Here's the second chapter, I hope you like it.
And Jammy Dodgers to readers and reviewers!
II. STILL HOME
Now he's moving close
My heart's in my throat.
I won't say a word,
But I think he knows
That I've hardly slept
Since the night he left.
His body always kept
Mine inside of it.
Keep the nightmares out,
Give me mouth to mouth.
I can't live without ya,
Take me to your house
Take me, take me, home.
Five minutes he said. Right tosser, him. It had been way longer than that, Rose was absolutely certain and right now she was getting sick of waiting. The momentary promise of adventure and the ensuing exhilaration had long since evaporated and now she was bored out of her mind.
Moving hurt so Rose was stuck sitting in the same rotting spot as the raggedy man had left her in. By now she had taken in every corner of the room which appeared to be the oddest mixture of a library of sorts and a swimming pool. Whatever this place was it certainly wasn't normal.
Yet nothing within the vicinity of normal had occurred in the past couple of – what – hours was it? Could've been days, months or even years. Time seemed to act strangely in this place. Ever since she had encountered the strange man who had the ability to change his face time seemed to have stretched on endlessly. But not in a bad way.
Rose couldn't really explain it but she got the feeling that rules bent around this strange man. Or that he bent them to his liking. It was difficult to pinpoint exactly.
However time passed excruciatingly slowly in the room where she'd been abandoned. Water was dripping down the walls, she was soaked. And she desperately needed a trip to the loo. With a self-pitying whimper she finally mustered up the energy to get up. Blimey, it hurt.
Whenever the bloke came back – if he ever did – she would give him a good bit of her mind, she would. True Jackie Tyler style. And occasionally her mum could be awfully frightening. Thinking of Jackie hurt. Maybe being the responsible one for once had turned out to be a big mistake on Rose's part – accidentally running off with a right lunatic in the middle of the night. Perhaps not the best idea she'd ever had. And still a part of her didn't really mind, though. Strangely enough she trusted this man, this strange, whimsical bugger who had appeared out of no where and whisked her off somewhere unknown only to go swanning off, leaving her behind. She was angry, yes, but she also trusted him to come back for her, eventually.
Rose ran her hand over the golden wall, almost a caress. A soft hum filtered through her mind. Soothingly. It was strangely familiar though – like she'd felt it before. Suddenly Rose found herself trying to consciously reach out into the unknown, to respond to the presence in her mind. Maybe that would provide her with some of the answers she required. Wanted. Needed.
'It's alien?' Rose asked. Obviously, she thought.
'Yes.' A heavy northern accent replied.
'Are you alien?'
'Yes. Is that alright?'
The voices echoed through her mind. Not quite like a memory because she could never remember exact words, at least not entire phrases yet she was entirely certain that the event had occurred. Perhaps not so long ago. Maybe centuries ago. Rose didn't know. She only knew that she had been there and as had the man with the changing face.
Other moments, not really memories, followed shortly. Filled her mind and crept into every nook and corner. All things that were, all things that had been and all that ever could be. Endless threats weaved around her, twisting and turning, intertwining and untangling. Time was laid out before her, within her grasp and so frail and fragile.
Suddenly it all made sense. All the memories settled into the right place, every adventure and every journey among the stars. Holding hands. Running.
She was the Bad Wolf, who created herself. She was Rose Tyler and she was not supposed to be here, on the TARDIS. Not yet at least because Rose Tyler was not supposed to run off with the Doctor for another few months and not with this Doctor. The many faced man was no longer her Doctor, her wonderful Doctor with big ears, then the one with the great hair.
Now she had been left behind by a Doctor with a chin. And no eyebrows.
A small smile crept over her lips, barely there as she suddenly realised the situation. The Doctor had crossed timelines in his last moments and in her youthful naïveté and stubbornness she had boarded the TARDIS untimely.
Time could be rewritten. He used to always say that, her Doctor. Would theirs be rewritten now?
