Summary: "Show them your valiance. Show them — you are not a place for the faint of heart." Rose Tyler has always created herself. When two familiar words make a sudden reappearance, she finds that even bad wolves can be good. Ten/Rose, hints of multi!Doctor/Rose.
Just a little what-if, if Bad Wolf had stayed.
Disclaimer: I don't own Doctor Who.
a man might befriend a wolf, even break a wolf, but no man could truly tame a wolf. – george r. r. martin
It starts with a fortune-teller.
He takes her to a street fair in the thirty-third century, on a planet she's already forgotten the name of. He wanders off with the excuse of hunting down a part for the TARDIS, leaving her with an unlimited amount of credits and absolutely nothing to spend them on.
That's when she finds the tent.
Really, she doesn't believe in fortune-tellers, has always brushed them off as charlatans. But there's something in the old, humanoid woman's rheumy gray eyes that draws her in, compels her to take a seat and listen a spell. Six credits for a palm reading, she says, and the blonde across from her plays along good-naturedly.
Long, spindly fingers run across the heartlines on her hand, pausing only when she hits the lines crawling up towards her index finger. "You're afraid," the woman murmurs after a moment, still tracing one particular line, back and forth, back and forth.
Cloudy gray eyes lift to meet hers, clearing for just a fraction of a moment before they go back to normal. "Of the Big Bad Wolf, of course."
Rose stares at the fortune-teller for only half a second more before she snatches her hand back, feeling hot. She slams the needed credits down on the table before stalking away on shaking legs.
Charlatans, she thinks. All of them.
There's something in the alien's eyes that yank at her nerves. Like it's seeing straight through her, into the depths of her heart and the farthest reaches of her soul, into the places she's tried so hard to hide, the places that have tried so hard to hide from her.
"Look," the thing murmurs, from within its cage, some sort of deep understanding crossing its face, "Inside your eyes; you've seen it too."
She's trembling, from fear and something else. She's not sure what, but it's something with a life of its own, something she can barely keep chained in place. "Seen what?" she asks, breathlessly.
"The wolf," the thing says in a high-pitched, wonderstruck voice, "There is something of the wolf about you."
She pauses for a moment, trying to place the familiarity she feels, staring at the alien across from her. She feels kindred with this thing, somehow.
two wolves lost in the woods
"I don't know what you mean."
yes you do
There's a manic glint in those pitch-black eyes, gleeful and horrible and she wants to wipe it away. She wants to wipe it all away.
"You burned like the sun," it says knowingly, "But all I require is the moon."
Things kind of blur together after that; there is screaming, and shouting, and pulling and the Doctor and the inevitable running.
She runs from the howls, from those black-and-yellow eyes, from the words that still echo around her.
She stares at the stars until her eyes burn, until they crash together in one dizzying blend of light and color.
"The Lupine Galaxy," he tells her, with a smile that says he's running again. Running from the memory of Sarah Jane, from Aberdeen and Croydon and Uncrowned Queens of France and Dethroned Cyber-Kings.
It's just them now, staring at the sky, legs dangling out into deep space. "Why do they call it that?" she asks, leaning her head on his shoulder, pretending not to notice the wall that still separates them.
He hums a bit, playing his part and pretending everything's just fine and dandy when it isn't. "If you tilt your head a bit — just like that, yeah — it looks like a wolf, howling. Do you see it?"
She squints, taking in the curve of the stars, the point that looks like the tip of the nose from her dreams. Something in her blood ignites, and her stomach churns, just a bit.
She tells him, "Yes."
She doesn't tell the Doctor, but when the Wire takes her, it places her in a holding pen of 1950's television shows.
She's in a paper mâché forest, and there's a girl and a bad imitation puppet of a wolf, a red cape and eyes that are supposed to be yellow, she's guessing.
"Are you afraid of the Big Bad Wolf?" the girl asks, in a sweet, lilting voice.
The puppet turns to look at her, and for a moment, its eyes seem to glow.
"No," Rose lies.
She begins seeing things — not hallucinations, not exactly, but she's been fooled before. They appear suddenly, the shadow of a memory standing on a street corner. Sometimes there's a blur of powder blue lace and silk, the smell of smoke and daisies clinging to the skin of a woman. Sometimes there are stars and planets, coming in and out of orbit out of the corner of her eye.
