“You know,” Martha gasped as she ducked a stray shot. “When I signed up to see the sights, I never expected to take archery. Or need archery. Or have any use for archery.”
“First time for everything,” Rose puffed as they ducked around another corner and raced through the tunnels. “Why are we in charge of the bow again? But not the arrows?”
“Because the Doctor made some smart remark about using the sonic instead even after the instructions they gave us explicitly said to use the bow with the net arrows. And Jack…” Martha trailed off.
They ran into a dead end. Martha grunted and pushed off the wall in a move that was sure to leave marks on her hands and knees (and she didn’t even want to know what goopy, slimy, nastiness lined that wall) and reversed direction. She could hear the crazy lizard thing behind them, but in the distance now, and she hoped it’d turned back around to protect its contraband since she and Rose had been discovered. After it’d started shooting, she and Rose had raced off, leaving the Doctor and Jack with the net arrows and a wide open nest.
“I don’t know what Jack’s excuse was!” Martha admitted, puffing embarrassingly now. Really, after all the running she’d done since joining the Doctor’ she’d have thought she’d be in better shape than this.
They skidded around the corner, the unidentifiable muck and grime and stench lining the tunnels and sewers of London deeper here. They’d been running from that lizard, taking random turns, and now Martha was hopelessly lost.
“Where are we?” She asked, voice thin as she tried to catch her breath.
“No idea.” Rose confessed. Even in the darkness, Martha saw her shake her head, one filthy hand pressed to her temple. “I think we lost it, though.”
“All I wanted to do was ask them about their medicine. I just wanted to expand my limited Earth medical knowledge.” Martha grumbled. She eyed Rose, but the other woman didn’t look like she was going to collapse from exhaustion despite the fingers pressing to her temple.
“I know,” Rose commiserated. She put her free hand on Martha’s arm and patted it gently as she leaned over and tried to catch her breath, too. She still had one hand pressed to her temple, which worried Martha. “Different cultures. Who knew such access meant some crazy quest first?”
“This isn’t a quest. This is insane.” Martha straightened and grasped at the pain in her side as she looked around the dimness. She’d dropped her torch a half-dozen turns back, though Rose still held hers. It did them little good and Martha was forcibly reminded of the sewers beneath New York.
And a tortured and angry and broken Doctor. Who’d ranted about death and choice and loss.
Bitter and ready to die.
(They’ll want to find their number one enemy. I’m just telling them where I am. She hadn’t had time to ask about that—being #1 Enemy to the Daleks hadn’t, in theory, seemed like a bad thing until faced with the squad sent to capture and execute said #1 Enemy. But his words haunted her whenever she closed her eyes. Martha didn’t see the macra in the pits of New Earth or the Lazarus scorpion thing she and Jack killed. She saw Daleks. She heard the Doctor.)
Martha had honestly feared he’d die there, that he welcomed death. He’d been dark and furious and so very isolated. And she swore that when he climbed the top of the Empire State Building, he planned just that—to die. And she’d be stuck in America in 1930 with Hooverville as her only hope of survival.
That had been a few weeks ago now, as far as she could tell. Right before Rose’s return. And Jack’s. And the strange new world she’d discovered in her already strange new world. When she’d embraced her Adventurous side, she hadn’t realized just how adventurous it’d get. Though Martha suspected she’d already begun to embrace that part of herself—she’d accepted the Doctor’s offer of a trip after all. A stranger taking her through time and space.
Martha looked at the other woman and shouldered her bow. Friend? She didn’t harbor the thickly clawing jealousy she had before she met the blonde. She didn’t know what she felt toward Rose, but it wasn’t anger or hatred or envy. Not anymore.
It was laughter and conspiratorial looks over tea and cooking in the kitchen. (The view is Gallifrey, Rose said. It’s...it was his planet. When I first traveled with him...let’s just say the kitchen needed remodeling.) It was late nights spent talking and hesitant confidences.
“We only had twenty-minutes from the time the taxi dropped us off,” Rose said as she, too, straightened. “Whose idea was it to park the TARDIS so far away? We’re down to what, five minutes now before whatever they meant by migration?”
Martha nodded—sounded about right to her—and ignored the bit about parking. That was all on the Doctor. And instead of moving the TARDIS, they’d piled in and taken a taxi as they followed the Doctor’s hatchling detector; Mr. It Goes Ding When We’re Close.
“All right, so rogue lizard with nasty tunnel-melting weapon and hatching eggs about to migrate to who knows where on the wrong planet are about a dozen turns the way we came.” Martha turned in the direction she thought they’d just run from. “Where are lover boy and charm mania?”
Rose’s startled laugh echoed a little too loudly around them considering they’d been running in the first place to escape an angry rogue lizard with a large tunnel-melting gun and horrid aim who had smuggled the eggs from the hatchery.
“What?” Rose clamped her hand over her mouth and tried to control what were now uncontrollable giggles.
Embarrassed, Martha flushed. She hadn’t meant to say that out loud. Thankfully it was dark in the tunnels and she knew Rose couldn’t see her embarrassment. Dark and stinky but the stench probably had nothing to do with anything. Except her overwhelming desire to burn her clothes. She loved this top.
“Um, just forget I said that,” Martha mumbled.
“Who is who?” Rose wondered, laughter so very clear in her voice as she stepped closer.
Martha sighed. “The Doctor and Jack—lover boy and charm mania. Anyone who can charm my mum can charm anyone,” she admitted. Then, because she had no desire to explain further, she nodded in the direction they’d just run from and started forward.
If they didn’t return the eggs to the hatchery, unhatched, before the start of the instinctive reptilian migration upon hatching, they couldn’t see lizard-people’s medicine. At this point, Martha didn’t care. It’d been idle curiosity at best when it all began, the differences between human or humanoid medicine and reptilian. But the Doctor had already agreed to the terms and conditions of this ridiculous quest without reading the fine print and now they were trapped.
And without arrows.
And without anyone who knew how to shoot the bow. Not that they had any arrows. Jack was holding those.
Rose was snickering. Still. “What,” she asked, another laugh catching in her throat as she followed Martha back the way they’d come. The torch bounced over the terrain as they resumed their trek. She cleared her throat and tried again. “What in the universe made you come up with those nicknames?”
She really didn’t want to say. In fact, Martha wished she could pilot the TARDIS and go back three minutes and clamp a hand over her mouth before those words ever left her lips. Thoroughly embarrassed, she was unwilling to admit the truth to Rose so soon after they’d established a friendship.
Martha scrambled for a diversion. “Do you think we’ll see Sarah Jane while we’re in London?”
As diversions went, it lacked subtly. Majorly.
Rose snickered again. “I’ll get it out of you sooner or later, Martha Jones,” she promised. With a shrug that only translated into the torch’s movement she asked, “Maybe. Did you like her?”
“Yes, very much so,” Martha agreed. “She’s smart and tenacious. I’ve never read any of her articles, but I doubt anything gets by her.”
It’d been a couple weeks, relative time, since they’d visited Sarah and the Doctor had offered for Martha to continue traveling with him. Traveling with them: him and Rose. The Doctor had made the same offer to both she and Jack; well, the Doctor had offered the chance to stay separately. Because she and Jack weren’t together.
Though she’d maybe like to be.
She was certainly attracted to him.
But he did have charm enough to melt her mother’s formidable will.
Maybe too much.
Martha had spent the last weeks over-thinking her attraction to Jack Harkness. It made her dizzy. And crazy with need.
“When did Sarah Jane travel with the Doctor?” Martha asked. If she was going to divert, she’d better do it well.
“Her time? Early 70s I think.” Rose stopped suddenly. “His?” Her voice grew faint and she turned in a slow circle. “Few hundred years ago...”
The last word was barely audible but it didn’t matter to Martha anyway. She stared at Rose, ice creeping through her veins at the sudden stillness of the woman. “What are you doing?” she asked, voice was low. Soft. Scared.
Rose didn’t answer. They’d stopped at an intersection, not that one looked any different from another. Rose had stopped mid-sentence and now turned in a slow circle, the torchlight a smooth path along the tunnel flooring.
“Rose?” Martha asked, voice still low.
No answer. In fact, Martha wasn’t certain the other woman had even heard her. She continued to turn in a slow, tight circle and from the faint light of the torch Martha saw Rose’s fingers once more pressed to her temple.
Martha took a half-step closer, one unsteady hand reaching out. Her fingers brushed over Rose’s bare arm and the shock of electricity zapped her. Jerking her hand away, she pressed her fingers together. How had static electricity built in the tunnels? It made no sense, then again Rose’s steady movements also didn’t.
Not to Martha, at least. And Rose was starting to really scare her.
Martha had never seen the other woman like this. Usually smiling and teasing and right in the thick of things with the Doctor, Rose had never once displayed this…whatever this was. It pulled Martha just as it repelled her. Not repulsed. Intrigued. Repelled as if she wasn’t meant to see this; attracted and she couldn’t look away.
Licking dry lips, she called her friend’s name again. “Rose?”
“Hmm?” Rose looked at her and blinked.
Martha cleared her throat and infused as much strength in her voice as she could manage. “All right there?”
Martha never had a single, simple emotion around her new friends, but rather enjoyed the complexity of it all.
“Of course,” Rose said reasonably as if the last several moments hadn’t just happened.
“You were turning in a circle and zoned out.” Martha stepped closer and tried once more to take her hand. Rose’s fingers were like ice, but Martha didn’t get shocked this time. “Got a big shock when I tried to touch you. What happened?”
For a long moment, Rose said nothing. In fact, Martha had the feeling that time had slowed. Which she would’ve said was a trick of circumstance except she really did know a Time Lord now. Could he slow time? She’d never asked.
Martha didn’t think Rose had that ability; she was completely human so far as Martha knew. Or had been told. She cleared her throat.
Rose gave her a funny look, shook her head, and turned left. “I think the Doctor and Jack are this way.”
“How do you know?” Martha asked. She strained to listen for shouts or arguments or even Jack trying to shoot the arrows sans bow. It’d be just like him frankly; he had a remarkable ability to multitask. So shooting the arrows while flirting with her wasn’t beyond the realm of possibility. Except she wasn’t there.
Martha sighed. She really needed to either stop obsessing over Jack Harkness or do something about it. And by something what she really meant was corner him and see where this attraction went. Even if it was only a single night. She was tired of fantasying about Jack, alone, in her shower.
Martha shook herself. Rose still hadn’t answered and she looked over at the other woman suspiciously. But Rose walked unerringly forward, sure footsteps silent on the floor. “Can you hear them?”
“No.” The word caught and for the first time since declaring which way to walk, Rose seemed unsteady. “I-I mean not like...like that. I never noticed it until...I came...back.” Her hand shook making the light bounce nervously.
“Before I was trapped, the Doctor and I had this…connection,” she began haltingly. “But only when...we were intimate.”
A thousand questions exploded in Martha’s brain. What connection? How deep? How intimate? What happened to it when you were separated? She held her tongue. (The one time Rose had mentioned her time away from the Doctor, the words had been pulled from her as if they physically hurt to say. She hadn’t offered details, only bare facts that clearly pained her to admit. I was trapped in a parallel world. No way to return. The walls between worlds were closed and I couldn’t get back to him. )
“Once I returned, our connection seemed to get stronger.” Rose drew in a shuddering breath. “And now, it almost feels like I can hear him. No.” She stopped then unerringly turned right. “Not hear. Sense. Feel.” She let out an annoyed huff. “I can’t describe it.”
“What, like telepathy?” Martha asked.
This was weird. Even for them. Then again, maybe not. She didn’t know either the Doctor or Rose well, despite how she’d once viewed the Doctor as an open man who found trouble, but always knew the right things to say and do. A man with a smile to light up rooms and a bright shine to his eyes. (That smile was his pre-Rose Smile™, but Martha hadn’t known what his true smile looked like until the other woman returned.)
Since Rose’s Return, Martha had revised her opinion of the Doctor. Now, Martha wondered if she’d ever know him even half as well as Rose did. And that saddened her. Did it anger her? Yes, a little; she considered the Doctor a friend. She considered all three of them, Jack, Rose, and the Doctor very close friends. And friends relied on their friends.
The Doctor had only relied on, opened up to, Rose. If she hadn’t returned, Martha didn’t think he’d ever have opened up to her, too. No. With sudden clarity, she realized he’d always remain the friendly but distant enigma.
Rose’s reply, adamant and just a little sad, startled Martha and she took a beat to remember what they’d been talking about. Right, yes, telepathy. And the strange connection between Rose and the Doctor. She wanted to probe, to ask more about this connection, but considering neither talked about their relationship, Martha doubted she’d get any more answers.
“Not like that,” Rose continued. “Just a connection. A bond. And only during sex.” Rose stopped again and held a hand out to stop Martha as well. “I think he and Jack are around the corner.”
“Wow. You retraced our steps exactly. That’s amazing!” Martha paused then said in an even lower voice than she and Rose had been using, “Can you, like, talk to him? Tell him where we’re at so he can get this stupid bow and we can leave?”
“I don’t think so,” Rose whispered so quietly, Martha wondered if her lips moved. “We have to touch for our bond to, well, work.”
Then the world exploded and Martha never had the chance to ask how that was, if Rose could feel-hear-sense the Doctor now when he was nowhere near them.
Apparently the Doctor thought he could use the sonic, really he was a tad too attached to that screwdriver. Now running, she and Rose rounded the corner to see chaos. Utter Doctor and Jack chaos. Jack had launched the arrows at the eggs and the Doctor had sonicked the arrows to open the nets, putting the eggs in stasis to prevent hatching and thus migration.
She and Rose dodged the wildly random shots from the lizard and sprinted closer.
The crazy rogue lizard was still firing away, shooting in a mad arc at the men. Rose shouted the Doctor’s name; he looked up sharply and for a heartbeat Martha saw relief and fear and such intensity it stopped her breath. But then Rose tossed the bow and the Doctor deftly caught it, firing the last arrow at the lizard to trap him in a stasis net as well.
In the eerie quiet that followed, Martha cautiously closed the distance between her and Jack. Rose had skidded down the crater to where the Doctor now studied the eggs and leaped into his arms. Their reunion was silent, with much staring and hugging and yes, even forehead touching.
He didn’t kiss her, as Martha thought he’d have done, but held her in a tight hug as if his life depended on it. As if Rose held the last breath of oxygen. Then the Doctor ran his hands up Rose’s arms, over her shoulders and cupped her face. He kissed her, deep and desperate. Rose ran her fingers in his hair, body tightly pressed to his.
For all the width and breath of the Doctor’s Rose Smile™, until this moment, Martha had never seen them do more than hold hands and hug. They hugged a lot. But other than that first moment Rose had run into the console room and leaped into the Doctor’s arms, Martha hadn’t seen them kiss until now.
Though Jack swore they were all over each other in a wide variety of places when he’d originally traveled with them. Martha wasn’t sure whether she believed him or not.
Martha shoved all thoughts of Rose and the Doctor’s relationship to the back of her head and looked at Jack. “What were you thinking?”
Those were not the words she’d expected herself to say or the coarse tone she’d wanted to use. Martha had wanted a flippant we saved the world tone. But the fear of the last twenty minutes clearly had other ideas. Jack hadn’t expected that, either, from the look on his face.
“When I threw the arrows or when we split up?” he asked. But it lacked his usual charm. It was harsh and hollow and Martha felt gutted just looking at him.
“Desperate times and all.” But his smile faltered.
Suddenly his hand wrapped around her shoulders and he yanked her to his chest. His hands were large and shaking as they held her close, his face buried in the crook of her neck. “What the hell were you two doing, cornering him like that?”
“We were going around,” Martha retorted. Or tried to. But the words were muffled against his chest. Her own arms wrapped tightly around his back. She didn’t feel like moving. Ever.
His heart beat frantically against her ear and it soothed and worried her. Jack had the uncanny ability to bring out so many emotions at once that she didn’t know where to begin.
“The lizard wasn’t where you said; he was off in some alcove. Saw us, started firing, we ran.”
Then Rose had a freaky ESP moment with the Doctor and they’d found the men again. But Martha didn’t say that. She didn’t think Rose wanted her to and she knew it wasn’t her business. Or Jack’s.
Martha promised herself she’d ask Rose about it when it was just the two of them. Something about the experience worried her. And Martha liked to think they’d established a close enough friendship for her to ask.
“Don’t do that again.” It was an order, a request, a plea.
“Don’t take my arrows again,” Martha said. But her hands flattened on his back and she held him closer. Pulling away just enough to look up at him, she smiled. Wobbly and shaking from the aftermath of too much adrenaline, she took the bull by the horns.
So to speak.
Jack’s lips were soft against hers, gentle though she felt an underlying current of restless need. It sparked an answering need in her. But he pulled back before she could enjoy more than a taste of him. He did, however, take her hand in his as they rejoined Rose and the Doctor.
“Let’s go home,” the Doctor said, hand firmly around Rose’s.
Five days later, Rose walked through the TARDIS door, smiling at the Doctor as he pushed it open for her. He hadn’t released her hand as he held the door, and immediately followed her, leaving the door open for Jack and Martha to walk through. His hand rested on the small of her back and Rose leaned into his touch. Warm and reassuring, his touch told her she was still here. He was still here. This wasn’t a dream.
“So,” the Doctor said as he shrugged off his coat and tossed it to its customary place on the strut. “We returned the hatchlings back home before the stasis nets wore off and they began their migration on Earth and not their own world.”
He reclaimed her hand, tugging her close as they continued up the ramp. “And Martha got the chance to look at all the medical records and ask all the questions she wanted to.”
Rose hadn’t minded that the majority of the time Martha poured over medical books and asked questions and observed surgeries and procedures, he’d been right there. In fact she’d encouraged his interest. Partially for Martha, so the other woman had someone to talk to about the differences and ask questions and generally have a fellow science geek to hang out with.
(Science geek? What’s that? He’d asked when she and Jack had snickered over the Doctor’s and Martha’s shared geekiness. It means you really love science, Martha had added, biting her lip to keep from laughing. He’d beamed at Rose in his I’m so impressive way and she’d had to pull him close and hug him tight. The Doctor really was just too adorable when he immersed himself in new knowledge.)
But Rose had also encouraged the Doctor to go with Martha for him, too. Personally, she had no interest in reptilian medicine and how it related to humanoids. None. So she corralled Jack into being her touring partner and had gone off to explore the rainforests.
(You sure about this? The Doctor had asked, antsy-rough-uneasy and held her closer. No, Rose had admitted. But I don’t want to be bored while you two wax poetic over lizard hearts and digestive systems or whatever. I’ll be with Jack, I’ll be fine. She’d tried, and failed, for a laugh. His arms tightened around her and Rose swallowed, hard. This was their first separation since her return. Neither were ready. Neither, she suspected, would ever be ready. We’re getting Jack and me mobiles when we return to Earth, the Doctor had added, lips against hers. Just in case. )
Besides trudging through the rainforests of the northern plateau gave her a chance to spend time with Jack, and Martha to spend time with someone who understood her need to explore other species’ medical science. Halfway up an incline as it rained down on them, the sound of the Jhanā Waterfall tempting them closer, Rose had realized something else.
Being separated also gave them time with the new dynamics that now played out. Before, when Jack had traveled with them, they’d often gone off as a trio unless Jack sought out his own entertainment. But now, with her and Jack hiking the rainforest and the Doctor and Martha getting the full medical tour, Rose felt that it added to the feeling of family she’d begun to notice.
