Okay, this one is long and ya'll please please do review. No point without ya'll, after all. So much much thanks for reading and reviewing, especially to those of ya'll I have heard from, and I hope you like it! Hope everyone had a happy New Year!
Rose thought she could keep her cool. It would be easier if she could, maybe. The Kadhar would leave them alone in their cells again eventually, and they could find their way out again. They'd have a better plan this time.
But the Kadhar would take their anger out on the Doctor before they left. She was sure of it. Punish them for the escape attempt even though they'd knowingly allowed it to happen. It would only be this time, with any luck, and then they could make their getaway for real. But the closer they came back to the lockup, the more Rose was sure she couldn't do it. She couldn't stand by while they hurt him. It didn't help that it seemed the Doctor had gone through the same thought process; he knew what was going to happen, and his face was set in a frown as they were strong-armed down the corridor.
They could do it. They could get out of this. They did have the other sonic, after all. If they could break away and lose the guards they could hide somewhere that should otherwise be locked until the search died down. It could work. If the Doctor was willing to go along with it…willing to throw a few punches. She could handle herself, but he'd have to pick up his end and she didn't know if he would do that. Maybe he'd had his share of scuffles in his time, but he didn't like violence when he could avoid it. Not now. He'd reached a point in his long life where he couldn't stand it anymore. Certainly not after the Time War. It was danger and mystery and adventure in general he loved; not hurting people.
John had helped her to understand it more than she had before. He told her those long stories the Doctor never had the chance to tell her—his past and the things that shaped him. Though she realized once more that John really had become a different man. If it were her husband she was with right now she wouldn't be wondering about whether to make a move. John would have done it. They'd have been thinking the same thoughts. He'd begun as the Doctor, and he never preferred violence and to the end still never carried a weapon, but he was human. Maybe it made him more aware of the fact that he wasn't invincible…or gave him a certain dose of reality, maybe. If something needed to be done to get them both out of here in one piece, he would have done it in a heartbeat.
Rose didn't more or less love either her husband or the Doctor for their differences on that point. They just were.
Damn. There it was; the door.
She had to do something. Whatever that woman wanted to do now, it would be worse. Rose knew she was going to try something whether it was a good idea or not. She couldn't not do it.
The commander and her entourage had fallen behind. Maybe she had something else to take care of, first. Either way, they had some space as they approached the door. When one of their guards opened it and the others made to herd them through the opening, it seemed the perfect moment. They had to break formation enough to get through, and it wasn't as tight.
The Doctor's troubled gaze snapped to her in that moment, just when she was about to move. It seemed he read her in an instant, and he shook his head quickly. For that instant she knew he was right. She shouldn't. It could end badly.
It's not fair. He doesn't deserve this.
Something in her snapped, and Rose ignored him.
The Doctor knew what Rose wanted to do. He felt it, at the last moment.
He'd hoped—since she and his counterpart had remained with Torchwood all this time—that she would have enough experience to know it would be better if she didn't try anything now. She'd already seemed that way, really, the last time he saw her. Almost like Martha. Almost a soldier, except she still liked her bright colors. More confident. It made him proud and it hurt, all at the same time.
Then again, if she was going to try something now it probably had nothing to do with any amount of experience or lack of such.
She's been through enough. She's seen her husband die in her arms; who would want to bear anything more after that?
He shook his head. He tried to stop her, but she didn't listen. Rose looked him in the eyes, but she spun and rammed an elbow up into the face of the Kadharian behind her anyway.
Then it was done. The Doctor didn't want them to hurt her, so he helped.
He took two of them out relatively quickly. They weren't expecting to be punched in the face at this point, so it wasn't difficult seeing as he was stronger than any human and probably stronger than them, too.
"Sorry, mates," he muttered. He looked for Rose, and she'd downed another one and was looking for him.
"Come on!" she called. She snatched his hand and they spun for the door—
But they were already cut off again. The commander's entourage had caught up to them. Wherever they'd stopped, it had only been for a moment.
Knew it was a bad idea.
"No," Rose hissed under her breath.
She was already in motion. She tried to launch herself through a gap and drag him with her, but they were caught and violently separated. The first soldiers were recovering, and they weren't happy. The Doctor found himself yanked backwards while Rose was shoved into the wall. She was still trying to throw punches.
"Rose, stop!" he called anxiously. Maybe she heard him, but she didn't stop before one of the Kadhar had thrown her down. "Oi! Leave her alone!"
