Disclaimer: As much as I wish I did, I don't own Doctor Who. I may have the DVD and book box sets, as well as my quarter share in a little blue TARDIS, but Doctor Who is the property of BBC Wales and all affiliates!
Book 2 in the Pathways Series
1(3) In a Million, Chapter 1.
The alien wheezing echoed through the room, as an indistinct shape emerged from the gloom, aligning itself once more with reality. From the ancient police box there exited a woman, whose violet eyes betrayed far more sorrow than one of her years should ever know and who betrayed the memories of what could have been. A strand of her short mousy brown hair was tucked behind her ear as she marched up the stairs, her black trench coat swirling around her feet.
"You're home." Her brother stated as she came into the entryway, pulling the basement door shut with barely a thought.
"Not by choice." She replied in exhaustion, "There was nothing I could do on Porussian. I was too late, and so I was forced to watch them burn."
"They're showing up everywhere we turn, aren't they?" He demanded, his own tiredness cracking his own façade.
"They're showing up everywhere full stop." She retaliated, "Is he any better today?"
He pursed his lips, "He's not screaming, if that's what you mean."
She nodded, "That's better than yesterday. Are you all right?"
He shook his head, "How could I be?"
Her eyes scrutinised him, "What happened?"
"Anita miscarried again. A son." He stated, barely retaining his mask.
Sighing, he sat down on the stairs, "She's home now, resting thankfully, but I'm not sure for how long. This is the ninth child we've lost in the past ten years! I'm not sure how much longer I can take it, let alone her!"
She sat down beside him, "It wasn't your fault…"
He turned to her, tears welling in his eyes, "Maybe we should just give up…"
"That's never the way."
"But maybe it would be for the best."
She glanced at him sorrowfully, "I need to go and check on him."
With that she rose from her seat and marched down the hall into the study.
The room was dark, with the scent of stale whisky hanging in the air, the aroma of time blunted by a dampening depression that would never be lifted. The fire stooped low in the grate, flickering across the man splayed dejectedly across the chair in front of it. Grey tinged the temples of his brown, spiky hair and dark circles hollowed beneath his eyes, which stared blank and unseeing into space. His white shirt was rumpled and skewn, the vest stained and misbuttoned. In short, she stood before a broken man.
"Father?" She asked him tentatively.
A low cockney voice mumbled "She's gone… My Rose… Dead…"
"She's been gone eighteen years… Isn't it time to do what she would have wanted? Move on, live for her?"
Brown eyes scrutinised her intently, nearly a millennia of life staring out upon her, "She was never supposed to die."
"Don't you think that I believe the same about my husband? My daughter?" She demanded, "My Emily should have turned nine today! In three months I should be celebrating my tenth wedding anniversary! But I'll never know that. I'll never see her graduate, fall in love, teach her how to drive or even see her grow up! I'll never get to see my husband again, no matter how much I might wish for it!"
"Don't you think I know that? They were never supposed to die… " he said resignedly
"At least you and mum had thirteen years. We didn't even get one." She exploded, the tension inside her exploding outward in a torrent of tears, "Every night. Every Single bloody night, I see them. I see mum. I see Lucy. All alive. Every night I'm haunted by these images about what I, what we could have had! Every night that little girl scampers through my head, and no matter how many sleeping pills I take, no matter how tired I am, I can never get to sleep for these ghosts who won't let me rest!"
He chuckled at her, cold and mirthless, "Now you know my burden."
"Yet I'm not the one sitting in that chair." She retorted, standing and marching out of the room.
Brother and sister circled each other, weapons held loosely in their hands. Eyes scrutinising, watching for any weakness that could be exploited. One would lash out without warning, their staves clashing together in a dizzying flash, seconds later backing off once more.
"So what happened out there?" he asked, moving to strike her right flank.
She shrugged, fending the blow easily, "By the time I arrived," she rained down a
series of blows even whilst continuing, "The atmosphere was burning and the few who hadn't been taken were burning with it."
Swinging his staff round, he caught hers, "Z'Keth or Hamassi?"
Shoving him away, she resumed a fighting stance, "Both."
His eyes widened, even as he began swinging around, "That's never happened before… You certain?"
