A/N: I have returned! After much deliberation over what to write next I came up with this little sequel to Inheritance. Obviously as I am still in deep mourning for Rose this will be an AU fiction where Doomsday doesn't happen…although how fabulous was the Catherine Tate Xmas episode?! Anyway, here we see that releasing Grace to the 'Other Side' may not be the happy ending the Doctor had wished for and can he and Rose resist the temptations of the Underworld.
As always I own nothing. Spoilers up until Fear Her.
1: The Approaching Storm.
"You can be so melodramatic at times," said Rose as the first rain drop fell onto her nose, "You had me worried for a second with that 'can't you feel it' talk."
The Doctor flashed her one of his trademark boyish grins, the light wind ruffling up his hair as he turned his face back up to the fireworks going off above his head, "Well I like to keep you on your toes," he said slipping his hand from hers to wrap around her waist, "And its true in a way, we shouldn't say that we'll never ever get split up, there are so many things in this universe that could do that Rose."
"Yeah but we'd fight everyone of them," said Rose resting her head on his shoulder, "It's a shame its raining, kinda put a dampener on the opening ceremony."
"It'll only be a shower," said the Doctor, "Now how about you and me head home for the night, we've got a busy day tomorrow, the shot put is at eleven and then there's…"
"Is it true what you said about Papua New Guinea?"
The Doctor smiled down at her, bring his face within an inch of hers, smiling lightly as she unconsciously licked her lips in anticipation, "Wait. And. See," he said softly before giving in to temptation and placing a gentle kiss against her lips, "Come on then, home again. Gotta see the TARDIS is alright after its little trip to the world of 'Two Dee' with me earlier. Was strange being a drawing actually, kinda like being run over by a steam roller…not that I'd know what it feels like to be run over by a steam roller but…"
Rose laughed to herself as he continued to babble, leading them away from Dame Kelly Holmes Close and the nightmare day it had given them. The street was happy and joyful but despite the rise in temperature since the Isolas had left the planet Rose still felt a chill go through her. She looked up at the Doctor, barely noticing that he was still rattling on at two hundred miles an hour and frowned. Perhaps he was right, never ever were dangerous words.
The creak of the bed caused Rose to open her eyes slightly, blinking in the darkness as she tried to focus on the clock on the dresser beside her. She gave up trying to figure out the numbers, knowing it was some ridiculously early hour as the TARDIS hadn't even begun to lift the artificial night she always gave them; a trick more sympathetic to Rose's needs than the Doctor's. She groaned and closed her eyes once again, burrowing back into the pillows and pulling the heavy duvet tighter around her shoulders. Sleep began to touch once again at her consciousness but the sigh from the body beside her woke her once more. She rolled her eyes, turning back to the pillow but the bed shifted again and another dramatic sigh left the restless Time Lord at her side.
With a huff she rolled over to face him, still feeling her heart flutter as she took him in even after more than six months as his lover. She loved how their relationship had changed since the night of reading Shakespeare to one another outside a haunted house in the Lake District. Beneath the Time Lord uniform of brown pinstripes and cheeky 'know-it-all' façade, Rose had found the Gallifreyan man he had kept hidden for many years, even before the destruction of his home world. He was still The Doctor; he needed no other name in her opinion, and could still be very alien and superior but in the quiet of the night when they were alone he let the defences drop, leaving him vulnerable and beautiful.
At this point in the night however Rose felt nothing but the urge to poke him and tell him to shut up. The Doctor had kicked off the covers, revealing to the night his now favourite black and white checked pyjamas that Jackie had given him as an Easter gift. Rose still cringed at them but to love a Time Lord was to love his eccentricities as she had found out in recent months as he opened up more about his past and her friendship with Sarah-Jane had revealed some of his former incarnations' fashion mishaps. The Doctor's brow was furrowed in exasperation as he squeezed his eyes shut and shifted on the bed once more.
"What's the matter?" said Rose stifling a yawn with the back of her hand, "You've been tossing and turning for hours."
"Can't sleep," came the strained reply beside her.
"Go fiddle with the TARDIS then," said Rose, "That's what you usually do, you don't need to stay here because of me. Get the bed to myself and can spread out when you go off."
"You spread yourself out anyway. How anyone so small can take up so much space is beyond me," said the Doctor finally opening his eyes and rolling onto his side to face her, "Its not that I'm not tired, I do want to sleep its just…"
Rose frowned at the odd expression that crossed his face. She reached out a hand to his cheek in the darkness, "What is it?"
