediately, Pete dropped to the floor and took cover.

"I'm on it!" Jake called as he pulled his blaster and stunned the gunman that was closest to him.

"Mum!" Rose yelled, immediately turning toward her, but Carol screamed at her.

"You stay there! You stay right there, don't move a centimeter or I'll bloody ki-!" The woman's scream cut off, but the Doctor didn't know why because he was busy with the gunman nearest her.

He grabbed the end of the gun, shoving it upwards where it would have the least potential to hurt someone if it went off, then twisted it, hoping to release the other man's grip from the weapon. It didn't work, but he decided to do something he hadn't done in a very long time and used the skin to skin contact to delve into the man's mind enough to put him to sleep.

His adversary dropped as if he'd been struck with the blaster Jake had and the Doctor did nothing to slow his descent. As soon as his bad guy had been neutralized and he was free to do so, the Doctor went to get the woman who'd been threatening Rose, only to find that she'd already been dealt with. Carol Sullivan laid on the floor, and he couldn't tell whether she was knocked out or worse.

Jake was fighting with the man whose gun had fired. The other man was much larger than Jake and wasn't going down easily.

Jackie was holding her ear, which he was sure was ringing after that shot. Those guns weren't as loud as contemporary human weapons, but they were still loud. Suddenly, she swung her purse by the handle and whacked the gunman with it. "You sick bastards had better quit attacking my family!" she yelled, bringing her purse up again. The second time, she hit Jake as much as the gunman, to his protest.

The Doctor took this all in and started moving forward to help as Rose closed the distance between her and the man grappling with Jake. Without announcing her presence in any way, she balled her fist up and punched the man in the back of the neck. Jake was holding him at the time and allowed him to go to the floor more slowly than the other three had, but he wasn't gentle, either.

"Well, that's that," the Doctor commented, looking down at the unconscious people on the floor. "That probably could've gone better. Welll, I know it could have gone better, but it could've been a helluva lot worse too. Wonder who told them that Alec was killed by aliens?" He nudged one of the weapons on the floor. "The bigger question is how did a bunch of people who aren't part of Torchwood get a bunch of guns from the Circinus Galaxy?"

"That doesn't matter right now, we can ask them all that later when they're awake and aren't holding weapons on us," Pete said from behind him. The Tyler elder's eyes moved past the Doctor. "Jacks, you okay?"

The Doctor turned around and looked at Jackie Tyler, who was staring at Rose furiously.

Chapter Text

 

Jackie knew it was probably a bad idea, but she had to do something and she was sure the others were just waiting for a good distraction. After she smacked the guy who'd been holding a gun on her, he shot just past her ear, causing it to ring terribly. A second later and Jake was on him, having already stopped the man who was holding a gun on him.

The bloke was big, though, and she decided to help by distracting him. She smacked him twice with her purse, shouting at him, but had accidentally hit Jake as well the second time.

"Oi Jackie, not me! Get outta here!" Jake protested, but there was no way she was leaving while her family was in trouble.

A second later, the bigger guy stopped fighting, and Jake lowered him to the ground quickly.. Behind him, stood Rose, her Rose, with her fist still balled up from hitting the man. She was standing there in that costly red dress, looking for all the world like a wild woman and the light in the room from the candles glinted off her hazel eyes, making them seem to be on fire.

What bothered Jackie the most was that her daughter didn't seem to be in any pain. None at all. She'd been hurt two days before, and even if they did have her on a bunch of pain medicine and used futuristic and alien healing machines, her ribs were still hurt. She should have felt something.

And that daft alien was babbling again. She didn't care what he was saying, she just wanted to know how her daughter, who had been in a coma just two days before, looked like death warmed over the previous day, and had looked like she was still feeling bad not even an hour before seemed to be perfectly fine.

"Jacks, you okay?" Pete asked.

"Mum?" Rose asked in a small voice and Jackie let loose.

"You're supposed to be at home, relaxin' and gettin' better, not out on the town and punchin' people out. For Chrissakes, Rose! You were jus'- How the hell are you not screaming in pain right now? Don't matter how doped up you are!" she yelled at Rose.

"Mum, I-" Rose started.

"It's a mental thing, Jackie. I made it so that she can't feel the pain," the Doctor stepped in quickly.

"You did what?!" she exclaimed.

"It's just a simple thing. Turn off the pain centers in her mind. I'll undo it later when she doesn't need it," the Doctor assured her.

"You! You went into my daughter's head and messed with it!" she yelled, coming closer with her finger pointed at him.

"Well, yes, with permission, of course," the alien said. "It's completely undoable. Wouldn't wanna be her when it's undone, but-"

That was when she slapped him. "It ain't natural! Fix it, and if you ever go into-"

The Doctor held his cheek for a moment before his entire countenance changed. She could see the moment he went from being shocked to being angry. His next words were spoken in a low, warning tone of voice and she had to fight the instinct to step back.

"What I did, I did for your daughter. If I reverse it now, she'll be in extreme agony. Is that what you really want?" Without giving her a chance to answer, he shook his head and added, "It doesn't matter. The only thing that matters is what Rose needs."

His words shocked her. The actual words didn't shock her. She'd always known that in the end, those two would do what they wanted regardless of what she wanted. It was the way the words were delivered that threw her. He'd never spoken to her like that before. Like she was the enemy. It was exactly the same way that he'd spoken to Harriet Jones-the other Harriet Jones-when she'd blown up that ship on Christmas.

But then Rose put her hand on his arm and spoke his name softly. Instantly, he calmed a little and looked over at her. "I'm not sorry," he said defensively.

"I know, but it's my mum and she doesn't understand, right?"

Just then, the police came in and they all had to answer questions about what had happened.

XxXxXxXx

After what felt like ages of questioning, but the Doctor knew was really only an hour and ten minutes, they all, minus Jake, piled into the limousine Jackie and Pete had come in, as if the night hadn't been long enough.

He could have taken Rose's little blue car, but he had something he wanted to do after Rose was asleep and wanted to make sure that she wouldn't be alone after everything that had happened. Forty-two minutes earlier, he'd given her one of the trinolphine pills, which would put her to sleep soundly.

In fact, Rose was leaning against him, nodding off. He'd put his arm around her, mindful of her injuries and the fact that he'd have to take the block off her mind before long. He was trying to avoid speaking to her mother, who kept glaring at him.

"So, you can just block pain like that?" Jackie asked suddenly.

"Yeah," he replied wearily, wondering how much she was going to explode at him.

"And you let 'im into your mind just like that?" she queried her daughter.

"Why not?" Rose responded tiredly.

"Because he could do anything! He could be some kinda crazy nutter an'-"

"I'm right here, Jackie," the Doctor protested.

"Good!"

"Mum, that's enough!" Rose admonished, sitting up, suddenly wide awake. "You know 'im. You've known 'im for years. You know he wouldn't-why're ya actin' like this?" She waved her hands in frustration, making the Doctor cringe at the way her arms jerked. If she could feel pain, she'd have felt that on her ribs.

Without giving her mother a chance to answer, she continued with, "He's even part human now, and you're actin like 'e's done somethin' wrong. Why? 'Sit 'cause he did exactly what I needed?"

"I just wanna point out here that you didn't have such a good reaction to learning about the translation on your first trip," he reminded Rose. "Also, you need to be more careful with your movements. What you did earlier was bad enough, you don't need to damage yourself more."

After she nodded, he turned to her mother. "Now Jackie, I'd never do anything like what you're worried about. Never. I shoulda realized that you'd've had a similar reaction as your daughter did years ago. I didn't think. Especially since you're not exactly new to this."

The Slapinator just stared at him for a moment before she leaned forward. "I swear, if I ever think you might have really messed with her mind, I will end you," she hissed. "I don't care who you are."

"Mum!"

"Noted," he squeaked at the same time as Rose's exclamation.

Jackie looked back and forth between Rose and the Doctor for a moment, brow furrowed. "If you can stop 'er from bein' in pain, how come you've only done it this evening?"

"'S dangerous, innit?" Pete spoke up. "You know, like the stories about armies who were drugged so they couldn't feel pain?"

"Brilliant, you are," the Doctor praised, pointing at him. It was almost exactly like Rose would have described it, if she'd known about the concept. Now he knew for sure where that came from.

"What the hell are you on about?" Jackie asked Pete..

"Hitler drugged 'is soldiers to fight longer and harder," Rose explained. "But they'd go too far. They'd fight until they were dead and often became useless in battle 'cause they were addicted to the stuff."

"You know about that?" the Doctor asked in surprise. "Not many do."

"Yeah, after we ran across those guards in Kalipresh and you said it wasn't uncommon, even on Earth, I looked it up. It really isn't." She looked disgusted.

"So, it's dangerous?" Jackie asked the Doctor directly. Her voice was calm. Too calm.

"Only if she gets into trouble. Tonight was supposed to be quiet," he defended himself.

"Is that why you're so tired, Rose?" she questioned Rose worriedly.

"No, Mum. Took a pain pill an' 's startin' ta work, that's all."

"It's in preparation for undoing what I did earlier," the Doctor said quickly before Jackie could ask why Rose needed a pain pill if she couldn't feel pain. To his relief, Rose's mother dropped the subject.

XxXxXxXx

Rose finally got up the stairs and into her room with some help from the Doctor. Her mother wanted to help as well, but Rose waved her off, telling her that they could handle it and she'd see her in the morning.

The bedroom Rose used when she stayed at the mansion had over the top floral wallpaper and a large, cozy, four-poster bed with a duvet that matched the walls. She hated the bold floral pattern. Her personal preference was for blocks of color, but the room was cozy and a good, calming place to sleep. Also in the room was a dresser and a small desk, both made of the same dark wood the posts of the bed were made of.

"Where's your jim jams?" the Doctor asked, still trying to be helpful.

She pointed to the dresser on the other side of the room and set about loosening the red, strapless dress enough to get it off. That was when she realized what had happened. Sometime after getting out of the limousine, her dress had turned around a little, just enough that the zipper wasn't in the center of her back. The bodice was turned so that everything was lopsided. She wasn't able to reach the zipper with both arms.

She was in the process of adjusting it so she could get her clothes off when the Doctor triumphantly pulled out a pair of her comfortable flannel pajamas and returned. "What are you doing?" he asked disapprovingly, putting the pieces of fabric down. "Here, lemme help, before you pull something." He reached for her and something in her rebelled.

"I can do it! Don't talk to me like that!" she snapped suddenly, startling him. He stepped back and put his hands up, showing that he wasn't going to touch her.

"'M not a child, nor am I invalid. Why does everyone keep treatin' me like I'm both?"

