The Year that Never Was pt 1
She could hear the ocean, the laps of the waves against the metal of the ship. There was no way that Rose’s hearing was that good. If there was anything she learned over the last six months it was that she didn’t turn herself in to some super being, or a Time Lord. She just made herself a better fit for a very specific one. One she knew she was getting closer to. But still, the fact that she could hear the waves meant if she really wanted to, she could enact part of her plan right here in her holding cell with the right material. But oh, it would be so much more fun to go through with the long form. She smirked, thinking about it, knowing that the time had come just by counting the shifts of he guards.
A tap on the door, and it slowly opened, and Rose looked over.
“Dinner.” The shaky voice of the poor young man who happened to have the misfortune of working this particular shift said. He brought the plate in, the mystery meat and bread combo that she was used to seeing, and set it on the shelf next to her cot.
Rose smiled at him from where she laid back, hands behind her head, feet propped up by that shelf.
He made eye contact fleetingly, and it made her smile wider. He turned away, making to leave.
“Do ya know what happens when you look into the heart of a time machine?” She asked, and the young man froze. “You change.” She sat up, feet flopping to the cot and making him jump. “You could burn up, revert back to a time you wish you could return to, become a god.” She watched the young man as he half looked over his shoulder. “Don’t worry, didn’t become a god, me. Not permanently. But oh, did I have power when I went and did that. So much that I changed what I am. You’ve seen it, scratches gone the next day, food and drink gone untouched, little things that don’t make sense and don’t add up, but’re right there. The Master wanted me caged, brought over by sea instead of air, and none of you seemed to ask why.”
She put her feet down on the floor, and the young man sprung around, pulling the hand gun from his holster and pointed it at her.
Rose looked at it but paid it no mind. “You see, air’s quicker. Lock someone in a dimly lit cell for a few hours, they’re fine. Lock ‘em away for a few days and they may start to crack. A slip in their sanity can either break them or allow them to be manipulated. But see, that’s the thing. He doesn’t know who or what I am. The Master has no idea that caging me was the exact opposite of what he should’ve done. Because it gave me time to think.” Rose stepped closer. “No one thought to blind fold me when bringing me down below. Observant, me. I cataloged every detail, then this super fast thinking brain of mine showed me the route I need to take to get out of here.”
“You aren’t going anywhere.” He said firmly, a tremble to his stance.
“I am.” She said, taking another step closer, placing a hand on his tense shoulder. The barrel of the gun pushed into her left breast, and she smiled. “Best part is, I’m gonna blow this ship up in the process. All these guns will sink to the bottom of the ocean.”
“You can’t.” He said.
Rose ran her hand up on the man’s neck as she leaned in. “But I can.” She whispered, hitting the pressure point she needed to to knock the poor guy out.
His body collapsed to the ground, she smiled at him. “I hope you survive,” She said honestly, stepping over his body and out her cell.
She maneuvered through the corridors, her legs a little stiff but she tried not to let it show. When she came up behind another pair of guards she grabbed their heads and smashed them together, stepping over their fallen forms, collecting a set of keys off the one on top, and turned left. There was only one door, and it didn’t take long for her to find the right key. When the right one slid in it was blissful, and she turned the handle with a tongue touched grin for no one but herself. And, maybe the thought of how she could get by without a sonic.
The arsenal was impressive, but it would have had to be considering the damage she knew was slowly being done to the Master’s forces. She heard how the story of Martha Jones and her tales of the Doctor were causing more people around the world to rise up and fight. It caused Japan to burn, and New York to be decimated, but the movement was happening. While they would never overpower the Master, they were holding their own. These weapons were needed in Europe, where the stories had been passed around the longest, the fight stronger. With a smile, ran her fingers over a bomb. Explosives were the worst, explosives were something she hated encountering because there was no way to save anyone from it, and she couldn’t help but feel smug as she set the thing up to detonate in five minutes, programing the deactivation code to two words no one on the ship dared speak.
As she left the holding area, she walked confidently toward the upper deck. It wasn’t until she made it up top, breathed the sea air, that she found the remaining fifteen crew members. They’d been laughing, carrying on, and only stopped their discussion of what their shore-leave plans were when they noticed her coming toward them.
Half of them pulled their guns on her, the others too stunned to think.
“I’d consider getting life vests if I were you,” She said simply before grabbing the guard rail and throwing herself over it. Bullets whizzed by her in the water, one hitting her shoulder, and caused her to inhale a lung full of water.
She did not want to add drowning to the list of ways she died. Especially when she wasn’t really dying or anyone in particular.
Thrashing to the surface, she coughed and sputtered, gasping and choking, barely able to kick her brain into gear enough to move a little out of the way before the damn ship exploded. Land wasn’t far, and as she started to see spots in her eyes, the voices of men and women scrambling to abandon ship as time started running out for them, Rose knew she’d at least wash up where she wanted to be.
The explosion blew out her ear drums, pushed her body into the water, causing her to suck in more water.
Damn, drowning it is then.
She wondered if her message would be seen as the spots overwhelmed her vision. The two words she scratched into the steel with her butter knife on the first day. The words that could have been used to save themselves if they had dared to look. The ones lingering in the shadows of her cell where the guards swallowed hard when they saw it or pointedly avoided seeing it.
Six months earlier.
She’d walked through the woods for two days, hiding under fallen trees as Toclafane scanned the area and moved along. On one hand, giving up her perception filter was a bad idea when it came to those stupid metal balls. On the other, it’d been two days since she’d had anything to eat and drink, and while her stomach went numb from hunger and her throat was dry she felt no ill effects. So what could those stupid metal balls do that nature couldn’t?
