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Love Fiercely

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Pete’s World, late 2018

“Run!” the Doctor cried, with Rose and Martha trailing a few steps behind. They ran through shelves and pallets, looking for a place to hide in the dimly lit warehouse. A beast with seven legs and green slimy skin was after them.

“Where to?!” Rose asked, panting to keep up.

“We need to put a barrier between him and us, the larger and stronger the better.” He said. “Martha, ideas?”

“Loading dock! One hundred meters ahead!” Martha sped up.

They made it outside the building, and closed the docking bay. The Doctor sealed it with the sonic screwdriver. The three of them caught their breaths.

“Are you okay?” the Doctor looked at Rose, concerned.

“Yeah, I’m fine.” She hoped Martha didn’t mind the Doctor gave her a little extra attention. She was his wife, after all. She doubted it. The three of them had been working together for years. He’d joined Torchwood shortly after they’d been left in this universe by the original Doctor. This Doctor insisted on recruiting Martha, given how much her counterpart had impressed him. She’d only met the other Martha once, when she’d gone back, but this Martha had been a good friend to her.

Martha pulled out her phone and took a few readings. “No noise. No signs the door is compromised. What was that thing?”

“Pretty sure it was a Wadil. They’re strong and they’re vicious, but they’re non-sentient. Which means someone else brought it here.” He took his screwdriver out of his pocket. “Let’s take a walk around the building. Stay close.”

They walked through the parking lot. Suddenly the Doctor stopped. “I heard something. Over there.” He pointed to some parked cars. “Stay here.” He told them.

He walked towards the noise “I’ve trapped your attack animal.” He pulled another device out of his pocket and pushed a few buttons. “This is a targeted EMP. It will disable all of your weapons and communications. It’ll render the car useless, but we’ll worry about that later. In other words, you’re alone, you’re disarmed, and you’re defenseless. I suggest you surrender.”

Then a black fur covered beast rose out of a car shadow, seeming to get taller with each second. His mouth dropped open. “Oh no.” He turned around and shouted “Run! Run now!”

Rose turned around and ran in the direction they’d come. A deafening blast rang through the air, she felt herself fly off the ground, and then everything went black.

“Rose, Rose, can you hear me?” She slowly opened her eyes. She ached all over, but the worst pain in her right leg, sharp and intense. Her ears were still ringing. Martha was crouched over her. Her cheek was cut and her clothes were torn. “Don’t try to get up. Your leg is broken.” She tapped a few buttons on her phone “You’ve also got a concussion and some cracked ribs. The medical team is on their way.”

“What happened?” she asked.

“That creature, whatever it was, blew itself up. There’s bits of hair and skin all over the place. Must’ve known it was trapped and employed its only defense.”

“Hell of a defense.” Rose’s breathing was ragged and painful. “Where’s the Doctor?”

Martha’s face turned grim. “Rose…he was closer to the center of the blast. He got thrown against the wall and…he didn’t make it. I’m sorry.”

She went on to explain he’d had a massive skull fracture and he’d died instantly. But Rose didn’t hear any of that. She alternated between screaming and crying for what seemed like ages. She only stopped when the medic arrive and gave her a sedative, forcing her into unconsciousness.

Rose spent a week in the hospital. She was repeatedly told she was lucky to be alive, but the only thing she felt she was grateful were the drugs, because they let her sleep. Being awake was far too painful. The only other thing that helped her feel better at all was her nurse nurse, a recent widow herself. She told Rose the people that we love have a way of coming back to us. It helped her feel better enough to get out of bed, put one foot in front of the other, to go home.

Time passed. Her bones and her head got better. Her heart did not.

--

Six months later

Rose sat on the couch, trying to will herself to get up. She had good days and bad days. This was a bad day.

She’d spent her days trying to find motivation to do anything, but she couldn’t move on without the Doctor. Losing him the second time, knowing he was dead, was even harder.

Her parents had come over to pack up. They had gently suggested she sell her flat. A fresh start would help her mood. She was going along with it, but she didn’t feel terribly motivated to pack up. What was the point of a fresh start alone?

Her phone buzzed. It was Martha. She called at least once a week to check in on her, though it was unusual for her to call in the middle of the day. “Hi Martha.”

“Rose! We discovered something amazing!” Martha was excited “You’re not gonna believe it!”

“I don’t want to hear about work…” Martha had been trying to entice her to return for weeks, but she didn’t feel ready to return. She wasn’t sure if she ever would.

“You’ll want to hear this. We were called to investigate a weird glowing in a cave by the seaside. There was a portal inside the cave. We sent a probe through and…it’s an interdimensional portal. It’s connected to your universe. I’m going to send you the readings, but we verified them all.”

