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Title: Out of the Howling (part 3/?)
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 his long life, Rose knew, the Doctor had made plenty of enemies. But this felt different. She could see the tightly-wound anxiety buzzing beneath the Doctor’s skin. “Who is he?”

Previous parts: Part 1; Part 2

“You’re not the Doctor.”

The man rolled his eyes. “That sanctimonious idiot? No.” He leaned in closer and Rose felt his breath on her face. She wanted to gag. “But you? You wanted to believe it was him so badly. Humans. You know what I like most about you lot? You’re all so gullible.”

Rose struggled, but the man tightened his grip, fingers digging into her skin. “Let go of me.”

“I can see why he likes you. Always did have a thing for blondes,” the man said. He smiled. “A chav, though, that’s rarer.”

“Go to hell,” Rose spat, and then she brought her knee up with all the force she could muster, connecting between his legs.

The man doubled over, releasing her. Rose started to run and then stopped. The Dimension Cannon. It was still active. Whoever this man was, if he got his hands on that, if he had the power to travel between worlds... it wouldn’t just be her world that was in danger, it would be every world. She couldn’t let that happen.

She yanked out the sonic screwdriver and pointed it at the Dimension Cannon, turning it to the highest frequency she could remember. After a few short seconds, the Dimension Cannon shorted out and then burst into flames, useless. For good measure, Rose dropped the sonic screwdriver on the ground and stomped on it. It broke into two pieces under her foot.

She heard a noise behind her and knew the man had recovered. She felt tears prick her eyes. At least she had done what she could do slow him down. At least now the Doctor had a chance of stopping him even if she....

She didn’t want to think like that.

She turned around to face the man. He cricked his neck and came towards her. The mad smile from before was gone from his face, replaced with something darker, more sinister. She couldn’t believe she had ever thought this person could be the Doctor. She watched him in silence, her panic rising. Why hadn’t she brought a gun with her? How could she have been that trusting – that stupid? At least with a gun she would have had a chance to defend herself.

“I don’t know if you’ve noticed,” the man said, “but I’ve been having a really difficult time of it lately.”

“There’s a Doctor in this world, too,” she found herself saying. “You can do what you want to me. But he’s gonna stop you.”

“I love it when he tries,” the man said. He was only inches from her. Rose leaned back on one leg and whipped the other one around, but he saw her coming this time. He caught her leg and she lost her balance, falling to the ground. Her head snapped back. Her vision darkened, and then the man’s hands pressed up against her temples, his fingers cold and foreign.

Pain seared from where his fingers touched her temples to the back of her head. Her body felt strange; she couldn’t move. She cried out. “What are you doing to me? Stop,” she said. “Please stop. I can’t...”

He pressed his face up against hers. “The companion who looked into the heart of the TARDIS. I’ve been inside your head, Rose. Question is, can you handle what’s in mine?”

The pain pulsed and pulsed from the tips of his fingers to the back of her head. She knew she was crying out, begging with him to stop, but she could no longer make out her own voice.

Then he started yelling and released her. The world swam into view above her, and Rose saw the man’s body twitching and convulsing. Dimly, she heard voices in the background. Someone yelled: “It’s not enough! Hit him again!”

Light flashed above her and struck the man in the chest. He fell over, writhing and twitching on the ground.

Rose struggled to push herself up. Then she heard the Doctor’s voice. “WHAT HAVE YOU DONE TO HER?”

She had never heard him yell like that before. The Doctor rushed over to the man. He had stopped twitching on the ground, but didn’t put up any resistance when the Doctor grabbed him. The Doctor hauled the man to his feet by his hoodie and shook him. “TELL ME WHAT YOU’VE DONE TO HER RIGHT NOW—"

“Doctor...” Rose found herself saying. She managed to push herself to her feet. She swayed slightly, and she was shaking, but otherwise she felt okay. “Whatever he did – I’m fine now, yeah? You stopped it.”

