Title: Into the Woods (21/21)
Genre: Romance and fluff for this chapter
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)
Summary: After being left on the beach the Doctor, Rose and Jackie are forced to stay overnight in a small Norway village until they can get home, but something strange is happening in the quiet town.
Authors Note: It's going to be at the end of the chapter since I'm sure I'll ramble on longer than anyone really wants to read.
Thank you to my amazing beta mik109, I couldn't have done this without you.
Jackie pushed her way through the front door, taking a deep breath and enjoying the cool early morning air. The fake sun had faded completely and the real one was just beginning to peak its way over the horizon. All three of them, she, Rose and the Doctor, had left Freya and her daughter to themselves inside. It wasn't like she could understand anything either of them was saying anyhow as they'd gone back to spouting off in Norwegian again.
She looked around the still empty town. Someone would have to go to the caves under the town and tell everyone it was safe to come back out. That someone would most certainly not be her, she thought tiredly as she turned back towards her daughter and the Doctor.
On second thought, maybe she would go get the rest of the town. Rose and the Doctor were standing just behind her firmly wrapped in each other's arms. They were as close together as two people still fully clothed could be she decided a bit disgusted, though mostly just happy for the pair. With a shake of her head, she quickly made her getaway before their 'we saved the day' hug turned into their first official 'we saved the day' snog.
Rose breathed in deeply, taking in the smell of early morning Norway and the Doctor before sighing contentedly against his neck. He did the same before leaning back and moving his hand up to brush a few stray hairs behind her ear, his hand lingering on the side of her face longer than necessary. She leaned into the touch and let her eyes close lazily.
"You saved the day again," she murmured quietly finally enjoying the peace an almost completely abandoned town could give instead of finding it eerie.
"I did very little to save the day," he answered her seriously. "You're the one that actually woke her up," he pointed out as he ran his thumb over her cheek.
"Yeah, but you're the one that was sword fighting a Cyberman," Rose pointed out with a small quirk of her lips.
A goofy grin lit up his face at that. "So I was. It would seem that I'm still pretty good with a sword," he added a little smugly letting his hand drop away from her face.
"Even without your fighting hand?"
"I've still got my lucky hand," he said wiggling his fingers happily. "And a lucky hand is better than a fighting hand any time."
"You saved me, too," she added a little sadly.
"Well, of course I saved you," he said sternly. "Your mother never would have let me hear the end of it if I hadn't," he finished brushing off the serious connotation her words held with humor, which was something entirely him proving Donna hadn't changed him as much as some might think.
She knew him well enough to know he was trying to avoid a touchy subject by making a joke out of it. She also knew herself well enough to know if she let him get away with it now she would regret it later, even if it was all too tempting to ignore what might amount to a fight only a night after she finally got him back. "You should have saved the little girl first," she plowed ahead.
The Doctor shook his head. "No, I shouldn't."
Rose's eyes slid open slowly. "Doctor…people could have died –"
"iYou/i could have died," he answered her gruffly.
"I'm not –"
"Yes, you are," he said cutting her off again. His eyes were dark and piercing as he stared at her for a long, quiet moment. "You are Rose."
"What happens next time?" Rose asked nervously biting her lower lip as she watched him. "When it's not just a little girl and a small town in Norway? What happens when it's the whole country, or the world?" she asked him softly, the words sounding anything but accusing. "You can't sacrifice everyone for me. I need you to promise me you won't do that, again."
"If I lose you, then saving the world doesn't matter."
"It wouldn't. I don't have anything here except you," he said as he gently cupped her face between his hands again.
Rose stared into his eyes, her hands coming up to lie over his own. She took a shaky breath then exhaled slowly. "We're going to have to work on that, then," she said giving him a small watery smile.
He gave her a tight smile back, one that belied the turmoil created by the idea of losing her brought up in him. "Maybe you could work on being less jeopardy friendly," he said evenly in a desperate attempt to change the subject to anything else.
"I am not jeopardy friendly."
