"What the hell have you done?!" the Doctor's voice thundered into Dr Ackmund's office. His brown jacket flowed up behind him as he power walked towards the suddenly scared alien therapist, "Where is Rose? Where is she?!" he scanned Dr Ackmund's office and saw she was nowhere to be found.
"The technicians are trying to calm her down, she's quite worked up," Dr Ackmund suddenly jumped up from his chair and raised his hands in a surrender-like motion, "Doctor, I'm so sorry, I don't know entirely what happened—"
"It's all my fault," the Doctor ran his hand through his brown messy hair, "I shouldn't have lied to her, I shouldn't have made up the stupid distress signal story! I just should have told her the truth! It's all my fault, she pulled the Regressor off mid way because she thought she was going to reveal my secrets!" his foot shot out in anger and he kicked the end of the sofa.
"Doctor, you acted as any concerned friend would," Dr Ackmund said quietly after a moment of silence, "Your friend Rose has been suffering from nightmares, ever since your encounter with the Beast, yes?" he saw the Doctor nod and continue, "Then all you were doing is nudging her in the right direction, trying to help her. You shouldn't feel badly Doctor."
The Doctor shook his head, "No, I should have just talked to her, I should have told her the whole reason we were here was for her, and that it was fine to regress into memories that contained information about me."
"She wouldn't have come, Doctor," Dr Ackmund said sadly, "You know it yourself, a person as strong as Rose wouldn't have held her hands up and admitted to having a problem… From the brief outlook of her memories, it seems like you two never stop running, never looking back… She was acting like you."
There was a brief pause and then the Doctor's tired eyes glanced back up, "From the DNA coding bracelet I gave her, I was able to watch her memories as well and stop you from seeing any of her intimate moments, like she asked and the last memory she saw was from 6 months ago, when I took her home to see her mother and her friend… Is that where she is? She's still Rose, isn't she? She's just lost a couple of months, right? She's still the Rose who remembers me changing, at Christmas?" when he saw Dr Ackmund's face his hearts sank a little, "How far back has she regressed?".
"Rose has reverted back into her seventeen year old self" Dr Ackmund sighed deeply, "She's still in high school, going out with a twenty-two year old called Mickey Smith. As far as I can tell, Mickey's grandmother has just died and Rose has just met a new friend called Jimmy Stone, through her best friend Shareen Costello. That's where she is in her life, she thinks she's been kidnapped and we're holding her here against her will."
The Doctor almost lost his footing. His let out a deep breath, "Four years? How could she forget four years of her life? She won't know who I am, she won't remember…" he shook his head in a daze and asked, "There must be a reversal process, you must be able to fix this!"
"We're trying Doctor," Dr Ackmund replied with a heavy sigh, "But it's a lot harder than it sounds, the brain is so delicate, especially a human one and until we receive the right kind of Medofolic brain waves to de-sensitise her brain scan we won't be able to reverse it."
"Well find the right kind of Medofolic brain waves!" the Doctor barked, "They're easy enough to find, go to the nearest black market and trade your Pey's for them."
"The planet Harmony can't be involved with any black market dealings Doctor, you know this, we're a place of healing," Dr Ackmund shook his head, "The next shipment is due in within a matter of days. For now, I suggest we sedate Rose until the shipment comes through. Once we fix her memory, I'm sure this will be something you will both look back on and laugh at."
"No," the Doctor growled, "You will not be sedating Rose of any kind. She must be terrified out of her mind and you want to go and drug her? Absolutely not. I'll explain everything, I'll tell her this is all my fault."
"Doctor, physically she's twenty-one but mentally, she's seventeen," Dr Ackmund shook his head softly, "I know you are uncomfortable with this but my advice is to sedate her, she won't have to panic—"
"You will show me my Rose Tyler right now or I will shut you down," the Doctor said through gritted teeth. He watched as Dr Ackmund strode over to the other end of his office and opened his door. Quickly and silently, the Doctor strode after him and walked through the door into the room of Regressor cubicles. Tied to a chair, sitting in the middle of the room, was Rose. Dry tears were still visible on her cheeks and she had never looked so terrified and yet so bold at the same time.