The Doctor turned, eyes roaming over her face like he was seeing her for the first time. His face filled with relief. He released the man who flopped back to the ground like a ragdoll.

Rose staggered over to the Doctor, almost lost her footing, but he caught her, and then she was in his arms. They stayed like that for a moment, neither of them moving. Rose could feel his heart one heart thumping wildly, but slowly she felt him begin to relax.

He pulled away, his hands coming up to frame her face. “Oh Rose,” he said softly. “Are you alright?”

What did you do? his eyes seemed to be saying.

Rose looked away, her cheeks burning with embarrassment. Just like the man had said. She had been so easy. So gullible.

“Rose?” he prodded.

“Yeah,” she said tightly. “I’m okay, yeah.”

The Doctor put on his glasses and began inspecting her. She felt his fingers run over her elbow, so gently, and then down her forearms. She hissed out a breath, but didn’t say anything. He took his glasses off again, face grim.

“Nothing the NHS can’t fix,” he finally concluded.

Rose nodded. Beyond his shoulder she could see her father, Jake, and a number of other Torchwood agents establishing a perimeter. “Not that I’m not glad to see you, but how did you know where to find me?”

He considered her question, and then said, “I brought you your phone this morning.”

Rose stared at him. “You added a tracking device.”

“Yup.” There was none of the contrition that she typically expected to go with such a confession. He slipped his glasses back in his pocket and met her eye. “You didn’t go home for a nap.”

In other circumstances, Rose knew this had the makings of a shouting match. Instead she sighed. “Well, since I’m fairly certain you’ve just saved my life, I guess I’m not cross.” She looked uneasily at the unconscious man on the ground and stepped closer to the Doctor. “Doctor, I think he knows you.”

Despite having given her the all-clear, the Doctor was still inspecting her – or maybe avoiding her eyes. “He does,” was all he said, his voice clipped.

In his long life, Rose knew, the Doctor had made plenty of enemies. But this felt different. She could see the tightly-wound anxiety buzzing beneath the Doctor’s skin. “Who is he?”

“His name is the Master.”

She raised an eyebrow. Hearing that from someone who called himself ‘the Doctor’ didn’t make it sound any less absurd. “What, seriously?”

The Doctor didn’t seem to see any humour in the situation. He glanced at the Torchwood agents behind them, and then signalled to Jake and Jake’s partner, Timothy.

They hurried over. Jake poked the immobile man on the ground with the tip of his boot. He didn’t stir. “We taking him back to Torchwood with us?”

“Yes,” the Doctor said. “You two, I’m trusting you to keep an eye on him. When he wakes up, he’ll probably start to talk. Don’t answer him. Nobody talks to him but me, understood?”

The two agents looked skeptical, but nodded. They dragged the Master to his feet and pulled his arms behind his back, slapping a pair of handcuffs over his wrists.

Pete hurried up to them. “The perimeter’s secure. We’ve got Dana on the media story.” His worried gaze landed on Rose. “Okay?” he asked.

“Yeah,” Rose said. “Bit shaken up, but I’m fine.”

Pete turned to the Doctor. “They’ve got the holding cell set up at Torchwood. Will that hold him?”

“Should do. For now anyway.” He scratched the back of his neck. “Of course, his sole purpose from here on out will be finding a way out of that cell and enslaving everyone on this earth.”

“Ah,” said Pete. He paused. “So I take it... that trip to Disney World I booked for Tony’s birthday should be put on hold, then?”

The Doctor shifted uncomfortably. “Ah... that would be... yes.”

Rose winced. “I’m sorry, Dad.”

“That’s okay,” said Pete, “it’s only been... six years since my last vacation.” He cleared his throat. “Still, I’d feel better if you tracked down that sonic screwdriver of yours, Doctor. I reckon we could do with a little extra Time Lord protection in this case.”

The Doctor searched through his pockets. “It’s weird. I know I had it last night...”

Rose bit her lip. “That was me,” she said. “I nicked it this morning.”