“Back to my universe…back to the Doctor!” Rose cried. Her heart surged.

“There’s just one thing…we’re not sure how stable it is.” Martha warned “We think it may come in and out of existence. We’re not sure how much longer it will be around.”

“I need to go through, Martha.”

“Yeah, we thought you’d say that. We can meet you there in three hours. I’ll send you the coordinates.” They said goodbye and hung up.


Jackie and Pete came in to the master bedroom and found Rose stuffing clothes into a backpack. “Mum and Dad, I’m going back” She explained what Martha had told her.

“What? No, you’re not going anywhere. Sit down and let’s discuss this.” Jackie was stern.

“No time. We don’t know how stable the portal is. I’m going.” She finished with the clothes, grabbed her tablet, and a few wads of cash. The currency here was similar enough to that of her home word, she hoped nobody looked too closely.

“Rose, calm down. Think about this. What if you die trying to go through the portal?” Jackie asked.

“No reason to think that’s true. The probe was completely undamaged.” Rose zipped up her bag.

“At least let them send an animal through first. Maybe a dog.” Pete added.

“What do you have against dogs?!” Jackie looked at him “Anyway, What if something changes and you end up on another planet? What if the Doctor is no longer coming to Earth?” Jackie looked near tears.

Rose stopped to look at her. “Sorry, Mum. I have to take the chance. It’s been great, this time with you, Dad, and Tony, all together again.” Her voice broke a little “I’m going to miss you all. But without the Doctor…it feels like part of me is missing. I have another chance to get him back. You left our lives behind to be with Dad again, right?”

Jackie nodded “Yeah.” She paused. “I understand. Plus there’s no stoppin’ you when your mind is made up. At least let us drive you to the site.”

 

After a lengthy drive with Rose urging her father to go faster and him saying she wasn’t going to leave the universe with him stuck with speeding tickets, The Tylers arrived at the site. Pete parked in a gravel lot adjacent to a nearby beach. Martha approached them as soon as they stopped. “We came as fast as we could.” Rose told her “Any changes?”

“No, it’s still stable. The cave is about half a kilometer from here. It’s in somewhat of a remote site; some hikers found it. I’ve got an off-roader that can take us there.” The four of them piled into Martha’s vehicle and they were off.

The cave was roughly 250 meters off the ground, and the entrance was a ledge that was wide enough for walking, but too narrow for a vehicle. Jackie muttered she should have worn better shoes. At the mouth of the cave, one of her teammates greeted her and guided them into the cave. As they walked through the cave, Rose saw a glimmer of light, which became brighter as they got closer.

“Here we are” said Martha. “We’ve been monitoring since I called you. All of our readings are holding steady. It should work. But let’s not take any chances. Go find the Doctor.”

“Thank you. Thank you so much.” Rose hugged her. She hugged her parents. “Goodbye, Mum and Dad. I love you.” And she stepped through the portal.

Her transport was instantaneous. One moment she was with her parents and coworkers and all their monitoring equipment, the next, she was alone with the glimmering light. She used the light on her phone to light her way out of the cave. She walked four miles, to the nearest town, and caught a train to London.


Four days later

Rose was sitting at a Pret a Manger, having coffee and feeling frustrated. This was not going as planned.

She’d planned to find the Doctor by going to either UNIT or Torchwood. She’d downloaded their contact information into her phone years ago, just in case. Her phone didn’t work for phone calls or texting in this universe, but she still had access to its other functions. She bought a cheap pay as you go to make phone calls.

Torchwood Three was completely gone. Nobody was answering her calls or emails. She called UNIT and they told her they were “temporarily suspended” for funding reasons, which made no sense at all. She’d just talked to three different people this morning, and none of them even knew who the Doctor was.

She wondered if there was another way to find the Doctor. Donna had told her she had found the Doctor again by going around London looking for strange things happening, but it took a while to find him. She could wait that long if she had to, but…

Her thoughts were interrupted by her phone ringing. Probably a wrong number, she thought, but answered anyway.

“Hello?” she said.

“Is this Rose Tyler?” a woman’s voice asked.

“Yes.” she was hesitant.

“And you’re looking for the Doctor?” The voice was calm and clear.

Rose’s heart raced a little “Yes, I am. Who is this?”

“Petronella Osgood. I used to work for UNIT before they were shut down.”

“Do you know where he is?” Rose couldn’t help but let excitement creep into her voice.

“I might. Can you meet me at St. Pancras Station in one hour?”

“I’ll be there.”