"I keep dreaming," said the Doctor, "Every time I go to sleep and I just wake up again."
Rose shifted closer to him and snaked an arm around his shoulders, encouraging him to rest his head on her shoulder, "Gallifrey?" she said softly, knowing the nightmares that haunted him still, "You've not dreamed about them in ages."
"These dreams are different," said the Doctor, his hand bunching around the material of her pyjama top, "They're not the nightmares I used to have, they're not even nightmares its just…its weird. I'm standing the in the city where I lived when I left my parents' home the first time but when I turn around I'm looking at the house I was born into and my mother's there with my father but he's old like he was when I first left the planet while she's young, she died years before I left. Everything is just silent, so profoundly silent I can't even hear myself breathing. Then things change and there are just all these swirling colours but everything is still silent. I can't work it out but it just repeats whenever I close my eyes."
Rose stroked his arm gently, "Sounds like you need to lay off the marmalade before bed," she said, content to hear a muffled laugh against her shoulder, "Its probably you reacting to today, I mean getting trapped in a child's drawing is a bit weird even for you."
"Oh I don't know, I think I've done worse, getting stuck in the Big Brother house was an experience."
"Knowing your temperament back then I'm surprised they had a set left after five minutes."
"I did blow up a couple of the camera's," said the Doctor proudly, pushing up from Rose's shoulder and looking down at her.
"That's my boy," she said, her tongue poking between her teeth as she smiled, "You know, I could probably make you fall into a contented sleep full of wonderful thoughts."
The Doctor raised an eyebrow, grinning playfully, "You sure you're up to the challenge? I'm wide awake now and I could keep going for hours and hours and hours and hours…"
Rose slipped her arms up around his neck, fussing the soft hair that tumbled down onto her fingers, "Promises, promises," she murmured softly before shrieking in surprise as the Doctor found a particular spot on her neck and began his well practised torture.
A week of amazing results and pure relaxation followed and the Doctor had not since mentioned his dreams. Rose watched the cheering Papua New Guinea fans with astonished admiration as the small group of no more than twenty supporters managed to make enough noise to fill the stadium as their shot put team took both Gold and Bronze while Russia looked decidedly displeased with Silver; what would have been their winning shot denied when the athlete's foot went over the line. As the cheers died down she heard the starter pistol for the four hundred metre hurdle final go off and she soon found herself standing up from her chair and cheering on the English team, waving around the novelty hat she had bought on their arrival at the Stadium. She sat down again with a huff as her cheering failed to get the young athlete a place, noticing again what a good idea the Olympic committee had had when they decided to pad the seats.
She smiled as she noticed the Doctor clambering back up the steep steps to their seats, balancing a vast array of refreshments in his gangly arms. She stood to take several of the items off him before frowning down at the bags in her hands.
"Carrot sticks? Apple slices?" she said in disgust, "I sent you for crisps and you come back with this? You trying to say something? Told you we should have gone back for the picnic I made us."
The Doctor rolled his eyes and took the packet of apple slices off her and popping it open, "It wasn't my fault, turns out there's a new government initiative that bans the sale of unhealthy refreshments at public events so eat your carrot sticks and be grateful I didn't buy you the fungus crisps…although fungus can be alright, once defeated some pretty nasty maggots with fungus…"
"You're putting me off my carrot sticks," said Rose, laughing at the mock hurt that crossed his face, "So don't tell me, the lemonade was out of the question as well; what did you get instead?"
The Doctor smirked and handed her a cardboard cup before sticking a straw into his own and taking a contented drink, "Banana smoothies."
"You've got insider info on these games I swear to you," said Rose as she grudgingly handed over a ten pound note to the grinning Time Lord beside her, "I reckon I'm going to bump into one of your old bodies and find out you've seen it all before."
"Can you not refer to them as bodies, I prefer incarnations," said the Doctor, smirking as the woman in front of him turned to him with an odd expression, "I'm the male Madonna, the King of Reinvention."
Rose sniggered as the woman turned around with an even more bemused expression before whispering to the man beside her and getting up to leave. Rose dug the Doctor in the ribs.
"You're terrible, you know that? Doctor…?"
She turned to the man beside her to see his face set in a concentrated stare at the field before them. She looked down but there was nothing apparent save for the staff setting up the next event of the day. She waved her hand in front of his face but even that didn't pull him out of his daydream.
