Chapter: You Are Flying
The Doctor burst into Reception with little fanfare, holding out his hand to Rose. "Rose! The Sonic!" He called, and she tossed it to him. He caught it and ran over to the teleport system. "Mr. Copper, the teleports, have they got emergency settings?"
Mr. Copper scratched his head. "I don't know. They should have."
"Astrid fell, Mr. Copper. She fell. What's the emergency code?"
"Uh… let me see." Mr. Copper said, joining the Doctor by the teleport.
Alonzo Frame ran into the room soon after the Doctor. "What the hell are you doing?" He asked, still holding his side.
"We can bring her back!" The Doctor yelled, turning the sonic on the teleport.
Mr. Copper took up the explanation since the Doctor was too absorbed in his work to continue the commentary. "If a passenger has an accident on shore leave and they're still wearing their teleport, their molecules are automatically suspended and held in stasis so that we can just trigger the shift…"
The Doctor finished his work with a flourish and pressed a button. "There!" He spun around. In the middle of the room, a glowing and transparent figure appeared. It was Astrid, she gazed around in confusion.
"I'm falling." She said vaguely.
"Only halfway there." The Doctor muttered, turning back to the control panel and taking the sonic to it once more. "Come on!"
"I keep falling." Astrid's glowing form whispered.
"Feed back the molecule grid; boost it with the restoration matrix." The control panel sparked, forcing the Doctor to jump away. "No, no, no, no! Need more phase containment!"
"Doctor…" Mr. Copper began.
But the Doctor ignored him. "No! If I can just link up the surface suspension…"
"Doctor, she's gone." Mr. Copper said firmly.
"I just need to override the safety. I can do it!" The Doctor said desperately.
"Doctor… let her go." Mr. Copper said.
Astrid was still a glowing transparent ghost-like figure, and her form wasn't getting any stronger, nor was it getting any weaker. The Doctor yelled and kicked the teleport control panel angrily. "I can do anything!"
Rose ran up to him and pulled him into an embrace. He broke down, holding her so tightly that it was only her superior lungs that kept her breathing.
"Stop me falling." Astrid's form whispered.
The Doctor let go of Rose and walked over towards Astrid. Mr. Copper moved up beside him. "There's not enough left. The system was too badly damaged. She's just atoms, Doctor. An echo with the ghost of consciousness. She's stardust."
The Doctor sighed. "Astrid Peth, citizen of Sto, the woman who looked at the stars and dreamt of traveling… now you can travel forever." He used the sonic to open up a window behind her. Astrid's form broke apart, turning into sparkling motes of light. "You're not falling, Astrid. You're flying." The stardust drifted out the window to begin its never-ending journey across the universe.
Everything became silent.
The Doctor had used the sonic screwdriver to fix up Midshipman Frame as best as he could, but still urged the man to get some more medical treatment as soon as possible. Frame had thanked him and gone to check on the status of the ship. Before long, he returned. "The engines have stabilized." He said. "We're holding steady till we get help and I've sent the SOS. A rescue ship should be here in twenty minutes. And they're digging out the records of Max Capricorn. It should be quite the story."
Mr. Copper sighed. "They'll want to talk to all of us, I suppose?"
Alonzo Frame nodded, completely ignorant of Mr. Copper's situation. "I'd have thought so, yeah."
Mr. Copper wandered over to the Doctor and Rose with a sigh. "I think, uh… one or two inconvenient truths might come to light. Still, it's my own fault, and ten years in jail is better than dying."
Mr. Copper trailed off when Rickston Slade came over. "Doctor… I never said… thank you." He pulled the Doctor into a brief hug, which the Doctor didn't even pretend to return. "The funny thing is… I said Max Capricorn was falling apart. Just before the crash… I sold all my shares, transferred them to his rivals. It's made me rich. What do you think of that?" The Doctor and Rose gave him incredulous looks of shock, amazed that there was such a man in the universe who could think of money after what just happened. Rickston's mobile rang and he answered it, walking off. "Salvain? Those shares… I want them triple-bonded and locked."
Mr. Copper knew from the looks on the Doctor and Rose's faces just what they were thinking. "Of all the people to survive, he's not the one you would have chosen, is he?" He asked frankly. "But if you could choose, Doctor, if you could decide to lives and who dies… that would make you a monster."
Neither the Doctor nor Rose responded to that. They didn't know what to say. They'd both held life and death in their hands at one point. The Doctor did it all the time. He would let people die if their deaths were a fixed point in time, but he would save all he could. And Rose literally once had all of time and space in her hand. She had destroyed an entire Dalek fleet and created an immortal being by accident. But that was their lot in life: they were Time Lords, keepers of the universal order. They were not so much Lords as humble servants, doing Time's bidding across the universe.
The Doctor sighed and handed over one of the teleport bracelets to Mr. Copper. "Mr. Copper, I think you deserve this." He took two more bracelets for himself and Rose.