He seemed to be choosing his words carefully, which only made her madder until he started speaking. "Rose, you were just hurt, very badly. That was just a couple of days ago. When it comes to how much we're trying to help, as far as your mum's concerned, you should still be in hospital. I know you're better, but you're still hurt, far more than you realize, especially right now. And I promise, no one's treating you like a child. Welll, your mum might be. A bit. Kinda, but she's your mum, she'll always see you as the child you used to be." He was sad as he said the last bit.

And there was another reminder of one of the hardest things to remember about the Doctor, because he hid it so well: his age. He was almost a millennium old- that he'd admit to- and he'd been a father once. He'd lost all of them.

She sighed and closed her eyes. "I'm sorry, I shouldn't've yelled at you," she said at nearly a whisper. "You were just trying to help."

"I understand and you're forgiven. You're always and completely forgiven," he spoke softly. She heard him move around her. He made it known what he was going to do before he reached for her zipper by moving her hair to the side and trailing his hand across her skin on a direct path to where her zipper was located, just to the left of her spine.

She felt the zipper come down and hurried to hold the fabric up before it fell. The Doctor's hand lingered on her back for a moment before he placed a soft kiss on her bare shoulder.

"I love you, Rose Tyler," he whispered in her ear.

"I love you too, my Doctor," she whispered back, almost breathless. She was waiting for whatever was going to happen, but, not entirely to her surprise, he went around to her front, all business.

"We need to get that latex off of you before you get cleaned up. Just take a couple ticks." he directed her to sit on the edge of the bed while he got the chair from the desk under the window. "Should be easy to remove. Skin oils and perspiration would have loosened it, but we might have to wait until you have a shower for some of it to come off. The skin's too tender to pull on it."

He went to the ensuite and she heard water running for several seconds before the Doctor came out with a washcloth, sat down, and took a look at her arm and the area on her chest where the wounds were hidden.

"Hmm, good we got out of there when we did," he commented "It's starting to come undone." He worked at removing the latex as gently as he could, putting the wet, warm washcloth on spots as needed. He was able to get everything off of her arm, but there was a spot at the center of the wound on her chest that he refused to try to touch.

As soon as he was finished, he leaned down and flipped open the buckles on her shoes so she could slip them off. "There. Best I can do for now. Healing's excellent. Can barely see where you were hurt on your arm now. Your jim jams should cover the lot and keep prying eyes away. How are you sleep wise?"

"Not as ready for bed as I was earlier," she replied.

"I was afraid of that. Took too long removing the latex. Get dressed and I'll help you sleep so I can stop the other thing."

"You want me to be asleep first?" she asked nervously.

"Yeah. I thought it best. You won't feel as much then," he replied. "Why? Is it too much? It's too much, of course it is. Don't worry, Rose, we'll figure-"

"Doctor, it's okay, I trust ya," she spoke up, interrupting his worried chatter.

Minutes later, she came back out of the en suite, wearing her pajamas. The Doctor was kicked back on her bed, still fully dressed, including his trainers.

"Are you not staying?" Before her last word was out, he was alway shaking his head.

"I can't," he replied apologetically.

"It's okay. Mum won't smack ya. She thinks-"

"Oh, I do not want to know what she thinks in that area," he replied, shuddering and Rose couldn't help but smile at his reaction. "I have to check on my experiments."

"Why are we here, Doctor? Your experiments are at the house. We coulda just gone there," she interrogated, suspicious.

"Because I don't want you to be alone right now and, uh, I wanna have a bit of a chat with Trout." She felt guilt and nervousness from him, though he didn't show it.

"Doctor," she warned, crossing her arms in front of her.

"What? After what's happened the last few days, it's past time, isn't it?" He noticed her position. "Your ribs, Rose," he reminded her.

She had to concede he was right, about both the discussion and her ribs. She had been pressing too hard. Rose climbed into the bed and laid down next to him. Despite the medicine wearing off, she was still exhausted. The Doctor explained to her what he was going to do, and she agreed it was probably for the best.

"Doctor?" she asked, yawning.

"Yes, Love?"

"Please, don't be in the cell with any of 'em alone an' come back and get some sleep. You need it now," she reminded him.

"I promise," he answered and reached for her temple. She felt a warm, almost hot sensation and suddenly became extremely tired. As her eyes closed, she had one last thought that she wouldn't remember the next day.

"Don' kill 'im, Doctor," she said as her eyes shut fully.

After a moment, his voice came back. "I promise."

XxXxXxXx

The Doctor, finished with his tasks of making sure Rose got to sleep and unblocking her pain neurons, stared down at her as she slept for a moment before he closed his eyes and took a deep breath.

As soon as his eyes popped back open, he heard Rose whimper in her sleep and knew she was feeling the pain, but she wouldn't wake any time soon.

This had gone too far. Rose was in intense pain and had nearly died. He needed to find out why Thomas Trout was doing what he was doing, by any means necessary. The kid gloves were off.

No one hurt his Rose.

Chapter Text

The Doctor tore his eyes from Rose's sleeping form and pulled her little purse out of his pocket. He flicked the delicate latch open and reached inside to grab the object which took the most room. After laying down the purse on Rose's bedstand, he fastened the leather strap around his left wrist and flipped open the little panel that held all of the buttons. After some very quick calculations, he entered a string of numbers and letters and pressed a big, green button.

The world lurched and when he regained his senses, he was in the small back yard of the house next door to the little converted house that he and Rose lived in.

"Oops."

He went to the fence and climbed over it, with the help of a flower pot. He wished there had been an easy to use gate, but was glad that it was a flat top fence instead of a picket. On the other side, he had no choice but to fall down, but managed to stay on his feet, even if he did have to hang from the fence to do it.

A quick wave of the sonic later, and he was through the back door. The first door led to his little, lead lined workspace that had used to be an x-ray room when the house had been a physician's office. It was a small space, but had plenty of room for his current projects and various detritus liberated from Torchwood.

"Hello there, beautiful," he greeted the rapidly growing piece of coral in the glass tank as he stroked it softly. It responded in the only way it could at such a young age, with a slight warmth at the very edge of his consciousness.

He picked up a small spray bottle and lifted the coral, which had become approximately the size of his forearm, out of its temporary home and sprayed the depression it had made in the sandy soil underneath. He weighed the coral, then placed it back inside, flipped over from the position it had been in before and sprayed the side that had become the top.

"Well, that's you taken care of. I'll be around more soon, I promise. Just gotta take care of some things with Rose first." He then went over to another experiment and checked the readings before leaving the room, making sure to close the door behind him.

He leaned against the door once it was shut and closed his eyes. He needed to get composure of himself before he went to talk to the bastards that had made Rose's life a living hell the past few days. The trip to see the coral and take care of her helped, as it always had, but not enough.

No, seeing and feeling his TARDIS coral and the certainty that he would be able to properly protect Rose in the future wasn't enough to keep him from breaking his promise to her. Even though she wouldn't likely remember extracting the promise from him, he still couldn't kill Trout. If he did, she'd know and he couldn't see anything good coming of that, beyond Rose being marginally safer.

That by itself was enough to tempt him, but the consequences just weren't worth it in the end. Rose would hate him. Others would know what he did and he couldn't take off and escape the consequences. Not easily, anyway. Rose would be safer from one threat, but he wouldn't be able to help her with others.

Decision made, the Doctor opened the flap on Rose's teleport and started to enter the coordinates that would take him to the Tower. He knew which floor of Torchwood Tower Trout was being held on. What he didn't know was the exact location of the hidden cells, but figured he could find it and get in readily enough. The task would be much easier with help, though.

He cleared those coordinates and entered a different set, landing him in Rose's en suite. He leaned against the counter and tried not to fall over as he was regaining his equilibrium. When he was ready, the Doctor stepped out of the small bathroom and looked down at Rose, assuring himself that she was fine one final time.

He didn't linger long. A quick trip downstairs and, just as he suspected, the Director himself was sitting in his study, clutching a tumbler of Scotch and staring out the window with his back to the open door.

"I've been expectin' you, Doctor," he said, not turning around. "It took you longer to get here than I would've thought."

"You know why I'm here then." It wasn't a question.

"I can't let you near him."

"I don't need you to get to him," the Doctor said, trying not to be threatening, but the words came out sounding like one anyway. Pete just laughed and finally turned his chair around to face him.

"If even a quarter of what I've heard about you from Rose is true, I doubt you do need me." He gestured to the other chair. "Close the door and sit down, Son. We need to have a talk."

"About?" the Doctor asked suspiciously, still standing not far from the door.

"You, Rose, all this." He waved the hand not holding a tumbler, indicating nothing in particular. "Pick your poison, Doc. You look like ya need it more'n I do," he said sympathetically, pointing at the collection of bottles.

The Doctor shook his head, closed the door, and sat down on the edge of the seat indicated. "Gotta keep my head tonight, Pete."

"Suit yourself." Pete shrugged, finished his drink, and got up to pour himself another. "This thing with Rose. She thinks it happened with you, so I reckon you've got some kinda idea what happened now that you know?"

"There was this time, far in the future," he began. "We were facing Daleks, and there was only one way to survive, which would have been to leave and let what was happening happen." he stopped, memory of the day washing over him.

"I know I don't know you well, but what I do know of you, you wouldn't've left 'em."

He shook his head and laughed ruefully. "And Rose didn't take it well when I tried to save her."

"You sent her away." At the Doctor's nod, he replied. "I bet that went over well."

"And you already know you'd lose that bet, Pete. She tried to tear apart the TARDIS in her quest to get back. You see, just a couple trips before, something happened and the ship's heart had been exposed. Rose was trying to emulate part of what happened to get back because she couldn't fly her. But the Heart of the TARDIS is pure time energy. The Vortex runs right through it, and she… Anyway, she got back, but she almost died in the process."

The rest of the story was about his regeneration, and that was always a painful topic, especially since he didn't have that particular ability any longer.

"Alright, then. Let's go see that bastard, then," Pete suddenly said.

The Doctor blinked. "That's all you wanted to know?" he asked.

"Turns out all you needed to calm down was to talk about your love. You're alright in my book, Son. Rose couldn't've done better," he explained as he walked around his desk and opened up a drawer.

The Doctor disagreed. He was pretty sure she couldn't have done much worse, but he kept quiet, sure the man would revoke his support if he knew the Doctor's past when Rose wasn't around..

"Now, don't tell Jacks I've got this," Pete said, holding up a wrist strap almost identical to Rose's. "She don't know I have it, and frankly, I'd rather she not know."

He entered a well remembered set of coordinates and the Doctor put his hand on it. When they popped back into existence, they were on the top floor of Torchwood Tower, right inside of Pete's office.

"Ow," the Doctor complained a second later when he found his voice.

Pete chuckled at him. "It'll get better the more you use it," he assured the Doctor.

"Use it quite a bit, then?" he gasped.

"Well, you know. Little things crop up an' I need to get it done, or I can't sleep and decide to use the time for paperwork."

