Runaway Bride pt 1
“We’re in flight,” The Doctor protested, moving back to the console while Rose stepped toward the woman. “It’s impossible,” His voice squeaked as he started pushing buttons.
“I demand you tell me where I am!” The Bride yelled, shifting as if she stomped her foot.
“Hey, ‘s alright.” Rose said as calmly as she could, a smile on her face. “You’re on a ship called the TARDIS.” She explained, and the woman snorted with an eye roll. “’S true,” Rose said, cutting the redhead off before she could say anything. “My name’s Rose, and that’s the Doctor.”
The bride studied Rose’s face. “What he do, kidnap you? Like he did me?”
“I didn’t kidnap you,” the Doctor protested, and Rose glanced over her shoulder to see the perplexed frown he was giving the various monitors and controls.
“Yeah, you did!” The woman yelled at him from around Rose. “Like you did this poor girl, except you didn’t do it when she was half way down the aisle on the most important day of her life!” Her voice got increasingly loud, and Rose winced and leaned back as if she could avoid the sound. “Wha’did he do to you, huh? Drug yeah? Say he’d hurt ya if you rat him out? Because I’m telling ya, my husband and I, once he is my husband, will be having the police on him.”
“I promise you ….” Rose said, realizing for the first time she had no idea what this woman’s name was.
“Donna,” She offered.
“Donna,” Rose repeated, smiling. “I promise you he didn’t do anything to you or me.”
“Then why were you crying?” Donna asked, her voice still filled with rage and frustration taking on a softer tone.
Rose’s smile faltered. “He just let me say goodbye to my Mum.” Rose confessed.
“Let you?” Donna’s rage kicked back up again. Snatching Rose’s hand, she turned sharply. “You’re coming with me, and we’re getting out of here.”
“No, no, Donna, don’t.” Rose started to say, remaining just within reach of Donna as the redhead threw the TARDIS doors open. Rose shifted to reach for her if need be, but Donna stood stiffly, staring out at the beautiful supernova before them.
“But,” She stuttered. “But that?” She pointed.
“We’re in space.” The Doctor said, and Rose glanced over to see him walking down the ramp with his hands in his pockets. “This is my space ship.”
“How are we breathing?” Donna asked, sounding stunned but awed.
“The TARDIS is protecting us.” The Doctor answered.
“Donna,” Rose said, putting her hands on the bride’s arms. “You’re gettin’ goosebumps, you should come inside.”
Donna nodded, allowing Rose to coax her away while the Doctor shut the doors.
“I don’t understand,” He said as he partially jogged toward the console, passing them as the made their way more slowly up the ramp. “And I understand everything. But it’s impossible for a human being to lock themselves on to the TARDIS.”
“Human?” Donna said, partially coming out of her daze. “Is that optional?”
“For me it is.” The Doctor replied as he ducked below the console and started to rummage for something.
Donna looked at Rose over her shoulder, glancing at her hands where they were placed on her arms. “And you’re an alien too?”
“No, I’m human.” Rose replied.
“Oh,” Donna said, sounding as if the revelation didn’t sit any better with her.
Rose glanced up and watched as the Doctor bounded toward them with a medical instrument in his hands. The one medical doctors used to check out the eye. She searched for the word in her head as the Doctor rambled in Donna’s face, trying to find it, knowing it began with an O. Otoscope? No, that wasn’t the one. It was something else.
Her attention was pulled back to Donna and the Doctor, noting the bright red imprint on his face the looked nearly identical to the way it did after receiving a good slap from her mum.
The Doctor looked positively taken aback, and mildly offended. “What did you do that for?” He asked.
“Get me to the church!” Donna commanded.
Rose sucked her lips in to stifle a laugh as the Doctor sniffed and turned away from them in an almost childish manor. “Fine,” He said, grumbling something else under his breath as he returned to the controls.
“Where were you getting married, Donna?” Rose asked, giving the woman a brief squeeze on her arms before letting go of her.
“Saint Mary's, Hayden Road, Chiswick, London, England, Earth, the Solar System.” She said, the anger that the Doctor stirred up in her seeping out with every word as she marched over to the jump seat, plopping down and folding her arms.
“Chiswick,” The Doctor repeats as he puts in the coordinates.
