"But, if it's kind of like the first time, then I should be able to do it," Rose said.
"I mean, it's not like I'm possessed. I'm still me, so I'll know what I want. And I have the power of the Time Vortex. If I can make the other Jack immortal, taking you with me will be no problem."
"Let's just see if we can bring it out without having to wait. I would like my fiancé to live past the next week so I can marry her," the Doctor said. "I'd also like to know how you still have it in you, and why it hasn't killed you sooner."
"Did you get this 'worrying' thing from Donna?" Rose teased. The Doctor just rolled his eyes.
It was the day after Rose had collapsed, and the test results were locked safely in his draw, away from everyone... including Rose. There was another reason he was getting her to go. He didn't like it, and he was guessing he knew she wouldn't either. So he was going to tell her later... He was!
In the mean time, he had worked out how they could fit in two or three spikes in a day. If they stuck to his schedule, they should be done in four days... Only four days left with Rose...
Right now, they sat in his car, just outside the 8am point.
It all hinged on two things. If they could trigger it, and if it stayed a secret, the last thing they needed was the rest of Torchwood sniffing about this. Pete could only do so much... Speaking of which, they still needed to tell Jackie and Pete what was going on.
"Okay, ready?" he said.
Rose nodded and he placed the tips of his fingers on her temples. He hadn't done this in a while, let alone as a human, so it was a bit like moving through a thick water like substance at first. Rose was good for her part, when she felt him at the edge of her mind, she relaxed, like he'd told her, and let him in.
He searched deeper into her mind, till he felt a burning spark of energy. Somehow the Time Vortex was stored safe within her, not harming her.
"I found it," he told her. "See if you can follow me with your mind and connect with it."
He could feel Rose concentrate, searching him out. Soon she was focused in on the spark and he withdrew from her mind
"How do I connect with it?" she said, her eyes still tightly closed.
"I don't know. I don't have the Time Vortex living inside of me, do I? Just… do what you think is right."
He watched as she continued to sit with her eyes closed. Slowly the air around them began to heat up and her skin started to almost shimmer. When she opened her eyes again… they were gold.
Rose just looked at him a moment, a sad expression on her face. Then, slowly, a smile crept up her lips, and she reached up and cupped his face with her hand.
"My Doctor," she said, her ethereal voice catching slightly. "Everything will be okay. It will turn out alright."
The Doctor said nothing, he smiled at her sadly and followed her out of the car. He watched as she walked purposefully to a seemingly random spot, stood with her arms out to her sides… and waited.
"So what are you doing?" he asked after a while.
"If I can put enough pressure in the right places, I can create a crack in the walls of the universe, stable enough to close back once I'm though."
"And how are you supposed to do that?"
"By creating the extra twenty-four pressure point around the unopened rift, I can get directly to the Time Vortex. The Time Vortex is always trying to heal itself. And it will make the trip through the Void shorter."
"I see… Why twenty-four?"
"It was the most I could allow without the Time Vortex completely taking over me and killing me. The more points, the quicker it will be, and the less energy I use."
"So, you're holding back the Time Vortex," the Doctor said, worry creeping back into his voice.
Rose nodded. "When this first happened, I took in the entire Vortex, but I couldn't handle it. I saw this. All of it. Everything that did happen and will happen. And what could have happened if certain paths were not taken. I had to make things right. So, when you took it out of me, I hid one tiny spark in my heart and mind. It let me build and immunity to it over time as it grew stronger. But I'm still not strong enough. I still can't handle what happens and what I see. When I'm like this, my mind is bigger, but it still hurts. I've been blacking out because I have to force myself not to remember. Or it would destroy me."
"I see… So it's part of you. You do know that it's changed your entire DNA structure? You're barely human anymore. You're going to live for a long time… Much longer than me."
"Yes. I know… but I won't remember it. You'll have to tell me later. And have faith. Everything will work out," she said. "Now stand back. I'm about to start."
"Alright," the Doctor said quietly. Then, doing as she asked, he backed away to where the car was parked.
Wind began to whip around their ankles and the air around Rose began to form almost a mini tornado. It began to shimmer, and slowly, she rose in the air until her feet were about level with his head. The gold in her eyes reached a new intensity. Then, she raised her glowing hands above her head and a bright bolt of energy sprung from them to the sky. It was so bright that it hurt the Doctor's eyes to look at, but he still tried.
There was a point in the sky where the energy stopped, as if it had hit a barrier. From there, it spread out, like giant gold cracks in the sky. Anyone who didn't know any better would think it were bizarre lightning.
It lasted for almost a minute, before the gold began to dissipate, and Rose sunk back to the ground.
"Rose!" he cried. He ran over to her, just in time to support her limp form and stop her from crumpling to the ground. Her eyes fluttered open and she looked tiredly up at him.
"Doctor? What…?" She looked around, then back at the car, confusion creasing her brow a second.
"It's okay," he told her. "It's over. How do you feel."
"I'm okay," she said. "A little tired. Do we have to do more today?"
