Return To Memory

Chapter 16: Goddess of Time

Disclaimer: I sadly do not own Doctor Who or any of the characters.

For a moment, Rose was in a panic. Her hearts pounded, her mind spun and reached frantically for a hint of the Doctor's telepathic presence. The gap next to her was searing into her head, tears pooling in her eyes from the pain, and on top of everything else, Jack had no memory of the Doctor. She didn't know him well at all, but she knew the two of them were close enough to call each other brother.

Then why did she remember him when Jack didn't?

She thought of the Doctor, how the entirety of her existence had suddenly begun to revolve around him. She had lived without him before, all the years of her life had been fulfilling though they were devoid of excitement. Why did it suddenly feel as if everything important had just been ripped away from her?

The emptiness in her head where he should be was an ache. They hadn't even bonded and yet she was in pain because he wasn't there. He had only gone into her mind once, hadn't stayed there longer than a few minutes, but now there was a possibility it may never happen again and she couldn't live with that. She had to find him.

In that moment of determination, she flipped on her respiratory bypass. Her mind cleared as she took control over her adrenaline production and began clearing it from her blood. She blocked her senses from the pain of the rips in time and she did her best to shut down her emotions, though her love for the Doctor and desperation to get him back wasn't something she had any measure of control over.

If she was the only one that remembered he existed, then it was up to her to save him.

The gap next to her was still grating on her time sense,and she closed her eyes against the sensation. That was when it dawned on her. If the gap was only visible with her time sense, then maybe the Doctor was only visible that way as well! She had been relying on instinct, on the telepathic web of their people to reassure her that he was there. She closed her eyes, spreading out her time sense and looking for his time lines, starting with those of her own that she was sure would be twined with his. What she found surprised her.

Her own time lines were large and complex, with loops and knots and all manner of twists and turns. They spun about her in flickers of gold and she found most of them were connected with another. She felt along the strongest one she could find, and when she reached the end she felt the comforting presence of the Doctor. He was alive! She muffled her sob of relief when she began to get a location on him. He wasn't in this world, but he also wasn't in a parallel universe. He was in a place that was sort of outside of her senses. Somewhere that was telepathically shielded. He had been kidnapped and she had to find him. It was only then that she realized Jack was talking to her.

"Rose? What's going on? Who is the Doctor?" His hand was on her shoulder.

Though she had been offended before when he touched her, now she felt comfort in his presence. Something told her he was trustworthy and knew nothing of her culture and how they shied away from physical touch. She still found herself inching away from him, though, feeling the Doctor's touch the only one that was acceptable to her. She realized that Jack was still waiting for an answer.

"The Doctor? You really don't remember him at all?" she had thought that because he, too, seemed to have traveled in time, he might be immune the amnesia the gaps seemed to bring upon the loved ones of those that were captured. It seemed this was not the case.

"What are you on about, Rose? Come on, we were going to see a movie, remember? Then you just blacked out. You have to eat more often, I keep telling you. Just because you're always out hunting aliens for Torchwood doesn't mean you shouldn't take care of yourself." He said in his American accent. She gripped the sonic screwdriver tighter in her hand, gathering what strength she could from the Doctor's favorite tool.

He had mentioned hunting aliens. It may be easier to get him to believe her than she thought it would.

"Jack, just listen to me. The Doctor is practically your brother, you just lost your memories of him." she said, trying not to look at the rip in time next to her, though she was acutely aware that it was growing smaller by the second. She had to find the Doctor before the rip sealed.

Jack blinked at her. "Rosie, seriously, let's get you some food."

She stood her ground as he tried to pull her along. "No, Jack. I didn't pass out because I was hungry. I passed out because something was attacking my mind and trying to take my memories away, just like they did to you. You have to believe me. Weirder things have happened than this." She didn't know what had replaced the memories of her in his head, but she was counting on his life being crazy enough that he would believe her. He knew the Doctor, anyway.

He frowned, as if concentrating on something. "I really don't remember any Doctor, Rose. I don't know who you're talking about. It doesn't make any sense."

She took that and ran with it. "Of course it doesn't make any sense. Think about what happened today, focus on the memories. Can you remember them in any detail? Any sensory memory with it, or does it feel like you're watching a film? Do they feel real?" she asked, hoping her knowledge of memory replacement was accurate in this case.

He shook his head. "Something's not right."

She nodded. "Exactly! That's what I mean! Someone's kidnapped the Doctor right from in front of us and tried to make us forget about him! But we can't! We have to find him and stop them from doing this to anyone else." She finished, her voice shaking a bit when she thought of facing this gargantuan task without the Doctor by her side. But she was Rose Tyler, Defender of the Earth. She could handle it.

She had no memory of acquiring that title, but she knew with absolute certainty that it was accurate and that the name was very much hers.

Jack interrupted her thoughts. "Ok, then what do we do? How do we get him back?"

Rose took the map he still held crunched in his hand. She opened it up, quickly locating the first rip on the map. "We need to go here and get a reading with this," she held up the gadget she and the Doctor had perfected, "and then we can find out where the people are and how we can get to them."

