The wall opened up, and Daleks and Cybermen flew past their heads. Rose grinned at the Doctor as she clung to the clamp. It was working. It was working, and it was all going to be okay. Until a Dalek hit the lever on her side, and the pull started to go offline. It couldn't be allowed to do that. The walls would close, with a bunch of Daleks and Cybermen still on this side of the void. Too slow—the flow was slowing.
She glanced over at the Doctor, and made a decision. That flow could not go offline. And she could not put her wellbeing ahead of all of these people. She might be fine—but she doubted it. The flow was too strong. But it didn't matter. Her Doctor would be torn apart over it, she was sure, but none of that mattered. She didn't matter, and he didn't matter.
She reached for the lever frantically, managed to push it back into place before she lost her grip entirely, even as her Doctor called for her to hold on. She tried to be brave, but a scream was ripped from her throat as she fell from his frantically reaching hand, as if he could catch her.
Then he didn't look terrified anymore—he was staring, astonished, behind her, and she could hear a very familiar noise. And there it was—the TARDIS materializing between her and the void, doors open. Well. This was probably going to hurt. She sailed through those doors and stared in astonishment as she smacked her head, hard on a flight of stairs that hadn't been there earlier. The TARDIS was entirely different inside.
And standing there, astonished, was her father.
"Pete?" Rose asked.
"Petey!" The man—this must be the Doctor. The next Doctor, future-Doctor—floppy brown hair and a tweed suit. "She's safe, your daughter, you can tell Jackie that I promised to take care of her. Go back—quickly, the walls are closing in seconds," he directed. Pete appeared to be too shocked by the circumstances to do anything, so Rose reached over to the yellow button around Pete's neck and smacked it. Then Pete was gone.
The Doctor bounded down the staircase. "RORY! I need nurse—things!" he hollered. He whipped out his sonic, also different, and started scanning her. "You've got a concussion, sit still," he directed. "RORY!"
He turned to her, and smiled. "Rose," he greeted softly. "Shh, carefully. Like I said, concussion."
"Where are we?"
"Vortex," the Doctor answered. "Couldn't have past-me getting on here—could have catastrophically altered the time loop, and time loops can be very nasty when they don't happen exactly like they're supposed to."
"Hello," Rose murmured, laughing slightly before biting her lip and looking down.
"Hello," he replied, ducking his head and giggling goofily.
"My God, you're so young," she breathed, ignoring his direction and getting to her feet. Her head swayed, and she gripped the nearby railing. "Is that how this works—you regenerate younger every time? Next time, you're going to be a teenager."
"Never been a teenager before. Oooh, I hope not," he said. He reached out to steady her as the TARDIS swirled around her. "RORY! Hurry up, she's got a concussion!"
A man came scaling down the stairs to kneel next to the Doctor. "Hey, Rose," he greeted. "Here, I need you to follow this light with your eyes, okay?"
Rose did so, but stared at him curiously. "Do I know you?"
"Not yet," the man—Rory—said fondly. "But you will. Just sit down, please?"
She pushed Rory away. "How'd you... die?"
"Can't tell you that," the Doctor murmured, sounding regretful. "But you were there. You've been there with me, every step of the way—you were the last face that he saw, and the first one that I laid eyes on, just like last time."
"What does she mean, die?" Rory wanted to know.
"Ahh! I knew I was forgetting something," the Doctor said.
"What? Where am I, then?"
The Doctor grinned. "With past-me! And Amy went with you—you must've explained to her, because she wasn't confused when she saw me, but I forgot to tell her... So! Rory! Regeneration."
"Hold on," Rose objected. "How long has he been travelling with you?"
"And you haven't told him about regeneration yet? Didn't you learn from me?"
"Regeneration is how a Time Lord can heal from lethal injuries," Rose explained, leaning across the Doctor's lap to glance at Rory. "But they change. Every cell in their bodies. Become something different. This guy—" she shoved at the Doctor with her elbow—"isn't the Doctor that I first met, and he isn't the Doctor that I'm travelling with now."
"But I'm still the Doctor, right?"
"Dunno," Rose grinned, running her tongue along her teeth. "Maybe you're a Slitheen."
"I really wish that you would stop using that comparison," the Doctor protested. "'S insulting."
"Zipper in your forehead," Rose suggested, smirking as his hand frantically rose to feel at his forehead before remembering that she was teasing him and dropping to poke at her abdomen instead.
"That wasn't nice, Rose Tyler."
"Doctor, she really should get to the infirmary so that we can scan her head for more damage," Rory pointed out. Nodding, the Doctor wrapped one arm around Rose's waist, and pulled her up, catching the other around her thighs. She would have protested, but she enjoyed being carried by the Doctor.
The Doctor stared in disbelief as the TARDIS (it must have been the future TARDIS, because it certainly wasn't his) disappeared, with Rose inside of it. Well, that had been unexpected, though certainly welcome. He was sure that his future-self would return her to him. Eventually. He wasn't too worried, at any rate.
He was proven right just moments later, when the side door opened up, and in walked Rose Tyler. Except that she wasn't his Rose Tyler—her hair was longer, just past her shoulders instead of cut just above them. She was wearing tight jeans, a leather jacket and trainers.
"Rose!" Suddenly, it didn't matter that she wasn't, strictly speaking, his Rose—All versions of Rose Tyler were his, just as all versions him belonged to Rose Tyler. She ran straight to him, and he caught her in his arms and buried his nose in her hair, inhaling desperately. "For a second there, I thought that I had lost you."