Rose had begun to sense that bond forming shortly after they’d asked Martha and Jack to continue traveling with them. Almost as if Jack had once more found his place with her and the Doctor, and the addition of Martha had only solidified their unit.
This family thing was new and exciting and made her want to see where it led. When Jack had first traveled with them, it’d felt the same; he’d called them Team TARDIS. But once he’d... once all that happened on the Game Station and with the Daleks, Rose had never used the term again.
She felt like using it now. It felt right.
“Where to next?” the Doctor asked.
He looked at her strangely but she only smiled. She’d tell him her thoughts later. Since admitting that strange bond moment in the London sewers where she followed their link to find him again, he’d tried several ways to further increase their connection.
Rose didn’t know if she could do it again or how she’d done it in the first place, and the Doctor worried over that, But when he touched her mind he’d found nothing unusual except that their bond felt stronger.
(He’d thought it was a natural progression, but couldn’t be sure. After all, they’d been together for over a year before they’d been separated and now she’d been back nearly a month. The brain’s a strange place, Rose. Even I don’t know everything about it. I ran tests, I looked into your mind, but all I see is you and our link. He’d kissed her then, soft and full of promise and Rose swore she’d felt their connection flare even brighter. We can work on strengthening it, never got around to it…before. )
“Moon landing,” Rose said, pushing thoughts of strengthening the bond to the side.
That was for the privacy of their room, but she knew she’d like to try. They hadn’t the chance while here, and she didn’t want to talk about it in the open. It was too private for even their newfound family. But she’d known almost immediately she wanted to strengthen their mental link. She’d only waited to see if panic set in at the thought, but no. It hadn’t, of course it hadn’t. Only a sense of rightness-peace-acceptance.
“Oh?” the Doctor asked. “Really?”
“Really,” she said firmly. “It’s what everyone wants to do when they go into space—see the moon. All the things I’ve seen and all the places you’ve taken me and all those moons of other planets, I’ve never once seen the moon landing.” She turned and winked at Martha. “Even Martha saw the moon!”
Martha laughed from where she leaned against the console, her appointed spot to press buttons and hold levers. Apparently with four people manning the controls, the ride and landings were much smoother and the Doctor jumped around a little less. Rose missed the release of his energy, but he seemed a little calmer now, a little less apt to run, a little more centered.
(You know why this TARDIS is always rattling about the place? She’s designed to have six pilots, and I have to do it single handed. Now with four of us, we can fly Her. Almost like She’s meant to be flown. Jack you remember what to do? Rose, yes, there. He’d squeezed her shoulder, one hand drifting surreptitiously over her bum as she’d taken her spot. When they were alone, just the two of them, he used to press her against the console and kiss her until she forgot where they were going and what she was supposed to do. But he very rarely showed such blatant affection in front of others and Rose didn’t mind—he was that much more passionate in private. Martha, just keep that level, we’ll work on more later. )
Even when it was the two of them circling the console and flying Her, and flirting and laughing and kissing, it hadn’t been like this. Rose missed the bumpiness, the rough landings where she somehow always managed to fall close enough to the Doctor to steal a kiss or two. But he loved having so many competent hands to pilot his beloved ship.
“Yes,” Martha agreed, “but I’ve only ever seen the moon trapped inside a hospital with limited air and rhino police. I agree with Rose; I want to see the moon properly.”
“All right,” the Doctor easily agreed.
“Do you know,” Jack said from his (re)appointed position, “I’ve never been?”
“What?” Martha asked. “Never? Didn’t you say you were a Time Agent? Hopping all over the universe. And you never felt like hopping over to the moon?”
“I’m not from Earth.” He shrugged. “It wasn’t important.”
Had she ever asked Jack where he was from? No, and now Rose regretted it. But when he’d first joined them, he’d been bitter and angry and as closed off as the Doctor had been when she’d first met him. Jack hadn’t talked about his past and neither she nor the Doctor had pushed. (Woke up one day when I was still working for them, found they'd stolen two years of my memories. I'd like them back. Two years of my life. No idea what I did. Your friend over there doesn't trust me, and for all I know he's right not to.)
She and the Doctor had talked about it and agreed they’d give Jack time before asking, before maybe trying to find out what happened, possibly even suggesting the Doctor enter his mind. But then…Daleks.
Maybe Martha was good for him. This was the first Rose had heard him speak of his past since New York. And that had only been his most recent past, the 60-odd years between time-jumping from the Game Station and when they’d all been reunited. And even then, his conversation about it had been limited to things which had transpired between leaving the Game Station and now.
Rose eyed the two, half turned to each other. She glanced at the Doctor and moved closer, slipping her hand into his. He frowned at the couple; he felt protective for Martha, Rose knew.
She’d tried to make the Doctor understand it wasn’t his business, but he felt responsible for Martha much like he did everyone else. More so because she traveled with him, Rose supposed and sighed, nudging him in the ribs.
Both Jack and Martha ignored him and his stare; Rose couldn’t blame them.
“Rude,” she mouthed and he frowned harder, eyes narrowing slightly.
Leaning against him, the solid feel of his body home-need-arousal-future, Rose remained quiet and squeezed his hand to keep him so as well.
“But you’re human,” Martha pointed out.
“Yeah,” Jack agreed easily enough.
“The moon landing wasn’t important in the 51st century?” Rose asked, head having found its way to the Doctor’s shoulder. How long had it been since she felt his body against hers? Simple and reaffirming and oh so alive.
(Is this a dream? She asked just before lizards and eggs and the fine print on the help he’d agreed to provide in exchange for Martha being able to delve into their medical science. I don’t want to wake up and discover this is another in a long line of dreams I’ve had about you. Us. This. He kissed her, long and hard and hungry. His hand cupped her bum and lifted her against his hardness. It’s no dream, my love. )
“I mean,” Rose added, despite the memory and the warmth that flashed through her.
Part of her wanted to forget the moon and pin the Doctor against the wall and have her way with him. She cleared her throat but knew the Doctor felt her desire. That he wanted her as much as she did him.
“Isn’t the moon landing what started everything for humans?” Rose asked. “First the moon, then Mars, then space and across the galaxy.”
(What, that’s what we do when we get out there? That’s our mission? We seek new life, and, and… He looked at her with that half-smirk on his face she wanted to desperately to kiss off but they weren’t like that. Not yet. Dance, he’d agreed with a grin.)
She glanced up at the Doctor and knew he’d had the same memory as she. Rose smiled, soft and teasing, and full of promises for later.
“Just never got around to it.” Jack shrugged again. But his gaze only briefly flicked to them before returning to Martha.
“Where did you grow up?” Martha asked, taking her hand from the lever and leaning against the console.
“Little place called the Boeshane Peninsula,” he said softly, voice distant, eyes blindly looking at the console itself. “It was an Earth colony. We lived by the beach.” He shook himself and grinned, but Rose knew that grin—it was meant to hide pain and loss and a past still haunting him. It had worked on her when they’d first met, but she’d had plenty of practice deciphering the Doctor’s masking grins and had learned to do the same with Jack’s.
Apparently Martha knew that look, too, because she took his hand and held tight even when it looked like Jack wanted to pull back and distance himself from memories and concern and compassion and even them.
“Tiny little place in the middle of nowhere,” he continued in a brighter tone, patently false and fooling no one. “I wanted to travel and see the universe. I was the first one ever to be signed up for the Time Agency. They were so proud of me. The Face of Boe, they called me.”
Rose jerked and stared. “The what?” she asked, voice uneven as she tried to reconcile the big floaty face from billions of years in the future with Jack.
“But,” Martha began. “But I’ve met…” She trailed off and looked at the Doctor who looked shocked and speechless.
“No,” the Doctor said, drawing out the word in that way he had when he didn’t want to believe something but it was just too good not to believe. “No. Definitely not. No. No.”
“What?” Jack demanded. His sharp blue gaze swung from Martha to the Doctor to Rose and back to the Doctor again. “What?”
The Doctor’s free hand found its way to the back of his neck and he looked uncomfortable. Rose wanted to say something, what she had no idea, but the entire thought of Jack being The Face of Boe made her physically ill.
She sucked in a deep breath and tried to find her bearings. “What did I do?”
She didn’t know she’d said those words aloud until she felt the Doctor’s arms around her. One hand tilted her chin up and he looked at her so intently all Rose knew were his dark eyes.
“It wasn’t your fault. Rose,” he said, insistent-hard-adamant, “it wasn’t your fault.”
“What?” Jack demanded again, louder this time.
“I met The Face of Boe,” Rose heard Martha say. The words were distant and she made a concentrated effort to focus. “I met um…him? In the year five billion and fifty three.” She cleared her throat and Rose focused on her. “But…but that can’t be you.”
She didn’t sound so sure and Rose had a horrible gut-wrenching suspicion Martha knew the truth as well as she did.
“I did that,” she whispered miserably. “Jack, I did that to you.”
“No.” He rounded the console and took her arms, pulling her out of the Doctor’s embrace to hold her close in a quick, tight hug. “No. Even if that was me, Rose, no. You didn’t. You just wanted me alive and how can anyone blame you for that?”
She laughed weakly at his lame joke but nodded. Martha had also rounded the console and stood by Jack’s side. She looked shell-shocked but strong. Oh, Rose liked her more and more.
“He had a message for the Doctor,” Martha continued. She retook Jack’s hand and held tight. “He and that cat-nurse of his.”
Rose jerked again but didn’t say anything.
“He was dying and said everything had its time,” Martha continued, looking from Jack to the Doctor. “And he called the Doctor an old friend.”
Jack snorted. “By the year five billion? I must have a fantastic memory to do all that.”
The Doctor hadn’t said a word but Rose felt the tension coiled tight within him. His hand gripped hers and he took deep breaths. She tried to catch his gaze and when she managed to do so, saw the haunting dark look that followed him.
“You, well,” he said and tried to lighten the mood by drawing out that word. Rose wasn’t fooled. She knew that look, that ‘it’s all my fault’ look he had all too often. But why should he feel guilty? He wasn’t the one to bring Jack back. She was.
“I didn’t get the same feeling about fixed timelines with The Face of Boe like I did with you.” The Doctor stopped and frowned. His fingers clutched hers so tightly Rose lost feeling. She didn’t move, however. “Met him three times,” he added absently. “And I never felt like he was wrong. He never grated on my Time Sense.”
Martha cleared her throat. “If it was you, Jack,” she said gently, “you told the Doctor that he wasn’t alone. Said that specifically. You are not alone. ”
“I suppose,” Jack said slowly, “that you’re not alone. Not if I can’t die. Or won’t die for another five billion years. At least, if it really is me, I know when I do die. And that I will. That’s something, I suppose.”
Rose did not feel better about what she’d done to him, however unwittingly (or maybe she had known, maybe when she absorbed the Time Vortex, she’d somehow known and had done it on purpose). But Jack’s words: The Doctor wouldn’t be alone. That knowledge eased a knot of tension she hadn’t realized she carried until it unraveled and disappeared.
“Well.” Martha stood a little straighter and grinned. She shot Rose a look, and Rose wondered what she thought. She’d ask her friend later. “That’s not for a long, long time. And right now, I believe we were promised the moon.”
She glanced at Rose and nodded before returning to her appointed TARDIS flying position. Despite the revelations of the last twenty or so minutes, Rose hid a grin. Martha Jones was strong and compassionate and yes, brilliant, and Rose felt a warmth rush through her for the way she accepted what had just transpired and her concern for Jack.
The way Martha held Jack’s hand, the way she looked at him, the way she still did, didn’t escape Rose’s notice. Maybe, in this newfound family of hers, she’d speak to Martha about what was going on between her and Jack.
“Then that settles it,” the Doctor said, unnaturally quiet. He cleared his throat and some of his normal energy bled through. “Moon landing here we come!”
“And then tea with Sarah,” Rose reminded him with a cheeky grin.
He rolled his eyes and muttered something about domestics. Rose let her hand drift over his bum as he circled the console and winked at him.
“What are your intentions toward Martha?” The Doctor asked as he and Jack stood outside in the warm twilight of Sarah’s gardens.
They’d seen the moon landing four times from various vantage points. And may have inadvertently led Neil Armstrong to believe in aliens. Maybe. When the Doctor had hovered the TARDIS over the landing site and extended the shields so everyone could look down on it.
The Doctor had dreaded this conversation. Rose had tried to talk him out of it, promising to speak with Martha about her relationship with Jack, but he felt a responsibility to Martha Jones. Responsibility and friendship. The Doctor hadn’t planned to continue traveling with Martha after New York but was glad she was there, that she’d become part of their little family.
(What happened there? Rose had asked, the look she gave him telling the Doctor she already knew it was far more than he’d let on. I’ll tell you later, he’d promised but had thus far skillfully avoided it.)
Martha was brilliant and quick, he knew she’d make a wonderful doctor some day and was proud to know her. Proud and right now, a little worried.
“Is this the What are your intentions talk, Dad?” Jack asked with an unrepentant grin. “Come to ask me if I’m going to break her heart or steal her virtue?”
The Doctor grimaced; Jack noticed and laughed. This was already far too domestic. He should’ve let Rose handle this. (That’s what I love about you. The domestic approach. She’d laughed at the memories of every time he’d said that, and grabbed his tie to pull him to her. I think we’ve done domestic fairly well, Doctor, she’d purred and he forgot what they’d been talking about. He kissed her, all thoughts of Martha, Jack, and domestics vanishing in the heat between them as Rose pressed him against the corridor wall, her body warm and soft and so aroused for his.)
But had felt an obligation. Responsibility. Well, friendship, really. Damn.
“I care about Martha,” he said now. “And I know you, Jack—”
“You knew me.” Jack cut in. Hard-acidic-sharp words and raw-bleeding looks. “It’s been a long time, Doctor.”
He nodded, slowly, unable to dispute that. “I had to make sure Rose was safe. You know that. You know…” he cleared his throat, the memory of sending her away the first time and the second time, a painful knot in his chest even now. “My first priority has always been and always will be Rose,” the Doctor added quietly.
And unnecessarily. When he’d finally accepted Jack as part of the TARDIS, he and Jack had discussed it. At length. (Team TARDIS, Jack had laughed as they explored markets and festivals and planets that had no name he’d ever bothered discovering and who didn’t believe in fiction. I like it. Jack had said with a laugh. The TARDIS Trio, except then we’d be leaving this Sexy Girl out and I can’t do that. )
“I know.” Jack scrubbed his hands over his face and his posture relaxed. “And I’ve forgiven you that. I meant what I said then, you know.” His voice roughened at the memory and the Doctor knew exactly what he was going to say. “She was worth dying for…my sacrifice let her live.”
“She doesn’t see it that way,” the Doctor said in a moment of stripped down, bare honesty he hadn’t expected to share. He rocked on his heels and shoved his hands in the pockets of his suit jacket. “Blames herself. She doesn’t remember that time, not really. But she thinks it’s her fault.”
He remembered that time and the blood-freezing terror that he’d felt when Rose emerged from the TARDIS aglow with Time and passion and something so indefinably Rose he could still picture-smell-taste it.
“I told her it wasn’t,” Jack said, and the Doctor could hear the love-forgiveness-honesty in those whispered words. “I’ve never been loved like she loves me. I haven’t been part of something like what we had since I was a kid. Since before…”
Jack stopped and cleared his throat. He looked up at the sky, those few stars visible through the London smog and light pollution just beginning to peak out. This was not how the Doctor envisioned his conversation going with the other man. A short—what are your intentions, don’t hurt her or I’ll find a way to permanently kill you—conversation and he planned to be done.
Even if permanently killing Jack changed the future. Or the past. Hmm, English—so very limiting with its tenses. The Doctor still didn’t know if Jack was The Face of Boe, but believed it. Or maybe he wanted to believe it. So he’d have someone through the years. And oh, wasn’t that so selfish.
More selfish than his desire to want Rose in his life? Possibly, but at the very least right on par with that level of selfishness. (So if I lived 300 years would that make it hurt any less than if I only lived another 30? It’s not the length of time, Doctor, it’s the leap of trust.) He was so alone and so very tired of being alone. Rose had made him want to live, showed him all he’d forgotten in the aftermath of the war—the wonders of the universe, the marvels of the beings they met, the amazing sights and history and being part of it all.
Reminded him, no really she showed him, what it was like to not be alone any more.
And damn it, this conversation hurt. Memories and emotions and that sheer joy he’d felt when the three of them traveled together were hard to shake. They clogged his throat with so many things he’d become an expert in forgetting.
“I know.” More honesty and damn, the Doctor used to be so good at keeping things hidden. “I’d never planned to speak of the Time War or Gallifrey or hell, any of it with Rose.” He smiled, knew it was soft and sappy and full of all the love he barely understood and accepted and felt for her.
(The kitchen had been a surprise and he suspected his ship of treachery. The TARDIS knew how painful it was to think-remember-look at Gallifrey and yet Rose had somehow managed to convince Her to remodel he entirely practical if a little boring kitchen. Then Rose had walked in, excited and pleased and beaming at him and he’d forgotten his anger and pain and thought that maybe she was right. Maybe it was better with two.)
“She has a way of…” the Doctor trailed off and tugged his ear, suddenly at a loss for words.
“Making you want to talk,” Jack finished. “Yeah. That’s our Rosie.”
They stood in silence for several minutes, comfortable, compatible, companionable. “So, the year five billion, eh? Never expected that,” Jack admitted. “Never really expected to see old age, frankly.”
Jack stopped and added in a whisper the wind nearly took away. “Not even after I realized how hard I was to kill.”
“Immortality isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.” The Doctor scrubbed a hand over his face and shrugged. “Still, your timelines aren’t as knotted as they once were. Hard to look at, painful to even focus on, but not as knotted.”
“At least I’ll have a friend.” Jack looked at him sideways. “Being alone in this universe isn’t all it’s cracked up to be, either.”
“No,” he agreed and turned to look at his friend. Family. “It isn’t.” The Doctor cleared his throat.
Damn domestics. He really should’ve let Rose do this. Shoving his hands back into his pockets, his fingers brushed over the necklace he’d planned to give to her. Before. He hadn’t the chance to give it to her.
And then he’d regenerated and they’d felt their way through an already established and yet oh so new relationship. (I didn’t say anything because I thought I’d outlive you, he’d admitted. I had no plans to regenerate so didn’t think I needed to say anything…In reality, he’d thought that body would die when she did.) And then they’d argued and fought and screamed at each other—he’d run away from the depths of his feelings he thought would’ve, might’ve gone away with regeneration, and she’d withdrawn into herself.
It’d taken a long time before Rose had felt comfortable with him again. Longer still before he accepted her irrefutable place in his life and in his hearts. He’d planned on giving the necklace, and all it meant, to her. But that was before the Cybermen and before Torchwood and before...
Now, despite his unrelenting physical need to keep her close, to not let her out of his sight, to never let her go, he still hadn’t given it to her. Fear? Probably. His fear of relationships was about as legendary as the many names the universe knew him by.
“So, Martha.” The Doctor cleared his throat again. “I see how she looks at you.”
Jack nodded. He looked back up at the sky, hands in his own pockets. “My time living through Earth’s history has given me a new perspective on things. Love, relationships. Myself. Meeting Martha…”
He trailed off and the smile on his face said a thousand words more than Jack’d probably ever admit to.
