Chapter Six

JW: This part has been difficult, since the Doctor, Jack and crew weren't part of this at all. However, that just didn't sit well with me. For one thing, Jack was alluded to in the previous. For another, why the hell WOULDN'T the Doctor go look?

Also: Listening to Muse - Knights of Cydonia while I write this.

RG: You really like Muse, don't you? :p

JW: … yes. Don't look at me like that.

Standing in the middle of the Hub, Jack sipped his coffee while going over that damned report that Dr. Harper wrote about Phea. After he finished reading it, he set it with a temporal lockout. "I should be mad at you, but this has to happen to keep the timeline straight."

"I'm only following procedures, Captain," Owen complained.

Gwen and Martha sat together at Gwen's station. Even though their patient had returned to the future, Martha wasn't about to leave. What Rose and John told them had the pair of them watching out for their friend, like hawks.

Jack was heading to his office in a bit of a snit, when he felt thunder in his mind. He stiffened with a hissing inhale, and lost his grip on his coffee. The mug shattered on the floor as he felt the universe convulse. Hands shooting to his head, Jack shrieked from the pain.

Up like a shot, Gwen and Martha caught him as he buckled to the floor. "Jack?" Gwen asked.

Martha held him from the other side. "Talk to me. What's happening?"

Seeing him look up from the floor in wide eyed terror, Gwen and Martha were shocked to see Jack's eyes glowing a radiant gold. "Gallifrey," his pained voice rasped out.

In his mind, Jack saw a massive room that was beset with a maelstrom of the wind and fire from time itself. He could see John and Rose glowing brightly in the centre of the room. "Oh… my… God," he rasped.

Across the universe, the Doctor was alone in the TARDIS. Having set up Amy and Rory in their new home, he was a mix of emotions. While he was happy for them, he missed them more than he would admit. Pausing for breath, he was sitting in one of the console seats with his chin in his palm… thinking. Listening to his ship sing a beautiful tune, he wondered about how it sounded incomplete for some reason.

Still, there was quite a while before he had to deal with the Silence, if he had anything to say about it. Fixed points were one thing, deciding when to attend one? Well, that was something completely different altogether now wasn't it? And, he wasn't done yet by any stretch of the imagination. Their kidnapping of baby Melody had him in a locked up sense of frustrated anger.

Didn't help that she grew up to become River. No, that didn't help one damned bit. His thoughts veered back to the Teselecta; Justice Department Vehicle Number Six Zero One… eight… That idea had merit.

The ship pitched suddenly, and the Doctor stood bolt upright as a thunderclap of a time line ripped through his senses. "That's… That's impossible," he said in a hush. Stunned and wide-eyed for a moment, he shook himself and ran around the console, flipping all sorts of controls.

"What the hell has that woman done now?" he grumbled as he pulled his green overcoat on.

Still light headed from her second round with the vortex, Rose was giggling to herself while John made his smug announcement. Shaking her head, her mind ran through all the different times that he was a Drama Queen.

His head snapped to hers with a bit of shock. "Queen? Hardly. Drama King? Maybe. I might resemble that… a bit," he said with a smirk, before pulling her into a hug.

Free to move again, Narvin looked to his left and saw Romana glowing in the throes of regeneration. "No," he rasped. "They killed her!"

"Oh shut up," Romana muttered. "I'm fine. Just give me a moment." A multitude of faces and body types went through her mind, before she settled on one she liked. The light left her, and she shook her head rapidly.

Taller now, she was talking rapidly while taking stock and examining herself. "All right, check list. Oooooh! New voice! I think I rather like that. All smoky… isn't it?" Grinning, she held her hands out in front of her. "Good. Ten fingers," she said as she wiggled them about. Touching her chest briefly, she smiled. "Still a girl. Ooh, bouncy!"

Running her hands through her hair, an eyebrow arched. "Wavy? That's unexpected." She pulled a lock of it in front of her face. "Damn. Was going for blond, not brown," she complained. Feeling around her face, she rattled off what she found. "Eyes, two. Nose, cute? Chin, well it's not pointy or anything, unlike some people. Ears? Hmm I like these. Dainty. Wish I had a mirror. Wanted green eyes for once."

Turning around abruptly to face John and Rose, she stepped in front of Rose and leaned down with a wild look on her face. "Green? Eyes, I mean," she pointed at them. "Not my hair. Although that would be a fright, now wouldn't it?" She giggled at herself over that.

An incredulous grin on her face, Rose remembered a similar conversation as she peered closer to look into her eyes. "They look green. Somewhere between emerald and avocado?"

Leaning back, Romana was thoroughly pleased and clapped her hands together. "Excellent!"

