AN: New chapter for you all! I hope you'll like it, either way, let me know what you think. :O) More should be up in the next day or so, there's only a few more chapters to go.
Oh… and don't shout at me for the end of this!
Gwen wrinkles her brow as she enters the Hub the next morning. None of the main lights have been turned on and Jack isn't there as usual to greet her with his wide, charming smile. She makes her way to her desk in the gloom and her ears pick up the strains of music playing softly down in the med bay. Taking care not to make any noise she makes her way towards its source, carefully picking her way around piles of folders and discarded pieces of alien tech that litters the floor around cluttered desks. Placing her hands on the railing she looks down at the scene in the med bay below, a soft smile appearing on her face.
Jack is lying on the bed beside Rose, a small lamp illuminating the pair as Jack tenderly runs his fingers through her hair. The music, Gwen realises, is coming from an old gramophone sitting on a small table beside the bed and as she listens she hears the murmur of Jacks voice float up towards her.
"Do you remember this Rosie?" Jack asks, a catch in his throat, "You where hanging from a barrage balloon, I had an invisible space ship." His smile fades when he gets no reply and he lets out a sigh before kissing her forehead, "I never stood a chance."
There's a few moments of silence as the track on the gramophone comes to an end and Jack leaves Roses side momentarily to reset it. Glen Miller's "Moonlight Serenade" begins again and Gwen hears Jack hum along for a moment as he checks the machines around Rose. Even from this distance Gwen can tell that things are not good with the young woman. Her now clean skin is far too pale and the dark circles under her eyes stand out like ugly bruises. She looks on thoughtfully as Jack tends to Rose and is once again left pondering the mystery that is her boss and how little any of them truly know about him. She's never seen him like this before, even under his fear and worry she can see the pure joy at having this woman back by his side, she can see the love he has for her shine through in his every action. She knows Jack is an affectionate person but his tenderness was new, even as he checks the different monitors he makes sure that he is always in physical contact with Rose; his hand on her forearm, his fingers in her hair; a hand trailing down her leg as he makes his way to the foot of the bed then gently stroking her foot through the blanket.
It's the slight hitch in Jacks throat as he looks at a screen Gwen can see that finally makes her decided to make her presence known. "Jack?" she calls quietly, coming down the stairs to stand beside him, her arm falling to rest gently on his shoulder. He turns to face her and Gwen's heart sinks at the look on his face, "It's not good is it?"
Jack shakes his head, his eyes screwing shut against tears, "No, it's not." His voice is a hoarse whisper, thick with emotions Gwen can't begin to understand.
"Owen will be in soon, maybe he'll be able to help, see something you've overlooked?" She tries to sound optimistic but it sounds false and hollow to both their ears.
Looking sadly down at Rose Jack's head shakes again, "Owen's not the Doctor she needs." When he looks back at Gwen his composure has returned and the Captain she knows is back, "Will you stay with her? I need to call Martha Jones." Jack doesn't wait for a reply, he simply turns away without looking back, making his way to his office to make one of the hardest phone calls of his life.
Donna winces as The Doctor's head bounces off the back of the captains chair. It's taken her almost twenty minuets to drag his prone form from the library and hoist him up onto the chair. The weird gold glow from before has gone but Donna is no less worried, panic is not a state that Donna often finds her self in but now she can feel it creeping it's way into her chest.
"Come on space boy, wake up!" She gives him another shove in the chest, having moved passed gentle concern some time ago, "What am I meant to do?" This last request is spoken more to the TARDIS than The Doctor and the ship responds with as close to a roll of her eyes as she can convey, a purple button on the console lighting up and flashing, "Okay, okay, no need for the attitude." Donna mutters as she makes her way over and slams her fist down on the button.
The reaction from the TARDIS is instant and with a smother trip than Donna can ever remember the Doctor pulling off the TARDIS takes her straight to Vala.
Donna only makes it halfway to the doors before they fly open and Vala is running up the ramp past her and towards The Doctor, "What's wrong with him?" Vala shouts on her way past.
"Well how am I meant to know!" Donna shouts back, anger replacing worry for a moment, "That's why we're here. He went all moody after the last time we saw you and then a few hours ago the TARDIS started all this shakin' and freaking out, then he was glowing and now this!"
Vala takes a deep breath to calm herself slightly, realising that taking her worry out on Donna wont help the situation. Ever since the night before when she had woken to the screaming of the Vortex she had been waiting anxiously either for the TARDIS to appear or word from The Doctor to let her know what was happening. When SG1 had got back to Earth Vala had used all her energy to try and look into the timelines for a clue as to what had happened but the jumbled mass of images she saw had left her unconscious in the infirmary for six hours. "How long has he been unconscious?"
"I'm not sure, it's been at least half an hour since I found him I reckon but I don't know how long before that." She watches Vala try and rouse The Doctor by shaking him gently, "I tried that already, he doesn't wake up, not even when I dragged him in here. You know, for a streak of bacon in a suit he aint half heavy to drag about."
