A/N: Happy birthday to Rukiara!
I asked her what she wanted for her birthday, and she gave me a neat little fic idea that I ultimately warped and damaged with some rather shameless jiggery pokery. Officially I have a couple of days until her birthday, and so I thought I'd try and post a little something something for her every day until the official day!
I certainly hope it's enjoyed - particularly by the Birthday Girl.
Disclaimer: I don't own Doctor Who or any of it's characters. I'm just playing a bit with them.
Darkness descended quickly over the Library once the sun had begun to set. With the safety of the natural sunlight now gone, the small expedition group milled around the library lighted only by torchlight and tried not to think of the danger lurking within every shadow.
Murmurs were kept low by most of the remaining party members. It was only Professor River Song that could find the will to speak up in an attempt to keep her group calm, and even then, her words were far less optimistic than they should have been.
"You know," she said with a sigh to Anita. "It's funny. I keep wishing that the Doctor was here."
Had Anita's face not been hidden behind her helmet visor, she would have offered her a worried look. Her voice was slightly worried when she responded. "The Doctor is here, isn't he?" She looked around the shadows for any sign of him. "He is coming back, right?"
She may as well have remained quiet, for River Song continued with her thoughts oblivious as to whether or not any of her party were in any way interested in her musings. She kept her eyes on her own reflection in Anita's visor as she continued to speak along a quiet voice.
"You know when you see a photograph of someone you know, but it's from years before you knew them and it's like they're not quite finished. They're not quite done yet." She paused only to inhale. "Well, yes, the Doctor's here. He came when I called, just like he always does. But not my Doctor." A smile of remembrance stretched across her face. "Now my Doctor. I've seen whole armies turn and run away, and he'd just swagger off back to his TARDIS and open the doors with a snap of his fingers. The Doctor in his TARDIS. Next Stop: Everywhere."
A light huff of irritation preceded an equally irritated voice from the landing above them and the doctor stood in the centre of the railings of a small flight of stairs. "Spoilers." He rushed from the shadows and leapt down a small flight of stairs and over a barrier at the bottom. "Nobody can open a TARDIS by snapping their fingers "It doesn't work like that."
River raked her eyes up to his and made sure to keep her eyes narrowed with displeasure. "It does for the Doctor."
The Doctor regarded her in much the same manner that she regarded him. His voice held irritation and authority, but was spoken almost at a hiss. "I am the Doctor."
River Song gave an indignant snort and looked away from him. "Yeah. Some day."
Not wanting to continue this line of conversation, the Doctor composed himself a little and took in a breath. Calmed he looked toward the group. "How are you do…"
His words cut off sharply and shifted to a startled exhale as a sudden rolling energy field invisibly hurtled toward and then through him. He twisted and turned in his stand as the room filled with the crackling, zapping, sound of building electrical energies.
"What?" he growled impatiently as he stalked around River song to walk around the perimeter of the room. "What?"
"Stay back people," River ordered sharply as she snatched a weapon from a holster on her hip. "Whatever this is, I've got it."
The Doctor growled and then ducked into a light stoop as a blue tendril of energy shot over his head. "You don't even know what it is," he snarled as he watched another vine of pure energy shot out from the other end of the room to intercept and twist around the original. "And I really don't think that your gun will be much of a match against pure energy, Professor Song."
"Probably not, sweetie," she called back facetiously. She aimed her gun at the twisting vines of energy that had begun to swell into a ball of light. "But this is a transmat energy field." She rolled her eyes upward in disgust. "A very primitive one, of course."
"Yes," he barked hotly. "I'm very aware of what it is. Time Lord, remember."
"I'm not likely to forget," she sang flirtatiously.
He huffed under his breath. "And don't call me sweetie."
"Pretty boy, then." Her flirtation fell back into seriousness as the Ball swelled into a massive blue sphere. "And I also never forget that wherever the Time Lord goes, bad things tend to happen." She gestured toward the sphere of light. "Unexpected guests aren't usually the friendly type."
He pointed harshly at her from the other side of the sphere. "Leave this to me," he ordered. "And put down your gun. By Rassilon's robes you humans. You're all about shooting first and never asking the questions."
"It's called survival, Doctor," she growled in reply.
"It's barbaric," he countered hotly. "And the reason that your people get themselves into so much trouble."
"Oh like you can talk," she snapped in response. She levered her eyes to fall along the sights and held the gun high in wait. "Really. I've never encountered anyone who courts danger like you do."
"And what are you, then, my protector?"
She grinned a flirtatious smile and winked through the energy field at him. "Oh. So much more than that."
