by The Plot Thinens

Chapter 31 – Explosive results

"Doctor, did that one just move?" Quickly and frightfully questioned Mrs. Moore. She was sure she saw one of their hands twitch. The Doctor had not seen any movement and knew that in small confines and in such a situation, most humans were instinctually driven to being a bit jumpy.

"It's just the torchlight. Keep going, come on." Reassured the Doctor. Besides even if it did move there wasn't anything for it but to keep moving forward. Perhaps the Doctor shouldn't have been so dismissive because suddenly a Cyberman was undeniably moving near them. Then another and another and another. They had to get out of there and fast.

"They're waking up. Run!" Shouted the Doctor at the top of his lungs and the two ran along the row of Cybermen. To their horror every Cyberman behind them seemed to fall in behind them with their feet clomping along after them. Finally they cleared the row of Cyberman and saw their exit. A ladder was at the end of the tunnel and if they could just get up it without getting grabbed, they'd be safe. The Doctor was first up the ladder and raced up it trying at the trapdoor on the ceiling only to find it locked. As fast as he could the Doctor pulled out his sonic screwdriver and began unlocking the trapdoor. However the Cybermen were now dangerously close and Mrs. Moor was starting to panic a lot.

"Get up! Quick! They're coming! Open it! Open it!" She shouted just as the Doctor got the hatch open and climbed the rest of the way out.

"Get up! Quick! Quick!" Screeched Moore and then Doctor shouted his encouragement to Moore to get the hell up the ladder. A Cyberman was climbing up the ladder, knowing it would be bad news if they followed up the Doctor swiftly slammed the trapdoor on the Cybermen and locked it with the sonic.

"Oh, good team, Mrs. Moore." Grinned the Doctor to Moore now that they were out of danger for the moment. Moore smiled back though a bit grimly and the two continued on their way. The Doctor's blood was really pumping now. He just hoped that his wife wasn't having as much excitement as he just had. In fact a rather boring day at the factory, just popping in and out for parallel Jackie, while undetected would be right up both their alleys. The Doctor tested his link to his daughter and although it was weakened by distance, she seemed to be relatively calm. That had to be a good sign. He just hoped that things stayed that way.

"Units upgraded now six thousand five hundred. Repeat. Six thousand five hundred and rising." Announced the cold and frightening voice of a Cyberman inside the Battersea Power Station as Rose and Pete tried to walk as emotionlessly as possible despite their rising fears and adrenaline pumping in their veins. The task they had taken upon themselves was truly terrifying and rising with every scream they could hear echoing from the chambers that they were slowly getting closer to. Suddenly a Cyberman put its hand in front of Rose, startling her and putting a stop to the procession behind her. Rose dared not turn back to look at Pete for comfort with the enemy literally within grabbing distance. What did the Cyberman want? Rose pondered in fright for what felt like a thousand minutes until it's cybernetic voice chirped,
"You will wait." Apparently it was directing foot traffic and the row crossing in front of her was to go first. Having designated Rose's holding pattern, the Cyberman moved away and Pete took his opportunity to whisper sympathetically to Rose,

"You okay?" Rose simply answered 'no,' she was not 'okay'. She was ten bus stops and a walk to the train away from 'okay'. 'Okay' would be being back in the TARDIS taking a relaxing bath in a pool of warm water. The two heard something being announced about a Chamber being ready for human upgrading and some more about reject stock being incinerated, not something that filled them with confidence in saving themselves or Jackie as they discreetly looked around.

"Any sign of Jackie?" Questioned Pete nervously as a Cyberman clomped up to them. The two ended any more conversation, but surprisingly the Cyberman asked Pete a question.

"You are Peter Tyler. Confirm you are Peter Tyler." Ordered the Cyberman, to which Pete stuttered,


"I recognize you. I went first. My name was Jacqueline Tyler." Declared the Cyberman, much to Rose and Pete horror and despair.

"No!" Cried out Rose as she pictured what horrible things had to be done to cram her mother's brain into that metal body. The obscene medical butchery that would have had to been done while she screamed much like the screams Rose heard now in front of her. Pete in disbelief looked at the machine that was now or had been his wife and shouted out,

"What?" Not caring the least in how much the intelligence that the former Jackie had relayed to him hurt, the Cyberman declared,

"They are unprogrammed. Restrain." Two other Cyberman came over to help do just that, all the while Pete, who's misery and grief was only escalating with every terrible second of realization all but screamed,

"You're lying. You're not her. You're not my Jackie!" There was no way, it couldn't be her, and it was even taller than Jackie was too, thought Pete oddly enough. As if, in his head, that simple fact would prove the terrible news wrong. Or perhaps convince him that it was just someone in a suit and this was all just some sick joke. When one was faced with such horrible news it was amazing how such simple things could come to mind.

"No, I am Cyber-form. Once I was Jacqueline Tyler." Answered the Cyberman

"But you can't be. Not her." Mourned Rose at her failure again to save a parent. Who was going to make up and hold Pete's hand in this world? Who was going to keep him from being lonely when she wasn't there? What would any world do without her mother? Rose felt her distress leech over to her baby and upset her as well. Rose was in no shape to offer comfort and the baby was too overwhelmed to offer any comfort in kind.

"Her brain is inside this body." Stated the Cyberman, as if to mock them, although they knew it wasn't capable of doing that. It none the less stung even more.

"Jacs, I came to save you." Whimpered Pete who had now completely broken down and was getting teary eyed. Rose had the double grief of seeing not only her mother worse than dead, but her father experience this moment seemingly all alone. There was no child, no glimmer of Jackie in another human being, to offer comfort to the man for years to come, like she had for her mother, at least not to his knowledge. 'Years from now?' Would they even live through the night? Rose was finding herself wishing for the company of the Doctor, as if just waving his Sonic Screwdriver and talking fast, like he always did, would fix this problem.

"This man worked with Cybus Industries to create our species. He will be rewarded by force. Take them to Cyber Control." Ordered the Cyberman that was once Jackie to the Cybermen who then escorted Pete and Rose away. Then finally it washed over Rose. The real name of the crime they had committed on Jackie, 'upgrade' was just a euphemism for kill.

