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The Next Adventure

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“Doctor, we’ve been here fifteen minutes. Can’t you sit still?” Rose whispered to the Doctor when Sarah Jane left the room to go put the kettle on for tea.

“What do you mean?” He asked, offended.

“You look like you’re already trying to come up with an excuse to leave. It’s rude,” Rose chastised him.

“I am not,” he argued.

Rose shook her head. “You don’t have to stay if you don’t want to. You can go do whatever you want, and just come pick me up tonight. Or, you could just jump a few hours into the future and then pick me up immediately if you’re going to be so impatient. I really don’t know what’s gotten into you. Sarah Jane is your friend.”

“I just feel like something’s about to happen, and we’re going to miss it if we just stay here,” he admitted.

“Go do whatever you need to do then. I’ll be fine here with Sarah Jane,” Rose replied.

“Are you sure?” the Doctor asked.

“Oh, it might even be better with you out of the way,” Sarah Jane interrupted, coming out of the kitchen with the kettle and a couple of mugs. “That way Rose and I can trade stories without you interrupting every five seconds.”

“I do not interrupt!” The Doctor exclaimed. Rose and Sarah Jane both raised an eyebrow at that. The Doctor continued, a little bit more sheepishly, “I might interject from time to time to ensure that all the information is factual, but it isn’t anywhere near the same thing as interrupting.”

“Go on Doctor. Have a little adventure, and we’ll be right here when you get back,” Sarah Jane reassured him.

“Just make sure you come back in less than twelve months?” Rose said with one of her tongue touched smiles.

“Rose Tyler, that was not my fault!” He said standing up.

Rose’s smile widened. “Sure it wasn’t, Doctor.”

“That sounds like a story I need to hear,” Sarah Jane smiled.

“It wasn’t funny at the time, but it ended with him getting slapped by my mum!” Rose laughed.

“Okay, I’m leaving now!” The Doctor announced loudly.

“Goodbye Doctor!” The girls said in unison, giggling as he left.

“Okay, so did he leave you for twelve months?” Sarah Jane asked.

Rose laughed, “No, I was with him. He was bringing me home for the first time after I started travelling with him. He told me that to everyone, I only had been gone twelve hours. But when I walked into the flat, my mum looked like she had seen a ghost. Apparently, it had been twelve months instead of twelve hours. Poor Mickey… The police were convinced he had killed me!”

“Speaking of Mickey…” Sarah Jane started.

“He’s fine. He’s in the parallel universe with my mum. The parallel version of him, Rickey, died, and Mickey decided that he could actually make a difference over there, so he chose to stay,” Rose explained.

“Oh, I am so relieved to hear you say that. For the past nine months, I’ve thought the both of you were dead. I had called some of my old UNIT friends the day of the Battle of Canary Wharf to see what had happened, and they had swept in and compiled a list of the missing and dead from Torchwood. They weren’t positive when it came to Mickey because he had disappeared earlier, but it had looked like there was footage of him in the building. All of the cameras ended up going offline at one point, so it was impossible to know what had happened to the people inside. That was why they were pretty sure you were dead. They saw you in the building, but there was no evidence you ever came out. And with Cybermen and Daleks… Well, that was just an unlucky combination,” Sarah Jane said.

“You’re telling me,” Rose sighed. “But I want to hear more about UNIT. The Doctor’s mentioned it before, but he never really talks about it. Getting him to talk about his past is like pulling teeth.”

“Oh, well I can tell you stories about UNIT…” Sarah Jane started.

**********************************************************************************************************************

The Doctor decided it was best to get away from the girls quickly. He was glad Rose had someone to talk to, but he had a feeling most of their stories would end up being jokes at his expense. Not that he really minded, if it made Rose smile, but it wasn’t
something he needed to be there for.

Ever since they had landed at Sarah Jane’s, the Doctor had felt like something big was about to happen. He could feel the hair on the back of his neck standing up in anticipation. He made it back to the TARDIS and announced, “Well Old Girl! It’s just you and me today. And something big is about to happen. Can’t you feel it?”

The TARDIS flashed its lights in anticipation. Something big was about to happen. Her Wolf wouldn’t be thrilled about it, but her Thief was going to need a catalyst if he was ever going to do anything about his feelings, and his soon-to-be new friend was going to be important to that event. The TARDIS, being all-knowing as she was, knew that the next two years would be hard on her Wolf especially, but she was strong, and she could take it. It was what was needed to move everything along.

Without waiting for the Doctor to do anything, the TARDIS took off, landing him right outside of Royal Hope Hospital in downtown London. “Is this where I’m supposed to be then?” the Doctor asked, not waiting for an answer before he sauntered out onto the street.

The moment he stepped out, he realized the hair on the back of his neck wasn’t standing up in anticipation at all. It was literally standing on end because of the high amounts of static electricity in the air. It wasn’t supposed to storm that day, not in London. But it certainly felt like it was going to storm. And the closer he got to the hospital, the stronger the static got. The Doctor decided the best way to handle this would be Rose’s way, the domestic approach. No need to go barging into the hospital pretending to be an inspector when he could just as easily pretend to be a patient.

**********************************************************************************************************************

The telly was on in the background while Rose and Sarah Jane talked, but neither woman was paying it much attention, that is until Rose felt a cold shock wave go through her. “Something’s wrong,” Rose said.
“What?” Sarah Jane asked. “What do you mean?”

“Something is wrong with the Doctor. Don’t ask how I know it, I just do,” Rose shrugged, grabbing the remote and flipping the channel until she reached the news.

“Royal Hope Hospital has vanished,” the newscaster said, standing in front of a smoking crater. “No one knows exactly what happened, but eyewitnesses report noticing that the rain was going up shortly before a giant flash of lighting occurred, blinding anyone in the vicinity for a moment. When the flash cleared the building was gone. More on this story as it develops.”

“Think he’s wherever the hospital is?” Sarah Jane asked.

“I’d bet you ten quid he is,” Rose replied.

“Well, do you want to go do a little investigating ourselves? Not quite as exciting as the TARDIS, but once you’ve lived that life…” Sarah Jane started.

“You can’t just go back to sitting around,” Rose smiled, jumping up and racing Sarah Jane to the car.

**********************************************************************************************************************

“But they're not exactly air tight. If the air was going to get sucked out it would have happened straight away, but it didn't. So how come?” The student told her friend.

“Very good point. Brilliant, in fact. What was your name?” The Doctor asked, stepping out from behind a curtain.

“Martha,” she replied.

“And it was Jones, wasn’t it?” Martha nodded. “Well then, Martha Jones, the question is, how are we still breathing?”

“We can’t be,” the panicked student next to Martha exclaimed.

“Obviously we are, so don't waste my time. Martha, what have we got? Is there a balcony on this floor, or a veranda, or…” The Doctor replied.

“By the patient’s lounge, yeah,” Martha said.

“Fancy going out?” The Doctor asked.

“Okay,” she replied hesitantly.

“We might die,” the Doctor said.

“We might not,” Martha countered.

The Doctor smiled. “Good. Come on.” He started to walk away, then turned back to point at Martha’s friend. “Not her. She’d hold us up.”

Martha took off after the Doctor. They made their way to the veranda and hesitantly opened the door. They slowly stepped out, and Martha gasped, “We’ve got air. How does that work?”

“Just be glad it does.”

“I’ve got a party tonight,” Martha said. “My brother’s twenty first. My mother’s going to be really, really…”

“You okay?” The Doctor asked, suddenly wishing Rose were here. She was much better at this sort of thing. Martha was freaking out, which was to be expected, despite her level-headedness from earlier. She was clever, but no amount of cleverness could prepare you for this.

“Yeah,” she replied, snapping the Doctor out of his musing.

“Sure?” He asked again, knowing that she was lying.

“Yeah.”

“Want to go back in?” The Doctor asked.

“No way,” Martha replied. “I mean, we could die any minute, but all the same, it’s beautiful.”

“Do you think?”

“How many people want to go to the moon? And here we are,” Martha said.

“Standing in the Earthlight,” the Doctor smiled.

“What do you think happened?” Martha asked.

“What do you think?” the Doctor countered.

Martha paused for a second before she replied, “Extraterrestrial. It's got to be. I don't know, a few years ago that would have sounded mad, but these days? That spaceship flying into Big Ben, Christmas, those Cybermen things. I had a cousin. Adeola. She worked at Canary Wharf. She never came home.”

“I’m sorry,” the Doctor said.

“Yeah,” Martha sighed.

“I was there, in the battle,” the Doctor said.

After a pause, Martha said, “I promise you, Mister Smith, we will find a way out. If we can travel to the moon, then we can travel back. There's got to be a way.”

“It’s not Smith,” he said. “That’s not my real name.”

“Who are you then?” Martha asked.

“I’m the Doctor.”

Martha chuckled. “Me too, if I ever pass my exams. What is it then? Doctor Smith?”

“Just the Doctor,” he replied.

Martha shook her head. “How do you mean, just the Doctor?”

“Just the Doctor,” he repeated.

Martha rolled her eyes. “What? People call you ‘The Doctor?’”

“Yeah,” he nodded.

“Well, I’m not,” Martha huffed. “As far as I’m concerned, you’ve got to earn that title.”

“Well, I’d better make a start then,” the Doctor said. He picked up a pebble from the ground and chucked it out toward the Earth. “Let’s have a look. There must be some sort of…” He paused while he waited for the pebble to collide with something. “Forcefield keeping the air in.”

“But if that’s like a bubble keeping the air in, that means this is the only air we’ve got. What happens when it runs out?” Martha realized.

“How many people in this hospital?” the Doctor asked.

Martha shrugged. “I don’t know, a thousand?”

“One thousand people, suffocating,” the Doctor whispered. Suddenly he was glad Rose was safe and sound with Sarah Jane. His respiratory bypass would give him extra time to fix it, but Rose didn’t need to be in this danger. He still had no idea what was going on, and time was running out.

“Why would anyone do that?” Martha asked.

“Heads up,” the Doctor said as spaceships flew overhead. “Ask them yourself.”

“Aliens. That’s aliens. Real, proper aliens,” Martha gasped.

“Judoon,” the Doctor growled.

**********************************************************************************************************************

Sarah Jane pulled the car as close as she could to the crater. She and Rose climbed out and made their way toward the barricade. “Oh no,” Sarah Jane said. “UNIT isn’t here yet. It’s just the police.”

“How would UNIT help us?” Rose asked.

“I have some pull with the Brigadier, and I probably could have gotten us in,” Sarah Jane explained.

“That would have made things easier,” Rose sighed. “But I guess we’ll just have to try it my way, as the Doctor says.”

“What way is that then?” Sarah Jane smiled.

Tapping a stranger on the back, Rose turned her head to grin at Sarah Jane. “The domestic approach.”

Together, they took off, posing as reporters, interviewing people for their stories. “Got anything useful?” Sarah Jane asked half an hour later when they met back up.

“Nothing that tells me what might have happened,” Rose said.

“Me neither,” Sarah Jane sighed.

The two women continued to meander through the crowd before Rose gasped and grabbed Sarah Jane’s arm. “Look!” Rose said, pointing to a little blue box that nearly everyone else was ignoring.

“Well, I guess we know for sure that the Doctor is here,” Sarah Jane replied.

“The TARDIS might be able to help us,” Rose said. “Maybe she recorded something or I don’t know…”

“Can’t hurt to see,” Sarah Jane shrugged. “Besides, I have missed her.”

They smiled and pushed their way through the crowd and into the box. “Hello Old Girl,” Rose smiled, stroking a coral strut.

“Oh don’t you start on that too,” Sarah Jane laughed.

“The TARDIS likes it,” Rose shrugged.

Sarah Jane rolled her eyes. “Did she tell you that?”

“Not in words,” Rose replied. “But we do talk. I don’t know how to explain it. The longer I’ve been here, the more I’ve been able to understand. It used to just be vague emotions, but now it’s more like thoughts that I know are hers, not mine. You know?”

“I certainly never experienced that,” Sarah Jane replied.

“I don’t know. It’s been getting slowly stronger,” Rose said. “And she’s telling me that we need to go home. The Doctor has it, and he’ll be worried if we aren’t at your house when he shows up to pick me up.”

“How do you know that?” Sarah Jane asked.

“It’s kind of like she showed me,” Rose replied. “Like I had two memories in my head, both of things that haven’t happened yet. One showed us going back now and just waiting for the Doctor. The other showed him arriving at your place and panicking.”

Sarah Jane looked up at the ceiling uncertaintly. “Are you sure we should go back?”

The lights of the TARDIS flashed as Rose said, “Yes.”

“Well,” Sarah Jane sighed. “Let’s go home then.”

**********************************************************************************************************************

“Think, think, think. If I was a plasmavore surrounded by police, what would I do?” The Doctor asked himself. He glanced up and saw a sign pointing to the MRI. “Ah. She’s clever as me. Almost.”

Behind them there was a crash, followed by screams. “Find the non-human. Execute,” a Judoon ordered.

“Martha, stay here. I need time. You’ve got to hold them up,” the Doctor said.

“How do I do that?” she asked.

“Just forgive me for this. It could save a thousand lives. It means nothing. Honestly, nothing,” the Doctor sighed. He leaned forward and kissed her in order to transfer some of his alien DNA to her. Not for the first or even the hundredth time that day, he found himself wishing it was Rose that was with him. If it was, he would at least be able to kiss her while still keeping to his rules. Because his rules had to account for breaking them to save the world, right?

But it wasn’t Rose, it was Martha, and he pulled away as soon as he was sure the sensors would be temporarily fooled. He took off down the hall fast enough that even his superior Time Lord hearing missed Martha saying, “That was nothing?”

The Doctor stumbled into the MRI room where Florence, the plasmavore, was adjusting the scanner. Deciding to play dumb, he exclaimed, “Have you seen them? There are these things. These great big space rhino things. I mean, rhinos from space. And we're on the moon! Great big space rhinos with guns on the moon. And I only came in for my bunions, look. I mean, all fixed now. Perfectly good treatment. The nurses were lovely. I said to my wife, I said I'd recommend this place to anyone, but then we end up on the moon. And did I mention the rhinos?”

“Hold him!” she barked to the Slab, who grabbed the Doctor’s arms.

“Er, that, that big machine thing. Is it supposed to be making that noise?” The Doctor asked, still playing dumb.

“You wouldn’t understand,” she spat at him.

“But isn't that a magnetic resonance imaging thing? Like a ginormous sort of a magnet? I did magnetics GCSE. Well, I failed, but all the same,” he rambled.

“The magnetic setting now increased to fifty thousand Tesla,” she smiled.

“Ohh, that’s a bit strong, isn’t it?” the Doctor commented.

“It'll send out a magnetic pulse that'll fry the brain stems of every living thing within two hundred and fifty thousand miles. Except for me, safe in this room,” she said.

“But er, hold on, hold on, I did Geography GSCE. I passed that one. Doesn’t that distance include the Earth?” the Doctor asked.

“Only the side facing the moon. The other half will survive. Call it my little gift,” Florence shrugged.

“I'm sorry, you'll have to excuse me, I'm a little out of my depth. I've spent the past fifteen years working as a postman. Hence the bunions. Why would you do that?” the Doctor continued his little charade.

“With everyone dead, the Judoon ships will be mine, to make my escape,” Florence explained.

“No, that’s weird. You’re talking like you’re some sort of an alien,” the Doctor asked, eyes wide in mock shock.

“Quite so,” she smiled.

“No!” he gasped.

“Oh, yes.”

“You’re joshing me,” the Doctor gasped.

“I am not,” she replied.

“I’m talking to an alien? In a hospital? What has this place got an ET department?” the Doctor joked.

She shrugged and spread her arms wide. “It's the perfect hiding place. Blood banks downstairs for a midnight feast, and all this equipment ready to arm myself with should the police come looking.”

“So, those rhinos, they’re looking for you?” he asked.

“Yes. But I’m hidden,” she replied.

“Right, maybe that’s why they’re increasing their scans,” the Doctor shrugged.

She paused. “They’re doing what?”

“Big chief rhino boy, he said, no sign of a non-human, we must increase our scans up to…setting two?”

“Then I must assimilate again,” she said.

“What does that mean?” the Doctor asked.

“I must appear to be human,” she explained.

“Well, you’re welcome to come home and meet the wife,” the Doctor smiled. “She’d be honored. We can have cake!” His mind briefly flashed to Rose, but he reminded himself that Rose was not his wife. She never could be. She was human and would wither and
die, so he couldn’t get any closer to her than he already was.

“Why should I have cake?” she asked, pulling something out of her bag. “I’ve got me little straw.”

“Oh, that’s nice. Milkshake?” I like banana,” the Doctor said.

She smiled. “You're quite the funny man. And yet, I think, laughing on purpose at the darkness. I think it's time you found some peace. Steady him!”

The Slab forced the Doctor to his knees and turned his head so Florence had a good view of his neck. “What are you doing?” he asked.

“I’m afraid this is going to hurt. But, if it’s any consolation, the dead don’t tend to remember,” she said, sticking her straw into his neck and beginning to suck. A minute later, the door to the room was knocked down. Florence dropped him and shoved her straw in her bag. “Now see what you’ve done. This poor man just died of fright!”

“Scan him,” a Judoon ordered. “Confirmation. Deceased.”

Martha pushed behind the Judoon. “No, he can’t be. Let me through. Let me see him!”

“Stop. Case Closed,” the Judoon declared.

“But it was her!” Martha exclaimed. “She killed him. She did it. She murdered him.”

“Judoon have no authority over human crime,” the Judoon declared.

“But she’s not human,” Martha argued.

Florence held up her hand with the X on it. “Oh, but I am. I’ve been catalogued.”

“But she’s not! She assimi—” Martha paused, and then continued more calmly. “Wait a minute. You drank his blood? The Doctor’s blood?” She grabbed a Judoon scanner and held it up to Florence’s face.

“Oh, I don’t mind,” Florence said cheerily. “Scan all you like.”

“Non-human,” the Judoon declared.

“But, what?” Florence asked.

“Confirm analysis,” the Judoon said.

Florence began panicking. “Oh, but it’s a mistake, surely. I’m human. I’m as human as they come.”

Martha quietly whispered, “He gave his life so they’d find you.”

“Confirm. Plasmavore, charged with the crime of murdering the child princess of Patrival Regency Nine,” the Judoon said.

“Well, she deserved it! Those pink cheeks and those blonde curls and that simpering voice. She was begging for the bite of a plasmavore,” Florence sneered, completely dropping the innocent old lady act.

“Then you confess?” the Judoon asked.

“Confess?” I’m proud of it!” She declared. “Slab, stop them!”

The Judoon fried the Slab, then turned to Florence. “Verdict: guilty. Sentence: execution.” They pulled out their guns as Florence plugged in the MRI.

“Enjoy your victory, Judoon, because you’re going to burn with me. Burn in hell!” She cried as the Judoon incinerated her.

“But what did she mean, burn with me?” Martha asked. “The scanner shouldn’t be doing that. She’s done something.”

The Judoon scanned the MRI machine. “Scans detect lethal acceleration of monomagnetic pulse.”

“Well do something! Stop it!” Martha exclaimed.

“Our jurisdiction has ended. Judoon will evacuate,” the Judoon declared.

“What? You can’t just leave it. What’s it going to do?” Martha asked.

“All units withdraw,” the Judoon said.

Martha tried to argue with the Judoon as they left, but she knew they were running out of air and it was pointless. She began CPR on the Doctor, but after a minute, she remembered that he had two hearts. The Doctor woke up with a gasp as Martha collapsed from lack of air. “The scanner. She did something.”

The Doctor crawled into the booth and went to disable the scanner before remembering that he had lost his sonic, so instead he just unplugged it. The sparkling in the chamber stopped, and he picked up Martha, carrying her to a window where he could watch the Judoon reverse the H2O scoop.

Chaos ensued as everyone in the hospital regained consciousness, and the Doctor slipped away. When he was alone in the TARDIS, he started to set the coordinates for Sarah Jane’s house, but he stopped. Rose had invited Donna along. Why shouldn’t he invite Martha? She was clever and would probably enjoy it. And besides, she could help serve as a buffer. Remind him of what normal humans were, and that Rose was one. That would help him stick to his rules.

With his mind made up, the Doctor set the coordinates for Martha’s brother’s 21st birthday party. He heard arguing and stood watching from a corner until Martha was the only one left. When she saw him, she smiled, and he slipped around the corner to the TARDIS. Martha followed him.

“I went to the moon today,” she said.

“Bit more peaceful than down here,” he smirked.

“You never even told me who you are,” Martha sighed.

“The Doctor,” he replied, mysteriously.

“What sort of species? Not every day I get to ask that,” Martha remarked.

“I’m a Time Lord,” he replied.

“Right, not pompous at all then,” Martha smirked.

“I just thought since you saved my life and I've got a brand new sonic screwdriver which needs road testing, you might fancy a trip,” the Doctor said.

Martha stared at him. “What, into space?”

“Well,” he said.

She shook her head, “But I can't. I've got exams. I've got things to do. I have to go into town first thing and pay the rent, I've got my family going mad.”

“If it helps, I can travel in time as well,” he replied, slipping his new sonic back into his pocket.

“Get out of here,” Martha replied.

“I can,” he insisted.

“Come on now. That’s going too far,” Martha said.

“I’ll prove it!” he declared, disappearing into the TARDIS. It dematerialized, and Martha reached out to touch the air where it had been, shortly before it rematerialized. The Doctor stepped back out, holding his tie. “Told ya.”

“No, but that was this morning,” Martha said. “Did you? Oh, my God. You can travel in time. But hold on. If you could see me this morning, why didn't you tell me not to go in to work?”

“Crossing into established events is strictly forbidden,” the Doctor explained. “Except for cheap tricks.”

“And that’s your spaceship?” Martha asked.

“It’s called the TARDIS. Time And Relative Dimension In Space,” the Doctor explained.

“Your spaceship’s made of wood. There’s not much room. We’d be a bit intimate,” Martha commented.

“Take a look,” the Doctor replied, opening the door.

Martha stepped in, and said, “No, no, no.” She ran out. “But it’s just a box. But it’s huge!” She ran back inside. “How does it do that? It's wood. It's like a box with that room just rammed in. It's bigger on the inside!”

“Is it?” the Doctor asked. “I hadn’t noticed.” He shut the door. “Right then, let’s get going.”

“But is there a crew? Like a navigator and stuff? Where is everyone?” Martha asked.

“Right, just a moment!” the Doctor said, setting the coordinates for Sarah Jane’s house. “You stay here, look around. Just don’t touch anything on the console. I’ll be right back,” he said, slipping out the door.

“Doctor!” Rose yelled, running out the door to meet him. “We were expecting you back ages ago!”

“Well, got into a bit of trouble, but it’s fine now,” he shrugged, giving Rose a hug.

“Oh,” Sarah Jane said, coming outside. “How was the moon?”

“Well, the Judoon platoon upon the moon was a bit—hold on, how did you know I was on the moon?” the Doctor asked.

“Doesn’t take a genius to figure out that when an entire building goes missing, you probably went missing along with it,” Rose replied, smiling with her tongue between her teeth.

“Hey!” He exclaimed.

Sarah Jane shook her head fondly. “Would you care to join me for dinner?” she asked.

“Oh, thank you Sarah, but it’s time we got back out there. Besides, I’ve got a surprise for Rose!” the Doctor said.

“A surprise?” Rose smiled.

He grinned back at her.

“Well, then get back out there and save the universe,” Sarah Jane replied. “But Rose, if you ever need anything, just give me a call okay?”

“Will do,” Rose smiled. “And thank you for everything Sarah Jane.”

“Don’t mention it,” she smiled. “Now go on!”

With one last wave at Sarah Jane, the Doctor led Rose back to the TARDIS. He pushed open the door and Rose followed him in. She stopped before she made it up the ramp though. The TARDIS was not pleased. Rose could tell that She couldn’t argue with whatever the Doctor’s surprise was, but that the Old Girl did not like it.

“Doctor, this place is—” Martha stopped short when she saw Rose standing on the ramp. “Who are you?”

“I could be asking you the same question,” Rose said, crossing her arms and turning to face the Doctor.

“Martha Jones, meet Rose Tyler. Rose, Martha,” he explained. “Martha is training to be a doctor. I met her in the hospital and she was brilliant, so I offered her a trip!”

“Ah,” Rose said. The two women sized each other up before Rose continued into the ship and started down the hall without another word.

“Rose, where are you going?” the Doctor asked.

“I’m tired Doctor. I’m going to bed. Figure an adventure is best on a full night’s rest for us humans,” she said, trying to blink away the tears.

She made it to her room and slammed the door shut. Sitting down on her bed, she began to let the tears flow. She couldn’t understand how she could have been that stupid. She had been beginning to think of her and the Doctor as equals. She thought the TARDIS was their home, not just his. Obviously, she was wrong. Because if it was her home too, he would have asked before bringing another woman on board. A gorgeous, brilliant woman. Martha was going to be a doctor. Rose hadn’t even gotten her A-levels. It was pretty clear who was going to win the Doctor’s attention from that point on.

Rose laid down on her bed and sobbed into her pillow. The TARDIS sent comforting feelings her way. At least there was someone else that didn’t seem to be impressed by the soon-to-be Doctor Jones.

Chapter Text

“Doctor?” Martha asked. “What was that?”

“Rose’s been travelling with me for about two years now,” the Doctor explained.

“If she travels with you, where was she today?” Martha asked.

The Doctor moved around the console, sending them into the vortex. “She lost her mum in the Battle of Canary Wharf, and today she wanted to stop and visit an old friend before we get back out there having adventures.”

“You said you were there?” Martha asked.

“Yeah, Rose and I were there. So was her mum. She got trapped in a parallel universe. Rose almost did too, so she’s still not quite herself. But you’ll like her when she’s back to herself, I’m sure of it,” the Doctor smiled.

“Yeah,” Martha said. “I’m sure we will be…”

“But Rose did have a point. Humans need sleep. If you just go down the hall, the TARDIS will have a room ready for you,” the Doctor said, pointing down the hall.

“Oh, I couldn’t sleep, not after today,” Martha argued. “I’m still running on adrenaline.”

“Just because you aren’t tired, doesn’t mean you don’t need sleep. And trust me, you’ll have the best sleep of your night here on the TARDIS,” the Doctor said. “Now, off to bed.”

Martha shook her head and rolled her eyes, but she did as the Doctor said. She did have a lot to process that day. And she needed to figure out what the Doctor and Rose’s relationship was. They had been travelling together for two years. Were they just friends, or were they something more?

Martha walked down the hall like the Doctor told her to, but all of the doors were closed. After nearly half an hour of walking, Martha finally found a door unlocked. It was dark, but she somehow knew that this one was supposed to be hers. She fumbled around for a minute before finding a light switch. Flipping it on, she found the room to be mostly bare. The ceiling was low, and the only thing in the room was a small bed. Everything was decorated in various shades of brown.

She sat down on the bed, expecting it to at least be comfortable, based on what the Doctor said. However, she found it to be hard and lumpy. “Great,” she mumbled as she took off her shoes. She was about to get up and turn off the lights when they flickered off. “Best night sleep of my life? This is seeming more like a horror movie.”

Martha laid down and tried to get comfortable. She couldn’t stop thinking about Rose. Based on the look Rose had given her when she came on the TARDIS, Rose seemed surprised that the Doctor had another woman on board. That made it seem like Rose thought she was special. But if she and the Doctor were together, wouldn’t he have mentioned her at some point during their adventure in the hospital? And would he have kissed her like that if he and Rose were together?
In the end, Martha decided that Rose and the Doctor were just friends. Rose might want more, but Martha didn’t think the Doctor would really hesitate to make a move if he was interested in her. All of that meant that Martha had a chance with the Doctor, and she was going to take advantage of that fact.

**********************************************************************************************************************

The next morning, Martha woke up and panicked. She had no idea where she was, and she was lying on the most uncomfortable bed she had ever slept on. She bolted upright and hit her head on something. It was then that the memories of the day before all came flooding back to her. She was on the TARDIS with the most amazing man she had ever met. Climbing out of bed, Martha made her way to the wall and fumbled with the lights for a minute. When she got them on, she saw that there was a low shelf on the wall, just above her bed. She would have sworn that wasn’t there last night when she went to bed.

Martha left her room and started wandering through the halls. Somewhere, she could smell breakfast cooking, so she followed her nose toward the smell.

“Good morning Martha Jones!” The Doctor exclaimed cheerily from where he was standing next to the stove. “How did you sleep?”

“I don’t know what you were talking about. That was the most uncomfortable bed I have ever seen, and I swear a shelf appeared above my bed in the middle of the night, just so I could hit my head on it,” Martha grumbled.

The Doctor looked up at the ceiling and said, “Now that wasn’t very nice.”

“Sorry?” Martha replied uncertainly. Why was he chastising her for telling him the truth?

“Oh, not you,” the Doctor said. “I was talking to the TARDIS.”

“You were talking to your ship?” Martha asked, beginning to wonder if he was actually mad.

The Doctor chuckled. “The TARDIS is sentient. And she sometimes has trouble adjusting to new people.”

“You’re telling me that your ship has an attitude problem?” Martha asked incredulously, placing a hand on the counter. She quickly yanked it away as she felt a sharp pain in her palm.

“Yes,” he replied. “Though best not to say that aloud. Or think it really. She can be very sensitive, and you don’t want to get on her bad side.”

“What harm could thinking something do?” Martha asked.

Before the Doctor could answer, a groan filled the room from behind Martha. The lights in the kitchen dimmed themselves a little. “Thank you,” a woman’s voice behind Martha said.

She turned to see a very dishevelled looking Rose Tyler shuffle into the room. “Morning,” the Doctor said as he handed Rose a mug. She snatched it from him and sat down at the table in the galley, drinking it quickly. The Doctor turned back to Martha. “The
TARDIS is telepathic. She can get inside your head and do all sorts of things. Normally, it’s translating languages, but as Rose just demonstrated, she will sometimes adjust things like the lights and the temperature to fit your needs.”

“She’s lovely, that’s what she is,” Rose said, having finished her cup of tea.

The lights flickered softly, and Martha asked, “What was that for?”

“That’s how she communicates mostly,” Rose said. “She flashes her lights and changes the colors to answer questions. It’s all a bit odd at first, but eventually you just learn how to speak TARDIS.”

“So why doesn’t she like me?” Martha asked.

The Doctor shrugged. “Haven’t the foggiest. She just gets like that sometimes. Likes to play tricks on people. Zap them, move rooms around, that sort of thing.”

“She can move rooms around?” Martha asked.

“Yeah,” the Doctor replied. “She’s a sentient, interdimensional spaceship. She can do just about anything she pleases.”

“So she could have made a shelf appear above my head just so that I would hit my head on it?” Martha asked.

The Doctor shrugged. “She could have. You haven’t done anything to upset her, have you?”

“Have I done anything to upset a spaceship?” Martha asked. “I don’t even know how you would upset a spaceship.”

“Well, first of all, she doesn’t like being called a spaceship,” Rose said. “She’s sometimes okay with being called ‘our ship’ but mostly we just call her ‘Old Girl.’ She seems to like that.”

“Why do you keep saying she? Do ships have genders where you’re from?” Martha asked.

“Oh, not really,” the Doctor said. “Time Lords were kind of beyond all of that gender stuff. Didn’t really matter to us.”

“So why is the TARDIS a girl?” Martha asked.

“I’m not really sure. That’s the problem with a sentient ship. Sometimes you just know things solely because she put it into your head,” the Doctor replied, placing a plate stacked high with banana pancakes in the center of the table. “Now, breakfast. Then we’ll
go have that adventure I promised you.”

“Where are we going Doctor?” Rose asked.

“That’s a surprise,” The Doctor said.

Rose rolled her eyes and looked up at the ceiling. “Will you help me pick out an outfit then?” The TARDIS lights flashed once. “Thank you. At least someone around here is helpful.”

“Can you not just wear normal clothes?” Martha asked.

“Well, normally yes. But if we’re going into the past, it’s sometimes a problem. And someone forgets there was a time that women could be burned at the stake for wearing pants, just because he can get away with that suit anywhere and anywhen that we go,”
Rose explained.

“I haven’t got anything else,” Martha replied. “This was kind of a surprise.”

“The TARDIS has a wardrobe room,” Rose said. “I don’t actually go there much, the Old Girl has taken to just picking out an outfit and putting it in my closet, but it can’t hurt to go look around.” Rose set her plate in the sink and stood up. “Come on then. Best to get the day started early.”

Rose had woken up that morning in a better mood than she had gone to bed in. Martha might be brilliant, but Rose had her own skills. She had been with the Doctor two years. They balanced each other out. And she knew that even if he wouldn’t admit it, he felt the same way about her that she felt about him. If she was patient enough, he would come around. And they had both invited Donna along, hadn’t they? Maybe he thought she wanted a human friend to travel with. So Rose decided to give Martha a chance. She led Martha to the wardrobe room. “Here we are!” she announced.

Martha looked around the massive room in shock. “This place is huge… How could you even find an outfit in here?”

“The TARDIS helps with that. And look, she clearly planned for both of us coming in here,” Rose replied, pointing to the side of the room where two screens were set up. There was a rack of dresses next to one of them, and a rack with a single dress next to the other. Rose walked over to the solitary dress and looked at it. It was a simple gown, probably a commoner’s. Rose would guess around the 1600’s. But she didn’t care that it was simple. What she loved was the color. It was TARDIS blue. The Old Girl had been doing that lately. She wasn’t sure when it had happened, but her favorite color had slowly been changing from pink to blue, and the TARDIS had picked up on it. “Thank you,” she smiled at the ceiling.

“Why do you only have one?” Martha asked.

Rose shrugged as she moved behind the screen to change. “The TARDIS knows what I like, so she doesn’t even need to ask anymore. She’s giving you some choices to pick out what you want to wear.”

“I thought she was telepathic though,” Martha replied.

“Oh, she is. But she does try to respect people’s privacy. Sometimes that is. Not very consistent about it, but she tries,” Rose said.

Martha picked out a simple blush colored dress. It was the closest she found to the color she was already wearing. She followed Rose’s lead and got changed. When both girls were ready, they made their way to the console room.

“Took you girls long enough,” the Doctor said before turning around. When he did, his jaw dropped. Seeing Rose in period clothing always reminded him of that time in Cardiff with Charles Dickens. That was the first time he was able to admit to himself how
much he cared about that pink and yellow human. Thankfully, he was saved from embarrassment about his reaction by the TARDIS violently pitching forward.

“Don’t you have to take a test to fly this thing or something?” Martha asked as the Doctor worked on smoothing out their flight.

“Yes,” he replied.

“He failed it,” Rose added.

The Doctor glared at her and she laughed. It was starting to feel like before, and that was dangerous for the Doctor’s rules. Thankfully, Martha was there to distract him. They landed with a thud and he turned to her, “I promised you one trip, and one trip only.
Now make the most of it. Outside this door, brave new world.”

“Where are we?” Martha asked.

The Doctor made his way to the door and pushed it open. “After you,” he said, gesturing outside.

“Oh, you are kidding me. You are so kidding me. Oh my God! We did it. We travelled in time. Where are we? No, sorry. I got to get used to this whole new language, when are we?” Martha gasped.

The Doctor pulled Martha back as a man emptied a chamber pot out a window right to where she had been standing moments before. “Somewhere before the invention of the toilet,” he grimaced. “Sorry about that!”

“I’ve seen worse,” she shrugged. “I’ve worked the late-night shift A+E. But are we safe, I mean, can we move around and stuff?”

“Of course we can,” he scoffed. “Why do you ask?”

“It’s like in the films. You step on a butterfly, you change the future of the human race,” she replied.

“Tell you what then, don’t step on any butterflies. What have butterflies ever done to you?” The Doctor asked.

“Don’t get too caught up in it. If something goes wrong, he can normally tell before whatever actually goes wrong, goes wrong. Something about Time Lords being able to sense fixed points. Just don’t go trying to tell anyone the future and you should be fine,”
Rose replied.

Martha wasn’t paying attention to Rose though. She walked up to the Doctor and took his hand. “So, this is London?”

“I think so,” he replied. “Round about 1599.”

“Oh but hold on. Am I all right? I’m not going to get carted off as a slave, am I?” Martha asked.

“Why would they do that?” The Doctor said, turning to look at her incredulously.

“Not exactly white, in case you haven’t noticed. Or are Time Lords above that too?” Martha asked.

“As a matter of fact, yes, they are. But back to your question, I’m not even human. Just walk around like you own the place. Words for me. Besides, you’d be surprised. Elizabethan England, not so different from your time. Look over there. They’ve got recycling,” the Doctor said, pointing at a man shovelling manure into a bucket. “A water cooler moment,” he added, pointing to men talking around a water barrel.

A man stopped them and yelled, “And the world will be consumed by flames!”

“Global warming,” Rose added with a laugh.

The Doctor smiled, but he was determined not to look at Rose. He didn’t know what his ship was thinking. The dress Rose was wearing was simple, but it somehow managed to accentuate every single one of her curves. His ship had an agenda, but he was not going to let her win. And the only way to do that was by trying to forget what Rose was wearing.

To distract himself, he grabbed Martha’s hand and took off running. “And entertainment! Popular entertainment for the masses. If I’m right, we’re just down the river by Southwark, right next to,” the Doctor stopped when they could finally see the building he was looking for. “Oh yes, the Globe Theatre! Brand new. Just opened. Though, strictly speaking, it’s not a globe. It’s a tetradecagon. Fourteen sides. Containing the man himself.”

“Who?” Rose asked, wracking her brain for a famous actor from this time period. For not the first time, she wished she had paid more attention in school. Normally, it didn’t matter much because the Doctor was happy to launch into lecture mode, and he was far
more interesting than any of her teachers had ever been. But now, she was with Martha, who clearly knew exactly who the Doctor was talking about.

“Whoa—you don’t mean? Is Shakespeare in there?” Martha gasped, squeezing his arm.

He bent his elbow so that she could properly take his arm and asked, “Miss Jones, will you accompany me to the theatre?”

She smiled. “Mr. Jones I will.”

They practically skipped off toward the theatre, leaving Rose standing behind them. “This is what I get for trying to be nice,” Rose huffed before picking up her skirts and trotting off after them.

When they got to the theatre, a play was already underway. They pushed through the crowd to somewhere in the middle of the pit. While Rose usually loved experiencing the local culture of wherever they visited, she was having a hard time enjoying this.
Everything about it just seemed to annoy her, from the smell of the unwashed masses to the way Martha was holding on to the Doctor and laughing along at the play. Rose was able to pick up on the gist of what the play was about, but she had never really liked Shakespeare in school, so the language was lost on her. She only understood about half of the jokes. She really wished the Doctor would translate them for her like she usually did, but he had hardly looked at her since they got to 1599. And Martha seemed to be loving that. Any goodwill Rose had decided to extend to the woman was gone. Martha clearly fancied the Doctor, and she was going to try to win him away from Rose.
Martha might have been more educated, but if there was one thing Rose had learned on the Estates, it was that you never go down without a fight. And if that was what Martha wanted, Rose would be happy to give it to her.

When the play finally ended, Martha gasped, “That’s amazing! Just amazing. Worth putting up with the smell. And those are men dressed as women, yeah?”

“London never changes,” the Doctor replied, grinning down at her.

“But where’s Shakespeare?” Martha asked. “I want to see Shakespeare. Author! Author! Do people really shout that? Do they shout Author?”

A man in the crowd heard her and took up the chant of “Author!” and soon the whole crowd joined in.

“Well, they do now,” the Doctor shrugged, looking around.

Shakespeare leapt out from behind the actors, and the crowd went wild. “Hmmm…” Rose said. “That is not what I was expecting.”

“Yeah, he is a bit different from his portraits,” Martha said.

“In a good way,” Rose said, smiling with her tongue between her teeth. She wasn’t actually interested in Shakespeare, but the Doctor got jealous so easily, it was a bit hard not to take advantage of that fact, especially with the way he had been acting.

“What’s that supposed to mean?” the Doctor asked.

Rose shrugged. “He’s a bit fit is all.”

“A bit fit!” the Doctor exclaimed. “He's a genius. The genius. The most human human there's ever been. Now we're going to hear him speak. Always he chooses the best words. New, beautiful, brilliant words, and you’re thinking about how he’s fit?”

Before the Doctor could rant any more, Shakespeare yelled, “Ah! Shut your big fat mouths!”

The crowd around them laughed, and the Doctor’s shoulder slumped a little. “Oh, well.”

“You should never meet your heroes,” Martha shrugged.

“You’ve got excellent taste, I’ll give you that!” Shakespeare said. Then, pointing at a random man in the crowd he yelled, “Oh! That’s a wig!”

He heckled the crowd for another minute before he said, “I know what you're all saying. Loves Labour's Lost, that's a funny ending, isn't it? It just stops. Will the boys get the girls? Well, don't get your hose in a tangle, you'll find out soon. Yeah, yeah. All in good
time. You don't rush a genius.” He paused for a second and went rigid and fell backward. Then, suddenly in a more serious manor he said, “When? Tomorrow night. The premiere of my brand new play. A sequel, no less, and I call it Loves Labour's Won!”
Later, when they were all filing out of the theatre, Martha said, “I’m not an expert, but I’ve never heard of Love’s Labour’s Won.”

“Exactly,” the Doctor replied. “The lost play. It doesn’t exist. Only in rumors. It’s mentioned in lists of his plays but never ever turns up. And no one knows why.”

“I reckon I know why we’re here then,” Rose said.

“Ready for another mystery Shiver?” the Doctor said, grinning down at her.

Rose smiled. “Oh, definitely Shake.”

“Have you got a mini-disk or something?” Martha asked, interrupting the two of them. “We can tape it. We can flog it. Sell it when we get home and make a mint.”

“No,” the Doctor replied seriously, losing all his humor from a moment ago.

“That would be bad,” Martha said sadly.

“Yeah, yeah,” the Doctor said.

“Well how come it disappeared in the first place?” Martha asked.

The Doctor looked between her and Rose. “Well, I was just gonna give you a short trip in the TARDIS, but now we’re a part of established events, so I guess we could stay a bit longer…”

The trio made their way to the Elephant, where Shakespeare was sitting, drinking a beer with two men. One of the men exclaimed, “You must be mad, Will. Love’s Labour’s Won? I mean, we’re not ready. It’s supposed to be next week. What made you say that?”

The other chimed in, “You haven’t even finished it yet.”

Shakespeare waved off their concern. “I’ve only got the final scene to go. You’ll get it by morning.”