While all this was happening, one of the two technicians got the Coordinator's attention. "Sir?"

Turning around, Narvin had a hateful expression on his face. "What!" he barked. Seeing the man pointing at the large observation screen, he looked up and had his mouth fall open. "Is that real?" he whispered.

The other technician was going over the controls rapidly. "One hundred percent, sir. The entire system!"

Leaning down over his shoulder, Narvin pressed for more information. "Is there life?" he asked almost under his breath.

"I'm reading all sorts of life on the planet. Animal, plant…" he paused and looked confused. "I thought those were extinct?"

"Never mind that," Narvin said petulantly. "What of the cities? The people?"

Looking over from his station, the other technician shook his head. "There are none. The planet is pristine."

"Madam President?" someone asked from behind them. Turning, Romana, John and Rose saw a Time Lady. "There was an order to land using an archaic code, but it didn't come from you. Land where?" she asked in complete confusion.

Scoffing, Romana looked at her. "Where do you think, you overworked twit? Look at the monitor. Hell, look out the window! Now enough of the gloom and doom. We're going home! Off you go, now." She rolled her eyes at the salute, and shook her head at the retreating pilot, chuckling.

The others in the room had gathered around the great console, staring at the screen and completely overjoyed. Someone started to chuckle, and the place was soon swimming with laughter.

Turning to look at them, Narvin was nearly at wits' end. "All better now, is it?"

John looked to the ceiling with a groan. Ah yes, the prat. "Oh, yes. It is. I really don't know why you always bring the colour out of everything, but it really is tiresome. You are the epitome of sour. And quite frankly, I don't care anymore. Weren't you the one not too long ago that was going on about… quite venomously, accusingly, and hateful I might add… with the 'Least then, we had a planet' bollocks?"

Sweeping his arm towards the screen, John had a rant screaming to get out. "Well have a look! It's brimming with life, resources, air, and actual food instead of pellets, wafers, or whatever else you think to put in your gob. Are you completely incapable of being happy? All that is gold does not glitter. Not all those who wander are lost. The old that is strong does not wither, Deep roots… No wait. Sorry, that's the Lord of the Rings."

Ignoring Rose's groan over that, he continued on. "Look at them! All of them!" he spun in a circle with both arms out. "They are a riot of joy over this! You seem to be the only person here that hates it!" Stepping close to the man, he invaded his personal space and was nose to nose with him. "What is the matter with you? Be happy for the love of creation! It won't kill you, I promise."

Narvin wasn't swayed. "Right! Of course! I should be ecstatic that you've given us a planet devoid of everything that made it remotely important! I didn't spend my existence trying to protect a mere celestial body, you half-wit! I protected its people!"

Blinking at that, John was stunned at how myopic he was being. "But don't you see? That's the point: the people are the most important, the ones on this station have been protected, and now you have Gallifrey back to make a new start. If Gallifrey had been brought back as it was, it would have been like restarting the Time War. You have hope now for a brighter future, and if you are unable to see that, then I'm not exactly sure what it is you're doing here," he said with a heavy sigh. "All that brilliance... soured and doused in vinegar and vitriol."

Rose, however, was nowhere near as diplomatic as her husband in her response to Narvin's pouty cynicism. "What the bloody hell is wrong with you, you git?" she all but shrieked at the obstinate man, somewhat quieting the area around them. "You've just seen two people – two near-humans, humans that you thought weren't worth the shit on the bottom of your shoe – take the power of the Vortex from your bloody botched Schism and recreate your entire system!

"And you bet your arse there's life there – maybe not the great sophisticated domed cities of old, but hundreds of thousands of creatures are alive again! Listen to them! The rest of your people are over the moon at their chance to get off this bleedin' station. But you, you great wanker, you're just angry 'cause you can't control anythin' that's goin' on right now! How far up your arse is your head?"

Romana put her hand on Rose's shoulder to halt her verbal assault, and moved to stand in front of Narvin. "You and I are going to have a very serious conversation rather soon, Coordinator," she said quietly.

Seeing his eyes widen from the look she gave him, she nodded slowly. "Oh, yes. While you have been a great asset and protector of our people, our shared history doesn't excuse your behaviour or actions on this day. I am the President, and your disrespect of my position will not go unanswered. This is a new day for us all, and things will change whether you like it or not." Part of her actually felt sorry for the man. "Now, you need to attend your actual duties. To put it bluntly: Get out of my sight."

Nostrils flaring, Narvin turned and stomped off.

Taking a calming breath, Romana turned and surprised John and Rose by hugging them close. "There are no words to express enough gratitude for what you've done for us all. I am so sorry for what I've done to you both. I really hate this position at times." Taking the time to kiss each of their foreheads, she stepped back.

