"So we're not dead."
"We're not dead."
"But we're not alive."
"I didn't say we weren't alive. Sorta. Mostly."
Rose sighed. She was getting a bit bored with this partial existence in a big bunch of nothingness. "So what are we?"
The Doctor somehow managed to outdo her sigh. It was longer and protracted, and somehow managed to echo in the nothingness. "Well, I've been a bit…lax with some things."
"Like telling me that I was going to turn into an alien?"
He always had to overdo everything, didn't he? Even his indignation was so much more forceful than hers. Which was funny, since she was the one who'd been turned into an alien at some point in the last three to seven months. "Yeah, well, you're mother's been force-feeding me. We're even. No. See, there've been no other Time Lords. So I haven't been shielding my thoughts. And there're no other Time Lords. So you didn't know you had to. Though I kind of suspect you wouldn't be a Time Lord-Lady-Person-Thingy if there were other Time Lords, but that's not the point. The point is… we're kind of stuck."
He hesitated, and she knew that she'd probably not like the answer. "In each other's minds."
There was more silence. It droned on and on and on. Maybe purgatory, or hell, was that waiting on the edge of the pause, waiting to fall off the cliff into that news no one really wanted to hear. Or maybe it was salvation, at the bottom of that ravine. Who was to know?
Mickey grabbed Jackie's arm when she reached for the Doctor's wet collar again. The first time she'd grabbed his lapel and yanked him upward to let his head drop painfully on the cement floor Mickey had just been too shocked to help the alien. But this time he'd been fast enough to at least try to prevent (further) brain damage from occurring.
"I'll kill him!" she shouted. "I'll kill him until… until he does something!"
She shrugged Mickey off and was about to kick the Doctor in the side when another, more forceful and more familiar set of hands grabbed hold of her. Gripping her upper arms, Pete tried to restrain her. "Love… love, this isn't…"
But Jackie had that look in her eye. The really mean one she'd bore during that year when she'd tried to get Mickey to confess to chopping Rose up into little pieces and tossing her into the river. "He did it! He managed to muck things up an entire universe away!"
Pete looked to Mickey for an explanation. All Mickey could do was shrug. "Apparently the Doctor left Rose alone in another universe with a Time Lord madman." He left out a whole bunch of details, but the essence was what they needed here.
With that revelation, Pete frowned and Mickey was afraid he'd have to rescue the Doctor yet again. "Well, get him the hell up, then!"
"What if we?"
"It'll never work."
"You didn't even listen to my idea."
"I'm in your brain, remember?"
A long pause while she contemplated this. "Well… crap."
They'd been going around like this for a near-eternity. Rose couldn't stand it any more. "Shy of reversing the polarity of the neutron flow, I'm fresh out of ideas! So you'd better think of something. I dragged Martha Jones to the end of the universe to show her around a bit. I didn't drag her to the end of the universe to be held hostage and killed by a madman Time Lord. So There." She paused, gathering her thoughts. "You'd better just FIX IT."
"You know–this'd be much easier if you just stopped being a Time Lord."
"I'll get right on it."
Jack gently tapped Rose's cheek as he unconsciously rocked her body on the floor. That was about all there was left to do. Martha wasn't entirely sure what the hell she'd just witnessed. But it hadn't been pretty. Two people were dead and they were stuck at the end of the universe.
Oh yeah, and to make matters worse, there were those…Mad Max castoffs beating at the metal door.
The blast she'd heard in that cluster of confusion just before Rose dropped to the ground had been Chantho shooting Yana. You could see the uncertainty and betrayal in the blue alien's eyes as she did it–but she wasn't going to let him finish whatever mad thing he'd begun.
Chantho was dead, Yana had declared something about being "The Master" as he slumped to the ground, still reaching for the watch as he died.
And like that–it was all over. Jack grabbed Rose, Martha had gone to Chantho, who was dead before the medical student could even pull the alien's lab coat away to examine the wound. Now here they sat, Martha keeping watch over the body of Chantho, an eye on the rattling door. Oh yeah, and their designated driver was very, VERY unconscious. It didn't get much better than this.
"Jack…" Martha groaned as the heavy cast metal vibrated with the force of the blows. "We need to do something."
There was an intensity in the man's blue eyes she hadn't seen yet. It wasn't panic. More like… extreme worry. "Do YOU know how to fly that thing?" He flicked Rose's cheeks a lot harder. "ROSE!"
