Title- All The Way Home
Characters/Pairings- Ten/Rose implied, past Four/RomanaII implied, and variations thereupon. Also featuring Davros and the Children of Time
Summary- An AU S4 rewrite from the end of The Stolen Earth. Rose wasn't the only one walking the realities trying to find her way back to the Doctor... Written because Rose wasn't the first companion to be trapped in an alternate universe.
A/N- Even most New Whovians know Romana- or at least know OF her. This follows the assumption that Big Finish and the Doctor Who novels have been viciously lying to us, and Romana never returned from E-Space (which, all things considered, is probably better). Also, I'll be honest, when Lucius Petrus Dextrus said "she is returning," I had yet to see the last few minutes of Partners in Crime and so hadn't seen creepy!ghost!Rose. That meant that my IMMEDIATE first thought was "ZOMG ROMANA!" I really, honestly thought he meant Romana, and I was so freaking excited it's almost sickening how disappointed I was when I realized they meant Rose. And I like Rose, for the most part!
Therefore... giving center stage
"I'm looking to the sky to save me,
Looking for a sign of life,
Looking for something to help me burn out bright..."
The TARDIS landed in the middle of the street, but it didn't matter. Nothing was moving outside. There were no cars to avoid as the Doctor and Donna stepped out of the little blue time ship. In the distance, Dalek voices and human screams could be heard, but here, on this particular road, there was no sound and no other living thing stirring.
"It's like a ghost town," Donna whispered, shocked.
"Sarah Jane said they were taking the people," the Doctor responded, voice tight with worry. Then he whipped around to face his companion. "Think, Donna! You met Rose, in that parallel world. What did she say?"
Donna shrugged. "Just: 'the darkness is coming,'" she reaffirmed.
"Anything else?" he plied.
But Donna just smiled. Over the Doctor's shoulder, she had caught sight of a familiar figure at the other end of the street. "Why don't you ask her yourself?" she suggested.
The Doctor stared at her blankly for a moment, before the realization set in. Then his eyes grew huge and he turned slowly to look down the street. There she was, Rose Tyler, returned to her rightful place in the universes, with a broad grin on her face. For the longest of moments, the pair just stared at each other, drinking in that first sight. She took the first steps, but as soon as she moved, he was off like a shot, sprinting down the road as fast as his legs would carry him. Donna smiled tenderly as she watched her best friend finally returning to the woman he loved.
Suddenly, another voice screamed, "Doctor, look out!" but too late. The Dalek's fatal shot tore through the Doctor's body, bringing him to the ground.
Jack materialized just down the street and fired on the Dalek, blowing it to smithereens.
Rose reached the Doctor's prone body, hurling her gun aside as she dropped to the ground next to him. Donna arrived just seconds later, taking the Doctor's hand in her own as she too dropped down beside him.
"Rose..." the Doctor stuttered. "Long time no see."
"Yeah, well, been busy, you know?" Rose said, laughing through the tears that were gathering at the corners of her eyes.
The Doctor smiled, despite his obvious pain. "You're really here?" he asked weakly.
She nodded, cradling his head. "Yeah. I'm really here."
Suddenly, another figure hurtled from between a pair of houses. The woman wore a long pink coat and a white scarf, and her strawberry hair flowed from beneath a flat, wide-brimmed hat. "Doctor!" she shouted, revealing herself as the voice that had cried out in warning. She joined the three clustered around the Doctor, sprinting up the street with inhuman speed.
"Who are you?" Rose demanded.
The newcomer ignored Rose, kneeling next to the Doctor and leaning over him, placing a gentle hand on his chest, feeling for heartbeats. "Doctor, I'm here," she said. "I'm finally back."
With barely focused eyes, the Doctor looked at her. "Now I know I'm hallucinating," he mumbled.
The woman sighed and shook her head. Then she looked up from the Doctor's pain-contorted face and rose to her feet, facing the other three squarely. "Right. You, Pretty Boy, and you, Ginger, help him up. Get him back to the TARDIS." She turned to look at Rose. "Ariva Lykos, pick up your weapon. Cover them from the front. I'll take up the rear and watch for Daleks from this direction. Now move!"
Jack and Donna stood up, but Rose remained in place, staring up at the newcomer. "Who are you?" she asked again.
"My name is Romanadvoratrelundar," the woman said quickly, obviously frustrated by the delay. "I'm a very old friend of the Doctor. Now hurry up, all of you! The regeneration process is already starting; we need to get him to safety."
