A/N: A good beta points out your minor plot problems, continuity issues and proofreading mistakes. A great beta will help you break through the walls of uncertainty when you've gone and scared yourself to death with an idea. I am blessed to have found a great beta! Aibhinn, thanks for coming along on this ride with me!
You know I don't own any of this.
Chapter Thirty - The Music of Time
Apparently his newest companion was hyper-sensitive to the rich smell of burnt flesh. Madhukar was dry-heaving over by the door.
Jack was looking a little ill himself, and the Doctor was certain the complaint wasn't physical. The onetime con man wouldn't take well to the thought of being conned himself.
"Doctor, are you sure it wasn't just some quirk of the Stellar Manipulator?" Jack asked in a low tone.
The Doctor knew Jack was desperately hoping he hadn't been deceived. Because if Kit had fooled him about what she was, then what else had she lied to him about? He hated to crush that hope. He looked at the other man sympathetically. "The memory sphere made me suspect her. She told me it wouldn't work for her, but you were able to use it. And then,,,well, you saw it yourself, Jack. She channeled energy that barbecued my hand—" Rose let out a shocked cry as she realized just what the Doctor meant, "—without a trace of injury to herself."
Jack shook his head and met Kit's too-vivid gaze. "You're good," he told her in a harsh voice that made her flinch a little. "You acted human. You sounded human. You even kissed like a human, and I've kissed enough aliens to think I'd know the difference."
He cut her off with a sharp and bitter chuckle. "So I fell for an alien. It's not the first time."
"It's also not the first time that I've been fooled by a companion," the Doctor interrupted, leaning against the console. "I should have realized. It's all been too perfect, Kit, from the moment we met on that gantry in Florida. The first thing I ever heard you say was something I was thinking."
She shrugged slightly as she settled into the nearest seat. "Couldn't help it. You were thinking rather loudly at the time."
"And everything that happened afterwards?" the Doctor asked, leaning back against the console. "Going to New D.C. and finding that message from Romana? Chasing after all those bits of Gallifrey, finding Jack, finding the Matrix…none of it was a coincidence, was it?"
She leaned back herself, crossing her arms. "There's no such thing as coincidence, Doctor."
He pushed away from the console and stood over her. "It was all supposed to happen? Your killing a man?"
She looked up at him, undaunted by the sudden chill in his voice. "To save your life. Yes."
"The destruction of the shuttles?"
"Starting World War Three?"
"And Mariah? She was supposed to die, too?"
Mention of the murdered Torchwood worker seemed to strike a nerve. Kit looked down for a moment. When she raised her head again, her eyes had lost their glow. "You of all people should know that sometimes people die because of what must be. Sometimes we die because of what must be."
The Doctor furrowed his brow. "What must be? What does that mean?"
"Doctor, in your mind's eye, you can see all that is, all that was, all that ever could be," Kit replied. "We see what must be. We inspire, we guide, and once in a while we… push for the sake of what must be. You needed a little of all of that, my friend." Her eyes softened in sympathy. "After losing Rose, you were too busy tracking every move Torchwood ever made, trying to keep them out of more trouble."
"Not quite the fantastic life I'd been hoping you'd lead," Rose said, sidling next to the Doctor.
"And not the right path," Kit said. "We needed to get you back on track. Ever since the Time War, tiny holes have been punched through the fabric of the universe. You fell through one to Pete's World. The Daleks got through another in their Void ship. The wrong realities were mixing because the walls between them were breaking down. We could shore them up a little bit on our own, but we needed a stronger power source to do more than a patch job."
He could feel encouragement from the TARDIS as the pieces fell into place. "You needed the Eye of Harmony!"
She nodded. "The Eye of Harmony wasn't just a source of power for the Time Lords, Doctor. It was for us as well. But we don't have the ability to create one."
The Doctor paced back and forth, rubbing the back of his neck as he considered everything he'd heard. He stopped and turned back to her. "And that brings us to the real question. Just who and what are you?"
"She is one of the Ekala." Madhukar had finally acclimated and joined them at the console, regarding Kit with awe. He glanced at the Doctor. "My apologies for losing control over that." He motioned at the burnt hand. "It overwhelmed me first, and then…your ship! Wondrous, amazing…fantastic! It resonates with the Song! And it flows from her!" He pointed at Kit. "Rose, she is that answer that was at the tip of your tongue."
Rose gasped in surprise. "You mean she…?" When Madhukar nodded, she looked at Kit with wide eyes. "It was you?"