All pain forgotten she followed the route the Doctor had taken earlier. He would know what to do. He always did.
And suddenly they were running again. Hand in hand as they always had. A part of Rose hoped it would be forever, that they would keep on running through the stars and never be apart again. Even though she was able to set aside her worries of their time (his past, her initial future) it was still there at the back of her mind as they ran to save the Earth once more, this time from Prisoner Zero and the Atraxi.
Amelia Pond was suddenly Amy Pond, a kissogram in a very short skirt. The twinge of jealousy she had felt caused her to stay even closer to the Doctor. That also meant that for once she didn't wander off – the former Doctor would have been immensely proud whereas the new one was too busy saving the Earth from incineration.
She helped, yes she did. And once again the Earth was saved.
Now they were on the moon, looking down at the magnificent orb where she had grown up. Where she had also met the Doctor.
'You've got questions.' His wasn't one. Watching him during another adventure had made her realise that this one was almost as chatty as the old one and still as brilliant.
'January 1st 2005. It was you, wasn't it? The drunk in the shadows. You were saying goodbye.'
'I tried to, yes. Figured I owed you as much.' A solemn look had settled on his otherwise incredible youthful features. For someone who was nearing a millennium in age he still looked quite smart.
'I told you. I'm never gonna leave you.'
'Doctor.' She countered. That silenced him for a while and it made her question her timing. But then again – timing had never been their thing. Soon she would have to go back to the blasted estate where nothing happened and even though this young version of herself had yet to meet the all-nose-and-ear Doctor, this Doctor with his chin and no eyebrows had become dear to her.
'You know who I am. You remember.' His words were cautious and almost sounded painful. It seemed that he, too, was reluctant of letting her go. Maybe time could be rewritten. But not those times, never those times. Talk about a dilemma.
Hand-holding. God, she missed it. And chips. She missed having chips with him.
'New Earth.' Pause. 'Apple Grass.' She smiled fondly at the memory and if she tried, really tried she could still smell it. That trip was one of her favourites. New Earth, New-new-new-new-new-new-new-new-new-new-new-new-ne w-new-new New York. New-new Doctor. Now she had another new-new-new one and she loved him just the same.
'Canary Wharf?' He asked, the bitterness evident in his tone.
'And Krop Tor, the Olympics.' She paused. 'Bad Wolf Bay'. Even just speaking of it caused her ridiculous single heart to clench painfully. 'Both times.'
'Rose I'm so very sorry.' It was easy to tell that he meant it. Like her other Doctor, the one with the brilliant grin and pinstriped suit could attempt to conceal the depths of his burdened mind behind all his boisterous ramblings. But underneath it all he still literally carried the weight of the universe.
'Oh shut it. 'M here now aren't I?' It was a petty attempt to light his burden, share the load but she did it because she was Rose. And so very human.
'Yeah.' There was a long silence as both contemplated what was the right thing to say. Goodbyes would come soon enough, she was certain of that and she also knew that the Doctor didn't do goodbyes, not really. More than 900 years of hurtling himself through time and space, companions in tow and he never once said properly goodbye. Except. He did with her. Twice.
Burned up a sun just to say goodbye. And then he came to see her one last time before his regeneration. It was still all a blur, what had happened to her. She could remember the splitting headache, absolutely.
'Doctor, how am I here? Last thing I remember is…' Trailing off, she looked to him for answers. If all her memories of this one last splendid adventure were to be locked away, stowed away in the dusty corner of her mind, the least he could do was explain properly.
He sighed. Unable to find the right words, it seemed, which was so unlike him. 'You witnessed a regeneration you weren't supposed to.'
'Mucked things up again, yeah?'
'Timey-wimey, wibbly-wobbly. Oh and a bit spacey-wacey. Not in a bad way, mind.' He smiled weekly.
'No?' She did, too. Cocking her head to the side her tongue pushed into her cheek instinctively, the smile he loved the most. At least the last words exchanged between them before he took her back wouldn't be laden with sadness, not entirely.
