A/N: I have a thank you I forgot to mention to Pottingshedpixie who kindly read the first two chapters of this in their infancy and convinced me to continue so thank you honey. Last Chapter.
13. Of Exits and Exorcisms
The Doctor hated funerals, it always rained. He had sat in the drafty church for several hours and despite the help he had received from the village in digging up the bodies not many had attended the small service. Mary had been there though, her slight frame wrapped in her sombre black attire. The Doctor surmised that the majority of villagers would be at the Johnson boys' funeral later in the week, the fate of Grace and her family no interest of them now the mystery had been unravelled. After the service they'd gone outside to the small graveyard and to the small family sized plot that had been found so all the bodies could rest together. He'd stood in a similar role as Jackie had played at the start of the saga, a handful of dirt and a single white rose his parting gifts to the family he'd saved a century and a half too late. When the service had finished Mary had invited them back to her small house and they'd made the short walk there. Once Rose had been safely distracted the Doctor had made his escape.
He sat now on a small bench in the dreary graveyard, the rain still drizzling down onto his trench coat but he didn't feel the chill too much, the heavy jumper Rose had forced him into that morning fast becoming something he was glad of. A wooden cross stood in place of the headstone that would be erected for the family in a few days, a small gold plaque marking out the names of those beneath the newly turned earth. The Doctor had personally requested that no dates be shown on the headstone, just names. When Rose had later questioned him he answered that he thought a date of 1843 was not a good representation of their lives. He smiled as he imagined the names on the plaque before him even though he couldn't read them from the distance.
Catherine Isabelle Proctor, Simon Quinn, Johnathan Proctor, Henry Proctor, Annabelle Proctor.
The Doctor felt a smile touch his lips as he gentle ran his finger over the cool stone pendant in his hand as the list continued. Grace Amelia Howes, Ivy Suzanna Howes. The fact that Grace had been with child at her death had come as a shock to the Doctor when the undertaker had confirmed the brief post mortem results but he hadn't even bothered to think of who may have been the father, he'd simply named the unborn child and asked for it to be listed among the others. He'd gone through many names for the child, knowing in his hearts if not in his head that Grace would have borne a daughter. The name came to him as he had wandered around the back of the house and down to the bog the evening before, wanting to sit quietly on the old stone bench and think on his own loss as well as the one before him. He'd had the TARDIS on an easy standby linked to the sonic screwdriver if he felt any risk from Clarence but nothing had happened. He had noticed the window he had fallen through was again in one piece but that hadn't shocked him with the power he knew Clarence possessed. It was the sight of the window though that had set his mind back onto his escape from the house and the one thing that had saved him. Braving the thought of another altercation with the house's spirit, the Doctor had walked up to the back of the house and pulled a handful of the green and white ivy from the wall. He'd smiled as the name seemed to fit Grace's child perfectly and he'd returned to the TARDIS with a spring in his step, calling the funeral home to make his request.
The Doctor was so lost in his thoughts that he didn't notice the figure slip into the seat beside him and he jumped as a hand slipped into his. He went to turn his head and regard his guest but the coldness that flowed into his fingers kept his eyes facing forward. The breeze rustled the leaves in the trees above him and he felt the rough brush of old fashioned cloth against his arm.
"Is this my chance to thank you properly?" he asked, not raising his voice for fear of breaking the spell.
No words answered him but the wind rattled in the trees around him. He stared down at the overturned earth of the grave, imagining the souls of its occupants flying away on the Cumbrian wind.
"You've saved my life twice, I just hope I've given you your freedom," said the Doctor, "Its funny, didn't believe in ghosts before I came here."
Out of the corner of his eye he thought he saw the semblance of a smile form on his companion's face and heard a childish laugh echo in the rafters of the church. He smiled himself, giving the hand in his a tentative squeeze.
"I have a request to make of you though," he said, "I don't know much about dying, never ever though of it, what happens after this. My family died too, not too long ago. There were lots of us, lots of noise, its so quiet now though Rose does try to make enough racket for a hundred people at times."
He felt icy fingers flex against his, encouraging him to continue.