The Doctor barged in and knocked on the door. “Hello, excuse me. Not interrupting, am I? Mister Shakespeare, isn’t it?”

“Oh, no. No, no, no. Who let you in? No autographs. No, you can't have yourself sketched with me. And please don't ask where I get my ideas from. Thanks for the interest. Now be a good boy and shove—” he stopped midsentence as he noticed Martha and Rose walking in behind the Doctor. “Hey, nonny nonny. You two, sit right down here next to me. You two get sewing on them costumes. Off you go.”

The bartender came up to the two gentlemen and said, “Come on lads. I think our William’s found his new muses.”

“Sweet ladies, never have I seen more fair a sight. Like the night and the day you are. Such a pretty pair,” Shakespeare crooned as they sat down at the table.

“Hey—” the Doctor started to say, but he stopped when he heard Martha’s response.

“Er, verily, forsooth, egads,” she said awkwardly.

“No, no, don’t do that. Don’t,” he winced. Then he held out the psychic paper. “I am Sir Doctor of TARDIS, and these are my companions, Dame Rose of the Powell Estate and Miss Martha Jones.”

Shakespeare stared at the paper. “Interesting, that bit of paper. It’s blank.”

“Oh, that’s very clever,” the Doctor said grinning at his companions. “That proves it. Absolute genius.”

Martha looked at the psychic paper. “No, it says so right there. Sir Doctor, Dame Rose, and Martha Jones. It says so.”

“And I say it’s blank,” Shakespeare countered.

“Psychic paper. Er, long story,” the Doctor said. Then he mumbled, “I hate starting from scratch.”

“Psychic? Never heard that before and words are my trade,” Shakespeare said. “And who are you exactly? And how did you come by this golden goddess and delicious blackamoor lady?”

“What did you say?” Martha exclaimed.

“Oops, isn’t that a word we use nowadays? An Ethiop girl? A swarth? A Queen of Afric?”

“Can’t believe I’m hearing this,” Martha said.

“You could just call her a lady,” Rose interrupted. She might not like Martha, but Martha didn’t deserve this.

“It’s political correctness gone mad. Er, Martha’s from a far-off land. Freedonia,” the Doctor rambled.

Before anyone else could say anything, a well dressed man barged into the room. “Excuse me! Hold hard a moment. This is abominable behaviour. A new play with no warning? I demand to see a script, Mister Shakespeare. As Master of the Revels, every new script must be registered at my office and examined by me before it can be performed.”

Shakespeare waved him off. “Tomorrow morning. First thing, I’ll send it round.”

“I don’t work to your schedule,” the man said. “You work to mine. The script, now!”

“I can’t,” Shakespeare said.

“Then tomorrow’s performance is cancelled,” he declared.

“It’s all go around here, isn’t it,” Martha muttered to the Doctor, who was standing between her and Rose’s chairs.

“I'm returning to my office for a banning order. If it's the last thing I do, Love's Labours Won will never be played,” the man declared, storming out of the room.

“Well then,” Martha said. “Mystery solved. That's Love's Labours Won over and done with. Thought it might be something more, you know, more mysterious.”

Rose shivered. “I don’t think so. There’s something else going on here.”

Screams echoed from the courtyard, and the Doctor, Martha, Rose, and Shakespeare all darted down the stairs. The man, Lynley, was standing there, gasping out water. Far more than could have even fit in his lungs.

The Doctor ran up to him, “What’s wrong with him? Leave it to me. I’m a doctor.”

Martha followed him. “So am I, near enough.”

He collapsed on the ground. Martha went to start CPR, but he began gurgling up water. “What the hell is that?” she asked.

“I’ve never seen a death like it,” the Doctor whispered to Martha. “His lungs are full of water. He drowned and then, I don't know, like a blow to the heart, an invisible blow.” Then he stood up and announced to Dolly, the bartender, “Good mistress, this poor
fellow has died from a sudden imbalance of the humours. A natural if unfortunate demise. Call a constable and have him taken away.”

“Yes sir,” Dolly replied.

The maid came up behind her and said, “I’ll do it ma’am, and then quickly walked away.”

The Doctor, Martha, and Rose regrouped. “I might not be a doctor, but I know that man didn’t die from an imbalance of humours, Doctor, so why are you telling them that?” Rose asked.

“This lot still have got one foot in the Dark Ages. If I tell them the truth, they’ll panic and think it was witchcraft,” the Doctor replied.

“Okay,” Martha said, “what was it then?”

“Witchcraft,” the Doctor replied. Martha and Rose started to protest, but the Doctor cut them off. “Inside. There’s too many people here.”

“I’ve got you a room, Sir Doctor,” Dolly said when the group was back inside the tavern. “You, Dame Rose, and Miss Jones are just across the landing. Apologies for the cramped conditions, but I only have the one available.”

“I’d be happy to have one of you join me,” Shakespeare proposed, glancing between Rose and Martha.

“We’ll be fine, thank you,” the Doctor said.

“Ah well, it was worth a try,” Shakespeare said. “Poor Lynley. So many strange events. Not least of all, this land of Freedonia where a woman can be a doctor.”

“Where a woman can do what she like,” Martha huffed.

“And you, Sir Doctor, how can a man so young have eyes so old?” Shakespeare asked.

“I do a lot of reading,” the Doctor shrugged.

“And what of you, Dame Rose?” Shakespeare asked.

“I’m nothing special,” Rose replied.

Shakespeare shook his head. “Ah, but that is not true. I want to say that you have an air of timelessness about you, but that isn’t quite right. It’s almost as though you have an air of time itself about you.”

“I think we should say goodnight,” the Doctor suggested.

“Ah yes, I must work. I have a play to complete. But I’ll get my answers tomorrow Doctor, and I’ll discover more about you and why this constant performance of yours,” Shakespeare said, walking around his room.

“All the world’s a stage,” the Doctor replied.

“Hmmm… I might use that,” Shakespeare said. “Goodnight Doctor, Dame Rose, Miss Jones.”

“Goodnight,” Rose and Martha replied in unison.

“Nighty night, Shakespeare,” the Doctor whispered.

The three of them made their way across the landing to their own room. As soon as the door closed, Martha asked, “Why do you two get to be Sir Doctor and Dame Rose, while I’m just Miss Jones?”

“Oh, those are our actual titles,” the Doctor replied.

“You’re a dame?” Martha asked, shocked.

“Yeah, Queen Victoria gave me the title,” Rose shrugged.

“Just before we got banished because you were taking the whole matter too lightly,” the Doctor smiled.

“Hey, you still owe me that ten quid. I did get her to say it, you know?” Rose joked back.

“Wait, Queen Victoria? Like the Queen Victoria?” Martha asked.

“Yeah, we had a run in with her and a werewolf a while back,” the Doctor said, sitting down on the bed.

“Budge up,” Rose said, pushing her way to sit next to the Doctor.

Martha frowned. This was not what she had been expecting. The Doctor had been holding Rose at arm’s length all day, but now with this new mystery, they seemed so at ease sharing a room, and she didn’t seem to fit into the picture at all. Maybe they were together, she couldn’t help but wonder. This all seemed so natural to the two of them. But then the Doctor patted the bed on the other side of him. “Come on Martha, join the party.”

“So, magic and stuff. That’s a surprise,” she said, sitting down next to him and getting comfortable. “It’s all a bit Harry Potter.”

“Wait till you read book seven,” the Doctor said. “I cried.”

“Hey! No spoilers,” Rose said, elbowing him. “I’m trying to stay linear with my timeline you know.”

“But is it real though?” Martha asked. “I mean witches, black magic, and all that, it’s real?”

“Course it isn’t!” the Doctor replied, affronted.

“Well, how am I supposed to know? I’ve only just started believing in time travel. Give me a break,” Martha said.

“Looks like witchcraft, but it isn’t. There is such a thing as psychic energy, but a human couldn't channel it like that. Not without a generator the size of Taunton and I think we'd have spotted that,” the Doctor said.

“Like you’d notice a large round transmitter in the middle of London?” Rose asked.

“That was one time!” he argued.

“Still, could be a generator somewhere in town, but it could be disguised as something normal,” Rose said. “And just because you haven’t seen something before doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist. It’s like when Wesley said that he doesn’t believe ROUS’s exist, and then one appeared out of nowhere to attack him.”

“This isn’t The Princess Bride, Rose,” the Doctor said.

“I’m just saying that when you claim something doesn’t exist, it generally turns out to be exactly that in alien form, usually something that you thought was extinct,” Rose shrugged.

The Doctor bounced off the bed and moved to sit in a chair across the room. “More room for you humans, since you need your sleep and all.”

“Doctor, we just woke up though,” Rose argued.

“Your circadian rhythms should adjust to the fact that it’s night here though,” he said.

“No, it’s like jet lag,” Martha said. “We’ll stick to our own schedules for a bit, won’t we? Or is it different with time travel?”

“No, it’s not,” Rose said. “The Doctor just wants to think without stupid apes like us interrupting him.”

“I—” the Doctor started, but whatever his protest was going to be, it was cut off by a scream.

The three of them got up and raced to Shakespeare’s room. Dolly was collapsed on the ground. Rose and the Doctor rushed to her side, but Martha went to the open window just in time to see the silhouette of a woman on a broomstick disappear into the distance. “Her heart gave out,” the Doctor said. “She died of fright.”

“Doctor?” Martha asked hesitantly from the window.

“What did you see?” he asked her.

“A witch,” Martha replied.

The constable was called again. It was hours before things were sorted out. Shortly after the sun rose, the three of them were sitting in Shakespeare’s room, while the man himself was pacing back and forth. “Oh, sweet Dolly Bailey. She sat out three bouts of
the plague in this place when we all ran like rats. But what could have scared her so? She had such enormous spirit,” Shakespeare lamented.

“Rage, rage against the dying of the light,” the Doctor replied.

“I might use that,” Shakespeare said.

“You can’t. It’s someone else’s,” the Doctor said automatically.

“But the thing is, Lynley drowned on dry land, Dolly died of fright, and they were both connected to you,” Martha said.

“You’re accusing me?” Shakespeare asked.

“No, but I saw a witch, big as you like, flying, cackling away, and you’ve written about witches,” Martha replied.

“I have? When was that?” he replied, baffled.

“Not, not quite yet,” the Doctor replied, glancing at Martha.

Shakespeare stood still for a minute. “Peter Streete spoke of witches.”

“Peter Streete?” Rose asked.

“Our builder,” Shakespeare replied. “He sketched the plans to the Globe.”

The Doctor bolted upright. “The architect. Hold on. The architect! The architect! The Globe! Come on!”
In his excitement, the Doctor grabbed Rose’s hand, and the four of them took off for the Globe. When they were standing on the stage, the Doctor tuned around, taking stock of the theatre. “The columns there, right? Fourteen sides. I've always wondered, but I never asked. Tell me, Will. Why fourteen sides?”

Shakespeare shrugged. “It was the shape Peter Streete thought best. Said it carried the sound well.”

“Fourteen? Why does that ring a bell? Fourteen…” the Doctor mused.

Martha said, “There’s fourteen lines in a sonnet.”

“So there is. Good point. Words and shapes following the same design. Fourteen lines, fourteen sides, fourteen facets. Oh, my head. Tetradecagon. Think, think, think! Words, letters, numbers, lines!” the Doctor said, still turning in circles.

“This is just a theatre,” Shakespeare said.

“Oh yeah, but a theatre's magic, isn't it? You should know. Stand on this stage, say the right words with the right emphasis a the right time. Oh, you can make men weep, or cry with joy. Change them. You can change people's minds just with words in this place. But if you exaggerate that…” the Doctor started.

Rose was standing off the side with her arms crossed. “You’d have seen a generator the size of Taunton though, wouldn’t you have, Doctor?”

“Oh!” he gasped! “Rose Tyler you are brilliant!” He danced up to her and placed a kiss on her forehead in his excitement, but he quickly realized his mistake and cleared his throat, turning to Shakespeare. “Peter Streete? Can I talk to him?”

“You won’t get an answer,” Shakespeare replied, shaking his head. “A month after finishing this place, he lost his mind.”

“Why? What happened?” Martha asked.

“Started raving about witches, hearing voices, babbling. His mind was addled. He’s in Bedlam now,” Shakespeare replied.

“The mental hospital?” Rose asked, unsure how she remembered that.

“Ay, but hospital is hardly the word for it. It’s a madhouse,” Shakespeare replied.

“We’re going there. Right now,” the Doctor said.

“Wait, I’m coming with you. I want to witness this firsthand,” Shakespeare said, before turning to hand a script to two young men that had just entered the theatre.

On the walk to Bedlam, Shakespeare started asking about Freedonia, but it was all a thinly veiled attempt at flirting with Martha. When she brought up his wife in the country, he sighed and turned to Rose. “Ah, but this is Town! Isn’t that right Dame Rose?”

The moment the Doctor heard his attention shift to Rose, he stopped. “Stop that. We have things to do. We can all have a good flirt later.”

“Is that a promise, Doctor?” Shakespeare asked.

“Oh, fifty-seven academics just punched the air…” the Doctor muttered.

“He’s as bad as Jack,” Rose giggled.

“No one is as bad as Jack,” the Doctor replied. “Now move!”

They arrived at Bedlam, and the Keeper went to make Peter decent. After hearing how excited the Keeper was to whip some of the men, Rose shuddered at what state Peter was in that he had to be made decent.

“So this is what you call a hospital, yeah? Where the patients are whipped to entertain the gentry? And you put your friend in here?” Martha asked.

“Oh, it’s all so different in Freedonia,” Shakespeare sighed.

“Do you honestly think this place is any good?” Rose asked.

“I’ve been mad. I’ve lost my mind. Fear of this place set me right again. It serves it’s purpose,” Shakespeare shrugged.

“Mad in what way?” Martha asked.

“You lost your son,” the Doctor said.

He nodded. “My only boy. The Black Death took him. I wasn’t even there.”

“I didn’t know, I’m sorry,” Martha said.

“It made me question everything. The futility of this fleeting existence. To be or not to be. Oh, that's quite good,” Shakespeare said.

“You should write that down,” the Doctor said.

“Maybe not,” Shakespeare replied, “Is it a bit pretentious?”

“Nah,” Rose replied, recognizing that from the one play she remembered from school that she didn’t despise. “I think it might be some of your best work.”

The Keeper chose that moment to come back. “This way, my lord!”

They followed him down the hall to a hunched over man shaking in the corner of a cell.

“They can be dangerous, my lord. Don’t know their own strength,” the Keeper said.

“It think it helps if you don’t whip them. Now get out!” the Doctor yelled.

“Peter?” Rose asked, bending down next to him. She put a hand on his shoulder. “My name is Rose. We need to talk to you.” He raised his head to stare at her, blankly.

“He’s the same as he was. You’ll get nothing out of him,” Shakespeare said.

The Doctor crouched down next to Rose. “Peter? I’m the Doctor.” He put his fingers on Peter’s temples. “Go into the past. One year ago. Let your mind go back. Back to when everything was fine and shining. Everything that happened in this year since happened
to somebody else. It was just a story. A Winter's Tale. Let go. That's it. That's it, just let go.” Peter laid back on the cot. “Now, tell me the story Peter. Tell me about the witches.”

He was still shaking, so Rose took his hand. “Shhh… It’s okay.”

He calmed down a little at that, and he turned to look at Rose while he told his story. “itches spoke to Peter. In the night, they whispered. They whispered. Got Peter to build the Globe to their design. Their design! The fourteen walls. Always fourteen. When the
work was done they snapped poor Peter's wits.”

“Where did Peter see the witches?” The Doctor said forcefully. “Where in the city? Peter, tell me. You’ve got to tell me. Where were they?”

Rose glared up at him. “Gently Doctor!” Then she turned back to Peter and asked calmly, “Can you tell me where Peter saw them?”

“All Hallows Street,” he replied.

A hideous woman appeared behind the Doctor. “Too many words,” she hissed.

“What do you want with him?” Rose asked, still holding Peter’s hand. The Doctor grabbed her shoulder and pulled her back. “Hey!”

“Just one touch of the heart,” the woman hissed, leaning toward Peter.

“No!” Rose cried as she lunged forward, but she was too late. The witch had touched Peter’s chest, and he had died.

“Witch! I’m seeing a witch!” Shakespeare exclaimed.

“Now who would be next?” The witch asked. “Just one touch of the heart. Who will die first?” She turned to look at Rose. “I sense that death is in your future. Sooner than it is for the others, at least. Is it you that will die first?”

“If you’re looking for volunteers,” the Doctor said, stepping forward.

“No, Doctor!” Rose exclaimed grabbing his arm. She tried to ignore the witch’s words, but they reminded her so much of what the Beast had said on Krop Tor.

“Doctor, can you stop her?” Shakespeare asked.

“No mortal has power over me,” she cackled.

“Oh, but there’s a power in words. If I can find the right one. If I can just know you…” he said.

“None on Earth has knowledge of us,” the witch replied.

“Then it's a good thing I'm here. Now think, think, think. Humanoid female, uses shapes and words to channel energy. Ah! Fourteen! That's it! Fourteen! The fourteen stars of the Rexel planetary configuration! Creature, I name you Carrionite!”
The witch screamed and vanished in a bright flash of light.

“What did you do?” Martha asked.

“I named her,” the Doctor replied. “The power of a name. That’s old magic.”

“What happened to there being no such thing?” Rose asked, trying to hide her fear at the witch’s words by teasing the Doctor.

“Well, it's just a different sort of science. You lot, you chose mathematics. Given the right string of numbers, the right equation, you can split the atom. Carrionites use words instead,” the Doctor argued.

“Use them for what?” Shakespeare asked.

“The end of the world,” the Doctor replied.

The four of them made their way back to Shakespeare’s room, and the Doctor explained what they were dealing with. “The Carrionites disappeared way back at the dawn of the universe. Nobody was sure if they were real or legend.”

“I’m going for real,” Shakespeare said.

“But what do they want?” Martha asked.

“A new empire on Earth. A world of bones and blood and witchcraft,” the Doctor replied.

“So, same as most things that try to invade this planet then?” Rose asked.

The Doctor shrugged. It was common enough that aliens tried to take over the Earth. It was exactly what the Racnoss had tried a few days ago in their timeline. He could tell that Rose was putting up a front though. The witch had scared her. This was the
second time in only a few months that someone had predicted her death. He decided that he would have to keep her away from the witches. He doubted she would just go back to the TARDIS though…
His thoughts were interrupted when Martha asked, “But how?”

“I’m looking at the man with the words,” the Doctor replied.

“Me? But I’ve done nothing,” Shakespeare replied.

“Hold on though, what were you doing last night, when that Carrionite was in the room?” the Doctor asked.

“Finishing the play,” he replied.

“What happens on the last page?” The Doctor asked.

“The boys get the girls. They have a bit of a dance. It's all as funny and thought provoking as usual. Except those last few lines. Funny thing is, I don't actually remember writing them,” Shakespeare mused.

“That's it. They used you. They gave you the final words like a spell, like a code. Love's Labours Won. It's a weapon. The right combination of words, spoken at the right place, with the shape of the Globe as an energy converter! The play's the thing! And yes, you
can have that” the Doctor said. He then pulled out a map and found the street he was looking for. “All Hallows Street. There it is. Martha, we'll track them down. Will, Rose, you get to the Globe. Whatever you do, stop that play.”

“I want to go with you,” Rose said.

“No, I want someone I trust with Will. Two and two, so no one’s alone, and there’s an experienced time traveler in each pair,” the Doctor argued.

“But Doctor,” Rose started to protest.

He grabbed Martha’s hand and said, “No time to argue. Once more unto the breach!”

“I like that,” Shakespeare said as the Doctor disappeared around the corner. “Wait, that’s one of mine!”

“Oh, just shift!” the Doctor exclaimed as he poked his head back around the door frame.

**********************************************************************************************************************

“I take it we’re expected?” the Doctor asked as they entered the witch’s house.

Lilith looked the Doctor up and down. “Oh, I think death had been waiting for you a very long time.”

“Right, it’s my turn,” Martha said, pointing a finger at Lilith. “I know how to do this. I name thee Carrionite!” She paused, but nothing happened. She turned to the Doctor. “What did I do wrong? Was it the finger?”

“The power of a name works only once. Observe. I gaze upon this bag of bones and now I name thee Martha Jones,” Lilith said, and Martha collapsed.

“What have you done?” he asked, quickly checking for a pulse.

“Only sleeping, alas. It's curious. The name has less impact. She's somehow out of her time. And as for you, Sir Doctor. Fascinating. There is no name. Why would a man hide his title in such despair? Oh, but look. There's still one phrase with the power that aches,” Lilith said.

“The naming won’t work on me,” the Doctor replied.

“Oh, Doctor. At least answer me this. Who’s afraid of the Big Bad Wolf?” Lilith asked.

The Doctor stiffened. “You don’t know the power in those words. You shouldn’t use them lightly.”

“Oh, but Doctor, why did that bring up another name for you? One that causes you such anguish even for the joy it brings you. By your own design, your heart grows cold, the north wind blows, and carries down the lovely Rose,” Lilith smiled.
“Big mistake there,” the Doctor said. “No being in the universe should ever use that name against me. Because that name keeps me fighting. But the Carrionites vanished. Where did you go?”

**********************************************************************************************************************

Rose and Shakespeare were almost to the theatre when Rose froze. Shakespeare noticed that she was no longer running beside him, so he turned around. She was standing completely still, and she was glowing golden. “Dame Rose?” he asked, approaching her hesitantly.

He reached out a hand to try to shake her out of whatever trance she was in, when suddenly the light faded, and she collapsed. “Rose?” He asked again, this time more concerned. He knelt down on the ground next to her and began shaking her. He could see her breathing, so he knew that at least she wasn’t dead. He debated waiting until she woke up, but ultimately, he decided that he needed to stop the play, so he picked her up and took off running.

He didn’t manage to stop the play though, as a Carrionite knocked him unconscious before he could convince the actors to stop. He came to as the Doctor started yelling at him. As he did, he noticed that the theatre was in chaos.

“Stop the play! I think that was it. Yeah, I said stop the play!” the Doctor yelled.

“I hit my head,” he muttered.

“Where’s Rose?” he asked.

Shakespeare pointed a little to the right, where he had laid Rose down before running on stage. “She collapsed, so I brought her here. I did try to stop it,” Shakespeare said.

The Doctor leaned down and checked Rose’s vitals. She was fine, other than the fact that she was unconscious. He had worried that the witch’s naming would have knocked her out, but she should have woken up by that point. Content that she was at least safe
right there for the moment the Doctor looked toward the stage. “I think that’s my cue!”

He could hear the Carrionites scream, “Now begins the millennium of blood!”

The Doctor dashed onto the stage with Shakespeare and Martha following behind him. He was just in time to watch the portal widen enough to let the first Carrionites through. “Come on, Will! History needs you!

“But what can I do?” he asked.

“Reverse it,” the Doctor replied.

“How am I supposed to do that?” Shakespeare yelled over the sound of the Carrionites and the screaming.

“The shape of the Globe gives words power, but you’re the wordsmith. The one true genius. The only man clever enough to do it,” the Doctor replied.

“But what words? I have none ready!” he yelled.

“You’re William Shakespeare!” The Doctor exclaimed.

Shakespeare shook his head. “But these Carrionite phrases, they need such precision.”

“Trust yourself. When you're locked away in your room, the words just come, don't they, like magic. Words of the right sound, the right shape, the right rhythm. Words that last forever. That's what you do, Will. You choose perfect words. Do it. Improvise,” the
Doctor encouraged him.

Shakespeare nodded at the Doctor. “Close up this din of hateful, dire decay, decomposition of your witches' plot. You thieve my brains, consider me your toy. My doting Doctor tells me I am not! Foul Carrionite spectres, cease your show! Between the points…”

“Seven six one three nine oh!” the Doctor supplied.

“Seven six one three nine oh! Banished like a tinker’s cuss, I say to thee—” Shakespeare started, then he looked between the Doctor and Martha, unsure of the last word.

Suddenly, from behind him, a voice shouted, “Expelliarmus!”

The Doctor turned to see Rose, leaning against the stage door. “Expelliarmus!” He yelled to Shakespeare, confirming that the word would work.

When Shakespeare repeated the words, the witches screamed. The portal reversed itself, and all of the Carrionites, along with all of the pages of Love’s Labour’s Won, were swept back into it. A few moments after everything calmed down, someone in the
audience started clapping.

“They think it was all special effects?” Martha asked.

“Your effect is special indeed,” Shakespeare said, looking at the Doctor.

Martha scrunched up her nose and shook her head. “Not your best line.”

Shakespeare and Martha took their bows, but the Doctor immediately ran back to check on Rose. “Are you alright?” he asked.

“Yeah,” she said, “I think so. But Doctor, what happened?”

“One of the Carrionites named you. Since you’re out of your time, it just knocked you unconscious, rather than killing you,” the Doctor replied.

The Doctor left Martha and Rose sitting with Shakespeare while he reassured himself that every copy of the play was gone. Just as they were getting ready to leave, however, two of the actors came sprinting into the theatre. “Will, you'll never believe it. She's
here! She's turned up!” One of the men exclaimed.

“We're the talk of the town. She heard about last night. She wants us to perform it again,” the other said.

“Who?” Martha asked.

“Her Majesty. She’s here!”

The elderly Queen Elizabeth walked into the theatre. “Queen Elizabeth the First!” The Doctor smiled.

“Doctor?” She asked.

“What?” He said.

“And Rose Tyler!” She screamed.

“What?” They exclaimed in unison.

“My sworn enemies!” She yelled.

This time, Martha joined them in yelling, “What?”

“Off with their heads!” She ordered.

“What?” The Doctor asked again.

“Never mind what, just run! See you, Will, and thanks,” Martha said as the three of them sprinted out of the theatre.

“Stop that pernicious Doctor and the harlot, Rose Tyler!” The queen yelled.

As they sprinted toward the TARDIS, Martha asked, “What have you two done to upset her?”

“How should I know?” the Doctor asked. “Haven’t even met her yet. That’s time travel for you. Still, can’t wait to find out! That’s something to look forward to!”

Chapter Text

When they were safely floating in the vortex, the Doctor turned to Rose and Martha. “Alright ladies, to the med bay!”

“What?” Martha asked.

“We’re fine, Doctor,” Rose argued. “Isn’t that right?” Rose asked looking up at the TARDIS. She flashed her lights to say yes.

“Well, I still want to check you both out, especially you Rose,” the Doctor said. Then realizing how what he said could be taken, he started rambling, “Medically, of course. The Carrionites have been gone for a long time, so there isn’t a lot of information on what they can do. And you were unconscious far too long Rose. I just need to make sure there’s nothing wrong.”

Rose groaned. “Fine, but it better be quick because I need to shower. If there’s one thing I forget about the past it’s the smell.”

The three of them made their way to the med bay. “This is fantastic!” Martha exclaimed when she walked in. “What are some of these things?”

As the Doctor rambled on excitedly about the various medical instruments, Rose sat on the exam table and wished that she had some idea of what they were talking about. Normally, the Doctor was wonderful about not making her feel stupid for not knowing things, but since Martha had gotten onboard the night before… Well, things had changed.

In her head, the TARDIS hummed reassuringly. While normally that would make Rose feel better, right now, it just sent her head spinning back to this afternoon. Shakespeare had pulled her aside after all of the chaos, while the Doctor was making sure that all copies of the play had been destroyed.

“Dame Rose?” Shakespeare whispered.

“Yes?” Rose asked, puzzled by his look of… was that fear?

“This evening, before you fainted, something happened, and for all my words I cannot explain it,” he said.

“What was it? My memories are a little fuzzy right now,” Rose replied.

“Well, you froze, completely still for a moment, and you were looking straight through everything, as though the world around you was not there,” he said.

“Ok,” Rose said, unsure why that would be so strange he couldn’t explain it.

“But then you started to, well, glow. It was as though you were the sun, giving off a warm golden light. But it only lasted a few seconds, and then the light faded, and you collapsed. I know I should probably tell the Doctor, but for some strange reason, I feel as
though that would be a bad idea. I was just wondering if this was something that has occurred before, what with your strange life that I feel is not quite of this world,” Shakespeare said.

“It hasn’t happened before,” Rose shrugged, “at least, not as far as I know. I’ll talk with him about it though, don’t worry. Just, thanks for taking care of me.”

“Oh, it was my pleasure Dame Rose,” Shakespeare said, kissing her hand.

At that moment the Doctor stepped in. “Alright, looks like we are safe, no more copies of Love’s Labours won. But we best be getting this somewhere safe. I have a nice attic where they can scream for eternity,” the Doctor said, patting the crystal ball that
contained the three Carrionites that had managed to fully materialize in this world.

“Rose, did you hear me?” the Doctor asked her, his face suddenly very close to hers as she rejoined the present.

“Oh, yeah, sorry. Long day, guess I zoned out,” Rose replied, shaking her head.

“Arm please,” he asked again, and she held it out, so he could draw a vial of blood for testing. “Are you sure you’re okay?” he asked again.

“I’m fine, just a bit tired is all. You can’t have forgotten that humans need sleep,” Rose teased, trying to distract him.

“Sleep and food. We’ll take care of that as soon as we’re done in here,” the Doctor said.

Rose shook her head. “I’m sure the TARDIS will put something for me to eat in my room. I just want to get to bed.” The Doctor looked at her, still clearly concerned. “I’m fine, I promise, I just want some sleep.”

As soon as she said that, the machine he had put her blood sample into beeped. He put on his brainy specs and leaned over the monitor. His brow furrowed as he looked for something on the screen, and he muttered to himself in Gallifreyan. Though, when the
TARDIS lights flashed, she realized that he was probably not talking to himself after all. A brief argument ensued, but whatever it was over, the TARDIS seemed to win. He stood up and sighed. “The TARDIS says you are good to go, and I can’t find anything wrong. Just make sure you eat something before you actually go to bed.”

Rose hopped off the exam table. “I will. Goodnight Doctor.” She started out the door before realizing that she was being rude, and she couldn’t do that if she was going to make the Doctor be nice. “And goodnight Martha.”

Rose quickly got ready for bed, her mind still stuck on what Shakespeare had told her. She had said that it hadn’t happened before, but for some reason, that just didn’t feel true. She laid a hand on a coral strut, seeking reassurance from the TARDIS, and suddenly, her mind was filled with golden light and she remembered. She remembered opening the heart of the TARDIS, and the Game Station, and what she did. But most of all, she remembered the kiss that the Doctor had given her, and somehow she knew he didn’t have to do that. He could have drawn that energy out some other way, but he had chosen to kiss her. Before her mind could really focus on the implications of that though, she came to another conclusion. She had killed him. She had killed the man she loved.

With all these thoughts racing through her head, Rose laid down on the bed and sobbed. She knew he wasn’t really dead. He was right down the hall, probably giving Martha a detailed rundown of the tests he was running. But he wasn’t exactly the same either. He had changed because she had killed him. Rose knew then and there for certain that she couldn’t tell him what Shakespeare had told her because what if Bad Wolf was coming back? History would repeat itself. He would try and get rid of it again, and she couldn’t let that happen again. She couldn’t kill the man she loved twice. Whatever was happening, she would deal with it on her own this time.

With that decision firmly made, Rose fell asleep and dreamed of a beautiful, golden song.

Chapter Text

Rose woke up the next morning with a strange sense of peace. She was hiding something from the Doctor, so she thought that would make her feel guilty, but she just couldn’t. It only took her a moment to realize where that peace was coming from though.

“You agree with me Old Girl?” Rose asked, looking up at the ceiling.

The lights flashed in agreement, and Rose sighed and got out of bed. “I guess I should get ready so that we can take Martha home then.” She got ready quickly and wandered into the console room. Martha and the Doctor were already there, but neither of them
seemed to notice her when she walked in.

“Just one trip. That's what I said. One trip in the TARDIS, and then home. Although I suppose we could stretch the definition. Take one trip into past, one trip into future. How do you fancy that?” The Doctor asked Martha.

“No complaints from me,” Martha grinned.

“How about a different planet?” the Doctor asked.

“Can we go to yours?” Martha asked.

Rose froze. So Martha didn’t know about Gallifrey. While Rose stayed to the shadows, the Doctor handled it smoothly, though Rose could tell it was hurting him. “Ah, there’s plenty of other places,” he shrugged.

“Come on though,” Martha needled him. “I mean, planet of the Time Lords. That's got to be worth a look. What's it like?”

“Well, it’s beautiful, yeah,” the Doctor said wistfully.

“Is it like, you know, outer space cities, all spires and stuff?”

”I suppose it is,” the Doctor answered sadly.

“Great big temples and cathedrals!” Martha exclaimed.

“Yeah,” the Doctor agreed, and Rose could see just how much it was hurting him to talk about it, but she just couldn’t bring herself to stop Martha. She had never heard even this much about Gallifrey. She knew how much it hurt him, and she didn’t want to
inflict that sort of pain on him. But, she argued with herself, it wasn’t her hurting him this time.

“Lots of planets in the sky?” Martha asked.

The Doctor stopped messing with the TARDIS console and looked off into the distance. “The sky's a burnt orange, with the Citadel enclosed in a mighty glass dome, shining under the twin suns. Beyond that, the mountains go on forever. Slopes of deep red
grass, capped with snow.”

“Can we go there?” Martha asked.

The Doctor shook himself out of it. “Nah!” He exclaimed, bouncing on the balls of his feet. “Where’s the fun in that? I don’t want to go home.”

Rose finally moved into the room, and the Doctor looked up at her. She could tell he got an idea from that as he immediately turned his attention to the console and started putting in coordinates. “Oh! This is much better. Year five billion and fifty-three, planet New Earth. Second hope of mankind. Fifty thousand light years from your old world, and we're slap bang in the middle of New New York. Although, technically it's the fifteenth New York from the original, so it's New New New New New New New New New New New New New New York. One of the most dazzling cities ever built.”

“With the apple grass,” Rose smiled.

“Exactly!” He grinned down at her.

The TARDIS landed with a thud, and Martha was the first out the door. “Oh, that’s nice,” she snorted as she was pelted by the rain. “The Time Lord version of dazzling.”

“Nah, bit of rain never hurt anyone,” he replied. “Come on, let’s get under cover!”

Before stepping out into the pelting rain, Rose took a moment to grab the raincoat the TARDIS had helpfully left for her on the TARDIS strut. “Thank you, love,” she smiled, and the TARDIS flashed her lights happily. “Be back in a bit!”

She caught up with Martha and the Doctor. “You sure you brought us to New Earth?” Rose asked. “I can’t smell any apple grass, and it definitely doesn’t look like it did last time…”

“Yes I’m sure!” The Doctor huffed. “Have you no faith in me, Rose Tyler?”

Rose grinned, sticking her tongue out between her teeth. “None whatsoever, Doctor.”

“You wound me,” he replied, turning the sonic screwdriver on an old monitor until it suddenly turned on.

The woman on the screen said, “And the driving should be clear and easy, with fifteen extra lanes open for the New New Jersey expressway.”

“See there, that’s the view we had last time. This must be the lower levels, down in the base of the tower. Some sort of under-city,” the Doctor said.

“You’ve brought me to the slums?” Martha asked.

“Oh, it’s much more interesting down here. It’s all cocktails and glitter up there,” the Doctor said.

“And cat-nuns and bitchy trampolines,” Rose added.

“Oi! How was I to know Cassandra was hiding out up there!” The Doctor replied, affronted, before turning back to Martha. “Anyway, as I was saying, this is the real city.”

“You’d enjoy anything,” Martha laughed.

“That’s me,” he grinned. “And look, the rain’s stopping. Better and better.”

Just then, a man threw open the front of his stall and exclaimed, “Oh! You should have said. How long have you been there? Happy. You want Happy.”

Suddenly, stalls were being thrown open in every direction with people throwing open stalls and trying to sell emotions.

“No thanks,” the Doctor said.

“Are they selling drugs?” Martha asked.

“I think they’re selling moods,” the Doctor replied.

“Well, the whole idea of medications on this planet creeps me out,” Rose replied, shivering. “I just have a bad feeling about this.”

“Do you want to leave?” the Doctor asked. The last time either one of them had expressed a desire to leave somewhere, the day had ended up with the Devil predicting Rose’s death. And after what the Carrionite had said the day before, the Doctor wasn’t going
to take any chances.

Before Rose could reply, a woman walked past them, up to a woman wandered over to the stalls and said, “I want to buy Forget.”

“I've got Forget, my darling. What strength? How much do you want forgetting?” One of the pharmacists asked.

“It’s my mother and father. They went on the motorway,” she replied.

“Oh, that’s a swine,” the pharmacist replied sadly. “Try this. Forget 43. That’s two credits.”

Before the woman could put the patch on her neck, the Doctor stopped her. “Sorry, but hold on a minute. What happened to your parents?”

“They drove off,” she replied.

“Yeah, but they might drive back,” Rose said, stepping up next to him.

She shook her head. “Everyone goes to the motorway in the end. I’ve lost them.”

“But they can’t have gone far,” the Doctor reasoned, but she had already given up. She went to place the patch on her neck, and the Doctor said, “No. No, no. Don’t.”

As soon as the patch was on her neck, a peaceful smile crossed her face. “I’m sorry, what were you saying?”

“Your parents,” the Doctor said, halfheartedly, knowing she was already gone. “Your mother and father. They’re on the motorway.”

“Are they?” She smiled through her drug induced haze. “That’s nice. I’m sorry. I won’t keep you.” She stumbled away.

The Doctor took a few steps after her, not really paying attention, and Martha followed. Rose stayed where she was, still unable to shake the eerie feeling she had gotten when she heard about more strange drugs on this planet.

“So that's the human race five billion years in the future? Off their heads on chemicals.” Martha grumbled. Before the Doctor could respond, Rose screamed. A man had run up behind her and grabbed her. A woman stood next to him brandishing a gun at the
Doctor and Martha.

“I’m sorry,” the man said. “I’m really, really sorry. We just need three. That’s all.”

“No, let her go! I'm warning you, let her go! Whatever you want, I can help. Both of us, we can help. But first you've got to let her go,” the Doctor yelled, the Oncoming Storm creeping into his voice.

The woman just repeated the man’s sentiments as they drug Rose through a green door and locked it. The Doctor immediately pulled out the sonic and began working to unlock it.

“Where have they taken her?” Martha asked, but the Doctor didn’t answer. He was seething with rage. People really needed to stop trying to take Rose away from him.

**********************************************************************************************************************

“Believe me when I say that you don’t want to mess with him. He’s one of the most feared beings in the universe. Daleks, Cybermen, you name it, they’re scared of him. In some parts of the universe, he’s known as the Oncoming Storm, and believe me, you don’t want to meet him like—”

Before Rose could finish her sentence, the man yelled, “Give her some Sleep.”

“Don’t you dare,” Rose replied. “I don’t want anything to do with any of these drugs.”

“It’s just Sleep 14,” the woman said, slapping it on Rose’s neck. “No, baby. Don’t fight it.”

“Please,” Rose said. “Please don’t.” But it was too late. Within seconds Rose was unconscious.

**********************************************************************************************************************

It took far longer than it should have, but eventually the Doctor managed to unlock the door. He and Martha took off sprinting after Rose, only to see the car she was in take off.

“ROSE!” the Doctor yelled after her, but it was no use.

“Hey,” Martha said, placing a hand on his arm. “It’ll be okay.”

The Doctor turned to look at her, and she didn’t recognize the man staring down at her with cold eyes. “They will regret this. Everyone that tries to take her away from me ends up regretting it.”

The Doctor stalked back down to the alleyway and hammered on one of the stalls.

“Thought you’d come back,” the pharmacist smiled. “You want some happy Happy?”

“Those people,” the Doctor said. “Who were they? Where did they take her?”

“They’ve taken her to the motorway,” another pharmacist replied.

“Looked like carjackers to me,” the first pharmacist added.

A third pharmacist opened her stall door and said, “I’d give up now, darling. You won’t see her again.”

The second pharmacist sighed, “Used to be thriving, this place. You couldn't move. But they all go to the motorway in the end.”

The Doctor ignored their moaning. “He kept on saying three, we need three. What did he mean, three?”

“It's the car-sharing policy, to save fuel. You get special access if you're carrying three adults,” the first pharmacist explained.

“This motorway. How do I get there?” the Doctor asked.

“Straight down the alley, keep going to the end. You canna miss it. Tell you what. How about some happy Happy? Then you'll be smiling, my love,” she replied.

The Doctor looked between the three pharmacists. “Word of advice, all of you. Cash up, close down and pack your bags.”

“Why’s that, then?” the first pharmacist asked.

“Because as soon as I’ve found her, alive and well—and I will find her alive and well—then I’m coming back, and this street is closing. Tonight!” the Doctor roared.

**********************************************************************************************************************

Rose woke up slowly in the back of the car. As soon as she had regained enough of her fine motor skills to move, she ripped the patch off her neck and immediately began to come to.

She saw the gun lying just in front of her, and she reached to grab it before she stopped. If she started waving a gun around, how would she be any better than them. Maybe she could just reason with them.

“Take me back, please,” Rose said. “Whoever you are, just take me back to my friend. That’s all I want. I won’t cause any trouble, I promise.”

“Look, we’re really sorry about all of this. We really are,” the woman said. “Look, I’m Cheen, and this is Milo. We just needed access to the fast line, but I promise, as soon as we arrive, we'll drop you off and you can go back and find your friend.”

“Really?” Rose asked, a bit unconvinced.

“I swear,” Cheen replied, moving her hair to the side. “Look, Honesty patch.”

“It’s still kidnapping,” Rose said, sitting up on the bed she had been lying on. “But where are we, anyway?”

“We’re on the motorway,” Milo replied.

“And what’s that then?” Rose asked, pointing out the window where she could hardly see anything.

“That’s the exhaust fumes,” Cheen replied.

“We're going out to Brooklyn. Everyone says the air's so much cleaner, and we couldn't stay in Pharmacy Town, because…” Milo trailed off.

“Well,” Cheen said. “Because of me. I’m pregnant. We only discovered it last week. Scan says it’s going to be a boy.”

“You’re willing to kidnap a person to drive to a place with cleaner air for the sake of your baby, but you’re still going to wear that?” Rose asked, pointing at the patch on Cheen’s neck.

“Oh, we’re not kidnappers,” Cheen said. “Not really.”

“You kidnapped me. That makes you kidnappers. But please, just take that off. Who knows what it’s doing to the baby? Last time I was on this planet I had another run in with weird medications, and I really hate the idea of that doing something awful to your
baby…” Rose said.

