Disclaimer: I own nothing, BBC owns all.

As ever, thanks to Bonnie for beta reading!

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"What happens to the others," Harriet Jones asked quietly. "If one third ends their lives, or one half is sold into slavery, what happens to the rest of humanity?"

"They will become citizens of the Sycorax," the growled words are a bit less intimidating through the filter of the young man's translation. "They will join our great and mighty Empire and submit to our rule."

"How is that different from slavery, exactly?"

The Sycorax roared at Harriet again, reaching for his whip. "Such insolence will not be tolerated!" he pressed a button hidden in the wall and a tube, just big enough for an average adult, slid out. "You will all be made slaves of the Sycorax," Alex translated, paling rapidly. "With the energy we harvest, we will conquer your people, needless of cooperation."

There was a pause as they processed this – and then a shriek of outrage from Jackie as her daughter's body vanished in a haze of blue, only to reappear inside the tube. "No, don't you dare! You let her go!"

Mickey gripped her around the middle, fighting her away from the aliens that she was attempting to claw. He wasn't sure how sensitive the skin-less muscle of their bodies was, but he did not want to test their patience at the risk of her life. If they would kill a man for stepping forward and enslave a species for one slight, then he wouldn't test their reactions to a Jackie Tyler slap.

The tube started to hum, and a soft glow began to leek from Rose's skin. It almost looked like a breath as lazy tendrils of golden energy curled from her mouth. A transparent hose-like apparatus appeared from the depths of the rock and followed the energy, gliding into her mouth and capturing the glow. It looked like a violation; it was a violation, and the humans all tensed at the horror of it. Needles extended from the tube, roughly piercing her skin; the glow from her flesh was turning into mist, a gold-hued fog that made it difficult to see through the transparent cylinder.

Then Mickey Smith's pocket began to buzz. He barely noticed at first, caught as he was in an emotional upheaval. Slowly the vibrations reached his brain and the slim mobile slid into his palm. He frowned at it, confused and dismayed that anyone would call him now, but the name on the inbound makes his heart leap.

"Doctor?" he held the phone tight against his ear, pulling Jackie with him out of the immediate view of the alien leader.

"Yes?" the reply was short, irritated and absolutely, 100% the Doctor. Mickey thought that if the man had appeared before him in that moment, he might well have kissed him.

"You gotta help, there's aliens takin' over the world, we're on their ship over London and they're drainin' some sort of energy out of Rose!"

There was a pause and then a sharp, angry response. "Right, you wait an' don't do anything stupid."

A click and he was gone.

Harriet Jones stood proudly in front of the leader; her hands were clenched tightly in front of her, but otherwise her posture was perfect and her expression calm. "I would be willing to sacrifice my life in the defence of the Earth," she informed the crowd coolly. "I am not alone in this belief. You will not find our planet as easy to conquer as you are expecting; I would recommend, with greatest respect, that you not abandon negotiations. A suitable agreement must be available to us both."

"The Sycorax have no need for your agreement. You are useful only as cattle."

The translator halted, holding his device thoughtfully. "Um, that's…"

There was a pause. "Are you speaking English?" Harriet questioned, oh-so-politely.

"I would never dirty my tongue with your primitive bile!"

"He's talkin' English!" Mickey called out triumphantly. "I can hear it!"

Harriet glanced to her aide and Jackie as well. They nodded. "English, I'd know it anywhere." the elder Tyler confirmed.

"I speak only Sycoraxic!"

"An' none too well," a new voice added, irritably. "Could do with a few grammar lessons; you're smudgin' your words all over the place. Harriet Jones, MP for Flydale North!" the Doctor stepped toward her, his dark expression softening slightly. "Didn't expect to fight off another alien invasion with you. How's the mum?"

"Quite well, thank you. Rather proud actually," Harriet smiled. "It's Harriet Jones, Prime Minister now, Doctor."

"Oh, good for you," he grinned briefly. "All right?"

