Run With You

Runaway Bride pt 2

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.

The Doctor cracked a grin, seemingly pleased with his instigating, and she smacked him on the chest. It only seemed to make it worse. Rolling her eyes, she shook her head before the lift slowed and came to a stop. When the doors opened with a ping, the four were greeted by a poorly lit hallway that seemed to go on forever.

“Dark, scary corridor,” Rose said, listening to the distant sound of drip. “Usually nothing at all lurking down these, yeah?”

The Doctor hummed with a pouted lip. “Could be nothing, could be the answer to our mystery.” He turned to Rose with a grin. “What do you say, Lewis? Shall we go investigate?”

Rose returned the grin cheekily but said nothing.

“Do you think HC Clements knows about this place?” Donna asked as they took a couple steps forward, all but Lance having a gander at their surroundings.

“I think he’s likely behind it all,” The Doctor replied, looking off to the side before doing a double take. “Oh, look, transport.” He said, letting go of Rose’s hands and darting to the side. Three segways sat parked in an alcove with an empty spot for a fourth one. The Doctor frowned. “Though we’re one short.”

“You’re skinny enough there’d be space for another with you.” Donna pointed out, marching up beside the Doctor and grabbing one. “Lance, you take the other. Rose and Martian Man probably wouldn’t mind squeezing on one together.”

“I’m not from Mars.” The Doctor mumbled with quiet exasperation as he pulled the remaining segway out of its place. He steadied it for Rose to get on before stepping up behind her. The squeeze was tight, and as he pressed up against her back the double rhythm of his hearts sped and stuttered. He cleared his throat. “Alright, we all ready?” He asked, and Rose looked to Donna as she nodded. “Alright then, Allons-y!” He half cried, thrusting his finger out to point the way before starting the segway.

It became obvious fairly quickly that the only real advantage the segways seemed to have was that the didn’t have to run. Rose was fatigued, Donna was in her dress, and Lance’s shoes were hardly made for a long jaunt, making the slow moving vehicles practical for the most part. Not to mention she really didn’t mind the coolness of the Doctor against her like this, even if it was out of necessity. But she was sure they could and have ran faster than these step stools on wheels, and a glance at Donna indicated she was probably thinking the same thing. Donna’s mouth twitched, and Rose’s nose flared right before the redhead let a chuckle slip. Rose snorted as Donna laughed a little more, and the Doctor’s chest vibrated against her back as the three of them all started laughing at themselves. Lance didn’t join them, though he did keep looking at them like they’d all gone mad.

They slowly managed to pull themselves together as they started to near the end of the hallway, and for the first time all day the tear Rose wiped off her cheek had nothing to do with sadness.

“Oh, look at that.” The Doctor said, pointing to a door off to the side with the Torchwood logo and a notice barring unauthorized access. He stopped the segway, and Lance and Donna did the same as he hopped down, giving Rose a hand before he opened the door. All that was inside was a ladder, a really long one from the looks of things. “Wait here, just gotta get my barrings.” He said as he stepped on to the bottom rung.

“You better come back,” Donna warned.

The Doctor paused. “Like I’d leave Rose behind.” He said with mock offense.

“Wouldn’t be the first time.” Rose quipped, crossing her arms as leaned against the door frame.

“Oi,” The Doctor said, his eyes glinting despite the frown. Rose winked. “Be right back.” He added as he started up the ladder. Rose watched him, or rather a very specific part of him as he climbed the rungs. Not often she got to appreciate him from this angle, and she certainly had to hand it to the man for selecting a suit with trousers that fit him so well.

“Donna,” Lance said behind her. “Have you thought this through properly? I mean, this is serious, what are we going to do?”

“Oh,” Donna said as if she was partly distracted. “I was thinking July.”

Rose snorted.

“What’s so funny?” Lance asked her sharply.

“Oi,” Donna said, and Rose turned in time to see her smack Lance hard on the chest. “Don’t talk to her like that. She’s had a stressful day.”

“Haven’t we all?” Lance groaned.

Donna rolled her eyes, looking back up and waiting for the Doctor. It took Rose a little longer to pull her attention back to the top of the ladder, watching as Lance fidgeted and peered all around him in a way that didn’t make him seem nervous over getting caught. Something else was going on there, but much like the funny memory that kept coming up at the mention of the particles, Rose couldn’t place why.