“Good. Look for a dark haired woman in glasses wearing a celery stalk on her lapel.” The phone disconnected. Rose was a little confused about that-was wearing vegetables a new fad in this universe? She quickly walked to Charing Cross and got on the Tube.

Exactly one hour later, Rose saw Osgood in the station, and waved her over.

“Rose Tyler, it’s such an honor to meet you.” she said. Rose wasn’t accustomed to such admiration; the Doctor, naturally, got more attention that she did.

Osgood was carrying a small case. “Forgive me, but I need to verify your identity. We can’t disclose information about the Doctor to bad sorts.” She took a finger stick for blood and did a retina scan. “Identify verified.” She smiled.

“Wait, how did you have a retina scan on me?”

“We have DNA, retina, and iris scans on all the Doctor’s associates. I snuck some of this equipment home with me. We need to make sure the Doctor isn’t traveling with say, a shapeshifting alien.” Osgood looked a little embarrassed. “So how did you get back from the parallel universe?”

“Interdimensional portal. The Torchwood in our world found it.”

“Very nice. If the bloody wankers ever restore our funding, we’ll check it out.”

Rose wanted to move the conversation along. “When was the Doctor last seen?”

“There’s a group us, former UNIT people, who keep track of the Doctor. We haven’t seen him in a while, but here have been a bunch of TARDIS sightings in Sheffield in the past few months. “ She tapped out a few things on her tablet. “It seems the TARDIS shows up every few days near the Park Hill Estate. I’ll text you the address.”

“This is perfect.” Rose smiled. She worried the Doctor might be off elsewhere for months, as he sometimes did. Showing up in Sheffield all the time was easy. “One more question. Umm..what does he look like now? It’ll make him easier to find.”

Osgood showed Rose her wallpaper photo, a picture of her and the Doctor. “This is from about four years ago. There was a little spat with the Zygons. As far as we know, he hasn’t regenerated.”

Rose studied the photo. The eyebrows were a bit much, and they’d probably get some odd looks together, but she thought she could make it work. “Okay, I guess I’m going to Sheffield. Thank you for your help. “

“No problem. Call any time you or the Doctor need something.” She smiled. They said goodybe. Rose took a train to Sheffield. During the train ride, she thought of seeing the Doctor again. The touch of his lips, lying in his arms-the amazing things he could do with his tongue… She was so close.

There was a thought that nagged at her, that the Doctor had sent her away with his clone because he didn’t want her. It had upset her a bit it happened all those years ago. She told herself that was ridiculous. The clone, the human Doctor, was a copy of him, and he had loved her more than anything. She would take the chance. Being with the Doctor was always a risk.

She got off the train, and made the short walk to Park Hill Estate. As she approached, she got a glimpse of the TARDIS. Excitedly, she ran the rest of the way and knocked on the door. No answer. The Doctor must be off fighting aliens, or maybe he popped out for food. She lamented she didn’t have her key anymore. Her Doctor had used it to make perception filters to avoid detection by an alien whose name she’d now forgotten. She’d come all this way. She sat down on the ground, leaning against the door.

And waited.


Meanwhile, the current Doctor and her friends were in the Khans’ flat, finishing dinner with Yaz’s parents. Her sister Sonia was off with friends.

“That biryani was amazing!” The Doctor exclaimed. “It’s the best I’ve on any planet!”

Najia gave her daughter’s friend an odd look. “I’m glad you enjoyed it, Doctor. Can I get you anything else?”

“No, we should be going soon.” Yaz told her. “We’re off to a pub tonight.” She neglected to mention the pub was on Mars in the 24th century.

“That sounds fun!” said Hakim. “But first you need to help with the washing up.”

They all pitched in to do the dishes and clean the kitchen. The Doctor called out as they left “Thanks again for dinner, Yaz’s mum! Bye, Yaz’s mum!”

“It’s Najia.” her mates said in unison. Yaz could never figure how the Doctor could retain all sorts of knowledge about math and engineering and alien races, but could never remember her mum’s name.

They headed down the stairs and towards the TARDIS. “You’re gonna love this pub! They’ve got laser darts and…” She stopped at the foot of the stairs and gasped. Her mouth hung open. Her hearts raced.

Sitting on the ground was a familiar woman. She was a little older now, her hair not quite as blond, but there was no mistaking who she was. She’d wished for years, centuries, to see her again, even though it was impossible. But here she was.

Ryan looked at her. “What’s wrong, Doctor? You look like you’ve seen a ghost.” He looked ahead to the TARDIS and saw the woman sitting nearby “Do you know who she is?”

The Doctor nodded, then broke out into a run, with her friends rushing to keep up. She stopped when she reached the TARDIS door. Her voice was barely above a whisper.

