MERRY CHRISTMAS: VOYAGE OF THE DAMNED
If you haven't read my previous fic, titled Alternate Universe, this story is not going to make sense – so go and read that first!
This episode was really difficult. There was so much that had to happen and so little time. This took me months of drafting and rewriting...the hardest episode yet to get where I wanted to end up and I had to cull a lot of scenes in the end to make it all fit. Hope you think it's worth it!
Rose's face stayed worried. "Doctor. It's time you told me-"
The TARDIS rocketed sideways and both Rose and the Doctor were thrown across the console room as everything shook. All of the lights flashed off then on, and the dull, usually pleasant humming in Rose's mind expressed an emotionally-driven, somewhat angry question.
Rose scrambled to her feet, catching a side rail and hanging on as the TARDIS bucked and a tearing, grating sound ripped through the console room.
The source of the sound was immediately obvious. The bow of a ship had crashed through the top of the TARDIS.
"Don't tell me, you forgot to raise shields again!" Jack pointed, his voice edged with an almost whining annoyance, as though a ship crashing into a TARDIS was a minor thing.
A lifebelt fell from the ship, labelled 'TITANIC', and landed at the Doctor's feet.
He picked it up, eyes widening, then looked to the bow, almost squinting.
The Doctor put a hand on Rose's shoulder, guiding himself past her towards a lever on the control panel, initiating the self-repair protocols.
Rose rolled her eyes and turned to the bow, and the fissure it had created in the TARDIS. "Why?" she mouthed to the TARDIS, then looked to the Doctor. Was the TARDIS deliberately crashing into other ships now, to stop the Doctor from absurdly explaining why she was (but apparently, wasn't) a Time Lady? Rose knew who she was, deep down, in her hearts.
The Doctor gave her a sideways look, an eyebrow raised, but continued working, turning a handle vigourously.
Jack called out something about the assembled Lords of Genghis Khan being pushovers. Rose ignored Jack, and walked swiftly to the Doctor's side. Behind her, she heard the TARDIS repairing itself, and the presence in her mind told her to relax.
"Fixed?" Rose asked the Doctor, eyes glancing over the console.
"Ye-up, just about does it," he answered evasively, before scooting off toward the other side of the console.
Rose stared at him in disbelief. He didn't need to be anywhere near the vector tracker. What was he doing? Avoiding her? She waited, forcing patience, and forcing her frustration down.
"So!" the Doctor pipped happily, clapping his hands and glancing at Jack. "Anybody fancy a stroll about the Titanic?" he flashed his 'I'm so clever' smile.
"What about him?" Jack pointed to the Master, still unconscious on the control room floor.
"Ah," the Doctor had obviously forgotten about him. "Move him to the brig. We'll decide what to do with him later."
Rose glanced at Jack, then back to the Doctor. "We have a brig?"
Neither answered her. Jack was looking between the two of them with a somewhat knowing smirk on his face as he lifted the Master over one shoulder and made for the interior of the TARDIS.
"Gotcha. Unconscious Time Lord to the brig, then showers to de-grease," Jack said carefully, then suddenly shrugged, and flashed a grin over his shoulders. "Of course, depends on the party. Tell me, Doctor, is this Titanic the one with the monkeys and-"
"Go," Rose cut him off, laughter bubbling to the surface but not quite making it's way out of her. She pointed to the door leading to the ship's interior. "Shower. Now."
Jack raised his eyebrows and moved. "Yes ma'am," he moved to leave, then turned back quickly, finger raised in warning. "Don't – leave without me," he said, somewhat uncomfortably.
The Doctor leaned against the console. "Wouldn't think of it!" he returned happily.
Jack barked a laugh as he left. "Make me believe you, Doc."
"Oh. Oh – right, of course," the Doctor answered quietly, and shook his head a little bashfully. He then looked up to Rose. "Don't you want to get changed? Going to be a big party out there," he nodded to the doors, a tempting excitement on the edge of his voice.
Rose shrugged, tucking a stray piece of fringe behind her ear. "Oh, I dunno, I'm kinda getting used to this whole military look," she said idly, then nodded to the controls, an amused challenge in her tone. "Vector tracker sorted?"
"What?" he asked quickly, then looked at it, sticking his hands in his pockets. "Oh! Right, yes. Well," he grinned at her. "You know. Had to lock onto all six axes to fully locate the centre of gravity," he fumbled, nodding up to Rose.
"Rubbish," Rose shook her head, part of her wanting to laugh at herself, for knowing so confidently that it was rubbish. "She locks onto the nearest centre of gravity automatically."
"We just crashed into another ship, I wanted to give a hand-!" he shrugged, taking a step toward the ship's interior. "Now! Better go dust off the tuxedo of doom!" he said cheerily.
Rose sighed a little as he took his exit, and he must have heard her, because he turned back, his face blank but his eyes sad.
"Soon, Rose. When there's time," his lips formed a line. "Just trust me."
She stared at him for a moment before nodding. "Okay."
His face lit up as he snapped a grin, and darted off into the TARDIS.
Rose looked up to the time rotors, frowning. The TARDIS hummed in her ears and told her simply, 'patience'.
The Doctor was right. They had crashed into the Titanic. Couldn't pass up this opportunity. There just wasn't time.
Ironic, really, Rose smirked, shaking her head, huffing a laugh and retreating to the wardrobe.
Half an hour later, Rose dashed toward the open TARDIS doors, shoes clopping loudly on the grating floor. She could see The Doctor and Jack's backs. They were peering outside, both wearing tuxedos. They turned toward her as she got closer to the exit.
"You can't sneak up on anyone in those shoes, Tyler," Jack grinned, raising his eyebrows at her and whistling. "Nice work. Reminds me of something, though," he pondered with a cheeky grin.
"Yeah, me too," Rose grinned, doing a spin in the TARDIS' entrance. The long red dress with black shift she'd found in the TARDIS' wardrobe sparkled, invoking a hidden memory; an image of her and Jackie Tyler, sitting on a couch passing a box of tissues between each other while a soppy ballad played in the background. "Can't remember what, but I'm sure it'll come to me," she laughed, dismissing the memory with a shrug.
She moved forward, poking her head outside the doors. "What's it like?"
The TARDIS had parked next to a drinks tray filled with crystal goblets and a stack of shipping crates. She raised an eyebrow. She had expected something slightly more grandiose.
"Not much to be said for the store room. C'mon, party's this way." Jack stepped past the them and headed for a large, polished wooden door.
She smiled up at the Doctor, and was about to move forward, but his blank, distant look stopped her. She hesitated. "You all right?"
The Doctor shook his head slightly, clearing his throat and breaking free of whatever thought had held him. "Yes, well, you'll certainly fit in!" he held his hands out and she took them bobbing a little. "You look beautiful," he added quietly.