Could Jack go on like that? She thought of him in the stet radiation room, how the other man dissolved to ash but Jack remained formed. Her own body had remained intact after being in the middle of an explosive fire, so she supposed he probably could live through the unpleasantness of starvation and dehydration.
Eventually her feet lead her to a small ghost town. Cars abandoned in the roads, papers and shopping bags blowing in the increasingly biting wind, the decay appearing less than most cities in a way that sent chills down Rose’s spin.
She walked along the streets, taking note of the smashed store fronts and the likely raided grocery stores. Still, just about anything was better than the nothing she had for days, and if a stupid explosion hadn’t killed her what could a little expired food do?
As she crossed the parking lot to the dark store, she noted the clothing donation bin by the doors. Surprisingly, it seemed that no one bothered with them, the doors still secured and the outside only bearing a few scorch marks from what was likely Toclafane attacks.
A quick examination of the lock system and some help from a fallen brick made quick work to get Rose inside the metal holders. Clothes toppled out over her feet of various colors and patterns, and she knelt down with her knees on some rough fabric to sort through it. In the first bin she found a vest nearly identical to the one she had been wearing before, though not as element friendly. Still, built in bra, didn’t have to look for one. She found some jeans, skinny and dark washed, but she wasn’t about to complain too much. The next bin gave her boots, still black and knee high though far more dressy than she had been wearing. Still, the sole was thick and sturdy, and they looked like they’d barely been worn. The last gave her a new leather jacket. Again, perhaps a little too stylish to be considered practical, but it looked warm enough and beggars with certain tastes can’t be choosers when those tastes were somehow met. Gathering her finds, she headed inside the dark store.
The shelves had been raided, but not as badly as she was expecting. It smelled of spoiled food, of course, but after a couple of gags Rose got used to it. She headed toward the far end of the store, where a small section of clothing had been but was now severely picked over. The only knickers she could find were mens, and she wasn’t about to be picky considering the alternative was having rough denim in a sensitive area. Socks she had more luck with, though the idea of wearing little yellow bananas at the end of the world made her smile. That, and it was like having a small piece of a certain someone with her.
Like she had in the sporting goods store all that time ago, Rose threw caution and dignity to the wind, stripping out of her ruined clothes and changing into her new ones right next to the comical socks and the lead in to mens wear. Changed and more comfortable, she stuffed the extra pants and second pair of socks in her insufficient jacket pockets and started to explore the store a little more.
Grabbing one of the plastic bags they kept by the cash registers, she deposited her extra things inside then scored the aisles for something she could eat.
Lots of things that Rose would have jumped at seemed to be passed over, like protein bars and shake mixes. Easy, light, vitamin filled, something she could easily survive off now that she was on her own and down her handy back-pack of freeze dried food.
Standing in front of some less than appealing dried fruit, Rose realized that she wasn’t the only one who had lost her supplies. Martha did as well. Rose distinctly remembered Martha had left the building without her backpack, meaning she was now in the same boat as Rose when it came to survival.
Well, not the same boat. Martha wouldn’t survive like Rose was suspecting she would.
So long as he wanders, after all. And while the Doctor wasn’t actively wandering anywhere, he was alive. That was a strange thought, and despite everything she needed to do, and all the potential thoughts she could have had, Rose plopped down on the aisle floor, mindlessly grabbed a box of weight-loss brownies, and prepared to dwell. Tearing open the package without seeing it, she shoved the sad excuse for decadence in her mouth as reality hit.
Her life literally depended on the Doctor staying alive. From the moment the Huon particles in her body activated back in that Torchwood lab, Rose inadvertently became one with her Doctor long before they did so physically. The protective instincts that grew increasingly stronger since that day made more sense than they had before. She wasn’t just protecting him, her mate, but herself as well.
“Nineteen year old shop girls should definitely not wield the power of the Universe.” She said to herself around a mouthful of brownie.
“Who’s there?” A man called out, and Rose froze.
The torchlight shone on the floor as it came around the aisle before hitting her eyes. She curled her face up, raising a hand to shield her eyes.
“Dear lord, George. She’s just a girl.” A woman said, but the light in Rose’s face didn’t allow her to see either of the people at the other end of it.
“Oi, hardly a girl anymore.” Rose replied, swallowing back the brownie and getting to her feet. “’N’ I’d appreciate you not blinding me, thanks.”
“Sorry,” George replied, the torch lowering. “Who are you?” He asked suspiciously.
That was the question, wasn’t it? Who was she now in the grand scheme of everything, when Rose Tyler was a dead woman in London, and Rose Smith the wanted was supposed to have been burnt in the woods a two day walk away.
“Marion,” She opted for the meantime.
“I’m Sylvia, this is my husband. Sorry for startling you, Marion. We just, well, we know all the survivors here and you are new.”
“Yeah, had some trouble with a fire few days back.” She said, grabbing her plastic bag and heading down the aisle to the couple at the end. With the light from the torch and close proximity, the two looked like they were ready to go hunting or camping as opposed to raiding a grocery store for food and supplies. “Town looked deserted, didn’t think I’d find anyone here.” She said.
“There’s only a half dozen of us left,” George said solemnly. “Most were killed when those ball things came, rest either volunteered for work or were pulled away for it. Kept our heads down and we managed to get by.”