"Oi! Earth to Doctor, there's a Slitheen doing a tango in the back row."
"There's a who doing what now?" said the Doctor turning back to her, the glassy look gone from his big brown eyes.
"Well at least you're only as spaced out as normal now," said Rose, "You totally zoned out a minute ago, fuzzy eyes and everything."
"I thought I saw someone I recognized but it was nothing," said the Doctor with a grin, "Now how about that tenner you owe me?"
Rose gave him a bemused look before taking his third banana smoothie from his hand and giving the content a concerned sniff, "Doctor the javelin finished ten minutes ago, you bet that South Korea would win and then took yet another tenner off me."
"Do you mind not snorting my drink," said the Doctor snatching back the cardboard cup before setting it down at his feet, "And we have not yet settled our bet on the javelin, I think I'd…"
Rose wanted to flash him a triumphant grin as he pulled the latest ten pounds from his pocket but the look of confusion that dulled his handsome features pulled the concerned side of her personality forward. She closed her hand over his and tried to capture his gaze.
"I can't remember you giving me this," he said not looking up at her, "The last thing I remember is them announcing that South Korea had won and then seeing…"
Rose frowned as she traced what she hoped were comforting patterns on the back of his hand, "I gave you the money and said I would probably run into one of your old bodies and find out you knew what was going on anyway, then you said you prefer incarnations to bodies and scared the woman in front of us that she left, then you just sort of…" she trailed off, mimicking his previous expression before turning her attention back to him, "Perhaps its still a reaction from what happened when we arrived."
"You're probably right," said the Doctor, "This whole stadium is probably buzzing with residual ionic energy after all those people were transported so it probably stands to reason that I would feel it after having so much blasted at me when the Isolas transformed me into a great looking Mickey Mouse."
Rose smirked at his ramble, "Awful lot of probablys in there," she said, "Look, if it is this ionic wotsit how's about we give up on the Olympics here and go to them back in Ancient Greece or something."
The Doctor looked around the stadium they sat in, concentrating briefly on the long jump that had just started and then up to the Olympic torch that he had lit five nights before. He turned back to her with a happy smile and took her hand, "We've seen all the good stuff anyway," he said, "But are you sure about Ancient Greece? Remember what happened in Rome? Plus you'd need to don a beard and get a much deeper voice as women weren't allowed to watch the games, lots of very naked men running about."
"I thought that was Club Med?" said Rose, an eyebrow raised in defiance as she remembered his comment from when they first arrived, "And besides, naked men? Here's hoping you get yourself into trouble and are forced to compete; Mum's been begging me to film some of our adventures and I'm sure you wrestling naked with some toned, Greek Adonis would provide ample amusement for her and Bev on one of their girly nights in."
"I could easily go off you Tyler," said the Doctor grimacing at the thought.
"You couldn't if you tried," said Rose threading her fingers through his, giving his hand a tug, "Come on, we stay here any longer and it might just border on domestic and when I last checked we don't do that."
"Yeah," said Rose, giving him the smile she knew always bent him to her will, "The plural of you and me, we, we don't do domestic. We do hurtling through time and space, landing wherever we please, running from baddies and generally having a fantastic time."
Not caring for the bemused crowd around them the Doctor pulled Rose close against him, his hands clutching possessively at her back as he purred in her ear, "You have know idea how much I love you Rose Tyler."
"Yes I do," she said, "Now come on, home. I'm sure there's some planet needs saving or some supernova that requires our undivided attention."
The Doctor took her hand and led her out of the stadium and towards the TARDIS parked just on the outskirts of the Olympics Village. The TARDIS greeted them with a familiar flurry of beeps and the room brightened as if the ship was herself smiling at the couple. Rose ran a hand over the console as the Doctor shot her a grin before beginning his manic dance around the central hub, flicking switches and muttering away to himself in a tongue Rose knew she would never understand. She felt a familiar hitch in the engines and watched in awe as the central column began to rise and descend with its familiar rasping music. She stepped back from the console and gripped on to the support bar, understanding the movements of the ship in flight and knowing exactly when to tighten or relax her grip. With a spin, flurry of fawn coat and the ring of the oddly placed bicycle bell she felt the judder of their landing and turned to the Doctor with a familiar question in her eyes.