Hearing something above got her attention, and she turned to see the Doctor backing down the ladder a little ways before letting go and falling easily to his feet.

“Thames flood barrier,” He said, straightening his jacket. “Torchwood came in and built the facility right under it.”

“A secret facility under a London landmark?”

“I know, unheard of.” The Doctor mocked, earning a smack on the arm from Rose. He frowned, straightening his tie before gesturing for them to follow him. Leaving the segways where they were, they walked down the hall a little ways and found another entry point with the Torchwood logo. The clear door hid nothing from those outside, showing them well before they stepped inside the laboratory that could have come right out of the lair of a mad scientist in a cartoon. Rose stayed near the Doctor, eying the bubbling tubes with suspicion.

“Oh, look at this,” The Doctor said with an appreciation that matched Rose’s apprehension of the same tubes. He looked them over, bending and twisting in examination. “Particle Extrusion.” He said as if it would explain everything.

“Meaning?” Rose asked, holding her self as she watched the Doctor tap a tube with his knuckles.

“Their manufacturing Huon particles. Brilliant. Unraveled the atomic structure in case my people got rid of them.” He said to Rose over his shoulder before he put his hands in his pockets and rocked on his feet, studying the tubes before moving on.

“Your people?” Lance asked suspiciously. “What company do you work for?”

“Oh, just a freelancer me,” The Doctor said nonchalantly as he continued on to another tube. “This lot are rebuilding them using the river. Extruding them through a flat hydrogen base so they’ve got the end result.” He said, suddenly darting down to one of the tubes at the end of the row.

“Which is?” She asked as he took what looked like a small perfume bottle from the silver base of one of the tubes.

“Huon particles in liquid form.” He said, extending his arm slightly to show the gold liquid as Donna came up beside Rose.

“And that’s what’s inside me?” She asked, pointing to the bottle.

The Doctor looked up at Donna, twisting the top, making the contents glow.

Rose gasped, her whole body suddenly warming and her mind humming in a similar way the TARDIS would hum in her mind. Dizzy, she put her hands out to the side to steady herself, looking over at Donna who glowed like the liquid did, the woman returning the gaze with wide eyed fear.

“Oh my God,” She said, looking Rose up and down.

It was the first time she noticed her own hand was glowing. Rose’s heart began to pound, finding it a little harder to breath as she turned to the Doctor.

He was frozen, staring at her in disbelief with his fingers still gripping the top of the bottle.

“That’s not possible.” He managed to choke out.

“Hold up, I thought you said your people got rid of Huon particles,” Lance said from somewhere behind them. “So why is she glowing too?”

“I,” the Doctor swallowed, stuttering. “I-I don’t know.” He turned the top of the bottle, and the warmth and dizziness left Rose in an instant. Pocketing the bottle, the Doctor came over to her, gripping her shaking form gently, examining her face and eyes before cupping her face in his cool hands. “Donna was exposed to them, likely used as a catalyst, but Rose ….” He trailed off shaking his head. “Rose was never exposed to Huons like those.” He said grimly like he knew exactly how she was.

“Doctor?” She asked him her voice shaking.

“I thought I got rid of it, all of it. I thought ….” He trailed off, genuine fear in his eyes.

“Why did your lot get rid of them?” Donna asked, worriedly.

“Because they’re deadly,” The Doctor replied, stroking Rose’s cheek. She tried to swallow the lump in throat, attempting to put on a brave face for the Doctor’s sake, as well as Donna’s. “I’ll sort this out.” He said with promise in his voice before turning his attention to Donna. “Whatever’s been done to you, I’ll reverse it.”

“I don’t think you will,” A voice said around them, feminine yet very alien in tone.

As the three of them glanced around to see where it could be coming from, the nearby wall slowly started to lift up, revealing something that looked almost like a cavern with a deep pit in the middle lined with some kind of metal. Gangplanks lined the walls, each with multiple robots in black robs armed and aiming their weapons at them. “I have waited a long time for this, hibernating at the edge of the universe until the secret heart was uncovered and called out to be wakened.”

Hesitantly, the three advanced, the Doctor a little more daring than Rose or Donna, going right up to the edge of the pit. “Someone’s been digging,” He commented, leaning forward and peering down. “Very Torchwood. How far down does it go?”

