The beach on Solodaris 3 was exactly as she remembered from when the Doctor took her after the incident with Donna. And Rose laid beneath the shade of the beach umbrella wearing the same bathing suit she had worn the first time. The Doctor, though, was in much less clothing. She felt his cool skin over most of her body with only his swim trunks interrupting the pleasant feeling.
“It’s nice,” he said, adjusting his sunglasses.
“It is,” Rose replied, reaching around behind her and scratching lightly at his hair.
He hummed deep in his throat. “Would be nicer if we were alone.” He said in a deep, husky voice before nipping at her ear.
“Oi,” Martha’s voice came from behind before she plopped down beside them. “You brought us here.”
“That I did.” The Doctor said, running his fingers over Rose’s arm.
“So are you guys just going to lay on the beach, or are you going to go swimming?” Jack asked, coming around the other side of them but not sitting down.
“Oh I’m pretty sure we’re going to stay right here.” Rose replied, smiling up at Jack with her tongue between her teeth.
“Of course you will,” He said, smiling back and shaking his head. “Just be careful of sand, it’s not pleasant when it gets in certain places.”
“I’ll go with you.” Martha said, getting to her feet. “Especially if those two are going to be all over each other.” Her hand fell into Jack’s, and the two of them ran off giggling toward the water.
No sooner had their back been turned did the Doctor start placing wet kisses on Rose’s neck.
“I always hate when they take off,” Rose said with a sigh.
“Why?” The Doctor asked, lifting his sunglasses and looking at Rose with confusion.
She smiled sadly. “It means I’m going to wake up soon.” She admitted.
“Rose!” Martha’s voice called out.
And in an instant, Rose was no longer on a beach. She was no longer wrapped in the cool embrace of her Time Lord while her friends flirted mercilessly as they frolicked on perfect sand. She sat up from the mat she slept on, her body aching though she ignored it. Martha crouched beside her, her hair pulled back in a tight bun, her backpack already in place.
“Sorry,” She said sincerely, looking Rose over.
Rose stretched, adjusted her snug black vest before grabbing her leather jacket from where she used it as a pillow. “’S fine.” She said as she shrugged on the garment and zipped it up. “Probably shouldn’t have been sleeping so long.”
“Not like you’ve gotten much of it,” Martha reminded her gently as she handed Rose her backpack.
She shouldered it. “’M fine,” She brushed it off, nodding toward the exit of the warehouse housing the rebel group they spent the night with. Around them, the next shift prepared themselves as they checked guns and listened to team leaders give instructions for the day, likely which cargo trucks they were going to hit and where they were going to take the divided spoils.
“Ladies,” A ruggedly handsome bloke greeted them with his American accent. “We’re going to be sad to see you go.”
“Sure you are, Mitch,” Martha teased with a grin as she allowed him to help her into the back of the jeep. Rose smiled, allowed him to help, but said nothing.
“Alright, we can take you as far as the New York state line,” A tiny woman with half her head shaved told them as she buckled in. “Beyond that, and it’s a risk.”
“We appreciate your taking us that far.” Rose said sincerely as she shifted her bag to rest between her legs.
The woman snorted. “Ya kidding? You brought hope. You brought a fucking end game to all this bull shit. Seems a ride while we get supplies is the least we can do.”
At that, Rose genuinely smiled, her soul warming a bit as she absentmindedly ran her finger over her ring.
The bloke got in the front seat by the woman, and they were off.
It was the same scene everywhere they went: Cities reduced to nothing or turned to work camps where weapons for Universal domination were made on a massive scale. One of survivors groups explained that there were people recruited at least once a month to replace those who worked themselves to death, fallen ill, or decided they didn’t want to be a slave to a lunatic and got themselves killed. Some went because they were starved and couldn’t take it. Others went as a sacrifice, giving their lives in attempts to hinder the Master’s plans.
It was hard in the beginning, walking into these rebel camps or survivor villages with nothing more to offer them than words. The desolate living situations these terrified, innocent people had found themselves in broke Rose’s already fragile heart, but after time it gave her hope. Because they were surviving. Like the Doctor had pointed out at the end of the Universe, the human race was resilient. Some crossed over to the dark side, as it were. There was always that base instinct to drift toward the powerful no matter how psychotic they are, but others stood up and endured.
“I’m sorry for your loss,” Handsome bloke said over his shoulder, eyeing Rose’s hands.
“What?” She asked, leaning forward to hear him better.
“Said ‘sorry’,” He said, pointing to her ring. “’Bout your spouse.”
“He’s not dead.” Rose said with a shake of her head, keeping her expression and voice as even as possible.
