A/N – It's been fun getting back into this story! I might go back and re-edit some old chapters at some point, but I'll let you guys know if I do that! For the time being, though, just enjoy this chapter! Rose needs to have an important talk with… herself!
"Okay, start talkin'! You said my body is changing, which I'm guessing is this long life span I've got for some reason, but you're also saying I've also got a bond with the TARDIS somehow?"
Rose's fingers dug into her hair, nails scraping lightly across her scalp as she stared at her doppelganger, (Bad Wolf, Rose realised with a sudden start)who was observing her with what seemed to be a hint of sympathy in her eyes.
"I know I looked into th' heart of the TARDIS, and I can kinda remember some of the things I did, like destroyin' the emperor of the Dalek's and sending the words Bad Wolf through time, but… everythin' else feels forbidden to remember, like it's just beyond reach to me." Rose huffed a soft, frustrated sigh at her own inability to remember. After waking up on the TARDIS, she hadn't remembered anything except singing and a golden light, but… in time, some of her memories had returned.
When he took the time vortex from you, The Doctor sealed the memories of all you learned away in your mind. It wasn't safe for you to see all you had seen; it would burn you up cell by cell, as it did him.
"What d'you mean, as it did him? How could it have...?" Rose trailed off, her eyes widening in sudden realisation. When The Doctor had been regenerating, he'd mentioned the time vortex, but she hadn't given it much thought, too worried about his well-being to dwell on it for long.
'I absorbed all the energy of the time vortex, and no-one's meant to do that. Every cell in my body's dying.'
"I did it." The shock of her epiphany hit her hard, and she sank to her knees, eyes still wide in disbelief. "I killed him." Regardless of the form he took, Rose knew she would love him, but knowing she'd been the reason he'd had to die was not easy to swallow. Tears welled up instantly, and she buried her face into her hands.
For you, he would do it all again. He did not regret it and will never regret it.
Feeling a hand ghost over the top of her head, Rose looked up, blinking through her tears to see her doppelganger had crouched beside her, her fingers threading through her blonde strands the way Jackie would whenever Rose needed comforting. The familiar gesture had a calming effect upon her, and Rose sniffed, rubbing at her eyes to brush the last of her tears away.
"If… If holding the vortex for only a few minutes killed him, why didn't it kill me? I had it for longer." She pointed out, and Bad Wolf remained silent, though she slowly bent down before Rose. Her fingers reached up to press lightly against her temples, as The Doctor often would when trying to enter someone's mind, and her golden eyes burned into Rose's own.
It's time to remember what we did, Rose.
Slowly, Rose closed her eyes, feeling a presence at the edge of her mind and a song, a song so familiar and so soothing that it left her completely at ease as the memories of the heart of the TARDIS washed over her.
"Rose, you've got to stop this! You've got to stop this now!" The Doctor's voice rang with panic, concerned for her safety, though Bad Wolf couldn't yet tear her eyes from the Dalek Emperor upon the screen, the one who sought to destroy The Doctor. Her Doctor. "You've got the entire vortex running through your head! You're gonna burn!"
The Doctor's desperation finally drew golden eyes to fixate upon him, and Bad Wolf could see everything, all he had suffered, all he would come to suffer in the future and everything in between. A tear slipped down her cheek as she spoke. "I want you safe, my Doctor; protected from the false god."
His face fell, and her words seemed to strike a chord with the Emperor, his furious words ringing out from the screen before them.
"You cannot hurt me, I am immortal!"
"You are tiny." Bad Wolf's retort was curt and sharp, no longer wishing to waste a moment upon one who had threatened her Doctor. "I can see the whole of time and space; every single atom of your existence, and I divide them." Raising her hand, Bad Wolf focused upon the Dalek before her, focusing on disintegrating it into dust. Simple cellular breakdown – it was too easy. They could not fight against a being who could control creation and destruction.
Stretching out her arms, Bad Wolf continued to reach out with her mind, able to see every Dalek within the fleet and everything that held them together, and as she tore them apart, ignoring the screams of fury from the Emperor, she stared blankly ahead, the knowledge of all of their terrible deeds running through her mind.
"Everything must come to dust. All things. Everything dies. The Time War ends." Did it? She could see so many possibilities, and the Daleks always seemed to return, but she had to offer The Doctor this hope. Hope would carry him through.
The Doctor held out a hand towards her, knowing she wouldn't be able to cling onto this power for long before it overwhelmed her completely. "Rose, you've done it, now stop! Just let go!" Bad Wolf lowered her arms slowly, gaze returning to the one she loved, the one her Rose loved. Let go? Why? She had the power to protect him, to ensure his safety.
