Chapter Two: Out of Place


Ninth Doctor

Some of his people sneered at him and said that he had a habit of picking up strays. The odds and ends of the universe, the dregs of all of time and space. He picked up the type that Time Lords turned their noses up at, the types that not a one of them would ever bother to understand. Worse yet, he wasn't predictable; one never knew who or what the Doctor would pick up next. On more than one occasion, he'd been convinced that there were several illegal betting pools carrying on as his more amused and/or stuck-up-ly superior fellows tried to guess who he'd come up with next.

What they never really understood, not at all, was that he usually wasn't looking. That was his secret, of course. Left to its own devices, the universe tended to point him in the right direction, and he was, oddly enough, prepared to accept that. More often than not, his "companions" found him rather than the other way around.

But he'd never before found the same person twice without meaning to. Without even remembering them.


Spiral backwards further in time, and watch the pieces not line up.


"You know, this is hardly what I expected to be doing with my life," Rory groused around the ice cream cone.

"You've got chocolate sauce on your nose," Amy retorted. "Who puts chocolate sauce on an ice cream cone, anyway? It's melting everywhere."

Her partner rolled his eyes. "What do you care?"

"I don't."

She ribbed him because he was hers, and they both knew it. Regulations frowned upon marriage between agents, of course (strangely enough, the Powers That Be didn't much care if they slept together, but heave forbid they should make that relationship exclusive), so they pretended that wasn't the case. But his grin met hers, and Amy felt herself try to flush.

Stop that, you. You're supposed to be the tough-as-nails Time Agent here, not a blushing schoolgirl out for ice cream with her boyfriend. Focus!

Not for the first time, her gaze shifted off of Rory's face and to a humanoid-looking alien sitting at the bar. He was nondescript: brown hair, dark eyes, and just a little bit more plump than the human norm—his only real identifying factor seemed to be an absolutely amazing ability to eat never-ending amounts of ice cream. Having picked a dump of a planet like Daul IV to hide on hardly counted as an identifying factor, after all.

"How many sundaes has he eaten, anyway?" Rory murmured. "That's got to be murder on his heart."

"Eleven," Amy groaned. "Plus the four cones. This is taking forever. Not to mention that he isn't human, so you have no idea what his cardiovascular system is like. Perhaps this is his idea of a healthy meal."

"I do have two degrees in xenobiology, you know. And no one lives off of ice cream."

"One and a half degrees. You never finished the other one."

"It was hardly my fault that my professor took a liking to you and was put out to find us sharing a bed."

"He wasn't my type."

"He better not be!"

They were oddities for the agency, unlike some of their counterparts. Not only was Amy not interested in random gentlemen with green and blue tentacles, she was rather determinedly exclusive. Rory was worth it.

But the banter was normal, of course. She and Rory could do it in their sleep, and sometimes seemed to—this wasn't the first stakeout they'd spent together (she'd lost count somewhere around twenty-seven, and that had been a few years back), and they usually poked at one another's history. Or childhood. Or anything, really. It made for good, distracting conversation, and besides—they'd known one another for absolutely ever.

"Oh, god. He just ordered another cone."

Rory groaned, but at least he lowered his voice. "Can't we just arrest him now?"

"Don't I wish. But we need his ship, whatever it is."

"Which we somehow managed to miss back in Egypt. Some time agents we are."

"Hey! I didn't count on red hair distracting that snake-priest fellow."

"You could dye it, you know," he suggested. "It'd certainly make my job easier every time we wind up in some primitive society that thinks it makes you a goddess, a devil, or both."

"No way. I like being ginger." But it had been a bit of a problem around the pyramids, where their skin color alone made them stand out and where no amount of disguises would help either Time Agent blend in. Unfortunately, this particular alien (she had to think of him that way, even though neither of their vortex manipulators' scanners could figure out exactly what species he was), had a habit of sticking his nose in places where it didn't belong.