“Well he’s not with you. These days if they aren’t right there beside you, they’re dead.”
“He’s not.” Rose said firmly.
“How do you know?” Bloke asked.
Rose looked him straight in the eye. “’Cause I just do,” And then sat back as the girl driving chastised her partner for being such a jerk.
Martha looked over at her, eyebrow raised in question but Rose remained firm on her answer. Her vagueness was intentional, and despite Martha’s constant wondering if it was the right thing to do, Rose remained firm.
3 Months Earlier
“We need to settle on a story, something we can tell them.” Rose said as she studied a rack of sport vests, spotting three black ones in her size. Pulling two off, she stuffed them in her black hiker’s backpack.
“Where has he been?” Martha asked as she studied the long sleeved versions of the same item, shoving a couple in her backpack as well. “Around the Earth? I know New York, of course, and England. Can we gear it to specific places?”
Rose shook her head as she shrugged off her leather jacket and peeled off her t-shirt. “He’s been coming here for centuries but he’s never told me all the places he’s been.” She said as she grabbed the last black vest her size off a rack and pulled it on. She shed her bra, allowing the built in one to do the work. One less item to have to worry about keeping clean. “We should just tell him what we know, what he’s done for Earth. The Sycorax, yeah? That was a world wide thing. I was there, right there beside him. I can tell that story.” She said, figuring it would probably be a good idea to leave out the part where he was in a healing coma for a bit.
Martha nodded. “And I can tell the story of the hospital, though it won’t be as relatable across the pond.” She admitted as she grabbed four pairs of socks and tossed two pairs to Rose.
She caught them and tossed them into her bag. “No, but after a bit you’ll know my stories by heart too.” She reminded as she noted the durable looking trousers. Snug as they would be, they’d likely be more comfortable than her denim, and they would fold up small like leggings. Grabbing a couple extras, she tossed them in her pack before working on the button of her jeans.
“I guess,” Martha said slowly, watching Rose. “Brave one, aren’t you?”
Rose snickered, looking around at the empty store, lit only with emergency lighting, the alarm having gone ignored long ago. It was dark out, the Toclafane having finished their initial sweep, and those who survived were either in hiding or were led away. “Who’s gonna see? Even if they could?” Rose asked, flicking her TARDIS key to prove a point as before shimmying out of her jeans. Martha snorted. “Yes?”
“I can not believe I’m saying this, but those would not be the knickers I’d have expected you to wear considering who would see them.”
Rose looked down, seeing her blue Star Trek boy shorts and blushing as she smiled. “Inside Joke.” She said before grabbing another pair of the trousers and pulling them on. “Blimey these things are comfortable.” She said, trying to keep the light tone they’d fallen into since entering the abandoned shop.
The Sporting Goods place had been Martha’s idea, telling Rose how her Dad used to always take them camping with freeze-dried food because she and Leo could carry it easily. Rose agreed, adding that neither of them were dressed for the task ahead. When they first entered they noticed the place was ransacked, but who ever did it didn’t think to grab (or maybe didn’t need to grab) the very things they would need. A bit of luck for them, at least, and after each loading about two months worth of freeze-dried food and protein bars in hiker’s backpacks, squishing down as much as they could, they each added a couple thermal blankets and a couple water bottles.
The clothes had come next, and while Martha was reluctantly changing in front of the large, store front window Rose was scoping out the boots. “We should get some soap.” She said as she found a pair of boots her size, pulling them on and tightening the laces. They went up nearly to her knee, but she could already tell they would be just as comfortable and would last longer than her trainers. “I know it’s a luxury, but…”
“No, I agree.” Martha said. “Hygiene’s going to ….”
“Yeah,” Rose said slowly. “Exactly.” She went to the check out, seeing the little travel sized things and found a pair of tooth brushes. Toothpaste wouldn’t last, but least they could pretend.
“So we tell stories of how the Doctor saved the world, then what?” Martha asked, and when Rose glanced over at her she noted her friend had fully changed her clothes. “Just say to think about him on this day at this time?”
“More or less, though I’m sure we’ll say it better.” Rose mused, brushing her hair back and catching the way the light caught her ring. She looked at it, barely remembering it was there most of the time with the way it became somewhat apart of her. “We should leave me out of it.” She said quietly, though Martha turned around from the display of boots. “Me, as in his partner me.” Rose clarified. “I won’t lie if people ask, but I don’t want that to be part of the story.”
“Seriously?” Martha asked. When Rose nodded she scoffed. “What is it with you two and your keeping it to yourselves. If he loved me the way he loves you I’d shout it out to the Universe.”