Rose gripped the rail as she made her way over to Donna, bracing herself for the inevitable jerking motion of the TARDIS. There was a lot she wanted to say, yet nothing came to mind that didn’t make her sound like a complete ass. And the look Donna gave her as she came to a stop by the jump seat, mixed with worry and suspicion, certainly put a hindrance on any further explaining Rose was willing to do.
As the TARDIS went in flight, She hummed miserably. Glancing around the console room Rose tried to find an indication as to what could be putting the ship in such distress. It wasn’t any more rocky than normal, though you would never think that by the wide-eyed and white knuckle grip Donna had on the jump seat. Still, while Rose may not have been as in-tune with the ship as the Doctor was she knew something was off. Giving the rail a little stroke, she dared to move toward the console. It was more of a lurch than a step, but Rose caught her self on the edge of the panel, gripping it as she shifted a little closer to the Doctor.
“Something’s not right.” He mumbled as if he was talking to himself.
The TARDIS landed with her usual shuddering thud, and Donna seemed to understand what it meant as she bolted from the seat and marched toward the door.
“I felt it too,” Rose said, her eyes on Donna.
“It’s like she’s recalibrating or something.” He said, squinting his eyes and scrunching his face. “What’s going on, Old Girl?” He asked as he stroked the time rotor just as a unhappy growl from Donna echoed back to them.
“I’m going to go check on her,” Rose said, gesturing to the doors. “Something doesn’t sound right out there.”
The Doctor hummed in agreement but seemed understandably more concerned about the TARDIS than the ruined plans of their unexpected guest.
Stepping outside in the cool, bright day Rose craned her head up, taking in their surroundings. “This is London,” She said, noticing the blur of white and red round the TARDIS. “Donna?” She said, following the redhead around. She caught a glimpse of the poor woman’s face, the shock in her eyes, and Rose giggled. After she followed Donna around the TARDIS one full rotation she waited by the doors, watching as Donna did another couple rounds before darting back inside the ship. She heard the Doctor say something to her, the words muffled and indistinct. A beat later, Donna ran out the TARDIS, the Doctor keeping pace with her.
“I just want to get married,” Donna said as she attempted to put distance between her and the ship.
“Come back inside the TARDIS,” The Doctor tried to reason as they kept going.
Sighing, Rose turned and stepped inside. She could follow, probably would be smart considering the gob he has going on, but she couldn’t find it in her to try. Running her hand over the rails as she made her way up the ramp and to the jump seat, she sighed heavily as she dropped down on the well worn cushion. It hadn’t even been a half hour since she said goodbye to her mother, which was draining as it was without having been woken up by the Doctor and the TARDIS to do so.
“Is that why you aren’t feeling well? Was contacting her too much?” Rose asked, leaning forward and stretching her fingers to give the panel a light stroke. The TARDIS hummed as if to say ‘no’, and Rose sat back. She studied the panel and the time rotor as if she could figure out what was a matter just by looking it over. Crossing her arms, it briefly occurred to her that the TARDIS might lie just so she wouldn’t feel guilty.
She blew at her bangs before leaning her head back, closing her eyes. “’S not him, he’s fine.” She said aloud. “So what changed? Why aren’t you feeling well?”
Rose thought it over, the mystery presented by the upset TARDIS helping to keep the memory of her mother’s tearful farewell out of her mind. So if it wasn’t brought on by that, and the Doctor was fine, why was she all wonky? She bolted upright as it clicked, and she felt thick for not having really thought of it before: Donna. The Doctor likely already had that figured out, which was probably why he went after the determined woman who was somehow taken from her wedding. But how? How was she making the TARDIS so upset?
The sound of feet pounding the ground outside drew her attention to the door as the Doctor stormed in, running for the console.
“Doctor? What’s going on?” She asked, scooting to the edge of the cushion.
“Pilot fish,” He said with gritted teeth as he began to hit controls on the panel. “They’re after Donna.”
Rose was on her feet, leaning away as the Doctor’s manic movements came hurdling toward her as he put in coordinates. “How can I help?” She asked as she felt the TARDIS begin to move.