Her voice lowered as she stepped toward him. "Doctor, we need time…there's a weapon but it isn't prepared yet. And they have one-third of the world ready to kill themselves down on the Earth."

"Ah," he turned toward the invaders and his countenance flattened again. "Right then, you've dragged me down here, what d'you want?"

"Do not think to unnerve us with your appearance aboard our ship!" the leader growled. "You and your entire race will be brought to service of the mighty Sycorax!"

"Oh good," the Doctor folded his arms. "Do me a favour: let me know if you find another one; got a few words to have with my race. That all then?"

"You cannot fool me!" he growled. "Your pitiful attempt to salvage higher technology will not save your planet!"

The Doctor let out a short, bitter laugh. "Right you are," he agreed. "But this isn't my planet, an' I'm not human.

The leader paused. "Who are you?"

He raised a hand and waved casually. "I'm the Doctor. Hello!"

"A title that means nothing! Doctor who!"

"Well, titles tell you a lot more about a person than just a name ever could," he strode casually around the room, nodding politely at Jackie and Mickey. "I've got plenty of them, you know. Bringer of Darkness, Destroyer of Worlds; the Daleks called me the Oncoming Storm. My friends at school called me Theta, but they were just bein' a bit ironic."

His calm demeanour fractured as he neared the almost-opaque tube. His body went rigid and with a swift movement he brandished the sonic screwdriver. Before anyone could stop him, he'd aimed it at the machine, shattering the not-quite-glass. None of those alive in the room had ever seen him wear a look of quite such unadulterated hate as appeared the moment he saw the apparatuses piercing golden flesh.

"How dare you!" the Sycorax leader held aloft the energy whip that had ended the lives of two humans already. As it bore down on the Doctor's head he turned and quite calmly caught it in one hand. There was a trick to it; as he would later inform a rather astonished Harriet Jones. All in the wrist.

"Me?" his voice was low and dark. "How dare I?" he repeated. "You steal and abuse my Rose, and how dare I?" he doesn't look at them as he turns again to the desecrated body, brushing away needles and tenderly removing the connection from her throat. A puff of energy follows the pipe and his fingers clench as he turns away to once again face his enemies. "This is your warnin', your one chance," he informed the alien coolly. "You can leave this planet an' never come back, or you can be destroyed. It's up to you."

"You stand as this world's champion?" the Sycorax demanded.

"'Bout sums me up, yeah."

The alien chuckled darkly. "If you are the best this planet can offer, I think we shall have little trouble enslaving the inferior race," another laugh. "How would you stop us, champion?"

He gave a cold smile. "Oh, I was hopin' you'd ask that," he shot a glance toward the others and darted up the stairs. "Oh, fantastic! Control matrix! Scarin' the silly little humans, is that it?" he didn't wait for a response. "Interestin' thing about control matrices, lot of trouble to build so usually designed for easy reprogrammin'," the sonic screwdriver hummed over the contraption as the button pulsed, changing from dark red to a lurid green. He snapped off a piece of the whip and slung it into the feed before standing, pressing his screwdriver against the machine. "An' hopefully you lot have learned an important lesson about building weapons out of your own genetic material."

The Sycorax leader growled, but his body did not so much as twitch in place. The soldiers who had moved to restrain him were frozen, their arms reaching out to clutch empty air.

"Don't like bein' controlled, eh?" the Doctor folded his arms and glanced around the room emotionlessly. "Let me guess, warrior caste? All inbred and sharin' DNA? No one ever learns."

"Doctor," Harriet Jones calls his attention softly, doing a very good approximation of a woman with nothing to fear. "I've received a call; we're ready down below. I would of course prefer a way off this ship before it is destroyed. If you have one, that is."

He descended slowly from the dais, not once looking in Harriet's direction. He stepped close to the Sycorax warrior, invading his personal space and looking dead into the frozen being's eyes. "I gave you a chance," he says quietly. "You chose this."

