So! First Doctor Who fic. Started watching a month and a half ago, almost done with season six now. Still a sucker for the whole Doctor and Rose thing, and in general this show may be the death of my sanity. So ANYhoo.
Let's see, I don't own any of these characters, etc bla bla...
This takes place right after Planet of the Dead, once we get back to the usual universe. Please do review so I know how I'm doing and such. Thanks for reading!
Chances We Take
Parallel World, 2015
The ground was cold. There were so many other details she could have focused on, but for some reason she couldn't keep away from noticing how cold the ground was. It was pavement; it wasn't supposed to be this cold. It was supposed to trap the heat of the day for a while, wasn't it?
It hadn't been dark long. The pavement was nearly black. It should have been warmer. Maybe it was her.
Whether it was in her head or not, she had to keep him off the cold ground. The cold couldn't be helping. Maybe if she kept him warm—maybe if she kept him close—he would still be here when help arrived. Maybe he would make it. Maybe somehow the warmth would encourage the miracle they sorely needed.
"Look at me. Focus on me!"
Muddled brown eyes obeyed, and in a moment they were clear again.
Physically he was slipping away, but calling him back to lucidity hadn't been difficult. For a moment she didn't understand, but then her own mind cleared. Maybe his body was mostly human, but his mind was still that of a Time Lord. Of course it wouldn't be so easy to put it out of commission.
Of course, that probably meant he was also much more aware of the pain than a typical human would have been in that moment.
Rose clutched her husband's upper body close in on her lap, brushing the damp hair from his grime-smeared forehead. "Hold on. Help's coming." The rest of the team had already called for it. The problem was they were in half of the middle of nowhere. "You are not goin' anywhere on me, you understand?"
"That would…be difficult," he gasped quietly. "I c….Rose, I c-can't feel my legs…can't feel…"
She swallowed, found his hand and threaded her fingers through his. "That's probably a good thing," she answered honestly.
They were crushed, she didn't know how badly, and still trapped under the wreckage she knelt beside now. She knew he'd assessed that when he glanced down and made a face.
She almost laughed. She might have laughed, if that were all. But that wasn't all, and she held on tighter when his body tensed from the movement he'd induced. He gasped and slumped back onto her knees. He was trembling now.
He understood now. His head was clear, and the pain was shaking him. Or maybe it was fear. His hands clasped uselessly at the gashes along his abdomen from the creature they'd just managed to kill.
He hadn't wanted to have to kill it. Of course he hadn't. But it was loose on earth and it was killing humans and it wouldn't listen to reason.
Nearly six years as a human and he still refused to carry a real weapon. She loved him for it, but right now she would give anything to go back and change it.
"I know! I know…I know…" She tried to calm him. She stroked his cheek with her thumb, wiping away the first few tears as she did it. "You'll be all right. We'll get you to a hospital and you'll heal up good as new and back to work in a few weeks, yeah? We've been through worse. You'll be fine."
"No. I won't be."
"Sure you will," she shot back quickly.
He pulled in a steadying breath, grimaced, and when he was calm he found her eyes. "Rose, my body is shutting down," he said quietly. "I can feel it. If medics arrived now—right now—they still couldn't do anything for me."
"You know why I'm still lucid. I saw you figure it out. I saw it in your eyes."
There was a struggle in his eyes then, a war with the pain and a groan bitten back. He tensed again before he'd beaten it back once more.
He swallowed. "I love you…"
Three little words; the words that began everything for them on that beach that day…when he was the one to answer her question, and the original Doctor chose to walk away and let him. She couldn't say it had all been easy since then, but it had been a life, together, and it had been a good one.
"It's not fair," Rose protested.
Her Doctor's brave face disappeared almost immediately. "No. No it's not."
There was a real cry of pain this time. She kissed his forehead and sobbed once. "You're not supposed to go yet. There's a Tardis growing in our garage! Another year or two, you said. That's all. And it'll be ready and we're supposed to be out there again, doing what we do best. The Doctor, in the Tardis, with Rose Tyler, remember?"
"I know…and I'm sorry. I'm so sorry. I should've…should've just given you the normal life together part of you always wanted…part of me always wanted. I should have been content with that! I was supposed to be human. I shouldn't have pushed us toward staying with the Torchwood here. I shouldn't have kept chasing…aliens, and-and adventure, and…"
Her chest ached, listening to him go on like that. She silenced him with a kiss. He returned it eagerly, desperately, but she felt him trembling still through the contact.