“She’s smart—brilliant,” Jack admitted. “And fun, sarcastic, curious. Great to be around. More than that. So much more. But so young and innocent.”
“Do you want more than sex with her?” The Doctor asked. He turned to look at the other man, that wrongness no longer as hurtful to accept, no longer as brain poundingly painful. “How important is she?”
No hesitation, no thinking about it. Blimey. Jack had it bad. Then again, didn’t he know all about that? About not wanting to taint someone pure and honest and caring. But needing to so desperately because she was the one being to understand. And care. And love him in return.
“I want her,” Jack admitted softly. He turned and crossed his arms over his chest, not in defense but in a classic Jack stance the Doctor had grown used to since finding him in 1930. “But I don’t want to hurt her. I…care about her. Very much. Probably too much.”
“Yeah,” the Doctor muttered. He looked back at the house to see Rose watching him from the doorway, just visible from where they stood. He could see-feel-taste Rose’s smile and love. “I want to tell you to forget it, to leave her alone and walk away now. I don’t want to see her hurt, but then I’d be a hypocrite if I said that.”
“How did you survive losing Rose?” Jack asked quietly.
“I didn’t, Jack. Losing her nearly killed me.”
Jack merely nodded. But then the other man had seen them together, even if neither he nor Rose had been overly affectionate outside the bedroom. (I see the way you smile at her, Jack had once said as they waited for Rose. It’d been after dropping Margaret the Slitheen off; Rose was buying a clingy sarong and laughing with the woman holding up various samples. He’d taken extreme pleasure in slowly peeling it off her later. It tells me more than mere words ever could. )
“I’m going to see where this thing with Martha goes,” Jack admitted. “It’s different. She’s different.”
“Don’t hurt her.” It was the only advice the Doctor had to give. He shook his head ruefully. “Damn, this wasn’t how I envisioned this conversation going. Should’ve had Rose do this.”
They laughed and Jack swung an arm over his shoulders. “I expected you to do just that.”
The Doctor looked back at the house again. He smiled at Rose as she continued to watch them and wondered, only for a beat of his hearts, if he just knew she’d be there or if their bond truly was stronger and he actually could sense her. It felt like the latter, but he’d been so completely focused on her since her mysterious return, he wasn’t sure.
Needed to look into it.
Was scared to.
Torn between wanting more and running.
(You can run as far as fast as you want, Doctor. But I’ll be running beside you, holding your hand. You can’t run from me.)
With a final nod at Jack, he turned and walked back to Rose. No, he couldn’t run from her and he was the last person to tell Jack not to take a chance. If Rose hadn’t taken a chance on him, he didn’t know where he’d be. She may have been happier without him in her life, certainly safer at least, but he’d never change one moment of their time together.
He couldn’t live without her. Survive maybe. Barely. But never live. Rose was his life.
When Sarah Jane had mentioned the strange disappearances surrounding the old house, Martha had been thrilled—she loved a good ghost story and this mystery intrigued her. Apparently the Doctor hadn’t thought much of the stories, didn’t believe in ghosts, but promised to investigate.
Then Jack and Rose disappeared.
Martha had never seen him so terrified. So frantic. The look in his eyes was dark and thunderous and chilled a deep, primal part of her Martha hadn’t known even existed. He looked human but in those minutes, as he realized Rose was gone, she’d never seen him look more alien, not even when he’d confronted the Daleks.
This was worse.
This was deeper.
This was a man searching for his mate and would rip a hole apart time and space to find her again.
The Doctor had torn apart the already dilapidated house searching for Rose. His entire demeanor shifted from the interested and intrigued Time Lord in the middle of a mystery into something fractured and panicked. And dangerous.
She’d seen him angry and fighting in New New York.
She’d seen him angry and giving up in New York.
She’d seen him so happy she wondered if that Doctor was a different man from whom he was around Rose.
Martha Jones had never, ever seen the Doctor like this.
“Temporal shift,” he muttered, scanning the area with the sonic. His movements were jerky and desperate and yet so precise the image terrified her. “I felt a temporal shift. But how big? How strong? Why is this house so special? I didn’t feel it when we came in. No cracks or holes or…”
“She wouldn’t have been pulled back,” Martha tried to reassure him but her voice waivered. She knew what he thought, the first thing she had: Somehow that other world had sucked Rose back to it, separating the lovers again. “Why would that have happened? She’s not wearing some sort of tracking device, she can’t contact the other world, and that dimension thingy burnt out, right?”
Her logic did not ease the sheer terror that gripped him and Martha had difficulty calming him.
“Besides,” Martha tried again. “Why would Jack have disappeared, too?”
Then he’d realized what the stone statues were but it was too late, and she and the Doctor were also trapped.
Without the TARDIS. In 1969.
“So let me get this straight,” Jack said with a sideways look at the Doctor. “Stone statues have the ability to zap you into the past so they can feed off the potential energy of your future?”
When he and Rose had woken up in an alleyway, Jack hadn’t thought much of it. She’d made a comment about the statues looking creepy, had turned to him, and the next thing he knew he’d reached for her, found only empty air, and panicked. But when he’d opened his eyes, she’d been on the ground right next to him.
Okay, so they’d walked into some sort of temporal anomaly and had been transported somewhere else. It looked like Earth, sounded like Earth, Rose swore it smelled like Earth and he didn’t really plan on questioning her about that. Rose had tried to phone the TARDIS, but no answer. That didn’t surprise Jack, since both the Doctor and Martha were also in the house and the TARDIS was parked in the front.
All they had to do was wait for the Doctor to analyze the temporal shift and pick them up. (And maybe remind him they both still needed mobiles.)
It hadn’t worked like that.
Before Jack could truly start to worry, actually before more than ten minutes passed, Martha and the Doctor literally blinked into existence in the same alleyway. Jack gave the Doctor a moment—or five. He’d clearly been frantic as to Rose’s whereabouts. Jack understood that. He even understood Martha’s relieved leap into his arms.
Oh, he certainly hadn’t minded that and had made a joke about it even as he held her tighter than was perhaps wise.
And it did feel good to have her in his arms. Good and right and so perfect. But he wasn’t thinking about that because he cared for her. Not just wanted her. Not just liked her. Cared deeply for her. And knew himself well enough to know that he’d only mess something up if he took that next step and slept with her.
And Jack didn’t want to mess anything up with Martha.
However, the Doctor’s theory about what happened worried Jack. Because it made no sense even as it made perfect sense. In a “I travel with the last of the Time Lords and things seem to find us” way.
And he’d blinked into the alleyway the same way Jack and Rose had.
And he clearly didn’t have the TARDIS.
And he’d run his hand through his hair until he looked like a scared porcupine.
And he hadn’t released Rose.
Okay, so that last really didn’t surprise Jack. Still. He’d survived 1869-1930 and had no real desire to live through the latter half of the twentieth century the same way. Day by sluggishly agonizing day; the slow path didn’t really appeal anymore.
“I thought the Weeping Angels were just a myth,” Jack added as an afterthought. He’d released Martha, who hadn’t moved more than a half step away from him.
“Fascinating race, the Weeping Angels,” the Doctor began. But it sounded agitated and annoyed rather than the normal Doctor Imparting Information No One Else Could Possibly Know Tone he used. “The only psychopaths in the universe to kill you nicely. No mess, no fuss, they just zap you into the past and let you live to death. The rest of your life used up and blown away in the blink of an eye.”
His hand tightened on Rose’s just a bit more, the only outward sign of affection Jack had seen between this Doctor and Rose. It intrigued him, considering the way Rose and the Doctor used to be with each other. He hadn’t lied to Martha when he warned her to be wary entering rooms the couple was in. Apparently that warning had been unnecessary with this new Doctor.
Jack studied the Doctor and noted how he leaned more toward Rose, kept her so close to his side, and didn’t look like he was releasing her hand within the next century. Jack didn’t need to be a fly on the wall to know what their conversation would be like the moment those two were alone. The Doctor hadn’t let Rose out of his sight for longer than a handful of minutes since her return, baring his and Rose’s hike through the rainforest. Her disappearance must’ve sent him into a frenzy and Jack didn’t envy Martha having to calm him once the Doctor realized Rose had disappeared.
“But you’re still alive,” Rose pointed out. “We’re all still alive, so they didn’t kill us. How, exactly, is the rest of our life used up and blown away in the blink of an eye if we’re still alive?”
“No, the don’t outright kill.” He shook his head, but the tension still bracketed his mouth. Rose leaned against his arm and the Doctor let go of her hand only to wrap his arm around her shoulders, pulling her close.
“You die in the past,” the Doctor said. “And in the present they consume the energy of all the days you might have had. All your stolen moments. They’re creatures of the abstract. They live off potential energy. Are you always meant to live in the past? Or are you changing history?” he shrugged. “The debaters may never know.”
“People actually debate the myths?” Jack asked, joking, but genuinely curious.
“So we’re stuck here?” Martha demanded, ignoring his question. Fear and disbelief and amazement made her voice sharp and her beautiful dark eyes widen in panic. She stood so close to him, Jack felt her body stiff and tense and rigid. “Where are we anyway?”
“London,” Jack said. “What year, I don’t know.”
She glanced at him sharply, gaze unreadable. Without a word, she walked, quick strides with her boots echoing on the concrete, out of their little alley and around the corner. Cursing, he raced after her. Martha hadn’t made it far. She stood absolutely still in the middle of the sidewalk and stared at the newsstand. Trembling.
“Martha,” he said gently, not bothering to look around. People weaved around them but as far as Jack was concerned, they were the only two people on that sidewalk. He took her hand, gently twining his fingers with hers, and tugged her away from the newsstand, the sidewalk, and back to their hidden alley.
“Come on,” he said softly.
His entire body focused on her. Those feelings he tried not to have bubbling to the surface in an effort to be heard. Jack wanted to protect her from this, from being trapped without transportation, from this fear Martha seemed to have, from all of it. Everything.
And in that moment, between one heartbeat and the next, Jack knew what the Doctor felt. This was more than the love he had for Rose, more than knowing he’d die for her. What Jack felt for Martha made him understand leaving others behind if it meant keeping her safe.
Martha tore her eyes from whatever she saw in that newsstand and met his gaze. Trust. The absolute trust shining in her dark gaze humbled him even as it filled him with such power he felt as if he could do anything. She looked at him with that trust and Jack knew he’d tear apart the universe for her.
He cleared his throat, but that emotion, all those emotions he was too much a coward to name, caught his words, trapping them deep inside. Instead he tugged her hand again and offered her a confident smile. Martha nodded mutely and followed him back to where Rose and the Doctor waited.
Back in the relative privacy of the alley, Jack cupped her face and studied her. She blinked and nodded, took a deep breath and nodded again. He watched something in her ease and wondered why this particular escapade unnerved her so. Was it the lack of a TARDIS?
“1969.” Her voice broke and she cleared her throat. She managed a smile but it wasn’t her normal bright one. “We’re in 1969. That’s…17 years before I was even born.”
Jack’s mouth tightened. He didn’t know a lot about the specifics of Earth history, or even of London, but he knew enough from those lessons he’d taken specifically so he could apply to the Time Agency (No one from the Boeshane Peninsula has ever become a Time Agent, what makes you think you’ll be the first?) and having lived for 61 years here what frightened her. He wrapped his arms around her and held her close.
And just a little bit more. That elusive emotion he’d felt only twice before in his adult life. Five minutes ago, he tried to bury it, ignore it and keep it unnamed for his own sake as well as Martha’s. But now that love burst to the surface. Different from what he felt for the Doctor and Rose; they were family. Martha was...
Hope and desire and a chance and possibly a future.
In 1969 she had no future. In 1969, she couldn’t be the one thing she wanted to be. A doctor.
“We won’t be here forever,” he promised her. She pulled back and her smile widened just a little into a more natural one. “I promise, Martha. We won’t be here forever.”
“But isn’t that what these Weeping Angels do?” she demanded. “Take away your future?”
“Yes.” The Doctor appeared beside them, and Rose silently squeezed Martha’s shoulder. “But I’m not just anyone. And I’m not staying here.”
“Are you already here?” Rose asked suddenly. “I mean a past version of you? Can we hitch a ride and get back?”
“Yes,” he said slowly, drawing the word out. “But two of me in the same place is bad. And if there are two of me but only one TARDIS it’ll be even worse.” The hard, haunted look in his gaze made Jack decide against asking what that meant.
“What about my Vortex Manipulator?” Jack asked, already unstrapping it. “It died after I jumped out of Satellite Five, but you might be able to fix it.” He chuckled and squeezed Martha’s hand. “A little jiggery-pokery, eh?”
“No.” But he said it so fast Jack narrowed his eyes in suspicion. “Oh,” the Doctor added, “I can make it work, but it won’t here. Not now.”
“Because of that temporal shift?” Martha asked, sounding more like herself. “Did the Angels mess up some kind of time thing and we can’t use Jack’s Vortex Manipulator?”
“No,” the Doctor said, drawing out the word. “Not exactly.” Then his look lightened-shifted-closed off, and the Doctor said in his normal cheerful-borderline-frenzied voice, “But! I have this.”
With the hand not gripping Rose’s, he reached into his inner jacket pocket and took out what looked like a folder. Rose took it from him with a frown and flipped it open, gently extricating her hand from the Doctor’s grip to do so. The Doctor frowned down at her and rested his hand on Rose’s shoulder. His thumb gently rubbed the bare skin of her neck in slow circles.
“Is this what that woman gave you when we were hunting the crazy lizard?” she asked. “What was her name?”
“Sally Sparrow.” The Doctor nodded. He frowned and took the folder from her, brushing a kiss along her temple as he did so and reclaimed her hand. “But I’m afraid we’re going to have to wait.”
“How long?” Martha asked, not quite so panicky, not quite so shell-shocked.
The Doctor looked uncomfortable. He tried to run his hand through his hair again, but refused to release Rose’s hand and now held the file Sally Sparrow had given him. Jack had to admit, the other man looked kinda foxy when he did that. And he just knew Rose loved to run her hands through that hair.
“Well,” he said, rocking back on his heels. “We’re a part of events now. It’s already happened so we have to be here to make it happen.”
“Doctor,” Martha tried again, sounding exasperated but not as dazed. “How long?”
“A few months,” he admitted with a sigh.
“That’s stealing!” Martha hissed.
“Martha,” Jack said pointedly, “there’s no one else around. No need to whisper.”
The Doctor silently held out his hand for Jack’s Vortex Manipulator. He didn’t look at Martha, a slight, very slight, thread of guilt...and then it was gone. No, he felt guilt over many, many things but refused to add this one item to the list.
He’d flatly rejected letting Rose out of his sight long enough for her to find a job let alone work 8 hours a day. Rose had flatly refused to make Martha and Jack work to support them while he did “who-knows-what around a flat we have to find and I sit around and twiddle my thumbs.”
But the panic, the sheer terror that pounded through him in those few moments between her disappearing and he and Martha appearing in the same alley was enough to make his blood run cold. In those few moments the pain and anguish he’d felt over the months she’d been lost to him had crashed over him with all the force of a volcanic explosion.
He couldn’t lose her again. He’d barely survived knowing she was safe and alive in a parallel universe with her family. Not even knowing where she was? If she was safe? If she really was with Jack? The Doctor barely suppressed a shudder, the ice still clenching his stomach not dissipating one iota.
At the moment, he was just grateful his hands no longer shook.
This was their compromise. Kind of compromise. Actually, compromise probably wasn’t the right word. No, definitely not the right word.
Only way to survive the next several months.
Rose hadn’t commented on Jack’s suggestion to tap into Torchwood funds and use them for something good. In this case, the four of them surviving 1969 for the next several months until all the pieces were in place and he could make the video...er Easter Egg thingy and they got the TARDIS back.
He could’ve used Jack’s Vortex Manipulator to return them to the TARDIS. He hadn’t even metioned it to them. He’d thought about it and dismissed it in less than a beat of his hearts. His only reason was that he refused to chance any cellular decay to Rose.
Jack couldn’t die, they already knew that; any previous decay he’d accumulated over the years since leaving the Time Agency and their cellular regeneration method had been negated now that he was immortal. There was a reason Time Agents had short life spans—the Vortex wasn’t a place to jump through unshielded.
Jumping back to the TARDIS would’ve been Martha’s first trip unshielded through the Vortex and she’d have been fine with only that one trip, but Rose…
She already had Void Stuff covering her. And though it’d been her (miraculous) first jump via dimension cannon, the Doctor didn’t want to take the chance on her jumping from 1969 back to present day without the TARDIS. It didn’t matter that he could literally travel to any time and use their medical advancements, when it came to Rose’s health, the Doctor didn’t want to take any more chances than he already did.
There were other options: He could’ve sent Jack and Martha back and had them fly the TARDIS here to retrieve them. The Doctor had enough confidence in Jack to know the other man would probably be able to do it. Still an option, though no one had seemed to figure that one out.
He could’ve jumped back himself, found his ship, and returned for them. The Vortex would’ve had on real consequence for him.
But he didn’t want to leave Rose for even that long. Wasn’t even a matter of not wanting to, he seemed to physically unable to let her out of his sight for longer than a few minutes. Her hike through the rainforest with Jack? Watching her walk away with Jack while he and Martha looked through medical texts and asked science questions had been one of the hardest things he’d ever had to do.
Certainly the hardest since her return to him. Nearly sent him over the edge of a very high cliff. It almost embarrassed him how clingy he felt.
His only saving grace was that Rose seemed to feel the same. Oh, he’d laughed about it, when she’d returned to him after her hike; promised her this need of theirs to constantly be by the other’s side would eventually diminish the longer she was back. The Doctor wasn’t sure if he tried to convince her or himself and doubted he’d managed to convince either of them.
If he’d been terrified of losing her before, since her return to him that terror had tripled, quadrupled. Magnified by an infinity of exponents even his vast brain couldn’t seem to calculate.
So he decided to stay in 1969. And apparently had already decided to stay, given that Sally Sparrow had a purple file of events that had/would happen.
The Doctor sighed and focused on the current matter at hand. He didn’t know what to think about Jack’s association with Torchwood. That organization never seemed to die. Then again, Jack had worked for them in the past and it was oh so tempting to erase them from existence right here and now so Canary Wharf never happened. But then what? How much would that change things?
He’d thought the end of Torchwood had come with Canary Wharf, but now he realized that he’d never gone back to look, to check.
(The building had burned; he’d made sure of that in his fury and grief, vision blinded by white, deafened to all sounds except the howling call of hell. No one else had remained, though he wasn’t certain he’d have cared if they had. They brought the destruction of the Cybermen and Daleks on themselves. Torchwood took Rose from him. Took everything he’d built with her, everything he’d rediscovered about himself after the Time War and smashed it as if it hadn’t mattered. Just another unwanted nothing in their quest to own all. They’d wanted to destroy him, and in the end they’d succeeded in doing just that.)
Jack. The Doctor studied the Vortex Manipulator and popped open the case. It’d taken Jack back nearly 200,000 years then burnt out. Why? Because of the length of the jump? The Doctor didn’t think so. The thing had been in perfect working order before then—Jack had simply had no reason to use it when travelling with them. So why had it jumped so off course? And then burnout so Jack was forced to live through 61 years on Earth?
The coincidences kept adding up:
*Jack landed in 1869, about the same time he and Rose had spent Christmas on the rift in Cardiff.