"Doctor, you sure we should –" Mickey broke off when the Doctor's flat stare focused on him. "Right, uh, where's the TARDIS at?"

The Time Lord crossed quickly to the damaged body of Rose Tyler and gently lifted it into his arms. "Follow me," he instructed, not quite harshly. "Keep up, they'll break the control quick enough, we need to be in the TARDIS and away first."

The others exchanged glances; Mickey held tight to Jackie's arm as they hurried after him and the Prime Minister sighed sadly before encouraging her aide to move swiftly.

He braced Rose's body against his shoulder, steadying her with his knee as he dug out his key and quickly opened the door. She was deposited very carefully on the grating, just behind where he stood at the console. Levers were pulled, dials twisted and a single very important button pressed as they dematerialized.

"Right then, where to? The Powell Estates alright for you important state officials?"

"Quite alright," Harriet nodded. "Wherever is most convenient to you, Doctor."

He shrugged and adjusted a few things. "Oh, 's all convenient for me. My ship can go anywhere, anywhen. Bit of a rush though; so if you're happy at the Estate that will work quite-" he froze, his fingers still pressing the final button that was landing them in London.

"Doctor?" Harriet Jones asked, because no one else seemed quite brave enough. "Are you quite all right?"

"Shut up," he gestured fiercely. "All of you; don't make a sound, don't even breathe."

The party went silent, worried glances being exchanged around the console. Slowly he turned, reaching out and sliding his fingers through the quickly fading golden energy above his precious companion. A look of disbelief flittered across his face and he dropped to his knees, his fingers pressing firmly over her left breast.

Mickey moved to object, but, after a sharp glance from the Prime Minister, managed to hold his tongue.

"A heartbeat," he murmured. He looked up at the temporary travellers aboard his ship, a brilliant, mad smile spreading slowly across his face. "She's got a heartbeat!"

Her mother didn't even pretend to stifle her sudden sob at his words, flinging herself to the floor with almost enough force to knock him away. It was only nearly enough, of course, because nothing in the universe could have removed him from his position at that moment. He laughed a deep, hearty laugh as he took her hand, relishing how perfectly it fit in his own. Even unconscious, her fingers curled around him.

"She's alive!" he was grinning so broadly he thought his face might split. His hand cupped her cheek gently, a thrill running through him as his palm registered her temperature – still half a degree below where it should be, but a good cup of tea would sort that. Her pulse was growing stronger by the moment, and her breaths deeper. Jackie was clinging to her other hand, the woman's tears soaking the sleeve of Rose's dark pink hoodie.

The sheer joy he found in her functions was quickly tempered by fear – it had been so long, there could be…his thoughts spiralled, listing impossibly quickly the many, many things that could be wrong with her delicate human system.

"Jackie!" he interrupted sharply. The older woman looked up and he realized, quite suddenly, how exhausted she looked. He softened his voice as much as he could. "Jackie, I have to run tests. I need to find out what happened, be sure she's all right. You should go up to your flat and sleep."

The look she gave him was sheer disbelief. "If you think for even half a second –"

"We're not goin' anywhere," Mickey interrupted. He was standing just behind Jackie, his eyes flickering quickly between the rapidly pinking skin of his never-quite-officially-ex girlfriend, and the worried eyes of the Time Lord at her side.

"I need to concentrate to do this," the Doctor said, slowly, firmly. "I can't have you underfoot if there's somethin' wrong."

"I'm not leavin' this stupid bucket without my daughter, no matter what you say," Jackie repeated. "All right, you have to scan her with somethin' and don't want me 'round. I'll wait in the hall."

He nodded shortly and once again scooped Rose into his arms. "You don't come into the infirmary unless I say so," he shot a glance at Harriet and her aide and grinned. "London's just outside, safe to hop out."

"Thank you, Doctor," Harriet said, quite seriously. "You've saved my life again," she smiled. "Tell Rose, when she wakes up, to visit me someday. I'd very much like to see you both, in better conditions."