"Right," Vala says, a determined look coming over her face, "One last try. If this doesn't work we'll move on to more drastic measures."
Donna's about to ask what 'more drastic measures' means when Vala raises her right hand and slaps The Doctor full force across the cheek. Vala lets out a groan, grasping her hand, "Oh for the love of Rassilon that stings."
Donna's too busy staring in shock at Vala to notice The Doctors eyes open. It's not until he lets out a scream of his own and sits up grasping his cheek that either of the women notice him, "What did you do that for!" he shouts in indignation.
"Well you didn't seem to be waking up any other way Theta." Vala tells him, a smug smile coming over her face.
"But I tried that!" Donna exclaims, her shock finally giving way, "He never even flinched when I did it, or the few times I dropped him on the way in here," She pauses sheepishly as the other two stare at her, "Or when he smacked his head on the back of the chair when I sat him down…"
Absently The Doctor brings the hand not clutching his cheek up to rub the back of his head.
"Don't worry about it Donna," Vala tells her, smile still firmly in place, "I'm sure he could of used a good thump to the back of the head and the reason it didn't work for you is that it needed a good deal of psychic force behind it. He was hidden so deep in his own mind that the universe could have collapsed around us and he wouldn't have noticed."
"Vala?" The Doctor asks slowly, his senses coming back to him, "What's going on?"
The smile slips from Vala's face, "You know how I said you could have 'slept' through the universe collapsing around us?" She wait's a moment until Donna and The Doctor nod in response, "Well… The universe is collapsing around us."
At 11:30 Martha Jones spots Jack sitting on the edge of the fountain above the Torchwood hub. His are shoulders slumped in resignation, his head bowed down as if the weight of the world rested upon him, with his hands clasped between his knees Martha could almost mistake him for someone praying.
"Jack?" She calls as she makes her way to sit beside him, "What's going on? What couldn't you tell me over the phone?"
Jack hands her one of the coffee cups that's sitting between his feet before lifting his own to his lips and taking a long sip.
"Rose is in the hub." He tells her with no preamble.
A twinge of jealousy Martha thought she had long since gotten over flares in her chest and her whole body tenses at the mention of Roses name.
"She appeared last night," A mirthless chuckle escapes from Jack, "Crossed the Void somehow and turned up here, in Cardiff. My team found her."
"And you want me to call The Doctor to come and get her." The words come out harsher than either of them are expecting.
"I… I don't know Martha," Its only now that he raises his head to look her in the eye and she can finally see the sorrow and pain painted thick on his normal smiling face, "I don't know what to do."
"You can't keep her from him Jack, he would never forgive you." The instinctive jealousy she feels for Rose fades in the face of Jacks emotions, "And if she found a way to cross the void to him then how long do you think you'll be able to keep her from seeking him out on her own?"
Jacks head tips back to look at the sky and he lets out a long breath before returning his gaze to her," You don't understand Martha, Rose is dying."
"What?" Both Donna and The Doctor exclaim at Vala's statement.
"Well, not the universe per say, but time is beginning to unravel itself." All humour has gone from Vala now, her mind and body subconsciously slipping back into the roll of a Time Lord, "While we're in the TARDIS we're isolated from the cascade but it's happening none the less."
"I don't understand, how can that happen?" The Doctor asks as he rises to begin fiddling with the TARDIS controls, taking readings from the instruments and setting scans, "Time doesn't just begin to unravel."
"Has something like this happened before?" Donna asks nervously, "Can't you fix it."
"I've never heard of this happening before Donna, up until Vala said it I didn't think it was even possible." He paces around the console some more and what little colour he had in his face drains, "But it appears to be happening."
"Time lines are losing their stability, everything's falling into a state of flux, melding together." Vala explains to the confused looking Donna, "Theta, what exactly happened while you where unconscious?"
The Doctor pauses, his hands trembling slightly as they hover over the console, "I was in the library," The words come out slowly, as if he's constructing the memories as he speaks, "And then I was… everywhere." His brow wrinkles in confusion and a shaking hand runs its way through his hair, "Rose was there, only she wasn't, she was calling to me but somehow it wasn't her."
"What about the TARDIS Donna?" Vala questions, "You said she 'freaked out'?"
"Well one minuet everything was fine and then she started shaking and there was… there was this light, all golden and someone was singing, like there was music everywhere and then it all stopped. I found space boy here keeled over in the library and he was glowing the same as the TARDIS had been."
"Singing…" The Doctor mumbles, "Singing and golden lights, and Rose…" His eyes close for a moment as memories wash over him and he is swept away by a tidal wave of emotion, "Bad Wolf." he sighs, "Why does it always come back to this."