"Right," he agreed nodding his head with exaggerated enthusiasm, beyond thankful that she took his lead and moved their conversation in a more lighthearted direction. "That's why you cut your finger on a spinning wheel and fell asleep, Briar IRose/I."
"You're the one who made the trap door fall open."
"Saving all of our lives in the process as I remember it," he pointed out. "I'm also the one to fought off a fire-breathing dragon to save you."
"Oh, be fair. You hid from a fire-breathing dragon to save me."
"I hid very bravely so that your mother could get to safety thank you," he told her aghast at her thinly veiled accusation that he hid from danger, which couldn't be further from the truth and she knew it (though he supposed he had it coming because he did realize that she wasn't the only jeopardy friendly one in their relationship).
"Which brings up another point," he announced aggravatedly. "I was stuck with no one but your Mother for hours. That alone should prove I am nothing if not brave in the face of danger."
"Yes, you very bravely tolerated my Mother for over three hours."
"That's a lot harder than you make it sound," he whined as she chuckled. "Do you have any idea how hard it is to figure out what's going on with her around? She ruins the flow of every single one of my brainstorming moments."
Rose bit her bottom lip hard to keep from laughing at him. "Brainstorming moments?" she asked quietly, worried the laughter would come bubbling out of her at any second.
"Yes. Why? What do you call them?"
Rose stared at him for a long moment. "Brainstorming moments works," she agreed with a fervent nod of her head.
He raised a skeptical eyebrow at her but decided to let the comment pass. "She complains all the time, too," he added quietly.
"About everything. Things I didn't even have anything to do with," he continued to complain.
Rose resisted the urge to roll her eyes at him. She had already almost laughed at him rolling her eyes wouldn't do anything to make the situation better. "Maybe all this time you two spent together might have endeared you to her? You know, just a bit?" she added hopefully.
The look the Doctor gave her told her how unlikely that outcome was. "Rose," he began gravely, "if the past few hours have done anything to the, and I use this term loosely, 'relationship' between your mother and I it's been nothing but damaging."
"Oh," Rose began to protest but before she could get very far he cut her off again.
"Rose, we spent the entire time running around being shot at by Cybermen, held at gunpoint by Norwegians in a cave, sneaking around a forest and a crashed spaceship and being attacked by a dragon. If anything comes of this, it'll be a slap because I put you into situations like this all the time."
Rose gave him a tiny smile, he did have a point. Her Mum might have known that working for Torchwood was dangerous and saving the world was anything but safe most of the time but that probably wouldn't stop her from blaming it all on him. She opened her mouth about to reassure him that, slap or no slap Jackie really did like him…or at least tolerated him because she knew how much her daughter liked him, but never got the chance as the door to the house next to them flew open.
Freya and her daughter quickly moved forward, speaking non-stop as they looked at the two of them still standing closely together. Freya grabbed Rose's hand and began shaking it, barely pausing for breath as she did so. The Doctor nodded and smiled at Freya warmly as she turned towards him and did the same.
Rose watched the Doctor, a smile tugging at her lips as he said something back to Freya. He gave the pair a wide smile as they thanked him profusely. Or at least, she imagined they were thanking him. For all she knew, they were telling him the best place to find banana pancakes in town, something he would most likely be just as glad to hear. He said something back to them in, as far as she could tell, a flawless Norwegian accent earning him a pair of bright smiles and a hug from the little girl.
It was strange to hear him speaking a different language. It was easy for her to forget that he was an alien and that he didn't just speak English, it wasn't even his native tongue. The TARDIS had always made sure she understood everyone just fine. She stifled a sigh as Freya and her daughter moved away from them in search of Jackie.
"So they thanking us, then?" she asked as she watched them shout after Jackie.
He gave her a lazy lopsided grin. "What you didn't understand what they were saying?" he asked nudging her with his shoulder.
"Not a word."
"Well, you wouldn't, would you? With the virtual reality turned off there's nothing to translate for you," he grinned at her.
Rose shook her head slightly looking around the empty streets, no beanstalks or Gingerbread men, not a single pumpkin turned carriage or even the remains of a house made of straw that had been blown down. It was a completely normal looking town once again. "I still can't believe none of it was real."
