"Oh, dear, Doctor, darling Donna's definitely deceased," said the voice. "Disastrous, disappointing, disgusting, isn't it?"
That was the last straw. The Doctor pulled out the sonic screwdriver, slid it up to its very highest setting, pointed it at the voice, and pressed the button.
There was a howl of pain, and the door flew open. In a split second, he was on his feet and running. He ran across the now-empty room and into the machine room.
Rose was pointing her pen at the machine that had Donna and evading another one that was trying to get her. "Let go of her!" she shouted. "Let go!"
The Doctor stood behind her and pointed the sonic over her shoulder. The machine dropped Donna. Both of them ran forward and picked her up, and they ran.
"This way!" he shouted as they sprinted out of the building. The Cybermen were already in the streets, and the sounds of screams nearly drowned everything out.
He dragged Donna to the TARDIS. As soon as the doors closed, Rose left the console room and began wordlessly gathering a pile of random bits of hardware.
"What are you doing?" he asked her.
She shook her head mutely and dumped another armload of junk on her rapidly accumulating heap of electronics.
He stood in her way as she headed for another door.
"Would you mind moving?" she asked in a cool, emotionless voice. "I need to get through."
He didn't show how muc the words hurt him, didn't flinch at the coldness in his own voice. He just held her hard gaze and didn't move an inch.
Her eyes widened a fraction of a degree. A degree? Did eyes widen in degrees?
"Did you just tell me to get out?"
"You just told me...to get out. Of the TARDIS."
"Yes, I bloody well did just tell you to get out of my TARDIS!"
She looked at him, and her mouth opened slightly. Her face had gone pale, but she didn't quite believe or understand.
"Are you asking me to leave?"
"You, the Doctor, are asking me, Rose Tyler, to leave."
"I don't know who you are, but you're not Rose Tyler."
"What do you mean?"
"I mean that rose Tyler isn't like this. Rose isn't cold. Rose isn't hard. Rose doesn't not talk to me."
"I can't save everyone," she whispered. He was startled. This wasn't the steely young woman who'd been there a second ago. "Oh, God, I wish I could, but I can't save everyone. I'm just asking you this one thing, to let me save this one person, and then I'll get out, if you want, I swear I will. Just let me do my best to save Donna. Please. She's like my sister."
This had all been mumbled to the floor. Now she raised her head. Her eyes had gone soft, like chocolate, and he could see the blue light of the TARDIS's central column reflected in the glimmer of tears. And just like that, the doors, the walls, the defenses he'd built to keep everyone else out, all fell, and his hearts melted all over again.
He stood aside and watched as Rose Tyler put things right, like she always did.
Fifteen minutes later, some sort of machine had been constructed around the central console. The wires were attached to all sorts of things, and a lot of the contraption looked like it had been made from the pieces of the med bay equipment. Having watched Rose putting it together, the Doctor would guess it probably had been.
Rose threw the switch, and he heard the hum as energy began to pour into the wires. "What is that?" he asked.
"Hopefully, her lifeline," Rose said, and came to stand next to him, watching it.
"We need a plan," he said.
"We have to stop the Cybermen."
"What are we going to do?"
She turned to look up at him, shaking her head. "I have no idea."
"Maybe we should find a way to sever the power source and shut them all down at once."
Two head turned to stare at the redhead, sitting up on the floor of the TARDIS.
"What?" the Doctor asked, gaping like a fish.
"And why," Donna said, annoyed, "am I full of needles?!"
Rose gave a little scream of joy and threw her arms around the Doctor.
"Um — what?" was all he could think to say, looking from Rose to Donna and back.
"DID ANYONE HEAR ME?" Donna shouted.
Rose ran over and began disconnecting Donna from her machine.
"What?" asked the Doctor.
"Honestly! Am I the only one who can think of any real ideas?" Donna demanded. "Or are you two just too lovesick to use your heads?"
Both of them went red. "I — no — what?" the Doctor sputtered.
Donna ripped a fistful of tubes and wires out of her arm and struggled to her feet. "Whoa!" At once, she toppled comically sideways. It would have been incredibly amusing, would have made all three of them laugh, had the situation not been so dire.
"The floor's moving!" Donna squawked. "What the hell is going on? Your floor is moving!"
"Donna, Donna, shh, calm down," Rose said.
"Calm down? Calm down? The floor! Is moving!"
"The floor...isn't moving." Rose grabbed Donna's hands and helped the redhead to her feet. "I thought the same thing. I was afraid there was an earthquake! It'll take a few hours before you can stand, trust me, and another few before you can walk. It's been years for me, and I still have a hard time adjusting to various conditions."
"What are you on about?" the Doctor asked, completely and totally lost.
"Just tell us what to do," Rose went on, ignoring him.
"Well, first I'll need--"
There was a lot of banging and hammering at the door, interrupting them. This was followed by a clearly audible curse, a clattering, and a far-too-loud shout of, "Ha!"
The doors burst open.
A man in a blue army coat stood there, with a huge gun in both arms. As he was about to step in, a burst of light flared up behind him and a laser blast hit him in the shoulder. He staggered forward, howling in pain and swearing loudly, turned and fired twice at his attacker, and kicked the doors closed.
Jack Harkness dropped his gun, straightened, and turned around, clenching his teeth against the pain and rubbing his shoulder. He froze, his hand still across his chest, at the scene before him.
Donna Noble was glaring up at him as she lay on her stomach on the floor. The Doctor leaned against the control panel, arms folded, an unimpressed look on his face. Only Rose, who was the last person he'd have expected to see, looked happy he was there. A slight smile was across her face, somewhere between glad to see him and amused at his entrance.