The Doctor stopped his search, and stared like her like that was the last answer he expected. “Well, why didn’t you just ask to borrow it?”

“I don’t know,” Rose answered honestly, face burning. “That’s not all, though, I sort of... broke it.” The Doctor followed her gaze to where the remains of the sonic screwdriver rested, snapped cleanly in two. “I didn’t want him to have it,” Rose said bitterly.

The Doctor looked back at her, mouth half open like he was caught between pride and being offended that she took it in the first place. Before he could say anything, the Master began to stir. His head lolled over, his eyes fluttering open.

“Blimey,” Jake said, tightening his grip, “we hit him with enough electricity to keep a full grown elephant down for hours.”

The Master chuckled, a sinister sound that sent a chill down Rose’s spine and left her wondering how she could ever have mistaken his voice for the Doctor’s. Slowly he lifted his head, looking the Doctor up and down. “Well, look at that.” His lips twisted into a grin. “You know, when she told me there was a Doctor here, I wasn’t sure what to expect.”

The Doctor said nothing, but took a step forward, angling himself in front of Rose. It was a protective gesture she might have found irritating, had the threat not seemed so personal.

The Master tilted his head, watching them. “I mean, as celebrity lookalikes go, you’re better than the average Vegas Elvis, but something’s not quite right, is it?” Then, in one of the weirder displays Rose had ever seen, he sucked in a long breath through his nose, and made a face. “You’re not the Doctor. You’re different.” He breathed in again. Humour and revulsion mingled on his face. “Human?

The two men stared at each other, the Doctor in stony silence.

“Doctor, what’s—" she began, and then something slammed into her. She staggered backwards, reached for the Doctor’s sleeve, missed, and fell to the ground. Her hands came up to clutch her ears. The noise. It was going to split her apart.

“Rose? Rose!” She felt the Doctor’s hands on her face, his voice panicky. He turned to look over his shoulder. “What is it? WHAT HAVE YOU DONE?”

Rose clutched at his hands. She tried to speak. Her teeth chattered together. “Drumming,” she whispered.

The Doctor looked horrified. Somewhere over his shoulder, she could just make out the Master’s face. He was smirking.

Then the noise took over, and everything went black.

---

“Rose?” The Doctor cradled her face in his hands, pressing two fingers to her neck beneath her jaw. Steady pulse. Good. He tapped her gently on both cheeks, but her unfocused eyes fell shut and stayed that way. “Can you hear me? Rose?”

“Call an ambulance!” Pete shouted, then crouched down next to the Doctor. “What happened to her?”

“She’s unconscious. He did something,” the Doctor said. He leaned in to check her breathing, smoothed down her hair and kissed her forehead, then rested her head on the ground. He wasn't sure the Master could have orchestrated a more nightmarish scene if he tried.

With a deep breath, he sat back on his ankles and pushed his rising panic down. Panic wouldn’t help Rose. If he could just think

“Doctor?” Pete prodded.

“He put something in her head,” the Doctor managed, “when we found them, he...”

The Doctor trailed off and then pushed Pete out of the way to crouch over Rose’s body. Closing his eyes, he pressed his fingers to her temples. Even unconscious, Rose flinched at his touch, and the Doctor felt a stab of guilt. He had to enter her mind. It was the only way.

“It’s me, Rose,” he said quietly. He took a deep breath and sent as much love and reassurance into her mind as he could. “I won’t hurt you, I promise.”

She seemed to calm, as if she sensed he was there, and the Doctor pressed on, entering into her mind. His psychic abilities weren’t as strong as when he’d been a Time Lord, but he could still pull off a parlour trick or two. Granted, he had never tried this with the Master and half of Torchwood watching him. He had never tried this at all with Rose, really, and had never thought he’d be doing so without asking her permission first.

Still, he didn’t exactly have another choice. He tried to avoid her memories, anything personal, and instead focused on something new, something that wouldn’t belong.