“Ah,” The Doctor said as more sparks than usual flew from the console, and Rose jumped back a moment. “Oh Behave,” He growled at the TARDIS before looking down at the controls. He glanced at the doors, then back down to the controls. “Okay, come here.” He instructed in clipped tones. She moved swiftly, watching for another wave of sparks before joining the Doctor. “I need you to man these controls.” He said, pointing to a couple of levers. “The TARDIS should stay on course, but if not, use that knob to level it out. When I’ve got Donna back inside the TARDIS, hit this button, got it?”
“Got it.” Rose said with a confident nod.
The Doctor grinned, surprising her with a kiss on the cheek before darting to the doors.
Wind swept over her, and Rose glanced over to see a a car racing down the road through the open doors, and a distraught Donna banging on the window.
“Bloody hell,” She choked out when she realized the Doctor’s plan. She tried to watch him, make sure he didn’t fall out of the ship, all while keep her hands hovering near the controls, waiting to jump in when needed.
She could hear the Doctor having an exchange with Donna, something about jumping, but the wind is muffling most of what he’s saying.
“Rose,” He yells to her, “The Lever.” He gestured to the smaller one on the panel.
She grabbed it, and pulled down. “Oi!” She yelped as another wave of sparks flooded around her and she jumped back. The TARDIS jolted and she lunged forward, grabbing on to the edge to steady herself. Her hair whipped her in the face as she turned to make sure the Doctor was still in the door, tension easing as she saw him steady himself. He stuck his arm out, and the glow of the sonic caught her eye for a moment. He tucked it away, and Rose’s heart sped up as she watched him outstretch his arms. “You better not fall out, or so help.” Rose said, her voice hardly loud enough to carry.
If he heard he, he ignored her.
“Donna, you’re going to have to jump.” She barely heard him say. “The thing needs you for something and I can promise you, it’s not good.”
Rose squinted against the wind that came through more sharply through the door.
“Yes,” She heard the Doctor say. “She trusts me with her life. Now jump!”
Rose watched, heart pounding in her ears, stopping a beat as the Doctor was tossed back into the TARDIS with Donna landing on top of him. The doors slammed shut just as Rose slammed the button the Doctor told her to, and collective sigh of relief sounded throughout the room despite the sparks erupting from the console and the smell of smoke beginning to permeate.
Donna pushed her self off the Doctor, kneeling beside him, watching Rose as she came to kneel beside him and help him up. “He better not be lying.” Donna said gruffly.
“’Bout what?” Rose asked, giving the Doctor’s arms a squeeze as she turned her attention to Donna.
“Trusting him.” Donna said, holding her eye.
“I do,” Rose said firmly. “More than anyone.”
Donna studied the two of them for a long, quiet moment, eyes narrowing a little before her face relaxed. She didn’t say anything, and her nod was barely perceptible, but she dropped the subject as the TARDIS landed with a shudder. She glanced at the doors apprehensively before getting to her feet. Rose stood up, reaching to help the Doctor though he didn’t need it. Their hands fell into each others, as they followed Donna down the ramp and out the doors.
The landscape was familiar to Rose, and it took her only a few seconds to realize she was on a roof top overlooking her old neighborhood. Her eyes homed in on the top of the Estates and her stomach twisted in a knot.
“Went a bit rough on her,” The Doctor said. “ We should give her some time to recover. For a space ship she doesn’t do much flying.” He paused, and it gave Rose a catalyst to pull her eyes away from the Estate. “You alright?” He asked Donna, and Rose noted the posture of a defeated woman on the fiery red head.
“Doesn’t matter.” Donna said over her shoulder.
“Too late to get back, innit?” Rose asked.
“Yeah,” Donna said with a nod.
Rose gave the Doctor’s hand a squeeze before letting it go and going to Donna. The two of them went to the edge, and with an unspoken agreement they sat on the edge together. “Did you want to talk about it?” Rose asked.
“Not really.” Donna replied flatly.
“Were you going somewhere nice for the honeymoon?” Rose attempted another avenue.
“Just a holiday now,” Donna said with a shrug of her shoulder.
Rose nodded in agreement, looking back out at the horizon and trying to ignore the building that kept trying to draw her eye.
“Oi,” Donna said, and Rose glanced over to see the Doctor’s jacket around the bride’s shoulders. “You’re skinny. This wouldn’t even fit a rat,” She said, gesturing to the jacket. Rose looked up at the Doctor to see him roll his eyes before sitting down on the other side of Donna.
