Title: Discordant (13/13)
Character/Pairing: Rose, Pete, Mickey, Jackie
Genre: Action/adventure, angst, drama, mystery, romance
Summary: Rose Tyler traveled through universes to get back to the Doctor. What did she see in those universes, and how did they affect her?
Disclaimer: I don't own Doctor Who.
Author's Notes: to JennyLD for the beta.
A car drove by, across the bridge, and Rose turned her back to the street, examining her hands. They weren't as bad as she'd first thought. Certainly the pain had lessened a great deal.
Climbing that hedge hadn't been nearly as difficult as she'd expected. The electricity was high enough that it should've stunned her, but it hadn't. Adrenaline and sheer determination were certainly a part of that reason, but not all. Maybe it was busted.
Glancing behind her, she kept her head down. The car was gone.
It probably wasn't anyone looking for her anyway, but she couldn't be too careful. Maybe they knew about this place. Knew that it was special to her, significant. Maybe they had people stationed all around it, waiting for her.
Darting her eyes about, she took note of every person in her path. An old man walking down the bridge toward her, cane tapping with every step. Three teenagers laughing across the way. She didn't think any of them were Santiago's men, but she couldn't be sure. Hiding her singed hands in the pockets of her hoodie, she ducked her head down and headed toward the Eye.
Hood up, she went down the stairs quickly, glancing over her shoulder to make sure no one was following her, then dropped beside the manhole.
It was tight, much tighter than when she'd come here months ago.
Straightening up, she checked again to make sure she wasn't being observed, then dropped back down to her knees and yanked as hard as she could. The handle turned with a loud screech and she quickly opened the hatch, dropping down into the bowels of the London Eye before anyone noticed her. It was darker down here, but the path was a familiar one; one she'd taken several times before.
Once with the Doctor and once on her own. She hurried along the pathways, shivering, keeping her eyes cast down and her aching hands in her pockets. Avoiding looking at the Doctor as he trailed along beside her.
"Rose, you can still go back. Please. I just... I need you to go back."
She ignored him, knowing he was with them. With the doctors. He wanted her to stay stuck in that institution for the rest of her life. Wanted her locked up just like Brons and Santiago and Pete did. She knew the truth.
Thankfully they hadn't got to her mum yet. Sighing, she brushed away a few stray tears. She was never gonna see her again. She'd never smell her soft scent or hear her familiar voice. Never see Tony again either.
Crying harder now, she went down another ladder and crossed to the spot where the Doctor had talked with the Nestene Consciousness all those years ago.
It was just like it was in the other universe. Only this time there was no Doctor.
"I'm right here, Rose."
She didn't look at him, his brown pinstriped suit was a lie. He was a lie. "You're not the Doctor." She sniffed sharply, digging into the wall, pulling out the jumper she'd hidden there months before. "You don't even look like him."
Brown trousers stepped up beside her and she stood up, turning her back on him as she grabbed a piece of sharp metal. "I told you not to do this. Do you remember? Back at your flat. Think, Rose."
She scoffed rudely and pried at the little door on the jumper with the piece of metal. If she were right, there was a computer chip in there that she needed to set. The back of the plastic casing popped off and she stared down at the miscellaneous components. This wasn't what she'd been expecting, but... it would work.
"Rose... Rose, I'm begging you, don't do this."
Ignoring him, she took a deep breath, grabbed the piece of metal tightly in her hand and breathed out, then in again, then dug the sharp end into her skin about eight inches above her wrist. Pain tore through her and she screamed, throwing her head back as she dragged the bit of metal down the side of her arm, avoiding major veins, all the way to her wrist.
"Rose," he whispered mournfully.
Gasping, trying to breathe past the pain, she dropped the bloodied metal to the floor and watched as blood streamed down her arm. It hurt, was incredibly painful, and yet, didn't feel like she'd thought it would.
Staring at the tear in her skin, she saw small, shining bits of plastic inside. Her retrieval device.
Curling her lip up in disgust, she dug into the wound and screamed again. Her fingers felt like sandpaper against her raw, open flesh. She touched nerve endings, and bone and had to force herself to keep a grip on the slippery piece of plastic. But then she was pulling it free and it slipped from her arm with a squelching sound.
When she looked up, she was alone.
Setting the device carefully on the ground, she shed herself of her hoodie and outer shirt, then drew off her t-shirt, awkwardly pulling this way and that to get it off before grabbing her makeshift tool again. She held the shirt between her teeth and her knees and stabbed at the stretchy white material, dragging the metal down, tearing into the fabric.