"Who the hell tied her to this chair?" the Doctor demanded, striding forwards.
"She was trying to attack my staff, she was going to hurt herself, what else would you have had me do?" Dr Ackmund replied steadily.
Rose swallowed the lump in her throat. This new stranger, this tall, skinny man with the long brown coat and the pin striped suit was standing behind her and suddenly she was scared all over again. What the hell was going on?
"That'll be enough of that," the Doctor bent down behind Rose's back and began to untie her bounds. With every heavy sigh he produced she realised she was closer and closer to freedom. With one knot left the Doctor stopped and walked round to face Rose, who leaned away from his presence.
"I'm the Doctor," he whispered painfully, trying to hide the hurt in his eyes at the vacant expression on her face, "You're Rose Tyler, correct?"
"How do you know my name? Why are you holding me here?" Rose asked with wide eyes and frowning eyebrows, "If you're a Doctor does that make this place a hospital? What am I doing here? I'm not sick."
"What's the last thing you remember?" the Doctor stopped himself from reaching out and touching her cheek with his palm.
"Raindrops," Rose gasped, "Raindrops, on my bus window on the way home. It was a Tuesday and after school, Mickey picked me up and we went to see that new Jennifer Aniston film and then he kissed me, for the first time. And then I got on a bus home and watched the raindrops fall down on the window, like I always do because it's always raining," a few spare tears fell from her eyes, "And then I was here."
"I am so, so, sorry Rose Tyler," the Doctor said sadly, "This is all my fault."
"What's all your fault? What the hell is going on? Why can't I remember being kidnapped?!" Rose suddenly burst with anger, "Did you drug me with some kind of memory-erasing drug?! How long have I been here for?! Where am I?"
"I'm an alien, a Time Lord," the Doctor answered her suddenly, "I met you when you were nineteen years old and I took your hand and I said 'run' and we haven't stopped running you and I… We've been running for two years, you and me together, travelling all of time and space, saving civilizations and defeating villainous creatures, being chased by Demonic Ood and Satan himself and hell, we even met Queen Victoria, she loved you, well… I say loved I mean—"
"Help!" Rose suddenly screamed, struggling in her chair to get away from this madman in front of her, "Help me! Please help me! Please! I'm too young to die!" She watched with frightful eyes as the Doctor slowly backed away from her and the technicians rushed over to tighten the rope.
"Rose, I know this is hard to accept but what I'm telling you is reality" the Doctor said in vain, "We came here, under false pretences and something went wrong with the machine. This is really happening—"
"Let me out of this chair and I'll show you what's really happening!" Rose barked at him.
"Doctor, this is getting us nowhere," Dr Ackmund stepped forwards, "Perhaps—"
"I'm taking her to the TARDIS," the Doctor interrupted him, "You can let me know via psychic paper when the Medofolic brain wave shipment arrives."
"As you wish," Dr Ackmund nodded, "Someone get Miss Tyler a straight jacket please."
"What?" Rose's head snapped up with shock, "No! No straight jacket! What the hell is going on? You're sick people, all of you, sick!"
"The straight jacket won't be necessary," the Doctor stepped forwards, feeling a stab of pain when Rose tried to back away in the chair at the sight of him coming forward, "Rose."
"Stop saying my name like you know me." Rose said harshly.
"Just think happy thoughts and breathe," the Doctor reached out and placed his fingertips upon her temples. A moment later, her eyes fluttered shut and her body went still, "You sleep Rose," he murmured, "Just sleep."
Rose jerked awake violently. She glanced around and saw that she was in someone's bed! A girl's bed, by the looks of it. She made sure her clothing was all still in place before she jumped out and headed for the door. That's when everything normal ended. The second she left that average bedroom she was confronted with several winding corridors and steps and golden interior that looked nothing short of futuristic. She looked left and right, trying to get her breathing under control.
