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River Of Time

Chapter Text

XxXxXxXx

Time is like water flowing over the land. At first, it's simple, a little trickle. As more possibilities are added, the trickle turns into a creek, then a stream, then finally, into a river.

Through each step of the way, each centimeter traveled, the water doesn't always move at the same speed, or even always in the same direction. It swirls. It twists. Fixed points jut out like boulders, forcing the flow in a different direction, even churning the currents into a deadly froth.

Sometimes, the water all but stops in a place, forming ponds and lakes before it continues on its journey.

But the water, like Time itself, relentlessly moves toward a destination. It might stop, turn in on itself, and go in circles, but there is always an end.

All ends are also beginnings.

XxXxXxXx

"These look like the classic little green men," Rose told the Doctor as they strode through the Anthona festival in Alteria, the biggest city on Asgard.

They were surrounded by festival goers. They were all different sizes and shapes, and all were going on with their lives peacefully. Many of the people were of one type: tall and thin, with heads that looked like they were a bit too large for their bodies. They even had the large eyes and small mouths.

"That's not this lot," the Doctor told her. "Those are more grayish and from Rinlo." Rose shook her head and smiled, never entirely sure if he was having her on or not when he said things like that. She blamed an incident when he was in the first body she knew him in, where he tried to get her to believe one of the Muppets were really an alien and laughed about it.

"I'm still waiting for Thor," Rose teased.

"Ah, the Norse god of thunder is overrated," the Doctor replied, looking a little jealous. "There are eighteen different planets with sentient species that take the name Asgard independently," he lectured.

They stopped at a stall where brightly colored kinetic toys were displayed. Rose picked up a red, spinning toy and examined it, trying to decide whether or not it would be a good gift for her brother's fourth birthday.

"For Tony?" the Doctor asked from over Rose's shoulder. At her nod, he said, "I think he'll love it." He handed the vendor a few coins. The vendor thanked them and handed the Doctor the box for the toy.

While moving through the market, they also found some mercury putty and a toy spaceship. Mercury putty was a lot like the silly putty of Rose's time, but was silver colored and more motile.

A couple of people who looked like humans went by, holding hands and talking animatedly. Both of them had shocking red hair. The Doctor watched them go by with a grin on his face.

"You aren't being jealous, are ya?" Rose teased.

"Oh, no," he said sincerely. "They're newlyweds. Married just last week. In a month or so, she'll find out she's expecting."

"Awww," Rose cooed. "That kid's gonna have some seriously red hair, and I wouldn't want that skin," she commented.

"Me either," the Doctor admitted with a chuckle. "Their very strawberry daughter is going to make great strides in biomechanical research," he said.

She still wasn't used to that. The Doctor didn't used to point out details about random people's lives back when he was still one person. He'd say something about how so and so would go on to do great things, or their children would, sure. But it had always been people who had helped them or they saved.

This part human Doctor did it often. It was a deeper version of people watching, she figured. The other Doctor had started doing it a little bit too, but rarely.

"I wish I could do that," Rose said. "Get a glimpse into people's lives like that. I used to sit in the park and watch people. I'd try to figure out who they were by how they dressed, or how they acted."

She knew she had the ability to see timelines, but she could apparently only access the ability by accident or when asleep. It'd been the cause of close to half of her nightmares, and some good dreams too. The Doctors theorized that if she could gain control of her ability, she'd have a lot less nightmares.

Both Doctors had tried a couple of times to teach her how to follow the timelines, but so far, nothing worked. All Rose had been able to accomplish were massive headaches and confusion. Because of the headaches, it wasn't something they tried often.

"You can," the Doctor confidently asserted. "You'll learn to control the ability. Just remember that it's not all good stories." He wrapped his arm around her. "You've got something we don't have, though. You won't be having to block it out all the time. It should make it easier to lock on and follow a handful of possibilities."

"That's what he said last time we tried it," Rose told the Doctor. "Speakin' of 'imself, when are we supposed to meet up with 'im?"

"In, oh, about 27 minutes," the Doctor replied. He looked around at the festival and added, "Actually, we should probably start moving that way."

They were on Asgard to see the Dance of the Moons, a show only put on one day a year, when all four moons could be seen in the sky at one time.

Traditionally, the Dance of the Moons was observed while taking part in a picnic style meal. The people of Asgard would come from all over. Since their population was so low, the audience would have plenty of room. The Anthona Festival and the Dance had started becoming an attraction, though, and because of that, the Dance of the Moons had started being organized. Where a family could walk in to the grounds and pop their blanket anywhere they wanted to before, they now had to obtain tickets that told them where they could lay out their spread.

The locals didn't want to give up the tradition of picnicking while the dance was going on, so it had become hard to get one of the limited passes. This year's Dance was supposed to be extraordinary.

The current wait for passes was ten years, and psychic paper didn't work on these people. Good thing they had a time machine. The Doctor with two hearts popped back in time to get them passes. They'd have all gone, but, like the man standing next to her had said, the TARDIS would get back for sure if they were there.

They slowly made their way to the ancient crater turned amphitheater where the Dance was going to take place, stopping once to watch a street performer doing something with a glass ball that made it look like it was flying around.

Two minutes before they were due to meet the other Doctor, Rose felt her bonds with the ancient TARDIS, the Time Lord inside, and the TARDIS coral inside snap back into place. He was back.

They went to the TARDIS to meet up with the other Doctor. Just as they got to the blue box, the Time Lord stepped out, carrying the picnic basket.

"I take it you got the passes?" Rose asked the Doctor in brown.

"Yes, I did. As if that was ever in any doubt. I did one better, though," the Doctor declared, grinning. "I got us a good spot."

"Ooohh," Rose enthused.

The trio of time travelers went to the field that the Dance was performed in. After checking in and finding the spot marked with their pass number, they laid out the blanket and settled in to watch the show that would start soon.

"Oh, we picked up your present for Tony too," the Doctor in blue told his twin as he pulled out a plate of nibbles.

"Ooh, goodie. What'd I get him?" the other Doctor asked.

"Mercury putty," Rose answered.

"He'll love that," the Time Lord replied happily. "Jackie might not, though," he realized, pulling a face.

The Doctor in blue shook his head and said, "Well, then, you should have chosen your own gift."

"It'll be okay," Rose assured him.

XxXxXxXx

They relaxed and watched the people around them. The blanket next to them had three older kids fighting over who would sit where until their parents sat them down and told them that was where they were going to sit. The blanket to the other side had a couple who were feeding each other small fruits. They called each other, "Sweetheart," and, "Dear." Various people who obviously knew one another were waving to and visiting one another. Two of the people were probably Time travelers as well. When they met each other, instead of asking the usual, "Hey, how are you? How long has it been?" they asked, "How long has it been for you?"

"You ever think we should have pet names?" the part human Doctor asked, watching the couple next to him. Gods, they were disgustingly sweet. Unfortunately, the most likely outcome for them was that they wouldn't last more than a year.

"Why would we need that?" his brown suited counterpart questioned, scoffing. "What we have now works just fine."

"Thank you for your opinion, Spaceman, but I was asking the other person with Earth based DNA," he shot back. Rose slapped his arm and pointed at him, wordlessly telling him to behave.

"See? We already have pet names," his twin responded, unperturbed.

"So, what do you think, Love?" the Doctor asked Rose, ignoring the man in the brown suit.

"Love?" she asked, grinning.

"Love," he confirmed, grabbing her hand and kissing it softly, as if it were a formal greeting.

"I like it," Rose told him.

"Ooh, is that-?" the other Doctor asked, perking up. There were people walking to the performance area at the bottom of the ancient crater. The other two Time travelers looked up and took the scene in as well.

"Looks like they're finishing the set up," Rose observed, gesturing to a few people carrying boxes.

"Won't be long now," the Doctor in blue commented enthusiastically. He pulled a few items out of the basket and handed each of them a drink and a bowl of fruits.

The last part of the setup happened quickly, the contents of the boxes were laid out over the area and the crew left. People around them started settling down and get ready to watch the show.

"The Dance will start when the first moon is fully visible," the Time Lord Doctor informed her. Rose looked up at the sky and could see the edge of one moon just poking over the edge of the crater.

"The first moon is called Vaniel. It's the slowest and the smallest of the four moons. The festival officially ends when it disappears on the other side of the crater. Technically, the festival really doesn't start until right now, but celebrations have been going on all day," the Doctor in blue explained.

The sun was going down quickly, turning the sky into various shades of blue and purple. A breeze kicked up and the air cooled considerably. Rose shuddered at the sudden chill and one of her jackets dropped on her shoulders a moment later. She looked back and smiled at the Doctors, not knowing which one had done it.

The lights in the pond that had formed at the based of the crater turned on and the pond turned into a swirling mass of color that reminded Rose of the colorful fiber optic toys from the time she came from. Every color of the rainbow, plus white moved around in circles in the water.

Rose could feel the excitement coming off of all the people around them. It was so strong, she could almost taste it. It made her feel jittery, so she closed her empathic abilities down so she could enjoy the show herself.

After a couple more minutes, a light instrumental music started up. It was a slow, plucking melody that reminded Rose of the melody that played in cartoons when someone was stalking someone else. Dancers came down from the crater, moving between the rows of people in time with the beat. Each dancer was wearing purely white clothing that fluttered as they moved toward the pond.

Once each dancer made it to the bottom of the pond, they started dancing in a circle, the clothing they wore changed colors as they moved around.

The show told the story of the four sisters who became the moons. The show included dancers who were flying over the pond using anti-gravity devices. The Doctors explained that the anti-gravity was a recent development. They had used wires before, but the technology had allowed them to tell their story better.

Rose watched, entranced. The show was beautiful. The moons themselves were incorporated into the story. The dancers would draw the spectators' attention to the sky whenever a key event took place, such as another moon appearing.

The first part of the show ended, and Rose turned her attention back to the Doctors, both of which were holding her hands.

"This is brilliant," Rose told them happily.

"I'm glad you love it," the Doctor in brown replied. "Credit where credit's due, though. It was his idea to come today."

Rose leaned over to the part human Doctor. "Thank you," she said, giving him a kiss. He hummed in happiness.

The other Doctor was digging around in the basket they had brought with them and pulled out a thermos with an, "Aha!"

The Doctor she had just kissed reached out his hand and took the thermos from him. He opened it up, sniffed the contents, and exclaimed, "Oh, Rose, you're gonna love this! Should have some crushed ice, though." He looked at his twin with his eyebrow raised.

"I got us the passes. I got us the basket. What more do you want from me?" he asked in defense.

"Crushed ice," he replied simply. When the Time Lord rolled his eyes, and Rose shook her head, he laughed and said, "I'll go get us some." He got up, and took off. All three of them knew that the ice wouldn't last long enough to have brought it with them, not for their purposes anyway.

Rose watched him walk up toward the edge of the crater with appreciation. The Doctor turned back and winked after she sent a thought to him. When she turned back to the Doctor in the brown pinstriped suit, she asked. "Do I ever tell you how much I appreciate those tight trousers?"

XxXxXxXx

The Doctor watched Rose watching the show out of the corner of his eye. She was enjoying it, he could tell.

He himself had wanted to take in this particular show for a long time, but with many centuries ahead of him, he kept putting it off. This wasn't the case anymore. He had a humanish lifespan with human physical weaknesses. And now, because of it, he wanted to get the one time only things on his bucket list done.

This show was the third Dance of the Moons after they incorporated anti-gravity. They'd learned how to use it to its potential and the creativity of the choreographers was at an all time high. It made for a stunning display.

After the first half of the Dance was over, he took the chance to get some crushed ice for their Arkinplor slushies. As he walked up to the drinks stand, he heard, "Nice bum," in his mind in that dual layered voice Rose had mentally. He turned back and winked at her before continuing up.

At the stand, the Doctor picked up his bucket of ice and turned around. Right in front of him stood a woman with a familiar face, one he hadn't thought about in close to a year.

Oh, no. This wasn't going to end well. He'd hoped he wouldn't see that face again for a long time. And he was having such a nice day.

"I knew it had to be you. You're the only one that ever wears that suit. Nice bum." She winked and clicked her tongue. "I've been looking for you everywhere here." Then she said something that made his blood run cold.

"Hello, Sweetie."

Chapter Text

The Doctor heard, "Hello Sweetie," and he swore his heart stopped. Which was not a good thing, seeing as he only had the one.

Memories came flooding back from just over a year before.

"Now, let's see, where are we?" River opened up a blue book that looked sort of like the TARDIS and started flipping through it, naming adventures. One of them was called "Picnic at Asgard."

"You know when you see a photograph of someone you know, but it's from years before you knew them. And it's like they're not quite finished. They're not done yet. Well, yes, the Doctor's here. He came when I called, just like he always does. But not my Doctor..."

"Funny thing is, this means you've always known how I was going to die. All the time we've been together, you knew I was coming here..."

"There's only one reason I would ever tell anyone my name. There's only one time I could!"

No, this wasn't possible. The letter paradox that had kept Rose and himself in this universe should have changed the time lines. Why would River Song still be acting flirtatiously and calling him Sweetie? Unless... No, just no. None of the known possibilities were good. Not one of them.

He felt an inquiry from the other Doctor about the shock he'd just received. He relayed what happened, and felt fear coming from him. He was glad that Rose had closed off her telepathic abilities in order to enjoy the scene around her without interference.

"Hello River," he replied stiffly. "What are you doing here?"

"I was given these coordinates and told to come here when I was sent to Liemma," she told him.

"Andromeda Galaxy, Hoag's Object, or-"

"Whirlpool Galaxy," River said. "5087," she added. She looked at him with brows furrowed. "Sweetie? What's wrong?"

"You're calling him 'Sweetie', for starters," his counterpart grumbled in his mind. She reached out a hand towards him, and he involuntarily stepped back a half step. This woman from his own future was someone they owed their lives to, but he didn't want anything to do with most of the possible problems she represented.

"I'm alright," he told River. She gave him a look that said she knew better, but dropped the matter, at least for the time being.

"What's going on on Liemma in the Whirlpool Galaxy in 5087?" he asked.

"I have no idea. Haven't arrived yet," she replied. "But if you sent me here to get you, it must be important."

"Why were you sent there?" he queried.

"Because it's my job, and there's some rather interesting ruins there," she answered, as if that should be obvious. "What's with the third degree?"

"Can't a guy know what he's getting into before he's in it?" he asked.

"Yeah, I guess," River replied, looking a little confused at his behavior. "Alright then, where are we? Looks like some kind of festival."

"You don't know?" he wondered.

"I was just given coordinates," she informed him.

"This is the Anthona Festival on Asgard," he informed her.

"Oh! The Dance of the Sisters of Anthona!" she exclaimed, calling the Dance of the Moons by one of its other names.

"Yes, that," he said.

"I've seen one before," she reminisced. River then looked up at the sky. "It's already begun," she realized.

"Nothing else to do. Bring her down here and let's get this over with," his twin commented.

"Nah. I thought I'd just jeep her standing here and miss what I wanted to see," he snarked back. "Come on, then, let's see the end of it," he beckoned to River. He tucked his bucket of crushed ice under his arm and walked off toward the crater.

He arrived back at their spot and handed his other self the bucket of ice to put into the glasses he'd already poured. "Looks like we've got a visitor," he told Rose as he sat in his spot. River's appearance wasn't going to change his plans. He was going to eat their picnic, watch the show, and enjoy his day with his little family.

XxXxXxXx

When the Doctor came back, he handed his bucket of ice to the Time Lord beside her and went back to his spot. "Looks like we've got a visitor," he said as he sat back down in his spot.

"We do?" she asked, confused. "Who?" Rose looked around, and saw a woman standing right there, looking down at the three of them. The very first feature she noticed about the woman was her hair. Lions' manes had nothing on her dirty blonde locks. The woman wore a mostly white outfit and brown leather boots.

"Hello, Rose!" she greeted. Rose stared at her in shock. Who the hell was this woman? How did she know her? Was she someone she'd forgotten?

"Er," she started. Better make it seem like she knew her, at least vaguely. "Hello!" She waved.

"River stopped by. We told her to come here and get us," the Doctor who had just come back informed her quickly. Oh, so she was from their future. But they knew her already, or there would be a lot of questions.

River looked back and forth between the Doctors with a grin. "Oh, It's such a rare treat to see the two of you looking exactly the same." She then gave a wink to Rose. "How fun!"