"But you wouldn't really be you without it, would you?" she answered gently. "I don't regret it—not any of it. We had the best of both worlds, didn't we?"
"Literally, really…" he trailed weakly.
This time Rose did laugh. She laughed a little, because he did. Because for a moment the familiar spark was there. He grinned, and his eyes lit up, and for a moment nothing else mattered.
Then his back arched away from her knees as he gasped, because he was still hurting terribly and there was nothing she could do about it. She didn't even have an extra layer of anything to remove to press against the wounds.
She choked back another sob because she remembered. She remembered being here before. Not really here, but with the Doctor dying in her arms. She'd done this before, before this Doctor existed. She'd knelt on cold wet pavement and wondered if it were the end.
This time it was. This would not end as well as that. This time there wouldn't be any regenerating, or healing, or anything else.
He was limp on her knees, spent. "I'm sorry," he said again then. "I was supposed to spend the rest of my life with you…it wasn't supposed to be this short." He was crying now, not because he was dying but because she would be left behind. She knew him well enough to know that was what he cared about.
There were plane tickets on the counter at home. A present for their fourth anniversary next week. The new Tardis wasn't ready yet; in lieu of saving the world from the planet's surface the rest of the earth was all they had to explore for now.
"I wanted to take you…everywhere. I wanted to…give you a family and take them all everywhere." He stopped to groan loudly. Rose stroked his hair back and didn't know what else to do. She held him.
"It isn't your fault."
"It feels like it…"
"No. Don't. It isn't." He looked in her eyes for a long time then and he seemed, at least, to believe her. He tried to lift his hand to her cheek, but he wasn't strong enough anymore. She held it there for him. "This is really, really stupid, but it isn't your fault."
He laughed again, once, and there was joy and heartbreak on his face at once. "I love you, Rose Tyler."
"I love you, too."
He smiled, gulped back when he nearly cried again, and his eyes closed. For a moment everything in Rose was frozen, because she was afraid that was it. She was afraid he was gone.
He wasn't, but when his eyes opened again they were hazy. "Oh…" he mumbled. "There it goes then…everything fuzzy and strange…"
"Doctor…!" Her voice rose in alarm.
She didn't often call him that aloud anymore. That was who he was to her, but in this world he was John Smith—old friend of the Tyler family to begin with, when he started in this world. Now the husband of Rose Tyler. She'd kept her own name because his wasn't quite real anyhow.
He heard her. He struggled to focus on her, one more time. "Rose…we had a…a plan. Tell me…tell me again. The plan."
She stroked his hair still, and his cheek. "Well…we uhm…we got married already, didn't we? Did that. Had adventures, right here on Earth. Space and time again are next, you know, soon as the Tardis is ready. We'll be right back out there…and it'll be all new this time. New universe, new worlds maybe. It's all different, and we're gonna see it, yeah? Then…"
Her voice broke, and she had to clear her throat to continue. "Then we'll have kids, and we'll show it all to them…have someone to leave the Tardis to when we're old and gray and everythin.'"
"Right…old and gray," he mumbled. "I was supposed to die old and grey." His eyes closed again. "So…we're old and grey then."
"Yeah…old and grey"
"Where are we…?"
Rose had to swallow past the lump in her throat again. "We've uhm…we've got the Tardis parked on a mountain…and we've…" She laughed weakly at the image in her own head. "We've got rockin' chairs out in front of it like proper old people, looking out over the most beautiful valley in the universe."
"Sounds like a good plan, that…" His eyes flickered open blearily, just for a second, and the corner of his mouth quirked up. Rose kissed him again, and this time he wasn't trembling.
This time when she pulled back he wasn't moving at all.
"Doctor? No…Doctor! John! Doctor, please…!"
Three Days Later
Jackie refused to let her go, keeping her locked in an embrace for what seemed like forever. Rose didn't really mind, for once.
She couldn't know when she would see her mother again. If ever.
"You're sure you need to do this, sweetheart? You've got a family here…the three of us, at least. We love you…"
She hugged her father, and her little brother. When she straightened from squeezing little Tony she pushed out an unsteady breath. "I have to find him, Mum. I just…I have to. I'd take all of you, but…your home is here now. You're settled. You're happy. I can't just…"
"You've been happy here too, love."