"They killed her. They just took her and killed her." Stated Rose, still not believing that this was happening to her family, even if it was parallel, her blood was the same blood as her parallel parents' They killed her mother, mutilated her corpse, probably burnt it and stuck her brain into a computer to slave away for Lumic. Her soul wasn't even allowed to rest after her body had already been put forcibly to rest.

"Maybe there's a chance, I don't know. Maybe we can reverse it." Suggested Pete with false hope.

"There's nothing we can do." Announced Rose to her still in shock 'father', but he still wasn't ready to accept yet that Jackie had been killed the way she was.

"But if, if she remembers. Where is she? Which one was it? Which one was her?" Question Pete frantically, finally realizing the futility of any 'solution' he could suggest to 'salvage' Jackie Tyler's life.

"They all look the same." Stated Rose, seeing that the Cyberman were not allowed anything that was once human, not even their individuality.

The Doctor hoped that his companion and he were in the clear and that the worst or rather most of Cybermen they would have to deal with for a bit were behind them. Of course that was too much to hope when as soon as they came out of the narrowest part of the tunnel, the first thing to 'greet' them was a Cyberman. With its intimidating metal feet it stomped a few steps towards them and chirped in its robotic voice,

"You are not upgraded." Yes that was true and Mrs. Moore wanted it to bloody stay that way.

"Yeah? Well, upgrade this." The woman hissed as she threw a small rod with copper wire wrapped around it at the Cyberman. Amazingly it stuck right to its metal casing and the Cyberman began to jerk uncontrollably before sparking and collapsing to the ground.

"What the hell was that thing?" Questioned the Doctor, quite impressed with the results of Mrs. Moore's bit of tech. Moore smiled proudly at the Doctor and stated,

"Electromagnetic bomb. Takes out computers, I figured it might stop a cyber-suit." Oh was the Doctor ever glad that he had gone along with Mrs. Moore, she was fantastic. He almost had half a mind to ask if she carried explosives in there too like an old friend of his used to.

"You figured right. Now, let's have a look. Know your enemy." Declared the Doctor as he pulled out his sonic screwdriver and got down to have a closer look at the vanquished Cyberman. The Doctor examined the casing around the Cybus logo on the chest of the Cyberman, Lumic sure had an ego for all his wanting to eliminate feelings. Last time he checked, arrogance and pride were emotions. Though he wouldn't mind Lumic eliminating such emotions from his own megalomaniac head and his followers, but there were other ways to do it.

"A logo on the front. Lumic's turned them into a brand. Heart of steel, but look." The Doctor said as he removed the logo boss on the chest of the Cyberman to reveal that inside there was not just electronics. The Doctor picked up some gook out from its chest that Moore would have rather he had not touched or brought it so close to her face.

"Is that flesh?" She asked almost with disgust.

"Hmmm. Central nervous system. Artificially grown then threaded throughout the suit so it responds like a living thing." Noted the Doctor as he put the bits of flesh back inside.

"Well, it is a living thing. Oh, but look. Emotional inhibitor. Stops them feeling anything." Stated the Doctor as soon as he spotted the device so crucial to this creature's ability to survive. With a confused look Mrs. Moore asked the Doctor why it had such a device installed.

"It's still got a human brain. Imagine its reaction if it could see itself, realize itself inside this thing. They'd go insane." Explained the Doctor in a grave voice.

"So they cut out the one thing that makes them human." Mrs. Moore observed in solemnly.

"Because they have to." Exhaled the Doctor in mourning for the poor creatures. He was sorely wishing to prevent anyone else, including his family, from having to suffering the same fate. He only wished that there was a way to reverse the process. To return them back to their original bodies and save their humanity.

Mrs. Moore and the Doctor then found themselves startled by the Cyberman they hovered over beginning to talk. The two recoiled back a bit as it said,

"Why am I cold?"

"Oh, my God. It's alive. It can feel." Gasped Mrs. Moore as the Doctor realized in horror and sadness what they had done to the poor creature in stopping it.

"We broke the inhibitor. I'm sorry. I'm so sorry." The Doctor apologized in all sincerity. The Cyberman again asked 'why it was so cold?' The Doctor was now very interested in what level of emotions and memories they had unleashed from a Cyberman with a broken inhibitor. Wanting to know what they had unleashed the Doctor asked it a simple question,

"Can you remember your name?" Slowly the Cyberman answered,

"Sally. Sally Phelan."

"You're a woman." Stated Mrs. Moore almost in disbelief. It was impossible to tell who a Cyberman was before because of their uniform casings. More was the pity. Individuality was one of the most important things about being human. How cruel to have it stripped away by force. Mrs. Moore wondered what the former face behind this poor woman, now lost to cold steely metal, looked like. The Cyberman did not seem to react to Mrs. Moore's statement but instead asked,

"Where's Gareth?" Moore was confused by this and questioned as to who was Gareth.

"He can't see me. It's unlucky the night before." Sally replied simply with almost a hint of happiness trying to force its way out from behind that computer voice that she was now confined to speak with.

"You're getting married." Declared Mrs. Moore. That was when Moore realized yet another thing had been taken away from Sally. Moore thought back on her own wedding and what a joy it had been for her and her family. Lumic truly had no humanity of his own left. To cut a life so short and deny so many happy memories that Moore at one point in her life had taken as granted was an atrocity.

"I'm cold. I'm so cold." Sally distressed again and the Doctor could take no more of the brutality that Sally was enduring. The least he could do was end her suffering.

"It's all right. You sleep now, Sally. Just go to sleep." The Doctor said softly to the poor woman, just trying to make her last few moments of awareness comfortable before she left this world, far too early and under the cruelest of circumstances. With all the respect and care due the Doctor put the sonic screwdriver inside the chest cavity that held Sally's remains and switched her off. Poor Sally Phelan, she had her whole life ahead of her. She was getting married. She might have wanted to have a family. But that was beside the point. She was a person. She was going to make her own choices in life. That was stolen from her. It was wrong. So wrong, selfish and unfair. Lumic had to answer for this. Thought the Doctor as he took a deep breath.