Rose opened her telepathic sense just a little to try to get a read on the woman. The emotions of the people around her could be managed for the most part. It alarmed her how much she had started to come to rely on that ability.

Both Doctors had fear and guilt, coming off them in droves. She couldn't get anything off of River, though. A couple two spots over were arguing, and the kids next door were annoying their parents and each other. The couple who'd been calling each other endearments earlier were being lustful. She had to close herself off again, or risk being overwhelmed.

Before she could do so, though, she was distracted by the Doctor in brown, holding her drink out to her. She took the thick concoction, which reminded her of a mudslide. It was thick, chocolaty, and had a slight alcohol smell to it.

"Tark'alleen ya on're?" Rose asked the Doctor in a low voice in Gallifreyan. Exactly who is she?

"Lye'en tiedä," the Doctor in brown whispered back. We don't know.

For a second, terror filled River's entire being, then she stamped it down and Rose couldn't feel a thing coming from her again. Knowing that River had control over what she allowed out like that, Rose closed herself off and took a sip of her drink.

"Mmmm!" she exclaimed, causing both Doctors and River to laugh.

"Told you you'd like it," the Doctor in blue teased.

"It's the chocolate," River commented. "They always use Lomitsian chocolate for this. Best in four galaxies."

"How do you know us?" Rose asked.

River looked sad for a moment before she answered. "We never meet in the right order. I never know how things will be when I meet up with you. Is this the first time you've met me?" At Rose's nod, she continued. "Well then. A proper introduction is in order, since these two are so very rude," she joked to twin protests. "I'm Professor River Song, archaeologist."

"An archaeologist?" Rose asked, her eyebrow raised.

"Yes, I am quite aware of what the three of you get up to as a hobby. It's quite annoying to open a tomb from the sixth century and have a coin from the eighteenth in there," River told her, trying to look stern. She then sighed and admitted, "Oh, well, I've played along. Left a watch ring in a sixteenth century tomb just because I knew who would open it."

Rose laughed. "I bet I like you." River just winked at her. "What're ya jus' standin' there for? Sit down."

"I wanted to get going as soon as I got here. I didn't want to ruin your night out," River said.

"Nah, we've got plenty," Rose told her.

"Something I've learned is how to relax and enjoy a moment. Sit down, River. Watch the end of the show, and we'll all go do whatever we sent you here to get us to do later. We do have a time machine, you know," the Doctor in blue spoke up suddenly.

"As I'm well aware of," River said, laughing. "Three of them!" At Rose's confused look, she clarified, "I know it happened early. You're all obviously comfortable now, so don't you have two TARDIS's and a vortex manipulator?"

"Oh, yeah, but the little TARDIS isn't operational yet," Rose replied.

River looked like she was about to say something else, but the booming noise of a drum started, letting people know that the second half of the show was about to start. The Doctor in blue pulled Rose onto his lap and wrapped his arms around her waist, the Doctor in brown scooted closer to them, and River took the space where he had just been sitting, so they could all see the show.

The show started a moment later, and Rose, still on the Doctor's lap, was enjoying watching it. As she moved to get comfortable, she settled her head right over his heart, and the drumming noise it made relaxed her.

XxXxXxXx

The Doctor was uncomfortable, to say the least. He was sandwiched between his other self, with Rose on his lap, and River Song, who would one day know his name- or maybe already knew it. River, who's death he'd already seen.

As they all watched the show, he noticed that River would occasionally peek over at Rose with a soft smile on her face. If one of them were supposed to be marrying River, wouldn't she be a bit jealous?

No, not if it were this him. She was on his other self's lap after all. In an experiment, and because he wanted to, he reached over and entwined his fingers with Rose's. She looked over at him, grinned, and gave his hand a squeeze. Even with her closed off because of the crowd, he could feel her through their bond with the added skin to skin contact. She was happy, not that he needed to feel her to be able to tell that.

A quick glance at River showed her to not be paying any attention to the three of them at that moment. She was watching the show and nibbling on a small plate she'd been given. The next time she glanced over at Rose, though, she looked sad for a second, then smiled like she had been all along and went back to watching the show. What was that about?

"Sweetie, you wouldn't happen to have some water in that basket, would you?" she asked.

Instantly, Rose's hand tightened on his, and she lifted her head off of his twin's chest to glare at River. There was a reaction that was completely expected. Rose had always had a jealous streak, even long before they were officially together.

He leaned forward and grabbed a water bottle out of the basket, handing it to her as if it were absent minded, pretending to be engrossed in the show.

Rose leaned out a bit more, not letting the term of endearment go. Part of him wanted her to just lean back where she was and relax, the other part was happy with her jealousy. He squeezed her hand and sent a warning, but she completely ignored him.

"Sweetie?" she asked, venom in her voice. His other self visibly tightened his arms around Rose's waist. River nearly choked on her water. She looked over at Rose with confusion evident. Then understanding dawned, and River started laughing.

"I forgot about that!" she exclaimed. "And I had warning too. You'll understand someday." She turned her attention to the Doctor in brown. "She gets so jealous, and that never changes. There's a spoiler you're allowed to have."

River's reaction made him smile. A glance over at Rose and his twin showed the other Doctor to be smiling as well. What she said inferred that Rose doesn't leave either of them, at least not during the time River knew the three of them.

Rose leaned back against the other Doctor and turned her attention back to the show. He didn't miss the way Rose started glancing over at River every now and then, like she didn't quite trust her.

Well, he didn't quite trust her either.

XxXxXxXx

When the show finished, River helped the Doctors and Rose quickly pack up their picnic and left the crater, ahead of most of the other people, many of whom were chatting animatedly.

They four of them made a beeline for the TARDIS, with the Time Lord in the lead. Once inside, the others took off their jackets and flung them over the struts to either side and the railing and walked up to the console in a move that was well practiced.

River stood nearby the door and looked over the console room. It'd been so long since she'd seen this room as it was at the moment, and she'd only met the Doctors and Rose as they were now once. They were extremely early in their timeline. She patted the coral strut that had the brown trench coat laid over it, feeling the ship's welcome. The TARDIS seemed very happy to see her.

She sighed, knowing she'd probably never see them like this again. This was Rose's first time seeing her, and the Doctor in brown admitted he didn't know who she really was. He'd done it in Gallifreyan, but he'd taught the language to her so very long ago. He just didn't know that yet.

The Doctor in the blue suit was so very young. He didn't even have the crinkles at the corners of his eyes yet. She could see where they would be when he smiled, they'd show up soon, but for now, his face was smooth. If it weren't for the different color suits, she wouldn't be able to tell the two men apart.

And then there was Rose. Still bouncy, bottle blonde, and wearing pink and blue more than any other color. The things she had in store for her-

"So, what was it you needed us for?" Rose asked, breaking her out of her thoughts.

"I don't know, all I know is that I was told to come get you here when I was being sent to Liemma," she told Rose, repeating what she'd said to the Doctor earlier.

"Coordinates?" the Doctor in the brown, pinstriped suit asked.

River rattled off the string of numbers and letters and the Doctor typed them in. The ship took off, rattling and shaking, and River held on to the railing. It was an extremely bumpy ride, and River was glad that the TARDIS smoothed out in the future.

She wished he'd run the TARDIS quieter, though. River hated that sound. It sounded like metal being ripped.

"We've arrived," the Time Lord Doctor announced when the hated sound stopped.

Chapter Text

River of Time Ch 3: Liemma

The Doctor in brown stepped out of the TARDIS first, followed by Rose, River, and the other Doctor. They had landed in a lush forest. The trees looked much like Earth trees, but had orange veins running through the leaves.

"Where are we?" Rose asked

"Liemma. Border planet of the Yilnaya Alliance in the Whirlpool Galaxy. The year is 5087, and it's going to rain in two hours," the Doctor in Brown said, sniffing the air.

"Oh, he thinks he's so impressive when he does that," River said, crossing her arms and shaking her head. She then took off towards her destination.

The Doctor narrowed his eyes at her. He noticed his other self doing the same. That was something Rose always said. He looked over to Rose, who was standing to the side, and looking at River thoughtfully. Rose then took off after River, and the Doctors had no choice but to follow.

"You've got a Vortex manipulator," Rose pointed out.

"Marks for observation," River replied. Oh, Rose hated it when people talked to her like that. He'd been bad at it in his previous body. He'd been the only one he knew of to get away with it, and even then, she'd glare at him.

"It looks like my Vortex manipulator," Rose clarified.

"Built in another universe," River confirmed.

"What are you doing with it?" Rose asked.

"You gave it to me," River said.

"So, you're saying that sometime in the future, I just, what, give you my Vortex manipulator?" Rose asked.

"Yep," River replied.

"But why?" Rose asked. "This thing's saved my life, and it's not like I can easily replace it or anything."

"Some time in the future, I just give you my screwdriver," he asked.

"Yeah," River replied.

"Why would I do that?" he wondered.

He pinched the bridge of his nose and looked over at his counterpart, who was doing the same. It was going to be a long day.

"Rose, I know you know about the paradoxes that could result from me telling you too much about your personal future. Besides, you don't really wanna know, do you? That'd spoil all the fun!" River explained as they walked into the camp.

"This is true," Rose admitted.

"Professor Song!" a male voice called out. "You're late!"

"I am not late, I arrived precisely when I meant to," River replied, to the laughter of most of the other workers in the camp.

XxXxXxXx

River got a breakdown of everything her team had found so far, and the Doctors and Rose stayed off to the side, watching the proceedings with boredom. They found some chairs, lined them up close to the dig, and started eating a bag of trail mix the Doctor in blue had in his pocket.

The part human Doctor had removed his glasses and used his sonic to activate a thin layer he'd put on them. The layer reacted to the sonic and turned the lenses dark. It was like the transitional lenses of River's parent's time, but without the downside of waiting for them to change between going from bright areas to darker areas. The other Doctor had also done the same to his glasses, but River knew he didn't need them, he just wore them to make him look good.

"It seems to me that this area here," Jian, one of the students, said, as he pointed out the base of a wall, "was a gathering space, where the family could come together."

"Wrong!" one of the Doctors called out. She turned to the three time travelers and glared at them. Both of the Doctors were pretending to be interested in anything but what they were doing at the dig site. The one in the blue suit had a book in his hand, but if he was reading, it was the slowest she'd ever seen either of them do so.

"What?" Rose asked innocently, picking through the bag to get to the nuts.

"Okay, then, what is it?" she questioned, putting her hands on her hips.

"It's a bedroom," the Doctor in brown said, as if that were obvious.

"They didn't have proper family rooms," the other one added.

"That's the room the third queen of the Flominapolin Dynasty was conceived," the brown pinstriped Doctor claimed.

"Wonderful lady, made a mean smoothie," the one in holding the book reminisced.

"Which I'm sure you provided the fruit for," Rose chimed in.

"Of course!" they both exclaimed.

"Can't have a proper banana smoothie without bananas," the Doctor who needed his glasses informed her.

"And there weren't any growing naturally on Liemma," the other one finished.

River rolled her eyes. No matter the regeneration, the Doctor was the same in some ways, including weird little anecdotes that might or might not be true.

"So, it's a bedroom? How do you know?" Jian asked.

"They're time travelers," River replied.

Jian just nodded and made a note on his scanner. "So, it's sleeping chambers where the-"

"Don't put that other bit in," River interrupted him. "You can never tell which one of their stories are true or not."

"Oi!" both Doctors protested.

"Did you, or did you not once claim that one of the Muppets was an alien? Or-" The Doctors snickered.

"So gullible," the one in blue commented.

"Are you three enjoying yourselves over there?" she asked them.

"Yep," both Doctors replied.

"Snacks, entertainment," the Doctor in brown added, holding up a handful of banana chips.

"Comfy seating," the other one added, and River had to suppress a snort, thinking about something the Full Time Lord once said in his next regeneration.

"Thanks for the vacay." the first one finished. She knew they were just trying to annoy her, and it was working.

"I've got a question, River," Rose spoke up suddenly.

"I can't-" she started.

"No, it's nothing personal," Rose assured her. "It's a question about archaeology, specifically about the subject in this time period."

"Okay, shoot," she assented.

Rose sat up straighter, leaning forward a bit in what River recognized as the almost universal attentive student position. "He didn't even blink an eye when you said we were time travelers. That combined with the date, we're in the fifty-first century, yeah?" River nodded. "It suggests that time travel is not only thought possible in a general sense, but that it's already been invented from a human linear standpoint."

River nodded. "Yes," she answered. "The Time Agency has already been established."

"So, how comes you're looking at pot shards an' bits of wall to determine what life was like? Why not just pop back and watch?" Rose questioned.

Some of the other people at the dig laughed and River turned quickly to face them. "It is a perfectly legitimate question," she told them angrily. "If she knew, she wouldn't have asked."

XxXxXxXx

Rose was fully aware that the group in front of her were mostly university students and proper archaeologists, so she thought out her question and phrased it in what was supposed to be an intelligent manner. When they started laughing, she felt like sinking into her seat and disappearing.

This was one of her nightmares, and why she never attended any kind of official class in the other universe, even though she could have. River defended her, though, and the laughter stopped.

"You said you're a time traveler," one of the younger students said. "How come you don't know?"

"Not every time traveler is a time agent, Seiln," River replied in a condescending tone.

"Fifty-first century," the Doctor in brown began, catching Rose's attention, "For humans, time travel's highly regulated, as it should be. Only Time Agents are allowed to do it, and they're not archaeologists."

"They bring back information, of course," the Doctor on her other side said. "But there's so much history to go through, they couldn't possibly get all the details."

"And, it's nice to have the items on display," River told them. "Plus, I love a tomb."

"Well, I guess that's one reason to be an archaeologist," Rose replied.

"One of many," River agreed.

Later on, Rose had almost forgotten that they were there on some dire assignment their future selves had sent them on. Or so River said. She still wasn't sure what to make of the woman.

She'd gotten comfortable in her chair and had started to doze when she was shaken awake. "Wha'?" she asked.

"We know why we're here now," the Doctor's voice said. "Come on, we've got to get out of sight."

Rose jerked upright and looked around. The sun had started to set, but she could see glowing spots off in the distance. They were coming closer, and Rose could see what looked like tracers shooting toward the spots.

"Where is-?" Rose started, wondering where the other Doctor was.

"He's with River and the archaeologists, trying to keep them from taking up arms," the Doctor replied.

"What the hell is that light?" she asked, standing upright.

"We've stumbled into a battle of the war between the Sontarans and Rutans," he replied gravely.

Chapter Text

The Doctor was enjoying winding the archaeologists up in person. The information he was giving them about what was what was true, but most (okay, all but one) of the stories he added to the information were all false, not that he'd ever admit it. His part human other self was adding to the stories in such a way that most of the them believed what they were saying, which just made their picking on the people in the dig site so much better.

He was pretty sure that they were annoying a couple of them, though, and he knew they were wearing River's patience thin, which was fine with him. She'd showed up, interrupted their evening, and now they were sitting there, with...archaeologists. So far, no reason they were needed there had presented itself.

Rose had relaxed and nodded off in her seat between them even with the two of them commenting and the conversation from the dig. She could sleep anywhere, which was one of those things that hadn't changed in the decade for her since they'd met. He didn't blame her for taking an opportunity to nap. It'd been afternoon for her, relatively speaking, anything could happen at any moment, and she hadn't slept well the night before.

Rose had been dozing for about twenty minutes when he saw it: the trail that signified atmospheric entry of a space craft. That in and of itself wasn't that odd of an occurrence. People hopped from one planet to another all the time in the fifty-first century, but he was certain that trail wasn't made by a ship from the part of the galaxy they were in. The trail came down far over the horizon, and too far away for a scan with the sonic.

He'd need the TARDIS, which was a seventeen minute walk away in the other direction. The sun was near the horizon, and it would be dark before long. If he remembered right, there were some big creatures that came out at night, but he couldn't remember how dangerous they were. It had been at least six hundred years since he'd last been on the planet.

At the same time he decided he needed to make the walk, his counterpart sighed. "It's gonna drive me crazy if we don't figure out just what kind of ship that was."

River snickered when he said that. "I was wondering how long it was going to take one of you to start fidgeting about that," she commented. "Some things never change."

"Just how long have you known us, River?" the Doctor in brown asked.

"Oh, it seems like forever," she said, waving her hand. "Who can tell for sure when time travel's involved?"