“What was that then?” Milo asked.

Suddenly unsure if this was before or after her incident with the nuns, Rose clammed up a little bit. “Oh, um. It was a bit of a run in with the cat-nuns that run the hospital. They were doing some illegal testing.”

‘You mean with the clones?” Cheen asked.

“Um, yeah,” Rose replied, relieved that had already happened.

“But that was ages ago. Almost 150 years. Milo’s great-great grandfather was one of those clones,” Cheen replied.

“Really?” Rose asked, glad to know they had at least integrated into society.

“There’s no way you could still be alive if you were there for that!” Milo exclaimed.

“Umm, well, let’s just say I lead an interesting life,” Rose shrugged. Then, deciding she needed to change the subject, she pointed back to Cheen’s neck. “But can you please take that off?”

“Oh, um, alright I guess,” Cheen replied, taking it off. “If it’s going to bother you that much.”

“Thank you,” Rose replied.

“This'll be as fast as we can. We'll take the motorway to the Brooklyn flyover, and then after that it's going to take awhile, because then there's no fast lane, just ordinary roads, but at least it's direct,” Milo said.

“It’s only ten miles,” Cheen said.

“How long’s it going to take?” Rose asked.

“About six years,” Cheen shrugged.

“What?” Rose asked. “Seriously?”

“Be just in time for him to start school,” Cheen said, smiling over at Milo.

“No, sorry, hold on. Six years? Ten miles in six years? How come?” Rose asked.

**********************************************************************************************************************

The Doctor opened a door onto the motor way and stepped out onto a small platform. Almost immediately, he began to choke on the thick exhaust fumes. He looked behind him to see Martha was doing even worse than he was. At least he had his respiratory
bypass to help him.

Suddenly, a door opened up to one of the cars, and a man with a scarf around his face stepped out. “Hey! You daft little street struts. What are you doing standing there? Either get out or get in. Come on!”

The Doctor and Martha immediately did as they were told and made their way into the man’s car. They both made their way inside the car, and a woman put an oxygen mask on each of them. The man took off his scarf to reveal a cat’s face, and he and the
woman made small talk about a story of someone who stood out in the exhaust fumes for too long.

Eventually, they moved slightly, and the Doctor finally decided to start paying attention to their conversation when he heard the man say, “Twenty yards. We're having a good day. And who might you two be? Very well-dressed for hitchhikers.”

“Thanks,” the Doctor said, handing his mask back to the woman. “I’m the Doctor, and this is my friend Martha.”

“Medical man! My name's Thomas Kinkade Brannigan, and this is the bane of my life, the lovely Valerie,” the man said, and the Doctor reached out to shake both of their hands. Martha was still struggling to catch her breath, but no one seemed to mind much.

“Nice to meet you both,” Valarie said, and Martha nodded her head a little.

“And that’s the rest of the family behind you,” Brannigan said, pointing behind a curtain to a litter of kittens.

“Ah, that’s nice,” he smiled at them. “How old are they?”

“Just two months,” Valerie smiled.

“Poor little souls. They've never known the ground beneath their paws. Children of the motorway,” Brannigan sighed.

“What, they were born in here?” Martha asked, finally taking off her mask.

“We couldn't stop. We heard there were jobs going, out in the laundries on Fire Island. Thought we'd take a chance,” Brannigan replied.

“You’ve been driving for two months?” the Doctor asked.

“Do I look like a teenager?” Brannigan laughed. “We’ve been driving for twelve years now.”

“I’m sorry?” the Doctor asked again.

“Yeah, started out as newlyweds. Feel’s like yesterday,” Brannigan smiled.

“Feels like twelve years to me,” Valerie grumbled.

“Ah, sweetheart, but you still love me,” Brannigan said, turning to tickle his wife. The Doctor’s heart panged for a second as that reminded him of his easy banter with Rose.

“Twelve years? How far did you come? Where did you start?” the Doctor asked.

“Battery Park. It’s five miles back,” Brannigan explained.

“You travelled five miles in twelve years?” the Doctor exclaimed.

“I think he’s a bit slow,” Brannigan whispered to Valerie.

Valerie shook her head at him to indicated that he was being rude, and the Doctor was again reminded of Rose, somewhere out there on the motorway. “Where are you from?” Valerie asked him.

“Never mind that. I've got to get out. My friend's in one of these cars. She was taken hostage. I should get back to the TARDIS,” the Doctor said, throwing the door open again.

The entire car began coughing as Brannigan explained, “You're too late for that. We've passed the lay-by. You're a passenger now, Sonny Jim.”

The Doctor shut the door and asked, “When’s the next lay-by?”

“Oh, six months?” Brannigan said.

“Six months?” Martha exclaimed. “I’m gonna be stuck here six months, and I can’t even call my mum!”

“Call your---” the Doctor mumbled. “Oh Martha! You’re brilliant! Hand me your mobile!”

“I really doubt I’ll have service here,” Martha argued as she handed the Doctor her phone and he began to mess with it using the sonic screwdriver.

**********************************************************************************************************************

While the Doctor was busy setting up Martha’s phone for intergalactic roaming, Milo and Cheen’s car had managed to make it down to the fast lane.

As they waited in the darkness, hiding from whatever creature was down there, Rose’s phone started to ring. “Hello?” Rose asked when she didn’t recognize the number.

“Rose? Rose are you alright?” the Doctor’s voice said from the other end of the line.

“Doctor?” Rose exclaimed. “Doctor, where did you get a phone?”

“It’s Martha’s,” he explained. “But are you alright?”

“For the moment,” Rose said, glancing around at the dark cabin. “But Doctor, there’s something down here, and there’s no way to get back up. We’ve switched off the engines, so it can’t see us, but we don’t have much air left.”

“Don’t worry Rose,” the Doctor said. “We’ll fix—” Suddenly the Doctor’s voice became muffled as he moved the phone from his ear. Rose couldn’t tell what was going on, but there was a bit of shouting.

Eventually, Martha picked up the phone. “Hello?”

“Martha?” Rose asked. “What happened?”

“A cat-nun just hopped onto the car we were in. The Doctor seemed to know her, and then she pressed a button on her wrist and they both just teleported away,” Martha said.

“Oh, well that’s just brilliant,” Rose replied drily.

**********************************************************************************************************************

“Oh! Rough teleport. Ow. You can go straight back down and teleport people out, starting with Rose!” The Doctor ordered Novice Hame.

“I only had the power for one trip,” she explained.

“Then get some more,” the Doctor replied. “Where are we?”

“High above, in the over city.”

“Good. Because you can tell the Senate of New New York I'd like a word. They have got thousands of people trapped on the motorway. Millions!” The Doctor yelled.

“But you're inside the Senate, right now. May the goddess Santori bless them,” Novice Hame said, pressing a button on her bracelet and turning on the lights to reveal a room filled with skeletons. “They died, Doctor. The city died.”

“How long’s it been like this?” the Doctor asked.

“Twenty-four years,” Novice Hame said, looking sadly around the room.

“All of them? Everyone? What happened?” the Doctor asked.

“A new chemical. A new mood. They called it Bliss. Everyone tried it. They couldn't stop. A virus mutated inside the compound and became airborne. Everything perished. Even the virus, in the end. It killed the world in seven minutes flat. There was just enough
time to close down the walkways and the flyovers, sealing off the under-city. Those people on the motorway aren't lost, Doctor. They were saved.”

The Doctor nodded in understanding. “So the whole thing down there is running on automatic.”

“There’s not enough power to get them out. We did all we could to stop the system from choking,” Novice Hame explained.

“Who's we? How did you survive?” the Doctor asked.

“He protected me. And he has waited for you, these long years,” Novice Hame said.

“Doctor,” A deep voice echoed from just out of sight.

The Doctor chased after it, “The Face of Boe!”

“I knew you would come,” Boe said.

“Back in the old days, I was made his nurse as penance for my sin,” Novice Hame explained.

“Old friend, what happened to you?” the Doctor asked, kneeling down by Boe.

“Failing,” was all the head responded.

“He protected me from the virus by shrouding me in his smoke. But with no one to maintain it, the City's power died. The under-city would have fallen into the sea,” Novice Hame clarified.

“So he saved them,” the Doctor said, never taking his eyes off of his old friend.

“The Face of Boe wired himself into the mainframe. He's giving his life force just to keep things running,” Novice Hame said.

“But there are planets out there. You could have called for help,” the Doctor argued.

Novice Hame shook her head. “The last act of the Senate was to declare New Earth unsafe. The automatic quarantine lasts for one hundred years.”

“So the two of you stayed here, on your own for all these years,” the Doctor whispered.

“We had no choice,” Novice Hame said.

“Yes, you did,” the Doctor replied.

“Save them, Doctor,” The Face of Boe said. “Save them and save Rose.”

It took a few minutes, but the Doctor got all of the settings adjusted so that he would be able to open the motorway. He threw the final switch, and the lights flickered off. “No, no, no, no, no, no, no. The transformers are blocked. The signal can’t get through.”

“Doctor,” the Face of Boe said.

“Yeah, hold on, not now,” he replied.

“I give you my last,” Boe said, and with a deep breath from the giant head, all of the lights in the room suddenly came back on.

“Hame, look after him,” the Doctor said. “Don't you go dying on me, you big old face. You've got to see this. The open road. Ha!”

**********************************************************************************************************************

The monitor in the car flickered on to reveal the Doctor’s face. “Sorry, no Sally Calypso. She was just a hologram. My name's the Doctor. And this is an order. Everyone drive up. Right now. I've opened the roof of the motorway. Come on. Throttle those engines.
Drive up. All of you. The whole under-city. Drive up, drive up, drive up! Fast! We've got to clear that fast lane. Drive up and get out of the way.”

“That’s the Doctor!” Rose exclaimed.

“We can’t go up!” Milo exclaimed. “We’ll hit the layer!”

“Just do as he says!” Rose exclaimed. “If he says go up, then go up. That man is not about to kill us.”

Milo nodded and started to drive up. “It's daylight. Oh my God, that's the sky. The real sky.”

“I told you. I trust the Doctor with my life,” Rose replied.

Suddenly, the voice on the screen said, “If you are one of the two cars holding one of my friends, drive to the Senate and meet me there to give them back to me.”

Rose smiled over at her new friends. “Well, if you really want to prove you’re not kidnappers, I guess you two should get me to the Senate.”

A little while later, Rose was dropped off in front of the Senate. She said her goodbyes to Milo and Cheen, and then just stood in front of the Senate. She didn’t need the Doctor to tell her that something horrible had happened here. The once vibrant city was
like a ghost town. But then Martha was dropped off at the Senate and shook Rose out of her stupor.

“You alright then?” Martha asked.

“Yeah,” Rose said. “But we should probably get in and find the Doctor.”

The two women took off into the Senate. When Rose saw the Face of Boe just lying there though, she sprinted toward him. “Oh no, what happened?”

“He's the one that saved you, not me,” the Doctor said.

“What is that?” Martha exclaimed from a little ways behind.

“It's the Face of Boe. It's all right. Come and say hello. And this is Hame. She's a cat. Don't worry,” the Doctor replied as Rose sat quietly by Boe’s side.

“My lord gave his life to save the city, and now he's dying,” Novice Hame said.

“No, don't say that. Not old Boe. Plenty of life left,” the Doctor argued.

“It's good to breathe the air once more,” Boe said. He looked at Rose and saw the tears streaming down her face. “Come now Rosie, don’t cry for me.”

“What?” Rose asked, but no one else seemed to have heard it. He had telepathically sent her that message. His only response to her question was a wink.

“Who is he?” Martha asked.

“I don't even know. Legend says the Face of Boe has lived for billions of years. Isn't that right? And you're not about to give up now,” the Doctor said.

“Everything has its time. You know that, old friend, better than most,” Boe replied.

“The legend says more,” Novice Hame said.

“Don’t. There’s no need for that,” the Doctor argued.

“It says that the Face of Boe will speak his final secrets to travelers,” Novice Hame continued.

“Yeah, but not yet. Who needs secrets, eh?” the Doctor said emphatically.

“I have seen so much. Perhaps too much. I am the last of my kind, as you are the last of yours, Doctor,” Boe whispered.

“That's why we have to survive. Both of us. Don't go,” the Doctor pleaded.

“I must. But know this, Time Lord. You are not alone,” Boe said with an air of finality. Then he turned to look at Rose. His next words were said only to her and only in her head. “Know this, Rose Tyler. I am not afraid of the Big, Bad Wolf.”

Rose let out a choking sob.

“What?” The Doctor asked. “Rose, are you okay?” She nodded, but couldn’t bring herself to say anything. How had he known?

“Goodbye. It was good to be able to see you all again, one last time.” Boe smiled. “My friends.”

Then with one last breath, The Face of Boe was gone, and all that was left was a giant, lifeless head.

**********************************************************************************************************************

A little while later, the three of them were wandering through Pharmacy Town. “All closed down,” the Doctor declared.

“Happy?” Martha asked.

“Happy happy. New New York can start again. And they've got Novice Hame. Just what every city needs. Cats in charge. Come on, time we were off,” the Doctor said, leading them all toward the TARDIS.

“But what did he mean, the Face of Boe? You're not alone,” Martha said.

“I don’t know,” the Doctor replied.

“You’ve got us. Is that what he meant?” Martha asked.

“I don’t think so, sorry,” the Doctor said.

“Then what?” Martha asked.

“Back to the TARDIS. Off we go,” the Doctor said, but Martha straightened up a chair that had been turned over and took a seat. “Oh, are you staying?”

“Till you talk to me properly, yes. He said last of your kind. What does that mean?” Martha asked.

“Doesn’t matter,” the Doctor said.

“Yes it does!” Martha exclaimed. Then she turned to Rose, who was still crying just a bit over the poor Face of Boe. “What about you? Do you know what that head meant when he said the Doctor was the last of his kind?”

“Yes,” Rose said quietly.

“Do you really though, or are you just saying that. Cause you think it would come up occasionally,” Martha argued.

“Yes, I do really know. But we don’t talk about it because it’s painful. Can’t you see that?” Rose yelled, looking between Martha and the Doctor.

“I lied to you, because I liked it. I could pretend. Just for a bit, I could imagine they were still alive, underneath a burnt orange sky. I'm not just a Time Lord. I'm the last of the Time Lords. The Face of Boe was wrong. There's no one else,” the Doctor whispered,
shaking his head.

“What happened?” Martha asked, ignoring Rose, who was shaking her head and telling the girl to stop.

“There was a war. A Time War. The last Great Time War. My people fought a race called the Daleks, for the sake of all creation. And they lost. They lost. Everyone lost. They're all gone now. My family, my friends, even that sky. Oh, you should have seen it, that old planet. The second sun would rise in the south, and the mountains would shine. The leaves on the trees were silver, and when they caught the light every morning, it looked like a forest on fire. When the autumn came, the breeze would blow through the branches like a song. But now, now, I’m all alone,” the Doctor said, turning away from Martha and starting to walk back toward the TARDIS, knowing that Martha would follow.

Rose quickly fell in step with him and took his hand, looking up at him the same way she did all those years ago when he first told her the truth. “There’s me.”

He smiled down at her, and for just a moment, he allowed himself to imagine that that was what Boe meant when he said that he was not alone.

Chapter Text

Rose was just sitting on her bed when she heard a knock on her door. “Come in,” she called, wiping away the tears. She had only met the Face of Boe a few times, but she felt like she knew him so much better than that. And he had called her Rosie, and no one did that. Sometimes Mickey would, and sometimes Jack, but that was about it. She had never been one for nicknames. So the fact that a billion year old alien called her that made her think that she must be missing something.

The Doctor poked his head in and broke her out of her silent musings. “Are you okay?” he asked, coming all the way into the room.

“Yeah,” Rose replied. “It’s just strange, is all. We only met the Face of Boe a few times, but I feel like I just lost a best friend.”

“I know what you mean, but I was also wondering if you were okay, you know, after having been kidnapped and all,” the Doctor said, sitting down next to her on her bed.

Rose looked at him as though she had just remembered that that was how the day had started. “Oh, yeah,” she replied.
“I’m honestly fine. They were good people, neither of them wanted to do anything bad.”

“But they kidnapped you!” The Doctor yelled, jumping up, unable to hold back his anger as the fear of almost losing her resurfaced.

Rose laid a hand on his arm and pulled him back down into a sitting position. “But I’m fine, yeah? They were pregnant, and they were just trying to do what was right by their baby. Was it still wrong? Yeah, but they were scared and desperate, and
they were just doing their best.”

“But, Rose,” the Doctor started to argue, but he couldn’t come up with the words.

“But nothing Doctor. I’m fine. And I always knew you’d get me out of that mess. You always do,” Rose smiled, leaning her head on his arm.

He absentmindedly kissed the top of her head before he remembered all of his rules. He couldn’t keep doing this. The number of times he had almost lost her in the past week alone, and his reactions each of those times were proof that he couldn’t let their relationship go any further. If he did, it would eventually kill him when he lost her. “Well, if you’re sure you’re fine, I’ll let you get to bed then,” the Doctor said, standing up and walking out of her room suddenly.

“Goodnight Doctor,” Rose called from behind him.

“Goodnight Rose Tyler,” the Doctor whispered, far too quiet for her to hear.

**********************************************************************************************************************

Rose woke up when she felt the TARDIS land. “Where are we now, Old Girl?” Rose asked. The lights flashed a few times and
Rose sighed. “I’m guessing it’s not Martha’s flat?”

The TARDIS materialized a simple, old fashioned pair of brown trousers, an off-white blouse, and a thick jacket on her bed. “Definitely not Martha’s flat then. What happened to just one trip?” Rose grumbled, throwing on the outfit and brushing her hair back into a low bun.

When Rose came into the console room, Martha started laughing. “What are you wearing?”

“The TARDIS picked it out for me,” Rose shrugged. “It never hurts to blend in, and by the outfit she gave me, I would recommend changing if I were you.”

“Oh, you don’t have to change for every place we go,” the Doctor argued.

Rose shook her head, “No, you don’t have to change for everywhere because you wear the exact same thing
everywhere!”

“No I don’t,” the Doctor whined. “I’ve even put on my blue suit today!”

Rose rolled her eyes. “You can keep wearing that if you want Martha, but if you want to change, the TARDIS will lead you to
the wardrobe room.” The TARDIS lights flashed overhead, and Rose giggled. “She promises she won’t send you on a wild
goose chase.”

Martha looked hesitantly up at the ceiling before she shrugged. “I’ll be back in just a second, yeah?”

As soon as she had disappeared down the hall, Rose turned to the Doctor. “Just one trip, yeah?”

“Oh, come on, Rose, she’s brilliant!” the Doctor argued.

“Maybe, but ever since we picked her up it’s been adventure after adventure,” Rose sighed.

The Doctor looked at Rose and frowned. “I thought you said you were ready for adventures.”

“I am, but maybe not every day. We’ve never done things like this. I mean, trouble’s just the bits in between, yeah?” Rose asked.

Before the Doctor could respond, Martha came back into the console room. “Alright,” she smiled, “let’s go.” Rose shot the Doctor a look to tell him that they would finish the conversation later, but he was already moving down the ramp, chatting with Martha.

Rose made it out of the TARDIS just in time to hear the Doctor say, “Martha, have you met my friend?”

Rose followed their gazes as she heard Martha exclaim, “Is that? Oh, my God. That's the Statue of Liberty.”

“Gateway to the New World. Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,” the Doctor quoted.

“That's so brilliant. I've always wanted to go to New York. I mean the real New York, not the new, new, new, new, new one,” Martha gasped.

“Well, there's the genuine article. So good, they named it twice. Mind you, it was New Amsterdam originally. Harder to say twice. No wonder it didn't catch on. New Amsterdam, New Amsterdam,” the Doctor muttered.

“I wonder what year it is, because look, the Empire State Building's not even finished yet,” Martha declared, pointing at the tower on the skyline.

“Work in progress. Still got a couple floors to go, and if I know my history, that makes the date somewhere around—" the Doctor started.

“1930,” Rose said, tucking the newspaper she had just picked up behind her back. “Early November too.”

“I’m impressed Rose. You’re getting really good at this,” the Doctor exclaimed turning around to face her. It was then that
she pulled out the newspaper and tossed it to him, her tongue peeking out between her teeth as she grinned at him. “Now
that’s just cheating!” he whined.

“Eighty years ago. It's funny, because you see all those old newsreels all in black and white like it's so far away, but here we are. It's real. It's now. Come on then, you. Where do you want to go first?” Martha asked, ignoring Rose.

The Doctor handed the paper to Martha, pointing out the headline that read Hooverville Mystery Deepens, as he declared, “I think our detour just longer.”

**********************************************************************************************************************

Rose felt like they had been walking through the sewer for ages. Normally, she wouldn’t mind that much, this was just part of her life. And she knew that they would end up doing something like this from the moment Solomon told them that people had been going missing. She just had this feeling that something really bad was about to happen.

Finally, Solomon voiced her thoughts exactly. “We're way beyond half a mile. There's no collapse, nothing.”

“That Diagoras bloke, was he lying?” Martha asked.

“Looks like it,” the Doctor replied, but Rose could tell he wasn’t really paying attention. He could feel it too, whatever it was that was coming. “Solomon, I think it's time you took these three back. I'll be much quicker on my own.”

“No,” Rose said firmly, before she heard what sounded like a pig squealing.

“What the hell was that?” Solomon asked.

“Hello?” Frank whispered into the near darkness.

“Shhh,” Martha hissed as Solomon said sharply, “Frank.”

“What if it's one of the folk gone missing? You'd be scared and half mad down here on your own,” Frank argued.

“Do you think they’re still alive?” the Doctor asked, letting most of his attention return to the people around him rather than the sense of dread that he had been feeling since they got into the sewer.

“Heck, we ain't seen no bodies down here. Maybe they just got lost,” Frank shrugged.

As more squeals echoed through the tunnel, Solomon said, “I know I never heard nobody make a sound like that.”

“Where's it coming from? Sounds like there's more than one of them,” Frank said.

“This way,” the Doctor said, pointing down one tunnel.

“No,” Solomon argued, shining his torch the opposite way to show a huddled-up figure. “That way.”

“Doctor?” Martha asked, stepping toward him, but Rose held her back.

“Something isn’t right,” Rose whispered to her. “There is something really wrong here.”

“What do you mean?” Martha asked, turning her attention away from the poor man.

Rose shook her head. “I can’t pinpoint what it is, but there’s something really wrong here.”

“Are you saying you think we should leave?” Martha asked, unable to keep the judgement out of her voice. How had she managed to stick around this long if she couldn’t even stand a bit of trouble?

“No,” Rose sighed, “because I think we’re the only ones that can fix it. Oh, but if this is as bad as I feel like it’s going to be, I wish we could lea—”

The rest of Rose’s sentence died on her lips as she looked at the man crouched in the corner. Well, man was a loose term because he had the face of a pig.

“Oh, but what are you?” The Doctor asked.

“Is that, er, some kind of carnival mask?” Solomon asked, trying to make some sense of the crazy reality he had just stepped into.

“No, it's real. I'm sorry. Now listen to me. I promise I can help. Who did this to you?” The Doctor replied, never taking his eyes off the pigman.

“Doctor?” Martha called, looking to the corner of the tunnel where more pig men had suddenly appeared. “I think you better get back here.”

When he didn’t answer Martha, Rose immediately yelled, “Doctor!”

His eyes snapped to her, and he registered the fear in her voice. “Actually, good point,” he said, returning to the group.

“They’re following you,” Martha said.

“Yeah, I noticed that, thanks. Well then, Martha, Frank, Solomon,” the Doctor said. Rose didn’t fail to notice how her name was missing from the list, and for a fraction of a second, she was hurt, thinking he had forgotten she was there.

“What?” Martha asked.

Then the Doctor looked at Rose and smiled, a smile he hadn’t give her in a long time. He held out his hand to her and said one word, just one word. “Run.”

“Where are we going?” Martha asked, but the Doctor didn’t answer, he just ran with Rose, and hoped the others followed him.

When they reached a ladder, the Doctor let go of Rose’s hand to climb up, opening the cover with the sonic. “Come on,” he urged, pulling Rose, Martha, and Solomon up behind him. Frank, however, was busy trying to ward off the pigmen.

“Frank!” Solomon yelled. “C’mon Frank!”

He started to climb up, and the Doctor grabbed him to haul him the rest of the way up. “I've got you. C'mon! Come on!”

The pigmen were too strong, and they pulled him down. “No!” The Doctor yelled, but Solomon pushed the Doctor away and closed the cover.

“We can’t go after him,” he said, with an air of finality.

“We've got to go back down. We can't just leave him,” the Doctor argued.

“No, I'm not losing anybody else. Those creatures were from Hell. From Hell itself! If we go after them, they'll take us all!
There's nothing we can do. I'm sorry,” Solomon said, shaking his head.

Before anyone could respond, a woman with a gun stepped out from behind a rack and pointed it at them. “All right, then.
Put them up. Hands in the air and no funny business. Now tell me, you schmucks, what have you done with Laszlo?”

“Who’s Lazlo?” Martha asked.

The woman led them back to what looked like a dressing room and had a seat in front of the mirror, still pointing the gun at them all. “Laszlo's my boyfriend. Or was my boyfriend until he disappeared two weeks ago. No letter, no goodbye, no nothing. And I'm not stupid. I know some guys are just pigs but not my Laszlo. I mean, what kind of guy asks you to meet his mother before he vamooses?”

She was waving the gun around wildly, occasionally even pointing it at herself, so the Doctor interrupted her rambling to say, “Yeah. It might, might just help if you put that down.”

She laughed and sat it down on the vanity. “Huh? Oh, sure. Oh, come on. It's not real. It's just a prop. It was either that or a spear.”

“What do you think happened to Lazlo?” Martha asked.

“I wish I knew. One minute he's there, the next, zip. Vanished.” The woman replied.

“Listen,” the Doctor said, “ah, what’s your name?”

“Tallulah,” she replied.

“Tallulah,” the Doctor repeated, just to make sure he had it right.

“Three L’s and an H,” she replied, as though the Doctor was going to need to spell it sometime soon.

“Right. We can try to find Laszlo, but he's not the only one. There are people disappearing every night,” the Doctor said.

“And there are creatures, such creatures,” Solomon shivered behind the Doctor.

“What do you mean, creatures?” Tallulah asked.

“Look, listen, just trust me. Everyone is in danger. I need to find out exactly what this is,” the Doctor said, pulling the
jellyfish-like creature he had found earlier out of his pocket. “Because then I’ll know exactly what we’re fighting.”

“Yuck,” Tallulah said, scrunching up her nose at the creature.

“Ok, now you all stay here. I’m going to go raid the props room to see if I can find what I need to identify this,” the Doctor said.

“I’ll go with you,” Solomon said. “This room feels like it’s more for the ladies.”

As soon as they were gone, Rose and Martha both settled in. “Were those pig things what you meant?” Martha asked.
“When you said you felt like there was something wrong?”

Rose shook her head. “No, they’re just sad. This is something much, much worse.”

“Sad? They killed Frank!” Martha exclaimed.

“I know, that’s not what I—I mean, I don’t think they know what they’re doing. I think someone is controlling them,” Rose
replied.

“Why do you think that?” Martha asked.

“I don’t know, it’s just this feeling,” Rose shrugged.

Before they could continue their conversation, Tallulah walked in wearing a different outfit. Before they could ask, she
replied, “I’ve got to start getting ready for tonight’s show.”

“Oh, we can leave if you need us to,” Martha replied.

“No, you don’t have to do that,” Tallulah replied. “I thought I could tell you a bit about Lazlo. I don’t really get to talk about
him much around here. The other girls get jealous, and it’s a dog-eat-dog world right now.”

“Oh, yeah. Tell us everything you can about Lazlo. Maybe that’ll help us find him,” Rose replied, moving to sit next to Tallulah on her bench.

“Laszlo. He'd wait for me after the show. Walk me home like I was a lady. He'd leave a flower for me on my dressing table. Every day, just a single rose bud,” she said, her eyes glazing over as she got lost in thought.

“Well, haven’t you reported him missing?” Martha asked.

“Sure. He's just a stagehand. Who cares? The management certainly don't,” Tallulah huffed.

“Can’t you kick up a fuss or something?” Martha asked.

“Okay, so then they fire me,” Tallulah replied. Rose nodded. She remembered that feeling from her days at Hendrick’s.

“But, they’d listen to you,” Martha argued, clearly unaware of the realities of a job like that. “You’re one of the stars.”

“Oh, honey, I got one song in a back street revue and that's only because Heidi Chicane broke her ankle. Which had
nothing to do with me whatever anybody says. I can't afford to make a fuss. If I don't make this month's rent, then before
you know it, I'm in Hooverville,” Tallulah replied angrily.

“Okay, I get it,” Martha replied.

“It's the Depression, sweetie. Your heart might break, but the show goes on. Because if it stops, you starve. Every night I
have to go out there, sing, dance, keep going, hoping he's going to come back,” Tallulah smiled sadly. “But, at least I’ve
got hope,” she said, holding up a white rosebud. “On my dressing table every day still.”

“You think it’s Lazlo?” Rose asked.

“I don't know. If he's still around, why is he being all secret like he doesn't want me to see him?” Tallulah asked.

A stream of girls started to file past Tallulah’s dressing room, so she got up, grabbing Rose and Martha by the arm. “Come
on ladies; take a look. You ever been on stage before?”

Rose and Martha glanced at each other. “Oh, a little bit. You know, Shakespeare.”

“How dull is that?” Tallulah asked. “Come and see a real show!”

**********************************************************************************************************************

Rose wandered off to find the Doctor. She just couldn’t shake the feeling that something very bad was about to happen, and so she knew she wasn’t going to be able to enjoy the show like Martha would. When she found him up in the lighting gallery, he was mumbling to himself.

“Fundamental DNA type four six seven dash nine eight nine. Nine eight nine,” the Doctor muttered. “Hold on, that means planet of origin: Skaro.”

“Skaro?” Rose asked with a sinking feeling. The Doctor turned to look at her, and he could see his own fear mirrored in her eyes. “Like the Cult of Skaro?”

The Doctor nodded, but before he could say anything, they heard a scream and took off to find Martha.

When they finally found Tallulah again, the Doctor yelled, “Where is she? Where’s Martha?”

“I don’t know, she ran off the stage,” Tallulah replied.

Then they heard a scream and the three of them took off running. “Martha!” the Doctor yelled, noticing that the sewer cover hadn’t been shut properly.

“Where are you going?” Tallulah asked as the Doctor and Rose began to climb down into the sewer.

“They’ve taken her,” the Doctor replied.

“Who’s taken her?” Tallulah asked. “What’re you doing?”

“Rose, you stay up here, with Tallulah,” the Doctor said as she started to climb down.

“No,” Rose replied. “If there are Daleks, I’m not letting you go alone. You’ll need me.”

“Rose, it might not be Daleks. No planet has just one life form,” the Doctor argued.

“Yeah?” Rose asked. “Well I’ve had this feeling all day that something was going to go terribly wrong, so I’d bet you ten quid it’s Daleks. That’s just the sort of luck we have.”

“It isn’t safe down there,” the Doctor said.

“Can you promise me it’s going to be safe up here?” Rose asked. When he didn’t answer, Rose took that as her sign that he
was giving in, and she started to crawl down after him. She was shortly followed by Tallulah.

“No, no, no, no, no way. You're not coming,” the Doctor said, shaking his head at her.

“Tell me what's going on,” she said.

The Doctor said, “There's nothing you can do. Go back.”

“Look, whoever's taken Martha, they could've taken Laszlo, couldn't they?”

“Tallulah, you’re not safe down here,” the Doctor argued.

“Well, like she said,” Tallulah pointed at Rose, “you can’t promise that I’m safe up there, so that’s my problem. Now, which
way?”

The Doctor sighed. “This way.”

After a few minutes of silence, Tallulah said, “When you say, they've taken her, who's they exactly? And who are you
anyway? I never asked.”

“Shhh,” the Doctor whispered.

“Okay, okay,” Tallulah replied.

“Shush, shush, shush, shush, shush, shush, shush,” The Doctor said.

Rose saw the shadow first and clamped a hand over Tallulah’s mouth before she could say another word. The three of them retreated into an alcove to wait for the Dalek to pass. Once it was gone, Rose released Tallulah’s mouth.

Neither one was sure who initiated the hug, but Rose was immediately in the Doctor’s arms. He held her tight as he whispered into her hair, “No, no, no, no, no, no, no. They survived. They always survive. How do they always survive?”

“I don’t know,” Rose whispered, hugging him back just as fiercely, unsure if it was to reassure him or herself.

“That metal thing?” Tallulah asked. “What was it?”

“It’s called a Dalek. And it’s not just metal. It’s alive,” the Doctor replied, letting go of Rose, albeit reluctantly.

“You’re kidding me,” Tallulah replied.

“Does it look like I'm kidding? Inside that shell is a creature born to hate, whose only thought is to destroy everything and everyone that isn't a Dalek too. It won't stop until it's killed every human being alive,” the Doctor snapped.

“But if it's not a human being, that kind of implies it's from outer space,” Tallulah said. When the Doctor just looked back at her without refuting that statement, she whispered, “Yet again, that's a no with the kidding. Boy. Well, what's it doing here, in New York?”

The Doctor looked between Rose and Tallulah. “Every second you’re down here, you’re in danger. I’m taking you back right now.”

“No,” Rose replied. “I’m not going anywhere.”

Before the Doctor could reply, he saw a pigman around the corner and turned on it. “Where's Martha? What have you done with her? What have you done with Martha?”

“I didn’t take her,” he replied.

“Can you remember your name?” The Doctor asked, walking closer to it.

“Don’t look at me,” the pigman said, hiding his face against the wall.

“Do you know where she is?” Tallulah asked.

The pigman got louder and held out a hand. “Stay back! Don’t look at me.”

“What happened to you?” the Doctor asked.

“They made me a monster,” he replied.

“Who did?” Rose asked.

“The masters,” the pigman spat.

“The Daleks. Why?” The Doctor asked.

“They needed slaves. They needed slaves to steal more people so they created us. Part animal, part human. I escaped before they got my mind, but it was still too late,” he said. Rose stepped forward and put a hand on his shoulder.

“I know you didn’t take her, but do you know what happened to Martha?” Rose asked.

“They took her. It's my fault. She was following me,” he replied.

“Were you in the theatre?” Tallulah asked.

“I never—” he started, before he let out a quiet, “yes.”

“Why? Why were you there?” Tallulah asked.

“I never wanted you to see me like this,” he replied.

“Why me? What do I got to do with this? Were you following me? Is that why you were there?” Tallulah asked, growing increasingly more desperate.

He finally turned around to face her with a simple, “Yes.”

“Who are you?” Tallulah asked, though Rose thought she might already know the answer to that.

“I was lonely.”

“Who are you?” Tallulah asked again.

“I needed to see you.”

“Who are you?”

“I’m sorry,” the pigman said, turning away.

“No, wait. Let me look at you,” she said, turning him back around. She stared at him for a few seconds before a small smile reached her face. “Lazlo? My Lazlo? Oh, what have they done to you?”

“I’m sorry. So sorry,” Lazlo whispered to her as she threw her arms around him.

After a few seconds, the Doctor interrupted. “Lazlo, can you show me where they are?”

“They’ll kill you,” Lazlo warned him

“If I don’t stop them, they’ll kill everyone,” the Doctor replied.

“Then follow me,” Lazlo said, leading them through the sewer without ever letting go of Tallulah’s hand.

Subconsciously, the Doctor’s hand also found Rose’s. He was trying not to hold her hand so much, because any physical contact made it harder and harder to keep to his rules. But with Daleks nearby, the Doctor needed to keep Rose close. Because he couldn’t lose her to them, not her, and not them.

It wasn’t long before they reached a group of people being herded around by the pigmen. Rose heard Martha and knew that at least they were in the right place. They watched the Daleks sort them by intelligence, with most of them being taken to become pig slaves while the rest were marked for ‘The Final Experiment.’

Lazlo tried to lead them away, but the Doctor and Rose insisted on staying. “Do you remember the way?” he asked Tallulah.

“Yeah, I think so,” she replied.

“Then go, please,” Lazlo replied.

She shook her head. “But Lazlo, you got to come with me.”

“Where would I go?” Lazlo asked. “Tallulah, I’m begging you. Save yourself. Just run. Just go. Go.”

The Doctor turned to look at Rose. He let out a long and shaky breath. “Rose…” She looked at him, daring him to tell her to leave, but in that moment, he couldn’t even ask her to. He was weak, and he needed her. He knew she would be in more danger with him, but he needed to be able to see her, make sure that she was okay. But the Carrionite’s warning still rang in his head. “Let’s go,” he finally said, falling into line behind Martha.

“Just keep walking,” he whispered in her ear.

“Oh, am I glad to see you,” Martha replied.

“Yeah, well, you can kiss me later. You too, Frank, if you want,” the Doctor replied, trying to keep his tone light as they
made their way to the transgenic laboratory.

When they got to the laboratory, the Daleks were talking about evolution and one of them was smoking and shaking in its
shell.

“What’s going on?” Rose hissed in the Doctor’s ear.

“I don’t know,” he replied. “Martha, ask them what’s going on.”

“What, me? Don’t be daft,” Martha replied.

“They know me, and they know Rose. We’re practically Public Enemies Number 1 and 2 with the Daleks. We don’t exactly
want to get noticed. Just ask them what’s going on,” the Doctor replied.

Martha took a step forward, and she tried to be commanding as she said, “Daleks, I demand to be told. What is this Final
Experiment? Report!”

“You will bear witness,” the Dalek replied.

“To what?” Martha asked.

“This is the dawn of a new age,” the Dalek replied.

“What does that mean?” Martha asked.

“We are the only four Daleks in existence, so the species must evolve a life outside the shell. The Children of Skaro must walk again,” the Dalek said.

Suddenly, the Dalek that was shaking and smoking stilled, and its eyestalk went out. The casing opened, and a creature stepped out. It had a body like a human, but its head was clearly that of a Dalek.

“What is it?” Martha gasped.

“I am a human Dalek. I am your future.”

Chapter Text

The human Dalek looked around at the assembled group. “These humans will become like me. Prepare them for hybridization.”

The Doctor ducked behind some equipment, pulling Rose with him. He told himself that he didn’t drag Martha along too because the Daleks didn’t recognize her, so it wasn’t quite as important that she stay out of sight. That didn’t stop him from feeling a twinge of remorse when the pigmen started to grab her and she shouted, “Leave me alone! Don’t you dare!”

That was when the Doctor decided he had to make his grand entrance. He put a finger to his lips and looked at Rose, then he pulled a small radio out of his pocket and turned it on. As the old-timey music began playing throughout the room, the human Dalek yelled, “What is that sound?”

Stepping out from behind the equipment, the Doctor replied, “Ah, well. Now, that would be me.” He sat the radio down and stepped up to the hybrid. “Hello, surprise, boo, et cetera.”

“Doctor,” it hissed.

One of the other Daleks added, “The enemy of the Daleks.”

Another called, “Exterminate!”

But the hybrid glanced between the two and said, “Wait!”

The Doctor nodded. “Well, then. A new form of Dalek. Fascinating and very clever.”

“The Cult of Skaro escaped your slaughter,” it explained.

“Yes,” the Doctor replied, trying to remain calm as he remembered Canary Wharf and how these four Daleks had almost cost him his precious Rose. “So, tell me, which one are you?”

“I am Dalek Sec,” the hybrid replied.

“So, Sec, how did you end up in 1930?” the Doctor asked, hands in his pockets, the picture of calm. Rose knew better, but she could also tell that the Doctor had a plan, and she wasn’t about to get in the way of that.

“Emergency temporal shift,” Sec explained.

“Oh, that must have roasted up your power cells, huh? Time was, four Daleks could have conquered the world, but instead you're skulking away, hidden in the dark, experimenting. All of which results in you,” the Doctor taunted.

“I am Dalek in human form,” Sec replied.

“What does it feel like? You can talk to me Dalek Sec. You’ve got a name and a mind of your own. Tell me what you’re thinking right now,” the Doctor said, stepping closer and closer to Sec.

“I feel….humanity,” Sec said, turning to face away from the Doctor and the other Daleks.

“Good, that’s good,” the Doctor replied.

“I feel everything we wanted from mankind, which is ambition, hatred, aggression and war. Such a genius for war,” Sec replied, turning back.

“No, that’s not what humanity means,” the Doctor argued.

“I think it does. At heart, this species is so very Dalek,” Sec said.

“All right, so what have you achieved then, with this Final Experiment, eh? Nothing! Because I can show you what you're missing with this thing. A simple little radio,” the Doctor said, pointing to the device in question.

“What is the purpose of that device?” One of the regular Daleks asked.

“Well, exactly,” the Doctor replied. “It plays music. What’s the point of that? Oh, with music you can dance to it, sing with it,” he glanced to the piece of equipment where Rose was hiding and paused, then quickly turned to look into a Dalek eyestalk as he said, “fall in love to it. Unless you’re a Dalek of course. Then it’s all just noise!” He pointed the sonic at it and the radio started screeching. “Run!”

Everyone took off, with the Doctor falling in last, after making sure Rose was out. He noted that Lazlo had stayed with the other pig men, but he didn’t really process that information until they were too far away for him to do anything about it. On their way out,
they ran into Tallulah, who still hadn’t actually made her way out of the sewers. The Doctor vaguely registered Rose grabbing her and assuring her that Lazlo was fine, they just needed to get out, but he wasn’t paying much attention. He was much more
focused on getting Rose out and away from those creatures.

**********************************************************************************************************************

“These Daleks, they sound like the stuff of nightmares. And they want to breed?” Solomon said once the Doctor finished explaining everything to him.

“They're splicing themselves onto human bodies, and if I'm right, they've got a farm of breeding stock right here in Hooverville. You've got to get everyone out,” the Doctor told him, glancing around at all of the people huddled in tents around them.

“Hooverville's the lowest place a man can fall. There's nowhere else to go,” Solomon argued.

“I'm sorry, Solomon. You've got to scatter. Go anywhere. Down to the railroads, travel across state. Just get out of New York,” the Doctor insisted.

“There's got to be a way to reason with these things,” Solomon protested.

“There’s not a chance,” Martha said.

“You ain’t seen ‘em boss,” Frank added.

“Doctor?” Rose said.

“What?” he asked, hearing some emotion in her voice that he couldn’t quite place.

“Do you remember Utah?” she asked.