"Sally Phelan didn't die for nothing, because that's the key. The emotional inhibitor. If we could find the code behind it, the cancellation code, then feed it throughout the system into every Cyberman's head, they'd realize what they are." Announced the Doctor as stood over the remains of Sally for a short bit of mourning.

"And what happens then?" Questioned Mrs. Moore, not completely following.

"I think it would kill them. Could we do that?" Pondered the Doctor as he debated the moral implications of giving the Cybermen back their humanity.

"We've got to. Before they kill everyone else. There's no choice, Doctor. It's got to be done." Mrs. Moore said resolutely as she stood up only to have a Cyberman grab her shoulder and electrocute her. Poor Mrs. Moore then slumped to the ground in the stillness of death, but not before her body made a few sad twitches.

"No! No, you didn't have to kill her!" Shouted the Doctor at the Cybermen in horror. What a waste of life these Cybermen had mindlessly snuffed out!

"Sensors detect a binary vascular system. You are an unknown upgrade. You will be taken for analysis." Ordered the Cyberman in its metallic voice to the Doctor. Having no other choice the Doctor took one last mournful look at poor Angela Price's body before following his escort to where ever they had in mind to take him.

The Doctor was led into the control room by his metal captors. Still this wasn't too bad. He still had other people out there to help him escape if he couldn't manage on his own.

"I've been captured, but don't worry, Rose and Pete are still out there. They can rescue me." The Doctor then spotted his wife and parallel father-in-law.

"Oh well, never mind. You okay?" The Doctor asked of his wife. At least these Cyberjerks weren't keeping her standing. Rose was more or less sitting as comfortably as she could in this situation in a desk chair that appeared to be near some kind of control board. He reasoned it must not be anything important or that the Cybermen believed that their human captives could do anything with. Otherwise they wouldn't let her near it. Or maybe the Cybermen just didn't think too much of the original model of human.

"Yeah. But they got Jackie." Mourned Rose, at their failure to rescue her parallel mother. Pete sat dejected in a chair next to Rose. Who clearly wanted to give her father comfort, but obviously didn't know how to even begin.

"We were too late. Lumic killed her." Pete said both bitterly and devastated. The Doctor was pained by this news. Lumic had killed his parallel mother in law, and even though she was parallel, the thought of Jackie Tyler worse than dead was not a pleasant thought. He had grown rather fond of this new Pete and the thought of him having to go through the pain of widowhood and under such horrible circumstances was terrible. Considering all that had happened to him tonight, Pete was keeping it together rather nicely. Though he doubted that would last very long if they survived. The Doctor had gone through the pain of losing everything and then again when he thought Rose had been killed several times over. He would not wish it on anyone. So help him, the Doctor would end this. No one else was going to suffer losing a loved one to this mad man tonight if he could help it.

"Then where is he, the famous Mister Lumic? Don't we get the chance to meet our Lord and Master?" The Doctor entreated in a mocking voice.

"He has been upgraded." Explained the Cyberman to the Doctor.

"So he's just like you?" Inquired the Doctor of his Cybernetic captor.

"He is superior. The Lumic Unit has been designated Cyber Controller." Announced the Cyberman that the doctor was talking to. Then as if on cue huge metal doors opened at the front of the room and a Cyberman was wheeled out in an upgraded wheelchair. Guess walking was too good for him, Pete thought with false bravado. He was just as scared as any other human in the room.

"This is The Age of Steel and I am its Creator." The Cyber controller who was once the flesh and blood Lumic declared in his metallic voice. Every being with blood in their veins felt a shiver go up their spines.

However, no sooner had the Cyber Controller made this statement damning to humanity the Doctor was formulating plans to try to stop this foe. His planning he found was interrupted as a great cry from hundreds of voices was heard from the factory floor. All of the ear pods had suddenly stopped working and the unconverted people, now free and very frightened at their surroundings, woke up. Panic was all about. The efficient and orderly Cybermen were not ready to handle such chaos from unwilling subjects on such a mass scale. There were so many people running all about and between them that the Cybermen were powerless to stop any more of their victims from leaving the factory as fast as they could. The Doctor knew that Mickey and Jake must have been successful.

"That's my friends at work. Good boys! Mister Lumic, I think that's a vote for free will." Smirked the Doctor with a wink. He was quite filled with pride in his friends, Mickey was no idiot, not that he'd ever admit to often.

Lumic was not perturbed in the least by the development. Either way the results would be the same even if they took a bit longer to accomplish. This was just a bug in the production line to be stomped out.

"I have factories waiting on seven continents. If the ear pods have failed, then the Cybermen will take humanity by force. London has fallen. So shall the world." Announced Lumic with godlike assertion.

"I will bring peace to the world. Everlasting peace. And unity and uniformity." Declared Lumic to the humans in the room that dared to stand against his vision in what he viewed as their complete ignorance.

"And imagination? What about that? The one thing that led you here, imagination, you're killing it dead!" Yelled the Doctor in irritation. Amazing that a man with such imagination could be so thick and so simple minded. Imagination was what made humans great. He was convinced that half the time humans had more imagination than Time Lord. In fact he was sure of it. If they had the intelligence of a Time Lord and that human imagination then they'd be unstoppable in what they could accomplish. The Doctor thoughts then drifted to his daughter. Would she be just that? Was he ever eager to meet this little person Rose and he made. If that were the case, heck maybe she would have been able to think of a plan to stop the Cybermen before he did, if she were born and talking by now that is.

"What is your name?" Question Lumic, he was interested in learning more about this strange man who didn't seem to be on file anywhere in any memory or data bank that he had access to.

"I'm the Doctor." The Time Lord introduced himself.

"A redundant title. Doctors need not exist. Cybermen never sicken." Stated the Cyber Controller. The Doctor had about enough of this 'silliness'. And groaned at Lumic. 'Never sicken hmmm? Bet a computer virus could make you sick enough.' The Doctor sighed to himself.