Sometimes there is a wolf, watching her with wide, yellow eyes from the foot of her bed, or just beyond the light of the time rotor.
It gets steadily worse, the lights, the burning feeling just under her skin, until she's nearly tossed off her feet one night, after fireworks and edible ball bearings. He's at her side in an instant, and the TARDIS lights flicker worriedly.
She catches hold of the console when her knees weaken, as her vision swims dizzyingly. He asks her if she's okay, what's wrong, and she wants to reply, but her throat is so sore. The wolf stares at her from the doorway, eyes flinty and yellow.
"Rose," he says, and he just sounds so worried.
Her eyes flutter back to meet his, and she tries to say something. Maybe apologize. If she'd told him sooner, maybe, they could've avoided this.
Instead, all she can manage is, "Bad Wolf."
His eyes widen and her vision goes splotchy and dark around the edges. She turns her head, just a bit, to look at the doorway before she passes out completely.
go, show them your valiance
show them — you are not a place for the faint of heart
She sees tendrils in the corners of her eyes, a tiny ball in the center of her soul, branching out in all different directions, tiny veins pulsing gold.
She sees pathways attached to potentials, could-have-beens and would-have-beens, maybes lined in leather or wool, and a couple with tweed.
There are more, a glimpse of one could-have-been, the brush of hands in the back of a yellow car named Bessie; a near-miss with Daleks, a stalk of celery pressing into her when she hugs him; green velvet brushing across her skin and eyes so blue it aches—
he is still so much older than her meager twentysomething, but he's so young there, she knows, starlight still making his eyes shine bright
Then, another, a glimpse of what may come, an asteroid that's not really an asteroid and a woman with the dim and dying light of the stars echoing in her eyes, one in a tattered powder blue dress who looks at the two of them like they're something so precious—
and she's so sad, when her body dies, but her laugh sounds like a miracle and her smile when she says "hello" could light up the universe for a million more years
(maybe forever, if she wanted)
and what about me? do I stay with him?
she sounds so scared, but she's still shining, all pink and yellow and brilliant.
the woman across the way smiles, timelines playing at their fingertips, with the strands of their hair.
that, she says, is entirely up to you.
Rose Tyler looks around, at the potential futures, and picks the brightest one.
there is no definite, she knows. time is always in flux. but she knows what she wants, and she is not afraid to go after it.
she does not know what lies ahead, and she knows forever is not always a possibility. she knows, no matter what he says, there will be pain, and tears, and inevitable goodbyes. she knows not everything can be changed.
she knows it will hurt.
but then, that is a chance she has always been willing to take.
She opens her eyes.
Stars are burning in her mouth and she knows something monumental just happened, if the way he's looking at her is any indication — trembling with terror and anger, and is that love in his eyes, or is she still seeing things?
"You're brilliant," he tells her, voice hoarse, and pulls her into a hug.
And she can feel it, on the edge of her consciousness — a future rebuilt, a potential changed, pathways altered. A hole in the universe, fixed. Somewhere, lost in time, Yvonne Hartman is yelling at her scientists, wondering why the so-called ghost shifts aren't working. Somewhere, a man in tweed is locking away a hand from another life, because really, that's very dangerous, having Time Lord body parts hanging about, didn't you know?
(he tells her a story, then, about biological Time Lord metacrisises, a passing theoretical fancy back at the Academy, and she gets a silly flash of his tenth self in his blue suit with one heart — and doesn't that ache a bit, to think about the man that wasn't, the man she knew she must have loved — but then they go visit Donna, and the heaviness lessens, just a bit)
Somewhere, a woman in a tattered blue dress waves hello to her thief and her wolf, and wishes them all the best.
Somewhere, a blue box drifts along the Milky Way, and melts into the stars.
Somewhere, a girl is conceived on the ripples of a War long gone, a War yet to come —
(a War, ended by a man with much too much on his shoulders)
Somewhere, a wolf is howling.
she can see sparks in their timelines
(all pink and yellow and electric blue)
she can see the way they twist and turn, in the shadows of her dreams
(she knows the future can change, always)
she knows forever isn't always a possibility — that she was born a temporary girl, and he walks in eternity. she knows things don't always work out.
that doesn't mean she can't try.
(Rose Tyler has always created herself)