Title: Any Old Storm in a Port
Author: Jessa L'Rynn
Characters: Rose Tyler, Eighth Doctor, Tenth Doctor, others
Spoilers: Sequel to "Double Crossing", Canon through Season 2
Author's Note: As mentioned, this is a sequel to "Double Crossing". You don't HAVE to read that first, but some things might not make sense if you don't. Written for EdgeofWorld for the September Support Stacie Author Auction. I promised it by the end of October. As you can see, I'm running a little bit (read ridiculously huge amount) late. EdgeofWorld has been incredibly and generously patient about that. On the plus side, she won 5000 words, and I'm running a little bit long (very nearly double, so I hope that might make it worth the wait). Everyone say thank you to the wonderful and extraordinarily patient EdgeofWorld for letting me put this up here!
Any Old Storm in a Port
"Are you all right?" asked an anxious voice in an equally anxious whisper. Blinking in an attempt to clear her head, Rose tried to sit up. "Best not try that just now," the man's voice continued. "I don't think he knows we're alive; let's try not to disabuse him of the notion."
The weight of the man's body on hers gave Rose a bit of a pause. She knew he wasn't the villain in this piece – she'd seen said villain far too clearly, thanks. He must've been a by-stander, which meant he was probably the by-stander who'd saved her life. As he was currently pressed to her in far too intimate a fashion for their brief acquaintance, however, he had left 'by-stander' behind and was well on his way to 'molester' – which would promptly acquire him the additional title of 'assault victim.' Rose wasn't one to be manhandled, and especially not by strangers.
There weren't any men who knew her who were allowed to handle her, either, come to think of it. She shook her head as she registered that the previous line of thought was a mess, and tried to sort out her thinking. She wasn't sure if it was the dimming of the usual presence in her mind that made her feel so funny or if she'd bumped her head. However, it worried her more than a little.
"Tell me your name," the man above her commanded in a low voice. "Don't close your eyes, look at me, what's your name?"
"What's your name?" Rose parried in what she hoped was an equally quiet tone. She couldn't just go handing her name out far and wide, especially not here and now.
"I'm the Doctor," the man answered.
Rose froze. "The Doctor?" she asked warily.
"John Bowman," the man said hastily, and Rose was almost certain it was a fake name.
No one went around introducing himself as just 'the Doctor', except someone who was just 'the Doctor'. She didn't have time to reach for his hand, though, because he rolled to the side. "Right, when I say 'run', run," he murmured, moving to get to his feet.
Shoving her very dark, very straight hair out of her face, Rose stood and helped the person who was very probably the Doctor the rest of the way up. They looked at each other as if operating on long-established signals, ticked off the timing with nods of their heads, and then ran like hell.
Six blocks later, they slumped together against a wall outside a café.
"Did I see all this right, though?" Rose asked as she caught her breath. "I mean, that bloke had a cloak and a hood, right?"
"Yes," said the Doctor.
"And he zapped people with a stick?"
"Yes," the Doctor agreed again, nervously straightening his dove-grey cravat.
"And I heard him right, the words he used, yeah? He said 'Avada Kedavra'?"
"I'm afraid so," the Doctor said.
"You're the Doctor all right," Rose decided. "No possible way that sort of nonsense would happen around anyone else."
The Doctor ran a hand up to try to straighten his chestnut curls. "All right, you win, I'm the Doctor. Who are you then?"
"Which Doctor?" Rose wondered.
"John Bowman?" he tried again, tentatively.
Rose took his hand. Cool but soft against her palm, it was nonetheless completely familiar. Not the softness, of course. Her Doctors didn't have gentleman's hands – they worked on the TARDIS pretty much constantly, a situation she had finally gotten explained to her after the last time they'd run into a Doctor who wasn't, strictly speaking, hers.
All Doctors were hers. Some just didn't know it yet.
She smiled her best smile, intent to tell him who he was and that he could quit playing now. Abrupt realization stopped her. Thinking back to the last time she'd had a bonus Doctor, she knew this Doctor's presence probably meant that the bastard in the cloak could have killed her.
"One of these days, I'm gonna be the death of you," she said grimly. "And if it's right after you pull this stunt, don't be too surprised."
"It's just a couple of days, Rose. I can't handle this with you there… um… they don't allow women!" He grinned proudly and nodded like it was his new hobby. "So, go on, pick a place. Anywhere in space and time!"
"You're lying," Rose accused, and tapped at her temple to emphasize that if his body language hadn't given him away (it had), she still knew better.
The Doctor frowned and tried to shake his head, look innocent. Then, he decided to skip that and just looked stern. "Yes, I am," he said. "And you're still not going with me, so pick a spot."
"Have we met?" the Doctor asked, looking both startled and surprisingly impish.
"Which one are you?"
"Would that answer my question?"
"Would you answer it if I said yes?"
"Would you have reason to think I wouldn't?"
"Would you tell me if I told you I did?"
"At what point do you think you'd have reason to suspect I wouldn't?"
"What did that mean?"
"What did what mean?"
"Me," he snapped indignantly. "Wait." He looked at her closely. "You cheated," he decided.
Rose laughed and, because she could, kissed the tip of his nose. "I love you," she said cheerfully.
The Doctor closed his eyes briefly and then eyed her warily. "I have the distinct impression I'm going to regret saying this, but do you often tell strange men you love them?"
"Just you," Rose replied playfully. "Men don't get much stranger than you, anyway." She gestured at the café behind her. "Call me Rose. C'mon in, I'll buy you some chips."
He stared at her, didn't move from the spot by the wall. "Would it help if I said you get tall enough that I can't kiss your nose?" Rose asked over her shoulder.
The Doctor straightened his velvet jacket and followed her. As soon as they were seated, after she had ordered, the Doctor looked quite sternly at her. "What do you know about me that you shouldn't?"
Rose was suddenly more than a little bit annoyed. "There's nothing about you that I shouldn't know," she said firmly. "You're here because of me."
