The un-beta'd conclusion:
Chapter 4 - Preparations and Revelations
The Defense Minister swiped his badge through the scanner, and the doors slid open with a hiss. Inside, two men and a woman in white lab coats turned sharply from their computer monitors to give him their undivided attention.
"Anything?" he asked the room at large.
"Not yet, Mr. Saxon," the woman replied, glancing hastily between her two coworkers before looking him in the eye.
"You have nothing? After how many days, and how many staff?" Mr. Saxon asked, incredulously.
Dozens of technicians were working behind various partitions, but these three had the good fortune to be overseeing the entire operation.
"Not -" one of the men began, pausing briefly when Saxon looked at him. "That is, not nothing, per se." He seemed to gather his courage as he turned back to his computer to bring up a different screen. "We've analyzed Lazarus' research, and we know exactly how the machine worked, and we believe we can improve the efficiency and even achieve the miniaturization you've requested, we just..." he trailed off, looking at the second man for help.
"We just don't know where it went wrong, exactly," the third scientist reported. "We've got to work backwards from his post-experimental DNA to see if it was a problem with the theory or the actual implementation."
Mr. Saxon rolled his eyes dramatically, and held his arms wide, as if encompassing the entire, two-story laboratory space. "Isn't that exactly what all of this expensive, government-funded equipment is supposed to allow you to do?" he asked.
"We're doing it," the woman replied, "it's just... it's going to take some more time."
Mr. Saxon turned on his heel without a word. The aides who had silently followed him into the lab stepped quickly aside and followed him out into the corridor just as silently.
A few feet down the corridor, without a pause in his stride, Mr. Saxon snapped his fingers outside an open doorway. A woman fell in beside him a moment later.
"Good news, Burroughs," Saxon demanded. "Tell me some good news."
Agent Burroughs hesitated only a moment before reporting, "Torchwood is still in place. We had another report of the TARDIS, but agents on the ground failed to confirm the sighting -"
"Who sighted it, then?" Saxon asked.
"LInDA," she replied. When he failed to comment, she continued. "We did intercept a call to Miss Jones, Martha Jones," she clarified, "from the Doctor's companion. It doesn't give us much to go on -"
She cut off as they reached a door labeled "Harold Saxon, Minister of Defense".
Saxon opened the door himself, and was greeted by a simpering, "Good morning, Harry."
He entered the office, accompanied by his staff, but left them by the door to go and embrace his wife. "Dear Lucy," he greeted, before taking a seat behind his desk. He picked up a book that had been placed beside his blotter. "National best-seller," he read. "Congratulations!"
"It's finally being printed on the new editions after five straight weeks," she said. "But it's your biography, Harry," she added, smiling, as she sat on the desk itself. "You deserve the congratulations."
He gave a self-deprecating grin, and leaned in to collect a kiss from his wife. "And the polls?" he asked when they had parted.
He hadn't taken his eyes from Lucy, but one of the hitherto silent aides spoke up. "Landslide majority across all demographics, Mr. Saxon," he said.
Harry patted Lucy's cheek with a smile. "You have the recording, Burroughs?" he asked, turning to the agent.
"Yes, sir," she answered, stepping quickly towards the multimedia bank on the far side of the office.
"Let's hear it," Harry ordered.
Almost immediately, Martha Jones' voice, a little distorted as if coming over a telephone, could be heard in the office.
"Rose! Thank goodness you rang," Martha said. "I wasn't sure if I should call out -"
"Really, really can't talk right now," Rose's voice replied, "but have you got the internet up?"
Harry sat back in his desk chair, fingers steepled.
"Yeah, what's goin' on?" asked Martha.
"Need ya to find a trivia answer, right away," Rose told her.
"Some dictator holdin' the Doctor over a pot of boilin' oil or somethin'?" Martha asked.
"Somethin' like," Rose replied, distractedly.
There was a pause, and then Martha's voice came back on the line. "Alright, go ahead."
"'Kay," Rose began, "'Davey Moore was killed in the ring, then twenty-five years later died in his... blank.'"
"Right, that makes a lot of sense," Martha said, sarcastically. "Lemme see."
A computerized voice was heard in the background. "Impact in thirty twenty."
"What was that?" asked Martha.
"Just your typical life-and-death countdown." Rose told her. "Got it yet?"
Another pause, and then, "Got it!" Martha exclaimed. "Two Davey Moores, both American boxers, one died from a brain injury, and the other, twenty-five years later, pinned to the door of his garage by his own car. Nice," she added, in a subdued tone.
