Summary: My version of a post-Doomsday reunion fic, kind of. Rose keeps meeting the wrong Doctor. It's a parody of all those horrible, sappy stories where Rose languishes in the alt!world, waiting for the Doctor to come and (gag!) "rescue" her, because obviously she's incapable of living without him (gag again!).
Note: Beta read by Kara MT.
The first time Rose heard the TARDIS materialise in the alternate world, she didn't even stop to dress properly. She simply bolted from her bedroom and sprinted outside, cavalierly abandoning Jackie, Pete, little Joey, Mickey, and all of her new friends and acquaintances.
Now, it wasn't like her new life was miserable and pointless, with Rose desperate to escape its horrors. In reality, over the past year she had settled quite nicely into this existence, growing pleasantly accustomed to the new family dynamic that included father and little brother, besides attaining a prominent and important position at Torchwood. Still, given the choice between here (one planet, during one time only) and there (everywhere and everytime else), was it any wonder that she should prefer there? Especially since there included the Doctor's presence.
Miraculously, it was all within her reach. Although the Doctor had claimed he could never come back to this world, he must have persevered and found a way. In the back garden stood the comforting form of the old blue police box. The door slipped open at Rose's touch, as if the TARDIS had been waiting for her return, and she stepped into the familiar surroundings that were... not so familiar at all. The small, plain console room looked almost nothing like she remembered. The Doctor, who must have redecorated, had most unfortunately gone overboard with the minimalist approach.
As she gaped in dismay, there came the sound of a throat being cleared. Rose glanced to the right to see an old man staring at her, eyebrows arched. "Who are you?" Rose blurted, though relieved that the Doctor hadn't insultingly replaced her with another young female companion.
"I am the Doctor, of course. Now, who are you and what do you want?"
Rose, brought back to reality with the news that this old man was the Doctor, suddenly became horribly conscious that she was wearing a very thin pair of blue pyjamas that did not benefit from the lighting in the room, and hurriedly backed towards the door. "Never mind. Sorry to have bothered you."
When the Doctor turned and called for "Ian and Barbara", Rose made a run for it.
Back in her room, she mulled over the situation. When she'd first heard the TARDIS, she had never expected to encounter an old man inside, much less an old man who obviously was an earlier regeneration of the Doctor himself. Rose swallowed her disappointment and took heart in the knowledge that at least the Doctor was able to travel about in this world. Surely it was only a matter of time until the right one came for her. So over the ensuing several months, no matter where she was or what she was doing, Rose remained poised to race towards the sound of the TARDIS.
Her next opportunity occurred in the middle of an emergency Torchwood meeting, while the weak points of the invading Utans were being discussed. Rose missed this vital information but did find the TARDIS resting in a nearby office. She was now altogether better prepared to again find neither of "her" Doctors, but instead a short, scruffy, dark man and a young man in a kilt, who nearly wrung their hands at the very sight of her.
"Doctor, who is that?" said the boy in a strong Scottish accent, as he carefully kept the console between himself and her.
"I don't know, Jamie, but when I say 'run'..."
"Sorry, wrong TARDIS," Rose apologised, and retreated before they could put their plan into action.
Although she returned to the Torchwood meeting, she spent the time weighing other concerns. What, precisely, should she say to a Doctor (assuming he pre-dated her own) if he attempted to hold a conversation of more than three sentences with her? If she filled him in on her identity, or dropped any hints of his own future, wasn'it it entirely possible that she would destroy or at the very least severely entangle the timeline? Opting to err on the side of caution, Rose stayed silent on these points when the third TARDIS eventually appeared, with the result that the grey-haired Doctor in the frilly clothing clearly regarded her as a stalker of limited mentality. Since he let her leave with little argument, however, he had evidently dismissed her as being relatively harmless.
Nothing of consequence occurred over the next month other than an sneak attack by the Utans, during which Rose failed to distinguish herself because she'd been too distracted to pay sufficient attention during meetings. It was quite embarrassing. The following afternoon, she took a long walk to clear her head and had just turned back towards home when the fourth TARDIS wheezed into sight barely an arm's length in front of her. The door swung open at the exact moment that Rose, hopes renewed with a vengeance, reached for the handle. She looked up at the exiting figure and sighed. "Let me guess: You're the Doctor, too."
This Doctor, who was all teeth and curls, blinked and then thrust a small sack in her direction. "Would you like a jelly baby?"
Attempting to pry a sticky red sweet from her teeth as she continued homeward, Rose wondered if she would ever see her Doctor again.
She had another chance in the library car park a fortnight later. Although four people piled out of this TARDIS, Rose made an educated guess that the one dressed like an old-fashioned cricketer, with fair hair and a pleasant, open face, must be the Doctor. Her gaze travelled from him, to the boy in pyjamas, to the girl in maroon velvet, to the girl in the lilac uniform. It certainly seemed like this Doctor had a sufficiently full house.
The boy, after a dismissive glance in her direction, studied his surroundings. "This isn't an airport, is it?"
"Sorry, Tegan, I tried," the latest Doctor murmured before collapsing onto the pavement in a dead faint.
The girl in the lilac aimed her seemingly permanent scowl at Rose. "Oh, now look at what you've done. He's gone off again."
Maroon velvet, kneeling beside the Doctor, interjected, "Don't be unkind, Tegan. This was already a difficult regeneration."
While the three tended to the fallen Doctor, Rose made good her escape. At home, she flipped open her little journal and wrote:
It's been five TARDISes and I'm starting to lose hope.
Nevertheless, despite the discouraging results of her quest, Rose didn't give up. She was certain the Doctor would never quit on her, so she continued to react like one of Pavlov's dogs to any sound even remotely resembling that of the TARDIS. Her odd behaviour did not go unnoticed, either at work or at home. Her coworkers eyed her nervously, the lift mysteriously emptied whenever she boarded it, and Rose found herself eating lunch alone at her desk with increasing frequency. Her mum made excuses when she asked to hold the baby, and holiday brochures began to spring up in prominent locations around the house.
By the time she'd been insulted (she thought) by the tall Doctor in the garish coat and just plain confused by the short one with the umbrella, Rose had rethought matters. After all, loyalty had its limits. And the truth was, it wasn't healthy of her to remain prepared to escape from her life at a moment's notice. She had become unreliable and unpredictable. Matters needed to be resolved, one way or the other. When the latest TARDIS finally showed up, this one on the pavement outside the grocery shop, she marched up to the door and yanked it open, anxious to see which Doctor was inside. If it was either of hers, her faith had been rewarded. If it was a different one... well, at least she'd be able to move on.
Rose paused on the threshold. Her grand entrance had made no impact, but the lack of reaction wasn't what concerned her. For a heartstopping moment, she thought the man across the room, the one wearing the leather jacket, was her own first Doctor. But then, with a horrible sinking feeling, she realised that his face and hair were wrong, and he wasn't alone. He was so not alone, in fact, that he was kissing a curly-haired man who had the sort of fashion sense Rose had quickly come to associate with the early Doctors.
It was no casual embrace, either. With still more of a sinking sensation, accompanied by quickly averted eyes, Rose admitted to herself not only that this Doctor had failed to notice her presence, but he was also apparently gay. Which led to the depressing thought that perhaps all the Doctors were gay and wouldn't that explanation account for an awful lot regarding her own relationship with him, like that interminable hand-holding stage that had never developed into anything more serious. Head bowed under the weight of severe disillusionment, Rose turned and slunk out of the TARDIS without being seen.
The next time Rose heard a TARDIS land nearby, she didn't even bother to get out of bed.