"Yeah, but that's it. That's exactly the point! Oh, Lumic, you're a clever man. I'd call you a genius, except I'm in the room. Oh and my unborn child whom I'm almost certain is already smarter than you…But everything you've invented, you did to fight your sickness. And that's brilliant. That is so human. But once you get rid of sickness and mortality, then what's there to strive for, eh? The Cybermen won't advance. You'll just stop. You'll stay like this forever. A metal Earth with metal men and metal thoughts, lacking the one thing that makes this planet so alive. People. Ordinary, stupid, brilliant people. And not only that you're stifling biology. On this whole bloody planet it's been one giant test of biology. Without organic matter you eliminate the random chances. Combinations resulting in things that you could never even imagine, but BANG, nature finds a way to throw it in there." Ranted the Doctor in frustration at Lumic, but then said a bit softer while glancing over at Rose,

"Wonderful things you never thought possible or should ever even hope for. And you just get it by wonderful chance." The doctor then refocused his attention on Lumic and with great energy ranted,

"Don't you see? That is so human and more. And to throw it away would be missing the point of life in general. To be condemned to such a fate as you see fit, Lumic, would be the death of the soul and all that makes life wonderfully worth living. To feel is to live!"

"You are proud of your emotions." Stated Lumic to the Doctor his metallic voice giving no hint of emotion.

"Oh, yes." Replied the Doctor without hesitation. Lumic however was not moved by the Doctor's speech. He merely saw it as a sign of the sickness and misguidance that was the flesh.

"Then tell me, Doctor. Have you known grief, and rage, and pain?" Questioned Lumic.

"Yes. Yes I have." Answered the Doctor stoically.

"And they hurt?" Continued the Cyber controller. The Doctor just smiled and answered the affirmative, just as proud. Lumic just saw a creature too over run by emotion to see their harm.

"I could set you free. Would you not want that? A life without pain?" Lumic asked as his final inquiry. The Doctor did not want a life without pain. Sure sometimes he would like a little less pain, but no pain at all meant that you weren't living. Life was pain with a lot of happy bits in between. You could not have joy without grief. To not have either then one would be better off dead.

"You might as well kill me." Announced the Doctor at the prospect of having all pain removed.

"Then I take that option." Rasped Lumic. The Doctor got angry at this statement. Who did this Cyberman think he was? He had no authority, just because he was sitting on a 'throne' that didn't make him king. He had no say in how life would go on. Now if he wanted to live that way himself for the rest of his life than fine. But he had no authority to take away free will or the choice of how people wanted to live their lives. He had no right to dictate that. What made him think he had authority over life and death? He's nothing. Just a tiny little piece of metal in a universe so big his little mind can't comprehend it! Why do these crazy people always think they are the only one who can see sense or make a rational decision when it was not the case at all? The Doctor himself was crazy but he won't just decide, 'hmm I think it's better to take everyone against their will and shove their brains into sardine cases!' How does someone even have that idea?!

"It's not yours to take. You're a Cyber Controller. You don't control me or anything with blood in its heart." Growled the Doctor. Lumic was not impressed with the Doctor and what he viewed as flawed logic. He had power and power made him right.

"You have no means of stopping me. I have an army. A species of my own." Boosted the Cyber Controller. The Doctor was now at his wit's end, rubbing his palm down his face the Doctor rolled his eyes and began to explain yet again the problem,

"You just don't get it, do you? An army's nothing. Because those ordinary people, they're the key. The most ordinary person could change the world." The Doctor oddly spoke the last part of his sentence to a surveillance camera overhead that he noticed had a flashing red light. Someone was watching and he just hoped that it was Mickey the idiot on the other end. He needed to relay a message so he continued his 'nonsensical' rant,

"Some ordinary man or woman, some idiot. All it takes is for him to find, say, the right numbers. Say the right codes. Say, for example, the code behind the emotional inhibitor. The code right in front of him. Because even an idiot knows how to use computers these days." The Doctor knew that he had given enough information for Mickey to get that instructions were being given to him he just needed to pass one last bit of information off to Mickey.

"Knows how to get past firewalls and passwords. Knows how to find something encrypted in the Lumic Family Database, under er. What was it, Pete? Binary what?" The Doctor asked the last bit at Pete, who getting the idea answered, 'Binary Nine'.

"An idiot could find that code. Cancellation code. And he'd keep on typing. Keep on fighting. Anything to save his friends." The Doctor would have talked longer but Lumic now growing tired of the pointless jabber bellowed,

"Your words are irrelevant." The Doctor just grinned, stalling for time he had long turned into an art form that should win awards. Actually it would one day, in fact there were several planets in which it was a national sport and he had won trophies for his prowess in stalling for time. Though to be fair the last few he'd won his opponents had probably been distracted by his multi colored coat that defied logic or fashion sense. This might or might not have earned him some additional points for time while said opponent stared stunned. He'd have to show those to Rose some day. The trophies, not the coat, great Gallifrey not the coat. Anyway,

"Yeah, talk too much, that's my problem. Lucky I got you that cheap tariff, Rose, for all our long chats. On your phone." The Doctor joked and gesturing the last part towards the surveillance camera.

"You will be deleted." Commanded Lumic having reached the end of his ability to endure such gibberish. The Doctor knew things were getting closer to hot water and just needed to make sure that Mickey would follow through. Strategically he walked over to the part of the control panel he had noticed earlier that would be humanity's salvation and Lumic's downfall. Never stopping his rambling so that Lumic would continue to be dumb to his plan, the Doctor crowed,

"Yes. Delete, control, hash. All those lovely buttons. Then, of course, my particular favorite, send. And let's not forget how you seduced all those ordinary people in the first place..." Suddenly Rose's phone in her apron began to beep and she realized along with the Doctor that the code had finally arrived as a text message. The Doctor was ever glad for that phone. They really were helpful, though primitive devices, thought the Doctor as he smirked,

"…By making every bit of technology compatible with everything else."