“It’s not how we work,” Rose shook her head. “I don’t want people to be thinking of the Doctor’s lover walking the Earth and pleading for people to think of him. I want people to pass on the stories told by his companions of how wonderful he is, brave and selfless. The Bad Wolf, destroyer of Daleks, that is nothing compared to what he is.”
“Bad Wolf?” Martha asked before ducking out of Rose’s sight, the sound of a shoe hitting the floor shortly after.
“’S what I called myself when I took on the vortex,” Rose explained with a wave Martha likely couldn’t see. “But when I did that, I did it to protect him, to save him and all of space and time. Because in the end he is far more important than any of us. The world, the Universe, may not realize they need him but they do. I just made sure he would still be around to be it’s protector, just like I’m going to do now.” Martha popped up, and when she did she gave Rose a good, long look. “What?”
“I had you so wrong,” She said with a bit of a laugh on her voice. “Not once have I ever pegged you right. I don’t know why, maybe it was jealousy, or maybe it’s because of where you came from, but so often I saw you as the one the Doctor took in because he had to. His best mate and nothing more. I glimpsed the brave, and I got hints of the cleverness, but this,” She gestured to Rose up and down, “this is you. This is who you really are.”
Rose looked down at herself as if her new clothes would somehow show her what Martha was seeing. “Yeah, it is.” She agreed, though she didn’t know what it meant. What was Martha seeing that she couldn’t?
She didn’t ask, simply picking her leather jacket off the floor and putting it on despite the bullet hole in the shoulder. A couple small first aid kits and some soap later, the girls shrugged on their packs, checked that it was as safe as possible, then stepped out into the night.
They walked. It may have been August, but there was no hot sun beating down on them as they walked along the deserted, broken highway. It was cold, and gray, with rain threatening them more and more the closer they got to New York City. They had no rain gear, something they realized early on but both decided was not crucial enough to seek out. Not yet anyway. So they carried on, even though they’re legs ached, and their backs were sore, because neither wanted to be out in the rain long and their best chance for shelter was on the horizon.
“Looks different,” Martha noted evenly.
“Yeah,” Rose agreed. “Skyline’s destroyed.”
And it was. Though the city was still a ways off, the destruction caused by he Toclafane cull could be spotted from a great distance. Most of the tall buildings were half the size they normally would be, glass blown out so they were no more than dark, steel structures. The statue of Liberty, Rose noted, looked distinctly more masculine than she recalled.
But all of that became irrelevant as a hum came from the air behind them, the whir of something mechanical, and they froze.
Two metal spheres moved right over their heads, causing Rose and Martha to join hands instantly as they watched them go by.
“Which means,” Rose muttered, she and Martha moving as slowly as possible to the side of the road as he sound of an engine came rolling up behind them. Always that pattern, a pair or small group of Toclafane, followed by an Jeep or three of armed containment force officers.
The jeep breezed past them, with no one inside turning in their direction at all. When they were barely more than specs on the horizon, they let out a sigh of relief. Returning to the road, they let go of one another but they stayed close. It wasn’t like running with the Doctor, Rose didn’t find she needed a hand to hold so much as she longed for a specific one. And Martha, while she was an excellent support and probably her best friend in these circumstances, was not someone she wanted to cling to.
That felt odd, and as they fell into a comfortable silence part of Rose’s brain started wandering at the thought. She knew full well that if Jack had been the one she was walking with they would have been hand in hand the whole time, no question. But somehow with Martha the desire simply wasn’t there unless they needed to know where the other was. And like so many other things Rose’s massive mind wandered and pondered over during the last ninety-two days, it was just one more thing Rose realized was unfair to the woman beside her.
They arrived in the city, pausing as they came to stand in front of a fallen brass stature. A flock of pigeons flew over head, their coos and the wind the only sound in the city that had sadly fallen asleep.
Rose whistled once, loud and sharp, and Martha followed it by three short consecutive ones. A long pause, and then the sound was returned from their left.
Heading toward it, a young girl poked her head out from behind a metal support beam. She squinted at them at first, then her eyes widen and she smiled.
“You’re really real.” She had said when they were only a few feet away. “We’ve heard stories, of course, coming down from Maine, but here you are.”
“What’s your name?” Rose asked.
“Kim,” She replied.
“And I suppose we need no introduction then,” Rose added with a growing smile.
“Just which one is which.” Kim replied with a nervous chuckle.
“I’m Martha Jones, this is Rose.”
“Rose what? We hear all about you but only ever your first name.”