“Down, down, down, all the way to the center of the Earth.” The voice replied.

“Seriously?” The Doctor said, “What for?”

“Energy source?” Rose asked as she came up beside him, hand resting on his arm as she peered down. “’S what they were drilling for on Krop Tor, yeah?”

“It was,” The Doctor said thoughtfully. “But they had some indication that there was something down there. Not so sure Torchwood did.” The Doctor said, peering into the pit once more.

“Such a sweet couple,” The voice hissed above them.

“Only a madman talks to thin air, and believe me you don’t want to make me mad. Where are you?” He shouted above them, taking Rose’s hand as it fell from it’s place on his arm as he moved about in a circle, stopping beside Donna.

“Up high in the sky.”

“I didn’t come all this way to talk to on an intercom,” He bellowed. “Come on, show yourself.”

A moment later a large form began to materialize on the other side of the pit.

Of all the aliens Rose had seen on her journey with the Doctor not a single one of them made her as squeamish as the thing at appeared before them. A spider body, the torso and head of what kind of looked like a woman sticking out where the head should be, arms that looked like partial lobster claws, and the eyes. Ugh, why did it have to have as many eyes as a spider, and why did they have to be spread out like that.

“The Racnoss.” The Doctor said, taken aback for once. “You’re one of the Racnoss.”

“Empress of the Racnoss,” The disgusting spider-like thing replied with a hiss.

“Where’s the rest of the Racnoss?” He asked. “Or are you the only one?” He added.

“Such a sharp mind,” She said with another hiss.

“What is it?” Rose asked, unable to pull her eyes away from the thing.

“Something that shouldn’t exist,” The Doctor said, slowly starting to back away while trying to pull Rose back a bit behind him. “The were Omnivores from the dark times, they devoured whole planets.”

“Racnoss are born starving. Is that our fault?” It asked rhetorically.

“They eat people?” Donna asked, easing herself back in step with them.

The Doctor nodded while his eyes searched. He stopped, eyes focused on the ceiling. “Did HC Clements where those black and white shoes?” He asked.

“He did!” Donna replied, seemingly happy for the distraction. “We called him the fat cat in spats.”

Rose looked up to where the Doctor had his gaze, searching until she found the shoes he asked about.

“Oh my god,” Donna spat as Rose cringed. The Doctor’s grip on her hand tightened.

“What I don’t understand is how you’re here.” The Doctor said, putting his attention on the Racnoss. “The Fledging Empires went to war against the Racnoss. They were wiped out.”

“Except for me.” The Racnoss said tauntingly.

“So what’s this Huon energy thing about then, huh?” Donna asked, fear suddenly replaced with a fierce, brave anger that took Rose by surprise. “Oi, look at me, Lady!” She demanded. “I’m talking. Where do I fit in?” Rose looked wide eyed between Donna and the Doctor, turning to the Racnoss as something caught the alien’s attention. “Look me in the eye and tell me.” Donna demanded just as Rose caught sight of Lance creeping toward the Racnoss with an axe in his hand. He didn’t look all that terrified, something that sent alarm bells off in Rose’s head.

“The bride is feisty,” The spider hissed with pleasure.

“Yeah, I am.” Donna said, the corners of her mouth twitching upward. “But a spider’s still a spider, and an axe is still and an axe. Now, do it!” She yelled at Lance, and the man raised the axe.

Rose watched with baited breath, her body tensing as the Racnoss wheeled around on Lance, hissing viciously. They stared each other for a moment, and then they burst into a cackling laugh, and Rose’s heart broke for the woman beside her.

“What?” Donna asked, confused and hurt.

“God she’s so thick!” Lance said as if he’d hit his breaking point. “Months I’ve had to put up with this woman.”

“I don’t understand.” Donna said, her voice wavering.

“How did you meet?” The Doctor asked.

“Like I told Rose, at the office.”

“Where he made you coffee,” Rose said, closing her eyes as she understood what the Doctor had already figured out.

“You had to be dosed with the particles over six months.” The Doctor explained. “And you’re getting married. The excitement and anticipation, the adrenaline, endorphins, all those hormones stirring inside you made the perfect oven for the particles to cook in.”