Rose smiled and dropped his hands, gripping his elbow instead. "Let's go!"
They caught up with Jack as he pushed the door open, to allow the sounds of string music, quiet laughter and the tinkling of glasses to flow into the small store room they were leaving. Jack strode through as though he owned the place, and Rose and the Doctor followed, arm in arm.
She surveyed the room, trying to look as though she belonged. It was small and richly furnished in wood and lush looking red and gold carpets, with a few couches in the centre of the room. They were in some sort of reception area.
Rose turned her head, inspecting, and noticed a few golden angels, life size, standing at intervals. She tugged on the Doctor's arm, and nodded to one of the angels.
"Doctor, do we know them?" she asked quietly.
The Doctor stared at one of the golden angels for a moment then shook his head. "Never seen them before."
"Then...why are they so familiar?" she tried to shake the feeling.
"Familiar form, angels, to many races," the Doctor reasoned, shrugging evasively. He turned her around to face the doors they'd just entered through; two more angels were behind them, either side of the doors, hands clasped in prayer. "Messengers of a supreme being, helping the faithful, providing guidance and performing miraculous tasks. And of course," he shrugged quickly, "seen in many of the festive seasons including - oh, wait – here we go."
The Doctor's speech was interrupted by a cheery male voice that filled the room over a PA system.
"Attention all passengers," he spoke. "The Titanic is now in orbit above Sol three, also known as Earth."
The Doctor and Rose glanced at one another quickly.
"Guys?" Jack called from the side of the room. He was peering out a large circular window.
"Population: Human," the man over the PA continued as Rose and the Doctor moved to Jack's side.
They looked down, at Earth.
"Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to Christmas."
"Riiight..." the Doctor whispered, peering at the planet below.
"Doctor, I've never heard of this Titanic," Jack muttered. "When do you think we are?"
The Doctor stepped back from the window. "Well. Uh," he put his hands in his pockets, then grinned at Jack and Rose, shrugging. "Christmas, by the sounds?"
Rose rolled her eyes and stepped over to a touch screen in the wall, displaying a yellow star ship with the words "Max Capricorn Cruiseliners" encircling it.
"Maybe this'll tell us," she touched the screen. The logo immediately peeled backward to reveal a bald man with vivid blue eyes and a narrow moustache.
"Max Capricorn Cruiseliners," the man said proudly.
"Who's the cueball?" Jack stepped up next to Rose, watching the screen.
"Shh," Rose hushed, watching.
"The fastest. The furthest. The best," the man boasted. "And I should know because my name is Max," he finished with a smile, and Rose caught the glint of a gold tooth. The grinning face of Max was replaced by the starship logo once more.
"Okay, not so helpful," Rose muttered.
"Let's keep moving," the Doctor ushered them toward another huge wooden door.
"At least we know who Max is," Jack joked.
They left the reception area and entered a grand ballroom. The threesome paused by a light sculpture of a ship to take in the room - there were men dressed in tuxedos and women in fancy gowns. Tables dressed in white cloth with gold napkins. Waiters and waitresses in black and white, serving drinks and platters of food. A casino filled half the room, with rich looking folk gambling at a few of the roulette tables. A band on stage were performing Christmas carols, and a couple of people danced.
"Very festive," the Doctor grinned at Jack and Rose.
A steward passed them. "Merry Christmas," he nodded.
"Merry Christmas," the Doctor answered automatically, happily.
"It's merry now," Jack watched a couple of the stewards' retreating forms closely.
"Oh, stop it," the Doctor rolled his eyes.
"C'mon Doc, this is a party, isn't it?" Jack smirked. "You two go dance, I'll go," he motioned toward the casino, packed with people, searching for an explanation.
"Introduce yourself?" the Doctor supplied with added innuendo.
"Exactly," Jack tossed them a winning smile.
"Be good," Rose called after him.
"Hey. It's me!" he called back, and swaggered off.
Rose shook her head, laughing, and turned to the Doctor. "So-!" she started brightly.
He cut her off with a gentle hand on her arm. "C'mon," he said softly.
He stepped past her, and up to one of the strange golden angels.
"Evening," he addressed it. "Passenger fifty-seven. Terrible memory," shaking his head. "Remind me. Uh, you would be...?"
Right, Rose nodded, remembering who and where they were.
"Information," the robotic angel spoke. "Heavenly Host supplying tourist information."
"Good, good," the Doctor looked at Rose. "Tourist info, at our service."
Rose regarded the gold face, her head slightly to one side. "Where have we come from?" she asked it critically.
"Information," the Host started again. "The Titanic is en route from the planet Sto in the Cassavalian Belt. The purpose of the cruise is to experience primitive cultures."
"So, why Earth?" Rose shrugged. "They aren't that primitive-" she started, unsure why felt compelled to defend the planet.
"Information," the host turned it's black cavity eye sockets to her again. "All designations are chosen by Mr Max Capricorn, president of Max—Max—Max…"
The host's head started twitching, as it repeated the word Max in higher and higher pitch. Rose took a step back.
"Ooh, bit of a glitch," the Doctor reached into his pocket.
Before the sonic was out, a steward raced over.
"Apologies ma'am, sir," he addressed them. "We can handle this," he waved to some additional stewards to assist him, and with the flick of a wrist, switched the host off and they started carrying it away.
The steward turned back to Rose and the Doctor, all smiles. "Software problem, that's all. Leave it with us. Merry Christmas to you both."
And with that, they left, taking the deactivated Host with them.
Rose frowned as she and the Doctor started moving back toward the ballroom floor. "That was strange."
"Well, you heard the man. Just software," the Doctor said in an unconvinced voice, then turned Rose around, looking out over the room. "Titanic, though. It's an odd name for a star ship. Have to wonder if they know why it was so famous in the first place?" he trailed off.
"Hmm," Rose leaned against one of the unused casino tables, and noticed Jack, in the crowd, taking a drink and flashing a smile at a pretty blonde waitress.
The Doctor moved around beside her and sighed, putting an arm around her shoulders. "He doesn't waste any time, does he?"
She laughed, looking up to him. "He never does."
The Doctor regarded her a moment. "And you know that?"
Rose nodded. "Sort of. Dunno really, it's weird," she shook her head, trying to explain. "Like, I know who I am. And I can remember going places with you, Jack, and a load of other people. But I can't remember when it happened. Can't...pinpoint it. It's like a dream, slipping away," she shrugged.
"Oh! The memories," the Doctor seemed to suddenly realise what she was talking about.
"What did you think I meant?"
"Nothing! Nothing," he piped up quickly. "What else do you remember?"
Rose smirked, trying not to laugh, but continued. "Little things. Like that tree," she pointed to a massive Christmas tree at the back of the room. "It's...just a tree, right?"
