Find the Map and Draw a Straight Line, Chapter 2
The Doctor stared down the Shadow Architect in complete disbelief, and Rose wondered if this was going to be another one of those situations where there would be concertedly non-minced words and they'd have to run with barely any notice.
"I don't think you understand how important this is," he said, as patiently as one could expect from him, really.
The Shadow Architect remained solemnly still and cold. "And you do not understand our terms of engagement. We do not engage with combatants until a victor emerges and the Justice Department rules."
Rose and Donna exchanged a look while the Doctor stood in uncomprehending fury. "I am not a combatant," he informed the Shadow Architect. "This is a new face but I'm the same man and I'm not at war with anyone!"
"Records show you are a combatant in a declared war," the Shadow Architect responded mildly after a glance down at her tablet.
"Then the records are wrong," the Doctor said coolly. "Now tell me about the Silence."
Something about this didn't feel right. Rose glanced around the room as subtly as possible, and her heart sank as she saw just how surrounded they were. "Doctor – " she started.
The Shadow Architect spoke over her. "We are a neutral third party body of justice, Doctor." She almost had sympathy in her voice. Almost. "We do not supply information about ongoing conflicts to the combatants involved."
Now the Doctor was near shouting. "How many times must I tell you, I'm not – " He broke off and began to actually shout. Rose winced. "Silence! The Silents, whatever they're called! Tell me something, anything, planet of origin!"
"Doctor!" the Shadow Architect protested, cringing herself.
He remained steady. "I want peace," he explained shortly. "Not war. I want to talk to them."
"The Doctor does not wage peace," one of the Shadow people in the back declared.
"Now stop a minute!" Donna cut in tartly.
"The Doctor only brings death," another chimed in.
"Brings death behind him like a plague – "
Rose turned to the Doctor, who was wearing an expression she hadn't seen on this face yet and honestly hadn't expected to – cold, unyielding fury. "I end conflicts on behalf of the Shadow Proclamation. You expect me to stand by and do nothing when empires and despots break the tenets of your law like you're the Galactic Federation?"
An outcry broke out among the Shadows and the Architect raised her hand to silence them. "You are not among our Shadows," she said evenly. "Do not blaspheme."
"Of course he's not blaspheming," Donna said, in a helpful, consoling secretarial tone. "Just you know pointing out that what he does is for the good of the universe, at least most of the time – "
"Donna, stop helping me," the Doctor cut her off, pained.
Donna pressed on, brightly ignoring him. "Lovely conversation, thank you for the tea." Rose caught a nod from Donna in the Doctor's direction, and she seized one of his arms as Donna grabbed the other. "Think it's about time we get going though, what with the war and all!"
"God, and you called me a shouter," Donna said blandly. Rose tried not to laugh.
The Doctor yanked his hand from Donna's to snap his fingers to open the door as they reached the TARDIS to keep Donna from the key. "So there," he said.
"Nice trick!" Donna complimented, and shut the door behind them. "He mucked it up," she added to Amy and Rory, both wearing matching expectant looks.
The Doctor whirled on her, offended. "I did not!"
"You got all shouty," Donna retorted, not without affection.
"They called me a combatant!"
"So we didn't learn anything," Amy said slowly.
"They called him a combatant in a war and they don't talk to combatants," Rose explained, a bit of an edge to her faked cheerfulness. She felt a headache coming on. "He's in a mood."
Donna shrugged at the Doctor, as though this was just a minor hiccup – as well it could be, Rose supposed. "Suppose we just have to ask someone else, then. Ideas?"
"Only one. But we need a pit stop first. Amy and Rory are going home, and Donna, we need to talk," the Doctor said firmly, as he began to enter coordinates into the nav screen.
"Wait. No. Doctor, I'm not going anywhere," Amy insisted.
"Amy," Rory started.
"Sorry but if you think I'm, that we're leaving you to do this alone you're a bigger madman than I thought." She poked the Doctor in the chest, defiant. "I'm. Not. Going."
The Doctor looked down where she'd prodded him. "Pond," he began. "I'm not doing it alone– "
"I'm not leaving you when you need me," Amy said, in a tone that made Rose embarrassed to remember her own fervent desire to stay. It was different to see from the outside, that much more inspiring and pathetic.
"I don't need you!" the Doctor retorted.
Amy's expression changed in a flurry, from angry to hurt then again to devastated, then back to fury. "Well, drop us off as soon as you can, wouldn't want to be a distraction," she snapped, and grabbed Rory's arm before he could do anything stupid like start shouting himself or throw a punch at the Time Lord in his own time machine.
Rose went instantly to the Doctor's side as Amy hauled Rory out of the console room. "What was that?" she demanded.
"Rose," Donna said in this quiet tone that she recognized as one of the Doctor's, in his darker moods, and she turned away from the Doctor's carefully blank face to Donna. "Leave it," she advised, and went to the console to fiddle with something that wasn't likely all that important.
They had a moment, just them, and Rose would never waste that opportunity again. She hugged him around the neck, though he remained still, and whispered, "You don't have to push us away."
Then she left, not looking back, not willing to chance a look at his face.
