Yet another plot bunny took up residence in my head and I had to evict it as soon as possible.
As always I don't own Doctor Who.
The Doctor sauntered into the TARDIS with a grin stuck firmly on his face. The museums curator had just finished speaking to him. He was quite elated ever since he was told the actual title of the painting Elizabeth I had somehow gotten hold of.
Gallifrey Falls No More.
That means that absolutely bonkers plan he concocted with his former selves actually worked! His home and people were alive and safe in a pocket parallel universe. Now he just had to go and find them!
Thoughts about another parallel universe filtered through his head. Another version of himself would never know of this victory. But he was with someone who always helped him work through the darkness inside him. The Doctor tried to take some comfort in knowing Rose Tyler was with him. The woman who healed his hearts so many years ago.
"Clara?" He looked around for his current companion in the console room. He called out her name again directing his voice down into the corridors, "I feel like celebrating! You still want those cocktails you mentioned earlier? On the moon?"
"It doesn't have to be Earth's moon, y'know. That place can be a little-"
That's when he saw her laying face down on the floor. He bolted towards her and threw himself onto his knees, heedless to the metal floor of the TARDIS. Reaching out with shaking hands, he felt for a pulse.
"She's sleeping." A voice called out behind him, and he froze.
It was a voice that he would know anywhere, and the most beautiful he'd heard in all his lifetimes. A voice that haunted his dreams even after he lost her and had regenerated. He turned and saw her perched on the edge of the console.
"Rose." He breathed, unable to believe his eyes. She looked even more beautiful than he remembered.
"I was called that. Will be called that. I think you called me that a lot actually." She scrunched her face in concentration, "The past and the future, I'm still getting those mixed up. But you remember me! You're a bit older than the one with the great hair and trainers, so you must remember!" She shot him her patented smile.
"Course I remember you! Why would you ever think I wouldn't?" The Doctor was aghast. Forget Rose Tyler? Not bloody likely!
He grabbed the nearest railing and heaved himself to his feet and took a step closer to her, clinging to the rail for support. Oh, he hoped he wasn't hallucinating! But then he glanced at Clara. She was still out cold.
"Don't worry. She'll wake up soon. Just thought we could use some privacy for the time being." When the Doctor turned back towards Rose he was shocked to see they were practically nose to nose, her arms wrapped loosely around his neck. He didn't even hear her walk up.
"Privacy for what?" He gulped. Their close proximity to each other and the way she was smoothing back his hair with her fingers was doing some interesting things to his pulse.
She looked up at him like he was particularly thick – a look she shot him hundreds of times now that he thought about it. He thought she was really good at that 'oh, you just dribbled down the front of your shirt, you silly Time Lord' look. But she was really the only person in the universe who could get away with it. Oh he would whine about it – not that he would call it that. Whining was not something a Time Lord would do – but he would always forgive her and...
His hundred mile a minute train of thought was suddenly derailed when his mind went blissfully blank as she leaned up and kissed him softly. He felt that he could get used to this as he felt his arms wrap around her waist. No Time Vortex, no Cassandra. However, there was something not quite right in this situation that he couldn't put his finger on. But then she moved to deepen the kiss and his logical mind decided to take a vacation somewhere far, far away. She pulled away far too soon for his liking and she laughed as his mouth chased after hers. He frowned as she stepped back completely out of his arms.
Not fair! That minx!
"I had a feeling you always wanted her to do that." She grinned playfully at him. His frown deepened.
"Wanted who to do what?" His mind was still too foggy for any kind of coherent thought other than 'yeah, I still got it!'. She laughed at him again, and a chill swept through him when he realised it didn't sound quite like he remembered. He also took a closer look at her appearance: white dress and black stockings ripped to shreds, her hair longer than he remembered and quite messy, and her eyes outlined in dark kohl. Not quite her usual look. Not that he was complaining…
"You always wanted Rose Tyler to kiss you properly. I suppose I'm close enough." Her smile widened.
His hearts stopped and all the air was squeezed out of his lungs.
Of course this couldn't be his Rose! She was in a parallel world with a half-human version of himself!
His voice dropped to a dangerous whisper, the Oncoming Storm appearing full force. "You are not Rose Tyler. How dare you use her image to taunt me! Who are you?!"