"Never," Rose swore, grinning at him.
"Ahem." Came from the doorway behind Rose—another woman had followed her in, a gorgeous, statuesque redhead, dressed in leather boots and a mini-skirt. The girl raised her eyebrow. "Nice."
"I know, right?" Rose asked
"Very nice." She had a Scottish accent.
"You've got Rory, though," Rose said, sounding amused.
"Doesn't stop me looking, though, right?"
"Course not," Rose dismissed. He finally caught on that they were talking about him. "Doctor, this is Amy Pond. You adore her."
"You do," Rose said firmly. "Least she's ginger."
"You mean I'm not ginger! Again! Damnit!" He was smart—genius, actually. The fact that Amy had been assessing him as if she had never seen him before meant that he had to have regenerated before he met her.
Rose and Amy glanced at each other and laughed. "You always complain about it," Amy said. "And also, when I got my hair cut, Rose had to talk you out of keeping the clippings."
"It was creepy," Rose agreed. "Come on, Doctor, off to the TARDIS. We've got a runaway bride to catch."
"You'll find out. But you'll get to have two gingers on your TARDIS at the same time!"
"She does have brilliant hair," he allowed, glancing at Amy's vibrant, almost blood-red locks. None of this red-brown or auburn for Amy—he really had managed to pick up the ultimate ginger, hadn't he?
Rose finally managed to get Rory and the Doctor to let her out of the infirmary, and it sort of smacked her that she'd never be able to see her mother again. The Doctor seemed to see exactly what was going on in her brain, because he offered her one hand. "I know a way that you can say goodbye," he offered.
"I—thank you." She took his hand, but didn't stop there, reeling him towards her and wrapping her arm in the crook of his elbow. He was her Doctor, even if he was shaped a little bit differently than the one that she had just left. "But what about... past-you? Is he worried? I don't want him to worry."
"He's fine," the Doctor laughed. "Like I said, he's got future-you with him. She knows what to do. And Amy went with her, too."
"Our other companion—Rory's wife. There's an adventure that they need to have, and this way, I can help you say goodbye, to save past-me from all of his broody moping and worrying about how you're regretting staying with him."
"We've had a good few years," the Doctor murmured. "And I know that you can miss Jackie, even though you chose me. But you know how I was."
Rose snorted. Yes, she knew how her Doctor was. It was really rather frustrating sometimes. The Doctor brought her to the console room. "It's so different," she said. "But pretty. Like the TARDIS put on a ball gown, or something."
Rory had followed them unobtrusively, but caught her attention as he dropped into the jump seat, clearly the same actual chair, but moved to the side of the console platform, with three others that matched it also positioned along the side railing.
"So, what I need to do is find a crack—they're all still closing, but I have it on good authority that there's still a pretty significant one that'll come out on a beach in Norway. Funny, that, it translates to Bad Wolf Bay. Darlig Ulv Stranden."
"Good authority?" Rose asked.
"You," the Doctor said. "I knew that I was supposed to do this because you told me that I had."
Rose arched an eyebrow at him, and he grinned at her. The console started beeping frantically. "Found a crack!" the Doctor said cheerfully. "Just gaining power!"
"How?" Rose asked.
"Burning up a sun," he said nonchalantly. Rory choked where he was sitting. "Don't worry—nothing depending on this particular sun to live. There aren't even any planets orbiting it. Got it! Now, think of her. Call her name if you want, but just concentrate on her."
Rose did—concentrated on her mother, who was so silly sometimes, but she loved her so much. On memories of days in their flat before she had met the Doctor, when they had just watched the telly, or when her mum had cut her hair. Her mum's tea, which she would probably never have again.
The TARDIS faded around her, and she was standing on a cold beach, deserted except for three people—her mum, Pete and Mickey.
"She can't touch you." It was the Doctor's voice—she couldn't see him, since she was being projected onto the beach, but she could hear him just fine. "Just a projection, unfortunately."
"You look like a ghost!" Jackie said, moving rapidly to her side.
"Doctor?" She called. He fiddled with something, and Rose saw that the image grew stronger.
Jackie reached forward to hug her, but Rose raised a hand to stop her. "Just a projection, mum. No touch."
"Oh, honey! Can't you come through properly?"
"No," Rose said. "And even if I could, I wouldn't."
"Pete said that you fell," Jackie murmured, tears gathering in her eyes.
"I did. The Doctor caught me."
"I want to see him." Rose winced. He wasn't exactly the Doctor that her mother knew, and she didn't want to think about how Jackie might react to that.
"Mum, that's probably not a good idea—" she was cut off by the Doctor stepping into the projection with her.
"Hello, Jackie," he said, rather somberly.
"You! You've gone and changed your face again, haven't you?"
The Doctor smiled slightly. "Not yet, not on your timeline, anyway. I'm a future version. I caught Rose because past-me couldn't, and now I'm helping her say goodbye while future-her helps past-me with some other problems. It's all very complicated, and we've only got about two minutes before the cracks close, so I doubt that you much care to hear the full explanation."
"Oh, Rose. I don't know what to say."
Rose smiled slightly. "I'll miss you. But know that I'm happy, and the Doctor—no matter which version—will take care of me."
"Will I ever see you again?"
Rose glanced at the Doctor for the confirming head-shake before echoing the motion. "No. I'm sorry, mum, but that's the way that it has to be. Otherwise we could collapse two universes."
Jackie smiled a slightly watery smile. "So?" She joked. Rose wiped the tear trailing down her cheek away.