Jack nodded and followed as she took off, walking straight in the direction of the first rip. It wasn't far from them, only a few blocks, but he was nearly gasping for breath by the time they reached the spot circled on the map. He looked around them, not seeing anything that would indicate something was amiss. Rose, on the other hand, was gripping her head and squinting at a spot right in front of them.

They were in an old playground, long abandoned by the children of the neighborhood. Weeds grew up around the swing set, vines twisting around the chains on the swings and a large shrub blocking the exit to the faded, plastic slide. Gravel crunched under their feet underneath the thick blanket of grass and weeds. The dying light helped little in illuminating the area and Jack couldn't help the shiver that ran down his spine. Something really wasn't right here. Wasn't this playground full of kids just last week when he and Ianto had gone for lunch?

"Rose?" he asked softly, reaching for her but deciding against it and letting his hand drop. She didn't seem to like it when he touched her. She didn't answer and he decided that perhaps now was a time for silence.

Rose couldn't look away from the blaring gap right in front of them. It was much smaller than the one they had just left, and it was closing quickly. She sensed that within a few hours it would be completely gone, and all hope of rescuing whoever had been sucked through it would be gone as well.

She glanced around at their surroundings, an old seesaw overgrown with tangled weeds.

She pushed off the ground, squealing in delight as she was thrown up into the air and then plummeted back down onto the metal seat again.

"Again, mummy, again!" she giggled, looking through her blonde bangs at the woman across from her.

Her mum was there, laughing with her. She was younger, skinnier, with a bit less of a tired pull around her eyes. "Okay, sweetheart, but not much longer now. I've got to cook some dinner if you don't want to go to bed with a hungry tummy."

Rose nodded vigorously, clenching her tiny hands on the handle as she was pushed up into the air again.

Rose gasped as the vision faded. Where was the Doctor? The Doctor was always in her visions, always! Had he been in the background, and she just hadn't noticed? No, he hadn't been anywhere in that memory. What did that mean?

She set the gadget down in front of the rip and flicked it on, letting it collect its reading. It wouldn't take long. While it began to whirr and buzz, she closed her eyes. Maybe she could figure out where the Doctor was through this rip? Behind her eyes, she found the same timeline from before and began to follow it, pulling the wispy tendrils of time through her fingers until she reached the spot where she had found the Doctor before.

He was still there, but he was fading. The comfort of his presence did little to dull the panic at the realization that he didn't have much time. In the span of only a few minutes- a half an hour at the most, his presence in time had diminished tenfold. She couldn't let it go on much longer.

Her hearts clenched and her mind reeled. The machine at her feet pinged out its finished reading and she fell to her knees beside it. She tried to open her eyes, to grab the machine and continue on to the next destination, but all she could see was gold. It swirled through her vision like autumn leaves in a zephyr, so thick and full of power that she was nearly caught up in the storm. The remnants of the Doctors time at the edge of her consciousness kept her from being wrapped up in it.

She took deep, steadying breaths. She could hear Jack calling for her, but she ignored him for now. She didn't know what was happening to her, but she may be able to use it to find the Doctor. Something was rising up inside of her, she felt it building in her chest and begging to escape. The wind in her eyes swirled through her mind, a howling deep and melancholy, bringing with it an unspoken power that left her trembling in its wake.

Her body was no longer tired. Her mind was clear in its purpose and she knew what she had to do. Her vision changed from the solid, churning gold to a pattern of waves. She wasn't looking at the world anymore, but its time. She could see the lives of all the living things in front of her, feel the steps people took over each patch of grass. The world breathed with time and she could sense the call of the vortex. The rip stood before her like a gaping maw, a scar of darkness in a sea of warm gold. She could feel her Doctor's time mixed into her own and she held onto it with a strength she didn't know she had, strengthening his timelines with her own.

Jack shook as he heard the howl erupt in his mind and watched as his friend's eyes turned to liquid pools of churning gold. He'd seen this before, in his dreams. He was dead and she raised her hand and he was alive again.

Memories came rushing back into his head, the Doctor, Rose, what had happened to her and everything that led up to that moment as he stood shivering before her power in an abandoned park.

Bad Wolf.

"Jack. The next rip. I can see it there, just over the next hill." She spoke, but her voice chimed with the voice of the Vortex. How long could she hold onto this power and not burn like she had the last time? He didn't have long to think about it, as she began to run towards the next rip, faster than he had ever seen her. He grabbed the device she had put at his feet and he ran to catch up with her.

She ran through the streets of Cardiff, Jack in tow. They had about fifteen minutes to get the readings from the other six rips, or she would never see the Doctor again.

She was the Bad Wolf, Goddess of Time, and protector of the Doctor. But even she could only sustain his timelines for so long.

A/N: So, what did you think? It's been a while since I have updated, I know. I'm sorry for the long wait! I assure that I am most certainly not abandoning this story now! I have the remaining chapters planned out, and I am working on getting it down as soon as possible. Thank you all for your overwhelming support as I continue to write!

Much love,