I know I'm really obsessed when I start to write fanfiction. This thing started out as two pages and just mutated on me. I know about ten billion other people have written post Journey's End reunions, but I'm kind of hoping I was able to put my own spin on things. I guess that, even though Rose got the happiest ending possible within reasonable canon limits (I mean, there's still a few regenerations to go, right?), the fanfiction writers will never be quite satisfied. So let me know what you think and whether or not I should try for more Doctor Who fanfictions. Any advice regarding British-ness (I suck at it, being American. That's why there's not a lot of dialogue...) or character personalities will be greatly appreciated. I hope you enjoy!
"Cheers," she says quietly, and drinks to his picture. It's one they took together on some far-off planet millions of light years away (she doesn't remember its name, but she knows she never really could pronounce it anyways).
So many years ago (and so many years in the future; she still doesn't really understand the complexities of time travel), they stood together against a random off-white wall with an old-fashioned camera in the hands of a blue-skinned, four-eyed fellow tourist who snapped a picture obligingly, to capture his sunny smile and her cheeky grin and their interlaced fingers as they both beamed at the lens.
She liked the way it portrayed them so much that she took to carrying a copy of it everywhere, courtesy of the copier the TARDIS kindly provided. When she got stranded in this universe for the first time, she had only a copy to remind her of what once was.
Right before they landed on the beach where the half-human Doctor was left to her, she felt a gentle nudge in the back of her mind, prompting her to pick up the picture and slip it into her pocket.
And she's grateful to the TARDIS for that, because now she has the original, complete with the smudge in the corner from the Doctor's snack that day, so excited to see the print-out of the picture that he couldn't be bothered to wipe his banana-butter ("banana-butter, Rose! Like peanut butter, only with bananas! It's brilliant!") coated fingers off.
She strokes his face through the glass gently, something she allows herself to do once in a very long while, for fear that constant touching will somehow cause the glass to melt away and damage the precious picture.
Because this isn't just a picture. It's her memories of her Time Lord Doctor; it's the only think that remains of his mega-watt smile and incessant ramblings. It's the only think that's kept her sane for the last hundred and eight years, less the lifetime she spent with the human one.
Her children are gone, and her grandchildren also, and any further generations do not know her, and her Doctor, the one who gave her his forever—
He grew old and withered and left her behind. They wept bitterly at first, but used every moment they had, and he smiled with her to the last moment.
But now she's alone. No, she has Torchwood, but they are young and have their own lives to lead. Three, four generations have passed, of employees and friends and so many deaths and hearts broken. But she's learned to cherish what she has and does not distance herself from them out of fear of losing them. She knows that would just make it hurt more.
Bad Wolf did something to her, she knows it. Maybe even the TARDIS helped, a little, hoping to keep her for longer.
But she doesn't know what. Oh, Torchwood would dearly love to run all sorts of tests on her, to discover the anomalies in her genetic makeup that grant her such a long, youthful life, but she does not want it, and she has taught her Torchwood to respect privacy and the wishes of others. This Torchwood works for the people, and as decades of weeding out the ones who do not fit and subtly introducing the ones who do fit bear fruit, she is proud of herself, and of them. Her Torchwood. Maybe even her family.
She is their guide (she rejected the title when they gave it to her because she didn't want to be the Director). They come to her with questions, turn to her at times of crisis, because she knows more than anyone else on the subject of aliens. She is more than a hundred years' worth of knowledge, gathered from all the ends of two universes. She is the legendary head of Torchwood, the Defender of Earth, the one who cannot die.
But she doesn't know anything, really. Because she is Rose Tyler, and she is meant to be a companion. She knows she is nothing compared to the Doctor—but they don't have the Doctor, so she'll have to do.
So she gives them her advice and guides them silently from the office that has become her home, letting their courage build from the belief that that have an expert amongst their ranks, even if she knows she's merely a symbol and that they are the ones who are succeeding.
The tiny little words in the corner of the picture show a bright green sign; she could swear it said "shop" in five different languages (none of them English or anything close to it) when they were there, but now the letters have changed and rearranged themselves and now they read "Bad Wolf". They've said that ever since her Doctor died, and now the hope is fading. It's been fifty years, after all; fifty years as a young woman of twenty-something years with a husband who's dead and buried, and she's so tired.
The first three decades after her Doctor died were spent frantically trying to do something with the words "Bad Wolf", but all her efforts have proved useless and she wonders if maybe the universe is trying to tell her something.