"You are taking entirely too much amusement out of being enigmatic," the Doctor decided, "and I'm not sure if here with you is a safe place for me to be." He started to get up.
Rose knew several different ways to stop him, ways to convince him of her honesty and identity, things she could tell him that no one in the Universe had any business saying to him in public. She could whisper his name, tell him truths about himself that no one who didn't live inside his head should know. She could stay enigmatic and worry and frighten him. After all, the people who knew him best were his enemies.
Instead, she just held up her TARDIS key. "Key to my front door," she said. "I've had it awhile." It was no good revealing his future to him when she could just show him that one anomalous key. It was different, very different, but a sort of different he would recognize.
The Doctor blinked in no little surprise. "Where'd you get this?" he asked, turning the key over in his hand several times.
Rose snatched the key back and slung it and its chain over her head again. "You gave it me," Rose said, "along with a promise that you wouldn't leave me." She gave him her very best smile, the one that she knew for a fact he couldn't resist. "You were lying, yeah, but you do that a lot."
The Doctor frowned with enormous, outraged dignity. As near as Rose could tell, this haughty show was a personality trait that he kept regardless of his incarnation. It manifested differently, sometimes, but it was always about his arrogance. She'd sometimes wondered if it was a Doctor trait or a Time Lord trait, but had never known how to ask, before.
"Is that arrogance something you brought from home or just your natural personality?" she wondered.
The Doctor looked distressed, put upon, amused all at once. "We call ourselves Time Lords, Rose," he said, as if he despaired of her.
And that was never pompous, right… Rose laughed at herself for never realizing before. However, she couldn't tell this Doctor that he was the only Time Lord she would ever meet, so she just got up and fetched their order.
Distractingly, she found herself watching this green-eyed, velvet-wrapped dandy Doctor. He was beautiful in a poetic sort of way, all marble pale and sculptured features. She wasn't sure she'd've been able to ask questions if this had been the one to drag her into the service lift at Henrick's. Her first Doctor had always insisted on hiding his compelling attractiveness.
Of course, Rose had found that, so far, all the Doctors were attractive to her. A few months ago, back when she didn't know half the Universe thought she and the Doctor were married, she'd met a younger Doctor in a body older than either of her two Doctors and learned, among other things, that he kissed the same.
Rose watched the fairytale beautiful Doctor nibble at his chips and, lost in thoughts of the past and the future, stared at him. Did he kiss the same? Would he find her attractive at all with the temporary dye job and the spackled-on makeup? (The whole paint job was as heavy as she usually only did her mascara.) Did he know he was beautiful, as her current Doctor knew, as her previous Doctor had not?
"I must admit you're quite lovely," the Doctor offered playfully after a while, "even if I fail to understand how one of my companions feels she has a right to know everything about me."
"I'm not your companion," Rose snapped, insulted. Calming down with her usual grin, she added, "I've never been your companion. Except once, and it was only to keep the police constable from writing down 'sugar daddy' in front of my mum. She still slapped you, anyway, don't worry."
The Time Lord spluttered at Rose as if she'd just informed him of their exact relationship about the same way she'd found out about it. She blinked at him quite innocently. "So are you going to tell me which Doctor you are, now?"
He was too dignified in this incarnation to roll his eyes, apparently. Nevertheless, she could hear it in his voice. "I'm honestly surprised you need to know that. Haven't you seen pictures, if you're so close to me?"
Rose sighed. "Just… you don't have to believe me, ok? You really don't and I don't exactly care, since you'll not be allowed to remember this, no matter what, probably. Tell me where the Junior Death Eaters of Edinburgh came from tonight."
"I think it's alien tech," the Doctor admitted, apparently willing to let the subject change if she was going to help with the situation. "A Vandesig enexcoconverter, probably."
"Yuck," Rose observed. She didn't know what the thing was exactly, but it certainly sounded thoroughly nasty.
The Doctor looked her over thoughtfully, if dubiously, concern and calculation simultaneously present in his extremely kind eyes. (That was something that stayed the same – he might not want anyone to see it, but it came out occasionally – the Doctor had the kindest eyes of anyone.) "What are you doing here? I'm assuming you have a Doctor to travel with – where is he?"
Rose just shook her head, fondly exasperated.
"You, Rose Tyler, are a geek." The Doctor, tall and gangly, with wild hair and a pinstriped suit, was snickering at her, his glasses perched precariously on the end of his nose.
"Hi, I'm the Doctor, and I'll be the pot to your kettle today," Rose mocked, toying with his tie.
"Oi!" the Doctor protested. "I am sexy, chic even. Just last week, I'll have you know, I was accosted by a photographer for GQ!"
"GeeksQuarterly?" Rose inquired sweetly.
The Doctor, dark eyes sparkling fit to start a small brush fire, waved an admonishing finger in her face. Rose clicked her teeth at the finger and snickered at the frightened look he faked in reaction. "Well?" she invited, while the Doctor seemed to hunt around in his head for the next thing to say.
"You've seen every Star Trek episode ever, at least twice. You know all the rules of various 'fandoms'." He even made air quotes for her, because that was never a geeky thing to do. "You hide Terry Prachett novels and the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy behind your silly magazines. And then I offer to take you anywhere in time and space to spend a few days on your own and where do you want to go? A midnight release party for Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince." He shook his head, as if in utterly crushing despair. "You are a geek. You have a geek patronus, and you were sorted into Geek House instead of Gryffindor."
"You won't let me go to the last one, you won't even tell me what it's called, my Patronus would probably be you so yeah, there is no Geek House, I'm too crazy not to be a Gryffindor, and you're still the pot calling the kettle black." Rose grinned triumphantly while the Doctor tried to pout at her. "I'm gonna go pack," she finished, and left the console room before he could come up with a winning argument. He would if she gave him long enough, after all, so she made a rule of never doing that.