“But,” Donna stuttered, “It’s not like he knew we’d ….”

“Falling in love,” the Doctor gently cut her off, “can do the same thing.”

“And that’s what made it so easy.” Lance said with a sneer. “A few choice words, putting up with your annoying chatter, pretending I gave a damn about the celebrity gossip, and the latest trends, and hating the ‘posh gits’. I deserve a medal.” He concluded with a snort.

“Oh is that what the Empress of the Racnoss offered you?” The Doctor asked. “A silly little prize? A badge of honour?”

Lance chuckled darkly. “Like you kept saying, Doctor. The Big Picture. What’s the point of all this is the Human Race is nothing? The Empress has given me a chance to get out there, see it all. I think your little side piece can understand that, can’t she Doctor.”

“Oi,” Rose growled, glaring at the two faced son of a bitch.

“Who is this little Doctor man?” The Racnoss asked Lance.

“Donna said he was a Martian.”

“Oh I’m sort of homeless.” The Doctor said nonchalantly. “But a better point of interest is what’s down there? What’s gonna help you thousands of miles down?”

“He wants us to talk.” Lance sneered.

“I think so, too.” The Racnoss agreed. She turned her head, “Kill the chattering Doctor-man and his friend.” She commanded the robots over her shoulder, and they lifted their guns a little more, training them on the trio.

“Can I just point the obvious?” The Doctor asked, letting go of Rose’s hand and stepping in front of her and Donna.

“Doctor?” Rose asked, furrowing her brow, looking between him and the army of robots ready to fire.

“They won’t kill the bride,” The Empress smiled, if that’s what you could call it. “They have such good aim.”

“Yes, but just, just, just, hold just a tick. Just a tiny, just a little tick. If you think about it, the particles in Donna pulled her inside my spaceship,” He said, sticking his hands in his pockets for a moment, rocking on his heels once before pulling out the little bottle of golden liquid. “So reverse it and the ship comes to her.” He said as he twisted the top.

The sound of the TARDIS drowned out the gun fire, and it wasn’t until the walls materialized completely around them that Rose finally exhaled. Bent over to catch her breath, her eye drawn to the golden glow on her hand as it faded away.

“Right,” The Doctor said, darting between them and over to the control panel. “What ever the Racnoss is after had to have been there since the beginning. Molto bene, I’ve always wanted to see this. Rose, special treat for you, going back farther than we’ve ever gone before.”

Rose righted herself, brushing her hair from her face and noting Donna trying hard to keep her composure and failing. Tears ran furiously down her cheeks as she clutched her hand to her mouth to muffle the sobs.

“Donna,” Rose said, taking the red head in her arms and hugging her from the side. “I’m so sorry.” She said, stroking Donna’s arm. “’S always the worst, innit? Thinkin’ you found the perfect bloke, havin’ to find out the hard way he was never who you thought.” She said, remembering all too well what it was life for her. Jimmy was years ago, and while the wounds were healed she the memories were still strong.

“I loved him,” Donna choked out, making Rose squeeze her tighter.

Slowly, Donna’s sobs quieted until the only sound in the TARDIS was her soothing hum and the whir of the engines. Rose looked over at the Doctor as he watched the two of the solemnly, hands in his pockets, a distant look in his eyes. He took a deep breath, realizing he’d been caught, and reached over to press a button on the control panel. There was a slight shudder throughout the ship.

“We’ve arrived.” He said. “Want to see?”

“I s’pose,” Donna said without enthusiasm.

The Doctor headed for the doors, “No humans have ever seen this before.” He noted as he put a hand on the door handle, waiting as Rose guided Donna down the ramp with one arm still around her.

“All I want to see is my bed,” Donna said glumly.

“You may be surprise how quickly you’ll change your mind.” Rose said encouragingly.

“Doubt that.” She snorted.

Rose glanced apologetically to the Doctor, but he didn’t seem all that hurt. He smiled back at Rose with an air of pride.

“Rose, Donna, welcome to the creation of the Earth.” He said as he pulled open the door.

Rose gasped, a smile stretching across her face as she drifted away from Donna toward the Doctor. Her hand found his, their fingers intertwining.