Once she reached the end, she twisted the shirt around a few inches and did it again, making a strip. Wrapping that quickly around her arm, she tied it once, pulling it with her teeth, and then again. She tasted blood, and wiped her mouth with her other hand.
She was sweating and shaking.
Dropping the metal, she picked up the retrieval device and used the rest of her t-shirt to wipe it free of blood and dirt. There, on one side was a set of numbers. Her last jump.
She picked up the jumper and the piece of metal and went about setting the coordinates for the last planet she'd jumped to; Eric's jumper was her ticket home.
When she was done, she flipped the retrieval device over and pried off the casing, fingers slipping in the blood still covering it. Grabbing her t-shirt, she carefully wiped it clean, and tried again, using her nails to slip under the smooth edge that she knew was there. Santiago had shown them the device before implanting it into their arms. She knew how it worked and knew how to shut if off.
All she had to do was open the casing and touch something sharp to the tiny red switch inside.
Gritting her teeth as she pulled, she grunted when it finally flew open, stopped by the small inside hinges that allowed it to seal itself tight. The tip of the metal was just a little too big and she managed to touch a few other doodads in the process. Didn't matter. She'd take it with her just in case, but she didn't intend to use it.
The Doctor was waiting for her in her real universe, her proper universe.
Shutting the casing, she shoved the retrieval device into her jean pocket and stood up, slipping her arms back into her shirt and hoodie. She did the zip all the way up, patted her pocket to make sure her journal was still there, then pulled the hood back over her head. This was it; it was now or never.
If she took too long to think about it, she might lose her nerve.
She knew that the last jump had been her home universe. She knew that the Doctor had been there. But she might've got the coordinates wrong. Might've screwed something up in taking one apart and the other out of her arm.
If she didn't do this, she'd be miserable the rest of her life, locked up in some loony bin.
Now, she thought, looking at her bloodied arm, they couldn't pull her back.
Kicking the bloodied pieces of metal into the pit, she stood on the edge, watching as they fell. A plunking sound reached her ears when they hit the bottom. Feeling a bit woozy, she stepped back, catching herself on the railing.
Now or never.
Connecting the back of the jumper to itself, she paused a moment, looking around at Pete's world one last time, then slapped her hand over the button.
She wasn't used to the feelings anymore, and she hadn't prepared herself, so when she felt the tugging, and the tugging turned into pulling, the pulling into tearing, she screamed. Her arm was the least of her pains. Her entire body felt like it was being torn to shreds and then squashed back together again in all the wrong ways.
Then she was falling, dropping, landing hard on her back on the metal flooring underneath the London Eye.
She caught her breath with a gasp, drawing in air like a drowning victim, sucking in as much as she could as her body continued to reshape itself.
Then it all faded, all but her previous aches and pains and major flesh wounds.
Opening her eyes, she saw the familiar ceiling, saw the red glow she'd just left, and-- inhaling, she closed her eyes and concentrated. This... this was a different universe. Different smells. Different sounds.
Rolling to her side, she looked over the edge. She didn't know if it was her imagination or not, but she thought she could see little bits of exploded Nestene Consciousness all over down there.
Chuckling, she pushed to her knees, then her feet, hanging on to the railing to drag herself up.
She bent down to grab the jumper and nearly fell face first back to the floor, but managed to stay upright through sheer force of will. Sticking the device in her hoodie pocket, she took one last look around, then ran up the metal stairs to the top. Down the narrow walkway, up the ladder and--twisting the handle awkwardly with one good arm and one bad--into the bright sunshine of a beautiful autumn day.
Laughing, she slammed the cover down and spun in a slow circle, staring up at the empty sky.
"I'm home," she whispered, gaze darting to everything she could feast them on, then she threw her arms up and shouted. "I'm home!"
"Yeah, yeah," a voice said to her right. "Pipe down, we're all home. Whoopededoo."
Dropping her arms, she smiled at the man, not letting his dower manner bring her down, then dashed up the steps. Cars zoomed past and she grinned for a second before patting down her pockets, looking for her mobile. Hoodie pockets, nothing. Jeans, no.
She'd had the foresight to grab her journal from under the mattress while her mum was in the loo, had even shoved it in the waistband of her jeans, but she didn't have her mobile. She'd left it behind. It was with her stuff at the institution, if even there. Her mum had probably taken it home. But it didn't matter because it wasn't here with her. She didn't have a way to contact the Doctor.
Panic shot through her, burrowing into her heart as she realized that she might've traded one prison for another. He might never come back here. Might never come to a place or time where she was.
She still might never see him again.