He thought he heard a faint clatter. Rose seemed fine, but she was scrabbling for something when they yanked her back to her feet. She was cursing under her breath, and when she was up the Doctor caught sight of it—the other sonic, on the floor in the dim corner. None of the Kadhar seemed to notice, at least, but if they were put back in their cells it would be out of reach.
The screwdriver came out of her pocket when she hit the ground. Rose tried to snatch it back up before they grabbed her again, but she failed. Instead in reaching for it she pushed it into a spin. It landed against the wall and in the shadows, which was good. It shouldn't be discovered. But she wouldn't be able to reach there from inside the cell.
No no no….!
They wrangled her back into her cell and locked the door. They didn't bother with the chains. With the Doctor, on the other hand, it took four or five of them to get him inside and snap the cuffs around his wrists again. Somehow it made Rose feel a little better that he didn't make it easy for them.
I'm sorry. Oh god, I'm sorry.
It was her fault. She hadn't fixed anything. This was still going to happen, and now they might have no way out at all.
No; they'd find a way. It wouldn't be as easy, but they had to.
"You don't have to do this," Rose said, now that the Kadhar commander was here to listen. Having stayed clear of the scuffle, she stormed in now as her subordinates cleared from the Doctor's cell and slammed the door in his face.
He was not on the same page. "Just let her go," he was saying intently, motioning to Rose. "This is about me; you don't need her."
Go where? She couldn't fly the Tardis without him. Well…he always said the Tardis would take her home, at least, if anything happened to him. A program. But where was home anymore? With him was the only home she had left.
The commander ignored Rose, and raised an eyebrow at the Doctor. "Of course we need her. You don't want her here; that is reason enough." She took a step closer to the bars. "Don't force my hand, Doctor. If you don't, I have no reason to harm the woman. We are not what you may think us to be; we are still civilized, after all. She is likely innocent, whoever she is. When you are dead, we will release her."
"When he's what?" Rose demanded. It came out forcefully enough that the commander looked at her. "You can't. He's the last Time Lord. Are you really gonna do that? You'd really commit genocide?"
"But it isn't that, is it? He's the last. He can't repopulate his species on his own; they'll be gone entirely soon enough in any case. We may be speeding the inevitable, but that's of little matter." The woman's eyes narrowed. "I'm certain there are others who would prefer it this way, as it is."
"That's just reasoning it away. And even if that did make sense, it's still murder. It's still wrong. ALL of this is wrong!"
At that the Kadhar commander advanced on Rose's cell, and her voice rose as she towered over the human from the other side of the bars. "Our planet is gone! There will be no more Time Lords, but we have children who will have no place to call home. We will have future generations that will suffer! In light of that, I think we may be forgiven."
"Good luck with that," Rose shot back, glowering up at her.
The Doctor approached the dividing bars between the cells, as close as he could get to the two of them. "Listen to me. You're not wrong, Commander. My people are just…just gone, but yours are suffering. That's true. I wouldn't contest that, and I'm so, so sorry. I'm sorry. If I could change it, I would, but I can't. You know that. And-and I won't fight you. Not if you let her go."
What was he doing? They could find another way out of here. She hoped.
But what if they didn't? Rose found the Doctor's eyes for a moment, and she understood. What if they didn't? He might die here. Really die. And if he could spare her that he would. If he convinced them to let her go he might still find a way out, true. It might still be all right. But he didn't want to take the chance. If it wasn't going to be all right, he wanted her away from here. He wanted her safe. The look he gave her was enough to tell her all of that.
No. She wanted to stay. She opened her mouth to protest, but he shook his head again. Just enough for her to see.
The Kadhar woman was looking at them. Her eyes were narrow as they flicked back and forth between them. Finally they rested on Rose's gently swollen middle before settling on the Doctor's face.
"The child is yours." It wasn't a question.
"The child is human," he answered quickly.
"A scan would answer for certain."
"If you touch her, I—!"
The Doctor's sudden anger was cut short by a shout of pain that sent him staggering and quickly dropped him sprawling on his backside. The remote was in the commander's hand, and the chains crackled. This time the faint sound was more pronounced, and there was a barely visible bluish glow about the chains. The color was tinged with green, and Rose suddenly felt sick.
It stopped as suddenly as it had started, and the Doctor was left on the ground catching his breath and staring up at the Kadhar woman incredulously. "Wh-what…?"