"I don't know if my people will ever go to the same place as you do but if you see them, will you tell them…tell them that I think of them, so very often."
He heard the rustle of hair as if someone had nodded and then felt the shift of weight against his side before the press of cold lips pressed to his cheek. He almost imagined a patch of ice forming there and tracing up to his ear where a silent voice whispered.
He thought he must have fallen asleep on the bench and slipped into a dream when he felt a warm body settle next to his. He felt no apprehension in turning his head and looking at the person next to him, smiling ruefully as Jackie's hair blew frightfully in the wind. She brushed it down frantically with her hands, wrestling it into a band she had around her wrist.
"You do know my daughter is going frantic for you at the moment?"
"I didn't mean to be away this long," said the Doctor.
"What are you doing here anyway?" said Jackie, pulling her black suit coat tighter around her.
"Nothing, just…waiting," said the Doctor, absently stroking his hand over his bandaged wrist as an ache began to set it.
"I don't know," said the Doctor, a tired laugh touching the edges of his voice, "What does someone sit in a graveyard waiting for?"
"A peace they'll never find," said Jackie softly, "I sat in the graveyard where we buried Pete every afternoon for a month just after Rose started school, was the only place I didn't feel on my own."
The Doctor reached an arm up and placed it around her shoulders, "Never stops hurting does it?"
"Not ever," Jackie agreed before tapping his leg to get him to his feet, "Now come on, Rose is doing her nut over you and I said if I found you I'd call her and drag you back to the TARDIS."
"Actually Jackie can you hold off calling her for a bit," said the Doctor, "She'll only come running and make a fuss again. I'll come back to the TARDIS with you but I just need five minutes without being told to take it easy."
Jackie pocketed her mobile and took his offered hand as she got to her feet, "Alright then but if she yells at me I'm blaming you."
The Doctor gave her a playful wink, "I'll tell her I gave you the slip," he said as they walked out of the graveyard and back towards the house.
Several days had passed since the funerals and the Doctor had been forced into convalescence by a rather fearsome Rose but he had obeyed, keeping to the TARDIS interior and letting his little nurse fuss over him. To be honest, despite the moaning that accompanied every command he was given, he was quite glad when he began to feel better. He had always healed much faster than humans and the TARDIS had several nifty gadgets to speed the process along. His protestations were only ever half hearted, enjoying the gentle attentions of Rose as she made it her job to keep him happy and comfortable. When sitting up became a task without the threat of needle like pains bursting in his lungs or holding a cup of tea failed to make his wrist ache beyond belief the Doctor found his way out of bed and proceeded to find entertainment in annoying the hell out of Mickey until Rose agreed for sanities sake that she'd release him.
Rose was bemused when Mickey told her that Jackie and the Doctor had both gone down to the village early that morning. It had been two weeks since their arrival in Penrith and the Doctor and Jackie had proved nothing but cold acquaintances the majority of the time so the thought of them actually going anywhere together instantly made Rose think they were up to something. She'd questioned Mickey but he'd merely shrugged before changing the subject on to when they would actually be going home. Calling mobile phones had proved useless, the Doctor, as always, had failed to even take it from his bedside table and Jackie's kept shifting to voice mail after a few rings.
When several hours had gone by without a word Rose pulled on her shoes and left the TARDIS. Her feet had barely hit the road when she heard familiar laughter from the house behind her. She could make out the figures of her Mum and the Doctor as they stood talking a few metres away from the front door of the building. Rose turned herself towards them and walked over.
"Where've you two been?" she said as she approached the pair.
"Just had to get a few things," said Jackie with a shrug of her shoulders, "Didn't you leave her a note Doctor?"
"Thought you did," said the Doctor nonchalantly.
Rose wasn't buying it, "Ok you two, neither of you are that good actors, what's going on?"
"Nothing," said the Doctor, his eyes deliberately wide and innocent, "Not a thing, isn't that right Jackie?"
"Quite right," said Jackie with a amused smile, "You need to be a little more trusting Rose."
"You're scaring me now," said Rose, "Can…can anyone else smell petrol?"
