Title: A Paradox by Any Other Name: Chapter Three
Rated: PG
Pairing: 10.5/Rose
Summary. My Version of what the Christmas Specials should be. 10.5 and Rose realize the trouble 10 is in.
Spoilers: vague references to WoM but won't spoil you.

A Paradox by Any Other Name: Chapter Three

It happened when her Doctor was rambling. In an effort to catch her up, her Doctor had decided to spend an hour every day telling her about his travels since last they were together.

So here they were sitting on a large swing in the the garden on top of her penthouse apartment in Cardiff, looking at the stars together.

His idea was inspired by two things.

"One." He held up a finger in front of them. " You keep getting annoyed when I reference experiences and laugh at jokes you aren't in on, and B, Wait... Two. " He held up another finger. "Relationships require communication Rose. Com, meu ni kay shion."

He'd been so serious, but she rather expected he wanted an excuse to ramble on about things no one else here could know, and well even if they could, she didn't think anyone else could handle his gob.

"So, the genius old man I was telling you about? Built a ship out of food Rose. End of the universe, no university and one of the only other people I could call a genius-"

She nodded.

"He ends up being The Master-"

"The. Master?" She raised an eyebrow at him and lifted her cheek from his shoulder. What a silly name.

"Yeah, Freuid's field day for sure, but remember how I told you I turned into a human for a bit? Well he turned himself into one to escape the Time War. Did I not tell you he's another timelord? My arch enemy all these long years. Used to be a friend-"

He gave her that look to make sure that while she was sipping her tea and closing her eyes that she was paying attention. No doubt there would be pop quiz later.

"End of the Universe, Evil Timelord. Right."

"Right, well he stole my TARDIS and went back to oh, 2007? And became Prime Minister! Prime Minister and before that Minister of Defense Harold Saxon."

Her eyes flew open and her heart stuttered. Saxon.

"Saxon. I met him before I met you, we, we had this conversation before."

The Doctor's eyes widened. "No. "

She sat up. "We were going back to Mums and there was a poster of him and I remembered-- I remembered- " She looked at him. "You were there."

He searched his mind. "And I told you that I'd never done that before and not to tell me more."

Somethings were clicking in his mind. Rose, Saxon, Saxon Rose. Not possible. He would have remembered being there. Unless. The possibility was far worse. If he hadn't been there than his Timelord self would in the future. Which was very bad. He glanced at Rose. He didn't want to tell her how bad. Or tell her about the trend in his mental state, the trend that would only get worse once Donna was gone. Having to give up Rose, he knew that couldn't have been easy for his other self. He would have no more companions. No more people to care about and lose, but also no one, as Donna had wisely noted to stop him as she had stopped him when he had killed off the Carrionites. And Rose would be in danger, The Master wouldn't visit Rose on a social call. She would be in danger because of her connection to him. There was no telling what his other self would do.

He smiled tentatively at her and reached for her hand. It was Rose's past. She would survive to be here with him, she had to. With no boundaries of course his other self would save Rose. No matter the costs. He shuddered.

Rose's eyes widened. "It wasn't you, but, then," He could see the wheels turning. "It will be you, in the future- the, the other you."

"Rose," He fervently searched her eyes. "What do you remember?"

She shook her head. "It was years ago! I remember... him, and you. And something glowing blue- oh sonic screwdriver. And, and Nothing else. I know I should remember more. When I told you, with the poster of Saxon I remember I just couldn't remember more and it was odd. Like I should remember something important but it just wasn't there." She squinted. "It's like. Like you're watching a movie and you build up to some conflict and the movie ends suddenly but you know that there must be more to it, but no idea what that should be."

"That's, that's not good."

Something else clicked. "Saxon was a timelord. Saxon had your TARDIS? Saxon was... bad?"

The Doctor winced. "He turned the TARDIS into a paradox machine, and uh, "

"What." She stated.

"He had these creatures kill off 1/3 of the human population on Earth, and," he scratched the back of his neck. "ruled the world for a year, before I stopped him."

"WHAT? What took you so long?" She pulled away a bit.

"He captured us, aged me. I won't be that handsome an old man, Sorry. And. And " He looked to the stars for a good way of saying it.

"He hurt you." She whispered.

"Yeah." He breathed.

"I'm so sorry." She rubbed his back. "So, when I was back home, there was only 1/3 of the population left? One third of my friends..."

"Oh, no. Paradox machine. When I defeated him everything went back to normal, generally speaking. Most people didn't remember."

"I'm so sorry." she said.

"Yeah," he swallowed. "So it was a bad time for me. Rose things haven't been...happy since you left my life." There was a warning in his voice.