"Right..." the Doctor agreed unsurely.
"But when I see it, I think 'danger!'" she tried not to laugh again. "I dunno why."
"Oh, I expect there's a good reason," the Doctor sighed.
"What, that we were attacked by a Christmas tree?" she laughed at the idea.
The Doctor shrugged. "Perhaps once or twice," he smiled secretively.
She laughed, looking around the room again, then pointing to one of the Hosts by the wall. "And those Hosts. They seem benevolent enough, right?"
"Minus a few software glitches, right."
"Yet when I look at them, all I can think is..." she paused, her mind flashing images, like fragments of a dream.
"...it's more like a big ball of wibbly-wobbly…timey-wimey…stuff" the Doctor stares at a camera.
A dramatic, life-sized statue of an angel stands in a courtyard, both hands over its eyes.
"I don't want to be stuck in 1969!" I insist.
"We can't stop it. Can't control it," his breath flutters over my neck and ear warmly. I close my eyes.
"Don't blink. Don't even blink," the Doctor raises his voice and points to the camera.
Her smile fell as she turned back to the Doctor. "Don't blink...?"
His smile was gone, too. He looked around the room, as though for answers, then faced Rose again. "I'm sorry, Rose. I can't explain, not now."
"But if you knew what it was like, how frustrating it is-" she insisted quickly.
"I do know what it's like," he cut her off. "Don't you remember that?" he asked quietly, stealing another glance at the room full of cruise guests and staff.
Rose pursed her lips and strained her mind a moment. "No," she answered decidedly. "Nothing."
The Doctor put a hand on Rose's cheek. "But I told you to never forget that," he looked sad.
"Forget what?" Rose was growing weary of not knowing.
"You wanna apologise to the lady right now!"
The Doctor looked up at the angry call from across the room, and Rose realised she still wasn't going to get any answers out of him, turning to face the next distraction.
It was Jack. Rose could see his glaring face over the top of the casino tables, challenging a rich looking man in a tailcoat, who also looked furious. She saw the other man say something but couldn't discern what exactly. The Doctor was already hurrying over to them; Rose skipped into step beside him.
By the time they'd reached Jack's table, only a matter of seconds, the other man was absolutely livid, pointing at the blonde waitress Jack had been introducing himself to earlier, who was picking up remnants of broken glass and stacking it on a tray.
Rose crouched down to the waitress, who looked mortified.
"You all right?"
"-Staffed by idiots!" tailcoat fumed.
The waitress nodded slightly. "Yes, thank you miss," she continued cleaning up.
"You ran into her, she was just doing her job-" Jack insisted firmly.
"Here, let me help," Rose collected a few of the glass fragments.
"Thank you, miss, I can manage," the waitress said automatically, a hint of frustration in her voice.
"No wonder Max Capricorn is going down the drain!" the man sniffed, giving his coat a final dust before storming off.
"Don't you walk away from me—!" Jack thundered, taking a step after the retreating tailcoat.
"Jack! Jack," the Doctor caught him before he could start a brawl. "Leave it. Come on."
"It's all right," Rose continued to help the waitress, then nodded in the direction of the angry man. "Gits like that. Wish you could just throw their drink in their face, right?"
The waitress let a laugh slip, and ducked her head. With the last of the glass on the tray, she stood, a smile playing on her lips. "Thank you, miss."
Jack, who looked like he was having trouble calming down, returned and stood by the waitress as the Doctor came back to Rose's side.
"Astrid, this is Rose, and the Doctor, some friends of mine. Guys, this is Astrid Peth, the delightful gal who's been bringing me luck all night," Jack introduced.
The waitress, Astrid, laughed and looked embarrassed again, giving Jack a sideways look. "Just drinks, sir."
She nodded to the Doctor and Rose. "Nice to meet you, sir, miss."
The Doctor smiled. "Just the Doctor."
"And just Rose," Rose added with a half laugh.
Astrid looked surprised by the informality for a moment, then returned to staff-mode. "You enjoying the cruise?"
"Um…Yeah, I suppose," the Doctor scratched the back of his neck.
"Oh. Yeah, it's um. Really nice," Rose nodded awkwardly.
Jack gave them an odd look, then smiled down at Astrid. "Life of the party, these two. What about yourself Astrid Peth? Long way from home, Planet Sto."
"Doesn't feel that different.," Astrid shrugged. "I spent three years working at the spaceport diner, travelled all the way here…and I'm still waiting on tables," she raised her eyebrows, looking unimpressed at herself, then bobbed her head and walked toward a table by the window.
Jack raised his eyebrows at Rose and the Doctor, before following Astrid.
"Oh. Oh, Jack, no..." the Doctor trailed off, sticking his hands in his pockets.
Rose shook her head and laughed, watching Jack resume conversation with Astrid. "C'mon. It's cute."
"Cute?!" the Doctor turned to Rose, mock aghast. "It's like...watching a...a lion hunt down a giselle!"
Rose glanced up at the Doctor. "'Cept that Jack's harmless-"
"Ha!" the Doctor laughed, then nodded to the pair. Rose saw Astrid blush, then throw a dishcloth at Jack. "You'll see. Any minute now, he's going to pounce."
Rose rolled her eyes and grabbed the Doctor's sleeve. "C'mon."
She towed him toward the dining tables.
The Doctor held the sonic screwdriver at his side and aimed at a spot behind him. A bottle of champagne popped its cork at another table, spraying all over a group of first class passengers.
Foon, a heavyset woman dressed in a purple country-western outfit at their table, gaped. "Did—Did you do that?"
The Doctor shrugged and put the sonic screwdriver away. "Maybe."
Rose gave him a look and the Doctor smiled at her innocently.
"Oh, we like you!" Foon laughed.
A voice sounded over the PA system.
"Attention please. Shore leave tickets Red six-seven now activated. Red six-seven."
Foon's husband, Morvin (also dressed in a purple cowboy outfit) took a ticket out of his pocket. "Red six-seven! That's us," to Foon. They hurriedly stood. "Are you Red six-seven?"
"I dunno - what do you think?" the Doctor sparkled a smile at Rose.
She shrugged and smiled at Morvin and Foon. "Might as well be!"
"Come on!" Morvin put his arm around Foon. The pair looked very excited. "We're going to Earth."
Morvin and Foon hurried toward a small gathering of people crowded around an old man dressed in tweed, holding up a red sign with '6-7' printed on it.
"Red six-seven. Red six-seven. This way, fast as you can," the old man was calling.
The Doctor whipped out the psychic paper as they reached the back of the group.
"Great minds," Jack spoke from behind them. Rose and the Doctor both turned quickly, to see Jack standing with his psychic paper in hand, and Astrid on his arm.
The Doctor's eyes rested on Astrid's hand on Jack's elbow for a moment. "You sure, Jack?"