Kit beamed at her. "Me among others. We helped you hold the power of the Vortex." She inclined her head toward Madhukar. "Peace, wisdom and harmony to you, Seeker." He bowed in response.
"Wait a minute," Jack said. "Rose, what are you talking about?"
"After the Game Station," she said, regret and hope for forgiveness in her voice. "After—after we left you."
Jack reached out to squeeze her hand. "I know all about it, Rose. The Doctor told me I'm here thanks to you," he said.
"I think you have to thank her, too," Rose said. "Doctor, I told you I heard singing, remember?"
"And I said I sang a song to make the Daleks run away," he nodded, remembering.
"But it wasn't you!" Rose protested. "It was her. Madhukar told me I heard the Ekala singing the Song of Atha..Atha.."
"Athakara," Madhukar supplied.
"That's it!" Rose exclaimed. "And she was one of the singers!"
The Doctor's talent for saying the first thing that popped into his head chose that moment to re-assert itself. "Kit can't sing."
That set Kit off into peals of laughter. "Sez you! Guess I'll have to show you. Doctor, you still need to seal the breaches to Pete's World. I'll help." She slid off the seat. "I should warn you. I need to change all the way to do this."
She rippled. The Kit he knew in blue jeans and a Red Sox jersey was gone. In her place stood a being gowned in a familiar dazzling light. Light he'd seen a lifetime ago, streaming around Rose and shining in her eyes. But Rose's human form had stood out in dark relief against that glow. In contrast, Kit seemed to be made of that radiance, with golden tendrils streaming behind her, arching upward and outward, like..like..
"This is why you like it when I call you 'Angel,'" Jack breathed in wonder.
Her face…even shining with golden light, her face was still the same. Blue eyes and creamy skin framed by dark curls. Her smile was the same too, as warm as the hand she reached out to him, taking his own and drawing it up against her cheek.
"What I like is the way you say it, Jack, and the feeling behind the word," she said, giving his hand a gentle squeeze. "Humans call us angels. Spirits. Cherubim, seraphim, Malaaikah, Tennin, Tenshin, Devas, Amesha Spentas…choose your faith. All the stories put us a step below gods! But don't put too much stock in legends, and don't make more of me than I really am. I'm different, but not divine."
"I don't know about that," he smiled as he stroked her cheek.
"Flatterer! You know better. I still have the mouth of a spacedock worker!" she said with a wink. Jack grinned along with her. "And you'll notice," she pointed above her head, "no halo!" She gave his hand one more squeeze. "Now, I have work to do!"
She turned to the Doctor, becoming serious again. "I need you to channel the necessary energy with the TARDIS first. I'll draw on that to sing the rifts shut for good."
The Doctor raised an eyebrow, even as he began to work the controls. "I've heard you sing, Kit."
"That's what you think," she chuckled, turning her eyes to the time rotor, which was beginning to glow more brightly than Jack had ever seen. "Close your eyes and just listen."
Jack closed his eyes. He drew in a surprised breath as she began to sing, a sweet sound that at first barely rose above the hum of the TARDIS. Then it grew in volume and power. She sang words he couldn't understand, in an aria that invoked colors he couldn't name. Images of heartbreaking beauty passed through his mind's eye as she trilled a few final notes, and then fell silent. He savored the final images for a moment. Then she softly said, "You can open your eyes."
The angel was gone. His Kit was back, sitting in the seat again, rubbing her hands over her face. He moved beside her, and she leaned against him with a tired sigh. "That took more out of me than I expected," she said. "Doctor, if you check the readings, I think you'll find everything is locked up tight again."
The Doctor was already studying at the monitor. He looked up, excitement written over his face. "The breaches are sealed, more securely than I could ever have done on my own. This is fantastic!" He bounded away from the monitor over to Kit, bending down to look her in the eyes. "So that's what the Face of Boe meant by the Music of Time! You manipulated power and molded reality with your voice! I haven't seen anything like this since Logopolis!" He straightened up again to look at the others. "Jack, Madhukar, did either of you ever visit Logopolis?" He barely paused as they shook their heads, prattling on as he began circling the console. "The Logopolitans had an amazing skill for modeling mathematics into reality with nothing more than their minds. They were staving off entropy with pure equations and the power of thought. I had them work on the TARDIS once, trying to fix the chameleon circuit with block transfer computation, but the Master mucked it all up and—" Suddenly the Doctor stopped and turned to look at Kit. The manic glee was gone. "And he killed them all. It just occurred to me how closely music and mathematics are related. The Logopolitans…were they your people? Ekala?"