“I’m sorry about your wedding.” He said.
“Not your fault.” Donna said, and Rose giggled as he perked slightly at the thought.
He suddenly reached into his pant pocket. “Here, you better put this … oh, nope, wrong one. Ah! You better put this on.” He said, pulling out a plan looking silver band.
“What’s that?” Rose asked.
“Bio-damper. It’ll keep her hidden, prevent them from tracing her.” He said as he picked up Donna’s right hand and slipped the ring on. “With this ring, I thee Bio-damp!” He said, popping the ‘p’, trying to get a smile from her.
“For better or worse.” She said with a sigh and none of the humour the Doctor was trying to encourage. “So what was that robot thing?”
“Pilot fish,” Rose replied, and Donna turned to her with a wrinkled brow. “’S like a little fish that sorta hunts ahead of the big fish. I dunno, I’m not explaining it well. They came around the last Christmas I was here, right before the Sycorax, er, the umm big space ship came over London.” Donna arched a brow. “You don’t remember that?” Rose asked, and Donna shook her head. “Really?”
“I was hung over.” Donna said with a shrug.
“Blimey, must have been one hell of a party.” Rose said with disbelief. Donna just grunted.
“What was it you said you did, Donna?” The Doctor asked, reaching into his jacket pocket and fishing out his sonic.
“I’m a temp. Secretary. For HC Clements.” She said, looking to Rose. “It’s where I met my fiance, Lance.”
Rose smiled. “When was that?”
“June.” Donna said, a smile pulling at the corners of her mouth. “I worked for a double glazing company before that. Never thought I’d fit in. All a bit posh, you know?” Donna said, giving Rose a slight nudge.
“Yeah,” Rose said with a grin and a chuckle.
“Anyways, he made me coffee. Nobody does that, nobody makes the secretary coffee. But he did, every day.”
“What does Lance do for the company?” Rose asked, glancing past her to the Doctor who paused long enough in his scanning of Donna to flash her a smirk.
“He’s the head of HR,” Donna said with a dreamy kind of pride. “So, yeah. The two of us, a cup of coffee, and here we are six months later.”
“Six months? That’s a bit quick.” The Doctor said rudely.
“Well, he insisted.” Donna said, looking down at her fingers.
Six months. They met in June. Rose suddenly couldn’t help but look up at the Estate. Christmas in London, at least a year after her last one. There wouldn’t be a turkey to carve with Mickey who would try to steal some and she’d have to smack. There wouldn’t be Jackie trying to make the whole dinner special to celebrate the defeat of a space ship, or her daughter’s return to home for the special day. She and the Doctor wouldn’t be sitting around the table with them, opening Christmas crackers and wearing paper crowns. None of the joy that there had been last year. Just a new, new beginning with her new, new Doctor and no family or friends really left to share stories of her adventures with. As far as she knew, Mickey told everyone they knew she was simply traveling. No one left would understand exactly what her travels entailed.
She swallowed back the heartbreak when she realized there was no real reason to even celebrate the holiday anymore.
“Stop beeping me!” Donna jolted her into awareness, and she noted the Doctor putting the sonic back in his pocket.
“What kind of work does HC Clements do?” He asked thoughtfully.
“Oh, security systems, you know. Entry codes, ID cards, that sort of thing. Really, it’s just a posh name for locksmiths.” She shrugged before getting off the ledge, handing the Doctor his jacket. “But enough of my CV, it’s time to face the music. Oh, this will be shameful. I’ll let you do the explaining, Martian Man, and don’t you dare try to make her do it.” Donna warned, a finger in his face as he stood up.
“Yeah, I’m not from Mars.” He corrected, though Donna didn’t seem to care as she turned and headed for the fire escape off to the side, leading them off the roof. “What exactly am I explaining?” He asked Rose as she stood up, brushing at her bum before coming up beside him.
“Why she disappeared from her wedding,” Rose said, taking his hand. “Good thing you’ll have me with ya, other wise the other half of the happy couple might give ya a slap too.” She said, smiling with her tongue pocking out between her teeth.
The Doctor lit up. “There’s that smile I’ve missed.” He beamed. “Too right you are, Rose Tyler. Let’s go reunite the happy couple.”