"Well, that's something that'll put you to sleep."

"No joke, that," Pete replied. "After you?"

XxXxXxXx

Pete thought that the trip down to the third floor was quiet, especially for a man who talked as much as the Doctor did. Then again, the task they were on was bleak and he didn't want to talk about it, either.

They stepped off the lift and went to the hidden entrance to the cells. A quick security check, and they were allowed through. Pete looked in on the first cell block, which housed the three animals who'd kidnapped Rose. He refused to call them people after what they had done. One of the men was bandaged, and he knew that was the one who'd shot her, and, in return, been shot by both Jake and the Doctor.

"Not this block," he said, closing the door to the six cell room before the Doctor could see what it held. "That's observation," he told the Doctor, who had, upon hearing that the first door was the wrong one, opened up the door on the other side of the hallway.

The Doctor glanced around the room, nodded his head, and walked over to the door to the other cell block, opening it and stepping right inside without waiting for Pete. Once he got inside as well, he saw the Doctor standing there, hands in the pockets of his rumpled tuxedo, staring at his old friend, who just stayed where he sat, staring back.

"I see you're dressed to the Nines. Did you have a good time tonight?" Thomas asked, as if he were trying to make conversation.

"Oh, I find black tie affairs to be very boring, but your little present spiced it up for me. Thanks for that," the Doctor replied jovially.

"No problem. Glad you enjoyed yourself."

To anyone who didn't know the two men, they would have looked like they were having a pleasant conversation, except for the clear plexiglass wall with holes between the two of them. But Pete had seen the Doctor in action, and he knew Thomas well, or so he thought. Thomas was a master manipulator and great at negotiation. The way he understood it, Doctor saved planets as a hobby and was centuries old, so he'd had the advantage of experience at a wide variety of skills.

"What do you know about me, Thomas Trout?" the Doctor said, dropping all pretense.

"You're from the same universe that Rose is from. Some bloke from the future I've only ever heard called, "the Doctor," before I met you, and you had a hand in stopping the Cybermen business."

"So, what was that argument about with Rose just before I stepped into that cabin on the zeppelin? Seemed like you didn't want me around."

Thomas stepped a little closer and asked. "No, I didn't want you to get special treatment. She wanted there to be no record of you getting an identity. No monitoring, nothing. Last thing we needed was someone else under her influence with no accountability. Do you even know what your little girlfriend is? Unless you like that sort of thing. From what I understand, you and her were in a rather-"

"Why don't you enlighten me on what you think she is?" the Doctor replied icily.

"Yes, please do," Pete spoke up in a hard voice, revealing his presence to the man who used to be his friend.

"Oh, that's right, you think she's the daughter of a parallel version of yourself, don't you? Or is that a cover? She did show up suddenly with your wife. Oh, wait I get it!" he said, acting like he just figured out a great secret. "Jackie's got amnesia. You had the little alien girl fix her up so she she wouldn't remember leaving you." He started clapping slowly. "Nice, Pete, ol' boy. I didn't know you had it in you!" he praised. "Though, I guess that explains why Jackie seems to think she really is her daughter."

"This isn't you. You're never like this. Why the hell are you doing these things to my family?" Pete shouted.

"You've got an alien living in a house you bought for her. There are aliens throughout the organizations you run, including one that's sole purpose is to stop alien activity. Since Rose came into your life, under your so called leadership, eight hundred and fifty-two aliens have been given identities and hidden away through a program meant to help humans. You're undermining our security!" Thomas ranted.

"So, let me get this straight. You're doing these things because you think he's compromised?" the Doctor asked, gesturing to Pete.

"Yes, and obviously you are as well. I'll rid all of Torchwood of you traitors," Trout replied proudly.

"Would you actually know an alien if you were staring him right in the eyes? Can you actually tell the difference?" the Doctor asked calmly, stepping just a bit closer to the clear wall.

"Of course I can."

"Obviously not," the Doctor replied. "Because Rose Tyler is a human being, born on Earth to two fully human parents: Jacqueline Andrea Suzette Prentice and Peter Alan Tyler. I watched her parents get married. I held her when she was just a baby on the day her Dad died. Alien, yes, to this universe and to people on other planets, but she's a human being."

"Well, obviously, she got to you too, because let me tell you something, Son. That girl can heal fast and get into people's heads. That is not human in any way!"

"Oh, I know," the Doctor answered with a grin. "Bit of a mishap with my time machine. Can't say I'm unhappy about it, though. She's so jeopardy friendly." Then his grin dropped. "But you don't get to call me, 'Son.' Pete, open this door," he ordered in a voice that didn't even try to disguise the anger underneath.

Without thinking about it, Pete hit the control that allowed the door to slide open. As soon as he could get through it, the Doctor stepped through and into the cell. Pete finally went over to the door, in order to stop anything from going wrong.

The Doctor stood right in front of Thomas, expression guarded. "I have never come across a single time where bigotry came to anything good in all the times I've been in, for all the centuries I've lived." He grinned manically at Thomas when the other man's indignance changed to horror and he began backing up. "Oh, yes, Thomas Trout. Didn't you know? How could you not? I'm the alien. Well, not quite alien, I guess. I am part human now."

"You, you-" Trout started, still backing up, but the Doctor kept stepping forward, keeping the distance between them almost non existent.

"While we're on the subject, the aliens you come across who aren't invading almost always really do need help. I'm the kind of alien you're worried about. The day before you met me, I killed millions," he told the other man in a hiss, looking, for the first time since Pete had met the man, like something other than human.

Pete knew about it already, from Jackie. Apparently, the Daleks were going to destroy everything, everywhere, in every universe. He'd met them once; on the day he'd met his Jackie, and, from that one encounter, he could see it happening.

"Mil-" Thomas squeaked as his back hit the opposite wall of the deep cell. Something dark in Pete was enjoying watching his traitorous former friend being terrified.

"Millions," the Doctor confirmed. "Every. Single. Dalek. They were going to hurt people I cared about, and you know, universes," he said as if the rest of existence was just a bonus. "What else happened that day, two weeks ago, huh? All those stars came back, didn't they?"

"Are you saying-?' Thomas started, but the Doctor didn't let him get another word out.

"I'm saying that two weeks ago, I committed genocide to protect people I care about. Do you really think you mean anything to me? After what you did to my mate?" he snarled.

He wondered if the Doctor was going to kill Thomas. More importantly, he wondered if he'd let him and help him afterwards. After what he'd seen on the video, and the man's admittance that he'd put not only Rose, but his wife and himself in danger just then, he wanted to do the deed himself.

The revelation shocked him. Pete wasn't a violent man by nature, but never before had he been threatened when he had so much to lose.

Thomas suddenly seemed to remember that Pete was there. "Pete, ol' Boy, you are not going to just stand there and let a confessed killer kill me?!" It sounded like both a question and an order.

"What else are you plannin' on, huh?" Pete asked instead of answering. He still didn't know what he was going to do, but it seemed the Doctor was hell bent on giving the man a heart attack and they needed answers.

Suddenly, Thomas changed the way he was acting. It was as if he weren't scared anymore. "Why should I tell you? No. No way am I going to tell an alien and the biggest traitor of the human race how to stop it." He laughed. "So, Mr. Smith," he sneered, grabbing the other man by the lapels of his tux.

After a few seconds of whispering something in his ear, suddenly, the Doctor grabbed him on either side of his face and slammed his head against the wall violently.

"Doctor. Kill him and we won't get what we need," Pete reminded him, wondering just what had been said to turn the Doctor from threatening, but mostly calm to violent.

The Doctor held him there for a moment, breathing hard. "The only reason I don't end your life is because Rose asked me not to. I don't need, nor do I want you alive for any reason." He shoved the man away and walked toward Pete. "I've got what I need."

Pete hurried out and to the button so he could hit it as soon as the Doctor walked through. Once the door was closed, they walked out back into the hallway.

"What did he say?" he asked the Doctor once the door to the cellblock Thomas was in was closed.

The Doctor looked at him with haunted eyes. "Trust me, Pete, you really don't want to know." With those words, he walked out past security, having been allowed out by the guard at Pete's wave. By the time Pete got through the door and back into the main part of the third floor, the Doctor was nowhere to be found.

XxXxXxXx

As soon as the Doctor got the chance to do it unseen, he pushed up his sleeve and used Rose's teleporter to leave the building, before he did anything else he'd regret.

He landed behind the Tyler mansion and promptly dropped to his hands and knees to lose the contents of his stomach close to the base of a tree. It wasn't a reaction to the mode of transport, but to what he'd heard from that bastard and what he'd done afterward.

He started sobbing silently, trying not to be heard. He'd done one of the most horrid things he could do to another person. Another part of his mind reminded him of what he'd claimed to have done to Rose. It didn't take long to calm down after that. What had been done had been done.

He wiped off his mouth with the back of his hand, then wiped it on the lush grass before standing up and walking to the door of the mansion and slipping inside. He'd had to disable the alarm before it started shrilling at him like Jackie would if she caught him sneaking into the house.

He crept up the staircase and slipped into Rose's room. As he had already known she would be, Rose was still asleep. He walked around the bed to the side she laid on and took his sonic out, scanning her while he had the chance. He knew she hadn't wanted to be a science experiment, but he wasn't experimenting on her, he was making sure she was alright.

Scan one showed a large concentration of artron at her ribs and at the site of her wound, which was interesting. The next scan showed that her ribs were healing nicely and she should be good to go in a day or so, given her rate of healing, just as she'd said before. He scanned her DNA into his device, then began an intensive scan of her reproductive system.

They'd had Rose for thirty-five minutes before he'd even woken up. What Thomas had said was more than plausible. The scan finished, and he held the sonic up.

The only DNA was her own. No one else's, just hers. He almost laughed with relief and collapsed into her chair for a moment, just watching her sleep. The good news didn't entirely mean that she was in the clear, though. There were other ways she could have been hurt that didn't involve DNA. He'd just have to find out some other way.

After a few moments, he started falling asleep sitting there and decided it was time to wash up and get into bed. Just before laying down, he remembered that he needed to make it so she could wake up on her own, before something happened.

Rose opened her eyes to find the Doctor laying in bed next to her, his eyes closed. She could tell he had just barely fallen asleep. He looked like he'd had a bad night. She rolled over to face him better, hissing at the pain in her ribs. One more day and she'd be healed enough that it wouldn't hurt like hell every time she moved her torso.

Her movement, or maybe her pained noise woke the Doctor. His eyes popped open, startled and he focused on her face after a second of disorientation. "Rose? Are you-?" he slurred.

"'M fine. Sorry to wake you up," she whispered. "How'd your talk go?"