"This is Rory," she gestured, and obviously Rory heard the cue, because he joined them in the projection. "I haven't met him yet, but apparently he'll travel with us in the future, along with his wife, Amy, who's off with future-me and past-Doctor right now. I assume that we'll switch back at some point, get back into our proper timelines, but..."
She trailed off.
"I'm pregnant," Jackie volunteered. "Three months gone, now."
"Oh, mum, that's wonderful," Rose said. "Tell my little brother or sister all about me, okay?"
"Of course," Jackie agreed.
"Thirty seconds," the Doctor murmured urgently beside her.
"I love you, mum."
"Oh, Rose, I love you," Jackie echoed. "If I could, I'd give you the hug to end all hugs right now. And you, you take care of her. Promise me!"
"I promise, Jackie," the Doctor said. "Always."
Rose drunk in her last sight of her mum's face before everything faded away, and she was back on the TARDIS. She wiped a tear from her cheek.
"We've got some time to kill before I have to take you back," the Doctor said gently. "What do you want to see?"
Rose thought for a second, before deciding on another frozen beach, in another time, that had made her gasp at its breathtaking, glittering beauty.
"Of course," the Doctor said, reaching up to wipe another of her tears with agonizing gentleness before letting his hand drop. "There's something that I'd like to say to you, but past-me has to say it first—it wouldn't be fair otherwise."
Rose started momentarily—if he meant what she thought that he meant, then she'd very much like to hear it, but he was right—she'd rather hear it from his past-self first.
"So, Women Wept, here we come," he declared joyfully. "Rory, Women Wept is a deserted planet, called that because it used to be entirely water except for one continent, which from above is shaped like a weeping woman. The aftershocks of the Time War froze the entire planet utterly solid in one second—the waves in mid-motion. You can walk on them, climb them."
Rose pushed into the TARDIS first. She liked the new design, but sometimes she longed for the simplicity of the previous console room, as well. Amy followed, scanning the room carefully. Rose had warned her that it would be different, and Amy walked up the ramp and circled the console. "What is this, coral? Cause these strut-things look like antlers," Amy assessed.
Rose pouted in the redhead's direction. "Don't insult the TARDIS! She's still pretty. Don't worry, girl, I love you no matter what you look like," she cooed to the console. Amy rolled her eyes as Rose reached forward to stroke the middle column of the console.
"Where did you say that we were going?" the Doctor asked, throwing his coat over the strut by the door and circling the console.
"Doesn't matter—just into the vortex. On Christmas Eve of next year, at about two-thirty in the afternoon," Rose directed.
"Because of your best friend," Rose said, grinning. "Like I said—we have to catch a runaway bride."
"Though," Amy said. "I'm kind of worried about meeting Donna Noble before you guys have mellowed her out—she's kind of... loud? Even now, and apparently, she used to be even more abrasive."
Rose laughed, and Amy joined her, both of them looking at the Doctor, who paused and whined, "Stop it," in a rather childish tone of voice. That just made them laugh harder.
But he followed Rose's directions, taking the TARDIS into the vortex at the time directed. "Now what?"
"We wait. She shouldn't be long."
"I still don't understand!"
"You will," Rose said.
He shoved his hands into his pockets and turned around—and suddenly, there was a woman in a wedding dress standing on his TARDIS.
"What?" He demanded, staring at her in shock.
"Who are you?" the bride wanted to know.
"Where am I?" She snapped. Rose and Amy were snickering as she advanced on him.
"What?" He asked frantically, throwing Rose a terrified look.
"What the hell is this place? Oi, blondie, carrot-top, you two can stop laughing and—" the woman cut herself off as Amy and Rose laughed harder, clinging on to each other to keep from toppling over.
"Sorry, sorry, Donna, I'm sorry," Rose gasped out. "I just—the look on his face! It's brilliant! We're keeping you."
"Who are you people! How do you know my name?" The woman (a ginger, though not nearly as vibrantly ginger as Amy) snarled.
"You were taken from the middle of your wedding when you were halfway up the aisle," Amy said. "Would you believe that we know you in the future? That this is a time machine, and we've crossed our own timeline because you told us that you remembered us being here?"
"But!" The Doctor frantically ran over to scan the woman (Donna?) with his sonic. "We're in flight! That's physically impossible! Nobody can lock onto the TARDIS and transmat themselves on—I've got defences! Especially when we're in flight! Stop it!" He whined again, rather pathetically, at Rose and Amy. He just succeeded in setting them off again.
"Well! If nobody's going to get me back to the wedding, I'll do it myself," Donna announced. Before any of them realized her intention, she had huffed her way to the door, nose firmly in the air, and yanked it open, only to let out a mini shriek and stumble backwards again. The Doctor, Rose and Amy all bolted across the TARDIS to look out.
"What is this place?" Donna asked.
"The TARDIS," the Doctor said, in a subdued tone. "Time and Relative Dimension in Space. I'm the Doctor, her pilot. This is my companion, Rose Tyler, and apparently my future companion, Amy Pond."
"Donna Noble," she said.
"Is that optional?" Donna asked, horrified.
"It is with him," Rose interjected. "He's a Time Lord. I used to be human, but I'm part time-vortex, part sentient TARDIS, and part Time Lord—I picked up his genetic code when he removed the vortex from me. Amy's human."
"At least as far as you know," Amy said, smirking mischievously. "Maybe I'm actually part... cat, or something."
"Oh, please," Rose scoffed. The Doctor and Donna were too busy gaping at Rose, albeit for different reasons.