After all, he gave her a part of him already, and she's had her human version of "forever". Maybe that's all she can expect, maybe she's only entitled to one lifetime with him, maybe he's doomed to be the Lonely God forever. Maybe—maybe he doesn't want her anymore, maybe he's found someone else. God, she doesn't want to think about that, but… The Doctor always travels with companions, and knowing that she's home (but not really, because home was always with the Doctor, and after her Doctor left her, Pete's World wasn't really her home anymore) he'll probably have picked someone else up.
She wonders if he would throw her out if she showed up in the TARDIS again. Then she wonders if it even matters. She decides that yes, it would matter, but since she can't get back to him there's no point in thinking about it. So she pushes it to the back of her mind and stands up, leaving her unfinished drink on her desk.
She walks down the stairs, bypassing the lift, and appears in the main work room for the first time in three years. All of the sounds of typing stop immediately and a cup of tea smashes to the ground, dropped by a gaping young man. He doesn't seem to notice, obviously caught up by the shock of seeing Torchwood's head for the first time.
An older man, as close to her as is possible these days, recovers first and strides over, nodding in greeting. "Ma'am," he says amicably. "It's nice t'see you."
His reward is a small smile as she glances around the room, wiggling her fingers at the dumbstruck people surrounding her. "Hey," she says softly. "Thought I'd pop down an' see how it was goin'. Didn't realize I was such a surprise." She grins, inviting the others to share the joke and letting them know that she isn't offended by their shocked silence.
"Of course." Her second-in-command coughs, startling the whole room back into the semblance of work. He turns and is about to speak when a chair slams to the ground and a young brunette woman with headphones stands in a flurry of papers.
"Sir! It's the team we sent out to talk to the Entaara yesterday. They're reporting hostility directed at them. They haven't been attacked yet, but they're asking for backup, in case they can't figure out what the Entaara want. Orders?" she rattles off, eyes glued to the screen of her computer even as she awaits commands.
Jag, Rose's second-in-command, barks out orders and has a team assembled with an efficiency that she admires (she helped create the system he's using, but over the years it's definitely been improved). When she joins the chosen group, he raises an eyebrow and isn't the only one.
She sticks her tongue out at him, more playful than he's ever seen her. "'S been a long time since I've gone out in the field," she says lightly. "I'll jus' tag along an' see if I can help."
With a sigh that tells her he knows he can't stop her, he shrugs. "All right, but keep your phone on, yeah? Never know when we might need your help."
"I might need yours," she shoots back, accepting a gun from a helpful rookie and strapping the holster under her arm. Once she tried to be like the Doctor, unarmed but for her wits (and a hairpin, because it's a lot more useful in opening doors than a normal screwdriver would be), but though she herself is seemingly immortal, she's learned the hard way that sometimes she needs to do the unforgivable to save the people who serve under her.
With a firm nod to Jag from the leader of the team, Torchwood Team Four sets out in the unmarked, nondescript vehicles that have nonetheless become synonymous with Torchwood Institute and beings from other worlds. Not all of the people they protect approve, but Rose shrugs. She knows they can't always please everybody.
To summarize, it turns out that the Entaara have discovered they are missing a son from the visiting royal family since they arrived, and having no one else to blame, they pin it on Torchwood—well, the whole human race, actually.
The teams track the missing child to the ship of a supposedly benign race, and quickly they quickly retrieve the child and return him. When representatives from the two alien races begin to argue in angry gestures, Rose watches proudly as the Torchwood teams wordlessly direct the situation to result in a peaceful compromise with grudging apologies from both sides using a primitive language system of pictographs and universal gestures.
She can't help but think of the Torchwood that Yvonne Hartman ran and smiles inwardly at the knowledge that hers is better. They don't just own, pick apart, fear. They understand. They are learning, and soon they won't need her at all.
As they all pile out of the unused building in which the exchange took place, Rose is halted by a slight pressure on her elbow. She looks up inquiringly when she realizes that one of the Entaara has placed the tip of its limb on her arm. When it gestures toward an out-of-the-way corner, she follows obligingly. It turns its five eyes onto her face and touches a wood-textured limb to the dip of her collarbones. What it does next surprises her.
You. You are human responsible for this.
The rather upbeat feeling that accompanies the thought "this" assures Rose that the Entaar means the agreement between the two races, not the kidnapping of the child.
Yes. This. This is good.
Rose reflects that no one ever warned her that the Entaara were telepathic. Amusement floods her mind when the alien receives this thought. Its words are halting but gradually become smoother as it projects thoughts into her mind, as if it is familiarizing itself with the language.