"Only the Monitor," she replied softly.
"I'm sorry. I couldn't save him," the Doctor said, regret in his voice. Rose took his hand.
"You weren't meant to," Kit said, bowing her head. Her own voice was tinged with sadness. "Like I said, sometimes we die for what must be."
Jack moved in front of her and tilted her face up. Tears were glimmering in her eyes. "Your parents," he said. It wasn't a question. "They really were on Flight 93. That wasn't just a part of your cover story."
"I wish it was, Jack. But that day would have been so much worse if they hadn't been there to inspire the courage to do what had to be done." She wiped the tears away and gave him a watery smile. "I told you we're not quite what we're cracked up to be. A divine being wouldn't have trouble accepting loss." He smiled gently in return, pulling her into his arms. She surprised him by resting her cheek against his chest with a small sob.
"Angel, come on," he said soothingly. "The good guys won this time! We got Rose back, we proved the Doctor wrong—" He threw a mischievous glance over at the Time Lord.
"Watch yourself, Captain!" the Doctor growled good-naturedly while Rose smirked. But concern was evident in his expression.
"This is one of those 'everybody lives' days!" Jack went on, ignoring the Doctor's serious mien. He pulled her up on her feet. "Normally that means music and dancing here on the TARDIS. Remember, Rose?" Releasing Kit for a moment, he stepped over to Rose and pulled her away from the Doctor to twirl her around. "Think we can teach Madhukar how to jitterbug?" he asked as she laughed. "Doctor? Wanna fire up the Glenn Miller?"
"Jack…" Kit's voice was quiet.
He spun Rose back into the Doctor's arms, and turned back toward Kit to pull her into his embrace again. "We did the impossible! It's time to celebrate!"
"Jack." She put a finger over his lips to quiet him, a sorrowful look in her eyes. "Oh, Jack. I…I have to break your heart again." She reached up to frame his face with her hands. "I can't stay."
He froze. "What are you talking about? Where are you going?"
She was tenderly caressing his face. "I'm being called home, Jack."
"You are home! Here with me!" he protested. That drew a small smile from her, and he stammered, "I mean…I was hoping…"
"I know." She drew his head down so she could rest her forehead against his. "I tried to protect you. I ended up not being able to protect either of us." She pulled back, and her blue eyes met his. "So I fell for an alien, too. For me, that is a first!" He smiled with her. "You could tempt an angel, Jack. But…the Eye of Harmony is still maturing. All of us, even the least of us, are needed to sing it stable."
"I thought I'd already stabilized it," the Doctor said.
She gently moved out of Jack's embrace. "For your purposes, yes. But there's still more refining that only we can do outside of linear time, in the Vortex." She grinned suddenly. "Doctor, you didn't think Rassilon called it the Eye of Harmony because the name sounded good, did you?"
The Doctor grinned back down at her, then lifted her off her feet in a tight hug. "You could never be the least of anything. I don't think I can ever repay you for helping me get Rose back."
"Just another part of what must be," she said as he set her back down. "A few days in the Vortex will heal both Rose and the TARDIS. After that… you just be a good teacher to him." She motioned at Madhukar. "First of the new Time Lords. You can't watch over time and space all on your own, you know. There's too much to do. Planets to save, lunatics to stop, Vellians to control.." He laughed heartily at that. She stood on tiptoe to kiss his cheek. "Just remember to stop and smell the..um..flowers."
"And not just read the Cliff's Notes?" he asked with a smile that told Jack they were sharing a private joke.
It was her turn to laugh. "We'll work on metaphors another time!" She looked at Rose. "He's still no knight in shining armor, Rose. In fact, his talent for finding trouble is mind-boggling!"
"Jeopardy-friendly?" Rose asked, giving the Doctor a nudge with her elbow.
"Oh, definitely! Take care of him. And…watch out for Jack for me?"
Rose smiled. "I will."
Kit stepped over to Madhukar, holding her left hand up to him. She cocked her head when he seemed to hesitate, and smiled when he raised his own left hand and pressed it against hers. "I don't want you making more of me than I am, either," she told him. "Even your people don't have it all right."
Madhukar nodded. "I will remember, and I will tell them."
"Oh, you'll tell them so many things! Joy in your Finding, Seeker." She drew away from Madhukar and turned back to Jack.
