This is based on a story started by Krazy Ky-Sta Hatter, who is, by the way, brilliant. Seriously, check out her stuff. Anyway, I loved the idea, so I wanted to try it out for myself. There will be some parts, especially in the first few chapters, that bear a strong resemblance to what she wrote, especially conversations with the Doctor. I had to fight to inject some originality between scripts I love and a story I love. Hoping I was able to achieve some kind of balance. Allons-y!
Rose Tyler waited patiently for her father to notice her. The fact that he had been in the middle of what had promised to be a long debriefing when he'd suddenly forgotten about her was a matter for concern, but lately, she'd been getting used to it.
As near as she could figure, it had begun sometime shortly after she'd said goodbye to the Doctor, on the worst day of her life. It had taken far longer for her to realize what was actually happening. She still had moments of uncertainty when she questioned whether the whole world was going mad around her, or if it was just her.
She was…fading. That was the best way she could describe it. It had started in small ways, people not noticing she'd entered a room, or leaving her out of conversations. She'd started to notice there was something odd going on when the security issues had started. Her badge to get into Torchwood had become…unreliable. Twice is coincidence, but three times… The third time she'd asked to be buzzed in, she had been horrified when the secretary first claimed there was no Rose Tyler in employee records. The girl had been quick to correct herself, but the damage had already been done. Since then, things had happened with greater frequency and severity. Rose had gotten used to phone conversations being cut off after a slight confused pause on the other end, people walking into her in hallways without apology, and leaving meetings while she was midsentence with puzzled looks on their faces. Now, years later, she often had to resort to throwing things to even try to carry on a half-way lucid conversation.
She had checked the archives to see if there was any hint of contact with hostile life forms that could have caused this but had found none. She had tried getting physicals, but her appointments kept getting cancelled, and then her file had been tossed completely. She'd stopped trying after that. After all, it wasn't a physical thing, from what she could tell. She still felt fine…physically. And as far as she was able to tell, she was still corporeal, she could still interact. There was just something that kept other people from keeping her in their minds. The nearest she could liken it to was the perception filter on the TARDIS, the way people just sort of looked away if they weren't supposed to see it.
"Rose?" She pulled herself out of her thoughts at the sound of her father's voice. She looked up to see him holding up a yellow post it note that had "Rose Tyler is your daughter!" written on it in his untidy scrawl. "It happened again, didn't it?"
"Yeah," she said with a shrug. "It's alright. Not your fault."
Pete sighed. "I just wish we could figure it out. Um…what…what're you…what were we talking about?"
"Debriefing on the Clargon incident," she supplied promptly. "I think we covered the major points, though."
Pete glanced down at the file on his desk. "Right…right. All sorted, then?"
"Of course, Director," Rose replied with a cheeky grin. "We done, then? I'd like to head home and get some sleep."
"Yeah, of course," Pete said, rising quickly and giving her a tight hug. "Good night, Rose. We'll work on it more tomorrow."
"Night, Dad," she said, a little sadly. They wouldn't work on it tomorrow. The times that he could keep her in his mind long enough to even try were getting fewer and further between.
She drove home and entered her flat, grateful once again that she lived alone. No one to forget her without anyone to remember.
She toed off her trainers and flopped onto her sofa. As usual, when she was alone, her thoughts turned to the Doctor. She wondered what he would do, if he was here. Would he know what was happening? Would he be able to fix it? Or would he forget her too? The idea that he could forget her, everything that they'd been through, from the Nestene to the supernova, made her nauseous.
"Don't forget me, Doctor," she whispered, and tears began to spill down her cheeks.
Before she could really indulge in a proper cry, she was blinded by a sudden burst of golden light filling the flat. She threw an arm over her face, and reached quickly for her gun, pointing it at the source of the strange singing that had accompanied the light. As suddenly as it came, though, it was gone. She slowly lowered her arm and stared at the figure in front of her. Her jaw dropped.
"Finally," the figure said. "Do you have any idea how hard it was to find you?"
Rose simply continued to stare blankly at…herself.
"Okay, yeah, I know this is a bit of a…shock," the girl said, eyeing her warily and raising her hands. "I'll explain everything, I swear…but do you think you could lower the gun? I'm not entirely sure what it will do to me, but I'm not exactly anxious to find out either."