"Garage!" shouted Rose. "Thanks! Gotta go!"
"But Rose, wait!" Martha called back. "It's about you an' the Doctor..." a dial tone could be heard. "Bye," Martha added, before the recording shut off.
"As I said, sir," Burroughs supplied as she retrieved the recording, "nothing really to go on, but -"
"But Miss Jones' loyalties obviously still lie with the Doctor," Harry concluded for her. "Mummy's not enough of an influence. I think it's time we had a little chat with her ourselves." Agent Burroughs crossed the office back towards the door, but Harry halted her, adding, "And Burroughs, be sure and include the Torchwood footage."
"Yes, sir," she replied, and exited the office immediately.
Harry waved the rest of his staff towards the door after her. Once he and Lucy were alone, he opened his arms and Lucy moved to sit in his lap.
"Oh, Harry," she told him, laying her head on his chest. "It's all happening just like you promised."
"I told you Archangel was foolproof," he said. "And the TARDIS is almost ready," he told her, stroking her hair. "It won't be long now."
There was a knock on the door. Lucy gave her husband a quick kiss before standing at his side.
"Come in," Harry called.
One of the scientists working on the Lazarus project, the last to speak up at Harry's brief inspection earlier, entered the room. "Mr. Saxon," he greeted, then fell silent, looking between him and Lucy.
Harry prompted him to go on with a wave of his hand. When that failed to work, he asked, "Yes?"
The man shook himself and reported, "It's about the DNA, sir," he explained. "We were, at first, pinning our hopes on the DNA retrieved from Lazarus himself, but in his demise, the Professor's cells rejected whatever characteristics they had imbibed from the transformation, and we realized we needed to somehow analyze a sample from directly after the experiment, but nothing of the sort had been organized at the time, since he had been so confident as to conduct the experiment as a public demonstration -"
"Your point!" Harry interrupted.
"Yes, sir," he said, startled. "Um, the point then, is we discovered that a sample had been analyzed in the computer at Lazarus Laboratories, after the Professor's experiment, but before his transformation was undone." The man stood there, smiling at Harry.
"And?" Harry asked, after the man failed to continue. "Have you been able to locate the error? Have you perfected his research? Or are you standing here wasting both our time -"
"Oh, yes, sir, we did it," the man replied, "at least, it seems we have everything we need now to do it. But I thought you should see this." He stepped forward and placed the laptop computer he had been holding on the desk in front of Harry. "This is a depiction -"
"I know what it is," said Harry, awestruck. "Whose is it?"
"Well," the man admitted, "we don't know. But whoever's DNA this is, they were at the Professor's demonstration. The computer had to separate this sample from his in order to analyze it."
Harry stared at what he saw on the screen, with a look like victory on his face. "You can go," he ordered, without taking his eyes from the display.
"What is it Harry?" Lucy asked after the man had left.
He answered quietly, not really speaking to her. "A human, absorbing the Time Vortex... not quite so human as you thought anymore, my dear Doctor."
The Doctor closed the doors of the TARDIS, and moved around Rose towards the console, allowing her to trudge up the ramp at her own pace. She had been through quite an ordeal on the sun-scooping cargo transport, but insisted she could walk on her own two feet.
As the Doctor put them into the Vortex, Rose shook her head and said, "I can't believe our lives were just saved by a stupid pub quiz!"
"What's that supposed to mean?" the Doctor asked, coming back to her side to take her hand. If he managed to support her by the arm, she wasn't complaining.
"One of the first trip codes on the ship," Rose explained. "Or I suppose you'd've known whether Elvis or the Beatles had the most number one hits, pre-download, then?"
"Offhand, possibly not," the Doctor admitted, steering them around the console.
"Right," said Rose, "well, that just happens to be one of the random answers that stuck in my head from sittin' through Mickey's football matches."
"Lucky," the Doctor observed, paying less attention to what she was saying than to how she was holding herself.
"I'll say," Rose replied. "An' you were absolutely no good for the Davey Moores one. Good thing I had Martha's number." She sprawled beside the Doctor in the captain's chair as soon as they reached it, her eyes quickly falling closed.
The Doctor arranged her head more comfortably against his shoulder. "Well," he asked, "who knew that the crew would be so fascinated with twentieth century minutiae?" When she failed to respond, the Doctor asked, "Rose?"
She was sound asleep.
He checked her over briefly, amazed that she didn't show any signs of sickness, only of exhaustion. He stood, hesitating by the chair. He could take her straight to the med bay, but she would be much more comfortable in her own bed. She didn't have a fever or any other symptoms. He could run tests later.
