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The One He Forgot

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Prologue

Bad Wolf Bay

October 17, 2009

"Wait."

The Doctor has gone to leave, return to his TARDIS as always. He doesn't want to look back. Donna can, but he can't.

"Doctor, please."

He turns around. The clone is looking at him. He hates the happiness in his duplicate's eyes, knowing it doesn't mirror him.

Rose looks up at him, her eyes glowing golden for the briefest of seconds. "I need to take something out of your memory." she whispers.

He doesn't need to ask what, or how. He knows. He always knew this would have to happen.

It doesn't make it hurt any less.

He nods quietly, and she places her fingers at his temples. Something changes in the back of his mind, but he doesn't register it. Then he blinks, and Rose turns away, and all he wants to do is cry, to tell her how much he loves her, to tell her to tell-

To tell her to tell what?

He can't remember.

So, like every other time, the Doctor leaves.

August 31, 2011

Demon's Run Asteroid

"Doctor, who slept in here?" asks River. He's leaving, just like he always does. Leaving to find Melody.

"What? Oh, right, it's mine."

"Liar."

"What do you mean?"

"I can read Gallifreyan too, remember?"

"Still not getting your point, River."

He doesn't wait for a reply, just turns and shuts the TARDIS door behind him. But for a moment, though, he hesitates. Why did River call him a liar? What had he lied about this time?

Oh, who cares. Probably something I haven't done yet.

Yes, that has to be it. Always is with River Song. Always getting assaulted for stuff he has yet to do.

It's the only explanation he can think of, because he can't remember what the lie might be. And he remembers everything.

Doesn't he?

Chapter Text

 

Chapter One

January 21,2012

London

Martha

The night had long fallen by the time she got the call.

Although Martha didn't technically work for UNIT anymore, she was still on their list, especially when it came to alien tech. Every now and then, she would get a call on her cell, unmarked as was the standard, and usually badly timed. This one's bad timing had to do with Mickey- he was home for more than 24 hours for the first time in weeks. She had thought she'd be used to the erratic calls by now.

She wasn't even close.

Martha flipped open her cellphone. "Yes?" she sighed.

"37 Bannerman Road. Large crash site. Unknown ship."

"I'll be there."

Martha leaped out of the van, surveying the crash site. It was an ovoid ship, splintered down the center, not a single window or door showing. Fires raged on its left side, and fragments larger than she was were everywhere.

"So much for a cover-up." she commented.

"You're telling me."

" So what is it?"

"No idea. The readings off it are unlike anything we've ever seen. No sign of the occupants, but it looks like there were three, most likely humanoid."

Martha spotted a all-too-familiar black sedan pulling up. "You called Torchwood?" she asked.

"How could we not? It's their job."

The car stopped, and a large man who looked like he'd stepped out of the forties leaped out. "Martha! Good to see you again."

"Captain." she replied briskly.

"No need to be so stiff, sweetheart. And who are you?" asked Jack, turning his attention to the woman by Martha's side.

"Stop it." Martha warned.

Jack just smirked. "What do you think?" he asked, gesturing towards the bronze ship.

"I've never seen anything like this, not even with the Doctor."

"Well, standing here isn't going to do anything. Let's go take a look." He clapped a hand on her shoulder, and Martha allowed herself a small smile. She pulled her cold hands out of her pockets, and they started examine the wreckage.

"Alright, Jack, what is it?" she asked as soon as they were out of earshot of the UNIT officers.

"I don't know."

"Liar. They can't hear you, you know."

Jack sighed and rubbed his hands together, breath fogging on the wind. "It's a Void ship."

"A what?"

"A ship designed for navigating the space between parallel universes. Torchwood had one, back in the day. We never did open it until the Doctor showed his face."

"So who do you think was inside?"

"Not the Daleks again. We would know, unless-"

"- they're being uncharacteristically not evil? Yeah, that's not even a possibility. Maybe it was just some harmless alien."

"Oh, right. Like harmless aliens ever show up in our lives." He paused. "The Doctor would know."

"Have you seen him since that day?"

"No. Have you?"

"I've seen where he's been, if that counts."

"We've all seen the planet in the sky, Martha. We've all seen the cracks in the walls. I've seen other things, too, bits of history where he had to be involved. But he's never come back, and I don't think he ever will."

Martha sighed. "I think he's regenerated, since we last saw him. I know what you mean, about the history. I've seen that stuff too, but I've noticed his descriptions have changed. Maybe that's why he never came back."

"I doubt he'd ever let regeneration get in the way of his friends. Face it, Martha, we've been discarded."

Martha chose to ignore him. "Jack, look at this." She pointed to a pale footprint on the distorted ground. "That you?"

"No, it's too small. So was someone here before us?"

"Maybe it was the inhabitant."

Martha and Jack jumped at the new voice. "Sarah Jane!" exclaimed the Captain. "What are you doing here?"

"Well, it's practically my backyard, how could I not be here?"

"Good point. So is it you?"

"No, but I've already seen it. Have you seen where it came from?"

"What do you mean?" asked Martha.

"Over here." The older woman gestured to a piece of the ship, that, upon closer inspection, had obviously been moved. "I think whoever it was was trapped and move that to get out."

"But how could they, it's beyond anything a human could lift! And that is definitely a human footprint, before you try to contradict me."

"You tell me."

Martha got down on her hands and knees, examine the dark shelf under the moved metal. Something glinted in the darkness, just out of her line of sight.

"So, once we're done here, do you two want to head over to Torchwood for a drink? Everyone but Gwen and Lantos have gone home by now, and I can tell you guys need it."

Jack's voice floated down to where Martha was digging around. "Sure." she called back up, speaking almost simultaneously with Sarah Jane.

"What exactly are you doing down there, anyways?" called Jack.

"Just...one...moment." Her hand closed around the object, and she pulled out of the crack. "Got it."

Martha stepped back and lifted her hands into the pale firelight.

"That's a-" hissed Jack.

"I know."

"How did a sonic end up down there? Has he been here?"

Sarah Jane shook her head. "Look at it. The design is alien, but it's all human tech. Almost like something Torchwood might cook up."

Martha stated at the screwdriver, playing with it in her hands. Sarah Jane was right, it was impossibly human. Who could have made it? Who had been in the ship? She had come here for answers, not for questions.

What are you?

Chapter Text

 

 

Chapter 2
January 21, 2012
Cardiff

Jenny

Landing on piles of alien equipment really,really hurt.

Jenny winced and pulled her legs out from underneath a replicator that hadn't been used in a good hundred years. That had been a rough landing, and her vortex manipulator was probably shot. Check that- from the sparks coming off her wrist, it was probably destroyed. Great. She hoped she'd come out somewhere in the twentieth century.

 

Chapter 2
January 21, 2012
Cardiff

Jenny

Landing on piles of alien equipment really,really hurt.

Jenny winced and pulled her legs out from underneath a replicator that hadn't been used in a good hundred years. That had been a rough landing, and her vortex manipulator was probably shot. Check that- from the sparks coming off her wrist, it was probably destroyed. Great. She hoped she'd come out somewhere in the twentieth century.

She heard the light click of a gun being cocked. Oh, this was just wonderful. Of all the bloody places to land, its occupants had to be armed.

She swiveled around as carefully as she could, trying not to seem threatening. There were actually three people staring at her- a older brunette somewhere in her fifties, a large, chiseled man who was responsible for the gun, and someone she recognized. Hm.

"Hey, Martha." she breathed. "Care to help me up?"

The woman's gaze remained hard-set. "You died." she stated.

"Obviously not. Where's this?"

"Torchwood." snarled the man. "Who the hell are you?"

"The name's Jenny Noble-" she brushed herself off and lifted up onto her feet-"-and I could ask you the same thing."

"Captain Jack Harkness." Was that a smile she detected on his face? Martha certainly kept some odd friends.

"I'm looking for my dad, Martha." she said.

"Who isn't these days?"

"I'm sorry, what's going on here?"asked the brunette.

"Sorry, I kind of forgot about you. I'm Jenny. The Doctor's my dad."

"Really?" She sounded more unconvinced than surprised.

"Well, sort of. I'm more like a clone, but obviously nowhere near identical- it's complicated. But basically, yeah."

The woman nodded. "Sarah Jane Smith. Put the gun down, Jack."

"How did you get here?" asked Martha, walking over to one of the chairs.

"Bought a vortex manipulator couple days ago off a dealer. Set it for 21st century Earth and hoped I'd end up somewhere decent. It's broken now, though, so your'e not getting rid of me. What exactly is Torchwood, anyways?"

"We deal with alien tech that crash lands here." said Jack. He was smiling a lot more now. "It's pretty quiet, so you wouldn't have heard of it."

"I'm not exactly from anywhere near here. I don't think I would have heard of it period."

"Jenny, why are you here?" asked Martha.

She sighed and sat back, blonde hair flopping over her face. "I wish I could say I was just visiting, but that's a dead lie. I've been doing a lot of traveling lately, Martha, and I've seen some things. Creatures that are supposed to be long dead, people who haven't been seen since, well, since the Time War ended. No one important yet, but it's getting worse. Something is wrong with the universe, and we need the Doctor."

"It's not just you." said Jack. "Working for Torchwood, I've seen some things that are bothering me, creatures coming out of the stories in my childhood. And then there's this." He reached a hand out to Sarah Jane. "Still got the screwdriver?"

She reached in her coat pocket and handed it to Jack, who proceeded to pass it to Jenny.

"A Void ship crashed in London about eight hours ago." he said. "Know what that is?"

"Heard of 'em, yeah." said Jenny, not looking up from inspecting the screwdriver. "And you found this inside?"

"Found it in the wreckage, yeah."

"The wreckage? Void ships aren't supposed to crash, their technology keeps them from existing until they land. They can't crash."

"Well, this one did. What do you think of it?"

Jenny laughed softly. "It's remarkable. Completely alien tech-almost just like my dad's, actually- but it's made from human resources. Something like this shouldn't be possible, it'd take a genius to even try."

"Do you know who might have made it?" asked Sarah Jane.

"No, but I could track its owner, with a powerful enough computer. Although I doubt you've got one of those in this century..."

Marta looked at Sarah Jane. "What about Mr. Smith?"

"It could work, except that's London and it's 3 hours away. It'd be dawn by the time we get there."

"Or, we could choose not to ignore the fact that my vortex manipulator is still working and we can just teleport there."

"Fine, Jack. Your solution it is."

Jack fiddled with the coordinates for a second. "Alright, got it." He reached out and grabbed Martha and Sarah Jane's hand, who in turn grabbed Jenny. The world fizzled for a second, and they were standing in Sarah Jane's kitchen, a tall, dark-haired boy staring at them from the fridge door. "Mum?" he asked incredulously. "Why are you up, it's three in the bloody morn...ing? Who are they?"

"I could ask you the same thing. Go boot up Mr. Smith."

"...Okay..." He was still looking at them warily. "Maybe I could go, you know, actually get some clothes first."

"Yes, fine, whatever."

"Who's that?" asked Jenny.

"My son, Luke. He's eighteen."

"MOM, IS UP!" bellowed Luke from upstairs.

"Okay, then."

Jenny traipsed up the stairs to a small room, the light of the supercomputer the only thing working. Pulling the screwdriver out of her pocket, she started to run a check, looking for any traces of the owner.

"Not seeing anything. This thing isn't powerful enough."she said.

"No, you're just not doing it right." Luke leaned over and hit a couple buttons, and a faint blip showed up on the map.

"Got you." muttered Martha. "That's only three blocks from here."

"Sarah Jane, you can stay here if you want." commanded Jack. "We've got an alien to find."

"Careful."

Jenny rolled her eyes. "I'm twenty-two, Jack. I can handle myself. "

"We don't know what's going to be down that alleyway."

"And I've handled aliens before. Stop being so overprotective."

"Stop it, both of you." ordered Martha. "The sooner we get this over with, the sooner we can go home."

"Hmph."

"Jack, stop acting like a two year old."

Jenny pointed to the dark corner of the alleyway. "I see something down there."

Jack lowered his voice. "That's where the blip should be..."

Jenny separated herself from Jack and Martha, quietly stepping into the shadows. For a moment she thought she was alone, but then the sky rushed up to meet her, and her head hit the pavement with a resounding crack. It would have rendered any human unconscious; but Jenny wasn't human; and she regained just enough of her senses to shove off her assailant and leap to her feet. She staggered back, the bright light of a laser sight glaring in her eyes.

"Take one step closer and you'll be atoms on the wind." snarled her attacker. He was keeping to the shadows, just out of her sight.

Martha and Jack rushed up beside her, guns drawn. "Stand where I can see you!" bellowed Jack.

"Give me one good reason-"

"NOW!"

"Jack, wait." said Jenny. She pulled the sonic out of her pocket. "This yours?"

Her attacker stepped into the light. "Yeah, how did you get it?"

He couldn't have been older than seventeen, but his gray eyes were tired and old. He had longish, brown-blonde hair that was sticking up everywhere, and he towered over Jenny's petite frame. And most of all, he was undeniably human.

"Found it. Details aren't important."

"Who are you hiding?" asked Jack.

The boy swiveled his lasergun to Jack. "No one."

"There were two heat signatures on the map. Who's back there?"

"Since when?" Martha whispered to Jenny. "I only saw one."

"Maybe the captain saw something we didn't?"

The boy slowly lowered his weapon. "Can you help me?" he asked. "I feel like I can trust you. I'm not sure why, but I feel like I can trust you."

"What's the problem?"

"It's my mum. She was hurt when our ship crashed, and I can't do anything. She's dying, and I don't know why."

"I'm a doctor." said Martha. "Let me see."

The boy stepped back into the shadows, the threesome following. Another silhouette had been laid out against the wall, unconscious but clearly well cared for.

"I've tried everything." he explained. "I'm not stupid, I know a thing or two myself. But no matter what I do, she just won't heal."

Martha bent over and pulled the woman's hair out of her face. "I can't see a thing. Light, anyone?"

Jenny clicked on the screwdriver, and Martha recoiled. "No..it can't be. Not here!"

"What did you say your name was?" asked Jack.

"Jalen." said the boy. "Jalen Tyler. And that's my mum."

"Rose." whispered Jack. "What are you doing here?"

Chapter Text

 

 

Chapter 3

Luke

January 21,2012

London

Luke collapsed on the couch, stolen cookie in one hand, wide awake. He didn't care that it was four in the morning; there was too much crap going on to risk going to sleep. He didn't want to miss a second of the action. He had tried to act surprised to see the Captain and Martha Smith- he knew who they were, having hacked into UNIT and Torchwood files ages ago. But the third girl was new. He had never seen her in the files, but she was clearly capable and very intelligent. She had to be in there somewhere,considering what she knew about alien tech.

"Hey, mum, what was the girl's name? The younger one?" he called across the house.

"She's older than you, Luke."

"Very funny, mum."

"It was Jenny. Jenny Noble."

"Thanks."

He surreptitiously pulled his phone out of his pocket and pulled up the Torchwood database. Given the whole alien technology thing, he'd probably get more there.

Alright then, Jennifer Noble. He guessed Jenny was probably a nickname.

Nothing. Not in the official databases anyway. He pulled up the Captain's personal one. There were a couple of hits there, but all were for a different Noble: a woman named Donna, who, judging by the photos, was no relation.

He switched over to UNIT files. Once again, nothing in the official, but in Martha's personal files there was one hit: a report titled "The Doctor's Daughter."

He skimmed it quickly. Travel through time and space...gender-swapping clone modules...oh, this was good.

She's like me. he thought. Not quite her species, and no childhood to speak of. Wonder how she ended up here?

"Luke, what are you doing?"

He quickly turned his phone off and stuck it in his pocket. "Nothing, mum." he replied.

"I see."

She walked out of the room, and Luke heard his mother gasp.

"What is it?" he called. "Is that lot back?"

"You could say that. Get off the couch."

He jumped up. "Okay..."

The Captain walked in, a faintly familiar blonde figure cradled in his arms.

"Who's that?" asked Luke. "I feel like I've seen her before..."

"You have, but it's been a while." replied his mother. "Jack, what-"

"Ask that one." growled the Captain. He looked annoyed, and a darker, more unsettling worry was seated in his eyes.

A tall blonde boy with unnatural gray eyes glared back at him.

"Captain, who is this?" asked Sarah Jane.

The boy cleared his throat. "My name's Jalen Tyler, ma'm. My mum and I came down on the Void Ship."

Sarah Jane looked a little shocked. "You're her son? But you're much too old. It's only been four years."

"Time works differently in the Void." cut in Jack. Luke noticed uneasily that his gaze was clear on Jalen, expression filled with something dark. Something about the boy obviously unsettled him.

"Why'd you come through in the first place? I thought Rose was happy there."

" She was. It was an accident. We were in the TARDIS once, and something went wrong. My dad died turning it into a Void ship. I was five."

"I'm sorry."

"Meh, I don't remember it."

Jalen pulled his hands out of his pockets and stared at Jack. "I'm sorry, I have to ask. Do I know you? I feel like I've seen you before."

Jack's gaze hardened. "Of course not."

"Jalen."

Everyone jumped a few inches, and Luke stared at the blonde woman. Her eyes had opened, but they glowed a pale gold, like an echo of something once owned. Jalen knelt by the couch. "What is it, mum?" he asked.

Ross tilted her head and whispered something into his ear. His once playful gaze sharpened, and he nodded solemnly. She fell back, slipping back into her coma.

"What's that?" asked Jenny, pointing to Jalen's closed hand. Luke hadn't realized he was holding something.

The boy opened his palm, revealing a small silver key on a yellow ribbon. "Mum's TARDIS key. We can use it to find the Doctor."

"Well, if it's that simple, why didn't you say something before? Jack and I both have one." said Martha.

"He'll have changed the locks by now, but Mum's always works." answered Jalen.

"Changed the locks? Figures. He goes to the ends of the Earth to get rid of us." muttered Jack.

"Jenny, can I borrow your vortex manipulator?" asked Jalen.

"No, but you can drag me wherever the hell you're going. There's a couple of things I'd like to say to my dad."

"Ok, that works too."

"And I want Luke to come."

"What?" he squeaked. "Why me? You hardly know me!"

"We need a nerd, and I know you hacked into Torchwood."

"What?" exclaimed Sarah Jane and Jack simultaneously.

"Kay, fine." sighed Luke.

"Luke, what does she mean-"

"Shut up, mum." he sighed. Jalen finished fiddling with his sonic. "Got it." he called. Jenny reached out and grabbed his hand, using the other to make the last couple of settings to her VM.

"Luke Smith, you stop-"

Jenny grabbed his shoulder and the world fizzled out of focus. The last thing he saw was his mother's annoyed face staring him down.

The world fizzled back, and Luke collapsed laughing against a wall. "You two cannot be human." he said.

Jenny looked at him weirdly. "Well, I'm not, but what makes you say that?"

"Because no human being can pull that escapade off and still look so serious."

Jalen sighed. "C'mon, we've got a universe to save."

They were in a metal hallway that looked like it had been taken out of some factory, the walls glinting copper in the artificial lighting. "What year are we in?" asked Luke.

Jenny checked her VM. "September 22,5346. Asteroid in the Galacros system. Never been here before."

A faint whirring metal sound sounded from the end of the long hall. "What was that?" asked Jalen.

"EX-TER-MIN-ATE!"

"Shit." hissed Jenny. Then, slightly louder. "Daleks, let's go!" She grabbed Luke and Jalen's hands, and they took off down the hallway.

"What the bloody hell is a Dalek?" yelled Jalen.

"Evil compressed into a glittery trash can. Damn it, the door's stuck!"

Jalen started digging in his coat, but he wasn't quick enough. The Dalek was close now, too close, aiming it's silver spindle at their heads. "EX-TER- MIN-ATE!"

"DUCK!"

The blue blaze flew over their heads and burst a hole in the door. Luke's face lit up. "SUCKERS!" he yelled, and the three catapulted though the hole.

"Crap, there's another door!" yelled Jenny. But Jalen was faster this time, finding his sonic and unlocking the door from ten feet away. They slammed through onto the tiniest of railings overlooking the warehouse floor. Jenny didn't hesitate, jumping over the side to ground fifteen feet below. Luke skidded to a halt, staring at the drop.

"No way am I-"

"Up and over, humany-wumany!" ordered Jalen, dragging him over the side with him.

Luke hit the ground hard, and Jalen pulled him back to his feet. They were surrounded on every side by boxes, and the Dalek was flying over the railway, firing wildly. Luke searched frantically for an exit, but nothing appeared. The Dalek landed soundly on the ground beside them-

And then its head exploded.

A tall, tan woman with bouncy blonde curls lowered the lasergun and smiled. "And who might you be?" she asked.

Luke opened his mouth to respond, but a voice cut him off.

"Aw, River, who walked into our trap?"

A man with floppy hair and a bowtie leaned over the railing with all the energy of a eight-year-old, fez perched jauntily on his head.

"Dunno, some kids. Lose the hat or I'll shoot it off."

"Course, sweetie."

He leaped over the railway and landed just as gracefully as Jalen and Jenny had. Luke felt even more embarrassed about his fall now.

The man's eyes raked over them, and he flicked the fez onto the ground before he could get in range of River's gun. He slid over Luke, only a faint hint of recognition there, and stared at Jalen for a moment too long, as if he knew him from somewhere. But it was Jenny that he really stared at.

"You're dead." he said, still not dropping his half-smile.

"Nice to see you too."

"Should've known." The man Luke had come to realize was the Doctor pulled Jenny into a bone-crushing hug. "I should have known. What brings you here?"

Jenny's eyes were dark. "It's not me who needs to speak with you." she said.

"Okay, we'll get to that later. Luke, right?"

He nodded, face tight.

"Interesting choice of companions, Jenny. Me, I prefer the gingers-"

"-and me-" added River.

"Oh, and let's not forget Miss Hell in High Heels. Her nickname, not mine. I really do apologize for the disappointment, but we were hoping to catch some Daleks."

"Doctor-" cut in Jenny.

"It was my idea, actually." said River. "Technically, he's supposed to be looking for me- well, a younger version of me- but I didn't want to change my past, so I showed up on his doorstep and said what the hell, let's go kill some Daleks!"

"Doctor." Jalen's voice was calm and sharp. "I have a message for you."

"A message? Oh, this'll be fun. Who are you, exactly? I feel like we've met."

Jalen was digging in his pockets, ignoring him. "My mum asked me to find you. She gave me this to prove the message was from her; didn't think you'd believe me any other way. Funny sort of message,anyways- only two words. I assume it means something to you, cause it doesn't mean crap to me."

"What?"

"Jalen, you arse, you're enjoying this." hissed Jenny.

"Like hell I am." he hissed back.

He stood close to the Doctor, who was staring at him a little uneasily. "What is this message?" he asked.

Jalen pressed the key into the Doctor's hand. "Bad wolf."

Something slipped in the Doctor's eyes, the playful expression falling from his face. There was a darkness there, and his eyes were far too old,like those of a war veteran. Jalen sighed and leaned back. "My name is Jalen." he said, finally finishing the Doctor's question. "Rose is my mother. We came here to warn you,Doctor. Something is terribly wrong with the universe."

The Doctor finally spoke. "Where is she?"