“We’ve gone back 4.6 billion years,” he explained as Rose took in the breathtaking view before them. “There’s no solar system yet, just dust and rocks and gas. Over there’s the sun, just starting to burn.” He pointed out.

“’S beautiful,” Rose said, leaning against him, smiling wider as he shifted. Her head fell against his chest just above where his right heart beat.

“Where’s the Earth?” Donna asked with awe in her voice.

“All around us,” The Doctor said, his thumb grazing Rose’s. “In the dust.”

“Puts the wedding thing in perspective.” Donna commented, snorting. “Lance is right, we’re just tiny.”

“But that’s what you do,” The Doctor said. “The human race. Making sense of the chaos, marking it out with weddings, Christmases, and Calendars.”

The three stayed quiet, watching the stones and dust swirl around them.

“So we came out of all this?” Donna asked.

“Brilliant, isn’t it?” The Doctor said with a nod. “Eventually gravity takes hold. One big rock, heavier than the others, pulls other rocks toward it. All the dust and gas and elements get pulled in, pulling up until you get ….”

“Earth,” Donna said with understand.

“I’ve seen it end,” Rose said, shaking her head a little. “And now I’m watching it begin. ‘S amazing.”

“Well it hasn’t started just yet,” The Doctor said, and she could feel him shifting a little beneath her. Craning her head, she looked up to see him squinting as he looked at the space around them. “Still need to get that first rock.”

“Look.” Donna said, pointing.

It didn’t take long to spot the star shaped rock slowly moving through space, covered in spider web.

“The Racnoss,” The Doctor confirmed. “Hold on,” He said, letting go of Rose’s hand, darting back inside the TARDIS. “But the Racnoss are hiding from the war,” he said from somewhere behind them, “What are they doing?”

Without warning, the dust and rock that had been floating around started to pull toward the ship.

“Exactly what you said,” Donna said, and Rose heard the Doctor run up toward them, sensing his proximity to her as he shadow fell over her.

“Oh,” He said with genuine surprise. “They didn’t bury something, they became the center of the Earth. They are the first rock.”

“A bunch of spiders in the center of the Earth,” Rose said, holding on to herself. “Worse than Satan, then, yeah?” She asked.

The Doctor chuckled behind her before the TARDIS suddenly started to toss about violently. His arm was around her waist, pulling her away from the open door before she even had a chance to grip the door.

“What was that?” Donna asked, using her grip on the door frame to push herself back in to the safety of the interior.

“Trouble,” the Doctor said as he let go of Rose and slammed the TARDIS doors shut. He stumbled his way back over to the controls, and Rose gripped the railing in an effort to keep upright as she attempted to join him.

“What’s wrong with her?” She asked him.

“She’s being pulled back the same way we escaped.” The Doctor explained as he frantically tried to stop it. “Particles pulling particles, they’re just doing it in reverse.”

“Well can’t you stop it? Reverse the warp, or beam, or something?” Donna yelled in a panic.

“Oi, backseat driver.” He grumbled, looking around frantically. His face let up. “The extrapolator.” He cried with joy as he pulled it out.

“The surf board?” Rose asked, confused.

“It’ll give us a bump,” He said cheerfully, setting it on the console before looking around it. He grabbed the mallet he often abused the TARDIS with and gave the thing a good whack just as the familiar feel of the ship landing canceled out the rocking. There was another jolt, and the ship landed again.

“Come on,” he said, running by and grabbing Rose’s hand along the way. He opened the doors, popping his head out before exiting with Rose in tow and Donna on their tail. “We’re about 200 yards away.” He said, giving Rose’s hand a tug and waving for Donna to follow as they started their run, not slowing at all until they reached the familiar door that led to the Thames flood barrier, their segways still parked in the middle of the hall.

“Those would have been convenient,” Rose commented as Donna was bent over in an attempt to catch her breath.

“So what do we do now?” Donna asked, panting.

“I’ll let you know when I figure it all out.” He said, taking out his stethoscope and putting it into his ears.

“Meaning?” Donna asked.

“Meaning he’s making it up as he goes.” Rose said, leaning against the door. “But don’t worry,” She said, waving it off. “He’s brilliant at it.”

The Doctor looked to Rose, clicking his tongue and winking at her, making her blush a little.

“But I’m full of those Huon particles. What for?” Donna asked, crossing her arms.