He took both her hands and stepped back at arm's length to just look at her, taking in every detail. He cocked his head curiously. "Shouldn't you be wearing an Angels jersey?"
She giggled. "Wouldn't that be a cliché? Nah. Red Sox all the way. Games at Fenway are a lot more fun. I'll take you to one sometime and prove it."
Hope sprang up in his heart. He pulled her close. "Does that mean you're coming back?"
Her eyes focused somewhere far away. "We don't get to see all of what must be. Especially when it's about ourselves," she replied slowly. "But I can see enough to promise you that I will find you again. I can see us together."
She focused back on him with a slightly stern expression. "Jack. Even if I could see it that clearly, you know I couldn't tell you." She smiled then. "But I don't blame you for asking."
"You know I had to try," he answered, resting one hand on her hip and bringing the other on the side of her face. "How do you see us?"
Her eyes sparkled as she slid her arms up along his chest and around his neck. "Like this," she whispered, and drew his head down for a kiss.
There was no rushing this time as their mouths met and melded. He slipped his hand from her hip to the small of her back to hold her even closer, memorizing the feel of her body against his, the silken texture of her hair, the warmth and sweetness of her lips. It was what he'd dreamed of, and he let himself get lost in kissing her.
Tears were running down Rose's face as she watched Jack with Kit. All she'd been through hadn't destroyed her empathy, the Doctor reflected as he wrapped his arms around her. She was still his Rose. She rested her head against his chest, and he laid his cheek against her hair, looking away from his companions to give them some privacy.
A sudden flare made them look back at the other couple. Kit had changed again in the midst of the kiss, becoming a being of light once more. Whorls of coruscating gold shimmered around them, wrapping them both in a shining embrace. When they finally parted, Jack opened his eyes and huffed in surprise. "I think you just ruined me for kissing anyone else ever again."
One side of her mouth quirked up. "Really? Would you be offended if I said I was happy that Captain Jack won't be getting around much any more?"
He threw his head back in laughter. "Not at all!" They held each other quietly for a moment, foreheads pressed together, and then he began chuckling again. "You know, I just realized that you've never told me your real name. Kissing strangers has never been a problem for me, but you and I aren't strangers. What do I call you?"
"I still like it when you call me 'Angel,'" she said with a soft smile. "Kit is my heart name, Jack. If you want to be formal, I'm Ka'alakit'kathalia. But you and I don't have to be formal."
"No," he agreed, bending to kiss her again. She raised up to meet him partway. At first the Doctor thought she was standing on tiptoe. Then he realized she was hovering above the deck.
Gently, she pulled away from Jack, floating back toward the console. Golden tendrils caressed him before drawing away and wrapping around the time rotor. Rose stepped away from the Doctor, still holding his hand and reaching her other one out to Jack. He took it, watching in awe as Kit rose upward, becoming even brighter as she moved toward the rotor. She stopped, and winked at Jack.
"See ya in heaven."
Kit and the rotor both glowed with unbearable light, forcing them to close their eyes against the brilliance. When they could look again, the walls of the console room were glowing with an aurora of colors.
But Kit was gone.
The Doctor looked over at Jack, just as Rose moved to give him a comforting hug. Tears were trailing down his cheeks, and the Doctor's own hearts ached in sympathy for him.
After a long moment, Jack drew away from Rose. He scrubbed his hands over his face and gave them a smile that was falsely bright. "I'm all right." When the Doctor gave him a disbelieving look, he amended, "I will be. She'll be back. She promised."
"And promises are meant to be kept," Rose said.
"Exactly!" Jack agreed, his smile becoming more genuine. "Listen, Doctor. I'll get Madhukar settled into a room. You probably ought to check Rose over in the medical bay to make sure she's okay. Play doctor a bit," he said with a wink that made Rose blush.
"Captain!" the Doctor said in a warning tone. Jack reached out and laid a hand on his shoulder.
"Go on. You've just got each other back. We need to spend a few days in the Vortex anyway. The universe won't implode if you spend that time getting to know each other again."
The Doctor glanced over at Madhukar, who grinned and said, "I've been Seeking years for you, Acarya. Honored Teacher. I can wait little longer."
He grinned. "Honored teacher, eh? Finally a bit of respect for the dignity of a Time Lord!"
"Don't get too used to it," Rose teased him. "We'll have him corrupted and disrespectful in no time."