His voice had shifted, too, dark and wounded, as if he was treading a minefield.

"Dying in Sarah Jane's living room. She's so sick, Doctor, and there's nothing I can do. " Jalen's desperation showed for the briefest of moments. It was a game of facades,then, a game between the boy with eyes of a man and the man with the smile of a boy. Neither was quite who he claimed, always hiding, and Luke was suddenly struck by their similarities.

"Doctor?" asked River. "What does it mean?"

"We are going on a trip, River. A trip to some places I thought I'd never go back to to see some friends that I thought I'd never see again. And you are going to fly the TARDIS, because I don't think I'm currently capable of flying her. Do you understand?"

River met the Doctor's eyes. "Completely."

Chapter Text

 

Chapter Four

January 23,2012

Cardiff

Jenny

Jenny swung open the doors of the TARDIS, and her jaw dropped. "It really is bigger on the inside!"

The Doctor laughed. " I love it when they say that bit." He was smiling again, but even Jenny could recognize a mask.

River pulled a lever, and the TARDIS lurched. Luke and Jenny scrambled to grab something, but Jalen just stood there, looking at the high ceilings with an odd smile on his face. Jenny opened her mouth to say something, but then the TARDIS landed with a crash, and it was lost in her attempt not to fall on her butt.

Luke ran over and opened the doors, bright sunlight temporarily blinding them all.

"Something's wrong." said Jenny. "It was dark when we left."

"I must be off a few hours." said River. "It happens." She pulled a dark blue journal out of her pockets. "Doctor, I forgot to ask. Where are we?"

"I just came back from Demon's Run."

River looked up at him. "Shouldn't you be looking for me, then?" There was a devilish grin in her eyes.

"I decided I liked how you turned out too much to try to change it."

"Good. You never would have been able to find me anyways."

"You realize none of what you two just said made any sense to me?" said Jenny.

"We're on alternate time streams, things get mixed up." replied River. "If the Doctor's told me anything about you, that's all I need to explain for you to understand."

"He told you about me?"

" 'Course he did."

Jenny stopped, a little dumbfounded. River must mean an awful lot to her father if she knew about her.

Jenny stepped out of the TARDIS and into the sun to join Luke and Jalen, River and the Doctor close behind. They had landed in Cardiff, and according to Jenny's VM, it was about six hours since their departure.

"Why Cardiff?" she asked. "We left from London."

"I aimed for London." replied River. "The only reason I can think of for ending up here is that someone diverted us."

"Can they do that?"

"With a little psychic energy, London to Cardiff is pretty easy. There's a huge rift in space and time here; the TARDIS wants to land on it. Jut give it a push and she will."

There were two people waving at them from across the square; one with long red hair and a tired-looking man. River stiffened. "Jenny, what year is it?"

"2012."

She pulled the journal back out of her pocket, checking the pages furiously. "Doctor?" she called, a little nervously.

"Yeah?"

"We've got visitors." She tilted her head to the two people crossing the square. "Let me head them off."

"Doctor!" called the redhead in a light Scottish accent. "What are you doing here? I thought you were keeping a low profile."

River rushed up to them. Jenny only caught half the conversation.

"Rory, Amy, this is an older version of the Doctor. He..."-River dropped her voice so Jenny couldn't hear- "so don't reveal any of that, okay?"

"Sure thing, River." replied Amy. "We only came because you called, anyways."

"I called?"

"Yeah, just yesterday. Said you needed us in Cardiff by nine am. Haven't you done that yet?"

"No, I haven't."

Rory rolled his eyes, and Jenny heard him mutter "Paradoxes." under his breath.

The Doctor marched on ahead on them, heading for a dull tourist booth below the fountain. "Come along, Pond!" he called,

and Amy smirked, grabbed Rory's hand, and dragged him behind.

"Where the hell does he think he's going?" snarked River.

Luke and Jenny pounced at the same moment. "That's Torchwood headquarters."

"Torchwood? Lord help us all."

"You know who they are?" asked Jalen.

"They're the most arrogant bunch of alien hunters I've ever had the misfortune to meet. Never did meet their leader, though. He was off gallavanting through the stars last time I ran into them."

Jalen was quiet, and Jenny realized that the only reason he had asked River was because he didn't know himself.

The Doctor was meddling with his sonic, trying to unlock the door. "It's wood." he whined. "She doesn't like wood. Why did Jack make it wood?"

"He probably had you in mind."muttered Jenny, pulling a bobby pin out of her ponytail. She shoved the Doctor aside and quickly picked the lock.

The office was tiny and touristy, a perfect coverup. The Doctor made a beeline for one of the walls. "Now this I can open!" he said.

"Doctor, that's a wall." said Amy sarcastically.

"No, it's not!" He finished scanning and stuck the sonic back in his jacket pocket. "Rory, there's a switch underneath the desk. Go hit it."

There was a click, and the wall slid back, revealing a stone tunnel. Jenny was mildly impressed, but Jalen had a look of "been there, done that" that seemed to be permanently glued to his face.

The tiny gang shoved inside the tunnel, the wall closing behind them. Jalen was still distant, and Jenny realized that even though no one knew much about him, they all seemed to be trusting him more than they should.

What are you? she wondered. What about you makes us all think you can be trusted? The Doctor obviously trusts you. Is that all we really need? And why do you seem like you've done this all before? You said you were trapped in the Void Ship when you were five. It that's true, what have you done for the past twelve years?

And Jack. Can't forget Jack. The way he kept looking at you, like you're a ghost. You bother him, I know that.

"Jenny? What are you staring at?"

She resurfaced from her thoughts. "Yes, River?"

"...nevermind."

She was suddenly struck by the thought that River, too, knew something. She probably didn't know much more than Jenny did, but Jenny couldn't help but get the feeling she had one more piece of the puzzle, one tiny fact she didn't.

"Why won't this open?"

The Doctor had started karate-chopping the door at the end of the hallway in a vain attempt to unlock it. River let out a long sigh. "It's probably deadlocked."

"No it's not, I would know! My sonic would tell me."

River shoved him out of the way. "Well, let's try knocking."

She raised a hand, but the door started clanking back. River put a hand on her gun, wary. The Doctor backed up, as if he was a bit nervous of something. What did he have to be nervous of?

The door rolled completely back and a pair of great metal gates opened, a man in a forties coat aiming a gun at River. She reacted instantly, drawing her own.

"Captain Jack Harkness, and who are you?"

"Doctor River Song. Stop pointing that thing at me, sweetie, or you're going to get hurt."

"Oh, I like you. Does the Doctor approve of that gun of yours?"

"I don't need his approval for anything."

Jack had one of the biggest smirk's Jenny had ever seen glued to his face, his gun dropping back into its holster. "I can see why he drags you around." he said.

"Alright, alright, Jack, stop it." said the Doctor.

"Doctor." Jack had tensed up. "You've regenerated. Into a teenager. I like it."

The banter seemed more forced now, like he didn't mean what he said.

"Jack-"

"Where have you been, Doctor?" he asked.

"Where do you think?"

"Oh, yes, running about in the TARDIS, gallivanting about like a little boy. It may have escaped your notice, Doctor, but there have been an awful lot of times when we needed you and you never showed up."

"Jack, can we argue some other time?"

"Did you know your friend Wilfred died?"

A vaguely hollow look resurfaced in the Doctor's eyes. "What?"

"Tridoshi attack. Two Christmases ago. Torchwood was overwhelmed. You could have saved him, Doctor. You could have saved so many other people that night. But you weren't there."

Jenny knew this had gone too far. "Jack," she said, thinking quickly, "why are you here? We left you in London."

"UNIT got too pushy, so I came here. Sarah Jane and Martha are back sorting things out, they'll be here any minute." "And-?"

It was the Doctor who spoke this time, not Jenny.

Jack jerked his head towards a darker bay of Torchwood. "Over there."

The Doctor had that look again, the one that Jenny couldn't quite place. It wasn't sad so much as the hollow, wounded looked of a soldier who has seen too much. The man was really quite confusing; he could seem so happy one moment yet completley distant the next. Her father had certanitly regenerated into an odd creature.

Amy moved to introduce herself to Jack, her protective husband close behind, clearly picking up on Jack's " I'll flirt with anything that breathes" vibe. Luke and River were in the middle of a heated discuission over wheter having a pterodactyl flying around upstairs would create a paradox outside the Torchwood headquarters, and Jenny found herself smirking at the fact that they had picked such an odd subject at this time. Jalen, like her, didn't move, but just stood there, watching. Watching the seemingly mindless converstion, the tension building in every corner. Watching the Doctor, his face still hollow, walk towards Jack's little sick bay,trying to avoid being overly noticed.

Jenny couldn't help but feeling like she was intruding, watching the Doctor. But to move from where she was standing now-just within earshot- would make it seem like she was trying to listen in. So she stood there, feeling like an unwanted fly on the wall.

The Doctor slid onto the seat beside the pink-and-yellow woman, sliding his hand into her own.

"When I left you, that day on the beach, you were happy." he whispered. "You were crying your eyes out, but I know you were happy. What made you leave, Rose? What happened to John? What is so terrible that you two would risk your lives just to find a man who has caused you nothing but pain?"

He sighed, burying his face in his hands. "Why can't you wake up? It would be so much easier. I could ask you. I doubt you'd recognize me, anyways.I'm the new, new, new doctor now."

He bent over and kissed Rose lightly on the forehead, like he had done with Amy and Jenny a thousand times. Then he rose from his chair and walked over to River, who Jenny hadn't even noticed standing there. The frizzy-haired woman said nothing, only taking the Doctor's hand.

The sudden silence was shattered by the clanking of the gates, and Sarah Jane and Martha rushed in, soaking wet and gasping. Jack stopped chatting up Amy and stared. "What happened?" he asked.

"I don't know what it is." gasped Martha. "But if I didn't know better, I'd say the Rift just shot its worst concoction at us."

"What do you mean, 'concotion?'"

"There's one hell of an alien looking for a fight."

Jack pulled his pistol back out of its holster, spinning it Han-Solo style. "I think he just found one."

Chapter Text

 

Chapter 5

Jack

"Jack, no." said the Doctor. "We should try talking to it first."

"I don't have to listen to you, Doctor. Martha, what was it?"

"No idea. Big and gray and controlling the rain somehow. Doctor, it was like that one time when we were at the hospital-"

"The rain's going up?"

"Not just that. It's going both directions at once."

"Alright, that does it." announced Jack. "You lot, come on. Doctor, stay here or come with us, I don't give a crap. Just stay out of my way."

He flashed his gun in the air, gesturing his friends on. The Doctor just stood there for a moment, looking lost. "Two directions at once..." he murmured. Jack knew he was running through his personal encyclopedia in his head, trying to identify it.

Have fun.

Martha was right; the rain was going up and down at the same time, flowing down on his head and up his nose. He struggled to breathe for instant, gasping open his mouth, only to have the air knocked out of his lungs by a great green cloud of mist billowing up from the street drains. He lowered his head, hacking, vision blurred by the rain and lack of oxygen. All he could hear were the screams of the pedestrians, and maybe even of his friends. The edges of his vision started to go black, but then something crashed into him, landing him firmly in the three inches of water that had pooled below the mist.

He thrashed for an instant, but a buzzing filled his ears, and the water flashed away with a blue glow, leaving him gasping on the pavement, staring at the mist above his head.

"Jack, it's using the mist to hide itself." said the Doctor calmly. "Go find the alien, and it'll stop."

Something's wrong. The Doctor doesn't usually talk like that. Even in this new incarnation, Jack gets the feeling that he's childish. That he never takes anything this seriously. And in that split-second as his mind finishes clearing up, he realizes it isn't the Doctor who saved him.

It's Jalen.

He stops for a moment to think what the actual hell you're only seventeen, then realizes the danger and crawls.

Crawls through the thin bit of air that Jalen has made for him, until he sees something inhuman, something with thick gray legs and a long,spindly tail. He lifts his pistol with still-shaking hands, vision destroyed by the rain, and fires a shot in the general direction of the beast. He can tell it misses, but it's enough to distract it, and that's all he needs.

The mist dissapates, and Martha is hacking on the ground beside him. His strength returning, Jack charges to his feet, the rain still choking him. The beast is gray and winged, like a stone devil, a devil with eyes like great emeralds, sightless and cold. It laughs, a low, guttural thing, and lunges for the still-helpless Martha.

Jack's aim is clearer now, and he hits it clear, but it doesn't seem to bother the beast. It does, however, give Martha just enough time to scramble to her feet, and run. She's good at that, all are.

The beast speaks, and it's voice vibratesin Jack's head, hurts him like a wound might.

Hello again, Doctor. it purrs. A pleasure indeed.

Jalen lifts his hands up, blonde hair sticking in every direction. "I'm not the Doctor." he says.

"But I am."

The Doctor has finally stopped moping and arrived, or maybe he's been here the whole time. Jack doesn't know.

"Hello again." There is that childish smirk on his face, that smirk of "we're in danger and I don't give a crap" that Jack recognizes from his previous regenerations. "I must admit, haven't seen a Irridivore in a while. Killed them all in the Time War. Dreadful race, really. Always bent on destroying the universe. Why are you here, and how are you alive?"

I am from the Time War, Doctor, come to kill you!

"What? No, that's impossible, the whole war is timelocked."

The seal has been broken, Doctor. The rift is opening, and your hell is coming through. It is too bad that I am still too weak to kill you now. I would enjoy hearing you scream. But your companion's screams will fuel my heart just as well.

The air crackled with electricity, and Jack's heart grew cold. Drenched as they all were, a single lightning bolt would kill them instantly.

The Doctor pulled his sonic in a futile attempt to diffuse the electricity, but he was a moment too late. The lightning was forming clearer now, crackling in clear blue slashes around the beast's body. Jack charged forward, aiming for the beast, knowing it wouldn't do a thing, but desperate to try anything. It looked at him, and cackled, the poor little human he was, trying so hard to save his own life.

The beast went to discharge the lightning, but something happened. A pale form shot up behind it and dragged it back, the lightning flowing into his own body instead of the water. The beast roared in rage, but the figure didn't let go, holding and holding until its lightning was gone. And then the beast was gone, too, like smoke on the wind, the rain returning to normal. But it was Jalen who lay in the water, Jalen all along, that idiot boy, trying to be so damn heroic.

Rory shot past him, his feet spraying water into Jack's face. "I'm a nurse." he gasped. "I can help him."

The man bent over the boy, listening at first, then confused. "His heart's going just fine, but he looks like it's failing. I don't get it."

A sudden realization hit Jack, a solution to that nagging feeling that has been bothering him since Jalen had arrived. "Two hearts." he muttered to himself. Then, raising his voice, "Rory, he's got two hearts!"

Rory looked at him like he was nuts, but checked anyway. The dawning shock on his face as he realized Jack was right mirrored the man standing behind him.

"Two hearts." muttered the Doctor. "How did I not notice that before?" There was more in his voice, a "what does it mean?" that was clearly pointed in Jack's general direction.

Jack ignored the question.

"Jack, how did you know if I didn't?"

A voice whispered in his mind, his own little consciousness perhaps, or maybe another person's thought touching his.

Shhh.

He could answer truthfully, at least.

"I don't remember how I know that."

But that wasn't the complete truth. There were bits and pieces joggling around in his mind, remnants of something long ago, and he was starting to put the bits together.

He didn't like the picture he was getting.

Jack hit the final button on the code pad, and the great iron bars of the door slid back. He was tired, and still drenched. God, every last bit of him ached, not just with physical weariness, but the weight of an old man who knows too much.

For the longest time after they had met,he hadn't known why the Doctor always looked so sad. Back the, when he was young and stupid and the Doctor was a unpredictable man with a penchant for leather jackets, he had always thought it something caused by a single event, something that could easily be solved. He had liked to think that he was the one who could fix the Doctor. But the Doctor had only ever had eyes for her, that golden girl who nearly died trying to save them so many times.

And then he had gone and run off, leaving Jack alone, not knowing what crime he had committed against the Doctor. For years he had wondered, first on Satellite Five, and then again in the strange land of the 19th century, if he had made a misstep with Rose somewhere, if the Doctor no longer considered him worthy as a companion. But as the cold darkness of 1892 bled into the painful fires of the First World War, he started to understand. The Doctor had known he couldn't die. He had to have known. And that was why he had been left behind, because the Doctor knew what happens to those like him, those who live forever.

They get too old. he thought. Looking at me would have been like looking in a mirror. I don't think he could have handled it.

But then the Doctor had returned, with a new face and a strange new exuberance that Jack had mistaken for affection. At first he had been delighted to meet him again. But he understood the Doctor even more, after the year that never was. Looking at himwas like looking in a mirror. And as much as he enjoyed looking at the Doctor, it just had gotten too painful. He had still held onto the hope, though, that he would see him again. That maybe their common loss could be a common ground for Jack's more romantic intentions. But the Doctor had vanished, like smoke on the wind. Never to be seen again, until he had materialized here, a new face, a new person, and quite possibly the most annoying arse Jack had ever met.

He blinked out of his reverie, laying his jacket carefully on the table. He missed his team, but they were busy, with better things to do. Probably good that they weren't here anyways. He didn't need to lose another friend.

"Jack?"

It was Jalen, that odd boy.

"What?"

"Where's my mum?"

Suddenly Jack snapped clear of every thought in his head. Sure enough, Rose wasn't lying in his sleeping bay anymore.

At the same time, the Doctor grew quiet, and quickly pulled his sonic. A whining buzz filled the room, but the Jenny snapped out her hand and grabbed the sonic. "Shh." she whispered. "Do you hear that?"

Soft footsteps were echoing behind where the Doctor and Jenny were standing. He snapped his head around, grabbing the screwdriver back from Jenny and aiming it squarely at the woman behind him. "You're not Rose." he snarled.

Her eyes were wide and full of fire, glowing orange and red and inhuman. A faint black cloud of smoke floated around her hands, and a devilish grin lit her features. Jenny took a step back, startled, but the Doctor held his ground. Jack pulled his gun, circling around to get closer, keeping her in his sights the whole time.

Not-Rose giggled, like a five-year-old might. "Hello, Doctor. Will you come play with me? It's so much fun, this body. I feel so grown-up."

"Get out."

"You know who I am, don't you? It's no fun if we have to puzzle about it."

"If I hadn't seen such oddities already earlier today, I wouldn't believe it. But yes, I know. The Nightmare Child. The most twisted thing to walk the Seven Systems.Get out of her body."

"Oh, it's alright, Doctor. I won't hurt her. She let me in."

The Doctor stared back, startled.

"Isn't it fun when they do that? She was sick, and I said I could heal her. I'll keep my promise, of course. I'm not a liar, like you. Did you miss that day in Time Lord Kindergarten?"

"How did you get through?"

"Oh, I'm not completely through, yet. Otherwise I would have so much fun ripping you apart. It would be our little game, and I wouldn't need this sweet little body. I'd have my own, then. The rift isn't big enough yet, but it will be. And then your nightmares are coming through, Doctor. Everything that ever hated you or ever will, everything and everyone you ever wronged, the whole of eternity coming to kill you. The war isn't timelocked anymore, Doctor. And you're going to die."

The Doctor was scared, Jack could tell. Scared out of his mind, but struggling to not to show it.

"You've had your fun, Child." he managed. "Get out of her and go."

"Now," pouted the Nightmare Child, "where's the fun in that?"

Rose stiffened, and the hole in the ceiling opened into Cardiff.

"Bye bye, Doctor!" called the Child. "See you soon!"

Rose's mouth opened and she staggered back, fire pouring out of her body into the open ceiling. The last train of it vanished and the ceiling closed behind it. Rose gasped and fell forward, the Doctor lunging forward to catch her.

"I got you." he said, pulling her into his arms. "You aren't going anywhere."

She blinked and stared up at him. "Doctor?"

"Yeah. Yeah, it's me."

"You've regenerated."

"I know, I know." He hugged her even tighter. "New Doctor, huh?"

She leaned forward into him, resting her head on his shoulder. "Okay?" he asked.

"Okay."

Chapter Text

 

Chapter 6

January 24 ,2012

Cardiff

Rose

"Tea always makes everything better." pronounced Martha, handing Rose a cup.

"You sound like my mum." she scoffed. But she took it anyways, drinking deep as she sat back on the sofa. God, she was tired. After all that sleeping you'd think she wouldn't be, but no.

"So this is Torchwood." Rose said. "Interesting choice, Jack. Kind of...dark. And underground."

"Exactly, who builds a base underground?" said the Doctor. He was perched awkwardly on the edge of a chair, seeming a little unsure of himself, like he didn't know what to do.

"Ok, enough babble, Rose. As happy as we all are to see you again, we know there's a very good-well, probably bad- reason you're here. What's going on?" Jack, professional as always, took the lead.

She sighed and put down her tea. "Alright. It was about twelve years ago. We'd been in the parallel world for a good six or seven years, never noticed anything weird. Then, one day, the TARDIS starts getting this...signal."

"So you did grow a TARDIS. Did Donna's idea work, or did you-"

"Yeah, but that's a bit irrelevant, isn't it? Anyways, it's not even words. Just these four little beeps, over and over. Completely untraceable. John- the metacrisis clone, that's what he was calling himself- tried to go after it, but nothing. It just kept coming in."

The Doctor leaned back. "Four beeps."

"All in a row, sort of like a pattern. John mentioned the Master, don't look at me like that,I'm getting there. So anyways, after that started coming through, he insisted on setting up a system to monitor to any potential rift activity. It was quiet for a while, and then the really strange crap started happening."

"What?"

"The beeps, they weren't just beeps. They started to sound different, so I played around with the audio file of them a bit. Reversed, they made a message."

"He didn't." hissed Jack. "The Master-he didn't-"

"He did. It was a message from him, asking for help. 'The timelock is collapsing, he said. Rassilon's meddled too much. Help me.' Broadcast across every known planet, seeping through the cracks into our dimension,the Master, of all bloody people, sending out a distress signal.

And then, after a couple hours of the loop, it just stopped. No more beeps. No more messages. It just stopped.

"About three week later, the rift monitor picked up some serious activity. It wasn't on our side, or yours, but somewhere in between. Almost like...whatever made the rift crawled out from the Void, cracking both sides as it went."

"So you didn't make the hole."

"We just came through. Doctor, I don't know what made it, but it had more power than the hole the Daleks made. The Dalek's hole was neat, this was like a rip, a violent tear in the fabric of reality. At that point, Torchwood was having to deal with outrageous amounts of alien activity, way more than they should have. There was one last thing, too; the last thing that made us leave."

"What?"

"Those two words started appearing again, Doctor. Bad wolf. Everywhere we looked, they kept cropping up. A signal for the end of the universe, and it wouldn't go away. We had to go, we had to find you, had to warn you about what was happening with the universe. It should have been simple, really. The Rift was open, we had the TARDIS, it should have been a simple jump through. But something went wrong. Halfway through the Rift, the gates closed on us. The TARDIS couldn't handle it; she started to collapse. John activated an emergency setting on her to turn it into a Void ship. He hadn't told me he'd put it on when we grew the TARDIS, and now I realize why."

Her breath caught mid-sentence, and Jack reached out and took her hand. Rose wiped her face and kept going.