You are only human we have met with mental capabilities. Only able to receive if you have certain amount of ability. Our thoughts translate themselves.
With exasperation, Rose wonders why the two races resorted to the crude "language" Torchwood has developed, instead of speaking telepathically. A spasm of irritation pricks her mind, courtesy of the Entaar, but passes quickly. Apparently the fact that she is human prompts a certain amount of forgiveness for her ignorance.
That kind (here is a word that does not translate well; Rose assumes it is the Entaara's name for the other race), that kind does not speak as we do.
There is an interesting inflection on the "we", possessive and full of pride that shows quite clearly that the Entaar is referring to the Entaara. Rose could dissect the intricacies of the Entaara language for such a long time, but the Entaar is speaking again.
Perhaps next time we shall speak through you.
Perhaps, Rose agrees, but privately doesn't think so. The Entaar hears her thought and gives what feels like an indulgent smile as Rose colours, apologizing profusely for her rudeness. She isn't used to speaking telepathically, after all.
Confusion from the Entaar.
You are human, but you bear the aura of one who speaks with mind to others.
Confusion from Rose. She's seen the Doctor speak telepathically, knows that Time Lords are slightly telepathic, but herself?
Time Lord? Shock from the Entaar. That explains… much. Little one does not belong here. Rose feels that the Entaar is waiting for confirmation, realizing with some amusement that by "little one" it means her.
She belongs with the Doctor, in the other universe. But she isn't sure he wants her back. Again.
If you do not know, there is only one way to find out.
But the Doctor said it was impossible. And…
We sensed a creature that feels wrong here. You. Entaara can send little one back home.
There is a little fire burning inside little one. So small; barely a spark. But it is a part of a larger, powerful being. Gold dust and burning.
Rose understands. The Vortex? Bad Wolf? She tries to communicate through pictures and memories of what it felt like to look into the TARDIS' heart.
Yes. Entaara have science that can cross universes.
But even the Doctor couldn't do that.
Entaara are special. Time Lord does not know of it because it has never been used. Needs massive amount of power, but tiny speck of fire is so powerful that it will be enough. It will send little one back to the rest of the fire.
The heart of the TARDIS.
If little one is lucky, the blue covering around the fire and not in the fire.
But why would the Entaara help her?
You saved Esphelt'healst (here she is sent an image of the little child they rescued). We give thanks.
Rose shakes her head. That was Torchwood; all of them, not just her.
But you have created this Torchwood, moulded it into what it is now. We give thanks. Yes or no, little human-who-is-not-human?
As she opens her mouth, the Entaar gives her a cautioning look.
If yes, spark will be used and amplified. You will not be human. Maybe… fire-human. Hopefully will not burn. Hopefully.
To be back with the Doctor… It is fully worth the risk.
Is that yes, little one? We will alert your Torchwood. They will not worry.
Rose doubts that, but she made her choice such a long time ago. Yes. She says yes. Tell them… tell them I love them all.
Yes. We will tell them. Come, little one. We need all Entaara to throw little one across space. Maybe also time.
It soon becomes clear that the whole group of Entaara agree that Rose feels "wrong" for this universe. They are more than happy to send her back; only the smallest children hold back from helping in order to take her message back to Torchwood. The Entaar who first approached her confides that more minds during the process means more speed and less room for potential mistakes. Rose doesn't quite understand (shouldn't it be the other way around?) but keeps quite at a faint humming begins at the back of her mind.
We sing now, send you back, little one. Keep quiet and calm. Luck on your journey.
Thank you, Rose thinks, and then shuts up. The humming has become chanting, words she does not understand in voices unlike any other.
Rose remembers that all of her thoughts are projected into the Entaara's minds. How can she keep quiet as they ask her?
Do not think. Do not speak.. Entaara will do work. Will send little one back to golden fire. Do not jump. We will throw. Quiet now.
She closes her eyes and focuses on the music in her head, not thinking, not analyzing, just… listening. It's beautiful, and it's growing louder, and then the world goes black. She almost opens her eyes, but the soothing press of a woody limb on her shoulder comforts her. She slips away, hurtling through time and space and fabric and seams and then she is gone.
She slams against something hard. Something hard and smooth and warm, covered in knobs and buttons and bumps. It takes her a while to realize that she is lying on the TARDIS console, and when she does, it's not because of the levers and miscellaneous buttons.
The TARDIS sings in her mind, a different song from the music of the Entaara, but just as beautiful, and more familiar.
Sleep now, little wolf. You are safe. We will cry for you later. For now, sleep.