"They didn't hurt you, Rose, did they? Worse than I know?" the Doctor asked with urgency. He cupped her face and came closer. "You can tell me Rose. You can tell me anything at all." He put his forehead to hers and whispered, "I love you."

"What are you talking about? I'm fine, Doctor. You know everything." She had no idea what was going on in his mind, but whatever it was was bothering him.

The Doctor pulled back and looked into her eyes before barking out a very quick laugh. Suddenly, he leaned forward and kissed her hard. She hesitated only a moment before responding. They'd never kissed while in bed before. Both of them were aware they wouldn't stop there, nor had they been ready yet, but the other night, they'd decided together to go further.

The Doctor's hand moved from her neck where it had rested and down her side, pushing up her pajama top so he could get to the skin underneath. His kisses moved from her mouth, down her neck and his tongue flicked out to taste her skin as he moved further down.

As he moved down her neck, he positioned the both of them so that Rose laid mostly on her back and he was hovering over her, with one knee between her legs. She could feel his length pressing into her thigh.

"Doctor," she moaned softly. They were really going to do this. He ground himself against her and moved his free hand down to the waistband of her pajama bottoms.

"Rose," he responded thickly, looking at her with heavily lidded eyes. "I need-say yes."

She'd started nodding her assent, but knew he wanted to hear it. "Yes," she gasped, then moaned as his hand plunged down the front of her pajama bottoms, not wasting any time. He rubbed circles around her clitoris, then dipped a finger into her.

"Oh, someone is very ready," he said with a smirk before kissing her again. He slid another finger inside her and pumped a few times, making Rose dig her fingernails into his shoulders and move her hips in time to his hand. As he touched her, she pulled the t shirt he was wearing up and ran her fingers over his abs. She tried to return the favor and touch him, but just like in the park, he wouldn't allow her to touch him more than a couple seconds.

Just as she was about to come, he removed his hand from her, prompting Rose to whine. The Doctor laughed. "Now what fun would it be to end it so quickly?"

"Lots of fun. I'm a woman, I can come all night."

"Mmm, that you can."

He licked her juices off his finger, almost absently, then groaned and looked at his fingers as if he were in shock for a moment. He sat upright on his knees quickly, pulling at the elastic band at her waist. She lifted her hips just enough to let him slide the clothing off of her and started to undo the buttons on her top.

"No. Let me," he ordered, stopping her. Rose looked at the Doctor, on his knees with his clothing disheveled. He had one hand at her thighs where the waistband of her trousers had stopped, the other was on her hands at the bottom button of her top, and he was staring at her with intensity. It was incredibly erotic, and scary at the same time.

"Well, you'd better get on with it, then,"she teased, trying to hide her nervousness.

He grinned at her and finished pulling her trousers off. Her knickers came next, with enough force that they tore a little when the Doctor couldn't get the red piece of fabric off of her fast enough. He stilled for just a second and Rose closed her legs suddenly under the scrutiny.

"You're beautiful," he whispered, almost breathlessly. The Doctor lifted one leg up, and over to his other side, so that he was properly in between her lower legs and ran his hands up her thighs, pushing them gently apart. The whole time, he kept eye contact with Rose, reassuring her silently that he'd stop if she asked.

When her legs were sufficiently apart so that no part of her could be hidden, the Doctor leaned down and gently kissed the skin just inside her knee. He then moved an inch up and kissed her again, opening his mouth the second time so his tongue could dart out to lick her skin. Slowly, he worked up, becoming bolder with each time his mouth met her skin until she felt like her heart was going to explode from how fast it was beating.

"Please. Oh, please," she found herself begging.

"Please, what?" the Doctor queried between open mouthed kisses that were more tongue than lips.

He was enjoying torturing her! Not only could she hear his amusement in his voice, but she could feel it as well, within all the lust. Well, if he wanted to play that game with her, she'd let him, but later on, she'd make him beg in return.

"Please, no more teasin'." She wondered what it would feel like when he touched her that way. She'd heard amazing things, but her previous, limited experience, she'd not had a lover who'd kiss her between her legs.

He lifted his head so he could look her in the eyes and smirked. "Your wish is my command," he told her and skipped over the last handspan of skin to touch her right where she wanted.

He delved right in and her hips jerked off the bed in response to the stimulus. She'd moved hard enough that she wrenched her ribs in the process. "Oh, fuck!" she called out and slapped her hand over her mouth, both hoping that the Doctor wouldn't notice that she'd called out in pain and that her mother hadn't been nearby and heard.

"Ooh, careful there," the Doctor joked, obviously pleased with himself, but when he got a look at her face, he changed. The happy, lustfulness had almost disappeared, and he became thoughtful, then serious.

"Don't stop," she said breathlessly.

Without saying a word, he moved further up her body, and, one button at a time, began undoing the buttons on her shirt. He pulled the fabric open and Rose laid bare everywhere except her arms, while he still wore all of his own clothing.

He focused on her chest for just a second, and suddenly, the last bits of lust she felt from him disappeared. In it's place: fear, revulsion, and anger.

"Doctor?"

The Doctor put his forehead to her stomach for a moment and took a big, shuddering breath.

"Doctor? What?"

"It's real. It's real," he whispered to himself, then suddenly jerked back as if he'd been burned. He clambered off the bed quickly. "I'm sorry. I'm so sorry, Rose. I-I would never've touched you if I knew this was real." He ran his hands through his hair as she stared at him in shock. "Are you alright? I didn't hurt you too badly, did I?" he fired at her.

"'M fine, Doctor. Was jus' a little twitch," she protested, getting up from the bed with difficulty. A person really could never know just how much they used their torso until moving it hurt. .

He went over to a pile of clothes and out came the sonic. Rose, who'd been walking toward him, was right behind him when he turned around. The Doctor jumped when he saw her, having been so engrossed in what he was doing that he hadn't noticed her get out of bed. Rose took the familiar device from him and tossed it unceremoniously back into the pile.

"Once again, I. Am. Fine," she told him, forcefully, putting her hand on his cheeks when he wouldn't look her in the eye. "I'm the one who couldn't keep my hips still. Hell, Doctor, I about busted your nose! So don't you go all moody on me, you hear?" She smiled at a thought. "You dream about me? Like that?" she asked.

"Oh, yes. Often. They're my favorite dreams."

She wrapped her arms around his neck. "I dream about you too," she told him in a whisper before kissing him softly, in the hopes she could resume their activities, but the Doctor backed away and held her hands.

"I can't. I won't, not until you're better," he told her, shaking his head.

"So be gentle," she told him. He was being silly.

"Don't wanna be," he admitted. "Don't wanna have to worry about hurting you. I just wanna be able to let go with you." He let go of her hands and leaned closer again to kiss her one last time. "Let's go to bed, Rose." He seemed to remember one of the implications of what he had just said and quickly added, "To sleep. Just to sleep, not anything else. Not that I wanna sleep. Too much to do really, but this rubbish body!"

"I don't think your body's rubbish," Rose flirted and turned back to go to lay down in the bed. She was disappointed at the turn of events, but she completely understood.

"Rose?" the Doctor squeaked. She turned to see him, rubbing the back of his neck and trying-and failing- to look anywhere but at her. "Um, you're naked."

She laughed, looking down at her torso. Sure enough, she was still only wearing her unbuttoned pajama top. She'd forgotten entirely. "Yeah, you did that," she reminded him. "See anything you like?"

He swallowed and closed his eyes. "Can you, um, get dressed?"

She decided to take pity on him, grabbed her pajama bottoms and slipped them on, letting him know he could open his eyes once she started buttoning her top. It was going to be a long night.

Chapter Text

Rose was half awake, comfortable, and considering letting herself drift back to sleep when she heard the door to her room creak open. Thinking it was going to be her brother, who would often climb into bed with her to wake her up, she braced herself for the inevitable bouncing.

To her surprise, however, there was no squeal and attack of a three- almost four year old boy. Instead, she heard her mother's voice. "Not sleepin' with 'im, my arse," her mum said and Rose realized that the warm weight at her back was the Doctor pressed up against her. He'd molded himself against her in the night.

Something else was also pressed up against her back. She blushed when she remembered what had happened, and what had almost happened. The thought made her glad that the Doctor had insisted she wear some clothes to bed. She pretended to be asleep as she heard footsteps shuffle into the room.

"Oh, for Pete's sake. She's 'urt an' 'e's got 'is mitts all over 'er," she grumbled and smacked him somewhere where cloth covered him.

The Doctor jerked. "Who? What?" He rolled away from Rose, and, having nowhere else to go, wound up on the floor, taking the duvet with him. "Bloody hell!" he exclaimed, slurring his words. "Jackie? What the hell?"

"Shut it, you wanker!" she hissed. "Rose is sleepin'. And 'urt, I might add. And you're all over 'er like white on rice."

Before she could lay into him some more, Rose acted like she was waking up. "'M cold, Doctor?" She uncurled herself and rolled over. "Mum?" She looked around like she hadn't had a clue what had been happening before then. "What're you doing-?" She acted like she'd just learned that the Doctor was there. "Doctor? Why're you on the floor? I told you you could sleep up 'ere with me."

"I was up there," he said through clenched teeth, giving her mother a quick, dirty look as he started to pick himself up off the floor, but he was tangled in a bit of sheet. "What exactly are you doing in here?" he asked her.

"Some thanks. I make brekkie an' come up to wake you an' 'e was all-"

"The Doctor was fine, Mum. I was comfy," Rose interrupted. "And you were snoopin'." It looked like her mother was going to deny the accusation, so she added, "An' don' even try to deny it, Mum. You beat on the door when you wanna get me up."

"I was worried about you sweet'eart How are you feelin'?" She went around the foot of the bed, ignoring the Doctor, who'd finally managed to detangle himself from the fabric.

"'M fine, Mum," she protested and went to sit up, but remembered that she wouldn't have been able to do it if she were normal. "Actually, can you just-" she held her hand out and her mother took it, 'helping' her upright.

"There you go. How's-?" her mother started.

"I haven' checked it yet, but I'm sure 's fine," Rose irritatedly told her mother and stood up gingerly, hissing to add to the effect. She turned around so she could see the Doctor. "Morning, Doctor," she greeted.

"Morning, Love," he replied and winked at her. She blushed, remembering the night before and quickly went into the en-suite, hoping her mother hadn't noticed.

XxXxXxXx

The Doctor had forgotten to pick up something to wear when he'd been at Rose's house the night before, so he left Rose's semi-private space wearing his white oxford and tuxedo trousers, but not the jacket, tie, or vest. He didn't want to tempt fate any more than he was already with just the trousers.

He followed the sounds of dishes and found Rose and Pete in the kitchen. Rose sat on a stool at the little island picking at her breakfast and Pete was washing up a large pan. When Rose saw him, she pushed a second plate in front of the stool next to her and resumed picking at her food.