"What do you mean, you aren't human anymore! That doesn't even—I took it out of you! I died! Got a whole new look to prove it!"
"Mmm," Rose agreed indulgently. "Sure, love." She patted his arm patronizingly. "Beautiful, isn't it?" She asked Donna.
"Yeah," Donna agreed absently. "Oh! I'm getting married today! I'm getting married, and everything was perfect, and now this happened!"
"Yeah, Donna..." Amy started, before trailing off, unable to bring herself to just drop the news of Lance's treachery on her head without warning.
"What are you waiting for! Get me to the church!"
"He needs coordinates," Rose said, sounding amused. She locked eyes with Amy, and they had a silent conversation around the oblivious Doctor and less oblivious but still less-knowing Donna. Donna lost her temper again and screeched out a string of places that were clearly meant to be glib, if the reference to the planet earth was any indication.
Then, of course, bless the Doctor, who managed to land them someplace that was decidedly not the church that Donna had specified, in Chiswick, London.
The Doctor seemed bored as he set the coordinates to Rose's destination of choice—a planet called Women Wept. There was obviously a reason that Rory hadn't seen this view before, and it was because it bored the Doctor to tears. He was willing to put up with this only because Rose seemed to need it.
And speaking of Rose, she did look different. Younger. Not in physical appearance—Rose hadn't aged since this, though the Rose that he knew had hair that was a few inches longer, brushing past her shoulders. No, it was just... her eyes, they seemed infinitely younger and less affected. Red-rimmed from crying that she was, this Rose had just lost her mother. The Rose that Rory knew had been without her mother for several years, relying on only herself and the Doctor. She had saved planets on her own, been thrown places without her Doctor, even though they seemed inseparable, Rory could tell that the Doctor was touched by this younger version of his lover, the one that was untouched and innocent and unravaged by time the way that his Rose was.
The Doctor placed a hand on Rose's back, and guided her gently down the stairs to the TARDIS door, Rory travelling in their wake and trying very hard not to feel like a third wheel. It was okay when Amy was with them, when the Doctor and Rose got all coupley, because Rory could just turn to Amy. And he knew that Amy had a special dynamic with Rose and the Doctor, because there had been adventures there without him, adventures where it had been just the Doctor, Rose and Amy.
Then the doors opened, and Rory forgot all of his discomfort in favour of breathtaking awe at the view before him. Waves were frozen, literally halfway through breaking, swelling towards the beach. The beach was perfectly white sand, stretching for eons in every direction away from the water, as far as the eye could see, littered with old driftwood and shells. It was chilly, but not as cold as something that had an entirely frozen solid ocean should be, though the Doctor was taking off his tweed jacket and laying it gently around Rose's shoulders. Rose sniffled and placed her arms through the too-long sleeves, the elbow-pads sitting somewhere in the region of her forearms, fingers barely poking out the bottom of the sleeves.
The Doctor seemed less energetic than usual, perfectly willing to step up to the plate and be Rose's shoulder to cry on, his hand still resting comfortingly on the small of her back.
"You can walk on the waves, you know," Rose said, looking at him out of the corner of her eye. "It's not cold because it's not actually ice—the entire planet is frozen in time."
"Welll, not exactly. Picture a shockwave, travelling from the Time War—except don't, because it's nothing like that—" The Doctor's characteristic babble was cut off by Rose's hand neatly clamping over his mouth.
"We get it. God, you've still got a gob, don't you?"
"Yep!" The Doctor agreed, somewhat muffled because of Rose's hand in the way of his mouth. He reached up to remove said obstruction away from his greatest weapon—the Oncoming Babble. "Still got hair with a mind of its own, still not ginger, still got a gob," he agreed cheerfully. "So, Rose Tyler. How do I look?" He clapped his hands grandly, spread his arms dramatically.
Clearly, this question was somewhat familiar to Rose, because she started to smile. "Different."
"Yes, but... good-different, or bad-different."
"I dunno, just different."
He leaned in to her, eyebrow moving up. "What... do you think of the bowtie?"
"It's cool," Rose said, smirking. "Just like I told you when you showed up to tutor me in geography when I was in year nine. What were you doing that for, anyway?"
The Doctor pouted. "You ran off to visit Donna! I was bored, and you said that I couldn't come and bother you! So..."
"You bothered a younger version of me who couldn't tell you to go away?" Rose said, amused. "You are ridiculous. Just... when you died, were you in pain?"
"Ahhh. Sarah Jane asked that, too."
"What's the answer?"
"With Sarah Jane and Jo, I sort of... evaded, but... you, well, you were there. Regenerating always hurts, and the way that I died. Well, let's just say that it could have been more... elegant. But I have no regrets. None. And this one loves you just as much as the last one did. It doesn't matter how many times I die, Rose Tyler, I'll always come out the other side loving you."
Rose stared at him, mouth slightly agape. "Ah, drat. I told you, didn't I? After I said that I wouldn't. Oops," the Doctor said cheerfully. Then his smile softened slightly, became less manic and more natural, and he rested his hand on her cheek. "Don't tell me. Don't say it—you don't love this me, not now. You're still on Ten, which is good, because Ten isn't dead yet, and you've got a ways to go before he is. And he's going to need you, because some parts of his future aren't pretty."
"Doctor," Rose breathed, placing her hand over his. "You're the same man—I think that I learned that after you went from leather to pinstripes. Tweed, while it may be reminiscent of an old man that works the night shift in the museum surrounded by dusty books, isn't going to change that."