"It's for you." Announced Rose as she tossed the Doctor her phone. Having masterfully caught said phone the Doctor then said,

"Like this." And then put the phone into a docking station causing the code to start its work transmitting. Not a moment later every Cybermen began to cry out in pain as the code appeared on every computer screen. Cybermen everywhere clutched their heads in pain. And much to the Doctor's pain he spotted one near him catching sight of itself in a shiny piece of metal on the wall. What was best described as a pained cybernetic cry came from the voice box of the poor creature. The Doctor only guessing its own pain said,

"I'm sorry." Lumic could sense that something was very wrong through the network that connected him to his 'children' and in a voice now free to shout in anger, demanded,

"What have you done?!"

"I gave them back their souls. They can see what you've done, Lumic, and it's killing them!" Shouted the Doctor as he grabbed Rose's hand and led his wife and parallel father-in-law out of the room. They could here Lumic's shouts for their deletion, but this was quickly overshadowed by the sounds of the thousands of Cybermen in pain in the factory.

Things were not getting any better for team TARDIS as everywhere things were exploding. The building would soon be engulfed in flames and that would not due as their ending. However, the trio found the only available emergency exit blocked by writhing Cybermen. Quickly they slammed the door in case they exploded as that seemed to be the results of the Cybermen realizing what they had become. They would prefer death to their continued existence and at least that was now their decisions to make again. More explosions and full blown fire broke out. They were trapped and the Doctor was over clocking his brain trying to think of a way to save his family.

"There's no way out!" He shouted in frustration. It couldn't end this way. His family he'd lost to the fires of war, he could not let it happen again. He might survive such fire, but his family would not and he could not live that again.

All was looking lost that is until Rose's phone started ringing. Rose answered the phone and listened to his quick instructions.

"It's Mickey. He says head for the roof!" Shouted Rose over the explosions. That was all the instructions they needed, hopefully Mickey had their ticket out of here. Either way Rose figured being incinerated bet the hell out of being crushed to death. The Doctor, Rose and Pete ran up a metal staircase as more fires began to break out behind them.

"Shift before this bun in my oven gets overcooked!" Shouted Rose as they reached the door to the roof which the Doctor Soniced open. It was then a rather strenuous climb for Rose up a metal ladder, but fueled by adrenaline and the desire to live and protect her baby, Rose hardly seemed bothered as she landed hard on the pavement in front of the ladder. They were on the roof and Rose putting her phone back to her ear shouted up at the zeppelin,

"Mickey, where'd you learn to fly that thing?" Humorously enough he squeaked, 'playstation'. Rose wasn't going to question his flight training, but how were they going to get up there? As if in answer to her question shortly a rope ladder dropped from the giant flying balloon. 'No guts, no glory.' Thought Rose as she ran to grab for the rope. She just hoped that she wouldn't be too slowed down by her center of gravity being off as she climbed. The Doctor did his best to help her up as Pete groaned,

"You've got to be kidding." This night could not get any crazier, of course they were going to escape by rope ladder and dangle hundreds of feet in the air.

"Rose, get up." The Doctor shouted at Rose again in encouragement as a loud speaker blared Mickey's voice,

"Hold on tight, we're going up! Welcome to Mickey Smith's Airline. Please enjoy your flight. Woo!" Well at least one of us was having a fun time, thought Pete. He was the last to get up the ladder just before it rose into the air. Now safety, he thought was a very general term at the moment but at least they were no longer inside an exploding factory.

"We did it! Mickey did it!" Shouted Rose, happy that their battle with the Cybermen was all over. But then suddenly, something heavy pulled at the ladder, nearly making them lose their grip. Rose had to hold on extra tight as she got her feet back onto the ladder. The group looked down to see Lumic and his Cyber body weighing them down. The Doctor knew what must be done, they had to cut the ropes or that metal monstrosity would have its revenge on them. The Doctor got his screwdriver out and yelled down to Pete,

"Pete! Take this!" He then dropped the Sonic Screwdriver down to Pete who miraculously caught it. Good thing too or they would be sh t out of luck. Pete looked confused by the device so there was nothing for the Doctor to do but shout at him again,

"Use it! Hold the button down! Press it against the rope. Just do it!" Trusting the Doctor and getting the idea of the plan to lose them some weight, with gusto Pete put the sonic against the rope below his feet. Activating the sonic Pete growled at Lumic,

"Jackie Tyler. This is for her!" Terrifying seconds passed as Lumic slowly climbed up the rope ladder getting closer to them. Then finally the rope giving way snapped and like the hunk of metal he was Lumic fell. Pete had just a few satisfying minutes to hear Lumic scream in terror before he was engulfed in the exploding Power Station. Good riddance, thought Pete. Now hopefully his wife's soul could rest in peace, he just hoped that would be comfort enough. He was only a little over 40 and he had many more years to live with her.

It would be another hour latter before the Doctor would find himself and his companions back at Lambeth Pier where this crazy adventure began and the TARDIS stood waiting. Eager to leave this world behind them and to get back to their own world the Doctor put the power cell back into the console. The TARDIS then started to light up in its familiar and comforting glow. Relief flushed over the Doctor, they still had a way out and he had not lost his oldest and dearest friend to an accident of time and space. He had left Rose outside the TARDIS with her parallel father. He knew that it probably wasn't a good thing to do. But after all they had been through tonight he did not see how any more damage could be done. Rose would be Rose and whatever happened would happen.

Outside the TARDIS Rose was getting up the nerve to let out her secret to Pete. She had been quiet so far on her origin story and quite frankly Pete had been busy enough over the phone talking with somebody, that she was surprise he had made the trip to see them off. She was feeling so many things. Fear at what bad things could happen if she told him. Fear of what good things could happen if she told him. She had half a mind to kidnap him and take him back with her to travel the stars with them.

"So, what happens inside that thing, then?" Questioned Pete as the two lingered outside the TARDIS.

"Do you want to see?" Questioned Rose hopefully.

