Title: Into the Woods
Spoilers: Just to be safe let's say everything up to JE.
Disclaimer: I don't own them and I make no money off of them (if anything it's the other way around)
Authors Note: This is my first multi-chapter Doctor Who fic, I made sure to finish writing the whole thing before posting to make sure I did, in fact, finish writing it. So that means I'll be updating it every week.
Thank you to my amazing beta lj user="mik109" who doesn't really watch Doctor Who but was immensely helpful anyhow. You and you're bat are a big reason this got finished on time.
It wasn't fair. That was the first thought that popped into her head no matter how childish it was, and she was anything but a child. She was far from it in fact, which was something she would share with anyone who tried to tell her otherwise and with a great deal of passion if she was so inclined. No, Maren was not childish, regardless of being only three months shy of seven-years-old, or anything her brother would tell you.
The truth was Maren had always been something of a clever girl and because of that had always felt she was far older than her actual six years of age would lead a person to believe. This was a belief she had held ever since her father had made the very same observation out loud one fateful night during her usual bedtime story.
That night had begun like any other for Maren. Her father had come home and took her upstairs and tucked her into bed and asked her which story she wanted to hear. She had just begun to explain to her father how her brother had insisted bedtime stories were for babies and not, in fact, real at all, and she should spend her time doing better things when the screaming from outside had begun.
Her brother said the creatures that had attacked their town were not actually monsters at all, but simply humans who were turned into robots. She had later decided that that simply wasn't true, and the things that had rushed out of the forest like a nightmare and killed her father as well as several other people from the town had been exactly what they looked like, large metal monsters. This observation did little to convince her brother though, and they oftentimes argued about it.
It was one of these such arguments that had led her to the opening of the cave, a monstrous thing not far from the edge of the forest. She wasn't frightened as she stared down the hole in the earth that reminded her of a gaping mouth for some reason, even though tales of goblins and trolls rang in her ears. No, not scared at all. She was merely curious.
The sun flitted through the autumn leaves in the trees casting small beams of light into the dark recesses of the cave, making something within sparkle and shimmer in the light. It was almost as though the rock walls were covered in small diamonds, or perhaps a thin layer of saliva on the off chance this actually was the mouth of some huge beastie.
She stopped fiddling with the necklace her father had given her on her last birthday and straightened her shoulders mentally preparing herself for the adventure the cave promised. Just as she was about to set foot inside the cave she found herself stopped by a hand on her shoulder. It was this hand, one attached to her brother, which caused her thoughts to focus solely on a mantra of "this isn't fair".
"What do you think you're doing?" He chided his little sister who stood glaring up at him for all she was worth. "Mom's told you a thousand times you aren't supposed to play in the woods alone. You could get hurt, or worse you could get me in trouble." He explained angrily as he turned his sister around and began to march her back towards the town and their house.
"You wouldn't get in trouble! I came out here on my own." She explained dejectedly as she let Jonas lead her back towards their house. "Besides I wasn't doing anything wrong."
"You were in the woods and mom told you not to be. That makes it wrong."
Maren glanced back towards her brother as best she could with both his hands firmly placed on her shoulders. "You play in the woods."
"That's different." He said and continued their march back towards their house. When he realized Maren was still straining her neck to send him a sad look over her shoulder, he grudgingly added, "She doesn't tell me not to play in the woods.".
"I'm not talking to you." She decided aloud as she attempted to dig her heels in and stop their forward progress. It didn't work.
"Well, you can go ahead and not talk to me all the way back home." Her brother replied simply as he pushed forward a little harder causing young Maren to move forward as well.
"I don't want to go back home."
"Oh, look, you're talking to me, and it only took a few seconds to get there. How nice."
Maren sighed and turned to look forward again as she was lead onward a few more meters. "I found something in the woods." She said quietly, "It looked like a lair for an evil witch."
With a roll of his eyes and a deep groan, her brother stopped and spun Maren around so they could look at each other. "No, you didn't, because there's no such thing. Fairytales aren't real, Maren, and those 'Metal Monsters' you're always talking about didn't escape from one of them. They were Cybermen. When are you going to just accept that bad things happen sometimes? Dad's gone and it isn't because of one of those fairytales you're so obsessed with." He finished angrily finally letting go of his sister's shoulders so he could cross his arms across his chest.
Maren glared at her older brother for all she was worth before she spun on her heel and took off into the woods again.
The momentary shock of watching his young sister turn and run off in a seemingly random direction caused Jonas to stare and his mind to begin his own version of 'this isn't fair.' The shock wore off quickly enough though, and he ran after her.