"Let the corruption begin!" Jack smirked. "Come on, Madhukar. I'll give you the fifty-cent tour and get you settled into your room." He met the Doctor's eyes. "After that, I think I'll take some batting practice. Do some thinking."
The Doctor smiled, understanding. "It's amazing what you can do with a little batting practice. Even the impossible."
"If you need to talk…" Rose said, reaching out to touch his arm.
Jack nodded. "I'll find you." She gave him a chaste kiss. He stood and thought for a moment, then shook his head. "Definitely ruined!"
He beckoned to Madhukar and led him off, leaving the Doctor and Rose in the console room.
After so long, finally, alone.
The Doctor was surprised to find that he was suddenly feeling shy and awkward. It didn't make any sense. At last he was right where he wanted to be, with the woman he loved, but he felt more like a confused teenager than a nine hundred year old Time Lord. He cleared his throat. "So…." He stopped, not sure what to say next, then took a breath and tried again. "Well, then…"
Rose seemed to be feeling awkward as well. "I suppose…"
Their eyes met and they started laughing. "This is silly," Rose giggled.
"Well, laughter is the best medicine, right? And speaking of medicine, I suppose I should check you over to see how you're doing." He put an arm around her and walked her back to the medical bay.
A quick scan showed that her white blood cell count was already dropping. A few days in the Vortex would restore her vitality, and a few visits back to the kitchen would bring her back to a healthy weight.
Removing the chemotherapy catheter in her chest was the work of a moment. She took the device from him and chuckled softly as he ran the dermal regenerator over the damaged skin. "I said I needed a miracle," she said.
His work done, he laid the regenerator down and ran a gentle hand over the newly healed skin above her breast. "We both did," he murmured, bending down so his face was close enough to feel her breath.
They stayed that way for a moment, just breathing each other in. Then Rose whispered, "So, you planning to play doctor right here?"
He smiled and swept her up, bridal style. "Let's take this to our room."
"Ours?" she inquired with an arched eyebrow as he carried her out of the medical bay. He mirrored her expression.
"What? I can't share a bedroom with my…with my…" he stopped, searching for the right word.
"Girlfriend?" Rose suggested helpfully.
He shook his head. "Far too juvenile for a nine hundred year old Time Lord," he said. He considered the possibilities. "Hmmm. Flame? No, too temporary. Angel? No, Jack's staked that one out. Hmmm…inamorata? Paramour? No, those sound too indecent. What else? Sweetheart? Dearest? Old lady?"
"Don't even think about that one!" she giggled, giving him a swat.
He grinned at her as they reached his…their room, and he pushed the door open. He silently thanked the TARDIS for tidying up a bit, and for what she left on his dresser. "Well then. How about these, Rose? Partner? Lover?"
She smiled as he set her down. "I should hope so."
He walked over to the dresser and picked up the ornately carved bottle left there by the TARDIS. He turned back to Rose. "Do you remember this?"
She smiled. "The chocolate wine from Traken. Tremas gave it to us. Said it was for our wedding."
"Hmmm. Spouse. Wife. Soulmate. Rose." His eyes never left hers as he opened the bottle and began to pour the wine into the glasses also left by the TARDIS. "We may not have the benefit of clergy," he said, passing one of the glasses to her, "but we do have an angel's blessing. Think that would be good enough for your mother?"
"It's good enough for me," Rose said, clinking her glass against his and then taking a sip. "You do remember what this stuff does to me, don't you?"
He smiled over the rim of his own glass. "Oh, yes. I've been looking forward to it." He set the glass down, took her in his arms again and bent to kiss her.
Their waiting was over. They were together again.
Just where they belonged.
Scintillating colors continued to flow across the walls of the TARDIS console room as the ancient timeship considered her charges. She sent waves of welcome to the one who was murmuring soft prayers in his room, still lost in wonder. She sent comfort to the one who'd settled onto the grass of the cricket pitch-turned-baseball diamond, a red aluminum baseball bat lying across his lap and an angel's name on his lips. And she shared in the love and joy of the two who had lost and found each other.
The TARDIS hummed as she tumbled through the Vortex, healing in the Music of Time.
And outside the Vortex, beyond the Music, something moved in the dark.
Additional Author's Note: I know, I know. Hey, I fixed "Doomsday," didn't I? I'm not about to go and leave poor Jack brokenhearted. I'm afraid I've gone and fallen for him too.
For anyone confused about the mentions of Traken and chocolate wine, let me humbly refer you to my earlier tale, "Hold On To Life," also archived here.