"How can I let go of this? I bring life." A thread of a timeline cut too short appeared within her mind, and though she didn't fully recognise why, she ached. Her mind reached out, gripping the timeline and restoring it, stretching it onwards to never end to never cease. She could see her own timeline, too, all the possibilities of her life before her, and she gripped it, repeating the process, though it began to glow gold. Seeking out another thread of life, Bad Wolf grasped it, intertwining the life force of Rose Tyler and the TARDIS together.
She knew interfering with her own timeline was wrong, but Rose had promised – would promise to give The Doctor Forever.
Now she truly could.
"This is wrong! You can't control life and death!" The Doctor's words broke her from her actions, and she looked down at him once more, satisfied in the knowledge she would give him companionship for as long as he would need it.
"But I can." She had, and it was as it was meant to be. However, there was a continuous burning sensation within her mind, threatening to tear her apart. "The sun and the moon, the day and night… but why do they hurt?"
"The power's going to kill you and it's my fault!" The Doctor looked down, grief and guilt threatening to tear him apart, but he didn't understand. Rose had chosen this, Bad Wolf was always meant to be.
"I can see everything." All the terrible and wonderful things in the universe were stretched before her, threatening to overwhelm her. "All that is, all that was, all that ever could be." She could see her own timeline stretching before her, so close to The Doctor's own they almost touched, but were drawn apart suddenly, and she knew, it was necessary. Their timelines would meet again, but there was something Rose had to do while they were apart.
The Doctor pushed himself to stand, staring at Rose with a storm of emotion raging behind his eyes. Finally someone could see the universe the way he did, but he hadn't wanted it to end like this. He could take the Vortex from her, but he knew what it would do to his own body. Saving Rose Tyler, however, was worth it. He just needed to get through to her.
"That's what I see, all the time! - and doesn't it drive you mad?" His words struck a chord within the Bad Wolf, and she knew it was time to let go. She had done all she could.
"My head is killing me." Rose's voice broke out, more tears sliding down her cheeks as the pain continued to grow, her limbs trembling from the strain of holding onto the vortex. Her skin was on fire, every cell in her body screaming for relief, though the pounding in her head was so intense it drowned out all else.
The Doctor's touch upon her arms grounded her, helping her to not lose herself within the torrent of pain echoing within her brain, and he smiled down at her as the memory began to grow hazy and faint.
"Come here; I think you need a Doctor."
The memory faded entirely, and Rose's eyes opened up wide, seeing Bad Wolf's own face merely inches from her own. The close proximity caused her to let out a yelp, and she fell backwards, landing on her backside, though Bad Wolf didn't flinch.
"I - I made myself…" Rose stared down at her hands, her mouth falling open. Her head ached from accessing forbidden memories, and there was a burning sensation brimming behind her eyes, but it was dimming by the second. "What did you do to me?" It was something to do with her timeline, the length of her life… and the TARDIS. She could remember bits and pieces, but nothing about the finite details, she supposed those were the truly forbidden memories.
You looked into the TARDIS and the TARDIS looked into you. You absorbed the power of time itself and created me. I saw all there is to know and all that will come to pass. To keep our Doctor happy, to save him, I combined our life force with the TARDIS. The bond was struck.
"Save him? Save him from what? What's gonna happen?" Rose asked sharply, her mind whirling at the influx of new information. She'd work through this, she just needed to take it one step at a time. The safety of The Doctor seemed to rank higher in Rose's mind than the changes to her own lifespan, and Bad Wolf seemed to smile faintly at the implication.
The Doctor should not be alone.
Rose inhaled softly, her eyes widening slowly at her words. They were eerily familiar to her own words when she'd spoken to Martha in her apartment, and suddenly, she understood. When she opened the Heart of the TARDIS, she'd become Bad Wolf, and to save The Doctor from both the Daleks and the curse of being alone, she'd meddled in her own Timeline.
"I can't die?" Rose's words were a whisper, mouth feeling dry all of a sudden, but Bad Wolf simply shook her head in response.
No, it is possible for us to die, but we will no longer age, for as long as the TARDIS lives, so shall we.
Rose considered that, her eyebrows furrowing together in thought. So, she wasn't immortal, her life span just… didn't have any natural end? Her fingers grasped the strands of her hair, twirling the hay coloured threads slowly. This was… It was completely ridiculous, but yet, there were parts of it that DID make sense.
"When I was on the TARDIS, I could sort of… understand her a bit." Rose mused quietly, biting at her bottom lip. "Nothin' major, just, I could sort of tell what her hums meant, and her song would come into my head sometimes. I never told Th' Doctor. I don't know why, I think I jus' figured it was 'cause she was telepathic, but is this the real reason why?"
Bad Wolf nodded in response, and the sound of the TARDIS' song seemed to echo around them, bringing further tears to Rose's eyes. The song had always soothed her; it had brought her peace and knowing she could hear it because of her unique connection with the time ship left a small lump in her throat.
