?

Log in

No account? Create an account

Previous Entry | Next Entry

Title: Out of the Howling (part 2/?)
Authors: goldy_dollar & _thirty2flavors
Rating: PG-13
Characters/Pairings: Ten II/Rose
Genre: Angst, drama
Summary: Six years after Bad Wolf Bay, Rose gets a message from another universe.
Excerpt: In only a week, Rose had become consumed by the mere ghost of the other Doctor. What might happen if the real thing showed up?

Previous parts: Part 1

A week had passed since the Doctor had made contact with her, and Rose still did not know why or what he expected her to do.

The mere thought that he was out there somewhere, waiting for her to help him, had been enough to drive her every waking action. It had been six years since Bad Wolf Bay, but it was surprisingly easy for Rose to fall back into old habits. She remembered, painfully, what it had been like looking for him before the Darkness. She showed up early at Torchwood; spent the day working on the Dimension Cannon; worked late; slept (when she remembered) and ate (when she remembered).

Mickey, though... he’d kept her sane. He was always going round to the nearest curry shop, dropping it on her desk until she couldn't ignore how good it smelt and took a break for a meal. He kept her laughing, too, and he always reminded her that if anyone could find their way back to the Doctor, it would be her.

She wasn't sure if she ever thanked him for that.

She missed him now, fiercely. If anyone would have her back, it would be Mickey. She thought about asking Jake for help, but she was worried that he, like the Doctor, would start looking at her like she was going barmy if she started talking about hearing the voice of the Doctor’s duplicate in her head.

Her computer hummed on her desk, spitting out data, crunching numbers, running logarithms. The Dimension Cannon was charging in the corner, just in case. Trouble was, she didn't know what she was looking for. Her only lead was some weird phenomenon in Hyde Park, near the Serpentine. Swans were dying for no reason, leaves on the trees had shrivelled overnight, and people were reporting missing items – picnic baskets, footballs, that sort of thing. It wasn't a lot, but in her time with the Doctor, Rose learned that it was the small details that could be the most important.

At this time of night, the rest of Torchwood was dark and silent, most of its employees having long since gone home. Every couple of hours, Billy the security guard walked past Rose's door. He would glance in at her, quickly check her up and down as if confirming she hadn’t been abducted or possessed by some new alien species, and then move on again. Truthfully, Rose didn't mind. She liked the company. Next time he walked by, she was half tempted to ask him if he thought dying birds in Hyde Park might be some sort of sign.

If only the Doctor would contact her again...

Rose sat down heavily, her gaze drawn to the Dimension Cannon. It seemed so small all of a sudden, so unimportant and ridiculous. How was it possible she thought that could work without the Daleks tearing down the walls between the universes first?

Is that what the Doctor meant, though? Was she supposed to go after him again? And if he did, was it a worth risk if it meant she might not be able to come home?

Only if I’m not on my own, she thought, and it cheered her up a little. She had barely spoken to the Doctor since their row the week before. She left in the mornings before he woke up and got what passed for breakfast from the nearest Costa. They nodded to each other when they crossed paths in hallways at Torchwood, and this morning he had briefly touched her shoulder on the way by, shooting her a wan smile, but he hadn't stopped to chat. At night Rose slept in the office or got home late enough that the Doctor was in bed. A few times, she had been sure that he was still awake, likely waiting for her, but he never said a word, and she would crawl into bed for a few hours of restless sleep before heading back to the office.

Rose couldn't remember the last time they had gone so long without speaking. Truthfully, it was tearing her apart. She had hoped that after he had time to think about it, he would see her side of things and offer to help.

And she could really use his help. Still, even if they weren't speaking, he had to know she wouldn't ever go anywhere without him. She was sure he knew that.

There was a knock on her office door and Rose nearly jumped out of her skin. She looked over, expecting it to be Billy, and felt her heart speed up when she saw the Doctor in the doorway, his face half hidden in the shadows from the hall. She wondered how long he had been standing there.

At first neither of them spoke. Then the Doctor stepped into the room. For the first time, Rose saw how tired he looked. She felt something inside of her twist guiltily.

His eyes swept over the room, from the computer, to the papers lining her desk, and then lingering on the Dimension Cannon on the corner. He tightened his jaw, but only said, "Rose, it's time to come home."

She started to protest. "I can't – I've got... there's this thing, in Hyde Park, weird things are happening. Birds are dying. It could mean something."