Rose lowered the gun and closed her mouth. The…other her visibly relaxed as Rose's mind scrambled. The girl was her, even down to the outfit she was wearing at the moment. Alternate universe? No. Travel between worlds was impossible. True, the Doctor had said that before, but she was reasonably sure that if he'd been able to, he would have come back for her properly. Future version? Possible. A bit unlikely, but that pretty much summed up her life. Product of a complete mental breakdown? Probably.
"No, you haven't gone round the bend," the other girl said after a moment. "It's a bit…complicated."
"Uncomplicate it," Rose ordered.
"Ah…right," the other girl said. "Well…I'm not any of the other things you were thinking either. I'm not you…any version of you. I just look like you." Rose looked pointedly down at herself and then back up to the copy of her, who looked sheepish. "Okay, a lot like you."
"What are you?"
"I'm…okay, seriously, don't freak out or anything, alright?" The girl was watching her warily again, like one would a scared and dangerous animal. "I'm…I'm the TARDIS."
"The TARDIS," Rose repeated flatly.
"Yes, the TARDIS," the other girl said happily, apparently believing that Rose had accepted this bit of knowledge with less fight than she'd been expecting. "And you're my Wolf!"
The happy smile dropped off the girl's face when Rose stood swiftly and raised the gun again. "Tell me what you are," Rose said darkly, "or we will be finding out what this can do to you."
"I'm the TARDIS, I promise you," the girl pleaded. "You're my Wolf, the one who saved my Thief. The one and only in all the universes. You looked into me, and I looked into you, and we saved the universe."
Rose stared at her, tears burning in her eyes. The gun began shaking, and the other girl stepped toward her slowly and gently pulled it from her hand.
"Oh, my Wolf," she said sadly, and pulled Rose into her arms. Despite the surreal circumstances, as soon as the other girl touched her, Rose believed everything she said. She could suddenly feel the presence in the back of her mind that she hadn't known was there until it was gone. Whatever strength she'd built over the last few years instantly disintegrated, and she sobbed into the arms of the TARDIS.
The TARDIS pulled her over to the sofa and held her as she sobbed. Time was of essence, but this was equally vital. Her Wolf had been wounded deeply and had never healed, never had the chance. The TARDIS rocked her gently, singing gently into her mind a soothing melody.
Eventually, the tears slowed, but Rose still clung to the girl for a moment. She hadn't cried like that since the day on the beach, when she'd felt like her heart was shattering inside of her. Those tears had not had the cathartic effect this one had, however. Rose felt calmer and more at peace now than she had in years.
"The Doctor," she said quietly.
"My Thief is in pain," the TARDIS said softly. "His loss runs so deep now, and he is drowning in it. He needs his Wolf more than ever. More even than he knows."
Rose sat up straight finally and tried to digest this. What could she do? She was trapped in a separate universe from him. Hang on…
"Okay, let's assume that I believe that you are who you say you are and that I haven't completely cracked up," Rose said slowly. "I have a couple questions to get out of the way before you try to tell me anything else."
The TARDIS sat up straight and looked at her expectantly. Rose hesitated. This is just bizarre, she thought.
"Okay, so I know he didn't exactly procure you…legitimately," Rose said and smiled a little when the TARDIS rolled her eyes, "so he's your thief. Why am I your wolf?"
"You are the Bad Wolf," the TARDIS replied promptly. "You create yourself." Rose stared at her. The TARDIS made an irritated noise. "Here, let me." She lifted her hands suddenly and placed her hands on either sides of Rose's head. Before Rose had a chance to stop her, she gasped as she relived the last moments in the GameStation. She had never been able to remember it properly, but now she could see herself and the full scope of what she'd done when she'd taken the Time Vortex inside herself. Rose opened her eyes to see the glow fading from the TARDIS' eyes.
"Guess he's not the only impressive one," she said softly, in awe of her own memories. The TARDIS smiled at her. "Okay, question two…how did you get here? Travel between worlds—"
"—is impossible," the TARDIS finished, rolling her eyes again. "Yes, he does like to repeat himself. And you like to ask difficult questions. But he's right…except for when he's wrong." She bit her lip as she waved her hands vaguely. "I'm not…strictly matter. I have form and I'm made of…stuff…but even just standing still as a ship, I exist in more than one dimension. Hence the whole bigger on the inside thing. The TARDIS matrix exists on a whole…other level. That's how I can travel the way I do as well as form psychic links with those who travel with my Doctor. With me so far?" At Rose's nod, she continued. "Right now…he is very angry at me. He has no power and he doesn't know why. He's safe, but he's stranded. It takes a lot of power to travel the way I have. I even had to jettison a few extra rooms. He's going to be very upset when he finds out that the pear shooting range is gone." Rose giggled at the TARDIS' sheepish look. "I routed all the power to myself to send my essence to other universes in order to find you." The TARDIS looked at her sharply. "Were you aware that you only exist in one universe?"