"If we want to get you back before you start to deteriorate, then yes."
"Aww," she groaned.
"Come on, we've got seven hours till the next one. Let's get you rested.
"Okay," Rose said as he led her back to the car. "It's weird, I don't usually snap out of it this soon."
"Perhaps you don't feel the need now that you're not trying to keep it from anyone." He started the car and left the place, before anyone could place them at that spot.
"Still, I don't get why I can't remember."
"I do," he told her, taking his eyes off the road for a second to flash her a cheeky grin. "We had a very nice little chat while you were all gold and sparkly. You can't remember because your mind can't completely handle holding the Time Vortex yet."
"Yet?" she questioned. The Doctor's grip tightened on the wheel. "You mean I'm going to?" He gave a sharp nod, eyes fixed to the road. "But, how? If I can't now, what's going to make it any different later on?"
The Doctor sighed sadly. "It's because you're changing," he said darkly.
"Changing? what do you mean?" she asked fearfully.
"You held on to part of the Time Vortex, Rose. That's enough to change anyone. Prolonged exposure to it what changed the Time Lords into what they were. But you… it's been inside you For four years. It's slowly been shaping you so you're accustomed to it."
"Accustomed to it?"
"Yes!" he said, frustration starting to show through his voice. He didn't want to be scaring Rose like he was, but he couldn't help it. He didn't like this one bit. "You bonded yourself to the Time Vortex . You are permanently part of it. I have your medical files at home... You're barely human anymore!"
"Th-then what am I?" she said in a small voice.
"I don't know," he sighed. "Well, I have an idea, but I don't have any way to test it. He'll have to do it when you get back over."
"Why are you so adamant that you won't be coming with me?" she said.
"Why are you so adamant that I will?"
"I just am. I can feel it. Everything's going to be fine."
The Doctor said nothing to that. Because he was getting the exact opposite feeling. Despite his brain telling him that there would be no place for him in the other world, in his heart he could feel the sense of impending doom.
He knew that something was coming.
It was a very quiet ride home.
"Sorry, Doctor. They pretty much forced me to call you," Jack said down the phone.
"It's okay, but you know I can't come in."
"Yeah, I know. I tried to tell them that Rose wasn't well. How is she now?"
Sighing, the Doctor turned, leaning back against the wall, and looked down into the lounge where Rose was asleep on the couch. "She's tired," he said. "She's asleep right now. I got more answers about her condition, though. She doesn't want to go through with the rest. She's scared."
"I can imagine," Jack said. "When is the next one?"
"3pm. I've timed them so that most of them are five hours apart. Some are, four, ten or twelve. Later it's at 8pm."
"1am, 11am, 4pm and 9pm. Then we're doing 2am, 2pm and 6pm. The next day, it's 6am, and we're done. Can you keep them off our trail? Rose snapped out of it immediately, she didn't have time to clean up like the other times."
"Yeah, sure. I'll tell them you're too busy looking after Rose to come round."
"Thank you, Jack."
"No problem, Doc. Keep that girl safe."
"Will do. See you later."
The Doctor hung up the phone, then went and sat on the couch opposite his fiancé with a sigh. There was one more thing they had to do, right away. And he had no idea how to go about it. He didn't really want Rose to know half of it, but he was gong to have to tell her.
Picking up the phone again, he dialled in a number he would all too happily delete.
"Hello?" came the reply. He sighed in relief when he heard that it was Pete's voice on the other line.
"Hey, Pete, it's me."
"Doctor, what can I do for you?"
"Ah, well… Something important has popped up. I need to speak with you and Jackie. Here. Soon as possible."
"Well, Jackie's just out at the park with Ton- Oh, never mind, she just walked through the door. We'll be there soon."
The phone disconnected and the Doctor put it back on the hook. Sighing, he sat down on the armchair next to Rose. She looked so tired. There were shadows beneath her eyes, and her brow was furrowed, even as she slept.
He did not like what was happening at all, but there was no way to stop it. And to top it all off, he had no idea how to handle what was coming next.
After sitting on the couch worrying for twenty minutes, the Doctor practically jumped when the doorbell rang.
"Just a minute!" he called. Then he went to Rose and gently shook her awake. "Rose? Rose, wake up, sweetie. Your parents are here."
"What?" she said groggily, rubbing her eyes as she sat up.
"Hang on," he told her. "I'm coming!" he then called to the door, walking in that direction. He opened the door to see a worried looking Pete and Jackie. "Good you're here."
"Doctor, what's going on?" Pete asked.
"Come into the lounge," the Doctor said, his eyes flicking that way. "Rose is in there." The two of them did as he asked and followed him in.
"Rose!" Jackie cried, seeing the state of her daughter. "Are you alright? What's wrong?" She descended upon her and wrapped her in her arms.
"I'm okay," she mumbled. "Just tired."
"Now, what's wrong, Doctor?" Pete said, taking a set.
