Chapter 1-In the world of dreams alone
In the world of dreams alone,
That secret escape that is my own,
Can I return back into your arms,
My only safe place, away from harm,
Rose is dreaming again. Every night she found herself in a beautiful world of her mind's imagining. It was always the same place, but it never failed to amaze her. As far as the eye could see; fields of perfect, shimmering grass, the scent of apples and strawberries and it seemed even time itself wafting up as the wind caught the bright green blades. But then she thought it impossible to give a scent to time. Did time even have a smell? He would know. But he's not here. He's never here. She sees the familiar tree in the distance; a beautiful tree, similar to an oak, but so much bigger, its canopy further reaching than any plant on Earth could ever hold up.
She walked slowly towards it, her hair drifting on the soft breeze, feeling more like she was floating than actually walking, as if the tree was gently pulling her closer. She saw for the first time children playing around the tree, wearing strange masks. They chased each other, laughing happily around the great roots that came erupting out of the ground around the tree. As she got nearer, Rose's eyes where drawn to a child who was sitting amongst the roots, a bizarre and unnerving purple mask with strange spikes protruding from its edge hiding their face, their entire body bound in dazzlingly white bandages. Rose walked towards the child, nervous.
'Ain'tcha gonna go play with the other kids?' she asked uncertainly.
The child didn't react, the great yellow eyes of the mask lifeless and staring, its green irises small and with the look of insanity residing within them. The only sign of life that she could see was the bandaged chest rising and falling as it breathed, and even that seemed to be slowed to almost nothing at all. She knelt down in front of the child, trying to make it look at her. They seemed to have difficulty holding up their head, letting it loll onto their chest.
'Hello?' she said, waving her hand in front of the mask. Nothing.
Rose jumped up as one of the other children spoke beside her, her heart missing a beat.
'You almost gave me a heart attack!' she said, hand over her chest. 'Do you make a habit of creepin' up on people?'
'You're the golden lady, aren't you?' asked the child with an aboriginal looking mask and the voice of a little boy. He stared up at her, black slits in the mask serving as eyes. 'You're the wolf who saved him.' The boy's head tilted, 'You don't look like a wolf to me. But it's there in your eyes. The darkness.'
'What are ya talking about? And what's with the masks?' Rose said, unnerved by the void of emotion on the face before her.
'You were trying to talk to the Majora.' Said the boy, his head tilting the other way before turning to look at the child on the grass. 'He's no fun. He used to play with us, but then the wood boy came and took all the fun for himself to have. It's a shame that the wood boy couldn't come. He seems fun.'
Rose shook her head, furrowing her brow at the child's change of subject.
'What's your name?' she asked.
'I'm Odolwa.' He said, raising his fingers to the black hole where his mouth should be and whistling loudly. The children that had been chasing butterflies came to an abrupt stop, their arms dropping to their sides and turning in unison. Then they were running, all three children rushing to join Odolwa and Rose in front of the unmoving Majora.
'Is she the golden wolf?' as one child, her mask a yellow base with twin red bands coming from behind the mounted head of what looked like a goat with four ears.
'Yes, is she the angel of the wise man's dreams?' asked a boy hiding behind the face of an insect with three huge green eyes above a pair of vicious mandibles.
'Okay, who are you and why are you all wearing masks?' Rose demanded, her patience wearing thin.
'I'm Gyorg.' Answered a purple faced girl, tilting her head on the side.
'Goht.' Replied the goat headed girl, waving.
'I'm Twinmold.' Said the insect boy.
'And why are you wearing those freaky masks?' Rose asked.
'Because it's more fun that way.' Odolwa said, as if it was obvious. 'And also, it makes it easier if people can't see your emotions. He taught us that. But his mask is less obvious than ours. Once it was a black jacket, but now it's just his smile. But you should know that, wolffy lady.'
'His eyes show you.' Goht said, plonking herself down on the grass and fanning her skirt over her knees. 'When I looked into his eyes, I saw you. And when I look into your eyes I see him. You think about each other all the time. And he said that soon he will come back. And you've got to be ready.'
'Yeah.' Said Gyorg, sitting next to her friend on the grass. 'He said that soon he will ask you to do something and you have got to do it. Otherwise he'll be left alone. He'll be back. He always visits here. But not in his whirring machine. Even she can't come here.'
'You mean the Doctor, don't you?' Rose asked, copying the children in sitting in the dappled shade of the great tree. 'What do you mean, 'She can't come here?' the TARDIS can go anywhere.'
'Not here.' Twinmold said, making the circle complete by sitting with his back to the Majora. 'This is the place that can only be reached in the dreams of soul mates. And there are no true soul mates in such dire need of it as you. He's working so hard… he hasn't the time to come at the moment. But next time you come, he will be here. Soon the man who hides in his smiles will come with his instructions. And you've got to be ready, wolffy lady.'