*Jack had mysteriously and miraculously been in New York when he and Martha had been there and had somehow found them across the city.
*Jack worked for Torchwood and made it his mission to keep them away from the Doctor.
*Rose’s very first jump with the dimension cannon had worked and she’d literally landed right outside the TARDIS.
*Rose had landed right outside the TARDIS just as Jack had arrived there as well.
*The only way the Doctor saw how that could’ve happened was the emergency temporal shift Dalek Caan had used to escape.
And now he felt odd ripples in time, the likes of which he hadn’t since… well, the Time War. The Doctor’d thought it was Jack, but the other man’s presence didn’t grate on him any more than usual and he saw Jack’s timeline as a hard fixed point straight through to the future. (Five billion years into the future, apparently.) So what was it? The Doctor had tried to focus on them, see if he could distinguish one ripple from another from another, but all he’d managed to see were peculiar overlaps.
Things that were happening, that he’d made happen, or that he would make happen.
Time was changing and the echo of it gave him a headache. Still, he didn’t sense a paradox or a tear or anything of the sort.
Had Dalek Caan’s temporal shift somehow opened the walls enough between universes? Was that last Dalek in the other universe now? Or somewhere else? Caused this strange backlash he felt? The Doctor’d see that Dalek again and knew that with a dreaded certainty. And the rage from that knowledge burned hard and hot in the pit of his stomach.
The Doctor had lied to Rose. He hadn’t told her about New York and the Daleks, period. Hadn’t been able to bring himself to. Hadn’t been able to confess that he’d let one escape. After she’d scattered their ashes across the universe as a shining golden goddess, after she’d been lost in another universe trying to pull those Daleks into the Void, he couldn’t bring himself to tell her.
One more burden to carry.
Now he learned the extent of Jack’s association with Torchwood. Yes, there was the heavy ball of guilt that refused to dislodge whenever the Doctor thought about how Jack had been tortured and killed repeatedly in an effort to discover what made him tick. And yes, the Doctor knew that it was his own fault for leaving Jack in the first place. (He and Rose had argued over that quite loudly and passionately, but she said she understood and he could only hope that understanding came with forgiveness.)
“Does Sarah have a key?” Rose suddenly asked. She’d slipped her mobile from her pocket, fingers hovering over the buttons.
The Doctor looked up at her with a frown. She gazed steadily back, gaze soft-understanding-knowing, and stepped closer. With a quick smile she folded herself onto the ground next to him and rested her head on his shoulder.
How did she do that? How did she know what his thoughts were and the exact thing he needed? A touch, a smile, a brush of her hand over his.
The darkness of leaving Sarah behind and not bothering to look her up later? How did Rose know the guilt he carried? He hadn’t told her, not about Sarah Jane, even after they’d screamed at each other over secrets and lies of omission. Rose had just seemed to know then…would she understand now-this-yet another secret and one so very important? Sometimes when she looked at him, he thought she knew all his secrets and was only patiently waiting for him to share everything with her.
He’d have to tell her about the Daleks. Dalek. Just one. Always just the one.
“No,” he whispered in answer to the question she’d asked only a moment ago. “No, she doesn’t.”
“So we can’t just ask her to press a homing beacon and the TARDIS will find us? Or maybe K9 can pilot the TARDIS here?” she asked a little too innocently.
He looked down at her to find her grinning, tongue poking out of the corner of her mouth in an entirely too enticing way considering their current situation. He always wanted her, the passion simmered just beneath the surface until he thought he’d go mad from trying to rein it in all the time and not simply spend the rest of his days making love to her.
In the five weeks since her return, he’d found it harder and harder to stop himself from keeping her safe in their bed. When she grinned up at him like that, he knew resisting her was hopeless.
The Doctor cleared his throat, tried to rein in his depthless passion for her, and frowned.
He frowned harder at her laugh. He didn’t see what was so funny. They were trapped in 1969 with no way of getting back to the TARDIS except to follow the somewhat vague and not entirely cohesive papers Sally Sparrow had given him. His only consolation was that it had happened so it would happen.
Or to live through nearly 40 years. The Doctor refused to even contemplate that last option.
(I can’t watch you die, Rose. This body won’t age and I can’t—he’d tried to explain how painful it’d be to have her for only a handful of decades before she died, but as usual she’d brushed right over his fears and concerns. She hadn’t brought up Reinette, not this time, and he had hoped they’d moved beyond that particular bump—accident? jolt? hit? in their relationship. Yes, yes, yes. We’ve had this argument before. Twice, actually in some form or another. And I’m tired of listening. The only question I have now, Doctor, is whether or not you care enough about me to stay with me. Rose hadn’t used the word love, and he’d noticed that at the time.)
“You don’t have a homing beacon, do you?” she snickered.
“No.” He cleared his throat with a haughty sniff. It was a good idea, he had to admit. “Never needed one before.”
Rose laughed harder but didn’t comment again. She returned her head to his shoulder and he knew it was her way of saying he should get on with it. The Doctor focused on the Vortex Manipulator and got to work.
Parts from both his pockets and Jack’s were spread out around him as they cobbled together a working computer to access Torchwood’s accounts. He really had missed working with Jack; they seemed to fit so seamlessly when it came to things like cobbling together electronics to break into a bank. To be fair, this was the first time for that. But there had been the time they’d needed to break out of their cell on Godian IV with the sonic, Rose’s shoelaces, and Jack’s wire cutters. It was one of the reasons he’d first let Jack touch the TARDIS, well that and his obvious respect-affection-regard for the ship.
However, to his pleased surprise, Rose helped. Not in a handing him pieces or holding wires while he sonicked them together. No, she’d certainly changed from the woman she’d been, grown and lived and learned. Now, she knew what certain parts were for and plucked them out of the mess of objects before either man could ask.
It was unbelievably sexy.
Emotion and passion and need for her welled within him until he wondered if he wouldn’t burst from all he felt for her. The Doctor wanted to kiss her right there and tell her so, wanted to show her, wanted to let the complexity-depth-intensity of his need, of his love, of everything he couldn’t voice bleed through their bond so she’d know.
“I did say I learned enough building the dimension cannon to earn a doctorate,” she had teased, eyes twinkling, tongue poking from the corner of her mouth. He swore she did that just to drive him crazy.
“All right,” he said now from where he sat cross-legged in the alleyway. “It’s working. I can use the sonic to tap into their computers; security can’t be that intense, not in 1969. No cameras. There are only a handful of cashpoints at this point, so we’ll have to find one far enough from where we find a flat so they can’t track us. And we have to find a flat near here, since it seems the Weeping Angels from the house transport their, ah, victims, here.”
“And then what?” Martha asked. She’d stood to wander to the mouth of the alley but now sat between Rose and Jack.
He knew what she was thinking, it was the same horrible thought he had—that they’d be trapped here. But he refused to let that happen and silently promised he’d get her, all of them, out of here and back to the TARDIS. And in a timely manner.
The Doctor eyed her then grinned. Rose had made him swear not to speak with Martha about her feelings for Jack. And after that horribly domestic and quite frankly terrifying conversation with Jack, the Doctor had been all too happy to avoid the whole topic.
When he’d haughtily informed Rose that he and the TARDIS were not matchmakers, she’d only laughed and kissed him.
“Then,” he said, standing. He offered a hand to Rose and pulled her tight against him before twining their fingers together. “We find a flat.”
“Very domestic of you,” Rose teased quietly. “Can we shop for curtains, too?”
He felt the tips of his ears heat and glared down at her. She was laughing at him again. “I need a place to work,” he began, feeling his face flush.
“With carpeting,” Rose added. “And walls. It’ll be all right, Doctor.” She patted his chest, right between his hearts. Her spot, she’d said, claiming it with a kiss. “I promise to help ease the thought of hearth and home.”
The look she gave him would’ve scorched concrete. He cleared his throat and tightened his hand around hers. Maybe two flats so he didn’t have to worry about Jack sneaking into their room or listening in…
It’d been a week since Jack had siphoned enough funds from Torchwood to last them a year by living as outlandishly as they wished. None of them had commented after Martha’s initial hesitance over the whole idea. Rose had even thought the Doctor felt an odd justification over stealing those funds. The dark-angry-primal look in her lover’s eyes had made her glad Torchwood wasn’t right before him.
Rose had the feeling if they had been, he’d have changed history in a blink of an eye and never looked back. He still hadn’t forgiven them Canary Wharf. Rose hadn’t either, (heartbreak, loss, love rediscovered, trapped, Cybermen and Daleks and so, so very many deaths) but she did find them useful in that other world of armed guards at every estate and a class system still firmly in place despite the absence of the monarchy. Or maybe because of. Rose had never looked into that too much, so focused on her work.
Well, they were useful enough for her to return to him, though neither of them had managed to figure out what was going on with the stars disappearing. Sarah Jane had put her massive super computer, Mr. Smith, on it. So far even he hadn’t figured anything out, and the TARDIS’s scans had yet to discover anything useful about her successful first jump or the disappearing stars.
Rose’s fingers curled over the basket she carried down the market aisle as if that move somehow kept her anchored in this world. She swallowed hard and pushed her fears of being pulled back to the other universe to the dark corner of her mind that refused to die. It’d been weeks since she returned. Nearly a month and a half she thought, though linear time had little meaning when traveling with the Doctor.
In the week since Jack had tapped into Torchwood’s accounts (stole-embezzled-most certainly did not borrow) they’d gone flat hunting—for a flat without carpeting of course. And shopping, much to the men’s chagrin. (All right, no curtains, Rose laughed as she pulled the Doctor out of their new bedroom. But a bigger bed than the flat came with, yeah? ) But it was necessary to fit in, and given they weren’t certain how long they needed to stay in 1969, they needed to fit in.
A week since the building manager at the complex they finally, finally decided would work (location-space-non married people requirements all check) had given Martha strange looks and asked if she was their maid or their whore.
A week since Jack had almost decked the guy and a week since Martha had smoothed it over with a rambling explanation of her place in their quartet worthy of the Doctor. It’d certainly confused the building manager enough to accept the extra money Jack had thrown at him with a hot, contemptuous glare that promised pain and death if he so much as looked at Martha again.
Needless to say, no one had seen the building manager since.
They were currently on the lookout for another flat. None of them wanted to stay in a place that didn’t accept Martha as an equal, but in 1969 London it was proving difficult. And four-bedroom flats who accepted unmarried couples were all but unheard of. As it was, Rose had become the Doctor’s wife (she didn’t mind that part) and Jack was now the Doctor’s brother (he’d teased and laughed at the Doctor over their new familial connection).
Even now, with the way the words “This is Rose, my wife” had rolled off the Doctor’s tongue as he explained, a shiver of rightness-affection-certainty washed through her. She’d never needed that moniker before, but hearing him say it made her insides twist and flutter. And with the way he’d looked at her, Rose didn’t think he’d minded, either.
Unfortunately, no one questioned Martha’s place. They barely looked at her. It made Rose sick. Martha had been a little more—not accepting, Rose thought now. Dismissive. Hurt and shocked at first, but then coolly unconcerned.
Because she trusted the Doctor to get them out of here.
Because she trusted they wouldn’t have to be trapped in 1969.
Because she trusted her friends…her extended family.
And Martha had later confessed that she’d been grateful they’d taken money from Torchwood and she didn’t have to work. Rose and Martha had spent a lot of time talking while Jack and the Doctor tinkered on a timey-wimey detector.
In the end, the racism, the sexism they both encountered on a simple walk around the city, even not having to work and having very little to occupy their time, it all made her closer to Martha—more open, more affectionate. What had started with late night talks in the TARIDS had turned into a way for both women to thumb their noses at those who didn’t accept Martha. It’d turned into a true friendship and one Rose discovered she’d desperately needed.
Someone to talk with and laugh with. Rose loved her new closeness with the Doctor, but it was nice-freeing-fun to have Martha with her, too.
“Should I be worried that we left the boys together?” Martha asked quietly as they walked down one aisle of the market and up another. They ignored the looks and whispers and continued on as if nothing awkward happened. “They seem to both have an affinity for explosions.”
Rose laughed, a soft, understanding sound that almost sounded natural, but didn’t correct her. She debated telling her new friend about the time they’d installed the extrapolator in the TARIDS, but decided against it. Even now, after all her studying and own tinkering and work on the dimension jumper, she didn’t understand all the technical bits about the extrapolator. And really, it hadn’t been either man’s fault, strictly speaking.
Back then she hadn’t understood a lot of the technobabble between the Doctor and Jack. (I wish I’d listened more to the Doctor, she’d admitted to Mickey one night when the cannon wasn’t working and she was tired and depressed and all she wanted was to curl against the Doctor and feel safe again. When he went on and on about this or that or some other technological wonder. Who knew I’d need to so badly now? Mickey had chuckled but hadn’t said anything. He held her as she sat there, no tears, not anymore, but feeling so utterly hopeless it consumed her.)
She chose not to think about Margaret the Slitheen. Or how installing the extrapolator had nearly killed them all. Or how that visit to Cardiff had been both the best trip she’d taken with the Doctor, their first time making love. (Make love to me, Doctor. She stepped closer, heart racing so loudly he had to have heard it. She licked her lips and placed her trembling hands over each of his hearts. I don’t want there to be any question. I don’t want Mickey. I don’t love Mickey, not like that. I broke it off with him; he knows we’re not together anymore. The Doctor had made a harsh sound, a groan of her name, a protest, an acceptance. Rose. And had kissed her until her head spun.)
And so near the end of their time together as Team TARDIS.
And how she’d killed the Doctor.
Instead, Rose pushed all that to the same dark corner of her mind where all her other fears had settled but never truly disappeared. She’d long ago come to terms with their trip to Cardiff and those lingering insecurities—or had tried to. Pushing those thoughts to the back of her mind didn’t lessen the ecstasy of making love to the Doctor. Or the loss of the man she’d first fallen in love with any easier to bear.
Clearing her throat, she tried to lighten the mood despite her own rather dejected frame of mind. “If they’re going to blow something up, it’s best we’re not around.”
She didn’t mention that she and Martha would then be stuck in 1969 with absolutely no way back or out or away from here. No need to further depress the both of them.
Rose had called Sarah twice in the last week with promises of keeping in touch weekly. The other woman promised to try and keep people away from that house and figure out some way to alert the police without her looking like a loon. Rose had promised her a new TARDIS key and had jokingly added in the bit about a homing beacon.
Sarah agreed, with a relieved laugh, to have Mr. Smith start working on something.
If the Doctor didn’t blow himself and Jack up first. Rose’s breath caught; if they did, she supposed she could find an earlier version of him, or even an older version, and hitch a ride. At least that way Martha could finish her studies.
The thought of the Doctor dying chilled her straight through and she shoved that thought out of her head. She refused to think on it. Rose had long ago come to terms with her own mortality and the fact she’d die centuries before the Doctor—even with the entirety of humans’ medical advances at their disposal. But the thought of her living without him (again) immobilized her. She knew that was what the Doctor felt at her mortality and resolved once more to make sure the years they had together were fantastic.
“Feel like salmon?” she asked instead and quite unenthusiastically.
“I suppose,” Martha said just as apathetically with a nod to the fish. Then she stopped as Rose waited at the fish counter for the guy to wrap it up. “Wine. I feel like wine. Lots of wine.”
Rose glanced at her friend and agreed. “Yeah,” she said softly. Then with more enthusiasm she straightened and smoothed a hand down her new dress. “Yes. Wine. And we’ll toast to...to...us. You and me. Because without us, those two would be completely lost.”
“Yes!” Martha agreed and smiled. The first real smile Rose had seen since they’d arrived here a week ago. “And we’ll toast to knowing the future.” She laughed and it was so light, Rose felt her own mood lift.
“And knowing we’re going to get out of here,” Rose agreed with an equally happy laugh as they left the fish counter and walked faster down the aisles.
“And to friendship,” Martha said in a softer voice.
Rose stopped and looked at her. Though it was an unorthodox friendship and not one either woman had knowingly set out to have, yes. What she and Martha shared was most definitely still friendship. Oh, she’d been jealous of Martha when she’d first returned (Who’s Martha? Jealous and wary and possessive, and yes even gratified he’d found a friend to travel with.) but that jealousy had quickly faded. Rose knew how the Doctor felt about her, it was obvious in every touch, every kiss, every smile and hug and soft glance.
Martha had seemed to have had to endure the brunt of his grief, and managed to help him through at least a little of it. And for that Rose would love this woman forever. Martha’d been there, however unknowingly, when Rose hadn’t been able to. And no matter what Rose had thought or felt or wanted, Martha’s sheer presence had helped the Doctor.
It was enough for a basis of friendship. And if the threads were still a little loose, Rose didn’t care. They were tough threads.
“Yes. Let’s toast to friendship.” She squeezed Martha’s hand and bumped her shoulder, completely uncaring of the looks she received.
Rose glared at the lift as it took its sweet time moving. Or maybe it wasn’t moving. Maybe that was the problem.
“Maybe Jack cannibalized parts,” Martha muttered from beside her, arms also laden down with bags from their shopping.
Chuckling, Rose sent one final glare at the lift doors and sighed.
“Come on,” Martha said in cheery tone at odds with her earlier depression. “It’s only four floors.”
Rose groaned but followed her friend to the stairs. These heels were killing her; she really missed her trainers. Whenever she dressed up now, she tried to wear comfortable shoes for the nearly inevitable running she and the Doctor (and now Jack and Martha) did. There’d been a decided lack of running this last week.
They’d just started on the last flight of steps, slightly out of breath, wondering how she managed to get out of shape in only a week, and promising her arms she’d begin a yoga regimen ASAP, when they met the building manager, Mr. Cline.
“Ladies,” the man said with a smile Rose decided looked oily despite his moderately well-dressed and probably forced-polite demeanor. He looked none the worse for wear after Jack’s attack, which Rose decided was a pity.
She ignored him and watched Martha do the same. Apparently he didn’t like that. Cline turned on the stairs to block their ascent, the smile most definitely oily now.
“All alone?” he asked. “No men to help you?”
Martha snorted. “We don’t need our men for the likes of you.”
Rose did not like the glint in Cline’s eyes as he looked Martha over. She shifted and prepared to drop the bags full of dinner and wine and the Doctor’s bananas for Martha’s special banana bread, sans nuts, he loved so much in order to defend both herself and Martha.
“Not talking to you, missy,” Cline sneered but his gaze slid over Martha as if it was his touch.
“You don’t want to do this,” Rose said calmly.
She’d grown up on an estate and had learned early to take care of herself. Granted, everyone was terrified enough of her mum to leave her alone, but there were always those boys who wanted to prove how tough they were. Jackie had insisted on Rose taking lessons to protect herself—and had then insisted Rose teach her those moves.
The one time Jimmy Stone had tried to even swing at her, Rose hadn’t hesitated. Sure, those early self-defense lessens hadn’t lasted long, but they’d gone far around the estate.
Not to mention what she’d learned from the Doctor and then later Mickey while working for Pete’s Torchwood.
“Ah, yes, Mrs. Smith, though I highly doubt you and that doctor-fella are married.” Cline’s gaze ran over Rose but she held perfectly still. “All living in sin, I reckon despite those fancy papers. If you’re putting out for him, and that supposed captain, no need not to spread yourself over me.”