“’S all I need.” Rose replied with a dismissive shrug, still keeping most of her smile in place. “Where’s your camp?” She asked, and Kim threw a thumb over her shoulder before turning around and leading them away.
This time the encampment was part of an old High School.
“This far south in the city they don’t bother us,” Kim explained. “Doesn’t hurt that most of the people here are under eighteen.”
And that was obvious. Rose’s fast calculations just from what she could say old her there was one adult to ever eight children, and the encampment likely house a thousand people at its capacity.
“How do you get supplies?” Martha asked, the concerned tremor in her voice giving away the fear she had for the kids.
“A couple adults and a few of the older teens like me go out.” Kim replied as she led them upstairs. “We made a rule early on: sixteen and older. Anyone younger stays down below with the exceptions of the babysitters.”
“Why’s that?” Martha asked, though the scene on the second floor gave an obvious answer.
While the younger ones down stairs ran about in regular, albeit stained and dirty clothes, those upstairs were in what Martha and Rose called fatigues. Not normal army standard, it seemed to have been the choice for most rebellion groups to dress in black. Whether that was a choice their travels brought on or not, Rose never dared to ask. But not only were there men and women, and in many cases young boys and girls, dressed like the would-be soldiers they encountered everywhere, there was a mass amount of guns as well.
“You’re better armed than most places,” Rose noted as her eyebrows hit her hairline.
“We got lucky, one raid was on a supply caravan that happened to be delivering weapons up North. Took what we could because we need protecting too.” An older man said as he stepped toward them. “Name’s Mike, Kim’s Dad. You must be Martha and Rose. We’ve been expecting you.”
“Does anybody need medical attention?” Martha asked immediately.
Mike nodded. “Downstairs, gymnasium.” And with that, Martha went back downstairs.
After watching her disappear, Mike turned to Rose skeptically.
“Hates guns,” She explained away. “Not a fan myself, under normal circumstances, but I can’t say I haven’t held one myself over the last three months.”
“And you guys have been traveling unarmed?” He asked, looking her over.
It made her grin. “Don’t need a gun, mate.” Rose said with a wink, taking poor, graying Mike aback. “So, you do raids, yeah? When’s your next one?”
“Planning one in the morning while it’s still dark.” Mike said, hands on his hips.
Rose nodded. “’Kay. If there’s an available cot, point me to it. I’ll need rest if I’m gonna go with you.”
Mike chuckled in his throat, looking her over. “You?”
“Tougher than I look, mate.” She said, less friendly this time, taking a subtle step toward Mike that had his hands fall to his side and the smile disappear. “Kim said she heard of us, so you’ve gotta know we help how we can.”
“I do,” He said with a nod.
“Good. Cot?” Rose asked again, and Mike pointed behind her. “Just pick one?” She asked and he nodded. “Alright.” And with that, Rose turned on her heel, marching down the hall to one of the open former classrooms. Desks, the kinds that didn’t have attached chairs and were usually scene in elementary schools, were attached together with cable ties in groups of three, long enough for someone like Rose to lay on, and anyone taller to curl. Gym mats were duct-taped on top of them, making up the cots.
Putting her bag beneath the desks, Rose shrugged off her leather jacket, folded it up, and used it as a pillow once more. It didn’t take long for her to drift off, and much to her pleasure it was dreamless.
If Martha could sum up everything she felt from the moment she and Rose left the Valiant in one word it would scared. Scared for her family, scared for the world, scared that the Doctor’s plan wouldn’t work, scared that at some point she would be left alone.
Rose, compared to her, was reckless. While Martha did her best to keep hidden, lay low, tell the stories to encampments and spreading knowledge of the Doctor, her friend was willing to walk into gun fire in an attempt to help rebels gain supplies. It was noble, an extension of what Martha thought the Doctor might do in the same circumstances, but he seemed invincible. And he could cheat death. Rose was not, could not, and no amount of healing capabilities was going to bring her back from a bullet to the head.
Still, she had to admire her willingness to actually go out there. Martha’s bravery wasn’t quite so abundant.
So after she helped where she could in the make-shift infirmary and aided where possible in the kitchen, Martha gathered those left behind and told them stories. She wondered, for a moment, if perhaps she should have censored some of her tales a bit since most of her audience were young children. Yet in a strange way, despite their breeding, Daleks seemed less terrifying than he Toclafane who probably executed their parents right in front of them. And as the last child was finally tired enough that they no longer wanted to hear the fantastic tales, she went upstairs to find her friend sound asleep on a thrown together cot.