"The transformation-it took these massive amounts of energy. It sucked up every last bit of his life force. Even then, it wasn't quite enough. The ship came out pretty damaged, fires everywhere, not pretty. I nearly died keeping her going."

She sighed, burying her face in her hands. "Spent the next twelve years in stasis, mostly. Missed a lot. It was only about a week ago that Jalen brought me out. Said he'd found another hole. We slipped through the crack, and as far as I know it closed behind us."

"Doctor?" Amy asked. "What do you think?"

"Ah, yes." He popped up out of his chair like weed. "So. Something's making weird cracks between dimensions, the Master sent a distress call from time-locked Gallifrey, the timelock doesn't seem to be working anymore, and everything that ever hated me is showing up on my doorstep. This is..interesting. Very interesting. Probably life-threatening, definitely universe-threatening. Fun."

He said the last word half-sarcastic, rubbing his hands together nervously. Rose was watching him, watching intently, trying to take in every last bit of his new body. She wasn't sure what to think, just yet.

"Doctor, what about this Nightmare Child?" asked Martha. "What is it?"

"Don't ask, you don't want to know. It is very dangerous, took out nearly fifty Timelords last time I fought it. We don't stand a chance when it's at its full power, but, if we can catch it just as it comes through the rift, we'll be able to delay it, buy ourselves a little time."

Sarah Jane looked straight at the Doctor. "How will we know when it comes through? Jack, what usually happens when you get aliens here?"

"Well, I doubt it'll use our rift, but trust me, you'll know. If it's big as the Doctor says, you'll know."

He clapped his hands together. "Okay! I need you lot upstairs, we've got a little work to do. Not you, Doctor. You can stay."

Rose mouthed a silent thank you in Jack's direction, and he shot her one of his trademark smiles.Harkness. Even if he wasn't directly involved in the relationship, he was always trying to hook someone up.

She put her tea down, grinning like a schoolgirl.

"Hello."

"Hello."

He smiled straight back at her, a genuine smile, and Rose got the idea that he didn't smile like that much. Oh, his little excited smile showed up a lot, but it was only half there. He was like her first Doctor a good bit, darker and damaged, but he liked to hide it behind that half-smile and childish attitude.

"How did-how did you regenerate?" It's the only thing she can think of to break the awkward silence.

"One of the higher-ups over on Gallifrey tried to crack the time lock, drove the Master insane doing it. Sent them back,saved the world, but it was just too much, you know? But before I changed, before I regenerated, I went back, and I saw all of you. Every last one of my companions, living beautifully without me. Even you, Rose. Do you remember? New Year's Day 2005?"

"The drunk man in the shadows." she whispers.

"But it wasn't you, not really. You hadn't met me yet. And look at you now. You're brilliant, piloting that Void ship all the way back here, and so brave, for being able to go on for so long out there. You have this life that I know nothing about, you have this son, for God's sakes, who makes absolutely no sense half the time he's around but is still incredible all the same. You're fantastic, and this whole time I've been sitting here, doing nothing, fighting aliens and laughing like it's all just a game."

She tapped he fingers on the edge of the chair, watching him pace back and forth like a roaming tiger.

"You know when you miss somebody," she finally said, "and you think for days about what you're going to say when you see them again, play it over in your mind like a movie. But then you run into them again, and suddenly, what you were going to say before doesn't matter anymore, because they're not the same person you remember. It doesn't matter how little they've changed, but now what you were going to say is totally irrelevant, and you just don't know what to say anymore?"

The Doctor spun on his heels to face her, a stupid grin plastered to his face. "Rose Tyler, you magnificent creature."

She smiled right back at him, getting to her feet. He pulled her deep into a hug, nearly cutting off her breathing he was holding her so tight. She'd started crying again, dammit. Never could control her emotions at time like this.

"I am never letting you out of my sight again." he whispered. She just half-smiled. That would never be true. It was never that easy.

He finally let her breathe again. "So! I've got a brand-new TARDIS which you haven't seen yet, and I think you could do with a trip."

She shook her head, a little sad. "We can't."

"Why not?"

"What's happening here, right now- Doctor, we need to stay here. We can't just run off and pretend it's all gone. Maybe another time, but not right now."

The Doctor looked at her, caught somewhere between disappointment and pride. "Rose Tyler, you've grown up."

"I didn't grow up. I just got old."

The ground shook beneath their feet.

"What was that?" asked Rose.

"The Nightmare Child. She must be coming through." He dashed off towards the stairs. "Come along, Tyler!"

He hasn't changed anywhere as much as he thinks he has, really.

Chapter Text

 

 

Chapter 7

January 24,2012

Cardiff

Jenny

The ground rumbled under her feet like a lion, and Jenny leaped from her chair. "Jack?" she called .

"He went outside already." It was Luke, pulling away from the computer reluctantly. "Guess he didn't trust the younger ones enough to come along."

Jack's "work" had involved running off with Amy, Rory, Martha, Sarah Jane and River, leaving Jenny, Luke, and Jalen behind and promising to "be back in a moment". Total BS, of course.

"Door's locked, don't even try." said Luke.

"Can you open it from the computer?"

"Separate system. It's no good."

"Wonderful."

"Hang on, I'll get it." said Jalen. He pulled his sonic out of his jacket pocket and started to resonate the door. "Almost...got it."

There was a faint click, and the door swung open a couple of inches. Jalen slid it all the way open as quietly as he could, peering out as he went.

"Are we clear?" asked Luke a little too loudly.

"Shhh!" hissed Jenny.

"Yeah, I think so." said Jalen. "I don't see anyone."

The trio stepped out of the room and Jalen quietly closed the door behind. Jenny was about to say something when she heard footsteps echoing down the corridor to their left.

"Dammit, go right!" whispered Jalen, shoving her squarely in the back. It was too late. Martha came pacing towards them, looking not at all surprised.

"I thought Jack had you locked up?" she asked.

"Since when has that ever worked?" replied Jenny.

Martha shook her head and smiled,"Come on, we're gonna need all the help we can get!"

She led them up the corridor and out the main hall. The sun was fading fast from the sky, but not in the usual way. It was like a great shadow had fallen over the city, not a single star lighting the sky.

"What the hell?" said Jenny. "It's hardly three'o clock?"

Luke swallowed hard. "It's her."

Jack ran up to meet them. "I'm getting the city to evacuate as many people as they can." he said. "Martha, I need you and Sarah Jane to drive to the city center. Order full evac, Torchwood code 77643. Got it?"

Martha nodded. "Of course,Jack."

She ran off, and he turned to Luke, Jenny, and Jalen. "Didn't I lock you three up?"

"Move out of the way." snapped Jalen, shoving past Jack. "Doctor!"

The Doctor swiveled to face them. "Yes?"

"We can use the TARDIS to buy ourselves some time. Emergency timeloop the surrounding area until we can get everyone out."

"That'll never work, the energy levels already racketing around here would stop it in a instant." said River. She was punching numbers into that little communication device she carried everywhere.

"Not if we set the receiver to triple-loop the artron flow. It'll trip the emergency time-loop inside the TARDIS and increase the amount of energy it can handle."

River stopped punching number to stare at him. "That's brilliant."

"We can use her own energy against her."

"Ok, Jalen, River, go do that." ordered the Doctor. "Jenny, Luke, come help me with this."

"What are you doing?"

"She's here already. I can feel it. So why can't I see her?"

"There are people everywhere, Dad, how the hell do you except us to pick out one alien?"

"Jenny, hold on." Luke pointed to a little girl with coal-black hair sitting on the side of the street. "Everyone else is running out of here. So why isn't she?"

"Brilliant!" said the Doctor. "Well, not brilliant. Really, really bad. But still brilliant."

The little girl flipped her head up to stare straight at the Doctor, her tiny hands flaring open. A devilish grin lit her face. At the same instant, River and Jalen hit the ground, shielding their faces from the fire that suddenly engulfed the TARDIS. Jalen shot straight back up, barely singed, looking a little bit dangerous. The Doctor was obviously doing everything he could not to run over and try to put out the fire on his ship.

Jenny was terrified, absolutely terrified, but she buried he fear deep within her and took her father's hand. Something terrible was about to happen. She could feel it.

Jalen, Jack and the Doctor all moved for the little girl at the same instant. She dodged Jack's shot, and a cascade of fire poured from her outstretched hand. Jack and the Doctor hit the ground just in time, but Jalen was an instant too late, the inferno hitting him square in the chest. Jenny cried out, her voice lost in the roar of the flames. Jalen staggered back, holding himself up, the flames flowing into him but leaving every inch of his clothing unscathed. Then, the fires stopped, and the boy just stood there, breathing hard, but fine as far Jenny could tell.

The Nightmare Child tilted her head to look at him. "Why aren't you dead?" she asked, her voice slightly singsongy. "You should be-oh!"

"What?" snarled Jalen.

"Oh, this changes the game? Don't you know,friend! Oh, you don't know! How fun! I'll enjoy this!"

"What the hell are you talking about?"

"So much fun! What a game we'll have!"

Jalen stopped looking so puzzled and started laughing, of all things. The Nightmare Child stopped smiling and stared at him.

"What is it?" she asked. "What's so funny?"

"Count your advantages, honey, cause I think you just lost the game."

She tilted her head. "I never lose."

Jalen grinned, dark and dangerous."Advantage number one. Perception filters don't usually work on the people wearing them."

He pulled something off his neck, and Jenny did a double take. The little sensor in her head wasn't saying "human" anymore. She wasn't sure what it was saying, honestly.

Next to her, Rose buried her face in her hands, catching her breath. The older woman was clearly bothered by something beyond what Jenny would expect.

"Advantage number two. You just came through the rift. You're still incredibly weak, relying on the body of another to keep you going. How did you kill that poor girl? Did you burn her up like you tried to do to me?"

The Child tensed. "It was fun! She enjoyed it!"

Jalen kept blazing on. " Advantage number three. I'm not that easy to kill. And unlike the Doctor, I' m not scared to hurt you. So come on. Count the cards, Child, because this game is over."

"It is far from over." she replied. "Do these people know what you are? Do they know about the little monster hiding with them? You've lied an awful lot. My momma says you shouldn't lie."

"Shut up!" he hissed.

"The little monster, come to pretend he is an angel. The son of the Bad Wolf and the Oncoming Storm, the poor little Stormcub, so lost and alone and afraid and so very, very dangerous. You will kill them all, in the end. All these people you care about are going to die because of your monstrosity. That's no game. That's no fun at all, is it? The poor boy who becomes a beast, like one of my favorite fairytales. Do you know what happens at the end? The villagers kill him because they are afraid. I think you'll die the same way."

The Child opened her hand again, the same fire consuming him again. Jalen fell to his knees, his mouth wide in a soundless scream.

"Are you having fun yet, Stormcub?" she asked.

Jalen staggered back to his feet. "One last..thing."

"What? Another chess piece?"

"All that energy you just tried to use to kill me?" He unfolded himself, standing as tall as his battered body would allow. "I can use it to send you far from here."

His hands pulsed, the flames regurgitating straight back at the little girl. She screeched, but Jalen threw his head back and laughed.

"Go back to whatever hell you came from!" he roared.

Then the flames stopped.

The Child was gone.

Jalen stood hunched over for a second, staring at his hands. Then he cried out in sudden pain, falling forward to nearly the ground.

"Dammit." he hissed through gritted teeth."Dammit, no, I don't want to do this again!"

Jenny raced forward to help him. "Jalen-"

"STAY BACK!"

His gray eyes were damp, and his voice was more of a croak.

"Please." he whispered. "Just stay away from me. I don't wanna hurt you."

"Jalen." said River urgently. "Jalen, what's happening?"

The Doctor, Jenny noticed, had a look on his face that Jenny couldn't even begin to describe, halfway between disbelief and horror.

"I'm dying." whispered Jalen. "Oh, god, I'm so sorry."

He fell forward, staring at his hands again, and then his whole body jerked outward. Jenny was blinded by the blaze of golden light that flowed from every last inch of him. Her hands flew to cover her eyes from the light, the only sound she could hear Jalen's last roar. The light ended quickly as it came, and a new boy, an older one with wild brown hair and midnight-blue eyes, staggered back like a new fawn taking its first steps.

"Whoah!" His voice was different, too. "Okay. I can still walk. That's good. Hair-not bad, been worse. Bloody hell, am I shorter?"

"Okay, now I've seen it all." said Amy.

Jenny just sort of gaped, but no one reacted quite like the Doctor.

"Who are you?" he roared. "The Master? Rassilon? Who's been fooling us?"

"Now, calm down. There's no need for that-"

"TELL ME!"

The Doctor pulled his sonic on him, but Jalen was a hair faster with his own. Jenny cringed at the whine, and the Doctor's sonic sparked and flew out of his hand.

"Please." said Jalen, raising his hands defensively. "I swear, I'm not trying to fool you."

"Of course you are, how else-"

"I haven't lied to you. Not even once."

"She called you a monster, a beast out of a fairytale. The Stormcub. What does it mean, that name? Where did it come from?"

Jalen's cautiousness suddenly dropped, giving way to a darker, more daring boy. "You should know. You're the one who gave me that nickname."

The Doctor snapped. "Who are you?"

Jalen moved at the lightning speed that Jenny was coming to recognize as normal for his new body and slipped his hands to the Doctor's temples. The Doctor choked for an instant, his eyes rolling back into his head before collapsing to the ground.

"Dad!" yelled Jenny. She tried to run to him, but Rose held her back. Jack was quicker, pouncing on Jalen like a wolf.

Rose released Jenny from her hold. "Jack!" she cried out. "Jack, stop it!"

"What did you do to him?" yelled Jack, completely ignoring Rose.

"Jack, stop! He's fine. Jalen didn't hurt him."

"Why should I believe that, we all know he's a lying-"

"Jack, listen to me. The last time I met the Doctor, when he dropped me off at Bad Wolf Bay, I took something from him. Two years of his memory, gone. And I think you know which two. Because I don't know how, Jack, but you got it back, didn't you? You got it back."

Jack lowered his gun. "It's there. Chunks are missing, but...why?"

"Find the chunk."

Jack stopped to think for a second, then blinked. "Rose, you absolute-"

"Yeah, yeah, thank me later, why won't you."

"I wasn't thanking you." snarled Jack. "Don't you realize what you've done? Taking all that and now you give it back? I will be shocked if this ends well."

"Would some please explain what's happening?" asked Rory. "I'm confused."

"You're always confused."

"Shut up, Amy."

"Jack, you gonna let me go or what?" asked Jalen.

"Sorry. But I'm not done with you."

Jalen ignored him. "River, there's a TARDIS that needs fixing. Care to help me with that?"

"Sure thing, Stormcub."

"Oh, no. Only one person can get away with calling me that."

River smirked. "I'm hell in high heels, sweetie. I get away with everything."

"Okay, Rose. I'm still confused." said Amy. "Why is Jack still pissed at you, why does Jalen have a different face, why does no one seem to care that the Doctor is uncon- are you crying?"

Rose wiped her face. "It's a long story, and I'm not sure you'll thank me when I'm done."

"What do you mean?" asked Jenny, her throat tight.

"Because you've met them, haven't you?" said Rose, still addressing Amy. "You've met the Silence. They didn't give up, they-they came back. "

"What do you know about the Silence?" Amy was tight and controlled, but only just. Jenny could tell Rose had touched a sore spot.

"More than I wish I did." She turned to look at the sleeping Doctor. "I wish I could have forgotten it all, like him. But it's never that easy, is it?"

"Tell me what you know!"

The screech of tires broke the tension, and Martha and Sarah Jane leaped out of the Torchwood sedan.

"Oh my god." said Martha. "What happened? Doctor?"

"Martha, he's fine, just a standard sensory overload." said Jack.

"Five minutes." said Sarah Jane. "I'm gone for five minutes and the world nearly ends. Can't you lot do anything without me?"

Jack and Martha chuckled, and even Amy hid a smirk.

"C'mon, get him cleared up." she said , gesturing towards the Doctor. "Rose can tell us what happened, no need to jump at each other's throats."

"Aren't you the slightest bit weirded out by this?" asked Amy.

"Stick around the Doctor as long as I have, and it won't even make your top ten. Luke, don't just stand there, be a good boy and help out."

"Coming, mum."

"Sarah Jane." said Martha. "Always keeping our heads about us, aren't you?"

"Isn't that what I do?" she smiled.

Chapter Text

Chapter 8

    October 27, 2006  

London

The Doctor

Someone is knocking on the TARDIS door.

He hates it when they knock. Hell, he hates that they're there at all. It's a bloody police box, they're not supposed to exist anymore, shouldn't people be leaving it alone?

"You'e irritable today." says Rose. She doesn't even open her eyes, just slipping herself deeper into his arms.

"I haven't even said anything yet."

"I can tell."

He smirks, but deeply he's disturbed. He came so close to losing her this time. So close. And as much as he would like to let it go, the devil's words won't leave his mind.

the valiant child,who will die in battle so very soon...

It won't happen. Not here, not her. He won't let it.

The knocking. It's happening again. Won't they just go away?

"Rose?"

She bolts up from beside him. "Shit. Doctor, that's my mum. Where's my shirt?"

"Great. Last thing I needed, Jackie in the TARDIS."

"Stop whining and help me find it."

He tosses it at her head and reaches for his own.

"Coming, mum!" she calls. Then she turns to look at him. "Stop acting so worried about me." she says.

He can't help being worried, though.

//January 12,2007//

"Rose?"

"Go away."

She's still in bed, burying her face in the pillows even though it's nearly noon.

"Are you ok?" he asks.

"No, most definitely not ok."

He sighs, leaning into the doorframe. "Just tell me what's wrong."

"I feel like crap. Worse, actually."

"Do you want me to just-"

"Please."

He closes the door and lets her be, but he's more worried than he lets on. This is isn't like her, to be this irritable. She must be really sick.

He has a couple errands to run, now that they've landed back in Rose's time, so he pulls up the TARDIS med center on the screen before he leaves. If she's feeling well enough, she can get up and find out what she's picked up. Out of the thirty or so planets they've been to in the past three months, it could be anything, really.

When he comes back an hour or so later, she isn't there. He runs through all the rooms in TARDIS, but she's just gone. He can't think of where.

The TARDIS doesn't have any alerts going off, so he figures she left on her own, probably to say hello to her mum. Good for her, she can do that on her own. He doesn't feel like getting anywhere near Jackie today.

He dances around the console to check the med program, and his blood runs cold.

No.

No.

Rose is pregnant?

This can't be happening. A thousand broken laws are dancing through his head, a thousand new enemies that he's not even prepared for. He can't afford to be startled, or even happy. There are reasons this isn't supposed to happen, and now-and now-

The door opens, and Rose closes it quietly behind her. She's obviously been crying.

"Rose." His voice is hollow. God, he's scared. He's scared for her, and he can't tell her why.

She pushes her hair out of her face. "You-you saw-the"

"I know." He hugs her, trying to mask his fear. "It's gonna be alright, ok? I won't let anything happen to you."

He's trying to convince himself more than her, because right now, he's no longer sure he can protect her. But he can't let her see that.

She nuzzles her face into his shoulder.

"Is Jackie going to kill me now?" he asks, stumbling for something to say.

"Already talked to her. She-she'll let you live. For now."

He fakes a smile, kissing her forehead. "We'll be alright." he whispers. "We're always alright."

Liar.

/

April 23, 2007.

"You ever read Alice in Wonderland?"

Rose is balanced on the railing, watching him dance as he asks the question.

"Yeah, used to be one of my favorites. Why?"

"Well, Alice didn't fall down a rabbit hole. "

She takes a moment to process what he said. "Wait-are you saying-"

He nods. "Yeah."

"You're joking. We're going to Wonderland?"

"Yeah. You're going to need to change, though- dress is on your bed."

He waits until he's certain she's out of the room, then pulls up his tracker. Daleks, Cybermen, Sontorans, practically everything else that's hated him, doesn't matter if it's extinct or not - not a trace. They haven't found them, not yet. Maybe they won't.

He can only pray they won't.

Rose dances back into the room, looking gorgeous as usual. The blue dress is just tight enough to show off her tiny baby bump. He can't help but smile a bit. He remembers being a dad, before. And maybe this is unexpected and worrisome and scary, but it's also a little bit exciting.

He pulls a lever on the TARDIS, and off they go, soaring through all time and space. He tries to land gently(and fails miserably) and they throw open the doors to a field of purple mushrooms the size of trees.

"Welcome to Wonderland!" he announces. "Well, actually, it's Zephrys 14, but-"

"Shut up and get out here!" laughs Rose. He grins maniacally and closes the TARDIS door. Zephrys 14 is incredibly far out in the universe, nearly unreachable. He can let some of his worry go for a while.

"So why have you been going as John Smith for a while?" asks Rose.

"Well-"

"Though I didn't notice, did you?"

"Fancied a change."

"Oh, come on. You throw that Doctor title around like it's a kinghood or somethin'."

There's a screech overhead, and Rose looks around frantically. "What was that?"

"Jabberwocky."

"Woah."

She's forgotten the subject, and he's glad. The less she knows, the better.

They wander into town, and Rose is practically squealing with joy as he points out the Red Queen parading through the streets.

"Does she-does she really-"

"Cut off people's heads? Yeah, it's a habit."

A card-courier walks up to them. "Excuse me, sir. You and your lady are cordially to the Queen's gala tonight, at the Red Palace."

He turns to Rose. "Whaddya say? Fancy a dance?"

"We'd love to, of course." she tells the courier.

"The Queen shall see you at eight o'clock sharp!" The courier walks away, and Rose turns to face him. "You think she'll chop off our heads if we're late?" she asks.

He chuckles, and holds out his hand for her to take.

They wander through the city for a while, then head over to the palace as the sun starts to set.  The crowd is starting to gather outside the palace, and the courier waves them inside. It's like a fairytale. Better, actually.

Rose wanders off,and he cuts through the crowd to find her until he spots her walking toward a man in a Time Agent uniform. Great. Just what he needed, a time agent messing around.

The man turns to introduce himself to Rose, and the Doctor freezes.

It's Jack.

For a moment he wonders how the hell he got off Satellite Five, and what he's doing here, back with the Time Agency, no less.

It takes a second, but the realization hits him hard. This is Jack from a couple years before they first met in 1944 London, back when he still worked for the Time Agency. Rose doesn't know this, she thinks she's going to talk to-

"Rose!" He slides up behind her.

"What?"

Jack reaches out a hand to him. "Captain Jack Harkness, and you are?"

"Oh, sorry, Jack, I knew you wouldn't recognize him-"

He cuts her off and pulls her away. "Rose," he hisses, "this is Jack from before we knew him. You can't talk to him, you'll mess up the timeline-"

"I'm sorry, do I know you two? 'Cause I'm getting that feeling." says Jack.

"Doctor, he's a time traveler.Just swear him to secrecy and he'll understand!" whispers Rose.

"Fine." he sighs.

"Sorry, Jack," says Rose. "I thought this version of you had run into us before. We're time travelers, you'll meet us in your future."

Jack nods. "Don't worry, it happens. Standard 'forget I ever spoke to you', right?"

"Yeah, of course. Are you still working for the Time Agency?"

"I'm on duty, my fair lady. Sort of. Unofficial night off. "

Rose laughs.