Mr. Copper smiled and accepted the bracelet before slipping it on his wrist, as did the Doctor and Rose. The Doctor entered some coordinates into the teleport control panel. Alonzo Frame saw what they were doing and stood to stop them, but then he stopped with a sigh and simply saluted them. The Doctor saluted back before he activated the teleport and sent them down to Earth.
They landed in a field just outside London, and the Doctor was pleased to find that his telepathic connection to the ship had not led him wrong; the Tardis was exactly where he expected it to be. The Doctor, Rose, and Mr. Copper set off on a walk over towards the Tardis while snow fell around them.
"So, Great Britain is part of, uh, 'Europee' and just across the British Channel you've got Great France and Great Germany." Mr. Copper said.
"No, Mr. Copper." Rose laughed. "It's just France and Germany."
"Yes, only Britain is great." The Doctor said with a smile.
"Oh… and they're all at war with the continent of Ham-erica?"
"No, well… not yet. Uh… could argue that one." The Doctor said thoughtfully. He walked over to the Tardis. "And there she is!" He lovingly patted the blue wood. "Survive anything!"
"You know, between us, I don't even think this is real snow. I think this is the ballast from the Titanic's salvage entering the atmosphere." Mr. Copper said.
The Doctor looked up into the sky. 'Yeah. One of these days it might snow for real."
"So, I suppose you'll be off?" Mr. Copper asked.
"The open sky!" Rose said happily.
"And, uh, what about me?" Mr. Copper asked. "What am I supposed to do?"
The Doctor thought for a moment and then held out his hand. "Give me that credit card."
Mr. Copper pulled it out of his pocket and handed it over to the Doctor. It was your average pre-paid credit card that could be filled with money. "Well, it's just petty cash, spending money. It's all done by computer. I don't really know the currency so I thought a million might cover it."
Rose stared at him. "A million? Pounds?"
"That's enough for trinkets?"
"Mr. Copper…" The Doctor said, handing back over the credit card. "A million pounds is worth fifty million credits."
Rose was not an expert on space currency, but she knew what a million pounds could buy, so she could understand the look of awe that passed over Mr. Copper's face.
"How much?" He asked, shocked.
The Doctor did some quick mental calculations. "Fifty million and… fifty-six credits."
"I… I've got money!" Mr. Copper gasped.
"Yes, you have." The Doctor said, smiling at the look of joy on Mr. Copper's face.
"Oh my word… Oh my vot! Oh my goodness me! Ya-ha!" Mr. Copper exclaimed.
"It's all yours, Planet Earth!" The Doctor said, gesturing towards London. "Now that's a retirement plan. But just you be careful, though."
Mr. Copper clutched the credit card to his chest, smiling brightly from ear-to-ear. "I will! I will! Oh, I will!"
"No interfering. I don't want any trouble. Just… just have a nice life." The Doctor said, patting his shoulder.
"But I can have a house! A proper house, with a garden, and… and a door and… Oh, Doctor, I will make you proud!" He hugged the Doctor, and this time, the Doctor gladly hugged him back. And then he shared a quick hug with Rose. "And… and I can have a kitchen with chairs, and windows, and lace…!" He skipped off across the field.
"Where are you going?" Rose called after him.
Mr. Copper laughed. "Why, I have no idea!"
"No, me neither." The Doctor said as he unlocked the Tardis.
"But, Doctor…" Mr. Copper stopped and turned back around to them. "I won't forget her."
The Doctor met Mr. Copper's eyes and nodded gravely. He and Rose glanced up at the sky, just in time to see a bright streak of blue light shoot across the sky, as if it were one last good bye from Astrid before she went on her journey. They look over and see Mr. Copper skipping away. "Happy Christmas, Mr. Copper." The Doctor said softly before he stepped into the Tardis with Rose. A few seconds later, it dematerialized into the Time Vortex.
Rose pulled off the beautiful red dress that she had worn for the Titanic. Of course, it was anything but beautiful now. It had nearly been destroyed in the chaos of the shipwreck. She sighed in disappointment, sure that even the Tardis wouldn't be able to repair the damage done to the fine dress. She set it aside and reached for some of the clothes that was still onboard the Tardis since before her brief exile to another universe, but she paused when she took the shirt and jacket in hand.
She couldn't explain why, but she just didn't like the look of those clothes anymore. One thing for sure, she knew that she wasn't going to be caught dead wearing these sort of clothes anymore. She tossed them away in disgust.
"It's because of the regeneration." A voice said behind her. She turned around and saw the Doctor walk in, loosening his tie and pulling it off. "It's one of the things that are sure to change because of regeneration: your sense of fashion."
"Oh, is that why you don't wear jumpers and leather anymore?" Rose asked.
The Doctor nodded. "Some of my regenerations have made some… rather odd fashion choices."
Rose laughed. "I'll say!" When she had looked inside the Doctor's mind, she saw each of his past regenerations, and she had met his fifth one. The celery pinned to his lapel had been odd, but it had gotten odder still. "Speaking of your fashion sense, just what was with that scarf? With all the running you do, I'm shocked you never hanged yourself with it!"