The Doctor shook his head at the non answer and stood up. "I'll go check out what it was," he told his counterpart, who nodded. Neither of them had to say that the Doctor in the blue suit would keep an eye on River. They also silently agreed to leave Rose asleep for the moment. There was no need to wake her yet.

He walked toward the TARDIS, thinking about Rose and River and the nagging suspicion he was starting to have. He hoped it wasn't true, but it would explain much of what River had said the day he met her.

Was River actually Rose in the future? If so, why would she have said that was the youngest she'd ever seen him? Unless she'd forgotten. Rose was paranoid about forgetting things. It was why she was always taking pictures and writing in her journal. River had that blue journal that looked a bit like the side of the TARDIS. He was sure it was how she was keeping track of what he knew and didn't know, but what if it was more than that?

There was also the damning evidence of the sonic screwdriver and Rose's unique in this universe Vortex manipulator. It'd make sense if they were the same person, but if they were different people, how the hell was Rose convinced to give it up?

But if River wasn't Rose, then how did she know his name? He couldn't imagine giving his name to anyone but Rose, and he knew that neither his other self nor himself had given her their name yet. Rose knew it somehow, but not consciously.

One way or the other, he didn't like it. Every possibility he could think of was something he didn't want to be true.

He was so deep in his thoughts that he almost passed the TARDIS. He went in and walked directly to the console and scanned for what kind of ship had made that vapor trail. The scan took two seconds before he was back out the door.

XxXxXxXx

When River was finished what she was working on for the night, she sat in the chair vacated by the Doctor in the brown suit. She finally met the eyes of the other Doctor, who had been staring at her. He'd tried to hide it behind his book, but he did a poor job of it.

"You know, normally, I'd be flattered to have a man not be able to take his eyes off of me, but in this case, I'm somewhat insulted," she complained.

"Insulted, huh?" he replied.

"Yes. If Rose were awake, she'd call you out for being rude," River chided him.

"I know nothing about you. I only know what I saw today and what I saw when I met you. Who are you, River Song?" he asked pointedly. Oh, if they only knew, but they couldn't.

"Spoilers," she said bitterly. "I remember the day you found out who I was, and you were older, and genuinely shocked," she explained.

"Older. Right," he looked as if he were going to be sick, and River remembered that this was before he'd come to terms with his mortality. She knew that he'd come to terms with his humanity quickly, even properly enjoyed some parts of it, but it had taken several years before the mortality had sunk in and he'd quit fearing it.

"Oh, Doctor, in the future, you-" she started.

"River," the Doctor warned.

"Oh, it's okay, Sweetie. This won't affect the timelines any," she assured him.

"What would you know?" he snapped. "You're human."

"Not much more than you," she spoke automatically, then grimaced. She really shouldn't have said that.

The Doctor sat up all the way and turned sideways on the reclining chair. He looked down at Rose's sleeping form before he turned a piercing gaze on her. He stood up and motioned to River to follow him. When they got a bit away from Rose, he spun on her and asked, "I'm going to ask this plainly, 'cause I don't know, and it's driving me batty. Are you Rose?"

River burst out laughing. "Oh, my gods! That was-!" She wiped her eyes of tears and added. "Thanks, I needed that." Then she saw that he didn't look like he usually did after delivering a joke with a straight face and sobered up. "Doctor, tell me that was a joke."

The Doctor just raised his eyebrow. "Okay, not a joke," she responded. "You really think that?" she asked.

"It makes more and more sense the longer I watch you," he spoke.

"No, no, no, I am not her, I don't want to be her, and she doesn't want to be me," River denied. "Did you want me to be her?" she asked flirtatiously. She'd always flirted with both of them. It was fun. She enjoyed a relationship with both of the Doctors much like Rose's was with Jack. This time, however, her flirting wasn't returned.

The Doctor looked a bit sick. "So, she leaves then," he muttered, staring at the still sleeping form.

"Where the hell did you get that idea?" River scoffed. "Rose would never leave you, either of you! I mean, she does sometimes, but not like that and not for long in your timeline."

"What?" the Doctor asked, and River could tell he was confused. Hell, what she said was confusing, and big spoilers. She remembered that at this point, Rose's found TARDIS wasn't ready.

"So many things you can't know, not yet. It's all to come. Look at you, you're so young now. Last time I saw you, you were the oldest I'd ever seen," she told him softly and put one hand on his cheek while the other went to his chest, over his heart. He flinched and stepped back a bit. It killed River to have him flinch like that, but she couldn't show it. "You looked, oh, about fifty-five in human terms? Yeah, that's about right. You had this silver fox thing going on. Rowr."

"She'd never leave, but does sometimes?" he queried, ignoring the compliment on his future appearance. River sighed. She knew it'd be difficult to get him to forget her spoiler.

"Spoilers, Doctor," she said and turned to walk away, but the Doctor grabbed her arm and held her still.

"River," he warned, in a low voice. "You had better not be playing games with us," he warned, leaving the threat unsaid. In that second, she remembered that this Doctor was even scarier than the other one when he was riled up. Something about having that shorter life paradoxically made him take more risks and made him more dangerous. And at this point in their timeline, none of them knew her.

It was terrifying. And it made her remember why she had been so fixated on him when she was younger. On both of them, really. She she had always loved danger.

"I'm not," River replied coldly. "I've seen too many others try it."

XxXxXxXx

The Doctor was getting angry with River's responses. She'd drop a spoiler that seemed to be designed to get him either worried or asking questions, then, when he'd ask her about what she said, she'd just reply, "Spoilers."

He'd finally snapped and threatened her.

"I'm not," River answered tersely. "I've seen too many others try it." She then glanced down at the hand that was holding her arm pointedly, and the Doctor let go quickly, like he'd been burned, stepped back, and rubbed the back of his neck.

"Sorry," he apologized. He hadn't realized that he'd been digging his fingers into her skin. He pulled off his glasses and rubbed the bridge of his nose.

"Doctor, I know you're frustrated, and I know that you hate not knowing, but these rules come from the three of you and it was made clear that the circular paradox was fragile," she explained.

As she explained, the Doctor felt his counterpart's sudden alarm. He held up a hand to River and sent a wordless query. His previous self was fine and wanted to make sure they were okay. He replied in the affirmative and let him know that Rose was still napping, then sent another inquiry, wonder what had the other man worked up.

"The atmospheric entry trail we saw belongs to a Class Ickstaca armored transport. Even worse, the scanners showed the dissipating entry trail of a Nistx," the other Doctor explained.

"Shit. This is just wizard!" he cursed. A Class Ickstaca armored transport was a Rutan warship. A Nistx was the Sontaran equivalent.

"What'd he find?" River asked.

"Sontaran and Rutan transport ships," he answered.

"Oh, well, that's just great," River complained. "I've got to warn the team." She took off, leaving the Doctor alone with his thoughts.

He sighed and walked over to Rose, looking down at her. He was just about to wake her up when she spoke.

"You trust her," she said softly, in a dual layered voice. She turned her head and opened her eyes, revealing a soft glow. "She's family."

"Family? What do you mean family?" the Doctor asked with a little squeak in his voice. That'd be a possible explanation for how River knew his name and her claim to be not quite human. The only problem was the flirting.

Rose/Wolf laughed. "My beautiful idiot," she chided him, shaking her head. The all-knowing Wolf could be infuriating sometimes.

"Why are you here?" the Doctor wondered.

"I was always here, Theta Sigma. I am Rose, and yet not," she stated cryptically. "But you mean why is this particular facet of myself coming out at this time. I will have many reasons. First of all, I needed you to trust River. She saved your life. Also, today will be a very important day in the Sontaran-Rutan War." She stopped and looked behind him.

The Doctor turned around and saw his counterpart running up. The trip that had taken seventeen minutes walking had taken close to three and a half minutes back. As soon as he saw her eyes, he stopped and stared.

"You need to go to River and help her," Rose/Wolf ordered him directly. "The humans are considering taking up arms to protect themselves. The one with the green hair is important, don't let him get hurt too badly."

"She says we can trust River," he told his brown suited double.

The other Doctor looked to Rose, who just nodded and laid back on the chair like she was before. "Give my body two minutes before you wake me," she said, then closed her eyes.

"Well, better get on with it," the Time Lord spoke. He went directly to the camp on the other side of the dig.

The Doctor waited, counting down the seconds. The sky was darkening and he could see the glow from the fight off in the distance.

When he got to two minutes exactly, he shook Rose awake.

Chapter Text

 

 

The archaeological team were gathered in the mess tent and were talking over each other, arguing about what to do next. Several of them wanted to get out of there and others thought they needed to stay and protect the site. Some thought that the warring races would leave the site alone and others thought they'd destroy it one way or the other. One, a student in his thirties, thought they shouldn't leave, even if they didn't think they could fight them off.

At that moment, River wanted to grab her gun out of it's holster and use it to silence them. Blaster fire usually did the trick of getting people's attention. Of course, it was also good for clearing a room. The problem was you never really knew what the group would do. This group hadn't known her long.

"Shut it!" she yelled at the top of her lungs before the group could make the throbbing in her head worse. The group quieted and looked at her expectantly. "Now listen here. You won't be able to fight the Sontarans with what we have here. I've personally never come up against a Rutan before, but they've been fighting against the Sontarans in a nearly evenly matched battle, so it's safe to say they won't be easy to fight either."

While she was talking, the flap to the tent opened behind her, and the Doctor came in, looking around at the tent. He took in the assembled group of people and raised an eyebrow at her.

"We're right between them and a village of five hundred people. I say we should gather up the weapons, stand, and fight," one of the students, Jamil, who was twenty-two if she remembered right, spoke up. Several other people voiced their agreement.

"That's not-" the Doctor started before he was cut off.

"You get yourself killed, then. We need to warn the people of Loma and get out of the way," Katy, a tall, red haired woman, spoke up.

"We shouldn't do that eit-" the Doctor started before he was cut off again.

"What could we do, we're twenty-four people, twenty-seven counting the three River brought today against Sontarans and Rutans," David wondered. River noticed that the Doctor was looking at the green haired man as if he were a puzzle for a second, and River wondered why.

"Oh, you'd be surprised what only a handful of people can do," River addressed his question.

"So, we're supposed to fight them? With weapons brought along for robbers?" David asked.

"We're not fighting," the Doctor spoke. Immediately, many of the people protested, but the Doctor held one finger up. "If we were, in weaponry, numbers, strength, and everything that matters in a direct battle, we will lose. These are two races who've been at war for fifty-three thousand years."

"Well, then, what the hell do we do?" someone in the back of the group called out.

The Doctor smiled, and River knew he had something good-and rather sneaky-up his sleeve.

XxXxXxXx

Rose was running just behind the Doctor through the archaeological dig. They didn't seem to be actually trying to hide, though, despite the Doctor's words. He seemed to have something in mind, but wasn't sharing with her yet. She had a light headache and figured it was just from getting up so quickly and being in a rush.

They ducked into a room that still stood, despite the centuries of wear. A few blocks looked ready to fall from the walls, but none of them seemed to be important to the structure, so she wasn't worried. Inside the room, a large, metal box stood, hiding from the elements and would be thieves looking for a quick score. The Doctor went straight to it and bypassed the lock with his sonic.

"What's a Rutan?" she asked once he opened the door of the box. Inside, there was equipment useful for the dig. Rose didn't recognize much of it, but she saw several scanners, a winch, and what she was sure was a laser cutter that looked a lot like a circular saw. The Doctor was pulling items out, looking for something.

"Naturally, they look like large, glowing green jellyfish, but they have excellent mobility out of the water. They have a hive mind, but are capable of operating independently. Don't touch one. They can shock you pretty good," he told her. The Doctor sounded a little out of breath when spoke. He picked up a scanner, handed it to Rose, and started pulling bits off of a laser cutter.

"Glowing, green jellyfish? Well, that explains the glow," Rose commented.

"Must be a lot of them," the Doctor agreed. He had Rose open up the scanner and move some wires around so he could connect bits and pieces to it. "But they also have the ability to shape shift, so they could look like anything."

"Shape shifters. Great," Rose grumbled as he finished pulling the pieces he needed off.

"Could be anyone. They tend to kill the person they're emulating, but find it hard to hold humanoid forms. Or at least it used to be that way. A Sontaran is-" he started.

"A potato in armor," Rose finished, causing the Doctor to laugh.

"Oh, right, the ATMOS thing," he realized. "The two races have been at each others throats for fifty thousand years, or ten thousand, depends on who's calendar you want to use. You still have that Vidcaster?" he questioned.

Rose dug in her pockets, looking for the remote control from the twenty-fifth century. They'd acquired it from a boy who'd modified it to hijack signals. One day, she'd remember to organize those pockets somehow. There was a small pile of random objects laying on the stone floor by the time she found the slim shape that wasn't much wider than their sonic screwdrivers. She triumphantly handed it over to the Doctor, who immediately incorporated it into his contraption.

Her best guess on what he was making was some kind of jammer/ something or other. Who knew what all he had it do. She still hadn't caught the hang of gadget design, Doctor style. They both took items from all time periods and mixed them up to make the oddest looking gadgets that rarely did just one thing. The previous week, the other Doctor had made one that detected the pheromones of a Ghampho, but also shattered ice crystals.

They left the ancient room and moved on to their next destination. The sounds of a battle could be heard in the direction of the odd glow and shooting beams. She could also hear the distant sounds of people yelling over each other in the other direction. They ran towards the glow, until they got to the edge of the dig, where a small, modern building sat. The two of them then went into a deep ditch that had been dug next to it and stopped.

"Here's a good place," the Doctor spoke as he fiddled with his new, cobbled together device.

"So, why're we getting outta sight?" she asked the Doctor. Normally, they dove right in.

"So we can find out what's going on," he replied.

"Ah, recon," she realized. The Doctor used his sonic on the device. Suddenly, they heard a few people talking.

"Please leave this room," a man with the accent usually put on by people trying to sound like a gypsy said.

"I'm part of this investigation," an American man replied. Rose thought she knew the voice, but couldn't place it.

"You give off negative energy," the accented man accused. Rose wondered what the hell she was hearing.

"I can assure you, Mister Yappi, I'm a believer in psychic ability," the American told him.

"So you say with your mouth but your thoughts tell me the truth," the accented man, Yappi apparently, rebuked.

"Agent Mulder, please," a third man said, and Rose bust out laughing.

"The X files, really?" Rose asked when she could get the words out, about the time that Yappi accused Mulder of being- of all things- a skeptic.

"Well, telly from 1995," he replied, snickering and turned it off.

"What else does that thing do?" she asked. "Cook bacon?"

"Probably could. Though it'd be extra crispy. Crispety crunchy. Nah, It's meant to eavesdrop on any signals and can jam them as well," he explained. "We're close enough here to listen in now." He turned the device on and quickly found the Rutan communications.

They listened for a bit, then switched over to Sontaran signals. Both were business as usual. Standard battle. No plans for the area, except that it just happened to be a planet with an atmosphere where the Sontarans had stopped to fix the air system on their ship. The Rutan Host observed the pit stop, and saw an opportunity to take out an entire ship full of their enemy.

"So why did she-" the Doctor started, then stopped and looked over at Rose. "We got another visit from your alter ego," he informed her.

Rose closed her eyes and let out a deep breath. It was never a good thing when that part of herself took over. It had only happened four times, counting that day. The first time, they had almost died in a giant Cyberman shaped robot. The second time, they were going to be caught and executed if they had continued down the hall they were going to go down. The third time, the Doctors were trying to stop a series of bombs going off, and the Wolf jumped in, rattling off a set of instructions.

Whatever was going to happen was big. If the past was any indication, this was potentially fatal to one or all three of them. "Well, that explains the 'eadache I had. Wha'd I say this time?"

The Doctor reached over and touched her skin to skin so he could show her exactly what had happened. She watched herself tell him that day was a big day in the war and to protect one of the archaeologists because he was important, though there was no indication of why.

It was the revelations about River that really caught her attention, though. They would or needed to trust River and that she would save him. Or maybe the other Doctor. Wouldn't be the first time she'd gotten them mixed up while that part of herself was in control and probably wouldn't be the last.

"Family?" Rose spoke out loud, shocked. "How can she be family? Is she-? That's not- But then why would-"

"Funnily enough, that was my thought process too," the Doctor commented mildly.

"How the hell are you so calm about this?" she wondered. "I mean-she could be-" She gestured between them, indicating what she was thinking, but unable to get the words out.

