Between the Lines
A/N: Yet another distraction from the stories I haven't finished yet. This one, however, won't be too long. Probably about . . . mmm, 6 chapters or so? Maybe even as little as 5. We'll see.
It's funny . . . I never think of eleven/Rose as one of my ships, but somehow I've already written two separate things for them. Huh.
He looked at her, holding her hand as the TARDIS faded. As his-the Doctor's-ship began to disappear, something began to worry at the back of his mind, but he ignored it, focusing on Rose's pain.
But when the TARDIS left, the Doctor-the not Doctor-realized he had made a horrible mistake.
He didn't remember falling, but somehow he was on the sand, screaming.
She called him Doctor. Somehow that made it hurt less.
"Rose," he ground out, closing his eyes as the pain hit him again. A terrible pain that crept up into his skull and began to drive him mad.
"What's wrong? What's going on?"
He could vaguely hear Jackie screaming in the background.
"TARDIS . . . was keeping me alive. Time Lord's . . . mind . . . not meant to be in a human body."
"Are you dying?" She was straight to the point, his Rose. Always asking the right questions.
"You're leaving me. Again." Her voice was too bitter, too hurt. He had done this to her, made her tired.
"I'm sorry. I'm so sorry." He pushed the pain away from his mind, leaving it to wreak havoc on his body so that he could concentrate on Rose.
"You always say that," she said sadly.
"How can I help?" Finally her voice broke, and he could hear the love that was killing them both.
He fumbled, reaching deep into his pocket. He pulled it out . . . it was a ring. Glowing slightly.
"I . . . we . . . got this for you long ago. Before the olympics. Wanted to . . . never did. I . . . he, gave this to me." Trembling, he reached out and placed it in Rose's hand.
Rose was crying, but her tears were silent. He drank in the sight of her.
"Find someone else, Rose. Be happy. For me."
She nodded, and he couldn't tell if she was lying or not. Did it matter? For a moment, he lost track of her as his eyes rolled back. He would have to succumb to the pain soon.
"The universe is cruel," Rose whispered.
"We . . . we had a good time, didn't we?" He had to know it wasn't all for nothing.
"We had the best," she murmured. The last thing he saw was her smile.
"I was wrong."
Rose ran a hand through her hair and twisted around. This world didn't have swiveling chairs, and it was getting on her nerves. "About what, mum?"
"Before. Years ago, the first time I came here, when I said that traveling with the Doctor, you wouldn't be you anymore."
Rose racked her brains. "Oh. You mean that day."
"Rose, you're not you anymore. My Rose, she's . . . gone."
"I suppose so." Rose twisted the pen in her fingers, holding back a sigh.
Her mum hesitated. "You could come visit, you know."
"That's all right."
Finally she left. Rose dropped the pen, burying her head in her hands. The tears, as much as she wanted them to, wouldn't come. They never would.
After the human Doctor had died, Rose had spent three weeks on that beach. Three weeks, digging a tomb and building a makeshift TARDIS out of wood to mark the grave. It was rather sentimental of her, she supposed, though all of the resources had come from Pete.
A month after that, she had left Pete's and found a place of her own, a job of her own. In a shop. Her ultimate goal, she told herself, was to save up so she could travel.
She had considered trying to get the dimension cannon to work, but deep down, she knew it wasn't an option. Not without tearing the universe apart. She had half-heartedly asked Torchwood, but the entire project had been buried.
And Rose was losing herself. She could feel herself draining away, as day after day she hung up clothes and helped people check out. The dark was growing.
Her mum was right . . . Jackie had been wrong before. The Doctor hadn't been turning her into some stranger . . . he had been making her more of herself. Without him, she was becoming nothing.
"I got your call. Not exactly subtle." He walked into the light with a swagger. Rose held back in the shadows. This wasn't her Jack, and she would have to be careful to get him to cooperate. "Coincidentally, how did you manage a call through the Time Vortex?"
"I have a history with Time Agents," Rose said softly. "Ever hear of the Dimension Cannon project?"
"Ooh, that was 'bout seven years ago, wasn't it? Never did get involved with that. I'm a rogue, in case you haven't heard."
"Believe me, I know." She stepped into the dim circle of light from the streetlamp. Jack's gaze immediately turned slightly lustful. "Would you believe me if I told you there were parallel universes?"
"S'pose I do. What did you want me for?"
"Need a partner?"
He smirked. "What kind of partner?"
"The kind that keeps you from getting yourself killed."
He gave her a once-over. "Maybe not exactly my type, but you'd do. You still haven't really said. How did you know who I was and to call me?"
"Ah." He was intrigued. She could see that much. "So what, you want to tag along for the ride?"