Such as playing god in pre-Alexandrian Egypt and donating alien technology to build the pyramids.

Amy choked back another laugh at the thought; the assumption that alien technology had built the pyramids was one of the biggest urban legends in history. The Time Agency had investigated it no less than a hundred times, and they'd never found anything concrete—until Amy and Rory had stumbled upon this dumpy looking alien on a strange moon rigging poker games, then followed him to ancient Egypt and watched him set himself up as a god.

The fact that the situation was a textbook example of a self-fulfilling paradox only made the situation worse. She was going to have to write a point paper on this (because Rory Williams would never be caught dead writing a point paper when he could dissect some unknown species instead), and the report was going to be uncomfortably long. Of course it was. In the six years she'd been a Time Agent (four of them partnered with Rory, and the other two trying to convince her superiors to do just that), Amy had never managed to wind up writing a short report. Truth be told, she wasn't sure that the Time Agency accepted short reports; everything required seemed to be gargantuan.

"He's moving." The whisper slipped out of her mouth automatically, and the hunt was on.

The two Time Agents caught up with the portly alien just as he was reaching out to unlock an air car. Amy was half-disappointed by that; she'd really hoped for something more interesting than a very pedestrian-looking air car. Still, boring simplicity usually did make the job go easier.

"Stop right there," she ordered the alien, and was rewarded with a very confused glance. After all, it wasn't like her brown pants and blue shirt were much of a uniform; Time Agents simply didn't wear such silly things. "Time Agents. You're under arrest."

She held up her badge; to her left, Rory had already drawn and was already aiming his squareness gun right at the plump fellow. Weapons usually did a better job of communicating than humans, anyway.

Thick eyebrows clumped together. "I'm what?"

"Under arrest." Amy'd already put her identification away but hadn't drawn; one of them had to cuff the moron eventually, though her hand was resting on the butt of her gun.

"You can't arrest me," the alien replied stupidly.

"Looks like I just did," she retorted cheerfully, stepping forward. "Under Time Agency Charter six-two-nine, you have the right to silence only if you choose to employ it. For the record, please state your name."

Nervous laughter. "You don't even know my name and you're trying to arrest me. Fancy that! You can't arrest me, by the way."

"We certainly can. We've hard evidence of at least three charges of Time Tampering and one of Impersonating a Deity in an Underdeveloped Society." Amy stepped forward, cuffs in her right hand. "Turn around, you, and face the—"

The alien backed up several steps. "I think not. In fact, I'm leaving, as I most certainly do not fall under your jurisdiction."

"Everything that travels in time is our jurisdiction." She could hear the eye-roll in Rory's voice. Generally speaking, he was more patient than Amy, but this was getting to be a bit much. "Now, stand still or I might accidentally shoot you."

Not that Rory would. Rory had a hard time shooting anyone if he or Amy wasn't in direct danger, but he bluffed well.

"I'm a Time Lord."

"You're a what?" Amy demanded as Rory looked at the chubby figure disdainfully. Now that's a new one. Never had a suspect try to get out of arrest using that excuse before. But she had heard just about every other one, and she made 'Time Lord' a mental addition to the long, long list. Because it had to be an excuse, of course.

Although she and Rory had long since been briefed on Time Lords—all agents were—this mousy colored, short, and overweight alien bore absolutely zero resemblance to the ancient and wise guardians of Time. He was dressed in purple and brown, and hardly looked older than Rory, and that was even if one discounted the slovenly appearance, the enormous number of ice cream servings he'd eaten, and the idiotic demeanor. She'd never met a Time Lord, of course (and Amy didn't know of a single Time Agent who had), but there was no way that this embarrassingly sniveling creature was—

"Did you hear that?" the aforementioned embarrassingly sniveling creature asked.

"No. You really think we're going to fall for the oldest trick in the book?" Amy retorted. "Now. Your name. For the arrest record, if it's not too much trouble. Which it had better not be."

