Something about what Braxiatel had said to him rang true: When the tough got going, the Doctor ran.
Oh, he couldn’t wholly argue that line. He did have a habit of running when things became too much … But that really did only apply to hm when it involved Gallifreyan matters. It was difficult to explain just why it was that this planet hit him so hard between the hearts like it did, and why he could so easily run from them, but never anyone else in need.
Well, okay. That wasn’t entirely true. He could explain it very well and very simply, in fact. Gallifrey and her children could hurt him like no other. Facing peril on any other planet in any part of the universe really did only have one truly negative outcome: Death. Death in its purely physical form. On Gallifrey, he risked death of another nature: Of spirit – which was so much worse.
Gallifrey was like the family member to him that he preferred to see only a sparse few times a year, holiday get togethers and such. Enough to keep that affection alive, not enough to want to punch it in the face. A relationship that has strength only because you don’t see each other. Getting along better when they don’t see each other kind’ve thing.
That thought was in his head as he burst out of the warehouse, leaving his brother behind in his wake, cursing out phrases normally benign, but rendered explicit with the replacement of just one word. How would old Rassilon feel to know his name had been replaced with one of the filthiest words a Gallifreyan could utter?
For Rassilon’s sake, indeed, brother.
He was swift to slam open the door to the capsule, and curl around it before it had opened completely. He had the thing swinging back to slam shut after the return bounce from the hard opening. He pushed hard on the door, ensuring that he heard the lock snick in place, and then rushed to the centre console. He had the coordinates to the hospital – and more specifically Rose’s room – entered into the nav system and pulled on the dematerialisation lever before he’d managed to exhale a full breath. He set his hands on the console and looked up at the rise and fall of the centre column as the relative dimensional stabilizer whined and wheezed through dematerialisation.
There wasn’t even a hiccup between dematerialisation and materialisation at the hospital. The entire trip took less than ten seconds. He didn’t even wait for the final low thumping boom indicated that materialisation was complete before he was out the door and into a darkened room filled with beeps and bored yawning of two Dahrama wolves.
“Hello, children,” he muttered in greeting as he petted their heads with a light push to try and make his way past them toward the bed. “Play later, right now, we have to get Mum safe.” He finished with a pair of huffs, which stood both animals down. He jutted his chin toward the waiting grey cylindrical travel capsule. “Wait in there for me.” He hiccupped and shook his head. “No, better yet. Stand guard at the door. Don’t let anyone in. If you see my brother: tear his face off.” He then moaned. “No. don’t’ do that. Just scare him a little or … or something. I’ll leave it to your imagination.”
The wolves both tilted their heads with confusion at him. Ut with a wave of his hand, they both padded slowly to the door, their heads turning back to look at him with curiosity before they finally sat on their rumps and watched the hallway ahead of them.
The Doctor moved toward the bed. He switched off any monitor that would ping any form of alarm, and then slid his arms underneath Rose’s back and legs. “Come on Darling,” he cooed gently. “Time to take a little trip.”
The jostling movements as he pulled her in against his chest stirred her. With a moan she blinked opened her eyes just a slit. “Doctor?”
The confused hoarseness in her tone made him shudder, and he paused just a moment. He gave her a broad, yet very fake, smile. “It’s me. Good morning sleepyhead.”
She wriggled against him and blinked to open her eyes wider to better survey the room. “Where am I?”
“With me,” he answered her. “And that’s all that matters, yeah?”
“Well yeah,” she said with a wince. “Of course.” She exhaled hard. “Why does my head hurt?”
He pulled her hard against his chest and lifted her from the bed. His lips pressed against her hair as he walked them both briskly into the capsule. “You had a little knock to the head, Rose.”
She let him carry her and rested her head against his shoulder. ‘Just a knock? Feels like I got hit with a sledgehammer.” She looked around. “Am I in a hospital?”