"That's because the Tusharens were brilliant. Did you know every form of virtual reality across the whole universe is based, at least in some part, off their designs? They created a lifelike virtual reality big enough to store all of their thoughts, or a small town in Norway it would seem, and that requires some amazing technology. Can you imagine trying to get any other virtual reality system to do what this one did? Though, I guess that's sort of the point. None of them could, they just weren't big enough for their minds. It would be like trying to shove an elephant into a roach motel."
"That what it would be like for you?"
"Me? Oh, no. Not really that bad. More like a horse into a roach motel…or maybe a Donkey," he mused out loud earning himself a small chuckle from Rose before he amended the statement. "A large donkey…but Time Lords, while having a great big brain, aren't completely telepathic. The Tusharen are. Everything is in their heads, every conversation, every argument, every song or play. It all takes place in their minds. They have no vocal cords. Well, they have no mouths either which I suppose is a slightly more obvious way of saying they're completely telepathic. They also have no noses, but that's because they have a semi-permeable skin to absorb any air, liquid or nutrition they need to live, and also it's not really important to the point I was trying to make."
"What point was that?" she asked him grinning at the way he rambled on non-stop and more than a little happy to realize that even after years apart and having a little bit of Donna in him he still had a gob like no other.
"My point was that you, Rose Tyler, are brilliant."
"Well, when you've got it, you've got it," she said with sarcastic bravado.
"No, really. You figured out that little Maren over there had to have something alien with her to have turned on the stasis pod. That was brilliant. It's much easier to disrupt the signal that kept the stasis pod's virtual reality systems connected with her than trying to find the backdoor in the programming," he told her enthusiastically.
He missed this. Working with her to save the day, getting to compliment her when she did something particularly brilliant, the bright smile she would give him every time he did. She really was brilliant, always had been too. He sometimes worried he had mucked things up with her for the most part when they first started traveling together.
Sure by the end of his ninth self calling her an ape had become something of an endearment, but it hadn't started that way. He had been rude, stubborn, he had a bit of a superiority complex not to mention a bit of a thing for brooding. Well basically, he had been the exact same except he had also been incredibly standoffish on top of it all. Being petty and pushing people, well her, away had seemed like the only smart thing to do and no matter what the other him said he wasn't that man anymore. He didn't think he'd ever be that man again, not after her.
"Fascinating piece of technology you had to stomp on though," he started up again, barely a pause regardless of where his mind had wondered off to. "It has a kind of genetic memory marker that imprints on whoever last wore it. That's why it kept working even though she wasn't wearing it any more. It's also why they Cyberman didn't kill her mother," he continued to prattle on. "It couldn't be sure which one of them was hooked up to the virtual reality because their genetic makeup is so similar and why are you looking at me like that?" he asked suddenly, the question ramming into the tail end of his sentence unceremoniously.
Rose grinned at him and shook her head a little. "Nothin', just missed this," she told him honestly. "Missed you," she added quietly at the end looking up at him in a half lidded kind of wonder, like she still wasn't completely sure he was really there.
The Doctor smiled in response and desperately wanted to tell her he wasn't going anywhere if he could help it except he couldn't find his voice because of the way she was looking at him. It was doing all sorts of strange things to his stomach and he was almost certain she could hear his single heart thundering inside of his chest at the moment.
She leaned towards him, rocking onto the balls of her feet so she could stand closer to him. Her hands were fisted in the lapels of his jacket, just like the last time only she wasn't pulling him towards her. Instead, he leaned down towards her languidly, the thudding of his heart in his chest loud in his ears and the feel of her breath puffing out against his lips causing them to tingle.
He paused briefly to savor the moment. It would be their first real kiss, the first kiss not born out of some greater purpose, lie, or years of unresolved sexual tension. It would be the first of many, many kisses to come and that thought alone made him lightheaded.
He quickly closed the distance between their lips.