The Doctor hears the clank of footsteps on the other side of the room. That's odd. Last he remembered, footsteps don't clank.

He traces the source of the sound to a dark purple- dammit.

It's a Sontoran.

He grabs Rose's hand. "We need to go."

"Why?" she asks.

It's too late. The Sontoran has already spotted them. He doesn't know if they are its target, but they're certainly on the list.

It checks its data pack as it stares at them, then pulls his comm unit. Shit. It's not the only one.

He pulls her along with him, trying to make for the exit as discretely as he can. Jack, noticing something's up, opens his mouth to say something, but is cut off by the sharp whine of a charging lasergun.

The wall shatters above their heads. "Run!" he shouts. The ballroom erupts into commotion as they make for the door. There are three Sontorans now, and presumably more on the way. They shove through the door and into the cold night air. He pulls his sonic from his jacket and starts calling the TARDIS to them. If he can only buy them a few more seconds...

"This way!" shouts Rose, and they fly down an alleyway. A fence appears out of nowhere, threatening to scissor him in half, the speed he's going, but it's gone nearly the instant he sees it in a flash of blue. He whirls around and sees Rose brandishing a squareness gun.

He hadn't even realized Jack had followed them. Shit, why had Jack followed them?

"Doctor, there's still-"

She's cut off by the loud, grating whine of the TARDIS materializing. As soon as it's full, he unlocks the doors and they fall inside. He doesn't waste a second, setting it for a nice, random point in space and sending her shooting off again.

"It's bigger...on the inside."

He turns around. Jack's still here.

No no no no no.

"Why is Jack here?" he asks. "No, never mind, we'll drop you straight at the time agency-"

"Doctor, who were they?" asks Rose.

"Sontorans." He keeps hitting buttons and checking his tracking system.

Rose bites her lip in obvious irritation.  "Doctor, what aren't you telling me?"

He looks up at her. "What do you mean?"

"You stopped using your name, you're always playing with that stupid computer doing who-knows-what, you insist we leave places at the oddest moments, we get attacked by aliens that obviously came a long way to find us, and it seems everywhere we've gone is as far away from known space as you can possibly get. I'm not stupid, I know something is going on. So why aren't you telling me?"

He looks at her, his heart heavy. He can't hide this from her anymore.

"Jack, you need to leave." he says.

Rose buries her face in her hands and shakes her head slightly. "Door on the right, three doors down." she says.

"No-he's not staying-"

She waits until she sees Jack leave, then turns to face him. "What is going on?"

"We're being pursued." he says.

"What do they- the Sontorans- want with you? Why couldn't you tell me."

"It's not me they're after. And it's not just Sontorans."

"What, they want the TARDIS? I'm not surprised, she's amazing."

"No, Rose, it's you."

She is really and truly stunned. "Me?"

He nods. "Well, you and the baby. It's a two-for-one deal."

"Why?"

"Rose," he says, "Human- Time Lord hybrids aren't supposed to exist. There are laws against it, actually. Or there were, before my people died. Humans are ingenious, they have a different kind of intelligence that nearly no other species has, the intelligence that lets them survive until the end of the universe. Pair that with the mental capability of a Time Lord, and you've got the perfect weapon."

"A weapon." she echoes. "That's why we're being followed."

"All these species- Cybermen, Sontarons, Siliurians, Daleks, the Nestene, Slitheen, Graske- basically everything I've ever given reason to hate me, they think they're number's come up. They've finally got their chance to beat me, and what better way to do it then with the Doctor's own son?"

She bites her lip, and even the gesture is so Rose, he still can't tell what she's thinking. "You said they wanted me too?"

"Well, I don't know if you've noticed, but you're not exactly human anymore."

"What do you mean, of course I'm human!"

"Maybe you used to be, but you're only about 3/4 human now. It took me a while to realize it, but when you absorbed the Time Vortex-"

"I thought you got rid of that!"

"I did. But when you take in something that powerful, no matter how short you hold on to it, it changes you. Not enough for you to notice, but I did."

"How exactly did it change me, then?"

"I'm not entirely sure. It's locked up, whatever it gave you, inside your head. I did that when I absorbed it from you. But with the right tools, someone could unlock it. You could be every bit as big of a weapon."

She stares at him, speechless. Rose is never speechless. He hugs her, trying his best to quiet her unspoken worries. He knows her like that, that he knows exactly what she's thinking.

"Don't worry." he whispers. "They won't find us. I won't let them take either of you from me."

"You're not getting rid of me now."

Rose twists out of his arms. "Jack! I told you to leave!"

"And I don't listen. Rose, it's obvious that A) we'll know each other very well in my future, and B) you both need someone who's very experienced in hiding. I'm staying."

Rose smiles and hugs Jack. "Thank you."

June 6, 2007

"-and we're running from the mammoth, but then Allen accidentally sends us to the 1920's, and the mammoth is still following us-"

Rose tilts her head back and laughs at Jack's outrageous story. They've stopped at a tiny little cafe on New Earth; he's confident enough of their safety that they can risk a stop here. Although he won't admit it, Jack's help has been indispensable.

Jack gets up to go to the restroom, and he turns to talk to Rose. "You realize we're changing our past, dragging him along."

"Actually, I've thought about that." says Rose. "When we first met him, he said he was missing two years of his memories. Maybe while he's with us, he gets mindwiped."

He hadn't thought of that. "I guess that's entirely possible."

Jack comes back and sits down. "Huh." he says. "Did you guys write this?"

"Write what?" says Rose. Jack hands her his napkin. She glances at it for a moment, then hands it to the Doctor. "Doctor?"  She sounds worried.

It's Rose's handwriting, alright. There's an alien in the cafe, watching us. it says. We forget it as soon as we look away. Leave now.

He sets it back on the table. "Jack, how long where you in there?"

"Ages, why?"

Rose looks at him. "I thought it was only a few seconds."

"It's here." He gets up from the table and starts digging in his pockets.

"Doctor, what is it?" asks Rose.

"I have no idea. Never heard of something that can make you forget it's there. Maybe I've seen it, but I wouldn't remember, would I?"

He pulls something out of his pocket.

"What's that?" asks Jack.

"Infrared tracking device. If it was here, it'll remember, even if we don't."

Jack looks impressed, and the Doctor grins cockily.

"The Doctor, paranoid idiot, nice to meet you." he says. "Look, there. Something humanoid was at our table about ten minutes ago, then it leaves. So where is it now?"

"And how are we going to tell if we've seen it? We can't keep writing on napkins." says Jack.

Rose digs in her jacket and pulls out a pair of pens.

"How many of those do you have on you?" asks the Doctor.

"Shut up." she says sarcastically. "If we see it, we can mark our arms. That way we'll always know."

"Brilliant." says Jack.

"It's weird." says the Doctor. "It's like it's right behind-"

"Doctor!"

There are three lines on Rose's wrist.

"It's close."

He blinks, then stops. "Rose," he says, "wasn't this cafe full?"

"It was ten seconds ago."

He checks his own wrist. Three marks, and Rose is up to five. Jack is holding another napkin.

"Jack-"

"The Silence are gone." he reads. "I think that's your handwriting, Doctor."

"So you do know what they are."

"Maybe I do, or maybe I asked. We should go."

"Agreed."

Once they're safely back in the TARDIS and five galaxies away, he checks the TARDIS databanks for any mention of the Silence. Nothing. He's probably never run into them before.

It still makes him nervous, though. A creature that can make you forget you've seen it?

Nothing like that follows you without a purpose.

July 21, 2007

This is definitely one of the better planets she's been on.

Barresk is really a beautiful place, and she's shocked the Doctor's never been here before. He describes it to Rose as if India was a planet, but even that doesn't quite do it justice. It's nice and quiet, tucked away in a corner of the Andromeda galaxy, hardly heard of. The perfect recipe for what probably will be one of their last trips for a while.

They left Jack behind about two weeks ago, back at the Time Agency on his own request and a 'promise to return if you ever need me'. Rose's mindwipe never happened, but her memories haven't changed, so she knows he keeps his mouth shut.

A little girl runs out of the street and tugs on the edge of Rose's tangerine shirt. She reaches out with a tiny hand closed around a purple iris. "A flower for you," she says, "and good luck on your little boy."

"Thank you." she laughs. "Doctor!"

He turns around from where he's walked ahead.

"The people of this world-"

"Slightly psychic, yeah."

She skips up to take his hand. "Nice flower. " he says. "What'd the kid say?"

"Nothing." she smiles.

He takes off in another direction, dragging her along. Something tingles on her arm, and she lets go and stops for a second. There are two marks on her wrist.

"Doctor?"

She's lost sight of him in the crowd. He can't have gone far, though. He never does.

There's an alleyway off to her left that looks like him. Dark, weird, and crazy. He probably went that way.

Her arm tingles again. She's up to six lines.

Better find him fast.

The Doctor stops as soon as he realizes Rose let go of his hand, but he loses sight of her almost immeaditly.

Of course she runs off. He has yet to find a companion that he's the whole 'don't wander off' thing. Oh well. Better go chasing after her then.

He hears a faint scream coming from one of the alleyways, and suddenly he's on high alert. Something on his arm feels wrong.

"Rose!"

Where is she?

He finds the alleyway, but he doesn't see her. His arm tingles again, and he checks it. Sixteen marks. Sixteen.

There are footprints in the dirt around him now. Sontoran and Cyberman, along with something he can't identify. And crushed underneath one of them is the purple iris Rose was wearing in her hair only moments earlier.

No.

No.

He's failed.

She's gone.

    August 23, 2007  

"I want to tell you everything will be alright, that I'll always be able to protect you, Jalen. But I can't lie to you. I'm not that kind of mother. I don't really know what kind of mother I am, honestly. I will tell you this. We are not trapped here. Your father is coming for us, and God help these poor people when he does."

"That's enough, hand him over."

"Because then we won't have to be brave, Jalen. They'll have to be brave. They'll be the ones who need protecting." The last jab is aimed directly at the woman standing behind her waiting to take her son. Three days old and they're already doing who-knows-what to him. She wants to rip them all apart slowly, starting with this Madam Kovorian. Probably could, too, if they would release the chokehold they have on her brain.

She can remember what they look like now, the Silence. They're stuck in her brain, along with all the things they've done to her. She can feel the remnants of the Bad Wolf boiling under her skin, just out of reach, only accessible when they choose to let her have it.

She's never felt this helpless in her life.

She's alone now, the only one in the white-washed room. They aren't watching anymore and she buries her face in her hands, wiping away the few tears she can afford. She has always been the brave one in her family. She can't stop now.

Doctor, try to hear me. she wills, trying to tap into the power under her skin, Demon's Run, that's what this place is called. I know it shouldn't be that hard to find.

I'm waiting.


****

It's been years since he's seen the Doctor.

Davrik was barely a man  then, and the Doctor was weird on every level. That odd blue box, and his blonde hair and celery for an accessory for some impossible reason. He'd never expected that this strange man would save his wife's life when no one else could. She's gone now, but he still doesn't regret meeting him.

"How can I repay you?" he had asked.

"Oh, nothing now." he had said. "But in a few years, I'll come back. I may not look the same, but if I ever need help, I'll come back. Just look for the box."

It's sitting outside his office, now.

He'd never expected the Doctor to need his help.

He guesses he was wrong.


*****

The noise is like a train screeching to a halt.

Aris would have yelled at anyone else disturbing him, but he knows this noise. He wondered if he'd ever see the man in the velvet coat again.

He supposes he owes him this. The Doctor is the only reason his kingdom is at peace. If he needs his help, Aris will respond.

He grabs his sword off the wall and goes to open the door of the blue box.


*******

"I say the rumors are nuts."

Rissa pops another nut, watching her best friend Irani rave. "I thought we came here to ogle at Time Agents, not discuss rumors."

"The rumors are all that's happening, sis. Have you even heard half of them,though? I mean, the Silurian prince. Why would the Silurian prince just up and disappear?"

"Would you go, if they were true?"

Irani stops. "What?"

"If the box showed up on your doorstep, would you go?"

"Of course! A real adventure- imagine that!"

There's a loud commotion three tables over, and Rissa looks up. "Ok, screw the fact that all the Agents are studs." she says. "I want to know that one's betting secrets."

"How much has he made?"

"At least a hundred credits in the last half hour."

"Wow. Do you know his name?"

"Jack Harkness?"

"Time Agents." nods Irani approvingly. "Even their names scream stud."

A wind picks up, bouncing Rissa's ginger curls all across her face.

"Since when are their winds in bars?" she says.

A loud stuck-brake sound echoes, and a deep blue police box materializes.

Irani drops her nuts. "Oh my god."

The man three tables over abruptly leaves his card game and grabs  his jacket off the back of the chair. Irani makes to do the same thing. "Where are you going?" asks Rissa.

"I told you." says Irani. "Adventure. You coming?"

The door to the police box swings open, and Rissa and Irani pop in behind the man.

Irani's jaw drops. "It's bigger...on the inside."

A man looks from the center console that he's circling like a hawk. "Jack, who are they?"
"Must have followed me inside."
"Let us stay!" begs Rissa. "We can help you!"
"Jack?":
"I know them, they're decent, if a little hyperactive. Let's give them a chance."
The man stares them down, then nods approvingly.
"Alright."
Suddenly he recoils and pulls a sheet of paperout of his breast pocket. "What is it?" asks Jack.

"Message on the psychic paper." He reads it aloud. " Demon's Run Asteroid. I'm waiting."

"Alright, Jack, as much as I hate to say it, you're in charge of the second distraction. I don't care how you do it, just get Irani inside the computer room so she can take out the comms. And please try to keep the nakedness to a minimum, okay?"

"I'm not making any promises."

"Sileena, Davrik-"

"It's all already in place."

He had picked up Sileena straight after the little stragglers. Sileena was a cat-nun turned warrior, one of the best in the galaxy with a surprising knowledge of pyrotechnics. They had been assigned to take care of the massive Cyberlegion shielding the asteroid.

"Alright, then, Aris."

"My warriors are ready to go."

"Rissa?"

The red-haired girl pulled up a holomap on her communicator. "The Headless Monks were a bit of a surprise, but we can handle them. Should work to our advantage, actually."

"Brilliant! Jack, you were right, she is handy to have around."

"Actually, Doctor, can I speak to you for a second? Alone?"

"Sure, Jack."

They walk around to the back of the TARDIS.

"Doctor, don't you think this all seems a bit too... easy?"

"What do you mean?"

"I've run rescue missions before. Nothing is ever this clean-cut. Take out the defense and comms and get in? It neverworks that way. /Ever./ I think we're walking into a trap."

"Jack, I agree with you, but what other choice do we have?"

"Doctor, this is Sileena. All systems set to blow."

The voice crackled with static into the TARDIS.

"Light her up." he ordered.

Normally, he didnt like fighting. Didn't like killing, didn't like violence. He was a good man now, and he tried to keep that image.

But the Silence and their allies had crossed a line. Fighting him- that was one thing. Trying to use the people he loved- another thing altogether. It was time to for this good man to enter the fray himself, to lower himself to their level.

It was time for the good man to go to war.

The TARDIS shakes with the shockwave of the exploding legion, the only remaining ship being the one Davrik and Sileena had stationed themselves on. He flips the levers on the TARDIS, navigating through the wreckage.

Making a statement is done with. They know he is here, now. Hopefully the unusual entrance has left them a little unsettled.

He lands her quietly, and waits. Waits for the lights to go down, Rissa standing at his arm, Jack fixing his Headless Monk so they look at least passable.

The darkness hits- a little trick of Irani's, and he's quite impressed. Hacking into anyone's systems from the distance she managed is far from easy. It's just the lights, but that's all he needs.

He slips into the line of Headless Monks filing forward, barely making the lights-on. There's a commotion over the comm system, which he assumes is Jack's distraction. He can't tell what's going on from the noise, but he can tell it'll be a hell of a story later.

If there is a later.

In the commotion, it's not hard to get to where he needs to go- no one questions a Headless Monk, especially not during a 'crisis'.

According to Rissa's map, the room is pretty well buried. Screw that- he finds shortcuts. He doesn't have time to dig in corridors.

It's plain and white, just like the rest of the doors. Inconspicuous. Good. His poking around here shouldn't seem too suspicious.

He pulls out his screwdriver and starts working the lock.

"Who's there?" asks someone inside the room. He's too busy to answer.

"I'm warning you!"

It comes easy, maybe a bit too easy, and he swings the door open.

She drops her makeshift weapon.

"You came."

"Rose Tyler, when have I ever let you down?"

She rushes into his arms, the tears she's been holding back for the past month wetting his jacket.

"They took him." she whispers. "They took our son, and I don't know-"

"It's alright, we'll find him." He pulls Jack's vortex manipulator out of his pocket. He honestly doesn't know if Jack knows if he has it- he's more of the ask-for-forgiveness than ask-for permission type anyways.

"What's that?" asks Rose as he straps it around her wrist.

"Just a precaution."

I'm not losing you again, valiant one. You're not going to die here if I can help it.

He grabs her head and kisses her on the forehead. "I-I love you."

He's never said that to her before. He doesn't throw it around- to him, those three words have more power than anything, more than even him. But now he realizes why they are so powerful- it's the only possible thing he can say that will begin to describe the incredible range of emotions he feels right now.

She grabs his wrist as he tries to let go of her.

"I know."

He takes her hand and they race out the door. "Jack, how's it going up there?" he calls over the comm.

"Everything as planned. Aris came through, too. We've got the place secured. You are not gonna believe-"

"Give me the comm." orders Rose.

"Is that the voice of angel I hear?" says Jack.

He hands it over.

"Jack, have you tracked down Madam Kovorian yet?"

"You know, people usually say thank you after they've been rescued."

"Jack." snaps Rose.

"Is that the one who runs this place? Eye-patch lady?"

"Yes."

"No, we haven't found her yet. She's here, though. No ship's left."

Rose hands the comm back to the Doctor. "He'll be with her." she says.

"We got a hit." says Jack over the comm.

"Where?"

"Corridor about a half-mile from you. She's heading for a ship."

"See if you can cut her off." He grabs Rose's hand. "Jack's tracked her down. Let's go."

They're nearly to the corridor when the ground shudders under their like a bear waking from its sleep.

"Jack!"

"I don't know, that wasn't me."

"Dammit!" hisses Rose. "I should have known. She's trying to collapse the base."

"I'm not giving up." snarls the Doctor. A flash of white catches his eye. Rose takes off after it, while he runs a foot behind talking to Jack.

"Jack?"

"It looks like it's just your section, the rest of this place is safe. Doctor, you need to get out-"

"Not yet. Not until I've got my entire family back."

"Be careful."

He ignores Jack.

"There!" cries out Rose. A dark-haired woman is just a few feet ahead, a white transport container hanging from one hand. They're just feet from the last ship out. He pulls his sonic, trying to disable the controls, but he's too far away to have any effect.

The corridor twists like a piece of string, and time seems to stop. Rose, just behind him, trips and shields her head with her arms as the roof collapses above her. At the same instant, Madam Kovorian turns to face him, a dark grin on her face. Choose, she seems to say.

Not today.

He uses his sonic to activate the Vortex Manipulator on Rose's wrist. She vanishes in a flash of blue light, and he cuts off the controls for the ship dock in the same motion.

He's won.

Time Lord Victorious.

*******

The world shimmers away from her, and Rose is in her living room.

Oh, she's going to kill that man.

She knows he was just saving her life, but the 'let's get rid of Rose to keep her safe' thing is getting very old very fast.

"Rose?"

"Mum." Her voice sticks in her throat. She can't think of the last time she saw her mother. It's been months. She wonders if the Doctor told her about her being kidnapped. It's fifty-fifty.

Jackie helps her to her feet. "Oh my god, you're ok. Where's the Doctor?"

"He's- he's right behind me, he'll be here any minute."

Or at least she hopes so.

Jackie hugs her daughter. "I was so scared I was gonna lose you."

"I know, mum."

******

He can't believe how perfect he is.

Or how painful.

Everything his son does reminds him of his other children, the ones who died. He can see them in the back of his mind as he watches him sleep.

This one is not going to die.

This one he will keep safe.

Rose is going to kill him when he gets back. It doesn't matter, he did what he had to do.

He reaches out a finger to the tiny hand, and curls around it instinctively. Jalen. He wonders where Rose came up with the name. He likes it.

He's still got his old cradle in TARDIS, somewhere, one of the few bits of his past he's managed to salvage. When he heads home, he can dig it out. It'll be perfect.

"Doctor, stop being adorable and come look at this."

"What? Oh, sorry, Jack. What am I looking at?"

"Genetic records for Rose and Jalen."

He puts his glasses on. "Oh."

"Oh."

"Which one-"

"Not Jalen's, that's what I expected."

"Really?"

"No, look at Rose. How much meddling have they been doing with her?"

"I'm not sure how much of that is interference and how much was already there, the records are pretty deeply locked. What does it mean?"

"Well," he adjusts his glasses, "it's like they tried to lock it up, but she beat through it with sheer willpower. Probably how she managed to get the message to me on the psychic paper. Good old Rose."

"What does it mean for her?"

"Mild psychic abilities, nothing major, as far as I can tell. Extended lifespan and decrease rate of aging, but she won't live forever. Just longer than average."

"You gonna tell her this?"

"Think of what she'd do to me if I didn't."

******

She'd been waiting far too long.

Her coffee was cold and stale, and she was worried. Her mother, despite all her doting, couldn't break that. No one could.

She could see the clock over the stove ticking away, every second an eternity. 5:36 PM. How long has she been waiting?

A thought suddenly hits her. "Mum," she calls,"what time did I get here?"

"About noon, why?"

"Always wait five and a half hours." she whispers to herself.

She bolts out of the chair and down the stairs of her apartment. The instant she throws open the lobby doors, the old, familiar grating sound meets her ears. That beautiful idiot.

The last wind of the landing blows her hair back, and she ignores the leaves fluttering her face from the alleyway. The blue door creaks open, and the Doctor carefully closes it behind him, a white bundle wrapped in one arm.

"Hello."

She runs up to him, kissing him first. "I'm gonna kill you." she smiles.

"Figured as much."

She takes her son from him. She's crying, but it's alright. They're happy tears.

The Doctor opens the TARDIS back up, and dances inside. "You'll never believe what I found!" he calls.

She follows him inside, rocking the baby gently in her arms. The TARDIS hums awake, a soft melody in the dull day. The Doctor emerges from the back, a deep blue cradle in his arms.

"Used to be mine, don't know why I held on to it." he says. "The TARDIS already knows it has a new owner, though. Look!"

"That just looks like a bunch of circles."

"It's Gallifreyan, but that's irrelevant. Used to have my name on it, but the TARDIS changed it. Now it's got his."

She sets Jalen down in it, and he stirs for a moment, whining softly.

"Shh," she whispers.

"Permission to hug, Doctor?"

Rose whirls around. "Jack! You're still here?"

"Go ahead, Jack."

"He can't get rid of me."

"Alright, Jack, that's enough. Go bother Jackie or something, Rose and I need to talk."

Jack struts out of the TARDIS, and Rose turns to face the Doctor. "You're leaving again, aren't you?"

"I don't want to, but I have to."