The TARDIS made her home at the Pond residence for the time being, though the motley crew currently on board stayed within the relative dimensions in space in their favorite comfort spaces. The Doctor was likely in the console room with Donna, up to his ankles in work he'd been putting off for what could have easily been years; Amy and Rory would be in their bedroom, talking quietly or cuddled together in silent solace. Rose herself sat in the red plush chair tucked in the corner of the wardrobe, her head in her hands as she slumped forward.
"You were wrong, John," she said, to the empty room, to the multiverse in general, because he wasn't there to hear her. He wasn't anywhere. "It wasn't him."
Then she changed clothes. First it served to make her feel like she'd escaped some sort of psychological shackles keeping her tied here – new Rose, new chapter, she could leave whenever she liked, couldn't she – but accessorizing with the second outfit proved an even better distraction, and then the third dress with all the buttons kept her nice and busy...
She looked in the mirror and her eyes were ablaze with gold. Artron energy, just a bit, John had encouraged her, and now it was burning through her again. She exhaled and felt the TARDIS pulsing around her, speaking wordlessly to her in hums and tick-tocks. "Hello," she murmured to her, and promptly collapsed to her knees, hard.
No. No. She willed herself back to her feet, through the strain and confusion, but failed.
You are not me.
Her hands began to work without her, seeking something – a grip, apparently, to pull her to her feet and keep her staggering. "No, no," she tried to murmur, but her body went on stumbling down hallways to lead her to the second console room.
Dust came off of nearly every surface she made contact with, but her fingers were clumsy on the keyboard, as the Bad Wolf drew on her connection to the TARDIS. "You bitch," Rose managed to snap out, yanking her hands away from the keyboard, but not before her fingers made the last necessary keystroke.
Rose stared at the console, eyebrows raised, and waited for something to explode, for the lights to lower, for something remotely sinister to happen. Absolutely nothing continued to happen, and aggressively so.
"What?" she said.
Go, the Bad Wolf willed her, and she didn't think twice before obeying. She had to tell the truth, even if the Doctor could no longer be trusted. The worst had already happened – John was gone.
Rose hovered at the entrance to the console room. "I have to tell you something," she said freely, clearly, and the Doctor and Donna looked up at her first in curiosity and then in mild horror. Then Rose noticed the wisps of artron energy drifting from her fingertips.
The Doctor rushed to her, but she pushed him back, her body quaking. "She wants to talk to you," she said.
"I don't want to hear it. Tell her to go back where she came from," the Doctor fired back without missing a beat.
I am home, the Bad Wolf answered, through her, and Rose drowned.
Everything was changed when Rose woke up. She was back down to a t-shirt and skirt, on her back in the hard beds of the medical ward. When she felt well enough to wander, she found the Doctor, Donna, and the Ponds tensely discussing something in low tones in the console room, a pot of tea apparently boiling on the console to soothe some of the obvious nerves. She was almost frightened to ask what had happened since she'd blacked out, but almost frightened was never frightened enough.
"Hi," she spoke up, and joined them as though nothing had happened. "Don't think I got the memo on the meeting here – "
"You should be resting," Rory chided her, at the nearly audibly stern stare the Doctor was giving Rose. "I'll, ah, let's go."
"I want to know what she said," Rose pressed, meeting the Doctor's gaze without hesitation.
"A lot of nothing," the Doctor said, distracted, irritated all at once. "Nothing you need to worry about."
"Right, not like I'm being possessed or anything," she shot back.
"I can't sort this with you here. I can't. So go," the Doctor rattled off, his gaze focused pointedly askance.
She could feel herself losing the fight. "Doctor – "
"Really, Doctor," Amy cut in. "First me, now Rose? We're a team, we've always been a team, I don't care what you're saying now, you're being an idiot."
"Amy, I need you to stay here and look after Rose. We'll be leaving tomorrow morning." The Doctor turned to the console. "I need to create a damper for the artron energy that Rose keeps attracting, and then we're on our merry way."
"I am not – " Rose started indignantly, just as Amy snapped, "Were you even listening – "
"Stop," Donna interrupted, exasperated. "This is much more dangerous than either of us thought. Someone's tailing us."
"Sorry? Someone's what?" Rory asked, after a moment of dumbfounded silence from the human crew.
"We have a tail," Donna repeated matter-of-factly.
"I think he was asking for clarification and less action-film lingo," the Doctor advised.
"Enough mouth, you." Donna looked to Rory, Amy and Rose. "Someone's following us."
"But no one can be following us," Rory said slowly. "Right?"
"Who ever said that?" the Doctor asked, sending Rory a befuddled look.
"Well it's a space and time machine – "
"I haven't got the only one! The best one, mind..."
"Who's following us then?" Amy asked, nonplussed.
Donna poured herself another cup of tea, mild as anything. "Whoever's tailing us found us out by a sequence programmed into the secondary console. Hacked our system, pulled some information, we don't know exactly what."
"No one can hack the TARDIS," Amy pointed out.
"The Doctor can," Rose said, forcing herself to meet his hard gaze. "With a little help."
"Go back to the medical ward," was the Doctor's only answer.
"I didn't mean to lie to you, Doctor – I really thought he was – "
"Go," he snapped, dark and furious like his last face, like John, and she obeyed, just like before, cursing the forces of the universe shoving her around like a handy chess piece.
Rose answered the door of her bedroom the moment he knocked.
"I'll tell you everything," she promised, and let him inside.