"The word you're looking for, I believe, is daughter," he told her. Rose glared at him. The Doctor sighed, put down the scanner/jammer, and wrapped an arm around her. "Relax, Rose. You saw what happened. She's not. I think this may be a case of the family you choose. Or maybe she's Tony's kid, grand kid, or great how many evers. Maybe your parents had another one, though, really, Jackie pregnant isn't something I want to witness."

"Okay. I get it," Rose said a bit testily. She didn't want to hear anything more about her family and more kids. She remembered when her mother was pregnant with Tony. There was shame attached to the memories. She'd been distant with her family at the time, but she'd been trying to distance herself so it would be easier when she was gone. By then, she'd already known she was different and that she probably wouldn't be able to stay there, even if she had wanted.

She stood up and looked out at the battle with a pair of binoculars, trying to gauge how the battle was going. Rose could practically feel his gaze on her. "Wha'?" she wondered.

"The thought of motherhood freaks you out that much, huh?" he questioned softly. She was suddenly reminded of the difference between this him and the other him. This him was a bit more perceptive to stuff like that and more likely to talk. Then a thought hit her.

"Shit," she swore and almost threw the binoculars, but stopped herself at the last minute. "This is the moment where ya tell me that fancy future shot didn' work an' 'm up the duff, ain't it?" she questioned with dread. She didn't need to feel him to know that he was confused. It was that obvious. Then understanding dawned.

"No! No, no, no," he repeated. "You're not, no. If you were, you certainly wouldn't be here!" He gestured around them. "Blimey."

Suddenly, something exploded at the battle, which had been moving closer while they talked. The two of them flinched, and the other Doctor sent a query to them.

XxXxXxXx

The Doctor had just finished explaining what they were going to try to do and had given tasks to each person when he felt a burst of amusement from his other self and his bondmate. He didn't know what had been so funny, but it put a smile on his face nonetheless.

"Oh, what have they gotten into now," River wondered.

"What?" the Doctor asked.

"Rose and Doc," she clarified. "They just did something that got you smiling. Those two have always been able to get you smiling easier than anyone."

"They're laughing about something. I don't know what. Doc? I hate it when people call me that," he told her.

"Oh, I know, but people who aren't Rose need a way to differentiate the two of you, so we all knew who we were talking about and to. So, we started calling him, 'Doc,'" she replied, then shook her head and laughed softly. "It's funny. I've never seen him so young. He's so different."

"How so?" the Doctor wondered. "And don't say 'spoilers.'" This caused River to laugh fully.

"Oh, you're gonna hate that," she told him. He crossed his arms and waited for the answer. "He seems like he's not quite comfortable in his skin now."

That alarmed the Doctor. He'd grown used to having another him around. Even started properly liking him. Had he somehow kept unhappiness in their situation from Rose and himself? The whole thing wasn't ideal. Neither of them had really wanted to share Rose. While the other Doctor had been open to it from the beginning, he was only that way because he knew about Rose.

He was dreading the day his other self left them. He was dreading it as much as the day Rose finally had enough, got in her own TARDIS and flew away.

"It won't last long, though. I think he got a bit of Jack in the metacrisis too," River mused, breaking his thoughts. She kneeled down by a chest and opened it, turning her back to him.

The Doctor burst out laughing. "Ah, that would explain it." His other self was quite a bit...freer in that department. He'd been pulled into a lot of interesting things.

"Mind you, he's not as different as you and Rose when I know you all best. I've only met her like this once," she added.

The Doctor froze, waiting on her to elaborate, if she was going to elaborate. River straightened up and put something in her jacket pocket before closing the trunk.

"Only met Rose like she is now once before. Haven't gotten to meet her with her next face on yet." River turned around and her eyes got wide as soon as she saw him.

"Oh, you didn't know she would regenerate, did you?" she asked. "Oh, I'm sorry, Doctor."

 

Chapter Text

"Oh, you didn't know she would regenerate, did you?" she asked. "Oh, I'm sorry, Doctor. That's one helluva spoiler."

"It's okay, but watch what you're saying in the future. We always knew that it was a possibility, but this is the first time I've known it to be confirmed," the Doctor replied, grimacing. "I have no idea how she's gonna take that," he admitted.

Suddenly, they heard the unmistakable sound of an explosion. They were safe for the moment, but the explosion was close enough that it could have been near where Rose and his other self were. He sent a wordless mental query, which was instantly responded to. They were both fine, though the battle was moving closer.

He stepped out of the tent where the archaeologists were gathered to see just how close the battle had come. River followed behind him and for a moment, he wished she wouldn't. It wasn't that there was anything wrong with her. He just hated knowing that this woman knew things about him and his little family.

"Well, that's moving fast," River commented. "Most single battles just stay in one place. Even when one side is retreating."

"Making the other side retreat is considered a win with most armies. For these two species, that's not enough. They've just got to keep going until one side's obliterated," the Doctor explained. "I usually just keep away from any place or time where both are together. As a matter of fact, I've only been across both at the same time once before."

"What happened then?" River asked.

"The planet became a wasteland. The only life on Kilarnust when they left was deep underwater," he told her.

River's eyes got wide. "That's what happened to Kilarnust?" she questioned.

"You've heard of it?" The Doctor was surprised. Nothing should have been left on the surface to identify the planet, which had been categorized by the Shadow Proclamation as a level two planet, meaning it had sentient life, but that life was extremely primitive. If Rose were there, he would have told her that equated to when Neanderthals lived on Earth.

"Of course. There's records of the planet from before the disaster. It's been a mystery since, and I've always been drawn to a proper mystery," River told him.

Of course she was. She was someone extremely close to them in the future. It would have been odd had she not been drawn to mysteries. But it was something else to add to the small amount of knowledge they had about her.

"Who are you?" he asked. "To us?" he clarified, so that she wouldn't just give him her name and where she worked from like she had the time before.

There was another explosion that was obviously caused by the Sontarans. It made the ground shake a little.

The Doctor was trying to figure out a way to get them off planet before they killed everyone on it while trying to figure out the mystery of River Song, and keeping an eye out for Rose and the other Doctor, who he knew was heading toward him and River.

"You're always asking that. I promise, you'll know everything about me one day, but for now, all I can tell you is that I'm not Rose," she explained.

"I figured that much out from what you said," he replied grumpily. She couldn't be Rose and have not seen her second body.

"I know you hate meeting people out of order," River said softly, causing the Doctor to scoff. "It's understandable. It's not supposed to happen: meeting people who know you so well already or mean so much to you long before they know you and you have to learn to trust them very quickly. But, that's Time Travel for you."

"Rose told me I had to trust you," the Doctor spoke up, watching her. River looked confused for a split second before she turned a worried gaze on him.

"She just met me, and just a few hours ago, she was jealous of my little nickname for the both of you. Was it Rose, or the Wolf?" she wondered.

"What do you know about the Wolf?" he countered.

Immediately, River swore in an impressive string of mixed curses. He was torn between chiding her for her language and laughing at her declaration that the whole day could go off to Jessathorpe and partake of the activities there. Well, that was the nice way of saying it. Jessathorpe was Jack's idea of a good time. Included in the cursing were several Gallifreyan words, and he paled at hearing them. She didn't seem to just be repeating a curse one of them were likely to blurt out, usually while working on the TARDIS. Just one more mystery.

"This isn't good, this isn't good at all," she finished.

"Really? I didn't know that," he asked sarcastically. River rolled her eyes at his response.

"Don't be sarcastic. That's Doc's job," she snarked right back. "In all seriousness, though, one of you two are in serious danger. What did she say?"

"To help you with them, trust you, and the man with green hair was important. What's his name? His hair was like grass on many Earth-like planets," he wondered.

Maybe if he didn't let on how much he knew or didn't know about the situation, River would leak some information about Rose's other side. Bad Wolf completely in control terrified him, even though his doppelganger was no longer worried about her. She never did anything beyond saving both of their lives, but he couldn't help but remember what she had done in order to do that on the day of her creation.

"David Lopi," River answered. "And don't even think of changing the subject. The Big, Bad Wolf showed up for a reason and that part of Rose is only concerned with saving the people closest to her"

"Seems that way," he hedged, just as he spotted his other self and Rose moving between the crumbling walls. Suddenly, they both stopped their movements, and a string of swearing was heard by the two time travelers watching from above.

"Ah, there's the Doc I know and love," River said fondly. "That's where I learned my rather colorful vocabulary. Mum's always getting' on me about it, but I'm older than her, what can you do?"

"Who's your Mum?" he asked in a conversational way.

"Spoilers," River replied cheekily.

That was quickly becoming his most hated word.

XxXxXxXx

Rose and the Doctor were moving away from the battle and back towards the campsite where the other Doctor and the archaeologists were when he stumbled over a large chunk of ancient wall that had fallen since their last trek through that corridor. Rose, who was an empath and wasn't shielding herself at the moment, immediately felt an echo of his pain. Stubbed toes weren't fun.

"Flippin' Jumalahyljännyt rocks!" he exclaimed, hopping on one foot. "I'm not stepping into another 'kshataquenta Arkegisetsivustolla for the rest of this uskomattoman aikirosi blinkin' life!"

Rose was sure that was mostly Gallifreyan mixed with the English. She recognized a couple of words. Sivust was "site" or a "place" and Arkegiset was "ancient," specifically ancient ruins.

"Oh, you just stubbed your toe," she chided.

"On a sharp rock, at a run," he complained.

"Big baby," she teased

"It hurts!" he protested. Rose laughed for a second before another bang sounded in the distance.

"So 53,000 years of war. I'm guessing you've come across both at the same time before?" she wondered.

"Yeah, once," he replied darkly.

"How'd you deal with them, then?"

"I didn't," he told her. "There was nothing I could do. The planet was a loss. Come on, then, we've got a battle to stop."

They were almost back to the camp. It only took a minute to get to the Doctor and River, both of whom were standing outside of the largest tent and watching the battle.

"What have you got for us?" River asked and Rose explained what they had heard and seen while the part human Doctor took off his shoe and looked at his toes while he added a detail a couple times.

"So, they're not deliberately here," the Doctor commented when she was finished. "That makes it a little easier."

Rose bent down and peeked at the Doctor's bruised toes. "Ow," she empathised, grimacing. He set about getting rid of the inflammation with a setting on the sonic made for that.

"Is that what all the cussing was about?" River wondered.

"Yeah," Rose replied.

River looked at the part human Doctor and said, "Big Baby."

"Oi!" he protested. "I've already been called that once in the past three minutes, I didn't need it again."

"Good on you," River told Rose, elbowing her.

"I'm sorry I called you a big baby," Rose apologized.

XxXxXxXx

River watched Rose give Doc a soft kiss to his forehead as part of her apology and remembered how that would have been a full on snog in the future.

The Doctor in brown was ignoring them and her while he stared off into the distance with his hands in his pockets. From that spot, they couldn't see any of the battle over the ruins, but could hear it.

"River," he suddenly called, "Have you got anyone who's good with wiring, signals, or making a diversion?"

"Yeah, a few, of each," River replied. "What are you planning?" she asked. "You usually don't make any plans."

"Who says I don't make plans? I make plans. I'm excellent at planning. It's just that usually, things change and the plan isn't relevant anymore," the Doctor in brown indignantly defended himself.

"Which is why the plans are flexible," the other Doctor added.

"Really flexible," Rose jumped in. "Almost like they don't have one," she teased, causing River to laugh.

"So what's the plan, oh great genius planner?" River ribbed the Time Lord.

"Get in, wreak a little havoc, and get them to leave," the Doctor who was tying his shoe answered.

The other Doctor snapped his fingers and pointed at his double in a manner that he would do often in his next body. "One won't leave without the other, so we have to get them both to go," he replied.

"The Sontarans can't leave yet," River protested.

"So we fix their ship," both Doctors said at the same time.

"Nice," Rose approved. "Let's go get ourselves some accomplices."

They all walked into the tent where the archaeologists were still. Several had packed up duffel bags of belongings and others were armed. They were all speaking and making plans of their own. The room was quite loud, so the Doctor in blue put his fingers up to his lips and have a whistle. Most of the people in the room immediately stopped, and the instant reduction of noise got the last few, who were arguing, to be quiet and pay attention as well.

"We've got a plan," River announced to the group. Immediately, a few people started to question her, but all she did was hold a single finger up and since she already had their attention, they quieted. It was good to be the one in charge.

"The show's all yours, Doctor," she said to the one who came up with the plan.

"Now, we've got a plan to deal with the Sontarans and Rutans, but we're going to need some help. I need people who are good with wiring or mechanics, someone who's good with non human signals, and people who are willing to create a diversion."

It wasn't long before they had enough people to take care of what they needed to take care of. Out of the humans who had armed themselves, they only chose one: a tall woman named Hanna who River said they could use. Everyone else, including everyone who was ready to jump in and fight the opposing armies directly, was sent away from the camp to the nearby city, both for their protection, and so that they could explain what was going on to the populace that had to know a war was on their doorstep by then.

Three people refused to leave, claiming they needed to stay and protect the artifacts. This frustrated both the Doctors and Rose, but they agreed with one another that it was a battle they didn't have time for nor was it worth it. If the basic, almost plan worked, those people would never come close to being in danger.

"Hold on a minute," Rose asked as the people that were going to the city left. "How comes we need someone else who's good with alien signals? From what I see, we only need two, which we've got." She gestured at the Doctors to make her point. "Unless you need two for each ship, but River'd have to be good with that."

River shrugged. "I'm okay," she said, "but not with these."

Doc looked at the Doctor quizzically for a second before he got angry. "Voieil amin ole," he snapped. "Oh, no, I'm not-"

"Lle on sintaen' mani tapahtui tellaaika ar'il jopa tuntisitten lye," the Time Lord interrupted. "You know what happened last time, and not even an hour ago we-"

"Ei ehdottomasti ole. Jos lle ajatella ten' hetken amin olen menossa a' autan'alaquel ar'olla varna vainsiksi, lleuskot tanya-""No, absolutely not. If you think for a moment I'm going to go back and be 'safe' just because you believe that-"

River watched the two of them arguing in rapid fire Gallifreyan. It was something they did when they didn't want others to hear what they were talking about, but didn't want the intimacy of telepathy.

They had taught Rose just to hear another person speak it. They had taught River so they could say things and pass messages without others knowing what they were saying because River wasn't telepathic and she sometimes needed to get messages to the Doctors or Rose from other points in time.

Rose looked like she was going to jump in at any second. She kept opening her mouth to speak and bouncing on her toes, but never actually said anything beyond a single syllable. River knew what she was going through. This younger version of Rose could barely understand them when they were speaking that fast, but she caught enough and knew them well enough that she knew what they were saying.

River, for her part, kept out of it. Arguments like this one were important. The Doctor that was currently wearing the brown suit needed to learn that he couldn't make those kind of decisions for the people around him. He still felt that he should always be in charge, even though there was another right there will all his centuries of knowledge and experience. The ten short months where their memories weren't exactly the same were close enough they might as well have been.

The argument had to happen, but not like that and if it didn't stop within thirty seconds, she was going to have to step in and smack them both across the backs of their heads. They were on a deadline, and those two idiots were going at each other like kids.

"Rose?" they both turned to her and asked at the same time.

"Oh, 's not fair," Rose whined.

"You've had something to say for a while," Doc pointed out.

"You noticed, did ya? And now you want my opinion?" she shot back.

"Yes," he replied.

"Always," the Doctor said at the same time. Rose shot him a dirty look and he took a half step back, with an apology written on his face. River could guess what she sent at him.

"I always hoped this argument wouldn't come. Now, I agree with him," Rose told Doc, throwing a thumb at the Doctor. "This is dangerous, and, as much as I hate to say it, you aren't exactly unbreakable."

"Rose," he breathed out, stunned. "You, of all people..."

"I'm not finished yet," she stopped him. She turned to the Doctor. "And I agree with him. As much as I want him safe, he's all grown up, with eons of experience, and perfectly capable of making his own decisions."

"Not eons," he protested, shifting. River snorted at the inherent vanity that would never disappear.

"Please. Eon is the perfect description for your age, Doctor. An indefinite and very long period of time," she explained.

"The point being," Rose interjected, "is that you need to let others make their own decisions." She poked the Doctor in the chest before turning to Doc and poking him as well. "And you need to consider your mortality." Both Doctors looked suitable chastised, but River knew they'd be back at that argument at another time. The Doctor was nothing if not stubborn, no matter the incarnation.