Rose held her tongue and glared. She refused to tell this slime ball anything, let alone the status of her relationship with the Doctor. Instead she set her bags down on the previous landing, careful with the wine, and walked slowly up the steps to stand beside Cline. Behind her, she heard Martha do the same.
“Mr. Cline,” she said in a low voice with all the menace she’d learned over the years. “You’re going to leave Martha and me alone. And if I find out you’ve been spreading rumors, you won’t need to worry about either the Doctor or Captain Jack.”
Cline snorted and shifted again so he towered over Rose. “Oh?”
“Don’t be a fool, Cline,” Martha snapped. Rose didn’t look at her but knew she’d moved down to the landing. Not out of fear, Rose realized with a start, but so as not to get in the way if Cline attacked. Oh, she liked Martha more and more. Smart woman, Martha Jones.
“What Captain Jack did to you is nothing compared to what Mrs. Smith will. I suggest,” Martha said with a little smile in her voice that hinted at more than she was telling, “you leave now.”
Cline didn’t get the hint. He grabbed for Rose and snarled about little tarts and how he knew exactly what to do to them.
Rose reacted. She brought her knee up to Cline’s crotch, a classic move that worked on a surprising number of species. He gasped and doubled over, but before Rose could do more than back from his now loose hold, Martha was there. She grabbed Cline by the hair and yanked his head up until he had no choice but to look at the women.
“Touch either of us again,” Martha spat, “and you won’t be able to do anything with anyone ever again.”
Then she shoved him. Cline stumbled backwards and landed unceremoniously on his bum. Rose stared at Martha in admiration just as the stairwell doors crashed open and the Doctor and Jack burst through.
The Doctor skidded to a halt on the final step and stared at Cline, now kneeling and gasping on the landing. He raised his eyebrows at Rose, who shrugged.
“He tripped,” Martha said and calmly went back down the steps to retrieve her bags. “Here, Jack. Help with these, will you?”
Bemused, Jack jogged down the flight and grabbed the bags from Martha; the pair of them continued back up the steps to their floor. Rose bent to grab the bags she’d carried, passed off half to the Doctor, and took his hand. She ignored Cline—still gasping and clutching himself—as she stepped around him and smiled at her lover.
“For such a posh flat, there are certain elements that leave much to be desired.” Then she tilted her head and frowned at him. “What are you and Jack doing here, anyway?”
“Uh,” the Doctor began. He glanced down at Cline, now moaning but apparently well enough, or smart enough, to continue on his way down the steps. “You didn’t feel right.” He grinned at her and lifted her hand to his mouth, gently kissing the inside wrist. “Something about our bond felt off—stiff and closed and angry—so I yelled for Jack and we were going to go find you.”
“Why not take the elevator?” Rose wondered, staring at him curiously.
The Doctor paused and held the door open. “No idea,” he admitted with another frown. Then he beamed at her. “Apparently you didn’t need any help.”
“Nope!” Rose said, popping the ‘p’ in a habit she’d picked up from him. “Martha took care of him.”
“Hmm,” he said and slowed their pace as they walked down the hall. “Cline isn’t the sort to let this go. I don’t want either of you going out without either Jack or me.”
Rose rolled her eyes and huffed out a breath. “Doctor, we’re perfectly capable of taking care of ourselves.”
“I know that,” he agreed a little too readily. She narrowed her eyes at him. Then he added softly, “But I worry.”
She was going to argue with him, but the lingering feel of their bond in her head stopped her. He’d been truly terrified. The persistent feel of his fear still echoed along their bond, real and cold and he’d been too far away and he should never have let her go to the market and he should’ve gone with her.
She’d felt that before, that grasping panic, the don’t leave me, the I can’t find you terror-fear-hearts-stopping panic. At the time Rose hadn’t realized it, too disoriented from being transported and landing, hard, in alleyway, but that tingling of angry-terrified-rage when she’d disappeared from the house thanks to the Weeping Angels stayed with her.
Squeezing his hand, she stopped right outside the open flat door. “Doctor,” she whispered and kissed him softly, lips pressed to his. “We’re fine. Martha and I are fine. But if you’re worried, maybe we’ll all stick together for now, yeah?”
Rose refused to admit to her own need to keep him close. Or her own antsy-impatient-edgy need to return to the flat and know he was there. She needed to be better than some clingy woman, though at least she knew where her need to keep her lover close came from. Still, she was an adult and could survive a couple hours at the market away from the Doctor.
Even if it made her skin itch.
“We’ll work on it,” the Doctor whispered, seeming to have read her mind. He grinned and winked at her. “Though I do like the thought of keeping you in our bed.”
Rose laughed and playfully shoved him with her shoulder. They’d work on the constant fear of letting the other out of their sight. And she knew, because she knew the Doctor, they’d work on their bond. She didn’t know if it was better to be so closely connected to, bonded with, the Doctor or would be more challenging—problematic?—if they were separated and he knew she was in danger.
Either way, living with and loving him was certainly never dull.
Martha’s Banana Banana Bread Recipe for the Doctor.
Rose turned up the radio and poured a glass of Pinot Noir. Martha and Jack were currently in the kitchen making the grilled salmon and generally being a cute couple. It made her smile to watch them laugh and work around each other as if they’d been doing it for years instead of a little over a week. Well, over a month if she counted their time in the TARDIS kitchen, but that was so much bigger than their flat’s kitchen it barely counted.
Still, she worried for Martha; until this afternoon’s conversation and subsequent wine buying spree, her friend hadn’t handled living in the past very well. Buying the wine, laughing over friendship, and that confrontation with their building manager, Mr. Cline, had all helped to shake Martha from her depression.
Not that Rose blamed her for being depressed—she planned to keep traveling with the Doctor no matter where it took them. And while she missed her mum, Pete, Mickey, Jake, and little Tony, her family now lived on the TARDIS. Martha, on the other hand, had a life beyond traveling and a family on Earth. Martha had plans for her life, her future.
What did Rose have that wasn’t with the Doctor, the TARDIS, and exploring?
What did she have? Rose wondered as she drank her wine. More than the Doctor’s companion, she was his lover-best friend-confidant. Outside of that category-classification-pigeonhole what else was she? In Pete’s Torchwood, she was project manager on the Dimension Cannon; a respected woman of alien knowledge and a technical scientist.
Here, she’d fallen into the same routine as before. She frowned into her wine as if the Pinot held answers. The Doctor had shown her previously unimaginable sights and cultures and experiences. But was that her life? Traveling and exploring and adventuring and what?
Rose shook herself. She’d been back just over a month. A month of rediscovering the Doctor and of them. She had time to sort out what she wanted to do. For now, she’d let the ideas percolate in the back of her mind.
Now then. Martha. Though she hadn’t wanted to visit her family since Rose had returned, Martha still had connections to Earth. Connections, a family outside the four of them; it had to be hard on her, wondering if she’d ever see them again. Martha’d rang her mum a couple times, always careful to keep the calls short and the details to the barest of bare minimums with maybe a slight white lie thrown in there.
Then there was Martha’s medical career. Oh, she probably knew about human biology, physiology, medicine, and who knew what than even the finest early 21st century doctors, but she still needed to pass her exams.
And she couldn’t do that trapped in 1969.
At least none of them had to find a job or really leave the flat if they didn’t want to. Rose had been to the past, to the future, to worlds that no longer existed and worlds that didn’t even know what a human was, but something about the bitter hatred and blatant racism and sexism even during the late 60s bothered her.
The sly, suspicious looks from both men and women when she and Martha walked down the street as the four of them explored historic London or the flagrant dismissal of her because she was a woman really upset her. Still, she survived living in another world with armed guards at every estate and more rules and regulations governing their lives than Rose had ever thought she’d have to live through.
She could survive a few months in 1969.
Rose made a mental note to encourage Martha to tell her family about traveling with the Doctor—with all of them. Keeping secrets never worked out well.
And now that she thought of it, Rose also wondered if anyone had the paradox conversation with Martha. Jack probably had, but it was still a good idea to remind Martha that seeing her folks, before they were her parents, was a recipe for disaster.
Not that Rose wasn’t tempted to find her mum…and her dad. But she’d barely lived through watching her dad die twice. Despite how badly she missed her mum and Pete, how much she wanted to see them again, hear her mum’s voice, feel Jackie’s hug, it wouldn’t be the same. She’d see her grandparents, but Jackie would be barely three. No point in that.
And Rose’d damned if she was going to risk messing up her own birth to see her 3-year-old mum for a hug.
Oh, what she wouldn’t give for a Jackie-hug. To hear Jackie berate Torchwood for incompetence or helping her and Mickey flitch items from Torchwood’s archives for their project or because they deemed the item too dangerous for experimentation. And her tea! Rose really missed her mum’s tea. No one in either universe made tea like her mum.
Rose pushed her loneliness to the back of her mind, where everything else lived and festered. She’d begun a photo album of all the placed they’d been and hoped one day she’d get to share her travels with Jackie. Somehow.
But that was for later. Setting down her wineglass, Rose wandered down the hall to where the door laid propped open by what looked like the remnants of a microwave.
Rose stared at it for a bemused moment and wondered when and where the Doctor found it. He wasn’t in their bedroom where he spent her sleeping hours either lying with her and holding her or tinkering on the small desk by the window. Instead, he was in his workroom. Shaking her head at the dead kitchen appliance, she walked into the room. He hunched over the table, specs on, sonic sonicking away, but his foot tapped to the music.
She smiled and leaned over him, wrapping her arms over his chest and kissing the side of his jaw. Rose sighed happily and just took a moment to enjoy feeling him in her arms. Yes, it was good to be back. To be with him again, despite the loneliness she tried to hide from him.
“Winston survived months alone on the TARDIS, right?” she asked softly and rested her chin on his shoulder. “He can survive again. The TARDIS likes him, right?”
The Doctor chuckled and set the sonic aside to squeeze her hands. “Yes. The TARDIS loves Winston. I don’t know why.” She couldn’t see his face but heard the exasperate frown in his voice and smiled against the side of his neck. “I’m sure She’ll look after him.”
He turned and pulled her onto his lap, wrapping his arms around her and kissing her softly, long fingers combing through her hair. Gentle and slow, he swept his tongue over hers in a kiss that consumed and took and built and built and built the need always within her. It went from soft to need in moments. Hungry, desperate, and just a little fearful.
It’d been there since her return, that simmering hunger and all-consuming craving for each other, and Rose knew it was his fear of her disappearing again that she tasted in his kiss. Despite her own fears of being sucked back through the Void and into the parallel world or of waking to discover this was all a dream, she tried to soothe him.
Whenever she so much as hinted at the subject, at both of their fears to leave the other for longer than a quick trip to the market, he clammed up.
Breathing heavily, the Doctor pulled back and ran his hands over her shoulders to grip her own.
“What’s that about?” he asked. “Are you really worried about Winston?”
“I am,” she admitted slowly but knew as well as he did that this wasn’t about their cat. “I’m worried about Martha, she’s not taking this well. And I’m worried Torchwood will find us. You.” She fluttered her fingers over his cheek and she pressed her lips, once, to his.
“I’m worried about a lot of things,” she sighed. Her mum, Pete, Tony, and Mickey and Jake. Sarah. The TARDIS, Winston. Her place here. Them. “But I’m really worried about you.”
The Doctor jerked in surprise, she could see it on his face, in the unfathomable depths of his eyes. Then his eyes darkened even further and she knew guilt settled over him for her worry. Rose almost laughed, but didn’t. That was the Doctor, always felt guilty over things that weren’t his to feel guilt about.
“I’ll get us out of here, Rose,” he promised, low and harsh and as if he spoke from the very depths of his soul. Then he grinned but Rose knew all his smiles and the one he offered her now was the one he always used to show confidence where he didn’t necessarily have confidence. “After all, I already have!”
“I know,” she said and smiled.
A real smile that seemed to make him feel better, or at least lighten his mood, if the look in his eyes was any indication, and ease some of the tension from his shoulders. His smile was a little less false and manic and his eyes were softer. His fingers still pressed tight into her hips, but she didn’t mind that. “Of course we’ll get out and get the TARDIS back, I never doubted that.”
“I’m not worried about us getting out of 1969 or even of being stuck here,” she confessed. “I’m worried you’ll blame yourself for this. It was no one’s fault. Not yours for not realizing what that house was, not Sarah’s for asking us to investigate, no one’s.”
He started to speak, protest most likely, and she stopped him with another kiss. A simple touch of lips that conveyed so much more than words could, that depthless feeling of love-compassion-need-tenderness-future she’d always felt for him. Always would.
“No. I don’t want to hear about how it’s your fault through your convoluted Time Lord knowledge of the weight of the universe or how you should’ve known the Weeping Angels were there or some other rambling explanation for why this is your fault.”
Rose shifted so she straddled his lap, her frilly flowered dress hiked over her thighs. She wore it because it was fashionable and she thought fitting in was best. Plus the hemline stopped several inches above her knees and she hoped it’d drive the Doctor crazy.
His hands brushed up her inner thigh, long elegant fingers circling higher with every move.
“You’re not wearing any knickers.” He stared blankly at her for a beat then swallowed hard. Eyes narrowed, heat making his gaze nearly black he demanded, “Did Cline know you weren’t wearing knickers?”
Rose only rolled her eyes and shook her head. Of course the building manager didn’t.
“Rose,” the Doctor growled. The sound shot straight through her and she bit her lip to stifle a whimper. “Did you go to the market without any knickers?”
Rose grinned and pressed against his hand. “I was wondering how long it’d take you to notice. You’re slipping, Doctor. You used to always be able to tell when I didn’t wear any knickers.”
“Rose,” he growled in that way that sent electricity shooting through her, winding through her, nerves afire, body straining.
He kissed her hard, fingers skimming over her wetness in a slow teasing stroke only to dance away. Rose gasped his name and arched into his touch. The Doctor wrapped his fingers around her hips and settled her more firmly against him.
Just enough to make her arch into his touch, moan his name, beg. Then he pulled back and she cried out at the loss of his fingers, his touch.
Rose shook her head as if so simple an act could clear the Doctor-lust fog.
“Now.” Rose cleared her throat and tried again.
Damn but he had the ability to make her forget everything but is touch, his name, with a single caress. She licked her lips and made a feeble attempt to pull back and find her concentration.
The Doctor did not make it easy. She was okay with that.
“We have food and music and wine. Lots of wine,” she admitted with a breathless laugh as his long fingers skimmed along her lower back, up her spine.
He kissed along her jaw, delicate nibbles that sent nerve endings alight and made her forget how to breathe. Along her jaw to the sensitive spot behind her ear, and Rose tilted her head to allow him better access. Curved her body into his, his touch, needing as much contact as possible. More. Always more.
“I want to dance with you.” She sighed into his touch- embrace- body with everything in her. All she was. “And then I want to make love to you until we both can’t move for a month.”
Her body was hot and alive and aching for his, aching to push him back and ride him hard. But her limbs were heavy and slow, and Rose knew he’d bent time around the two of them. Slowed everything down to better taste and feel and smell and have. The dichotomy was too familiar and yet this was the first time he’d done it since her return. She didn’t know if that meant he was more comfortable with the unexplained suddenness of her appearance or more desperate to keep her here.
“Rose.” And this time the word was pulled from him, her name on his lips as only he could say it. The love and adoration and sheer joy at having her in his arms, back in his arms, always in his arms. She understood that, all that and more, and returned it.
His kiss was sweeping and meticulous, tasting every corner of her mouth, bringing her body flush with his. Time spun out around them but the kiss went on and on and filled her with dizzying want and pounding need and an all-encompassing knowledge that this was right and true and oh so perfect.
Slowly the kiss ended, nips to her bottom lip, fingers flat against her spine, his cock pulsing insistently against her wetness, though neither made a move to do anything about it. No, this was for more than a quickie and that knowledge spun out with time and with passion and with only the two of them.
Lips pressed tenderly to hers, he chuckled and pulled back only enough to press his forehead to hers. Her fingers ran through his hair, the strands soft beneath her fingertips and rocked slowly against him.
“How do you do that?” he asked quietly, voice far more tranquil than it had been in the week since they’d arrived in 1969. “How do you know exactly what to say? How do you make me feel guilty for not being guilty?”
“It’s because I’m not wearing any knickers.” She grinned, tongue peeking at the side of her mouth and pulled back so he could see her smile. She knew what it did to him. He growled at that, fingers sweeping low over her bum, her knickerless bum, mouth hard and sudden on hers.
She pulled back and looked at him fondly, with every ounce of love she had for this wonderful, complicated man clear in her gaze. Rose framed his face with her hands and caught his gaze.
“Because I know you. And because I love you. Us landing here wasn’t your fault. You don’t need to feel guilty about that. Now, let’s dance.” She nibbled on his bottom lip. Her hips rocked against his hardness and his fingers tightened on her hips, stilling her with a hoarse growl of need. “Before we dance.”
Wordlessly, the Doctor stood and slowly let her body slide down his. He watched her, face unreadable, eyes dark and oh so alien, that expression that said he felt far more for her than mere words could ever adequately voice. Rose had often wondered what it’d be like to feel him—all he was-felt-knew-thought-breathed, an expansion of their bond, but hadn’t wanted to ask. She didn’t know if it’d only hurt him that they wouldn’t be able to achieve that level of intimacy.
Or, she amended as his forehead pressed lightly to hers and she felt him thrum through her mind, body, soul, her very essence, they hadn’t been able to achieve that level of intimacy until she’d come back. Maybe now they could expand their bond.
Rose kissed him and threaded her fingers with his. “Let’s join the others.”
They ate the salmon and veggies and drank their wine. They laughed, and she and Martha danced around the flat as if they hadn’t a care in the world. Rose pulled the Doctor close to her, but Jack cut in. Then Martha did. Then she, Martha, and Jack danced until the Doctor cut in on them. (He refused to dance with Jack who pouted a little but then pulled Martha close and twirled her round.)
It was one of the best nights she’d ever had and Rose couldn’t stop laughing.
It didn’t matter where they were stuck. Or that everywhere they went people gave them odd glances. Or that Jack and Martha’s relationship seemed to have firmly turned into a romance.
“What’s the first thing the Doctor ever said to you?” Jack asked.
His arm was around Martha’s shoulders and though she’d consumed her fair share of wine, Rose thought Jack had drank at least two bottles himself. She squinted at him and set her glass on the coffee table to curl into the Doctor’s side. He sprawled over the couch, converse-clad feet on the coffee table, suit jacket off, shirtsleeves rolled up, glass of wine in hand.
Rose had never seen him drink before, well not this much. They two of them often had wine or some other native alcoholic beverage when visiting other worlds. She rested her head on his shoulder and sighed contentedly as the music continued to play around them. Maybe they all needed tonight. The relaxation, the laidback atmosphere.
“Run.” Rose said suddenly. She looked up at Jack and Martha across from them and grinned. “The first word he ever said to me was run.” She laughed and looked up at the Doctor, poking him in the ribs. “Then he went on about plastic and anti-plastic…no wait,” she said and squinted up at him.
The wine made her head swim rather pleasantly and frankly her memory of that night was separated into two sections: Run (and the feel of his hand in hers and the way he hadn’t let go and the way they’d run) and fear and explosions and wondering if he’d made it out before the building went up and somehow knowing he had.
“Something about students.” She waved it off and grinned across the table at her friends. “But the first word was run.”