Rose wasn't sure how far she'd gone into her reverie, but she did notice the Doctor watching her with a very strange expression, so she shrugged and said, "I missed this year the first time through, so I wanted to come back and see it. He said I could go anywhere, but it turns out, coming here, I gotta come in disguise."
The Doctor seemed to be studying her, somehow, his green eyes wide and confused, his long chestnut curls just begging her to play with them. Rose resisted the urge, but only just. Suddenly, the Doctor grinned, beautiful and almost innocent, with wonder-dazzled eyes. "Bad Wolf," he said, his tone sweet and bright.
"'I am the Bad Wolf,'" he recited in a strangely lyric, distant tone. "'I create myself.'" He blinked in a sort of surprised delight and snatched her hands, his face suddenly entirely too close. "It's you, isn't it? You shine like stars, burn with the light fantastic. Born at your own hand and made…" He gazed at her in something that clearly reflected what Rose knew they would share in his future. Breathlessly, he finished, "Made for me."
Helplessly, Rose nodded, a split second before his mouth came down and covered hers. His lips were cool and soft, enthusiastic and playful. It wasn't different from his usual kiss, and yet it was at the same time, younger somehow, just like this Doctor.
Then, she was kissing him back and it was abruptly perfect. He matched her as easily as the Doctor who lived inside her head, the one who read her mind and knew exactly what she wanted. She wondered if this Doctor was doing the same, or if the contact between them had opened up the bond, allowing it to include this younger incarnation of the man who was her best friend, lover, life mate, husband. His presence in her mind didn't feel any different, but considering he was hiding from her at the moment, she couldn't tell clearly.
She gave a small whimper as his tongue brushed against hers and, against her better judgment, lost herself in his kiss. She'd done it before, fallen into his touch when he was too young, but she supposed that was her burden and her privilege. She always loved him, and would always go back to the him who knew what they had been through together.
They broke the kiss and the Doctor smiled at her, a hand reaching up to cup her cheek. "I apologize," he said. "I shouldn't have…"
"No," Rose interrupted. "No, don't be sorry for our kisses, Doctor. Just… don't be, all right?" She took a deep, steadying breath and stood up, squaring her shoulders before heading to the door. "C'mon. It's 2005 and at midnight, the newest Harry Potter book will be sold to millions of people. Where would you hide if you'd found a magic wand that works?"
"It isn't a magic wand, Rose," he said, smirking at her as he caught up to her and caught her hand. "It's a…"
"Clarke's Law, Doctor," Rose said firmly. She wasn't going to let this polite, charming Doctor start the know-it-all shenanigans of his successors, at least if she could help it. So what if it was an eternal aspect of his personality? That didn't mean she had to surrender easily.
The Doctor chuckled and released her hand, darting in front of her, then back to her side. "All right, then," he allowed. "I expect the young man will probably turn up for the book party if nothing else, but I'd like to find him well before that. The device in question takes what's in the mind of the user and makes it real. Did he say anything to you before he decided to kill you?"
"I didn't try to get into this one, if that's what you're asking," Rose said. She almost felt indignant. Just because he could sneak peeks at her future, it didn't mean he was supposed to know she was jeopardy friendly. It was like cheating. "I was just checking a notice about the party, something about traffic in the area, I dunno, and this bloke comes up claiming he was gonna take over the world. Most everyone laughed. I get it a lot, so I kinda got wary, but I didn't think anything 'til I got a good look at him."
"Is it bad?" the Doctor wondered.
"Let's just say that he isn't going to have a problem with his costume," Rose answered.
The Doctor shook his head, looking thoughtful. "The enexcoconverters are used by a highly telepathic race to make thought reality. It's necessary where they come from, trust me." He clasped his hands behind his back and walked around her, watching his shoes. "More than likely, especially given your observations, dearest, I'd say that whatever else that converter can do, it converted our erstwhile villain to not quite human."
Rose put a hand on his shoulder. "Just this once, would you scan for alien tech?"
The Doctor bowed and gave her a beautiful, cheeky grin. "For you, my lady, anything," he said. He might have ruined the courtly impression by kissing the end of her nose, but Rose let him get away with it under the circumstances.
"Promise me you'll come back?" Rose whispered.
"Of course I'm coming back!" the Doctor exclaimed, as annoyed as if he'd never ever left her behind for her own good somewhere before. "You've got your mobile, right?" he added in a quieter tone, because he had left her behind on more than one occasion and they both knew it.
"I've got it," Rose agreed, patting her pocket where the mobile was securely buttoned in. She looked at the Doctor, chewing her lip to hold back tears and straightening his tie because that was what she did now to hide her emotions.
"Is it all right?" he asked. "I knew I should've gone with the plain one, but you said swirly, and I just…"
"It's fine," Rose promised, leaning in to feel him close, to take in his scent and his warmth, just in case it was the last time she saw him, even if it was just this him that she never saw again. "You'll be careful, right? You promise?"
"Pfft!" the Doctor exclaimed, waving a hand as if to brush her concern away, as if there was no chance it was needed. Nevertheless, Rose could see worry in his eyes, and feel the heaviness of his presence in the back of her skull. "Not gonna be a problem, what can happen! It's just a negotiation, simple as a sandwich. Although, if I were going to Rukbat Four, I'd do better to say 'simple as a nine course meal with all the trimmings' than 'simple as a sandwich.' Do you know, they have a ritual for sandwich preparation? A whole entire religion schism that revolves around whether a sandwich should be warm or not, too, and…"
"Doctor," Rose whispered, cutting him off with the quiet catch in her voice. "You're not fooling me."
"Oh," he said. "Oh, Rose, don't cry. It's going to be fine, perfect, safe as houses, I promise. I'll see you tomorrow, you won't even know I've been gone."
"If you're sure you've got to do this by yourself?"
The Doctor's jaw set, his teeth clenched, his eyes fierce. "Yes, I do," was all he said, but written between the lines were the recent warnings. He knew a storm was coming. He'd be back for his Rose as soon as he'd flattened it. "If anything happens, if you're in any danger at all, you know I'll be there."