Rose smiled. “Do what you have to, yeah?” She added her tongue to her teeth, and the couple warmed to her.
She’d spent a week in that town. Sylvia and George took her in to their home where they housed four others. Two kids, probably about eight and ten though not siblings, a young man in his late teens with a sickly disposition, and a big brute of a man that seemed likely to protect them all should the need for such a thing occurred. Rose helped where she could, which wasn’t much except cooking and helping get food over to them. Sylvia cut her hair, chopping off the bottled portion of her blonde to her shoulders where the dark gold of her true color came to. They gave her an old black back pack to carry her stuff and a spare water bottle when she insisted she had to keep moving on, and the only thing she could pay them with was a story.
There was a spark in their eyes when she left, like they realized she wasn’t who she said she was, but didn’t push. The story was a simple one of the Doctor, leaving herself out of it entirely as if she had only been told it, but somehow she knew they knew.
Rose continued to follow her feet and her gut when she chose her direction out of town, following the roads and highways from the shelter of the woods.
She’d been killed by a Toclafane twice.
The first time caught her off guard. She’d been wandering for a month, had just started to wonder if maybe she snapped at some point and hadn’t really survived the fire the way she had, when she blacked out. It had been pretty stormy, lightning striking quite often and quite close, and her first thought was that maybe she had been struck and simply passed out. Then she saw the down sphere a few feet away, She examined her clothes by touch, and after finding no holes assumed the thing likely tried to hit her in the head. She went to examine it, finding a way to crack open the sphere to see what was inside, and then promptly vomited when she took in the near mummified human head inside.
“You do not die.” It said simply with child like wonder. “If I only I could connect to Master. Master would love another toy to play with.”
Rose whipped her mouth, looking into the cloudy eyes, and seemed to understand what it meant by toy.
“Jack,” She whispered.
“Mister Master has so much fun with his toy. He even lets us play sometimes. Master’s so nice.”
Rose punched the face, her hand smashing through the decaying bone with ease that made her vomit more. She cleaned her hands in a small stream, wash her face and rinsed her mouth, and then tried not to think of any of it again.
She was killed a second time about a week later, only this time it wanted to get more up close and personal. She didn’t know how long she stayed dead, though if Jack had been any indication it was long enough for the Toclafane to assume its fun had been had and moved on. She had seen it coming this time, though, and understanding what the blades and spikes were going to do to her, she removed her coat and shirt and let them have at her exposed torso. She really didn’t want to have to find more clothes.
Both deaths were painful in the after math, the first producing a headache that Rose couldn’t shake for a day, the latter making her feel as though she’d been in a boxing match on the losing side. Redressing ached, so much that after getting her vest back on she flopped back down on the ground and stayed there for probably another hour or two. Not for the first time did she wonder at her decision to give up her TARDIS key instead of the ring, but she had to remind herself that it was the only way to give hope in some measure to the Doctor while falling off the Master’s radar.
She counted the days by the sunsets, paid a few visits to various survivor’s or rebellion camps. She listened to them spreading stories of the Doctor, along with Martha’s instructions.
Martha Jones specifically.
She added her own, telling them as if she was merely passing it along herself, and she had gotten better at keeping the revere out of her voice. She still went by Marion most of the time, though the further she went on her own, the less she heard of Martha having a partner at one point. The last place she went was the first time she used her real name in so long it felt funny on her tongue.
As the days and nights passed, and Rose was starting to become a distant memory in place of Martha Jones, girl who walks the Earth, she started to feel more lost. Before she had a purpose, she was helping her Doctor, but now … now she was a wandering, lost thing with no where to go, nothing to do, and no plan to build on.
“Stupid, stupid, stupid.” Rose cursed to herself as she made her way down a semi-formed path in the woods. “Should have at least stayed on the road.”
“And here she is, the wandering wolf.” A voice off to the side said, one that struck recognition in Rose she couldn’t place at first thanks to her startled, rapid beating heart and her mind going too rapidly between fight and flight to concentrate. “You faced down the devil, pretty sure you can tolerate a walk through the woods.”
She turned, looking a tall, thin frame in black leaning against the tree. The young man turned toward her, his black hair cut too short, his face too clean of make-up, but the glint in his eyes and the way he smirked tipped her off to who he was.
“Tim,” She said simply.
“I told you a couple years back that I had somewhere to be.” He said, pushing off the tree and coming toward her.
“That you did.” She said, opening her arms and inviting him in for a hug. Despite barely knowing each other, Tim walked into it. Maybe it was because he knew she needed the human contact of someone familiar, or maybe he was happy to see her again, but either way she didn’t care. “So I’m somewhere in Canada?” Rose asked as she leaned back.
“Yep,” he said, popping the ‘p’ like the Doctor would. “Came a long way, Wolf Girl.”
“Why do you call me that?” Rose asked, smiling and crossing her arms.
“You know why.” Tim replied, his confidence wavering. “Right?” He asked.
“Bad Wolf.” She said simply, and his confidence returned.
He chuckled. “Thought things aren’t always the most reliable means of getting info.” He blushed. “Anyway, come on. Let me take you to the camp.”
Rose didn’t question, following the young man the Doctor bonded with as John through the woods. Eventually they came to a small bunker that was probably once meant for bombs in war. Tim had to duck to get in the door, and inside was cool, dank, and a little cramped, but Rose didn’t mind.
“She’s here,” He called out, and someone came running up to them.