“Hmm, are we talking what he said in a linear timeframe?” Martha asked and tilted her head to the side. Her hand came up to steady her head and she stared hard at the Doctor. “Or are we talking what I think—thought—his first words to me were?”
“What’s the difference?” Jack asked and Rose wondered if he ever got drunk. Surely two bottles of really great wine would’ve been enough? Hmm, no, wasn’t there something about hypervodka? He’d probably need at least another two bottles of wine.
But he was relaxed and the look in his eyes whenever he caught sight of Martha was soft with longing. Some of the tension that she’d noticed since his return, since both their returns, had also disappeared.
“I saw him in the street before I got to work, he was this crazy man bumping into me. I can’t remember what he said,” Martha admitted with a shrug and sipped from her glass. “Or if he said anything. He was waving his tie around like a loon.”
Rose laughed and tugged at the Doctor’s tie. It was blue with swirls on it today. Maybe, she thought as she loosened it, she’d buy him a couple vintage ties from 1969. So she could take them off him. And maybe use them to tie him up…oh, yes. Definitely. So many possibilities.
His gaze caught hers and Rose wondered if he knew what she was thinking. The hot, dark look in his eyes told her maybe he did. Arousal pooled low in her belly and she stifled a whimper of need.
“Then,” Martha continued, “or maybe first. First for me…and him I think.” She frowned. “I’m confused.” She cleared her throat and tried again. “He was Mr. Smith and I was examining him in hospital and he was talking about his now obviously fake symptoms. Something about Benjamin Franklin maybe?”
“Time travel,” Jack said with a sage nod. “Was the tie how he got you to believe in that? After the bit at the hospital, did he go back to show you he could travel in time?”
“Yeah, didn’t realize it, but let’s face it,” Martha said with a wide grin. “Way cool. What about you, Jack?”
“Mr. Spock.” Jack laughed. “You know, I still don’t get the reference. Why didn’t you just say ‘the Doctor’, Rose?”
Rose giggled, tried to stop, but when she saw the Doctor’s face, the frown, the faint tinged of blush, the eye roll, she laughed harder. Oh, she knew why she hadn’t said her ‘associate’ was the Doctor; last time she had, they’d been in Utah in a crazy man’s museum with the supposed last Dalek had used her compassion and her blind willingness to help against her.
She hadn’t been about to make that mistake again.
“Mr. Spock,” Martha gasped, laughing almost uncontrollably. “The Vulcan or the pediatrician?”
Taking the Doctor’s hand, she squeezed tightly. Maybe she’d tell him why now, there hadn’t been time then and it’d never come up after.
“Both would work.” Rose laughed but couldn’t quite remember her reasoning from then.
Oh, she still remembered her fear of the gas-masked people, the interest over Jack’s straightforward flirting, the way the Doctor’s hands felt in hers as they danced, or tried to that night in the hospital’s basement. Rose remembered her childish need to make him jealous and the way they’d danced around the console later. (The world doesn’t end because the Doctor dances…) But she couldn’t remember why she thought Mr. Spock was a good moniker for the Doctor other than using any name but his.
“We were dealing with a kid who wanted his mummy and I told him to scan for alien tech,” Rose explained. “He refused. But Jack, you did. Course,” she added thoughtfully. “You were also trying to scam us with that Chula ambulance.”
Jack cleared his throat. “Right then. Martha.” He stood and picked her up with him. Martha still laughed, more like giggled, and leaned against him. “Let’s dance.”
“Why didn’t you just tell him I was the Doctor?” the Doctor asked. He ran his fingers through her hair, further dislodging whatever meticulously styled ‘do she’d managed to fashion today.
Rose licked her lips and looked up at him. He was curious but still relaxed and she didn’t want to bring up those memories. But they’d promised honesty, and while she knew he held things back, kept things from her, she knew he hadn’t outright lied to her.
“I didn’t want to tell him the truth,” she admitted quietly. “The last time I’d said the Doctor could help, we were miles below the Utah desert and I didn’t know what a Dalek was. Or that they hated you so much. I said I’ve got a friend, he can help. He’s called the Doctor.”
She swallowed and sat up so she could fully see him. Rose rested her palm against his cheek and saw the echo of that pain and torture in his now-brown gaze. “I didn’t want to take the chance that Jack was going to use you. Or use me to hurt you.” She released a shuddering breath. “I couldn’t take that chance. Not with you. Not again.”
Rose didn’t see him move. One minute he looked at her with the memory of pain-anger-loss-hopelessness and the next she was crushed in his arms, his hands spanning her back, his face hidden in the crook of her neck.
He spoke, but it was in lilting Gallifreyan and she didn’t know what he said. He rarely translated these lapses for her, and Rose had learned to accept that. There were some things that didn’t need saying. And some that could only be said in his native tongue.
They stayed like that for several moments. Rose held him close as the music continued to play around them. Jack changed the record to Glenn Miller and Rose smiled.
“Dance with me, Doctor.”
“With no one else, Rose Tyler,” he whispered. When he pulled back, his mask was firmly in place but only she could see the cracks. The man beneath. She pressed her lips to his and stood, holding out her hand in a silent promise never to let go.
Later, Rose didn’t know how long had passed and didn’t care enough to ask the Doctor, they stood in their living room, barely moving to some song or other. They’d danced and danced and drank wine and talked and laughed and it’d been very near perfect. All that mattered was her body pressed to his, his hands on the curve of her bum, and the fact that he didn’t seem to care that Martha and Jack were on the couch snogging for all they were worth.
Breathless, legs unsteady from arousal and wine and her lover pressed so tightly against her with none of the normal inhibitions he normally showed outside their bedroom, she leaned back.
In that moment Rose realized that it didn’t matter if they were trapped in 1969. Or if they never got out and had to live like this forever. (Everything dies eventually, Doctor. What matters most is the here and now. And we’re together in the here and now.) She didn’t want to live out the rest of her life on the linear path in London, but it didn’t matter. It didn’t matter if they traveled the universe for the rest of her life or not.
All that mattered was the man in her arms. The one who looked at her with such tenderness and affection and as if she was the center of his universe. The man who held her so gently as he worshiped her body. Or who took her so hard and fast and desperately she forgot who she was as her orgasm crashed over her in light and sound and touch and taste.
The Doctor was the man who’d given her life purpose. Could she survive without him? Sure, and she had, though Rose had hated the loss of him, the separation. But she’d proven herself in that other universe, proven she was capable and smart and dedicated.
The Doctor’d given her a home and friends across the universe. He’d given her a love she’d never imagined existed. Hell, he’d even given her a cat though he’d protested loudly that the TARDIS didn’t do domestic. (Rose thought that maybe the TARDIS loved domestic, She certainly hadn’t complained when She’d redecorated the kitchen or their bedroom. It was the Doctor who had trouble admitting domestic was more than staying stationary with a 9-5 job and beans on toast and a white picket fence. Rose didn’t even like beans on toast and she’d never had a yard let alone a fence.)
Resting her head on his shoulder, she brushed her lips over his neck. “I wouldn’t have missed it for the world.”
The Doctor watched Jack lift Martha against him and disappear into her room. Torn between looking away and wiping it forever from his memory, and stopping them before they went any further, he stayed still in indecision.
“Leave them,” Rose whispered, slurring her words as she leaned against him on the couch. “It’s not your place to say.”
“How serious is it between them?” He peered down at her both to gauge her drunkenness and her answer.
She sat up and straddled his lap, blonde hair wild from his hands and dancing with enticing abandon around the flat with Martha, eyes bleary but not enough to forget tonight. Just enough to relax for the first time since they’d landed here.
If for no other reason than the tension winding through Rose had finally eased, the Doctor was glad she and Martha had brought back several bottles of rather good wine.
“Serious enough to let ‘em alone. Martha cares ‘bout Jack an’ she wants him.” Rose pressed her lips to his and he felt her smile. “And I know Jack cares for Martha, you can tell by how he looks at her. How his shoulders relax round ‘er. The gentleness ‘n his eyes. The way he doesn’t crack inappropriate jokes.” She paused, her tongue poking rather enticingly out of the corner of her mouth. “With her at least.”
Reluctantly the Doctor nodded, gaze still on that tongue. He’d seen the looks Jack cast in Martha’s direction, the way his voice changed when talking to her. It wasn’t his patented Jack the Charmer tone he used, but held a deeper quality, softer. Hell. The Doctor scrubbed a hand over his face and shrugged. Not his place, though he still felt protective over Martha.
He looked at his lover and returned her lazy smile. His hands ran up Rose’s sides, thumbs teasing her breasts. She sucked in a breath and her eyes drifted close. Slowly she rocked against him, only the material of his trousers separating them. Her hands ran through his hair in that way she knew drove him crazy and he growled low in his throat.
He’d seen the way Jack had attacked the building manager over that man’s slurs against Martha. Oh, the Doctor knew Jack had a strong moral core, had known since asking the other man to travel with them. But the wild look in Jack’s eyes, the snarl. The fact that only Martha had been able to calm him down and make him see reason.
That spoke volumes. Tomes. Entire galactic encyclopedias.
“I’m worried about her,” he admitted. His mouth brushed the inside of Rose’s wrist and she shuddered out a slow breath. “He’s never going to die—well not for another five billion years if we’re right about him being The Face of Boe.”
“Yes,” Rose said utterly confusing him.
She opened her eyes and gazed tenderly down at him with a soft, knowing smile. It was the look she had when they were intimate, and he swore she could read all his thoughts and feelings and the unimaginable depth of love he felt for her that he’d never be able to adequately voice.
He’d been worried when they’d landed in 1969 and he’d seen rippling timelines, overlapping times that gave him a headache and made him worry. But when he looked at Rose, all he saw was her, her beautiful light stretched out next to his. No ripples, no overlaps. Just her and him and their future.
As it should be.
They’d changed the future…rather, Rose had changed the future. Was she supposed to come back in New York 1930? He didn’t know but he did know that most things had a purpose. And whatever purpose Rose’s arrival had he’d accept no matter how worried he was.
Because he couldn’t live without her again.
“Jack’ll live forever,” Rose continued, unaware of his thoughts, “growin’ older ‘n older until he outlives the galaxy. Will he be The Face of Boe?” She shrugged. “Who cares? It doesn’t matter in this moment. In this moment, Martha loves Jack. Whether it’s forever—or just her forever,” she added with a significance he didn’t miss.
One that twisted horribly in his gut and gripped his hearts with terror. Despite his previous thoughts, he didn’t know how to live without her, not any more. So he held tight, so very tight, to her. Terrified that if he let go, she’d once more fly out of his arms toward the Void and disappear into another universe.
“It doesn’t matter,” Rose said decisively as if she really could read his thoughts. “Because no one should live alone. Ever. Not for twenty years or a hundred or a thousand.” Rose leaned down and kissed him, her lips soft against his even as she continued to rock deliberately against him.
His breath was trapped in his chest and each of his hearts felt like they’d burst from him. And he knew, he knew as surely as he knew what he’d do for the woman in his arms, the Doctor knew she no longer spoke of Jack but of him.
“He might be the only one able t’ live as long as you, Doctor,” she said in a thick voice. Her breath hitched and she swallowed hard. “And I don’t want either of you t’ be alone. For now, Jack has Martha. He has her for as long as they’re willin’ t’ make it work.”
Another kiss, deeper, hungrier, and his hands slipped under her dress to grip her bare bum and pull her closer. He couldn’t breathe but decided that didn’t matter. He’d take in Rose and let her essence fill him. He could live on that.
“He won’t grow old with her,” the Doctor whispered against her mouth. “I can’t grow…”
He trailed off, unable to finish the sentence-thought-certainty. Instead he kissed down her neck, nipped the sensitive flesh and tried to push the future away.
“They have now,” Rose gasped. “We have now. What did I tell you when we first made love?”
“You said.” He stopped and cleared his throat from the lump of memory-emotion-love there. He took in a deep breath and tried again.
“You said it didn’t matter if I aged or grew old with you. We had now and that was all that matters.” He looked at her, one hand tangled in her hair to pull her against him, forehead to forehead.
Their bond flared to life shining and bright and more than he’d ever dared hope when he first slipped into her mind as the made love in the middle of 1336 Kyoto, surrounded by sleeping samurais and waiting for dawn.
The very first time he thought he’d ask her to marry him and that that was the best idea he’d ever had in 900 years.
He should do that, he thought as Rose’s lips pressed to his and he tasted her secrets and scent and love. He needed to ask her. Wanted to. Wanted to take that final step—to solidify their bond. To bind them together.
Rose thought he didn’t like tags or labels or classifications about them. On the impossible planet of Krop-Tor, Rose’d told him it didn’t matter to her, either, because she knew where she stood in his life and his hearts. The reality was he wanted people to know what she meant to him.
Was he scared of his enemies using her against him if they knew? Of course. But one look at how they acted together and anyone using their brain would’ve figured it out. The Doctor had fears all right—fears for Rose’s safety topped that list. But he didn’t fear committing to her. Not any more.
Moving his hands to frame her face, he pressed his fingers lightly against her temples and felt their bond flare even brighter between them, merging and joining and combining their very essences into one.
And suddenly the Doctor knew why the bond had strengthened since her return.
Before, he’d held himself back. Kept a part of him locked tight for fear of hurting or overwhelming her. With her sudden-miraculous-marvelous return, he no longer could. Didn’t know how to. Forgot why he’d done so. Needed her more and more and until every nerve screamed for her.
“I remember everything you’ve ever told me,” the Doctor admitted aloud. Breathless from his realizations, throat tight with emotion and love and need of this beautiful woman in his arms.
“I said I loved you,” Rose reminded him with a smile he heard but couldn’t see.
The Doctor’s eyes slipped closed and he trembled at the memory. The words. It didn’t matter that he rarely said them in return. She knew. Had always known. But whenever she uttered those deceptively simple words, they pierced his hearts and made him love-want-need to breathe her in all the more.
“I said I loved you ‘n no one should be alone. That as long as we were together the future would take care of itself.” Rose pulled back and framed his face as he’d done hers. Their bond flared bright and strong and solid; golden and beautiful and with her fingertips so gentle against his temples he almost lost control.
“I said I wanted to spend the rest of my life with you. And do you remember what you said?”
The Doctor did kiss her then. Hard, bruising, punishment for making him remember and for promising never to leave him when he’d been terrified of holding onto her. For being her, for simply being Rose. For being Rose and for loving him and for guiding him out of the darkness and into the light. Her light.
“I said I’d never leave you.” The words were pulled from him in a hoarse whisper. “I said I’d hold you until the end.”
“Let Martha do that for Jack,” she whispered against his mouth. “And let Jack hold her until the end.”
He’d forgotten about the other couple but managed to nod. They could live their own lives, right now all that mattered was Rose in his arms and the fact he’d broke that promise of holding her until the end. He’d broken that promise enough.
He’d never let her go again, no matter what he had to do to keep her with him.
It scared him to know he’d rip apart time and tear down universes to keep her in his arms. The extent of destruction he was capable of. But he couldn’t loose her again. Never again. No. Not her. Not Rose. Death would come soon enough and he’d never be prepared for that inevitability. But to have her ripped out of his arms, his life, his existence again?
Never. He’d fight time herself for Rose.
“Make love to me, Doctor.” The words were a silky sigh that wrapped around him like the strongest bonds. “Take me to our bed and make love to me. I need you. I want you. I love you.”
Without a word, the Doctor stood, Rose wrapped around him in a delectably erotic way, her mouth on his as she kissed him. Reminded him of her love and the choices they made.
“My Rose,” he whispered against her skin as his hand slipped beneath her dress and slipped it over her head.
He couldn’t go slowly, not now, not with her words and her love and her very soul winding through him like a golden light.
The Doctor quickly stripped, Rose’s hands frantic on his skin. Biting, nipping, caressing with every moan and sigh and hitch of breath as they touched. Pressed closer and closer together. Skin against skin.
The spicy scent of her arousal beckoned him, but he only tasted her for the briefest of moments. The promise of earlier, when they’d sat in his workshop and he’d stretched time around them, would wait. He’d spend hours, the rest of the night tasting her.
Right now he needed Rose.
When he thrust into her, hard and deep and oh so perfect, Rose cried out his name, shuddering around him. Hard, measured thrusts quickly gave way to harder thrusts with no rhythm other than Rose. Rose. Rose.
And when he came, buried deep within her, the Doctor knew he was home.
Rose switched the light off in the loo and climbed back into bed, leaning up on an elbow to watch him. Simply watch him. Though his eyes remained closed, she knew he wasn’t asleep. She’d seen him sleep only a handful of times; usually he fell asleep long after her and woke long before her. (Just close your eyes, Doctor, she’d said the first time she’d comforted him after Van Statten and the Dalek. I’ll keep the nightmares at bay.)
Stretching out a finger, Rose traced the slight smile that curved his lips. Very kissable lips, if she did say so herself as her finger ran lightly over them. One hand reached up to cup the back of her head, tangle in her hair, keep her close, but he didn’t otherwise move.
“What are you thinking?” he asked quietly.
She licked her lips and rested her palm over his left heart, kissing the spot over his right. Wine still buzzed around her head, but it combined with the intimate aftermath of their bond to make her feel far drunker than she had before.
“What makes you say that?” she asked, voice low and soft.
The Doctor opened his right eye and squinted at her. “You’re staring.”
Rose grinned and may have giggled as she shifted until she lay on top of him. The feel of her body gliding against his sent a shiver of hot want curling through her. The giggle died in her throat as her breath caught. “I like watching you.”
It wasn’t the first time she admitted that. The first time she said it they’d just left Cardiff for Raxacoricofallapatorius and had made love as if time burned around them. (What? He’d demanded but his voice wasn’t as rough as she thought he wanted it to be. Rose had run her fingers over his cheek, along his brow. I like looking at you. He’d smiled and opened his bright blue eyes. With a growl that went straight through her, he’d rolled them until she lay splayed beneath him, body cradling his, arms wrapped around his shoulders. He looked like he’d wanted to say something, a witty comment or a sarcastic one, but his mouth crashed onto hers instead.)
This was, however, the first time she’d said it since returning to him. The first time she’d felt relaxed enough, comfortable enough with their here and now. The first time Rose wasn’t afraid she’d wake up and still be in the other universe, not in her lover’s arms. Now, she ran her fingers over his jaw, down his nose, across his cheeks.
“I love you,” she whispered, voice husky, catching in her throat. “So much it hurts. Hurts to breathe.”
The Doctor made a strangled sound, fingers flexing on the back of her head. His eyes were a soft brown, fathomless, endless in their desire, affection, and yes even love for her. He didn’t immediately return the words, and she didn’t mind. She knew how he felt.
Saw it in the way he looked at her.
Felt it in his kiss.
Heard it hum through her mind as they made love.
“Rose Tyler.” Despite the look in his gaze, the one that reminded her he wasn’t human, his eyes never left her, their color deepening and expanding and no matter he wasn’t human, those eyes were the window to his soul.
“I don’t have the words,” he began softly, voice uneven, “not in a language you’d understand, to tell you what you mean to me. How you make me feel. Sometimes I look at you and forget there’s a whole universe out there. All I see is you. The words are simple and complex and so utterly inadequate to how much I feel for you.”
The Doctor leaned back, not to get away. No, she realized, to make sure he had her attention. Oh, he had it all right. No doubts about that.
“I love you.”