“Of course I remember Utah,” he replied, his mind flashing back to those few minutes when he thought he had lost Rose. It was the first time he had put a name to the feelings he had for Rose, and that was only because a Dalek was smart enough to see it.

“If they could change then, what’s stopping them from doing that now?” Rose asked.

“That was an anomaly Rose,” the Doctor replied. “That Dalek was fresh out of the time war, confused, and lacking orders. These Daleks make their own rules and know exactly what they are doing.”

“Yeah but if a human could—” Rose started before the Doctor cut her off.

“But don’t you remember how many people that Dalek killed before it was all over?” The Doctor said, his voice getting angrier by the second. It wasn’t Rose he was angry at, of course, it was the Daleks, but she didn’t know that.

“You’re right,” Rose said quietly. “It was stupid.”

Before the Doctor could reply, one of the watchmen shouted, “They're coming! They're coming!”

“A sentry. He must have seen something,” Solomon said.

“They're here! I've seen them! Monsters! They're monsters!” the sentry yelled.

“It’s started,” the Doctor said matter-of-factly.

“We’re under attack!” Solomon yelled. “Everyone to arms!”

“I’m ready boss,” Frank said, “but all of you, find a weapon! Use anything.”

As the pigmen began to appear, people began to flee, and Solon yelled, “Come back! We've got to stick together! It's not safe out there! Come back!”

Martha grabbed the Doctor’s arm. “We need to get out of the park.”

He shook his head. “We can’t. They’re on all sides. They’re driving everyone back towards us.”

“We’re trapped! Tallulah yelled.

“Then we stand together,” Solomon said. “Gather round. Everybody come to me. You there, Jethro, Harry, Seamus, stay together.” The armed men began to circle up around all of the women and children who hadn’t been able to grab anything. “They can’t take
all of us!”

As the men began firing on the pigmen, Martha said, “If we can just hold them off till daylight.”

The Doctor looked at her sadly. “Oh Martha, they’re just the foot soldiers.”

As soon as the Doctor had said that, a Dalek came flying toward them. “Oh my God,” Martha gasped.

“What in the world is that?’ Solomon asked.

“It's the devil. A devil in the sky. God save us all. It's damnation,” the sentry from earlier cried.

“Oh yeah?” Frank asked before firing his shotgun at the Dalek. “We’ll see about that!”

It just bounced off with a clang, and the Doctor turned to Frank. “That’s not going to work.”

As another Dalek flew in, Martha yelled, “There’s more than one of them!”

The new Dalek yelled, “The humans will surrender.”

Stepping forward, the Doctor said, “Leave them alone. They’ve done nothing to you!” Solomon stepped forward to stand next to the Doctor, but the Doctor held out a hand to try to stop him. “No, Solomon. Stay back.”
Ignoring the Doctor’s warning, Solomon addressed the Daleks. “I’m told that I’m addressing the Daleks. Is that right? From what I hear, you’re outcasts too.”

“Solomon, don’t,” the Doctor pleaded.

“Doctor this is my township, and you will respect my authority. Just let me try,” Solomon said before turning back to face the Dalek. “Daleks, ain’t we all the same? Underneath, ain’t we all kin?” He put down his rifle and stepped forward again. “Right. See, I've just discovered this past day, God's universe is a thousand times the size I thought it was. And that scares me. Oh yeah, terrifies me right down to the bone. But surely it's got to give me hope. Hope that maybe together we can make a better tomorrow. So, I beg you now, if you have any compassion in your hearts, then you'll meet with us and stop this fight. Well? What do you say?”

The Dalek only took a moment to answer, and its answer was just a single word. “Exterminate!”

The green energy wracked his body for a moment before he collapsed to the ground. “No! Solomon!” Frank yelled, dropping to his knees next to the body of his friend.

“They killed him. They just shot him on the spot,” Martha gasped.

Rose couldn’t help feeling a bit guilty. What if it was her reassurance that Daleks could change that gave him the courage to do that? Was it all her fault that he was dead?

She didn’t have time to dwell on that thought though, as the Doctor soon stepped forward. “Daleks. All right, so it's my turn! Then kill me! Kill me if it'll stop you attacking these people!”

“I will be the destroyer of our greatest enemy,” the Dalek said.

“Then do it! Do it! Just do it! Do it!” The Doctor screamed.

“No, Doctor!” Rose yelled.

“Exterminate!” The Dalek yelled, but then he stopped. There was no bean of green light, and the Doctor didn’t die. The Dalek paused for a moment, then said, “I do not understand. It is the Doctor.” Another pause. “The urge to kill is too strong.” After a final
pause, the Dalek said, “I obey.”

“What’s going on?” The Doctor asked.

“You will follow,” the Dalek said.

“No! You can’t go!” Martha yelled.

“Please, Doctor,” Rose pleaded.

“I’ve got to go. The Daleks just changed their minds. Daleks never change their minds,” the Doctor said.

“But what about us?” Martha asked.

“One condition! If I come with you, you spare the lives of everyone here! Do you hear me?” the Doctor demanded.

The Dalek paused, as though receiving orders, then finally said, “Humans will be spared. Doctor, follow.”

“I’m coming with you,” Rose said.

“Me too,” Martha agreed.

“No,” the Doctor said, shaking his head. “Martha, stay here. Do what you do best. People are hurt. You can help them. Let me go.” He then turned to Rose and took both of her hands in his. He leaned down to press a kiss to her forehead. “You’re brilliant, you
know that?”

Then the Doctor turned away to follow the Daleks. No one spoke as they watched him leave. Finally, Tallulah asked, “So what about us? What do we do now?”

Rose snapped out of the stupor she had been in as she watched the Doctor go and held out the psychic paper he had slipped into her hands when he kissed her forehead. “He gave me this, so he clearly wants us to go do something.”

“What’s that for?” Tallulah asked.

“It gets you into places. Buildings and things. But where? He must want us to go somewhere but, what are we supposed to do?” Rose asked, looking at Martha.

Martha gasped as she had an idea. “Down in the sewers, the Daleks mentioned this energy conductor.”

“What does that mean?” Tallulah asked.

“I don’t know. Maybe a lightning conductor or…Dalekanium!” Martha exclaimed.

“What? What’s Dalekanium?” Rose asked.

“I don’t know,” Martha replied. “But they said the Dalekanium was in place.”

“In place where?” Tallulah asked.

Rose glanced up to the skyline. “I have my ideas,” she said. “But I need to ask Frank about what Diagoras has been up to, just to check.”

After Frank had confirmed that Diagoras had been involved with the Empire State building, the four of them headed over to investigate. They got past the doors and into a service elevator using the psychic paper.

“Where are we headed anyway?” Frank asked once the doors of the elevator had closed.

“The top, where they’re still building,” Martha replied.

“How come those guys just let us through? How's that thing work?” Tallulah asked.

“Psychic paper. Shows them whatever I want them to think. According to this, we're three engineers and an architect,” Rose replied. Then with a smile, thinking of the first time she had used it, she added, “You gotta be careful with it though. Psychic paper has a
mind of its own, and if you let your thoughts wander at all there’s no telling what it’ll say.”

When they stepped out at the top, Tallulah gasped, “Look at this place, top of the world.”

Martha and Rose immediately made their way over to the blueprints that were propped up on a board. “Okay, now this looks good,” Martha said.

“Hey, look at the date. These designs were issued today. They must've changed something last minute,” Franks said.

“You mean the Daleks changed something?” Martha asked.

“Yeah, could be,” he replied.

“The ones underneath, they're from before. That means that whatever they changed must be on this top sheet but not on this one. We need to check one against the other,” Martha said, pulling them down.

“The height of this place! This is amazing,” Tallulah exclaimed.

“Careful, we’re a hundred floors up. Don’t go wandering off,” Martha warned.

“I just want to see,” she said. Rose followed her over to the ledge, where they could see all of the city. “New York City. If aliens had to come to Earth, oh, no wonder they came here.”

Rose chuckled. “Tallulah, you should see London.”

“That where you from then?” she asked.

“Yeah, Martha and I both,” Rose replied.

“But not the Doctor?” Tallulah asked.

Rose shook her head, “No, he’s not even from Earth.”

“So he’s an alien too?”

Rose nodded. “Yeah, but Earth’s his favorite planet. Just don’t ask him about it when he’s stressed, ‘cause he tends to insult species. ‘Stupid apes’ is his favorite nickname for us.”

“So you and an alien, huh?” Tallulah asked.

“Oh, we’re not, we’re not to—” Rose mumbled.

“Oh honey,” Tallulah laughed. “I see the way you look at him. For a while, I wasn’t sure if it was you or Martha that was with him, but when he walked away, I saw the way he looked at you and I just knew.”

“Trust me,” Rose sighed. “He’s not interested in me like that. We’re just mates, that’s all.”

“You ain’t foolin’ me,” Tallulah laughed.

Rose shook her head. “He’s had his chances, and he never does anything. There have been times I thought… But he never does. Its easy to forget he’s an alien, but that’s one of the ways it matters, I think.”

“Oh. Listen, sweetheart. You want to get all sad? You want to have a contest with me and Laszlo?” Tallulah asked.

“No. But the Doctor is with him now, and if anybody can fix things for Lazlo, it’s the Doctor,” Rose assured her.

“And then what? Don't talk crazy. There's no future for me and him. Those Dalek things took that away. The one good thing I had in my life and they destroyed it,” Tallulah sighed.

Then, they heard Martha yell, “Gotcha!” They rushed back to the room she was in. “Look. There. On the mast. Those little lines? They’re new. They’ve added something, see?”

“Added what?” Tallulah asked.

The three of them all made eye contact and yelled, “Dalekanium!”

Just then, the elevator doors dinged, and the Doctor and Lazlo came out. “Doctor!” Martha and Rose yelled.

“First floor, perfumery,” the Doctor joked.

While Lazlo and Tallulah hugged, the Doctor ran over to Martha and Rose. He swept Rose into a hug, “Got my message I see?” he smirked.

“Never do that again,” Rose grumbled into his neck. He let her go to hug Martha, and then noticed the elevator doors shut behind him.

He dropped her and ran off to try to stop it, but it was no use. “No, no, no. See, never waste time with a hug. Deadlock seal. I can't stop it.”

“Where’s it going?” Martha asked.

“Right down to the Daleks. And they're not going to leave us alone up here. What's the time?”

“Er, 11:15,” Frank replied.

“We've worked it out. We know what they've done. There's Dalekanium on the mast,” Martha informed him.

“Six minutes to go. I've got to remove the Dalekanium before the gamma radiation hits,” the Doctor informed them as they ran out to look up at the mast. “Oh, that's high. That's very. Blimey, that's high.”

“And we've got to go even higher. That's the mast up there, look. There's three pieces of Dalekanium on the base. We've got to get them off,” Martha said

“That’s not we, that’s just me,” The Doctor said.

“I’m not just gonna stand here while you go out and there and try to get yourself killed,” Rose argued.

“No, you're going to have your hands full anyway. I'm sorry, Martha, Rose, but you’ve got to fight,” the Doctor said.

Martha and Frank were coming up with a plan to stop the pig slaves and Tallulah was busy with Lazlo, but Rose couldn’t focus on either. Rose did as she was told, but she kept glancing up toward where she knew the Doctor to be. He had already volunteered to die once that day, and now he was going out in the middle of a terrible storm where he would probably get struck with lightning. She knew it wouldn’t kill him, but it might cause him to regenerate again. And while she knew it would be the same man, she had already been through too many changes in the past few weeks. She wasn’t ready to deal with that.

“Rose, get away from that metal!” Martha yelled, pulling her next to them.

Within seconds, she heard the Doctor scream. As soon as the lightning strike had ended, Rose stood up and bolted for the ledge where the Doctor was. She looked up and saw him lying, completely still, hand over the edge. She climbed up and started beating
on his chest. “C’mon, c’mon Doctor, please. Please wake up. Wake up, or regenerate, or something. Please!” She yelled, clutching his chest. Martha was seconds behind her, the sonic in her hand.

Rose felt him stir, then groan, “Ohh, my head.”

Rose looked down at him, tears in her eyes but a smile on her face. “Hello,” she laughed.

“Oh, Rose Tyler, you weren’t worried about me, were you?” the Doctor asked grinning.

As he sat up, Rose threw her arms around his neck and whispered, “I’m not ready for you to change again, not yet.”

He pulled back and smiled at her, “Hopefully you’ll never have to see that again.” Then bounding to his feet, he said, “Most companions never even see it once.” He turned to Martha, “Hi, you survived then?”

“So did you, just about,” Martha replied, deciding to bring up that weird conversation again later. “I can’t help noticing there’s Dalekanium still attached.”

The Doctor started to climb down the ladder, saying, “The Daleks will have gone straight to a war footing. They'll be using the sewers, spreading the soldiers out underneath Manhattan.”

“How do we stop them?” Lazlo asked.

“There's only one chance. I got in the way. That gamma strike went zapping through me first,” the Doctor exclaimed.

“Yeah, but what does that mean?” Martha asked, but Rose started thinking about what that could mean. The first Dalek she ever met changed because a little bit of her got caught up in it. If a little bit of the Doctor got caught up with these Daleks…

She was snapped out of her thinking by the Doctor’s next idea, “We need to draw fire. Before they can attack New York, I need to face them. Where can I draw them out? Think, think, think, think, think. We need some sort of space. Somewhere safe. Somewhere
out of the way. Tallulah!”

“That's me. Three Ls and an H,” she smiled.

“The theatre! It's right above them, and, what, it's gone midnight? Can you get us inside?” The Doctor asked.

“Don’t see why not?” She shrugged.

“Is there another lift?” he asked.

“We came up in the service elevator,” Martha offered.

He nodded. “That’ll do. Allons-y!” They all sprinted to the now dark theater. “This should do it. Here we go,” he said, waving the sonic around to get the Daleks’ attention.

“There ain't nothing more creepy than a theatre in the dark. Listen, Doctor, I know you got a thing for show tunes, but there's a time and place, huh?” Tallulah said. Then Lazlo sat down behind her and she turned to him. “Lazlo, what’s wrong?”

“Nothing,” he said shaking his head. “It’s just so hot.”

“But it’s freezing in here!” Tallulah exclaimed. “Doctor, what’s happening to him?”

“Not now, Tallulah. Sorry,” he replied.

“But what are you doing?” Martha asked.

“If the Daleks are going to war, they'll want to find their number one enemy. I'm just telling them where I am,” the Doctor replied.

“Doctor, they’ll kill you!” Martha exclaimed.

“Maybe,” he said, distractedly. “You all should go.”

“No,” Rose and Martha replied in unison.

“I'm telling you to go. Frank can take you back to Hooverville,” he said.

“And we’re telling you we’re not going,” Martha said, firmly.

“Rose, Martha, that’s an order,” the Doctor snapped.

“An order?” Rose said with a barking laugh. “You better be glad my mum’s in a parallel universe cause she’d slap you into your next regeneration for that.”

“Yeah,” Martha said, “Who are you, then? Some sort of Dalek?”

Before he could respond to that accusation, the doors of the theater burst open and human Daleks came pouring in.

“Doctor! Oh, my God! Well, I guess that's them then, huh?” Tallulah asked.

“Humans, with Dalek DNA?” Martha asked.

“It's all right, it's all right. Just stay calm. Don't antagonize them,” the Doctor hissed at them all.

“But what of the Dalek masters?” Lazlo asked.

At that moment, the stage exploded and two Daleks rolled out, with Dalec Sec chained up, crawling before them. “The Doctor will stand before the Daleks,” One of them commanded.

“Everyone, look, I’ve got a plan,” the Doctor whispered to the others as they crouched behind the theater seats. “I know what I’m doing, so just stay down and trust me. Please.”

Then he stood up and walked along the top of the theater seats. “You will die, Doctor. It is the beginning of a new age,” the Dalek said.

Another Dalek added, “Planet Earth will become New Skaro.”

“Oh, and what a world. With anything just the slightest bit different ground into the dirt. That's Dalek Sec. Don't you remember? The cleverest Dalek ever and look what you've done to him. Is that your new Empire, hmm? Is that the foundation for a whole new
civilization?” the Doctor asked.

“My Daleks, just understand this. If you choose death and destruction, then death and destruction will choose you,” Dalek Sec said.

“Incorrect,” the new leader of the Daleks said. “We will always survive.”

The others said, “Now we will destroy our greatest enemy, the Doctor.”

“But he can help you,” Sec pleaded.

“The Doctor must die,” the leader repeated.

“No, I beg you, don’t,” Sec insisted.

“Exterminate,” the leader declared before firing. But at the last second, Dalek Sec stood up and received the full blast, saving the Doctor.

“Your own leader. The only creature who might have led you out of the darkness and you destroyed him. Do you see what they did? Huh? You see what a Dalek really is?” the Doctor declared, facing the new human Daleks. Then, turning back to the full Daleks, he added, “If I'm going to die, let's give the new boys a shot. What do you think, eh? The Dalek humans. Their first blood. Go on, baptize them.”

“Dalek humans, take aim,” the Dalek declared, and all of the human Daleks raised their weapons.

“What are you waiting for?” The Doctor yelled. “Give the command!”

“Exterminate!” The Dalek ordered.

The Doctor flinched, but nothing happened. The other Dalek ordered, “Exterminate.”

When again, nothing happened, the leader declared, “Obey. Dalek humans will obey.”

Martha whispered, “They’re not firing. What have you done?”

“Shh,” Rose whispered, knowing exactly what he had done.

“You will obey. Exterminate,” the Dalek ordered again.

“Why?” One of the humans asked.

“Daleks do not question orders,” the second Dalek insisted.

“But why?” The human asked again.

“You must not question,” the Dalek insisted.

“But you are not our master. And we, we are not Daleks,” the human replied.

“No, you're not. And you never will be. Sorry, I got in the way of the lightning strike. Time Lord DNA got all mixed up. Just that little bit of freedom,” the Doctor said, turning around and winking at Rose, who, despite the fact that they were still facing the Daleks, grinned that grin that the Doctor loved. The one where her tongue just peeked out from between her teeth.

“If they will not obey, then they must die,” the Dalek declared, firing at the human Dalek that had been questioning the orders.

“Get down!” The Doctor yelled. The next few seconds were a flurry of energy beams as the hybrids and the Daleks fired on each other. But then, it was over. The two Daleks in the theater were destroyed, and a few of the hybrids were left standing. “It's all right,
it's all right, it's all right. You did it. You're free,” the Doctor said to the hybrids.

Then, a high pitched noise echoed through the theater, and all of the hybrids dropped dead. “No! They can't! They can't! They can't! They can't!”

“What happened?” Martha asked. “What was that?”

“They killed them. Rather than let them live. An entire species. Genocide,” the Doctor said through bared teeth. Rose laid a hand on his arm, fully aware of what he was thinking.

“Only two of the Daleks have been destroyed. One of the Dalek masters must still be alive,” Lazlo called over to them.

“Oh yes. In the whole universe. Just one,” the Doctor grimaced. The he turned on his heel and made his way to the Dalek laboratory.

When he arrived, he stared down the last Dalek. “Now what?” he asked.

“You will be exterminated,” the Dalek declared.

“Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah. Just think about it, Dalek, what was your name?” the Doctor asked.

“Dalek Caan,” it replied.

“Dalek Caan. Your entire species has been wiped out. And now the Cult of Skaro has been eradicated, leaving only you. Right now you're facing the only man in the universe who might show you some compassion. Because I've just seen one genocide. I won't
cause another. Caan, let me help you. What do you say?” the Doctor said.

“Emergency temporal shift!” Caan declared as he faded out.

Martha, Tallulah, and Rose came in right as this occurred, carrying Lazlo between the three of them. “Doctor! Doctor! He's sick,” Martha explained. “It's okay. You're all right. It's his heart. It's racing like mad. I've never seen anything like it.”

“What is it, Doctor? What's the matter with him? He says he can't breathe? What is it?” Tallulah asked.

“It’s time, sweetheart,” Lazlo said, looking up at Tallulah.

“What do you mean, time? What are you talking about?” she asked.

“None of the slaves survive for long. Most of them only live for a few weeks. I was lucky. I held on because I had you. But now, I'm dying, Tallulah,” Lazlo explained.

“No, you're not. Not now, after all this. Doctor, can't you do something?” Tallulah begged, looking up at the Doctor.

“Oh, Tallulah with three Ls and an H, just you watch me. What do I need? Oh, I don't know. How about a great big genetic laboratory? Oh look, I've got one. Laszlo, just you hold on. There's been too many deaths today,” the Doctor declared, jumping up and beginning to work with some of the vials around the lab. “Way too many people have died. Brand new creatures and wise old men and age old enemies. And I'm telling you, I'm telling you right now, I am not having one more death! You got that? Not one. Tallulah, out of the way. The Doctor is in.”

**********************************************************************************************************************

Hours later, they all stood in Central Park. Frank walked back toward them. “Well, I talked to them, and I told them what Solomon would've said, and I reckon I shamed one or two of them,” he said.

“What did they say?” the Doctor asked.

Frank smiled, “They said yes. They'll give you a home, Laszlo. I mean, er, don't imagine people ain't going to stare. I can't promise you'll be at peace but, in the end, that is what Hooverville is for. People who ain't got nowhere else.”

“Thank you,” Lazlo said, shaking everyone’s hand. “I can’t thank you enough.”

As they walked back to the TARDIS, Martha asked, “Do you reckon it’s going to work, those two?”

“I don't know. Anywhere else in the universe, I might worry about them, but New York? That's what this city's good at. Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses, and maybe the odd pig slave Dalek mutant hybrid too,” the Doctor smiled.

“The pig and the showgirl,” Martha smiled.

“This pig and the showgirl,” the Doctor agreed.

“It just proves it, I suppose. There's someone for everyone,” Martha said.

Resisting the urge to glance at Rose, the Doctor said, “Maybe.”

“Meant to say, I’m sorry,” Martha said.

“What for?” the Doctor asked.

“Just because that Dalek got away. I know what that means to you. Think you'll ever see it again?”

“Oh, yes,” the Doctor replied. “One day.” With that, he strode into the TARDIS, leaving Martha and Rose to follow.

**********************************************************************************************************************

Hours later, after showering and trying to sleep, Rose made her way to the galley, only to find the Doctor sitting in there, tinkering with the toaster again. “I’ve already put the kettle on,” the Doctor said in way of greeting.

“Did you know I’d be up?” Rose asked.

“I had a feeling,” the Doctor replied.

She made them both a cup of tea and sat down across from him, sliding his over. “What’s this?” he asked.

“Mum always says—said a cup of tea’ll cure anything. I don’t know that that’s quite true, but it does help,” Rose replied.

“I’m fine,” he said.

Rose shook her head. “Doctor, how many times did you almost die today?”

“Doesn’t matter,” he replied. “I’m fine now.”

“But you can’t be doing that!” Rose exclaimed. “What were Martha and I supposed to do if you got killed by those Dalek hybrids?”

“I knew they wouldn’t kill me,” the Doctor replied. “You helped me figure that out.”

“But—”

“No, really Rose. I meant it when I said you were brilliant. I probably would have figured out on my own that I needed to interfere with the Final Experiment, but I figured out how far earlier because you reminded me of Utah,” the Doctor said.

“But Doctor, it’s more than just that. I know how you get around Daleks. I didn’t get it back in Utah, but now I do. It just fills me with this--this rage that Dalek Caan got away. I just know we’re gonna see him again,” Rose said.

The Doctor started to reach out a hand to reassure Rose, then he stopped. He couldn’t keep doing this. He needed to get control of himself. He had always tried to protect his companions, but not like this. With Rose, it wasn’t just that he felt obligated to keep her safe because he brought her into all this or he liked the company. With Rose, he needed to keep her safe. If he didn’t he wasn’t sure that he could go on. Lately, his nightmares had turned from the Time War to losing Rose. That was dangerous, he decided. So that was why he stood up. “I need to go get a part for this,” he said, gesturing to the toaster. “It might be a while before I find it, so I’ll see you tomorrow. Go ahead and sleep in. I’ll take Martha home and tell her you weren’t feeling well or something.”

Before she could reply, he left the room. He stalked past the galley a few times, waiting for her to finally give up and go to bed. When she did, he went back in and sat down. The TARDIS had kept his tea warm. “Thank you old girl,” he said, looking up in surprise. She flashed her lights gently. As much as she hated the way the Doctor was pushing Rose away, she knew how bad today had been for him. She could punish him for being an idiot later. Though, being an entity of time, she knew that it wouldn’t be long before the consequences of his actions caught up to him.

Chapter Text

The Doctor had meant to take Martha home and leave her there—honestly. It was just that he got so caught up in the idea of “changing what it meant to be human.” And then Martha was brilliant as always. Maybe it also had something to do with the fact that Martha’s mum reminded him a bit of Jackie, and though he would never actually admit it, he missed her too. And maybe, just maybe, it had something to do with the fact that the Doctor couldn’t quite trust himself to be alone with Rose.

So that was how he ended up standing in the console room, still wearing the tuxedo of doom, handing Martha her very own TARDIS key.

**********************************************************************************************************************

Rose knew it was a bit rude not to say goodbye to Martha, but the two of them hadn’t really gotten along anyway, so she didn’t think Martha really wanted to see her. So, when Rose woke up to the sound of the TARDIS dematerializing, she bolted to the console room to see the Doctor. It had only been a few days, but it still felt like it had been so long since it had just been the two of them, and she missed that. She missed the late nights in the media room, watching some futuristic soap opera. She missed cuddling in the library while he read Dickens aloud to her. She even missed the way he came barging up to her door, far too early in the morning, because he was ready for an adventure.

Rose was not prepared for what she saw from the doorway. Martha was standing in the console room, and the Doctor was holding out a key to her. “Well, you were never really just a passenger, were you?” the Doctor asked her.

Martha flung her arms around his neck and exclaimed, “Oh, thank you, thank you!”

The Doctor picked her up in a hug and swung her around. Unable to watch any longer, Rose turned on her heel and ran down the hall, trying to hold back the tears prickling her eyes until she was safe and sound in her room.

The TARDIS was ready for Rose when she threw open the door in a rush. Next to her bed was a steaming mug of tea, and some of Rose’s favorite chocolates from the Allurian galaxy. Charles Dicken’s ‘A Christmas Carol’ was also there, and when Rose picked it up, she noted it was the same copy the Doctor had been reading to her before Canary Wharf.

“Thank you, Old Girl,” Rose said, looking up at the ceiling. “If he doesn’t want to read it to me, I guess I should just finish it myself.” Rose knew it was a bit vindictive. After his regeneration, the Doctor had been a bit unsure of whether or not Rose really knew he was the same man. Then, one evening she had picked up ‘A Tale of Two Cities’ and asked him to read it to her. After that, he knew that she was able to reconcile both versions of him. So, from that point on, after a stressful day, they would both go to the library and cuddle up on the couch, and the Doctor would read Dickens to her until she fell asleep. Neither of them ever continued without the other because it was their thing, and it just felt wrong.

But, Rose told herself, she had also thought the TARDIS was their home. But if he had really seen it as their home, he would have at least asked before giving someone else a key. So, Rose picked up the book and started where they had left off.

**********************************************************************************************************************

Once Martha had left to go to bed, the Doctor went looking for Rose. He dreaded it, but he knew that he needed to tell her that Martha was sticking around a bit longer. He had already surprised her with Martha once, and it wouldn’t do to surprise her again.

When the Doctor arrived at what should be Rose’s door, he only found a blank expanse of wall. “What’s with this then?” the Doctor asked. “She should be up by now. She’s had at least nine hours of sleep.”

When the door didn’t appear, and the TARDIS didn’t respond, he grumbled, “Fine, then. I’ll go find her myself.”

The TARDIS flashed her lights red for a moment, warning him not to, but the Doctor didn’t listen. He made his way to the galley, hoping she would be there, eating breakfast. She wasn’t, so he made his way to the media room, thinking that she was maybe
there. After that he tried the library. She wasn’t there either. But, he decided that coming to the library had still been a good idea. He’d take Rose a peace offering. He walked around the couch to the end table where ‘A Christmas Carol’ should have been, but it was missing. He put his hand on the wall and looked up. “What are you playing at, Old Girl?”

Her response was to shock him. “Ow,” he whined, shaking out his hand. “Why won’t you let me find Rose, and what did you do with my book?”

She flashed her lights red again. “Ok, ok, I get it. Just, let me know when I can see her, alright?” he sighed, making his way back to the console room to do some tinkering.

**********************************************************************************************************************

It had now been three days since she had seen the Doctor. The TARDIS was doing a lovely job of keeping her hidden from either of the other inhabitants. She knew it might be petty, but the Doctor had invited Martha to stay for an indefinite amount of time
without even asking what her opinion. No, Rose thought bitterly, he had already known what she wanted, and he completely disregarded it.

Even though she still wasn’t ready to see the Doctor, Rose was starting to go a bit stir crazy, locked up in her room. “Can I go somewhere?” Rose asked the TARDIS.

The lights flashed in agreement. “Thank you, love,” Rose replied, getting up. She made her way to the galley to make herself a meal. The TARDIS had been lovely, giving her tea and food and whatever else she wanted, but Rose needed to do something for
herself. Once she had eaten, she made her way to the library. She had finished ‘A Christmas Carol’ two days ago, and then the TARDIS had given her an anthology of Jane Austen works. She had never been much of a reader, but she had finished the whole
collection that morning, and it was time for something else. Rose found all of the readings she had loathed in school far more interesting now, after spending so much time seeing history with the Doctor.

As she went to leave the library, this time with the complete works of Shakespeare tucked under her arm, she heard voices in the hall.

“Those were brilliant,” Martha exclaimed.

“I told you, best chips in the galaxy,” the Doctor laughed.

“I don’t even normally care for chips,” Martha replied. “Can take them or leave them usually. But I’ll be dreaming of those for weeks.”

Rose drowned out the rest of the conversation, waiting until the coast was clear. The Doctor knew how much she loved chips, and he had still gone without her. A part of her said that it was her own fault, hiding out in her room, but still, he should have waited
till she came out. The TARDIS gave Rose the distinct impression that she had told him that, but that he had insisted on going there anyway. “Thanks, Old Girl,” Rose grumbled. “At least someone in this universe cares about me.”

**********************************************************************************************************************

It had been days since the Doctor had seen Rose, and he was going mad. The TARDIS assured him that she was fine, but he needed to see her for himself. He couldn’t understand why she was staying locked up in her room, and the TARDIS wouldn’t give him any hints. And after the first day, he had learned not to go looking for her. The TARDIS had made that very clear.

So, he decided his best plan was to coax her out of hiding. And the best way he knew to do that was with chips. He had made a point of telling Martha very loudly that they were going to Kartoffel 9, knowing how much Rose loved those chips. But when they had landed, and she still didn’t appear, he had to make it seem like this was just a casual trip. For Martha.

She had been asking about Rose, and he just played it off, trying to make it sound like this sort of thing happened all the time with Rose. Martha didn’t need to know that the Doctor was going absolutely spare.

**********************************************************************************************************************

“Rose, you really should try talking to him,” Sarah Jane said over the phone.

“I know,” Rose grumbled. “But I doubt he’ll listen. He gave her a key, Sarah Jane. Knowing full well that I didn’t want to travel with her.”

“I know,” Sarah Jane replied. “But if there’s anyone that can talk sense into him, it’s you.”

“He’s been weird,” Rose sighed. “Ever since Canary Wharf.”

“That’s a given, dear,” Sarah Jane laughed. “He’s the Doctor.”

Rose couldn’t help smiling at that. “I know, but weird for him. Sometimes, he’ll pull me into a hug and I think he’ll never let go, and then he’ll go days without so much as looking at me.”

“Why do you think that is?” Sarah Jane asked.

“I don’t know. There’s a part of me that wonders if I made the right choice,” Rose confided.

“Made the right choice?” Sarah Jane asked. “Do you wish you had gone to the parallel universe?”

“No,” Rose replied. “But I wonder if he wishes I did. What if he’s gotten tired of me, but now just feels too guilty to drop me off at home. I don’t have a life anymore, so he can’t just put me back like he usually does.”

“Do you want my honest opinion?” Sarah Jane asked.

“Yes,” Rose groaned, flopping backwards on her bed. “I just need to know what I should do. It’s been two weeks I’ve been hiding out in this room, and he hasn’t even come looking for me.”

“I think he’s terrified,” Sarah Jane replied. “He doesn’t like responsibility.”

“You’re mad,” Rose replied. “He takes responsibility for taking care of the whole bloody universe.”

“Yeah, but he never stays for the clean-up,” Sarah Jane replied. “He doesn’t like that kind of responsibility. In the quiet. And now he feels responsible for you.”

“I’m a big girl,” Rose replied. “I’m responsible for myself.”

“Oh, I know that. But he thinks the whole universe revolves around him, and now he thinks he’s all you’ve got. He’s wrong, of course, but he thinks it,” she replied.

“He’s wrong?” Rose asked, hopefully.

“Course he is,” Sarah Jane replied. “You’ve got me.”

“Yeah?” Rose asked.

“It’s been ages since I’ve really had someone that knows what it’s like to travel with him. You’re stuck with me know,” Sarah Jane replied.

“Thank you,” Rose said.

“Of course. Having you around means that if I ever actually need the help, you can bring the Doctor ‘round,” Sarah Jane laughed.

“Ah, I see. I’m just a messenger here,” Rose said, laughing and smiling her first real smile in weeks.

When both women had stopped laughing, Sarah Jane said, “Go talk to him. Hiding out in your room won’t solve anything.”

“I will,” Rose agreed. “Just as soon as he and Martha get back. They just went out.”

“Good,” Sarah Jane said. In the background, Rose could hear something, and Sarah Jane moved the phone from her face to reply. When she was done, she picked the phone back up. “Listen, Rose, I’ve got to go.”

“That’s fine,” Rose replied. “Tell Mr. Smith and K-9 hello from me.”

“Will do,” Sarah Jane laughed. “Bye, Rose.”

“Bye Sarah Jane.”

Rose threw down her mobile and went out to the galley. She decided to watch an episode of her favorite 23rd century programme while they were out, and she’d need some popcorn.

**********************************************************************************************************************

“So the TARDIS is just stuck in there?” Martha asked.

“Apparently,” the Doctor grumbled. “She’ll be fine as long as we don’t crash into the sun. The Old Girl is much tougher than she looks.”

“There’s no way to get her out?” Martha asked.

“Not without getting the temperature down low enough that I can get in there and pilot her out,” the Doctor sighed.

“But what about Rose?” Martha exclaimed. “She’s still in there. Can she pilot her?”

“No no no no no,” the Doctor replied, panicking slightly, his mind flashing back to the only time Rose had ever flown the TARDIS. “She doesn’t know how.”

“Could you talk her through it though?” Martha asked.

“Talk her through it?” The Doctor asked. He rubbed a hand across the back of his neck. “Well, I suppose it might be possible…” he mused, trying to determine the probability of flying the TARDIS unlocking those Bad Wolf memories that he had so tightly tucked
away in her mind.

“Great,” Martha said, pulling out her mobile and phoning Rose. When she didn’t answer, Martha tried again, but still, she got no response.

“Nothing?” the Doctor asked.

“No,” Martha grumbled.

“Suppose we’re on our own then!” the Doctor said, clapping his hands and jumping up. Secretly, he was a bit relieved. The TARDIS had probably redirected the calls in time just a bit so that Rose wouldn’t answer. The Old Girl didn’t want Rose burning up with the Bad Wolf memories any more than he did. Even if she was driving him mad with worry, at least she was still taking care of Rose. And that, the Doctor decided, was what was most important.

**********************************************************************************************************************

Her show had just ended when she heard the TARDIS doors open. The TARDIS told her to just leave the bowl of popcorn and head to the console room. Martha and the Doctor both looked exhausted. Rose immediately knew it hadn’t been a fun, lighthearted
adventure then. She almost went back to her room, thinking she would try again when they were in a better mood, but Sarah Jane’s advice rang in her ears. Hiding out wouldn’t solve anything. So, she took a deep breath and stepped into the console room.

Martha noticed her first. “Fat lot of good you are,” Martha grumbled.

“Oh, Rose,” the Doctor said, barely glancing up at her.

It had been two weeks since her, and that was all the reaction she got? Maybe Sarah Jane was wrong, Rose couldn’t help thinking. But all she said was, “What do you mean by that?”

“Tried phoning you, but you didn’t pick up,” Martha grumbled.

“Sorry,” Rose replied. “I don’t carry my mobile around in the TARDIS.”

“Well, we could have used some help. And what if someone calls you while you’re on here? Just gonna ignore it?” Martha asked.

“Well,” Rose snapped back. “There aren’t really all that many people planning on calling me. Seeing as I am legally dead in this universe without really any friends or family.” That shut Martha up, but Rose was no longer in the mood to talk things out. “I’ll see
you in the morning,” she grumbled, storming back to her room.

Chapter Text

The Doctor, Rose, and Martha sprinted into the TARDIS. “Get down!” The Doctor yelled, right as a green energy beam flew over their head and hit the console. The Doctor slammed the door shut, then turned to the girls. “Did they see you?”

Martha and Rose both glanced at each other. “I don’t know,” they responded in unison.

“But did they see you?” he asked again, this time more forcefully.

“I don’t know, we were too busy running,” Martha replied.

“No, this is important. Did they see your faces?” the Doctor yelled.

“No,” Martha replied. “They couldn’t have.”

“Yeah,” Rose agreed. “We never looked back.”

“Ok, off we go!” the Doctor declared, throwing the dematerialization lever. After a moment though, there was a loud beeping from the scanner. “Argh! They’re following us.”

“How can they do that?” Martha asked. “You’ve got a time machine.”

“Stolen technology. They've got a Time Agent's vortex manipulator. They can follow us wherever we go, right across the universe. They're never going to stop, unless...” The Doctor paused before turning to the girls. “I'll have to do it. You both trust me, don’t you?”

“Of course,” they replied in unison.

“Because it all depends on you,” he said, glancing between them.

“What does? What are we supposed to do?” Martha asked.

“Just tell us what you need,” Rose added.

He reached under the console and pulled out a pocket watch, handing it to Rose. “Take this watch, because my life depends on it. This watch is me,” he said.

“What are you talking about Doctor?” Rose asked, holding it gently.

“Those creatures are hunters. They can sniff out anyone, and me being a Time Lord, well, I'm unique. They can track me down across the whole of time and space,” the Doctor explained.

“Huh,” Martha replied. “And the good news is?”

“They can smell me, they haven't seen me. And their life span'll be running out, so we hide. Wait for them to die,” he explained.

“But they can track us,” Rose said.

“That's why I've got to do it. I have to stop being a Time Lord. I'm going to become human,” the Doctor said as a headset descended from the ceiling of the TARDIS. “Never thought I'd use this. All the times I've wondered.”

“What does it do?” Martha asked.

“Chameleon Arch. Rewrites my biology. Literally changes every single cell in my body. I've set it to human,” the Doctor explained.

“Is it like regeneration?” Rose asked.

“No,” the Doctor said. “I’ll still look like me. I’ll just be human, with one heart and a human brain.”

Rose nodded, and the Doctor continued. “Now, the Tardis will take care of everything. Invent a life story for me, find me a setting and integrate me. I’m not sure if she’ll be able to do the same for you. It takes a pretty powerful connection for her to be able to get inside your head and do that.”

Rose nodded, though she had a feeling her connection with the TARDIS would be strong enough. Given her Bad Wolf memories, she knew it might even be stronger than the Doctor’s.

“But, hold on. If you're going to rewrite every single cell, isn't it going to hurt?” Martha asked.

“Oh, yeah, it hurts,” the Doctor said. “You two, go to the TARDIS storeroom. She’ll prepare some bags with everything you’ll need, and she’ll have outfits for you that will fit in with when we land. I’m going to make a video with some instructions for you both. You can come back here if there’s something you’re not sure about. Hopefully I’ll have thought of it,” the Doctor explained.

Rose and Martha ran off to do what the Doctor said. They each found a dress waiting for them. “Looks like we’re going back to the beginning of the 20th century,” Rose grumbled as she put on the long black skirt and white blouse with a huge black bow around the neck.

“Oh that’s just brilliant for me,” Martha grumbled. “How long do we have to deal with this then?”

“Hopefully not long,” Rose sighed.

When they were dressed, they noticed three packed bags sitting in the middle of the room. Rose opened one of the bags and found a letter offering a teaching position to a Mister John Smith. “Looks like this is the Doctor’s bag.” She opened the next to find a letter offering the position of librarian to a Miss Marion Wolf. “I think this one is mine.”

“How do you know?” Martha asked. “There isn’t anything in this one to say whose it is.”

“I think it’s like the Doctor said,” Rose shrugged. “You’ve got to have a pretty deep connection with the TARDIS. And I’ve been on board over three years, and I’ve done… well a lot with the Old Girl. You’ve only been with us a few weeks. Maybe she can’t.”

“How do you know that’s yours though?” Martha asked. “Are you even qualified to be a librarian?”

“It’s 1913,” Rose said. “What even are the qualifications of a librarian? And anyway, I know it’s me because Marion is my middle name, and Wolf is a bit of an inside joke between me and the TARDIS.”

Before Martha could reply, the girls heard a curdling scream. Picking up the bags, they all took off toward the console room. The Doctor had collapsed on the floor and was lying unconscious. The TARDIS told Rose to grab the watch, then started the video the Doctor had made. Rose and Martha did their best to listen to all of the instructions the Doctor had given them, but they didn’t have time to linger and make sure because the TARDIS started to flash her lights, indicating that they had five minutes before John Smith woke up, and they needed to get him away from the TARDIS first.

Dragging him and the three bags between them, the girls got the Doctor just out of sight of the TARDIS and onto a simple country path just as he started to stir. “Hello?” he asked, clutching his head.

“Are you alright sir?” Rose asked. “We were just walking when we came across you lying there.”

John stood up and dusted himself off. “Yes, I’m quite alright. Thank you. I don’t know what came over me. My name is John Smith. I’m to be the new school teacher in Farringham.”

“What a coincidence!” Rose laughed. “I’m to be the new librarian.”

“And your name?” John asked, holding out a hand.

“Marion Smith,” she replied, holding out her hand for him to kiss. “And this is my friend Martha Jones.”

“Friend?” John asked.

“Ladies’ maid,” Rose replied. “But Martha and I have known each other so long, I hardly make the distinction anymore.”

Rose could see Martha glaring at her, but it was the best she could come up with on a moment’s notice. The Doctor might be oblivious to all of the outdated social oppressions in the past, but Rose knew that Martha would have to deal with them for the next three months. She would do her best to help, but there was only so much she could do.

