Okay! So thing the first: Thank you-really, thank you so, so much-for the interest you've been expressing in my original work. It means a hell of a lot to me-particularly since… well… without fanfiction in general, and this story in particular, I would not be half as decent a writer (or half as sure of myself stylistically) as I am right now. So… knowing that some of the people who helped me get to the point where I could even handle an original project of any magnitude are interested in following me to that project? Pretty cool. Pretty cool indeed.
As far as the thing itself: To avoid the problem that keeps happening with Alternatively-that is, "oh crap I have to update and I haven't got one yet"-I'm only going to begin posting The Walking Gods when I have its first arc completed and am working on its second. (It will eventually be one cohesive novel formed up of three or four smaller-probably novella-sized-chunks all building off of each other. There is a main storyline that overarches and goes through all of those chunks, but it's still going to be a tad segmented. ...Think Lord of the Rings, but way less awesome.) I have the site that it'll be on already made; it's just to make the thing itself at this point. ;) Although I am going to be using it for my NaNo this year, so hopefully some of the drivel I type out in a caffeine-drunken haze of desperation will actually be salvageable come December. XD
SIAPNIAN: My stomach hurts and I don't know why. -sulk-
...You trust her, don't you. I'd forgotten.
I shouldn't have been so presumptive. She was so much… lighter, then. So prone to shortsightedness, and indelicacy, but for the same reasons so open to friendship…
I would be envious of that if I did not know our fate already.
A crack fell into the world.
It really should have done something a little more impressive than make the TARDIS beep twice, making sure to use her most exhausted-sounding alert tones.
Still, those tired, almost bored blips of noise managed to snatch the Doctor's attention away from staring down Rose's… child… goddess… thing. Whatever.
He frowned at the console, flicking a couple of switches that meant absolutely nothing whilst mentally guiding the old ship to the concept of showing him what the hell was going on around here.
"Ooh," he said. "This might be something, though."
Rose's warmth on his back, just a second before she casually perched up on her tiptoes to lean her chin over his shoulder, and he felt his hearts race for just a second. Were they not fighting anymore? No… that… that probably wasn't it, he at least knew Rose well enough to know when she considered a conversation resolved, and that particular… conversation… apparently hadn't been to her, so… still fighting. Probably.
It was nice to feel her there, though. Feeling a little daring, he took the opportunity to brush his fingertips against hers, smiling despite himself when she didn't pull them away.
(Across the console room, the Bad Wolf rolled her eyes and made an exaggerated gagging sound. The Doctor primly decided not to pay attention.)
"Doctor," Rose said, in that almost-purr low in her throat that meant that he was being annoying but that it was still safely in a funny way. She had a lot of tones of voice to convey that sort of thing. Of course, he also had a lot of ways to be annoying. "Would you mind telling the rest of the class what might be 'something' or are you going to make us guess?"
"I know," piped up the Wolf, somehow managing to sound both profoundly irritated and incredibly pleased with herself.
Rose rolled her eyes. The Doctor couldn't quite see it, what with her face being somewhere next to his ear and all, but he could feel the muscles in her cheek move, and his hearts did something again. "Can I just worry about dealin' with one smartass at a time, please?"
The Wolf obediently fell silent, although the vicious look she threw the pair made it fairly clear that she didn't enjoy it even a little bit.
"Truth be told," the Doctor said slowly, "I can't tell you what it is just yet. Just that it's there."
"What is?" Rose asked. Frowning suddenly, she pulled away from him, leaning to the side to turn the screen closer to her. "Is that Norway?"
"Dårlig Ulv-Stranden," the Doctor said gravely. "The weak point in the universe." He wrinkled his nose. "The badly-translated weak point, no less. Always wondered why no one thought that was odd." Wrinkling his nose a little and pointedly not looking at the Wolf, he sniffed. "Guess I finally found out."
"It was two puns," snapped a small voice from behind. "How was I supposed to resist two puns?"
"Doctor." The Time Lord glanced towards his companion, frowning in concern when he noticed how pale her skin was, how tightly she held the muscles around her eyes, stress channelled neatly into almost imperceptible reactions. "Do you know what's coming through that place." Rose's voice was carefully monotone. The Wolf took her hand.
The Doctor hadn't seen the girl move.
"It's him," she said, voice quiet and bright.
"It's a good thing," the Bad Wolf said, frowning. The expression was innocent, but the Doctor couldn't help but tense all the same. With beings that powerful it didn't always matter what the intention was, after all…
Rose did not share his trepidation. "I'm allowed to be scared, all right?" she snapped. "I mean, I got used to not seein' him, I-and the last time I did he said that doing it again would destroy everybody, except I've already got a headstart on that haven't I-" A hysterical laugh began to creep into her voice.
"Rose," the Doctor said, softly, just to try and get her out of the spiral she was forming.
She shut her eyes. "It's been," she said, and her voice was at least mostly steady, "a really bad day, Wolfie. All right?"
The entity bit her lip for a second, but finally nodded. "All right," she agreed. "But it is going to be fine."
"Fine," Rose echoed, staring up into the faint teal glow of the column. "Yeah. Fine."
"So?" Donna almost chirped, gripping the console and smiling knowingly. "Where's she headed?"