Her heart did a slow flip on her chest. The air left her in a rush. When she’d told him she planned to say the words because she didn’t want to ignore them, or miss opportunities to tell him how she felt, she’d meant it. To hear him respond in kind didn’t matter. She’d known he loved her since… oh, since before the Dalek. Before their first time together. (She’d only doubted it that once, that one time when he’d run so far and so fast she hadn’t been able to keep up…Did you sleep with her? )
And the words seemed so very inadequate given how she felt for him. Simple when her love for him was deep and complex and consuming. But to hear him say them, to hear him return them, filled her with an unutterable tenderness that made her body feel as if it wasn’t big enough to hold all her affection and love and need and tenderness for this brilliant, damaged man.
Rose kissed him tenderly, too overcome with emotion to find the words. She’d show him instead. With soft kisses and gentle caresses. Holding his hands as she licked his nipple, Rose kissed along his chest, up his neck. She bit gently on the pounding pulse point and smiled when his hands tightened on hers.
She sat up and watched him. With unhurried movements, Rose released one of his hands and guided him deep inside her. Her breath caught on a gasp of his name and for one long moment she stilled.
“Rose.” A whispered plea, a strangled order.
But she was in no hurry. Not with his words, his promise, his pledge-vow-oath wrapping around her. No, she remained still and continued to watch him. The Doctor’s eyes darkened, intensified. His hands gripped hers even as he moved their joined hands to her thighs. He caressed up in teasing dual movements—his touch and hers—just brushing her wetness.
Hands still joined, she brought them up her belly, over her hips, to her breasts. Finally she moved. Slow, measured movements, drawing out both their passions. His fingers pinched her nipples, tugged hard and Rose gasped.
“I meant what I said,” she told him.
“About making love until we can’t move?” he asked, those delicious lips of his curling into a knowing smile. “I can make that come true, if you’d like.” He jerked his hips up, sliding that much deeper, that much harder. Rose almost lost her train of thought. “But I’m kicking Jack and Martha out of the flat.”
Rose laughed, head tossed back, loving life and this man and everything they had together. For a man who enjoyed experimenting in all aspects of his life, especially in bed, he definitely did not like showing the outside world his desires. He pinched her nipples again, rolled the between his long fingers, and she shuddered out his name, the laughter caught in his throat.
“Yes, that, too.” She continued her languid movements. “But about not wanting you alone. I once told you I made my choice. I was never leaving you. Yes,” she added and rolled her hips just as she knew drove him mad. The Doctor groaned, his long fingers flexing on her breasts, eyes closing.
“You took that choice out of my hands.” She stilled and glared down at him despite their positions. “Don’t do that again.”
His hands settled on her hips and he urged her to move. She resumed her languid movements, each rocking motion of her hips bringing him deeper and deeper into her.
“Rose.” The word caught in his throat, his gaze unwavering.
Then he quieted but she didn’t stop moving again. She slipped their joined hands over her hips and leaned back as far as she could and still keep him within her. And keep her balance without releasing his hands. The angle changed and she shuddered, her orgasm sparkling along her skin.
“I don’t know if I can send you away again,” he admitted quietly. “Even if your life was in mortal danger. Forget the fact you’ve managed to find your way back to me three times when all I wanted to do was keep you safe. I don’t know if I’m physically capable of sending you away again. I think it’d kill me.”
“Just accept my choice, Doctor. I chose you,” she whispered and leaned forward. She released his hands only to brace hers on his chest. He slid deeper into her and she shuddered, her orgasm close, winding up and up and tighter around her. “And I don’t want you to be alone. I never have.”
“The Face of Boe said I wasn’t alone,” the Doctor admitted, fingers dancing over her belly, down to her clit where he used her fingers to tease her. “I thought he was wrong. I thought he meant there was another Time Lord alive.”
His voice broke and her heart broke for him. No matter how close they were, no matter what he told her or how he loved her, there was a part of him that would always mourn the loss of Gallifrey. Of his people. And she hated she could never ease that.
“Maybe there is,” Rose allowed. Hands braced on his chest, she stared down at him with all the love and trust she had. Don’t be alone, please don’t be alone. She continued to move slowly, unwilling to rush either their conversation or their pleasure.
“Or do you think he meant me?” She tilted her head. “Or Jack? I mean if The Face of Boe is, or was, or I guess will be Jack, then maybe that’s what he meant? Himself?”
“I don’t know,” the Doctor admitted. His fingers never stopped and her pleasure coiled higher, tighter, twisting and turning until she nearly forgot what they were talking about. “I don’t know.”
“Even if there was another Time Lord still alive,” Rose gasped, still moving deliberately over him. She fought to keep the thread of their conversation even as she wanted to rush and take him oh so very deep within her. To ride him hard and fast until they both screamed out. “You still have me. And I’ll always love you.”
“No more talk about Jack,” he all but begged and she had just enough breath left to laugh at that.
He moved then, flipped them so he hovered over her and kissed her. Mouth crushed against hers, taking and taking and taking. His hands gripped her thighs and he thrust into her.
“I love you,” he admitted, voice hoarse.
He pulled back and watched her, eyes nearly black.
“I’ll hold you until the end.”
Another thrust, harder, deeper, his mouth on hers.
“I can’t let you go again.”
Her hands gripped the wrought iron headboard as the Doctor pounded into her, one hand on her temple. Their bond blazed through her in a silvery-blue light of sensation and she cried out his name, her orgasm there, there, there, until suddenly it exploded through her in a flash of light and sound and Doctor.
“Rose,” he said, still moving hard and fast. “Rose, Rose, Rose.”
And then he was coming too, head thrown back, mouth open on a cry of her name. He shuddered once more and fell to the bed. Feeling as if she floated on boneless limbs, a cloud of Doctor and pleasure, Rose managed to roll just enough to toss her leg over his and find his hand.
“You’re not alone, My Doctor,” she murmured against his chest, breathing in the scent of their pleasure, of the uniquely Doctor scent that clung to the air, surrounding them in memories and hope and past and future. Her eyes closed and his arm settled around her and Rose relaxed into sleep.
When Rose could think again if not quite move, she found her head resting comfortably on his chest, fingers drawing idle circles over his torso. And suddenly the timing felt right. Not just how unbelievable their love making had been (was—always would be) but right now.
Catching the future.
Holding onto the present.
Them, right here and now.
“Doctor,” she said slowly. Letting the thought spin through her mind. The rightness of it. The certainty of now. “Do you remember what we were talking about…before?”
She didn’t know what made her bring up that particular subject now, with her body still languid from their love making and her mind stretching out towards his in an effort to keep their connection strong in the aftermath of their orgasms. Without looking, she brought her hand up to his temple and felt the not-so-faint, not any more, link spark brilliantly to life.
But the timing felt oh so perfect.
The Doctor’s even breathing didn’t change and the hand running down her back didn’t miss a beat. But Rose swore she felt his mind caress hers. It made her shiver both in the actuality of it and in the promise it represented.
Rose looked up, resting her chin on his chest. His eyes opened to watch her and he smiled that soft, gentle smile he reserved for when it was just the two of them in bed together. (Or on the library floor or on the media room couch or the pool, but always just the two of them, always just them, alone. The aftermath of love and sex and joining enclosing them tightly.)
“How do you do that?” she wondered. “Read my mind?”
He laughed and his fingers ghosted over her own temple. “I don’t have to, though our bond is a lot stronger since you returned.” He shrugged a lazy movement of his shoulders. “I know you. Our bond has strengthened,” he said.
As if she needed the reminder; it excited and thrilled her, and made yearn for more.
“But right now all I feel is you. God, it’s overpowering.” He shuddered, not in revulsion but in acceptance and need and more, oh yes more and love. Yes. Love. He didn’t need to say it—she knew. “I don’t know how you can love me as much as you do,” he admitted quietly. “I don’t deserve you.”
“Doctor,” but Rose stopped. They’d had this discussion-argument-conversation too many times to count. Instead she ran her fingers through his hair and pressed her lips softly to his. “I do love you. And isn’t that enough?”
“Yes,” he said in a ragged voice as if that single word had been dragged from him.
“Do you still want to?” she whispered against his mouth.
“Yes,” he said again in that same tone. His eyes locked with hers and she saw hope and terror warring in his warm brown gaze. “Oh, yes, Rose. Yes I want a child with you.”
He’d done the calculations. He’d done the calculations years ago, before she’d been ripped from him. Hell, before he’d regenerated. Rose hadn’t been ready then though they’d discussed the possibility. Back then, he’d thought they’d had all the time in the world. Time to tell her about his family, his children…Susan.
The Doctor hadn’t told her about regeneration, not then at least, because he’d honestly believed that body would outlive her. But they’d discussed children and she’d admitted she wanted his children. Wanted a family with him. Eventually. In the future. They had time.
And then they didn’t.
Now he sat alone in his workshop, Rose was out with Martha and Jack looking for another flat without a racist building manager and still close to the alleyway they’d arrived in, with their list of requirements in a new flat. DI Billy Shipton’s appearance was still weeks away.
The Doctor’d begged off, claiming he needed to finish up a couple calculations on his timey-wimey detector.
Rose didn’t buy it, but then she knew him better than anyone. Except maybe the TARDIS. He hadn’t told her what he was doing, but promised himself he would once she returned and they had a private moment.
This time, when he did his calculations the Doctor actually wrote them down.
He didn’t need to, of course. But the act of doing so somehow made him feel like it was real. As if seeing the DNA structure and samples and all that made the possibility of a child with Rose an actuality. Licking his lips, he stared at the percentages and numbers and odds and oh, God, it was simple.
So very simple to do.
All it’d take was a slight tweak to Rose’s DNA and they’d be fully compatible. Jumping through the Void hadn’t damaged her cellular structure—well, it had, slightly, but her own body was even now repairing that damage. (He’d decided never to tell her, or Jack for that matter, how simple it would be to fix Jack’s Vortex Manipulator. Another secret. Another lie. Maybe he’d pretend to find a couple parts in the TARDIS and fix the Manipulator later.)
Hmm, now that he thought about it, the Doctor wondered how Rose hadn’t become pregnant before. The alteration to her DNA was so minuscule…she hadn’t had a miscarriage; he’d have known if she had. Maybe implantation simply hadn’t occurred?
Mind whirling, the Doctor stared down at his notes.
Their children would be more than 50% Gallifreyan. Closer to 80% actually, maybe 83%. Binary vascular system, Time Lord mind, telepathy most likely though he wasn’t certain of the strength of that. And regeneration.
His hands shook. And his hearts raced.
He’d told Martha he was alone. Yes, he’d had her, for the moment at least as a traveling companion if not quite friend. Not then. But the Doctor truly believed that The Face of Boe’s words meant another Time Lord. What if Boe really was Jack? Jack was going to live for a very long time…five billion years or so it seemed. Did Boe mean himself, mean Jack?
Or had he meant Rose? Rose’s return. Rose’s return and their children.
He gripped the pen until it snapped. Pressing his fingers hard into the table, he took a moment to center himself. The Doctor hated to get his hopes up. Whenever his life was going right, something happened. Daleks and regeneration. Daleks and Cybermen and alternate worlds.
“Please.” The quiet word echoed around him like a shot and he was grateful he had the flat to himself.
As soon as they got the TARDIS back he’d look at Rose’s DNA and they’d begin…oh wow. They’d begin the process of getting pregnant.
He pulled out the bonding necklace he’d carried with him for years. Even when she was…lost he’d still carried it, unable to part with the symbol he’d been too afraid to share with her. Rose had never mentioned marriage; the Doctor knew she’d made her vows. They’d made their vows to each other.
Did she want a ring? An Earth symbol of their life together? He looked at the pendant with its red-orange jewel so reminiscent of Gallifrey. The silver filigree spelled out her name and his in Gallifreyan and was far stronger than Earth-grade silver.
He’d get her a ring that matched the jewel, or as close to the red-orange stone as he could still find in this universe. Then he’d give her both. Finally.
“Please let this work,” he whispered to whoever listened to the last of the Time Lords and the human woman who loved him. “Please let us have this.”
“Versailles?” Martha asked as she, Jack, and Rose followed the Doctor’s detector which was going crazy.
They were also back in the same alleyway where they’d first arrived. Brilliant.
“No.” Rose’s response was short and angry and so unlike her that Martha looked at her in surprise.
“No?” she asked. “Really?” Frowning as the timey-wimey detector beeped in excitement, Martha hung back as Jack judiciously jogged to the Doctor. “I thought you loved big beautiful gardens like that. Plus…Versailles!”
Rose frowned and a look passed over her face Martha couldn’t decipher—anger and hurt and bitterness and then a sort of resigned agreement. The stiff set to her shoulders relaxed and she sighed.
“I do,” Rose admitted tiredly. She combed both hands through her hair, loose today since they were chasing leads. No sense either of them looking posh and 60s, though both of them still wore fashionable dresses.
“It’s just…” Rose paused as Jack and the Doctor took off.
She and Rose hurried around the corner, in silence, to where the Doctor spun in a tight circle, still holding the machine. “Stupid,” Rose eventually said. “It’s stupid. And unnecessary. And in the past.”
“Okay,” Martha drew out the word in confusion. Just when she thought she knew Rose, something else popped up. “Wanna share?”
“No. Yes.” Another sigh and Martha felt the same, only in frustration. “It’s stupid and I should be over this by now but it still hurts.”
Martha watched Rose watch the Doctor and Jack. Both men stood off to the side at an intersection of alleyways. Honestly, she lived in London her whole life and had never seen so many alleyways. Just went to show how little she paid attention to her surroundings. How much she’d taken them for granted.
And one of the reasons, Martha was certain, Rose had suggested their fieldtrips to historic London. Rose had somehow convinced the Doctor to take a week away from timey-wimey detectors and whatever else he was working on and do a grand garden tour. They’d gone to Kew Gardens and famous manor house and castle gardens in the Cotswolds, Surrey, Yorkshire, Kent, and Buckinghamshire among others.
“Yes,” Rose said and this time it was in a firm and confident voice. “I refuse to let that part of our lives interfere with our present. We’re past that, we’ve moved on. So yes, Martha, the Gardens at Versailles sounds wonderful. We should definitely go, either before we leave 1969 or maybe we can pick up Sarah and Luke and take them.”
Letting the reasons for Rose’s reluctance slide, Martha nodded. After their wine-party of nearly a month ago, Martha had shaken off her depression. Rose had helped; they’d grown closer over talk of the future and what they wanted to see and do, and yes, even be. Rose hadn’t said, but she sounded as if she wanted more—not more than traveling with the Doctor, but just more.
Martha wondered what that was all about, but all her friend had said was that she wasn’t sure yet. When she knew, Martha would know.
Martha still wanted to be a doctor, but now with an entirely new universe (literally) opened up to her, she thought maybe she wanted more. The Doctor had told her about UNIT and Martha seriously considered looking into them whenever she returned, or remained, Earthbound. First, she wanted to learn more. There was so much out there, and she wanted to experience it all, understand it as much as possible, and do so much more with her life.
And then there was Jack. Even now she shivered with memories and lust and possibly love. Possibly.
Suddenly the Doctor and Jack took off down the alleys again and she and Rose raced after them.
Detective Inspector Billy Shipton had finally arrived.
Never had Martha been so glad to see anyone lying disoriented in an alleyway as she had him. Jack’s hand was warm on her back, comfort-assurance-hope-affection, as the Doctor went on about what had happened. Rose crouched beside the Doctor and slipped her hand into one of his pockets to retrieve the jug of water they’d brought for just this occasion.
The DI gratefully accepted the water, but about the Doctor’s explanation he didn’t seem to understand. Or care.
Martha couldn’t blame the DI, not with the hung-over feeling being transported by the Weeping Angels left one with. But his arrival meant they were that much closer to leaving.
She looked at the Doctor and Rose. Even though they barely touched, the depth of affection still shone clearly through—in the way Rose now stood near where he crouched by Billy one hand on the Doctor’s shoulder; the way the Doctor looked up at her even as he described the Weeping Angels to Billy. Or the way the Doctor shifted back, just that much closer to Rose.
She didn’t know if she and Jack shared that. She didn’t know what she and Jack shared. Did she want that depth of affection and love and connection? Of course, didn’t everyone? That connection to another that went beyond simply sex. But did she have that with Jack?
Did she want that with Jack? She’d never really been in love before, had always pushed thoughts of that aside until after—after Uni, after med school, after residency, after—after—after. And now? Now she didn’t know.
But she wanted to explore the possibility. Martha cared deeply for Jack and wanted him. Oh, she wanted him.
For most of her life she’d been so focused on studying for her future (or on mediating between her parents and trying not to piss off everyone in her family by taking sides—bloody middle child syndrome) that she hadn’t really had a love life. But now…now that she was basically traveling for a while with the promise of returning the same day, Martha embraced it.
Embraced the freedom of whatever she and Jack shared.
“What in God’s name are you talking about?” Billy Shipton was now asking, hand to his head as if afraid it’d roll away and sounding confused and annoyed and just a tiny bit scared. Martha didn’t blame him there, either.
“Trust me,” she said as Jack crouched beside the Doctor and helped the newly transported man stand. “Just nod when he stops for breath.”
Rose snickered at that but didn’t say anything. Instead she backed up a step to give the men room to maneuver Billy into a standing position, the bright orange jug of water clasped in one hand. She looked concerned and when Billy swayed, stepped forward.
“Easy,” Rose said and offered the jug again.
Billy shook his head but whispered his thanks. Rose frowned but stepped back, now standing silently by Martha. Far from how she’d looked before racing toward Billy (lost and irritated and hostile and frightened) now Rose looked serene and happy and about as enigmatic as The Face of Boe had.
Huh. Whatever that bit with the Gardens of Versailles had been about, it was gone now. Come to think on it, Rose had looked like that on and off for about a week or so. Martha narrowed her eyes at her friend. What had she and the Doctor been up to these last weeks?
No matter how close she and Rose had become, Rose refused to tell her. Oh, the four of them had spent hours walking London, shopping and ignoring the looks they’d received, touring the gardens and talking. She and Rose had talked about so many things—personal and professional and their pasts and where they wanted to go next and what they wanted to do.
About what Rose was going to do now that she’d returned to this universe and her only family were currently aboard the TARDIS (or trapped in 1969 as the case might be).
About when or if Martha was going to return to her studies.
“Tracked you down with this,” the Doctor was now saying. “This is my timey-wimey detector. It goes ding when there’s stuff. Also, it can boil an egg at thirty paces, whether you want it to or not, actually, so I’ve learned to stay away from hens. It’s not pretty when they blow.”
Rose shuddered and Martha couldn’t blame her. She was just glad she’d missed that particular incident. The thought churned her stomach.
“I’m so glad I missed that,” Martha muttered.
Rose shuddered again. “You should be,” she muttered back. “It was so gross. I burned those clothes, though the Doctor insisted his suit would clean itself. And then there was the running through all that nasty mess to get away from a very angry farmer.”
The Doctor gave Rose a sour look over his shoulder, which both women ignored.
Then Rose’s looked changed and she narrowed her eyes at Martha. “Where were you and Jack, anyway?”
Martha cleared her throat and pretended to focus exclusively on the Doctor. Rose snickered. No, Martha didn’t think her friend would buy that. She and Jack had got…distracted. By each other. In the field.
Martha cleared her throat again and knew she blushed hotly.
“I don’t understand. Where am I?” the DI asked.