"There are still too many of the Silence Alliance who survived. If we're going to keep Jalen quiet, we need to track them down. Besides, we can't exactly have a two-week-old in the TARDIS."

"I know- I just thought you would stay with me for a while."

"I promise I'll drop in as much as I can."

"Just hold up to that, kay?"

"Of course."

August 20, 2008

"Happy birthday, sweetheart."

She kisses Jalen's forehead as his eyelids flutter closed. It's so quiet here, once he's asleep. Her mother's been asleep for hours- she doesn't know how Jackie puts up with it, having her grandson in the house. Must be...interesting, to say the least. If she was in her mum's place, she'd say it was somewhere between annoying and delightful.

"Late night?"

She turns around with a smile. "Doctor!"

"How long have I been out?"

"'bout two weeks. Not bad, considering."

There's a new scar on his cheek, one he's obviously been trying to cover up.

"What happened?" she asks.

"Not important. Wanna go somewhere?"

"You mean, in the TARDIS?"

"Yeah."

"I thought you had a mission and all that?"

"Oh, I'm done now, everything's good. Tell you what, the Olympics are in London in 2012. We could take Jalen, enjoy ourselves for a bit. Put Jack on babysitting duty if nesecary."

"Is that a good idea?"

"Probably not. Come on!"

Everything is right, and as it should be.

For now.

December 25, 2008

"It's weird, not spending Christmas at home."

"Do you mind?"

"No."

She looks so gorgeous, in the starlight.

"What's so special about Eridos 3, anyways?"

"The sun here only rises once a year, on Christmas Day. They say it's the most beautiful thing this side of the universe."

"Can't wait to see it."

"Oh, you're gonna love it."

"So how stupid do you think leaving Jalen with Jack was?"

"Probably immensely. We'll find out how much damage has been done when we get back."

"Rose?"

"Yes?"

"I've been thinking. Jack's been with us for nearly two years now, and still no mystical mindwipe."

"And-?"

"What if we're the ones who do it?"

"You mean we end up taking his memories?"

"Yeah."

She's quiet for a moment. "I guess if it has to happen, we can do it."

There's a lump in his throat as thick as the box in his pocket. Why is he so nervous? He's done this before, twice actually.

But it's because he's done it before that he feels guitly, that even though he's nothing like the man he was then. It's because they're gone that it's hard, like he can feel the ghosts of his family sitting on his shoulder. There's no Romana to plan this out with, no Susan to tell him he's being a idiot and just get on with it already, you were obviously meant to be,no friends to giggle about it excitedly. No family left to guide him, and they are sitting there,the ghosts he knew, weighing his soul like a sack of rocks.

"Doctor, are you crying?"

He wipes his face off. "It's nothing."

"Obviously not. What's wrong?"

"Let's...let's just not talk about it, ok?"

"...Alright."

The first lights of sunrise touch the sky, and Rose gasps in amazement. He hears a squeak near his feet, and a tiny mouse emerges out of it's hole, seeking the new light.

Mouse.

He had a friend he called that.

A friend who stayed with him until the very end.

"Doctor, youv'e got the Doomsday Device ready, let's do this, we can end this!"

He places his hand on the lever, then pauses.

"I can't."

She slips her tiny hands over his, staring up at his face with golden eyes. He'd always wondered how'd she'd managed to keep them throught her regenerations.

Guess he'd never know.

"Let me do it." she says. "I won't make you be responsible for this.."

"Why?"

"Because you have always been a better person than me."

"No." he says. "Together."

"Doctor, if for some reason you survive, can you do me a favor?"

"What? What makes you think I'll survive?"

"Just don't be alone. Don't ever be alone, I don't like what it does to you. Can you do that?"

"Of course, Mouse."

He smirks. Some ghosts never leave you.

Don't be alone.

Rose stares at the sky. "Isn't that the most beautiful thing you've ever seen?"

"I've seen prettier."

"Like what?"

"LIke you."

"Stop it."

Don't ever be alone.

"Rose Tyler, can I ask you a question?"

She pauses. "Sure, what?"

"Will you marry me?"

A slow stop, a gaping smile, and then:

"Of course, you beautiful idiot."

"Of course."

January 17, 2009

Doomsday

"Doctor, where have we landed now?" asks Jack.

"Look for yourself."

He swings the door open. "The Time Agency? What are we doing here?"

Rose is struggling not to cry. "Jack , I'm so, so sorry."

"What is it? What's wrong?"

She raises her hands to his head , pressing her fingertips into his temples. Jack's eyes roll back and hers glow gold, until he collpases into her arms.

"You weren't lying about being able to do that. " says the Doctor.

"Just something the Silence accidentally taught me. Oh, I never want to do that again!"

"Hey, it's alright. We've dropped him here, let's go back to Sattelite Five, unlock his memories, and off we go!"

"Home first."

"Home!" echoes Jalen. "I want to see grammaw!"

"Why?"

She flashes her ring at him. "We can't avoid mum forever, can we?"

"No, I suppose not. Wonder what's going on there?"

"I dunno , Mum said somethin" about ghosts when we were on the phone? She wasn't making much sense."

*****

He stops, the Void glasses still perched on his head. Jackie and Pete are safely through, but there's still the question of Jalen and Rose...

"I've got a transmitter hooked up, I can beam one of you straight back to the TARDIS."

"Well, it's obvious who, right?"

"Yes, of course. Just hold on tight, Rose, I don't want you, I don't know, flying off into space-"

"What makes you think that'll happen?"

The valiant child, who will die in battle so very soon...

****

She wipes her tears off her face, staring at his hologram. "Just take care of Jalen for me, ok?"

"Actually, Rose, there's enough power for me to open the rift just a little bit. Not enough to pull you back thorugh, and it'll cut our time short-"

"What are you talking about?"

There's a flash, and Jalen falls on the beach wrapped in a massive scarf, and bawling for his mother. She wraps him up in her eyes, squeezing her son so tightly that he can't move.

"I love you." she tells the Doctor.

"Rose Tyler, I-"
He's gone.

Unknown(during The Doctor's Daughter)

"Donna, I've been a father before."

She stops. "Oh. I'm sorry. How many chil-"

Typical Donna, being brash. He both loved and hated her for it.

"Four."

"What-what happened to them?"

"Three of them died."

"And the fourth?"

"He's-He's not important."

Donna intelligently decides to stop talking about it.

Journey's End

"It's still you?"

"It's still me."

"Oi, Doctor!"

He looks up to see Donna with a blonde four-year-old balanced in her arms.

"This the kid that's 'not important'?" she says.

"Papa!"

He snatches Jalen up. "Hey, kiddo! Look at you, you're huge!"

"Where was he?" asks Rose.

"Wandering outside the TARDIS. Figured he might be one of our type."

"I told him to stay with mum! Does no one listen to me?"

The world might be ending, but he's happy.

"I've heard rumors about what you have on that ship, Doctor. Open it, I'm curious."

"I can't, it's locked, my key won't open it,Donna's still inside!"

Davros purrs. "I didn't mean her. A whole legion of Silence, that's what I heard. Violence, Doctor? I'm not surprised."

"How do you know about that?" he shouts.

"Oh, when you need to get rid of the Doctor, things happen to reach your ears."

He's going to leave, just like he always has. Just like he always will.

"Wait."

The End of Time

"But why?" he asks the Ood. "Why do I have to die?"

You said it yourself, Doctor, or you will.

"What are you talking about?"

Suppose there was a man who knew a secret. A terrible, dangerous secret that must never be told. How would you erase that secret from the world? Destroy it forever, before it can be spoken?
"If there was no other way, I'd kill the man."

Exactly, Doctor.

"But I don't know such a secret! Why do I have to die?"

Yes, you do.

You just don't remember it.

Chapter Text

 

Chapter 9

Present Day(aka I've forgotten what day it's supposed to be)

Cardiff

River

She opened the TARDIS doors with a snap of her fingers and sighed

"Oh, girl, what happened to you?"

Jalen darted past her, still giddy.

"Hey, where are you going?" she said.

"Raiding the wardrobe. I can't believe I ever wore this."

"What are you, fourteen? We've got work to do."

"I've always got time to look good."

River barely suppressed a smirk. She liked version 2.

The console had taken the worst hit- the entire underwiring was charred and would have to be redone. It was going to take hours of crawling under there to fix it. Oh, this was going to kill her hair.

"Don't worry about crawling under there, I'll get it."

Jalen re-emerged from the wardrobe, and River noted that he's unknowingly grabbed one of the Doctor's outfits from a previous regeneration- his ninth, she thinks.

"You're going to need-"

"Still got my sonic." He flashed it in her face, and she realized how different it looks. It's been modified in every way possible- the casing is cracked and there's some fancy 'red setting'. Weird.

"You know, out of everyone, you seem the least freaked out about me." he said from underneath the console.

"Well, that's cause I already knew what you were."

"How?"

"The instant you stepped on the TARDIS, she was going nuts about you."

He popped his head out for a fraction of a second, puzzled.

"You can hear her too?"

" 'Course I can, Stormcub."

"...would you bloody please stop calling me that?"

"She calls you that."

"I can't stop the TARDIS, can I? She kind of does what she pleases."

The only sound for a second was the jostling of wires.

"So, River, how come you can hear her too?"

"The TARDIS is a creature of the in-between, half-sentinent, half-machine. It takes another half-ling to hear her. I'm-"

"Oh, I picked up what she was saying about you earlier. "

River paused. "The thing is, Jalen, you don't make sense."

"I can't tell you how many times I've heard that."

"Unstable as half-Time Lords are, you should have died years ago, burnt out because your body couldn't handle it, gone insane at the very least. You shouldn't even be able to regenerate. Yet here you are, living and breathing like the rest of us, sane as far as I can tell. You have a remarkable degree of control over yourself after you regenerated, more than the Doctor's ever had. How old are you, really? And don't tell me seventeen like you've been telling everyone else,I know that wasn't your first regeneration. No one is that normal after their first shot, I spent most of mine shrieking excitedly."

There's an unearthly silence before Jalen answers. "I'm thirty-four, but don't you dare tell my mother. She doesn't know I've regenerated before, and I'd like to keep it that way."

"How many times?"

"Three, all during failed landing attempts, until I finally landed on one that looked enough like me originally to pass. She thinks we only spent twelve years on that ship, and I don't have the heart to tell her how long it really was. As for the rest of it, don't ask me. I don't even make sense to myself."

"Does anyone?"

Jalen kept fiddling around for a while. "I wonder what storm we're avoiding out there?"

"Literal or figurative?"

"Both."

"I have no idea."

Chapter Text

 

Rose

Cardiff

Present Day

"Do I need to lock you two in a bedroom or what?"

Rose jumped about a foot.

"Bloody hell- Jack!"

He grinned, leaning back on his heels. "I only say what I see."

"Jack, why are you here?" sighed the Doctor impatiently.

He flipped open the cover of his vortex manipulator and pulled up a hologram of a complicated-looking group of symbols. "Caught this about an hour ago."

Rose didn't understand a bit of it, but the Doctor raised an eyebrow in surprise. "Since when have you been able to read the base code of the universe?"

"Several hundred years of boredom, I figured I might as well learn it sometime."

"How old are you, Jack?" asked Rose.

"Approaching eight hundred and eight."

Rose smirked. "He's gainin' on you, Doctor."

"Shut up. Jack, how'd you get these readings?"

"Jalen helped me rig up the Torchwood rift manipulator to-"

"You've said enough. Doctor, you're making that face."

"Yes. Well. This is not good. Very, verynot good.It's one of the cracks- no, that can't be right! Two readings?"

"Will you stop blabbering?" sighed Rose. "Jack, where is this coming from?"

"Hotel across the street."

"That old thing? But-" The Doctor trudged on.

"Oh, come on."

She grabbed both their hands and dragged them forcibly across the road.

"This is humiliating." said Jack, struggling to release himself from her iron grip.

"Shut up, willya?"

Condemned would probably be the best word to describe the old hotel. Haunted works, too. Every beam over the entrance is creaking, threatening to crash to the ground in an instant. Rose pulls a tiny torch out of her coat pocket and flicks it on, illuminating the hole that probably held the door at one point.

"Shall we?" she said. Like there's a choice, they can't just ignore this.

The Doctor plunged ahead, sonic coloring the walls green. "This way!"

The floorboards creaked under her feet, and everything feels like it's gonna collapse. The sooner they get out of here, the better.

The Doctor is still running ahead, as was always typical. "Come on!" he called. "There's something really-oh!"

He cracks open one of the doors of the rooms, and they all freeze.

"Those are Daleks." hisses Rose.

"I can see that."

"Doctor, why are we not dead yet?" asks Jack.

The Doctor steps tentatively forward and pokes one. It doesn't move.

Jack bends over to inspect one. "Doctor, these Daleks..they're old. Hundreds of years old. I don't think they're alive."

"Yes. Well. But they just came through, how can they be old! It doesn't make sense!"

Rose hears something in the back of her mind, a creak three stories up, the faint buzz of a connection. She can only hear people like this, the buzz of a psychic link, when they can talk back. The only people who can do that are her son and the Doctor, so who-?

Listen. she tells herself, setting the torch on the floor. This is important.

"I can't believe that worked! Queenie, where are we? When are we?"

"Calm yourself, Mouse. We're not staying."

"What, gonna go back and tell old high'n'mighty Rassilon about it? I know that's not your style. C'mon, what planet is this?"

"Earth. 20th century. Something's..off. I don't like this,we should go back."

"Queenie, that rip was there for a reason. I'm gonna go find out. Also find a mirror."

"Why a mirror?"

"Well, I wanna know what I look like, don't I? Considering you won't tell me."

"It'll be more fun if you're surprised."

"Christ, Queenie, just tell me."

"This place looks like an old hotel. Shouldn't be hard."

There's a brief silence.

"Bloody hell, I'm a ginger."

"Told ya you'd be surprised. Ginger and hyper, it's not a bad combination."

"Not bad? This is beyond awesome."

Another silence.

"Queenie, someone's listening to us."

"What? Who could be? It's Earth, there's no one psychic here."

"I don't know who, but I can feel them."

A pause.

"Me too."

"Rose!"

The Doctor is shouting at her now. "Sorry." she mutters.

"What is it? You were off in space."

"There's someone else here."

"What do you mean, "there's someone else here"?

"I can hear 'em."

"What?"

A metal whine and the creak of the floorboards. This is wasn't she had heard.

"EX-TER-MINATE!"

"That Dalek's not dead!"

"RUN!"

They charge down the hallway, throwing themselves into a janitor's closet and locking the door behind them. The darkness descends almost instantly.

"Shit."

"I can't see!"

"Where's my torch?"

"What? Who's sitting on me?"

"Sonic, where's my- oh, hell."

"You left it with the dead dalek,didn't you?"

"Both of ya, shut up. I've got this."

There's a soft white glow, and a tiny bit of light invaded the night, just enough for them to see each other and for Jack to scramble off the Doctor's lap.

The Doctor realized suddenly the light is emanating from a ring.

~"Be careful with that, you would not believe the lengths I had to go to get it."

She laughs. "What's so special? It's just a diamond, innet?"

"It's better, it's the heart of a dwarf star. And what do stars do?"

He reaches over and twists a tiny bump at the edge of the casing.

"They shine."

"Oh, you're kidding me."~

He stared Rose down. "You/kept it?"

"Shut up!"

"Ok, game plan." said Jack. "We go out and ambush the thing-"

"How? It's just waiting for us to come out."

"Ok, so we find a way out from here-"

"Jack, it's a janitor's closet."

"Has anyone noticed it's getting lighter?" said the Doctor.

Rose switched off the ring. She can still see the others. "You're right."

She swiveled slowly, almost dramatically, to look at the other end of the closet. A large, v-shaped crack opened slowly on the far wall, casting a shimmering gold-white band across the floor.

"Doctor, what is that?"

"We need to go."

"But the Dalek-"

"Rose, Jack, what's about to be in here is much, much worse than any Dalek. We need to go. Now."

"Is it another one of your monsters?" asked Rose. She seemed fascinated by the crack.

"This-this is different. Come on. Please."

He grabbed her hand, Jack drew his gun, and they opened the door.

No Dalek.

"Do you think it gave up?" asked Jack.

"I don't know." He shifts his eyes but seems to stay calm. "But I do know what we're going to feed that crack. And I need my sonic."

"Feed-? It's a crack." said Rose.

"No, it's a crack in time, caused by an explosion I'm not sure about yet. It needs to be shut up with some complicated space-time event. "

"Like tha dead Daleks?"

"Exactly."

He cracks the door of the first room and picks his sonic off the floor. "I should be able to activate the anti-grav, just a quick reprogram and off they go-"

"ex-ter-minate."

It's far off, probably up a level or to. Faint shouts follow it, and the Doctor stares up past the line of floating Daleks.

"There's someone up there."

"I told ya we weren't alone!"

They seemed locked in a staredown, so it's Jack's turn to grab their hands and hit the stairs.

"Rose, when you heard the others, did you hear their names?" asked the Doctor.

"They were just nicknames, I don't think-"

"Rose, this is important. Tell me!"

"Queenie. Queenie and Mouse."

"Oh no no no no no no not them not now, for Rassilon's sake, fuck this. ELMIRA! ABILENE!"

He ran off, not saying a word about the meaning of his rant. Jack just shrugged.

"EX-TER-MINATE!"

They both jumped about a mile.

"Let's not forget about the Dalek, yeah?" said Rose.

"Yeah. Where is that trash can anyways? I keep hearing it, but- DUCK!"

The wall shattered where they had been moments before.

"Your gun any good 'gainst a Dalek?"

"Doubt it."

"DOCTOR!"

There was a blur, but it was red and gold instead of tweed, and no green flash accompanied it. Instead, a red-haired woman stood behind the Dalek, watching it slowly cover in frost before stopping mid-"exterminate", smirking as she flipped the glowing blue dagger out of the Dalek, caught in midair, and stashed in in the pocket of her long robes.

"Who are you?" she asked.

"I could ask the same question." Jack replied. "Captain Jack Harkness."

"Stop it." hissed Rose.

"Never."

"I don't know who I am," replied the woman, "not yet, anyways. Still figuring it out. You can call me Mouse,although I'm not really sure if that fits anymore. Am I still short?"

"Yes, you're still short." The second woman was older, dressed more formally, with a strange curvy headpiece and the same red-and-gold robes as her companion, except these were allowed to hang freely instead of hiked up and shoved around her belt.

"Queenie." Rose whispered to herself. So these were the people she had heard.

The older woman tilted her head. "You know my name? Oh, you must have been the one who was listening. Curious, that a human could be so...different. Are you even human? No, I don't think so."

Her fingertips brushed Rose's forehead, then coiled back as if from disgust. "You aren't right." said Queenie. "Such a strange thing, you should never have lived-"

"Leave my companions alone.

"Doctor, it's about time." said Rose. "Who are they?"

"Friends of mine. Time Lords, to be exact. Time Ladies if you want to be proper. And I should have known they would come through. If monsters are going to find them, why...not...friends. Hello, Abilene. Elmira. It's been a long time."

"Doctor? I don't understand, you were just with us? And what's with using our names? This is Earth, not Gallifrey." said Mouse.

"Yes, well, Elmira, it doesn't matter. You've come to a time and place where the names of the Time Lords don't matter anymore. Not our standard ones, anyways. Secret, well, they're still a problem. Pretty big one. I'm rambling."

"Still prefer Mouse, tho." she said, a little miffed. "When could we be that it's insignificant?"

 

"I'll get to that. What's important is something else. When are you from, what point in the war are you from, what is happening."

"Battle of Benning, like the four-hundred-year-old Daleks didn't tip that off."

"Where's the crack, I need to know. Now."

Mouse pointed down the hall. "Doctor, what do you know that I don't?"

"Never mind that!"

The portal was like a mirror, almost, a sheet of reflective surface nearly six feet tall, with a twisting blue vortex visible in its surface. It hurt to look at for too long, twisting into her mind like a fiery drill.

The Doctor whipped out his sonic with a neat flick of his wrist, projecting it into the blue. Rose could read the fear on his face- fear, yes, but also a tiny sliver of hope.

The portal rippled as a pond might, and Rose saw a face reflected in its surface, a tan, sandy-haired woman that she didn't recognize. The reflection bent forward until she was falling out, caught by the Doctor, who quickly set her across the wall.

"Bet old Rassi' don't know about this one, yeah?" she said through gritted teeth.

"Doctor, who is she?" asked Rose.

"Gonna be who was she in a sec." She had the same red-and-gold robes as the other time ladies, but they were torn and blood-stained.

"Who left her alone?" snarled the Doctor. "Mouse, Abilene, which of you decided this was a good idea?"

"She said she was fine, she could handle herself-"

"Yeah, that's what you said the last time, I thought so."

"Stop trying." whispered the woman. Her blue eyes were weary and dead, no hope remaining in them. "I know who you are, I know where I am. They might not have figured it, but I can see how much older you are. You know what's going to happen to me, but you're going to fight the universe for me anyways."

"Romanaevoratalundra, you are not dyingon my watch!Jack, give me that time lock you keep in your pocket, I know you have it."

"Wow, Doctor, you're not even mad!"

He didn't speak, but instead fiddled with metal contraption before locking it over the largest, ugliest cut on Roma- oh, hell, she wasn't gonna even try to pronounce it's name. A thin membrane grew in a dome around it, and the Doctor tapped it with a satisfied grin.

"There we go! Temporary solution. The universe can go away, because I just won."

"Okay. Okay enough!" said Rose, frustrated. "What's going on here? Who is she? What did you do? And how the hell did you know she was coming out then?"

"Bit of a firecracker, that one. Aren't they always?"

"My name is Rose." The woman was getting on her nerves

already.

"Rose, Jack, this is Romanaevortralundra. Romana for short, Fred if you want to be annoying. We used to travel together, unlike the other two. She's also a Time Lady. I knew she was going to be here because I remembered."

"I knew you were different." said Romana. "How'd ya crack the timelock?"

"It wasn't me, and I'm getting to that, shut up. I remembered what was going to happen at this battle, I remembered that you two-" and he pointed at Abilene and Mouse- "told me that she was right behind you, that she was holding out behind, that you only turned your backs for a second."

"I was supposed to die, wasn't I?"

"Romana, shut up."

"No, you listen. I know what's coming next. They only turned their backs for a second and the next thing they knew I was dead. You didn't like the card the universe handed you, so you told the universe to go screw itself. I'm not complaining, it's just very...you."

"Yes. Yes, I suppose it is very me." He smiled and adjusted his bowtie. "Anyways, the important thing about that battle was that the Daleks had gone back in time to find a new poison, one from a creature that was extinct at the time. Their time machines broke before they could make the return trip, and we found the dead ones when we where exploring Benning, the planet. The dead ones managed to send out a signal before they died, and a couple of Daleks showed up to collect their prize. The poison was special in that it disabled the regeneration cycle: you get poisoned, you die. It was simple, there was no antidote at the time, but there is now. I found one a little too late. Now, Jack's time lock works as a reverse of the typical one; it freezes time inside the area. Tosh invented it, amirite?"

"...Yes."

"We can freeze the progress of the poison, go fetch the antidote, save Romana, and off we go!"