The voice is so sweet and the darkness is so inviting that Rose lays her head back down and obeys. She knows for a fleeting second that no matter how the Doctor reacts, the TARDIS welcomes her and will do anything to keep her here. She is safe. Then the inky tendrils of unconsciousness gather her up and whisk her away.
Rose awakens to the sound of a familiar voice. It's not babbling as it usually does, though, and she wonders what's wrong. All she hears are repeats of the same word:
"What? What? WHAT? WHAT?"
Over and over, it's the same word, laced with familiar confusion that she feels like she should know. She groans, reaches out, and tries to push herself up.
She opens her eyes and sees a brown shock of hair and a very familiar face hovering above her. She thinks she recognizes the ceiling of the room; it's a blue-grey that she hasn't seen in so long. Since—
And the thought opens up wounds she mistakenly believed were scabbed over and tucked away. But now they're brought to the surface of her mind, and tears run down her face from the pain, and she knows her mascara is running and—
There's an alarmed quality in the familiar voice now, and there's a handkerchief at her face, wiping away the tears.
"Don't cry; please don't cry…" the voice pleads. "Rose, please don't cry."
And once the cloth is gone from her face, she can see. And it's the Doctor who is carefully ministering to her face, catching all of the tears.
"Rose, you somehow fell into the TARDIS console and wounded yourself. Your wounds are closed, but there's still blood all over your clothes. I'm going to turn around; can you dress yourself?"
It's the Doctor, and right now she wants nothing more than to fling herself into his arms and bawl her eyes out as if she was twenty again and dependent on him for everything, but he's looking expectantly for an answer and she nods, wiping the rest of her tears on her bloody sleeve. He turns around, and for a moment she can do nothing but sit up and stare at the back of his jacket.
It's him. It's really him.
"Rose, are you getting dressed? I don't hear you moving," the Doctor prompts. Slowly and carefully, she peels the bloodstained blouse from her body and dons the old shirt and leggings but keeps the skirt and jacket that she wore as head of Torchwood. She notices that her gun has been set aside, on the far end of the room with the Doctor between her and it.
When the Doctor is given the okay and turns around, the first thing he does is raise an eyebrow.
"I noticed the badge," he comments flatly. "Torchwood, Rose? Of course it would be Torchwood." The disgust in his voice cuts her, but she tells herself that he doesn't know; he hasn't been in Pete's World for so many years.
"Yes, Torchwood," she says softly, proud that her voice only shakes a little. "I am Torchwood." Then she rethinks her words. "No, Torchwood is me. I took Pete's Torchwood an' I rebuilt it an' made it better. This Torchwood is somethin' I can be proud of." She tilts her chin defiantly and dares him to contradict her.
He rubs a hand wearily across his chin and sighs. "How did you get here, Rose? It should have been impossible to come back. Where is the other me?"
Rose's eyes darken. "He died, Doctor. He grew old, jus' like you promised me."
"How long has it been?" the Doctor asks after a while, playing with some device or other.
It takes Rose a minute to remember, even though she's counted every single day since her Doctor died. "Since you dropped us off? 'S been a hundred an' eight years, Doctor. Fifty years since he died."
His eyes widen in shock and disbelief colours his voice. "And you're still…" He gestures at her body and face. The small device in his hands drops, unnoticed, to the ground with a quiet plink. "And you were glowing when I found you, stayed glowing until all your wounds were healed!"
She smiles humourlessly. "I am the Bad Wolf," she says to him, repeating words from long ago. "An' maybe you should ask your TARDIS, too. I woke up one day an' we realized that I wasn't aging. I can't really die, either."
He sinks into a nearby chair, dazed and unbelieving. "But… that's impossible!"
"I'll prove it, yeah?" she suggests, holding out a hand. "Gimme a razor or my gun or somethin', then."
"No, no, I… Why do you have a gun in the first place?"
She looks at the ground. "I may be immortal, but the others aren't. I tried working unarmed like you, Doctor, but they died 'cos I couldn't save 'em."
The Doctor glares at the wall. "Why would you…?"
I love her, the TARDIS answers. I love you, and she loves you. I gave you what you needed, what she needed. You sent her away and now she is back.
"You ruined her life!" the Doctor snaps irritably. Rose recoils from the vehemence in his tone. "She should have been happy with me, or him, or whoever he was! She should have had forever with him."
She has forever with you now, the TARDIS insists gently. Do not throw this away rashly.
Rose steps back unsteadily. "D'you really not want me here that much?" she whispers. "They said—"
"Who said?" the Doctor demands urgently. "Rose, who sent you here?"
