Yeah, that helped. I finish one story, I start three more. -bangs head on desk- I'll be the death of me one day.

Disclaimer: Of course I own Doctor Who. And those aren't the droids you're looking for.

SIAPNIAN: Yes, I have a thing for dark!fic.

-BAD WOLF-

Black roses signify death, hatred, or farewell, but can also mean slavish devotion, the overcoming of a long, hard journey, rejuvenation, or rebirth.

-BAD WOLF-

Something fell to Earth.

This in itself wasn't unusual. Things fell to Earth practically every day. Most of them were bits of rock and such. The occasional spaceship also made an appearance.

What was unusual about the object was that it was... well, it was an inherently unusual object.

It wasn't much to look at; a twisted lump of metal from the hull of a Time Agent's spaceship, which had been destroyed from a fatal computer malfunction initiated in a battle. The lump was so mangled and so hull-like that no-one could have recognised that it might have been the sort of thing that one should not, under any circumstances, touch.

The spaceship, heavily damaged from the battle, had been halfway into the Vortex when it malfunctioned, and halfway out when it finally blew up above Earth— the Time Agent knew about Torchwood, knew that that was the safest place for him to stay and the most likely place to be able to repair his ship without getting killed or worse. The fragments of the spaceship fell to the planet. Most of them were burned in descent, but that one remnant managed to survive... and landed rather impressively in an alleyway in London, where it was picked up three hours later by Torchwood One.

-BAD WOLF-

"What have you got?" asked Rose Tyler as she came into view, leaning on a random desk when she stopped and looked up at Jake.

"That spaceship which blew up earlier today?" some random guy whose name Rose could never remember prompted. Rose nodded her acknowledgement. "This is all that's left."

"Found it in an alley, can't figure out what it is," chimed in Jake. "So we thought you might."

Rose touched it hesitantly, and energy burned into her. She yelped and removed her hand, tingling as if she had been mildly electrocuted.

"Didn't do that before," said Some Random Guy.

Rose tapped it again, but it behaved itself, so she picked it up. It was interesting only because of how convoluted it was, both from its descent through the atmosphere and the other things it had gone through before Torchwood found it. It might have been vaguely curved at some point in its life, but it was so twisted and damaged that it was difficult to tell. It was rough, pocked, scorched in most places. In those places where it wasn't burnt, it was a dull, metallic grey.

Rose frowned at it, failed to figure out what it was by looking, and shrugged. "What the hell," she muttered, and licked it.

She grimaced abruptly and scraped the sleeve of her coat across her tongue to erase the flavour. "Got fried, whatever it is," she concluded, a disgusted look still imprinted on her face.

"Did you just lick it?" demanded Some Random Guy.

She glanced up. "Yeah. So?"

"Why—"

"Can we get back to the point?" snapped Jake irritably.

Rose straightened up, putting the lump of metal back where it had been. "It's safe," she said. "Probably."

And she walked away, blissfully unaware of the reaction which started thrumming through her veins.

-BAD WOLF-

Things only halfway out of the Vortex aren't supposed to be touched for a reason. Such things aren't quite in the real world and they don't quite follow the laws of physics; time and space bend and hover and tangle around it like a naturally clumsy individual suddenly discovering an invisible chair in their way. Whatever touches those things only adds to Time and Space's confusion and makes them mess up even more, and then bad things happen.

Anything that time-travels is steeped in background radiation, which is perfectly safe under normal circumstances. As long as you aren't directly exposed to the Vortex for more than a split second, it's safe and can't hurt you beyond a headache and some nausea, as temporal radiation is very similar to normal radiation.

Objects which are halfway in and halfway out of the Vortex, however, are the temporal equivalent of plutonium. The radiation can't kill you by itself, but it does mess things up quite a bit; random tumours which had previously been benign and dying will suddenly grow, viruses are initiated and take over with remarkable speed or are completely destroyed, ageing occurs either far more quickly or more slowly than it should...

Its effect on Rose was unique, but not unsurprising, considering the circumstances.

Years before, she had touched something else she shouldn't have, and the something else took the opportunity to steal her existing background radiation from her so it could heal itself. It also accidentally got some of her genetic code and, fuelled by the radiation, the code rapidly took over.

But genetic transfers— especially those under circumstances such as the ones detailed— are rarely one-way and difficult, if not impossible, to reverse...

-BAD WOLF-

It was so cold, but it was good to be cold. It was dark and cold and pure Inside, where she sat curled into herself: a willing captive of her perfect prison. Her single blue eye swivelled around as numbers swarmed across her vision, her one contact with the Outside telling her that there was something Different nearby.

She turned the rest of her metal exoskeleton, glided easily across the floor, the picture of malevolent perfection. The creature Outside stood tall and just stared sadly at her. She was confused that it didn't run or gibber in fear, as the others had, and this gave her pause as her mechanical eye zoomed in on his face.

"Rose," he murmured. She flinched at the reminder of what she had been Before: a corrupt, impure creature, divided against herself, wanting what she could never have and dreaming that someday the man who stood before her now would return. She remembered that she had loved him Then, when she was still impure enough to love; now she saw that he was Different and he could destroy her with a touch, and she had to destroy him first.

"Doctor," she acknowledged. Her voice was harsh and mechanical, still with that hint of femininity which betrayed her original heritage. Her fellows had been kind to allow her into their number; a creature like them who looked Different enough to destroy. But they hadn't. And she would be forever grateful.

"Rose," he repeated more urgently, stepping forwards, and she backed away.

"Ex-ter-min—"

"Rose!"

Rose jerked awake, rolled over sharply and stood up in one fluid motion, panting with fear.

"You all right?" inquired her mother.

Rose opened her mouth, closed it, opened it again. "Yeah," she said, but her heart still pounded sharply in her chest with terror: terror from one side because of what she had dreamt; terror on the other because she had left it behind, and now she remembered she was human and therefore Different.

She wanted to crawl back into her shell.

But there was no shell.

She was Outside, impure, and unsafe.

And she was terrified.

-BAD WOLF-

By the way, I've got a Livejournal now. No idea what to do with it, but I've got one. thelosttimelady (dot) livejournal (dot) com, if anyone's interested.

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