The Doctor's smile abruptly went utterly goofy and somehow very vulnerable. "Really?"
"Always," Rose said, squeezing his hand and pulling it away from her face. "Now we've got some time to play on the beach, let's get running on those waves, shall we? Remember last time? With Jack?"
"Of course," he answered, lacing his fingers through hers. "Geronimo!"
"Is that what you say now?"
"What do you—"
"Well, leather-you said fantastic all the time, and then well, next-you just told me that he was going to say allons-y, which is sort of ridiculous, but still super-you at the same time."
"Yes, Rose," Rory broke in, from where he had been standing to the side unobtrusively and trying not to listen in on their moment. "Geronimo is what he says now."
"Well then," Rose offered, grinning. "Fantastic?"
"Geronimo," the Doctor repeated, before taking off running without warning, pulling her along with a squeal as they hit the utterly still water and stepping onto it like it was just another part of the beach.
After Donna had gotten into the cab with the Santa (Amy had followed her closely, figuring that something like that was going to happen), and managed to slide into the cab with her. Now, though, the problem was that she was trapped, too, and Donna still hadn't figured out that anything was wrong.
Her mobile was vibrating in her bra (she didn't have much choice as to where to put it—her skirt didn't have pockets, and her leather jacket's pockets were decorative and sewn shut. Rose had suggested her boot, but Amy liked the expression on men's faces when she started rummaging around in her bra for her mobile too much to start storing it somewhere else.
"Hello?" She hissed, not wanting robot-Santa—who Donna still hadn't cottoned onto being, you know, a robot Santa—to figure out that she had managed to contact someone.
"What happened?" Rose demanded.
"I couldn't stop her from getting into the cab," Amy reported. "I managed to get in with her, but she isn't happy about it. She thinks that you and I are mad, what with claiming to know her from the future, and she keeps calling the Doctor a Martian."
Rose snickered. "I know, the look on his face was priceless," she said. "The Doctor and I have got the TARDIS running—we're coming after you. Just hang tight, okay?"
"Got it," Amy said.
She shoved the mobile back into her bra, ignoring the look that she was getting from Donna, and began scanning the vicinity for the TARDIS. She should've been surprised by the Doctor's audacity when she saw it, spinning along the motorway, only about half a meter above the tops of the cars. It was somewhat disturbing that she really only felt the need to sigh resignedly, and start tugging on the lock to the door. It didn't work, of course. They had probably done much more than child-proof this particular door, and the Doctor would probably need to sonic it. And also, she was wearing a mini skirt, and she was going to have to leap from the car to the TARDIS—if they could talk Donna into following.
She resigned herself to flashing her knickers at the entire occupancy of a London motorway, thanking God that she had worn the black silk ones this morning: they were mostly modest. No see-through lace, no peekaboo panels—none of the fun stuff that she usually reserved for Rory, just plain black silk with lace trim.
The TARDIS finally caught up to them, and Donna had, it seemed, finally caught on to the fact that their cab driver was a robot when he missed the turn to get her to the church where her wedding was taking place. She was shrieking something unintelligible, and clinging to Amy's arm hard enough for her to feel the nails through her jacket, and alternating with leaning over her lap to bang on the window.
Amy laughed. Good old Donna Noble. Always good company in a crisis. Donna had travelled with the Doctor quite a bit, and still did so on and off, but she had stopped living on the TARDIS full time when she had met Shaun Temple, the man that was now her husband. Shaun knew about and understood Donna's life with the Doctor and the stars, but didn't seem all that interested in sharing it. Which seemed good, since Donna seemed to have been thinking about sticking back to earth for awhile. TARDIS travel could be unpredictable, especially with the Doctor as her pilot, but every two weeks, Martha, Donna, and Sarah Jane got together for drinks and reminiscing, and Rose and Amy tried to make it as often as possible. As much as she didn't really want to contemplate it, Amy figured that one day, the Doctor would drop off her and Rory and not come back, and then she would be able to make girl's night more regularly.
The doors to the TARDIS opened, and Rose brandished the Doctor's sonic screwdriver at the door. The locks clicked, and Amy sent the window down immediately. "We can't get any closer—you think you can make it?" Rose asked her.
"Course," Amy agreed, fumbling for the door handle and popping the door opened. Taking a deep breath, she manoeuvred herself onto the edge of the seat and stood up, hanging out the door. There wasn't time to hesitate—Donna was the one in real danger here, and Amy needed to get out of the way so that they could get Donna onto the TARDIS, too.
Taking a deep breath, and shaking off the bride's terrified, vicious grip on her arm, she leaned as close to the TARDIS that she could, and jumped. She landed half on top of Rose, and Rose yanked her the rest of the way into the TARDIS, where she rolled out of the way and went to propping the door open more thoroughly.
"Doctor," Rose called. "Santa's speeding up!"
The Doctor was standing at the console, frantically pulling levers and pushing buttons to keep them in stable flight.
"Donna, you have to jump," Rose was calling across the gap between TARDIS and car. "Please."
"Are you crazy, blondie?" Donna shrieked.
"Amy did!" Rose pleaded. "She was fine, see? I'll catch you, I promise. Just, please!"
"Donna," the Doctor called. "They need you for something, and whatever it is, it isn't good! Please, just jump!"
"I'm in my wedding dress!" Donna yelled.
"Yes, and you look lovely," the Doctor, Rose and Amy all shouted at the same time, though Rose and Amy were cheating a bit—Donna and the Doctor had repeated this story so many times, and that line was so-well memorized that it was impossible not to repeat it.