“Yes, Rose,” he answered gently. “You needed a Doctor. I just so happen to be one. One who works in a hospital. Seemed the best place for you. Now hush, please.” He stepped in through the door and let out a sharp whistle. Immediately the two wolves rushed in. “Shut the door,” he ordered as he settled Rose comfortably into a soft jump seat.
The male wolf kicked at the door with his hind leg, and bounded up to stand beside the Doctor as his mate circled around where Rose was seated. Each obviously had their priority and made sure to stand close by.
The Doctor took only a second to pet the male on the head before reaching for the controls of the small transport. A short-range capsule, it was not nearly as cavernous as his own TARDIS, but it would do for now. Just a short hope to his home, and he’d shift all of them into the TARDIS destination: anywhere that wasn’t within Gallifrey’s reach.
Part of him was quite excited by that prospect. It had been a while since he’d pulled back on the old girl’s dematerialisation lever and opened the doors to destination unknown. The Relative Dimensional Stabiliser wheezed out its song and the Doctor turned toward his mate.
“Are you okay?” he asked softly.
“Confused,” she admitted with a furrow in her brow. She lifted sleepy eyes to his. “Last thing I remember is getting’ caught in a landslide and then being…” She winced while trying to remember. “Oh, why can’t I remember?”
“Don’t fret,” he cooed gently. “It’s really not important.” He looked up with a smile as the column stopped shifting, indicating materialisation at their home. “What is important,” he said with his eyes up above, “is that I’m on vacation now, and so the two of us…” He looked down at the wolves. “Well, make that the four of us, will be taking a trip!”
He ran to her and scooped her up again in his arms. “What do you think about that?”
Her eyes narrowed, and continued to be narrowed on his face as he walked them out of the capsule and headed directly to the open, waiting door of the blue Police Box that was parked in the corner of their living room. “You seem awfully excited.”
He set her down onto a very comfortable armchair, her legs over the armrest and her back against the other side. “I haven’t really seen you over these past couple of months,” he rushed out as he threw a crocheted lap blanket over her legs and pressed a chaste and hurried kiss to her forehead. “And I just need to spend some time with you.”
She smiled, but there was suspicion in her eyes. “I’m really not in any shape to go travellin’ right now, Doctor. Is there any chance you can maybe let me sleep off the headache for a bit first?”
“Oh,” he sang out as he ran to the console and slipped off his coat. He hung it on a monitor that hung from a long cable attached to the ceiling. “Why wait, my dear? Why wait at all? The TARDIS has plenty of comfortable beds for you to rest in…”
“Why’re you in such a hurry?” she questioned warily.
He pulled his sonic from his pocket and dropped down onto his knees at the console. “Because I’d like to be out of range of Gallfirey and the hospital’s infernal communications system before the next dire emergency can have the chance to take me away from you?”
“Yeah,” she drawled. “Oh-Kay.”
He gave her a wink, dropped onto his back, and slid underneath the console. “Oh, it’ll be great. I promise you, Rose. The whole universe at our disposal.”
She appeared at his feet, wearing the lapghan as a shawl around her shoulders. “Yeah. I get that,” she murmured. “And it’s an excitin’ prospect of course.”
He didn’t expect her to actually get off the chair, and so her voice startled him enough that he jerked and dropped the sonic screwdriver on his nose. He let out a short Gallifreyan swear. “Rose, darling. You really should be laying down.”
She sat on the floor at his feet. “Is there something wrong with the TARDIS?”
His voice filtered out, muffled, from deep inside the console. “You had better not be sitting on the floor. It’s filthy.”
“I can handle a little dirt,” she answered with a light lean in her belly so that she could attempt to see what he was up to. “What’s wrong with the TARDIS?”
“Then why’re you fixing it?”
“No reason.” There was a spark against his finger and he yelped before he shoved that digit into his mouth. There was another Gallifreyan curse. “Just a little security thing that got installed back when … well, a while ago. It’s going to prevent dematerialisation, so I need to disable it.”