One wouldn’t have thought there wasn’t a wedding by the way everyone was celebrating when they walked into the reception hall. Rose looked around at the smiling, cheerful, slightly drunk folks who carried on as if the party was a mere Christmas celebration. Had she went missing from her own wedding, there would be no way Jackie Tyler would let anyone celebrate in the slightest until she knew where her daughter was, and why she left. Then again, depending on the circumstances it may not have been all that strange for Rose to have disappeared from a wedding. But in that case, the groom (in her mind anyway) would have disappeared right along with her to travel to some far off place, not have a beer with a couple friends during what should have been the reception. Mickey may have, though ….
She then noticed the bride groom look in their direction just before the music stopped.
“You had the reception without me?” Donna asked the room of surprised people. Surprised, not relieved. Rose squeezed the Doctor’s hand linked with hers.
“Donna, what happened to you?” The Groom asked as he rushed over to her.
“You had the reception without me?” She asked again, a little louder and a little more angry. No one seemed to know what to say to that. Donna spun around and looked at them. “They had it without me.”
“We can see that.” The Doctor said, and Rose smacked him on the chest.
“Oi,” He mouthed.
“Rude,” Rose mouthed back with a frown.
He sniffed, looking away with a bit of a pout.
The crowd started to harass Donna, the whole lot of them demanding to know where she went, and what happened, and how could she? Rose clenched her teeth, ready to jump in to defend the poor woman, when the red head suddenly started to sob. Her fiance came over to her, wrapping his arms around her in a comforting gesture. As she laid her head on Lance’s shoulder, she looked to Rose and the Doctor and winked. Rose barely contained a smile, and turned to hide her twisting mouth on the Doctor’s arm.
As the crowd led Donna away, The Doctor tugged on Rose’s hand and lead her toward the bar.
“Can I get you something, mate?” The bartender asked. The Doctor shook his head, and while she could’ve used a drink Rose declined as well.
Once left alone the Doctor sighed and leaned back on the bar top while Rose hopped up on one of the stools. They watched quietly as the newness of Donna’s arrival faded off and the party resumed with the runaway bride joining in this time.
“I remember our first dance,” The Doctor said off-handedly as they watched those on the dance floor move to the music in various ways.
Rose smiled. “You mean the one when we were hiding from gas mask zombies in a basement back when you were all big ears and leather?”
“Mmm,” The Doctor hummed his confirmation, a small smile playing on his lips. “Much easier to dance in this body.” He turned to Rose. “Would you like to?”
She shook her head. “Not really.”
He held her eye, mouth twitching a little on words that weren’t coming. “Yeah, probably shouldn’t. Not with this whole mystery surrounding Donna.” He said with a sniff, turning away for a second.
Rose noted the way he crossed his arms, the slump of his shoulders. “Are you disappointed?”
“No,” He answered too quickly, curling his face before rolling his shoulders. “No,” He added again a little quieter.
Rose grinned, her tongue between her teeth, and as he glanced over he must of have noticed because he turned back to her with a smile washing away his sour expression. “So what do you say, Shiver? Think this HC Clements may have something to do with all this?”
“Can’t hurt to check it out, Shake.” She said, clicking the ‘k’ and making him chuckle.
He extended his hand toward her. “Can I see your mobile?”
Rose hopped off the stool to fish it out of her pocket while the Doctor reached in his jacket and pulled out his glasses, popping them on as he took Rose’s phone. She looked around the room, finding no one seemed to be paying any attention to them despite the fact that she was very under-dressed for the occasion and the two of them were the ones who returned with Donna. The Doctor hummed unhappily behind her, and she turned to see his eyes darkening, his features tightening.
“What is it?” She asked, leaning into him to look at the screen.
HC Clements, sole prop. Torchwood.
Rose inhaled sharply and turned away, looking at the people again and trying to keep her composure. Torchwood, the very gits who were responsible for her saying goodbye to her mother that morning, who made her almost lose the Doctor, who brought so much death and destruction to Earth. A headache started to build as she gritted her teeth to keep back the renewed urge to cry. She felt his arm snake around her before he pulled her against him. The tension eased a little as she tucked her head beneath his chin while he pushed her phone back in her pocket before wrapping his other arm around her. The Doctor’s lips touched on her forehead just beneath her hair line, and Rose let one of the tears that stung her eyes fall away.