Shoving her hood back, she leaned over, fighting nausea. Tears filled her eyes and she let them flow. there was no sense holding them back anymore. Misery filled her up, leaving behind no room for anything else. Retching, she threw up a little and stumbled back. Straight into someone.
"Excuse me, you all right?" the woman asked, holding Rose's back to steady her.
Rose shook her head. "I can't find the Doctor." She raised her head, lip trembling. "I finally made it home, and now I've lost the Doctor." Swallowing down the tears, and the bile in the back of her throat, she grabbed the woman's wrist, startling her, but Rose barely noticed. "Do you-- do you know where I can find the Doctor?"
"I-- I'm sorry," the woman stammered, prying at Rose's grip. Her wide eyes searched the cars and people around them, looking nearly as panicked as Rose felt. "I don't... do you need a doctor?" She pulled her mobile out of her purse and held it out. "I can call an ambulance." She whimpered and bent down a little. "Please, miss, you're hurting me."
Rose released her arm and spun away. She was no help. She didn't know the Doctor. Grabbing a man walking by, she stopped him. "Have you seen the Doctor?" Her head was beginning to pound, and with a sinking heart, she heard a familiar voice behind her.
"Rose, I told you not to do this."
She glanced behind her at the phony Doctor. "Shut up," she told him, releasing the man and spinning toward the fake Doctor, pointing her finger at him, forcing him to walk backward away from her. "You're not him, stop pretending you are."
The man she'd grabbed went around her in a wide circle. "You're mental, you are."
A couple of women gave her a wide berth, but she ran after them. "D'you know where the Doctor is? Have you seen him?" she asked the brunette, then turned to the blonde. "I need to find him. He doesn't know I'm here. He'll want to know." They continued to walk and she walked backward in front of them.
The blonde made a disgusted sound and hurried past her. "Come on, Sharon."
Tears burned her eyes and she grabbed at another person and another, trying to get them to understand, trying to get them to hear her, but they didn't care. People were hurrying by her now, crossing as far away from her as possible, trying to avoid her. She wanted to scream, to be heard, but no one was paying her any attention.
"Miss, are you all right?" a man called, and she spun toward him.
As soon as she saw his uniform, she backed away. "I'm fine," she told the policeman, pulling her hood over her head and trying to walk the other way, but his hand on her arm stopped her. She flinched and jerked away, cradling her arm to her chest. "Leave me alone."
"You're bleeding," he said in a nice, calm manner, reaching out to take her arm. She let him, and he wrapped his fingers loosely around her wrist, gently pulling the sleeve up and out of the wound. "Did you..." he sucked in a breath, and grabbed her other wrist to keep her in place when she tried to pull away.
The Doctor stood beside him, watching as he pulled the t-shirt free. "He thinks you're mental, Rose. Thinks you tried to off yourself. Now you'll be locked up in this universe."
Rose jerked her arm back and glared at the Doctor. "That's not true. I didn't try to kill myself."
The cop frowned at her, then at the Doctor. "Who're you talking to?"
"The fake Doctor," she muttered, pulling at her other arm. "Can I go now?"
"You do this to yourself?" he asked, untying the t-shirt and exposing the wound in her arm with another sucked in breath. "You need a doctor, miss, right away. This is deep. Come on."
The Doctor slipped his hands in his pockets, peering at her sadly. "I told you this would happen."
Rose tried to free herself again, but the cop held her tightly while dragging her along.
"Charlie!" he called out, heading toward a squad car parked down the street with a man in it. "Little help here?"
Charlie got out of the car and Rose shook her head, fighting the cop's grip even harder now. "No, you can't take me in, he'll never find me in there. I can't go back there. Please, don't take me to Torchwood. Please!" she screamed, twisting her body this way and that as Cop and Charlie tried to subdue her. "Don't take me to Torchwood. I need to find the Doctor! Please!"
She began to get dizzy, seeing all the people surrounding them. Seeing all the faces watching them struggle, none of them caring about her. They thought she was mental too, but she wasn't. She wasn't!
"The Doctor! I've got to find the TARDIS!"
"Miss," Charlie gasped, wrestling her body to the ground until she was on her stomach on the walk, journal pressing into her abdomen. "Calm down. We'll get you to a doctor."
But they didn't understand. Not just any doctor, she needed her Doctor. The Doctor.
When Cop put his knee into her back and Charlie grabbed her uncut arm, she screamed in pain. Startled, Charlie tightened his grip on her, making Cop dig even deeper into her bruised back.
The Doctor watched it all from a few feet away, watched through his stupid glasses.
As darkness settled into her vision, she laid her head on the sidewalk, thinking to herself, the Doctor doesn't even wear glasses.