"Now, as much as I don't like the idea of letting them go off, this planet will be very important in the near future and we have to get this done before they disrupt the fixed event, so if the two of you are done being children, we can get this done."

"Children!" they both protested at the same time. Just like that, the argument was over and they were back to work.

XxXxXxXx

They found a use for the third signal man: as part of the distraction team. The part human Doctor had given him the re-modified scanner that got Earth channels from the 90's and Sontaran and Rutan signals (and possibly cooked bacon to crispety crunchy status the way he liked-how did Rose know that?)

The scanner had been modified to be a transmitter as well and would be used to send out signals to both parties that made it seem like there was a group of the enemy. Both sides would convene on the spot where the gizmo told them-far away from the ships and what they were doing.

Bloody Sontarans and Rutans. After 53,000-ish years, you'd think something would have changed. It needed to stop.

The people who were going to cause the various diversions left to go to their places and the Doctor in brown, Rose, and a few others set off to the Sontaran ship while the Doctor in blue, River, and David Lopi set off to the Rutan ship.

They'd make it so that the two opposing armies wouldn't destroy this planet too.

Chapter Text

Rose and the Doctor in the brown suit snuck around giant boulders and various ancient buildings that weren't quite old enough to be part of the nearby ruins on their way to the Sontaran ship. Rose would wave the three people they'd brought with them forward whenever it was safe to do so.

They were one rock wall ahead of the group when a small group of Sontaran warriors wearing their helmets came by. She lifted her fist up to the other group, which had been about to start moving. The lead of the second group, a tall woman named Hannah who River had recommended, stopped suddenly and the two mechanics behind her crashed into her, nearly knocking the tall, thin woman over.

Rose felt the Doctor's exasperation through their link and agreed with him. Hannah glared at the other two and pushed them back behind the wall as the Sontarans passed at a near run. There were more explosions, but this close to the ship, there wasn't much fighting

A couple of minutes later and deep into Sontaran held territory, they stopped and waited for the signal. It didn't take long. One of the armour clad humanoids stiffened up suddenly and barked orders that they couldn't hear. Most of the rest of the members of the warrior race that were left with the ship took off, yelling, "Sontar-Ha!"

"Well, that's our cue," one of the others said and went to leave their hiding place to go and do what they had come for. Rose and Hannah both grabbed an arm and pulled him back down before he could be seen.

"We've still got four Sontarans," Hannah hissed at the man.

"You'll just get yourself killed if you run out like that. 'Sa battle out there," Rose added.

"Stay here and down," the Doctor told them before he slowly stood up to look over the half fallen stone wall they were hiding behind. He grabbed Rose's hand and repeated his order to the others before pulling her along.

As soon as they got out from behind the wall, she could see what the much taller Doctor and Hannah had seen over the wall. One of the Sontaran soldiers stood guard just outside of the ship. His scan of the area was slow, and they managed to get behind a shoulder high boulder that was close before the soldier turned around.

Rose looked back at where they had left the other three people and saw Hannah watching from behind the wall. While she had an eye on everything, she was mostly waiting for signals from Rose. Rose raised her hand to her throat and made a slicing motion, indicating danger, then followed it up by balling up her fist and holding it up head height with the palm facing outward, in the universal hold your position gesture.

Hanna replied with a simple thumbs up. Message received. As Rose was trying to see what the Sontaran was doing without being seen, she caught the Doctor staring at her.

"What?" she wondered. She would have been fine with the staring, but they had something important to do and he was looking at her like a puzzle again. Rose could practically feel the Doctor calculating. She'd managed to go a whole month-ish without being poked and prodded at and she just knew that streak was over with from the way he was looking at her.

"Since when do you know military hand signals?" he asked after a second. She was sure he was going to say something completely different.

"Learned it in training," she explained quickly. She then pointedly glanced over at the ship, reminding him about the Sontaran without words. She didn't like to discuss her time away from him any more than she had to. It had been ten months since she'd come back, and this was the first time that particular part of her training had come in handy.

"Right," the Doctor responded shortly. "And we're off."

They ran hand in hand as quietly as they could to the side of the ship, just out of the Sontaran's sight.

"You know how to knock out a Sontaran, right?" the Doctor asked as they hid.

"Um, no, no I don't," she replied. "Only other time I've met 'em, I didn't get close."

"There's a vent on the back of his neck. Just smack it," he explained. She nodded and glanced out past the ship to see the Sontaran diligently making his sweep. She moved out, trying to stay behind the armored figure. Really, for a race that had spent so long fighting, their armor gave them very little in the way of a visual range. She didn't get very far when she heard him speaking.

"Mine turtles and control them remotely. The enemy would never see it coming!" he exclaimed animatedly.

Rose smiled at the ridiculous image that created: a turtle with plastic explosives strapped to its back with that control disk the Queevils used on her. She realized that the scheming soldier was going to see her if she didn't get a move on, so she rushed forward and slapped the tube she could see sticking out of the back of the armor before she could be stopped. It hurt quite a bit. The tube dug into her hand and she knew she'd have a bruise later on.

The Sontaran crumpled to the ground in a heap and Rose turned back to where the Doctor had been behind her, only to see that he wasn't there. Instead, three more armored figures stood off to her side, just inside the ship, with their weapons trained on her. She immediately held up her hands.

"Hello, boys," she greeted. "I-uh, can explain."

"You will die, Rutan scum," one of the Sontarans claimed. Rose felt a spike of anger just before she saw the Doctor coming up behind the short soldiers. His face was a mask, showing nothing.

"Oh, I'm not Rutan," she replied. "I was here with the archae-"

"Likely story, shapeshifter," another Sontaran interrupted. "You will die for the glory of the Sontaran empire-"

He barely finished the words before he dropped to the ground. The Doctor quickly smacked the second one before he realized what had happened. He wasn't quick enough to get the third one, though, and that last one turned really quickly to shoot whoever had attacked them.

Rose darted forward to take advantage of the opening and hit the tube, but not very well. It was enough to drop the Sontaran, though.

"Damn, that hurt," she complained and noticed that the Doctor held the mallet from the console in his hand. "Oi! How comes you get a mallet? And how'd you get in there?"

"It was Sontarans," he replied. "Grabbed it on my way out." He rubbed the back of his neck sheepishly. "Sorry. Didn't think to grab something else." The Sontaran that Rose had hit quickly started moving, and the Doctor leaned down to give his vent a proper smack with the mallet. "As for how I got in, there's more than one way on a Sontaran ship. Alright, then, let's get this fixed so we can get them out of here."

Rose stepped out so that she could see where the others were hidden and raised her arm in the air. She made a big circle with it quickly, pointed inside the ship, and stepped back inside. Several seconds later, Hannah and the two mechanics ran into the ship, the older man was huffing and muttering about how he should have gone to the city.

During this, she felt a sudden spike in fear that wasn't coming from anyone around her. "Doctor, everything okay?" she wondered. The Doctor in the other ship replied instantly, to her relief.

The actual mission only took about ten minutes. The mechanics immediately went to work on the life support system, where the problem was coming from. The Sontarans had been halfway finished when they were interrupted and it took a bit to figure out what they had been doing.

The Doctor went to work creating the signals that would bring the soldiers back to the ship.

Hannah dragged the body of the Sontaran that Rose had knocked out at first into the ship and put him with the others, who were all disarmed. She then took up the sentinel post.

Rose helped the mechanics with the life support until all of the work left to be done was inside a small hole and there was no room to help, then she went to the Doctor, who had moved to setting up the ship's controls so that he could make it leave on its own once the Sontarans were on board. They'd never leave voluntarily.

By the time they were finished, the Sontarans were waking up. They overheard one of them threatening Hannah with acid.

XxXxXxXx

The Doctor and River were almost to the Rutan ship when the distraction started. They dropped and flattened themselves against a waist high wall as a group of Rutans in various shapes went by.

"I bloody hate going up against shape shifters," River grumbled when they passed. "Although, changing does keep things fresh, doesn't it, Doc?" she teased.

"How the hell would I know?" he asked.

Behind him, David snickered. "Yeah, I can see that," he said. "Never get bored."

"Oh, just shift you two," the Doctor admonished them.

"You've got the Nestene and their swappable heads, shape changers, Time Lords and regeneration-" River poked as they moved closer.

"Can it, Curls," the Doctor growled and River laughed softly before they had to get to business.

There were only a couple of Rutans guarding their ship. River walked right up to one and it turned its weapon toward her.

"Identify," it ordered. The other Rutan came over to investigate the disturbance. It was a shame there wasn't another great way into the ship from where he was, or the Doctor would have taken the opportunity to slip past while River distracted them.

"Professor River Song, and you are?" she asked flirtatiously. The Doctor was strongly reminded of Jack at that moment.

"You are not Rutan. You will not pass," it declared.

"Who said I wanted to pass?" she asked as the Doctor walked up to her. He heard David coming up behind him and hoped the green haired man wouldn't do something stupid.

"Hi, hello," he greeted jovially. "I'm the Doctor-"

As soon as he identified himself, both Rutans swung their weapons at him and David Lopi shoved him down to the ground just as two blasts were let loose. River dispatched both of them quickly with her blaster. As the jellyfish-like beings fell to the ground, the Doctor bounded back up and turned on River. "What the hell was that?" he asked. "You didn't need to kill them!"

"Oh, use your time senses. Common senses while you're at it too, Doctor. They were about to kill you! How many innocent people have they killed? How many more would they if you left them alive?" She retorted. "Out of both of you, this you was always the one that understood that the most. Now we've got work to do." She turned and walked off into the ship. "David, you're on watch!" she called back.

"Yes, Ma'am," he replied.

"Doctor, everything okay?" Rose wondered. She must have felt him.

"Yeah, all good," he replied quickly before he stalked after River into the bowels of the ship. "Now, hold on-"

Suddenly, River Song turned around and pushed him up against the wall.

XxXxXxXx

The last time she had seen them, Doc had taken her to the side to talk to her just before she was to leave. He told her that when she was sent to Liemma, she needed to come find their younger selves on Asgard first and gave her the coordinates. "And thank you, for what you're going to do. My younger self won't thank you for it at the time."

"Any hints?" she wondered, knowing that he probably wouldn't be able to tell her much.

"It took years for me to truly accept my mortality, but what you did, what you will do, helped me see a good part of it. Granted, you scared the living daylights out of me, but it was helpful in the long run."

At that point, the Doctor came up and gave her those odd air kisses he was so fond of doing with his friends in that regeneration, and Rose hugged her. Her long black strands of curly hair tickled River's nose.

"See ya later...Pondlet," her aunt teased, taking the Mickey out on her over the Doctor's latest nickname for her.

So, when the Doctor, angry at her for the way she helped save his life, came stalking after her, she turned around quickly and shoved him up against the wall with the intention of scaring him enough so he'd shut up.

"You're too young to understand this now-"

"Young!" he protested.

"Yes, young. You've still got some ways to go before you truly understand." She put her hand over his lone heart. "Feel that? You just almost died. And you're not quasi immortal anymore. No more regeneration. Your heart's beating wildly, adrenaline's rushing through your system and you can't decide whether you want to be afraid or laugh. It's exhilarating, isn't it? It's why people jump out of planes and ski and other dangerous things. You're alive. You're alive in a way that the other Doctor, Jack, Rose, and...others aren't."

"What's that got to do with the way you-"

"Everything," she argued. "It's got everything to do with it. You're still alive. Stay alive for as long as you can. You are much, much more important than a bunch of beings who's sole purpose is destruction."

"I am not worth killing over," he told her.

"Well, we're just going to have to disagree on that, aren't we? Now, I'm not familiar with Rutan ships, let's get this done," she changed the subject.

Their task was relatively simple: basically set up a dummy signal and a remote drive and as soon as the Rutan Host had returned to the ship, make it take off. Some stragglers on both sides would probably be left behind, but they wouldn't have backup or any of the really dangerous weapons or numbers.

Neither of them said much as they worked, just what they needed to say to get things done. River kept reminding herself that the Doctor was still angry and she really needed to be careful of what she said.

"Okay, I've mapped out the departure path and set the controls for immediate acceleration as soon as they've broken the atmosphere. All I need is the signal frequency and we'll be able to get out of here. Where are you at?" River announced.

The Doctor hit two buttons with a flourish, and proclaimed, "All done!" He then looked over her work, nodded, pulled out his sonic, and used it to quickly set the frequency she'd needed. "Okay, let's vamoose."

"Vamoose?" she asked.

"Yeah, I don't like it either," he agreed.

"Guys, we have a problem," David Lopi called.

They both instantly ran to where he was, only to see a group of Rutans bearing down on them.

Chapter Text

There should be one more chapter after this, then this part of their story is over. I've got so many plans!

XxXxXxXx

River of Time Ch 8: Paradoxically Speaking

Rose, the Doctor, and the mechanics were finished with the Sontaran ship and just about to leave when Hannah called to them that they needed to get out of there. A group of Sontarans were coming back to the ship earlier than expected. Their group took off, following the Doctor to the second, smaller entrance that he'd used before.

As Rose suspected, the second entrance hadn't exactly been an entrance. It was more of a hatchway. The mechanics had made a mad dash for it when the Doctor pointed it out and left first. The Doctor pushed Rose ahead of him and, she scrambled out. One of the men who were already out had stayed to help her with the short drop, but the other, taller one had disappeared somewhere.

The Doctor was coming out of the hole feet first, which was the safer way. He didn't need a hand to get out, so she turned and scanned their surrounding for the best escape. The way was open if they went to the front of the ship. Hannah was last and shimmied out of the ship the same way the Doctor had. As soon as Hannah's feet touched ground, the four of them took off.

Of course, they ran around the ship, straight into another group of Sontarans. The Doctor kept Rose behind him, trying not to let her be seen. Knowing her, he had instantly warned her as soon as he saw the soldiers.

"They'll underestimate you just because you're female, but try not to be seen."

Twenty year old Rose Tyler would have never listened to that, she would have insisted on being right next to him and indignant on the comment on her gender. Twenty-nine to thirty year old Rose Tyler understood the potential tactical advantage, even though she still wanted to jump out there.

"Halt in the name of the Sontaran Empire," one of the blue-gray armored humanoids demanded. There were four in the group, lined up shoulder to shoulder and carrying weapons that were comically large for their size. "Where is the other male and the yellow haired female?" the same Sontaran asked.

The Doctor looked around, having just noticed that one of the mechanics was missing. "Where's Jim, or was it John?" he asked, clasping his hands behind his back. At least that was what it would have looked like to the Sontarans in front, in reality, he was holding one of Rose's hands in his own.

"Jeff," the other mechanic corrected. "I'm Jim. And Jeff took off as soon as he hit the ground."

"The female must have run as well. Cowards," another Sontaran commented. Rose clenched the back of the Doctor's tan trench coat in anger, trying to calm herself so that she wouldn't step out and give the Sontaran a piece of her mind. His thumb started drawing circles on her hand in his and the gesture calmed her more than any more overt attempt would have.

"They claimed to not be Rutans. Scan them," the first one ordered.

The Doctor cursed to himself mentally, but Rose picked it up. Well, there went the potential advantage. The Doctor's long coat and the darkness had helped conceal her from visual detection, but it wouldn't stop most scanners. Definitely not a Sontaran one. It was better to just get it out of the way, so she stepped to the side, but between and slightly behind the taller Doctor and Hannah, so she could pretend she hadn't been hiding.

"Human. Human. You! Back there. Step forward so that I can scan you," the Sontaran who was scanning them ordered.

Rose figured that complying would be the best thing for the moment, and apparently, the Doctor did so as well, because he stepped aside so that Rose would be able to move forward easily. The Sontaran scanned her quickly "Hu-," he started, then smacked the side of the device, as if it would make it work better.

He scanned her again, and the Doctor grabbed her hand. She could feel his anxiety the whole time, but when he touched her, the feeling went from a niggling through their bond, to so strong that it might have been her own fears.

"The female is part human, part unidentified. Capabilities unknown," the Sontaran finally declared. "The scanner also shows time travel technology consistent with the Time Agency of this period."

The Doctor said something under his breath that Rose couldn't understand, though she was sure it was a curse. It put her on edge whereas she was mostly relaxed before. If the Doctor, this Doctor, that was, was cursing, it was bad. His arm went around her waist, ready to pull her away if he needed to.

A different Sontaran stepped forward and aimed his weapon at Rose. "Relinquish the Time travel device for the glory of the Sontaran Empire."