"This antidote, it's gonna require a trip in the TARDIS, yeah?" said Rose, her lips pursed in exasperation.

"Yes; and I want you to come with me."

"Boy, you're just desperate to show off that new toy of yours."

Mouse laughed. "I can see this version of you is taken."

"What-no-I'm not-"

"Yeah, he just hasn't decided by who yet." replied Rose with an eye roll.

"Oi! You two! Why can't you be arguing, you're easier to deal with when you're arguing!"

Jack quietly decided it was going to be a very long night.

Chapter Text

 

 

Chapter 12

Rose

Cardiff

Present Day

"So what was the whole thing with the names?" Rose asked Romana as soon as they had dropped back a bit. She had insisted on walking on her own, although Rose could tell she was still in pain. Romana seemed like the type to shut up and suck it up, never saying how she really was.

Romana drew herself up as if to say "I'm fine." "A Time Lord has three names." she said. "The one they're given by their parents; their off-world name, which they choose-"

"Like the Doctor?"

Romana nodded. "The third's a secret, known only to themselves and anyone they've married. It carries... power, to say the least." She paused, then added rather haughtily, "I happen to know all three."

Rose couldn't help but glare as Romana gathered her pride and strut-limped away.

"Don't mind her." said Abilene, drifting up on Rose's other side. "She's just jealous she can't get her paws on this version."

"This version?"

"What? It's not uncommon for a time lord to have multiple spouses. We change, it's in our nature. There are those like me, who are only interested in one version, and then there are people like Romana."

"What, you're one of 'is, too? Blimey, how many exes does he have?"

"He's lived a long time, I expect there must be quite a few. Don't look like that, Romana isn't getting anywhere with this one. I can tell where his affections lie."

"Really."

Abilene stared her down, eyes slightly widened in surprise. "Don't you see how he looks at you?"

At this Rose only laughed. "I've been here for a day. Granted, we have history, but there are ...others who came first. I don't really deserve him."

"I know him better than you might think." replied Abilene. "Trust me when I say he's decided. He may not have realized it, but he's decided."

"Yeah, I'll believe that when I see it."

Abilene looked as if she was about to say something else, but thought better of it.

"Already called Martha, she's waiting for us." announced Jack. "We'll take the lift down so Romana doesn't have to walk."

Abilene turned her head to face Rose one more time, the echo of an intended message buzzing into Rose's head.

Stop giving up so easily.

Stupid Time Lords and their psychic communication.

Rose gave no sign that she'd heard and stepped onto the lift. Amy was standing below with Martha, staring up as it slid into the hub. "Jalen still fixing the TARDIS, then?" she asked. "I was hoping I could yell at him for shutting off our power down here to power that fancy-"

She was cut off by the ferocious glares from both the Doctor and Rose. Mentioning him in the presence of Time Lords...it just reeked of problems. Rose couldn't even think about it; who knew which one might be reading her mind.

"So how'dya break the lock, timeboy?" asked Romana, sinking into a chair.

"Don't call me that!" snapped the Doctor rather viciously.

"What's his problem?" hissed Amy to Jack

"No clue."

"And I didn't break it. I outlived it, you're the ones who broke it."

"Didn't break it, huh? How many years, then?"

"What?"

"How many years since the end of the war for you? I can see it in your eyes, how it ended. You're shattered. So many of our kind must be dead. Still, they can't kill us all, can they?"

The Doctor was visibly struggling with himself, and Rose slipped her hand into his. It just felt like second nature.

"Fifty years." said the Doctor. "Funny, how time flies."

The door slammed on the other side of the room, and the mood visibly changed in the time ladies. Mouse made for her knife, Abilene started to roll up the sleeves of her robes like she was going somewhere, and even Romana tensed in her chair.

"What is it? What's wrong?" asked Martha.

"There is something very wrong here." Mouse kept her voice low and shifted on her feet like a warrior expecting a wild beast.

"Oi, you lot, where'd you all go? It's too quiet in here! You are not gonna believe the kind of crap that was in-"

Jalen stopped his parade through the far door, freezing up just as the others had. Mouse moved forward and stared him down, a piece of prey in the sights of a tiger.

"Fuck." whispered the Doctor, and Rose could never have agreed with him more.

The tiger pounced first. Jalen was quick on his feet, though, and Mouse's blade cut through air instead of flesh. She was bit luckier on the return, leaving a thin gash in his left arm. Jalen winced but didn't stop, trying to wrestle her knife out of her hands. Rose faintly noticed her being held back by the Doctor; Rory was doing the same thing with River, who had entered unnoticed behind Jalen.

Jalen stumbled and fell, and Mouse saw her chance, reaching back to end it. Jalen's head rose from the ground, and everyone but Mouse froze where they stood. His blue eyes were lost in a whirlpool of gold, and Mouse was thrown back by an unseen force, crumpling rather sickeningly against the wall.

Jalen got up slowly, a wicked smile accenting his features.

"Ene slik trisit skapnin." he purred, in a voice like a poison.

"What's he saying, Doctor, what's going on?" River sounded panicky and disturbed.

"Gallifryean, the TARDIS translator doesn't work on it." He paused for a second to translate. "Such a sad creature."

"Ate du tror du kian kempe moeg."

"That you think you can fight me."

"Jeig er ingen vanelig dyret. Vordan kan en krige som er nesten hennes egen?"

"You think me an ordinary beast, yet how can you hope to win against one who is nearly of your own kind?"

"Jeg eri sa mye mer enn du kunne tenke deg. Godta slutten og a tepelige krangel vil vaen."

"I am so much more than you could imagine. Stop this ..foolish game and fall."

He seemed to falter, and the Doctor stopped translating. Jalen opened his mouth to speak again, but his head twisted rather violently and he started to fall forward before catching himself. When he raised his head again, the gold has retreated to blue and the spell that had transfixed the room seemed to break.

"What the hell just happened?" he asked, and no one seemed able to answer.

"Mouse?" asked the Doctor, concerned, but still not budging from his spot.

"I'm okay! I think. Ow."

"Guys, what is it?" asked Jalen. "Why is everyone so freaked out, what'd I'd miss?"

The Doctor and Rose exchanged a glance before releasing the iron-tight grip they had on each other's hands. She was worried and scared and so many other things in between, but the Doctor's gaze promised that he would try to take care of it.

"Nothing important." he said.

There was a general consensus of letting it drop for the immediate moment going around, but Abilene wasn't letting it fly.

"Doctor, out of every law I expected you to break, this is one I never saw coming."

"Abilene, you leave him alone."

"What, after he nearly killed us all? He's too dangerous, I thought you were smarter than that!"

"Abilene."

"You think you're so lucky, so exempt from everything else in this universe just because you ran away. Look at him, he's falling apart where he stands! If you were smart, you would have killed him the day he was born, saved yourself the trouble. But nooo, you're privileged, and now he's going to burn up and kill all your friends in the process. Must be one hell of a human you're trying to satisfy by keeping him 'round."

Rose looked like she was about to kill someone, and the Doctor wasn't far behind. Abilene saw her expression and put two and two together.

"Pity, really. I liked you, Rose."

"An' you're the one who gave me the talk on not givin' up on people. Shut your mouth and leave my family alone, yeah?"

The two locked into an intense staring match for a moment before Abilene looked away. "I suppose we need to focus on saving Romana, then."

"Yeah, we do."

Abilene sighed. "Doctor, we'll talk later. Where's you're TARDIS?"

"Oh, it's about time someone asked that question." said Jalen. "Do you have any idea how long it took River and I to fix her?"

"I do hope you didn't take any side trips."

"Well, maybe just one..."

"She still parked outside?"

"Yeah! Mum, come on, you're on gonna love this, she's got nothing on what ours used to look like!"

The mass of people inside the hub started to either migrate or carry each other out towards the TARDIS, an endless stream of vagabonds headed towards their home.

Rose paused to stare up at the cold, dusky January night and the few stars that remained before the sun rose.

"What's wrong?" the Doctor asked, stopping beside her, and Rose could have laughed at the thousands of answers to his question. But she knew what he meant, and gave him the answer to what he was looking for.

"We're not coming back, are we?"

"What makes you say that, of course we're coming back! It's jut a quick jump out to Aldrius and then we're coming straight back."

Rose shook her head. "No, I don't think we are. Something feels wrong here, something's changed. This is the last time we'll be on Earth for a long while, if not forever."

"She's right." River had slipped up unnoticed on Rose's other side. "Doctor, ever since the beginning of this fiasco, my memories are failing."

"River, what do you mean?"

"I can't remember regenerating into this form. I remember my old one, but I can't remember what happened in between. There's something about Manhattan that's important, something that happened between us atop the pyramid of Giza of all things, and I don't remember anything past that. They were all things that hadn't happened to you yet, and to be honest...I'm a bit scared."

"Our futures are changing, aren't they, River?" said Rose. "The future you knew, the future Rory and Amy probably knew. We are careening toward something and-"

"It's terrifying, I know. I have the same feeling." said the Doctor. "Good old' Earth. If this really is goodbye, well..."

"It was the best, wasn't it?" said Rose.

"Always." added River.

The Doctor threw a solitary salute into the night sky, and then turned to enter the blue box one more time.

Chapter Text

 

 

 

Chapter 13

 

 

"Look at her! What happened to those god-awful coral things?"

"Martha, I liked them."

"Only cause you could ditch your crap all over them, Jack."

Rose closed the door behind her, a smile widening on her face. 

"What'dya think?" asked the Doctor.

"She's all modern, it's fantastic."

"See? See? I told you, she's the best ship in the-"

He trailed off when he spotted Abilene perched, almost owl-like, on the top floor of the TARDIS, staring down sharply.

"Alright, mate, I kept my mouth shut like you asked." hissed Rose into his ear. "Let's go hit up your friend and see what she knows about our son's little episode, shall we?"

Something about the way she just tossed the words 'our son' about makes him freeze, if only for a split second, the utter reality of it all hitting him fast. This wasn't just some terrible fever dream he was now recalling, it had really happened, and he had to handle that. 

More so, he had to handle the fact she appeared to be letting him in.

Now that he could definitely put up with.

He lept after her, taking the stairs three at a time to reach the top at the same as she did. She still beat him, and smirked as she saw the crazy stagger he was using to climb the stairs.

"Giraffe." the Doctor could have sworn he heard Rose whisper.

"Hey, old man, where we going?" Luke bellowed from back downstairs.

"Aldrius!" The Doctor leaned over the railing and shouted, then turned back to his friends. "We can duck in my room, it's the next door down. Abilene, watch it."

The older woman said nothing, but smirked knowingly. 

"Alright, what fancy Time Lord things do you know?" asked Rose. "Because I'm more than a little freaked out and worried as hell."

Abilene sighed. "It's simple, really. Full Time Lords have control over their regeneration energy to an extent; we can put limits on it, sometimes even call it to our use at will. But half-breeds, it's open-ended. They have all this energy, but they can't begin to control it. It overwhelms them, makes them do the strangest things, and they have zero control, or apparently, zero memory of the whole thing."

"That's scary as hell. What-"

"We don't. We sit back and we hope we get lucky and that he can learn to control it. Otherwise he'll overextend, kill himself, and probably take a few of us with it."

There was an aggressive knocking at the door.

The Doctor sighed and opened it. "Oh, for heaven's sake, what could it possibly be now."

Jalen popped back as the door opened, hunched with his hands in his pockets. "Luke wants to know if you're done with your powwow and if we can get this show on the road." He craned his neck to see who else was in the room. "Mum, you ok?" 

"What? Yeah, I'm fine."

You're a terrible liar.


You shut up.

"Alright, be right down."

"So what's Aldrius like?" asked Jalen on the way back down the stairs. 

"What? Oh, real nice place. Jungle world, not too easy to get killed."

"Not anymore." said River from downstairs. "Somewhere in the last millennium it got invaded by the Krillotane, turned into a desert."

"Well then go back!"

"Can't, controls are still recovering from the fire."

"Wonderful.Is there any jungle left? It's kind of important."

River hit a couple buttons. "There's a conservatory in the middle of a habitation pretty close to the equator. Will that work?"

"It should."

He turns to Rose as River sends them flying off. "Hold on!"

The TARDIS lands so hard it jars his bones, far harder than it ever has before. Several of the crowd end up in a heap on the floor.

"Sorry!" yelled River. "Stabilzers are still a little wonky."

"No kidding."

Someone opened the door, and a wall of sand washed in over them. 

"Can you get us any closer?" asked Amy between coughs.

"This is as far as this train goes." replied River.

The sand abated, revealing a dusty red landscape dotted with craggy, salmon-colored rocks. Only a few plants touched its surface, and the few that did were scraggly and as red as the sand around them. Off in the distance, a low building of black metal expands across the horizon.

"How far away do you think it is?" asked Jenny.

"Desert's playing tricks with us."

"Translation?"

"I have absolutely no idea."

Jenny said  nothing, only scowling and pulling the hood of her rain jacket over her head as to keep out the sand. The desert was actually fairly cold, a thin breeze chilling it even further.

Someway down the sand, Amy stopped.

"What is it?" asked Sarah Jane.

"Did you lot hear that?"

"Hear what?"

"I think there's something following us."

"There's nothing out here- is there?"

"Shouldn't be, this desert can't support life."

"...Okay."

The habitat turned out to be closer than they expected, a door was easily cracked, and they crept inside. 

"Find an infoport." ordered the Doctor. "We might as well see if what we need is even here."

The halls were eerily empty, and Rose wondered if anything even lived here. It seemed as if all life had long abandoned it.

They managed to get to a minor control room, and the Doctor searched the infoport for a second before letting out a soft whoop of joy.

"Alright, we'll have to bypass these hallways to get to the center courtyard. There's a decent teleport system set up, I think I can get if I- got it."

There was a buzz, and a stack of boxes in the corner of the room vanished abruptly.

"Well, someone's gonna get a surprise." smirked Martha.

The Doctor eyed Rose before stepping onto the telepad. "Geronimo."

There was a sensation like her stomach being pulled out of her chest, and then she landed hard on the concrete floor, every part of her in pain.

"No- that's not where we're supposed to be- where are Amy and Rory?"

As soon as he said that, River's phone buzzed, and she stuck them on speaker.

 "Where are you?" asked Amy. 

"Must have gotten separated, that teleport was old." said Luke from the other side of the room, rubbing his head in pain.

"Amy, Rory, don't worry, just stay put and we'll find you, kay?" said the Doctor.

"Okay..."

Jack opened his mouth to add to the mess of people talking, but the distinct sound of moving down the hall cut him off. The entire gang dove awkwardly into a niche in the wall, literally sitting on each other in order to avoid being seen. 

A pair of creatures glide by, tall, tan, worm-like things with multi-faceted eyes and a long row of ugly spikes down their bellies. One of them has an overgrown, eight-legged fly on a leash, sniffing around angrily like a bloodhound. One of the beasts stopped and barked a command at the one holding the fly-dog, and it turned down the other hall.

"I don't think it noticed us." breathed Luke.

As soon as the words have left his mouth, the beast- the Krillotane, she supposed it was- reared up like an angry stallion and revealed a circular construction of razor-sharp teeth, the spines on its belly bristling and distending forward. The pile screamed and collapsed, everyone moving in every direction trying not to be killed. Jalen ended up thrown from the top, the closest to the waiting jaws- 

And then a fire built in his veins, a pain he couldn't explain, and as his hands flew out to break his fall, the creature fell apart into ash.

"What." said Luke, oddly calm. "What even just happened."

"I do believe we are not dead." Abilene's formality is nearly hilarious.

"Jalen!" shouted River.

"I don't even know, man, it was there and then it was just-"

"Well, this is an odd development."

"Yer kiddin', right?" Jack's gritted his teeth tight. "That was damn freaky."

"Abilene?" hissed Rose. 

"He- he used it, he controlled it, all that energy, how did he- he makes no sense!"

"Think he could do it again?"

"Doubt it. One time, we're-all-about-to-die, adrenaline fueled thing."

"Kay."

"Hey Doctor, what would it have done to us?" asked Jenny.

"It probably can fire those spikes like projectiles. It would have stabbed us to death, and then eaten us."

"That's good to know, thanks." Elmira muttered sarcastically.

"Could everyone keep it down? There's probably more." hissed Martha.

"Yeah, sorry."

The Doctor scrambled to his feet and peeked down the hallway. "I think were we need to go is right down...there."

"One last door, eh?" joked Rose. 

She can hear Jalen and River talking behind her.

"That- that was actually pretty impressive."

"I actually have no idea what the hell happened."

"It was still-"

Rose elbowed the Doctor aggressively, as if to say, 'look!' He didn't respond, and she stopped herself. How was she supposed to expect him to react? He was still attached to River anyways. Probably always would be. What a fool she was to think it would be otherwise.

The Doctor tapped the edge of the next door, like he was looking for a response, then motioned to the rest of them the "all-clear". Rose barged ahead and went first, the room seemingly empty, her Doctor an inch behind. 

Out of the corner of the Doctor's eye, a sandy coil moved in for the kill.

"GET DOWN!" he screamed.

The breath slammed from his lungs as the concrete floor soared up to meet him. Out of the corner of his eye there was a sharp gold flash, and a dusting of warm gray ash fell on the Doctor's shoulders. Thank heavens for Jalen and his weird quirks.

"Everyone all right?" he called out. Bloody Krillotane....

"Yeah!"

"Ow."

"Breathing."

The cries of assent continued throughout the room, but it was suddenly too obvious that a voice was missing.

"Rose?" 

The Doctor lifted his head off the floor to see her standing a few feet in front of him, like she hadn't moved at all. Had she gotten back up already?

He slipped to his feet. "Rose? You okay?"

She stared downward, breath caught fast, at the large spike protruding from her chest, a dark red circle spreading fast on her shirt. Her hand trembled, like it was trying to cover a wound, then she fell backwards fast. The Doctor lunged forward to catch her as she fell, landing in his arms.

"ROSE!"

He fumbled about, not sure what to do with his hands, not sure how he could help. Oh god, there was so much blood...

"Martha! Martha, help!"

Everything has become a blur, and he felt his friend kneel by his side and check her medscanner, but it is the back of his mind, irrelevant.

"She's gonna be okay, right?" he heard Jalen say, but it's distant, as if in a dream.

 Martha replied with a solitary shake of her head. "There's nothing I can do." 

"Sorry." Rose whispered, or at least he thought she's the one who talked. "Guess I was a little slow..." She broke off, and he took the opportunity to pull the Krillotane spine out of her chest, althought he knew it wouldn't change her fate.

"It's okay." he whispered, running a bloodied hand along her face. "You were fantastic, absolutely fantastic." 

She smiled a half smile, and everything feels wet, wet with blood and tears because he started crying somewhere and this jacket is ruined but he doesn't even care at this point-

Rose's eyes close halfway. 

"Don't die." he hissed. "Oh my god, don't die." But he doubted she can hear him anymore.

It was then that he made his decision, and it's one of those stupid-ass decisions that will most likely get him killed, but it's the only choice left. And you know what? He's not gonna let this happen. He's come too far, suffered too much, to lose the last person he loves. He deserved this, at least this.

"Doctor, what are you doing?" Elmira's sharp inhale was clear-she must be close to him. She'll kill him later, but right now he just doesn't care.

"The only thing I can." The fire was building in his veins now. He knew how this worked, at least in theory. Keep it controlled; don't let it change you. 

So little breath left, and with every second, so little time.

"Doctor!"

Elmira is pissed, furious actually,  and a lot of other things he can't name, but they don't matter.

He wraps one faintly glowing hand against Rose's cheek and the other over the dark maw in her chest, letting the fire scream in his blood, flow and heal the wounds no mortal man can. 

And just in case he doesn't save her, in case it doesn't work, and he shouldn't say "just in case" because it would take a miracle for it to work, he tells her something. Just six words, quiet enough for private ears.

"I'm so sorry.....I love you."

Then he kisses her goodbye and prays for a miracle.

 

 

 

Chapter Text

 

Chapter 14

 

 

 

It was too quiet in the corridor.

Amy huddled closer to Rory in an attempt to calm her fears. Why did they have to get separated from the others?

There was a rustling farther down the ways, and Rory got up. "I'm gonna go check that out."

"No, don't!"

"We can't stay here forever, Amy."

She watched him go, and a few terrifying minutes passed. Around the corner came the soft plip-plip of footsteps.

"Rory?"

She didn't see him anywhere.

****

Nothing. 

Not a budge, not a breath, only the soft leaching of blood onto his palms.


Let go.

He let his hand fall, and somewhere someone helped him to his feet. There are voices, pestering questions, but all he could do was turn them down with a soft shake of his head.

"Come on, let's go." His voice sounded like someone else was using it. "There's nothing to do here, we need to find Amy and Rory before something else does."

"What, we're just gonna leave her here?" Jalen sounded angry. 

"We can't take her with us. What's the point, anyways? Just lugging around some shell-"

He added a hint of a snarl onto the last word, and Jalen shoved him into the wall. Holy shit the kid was strong.

"We are NOT leaving her here!"

"Do you think I want to? We don't have a choice! My only priority right now is saving the ones who are still alive!"

He didn't shout, and that somehow made it even worse.

"You owe to me, you could do at least one thing for me in your life, instead of running of like you always do-"

And just like that, the Doctor found himself silent.

He couldn't answer. 

The stunned silence lasted for a second before the anger built to a terrifying crescendo.

"Running off? You think that's it, then, that that's what I do?"

He felt the eyes on him from his friends, begging him not to go there, but there was no way he was backing down now.

"Do you think I didn't try? That I just gave up?"

"I-"

"This isn't how this works, I don't get to give up, I don't get what I want. The universe doesn't work like that! People will die and in the end I will always lose everything. You wanna know how things work? That's how they work. I'm not running, I'm just trying to keep the next victim from ever finding me."

Jalen seemed to be the one incapable of speaking now, and just shouldered his way past him with a pair of wounded eyes. 

God, he didn't want to do this, but there were priorities to worry about.

Martha gave him what he imagined was a cross between an 'i'm sorry i couldn't help' and a sympathetic look, but he did not acknowledge he had seen it. Too much hurt, and his eyes were still red from tears.

He didn't know why he expected her to live, anyways.

He should know by now that he doesn't get miracles.

The Doctor turned to go, but then something stopped him.

A sharp inhale of breath, not a gasp, but the scream of lungs deprived, the shifting of a body off a floor, and- no.

He about-faced so fast he hit Jack in the face, who proceeded to employ a few choice words in his general direction. The Doctor bounced off the doorway, staring at the pair of hazel eyes that blinked clear to meet him, the tiny, weak smile.

"You gonna help me up or what?"

"Rose!"

He threw her into his arms, still not sure he isn't dreaming. But how-

He thought to voice this, but then he couldn't find his voice, because she kissed him, fast and unsure, like she didn't know if it'd be well recieved. He didn't give her a second to breathe, taking the instant's hesitation and erasing her fears, one hand pressed into her hair. Oh god, he'd missed this. All of this, all of her.

After what could have been two seconds or two years, he let himself go.

"Still?" he whispered.

"You grew on me."

"You two done?" asked Jack. He had Jalen firmly restrained with one hand, but let him go when he saw the Doctor and Rose seperate.

"Mum!"