It sounded silly even to her own ears.

The Doctor nodded slowly. "Okay," he said. "Okay." He tugged at an ear, and then said. "You can't keep going like this. You'll make yourself ill. You can come back first thing in the morning."

His words were measured, his tone even. He was offering her an olive branch, she realized. He still wasn't onboard with what she was doing, and he wasn't exactly offering to help, but he clearly didn't like their separation anymore than she did.

For a second, tears blurred her vision. She was so tired and so frustrated. It would be so easy to just admit to the Doctor that he was right, that she was being reckless, and that she would stop looking for the other Doctor until they knew for sure what was happening. At least it might help things between them get back to normal.

But she knew she couldn't ever turn away from the Doctor, no matter which version of him was reaching out, and no matter how long it had been.

She pushed her tears away and stood up. The Doctor reached out a hand. After a second, she took it, and his thumb swiped over the back of her hand.

"I am going to come back," Rose said, not looking at him. "First thing in the morning."

He sounded sad. "I know."

She squeezed his hand. "But I'm glad you came to get me. I've missed you."

He was quiet, and then said, "Come on. It's time to go."

---

Rose dreamed again that night.

"Rose."

The Doctor's disembodied voice seemed to cut through her. Even though some part of her knew she was dreaming, Rose had never felt more alert.

"Doctor!" she called back, relief in her voice. "You there? Doctor?"

"I'm here."

She felt like she was even beginning to see him. He was blurry, though, like she was looking behind a screen or up at him from underwater on a bright day. Their connection – or whatever it was – seemed to be getting stronger.

The Doctor noticed as well. “I’m getting closer,” he murmured, almost to himself. “They thought they could keep me in here.” He laughed, but Rose didn’t see what was so funny. “Punish me. But I always find a way out.”

He sounded different. Had he regenerated? It was more than that, though. She couldn’t quite put her finger on it.

“Who punished you?” Rose said desperately. “Doctor, where are you?”

He seemed to sober. “The Void.”

Rose gasped. “The Void... but that means....”

There was no way out.

“I fell,” the Doctor murmured. “I’ve been falling for so long, so many years. I just need...” his voice turned harder. “I need you, Rose. Please help me out. Can you do that for me?”

Rose’s heart was beating hard. If what he said was true, if he really was stuck in the Void and had been for years....

He might have gone mad.

“I’ll try,” she whispered. “But Doctor, the Void... it’s like hell, yeah?”

“It’s worse than that,” said his voice, something harsh in his tone. Then, more calmly, he said, “I’ve found a gap. It leads straight to you world. Find it, Rose. Help me through.”

She was shaking. "I want to help, Doctor, I do, but..." she couldn't believe she was saying this.
"The other you, he said..."

"The other me?" the Doctor repeated. He sounded surprised, and then intrigued. "Tell me, what does he think?"

Rose swallowed. "He thinks this might put the whole world into danger... maybe everything into danger."

He made a noise, almost like a laugh, but Rose could tell he didn't find it funny. "Did he. As sanctimonious as ever, I see." His image flickered and then came back. In a much more sincere voice, he said, “Would I ask you to do this if it was dangerous?”

Frankly, knowing how desperate he was, Rose wasn’t sure. But even if it was dangerous, how could she leave him in there? If their positions were reversed, he would do everything to rescue her no matter the cost. Besides, she had done it before hadn't she – found her way between parallel worlds? And the universe was still standing.

"Of course I'll help," she said. Her voice sounded rough. "Whatever it takes."


---

The Doctor sat at the kitchen table with his chin perched in his hands, the end of his nose pressed against his forefingers, and one knee bouncing up and down anxiously.

True to her word, Rose had left bright and early that morning, out the door before the Doctor had even finished showering. Half an hour later he’d got a voicemail from her office: Forgot my phone, can you bring it when you come in? Thanks! It was among the most communication they’d had in days. Now her phone was sitting on their kitchen table, watching him in judgment.

Some part of him wanted to give in and help Rose with what she was doing. It would allow him to keep an eye on what was going on, and more than that, he missed her. Being so distant from each other for even a couple days was rare for them; more than a week barely speaking was unheard of, and if the Doctor thought about it for long his stomach tightened painfully. He resented the rift between them and knew he was the one who had created it.