Her lips were softer than he remembered was the first thing that popped into his head as he slowly moved his mouth across hers. It was warm and gentle as they kissed almost hesitantly, the pressure building between them. His hand slowly snaked its way up from her waist. The tips of his fingers barely touched her neck as he drug them upwards to tangle in her hair. A shiver ran through her body and she made a happy little whimpering sound at the sensation.
He cupped the back of her head, his fingers playing in her hair as he tilted her head back farther to deepen the kiss. She pressed herself even closer, enjoying the warm stretch of his body against hers, as she threaded both of her hands through his hair to keep him right where he was.
A deep guttural moan tore through him at the first swipe of her tongue against the seam of his lips. His mouth fell open and Rose gave a happy hum as their tongues slid against each other.
"Figures," a voice came from behind them, making them break apart. "I have to come rushing in to save the day only to find it's already been saved by someone else Iand/I that same someone else is getting snogged senseless."
"Ah, Jake Simmonds," the Doctor said as a group of soldiers with the all too familiar Torchwood insignia on their uniforms rounded the corner just behind him. "Better late than never I suppose," he said fighting down the urge to punch the younger man in the face for ruining a perfectly good, brilliant if he was being honest with himself, well deserved and incredibly overdue kiss with Rose. She wrapped her hand in his and gave it a small squeeze as if to tell him she felt the same, or maybe she knew he had been considering punching Jake and was silently thanking him for following his better judgment and not letting that bit of Donna take over.
"We're only as fast as our transportation lets us be and zeppelins have never been very fast," he said, giving both the Doctor and Rose a wary look. "Have to say I didn't expect to see you ever, again," he said blankly, the statement obviously meant for both of them.
"Yeah, well," the Doctor began to say as he and Rose looked at one another again.
"Looks like you're going to be stuck with us for a while, now," she said, her hand tightening around the Doctor's.
Jake nodded, a smile tugging at his lips. "You know, I told your dad there was nothing to worry about. 'There are strange energy readings in Norway' he told me. He absolutely refused to believe me when I said you'd have it under control. Personally, I think he's just been going a bit bonkers with you and your mom away."
Rose gave him a small smile for that.
Jake returned the smile and shook his head in amusement. "We'll take care of the rest of this," he said simply waving his hand around at the empty town, "you two can go and relax," he said with a nod towards a trio of big black SUV's that the group of Torchwood troops had arrived in before turning away from them and following after a pair of Torchwood agents who were currently speaking with Freya and her daughter.
Rose squeezed the Doctor's hand gently. Even with the three hours she had spent in a magic induced slumber, she was completely knackered. She didn't even want to think of how her Mum or the Doctor were doing.
"So is that normal Torchwood procedure, then?" he asked as they continued on towards the SUV. "To swan in at the very end, when everything's already been taken care of, and take all of the credit for a job well done?"
"You'd be surprised how often it happens actually," Rose said sarcastically with a mischievous smirk aimed his way. "Besides, they deserve it," she said with a nod towards the team.
"Well, they really did save the day, didn't they?"
"How did they do that?"
"'Cause, now, we don't have to wait for that zeppelin in Bergen. We can just get a ride back with them."
The Doctor's face lit up immediately "Well, in that case, bravo and well played Torchwood," he pulled her along after him as he started towards the big black SUV from Torchwood with renewed vigor. "How long is the flight from here to London at any rate?"
"Couple of hours," Rose said as they fell into step.
"Good, plenty of time, then," he said seriously with an overdramatic nod of his head. "You know, I think I'm actually going to sleep," he said with a bemused grin.
Rose grinned back at him and leaned in to give his shoulder a bump with her own as they walked.
"Isn't this the part where you give me some quip about telling me a fairytale to help me get to sleep?" the Doctor asked her in mock seriousness.
Rose snorted and shook her head. "I don't even want to joke about that."
The pair climbed into the back seat of the SUV, Rose curling against the Doctor's side as his arm wrapped around her.
"You two aren't going to start snogging are you?" Jackie asked angrily from the front seat. "'Cause I got in here to make sure I didn't have to see that."
