A/N: I know, I've promised everyone a finale to Alternating Universes, but it's not quite there yet; it needs to simmer a little longer. In the meantime, I offer this diversion.
Aaaaaaand, here I go again, with yet ANOTHER all-new vision of Rose-and-TenB-just-starting-out. I've no plans to turn this into a series, but that's what I said the last time, too... I guess we'll see if the muse sticks with this one.
Disclaimer: Doctor Who and its characters are the property of the BBC, not me. Natürlich.
Darlig Ulv Stranded
Rose was reeling. This can't be happening. This can't be real. He can't be leaving me here with this... substitute. Not after everything I've been through just to find him again! The entire scene felt surreal, like a bad dream. Even the gulls flying overhead were laughing at her. Please let this be a dream. Let me wake up, back in Pete's mansion. Better yet, in the TARDIS.
But it wasn't a dream. The TARDIS began its mournful groaning, calling the Doctor and Donna back inside. He turned away and she ran after him, again... Trying desperately to find some way to make him stay, to make him admit how she knew he must feel about her, deep inside. But he refused to say it.
But the other one would. "I love you, Rose. With all my heart."
Heart. Singular. Together forever, his so-familiar brown eyes seemed to be saying as he gazed so intently into her own.
Later, when she had time to reflect, she would wonder at her own impulse, pulling him in for a thorough snogging. Was it really him? Or maybe... was she actually trying to make him jealous? She'd never know.
But it hadn't worked, anyway. The TARDIS door snapped shut with as final a click as she'd ever heard, and the beloved blue box whooshed away into nothing, like it had never been, even as she broke away from the other Doctor to run after it – again. She knew, without a doubt, that it was truly the last time she'd ever see it.
She stood there on the beach where she'd stumbled to a halt, staring at the sand where her heart's desire had sat.
And then her eyes slowly refocused a dozen yards beyond it, on the sign which had been hidden by the TARDIS up till that moment. Even as she felt the other Doctor step up beside her, even as he took her hand – and hers turned in his automatically, returning the clasp as it had done a million times before. Even as she felt him gaze at her, willing her to turn and look back at him... she was unable to move, even twitch. An icy tidal wave of fear and horror swept over her.
It started as a hoarse whisper, but turned into a scream before three words were out. "No... no, NO, DOCTOR, COME BACK!
"YOU LEFT US IN THE WRONG BLOODY WORLD!"
She felt him jerk his head back around, and then he gasped, and she felt the shock zing through his slender frame at the sight; utterly, horribly anachronistic in either their own world or Pete's. Plastered on each corner with red and black swastikas, its dire message, thrice repeated in German, Norwegian, and English, read:
THIS AREA IS FORBIDDEN
YOU ARE ENTERING THE TERRITORY OF THE GERMAN REICH
TRESPASSERS WILL BE SHOT ON SIGHT
They waited, staring in shock, as Rose's wild scream echoed back from the cliffs... but the roar of the surf behind them and the cries of the gulls overhead were the only replies. The Doctor hadn't heard. The TARDIS was gone, irrevocably.
"Maybe... maybe it's an old sign left over from the war..." Jackie offered hopefully, breaking the tense silence.
"No, Mum. It's new. You can see it's new. I..." Rose swallowed, hard. "I've been in this world before, when I was crossing realities, looking for the... for home." The Doctor glanced at her, knowing the word she'd bitten back, but said nothing. "History went very differently in this world," she added unnecessarily. "The Nazis won World War Two – and they're still in control of most of northern Europe!"
Suddenly she shook herself, hard, and a second later dove into one of her cargo pants pockets, coming up with a mobile phone. Punching a couple of buttons, she held it to her ear. "Control? Are you there? Control!... Damn!" She looked at the screen again. "Too far away. Mum, try your transport disk!"
"Rose... the walls are closed!" the Doctor put in, but she ignored him.
Jackie pulled two disks out of her pocket and checked them both quickly, then shook her head. "No signal."
"How'd you get two?"
"Mickey gave me his."
Rose thought a second, then said quickly, "Give one to him, he'll need it."
"Rose!" He finally got her attention, even as he took the proffered disk and stuffed it into a pocket. "The walls are closed! It's no good!"
"Wha... the..." he spluttered at her obtuseness. "...the walls between realities! The dimensional retroclosure, remember?"
"So?" she asked belligerently, then held up a hand to stop his further explosion. "I was jumping between worlds for weeks, long before the reality bomb started putting out the stars. The dimensional cannon doesn't depend on the holes from the bomb, it goes through the Cornish rift! – Thanks for asking, by the way." Her tone wasn't quite sarcastic.
"It does?" His jaw dropped, then he blinked. "You mean Cardiff?"
"No, Cornish. Same rift, but it's in St Ives, in Pete's World – and this one. But we're way out of range up here in Norway. We've got to be within a few miles at most, maybe right on top of it. Which means we've got to cross hundreds of miles of Nazi-occupied territory." She looked at the hated sign again. "First thing, though, is we've got to get off this beach before a patrol comes by. They're not kidding! Come on!" And, turning, she led them on a quick-march to the start of the road up the cliffs, the only way to access the beach aside from boat – or TARDIS.
A quarter of a mile past the cliffs, they spotted a lonely, ancient wooden shack back off the road and angled for it. A few yards from the sagging porch, the front door opened, and the trio suddenly found themselves staring down the barrel of an equally ancient shotgun, held by an equally ancient, weathered man in a heavy sweater and fisherman's cap, his faded grey eyes filled with suspicion. They halted in a row in the yard, their hands up in the air.
The Doctor opened his mouth, but Rose beat him to it. "Please – vennligst! Help us! Darlig ulv! Darlig ulv!"