“Well,” John said. “Since it seems we are all heading to the school, would you allow me to escort you?”

“You may,” Rose smiled, picking up her bag.

**********************************************************************************************************************

“You there, what’s your name again?” Hutchinson, one of the students, asked Martha.

“Martha, Martha Jones,” she replied.

“Tell me then, Jones. With hands like those, how can you tell when something’s clean?” he jeered.

He turned to continue on, only to be faced down by Rose. “Hutchinson! That is no way to behave,” Rose said.

“Miss Wolf,” Hutchinson said. “She’s just a maid, and anyway, she’s a—”

“Martha is a human being, and therefore deserving of basic respect,” Rose snapped. “Now, you will apologize, and you will report to the library for your free period today. You can think about your behavior while helping me catalogue and shelve books.”

“Really Miss Wolf,” he started.

“The matter is settled. Unless you would like me to speak with some of your other professors?” Rose said.

“No ma’am,” Hutchinson replied.

“Very good,” Rose smiled. “Now, about that apology…”

“Jones, it was rude of me to say that to you. Please forgive me,” he said through gritted teeth.

Martha glanced up at Rose and then back to Baines. “All is forgiven sir,” she replied in an equally fake manner.

Hutchinson looked at Rose for permission to move on, and she nodded. Then, she turned to Martha, who was down on her knees scrubbing the floor with the other housemaid, Jenny. “I’m so sorry about that Martha.”

“You didn’t have to do that,” Martha snapped.

“If I didn’t, who would?” Rose asked. “You’d be thrown out immediately for rebuking a student, and don’t think that any of the professors would do it.”

“Mister Smith might,” Martha said. It had been two months, but she was still trying to see the Doctor in him.

“He might if he could get his head out of the clouds,” Jenny laughed.

Rose chuckled too. “I think you’re right about that Jenny. But I need to be going now. Just remember that if any of those boys give you any trouble, let me know and I’ll sort them out.”

Rose moved on and Jenny leaned over to Martha and said, “She’s a strange one, isn’t she? Two months and I still get surprised by those notions she gets.”

“She doesn’t need to be defending me all the time,” Martha grumbled.

“You almost sound like you’re complaining!” Jenny exclaimed.

“It’s just like she doesn’t think I can take care of myself,” Martha sighed.

“You’re lucky is what it is. I wish I had someone looking out for me. Miss Wolf is a proper lady, and she tries to get everyone to treat you like one too,” Jenny said.

“I’m not a child,” Martha grumbled. Before anyone could say anything else, Mister Smith walked by and Martha froze.

“Morning sir,” Martha said breathlessly.

“Yes, hi,” he replied distantly, hardly registering her words.

“Head in the clouds, that one. Don’t know why you’re so sweet on,” Jenny sighed.

“He’s just kind to me, that’s all. Not everyone’s that considerate,” Martha replied.

“Well, it’s cause he’s so sweet on Miss Wolf. Only got eyes for her,” Jenny said.

“Maybe,” Martha grumbled.

Acting as though she hadn’t heard Martha, Jenny continued, “Though, I heard Matron Redfern is going to see if he’ll take her to the dance. Since Miss Wolf isn’t exactly encouraging him.”

“Matron Redfern?” Martha asked.

“She’s been widowed five years,” Jenny shrugged. “And he wouldn’t be a terrible husband, even if he does spend all his time with his head up in the clouds…”

**********************************************************************************************************************

John Smith was making his way to the library. He didn’t particularly need to go there, he had more than enough books in his study, but he always managed to find an excuse to go down there and talk to Miss Wolf. Though she always seemed to look through him, as though searching for someone that wasn’t there. Today, he hadn’t been able to think of a single excuse to go see her, but he had gathered up the courage to show her his Journal of Impossible Things. She appeared in it often enough that he was still a bit embarrassed, but he thought it might make her smile.

He very much wanted to see her smile the way the girl with her face, Rose, did in his dreams. He had yet to see Miss Wolf smile like that, with her tongue between her teeth. She just seemed so happy in most of his dreams, and John could only hope to someday make Marion Wolf half as happy.

Before he could reach the library, though, he ran into Matron Redfern. She had been very kind to him since he had arrived, but she just wasn’t Miss Wolf.

“Mister Smith,” she smiled. “Good morning.”

“Good morning Matron,” he said, unhappy at the interruption.

Oblivious to the fact that she was interrupting his plans, she continued, “Truth be told, when it's just you and me, I'd much rather you call me Nurse Redfern. Matron sounds rather well, matronly.”

“Ah, Nurse Redfern it is then,” he smiled, meaning to continue on to the library.

“Though we've known each other all of two months, you could even say Joan,” she smiled at him.

“Joan?” he asked, suddenly feeling anxious about where the conversation was headed.

“That’s my name,” she replied with a smile.

“Well, obviously,” John replied, scratching the back of his neck out of nervousness.

“And it’s John, isn’t it?” Joan asked.

“Yes, yes, it is,” he replied, trying to figure out how to escape to the library.

Before he could make his excuses, she pointed to a noticeboard in hall, “Have you seen this, John? The annual dance at the village hall tomorrow. It's nothing formal, but rather fun by all accounts. Do you think you'll go?”

Without thinking, he blurted out, “Yes, I was thinking of asking Miss Wolf.”

“Asking Miss Wolf what, Mister Smith?” the woman in question asked, rounding the corner.

“Asking you if you would like to accompany me to the annual dance,” he stammered out, suddenly realizing that he was now moving far faster than he had intended to.

Rose was about to make up some excuse as to why she couldn’t go. This man wasn’t the Doctor. The video message the Doctor had left them had been clear on that. This John Smith could make all sorts of decisions the Doctor might end up regretting, like eating a pear—or asking Rose on a date. She didn’t want him to be uncomfortable when he woke up again, so she had been casually declining all of his advances so far. But Rose would later blame the look on Matron Redfern’s face for what she said next. “Why, Mister Smith! I had no idea. I would love to attend the dance with you tomorrow night.”

“Really?” he asked, grinning from ear to ear.

“Really,” she replied, smiling at him, then Joan, then back at him. She might not be able to have a relationship with John Smith, but at least when all of this was over, she would still have the Doctor. The same couldn’t be said for Nurse Redfern. Rose tried to tell herself that it was concern for the woman’s feelings that was motivating this, not jealousy.

“Well, I should be on my way,” Joan said, clearing her throat. “Jenkins came in this morning with a cold, and I ought to get back to him.”

“Oh!” Rose exclaimed. “That reminds me what I was doing out here in the hall in the first place.” She pulled a copy of Oliver Twist out of her apron pocket. “Jenkins was telling me that he used to read this with his mother when he was a child. I suspect it’s homesickness more than anything with him, and I thought this might help.”

“Thank you, Miss Wolf, but I believe I can diagnose my own patients,” she snapped. But she did take the book with her as she left.

“That was a bit rude,” John remarked as he and Rose began to walk down the hall back toward the library.

“Oh, it’s alright Mister Smith, I imagine I’d react the same way if she tried to tell me how to organize my library,” she smiled.

“Please, Miss Wolf. Call me John,” he said as they reached the library.

“Alright, John,” she replied, the word sounding all wrong. “Then you must call me Marion.”

“Alright, Marion,” he said, his face breaking into a wide grin.

“Well,” she said as they stood in front of the library. “Unless you need a book, this is me.”

“Actually,” John said before he could talk himself out of it, “I have a book for you.”

“You do?” Rose asked, puzzled.

“Yes, well, erm…” He struggled to find the right words. “I’ve been having these dreams, you see. Fantastic dreams. That I’m this adventurer, who calls himself the Doctor.”

“The Doctor?” Rose asked, wondering what it could mean that he was remembering the Doctor.

“Yes. He’s a sort of daredevil. A traveler. But the strangest part is that he isn’t human. He has two hearts and travels the stars in a blue box. I’ve written some of these dreams down. As a sort of fiction. If you would be interested?” He asked hesitantly.

“Yes,” Rose replied immediately, needing to know how much he remembered. He handed her the book. “A Journal of Impossible Things.”

“Yes, that’s what I’ve been calling it. It’s mostly just short notes and pictures, but I thought you might find it interesting,” he said, scratching the back of his neck.

“I do,” she replied, moving over to sit in one of the armchairs by the fire in the library.

She flipped through, looking at Daleks and Autons and the clockwork droids from Paris. She stopped at a picture of herself. “Ah,” he said. “That’s another part of it. Sometimes the Doctor has companions, friends that he travels with. Her name is Rose. He cares about her a good deal. I also noticed that she looks a fair amount like you, Marion.”

“Yes,” Rose said, hurriedly flipping to another page. “She does.”

At that moment, Martha burst through the library door. “Ah, Martha!” Rose gasped, glad for the reprieve. She was a bit terrified of how much John remembered, and she needed to tell Martha.

“It’s hardly good form to barge into a room without knocking,” John reprimanded her absently.

“Oh, it’s alright. I had asked Martha to come help me with something anyway. This was a good reminder,” Rose said. “It was lovely talking to you, Mister Smith.”

“John,” he reminded her gently.

“Ah, yes, John,” Rose smiled.

“Good day, Marion,” he said, inclining his head toward her before leaving the library.

“What?” Martha asked. “John?”

“It’s a long story,” Rose grumbled. “Involving Matron Redfern. But that’s not what’s important right now.”

“Oh, it’s not?” Martha asked angrily.

“No, because look what he just showed me,” Rose said, handing the book to Martha. “He’s been remembering. He thinks they’re all dreams, but everything I’ve seen so far was true.”

“What should we do about it?” Martha asked, flicking through the book.

“I think we should go to the TARDIS tonight. Maybe the Old Girl can help us,” Rose shrugged.

“I’m supposed to go to the pub with Jenny,” Martha sighed.

“Go,” Rose said. “I can go to the TARDIS on my own. It’ll be fine.”

“He’s as much my responsibility as he is yours,” Martha argued.

“I know that,” Rose said. “We’re in this together, yeah? But this might be nothing, and I know that if I had plans, you would step in and help me out.”

“Okay,” Martha agreed halfheartedly. “But speaking of ‘helping…’ I can take care of myself you know.”

“Of course I know that,” Rose replied.

“Then stop stepping in any time someone says something rude to me! I’m a big girl, Rose,” Martha huffed.

“Yes, I know. But I also know if you tell anyone off, you’ll be fired. No discussion. I’ve got a little more freedom to do that. And someone needs to tell those boys off,” Rose said.

“And what do you think would happen if you weren’t here?” Martha snapped.

Rose shook her head, trying to get rid of the memories of her own dreams. Ever since they had gotten to Farringham, Rose had been having dreams. Half the time, they were almost reality, but not quite. Not quite because Martha and the Doctor were in Farringham without her. Of course, the other half of the dreams answered the question of where she was. In those dreams, she was trapped in Pete’s World without the Doctor. The worst dream was one where she was on that beach with her mother. In that dream, she told the Doctor how she felt, but he never said it back. She thought he was about to, but there was no way of knowing without hearing the end of that sentence.

“Rose?” Martha snapped.

“Hmm,” Rose said, coming back to herself.

“I asked what you think would have happened to me if you weren’t here to save the day?”

“I think you’d have been fine,” Rose snapped back. “I’m just trying to help.”

“Well, stop trying,” Martha snapped back, storming out of the room.

Rose sighed. Sometimes she thought this adventure would bring her and Martha closer. Especially considering the fact that they shared a room. Rose had insisted on that when they arrived at Farringham. Apparently, the librarian of a school couldn’t employ a lady’s maid. But, there was an open position for a maid. But Rose insisted that she and Martha were too close to be separated, so she would be most comfortable if an extra bed was brought in for Martha, so that she wouldn’t be stuck in the servant’s quarters on the other end of the school.

Martha had thrown a fit about that, but she quieted down pretty quickly after seeing the servant’s quarters where she would have been staying. The two of them had alternated between the bed and the cot for the past two months. Rose knew she wasn’t any better than Martha, and while she could have argued that she was just trying to blend in, not even Rose’s jealousy could make her take advantage of the fact that Martha was at a disadvantage just for being herself. So Rose had tried to use her privileges to make Martha’s life easier for the past three months, but even that annoyed Martha. Rose didn’t know how to make things any better. And she had a feeling things would only get worse between the two of them once the Doctor came back.

With a sigh, Rose sat back down in the armchair and decided to try to actually read the book the Doctor had given her, to see what exactly he remembered.

**********************************************************************************************************************

Even though the TARDIS was on low power mode, Rose still liked to sit in it. The humming in the back of her mind was faint, but it was still there. Rose had watched the Doctor’s video twice, trying to see if there was anything in it about his memories slipping through and him remembering, but there was nothing.

She picked up the pocket watch that was hanging from her skirt. “Fat lot of good that video of yours was,” she grumbled to it. “Didn’t give us anything for this situation.” The watch just sat dumbly in her palm.

She stood up from where she was situated on the jump seat and made to leave when the door was thrown wide open and Martha burst through the door. “Something’s wrong!” she yelled as she strode over to the console and turned on the monitor, beginning to watch the same video Rose had just watched.

“What is it?” Rose asked. “I’ve watched the whole thing through twice now, reckon I can tell you if he said anything useful, but I doubt it. That thing’s not very helpful…”

“There was a meteor, a shooting star. But I don’t think that’s what it was. I’m worried it’s them,” Martha said, turning to look at Rose. “It was green, and it fell to Earth. I saw it when Jenny and I were at the pub. We went to go look for it, but we couldn’t find anything.

“If it is, we have to open the watch. That’s all he said to do,” Rose replied.

“But what if that just attracts them?” Martha asked.

“Well, then we’ll have to wait and see if it really is them. But in the meantime, I’m not letting this out of my sight,” she said, holding up the watch. “We have to be ready at a moment’s notice.”

**********************************************************************************************************************

The next afternoon, Rose was out wandering the grounds when John caught up to her. “Good day, Miss—Marion,” he beamed.

“Good afternoon, John,” she said, smiling sadly.

“Is something the matter?” He asked, concerned.

Rose looked over to where John’s class was putting away their guns from the shooting range. “I don’t like guns,” she replied.

“Well, it’s quite a good thing you’d never be asked to carry one, then, isn’t it?” John smiled.

“I don’t like that anyone uses them,” Rose spit back.

“What about in times of war?” he asked.

“I can understand it, then,” she replied. “But I don’t like it. I prefer more peaceful methods of conflict resolution.”

“Well, Great Britain is at peace, long may it reign,” he replied.

“Of course,” Rose replied absently, knowing that just next year the Great War would begin. How many of those boys would be killed?

“Though I agree with you,” John replied. “I’m not a fan of the military discipline at this school. I’d do away with it if I could. Mankind doesn't need warfare and bloodshed to prove itself. Everyday life can provide honour and valour, and let's hope that from now on this, this country can find its heroes in smaller places. In the most ordinary of deeds.” At that moment, time seemed to slow down around Rose. She saw a woman pushing a baby in a pram and some workmen attempting to lift a piano through a window. Rose could see that the piano was about to fall, but there was nothing she could do. Right before the rope finally gave, John grabbed a cricket ball out of a young boy’s hand and tossed it at some scaffolding, which started a chain reaction that ended with a milk jug rolling in front of, and stopping, the pram right before it reached where the piano fell and shattered just moments later.

“Lucky,” he smiled, reaching his arm out to Rose.

“That was luck?” Rose asked, suddenly painfully reminded of the Doctor.

He shrugged. “Don’t know what else to call it. But are you looking forward to the dance this evening? I’ve got the moves, but I wouldn’t want to boast.”

“You’ve got the moves?” Rose asked, her mind flashing to a hospital storeroom about 30 years in the future. “Show me your moves.”

“I will do,” he replied. “Tonight, at the dance.”

Rose grinned, then mentally hit herself. The Doctor wasn’t in his right mind. She shouldn’t be flirting with him. For a few minutes, though, it had felt like old times. Before Martha, before Canary Wharf.

Her face must have shown her thought process because John turned to look at her. “Marion, are you alright?”

“Fine,” she replied. “Just a bit tired. I should probably get back if I want to rest before the dance tonight.”

**********************************************************************************************************************

“Are you really wearing that to the dance?” Martha grumbled as she sat on their bed, watching Rose try to affix the pocket watch to her nice dress.

“I’m not going to leave it,” Rose replied.

“Let me keep it,” Martha offered. “I’ll make sure it’s safe.”

Rose looked hesitantly at it, then sighed and handed it over. She knew Martha was right, and that she wouldn’t let
anything happen to the Doctor. “Just…be careful. I have a bad feeling about tonight.”

“I can keep track of a watch,” Martha snapped.

“It’s not just a watch, Martha. It’s him. It’s the Doctor,” Rose barked back.

Martha snatched the watch from Rose. “Enjoy your dance with Mister Smith,” she hissed, leaving the room.

Rose sighed and finished getting ready before walking to John’s study.

**********************************************************************************************************************

Martha stormed into the kitchen, looking for Jenny. The woman had been acting strangely all day. Jenny wasn’t there, however, so she set the watch on the counter and set about making a cup of tea. Latimer walked in, looking a bit dazed.

“Oh, hello there sir. Is there anything I can help you with?” Martha asked.

“No, no, thank you,” Tim replied.

Martha smiled and turned back to her tea. Tim was gone by the time her tea was ready, and she sat and enjoyed it. Then, Jenny walked in the room and sniffed. “Are you alright?” Martha asked.

“Just a cold coming on,” she replied stiffly. Immediately, Martha knew something strange was going on. She moved to grab the watch and go find Rose, only to find the watch missing.

“Jenny, have you seen Miss Wolf’s watch?” Martha asked.

“Miss Wolf?” Jenny asked, her head tilting oddly to the side.

“You know what?” Martha asked. “I think she took it with her. I’m supposed to clean it though, so I ought to go get it. I’ll see you later.”

Slowly, Martha backed out of the room, then took off running toward the village. She looked back just in time to see Jenny firing green energy beams out of some kind of gun. She turned back to run faster, only to run into Tim Latimer again. “Don’t go back there,” she barked at him as she continued on to the village.

She walked into the dance quickly. Rose was on John’s arm, but Martha didn’t care. “They’re here,” she panted. “They’ve, I don’t know, taken over Jenny. We’ve got to go.”

“Oh dear,” Rose said, disentangling her hand from John’s. “Where’s the watch?”

“I don’t know,” Martha replied.

“It’s barely been an hour!” Rose exclaimed.

“I was making a cup of tea. It was on the counter, then all of the sudden, it was gone,” Martha replied.

“It can’t have just disappeared,” Rose argued.

“Can’t it have like, moved, or something?” Martha asked.

“Moved? On its own? Martha, it’s a watch!” Rose snapped.

“Can’t it have some connection to the TARDIS?” Martha suggested. “Things move around on their own there all the time. Couldn’t it have just, appeared on the ship?’

Before Rose could reply, John interrupted. “Is everything alright, ladies?”

“Yes, it’s fine. Martha and I just need to deal with something,” Rose replied. “I’m so sorry, John, but we really have to—"

Before Rose could finish her sentence, Mister Clark barged into the room and screamed, “There. Will. Be. Silence! All of you!”

“Mister Clark, what’s going on?” Mr. Chambers asked.

In lieu of a response, Mr. Clark turned around and fired his weapon at him, vaporizing him instantly.

Rose turned to look at John and whispered, “If they say anything—anything at all about the Doctor, pretend you don’t know what they’re talking about.”

“But Marion, that’s just a story,” he argued.

“Don’t even tell them that,” Martha said.

Baines stepped forward, “We asked for silence! Now then, we have a few questions for Mister Smith.”

“And Miss Wolf,” Jenny added.

“We’re looking for the Doctor. Might you know where we could find him?” Baines asked.

“Doctor?” Rose asked. “Doctor Who?”

A little girl, Lucy, stepped forward. “I heard them talking. They know about the Doctor. And I think it’s him. Mister Smith.”

“You took human form?” Baines asked, curiously.

“Of course I'm human. I was born human, as were you, Baines. And Jenny, and you, Mister Clark. What is going on? This is madness,” John remarked.

“Oh, and a human brain, too. Simple, thick and dull,” Baines noted.

“But he’s no good like this,” Jenny whined.

“We need a Time Lord,” Clark added.

“Easily done,” Baines smiled, stepping forward and aiming his weapon at John. “Change back.”

“I don’t know what you’re talking about,” John yelled.

“Change back,” Baines repeated.

“I literally do not know—” John started, then Jenny reached forward and grabbed Rose, putting a gun to her head.

“She's your friend, isn't she? Doesn't this scare you enough to change back?” Jenny asked.

“I don’t know what you mean!” John yelled. “Just please, let her go!”

“Have you enjoyed it, Doctor, being human? Has it taught you wonderful things? Are you better, richer, wiser? Then let's see you answer this,” Baines taunted, still aiming his gun at John. “Her, or you? Your choice.”

Chapter Text

“Make your decision Mister Smith,” Jenny taunted, still holding tight to Rose.

“Perhaps, if the human heart breaks, the Time Lord will emerge,” Baines mused, turning to look at Jenny and Rose.

Hidden in the crowd, Tim Latimer pulled the pocket watch out and opened it quickly, a golden energy leaking out. The Family all sniffed and turned, hissing, “Time Lord,” in unison.

Rose took the opportunity to twist out of Jenny’s reach and gain control of the gun. She turned and pointed it at Baines. “Alright, one move and I shoot,” she yelled at them, and their heads all snapped back to her as the scent of the Time Lord vanished, along with Tim who had took off into the night.

“Oh, the librarian has such spirit,” Baines smiled.

“Oi! The librarian has a name, thank you,” Rose replied on instinct. “Martha, get everyone out, now.”

Realizing now was not the time to argue, Martha listened to Rose and ushered everyone out. The only person insisting on staying was John.

“Please, what is going on? This is madness, and it needs to stop,” he begged.

“Get out, John. I can handle this,” Rose replied.

“But Marion, you said only this morning how you hated guns,” John tried.

“I know, I do. But right now, I’m the only thing stopping these people from killing everyone in this village. Now go, I’m fine. Try to help the others, okay?” Rose said, looking back at John. When she did, Jenny twisted out of her grasp and moved back toward the rest of the Family. “What have you done to them? Jenny and Baines and Mr. Clark and Lucy?”

“They are consumed. Their bodies are ours,” Jenny replied.

“So they’re dead?” Rose asked. “You killed them?”

Jenny rolled her eyes. “I suppose that’s accurate, yes. They’re all dead.”

A scarecrow grabbed Rose from behind and got the gun, but she twisted out of its grasp and ran outside to where Martha was trying to get John to leave. “Oh, this is ridiculous,” Rose huffed, grabbing John’s hand and yelling, “Run!’

They took off toward the school, and as soon as they were through the doors, John grabbed a bell and started ringing it.

“What are you doing?” Martha asked.

“Like Marion said. There’s little stopping them from murdering everyone since they’ve gone mad. Maybe one man can't fight them, but this school teaches us to stand together. Take arms! Take arms!” He yelled as boys began pouring downstairs.

“You can’t do that!” Martha argued.

“They’re just children,” Rose exclaimed. “They don’t stand a chance.”

“They’re cadets, Marion. They’re trained for this. Far more so than you were tonight,” John argued.

“Hard as it might be to believe, I’m much more prepared to deal with this than they are,” she argued. “But Martha, we need to find the watch.”

“I was in the kitchen. The only people in there were Tim Latimer and Jenny. And Jenny doesn’t have it or they wouldn’t still be looking.”

“So Tim might know?” Rose asked.

“I guess,” Martha shrugged. “Don’t know why he’d have taken it though.”

“What in thunder's name is this? Before I devise an excellent and endless series of punishments for each and every one of you, could someone explain very simply and immediately exactly what is going on?” The Headmaster roared, barging into the room as the boys all began picking up guns.

“Headmaster, I have to report the school is under attack,” John replied.

“Really? Is that so? Perhaps you and I should have a word in private,” he hissed at John.

“No, I promise you, sir. I was in the village with Miss Wolf. It's Baines, sir. Jeremy Baines and Mister Clark from Oakham Farm. They've gone mad, sir. They've got guns. They've already murdered people in the village. I saw it happen,” John said.

“Miss Wolf, is that so?” the Headmaster asked.

“Yes, but this is madness. These boys don’t stand a chance,” Rose argued.

Ignoring her last comment, the Headmaster said, “Perhaps you did well then, Mister Smith. What makes you think the danger's coming here?”

“Well, sir, they’ve gone completely mad. Seem to think I’m something else, and they’re threatening to follow me anywhere. And they got into a bit of an altercation with Miss Wolf,” John sighed.

“Very well. You boys, remain on guard. Mister Snell, telephone for the police. Mister Philips, with me. We shall investigate,” the Headmaster said.

“No!” Martha yelled. “But it’s not safe out there!”

“Miss Wolf, do keep your favourite servant under control,” he snapped.

“Pardon me, sir, but no. She’s right,” Rose huffed, though he ignored her and charged out the door.

“We need to find that watch,” Rose said, turning to Martha. The two girls hurried out of the room quietly.

**********************************************************************************************************************

Rose and Martha ran out as Lucy came toward the Headmaster. “Mister Rocastle! Please, don't go near her!” Martha called.

“You were told to be quiet,” he yelled at Martha.

“Just listen to me, she’s a part of it,” Martha pleaded.

“She’s right, Mister Rocastle. She was there, with Baines, in the village,” Rose added. “You need to stay back.”

“Miss Wolf, I've seen many strange sights this night, but there is no cause on God's Earth that would allow me to see this child in the field of battle, ma’am. Come with me,” he said, directing the last bit at Lucy.

“You’re funny,” Lucy said blankly.

“That’s right, now take my hand,” he said to the little girl.

“So funny,” she repeated before pulling out a gun and vaporizing the Headmaster. “Now who's going to shoot me? Any of you, really?”

“Put down your guns,” John said.

“Sir, the Headmaster,” Hutchinson protested.

“I'll not see this happen. Not anymore. You will retreat in an orderly fashion back through the school. Hutchinson, lead the way,” John demanded.

“But sir,” Hutchinson tried again.

“I said, lead the way.”

Just then, Baines entered the courtyard where they all were and fired his gun straight into the air. “Well, go on, then. Run!”

As they all took off into the school, Rose heard Baines yell, “Reanimate.” It was shortly followed by the shuffling of straw, so she didn’t need to guess what it was that was happening.

They got all of the boys they could find out, then Rose, Martha, and John took off into the woods. They ran around the front of the school to where the family was calling for the Doctor. There was a blue wooden box sitting in front of the school.

“You recognize it, don’t you?” Rose asked John.

“I’ve never seen it in my life,” he whispered, unable to take his eyes off the box that had appeared so frequently in his dreams.

“Do you remember its name?” Martha asked.

“I'm not. I'm John Smith. That's all I want to be. John Smith, with his life, and his job, and his love. Why can't I be John Smith? Isn't he a good man?” he asked.

“He’s not real,” Rose whispered.

“What?” John asked.

“John Smith isn’t real,” Rose said, turning to him and taking his hand.

“Marion,” he whispered hoarsely.

“That’s not my name,” Rose said sadly. “But you do know my real name.”

“Rose,” he said, the word coming out like a prayer.

“Hello,” she smiled at him.

“But the Doctor can’t—” he protested.

“I know,” Rose said. “But we need the Doctor.”

“What am I, then? Nothing. I'm just a story,” John exclaimed before running off into the woods.

The girls followed after him until Rose stopped. “This way. I think I know somewhere we can hide,” Rose said.

“We’ve got to keep going,” John said, looking back pleadingly.

“Just listen to me for once, John. Now, follow me,” Rose said, and the three of them followed her to a little cottage.

“Oh, here we are,” Rose said. “Blimey, it’s been ages since I’ve run that much. Two months should not have been that hard on me.”

“Who lives here?” Martha asked.

“If I’m right?” Rose asked. “No one.” They walked in and Rose called out, “Hello?” When no one answered, she said, “No one home. We should be safe here.”

“Whose house is it, though?” Martha asked.

“Er, the Cartwrights. That little girl at the school, she's Lucy Cartwright, or I guess she's taken Lucy Cartwright's form. If she came home this afternoon and if her parents tried to stop their little girl, then they were vaporized,” Rose replied.

John was pacing the room anxiously. “I must go to them, before anyone else dies.”

“You can’t!” Martha exclaimed. “There must be something we can do.”

Rose shook her head. “Not without the watch.”

Almost on cue, there was a knock at the door. Martha went to open it, but John stopped her. “What if it’s them?”

“I'm not an expert, but I don't think scarecrows knock,” Martha said, opening the door to reveal Tim Latimer.

“I brought you this,” he replied, stepping in and handing the watch to Rose.

Rose took the watch gingerly and held it. Then she held it out to John. “Hold it.”

“I won’t,” he protested.

“Please, just hold it,” Rose begged.

“It told me to find you. It wants to be held,” Tim said. “It told me to take it and keep it safe until now. That you weren’t ready until now.”

“You’ve had the watch this whole time? You took it from the kitchen?’ Martha asked. He nodded. “Why didn’t you give it back earlier?”

“Because it was waiting. And because I was so scared of the Doctor,” Tim replied.

“Why?” John asked quietly.

“Because I've seen him. He's like fire and ice and rage. He's like the night and the storm in the heart of the sun,” Tim replied.

“Stop it,” John whispered.

“He's ancient and forever. He burns at the centre of time and he can see the turn of the universe,” Tim continued.

“Stop it! I said stop it,” John yelled.

“Please!” Martha said. “Just take it.”

Before he could protest anymore, something shook the cottage. They all ran to the window to see giant fireballs hit the village. “They’re destroying the village,” Martha said.

“The watch,” he said, taking it and starting for the door.

“Can you hear it?” Tim asked.

“I think he’s asleep, waiting to awaken,” John whispered.

“Why did he speak to me?” Tim asked.

“Oh, low level telepathic field. You were born with it. Just an extra synaptic engram causing—” he started, sounding just like the Doctor for a moment. Then, returning to the terrified voice of John he whispered, “is that how he talks?”

“Yes, that’s the Doctor,” Rose said, smiling.

“All you have to do is open it and he’s back,” Martha exclaimed.

He glanced between Rose and Martha, “You knew this all along and yet you let me, let us?”

“I tried, I really did,” Rose whispered. “But I didn’t know what else to do. I couldn’t let anything happen with Matron Redfern because she’ll be staying, when all is said and done. Your instructions didn’t have anything to do with this!”

“Falling in love? That didn’t even occur to him?” John asked.

Rose shook her head. “He’s an alien. He does all sorts of strange things. Doesn’t think like us stupid apes.”

“Then what sort of man is that? And now you expect me to die?” John asked.

“It was always going to end, though! The Doctor said the Family's got a limited lifespan, and that's why they need to consume a Time Lord. Otherwise, three months and they die. Like mayflies, he said,” Martha exclaimed.

“So your job was to execute me?” John asked.

“Our job was to take care of you, and bring the Doctor back when it was time,” Rose whispered. “But listen. People are dying out there. They need him, and I need him. I gave up everything for the Doctor. He’s practically all I have left. He means everything to me, and I know that I’m not that for him, can’t ever be, but I don’t care. He’s worth it,” Rose said.

Another explosion rocked the cottage and Tim said, “It’s getting closer.”

“I should have thought of it before. I can give them this. Just the watch. Then they can leave and I can stay as I am,” John said, holding up the watch.

“You can’t do that!” Martha yelled.

“If they want the Doctor they can have him,” John said. “And I can stay me, and we can be together, happy.”

“No, we couldn’t be,” Rose whispered, taking his hands. “John, you’re a good man, but you’re not the Doctor. And I love the Doctor.” Rose laughed a little breathlessly at that. “I love the Doctor. He’s it for me. And you just aren’t him. Sometimes little bits get through, but it’s like a poor copy. I couldn’t be truly happy with John Smith. And, if you were willing to give those monsters exactly what they want, and let them roam the cosmos killing everything in their path, then you would be nearly as bad. I couldn’t ever love someone who would willingly sacrifice the entire universe for a few years of selfish happiness.”

Rose knew that would eat away at him, but she had to say it. They needed the Doctor back. The Family had been right when they had guessed that if the human heart broke the Time Lord would emerge. John took a deep breath and put a hand on Rose’s cheek. “Alright. But, before I die, there’s something I need to say. Something he never can. Marion Wolf—or I suppose, Rose Tyler. I love you. With all of my heart.” He leaned forward and kissed her. Rose knew the moment he actually opened the watch because he stiffened and pulled back. Then, without looking at her, he walked out the door of the cottage.

Rose tried to keep it all in, but she couldn’t help the handful of tears that ran down her cheek.

**********************************************************************************************************************

Rose and Martha were already on the TARDIS, having collected all of their things from the school, when the Doctor got back. Rose tried to wait for him to return to the TARDIS, but the moment she heard him slip his key in the lock, she turned and ran to her room. She couldn’t do it. She couldn’t face him. Not yet. She had said everything she wanted to say to him, and he had said those words she so desperately wanted to hear. But she just kept telling herself it wasn’t really him.

She hoped he didn’t remember, not really. Or that, at least, he thought she was just willing to say anything to get him to change back. Maybe she could check in the morning. But not then. It was all too fresh. So when the Doctor came to check in on her that night, Rose rolled over and pretended to be asleep. Hoping everything would hurt less in the morning.

**********************************************************************************************************************

The Doctor walked into the TARDIS, still dressed as John Smith. Martha was about to say something to him when she noticed the look of uncontrolled rage on his face, and the fact that he was dragging the Family behind him. “Go to bed, Martha,” he ordered, and she decided the best course of action was to do as he said. She had never seen him like that before.

Once Martha was gone, the Doctor set about devising the punishments for each member of the family. He wrapped Mr. Clark in unbreakable chains, forged in the heart of a dwarf star. Jenny was tricked into the event horizon of a collapsing galaxy, where she was imprisoned forever. Lucy was trapped inside a mirror. Every mirror. And Baines was suspended in time and dressed as a scarecrow, to stand guard over the fields of England. They had wanted to live forever, so he made sure they did.

When it was all done, the Doctor sent the TARDIS into the Vortex and then collapsed on the jump seat. He remembered everything that John Smith had done—and said. Rose could never know that John Smith knew he was speaking both for himself and the Doctor. When John had said that he was going to say something the Doctor never could, John had had a strong enough connection to the watch to know that the feelings he had for Rose were left over from the Doctor’s consciousness. He was literally saying what the Doctor never could. Because the Doctor knew that if he ever said those words, then there was no chance that he would ever be able to survive losing Rose.

The Doctor rested his face in his hands and sighed. Knowing that he was being ridiculous, but that neither her Thief or her Wolf were ready to have that conversation yet, the TARDIS decided to give him a break, and dimmed the lights, letting him mourn what might have been in peace.

Chapter Text

They didn’t discuss it in the morning. As soon as Rose entered the console room, the Doctor was bouncing around, setting in coordinates.

“But where are we going?” Martha asked, having gotten up earlier than Rose.

“Picking up some weird signals around your time. Thought we ought to go check them out,” the Doctor said. Then he looked up and noticed Rose. “Ah, good, you’re up. Stuff to do! You humans waste all your time sleeping!”

The next few minutes all happened so fast that Rose couldn’t process them. One minute, she was in the yard of an abandoned house in 2007 London. The next, she was sitting in an alleyway in 1969.

She vaguely came to when someone else appeared next to her. “Rose? Are you alright?” the Doctor asked next to her.

“My head hurts,” she grumbled.

“Time travel without a capsule. Nasty. Catch your breath. Don’t go swimming for half an hour,” he laughed.

She turned to glare at him, and then Martha appeared next to him. He told her the same joke about not swimming and it wasn’t any funnier the second time around. “What happened?” Martha asked.

“We were touched by a Weeping Angel. The only psychopaths in the universe to kill you nicely. No mess, no fuss, they just zap you into the past and let you live to death. The rest of your life used up and blown away in the blink of an eye. You die in the past, and in the present they consume the energy of all the days you might have had. All your stolen moments. They're creatures of the abstract. They live off potential energy,” the Doctor explained.

“So what do we do?” Martha asked.

“I don’t know,” he replied. “The TARDIS is still in 2007, and we’re stuck here in 1969…” As soon as he said that, he started digging around in his pockets.

“What are you looking for?” Rose asked.

“Martha? Do you remember that woman we met? When we were trying to stop the red hatching?” the Doctor asked.

“The four things and the lizard?” Martha asked. “Vaguely, yeah.”

“She gave me,” he pulled a purple folder out of his pocket, “this. Said we were gonna get stuck in 1969. Honestly, I forgot all about it until right now.”

“That doesn’t answer the question of what we’re gonna do or how we get back to the TARDIS,” Martha grumbled.

“1969, you should be around here somewhere, shouldn’t you? At least soon?” Rose asked. “We could intercept a previous regeneration and ask him for a lift?”

“No no no no no. Absolutely not. I don’t get along well with myself,” the Doctor replied absently as he flipped through the folder. “Besides, we’re stuck in a time loop. This folder tells us everything we need to do. The woman that gave it to me, Sally Sparrow, she had lived through this. Now we have to make sure it does happen, so that it can happen to her, so that she can give this to me. Looks like we’re stuck here for a little while. At least until a man named Billy Shipton gets sent back here.”

“How are we going to live until then?” Martha asked.

“Yeah,” Rose snorted. “You never seem to carry any money on you.”

“I’m so, so sorry. But you two are gonna have to get jobs,” the Doctor replied.

“Jobs?” Martha asked.

“Yeah, in a shop,” the Doctor replied. Then he turned to Rose. “I’ll try not to blow it up this time.”

“You don’t mean?” Rose asked, then he handed her the transcript. She saw her name and read the sentence next to it: Never thought I’d end back up in a shop. Especially not this shop. It’s strange, knowing that in 36 years, he’s gonna blow it up while I’m working there. But hey, that’s time travel for ya.

“What shop is that?” Martha asked.

“Do you remember when Henrik’s blew up in 2005?” Rose asked.

“Yeah, that was right before that student prank got out of hand with all the kids dressing up as shop dummies,” Martha replied.

“Wasn’t a prank,” the Doctor said. “It was these creatures called Autons. Living plastic. Had to blow up Henrik’s, and I met Rose in the process.”

Rose stood up then. “Well, there’s no time like the present,” she sighed. “Sooner we get all this done, sooner we can get back to the TARDIS.”

“Nah,” the Doctor replied. “First, we need to go flat hunting. We’ll need an address before you to get jobs.”

“Why is it always the past?” Martha grumbled as they all followed the Doctor to go look for a flat. She reached around her neck to grab her TARDIS key, a nervous habit she had picked up from Rose in 1913, only to realize it wasn’t there. “Doctor?” she asked, sprinting to catch up to him.

**********************************************************************************************************************

A week later, Rose walked into the flat and tossed her keys in the bowl. Martha was working the late shift, so it was just going to be her and the Doctor that night. It was going to be the first time they had been alone for an extended period of time since John Smith, and Rose was a little nervous. Were they going to talk about it? Or just pretend it had never happened?

She continued in to the kitchen where she saw the Doctor sitting at the table, fidgeting with something. “Whatcha working on Doctor?” Rose asked, trying to be as casual as possible as she leaned against the door frame.

“I’m trying to get back to my ship,” he growled, not glancing up.

Rose’s heart sank. He had used the word “my.” Not “our.” Logically, Rose knew the TARDIS was his ship. But over the past few years, she had started to consider it her home. So much so that she was willing to let everyone she knew end up either in a parallel universe or thinking she was dead. She had thought he considered it her home too, but maybe that had been wishful thinking. That would explain a lot of things. Most of all why he didn’t care about her opinion on Martha. If he still thought of her as just a passenger, then she had no right in saying who else could or could not come along. With this realization in mind, Rose whispered, “Well, I’m knackered. I’ll leave you to it. Goodnight, Doctor.”

The Doctor looked up just as Rose was leaving the room. Something seemed off about her, but he couldn’t quite place it. Mostly because his stupid timey-wimey detector wasn’t working, and he couldn’t figure out why. He had rebuilt it four times that day. He knew he had to get it right, though, because they needed to know where and when Billy appeared so that they pick him up and explain everything.

In her room, Rose sat on her bed and pulled out her phone. It was moments like that when she needed to talk to Sarah Jane. The older woman always knew exactly what to say. But Rose was worried that without the TARDIS there, that the call would not get redirected to the right time. And somewhere, there was a much younger Sarah Jane running around. One that hadn’t even met the Doctor yet. So instead, Rose put her phone down on her bedside table and curled up in bed, knowing it would be hours before she finally managed to fall asleep.

**********************************************************************************************************************

Two weeks later, Rose and Martha were on the floor of the department store, folding some clothes about an hour before closing. “Hey, Rose,” one of the girls called.

“What’s up, Susie?” Rose asked.

“A couple of us were going out for drinks and dancing after work today, thought you might want to come,” Susie replied.

Rose hesitated. Normally, she would say no because she wanted to get back to the Doctor. But in the past two weeks, he had barely said ten words to her. And Martha wasn’t much better, always hanging around the Doctor. Rose missed having friends to talk to. And the girls at the shop weren’t the most interesting people Rose had ever met, but they could have been worse. They reminded her a lot of her old friends from the Estate. So, Rose called back, “Sounds like fun, yeah.”

“Great!” Susie replied. Then she turned toward the other end of the store and yelled, “Polly, Amy, she said she’d come!”

“Girls! You are working. This is not social hour,” Mr. Robertson, their pudgy, red faced managed huffed. When the other girls started giggling, Rose found herself laughing along with them. It felt nice to not feel like the dumbest person in the room.

Martha rolled her eyes, and Rose sighed. She had thought being stuck in 1913 with Martha was bad, but this? This was torture. Since they were no longer having to work together to protect the Doctor, any cooperation and mutual understanding they had built up had vanished. Martha thought she was too good to be working in a shop, so she never made any effort to make friends. She spent all her free time at the kitchen table with the Doctor, asking him to explain everything he was doing to her. But when Rose had tried, he had looked around nervously and stammered something about it being extremely complicated, and difficult to understand. Rose had quickly got the message that he didn’t think she was smart enough to understand, so she didn’t try that again.

That night, when they were all packing up to go home, Rose followed her new friends from work out, and Martha went home alone.

The moment she walked in the flat, the Doctor’s head shot up and he smiled, then Martha saw it turn to a frown. “Where’s Rose?”

