It is completely inexcusable that this has taken so long! RL has been crazy and awful and wonderful and honestly, I was just tired of looking at this chapter :-) Hopefully it isn't as awful as I think it is. Enjoy and thank you all for the wonderful reviews and for sticking with me! Next chapter is halfway done and pure fluff (something I'm actually good at for once!)
The Doctor felt his jaw drop as he stared at the man on the screen, apparently a Professor Richard Lazarus. The name didn't ring any bells, and without the TARDIS's vast data storage he had no way of knowing whether or not this man was significant to Earth's future, making it far more complicated that this happened to be a parallel Earth. He couldn't read the timelines here like he could before, and hadn't yet felt the tell-tale instinctive pull that indicated a fixed point in time. He felt blind, and it was intensely frustrating.
Tucking the envelope containing Rose's scan results under one arm and cursing the absence of his bigger-on-the-inside pockets (Mickey and Rose had yet to return his brown pinstripes), laced their fingers together and tugged her out of the room. He led the way to Pete's office, Rose shouting questions after him the entire time, questions even he didn't have the answers to, at least not yet.
He stormed into Pete's office without even bothering the knock. The man in question was on the phone, looking stressed, and only acknowledged them with a brief nod of his head.
"Right," he assured, rubbing his hand over his eyes. "Yes, ma'am, I've got my best people on it already.
We will determine if this is a threat or if there is alien involvement and report back immediately."
He hung up the receiver and sighed before addressing the pair in front of him. "Well, you two, looks like we're going to a party tomorrow."
"Black tie," the Doctor muttered as they approached the large, posh office building where the gala was taking place. "Black torture is more like it. I swear, Rose, bad things happen to me when I wear a tux. Not to mention this bloody bow tie..."
"Stop fussing," Rose teased, stopping them so she could straighten the simple black tie that he had fiddled askew. "Bad things are going to happen wherever we go, Doctor. Jeopardy friendly, remember? Plenty of bad things happen when you're wearing your brown pinstripes but you don't think those are cursed..."
"There's a good reason for that. My pinstripes are brilliant. The pinstripes I hope to wear again someday..."
Rose grinned at him, her tongue caught between her teeth. "I'm telling you, Doctor, you're really overthinking this."
The Doctor made a face at her, and he looked so adorably put out that she had to lean in and brush a brief, gentle kiss on his lips.
"Mmm," he murmured as she pulled away. "Have I mentioned how brilliant kissing is? Humans, leave it to you to think of pressing orifices together as a sign of affection. Granted, there are enough nerve endings in your lips to make it particularly pleasurable. That's one thing you have in common with us Time Lords, same basic erogenous zones..."
"Doctor," Rose cut him off with a grin. "Pete and the team are waiting just up ahead with the limo. We really ought to get over there, we don't want to miss the briefing."
The Doctor pouted but continued on, slipping his hand into Rose's as they continued towards the large, imposing glass structure. "What I should be doing is reviewing your test results. I've had them sitting in my desk for nearly two days now..."
"They aren't going to change, and besides this is more important right now."
The Doctor glanced over at her and sighed, letting go of her hand only to wrap his arm around her shoulders and tug her into his side. He dropped a kiss in her hair and rested his cheek against her head, letting out a content sigh. They continued walking in that manner all the way until they reached the nondescript limousine where everyone was going to congregate for the evening while Pete, Rose, and the Doctor attended the soiree. While it appeared completely normal from the outside, the inside was outfitted with a ridiculous number of gadgets and surveillance equipment while still somehow remaining plush and luxurious. They went over the details of the case while Bill handed over nearly invisible ear pieces made from moldable foam, allowing them to fit safely and snugly in the ear without attracting attention. Pete pinned dainty corsage to the strap of Rose's dress, containing a wireless microphone and practically microscopic camera lens, while a similar piece of technology was tucked within the Doctor's bowtie. Pete's tie was given the same treatment, and the three of them stepped out of the limousine precisely at the scheduled time.
"All right, boys and girl, let's see what we can dig up," Jake's voice crackled into the earpieces.
"Be safe," Carrie added.
"Don't start any fights!" Liza chirped, and Rose could hear the grin in her voice. "That's my job!"
Pete leaned into Rose, seemingly for a fatherly hug as flashbulbs practically blinded the three of them. "Please stay safe, luv. Your mother will murder me if something happens to you."
"Best we split up," Pete muttered as they walked into the hall. "Start talking, try and figure out what's going on. But stay in sight, keep to the plan..."
"Ohhhhh, would you look at that," the Doctor made a beeline for the center of the room, completely ignoring Pete's request. Rose glanced at him apologetically and followed after the Doctor, who had naturally found a server and was happily munching on some hors d'oeuvres.