“Hello,” A short, oddly pudgy woman who was too happy to have a real grasp on what was happening ran up to her. “I’m Lorraine, Tim’s aunt. He used to tell stories of you and the Doctor. Well, still does, really, and especially after we heard about Martha Jones. But, oh, look at you, a gorgeous thing you are. Come on, we just made dinner. Nothing fancy, of course, times and all.” As the overly bubbly woman disappeared, Tim gave Rose a shy grin.
“There were forty of us who found this place at first, and it was stacked with all these cans of food and shit. We eat a little more often now that we’re down to twenty, but it had always been a production with her.”
“What happened?” Rose asked gently as some people passed them in the corridor, some sparing glances and making no efforts of hiding their whispers.
“I convinced some of those from the city to leave town with me right around the time of Britain’s election. Not many, though. A Dozen who knew me, knew the Doctor, or at least of what happened. Saw this place in my mind and we just ran. A few people followed us, building to the forty we had. Think this was supposed to be some kind of community bunker, and there’s a town a little ways away, so …. Anyway, Spheres took out about six who went to try and get supplies. Found the dust piles afterward. Had a run in with the Enforcos after that. A couple went insane and offed themselves.” Tim explained.
“’M sorry,” Rose said sincerely, giving his arm a squeeze.
Tim gave a non-committal shrug. “Shit happens.” He said with a thin smile. “How are you, though? Honestly.”
The question took Rose aback, and the genuine concern for her in his eyes was something Rose hadn’t encountered since the early days with Martha. “I miss him.” She admitted, letting all the pain in her soul out in her voice. “Every damn day.”
“You know what?” Tim said, meeting her gaze. “Me too.”
Tim was like a second Jack, though instead of constant innuendo it was swearing. And, of course, Tim could die.
Rose, finding one of her dearest friends in the soul of this man (because he was no longer a kid, even to her), protected him fiercely.
Which is how she died times 3 through 9.
Much like many of the rebel camps she’d come across, and even some of the basic survivors, they were taking the fight to the Master’s men. It was dangerous, bloody, and she refused to leave Tim’s side for anything.
The first time she died for him, it was by a bullet. They’d been crouched behind some crates, returning what fire they could to the Master’s men. If she had been honest with herself, she was purposely aiming poorly because no one used stunners at this point and she really didn’t want to kill anyone. Not if she didn’t have to. When they thought it was safe, that the enforcement officers had retreated they stood up. When Rose saw the gun she didn’t hesitate to throw herself in its line of fire, firing a shot off with perfect aim before she was hit. She dropped instantly, waking with an ache between her eyes.
“Holy. Shit.” Tim said as she stared wide eyed at her, his fingers running along her forehead.
“What did it look like?” Rose asked, her voice quiet.
“You dropped. Asshole had a buddy so I shot him, then … I looked down and the bullet popped out, and then it closed.”
“Oh,” Rose said, trying to clear her voice. “Fantastic.”
“Wolf Girl,” Tim said softly, the only name he seemed to allow himself to call her. “What happened? How did you do that?”
“Bad Wolf.” She said, and Tim seemed to zone out. His pupils were pin point small, and he stared at her unseeing for so long Rose started to worry. When he blinked, his eyes returned to normal.
“Bad Wolf.” He repeated, standing and helping her to her feet.
A month later it was from her pulling the attention of a Toclafane away from Tim, allowing him to run back to their base camp after their attempts to fight back brought the stupid little spheres to the Resistance group. They had escaped the battle, running hand in hand, until it became obvious that one of those stupid things chasing them weren’t going to let up. With a nod, they split up, and Rose fired her gun to draw the attention to her. This one wanted to play, and while she would have loved to not have sacrificed her clothes in the process of her perceived life, she didn’t exactly want to expose herself to Tim if it could be helped. So she died in her clothes, and when she returned to the camp to the surprise of everyone but Tim) she grudgingly asked if they had any sewing supplies she could use to fix her shirt and jacket.
The grenade was the worse. And not just because Tim was there, but because there were others that she now had to expose her secret too. When the Master’s men threw the stupid thing, her fast acting brain had her running for it, catching it in hand before it made it closer to where the young man and a few others were trying to hold their ground. It exploded in her hand. She’d managed to save all but two people with that act, and the ones she couldn’t had simply just been too close. Her clothes were intact but couldn’t be repaired where they singed. Not that she was really worried about her wardrobe for the first few hours. Unlike the bullet which only took a minute to wake from and about a half hour to fully recover from, or the Toclafane stabs which were the same wake time and ached like bad muscle cramps, her hand and arm ached so bad she cried until she fell asleep. The pain was blissfully gone by the time she’d awaken.
No one admitted to what they saw, and she had to ask Tim about it.
“They’re freaked.” He admitted with a shrug. “They don’t get how you survived. Even with all the stories of the Doctor, an alien here to save us from another alien, they’re terrified you might be one too. And while it’s all good in theory to have one there to save the world, the idea of one sleeping next to them, is, well ….”
“But I’m not alien.” Rose insisted, flopping back on the cot. “I’m human.”
“With some mods. Yeah, I remember. I get it. They don’t.” He replied easily.
They left not long after that, just the two of them.
“It’s not weird for you, is it?” He asked as they hiked down the road together, Tim being the one to lead as he said he knew where they should be going. “I mean, we are really close in age, all things considering. You barely know me, and we have huddled together quite a bit over the last week.”
Rose laughed, smiling at Tim fondly. “No, Tim. Doesn’t bother me.”
“You sure, Wolf Girl? ‘Cause, I played the Doctor once. Pretty sure I was irresistible for that single night.” He said, grinning as she laughed further.