"Alright, so, I'm not gonna get older," Rose repeated to herself, fingers gripping the leather of her jacket, trying to swallow that information as best as she could. She was glad, of course, that now she'd be able to keep her promise of forever, but it still wouldn't be easy for her to accept right away. "Is there anythin' else I need to know?"
That is a mystery I will leave for you and The Doctor to discover.
There was a glint of mischief in Bad Wolf's eyes, and Rose let out a sound of frustration. This wasn't a joke, this was her life! It had been changed forever during a moment she couldn't even remember properly, and Rose pressed the palms of her hands to her eyes, sucking in a deep breath. How was she supposed to tell this to The Doctor? He'd just… blame himself for her being unable to age, she knew he would.
Still, she couldn't hide this from him. He believed he'd lose all of his companions eventually, but now she'd live as long as the TARDIS did, providing nothing got in the way. He didn't need to be alone, and she wouldn't have to leave him ever again. The thought caused warmth to bloom into her chest, and despite the turmoil in her brain, she smiled.
"What happens now?" She asked quietly, slowly lowering her hands, and Bad Wolf became serious once more, expression darkening. "I mean this is obviously a dream, right? So do I jus' need to…" Rose trailed off, recalling suddenly WHY she was asleep in the first place, and she inhaled sharply. "What did they do to me?"
The toxins within our body have thrown us into an endless sleep from which we should not be able to wake. Our Doctor is working fiercely to discover a cure, but he will not find it.
"What?! Why not? What's the point of me making myself live forever if I'm just gonna sleep for all eternity?!" Rose stood up abruptly, her hands curling into fists. This couldn't be happening – how the hell could she promise The Doctor forever, find a way to give it him and then mess up so badly?
"This is all my fault." The words were whispered with resignation, her shoulders slowly slumping in defeat. "I didn't tell The Doctor I was goin' off with my team so I could prove I could handle myself without him, but I put myself and my team in danger, I didn't even do my regular checks! I'm s'posed to be better than this!" But when it came to The Doctor, Rose knew, she was just as young and reckless as she always had been.
Bad Wolf observed Rose's despair, and slowly reached out, lifting her clenched fists to smooth out the tension within her fingers, expression passive as the words left her form.
Our body is fixing itself within the inside. Though we can die, our body has an impressive ability to heal itself at a much faster rate. Haven't you noticed?
Rose looked at Bad Wolf, understanding washing over her in an instant. She was right, she had been healing quite quickly; even before she'd been trapped in Pete's world, she only just NOW noticed. When she'd been in the hospital when Jackie had been pregnant, it had only taken her a week to be back on full form, though the medics had insisted she rested longer, to be safe.
"I never really thought about it, but yeah, is that somethin' that comes with the long life?" She asked, nibbling nervously at her bottom lip, only to frown when Bad Wolf didn't respond. "Right, fine, don't tell me then. Just… How long is it gonna take to wake up?"
Who can say? Hours, Days, Weeks, Months, perhaps? Only one thing is certain, Rose Tyler, The Doctor needs you, so you must wake up.
Determination clouded Rose's face in response, and she nodded, moving to sit down, her legs crossed. Bad Wolf mirrored her action, sensing there was more that Rose wished to know and understand, and patiently, she waited, allowing Rose to collect her thoughts.
"Am I still human?" She asked suddenly, her fingers winding together, uncertainty and confusion evident in her eyes. "I mean, since I heal faster now and I'm not gettin' older, am I still… y'know?"
The Doctor would use the term Human Plus. You are human at your core, the ones who birthed you are human, and that cannot change.
Silence stretched between the two of them for a while, but Bad Wolf remained patient, allowing Rose to mull over all the information that had been thrust onto her in such a short span of time. Time – she thought the word in some amusement, pressing the tip of her fingertips together as Rose continued to gnaw lightly on her bottom lip.
"You said the walls of the universe were weakening." Rose's words escaped her in a rush, and the eyes of the two women met, one pair concerned, the other serious. "I figured they weren't as strong as they used to be, judging from what Ollie told me about… everythin' regarding the cannon, but the way you're saying it, it doesn't sound good."
Something is coming. No, it will be coming, not yet, but soon. Everything will change, Rose Tyler, and you must be ready. There will be forces at play trying to tear you apart, you will face many trials and suffer much heartache before you can live in peace.
Looking down at her hands, Rose frowned, considering everything she was saying – she was no stranger to heartache and loss, but she knew she could keep moving forward and continue onward in spite of that pain. Being apart from The Doctor had shown her independence, and if she needed to suffer more before the end, then so be it. Rose Tyler didn't back down.
Does this change your decision to remain with The Doctor?
Rose finally smiled, the glint of a challenge shining within her eyes.
"Not a bloody chance."