She feinted to the left, "Positive. It even looks like they might be attempting to merge the two species…"
"Just what we need: Creatures who eat you alive whilst sucking your blood and soul…" He winced, as she cuffed him in the head, "Ouch…"
"You're telling me." She agreed, "As if being killed by one of the two wasn't bad enough…"
"None of us went through what you did," He reminded, bringing his staff up even as she blocked, "So don't," Smash, "Get," Smash, "All Tetchy about it!"
"Just as well…" She muttered, parrying him easily, "I completely went off my rocker at him today…"
"You?" He said incredulously, "You're usually the sane one in this household."
"I don't know. It was as if he set off a switch and everything…"
"Came gushing out?" he said in understanding, "Isn't that why we do this? To stop that happening?"
"I suppose," Thwack, "But everything focused today…"
"Yeah, I know the feeling." He replied bitterly, striking to the shoulders.
"You coping all right with everything?" she asked in worriment, brushing aside his blow.
Evaluating his chances, he replied, "As I said earlier: Nine times. After a while… You forget how to feel…"
"I wish I could…" Josie replied.
He turned to her, "No, You don't." Quickly he flipped around to her back, raising to strike, and "This numbness just roots in your soul… and it rips your heart apart, piece by piece, darkness devouring it just as the Z'Keth devour their kills."
She blocked him easily, cornering him against the wall, staff going to his throat, "Yield?" she demanded,
He nodded, "Aye."
Sighing, she released him, "Do you ever wonder if things could have turned out differently?"
"All the time, sister. All the time."
It was well past ten by the time Jack arrived home. The grey ghost, they had taken to calling him, for that was all he truly was.
"Interesting day at work?" she commented from the table where she sat over a cup of black tea.
"It's work." He answered as he sat opposite, "Torchwood's a job, nothing exciting." The once thick American drawl had been tamed by thirty years of living in Britain, just as had the man, as he stared into the cup of water where once a beer or a hypervodka would have been. Business suits and ties had replaced tight fitting jeans and sonic blasters, just as the smile on his face had been replaced by the bleak, impassive glances that carried the burden life had forced upon them.
"He was lucid today." She commented airily, "And he made some comment about missing mum."
"We all miss her." Jack soothed, "Him more than we could understand."
"You really think so?" She asked icily.
Jack sighed, staring her in the eye, "After the Time War, she put him back together. Then she was ripped apart by the forces of time in front of him! In front of us all! At least with Lucy I got to say goodbye!"
"And do you think I got to say goodbye? To either of them?" She reminded him.
Jack instantly paled, realising they weren't talking about the people of before, "Emmie's birthday…"
"And I still can't say his name… Not without loosing it completely." She told him,
"Why does it hurt so badly?"
"You know Jo, I honestly don't know." He replied helplessly, draining his glass and leaving her alone with her thoughts.
The clock on the wall ticked inevitably onwards, second after second, minute after minute, ever onwards to eternity. She stared resolutely into her glass. Tick Tick. The Sound continued onwards, her grip around the cup tightening.
SMASH! The glass in her hand shattered, scattering pieces over her hand. Cursing slightly, she wrapped her wounded limb in a tea towel, and returned downstairs.
Hand patched up, she lay in her bed. Around her the dark, bare walls closed in around the hard, cramped mattress she afforded herself in place of the opulent bed she had once deemed to call her own. She had no need for such extravagance any more, and no such frivolity would ever assist her disjointed sleep.
Hours later she somehow managed a light doze, slipping into her dreamworld…"Happy birthday to you…"
"……Yeah lil sis?…"
"Helena! Don't wake Michael!"
"Yes auntie Josie!"
"…Saved them all for once…"Faces floated around her mind in an indistinguishable haze, "…honey?
She bolted upright, the shocked realisation coming over her.
"This isn't right."
The great moaning of the engines echoed through the silence of the night, carrying with it a lone Time Lady.
" He said 'They were never supposed to die.' If they were never supposed to die, then somebody's been messing around in time, and that means that the dreams I've been having aren't just dreams…" She told the ship as she pumped, prodded, bashed and banged, "There the reality-Or what should have been our reality. And we have to fix it!"
Memories began trickling into her brain, thoughts and feelings flashing faster than a hyperspace engine as the trickle became a torrent, and as the torrent became a Tsunami…
The blue police box and its mistress hurtled through space and time once more, heading towards a place they knew all too well…
A.N: Please tell me what you think! I love reviews, constructive criticism is always welcome and flames shall be used for fireworks!