Rose hugged her son in so tight that the breath appeared to leave his lungs in a single instant.

"That hurts." he hissed.

"I don't care." she whispered fiercely. 

She let him scramble out of her arms, and turned to look back at the Doctor, this time more quizzically. 

"What the fuck did you do?" she asked.

"Does it matter?"

"You look old."

"I-what?"

"Like-" and she started messing with the top of his hair "-you've got all these little gray bits up top."

"What-no?"

"What happened to saving Amy and Rory?" asked Jack.

"Oh, yeah! Sorry!"

He grabbed Rose's hand and dragged her behind him. "Come along!"

As soon as they hit the halls, the quiet hit them faster. Rose's giddy tide of joy was stopped cold by a chill that ran up her spine.

"There's too little here." she hissed. "We were makin' a racket, we shoulda attracted-"

"I know." replied the Doctor. "I don't like it either."

He glanced around a corner, then beckoned them on. Beyond was a glass door, thick green leaves brushing dewy patterns onto the clear sheet. 

"We can cut through there." said River, messing with her holopad. Her voice was flat and emotionless. "Pick up whatever we need for Romana on the way."

Rose ducked the thick fern blocking the door. "How we gonna find anything in here?"

"I know what I'm looking for, give me a second." The Doctor ran off in one direction, and Rose just shrugged and started walking the other way.

Sometime later, she heard the triumphant whoops of a successful searcher, and she made to return to her Doctor when the brushes rustled beside her. Fearing another Krillotane, she ducked, but what emerged was a far more terrifying picture. 

"Rory?!?"

His face was gaunt and covered in scratches, a terrible, haunted look in his eyes. His left hand was dragging something behind him. 

He took exactly three steps and then keeled over, breathing but out cold. The thing he was dragging fell out of his hand, and Rose saw a flash of red hair before rushing to Amy's side. 

"Amy!"

No amount of shaking seemed to wake her. Every last inch of her skin was ash-white and shriveled, no blood left to color it.

"DOCTOR!!"

********

"So what was it?" asked Romana, still leaning against the railing. She was recovering, but not at 100% yet.

"I can't believe I didn't realize it." snarled Jack. "That dog-thing they were toting around, it's a blood-sucking species from my home planet. It must have been hungry."

"So why Amy and not-"

"Maybe it started on him and realized there was more? I don't know."

"And Rory?"

"He'll recover." said Martha. "Well, physically at least."

"Where are Rose and the Doctor? They kind of disappeared." asked Jenny.

"Five bucks says systematically stripping each other down in the wardrobe room." said Jalen nonchalantly.

"You know, most teenagers would be repulsed at the idea of their parents having sex." said Jack. 

"I'm not most teenagers." he replied.

"I doubt it." said River. "Amy's death hit him pretty hard."

"And how are you holding up?" said Jack, a bit quieter. River had arguably lost the most out of everyone today. 

"I'm alright." she replied, the life gone from her voice. "It's not really them. It kind of threw me at first, but... I was already kind of giving him up. Most of the things between us never happened now anyways. No, it's more....my mom and I were never that close, I know, but it's still..."

Jalen reached a hand out to cover hers. "I know."

*******

If Jalen had actually made a bet, he would have lost his five bucks.

The Doctor and Rose were actually on opposite sides of the room, whisper-shouting perfectly normal-if a little cheesy- things at each other.  

Well, normal for them at least.

"So did you-"

"I already talked to Abilene." said the Doctor. "She hasn't got a clue, and she's the smartest one on this topic."

"Why even is that?"

"She was a professor back-back home." He paused. "I think all of us are out of the realm of which we know."

Rose finished pulling her clean shirt over her head. 

"I'm not gonna ask if you're ok, 'cause I know you're not." she said.

"It seems the universe made a trade today. You for Amy."

"Don't think like that, yeah? It was chance." 

"Just-just don't leave me again. Promise?"

She walked over and linked her hand in his.

"Promise."

 

Chapter Text

 

Chapter 15

 

 

Maybe it was dawn, maybe it was midnight. 

 didn't really  matter. Either way she must move.

"Doctor?"

"Hmmm?" He shifts an arm around her, but it gave her no comfort. She knows he isn't real.

"Why this? Why this dream?"

"I'm not a dream."

"Yes, you are." 

She knows, as soon as she budges, this will be gone, and she will be keeled over in a white-washed room.

Trapped.

Tortured.

Alone.

Save me. she wants to beg, but no one will answer.

****

"Are you alright?"

This Doctor was real. 

The trappings of her nightmares were fading away, and the slow realization of a waking dreamer as to where she really was hit her. 

The couch. The TARDIS couch, the one in the library. And there was a body, too, a pair of arms wrapped around hers, but they were real, not threatening to fade the instant she touched them. 

"Just a bad dream, yeah." Rose managed to find her voice.

Something was nagging her, a deep, sharp feeling that this was the last night she'd sleep. That any of them would sleep. She didn't know what it meant, or why, but it sat on her heart like a rock.

Some worlds had called her a prophetess, after her little power fest with the Silence had left her able to notice these things. The Doctor had preferred the title of "finder of uncomfortable truths."

She was trying to recall how they'd ended up here. Something about Amy and a book and how sleep could wait but dammit she was so tired and then-

Well, it'll come back eventually.

She wished she could forget the nightmare that easily.

But it's so, so hard to forget what you don't want to remember in the first place.

The floor leaped, and any last bits of sleep vanished as she fell to the ground. 

What the hell?

"Who touched what?" bellowed the Doctor, even though whoever's downstairs probably can't hear a thing. "I told you-"

He charged up from beside her on the floor and ran off. Rose, having landed a bit harder, took an instant to catch her breath before joining him.

 

"I swear-I didn't" said River, hands flying up as soon as she saw the duo murdering the stairs with their footsteps. "It had found a rift, I just locked on, and it yanked us straight through before I even told her to."

The Doctor started muttering curses and hitting buttons while the stairs behind them were further mutilated as the tremor proceeded to wake up every damn occupant of the TARDIS.

"What time is it?" yawned Jalen, hair sticking in every visible direction, and maybe a few more. 

"Three in the morning." answered River.

 Six hours? Is that it?

"No wonder you screwed everything up." he muttered.

"I didn't do it!" snapped River angrily.

Meanwhile, the Doctor stopped hitting things and looked up with a slightly torn expression on his face. 

"Jack?" he asked.

"Reporting for duty."

He didn't look like he'd slept either.

The Doctor seemed like he was only doing a roll call, because he turned to Rose next. 

"You're sitting this one out. Don't ask questions." he said.

"What? You're not gonna keep me holed up here!"

"Doctor, what is it, what's the matter?" asked River.

"You too, River. And you, definitely you." The Doctor jabbed a finger in Jalen's general direction.

"Wait, what?" said Jalen, generally ticked off.

River and Rose, meanwhile, both fumbled for the display screen, only one solution to this mood of the Doctor's apparent.

Jalen remained slow and oblivious, but Jack clicked at nearly the same moment that the girls did.

"No."

"Will someone tell me what's going on?" demanded Martha, but no one answered.

Rose paused for a moment, one hand absentmindedly running over a scar at her temple, before relinquishing the vidscreen to River and marching back to the Doctor.

"You can't keep me out of this; you-you need me."

"Why can't I? Rose-"

"I can remember them." she said quickly.

The Doctor was stunned. "You never told me-"

"I know." Rose was treading in shaky waters, all too eager to navigate away. "It's irrelevant."

"...Alright."

"Okay, I'm done with you all." Romana spoke up. "Details. Now."

"It's a Silence planet." the Doctor said. " We've had more than our fair share of trouble with them in the past. I thought they were gone from this section of the universe, though...It doesn't matter. What matters is that as soon as you look away, you forget ever seeing them. The friends they drag around aren't the safest crowd either."

"So?" If Romana was bothered, she didn't show it.

"Romana, I don't think you-"

"And I say we've dealt with way worse. Figure your shit out, leave behind who we need to, and let's go."

*****

"Ok, we have to be careful about this." ordered Jack. "If you think you've missed anything, anything at all, check your palms for the light. Actually, just check on a regular basis."

"When'd you come up with this one?" whispered Rose to the Doctor.

"Amy's mess." he replied.

"We split up into groups like we decided, find the crack, and call the others. Get in, get out, keep it simple. Got it?"

There was a murmur of ascent, and the groups started splitting off into the four corridors.

"Jack, you're coming with us, yeah?" asked Rose.

He nodded, and the trio took off.

*******

"Jalen, what are you doing?" asked River.

"Breaking the lock mum put on the door." he replied.

"What? Why?"

"Because they aren't safe."

"Well of course they aren't, but neither are we."

He didn't respond, and River kept going. "Look, on your list of bad ideas, this is near the top."

"River, I...I-" He sighed and leaned against the door.

"What?" she said, miffed.

"I-I just don't know how to explain this to you in terms you would understand."

"Try me, storm-cub."

Aggravation successful. He was about to cave.

Jalen reached out a hand. 

"Take it."

River hesitated.

"Go on!" he urged.

It was like being in close contact with an electric eel. Every cell in her body sparked with electricity, the smell of burnt flesh in her nostrils. She wanted to scream, but something had pinned her tongue to her throat, and she couldn't breathe.

Then her fingers slipped away from Jalen's hand, and everything was fine, the lightning-flash pain gone from her body.

"I-I-"

"Take a second to catch your breath." he said. "Look, River, I have this sort of...connection with my mom. To some extent, I can feel what she's feeling, hear what she's thinking,if she wants me. Or if she can't help it."

"But that-"

"I don't think it's happened yet, but I need to stop it before it does."

********

"Why do you do this to her?"

Rose can hear the voices of the scientists in the other room. It's one of those rare moments of perfect clarity, when she can hear nearly the entire station. Of course, it'll only last as long as she stays still.

"She needs to serve me." The Madam. Where did she get that title, anyways?

"But how does this accomplish that? Aren't you worried you'll harm her beyond repair? Or hurt the child?"

"Brain cells I can repair. If I want her to work for me, first I have to break her soul."

*******

"Rose?"

"Just one." she replied a little shakily. "He didn't see us."

"Good." said Jack. "Let's keep going."

The Doctor slipped out to take her hand. "Are you alright?"

"I'm fine."

"Are-"

"Absolutely fine!" she said too fast.

"Rose-"

He blinked, and he was standing on the other side of the room. Jack was staring at the blinking red light on his palm. Rose was nowhere to be seen.

"Jack!" 

He'd already clicked his palm, but the audio was maybe two seconds long: a quick gasp that could have been anyone, and silence.

Rose, where are you?

****

"Are you sure this is the way they went?" asked River.

"Positive."

"Jalen, there were four different doors."

"River, trust me."

They were snapping back and forth like an old married couple, and more than a little too loudly.

Jalen sighed dramatically and opened the next door without even thinking.

River moved on instinct, hitting the floor as soon as she heard shots. Jalen on the other hand, always the quick mover, proved to be too slow for the first time in this life, pinned unconscious to the wall by the force of the rapid fire. 

"Jalen!" River hissed as loudly as she dared. There was no response.

"Didn't mean to shoot that one." growled someone. "He startled me."

"Let the bastard change, he's still useful. I'll call hq." The other voice seemed no different, still the typical soldier.

"What about the chick?"

"I think she's dead."

Pleasedontcomeherepleasedontcomehere

The footsteps moved away, and River let out a breath she hadn't realized she was holding. 

"Jalen?" She reached out to touch him. Was he bluffing, or was something wrong with his regeneration?

River recoiled almost instantly and stared at the angry red blister forming where her fingers had brushed his arm. What the hell?

"Are you sure you didn't actually kill him?" asked one of the soldiers. 

"Nah, he's fine."

 

Jalen was walking somewhere in-between.

The place was black as night and quiet as the grave, and for an instant he wondered if he was actually dead. But then a specter appeared in the corner of his vision, a girl of maybe seventeen with blonde curly hair and eyes that bled silver light, a girl that reached out to touch his hand and gave him a devilish smile.  If he hadn't known he was dreaming, he would have thought himself insane.

A voice filled his ears with the strength of a lion. 

And the dead shall raise the dead...

 

"Jalen,please wake up."

He stiffened and arched backward, and River dared to glance up for the second necessary to see one soldier marching towards them. 

"Hey, what's he doing?" he asked.

Jalen leaped to his feet, and in a wave of light that blinded River, every single bullet from the semiautomatic left his  body and pinned the guards like bugs in a collection to the wall. River wanted to scream but she couldn't, too scared to move an inch.

Jalen tilted his head oddly, in a nearly robotic fashion, to give River a cold smile. His eyes had turned gold, not completely so, but only at the irises, with tiny black dents for pupils.

"Hello, River." he purred.

 

 

 

 

Chapter Text

 

Chapter 16

 

 

 

"Jalen, wake up, this isn't you!" River sounded terrified.

"Is it me?" It was like watching a beautiful cat right before he tore you apart. 

"The real Jalen, he wouldn't have killed those people, he-"

"Would he? Or are you just saying that in an attempt to convince yourself that this isn't your friend, that you can save him by yelling that at him that it isn't him?"

So calm, so cool, so collected, like her fear didn't bother him at all. 

River started eyeing the exits. Maybe...if she was fast enough...

But Jalen anticipated, he knew, and all the speed of his former self was magnified. It was like he didn't even move; he was just there.

"Don't run." he purred. "I need you."

"What did you say?" River fished for another way out. If she could throw him off for a second, she might have her chance.

"What?" He was thrown, but not enough.

"When you were dying, I heard you whisper something. What was it? The dead will raise what?"

"Stop talking!" 

No part of her could've ever seen that explosion coming. Jalen looked as if he was about separate her head from her body with his bare hands.

"We do not speak of it!" he shouted. "It is what will always and should never be."

"You're speaking in riddles!"

"I said, STOP TALKING!"

He lashed out viciously, and the same gold that had saved them both multiple times now burned into the place River had been instants before. She huddled on the ground, the rubble covering her shoulders in white dust.

Jalen's hand trembled, and he dropped his arm to his side. "River..." His voice was hoarse and scared, and he dropped to his knees. "Get out!" he screamed. "Get out of my head!"

His head jerked, and the cold look returned. "Fool! I am you!"

River sat, watching his terrible monologue with a look of encroaching terror. His eyes switched from gold to blue to gold again, faster and faster until they flickered like a camera shutter. 

Jalen dropped low to the ground, still clutching his head. His mouth was open in a tortured scream, but no sound came out.

He laid there for a moment before his eyes shut and he collapsed completely. 

"Jalen?" River whispered, crawling forward an inch. "Are you dead?"

He raised himself up slowly, nodding his head before at last opening his eyes. The outer ring was back to blue, but the inside was gold.

"I did it." he said, and there was an odd echoing quality to his voice, like two people were speaking in unison. "We are one." 

He paused. " River-"

"It's alright, I'm fine."

"No, it's not, I could have killed you-"

"It's not your fault!"

"Yes, it was! I should had better control over myself!" It was then he noticed the bodies of the guards. "Did I kill them?" he mused. He seemed more disturbed over the fact he'd nearly killed River. "I- yes, that was me. And there was something else. Something important."

"Maybe rescuing you mother?" said River a little sarcastically.

"No, no, that's not-but let's go. Now. I am not having another death on my hands."

*******

Maybe she was dead this time.

She certainly hoped so.

A sharp kick to her left side. No. This wasn't it.

"To be honest, Ms. Tyler, I never thought I would see you again."

A sharp face blurred in and out of the focus of her half-closed eyes, a wicked smile on her too-red lips, only blackness in both her eyepatch and her visible eye.

"You would think after we parted on such unusual terms, you would avoid me with everything you had. But you just can't do that, can you?" 

Rose tried to force herself off the ground, but one of the creatures kicked her so hard she hit it again with a crack.

"What is your point?" Rose growled, and every word was laced with pain.

"To draw your son out, of course. I know he'll come running for you. Other than that?"-the Madam grabbed Rose so she had no choice but to look at her-"I want to watch you scream. All that time, and you never stopped fighting me, I never got my satisfaction from breaking you. Might as well finish the job. Then, if I'm merciful, I'll kill you."

One of the taller tan blobs stepped up behind the Madam.

"Do you remember why this is so much fun, why you can remember?" She tapped her eyepatch. "You've got one of these in that beautiful little head of yours. My friends can punish you the same way they might anyone else. But you can't stop it, and you have a lot harder time dying."

The Madam walked away, and one of the Silence by her sides lifted its hand. 

The room filled with static lightning, and Rose screamed again.

"Did you ever tell him?" Rose heard the other woman's voice still echo in her tortured mind. "Or were you just too afraid?"

**********

"Doctor?" 

There were black spots dancing before his eyes, and he felt Jack's hand on his shoulder. 

"Doctor, are you all right? We need to find Rose."

No! You promised you would keep her safe.

"It doesn't matter." he replied.

"Why?"

"I know where she is, I can feel it." said the Doctor, choking back tears. "And there's nothing I can do to save her now."

*******

Martha paused.

"Rory, Mouse, come look at this." she said.

Mouse was like a hunter, watching every angle of the corridor before joining her.

Rory was a man already dead.

Mouse frowned in confusion. "That's just like the portal me, Abilene and Romana came through." she said. "Except it's...tiny."

"Like, small enough for a dog. Rory? What are you doing?"

He was staring down the darkest of the corridors. "There's something there."

Elmira shook her head. "No there isn't. I would know, trust me."

Rory seemed determined, though. "There's something there, I know there is!"

"Rory, maybe you're just imagining you see something, I know that-" said Martha, before realizing the shaky ground she was entering.

"Yes, yes of course." Rory said. "That must be it."

*****

"Look." whispered Jalen. "There's my dear old dad."

River could feel the sarcasm he poured into every word. Dysfunctional wouldn't even begin to describe that relationship.

"He doesn't look too good, maybe-" she said.

"Maybe he knows something." Jalen has already moved on from what she's saying. "Listen."

She can't make sense of him. Ever. In fact, she's entirely given up on that front.

Maybe that's why she likes him so much.

"Wait, then if you know where she is, tell me!" hissed Jack.

"Right there, right past that door, but it doesn't matter, we'll never be able to get through." replied the Doctor.

"That's all I need." said Jalen, his lip curling into a smile. He strolled out of their corner without so much as a second thought, completely ignoring Jack and the Doctor, breaking the thick metal door in half with just a wave of his hand. 

"What are you doing?" spluttered Jack.

"What I was born to do." he replied.

********

The beach was cold, the wind colder, her heart the most frozen of all.

"The others I could take, but this, this is just cruel." laughed Rose terribly. "Tell me, was this something she made me imagine? Or am I really this messed up?"

The stranger picked his way over the rocks, wind ruffling the spiked brown hair, blue suit still as bloodied as it had been the last time he was real.

"You tell me." said the Doctor. "How screwed up do you think you are? I'm not real, after all." 

Every word was a punch to her gut, a pain greater than lightning.

"I miss you." she said simply. "Why did you have to die?"

"The same reason the other me died. I loved too much."

"Don't go." and Rose was begging, more to herself and her mind than him.

"I could stay. You could stay, in this little bubble of yours. But I think you'd miss him too much."

"Don't you dare say that."

"Why are you ashamed? I would want you to move on. You need better than a dead man and a lost home."

The Doctor touched her shoulder, and for a moment she pretended that all this was really happening, that this wasn't some fever-dream brought on by her tortured mind.

"I know you love him just as much as you loved me, maybe even more. That's great, and I think the real dead me would say the same."

He kissed her forehead.

"Now do me a favor, and go save the world."

 


Breathe.

Gunshots. A fight. Someone was fighting. Maybe for her. She still hurt, but it wasn't a priority. She had a job. 

Rose cracked her eyes to a thick haze. She couldn't identify people by their feet, dammit.

A pistol clattered to the ground inches from her left hand. It was old, but well-cared for. Jack's. Well, that didn't look good for her heroes.


Wait.

The Madam still thought she was dead. She could use that. Instead she counted bullets and shoes; four bullets, five pairs that weren't people she knew. She had better get this one right.

"Poor thing." she heard the Madam say, like she was taunting someone. "I think she's finally dead." 

The Doctor- the real one-her Doctor- was screaming her name in her mind, and it took everything she took not to reply. Any indication she was alive could ruin everything.

"You know," said Madam Kovorian, "you think she's so strong, but in the end, she was so, so weak."

"You underestimate my strength." Rose snarled, and moved.

One, two. Aim for the Silence first, before they could disable her. Don't miss, or she could kill the wrong person. Remember every last moment of her training.

Three. The last was moving to harm her. It didn't get far.

The Madam was armed- of course she was- and Rose was out of bullets. She didn't need to know that. Rose didn't want to kill her straight away anyways.

Rose instead chose to crumple her systematically- neat blow to the chest, kick down, disarm. She grabbed the Madam's gun off the floor and took aim. She was scared. Good.

"Where the fuck did that come from?" exclaimed Jack. There were other people talking, too, but that was the first thing she heard.

"You're forgetting. Ex-Torchwood." she replied.

"Don't kill me." begged Madam Kovorian.

"Give me one good reason I shouldn't."

Rose expected to hear someone try to stop her, but there was only silence.  You've caused enough damage to turn the Doctor

For a moment she wasn't sure what to do herself. She deserved it, sure. But who was she to decide what people deserved?

"I won't," she said, lowering the gun, "because I'm a better person than you."

"I'm not." snarled Jalen, and the Madam's neck twisted sharply before she collapsed to the floor.

"JALEN!"

"She should have left you alone." He was so cold. "She won't hurt anyone anymore, now. Everything's better."

She turned around to find the Doctor an inch behind her. He didn't say a word. He didn't have to.

Rose dropped the gun and nearly collapsed into the Doctor's arms. 

"Why didn't you ever tell me what she did to you?" he said tightly.

"I didn't want you to worry any more about me." she replied.

Jalen kept a careful eye on the door-or at least what had been a door. "Why were they were here?" he asked.

"We could have asked." sneered Jack.

"I don't think she would have told us. Why this?"

"Why come back to this planet? Their cover was blown."

added the Doctor, softer.

"Jack, help me with this." ordered Jalen, trying to clean off one of the computer bays.

River heard the sounds of approaching footsteps, but it turned out to be only their friends, although minus Mouse, Martha, and Rory.

"What happened?" asked Romana, stunned.

"It's alright, everything's fine." replied River hastily.

"And there we go!" Jalen had the computer bay up and working. "Let's see...recent accesses....what the hell is that."

A large, black beast appeared on the holopad. It was completely unlike any alien they had ever seen in that it was existing and not existing at exactly the same instant. Their eyes wanted to go around it, forget it, like a perception filter might alter things, but they were also inexplicably drawn to it. In terms of physical appearance, it was robust and wolf like, a long row of spines running down its furless back, no eyes on its massive jaws.

"What is that?" asked Sarah Jane.

"A creature of the Void." read Jenny. "But I thought nothing was supposed to exist in the void!"

"There isn't, it's literally nothing, give me that!" The Doctor sounded exasperated, but kept reading. "It can break holes in the fabric of time and space without even thinking twice... attracted to complex events."

"So the Silence were tracking it?" asked Luke.

"Of course not, there's no way it could even have existed. Besides, how would they track it?"