“Well,” The Doctor said, drawing out the word as he moved the stethoscope around the door. Rose, curious, pressed her ear up against it. Closing her eyes in concentration, she could hear something like a hum from pipes echoing through the metal. “There’s a Racnoss web in the center of the earth. Their stuck there because the Huon particles, their energy source, was unraveled by my people.” He started to explain in his lecture like tone. “They’ve just been in hibernation since the Earth formed.” He continued, but something behind Rose caught her attention. Opening her eyes, she saw the Doctor listening to the door with intense concentration and Donna no longer standing behind him. Turning about, Rose caught a glimpse of Donna’s wedding dress being dragged while her feet flailed as she was pulled around a corner.

“Ah, Doctor.” Rose said, tugging on his sleeve and ceasing his history lesson. He looked at her with confusion, and she threw her thumb over her shoulder. He looked around them before craning his head in the direction Donna was taken.

“Oh,” He groaned. He fidgeted, looking between the hall and the door to the Thames flood barrier. “I had a plan, a brilliant plan, but I can’t do it if I go after her.”

“So I will,” Rose said, starting to head off.

The Doctor caught her hand. “Rose, no, I can’t let you do that.”

“Why not?” She challenged.

“Because it’s dangerous. If the Racnoss has been paying any attention at all then she knows you somehow have those particles in you too. She could try to take them out of you as well, and I’m not sure how well that’s going to work out for her since I was pretty sure I had already rid you of them.”

“So tell me this brilliant plan of yours and I’ll do it while you go after Donna.”

“No,” He said too quickly, his eyes becoming darker as his features became more tight.

“Doctor, please, let me help.” She insisted, squeezing his hand. “You can’t keep pushing me aside or sending me off every time it gets a little dangerous. We’re a team, yeah? Hope and Glory, Shiver and Shake?” His eyes softened slightly. “I’ll go watch over Donna, make sure she’s alright until you can put this plan of yours in motion.”

The Doctor clenched his jaw once before his whole body relaxed with a huff. He glanced away before looking back into Rose’s eyes, the intensity waning a little. “Fine,” he relented. “But stay in the shadows, and don’t let anyone see you unless it’s a life and death emergency, got it?” He asked, pointing at her firmly.

“Yes, sir.” She said with a mock salute, turning to leave.

“And Rose,” He said, tightening his grip on her hand and pulling her back a moment. She looked at him with exasperation, and he smiled. Before she could ask what he wanted, he leaned forward, placing a firm but chaste kiss on her lips. “Be careful.” He said as he let her go.

Speechless, Rose walked backward a couple steps before turning around, heading down the corridor at a quickening pace. She cast a look over her shoulder before she turned the corner, catching him watching her until she was out of sight.

As she neared the lab she slowed her step, making her footfalls softer as to not draw attention to herself. Keeping close to the tubes of bubbling liquid, she strained to listen to what was going on.

“You’re supposed to say ‘I do’.” She heard the creepy spider-alien-thing tease, and Rose ran toward the wall, ducking into the shadows and trying to keep hidden as she scanned the area for Donna.

“No chance,” She heard Lance’s voice, distant and high up. She quickly found him trapped in the webbing above the pit, Donna beside him.

“Say it!” The Racnoss insisted.

Lance turned to Donna. “I do,” he said begrudgingly.

“I do,” Donna said with false sweetness. She shook her head, doing a double take in Rose’s direction and stared.

There was no way to communicate with her that wouldn’t draw attention, though Donna had to be smart enough not to call to her. A second later, Donna turned her head away, but Rose got the sense that she was still looking at her.

Oh what she wouldn’t give for a plan, an idea, anything that was more than her staring up at Donna and doing nothing to get this woman out of the situation she found herself in.

“Activate the particles.” The Racnoss ordered, and Rose watched as Donna and Lance began to glow.

Lifting her hands, she saw that same glow forming beneath her skin. She backed as far against the wall as she could, heart pounding as it suddenly occurred to her that staying with the Doctor may have been the wiser decision.

“Release!” The Racnoss ordered, and the warmth that had started to build inside Rose grew steadily to a burn.