Astrid looked worriedly behind her. "He's right. I'll get the sack, you know."
"Nah!" Jack flashed a smile down at Astrid. "C'mon Astrid, live a little. Think about it – brand new sky!"
Rose could see Astrid's concern taken over by an excited sort of hope. She smiled at the woman, in what she hoped was a reassuring way. "Christmas eve down there. Late night shopping, sales everywhere!"
Astrid tried to hide her excited grin again as the old man called out for red six-seven ticket holders once again.
Jack stood forward, brandishing his psychic paper. "Red six-seven plus one, right here."
The Doctor still seemed a little dazed at Jack's adoption of Astrid, but broke out of his reverie as Jack stepped forward. "Yes. Us too," he held up his own psychic paper.
The old man glanced at the papers unsurely for a moment, then handed over some metal bracelets. "Uh, quickly, sirs, and please take the teleport bracelets if you would."
The Doctor handed Rose one of the bracelets idly, fastening his own to his wrist, once again falling into thought, glancing at Astrid and Jack.
Rose frowned. "You all right?" she whispered.
The Doctor startled. "What? Yes. I'm fine," he fiddled with his bracelet, checking the clasp.
Before Rose could press him for more, the old man at the head of the crowd put down his red sign and addressed everyone.
"To repeat, I am Mr Copper, the ship's historian," he introduced, "and I shall be taking you to old London town in the country of U.K. ruled over by good King Wenceslas."
Rose threw the Doctor an amused smile, which he returned, but neither of them spoke.
"Now," Mr Copper continued, "human beings worshipped the great god Santa, a creature with fearsome claws, and his wife Mary."
Rose covered her mouth, masking a laugh with a cough. The Doctor nudged her in the side, which only made things worse.
The 'historian' continued, undeterred. "And every Christmas Eve the people of U.K. go to war with the country of Turkey."
Rose turned away from Mr Copper to calm down, and noticed Jack, looking bemused. A burst of laughter escaped but before anyone else noticed it, Rose felt a hand over her mouth, muffling her.
"They then eat the Turkey people for Christmas dinner… like savages," Mr Copper continued.
It was the Doctor, elbow around the back of her neck, hand covering her mouth, addressing the historian as though the position was normal for them. "Excuse me, sorry, sorry," he called out. "But, um…where did you get all this from?"
The look Mr Copper gave them was priceless, as he looked between them. The Doctor glanced at Rose as she grabbed his hand with both of hers and tugged to remove it. Tears of laughter sprang to her eyes as the historian answered them.
"Well, I have a first class degree in Earthonomics. Now stand by..." he stuttered, then turned to a couple of technicians behind him at a podium.
"Calm yourself," the Doctor spoke, directly in her mind.
Rose ceased trying to break the Doctor's grip, letting her hands go slack, and concentrated on slowing her breathing. "Okay! Okay." she returned, trying to quell the laughter from her thoughts. "I'm all right."
"Promise?" the Doctor's tone was joking; he was enjoying this. His grip, and stare, didn't falter, though he raised an eyebrow at her, just slightly.
Rose glanced up at him, and a forgotten memory crashed down on her.
He gritted his teeth, and slammed me against the hallway wall, his arm pressed along my collarbone, his hips locking mine in place.
"What are you doin'-?" I cried.
"You stupid ape," the Doctor cut me off, gritting his teeth, his eyes flashing and churning like a wild thunderstorm.
The memory faded, her eyes darting back to his in fear. She didn't realise she was holding her breath.
He must have noticed the change in her, because his grip slackened immediately and he released her.
"What's wrong?" he asked quickly.
She took a step back, she couldn't help it, trying to find her balance and look anywhere except into those eyes.
The Doctor looked around them quickly, then put his hands on Rose's shoulders. "Rose-?"
She flinched, startled, and the Doctor stopped talking as she raised her eyes to his again. She saw none of the rage she'd seen in the memory; only concern. So, what had she just seen?
Before she could respond, a high pitched voice called out from about hip height.
"And me! And me! Red six-seven!"
The ticket holders turned, to see a short, red-spiked alien in a tuxedo shuffling through the crowd holding a red ticket.
Mr Copper turned around. "Well, take a bracelet, sir," he handed another metal bracelet over.
The Doctor took a step forward, double-taking between Rose, and the newcomer. "Uh, but, um, hold on, hold on," he looked down. "What was your name?"
"Bannakaffalatta," the alien answered confidently.
The Doctor paused. "OK, Bannakaffalatta. But it's Christmas Eve down there," he addressed Mr Copper now, but the man didn't seem to be listening. "Late-night shopping, tons of people. He's like a walking conker."
Rose barely registered the Doctor prattle as a warm, buzzing feeling engulfed her and in a blink, they were on a dark, deserted street.
"No offence, but you'll cause a riot 'cause the streets are going to be packed with shoppers and parties and…oh."
The Doctor turned on the spot, confused.
"Why's it empty?" Jack asked quickly.
Astrid sighed happily. "It's beautiful."
Rose looked around the quiet street, also registering finally that something was wrong. She shook the Doctor's voice echoing, calling her a stupid ape, from her mind. There had to be some logical explanation. Had to be.
A lone newspaper seller had confirmed that the whole of London was deserted, apart from himself and the Queen, out of fear of alien attack for the third year in a row. The old man talked of some 'big bloody spaceship' that made everyone stand on a roof, and a Christmas star that had drained the Thames the previous year.
Rose listened to his retelling, watching highlights on a small television by his side, recognising everything but not remembering it. She shook her head and was about to ask him why he was still in London when the warm glow enveloped her again, and she found herself, and the rest of the shore leave group, back in the reception room on the Titanic.
The Doctor sounded annoyed. "I was in mid-sentence!"
Mr Copper cut in hurriedly. "Yes, I'm sorry about that. A bit of a problem. If I could have your bracelets-"
The steward who'd shut down the host before joined Mr Copper. "Apologies, ladies and gentlemen, Bannakaffalatta, we seem to have suffered a slight power fluctuation," he smiled. "If you'd like to return to the festivities. And on behalf of Max Capricorn Cruiseliners, free drinks will be provided."
The ticket holders seemed to like this idea, and dispersed.
Jack, Rose and the Doctor all looked at one another slowly, and worriedly.
Astrid didn't appear to notice their concern.
She bounced excitedly, and whispered, "That was the best!" leaning up to kiss Jack on the cheek. "The best!" she repeated, grinning, as she picked up a tray from a nearby table and returned to work.
"Sure, no problem," Jack muttered, distracted, as Astrid left. "Doctor, what was that?"
The Doctor wasn't listening, and stepped toward the steward.
"What sort of power fluctuation?"