"You asked what else we had…'up our sleeves,' I believe is how your beloved humans would put it, Doctor. Do you like this trick? Much more than simple electricity. The science of a Dalek extermination beam, reverse engineered and reduced to a tiny fraction of its usual power."
"That's impossible. They're gone."
"Perhaps. But they weren't always, were they?"
"You can't," Rose protested.
The commander raised an eyebrow at her. "Can't what?" The Doctor was trying to stand, but another press of the control sent him back down to his knees. The sudden groan that came with it made Rose flinch.
"Don't," she said then. She hoped it was firm, but she knew she was pleading. She fought to keep her hands from shaking at her sides. The best she could do was to ball them up.
The Doctor took a deep breath from where he was kneeling. "Why haven't you lot found a new planet to settle yet? If you need help, let me help you. I can help you find one—one much like the one you lost, if that's what you want. I know it won't be the same. It won't make up for anything, but your children will have a home. Just let me help."
"You have done enough."
"No—!" Rose jumped at the bars. She pushed an arm through, reaching desperately for the control in the woman's hand as she seemed to be adjusting the settings, but of course it was useless. The commander easily withdrew from the bars, out of the way, and turned the power on again.
Halfway to his feet once more, the Doctor screamed and collapsed entirely.
This time it wasn't a short burst. This time it didn't stop. Alternately he curled in on himself or his back arched against the floor for a moment. His lanky body shook, his face was a twisted mask, and the screaming didn't stop but for barely gasped breaths.
The world seemed to dissolve around him—and quickly, at that. In short order there was only pain, spreading from his wrists to every nerve ending he had. That was how Dalek extermination beams worked, after all. Frying the central nervous system from the outside in.
Everyone who'd ever died that way had died in agony, but at least they only had to feel it for three or four seconds. Then they were dead. Granted, the Doctor was certain that was an eternity for them…and he'd felt it. He knew it was. He'd been there, done that, somehow survived it because of an extra hand in the right place at the right time…
But that ended. He didn't have time to think then about how much it hurt.
Now he did. It didn't end. He was sure it couldn't hurt as much as a full power beam, but it was worse than any simple electric current. And it didn't stop. It stayed. It refused to release him, and was that him screaming? That was him, wasn't it?
He could feel it burning through him; tearing, ripping at his nerves. Damage. There would be damage, wouldn't there? At least in the long run. That was probably the point. Not only to kill him, but to do it slowly. As painfully as possible.
He thought he heard Rose, but whoever was screaming was too loud.
Wait. Him. He'd forgotten again. It was him. He could feel the cold metal floor pressed into the side of his face now, and the strange positions his limbs were in. Right. Brilliant.
Rose. Oh god. Rose was here. Rose was seeing this.
Reality. The Doctor was a gasping, sweating mess curled on the floor, and the energy burning through him had finally, finally stopped but everything hurt. The fingernails of one hand tried to dig into the unforgiving metal he was lying on for no other reason than it was there. The fingernails of the other were digging into his palm and trapped under his chest. He was relatively certain he was trembling.
Get up. He had to get up. The Kadhar had to know they hadn't won. They wouldn't beat him. He had to get up. He had to let Rose know he was all right.
Was he all right? Well…that was all relative, wasn't it?
GET UP. Sometimes the voice in his head wasn't his voice. Sometimes it was his other voices…scolding him, in this case. He fancied this time it sounded most like him when he wore leather. Grumpy. Which time? Didn't matter.
Somehow he managed it. One step at a time. Get the hands flat and evenly spaced to push up. Push up and back, sit back on his haunches, hands for support again…no no, don't lean that far over or you'll be back on the floor in no time. Why was everything spinning?
Make everything stop spinning. Get one knee under him, steady enough to shove. He managed, swaying dangerously at first, but he was up. No, no, swaying too far…He stumbled to the post at the center of the small cell and used it to straighten himself again before he let go of it.
They were staring at him, of course. Rose worriedly. Her hands were curled around the bars between them. The commander, though, merely smirked. The Doctor leveled a glare at her, but she only looked more smug as she spun on her heel, collected her guards, and left.
Rose waited until all of the Kadhar were gone before focusing on him anxiously. "Doctor?"
He opened his mouth to say he was all right. To reassure her was all he wanted, but nothing came out. The room was spinning again, and he was suddenly aware that he was acutely nauseous. He couldn't quite breathe correctly.
He didn't have time to decide what was to be done about it before the floor rushed up to meet him again.
It was a struggle to keep her teeth from chattering. Rose was shaking inside and trying not to show it. Some sort of shock then, maybe?