"No, I don't think so." Pete answered nervously and dismissively before asking Rose the question that had been bugging him all night,

"But you two, you know, all that stuff you said about different worlds. Who are you?" He asked her! Rose wasn't going to lie to her father anymore or be evasive. It was a direct question and she didn't think the Doctor could fault her. So swallowing all her fears, and holding her own hands for support, she slowly and carefully answered,

"It's like you say. Imagine there are different worlds, parallel worlds. Worlds with another Pete Tyler and Jackie Tyler's still alive, and their daughter." 'Oh my god', thought Pete, at the idea that this person, this familiar person was his daughter, he couldn't take it. His wife was dead, they had no children, and they never would have children. He was alone and if she was just crazy or it was the truth he could not handle this right now. He had been through enough sh t tonight and he was not taking anymore. He had a job to do and he did not need this.

"I've got to go." Pete said quickly and looking like all but propriety was keeping him from high tailing it away for a speedy retreat. Rose could sense that he wanted to run. Hell she could see it in his body language,

"But if you just look inside." Rose all but begged him. Yet another man in her life, choosing to run away from her, no. It was too cruel; her father wouldn't leave of his own will. Even though the whole situation was crazy, as were her expectation of her parallel father, Rose couldn't help it. The rational part of her brain had taken a holiday with her father once again standing in front of her.

"No, I can't. There's all those Lumic factories out there. All those Cybermen still in storage. Someone's got to tell the authorities what happened, carry on the fight..." Explained Pete, this was this purpose now, this was what he had to live for now. Rose was about to say more but then the Doctor stepped out of the TARDIS.

"Rose? I've only got five minutes of power. We've got to go." He announced and Rose felt like the Doctor had inadvertently cut anymore time she had left with her father. Now desperate to get him to stay longer Rose pointed to the Doctor and said,

"The Doctor could show you." If he was too 'weirded' out by her than maybe the Doctor could convince him to stay or come with them. Why couldn't the Doctor have waited to power up the TARDIS? Oh that wasn't fair thought Rose as her thoughts went from her father still in front of her and the Doctor's warning that it was time to go.

"Thank you. For everything." Smiled Pete clearly wanting to leave. Now desperate and forgetting to keep up any distance between them, Rose let slip the one word she had wanted to say to him all night to him. As if somehow it might have some magic power to make him stay.

"Dad." Rose said softly and with love for the man who in almost all aspects was her father. That was the last straw for Pete. He was in no mood to accept any of the wild ideas that Rose was suggesting anymore. He was grateful for her help, but that was it.

"Don't. Just, just don't." Said Pete dismissively. He could not handle hearing that from Rose and without making eye contact or even looking back Pete was gone. Rose watched speechless as her father walked away from her. He left and was out of her life yet again. She didn't know what she was expecting to happen. A hug? A look of realization and acceptance before she left her father alive in this world? She should have known that he'd reject her. His wife just died. Of course he didn't want to hear about parallel children that would never be from some crazy catering help. He might even think she was trying to get money out of it. Rose didn't want to think so poorly of her parallel dad but the horrible voice in her head would not shut up and even her child's waves of comfort couldn't help much against yet another abrupt departure from her father. Only this time he was leaving of his own will, and not because he was dying.

The Doctor had not been blind to Rose's suffering. He had seen the entreating look in her eye when she had called Pete, 'Dad'. Saw that she was practically begging for his love and to acknowledge who she was. And he had seen the hurt when he had rejected her. The Doctor had had a feeling that this is what would have happened and he had hoped to spare Rose the pain. She would have to say goodbye to her father twice. The Doctor knew that the universe could be cruel and apparently so could parallel ones too.

The dower mood was then interrupted by Mickey Smith parading up with Jake. Well the Doctor had wondered where the man had gotten off to. Cutting it close but at least he would not miss his flight. He'd hate more than anything to leave behind two men Rose loved in this world.

"Here it is. I found it. Not a crease." Grinned Mickey as he handed the Doctor his beloved suit and coat. With child like glee the Doctor cheered,

"My suit! Good man." The Doctor then turned to Jake and gave Jake instructions that were very important and needed following,

"Now then, Jake, we've got to run. But one more thing. Mrs. Moore. Her real name was Angela Price. She's got a husband out there, and children. Find them. Tell them how she died saving the world." The Doctor would always be grateful to Mrs. Moore and her sacrifice saving not just humanity of this world, but for helping to save his family and friends as well. The Doctor met so many extraordinary people in his travels and he just wished that so many of them had not had to sacrifice themselves to help save the day and him. Rose had already done that once and it was only through luck and regeneration that they could still be together.

"Yeah, course I will." Promised Jake, there was no way he was going to let Mrs. Moore's part in saving the world go unsung. In fact, he'd do everything in his power to see that Mrs. Moore and Ricky ended up in the history books. He wanted one hundred years from now for children to read in their history books about what great heroes they were.

"Off we go, then." Cheered the Doctor merrily in the direction of the TARDIS and starting the process of ushering his companions into the blue box.

"Er, thing is, I'm staying." Confessed Mickey a bit nervously because he was sure his news would be taken badly.

"You're doing what?" Questioned the Doctor loudly in shock.

"You can't." Insisted Rose, she knew that they didn't belong in this world. It might cause damage to the world if they did, the Doctor had warned them. Mickey simply stated his case,

"It sort of balances out, because this world lost its Ricky, but there's me. And there's work to be done with all those Cybermen still out there."

"But you can't stay." Protested Rose more strongly this time.

"Rose, my gran's here. She's still alive. My old gran, remember her?" Explained Mickey in a voice that was begging for Rose's understanding. Rose admitted that she remembered his Gran. She remembered too what a major part of his life she was and how devastated Mickey was by her loss.

"She needs me." Declared Mickey. He had to take care of his Gran. He was given a second chance to give her the life she deserved and he had to do that for her.

"What about me? What if I need you? Baby hasn't even met her Uncle Mickey yet." Said Rose through misty eyes and a quivering voice. This couldn't be the last they would ever see of each other. He was her oldest friend. He'd been there to comfort her spirits when things had been rocky with her new Doctor.

"Yeah, but Rose, you don't need me. You've shown you can take care of yourself, and baby. He's an idiot but not enough to try and pull that again on you. So it's just you and him, isn't it. You'll be a good Mum and you just whip him into shape. I'm going to do my best to imagine him changing nappies and I want it to actually have happened." Said Mickey trying to put a touch of humor on the sad move. He didn't like to see Rose cry, even when they were little.