Once upon a time she had asked him, in his old form when he had first taken her away, what was outside and he had extended a hand to the door, silent but smiling. Today her eyes asked the question to his new, boyish form but the gesture and smile he gave reminded her that her old Doctor was never far from her side. Instead of running to the door as she had done before she stepped towards him and laid her hand in his upturned palm and his smile changed to one she had never seen on his old form, the smile that told her how much he loved her and that he wasn't scared for her to know it. She knew she wore the same look as he turned his hand to take hers properly and lead her over to the door.
They paused at the door, Rose trying to peer out of the frosted glass of the tiny windows, allowing the excitement of the adventure that awaited them outside to build around them until they both reached a hand out at the same time to pull open the door. They both stepped back as the doors swung inwards, revealing to them the sight outside.
Rose gasped in surprise at the beauty before her eyes, not knowing what she was seeing but letting it take her breath away none-the-less. She felt the familiar force field the TARDIS placed around them whenever they landed in deep space rise around her and thanked God that she had not run outside without checking what was outside; vacuum, however pretty, was never very welcoming.
Before her rocks and dust and every form of glittering matter floated sedately around her, the silence beautiful but deafening. Stars glittered distantly, throwing light on the scene as no sun burned nearby, giving the edges of the larger rocks a glittering midnight blue glow. Great asteroids clashed silently, sending off great swirling tendrils of dust like fireworks on New Years Eve. Rose let out the breath she had been holding and thought herself at the beginning of time. A giant piece of space rock drifted past, dwarfing the TARDIS and allowing Rose to gladly feel her own insignificance. She pondered for a second why none of the flying debris even nicked the TARDIS but she felt the force field warm around her and knew that their ship was keeping them safe as well as herself.
A frown came to her face as she saw something out of place float in their direction, metal rather than the organic matter she saw before her now. A memory stirred at the dimpled surface of the jagged metal and she searched her thoughts for where she had witnessed it before. She felt the hand in hers tighten slightly and heard the sharp intake of breath before the desperate sob at her side. She turned to the Doctor in concern but only felt herself pulled roughly back as the doors were slammed with such ferocity that she thought the Genghis Khan comment may have only been a joke. The doors held and she stared at them in disbelief as the familiar hand left hers and she heard his converse on the metal grates, circling the console, cursing in some ancient language while choking back sobs.
Rose shook off her shock and turned to the Doctor, watching him frantically programming the TARDIS. The lurch of the ship took her off guard and she tumbled to the floor but to her surprise no question of concern came from her companion. She pushed to her feet, furiously brushing herself off.
"Thanks for that! Would you mind telling me what the hell is going on?" she cried, stomping up to the console.
"Why'd you do it?"
"Why'd you take me there?"
Rose was about to respond when she realised she was not to one being addressed. She circled the console to the Doctor's side, running a hand up his back and feeling the barely repressed shudders. She expected him to turn to her but it was as if he could not even see her.
"Why'd you take me back there?" he shouted, taking the mallet he so often wielded when the TARDIS chose to misbehave and slamming it down onto the console, "Why? That wasn't fair!"
Sparks jumped out from the console, showering both Rose and the Doctor but he didn't stop, smashing the mallet down again on the same spot, still screaming at the protesting ship. More terrified than she had ever been of him Rose backed away from the Doctor but a desperate, pleading beep from the TARDIS sent her back to his side, using all her strength to wrestle the mallet from his grip and fling it halfway across the control room. He began pounding the console top with his fists before slumping to his knees and resting his forehead against the damaged console.
"Why'd you do it girl? Why hurt me like that?" he muttered, still sobbing.
Rose knelt beside him and took his chin in her hand and turning his face towards her, seeing the realisation of her presence register in his eyes when they met her own.
"Doctor what's wrong? Why did you take us away from there?"
Rose took a moment to react as his arms went around her waist, holding onto her tightly as he buried his face in her shoulder, sobbing inconsolably. She held his shoulders, allowing one hand to travel up into his hair and stroke him; hushing him as she would an infant.
"My darling what's wrong?" she asked softly, "Where was that place?"
"Home," he murmured followed by another bout of sobs, "That was Gallifrey."
"Oh God," said Rose, tightening her grip on his shoulders, "Why'd you take us there? You stupid man why did you take us there?"
"I didn't," said the Doctor, "The TARDIS did."