Rose smiled and tapped her temple. "I know, can't help it," she said. Then, because they never really said it enough, she added, ever so quietly, "I love you."
"I've never understood the gothic revival, or why she let you keep bats." Rose smiled at the slightly familiar, dark and vast console room that she'd seen once before. From what she remembered from the discussions after that adventure ended, the Doctor said he'd lost or destroyed most of this layout over the course of the Time War. The themes could be changes easily, but once they were gone, they were gone. This one, which she'd also called "Gallifreyan Homesick Blues," would never be viable again.
At least now she knew which Doctor he was. She'd met Seven before, and this design was brand new to him at the time. She'd known Nine first, of course, and her current, puppy-eyed, lunatic Doctor was Ten. That made this one Eight and it was a wonder to her that his Ninth self could call any man pretty next to this long-haired, velvet clad, delicately beautiful fop of a Doctor.
The Doctor chuckled and went to the console controls. "Actually she threatened to shut down the life support once to get rid of me and the bats. We came to an understanding when I promised to keep them away from the main console."
His hands danced over levers and switches, toggled simple-looking, vastly complex controls. Rose waited patiently, watching him play the console like a concert pianist, ready to lend a hand if requested. She probably wouldn't be needed – everything still worked on this TARDIS. She hadn't been destroyed to the base coral yet.
Rose looked from her contemplation of the Doctor's hands to find him contemplating her. "What was I like when you met me?" he asked.
"Blue-eyed and sad," Rose replied instantly. It was easily answered.
"And was it love at first sight, then?" the Doctor teased.
Rose chuffed in amused annoyance. He really thought a lot of himself, her Doctor. "All I noticed were your eyes and then your bum. We were running for our lives in the first five seconds."
"Story of my life," groaned the Doctor. "Meet a pretty girl, have to blow up a building."
"I never told you you blew up a building," Rose cautioned.
"You never told me you were Bad Wolf, either," he pointed out.
"Yeah, you usually don't tell people what you see," she mused, then shrugged and looked back into the green eyes that were dancing at her. "Sorta easy to forget you can do that."
"It used to be easier to control," the Doctor explained. He shrugged and shoved a lock of his hair over his shoulder, bending back over the console and prodding a few inexplicable whatsits. "Everything that's important stays the same from body to body, but there are small things, particularly skills, talents, worrisome behaviors that change."
He gave her an intense expression, almost the same one her brown-eyed Doctor had given her when he had to convince her that he had been her blue-eyed Doctor. She knew he was trying to say the same thing, this green-eyed, fey Doctor with the long wavy hair. He even reinforced it with words. "I am always myself. Always who I am and who I was." Then, he gave a quick, self-deprecating laugh. "Well, more who I've become. But I pick up and lose, say, bad habits."
Rose grinned with her tongue peeking out of her teeth and waited 'til she knew he was watching intently. Then she dropped what she knew was a bombshell. "Yeah, this you won't stop licking things."
The Doctor looked absolutely horrified. "Great Gallifrey, you're kidding."
"Nope. Not a bit."
"Outside this door, it is July 15th, 2005. Many very important historical events will occur before midnight, including the birth of a future world leader. However, midnight is the time of interest. And, at midnight, July 16th… Yes, Miss Tyler?"
Rose shook her head at the Doctor's impression. She couldn't decide if he was trying for educator or tour guide, so she went with schoolgirl because it could work for either. (Besides, if she gave him ideas… Bad Rose.) "Yes, sir. Isn't it Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, sir?"
The Doctor shot her a very, very odd grin. Then, he seemed to straighten himself out a bit. He reached into a pocket, put on his spectacles, and pretended to be checking the console. "Why yes, Miss Tyler," he said after a moment. "That is, indeed, the occurrence at midnight in most of the English speaking world. Very good. Ten points to… whatever house you're in."
Rose laughed and picked up her handbag. Bigger on the inside, she had everything she'd need in case she had to stay the night, and her costume, all in that one little bag. "I'm going, then," she said, as if he was chucking her out. "Don't get your knickers in a twist, I'm going."
The Doctor apparently chose to take her literally and patted his backside, apparently to make sure his underwear hadn't decided to bunch up on him. "I think they're fine," he joked. More sternly, he added, "Try to remember that you're missing out there. And don't go looking for any trouble."
"I never go looking for trouble," Rose said innocently. She followed it up with her best grin, and reached up to toy with his hair. "I look for jeopardy, that's completely different!"
"Rose!" the Doctor exclaimed, exasperated. "Try to behave this time, and don't give me a double coronary!"
Rose snickered. "I promise. Or, I could stay here and we could… you know… talk about this school teacher thing you were doing."
His expression went from alarmed to indignant to amused to completely filthy in less than thirty seconds. It was a pleasure just to watch his lovely face shift as he cycled through his emotions. "I said no double coronary," he said in a dark, silky tone laced with suggestion. "But remind me later. We'll… discuss it."
"Have fun at the party," the Doctor encouraged, and the doors of her home closed behind her.
Rose tried to think happy thoughts.
"On the plus side, I knew this was coming," Rose observed idly, leaning against a column in the local shopping mall and looking out at the gathering in a quiet corner of the food court. "Even if, as usual, I'm missing a party."
The Doctor patted her hand with absolutely no sympathy whatsoever. "We do have access to a time machine, my dear. And what do you mean, you saw this coming?"
Rose shook her head. He was a little too literal, this Doctor. He would probably start arguing with her about precognition if she didn't clear it up, and fast. "First thing boy geeks do when they get hold of something new and weird and 'cool' is test it works. Second thing?" She made a sweeping gesture at the group they were watching. "Show off to other boy geeks."
The Doctor smiled a poetic version of his most condescending "humoring the apes" smile. "That's what separates us true scientists from the geeks."
Reminded of Jack, who had first named that smile on her first Doctor, Rose gave him her most dry "humoring the daft alien" smile right back. "Tell that to someone who didn't watch you have a pissing contest with a Time Agent."
