Chapter one: Bad Wolf Bay
Rose stood on the soggy sand of Bad Wolf Bay in utter shock. Her mouth was slightly agape and her brow was furrowed. The TARDIS was disappearing before her very eyes and more than likely for the last time. She felt a hand take hers, squeezing her fingers gently. They glanced at each other, and then she stared at the empty space.
"He left me," she stuttered in disbelief. "He actually left me! I go from universe to universe to find him, and what does he do? He leaves me!"
It was at that moment Rose let go and folded her arms defensively. She couldn't see straight. Anger, pain, loss, and love were blinding her vision. To make it worse, the Doctor's double was looking at her in the same way the real Doctor would. His dark eyes were swirling, but he remained stoic.
"But, don't you see why?" the double asked desperately. "It was because—"
"You wouldn't know," she scoffed.
He cleared his throat. "Actually, I think I would. He's me and I'm him. If anybody knows what the Doctor thinks or feels, it's the Doctor."
"You are not the Doctor."
His heart sunk. He thought about it for a moment and felt his chest. Just one heart. How did humans manage it? "The meta-crisis did change me. I'm half human. And, by the way, I have a bit of Donna Noble in me. Not sure how that's going to manifest. She's brilliant, my best mate, but she can be…loud…as you know. Oi! Oi! Oi! All the time. Watch it spaceman, oi! She's something else, that Donna! First time we met, right after…" he paused, his grin fading at the bored look on Rose's face. "What I'm trying to say is that other than those things, I am the same man. Look, same smashing face. Same sultry voice. Same extraordinary ego. Same memories, other than after I was…well…created. My body may be human, but my mind is still Time Lord. Well, I'd say ninety-five percent Time Lord, five percent Donna. Or some other ratio that leaves a majority to being the Doctor. That's me, anyway! Same, rambling Doctor."
"The Doctor said you were dangerous. The man I know wouldn't have killed all of those Daleks."
They were facing each other, arms folded, and completely irritated by one another. "He only said that I was dangerous for two reasons. One, I'm human and humans can be unpredictable. Two, it's an excuse to leave me here. As for the Daleks, I had to! They would have kept terrorizing the universe! It isn't like I haven't killed before."
"But only if that was a last resort! We won. They were disabled and the weapon was destroyed. But no, that wasn't enough for you. You went and killed them."
"They'd have come back, Rose. A new weapon, more Daleks."
"And you'd have stopped them again!" she paused, back peddling. "The Doctor would have. He always manages to show up when he's needed."
He smiled smugly. "You called me the Doctor."
"I didn't mean it."
"And you snogged me earlier."
"I was caught up in what you said. It sounded like him."
"It was him. What did I say?"
She looked away. "No."
"C'mon then. Out with it."
"I said no."
He leaned in with a goofy grin. "Rose. Say it."
"Cut it out!"
Jackie had been waiting nearby for the ruckus to end. Besides, it wasn't like they had a way of getting back. She did send a text to Pete, letting him know they were alive and at the bay. But, it'd be a long, long time before he got to Norway. Deciding to jump in, she stepped closer. "I would like to know."
"Jackie, bless!" the double laughed.
Rose, entirely defeated by the two waiting stares, managed to repeat the words. "I love you."
Jackie initially smiled and then wacked the double's arm. "You think you're good enough for my daughter, Doctor number two?"
"I know I'm not. But, then again, I don't think anybody is."
Jackie made an aw sound and Rose felt herself blushing. She kept telling herself that this man wasn't her Doctor. Her Doctor was off on adventures and deserted her. Yet, the bloke before her was gazing into her eyes with a serious expression. Her heart fluttered.
"I tell you what," she began slowly. "I'm going to ask you a few questions about our past. Things only the real Doctor would know. And it isn't like there's much else to do," she pointed out, sweeping the barren beach with her eyes.
Jackie wanted to overhear, but they both watched her until she held up her hands and pointed to the rocks. "I'll just be waiting over here then. Dad's on the way with the jeep. Told him to meet us here, or if we make it to a town."
She went away and left them to it.
"Okay. Back when we first met, you were going to take me to Naples in the 1800s. Do you remember what you said to me when we landed?"
He nodded. "I called you beautiful. Considering that you're human."
She hesitated, surprised by how easily he remembered. "When you changed into this Doctor, I said that I heard a song—"
"And I told you that I sang a song and Daleks ran away. And then I told you to imagine me with two heads or no head. And then I told you that you were fantastic. And so was I. Let's see, there was Christmas. You whispered in my ear. Woke me up. Asked for my help. There was New New New New New—and so on—New York. We laid on my coat in the apple-grass. You said I was so different and we talked about our first date. We had chips. And there was the time that we found ourselves in Scotland. Saw werewolves and you bet ten quid you could get Queen Victoria to say that she wasn't amused. She did. Still haven't paid you back, have I? Think, what else…ah! Arthur the horse on a spaceship. Scared you to death on that scooter in the fifties. Talked about mortgages and carpets on an impossible planet. Edible ball bearings. Ghostbusters. Then, there was Torchwood. You were lost, but I could feel you through the wall. Through the Void. You came back when the stars were going out. I ran to you, but we both know how that went. You held me and I said long time no see. Last thing I remember before I was…you know…is you holding my hand. I thought the TARDIS was lost. That's when I woke up. Naked, actually. Came to save the universe. To save you. And the only reason the other Doctor left us here is to give us a chance. The one we never had before. And you know what? It's always been you, Rose. Even after all this time."
She felt the sting of tears in her eyes. "Always been me? Nobody else took my place?"
"Of course not," he laughed. "I know that I keep changing on you; regenerations, different faces, different personalities, and now this. But one thing hasn't changed."
"And that is?" she sniffed.
"I told you earlier."
Her eyes lit up and she forgot herself, tossing her arms around his neck. He held onto her tightly, inhaling the sugary sent of her hair. His lips found her temple and she pulled away, wiping the runny mascara. "All right. So. This is just. Another change. You. Part human. No TARDIS. But still you. And you wanna make a go of it…with me?"
"You bet I do. Do you?"
She thought for a moment. If there could be multiple versions of people in other universes, such as her dad, then there could be two Doctors. That didn't make the one holding her in his arms any less real. So, without hesitation, she grabbed him by the shirt and kissed him again. In the distance, Jackie started clapping and shouted, "You best take care of her! I've got money in this world, and I can take you right out of it!"
They pulled apart laughing. "Shut up, Mum!" Rose giggled. "You're embarrassing me!"
"Well, you might have to put up with her for awhile…" the double murmured. "How are we supposed to get off this beach?"
They looked around and sighed. It was a long way from London to Bad Wolf Bay. A long, long way…