"I missed you." She said as a sort of apology for what had been out of her control.

"I know."

And it clicked for her. Her eyes widened. "Are you saying that I met the monster who killed off one third of -"

"Yeah."

"By accident?" She bit her lip, worried.

He looked at her for a minute without saying anything and her breath caught.

"Right, when was the last time that anything having to do with you was happenstance." And it was her turn to become quiet.

"Rose." His voice was strained. "I need to know what happened to you."

She broke out of her thoughts. "I told you I don't remember."

"I know. And I also know that a timelord can erase memories." He said carefully.

"Like you had to do to Donna." She breathed. He had explained at a few days ago exactly what Donna's fate must have been. There couldn't be a human timelord metacrisis.

"Yeah. But see, I can also, if you'll let me, look into your memories and discover what happened. If."

Rose's hand went to her neck. If she was missing anything, organs, or if something had been put in her, her monthly checks with the TORCHWOOD Doctors would have turned up something. She shivered then held her head up high. If she remembered the Doctor being there, then, he wouldn't have let anything too bad happen to her. Not her Doctor. The one who knew her, and and lost her.

"If you actually met him. This, could, "

She gave him a look.

"Maybe just be a coincidence and," He tilted his head in acknowledgment that coincidence and him and her were rarely bedfellows, but he had to hope. " And we could both sleep better at night worry free, or.... And well, there is only one way to find out."

"You'll read my mind." She stated.

"Just the one part. I'll be careful. I promise." He cupped her cheek.

She let out her breath she had been holding in. As if to hold in the terrifying possibilities.

"Ok."

He nodded vigorously. "Right. Now relax." His hands brushed aside her hair from her face tenderly.

She gave him an annoyed glance, as if she could knowing what was about to happen.

"Right. Well, it's easier if you relax."

His hands brushed her temples and he closed his eyes.

" Imagine wooden doors where ever you don't want me to go, and pull up to the forefront that memory."

She did the best she could. How did you focus on every part of your thoughts and memories at once that you wanted to keep to yourself?

She pulled up the strongest part of the memory the part that kept pulling her back. Saxon gripping her arm, and seeing a sort of tortured look on Great Hair's face.

She could feel the Doctor smile at that. Great Hair, eh?

With Saxon holding her arms there was a beat. A rhythmic thumping. A driving rthym. Fear. Her fingers beat out that beat on her leg. Traped. Thump thump thump thump. Over and Over again. Four beats repeated. The sound was a call to action. Telling her to flee to go but she was frozen. Stuck. Thump thump thump THUMP. She had made a mistake. Thud thud thud thump. She was going to die. It changed to sound like a heartbeat. She had to get away! The Doctor's face changed. It became less and less the sad but resolute and more manic and, scary. She had never been scared of the Doctor before but that emotion was there now. She was scared of the man holding her arm and the one in front of her at the same time. Her rapid breathing even began to match the tempo of the only beat there was. Three gasping breathes followed by the inability to take in any more air followed a frenzied release to be caught up in again.

Some outside shockwave hit her then draining her reserves.

No wonder she had never connected the happy smiley man with this.

The fear held her here as she felt herself begin to sink and drown in the memory.

"Let go." His voice whispered, as warm lips pressed into her forehead.

While her body was still stuck in this moment her mind felt free and she seemed to float above the dark alleyway to find herself held in a comforting cloud.

"As long as you're with me, you're safe." Distantly she could feel his lips tickle her head.

"I'm trying to remember but I can't everything goes dark and--"

"It's ok. Human memories are like this. Some points have stronger emotional ties. Stick with you longer, especially trauma. You get stuck in that moment and can't get past it. It's a biological defense mechanism. A reminder of danger to keep you from repeating it. Reading minds isn't like reading a book Rose. You can't just flip to a page and see the whole thing. But I can help you search through it for bits and pieces." She felt something soft, like eyes brush her forehead, and vague dampness. "So you can let go and heal. I'm soo so sorry Rose. I'm scared of what more we'll find, but I just...wish I wasn't the reason for your pain, time and again."

She wanted to say that it wasn't his fault but she was feeling drained and too tired already to argue. She could feel care and safety flowing into her very pores like a warm blanket to a shock victim.

And suddenly she was back in her body.

"Doctor?" She was surprised at how exhausted her voice sounded.

She looked up into his eyes. "Are we done?"

"For now." His eyes were tender. "I think we could both do with a rest before we try that again, and maybe a meal." His stomach grumbled in agreement.

They both forced a laugh at that. She opened her mouth to ask, "Was it real?" But refrained. She was too drained, and scared of the answer to really argue against a good meal and some rest before facing a reality she had no control over...