"Try an' avoid desperate situations and I'll see what I can do," he shot her one last smile before hurrying into the belly of the ship.

If the Doctor had not seen it for himself, he would never believe that Rose had ever been in less than perfect health. Every one of his scans and tests showed top condition – better, even, than she had been two weeks earlier. Most of them had been run thrice – a few had been run more than that. There was absolutely nothing wrong with her…except, of course, for the fact that she remained so thoroughly unconscious.

There was nothing physically wrong; he could not find a single thing to explain her inability to wake. There wasn't even evidence of the needles that had pierced her skin hours earlier; she was perfect.

He wanted desperately to just shake her until she opened her eyes and shouted at him to let her sleep. He had, in fact, attempted it once – and then quite quickly run through all the tests again, just in case he had accidentally damaged her.

He was taxing his ability to remain calm in the face of her continued silence. He felt twitchy, as if his skin was the wrong size and he was going to come bursting out of it at any moment. It would make for an interesting regeneration, he thought, a faint twist of his lips the only outward expression of his thoughts.

He ran his hand over her face, fingertips just barely ghosting her features. Carefully, very, very carefully, he erected layers of shields within his own mind. He was out of practice; never had this mind reached out to another in the way he was preparing to do. A cool lump of fear settled in his chest; he knew there was a possibility that his connections, unrefined and clumsy from disuse, could damage her irreparably.

But…to leave here where she was? Keep her here in the TARDIS indefinitely, a macabre reminder of a time, a brief, shining moment, when he had not felt so very alone? The next step was obvious, but his fingers shook a little as he placed them against her temples.

A hall appeared in his mind as he made contact with her skin. Her choice, he noted. Blue wooden panels, aged and in need of fresh paint – it made him smile. He crossed through the bridge and stepped into her mind.

The universe exploded. Every one of his senses was being pounded and abused by a thousand different stimuli, each one too potent to be processed in their own right. It was a swirling cloud of KNOWLEDGE that battered at his mind until he wanted to give up and run away – no. He would not, could not, leave now.

His shields had not been as strong as he liked to believe, he realized a bit belatedly. Though what portion of his pain was wrought simply by strained senses he could not say. Rose Tyler. Something shifted, the burden eased. He thought again, repeating her name, with the same results. He could imagine her reaction to this maelstrom of mind: fear, of course, and then fascination. She would want to know more about it; she would undoubtedly demand that they run headlong into danger – grinning like mad, all the while.

The storm, he realized quickly, had not abated after all. It had moved. He crawled – when had he fallen to his knees? – along the grate floors; he had no compass point, so he closed his eyes and kept moving. Direction had no real bearing in the mind, after all; it was a matter of finding the thought and holding tight. He thought of Rose.


He opened his eyes and frowned; he was in…nothing. It was a space that was not a space, in a room that was not a room. There was the faint impression of boundaries without any actual evidence of them, and nothing, not even him, could maintain precise clarity. He stood and dusted himself off, obtaining just a bit of dignity before he noticed that the fluffy pink duvet, situated above his feet and yet lacking in any reason for it to be so, had a rather large lump in the centre; a lump which, at the top, wrapped around a pair of very amused brown eyes.

"Rose?" his voice did not waver, to his extreme pride.

"Hello," she adjusted the covers, her nosed and mouth peering out now as well. "Bit of a storm out there, yeah?"

"Oh, that's nothin'," he told her seriously. He forced a smile. "You plannin' on sleepin' all day?"

"You know us humans," she grinned at him and hugged the violently pink covers tighter around her body – she was coming sharper into focus with every minute, the blurred lines coalescing more firmly to the face she should wear. "We'll sleep our lives away!"

He blanched. "Rose," he couldn't quite hold back the urgency in his voice. "You have to get up."

"Somethin' wrong?" she sat up, allowing her duvet to drop to her waist. His ears burned red and his eyes quite firmly shot to a point just above her head. She didn't seem to notice.