She shouldn't be doing this. They'd been in bad scrapes before. She and the Doctor. She and John. Then again, not like this. Not really. Not…listening to him scream for what seemed like forever.
The Doctor looked at her, and his mouth opened. He looked as if he wanted to tell her it would be all right. He was all right. She wanted to hear him say it.
But then his eyelids dropped wearily, and he grimaced and hit the ground and didn't move.
"D-Doctor?" Rose called more urgently. She was shaking harder now, and her breath came short. She had to force herself to take deep breaths. She could do this. She knew how to deal with this. By the time the Doctor sat up again only a minute or two later, she'd stopped shaking.
"Doctor?" she asked, one more time.
His face was ashen, but he focused on her more easily now. His eyebrows went up in his universal signal for 'well, I'm here.' He used the post to pull himself back up, and it was clear now that his breathing was ragged. Perhaps he'd been trying to hide it before, when they weren't alone.
The Doctor just stood there for a minute or two, leaning heavily on the post. His brow furrowed as if he were trying to make a decision. Whatever it was, the answer seemed to come when he twisted quickly, nearly fell, and took the quick two or three steps to the far wall of bars. He caught them, lowered himself not-so-gracefully to his knees in the far back corner of the cell, and wretched. His back was to her, but it sounded awful.
"Blimey. Now I won't eat bananas for a while. That's just sad; bananas are good," he complained after a moment, when it stopped.
He used the back wall to get himself up again and for support as he made his way back toward Rose's cell. Rose went to the back corner to meet him.
The Doctor nearly bumped into the bars, and took a steadying breath as he grabbed them. "Hi."
"Hey…" Rose trailed. Tentatively she covered his hands with her own. "Come here often?"
"Not if I can avoid it. Oh…" He grunted as his knees went out from under him. He tried to regain them, but she squeezed his hands and shook her head.
"No, no, it's all right. Just sit down…"
He didn't seem to have much choice as he went down and settled against the wall. Rose did the same, and swallowed hard. "It's my fault. I'm sorry. If I hadn't—"
"No it's not. Don't. It's not your fault," the Doctor answered quickly. He suppressed a grimace before he found her eyes. "Don't. Blame them, blame me and my big mouth, blame bad timing or put it all the way back on the thing that killed John, if you want, but don't blame yourself. I understand," he said quietly.
It took a moment, to process what he was saying. That he understood what might have been going through her head in that moment. Why she'd acted the way she had. That he didn't blame her.
Rose blinked back tears, and reached through the bars to find one of his hands in his lap. Their fingers threaded together, and all she could do was hold on. "What do we do?" she asked.
"We either figure out how to get the sonic back from over there in the corner, or we come up with a different plan, is all. I may have one, I think. If I can get the panel off that post. I may be able to get these chains off and then use them to short the doors."
"Maybe," Rose agreed. "Just be careful."
"Course! You know me." He was trying to be cheerful, but it didn't help when his tired smile collapsed and he cut off in a groan. His free hand clutched at his chest.
"What is it?" She started to reach through with her own free hand, fingers stretched toward his face. "What still hurts?"
"Everything," he gasped. It came out in a rush of air, probably before he'd had a chance to think his answer through.
"Then why are you…?" She reached for the hand twisted in his shirt now instead.
"It's uhm…it's just…well it's mostly there, I suppose. And my wrists…arms. Ah. Oh, blimey…"
"What?" Rose swallowed again. She didn't really want to ask the next question, but it had to be asked. "What would happen? If they kept doing that to you? What are they trying to do?"
The Doctor really looked like he did not want to answer that question. He looked at her sidelong for a while before he said anything. "It attacks the nervous system," he said finally. "And of course any sort of energy overload is going weaken the heart…or hearts, in my case. That's probably how it would kill me, eventually. That's how any Dalek victim dies; fried nervous system, hearts stop. Just usually it's much quicker."
He was far away now. "I'd only have to lose one heart. The second wouldn't be far behind." He grimaced, pulled his hands free and flexed his fingers. "Course, wrists as ground zero…I'll probably lose most of the feeling in my hands long before then. Rest of my arms, too. If I'm going to get to that panel I'd better do it soon…"
Rose quickly snatched his hands again to get his attention. "All right, stop."
The Doctor focused on her again, apologetically now. "Sorry…ignore me. Just thinking everything through. I'm going to get us out of here, Rose. We'll be fine."
"Good. I won't accept anythin' other than 'we.'"