"If there's a way to get back to my universe, it'll be through the Time Vortex. You're my best hope."
"You'd need a Vortex Manipulator."
"Then get me one," she said impatiently.
"All right, no need to snap. You're not a very up person, are you?"
Rose hesitated. "Years ago, I was."
"Well c'mon then, stranger. Maybe some day I can teach you how to smile."
She offered him a bitter one, for that. "One can only hope. If you don't mind, I'd like to get of here rather quickly. I may or may not have broken into Torchwood."
He laughed. "I think I might like you. So what's your name?"
Rose considered. "Bad Wolf."
"That supposed to sound scary?"
"If you're scared, then yes."
Jack gave her another appraising look. "Well then. Come along, Wolf. Let's go hunt some little goats, shall we?"
He raised an eyebrow. "You call yourself Bad Wolf but don't even know the story of the Three Little Goats?"
"Right. That one," Rose murmured. She reached out, taking Jack's hand. "As I said, we should go."
As he held onto her tightly, programming his Vortex Manipulator, Rose realized she had forgotten to say goodbye to her mum. The dark part of her was too strong for her to do anything about it, and what was left of Rose Tyler was swept away into the Time Vortex.
"Wolf, if you die, it's not my fault."
"Never said it would be!" she shouted back. "Just pull on that switch!"
"It'll electrocute you!"
"Then you'll die from falling!"
"Do it, or we're all dead!"
The electricity ran through the wires, and Bad Wolf jumped. Three stories was enough to kill her, but if she had aimed right, garbage would break her fall. It barely did.
Jack came running up. "You are the luckiest girl I've ever known."
"No, I'm just that good." Bad Wolf brushed herself off. "So did we fry it?"
"No more alien transmissions from this thing," Jack said, gesturing to the building.
"Now, can we steal the money?" Bad Wolf gave Jack a scathing look. He held up his hands in protest to her anger. "We do need to eat and sleep, you know."
She sighed. "All right. Please, let's make this one quick."
"You got it." Jack smiled obligingly, and once more wondered to himself when Bad Wolf had become the boss, and he had become just the companion along for the ride. Not that it was a bad thing. The woman had a propensity for finding trouble and for working herself out of it that Jack had never seen in another human before. They had literally saved worlds, and that was definitely an ego booster. Still didn't pay as much as being a con man had though.
As they walked along the street, Bad Wolf suddenly stopped.
"What is it?"
"Chips. I smell chips."
"Forget about it. Let's go."
Jack only shook his head as he followed her. Moments like those, he could almost see some form of a happier girl, but all too quickly she melted away before his eyes.
"We should have some fun."
"Fun?" Bad Wolf turned to him, her lips almost quirking into a smile.
"C'mon." Jack took her hand and dragged her along, searching the darkening streets. "Dancing. It'll be good for you."
"I don't dance," she said stiffly.
"Then I'll teach you," Jack said patiently.
"I didn't say I couldn't, I said I don't."
Jack pursed his lips. "Then you just come along for the ride. I want to dance, and dance I will."
"You sound like Doctor Seuss," she muttered.
Something about what he said made her stiffen. Jack ignored it and pulled her into the club. The music was slow, unfortunately, but he figured it would be easier to get her to dance that way. He pulled her in through the masses of people. Bad Wolf moved haltingly with him, clearly uneasy, her eyes darting around the room as if looking for an escape.
"It's just dancing," he said soothingly.
"Last time we danced, it was next to Big Ben," she mumbled.
There was a story behind that one, but Jack didn't bite. Instead he slipped in closer, invading her personal bubble.
"So, am I the reason you're trying so hard to get back to the parallel universe?"
She stared at him for a full five seconds before laughing-actually laughing. Jack was stunned at the change, and how beautiful it made her. Though it was still tinged with a bitterness that never went away. "Nice try, Jack. But we're just friends."
"Mmm, so it's someone else?" Instantly she was shut off again, the smile locked away.
"I didn't say that."
"Tell me I'm lying."
"It's complicated." Bad Wolf looked away, effectively ending the conversation.
"What am I like, over there?" Jack asked curiously.
Her eyes caught his again, considering him slowly. "Rather similar, I suppose. A little more . . . promiscuous, but a little nicer."
"So which one do you like more?" he smirked.
Bad Wolf shrugged. "I know my Jack better."
If he hadn't just seen her actually smile, it wouldn't have bugged him. "Well, maybe you should be trying to find out more," he said snidely. That stopped her.
"I'm sorry. It's been . . . rough. You've been getting the worst of me."
Normally Jack would've responded with a sarcastic comment, but something about the weariness dripping off her shoulders made him keep his mouth shut and just dance with this strange girl in a club far removed from both of their times.