"The Monk," the alien replied automatically, his brown eyes searching every which way. "Quite seriously. I heard—"

"Oh, just turn around already!" Amy overrode him, aware that this situation had somehow escaped her control and needing to fix that. But before she could continue, a cheerful voice interrupted.

"Monk!"

Without warning, a tallish man shouldered his way past Rory, completely ignoring the weapon now pointed at his back. His short hair was dark and so was his clothing, but the gleaming smile on his face was somehow contrasted by a sharpness in his cold blue eyes.

"Monkedy Monk Monk Meddling Monk. My old friend." The smile grew still larger, but every instinct Amy had was screaming danger. "I've been looking for you all over. Where have you been?"

Amy, Rory, and the Monk all spoke at once.

"Wait a minute, you—" she started as Rory ordered:

"Step to the side and put your hands where I can see them."

"I've never seen you before in my life," the Monk objected.

"Monk, I'm disappointed in you. My face might have changed a bit, but I'm sure you can figure it out. This daft old—new—face isn't that different." The smile turned poisonous.

"Doctor?" the portly alien gaped, but Amy interjected.

"Oi! You. Baldy. You're interfering in an arrest, and if you don't step aside right now, we'll be taking you in, too."

Those blue eyes zeroed in on her, and Amy wasn't quite sure if he was laughing at her or had marked her as a single-celled amoeba without the right to form coherent speech. Possibly both. "Don't be ridiculous."

Then he swung back to face the Monk.

"They're arresting you? Fantastic! But I'm afraid you have other obligations to keep, so hand over the TARDIS key, if you please. You've got a date with the High Council, old friend."

"I can hardly see you working for the High Council, Doctor—did you hear that?" the other said hurriedly, his eyes wide.

"No."

Amy'd had it; in one smooth motion, she stuffed the cuffs into the back of her belt and drew her weapon. "Both of you. Hands up. Now. You, Monk-or-whatever-you-are, are under arrest for the previously motioned charges, and Baldy, you're under arrest for obstructing an arrest."

The newcomer stared at her like she'd just drooled on her shirt.

"You're trying to arrest me." It wasn't a question.

"Glad you finally noticed," Amy shot back.

He swung to look at the Monk. "You did tell her, yeah?"

"Of course I did! She laughed at me."

"Well, you are rather laughable for a Time Lord. Even more laughable than me, and that's certainly sayin' something," Baldy retorted, and then looked Amy straight in the eye. "Unfortunately, he's not lying to you. He is a Time Lord, an' so am I. According to your Agency's original charter—line twenty-three, I believe—that makes us untouchable. So we'll be—oh, I did hear that. Monk, for once in your life, you're not making things up, are you?"

Amy scowled at him. The Time Agency Charter was public knowledge; even if he did have the right line number, that didn't mean a thing. Not that she had the thing memorized; she'd have to check later. But the Monk was chattering again.

"I tried to tell you before, Doctor—"

"Before? What before?" the Doctor's (?) voice grew sharp. What was with these names?

A new voice interrupted.

"No one move."


There were certain sleeping agents that worked on humans, and others that worked on Time Lords. The number that affected both was rather smaller; due to different physiology, not everything that worked well on one konked the other out. However, as the Doctor woke with a very fuzzy feeling at the back of his throat, he was pretty sure that he'd been hit with one of the better ones.

Better as a matter of speaking only, of course.

He was in a cell. No, scratch that—more of a room. There was a window, and it even lacked bars, though his hands were cuffed behind his back with something that was definitely not approved for use by the Time Agency. Ankles, too. The memories were rather vague—seemed to be a pattern with him, these days—but he vaguely remembered three or four large humans in black and a lot of sleeping gas. Bounty Hunters, his brain dutifully reported, and he couldn't argue with the assessment.

First Time Agents, and then Bounty Hunters. What was the Monk up to?

Whatever it was, this was definitely not where he'd planned on being when he left the TARDIS. (Once he remember what that was, anyway—regardless, he was quite certain that this wasn't it.) Time to change that.

