AARGH! This is late! I'm sorry; I don't have any real excuse I'm just lazy! On a happier note thank you for the lovely reviewers; I'm very happy you are enjoying my story! This chapter is evil and very long; if you hate by the end of it I really can't blame you.
"Doctor!" the voice was familiar, but no, it couldn't be. Not here; the Master had finally broken his mind because he couldn't be hearing that voice. "Doctor!" No, no, not here please, don't let her be here! He opened his eyes, afraid of what he might see, also afraid of what he might not. He was used to opening his eyes on darkness but this time there was a soft light.
Lamplight? No, candlelight. Someone had lit a candle and that someone was now kneeling beside him. He blinked against the unaccustomed light and looked up into the face he had never thought to see again.
"Rose?" his voice rasped from disuse and her name sounded strange to his ears. Something was very wrong; she shouldn't be here, there was a reason, a reason so powerful he could feel it burning in his memory, but he couldn't quite grasp it.
There were other memories pressing in on him now, memories he had buried so deep; drawing his consciousness into a tiny, tight ball, protecting his mind from phantoms that haunted him. Now the memories rushed back, tearing through the feeble walls constructed to keep them out and he closed his eyes as if somehow he could block out the images.
There had been others; he remembered them now. Jack. Sarah-Jane. Martha. No, not Jack, Jack was alive, wandering through the wasted Earth below, wandering on a fool's errand.
"Doctor, please!" he blocked out Rose's voice, so close to tears, and lost himself in the torrent of memories.
Martha; her eyes were filled with guilt even in death. He fought against the guards holding him, struggling to get to her, to somehow stop the flow of red that surrounded her limp body. Too late, he'd abandoned her, failed her; too late to save her.
Sarah-Jane defiant to the last, eyes still blazing with fury when the Toclaphane tore out her throat. He'd broken free, ran too her; her blood was warm on his hands as he tried to stem the flow. Too little; too late, she was gone and the blood of one of his oldest friends was on his hands. No one to blame but himself.
"Doctor!" Rose's voice was insistent, would not be ignored, but she wasn't there. The universe had stolen her from him; he hadn't saved her, he'd been helpless as she was torn from him and trapped forever in a universe he could never reach. It couldn't be Rose who knelt beside him, calling out. It couldn't be Rose's hand gently running through his hair. It was a dream, a trick of his weakening mind, the Master's final attempt to break him.
Did it matter? If she was a figment of his imagination surely she could still comfort him with her words and her touch. If he was mad he would never again know the difference between dream and reality. If she was a trick of the Master's would it not be better to give in, if only to see her face, hear her laugh?
"Please, listen to me; I don't have much time! You have to remember Jack, you have to remember why you sent him away!" Her voice was growing desperate and he frowned. He would hardly have dreamed Rose demanding him to remember where he'd sent Jack.
He opened his eyes, curiosity he could never quite conquer taking control again. She was older than he remembered, older and tired, or maybe he was older and tired and only imagining the same in her.
"You can't be here; it's impossible. You being here will tear a hole in the universe," he didn't mean to scold her, but the whole situation made very little sense.
Rose smiled, the heaviness in her eyes lifting. "Do you really think another hole in the universe matters at this point?" her expression darkened. "The Master's paradox machine has already done so much damage I don't think breaking a few more rules makes much of a difference."
Paradox machine. An image of a blue box flashed through his mind and he felt an inexplicable rage. "He took the TARDIS!"
Rose nodded. "Did he tell you who the Toclaphane are?"
He closed his eyes briefly trying to sort through the chaotic memories. "Oh, Doctor! If you only knew; it would break your hearts!"
"They're the future; they're what the human race becomes and now they're murdering their ancestors! That has to be why the Master needed to create a paradox machine." His memories were becoming clearer and he now remembered his whispered words to Jack. How could he have forgotten? Had he truly been so close to giving up?
"I'm sorry, I'm so sorry," he wasn't sure who he was apologizing to. There was so much he would never make right, so many people he could never save, but this he could fix. He could save the Earth. He could save Jack.
The Doctor smiled and wrapped his arms around Rose. "Thank you Rose Tyler, for always knowing how to save me."
She laughed against his shoulder and in that moment it didn't matter if she was real because he could feel her beside him; could feel her heart beating, could feel the warmth of her breath against his neck and could feel her arms returning his embrace. For the moment that was enough and the Doctor drifted into a peaceful sleep.
Jack was trying very hard not to curse; he'd expected that seeing what the Toclaphane really were would be a shock, but he hadn't expected them to have human faces inside their casing. He also had never imagined they would be the future of the human race. Tom seemed equally shocked but Professor Docherty was oddly unaffected. She was middle aged and her face was hard; her eyes shadowed, and Jack knew full well she was not to be trusted.
When she offered them a bed for the night Jack knew Tom wanted nothing more than to accept but he shook his head and insisted they continue on towards London. As it turned out the only made it as far as the slave quarters in an otherwise deserted town before Tom flatly refused to go further.
"London's overrun with wild dogs, if we go there at night we'll be eaten alive."
Jack scowled, calculating the odds of coming back to life inside a dogs stomach, and decided that it was best not to try. There was no option but to give in and allow Tom to lead him into the cramped, dirty house where at least a hundred miserable looking people huddled.
This was what the human race had come to; slavery and ruin, huddling together under filthy blankets to stave off the biting cold and vainly attempting to hold hunger at bay by eating the trash left behind by the Master's soldiers.
The people swarmed around Jack and Tom when they entered; staring at Jack with wide wondering eyes and plying him with questions in quiet, desperate voices.
Tom frowned, trying to push them back, but Jack shook his head. He was exhausted, but this was what made his travels worthwhile. The people, the desperate pleas for hope, the light that returned to dull eyes as he told his story. These people; not the precious chemicals in his pocket, not the distant hope of the Master's defeat, but the people of Earth were the reason he kept going.
They clustered around him; their eyes eager as he took a seat on the stairs and cleared his throat.
"There is a man, a wonderful man; and when everything seems lost, when hope dies and life becomes so bleak, that's when he comes. His name is the Doctor, and I know him; I've traveled with him, and he is going to save us. He is going to put everything right. He has already saved all of us so many times and we never knew because he never stops. He never stays to be thanked and he never expects recognition. He is always there; always watching and he loves us; all of us. He loves the whole stupid, idiotic, brilliant human race, and he will never, ever, stop trying to save us; to protect us."
Eyes grew bright, dirty faces broke into smiles, and exhausted broken people breathed deep and found hope again. Jack talked until his throat was sore and his voice hoarse; telling them of the Doctor, telling them about his plan to kill the Master; the gun in three parts scattered around the world. The gun that would kill the invincible monster who held them all in fear, and how he knew where the final part was concealed.
It was nearly dawn when the sound of whirring helicopter blades cut across his hoarse words, and the voice that made all who heard it cower in fear rang through the street.
"Jack! Captain Jack! Come out, come out where ever you are!"
Jack hid a smile as he stood and pushed his way through the frightened, cowering people. The Master had come and now it was time for Jack to complete the Doctor's plan.
Whew! Hopefully that all made sense; if not don't worry, everything will be explained eventually. I hope you enjoyed seeing Rose in this chapter! Also, I debated changing the rating and eventually decided that I would rather err on the side of caution so I went ahead and upped it to M, as later chapter will also get very intense in parts. Anyway, tangent over, maybe. Please leave me a review! And thank you to those who have review in the past; I hope to hear from you again. Until next time-Dalek