Motioning to one of the technicians to activate the internal communications, Romana spoke to the entire station. "My friends, as President, it is my honour to direct all of you to bear witness. Undoubtedly, you have felt what has occurred. If you would turn your gaze to the starboard side of the station, I will reassure you that this is no mirage. Through the grace of time and two very important people," she placed her fingertips on John and Rose's cheeks briefly with a smile, "the system that gave birth to us all is once again among the stars. It is up to us to rebuild. Rebuild our culture, our people, and take our rightful place as protectors of the universe. Rejoice. We are going home."

John and Rose were overwhelmed by the several thousand minds of the station cheering, and they ended up leaning on each other. "Oh my God," Rose murmured, wiping her face. John just held his head back and revelled in the emotions of everyone on the station with a large contented smile. That wasn't to say that his own face was dry though.

"To that end," Romana continued, "we are on course to land in the Plains of Mount Cadon. Please consider the station at the Blue level of alertness, and tend to the landing procedures. I don't know about anyone else, but I think this calls for a celebration. Once we are aground, please seal your stations and join us outside." Smiling wide, she turned off the comm herself.

While everyone around them were shouting and hugging each other, John pulled Romana close so he could talk in her ear over the din. "Could we go back to your office? I believe Rose wants to put something on. While I rather enjoy her in her dressing gown, she's become understandably self-conscious." Hearing that, Rose nodded her head rapidly.

Speaking of self-conscious, John shoulder bumped Romana. "Sorry 'bout the unexpected, there. We just wanted to make you feel better. Still, not a bad look on you. I think if you put your mind on it, you could probably make even my brother blush."

Turning to Rose, his cheek got worse. "Heh. You don't know it, but this lovely lady was the only one that could constantly trip brother dearest up. Personally, that plus the new her and he'll probably be backpedalling worse than when Jack was all up in his face. Added to the squick factor, and I bet he'll flubble. Ooooh, I like that. Flubble: A flummoxed fumbling of floored flim flam," he grinned and tried not to snicker at the alliteration.

John's abuse of the English language had Rose's eyes skyward again, and she shot a baleful look at Romana. 'I swear, I think he's worse than the Doctor sometimes,' she thought to her.

Smirking and stifling a giggle, Romana agreed completely, 'He certainly appears to be, sometimes.'

Still, with all the compliments to Romana, Rose was glaring at John from under her brow while sucking on her teeth. An apology she could understand, as she had done so herself, but it was generally a good idea - maybe even a universal rule - that men's assessments of women's appearances should be limited to 'my, don't you look gorgeous, darling?'

All the same, John was complimenting her to the point where it was making her jealous. "Oi!" she protested. "I could tongue-tie him up pretty well myself! And I'm not sure you can compare his potential reaction to her with his reaction to Jack. Totally different situation and experience, that."

"Oh Rose, you don't need to be…" John started.

Rose sighed and looked at him. "Still, I would like to see the look on his face, considering all that's happened." The corner of her mouth twitched in a grin as she thought of a way to make him trip up. "Joooohn," she began to sing-song in a pouting voice. "My chocolate milkshake died. Can I have another one?"

John blinked. "Stop that," he said quietly, suddenly afraid for some reason. Oh, no. The Look. Ohhhh hell.

She was busy with the best puppy eyes she could possibly manage at him, biting her lip for good measure and resting her head on his shoulder to be even cuter about it. He could make fun of the Doctor all he liked, but Rose was living proof that he was just as bad. The miffed, almost pained look on his face was so priceless that she desperately wished she had her camera.

"No seriously, stop that." She wasn't swayed from his pleas though, and he glanced at Romana briefly. "Pardon me a moment," he mumbled before dipping Rose backwards. He shushed that adorably sexy look and noise with his mouth on hers. 'Do you really want to do this here? Now?' he asked while checking to see if Rose's tonsils were still in place. He was pleased when her fists got done up in his jacket over the whole thing.

Blatantly ignoring everyone else in the room, John made it plain that Rose understood where his loyalties were. 'My name is John Tyler, understand?' Pulling back, he held her close. "Sorry about that. All better?"

Blushing so hard that her face could fry eggs, Rose was completely embarrassed. "We're not exactly alone, John," she mumbled, shooting Romana a wincing, apologetic look. Still, his thoughts filled her with happiness, pride, and made her extremely smug over the whole situation. 'Face it,' she told him with a smirk. 'I own you.'

Completely amused by their actions, Romana tried to save their modesty. "Now where were we? Ah yes, clothes and a drink. Right?"

John was a bit flushed himself over what Rose said in his head. "Yes, yes! Tea and a wardrobe change for you, clothes and a sha…" He stammered over his near slip up. "I-I-I mean shake for Rose. Yes, shake. Chocolate. With chips to dip in, and maybe some Darjeeling after?