"Well, hello, everyone," he said, trying his best to sound cool, casual, and confident. It was hard when he'd just been shot in the shoulder and was to the point of wishing it had just killed him, because then he'd wake up and it wouldn't hurt.
Donna said something that sounded like, "Oh, God," and the Doctor, at the same time, said, "Stop it, Jack, just stop it."
"Don't argue," Rose cut in hurriedly. "Donna, listen, how do you think we can cut off the power?"
"Well, what have we got?"
"Um," said the Doctor. "Sonic screwdriver."
"I've got this," Jack said, lifting his gun. "It kills Cybermen like that."
"Right, and Rose, you've got...whatever that is..."
Rose grinned as she pulled out the pen. "Lightning pen!" she said in a sing-song voice.
Donna grinned too. "Brilliant. Now, it'll be down in the basement."
"Jack, you should stand guard," the Doctor said. "Don't mean to force it on you, but...you're the one who can stop them."
"I've got my phone," Rose offered. "Donna, you've got a mobile, can we talk over that and you can tell me what to do?"
"And I'll do whatever she's not doing," the Doctor finished.
"Let's go, team!" Jack cheered, and they slapped hands.
"Oi!" said Donna. "What's with me not being part of the team? Just because I can't stand up is no excuse to exclude me, Spaceboy!"
Everyone laughed at that, which made her scowl even more ferocious. "Oh, just get on with it," she said, annoyed. "We've got all of London to save!"
* * *
Back in the basement, Rose and the Doctor crept forwards, while Jack stood by the door, his huge gun at the ready.
Rose had a backpack ful of tools and her lightning pen. The Doctor had his sonic screwdriver in one hand and Rose's torch in the other. He shone the bright light around the back room. No one was there, but he hadn't really expected the mastermidn to have remained. There were several switchboards. Her flashed the torch around in front of him, then over his shoulder.
"Ow! What did you do that for? You great big outer-space git!"
"Sorry," he said, somehow with his powers of Time-Lord-iness managed to pull off a spectacular show of honesty.
"You are not," she said, but her voice was light, cheerful.
"Right, moving on," Donn said over the phone. "What's going on?"
"Hold on, I've got to make him hold the torch in once place. Doctor! I can't give Donna a report if you keep swinging the light around like that!"
He shone the torch on the control panel.
"Alright, so there's some controls..."
The light moved to her other side, revealing more of the same. "On both sides," she finished.
"Okay. The Doctor will know what to do; you take one side and have him do the other."
She moved over to the left control panel. "Take the other side," she ordered.
"Right," he said, and stepped over to it. "Hand me stuff, yes?"
"Sure," she said absently.
Donna began bossing her around, asking for details of exactly what the control panel looked like ("Yes, it matters what color it is!"), while the Doctor called out for random objects from the backpack.
She handed it over and described a tangle of wires to Donna.
"Yeah, or a staple, or a hairpin, or something."
She pulled out her earring, glad she'd chosen to wear hooks, and handed it to him.
"What's this? This isn't a paperclip."
"Will it work?"
"What was that about?"
"Sorry, Donna, bit of confusion about a paperclip."
"I heard that bit," she said dryly. "So, what's the lever look like?"
Hours might have passed, or minutes. Rose worked diligently, fervently, her hands quick and steady. When Donna wasn't bossing her around, she put the phone down and talked softly to the Doctor.
"So, what was with you?" His voice faltered. "Earlier?"
She didn't answer for a moment, but the tears welled up in her eyes right away.
"If you want to talk about it," he added hastily. "I mean, you don't have to, if you don't want to..."
"They're dead," she said softly.
"I — sorry?"
"They're all dead," she echoed, her voice hollow. "Mum, Dad, Tony. John..."
"I'm so sorry," he whispered. "What happened?"
"How long has it been, for you?"
She laughed sadly. "Longer than you think." There was silence. "And you?"
"Five years." He didn't tell her that it was five years alone, five years that he'd drifted, aimless, hopeless, in the Vortex. He didn't tell her that it had taken him five years for his hearts to heal crooked.
"You haven't changed."
"Neither have you."
He set down his tools and moved to sit next to her on the floor. "Rose."
She focused on the task at hand.
"Rose, look at me."
She didn't look up.
He took her hands. she pulled away. "Rose, tell me the truth. How long has it been?"
She didn't answer, but a tear slid down her nose and fell to the panel. "Ow!" she said, as a strong jolt jumped from the wires to her hand.
He put his arms around her shoulders and pulled her away from the controls. "Rose," he whispered, "whatever you've done, it saved your live, and Donna's, and..." He swallowed. "And mine."
"Can you feel it?"
He closed his eyes and concentrated, and he knew what she meant.
"I can," he told her.
There was a moment of silence, and then he added, in a whisper, "Thank you."
She ducked out of his embrace and turned to look at him, determined, strong. Rose, so stubborn, so proud. She was her mother's daughter.
She turned back to the controls and pulled just the right wire.
For a moment, everything seemed frozen.
She grabed his hand and beamed up at her, the pain of a moment ago gone from her face. "Run!"
His face broke into the first real smile he'd felt in five years, and he sprinted after her. He heard the laughter echoing up the stairs as Jack followed close behind.
The Cybermen lay in the street, no more than steel shells. Faces peered out of windows, people cautiously looked out of doors. The sun was setting, making London appear golden.
The three of them walked back to the TARDIS, all grinning.
The world kept turning.
For the first time in years, Rose Tyler was happy.
A/N: So, there it is! Jack, Donna, Rose, and the Doctor, all ready to go off on an adventure. Hope you all enjoyed it! And by the way, of course it'll be 10Rose — I mean, who are oyu kidding? I'm writing it! —but it will not be DonnaJack. Sorry if you were hoping it was, you're welcome if you're glad it's not, and watch out for the TRAILER tomorrow!