The Doctor's weak smile greeted Rose as she wandered back into the control room, carefully carrying a cup of tea in each hand as she navigated her way down the steps to him. He took one of the cups from her gratefully and drank before grimacing and swapping it for the other.
"Thanks," he said softly before flopping down on the chair, throwing his free arm over his eyes, sighing deeply, "I'm sorry Rose, I didn't want you to have to see me like that, I must have frightened you."
"I was more worried about the TARDIS than myself if I'm honest. Can you fix her?"
The Doctor nodded mournfully, "She's been in a worse state after I've…mourned, so to speak. Its just surface damage. I did hurt her though, I scare myself when I do that."
"You can't help how you reacted to that, I can't even begin to think what must have been going through your head when you saw that. Doctor look at me."
When her kept his arm in place, Rose slipped onto the chair beside him and pulled his arm away from his face, noticing with alarm the red circles under his eyes that still remained from the passed two hours of crying they had both endured. She set her cup on the console before taking his from him and placing it next to her own. She pulled his head down to her shoulder and held him gently, not knowing what words she could use to comfort him. After his initial outburst she had been unable to find anything to say to comfort him, just trying to soothe him with worthless promises; she was there for him, he wasn't alone, it would get better with time, it wasn't his fault that it had happened. It had quieted him enough to allow her to leave him to prepare the tea that she knew would now be forgotten but she had no idea if she would ever see him properly smile again.
"I wish I could say something to make you feel better," she said against his hair, "I wish I could turn back time and never ask you to take us away from the Olympics."
"I think the TARDIS would have done this whenever we left," said the Doctor, "I set her to take us to the Coronation of Henry the Eighth, I wanted to take you to the jousting. Instead we end up…there. All in bits…I didn't even realise where we were until I saw that Dalek casing and then… I used to feel it, a switch in the air, something in my head that told me that I was home but it was all gone…they were all gone…all dead…"
"Hush," murmured Rose, "Don't do this to yourself, please Doctor. Don't hurt yourself like this."
"I just don't know why she did it, to take me there when she knew what it would do to me."
"Perhaps it was a malfunction," said Rose, unable to believe that the TARDIS would willingly cause the Doctor such pain, "Did you check the flight plan?"
The Doctor looked up at her before glancing back over to the monitor that was working away in his own intricate language, "I couldn't make head nor tail of it, I sort of buggered up a few things when I hurt her. I'm running a check on some of the systems now to see if there's a problem. Why there though? I never wanted to…and the paradox it could have caused…I couldn't have been far from there, the particles weren't that dispersed; I must have still been spinning nearby."
"You mean…you, the old you," said Rose, a pain the Doctor had not seen in months returning to her eyes. She sprang from the chair and ran to the console, hopping from foot to foot in agitation, "We've gotta go back, I can't leave you…him on his own, in so much pain."
"Oh God how much he must be suffering, all on his own…"
Rose paused as she felt a hand slip into her own. She was easily pulled into his waiting embrace, feeling an aura of strength return to the man she held as his comfort came from soothing her.
"Rose, you know we can't go to…to him. I never met you before that night at Henricks, it would destroy both our time lines to go back. God if I could take you back I would, I needed you so much back then but we can't go back. My presence alone would cause a dreadful paradox and I don't know if I could see him…see myself like that."
"But you're all on your own," said Rose into his jacket and finding a tiny part of her missed the feel of leather against her cheek once more.
"I know," said the Doctor, the catch evident in his voice, "But you know I get better. I left…that place and went to my friend Lethbridge-Stewart's on Earth, he helped me, got me better. I started travelling again and then I met you, my Rose Tyler. You have to…we have to let me get through that time on my own."
Rose's response was halted when a beep echoed from the console beside her. The Doctor's arms loosened around her and she straightened up, releasing him as he turned to the monitor. He began tapping away and muttering again in his own tongue. He gave her a bemused look before turning back to the console. He straightened up and moved to the opposite side of the console, he glanced at the support bar she had gripped onto on their flight to Gallifrey then back at the console. He shook his head and returned to the screen.
"What's the matter?" said Rose, noticing the confusion on his face.
"Someone altered our course, sent us…there."
"How? You and I are…"
"But if you and I were the only ones in here then how…?"
"I don't know," said the Doctor, "But someone deliberately changed our course to Gallifrey, someone told the TARDIS to take us there. Question is…"
"Who?" muttered Rose, wrapping her arms around herself as she shuddered in the cavernous room, "And why?"