The Doctor was still getting used to the new personality, but he'd already discovered a few key things: this him was far less patient than the last. Forgiving, but not. Anger blew hot and cold, but when focus was required, he went cool and calm. Useful thing to know, that.

But facedown with his hands cuffed behind his back was not the place to start—especially because it hurt. Still hurt. Whatever it was that had so thoroughly battered his body made his muscles stiff and sore, uncooperative to an extreme—and it conjured up all kinds of unpleasant half-memories of pain and more pain. Not now. Memories were for later; he couldn't afford the distraction at the moment.

A long few seconds passed before he could squirm into a sitting position; this wasn't the most flexible body he'd ever had, apparently. However, once he put on some weight, it would probably prove to be one of the more muscular ones. Not that knowing that helped at all in the current situation, of course.

Except—the thought caught. He needed to put on weight, still needed to eat—what had happened?

A dark hallway, deadbolt lock sealed doors to the right and left—

Cables and wiring, gold energy lacing out—

The Doctor shook his head, and the images receded. Now was not the time; the ginger haired female was staring at him.

"This part of your arrest?" he asked archly.

She scowled. "No."

Well, at least she wasn't crying from fear or something—that was a fairly good start. But the Monk looked ready to fall apart, which the Doctor decided was fairly typical. No matter how many times someone regenerated, there were certain character flaws that lingered.

"Um, Doctor…" the other Time Lord started in a shaky voice.

"Oh, shut it." His head was pounding, and he didn't need the Monk to add to the headache. "This is probably your fault, anyhow."

"My fault? I'll have you know—ow!"

The female Time Agent had kicked him (with both heels, seeing as how her ankles were shackled together, same as his). The Doctor gave her an appraising look.

"What'd you say your name was again?"

"Amy Pond.." Her hazel eyes met his levelly, even though her partner still seemed to be unconscious. She was a tough girl.

"Nice to meet you, Amy Pond. I'm the Doctor," he grinned for a moment, glancing around the room. "And I happen to have a sonic screwdriver in my jacket pocket , which, since I'm not the most flexible bloke you'll ever meet, I can't quite reach at the moment. Care to assist?"

"You could have spared me the introductions and mentioned that sooner. Which pocket?" Her calm wasn't perfect, then; Amy sounded quite relieved as she twisted her body into position. "Who carries around a sonic screwdriver, anyway?"

"I do. Front left pocket. And why not? It hardly resisters as a weapon, so it's not like those lovely bounty hunters are going to take it away now, are they?"

"So you think they're bounty hunters." She didn't seem surprised in the slightest as she squirmed her hands into his pocket.

"Since you two are Time Agents, that cuts the options right down, doesn't it? Ahh…mind the ribs, will you? A bit bruised." The last sentence hissed out from between clenched teeth.

"Sorry. So, why would bounty hunters want him? We want him for meddling with history, but he's not even very good at that."

"Good question. Setting one-zero-six," he instructed as she finally freed the sonic screwdriver. Then he turned to glare at his old acquaintance. "Monk?"

"I—I have no idea, Doctor." Huge brown eyes focused on him. Panicky.

"Sure you don't." Click. His cuffs popped open, and the Doctor relieved the Time Agent of his sonic screwdriver, first unlocking her wrists and then his own ankles. "Here. Unlock your partner. Leave the Monk."

"What? Doctor, you can't—"

"Sure I can. I'm a brand new man, Monk. You don't know me at all. For all you know, I'm a bloodthirsty maniac this time 'round." Even as he spoke, the Doctor made his way over to the small window and peered out. It seemed to lead into an alleyway, but if he craned his neck just right, the Doctor could see a busy city street at the alley's end.

"You can't leave me here!" the Monk's voice rose to a near screech; Amy got in before the Doctor could reply.

"Shut up, you! Do you want them to come barging in on us now?"