But he couldn’t shake his distrust of the voice Rose was hearing, and he knew that working with Rose only to undermine her project would do nothing but drive a wedge even further between them. He had to trust that Rose knew what she was doing, and that she wouldn’t allow her compassion to cloud her judgment. If it was the other Doctor she was hearing, only truly dire circumstances could have forced him to reach out to Rose. Was it wise for them to get involved in that? What right did they have to jeopardize their world, their whole universe, to help one man?

If he was honest with himself, though, the Doctor knew those weren’t his only concerns. Even if it was the other Doctor she was hearing – even if they could help him, safely, without putting either universe at risk…

Rose had talked in her sleep again last night. Lying there, listening to her use his name to address someone else, the Doctor had felt very small for the first time in a long time. He’d always known that being with Rose meant understanding that there was another man out there whom she loved as much as she loved him. With time, and with an entire universe separating him from them, the Doctor thought he’d made his peace with it – but confronted now with the very real prospect of Rose and the other Doctor being reunited, he found himself on edge.

Six years had passed on this side of the Void, and the Doctor and his single human heart had the scars to show for it. The other Doctor would look younger now – no new lines at the corners of his eyes when he smiled, no extra strain on the buttons of his suit. Somewhere he’d even have a TARDIS waiting for him. It would be a tough act to follow; not many people preferred the cover band to the original artist. With no small amount of guilt the Doctor found himself hoping the other man had regenerated.

Rose, he knew, would say he was being silly. She might even be hurt. He could hear the incredulous lecture already: I’ve been with you for six years. What do you think I’m gonna do? Why don’t you trust me? And in many ways she’d be right. They’d been together in this universe now for longer than they’d ever been on the TARDIS. They were closer than ever before, more intimate, and, he hoped, more in love. He did trust her, it was just…

In only a week, Rose had become consumed by the mere ghost of the other Doctor. What might happen if the real thing showed up?

The Doctor sighed and rubbed his hands over his face, then gave himself a shake. Sitting in the kitchen sulking wouldn’t accomplish anything. He could at least do something. He pushed out his chair and picked up Rose’s phone, weighing it in his hand. Rose wouldn’t like it, but if it came down to it, he thought, she would understand.

He hoped.

---

Enough papers and gadgets littered Rose’s desk that finding a place to set down her second cup of coffee required some strategy. Clearing some space in the rubble, Rose put down the cup, leaned back in her chair and rubbed her eyes. She was sure she’d slept through the night – she’d certainly dreamt enough to prove it – but she still felt exhausted, and no doubt the early start to her day hadn’t helped. Though the last of Torchwood’s day staff were just trickling in, she’d been in her office for nearly two hours now.

Not that she had much to show for it, besides her rising Costa bill and some circles under her eyes. In the full light of day, the lead that had intrigued her last night seemed impossibly silly. What was she planning to do, anyway? Wander around the park and hope the Doctor reached out to her again? Maybe the Doctor – her Doctor – was right. It was dangerous to go around poking holes in the universe.

But inevitably any moment of doubt was met with a memory of the other Doctor’s voice, begging her for help. He’d sounded so desperate, like he was losing himself in the Void. She remembered all too clearly those horrifying seconds when she’d lost her grip on that lever, certain she was falling into the Void herself. It was one of the many things she’d had nightmares about for weeks when she first came here. How could she leave the Doctor there? After all he’d done for her – for both of them – she couldn’t turn her back on him now. She just needed to collect her thoughts, she told herself. She settled back in her chair and let her eyes slip shut.

“Rose.” The voice sounded almost impatient now. “Rose, can you hear me?”

“I’m here.” Again she felt like she was lost in a fog. The Doctor’s voice was clear, but she couldn’t see him, couldn’t even be sure which direction it was coming from. “Doctor, how did this happen? Who did this to you?”

He made a noise that sounded like a mix between a scoff and a snort. “Oh, the usual. Righting wrongs. Saving the universe.” He paused, and in a more serious tone added, “There was only one thing I could do.”

“You sacrificed yourself,” Rose finished. Of course he would. Of course the Doctor would.

“Yes I did, but I don’t intend to stay in here,” he said. “You’ll find a way, won’t you? Rose?”

His voice was encouraging, but she could hear the desperation in it. Her stomach twisted with guilt. She was failing him.

“I know, I’m trying. I’m so sorry, I don’t know what to do.” The desperation had reached her voice now. She felt terrible for making him wait.

“There should be a rift some place – somewhere near you. Look for somewhere strange things are happening, things appearing or disappearing.”