Lowering Chantho's head to the ground, Martha grabbed the woman's laser pistol. "This has been a hell of a day," she said to herself more than anyone else. "I didn't survive killer rhinos to die at the end of the universe."
Mickey came to the conclusion that the Torchwood psychics were crap when the two girls stepped back and shrugged. "He's just not there."
Jackie stepped forward from the group that had gathered in the medical ward and, thrusting her belly at the girls, gave them a piece of her overworked mind. "Of course he's there, you idiots! Look at him! He's right there!"
The paler of the two identical twins (was that possible?) pressed her lips together, rather unhappy with Mrs. Tyler. "Physically, he's there. Mentally? He's some place else."
Nudging Pete, Mickey took a few steps back from the hubbub of the twenty or so people who had gathered to figure out what the hell had happened to their prize specimen.
Not sure his idea was ready for public consumption, he leaned in to his boss and quietly explained. "He's been having these out-of-body experiences, right? What if he's found a way to help Rose. In the other universe. What if he's just–out of body again?"
"So do we try to kick his mind back into his body, or do we try to kick his body to wherever his mind is?" Pete wondered absently, as if he hadn't even realized that the thought had sprung from his mind, much less his lips. "Or should we even be bothering?
Mickey bit his cheek. "I think it's better to bother than not." He tried to explain. "See–he hasn't really understood what's been going on. So he might not have a handle on it. Or he might be bloody brilliant and know exactly what he's doing suddenly. Or he could be banking on us pulling him back into his body. He could be banking on us not. Either way, I think our bets are better if we at least try to get him back together."
"What?" Pete looked at him like he was speaking Greek.
Mickey sighed. It wasn't very often he was ahead of the curve, but he found it to be annoying. No wonder the Doctor hated him so much. "He's brilliant but not infallible. Err on the side of caution."
Jack shook his head. "I appreciate the sentiment." Another slam caused the top of the door to come swinging out of its frame. "But put it down. You'll never take all of them out–those things have a lousy battery life." Scooping Rose into his arms, he gestured with his chin toward the Police Box. "In there."
As the door gave way in a cacophony of scraping metal, Martha ran to the wooden door, swung it open and held it for Jack. As soon as he and his load were in the ship, she closed the door, looking for a lock on the inside. "How do I lock this?" she asked in a panic–then jumped back from the door as something heavy and angry slammed into it.
The man looked up from the unconscious woman in his arms. "You don't. it just… does its thing."
"It just DOES ITS THING?" Martha jumped back from the door as whatever it was slammed into it again. Surprisingly the door quaked but didn't buckle. "Great!"
Where were the spaceships with their big blast doors and external monitors and…big lasers for fighting things off? Time and space travel isn't what she thought it would be, or what was advertised in the
Sliding Rose to the floor of the TARDIS, Jack thought about the door for a moment. When the rattling, echoing sound of pounding started up again, he scratched the back of his neck. "I guess that thing really can keep out hordes. I thought it was just a selling point."
Heels clacking on the metal grates in time to the pounding, Martha looked Rose over. It looked like the woman was just unconscious–but she was dealing with an alien. Who knew? "So what do we do now?"
Jack frowned. "Good question."
"Do you want to know what I hate?"
Rose sighed mentally. "You're going to tell me anyway, aren't you?"
"That I'm stuck in a place in between both universes. All because I did something they teach you not to do in nursery school–never let down your mental guards. Why? Oh! There're NO MORE TIME LORDS! But that's not true anymore. And here you are, and here I am, and my only hope of getting unstuck is Rickey the Idiot. Which is depressing on so many levels. First, what if he thinks I'm doing this on purpose? Second… well, he's been saving me a lot lately. It makes me a little scared for the universes."
"Jack'll think of something."
"Yeah, he'll have sex with Martha Jones in my bed."
"Don't be crude."
"Rassilon–you are SUCH a Time Lord. Next you'll be telling me if it's fun, I can't do it."
"You're such a--"
"I said shut up!" Rose's voice was high pitched and clipped. Which was odd considering no physical form, much less sound, existed in this cloudy thick nothingness.
"When we're done with this… I'm killing you. Maybe you'll regenerate nicer."
"A complete and total Time Lord. They already did that once."
"Shut. Up. Shut up, and think of something clever."
"Why don't you think of something…. Time Lord."
"When we get through with this–I'm never talking to you ever again."
"Yes you will. You love it."