"They didn't follow it. We did." said Rose.

"What are you-"

"Think about it! We've been tracking holes in space and time and space, holes we can't explain, holes that conveniently appear in the middle of the Time War, the most chronologically complex event to ever happen? It would be a piece of cake for the Silence to follow our trail, we did all the work for them, they just knew what they were looking at. We didn't."

"But how did they know what it was, then?" snapped the Doctor.

"Log, right here. April 16, 2010, documented a rip in the fabric of reality after a portion went dark. It closed some three hours later." said Luke.

" We left the other world on April 16. That good enough for you, you remember what I said about both sides being cracked?"said Rose snippily.

"I still don't get how they got an image of it." muttered the Doctor.

Luke kept reading. "September 18, 2011. Sometime after the events at Demon's Run-round two- several portals mysteriously appeared on the asteroid. The time travelers involved in moving Melody Pond to 1969 were devoured by the beast, which proceeded to leave, leaving all the portals open. They led to house in 2009 for some reason. The Silence didn't get it, so they closed the portals."

The holopad shifted and Rose jumped. "That's my place. What the hell?"

"It's been looking for me." said Jalen suddenly.

"That's absurd."

"What else could draw it out, then, why else would it be at your place? It feeds off complicated bits of space and time, and I'm about as complicated as it gets! Why would it be here, instead of safely in it's home in the Void, if didn't want something? It was me, the scent of my blood that drove it here, it picked me up and couldn't resist!"

"I refuse to believe-" said Rose, but was cut off as the missing three arrived gasping and terrified. 

"What's going on?" asked the Doctor.

"There's something chasing us-"

"-cracks just like the one's we've been followin-"

"-bloody everywhere-"

River looked terrified, but kept her cool.  "We need to get back to the TARDIS, now."

They took off, but Jalen could detect the beast not far off. He didn't want to know it was there, but it wanted him to know. It was playing with it's food.

Rory tripped and cried out, and Martha stopped to help him up. 

"No! Leave him!" cried Abilene, but it was too late. The black creature appeared from nowhere and doubled in size, snapping up Rory before swatting Martha around like a mouse. She was clearly dead.

"He's distracted, now!" 

The blue box materialized, and the doors were closed fast.

"Is everyone here?" bellowed the Doctor.

"We're not missing anyone alive, no." said River. "Are we safe?"

"The TARDIS is shielded enough. I think. All the same, we should probably-" 

The controls sputtered and threw sparks, the familiar sound of the screeching brakes filling the air, but they were all a good ten feet away from the console.

The Doctor sprang to his feet and tried to regain control. "No- don't do that- where are you taking us?!" he shouted, but she would not respond, blinding them all in a aurora of sparks and light before grinding to a halt.

Abilene checked their coordinates. "Looks like the boss caught up with us at last." 

"What? Where are we?"

"Gallifrey."

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chapter Text

 

Chapter 17

 

"Rassilon must have finally noticed we were gone." said Abilene cautiously.

"Took him long enough." scowled Romana. 

The Doctor was quiet, calculating. "I tried to throw the controls. Is there anyway to tell exactly where we are?"

There was no time to mourn, not now. That would come later; until then they had to keep moving. It hurt. It always would. But that's life; sometimes you have to shelve your sorrows in order to save yourself from more.

"Not at all." replied Romana.

"So we could be anywhere."

"What do you want us to do?"  said Rose softly.

He hesitated, anticipated, ran over every possible situation in his mind. Not too many were good, most ended terribly, all involved leaving the TARDIS behind.

"No good to stay here, we'd get nothing done, might as well go outside. Whatever's there."

"Want me to open her up?" asked Luke.

"Go ahead."

The blue door swung open, falling into a wide field of burnt orange grass and a sky the color of blood.

 Rose's breath caught in her throat.

"What is it?" asked the Doctor.

"It's just... in all the planets, everywhere we ever went, I never thought I would ever come here."

He smirked a little bit. "Neither did I."

They flowed out into the grass, and the Doctor closed the TARDIS with a snap of his fingers. Then, out of nowhere, he started to laugh.

"What is it, what's so funny?" insisted Mouse.

"You don't recognize where we are?"

"No, it's a field. Like every other damn field on this damn planet."

"No it's not, because during the war, there were refugees everywhere, fields didn't exist anymore, if they did they got destroyed. But out of all that, all that destruction, only one place was left standing, one place that the Council deemed was too important to let be populated by the galaxy's remnants. The Academy of Timelords, the only place on this whole planet where we won't be turned in the instant we touch civilization because they're all too young to recognize what we've got in our party. No offense, Jalen."

"None taken."

"Yeah, I don't see any fancy academy, your theory is shit." said Jenny.

"It's there, it's shielded. Would you really expect us to leave it unguarded?" Abeline scoffed, a light smile playing on her face.

The Doctor pulled off his jacket and threw it over his shoulder. "Been too long since I've been here." he admitted. "They unceremoniously kicked me off the first time, did I ever tell you that?"

"No, but it doesn't surprise me in the least." Rose jested.

"Oh, shut up."

 The air rippled around them, like they were passing through a bubble, and Jenny nearly walked into a stone column that appeared from the air. The Academy was maybe a shadow of its former glory, but that's probably how everything was on Gallifrey at this point- just shadows, waiting for the end.

Jalen saw a face stare at him through the window. "They gonna come bother us?"

"I would." said Jenny. 

"Huh." Jalen dropped back a little bit, spending too much time taking it all in. It was a bit irresistible. This could have been his home; if he had been luckier. 

If he was whole.

Movement flickered in the corner of his eye, and Jalen whipped around to see the trace of golden curls vanish behind a column. 

"Who's there?" he called out. "I won't hurt you."

She poked around the edge of column, and Jalen had the impossible happen.

He was terrified.

He-he knew her. He had seen her before, but when? A mess of golden curls, a thin, sharp face, eyes the color of ice. 

But then-then-

The fever-dream of his most recent death was coming back to him- and- oh, God.


And the dead will raise the dead.

"Who are you?" he challenged.

"You-you first." Her accent was best defined as Southern American, absolutely perplexing. He'd never really heard her speak clearly, before.

"My name's Jalen."

"So the ghost has a name. Hey, Mels, can you see this?" He got the feeling she was talking to someone else, but there was no one there.

"No, don't you see, he's right there, can't you- Is there anyone with me?" She was sharp, determined. 

"No..."

"Jalen, what's going on back there?" he heard the Doctor say.

"Doctor, come here. Do you see that?" he demanded.

"See what?"

"There's a girl-right there, you've got to see her , come on..."

"There's no one there."

The girl turned to walk away. 

"Wait! You never told me your name!" called Jalen.

She didn't say anything, and with each step she became more and more corporeal, until she was gone completely.

"Dammit." he hissed.

The Doctor was just looking at him like he was crazy. Maybe he was. He didn't know these days.

"Hey, wait for me!" Why were people always leaving him behind?

Out of the whole crowd, River was the only one who waited for him. Typical. Absolutely typical.

A thought struck him. "River, what do you know about temporal echoes?"

"I've run into them a couple times. Why are you asking?"

"I've just heard the term before, wondered what it meant." That wasn't it; he had a pretty good idea, but he didn't want to take the time to give River the details of his education.

"Whenever there's a big event, like a drastic change in timeline, you get these sort of...aftershocks, bits and pieces of what could have been and what happened scattered on either side of the actual event. Like...a memory that never happened, or a person you think you've met-"

"Or a crack in a wall?"

"A more famous example, but yeah. Things like that."

That's what I thought.

But what if an echo is a person? What then? 

It was only possible answer, and not a very clean one at that. For it to work, there had to be an event, a bigger one than the little ones happening here, and he couldn't think of what it might be.

They were getting close to the door. 

"What are we going to do now?" inquired Sarah Jane.

"I'm going to go talk to the headmistress." said Romana. "I know her from council meetings, I should be able to figure out a few things."

The Doctor had forgotten how high up Romana had used to be here. "Go ahead."

Jalen plopped down on the ground, detecting a wait. There were a couple of students milling around on the grounds, but none of them had the definitely transparent quality of his specter.

One of the older students, a blue-haired boy who looked twenty but was probably two hundred, ran past Jalen in a hurry, tripping and dropping half his books. Jalen reached over to help pick them up, but at the same moment the student recoiled, rushing away as fast as he could.

"What's his problem?" he muttered irritatedly.

A few minutes later, a red-robed teacher emerged from the grounds in deep conversation with Romana.

"It's about time!" scoffed Jack.

A soft wind blew against the back of his head and footsteps crunched as the hairs on the back of Jalen's neck rose. Something wasn't right...

Jenny turned around to tell him something, and stopped, eyes wide. At the same time, someone grabbed him hard from behind. They were strong, but Jalen was far stronger. He wrestled his assailant off and threw him onto the grass.

Oh, fuck.

The Gally Police had arrived.

It was that student, it must have been. He must have-fuck.

He could take them,sure, but it would involve killing several. Who knew how many were hiding in that TARDIS. His conscience-he was starting to realize he actually had one- would never let him do anyways.

So he threw up his hands and surrendered. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chapter Text

 

 TOHF Chapter 18

AN: We're on the home stretch, and I'm on a roll, so this comes early. There'll still be a Tuesday too. Consider it my treat.

 

"Romanaevortralundra, would you care to explain what's going on?"


Would you care to explain why you're an insufferable prick? She didn't care for Rassilon much. 

"I don't see what there is to explain." If she was going here, she was going kicking and screaming.

"Ms. Maedra-" great, he was pulling the whole "last-name-formality" on her-"I had a choice, either to take this mess before the council or to see if we could deal with it privately. You are a rather trusted figure on the council, I wouldn't want to put your reputation at stake. Care to do a roll call of your party?"

"Go ahead." said Romana tersely.

"Four people-including yourself-who have abandoned their stations, two guilty of one of the highest crimes on Gallifrey, and one I'm tempted to kill on the spot. I would have already, if it were not for the fact that I know how good your judgement is."

"Desperate times call for desperate measures, Lord Rassilon. I know you are occupied with the war, but there is something that concerns the future of both our races, something you have to know."

He seemed to mull over what she said. "Enlighten me."

"I know why our enemies are disapeareing. We're not winning, they found a way out of the timelock, just like I and my companions did. These holes were made by a creature far more terrifying than anything we've fought, one that can cut into time and space looking for it's next meal. I've seen it with my own eyes, and to it, the Time War is a feast."

To her surprise, Rassilon only laughed. 

"Do you think I don't know already what this creature is?"

"Then why-why haven't you-"

"You tell me, Romana. You've been outside the war. You know that everyone- everything- dies. It is inevitable, it will always happen. We've tried to avoid it, to transcend this universe, but the Doctor stopped us. Then it showed up, and gave us a way out. When the time is right, we will all fall and escape to a more ethereal plane. We even gave it the Nightmare Child to distract it while we made our final preparations. Thank you, by the way, for weakening her us."


You're insane!

"You know, I think I will go with the trial for at least the lawbreakers. Even at the end of all things, judgement must be served." said Rassilon nonchalantly.

*****

Jalen hid behind the doorway, heart pounding in his chest. 

It taken him all of three seconds to get out of that cell. It may have been built for a Time Lord, but not for one like him.

He was worried about his mother, now. Well, both his parents, in a sort of indirect way. She only had one life, and that put  her at higher stakes.

Jalen regretted that he and the Doctor had never really gotten along; he guess time and their conflicting personalities had just separated them too much. But if he could save that along the way, he would. 

 I finally have a chance to make things right. After everything I've ruined, I'm in control now. I can save this.

It only half-mattered that the extent of his control was eavesdropping at the door.

"There is no mercy for a crime such as yours. You have doomed an entire universe to death because of your foolishness." ordered one of the heads in robes.

"Or enlightenment, depending on which version of events you're going with." said another voice, and an uneasy laughter filled the chamber.

"It doesn't matter. Punishment is clear. One life from each of you."

"Wait. Take more from me instead. She's only got one!" His father sounded frantic. 

"You should have thought of that when you started this."

Now. He couldn't stand here any longer.

"If you want to kill me, fine." His mother was adamant but shaking. "I know what you expected me to do. I know you expected me to kill my son the instant he breathed. Obviously none of you have ever had children of your own. Say what you will, point fingers at the example you've made, I can't stop you. But if I had the choice, I wouldn't change a thing. "

"I don't want sappy speeches. Kill them both."

Jalen was shaking a bit himself. What chance did he have a against a hundred TimeLords? But he had surprise on his side, and he was going to use it, dammit.

He stepped out from behind the column. The red-robed asshole froze, along with half the rest of the chamber, like a starving shark that had smelled blood. His blood.

"How the hell did you get out." said the one standing next to the adjudicator gravely, the one who had joked about enlightenment. She wasn't laughing now.

"Cages can't hold a dragon." Good. Play up the creepy factor, it was pretty damn effective. 

One of the soldiers lunged at him out of fear, but Jalen waved it away with a tiny laugh. "Rule number one. Leave my family alone."

"Kill them all." ordered the adjudicator. His soldiers didn't get far before Jalen blocked them. Stop, don't kill. That was the rule.

"Rule number two. Don't underestimate me."

The entire council  was shaking pretty harshly, but they have the doors well blocked. Jalen wasn't worried, though.

"Rule number three is not so much a rule as a question."

He leaned against thin air and snapped his fingers. 

"Why the fuck don't you lock up your TARDIS hangers?"

*********

On Rassilon's desk, a timer chirped. 

"Oh." he said. "Looks like your friend followed you here." 

What! No! I have to warn them!

"It's a little early, but I can deal." he stated. "Romana, are you ready to see the next plane?"

 

 

Chapter Text

 

 The TARDIS Jalen had stolen was a type 60, and still on it's factory settings: designed for three pilots, which was an advancement over his father's archaic type 40. It was a deep purple, and shaped like an obelisk that had been slightly crushed so its sides bowed out a bit. Along the corners of the outside ran strips of aluminum covered in words in Gallifreyan, a liscense registration of sorts. The inside was supported by cold iron in the shapes of trees, much like the Doctor's old coral structures, and the time engine was an actual hourglass that bobbed and weaved to the brakes. 

She- it was definitely a she- didn't talk to him like Idris did, but she was good enough. 

****

When they sprung their friends from the cages, they found Romana missing. 

"She was talking with Rassilon." said Abilene. "I don't know about what."

Mouse was busy overriding the prison controls- she was one of only a few who could actually read them- and paused. 

"What is it?" asked Abilene.

"It's here."

"What? How did it follow us?"

"Ladies, that's not important, it must be why Rassilon wanted Romana. We should-I-" said the Doctor.

"The time engine." said Mouse like a whip.

"Brilliant! We can stall it for the time being." 

The Doctor ran back to the new TARDIS and set it, muttering about how he liked his better before they flew off.

"Where are we? And what's this 'time engine'?" asked Luke.

"Center of the planet! As deep as you'll ever get in Gallifrey." answered Mouse.

"This entire planet is a walking paradox." continued the Doctor. "People traveling back and forth every day, contradicting their own timelines without even realizing it. The interior of the planet is hollow, and inside it runs a massive time engine, a TARDIS engine big as a moon. It acts a paradox machine for the whole planet, keeping things in shape, but, it's capable of other deeds. We could use it."

"Is it strong enough to move a planet?" An idea was forming in Jalen's head.

"Theoretically, yes. It can handle all that. We can use it to throw up some timeloops, distract it for an hour or so."

"Mmkay. And what about your friends? How long before we got the cops on our tail 'gain?"

"Maybe twenty minutes."

"Alright then!"

Every wall in the center buzzed with panels of light, a thousand code streams running down the tunnels leading away from the door in every direction. It was like being inside a massive circuit, and they had been compressed into a string of numbers themselves. 

"We're going to have split up, it operates in two parts." said the Doctor. "This changes things a bit- okay a lot- we need people who actually know what they're doing-"

"I'll stay here with River, you go with the rest." said Jalen. "We can handle it."

So they went left and Jalen stayed where they were. River still wasn't sure what was going on.

"What's our end of this?" quipped River. "I swear, it's like you and your father can read each other's minds, except you don't share anything with me."

"We're not actually talking, if that's what you're thinking. We just have a very predictable goal."

"For geniuses."

"Shut up. You want me to share stuff? Here we go. Their end is setting coordinates for the time portals, we're creating the type."

"Can't they just stick it all in one room?" 

Jalen shook his head. "Thing's too big." I could pull remote access...but not right now.

"Alright..."he started to talk to himself while he worked, sonic balanced between his fingers."Let's give this thing the runaround."

He threw open the doors of where his- he supposed it was his, now, or at least he would like it to be- TARDIS was parked, disconnecting the cables from the floor and adding them into the computer station. He didn't say why. River watched over his shoulder and occasionally followed his instructions, although she did most of it without a word from him. She was smarter than he gave her credit for.

Jalen pulled something up on the screen and shiftily stared at River before hitting a few things. He looked so...guilty.

"If we get out of this, what do you think happens next?" River asked.

"Yeah, right."

"Surely you have to have some hope?"

"River, I don't see a version of this where we end up on top. But humor me. What would you do?"

"Live. Travel. Screw around in the universe."

"Basically what you do?"

River nodded. 


You are a conundrum. she thought. Just when I think I know everything, it turns around and slaps me in the face. I watched you die. I watched you break. And then...you fixed yourself. At least I think you did. There's still something not right with you.

Jalen sighed and tapped his fingers against the hard surface of the screen nervously. "River, can you do something for me?"

"Sure, what is it?"

"I need you to go find the Doctor and tell him to go and transfer control of the left temporal arc to me. Got it?"

River was confused, she had thought Jalen had said he couldn't control both sides of the machine, but he knew what he was doing better than she did.

"Back in five." she said.

River turned and ran out, but as soon as she had crossed the threshold she heard the buzz of Jalen's sonic and the door clicked behind her.

"Jalen?!"

No amount of wiggling would open it.

He had locked her out.

"Jalen, open up!" River cried.

There was no reply.

Only one thing to do then- what he had asked her to do.

River took off down the hallway, praying there was a good reason for all this.

***

The other room contained three very busy timelords, a struggling-yet-trying-to-keep-up quartet of Jack, Rose, Jenny, and Luke, and Sarah Jane just sort of standing there and not even trying what she knew she wouldn't get. 

The Doctor detected River approaching without even turning around. "You wanna tell me what's happening?" he snarled.

"What?"

"Jalen just took control of my end. I can't do a thing."

River's heart nearly burst. "He locked me out." she said quickly.

"Jalen, what the hell are you doing." growled Jack to himself. There was a flicker, and River whipped around.

"Jalen! How did you get in here, what's going on?"

He waved his hand. "I'm not really here. It's just a hologram."

"You still only answered-"

"Half the question? I'm doing what I should have done as soon as I had the chance. I'm fixing the universe, fixing everything I've screwed up."

"No- don't go nuts on me now-"

"I'm perfectly in control, River. That's why I can see it."

"See what?"

"What I have to do."

He paused, tossed his sonic in his hand, a grim smile accenting his face. There was an insanity there, but it was that of a mad scientist,not one of a crazed warrior. He thought-he knew-whatever he was doing was good, that idiot. He didn't know a thing, for all his so-called genius. 

"I'm restarting the universe. Minus me."

"Don't you dare."  Rose protested.

"He's bluffing, you can't even do that!" The Doctor was unsuccessfully trying to comfort Rose; he obviously doubted his own words.

"It never had me controlling it before, did it? And you say that like it's going to be a bad thing! I am the root of all your problems! I am the only reason this universe is so fucked up! Think of how much better it'll be! Amy and Rory and Martha, they'll all still be here, all those people who died at my hand, because of me. Mum- you even said it yourself. The only reason you and the Doctor ever got separated in the first place was because of me, because you had to use the transmat to get me out of the way instead of her. That won't happen anymore, you'll be together, and everything will be so much better. All those bright and shining people, brought back of someone who should never existed, and what matters most, you won't be chased across the universe by a creature you can't hope to defeat. The damn thing will never come out of his hole because I never will have been there to attract it!"

Rose was struck speechless by the unnerving truth. It's one of those things you don't want to be true, because it's terrible, but there's no denying it. 

Only River had the courage to speak.

"It won't work. Haven't you done your research? This universe's other idiot tried it before. And Amy remembered, she brought him back. You can't abandon something forever, someone will eventually remember you!" she snapped desperately. 

She hadn't realized, dammit. She hadn't realized quite how much she cared about him, how much- how much she needed him.

"And you think I haven't thought of that?" 

He was so cold, yet so sad.

"I set up a condition," Jalen continued, "to ensure it never happens. The only person who can open the crack, to unite this timeline and whatever comes next, is someone close to my blood, like a sibling. Because they'll never exist, I've got nothing to worry about. Besides, even if they did, they never would have met me and would have nothing to remember. I can never come back."

"And this is it?!" River was torn between fury and sorrow, and somewhere, tears got thrown in there too. "Do you think you're being some kind of hero, by giving yourself up like this?"

She knows she's giving up other people's chances to talk to him, their chances to say goodbye, and that she should stop. 

She can't.

She cares too much.

Jalen laughed sadly. "I'm no hero, River. I'm just a monster who should never have been born. And I'm doing the only thing I could ever be born to do."

He pointed his sonic at what must have been his screen, and his voice was barely a whisper, like he didn't want to let go either. 

"Goodbye."

"Jalen!"

******

A hand scooped down to help her up, and Rose Tyler blinked open her eyes.

"You okay? I know that transmat's a little rough." asks the Doctor.

She smiles and takes his hand. "Hello." she giggles.

"Hello."

The only words for the past two hours are 'emotional trainwreck.' Mickey and her parents are gone, and they aren't coming back. Ever.

But she's got her Doctor. Her goofy, fantastic Doctor, with his lovely spiky hair and the 3D glasses that are still perched on his head.

That's all she needs.

Rose falls into his arms, just taking her time. Breathe in, breathe out. This is real.

She's still here.

"The ghosts are gone, yeah?"

"Every last one." 

Something is nagging her, something terrible, but for the life of her she can't place it. Something so horribly important, but...what?

"Doctor?"

"Yes?"

"Do you ever get the feeling you're forgetting something?"

 

 


TO BE CONTINUED...

 

 

End Notes:

Ok, so I know I orginally promised 20 chapters, and this one started as two, but they were just too short and fit too well together. So 19 it became.

Thanks for sticking with this, guys.

I really mean that.

Thank especially to Marg, for putting up with all my late night excursions. You people don't know fear until you know me plus caffeine. And yet she keeps doing it. Four for you, moirail.

The sequel will be called The Ghosts of Tommorow, and I'll post the first chapter on  April   8  . We'll be keeping to the Tuesday update schedule. Hopefully.

okayyy i love the title

love love love love

considering it took me forever to come up with isn't it great

So yeah, you guys probs want to kill me after that ending. Raise your hand if you saw it coming, I'm legitimately curious.

And while the storyline may have looked to be laid out here, you also know me, and you know it's never that simple. These are just the parameters. It's gonna get a lot more messed up along the way.

Finally, we'll be welcoming a new canon character as a main ( I won't say who, since it won't be for a while), but go ahead and guess. I enjoy watching you guess.

Allons-y!