"Bad Wolf?" Donna repeats, puzzled, "That's the name of that band that was playing, remember? When we went to Coronas eight and we got chased through that nightclub? What have they got to do with it?"
The Doctors head snaps up to look at her, "What? Donna think, and think very carefully, have you seen those words, that name, anywhere else we've been? Any place at all!"
But it's not Donna that answers, it's Vala, "I've heard it, that phrase 'Bad Wolf', it was the name of a bar on Canton." Vala gets lost in her own thoughts for a moment, "I still owe the owner 60 danari for the room we stayed in… shouldn't have expected that Time Agent to stay and pay the tab in the morning…"
"Vala," The Doctors voice is low and filled with suspicion, "This Time Agent, he wouldn't happen to be, oh say 6ft 2"? Dark hair? American accent from the 51st century? Could charm the shorts off the high priestess of Io? "
"Theta do you really think this is the time to be delving into my personal life? There are slightly more important things to be worrying about."
"Just answer the question Celesia!" He digs into his pockets and draws out a rather crumpled photograph, handing it to Vala, "Was this him?"
Vala squints for a moment, trying to see beyond the creases of the photo, "Yes…" She says slowly, "How did you know that?"
"Jack bloody Harkness!" The Doctor screeches, "He's got Rose!"
"What?" Donna asks, now more confused than ever, "How can you be so sure of that? And what's this whole 'Bad Wolf' thing about?"
"Bad Wolf is a message," The Doctor explained, "But it's also Rose. She took the time vortex into herself to save me and once she was done she scattered the words all across time and space to lead herself back to me. She created her own paradox."
"And now because Vala saw the words when she was with Jack you think that means she's with Jack? I still don't understand it Doctor."
"Rose had all of time running through her head Donna, she could see everything,all that is, all that was, all that ever could be." A huge grin creeps its way across his face, "Oh Rose! You smart girl! Think about it Donna, just think, why would Rose leave a message for herself on a planet we never went to, a planet that it just so happens there is a Time Agent that we will meet and where there is another Time Lord? She knew!"
"Then what are we waiting for space boy?"
Martha stood looking down at the frail form of Rose Tyler. After all the stories, all the off hand comments, this is not how she imagined her. Skinny and sickly looking the woman before her paid almost no resemblance to the young woman Jack and The Doctor had spoken about. As she looked at her Martha felt the last drops of her jealousy melt away, she had seen how much The Doctor missed Rose, how much it pained him to think of her let alone speak openly about her, but now, seeing what the other woman had been through, had done to herself, to get back to him she finally began to understand. As much as she loved The Doctor, either romantically like she had in the past or platonically like she did now, she would never be able to bring herself to this for him. She would fight for him, possibly even die for him, but she would throw her life away on the slim chance of seeing him again.
"What's wrong with her?"
"As far as we can tell, nothing." Jack tells her, "There's no medical reason we can find, she just seems to be… shutting down." He's by Rose's side again, his hand grasping hers tightly, as if the physical connection will keep her with him, "Do you understand now Martha? If I bring The Doc back here and she dies, think what that would do to him? How can I do that to him?"
"But what if there's something he can do for her Jack? Some kind of treatment we don't know about?" She understands Jacks reluctance to bring The Doctor to see this, understands possibly more than he how much this would hurt him but she's still unsure.
"Treatment? Treatment for what Martha? She's not ill, as far as Owen can tell she's in perfect health apart from the fact her body is slowly shutting down!"
"And if she does die? What then Jack? You can't keep it from him forever, and if he finds out she was here, that she died and you knew about it, that you kept him from seeing her one more time, what then?"
Their debate comes to a halt when two golden brown eyes slowly open slightly and Rose stares up at them, "Jack?" her voice cracks and Jack feels his heart crack a little right along with it.
"I'm here Rosie, I'm here." He tries to smile, to reassure her that things will be ok but he knows he's making a poor showing of it, "You're gonna be fine sweetheart."
"No I'm not," She tells him simply, her eyes fluttering shut for a moment before opening again, "I'm dying Jack."
"Don't say that, Rose, we'll find a way to help you. There's always a way." A bony hand reaches across and cups his face. Her skin is so soft, just like he remembers it being, everything about Rose was always so soft, so welcoming and inviting. "You just have to hang on a little longer ok?"
"I came so far Jack…I… I'm so tired." This time it's a lot longer before she gathers the energy to speak again, "I…"
But what ever she was about to say is lost as her eyes fall shut and chaos erupts around her as the machines monitoring her blaze into life, screeching that her heat has stopped beating, that she's no longer breathing.
Jack's pushed back as Martha and Owen set to work, pumping drugs into Roses system, putting a tube down her throat to breathe for her, trying to restart her heart, anything the can think of to bring her back.
Only Gwen hears his anguished whisper as he sinks to the floor and she kneels beside him, her arms wrapping around his trembling frame. "I didn't think it would end like this."