"Promise, he's not getting out of that. But…Well, we'll come back. We can travel anywhere. Come and see you, yeah?" Rose said the last part looking to the Doctor hopefully. The Doctor shook his head, he wished that he could do that for Rose but he knew it was possible.

"We can't. I told you, travel between parallel worlds is impossible. We only got here by accident. We, we fell through a crack in time. When we leave, I've got to close it. We can't ever return." Explained the Doctor Sadly to his wife. Mickey took in a resolute breath of air and put out his hand to shake the Doctor's. He was friends with the Doctor now and he had been for a while, he just was too stubborn to admit it, just like the Doctor was too stubborn to admit that he was also Mickey's friend. Mickey wanted to leave no regrets and show that he held no ill will for the unexpected ride the Doctor had taken his life on.

"Doctor." Mickey said to the Doctor as a goodbye as the Doctor took Mickey's offered hand and shook it.

"Take Rose's phone. It's got the code. Get it out there. Stop those factories. And good luck,

Mickey the idiot." Grinned the Doctor at Mickey with pride but still not wanting to let go of the last bit of antagonizing that the two shared.

"Watch it." Snapped back Mickey, half serious and half filled with the sorrow of knowing that departure was close. The Doctor then went back into the TARDIS to give Mickey and Rose some private time between friends. Rose appreciated the unusually mature behavior from the Time Lord as she gave Mickey her phone. She wished that it could make parallel dimensional calls so that she could at least check in on Mickey that way.

"Thanks. We've had a laugh though, haven't we? Seen it all, been there and back. Who would have thought, me and you off the old estate, flying through the stars." Laughed Mickey at the unlikely adventure the two of them had found themselves on.

"All those years just sitting there, imagining what we'd do one day. We never saw this, did we?" Rose gasped between sobs to her oldest friend. She couldn't believe that this was really goodbye. They'd never see each other again. He was as good as dead to her in a few moments. Hell in his world he would be dead or at least missing.

"Go on, don't miss your flight." Joked Mickey, trying to hold back tears. Rose hugged him one last time as tight as she could, then crying ran into the TARDIS.

Rose ran up the ramp to the jump seat and sat down hard. She never stopped crying not even as the TARDIS jostle around as they entered the time vortex. Once they were safely cruising the Doctor walked over to the jump seat and out of nowhere pulled out a handkerchief for Rose. Rose took the offered handkerchief and began to wipe her eyes and nose.

"I'm so sorry, Rose. Can I get you anything?" Asked the Doctor in a low comforting voice. Rose shook her head and sobbed,

"No, I just. I'm going to miss him. I'm going to miss being able to see him. I just…I just hope he's happy and he made the right choice. I don't want him to be lonely in that other world all by himself."

"I'm sure he'll be just fine. He's a good one that Mickey. And he has Jake, heck he might even see your Dad again. Pete will surely help him out after helping save the world. Now you go get yourself out of those clothes and into something more comfortable. I'll be right here when you get back." Smiled the Doctor to Rose, who then got up to take a shower and get dressed. Maybe she'd feel better than.

A half hour later, the Doctor was back in his old clothing, but Rose, although clean and comfortable, was not feeling any better. Her eyes were still puffy and the Doctor wondered if Rose had not pondered more things to be upset over the situation about. He didn't have to wait long to find out and Rose then explained through sniffles,

"It's not just… I know Mickey will be fine, he's brilliant... but... And then there's my Dad, he just … I'm just sick of rejection from the men I love." This statement hit the Doctor right in his hearts. He knew that she was most likely referring to not just her father, but his rejections of her too. And not just in this body but the old one as well. The Doctor felt terrible guilt and wished a thousand times that he were a better man. A man worthy of Rose. Oh, hell he wasn't even a man. He was already at a disadvantage.

"It was just a lot to take in for him, he would have come around. Rose I can't claim not being guilty of… rejecting you. But to know you is to love you. Just like me, if Pete had spent enough time around you...he'd have come around. Otherwise he'd be an idiot. I'm an idiot I rejected you twice. But that had nothing to do with you. I just had hang ups to work through. I'm the idiot when it comes to you. You're own Dad was much smarter than me." The Doctor said in a soothing voice and then brought Rose in for a hug. They hugged briefly, but longer than they had in a while. Rose then let out a breath and whimpered,

"I just want my mother. Can we go see her now?"

"Oh course we can." The Doctor smiled. Even he could stomach Jackie if it meant Rose would be happy. He just hoped that Jackie didn't blame him for all this somehow, but knowing she probably would, he relaxed his jaw to ready himself for the slapping that was to follow.

The TARDIS materialized in the living room just as Jackie was filling her kettle, most likely to make a cup of tea. A good thing too since it was obvious that she would have company. Jackie's heart raced with joy and anxiety from the sound of the TARDIS because it heralded Rose's return, but also meant things would be getting a bit weird too. And weird they did get as a blue police box was sitting in her living room. Jackie raced up to the doors of the TARDIS just in time to see one of the doors swing open and a very upset Rose emerge.

"You're alive. Oh mum, you're alive." Cried Rose as she threw herself into her mother's arms as best she could with the 'obstruction' in front of her. Rose nuzzled her nose into her mother's shoulders and breathed in her scent. Jackie welcomingly accepted her daughter's embrace although almost embarrassed by how serious Rose seemed to be. Of course she was alive. Why wouldn't she be? Hoping to break the serious mood that had suddenly formed in her living room, Jackie half in jest and half with concern announced,

"Well, I was the last time I looked. What is it? What's happened, sweetheart? What's wrong? Where did you go?"

"Far away. That was far away." Stated the Doctor with a faraway look to match his sentence.

"Where's Mickey?" Asked Jackie confused and looking over Rose's shoulder into the TARDIS for him.

"He's gone home." The Doctor said solemnly.