Whoever had kidnapped her had clearly drugged her again and moved her, here. Now all she had to do was find the exit door. Before, she was in a white-hospital themed place… with a thin man who called himself an alien and now where was she? This golden themed place looked nothing like the previous room she was in. What the hell was going on? Rose crept on forwards, down a row of steps and around another corner. God, how many corners where there in here?
All she had to do was either find an exit or find a phone. Preferably both. She stumbled down a few more steps and stopped short when she saw what was around the next corner. In the middle of the room was a circular console and a tube leading down the middle. And there he was, standing in his long brown coat and pin stripe suit, staring at her with the most unreadable eyes. Rose gulped. She was almost about to turn back and run the other way when out of the corner of her eye she spotted two narrow doors.
The way out. Chancing everything, Rose ran down the ramp, skidded past the railing and threw herself at the doors, yanking at the handles. They didn't budge. Her heartbeat began to pound over time when she turned around and saw the thin man, just staring at her, like he knew her. Rose pressed her back against the doors and told herself not to cry. She wasn't going to show weakness to her captor.
"You're wasting your time with me." Rose found the deep bravery in the pit of her stomach. The man — who claimed himself an alien called the Doctor — smiled ever so slightly and went to sit down on one of the old tattered couches, "I mean it," her voice strengthened, "I won't fall in love with you over time, like Stockholm Syndrome, or whatever creepy shit you're into, I already love Mickey Smith, my boyfriend, and he loves me back."
The Doctor said nothing.
"And if this is some weird virgin sacrifice thing, well, think again," Rose tried to yank the doors open again to no avail, "Because I'm not one so, you can't use me, I'm impure, I hardly think your Satan god or whatever would like that."
"Rose, if you must lie through your bare teeth, try come up with something a little more plausible," the Doctor replied with a humourless smile, "Rose Tyler, seventeen years old, going out with Mickey Smith. Just recently met Jimmy Stone. That's who you lose your virginity to."
"Oh my god, you're a stalker as well as a creep!" Rose cried.
"I didn't know the two were mutually exclusive," the Doctor muttered under his breath. Then he glanced up, "Rose, I'm not lying when I say I know you, we travel together and have done for two years… You've just lost your memory, four years of it to be exact. You call me the Doctor."
Rose shook her head and placed her hands on her hips, "You're telling me I willingly travel with you; a supposed alien, through time and space?"
The man nodded.
"Where's your spaceship then space man?" Rose snapped.
"We're in it," he gestured around.
Rose froze and looked down to her feet and then back to the strange man, "Why are you called the Doctor? What's your name?"
"Don't have one, it's just the Doctor," the Doctor replied.
"I can't believe I'm dealing with an arrogant self titled psychopath!" Rose cried suddenly, "I really know how to pick them," she shook her head, "I must have got off the bus and you kidnapped me while I walking from the bus stop to my flat… What did you use then Doctor, chloroform?"
"I'm so glad I didn't meet you until you were nineteen," the Doctor muttered.
Rose let out a deep heart wrenching sigh and she swallowed the dry lump in her throat, "Look, whoever you are, Doctor… Please let me go, I have a mother who can't function without me and a boyfriend who adores me… Please, just let me go."
"Rose, I couldn't take you back to the timeline that you're in, even I wanted to, because your real seventeen year old self is there, where she should be. You're the twenty one year old manifestation of Rose Tyler, if you two were to ever meet or touch, it would cause a paradox and rip apart the foundation of time," the Doctor shook his head, "God, I know this is hard, but you're where you should be, I promise."
"Do you not hear yourself?" Rose screamed at him across the distance, "You're insane, whoever you are! This is crazy talk! You're not an alien! I'm not twenty one! And this is not a spaceship! This is probably the basement of a very suburban home where you live with your wife and kids only they don't know that you go around kidnapping teenage girls!"
"Now you're the crazy one," the Doctor replied, "I would never get a suburban house."