"I was." She swallowed, shook her head to clear it. "It doesn't matter. They've only got enough energy to bring me along, just barely, and it's taken them years to recover enough to go back at all. I have to go, and I have to go alone."
She felt them behind her then, moving closer. She felt it in the warmth that crept over her skin.
Rose Tyler. Do you understand the danger?
They were inter-dimensional beings, cut off from the other half of the last of their kind when the rifts closed those years ago—the last time she saw the Doctor. They'd shown themselves not long after, proven themselves to be peaceful and only in need of a safe place to rest until they cold travel home. They were originally from the same universe Rose was born in. They were made to travel between, but the rifts had made it easier for a while. The sudden closure had…injured them, as far as Rose could understand it.
After all, all she saw when she looked at them was a small cloud of colorful light. When they spoke, it was telepathically.
"I know what I'm doing," she said. "You explained everything."
We must be clear. It is not often physical beings travel with us. You must be temporarily converted to pass through, and it is dangerous. There may be unforeseen difficulties, or time shifts while passing through.
"Rose…" Jackie said anxiously.
She turned again to take her mother's arms. "Mum, I'm going to be fine."
They knew of the Doctor. Once they passed through, they assured her, they could take her to him immediately. They could detect him, and the Tardis. She'd known for a while now that they knew of him.
"Then why doesn't he know about you?" she'd asked once.
The Time Lords always believed travel between parallel worlds was all but impossible—and only dangerous when it was. For the sake of staving off chaos it was always easiest to allow them and the rest of the universes to continue to believe that.
"But it is really only dangerous—for those of us in physical form, anyway."
Yes. But you have helped us, as did your mate. You are in such distress, now. We will help you, if you will accept the danger.
That was yesterday. She'd been here, because she couldn't bear to be at home. There were memories of her husband here, too, but at least here there were other people.
Yesterday she'd turned them down. Yesterday she thought of her parents, and Tony. Yesterday she'd wanted to pretend she would be all right.
Then this morning she was here again. This morning she sat stiffly through John Smith's memorial service here at this world's Torchwood. She sat, and she couldn't breathe. She was surround by what little family she had left and the friends she'd made since she'd come here, but she'd never felt so alone.
"I changed my mind. Take me with you."
She ran to them, as soon as it was over. She was crying, but it wasn't a rash decision. Not really. There would never be another chance like this, to get through. She had to take it. She had to take it because she would never love anyone else, and she knew it. And they were leaving today.
"Please take me with you."
For you, and for the Doctor. We will deliver you to his other self. Thank you for all that the both of you have done.
They waited, while she went home with her mother to change, and to pick up a thing or two. She couldn't take much—only what she could zip into her jacket pockets.
She said goodbye to the growing Tardis. When she pressed a hand to it's still-sealed, unfinished door and told it why she had to go it seemed to understand. It had felt his death, mostly human though he was. It didn't want to live without him, either. Once she was gone, she understood, it would shut down its own growth cycle. It would never be born. Rose was sorry, and it seemed to understand that, too.
"Don't go," Jackie tried, one more time.
Her mother sighed. "I'm sorry…that this happened."
"Give him our best, then," Pete said, smiling unevenly.
She nodded wordlessly. She hugged them all one more time and backed up quickly into the embrace of her transport before she could change her mind again. "I love you. All of you."
You are ready, Rose Tyler?
Her gaze strayed across the room, to the desk that had belonged to John Smith until three days ago—the desk that was empty now. From here she could see the frame on the desk; their wedding photo. She blinked away tears and nodded sharply.
Original Universe, 2009
The Doctor was alone. He was trying to remember the thrill he'd felt when he helped Christina to escape the police instead of what Carmen had said to him.
He knew her ability was real. He knew it was a prophecy, but he refused to think about it now.
He was moving—just moving. It was just him, in the Tardis, alone in space because he didn't know where he wanted to go. He had his library and his swimming pool. Usually he would be somewhere, always somewhere, always going, just to keep himself from thinking. But it didn't seem like that was going to work right now, so here he was.
That was why he was caught off guard when the Tardis shook. He shot into the control room and he couldn't quite believe the readouts. "What? What…?"
The shaking stopped. The readings were still there. There was also some kind of strange glow from behind him now, he realized.
Then there was a voice, behind him where the light was, and he couldn't believe that, either.