The Doctor thinks of Rose and Rose battles a formidable enemy.

He put his hands in the pockets of his long, flowing jacket. The sun was setting over New New York, golden light spilling over the city. The smell of apple grass wafted up to his sensitive nose. He sighed and lifted his hand out of the pocket to run it through his perfectly messy hair. She was out there, somewhere. Too far away for him to reach. Out there living a fantastic life.

He hoped.

This fight was not going well. She was tiring already and had only scored a few hits on the monstrosity raging away at her with fists of steel and few identifiable weak points.

From the outside it looked like a terribly uneven fight: a small blonde human and a gigantic figure of steel and rotting flesh that vaguely looked humanoid...humanoid gone terribly wrong.

She drew her fist back and let loose a wild punch at the creature's stomach. No good, she thought as the fist shattered against steel and he cackled in triumph. Reeling with new pain and down to one hand and fewer ideas, she delivered a left hook against the soft fleshy bit around his head. That connected with a satisfying thud and then she ducked at the retaliating blow.

Their bodies fell into an all-too familiar rhythm for her; attack, retreat; thrust, parry; cause pain, be pained.

She found her thoughts wandering as the fight progressed. It was times like this that she really missed Mickey. And Jake. They would have been here to help her. Jake would charge in with guns blazing and Mickey would be here with his brilliant gadgets and solid presence.

"Where was Torchwood now?" she thought.

Rose Tyler, defender of the Earth, stuck alone battling some sort of cyborg zombie in one of Torchwood's pathetic attempts at a mission base at the mouth of the Rift. At least the Rift in this universe was in the middle of London instead of Cardiff. No dying in a dungeon in Cardiff. She smiled at a faint memory of a beautiful dress, callused hands and a shared smile. Then she frowned. She would not think about him. It wouldn't do any good. It never did any good.

This Rift was much more impressive here... a deep, jagged wound in the Earth with energy crackling all around. Pete had been fascinated (and terrified) by it. When he had been the Director, he'd installed a full research facility and team working on observations here. But in the time since his death this place of knowledge and science had been unsuccessfully turned into a missions base and then been mostly abandoned to a few junior guards and a footnote. That was much like the rest of the Torchwood they had worked so hard to build.

Her body was on auto-pilot, alternating between defense and offense as her mind wandered. What had she been thinking about? Oh...right. Torchwood. That was a good question. Where was Torchwood? Surely they had picked up on the distress signal from their guards.

Her mind flickered to the unfortunate young men she had seen at the door, seeing their glassy eyes and the impossible angle of their broken necks. This alien (Caer, did he call himself?) hadn't exactly been being subtle. Nope, he had been the audacious type, broadcasting his plans to destroy the Earth, harness the Rift and do something to the Universe (Take it over? Destroy it? She couldn't remember) directly into their radios, taunting Torchwood. She sighed, mentally. Usually the audacious ones were stupid and easy to thwart.

They had fought their way through the lobby were nearing the Rift now, the battle becoming faster, more aggressive, more fierce and Rose turned her thoughts back to fighting. One handed, she was taking quite a beating. Her mind casually calculated injuries as they occured, working almost separate from her body, as if she were merely observing.

Pain in the chest, shortness of breath. Broken rib, possible punctured lung. Numbness and heaviness in the stomach. Internal bleeding? Sharp pain and blood pouring down her face. Broken nose. Shattered right hand. Multiple lacerations and too many bruises to calculate.

Keep going, keep fighting, droned her head. No Torchwood to stop him. Just her. Alone in this god-forsaken universe. Again.

They crashed through the thick glass barrier that separated the edge of the Rift from the rest of the building. Really? Glass? Who had that bright idea? It was probably some "un-shatterable-bullet-proof-bullshit" that Torchwood had put in. Apparently they hadn't counted on 300-pound cyborg zombies. Weeelll...who could blame them, really? Neither had she.