He blinked a rapid flash in his eye, but recovered with a quick cough. "Well." He adopted an expression of disgust. "Your services are no longer necessary," he said coolly. "I can protect myself. Have done a pretty good job of that for over nine hundred years." He gestured at her weapon. "Put it down, will you?"
River song licked at her lip. Her voice was little more than a breath as a figure materialized in the field head of her. "No. I don't think that I will."
"River!" He boomed. "Put the gun away."
"No," she breathed long as the figure materialized fully in front of her.
It was the purple of the jacket that seemed to materialize first and as the figure's shoulders tipped and fell in time with a casual walk, blonde hair and black trousers came into view. It was as though the stranger was a tourist walking from one end of a tunnel to another. Her eyes were wide and curious and quite obviously blind to the muzzle of a gun pointing at her from the other side.
"Humanoid," she called across to the Doctor, who had gone quiet. "Female."
"Please don't shoot her," the Doctor whispered hoarsely. "River. Put down the gun."
"Oh," she chuckled with a throaty breath as the face of the woman, that had been partially obscured by the swirling energy of her transmat field, emerged through the sphere walls. "I really don't think so."
"Professor Song," the Doctor thundered angrily. "Drop the weapon!"
Brown eyes finally met with green and Rose Tyler let out a gasp when it registered that in order for her to see the green eyes of River Song she had to do so down the barrel of a weapon.
"Raise your hands," River ordered firmly, raising her voice to be heard over the final expulsion of energy from the transmat field. "I'm feeling a little annoyed right now so I have a very itchy fingers."
Rose Tyler's eyes and her mouth gaped in shock at both the sight of an armed woman and the obviously legitimate threat upon her life. She inhaled a deep gasp and staggered a couple of feet backward.
"I said: Get your hands up where I can see them, sunshine," River snarled fiercely.
Still disorientated from her walk through the dimensional canon, Rose tripped over her own feet and tumbled backward on to her ass. She coughed out a yelp and then a moan as her hip protested her landing.
There was a growl almost primal in its delivery from over Rose's shoulder.
"River. That's enough."
"No, sweetie," River growled back as she took a step to approach the now prostrate woman. "This little lady can tell me who she is and why she's here before I'll lower my weapon."
Rose looked up to River song with a tic of annoyance in her eye. "This little lady is right here, you know." She petted the air in front of her. "Put the gun down, I'm not here lookin' for trouble."
"Check her for weapons," River ordered to someone likely standing over her shoulder.
Rose shook her head and held at her stomach. "I'm not carrying weapons," she growled as she rolled onto her hip and coughed at the ground. She retched a dry heave and then moaned pitifully. "You know. On second though. Shoot me. Please."
"That can be arranged." River Song watched as the Doctor finally found himself able to move and quickly dropped at the woman's side. "What're you doing?"
Her eyes widened to watch him fall on his hip behind the girl and practically spoon against her as he leaned up and over her shoulder to speak to her. His voice was deep, low, and comforting as he attempted to soothe the dry-retching woman.
"You're just experiencing your basic transmat nausea," he soothed gently with a light touch of his hand on her shoulder. "It's unpleasant, and makes you feel like death would be prefereable, but it'll pass. Just concentrate on my voice and take slow and deep breaths."
"If I do that," she managed through her panted breaths. "Then I'll end up heaving all over the floor."
"Probably," he admitted with a shrug and a rub at her shoulder. "But a productive heave is a lot less painful than a dry-retch, wouldn't you say?"
"If I start productively heaving, then so will everyone else in here." She rolled her shoulder backward to lean against his chest a little, but found herself quickly rolling back forward to pant at the ground.
"Ahh yes," he breathed with a light chuckle in his tone. "The Empathetic response to a fellow member of your species bringing up his or her lunch. Of course you know that research has shown that it is more of an instinctual response dating back to the more tribal times of your ancestors." His eyes remained tightly on her as she shifted to lie down on her back to look up at him with a soft gaze. "Because. Well. It was important, wasn't it? No real medical knowledge back in those days, were there? A simple illness could wipe out an entire tribe. So if one member of the group ate something bad and threw up their lunch, then it made sense that all members of the tribe should toss it up as well."
Rose raised her hand to lightly draw the pads of her fingers along his cheek. "Doctor…"
He beamed a wide smile down at her. "Hello."
"Fancy meeting you in a place like this," she said with a chuckle. "Come here often?"
"Not often enough apparently," he answered with a smile. He rolled onto his backside to sit up straight and held his hand out to assist Rose in rising up beside him. He gave a light grunt as she tugged against this hands and pulled herself to a seated position. "Feeling a little less likely to expel the contents of your stomach, and ready to do a little running, Rose Tyler?"