It didn’t take him long to find it. The noise – a pounding, never ending noise... a drumbeat. The Doctor staggered back. A wave of cold fury was slowly engulfing the panic in his veins. He pushed himself to his feet and rounded on the Master. The Doctor loomed over him from only inches away and spoke this time with a deadly calm. “Tell me what you’ve done.”

The Master’s eyes widened in mock fear. “Or... what, exactly? You’ll shoot me?”

The Doctor didn’t flinch. “You said yourself I’m not the Doctor. How would you know what I might do?”

“Oh, please.” The Master rolled his eyes. “Even if I thought you had it in you – which I don’t – you wouldn’t. Kill me and you’ll never know what’s wrong with her.”

The Doctor grit his teeth. He had no desire to play one of the Master’s games, especially with Rose as a pawn, but he wasn’t sure what other options he had. Finally he said, “Take it out of her.”

“Oh that was convincing. Let me think about it for a second... no.”

The Doctor took a step forward, but he felt Pete’s hand on his elbow. “Doctor,” he whispered. He sounded frightened. “She’s waking up.”

The Doctor tore his gaze away from the Master and looked at Rose. She curled into herself, knees pulled in tight to her chest. She muttered to herself and then let out a high-pitched whining noise before the mumbling began again. Frankly, it was more than a little creepy.

The Doctor sunk to his knees beside her.

Pete looked at him desperately. "Can't you do something?"

"Yes, Doctor," said the Master, "do something. Save your precious human. We're all waiting."

"Shut up," snapped the Doctor. Think, think, think. He pressed his fingers to her temples again and entered her mind. The drumming in Rose's head slammed into him, but he ground his teeth together and kept the connection open. Again, he tried to send as much reassurance through their link as he could. It didn't seem to do any good. If anything, her mumbling and crooning got louder, and she twisted her head from side to side, her hands coming up to push him away. The Doctor's fingers slipped and he lost their connection.
He stared at her, dumbfounded, his heart pounding in his chest. He didn't know what to do. Rose needed him, and he didn't know what to do.

Behind him the Master was laughing, "Oh no, option A failed. What will you do next, Doctor? How to help her? The seconds are ticking down."

The Doctor felt a hand on his shoulder. It was Jake. "Tranquilizer," he said. He ripped the plastic off the needle with his teeth and then plunged it into Rose's arm.

Rose twitched and then abruptly stopped, her breathing evening out. The Doctor quickly pressed his fingers to her temples again. She didn't struggle against him this time.

The noise, the drumming, pounded from her head and into his. Time was, he would have been able to pull it out of her. Lickity-split. No problemo. Now... he felt himself suffering under the weight of it almost as much as Rose. He almost welcomed it. If he could, he would take all of it into himself, anything to spare her the suffering.

He heard the Master's voice: "Oh, I know what you're thinking, Doctor," he said. "If you could only pull it from her mind and into yours. Go on, try it. I dare you."

The Doctor could tell already that it wouldn't work. The Master had embedded this thing far back into Rose's mind; almost as if he had left a part of himself behind. If the Doctor pulled it out now, he risked pulling out a piece of Rose's mind as well. Or worse.

He took a breath. There was only one thing he could do. Very slowly, with all the focus he could muster, the Doctor carefully build a wall in his mind and then pressed it up against Rose's mind. He imagined the wall circling the noise; containing it. A seal. Keeping the noise out (or in).

Truthfully, it was nothing more than a bandaid over a bullet wound.

But it would have to do.

He broke his connection with Rose. His hands were shaking. He abruptly stuffed them into his pockets and then met Pete Tyler’s worried gaze.

“Is she...?” Pete said.

The Doctor tried to smile. His mouth formed around the words “fine, yeah” but nothing came out. Finally he forced himself to say, “That should hold it. For now.”

“Okay,” Pete said. He stood up, brushing dirt off his pants. The Doctor watched with some admiration as the man seemed to put himself back together, the desperation from earlier fading from his face. He stood up a little straighter, his gaze steely when it landed on the Master. Once again, he was Pete Tyler, the Vitex millionaire and head of Torchwood.