“She went out with some of the girls from the shop,” Martha shrugged, hanging up her coat and throwing her keys in the bowl.

“What’d she do that for?” The Doctor asked.

“Dunno. They asked her to go, and she said yes,” Martha replied.

“And you didn’t go with her?”

“They didn’t invite me,” Martha replied. “Doubt I would’ve gone anyway. They’re dull. All they talk about is clothes and boys and stupid things like that. You won’t get a stimulating conversation out of any of them.”

“They can’t be that bad,” the Doctor replied. “Not if Rose wants to be friends with them.”

Martha sighed. It was always like this when Rose wasn’t home. He would go on and on about her, and then the moment she walked through the door, he’d pretend like she didn’t exist. Martha almost thought he was trying to play hard to get, but that didn’t make much sense. If he was interested in Rose, he could have her. Rose had made that very clear in 1913. But he would hardly look at her. Martha decided to ignore it and just chalk it all up to his being an alien. She wouldn’t lie and say that it didn’t sting a little though, knowing he wasn’t interested in her. But she at least could try to learn as much from him as she could. He might not be a real doctor, but it never hurt to learn new things.

**********************************************************************************************************************

The Doctor put his head down on the table and sighed. They had been stuck in 1969 for a month and a half, and it just got harder and harder. Every time he saw Rose, his mind immediately flashed to the Cartwright's cottage, and he heard Rose say, “I love the Doctor.” It was stuck on repeat in his head. He had guessed how she felt for a long time now, but it was different knowing it for sure. It was made even harder by the fact that he wanted to shout from the rooftops how much he loved Rose Tyler. He couldn’t deny that any longer.

But he couldn’t do anything about it. She was human, with a human lifespan, and he would one day lose her, and if they got any closer, he wasn’t sure he’d survive that. And on top of that, he didn’t deserve her. She was too good. She made him better, but he didn’t think there was anything he would ever be able to do to be worthy of her.

The Doctor had always known he was bad at dealing with his emotions. If the TARDIS were there right now, She’d be shocking him every few minutes. But the only way the Doctor could manage to stay away from Rose was by pushing her away. It was the only way to keep them both safe. So, he didn’t ask her about her day, didn’t explain what he was doing, and tried to spend all his time talking to Martha so that he wouldn’t lose his resolve. He wanted to get home to the TARDIS, but he didn’t know how he was going to do it when he got there. The TARDIS had made her feelings on his plans very clear, but the Doctor was convinced She was wrong. He was just trying to do what was best for everyone. Or so he told himself.

When he heard the door open that night, he forced himself to continue working on the autocue. Rose came in quietly after her night out with the girls from the shop. She didn’t even try to stop In and talk to him. He tamped down the flare of hurt he felt, saying this was what he wanted after all, but it felt hollow, even to him.

**********************************************************************************************************************

“Want to go test the Timey-Wimey Detector?” the Doctor called as soon as he heard the door open that afternoon.

“Sorry, Martha decided to take an extra shift,” Rose’s voice answered.

“So you don’t want to come?” The Doctor blurted out without thinking. He had spent two months trying to avoid any one on one time with Rose, and it was driving him mad. Still, he would later blame his excitement over finally finishing the Timey-Wimey Detector for breaking his newest rule of no alone time with Rose.

Rose looked sideways at him and raised an eyebrow skeptically, “Do you want me to come?”

“If you want to,” the Doctor replied nonchalantly.

Rose looked at him for a second and then shrugged her coat back on. “Okay, let’s go.”

**********************************************************************************************************************

Martha was a little surprised when she got home that night to find the flat empty. She was even more surprised when, a few minutes later, Rose and the Doctor walked in together. They were both covered in feathers, and Rose was laughing while the Doctor glared at the Timey-Wimey detector.

“I can’t believe you blew up a chicken!” Rose gasped out.

“I did not blow up a chicken,” he protested. “It just appears that this thing can boil an egg at thirty paces.”

“Whether you want it to or not!” Rose giggled. “I’m going to go get cleaned up, and you keep that thing away from the fridge.”

“What is going on?” Martha asked once Rose had disappeared down the hall.

“Oh, Martha!” The Doctor exclaimed. “You’re home. Rose and I went out to test the Timey-Wimey Detector. I finished it this afternoon.”

“And you blew up a chicken?” Martha asked.

“Not on purpose,” he whined.

“Well, for once, I’m with Rose. Keep that thing away from the fridge,” Martha sighed, going to her own room.

**********************************************************************************************************************

Back in her room, Rose sat on her bed and sighed. The afternoon had been perfect. Just like old times. And somehow, that made everything worse. Rose didn’t know what to do anymore. Most of the time, it seemed like the Doctor was only putting up with her because he felt guilty. Not that he had anything to feel guilty about. Rose was a big girl, who made her own decisions. And, ready or not, she knew she had to deal with the consequences.

Then days like today happened, and Rose and the Doctor fell right back into place. They were together, and everything felt right with the world. But it wouldn’t last, and Rose knew it. Tomorrow, he would probably be back to avoiding her. Rose buried her face in her hands and flopped back on the bed with a groan. What was she supposed to do?

**********************************************************************************************************************

“Rose, you going out with us tonight?” Polly asked as they locked up Henrik’s.

“Nah, not tonight,” Rose smiled.

“Oh, why not?” Polly asked. “You been spending too much time with Martha? Think you’re too good for us now?”

“Stop it,” Rose protested. “And you know I don’t. I just have things to do tonight, that’s all.”

“Fine, you go do your things, and we’ll all be out having a glorious time without you,” Polly said, turning on her heel and leaving.

Rose chuckled and shook her head. She was actually going to miss those girls. They had been nice to her and made her time in 1969 bearable. Even with the Doctor being as confusing as he had been.

“Ready to go?” Martha asked.

“Yeah,” Rose said. “Let’s get back to the flat.”

“What did Polly mean? When she asked if you’d been spending too much time with me?” Martha asked.

“Nothing,” Rose said, shaking her head.

“I’m not stupid, you know. She asked if you thought you were too good for them,” Martha replied.

Rose sighed, “Sometimes, the girls think you think you’re better than the rest of us.”

“What’s that supposed to mean?” Martha asked, affronted.

“It’s just, sometimes, if someone doesn’t know something, or they make a mistake, you’re quick to point it out. And you roll your eyes when we start talking about certain things, like the latest gossip or what’s in the tabloids.”

“When we talked about going to the moon, all they could talk about was how cute Neil Armstrong was!” Martha exclaimed. “One of the greatest scientific achievements of the human race, and all they can talk about is how cute one of the astronauts is.”

“Not all of us have an extensive scientific background, Martha,” Rose snapped. “We don’t all know what the Doctor is talking about, and we can’t all do maths in our head. I’m sorry you’ve had to spend so much time with us poor uneducated peasants, but you’ve got to understand that it isn’t fun to be looked down upon all the time.”

“I don’t look down at anyone!” Martha retorted.

Rose shook her head, “No, you don’t mean to. Doesn’t mean you don’t do it.” Then she turned and walked faster down the street toward their flat.

“Rose!” Martha called, but Rose wasn’t listening.

Two hours later, the Doctor, Martha, and Rose were all in Wester Drumlins. The Doctor was busy setting up the camera and his autocue and painting the warning message on the wall. Rose was sitting just outside until he was ready. Martha came out and sat next to her.

“Hey,” she started feeling vaguely uncomfortable. Over the past two hours, she had had plenty of time to think about what Rose said, and she realized Rose was right. She did sometimes get annoyed at how silly the rest of the girls in the shop could be. She didn’t mean to be rude to them, but she was supposed to be training to be a doctor, not working in a shop. And she wasn’t very happy about being stuck in 1969, so she supposed she could have been taking it out on those girls without meaning to. But Rose wasn’t like them. She had travelled with the Doctor. She knew better, and Martha had never really grouped her in with them.

“Sorry about earlier,” Rose sighed. “Didn’t mean to go off like that.”

“Do you really think I think I’m better than you?” Martha asked.

Rose shrugged. “You’re a few exams away from being a doctor. I never even got my A-Levels. And the Doctor won’t even waste his time trying to explain the technical mumbo jumbo to me anymore. Not since you showed up and might understand.”

“Rose—” Martha started, then stopped, not sure what to tell her. That the Doctor only ever pays attention to Martha when Rose is around to see it? That she’s heard him go on and on, multiple times, about how brilliant Rose is? Would Rose even believe her at that point?

Before Martha could decide what to say, the Doctor yelled, “Rose! Martha! Everything’s ready. Let’s get this filmed so that we’re all prepared when Billy arrives.”

Martha started to say something, but Rose just shook her head. “It’s fine. Let’s just go film this ridiculous conversation so we can get back to the TARDIS.”

As soon as both girls were in there, the Doctor turned on the autocue. “Yep, that’s me.” He paused. “Yes, I do.” Another pause.

“Yep, and this.” And another. “Are you going to read out the whole thing?” One more pause. “I'm a time traveller. Or I was. I'm stuck in 1969.”

Martha then leaned into the frame. “We’re stuck. All of space and time he promised me. Now we’ve got jobs in a shop, working to support him!”

Rose leaned into the frame then, “Never thought I’d end back up in a shop. Especially not this shop. It’s strange, knowing that in 36 years, he’s gonna blow it up while I’m working there. But hey, that’s time travel for ya.”

“Martha, Rose,” the Doctor admonished.

“Sorry,” they replied in unison, not looking sorry at all, but getting out of the frame nonetheless. Now that their part was done, they went back outside to let the Doctor finish filming in peace. They had heard it all a thousand times as he practiced, trying to make sure he could get all the pauses right. A few minutes later, the Doctor called them back in to help him pack up, and they made their way back to the flat that hopefully wouldn’t be theirs much longer.

**********************************************************************************************************************

Two days later, Rose was at work when Mr. Robertson came up to her. “There’s a doctor on the phone for you in the back room.”

“Oh, thank you sir,” Rose smiled running off to pick up the phone. “Hello?”

“Rose, come back to the flat. Billy just showed up. It’s finally time to go home,” the Doctor said.

“Alright, be there in just a minute,” she replied.

“Everything alright Tyler?” Mr. Robertson asked.

“Actually sir, my Doctor says I need to go see him right away. Something important has come up,” Rose replied, giving him her most winning smile. The man was a creep, but it was well established that if you smiled at him, you could do just about anything you wanted.

“Hopefully everything is just fine,” he said, but he nodded, indicating she could leave.

Rose stopped to scribble a quick note for the girls, apologizing for not being able to say goodbye, then slipped out the door. She sprinted back to the flat and opened the door just in time to see the TARDIS materializing.

“Oh, hello Gorgeous,” she sighed, placing a hand on the wood as soon as she was inside.

“The same could be said to you,” a man in the corner of the flat said.

Rose chuckled and said, “You must be Billy. I’m Rose.”

“It’s a pleasure to meet you Rose,” Billy replied. “I couldn’t talk you into staying with me, could I?”

“Sorry,” Rose laughed. “But no. 1969 is not for me. I’ve already seen the moon landing 4 times. I’m not in any rush to see it again.”

“That’s what the lovely Miss Jones said,” Billy flirted.

The Doctor cleared his throat. “Well, it’s been nice to meet you Billy, and thanks for everything you’re about to do. But it’s about time we got going, don’t you think, ladies?”

“Definitely,” they responded in unison, Rose bolting to the door and opening it. The moment she walked inside, she just felt an overwhelming sense of joy that she knew was coming from the TARDIS.

“I’m going to run to my room real quick. I need to talk to Sarah Jane,” Rose said, not waiting for an answer before dashing off to her room.

Still in the console room, Martha turned to the Doctor. “Any way we could stop off at my flat for a moment?”

The Doctor looked at her, confused, as he put the TARDIS into the vortex. “Your flat? Why?”

“I just want to see home for a few hours, Doctor. You’re back in your home now, why can’t I pop in and visit mine?” Martha replied.

“Do you want to visit your mum?” The Doctor asked, rubbing his cheek at the memory of the slap he had gotten from her when they met.

“Nah, she’s still not too keen on me travelling with you. I’ll just call her later,” Martha replied.

The Doctor put in the coordinates and landed in her flat. “Here we are, then.”

“Thank you, Doctor. I’ll just be like an hour or so,” Martha said. “Just need to get regrounded in my own time, you know?”

The Doctor nodded. “I’ll just pop into the future then. No need to wait around here. Waiting’s boring. Like Sundays,” he rambled.

“Just make sure you get the time right, mister,” Martha admonished him.

“Hey!” He protested. “I am an excellent driver. When She decides to cooperate.”

Martha laughed and shook her head. “See you in an hour, Doctor.”

"Oh, Martha?" the Doctor called before she could leave. "Forgetting something?" Martha turned around to see the Doctor holding up her key, the one that the Weeping Angels had stolen. She grabbed it with a quick smile and headed out the door into her flat.

**********************************************************************************************************************

Back in her room, Rose stared at her phone. She had been so sure of this plan for the past month, but now she found herself second guessing it. Was she really ready?

Her phone slipped in her hand, and she accidentally hit the call button as she tried to catch it. When she heard a familiar voice say, “Hello?” she decided that the universe was telling her just to get on with it.

“Sarah Jane?” Rose asked.

“Rose! Hello, how have you been?” Sarah Jane asked.

“Oh, you know what travelling with the Doctor is like,” Rose laughed nervously. “How long has it been for you, since the last time I called?”

“About a month, but I’ve got some big news for you,” Sarah Jane replied.

“You do?” Rose asked.

“Yes, but I can tell from your voice that you have something you want to say, but that you’re scared to say it. So just get on with it, and then I’ll tell you my news,” the older woman replied.

“Oh, no, it’s nothing,” Rose lied.

“Rose Tyler don’t lie to me,” Sarah Jane chastised her. “How long has it been for you?”

“About six months,” Rose replied.

“That’s a long time,” Sarah said. “You must have seen some incredible places to go so long without saying a word.”

“Actually, we spent two months stuck in the countryside in 1913, and then a little over three months stuck in London in 1969,” Rose sighed.

“Stuck?” Sarah Jane asked.

“Believe me, I’ll tell you the full story another time. It’s a long one,” Rose replied.

“Alright,” Sarah chuckled. “Now what’s on your mind?”

“Can I ask you for a really big favor?” Rose asked, biting her lip.

“Of course, Rose,” Sarah Jane replied without missing a beat.

“No, I mean it’s a really big favor,” Rose emphasized.

Rose could practically hear Sarah Jane rolling her eyes at her. “Just ask.”

“Can I come stay with you?” Rose exhaled quickly, needing to get it out before she lost her nerve.

“What?” Sarah Jane replied.

“Can I come stay with you? I think it’s time I leave the Doctor,” Rose answered.

“Leave the Doctor? What are you on about?”

“If there’s anything I’ve learned in the past six months, it’s that he doesn’t want me here. He’s just keeping me around because he feels guilty. He thinks he’s ruined my life, so he won’t throw me out,” Rose said, flopping down on her bed.

“Now where would you get a ridiculous idea like that?” Sarah Jane laughed.

“It was obvious ever since Canary Wharf,” Rose replied. “I was just too blind to see it. He tried really hard to send me to the other universe. Then he tried to talk me out of faking my own death. Then he invited Martha along, so he wouldn’t be stuck with just me. He didn’t see me for weeks, then acted as though nothing had happened when I reappeared. Then over the past three months, he’s made little comments here and there that made it clear he didn’t see the TARDIS as my home. And he’s hardly spoken to me in all that time. I might not be an almost-doctor, but I’m not stupid. I can tell when I’m not wanted.”

“Rose, I’m sure he doesn’t—” Sarah Jane started.

“Sarah Jane, please. You warned me of this this first time we met. You said, ‘Some things are worth getting your heart broken for.’ Well, this is it, for me. I’m not going to put myself through any more pain when I know better,” Rose sighed.

“If you’re sure about this—”

“I am,” Rose interrupted.

“Then of course you can come stay with me. We’ll get UNIT to help you come up with some kind of backstory and a life. We can go investigate together. Take care of Earth when the Doctor isn’t around,” Sarah Jane said, smiling.

“Oh, thank you!” Rose exclaimed. “How can I ever repay you?”

“You can babysit,” Sarah Jane replied, waiting for the penny to drop.

“Yeah, of course I’ll—wait, what?” Rose asked. “Babysit? Babysit who?”

“My son, his name is Luke,” Sarah Jane laughed.

“You said it had only been a month!” Rose gasped.

“It has,” Sarah Jane answered. “But it’s a long story. If you’ve got time?”

“I’ve got all the time in the world,” Rose replied, sitting back against her pillows. As she listened to Sarah Jane tell the story of the Bane and how she suddenly ended up with a 12 year old son, Rose decided that telling the Doctor her plans could wait until the morning.

Chapter Text

Rose walked into the console room right as they landed in Martha’s apartment an hour later.

“I’m impressed,” Martha said. “Wasn’t sure you could actually do it.”

“Oh ye of little faith,” the Doctor replied with a twinkle in his eye.

“Now, I was thinking—” the Doctor started, but Rose cut him off.

“Can we stop at Sarah Jane’s?” Rose blurted out.

“Course we can,” he replied. “But first, the TARDIS needs refueling. Flying herself is hard on the Old Girl.” The Doctor input some coordinates and threw the lever. They landed with a gentle thud. “Here we are. Cardiff.”

“Cardiff?” Martha asked.

“Ah, but the thing about Cardiff, it's built on a rift in time and space, just like California and the San Andreas Fault, but the rift bleeds energy. Every now and then I need to open up the engines, soak up the energy and use it as fuel,” the Doctor replied.

Rose sighed and sat down on the jump seat. She had decided it would be easiest to tell the Doctor with Sarah Jane present. Rose figured that the other woman’s presence would give her the courage to actually say it.

“So it’s a pit stop?” Martha asked.

“Exactly. Should only take twenty seconds. The rift's been active,” the Doctor replied.

“Wait a minute. They had an earthquake in Cardiff a couple of years ago. Was that you?” Martha asked.

“Yeah,” Rose smiled, remembering it fondly, even if Margaret the Slitheen had almost blown up the Earth. It had been one of her last adventures with Jack and her first Doctor. “That was us. There was this horrible creature, a Slitheen from Raxacoricofallapatorius, trying to blow up the Earth.”

“A long time ago,” the Doctor nodded. “Lifetimes. I was a different man back then.”

“Yeah, you were,” Rose muttered under her breath.

The Doctor shook his head and looked up at the girls. “Finito. All powered up. You were saying something about—” his voice faded out as he looked at the scanner and saw Jack Harkness. Turning it so that there was no way Rose could see the scanner, he quickly threw them into the vortex, but Jack grabbed on right as they disappeared. The console sparked and the TARDIS threw them all to the ground.

“Whoa. What’s that?” Martha asked.

“We're accelerating into the future. The year one billion. Five billion. Five trillion. Fifty trillion? What? The year one hundred trillion? That's impossible,” the Doctor muttered, watching the scanner count up.

“Why? What happens then?” Martha asked.

“We’re going to the end of the universe,” the Doctor replied ominously. The TARDIS landed with a thud. “Well, we’ve landed.”

“So what’s out there?” Martha asked.

“I don’t know,” he replied.

“Say that again,” she laughed. “That’s rare.”

“Not even the Time Lords came this far. We should leave. We should go. We should really, really go,” the Doctor said. Then he grinned and looked between Rose and Martha before sprinting for the door.

As soon as they were outside, Rose saw Jack. She sprinted toward where he was laying, and Martha followed quickly.

“Oh my God,” Martha gasped. “I can’t find a pulse!” She ran back into the TARDIS for a medical kit, and Rose sat behind his head in shock. It had been so long since she had seen him, and now, here he was somehow, in the year one hundred trillion, lying dead? She looked up at the Doctor, but he was just glaring at Jack with a look like disgust.

“Here we go. Get out of the way. It's a bit odd, though. Not very hundred trillion. That coat's more like World War Two,” Martha remarked as she started CPR.

“I think he came with us,” the Doctor replied.

“How do you mean? From Earth?” Martha asked.

“Must have been clinging to the outside of the Tardis all the way through the vortex. Well, that's very him,” the Doctor shrugged.

“What, do you know him?” Martha asked.

“Friend of mine. Used to travel with me, back in the old days,” the Doctor replied.

It was then that Martha looked at the shock and heartbreak on Rose’s face. “Did you know him too?” Rose nodded. “But he's. I'm sorry, there's no heartbeat. There's nothing. He's dead.” As soon as the words were out of her mouth, Jack gasped and sat up, grabbing Martha in the process. “Oh, so much for me. It's all right. Just breathe deep. I've got you.”

“Captain Jack Harkness,” he smiled up at her. “And who are you?”

“Martha Jones,” she said, smiling back at him.

“Nice to meet you, Martha Jones,” Jack grinned.

“Oh, don’t start,” the Doctor sighed.

“I was only saying hello,” Jack replied.

“I don’t mind,” Martha smiled as she helped Jack stand up. Rose was still crouching on the ground in shock, but no one really paid her any attention, all eyes were on Jack.

“Doctor.”

“Captain.”

“Good to see you,” Jack said.

“And you. Same as ever. Although, have you had work done?” the Doctor asked.

“You can talk!” Jack laughed.

“Oh yes, the face. Regeneration. How did you know this was me?” the Doctor asked.

Jack shrugged, “The police box kind of gives it away. I've been following you for a long time. You abandoned me.”

“Did I?” the Doctor asked. “Busy life. Moving on.”

Jack’s face got very serious, and the Doctor could just barely make out tears in his eyes. “Just got to ask. The Battle of Canary Wharf. I saw the list of the dead. It said Rose Tyler.”

The Doctor let out a little laugh and nodded at something behind Jack. “See for yourself.”

Jack spun around to see Rose sitting on the ground, staring up at him in shock. “I thought you were dead,” she whispered.

“I thought the same of you!” He exclaimed before picking her up and spinning her around in a hug. “It’s so good to see you Rosie. I missed you.”

Rose buried her face in Jack’s neck. “I missed you too.”

“Then how come you let the Doctor abandon me?” Jack asked teasingly setting her down.

“He said you were rebuilding the Earth. I thought you chose to stay!” Rose exclaimed.

“He abandoned you?” Martha asked. “In Cardiff?”

“No,” Jack said. Then he told the story of the Game Station. Rose didn’t listen much till she got past the part she remembered. “Surrounded by Dalek dust. I ran off to find the TARDIS. Made it all the way up to where it was just in time to see it dematerializing. So there I was, stranded in the year two hundred one hundred, ankle deep in Dalek dust, and he goes off without me. But I had this,” he said, patting his vortex manipulator. “I used to be a Time Agent. It's called a vortex manipulator. He's not the only one who can time travel.”

“Oh, excuse me. That is not time travel. It's like, I've got a sports car and you've got a space hopper,” the Doctor snorted.
“Hey!” Rose exclaimed, glaring over at the Doctor as they wandered the wasteland world they had landed on. “You abandoned him. You’ve no right to criticize his vortex manipulator.”

“Ohhh,” Jack whispered. “Are you two having a domestic?”

“No,” Rose said, grabbing onto Jack’s arm. “He’s just being rude.”

”All right, so I bounced. I thought 21st century, the best place to find the Doctor, except that I got it a little wrong. Arrived in 1869, this thing burnt out, so it was useless,” Jack explained.

“Told you,” the Doctor said, but he stopped his gloating quickly at the look Rose was giving him. He had known she would be mad about him abandoning Jack, but the look on her face was much worse than what he had imagined.

“I had to live through the entire twentieth century waiting for a version of you that would coincide with me,” Jack explained.

“But that makes you more than one hundred years old,” Martha gasped.

“And looking good, don't you think? So I went to the time rift, based myself there because I knew you'd come back to refuel. Until finally I get a signal on this detecting you and here we are,” Jack smiled.

“Why’d you leave him behind, Doctor?” Rose asked.

“I was a bit busy,” the Doctor retorted.

“Yeah,” Rose said. “But he’s our friend.”

“I was regenerating, you were—” the Doctor cut himself off abruptly. “You know what, nevermind. We're at the end of the universe, all right? Right at the edge of knowledge itself and you're busy blogging! Come on.”

“Is that a city?” Martha asked as they looked out over a cliff at a huge expanse of buildings and roads that looked like they were part of the rocks.

“A city or a hive, or a nest, or a conglomeration. Like it was grown. But look, there. That's like pathways, roads? Must have been some sort of life, long ago,” the Doctor replied.

“What killed it?” Martha asked.

“Time. Just time. Everything's dying now. All the great civilizations have gone. This isn't just night. All the stars have burned up and faded away into nothing,” the Doctor said, staring out forlornly into the distance.

“They must have an atmospheric shell. We should be frozen to death by now,” Jack said, looking up.

“Well, Rose, Martha, and I,” the Doctor said, glancing back at him to see Rose still clinging to his arm. “Not so sure about you, Jack.”

“Hey,” Rose said. “What’s that supposed—”

“It’s fine, Rosie,” Jack replied, calming her down. He wasn’t sure what had happened between her and the Doctor, but it was clearly something. He was determined to find out what the Doctor had done to hurt Rose because Jack was sure this wasn’t just about him being abandoned.

“What about the people? Does no one survive?” Martha asked.

“I suppose we have to hope life will find a way,” the Doctor sighed.

Just then, Jack pointed at someone that was running away from a mob. “Well, he’s not doing too bad.”

“Is it me, or does that look like a hunt?” the Doctor asked. Then, taking off running after the man, he added, “Come on!”

“Oh, I’ve missed this!” Jack exclaimed, turning to look at Rose. Then, they caught up with the man and Jack whispered, “I’ve got you.”

“They're coming! They're coming!” The man exclaimed.

Jack turned and aimed his gun at the mob, but the Doctor called, “Jack, don’t you dare.” Instead, Jack raised his gun and fired it in the air, and the mob stopped.

“What the hell are they?” Martha asked.

“There’s more of them,” the man said. “We’ve got to keep going.”

The Doctor pointed in the direction of the TARDIS. “I’ve got a ship nearby. It’s safe. It’s not far. It’s over there.” He stopped when he noticed more people blocking the way to the TARDIS. “Or maybe not.”

“We're close to the silo. If we get to the silo, then we're safe,” the man said.

“Silo?” the Doctor asked.

“Silo,” Jack and Rose agreed in unison.

“Silo for me,” Martha nodded, and they all took off in the direction of the silo.

When they reached the silo, the man shouted, “It's the Futurekind! Open the gate!”

“Show me your teeth! Show me your teeth! Show me your teeth!” the guard ordered.

“Show him your teeth,” the man insisted, and they all bared their teeth at the guard.

“Human! Let them in! Let them in!” the guard said. As soon as they were all five inside, he yelled, “Close! Close! Close!”

One of the members of the mob, the leader, Rose guessed, Ran up to the gate and hissed, “Humans. Humani. Make feast.”

The guard pointed his gun at the creature and said, “Go back to where you came from. I said, go back. Back!”

“Oh, don't tell him to put his gun down,” Jack muttered.

“He’s not my responsibility,” the Doctor replied.

“And I am?” Jack scoffed. “Huh, that makes a change.”

“Kind watch you. Kind hungry,” the creature said.

“Thanks for that,” the Doctor said as they watched the tribe back away.

“Right,” the guard said. “Let’s get you inside.”

“My name is Padra Toc Shafe Cane. Tell me. Just tell me, can you take me to Utopia?” asked the man they had followed to the silo.

“Oh yes, sir. Yes I can,” the guard smiled.

**********************************************************************************************************************

While the Doctor tried to convince anyone to go get the TARDIS, Jack pulled Rose aside. “What’s up?”

Rose shook her head, “What do you mean?”

“With you and the Doctor,” Jack replied.

“Nothing’s up with me and the Doctor,” Rose said, not looking at Jack.

“C’mon Rosie,” Jack sighed.

“He left you,” Rose said, trying to deflect the conversation.

“And while I would love to believe that him leaving me would make you this upset, I know that’s not it,” Jack replied. “What did he do?”

“Nothing,” Rose replied. “It was me.”

“You?” Jack asked, recoiling a bit in shock.

“Yeah, At Canary Wharf, he tried to send me to a parallel universe with my mum, but I wouldn’t let him. I thought he was just trying to protect me, but that wasn’t it,” Rose sighed.

“What do you mean, that wasn’t it?” Jack asked.

“When he gets tired of companions, he leaves them or sends them away. I thought I was more than that, but I was wrong. Now he just feels guilty about ruining my life, so he can’t send me away. But he’s been avoiding me for ages,” Rose explained. Then she took a deep breath and whispered, “That’s why I’m leaving.”

“You’re what?” Jack exclaimed.

“Shhh. I haven’t told him yet. I was trying to before we started accelerating into the future,” Rose explained. “But now I just have to wait until we get the TARDIS back. Then I’ll tell him.”

“You can’t be serious,” Jack said, as they started to follow the Doctor down a hall.

“I am though. He doesn’t want me here anymore. He’s got Martha, and she’s brilliant,” Rose explained.

“So are you!” Jack argued.

“I’m not a few exams away from being a doctor,” she mumbled.

“Rosie,” Jack sighed, but before he could say anything else, the Doctor asked for his help opening a door that was half-deadlocked.

“Thanks,” the Doctor said.

“How did you cope without me?” Jack asked.

They all looked in to see a giant rocket, and the heat billowed out. “Now that is what I call a rocket,” Martha gasped.

“They’re not refugees,” the Doctor said. “They’re passengers.”

“He said they were going to Utopia,” Martha noted.

“The perfect place. Hundred trillion years, it's the same old dream,” The Doctor said with a sad smile. Then he turned to Jack, “You recognize those engines?”

“Nope. Whatever it is, it's not rocket science. But it's hot, though,” Jack replied, shutting the door.

“Boiling,” the Doctor agreed. “But if the universe is falling apart, what does Utopia mean?”

Before he could muse anymore, a man ran up to their group and asked, “The Doctor?”

“That’s me,” he replied.

“Good! Good! Good. Good. Good. Good. Good. Good. Good. Good,” the man exclaimed, dragging the Doctor away.

He turned back to his friends and shrugged, “It’s good, apparently.”

They all followed Yana down to his lab. They all introduced themselves to Chantho, with little input from the Doctor, other than him yelling at Jack to stop flirting. Rose sat down on a couch, and Jack threw his bag down, taking it off for the first time since they’d seen him. Martha immediately reached in and pulled out its contents.

“Oh, my God. You've got a hand? A hand in a jar. A hand in a jar in your bag,” Martha gasped.

The Doctor looked over. “But that, that, that's my hand.”

Jack shrugged, “I said I had a Doctor detector.”

“Chan is this a tradition amongst your people tho?” Chantho asked, looking a little weary.

“Not on my street. What do you mean, that's your hand? You've got both your hands, I can see them,” Martha argued.

“Is this from the Sycorax thing?” Rose asked.

“Yup,” the Doctor replied quickly before turning to Martha. “Long story. I lost my hand Christmas Day, in a swordfight. Well, two Christmases ago, your time.”

“What? And you grew another hand?” Martha asked.

“Er, yeah, yeah, I did. Yeah. Hello,” the Doctor replied, waving his newer hand at Martha.

“Might I ask, what species are you?” Yana, the man that had excitedly kidnapped the Doctor earlier, asked.

“Time Lord, last of. Heard of them?” The Doctor said, but Yana and Chantho shook their heads. “Legend or anything? Not even a myth? Blimey, end of the universe is a bit humbling.”

“Chan it is said that I am the last of my species too tho,” Chantho replied.

“Sorry, what was your name?” the Doctor asked, as he hadn’t had time to make introductions, what with Yana chatting his ear off.

“My assistant and good friend, Chantho. A survivor of the Malmooth. This was their planet, Malcassairo, before we took refuge,” Yana explained, not giving Chantho the chance to do so herself.

“The city outside. That was yours?” The Doctor asked.

“Chan the conglomeration died tho,” she replied, looking down.

“Conglomeration, that’s what I said,” the Doctor noted, grinning at each of his companions.

“You’re supposed to say sorry,” Jack replied, before giving Rose a look and pulling her aside.

“Seriously?” he whispered. “That’s how bad things are?”

“What do you mean?” Rose asked.

“Normally, you’re first in line to tell him when he’s being rude or insensitive,” Jack replied.

Rose shrugged. “It’s not like he’d listen to me anyway. He barely knows I’m here anymore.”

“Rose,” Jack said seriously.

“Now’s not the time, Jack. We have a lot bigger things to discuss than the fact that my crush doesn’t like me back,” Rose spat out bitterly.

Jack sighed, but knew she was right. Now wasn’t the time. He turned back to the group. “So, what about those things outside? The Beastie Boys. What are they?”

“We call them the Futurekind, which is a myth in itself, but it's feared they are what we will become, unless we reach Utopia,” Yana answered solemnly.

“And Utopia is?” the Doctor asked.

“Oh, every human knows of Utopia,” Yana replied. “Where have you been?”

“Bit of a hermit,” the Doctor shrugged.

“A hermit with friends?” Yana asked, raising an eyebrow skeptically.

“Hermits United. We meet up every ten years and swap stories about caves. It's good fun, for a hermit. So, er, Utopia?” The Doctor replied, tugging nervously on his ear.

Yana led them over to a screen, but Rose sat back down on the couch and picked up the Doctor’s hand. “Funny, how things change, isn’t it?” She whispered to it. “Back when he lost you, I was so worried he wasn’t still him. Now I know him so much better. I know that he just gets tired of us, and leaves us behind. That’s what he did with you, isn’t it? We didn’t even look for you. Just left you behind. Forgot all about you.”

“Hey, Rose. You okay?” Martha asked.

“Yeah,” Rose replied. “Why do you ask?”

“Well,” Martha said, sitting down next to her. “You’re crying and whispering to a hand in a jar. I have done my psych rotation already, and I know that’s not normal.”

“I’m fine,” Rose snapped. “Just tired. And this thing brings back memories.”

“So you were there? When he lost a hand and then grew it back?” Martha asked, trying her best to be friendly. After Rose’s outburst the other day, she realized that she might not have been as nice to Rose as she might have previously thought.

“Yeah,” Rose replied. “But it was a long time ago. You should ask him about regeneration sometime. It’s best not to be caught off guard.”

“Can you tell me about it?” Martha asked, looking over at the Doctor. “He seems a little busy right now.”

“It’s really complicated,” Rose sighed. “I probably don’t understand it well enough to explain it. He probably just gave me the Dummy’s Guide to Regeneration.”

Martha laughed. “I don’t think you give yourself enough credit. He thinks you’re brilliant.”

Rose looked at Martha and raised an eyebrow. “You don’t have to lie to me to make feel better. I’m a big girl, and I’m not stupid.”

“What do you mean?” Martha asked.

“I’ve seen the way he explains things to you. He doesn’t do that to me. Just tells me things are too complicated,” Rose shrugged.

Before Martha could reply, they both heard Jack scream and looked up to see him holding two cables together that were electrocuting him. He dropped them and fell over, and Martha and Rose both ran to his side immediately. “I’ve got him!” Martha yelled, beginning CPR.

“Chan don’t touch the cables tho,” Chantho said, hurrying behind Martha to move them away.

“Oh, I’m so sorry,” Yana said, looking sadly at Jack.

“The chamber's flooded with radiation, yes?” The Doctor said, seemingly continuing a conversation from earlier.

Yana nodded. “Without the couplings, the engines will never start. It was all for nothing.”

“Oh, I don’t know,” The Doctor sighed, before moving forward to pull Martha away from Jack. “Martha, leave him.”

“You’ve got to let me try,” she protested.

“Come on, come on, just listen to me. Now leave him alone. It strikes me, Professor, you've got a room which no man can enter without dying. Is that correct?” The Doctor said, holding back a struggling Martha.

“Yes,” Yana replied.

“Well,” the Doctor said, just before Jack gasped and sat up. “I think I’ve got just the man.”

“Was someone kissing me?” Jack asked as Rose leaned forward and threw her arms around him, letting out a sigh of relief.

**********************************************************************************************************************

The Doctor and Jack clearly didn’t realize that Rose and Martha could hear them. “How long have you known?” Jack asked.

“Ever since I ran away from you. Good luck,” they heard the Doctor say. “When did you first realize?”

“Earth, 1892. Got in a fight in Ellis Island. A man shot me through the heart. Then I woke up. Thought it was kind of strange. But then it never stopped. Fell off a cliff, trampled by horses, World War One, World War Two, poison, starvation, a stray javelin. In the end, I got the message. I'm the man who can never die. And all that time you knew,” Rose heard Jack say.

“That’s why I left you behind. It's not easy even just looking at you, Jack, because you're wrong,” the Doctor spat.

“Thanks,” Jack retorted.

“You are. I can't help it. I'm a Time Lord. It's instinct. It's in my guts. You're a fixed point in time and space. You're a fact. That's never meant to happen. Even the TARDIS reacted against you, tried to shake you off. Flew all the way to the end of the universe just to get rid of you,” the Doctor explained.

“So, what you're saying is that you're, er, prejudiced?” Jack said, and Rose could practically hear his teasing grin.

She heard the Doctor laugh drily. “I never thought of it like that.”

“Shame on you,” Jack retorted.

“Yeah,” the Doctor answered.

“Last thing I remember, back when I was mortal, I was facing three Daleks. Death by extermination. And then I came back to life,” Jack said. “What happened?”

“Rose,” the Doctor answered swiftly. Martha’s head swiveled to look at her, but Rose stepped back from the blank monitor to lean against the TARDIS and just listen. To see what the Doctor had to say about her time as Bad Wolf.

“I thought you’d sent her back home,” Jack replied, the question evident in his voice.

“She came back. Opened the heart of the TARDIS and absorbed the time vortex itself,” the Doctor explained.

“What does that mean, exactly?”

“No one’s meant to have that power,” the Doctor sighed. “If a Time Lord did that, he'd become a god. A vengeful god. But she was human. Everything she did was so human. She brought you back to life but she couldn't control it. She brought you back forever. That's something, I suppose. The final act of the Time War was life.”

“Do you think she could change me back?” Jack asked, and Rose felt a stab of guilt. She hadn’t meant to curse her friend with eternal life.

“I took the power out of her,” the Doctor replied. “And I took the memories. Locked them away. She can’t ever remember. It would probably kill her. It was killing her. Taking the power out of her is what caused me to regenerate in the first place. It’s another reason I left. I was dying, and I still wasn’t sure Rose was going to be okay. I couldn’t add your wrongness into the mix.”

They were both silent for a moment before the Doctor asked, “Do you want to die?”

“I thought I did. I don't know. But this lot. You see them out here surviving, and that's fantastic,” Jack replied.

“You might be out there, somewhere,” the Doctor added.

“I could go meet myself,” Jack joked.

“Well, the only man you're ever going to be happy with,” the Doctor shrugged.

“This new regeneration. It’s kind of cheeky,” Jack laughed.

Martha finally looked away from Rose, toward Yana, who was having some sort of meltdown.

“What’s wrong?” Martha asked him.

“Chan Professor, what is it tho?” Chantho asked, also going to his side.

“Time travel. They say there was time travel back in the old days. I never believed. But what would I know? Stupid old man. Never could keep time. Always late, always lost. Even this thing never worked,” Yana said, holding up an old pocket watch that looked a lot like the one the Doctor had used to become human. “Time and time and time again. Always running out on me.”

“Can I have a look at that?” Martha asked, and Rose finally shook herself out of her guilt long enough to walk over and see it.

“Oh, it’s only an old relic. Like me,” Yana sighed.

“Martha,” Rose said. “Don’t. Wait till the Doctor gets back.”

“But you know what it looks like,” Martha replied, visibly excited.

“Yeah, but I have a really bad feeling about this,” Rose replied.

Choosing to ignore Rose, Martha looked back at Yana. “Where did you get it?”

“Hmm? I was found with it,” he explained.

“What do you mean?” Martha asked.

“An orphan in the storm. I was a naked child found on the coast of the Silver Devastation. Abandoned, with only this,” Yana explained.

“Have you opened it?” Martha asked.

“Why would I?” he replied. “It’s broken.”

“How do you know it's broken if you've never opened it?” Martha exclaimed.

“It's stuck. It's old. It's not meant to be. I don't know. Does it matter?” Yana said, visibly agitated.

Finally looking at Rose, Martha gave in and handed it back. “No. It's nothing. It's. Listen, everything's fine up here. I'm going to see if the Doctor needs me.”

Rose and Martha both took off to find the Doctor. As soon as they walk in the room, he exclaims, “Ah, nearly there. The footprint, it's a gravity pulse. It stamps down, the rocket shoots up. Bit primitive. It'll take the both of us to keep it stable.”

“Doctor, it's the Professor. He's got this watch. He's got a fob watch. It's the same as yours. Same writing on it, same everything,” Martha said, smiling.

“Don’t be ridiculous,” the Doctor replied.

“I asked him. He said he's had it his whole life,” Martha said.

Jack shrugged. “So, he’s got the same watch.”

“Yeah, but it's not a watch. It's this chameleon thing,” Martha explained.

“No, no, no, it's this, this thing, this device, it rewrites biology. Changes a Time Lord into a human,” the Doctor clarified.

“And it’s the same watch,” Martha smiled.

“It can’t be,” the Doctor replied.

“That means he could be a Time Lord. You might not be the last one,” Jack smiled.

“But that’s brilliant, isn’t it?” Martha asked.

“Yes, it is. Course it is. Depends which one. Brilliant, fantastic, yeah. But they died, the Time Lords. All of them. They died,” the Doctor said, trying not to get his hopes up.

“Not if he was human,” Jack offered.

“What did he say, Martha? What did he say?” the Doctor roared.

“He looked at the watch like he could hardly see it. Like that perception filter thing,” Martha replied.

“What about now? Can he see it now?” the Doctor asked.

“I’m going back,” Rose sighed. “I don’t think he should be alone. If he is a Time Lord, we need to figure out which one before he opens it, right?”

Before she could leave, though, the rocket took off and the door locked itself. It only took a few seconds for the Doctor to get the door open, but they were met with the Futurekind, so it took them some time to get back to the lab. When they did, it was evident he had already opened the watch. Chantho was dead, and the Professor slipped into the TARDIS, locking it behind him. Jack, Martha, and Rose tried to hold the door shut against the Futurekind as the Doctor tried to get into the TARDIS.

Then a voice started echoing from the TARDIS. Martha froze for a second and said, “Hold on. I know that voice.”

The Doctor wasn’t listening though. He yelled, “I'm asking you really properly. Just stop. Just think!”

The other Time Lord crooned, “Use my name.”

