It was insanely painful, and that was all that Rose registered, really. She floated, suspended in time, a puppet inside a glimmering glow; she was then dissimilated, bursting out into starfire and artron energy and cosmos dust, rearranging and reshaping and regenerating.
She wasn’t even aware of anything after a moment. It wasn’t nothingness; it was trying to see out of your elbow, it was… less than nothing. It was the absence of anything.
And then the world cleared, and a woman with a curly hair slumped to her side, for all intents and purposes appearing completely dead.
It was a good few hours before the world spun back into existence, and Rose stumbled to her feet, clutching her tattered black peacoat jacket and blue blouse closer around herself as she surveyed her surroundings. Simply existing was suddenly like trying to see through a swimming pool, like trying to gaze into the sun, it was like keeping awake after three days of no sleep.
Rose breathed out, and with her breath came curls of golden regeneration energy, swirling around her and into her hair, sparking her eyes a glinting gold.
“Ma’am!” came a voice, and Rose turned around halfway, stumbling, to see a man with his arms outstretched, blond hair and bright green eyes, “ma’am, are you alright,- ma’am-”
The world spun dark.
Waking up was slow this time, but everything was a million times clearer. Rose found herself covered in a thick red duvet and laying on a dark brown couch. She swung her feet off the couch and stood up, giving her brain a moment to regain blood flow before clearing her throat.
“Hello?-” she stopped, cutting off and frowning. “That’s… different…” she ran her tongue over her teeth, trying to feel the existence of something different in her new mouth that would give her a more northern, almost irish accent.
“Oh, you’re awake!” the man from earlier came into the room, eyes concerned. “I didn’t want to move you too much - you’ve been out of it for a whole day. If you didn’t wake up tomorrow, I was going to call the police or summat.”
“That - thanks for not...doing that,” Rose replied succinctly, before turning quickly back to the couch, peering at it intently, and then back to the man. “Wait, tell me again- what’s your name?”
“Uh,” he said, “right. My name’s Patrick- do you need anything? Do you want me to call you a cab? Is there someone I can phone for you?”
“No, Patrick. Thank you- I’ll be on my way, so sorry to inconvenience you-”
“Uh,” replied Patrick after a moment of blank staring, “you’re sure you don’t need anything? Food? You’ve just been,” he gestured to the couch, “passed out there for hours, you sure you don’t need any water?”
“Yes,” Rose agreed, “I’m great. Thanks, really,” she continued, making her way through the room and to the door.
“Uh, I should warn you-” started Patrick, but Rose did not heed him. Barefoot in her shredded trench coat and blouse, she flung open the door. Immediately, cameras flashed in her face, and there was a microphone under her nose. A million voices started talking at once, and Rose flung the door shut again, turning to Patrick with wide eyes. “You mind telling me what that’s all about?” she exclaimed, pulling back the blind to the side of the door slightly before pushing it back into place a second later. Someone started pounding on the door, and she locked it, throwing the deadbolt into place as an additional place, before staring at Patrick with wide eyes..
“Yeah, uh-” Patrick fiddled with his hands. “You’re being called the Golden Angel. Electronics shorted out when you were- glowing- one minute, I guess? Eyewitnesses say there was a blonde haired girl, and then an angel of the Lord descended, and came in the form of you-”
“They’re saying - they’re saying I’m an angel of the Lord?”
Patrick fiddled with his fingers some more, and Rose felt a bit dizzy. “Uh, yeah.”
“Right.” decided Rose, not deigning that with a response, “do you have any clothes I could use, by chance?”
“Uh, well, I have old ones of mine, but no women’s clothes-”
“That’ll be fine, really. And do you have a back entrance or something?”
“I can try to get you out the back, I suppose-” Patrick answered, and Rose nodded decisively. “That’d be grand, Patrick. And now you mention it, I am rather hungry as well- you mind if I raid your fridge?”
Patrick looked more shell shocked than anything, but he nodded vigorously enough, so Rose circled to the kitchen, opening the fridge and grinning at the presence of fresh fruit and a takeout bag of some sort of sandwich and chips. Grabbing an apple, a banana, and the bag of takeout, as well as a bunch of broccoli which looked appetizing for some reason, she returned to the couch.
No sooner had the first chip touched her mouth than she recoiled. “Oh, god, have they always smelled so awful?” she questioned, peering down into the bag and suppressing the urge to gag. She took a large bite of the apple, relaxing at the crisp familiarity of the taste, before taking a large bite of raw broccoli.
Patrick came back into the room, eyes widening as he took her in, apple in one hand and large broccoli stalk in the other, chewing contemplatively. His eyes then wandered to the chip bag, which had been carelessly tossed aside.
“Don’t like chips?” he asked carefully, setting down his armfuls of boringly colored clothing next to her and reaching over to correct the bag of takeout before it tipped over.
“Oh, no,” Rose declared through her mouthful of apple and broccoli, “love them.”