"They can't have it," the Doctor warned her mentally.

"Obviously," she replied. Out loud, she crossed her arms and said, "No."

"Relinquish it or we will take it from you by force with a brutal attack with acidic shrapnel grenades," he told her.

One of the others leaned forward. "Commander Strax," he whispered. "We don't have grenades with acidic shrapnel."

"Then I will make some," he declared. "Do not give our enemies our tactical secrets."

"You're the one who was talkin' 'bout minin' turtles earlier, weren't ya?" Rose deduced. "Brilliant idea. No one'd ever see 'em comin'."

"Mining turtles?" the Doctor asked, confused.

"Remote controlled turtles with 'splosives," Rose answered without looking at him. She acted like she thought it was the most brilliant idea she'd ever heard. She could feel the disapproval radiating from the Doctor over the idea.

"Why? What have turtles ever done to you?" the Doctor asked the Sontaran. "Did one bite you or something? It is an...interesting tactical maneuver, though. No one would ever notice a turtle, especially in their normal environment. They'd just see a turtle and think, 'Oh, hey, that's a turtle,' not knowing it was more."

"Yes, that was one of my ideas," the Sontaran that had been identified as Strax stated proudly. "Use animals to get into the enemy's camp undetected."

"'S definitely notta idea I've heard before," Rose told him.

"Cease speaking, female, and hand over the time travel device," one of the other Sontarans ordered. He pointed his weapon at her threatenly.

"We should run. If they get it-" the Doctor started.

"I know. I'm not exactly a newbie," she grumbled. She didn't need him to tell her how bad it would get if the Sontarans got hold of usable time travel technology. There would be a paradox because River wouldn't be holding the same, but older Vortex manipulator, but that was a minor one the universe could compensate for. River would have probably come up with a different one. That was all minor details.

The major details that couldn't be compensated for were that the Sontarans would try to use it to go back in time and take the Rutans out early in the war, when they weren't as developed. They could crush their enemy, but that kind of paradox would be unsustainable.

She felt the Doctor's approval and pride over that and knew he'd caught her knowledge of the matter.

"I said no," Rose told him. "You can't have it. 'S mine." She dropped the Doctor's hand and stepped forward, closer to the Sontaran that had just spoken and had his weapon trained at her.

"You don't want it anyway," the Doctor said. "Even if you had it, it'd do you no good. You can't change your own past. Not without destroying yourself."

"It is a sacrifice we are willing to make for the glory of the Sontaran Empire," one of the others replied.

"Welllll, except there wouldn't be a Sontaran Empire," the Doctor argued. "Everything your entire civilization has become would collapse, along with huge chunks of the universe. You'd destroy countless trillions, no, quintillions, maybe even sextrillions of innocent lives. An unfathomable amount, even for me. And all of that for what? Defeating your enemy as mere half forms? Where's the glory, the honor in that, huh?"

As the Doctor talked, distracting the other Sontarans, Rose readied herself to attack the one that held his weapon on her. She knew she couldn't compete on strength or durability. He was wearing armor and she wasn't, so that advantage went to him as well. The Sontaran would likely outlast her in an otherwise fair fight. The only advantages she had were surprise, speed, and the knowledge of how to knock one out.

Knowing that the Sontaran was half paying attention while the Doctor babbled, Rose had moved closer and closer to the business end of the rifle-like energy weapon. When the Doctor started talking about glory, she slipped into position. As soon as he finished asking his question, she grabbed the end of the weapon and wrenched it upright and to the side as she dodged the other way to get out of its range at the same time.

The weapon shot a bluish beam that hit her sleeve, singing her arm a little. She kicked out and knocked the Sontaran backwards a bit as she tried to take the gun away, but he had too good of a grip on it to simply pull it. She then wrenched it upwards, which made the Sontaran's finger hit the trigger and a bolt shot into the sky. The movement made her come up close to him, pressing against him and she decided to let go of the weapon with one of her hands and used it to smack the back of his neck in the hope that she'd be able to hit the vent there.

She did, barely, and pain blossomed in her hand again. She already had a bruise from the other ones on her other hand. It was enough to make the Sontaran she'd been grappling with drop, though. She took the weapon and trained it on the other three Sontarans.

They were standing there, watching the fight, but didn't look like they had any intention of joining in. One of the Sontarans took his helmet off and looked Rose in the eye. "You are a mighty warrior. I look forward to having the pleasure of meeting you in battle where I shall obliterate you."

"'M no warrior," Rose protested and trained the gun she'd taken on the one who spoke. "But if I do go down, it'll be swingin'."

"Okay, now. Listen. Just listen. We don't want any more fights. We just want to leave here in peace," the Doctor jumped in.

"You attacked us on our ship. There will be no peace," one of the unnamed others said.

"Now, just hold on a minute," the Doctor protested. Then he thought about it. "No, on second thought, never mind. Run!"

The four of them took off running across the field where the Sontaran ship went down. They dodged stones that had fallen from ancient walls and darted behind said walls when a bolt of energy shot by from the three beings in pursuit. At least the fourth had still been down when they took off.

"Three of them, four of us. Hannah, Jim! Go that way!" the Doctor called out and waved off the two archaeologists. Rose tossed the big gun she'd taken off the Sontaran she'd fought at Hannah, who barely caught it, having had to slow down to catch it because Rose misjudged their speed.

"What, why?" Jim wondered.

"Divide and conquer," Hannah called and pulled him along.

As Rose expected, one of the Sontaran soldiers went after them, and two went after her and the Doctor, clearly seeing them as the more valuable targets. Mostly out of habit, the Doctor and Rose clasped hands as they ran. The second she touched him, their bond flared and she felt the anger that he'd been able to successfully keep from her until that moment.

His anger was directed at her.

"What's wrong?" she asked, barely having the air to say it out loud. She couldn't understand why he was angry with her. What had she done? She wasn't the most practiced telepath, but she'd had a few years at it and it had been almost ten months since she'd bonded with the man next to her. She could still be reading him wrong, though.

A bolt shot by them, reminding them of the Sontarans in pursuit. "This is what's wrong. I was talking them down."

"You think it would've worked?" she asked incredulously, having switched to speaking in his mind to conserve air.

"I had to try!" he shouted as another bolt shot past, hitting the wall they were nearby and forcing them to change direction. "You should have let me-"

"No, no, no, no. You do not get to tell me how to save my own life. That Sontaran had that gun thingy pointed right at me and I might've only seen them once before, but I know they're trigger happy. And damn it, how have we not left them behind or lost them yet?" she added, glancing behind them at the Sontarans who were shooting. She could only see one, though. They ducked behind a wall as another bolt came toward them.

"We've been zig zagging trying to avoid their shots. You get the feeling we're being herded?" the Doctor asked, only breathing a little hard.

"They're splitting up," Rose realized as she gasped for breath. "I hate your respiratory bypass."

The Doctor chuckled. "Who knows, maybe you'll have one yourself."

Rose didn't want to talk about that possibility, and they were being chased by Sontarans, which made the perfect subject to talk about instead. "We split up," Rose said. "They can't herd us one on one and we'd be able to make a decision on which way to go faster."

The Doctor nodded reluctantly and peeked around the corner. "And again."

They both took off again, though they went in different directions. Rose dodged bluish white laser bolts and darted around, trying to lose the Sontarans so she could get to the place they'd agreed to meet the other team.

She hoped the Doctor, River, and that green haired guy were having better luck than the mechanics, Hannah, the Doctor and her had.

Her life was so weird. She loved it.

XxXxXxXx

It didn't take the Doctor very long at all before he realized that he hadn't lost the Sontaran. The second one had never chased him. Instead, both had gone after Rose. Cursing to himself, he went after them.

XxXxXxXx

The Doctor and River were on their way out of the cockpit of the Rutan ship when they heard the third member of their team. "Guys, we have a problem," David Lopi called.

They both instantly ran to where he was, only to see a group of Rutans bearing down on them. River was looking for an escape when the Doctor started babbling.

"Okay, exits blocked. No other known way out. No time to look for another way out. Can we hide?" The Rutans started gaining speed, having obviously seen the three of them.

"No, too late to hide." The Rutans started shooting. "Okay, then, time to run!"

At the same time, River ordered, "Doctor, David. Freeze and stand your ground. Act like you belong. Doc, whatever you do, don't identify yourself as the Doctor. They'll just try to kill you again."

"Yeah, probably. Good plan," he agreed as the Rutans approached.

"Identify," River ordered in the same manner as the Rutan had greeted her.

"Commander Ble-" it started, then looked between the three of them. "You are not of the Host," it stated in an emotionless voice.

"That is true," River said. "But then, we never did claim to be, did we fellas?" The others immediately backed up her story.

"Where are the guards?" the Rutan asked.

"What guards?" River denied innocently. "We didn't see any guards. We just got here. We saw a ship come down, heard explosions, and came to check it out. Your ship looks fine, though." Oh, there was some proof that she'd spent a lot of time with them. She was pulling the clueless humanoid trick.

"Could use a bit of paint, though. Brighten it up a bit," the Doctor jumped in. "But, to each his own. We'll be on now. Glad we didn't need to help." Both him and River turned around and started walking away.

"Come on David, let's get back-" River started.

As he more than half expected, the Rutan who'd been doing all the talking so far barked an order for them to stop. "The humanoid in the middle wears technology that the Host recognizes as capable of traveling through time. You will give."

"I'm sorry. My aunt gave this to me for my hundred and fiftieth birthday and I don't regift," River told the jellyfish-like creature with a long suffering sigh and shrug. "Not that I would, she is so good with the gifts. Of course she does have all of-" She quit speaking when the Rutan's weapon powered up and pointed at her.

"Now, I know you don't want to do that," the Doctor said. "You could damage the machine. Then where would you be?"

The second and third ones took aim at the Doctor and David. "I don't think they're playing, What do you think, James?"

"Nope, definitely not playing," the Doctor answered automatically, used to using the name when his other self used John.

"Well, it was nice talking with you, but we've gotta run now," River said calmly before all three of them turned and ran.

They dodged shots and turned a few times, but it wasn't long before River got separated from the others. David and the Doctor managed to give the Rutan Host the slip, but not before one of the charges got the Doctor in the leg.

XxXxXxXx

River ran wildly in an attempt to dodge her pursuers. She'd broken off from the Doctor and David in an attempt to draw the shapeshifters after her. It mostly worked, but a couple did go off after the men. They could deal with a couple, though.

She thought she lost the Rutan Host once, but she made a stupid move and they found her again.

Suddenly, she turned a corner and, quite literally, ran into the woman she called her aunt. Unfortunately, Rose had two Sontarans trailing her.

Chapter Text

 

"Oomph!" said the body Rose had just smashed into. A second later, she realized that she'd just run, literally, into River Song. She hadn't seen her as she was rounding the corner where crumbling walls met.

"Of course I had to run into Rutans while being chased by Sontarans," Rose complained just after running into River.

"Typical," River groused. "If it rains, it pours. Still fun, though." She took her gun out and turned her back on Rose, facing the Rutans she'd been running from.

With two Sontarans on one side, and the same amount of Rutans on another, and walls covering the other directions, they were pretty much trapped between the opposing factions. With both of them stopped, the soldiers on both sides had quit firing, though Rose was pretty sure if either faction had seen the other, they would have started again. She turned her back to River, not wanting to be facing away from the soldiers who had been chasing her.

"Where's the Doctor?" Rose asked.

"We split up to draw the Rutans away. Get your Katana out," River said as if she were commenting on how white the clouds were that day.

"Don't have it," Rose replied in confusion.

"Why not?" River asked.

"Why would I? 'S not exactly feudal Japan and we ain't in an Anime an' I don't wanna lose it. 'Sa gift, " she protested.

River groaned and Rose felt something warm and metal hit her hand. On reflex, she grabbed it and realized it was a gun. Her first impulse was to argue with River, but the Sontarans were almost to her and she was sure that the first Rutan had to have reached River.

"Hand over the time travel device," a Rutan ordered in a monotone.

"What? How did you-" Rose started before the Sontarans reached her. She let River deal with the jellyfish-like beings.

"All you have to do is hand over the Vortex manipulator, Boy, and we'll let you go free," Strax said as he came up to her. He was identifiable only because he was still without his helmet.

"Didn't you hear the Doctor? This isn't how you'll win. You'll destroy everything, Strax."

"Strax?" River said suddenly. "So this is when-"

Rose wondered what she was going to say, but she was busy with the Sontarans and River returned to talking to the Rutans. Apparently, River's pursuers had the same idea that the Sontarans had. River backed up against Rose so that their backs were touching.

"Telepathy," she hissed at Rose.

Rose quickly found her mind. "What?"

"I remember this story, you have to save Strax," River told her.

"Why and how?" Rose wondered.

"You'll want a Sontaran owing you a life debt. As to how, when it's time, knock him down and don't let him get killed. You'll know when it's time," she added, answering Rose's unasked question.

The Rutans moved forward, thinking River was backing up in retreat. When they got closer, they and the Sontarans saw each other and completely forgot about the humanoids that were trapped between them.

"Rutan scum!" yelled the Sontaran still in his helmet.

"We will obliterate you for the glory of the Sontaran Empire!" Strax exclaimed.

"There will be no Sontaran victory," one of the Rutans said and fired.

River dived off to the side, and Rose grabbed Strax, knocking him down just as a shot would have hit him directly in his unprotected head. She felt a stinging sensation in her leg and was sure she was hit with one of the Rutans weapons, though, if she was, it was barely a graze.

On instinct from years working in a paramilitary organization, she brought the gun that was still in her hand up and pointed at the Rutan, but didn't fire. Could she do it? Could she kill this Rutan? It started lining up a shot and she realized she damned well could, not only to stop a paradox from happening, but to save herself as well.

She fired off a shot at the Rutan. It went down quickly, much to her surprise. Things went silent and Rose realized that both Rutans and the other Sontaran all lay dead. River still had her gun out, but Rose couldn't tell if it had been used or not.

"Remove yourself from my body, female," a voice sounded and she realized that she was lying on Strax still.

"Oh!" She quickly got off of him and stood up, brushing the dust off her legs. That was when she realized there was no singing of her trousers and her leg didn't hurt. She lifted up the loose material and looked at the smooth skin underneath, perplexed. She healed fast, but she didn't heal that fast. There was no way she could have been hit, so what had caused the pain?

"Did you get hit, Rose?" River asked in concern.

"No, No, but I thought I did for a moment there," Rose answered. "Musta jus' hit it on a rock or somethin'. Blimey."

River looked worried for a moment. "You don't feel anymore pain, though?" she asked.

"Nope. No need to worry about me, thanks." She turned to Strax, who was struggling to get up. "You alright, there?" she asked and reached her hand out to help the Sontaran up. Unsurprisingly, Strax did not accept her offer, instead preferring to stand up on his own.

"He's fine. We've got to get moving before more come," River said.

"Let the Rutan scum come!" Strax exclaimed. "We shall destroy them!" He smiled at his own proclamation and licked his lips, ready for battle. Rose thought that the Sontaran's mostly black mouth was disgusting, but she kept the observation to herself, knowing it was probably common for the race.

"We can do all that later," River said impatiently.

Strax looked Rose over. "You do not seem like much, female, yet appearances are deceiving. You've got the heart of a warrior! It seems I owe you a life debt. Should you ever have need, I shall come at a moment's notice!" he exclaimed. As he spoke, his body bounced with excitement at the possibility of being called to a battle in the future.

"Rest assured, Strax, you will be called upon one day," River told the short warrior before Rose could, once again, protest the designation. "Now, we're closer to the Rutans. We need to get moving before we're surrounded by a bunch of shapeshifters."

"I do not fear battle with difficult odds!" Strax declared.

"Neither do I, but there's a difference between bravery and stupidity, yeah? Live to fight another day and all that? Do Sontarans even have that?" Rose wondered.

"It is dishonourable to run from a battle in self preservation," Strax told them indignantly.

"Of course it is, Strax. Rose and I have got to complete our mission, so we need to get on our way," River explained, looking around for more adversaries. "Do what you need to do Strax, but keep yourself alive. You have a debt to repay after all."

The Sontaran picked his weapon off of the ground and took off toward the obvious battle. River chuckled as the figure disappeared into the ruins.

"Well, that takes care of that," she said and holstered her weapon. She held her hand out for the blaster she'd given Rose. Rose handed it over, only too glad to be rid of the thing. She looked at the body of the Rutan she'd shot on the ground with regret that she'd had to do what she did.