After getting zip from the steward, the Doctor hijacked one of the wall panels sporting the glinting gold grin of Max Capricorn, and buzzed it momentarily to reveal a map of the star ship.
"Shields are offline," the Doctor muttered, confusion in his voice as he buzzed at another area of the panel.
"Something in common with you, then," Jack commented, leaning over the panel himself and pressing a couple of buttons on his wrist band.
Rose turned away from the panel, her mind still racing; torn between interest in what was going on, and her hidden memories, that kept butting in and distracting her.
Tiny spots of fire burned at the back of her vision. She blinked, but the fires didn't go away. That was weird, she thought. She took another step forward, peering out the window more closely.
It wasn't her vision. It was meteors. Heading straight for them. And he'd said the shields were offline.
They'd tried contacting the bridge. The Doctor, desperately, had tried to warn everyone about the oncoming meteor shower. Before long, a tiny piece of rock had smashed through a window. One of the seemingly benevolent hosts had then informed them, calmly, that they were all going to die.
All hell broke loose. With three large impacts, accompanied by a resonating 'BOOM!' each time, the star ship rocked in orbit and tables, chairs, drinks and people went flying. Rose managed to grab hold of a railing and Jack leaped to Astrid's side, protecting her as they fell to the floor.
When the worst of it was over, the Doctor hurried to the side of one of the stewards, frowning and rising, shaking his head at Rose.
Rose steadied herself, nodding. "It's over?"
The Doctor shook his head again. "It's stopping."
Jack helped Astrid to her feet. "You okay?"
"I think so," she rose shakily, leaning on Jack's arm.
A steward clambered over some rubble and uneasily tried to restore order. "Ev-everyone…Ladies and gentlemen, Bannakaffalatta, I must apologise on behalf of Max Capricorn Cruiseliners. We seem to have had a small accident."
The surviving passengers all started talking at once, both angry and scared.
Rose stepped up next to the Doctor, watching him. He was staring at the steward, frowning.
"I don't think it was an accident," he said finally, in a confidential voice to Rose.
She didn't answer.
It certainly didn't seem to be an accident. The hosts started killing people, for one, and someone had to have programmed them into it. All attempts to hail engineering or the other passenger levels were met with static, or screams. Finally, the Doctor made contact with the bridge, and a nervous sounding midshipman, whom he instructed to fire up the engine containment field to feed into the engines, and stop the nuclear storm drive from pulling them down to the planet and wiping out life on Earth.
After some worried doomed talk from the remaining passengers – Foon and Morvin, the idiot in the tailcoat, who's name was Rickston Slade, Bannakaffalatta, Astrid, and a few others – the Doctor announced they were going to climb through the ship, reach the bridge and save the earth.
"Hang on a minute," Rickston called out. "Who put you in charge and who the hell are you anyway?"
"You wanna listen to him, trust me," Jack called from Astrid's side.
The Doctor answered anyway, his eyes flashing. "I'm the Doctor. I'm a Time Lord. I'm from the planet Gallifrey in the constellation of Kasterborous. I'm 903 years old and I'm the man who's gonna save your lives and all six billion of the people on the planet below. You got a problem with that?" he challenged.
Rickston paused before answering with a weak, "No."
Without further ado, they made their way through the ship, clearing a path in the rubble.
After an altercation with one of the deranged hosts, the party stopped in a relatively untouched room for a rest, and Jack contacted the bridge to check on the midshipman. The Doctor moved to his side, and they began assessing the situation.
Rose leaned against a table, picking at the tatters of her sleeve, watching Jack and the Doctor, wondering what she should be doing.
Astrid joined her, sighing. "Are you hungry, miss? One of the buffet's survived the collision," she pointed across the room to a long table laden with food that the others were helping themselves to.
Rose shook her head, smiling. "No, thanks."
Astrid paused a moment, then laughed at herself. "Sorry. Must be the waitress in me. Here we are," she surveyed the room, "in mortal peril, and I'm still offering food," she shook her head. "Some great help I turned out to be."
Rose paused as an image of herself, dressed in a waitress outfit, holding a tray of drinks, flashed in her mind. She turned, and regarded Astrid a moment. "You're not just a waitress, though."
Astrid looked up to her, wondering. "Miss?"
"I mean, you can be anything you want to be."
Astrid smiled sadly. "That's kind of you, but it's easy for you to say, miss. Easy for those who have made it."
"It's Rose," Rose reminded her hurriedly. "And I'm...I dunno, I haven't 'made' anything. I just travel around with this lot," she indicated Jack and the Doctor, who were still in contact with the bridge.
"Sounds like fun," Astrid smiled, nudging her. "So…you a Time Queen from Gaddabee too? Is it what you do, travel about and save people?"
"It's Gallifrey," Rose nodded, then shook her head. "No. I mean, I don't think I am. I dunno any more," she trailed off, rolling her eyes.
Astrid's smile faded a little, and Rose turned back to her, patting her hand. "Astrid, sorry. I'm a bit of a head case right now," she tried to smile back at the waitress.
Astrid renewed her smile. "Don't apologise, miss. I don't think anyone saw this coming," she indicated above them, around them, her eyes settling on Jack and the Doctor. "Look at them. Going to save us all, those two, you wait and see."
Rose regarded the pair again, as they both turned and walked towards Astrid and herself. Rose watched the Doctor closely, as her memory of his voice in her mind echoed once more, calling her a stupid ape. She shook free of the memory, and answered Astrid slowly. "Yeah. I'm sure they will."
"Deck thirty-one," the Doctor joined Rose, resting on the table. "That's where this started."
"And that's where it's going to finish," Jack sounded final.
Astrid nodded between them. "Let's go, then."
"No," the Doctor answered instantly. "I'm gonna find out what it is. Jack, Rose, Astrid – I need you to keep going, lead the others back to reception, it's the only way out of here."
Rose gave him a look as Jack protested. "Not gonna happen. I remember that much."
The running started again. They were pursued by Hosts over the nuclear storm drive, and lost half their survivors to the struggle; Foon, Morvin, and Bannakaffalatta – they were dead. Gone. The rest of the group were pushing on determination, apart from Rickston, who wouldn't keep his mouth shut despite several threats from Jack to clobber him.
They entered a ruined control room, Jack through last, sealing the door with a flick of the wrist band.
"I'm not asking, Rose, I'm ordering you to go-"
"You don't order me, and I'm coming with you. It's what I do-"
"Knock it off, both of you. Doctor, I'm coming with you. Rose, you're going to reception with the others," Jack cut their arguing short.
"Jack!" Rose started to protest.
"Not negotiable," he fired, and turned to Astrid.
"Astrid," Jack took her hands. "Use Bannakaffalatta's EMP transmitter as a weapon against the host, and keep going."
"Doctor-" Rose turned to him to protest, since Jack wasn't listening.