"There's times like this I wish I still had the staff I used to," Pete grumbled as he put the pan in the drainer and pulled the plug out of the sink.

"I bet. Saves a lot of time," the Doctor replied. He sat down and looked at his food. Typically English, it was. He hoped Jackie hadn't poisoned his plate before he picked up his fork and stabbed a sausage with it.

"And time is money," Pete agreed. "But there's something to be said for privacy." He finished drying his hands, walked over to the island, and sat across from them. "Staff talk amongst themselves and with spouses and family. So I couldn't, just as an example, ask you where the hell you disappeared off to last night after you roughed up Thomas."

Rose froze and looked at him. "What?"

"I only slammed his head into a wall after- he's damned lucky I promised I wouldn't kill him," he responded hotly before he grimaced. He didn't mean to say that in front of Rose.

"When did- you what?" Rose asked in shock. Out of the corner of his eye, he could see how she stared at him with her mouth open a little, but he wouldn't make eye contact with her, not just yet. He needed to get through this before seeing the disappointment in her eyes.

"What did he say to you that made you act like that, Doctor?" Pete asked.

"I told you last night. It's better if you don't know." Done with the conversation before he lost it thinking about what might have been, he turned his attention to the food in front of him and finally bit off a bite of the sausage. "Good stuff," he complimented.

"Don't give me that shit. You can't just-" Pete started, but the Doctor, who was in a low, simmering rage that morning, dropped his fork and stood up abruptly. He went around the little island and, after reaching into his pocket, activated a signal on his sonic so Rose wouldn't hear and whispered in Pete's ear exactly what that bastard had said in his.

He didn't tell him what he'd actually done in reply. That was a secret he would carry to his dying day.

XxXxXxXx

He had that calm face that barely hid the rage underneath when he stood up. Rose was about to get up and pull the Doctor back from her stepfather when he leaned down and whispered in the other man's ear. As close as they were, and how quiet the room was, she should have been able to hear the Doctor plain as day. He was horrible at whispers.

But she heard nothing. She strained to hear when she realized there was a very low, buzzing noise that was familiar. He was using his sonic to make it so no one else could hear him speaking. What was he keeping from her?

Whatever it was, it had to have been bad. Pete paled and glanced at her quickly. She caught fear and revulsion from him and realized the Doctor was hiding himself from her. The sound of the sonic stopped and the Doctor stepped away from him, nodding slightly. He then walked right back to his seat and started eating, as if nothing had happened. Through the whole thing, he hadn't done more than glance at her.

She wasn't going to stand for it. "What the hell jus' 'appened?" she hissed at him. "You smash someone's head against the wall, get angry at Dad, for what? And now you're goin' out of your way to keep secrets from me?"

"I have a lot of secrets, you know that," he said carefully.

"What is it? What's so bad about what that bastard said last night that had you acting like this?" she demanded and he finally looked at her. He was still blocking himself from her and his face was a mask devoid of emotion, or so he thought. Instead, she could see desperation and fear, both of which were removing all traces of the rage she knew was still under the surface. No one got over that much anger that quickly.

"Rose. It's not good, and it won't make a difference to know about it now. Probably be worse, actually," Pete spoke up and she glared at him and he raised his hands in surrender. "I'm just tellin' the truth."

Rose studied each of them in turn. Both were nervous, angry, and she decided to let whatever they were hiding go, just the once, but she needed one answer first. "Just tell me. Is it anything anyone's in danger from?"

"It no longer has a chance of happening," the Doctor confirmed.

"You said you got what you needed from him," Pete prompted.

The Doctor nodded. "Yes, yes, I did. If-" He stiffened and looked around the kitchen as if he had a sudden thought. "Where's your mother?" he asked in alarm.

"Off takin' Tony to nursery," Pete replied. "She won't be back for half an hour."

The Doctor relaxed and blew out a breath. "Good. Last thing we need is her hearing any of this. Okay. First there's some good news. No one's suspected that your mother isn't from this universe. She and your brother are as safe in this situation as it's possible to be."

"Thank God," Pete breathed out.

"But?" Rose wondered.

"There's several other attacks planned, all designed to get the two of you out of the way," he answered before pointing at Rose and adding, "Especially you."

Pete and Rose glanced at each other before Rose asked, "Why? That's not makin' any sense. I'm no one."

"Don't say that. You're so important," the Doctor emphatically told her. "You put together the paperwork for people to have lives here if they need it. You've helped those who've landed here by accident. To top it off, you've got the ear of several very powerful people. That's just what they know. I see why those who are xenophobic would want to get rid of you."

"I'm not even supposed to be here," Rose said at nearly a whisper. "'M the reason Mum an' Pete were in danger last night, 'cause I'm not supposed to exist."

The Doctor sucked in a breath and was already shaking his head, ready to deny what she'd said when Pete stood up and leaned forward on the counter. "Now, you stop that right now," Pete ordered her. "You exist and you're supposed to exist. You feel right to me an' that's all that matters." He turned his attention to the Doctor and asked, "Now, Doctor, when are these attacks supposed to happen?"

The Doctor grabbed Rose's hand and threaded his fingers between hers. "The first one is going to be when Rose shows up at the Tower or is in public. You're the target," he explained sadly. "The goal is to get you hurt out in the open, where many people see you and it can't be quieted." He squeezed her hand. "If at all possible, they'll make it so that you have to be publicly teleported, or taken to a hospital where we have no control."

"To out me," she realized.

"And it wouldn't end with you. Almost everyone would turn against her," Pete deduced. "And, by extension, Torchwood. We'd lose the support of governments worldwide."

"How do we stop this?" Rose asked. "I can't hide out forever."

"We may have to implement one of the escape plans, Rose," Pete said pragmatically.

"No! It's already started. I'm not leaving you all at a time like this!" she denied. "You're all in danger, and what if they use you to get to me?"

"Hold on. Escape plans?" the Doctor asked and Rose froze. She'd not told him about the plans yet.

"Um, well," Rose started nervously. She looked to Pete for help, but he shook his head. She was on her own with this one.

"Well?" he questioned.

"When we first found out about, about...me, we came up with a plan to get me away from here, just in case. There's actually several plans now." She hesitated and stared into his eyes. Instead of the anger or insecurity she'd thought she'd see there, she saw understanding and a bit of desperation. "They haven't been changed for two yet. 'M not leavin' you here, an' definitely not leaving this mess for my family to deal with."

"Rose-" both Pete and the Doctor started.

"I. Said. No!" She was not going to let him send her away again. Nothing he could do would change her mind.

"I didn't say you had to leave yet," the Doctor quickly assured her, grabbing her upper arms. "I do need to know what your plans are, though."

"You said, 'yet,'" she accused, narrowing her eyes at him.

"Yes, I did," he agreed. "And, if you have to leave, I won't be staying behind, I promise, but Rose, do you know what happens if the wrong people get hold of either of us?" He let go of her arms and ran his right hand through his hair in agitation.

"That would be why-," she responded, nodding and waving her hand.

The Doctor relaxed a little. "Good. Now, what were you going to do if you were found out?"

"It depends on a lot of...stuff, but basically, I use the teleport to get to a better location if I need to."

"Those can be tracked," the Doctor pointed out and started pacing.

"But it takes a few minutes," Pete spoke up. "Enough time for the next stage."

"Which is?" the Doctor prompted, obviously wanting her to be the one to answer.

"Get ready to fight or jump again. It's harder to track successive jumps. Also, the other teleports have a tiny chip in them that shorts it out," she explained.

The Doctor laughed mirthlessly. "That makes the job a bit easier."

"Just a bit," Rose agreed, watching him move back and forth.

"Whose idea was that?"

"Malcolm's," Pete answered. "He came up with it when it was being reverse engineered."

"Bloke's brilliant for a human," he praised. "Okay. Teleport. Likely teleport again. Disable their motors if possible. What else?"

"The caches," Pete spoke up. "There's three around the city, and one in Cardiff, just in case."

The Doctor stopped and stared at Pete. "Cardiff? Why would you have supplies in Cardiff of all places?" he questioned.

"Because I've spent a lot of time there, gettin' information about the rift," Rose explained.

"There's a rift in this Cardiff too? No, no, later." he waved his hand, as if he could erase what he'd just said. "I'm assuming they're your basic on the run gear: money and identities and the like?" At their nod, he continued his interrogation. "You said plans. That's one plan with variations."

"If I have to, Melissa keeps contact with the Rixalarians. 'S where she was trained in telepathy. If I can't get hold of her, I've made a few off world contacts that I can use too," Rose explained.

"Okay." He thought for a moment. "Suppose you can't jump around, get to one of your stashes, or get off Earth, what then?" he questioned.

"We either kill her or turn her in," Pete said, plain as day and the Doctor turned toward him so fast, she was sure he'd get whiplash.

"What?" he asked in a dangerously low voice.

"Not for real, of course," Rose quickly interjected before the Doctor could do or say something he'd regret. "We just make it look that way. You see, if we have to, Pete can turn me in and keep control. He's got access everywhere and his office is on the same floor as the Dimension Cannon. I've also got enough allies here, I can make it work without his help past getting me in the building."

"You could jump dimensions," he realized. "But you'd have to get to the top floor."

"And we wouldn't have time for proper coordinates, so there's no way of knowing what I'd be goin' into. That's why it's the nuclear option," she explained. "We're only doing that if there's no other choice, only if the other possibilities don't work."

"And how the bleedin' hell is killing you any less nuclear?!" he shouted, throwing his hands into the air.

"Now, Doctor. We'd be faking it. Remember the bomb?" she told him in an attempt to get him to calm down.

"Do you really think we'd kill her?" Pete spoke up incredulously.

"Well, how the hell am I supposed to know? I just heard that you're considering handing her over to people who would dissect her!" he yelled, pointing at him. "While she's alive!"

Pete regarded him for a second. "You've got a bit of a problem with anger, don't-"

"Stop! Both of you," Rose interrupted, knowing where this was going to go. Her other father was a cool head generally, but he was starting to get angry. She could tell because he was purposefully riling up the Doctor. For his part, the Doctor had always been fairly quick to anger, even if he didn't show it, but this was more so than usual, even for how he was when they first met.

She put her hand on his chest, partially to calm him, and partially to reassure herself. His heart was beating wildly. "Now, Doctor, go out that door and follow that little path until you come to a pond. Wait for me. I'll be there in a minute."

"Rose-" he started, shaking his head.

"Please?" she asked of him, staring into his eyes. He met her gaze and hesitated only a moment before he nodded and walked out the glass door that led from the kitchen to the herb garden. She watched him for a moment before turning back to her stepfather. "What the hell happened last night?"