Rose leaned her elbow on the lower edge of the console and rested her head on her fist. “Disabling security features? Isn’t that dangerous?”
“No,” he lied. “Not really. Not if you know what you’re doing, which I do.” He grit his teeth as he pulled at a part that simply wouldn’t give. His voice ended up strained. “It’s just taking a minute, that’s all.”
“I might go make myself a tea, then,” she said with a sigh. “Want one?”
“Sure,” he chirped out though gritted teeth. “Just. Just don’t leave the TARDIS, use her kitchen.”
“Don’t leave the TARDIS,” she muttered under her breath. Her head shook lightly and she grabbed hold of his thigh with a tight grip of her fingers. She smirked at his yelp. “Get out from under there and tell me what you’ve done.”
He pushed out only enough to be able to shift his head to look at her around the entrance to the cubby hole he was currently digging around. “What do you mean, tell you what I’ve done?”
“Need me to say it again in Gallifreyan?” she queried with annoyance. “Because I can do that, you know. I can say it, and make it sound even more accusatory. Brax taught me how.” She left her elbow up where it was, but lowered her head to move closer to his very guilty expression. “Why are you so eager to leave?”
“Because I want to be with you,” he clarified with frustration. “I miss my wife. I miss spending time with you.” He huffed. “Rassilon, Rose, we haven’t made love in over a month, The last time we even shared a bed together was three weeks ago, and that lasted all of ten minutes before my phone rang.”
He reached up a hand to touch her wrist – the only part of her he could comfortably reach. “My hearts hurt when I’m not with you. And call me a weak and pathetic fool for that if you want.”
“I love you too,” she breathed out on a long breath. “More’n you can possibly imagine.”
That made him smile and he lifted his head and prepared to push himself back into the console. She stopped him with another grab at his thigh. “But if you thin for a moment I’m completely buyin’ it, Doctor, then you’ve got another thing comin’. Now out with it: What did you do that we need to run away from Gallifrey so fast.”
“How could you possibly accuse me of such nefarious intentions?” He gasped with mock hurt.
She merely looked at him with one brow seated high, the other low. She was saved from anwering by a sudden banging against the TARDIS doors.
“Thete!” Braxiatel bellowed form the outside. “Open up this door, right now.”
The Doctor dared not look toward his wife. He was quite certain of the expression she would have onb her beautiful face – one of disappointment – and so he glared toward the door, which he could see bowing with each strike of his brother’s fists against it.
“Get lost, Brax,” he hollered in reply. “I’m busy.”
The pounding continued. A swear in ancient Gallifreyan growled through the doorway.
“My wife is in here,” the Doctor snarled in reply as he pulled himself out fully from underneath the console and remained laying on his hip propped up by his elbow. “You might want to watch your language!”
“Open this door, Thete, or so help me I’ll break the door down.”
“Ha!” he sang in reply as he finally drew himself to a stand. “Best of luck with that. The assembled hoards of Genghis Khan couldn’t break through those doors, Don’t think you’ll have much better luck!”
Rose remained seated on the floor as she let her attention flick between the Doctor and the banging doors at the entrance to the TARDIS. She exhaled a long breath. “Doctor…?”
“Oh don’t you mind that fool,” the Doctor chirped with faux giddiness. He ran to the console and started playing around with several controls in an attempt for the old girl to get moving. “He’s just mad that he didn’t get an invite to join us on our journey.” He looked at the door, his voice shifting to anger. “I said stop banging on the door, Brax. I’m not opening it for you.”
“I am not leaving until we’ve discussed this, Thete,” he growled in reply. “This isn’t something you’re going to be able to run from, so don’t even think about trying.”
“I’m more than thinking about it,” he shot back as he grinned and shoved hard at the dematerialisation lever. He let out a long swear in frustration as the column wheezed once, but refused to move any more.
“I’ve had your TARDIS locked down,” Braxiatel bellowed. “With protocols not even you can find your way around.”