"Well," he drew out the word, sitting down himself. "Yesterday we found out what was causing the spikes… it was Rose." Pete opened his mouth, but the Doctor carried on before he could speak. "She has no memories of it. Thing is, something happened to her a long time ago, back in the other world. And it's taken all this time, but it's slowly changed her. She's not exactly human anymore. I'm not sure what she is, but we'll find out. The main point is, she's deteriorating. If we have any hope, she needs to get back to the TARDIS in the next few weeks."
"But that's in the other universe!" Jackie cried.
"And that's why she's breaking down the walls of the universe, cracking it. That's what the spikes are."
"Well, that, and for some reason that I'm the only one that can save the other Doctor from dying."
"I've been having this dream about him dying. And I've just got this feeling that it's real, and I can't let it happen. Like things would go wrong if I didn't stop it."
"Rose, we can worry about him later. Right now, our priority is you. We have to make sure that no one else finds out it's you. We have to monitor your levels, make sure you get enough energy so you don't collapse like you did yesterday!"
"I'll make sure no one at Torchwood gets to close," Pete assured them. "How long will this take?"
"Four days," he told them, no enthusiasm in his voice.
"Days!" Jackie cried, rising from her seat. "She's only going to be here for four days?! Then what? What about the rest of us? Isn't there another way? Can't she stay?"
"No, there isn't. It's too difficult, and too dangerous. Besides that, it would be cruel to keep her here."
"And why's that?"
The Doctor paused and looked at Rose before he answered. "Because if she survives… she's going to be alive for a very long time."
"What do you mean 'a very long time'?" Rose said in confusion.
"Well," he said, then paused again. "It was hard to pick up when I first looked at your results. It was a little confusing, since you were deteriorating at the time, but there was something beneath it. Your cells are regenerating rapidly. Which means you aren't aging and you won't get sick… at least, not by normal standard. This is the exception, because it's causing the deterioration in the first place. Depending on exactly what you've become, you could live for centuries."
"Centuries?" Jackie whispered aghast.
"Which is another reason she has to go. At least if she's with the other Doctor, she won't be alone forever. And there's always Jack."
"I won't be alone," Rose said. "I'm taking you with me."
"I'm only human. I'm going to die one day. Besides that, I don't think he'll be too happy about that."
"Tough. This is my choice."
"Rose," he said evenly, keeping his turbulent emotions at bay, but with a sad, serious look on his face. "We would have to stay with him in the TARDIS. He's me. It would break his hearts."
"I don't care. It was his choice to leave us together, he can deal with that. You never give me a choice. Neither of you. And now it's my turn. If I have to go, I'm taking you with me!"
The Doctor sighed, half in frustration, half in defeat. There was no winning an argument with Rose Tyler. Bloody stubborn woman.
"How about we focus on getting you over there first," Pete said cautiously, trying to calm her down.
"Good idea," the Doctor said, quick to change the subject. "We have a schedule all set out so she can do as many as she can in one day without knocking herself out again."
"Who else knows about this?"
"Just Jack. He's helping us out. I wouldn't trust anyone else. Not with Rose's safety."
"Agreed. No one else is to know. Not even a hint. I'll tell the others you two are off the case, and get Jack to stop them if they get close."
"Because that's not suspicious," Rose said sarcastically, sulking at the Doctor's attitude. "Great idea, take the leading researcher off the case."
"Easy. You've been a bit off the last week or so, you've already told them you're sick. We'll just tell them you've become deathly ill, and the Doctor's trying to make you better. And then, in four or five days time, we tell them you've died."
At this, Jackie looked stony faced, and Rose's brow crumpled. "What about the Doctor?" behind her, the Doctor threw is hands up in a 'I give up' gesture.
"I don't know, died of grief, his life force was tied to yours, he used his energy up trying to save you and turned back into a hand? He's a Metacrisis, anything could be possible. And I bet you if Jack told the rest of the team, that lot would more than likely believe it."
"So… I only have four days left with my daughter?" Jackie said.
A short, sharp laugh burst from her lips. "And just when we thought things were finally going to be okay," she said.
"Tell me about it," Rose sniffed. "I don't want to stay over there. I'd rather just save his butt and come back. I just settled in here."
"You never know, with the knowledge you have when you create the spikes, perhaps you might find a way to communicate with everyone back here," the Doctor suggested. "The gaps in your memory won't last forever. Your mind is still growing, still adjusting. In time you'll learn how to tap into it when you want, rather than on instinct. And you'll be able to recall everything. To be frank, you're most likely to become a genius. You could easily find a way to communicate through the Void."
"You couldn't," she countered.
"I don't have the knowledge you will. You're working with the Time Vortex. You'll know more about it than I ever will. You'll find a way."
"Sure I will," she muttered.
"Oh, stop sulking, Rose Tyler," Jackie scolded.
"You are so!"
"Well, why is it my life that's always being turned upside down? Just when I finally have what I want, everything is taken away from me. It's not fair."
"I know sweetheart. But, perhaps it was supposed to happen like this. If there's one thing your travelling taught me, pretty much nothing is coincidence."