The Doctor sniffed the air, "Guess the wind's got a bit of a twinge to it," he said, wrapping an arm around her shoulders and beginning to walk a few metres towards the TARDIS. He began fumbling in his pocket and Rose looked up at him confused as he pulled a packet of cigarettes and a lighter from his pocket. She watched in shock as he removed one from the packet and put it to his lips, clicking the lighter on and lighting the end.
"What the…when the hell did you start smoking?"
"Who said I was smoking," said the Doctor, not even taking a drag as he pulled the cigarette from his lips.
"Well the burning cancer stick in your hand would say so," said Rose trying to snatch it away from him as the aroma of tobacco filled the air around them. The Doctor held it away from her, laughing and shooting Jackie a look that Rose couldn't make out. They were clearly trying to wind her up.
"Oh this?" said the Doctor holding the cigarette up in front of him, "I'm not going to smoke it."
Rose raised an eyebrow, "Aren't you a little old to be holding a lit cigarette just to look cool?"
"I don't need a cigarette to look cool," said the Doctor, "I just need it to do this."
He tossed the still burning cigarette behind him and Rose watched as it sailed in a perfect arc to land on the wooden front step of the house. On impact the entire step caught alight and the flames quickly spread to surround the ancient house. Rose's eyes widened in shock and she turned back to her mother and the Doctor. To her surprise they were laughing.
"Couldn't stop Clarence haunting the house," said the Doctor.
"So we got rid of the house instead," said Jackie, watching proudly as the flames quickly engulfed the property.
"But Nan left you that house in her will, it was worth a fortune," said Rose, "You could have brought a lovely place in London."
"I'll be no worse off than I was before and at least no one will have to go through what we've gone through ever again," said Jackie.
"Did he talk you into this?" said Rose shooting the Doctor an accusing stare but it was met by more laughter on his part.
"It was your mother's idea, I just provided the…umm…fireworks."
"We talked about it on the way back to the TARDIS after the funerals," Jackie explained as they watched the house slowly succumb to the now ten foot high flames, "I didn't want to keep it and the Doctor didn't want to leave the risk of Clarence lingering over the village so we thought if we got rid of the house we'd get rid of Clarence."
"Sort of a do it yourself exorcism without the Holy water and twisting heads, that sort of thing can get very messy," said the Doctor seeming quite happy with his handiwork, "And don't worry, I've added a chemical to the petrol that will stop the fire lighting on anything that isn't within or part of the house so I'm not going to start any forest fires in the middle of rural England. It'll eat up the house and then put itself out. When the flames dies Clarence's skeleton will be revealed and I've already got his burial arranged. We just need to wait for the fire to put itself out."
"So what do we do until then?" said Rose.
"Don't know," said the Doctor, "Watch."
"Got any sausages on board," said Jackie giving him a cheeky nudge in his newly healed ribs, "I fancy a barbecue."
The Doctor shook his head in despair as he led them both back into the TARDIS knowing the ship would alert him if anything untoward happened with his inferno burning outside. She had done before he thought sadly before closing the blue wooden door behind him.
It was a warm, fresh morning as the Doctor listened to the toneless, monotony of the latest prayer being uttered from the Vicar's lips. The graveyard was silent save for the two of them and the simple wooden box in the six foot hole before them. The Doctor looked across to the furthest corner away from where he stood and could just make out the elegant headstone of Grace's grave. The grave he stood by now would forever be marked with a nameless, Celtic cross, but he at least would remember who lay there. The vicar closed his book and the graveyard hands moved in to begin shovelling Earth into the hole. The Doctor slipped off his trench coat and laid it over his arm, admiring the white expanse of his bandage-less wrist. He tipped his head in a acknowledgement to the grave before turning on his heel and leaving the Church and its occupants behind him.
He made the walk back to the TARDIS in record time despite finding it particularly amusing to play stepping stones over several old tree stumps, testing the integrity of his newly healed leg. Soon the sight of the flat, charred remains of the house came into view with the TARDIS parked near to the front gate. He pulled his key out of his pocket and unlocked the door, a smile reaching his face as he saw Rose propped up in the captain's chair, a magazine across her knees. She looked up and gave him a warm smile, slightly tinged with sadness.