“God, you remind me so much of Jack.” She finally admitted to him, looking over at his black hair and blue eyes, wondering briefly if maybe one of Jack’s dalliances had a consequence he didn’t know about.
“Jack, eh?” Tim said, clicking the K sound in the name.
“All the stories I tell you, and I’ve never told you about my friend Jack?” She asked.
“Nope,” He replied with a firm shake of his head. “Do tell. You and the Doctor into something I don’t know about?”
Rose blushed as she laughed harder. “Doesn’t Jack wish.”
And it was as they walked down the road, her telling stories of Jack Harkness to Tim Latimer while he asked any and all questions he could think to about her fellow immortal, that she died for him again. With next to no vehicles traveling anywhere, it wasn’t that uncommon for them to drive at break-neck speeds down deserted highways. When she and Martha first started out there was always a warning with the Toclafane hovering a mile or so ahead. She had heard the engine over Tim’s laugh, turned to see it coming too fast for them to both scramble, and shoved him hard out of the way. She stayed conscious for too long that time. She knew the vehicle didn’t stop, she felt Tim come up and cradle her head in his lap though she felt nothing else, and she had never prayed for death so vehemently. When she finally lost consciousness it was blissful.
“At least I can feel my body now,” Was the first thing she said when she returned to life, much to Tim’s relief. “At this rate, Jack and I are going to have a comparison list.”
“Just don’t try to beat him, alright?” Tim asked. “Really don’t want to have to explain to the Doctor why I let his Wolf die so damn much.”
It was in heavy crossfire that Rose took the next bullet for him. They were trying to get innocent kids out alive, get them to a resistance settlement that housed young ones for protection. The Master, it seemed, was wanting his workers younger and younger.
“Get them out of here,” Rose said to Tim over her shoulder as she fired two shots, hitting two men in the head. It turned her stomach as she watched their heads recoil before their bodies dropped, and a cold sweat started to break over her as her breathing became erratic. Tim tried to move again, and she had to hit another two of the enforcement officers. One was in the head, the other somewhere that merely had the woman cursing. “Go,” Rose said again, harsher than intended, but it spurred Tim on. She was covering him as best she could, certain that they were almost in the clear, when she noted the woman she shot earlier aiming for them. Perhaps the bullet was meant for her, but it would have hit Tim and that was all that mattered to her before she died.
When she awoke a minute later, Tim had her propped near the vehicle and he was loading kids in. She got up on shaky legs, found her gun in its holster and armed herself. No one came around the corner this time, and as soon as the kids were in the truck so was she and Tim.
With the door closed and them finally moving, he looked at her with sympathetic eyes. “Had to be done.” He said evenly but not unkind.
“Yeah,” Rose nodded, trying not to think about the people she shot and were most certainly dead.
“Thanks,” He said. “For saving my ass back there. Again.”
At that she smiled. “Yeah.”
The ninth death she had for Tim’s sake was inside the resistance camp they stayed in a week after saving those kids. Turned out not to be as well hidden as they thought, and the enforcement officers stormed the place, trying to round up as many people as they could. She and Tim were sneaking out the back with the others when the warning shot hit her ankle. She turned as she stumbled in agony, seeing the officer aiming for Tim. She had no time to fire, only enough time to catch the bullet in her spine.
When she woke up, Tim had her huddled in a storage space, a small window above them just big enough to climb out of.
He was craddling her between his legs, stroking her hair and seemed to be either thinking really hard or having one of his visions.
“I’m back,” She said softly, and he nodded.
“How much does it hurt?” He asked her after a time.
“Too much.” She said honestly. “But not enough to stop me from making sure you stay alive.”
“I’m not that important.” He said to her seriously. “You are.”
“Why?” Rose asked.
Tim smirked, tilting his head to where two words were written on the wall. “He needs to see those.”
Rose sat up at the sight of them. “Tim, were those?”
“Don’t worry, I put them there.” He explained. “Everywhere we’ve gone, I’ve written them on walls, carved in trees.”
“Why?” Rose asked as she stood up slowly, the ache at the base of her neck shooting up through her skull as she gingerly stepped toward those words on he wall.
“Hope.” He said. “For the one man we’re both fighting for.”
She touched the words, wondering why she hadn’t thought of leaving them herself. Smiling at them, she followed the trail her fingers made until the fell on the barrels of fuel.
“Tim, has everyone gotten out?” She asked, looking at him over her shoulder.
He searched the air above his head. “Yeah, think so, why?” He asked.
“Do me a favor,” She said. “Get out.”
“What?” He asked, seeming hurt.
“Trust me.” She said, and he nodded.
Tim said he waited as far from the resistance base as he could while staying hidden. He watched those of able body being loaded into unmarked black vans, a few of those who put up a fight were shot to prove a point. He then said that, just as the officers went back inside the base, likely to see if there were any others who stayed hidden, the whole place blew up.
And he told her that watching her walk out of the flames and smoke was something like a movie, only far more bad ass because he had a feeling she probably died setting it up.
Rose never counted that time as dying for Tim, though it would have been the tenth and she wouldn’t have cared. She did consider it dying for those who were now free to find another resistance camp. So few officers had survived that explosive fire, and she cried about that after Tim went to sleep, but she got through it by reminding herself how many people not only lived, but were now free.