“We need to get him back to Torchwood,” Pete said. “Jake, pull the van around. Tim, I want this area sealed off and protected, got it? Nobody without Torchwood clearance is going to step foot in this place until we’ve examined every inch of it. We’ll close all of Hyde Park down if we have to.”

The Doctor only half listened. His gaze was fixed on Rose. Right now, she was sleeping peacefully, but how long would that last? There was no telling how long that wall in her head would hold the drumming back.

He reached for her hand, her fingers limp and cold. He tucked a strand of hair behind her ear. She didn’t stir. He told himself it was the tranquilizer, but he still found himself willing her eyes to open, for her to smile at him again and tell him everything was going to be okay.

Dimly, he was aware that Torchwood was leading the Master away, and that the Master was yelling after him: “She may be sleeping for now, Doctor, but you and I both know you haven’t stopped it. What happens when she wakes up and realizes you can’t help her? What then?”

“Oh can it,” came Jake’s voice, “I’ve still got that taser. Fancy another round?”

At the moment, none of it seemed to matter. It was only beginning to sink in how close he had come to losing Rose today – how close he still was to losing her. If he had only helped her right from the start, if he’d been there when the Master came through....

Could you have stopped him, though, really? his mind whispered. The Master was a Time Lord. And he was... what? A 900-year-old human with some cheap psychic parlour tricks and a slightly higher than average intelligence.

Pete came to stand next to him. “Doctor,” he said, voice terse. “Doctor, I need you to go back to Torchwood with the Master.”

“No.” The Doctor swiped his thumb over the back of Rose’s hand. “I’m not leaving her.”

“The paramedics are on their way. They’ll be here any moment.”

“I’m not leaving her,” the Doctor repeated.

Pete sighed heavily. “Yes, you are. That tranq Jake gave her will keep her down for hours. You can still be there when she wakes up.”

“No,” the Doctor said again, but his voice cracked. He clamped his mouth shut, then tried again. “You can’t ask me to leave her.”

“He’s a Time Lord, isn’t he?”

Surprised, the Doctor jerked his head around. “How did you know?”

Pete shrugged. “Lucky guess, I suppose. Truthfully I always thought that ‘last of my kind’ stuff was a bit grandiose.” He paused. “If he’s a Time Lord, that makes him your responsibility.”

“So is Rose,” said the Doctor. “Besides, the Master isn’t my problem anymore. He belongs to another Doctor, another universe.”

“That’s just it, Doctor,” said Pete heavily. “Right here, right now, there is no one else. There’s just you. Can you honestly turn your back on him and walk away?”

The Doctor considered it. He thought about going to the hospital with Rose and, for once in his life, letting Pete, Jake, and the rest of the Torchwood deal with the Master. It didn’t have to be his problem.

His gaze lingered on Rose. That’s just it, though, wasn’t it? It was his problem. The Master had made it deeply personal – he always made it personal. He could take Rose and run as far away as he wanted, but it wouldn’t matter. The Master would come after them.

And beyond that... Pete was right. There was no one else, no other Time Lords in this universe. He was the only who knew the Master, who could do anything to stop him. And he had to do what he could to get to the bottom of what the Master had put in Rose’s head.

He released Rose’s hand and stood up. “You’ll stay with her until the ambulance gets here?”

“I’ll look after her, Doctor. I promise.”

The Doctor nodded. Then he turned and ran after Jake – and the Master.

Chapter Four

Comments

( 8 comments — Leave a comment )
firstofoct
Aug. 22nd, 2014 02:30 am (UTC)
oh my god! this was so good.

When I was reading it, I was like wait no! I need to pause to enjoy and just generally savor this moment of reading this fic. I'm sure you already know this, but I am the biggest whore for hurt/comfort and this was so great in that respect.