"Rose," he grated quietly. "We've seen enough death and destruction today. I need you to lead these people. Lead them to safety," the Doctor insisted, looking down at her finally, holding out his hand.
She looked down, to see he was offering her the sonic screwdriver.
"Here. You will need it to unlock the doors."
Rose didn't take it, a stubborn challenge in her voice as she shook her head. "I'm coming with you."
"Please, take it," he said urgently, offering again. "There's not much time left."
He stared at her, for the longest moment, his eyes tired but determined. Rose didn't budge, so he took her hand, and placed the sonic screwdriver in it, clasping her hand in both of his as he did so.
"Rose, if anything happens and we don't-"
"Don't," Rose interrupted him quickly. "Don't even say it."
The Doctor frowned, as Astrid did say it.
"Are...you coming back?" Rose heard her speak in a small voice.
She looked to the waitress, and saw her staring at the EMP transmitter, a cylinder that the red cyborg had sacrificed to them only moments ago, looking scared.
Jack smiled tenderly down at her. "We'll be back before you even start to miss me," he let go of her hands.
"I dunno about that," Astrid laughed, tears in her eyes.
Jack leaned down, and kissed Astrid softly.
The Doctor shifted, letting go of Rose's hand, and cleared his throat. "Jack. We're leaving."
Jack lifted his head, breaking the kiss. "Hold that thought," he winked at a breathy-looking Astrid, then faced the Doctor.
"Let's move," Jack pressed some buttons on his wrist band, opened their door, and the pair hurried onward.
Mr Copper appeared at Rose's side.
"We must continue. The Hosts will not be far behind - they seem to have a scent for us now."
Rose sadly watched the Doctor as he turned around, pressing a panel to close the door, his eyes darting to Rose's as it slid shut.
She turned abruptly to Astrid and Mr Copper. "Right. Let's go."
Astrid and Rose lead the way – Rose buzzing through the doors with the sonic screwdriver, and Astrid discharging the EMP transmitter whenever the hosts came near. They made it to reception, without losing any more passengers.
"Quick, seal the door, make it secure," Astrid said as they hurried into the reception room. Rose buzzed the doorway with the sonic screwdriver to force the lock to fuse for the moment.
"We're safe," she announced blankly.
Rose turned, and caught something Astrid tossed to her. Rose looked down at it. "What's this?"
"Teleport," Astrid said airily. "We're safe. We're going after them."
Rose smiled, for what felt like the first time in hours. Astrid grinned back at her, then pressed an intercom.
"Bridge, this is Reception!"
After a pause, the nervous sounding midshipman responded. "Who's there?"
"Astrid Peth. One of the survivors. Tell me, can you divert any power to the teleport system?"
"No way. I'm using everything I got to keep the engines running."
"But we just need one trip. To deck thirty-one," Astrid continued as Rose hurried to her side.
"Please," Rose called into the intercom. "It's for the Doctor, and Jack. They've gone down there on their own, we can't just leave them."
"It's time we did something to help them," Astrid spoke into the intercom, but looked with determination at Rose. Rose nodded.
In a moment, the midshipman responded. "Giving you power."
"Yes!" Rose cried as Astrid grinned and tossed the EMP transmitter to Mr Copper.
"Mr Copper, we're going to find them. You hold the fort."
Rose and Astrid grabbed each other's hands, and before the confused Mr Copper could catch the transmitter, the women were teleported away.
They arrived behind some shipping crates. Astrid and Rose ducked, peeking over the top of the crates. Rose could see the Doctor, and Jack, standing with hands raised. A number of Hosts had their hands perched above their heads, ready to remove their killer halos.
Rose noticed a glint of gold from something that definitely wasn't a Host, and did a double-take.
"Is that?" she whispered to Astrid, pointing.
"This interview is terminated," Max Capricorn commanded.
At least, the head of him commanded. The rest of him comprised of machinery, some sort of elaborate wheel chair-come-life support device.
"Whoa!" Jack jumped into a more defensive stance as the Hosts removed their halos.
"No, no, no, no, no, no!" Rose heard the Doctor calling out quickly, and bit her lip.
He was slipping into stalling mode. "Hold on! Hold on! Hold on! Wait! Wait! Wait! Wait! Wait! I can work it out. It's like a task," he babbled.
Rose looked around for some way, any way, to help them. Astrid motioned 'forward' to Rose, and before she could respond, Astrid had hurried forward, behind another stack of metal scaffolding. Rose glanced down at the sonic screwdriver. She couldn't use it on the hosts, but she might be able to zap Max's circuits with it.
"So…" the Doctor was theorising. "Business is failing and you wreck the ship so that makes things even worse. Oh yes! No. Yes!" he announced, swivelling to Jack. "The business isn't failing."
"It's failed already," Jack supplied, resigned. "Past tense."
Rose ducked forward to Astrid's side again. Max Capricorn continued, boasting about the board of directors of Max Capricorn Cruises being thrown in jail for mass murder, once the Titanic wiped out the Earth.
"So that's the plan," Rose watched the Doctor stride forward, furiously, toward the head in a box. "A retirement plan. Two-thousand on this ship, six billion underneath us, all of them slaughtered," he spat. "And why? Because Max Capricorn is a loser."
"I never lose," the head of Max hissed, rolling forward.
"You can't even sink the Titanic!" Jack jibed.
"Ha!" Capricorn barked. "I can cancel the engines from here."
An alarm started to bleep immediately, a woman's voice announcing that the engines were closing. In the distraction, Rose hurried forward again, hiding behind a pillar, motioning Astrid to join her.
Astrid went to move, then ducked as a pair of Host hurried past her. Rose flattened herself against the metal pillar.
"You can't do this!" Jack yelled.
"You can stop this, stop it now, you don't have to kill them!" the Doctor fired at the same time.
"Host, hold them!" Max ordered, ignoring the pleas.
Rose looked quickly between the Doctor and Jack as the hosts restrained them, and back to where Astrid was hiding.
Astrid peeked over the scaffolding and shook her head to Rose, pointed left, then to a vast chasm emitting orange light that lead directly to one of the engines, and darted off to the left, ducking as she ran. Rose followed Astrid with her eyes. Forklift. Chasm. Right. It was a plan. Well, no, it wasn't a plan, but it was something, at least. Now to buy Astrid some time to get into position.
"Not so clever now, are you?" Max goaded. "Time for me to retire. The Titanic is falling. The sky will burn..."
Rose turned back to see Max Capricorn grinning manically. "Let the Christmas inferno commence. Oh!" as an afterthought. "Oh, Host! Kill them."
"Yeah, I think you'll find that's a lot easier said then done," Jack tried to struggle forward, but the hosts held his arms firmly.