Jack had found himself once again escorted up from his lovely little torture chamber, only this time he could see the frustration in the Master’s facade and the slight glee in the Doctor’s eyes. The Jones’ seemed confused, waiting patiently for the Master to speak. Lucy, poor thing, had shadow of a bruise over her jaw and was more interested in the table top than anything around her.
“So Martha Jones is still being elusive.” The Master said through his teeth. “Fine, what ever, I can figure out where she’s moved on from, tell my North American team they’ve done what they could and I’ll have them executed for their failings.” He said, and a pair of Toclafane appeared.
“Would mister Master like us to dispose of the failures?” One asked, it’s child like voice full of glee.
The Master sighed. “Only three-quarters, a reward for taking out Rose. Wait, no, scratch that. Yes, all of them. The other one was luck, had nothing to do with them.” The Toclafane disappeared with a giggle, and the Master grinned. “So full of wonder those little creatures. I do so love to make them happy, and it’s so easy!” He said, his smile growing. “But you know what doesn’t make me happy? Falling behind schedule.” He moved over to a table, running his fingers against it.
“Someone’s been destroying all my hard work.” Tap-tap-tap-tap. “Part of those who stands against me.” Tap-tap-tap-tap. “And they leave a calling card.” Tap-tap-tap-tap. “Tell me, what does ‘Bad Wolf’ mean, Doctor?” He whirled around and knelt in front of the frail Time Lord who simply stared back with as much strength as he could muster in those youthful brown eyes. “I have a feeling that even if I was to enter that mind of yours you wouldn’t tell me. Or maybe you don’t even know. But you know who wouldn’t be able to shut his mind to me?” And the Master whipped around, spinning back to his full height and stared Jack down. “Captain.” He said gleefully.
“I got nothing.” He admitted as the Master stalked toward him.
It didn’t seem to deter him any, and the Master launched his hands to Jack’s temples and forced his way in. It was a dizzying, unpleasant experience, but he had nothing to hide that the Master didn’t already know about. Well, maybe a few things.
“Ooooh, naughty, naughty Captain.” The Master said, looking over his shoulder at the Doctor. “He’s had some thoughts about you, Doctor. Not just the regeneration you’re in now, either. Man you had some ears.” He said, pulling his hands away from Jack’s head too quickly, nearly making him pass out. “You didn’t need the TARDIS to fly around space and time with those things.” Then the teasing left the Master’s demeanor entirely. “So Bad Wolf has nothing to do with you.” He said evenly. “At least not directly. You didn’t create it.” He huffed, lips sputtering comically. “Oh well. I’ll just have to take my frustrations out in other ways.”
Lucy bowed her head and started heading down the corridor of the ship, and the Master watched her go.
“Jack,” The Master said, “I’ll come play with you later.”
“Look forward to it,” Jack said as leeringly as possible before being shoved out the door.
He grinned the whole way back to where he was chained, remembering that glint in the Doctor’s eyes and holding on to that as a form of hope.
Bad Wolf. Rose had to admit she was enjoying leaving the little calling card for the Master’s thugs. It became a bit of a warning as opposed to a “we were here” tag now that she was the one writing it on walls. On their journey, Rose along with Tim did as much damage to factories or shipyards as they could in an effort to slow the Master’s plans even a bit. There was always something to destroy, and something to destroy it with, and as time went on she understood that those words sent fear into the hearts of those not on her side. Once those words were seen, men and women started running despite the occasional orders she over heard demanding she be taken in or taken out.
And slowly those words became a sign of hope to others. Where ever she and Tim traveled they heard tales of Martha Jones, of the Doctor’s stories, and now an entity that helped them both. Bad Wolf was thought to be anything from a specific kind of rebellion task force to the more commonly accepted single person. Some speculated it was Martha, but many pointed out that Martha was last seen in China, and Bad Wolf was in North America headed east. But none of it mattered to Rose, who when asked for her name now went by the infamous alias or Tim’s affectionate nickname. She had nothing to hide, but she certainly wasn’t trying to be legendary, either.
“Ah, smell that, Wolf Girl?” He asked as they stood on a pier, looking out over a harbor. “Ocean air. We’re as far East as we can get now.”
“In yet another destroyed city,” Rose mused. “About a hundred feet away from the Master’s shipyard.
“Funny that he has ships when he could fly.” Tim noted as they took in the size of the tankard.
“Some things wouldn’t be smart to transport by air.” Rose noted.
“How did you and Martha get over here?” Tim asked, and Rose looked to see his genuine curiosity. She gestured to the ship. “Seriously?”
“Another reason there are so many boats: most planes are grounded. Need special clearance to be on one, and that usually means being one of Harold Saxon’s lackeys.” She explained. “She and I had our perception filters, we just walked right on and stayed hidden for five days.”
“Huh,” Tim snorted, and the pair turned away, heading back up the steep hill through the empty streets. “Have any idea where we’re staying this evening? Not that I’m complaining, but even with you somehow scaring off the wild dogs I don’t particularly enjoy the idea of spending another day outside.”
“Oh, come on.” Rose teased. “’S March. Everything the Master’s done, it’s practically global warming in full effect.”
“But it’s still fucking cold at night, and I don’t particularly like the idea of a 900 year old alien coming to kill me because I’ve snuggled his woman for warmth.”
Rose chuckled, looking at Tim with her tongue between her teeth as he blushed. “He won’t kill you. You saved me, for that he’ll be grateful.”
“You can’t die, how did I save you?” Tim asked with flared nostrils and a poorly hidden grin.