Rose couldn't help the grin that spread across her cheeks. "I don't even get a few minutes to appreciate that I'm here before you have me running, Doctor?"
"Relaxing and reflecting are for the fishes," he shot back with a grin and a waggle in his brow. "Now running. Running is for the Doctor and Rose Tyler. It's what we do best, isn't it?"
"Which means you've gotten yourself into a spot of trouble, then, doesn't it," she teased with smile touched by the very tip of her tongue.
The Doctor's smile fell just slightly at the sight of her smile, but quickly picked up again when he let his eyes rise again to hers. "Well. Technically…"
"You aren't blaming the TARDIS, are you?" She drew herself to a shaky stand and held her hands out to the Doctor to invite him to let her help him up. "Really. You need to take a little ownership, Doctor."
He remained on the floor for a moment, just looking up at her with a reverent smile.
"Well," she pressed again with a wiggle of her fingers in invitation for him to take her hands. "Are you?"
"Actually," River Song cut in sharply as the Doctor took Rose's hands, but used his own leverage to haul himself to his feet. "I believe he's blaming me."
Rose's eyes travelled up with the rise of the Doctor as he pulled himself to his feet and towered over her: a grinning skinny protector. "Is that true? Are you leveraging your blame all about the place now?" she queried as he ran his hand up her forearms to her elbows, and then tipped them lightly toward him in a silent request for a hug.
"Not now," he demanded as he stooped at the knees, looped his arms around her hips, and then straightened to lift her feet off the ground in a fierce embrace. "More important matters at hand than whose fault it is that the TARDIS landed me here."
She squealed just the slightest of giggles against his ear as her arms locked tightly around his shoulders and even let her legs swing as he twisted the two of them side to side. "Oh, Doctor. I've missed you."
He let her feet touch on the ground and tsked lightly as he rested his forehead against hers. He kept his hands held firmly on her back to press her in against him. "Missed me, Rose Tyler? Now why would you want to go and do something like that for a worn out old man like me?" He kept his hold firm, kept her closely against him. "A brilliant woman like you should have herself an absolutely fantastic life of love and adventure, not worry about a weary old Time Lord. Well. Not really old when you compare my age against other Time Lords. Still a teenager, me. Really. But weary, yes, I'll take that title."
"Love and adventure, Doctor?" she queried with high brows.
"Yes," he croaked softly.
"Not without you," she vowed fiercely. "Never without you."
The Doctor stared at Rose for a long moment. There was both confusion and awe in his expression as he let his eyes dance from one eye and to the other and then back again in search for the confirmation of her words. He could feel the light skip inside both hearts at her declaration.
River Song ended his silence with a harshly hissed question. "Well it's obvious that you two know each other. Would you like to share with the rest of us who she is?"
"Oh, uh," the Doctor spluttered uncomfortably as he pulled back from Rose and turned toward River Song.
She rolled her eyes, shook her head, and blustered past him with a look of frustration. She very quickly held out her hand to Rose. "Professor River Song, and who are you?"
Rose looked down at her hand, then looked up and opened her mouth to answer. She was beaten to it by the Doctor, who possessively slid his hand into hers and clutched tightly and took a very slight stride forward to stand a fraction of an inch in front of her.
"This is Rose Tyler," he said in a firm voice of warning. "A Former companion of mine, and someone very very special to me."
River dropped her proffered hand and reholstered her weapon. "Former companion?"
He pursed his lips as he considered the question for a second. Then he broke his pout and smiled slightly as he cast his gaze toward Rose. "Well. I think the word former is a little erroneous given that Rose is here. Now." He looked down at their hands. "With her hand in mine ready to run again." He raised his eyes to Rose's eyes and once again smiled a wide grin. "No longer former, right, Rose? You're back now, so that means you are my current companion again. Which is just … brilliant."
Rose's eyes twitched just lightly. "Doctor…"
"Companion," River repeated darkly. "Rose Tyler." She made a dramatic gesture with raising her eyes to the ceiling in thought. "Funny that you've never mentioned her."
The Doctor held her hand tighter. "I've only just met you," he growled.
"Oh, Sweetie," she cooed facetiously. "Only in your timeline."
"Which is actually the most important one to me, surprisingly," he shot back with definite irritation. "What you know – or more importantly – what you think you know about me is actually quite irrelevant to me right now."