Martha liked the bedroom. It had an ephemeral quality, with the swirling symbols on the tapestries and woodwork, but the colouring was rustic with deep, earthy tones. The sheets were quite nice too.
Which was why she didn't mind sitting with Rose sometimes. The bed was big enough for it. She'd just plunk down on the duvet next to the still-sleeping figure, and she'd enjoy the ambiance. There wasn't much else to do, but wait.
Jack was familiar enough with the ship to make it dematerialize and rematerialize elsewhere on the planet, but they couldn't go back to where they were. They hit a recall button early on that didn't take them back to their originating point, the way Jack thought it should. All it did was pop up a hologram.
Martha had gasped when it started up–a gangly man in a huge coat appeared.
"This is Emergency Program Two. Rose, if you're seeing this–oh why do I even bother? Look–just don't get yourself killed, ok? You not getting killed is more important than me getting killed. You might not think that's the case, but it is. Twelve hundred years–ok, so I fudge my real age a lot, it makes me feel younger–is a long time to go on doing this. And if it comes to my imminent expiration, then fine, OK. But if I tried to send you home again, it's because things have really--REALLY gone to pot. If you're going to assault my ship again to do something stupid–just…don't get yourself killed, ok? And, um… see you in a little bit."
The hologram clicked off.
A second later, the central column started moving up and down, the way it had the few times the ship had traveled with her in it, but it slowed like a carousel coming to a stop, and didn't do anything.
Jack swore. "Shit. It doesn't have an origin point because my presence messed with the TARDIS' central identifier matrix."
"Sat Nav didn't know where we were going, when we got here, so it doesn't know where we've come from, to send us back. We're really freakin' stuck." He sighed. "And I understand one out of every hundred systems on this ship. It's built for people who think fourth dimensionally."
Wiping his hands on a rag, Jack nodded. "Time Lords."
And that had been that. Moving the ship had stopped the pounding at the door, and that was really the only bit of relief they'd gotten in all of this time. They'd spent three days waiting for something to happen with Rose. Then they'd spent half a day assuming nothing would, and they spent the next day after that wondering just what the hell to do, if the only person who understood how to make the ship fly through time and space remained as she was.
Jack had spent the last four hours trying to repair his damaged wristwatch thingy that he swore could travel through time and space. And here she sat, on this comfortable bed, staring up at the swirling symbols on the tapestries, flipping through the books the ship would translate for her, and ones that it wouldn't. She assumed the strange fractal language was the language of the Time Lords. It made sense–why would the ship translate something the captain could read?
There were worse places to wait.
That being said… she hated waiting.
Pete nodded, dismissing the psychics. Turning to each of the Torchwood staff members who had been put on the case of the unconscious Doctor, made them go away as well.
When the room was empty, and it was down to just Mickey, Jackie and himself, Pete began. "Ok. We need to do whatever it is we're doing with him. Mickey, any clue how we get him back together?"
The younger man shrugged. "It was just an idea. I don't know how to make it work."
Next, Pete Tyler looked to his wife, who was sitting on the infirmary bed next to the Doctor, stroking his hair. She was muttering something about him being a stupid, stupid alien. She really did try to hate him, but sometimes…she was just such a bad liar. "Jacks… I don't want you to get upset."
Her hand dropped from the Doctor's messy, still damp head, like she just realized what she was doing and was somehow ashamed. "Too late for that. What's wrong now?"
Trying to be casual enough to not upset her further, while still being serious about the problem at hand, he slid his hands into his pockets. "Global temperature has been rising one degree every day for the six days. There's also activity on the floor we came through worlds on."
"The ghost room?" Mickey asked.
Pete nodded. "The energy readings are different than what we found before, but they're about five times more intense."
Mickey crossed his arms. "So we could fix him. Maybe."
Jackie was brushing wet hair off the Doctor's forehead again. It was a little creepy and disturbing to watch. "What about Rose?" Pete knew she was thinking as a mother and didn't care about this universe at just this moment. She just wanted her daughter safe.
Pete still had to live here, though. And he had an unborn daughter to keep safe.
When Jackie's hand wrapped around the limp, bony one on the bed, Pete looked away. "I don't think we can get him back. The teleporters don't work. I think it's the energy signature. It's changed. It could be going anywhere now."
"So we could have just about anything coming out of that breach at any minute. More Cybermen… Daleks…" Mickey trailed off with a frustrated sigh.
Pete nodded. "Or worse. We've already had alien debris washing through this afternoon. It's going to happen soon, whatever it is."