'Definitely not.' And as they had done so many times before he hugged her. They were right, them. The fantastic Doctor and his brilliant Rose Tyler, entirely unstoppable as they ran among the stars in their blue box. Well his, really but who cared about technicalities? This new body, although not as straw thin as his former, fit just as perfectly against hers. Right idiot she was, probably, getting her hopes up. Staying with the Doctor, if only for a while was what she wanted.
Eventually he let go of her – or she let go off him, no one could tell. It was reluctantly, mind.
'But how can I remember it all now? I didn't when we first met. When you were all nose and ears.' Maybe she had travelled with him, with this Doctor, for a while before he put her right back there, in London, only so that she could be picked up by a younger him.
'Oi! But as I said; it's all very timey-wimey. Quite impossible, actually. But I like impossible. One might think… Oh… Oh!' Something flickered in his ancient eyes, quickly it came and just as quickly it was gone but his entire demeanour had changed. Whereas she was still tense with fear of goodbyes the boyish attitude had returned – full force at that. Without another word he gallivanted off to the TARDIS, humming to himself before popping inside. Briefly she feared he would leave her right there on the moon but soon he came back out, sonic firmly in hand.
'Doctor?' Raising an eyebrow she gazed at him questioningly. Straightforward had never been his way. With a flic of his wrist and the press of a button a familiar whirring sound filled the air. He just soniced her, cheeky chin man.
'Oh that is brilliant!' The Doctor exclaimed and then proceeded to pocket his sonic screwdriver with a satisfied smirk firmly in place.
'What is?' Rose was getting slightly agitated. Sometimes when he left her in the dark like that she really felt like slapping him – Jackie Tyler style. He'd like that, he would. Without a word the Doctor grabbed her hand (it still fit hers perfectly) and dragged her into the blue box that was smaller on the outside. The interior had changed, shifted a bit around if you like. Rose liked it alright even though she still loved the old TARDIS, too. Like TARDIS, like Doctor she supposed. Loved them both, no matter what they looked like.
Letting go of her hand the Doctor swanned off to the console and started pulling levers and pushing buttons. A soft, comforting whirring filled Rose's mind. Even though she had always felt a connection to the magnificent ship it seemed enhanced, somehow. Impossibly so.
'Oh come on, old girl. Just this ' angrily he pushed one button. 'One' Circles whirled about the screen. 'Favour'. Finally the circular symbols stilled and whatever they were spelling out, it seemed to please the Doctor
'Well hello' He greeted the incomprehensible message. Rose just looked on, wondering what on New Earth could be happening in his busy mind. Superior senses was something he had always bragged about. Now she would love it if he were to share what he had found out.
'Something happened to me, didn't it? When you regenerated. I felt sorta, I don't know, like I was being torn apart. ' The Doctor didn't answer straightaway. Instead he turned to look at her, eyes boring into hers. For the longest time she attempted to discern some sort of meaning from his facial expression but he was giving her nothing. Although he appeared to be smiling, she could still see thoughts piling up in his head, little pieces of a seemingly unsolvable puzzle. The whirring in her mind intensified and slowly turned into a song.
As the pause seemed to drag one Rose allowed the song to fill her. Perhaps she could find the required answers in the wordless melody. And somehow it came to her. Maybe she conjured up the answer herself, or maybe the TARDIS gave it to her. But suddenly she knew and the truth hurt.
'I'm not her, am I? 'M not Rose Tyler.' At her words the impassive mask of the Doctor became vibrant once more. A wide grin spread across his face and he sped forward. Within a few steps he was standing right in front of her, almost no space between them.
Breaking all boundaries his hands framed her youthful face, locking her in place.
'Oh but you are! Except you're so much more. Ever heard of a biological human metacrisis? 'Course you have; dated one in fact. Sort of. Snogged one at least. Sorry, apparently I rant when I get excited.' He smiled. She frowned. 'Biological Time Lord Metacrisis? No no, that's not it.'