The Doctor looked thoroughly wounded, and then did a double take. "I trust I won?"
Rose laughed and hugged him, quickly but tightly. "Of course you did."
"I'm not sure I trust that tone," the Doctor observed with a light, teasing grin.
Rose waved him off. "C'mon, Junior Death Eaters, remember?"
The Doctor nodded, abruptly completely serious again. "Stay here, I'll go talk to them"
"Talk to them?" Rose shook her head firmly. "Doctor, that kid thinks he's Tom Marvolo Riddle, who was known to be a psychopath and murderer by the age of sixteen, at the latest. I don't think talking to him is going to be the ideal solution, here."
"Well, what do you propose we do then, my dear?" The Doctor's expression was both frustrated and humoring her, which Rose thought was a neat trick.
She grinned her brightest selling something grin at him. "Trick him, then talk to him."
Apparently, she'd finally sapped the last of the Doctor's patience. He gave her a look almost exactly like her husband did when they argued and then gestured, frustrated, at the animated little crowd. It looked like their wanna-be Death Eater was still holding forth, so that was something. "And how do you propose we trick him? One would assume a good geek knows what his friends look like!"
Rose shook her hair loose from the restraining pins she'd been wearing as part of her disguise. "I don't think he saw me, before, when he blew up the street in front of me. I'm going to go drunkenly stumble into their party. After all, what are dumb blondes for?"
"But you're not a blonde at the moment!"
"It's all in the attitude!" Rose said, striking a pose. When he just looked at her as if she were insane, Rose cupped his shoulders with her hands and spoke slowly. "Just work with me here."
He shook his head, worry showing as easily in the green eyes as it ever did in blue or brown. "Rose, I don't think this is a good idea. You can get hurt all too easily."
"I'm a closet geek, Doctor, you'll say so yourself. I can blend in with other geeks if I need to, no problem." She took his hand and squeezed it tight, for luck and to reassure both of them. "Besides, I'm safe with you. That part's absolutely certain. I'm always safe as long as you're there."
As Rose approached the crowd, the young man in the center of the group raised a large stick, the same one she had seen earlier. His speech had just come to a crescendo and Rose had to restrain the desire to hold up a placard for his evil villain impersonation. It wouldn't be more than a four, because he finished his speech with, "I am now Lord Voldemort. I pwn you."
Several of the other geeks applauded. One, however, who looked more like a very small bully than a geek to Rose's eyes, yawned. "Yeah, right, Roger. Whatever you say."
Roger, which was apparently the not-Voldemort's real name, shook his wand in the other man's face like her mum shook fingers to condemn her. "I knew you would doubt. I doubted myself, when my greatness came to me." He stood up straight then and flung his arms wide. Proudly, he declaimed, "But now I know I was always meant for this and this moment."
Rose decided that was her cue. She staggered into the group, hiccupped a giggle, and leaned heavily on the table, caressing the fake plastic table top as if it were her new best friend. "Oh, hi, am I interrupting something? Sorry." She took a staggered look at everyone, then giggled again and then staggered toward the shockingly dehumanized Roger. "OMG!" she exclaimed, wishing she could wash that right back out of her brain. She squealed appropriately and tottered some more, getting closer to "admire" the damage done. "Your costume looks fantastic. Just look at this, it is the coolest costume I have ever seen. Is that your wand?" She batted her mascara-caked eyelashes and murmured, suggestively, "Can I play with it?"
The geek stared down what was left of his nose at her. Coldly, he stated, simply, "No, go away."
Rose bounced frantically on her toes. "Oh please, oh please," she said, then continued in the most flirtatious tone she could manage, "I promise to be gentle."
She almost got a hand on the wand, but before she could grab it, Roger pushed her back and the wand zapped out green sparks and a loud bang. "Everyone will do as I say! I am Lord Voldemort. I will not be beaten."
The boy who had laughed before stood up, laughing again. "Your problem, Roger, is you don't know what to do when a drunk girl comes on to you. Well, that and you're a complete poofter, of course. You wanna be Voldemort, go right ahead you fat-arse fairy!" He moved as if to tower over the other boy, smirking.
The other boys in the group got very quiet, looking from "Roger" to his antagonist and back again. Roger's face was quite scary in Rose's opinion, especially in light of the fact that it wasn't even human any more. His red eyes were turning brighter, redder by the second. His nostrils flared and then his nose seemed, to Rose at least, to be doing a rather weird impersonation of a cobra's hood. With morbid humor, Rose renamed him Rogermort and decided to keep close but out of the discussion until she had another chance.
"I always knew you weren't really one of us, Dave," said Rogermort in a deathly calm voice. "You just wanted to be top bully somewhere, not boot licker with your own kind. Well, it's not happening anymore. Crucio!"
Dave looked more astonished than hurt for exactly three seconds, and then he started to scream. The other boys cheered and moved to congratulate their friends, apparently believing it was some kind of prearranged show. Rose almost felt sorry for them when they got a good look at the blank, cold stare on Rogermort's face, the fact that his nose had gone completely flat on his face now, and the fact that his snake eyes blazed blood red around cat-like slits. The non-combatants then looked down at the fallen Dave and realized that the agony was completely real as he started to shake and sweat.
The geek boys did the sensible thing and ran. Never let it be said that geeks don't know what's good for them, Rose thought.
"Stop this," she said, quietly and intently to Rogermort, her tone forcing him to meet her gaze. "You don't have to do this," she added, as determined and full of conviction as she had been when she talked a Dalek out of murdering one of few people who'd actually earned his place on a Dalek's hit list for something other than existing.
The would-be Voldemort kept his focus on the hapless Dave, who was writhing, screaming, begging for his life now. Rose wasn't sure how much longer it would be before he was begging for the end of his life. "Please, Roger, you don't want to do this!" Rose insisted. "It's that alien device you're carrying, it's made you into someone else. You've got friends, people who actually like you for yourself. You don't want to be a lonely, isolated bastard like Voldemort and have everybody in the world hate you. Just… just give me the wand, Roger and lets do what we can to fix this."