"Rose!" the Doctor yelled in her mind suddenly. "All the Sontarans went after you!"

"Yeah, I caught that, thanks," she replied out loud as well as mentally. When River looked like she was about to ask what Rose was talking about, she just tapped the side of her head, figuring that the woman they'd know well enough in the future to call family would be used to telepathic conversations. "Don't worry. I'm safe. The problem's been taken care of."

"Where are you?" he asked as River waved for Rose to follow her, keeping silent so Rose could concentrate on the conversation at a distance.

"I dunno, but I'm with River. We're headed to the meetup."

"With River? Where's-?" he questioned, not calling his other half by any name, as was his custom when speaking to her about him.

"I dunno, they split up just like we did. Haven't had a chance to contact him yet."

The two of them went back and forth for a moment and Rose finally convinced him to just go to the place they were supposed to have met up instead of coming after her and to contact the other Doctor and pester him.

"Blimey!" she exclaimed when the connection with the Doctor's mind faded back to how it usually was: a knowledge that they were there and okay.

"Being overprotective?" River questioned knowingly.

"When isn't he?"

The two of them laughed and walked back toward the archaeologists' camp.

XxXxXxXx

The Doctor examined his leg, though he didn't need the visual to know he was in trouble. Not only was there an incredible amount of pain, but the Rutan's shot had went straight through the gastrocnemius muscle, cutting a deep channel across the back of the largest part of his calf. Luckily, it had missed tendons and the heat had partially cauterized the wound so he wasn't bleeding out anywhere near as much as he would have been had that been a standard projectile weapon, but there would be no more walking that day. Worst of all, running for his life was out of the question.

What he wouldn't give for some properly programmed nanogenes. It was the only thing he could think of that would have healed his leg quickly and been portable. As soon as he was properly healed, he was going to get some and set them to his unique biology.

"Aw, hell, man. How're ya not passed out from the pain?" the green haired man asked in shock, staring at the gash. A half second later, he snapped out of it and grabbed a small plastic box from his pocket.

"Compartmentalization. I'm very good at it." The Doctor got a look at the box as he opened it. It was meant to hold a standard fifty-first century first aid kit. Judging from the situation, that was likely exactly what was inside. "I have an allergy to acetylsalicylic acid, Daniel," he informed the man.

"It's David," he corrected and put a small bottle back in the kit without using it. He took out a different bottle, looked at the label, and, after nodding his head, took the cap off. "This'll numb it," he said, then quickly sprayed the contents on the Doctor's leg.

He yelped and pulled his leg back instinctively. "Yow! What the hell is that? Salt?" To his immense relief, the pain stopped almost instantly and his leg just felt like it was throbbing rather than being burned off. "Oh, it's an antiseptic-anesthetic compound."

Then, to his immense horror, he realized that he could feel Rose at that moment. If he could feel her, she could feel him because he'd dropped his shielding when the unexpected pain struck. He hastily blocked his pain off from her, knowing that she was busy and it was likely she wouldn't realize what she had felt had been his pain. He knew that she wouldn't have felt the original hit because he'd already been blocking off pain in anticipation of a hit when it struck.

It was one of the downsides of sharing a strong bond with another: one really had to put in effort to keep the other from feeling what one felt. It could be handy, but when the knowledge could get the person at the other end of the link hurt due to being distracted, it was a hinderance.

Daniel-no, David finished his work quickly. In very little time, the Doctor's wound was dressed while they talked. It didn't look the best, but it did the job. David then helped the Doctor up and the two began making their way back to the archaeological site where they had started their journey.

"You should keep as much weight as you can off that leg," David admonished him when the Doctor tried to put more of his weight on his own legs.

"You're a little guy, David Lopi, I'm trying to help you help me," he explained. It was true. David was a full five centimeters shorter than Rose.

"I dunno how else to tell you this, Doc, but you're very skinny."

"Skinny little streak of nothing," he confirmed. He was remembering the fiery redhead who'd given him some of his wilder traits when he heard the other one trying to reach him. With a groan that the green haired man next to him probably thought was from pain, he allowed the connection between them to work fully, while still keeping Rose from feeling his pain.

"Where are-what the hell happened?" the other one asked.

"Got shot. Don't let Rose know. She doesn't need the distraction," he quickly replied.

"Of course not," his other self scoffed. "Rose is with River. Where are you?"

He quickly showed the other Doctor where he was. "I'll be at the camp in a few minutes. Just get there and we can get this over with. Then, we can get my leg fixed up." To his surprise, the other man was leery about doing so. "I'll be back in just a few minutes. It'd take you longer to get to me."

The last bit appealed to the man he used to be's logic and he agreed.

"You've gone quiet," David said a moment later.

"Ah, just thinking," the Doctor replied.

A group of Sontarans came around a wall and David helped him duck into what was once a small room to avoid being seen. They both held their breath when the group came running past the door, hoping the group wouldn't stop and look in places where their enemies could have been hiding. Luckily, they seemed to be to busy heading to wherever they were going to stop and clear the area they were in.

When they passed, David stuck his head out the gap in the wall where a door would normally be and declared, "All gone, whew! That was close. Thought they'd seen us for a second. Okay, let's get back."

A breeze kicked up, which was welcome in the ruins that still held the heat of day, but for some reason, David was staring off in the back corner of the room in wonder. The Doctor turned and looked at what had him fascinated.

And saw a very familiar blue box materializing silently.

Chapter Text

By the time Rose and River got back to the camp, the only people who hadn't shown up yet, as far as she could tell, were the Doctor and that green haired guy. She was wondering where he was, but was sure he'd be along in a moment. Knowing him, he'd probably run into a situation much like she had. She was just about to contact him and tease him for being a late Lord of Time, but before she could do so, she caught sight of the other Doctor's face.

He looked worried and agitated. His hair stood on end, showing just how much he had been tugging on it. His state worried her and she immediately tried contacting the part human Doctor, but she couldn't even feel him.

The Doctor saw her and brightened up a bit, but not much. The two of them went straight for each other, wrapping their arms around one another.

"Where's 'e?" Rose asked as soon as she was in his arms.

"I don't know. Last I heard from him, he'd been hit by a Rutan blast. Hold on." He pulled back. "Can you-?"

"I tried already," she told him quickly. "I can't-he's 'urt? How bad was- Oh, no, please."

"Rose, he's-" River tried to get her attention.

"Let's go look for him! Why the hell are you just standin' 'ere tuggin' at your hair instead of-" Rose yelled at the Doctor

"Rose!" River shouted, grabbing her arm to get her attention.

Rose, who was already on edge and geared up for a fight, instinctively grabbed the hand that was on her shoulder, squeezed, and twisted as she spun around. The motion peeled the hand off of her arm and would have twisted River's arm painfully had she not reacted in time.

Instead of bending over in pain, River managed to grab Rose's arm and used her own momentum to twist her arm. But, unexpectedly, as soon as Rose realized the strength and kind of training River had, the curly haired woman let her go.

"River! Rose! What?" the Doctor exclaimed, wrapping his arms around Rose to pull her away. "What was that?"

"It was my fault. Should've remembered not to grab her when she was riled up. It was just a reflex," River calmly explained to the Doctor.

Rose stared at the woman, holding her hand, though it didn't hurt. "You're strong. Not human, are you?" she asked the woman who'd dropped into their life suddenly.

"Since when do you care what species anyone is?" River asked with an eyebrow raised and her hands on her hips.

"You felt human," Rose replied, feeling like she should defend herself.

"That's because I am human. Part human anyway. Raised human. I'm not properly telepathic, but I got some other...interesting traits." She leaned in then and added, "And no, I'm not telling what. You'll find out when it's time. Now, are you ready to hear what I have to say, or do we have to do this all again? Not that I'm against a good spar, but this isn't the time."

Her condescending tone angered Rose even more, but the Doctor's arms around her waist tightened. "Just get it out, River," he ordered in a low, warning voice.

"Oh, well, then. As I was saying, We're don't need to go get Doc. He's right where he needs to be."

"Makes no sense. He's 'urt an' we can't feel 'im! We need ta find-" Rose began frantically.

"You can't feel him, well, you could, if you could figure out your time sense," the Doctor corrected.

River whacked him in the shoulder.

XxXxXxXx

"What's that?" David or Daniel asked as the ship was fading into existence.

"What the hell does that Prawn think he's doing?" the Doctor growled through clenched teeth as the TARDIS materialized in front of him. He went to stand up to give the other Doctor a piece of his mind when he came out the doors, but he noticed two things. Well, three things if he counted the fact that he nearly passed out when he put his weight on his leg.

The first and most obvious thing was that the TARDIS was silent. The sound it always made was from the little tears in reality and Time that were made during the journey. They healed over quickly enough that it wasn't a problem. He'd never heard of a Time Travel Capsule of any kind being silent. How had the other Doctor made the TARDIS land without noise?

Once the old time ship had solidified, he also noticed that it was different. The blue was brighter and the wood didn't look worn. The Old Girl looked new. She'd never looked new, not even when she'd first mimicked the police box shape.

But there was a new TARDIS growing. Maybe the little one would take the shape of the only other TARDIS in existence?

"Rose?" he croaked out when the door opened, but the person that stepped out definitely wasn't Rose. It was an older man, with greying hair that he could tell would have been dark brown when he was younger. He wore black from head to toe, except for a crisp, white Oxford buttoned up to his neck and the shocking red of the lining of his jacket.

"Well, what do you think?" the other man asked in a heavy, Scottish accent.

The Doctor blamed it on his body going into shock from his injury, but he had no clue who the man standing in front of him was until he put his hands in his pockets and rocked back on his heels.

"You got old. How long's been since your regeneration?" And why wasn't his heart calming down? Was he having another anxiety attack? Would that be a part of his last life?

"Two months. I tried to go for minimalist. Think I wound up with magician instead. Last body lasted for thirteen hundred years, give or take a century or so. Horrible fashion sense that one. Bowtie was a bit embarrassing. Looks like you've gotten yourself in a bit of a jam, there. Let's take a look."

"Still got a gob on you," he replied dryly. The edges of his vision were getting dark.

"When I want to." He kneeled down and took a look, removing the bandages. "Well, the bandaging looks horrible, but it's done the job. Kept you going long enough for-" The much older Doctor cursed, in a long string of syllables with at least three different languages mixed in. "Never knew how bad you were. How did you keep this from me?"

The Doctor in blue started slumping to one side.

"No, no, no, you stay with us, you hear me? Rose needs you!" the other Doctor exclaimed, slapping his face a little.

"Don' need me, Gonna die ta shoon away," he replied, starting to slur his words. "You only shuppose have one mo' body. How?" he asked, needing to know.

XxXxXxXx

The Doctor, well over two thousand years old, that he'd admit to, was searching his vast mind for the proper answer to the puzzle he had in front of him. The wrong answer would cause Rose and himself immense grief, tear apart over thirteen hundred years of his own timeline, and cost him a part of himself, literally.

"You'll have to stay alive to find out, won't you? And you can't tell me it's gonna happen!" he ordered, picking up the twin of the man he used to be and carrying him into his TARDIS.

"Pu' me down," the Doctor protested weakly.

"Absolutely not." He turned his attention to the young man who'd helped get him that far. "Grass Hair, follow me and close the doors behind you," he ordered before walking through the doors.

David followed him obediently and as silently as he'd been throughout the entire time the Doctor had been outside of the TARDIS. He'd remembered the young man's name. There'd been a time, a short time, mind, where he'd had jealousy of the other man. Not that he'd have admitted it to anyone else.

As soon as the young human was inside, he stood close to the door, staring at everything. "Yes, it's bigger on the inside. Dimensionally transcendental. No, I will not tell you how beyond the fact that I'm part of a super intelligent race of beings with capabilities far more than you humans. Now give me a hand here. He may not look it, but he's pretty damned heavy." He glanced down at the freckled face. "And he just passed out."

As was usual, the insults to the man's species brought him out of his shock and he rushed forward to help. They got the younger Doctor laid down on the floor and he checked over the man quickly with a setting on his sonic that had been specially designed for him.

It wasn't good. The blast from the Rutan's weapon had done more damage than just a hole in his leg. Those particular weapons also damaged the nervous system in certain species, including humans. The man lying on the floor was more Gallifreyan than human, and that, with pure adrenaline, was the only reason he'd survived for so long. That and the help from David.

While the blast hadn't affected his mind, his heart was giving out. It was pumping fast, with very little blood moving. The part human Doctor was dying.

"Where the hell are those nanites?" he shouted to the ship, who gave him a disapproving hum. "What do you mean, no?" he argued. "It's the best bet to save him!"

"Um, sir?" David spoke up, pointing at the console. "I think your ship's intelligence is trying to get your attention. Why doesn't it speak?"

He turned around quickly, ignoring the man's question. The screen was facing toward him, though he'd been sure it should have been facing the other way, and was flashing gold and blue. Suddenly, the flashing stopped and he was confronted with an image of himself, standing in the main console room of the TARDIS as it was two desktops before, with Rose in her original face, Jack, and Donna off to the side, trying not to be blinded and watch the process at the same time.

It was the botched regeneration that had started the process of the creation of the man lying on the floor next to him.

He suddenly knew exactly what he had to do to save his brother, and it explained so much.

The Doctor took a deep breath and let it out, trying to calm his mind. He could do this, and, hopefully, he wouldn't bollocks it up and go into a proper regeneration. He rather liked his face. It had gravitas and people finally listened to him more often than not.

"All right, Lopi, undo his shirt, back far away, and don't touch either of us," he told the human.

"Why, what are you going to do?" he asked fearfully.

"Shut up, I'm concentrating." He began to shake his hands out, trying to activate most of the process of regeneration. "Oh, I hope I stay Scottish," he said as his hands started glowing.

The Doctor slammed his hands over the single, erratically beating heart and focused the Lindos into him. His twin's body had plenty of Artron in it from their constant traveling, but didn't have any of the hormone needed for regeneration or advanced healing.

For a moment, nothing happened and he worried he'd been too late. "Oh, come on!" he shouted. Finally, he could see the other Doctor's skin glowing. A second later, an exhale from the part human was gold tinged.

"Yes!" he exclaimed in joy. It was finally working. But in that moment, his focus slipped and, like flipping a switch, he could feel the beginning of a proper, full regeneration.

"Oh Bollocks."

Chapter Text

The Doctor opened his eyes and immediately wished he hadn't. Bright light was shining right in them. "Get that bloody light outta my eyes, ya prawn," he grumbled and opened them again, facing away that time. He rolled over and, got off of the floor, feeling surprisingly energetic.

"Sorry, I was just checking you over. The light's low in here, and I don't see a switch," Daniel said, clicking off the pen light he held.

He noticed that he was in what had to be the TARDIS, but not as he'd ever seen it. The room was mostly metallic gray, with two levels. It was sleek again, much sleeker than it'd been in centuries, since his seventh life. Even then, it'd been mostly white, just a version of the basic theme. But he could feel the Old Girl. He knew he stood in his own TARDIS.

Besides, Rose wouldn't have had two levels of rings around the top of the rotor with names of people they'd lost even before meeting her written in circular Gallifreyan. He was glad hers as wasn't among the list.

"What happened?" he questioned David as he noticed his shirt was unbuttoned and went to work on fixing it in place.

"The ship's AI showed the other guy, the old one, a picture and suddenly, he's shaking his hands and muttering to himself about being Scottish." He hesitated then, like he was unsure of what to say.

"Yeah, not an AI. What happened?" he repeated, in a lower voice. Oh, he hoped what happened wasn't what he thought had happened.

"It's barmy. I don't-"

"Did his hands glow gold?" he asked, taking pity on the other man by letting him know it wasn't such a crazy thing after all.

"Y-yes? S-so did you." David stuttered, looking much younger than his thirty years. "He put his hand on your chest and you started glowing, then everything got so bright and I had to look away."

The Doctor raced around to the monitor, where he looked at his reflection in the blackened screen. He looked exactly the same, he noted with relief. But if he looked the same….?

"Did he change?" The green haired man frowned. "David, tell me. Does he look the same?" he ordered.

"Well, yeah," David said as if he were crazy for even suggesting such a thing was possible.

"Where's-?" he started.

"He went off that way," David answered, pointing off to a set of stairs that led downward under the console. That was a brilliant idea, actually. Would make working on the Old Girl easier. "Said something about contacting Rose and explaining about a mystery. Isn't that the name of the girl you and your brother are with?"