“Hyde Park,” said Rose, with a rush of pride. So she hadn’t been so far off, then. “Yeah, I noticed that.”

“Good,” said the Doctor, suddenly brisk and business-like. “It’s a point of weakness in the interdimensional walls,” he went on. “You need to open it for me.”

For the first time, Rose hesitated. She thought of her own Doctor, what he would say if she knew he was asking her to do this. She’d barely even scratched the surface of the rift in Hyde Park. What if she opened the Void up and couldn’t close it again? What if her world couldn’t sustain it? If even a point of weakness was enough to kill any bird that was unlucky enough to come across it, what would ripping it open do?

“Rose?” the Doctor pressed. “Please, Rose. I need you.”

Hearing his pleas almost broke her heart. How could she even hesitate when he was suffering – after saving the world, again? Still, she found herself saying, “What about this world, though, Doctor? Will it be safe?”

The Doctor’s reply came quickly and frankly. “Would I ask you if it wasn’t?”


Rose jolted back to herself with a start, nearly knocking a stack of papers off her desk in the process. So she had been on to something, after all. Hyde Park. Her gaze wandered over to her old Dimension Cannon, lying on the corner of her desk. All she needed to do…

She heard a knock on her open door and jumped, swivelling around. Her Doctor was standing there, an odd expression on his face. She wondered if he’d been standing there long.

“Hi,” she said, smiling broadly. She felt energized by the breakthrough, a concoction of giddiness and nerves in her stomach.

“Hi,” said the Doctor as he walked over, though his returning smile was smaller. “I brought your phone.” He held it out, looking from the mess on her desk and back to her. “Everything all right?”

“Everything’s fine.” She lifted her coffee cup to set her phone down underneath it. “Little bit tired.”

“You left early.” It wasn’t exactly an accusation, but coupled with the concern on his face, it gave Rose a pang of guilt anyway.

“I know.” She lifted one shoulder in a meek apology. “I wanted to beat rush hour.” She smiled again. “Thank you for bringing my phone.”

The Doctor nodded. He was still studying the items on her desk. “Did you have any luck? What was it, Hyde Park?”

In a split second, Rose realized she had to make a choice. She knew she ought to be honest with him; he deserved that much. But she also knew how much he worried, and that his trust in her evidently didn’t extend to faith in the other Doctor. Being honest now would mean needless worry for the Doctor, an argument she didn’t have time for, and more strain on an already tense relationship.

So she shook her head. “No. Didn’t seem so clever in the morning.” She spun her chair from side to side. “Couldn’t find anything behind the rumours anyway. Probably just sick birds.”

“Oh. I’m sorry,” he said, but despite his words she could see relief on his face. Finally he turned away from her desk and leaned back against it, seeming to perk up. “Jake said they got a call last night – a worker found something weird in a quarry, we’re sending out a team to collect it. Just tech, nothing organic, but it might be fun.” He crossed his arms and his ankles and wiggled his eyebrows. “What d’you think? Wanna go?”

Rose’s heart sank. It was the most enthusiasm she’d seen from him in days, and she contemplated saying yes just to keep him happy. But she couldn’t keep the other Doctor waiting any longer, and this was a window of opportunity.

“Oh, I… I can’t, I’m sorry.” She gestured with her head towards her messy desk. “I’ve got a lot to do here.”

The Doctor deflated like a burst balloon, and Rose felt like she’d ripped a candy bar right out of a toddler’s hands. “Right,” he nodded, looking down at the floor. “‘Course.”

“I’m really sorry,” she repeated, hoping he knew how much she meant it. “But you should take Dana, the intern. She loves that stuff. And they all love you ever since you yelled at HR to start paying them.”

The interns’ affection didn’t have much of a cheering effect. “Yeah, sure.”

“I’ll probably leave early anyway,” she went on. “Go have a nap, you know.”

The Doctor nodded, pushing himself up away from the desk and watching her intently. He knows I’m lying, she thought in a moment of panic, bracing herself for the accusation that was sure to follow.

Instead he kissed her.

Not a quick, chaste office kiss, either – a proper kiss. With one hand bracing the back of her chair, his other hand moved to the back of her neck, cupping her head and guiding it towards him. He slid his knee onto the seat beside her as he leaned over, and Rose snaked her arms behind his back, pulling him closer, rising out of her chair until their bodies were pressed flush together.