Somehow, this managed to galvanize Donna into making the jump, because she leapt across the gap, and Amy and Rose bundled her onto the TARDIS and slammed the doors shut, and the Doctor directed their flight away from the motorway with a jolt.
As soon as the TARDIS landed, Donna shoved the doors open and pushed her way out onto a deserted rooftop. The Doctor smoothly picked up Rose's hand, and it was really weird to see this other man hold her hand and hug her, even if he babbled even more than her version of the Doctor. Then he hauled his brown trench coat off the main coral strut and wrapped it around Rose as if it were reflex.
"Did we miss it?" Rose asked sympathetically, moving across the rooftop to Donna's side.
"Yeah," Donna sighed.
"I'm sorry," Rose said. The Doctor echoed this sentiment, and moved to sit on Donna's other side, taking off his suit jacket to drape over Donna's shoulders.
Donna muttered something caustic about the Doctor being skinny, and Amy realized it was true—this Doctor was really thin, and then tossed in, "It's not your fault."
Amy unobtrusively took the space on the rooftop next to the Doctor. "Oh, look," the Doctor said conversationally. "There's the Powell Estate. Spent last Christmas there. With..." he glanced at Rose and trailed off.
"My family," Rose inserted. "My mum and Mickey. That was a bit ago for me, but I'll never forget the sight of you wearing one of those stupid paper hats."
"Shut up," the Doctor said without heat. "I'll miss her, you know. Sort of. Jackie. Don't you ever tell her that I said that, Rose Tyler—she'd never let me live it down."
"Well," Rose breathed, leaning back. "I won't ever have the chance to tell her. I can't ever see her again—the walls were sealed completely and utterly after what happened with... the Pandorica. But you'll still see her again."
"The Pandorica? That's just a fairytale," the Doctor objected.
"No it's not," Amy and Rose said simultaneously.
"And you've still got that track record for ignoring coincidences that you really should pay attention to," Rose threw in. "Mr. 'Oh, Bad Wolf is following us wherever we go, but I don't have time to deal with it now! Oh well!'"
"You really shouldn't be telling me so much about the future," the Doctor said, smiling.
"This was after you regenerated," Amy explained. "I was involved in this one."
"Ah," the Doctor said, as if that explained it all. And it did. When a Time Lord regenerated, the regeneration would fuzz out memories that could cause potential damage to the timeline. Not a perfect method of defense, but pretty good.
"So," Donna interrupted. "Explain this time travel thing to me?"
"Okay," the Doctor agreed. "Let's start simple. The TARDIS, the last of its kind in the entire universe, can travel through all of time and space. Every planet, every ship, every asteroid, every century. But because of that, sometimes it is possible to interact with your own timeline. I was just at the Battle at Canary Wharf. Rose—my Rose, not this Rose—almost fell into the void. But a future version of me caught her by parking the TARDIS in the path of her fall with the doors open, and dematerializing as soon as she landed inside. But because two versions of her would be dangerous to potentially have on the same TARDIS, that future version left his Rose with me so that he could safely catch the other one," the Doctor explained. "So she's from a few years into my future. He left Amy with her because he remembered this day, and remembered her being here."
"That's still kind of confusing," Donna muttered doubtfully.
"It's all right," Amy soothed. "It's a lot to take in. I get it. Rose gets it, even though it's been a few years for her."
"Met a man in a basement full of living shop dummies. He told me to run, and I never looked back," Rose said. The Doctor reached for her hand behind Donna's back, and Amy held back her inherent desire to gag at their ridiculous lovey-dovey mess.
"You have a time machine," Donna realized, brightening. "Can you get me to the wedding on time?"
"Doesn't work like that," the Doctor said, shaking his head. "Can't cross into established events as a general rule, and it was established that you missed it. I can't go back on someone's personal timeline, or the paradox could make the universe unravel."
Donna winced at that. "Probably not a good idea, then?"
"No," Rose agreed. "Not a good idea. Hey, you can always reschedule, though."
"Yeah," Donna agreed with a somber note in her voice. "I just... I was so ready to be married."
"I know the feeling," Amy said, even though she didn't. She had, in fact, felt the exact opposite, and run away with the Doctor and Rose on the eve of her wedding because she hadn't felt ready. At all. But when the wedding had finally happened, it had been beautiful, and magical, and so very, very right to finally be married to Rory.
Rory who had waited two millennia to keep her safe. It had become much more real after that.
They spent hours on Women Wept. Rose tried not to get too attached to Rory, because it was probably going to be at least a few years before she saw him again. This Doctor was hilarious, and sort of gangly and awkward, and when he flirted with her, it was utterly impossible to mistake for the fondness that she had often wondered if it was when he wore leather, and for the simple interaction that seemed to ooze from his pinstriped form without even trying, with everyone that they encountered—she hadn't resented the Doctor's little affair with Reinette Poisson. Flirting, kissing, it was just what he did, and Rose was actually half convinced that, eighty percent of the time, he didn't even realize that he was flirting with people, or why they were flirting with him.
Utterly oblivious, she thought fondly.
But this Doctor, he seemed like the sort to pretend to be oblivious to get himself out of a tight spot. But he was very deliberate in his efforts to make her imagine black silk sheets and candlelight. Like this conversation.
"So, you should know that my handy-hand will be important."
"You know, the one that fell off the Sycorax ship?"
"What? But—where is it?"