"Did it go alright?" she said softly, "Sorry I didn't come with you."
"You weren't comfortable," said the Doctor, "Its fine. It went well, it was a simple service, the rest is up to him now. Where are the others?"
"Mickey found The Blair Witch Project in your DVD collection," said Rose setting the magazine to one side as he stepped in front of her and took her hands.
"I give up with you humans," said the Doctor bending down to place a kiss on her forehead.
"Not all of us I hope?" said Rose tilting her face up to his. He brought a hand up to brush her hair back from her eyes.
"Perhaps not all of you," he agreed, pressing a warm kiss to her lips, "Ready to go home?"
"I am home," said Rose softly causing him to laugh against her lips.
"Ready to take your mum and Mickey home then?"
"Definitely," said Rose springing of the seat and moving to the console, "Come on then, you promised to teach me."
"Haven't I had enough broken bones in the last week?" said the Doctor with a cheeky grin that widened as he turned and fled into the TARDIS interior, a giggling Rose and her rolled up magazine close at his heels.
The TARDIS was wonderfully silent, the only sound of life being the distant rasp of the central column in the control room signifying their gentle flight through the time vortex. The Doctor curled his legs tighter beneath him as he shifted the book on the arm of the chair, turning the page before pushing his glasses a little higher up his nose. He felt the hairs on the back of his neck rise up and shook his head, turning round to tell Rose to stop trying to sneak up on him and scare him. Since they'd left the Lake District a week before she had made it her soul aim to terrify him by sneaking around the TARDIS behind him. She hadn't succeeded yet but she had managed to get them tied to a stake on a peace loving planet that valued silence above all else. Rose's screams of 'Boo' clearly not impressing the locals as the flames lapped at their ankles. Of course the Doctor had got them out before they'd been fried but Rose had still moaned that her shoe laces had got singed.
When nothing but the wall behind him met the Doctor's eyes he shook his head and returned to his book but the feeling wouldn't leave him. He rubbed his neck, expecting to find a stowaway spider trying to spin a web in his hair but nothing came away with his hand. He closed his book and took off his glasses before wandering over to the door, opening it he peered either way down the corridor, the illuminations bright and stark.
"Rose are you about?" he called but only silence answered him.
He went back into the room and huffed down on the sofa, perching his glasses back on his nose and cursing as he struggled to find his place in his book. He didn't want to look up but he did. A little red light flashed intermittently in the corner of the room, illuminating the shadows not touched by the TARDIS lights. The Doctor pulled his glasses down and peered over them, his feet finding the floor and ready to run. He watched the light grow and the apparition begin to take shape. His breath stilled in his throat and his hearts hammered so loudly in his chest that he could swear Rose would hear them even if she was in the furthest reaches of the ship. Nothing should be able to stowaway on board like this and the Doctor pinched himself to make sure he wasn't dreaming before giving an accusatory stare to the glass of wine sitting on the table before him.
The apparition continued to form and the Doctor pushed onto his feet, trying his link to the ship and finding it dull and silent as if someone was blocking him from her. The fear really started to rise then and the route to the door suddenly looked like the longest run he could ever make. He felt the drop in temperature and hugged himself instinctively before rifling in his pocket for the sonic screwdriver, realising he'd left it in his jacket pocket which he'd flung down somewhere in the control room. He wanted to call out for Rose but something stopped him.
His eyes widened in shock as the apparition finally stood fully formed before him. His hearts still beat wildly but the abject fear that had held them subsided and he felt himself give an incredulous smile.
"You look beautiful," he said.
The apparition before him gave a small, shy smile, tucking a black, glossy ringlet behind her ear. Her skin was still ivory pale and her eyes a light grey but her choked blue lips were now full and pink and her neck healed. The Doctor noticed the tiny bundle in her arms and the tiny ivy leaves embroidered on the blanket it was wrapped in. The Doctor felt the tears in his eyes at the sight but still smiled.
"Are you free?" he asked, taking a step forward but stopping as the apparition seemed to waver in the shadowy light, "Are you happy?"