OH GOD. AND THE YELLING. Did you know that one of my very favorite things is when Ten yells in Idiot's Lantern when he sees faceless Rose? Because it is. SO GOOD.

Seriously loving this story Frances. You and Kali write the best fic and make the best team. Props for making her write the Master lolol.
goldy_dollar
Aug. 22nd, 2014 11:48 am (UTC)
yay Hannah I am glad you like it!!! :))

lol I love writing the Doctor yelling in fics because it is an excuse to use all caps all over the place. But his Idiot's Lantern voice was the one I was imagining ngl.

I think there will be a lot more hurt/comfort to come you will like it.

lol writing the Master is something I think I regret almost as much as Kali. It seemed like such a good idea at the time.
captaintish
Aug. 23rd, 2014 12:19 am (UTC)
This is how terrible Tumblr is -- It took me until 2 or 3 chapters of this had been posted for me to realize it existed. AND I FOLLOW YOU BOTH ON TUMBLR. (Although, Goldy, are you still over there?)

Anyway, putting this on my to-read list. And doing a happy dance that you guys are writing again.
goldy_dollar
Aug. 23rd, 2014 12:39 am (UTC)
omg tumblr is the worst place to post fic I am so mad about it lol. But no one is on LJ anymore to read it! (I am still on tumblr, but never use it, my handle is now the-indignantone. :p)

Hurray! Hope you like it when you get around to reading it.
_thirty2flavors
Aug. 23rd, 2014 01:00 am (UTC)
LOL posting fic on Tumblr feels like shouting into a void. And I mean in Tumblr's defense (for once) it's not like it was designed to be a fic site, so it's not Tumblr's fault it's so bad at this, but it is fandom's fault for migrating to such a useless website.
rokharha
Aug. 25th, 2014 05:14 pm (UTC)
I sympathize with the Tumblr issues, but in its defense, that's how I found this story! I know it's not the best for fics, but, like others, I spend a lot more time there than here. [On Tumblr, I'm pinchtheprincess.]
rokharha
Aug. 25th, 2014 05:09 pm (UTC)
I can't wait for the next chapter!
'Always did have a thing for blondes,' the man said. He smiled. 'A chav, though, that’s rarer.'
This line made me wonder a bit. I thought with Rose being a Vitex heiress, and six years on, that her dress, speech, and overall look wouldn't say "chav," anymore, so I wondered where he was getting that. Then I realized that maybe since he's been inside her head, he saw her weaknesses? The Master, like any intelligent psychopath, would go for the best way to manipulate his victims and throw them off balance, and those were Rose's weak points.

I really like seeing the metacrisis Doctor's inner turmoil and vulnerability over his weaknesses. After 900+ years of being a Time Lord, I can't imagine him resolving those issues very quickly or easily. There would HAVE to be some angst to go with those changes, no matter the rewards. I'm always a touch annoyed by fics which show him breezing into his new life, carelessly and painlessly.
goldy_dollar
Aug. 28th, 2014 08:48 pm (UTC)
Thanks so much for reading and your lovely comment. I'm about to post the next chapter on here. :)

Then I realized that maybe since he's been inside her head, he saw her weaknesses? The Master, like any intelligent psychopath, would go for the best way to manipulate his victims and throw them off balance, and those were Rose's weak points.

Yeah, I think the theme of this fic... you know, beyond the pain and ~drama... was really about both the Doctor and Rose facing up to their own worst fears (both about themselves as individuals and in their relationship). And the Master is a handy way to facilitate that because that's basically his raison d'etre.

I really like seeing the metacrisis Doctor's inner turmoil and vulnerability over his weaknesses. After 900+ years of being a Time Lord, I can't imagine him resolving those issues very quickly or easily.

Thanks! I think it's safe to say that we both see Cloen as 100% the Doctor, and that what makes him different is the new mortality, no more regenerations, and being stuck on Earth without a TARDIS. As you say, there would be no easy to suddenly adapt to those changes overnight.
( 8 comments — Leave a comment )