She spared only a distant thought for the open door to her office and the busy hallway that lay beyond it before deciding she didn’t care. The Doctor’s hand moved down to her waist and his fingers slid under her blouse, refreshingly cool against her skin. She hitched her leg up, looping it around the back of his. Her hands scrambled for purchase where they could: a fistfull of his hair, the back pocket of his trousers.

God she’d missed him.

The Doctor broke the kiss first, resting his forehead against hers. He let go of her chair and brushed her hair behind her ear, and Rose lowered her foot the floor.

“I should go,” he said softly, though he didn’t move.

“Yeah.” She swallowed and loosened her arms around him while the Doctor’s hand worked to tuck her blouse back into her jeans. “Have fun.”

He pulled back just far enough to look her straight in the eyes. “I’ll see you later.” Then he climbed off her chair and headed for the hallway.

As she watched him go, the cold grip of guilt tightened around her chest. He was nearly to the door by the time she called, “Doctor!” and he turned.

“I love you,” she said, drenching the words in every drop of sincerity she had.

The Doctor smiled, and for the first time in days she thought it actually reached his eyes. Then he turned and walked into the hallway.

---

“Not ‘wexel’, a wauxle,” the Doctor repeated, with no small amount of impatience. “A recreational device used in ‘dekir’, the most popular sport across seven galaxies. Perfectly harmless.”

“So it’s a football,” concluded Dana, eyeing the “unusual object” Torchwood had been asked to come collect.

The Doctor cocked an eyebrow. The wauxle was translucent purple, the size and shape of a slightly squashed basketball, and vibrated as it hovered about five feet off the ground: rather unlike any football Dana would have ever seen. The human tendency to filter everything in the universe through their own realm of experience was one he found alternately endearing and exasperating. He opened his mouth to tell her so, but thought better of it. Dana was a captive, clever audience; it wasn’t her fault she wasn’t the audience he’d been hoping for.

Well…” He tugged his ear. “Not… I mean…”

Cautiously, Dana reached one slim brown finger toward the wauxle – and it jumped over to the side and up two feet, bouncing her curls in the breeze.

“What’s it doing here, then?” she asked. The wauxle was darting around her head now, moving out of sight every time she turned to look at it.

He shrugged. “Oh, I dunno, probably a game of pick-up. Sneaking onto other planets for a round isn’t unheard of – like kids playing in lots they’re not meant to be on. Humans come along, kids get scared off, leave the wauxle behind.” Despite himself, the Doctor smiled as he watched Dana twist and turn with the wauxle. “When Earth becomes a trading partner with Dalakash in 2145, they borrow wauxle technology and repurpose it to make the first working Snitch.” He grinned. “You know, for Quidditch games.”

Dana stared at him like she couldn’t decide whether or not he was having her on – an expression he’d seen on quite a number of faces over the years. Then, without looking, she reached up and grabbed the wauxle as it hovered behind her head.

“Aha!” Her triumphant smile turned to alarm as the wauxle turned blue and deactivated in her hands. “Did I break it?”

“No, you won.”

With a delighted giggle and a spring in her step, Dana walked off towards the Torchwood SUV, and for a second she reminded him enough of a nineteen-year-old Rose Tyler that it squeezed his heart. The wauxle was exactly the sort of thing Rose loved – harmless and fun and different, a playful token from an alien culture. He’d have liked to share it with her.

As he followed Dana towards the car, the Doctor noticed Pete Tyler, talking to Jake at the side of a second vehicle. It was unusual for Torchwood’s Director to show up to such a mundane task. The Doctor ducked his head, hoping to unnoticed; there were few people he wanted to talk to less when he was in a bad mood than Pete Tyler.

It didn’t work.

“Doctor!” called Pete, and the Doctor mentally cursed. “Can I talk to you for a moment?”

The Doctor tried to head him off. “It’s just a football, Pete. I think we can all rest easy tonight.”

Not one to be deterred, Pete fell into step beside the Doctor. “Er – no, actually, it’s not about that. I was just wondering, ah...” He took the Doctor by the crook of the arm and angled them both so they were facing away from Dana and Jake. “Is everything all right with you and Rose?”

The Doctor stared. This was not a conversation he was interested in having with… well, anyone, but particularly not Rose’s father.

“I noticed she’s been spending a lot of time at the office,” Pete went on, and from his tone and the flush in his cheeks, the Doctor got the impression it wasn’t a conversation Pete particularly fancied, either. “And… well… you know, I’ve been there. With Jackie.”