Rose wasted no more time after that; she picked up her very large gun and moved ahead of Donna and Jack, who had each taken one of the Doctor's arms and were helping support him back in the direction they'd come. Romana reached inside her coat and pulled out a small weapon that none of the others had time or inclination (let alone ability) to identify.
Together, the small group returned to the TARDIS. Donna and Jack hauled the Doctor up next to the console before laying him as gently as they could on the iron grating.
"What do we do?" Donna asked. "There must be some medicine or something!"
"Just step back!" Jack commanded. "Rose, do as I say and get back! He's dying, and you know what happens next!"
"What do you mean?" Donna demanded, rising to her feet.
"Not now," Rose was choking, still holding tight to the Doctor's prone body. "Not now, please, I came all this way!"
"What do you mean 'what happens next?'" Donna asked again.
Romana stepped forward and touched Donna's shoulder soothingly. It must have been more than just a mere touch, because Donna instantly felt some of her panic drain away. Then she turned to Rose and pulled the other blonde's hands away from the Doctor. "Step away," she instructed the hysterical young woman. "He will be alright. But regeneration energy is potent, and I don't think even you, Ariva Lykos, could survive so close to a regenerating Time Lord."
"It's started," the Doctor gasped, apparently unaware of the people around him.
"Get away," Romana shouted, waving the other three back as she retreated to the far side of the console.
"Good luck, Doctor!" Jack called, as the Doctor lurched to his feet.
"Will someone please tell me what's going on?" Donna shrieked.
Rose was crying in earnest now. "When he's dying, his body repairs itself, it... it changes. But you can't!" she shouted at the Doctor.
"I'm sorry, it's too late," he said, catching her eyes. "I'm regenerating."
Rose turned away sharply, burying her face in Jack's shoulder as a blaze of light erupted around the Doctor's body. But as the three by the wall hid their faces, suddenly the Doctor bent down, and the golden glow streamed away, shooting into the jar next to the console. As the last of the energy spilled out of him, he stumbled back, taking a moment to recover his balance.
"Now then," he said, shaking his head. "Where were we?"
The other three stared in shock.
He gave them a cheeky grin, pointing at the hand in the jar. "You see? Used the regeneration to heal myself, but once that was done I didn't need to change. I didn't want to. Why would I? Look at me." He straightened his tie with a smirk. "So, to stop the process from going all the way I siphoned off the energy into a handy bio-matching receptacle- namely, my hand. That hand there. My handy spare hand." He gave Rose a bright smile. "Remember? Christmas day? Sycorax? Lost my hand in a sword fight? That's my hand. What do you think?"
Rose's expression was still about one step shy of anvil-struck. "Y-you're... still you?"
"I'm still me," he said with that special smile reserved just for Rose.
Without another second's hesitation, Rose threw herself into his arms, hugging him for all she was worth. Jack and Donna grinned.
"Mind you," the Doctor added, still clinging to Rose, "For a minute there, I thought I'd gone mad. I thought I was seeing ghosts!"
Rose finally let go, taking a tiny step back to study him, wanting to make sure he was really there still. At the same moment, the woman in pink stepped out from behind the console. "No ghosts, Doctor," she said. "Just me."
The Doctor's jaw literally dropped. "Romana..." he said in a strangled whisper.
She gave him a cheeky smile. "That trick with the hand?" She pointed to the jar at her feet. "That is cheating. Not to mention very, very illegal."
For once, the Doctor seemed incapable of speaking. He opened and closed his mouth a few times, apparently attempting to form a coherent sentence. Finally, he managed to stutter out, "How is this possible?"
Romana pointed to Rose. "The Ariva Lykos walked through all of reality to find you. I did the same, but from so much farther away."
"Doctor," Donna interjected. "Who is this?"
"Romanadvoratrelundar," the Doctor said in a shaking voice. "She's my... she's..." He couldn't find the words. Apparently he decided not to bother explaining, instead asking, "I thought you were elected President of the High Council? When I went back to Gallifrey before... well... they said you'd been elected President!"
"I was, in absentia. They sent a message through to E-Space, informing me of the Council's vote, but there was still so much to be done that I couldn't justify going back." She let out a bitter laugh. "Look at us. The two Presidents of Gallifrey who never actually bothered to stand term."