"You know," River growled back on a voice low and controlled. "You've always been rude. I'm quite used to that. But this incarnation of yours brings rude to a whole new low." She turned her back to him and spoke over her shoulder. "Come back to me when you've changed into my Doctor. I really don't have the energy to deal with you as you are right now. Useless. Absolutely useless."
Rose gasped at that and opened her mouth with the full intent to completely defend her Doctor, but he shut her down with a gentle voice.
"Don't, Rose. It's really not worth it."
"Who is she," Rose queried cautiously. She lifted her hand to touch her fingers to his jaw to lever his head gently to look at her. "I mean to you, Doctor?"
He inhaled a deep breath of apology and then blew out a breath against her nose as he moved forward to press his lips against her forehead. "I wish I knew," he admitted softly, worriedly. He inhaled again. "Then again, I don't know that I wish that at all. Some things are better not knowing."
"She's from your future then?"
He nodded in an action that lightly dragged his lips up and down her forehead. "I guess so. She's obviously not used to me, this me, is she?"
Rose chuckled. "Rude and not ginger."
"Which will be on the obituary of this incarnation."
There was a series of small beeps from Rose's wrist, which caused her to gasp. "Oh no," she breathed in a worried whisper that had the Doctor shoot backward. His eyes cast down to the hand that joined his. He frowned at the bulky unit wrapped around her wrist that was obviously anything other than a simple wrist watch.
"What's that," he queried cautiously.
"It's a." She swallowed and winced. "It's the dimension canon return transmitter, and it's telling me that I have around thirty minutes until I get recalled back into my dimension."
His voice quietened to barely a whisper. "What?"
Rose swallows and drew her hand from his to press a button on the watch face. She rolled her tongue in the valley between let lip and teeth as she formulated an answer. "It's part of our Dimension Canon Project back at … Back in Pete's world." She lifted her eyes to his. "We're in the testing phase right now, Doctor, and so I only have limited times for each jump."
"Even if you find me?" His voice was soft. "I mean. That is why you're jumping with a canon, isn't it? To find me?"
She forced a laugh at that, and at the insecurity in his voice. "Oh, because my entire life revolves around you, then, does it, Doctor?"
His eyes darted off to one side. "Well," he partially huffed, partly whined. "I know I've told you it shouldn't, and that you should find yourself a fantastic life that doesn't have me in it. But…"
"Of course," she vowed with a touch of her fingers to his jaw. "Of course this is to find you. The whole creation of this project was to get me back home to you, to the TARDIS, and to my fantastic life .. with you." She watched his eyes fall briefly to her lips and then rise back up to hers. "You know. The Doctor in the TARDIS with Rose Tyler…"
"…as it should be," he finished gently.
"But we've .. I mean I've had so many near misses and close calls that Pete put an automatic recall on the jumps." She let out a sigh. "And depending on the jump my time can range from seconds into hours."
"And when you finally find me, we're left with only a half hour?"
She nodded shortly. "I'm sorry."
His lips pressed into a tight, flat line and he shook his head. He held out his hand in a request for the watch on her wrist. "Give it to me." At her startled look he softened his demand. "Please, Rose. Can I take a look at it?"
"You can't play with it, Doctor," she warned with a shake of her head. "If I try to take it off, then it's set to automatically recall me."
He stared at her for a moment in disbelief. That expression shifted to one of determination as he reached inside his blazer to retrieve his Sonic Screwdriver. "We'll see about that, Rose Tyler." He held the Sonic up to watch it as he changed the settings on it. "I'm rather clever with technology." His eyes briefly shifted to hers. "Time Lord, after all. Space and Time travel is our forte, remember." He looked back at his screwdriver and continued with the settings change. "I've messed about with my fair share of jump pads and vortex manipulators over the centuries. Haven't found one yet that I can't play about with and get some desirable results."
Rose had to chuckle. "Dare I ask why?"
He offered her a curious look and took her hand in his. "If I didn't know better, Rose Tyler, I'd guess you were accusing me of nefarious intentions with my jiggery pokery."
She gave him a wide grin as he lifted her wrist and pressed the glowing blue tip of his sonic into the face of her watch. "Tell me I'm wrong, Doctor. I challenge you."
He merely winked and offered her a smile. His eyes dropped again to the watch as his sonic stopped buzzing. "Right. I think we're safe to take it off your wrist now without you being sucked into another dimension."
She sucked in a sharp breath and shook her hand to pry it free of his grasp. "Just in case," she thrust her arms up and around his neck. "In case I can never find you again, and this is my only chance." She exhaled a pair of panted breaths against his mouth and stared hopelessly into his wide and stunned eyes. "I'll never forgive myself if I don't do this."