In a week that had seen him and Rose row, it was impressive, the Doctor thought, that this conversation could so quickly rocket towards the top of his “least favourite” list. He sighed. “We’re fine,” he insisted, although he suspected the terseness in his voice wasn’t helping that argument.

Pete looked unconvinced, but equally eager to end the conversation. The Doctor wondered if Jackie had put him up to it. “Well, if there’s anything…”

“We’re fine,” the Doctor repeated. “She’s just been… busy.”

The excuse sounded no less lame when he said it to Pete than it had when Rose had used it earlier, and the Doctor felt a resurgence of the anger and hurt he’d felt then.

Pete’s forehead crinkled. “Busy? With what? It’s been slow lately.”

“Just… things…” With a sigh, the Doctor conceded. “Okay, we may have had a row. But I don’t want to get into it. Rose and I will be fine. It’s nothing you need to worry about.”

Pete looked relieved, though the Doctor wasn’t sure if the relief came from the assurance his daughter’s relationship was intact or the fact that the conversation was coming to an end. “Right. Good. Glad to hear it.”

His hand made an awkward movement through the air, like he’d gone to clap the Doctor on the shoulder only to think better of it; the Doctor was glad. With a last nod, Pete headed towards the cars.

The Doctor followed a couple metres behind, feeling even grumpier than before. Kissing Rose that morning had felt good, but they’d still wound up spending the day apart, and he wasn’t even sure she’d been honest with him. He felt wildly out of his depth. It seemed like he had no way to compete with the voice she was hearing; it was hard to believe he might stand a chance against the actual person.

He slid his hand into his pocket and pulled out his phone, blocking out the guilt he felt as he did so. A few taps on the screen later, a little blue dot was blinking up at him from exactly where he’d hoped it wouldn’t be. The feeling of guilt was drowned out by disappointment.

The Doctor sighed. “Pete?” he called out. “I lied.”

---

It didn’t take Rose long to find the rift.

Hyde Park was unusually crowded for a weekday morning, stuffed full of people enjoying the sunny weather. But there was one spot they were avoiding. On the edge of the Serpentine, behind a thick plot of trees, a circle of grass was brown and dry, and the bushes were dying, their branches drooping to the ground.

Rose’s shoes crunched over the dead leaves, perspiring under the weight of the bag slung over her arm. It was stuffed with the Dimension Cannon, her laptop, and some of the best monitoring technology Torchwood had to offer, which she had nicked on the way out.

Perks of being the boss’s daughter was never having to ask for permission to sign out the equipment.

She dropped the bag on the ground and then covered her eyes with her hand, looking around her. It was funny, she thought, that people knew to avoid this place. She wondered if it was a base survival instinct coming out, some sort of human sense that something dangerous was in the park, or whether looking at the Void was like looking at a perception filter – she only found it because she knew it was there.

Whichever it was, she was glad that she wouldn’t be interrupted.

Despite the warm temperature, she found herself shivering. Whatever this place was, it was giving her the creeps.

Gripped tightly in Rose’s hand was her last, and most important, piece of technology. Her secret weapon – something not even the brightest minds at Torchwood could piece together or figure out.

The Doctor’s sonic screwdriver.

She’d picked it up that morning before leaving for Torchwood. It hadn’t been a grand plan or anything, but she saw it on the kitchen table and took it on a whim. She hoped to get it back to the Doctor without him ever missing it.

Rose bent down to unzip her bag when suddenly the Doctor’s voice slammed into her.

“Open the Void, Rose – open it!”

Rose staggered, almost falling over. The pain in her head was immense. It felt like the Doctor’s voice was ripping through her. She grit her teeth, stumbling to her knees. Her hands clenched around the dead leaves and grass on the ground.

“GET ME OUT.”

A wave of nausea swept through Rose. Then as suddenly as the Doctor’s voice came, it left again. Shaking, Rose braced her weight on her hands, trying to catch her breath. For the first time, Rose wondered just what version of the Doctor she would be bringing through the Void. Could anyone live through the Void and come out the same afterwards? Even someone like the Doctor?

Her hand slipped to her pocket, closing over her mobile. She could stop this whole thing now and call her own Doctor. He’d had his suspicions from the start. She would tell him everything, and he would.... What? her mind whispered. He’d never help. He made himself clear.