Donna chose this moment to interrupt again. "President of Gallifrey," she said. "Spaceman, you never said you were the bloody president!"
The Doctor shot her an annoyed look. "It doesn't exactly matter now, does it? And besides, that was all sort of a complicated... What am I saying? Now's not the time, Donna!" He turned back to Romana. "So... you never left E-Space."
Romana left her place by the console and came to stand just in front of him. Her face was very grave when she spoke again. "I stayed, yes. I figured there was always time to go back later. But all of a sudden, the walls between universes slammed shut. It took me a good hundred years to find a way to open a path again. But when I got back... everything was silent. I'd gotten used to that in E-Space, but I was expecting to hear... I was expecting to feel the rest of the Time Lords. Why isn't the telepathic link working? Why can't I feel everyone else in my head?" Her face was a little desperate. "Please. Please tell me it's because I've been gone so long that my link was severed. Please tell me it's just me that's broken."
The Doctor's face crumpled in a way that was only too familiar to the other companions aboard the TARDIS.
"Doctor," Romana said, the tiniest edge of tightly controlled panic lending her words force, "Where is Gallifrey?"
Looking like every word was clawing at his insides as he spoke them, the Doctor glanced away from her, staring anywhere but at the woman in front of him. "It's gone," he said. "Gallifrey's gone. It burned."
Romana looked like all the air had been knocked out of her, and her knees buckled slightly as she clutched a hand to her chest.
"There was a war, another great Time War, and we weren't... we weren't strong enough to defeat the Daleks," the Doctor said shakily. "They were winning, and then they would have gone on to the rest of the universe... I had to stop it, Romana. I was the only one who could stop them, and there was only one way..."
"You used the Great Key," she guessed, and tears streamed down her face as she spoke. "You opened the Eye of Harmony, didn't you?"
"It was the only way to stop them," the Doctor said.
Romana stared at the Doctor as if she hardly knew him (and in a way, she didn't). For what must have been a solid minute, she didn't even blink. Then she sighed. "Tell me everything."
"There isn't time," the Doctor said. "The Daleks... well, some of them survived, just enough to save Davros from the War and now they've bred billions of them and they've-"
"Yes, I know, I'm up to speed," Romana said peevishly. "I have been wandering the cosmos for about a hundred years, you know, from dimension to dimension trying to find the right gateway back here. This stuff's been bleeding through the universal walls like mad."
Then she sighed. "Gallifrey is really gone, then?"
The Doctor nodded.
Romana took a quivery breath, then wiped the trails of moisture from her cheeks. She nodded, apparently having decided something. "There will be time to mourn when this crisis is over," she said, mostly to herself. Then she rearranged her face into a smile. "Despite everything... it's good to see you, Doctor. I like the new regeneration."
"Yours seems to be holding up pretty well," he said with a weak little grin.
"And you said taking a face that already belonged to somebody else was a bad idea," Romana teased.
The two grinned at each other.
"Excuse me," Rose said, "Would someone mind telling me what the hell is going on?"
The Doctor turned to face her. "Rose, this is Romanadvoratrelundar, last President Elect of Gallifrey and one of my closest friends for a good two hundred years. Romana, this is-"
"Rose Tyler, the Ariva Lykos," Romana interrupted.
"Why do you keep calling me that?" Rose asked.
The Doctor's mouth twitched a little at the corners, as if part of him was tempted to smile. "It means 'bad wolf' in high Gallifreyan," he said.
"And as for the other two," Romana said, turning to Donna and Jack. She studied Jack for a moment, grimacing. "An immortal, more or less, aren't you? That's a little... sickening. No offense to you, of course, but it's just wrong."
"Yeah, that's what the Doctor said," Jack muttered. Then he put on a solicitous grin and held out a hand. "Captain Jack Harkness," he said in his most flirtatious voice.
"Not. Now. Jack," the Doctor said sharply. Then he pointed to Donna. "This is Donna Noble. She's been traveling with me for about a year now."
Romana looked hard at Donna. "Doctor," she said slowly. "What is wrong with her timeline? I mean, you're bad enough- you've gone and done exactly what we're not supposed to do and gotten yourself tied into half the major events in the universe- but look at her. I mean, properly. It's like she's tied into everything. Literally everything."
Before anyone could say another word, however, the TARDIS gave a vicious lurch, throwing her occupants helter-skelter around the console room as the lights flickered and went out...