A pair of Host stood in front of them, and held out their halos, ready to throw.
Rose couldn't bare it any longer, and strode forward, holding the sonic screwdriver at arms length. It was now or never. She hoped Astrid was ready.
"Security protocol one!" she called out confidently.
Max Capricorn laughed, seemingly unfazed by her appearance. "Oh, look, another little one, wanting to play."
"Rose, don't!" the Doctor called out.
"The security protocol's are overwritten with him here!" Jack cried.
She ignored them all, and buzzed the sonic screwdriver directly at Max's life support chamber as Hosts moved toward her. A couple of plastic tubes in the head chamber burst out of their sockets and started issuing steam. Two Hosts reached for her and Rose ducked, but a third caught her, restraining her hands. The sonic screwdriver flew across the floor.
"Astrid, now!" Rose cried, struggling.
"Astrid?!" Jack called, urgently.
"Mr Capricorn!" Astrid's voice rang out from behind them. "I resign."
The waitress pushed the forklift into gear and stepped on it, accelerating toward Max Capricorn's chamber and smashed into it before he knew what was happening.
Host from all directions started throwing their halos at Astrid as she lifted the life support chamber and head of Max Capricorn off the ground. Halos smashed into the forklift but none hit Astrid as sparks flew everywhere and the wheels span, smoking.
"Astrid, don't, they've cut the break line!" Jack screamed.
Rose watched on, held by the host and helpless, as Astrid struggled with the forklift. She flicked Jack a meaningful look, before raising the fork higher, lifting Max completely off the ground, and stepping on the accelerator, sending them both flying into the orange-lit chasm.
"No!" Jack screamed.
The Hosts suddenly let go of them, and Jack raced to the edge and leaned over. "Astrid!"
Rose and the Doctor scooted to Jack's side, holding onto him as he called down into the rift.
With a sickening lurch, Rose saw Astrid falling, reaching her hands up to them, as she fell toward the bright centre of the engine. She looked away quickly, biting her lip as tears escaped her, holding Jack's shoulder and arm firmly as he continued to call after her.
Her eyes met the Doctor's, who were also bright, as he coaxed Jack away from the chasm.
"Bring her back!" Jack cried desperately. "Can't we bring her back? I promised her!"
"I'm sorry," the Doctor pulled Jack further away from the edge. "I can't."
Rose hugged Jack closely and he sobbed into her shoulder.
Over Jack's shoulder, Rose noticed the Doctor rising.
"Where are you going?" she sniffed.
The Doctor looked down at her, as she held Jack for dear life, and frowned. "It's not over."
With a thud to the ship, a female voice announced that the Titanic was falling.
Jack froze in Rose's arms, then slowly pulled away, standing and facing the Doctor, a dangerous look in his eyes, his fists clenching.
"Doctor, she did not die for nothing," Jack grated.
Rose stood, retrieving the sonic screwdriver. "Let's end this."
The hosts surrounded them, took their hands, and began to fly them upward at a rocket speed. The metal angels raised their fists to the sky and punched through the roof, landing them in the bridge.
With the Doctor and Jack at the wheel, they had no trouble regaining control and steering the ship back upwards and using the heat of re-entry to fire up the secondary drives.
Midshipman Alonzo Frame rang the ship's bell, cheering as Jack and the Doctor hugged each other, laughing, bringing the ship back into orbit around Earth.
"We made it!" the midshipman cried, hugging Rose.
Rose patted his back, sobering. "Not all of us."
The Doctor heard her, his eyes snapping to Rose, then falling to her wrist.
"Jack!" he pounced. "Teleport!"
"She was-" The Doctor pointed to Rose frantically. "She's wearing a teleport bracelet – I mean - they both were!"
"Astrid was wearing a teleport bracelet!" Jack caught on, triumph in his voice. "C'mon!"
"What?" Rose turned as the Doctor and Jack dashed out of the room, then raced after them, calling. "What about it?"
She entered the reception room, to see a bedraggled looking Rickston and Mr Copper, sitting on the floor. The Doctor and Jack were fiddling with the teleport podium.
"Rose, sonic!" the Doctor called.
Rose threw it across the room. He caught it and began buzzing immediately.
"Mr Copper, what's the emergency code for this thing?" Jack was frantically pressing buttons on his wrist band, then dialling codes into the panel itself.
Mr Copper looked dazed. "Uh, let me see..."
"What the hell are you doing?" Midshipman Frame entered the reception room.
"We can bring her back," Jack grinned across the room.
Mr Copper turned to Rose and Frame. "If a passenger has an accident on shore leave and they're still wearing their teleport, their molecules are automatically suspended and held in stasis so that we can just trigger the sh-"
"That's it!" Jack pressed a final couple of buttons, then stepped back.
Within seconds, a glowing, transparent Astrid appeared beside him.
"I'm falling," she announced quietly.
"Only halfway there," Jack returned to the panel. "Come on, Doctor!"
"I keep falling," the transparent Astrid looked confused.
Rose bit her bottom lip and looked to the Doctor. He didn't look happy. His shoulders dropped, as he stepped off the podium and stared at the faint form of Astrid Peth.
"Doctor, here-" Jack called out urgently, lying on the ground and pointing to the panel above. "Feed back the molecule grid, boost it with the restoration matrix!" the teleport sparked as Jack pressed more buttons. "Help me!"
The Doctor was deadpan. "Jack, she's gone."
"No!" Jack grated, as more sparks fell from the podium into his hair.
"She's gone, Jack," the Doctor repeated in the same tone.
Jack ignored him, and hurried out from the podium, looking at Astrid and dusting off his hands.
She was still transparent. Jack kicked the teleport in frustration, then turned to the Doctor.
"You can do anything!" he screamed. "Help me save her!"
"I can't bring her back," the Doctor said sadly.
"Stop me falling," Astrid begged.
Jack heard her this time and the anger seemed to dissipate from his face. He turned, slowly, and stepped toward Astrid.
"The system was too badly damaged. She's just atoms, Jack. An echo with the ghost of consciousness," the Doctor told him.
"She's stardust," Rose sniffed, wiping her face and watching as the transparent form took notice of Jack, standing in front of her. Seemed to focus on him.
Jack reached out a hand, and stopped before touching her, his hand shaking. "You're not falling, Astrid," he told her in a wavering voice, full of passion and grief. He tried to smile. "You're flying."
The stardust dissipated and flew in a single beam out the window, into space.
Jack turned back to the Doctor and Rose, his face covered in tears.
"Doctor," he said definitely. "Take me home."
The Doctor glanced at Rose, then nodded, slowly, to Jack.
They took him to Cardiff Bay.
Rose, the Doctor and Jack leaned against the rails near the Pierhead building, looking out.
Jack's face was stony, subdued, as he turned to the pair. "Time for me to get back to work."