Rose gave the snake-man her very most earnest, convincing smile, her hand held out. Carefully, inch-by-inch, she edged closer to Rogermort, hoping to get a hand on the converter and interfere with the spell. What Rose forgot, the absolute rule about the Harry Potter world's "Unforgiveable Curses", was that the caster had to want it for them to work.
Rogermort's eyes flicked back to Dave, then shot up to hers, and he turned the converter wand on Rose. "You don't even belong here, meddlesome little bitch. Crawled up out of some gutter to play the whore to me, and now you want me to stop doing as I please?" He gave a cold, high-pitched, mirthless laugh. Rose's skin crawled. "What spell for you, I wonder?"
"This has gone on quite long enough," snapped the Doctor, striding into view. "That device is going to kill you and quickly, young man. You need to let me disable it if you want to live."
"Crucio!" Rogermort shouted again. He had the converter pointed, however, at Rose.
Rose had always thought the cruciatus would feel like being burnt at the stake without the relief of passing out from smoke inhalation. The converter, however, was working with Roger's thoughts, not hers. His idea of the most excruciating pain ever felt like every bone in her body shattering at once, again without the relief of passing out.
Having broken bones before and also having come within a singed hair's breadth of being char-grilled, Rose thought she preferred Roger's idea of pain. All the same…
"Doctor!!" she shrieked. She didn't care which Doctor turned up, her husband, her first Doctor, the blond in the cricket garb and salad goods, as long as he please rescued her from the crushing, wrenching agony. She wanted to stop screaming, knew it was only adding to Rogermort's vile enjoyment of the situation, but she just couldn't seem to do it.
Then, abruptly, the pain shut off. Rose's whole body, clenched in self-defense, convulsed. She staggered upright, not even sure when she'd fallen, dashing tears from her eyes and just trying to concentrate on breathing. The Doctor and Rogermort were rolling around on the floor, a couple of brawlers in a pub fight.
The Doctor got hold of Rogermort's cloak and jerked it sideways, bringing the hood up over the snake man's face. Rogermort dropped the wand and Rose stepped on it, hard, hearing something crunch. Then she grabbed for the back of the Doctor's frock coat. He flailed a hand for her, his tight breeches making his legs slide on the floor before he got his feet under him.
"Run!" they both shouted, the second they were hand-in-hand and as steady as they were going to get.
It was an odd sort of déjà-vu, Rose thought, as the Doctor ducked through the first door he saw into what turned out to be the service corridors of the mall. They fled down the corridor, hand in hand, and the only thing missing was the homicidal plastic. "I'll have to remember to ask you if you got déjà-vu when you met me!" she said, as the Doctor shoved open a door and, for the first time since they'd started this adventure together, produced the sonic screwdriver.
"How do you get time to think of that sort of thing?" the Doctor demanded, sonicing the door locked again behind them. He leaned against the wall, his breathing utterly unaffected by the sprint.
"I'm fantastic!" Rose answered with a grin. She hadn't run so much in almost two days, so she was ever so slightly out of breath. She looked the door over to see how strong it was. "Is it over? Did I get the wand?"
"We'll know in a second," the Doctor said. "If he starts banging on this door, you managed to destroy or damage it, but he'll want revenge."
"And if I magically appear right in front of you?" Rogermort's voice behind her was not exactly something Rose had expected at this moment. She turned in a flash and tried to kick at him, but he cast some sort of spell and Rose found herself hanging upside down in empty air.
Then, the man advanced on the Doctor. Even without being upside down, the situation put Rose's heart in her throat. The snake man still had the converter, and it was turning his every thought into dark, powerful, physics-defying magic. She thrashed and kicked and tried to get herself down, but there was nothing holding her up.
"Don't try using that on me," the Doctor advised. His voice was calm, soothing, persuasive. "It simply won't work, Roger, and you'll be harmed instead. Give me the converter." He frowned. " I can take you away, you know. You don't have to stay here and put up with it any more. I can help you, if you'll just let me."
"I don't need your help," Rogermort said. "I don't need anyone." His smile was a terrible thing, almost exactly like it had been described in the books. "This works, you know," he added, his voice sibilant and as snakelike as his appearance. "I tested it on Dave. Apparently, if you hit inanimate objects, they blow up. But…" His red eyes danced with wicked mirth. "I always understood the villain, you know. I got it."
The Doctor nodded and Rose realized he was going to encourage this one to make a speech. Rose was rather tired of the evil and loving it speeches, really. She had it in her to sympathize and sometimes even empathize with people who didn't know any better, like Daleks or Mickey's dad, but people who set out to do things wrong and harm others? She just didn't want to hear from them. Honestly, why hadn't the man assumed he was Harry Potter and gone out to become a superhero?
Maybe this was why there wasn't a Batman in the real world.
Apparently, however, Roger had seen entirely too many movies where the villain lost because he gave a clever hero, like the Doctor, too much time to think. He brought the wand swinging down. "Avada Kedavra!"
The Doctor, at the same moment, brought up the sonic screwdriver, pointing it at the other man. "Expelliarmus," he said quite calmly.
The sickening green beam of light from the converter struck the bright blue field from the sonic screwdriver and bounced. There wasn't even a split second to react. One moment, Roger was alive with a Vandesig enexcoconverter in his hand. Then, he spoke the spell.
The very next moment, he was a dark smudge on the grey concrete of the mall corridor.
Whatever was holding Rose up failed and she toppled. The Doctor broke her fall by the simple expedient of being under her when she landed. "Nice pants," she muttered, and tried to get off him.
The Doctor laughed, the sound giddy with relief.
"We need milk and sugar in here, too," Rose said to the smaller, dark-haired, bright-eyed Doctor, her Doctor's Seventh incarnation.
