*Note* Rated M for chapters 25 & 30 , but what is posted here are the edited versions and are not explicit.
Disclaimer: Doctor Who and its characters belong to the BBC, and sadly not to me.
A/N I've finally gotten the draft for this story wrestled from my brain. This one is a new adventure and not a part of any of my previous series.
This story was inspired by a quote from Russell T Davies. In speaking of the Doctor and Rose's devotion to each other, he once said that Rose never would have just left him to "Marry the King of the Zobulans," and the idea has long since tickled my muse, thinking of all the "what ifs" had the situation actually arose. The idea has since become this rather involved plot, because nothing is ever simple for these two, is it?
I have to give major kudos to the TARDIS Technical Index on the Whoniverse website, whose wealth of info on the mechanics of a TARDIS made writing certain parts of this SO much easier.
I hope you enjoy this one!
And if you're reading, I love hearing from you to let me know you're there! That's what keeps me typing.
Thick smoke engulfed the console room as sparks rained down and flames erupted around its two occupants. The jarring flight that had begun as something Rose first thought was nothing more than a typical glitch for the sometimes faulty time machine had escalated to critical in a matter of minutes. The Doctor and Rose had no time to even prepare for the imminent crash, and they certainly did not stand prepared for how their lives would soon be affected by this consequential turn of events.
Looking back, the trouble seemed to begin a few days prior. The TARDIS had been, as the Doctor termed it, 'acting up' for the past few days. Maybe it was simply old age, Rose had thought, though she didn't voice that notion. It would have no doubt offended the Doctor...and his sentient ship. But she knew the time-ship itself was ancient. She didn't know if other TARDISes had required near-constant maintenance, but the Doctor's ship seemed to need endless tinkering, recalibrations and repairs. And making those repairs was not always easy. Being the last TARDIS in existence meant that attaining needed parts was often a challenging task. Whenever something needed replacing, the Doctor would have to make do with parts cobbled together from scrap yards and such located on various planets throughout the galaxies.
One such trip to Verexis Prime a few days before had been a disappointment for the Doctor when he simply couldn't find exactly what had been needed. Yet he had somehow managed to make do with what he had been able to attain, along with parts gathered here and there from other places. Though the Doctor had not voiced his feelings, Rose knew the emotions he felt went beyond simple frustration. These were times which only served as a further reminder to him that his own planet and its needed resources were gone. As if he ever needed the reminder.
Ever since the Doctor's attempts to make repairs with the less than ideal parts he had been able to gather a few days before hand, the TARDIS had only seemed to get worse and was operating with more and more of a strain. Unexpectedly, today was when the situation took a sudden critical turn.
The Doctor had been trying to repair the Temporal Retractors, which suddenly began losing containment as the Zybanium shields began showing signs of weakening. If the shields failed, the Chronoplasmic Energy within would escape and severely damage all other systems; which was exactly what began to happen, despite the Doctor's frenzied efforts to prevent it. A destructive cascade effect began, and there was little the Doctor could do.
The TARDIS shook violently, debris falling in torrents around the console room as showers of sparks enveloped them.
"Rose!" the Doctor shouted from across the smoldering console as Rose gripped the other side, fighting to remain upright, "Stand back from the console and grab hold of the strut behind you! We've lost the Temporal Retractors and we're falling out of the Vortex. I'm doing all I can to get us somewhere with an inhabitable atmosphere, but we're going to crash, and you need to be ready! I'm sorry! There's nothing I can do!"
For a fraction of a second, his terror-filled eyes locked onto hers, equally panicked. There was nothing he could do to protect her.
The Doctor never feared danger coming to Rose from inside the TARDIS. This was supposed to be their safe haven, even if the universe crumbled around them. Now their universe was crumbling from within.
"It's not your fault!" Rose yelled back to him over the clatter. Whatever happened in the next few critical seconds, she didn't want him to carry the guilt for it. "We just have to hold on...we'll be alright!"
They had barely finished getting the words out when the TARDIS pitched sharply again, hurling them both to the grated floor. Rose scrambled back to her feet, gripping the strut behind her just as the Doctor was pulling himself back up to the console. More sparks, followed by a burst of flames shot from the controls, rupturing the main fluid links as searing liquid and vapor suddenly erupted in the Doctor's face.
"Doctor!" Rose screamed as he staggered back, both hands flying up to cover his face, but it was too late. Debris continued to fall, and just at that moment a large chunk of the coral structure broke loose and came tumbling down directly over Rose. Even dazed and injured, the Doctor's senses were acute, and he was somehow able to react in an instant. He launched himself towards Rose, knocking her down beneath him. He covered her body with his own as the crumbling structure fell upon and around them.
The chaos ended with a violent crash, then silence descended, replacing the mayhem with an eerie calm. The only sound to be heard for several heartbeats was the crackling of fire as the TARDIS continued to smolder.
A few seconds later the Cloister Bell began to toll its foreboding clang, and the doors opened to signal their need for immediate exit. Emergency power lit a path to the ramp, barely cutting through the haze of thick smoke engulfing the room.