“1969,” Jack answered. “Like he says.”
“Normally,” the Doctor continued, “I’d offer you a lift home, but somebody nicked my motor. So I need you to take a message to Sally Sparrow. And I’m sorry, Billy. I am very, very sorry. It’s going to take you a while.”
Martha wondered what would happen if they changed history—took Billy back with them. Would they then have no way home? What about Billy’s life here, his wife and family?
“I’m sorry, Billy,” Rose echoed the Doctor’s words and Martha’s thoughts. She still stood in front of the man, probably ready to catch him. Billy looked as if he’d fall over from a strong wind. Or one more revelation. “But we have a flat here you can have, all paid up for the next year. And…you hungry?” she asked.
Martha wondered what Mr. Cline, the disagreeable (racist, sexist, all around jerk) building manager would think about Billy taking over their flat and silently cheered the idea.
“How about tea?” Rose was asking now. “You go home with the Doctor and Jack, and have a nice lie down. Have some tea.”
“Yes,” the Doctor agreed. “Tea, just the thing. And no one makes tea like Rose.” He smiled at her, not his trademarked Rose Smile™ but a softer one Martha had taken to mean a shared history between the pair.
Jack and the Doctor helped Billy out of the alley and back toward their flat, she and Rose trailing behind, the bright orange jug swinging innocuously from Rose’s hand. They’d already decided to give him some of the money Jack had, ah…siphoned from Torchwood to help him get started in his brand new life.
They hadn’t been able to find any of the others on Sarah’s list of missing people. If the four of them were leaving the Weeping Angel induced 1969 timeframe, others could, too. They just couldn’t find any others. Martha hoped being transported by the Angels was meant to happen and those people were leading the lives they’d always wanted. Or were supposed to lead.
Had those people landed in 1969 or other times? Or changed their names? Or had they wanted a fresh start and embraced being transported away from their lives? After all, nothing said fresh start like being dumped in history.
“We should go to the market,” Rose said as Billy shook off the men’s help and managed to walk on his own. “I have a feeling Billy’s going to need something more than iced tea and wine.”
Martha looked at her friend and wondered what Rose was really up to. True, Billy did look like he needed more than a glass of wine, no matter how great the vintage. But Rose refused to meet her eyes and had been evasive all week as they’d counted down the days until Billy’s arrival.
And their leaving.
“Jack,” Martha called and jogged the couple feet between them. “Rose and I are going to the market. We’ll meet you back at the flat, all right?”
One hand cupped her face and he looked like he wanted to say something but he nodded, gaze flicking to Rose then back. Martha smiled up at him, hand covering his for a heartbeat.
He’d been protective before, but since the incident with Cline, Jack had become more so. Protective and caring and guarding and supporting. Friend. Lover. More. More than a label.
Returning to where Rose stood next to the Doctor, the orange jug back in his transcendentally dimensional pocket, and the pair of them apparently silently communicating Martha decided their relationship would never make sense. Rose nodded to whatever private conversation she’d had and the two women started down the street to their favorite market. They never did find another flat that met all their specifications, though they only needed 3 bedrooms now instead of 4.
Martha felt her face flame with that thought but figured with the thinness of the walls, Rose already knew what she and Jack were up to.
“Okay, spill,” Martha said the moment they’d turned the corner. Out of earshot of the men.
Rose shot her a look, startled and amused and just a little abashed. “Caught,” she admitted. Then sighed. “Now that our ride seems to be in sight, have you thought any more about what you want to do?”
Martha stiffened. “Is this the speech where you tell me you and the Doctor want to travel alone?”
Fear and panic and anger and dejection warred within her and Martha didn’t know where to even begin to unravel the complicated web of emotions about to crush her. Oh, wow, and until right then, she hadn’t even realized how much she wanted to stay, how much she enjoyed this. Not just the traveling but the discovery.
And what about Jack?
Best not to think about that. She’d done little else but think about her and Jack when it came to their relationship and had yet to find a satisfactory answer for herself, let alone for whatever it was between them.
Then there was her friendship with Rose. Maybe Rose didn’t feel the same about Martha? Maybe she didn’t feel as close as Martha did with her? Maybe—
“No!” Rose’s forceful answer interrupted Martha’s thoughts. The other woman shook her head. “That’s not what I meant. No, Martha, I never meant…I love that you’re traveling with us.”
Rose took a deep breath then blew it out slowly through her lips. “Let me start again.”
Clearing her throat as they pushed opened the doors to the market and each grabbed a basket, Rose started again. “I know you want to be a doctor, Martha, but what I want to know, and apparently asked badly, yeah? Is if you still want to continue to study all the different species we meet. I know you and Jack are…close.”
She shot Martha a knowing look and damn, Martha blushed again. “But.” Rose smiled widely before sobering. “I didn’t know if you wanted to return to Earth to finish your studies there before…”
She trailed off again and Martha was more confused than before. Rose waved a hand in midair.
“Before,” Rose continued, “deciding if you wanted to take the Doctor up on his offer to introduce you to UNIT or maybe study under one of the alien doctors we met.”
“Oh.” Martha stopped and thought about it. “I’m not sure.” She licked her lips and took a deep breath, hoping that all her thinking and wondering those same things herself would make sense once she started talking.
Thinking about it ad nauseam sure as hell hadn’t worked.
“I think,” Martha began, “that I’d like to continue traveling a while. I love seeing all these new places and people. And I love learning about them, the differences, the medical advances, and even just discussing them with the Doctor.”
Martha paused and jumped in with both feet. “And I’m not quite ready to give up Jack. I don’t know what’s going on besides sex, some really great sex.” She stopped and grinned up at Rose. “Really great sex.”
Rose chuckled, that spark in her eye that said she wanted details but would never ask. Martha understood that—and was thankful for it. “But I know I’m not finished with this relationship. Not yet. Will I ever be?” Martha shrugged. “I don’t know the future. All I know is that right now, I don’t want to give him up.”
“Do you love him?” Rose asked quietly as they waited at the meat counter.
“Yes. No.” Martha laughed. “I don’t know,” she sighed. “I care for him a lot, more than a lot. But I don’t…I’m not…” She stopped and tried again. So much for jumping. “It’s not like you and the Doctor. I see you two and I wonder how anything I have with Jack will ever compare, but I’m tired of comparing myself to others.”
To you was the rest of that sentence, but Martha had long ago got over her jealousy of Rose. It hadn’t taken Martha long to see Rose as the woman she was—flawed and kind and imperfect and normal. Human.
Hard to dislike the woman when it was so obvious what she and the Doctor shared. Or how Rose tried to make up for the Doctor’s comparison. Or how much a friend Rose was, how close they’d become.
And how much Martha realized a friendship like the one she shared with Rose meant to her. How rare it was. How much she valued it. Had come to depend on it.
“Right now,” she added with an honesty she hadn’t even admitted to herself. “I want Jack. And I want to continue travelling with you and the Doctor. And I want to continue studying.”
Martha stopped and nodded decisively. Yes. Yes she did want all that.
“Good,” Rose said with a large, bright smile as they wandered down the produce isle.
They were out of bananas. Again. And would probably need extra veggies for as long as Billy was staying with them. They probably should’ve asked him what kinds of foods he liked but too late now.
Rose didn’t look at her, but fiddled with a bunch of bananas. Finally her friend took a deep breath and turned to face her. Her eyes were dark with uncertainty as she dropped several bunches into the cart. Rose nibbled on the cuticle of one thumb, a sure sign of her nervousness.
“We.” She cleared her throat. “The Doctor and I,” Rose added as if Martha hadn’t figured that out. “We’re going to try to have a baby.”
The words came out in a rush, a rushed whisper of hope and love and need and oh, wow. Martha blinked, mind racing with a thousand thoughts and questions and a very undignified squeal wanting to break free.
“And,” Rose continued in the wake of Martha’s shocked silence. “I want you to be my doctor.” She rubbed her thumb over her skirt and curled her hands over the basket’s handle. “I know the Doctor knows far more about this, but I’m equally sure he’ll drive me barmy hovering over me.”
Rose gave a short, nervous laugh but Martha had nothing to say. Wow.
“I just wanted to make sure you were going to stay before I asked,” Rose said, hurriedly now. As if once the words were spoken she had to speak them all. “And I didn’t want to pressure you or guilt you into it, but I’d really love for you be my doctor and, well, think of it this way,” she added when Martha still couldn’t form words.
“You’ll be the only doctor in the history of the universe to track a human-Gallifreyan pregnancy.”
“Oh, wow,” Martha finally breathed.
In that moment, with Rose looking at her expectantly, hope-nerves-anxiety-optimism bleeding through, Martha realized this was exactly what she wanted. Not specifically to be Rose’s doctor, or even a pediatrician, but to learn about new life and help it along. She wanted to be a doctor, still after everything she’d seen and done and still wanted to do, she wanted to be a doctor and help people.
But to be able to study this pregnancy, to be able to learn so much from her friends—and to be the recipient of so much trust and faith and confidence—nearly overwhelmed her.
“Yes,” she told Rose in the middle of the produce section of a market in 1969. It wasn’t the most surreal experience of her life, but damn near close. “Yes, I’d love to.”
“Are you going to get married then?” Martha asked out of the blue a day after Billy Shipton appeared.
Jack and the Doctor set up for the video with Billy; Rose didn’t know why they couldn’t record the Doctor’s message to Sally before Billy arrived, but the Doctor insisted they couldn’t. Just in case. Something about the timelines rippling.
Nothing to be concerned with, he’d said. Which only made Rose worry.
He’d said something similar several times already. Timelines rippling. Like when her mobile had rung out of nowhere but it wasn’t Sarah Jane; they’d called to double check. And the other three people in this universe who had her number had been with her in the same flat. No caller ID, no known number. No number at all. The mobile had just rung but no one was on the other end.
He hadn’t elaborated on that. Had said it wasn’t something to be too concerned about. Probably.
Later, in their bedroom, Rose had confronted him and the Doctor had admitted that he didn’t know what was going on or why he sometimes saw overlapping events.
“It’s never happened before,” the Doctor had said. “I can’t explain it but it hurts when I see it. Makes my time sense…wonky. Worse than when Jack first returned—feels like things are literally changing before my eyes.”
Rose had cradled his face and very carefully and very seriously asked, “Is it me? Is it because I returned?”
“No.” he’d pulled her close, his answer adamant and sure and too fast. Harsh and sure and scared. “No, Rose.”
“Doctor,” she’d whispered against his chest where he held her tight. “Don’t lie to me. Not to me.”
He’d taken a deep breath and pulled back just enough. “I don’t know. I don’t know if you were meant to return or if by you coming back you changed things. I just don’t know. But,” he’d said, eyes dark and impenetrable and somber. “I wouldn’t change it. I don’t care what’s happening. I don’t care about the headaches or the eyestrain or any of that. Rose, all I care about is you. Here. With me.”
She’d smiled and held him close. Made love to him as if they had all the time in the world and this was their first time. As if they’d never touched and tasted each other. Every caress, every kiss lingering and slow as time spun out around them.
Now, Rose looked at her friend in the kitchen where they stayed far away from the three men and their electronics. “What?” she asked having only paid slight attention to Martha’s question.
“I know it doesn’t matter,” Martha continued. “But I get the feeing the Doctor’s an old-fashioned kind of guy. Time Lord.” She shrugged, then squinted her eyes at Rose. “Or are you already married? I swear getting information out of the pair of you about your relationship is hard.”
“Oh.” She had no idea what to say to that. They were private with their relationship, but that was mostly because the Doctor was a very private person. Rose supposed she’d adopted some of his mannerisms.
Had to when one slept with an alien. And she sure as hell hadn’t told Pete’s Torchwood a damn thing. She still didn’t trust that organization nor the British Republic government—Jackie had insisted Mickey bring his grandmother to live with them instead of the barricaded estates where soldiers guarded the entrances.
(Family, Jackie had said with a hard look at Pete who had remained silent. Mickey is family. And I’m not having him or Rita-Ann living down there with those guards stopping them from moving about. That’s no life. What kind of country is this that has guards on every estate? )
Rose cleared her throat and shrugged, sipping her wine. “I don’t know what Gallifreyan marriage rituals are like,” she admitted. Hadn’t thought about them, either. Once upon a time she’d told Mickey that the Doctor wasn’t her boyfriend—he was better than that.
She’d meant it then and she felt the same now. Whatever category she and the Doctor fell in, it was better than a label. It was them. Plain and simple (or about as simple as they ever got). Even when they’d discussed the future, vows had never really entered the discussion. They were.
The Doctor and Rose Tyler. In the TARDIS. Nothing more was needed.
“But it doesn’t matter,” she admitted with confidence. “I know how he feels for me and I already said my vows. I’m never leaving him.”
He might send her away, but she’d find a way back. The Doctor had promised never to do that again, but Rose had a feeling that if they did manage to have a child, his protective instincts would triple (if that were even possible) and she and the little one would be on the first TARDIS to safety at even the slightest hint of trouble.
They hadn’t talked about that yet (or argued, as the case might be) but it was a conversation they’d have to have before she did get pregnant.
Suddenly Martha giggled. Rose smiled and looked from where the Doctor sat to her friend. “What?”
“Just picturing the Doctor wearing one of those papoose things!” Martha giggled, looked out at the Doctor and laughed harder. “With the kid strapped to his chest, sonic in hand, hair wild.”
Rose laughed, the vision all too easy to see. She laughed harder as the Doctor began to talk into the camera. He stopped and glared at the two of them in the kitchen but Rose just laughed harder. Martha continued to snicker, but Rose couldn’t stop.
She sank to the floor, trying to hold in the laughter. The tears. The paralyzing terror.
Next thing she knew, Martha’s arms were around her and she was quietly crying.
“Shh,” Martha whispered, stroking her hair back. “It’s okay. It’ll be all right.” She pulled back and looked at her. “Scared?”
“Terrified,” Rose admitted in a weak, watery voice that caught in her chest and burned through her. She wiped the tears from her cheeks and took a deep breath, held it as she listened for the Doctor. He continued to speak to the camera from the transcript they’d been given.
He’d heard her, she knew he had. He heard everything. Superior Time Lord senses, he’d say. Rose was grateful he’d stayed there, however. She didn’t want everyone to witness her breakdown.
“God, Martha, I’m so scared,” Rose admitted in a burst of honesty and fear and hope. “We talked about it ages ago. Always in the future. But I’ve only been back a short time and look what’s happened already. Stuck in 1969.”
“But Rose,” Martha said and stood only long enough to grab a box of tissues from the counter. “I thought that’s what you loved about traveling with the Doctor. The adventure and the mystery and seeing and experiencing new things.”
“It is,” Rose agreed. She blew her nose and wiped her face. “But a child changes things—even staying at home with a 9-5 job and beans on toast.”
Martha frowned. “What do beans on toast have to do with anything?” Then she waved it away. “Forget it. Listen.”
Martha sat cross-legged on the floor of the kitchen, took Rose’s hands and said softly, “Kids change things yeah, but that doesn’t matter. Traveling with me and Jack changes things. I know what it’s like with just me and the Doctor and adding more people changes that, right. A child? You’ll have more people watching over him. Or her.”
She paused and shrugged. “Think of it like you’re trekking across the world. Plenty of things happen there, too, right? So think of it like you’re a family, a nomadic family, wandering around. You’re not going to ignore the child. Plus, that kid will learn more than any other child in the history or future of the universe.”
Rose nodded, the band around her chest easing. “Yeah.” She picked at her cuticle and stared at the thumb as if it held all her answers. The child changing things was only part of it.
What if that was all she was now? What if being this child’s mum was it? No more finding Rose Tyler. Just Rose Tyler—Mum.
“What else?” Martha asked, kind and understanding and the best friend Rose had ever had.
For so long Mickey was her best mate. Then boyfriend. Then mate again. In that other world, he’d been almost all she’d had. Oh, Mickey had made friends and a name for himself. He’d dated and had a whole life during those years he’d been there tracking Cybermen with Jake and Pete. But for Rose, to Rose, he was still her best mate.
The Doctor had been her best mate. Then lover. Everything. But always her best friend no matter what.
Martha. Martha hadn’t filled the void left by Mickey. She hadn’t taken the Doctor’s place. She’d created her own place in Rose’s life. Family. Sister.
“I don’t know who I am here,” she whispered in a burst of honesty. “Before, I was the Doctor’s companion then his lover. But always with the Doctor. In the other universe, I survived on my own.” Rose paused and thought about it. What she’d done there, hadn’t done, what she’d learned and created.
“I didn’t really live,” she admitted slowly.
In the background, she heard the Doctor wrapping things up but knew he wouldn’t find her. Not yet. He’d wait until it was just the two of them before asking her what happened. Rose didn’t know what she’d tell him. Maybe none of it. Maybe all of it.
Right now, it felt great to get it all off her chest, but with the Doctor? Rose just wasn’t sure.
Licking her lips, she bit at her cuticle again. “I didn’t have a life there,” she admitted.
Curling her beleaguered thumb into her fist, she dropped her hand to her lap and fiddled with the hem of her skirt instead. Another short, fashionable dress, this time she was sure to wear knickers though she’d teased the Doctor about that when they’d dressed this morning.
He’d growled, low and deep in the back of his throat and pinned her to the closed door and made her promise to wear underwear while they ran around London’s alleys and found errant time travelers. Rose shook the memory away and gathered her scattered thoughts.
“I worked,” she said and took a deep breath. “I tried to find a way back here. Once in a while Pete and mum convinced me to go to one of Pete’s functions. I’d play with Tony and hang with Mickey and Jake. But I never really made friends. Not like you and Jack.”
She shook her head and took a deep breath. “I did all that so I could get back here. Return to the Doctor. No.” She stopped herself. “Not all of it. The stars were going out and that’s really scary, but I used it as an excuse. I used it to continue working on the project. To jump with the Dimension Cannon back here.”
Rose shook her head. “But even there, even then, I was a project manager. I had people reporting to me. I was respected and liked and knew that the hell I was doing and what I was talking about. Here?”
She swallowed and looked at Martha. “What if here, all I am is the Doctor’s lover? Mum to the Doctor’s child?”
“You can never be only anything,” Martha said with such conviction, such assurance and humor and certainty, Rose nearly believed her. “Because I don’t believe I’d ever be friends with someone like you mentioned. Someone who lived only for one man. Even,” she admitted in a whisper with a wink, “a man as brilliant as the Doctor.”
Martha shook her head. “No. You’re more than that. All you have to do...all we have to do is figure out what.”
Rose nodded. “Yeah. Yeah, you’re right. And I do want to have a baby, have the Doctor’s child. It’s not that. It isn’t that.” She blew her nose again and, feeling better, stood.
The three men still stood in the modified living room, though the Doctor looked over at her with concern and a hint of fear. Rose smiled at him, again relaxed and confident and at peace.
“We’ll figure it out, Martha. I’ll figure it out.” Rose turned to her friend and laughed. “Isn’t that what life’s about? Figuring it all out? If we had all the answers, what would be the point?”
“Exactly!” Martha laughed. “Life’s a journey, isn’t that the saying? So let’s go continue this here journey.”
Rose squeezed the hand Martha still held and nodded. She looked over at the Doctor again and knew she’d tell him all her fears. Just as she knew she’d figure out who she was. What she wanted to do.
Together. With the Doctor. And their family.