"Rose..." he said out of the corner of his mouth. "I think he knows where he lives..."
"Shut up!" she hissed back, and began to go back to her pleading, when from the distance behind them they caught the sound of motors. Whirling around, they spied a German troop truck a mile down the road. The patrol was on its way.
Rose whirled back and took a step forward. "Vennligst! Darlig ulv!" She didn't try to hide her fear or desperation.
The old man glanced back at the truck, then at her face – and suddenly lowered his shotgun, turning and motioning them inside, quickly! They scuttled past him, and in less than a minute found themselves hiding in a cold, dark earthen cellar beneath a hidden trap door.
"Underneath a throw rug? That's the oldest trick in the book," muttered the Doctor.
"Yeah," breathed Rose, "because sometimes it works!"
He glanced sharply at her, about to ask how she'd know – or, for that matter, what that business about Bad Wolf Bay was – when the roar from the troop truck suddenly burst into the yard, followed by screeching brakes, and then the sound of several pairs of boots pounding across the wooden porch. They crouched down, huddled together, their hands seeking each other's without thought – Jackie grabbing the Doctor's right hand as naturally as Rose did the left.
A rather one-sided conversation went on overhead, one voice shouting in German while the old man replied in grunts and single syllables, while several other pairs of boots stomped quickly through the small house, searching. Miraculously, the throw rug trick worked this time, as the soldiers stomped right across it several times without stopping. After a few minutes, the boots retreated and the truck roared off again. The old man waited for a seemingly endless (to those waiting below) fifteen minutes to make sure they weren't doubling back before he moved the rug again. He didn't come down the stairs empty-handed, but brought a pitcher of water, a loaf of black bread and a hunk of cheese, as well as an oil lantern, which he sat carefully down on one of the several wooden crates in the cellar.
He lit the lamp and turned it down low, then peered into each of their faces. "Engelsk?" he asked. "English?"
"Ja," Rose replied. "We need to get back to England. Can you help us?"
It took a few repetitions, with some sign language, but he finally understood. He pulled at his lip, mulling it over, then asked once more, "Darlig ulv?"
"Ja. Darlig ulv."
Making up his mind, he gave her a sharp nod, then pointed at a couple of other crates and rattled off some Norwegian. He looked sharply at Rose and made 'stay put' motions with his hands, and she nodded that she understood; they were to stay hidden in the cellar. With that, he went back up the ladder, and they heard him flip the rug over the top of the trap door, then his footsteps went back out the door and disappeared off the porch.
Jackie opened the crates he'd pointed out, finding a range of warm, used clothing and some equally thick blankets. "I guess we're going to be staying here for a while."
The Doctor cornered Rose. "OK, Rose. What's going on here? What's with the bad wolf?"
She looked straight back at him. "It's a code name, for the Resistance. I told you I was here before. I learned a few things. Including the fact that I must have sent that phrase further afield than we thought. The Bad Wolf is a very famous fairy tale in this world, bigger than King Arthur and Beowulf. That's why the Resistance uses it."
"And you're tapping into the Resistance network to get us to St Ives?" She nodded. "How did you know he was part of it?"
Rose shrugged. "I didn't. It was worth a chance. The only chance we had." Suddenly exhausted, she went over and sat on a crate next to the food. "Come on, I'm starving. Let's not shame our host by refusing his generosity."
Some time later, Rose found herself watching the Doctor through her eyelashes. He'd fallen still and silent, staring at the uneaten hunk of bread in his hand with a lost look haunting his eyes.
"Hey," she said softly. "You OK?"
He looked solemnly at her for a long pause. "I was just realizing..." he finally admitted, his voice softer and more subdued than she'd ever heard it. "That sign down there... I could only read the English. And I couldn't understand what the old man, or the soldiers were saying."
She nodded, instantly understanding. "No translator."
"No translator," he agreed, then made himself say it. "The TARDIS is gone. I'll never see her again. Ever."
Slowly, the Doctor shook his head, then reached out, asking for her hand, which she gave him almost automatically, without reservation. He deliberately intertwined his fingers with hers – a new clasp, not their habit of old – and held on tightly, gazing intently into her eyes. "I'll be OK," he whispered. As long as we're together, his eyes added.
She couldn't handle making any commitment past the raw, aching wound in her chest, but she didn't pull away, either. He understood, and after a beat, eased back, relaxing his grip and looking back at the bread he still held, taking a bite as their hands sank down to hang between them. When she pulled her hand out a minute later to get a drink of water, he forced himself not to clutch at it. One step at a time, he told himself.
"Well," he said, forcing his voice to take a brighter tone. "Assets. Let's see what we have. You understand the situation on the ground, at least, and have some contacts within the Resistance, I take it?" She nodded. "So we're not walking around blindly. That's good. The Cardiff Rift – sorry, Cornish – is active in this world?" Another nod. "So all we need to do is get there. And we have your phone, and these transport disks, when we do get there. And we also have... this!" He reached into a pocket with a small, almost shy grin, pulling out a sonic screwdriver. Rose gasped, and he grinned wider, then shook his head. "No, it's not his. It was a spare, that I pulled out to use to put that weapon together I tried to use on Davros. Let's see... Anything else?"
Jackie shook her head, but Rose was suddenly pensive. She got up abruptly, walked over and stared up the ladder, hugging herself.
"Rose?" His voice was soft, puzzled.
"We do have one other ace up our sleeve," she finally began. "It's how I got out of here last time. But I'm not using it unless it's absolutely necessary." She turned back and looked across the cellar at them, her face an unreadable mask in the gloom.
"Rose Tyler does exist in this world. And she's a Nazi bitch."