"I think you know. We were together an hour ago. Four hundred years ago. You asked me for a big red button." Her voice was eerily calm.
"You're the Moment!" He paled. Memories long repressed came to the fore. She was in the barn on Gallifrey, the Tower of London in 1562, the Black Archive! Only he could see her when Chinny and Sandshoes couldn't!
She nodded and gave him a little wave.
He suddenly felt physically ill. Why would the weapon designed to destroy entire worlds have an interface that looked like someone he loves?
"You're Bad Wolf girl!" He gasped, remembering something Grandad said earlier that completely confused Sandshoes.
"And you expressed a desire to kiss me!" She smiled cheekily, and for a brief moment he could see an inhuman golden shimmer in her eyes. He stumbled backward and nearly tripped over the unconscious Clara. Memories of the Game Station and Rose coming back to rescue him from the Daleks jumped unbidden into his mind.
"But Rose was Bad Wolf! How could you be Bad Wolf if you're not her?"
"I chose a face and form that you would instinctively trust. And it looks like I chose well. But don't worry, you'll be seeing the real Rose Tyler soon."
"No." The Doctor shook his head. This was already enough torture.
"I've appeared to you because you have some unfinished business that must be dealt with." The Moment explained matter-of-factly.
"As much as I'd love to see her again, I don't think…" He started but she continued speaking heedless to his interruption.
"You've lived for four-hundred years thinking you destroyed Gallifrey and everyone along with it. That knowledge nearly destroyed you. But now, you know you haven't. You've been vindicated, Doctor." He smiled slightly at that despite himself. "However, there is still one who believes he did it. The Time Lord with one heart who is currently living on the slow path. Don't you think he deserves to know the truth?"
The Doctor frowned. Wasn't he just having this conversation with himself before the Moment appeared?
"And how do we tell him?" The Doctor huffed, completely exasperated. "Just pop over to a parallel world, walk up to him and say 'Hi nice to see you again! You look like you're doing well being all half-human and everything! Oh, and by the way: you remember your home planet you think you destroyed? Turns out it's safe!'." His gestures got more and more animated the faster he talked. But then he sighed tiredly and scrubbed his hand over his face. "I'd very much like to, but the walls between universes are closed! No way through."
"Really?" She smiled mischievously, her eyes glowing even stronger this time. Behind her, the Time Rotor flared to life; a bright golden glow emanating from within. They were taking off, the TARDIS seemingly flying herself. The Moment stood off to the side, still as a statue, her eyes shining.
Then, just as suddenly as it started, it stopped. The lights in the console room cut out and the emergency lights activated. Clara shifted behind him, moaning softly as she woke up. The Doctor turned and helped her to her feet.
"You okay?" He gently asked Clara.
"What happened?" She grumbled looking around the now dark console room and rubbing her forehead. He noted her eyes skipped right over where the Moment was sitting perched on the railing near the door – now suddenly realising she had the ability to just appear wherever she pleased – without even noticing her presence.
Of course. Only he could see the Moment. She was invisible to Clara.
The Moment appeared behind him and turned him towards the exit.
"Go on. I'll wait right here for you. I'll keep your TARDIS safe."
She pushed him lightly forward, and the Doctor walked hesitantly towards the wooden Police Box doors.
"I said: what happened?" Clara asked again, concern laced in her voice at his lack of an answer. He opened the door a crack and had to squint against the bright sunlight outside.
He turned back toward Clara and answered her question the only way he could: "Something impossible."
He extended his hand towards her, and she stepped forward and took it as they stepped out of the TARDIS together. They had landed in the middle of a park, the London skyline visible on the horizon. It was warm out, late spring early summer perhaps. People were out walking their dogs, children playing on the grass, couples walking by hand-in-hand. A shadow passed over the and at first Clara attributed that to a cloud, until she heard a strange sound overhead. She looked up and gasped.
"Is that a zeppelin?"
"Yeah, they have them in this universe."
"Universe?! Doctor where are we?"
"You remember when the Cybermen appeared on Earth a few years ago? The army of ghosts? And then remember when all those planets appeared in the sky?" He turned suddenly to face her. Clara raised an eyebrow at him. She could never get used to the way he would often ask her random questions instead of answering the one she gave him.