The Doctor huffed. “That feels like a challenge…”
“Open this damn door!”
“You keep on knocking but you can’t come in,” the Doctor sang out as he slapped hard at the keys on the console and worked to break the grounding protocols.
Rose rolled her eyes and let out a long groan as she used alternating grips on the console to basically climb herself to a stand. “Are we really sure you’re ready to become a father?” she muttered under her breath.
“Oh,” he drawled with a huge smile. “I am so ready for that.” He reached out to place his hands either side of her bump, but frowned when she backed off a few steps with a shake in her head. “Rose?” His eyes pinched to watch her walk toward the door, her blanket still wrapped as a shawl around hr shoulders. “Rose. What are you doing?”
She looked back at him. “What do you think?”
“Don’t open that door.”
From the other side of the door, the opposite demand sounded out angrily.
“Rose,” the Doctor growled. “I’m warning – no asking – you to please not let him in.”
“Whatever you’re both fighting about,” she said with a sigh and a wince. “Get it sorted, yeah? Both of you are givin’ me a headache.”
Rose turned the tumbler on the single simple little lock on the door. With both hands she sung open both doors and then stepped back to sweep her arm out toward the Doctor. “He’s over there.”
Braxiatel looked at Rose with worry. He touched with thanks at her shoulder and glared toward his brother. “What kind of insensitive Woprat are you?” He stalked into the room. “You took your sick wife out of her hospital bed to that you could run off like a damn coward?” He flicked his arm to her. “She’s ill, Thete, and needs medical observation and attention.”
“It might be interesting for you to note,” the Doctor growled in reply. “That I am a Doctor. I also have a fully stocked medical bay in this ship with equipment and devices that far exceed the archaic junk at that hospital.” He pounded hard at the keys, frustrated that he was unable to correct any of the coding that was holding his ship for on the ground. “I need to keep her safe, Brax.”
Braxiatel’s voice finally fell to a more acceptable volume. Whilst still very frustrated, his voice was calm. “And in order to keep her safe, you should keep her here on Gallifrey where you have a support system to help you with that.”
“You saw what I saw,” the Doctor said with a wince, that image still not leaving his quite frankly photographic mind. “When the investigative teams see that…”
“Which they won’t.”
The Doctor’s eyes rolled and he let out a huff. “Oh don’t give me that. Do you think I’m the only one on this planet capable ot rewiring those surveillance panels to get them back up and running?” He pushed off the console and paced angrily. “They’re investigators, Brax. This is what they do – what they specialise at. I will give them no more than 12 hours to see what you, Romana, and I just saw.” He spun to him and stopped pacing to glare at him. “and less than that again for Council to come after her.” He pointed a finger at him. “I won’t allow that to happen.”
“And neither will Romana,” Braxiatel defended.
The Doctor let up a single laugh. “Like she can stop them,” he muttered with viciousness in his tone. “She is one, they are many, and she will lose against them.”
Braxiatel nodded. He couldn’t deny that charge. For all that Romana was – for how incredibly brilliant she was – she was no match against an entire council.
“You have my word, Brother. My solemn vow, that no one will ever see that footage.”
“And how can you promise that?”
Braxiatel lifted his head with an air of arrogance which was more habitual than actually arrogant. “Because she had it destroyed. All of it. With no possibility at all that it can be retrieved.”
His eyes were wide. “She did what?”
“You heard me, Thete,,” Braxiatel answered firmly. “Romana knows full well that her control over council is limited, and that at any moment she could be usurped by someone else. Something like this, something as severe as what we just saw?” He shuddered. “That will make them panic .. and quite likely revolt.” He shook his head. “She can’t be of any help to you if that happens.”
His whole body began to calm. “You mean she’s defied her oath of office and is willing to hide it?”
“Until such time as we know what we’re dealing with,” he answered. He let out a breath. “Thete. She cares for you, and Rassilon save me for saying this, but I do as well. We also trust you, and trust that you are not putting anyone in danger…”
“That’s a level of trust in me that no one should have,” he replied softly. “Unfortunately danger is my stalker, and one I can’t seem to shake.”