She shut her eyes tight, clenched her fists, and gritted her teeth in an effort to prevent herself from screaming. Her headache intensified, and she swore her skull was splitting in two. Rose dropped to her knees before her body began to contort, curling into a ball before her back arched and she nearly fell against the wall. The burn tingled to the point of numbing, her chest aching with the strain of holding in a scream. Spots formed behind Roses tightly shut eyes, growing in brightness until all she could see was a golden glow.

Rose, what have you done?” Her first Doctor asked, awe and terror in his eyes.

I looked into the TARDIS, and the TARDIS looked into me.”

Daleks, trying to kill her. Kill him.

I am the Bad Wold. I create myself.”

Rose, you’ve got to stop this. You’re gonna burn.”

Oh, and wasn’t she burning. Then and now, the fire inside her blazing as if she had took the vortex inside her once again. To protect her Doctor, and now their friend.

Rose, you’ve done it. Now stop. Just let it go.” He pleaded with her.

How can I let this go? I bring life.” She said, and she felt love go through her. So much love, for the Doctor and for Jack. She had sensed his life force had gone, and she was determined to bring it back. He had to live, they both did, because she felt she couldn’t live without them. And she wouldn’t.

But this is wrong! You can’t control life and death.”

But I can.” She reassured him.

It felt like death was coming for her, trying to pull the life force inside her out with millions of little needles, and the burning force of the Huon particles were stopping it from happening.

My head, it’s killing me.”

I think you need a Doctor.”

His lips had been different then, a touch fuller. His kiss was different, too. Much more hesitant, like he was absolutely certain she would never want it to happen. How could she have forgotten that kiss, their first kiss? How did she forget saving his life, Jack’s, her own? How did she forget that wonderful, glorious moment when she was the Bad Wolf, the most powerful woman in the Universe, protector of the man she loves more than anything?

The pain overwhelmed her, and forgetting seemed like the easiest thing in the world as the golden glow faded to a black oblivion.

“Rose,” His voice caressed her ear. “Rose,” He repeated, his voice a lot louder this time, and she felt herself being lifted and jostled. “Rose, can you hear me?”

“Bad Wolf.” She murmured, and she felt him stiffen. He was carrying her, she realized, and she willed an arm to go around his neck.

“What?” He asked, concern in his voice.

“Doctor?” She asked, opening her eyes to see a flash a fear before relief colored his beautiful brown eyes.

“Come on,” he said, “We have to go.” He turned, with her in his arms, and she looked around.

The Racnoss was screaming as water rushed down into the pit. Fire raged inside as well, the scene completely different from what she last remembered. She was soaked, as was he, and when she spotted Donna on the landing it was clear her wedding dress was ruined.

“I blacked out,” She realized aloud as the Doctor carried her up a case of metal stairs, meeting Donna on the landing before continuing higher up. “I can run,” She said, shifting in his arms when she realized that they’d all go faster if he didn’t have to carry her.

“Are you sure?” The Doctor asked, and Rose nodded.

He set her down on her feet, her sneakers squishing as her body weight pushed water out of her shoes. “Gonna need some new runners,” She said as the three of them started to head down a narrow corridor.

“We’ll worry about that later,” The Doctor said as he lead the way, bringing them over to a ladder. He waved Donna up first, then Rose, and as she climbed she heard him follow behind her.

Cool night air started to caress her heated skin before she even made it to the top of the ladder. Donna disappeared over the top, and a few seconds later Rose joined her. Canon fire filled the air, punctuated by explosions as she turned to help the Doctor up onto the barrier. When he was on his feet, they looked up at the sky where Donna was staring.

A star shaped ship covered in webbing was burning up in the sky as dozens of projectiles hit it from all sides. When it burst into dust, Donna and the Doctor cheered while Rose only smiled. Maybe something terrible happened while she was out, had to have, because the Doctor wasn’t normally this happy about genocide. And while giant, creepy spider aliens were not exactly a favorite of Rose’s, this was a man who had been known to let Daleks live in the right circumstances.

“Oh,” Donna said, “Looks like we drained the Thames.”

“Right,” The Doctor said, sounding somewhat breathless as he pushed his wet hair off his forehead. “Well then, guess that means we should head back down and get the TARDIS.”

They landed across the street from Donna’s house, the Doctor somehow managing to get the ship in a parking space. As Donna stepped out on to the street, the Doctor and Rose stayed in the doorway, his arm around her waist as she leaned up against him with her arms folded over her chest.