"Doctor what does that have to do with…" She cut herself off as a laugh from the other side of the field caught her attention. It sounded incredibly familiar. She turned her head and saw the Doctor walking by. But it was one of the other two she encountered earlier that day; the tall, skinny one with the amazing hair and had a penchant for wearing a pinstriped suit with trainers! He had his arm around a beautiful blonde woman who was clearly pregnant.
"Okaaaay. Totally confused now." Clara admitted.
"Parallel world." Her Doctor finally clarified. She could hear the repressed emotion in his voice as he watched the couple walking towards them across the field.
"That's you then. I thought he want back to his own timestream?" Clara tried not to think too hard about her pronoun usage. It got all muddled when it came to time travel anyway.
"Weren't you listening? I said parallel world. That's a different me. He just looks like him!"
"So there's actually two of you?"
The other Doctor and the blonde woman were walking closer now, almost within earshot.
"Technically. Human Biological Metacrisis." Clara shot him a glare that he always took to mean 'What are you on about now, Doctor?' and he quickly added. "Long story. Involved getting shot by a Dalek and siphoning regeneration energy into my severed hand I kept in a jar. Bit complicated. But the result was him. A half-human version of me with all my memories and experiences up until he was created." Clara nodded just embracing the insanity now. "But that all happened before what happened today."
Clara put all her confusion as to why there two Doctors aside as a wave of pity washed over her. The younger versions of the Doctor she met earlier today forgot all about changing their minds and saving their home planet as they stepped into their TARDISes and returned to their own time. And if this human Doctor was created before that even happened…
"He doesn't know!" Clara blurted out as all the pieces fell into place in her head. The Doctor nodded. "Who is she then?" She asked, needing to know the other half of this utterly confusing puzzle.
"Rose Tyler." The Doctor tired to keep his voice down to try and remain unnoticed; the human him was only a few yards away now. But he underestimated how keen his hearing was. The man was still part Time Lord after all.
The Human Doctor stopped in his tracks a moment and just glared at the full Time Lord. He turned to Rose and whispered something to her (most likely 'stay here' judging by his hand gestures) before walking straight up to the Doctor and Clara.
"Well done, Doctor." Clara grumbled flippantly to the bow tie wearing one and the Human one heard that too.
"No way." He breathed as he caught sight of the TARDIS standing nearby.
"A long time ago now."
"Not bad but… blimey, that chin! You can take someone's eye out with that."
"Almost makes me glad I can't regenerate anymore."
"That makes two of us now seeing that someone had to hog a full cycle."
"Oh, yeah? So what was I supposed to do? Let that Dalek kill me? Besides it was you who siphoned off the energy… technically."
"So you sayin' you wish you were never born then? Blimey! Talk about gratitude!"
"You should be grateful! If I wasn't created, Davros would have destroyed absolutely everything! I rid the universe of the Daleks once and for all!"
"And a really rubbish job of it you did too!"
"Oh, great! Another lecture about genocide… that's just what I need right now!"
"No, I mean they came back, you idiot!"
"OI! I may be human but I'm just as…"
"ENOUGH!" Rose finally shouted looking between the two Doctors, preparing to physically separate them if they came to blows.
"God, you two take arguing with yourself to a whole new level! I've had enough of that already today, thanks!" Clara added causing her Doctor to deflate a little. "I'm Clara, by the way." She felt a little strange introducing herself to the Doctor's younger self for the second time in one day. She smiled slightly and extended her hand towards him.
"John." He smiled as he shook her hand, inciting a funny look from the Doctor. "I'm called John now. Dr. Johnathan Noble-Smith. And this is…"
"Rose." The Doctor cut in smiling softly at her. John nodded curtly and took a step back to allow the Time Lord a moment with their precious girl. Rose smiled back and walked straight up to the Doctor.
The Doctor cradled his stinging cheek in his hand as the other two and a half humans jumped at the sound of Rose's hand striking his face.
"That was for leaving me without saying goodbye." Rose said coolly. The Doctor looked down ashamed. It was a selfish move on his part. He could've waited just a few moments more. But, in all fairness, it was kind of hard to stand there watching as the woman he loved kissed someone else, even if that someone else was his identical twin.
Then she grabbed him in a fierce hug.
"Okay. Hugging! Much better. But why? Not that I'm complaining." The Doctor asked, utterly confused.