XxXxXxXx

The Doctor just barely kept himself from slamming the glass door as he left the mansion that Rose's parents lived in. He found the start of the path Rose had told him to take easily enough, but after a little bit, he came to the treeline and the manicured trappings of wealth gave way to a wilder landscape with no bodies of water in sight. Trees stood tall and the path became nothing more than a worn trail that was just enough for him to follow.

Ten minutes after he left the mansion, he was just about to turn back when he came to a clearing that held a pond. There was a small stream leading to and away from it, and, through the leaves that had fallen on the surface, he could make out the silvery color of a couple of small fish.

During the walk, he had calmed down to the point where he'd felt shame, but not for what had just happened. He'd worried Rose and snapped at Pete, and, on closer inspection, he should have realized that it wasn't real, but the domestics weren't a problem. That'd all blow over. The real things that weighed on his mind were the plans they'd made up to get her out. There were four distinct plans, with variations.

He sat down on a fallen tree by the pond and put his head in his hands, thinking. What kind of fear led to creating that many backup plans? What kind of fear led Rose to believe that it was even a possibility that she would have to be turned in to the people she'd be escaping from to save her family and have a chance of really escaping?

Despite what she'd said three days before in that little diner, he'd manipulated her just like everyone else had. He told her exactly what she wanted to hear, what she needed to hear so she'd stay with him, and distracted her while he left. He was selfish. Selfish enough that he would never tell her that he too was actively responsible for her being stuck somewhere she never could feel safe.

That made it up to him to fix it. And fix it, he would.

"There are two types of people that aren't from here, but live here now," Rose's voice came from in front of him.

He raised his head and watched her move closer. "And those are?"

"The first group are the people who want to be here: refugees, people who came here for a better life and the like. More often than not, they integrate, not always seamlessly, but they blend in with the local population and live their lives in peace." She sat down on the log next to him and stared out at the water.

"The other group are the people who don't want to be here. They're people who crashed here and can't get back home for whatever reason, people who were displaced out of time, or, you know, the people who are here against their will. Those people, more often than not, have a difficult time. Many integrate, but the process is rarely seamless. Unlike those who want to be here, they're generally alone, with very little of their former life to hold on to and no hope of returning to it. Most suffer from depression." She stopped and took a deep breath.

He knew where this was going and was about to tell her not to continue. That he knew the basic psychology of exiles and refugees, but she put her hand on his knee and he lost his words for a moment. Damned human-ish body. "These last few days have been awful, but most of it's been about me. How are you?" Just as he was about to tell her he was fine, she added, "And don't say you're fine."

He thought for a moment, searching for words that would be believable and keep her from pressing too hard and worrying. Several phrases were discarded before he finally settled on one. "I've had a lot on my mind. A lot to keep me busy. It helps," he told her. As soon as the words were out of his mouth, he realized that what he said could be construed badly. "Not that what's happened to you is a good thing. At all, but if there were a bit of a good thing in it, it's that. I guess. I've got my experiments. I think you'll like the one. I hope so anyway. There's trying to figure out this traitorous body. Can't control it. And there's you, I'm always thinking about-well, isn't this just wizard. Don't laugh!"

He was so embarrassed. His stupid gob ran away with him again and he'd almost told Rose that he couldn't stop thinking about her. It didn't help that Rose looked like she was about to laugh at him.

"You're so pink!" She bumped his shoulder with hers.

"How do you humans cope?" That wasn't a whine. It was definitely not a whine.

"Well, I don't know about how men cope in general, but the lucky ones generally have a bit of help in that department." She waggled her eyebrows and grinned at him with that little bit of pink flesh poking out of her mouth. He felt his whole body heat up and the most traitorous and uncontrollable part of himself started acting up again.

'She's still hurt. She's still hurt,' played in his mind over and over.

After a moment, where neither of them looked at one another, but at the rippling water in front of them, Rose said, "There's something about water. Don't know what it is. It's calming."

"Water is life for just about everything that ever lived."

"No, it's not that. It's the molecular cohesion factor, I think. The way water ripples with the tiniest movement. It's mesmerising." Oh, she was brilliant, and it was so easy to forget about all of those physics books in the house and all of the learning she'd have had to do to be able to be useful on inter-universal travel, much less lead a team on it.

"Yeah, yeah, I suppose it is," he replied, staring out at the ripples from a leaf.

"You calmed down a bit now?" she asked. "Figured out we have no real plan to put me in danger?"

"Handing you over isn't putting you in danger?" he asked, cocking his head to one side.

"Well, that's not a real possibility, now is it? It's a last ditch scenario," she chided him.

"Yeah. Those plans don't matter anymore, though. We've got to come up with new plans just in case." He huffed and considered telling her about the TARDIS he was growing right then, but decided against it at that moment. He'd tell her when he could show it to her.

"So, I've got an idea. They're after me, right?" He nodded, wondering where her train of thought was going. "So, let's give 'em me."

He stood up, shouting, "No! Absolutely not!" The whole idea went against everything in him, well almost everything.

"Use me as bait. Get a few more players out," she continued as if he hadn't said anything.

"This isn't a game!"

"I never said it was. We do it at the Tower. Easier to control there than in the open." What she said made sense, in a way. The level headed means of telling him her theory made it more attractive.

"It's not worth it," he argued. "You're hurt. You can't properly defend yourself if you need to. We don't know if you can handle another major hit!"

"But by morning, the most I'll be is sore, if that. There won' even be a trace of what happened on my skin. I can wear body armour. They won' risk a head shot, 'cause they'll want me alive, to prove how well I heal." She stood up and grabbed his hands, imploring him to go with her plan.

"They were going to kill you the other night," he told her.

"I know. They were taping me, hopin' I'd confess." She let his hands go and walked to the edge of the water. Just before she got there, she kicked a stone into it. He knew from experience that she was trying to hide her pain and push the memories of what had happened a few days ago away.

He walked over to her and wrapped his arms around her waist, down low so he wouldn't aggravate her ribs. "Rose, I can't put you-" he started and she stiffened.

"You aren't putting me in any danger. They are. I'll do this with or without your help," she told him through clenched teeth.

"Rose. Just listen-"

"No, Doctor, you listen!" She pulled his hands off of her and spun around, her heel hitting the water as she did so. "I've spent at least four times as long without you as with you. Years of travellin' all on my own through the multiverse with no help or backup at all. Not only am I not the girl off the estates you used to know, but even who I used to be wouldn't put up with this. I want-no, I need to stop 'em. I'm doin' it. Do I have your help or not?"

Her eyes flashed dangerously and there was only one answer he could give. One that would keep her safe without locking her away.

"Yes, but not today. Tomorrow. Stay out of sight today." She'd be okay then.

"Tomorrow," she agreed.

Chapter Text

The Doctor found he still didn’t like domestics . After having spent most of the day watching Rose pretend to be in incredible pain and Jackie fussing over her like she was all that would keep her alive, the Doctor was ready to get the hell out of the mansion and stop playing Jackie Tyler’s version of concerned and dutiful boyfriend.

 

Gah, boyfriend. Such an awful and inadequate word for what he and Rose were. English was an awful language for such connections. The best word for them in any human language was soulmate, but that was too cheesy and often implied that you couldn’t truly love another if they passed. The Doctor didn’t want that for Rose. Not with what he knew about her. Now aulisolinas, that was a great word.

 

Jackie’s voice broke him out of his ruminations. “What the hell you think you’re doin’ carryin’ that big box down the stairs like that. You’re gonna fall and break somethin’.” He glanced around the box at her as she furrowed her brow and added, “What’re ya doing with it anyhow?”

 

“We realized Rose had just about all her dressy clothes and shoes here last night and she wanted to have some at the house,” he explained, hoping she’d let him go quickly.

 

Luckily, Jackie relaxed. “Oh, well, good. Here, let me help,” she replied, rushing up the stairs to help. Almost as soon as she touched the box, it slipped and rolled down the stairs, spilling clothes and shoes.

 

“Uh, oh,” Tony said, “Mummy made a mess!” He ran out, sing-yelling, “Mummy made a mess. Mummy made a mess!”

 

Pete came into view and saw the debris. His eyes met the Doctor’s and he smiled a little. “Uh, Pete. Rose could use a hand while I help Jackie clean this up,” he told the human man, letting him know that Rose wanted to talk to him, while keeping up with the lie of her being more hurt than she already was in front of her mother. They’d spent most of the day like that. Having conversations behind Jackie’s back, being careful that neither she nor Tony heard anything of their planning.

 

“I dunno why you both don’t just stay here until she’s all better,” Jackie complained, kneeling on the stairs with a piece of organic cotton. “An’ I dunno how many times I gotta tell ‘er, you can’t fold mosta these dresses up.” She had focused on a domestic task, a sure sign of just how upset she was. The Doctor hated lying to her in this way.

 

“I’ll properly take care of the clothes,” he promised her. “Know a thing or two about fabrics, me. In the Andes-”

 

“Oh, hush, you,” she halfheartedly cut him off, just like he thought she would.

 

He sat down next to where she was kneeling so he could speak with her. “If I thought it’d help, I’d keep her here, but it’s not good for your son to see his sister so hurt,” he explained.

 

“But she’s my daughter.” A tear trailed down her cheek.

 

“I know,” he replied softly. “And you did an amazing job with her.”

 

Tony ran back across the bottom of the stairs and Jackie straightened up, wiping her face off in an attempt to hide that she’d been crying.

 

“Oi! Anthony Tyler, no runnin’ ‘round like that!”

 

“Awww, Mummy! I’m bored!” the boy whined and the Doctor stood up and started walking down the stairs.

 

“Come on, Cub. I’ve got a few minutes. Why don’t you show me your favorite place around here?”

 

“Really, Doctor? You won’t tell Mum?” the boy asked with wide eyes that were just like his sister’s.

 

“Just our secret,” he assured him. Tony Tyler grabbed his hand and started dragging him off toward the back of the mansion.

 

“Oi! Don’t you go puttin’ any ideas into my other child’s head too!” Jackie shouted after him.

 

He looked back at her and just grinned as her son pulled him around the corner.

 

XxXxXxXx

 

Rose hadn’t thought about getting back to the house from the mansion, but apparently the Doctor had.

 

“We’ll have to get your car another day. I’m not letting you go near downtown today,” he firmly told her with his arms folded.

 

“Oh, you won’t, will ya?” she responded hotly.

 

The Doctor apparently realized he’d said the wrong thing. He stiffened for a second, then relaxed, unfolding his arms as he did so. “Think about it, Rose. Getting your car will put you in public. It’s beyond dangerous right now.”

 

She swore under her breath. Damn, he was right and being logical about it. “Fine, then. We’ll just have to use the teleport, then. Give it ‘ere.” She held out her hand and was surprised when he pulled it directly out of his pocket and handed it to her. “How comes it's not in my purse?” she asked suspiciously, taking it from him.

 

“I used it to get around last night,” he responded matter of factly.