“Promise me that you didn’t know about …” He huffed. “About what she is capable of.”
“I promise you that I didn’t.” he breathed out. “I still don’t know that I believe what I saw. Brax, I have shared intimacy in its highest form with Rose. If she truly had power of that magnitude, I’d have felt it by now.”
Braxietel nodded. He rubbed at his chin in thought. “Not an image I wanted you to share with me, Thete.” He lifted his head, inhaled a deep breath through an open mouth and then looked down. “Have you heard the reference to this Bad Wolf before now?”
He scratched at the back of his head. “Outside of faery tales, Brax? No.” His eyes widened and he snapped a look toward Braxiatel. “Hold on. Hold on.” He waved a finger and started to pace again. “Rose did mention. Once. The name Bad Wolf to me.”
Braxiatel’s interest was properly peaked. “Do you remember what she said?”
The Doctor shook his head. “No, we really didn’t get into it all that much. Just that it was a warning to my elder self, but nothing for him – or me - to be concerned about.”
“Well I’m right properly concerned,” Braxiatel exclaimed. “As I suspect you must be as well.”
The Doctor nodded as he stalked to the door. “Then let’s ask her,” he stated firmly. “No time like the present.”
Rose was snuggled in her bed now, all cocooned inside a warm duvet so tightly that only her face was showing. Leaving the two arguing Time Lords had been easy. She’d taken off before Braxiatel had walked up to his brother to engage in their slinging match. Her head was pounding hard, and she was still weak and sleepy….
She was close to achieving the perfect sleepy spot and state, when the bedroom door flew open. Although her eyes were closed, and then clenched shut, she knew exactly who had intruded upon her nap time. It wasn’t only the one of them. Both of them were trespassing in her sanctuary.
She moaned and rolled forward to press her face into the pillow. “Go away,” she mumbled pitifully when she felt the mattress sink beside her and a hand touch her shoulder.
“Go away,” she tried again, unsure if she was in any way understandable given that her face was buried in a pillow. To be sure, she rolled just her head to free her mouth. “Please go and fight with your brother somewhere else.”
“Oh,” he said with a smile. “We kissed and made up.”
“Then why are you both in here?” she queried with a sigh. “I’m fairly certain that I’m not supposed to be party to any kissing and making up of siblings…” Her eyes widened. “I’m … I’m not, am I?”
“With all honesty, Rose,” Braxiatel offered. “Not even he is party to any form of kissing or making up as he may have suggested.”
“Figurative,” the Doctor moaned. “It’s an Earth-saying.”
“And I’m on Gallifrey,” he chirped out. “I wonder why I didn’t know about Earth customs and colloquialisms – oh, perhaps it is because I was born and raised on Gallifrey.”
Rose moaned. “I thought you two were done fighting?”
“Verbal sparring for now,” the Doctor assured her with a smile. “And in order for me to get rid of him, can we ask you a couple of questions? After that, you can sleep. Sleep all you want.” He grinned. “In fact, I’ll sleep with you.”
Rose yawned widely, but pulled herself up to sitting. She lifted her arms above her head in a stretch. “Okay. What’s your question?”
“Bad wolf,” the Doctor began, noting with curiosity how widely her eyes flared at the name.
“W-What about her?”
The Doctor lifted his eyes toward Braxiatel. “So it’s female.”
“We gathered that from the feed,” Braxiatel said with a shrug.
Rose looked between them both. “What feed?”
The Doctor lifted his hand to gently ask her for quiet. “Don’t worry about that for now. What I need to know, is who is the Bad Wolf?”
“Was,” Rose corrected carefully. “Who was Bad Wolf?” She watched his face fall to an unreadable expression and shifted on the bed to draw her knees up to her chest. “Bad Wolf. Well. Bad Wolf was me.”