Her eye fell on the ring secured on Rose’s left hand. She still loved the man that gave it to the other woman, so much that she was willing to face her fears to undergo the task he assigned them. Martha was starting to wonder if that would ever change, but for now she brushed it aside. Climbing on to the empty cot next to Rose, she curled into her side, and closed her eyes. As she drifted she remembered happier times when she was oblivious to the danger the Doctor could bring, as well as to whom his hearts actually belonged.
“I thought you only told stories.” A young man who accompanied Rose, Mike, and five others from the camp as they set out across the barren city.
“I do,” Rose said, keeping pace with them easily despite the men being so much taller then her. “But as I told Mike, we also help. Martha’s a doctor, she can tend to the sick and wounded, teach how to better care for others. My skills aren’t quite as useful, but I put them to use where and how I can.”
“Oh?” The young man asked.
“You’ll see,” Rose said, letting the subject drop for the time being. She waited, knowing what was coming as it always did when she went along on these missions.
“So tell us about this Doctor guy,” Mike eventually said. “Stories have started coming to us, but they’re hard to believe.”
Rose grinned, doing her best to keep he reverence from her voice. “He’s one of the greatest heroes this planet has ever known, sworn to defend it at any cost, even to himself. Right now the Master has him captive, but ‘s only because we all gave him the upper hand.”
“’Cause we wished Winters was more like him,” Someone behind her commented, and those around her grumbled their agreement with regret.
“That’s what the Master does, though. He’s sorta hypnotic. But right now, even though he’s captive, the Doctor’s planning how to end it.”
“You sound sure.” Mike snorted.
“Been with that man for the last three years of my life, been in more tight spots and prison cells than I care to think of, but he’s always gotten us out. Always. And never once has he let me down, or anyone else. In fact, there was this one time when we traveled to a place called Satellite 5 ….”
And that’s how Rose did her part. She spoke to the soldiers, the ones who needed more than the pretty stories Martha told. It’s not like the soldiers didn’t listen to those, but Rose noted that they usually believed easier when they heard struggles similar to their own. And so as Rose related the stories of escape, of rising up against impossible odds, of taking down the Sycorax in twenty minutes tops but only after needing to recover like he was essentially doing now, she could sense the shift. The hope building. The renewed determination.
“And that’s why he needs us all to think of him at the same time when that stupid count down reaches zero. Because like the tea it will revitalize him.”
“But why then? Why not sooner?” The young man who started the questioning asked.
“Because until that moment the power is still in the Master’s hands. He can turn it against us.” Rose said, looking up at the confused man beside. “’S hard to explain. All I can say is that if we all think of the Doctor at the same time, at that moment, what the Master used to convince us all he was a decent bloke can be turned around on him and bring him down.”
“Yeah, okay.” The man said, and Rose could tell he was unconvinced. It didn’t really matter, she supposed.
When they arrived at the warehouse, they split up to circle the building and met up on the other side.
“Only one door,” Mike said, “And it’s got no lock to pick on the outside. Just a code, and panels been wiped clean.”
“You saw the window though, yeah?” Rose asked.
Mike scoffed. “Might have been blown out, but it was pretty high up.
At that, Rose smirked. “Go to the door,” She said, meet you there in a mo’.” The five others went ahead and moved back around, Mike and the man asking all the questions following Rose.
She made her way around to the side of the building, started to sprint then jumped. Her foot landing on the edge of a crate, she used the momentum to spring up, grabbing the bottom rung of a rusted fire escape, then swung in through the window.
While the entry looked brilliant, she knew the landing wasn’t going to be pretty. Having not perfected the roll quite yet, she landed roughly on her ankles from her fifteen foot drop. Just barely was she able to avoid breaking or even spraining them, but she still limped the whole way over to the door. Willing herself not to feel the pain, she opened the door and smiled at the gapping men and women on the other side.
“Come on in,” She gestured with her head, giving them a tongue touched grin as they all filed in.
“Alright.” Mike said, “Truck will be driving by in thirty, round up what you can, bring I here.”
And with that, the collective was off.
Rose stayed back, her ankles healing from the impact making it difficult to run about. She stacked the crates and sacks that started coming around, as well as acting as a look out considering this was the only way in and out. Well, unless one counted the window she came through.
On one of her peeks out the door she didn’t see anything. Not at first, and not more than something in the corner of her eye. But it was enough of a something that made her look back out more slowly.
Containment officers, about a half a dozen of them, were coming toward them.
Her hand fell to her hip where a small handgun was holstered, thanks to Mike’s instance, and she rapped the butt of it against the metal walls three times. Everyone stopped, looked toward her, and drew their weapons slowly.