The two answered her in unison with annoyed calls of "Mum" and "Jackie". She threw her hands up in front of her in surrender. "Alright…just making sure," she muttered before turning back around and wiggling in the front seat until she found a comfortable position.
After a few moments, Jackie was silently snoring away in the front seat and it would have taken a force far greater than any found on Earth, let alone Norway, to wake her.
The Doctor grinned lazily into Rose's hair as she cuddled closer to him. The hand she didn't have wrapped around his waist was fisted in the lapel of his jacket. She huffed out a sleepy sigh as she began to draw lazy patterns on the worn material. Falling asleep with Rose Tyler in his arms was definitely an ideal situation he decided as he finally let his eyes slip shut.
"Doctor?" Rose asked so quietly he had to convince himself it wasn't part of a dream.
"Hmm?" he hummed, the sound lower and quieter than he had expected. He knew he was tired but he didn't expect to sound so haggard.
"I love you," she said quietly as she continued to play with his jacket.
His eyes shot open and his breath caught in his throat at her words. It was the first time she had said so since that day on the beach when they were a universe away from each other. He had told her several times since they were left behind, not nearly enough times if he was honest but Donna or no Donna old habits were hard to break, but she hadn't said it since.
Rose Tyler still loved him. She even loved this new, sleepier, human version of him. His heart skipped a beat at the thought, which was a little disturbing since he only had the one heart now and he needed it to keep working correctly if for no other reason than being able to answer her right now.
She pulled her head away from his chest when he didn't say anything. The beginnings of a sleepy frown worked at the corners of her mouth.
"Quite right too," he murmured huskily, well he hoped she took it as husky because in reality it was hoarsely which wasn't nearly as romantic.
The look she gave him let him know that answer was definitely not what she had expected to hear but before she could comment on it he had begun kissing her again.
A thrill shot through her as his lips nudged at hers and his tongue gained entry to her mouth. Her knees went weak as he explored her mouth and she was beyond thankful to be sitting in the back of the SUV instead of standing.
She moaned quietly and turned as best she could in the cramped backseat pressing as much of her body to his as she could. She tangled her hands into his hair, which still looked perfect even after everything they had been through that night, and kissed him for all she was worth. She felt more than she heard the groan that fell from his lips as she deepened the kiss.
She kissed him, tasted him, and breathed him in. Her heart thudded so hard she was almost certain it would burst and she decided at that moment that she could definitely, and would if she had anything to say about it, spend the rest of her life kissing him.
"How long are you going to stay with me?" she asked, gasping in a deep and much needed breath as she pulled away from him just far enough that their noses and foreheads were still pressed together.
"Forever," he answered her breathlessly leaning forward to capture her lips once again.
AN: So I guess this means they really did just start snogging in the SUV and thus they lied to Jackie. Whatever you do don't wake up Jackie! You don't want to see what's happening in the back seat!
AN2: I started plotting out this story at the tail end of last semester and I decided to write it up over winter break. The story was going to be a short and sweet little thing (4 chapter's tops) but, as I tend to do, it changed drastically and grew uncontrollably as I began to write it. Eventually my little story had begun to turn into a mini epic.
I knew that if I didn't make sure I finished the whole story before posting it that I would never actually finish it, I'm really bad that way. I fought the urge to get some feedback (by posting a short Doctor Who fic that I wrote out of frustration with chapter 5 and a horrible lack of internet access) and I continued to write until it was finished.
And here it is. My mini epic weighs in at twenty chapters an interlude and an epilogue and over 60,000 words (that's 113 pages in Microsoft word at 10 point in Arial font).
Basically, I wrote a novel over my winter break which is all kinds of cool.
I just want to thank everyone that's read and commented on the story it really means a lot. My stupendous beta always says that we write for ourselves and not for the reviewers and I've always argued a bit with her over that (I know how the story ends I write for the viewer and the only way I know if I'm doing well or not is if I get reviews) so really thank you. You've all made me feel very welcomed and loved in a brand new fandom and I really appreciate it.