There was a soft brushing sound as the bottom of the heavy hotel door skimmed the top of the carpet, followed by an almost inaudible click as the door's lock engaged.
And then they were alone. For the first time since the whole mess with Davros and the Reality Bomb began.
No, actually for the first time since the Battle of Canary Wharf, where he had lost her. For good, he'd been convinced. Lost to a different universe. Never again to travel with her, never again to have the same ground underneath their feet, never again to stand hand in hand underneath the same skies with the same stars overhead.
Never, he'd believed, to be in the same room again with her, close enough to feel the warmth of her skin, breathe the same air as she, warmed from being within her lungs, within her body only moments earlier…
Thoughts of the warmth of her body, of the last time they had truly been alone flooded his mind, of hot human skin, a burning human mouth, leaving searing kisses trailing down his chest and stomach only to engulf him… Five hundred and twenty-three, and three thousand six hundred and nine to three thousand six hundred and twelve inclusive, he thought absently, as his newly part human body began to react to the memory. No, he told himself firmly. Time and a place. And based on Rose's body language this was clearly neither.
And it hadn't happened with this him anyway. That had been the other him. The other Doctor. Under normal circumstances—and when had anything in his long, long life ever been considered normal, even for Time Lords—a previous regeneration would have been just that. Previous. Past. Gone. Finito. Not out and about walking around playing judge, jury, and matchmaker for his errant twin, his accidentally-created semi-cloned metacrisis self.
If you looked at it that way, from that certain, very specific point of view, this was the first time he'd ever been alone with her. In this universe, that universe, any universe.
No, he wouldn't think that way. He knew who he was.
Now if only he could be sure she did.
A gust of wind, from the storm that had prevented their return by zeppelin to Pete's World's London, rattled the old-fashioned window, cracked open at the top to allow for air circulation despite the storm. A spate of hard rain rat-a-tatted for a moment on the glass before the wind shifted again.
"Atmospheric disturbance, made worse from the dimensional retroclosure," he stated, more to fill the increasingly awkward silence than out of any real need to inform. "We'll get quite a bit of this for a couple of days."
"You said that before," Rose said without turning.
It was the first thing she had said since that horrible (wonderful) scene on the beach. Never normally at a loss for words, she had seemingly been struck dumb by the disappearance of the TARDIS and the belief—clearly written all over her face—that this time she had truly been left behind.
Oh, Rose, he'd thought at the time, if you only knew…
"Did I?" he asked indifferently.
She didn't answer. The wind howled through the narrow opening between sash and frame, filling the room with a high-pitched whine. She crossed the room to the window and shoved it upward. When it threatened to slide back down, she snapped the lock closed.
"Rose," he began.
"I'm gonna take a shower," she said, interrupting him. She pulled off her leather jacket. As she draped it over a chair, she toed off her shoes. "Can't remember the last time I had one. God, I must absolutely reek."
"Rose," he began again.
She finally looked at him, for the first time since they'd left Bad Wolf Bay. "Not now, yeah? I'm tired, I'm cold, I'm soaking wet, I've got sand in places I didn't even know I had, I haven't eaten in, fuck, I don't even know when. I just… just…" She held up her hands with a stopping motion. "Just give me a mo."
Before he could answer, she slipped into the bathroom. The lock on the door engaged with a loud click.
Locking him out.
Definitely not an auspicious beginning.
The water in the bathroom turned on, the pipes groaning in protest. He shivered. While waiting for transport to Bergen, they'd been caught in a sudden downburst, soaking them to the skin. His own suit, TARDIS created, was only water resistant, not water proof, and he'd managed to get as wet as Rose and Jackie had. In fact, with the leather jacket Rose had been wearing, she'd probably stayed drier than he.
"Not that it was a competition or anything," he said aloud. Although they'd competed on more bizarre things than that. Back in the old days. The wager with Queen Victoria had just been the beginning. There'd been wagers on sledging, on skiing, on games of checkers and billiards, on who could finish their pie the quickest. Stupid things. Pointless things.
The things that had made up a happy life.
He sighed. So long ago. A lifetime ago.
Literally. For him at any rate.
He shivered again, wishing things were different. Time was when he could have joined her in that shower she was having. Clearly not an option now, not when she had so pointedly locked the door.