She shifted slightly, and the Doctor caught her before she could fall across the seat. He picked her up in his arms without waking her, and that decided him. He carried her straight to her room, and laid her in her bed.
He managed to get her trainers off after a brief struggle with the laces. The covers were no problem, since Rose had neglected to make her bed that morning. The Doctor tucked her in, then sat beside her, scanning her with the sonic screwdriver.
Nothing detectible, he mentally added, still worried.
He kissed her forehead, then quietly slipped out of the room.
"Tea," he said to himself in the corridor, spurring himself into action and stepping off towards the kitchen.
The Doctor tried not to think about what had just happened on the ship, busying himself with the tea and selecting diagnostic equipment from the med bay, but his mind was too full of hypotheses and simple fears.
Rose had been possessed by a living sun.
He had no idea how she had survived so (apparently) unaffected. He was immensely grateful that she had, but still, he worried.
And he couldn't help the comparison in his mind to Bad Wolf, which left him wondering if maybe that experience had wrought some change he hadn't detected.
The Doctor was back at her door almost before he realized it. Calming himself, forcing himself to approach the matter rationally and scientifically, he entered and placed the tray of tea and medical supplies on her bedside table.
She stirred slightly, smiling once she had opened her eyes and seen him. She stretched, then took in her surroundings. "Sorry," she said, "guess I was a little tired," she admitted.
At least a third of the Doctor's fears were calmed just by seeing her again, and he helped her into a sitting position. "Here you go," he said, handing her the tea. "Just relax," he added, efficiently running each of the devices over her in turn, examining her while she sipped her drink.
Most of the analysis would have to be done in the med bay, but the Doctor wasn't getting any negative indications. He took a small blood sample, set the last device down on the tray, and sat beside Rose on the bed, just watching her.
She finished her tea, then handed him the cup. "I'm fine," she told him, laying her hand over his as he set the cup down on the tray for her.
The Doctor gave her a small smile. "I know," he said. "But you do need some rest," he told her "And food!" he suddenly realized, springing to his feet. "You must be starved; you hardly touched your breakfast."
Rose grinned at him. "I was a little distracted."
"Right," the Doctor grinned back, then shook himself. "I'll go get food," he declared, picking up the tray. "And you rest," he instructed, heading back towards her door. "And we'll take things a little easy for a while... ah, I never did take you to the banana groves at Villengard, did I?" She shook her head. "That's good. That'll be nice and relaxing, and secluded, and, well, yes, we'll do that." He wasn't about to say "romantic" aloud. Especially since he wasn't entirely sure she would agree.
"Yes, Doctor," Rose told him, lying back down under her blankets, "we'll do that."
He watched her close her eyes, then quietly shut the door.
The Doctor headed straight back to the med bay, much relieved by his visit, but still needing to make sure that Rose was one hundred percent unaffected. He processed the blood sample, checking for the usual, and decided to run a DNA analysis as well. Just as the DNA results displayed on the screen, he realized he still needed to go and get Rose's food.
Much like just after his regeneration, the Doctor was too relieved and too distracted to pay attention to a small anomaly in Rose's DNA that had become rather more pronounced after their latest adventure.
"Comfy?" Ms. Burroughs asked.
Martha squirmed a bit in the metal folding chair, but didn't complain. "Yeah, fine," she said. "Now for the hundredth time, what's this about?"
The other woman dimmed the lights, then stood aside as a monitor flickered to life. "This footage was taken from the Canary Wharf incident," she explained. "Do you recognize this man?"
Rose and the Doctor had said they'd been at Canary Wharf, so it was no surprise to Martha when what seemed to be a security tape displayed the Doctor, dressed in his typical pinstriped suit, in the middle of a large, white office.
Martha was about to deny any knowledge, just for kicks, when she recognized the woman working at the computer terminal in front of the Doctor. She watched as he raised the sonic screwdriver to Adeola's temple, then saw her cousin collapse.
They'd always looked so similar, for cousins.
It was like watching herself being killed by the Doctor.
Another woman in the film approached and pulled off Adeola's earpiece, recoiling in obvious horror. Martha felt the sickening certainty that she'd just pulled out Adeola's brains.
"Yeah, maybe," Martha replied at last, reeling.
I know I made quick work of the episode itself, but the original just never really appealed to me, and I thought this way would be more fun. Think of it as a trade-off for "Blink" since that's going to have so much more of the Doctor (and Rose!) in it.
In the meantime, stay tuned for... "Human Nature"