The Doctor, his blue eyes bright with joy and contentment, took a seat in his comfy wing-backed arm chair and tried to steal his hat back from Rose. Rose put her hand over it and wouldn't let him. He was in a good mood now that the shanghaied Star Trek convention was back where it was supposed to be, but he didn't seem to be willing to let her have his hat.
"I'll put the kettle on," his companion, Ace, offered. On her way to the counter, she stole the Doctor's hat and put it on her own head.
Rose laughed. "I think she wins," Rose decided.
"She usually does," the Doctor in the pinstriped suit agreed. He sat back on the fluffy divan, arranging mugs on the coffee table that had just appeared in the middle of the open console room.
"Isn't this a bit of a risk, just sitting around together?" the smaller Doctor asked. "We do have time lines to protect, you know."
"One cup of tea," the older, younger-looking Doctor said. "Hasn't killed us yet."
"It's what we do, Doctor," Rose explained. "The adventure ends, and one of us makes tea."
"Why did that work?" Rose asked, some time later.
They were back in the TARDIS, in the kitchen. Rose missed her kitchen terribly already. This one was nice and everything, but it didn't have the close, comfy feeling of the kitchen that moved in the same afternoon she did. Still, the TARDIS did find her favorite mug for her, and it was easy to tell the Doctor's favorite one because it was on the sideboard. "Phantom of the Opera?" Rose asked with a smile.
"I broke my 'Streetcar Named Desire' one," he answered with a shrug. He stepped around the table to fetch milk, and Rose had to admit she liked the beautiful, elegant looking piece. And the beautiful, elegant looking Doctor, too.
Rose made tea with her usual efficiency and placed the two mugs on the table. The Doctor gestured at milk and sugar and Rose watched him prepare both cups. "Not too different from last you, except the milk," she said with a grin. "My current Doctor tends to have a little tea with his sugar."
"I've done that before," the Doctor mused thoughtfully. "And it took Barbara months to persuade me to even try sugar in my tea at first."
"I've met Barbara," Rose said with a grin, thinking about how different that encounter had been from the disaster that started her interaction with Sarah Jane. "I adore her."
The Doctor shook his head, smiling at her wistfully. "You really are embedded deep if I let you meet Barbara and Ian. I've never told anyone else the number of times I've gone to visit them over the years."
"Yes, but they're special," said Rose with a rueful, self-deprecating smile. "Everyone who travels with you is, really. I learned that the hard way." She sipped at her tea and changed the subject. "You didn't explain how we ended up without Roger."
"Partly, it was the sonic. Setting 3856R creates a complex resonance. Partly, it was because it isn't a good idea to use a psychic weapon unless one knows exactly what one is fighting. The Vandesig are all very powerful, telepathically, but there are very few Time Lords with less telepathic skill than the most powerful among them. All that was required was the firm conviction that the converter couldn't harm me, and the resonance field to make my screwdriver act the same way as the converter. Finally, of course, there was knowing how the story ends."
Rose rolled her eyes. "Oh, don't ruin it for me!" she pleaded. Then, she laughed. "Although, I'd never say no if you'd let me borrow your copy."
The Doctor raised a teasing finger and shook it at her as if she were a naughty child. Rose pouted, but it did her no good. "Knew you'd say that," she admitted, finally. "You always say that."
"Thought I might," the Doctor agreed. "And now, I am looking at a very tired young woman who has obviously had a long day. Why don't you get some sleep and I'll take you to the party when you wake up?"
Rose smiled and nodded. She stood up and walked around him, finally giving in to the impulse to play with his long, beautiful hair. Then, because he couldn't be allowed to be smug and knowing about everything, she leaned close and whispered, "Come to bed?"
The Doctor shot her a slightly terrified look that made Rose have to hide giggles and a grin in his shoulder. He apparently caught on to her, though, because he wrapped his arm around her waist and held her close. "If my presence will help you sleep, I'll be glad to join you," he said solicitously.
Rose really just loved the Doctor, no matter what.
"No matter what happens, Rose, you must remember this. If you meet one of the earlier Doctors, you can't ever tell him about the Time War."
"I know," she said softly. The Doctor nodded and went to move on, as if he'd forgotten all about the subject, now.
"But it's just hard, you know," Rose said. "Sometimes I think about how sad you were, how heart-broken. How sad you are sometimes now, even. I just sorta wish I could change that some times." The Doctor shot her a fierce look and Rose glared right back at him.
"I learned my lesson, all right? Reapers, yeah, I watched them eat you, and it broke my heart. Broke me," she added, choking the memory back with effort. Five seconds before, she'd thought her father was the most important man in her life simply because he was alive. Then, there was no Doctor and she knew the real truth.
"Even if I had the chance, I'd never do it," she promised. "But Doctor, you gotta understand that I'll always wish I could."
The Doctor smiled and nodded, wrapping his arms around her and holding her close. "It's one of the reasons I love you," he whispered.
"So who's the hot guy?" said a very, very familiar voice. Rose turned with a startled, delighted grin and flung her arms around Jack's neck, squealing as he picked her up and spun her around, her TARDIS-created robes flapping.
People waiting in line around them laughed or grumbled, depending on their personalities and how bored they were with the huge wait for copies of the new book. Elsewhere, of course, Rose and the Eighth Doctor were running from someone who wanted to be Voldemort, but time travel was brilliant for that sort of thing.
"What are you doing here!?" she exclaimed in complete joy. The last time she'd seen Jack… didn't bear contemplating, actually. Jack was a sight for sore eyes, that was all. He was wearing a long military coat and had a shorter haircut. His blue eyes looked a little deeper than they had when last she met him. Otherwise, he looked just like he always had, completely naughty and completely attractive.
"Came with a couple friends for the party," he said with a grin. "Looks like you found lovely company." He held out his hand to the Doctor who, with his long hair, dressed in his velvet frock coat, faun breeches, and dove-gray cravat, blended in with the pretend witches and wizards crowded around them just perfectly. "Hello," said Jack, in his most flirtatious tone, "I'm Captain Jack Harkness."