"Believe me, I've wondered that myself." The Doctor commented. Honestly, he wasn't sure how he managed to avoid regeneration-by-strangulation. "But I'm more interested in you right now. Go to the Tardis wardrobe and take whatever catches your fancy. What's mine is yours now."
Rose reached for a sheet to cover herself with, since she was only in her knickers and bra. But then she thought better of it and brazenly walked down the halls of the Tardis towards the wardrobe in her underclothes, giving the Doctor a heated look as she passed.
The Doctor quickly removed his jacket and followed after her. After all, they had as much time as they wanted in the Vortex, and discovering her new fashion sense could wait a little longer…
All in all, Rose was rather shocked that she managed to get into the wardrobe that same day, with the Doctor having caught up to her in the hallway, pulled her into the zero gravity room and, well, learned that having sex in zero gravity wasn't as easy as one might imagine. But they'd managed it all the same.
And now she knew what her fashion sense was: kind of hippie. She'd found herself drawn to a pair of leggings, a short shirt, and a floral-patterned tank-top. For the finishing touch she pulled her hair into a messy pony-tail and gazed at herself in the mirror.
It could have ended up worse. Rose thought. There were some clothes stashed in the wardrobe that she hoped that she never did more than look at.
"So, it's America in the sixties?" The Doctor asked from the doorway, grinning at her. She moved up behind her and wrapped his arms around her. "It looks good on you." He whispered, brushing his lips against her neck.
Rose laughed a little. "You told me that Time Lords don't care what their bonded mate looks like."
"That doesn't negate the fact that you're beautiful." The Doctor said earnestly.
But even with the attempts at seduction, Rose could tell through their telepathic link that the Doctor was really sad. She knew from his mind that he loved traveling with companions. In fact, he loved it so much that Rose was really the first time that he'd been content with a single companion at a time. And just because he was married to Rose didn't mean that he wouldn't appreciate more company. If there was one thing the Doctor loved more than getting into trouble, it was showing someone the wonders of the universe.
He'd lost a potential companion today, and he mourned her loss like he mourned every companion who had died while traveling with him even though Astrid had never set one foot on the Tardis.
"Astrid's death was not your fault." Rose whispered to him. "It was my fault."
"Rose…" The Doctor began.
"No. It is. I could have stopped her from going down on Deck 31. I should have stopped her. But she insisted." Rose said.
The Doctor sighed. "It never gets any easier to lose people, even have nine hundred years."
"I know." Rose said.
Upon those words, it occurred to the Doctor that he was not the only one who had lost someone. Rose had lost the rest of her family to be with him. They were in a parallel world where Rose could only have the occasional phone conversation.
The Doctor pulled away from her. "Come with me, I've got a surprise for you." He said and led her back out to the console.
He brought her back in time, to the Powell estate in London. Rose opened the door of the Tardis and knew instantly when he had brought her. It was during her first 'year' traveling with the Doctor, even though it had only been a few days for her. She could see all the Missing posters of herself spread across the estate.
The Doctor stepped out after her. "As long as you don't tell her who you are." He said. "She wouldn't believe you anyway, because she couldn't recognize you, and she doesn't know anything about me yet… even the leather-clad version of me."
He took her hand and, together, they walked into the estate and up towards Jackie's apartment. Rose had barely knocked on the door twice before it was pulled open by her mother. As the Doctor said, she gave absolutely no sign of recognition. "Oh, please tell me you have news of my Rose?" She asked, glancing desperately between them.
"I…" Rose began. "I just wanted to let you know that your daughter is safe. She's safe and happy and she'll be back in a few months."
Jackie didn't seem to know what to make of that information. On the one hand, she looked like she wanted to tell off the odd strangers for being so vague, but on the other hand, she looked glad for any sort of news, even if it wasn't information about her daughter's whereabouts. Eventually, she decided on grateful. "Thank you." Jackie said, nodding and shutting the door.
The Doctor and Rose left, heading back towards the Tardis. "Well, I must say that was a much better first impression on Jackie Tyler than the one my leather-clad self gets stuck with. I swear I can still feel the force of her slap!"
"I still can't believe that was the first time you've ever been slapped by a mom!" Rose said. "With all the people you've picked up over the years, none of their families were resentful?"
"In those days, my companions did not see their families again until they left the Tardis." The Doctor said. "So, yes, that was the first time I'd met a mother. But I guess it's not the last time. I met Martha's mum. She slapped me too."
"Just trying to make up for all the missed slap opportunities." Rose commented.
They were still talking about slaps and mothers when they boarded the Tardis and took off for parts unknown.
LES: Voyage of the Damned is done! But before I work on Partners in Crime, I'm going to write up a quick prequel to these stories, mainly about the first time the Doctor and Rose had sex and created their bond (though neither knew it was a bond at the time…) Watch out for it!