Rose screamed in frustration and grasped her head with both hands, "If you don't let me out, I will find something very sharp and stab you to death! I don't care if it's murder, you're holding me here against my will!"
The Doctor let out a deep sigh and stood up slowly, "Okay… Okay… Let me show you something, let me prove that I'm telling the truth, will you let me do that? Please?"
"Rose," the Doctor whispered, "Where can I take you that's worse than this?"
"You get one chance to prove you're telling the truth," Rose said suddenly, "And if you can't then I want to go home, okay?" she waited, "Okay, Doctor?"
The Doctor nodded, "Okay. Follow me."
The Doctor was at the other end of the room he'd shown Rose to before she would step in after him. It looked a bit like a library or an office, she couldn't really tell the difference. She slowly crept inside the room, scanning around for anything that looked more out of place than the strange prison she was already in. Once she saw nothing that seemed out of place she stepped wholly inside the room and looked to the Doctor expectedly.
"Well?" Rose glanced around the library, "Show me the proof."
The Doctor walked over to one of the book shelves and picked out a photo album, designed in the shape of a 1960's blue police box. The detail in the front and back of the album almost made her smile. The curves and dips of the police box and the window were like padded blue fabric and it looked old, so, so, old. The Doctor held it out to her and she reached out cautiously to take it from him. Glancing up to his position where he stood she made sure he wasn't going to take a step towards her when she slowly opened the album up.
He watched her, like a hawk as her eyes fell down on the first page. It was a picture of herself, an older version, holding hands with a tall, well built man in a black leather jacket. Her mouth fell open with shock. She didn't remember taking any such photo! How could he possibly make this true? Was it Photoshopped? "Who is this?" Rose gasped, shaking her head in disbelief.
"That's me," the Doctor answered honestly, slotting his hands into his pockets, "As an alien, I have a way of cheating death. When I'm about to die, my body begins to regenerate, I literally change into a new body, a new man, a new personality, but my mind, my soul, my essence, my thoughts… they stay the same."
Rose was speechless.
"See for yourself," the Doctor added.
Rose, having nothing else to say, turned back to the album and turned the page. On the back of the first page was another photo, of herself and of the black leather jacket man again. This time she was dressed in old Victorian dressing. On the opposite page was another photo of herself and the black leather jacket man, this time they were in the place she recognised the large circular console to be, dancing. She flipped through the book, losing all rational thought and breath.
A photo of herself and the leather jacket man in a church, a photo of herself and the leather jacket man walking arm in arm, a photo of herself and the leather jacket man outside a blue 1960's police box, a photo of herself and the leather jacket man in her own flat with Jackie and Mickey. She nearly dropped the album completely when she suddenly noticed the change of pace in photos. The next multiple pages of photos included herself and the tall skinny man before her, the one called the Doctor.
Most of these photos included them smiling at each other, holding hands, running through windy hills, joking with each other. Then she came across one that almost made her gasp. Before her, was a photo of herself, pulling the skinny Doctor down in for a kiss. Rose looked back up to the Doctor with tear soaked eyes, confusion written all across her face. Could these photos be true? Could he really be an alien and she his willing travelling companion? Could they really be on an alien planet, waiting for something important so she could get her memory back? Or was this just a cruel trick?
"Please be careful with that," the Doctor noticed her sudden tight grip on the album. He reached his hand back out for it and she gave it back, her hand shaking all the way. The Doctor stared down at the current photo it was open at with a slight smile, "This is an enchanted book, you know," he closed it over and let his fingertips run over the front, "It's from my home planet, it psychically links to the owner's memory and implants any photos the owner finds important. There must be a hundred photos of you in here."
"I look old," Rose couldn't help but whisper.
"You look beautiful" the Doctor couldn't help but scorn her. He walked back over to the book shelf and slid the album back into place. He hesitated, "When you get your memory back, you're going to kill me for this but…" he bent down on his knees, pulled up a part of carpet flooring and plunged his hand inside the hole under the carpet, pulling up a small black diary, "This is where my Rose—where you hide your diary," he held it out for her.