Rose frowned, hugging him tightly.
"Come with us, Jack," the Doctor offered. "The old team, back together again, for good this time!"
Jack shook his head, hugging Rose back. "I have a team, here, who need me. I miss them."
"We miss you too," Rose pulled back. "We need you."
Jack managed a laugh, cupping Rose's cheek with his hand. "Nah, you don't. Not you two," his eyes were bright.
The Doctor held out his hand, and Jack moved to shake it. Instead, the Doctor gripped his wrist, and buzzed his wrist band with the sonic screwdriver.
"Hey! I need that!" Jack pulled his hand back.
"I can't have you walking around with a time-travelling teleport," he explained, popping the sonic back into his pocket. "You could go anywhere – twice."
Jack shook his head at the Doctor. "Whatever you say, Doc. And what about Rose?"
Rose looked up to the Doctor. "What about me?"
"Yes, what about her?" the Doctor echoed.
Jack raised an eyebrow, unimpressed, at the Doctor. "Doctor, you're going to fix this, before there's another accident and she doesn't regenerate."
The Doctor looked away evasively, and Rose pursed her lips.
"I know, Jack," she spoke up, shaking her head. The Doctor's eyes snapped to her, but she kept focus on Jack. "I'm...a stupid ape."
"Rose!" the Doctor was quietly shocked.
"It's all right," she shook her head at the Doctor now, quickly. "I know."
"But obviously, not enough," Jack raised his eyebrows at Rose, and started to back away, pointing to the Doctor. "This is what I'm talking about, Doctor," then to Rose. "Make sure he tells you the truth, and soon. Don't go on wondering like I did," he then smiled, and the pointed finger turned into a wave. "I'll catch you kids later."
Rose tried to smile as Jack turned and jogged toward the water tower.
The Doctor sighed and leaned back out over the railing, surveying the bay, fiddling with something in his pocket. Rose turned when she could no longer see Jack, and looked out over the bay as well, sighing.
After minutes of silence, the Doctor broke it. "Troublesome things, chameleon arcs. Make us forget too easily who we really are. Shows us the wrong memories, to confuse us even more," he laughed bleakly.
Rose turned, and looked up to him, but he was staring at something silver in his hand, looking somewhat distant as his laughter died.
He looked down to her then, his face once again serious. "Of all the things for you to remember, why that? I don't think you're a stupid ape."
Rose leaned over the railing again as well. "Then you'd better help me remember why you said that."
The Doctor looked uncomfortable. "It was a ruse. To make the Master believe I was on his side. I had to act quickly, when I saw you there," he met Rose's gaze again. "I'm sorry. I can't believe I never said sorry for that."
She could see none of the anger in his eyes that she'd caught in that memory. But she couldn't help wondering; would he return to hating her, once she became human again?
At the moment he just looked scared and sad. His eyes betrayed warning, but there was a deeper level of concern she was having trouble interpreting.
"Look at you," he spoke very quietly. "You haven't asked to stay this way. Haven't asked why," he smiled, his eyes bright, as he reached out and tucked a bit of hair behind her ear. "To stay a Time Lord – it didn't even cross your mind, did it, once you figured it out?"
Rose couldn't help but lean into his touch. He noticed, leaving his hand resting on the back of her neck.
She closed her eyes, reached her mind out to his as she felt him lean toward her.
"But will I lose you?" the thoughts escaped her mind as his lips barely touched hers.
The Doctor gasped as though she'd thrown a bucket of cold water over him, and she hurriedly withdrew, her eyes flashing open again.
"I'm - I'm sorry-" she started quickly.
"No, no, I'm sorry," he recovered quickly, then laughed, "I'm really not used to you being able to do that, Rose," he tapped her forehead.
Rose frowned, unable to share his laughter. "You won't have to get used to it."
Her words hung between them, and the Doctor looked out over the Plas. Jack was well and truly gone.
"He's right, you know," the Doctor announced, meaning Jack, Rose assumed. He closed his hand around whatever he was holding, then put an arm around her shoulder. "And, it's Christmas day," he said cheerily, hugging her. "Time to wake up and go to your mum's."
She opened the watch.
Memories flashed past her eyes quickly, golden light encircling her. Rose Tyler's true past flooded over her, quicker than she could comprehend it, but each piece of her found its place and finished her. She was waking up. Eating chips. Laughing with Mickey Smith. Arguing with mum. Catching the bus. The word 'run'. The Doctor, as he'd previously been. The Doctor, as he was now. Daleks. Living Plastic. Cybermen. The words 'Bad Wolf', chasing her, everywhere.
She felt dizzy.
"Oh, my head," Rose winced, raising a hand to her temple, before knocking on her mum's door at the Estate. It was a different apartment - she didn't have a set of keys, yet.
"It's temporary," the Doctor assured her, touching her temple and smoothing the hair away from it. "Caused by the thoughts and secrets of Rose Tyler flooding back into your mind, like pulling a plug in a sink full of water. Pop!"
Rose swatted him, shaking her head, though wondered if he'd done something when he'd touched her, because her head didn't feel quite as bad any more. "You're loving this, aren't you?"
He crossed his arms proudly. "I'm just glad you're back to your old self! Rose Tyler, the Time Lord, brrr! It's just not you!"
"You didn't seem to mind that much," Rose smirked at him cheekily hopping from foot to foot in the cold, rubbing her hands together. "C'mon mum, where are you?"
Jackie Tyler opened the door grinning, wearing a paper hat and holding a glass of wine. Music flooded out of the flat and Jackie grinned.
"Rose! Sweetheart, you're all right!" she hugged her tightly. "Ooh, don't you ever do that to me again, you hear? Next time," she held her daughter at arms length. "You're using the teleport, and I'll worry about himself and saving the world, got it?" she nodded to the Doctor.
Rose laughed, and agreed, amazed still that her mother was okay. For the better part of a year, she'd believed her mother was dead. Or worse than dead, trapped in hell. And here she was, in a new flat, having a Christmas party, all smiles, completely safe.
The Doctor stepped forward. "Ooh, come here you," he hugged Rose's mum. "Merry Christmas, Jackie!"
"That's Mrs Tyler to you," Jackie extracted herself, pointing her wine glass at the Doctor in mock warning with a grin on her face. She noticed she was holding the glass out, and changed her tune immediately, smiling at Rose. "Drink?"
Rose burst out laughing at the Doctor, who looked bemused, and tugged on his arm. "C'mon, we've earned it this year."
They went inside.
Before anyone mentions this, if you're wondering why Rose lost a bit of her fight part way through (and stopped acting like Time Lord!Rose and more like herself) it was all from the 'stupid ape' memory. It was from that moment she knitted together she was a human, and so I had to start reverting her to her usual self.
I hope you enjoyed it!