“Alone, not really fully understandin’ what happens when I do die. You said you had to be here when I arrived, that traveling with us would mean you’d miss out on that. I know you always thought it was so you could bring me out this way, but I think it was more.”
“You needed someone period.” He nodded.
“Yep,” Rose said, popping the ‘p’, stopping as she noted a pub sign. “Beer never goes bad.” She noted as she gestured to the sign. “Might not be cold, but hell.”
“Thought you English drank your beer warm anyway?” He asked.
“Nasty,” Rose turned her nose at it, and Tim chuckled. “Besides, you’re how old again? You even allowed in there?”
“Drinking age is nineteen in this area. Pretty sure I’m above the legal limit anywhere but south of the border, and I don’t think anyone’s going to give a shit with the end of the world happening around them” Time countered, and Rose giggled.
“Alright, let’s head in then.” She gestured to the doors, trying them first before smashing the window and fingering the deadbolt lock. No alarms went off, much to her surprise, but then again electricity seemed to be a hard thing to keep stable these days.
“So we just going to sleep behind the bar or something? He asked as Rose made her way around to try the taps. She was giddy when they eventually started providing draft, even if it was a little moldy.
“Could do, yeah,” She said. “But first, let’s see what we got.” She said, throwing her thumb over her shoulder and heading for the back room. She went in, hearing Tim starting to follow, and smiled when she saw the untouched cases of beer. “Drinks are on me, mate.” She exclaimed, skipping over and grabbing a case from the top.
“What about the tap?” Tim asked as he rushed over to give her a hand despite knowing she wouldn’t need it.
“It’s nothing but mold.” Rose replied. “This has been sealed, should be fine.” She set the case down and blew at her bangs. “Now, food would be a good idea too. Looks like someone raided the crisps supplies a while ago. Don’t even want to know what the freezer looks like.”
“How can anyone leave behind perfectly good beer?” Tim asked as he ran his hands along the case.
“Who said they had?” A woman asked, and Rose turned to look at the lady with the shot gun pointed at them. She shifted to stand in front of Tim, hoping she wasn’t going to learn the difference in healing time between a shot from a handgun and that.
“We’re sorry,” Rose said calmly, hands still at her side. “Just passing through, thought maybe we’d have a pint.”
The woman’s gaze narrowed on her. “Who are you?” She asked, not lowering the gun an inch.
“That’s Tim,” Rose said with a slight tilt of the head. “He calls me Wolf Girl.”
“Wolf Girl?” The gun lowered a bit.
“Yeah.” Tim said with a bit more attitude than he probably should. “As in Bad Wolf.”
The gun was set aside. “Always thought you’d be butcher.” The woman said as she came up to Rose and eyed her over. She towered over Rose, and probably intimidated a few people in her time.
“Appearances can be deceiving.” Rose replied. “Now, if we’re an issue, let us go. We’ll be glad to move along.”
“No,” The woman said, “quite alright. You two need food, shelter?” She asked, looking over them both. “Look like you’ve had some better days.”
“Haven’t we all?” Rose countered.
To that, the woman laughed without humor. “Guess we have. Come on, follow me.” She said, gesturing behind her before collecting her gun and leading them around the corner. There was a hidden door in the wall, and with a patter of knocks it opened.
“Underground. Clever.” Rose commented as she and Tim were led down a set of stairs to the crowded basement.
“Keeps us hidden, that’s for sure.” She said. “You guys are welcome to stay down here for the night, but it’s cramped.”
“It’s fine.” Rose waved it off. “We’ll manage.”
“What’s it like up there?” Tim asked her as they laid out on the roof top, the inside simply too cramped for even them to stay below. Eventually they’d return to the bar, sleep on the tables or on a bench, but the two travelers needed the air they’d grown used to.
“You know what it’s like.” Rose countered.
“I was on one planet for five minutes tops, two years ago. You live it. What’s it like?”
“’S beautiful.” Rose admitted. “I’ve seen so many things, so much that you couldn’t even believe. Well, maybe you can.” She said with a grin.
“One of the stories is that you’ve seen the end of the world, and it was so much further ahead than where we are now.” Tim said, and Rose looked over to see his eyes had been staring off for a moment. “His last self, right?”
“Yeah,” She nodded. “Though I usually leave that part out when I tell it. Creeps people out.” She said with a smile.
Tim grinned. “I think it was smart you told that story, even if it was a different him.” He said, eyes shifting to his knees where one leg was folded over the other. “I was talking to one of the girls in there. Hot, so, so hot. Which reminds me, you’re now my sister if anyone asks. Anyway,” He said, pointedly ignoring Rose’s laugh. “She said that the stories of the Doctor had been circulating here for months, and that’s the one that brings the most hope. That there was an end of the world, and now is not it. That he will step up and take out the bastard when you guys told people he would.” He paused, shifting to lay on his side. “He will, won’t he? Step up? Someone told me Japan was gone. Literally gone, just a wasteland of burn nothing. No one walked away but Martha, and I can’t.” He sucked in a breath. “This is way more messed up than it should’ve ever been.”
“If I believe in one thing it’s the Doctor.” Rose said firmly, getting Tim to look her in the eye. “I’m not saying it because I love him, I’m saying it because I’ve seen him do so much for so many and never for his own benefit.”
Tim nodded, the reassurance he usually needed when they arrived somewhere like this having been given.
“Wolf Girl,” He said after a moment, licking his lips before pushing his tongue into the hollow of his cheek. “I think our time is up.”
“Whaddya mean?” Rose asked, turning on her side.