After a moment, his grip loosened. “What a minute, hold on.” He said before letting her go and darting off to the side. Rose turned toward where he went, finding him approaching a man with a camcorder in the corner. A breath later she was coming up beside the Doctor as the man popped in a videotape.
“I taped the whole thing, they've all had a look.” The man said, “They said: sell it to You've Been Framed. I said: more like the News.” Here we are...” He said, as the image of Donna walking down the aisle came up on the small screen.
She looked so happy right up until she started glowing gold. The scream that erupted was shrill and filled with a terror Rose could empathize with just before Donna disappeared as if she’d been turned to atoms.
“Can’t be. Play it again?” The Doctor asked, his brow furrowed. The videographer nodded, rewinding the tape.
“What?” Rose asked, trying to watch through the Doctor’s eyes as the video replayed. Something about it seemed familiar, but how she didn’t know. There was a memory that felt fuzzy, making her a little dizzy trying to think about it.
“But that looks like Huon Particles.” The Doctor stuttered out, taking off his glasses, and looking around the room. “But those are ancient. Haven’t been around for billions of years. So old that ….” And then he stopped, his face falling with realization a bit of panic.
“That?” Rose asked, and he turned sharply toward her.
“They can’t be Biodampened.” He said quietly. “Donna!” He called after her, and while he sought her out Rose immediately looked around the room for an exit. Giving a slight push to the people in her way, she headed for the front, stopping short upon seeing the Robotic Santas coming toward the building through the window, wind instruments held like guns.
“Doctor!” She called, turning to see him coming up behind her with Donna in tow.
He put a hand on her shoulder as he looked out the window. “Out the back,” he said, turning around and grabbing Rose’s hand in the process. Scrambling to the back, they had less people to hinder them, but certainly got more looks. The Doctor threw open the back door only to see another pair of armed Santa’s waiting.
“We’re trapped,” Donna cried out, and Rose glanced around the room, seeing another pair of Santa’s at another window. Squinting, she made out that only one was armed, and the other had a remote in hand that looked a lot like a video game controller. She remembered them having the same sort of device the year before, and dread hit her in the pit of her stomach.
“Christmas Trees,” The Doctor said, echoing her thoughts. She glanced at him and then followed his gaze, seeing the beautiful green trees with shiny red ornaments standing in the middle of the room.
“Oh god,” Rose said, her voice shaking.
“Why, what’s wrong with the trees?” Donna asked, her fear growing more evident.
“They kill.” The Doctor said. “We have to get everyone away from the trees.” He said, tearing away from Rose and Donna while shouting instructions for people to move away from them. It took Rose a moment to shake the terrifying memories. Her mother tucked in a corner, fearing for her life, Mickey trying to hold it back with a coffee table, the Doctor defenseless in a healing coma. Blinking them away, Rose turned, attempting to usher people away when she noticed a little boy darting toward the trees. She lunged toward him, catching him around the waist with one arm.
“Go to your mum or dad, yeah?” She told him with a smile and a nod before pushing him gently back the way he came.
“The man’s an idiot,” Someone near the trees started to say as she righted herself. “What’s a Christmas tree gonna,” And she stopped.
Rose tensed as she looked over shoulder, expecting to see the to see the ornaments on the tree slowly float into the air as a cheerful melody filled the room.
“That can’t be good.” She said, thankful at least that the trees themselves weren’t spinning toward them. Bracing herself, she stared at those lovely little red ornaments floating in the air above their heads, waiting for something to happening as she inched backward as much as she could. The anticipation of the worst did nothing to prevent her from startling with a yelp when one zipped down to a table and exploded.
Chaos erupted as everyone around her screamed and scrambled, pushing and shoving to try and find cover from the zipping ornaments. A hand gripped her wrist and yanked her back, pulling her behind something before she felt the familiar lithe body of the Doctor crash over top of her protectively. She cringed and winced as screams were punctuated by explosions, causing guilt and helplessness to come in equal parts.