"Currently? Sitting on Jack's desk in a jar in Cardiff. That's why it's important—he's going to use it to find you. And it'll give you some warning with Jenny. Keep it around for a bit, but this is important; this is why I'm telling you this—after I regenerate, you have to make sure that I remember to destroy it. I'll forget otherwise, and that could be bad."
"Time Lord flesh is a miracle, Rose. There are aliens out there that would tear the Earth apart for just one cell, and there is an entire hand, sitting on Jack's desk right now. But it's too important to destroy now, that'll mess up the timelines. So just remember to remind me to destroy it after I regenerate."
"Okay. But... what're you going to do with a hand, anyway?"
This was where the conversation rather abruptly took a sharp turn. His eyes darkened. "Oh, I have a lot of uses for my hands in general, Rose." To demonstrate this, he lifted his right hand from the beach, and, making a curled fist with all but two fingers, made an incredibly lewd twisting motion that left absolutely nothing about the uses that he was referring to unclear.
Rose choked on the tea that they had retrieved from the TARDIS, and he smirked at her. Sure, her and the Doctor flirted all the time, but never anything that explicit or suggestive.
"Really?" She confirmed, leaning into his shoulder.
"Rose, if you keep wearing those tight shirts, I'm going to break like that antique vase that I knocked over in Cardiff," he hummed.
"Two months," the Doctor breathed. "No, seriously. It was the dress that finally broke me, though. You're going to go to a little party-gala thing on earth, hosted by someone name Lazarus. I won't tell you what you have to deal with there, but the TARDIS will give you this gorgeous gold dress to wear. Trust me, you won't be the one taking it off of you."
"Oh?" She didn't even want to blush. It seemed so natural, listening to him talk dirty to her. Inviting him to talk dirty to her.
"I'll peel it off of you, and I'll kiss every inch of your skin. I had quite the oral fixation back then—you know what I'm talking about. I'll lick every part of you." He rolled her over, lay next to her on the beach, his tweed jacket long since shed from both of them, and Rose's zipped hoodie, both of them making a pile for their head to rest on side-by-side. He propped himself up on one elbow to hover over her. "I'll spread you open, and I'll lick you until you come apart under my tongue. And then, when you're absolutely begging for it, I'll take you."
"Doctor," she gasped out, her folds slickening with his words.
"Are you wet for me?" he murmured, in that sinfully dark tone. "You want me to take you to bed, right now."
"Yes," she snapped. Then, catching a look at him, added, "Please," knowing that it would probably appeal to that darker side of him, the side that he liked to pretend that he didn't have. The side of him that could deal out swift vengeance to those who were committing injustice.
"RORY! We're going back to the TARDIS," the Doctor hollered down the beach. Rory turned to stare at them.
"And I know that look! I'm staying right here, because I would rather not occupy the TARDIS while I know that you two are in the bedroom, getting up to... bedroom—things," Rory called back.
The Doctor laced his fingers through hers, and tugged her rather insistently back towards the TARDIS, through the halls and into his bedroom.
The Doctor hopped around Donna's wedding reception like a chipmunk on crack, and Rose and Amy leaned against the bar, watching.
"What's it feel like? Being here again?" Amy asked. "I mean, Rory doesn't just... up and change bodies, so I couldn't even imagine..."
"It's hard to explain," Rose said. "It's a fact of who he is—it's sort of bittersweet, and I won't deny that a part of me misses my first Doctor, and him," she gestured at the skinny boy in a suit, who was currently bouncing around the guests like he was high. "And always will. But at the same time, he is still the Doctor, no matter what face he wears, and I love the Doctor. And I won't deny that it's hard to watch him die. The first time it happened, I didn't really understand what was going on. But the second time... I knew that he was dying, and that killed me inside. But regeneration is far preferable to dying for real, so..."
"And what about Lake Silencio?" Amy asked lowly.
"Amy, I don't know what to think about Lake Silencio. I do like to think that he wouldn't actually do that to me, that there's a way around it. I doubt that he actually died. There was a fixed point there, and it had to be established. But if it isn't, then I suppose that I'll have to take the TARDIS and try to move on. Have some soul-destroying moping, and spend awhile on Jack's couch, because Jack Harkness has always been the only person who understands me, and then move on. We have to keep moving forward. But I'm not willing to accept Lake Silencio at face value without further evidence."
"So, what's past-you and him and Rory up to?"
"Well, if I've got my estimations of time right, Rory's on a beach, a planet called Women Wept. Past-me and the Doctor are currently getting... busy."
"You had sex?" Amy asked, astonished. Some part of her felt like past-Rose was almost cheating on her current Doctor if she did that.
"No," Rose laughed. "But it wouldn't have been bad if we had. He's still him, and I'm still me. But no. He got me all worked up by talking dirty, took me into his room and refused to have sex with me. Convinced me that I wanted to wait until it was his first time with me, too. But you know how he is with rules, too. There are lots of ways around that."
Amy tilted her head in agreement with that sentiment. Then something about what Rose had just said clicked in her brain. "You mean... you and him, you weren't—you know—at this point?" She pointed at the pinstriped Doctor across the room to acknowledge her question.
"Nope," Rose said. "He's sort of... oblivious. And commitment-phobic. Lots of handholding, excessively clingy hugs and so much flirting that it would make your head spin. But that was about it. Longing stares when we thought that the other wasn't looking."
"Um... wow." Amy hadn't seen that one coming. With the way that this Doctor had greeted Rose, it had seemed like a foregone conclusion that they were romantically involved. She said so, and Rose laughed.