From beneath the prone, unmoving form of the Doctor, Rose struggled out from under, shifting his weight to the side. She coughed and choked on the black smoke burning her lungs as threatening flames continued to spread.
"D-Doctor!" she rasped, pulling herself onto her knees beside his motionless body. "Doctor, we have to get out!"
The Doctor remained unconscious and unmoving. Rose's entire body was throbbing from the impact with the grating and the force of the crash, but at the moment her own condition was the last thing on her mind. They had to get out of the TARDIS, and the Doctor was incapable of moving on his own.
Rose crawled over him and bent forward. She turned him onto his back as carefully as possible and hooked her hands beneath his underarms as she grit her teeth and pulled. Rose began dragging him across the console room and down towards the doors. Sheer adrenaline fueled her strength as she struggled to get them both out of the burning ship. She stumbled once halfway down the ramp, but she picked herself and the Doctor back up and continued her strained effort.
Upon finally reaching the outside, the doors closed, and the TARDIS sealed herself shut. Coughing raggedly, Rose dropped down, and was left kneeling on the ground beside the Doctor. She blinked away the stinging tears in her raw eyes that had been assaulted from the smoke and focused on the face of the unresponsive Time Lord on the ground beside her. It was then, in the clear light, that Rose was able to see the extent of his injuries.
A gasp caught in her throat as she saw his face. He had been severely burned across his face and down his neck. A trail of blood also ran down the left side of his face from a deep gash in his head that he had sustained from falling debris. With fumbling fingers, Rose unzipped and peeled off her fuchsia jacket, stripping down to her T-shirt as she used the garment to press to his head in an attempt to stop the bleeding. Rose fought down a feeling of panic. She didn't know what else she could do, but she had to stay calm.
Her stomach twisted painfully at the sight of the raw flesh of his face. They needed help. With the TARDIS uninhabitable, and for all she knew maybe completely destroyed, her only hope was to seek help from wherever this place was they now found themselves.
Rose lifted her eyes from the Doctor and for the first time surveyed their surroundings as a temperate breeze caressed her upturned face. Under any other circumstances she would have been awed by the scene laid out before her. They sat in a field of lush grass, a deeper green than Rose had ever seen. A forest of golden-colored trees, like autumn in all its gilded splendor, lay several meters behind them. In front, against the backdrop of a deep turquoise sky, golden mountains capped the landscape, softened by a thin stroke of misty fog draping the air.
Rose dropped her eyes back down to the Doctor. She hoped he could at least sense her words, and she put effort into sounding composed. "Well, everything else aside, it looks like we've picked a lovely place for a crash landing. We just need to work a bit on our arrivals, yeah?" She spoke to him blithely, though her voice shook even as she tried to remain jovial with her injured Doctor. She eased the jacket back from his head and inspected the gash. The bleeding seemed to have slowed. She wanted to cup his cheek and stroke him comfortingly, but considering his singed flesh she settled for placing a hand on his chest as she spoke again with solemn conviction. "I'm gonna get help for us somehow, Doctor. You'll be alright. I promise."
Rose unbuttoned his rumpled, pinstriped jacket and fumbled through the deep inner pocket. Finding the object of her search, she pulled out the sonic screwdriver. Rose worried her bottom lip between her teeth as she wracked her brain, trying to remember if the Doctor had ever shown her a setting for injuries. He'd fixed up a few of her own scrapes and bruises often enough in the infirmary with the dermal regenerator, but she just couldn't recall such a setting on the sonic. She was certain there must be one, but she just didn't know what it was.
She lowered the sonic screwdriver with a frustrated groan and carefully returned it to his pocket.
Rose knew the Doctor had a better capacity for healing than most, and if his injuries were serious enough he could even regenerate. Not that she wanted to even let her mind go to the place of considering he was that bad off. But just because he might have a quicker ability to heal, that didn't make him invincible, as evidenced by his burned, bleeding, unconscious body lying before her in this picturesque field as the TARDIS smoldered behind them.
Rose looked up again, beginning to feel frantic about what to do as her eyes flitted to and fro. She couldn't just leave the Doctor here alone, but they desperately needed help. Rose didn't know if help was something that could even be found here, though. For all she knew, this place where they had crashed could be uninhabited; or worse yet, inhabited by a hostile race.
It wasn't going to take long to find out. As she knelt beside the Doctor, Rose began to feel the ground tremor slightly beneath her. It was barely detectable at first, then steadily grew stronger, accompanied by a rumbling sound, like approaching thunder. It steadily grew louder, and as Rose looked in the direction of the sound she saw what looked to be an advancing convoy on horseback. Cresting over the rise of the hill to her right, the cavalcade moved as one, galloping closer, about thirty in number, Rose assessed.
Apparently the TARDIS blazing through this planet's atmosphere had not gone unnoticed. She shifted closer to the Doctor and put both hands around his shoulders, instinctively gripping him in a protective manner, uncertain of the impending fate they were about to meet. Her stomach tightened as the mighty band grew nearer. Whether they were about to bring help or hostility, Rose knew there was little she could do either way.