“Well, this has been a day,” Donna said with a heavy sigh. “Missed my wedding, lost my job, and became a widow all in one day, sorta.”

“Are you gonna be alright?” Rose asked.

Donna shrugged a shoulder. “Beats me. I mean, bastard deserved what he got. But then, he didn’t.”

“On the upside,” The Doctor said, reaching into his pocket with his free hand and pulling out his sonic. He gave Donna a quick scan, reading the results with a smile. “Yep, particles are gone, no harm done.”

“But what about Rose?” She asked, gesturing to the blonde with concern in her eyes.

The Doctor’s smiled faded. “Rose is a special case.” He said, his hand tightening on her waist. “She wasn’t dosed with them like you were.”

“I’ll be alright.” Rose reassured. “You’ll be seeing me again.”

“Will I?” Donna asked, fear and hope coming through in equal parts.

“You don’t ever have to stop seeing us,” The Doctor said nonchalantly. “You could always join us.”

Donna smiled, “No.”

“Okay,” The Doctor said, sounding as disappointed as Rose was.

“I can’t.” Donna added.

“No, it’s fine.” He reassured.

“No, it’s just. Is this what it’s always like for you two?” She asked.

“Sometimes,” Rose nodded. “But there’s also beauty, and wonder. Amazing planets, and people. You could meet people you’ve only read about.”

“And face monsters and danger. No,” Donna smiled and shook her head. “I think you run into that most and the thought of having to face that again, well.” She shook her head. “It scares me to death.”

Rose nodded in understanding. Her mother was the same way, worse probably because she was just a little more set in her way of life.

“Tell you what I will do, though. Christmas Dinner. Come on, mum always makes enough for Twenty.”

Rose looked up at the Doctor just as he looked to her for the answer. After a few moments, they turned back to Donna, “We’d love to,” He said, “but.”

“It’s my first Christmas without my mum.” Rose said, shouldering the blame. “I haven’t slept properly in a very long time, and I just wouldn’t be very good company right now.”

Donna nodded, smiling in understanding. She then opened her arms, and Rose left the Doctor’s side to accept the embrace. “Thank you,” Donna said, “for everything. Something tells me he would’ve been a mess on his own.”

“Oi,” The Doctor said behind her, and Rose laughed.

“Probably,” Rose confirmed as she stepped back, smiling.

“You two take care of each other,” Donna said.

“Take care of yourself,” Rose said with a nod. “And Merry Christmas.”

Donna rolled her eyes. “Yeah, Merry Christmas.” She said with a half smile, waving to the Doctor before turning and heading into the house. Rose returned to the Doctor where he dropped his arm around her shoulders and led her inside.

“Well,” He drew out the word as he headed to the console, hitting some buttons and dematerialized the TARDIS. “All in a day. Now, what comes next?” He asked, moving around to look at Rose.

She smiled thinly. “Bed,” She said. “Maybe not leave it for a week?”

“Oh, come on,” The Doctor said. “Christmas on Earth, we could celebrate anywhere. Want to go to New York? See the Christmas Tree at the Rockefeller center? Stick around to watch the ball drop on New Years Eve? Well, maybe not stick around, Time Machine and all.”

“Doctor,” Rose said, ceasing his gob.

He looked at her intently, sighing with his body. “Or we could stay right here for a while, float in the Vortex. A new tradition.” His eyes lit up, “But maybe,” He said as he reached deep into his pockets, “Keep an old tradition?” He asked as he pulled two silver Christmas crackers from his jacket.

Rose looked at them in disbelief, glancing up at him and giggling when he twitched his eyebrows. “Whaddya say? Break these suckers open, dance around the console room in paper crowns to Bing Crosby? Head down to the galley for some rum and Eggnog? Well, eggnog.”

Rose shook her head, gratitude, joy, and love all bubbling inside her.

The Doctor grinned a little wider, retrieving his Sonic from his pocket and pointing it off to the side. White Christmas filled the room as he pocketed the device again before offering a hand to Rose.

She took it, forgetting for a moment how exhausted she was as she let him pull her close, allowing herself to let go of all the bad and start a new new tradition, with her new new Doctor.

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