"Yeah." Why did his other self have to contact Rose? Was she not with him? "Stay here, David Lopi. Don't touch anything. I'll be right back." He went down the staircase that the green haired archaeologist had indicated.

At the bottom, he walked around the base of the console and saw his other self sitting at the bottom of a second staircase that went even deeper into the ship. He held a phone and was speaking into it. "I know, love. Yes, I'm alright, you don't have to check in on me." He noticed the Doctor in blue then. "Ah, sleeping pretty boy awakes. Yes, Rose, I won't." He hung up the phone and looked over at the part human Doctor.

Did he detect sadness and a bit of hostility? "Where is she?" he questioned harshly. "What the hell happened?"

"Who says anything happened?" the older Doctor countered.

"Oh, wow, really? What you think I'm an idiot now, too, you plonker? You're sad. You were hostile when you just spoke to her. Oh, and there's the glaring fact that you've got to call her to speak with her! She's not here!"

The Doctor just looked at him for a second with his impressive eyebrows raised before he shook his head in pity. "You think I did something? Not a thought that it might have been her?"

"I know you and I know her. It's a matter of what's more likely to happen. And where the hell am I?"

The other Doctor sighed. "Forever is an incredibly long time. Even the strongest connections between people will have trouble after a well over a thousand years. Time destroys everything eventually."

The Doctor's heart broke at his words and he sat heavily on the top step. "A thousand years, well, you said thirteen hundred. I'm gone for you. And she's left, like we were always sure she would." He sniffed, trying to hold back the emotions that threatened to overwhelm him. "Why the hell did you save me, only to tell me that?" he questioned angrily. "What the fuck? Just how the hell am I supposed to go back to our life knowing that?"

Then he noticed that the Doctor was laughing. "You think this is funny. Did I say a funny thing? You feel better now?!" he shouted at the other man.

"This is better than I thought. I didn't think you would fall for it!"

"What?!"

The other Doctor sobered up. "I - I'm sorry, I shouldn't have, but you weren't supposed to fall for it like this. You were always the one who was adamant that she would always show up at the meet point. Guess I know why now," he mused.

"What are you on about?" he wondered, not daring to get his hopes up.

"I'm talking about how Rose would never leave. Even if she wanted to, she's too damn stubborn to ever actually do it."

"Then where is she? How come she's not with us-with you," he asked suspiciously.

"Don't be an idiot. I told you it's been over a thousand years. After a while you tend need a bit of a break. I think that's why she has a TARDIS in the first place. Otherwise, I know she'd have regenerated me a long time ago."

"Is that how you went this time?" he asked, feeling like he could do the same himself. "Wouldn't blame her if she did it again, not one teeny tiny little bit, 'cause you're more'n a bit of a git this time 'round ain't you?"

"Is everything alright?" the green haired man asked, calling down from the console room.

"Yes!" they both yelled.

That's when the Doctor remembered something important. It was the reason he'd come rushing down in the first place. "I thought I'd come down here to find you wearing a different body, but you haven't changed." Something was niggling at him. He was sure he'd met this future face before.

"And where would you have gotten that idea?" the Doctor asked.

"I was just given a rather accurate description of regeneration from a human who would have no idea what it looks like. Care to explain?" he asked, crossing his arms. "We're not gonna have yet another one of us running around are we?"

"No, we're not. It's just the two of us," he scoffed.

"Really?" he asked incredulously. "Sure about that are we?" Something was up with the other man. He wasn't looking at him. "Don't make another one of us. Don't do that to her."

"It's not going to happen again," the other man firmly said. There was something there, something he wasn't telling him.

"Then where did all that regeneration energy go? Just disappeared into the ether, did it?" he shouted. "You don't get a display like that without consequences!"

"It went into you, you pudding brained idiot!" he shouted back. "How do you think you're walking around so well right now. Feeling a bit better are we?"

The Doctor stepped back in shock.

"Question. What happens when you stick a whole regeneration's worth of energy into a part Time Lord with a humanish lifespan? Answer: you'll have one proper Time Lord life. All this time I thought Rose was doing it. Thought she was giving you her own regeneration energy. Kept trying to stop her from giving her life away. Turns out it was me! Me keeping you alive for all these centuries. Of course it was. And now she knows it's possible."

"Rose? What?" Did he hear that right? Did his other self just confirm that Rose really could regenerate? And he had centuries instead of decades?

"Congratulations, you just got what so many others have tried for."

"Well so sorry for that, you-you loroston, it's not like I set it up that way. Didn't even ask! You just did it. So don't put it all on me, mate!" he defended himself.

"Did you want to have just a couple of decades?" the Doctor asked.

"Bit late to ask that question now, isn't it?" he answered shortly, then after a second, he sighed. "Why the hell would I?"

"Because it'd finally be the end. No more running, no more heartbreak."

"Is Rose really still around? Not just talked to once in awhile?" he questioned. That didn't sound like a man who was with the woman he loved often.

"Of course. I just get this way when she's not here. You do too. And you're gonna have to get a move on soon. If I remember right, and, come on, it's me, Rose is going a bit mad with worry and I'm not helping one bit."

"Nothing new," he scoffed.

"You've always been much better at being the dutiful spouse than I was," he agreed.

"I have to forget this, don't I?" the Doctor lamented.

"Surprisingly, no," the older Doctor responded. "Rose just confirmed it." He waved the handset he still held. "Apparently, you've known about this the whole bloody time. Explains why you never worried about it. You and Rose both. Even though I was going spare, thinking she gave her life to you, when it was me all along," he ranted.

The Doctor looked down at the floor and shuffled his feet. There had been many attempts to get his regenerations over the centuries, but none of them had been successful.

Until him.

"I'm sorry," he whispered in shame. He heard the other Doctor move and looked up at him to find him standing right in front of him. Damn, he could move fast, even in the older body, faster than his previous regenerations that looked older could.

"What for?" the other Doctor asked.

"You only tolerate me because of Rose, now..." He didn't finish the thought. There was no need to. The other Doctor knew exactly what he meant.

"Do you think I care so little about you that I'd begrudge you another few centuries of my time and a life?" he asked him, as if he couldn't comprehend the idea.

"But you hate me," he pointed out. The other Doctor shook his head.

"No, I don't."

"We always hate ourselves," he said incredulously, his voice squeaked a little as he did so.

"Do we?" the Time Lord questioned, amused.

"I hate you," he answered darkly.

"No, you don't. Maybe a little," he conceded. "Maybe we both hate each other just a little bit. It's not like when we run into ourselves though." He reached up and cupped the Doctor's cheek. "You're not exactly all me. I'd go so far as to say you're a better man than me."

The Doctor then closed the distance between them and pressed their lips together. The part human wasn't too shocked by it at first. The Time Lord had kissed him before, always after he'd gotten into a scrape or when he'd come up with something to save Rose, but this time was different. The kiss wasn't a quick press. It was gentle, lingering long enough that it passed the point of chaste.

He stiffened when he realized that the Doctor was kissing him. The other man pulled back and chuckled at his reaction.

It took the Doctor a few seconds to find his voice. "You-you just-"

"Yes, I'm perfectly aware of what just happened. Go with it. We'll do a lot more. Now out of the TARDIS and back to your timeline, remember you still only have one life and I can't know why it's so long. Tell Rose so she won't have that on her mind. There should be something else, feels like it anyway. Not that important." He shooed the part human backwards. "Go on, you. The past awaits."

"But-" he started as he was being pushed up the stairs that led to the main part of the console room.

"No. No more spoilers. You've got more than enough."

"What's going on?" David asked when they came into view.

"Just a friendly chat," the older Doctor replied. "No need to worry your grassy head over it."

"Oi!" the human protested. "You lot are very rude. This one," he said, gesturing to the Doctor in blue, "can't get my name straight, and you fixate on my hair!"

"Well, if you don't want it commented on, you shouldn't dye it green," the older Time Lord pointed out, shoving his hands in his pockets and glancing at the Doctor with a wink.

"Daniel-" the Doctor started.

"David!" he shouted. "My name is David!" Both Doctors snickered, and he looked between them both for a minute before he closed his eyes. "You're doing that on purpose," he realized, saying the words through clenched teeth.

"Not at first, but now? Yeah," the Doctor replied. David opened his eyes, glaring at him. "I'm sorry, but can you step outside for a mo'? I'll be right back out."

"No. You're going too," the other Doctor protested.

"Only too happy to," David huffed and left, slamming the door on his way out.

"What?" the Doctor questioned in a barking tone as soon as the door closed.

"Oh, that's nice, thanks."

"Time is of the essence. If you haven't forgotten, there's a battle out there and the woman we love is out there in it."

"Two questions," he said, holding up two fingers.

"I won't answer them."

"You might, and I'm asking anyway," he stubbornly said. "One: If Rose left-" The other Doctor opened his mouth to correct him, but the Doctor waved him off and said, "okay, took a break from us, where am I?"

"With her, of course." With the other Doctor's words, he relaxed considerably.

"Okay, B: 'We'll do a lot more?'"

The other Doctor looked a bit sheepish for a second before he gave a small smile and said "Ah, I shouldn't have said that, but think. The very first time we were with Rose, you offered me your fingers."

"That's a bit masturbatory, ain't it?" He raised his eyebrow.

"Two questions are up." With those words, he shooed the Doctor in blue toward the doors.

"Gee, you act like you weren't pleased to see me."

He laughed. "No offense, but I'm not my type."

"But-"

"Go," the Doctor ordered.

"Go to her. Don't be alone," he pleaded.

"See? You don't hate me. I'll go," he assured the younger man. The part human Doctor nodded and closed the distance between them, to give his counterpart a hug. The Doctor in black stiffened and held his hands out to the sides.

"You'll kiss me, but not hug me?" He shook his head and laughed, stepping outside of the TARDIS. He was half out the door when he realized when and where he'd seen that face. That was interesting. He'd pulled a Romana and copied a likeness.

Maybe it wasn't copied, Rose could regenerate after all. But then again, the kids. If the Doctor was Cacaelus and Rose was Metella, Who were Evelina and Quintus, then? Oh, he was going to give himself a headache thinking about what was or wasn't going to happen thirteen hundred years later.

As soon as he closed the door and left the Old Girl's protective shielding, he was hit by a wave of Rose's emotions. Anger-no, that was rage, disgust, and fear were the clearest.

"Oh, what in the name of Rassilon's underpants has that pillock gone and done now?!" he shouted as the Tardis dematerialized behind him.

XxXxXxXxXx

Four hundred years later in his personal timeline and eight thousand years in the past, the Doctor and Rose stood outside her Tardis, which had taken the shape of an obelisk. He played with her black curls and waited, knowing the Doctor would show up soon. He wanted to stay away a little longer, partly out of self preservation and mostly out of jealousy that she'd had nearly a millennium without him by her side, but she called him out on it and he'd had no choice but to concede she had a point, he'd have been dead for a couple centuries at least for her if she hadn't have tricked him away.

"Won't be long," the Doctor commented.

"I know, I feel the Old Girl coming," Rose replied. "Two, three minutes tops."

"He's gonna kill me," the Doctor whispered darkly.

"No, he won't." She regarded him for a second, thinking. "Wait, you said he was fine with it."

"I said he seemed fine."

"Well, I won't let 'im," Rose told him.

"I love it when you get protective," he flirted in an effort to change the subject and she leaned into him, humming happily.

"I'm thinking about forcing a regeneration," Rose suddenly spoke up after twenty-two seconds of silence, as if she were thinking about getting ice cream and not killing her current incarnation.

"What?!" he said, shocked "No, absolutely not!" How did he miss these things?

"Doctor, I've had thirteen hundred years in this body and I still look in my twenties. I just watched the Doctor age to the point of death in the same time."

"So?!"

"You've only had one body die of old age, and that was only four hundred fifty years in. You're barely older than I am and have had twelve. The time takes a toll." She sounded tired.

"Does the fact that both of your husbands look to be twice your age have anything to do with it?" he asked, genuinely curious. He couldn't fault her logic. He remembered aged Time Lords who were looking forward to a new body and outlook on life. "'Cause you could wind up looking younger, just as a point of interest."

"Well, that, and these curls are atrocious to care for." She smiled at him.

"I like them." He pulled one lock of hair out straight and let it spring back. "How long have you been thinking about this?"

"Twenty eight years," Rose responded immediately and he gasped, wondering why she hadn't said anything before and had kept the thoughts to herself. Before they could continue their conversation, the wind and noise that heralded the materialization of the TARDIS started and they both watched as it faded into existence. The Scottish sounding Doctor came out and went straight to Rose.

"You're here," he began their customary greeting, still amazed after all this time.

"Always and forever, my Doctor," she replied, as she always did. He kissed her passionately, releasing her with a pop before turning to the other Doctor that had backed a bit away. Suddenly, he leapt forward and shoved the part human man against the obelisk shaped TARDIS.

"All these years!" he shouted. "All these years I worried-"

"Doctor!" Rose admonished, but both of them ignored her.

"I'm s-s-sorry," the part human stammered.

"Doctor, that's enough!" Rose said, coming closer.

"How in the universe did you keep something like that from me?" the Time Lord wondered.

"I didn't wanna die and we never connect deeply. It was easy. Well, I say easy, but really, relatively easy? Kind of easy?" he nervously babbled. "Don't kill me," he suddenly blurted out.

"Doctor, please let him go," Rose nearly whispered in fear.

"Do you really think I'd hurt him?" he asked incredulously, not releasing the other man.

"I-I don't?" she started, unsure. "It's just-after what you did, what you're doing-and you won't even reestablish the bond. How am I to know anymore?"

"Oh, Rose, you know why, I need to know. Besides I don't even know if I want the usual sexual component this time," he explained, finally tearing his eyes away from the other Doctor.

"Let him go and-" Rose started.

"Oh, I've no intention of letting him go." Before Rose could protest, he added, "Either of you," and kissed his other self softly. "Thank you," he whispered. "Thank you for being here." He kissed him again, deeper that time.

He relaxed into the kiss he was used to, just with different lips.

"What was that about not being your type?" he teased mentally, knowing full well that without Rose, they'd never do this.

"Shut up."

XxXxXxXxXx

"Ow! What'd ya hit me for?" the Doctor asked River.

"She can't see the timelines, you moron. Not like that anyway," She snapped at the Doctor. "But I don't have to have a time sense to know he's going to be okay," River assured Rose.

"Because you know him in the future," Rose deduced.

"Oh, no." River waved her hand. "Time can be rewritten. I know he's alright because you're just you."

Her words made Rose angry. "You're all putting a lot of faith in a being that shows up whenever the hell she wants and takes over my mind and body!"

"What? " the Doctor questioned.

"Is that what you think Bad Wolf is? Something else?" River asked her.

"I don't understand why you just go along with what she says blindly," Rose blurted out.

"Because she's you." the Doctor told her.

"No, she's not, she's-" Rose started, but River cut her off.

"She's you, your will, your intent. And she's only concerned with one thing." River nodded to the Doctor. "Making sure the Doctor lives, no matter what body, or how many bodies he inhabits."

"That's just-" Rose was disgusted by what she heard. "I'm not that-" She couldn't come up with a good rebuttal to what she heard, nor did she want to admit that a small part of her was pleased at River's declaration. "Am I?" she finished.

"At that time, it was all you were thinking about," the Doctor nearly whispered from beside her. "So it stands to reason that that part of you would be singularly focused."

"Then why do I have no idea what happens when she's here? If she's me-"

"That's because you couldn't accept what you were doing. Think of it like...split personalities," River explained.

"Well, it is split personalities," the Doctor corrected pragmatically. "Literally the definition of split personali- oh," he stopped speaking and rubbed the back of his neck sheepishly when he caught Rose's mood and the way she was staring at them.

"Are you both saying I'm mental?" Rose screeched after a second.

"Oh, wow, that screech is genet-" the Doctor started, but River cut him off.

"Can you just for once shut that gob of yours?" River snapped at him. "Honestly. For someone who's supposed to be so smart, you're a bloody idiot. How the hell did neither of you manage to catch on to this?" She gestured at Rose. "You've both got a very strong bond with her and somehow you don't manage to pick up on how she's feeling about this?"

"She seemed fine!" he defended himself, voice squeaking.

"Obviously not!"

Suddenly, she felt the presence of the other Doctor. "He's here!" she shouted suddenly and ran out of the tent.