AN: Sequel to 'Ghosts' and 'Three's a Crowd'. This particular one-shot was partly inspired by LN29's "Silence" over on Teaspoon.

Bad Wolf III: The Sound of Screams by Alexannah

It never stopped.

It wasn't being kept prisoner by the Master that hurt the Doctor. It wasn't being aged, though his body felt frail and his joints ached. It wasn't being kicked around.

It was the separation from Bad Wolf. The inability to hear Rose's soothing voice in his mind. The longer he was parted from her, the less he was able to think of Bad Wolf as really his Rose, and his hearts broke a little more each day.

But worse even than that, it was the screams.

His TARDIS was in pain. The Master had ripped out her core and turned it inside-out, made her sustain a rip in the fabric of the universe that was her foundation, her source of power. Like being force-fed poison.

She had no human voice that could break, hers would never falter as long as she was still alive. And so the agonising screams were never-ending. He could feel, hear, her pain, always. And the screams were Rose's.

There was nothing he could do. Every moment he wished he could do something to stop the pain, to comfort her, but there was nothing. His words, their telepathic link, were useless now. The pain was too great a barrier for him to reach her. He had no way of destroying the paradox machine until it was all over, until the Master had been stopped. Only then would she be free.

The long months passed, and the screams progressed steadily, until one day he noticed they were quieter. Surely the Master hadn't done something else to her, surely their link wasn't weakening—it was always there, even when they were millennia apart—surely her pain wasn't lessening, if it was why wasn't the paradox? No, the Doctor realised what it meant. The TARDIS was dying, and so was Bad Wolf. His Rose, lost once more.

No! He had to save her. Had to do something. But what? There was nothing he could do. The Master pulled all the strings. Martha was out there, spreading the word 'Doctor', but what if it was too late? What if the countdown didn't come soon enough? The paradox machine would break if the TARDIS died, but he feared she would stay dead—no way to bring her back.

Hang on, Rose, he pleaded, desperate to break through, hoping against hope she could hear him. Just a little while longer, my love, I promise you. Cross my hearts. Please hold on, I need you.

He got no response except the continued cries. Whether she had heard him or not, he had no way of knowing.

The paradox machine was dismantled. Every part of the TARDIS was back where it should be. The Doctor ran a hand lovingly down the column, drew a deep breath and dared to ask. "Rose?"

For an achingly long moment, he received no reply. He feared the Bad Wolf programme had been damaged. But finally, she spoke.

"Doctor. Oh, Doctor."

"I'm here, I'm here," he murmured. "I'm so sorry."

"Don't let me go," Bad Wolf said, sounding choked up. "Please, Doctor. Don't let me go again."

"I won't, I promise. You're safe now. He can't touch you again."

The Doctor felt the desire to wrap his arms around her and clutch her close, though this was somewhat impractical, so he had to settle for stroking the console. He received a ghost embrace in gratitude and smiled, a tear running down his cheek.

"Don't leave me," Bad Wolf whispered, her voice still shaken.

"I won't. I promise. I won't leave you," the Doctor vowed. "Never, ever again."

The End

To be continued in Something Blue