The Doctor looked perplexed by that revelation. “I’m sorry, what?”
Rose hugged her knees and looked up to the ceiling. “I’m the Bad Wolf,” she answered. “Well. Was.”
Braxiatel remained silent, but the Doctor pressed on. “I don’t understand? The memory that I saw, the one of the two of us. I was worried about that name.”
Rose shook her head slowly. “Well, yeah. It was a name that haunted our travels. Everywhere we went it showed up like an ominous warning of doom and gloom to come.” She shrugged. “Turns out it was me all along. And it wasn’t a danger – it was to save him. I mean you.”
She didn’t need him to press her for more information. She knew that he wanted more, and so gave the information he was looking for without hesitation.
“Me, Jack, and you all got trapped on a satellite hovering above Earth,” she said with a sigh. “About 100,000 ahead in my time line. It was our second time there actually. The first time, you saw a problem and tried to fix it.” She smiled. “Figured you were leading planet Earth into a new golden age.” Her smile fell. “Turns out your interference had the opposite effect, and the planet below was in far worse shape than it was when we left it.”
The Doctor let out a sound of remorse, Braxiatel a snort of derision.
“The Emperor of the Daleks, well, time Time War had decimated the Dalek race…”
Rose’s eyes widened for a brief moment. “Ah. Nothing for you to concern yourself with,” she squeezed out through a wince. “The Daleks caused a spot of bother, and my Time Lord made them pay for it,” she volunteered with a soft smile. “The Oncoming Storm, they called you.”
The Doctor smirked. “Haven’t really been called that for a while.”
“Seen the Daleks lately?”
His eyes shifted her hers, but he said nothing.
“Anyway,” she continued. “The Dalek Emperor was trying to rebuild his army. Couldn’t do so with his own species, I s’pose. None left. So instead he was harvestin’ the humans to rebuild.” She blinked at him. “I can’t give you the nitty gritty details of that, though it was fairly well explained to you by the slimy lookin’ thing.” She shuddered. “Called himself a God, he did. The God of the Daleks, and the creator of a newer and more powerful army.”
She lifted her hand to scoop her hair behind her ear. “Course, you weren’t having any part of it. Weren’t going to let ‘em continue at any rate, so you came up with a plan to destroy them all.” One side of her mouth lifted into a small smile. “Wanted to kill every last stinkin’ one of them, you said.” She nodded. “And you were going to. With some delta wave or something…”
The Doctor frowned. “A Delta Wave?” he looked to Braxiatel. “Why would I think of something like that? A Delta wave would wipe out every living thing, including me.” He looked at her. “Including you.” His breath shuddered. “I can’t imagine…”
Rose shook her head. “Yeah, well. That’s where things took a turn, didn’t they?” She exhaled hard. “Right before you were all set to do it, you and me were talkin’. You told me you had a better plan, and that we needed to get into the TARDIS.” She sniffed hard, and her voiced softened with pain. “But then you locked me in there. Sent me back home with the TARDIS. Told me to forget about you, to let the TARDIS die, and have a fantastic life without you.”
There were tears in her eyes when she looked at him. “But how could I do that? After everything… after you and me.” She inhaled through an open mouth and tried to steady her emotion. “Well. I wasn’t havin’ that. After some mopin’ about and feelin’ sorry for myself, I went to the park.” She inhaled. “There they were, the two words that haunted us: Bad Wolf,” She blinked. She couldn’t continue looking at him, so she cast her eyes downward. “And I knew. I knew right then that the words weren’t anything bad. They were my words, and my pathway to lead me back to you.”
He took her hand in his. “And how’d you do that?”
She lifted her eyes. “I opened her heart,” she admitted. “The heart of her. I looked into the TARDIS,” she answered. “And the TARDIS looked into me.”
“Oh good Rassilon,” Braxiatel breathed out with horror.
The Doctor ignored his brother’s words and looked imploringly toward his wife. “And what happened?”
“I became the Bad Wolf.”