"The middle of nowhere," the Doctor replied, twisting a… twisty thing and looking a little bug-eyed. "Actually the middle of nowhere, there's nothing here-I mean, there was, there was a-but it's not here anymore, hasn't been for years…"
"Can you finish a sentence, please?" Donna's voice was sharp, abrasive, but not unkind. The Doctor looked appropriately chastised.
"There was a star here," he said. "But it burnt up."
"What d'you mean, it burnt up? Stars burn. Do you mean it went…" She dared to let go of the console to make an expansive gesture with her hands, spreading them apart quickly. "Foom?"
The Doctor, agitated, stood away from the console. "I mean," he said cagily, "that there was a star here, and s-and I… harvested its potential energy, and now it's not here anymore."
"You killed a sun." Donna's expression held a world of awed, irritated incredulity.
"Well, no one else was using it!"
She raised her hands, her startlingly red hair flaring around her face as she shook her head. "Whatever. Why'd the signal be coming from here, then?"
The Time Lord was silent.
"Doctor." She caught his arm, made him meet her eyes. "What happened here?"
It was a long time before he answered. When he did, his voice was half croak. "Rose. Last time I saw her, it was…" He waved a hand towards the viewscreen. "This was the last crack wide enough to look through."
Dawning realisation. "But only to look."
He nodded. "Yeah."
"So… if something's coming through here…"
"It might not mean anything."
"But it also might." Donna's eyes began to glitter, just a little bit.
The corner of his mouth twitched. It wasn't exactly a smile, but it was something.
"We need to help him," the Bad Wolf urged, tugging gently at Rose's arm. "We have to be there or it won't work."
The Doctor frowned. "What do you mean by 'won't work', exactly?"
Funny. He'd been on the receiving end of a lot of Looks that had made him feel small and stupid, but none of them had come from something in the body of an eight-year-old. Not since Susan was little, anyway, and that was… that was a long time ago.
"Right," Rose said softly. "Haven't got a choice, then."
And then he was close beside her, although he didn't remember consciously choosing to move, not quite but almost touching her, and words were just sort of happening out of his mouth everywhere.
"There's always a choice," he heard himself say. "All right, Rose? Always another way." Remembered, with a flush of embarrassment, exactly what the situation was and what any alternatives would involve. "If you want, I mean, I-"
Her lips twitched, although it couldn't be said what expression she was trying to convey. He fell silent.
"Not always," she corrected softly. She breathed in, slowly, then out. "All right," she said finally, with conviction. "Let's go, yeah? Before he breaks something all on his own?"
"He isn't that bad," the Wolf objected with what was meant to be a scowl but came out as more of a pout.
Rose scoffed, absently ruffling the girl's hair. "Sweetheart, we went out for lunch and he accidentally overthrew a government. He is that bad and you know it."
The Doctor started inputting instructions into the console, trying not to listen. There was fondness in her voice, there-of course there would be fondness, why the hell wouldn't there be fondness, and he'd only met her at all because of her affection for his parallel, and he would never ask her to give that affection up or ignore it for his sake but-but it was okay that it hurt a little, right? After all, there was only one of her and two of him and who knew how that would work out, and he knew that other-him and her had gone through things that he-him and her couldn't possibly match, and…
The TARDIS groaned. Not her usual wheeze, but a sound of real pain, real difficulty, something in the background making an awful crunch as she stuttered into semi-life.
"Hey?" he asked her, putting a hand on the central column. "You all right?"
She lashed against him, an absolutely brutal backlash of sarcasm, and he winced.
"Uhm," he told the two others in the room, now staring at him with faint worry (in Rose's case) and confusion (in the Wolf's). "It's not going to be as easy as all that, I'm afraid."
"Is she hurt?" Rose asked, reaching out a hand to stroke the glowing teal pillar, patting it when the TARDIS purred weakly beneath the caress.
The Bad Wolf chewed her lip, shuffling her right foot behind her left. "The Vortex is damaged," she said softly.
"Yes, that's what happens when you break universes," the Doctor couldn't help but mutter.
She shot him a look. "I can get her there, though," the Wolf stated through gritted teeth, as if daring him to contradict her.
The Doctor dropped his gaze, fiddling with a loose bit of wire until the ship zapped him warningly.
Taking that as assent, the girl nodded quietly. "Stay there," she instructed the others, and with a slow and measured step, she circled to the other side of the console.
She closed her eyes, brushed her fingers over one of the panels and it surged open; there was a Light, and a Sound, and the world snatched itself away like a tablecloth under glassware, leaving everything precarious for just a second, wobbling, so close to breaking…
And then it was done. The TARDIS shut herself again with a low, tired whine. The blinding light faded, the sound hushed.
The Wolf wavered, pale. Her eyes still glowed, but it was muted now, the colour washed out, leaving only the faintest yellow tinge instead of blazing gold.
"Oh," she said, and her voice was terrifyingly human. "Oh."
Rose took a cautious step towards her, hands slightly up as if she was fighting the urge to just run over and hug the child. "Wolf?" she asked, voice shaking.
The Wolf looked up, stiffening, her distracted gaze focussing for just one moment on Rose's eyes.
"Don't touch me," she said, and then all the tension ran out from her. Her legs buckled, her spine sagging, and her body crumpled to the grating with a clang.
Short chapter? Yes. Did that feel like a good place to end it regardless? Yes.
Love you guys. A lot. Really. :3333 See you next time!