“Master,” the Doctor whispered. “I’m sorry.”

“Tough!” the Master yelled back.

“I can’t hold out much longer, Doctor!” Jack yelled, and the Doctor pointed the sonic at the TARDIS, looking sadly at it.

Then the Master yelled, “Oh, no you don't! End of the universe. Have fun. Bye, bye!”

The TARDIS dematerialized, and Martha yelled, “Doctor, stop him! Help us. They’re getting in.”

The Doctor sprinted over and grabbed the vortex manipulator on Jack’s wrist. He pointed the sonic at it and then input some coordinates. “Everyone, grab on!” He yelled, before throwing them all into the vortex without a capsule.

Chapter Text

They all appeared in an alleyway in London, 2007. The exact day that they had left with Jack.

“Oh, my head,” Martha complained.

“Time travel without a capsule, that’s a killer,” the Doctor replied, leading them out into the street.

“Still, at least we made it. Earth, twenty first century by the looks of it. Talk about lucky,” Jack smiled.

“That wasn’t luck,” the Doctor replied. “That was me.”

Jack rolled his eyes and turned back to Martha and Rose. “The moral is, if you're going to get stuck at the end of the universe, get stuck with an ex-Time Agent and his vortex manipulator.”

“But this Master bloke, he's got the TARDIS. He could be anywhere in time and space,” Martha argued.

“No, he’s here. Trust me,” the Doctor said, looking around.

“Who is he, anyway? And that voice at the end, that wasn't the Professor,” Martha asked.

“If the Master's a Time Lord, then he must have regenerated,” Jack suggested.

Martha looked between the three of them. “I’ve heard that word a lot, but nobody’s ever told me what it actually means.”

“It means he's changed his face, voice, body, everything. New man,” Jack explained.

“But deep down, he’s still the same. Same memories at least, roughly same type of person. More of a personality change than like, a change in morals, right?” Rose clarified.

“Right,” the Doctor nodded absently.

“If he’s completely different, then how are we going to find him?” Martha asked.

“I'll know him, the moment I see him. Time Lords always do,” the Doctor muttered.

“But hold on. If he could be anyone, we missed the election. But it can't be,” Martha said, looking around at all of the ‘Vote Saxon’ posters, and the news coverage on Saxon’s win. “I said I knew that voice. When he spoke inside the TARDIS. I've heard that voice hundreds of times. I've seen him. We all have. That was the voice of Harold Saxon.”

“That’s him,” the Doctor muttered. “He’s the Prime Minister. The Master is Prime Minister of Great Britain. The Master and his wife?” The Doctor noticed a pretty blonde woman standing next to the Master in all of his photos and video appearances. The Doctor couldn’t help but be reminded of Rose. This woman looked like a poor copy of the strong, beautiful woman standing beside him. The Master couldn’t possibly know, could he? This wasn’t yet another attempt at taunting him, was it? He chanced a quick glance over at Rose, only to see her staring at the man on the screen.

“This country has been sick. This country needs healing. This country needs medicine,” the Master said in one of his first addresses to the public. “In fact, I'd go so far as to say that what this country really needs right now, is a Doctor.”

“Let’s get out of here,” the Doctor said.

“We’re not far from my flat,” Martha suggested.

**********************************************************************************************************************

“What have you got? Computer, laptop, anything. Jack, who are you phoning? You can't tell anyone we're here,” the Doctor exclaimed as soon as they entered Martha’s flat.

“Just some friends of mine, but there's no reply,” Jack replied.

“Has Sarah Jane met him?” Rose asked.

“Yes, once,” the Doctor replied. “A long time ago.”

“Okay,” Rose replied, grabbing her mobile and phoning Sarah Jane while the rest of them discussed Harold Saxon’s rise to power. Rose had never been that interested in politics. And after the Doctor took down Harriet Jones’s government, she really hadn’t cared. So she just wanted to check on the one person on Earth she still had.

“Rose?” Sarah Jane asked. “We just talked a few minutes ago.”

“Sarah Jane, be careful,” Rose whispered. “I can’t tell you where I am, but you need to know. Harold Saxon is the Master.”

“What?” Sarah Jane asked. “Are you sure?”

“Yes,” Rose replied. “So, you need to be careful.”

“Rose, we talked just a few minutes ago,” Sarah Jane argued.

“For you. It’s been a bit longer for me. You know time travel,” Rose laughed.

She stopped mid-conversation when the Doctor yelled, “Out!”

“I’ve got to go. Be careful,” Rose said,

“You too,” Sarah said just before Rose hung up the phone.

They barely made it out of the house with enough time to escape the bomb.

“What just happened?” Rose asked.

“Did you seriously miss all that?” Martha asked, incredulously.

“I had to warn the one person I have left,” Rose argued. “Sorry I wasn’t paying much attention.”

“Oh my God,” Martha said, realization dawning on her face. “He knows about me. What about my family?”

“Don’t tell them anything,” the Doctor warned.

“Rose got to. And besides, I’ll do what I like,” Martha said, dialing her phone. “Mum?”

“Rose was warning someone who’s met him, it’s different,” the Doctor tried, but Martha ignored him. They all watched her increasingly agitated conversation, and the moment she hung up, she sprinted for her car.

“We’ve got to help them!” Martha exclaimed.

“That’s exactly what they want. It's a trap!” The Doctor protested.

“I don’t care!” Martha yelled, and they all piled in the car with her.

Martha tried to call the rest of her family, and she yelled at the Doctor. Meanwhile, Jack explained everything that had happened to Rose. About the first contact with the Toclafane and the Master’s message that gave them just enough time to escape. As he finished explaining, they drove up to Martha’s mum’s house, only to see armed soldiers aiming weapons at them all.

“Martha, reverse. Get out now,” the Doctor shouted.

“Move it!” Jack ordered, and she did. As soon as they were far enough away, Jack added, “Martha, listen to me. Do as I say. We've got to ditch this car. Pull over. Right now!”

They did, and the four of them piled out of the car, and Martha made one last call, this one to her brother. Halfway through the conversation though, Martha’s posture changed. She growled, “Let them go, Saxon. Do you hear me! Let them go!”

The Doctor took the phone away from her and finished the conversation, which, unsurprisingly, ended with them being public enemies one through four, and a whole lot of running.

**********************************************************************************************************************

“How was it?” Jack asked as Martha came back with a bag of food.

“I don't think anyone saw me. Anything new?” Martha asked.

“I've got this tuned to government wavelengths so we can follow what Saxon's doing,” Jack replied, tapping his vortex manipulator.

“Yeah, I meant about my family,” Martha replied.

“It still says the Jones family taken in for questioning. Tell you what, though. No mention of Leo,” the Doctor said with a smile.

“He's not as daft as he looks. I'm talking about my brother on the run. How did this happen?” Martha said, more to herself than anyone else.

“Nice chips,” Jack commented.

“Actually, they're not bad,” the Doctor added, stealing one out of Rose’s basket, trying to get her to smile. He had noticed that she had been acting strangely for a while, but it had been especially bad since Utopia. Actually, the morning before Utopia if he was being honest. When she didn’t even swat him away, he knew something was the matter. He looked at Jack for confirmation, but Jack just looked at Rose, who tried to discretely shake her head.

At least he had confirmation that something was up, and that Jack knew about it. But Jack was clearly on Rose’s side, as he tried to deflect the conversation. “So, Doctor, who is he? How come the ancient society of Time Lords created a psychopath?”

“And what is he to you? Like a colleague or?” Martha added,

“A friend, at first,” the Doctor shrugged.

“I thought you were going to say he was your secret brother or something,” Martha laughed.

“You've been watching too much TV,” the Doctor replied.

“But all the legends of Gallifrey made it sound so perfect,” Jack said.

“Well, perfect to look at, maybe. And it was. It was beautiful. They used to call it the Shining World of the Seven Systems. And on the Continent of Wild Endeavour, in the Mountains of Solace and Solitude, there stood the Citadel of the Time Lords, the oldest and most mighty race in the universe, looking down on the galaxies below. Sworn never to interfere, only to watch. Children of Gallifrey, taken from their families age of eight to enter the Academy. And some say that's when it all began. When he was a child. That's when the Master saw eternity. As a novice, he was taken for initiation. He stood in front of the Untempered Schism. It's a gap in the fabric of reality through which could be seen the whole of the vortex. You stand there, eight years old, staring at the raw power of time and space, just a child. Some would be inspired, some would run away, and some would go mad. Brr. I don't know,” the Doctor replied, getting that far away look in his eyes that he always had when Gallifrey was mentioned.

“What about you?” Martha asked.

“Oh, the ones that ran away, I never stopped,” the Doctor replied. Just then, Jack’s vortex manipulator beeped.

“Encrypted channel with files attached. Don't recognize it,” Jack declared.

“Patch it through to the laptop,” the Doctor said.

“Since we're telling stories, there's something I haven't told you,” Jack sighed, just before the Torchwood logo flashed on the screen.

“You work for Torchwood,” the Doctor said, his voice cold.

“I swear to you, it's different. It's changed. There's only half a dozen of us now,” Jack replied.

“Everything Torchwood did, and you're a part of it?” the Doctor asked.

“The old regime was destroyed at Canary Wharf,” Jack said, looking between Rose and the Doctor. “I rebuilt it. I changed it, and when I did that, I did it in your honor. Both of you. Especially you Rose. I thought you were dead because of them. So I tried to turn them into an organization you’d be proud of.”

The Doctor just glared at him while Rose wrapped her arms around herself. She tried not to think of Torchwood too much, but it got harder the more she thought about her decision. She didn’t regret it, not exactly. She would always choose the Doctor. Now, however, her choice was the Doctor’s happiness. He didn’t want her there, so she wouldn’t stick around.

The Doctor hit play on the video, and they watched a woman explain how she knew Harold Saxon was a fraud. At the end of the video, the Doctor’s first question was, “What’s the Archangel Network?”

“I've got Archangel. Everyone's got it,” Martha replied, holding up her phone.

“It's a mobile phone network. Because look, it's gone worldwide. They've got fifteen satellites in orbit. Even the other networks, they're all carried by Archangel,” Jack explained, pointing to the schematic in the file that was sent with the video.

The Doctor grabbed Martha’s phone and began hitting it against the table. “It's in the phones! Oh, I said he was a hypnotist. Wait, wait, wait. Hold on. There it is. That rhythm, it's everywhere, ticking away in the subconscious.”

“What is it, mind control?” Martha asked.

“Mind control only goes so far,” Rose said, remembering the blood control from the Sycorax. “Can’t actually make people do something that would really hurt themselves.”

“Exactly. It's subtler than that. Any stronger and people would question it. But contained in that rhythm, in layers of code, Vote Saxon. Believe in me. Whispering to the world. Oh, yes! That's how he hid himself from me, because I should have sensed there was another Time Lord on Earth. I should have known way back. The signal cancelled him out,” the Doctor explained.

“Any way you can stop it?” Jack asked.

“Not from down here. But now we know how he's doing it,” the Doctor replied.

“And we can fight back!” Martha smiled.

“Oh yes! Now, give me your TARDIS keys,” the Doctor said, before going to work, taking apart the phone and laptop and welding bits to the keys using the sonic. “Four TARDIS keys. Four pieces of the TARDIS all with low level perception properties because the TARDIS is designed to blend in. Well, sort of. But now, the Archangel Network's got a second low level signal. Weld the key to the network and Martha, look at me. You can see me, yes?”

“Yeah,” Martha replied.

The Doctor slipped a key around his neck. “What about now?” Martha struggled to look right at him. Her eyes just sort of slipped away from him. “No, I’m here, look at me.”

“It's like I know you're there, but I don't want to know,” Martha said.

The Doctor took the key off. “And back again. See? It just shifts your perception a tiny little bit. Doesn't make us invisible, just unnoticed. Oh, I know what it's like. It's like, it's like when you fancy someone and they don't even know you exist. That's what it's like. Come on.”

Rose sighed, and Martha and Jack just sort of made eye contact. Both of them could see what was there between Rose and the Doctor, really, everyone could. The only people that seemed to be struggling with it were the two in question.

**********************************************************************************************************************

The four of them made their way to an airfield where the Master met with the President of the United States. They watched the two men fight, then discuss the Valiant before the President drove away. Then a police van showed up with Martha’s family, and the Master took them with him to the Valiant. After Jack suggested trying to sneak up on the Master and break his neck, the Doctor said, “He's a Time Lord, which makes him my responsibility. I'm not here to kill him. I'm here to save him.”

Jack sighed and looked at his vortex manipulator for information on the Valiant. “Aircraft carrier Valiant. It's a UNIT ship at 58.2 north, 10.02 east.”

“How do we get on board?” Martha asked.

“Does that thing work as a teleport?” the Doctor asked Jack.

“Since you revamped it, yeah. Coordinates set,” Jack replied before they all put their hands on it and teleported on to the Valiant.

“It's dawn? Hold on, I thought this was a ship. Where's the sea?” Martha asked, looking out a window.

“A ship for the twenty first century, protecting the skies of planet Earth,” Jack sighed.

They all started running through the ship when Rose stopped. “We've no time for sightseeing,” Jack said.

But the Doctor also stopped and tilted his head to the side like Rose. “No, wait. Shush, shush, shush, shush. Can't you hear it?”

“Hear what?” Jack asked.

“Doctor, my family’s on board,” Martha reminded him.

“Brilliant!” The Doctor exclaimed, taking off running. “This way!”

They ran through a door to a room with just one thing standing in the middle. One bright blue box that said Police. “Oh, at last,” the Doctor sighed happily.

“What’s it doing on the Valiant?” Jack asked, but everyone else was already on board.

The moment she was inside, Rose doubled over in pain. She could feel it, the way the TARDIS hurting. The way she was being forced to go against her very nature. So when Martha asked what was wrong, it was Rose that replied, “He’s cannibalized her.”

“What?” the Doctor asked, turning to look at Rose, to figure out how she knew that. But when he saw her doubled over in pain, he ran to her side. “What’s wrong?”

“Can’t you feel it?” Rose asked.

“Feel what?” the Doctor asked.

“How much pain She’s in. She’s in agony,” Rose cried.

“How did you know she’d been cannibalized?” the Doctor asked.

“She told me,” Rose replied.

“How could she do that?” the Doctor asked.

“Dunno,” Rose sighed. “Same way she always talks to me.”

“She shouldn’t be able to… Not like that…” The Doctor said, his mind going a mile a minute, trying to understand how Rose’s connection to the TARDIS could be even stronger than his. He just needed an answer that wasn’t Bad Wolf. Because that meant trouble.

“Is this what I think it is?” Jack asked, snapping the Doctor out of it.

“It’s a paradox machine,” he explained. “As soon as this hits red, it activates. At this speed, it'll trigger at two minutes past eight.”

“First contact is at eight,” Jack said. “Then two minutes later.”

“What's it for? What does a paradox machine do?” Martha asked.

“More important, can you stop it?” Jack asked.

“Not till I know what it's doing. Touch the wrong bit, blow up the solar system,” the Doctor explained.

“Then we've got to get to the Master,” Martha said.

“Yeah. How are we going to stop him?” Jack asked.

“Oh, I've got a way. Sorry, didn't I mention it?” the Doctor said as they all left the TARDIS.

Rose stopped, for just a minute, and leaned her head against the outside. “I’m so sorry,” she whispered, and she felt the TARDIS hum weakly in response. The Old Girl always forgave them, for whatever happened. And she knew her Wolf loved her, so she told her to go. Go and save the world.

**********************************************************************************************************************

The plan went downhill quickly. Not that Rose was really surprised. That tended to happen with the Doctor’s plans. It wasn’t until she was crouching on the ground, holding Jack’s vortex manipulator, listening to a very old Doctor whisper in her ear that she realized the plan was supposed to fail. The Doctor knew it wouldn’t work. They would have to play the long game to win this one.

So Rose scooted over to Martha, grabbed the other woman’s hand, and teleported them both away.

They stood on Earth, just outside of London, and watched the city burn, knowing that the Earth’s population was currently only 90% of what it had been an hour ago, and that that number was likely to drop even more in the coming year.

Chapter Text

Rose explained the plan to Martha, and she just stood there, looking at her. “A whole year?” Martha asked. “We just walk around the Earth for a whole year, telling stories about the Doctor?”

Rose shrugged. “It’s how he’s going to take down the Archangel Network. He needs everyone on Earth thinking the same thing at the same time.”

“So,” Martha sighed. “Where do we start?”

“Supplies. Backpacks, food, that sort of thing. We actually need to survive this year if we want it to work,” Rose said.

“And you’re in charge then?” Martha asked.

“No,” Rose said. “I’m just trying to think like the Doctor or Jack. They’d both be better at this than me. But it’s you and me for the next year, so we’re just going to have to work together. Like we did in 1913.”

Rose started walking away from the burning city, but then she turned back to look at Martha, who was still standing where they had landed. “And don’t worry. When all this is over, you’ll probably never see me again.”

“Wait, what?” Martha asked, running to catch up.

“I’m leaving,” Rose sighed. “Stepping back. You’re a better match for the Doctor, after all.”

“What are you talking about?” Martha asked.

“That’s what I was going to do before all this started. I was going to have him drop me off at Sarah Jane’s, and I was going to try to build a life,” Rose explained. “I’m tired of being second best.”

You’re tired of being second best?” Martha asked. “Seriously? All the man ever talks about it you. And I’m not making that up. It’s sort of the worst. He talks about you like you hung the moon, and only ever pays any attention to me when you’re in the room. Like he’s trying to make you jealous or something.”

Rose snorted. “I doubt that. I’ve given him plenty of chances. If he were at all interested in me, he’d have taken at least one of them. But let’s not talk about this. We have a lot more to do and plan.”

“Yeah,” Martha said, “about that. I was thinking, we’ll need a cover story. Something to throw the Master off our trail.”

“What were you thinking?” Rose asked.

“Well…”

**********************************************************************************************************************

“Come on, please, let me take a look. I promise, I’ll do everything I can to help your sister,” Martha whispered to the little girl, who was probably about six, that was clutching another little girl, maybe three years old. The younger girl was bleeding profusely.

“Everyone else is dead,” the older girl cried. “Mummy and Daddy and Jason. What’s the point? Nothing can stop him.”

Martha looked up at Rose, unsure as to how to transition into the conversation about the Doctor. This was their fourth refugee camp in the two weeks since the Master had taken over. It was incredible and terrible how quickly everything had changed. Martha was doing her best to provide medical care wherever they went, but it was harder somehow, when there were children involved. It made Martha’s blood boil, thinking of how the Master was causing all of this.

Before she could stumble into an explanation, Rose sat on the bed next to the little girl. “The Doctor can,” she said in a conspiratorial whisper, just loud enough to attract the attention of everyone around them.

“He’s old now. Like really old. I watched it on the telly. There’s nothing he can do. And everyone’s already gone,” the girl argued.

“Let me tell you a story. Of another time when it looked like everything was lost,” Rose said, still looking at the little girl, who had now loosened her grip on her sister enough for Martha to get her out and start providing medical care. “It was 1945, in the heart of the London Blitz. The Doctor and I were—”

“You’re not old enough for that!” A boy, maybe 12 years old, said from the crowd that had gathered to hear Rose speak.

“No, I’m not,” Rose agreed. “But the Doctor has this machine, that lets him travel in time. The Master stole it though, and he’s using its power to do all of this. But the machine’s alive, and the Doctor is going to free her. She’ll stop all of this.”

“You’re mad,” a nurse called.

“You’d have said the same a month ago if I tried to tell you about all this,” Rose shrugged. “Just because I sound mad doesn’t mean I’m not right. Now come on, everyone. Let me tell you the story of the gas mask zombies and the time when everybody lived, even though it already seemed like everyone was gone…”

When Rose’s story was over, the little girl she had started it for turned to look at her. “So how is the Doctor going to save us?”

“Well, the thing is, he can’t do it alone,” Rose said.

“What do you mean?” the girl asked.

“That’s the thing about the Doctor. That makes him so good at saving the world,” Rose smiled. “The Doctor has friends. And he knows that he has to rely on his friends. It’s why he should never be alone for long.”

“That’s what you and Martha are doing!” A little boy exclaimed.

“Yes,” Rose said. “It is. But we aren’t his only friends. At least, not the only ones he needs. He needs everybody. Every single human on Earth. To do one, little thing for him.”

“What’s that?” someone in the crowd yelled.

“Think,” Martha said, jumping into the conversation. “At the exact same moment. Everyone needs to think about the Doctor and believe in him.”

“Like in Peter Pan!” One child exclaimed, crawling up into Rose’s lap.

“Yes,” Rose smiled. “Exactly like Tinkerbelle.”

“How’s that supposed to work, then?” A man yelled.

“I don’t know,” Rose replied honestly. “But the Doctor says it’s the only way to take down the Master.”

“Other than…” Martha started, looking at Rose.

“That’s a back-up plan,” Rose said, shooting Martha a glare that said to keep quiet.

“So if we’re all just supposed to believe in the Doctor at the same time, how will we know when to do that, then?” someone asked.

“Oh,” Martha grinned. “Didn’t we tell you? The Master already gave us that. The countdown. When it reaches zero.”

“But that’s nearly a year away!” Someone yelled.

“I know,” Rose sighed dramatically, looking around at all the children. “That barely gives us enough time to get all around the world!”

The children giggled, and Rose looked up at the adults. “We will need help though. You’ve got to tell everyone you meet about the Doctor. Martha and I, we’re only two people. And there are a lot of people on Earth. Share the story. Swap stories if you meet other people that have met the Doctor. Just believe.”

**********************************************************************************************************************

As they walked away from the refugee camp, Martha turned to Rose. “You were brilliant in there, you know that?”

“I didn’t do anything you couldn’t,” Rose shrugged. “You were the one actually helping people.”

“Yeah, cause I’m almost a doctor. I can physically fix them up. But the looks on their faces when you were talking… I wanted to stop and listen to you. If I didn’t already believe the Doctor could save us, I would now,” Martha replied.

“Oh, come on,” Rose replied. “You could do the same. You have plenty of stories.”

“Yeah, but that one was perfect,” Martha said. “How’d you think of it on the spot like that?”

“Been thinking about it a lot lately,” Rose replied. “Similar mood everywhere we go to the mood in 1945. Also, that’s when we met Jack.”

“Wait, seriously?” Martha laughed. “Is that why he dresses like he’s from World War II? Cause he is?”

“He’s not originally from the 40s, no. He’s from the far future. But he’s an ex-time agent turned con. He tried to con us then, but we ended up making friends, and then he turned into the Jack you met,” Rose explained.

“Blimey,” Martha sighed. “I really think I need to hear some more of your stories.”

“And I think you have some that I need to hear, too,” Rose replied.

Martha stopped and turned to look at Rose, who stopped when she noticed Martha wasn’t still with her. “Martha, is everything alright?” Rose asked.

Martha nodded. “Yeah, but I think we need to start over.”

“Start over?” Rose asked. “What do you mean?”

“I mean, ever since the beginning, we’ve both been sort of petty. Fighting over the Doctor and all that. But it’s dumb. I mean, we have more in common than anything. Travelling with him is insane, and wonderful, and that’s something no one gets to experience. But here we are, some of the only people in existence with that experience, and we’ve wasted all this time with arguing and trying to one-up each other. And what for? So the Doctor will notice us? It’s stupid. Let’s just be friends,” Martha exclaimed.

Rose doubled over laughing, and Martha just looked at her, suddenly very angry. “What?”

“No,” Rose said, choking out the words between tears. “Sorry, you’re exactly right. It’s just that’s how me and Sarah Jane were. Fighting and bickering until all of a sudden, we realized it was dumb. We’re more alike than different, why shouldn’t we just get along?”

“And that made you laugh hysterically?” Martha asked.

“Not just that, no,” Rose smiled. “Just made me think of some funny stories Sarah Jane and I swapped about the Doctor. I’ll tell them to you later. But right now, I think you’re right we should just start over.” She held out a hand to Martha. “Hello, I’m Rose Tyler.”

Martha smiled and shook Rose’s hand. “Martha Jones.” She paused for a minute, then started walking again, on to a new destination. “So, you said you had some funny stories about the Doctor?”

**********************************************************************************************************************

“One month down,” Martha remarked wryly to Rose as they laid down to sleep in one of the new slave camps. Martha was pretty sure they were somewhere in western Germany, but it was hard to tell these days. Borders had been practically eradicated with the Master’s reign. Not in an effort of cooperation, but in the fact that people were transported across borders to work in the Master’s factories. It was still unclear what they were building, but Martha wasn’t sure she wanted to know.

“Eleven to go,” Rose smiled back, trying to be positive. They had seen some horrors, but Rose still managed to have a positive outlook on everything, and Martha was starting to get jealous. Everyday, Rose found something to smile about. Even as they were forced to hide and dart from camp to camp, watching people killed for sometimes nothing at all, Rose managed to stay optimistic.

Martha stayed up that night, trying to figure out how she was doing it, when she heard Rose mumbling in her sleep. She sat up and shook Rose’s shoulder. “Hey, hey, Rose. Wake up,” Martha said.

Rose sat upright, terror on her face. “Martha?” she asked.

“I’m right here,” Martha replied before Rose launched her arms around the other girl’s neck. “What’s wrong.”

Seeming to finally realize where she was, Rose let go and shook her head. “Nothing, I’m fine.”

Martha rolled her eyes. “You don’t look fine. Were you having a nightmare or something?”

Rose seemed to debate whether or not to tell Martha, but in the end, she sighed and said, “I’ve been having these nightmares for a while now.”

“Since the Master took over?” Martha asked.

“Since 1913. And they aren’t the same nightmares. Just continuations of each other. That’s why I don’t think they’re nightmares,” Rose replied.

“What do you think they are?” Martha asked.

“Alternate timelines,” Rose shrugged. “Half of them are about me, in the parallel universe with my mum. I’m trapped there, trying to find a way back to the Doctor.”

“And the other half?” Martha asked.

“Well, they’re about you. The life you’d be living if I weren’t still with the Doctor,” Rose replied.

“Wait, really?” Martha asked.

“Yeah,” Rose nodded. “That’s why I tried so hard to make sure the boys at the school weren’t horrible. I saw what they were like in the other timeline. I tried to keep that from happening, but I didn’t do too great of a job. And you ended up hating me for it.”

“I didn’t hate you,” Martha replied. “I was jealous. Of a million things. And sick of how they did treat me. Problem was, only person I could take it out on was you.”

“We’re quite a pair, aren’t we?” Rose chuckled sadly.

“Yeah,” Martha said. “But in those dreams of yours, was I travelling with anyone?”

“No, you’re all alone. My dreams are usually a little bit behind reality. You’re starting to get a bit cynical in my dream though. It’s why I try to stay positive. Cynicism won’t help the world much.”

“Why didn’t you tell me about these dreams?” Martha asked.

“What good would it do?” Rose shrugged.

“You sound freaked out about them,” Martha said. “But now you don’t have to freak out about them alone. And besides, you aren’t alone, and neither am I. Whatever alternate timeline had us split up didn’t happen. So now, we’re together, and we’ll make it through this year that way.”

“Thanks, Martha,” Rose sighed. “I’m gonna step outside and get some fresh air, if that’s okay with you?”

“Yeah, go ahead,” Martha replied.

Rose made her way outside, and Martha tried to lay back down and get some sleep, but she rolled over and noticed Rose’s TARDIS key was sitting on top of her bag. With a flash of panic, Martha grabbed hers and threw it on, then sprinted outside with Rose’s. They were public enemies one and two, in no particular order. If the Toclafane caught Rose…

She dashed outside, and Rose turned to look at her. For some reason, the keys didn’t even phase Rose. They had learned that early on. “Martha, what are you?” She started, but that was when they heard it. The whirring of a Toclafane.

“Rose Tyler,” it said. “You’ve made our Master very angry.”

“Yes, you really have,” another one crooned. “And we want our Master to be happy.”

“Master wants us to kill Rose Tyler,” the first one said.

“Then let’s,” the second one replied with a giggle, before firing a single energy beam straight into Rose’s chest.

Martha was frozen in place as Rose collapsed to the ground. She wanted to scream, to run toward her friend. But she couldn’t. She just stayed there, staring, as the Toclafane scanned her friend and pronounced her dead.

The last thought Rose had before she succumbed to the blackness was that she should have expected it. Between the demon on the Impossible Planet and the Carrionites, she had been warned that death was coming for her. Somehow though, she was still surprised as she fell backward and let out a final, shaky breath.

Chapter Text

As the Toclafane flew away, the spell that had been holding Martha still broke. She screamed and ran towards Rose. She was vaguely aware of the people pouring out of the building, but she didn’t pay them any attention. She was too busy checking Rose for any sign of life, but there wasn’t one. It took nearly half an hour for anyone to pull Martha away from Rose.

“Don’t worry about a thing,” a man said to her. “We’ll give your friend a proper burial.”

“No,” Martha said. “I need to do it. Myself. For her and for the Doctor.”

“Are you sure?” the man asked.

“I’m positive,” Martha nodded, before asking for a shovel and some privacy.

**********************************************************************************************************************

“Good morning Doctor!” the Master crooned, as he strode into the room. The Doctor just glared up at him from his wheelchair. “Oh, don’t look so glum. At least, not yet. My children had a lovely little present for me this morning. I thought you might want to take a look.”

Again, the Doctor didn’t reply, so the Master just pulled up a video on a screen. “My children are just so desperate to make me happy Doctor. And what they showed me this morning was just brilliant. Watch.”

The Doctor just looked listlessly at the screen, until he saw a familiar face. He sat up and watched Rose pacing around, outside some kind of warehouse. She looked stressed, and the Doctor felt a little guilty. He had asked a lot of her. He was just confused as to why she wasn’t wearing her TARDIS key. That became the thought farthest from his mind as he watched the Toclafane shoot Rose. He watched her fall to the ground, and his hearts stopped. He didn’t even breathe as he watched them get closer to Rose and scan her vitals. Even though he knew it already, the proclamation that she was dead sent him into shock. “No,” he whispered. “No, not Rose.”

“Aww, did I kill your favorite pet?” the Master asked. “I am sorry. I thought she’d be harder to get. After all, you did say she absorbed the time vortex. But I suppose not. Humans are such weak little creatures after all.”

Just then, some guards came into the room, dragging Jack. The Master clapped his hands and said, “Tell him Doctor. Tell him the news.”

The Doctor just sat there, looking down at his hands. He couldn’t tell Jack. It would break him. The Doctor knew how much Jack loved Rose. Not the same way he loved Rose, though. Jack could flirt with her all he liked, but the Doctor knew that Jack saw Rose as his little sister.

“Tell me what?” Jack asked.

“Aw, Doctor. Do you want Jack to have to watch it too? Do you want Jack to have to share your pain?” The Master asked.

“Doctor, what’s wrong?” Jack asked.

Slowly, the Doctor raised his eyes to look at Jack. “She’s dead,” he said, unable to keep the pain out of his voice.

“Who’s dead?” Jack asked, either unwilling or unable to comprehend it.

“Rose,” the Doctor said, dropping his head into his hands.

**********************************************************************************************************************

Martha had finally given in and let some people help her move Rose’s body. They were in a nice, secluded patch of woods. Martha was making a note of memorizing every aspect of it, so that she could bring the Doctor here after everything was over. He deserved that. Rose might not have been able to see it, but Martha could. She could tell that the Doctor loved Rose with all his hearts.

She was about halfway done digging the grave when she heard a loud gasp. Looking around to see who was there, Martha nearly fainted when she saw Rose sitting up.

“Martha?” Rose asked.

“Rose?” Martha replied, hesitantly.

“Martha, what happened? The last thing I remember was a Toclafane shooting me. Now you and I are in the middle of nowhere, and you’re standing in a hole.”

“You were dead, Rose,” Martha said, still staring at the woman.

“What?” Rose asked.

“For hours. I’m sure of it. I gave you the medical examination myself,” Martha said.

Suddenly, Rose had a flashback to the Game Station. She remembered saying, “I bring life.” The Doctor thought she was talking about Jack, but she was also talking about herself. That was how she had managed to survive the time vortex so long. Bad Wolf had changed her so that she would be able to handle that—and anything else that should kill her. Bad Wolf wanted Rose to be able to fulfill her promise of forever. Even before she actually made it.

“Rose?” Martha asked.

“Sorry, I think I just realized. I’m the one that made Jack immortal. I think I might have done it to myself too,” Rose replied.

“What?” Martha asked.

“I had the entire vortex in my head. I could see all that was, all that had been, and all that could be. I probably saw this and decided that I needed to live through it. We’ll have to test the theory, but I think I’m probably as hard to kill as Jack,” Rose replied.

“Oh, no. We are not going to test that theory,” Martha argued, climbing out of the hole and moving to sit next to Rose. “I thought you were dead. I thought I was going to have to do all this on my own. We’re not going to risk that. Besides, we need to get back and let people know you’re alive. The Master had the Toclafane scan you, so I bet he already thinks you’re dead. We need to prove to him that you’re not.”

“No,” Rose said. “Let’s let him think he won.”

“What? You can’t be serious,” Martha replied.

“No, Martha. He’s crazy. He’ll sit and gloat for a little while. He’ll ease up the search for you, at least a little bit. That’ll make this easier,” Rose argued.

“But if the Doctor thinks you’re dead!” Martha exclaimed.

“I have a plan for that,” Rose replied. “You follow our normal plan. Take the regular route to Poland. I’ll take a faster one and get myself situated. When you get there, I’ll offer to start travelling with you. I can do a pretty convincing Yorkshire accent, and my roots have grown out enough. If I cut it all off so that only the dark parts are showing, then I think I’ll look different enough that no one will recognize me. And if they think I’m dead, then they won’t be looking for me.”

“How will that help the Doctor?” Martha asked.

“I’ve got something in mind for a name. A little clue to let him know I’m okay,” Rose replied.

“What’s the name?” Martha asked.

“It’s going to be really strange,” Rose replied. “I think it would be best if your reaction to it was genuine.”

“I don’t like this,” Martha sighed.

“I know, but it’s the best way to throw the Master off,” Rose argued.

**********************************************************************************************************************

It had been two days since Rose had died, and the Doctor hadn’t said a word. Not since he had told Jack that Rose was dead. The Master had still made Jack watch the video, partially so the Doctor would have to watch it again. Not that he needed it. The image of Rose lying dead was seared into his brain. He would never be able to forget it. Not as long as he lived.

Watching Rose die had made him realize a lot of things. Most of all, that he was wrong. Keeping away from Rose didn’t make losing her any easier. It just made him think back to all the moments where he had pushed her away. The pain of her death hurt, but it was the regret that was really eating him alive.

If his plan worked, then time would reset itself. But he wasn’t sure if that would work for Rose. She had been on board the Valiant when the paradox had started. Would time still reverse for her, since she wasn’t on board when the reversal happened? It was a long shot, but the Doctor clung to that hope. And to the thought that if he ever did see her again, he wouldn’t waste it. He would tell her how he felt. Hopefully, she could forgive him for being an idiot.

**********************************************************************************************************************

Martha packed up her stuff after spending the night in another slave camp in Poland. They hadn’t agreed on which camp, and Martha was getting worried. It had been two weeks since she had seen Rose. What if she had been wrong and had just hallucinated that Rose had been alive?

As she started to leave, she heard a voice yell, “Wait, Dr. Jones!”

“I’m not a doctor yet,” Martha scoffed.

“Right, sorry,” the voice said, as Martha turned around to see Rose standing there. “I just wanted to say, I want to come with you.”

Martha stuttered for a moment, trying to process that she had finally caught back up to Rose. “I-I’m sorry. I’m not looking for a travelling companion.”

“I know you lost your friend, Rose,” she said.

“I’m not looking to replace her,” Martha replied.

“And I’m not trying to,” Rose said. “I’m just trying to fight the Master. And you look lonely. Thought you might want some company.”

“What’s your name?” Martha asked.

“That’s a secret,” Rose replied. “As far as I know, my family is still out there, alive. I’m not going to go around telling my name, just so the Master can find them.”

“People have to call you something,” Martha shot back.

“Bad Wolf,” Rose said. “That’s what I’m going by.”

“Bad Wolf?” Martha asked. “That’s not a name.”

“No, it’s a message,” Rose smiled. “But can I come with you?”

Martha seemed to think about it for a moment. “I don’t live an easy life,” she said. “Already lost one friend.”

“I know,” Rose replied. “But I’m tougher than I look. They’ve trained me here in how to defend myself. Turns out I’m a pretty good marksman. Maybe I can keep you safe.”

Martha shot Rose a strange look, but then shrugged. “I’ll give you a trial period. I’m headed up to Russia to see what the Master’s doing there. You can come with me for that.”

“Thank you, Martha Jones,” Rose smiled.

“You better prove yourself though, Bad Wolf. Rose was a pretty good companion, so I’ve got high standards,” Martha said.

“Thought I wasn’t replacing her,” Rose said with a grin.

“Oh, come on. We’ve got a long walk ahead of us,” Martha said, turning and continuing on her way. Enough people had heard them that it was bound to get back to the Master.

Once they were far enough away from the camp, Martha turned to her. “Bad Wolf?”

“It’s the name I gave myself when I looked into the heart of the TARDIS,” Rose shrugged. “It’s a message to myself. One that the Doctor will recognize.”

Martha rolled her eyes. “It’s gonna be a mouthful to say Bad Wolf all the time, Rose.”

Rose looked around anxiously. “Don’t use my real name. Not till all this is over.”

“It’s just us now,” Martha said, handing Rose back her key. Rose had insisted on not having it, to make the whole thing more authentic.

“Still, let’s just make it a habit. So we don’t slip up accidentally when we’re with other people,” Rose replied.

“You sound paranoid,” Martha replied. “But fine. I’m not calling you Bad Wolf all the time though. I think I’ll shorten it to Wolf. That sounds enough like a normal nickname and won’t take me ages to say.

“Fine,” Rose replied. “Just not my real name.”

Martha shook her head. The two women were quiet for a while, until Martha said, “Wait, back there, you had a gun. Do you still have it with you?”

“Yeah,” Rose replied. “I don’t like it, but I’ve found I’m a pretty good shot. It was a bit of an accident really. I was outside, playing with some kids when a Toclafane found us. It killed the soldier we were with, and I was pretty sure it was going to kill the children. On instinct, I grabbed the soldier’s gun and fired at it. Turns out, there’s a spot on the sphere that will actually take down one of them. I got lucky and hit it. Saved the children. After that, some of the others in the camp decided I needed to actually learn how to shoot. Argued for a few days, but eventually gave in. I’ll never use it to protect myself. I don’t need it. But to take care of others? Yeah. The Toclafane can’t be reasoned with. They’re as crazy as the Master.”

“But Ro—Wolf. You don’t need that,” Martha argued.

“If it will save someone’s life, yeah, I do. You can save them with your skills, I can save them with mine,” Rose replied. “Besides, if my dreams are right, I’d have been a soldier at Torchwood in Pete’s World if I had ended up there. Seems like this is some sort of inevitability with me.”

“I’m sorry,” Martha replied.

“Thank you. Let’s just get through this year. Maybe after all is said and done, I’ll be able to go back to taking the moral high ground,” Rose said.

**********************************************************************************************************************

The Doctor didn’t even react when the Master came in fuming. He spent his time alternating between trying to tune himself in to the Archangel Network and mourning Rose. He barely registered anything the Master was saying until he heard those two fateful words. The ones that always made him fear for Rose’s safety, but now filled him with hope.

“I don’t know who this bloody, Bad Wolf is, or why Martha Jones would let them travel with her, but you need to find out. Anything you can,” he hissed in to the phone. “She was supposed to be less of a threat with Rose Tyler dead. But if she’s picking up friends… Just keep me updated.”

The Master took a deep breath to steady himself, then turned on the Doctor. “Looks like your precious Rose has been replaced, Doctor. It’s really quite a shame.”

The Doctor didn’t react. That might give something away. It was impossible that Rose was alive. He had watched her die. But who else would use the name Bad Wolf?

Chapter Text

Martha Jones was the first person out to meet the patrol as they came back. It was something that everyone knew to expect when Martha Jones and the Bad Wolf arrived. Martha spent the day telling stories and fixing people up while Wolf went out with the patrol. Then, Martha met up with the patrol, checked them all out, and Wolf told stories to the children.

At first, people thought it was strange, that Martha had Wolf tell the Doctor stories to the children. Wolf was a soldier, and from what the patrols said, a pretty good one. Some even said that she was invincible. Any time that theory was brought up, Martha would laugh and say that she had patched her up too many times for that to be the case.

On this particular day, Martha had a bad feeling. She was out waiting for the patrol before they even got back. She immediately focused on Wolf. “What’s your number?” She asked.

“75,” Rose replied.

“75? It was 72 this morning!” Martha exclaimed.

“It was a bad day,” Rose replied. “Count us. 32 went out.”

Martha did a quick count of the patrol. Counting Rose, there were only 25 people in the group. “What happened?”

“We were ambushed. 13 Toclafane in total,” she replied.

“We’d all be dead if not for the Bad Wolf,” one soldier commented.

“She saved us so many times,” another added.

“I couldn’t save everyone though,” Rose sighed. “I’m going to go inside. Get cleaned up so I can tell the stories.”

“If you don’t want to tonight…” Martha offered.

“Nah, I thought of a good one. The cat nuns,” Rose replied.

“With the motorway?” Martha asked.

“Nah, the one with Cassandra,” Rose replied, even though she knew Martha hadn’t heard that one before. It was just important to pretend like she knew all of them.

“Why does Wolf tell the stories?” One soldier asked while Martha patched him up. “You’re the one that travelled with the Doctor and lived them.”

“She’s good at it,” Martha replied. “You’ll see. And she knows all the stories I know at this point. We’ve had a lot of time to talk in the past two months. And it makes her happy. Before all of this, she never would have been a soldier. She hated guns. Still does in fact.”

“That’s hard to believe,” one man said. “She’s incredible as a marksman. How can she be that good if she hates guns?”

Martha shrugged. “She doesn’t like it, but she knows that she can save lives doing it, so she does it anyway. I hate it for her though. One day, I want to go on patrol with her. She what she sees. Maybe I could help her through her nightmares then.”

“Are you two…?” One soldier asked.

“Are we what?” Martha asked, swiveling to look at him.

“Together?” He hinted.

“Oh, oh my gosh,” Martha laughed. “No. Wolf is my best friend. But we’re both in love with someone else.”

“Oh, I’m sorry. You two just seem so close,” the man said, embarrassed.