Shifting around the door slowly, Rose was only a few feet away from one of the officers. Too close, she realized, to risk firing off a shot. She turned, met Mike’s eye, and mouthed “incoming.”
And then hell broke loose.
It always did. She couldn’t remember a time when she helped a resistance force get supplies without it going wrong. And if she had to admit, the Master’s men keeping valuable goods in a small space with only one door in or out that they knew off was somewhat of an obvious trap.
By the third officer passing through, and gun fire coming back toward her, she moved out the door and punched the first guy she came across in the nose. She lifted her gun, aiming a shot at someone approaching and fired. Stunners only, that was her rule when ever she was told she could only join a raid if she carried a gun, and by the way the officer fell she knew Mike was good on his word that her preferred ammunition would be loaded in her gun.
An arm wrapped around her neck, and without a second thought Rose dropped her gun to grab hold of the arm, lunging forward with all of her strength to throw her attacker over her shoulder. As she noticed seemed to be the case, he flipped with ease. Not only did she seem to be getting stronger, but people (especially men) seemed to underestimate her. With her booted foot on the man’s neck, she retrieved her gun and moved quick enough to take out another officer coming around the corner. No sooner had she fired the gun was she on her back, the officer she’d threw over her shoulder having grabbed her leg and yanked her down.
Coughing and her head aching, she was seeing double of the gruff man looming over her.
“Ain’t so tough now, are you lil girl?”
Her free foot landed hard and swift in his groin, and he loosened his grip on her leg enough that she could twist her leg out of his hold. Free from the officer’s hold, Rose got to her feet and swung the butt of her gun as hard as she could at his head. He went down, out cold, and she charged inside as a white truck came around the corner.
The situation inside seemed handled, so she called out. “Transport.”
As the rebels moved to load their loot and prepare for a quicker, slightly safer return to the encampment, Rose tried to ignore the pools of blood and the bodies that lay in them.
“How many are you down?” She asked Mike as the last of their people cleared the warehouse.
“Two,” He said, gesturing for Rose to follow him into the van. As they pulled away she looked to see who was there and immediately noticed he bloke who questioned her so heavily wasn’t among them.
Swallowing back the grief for a person she barely knew, Rose looked at those who remained. Always easier to look to the survivors, even if they looked heartbroken and despondent.
“Anyone ever survive with him?” Mike asked, and Rose’s eye fell on him immediately. He was looking at the gun in his hand, fingers running over the barrel. “The Doctor, are there ever any days when everyone lives?”
“Actually,” She said softly, “there are.”
“That was too close,” Martha panted beside Rose as they pressed themselves up against the wall. The rumble of the vehicle disappeared slowly, and they both carefully craned their necks around the building to sneak a peek. The van was a dot turning down the road from where they were told to go.
“Let’s go.” Rose said, eager to get to their destination. It had been two weeks since their last encampment, and four days of that had been spent walking and exposed to the elements at night. Shelter was promised here, and it was something Rose couldn’t wait for.
They ran as quick as they could, darting behind buildings and watching for the enforcement officers who seemed to be coming out in fuller force with each passing day. Perception filters only worked when the person looking didn’t want to see what was hiding, and Rose had the increasing suspicion that people wanted to see them.
Looking around them, she imagined that Chicago was probably beautiful under normal circumstances. Now it was just a lake side mess, looking much like New York had when it came to its High Rises.
“Where were we supposed to go?” She asked Martha.
“Two more blocks,” Martha replied, looking up at the street signs. “Big brain of yours, and you can’t remember?”
“Was half asleep when they were telling us,” Rose replied. “And recovering from a stab wound on top of it.”
“I keep telling you that the raids are going to get you killed.” Martha snapped a little, eyeing Rose with a glare to remind her that she was still mad.
“I’m being careful.” Rose partly lied.
Admittedly she could be more careful, but she was finding as time passed she cared a little less for her own well being. Not to the point that she was suicidal, but enough to definitely be considered reckless. The stab was to her leg, but the knife was short and it didn’t hit anything dangerous. She simply tied it off and kept fighting off the Master’s lackies while the men and women she had went with gathered what they needed and got ready to head out. But the time they’d returned to the encampment, Rose’s let had already stopped bleeding and was well on the way to scabbing over. Now, four days later, it was healed.
“You aren’t being careful enough. What would the Doctor say?” Martha asked, emphasizing the name that was become harder to hear.
“That I’m jeopardy friendly,” Rose replied automatically.
Martha sighed, and for now they seemed to agree to let the subject drop.