'My name's Rose,' Rose insisted, trying to make herself stay calm at the children's riddles. 'And I'm not a wolf, so would you-'
'Rose?' Gyorg asked, tilting her head. She jumped up, reaching behind her back as if to reach an annoying itch there. With a flourish she held out her hand, holding out a beautiful rose unlike any Rose had ever seen. Its petals seemed to change colour, depending on the way it caught the light. From some positions it looked red, in others pink, or blue or the purple in between. The masked girl gave Rose the flower, holding it out in front of her and sitting back down. 'To give you luck.'
'What's wrong with that kid over there?' Rose asked, looking up from the flower for the first time, pointing at the bandaged child.
'Like I said.' Odolwa responded, crossing his arms. 'He's the Majora. But then the boy from the forest came and took all the fun out of the Majora. The boy in green gave away the mask to the wood boy who played in the forest. The wood boy got lost one day and made a flute to help him make new friends and help them through the woods. But the green boy gave away the mask and the wood boy couldn't control it. He took all the Majora's fun for himself and now he's gone bad. All that's left over there is the Majora's body. He kept getting cold, so we wrapped him up. Now he never plays and the wood boy has all the fun.'
'The wood boy isn't very nice now.' Goht giggled. 'He wants to hurt everyone. He made friends with the moon and the moon is gonna help him hurt people. But that doesn't matter. The green boy who changes his face is gonna stop him and make the Majora fun again.' All the children laughed, making Rose scared. 'The Green boy is gonna come here and we're going to play with him.'
The blue sky started to bleach out, the light around them becoming blindingly bright.
'It's time for you to go, wolffy lady.' Gyorg said, standing up with the others and straightening out her dress.
'Can't wait to see you again.' Twinmold said.
'He'll be here when you come next time.' Goht agreed.
'And maybe then you can meet the Majora and the green boy.' Odolwa nodded as the dream world faded and they went back to chase butterflies. He waved over his shoulder. 'Bye Rose!'
'Rose.' Came Jackie Tyler's voice, breaking through Rose's dreams and watching her daughter squint as she opened the curtains of her huge room in the Tyler mansion.
'Get up, it's a glorious day.' Jackie said, picking up the dirty clothes off Rose's floor and putting them on top of the pile growing from the laundry basket in the corner.
'And don't you bother going back to sleep. I'm doing a fry up downstairs and you're not spending another day in here.'
Rose rubbed her eyes, trying to wake herself up. She raked a hand through her hair, realising that it was in serious need of a good comb through. She licked her lips, stifling a yawn.
'Weird dream.' She croaked, trying to shake the thoughts of masked children out of her head as she gave up and let her head fall back on the pillow. But as she collapsed, something bright caught her eye. She opened her tired eyes to find on the pillow next to her an exact replica of the rose from her dream. Suddenly wide awake, she sat up, holding the flower in front of her. She turned it, the petals changing colour in the morning light.
'Oh, my God!' she gasped, holding the flower to her chest. 'It was real.'
'Are you out of that bed yet?' Jackie yelled up the stairs.
'Coming, mum.' Rose shouted back, her heart beating madly.
She was going to see the Doctor again.
Every night Rose hoped to go back to the dream world, but for days she was disappointed, her sleep filled only with the darkness of blind sleep, every morning she hiding her disappointment behind a smile that never quite met her eyes. The shock of discovering her mother's pregnancy had helped her get over the sadness brought by her Doctorless dreams, and the shopping spree that followed was welcomed, Pete being left to carry the copious amount of bags carrying a combination of baby and maternity clothes, as well as clothes, make up and jewellery for Rose.
Jackie saw through her façade, knowing that she needed something to put her mind off losing the Doctor, and sometimes a day's shopping with an almost unlimited supply of cash and credit cards can do wonders for a girl with a broken heart.
But in the car going home, she sensed her daughter's unhappiness retuning to her.
'Rose, what's the matter sweetheart?'
Rose looked up, surprised at being broken out of her musings. 'Hmm?'
'I know you're still missing the Doctor, and I understand that, but there's something else, ain't there?' Rose looked away, but Jackie caught her under the chin, turning her head to make her look at her in the eyes. 'What is it? You've always been able to talk about anything with me. I don't want this to be another Jimmy Stone.'
'Mum, it's nothing.' Rose said, but even she didn't believe the sincerity of it.
'It is.' Jackie insisted, her eyes boring into her daughter's.
Rose sighed, sinking back into the seat and running a hand through her hair, mirroring of the Doctor's nervous mannerism. 'I had a dream, the other night.' She conceded.
'What was it about?' Jackie asked, mimicking her daughter in sitting back in the leather seats of the car.
'It was like ones I've had before; the same place. Only this time there were all these kids, playing around a tree. They all wore these creepy masks, and they talked about the Doctor. They said that he went there often, and that it was a place that could only be reached in the dreams soul mates, and that the Doctor and I were the only ones that really needed it. They said that he would come soon and tell me what I had to do.'
'Maybe…' Jackie said carefully, 'Have you thought that maybe this is just a dream?'
'Yeah, but there was something else. One of the kids gave me this rose, right? And when I woke up,' she reached into her pocket, getting out the flower to show to her mother, 'there it was, right next to me on the pillow.'