“If anything, she’s like a sister to me. I get anxious and worry about her the same way I used to with my actual sister, Tish. You’ve never seen it, but we fight like siblings too,” Martha laughed, thinking back to the days before all this started.

“You’ve gotten really close in two months,” one man noted.

“Traveling around the world with someone, trying to stop a megalomaniac, is definitely a good bonding experience,” Martha joked.

“But you all looked patched up. Let’s get you all inside so you can hear Wolf’s storytelling. She’ll impress you, I promise,” Martha smiled. She hung near the back of the room and watched Rose dazzle the children with a story of how Rose and the Doctor stopped a bunch of evil cat nuns from experimenting on humans. And how, at the end of the day, everyone was cured and healthy.

After three months of travelling with Rose, Martha had noticed a pattern. The worse the day was for Rose, the happier the story was. When Rose finally got up and headed back to Martha, she sighed. “I know, three’s a lot for one day.”

“Wolf, we don’t know if there’s a limit to the number of times you can come back,” Martha whispered. “You’ve now died 75 times in two months. That’s insane.”

“I was able to distract the Toclafane though. Get at least some of those men out. I won’t apologize for saving lives,” Rose snapped back.

“Will you at least apologize for making me worry?” Martha replied.

“I’ll be fine. Don’t worry so much. Even if it does stick eventually, the Doctor’s not going to blame you,” Rose said.

“I’m not worried that the Doctor’s going to blame me!” Martha exclaimed. “I’m worried about you in your own right. You are my friend. You’re probably my best friend. The best I’ve ever had. You just get me. I don’t feel like I need to impress you or anything. You’ve seen me at my worst and still put up with me. So I don’t want to lose you.”

“I’m sorry, Martha. I know this is hard on you. It’s just, the only thing that’s getting me through this year, you know? Knowing that I can help people. But I’ll try to slow down. Play it a little safer. For you,” Rose replied.

“Thank you,” Martha said. “Now, come on. We’ve got a long walk to Beijing tomorrow. Let’s try to get some sleep.”

**********************************************************************************************************************

The next morning, Martha and Rose started up pretty early. Rose was still not a morning person, and the lack of tea meant that she needed at least an hour of consciousness before she was prepared to deal with anything, so Martha let them spend the morning in a semi-companionable silence.

When she finally deemed Rose ready for conversation, she said, “You’ll never guess what one of the guys from your patrol asked me yesterday.”

“What?” Rose asked, still a little grumpy.

“He asked if we were together,” Martha laughed.

“Oh my God. He didn’t!” Rose groaned.

“He did,” Martha laughed.

“What even gave him that impression?” Rose asked.

“He said something about how we were really close, and that it happened really fast,” Martha replied.

“That’s insane. Of all the conclusions to jump to,” Rose said, shaking her head.

“You’re telling me. But it made me think. I don’t know a thing about your relationships before the Doctor,” Martha replied.

“You say ‘before the Doctor’ like there’s actually a relationship there,” Rose sighed.

“Just because you can’t see that the man is mad for you, doesn’t mean I can’t. And I know how you feel,” Martha replied.

“I could say the exact same thing about you,” Rose replied.

“Yeah but teaching me things and being interested in me are two very different things. And besides, I think I’m over the Doctor,” Martha replied. Rose shot her a look and she amended that statement. “Okay, okay. I’m getting over the Doctor. But it’s more like getting over a crush than getting over a man I was planning to spend the rest of my life with. But you didn’t answer the question.”

“Well, I only really had two serious boyfriends in my life,” Rose replied. “What about you?”

“Oh, I had a couple, but never dated a guy more than three months. Was always too focused on school, and they got bored,” Martha replied. “How long were you with your boyfriends?”

“Mickey and I were together about two years, but I knew him all my life. We were childhood best friends on the Estate,” Rose shrugged.

“Why’d you two break up?” Martha asked.

“The Doctor. I ran off with him. Strung Mickey along for longer than I’d care to admit. But he was always more like a brother to me, you know? We just started dating a few months after—” Rose stopped suddenly.

“A few months after?” Martha asked.

“I don’t wanna talk about it,” Rose replied, crossing her arms and picking up her pace.

“C’mon Wolf. You started, now finish it,” Martha replied.

“A few months after Jimmy,” Rose whispered, after a long silence.

“Jimmy?” Martha asked.

“Jimmy Stone. He was my first real boyfriend. He was older than me. 19 when I was 16. He was in a band. Made me feel special. Convinced me to drop out of school and run away with him. It was brilliant for about the first month,” Rose said, shaking slightly.

Martha put an arm around her friend in comfort. “What did he do?”

“It was just little stuff, at first, you know? If I broke something, or if dinner wasn’t good, he’d shove me around a little. Never enough to leave more than a few bruises. And he’d always apologize after. Then it started to get bigger. A broken nose here, a concussion there. Always told the local hospital I was just clumsy. I thought about leaving a lot, but my mum had warned me about Jimmy. Told me if I went with him, I shouldn’t even bother coming home. So I stayed. I stayed until one day, he beat me so bad I had to have surgery to stop the internal bleeding. Mum was still my emergency contact. I wasn’t 18 yet. She showed up to the hospital in a right fury. Jimmy up and left. Mum stayed with me, and I ended up moving back in with her,” Rose explained.

“Did he just get away with it?” Martha asked.

“No, he got arrested, and he’s in jail now. Doesn’t mean I don’t still have to live with it though,” Rose sighed.

“What do you mean?” Martha asked.

“The surgery was shoddily done. Lots of scar tissue and adhesions. Made it so I can never have kids,” Rose replied.

“Oh, Ro—Wolf, I’m so sorry,” Martha muttered, pulling Rose into a hug.

“It’s fine. I don’t exactly live a life that kids would fit into anyway,” Rose shrugged, but Martha could tell it wasn’t fine. “I don’t even know if I’d have wanted kids anyway.”

“There are other options, you know?” Martha suggested.

“I may or may not be immortal Martha. I would hate to adopt a kid, only to watch it grow old and die while I looked forever young,” Rose replied. “But can we please stop talking about this?”

“Of course. But Wolf. Just know that if you ever need to talk to me, you can, okay?” Martha replied.

“I know,” Rose said, smiling shakily. “Thank you, Martha.”

**********************************************************************************************************************

“Where is Wolf?” Martha screamed through the fires. “Where is she?”

“I’m sorry, Dr. Jones,” One man said. “She’s dead. But you need to get out of here. Go, keep travelling.”

“Not without her,” Martha argued.

“But, she’s dead,” the man said.

“Just take me to her body,” Martha ordered.

“But the fires will reach here any minute. You need to leave,” the man argued.

“I want her body on my boat. I’m not leaving without her,” Martha argued.

“Yes, Dr. Jones,” the man sighed. Then he gave the order to have Rose’s body put in the small rowboat that was being prepared for Martha.

Twenty minutes later, Martha was on a boat, rowing away from Japan. Rose gasped and sat up with a start. Martha looked at her and sighed, “Is there ever going to be a pattern to how long it takes you to wake up?”

Rose shrugged. “I wake up when I need to. But what happened?”

“He burned Japan. The whole island. We barely got out alive. I tried to bring some others with us. But they insisted on staying and trying to fight the fires. They won’t last long,” Martha replied.

“Oh, Martha,” Rose sighed.

“Hey, you lose people to battle every day,” Martha shrugged. “Now I just know what it feels like. But come on, take an oar. We have a long way to go.”

Chapter Text

“Wolf, come here!” Martha called, pointing over the side of the boat. “Look, you can see the coast.”

Rose sighed. “It’s almost over.”

“Yeah,” Martha replied. “I haven’t really let myself think about it all being over.”

“Yeah, it’s just hard to imagine life after this. You know, just day to day stuff. School, jobs, holidays…” Rose said, leaning against the railing of the ship.

“You’re still going to leave him when all of this is over?” Martha asked.

“I told you,” Rose said, not taking her eyes off the British coastline. “I made my decision. He won’t be happy about it at first, cause this year has been hard on him, and he won’t want to be alone. But it’s what’s best. And I know I won’t be able to leave if I don’t do it now. Like ripping off a Band-Aid. Besides, you’re leaving too. So why are you trying to convince me not to?”

“Because it’s different. So much has changed for you!” Martha argued. “And I know you can’t see it, but I can. That man loves you. Maybe if he knew about all of the Bad Wolf stuff…”

“No,” Rose replied finally. “If I tell him about it, he’ll feel guilty, and he’ll try to fix it. That’ll kill him. And I can’t kill him again.”

“Just tell me one thing,” Martha said. “Do you love him?”

Rose didn’t say a word as she watched the English coastline draw nearer and nearer. As they climbed into the little rowboat that they would take to shore, Martha nodded. “That’s what I thought.”

They reached the shore, and a man was standing there, waiting for them. “What’s your name then?” Martha asked.

“Tom Milligan. No need to ask who you are. The famous Martha Jones and the Bad Wolf. How long since you were last in Britain?”

“Three hundred and sixty-five days. It's been a long year,” Martha sighed.

Rose snorted. “Stop being dramatic. Three hundred and sixty-three. It took two days to get out of Britain.”

Martha rolled her eyes, “Just because you’re accurate, doesn’t make you interesting.”

“But you’ve put up with me for a year,” Rose smiled, grinning over at Martha.

“Not quite a year,” Martha shot back, grinning herself. “When did I pick you up again? Poland?”

Rose just elbowed her, and Tom looked at them strangely. “Guess all the stories were right then. They said the two of you somehow managed to keep your sense of humor, even through all the terrible stuff you’ve seen.”

“What else do the stories say?” Rose asked.

“That you sailed the Atlantic, walked across America. That you were the only people to get out of Japan alive. Martha Jones and the Bad Wolf, they say, they’re going to save the world. Bit late for that,” Tom replied. “But what’s the plan?”

“This Professor Docherty. We need to see her. Can you get us there?” Martha asked.

“She works in a repair shed, Nuclear Plant Seven. I can get you inside. What's all this for? What's so important about her?” Tom asked.

“Sorry, the more you know, the more you’re at risk,” Rose replied.

They walked up to a van, and Martha asked, “How come you can drive? Don't you get stopped?”

“Medical staff. Used to be in paediatrics back in the old days. But that gives me a licence to travel so I can help out other the labour camps,” Tom shrugged.

Martha looked at Rose and rolled her eyes. “Great, we’re travelling with a doctor.”

Tom looked at Martha and said, “Story goes that you're the only person on Earth who can kill him. That you, and you alone, can kill the Master stone dead.”

“Let’s just drive,” she replied, glancing at Rose. At least they knew their cover story was working.

**********************************************************************************************************************

A few hours later, the three of them made their way into the workshop. “Professor Docherty?” Tom asked.

“Busy,” the woman replied.

“They, er, they sent word ahead. I'm Tom Milligan. This is Martha Jones and the Bad Wolf,” Tom replied.

“She can be the Queen of Sheba for all I care. I'm still busy,” Professor Docherty replied, fidgeting with a TV on her workbench.

“Televisions don’t work anymore,” Martha said.

“Oh God, I miss Countdown. Never been the same since Des took over. Both Deses. What's the plural for Des? Desi? Deseen? But we've been told there's going to be a transmission from the man himself,” she replied, finally getting a staticky black and white picture.

On screen, they saw the Master. “My people. Salutations on this, the eve of war. Lovely woman. But I know there's all sorts of whispers down there. Stories of a child, walking the Earth, giving you hope. But I ask you, how much hope has this man got? Say hello, Gandalf. Except he's not that old, but he's an alien with a much greater lifespan than you stunted little apes. But what if it showed?”

The Master rolled the Doctor out in his wheelchair and started fidgeting with his screwdriver before pointing it at the Doctor and firing. The Doctor shrank down as the Master said, “What if I suspend your capacity to regenerate? All nine hundred years of your life, Doctor. What if we could see them? Older and older and older. Down you go, Doctor. Down, down, down the years. Doctor.”

A tiny creature with a disproportionately large head peeked out from the Doctor’s clothes, and the Master looked directly into the camera. “Received and understood, Miss Jones?”

Tom looked at her and said, “I’m sorry.”

Martha shook her head. “The Doctor’s still alive.”

“Obviously the Archangel Network would seem to be the Master's greatest weakness. Fifteen satellites all around the Earth, still transmitting. That's why there's so little resistance. It's broadcasting a telepathic signal that keeps people scared,” Professor Docherty said.

“We could just take them out,” Tom suggested.

“We could. Fifteen ground to air missiles. You got any on you? Besides, any military action, the Toclafane descend,” the professor replied.

“They’re not called Toclafane. That’s a name the Master made up,” Martha interjected.

“Then what are they, then?” the professor asked.

“That’s why we came to find you. Know your enemy. We’ve got this,” Martha said, holding up a disk. “No one’s been able to look at a sphere up close. It they get damaged, they usually just explode, leaving no room for investigation. Except once. A lightning strike in South Africa brought one of them down, just by chance. And it remained intact. I've got the readings on this.”

They loaded the computer into the computer, and the professor struggled to get it to read. “Oh, whoever thought we'd miss Bill Gates,” she muttered.

“So is that why you travelled the world? To find a disc?” Tom asked.

“No. Just got lucky,” Martha shrugged.

“I heard stories that you walked the Earth to find a way to build a weapon. There! A current of fifty-eight point five kiloamperes transferred charge of five hundred and ten megajoules precisely,” the professor read.

“Can you recreate that?” Tom asked.

“I think so. Easily, yes,” she replied.

Rose smiled. “Right then. Let’s go catch us a sphere.”

They managed to catch one in an electrical field by using Rose as bait, and they took it back into the lab.

“There’s some sort of magnetic clamp,” Professor Docherty said as she examined the sphere. “Hold on, I’ll just trip the,” she said, adjusting something until the top of the sphere popped open to reveal a tiny, shriveled head. “Oh my God! It’s alive.”

“Martha, Martha Jones,” the head said.

“It knows you,” Tom gasped.

“Sweet, kind Martha Jones. You helped us to fly,” it said.

“What do you mean?” Martha asked, but Rose stepped back. She had already figured it out. She tried to pull Martha back, but Martha stayed where she was.

“You led us to salvation,” It answered.

“Who are you?” Martha asked.

“Martha, no,” Rose whispered.

“The skies are made of diamonds,” it answered.

Martha gasped and let Rose pull her back a little. “No, you can’t be him.”

“We share each other's memories. You sent him to Utopia,” the head replied.

“Oh my God,” Martha gasped.

“What's it talking about? What's it mean?” Tom asked.

“What are they?” Professor Docherty said.

“Martha. Martha, tell us. What are they?” Tom repeated.

“They're us. They're humans. The human race from the future,” Martha gasped.

Martha explained the Utopia project to them. Explained how the Master must have used the TARDIS to travel through time and then used her as a paradox machine to sustain reality.

Tom looked at the sphere when she was done, and asked, “But what about us? We're the same species. Why do you kill so many of us?”

“Because it’s fun!” the sphere declared gleefully, just before Tom shot it.

“I think it's time we had the truth, Miss Jones. The legend says you've travelled the world to find a way of killing the Master. Tell us, is it true?” Professor Docherty asked, turning to Martha.

Martha glanced at Rose, who nodded. This was important to their plan. “Just before I escaped, the Doctor told me. The Doctor and the Master, they've been coming to Earth for years. And they've been watched. There's UNIT and Torchwood, all studying Time Lords in secret. And they made this, the ultimate defense.” She pulled out a gun like object with three different colored vials.

Tom shook his head and held up his gun. “All you need to do is get close. I can shoot the Master dead with this.”

Professor Docherty shook her head. “Actually, you can put that down now, thank you very much.”

“Point is, it's not so easy to kill a Time Lord. They can regenerate. Literally bring themselves back to life,” Martha continued.

“Ah, the Master's immortal. Wonderful,” the professor snapped sarcastically.

“Except for this. Four chemicals slotted into the gun. Inject him. Kills a Time Lord permanently,” Martha explained.

“Four chemicals?” Tom asked. “You’ve only got three.”

“Still need the last one, because the components of this gun were kept safe, scattered across the world, and I found them. San Diego, Beijing, Budapest and London,” Martha replied.

“Then where is it?” Tom asked.

“There's an old UNIT base, north London. I've found the access codes. Tom, you've got to get me there,” Martha said.

“We can't get across London in the dark. It's full of wild dogs. We'll get eaten alive. We can wait till the morning, then go with the medical convoy,” Tom replied.

“You can spend the night here, if you like,” the professor offered.

“No, we can get halfway, stay at the slave quarters in Bexley. Professor, thank you,” Tom said.

“And you. Good luck,” Professor Docherty replied.

“Thanks,” Martha and Rose replied in unison.

“Martha, could you do it? Could you actually kill him?” the Professor asked, just before they left.

“I’ve got no choice,” Martha replied.

“You might be many things, but you don't look like a killer to me,” the Professor said before the three of them slipped out into the night.

**********************************************************************************************************************

They piled into a house that was packed with people. Once inside, a little boy ran up to them and asked, “Are you Martha Jones?”

“Yeah, that’s me,” she replied.

“There’s someone here that wants to see you, then,” he said, taking her hand and leading her away.

“I’ll start the stories,” Rose said. “You go.”

The boy led Martha into a small back room that was slightly less crowded. In one corner was a middle-aged woman with long brown hair. She didn’t even look up until the little boys said, “Miss Smith, it’s Martha Jones.”

The woman looked up. “Hello,” the woman said. “My name is Sarah Jane Smith.”

Martha’s jaw dropped. “You’re Sarah Jane?” She hugged the woman immediately.

Sarah Jane pulled back and looked at Martha. “I’ll admit, that was not the reaction I was expecting. I don’t know much about you. Just little bits from stories Rose would tell me when she’d call. Her focus was a bit more on the Doctor though.”

“She told me so much about you,” Martha said.

“She did?” Sarah Jane asked, skeptically. “Sorry, but from the impression I always got from her, you two weren’t exactly friends…”

“Oh, we weren’t, not before all this started,” Martha replied.

“You all must have become friends quickly. She died before you even reached Poland, right?” Sarah Jane asked.

“Oh, um, yeah,” Martha replied, noticing how many people were still in the room.

“I miss her. She was all I was going to have left, friend wise, when all of this was over,” Sarah Jane sighed.

“I thought you had a son?” Martha asked.

“I did. But he was in the 10% that the Master wiped out immediately. Completely random. We were on our way to a UNIT safehouse when it happened. Not that that would have helped for long,” Sarah Jane shrugged.

Martha was silent for a moment. “I’m so sorry about your son. I can’t help with that. But there is something else I can help with. You just have to promise not to say a word when you realize it, okay?” Martha whispered.

“What?” Sarah Jane asked.

“Come on,” Martha said, pulling Sarah Jane with her into the entry way of the house, where Rose was telling the story of the gas-mask zombies. Martha had noticed it was one of Rose’s favorites, probably because everyone lived, even after it seemed like everyone was dead. It brought a lot of hope. Rose didn’t notice the two of them sneak into the room, but Martha knew the moment Sarah Jane realized that Rose was alive. She grabbed Martha’s arm and looked at her, with tears in her eyes. “You can’t tell anyone though, remember. We’ve gone to a lot of work to pull this off,” Martha whispered.

When the story was done, and Rose had passed on the instructions, Martha sent Sarah Jane back to the much quieter back room and went up to Rose. “Hey, Wolf. There’s someone that wants to see you in the back. I’ll take over the stories from here.” Rose gave Martha a strange look, but the two women switched places. Rose didn’t even have time to register who it was before Sarah Jane hugged her. “You’re alive,” she whispered in Rose’s ear.

“Sarah Jane?” Rose whispered.

“Hello,” the older woman replied.

They sat and caught up for a few minutes, being as cryptic as they could. It wasn’t long before they heard frantic whispers and the Master shouting for Martha to come out. Rose ran back to Martha’s side. “You ready?” she whispered.

“Ready as I’ll ever be,” Martha replied.

The two women slipped off their TARDIS keys and stepped outside. “Oh, yes. Oh, very well done. Two for one. Good girls. He trained you well. Bag. Give me the bag. No, stay there. Just throw it,” the Master ordered, and Martha tossed him the bag. “And now, good companion, your work is done.”

He pointed the laser at Martha, but Tom ran out of the house at that exact moment and yelled, “No!” The Master killed him where he stood.

“But you, when you die, the Doctor should be witness, hmm? And your friend too. I’d like to see his face when he sees who you replaced his precious Rose with. Almost dawn, Martha, and planet Earth marches to war,” the Master grinned.

**********************************************************************************************************************

Martha was marched into the main room of the Valiant before Rose. She looked at Jack and the Doctor and shook her head slightly, warning them not to say anything. They were counting on the Master not recognizing Rose. When they were both in the room, Martha and Rose stood side by side and faced down the Master.

“Your teleport device, in case you thought I'd forgotten,” he said, quietly. Martha tossed the vortex manipulator up to him. “And now, both of you, kneel.”

He moved away from them and said, “Down below, the fleet is ready to launch. Two hundred thousand ships set to burn across the universe. Are we ready? Three minutes to align the black hole converters. Counting down. I never could resist a ticking clock. My children, are you ready?”

A chorus of Toclafane declared, “We will fly and blaze and slice. We will fly and blaze and slice.”

“At zero, to mark this day, the child Martha Jones, will die. My first blood,” the Master said. “But before that, her little pet. Look at her Doctor. The woman who replaced your precious Rose. From what I’ve heard, a decent soldier, but nothing compared to a companion who could absorb the time vortex.”

From where she stood on her knees, with her head bowed, Rose started laughing. “What? What’s so funny?”

Rose turned to look at Martha. “You owe me ten quid. I told you he wouldn’t notice.”

“I wouldn’t notice what?” The Master asked.

“I was never a natural blonde. Always dyed it. And I didn’t have much access to any of that the past year,” Rose replied.

Martha rolled her eyes and looked up at the Master. “I was really counting on you being a Time Lord and Time Lords being clever. I thought you’d catch on when you saw her.”

“Catch on to what?” The Master yelled.

“You really think I’d replace my best friend that quickly?” Martha asked, glancing over at Rose.

He pointed at her. “You! You! You’re supposed to be dead!”

“Sorry to disappoint,” Rose replied, grinning with her tongue between her teeth.

“But my children scanned you. You were dead. Lots of people saw it! How did you do it?” the Master demanded.

Rose snorted, “Like I’d tell you.”

“Tell me!” he roared.

“Nope,” Rose said, popping the ‘p’ just like the Doctor.

The Master took a deep breath to steady himself. “It doesn’t matter. I destroyed the gun. Stopped your plan.”

Rose and Martha looked at each other and then began laughing hysterically. Every time they looked at each other, they only laughed harder. The Doctor was reminded of when he walked in on Sarah Jane and Rose laughing in the Deffrey Vale classroom.

“What?” the Master roared again, his temper flaring.

“A gun?” Rose asked.

“What about it?” he replied.

“A gun in four parts?” Martha echoed.

“Yes,” he said. “And I destroyed it.”

“A gun in four parts scattered across the world? I mean, come on, did you really believe that?” Rose laughed.

“What do you mean?” The Master asked.

“As if I would ask them to kill,” The Doctor replied from his cage.

“Oh well, it doesn’t matter. Now I’ve got them both exactly where I want them,” the Master replied, pointing the laser screwdriver at them.

“But we knew what Professor Docherty would do. The Resistance knew about her son,” Martha said. “We told her about the gun, so she’d get us here at the right time.”

“Oh, but you’re still going to die,” the Master replied.

“But don’t you want to know what we were doing? Travelling the world?” Rose asked.

“Tell me,” the Master said, sitting down on the stairs.

“We told stories, that’s all. No weapons, just words. We did just what the Doctor said. We went across all the continents on our own. And everywhere we went, we found the people, and we told them our stories. We told them about the Doctor. And we told them to pass it on, to spread the word so that everyone would know about the Doctor,” Martha said.

“Faith and hope? Is that all?” the Master asked.

“No,” Rose said, standing up and helping Martha up with her. “Because we gave them an instruction, just like the Doctor said. We told them that if everyone thinks of one word, at one specific time—”

“Nothing will happen. Is that your weapon? Prayer?” the Master laughed.

“Right across the world, one word, just one thought at one moment but with fifteen satellites,” Martha finished.

“What?” the Master asked.

“The Archangel Network,” Jack smiled from behind them.

“A telepathic field binding the whole human race together, with all of them, every single person on Earth, thinking the same thing at the same time. And that word is Doctor,” Rose smiled.

Behind the Master, his countdown hit zero, and the Doctor started to glow. The cage disintegrated, and the Doctor regrew to all of his former glory.

“Stop it. No, no, no, no, you don't,” the Master cried.

The Doctor was floating about a foot off the ground still glowing. Everyone in the room was chanting, “Doctor,” but he had eyes only for one person. He couldn’t seem to take his eyes off Rose. He had hoped, as soon as he heard the words Bad Wolf, but he hadn’t dared to believe. It would have been too painful to be wrong. But there she was. Just a few feet in front of him. Alive and well.

“Stop this right now. Stop it!” the Master yelled as the Doctor floated over to him.

“I've had a whole year to tune myself into the psychic network and integrate with its matrices,” the Doctor declared, tearing his eyes off Rose to look at the Master. “The one thing you can't do. Stop them thinking. Tell me the human race is degenerate now, when they can do this.”

Martha ran to her family, and Rose ran to hug Jack. The Master aimed his laser screwdriver at the Doctor and fired, but it just glanced off the energy field around him. “I’m sorry,” the Doctor said, “I’m so sorry.”

“Then I'll kill them!” The Master yelled, aiming it at Martha’s family. But the Doctor stretched out a hand, and the screwdriver flew from the Master’s grasp. “You can't do this. You can't do it. It's not fair!”

“And you know what happens now,” the Doctor sighed.

“No! No! No! No!” the Master screamed, cowering in a corner.

The Doctor floated toward him as he continued to protest. The glow dissipated as the Doctor crouched near him. “You wouldn't listen. Because you know what I'm going to say.” Then the Doctor’s voice dropped to a whisper and he said, “I forgive you.”

“My children!” the Master screamed. Thousands of spheres flew toward the Valiant, determined to protect the paradox.

“Captain, the paradox machine!” the Doctor yelled.

“You men, with me!” Jack yelled. He turned to Rose and Martha and the rest of the Jones family. “You, stay here.”

Rose rolled her eyes and looked at Martha. “I’m going to go help him,” she said, picking up a discarded weapon from the floor.

“What’s your number?” Martha asked, grabbing Rose’s arm before she left.

“113,” Rose replied.

“Okay, be safe,” Martha replied.

“I’ll do my best,” Rose replied before running after Jack.

“Rosie! Go back. I thought I lost you once this year,” Jack yelled.

“I’m tougher than I look, Jack,” Rose replied. “And a bit more like you than you’d think.”

They all faced the TARDIS and tried firing at the handful of Toclafane guarding it. One of the guards yelled, “Can't get in. We'd get slaughtered.”

“Yeah, happens to me a lot,” Jack and Rose replied in unison. He shot her a questioning glance before she ran for the TARDIS, and he followed behind.

The moment she reached the TARDIS, Rose laid a hand on a coral strut. “I’m sorry Old Girl.” Then she and Jack fired at the Paradox Machine surrounding the console.

**********************************************************************************************************************

Back on the flight deck, the Doctor and the Master reappeared from their little showdown, and everything jolted as the ship shook. “Everyone get down! Time is reversing!” The Doctor yelled. Martha was thrown into his arms, and he immediately asked, “Where’s Rose?”

“She went with Jack,” Martha replied.

“But she’ll get killed! I already thought I lost her once!” The Doctor exclaimed.

“Trust me, Doctor. She’ll be fine,” Martha replied cryptically. She knew it wasn’t her place to say anything about Rose’s newfound immortality.

When the ship stopped shaking, the Doctor jumped up and ran to the window, where everything was back to normal. “The paradox is broken. We've reverted back, one year and one day. Two minutes past eight in the morning. Just after the President was killed, but just before the spheres arrived. Everything back to normal. Planet Earth restored. None of it happened. The rockets, the terror. It never was.”

“What about the spheres?” Martha asked.

“Trapped at the end of the universe,” the Doctor replied.

“But I can remember it,” Francine Jones argued.

“We're at the eye of the storm. The only ones who'll ever know. Oh, hello. You must be Mister Jones. We haven't actually met,” the Doctor replied, introducing himself to Martha’s dad.

Jack and Rose entered the room just as the Master was trying to make a break for it. “Whoa, big fella! You don't want to miss the party. Cuffs. So, what do we do with this one?”

“We kill him,” Clive said.

“We execute him,” Tish insisted.

“No, that’s not the solution,” the Doctor said.

Behind him, Francine raised a gun that she had stolen and pointed it at the Master. “Oh, I think so. Because all those things, they still happened because of him. I saw them.”

“Go on, do it,” the Master taunted.

But Rose reached Francine first, “Hey, I know you don’t know me. But I feel like I know you, after spending a year with Martha. And you’re better than him. All that horrible stuff, that legacy of violence? If you kill him now, you just perpetuate it.” Francine looked at her, and then let Rose take the gun away. Rose sighed in relief.

“You still haven't answered the question. What happens to me?” the Master asked.

“You're my responsibility from now on. The only Time Lord left in existence,” the Doctor replied.

“Yeah,” Jack said. “But you can’t trust him.”

“No. The only safe place for him is the TARDIS,” the Doctor replied.

“You mean you’re just going to keep me?” the Master asked.

“Mmm. If that's what I have to do. It's time to change. Maybe I've been wandering for too long. Now I've got someone to care for,” the Doctor replied.

Before anyone could say anything else, the Master’s wife shot him. She was just standing there in shock. No one was really surprised, after the way she had been treated that year. But the Doctor reached forward to cradle the Master, and Jack took the gun from Lucy.

“There you go. I've got you. I've got you,” the Doctor whispered.

“Always the women,” the Master remarked.

“I didn’t see her,” the Doctor insisted.

“Dying in your arms. Happy now?” the Master asked.

“You're not dying. Don't be stupid. It's only a bullet. Just regenerate,” the Doctor cried.

“No,” the Master grinned.

“One little bullet. Come on,” the Doctor said, rocking the Master back and forth.

“I guess you don't know me so well. I refuse,” the Master said.

“Regenerate. Just regenerate. Please. Please! Just regenerate. Come on,” the Doctor pleaded.

“And spend the rest of my life imprisoned with you?” the Master snorted.

“You've got to. Come on. It can't end like this. You and me, all the things we've done. Axons. Remember the Axons? And the Daleks. We're the only two left. There's no one else. Regenerate!” the Doctor begged.

“How about that. I win. Will it stop, Doctor? The drumming. Will it stop?” the Master asked, before finally dying in the Doctor’s arms.

“No!” The Doctor yelled. And Rose couldn’t help it. For all she wanted to stay away from the Doctor, he looked so helpless in that moment that she couldn’t help hugging him as he mourned his former friend.

Chapter Text

Hours later, Rose and Martha were back in the TARDIS, having both cleaned themselves up. Martha was sitting on Rose’s bed and Rose was in her bathroom while the Doctor performed a traditional Gallifreyan funeral for the Master.

“Wolf, are you sure about this? Are you sure you’re gonna leave?” Martha asked.

“It’s all over Martha,” Rose replied. “You can go back to using my name.”

“Sorry,” Martha laughed. “I’ve spent so long calling you Wolf, it’s gonna be hard to switch back.”

“Will this help?” Rose asked, coming out of the bathroom, her hair now blonde again. A slightly more honey shade than before but still blonde.

A wolf-whistle from the door made Martha and Rose turn to see Jack standing there. “Looking good Rosie,” Jack said.

“Thanks,” Rose replied. “Now come on in and shut the door.”

“Oh, are we having a secret meeting in here?” Jack asked, plopping down next to Martha on the bed.

“I’m trying to convince Rose to either stay with the Doctor or come live with me,” Martha replied.

“And I’ve told you a million times why I can’t do either of those things,” Rose sighed.

“So, what are you going to do?” Jack asked.

“Well,” Rose shrugged. “I was going to ask if I could go with you?”

“Go with me?” Jack asked.

“Yeah, and work at Torchwood in Cardiff,” Rose said. “I was going to go live with Sarah Jane in London, but it’d be much easier to get away with the whole faking my death thing if I was living in Cardiff, and I think I know a bit about aliens. Maybe I could be useful?”

“Rose, of course you can come stay with me, but I think you need to seriously consider staying with the Doctor,” Jack replied.

“Why? Because he needs someone?” Rose asked angrily. “He’ll find someone else. He always does. And it’s not fair to me to stay. I’m good enough, on my own. I learned that this year. But if I’m here, always fighting for his attention with the newest companion? I’ll go mad. I can’t do that forever, and my forever’s going to be pretty long.”

“How long?” Jack asked. “Cause earlier you said…”

“That reminds me!” Martha interrupted. “What’s your number?”

“114,” Rose replied.

Martha sighed, “I guess it could be worse…”

“What’s that mean? Your number?” Jack asked.

“It’s the number of times I’ve died,” Rose replied.

“114? You’ve died that many times?” Jack exclaimed. “But, how?”

Rose shrugged. “Martha and I didn’t trick the Toclafane. I really did die. Then I woke up a few hours later. It kept happening. I realized I’m like you. I can’t die.”

“Oh, Rose,” Jack sighed.

“You are literally the last person that can feel sorry for me,” Rose said, shaking her head. “I did the same thing to you. At least I did this to myself.”

“Still,” Jack sighed.

“Just, can I come with you?” Rose asked.

“Of course,” Jack said, giving her a hug. “But I still think you need to think about staying with the Doctor. You didn’t see the look on his face when he thought you were dead.”

“Guilt,” she replied.

“C’mon, Rose. Is there anything he could stay that would convince you to stay?” Martha asked.

“Oh, I don’t know,” Rose sighed. “He’d have to have a pretty good explanation for why he’s been acting the way he has been. He’d have to say that he loved me. And he’d have to say that he’d be willing to try to make it work, even with a human lifespan.”

“But you probably don’t have a human lifespan,” Martha argued.

“Yeah, but he doesn’t know that. And if he was willing to try to make that work, I’d know that he meant it, you know?” Rose replied. “But you both have to promise that you won’t say anything to him. He’s got to do it on his own.”

“Fine,” they replied, glancing at each other. “We promise.”

“Thank you,” Rose smiled.

“But you both have to promise me something,” Martha said, turning to face Rose and Jack. “I have a feeling you’re both a little jeopardy friendly, and don’t take your own safety into account. I know Rose is, and I have a feeling you are too Jack. So, I need you two to hold each other accountable. Just promise me that if you die, you’ll tell the other about it as soon as you can.”

“Why tell each other, not you?” Rose asked.

“Because I’m getting ready to finish exams. I don’t need that kind of anxiety in my life. And besides, I’ll only be around for like, 80 more years. You two have forever,” Martha replied.

“But what will telling each other do?” Jack asked.

Martha rolled her eyes. “You both want to take care of the other. I have a feeling that extends to keeping the other alive. You’re not going to want to tell the other. It might make you think twice about doing something stupid.”

“Alright, we promise,” Rose sighed.

“Good. And you’re also coming to Christmas with my family,” Martha said. When Rose went to protest, Martha stopped her. “After this year, you’re like a sister to me. That means you’re family. And family comes to Christmas.”

Rose smiled, “Alright then. If you’re sure your mum won’t mind.”

“She won’t,” Martha insisted.

“And I’ll be at your graduation when you finally become a doctor for real,” Rose smiled.

“You better,” Martha grinned.

The three of them sat and laughed until Rose sat up straight. The TARDIS was telling her it was time to go. “The Doctor is flying to your house Martha.”

“Time to go home then,” Martha sighed, picking up her bag. Rose did the same with her own, and they all made their way to the console room. Jack and Martha hung back for a second and whispered something, but when Rose turned around to see what was up, they both did their best to look completely innocent. Rose shook her head and continued on to the console room.

“Oh, there you all are. I was just getting ready to come looking for you. Martha, I thought you might want to see your family all settled,” the Doctor smiled.

“Thing is, I’m staying though,” Martha said. “It’s time I finish up school, become a doctor myself.”

“Right,” the Doctor said, looking down. “Of course.”

“Spent all these years training to be a doctor. Now I've got people to look after. They saw half the planet slaughtered and they're devastated. I can't leave them,” Martha said.

“Of course not. Thank you. Martha Jones, you saved the world,” the Doctor said.

“Yes, I did. I spent a lot of time with you thinking I was second best, but you know what? I am good,” Martha said, smiling at Rose. “And I got a brilliant best friend out of the deal. You promise you’ll visit?”

Rose hugged Martha and said, “Yeah, and I’ll call so much you get sick of me.”

“I’m counting on it,” she laughed. Then she hugged Jack and the Doctor in turn and stepped down the TARDIS ramp. “Right then. Bye.”

Martha was barely out of the TARDIS for two seconds before she opened the door and looked at Rose. “You sure?”

“Yes,” Rose laughed. “Now go see your family!”

“Right, bye. For real this time,” Martha said before finally leaving the TARDIS.

Without a word, the Doctor flew the TARDIS to Cardiff. He walked out first, followed by Jack. Rose hung around for a second and placed her hand on the console. “I’m sorry, Old Girl. I just, I have to do this. Maybe one day I’ll come back. Forever’s a long time, you know. But I’ll miss you.”

Rose could feel the love radiating from the TARDIS. It gave her the courage to pick up her bag and throw it on her shoulder. When she got out, she heard the Doctor say, “I really don't mind, though. Come with me.”

“I had plenty of time to think that past year, the year that never was, and I kept thinking about that team of mine. Like you said, Doctor, responsibility,” Jack replied.

“Defending the Earth. Can’t argue with that,” the Doctor said, before turning to look at Rose. “What’s that?” he asked, looking at her bag.

“It’s my stuff,” she replied.

“But what do you have that for?” the Doctor asked.

“I’m going to go with Jack. Work for Torchwood,” Rose replied.

“But—what?” he asked, clearly still confused. He might have tried to convince the others to stay, but it was a half-hearted attempt. All he really wanted was to get Rose alone and grovel for her forgiveness. He had eleven months thinking about exactly how he would tell her he loved her. None of his possible scenarios had involved her leaving though.

Rose sighed. “Before all this happened, I asked you to take me to Sarah Jane’s. I was gonna move in with her. But I thought about it over the past year, and it’s safer for me to be in Cardiff. And I’ll have a job. One that I’ll be good at. Cause I reckon I know a thing or two about aliens.”

“But why do you have to go anywhere?” the Doctor asked, his brain still trying to catch up.

Rose shook her head. “I may not have any fancy degrees or almost be a doctor, but I’m not stupid. I can tell where I’m not wanted.” The Doctor started to protest, but Rose held up a hand. “Oh, you might want me around now, cause you’re lonely. But that’s not fair to me. Because what am I supposed to do when you find someone else? Someone much smarter and more interesting than me? I won’t go back to being ignored cause it’s convenient for you. I disappeared for weeks, and you didn’t say a thing about it. You hardly look at me. You won’t explain anything cause it’s apparently ‘too complicated’ for someone like me. I can’t live like that Doctor. I felt the same way Martha did. That I was second best. But I shouldn’t be. I’m good enough. And I want to be treated like it.”

“Rose,” the Doctor pleaded.

“No, Doctor,” Rose said, setting down her bag and crossing her arms. “I deserve better than how you’ve been treating me.”

The Doctor took a step forward and put a hand on Rose’s cheek. Unbeknownst to either of them, Jack was dialing Martha up and putting her on speaker phone so she could hear.

“You do,” the Doctor said. “You do deserve better. And I’m sorry. I’ve pushed you away for ages. Because I was scared. You aren’t like any other companion I’ve ever travelled with, and that terrified me. I’ve known how I felt for a long time now, but I always thought I wouldn’t be able to stand losing you if we got any closer. If we crossed that line. But it’s been getting harder and harder to say back from that line. So I tried pushing you away.”

“Doctor,” Rose said, unsure if she wanted him to stop or keep going.

“But I was wrong,” the Doctor continued, bringing his other hand up to Rose’s other cheek. “I was already too far gone. When I thought I watched you die, it broke me. I didn’t want to go on. But the worst part was the regret. I kept thinking of all those moments when I could have told you or shown you how I felt. I realized that it was all for nothing. Because I love you, Rose Tyler. I love you with all of my hearts. Crossing that line won’t make it hurt any more when I lose you. It would just mean that I have more happy memories to cling to. Because that’s what kept me going. Remembering your smile or your laugh. Remembering the feeling of your hand in mine. Losing you will destroy me one day, but I need those good memories. They don’t make the pain worse, they make it better. They make me better. They give me a reason to live on. To be the man you think I am. Or at least, the one you used to think I was, before I went and screwed all of this up with my bloody rules.”

Both of them were crying. All Rose could say was, “Doctor.”

“If you still want to leave, I won’t blame you. You deserve better than me. You deserve better than how I’ve treated you. But, if by some miracle, you choose to stay with me, I swear to you, I will spend the rest of your life making it up to you. Showing you how I feel. Because you are worth it. Even though I’m going to lose you someday, I will cherish every moment I have with you. I promise. I will love you all of your life, and even after that. I will love you until the year one hundred trillion, when the stars burn out and time devours everything,” the Doctor said, closing his eyes and placing his forehead on Rose’s as the tears streamed down his face.

Rose didn’t know what to say. He had said everything in her impossible checklist. And she believed him. She really believed that he meant every word he said. So, with a deep breath to steady herself, Rose decided she wouldn’t say anything. She would show him how she felt.

She leaned up and pressed her lips to his, letting her arms snake around his neck. It took a moment, but he lowered his arms to wrap them around her waist.

She didn’t know how long they stood there, like that, until she vaguely heard Jack yell, “Martha, now you owe me ten quid!”

“Oh come on!” Rose heard Martha exclaim through the speaker of Jack’s phone. “That’s twenty quid today alone. Don’t you all know I’m a student?”

Rose pulled back to look at Jack. He just shrugged and said, “We made a bet as to how long it would take you two to figure this out. Martha said a day, and I said he wouldn’t be able to leave without you. I saw the look on his face when he thought you died, and I knew he wasn’t going to waste his chance.”

Rose looked back at the Doctor, who was still holding her close, but who was now smiling. “So, how long are you going to stay with me?” he asked.

“Forever,” Rose smiled, leaning up to kiss him again. He didn’t know how seriously she meant that, but he’d find out in good time. At the moment, all she wanted to do was go home. They could figure everything else out later.