“Uh,” Patrick asked after a moment, “then why-”
“New tastebuds are such a hassle, I never even knew.” Rose replied, taking another large chomp of broccoli and another bite of apple before setting both down on the coffee table in front of her and turning to the clothing, eyes lighting upon a men’s sweater and a pair of black slacks, as well as a belt, grabbing both and smiling beatifically at Patrick. She felt her new tongue touch the back of her teeth, and it made her smile wider. Some things didn’t change, apparently.
“Thanks loads, Patrick. I’ll see myself out when I’ve changed, yeah? Plausible deniability?”
Patrick nodded, speechless, and Rose grinned again before snatching up the rest of the broccoli and the apple, munching on both as she traipsed out of the room.
It didn’t take long to change, and Rose left the remains of the dark coat on the bathroom floor, as well as ripping a long shred off of the blue blouse to tie her hair on top of her head, before finally turning to the one thing she had been avoiding.
Her reflection stared back at her, and Rose stared, stunned by the familiar eyes and jaw and nose set underneath new hair. Were those really freckles? Rose grimaced, tugging at a lock of curly black hair that slipped out of the makeshift hair tie. Her face was almost eerily similar to before, and she took some small comfort in that, feeling increasingly as if she were a stranger in her own body, watching herself as an observer. At the same time, however, there were clear differences- freckles dusted over her nose and cheekbones and jaw, and her hair was thick and curly. Her fingers were slightly longer and more crooked. It was almost surreal, and Rose stared at herself in the mirror with wide, desperate eyes.
She shook herself after a moment, cinching the belt around her waist to hold up the pants, before shaking out her shoulders, finishing off the stalk of broccoli and tossing the apple core to the bin. She opened the bathroom door, nodded at Patrick, who was sitting on the couch, hand in one palm and elbow resting on his knees.
“Hey,” she finally said softly, “really, thanks.”
Patrick was silent for a moment before he took his head off of his palm, tilting his head at her.
“Are you an angel?” he asked, and Rose was silent as he seemed to argue with himself before continuing. “Only, my sister- Ruth- she died last month, and I- I feel like this is a sign from God, you know. That she’s okay. That she’s happy up there. We were best friends. I- uh, I was just-” he shrugged helplessly, looking simultaneously helpless, resigned, and abashed.
Rose smiled at him softly. “I’m not exactly sure who I am, Patrick. I have these vague feelings of who I have been, and a pull towards what I could be, but I don’t know who I am. But I know one thing,” she flashed him a quicksilver grin, tongue against teeth. “I do know that your sister must have loved you very much. And I’m very thankful for your hospitality.”
Patrick was silent for a moment more before gracing her with a small smile. “Be not forgetful to entertain strangers: for thereby some have entertained angels unawares.” he recited, before looking to his lap. “Thank you, I think.”
Rose watched him, refraining from letting guilt seep into her mind, before turning to the back door, which led down some stairs to a sort of alley. “If you ever need anything, Patrick -” she said finally, opening the door and looking over her shoulder to meet his eyes, “I’ll do my very, very best to be there.”
With that, she slid her feet into her ratty trainers she had found placed neatly by the couch where she had lain, and left, leaving a gently smiling Patrick McCaughan in her wake as the back door closed after her.
The Doctor slammed her hand down onto the console, eyes bright.
“Oh, come see!” she pronounced excitedly, gesturing at the display. Her eyes were a bit manic, and Yasmin wrinkled her nose while Ryan and Graham simply looked curious.
“What’s that, then?” Graham asked, wandering around the console to stand next to the Doctor, who gestured wildly at the console screen, a mess of different languages that he couldn’t even begin to try and decipher.
“Uh, Doctor,” Ryan pointed out, “we can’t exactly read that, you know-”
“I thought you said the Tardis had a sort of translation...thingy,” added Yasmin, circling around to the display.
“The translation matrix doesn’t work on its own language, see. Faulty, maybe, but- oh look at that, look at that-” she peered closer at the screen, swooping her fingers over the screen.
“Why not?” Yasmin asked, leaning back and squinting at the screen as if the letters would somehow rearrange into something English-y.
“It’s mine,” the Doctor replied absently, obviously no longer focused on the conversation. A picture appeared on the console, and the four of them leaned in.
It was a diagram of some sort, blue and pale on the edges and mauveish in the middle. “Well that’s not good,” declared the Doctor, but her voice gave her excitement away entirely.
“So… what’s that then?” asked Ryan. “Why’s it dangerous? Do you know what it is?”
“No,” replied the Doctor, “but how brilliant! Let’s go find out what this is, then?”
“Why’s it so dangerous?” Graham asked, frowning at the photo. “What’s it showing?”
“A huge energy spike of time-related energy,” proclaimed the Doctor brightly, a grin tangling about her mouth. “Totally, completely impossible, unless a thousand vortex manipulators exploded within two feet of each other. Strap in!” she finished loudly, and slammed her hand down on the console before pulling a lever. The Tardis flung itself into motion, and Yasmin yelped and clung to the wall behind her as they were jolted around. The Doctor’s grin was manic. Ryan looked bemused but eager, and Graham looked apprehensive, but there was a definite air of enjoyment about him that made Yasmin grin a bit as the Tardis shuddered to a landing.