"Nibbles!" he exclaimed as Rose made her way to his side. "Oh, I love nibbles, don't you? And come look at this."
He steered her towards the centerpiece of the evening: a sleek, innocuous-looking white chamber with several strange arms attached that stood in the middle of the room. "What is it?" she asked
"Looks like a sonic microfield manipulator," the Doctor muttered, circling around the odd chamber.
"What's it do?" Rose asked.
"I haven't got the foggiest," the Doctor replied. "If we were in our world, this sort of technology would be so far out of its time we would have to do some major damage control."
"So, what do we do? What's the plan?"
"Rose! Doctor! What are you two doing here? When did you get back from New York?"
"Martha!" Rose exclaimed, rushing over to the young woman who had come into their eyeline and wrapping her in a hug. "Just a few days ago in fact. What are you doing here? You look gorgeous!"
"My older sister, Tish, works in Lazarus' PR department," Martha told them. "I love that dress, Rose! And those shoes are to die for, are they comfortable?"
"Rose," the Doctor interrupted. "I don't mean to be rude..."
"Of course you do," she grinned at him. "But go on."
The Doctor huffed. "There's something very odd going on here, Martha. Do you have any idea what this Lazarus is up to?"
"No idea," Martha shrugged. "I could ask Tish. But she's not really the science type. She just told us to show up and look pretty."
The Doctor turned back to the chamber. "This could be very, very bad. A sonic microfield manipulator can only be used for so many things, most of them this world is not ready for.
"Martha! You didn't tell me you know Rose Tyler!"
The Doctor and Rose both spun around, greeting an attractive young woman who resembled Martha a great deal. Rose turned to Martha just in time to see her rolling her eyes. "Tish, my sister. Sorry!"
"What do you have to be sorry about?" the Doctor replied innocently.
"Dr. Smith and Rose Tyler! I'm Leticia Jones, Martha's sister. We are so excited you could make it! You have to meet the rest of the family! Our mum is here, and she's brought Leo!"
"Leo's in black tie? This I've gotta see!"
"And two nights out in a row for you!" Tish teased her sister gently. "That's dangerously close to a social life!"
"Oh, right, your brother's birthday party!" Rose replied. "How was it?"
Martha chuckled. "It was...eventful."
"Well, the thing is, ladies, we really should..." the Doctor tried to interrupt.
Tish completely ignored his protests and put herself between him and Rose, linking each elbow with one of theirs. "We are so excited that you could make it! And of course Professor Lazarus is dying to meet you as well. He specifically asked me to come and find you tonight. Dr. Smith, as a scientist yourself, I'm sure you'll be impressed at the work we've been doing here."
"Oh, Tish, I'm sure we all will!" Rose replied cheerily.
"Keep her talking, Rose," Mickey's voice chirped from her ear piece. "We've got your back."
"Is Professor Lazarus available?" the Doctor asked him. "I'd love to discuss his theory."
"He'll be talking with investors after the demonstration," Tish replied. "But he wanted to be sure you three were taken care of. Shame your mother couldn't join us, Rose. Is she settling in all right?"
"Oh, you know, as good as can be expected. So what exactly are we seeing tonight?"
"I couldn't even begin to tell you. Don't have a mind for all this rubbish," she told them before steering them over to where Pete was waiting. "Well, I'll leave the three of you with the best seats in the house. Come find me after!"
Rose turned to Pete just in time for him to raise an eyebrow before the lights dropped, highlighting the elderly man from the television standing proudly in front of the odd chamber. The Doctor gripped her hand and gave her a small, reassuring smile before the old man clinked his glass and began to speak.
"Ladies and gentlemen," he croaked out. "I am Professor Richard Lazarus and tonight, I'm going to perform a miracle."
"I don't like those words. Those words are never good for me," the Doctor murmured to Rose.
She coughed to cover her giggle and focused on the older gentleman stepping into the chamber. She felt an odd sinking in her stomach as the machine powered up and the attachments began spinning rapidly. She could practically hear the foreboding music as the mechanical whirring filled the room. Everyone was enraptured, but Rose could feel the faint echo of the Doctor's genuine unease through their link.
Unease that grew into panic as the sound of alarms filled the room.
"Something's wrong," the Doctor said. "It's overloading!"
"Guys, what's going on?" Mickey chirped in over her earpiece. "Do you need back-up? An ambulance?"
"Stand by," Pete told them. "Doctor, what's happening?"
"The whole building is going to go up!" he called as he raced across the room to the bank of computers, pushing the attractive lab assistants aside and aiming his sonic at the various screens.
"Somebody stop him. Get him away from those controls!"