Maren ran as fast as her legs would take her without one thought as to what direction she was running in. The thing her brother didn't realize was that she had found something interesting in the woods, something that shouldn't be in the woods, it didn't even belong in that world. And the thing that Maren didn't realize was that what she thought she had found was only a small part of it, and that she was currently running right into the middle of something much bigger.
And then there were two. Well, and Jackie. But she was far enough back she didn't really register and so she shouldn't really count should she? That was all besides the point anyway. The point was that they were left behind, out on a lonely beach in Norway.
He really hated this beach. It was strange to hate a place so completely, especially one he had only ever visited once before now. Even stranger when it doubled as the location of one of the best moments in his recent history. Though really all of his history was recent, wasn't it? He was born, he helped save reality, he wiped-out the Daleks, he helped tow Earth back to the Milky Way, and then he was dropped off in a parallel universe to live out a happily ever after with the love of his life.
As he looked into her eyes, eyes that for all intents and purposes had haunted him for two years now, he realized something the other him had never even considered. He didn't blame the other him for it. Had their positions been reversed, he truly doubted he would have taken it into consideration either, but the fact remained that he had effectively just done the one thing he had promised Rose he would never do. He had left her behind.
There was only so much one could say with their eyes and he was fairly certain 'I'm sorry a duplicate me abandoned you on a cold beach in Norway in a parallel world where he effectively cut you off from himself for good…again…' was one of those things that would get lost in translation.
Rose looked away from the man holding her hand to stare at the shallow dent in the sand left by the recently departed TARDIS. "It's like every time I'm on this beach you break my heart." She said quietly, eyes still locked on the empty space.
His eyes fell to the beach, finally looking away from her sad face. He did seem to be annoyingly good at breaking her heart.
He was an idiot if he thought this would turn out differently. Honestly, what had he expected her to do? Say 'toodle pip have a good life while I shack up with a copy of you and have that brilliant life I always wanted but couldn't have because you have deeply rooted relationship issues' and then waltz off into the sunset like this was some sort of demented fairytale? That never would have happened. Rose had never wanted him to be alone, and she never would. Even if he had completely regenerated and looked like a brand new man, she wouldn't have wanted to let him go on that beach. Of course, that's why he did what he did.
Rose, his brilliant beautiful Rose, she really was too good for him. She'd always been too good for him. Now, he'd gone and tricked her into staying in a parallel world with the new him, and he wasn't entirely sure she would forgive him for that when she realized it. He was even less sure he would ever forgive himself.
The two of them stood stiffly there on the beach. Eyes fixed on the square indent in the sand in front of them. Hands still clasped together, though neither of them really registered that.
"So what do we do now?"
His single human heart seemed to skip a beat. She said we. He hadn't expected her to not say we, or, well to be more accurate, he didn't expect her to not want to say we. However, it didn't make it any less thrilling to hear her actually say it, especially considering the current track of his thoughts.
"Well…I suppose we go back, join your mother," he said jerking his head back towards unusually quiet Jackie, "and wait to get a ride."
He made sure to keep his answer short and just vague enough to let her know that he didn't presume to jump back into her life right where they had left off, even if she had just snogged him senseless and said we. Regardless of what the other him asked of her, even though he knew she would simply because of that, she didn't have to watch after him.
He might be the same man, in spite of the human DNA now swimming its way about in his body, but that wouldn't change the fact that he had lived two whole years without her in his life. Two years of adventures and trouble and an almost bone aching sense of sadness from the lack of her at his side. The same could be mostly likely be said for her, though the time frame was probably different what with Pete's world moving faster than his own.
Come to think of it, he really had no idea how long it had been for her since that day at Canary Wharf. He had lived two years, even if the rest of the world had only lived one, since the Daleks had broken through the void and the Cybermen from Pete's world had made their attempt at invasion. He would have to ask sometime, though he doubted he would like the answer.
He would also have to start referring to this world as something other than Pete's world because it was, after all, now his world as well. Maybe he should just come up with a name for the other world, the correct one. He grimaced to himself at the thought. It wouldn't do to start thinking about everything like that. The real world or the right one, he was here, and so was Rose…and that made it the right one to be in regardless of where he had been born.
Rose turned to look at him, the same slightly confused and sad look on her face that was there as the TARDIS disappeared from both of their lives forever. "And then?" She asked quietly almost as if she didn't really want the answer to her question.
"And then…" he started, having to look away from her eyes because he couldn't ignore the loss he saw there. "We'll figure it out." He finished answering her quietly, squeezing her hand tightly as though he could drown out every fear he had about her leaving him if he could only hold onto her tight enough.
Rose opened her mouth as if she were about to say something but the words never came, instead she chose to stare down at their still entwined hands. It wasn't until he noticed that her eyes were no longer fixed on him that the Doctor looked up, and he would have given anything to know what she was thinking at that moment.