Rose took it from his hand and opened the diary, dying to see the ink on the paper. She opened her mouth in a silent gasp, "That's my handwriting."
"It is," the Doctor nodded, "I swear I've never read it, I just happen to notice things, it's a gift, a curse actually," he took a step towards her and she stepped back instinctively, "I'll let you read in private," his eyes avoided hers as he swept past her and left the library. Rose let out a gasp as he went, reaching out to lean against the nearest book shelf.
After a moment of quiet, Rose walked to the back of the book shelf and slid down onto the floor, opening the diary. She turned to the first page and read her own handwriting, the words she couldn't even remember writing.
The Doctor bought me this diary so I can write down my memories here, so I never forget them. I hope he doesn't doubt taking me with him, it's amazing here. He's amazing here. The spark with Mickey is gone and all the feelings inside my heart are reserved for someone else now. The Doctor. A Time Lord. An alien. And still, I can't break Mickey's heart and leave him. I did that once, with Jimmy Stone and look how that turned out. I almost crushed his soul, yet my own soul is being crushed as well. Every time he takes my hand and says "Run" I just melt away inside. He's ignited something in me and I don't know what it is, or how to stop it. I don't think I want to stop it.
Rose, with wide eyes, flipped on a few pages.
He hugged me tightly when we realised we'd survived the bomb. I could feel every inch of the 903 year old alien against me and I loved it. God, he makes my heart thud so erratically it may burst from my chest at any moment. Does he realise what his touch does to me? Does he even know what fantasies invade my mind? Is he even sexual at all?
Rose's fingers skipped ahead.
I am Bad Wolf. I create myself. I am Bad Wolf and he is a mighty God. That's all I could hear going through my mind before the heart of the TARDIS opened. Then… nothing. I can't remember anything, all the Doctor told me is that I am Bad Wolf and I absorbed the Time Vortex and no human in supposed to do that. Yet I didn't burn, not yet. So I caused the Doctor's death, his next generation. He absorbed the Time Vortex and it killed him. I killed him. It's so odd, getting used to him, his new voice, his new face, his new hand… He's so different.
Rose let out a deep breath and continued on a few pages.
Cassandra knew what I wanted and she acted on the very thought I was scared of. I knew everything, I felt the kiss as much as he did or she did but he… Of course he acts like it never happened and maybe that's the way it should be. After all, a human and a Time Lord? Is it physically possible? In my dreams it is. But he didn't address it. He just took my hand, hugged me and held me close, like always. For a telepathic race he is so intimate with me… sometimes I wonder if… No, it could never be.
A few more pages on.
So there I was, stuck, on a planet that shouldn't exist, under a black hole. I knew the only thing I should want was to see my mum again but it's not. It's not what I wanted at all. All I could think about was taking the Doctor's hand and pulling him into a storage unit and telling him how I really feel. If we were going to die under Satan's hand then I wanted to feel him against me, I wanted him to feel me. But he didn't stay in one place, as usual. He chased the Beast and saved the innocents and left me to agonise over his death. Maybe that's the way it should be.
The nightmares won't stop. I keep having them, of the Beast. He wants my blood, he wants to kill me. He wants to take me away from my Doctor. I pray that never happens. I love my life now. Before, there was no meaning in my life and now, all I see are possibilities and stars and planets and amazing things… Impossible things. As strange as the thing I do know not.
The last page.
I love him.
Rose shut the diary over and leant her head backwards, trying to process everything. The photos… The diary… Her handwriting… Could this all be fake? Could this Doctor be telling the truth? If she'd lost four years of her life of course she wouldn't remember of any these but… There was something about that skinny man that was drawing her in and making her doubt her previous judgement.
He had eyes like a man who had witnessed fire and pain and things most horrible. And still, even though his presence was dangerous, he was intoxicating, and she knew it. Seventeen years old mentally or not, the Doctor's attractiveness had not gone unnoticed. Rose stood up, still clutching the black diary as she headed for the door.