"The way you say it, it don't sound like he just around the block." Noted Jackie as she looked at her son-in-law. Rose just clung tighter to her mother and Jackie began to worry that it was something serious. Jackie locked eyes with the Doctor and obviously upset that she had to ask this question, mouthed, 'Is he dead?' Jackie didn't want Rose to hear her ask if this was the case, she was obviously upset enough. The Doctor mouthed 'no' which put Jackie at some ease. She had grown very close to Mickey over this last year and she'd hate to think that she outlived him. That wasn't right for the next generation to die first.

"Rose, love, let's have a cuppa. I got a kettle to put on and we can sit down and have a talk." Jackie told her daughter in a voice that only a mother could. Rose nodded her head and directed her daughter to the small kitchen.

"Well since there's a big old police box in the middle of my living room, we will have to sit in the kitchen." Declared Jackie in a mock irritated voice. She then bellowed to the Doctor,

"Come on, you. I can't believe I'm going to say this, but you do the talking. Well, at least until Rose is done having her first cup." The Doctor nodded and as they waited for the kettle to boil the Doctor began to recount their journey. Of course he could have used his sonic to just bring the water to its boiling point immediately, but he knew that it was all part of the supposed relaxing ritual of making tea. Waiting wasn't very relaxing to him after all, but he was doing this for Rose and that was all that mattered. If doing something as domestic as recounting their trip to his mother-in-law in her kitchen was necessary for Rose's happiness then so be it.

As the afternoon progressed, Rose and the Doctor had a moment to themselves while Jackie went out to get food for dinner. Rose at first had wanted to come, but Jackie had been insistent that Rose rest while she was out marketing. The Doctor could only cringe at the idea of what Jackie might bring home to eat that was on sale at the market. Only alone did Rose recount entirely what had happened to her while they were separated. To mention the story in its entirety to her mother was impossible. Mentioning yet another encounter with her father to Jackie would only be cruel. There would be no point to it and it would probably upset her mother. Even though Jackie didn't say anything more after Rose had mentioned her first encounter with Pete, Rose knew her mother had to be a bit envious that she had missed out on it. If the Doctor was actually able to offer another opportunity for Jackie to see her dead husband again, Rose felt that her mother might actually take it.

The blond also took this opportunity to tell the Doctor what she had felt from the baby. The Doctor had been ecstatic at the news. It was wonderful that Rose was developing such a strong psychic connection to the baby. Rose had even expressed that she wished she could make the bond stronger. All she really got off their daughter was the occasional wave of emotions and Rose just felt that she could be communicating better with the baby.

"You are definitely right there. I'm actually able to project pictures and my thoughts to her via our link. She will have the most thorough knowledge of Earth birds than any new born ever. Along with a few other things, sort of a jumpstart education program you might say." Lectured the Doctor to his wife. Rose looked a bit enviously at the Doctor and gazed down at her stomach.

"I can't share anything like that with her." Rose mourned. The best a human mother could do for a baby in the womb was talk and sing, and that only worked after a baby had ears.

"Well, it wasn't easy at first. After I, oh I'll say it, I abandoned you and Mickey on that Space station…She sort of sided with you. It took weeks for her to even 'speak' to me again. There were a lot of birds outside where you worked an around the house. It seemed like a neutral topic." Explained the Doctor as he scratched the back of his head. Rose spotted the nervous tick on the Doctor and could see that he had more to say.

The Doctor, after a huge nervous breath, made Rose an offer,

"Rose there is a way for you to be able to communicate telepathically with her. Beyond just projecting emotions or her reading off of you. You could have some basic conversations with her developing mind. I'm sure that having you there to help with her development, atop mine, would be a plus… But it would also mean you would have to open yourself up to me telepathically to do so. I would act as a link from your mind to hers and that would mean sharing our thoughts." The Doctor now looked a wreck. He didn't know what she would say. He couldn't help but have two motives for this. One, of course being that he wanted Rose to be as much a part of their daughter's development as he was. And second, that he longed to be connected to her on that level. The last adult person for him to have a telepathic connection to was Reinette. Knowing that he had experienced such a connection with the French woman before his own wife, and that he had enjoyed it too, filled him with guilt. It meant knowing each other completely and right now, he knew and had been shown more personal things by Reinette than his Rose. He wanted to rectify that. If Rose could read his thoughts, then maybe she would have more understanding of what drove him basically to do stupid things when it involved their relationship. Or why his telepathic romp with Reinette had been so hard to resist. Maybe if she could see how sad, lonely and desperate it was inside his big thick skull, she might find it in her heart to forgive him. He didn't want to make excuses for his behaviors, he wanted to apologize for them and have Rose understand what fears drove him to act so cowardly. He would understand if she didn't feel ready to link with him, but he lived in hope. Rose at first did not look the Doctor in the eyes as she collected her thoughts. Was she ready to be that close to the Doctor yet? After a moment she realized that she was not. She was still hurt by his previous actions she thought as she unconsciously twisted the wedding band on her finger behind her back. She was just getting comfortable being friends again and what he suggested would be the most intimate act they'd do together yet. And she could not do that with a person she had not grown to fully trust again or even felt comfortable kissing again. It was a shame because she wanted to interact in a way similar to the Doctor was with their daughter. But she couldn't have the Doctor or her daughter fishing around inside her head when she had so much doubt about her relationship with her husband. If she ever let him do that with her, she wanted it to be when she felt they had a trusting and open relationship first.

"…I'm sorry, Doctor. I really want that with the baby, but I can't…not yet…" Rose had to admit. As the Doctor had suspected, despite how much Rose wanted that deeper connection with her baby, she wasn't ready just yet to telepathically connect with him. He was saddened, but her confession had not ruled it out completely so maybe soon she'd be ready.

"If it's alright with you, I think I'd like to take a nap on the couch before Mum gets back. I'm really drained from today." Rose stated to which the Doctor was visibly disappointed but looking to please, said,

"Of course, brilliant. A little kip before mealtime should do your energy levels wonders. Can I get you a pillow and a blanket?" Rose smiled at him and answered,

"That would be lovely, thank you."

Author's Notes: Now on to the Idiot's Lantern! Are you sitting comfortably, dear reader? Heh, heh.