“I have an idea,” The Doctor said in her ear. “Just cover your ears and trust me.” He said before darting away from her. He scooted closer to the table they had ducked behind, standing slowly and pulling out his sonic. “Oi, Santa,” He said over the loud speaker. “If you’re attacking a man with a sonic screw driver, don’t let him near the sound system.”
Shoving her fingers in her ears, Rose barely had time to shut her eyes before the piercing, high pitched sound filled the room. The headache she started to form earlier grew a little too strong to ignore. When the piercing sound waves died down she opened her eyes, just catching the Doctor flying around the table and sliding across the floor to the group of downed Santas. In the panic of the moment she hadn’t even seen them enter the room. She got to her feet, stumbling around the table and making her way over to the Doctor’s side to see what he discovered.
He picked up controller the robots were using, examining it.
“What is it?” She asked him.
“This,” He said, drawing out the word, “is the controls to the ornaments, but.” He said, tucking the controller under his arm a moment and picking up the robot head. It was still blinking. “Second remote for the robots. They aren’t scavengers anymore, someone’s taken control.” He said, putting it up to his ear.
“Never mind that,” Donna said behind them. “You’re a doctor, you can help.”
“Bigger picture,” he mumbled before exclaiming, “Ah! Still a signal.” He cried, jumping to his feet and reaching for Rose’s hand. She barely had her hand in his before he pulled her to the feet and out the front door. When they were outside he put the sonic to the Robot head, squinting at it against the harsh light of the bright winter sun.
Rose took in deep breath of the cool air, only realizing now how smoky had been inside and how much her adrenaline was keeping her going. She saw the ambulances outside, the paramedics rushing in to help those who needed it, and a bit of weight lifted off her shoulders as if she was the one who denied the aid. But the Doctor was right, the bigger picture was what mattered, and by the look on Donna’s face as she raced up beside them with Lance at her heels told Rose that maybe Donna understood that.
“Why me?” Donna asked, looking at Rose.
“I don’t know,” She said with a shake of her head, reaching out a giving Donna’s shoulder a squeeze.
“But if we find who’s controlling the Robots, we’ll be closer to figuring that out.” The Doctor said, lifting the sonic away from the head and pointing it upward. “It’s up there in the sky.” He said, moving the sonic around before cursing in what Rose would guess was Gallifreyan. “I lost the signal. But I think,” He said turning to Donna, “this all started at HC Clements. If we go there, we may still be able to figure this out.”
“But we walked here,” Rose pointed out. “The TARDIS is on a roof top.”
“Right, yes. Umm,” He snapped his fingers and pointed to Lance. “Think you can give us a lift?”
Lance stuttered, turning to Donna who rolled her eyes and jerked her head in the direction of a heavily decorated vehicle a few feet away.
The Doctor chucked the Robot head over his shoulder and grabbed Rose’s hand again, barely allowing the couple in front of them to lead the way to the car. He opened the back door, giving Rose a nudge to go in first. She scooted on to the other side, and the Doctor climbed in and shut the door before Donna was even in the driver’s seat.
As the got out on the road, Rose gazed out the window, chewing her thumbnail while bouncing her knee in an failed attempt to settle.
“Hey,” The Doctor said quietly, a hand steadying her jerking limb. She looked at the gesture before shifting her gaze up to his warm brown eyes. “How are you holding up?” He asked quietly.
“’M fine.” Rose fibbed.
The Doctor sighed, lifting his hand from her knee and dropping it around her shoulders, sliding closer to her. “You don’t have to lie.” He said as he rested his head against hers.
“Really, though.” She snapped a little, feeling guilty the second she pulled back and met the Doctor’s eye. “It’s a bit much, honestly, Torchwood being involved with this. But that should only make us want to help more, yeah? And I do, I do want to figure out what’s going on. But I’m tired, and I’m starting to feel like we’ll never escape that nightmare.”
“We will,” he said before pressing a kiss to her forehead. She closed her eyes against the cool comfort, a smile pulling at the corners of her mouth. “Once we get Donna sorted,” He said quietly against her skin. “We’ll go anywhere you want. Beaches? There’s a planet where the sand sings as the tide comes in. Or there’s an entire planet made for shopping, if you’d rather. All of space and time is yours once we get this sorted.”