For the first time, he looked around the room that Jackie had booked them into. It was just a typical hotel room. A bit more upscale than most perhaps, as befitted her current status as wife of a billionaire, but still just a hotel room, similar to rooms in hotels located in every major city on every human-settled planet and asteroid he'd ever visited. A large, flat-screen television hung on one wall, and inoffensive, mass-produced paintings of the city and surrounding countryside hung on the others—serving to remind the weary traveler where he was in case he'd forgotten—along with the obligatory list of dos and don'ts and emergency instructions that were secured to the wall next to the door. Three tan leather arm chairs, one of which currently held Rose's blue leather jacket, flanked a small glass dining table, while a fourth was pushed against a small desk made of a light-colored wood. The same wood had been used for the tiny bedside tables and the gigantic headboard that hung on the wall over the bed.
The huge, and singular, bed.
Still somewhat in shock—from his birth and the emotional crash that inevitably came after post-regeneration mania, from the reduction (and in some cases flat out truncation) of a dozen of his senses due to the metacrisis, from the abandonment in the parallel universe and Rose's slightly schizophrenic reaction to him, and from a dozen other things—when they'd arrived at the hotel, he'd barely paid attention when Jackie had pressed a room key into his hand (only noting, with relief, that he was sharing with Rose and not both she and Jackie).
Disheveled, bedraggled, and dripping wet, as soon as they'd walked into the old-fashioned Grand Hotel in Bergen, they had been informed primly by the tall, thin clerk behind the reservation desk that due to the inclement weather the hotel was full up, and he vaguely recalled having quipped something about there being no room at the inn and mangers, something that had earned him an odd look from the desk clerk and a poke from Jackie, but no response whatsoever from Rose.
But somehow—perhaps it was the Tyler name or the Vitex Corporation or Jackie's casual namedropping of Harriet Jones and the Prime Minister of Norway or maybe simply the jet-black credit card Jackie had pulled out from somewhere—the clerk had managed to find not one, but two large rooms located on the top floor of the hotel.
Well, at least Rose hadn't objected to sharing with him. Perhaps the situation wasn't as bad as it appeared. Certainly it could be worse.
If he had learned anything over the past centuries, things could always be worse.
Shivering, he slipped out of his blue pinstriped jacket and hung it up in the cupboard, leaving the mirrored door open to allow it to dry.
Never before had he been so grateful for Jackie Tyler. He didn't know what he would have done without her, stranded on an alien planet in an alien universe, without resources, without the TARDIS…
A wave of panic began to well up within him. No, he couldn't go there yet. The loss of the TARDIS—his ship, his home, his last connection to his past and his people, and for years his only telepathic link—was too new, too fresh, the lack of a link too raw to be dealt with yet. And the tiny chunk of TARDIS coral, given to him by his other self and buried deep within his pocket, wasn't large enough to form a telepathic bond.
In an attempt to calm himself, he took a deep, cleansing breath, filling his now mostly human lungs with air and holding it for a moment, two, three, four, before slowly blowing it out. For a second as he exhaled, the air in front of him glittered with golden regeneration energy. As he watched it dissipate—that visible reminder of all he'd lost in the metacrisis—the panicky feeling returned, this time threatening to overwhelm him.
This was his last regeneration. This was it. No more lives after this. After possibly half a dozen short decades (assuming he was lucky, and with his track record that wasn't at all likely), it would be all over. No more him.
He exhaled again, and when he again saw a golden glow, he irrationally wanted to suck it back in, trap the excess regeneration energy within himself, storing it for some sort of unnamed future emergency as it were, but that was nonsense. Regeneration energy didn't work that way. It wasn't like nanogenes, to be stored in a jar and let out in times of crisis. Excess regeneration energy had to be released; too much artron energy, the primary ingredient of regeneration energy, was as deadly to Time Lords as a lack of it was. And if it were deadly to Time Lords, what would it do to a frail, Time Lord/human hybrid caused by a metacrisis?
Nothing good, of that much he was certain.
A sudden shooting pain, emanating from somewhere behind his left eye, distracted him from his maudlin thoughts. He winced. Sinking down on the foot of the bed, he rubbed his temple vigorously and closed his eyes. That proved to be a mistake; in his mind's eye, all he could see were Daleks. Daleks everywhere. Daleks threatening, killing everyone he'd ever cared about.
"No," he muttered. He'd killed them, he reminded himself.
Jumping up from the bed, he launched himself at the window, unlocking it and throwing up the sash. He stuck his head out, taking deep gulps of air and willing his newly-singular heart to slow.
He'd killed them.
As the rain stung his face, his voice—but not his voice, not anymore—echoed in his ears.
He committed genocide. He's too dangerous to be left on his own.
He'd killed them. He'd killed them all.
And what's more, given the same set of circumstances, he'd do it again.
What did that make him? A hero? A savior?
He was afraid of the answer.
A voice from the past echoed in his mind. Rose's voice.
What about you, Doctor? What the hell are you changing into?