The Doctor smiled at them. “Right then, you lot! Off we go, yea?” She spun to the door, hands gesturing wildly. “Really, this could be awfully dangerous, - fluke of a fixed point, self-generated timeline anomaly, dispersion of a linear disruption- all unlikely and equally impossible, but!” She spun back to them as she reached the door, both hands braced to open it. “It could be- it could very well be an alien, and it’s very interesting to me. Plus it’s rather close to Yaz’s home, so we might as well go, you know, check it out, don’t you think?”
“Doctor, we won’t judge you for checking this out,” Ryan conceded with a half-smile. “We’re not dumb, you know,”
“I never thought so!” exclaimed the Doctor indignantly, but Ryan spoke over her to continue,
“We know you’ve been bored out of your mind the last couple of weeks. You’ve taken us to ice mines on Galantia, star births on the edge of reality, and that strange, strange petting zoo yesterday, but nothing potentially life threatening has happened- let’s go check this out, yeah?”
“Yeah,” agreed the Doctor, before frowning at the overeager, breathless tone with which she had spoken and grinning apologetically, “Sorry. It’s not that, you know, I want to be in life-threatening situations, it’s just that really, there’s only so many times I can pet a cryovolcanic methane squirrel before it’s just dull, you know?”
“Is there really?” muttered Graham under his breath, but he looked more amused than anything.
“Sure, Doctor. Let’s go,” Yasmin smiled encouragingly, and the Doctor searched their eyes for a moment before smiling again.
“Right then, off we go.” She shoved the Tardis doors open, and light flew in, sun speckled with dust swirling about the console room.
The four of them exited the Tardis before closing the door softly behind them, and the Doctor squinted at their surroundings for a moment before whipping out her sonic screwdriver. “This is the street where the reading was taken,” she proclaimed decisively, the familiar whir of the sonic overtaking their ears. “If it was just some sort of fluke, there won’t be any strange readi- oh, hold on, that can’t be right-”
“What can’t be right, Doctor?” asked Yasmin, who had passed the Doctor to look at the buildings from another angle.
“I’ve seen this energy before - it can’t be here-”
“What do you mean, it can’t be here?” Graham asked, stepping closer to the Doctor and frowning at the screwdriver, which the Doctor shook violently and smacked against her palm before placing it about one inch away from her eyes, squinting so hard her eyes seemed shut.
“Well, I mean, if the sonic read it as being here, it’s right, right?” asked Ryan, gazing around their surroundings. “Nothing seems too out of the ordinary, though, so I suppose that’s good, depending on what you’re looking for.”
“Oh, things are definitely not ordinary, Ryan,” muttered the Doctor, brow furrowed, before she pulled her face away from the sonic. “Right then, this just got exponentially more dangerous- if you want to go back to the Tardis- oh forget it, you lot are all too stubborn. Right then-”
“Where’ve you seen this energy before then, Doctor?” Graham asked, scratching his chin.
The Doctor didn’t speak for a long moment before finally looking at Graham, though her eyes seemed almost to look through him. “Last time I saw this energy was when I, well- when I crash landed. It’s complicated, really,” she finally announced, and Yasmin grinned.
“So there are others, then? Others like you? Maybe it’s your cousin or something-”
“It’s not,” replied the Doctor shortly, running a hand through her hair, “I don’t have any cousins. I don’t think. I might’ve, but- I’m missing something, I’m missing something -” she started pacing back and forth, frustrated. “I could try and trace the energy, but I’m feeling like that isn’t a good idea. Anything with access to that sort of power could most definitely pose a viable threat, and it wouldn’t know that we were friendly-” she halted. “Risky. Risky, risky, risky.” She turned to look at the three of them, eyes thoughtful.
“Do you have a plan, then?” asked Yasmin, shifting her weight from one foot to another.
“Well. Tracking the energy anyways, honestly.” the Doctor announced, looking rather pleased with herself. Ryan made a noise of amusement and apprehension in the back of his throat, and Graham looked rather concerned.
“Didn’t you just say this was exponentially more dangerous than just impossibly dangerous?” he asked.
“Well, yes,” concurred the Doctor, “but it’d be rather irresponsible of me to leave the energy alone.”
“Just why is this energy so dangerous?” asked Ryan, hands deep in his pockets.
“If misused,” the Doctor finally answered, “it can bend time. It’s… the energy is showing up as a mixture of artron energy and time vortex energy.” she frowned. “There are too many potentially catastrophic consequences to name, as well as a plethora of creatures dying to conquer even a small piece of energy for less than noble means.” she looked back at her sonic screwdriver. “Which means I’ve got to track it down. Right then- stay close! No wandering off until I know what, exactly, is causing this. We’ve got some energy to trace.”