"We were romantically involved," she said. "Just... not acknowledging it. But we were definitely dating. Even now, people always thought that we were married. But it won't be long now, thank god for my younger self's tortured libido. Of course, older-him just gave her a bunch of advice on how to break his resistance," Rose waved her hand at the Doctor, who had moved on to borrowing someone's mobile, she assumed to look up the company that Donna temped for.
Amy snorted. "Only you two," she muttered. Rose straightened—the Doctor was watching the video of Donna disappearing from the aisle, and Rose knew from their story that the Doctor was going to realize that the bio-dampener that he'd given Donna wasn't going to protect her from being followed, and all hell was about to break loose.
Rose had to admit that he had a point. She wanted her first time with him to be his first time with her, convoluted as that statement was.
Thankfully, he explained— carefully undressing both her and then himself— that left a lot of options open. Which was why she was currently lying naked in his bed, gripping the bars of the headboard as he held her thighs open with the firm grip of one hand on her inner thigh, exposing her centre to his incredibly skilled tongue and lips that laved her folds and clit and played her like a well-tuned instrument.
She gasped as he pulled his mouth away from her clit to smirk up the length of her body, before smoothly sliding two fingers inside of her, and completing the twisting gesture that he had used earlier. Her hips bucked against his hold.
With any other man, she was sure that she would have been faintly embarrassed to be spread out like this, one leg twisted open as far as it could, almost perpendicular to her hip, and the other resting on his shoulder. But she wasn't. There was nothing shameful about this, his fingers tracing her most intimate areas. She reached down and locked her fingers into his hair, hoping to pull his delicious tongue back to her centre.
It didn't matter that he was wearing a different face than he had been this morning. It didn't matter that she had nearly been torn from him today, that she had just lost all access to her mother. None of it mattered except for the heavenly feeling of his tongue on her folds.
He nibbled on her clit and sent her over the edge, but didn't stop licking—just continued through her orgasm. She collapsed bonelessly against the bed, any tension that had been in her muscles running out of her limbs like water, and he still didn't stop licking. As she recovered from her orgasm, his tongue on her gradually eased out of the 'pleasant and floaty' territory, and back into bone-melting pleasure before she came again.
Donna's upset when she had discovered Lance's treachery was depressing. She had loved that man, and he had used her and taken her for granted. The Doctor called the TARDIS, and started behaving with a disturbing amount of cheeriness, and Rose and Amy carefully comforted a sobbing Donna as the Doctor put together the pieces and the Racnoss called them back to earth.
Donna and Rose were both grabbed from behind them, and the Doctor gave Amy an assessing glance before grabbing her hand and dragging her along. He hid them both under the droid cloaks, and completely lost it when the Racnoss realized that Donna and Lance weren't the only ones with liquid Huon particles in their bodies, and that Rose's were much more advanced.
The Doctor, for his part, stared with equal astonishment. Amy, who had seen Rose do the glowing routine before, was less shocked. She prodded the Doctor into action by explaining that it was integrated into Rose's cellular structure. Lance fell into the hole, and Rose swung into the Doctor's arms like something out of a Disney movie. Donna, on the other hand, swung too low and landed on the ground below the strut that they were using.
Rose and Donna had had to stop the Doctor from burning and flooding them all alive, and they dropped Donna off at home in time for Christmas dinner.
"I guess this is goodbye," Donna said.
"I suppose. You could always... come with us. Me and Rose, I mean." He draped his arms over Rose and Amy's shoulders. "I don't get to keep Amy, but Rose'll be along soon."
"No," Donna said, catching her breath. "No, I don't think so. I mean... you're amazing, but you terrify me. You made it snow. And you saved my life. But you keep blondie around, because I think that you need her. But... you could come in. All of you. My mum cooks enough for an army, so we can definitely feed you."
"I really don't think..." The Doctor started.
"Thanks, Donna," Rose interrupted smoothly. "But we really don't have the time. We've got to meet older-you and get everyone back into the proper timelines."
"What she said," the Doctor agreed with a jerk of his head.
The two TARDISes materialized across the street from each other, and the six occupants, between the two ships, all filed out. Then Amy tackled Rory into the sort of kiss that shouldn't be seen by others, and shoved him into the proper TARDIS without further ado, sending the older versions of Rose and the Doctor into hysterics at the predictability of it all. Then the Doctor stuck his head into the TARDIS.
"Oi! No snogging in the console room, and put your clothes back on! Get into the bedroom, I even got rid of the bunk beds for you! Even though bunk beds are cool," he added.
Older Rose was still snickering as she crossed to the proper Doctor and took his hand. "Hey, you."
"Hey," the Doctor said softly. Then, smirking, he turned to the younger version of Rose. "Remember what I told you about Lazarus," he murmured. "Now, go on."
She threw herself at her Doctor, and he caught her tightly in his arms. "I thought that I had lost you," he breathed desperately.
"What did I tell you? They keep trying to split us up, but they never, ever will."
So, this is a mostly pointless Doomsday fix-it. By the hints dropped by older Rose, Amy and Eleven, Rose is obviously still travelling with the Doctor come Series Six, which is when this takes place according to that timeline. Post-Day of the Moon, but pre-The Rebel Flesh. The Doctor (and Rose, because he tells her everything) know that there is something wrong with Amy, and have suspicions, but they haven't gone to the acid factory yet. I was re-watching the Impossible Astronaut and Day of the Moon, and I was inspired by the Doctor catching River off the side of the building. Why couldn't he also catch Rose?