He shook his head. “You gotta get back over there. There’s forty-nine days left until the countdown, and you have to be there with the Doctor when it happens. You know it, I know it. Martha’s three quarters of the way there, supposedly with the pieces of this fantastic weapon that’s gonna kill the bastard cold. It’s time you head over.”
“What ‘bout you?” Rose asked, her heart breaking a little.
Tim shook his head. “Thought things don’t show me there. Don’t show me anything, actually. Little worried about what that might mean.”
It was Rose’s turn to inhale deeply, turning away so he wouldn’t see how much that scared her. “You won’t die.” She said firmly.
“You’re not going to be here much longer to make sure that doesn’t happen.” He said with a bit of humor.
“Yeah, but your not.” She said. “You’re gonna survive, and in fifty days, maybe fifty one, you’re gonna see a blue police box and you’re going to be travelin’ with us, you understand?” She demanded.
Tim laughed, his smile wide and child like. “Yeah, alright.” He said.
“No, you are.” She said firmly, and he rolled his eyes back to hers. “You’re like a kid brother to me.” She said with a catch in her voice. “Might just have an actual one in another universe but these last few months, with you, ‘s like I got to live what that’s like. Jack’s like the big brother I never had, but ‘s like you’re the little brother I’d have never known otherwise.”
“Hey, name’s Tim, not Tony.” He snorted.
“What?” Rose asked, her breath caught.
He looked over at her with a slight grin, his eyes glassy. “Just saying shit.” He said quietly.
They both rolled back on to their backs, looking up at the stars above.
“When should I leave?” She asked him after the silence started to get too heavy.
“You should tomorrow.” He replied.
“Okay,” She said. “I’ll leave first thing, before anyone really gets up.”
“Rose?” He said, and she whipped her head toward Tim at the use of her name. He looked at the space between them before looking at her. “Thank you. For everything. You and the Doctor, you guys saved my life way more than you know. In ways you can never imagine, and have from the day you landed in my hometown.”
She smiled, lips in her mouth as she nodded and fought the urge to cry.
They stayed outside until it got too cold, then went to sleep in a booth inside.
When the sun started peeking through the window, Rose got up, kissed Tim on the forehead and left.
It had been a weapons ship, that big, beautiful thing in the harbor. She walked down to the pier, headed right for it, and was already aboard before someone noticed her. Rose had put up no resistance when they told her she was under arrest, and when asked who she was she simply replied, “Bad Wolf.”
Calls were made, more guns started to get pointed toward her, and eventually they brought her down to her holding cell. She was stay on the ship, brought back to England, and from there an escort of armed men were to bring her to the nearest airfield where she’d have been brought up to the Valiant. But Rose knew that that wasn’t going to happen. She didn’t need Tim to tell her that it was too early, her gut told her that. So she took the utensil they had so kindly provided with her meal and etched the warning.
Drowning, not Jack’s favorite way to go. And resurfacing for the third time to the Master’s gleeful grin from watching it happen on repeat was starting to become boring.
“You’re starting to lose your originality.” Jack managed to say before his head was forced under again. Voices mumbled, and just as the black spots started clouding his vision he was pulled from the water.
“Hold on,” The Master said to the guard holding Jack’s neck before looking at the messenger in front of him. “What do you mean the ship was destroyed?”
“It was blown up off the coast of Cardiff.” The man said, barely able to look the Master in the eye.
“Any survivors?” The Master asked, and the man fidgeted before he shook his head. “Good. This Bad Wolf person shouldn’t be a problem.” The man squeaked and the Master, who had been entirely set to resume Jack’s death de jour, looked back at the messenger with dark, dangerous eyes. “What?”
“There are no survivors, Saxon, sir. But … well, there had been a couple before they succumbed to injury. They said,” The man swallowed. “They said she jumped overboard.”
“She?” The Master snorted before he smiled. “Did they give a description?” The man shook his head. “Too bad. At least we know she’s here somewhere. Now, run along.” He waved him off. He paused, his face a mix of various emotions before he looked to Jack, then to his guard. “Chain him back up. I’m done for today.” And without another word, the Master left.
A girl. A Bad … Wolf … Girl.
Oh. Was it …?
Jack didn’t dare hope or believe, but the next forty-two days started to seem a little more bearable at the thought that someone special was still out there after all.
She came to as arms pulled her from the water, and she hoped that it was friend and not foe.
“Easy now, we got ya,” A friendly enough voice said as she felt her knees come in contact with wood. Opening her eyes, she looked up at the very spot the TARDIS would have been parked on a refuel. “What ya doin’ in the harbor, missy?”
“Just going for a bit of a swim.” She said, her voice weak. “Made it to Cardiff, did I?”
“That ya did. We weren’t intending to stay here though, if that was your plan. We actually base in London, just had to come out here to deliver supplies while the threat seemed low.” That voice said.
“London. Sounds perfect.” She managed to say before slowly getting to her knees. Only her chest ached this time, and for that Rose was thankful.
“Names Bob,” He said, and Rose finally looked up at the gruff looking skinny guy in clear rebellion attire. “And who are you?”
“Known around as Bad Wolf, me.” Rose replied with a sly smirk, enjoying the way the man’s eyes lit up.
“Are you?” Her body went cold at that voice, and she eyes narrowed as they turned a venomous gaze at the skinny, strawberry blonde standing five feet away. “Rose Tyler, chav from the Estates, is the Big Bad Wolf?”
“Jimmy Stone,” She said as evenly as possible. “I would never have thought you’d be one of the good guys.”