Letting go of her face, his hands clapped together elatedly.
'Oh that's magnificent! Biological Tardis Metacrisis, of sorts anyway. The explosive regenerative energy must have hit you. Normally that should be immensely dangerous, fatal even. But the TARDIS must have recognised you – your connection – thus creating you but still saving her heart and the past you. Oh this is fantastic! Fabuliso!' He paused. 'Not saying that again.'
Still rambled, then. Perplexingly so.
Despite desperately wanting to scream out she kept it in. So she was Rose Tyler and she wasn't. Like the other Doctor, the one she was supposed to spend her life with in Pete's World, she was a clone of the real her. Exactly what that meant, she didn't know. Strangely enough Rose could remember Bad Wolf Bay the second time around, remember the frustration when she realised he was going to leave her there with a clone, a substitute for the real him. Was that was she was now, some poor substitute? But then she remembered what the other Doctor had told her, when she realised that he was still him. Did that mean she was still her?
Blimey. Timey-wimey indeed.
'But I'm still not…' her. The shop girl he had initially told to run for her life. Seeing her immediate distress the Doctor stepped forward and wrapped his arms around her comfortingly. One hand soothingly caressed her back.
'Shh… just shh. I'm not me – well I am but I'm not, see? No? New face and all but I still remember everything. Feel everything.' He lightly touched her face then took her hand. They still fit. Perfectly so.
'Rose Tyler and the Doctor in the Tardis,' he spoke the words with conviction.
'As it should be?' Fears pushed aside she managed a smile, the sort she knew he liked. Tongue in cheek and all.
'As it should be.' He echoed. Rightly so.
And a pair of them in each universe it seemed. Maybe the Universe wasn't cruel all time. Mischievous grin in place, she gently brushed his floppy fringe aside thus freeing his face entirely. Blimey, lots of chin there. But it suited him in a strange way. She still couldn't help but notice his peculiar choice of wardrobe, though. Lovingly she giggled.
'It looks a bit daft. The bowtie.'
With a puzzled look – clearly he loved it dearly – he fiddled with the bowtie. 'Bowties are cool. Very cool. I'm cool.' His brows knitted together in worry. 'You don't love it?
'Well…' she drawled teasingly.
'Rose Tyler – that is mean.' And it was but just a bit. Nothing he couldn't handle after saving the world. Again.
'Oh but Doctor. Does it need saying?' She paused a little longer than necessary, just to unnerve him slightly. 'You know, I think I liked the old one better. Less whiny.'
'Rude.' He commented wryly.
'Very rude, me.'
'And very, very naughty. I can think of thing, though. One thing the old me was rubbish at.'
'Yeah?' Even though, just moments before, she had been in control of the situation Rose suddenly found nerves creeping up on her. She might be the Bad Wolf, part human, part TARDIS (whatever that meant) but this part of her was still very, very human. Her body quivered slightly at his close presence. Nose touched nose.
'Yeah.' And he kissed her then, no flailing hands. Hers slipped through the scant space that remained between them still, came around his shoulders and pulled him close. Still taller than her, quite a bit, she rose to greet him gladly. The kiss was brief, barely touch-and-go, but when he made to pull back she latched on more firmly, finally sealing that bond between them.
And for the first time they shared a kiss that was all Doctor and all Rose. No Cassandra, no time vortex. No onlooker.
At some point someone grabbed a firm hold of someone's hand and pulled that someone to a bedroom. Their hands fit perfectly, still. So did their lips. (And, unsurprisingly other bits, too).
And even though there were places to be seen, empires to be toppled, worlds to be saved and people to pick up (Amy Pond would probably not appreciate waiting for too long) but in that moment it was about the two of them.
Soon they would run, hand in hand, through the stars.
Quite right, too.
Thank you for reading and please let me know how I did.