Rose, who had taken off after the Doctor, turned towards the older woman. "This huge, mad machine is malfunctioning and your staff don't seem to know the first thing about how to stop it. Do us a favor and please just button it so we don't all die!"
The woman looked incredibly insulted, but Rose didn't have time to be concerned. The Doctor called for her to pull a huge power cable from the wall that shut the contraption down completely. Martha leapt onto the platform and the Doctor followed soon after, shouting to get the chamber open. Rose's heart began pounding as, somehow, an impossibly younger man emerged from the smoking chamber.
"Ladies and gentlemen, I am Richard Lazarus. I am seventy six years old and I am reborn!"
"Better have that back-up on standby, Mickey."
"It can't be the same guy. It's impossible. It must be a trick." Martha said as the foursome stood off to the side and watched as Lazarus posed for photographers with several young, attractive ladies.
Pete turned to Martha and held out a hand. "We haven't actually been introduced. Martha Jones, I presume? Heard a lot about you."
Martha looked stunned. "You heard a lot about me?"
The Doctor, completely oblivious to the conversation happening around him, continued on from Martha's comment as if there had been no interruption. "Oh, it's not a trick. I wish it were."
"What the hell happened?" Pete asked them.
"He just changed what it means to be human."
"That sounds bad," Rose replied, watching the Professor grab a plate of appetizers and start shoveling them in his face.
"Bad doesn't even begin to cover it," the Doctor told her.
"So, what do we do, boss?" Mickey piped into their earpieces.
"We play investor!" Pete told them, straightening his bowtie and gesturing for them all to head towards the investor and the woman from earlier that Rose presumed to be his wife. "Time to put on my shmoozing face."
"I'm famished," Professor Lazarus was saying through a mouthful of food as they made their way through the admiring crowd.
"Energy deficit. Always happens with this kind of process,"
"You speak as if you see this every day, Mister...?"
"Doctor. Smith. John Smith. And well, no, not every day, but I have some experience of this kind of transformation."
"Oh, Dr. Smith! I should have known, we were hoping you would grace us with your presence tonight. And Mr. Peter Tyler, so happy you could join us. You must be the lovely Rose. What did you think of the presentation?"
The Doctor, as per usual, ignored the Professor's pleasantries and barreled ahead with the science. "Using hypersonic sound waves to create a state of resonance. That's inspired!"
The Professor looked surprised. "You understand the theory, then."
"Enough to know that you couldn't possibly have allowed for all the variables."
"No experiment is entirely without risk."
"That thing nearly exploded. You might as well have stepped into a blender."
"You're not qualified to comment," the Professor's wife piped up indignantly.
"He's more qualified than anyone else here," Rose defended. "If he hadn't been there, that machine would have exploded. You could have been killed!"
"Then I thank you, Doctor. But that's a simple engineering issue. What happened inside the capsule was exactly what was supposed to happen. No more, no less." He seemed to direct this last comment at Pete. Rose rolled her eyes internally. As always, it came down to money.
"You've no way of knowing that until you've run proper tests," Martha piped in
"Look at me. You can see what happened. I'm all the proof you need."
"This device will be properly certified before we start to operate commercially," his wife stated indignantly. "That is a promise, Mr. Tyler."
"Commercially? You're planning to market commercially?" Pete asked them in disbelief.
"This man's a nutcase," Jake muttered through their earpieces.
"Oh, yes. Think about it. A chance for humanity to evolve, to improve."
"This isn't about improving. This is about you and your customers living a little longer."
"Not a little longer, Doctor. A lot longer. Perhaps indefinitely."
Rose laced her fingers through the Doctor's and squeezed gently. She could feel his anger ebb a bit, but the undercurrent still remained. And she couldn't blame him. These were awful people, and how they came upon this technology had her scratching her head.
"Richard, we have things to discuss, upstairs."
Professor Lazarus smiled politely at the woman and stretched out a hand to Pete. "Goodbye, Mr. Tyler, it was a pleasure. And you, Doctor. Believe me, in a few years, you'll look back and laugh at how wrong you were. Ladies."
Martha stretched out a hand politely, and Rose raised an eyebrow at her. Lazarus, ever the gentleman (and, Rose suspected, somewhat of a lothario) placed a kiss there immediately before turning and leaving with his wife.
"Oh, he's out of his depth. No idea of the damage he might have done," the Doctor stated.
"So what do we do now, Doctor?" Pete asked.
"Now? Well, this building must be full of laboratories. I say we do our own tests."
Martha grinned at them. "Lucky I've just collected a DNA sample then, isn't it?"
The Doctor glanced at her, a smile stretching over his face. "Oh, Martha Jones, you're a star!"
"Martha, have you ever thought about working for Torchwood?" Pete asked as they took off towards the elevators.