Grace nodded, gently rocking the tiny baby in her arms. Her eyes seemed to want to speak to him but the Doctor failed to understand her. Before he could question her he felt a warmth against his chest and he reached inside his shirt. His hand closed around the amulet he'd taken to wearing, the stone usually cold now warm to the touch. He closed his eyes for a second and he could have sworn for the smallest time he heard the sound of playful yells and a language long since forgotten ringing in his head before it fell silent once more. They were alright and they were together. When he opened his eyes Grace gave him a gentle nod before the apparition faded to mist in the shadows.
The Doctor ran to the corner, the sonic screwdriver scanning for anything and everything while the TARDIS gave him a sharp mental kick for the few minutes of silence between them, clearly even she didn't understand what had happened. Nothing came back to him, the sonic screwdriver humming but not registering. He felt the wash of finality flow over him and he laughed sadly to himself, he'd given her freedom but he would never see her again, learn what it was like beyond even the realms he could walk in. Feeling the chill of departure the Doctor ventured to the fireplace, his eyes studiously avoiding the mirror as he stared down into the flames. He would need to get over the tremors he felt whenever he did and soon, he didn't think he could convince Rose for much longer that the reason he asked her to do his hair for him in the morning was because he liked her playing with it. She'd been on to him from day one.
He smiled as he thought of the feelings Grace had passed on to him, the deep, long awaited comfort he'd needed. There was a peace to be found, he wasn't there yet but he knew it could be reached. His thoughts turned to Rose, still a little silent and pensive though she didn't speak of her thoughts when she was so he didn't know if it was her Nan's death or the house that had made her so. She too was recovering though, the nightmares quieting at night not that he'd minded having her share his bed since they'd returned. He comforted her as best he could, careful not to cross the very blurry line of best friend and lover that had fallen between them. He'd begun to think of it as their 'going slow limbo' but he would wait for her just as she was waiting for him.
He was so lost in the flames that the two warm palms on his back made him jump. His hearts only settling as he heard giggling behind him.
"Easy tiger," murmured Rose gently running a hand up his arm, "What's got you so jumpy?"
"Nothing," said the Doctor turning to her with a smile, "Nothing at all. Just wasn't expecting you since you've been hiding from me all evening."
"I've not been hiding I've been… arranging," said Rose, walking her fingers up his chest before gently loosening his tie.
"Is this you coming on to me?"
"Maybe," said Rose before pulling him down for a kiss with his tie, "Come with me."
The Doctor silently obliged, letting her lead him by the hand from the library and through the lit corridors. When she stopped outside a door he didn't recognise as one they often used he raised a questioning eyebrow. Rose leaned back against the door, fixing him with a half serious, half seductive look.
"I've been thinking…"
"You do not know how scary those words are when they come from you," said the Doctor, flinching as the ridiculous line failed to calm the tension in the atmosphere.
Rose flashed him a cheeky grin before taking his hand and bringing it to her lips, running sweet little kisses over his knuckles, "We always sleep in your room and you moan that my room is too messy whenever you come in there so I thought it was time for a change."
"What do you mean?" said the Doctor, feeling his legs buckle as she nipped gently at the skin of his wrist, "You're making it very hard to concentrate."
"I've not even started yet," said Rose, pressing a kiss to the pulse point at his wrist, "What I mean Doctor is that we need to stop having a 'your room' and a 'my room' and start having an 'our room'."
With her free hand Rose pressed down on the door handle and it swung back into the room. Still with a firm grip on his hand she pulled him inside and the Doctor smiled in amusement while he felt his hearts flutter in his chest. He took in the décor of the large bedroom, smiling at the deep, earthy colours he so often favoured in his room as they were set off by the rich reds that Rose often chose. The smell of jasmine filled the air and the Doctor noticed the vast collection of expensive candles Rose had weaselled out of him back at a marketplace they'd visited in his old form were alight and giving the room a soft, flickering glow.
His entire body shuddered as he felt her run her hands up his back before raking her nails back down again. He wanted to warn her she was on very dangerous territory doing that but he had a feeling she already knew as she wandered round to stand in front of him once more.