"Can we go to your office now?" he pleaded. "That way, I can get into her… uh, I mean get her into something a bit more covering. Yes, that's it. Uhm… this way, right?"

John's rather spectacular floundering only served to prove Rose's point; he even started walking in the wrong direction. Chuckling, she steered him to the correct direction.

"Ah yes. How silly of me," he mumbled. Hearing Romana laughing behind them had him rubbing the back of his neck quite madly.

After they made their way through the corridors and into her office, Romana got to babbling. Still manic over everything, including the higher than normal energy levels of the aftermath of her regeneration, she couldn't stop herself. "I can see it so plainly now. Everything I did was reactionary out of fear. You have no idea how remorseful I feel over putting the two of you through all of that. And after what you did for us all, I am simply mortified over my actions!" Her watery eyes spilled over at that point.

"Stop," John said, taking her by the arm. "Breathe. That's it."

Rose rubbed Romana's other shoulder. "It's all right. I can see where you were coming from now. I can't imagine the amount of pain you went through, even though I saw all of it. You're as much a victim of circumstances as we were."

Pausing for a moment, her lips quirked in a wry but gentle smile. "'If we could read the secret history of our enemies, we should find in each man's life sorrow and suffering enough to disarm all hostility.' Henry Wadsworth Longfellow." Realizing what she'd said, Rose frowned. "I mean, you're not our enemy, and you weren't then, it was just…oh, you know what I mean," she gave up. Out of the corner of her eye, she saw John gaping at her. 'What?' she thought to him. 'I wasn't totally worthless at school.' His reply came in the form of beaming pride and a desperate desire to snog her.

Understanding what Rose was trying to say, Romana tried to still her mind with her face in her hands. Wiping them down and away from her face, she couldn't stop crying. "All the same… Oh, I'm so sorry!"

Moving as one, John and Rose held her from both sides while she broke down. After she was down to hiccups, she got to mumbling. "Oh, why aren't you the Doctor? I could so…" Romana halted that thought abruptly.

"He is the Doctor," Rose said. "But this one's mine. Get your own," she teased.

A belt of laughter broke out of Romana, and she let go of John to hug Rose. "Oh, you. You are simply stellar. Now, off you go. I need a change of attire as well. I seem to have outgrown this. Thankfully, it's loose enough to not appear completely out of place. Though, it is a bit tattered now."

Chuckling, John went to the TARDIS and placed his hand on the side. After reeling from her outright joy over the pair of them being safe, her shell changed to an English telephone booth with frosted glass. "Uhm. Was going for a Police Box, there."

I'm not my matron, you git. Don't you EVER scare me like that again, Pa'na!

John nodded, abashed. "Right, sorry." Blinking, he realized something. "Either your voice got stronger, or I can hear you better, Sassy."

Looking over at him, Romana was at a loss and completely stunned. "You can communicate directly with your ship?"

"Of course," Rose said, confused. "Why, is that not normal or somethin'?" Her confusion got worse when she felt John cringe over that.

Gasping, Romana put both of her hands over her mouth. "Oh my. You… You're a Tender!" Crossing the room in a dash, she caught John up in a huge hug, and even lifted him off the floor a bit. "Oh you beautiful thing!" Setting him down, she was manic. "None of them… We couldn't…" she stuttered. "None of them made it to the ship in time!"

"Oh, I'm so sorry," John said quietly. 'Lookout dear, I think we're about to be drafted or something,' he thought to his wife. "Uhm, can this wait till we've freshened up?"

"Swear to me you won't leave!" Romana half shouted, pointing at him. "Not until after the celebrations and we've had a chance to talk."

"Unequivocally," he said quickly. "Not about to leave before I've shown Rose my homeworld. Just… Let us get cleaned up and dressed for the occasion, all right?"

Blinking, Romana nodded. "Oh! Yes. Of course!" She backed up to give way for Rose.

Opening the door with a click of his fingers, John ushered Rose inside and locked it up again.

Romana just stood there for a moment, wondering how in creation he just did that.

"Is it just me, or does she seem extraordinarily happy?" Rose said as they walked towards their bedroom. "What's a tender anyway?"

"TARDIS Tenders were the people who literally tended the TARDIS fields, coaxing the coral to grow and have them stay put while they did so," John explained with a bit of apprehension. "And none of them survived."

"Oh," Rose blinked. "Right."

"Yeah," John said. "I've got a bad feeling about this."

"Still though," Rose hugged him after they were in their room. "Gallifrey?"

"I KNOW!" John shouted, grinning and bouncing like a maniac.