"Does it need saying?" He immediately recognised those words being echoed back to him and the meaning behind them as he wrapped his arms tightly around her.
"Oh Rose, I missed you terribly." He whispered into her ear before pulling away far enough to kiss her forehead. He wouldn't dare go any further. Not with him standing a few paces away. "But I'm so, so glad to see that you're happy." He placed a gentle hand on the swell of her abdomen and smiled as he lowered himself down so his face was level with her navel. "Hello little one. Your parents will have such stories to tell you."
Rose smiled widely at that, then she felt John's hand – well, technically the Doctor's hand – on her shoulder and she stepped back towards him. He was fiercely jealous, even of himself it seemed.
"Speaking of stories, I'd love to hear how you two got here." John looked pointedly between the Doctor and Clara.
"We had help." The Doctor started.
"We did?" Clara shot him an incredulous look.
"Yes. You were sleeping though that bit. I'll explain that to you later. The main reason I'm here though, is to give you a message." John and Rose looked at him expectantly. "Gallifrey is safe, thanks to us."
An all too familiar pain flashed on John's face, but he quickly schooled his expression.
"It can't be. I was… we were…" He shook his head. "Gallifrey burned. I burnt it to end the Time War."
"And I stopped you from doing it." Clara countered. John locked eyes with her, his expression unreadable.
"Sorry if I'm being rude, but have we met before? I feel like I should know you somehow. But…"
"She jumped into our timestream." The Doctor explained. "She was scattered across it. Countless versions of Clara existed across time and space. And she saved our lives so many times without us even realising it."
John shook his head at Clara.
"That should've killed you."
"Impossible Girl, me. And I know how much you like impossible." Clara gloated. Both Doctors smiled at that.
"But still… Gallifrey? Safe?" John was still having trouble grasping what he was being told. The Doctor stepped up to him and raised his hands to the other man's temples. John nodded his permission and the Doctor opened up the psychic link, transferring all his memories of the past day, from all three perspectives.
After almost a full minute John staggered back gasping for breath.
"We really did. How could I forget?"
The Doctor shrugged.
"The time lines were far too out of sync for us to retain those memories." John nodded in agreement to the Doctor's assessment. Then the Doctor continued: "And besides, if you knew you saved Gallifrey then, would you really have landed back on Earth to save a girl from shop window dummies attacking her, thus launching a chain of events that brought us all here today? I wouldn't trade those days for anything in the universe. Would you?"
John reached for his wife's hand, and Rose took it without any hesitation. He looked down at her and smiled.
"No, I don't think I would."
"Nor would I." Rose agreed.
The TARDIS emitted a loud groaning sound as if she was about to start dematerialising.
"That's our cue to leave then." The Doctor looked over at Clara and she nodded.
Rose stepped up to Clara and pulled her into a hug.
"Good luck to both of you. Keep him out of trouble. You know how he can be."
"Oi!" Both Doctors shouted in unison causing both women to laugh.
"I'll do my best." Clara smiled at Rose before walking back to her own Doctor.
"Quick question before I go." The Doctor started as he gestured towards Rose, ignoring yet another warning sound from the TARDIS. "Boy or girl."
John smiled brightly.
"Have a name picked out yet?"
John and Rose exchanged conspiratorial looks.
"Donna." Rose answered finally. The Doctor felt his heats leap to his throat as the full force of the name hit him. He felt a surge of pride. He no longer felt jealousy for the man who bore his own face. He was grateful that it worked out so well for him. He was about to start a family with the woman he loved above all else.
"Good choice. Well done."
The Doctor turned to enter the TARDIS once more. Clara pushed past him however as he stalled with his hand on the door frame. He turned towards the happy couple once more.
"Rose Tyler, Doctor… I want you to do one thing. Just one." Tears formed in his eyes as he knew this was the last time he would see his beloved. But they were once again those happy tears that confused him so much. "Have a good life. Do that for me, eh. Have a fantastic life."
Rose gave him a watery smile as she became too overrun with emotion to speak. The Doctor – her Doctor – smiled back at the madman in the blue box and nodded.
The doors to the Police Box closed, and the TARDIS winked out of that universe and back to the one she belonged to.
The Doctor and Rose Tyler walked back to their home hand in hand.