She takes a deep breath. "The Entaara. In the other universe." In all her hundred and eight years, she has never referred to Pete's World as her own. "D'they exist here?" When he shakes his head to indicate a negative, she wonders why briefly before continuing. "Anyway, Torchwood helped them find one of their children an' negotiate a compromise. 'S a long story. They said that Torchwood was mine an' they wanted to thank me an' that I didn't feel right in that universe, so they offered to send me home. I didn't know if you'd want me anymore, but one of 'em told me I should find out."
"But how, Rose? How did they send you back?" the Doctor pressed.
"I told you. They tossed me. Threw me through space. That one that I talked to, it said that they had some kinda science that could cross through universes, only it had never been used 'cos they didn't have enough power or somethin', so no one'd ever heard of it."
"Then what did they use to send you back?"
"You missed a spark of the Vortex," she says slowly. "They said it was a tiny part of somethin' bigger, but it was enough to send me back. Only it made me… 'not-human', I think the Entaar said. 'Fire-human'? What does that mean? D'you not want me here? I can leave, or—"
She's babbling now, she knows, having picked up this particular nervous habit from the man standing in front of her. She's speaking frantically and all of her words are a mask, shielding her from everything, preventing him from saying anything, because her darkest fears, thoughts that have never surfaced for more than a moment in her mind before being locked in the deep recesses of her mind, are pressing in on her now, leering at her with their dark faces and wide wide grins.
And she dreads his answer because he holds her heart and her mind in his hands, and he can easily choose to drop both beside the little beeping device that lies at his feet without any second thoughts at all.
Only she'll shatter; and sure, she'll live, being immortal and all, but won't living and loving him and knowing he doesn't feel the same way hurt more than dying for him? She's had so many years to learn that there are things worse than death.
It nearly destroyed her to lose him the first time. How can she bear it again—especially knowing that this time he can promise her forever?
She's jolted out of her troubled thoughts when he gently takes her hands in his.
"Rose," he says hesitantly. "I'm sorry for everything that's happened."
"I'm not," she says defiantly. If she's going to lose him again, she's going to make sure he knows she has no regrets doing it. She's going to make sure he remembers her properly, strong and stubborn even as she weeps for the loss of him in her heart.
"Listen to me," he tells her insistently. "I know I got it wrong again, and I'm sorry that you had to suffer for so long. I'm not trying to push you away, and I'm very glad that you're here. I left you with him because I thought it would make you happy and keep you safe. But if so many different people (well, I say people, I mean aliens) seem to think we belong together…" He gives her a small smile. "I suppose we should listen."
"Of course I don't want you to go, Rose. I'd be honoured to spend forever with you." He glances at her somewhat shyly, a look she never expected to see on his face. "That is, if you want."
She glares at him through a haze of tears, knowing that her mascara is dripping. "Jus' how stupid are you?" she demands. "Of course I want to stay with you!"
"Right!" he agrees, bouncing up and down excitedly. "I should've known. Now, I want to get you to the Med Bay, run some tests—just to figure out what you are, y'know. Fire-human and all. Not really sure how that one translates, but…" He glances down at their hands, still linked together with fingers interlaced. "But first—"
She raises an eyebrow. "But first what, Doctor?"
He gives her a sheepish grin, tugging her closer to him. "It's been a long time, Rose."
She rolls her eyes, but her expression softens. "Yeah, it has." Tucking herself neatly into the contours of his body, she reaches up and pulls his head down so that their lips meet in a kiss.
And it is not a Time Lord kiss, devoid of emotion and passion, because the way they press up against each other is anything but passionless.
And it is not a human kiss either, all physical and hands and lips and tongues, because even now their minds are melding together, creating a connection between them that goes so much farther than the contact of their skin.
It's a kiss that's purely them. No words are exchanged, no little murmured declarations or confessions, no sweet nothings, no reassurances. It's just kisses and tears and sighs and they're both projecting jumbled emotions until the whirlwind overwhelms them and they pull apart, breathing heavily and touching foreheads.
Nothing needs to be said, because everything they want to say is there in front of them, laid bare for both to see in their eyes and their faces.
And their silence speaks volumes.
At one point she left him, and at one point he left her, and far too many tears have been shed for what once was. But now they're both together and eternity is all theirs, and maybe this time they've got it right. Maybe this time they'll have a happy ending. Who knows? They've got forever to find out.
And if they don't—well, they've got forever to fight for it.
because in the
you are worth fighting for