Besides, the Doctor didn’t have time for all of that. How could she leave him in there any longer? She couldn’t. However bad he was when he came out, he was still the same person underneath.

“I’m coming, Doctor,” she whispered. “Just hang on.”

Scrambling to stand up, Rose pulled out her laptop, the Dimension Cannon, and Torchwood’s most advance electromagnetic radiation detector. She switched on the radiation detector, and peered at the screen. A small smile tugged at her slips. Void stuff. Everywhere.

She followed the signal to the strongest point. Right to the centre of the clearing.

She set the Dimension Cannon down and then raced back to the laptop, plugging in the radiation detector. Rose’s fingers tapped impatiently at her side as the computer sifted through the readings. Finally it pulled up a frequency for the Dimension Cannon.

She raced back to her bag and pulled out the longest computer cord she’d brought. She plugged it into the laptop and ran back to the Dimension Cannon. There it was, then. Plug that thing on, turn on the sonic screwdriver and – BAM, whatever had been sucked through the Void would get spat out again. She hoped anyway. She didn’t exactly fancy getting sucked towards the Void herself. Once had been enough.

It was time. Rose scrambled back to the edge of the clearing, right where the grass was beginning to brown. She glanced around her, making sure people were still giving the place a wide birth. Satisfied, she pulled out the sonic screwdriver, and turned towards the Dimension Cannon.

She took a deep breath. She’d told the Doctor she loved him. At least that she had told him that. She released the breath. Now or never.

She turned on the sonic screwdriver. It buzzed to life, and she pointed it at the Cannon, turning the setting to 18A.

The effect was immediate. There was a flash of blinding light and then an explosion of energy. The blast threw Rose backwards and she crashed into the tree behind her. Branches and twigs whipped by her face, and her elbow crunched sickeningly into the trunk behind her.

She tried to stand but the force from the Void kept her pinned to the tree. Things were flying out of the Void – footballs, picnic baskets, torn newspapers, a swan, a family of ducks, and – Rose’s heart leapt – a man. He fell from the Void and then landed on the ground, curling into himself.

Rose fumbled for the sonic screwdriver. She turned it on and pointed it at the Dimension Cannon, and the Void seemed to stitch itself up before her very eyes, a tear pulling itself back together. As quickly as it started, the air settled and the clearing was calm.

Rose stumbled to her feet, cradling her sore elbow close to her side. She ran forward, dodging the debris now lining the ground, barely avoiding stepping on the swan. It hissed angrily at her, and flapped its wings menacingly. She ignored it.

She reached the man and dropped to her knees.

“Doc—" she began, and then stopped. It wasn’t him – or rather it was him, but he’d changed. Funny – all those dreams she’d been having with him, and it had never even occurred to her that he might have regenerated.

She couldn’t help feeling a twinge of disappointment.

“Doctor,” she forced herself to say. She touched him on the arm, keeping her voice gentle. “Doctor, can you hear me?”

He was shorter than he had been, and his clothes were loose and dirty. She wondered if he had only regenerated recently. His face was unshaven, and his hair—lighter now than she’d ever seen it—was a mess. He was a new man.

Of course his hair is messy, she chided herself. Not like ‘hair care’ would have been top of the list in the Void.

The man groaned and rolled over, clutching his head. “Hell,” he rasped, “I’m in hell.”

“No, Doctor, no,” Rose said, trying to keep her tone light and soothing. “You’re back now. I got you out.”

At first he had no reaction to her words. Despite her calm voice, Rose was anything but. He didn’t seem to recognize her at all.

Then, very slowly, he began to smile. “Grass,” he whispered. He pulled up a fistfull of brown grass and weeds and then released it, watching it flutter to the ground. Then he was on his haunches, moving surprisingly quickly for a man who had just fallen through a rift in time and space. “Air!” he said. He laughed, throwing his head back. “Sky. Blue sky. The sun.” He closed his eyes, drinking it in.

Rose felt herself begin to smile. “Not half bad, yeah?”

The Doctor opened his eyes and then turned his head to look at her. He looked her up and down, but there was no glimmer of recognition, no fondness in his eyes.

“You,” he whispered. His voice was hoarse like he was getting used to it again. “So dependable. So loyal. Like a trained lapdog. You come when the master calls.”

Rose blinked at him and instinctively took a step back. He’d just been through hell and back, she reminded herself. If he was acting funny, he had a good reason. She swallowed and said, “You’ve – you’ve regenerated.”