"I'm tired of taking things slowly, I know you are too," she said, the slight tremor in her voice betraying her nerves even if she was trying to play the smouldering temptress. The Doctor thought he liked the slightly more tentative Rose anyway.
"Are you sure you're ready for this?" said the Doctor, his hands coming to rest on her hips before he bent down to press a soft kiss to her lips, "I don't mind waiting if you want to."
"I don't want to wait," said Rose wrapping her arms around his neck, "I love you. Its torment sharing a bed with you when you always behave like such a gentleman. I know you're passionate, I want some of that directed at me."
The Doctor smiled at her words, gently nudging her nose with his, "If its what you want," he said, "I love you beyond anything in this universe Rose, I want you to know that."
"I do," she said loosening his tie and pulling it off before slowly unbuttoning his shirt, her hands stilled as she brushed across the almost faded bruises on his ribs, "Are you alright to…?"
The Doctor bent down to her ear, his breath stirring up her hair as he spoke. His voice came out in a low growl and Rose felt the tingles right through her body, "So long as you promise to be very gentle with me."
"I think I can promise that," said Rose as he bent to kiss her once more.
"Rose Tyler you should be sleeping," said the Doctor opening one eye and finding her staring down at him, a soft expression on her night darkened face.
"You're much more interesting than sleep," she said tracing a finger down his nose, "Do you know you have very pretty eyelashes? Very long for a man."
"I am not pretty," said the Doctor, shifting his arm around her back to hold her closer against him, revelling in the feeling of her cool skin against his.
"Yes you, you're very pretty, always were."
"Even with the big ears?"
"I liked your ears," said Rose, tracing his now much smaller ears with her finger tips, "I was always comforted by the thought that if we ever had to jump from a plane I could catch your ankles and parachute to earth."
The Doctor gave her an incredulous stare before flipping her over to pin her down on the bed, the candlelight flickering off her ivory skin, "That Miss Tyler was a little too cheeky."
"And what are you going to do about it?"
A shrill ringing pulled the Doctor from his thoughts and he stared accusatorily at the mobile phone singing away on the bedside table. It was only there having clattered noisily from Rose's pocket when he'd decided her jeans would make a far better rug than clothing accessory. It had gone unnoticed for several hours until he nearly fell over it when trying to pick his way around the candlelit room in search of the chocolate Rose had left on the dresser. He'd mumbled about the fact that mobile phones had no place on the floor tripping over Time Lords and dumped it unceremoniously on the small bedside table. He wished he'd left it where it was, the denim would probably had muffled the sound it was making.
He reached over and grabbed it, pressing the answer key and holding it to his ear.
"She's busy, go away!" he said moving to hang up and Rose giggled beneath him.
"Doctor?" she said as he seemed to turn his attention back to the phone. She huffed in disappointment as he rolled off her and sat up in the bed. Even her attempt to tempt him back with kisses across his neck and down onto his chest didn't divert his attention.
The Doctor said goodbye to whoever was on the end and turned to Rose with an almost feral smile.
"That was Mickey," he said.
Rose gave him a pissy stare and folded her arms across her chest, pulling the duvet up as she saw the grin it put on the Doctor's face, "You chose to talk to Mickey over me?"
"He's on to something," said the Doctor, "Said something about Defra Vale school, record results, new management and some form of censored unscheduled meteor falling to Earth."
Rose's eyes changed from angry to interested, "You've got that look about you Doctor."
"It could prove interesting," he said leaning down to press a kiss to her lips, "What do you say? Even if it proves to be nothing we've completed our mandatory trip back to your mother's a week early."
Rose reached up to wrap her arms around his neck, knowing wherever they went it wouldn't be for a few hours yet, "I suppose it would be good to stretch our legs a bit."
"I like the way you think Miss Tyler."
Rose didn't have to answer.
A/N: Hope you enjoyed. Haven't got anything else in the pipeline at the moment but I'm sure something will come to me soon as I am desperate to keep Rose alive and with the Doctor. I just can't cope with the thought of a new assistant but then I did think I'd have problems accepting David Tennant as the Doctor. Now Mr T is top of my 'Foxy Doctor' list. Please review.