 

“Of course you did. Well, come on, then. We’ve gotta let Mum know we’re going.”

 

“You’re gonna use that thing?” her mother asked distastefully when she found out how they were planning to get back to Rose’s house.

 

“Yes, Mum. The car’s not here. It’ll be simpler.”

“Jus’ take mine. Pete, grab my keys will ya?”

 

Pete sighed. “Jacks, they can use the teleport just fine. It’s perfectly safe.” Jackie looked around at everyone else, who all nodded.

 

“Hell, I dunno why you lot like those damned things. Ain't right that is. Oh, c'mere, you,” she said with her arms open toward Rose, giving up the argument, for the moment. Rose hesitated. Hugs with her mother were always a full body experience and though she was nearly completely healed, it’d still hurt. “‘S alrigh’ swee’heart, I’ll be careful.”

 

Rose went into her mother’s arms for a hug, which was gentle enough that her mother barely touched her. “If you need anything, honey, call me, okay?”

 

“Of course, Mum,” she agreed and stepped back toward the Doctor.

 

A few goodbyes later, and they were back in the living room of the little house on the outskirts of town.

 

XxXxXxXx

The Doctor laid next to Rose that night staring at the ceiling and wondering if he’d done enough or would do enough to protect Rose. If he just had the TARDIS, he’d take her away, but he didn’t and wouldn’t for a long time. That train of thought left him wondering why he hadn’t heard anything from his future self yet. Surely he’d have let himself know something? The fact that he hadn’t yet didn’t bode well.

 

“I can hear you thinking,” Rose complained next to him, apparently not asleep after all. She rolled over onto her back and peered at him.

 

“Sorry,” he said, wondering what she knew of his thoughts.

 

“No, you’re not,” she accused and smiled a little, sad smile. “I can’t sleep either,” she admitted. She sighed and turned her face toward the ceiling, clearly thinking about something. “Doctor, if something happens to me-”

 

“It won’t,” he interrupted. “Nothing’s going to happen,” he told her, saying the words with a lot more conviction than he felt. She’d brought up the subject they’d both been trying to avoid and he really wanted it gone. But he knew from experience that Rose wasn’t going to let it go.

 

“It could,” she shot back and finished rolling over so that she faced him fully. A small hiss escaped from her as she did so, but before he could tell her to take it easy, she started speaking again. “It could, and if somethin’ happens to me, I want you to-”

 

“No. No. No. No. Absolutely not. There’s no version of me, in any potential universe, who’d willingly run off and leave you while you were-” He stopped himself, unable to say the rest and wondering when their situations had reversed.

 

“Of course not, but I need you to not get caught,” she replied softly. “Righ’ now, they ain’t looking for ya, yeah? They think you’re just a bloke. I need it to stay that way.”

 

“I saw, Rose, I saw what they did to you. I saw the video. You almost- I can’t let ‘em take you from me. I won’t.” He began to beg. He’d do anything to keep her safe.

 

“You saw?” Her eyes had gone wide and he didn’t need to be touching her to feel the fear coming off her. He pulled her into his arms and felt her shaking slightly. His brave Rose was terrified and that alone scared him.

 

“It’s okay, Rose. It’s okay. I’ve got you,” he whispered softly in her hair as she clung to him. “You’re safe.”

 

He wondered how true that was.

 

XxXx

 

Two hours later, a jab in his side woke the Doctor up.  It took his groggy mind five full seconds to realize why Rose had elbowed him. She was having a nightmare and was fighting in her sleep. He should have realized what would happen after trying to keep her calm for nearly an hour.

 

He reached out to wake her up before she hurt herself. When he shook her shoulder, Rose’s reaction was immediate. The Doctor wasn’t entirely sure how he managed to wind up on the floor with his left arm twisted painfully behind his back, it happened so fast.

 

“Ow! Rose! Rose! It’s me. It’s the Doctor! Ow!” he called out quickly, hoping she was actually awake. She gasped and the pressure on his arm and weight on his back disappeared quickly. He sat up on the floor, muscles protesting the movement.

 

“Blimey that was quick. Wouldn’t wanna ‘ave been the one you did that to for real,” the Doctor joked weakly as he rubbed his shoulder.

 

“I’m sorry!” Rose’s voice squeaked and he looked up to find her halfway across the room, looking shocked. He got up off of the floor and stepped toward her, but she backed up, shaking her head. “I-I didn’t mean to. I thought-”

 

He spoke in a calming voice. “Hey, I’m fine, see? No harm done.”

 

She stopped backing up, but still looked scared. “I could’ve broken your arm,” she whispered, low enough that if he hadn’t still been mostly Time Lord, he probably wouldn’t have heard it. She broke eye contact and looked down at the floor, fear bleeding away as she began to feel ashamed. He wondered if she knew she was projecting.

 

“But you didn’t,” he insisted, then remembered something very important. “Frankly, I’m more cross with you for what you could’ve done to yourself.” Her head shot up, brow furrowed, and he nodded at her chest. “How’s the ribs?”

 

He saw understanding dawn and watched, flinching, as she hugged herself and twisted around, obviously checking the status of her healing. Her not noticing before could have been chalked up to the surge in adrenaline when she woke up, but her current movements were executed without any pain showing. It was incredible how fast she’d healed from her wounds. She’d been still hissing barely two hours before.

 

“I’m fine,” she said and shrugged, still not meeting his eyes.

 

“No pain?” he asked.

 

“Nope. I really am sorry, you know.”

 

He closed the small gap between then, wrapping his arms around her for their first proper hug in four long days. “Oh, Rose, you’ve got nothing to be sorry for, and even if you did, you’ll always be forgiven,” he whispered into her hair.

 

XxXxXxXx

 

Rose was still a bit sore, but she’d be okay. The little lie about having no pain was more than worth it when he wrapped his arms around her, giving her a full hug. It was still a little bit loose, like he was still afraid to hurt her, but it felt good.

 

“Oh, Rose, you’ve got nothing to be sorry for, and even if you did, you’ll always be forgiven,” he whispered.

 

She doubted that. Even he couldn’t be able to forgive everything. She was about to warn him not to make promises he couldn’t keep when she caught the green lights coming from the alarm clock that would have been red in Prime.

 

2:45

 

They’d had, at most, an hour of sleep that night. Though she needed a lot less than she used to, she still needed to sleep more than that. It’d been a long night.

 

“What?” the Doctor asked at her sigh. He pulled back so he could see her face.

 

“We need to sleep,” she told him.

 

“Physically, yes,” he agreed as if it pained him and she remembered that he’d used to need very little sleep and would often go days between his naps. “But I don’t think I could, even if I wanted to.”

 

“Yeah, me either.” She became aware of his fingers at her waist. During the hug, her nightshirt had ridden up and his fingers were just touching her bare skin. If he wanted to, he could have tickled her.

 

His fingers barely moved, not much more than a twitch. Combined with the knowledge of where they were and the memory of just what those fingers were capable of, it was enough to make her shiver. His fingertips began moving back and forth in a slow, deliberate pattern. He leaned in and put his forehead against hers.   

 

“You’re projecting,” he told her in a low, amused voice. It took her a second to realize what he was talking about and felt embarrassment. She tried to concentrate on not projecting, but the Doctor kissed her before she could.

 

“Don’t stop. I like it,” she heard in her mind. He pulled her closer to him and ran his hands up her back under the nightshirt. The change in their moods was abrupt, but she was glad for it, in more ways than one.

 

The mental leakage went both ways, though. She felt his lust, which presented as need, she felt his love, even felt his fear, which was driving his actions. Those made sense, but the small undercurrent of disgust didn’t make any at all.

 

She pulled back and went to close herself off mentally, but the Doctor held her tighter, trying to keep her from moving away. Suddenly, it was like he pushed at her in her head, and she saw a jumble of images and feelings. Times he looked at her when she didn’t know; how he felt the night before as his fingers moved inside her; how he felt right then. Mixed in with those images was the disgust, and she nearly forced it all to stop until she realized what he was trying to show her.

 

The disgust was with himself. He thought of himself as dirty, broken. It wasn’t right to WANT - He broke both physical and mental contact with her and stepped back, not able to meet her eyes.

 

“Doctor?” He shut his eyes tight. “Doctor? Look at me.”

 

He left his eyes closed, but finally spoke to her. “I’m sorry. I shouldn’t’ve pushed. I-” He let out a growl of frustration and sat heavily on the foot of the bed, muttering about control.

 

Rose, knowing with absolute certainty what he really wanted and frustrated as hell from years of wanting and days of nearly having, rushed forward and pushed the Doctor backwards. With a yelp, he landed on his back, looking up at her with wide, questioning eyes. “Rose?”

 

“This is where you’ve got it all wrong, Doctor. It isn’t about being in control .” She quickly climbed up onto the bed, over his legs and straddled his waist, not bothering to be sensual about it. She kept her hips up, though, not quite ready to make that move. The Doctor laid beneath her, staring up at her with his jaw open a little. Rose was sure he wasn’t breathing.

 

“Wha- What’s it about, then?” he gasped out.

 

“It’s about wanting , even needing ,” she spoke in a lower voice, then leaned forward and put her hands on either side of his head so she could hold her face close to his. He licked his lips and glanced down at hers, but still wasn’t making a move.

 

“It’s about giving in to desire,” she explained in a whisper and kissed him softly. He finally responded to her touch and she felt his hands slide around her waist as he deepened the kiss. She pulled back and he lifted up with her a little before their lips separated.

 

“My Doctor,” she nearly moaned. “This is all about losing control .” With her last words, she finally let her hips drop a little and ground against his hips, feeling the length underneath the clothes separating them.

 

The Doctor cried out her name and sat up, flipping her sideways and on her back. The movement left her stunned, and not just because of the twinge in her chest from the wound that was still healing.

 

He settled in between her legs and stared down at her. She could tell he was still thinking too much, so reached down and stroked him through his pajamas. He gasped, then in a quick motion, pulled her hand off of himself and held it down on the bed over her shoulder. Her other hand joined on the other side a moment later. “Stop that,” he growled at her and nipped at her lips before kissing her quickly. He really hadn’t been joking about being rough with her. And what was with his reaction to being touched?

 

“Why?” she blurted out as soon as his lips left hers. “I wanna touch you.”

 

The Doctor was kissing down her neck. “Over.” Kiss “Too.” Kiss. “Soon.” He ground against her and she moaned out his name, happy that she was affecting him so much.

 

But just as suddenly as he’d flipped her over, he disappeared from over her, scrambling off of the bed. Rose indignantly got up as well, turning to ask him what was wrong this time. But her anger quickly evaporated when she saw the square foil packet he’d pulled out of the drawer of his nightstand.

 

“Oh, this is happening,” he assured her with a grin.