He made a face then, and leaned in closer to the bars between them. "I'd rather it were that way…but you have to know I won't let anything happen to you." She opened her mouth, but he cut her off. He held their twined hands to his chest, and he held her eyes. "I'll do what I can, and I know you will, but I will not let any harm come to either of you. I would die first. You know that."
You've done it once. You shouldn't have to do it again. She tried to say it aloud, but it wouldn't come out. She had to tell herself they would get out of this just fine. There was no need to worry about it. "Stubborn," was all she managed to mutter.
"Never made it a secret, have I?"
"You are all I have left, Rose," he told her. He was pleading with her to understand where he stood. "And the child you're carrying will be all that's left of Gallifrey when I'm gone…save the Tardis, if she survives me. Because I will be gone someday. Even if it's not here or now that it happens. Not even Time Lords live forever."
"But…John was human. The baby's human."
"True. For the most part. But Time Lord DNA works differently than human. It has to. We have to be able to completely change our bodies and yet retain our memories. That takes some complicated stuff."
"What are you saying?"
"To simplify it horribly, even though the baby will seem entirely human…it's not. Even when it's suppressed Time Lord genetic code doesn't…degrade, like human DNA. It's entirely dominant, too. If your husband had been born normally of a Time Lord and a human he would have been completely Time Lord, for all practical purposes. He only manifested mostly human the way he did because it was a metacrisis; not a birth. The blueprint for a Time Lord was still there, beneath the surface. It'll be there in your child, too. It will always be there, in his or her descendants, no matter how long the line may last."
He tried to straighten up a bit more. He didn't entirely succeed, but his eyebrows were up excitedly and it still seemed he was getting some of his energy back. "Don't you see?" he said intently. "Do you understand what you've done for this universe? There will always be a chance that code could become active again. I'm not sure how, but it's possible. It's a chance. There could be Time Lords again someday, Rose. Time Lords not…stained, by the Time War. Time Lords with that little bit of human…the part of you that changed me. The part that made me better."
The Doctor smiled in wonder. "You see? You came back, and you brought the future of Gallifrey with you."
Rose only gaped at him for a while. "You're kidding," she managed finally.
"I'm not," he chuckled.
"Were you planning to tell me this?"
"Of course. I was waiting for the right moment. I didn't know how long I should wait. It's a lot to take in, and on top of everything else…"
She let out a breath. "Right." She was leaning into the bars a little more heavily then she thought when she realized her head was down and she was staring at the metal floor. "Oi," she sighed. Before she picked her head up she felt lips press briefly against her forehead. She hadn't realized there was quite enough room between the bars for that, and she laughed weakly as she looked back up at the Doctor. "Nothing's ever simple, is it? Not for us."
"I'll be there. If I have any say in it at all."
"I know," she smiled thankfully. Then she frowned, because something didn't line up. "Wait…if Time Lord genetic code is dominant like that, then what she said…she's wrong. You could start over on your own. With anyone. You don't need…this. Us." she said, glancing down at her middle.
The Doctor shook his head slowly. "But I wouldn't have. Not even to bring them back. I can't do that, and you know why."
No more Time Lords with life spans like his. He'd have outlived whoever he had children with, and Rose knew he would never have children unless it was with someone he loved. He wouldn't think it was right otherwise. And outliving the people he loved was the one thing he was most afraid of. Even after so many centuries, even after he'd been through it so many times, he feared it just the same. Then again, who wouldn't?
Her heart ached for him. John had gotten what the Doctor wanted; a finite life where he didn't have to outlive anyone anymore. That version of him could have that. But the Doctor himself could never have it.
"Why didn't she know that, though? If her people knew the Time Lords so well in the old days…"
He shrugged a bit. "It's not something we broadcast. There were never many Time Lords who married off-world in any case, so it wasn't hard to keep quiet. I suppose it was just advantageous to keep it to ourselves. It's certainly a good thing the Kadhar don't know now."
They settled back against the wall again, shoulder to shoulder but for the bars. The Doctor still held her hand, but his head lolled back on the wall. Both of them were spent.
"I just need to rest a bit longer…then I can see about that panel," he murmured. He was still pale, so she was glad he was admitting to needing the rest.
They were quiet for a while. Rose closed her own eyes and rested, but she couldn't do it for long.
"Could you even hear me through that stupid door?" she asked out of the silence.
The Doctor's eyes opened. He only looked at her for a moment, but his gentle hold on her hand tightened a little. "Yeah. I could."