His smile was back. There was nothing familiar about it, though. Nothing of the Doctor in it. Rose’s heart began to pound. What exactly happened to him in there?

“Wrong,” the man said. “Play again.”

Rose took another step backwards. She slipped her fingers in her pocket, fingers reaching for her mobile. The man was faster than she was, though. She barely saw him move, but he was in front of her, hands gripping her forearms, his face staring down into hers. Rose bit her lip to keep from crying out. Her elbow was aching.

“There’s no call for that, Rose,” he said. “I haven’t even introduced myself yet.”

“You’re not the Doctor.”

Chapter three

Comments

( 8 comments — Leave a comment )
doctorxdonna
Aug. 17th, 2014 08:13 pm (UTC)
Oooo this is getting good. Of course I'm wondering who the man that came from the Void really is, if not the Doctor. My bets are on the Master, but I guess only time will tell if I'm right.
_thirty2flavors
Aug. 18th, 2014 01:52 am (UTC)
The next chapter will definitely clear that up! Thanks for reading! It shouldn't be too long until chapter 3.
ibishtar
Aug. 17th, 2014 11:01 pm (UTC)
I've just read through both chapters and I'm really enjoying the characterisations and I'm excited over the turn the story has taken. I was totally fooled, it only hit me who else it could be when Rose was in Hyde Park, and then it all clicked into place retroactively. Sanctimonious. Gah! So that was a well-seeded twist.
Nice to see intern Dana has swapped the weird and wonderful world of community radio for the weird and wonderful world of Torchwood, and that the Doctor has been railing against the bullshit that is unpaid internships.
The Snitch thing was super cute, and I was reminded of that adage that when you're in love you become unable to enjoy beauty and wonder on your own, because you just wish your loved one was there to share it with you.
The Doctor and Rose feel very real and natural. I really appreciate when stories have both their POV. The Doctor's awkwardness with Pete was very funny and rung true, and I loved the detail of Rose knowing that the Doctor must be nearby because Tony was laughing so much, aww.

Edited at 2014-08-17 11:01 pm (UTC)
_thirty2flavors
Aug. 18th, 2014 01:51 am (UTC)
I'm glad it was both surprising but well-seeded! That's something that winds up being quite hard to judge on your own when you obviously already know where everything's going. We were a bit surprised after chapter 1 how many people had already twigged "this is clearly not the Doctor", but it seems like most people hadn't figured out who it actually is, so that's reassuring.

I'm also glad you caught the Intern Dana cameo, hahaha. I never even made it up to her episodes of WTNV but once goldy_dollar introduced interns I knew I had to name one of them Dana and style her after the lovely Jasika Nicole. She was originally just a name drop, but then she worked her way into that scene. Plus I've always kind of liked the idea that the Doctor would constantly find himself surrounded by would-be companions, even if he isn't actually in the market for one.

And lastly obviously it's good to know the characters feel real and natural, that's something I think we both value a lot in stories so, you know, it's nice to hear we're doing it well.

Thanks for reading! And thanks so much for this lovely comment! It's so nice to get detailed feedback :D


shamoogity
Aug. 18th, 2014 05:50 am (UTC)
Ooh, this is so good! You're making me nostalgic.
goldy_dollar
Aug. 21st, 2014 12:14 pm (UTC)
Yay, thanks for reading! It is good to see you around these parts again. :)
redcirce
Sep. 2nd, 2014 06:19 am (UTC)
Oh boy this isn't good. I hit the "The other me?" the Doctor repeated. He sounded surprised, and then intrigued. and went "Uh oh".

Very curious to see where you go with this, and where in the timeline it is, (Is Timothy Dalton floating somewhere in the void as well?) and how he knows who Rose is! Hopefully the Doctor shows up soon because it looks like it's about to get unpleasant. Yikes.

Things that I really liked:
- Pete doing his very best to have the world's most awkward conversation, bless him.

-the wauxle sneaking onto other planets as part of the game

-not many people preferred the cover band to the original artist. (Noooooooo :( )

Edited at 2014-09-02 06:19 am (UTC)
goldy_dollar
Sep. 6th, 2014 02:06 pm (UTC)
Aw thanks! I hope you enjoy where we go with this. :)

I liked all those parts too. Kudos to _thirty2flavors.
( 8 comments — Leave a comment )