Rose arched an eyebrow. "Well, yeah, I mean, I can't exactly hop from one to the other. And any other version of me…wouldn't be…me…"
"Well, yes," the TARDIS agreed. "But that's just it: There is no other version of you. You, Rose Tyler, the Bad Wolf, are the only one ever. Oh, there's other universes where Pete and Jackie still got together, and in some of them they have children, but none of them are you. You are a singular specimen. Just like the Doctor."
Rose stared at her with her mouth open. "And what does that mean?"
"No idea," the TARDIS said evasively, then added: "Still, good to know," in a bright voice. This tactic reminded Rose strongly of the Doctor, and her eyes narrowed. "But now," the TARDIS continued, sobering, "we're running out of time. My Thief is losing control, and you, my Wolf, are dying. You need to save each other again."
"You are aware that you are…fading, you call it," the TARDIS said after a moment's hesitation. Rose nodded mutely. "Yes, you've heard before that no one is truly dead while there are those that remember them? Well, it works the other way too. When everyone forgets you, you will no longer exist anywhere."
Rose took a deep breath. It was good to have some confirmation of recent events to assure her that she wasn't going mad, but she was not prepared for the severity of the situation. "But…why?"
"You only exist in one universe," the TARDIS said gently. "That's the only one you are supposed to exist in…the one with the Doctor. This universe is trying to correct a mistake. It's phasing you out."
That…wasn't good. "How do I stop it?"
"You can't," the TARDIS said. "Not like this, anyway. The only way to correct it is to keep it from happening, and I'm sorry, I'm so sorry, but it's going to take a while." Rose looked at her blankly. "The only way to reliably change the timeline is to take you back to the beginning, your first adventure with us."
"Run," Rose whispered. The TARDIS nodded.
"I can send your consciousness, who you are now, back to that moment. Well, more specifically, your first moment in me." the TARDIS told her. "But you have to understand that this is…risky. If things go wrong…"
Rose shuddered, remembering the Reapers. She knew first-hand how dangerous trying to rewrite time could be. "And if they go right? What will happen to my family?"
"If all goes well, this universe will simply compensate around changed events. Jackie can still have Pete, they can still have Tony, and you will be on the other side with the Doctor." She paused, appearing to weigh her options. "There's one other thing that might be worth knowing."
"When you took in the Time Vortex," she said slowly, "you altered yourself in ways the Doctor could not change, even with his sacrifice."
"What's that mean?"
The TARDIS took a deep breath. "It means...if you don't lose each other at Canary Wharf, you don't have to lose each other at all. You will live as long as he does. He doesn't have to go on without you." She smiled when Rose's jaw dropped. "Keep that in mind when you are forging a new relationship with him. Don't push him too hard, or he'll push you away, but try to get him to open up to you more. It will do him a world of good. But you can't let him know that you are more than human," she added fiercely, clasping Rose's hands. "Not until after Torchwood. If he knew that he could spend his life with you, and then lost you…I don't know if he'd survive."
"What about…what about the others?" The TARDIS looked at her quizzically. "All the people that died on our adventures? Can…will I be able to save them?"
"Some," the TARDIS said, her face softening. "Not everyone. Some are fixed points in time. Some you simply won't be able to save. Don't let it discourage you."
Rose chewed her lower lip as she tried to take in everything the TARDIS was telling her. "Can I have a minute?"
"Of course," the TARDIS said, standing up. "I'll just…um…" she waved vaguely toward the back of the flat, then headed that direction.
Rose considered her options. Everything about this sounded insane. Going back in mind only to the moment she met the Doctor. Living through all their adventures again to somehow keep the events of Canary Wharf from occurring. Saving lives that had been lost the first time around. Staying with the Doctor forever…
Or staying here, lonely and broken, only to eventually blink out of existence as everyone completely forgot her. Wasn't much of a choice at all, really…
I am the Bad Wolf…I create myself.
She found the TARDIS in her bedroom, looking at her collection of photographs. She stopped when the other girl turned to her.
"So, my Wolf," the TARDIS said, "are you ready to run?"