Jackie's eyes lit up at the sight of the rose, her mouth falling open at the spectrum of colours that seemed to radiate from it. 'How come it wasn't crushed in your pocket?'
'I don't know,' Rose admitted, 'It doesn't even seem to need watering or anything, it just… lives.'
'So… have you seen the Doctor? In your dreams?'
'No,' Rose said, putting the flower back in her pocket, 'Not yet. But they said he would come. And I believe them.'
'Why?' Jackie asked, her eyes still watching where Rose had hidden the rose.
'Because I've got nothing else to hope for.' Rose replied, swallowing the lump that had suddenly appeared in her throat.
Rose continued living her life in a world that was not her own, the comforting sound of the TARDIS replaced by the steady thrum of the zeppelins that filled an unfamiliar sky. She had been given a job in the newly reinstated Torchwood tower, quickly moving up through the ranks. She made a few friends, but she knew that they were uncertain of her. She could see that they wanted to ask questions about her sudden appearance, but she also noticed that most of them had been called into Pete's office quite soon after meeting them, or Mickey would pull them away to one side for a little 'chat'.
She pretended to be ignorant of their mollycoddling, secretly glad of the lack of uncomfortable questions. Here thoughts centred around the Doctor enough as it was without having to explain about him or invent stories without him.
Life inside the Tyler mansion had changed quite a bit since she had arrived too. There was always slight confusion when ever the name 'Rose' was shouted, both the young woman and the small Yorkshire terrier reacting to the call, but that was the smallest of differences. With a new Jackie and a new Rose coming into the house, there had been another new face; Mickey had moved in straight away, anxious to look after his friends.
Rose often thought about how strange a curve her relationship with her ex had under gone. In the parallel universe, she had loved him, though she had never actually put it into words, but now… in this universe… she still loved him, even more, as it happened. He was there for her when ever she needed him; a shoulder to cry on. But now it was more of a brother-sister love. He would tease her out of her depression, always ready to go on a tissue and chocolate run when she ran out, and even managed to make her laugh where everyone else had failed. With him in the house, she felt safe and comfortable, because he had seen at least a little of what she had. He knew what a rush it was to travel through the stars; to open the doors and step out onto another planet. He was the only one who could really understand what it was to lose that.
He had tested to see where they were in the relationship, knocking in the door every so often, but she told him softly to go back to bed. She knew that it was sort of his way of trying to make her feel better, but she couldn't go down that road again. Not after the Doctor. She couldn't imagine herself with anyone after him. It wasn't like… they had never been anything other than friends; best friends. But that didn't stop her looking at him. Didn't stop her from falling in love with him.
It had been uncomfortable when Cassandra had confronted her about it; knowing the Doctor would remember it, just as she had. But he had never mentioned the time spent on New Earth, nor what was said during body swapping.
He had never mentioned the kiss.
She remembered the feeling of his hair as fingers that were not her own ran through them, and the softness of his lips under her own. Cassandra had stolen that moment, sullied it. Frightened him maybe. They had never talked about it, instead carrying on to go on a shopping spree in New New York, continuing their merry waltz around the universe, over looking discomfort and difficulties. But she cherished that kiss, sullied as it was. Because it was all she had; the closest to the real thing she had with the Doctor. Seeing her mum pregnant woke her up to the fact that maybe she would never have the same thing. That there was nothing more in life for her now.
It was so hard getting back to a normal life after living with the Doctor for so long. She could hardly sleep now that she didn't have the relaxing hum of the TARDIS to keep her company. It was hard to get used to being woken up gently by her mother shaking her or her voice, instead of the rigorous tremors that shook through her bed as the Doctor bounced on it every morning like a kid at Christmas.
But most of all it was hard getting used to not seeing the Doctor. Not walking in to the kitchen in the morning to find him smiling sheepishly with a broom in hand, trying to dislodge a pancake from the ceiling, or trying to get rid of the plumes of smoke from his failed attempts at a fried breakfast. It was hard walking past the bathroom and hearing her father singing in the shower instead of the Doctor, or hearing him yelp quietly as he cut himself with the razor. When she walked out of the door, it was never to see triple sunned skies or frozen waves or dark forests or cities of glass. When she looked into the night sky, it was always the same stars; the same moon staring mockingly at her. And it was killing her.
When she had met the Doctor, he had been a broken man, the scars of the war visible only to her. She had taken him and made him happy again. But then she had done something, the memory still unwilling to reveal itself to her, and he had shattered, and when the pieces joined again, they formed a new man. She had been the one to pull away then, and it had been him to take her and make her smile again. It had been his turn to fit her back together and make her trust him again. To show her that nothing had changed, that he was the same man; the same hearts; the same memories. The same ability to make something deep inside her curl up when ever he took her hand. The same ability to make her stop breathing with only a look or a smile.
And without him she was broken. Without him there was no one to put her truly back together again.
And that was why she believed the masked children from her dreams.
Because if she didn't, then she was nothing.
Without the hope of seeing the Doctor, she might as well die.
And the scariest thing was, it was starting to seem like death was an option she was willing to take.