Finishing with her partner's restraints, she tossed the sonic screwdriver back to the Doctor, who smiled sweetly at the other Time Lord.

"Lady's got a point."

"Do I look like a lady?" Pond demanded.

"I dunno. Are you?" He turned back to the window as the Monk sputtered. But the Doctor continued before anyone could speak: "Fantastic! Not deadlock sealed."

"Doctor, they'll kill me," the Monk said breathlessly. "Please—"

"They? Who's they?" Four screws per side of the window, sixteen in all. Short work with a sonic screwdriver; he could have popped the lock easily enough, but without removing the frame he'd never fit out the window—to say nothing of the Monk's plump form.

"Um, well…"

The Doctor almost had the window out, but he twisted around to face the Monk. "Look, you. I have absolutely no reason to save you and at least a dozen—probably more I can't remember, too—to leave you here. So you'd best start talking. Fast."

"You have post-regeneration amnesia?"

The obvious relief in the Monk's voice twinged something in the back of the Doctor's mind, but there was no time. He turned back to the window as Amy spoke up.

"I hear voices. I think they're coming."

At least her partner was sitting up, now, even if he was holding his head like a drunken idiot.

"You've got ten seconds to convince me, Monk." The last screw popped free, and the Doctor lowered the window to the floor. "Get your partner out, you," he said to Amy.

Smart girl; she didn't argue. "Right. C'mon, Rory."

He turned back to the Monk as the Time Agents climbed out the window, making a show of pocketing the sonic screwdriver. "Five seconds."

"Daleks. It's the Daleks. They —"

Voices right outside the door, all non-mechanical. Unlike—

"Experiment proceeding as designed."

"Energy levels—"

Now was not the time for flashbacks!

Shaking himself, the Doctor yanked the sonic screwdriver out long enough to unlock the Monk's ankle cuffs before shoving it back into his jacket. Every instinct he had was screeching that time was running out—the Doctor grabbed the Monk by the upper arms and hauled him to his feet. "Why didn't you say so, Monk? Even I wouldn't leave you here to them. Hurry up!"

"My hands—"

"Later!"

Grunting, he shoved the shorter man up and bodily through the window, pushing hard to make sure that the plump stomach made it through on the first try. The Monk yelped as he struck the ground, but just as the Doctor turned to follow, the door flew open.

Three very burly-looking humans stood in the doorway. One might have been female but it was hard to tell with all the tattoos. "Oh. Hello."

"Stop right there!"

His mind was already whirling with calculations before he even started moving—their weapons weren't up yet—and he was in motion. Two long strides and a leap; energy beams impacted the wall split seconds after he jumped headfirst through the window.

Had the Monk not broken his fall, the Doctor might very well have knocked himself unconscious upon landing. As it was, his bruised body still screamed in protest as he jumped to his feet, not at all happy about the continued abuse. The Monk was still on the ground, moaning.

"My stomach…"

"No time for cryin', Monk!" He hauled the smaller Time Lord up again. "Run for your life!"

He really shouldn't be enjoying this so much.

The Time Agents took off a few steps ahead of the Doctor and the Monk, leading the way out of the alley. A few shots rang out, coming from the direction of the window, but none hit. Shouts also followed the escaping prisoners, except all three of the bounty hunters were too large to fit through the small window without a struggle, which gave the escapees a head start. Now, all they had to do was stay far enough ahead to—

"Right turn!" the Doctor bellowed as they reached the street.

"My TARDIS—" the Monk panted in protest.

"Mine's closer," he snapped back. "Left past the Ice Cream Shoppe!"

"Got it!" For such a slender woman, Amy was doing a fantastic job of clearing a path through the crowded streets. People rushed out of their path to the left and right, staring at the quartet as if they were crazy—and then they were suddenly screaming and diving aside as shots started ringing out. A few feet to the right, a human woman fell, unconscious and bleeding. But there was no time to help her, and they ran on, anger building up in the Doctor with every step. He was going to find out who was responsible for this mess, and—

"Doctor, they're shooting at us!" the Monk squealed.