As they hit the second block, they heard three taps of metal on metal, and turned around to see a ginger woman in blue scrubs tapping a rod against a mail box. With a wordless glance at each other, Rose and Martha headed toward her.
“Rose, and Martha Jones.” The woman said with a grin. “We’ve been expecting you.”
“We’re starting to become a little too well known, yeah?” Rose said, smiling at the woman before her.
“As are your stories.” She said. “Two women spreading the word of hope while searching the world for a weapon.”
Rose and Martha smiled at one another, “That’s us.” Martha said as she turned back to the woman.
“Also heard one of you was a Doctor.” She added. “I could use the extra hand.”
“Lead on then,” Martha said, and the ginger woman nodded behind her.
They were taken inside a building, and down below into a basement.
“We prefer to be underground. Slave encampments are growing, and as much as we try, those who stay up top seem to be led away quicker.” The ginger explained as she pushed open a door into a wide open space.
Easily what was probably a bunker for bigger issues, the entire empty space was filled with rows upon rows of cots. There was the smell of some sort of soup cooking from somewhere, and a glance around the room showed Rose another three exit point from the one they just entered.
“Our infirmary is this way,” The ginger woman pointed to the far end. “I do what I can, but I’m a heart surgeon, and admittedly a little more rusty with some of the other fields. It’s been a while since my residency.” She said with a smile to Martha who had fallen more in step with the other Doctor.
“Anything else that’s needed?” Rose asked, and the woman paused, looking over her shoulder.
“At the moment, no.” And with that, she and Martha continued on.
Watching them head to the back, Rose didn’t move. It’d been a while before she was immediately assigned a task. A small tug on her hand got her attention, and she turned and looked down at the little girl who smiled up at her.
“Are you the story teller?” She asked sweetly.
“Can be.” Rose smiled, crouching down to be eye level with the little girl. “What’s your name?”
“Jamie,” Rose repeated. “Do you like stories about heroes?”
Rose was surrounded by the time she was telling her third story, this time the wild tale of the brave Doctor facing down both the ghosts and the pepper pot ships that nearly destroyed the Earth before. It wasn’t just by mesmerized children, either, though those were the ones who huddled closest to her. Adults and teenagers also came to listen, remembering well the events of the years past that Rose talked about. They remembered their loved ones standing at edges on high, recalled the very invasion Rose was speaking of, and therefore believed the story in between of the Doctor battling bat creatures and saving a school’s worth of children from being used like a computer.
“He held on so tight to that clamp, watching all those awful creatures flying by. And the only time he was ever scared, it wasn’t when he looked his most feared enemies in the eye stalk, or faced deletion, it was when his love lost her grip and almost fell into the void.”
“But she lived?” A little girl asked.
“Yes, yes she did.”
“Where is she now?” An older one asked.
Rose smiled. “She’s doing what you all will do, telling the story of the Doctor.”
“Alright,” One of the adults sighed. “Dinner, come on.” And with that, the crowd dispersed, and Rose remained where she sat on a cot, watching the population of this survivor’s camp hurry off for the small dinner they were bound to get.
“I tried telling a story once,” The ginger doctor from earlier startled Rose as she sat down beside her. “But it wasn’t nearly as intriguing as those passed around by you two, or the others that have come from other sources.” Rose raised an eyebrow at her, and the woman grinned, chuckling a little. “His other, what does he call them, companions? Stories sort of filter through the communications, but the ones you two tell more people can relate to. Most everyone knows what you mean about the Christmas invasion a couple years back, and hardly a soul can forget the ghosts, but the other stories, well.” She shrugged. “Kinda like mine. Seven years ago, I watched the Doctor save the world, oddly enough from the same Jackass he’s trying to save it from now. Except, well, kinda hard for the story to gain footing when I’m not sure what happened.”
Rose stared at her with wide eyes. “What’s your name?” She asked.
“Grace. Grace Halloway.”
Rose rolled the name around her in head. “I don’t remember him mentioning you.” She said softly.
Grace snorted, shaking her head. “Why doesn’t that surprise me.” She sighed wistfully. “One night, one kiss, and then he was gone. Well, two kisses I suppose.”
“He kissed you,” Rose asked, her eyebrows hitting her hairline. “Oh we are going to have a conversation, that man and me.” She said without thinking.
“Rose,” Grace said after a moment of quiet. “You’re the woman, aren’t you? You’re the love you spoke of.” She shifted her gaze to Grace, noting that the woman was looking at her ring. “I don’t remember much about the time I spent on his ship, but I do remember seeing things that looked like those circle things on your wedding ring.” She swallowed. “Now I really have to wonder what would have happened if I traveled with him.”
