Author's Note: This is third in my series Alternating Universes, after Through the Looking Glass - the original, not the Redux. Therefore, below you will find the unregeneratable Ten and his twin Rose. New readers may wish to read my other two stories in this series, Sea Change and the aforementioned Through the Looking Glass, before diving in.
A note on my titles this time:
A Rhapsody is "an instrumental composition irregular in form and suggestive of improvisation" - which describes any DW adventure fairly well, no?
A Fugue is – my paraphrase - a piece wherein the first instrument or voice begins a melody, then another joins in and repeats and varies that melody, then another, and another, etc, until they all wrap around each other like octopus vines and the world falls apart. Or not. My fugue is to come later. (There is another – also legitimate - use of 'fugue' somewhere herein, as well.)
The rest of my chapter titles herein are various musical terms and instructions, such as might be used to label and annotate different movements in a symphony. The reader may look them up for entertainment value; knowing each one is not necessary to enjoy the story.
Alternating Universes, Part Three:
Rhapsody and Fugue in Who Major
The Doctor and Rose's twin go in search of Corin's and Rose's missing son,
finding several surprising guest stars along the way.
FIND MY SON
Those three words, scrawled in blotchy black ink across the page of Corin's journal, had sent the Doctor, Rose's twin and Jenny flying back into the TARDIS and back in time to this morning, April tenth, sixteen years and ten minutes after they had last seen Corin and his Rose. The blue box landed in the small clearing in the center of the beech copse on one side of the back garden. The trees – they were larger, though fewer, than before – were just beginning to burst into emerald green, a light frosting of leaves showing through their glossy brown buds.
The time travelers rushed across the grass and onto the terrace, finding Corin slumped in a chair near the mansion's back door, head in hands. His journal lay open on the table beside him, pen dropped on top of it after writing the words.
"Let me guess," Corin said humorlessly. "You were driving." He looked up at the Doctor. "You're late. It's past twelve. I thought you hadn't gotten the message in time."
"I'm sorry," replied the Doctor, softly. He didn't know what else to say to his twin. Corin's face was etched with deep worry lines, the ghosts of tear tracks on his cheeks. He looked as though he'd aged 10 years in just the last day. There were hints of silver at his temples.
Rose didn't have the same reticence. "What happened to Tyler?" she asked, full of worry over the four-year-old son she'd left behind less than an hour ago to her.
But Corin was shaking his head. "Not Tyler. Joshua. We... He was conceived on Gallifrey." He took a deep breath. "It was the TARDIS. I don't know if he stole it or it stole him, but they're both gone. And they shouldn't be. The coral was only half grown; only had a few controls on it. It shouldn't have been able to go anywhere. But it did."
The Doctor asked, "Are you sure it went under its own power? Not stolen?"
Corin nodded. "It was in my lab at Torchwood. Full security, cameras watching. It's on tape. Joshua was working on it, climbed inside. And it just faded out."
"When did this happen?"
"Late yesterday afternoon. We've been searching all night, using our instruments – and the police, but can't find any trace."
"The TARDIS should be able to track it." The Doctor stepped back and held out a hand, inviting Corin to join them.
"Where's Rose?" asked her twin, quickly.
"She's upstairs. No," he added quickly, as she made to go inside. "Donna's with her. I don't think... seeing you..." He shrugged apologetically. Rose nodded, understanding.
The four returned down the path to the TARDIS. The Doctor and Jenny strode quickly to the central terminal, pushing buttons and peering at the screen. Corin, with Rose beside him, leaned against the pillar just inside the entrance, pain from several sources kicking him in the midsection.
Sure enough, it didn't take long for the TARDIS to pick up the trail of her daughter heading out in to space. Luckily, the baby coral hadn't slipped between times, but traveled straight to her destination: Gallifrey. "I wonder if it didn't home in on the gallinium?" asked Jenny.
"You coming?" the Doctor asked Corin, who simply nodded, then sent a message to his wife on their private telepathic link, letting her know the status of the search. Within a few seconds, they were halfway across the universe, whooshing into sight in a high valley; the end of the coral's trail.
Corin burst out of the TARDIS with the others hard on his heels. "Joshua! Josh!" His call echoed back from the nearby hills surrounding the valley, startling several varieties of winged creatures into the air, but there was no reply.
The Doctor had his sonic screwdriver out, scanning the area, homing in on a patch of ground nearby that showed traces of the recent presence of something large and heavy, now gone. The red grasses were crushed and flattened in an irregular pattern about six feet across; they hadn't yet either died or begun to spring back, so neither the appearance nor the removal of the baby TARDIS had occurred very long before. "There's no trail leading away, though, through space or time – or on the ground. Where the hell did it go?"
"Doctor?" came Rose's voice, tentative, a bit shaken. She was staring out across the valley floor, turning slowly.
He looked, but saw nothing but red grass and silver-leafed trees, under the orange skies. "What is it, love?"
"I... I keep seeing something, out of the corner of my eye. Just flashes of..."
She turned to him, then, focusing on him squarely. "The outline of a city. All around us."
Behind her, Jenny gasped, eyes purposely unfocused. "I can see it too! Just for a bit... then it's gone."
The Doctor and Corin whirled around. While Corin was trying to see what the women saw, though, the Doctor was focused on the actual landscape. He gasped and staggered back a few steps, as horror crept down his spine. "Corin... do you know where we are?" Corin turned to look where the Doctor was staring: a peculiar rock formation atop a nearby hill: several tall, slender columns of weathered rock, lined up right along the ridge. He didn't have to count them.
"The Nine Lords..." he whispered, horrified. His knees buckled, and he sat on the ground, hard. "The Citadel..."
The baby TARDIS had brought Joshua to the exact spot on this uninhabited planet where the capital city stood in another universe.
Corin looked back at the Doctor, eyes huge. "No. Please don't tell me..."
The Doctor slowly brought his hand back up, and clicked a new setting into the screwdriver. He pointed it at the recently-crushed vegetation again...
Corin didn't have to ask; his twin's eyes said it all.
His son was on the original Gallifrey, inside the Time Lock. Beyond all hope of retrieval.