"I can see that, thanks. Left turn!"

They pounded around the corner, narrowly avoiding a blue-gray humanoid kid on an air board. Both Time Agents slowed upon seeing the dead end ahead, but the Doctor dragged the Monk straight up to the familiar blue police box, his key already out and in hand.

"We can't stay here!" the male time agent (Rory?) shouted as the Doctor wrenched the door open, shoving the Monk through.

"Get in!"

"Hiding isn't—" But he was close enough to grab, so the Doctor did just that, pushing Rory inside.

"You, too, Ginger!" he shouted at Amy, just as the bounty hunters boiled around the corner.

"You're insane!" But she was smart enough to rush inside, and the Doctor dove in on her heels, slamming the door shut behind himself. He shoved the Time Agents aside and rushed for the controls.

Moments later, they were in the Vortex.

"You want to uncuff me, now?" the Monk asked plaintively.

"Nope. I think I like you better this way."

"Doctor—"

"Fine. If only to stop you whining. I already have a headache, thanks." And he matched actions to words, pulling out his sonic screwdriver and freeing the Monk's hands. Then he twisted the plump Time Lord around to point an admonishing finger in his face. "But don't touch anything. She already doesn't like you much."

The Monk scowled, but retreated several steps, rubbing his wrists.

"Where are we?" Rory asked.

"Technically, we're in the Time Vortex," the Doctor replied cheerfully, glad for the distraction as he moved back to the console. "Welcome to the TARDIS: Time And Relative Dimension In Space. Most advanced time ship in all the universes," he translated.

"Not funny," Amy retorted. "I know what a TARDIS is, and this isn't. Neither of you is a Time Lord, either."

Oh, Time Agents were well informed, if just a bit daft.

"I'm insulted," the Doctor replied, grinning. "While I can see that Fatty here is a bit hard to believe—" he jerked his head in the Monk's direction "—I did just save your life. Both of you, actually."

"That hardly makes you a Time Lord," she shot back. "Besides, if you hadn't gotten involved, we'd have arrested him with no trouble."

"Because you seemed to be doing a fantastic job of that when I arrived."

Amy glared at him, and then twisted to include the Monk in the expression. "You're still under arrest, by the way. Same charges apply."

The Monk gaped. "You can't—"

Rory spoke up. "Of course we can. Actually, both of you are under arrest."

"Oi!" the Doctor objected. "I just saved your lives."

"And now you're guilty of obstruction of justice." She smiled sweetly. "No free passes."

"Let me get this straight: you're arresting me in my own TARDIS."

"Looks like," Amy replied cheerfully. "Or whatever this thing is."

"And how exactly d'you think you're gonna manage that?" he wanted to know. Amy just glared at him, and the Doctor rolled his eyes. "Don't answer that. In fact, as fun as this has been, I've got a schedule to keep. What century are you two from, anyway?"

"Fifty-first," Rory answered as Amy frowned.

"Why do you care?"

"Well, I could either drop you off at Time Agency headquarters in a random century of my choosing, or I could be nice enough to drop you in the right year. Your call." He gave her the sweet smile right back.

"Fifty twenty-two," her partner answered for her.

"Time Agency HQ, London, fifty twenty-two it is," the Doctor grinned. "From there you ought to be able to get yourselves home well enough."

"And him?" Amy demanded; she really was starting to get on his nerves.

"Oh, the Monkedy Monk and I have an appointment to keep," he replied airily, working the controls.

"We do?" the Monk asked worriedly.

"Oh, yeah. The High Council wants a word with you, my friend."

"You're doing the High Council's bidding?"

The Monk's incredulous reply made him grin. "Takes a rouge to catch a rouge, it does. You know how it works."

"But—"

"Here we are. Fifty-first century London. Time Agency HQ—or just down the street, anyway." He was even polite enough to open the door for them. "Time Agents exit here."