"Oh...my...GOD! I think he drooled in my hair! There's mutant scorpion spit in my hair! I need to go take ten thousand showers!"
The Doctor huffed and tore off his bowtie. "I told you! But oh, no, you wouldn't listen!" His voice went high and breathy. "Oh, Docta, you're bein' silly. 'Course that tuxedo isn't bad luck. You're imaginin' things!' Giant...mutant...scorpions, Rose!"
"What, Doctor? I can barely hear you. That stupid organ is still making my ears ring. This was the worst!" Rose swept off her elegant cocktail dress and tossed it unceremoniously in a corner of their bedroom.
"What about Satan? I rather thought Satan might be worse than this."
"What are you even saying to me, Doctor? I see your lips moving but it's just bloody church bells."
The Doctor sighed and pulled the sonic screwdriver from his jacket pocket. He thumbed through the settings until he found the one that would repair the tiny hair cells in Rose's inner ear. "Here you are, love, this will cure your tinnitus."
"Doctor, this is no time to talk about my breasts. Can't you get rid of this bloody ringing?"
He chuckled and aimed the instrument in Rose's left ear, followed by her right. She let out a sigh of relief and sagged back against his chest.
"Thank you," she murmured. "That's so much better." She turned around and leaned heavily against him.
"I'm probably covered in giant mutant scorpion saliva too."
"Don't care," she murmured. "God, that really was terrible. Martha was brilliant, though, wasn't she? Just stepped right in. Got that DNA sample, got everyone out. Too bad her mum hates you."
He chuckled. "Don't have the best history with mothers, do I?"
"Mum loves you now," Rose replied. "Took her time getting there though. But that machine! Where did that even come from?"
The Doctor let out a long breath. "I dunno. I can't read the timelines here, but humans were nowhere near that level back in your time. This is centuries ahead of where it should be."
"Yeah, but didn't you say they were ahead in this universe?"
"Not by this much." He closed his eyes and sighed, letting his cheek rest against Rose's mutant saliva-coated hair. "It seems wrong. But I can't tell because I'm not in tune with this universe. And it is incredibly frustrating."
"We'll figure it out, Doctor," Rose told him, gripping him tighter around his waist. "Pete's got the technology holed up at Torchwood so you can take a look at it whenever you want. But right now I am bloody exhausted. I am sleeping until noon and I do not want a peep out of you."
"Oh, all right," he grumbled, pulling back and grinning at Rose. "Although, now does seem to be a particularly brilliant time to talk about your breasts..."
Rose slept exceptionally late the next morning and woke up to find the Doctor's side of the bed empty. He was starting to develop a regular sleep pattern, resting with her for a few hours each night but generally up and tinkering by the time she awoke. She got out of bed and donned her dressing gown, only to exit the room and immediately find the Doctor in their sitting area. He was perched on the sofa, glaring at the manila envelope containing her test results with two mugs of tea on the table in front of him.
He glanced up when she entered the room and his smile made Rose's heart flutter.
"Are you ready for this?" he asked, scooting over so Rose could have the seat next to him.
"Been ready since 'run,'" she replied with a grin. "Go on, then. Let's have a look."
The Doctor dropped a soft kiss on her lips before popping open the large envelope. He reached inside and had just pulled out the small handful of films when a horrific screeching ripped through the mansion.
"What in the bloody hell do you mean you don't have shawarma?"
"What would you like me to do about it, Jacks? You're in a different bleedin' universe for heaven's sake!"
"Don't you even care? This is your baby! And your baby wants shawarma! I can't believe I'm stuck here forever with a man who doesn't care about his baby in a universe with no shawarma!"
The unmistakable sounds of Jackie's sobs made Rose cringe. The Doctor sighed and tucked the films back in the envelope.
"Please tell me you know how to make shawarma," Rose told him. "Otherwise I think mum is going to have a nervous breakdown."
The Doctor plastered a grin on his face and held out his hand. "Come on, love. We need to find a butcher, pickled turnips, and a spit pronto. Could take all day. Are you prepared for an adventure?"
Rose laughed as he pulled her up off the sofa. "In my dressing gown?"
He glanced down at her attire and pursed his lips. "I suppose you make an excellent point. Shower and dress, we are leaving in 20 minutes. I will do my best to tame the harpy."
"Oh, I'll show you a harpy!" Jackie screeched from the stairwell.
He gaped at the older blonde woman, horrified. "She hears like a bat!"
Rose giggled. "Could never sneak blokes into my bedroom, mum was always at the door with a broomstick and a can of Mace."
"And just who were you sneaking into your bedroom, Rose Tyler?" the Doctor asked, indignantly.
Rose grinned. "Gosh, twenty minutes, you say? I'd better get a move on! So much to do, so little time! Allons-y, eh, Doctor?"