"Yeah, gotta get to the TARDIS," he replied, folding his arms tight across his chest.

"'S that a good idea?" she was completely disinterested in, or unaware of, her lack of clothing. It was a bad sign; it meant what few barriers she'd had left had failed her – all she had between herself and the maelstrom was this space…and him. "It sounds like hell out there."

"It is," he nodded. "Rose, do you trust me?"

"Yes," the reply was immediate. "With anything and everything."

"Then close your eyes, and do exactly what I tell you," he took her hand and she followed.

The light was shining at exactly the wrong angle. She was not quite positive that there was a right angle, but it was absolutely not this one. She wrinkled her nose and winced, moving her arm – why was it so sluggish? – to cross over her eyes. The light dimmed and moved away from her face.

She grimaced and slowly – very, very slowly – forced her eyes open. The Doctor's worried eyes swam into focus, though the rest of the room still seemed to have a soft focus lens on it.

He smiled, so sudden and brilliant that she could not help but echo it. "Hello," her voice cracked, making her brow crease just a little in puzzlement.

"Hello," he cradled her cheek gently. A straw was placed at her lips and she took only a small sip before it was pulled away. She frowned at him but he just shook his head and grinned. "More later, you greedy little thing. Too much and you'll be sick an' I'm not takin' care of you."

She stuck her tongue out at him good-naturedly. "What happened?"

"What do you remember?" he was hinging all of his attention on her; a reality that was quickly failing to live up to her happy dreams of the idea.

"Um," she hesitated and thought. "The Daleks," she said slowly, repeating her ideas aloud to be absolutely sure of their solidity. "I went home, to London – you sent me home," she corrected with a quick and fierce glare. He didn't look remotely apologetic. "I was eatin' chips," she continued. "Talkin' to Mickey an' Mum…an' then…I don't remember. How did you –"

"Oh, nothin' to worry about," he grinned again and stood up. "Just a bit of fancy talk an' jiggery-pokery – I told you I came first didn't I? Lots of talent, that's me."

She grinned and slowly pushed herself up on her elbows, wincing just a little. He was beside her again instantly, easing her up and propping her in place with pillows. "Why am I in the infirmary?"

"You got yourself hurt tryin' to come after me," he informed her steadily. "You're all right now."

"Oh," she frowned. "What did I do?"

"Doesn't matter," he shook his head. "Your mum's here, and Ricky. Both asleep, put them up in rooms."

Her face drained of colour and he had to grip her shoulders to keep her steady. "God, I nearly died, didn't I?"

"What?" he stared at her.

"You let my mum into the TARDIS," Rose said steadily. "You thought I was going to die."

He didn't say anything for a long moment. She met his eyes and started; surprised and not a little disturbed by the roiling emotions in his cerulean gaze. He let out a breath and quite suddenly sat beside her in the bed, crushing her against his chest. "Yes," he replied, voice half-choked.

She slid her arms under his jacket, gripping his jumper between her fingers. "I'm sorry," her voice was small. "I – I'm sorry."

"Just," he stopped, his face still pressed into her hair. "Never do that again," he requested. "Never make me do this again."

She nodded soundlessly, tightening her grip around his waist. She swore for a moment that she felt his lips against her hair – but then he was releasing her, and his face once again lit with a smile of pure joy. "Now I'm going to get your mum! I think she said somethin' about scarin' her half to death and ears deservin' a box?"

"Doctor, I thought you promised to protect me –" he was already out the door. "Oi, Doctor! That isn't fair!"

He stopped, just outside her line-of-sight, and listened to her grumble. He pressed a hand against the wall, feeling the reassuring hum under his fingertips and wondering how long it would take before he could leave a room and believe she would still be in it when he returned.

Another hum reverberated beneath his skin and with a sigh he moved down the hall toward the temporary quarters. It was nice to deliver good news for once – and he had a few very important things to discuss before they were allowed near his patient.