Rory looked outside the doors warily before stepping out; immediately, the Monk tried to follow.

"Not you," the Doctor growled, catching him by the collar. "Your turn, Agent Pond."

"No way."

"What?"

"I said no." She crossed her arms. "I don't trust either of you. I'll come along for the ride and see where you take him."

"Amy…" Rory started from outside, his expression declaring Not Again!

"Listen to your partner, Amy Pond," the Doctor interjected in a warning tone. "You don't want any part in this. Wherever it's going."

"I'm going wherever you're going," she replied, crossing her arms and leading rebelliously against one of the pylons. Then she glanced at her partner. "Just go file the reports, Rory. I'll be back when I can."

"I hate filing reports," he replied morosely.

Judging from her smile, it must have been an ongoing argument. "Just do it, will ya?"

He must have known her too well to argue, even though he was still frowning. "If you're sure."

"Of course I am!"

"Oi!" the Doctor interrupted. "I'm not sure. Wait, I am sure. You're not invited."

"Don't care."

They glared at one another for a long moment, neither willing to given an inch. She was a tough one, this Amy—or tough on the outside, anyway. Behind the hazel eyes he could see a little girl peeking out, one fascinated by the universe and everything in it. She wasn't as jaded as most Time Agents came to be; there was something decidedly curious about her demeanor. In short, she was just his type…even if his companions didn't usually invite themselves over his objections. Finally, he sighed.

"Be it on your head, then," the Doctor grumbled.

What he really meant, of course, was Welcome Aboard, but this new him seemed to be the grouchy sort. Better than the last incarnation, though. The last him might have kissed her.


Tenth Doctor

He remembered, now. Remembered Rose and Gallifrey, living and losing, loving and…and pain. He'd managed to make it through dropping Donna off, through—Don't think of that, now!—and now he stood soaking wet in the control room, remembering too much and not enough and it felt like his mind was going to explode—

Perhaps it was. Perhaps he'd saved the part-human him, saved Rose, and now would not be able to save himself. No matter.

Somehow he'd collapsed sobbing to the floor. Somehow he'd broken through the wall of his own making, because seeing Rose, seeing Rose and him broke everything lose.

But the memories came at a price.

Rose was luckier. Her tiny human mind wasn't built to withstand the pressure of storing those memories through the transition of one life to a (theoretically unconnected) other, so the hybrid mix of Vortex-Time-Guardian simply held onto them for her, lurking in the shadows and waiting. Waiting until something dragged the Guardian out of Rose, waiting for the impossible. Waiting until she and her Doctor were standing quietly together on the beach—

He could feel them remember—

Because this Rose Tyler, the one that had grown up on an earth relatively at peace, the one that had never seen a Dalek invasion or had not met the Doppelganger Jeremy when she was nineteen years old; this Rose Tyler was completely human. Even absorbing the Heart of the TARDIS didn't change that; the Doctor pulled it out of her, everything save an echo.

Perhaps that echo connected with the Rose-that-was and the essence of the Guardian she'd been. Perhaps it had not. Either way, both the power and the memories lay dormant until needed, and when they flashed into her mind, they came one by one, moment by moment, mindful of the fragile human mind each was entering. Rose wasn't built to absorb such power and knowledge all at once, so the Guardian she had been—and would never be again—rationed their release carefully.

The Doctor, however, was a Time Lord. His mind was constructed to handle the tangle of timeline-overlapping-timeline-erasing-timeline; not only was he trained to understand such confusion and change, he was also…bred to understand it. He was a Time Lord. He lived and breathed time and change, and instinctively understood the nuances of each. No species had ever had a more refined Time sense, and his had always been more developed than most.

But even a super-powered Time Lord mind couldn't keep up with this.


A/N:Thanks for reading, and please do let me know what you think! I know the last part seems a bit out of place…but it all does come together. I promise.