Her brain caught up with the events unfolding around her. Glass. Weapon! Rose tried to dart away from the slower, heavier being but she was moving slower now, too. Exhaustion and injury were taking their toll. His steel right foot careened out and connected to her left knee with a sickening crunch. She knew that crunch. It was similar to the one her hand had made a few, long bloody moments ago.

Her body fell to the left as the knee gave way and she felt the white-hot energy of the Rift near her back. He gave another triumphant bray and settled over her battered body to deliver his final blow, to break her neck with his bare hands, a triumphant, leering grin on his face. Rose had been counting on that, flashing again on the poor motionless men she had seen earlier.

As fast as she could, she drew a long, sharp shard of glass from beside her on the floor and, ignoring the blood pouring from her hand, thrust it forward into his neck. He was humanoid and it seemed to be a logical weak point. Unable to identify his species or planet, that was all she had.

She watched as it slid all the way through, coming out the back of his neck, his blood mingling on her shirt with her own. If he had a spinal cord, it was severed. Did he? She didn't know. That had been her Hail Mary. Now she could only wait and watch, sickened at her own actions yet again. He stumbled back, the leer turning into surprise, then fear and then anguish as a final shuddering breath left his strange body and crashed to the floor with a resounding clang.

Rose laid her head back on the floor, panting and trying to supress some of her own anguish and sort through her emotions. The pain she was feeling all over her broken body. The relief that the threat had passed. The guilt of yet another body added to her count, necessary as it had been. There was no joy, no satisfaction, no relish in a job "well done" only perhaps grim acknowledgment of the action.

She wanted to turn off her brain and sleep. Maybe forever. But something was nagging her, a needling thought at the back of her mind. She tried to push it away but it was persistent.


The word surfaced and she tried to examine it in the haze of her pain. Why did she need to think about Torchwood?

Oh...right. They weren't here. Bloody, incompetent idiots leaving the universe-saving to one girl and not even bothering to answer the distress call of their own. Why hadn't they come?

Then she felt minds crowding into her own. Not telepathic ones, human minds, relatively well-guarded, but she could feel them anyway. There were people swarming into the building. She probed one of the minds, felt him flinch and saw a picture form in her mind. Torchwood.

Adrenaline shot through her tired body and panic rose through her brain. No, no, no. Not now. How was she going to get away this time? She could barely move and that left knee wasn't going anywhere.

A trap. This had been a trap. Why swoop in and capture one alien threat when you could wait and get two? They had seen the signal after all, probably known he was coming and waited. Waited because they knew she would come, unable to resist the threat of a monster and the distress calls from under-trained, green young men.

She couldn't know for sure but she didn't think those men has willingly signed up for a suicide mission. Torchwood had signed off on their deaths...probably using words like "necessary" and "unfortunate". Words, words, meaningless, stupid words. Bile rose in her throat and bitter hatred for what Torchwood had become coursed through her body.

They would not take her. They could not take her. Not again. Never again. She pushed herself up with her left hand, clutching at the useless leg.

Assets, assets...any? No. No assets. Not even a banana. What? Her hazy mind pulled that memory Not him. Don't think about him. He's not coming to save you. No one is. She violently pushed the memory back into the locked box at the back of her mind.

The team was closing in. She could hear their thoughts getting closer until she could see them on the other side of the broken glass, cautiously approaching, all guns trained on her. The emotions pouring off them bombarded her mind...adrenaline, triumph, nerves, fear (internally, she smiled bitterly at that last one).

She scrambled backward, desperate to get farther from them, pushing with the good leg and hand. Her left hand felt loose rock and slipped over an edge into nothing. She felt white hot energy at her back.

The Rift! Turning her head slightly and wincing at the pain, she looked down into the palpable, swirling blue energy, the chasm deep and unforgiving.

It was stupid. It was suicide.

It was brilliant.

Death or Torchwood? Her hand unconsciously rose to finger near her collarbone. She chose death.

She pushed. Allons-y!

Who knows? Maybe this time it would stick.