Rose rolled her eyes and let him flirt, more amused than she could possibly easily explain, because the Doctor was flirting right back. They chatted amicably for several moments without introductions and Rose guessed that the Doctor knew Jack was also a time traveler some how. Possibly he was also catching on to Rose's body language, because he was playing along with the prank.
Or… "Jack, I dyed my hair, changed my makeup, and look basically nothing like myself," Rose suddenly realized. "How did you know it was me?"
Jack laughed uproariously, as did the Doctor, and Rose realized she'd been more than a little had. Turning around in a wild circle, she flung the thought, "You are so going to get it for this," toward her husband's amused presence in her mind.
"Missed you," said a warm, beloved voice next to her ear.
Rose flung her arms around her Doctor and, uncaring of the audience, kissed him passionately. He'd been gone a little over a day, but it had been entirely too long. She made a point of mussing his hair, too.
"Don't do that!" he exclaimed, pulling away from her. "I went to a lot of trouble to get that just so!"
"What are you wearing!?" Rose exclaimed, backing away to look at him closely. He was dressed in a fine black suit of an older, but dapper style. The coat had dark red pinstripes and he wore a dress shirt with a patterned ascot tie. His vest was also black and crimson, with square gold buttons and a neat watch on a chain tucked into the pocket. "You look like… like…" She shrugged. "I've seen this costume before."
"Barty Crouch, Junior," the Doctor said, bowing formally. "What do you think?"
"You're insane!" she exclaimed with a laugh, and wrapped her arms around him while he spun her around. "Although, admittedly, I've had too much of Death Eaters today, so if you'd like to change back to my Doctor, I'd be just as glad."
He grinned and shrugged. "S'got pinstripes, still," he pointed out. "And…" He gestured her to look down where he should have been wearing neat patent leather dress shoes (if he wanted to look like the movie that would be coming out in a few months). Instead, he had on matching crimson trainers.
"God I love you," Rose said, burying her face in his shirt. "Just… really."
"You still haven't introduced your friend, Rosie," said Jack, who was still openly admiring Eight while Rose got reacquainted with Ten.
Rose looked up at Ten and he winked at her. "You haven't introduced yours, either," Rose observed, pointing out the very reluctant looking young man in the fine Armani suit who appeared to have come with them.
"Ianto Jones," the young man said in a voice that reminded Rose of quiet grief. "I met these two very recently."
Rose introduced herself and realized that, however Ianto had come into the acquaintance of the other two, it had cost him dearly. She decided, if he was staying with them, that she would talk to him about it later. He might need a nearly normal, nearly human person to talk to.
For now, apparently, she had to help the Doctor finish springing his trap on Jack. With a wicked grin, she decided to get her own back with the Doctor as well. "Whatdya think, Jack? " She reached up and curled one of Eight's chestnut locks around her finger. "His hair's completely gorgeous, isn't it?"
"So's the rest of him," Jack said wolfishly.
Rose shot a quick glance at Ten's wounded expression before she turned to Eight as if to ask his own opinion of himself. "Standing right here," he observed, apparently fighting hard to keep the humor out of his tone.
Rose snickered. "Yes you are, and I love you for it," she said, and kissed his cheek. "Really, I can't thank you enough."
"Anything for you, my love," he said, then looked at his future self. "Obviously."
"Apparently, I never could help it," said Ten dryly.
"Part of her charm?" Eight offered.
"Waitaminit," said Jack, watching the two Doctors trade back and forth.
"She does just seem to find me," Ten observed.
"Any old storm in a port?" Rose suggested.
Both Doctors laughed at this and then looked at her as if she'd spun the stars up just for them. Jack just looked baffled.
"I'm very tall this time, aren't I?" said Eight, looking Ten up and down.
"Not as tall as I've ever been, though," Ten replied.
"You're the Doctor," Jack accused Eight, as if this was a crime the man had committed.
"Sorry, my dear fellow," said Eight, "but the punchline's already over. You've missed the joke entirely."
"I thought the joke was on Rose," Jack said, turning puppy eyes and wounded dignity on Ten. Rose would have said something at this point but she couldn't stop giggling.
Ianto said, "I'm sure the joke will usually be on you." His tone was dry and unrufflable and Rose decided that he could stay all he wanted.
Jack sulked off in a mock pout. Rose moved to go after him because she hadn't seen him in ages and didn't want to hurt his feelings in the first ten minutes of his return. Ianto rolled his eyes. "I'll go see he stays out of trouble," the young man offered.
"Thank you," said both Doctors.
"Leave you gentlemen to sort out your identity crisis," he added in a very soft tone as he walked away.
Rose laughed. "I like him already," she decided. "Where'd you meet him?"
"In the middle of a war in London. Your mum's safe, I stopped and checked on her. Mickey says hello."
Rose was completely baffled, as he'd just spouted all of that at about a mile a minute. "When'd you see Mickey?" she decided on. "How'd you see Mickey?"
"Long story," the Doctor told her. "Let's say goodbye, and then I'll show you."
Rose nodded, then turned to the previous Doctor. "Thank you for everything," she said devoutly.
He smiled his sweet, gentle smile at her, his beautiful face so perfectly angelic it nearly hurt to look at him. It broke Rose's heart to realize what these glorious green eyes would witness in a very few years. "Thank you, Rose. At least for a very little while, there's something to look forward to."
Rose nodded and they quietly understood each other. He could see the future clearly, this Doctor. Of course he knew there was a War coming. Of course he did. "It was so good to know you like this," she said, wrapping her arms around him.
He kissed her sweetly, a gentle benediction. "You really are a precious girl," he told her softly.
Rose sniffed, then nodded. "Love you," she said, just as softly. Then, because she always made him laugh when she had a chance, she added, "You really do have the best hair."
It was a toss up whether he laughed because of what she said or because of Ten's indignant exclamation. Either way, when he left them, he was happy. For Rose, that was enough.