“You didn’t?” Rose asked, fiddling with the ring on her finger.
Grace shook her head. “He asked, but I didn’t want to give up my life here. So I asked him to stay with me, but….”
Rose laughed, and Grace glared affronted. “Sorry,” Rose said. “’S just. The man hates domestics.”
“He married you.” She said incredulously.
“But we don’t live on Earth. We live on the TARDIS. We travel. He doesn’t do the house with carpets and drapes things, not if he can help it.”
Grace nodded, seeming to understand. “Does he still dress all, I dunno, Victorian? Or did you manage to change the look?” She asked with a small smile.
Rose grinned. “Oh, you knew that him.” She said without thinking, paling when the words came out. She waited, gripping her knees.
“I know he changes.” Grace said evenly.
Rose relaxed. “I never knew the him you did.” She said. “But he doesn’t have the whole Mister Darcy look.” She said, gesturing to her chest.
Grace grinned. “He still gorgeous?”
“Always is.” Rose replied without thought. “Doesn’t matter the face.”
“Doctor Holloway,” Someone called. “Stop chatting Rose’s ears off and let her get something to eat.”
Rose looked at Grace with a grin. “How about you join me, tell me all you can remember about your story, and maybe I can tell you one I don’t share.” She offered as she stood up, gesturing to the canteen area off from the main room where the person had been shouting from.
“I’d actually really like that,” Grace said, taking Rose’s now offered hand to get to her feet, going with her to the kitchen.
“We should consider actually getting a weapon.” Rose said as they walked, and Martha stopped short and glared at her. “Not like that, I mean one that we can say is part of the whole ‘defeating the Master’ thing.”
“That’s what the whole telling the story part was,” Martha said as they resumed their walk. “Our weapon is words.”
“Not tangible enough.” Rose shook her head, pursing her lips. “We tell people we’re seeking a weapon, but eventually we’re going to need to say we have something. Other companions are telling tales, the Doctor’s becoming more known, but eventually people will want to see what he will hold in his hand when he takes down the Master.”
“Always kinda pictured it would be his sonic screwdriver.” Martha deadpanned, joining Rose as she laughed. “What would we possible get? I hate the idea of having an actual weapon with us.”
Rose considered. “A water gun.” She mused. “Gotta be able to find some spray paint around here, yeah?”
“Oh, yeah, that’s terrifying.” Martha joked before her face became serious. “Wait, hold on, that’s not a bad idea.” She said, reaching out and stopping Rose, pulling her closer to the fence of what was once a farm. “A water gun, and we can fill it with something, say that it’s a chemical that will kill the Master.”
“Could dye the water.” Rose said with a smirk.
“But is that possible, yeah think? That something that powerful would be on Earth?”
“Grace said that the Master had been here before,” Rose said. “And I think, though I can’t remember, but I think the Doctor showed me that the Master had come to Earth earlier than that too.”
“He said he worked for, oh, what was it. Torchwood?” Martha asked, snapping her fingers as she tried to recall.
“No, that was Jack.” Rose shook her head. “It was UNIT, I think. Yeah, yeah, UNIT.” Rose said, getting more excited.
“Okay, so UNIT would know that the Doctor was here. Probably had some sort of form of his biology here. What if they some how developed a chemical that would kill a Time Lord?”
“Takes a lot to kill a Time Lord, I think.” Rose considered. “The only thing I know of is Aspirin.”
“Seriously?” Martha asked as she leaned against the fence. “So why don’t we just go up to the Master and offer him something for the headache we’ve caused him?”
Rose laughed, hard and loud for the first time in months. Martha, it seemed, found it contagious, and the two were in fits for a while, starting up again after looking at the other and seeing a grin.
“You think it’ll work?” Martha asked after they had calmed down enough.
“We don’t need details, so maybe.” Rose pondered, swiping a tear from the corner of her eye. “Though I think something that powerful would be kept a little more far spread. Like maybe they’d have the gun one place, chemicals in another.”
“Chemicals,” Martha nodded. “More than one.”
Rose hummed in agreement. “Make more sense. Little bit of this, little bit of that. Different things that would stop a Time Lord regenerating.”
“Where would they come from?” Martha asked.
“We’ll think of something. Pick places along the way.” She looked to Martha. “We need to get off this road soon.” She noted.
“To the farm house?” Martha suggested, tilting her head to the house behind her.
“Good a place as any.” Rose agreed, turning to the wooden fence and climbed over it with ease. She waited patiently for her less nimble companion to come over the other side, then they started toward the house in the distance.