There was comfort in that, and Rose pulled her head back just enough to lay it against his shoulder. She looked ahead, catching the glances Donna was giving them in the rear view mirror. A blush colored Rose’s cheeks as she diverted her eyes, the bride in the front seat making it seem like she glimpsed something entirely too personal that she had only hoped to have one day. Rose looked to Lance, noting the nervous jitter of his knee and how he was looking at anything but those in the vehicle. Then again, given all that happened so far, he was surprisingly calm.
Donna pulled up outside the main doors, not worrying about the shoddy parking job though with the holiday it probably wasn’t necessary anyway. The four raced across the lobby toward the lift.
“We’ll go to our office,” Donna said as she hit the button for the third floor. “Right where it all started, right?” She asked, though they were already on their way up. When the doors opened, the Doctor ran toward a computer, flicking it on and typing furiously.
“You obviously have a plan,” Rose commented as she came to a stop behind him, crossing her arms as she looked at the back of the Doctor’s head.
“I’ve been thinking about the HC Clements/Torchwood connection.” He started to say.
“Torchwood, who are they?” Donna asked nervously from a couple feet away.
“They were responsible for the battle of Canary Wharf.” The Doctor said, and Rose watched for their reactions. Donna looked clueless, and Lance … well, Lance looked like he wasn’t surprised by Donna’s reaction at all. “Cyberman invasion?” The Doctor added.
Donna narrowed her eyes, still clueless.
“Ghosts who were really robots and these things like flying pepper pots over London?” Rose offered.
It seemed to help. “I was in Spain,” Donna said as if that should explain how she didn’t know.
“They were in Spain,” The Doctor said, sounding as stunned as Rose was.
“Scuba diving?” Donna challenged, and Lance rolled his eyes and shook his head.
“That big picture? You keep missing it.” The Doctor said, either not noticing or ignoring the strangely rude way that Lance reacted. He returned to typing a second before moving to the next work station, trying that PC. “Torchwood was destroyed, but I think someone else must have came in to take over the company.” He said, doing another search and bringing up a schematic of the building.
“But what does any of this have to do with me?” Donna asked, and the Doctor stood up, turning toward her.
“You’ve been dosed with Huon Particles somehow, and that’s a problem because they haven’t existed since the dark ages. The only place you’ll find Huon particles is in the remnant of the heart of the TARDIS.” He explained, and something stirred in Rose’s mind.
She remembered the slitheen woman looking into the heart and becoming an egg, but there was something else. She closed her eyes, vaguely remembering a gold light, the Doctor’s previous body, Daleks, and something else. Something not quite coming to the surface but was desperately trying to. It left her anxious though not in a fearful way.
“Rose?” The Doctor said, and her eyes shot open in the direction of the three people looking at her expectantly, the Doctor with a little more worry in his features than the other two. “Coming?”
“Yeah,” She said with a nod, though she had no idea where to. She followed them toward a lift where the Doctor hit the call button going down.
“Underneath reception there’s a basement, yes?” The Doctor said, and Lance hummed in agreement as the doors opened. The Doctor stepped in. “So how come there’s another button marked lower basement?” He asked, and Rose stepped around Donna to get inside beside him.
“You’re saying this building has a secret floor?” Lance asked, not sounding nearly as surprised as he probably should.
“No, I’m showing you there’s a secret floor,” The Doctor said impatiently as he reached into his inner pocket.
“But it needs a key,” Donna pointed out, and Rose managed to muffle the snort as the Doctor pulled out his sonic.
“We don’t,” The Doctor said, taking Rose’s hand at the same second he soniced the lock. “Right then, we’ll take it from here.” He said with a grin.
“I don’t think so, Martian Man. You and Rose keep saving my life, I’m not letting either of you out of my sight.” Donna said as she stormed on to the elevator. She turned, hand on the door. “Lance?”
“Maybe I should go to the police?” He suggested, pointing down the hall in an eager tone. What man would willingly let the woman he loves take off into unknown danger while he ran the other way?
“Inside,” Donna demanded as Rose narrowed her eyes at the exasperated man. He was worse than Mickey was in the beginning, the coward.
“To honor and obey,” The Doctor said with a touch of sarcasm.
“You’re telling me mate.” Lance said over his shoulder.
“Oi,” Rose and Donna said, turning to their male counterparts as the doors to the lift closed.