"I got hold of your father. Everything's fine." Explained a voice from behind them.
Ah, Jackie. Had it been any other time, he probably would have muttered something rude under his breath and plastered on a fake grin to keep her at bay. As it was, he was rather thankful for the interruption.
"Said all the planets are comin' back an' the void is practically all sealed up again." She explained as she walked towards the two. She had tried to stay out of their way so they could start working things out, but it was the middle of fall and this bloody beach was freezing. All of her good intentions had blown away with the wind whipping around them.
"How long's it been since the planets started showing up again?" Rose asked turning away from the Doctor, obviously intent on ignoring whatever it was she had been about to say to him.
Jackie shook her head as she walked over to the pair. "Don't know. Didn't ask. It was hard enough to ask him how Tony was an' tell him where we were with all the noise in the background. Said Torchwood is going crazy. S'like they're throwin' a giant party."
"An 'all of reality didn't cease to exist' party," The Doctor said with a small quirk of his lips.
"Yeah, well, sounds like your kind of party then." Jackie said trying to keep herself from rolling her eyes at him. Honestly, the pair of them were ridiculous. After everything they had gone through to get back together, they were going to just pretend nothing had happened, and that they were both fine when they clearly weren't. The two of them were impossible, and now, she was going to be stuck with the both of them. "He said we could get back on the next zeppelin out of here." She mentally began tallying how long she thought it would be until one of them said that they would be 'fine'.
"In three days. Over in Bergen." Jackie said, giving her daughter a sad look. Three days until she would get to see her son and her husband again. What was worse was it was going to be three days with the two of them moping about and trying to ignore talking about their feelings. Jackie found herself momentarily cursing the parallel world she found herself living in. Why couldn't they have airplanes like any decent universe? She was going to go mental waiting for that damn balloon.
"Bergen?" The Doctor asked, his face scrunching up not unlike a fish out of water. "That's over 50 miles from here."
"Well, there's a town not far from here."
"S'where we stayed last time we were here," Rose explained further, carefully ignoring the sad look he gave her when he realized what she had meant by the last time. "Should be able to make it there before dark."
"Right…well, we better get a move on then. Allons-y." he said with a forced kind of lightheartedness.
As the three of them turned to make their way off of the beach, for what he honestly hoped was the last time ever because really the last thing he needed was to see that beach again. He noticed Rose was walking slightly ahead of both he and her mother, her shoulders were slightly slumped, but he couldn't exactly tell if that was from her current state of mind or from the mostly uphill climb they were trudging to get off the afore mentioned blasted beach.
She didn't exactly seem interested in talking about… well anything really. Which was more than fine with him; Donna hadn't changed him that much. Still, after their rather unique reunion and saving all of reality and being abandoned in a parallel universe together, maybe a good chat was exactly what they needed. And by good chat, he preferred it be one they could have without worrying about her mother overhearing the entire exchange.
"You okay then?" A voice asked from beside him, snapping him out of his own thoughts rather effectively, as Jackie often did.
"Of course I am." He answered quickly. While he was somewhat glad to be relieved from his, often times, distressing thoughts, it didn't change the fact that he felt he rather needed to be alone with them currently. They would be walking for a while, or at least he assumed they would be since neither of the Tyler women had actually told him how far away the town they were headed for was, and he really needed to plan out what he was going to say to Rose once they got there.
The two continued walking in silence for a few moments.
"Why wouldn't I be?" He asked suddenly, after all being left alone to one's own thoughts was completely overrated. Besides, he never was one to ignore a comment like that, least of all one from Jackie. "Do I look unwell?"
"No," she said with a small frown and a shake of her head. "S'just… last time you were out all Christmas Eve." She explained as she watched him out of the corner of her eye.
"Oh, no." He said with a small shake of his head. "Won't happen this time. Only reason it happened last time was because of the time vortex. It's very hard to completely expel that amount of energy, believe it or not. Some of it got trapped, that's all. Like when the hull of a piece of popcorn gets stuck between your teeth, I hate when that happens. It just gets stuck down there and you can feel it but you can't get it out it's…horrible."
"So you still talk too much then." Jackie said with a small smirk.
"Oy!" The Doctor exclaimed indignantly as he stopped in his tracks. He watched the still retreating backs of the two women, a deep frown on his face. "I do not now, nor have I ever, talked too much."
AN2: I spent my entire winter break writing this story and it turned into a miniepic (not intentional at all mind you) and I usually do long chapters, between 4-8 thousand words which has gotten me a few complaints in the past so this is the first time I went through and split up my chapters into smaller, bite-sized chunks. I hope that works for everyone.