 

“We don’t need-” she started and gestured at the condom in his hand, blushing.

 

“It’s not for- well, not just for that, though I do need to do some testing, just to make sure.” He rubbed the back of his neck with his hand and admitted that, “It’s for you, and, well, me, I suppose. Wanna have some fun before the finale, hmm? Same reason I won’t let you touch me, yet. Oh, you will. I’ve plans for that mouth. Oh.” He startled at what he said, cocked his head to the side, and smiled. “I’m a bit forward now, aren’t I? Is that alright?”

 

She nodded, giggled, and moved to take her t-shirt off, but he barked out, “Stop! Don’t you dare remove a stitch.” She froze, unsure of what was going on as the Doctor came toward her. His moods shifted so quickly. “I wanna do it.”

 

His hands went to her waist and tugged her the last few inches toward him as he slammed his lips against hers. She could feel the corner of the packet in his hand scratching her back as his hands moved under her shirt. Then he started tugging it off of her. Their kiss broke when they needed to get the fabric over her head, but instead of returning to her lips, he looked down at her bare chest and licked his lips.

 

Before she could reassure him, he tentatively reached out and cupped her left breast in his hand. His thumb grazed the nipple, and she let out a sigh that was also his chosen name.

 

“So this is okay?” he asked softly, moving his other hand up to do the same to the other breast and watching her reactions. She didn’t miss the way his eyes kept flicking up to the scar from her wound, which looked months old by that point.

 

“Yessss,” she hissed out as his fingers touched her. He bent down slowly and licked the hardened peak, then moved his head and licked the other one for good measure before moving down her stomach, kissing, licking, and sometimes even biting at her skin a little. He really liked having his mouth on her. The thought made her flush and wonder what it’d feel like between her legs for more than a single swipe.

 

He dropped to his knees, kissing at her lower stomach, just above the line of her pajama pants. He brushed against the fabric, growled at it, and suddenly, he grabbed and yanked the waistband down, taking her knickers as well. She was surprised nothing had torn with the force he’d used.

 

“On the bed, now,” he ordered and she happily complied, sitting down and getting ready to scoot back some. He expedited her movements by yanking her legs up so he could finish taking off the sleeping trousers. The fabric flew across the room as she realized she was completely bare in front of him.

 

But he was still fully dressed, condom in hand and hair standing up in all directions with a bulge in his pants. At that moment, he didn’t look like the powerful Time Lord he was. He was just a man. He stood staring down at her, with an expression of awe he’d rarely had in all the years she’d known him, but she’d always seen directed at her. She wanted to tease him, then, to get him moving again, but she couldn’t speak.

 

“You may want to get comfortable,” he warned her in a near whisper.

 

“How do you want me?” she asked. He obviously had a plan, and she was happy to let him take the lead, now that he’d decided to follow through.

 

He licked his lips and swallowed. “On your back,” he said after a second. She scooted around on the bed, getting herself comfortable as the Doctor climbed back on top of it near her feet.

 

Rose had expected the Doctor to climb up her body and kiss her, but instead, he stayed down by her legs and ran his hands up them, focusing all of his attention on where he was touching. When he got to her knees, he pushed them apart and situated himself between her legs.

 

When he’d gotten to where he wanted to be, which exactly mimicked where they had been just moments before stopping the night before, he slowly looked up her body, then hesitated. She could feel his uncertainty.

 

“Doctor? Please,” she begged. “Touch me.”

 

“I love you,” he blurted out.

 

“I love you too,” she told him softly.

 

“Am I dreaming?” he asked hoarsely.

 

“No, Doctor, this is all real,” she told him. “This is real and you’re not gonna ‘urt me.” She wiggled her hips. “Now, please, touch me.”

 

He looked into her eyes and swallowed. “Rose Tyler, your wish is my command.” With those words, he put his hands on the insides of her thighs and pushed them farther apart. His right hand slid up her thigh and over her center, where he pressed and she sighed. He smiled and moved his hand back and forth over her gently while he began massaging her thigh with his other hand.

 

Suddenly, he flipped the hand at her center and slid a finger inside of her. “It’s very slick in there, isn’t it?” he said conversationally. “That’s nice. Allows me to do this.” He withdrew the finger and added another, sliding them both in roughly.

 

“Oh!” Rose squeaked.

 

“Too rough?” he asked, pulling his fingers out of her.

 

“Doctor, don’t stop!” she cried out and smacked the hand on her thigh.

 

“Good.” He pushed his fingers back inside and used his other thumb to rub her nub. Amid her moaning and panting, she heard him speaking low, probably to himself. “...Because I don’t think I’m a gentle type of man.”

 

She was, to her own surprise, fine with that. Everything the Doctor did felt amazing. Then he did something odd. He took his fingers out of her, bent down, and sniffed her. It was different enough to send her back from the edge of what would have been the most amazing and all encompassing orgasm of her life.

 

But then his tongue darted out and she decided that if that was what he liked, so be it. At first, he kissed her like he kissed her mouth, then started licking her everywhere. After a minute, he shifted to get more comfortable and returned his fingers to her folds as he concentrated on the little bundle of nerves with his tongue.

 

She grabbed his hair, partially out of instinct and partially to be sure he wouldn’t bloody stop this time. He groaned and that tiny bit of vibration was the last thing she needed. Her whole body stiffened as she came and she threw her head back in ecstasy.

 

The Doctor’s eyes met hers and he stared at her as he kept licking and moving his fingers within her, not slowing down until she started shaking. At that point, he withdrew his fingers and gave her two last, slow licks that had her jerking away from him. He then moved his oral attention away from her center to her thigh, where he nipped at the skin between kisses.

 

“You alrigh’ there?” he asked in a drunken voice after a few seconds.

 

Rose, who was gasping for breath, nodded, then realized he probably couldn’t see her, so gave him a thumbs up. At his laugh, she started laughing too. “That was- that- wow,” she said.

 

“Good, huh?” he asked smugly, wiping off his chin and grinning at her.

 

“Shut up.”

 

“Just imagine when I actually know what I’m doing,” he bragged and rubbed her again, causing her to shudder and buck up.

 

“Gimme a mo’,” she said. “‘M not ready for more just yet.”

 

“Mmm, I am,” he replied and finally took off his own shirt. As he did so, she sat up so she could get closer to him. She rubbed her hands along his stomach and kissed him softly, tasting herself on him.  

 

“‘S your turn,” she told him and grabbed the waistband of his trousers. She started pulling them down, but had to stop because of his manhood catching on the elastic. The Doctor quickly helped her get them down and kicked the cotton off his legs as he kissed her.  

 

“Where’s-?” he asked, looking around and spotted his target lying at the edge of the bed. He released her and picked up the little foil packet, tearing it open. He looked at the small, purplish object inside and flipped it to determine the right way to use it.

 

Rose, who really wanted an excuse to touch him, took it from him and placed it on the tip of him, rolling it out slowly, as if she were trying to bring him off with her hands moving in one direction alone.

 

The Doctor hissed at her touch, closed his eyes, and balled his fists, muttering what had to be curses in several different languages with her name mixed in.

 

“Problem, Doctor?” she asked, grinning at him and he opened his eyes.

 

“Ready?” he growled at her.

 

“Do it, lose control with me,” she told him and suddenly found herself picked up and put right back where she was when he was licking at her. This time, however, he kissed her lips instead as he situated his hips between her legs. He brushed at her and they both gasped.

 

He reached between them and grasped himself, lining himself up with her before pushing his length into her slowly. He wasn’t huge, but he was a decent size and it’d been so long since she was with anyone. Without all the preparation he’d already done to her, it might have hurt.

 

He stared into her eyes as he did so, and only once he was all the way inside her did he break eye contact and groan. He pulled out just a little with a hiss, then pushed back in, shuddering a little. His next thrust was a little bit longer and Rose quickly realized he was experimenting. It didn’t take him long to find a rhythm he liked.

 

The Doctor kept trying to stare into her eyes as he made love to her, but he had trouble keeping them open and eventually gave up, preferring to bury his face in her neck instead. Little grunts, moans, and the occasional use of their names were all the language either of them had at their disposal by the time his rhythm started faltering.

 

He sped up, pushing harder with each thrust and Rose’s walls clenched around him. She dug her fingernails into his shoulders and cried out his name. The Doctor grabbed her hips and slammed himself as far inside of her as he could, pulsing within her. His fingers dug into her hips and she was sure she’d have bruises, but even more sure she didn’t care.

 

He collapsed on top of her, barely catching himself so he didn’t hurt her, his breath coming in shallow gasps. Rose rubbed his back with one hand and ran her fingers through his hair with the other as they both gathered their wits about them.

 

The Doctor finally lifted his head from her shoulder and looked at her. He looked dazed. “I finally get it,” he told her.

 

“Get what?”

 

“Why humans spend so much time thinking about doing this. It’s- It’s.” He shifted and groaned, where he was still inside of her. “Fuck.”

 

She giggled and sighed as he left her body completely. “‘S why they call it fuckin’, yeah?”

 

He rolled onto his back and laughed. “It’s Germanic in origin, related to words for moving back and forth, copulation, pushing, and striking,” he said staring at the ceiling, still breathing hard.

 

That sounded about right. She rolled over and put her head on her hand, the other one went to his bare chest. The Doctor immediately grabbed it and threaded his fingers with hers. She took the opportunity to gaze at his body completely bare to her, having not had the chance to do so before. His entire body was a runner’s body, but she couldn’t help but stare at the part of his body that had been within her. It lay against his stomach, still encased in the condom.

 

He looked over at her and smiled, then saw where she was looking. “As much as I wanna never leave your body, I don’t think I can do that again very soon,” he told her, moving so they could cuddle together.

 

“‘S not that,” she told him, “but you migh’ wanna get that off before it ‘urts.”

 

He jerked back and looked down in dismay at himself, groaning. “That explains it.”

 

“You forgot?” she asked, surprised and just a bit pleased with herself.

 

“I didn’t forget, I just temporarily-”

 

“Forgot.” she teased and he groaned.

 

“Back in a tick.” He got up and started heading out of the room.

 

Rose stretched languidly and called after him. “Imagine what this woulda been like without it!” She laughed at his curse, the one with the Germanic beginnings.

 

When he returned, in much less than a minute, he pulled the covers up over them both and curled up with her, with her head on his chest. She felt so good and happy. Years of tension had bled out in just minutes. For so long, she was sure she’d never be with him like this and would have had to remain content with what she had.

 

The two of them laid silently for a minute, each lost in their own thoughts, or so she had thought. It wasn’t long before she realized that the biggest gob in the universe was silent for an awfully long time.

 

Rose lifted her head and looked down at the peaceful face of a sleeping Doctor. She smiled at him and put her head back down on his chest, hearing the slowed beat of his single, human heart.