“Rose.”

Chapter Text

Rose stood up, looking the strangely dressed blonde woman in the eye. “How do you know my name? Where’s the Doctor?”

I’m the Doctor!” she said “Rose, you’re here! This is amazing! How did you get back?” The woman went to hug her, but Rose stepped back.

“You can’t be the Doctor.” She spat out. This was not what she was expecting.

“Well yeah, I’ve got a new face. You knew I could do that.”

“It’s not just your face.” Rose remarked. She surveyed the woman. About her height, slender, hazel eyes, short blond hair.

The Doctor scrunched her face “Is it because I’m a woman?”

She nodded. “You’ve always been a man.”

“What, you’re saying the Doctor can’t be a woman?” her female companion asked. “She’s brilliant as she is.”

“Stay out of this.” Rose’s voice was sharp.

“Oi! No gettin’ snippy with Yaz.” The Doctor exclaimed. “Rose, come in the TARDIS and we’ll talk.” She unlocked and opened the door. “Please.” She added when Rose hesitated.

Rose walked inside. The TARDIS interior had changed significantly since her last visit. She wasn’t sure if she liked it or not. She missed the coral.

“First off, introductions” the Doctor made a sweeping gesture. “This is Ryan, Graham, and Yaz. Everyone, this is Rose Tyler. She’s my…friend. She used to travel with me, a long time ago.”

“Is this one of the wives you were telling us about, Doc?” Graham teased.

Rose raised an eyebrow. “Wives?” She felt a stab of jealousy.

“No, she wasn’t my…wait. How many wives did I tell you about?” the Doctor asked “Anyway, we traveled together, had good times…and she got stuck in a parallel universe.” She turned to Rose. “How did you get back?”

“Torchwood found an interdimensional portal.”

“Interdimensional portal? That should be impossible! Love the impossible! Where?!”

“It was in a cave near the seaside.”

“Did my…copy..come with you?”

“Dead. Killed by aliens, about six months ago.” She fought back tears at the mention.

“Oh, Rose, I’m so sorry that happened, but I’m also glad to see you. I’ve missed you.” The Doctor tried again to hug her, but backed off when she felt her stiffen. She felt hurt and disappointed. Here was Rose, her Rose, after all this time, and she wasn’t happy to see her.

“Wait, Doctor, I have no idea what’s going on.” Ryan broke in. “You can make copies of yourself?”

“Just the one. Biological metacrisis. Long story. I sent him to live with Rose in the parallel universe.”

“Parallel universe-that sounds awesome, doesn’t it?” he looked at Graham “Maybe I’m a football star there, Granddad.”

“He’s your granddad?” Rose pointed at Graham.

“Yeah…why?” His tone was sharp. He’d been the recipient of some racist remarks about his relation to Graham, and he wasn’t having any of it.

Rose turned to the Doctor, “He gets to bring his granddad in the TARDIS, and I couldn’t bring my mum?”

“For one thing, Graham has never slapped me.” The Doctor crossed her arms. “If I brought Jackie aboard the TARDIS, we would have driven each other crazy.” There was also the fact she found Jackie to be an annoying chatty dunce, but she didn’t want to drive Rose further away.

Rose nodded. “Fair enough.”

“Anyway, There’s so much we need to catch up on, but first, I’d like to check out that portal. Show me where it is.”

Martha had once told Rose about a patient of hers prior to joining Torchwood. He had Capgras delusion, a rare condition in which the person believes their friends and family members had been replaced by impostors. They kept trying to tell him it wasn’t true, his family was really his family, but he persisted. He was transferred to a psych facility after a day or two and she never found out what happened to him.

As the TARDIS traveled to the portal, Rose thought she might be having a Capgras delusion of her own. The blond woman piloting the TARDIS was definitely the Doctor-nobody else would have been able to control the TARDIS the way she did-but she didn’t feel like the Doctor. These people traveling with her had replaced her friends-Mickey, Captain Jack, Sarah Jane. The older one-Graham-had assured her any friend of the Doctor was a friend of his, but Yaz was still eyeing her suspiciously.

There was also the matter of…physical things. It wasn’t that she was homophobic. In fact, she’d been pleasantly surprised in the parallel universe that such relationships were widely accepted. Same sex marriages had been legal everywhere for centuries; it wasn’t a big deal to anyone. But you liked what you liked. And she had always liked men. She hadn’t given women much thought, to be honest. Plus there was this talk of wives, plural. The no relationship thing he’d told her before, was that bullshit? Had she not measured up in some way?

She wondered if she could make a run for the portal when they arrived. Go back to the other universe. She could go home and tell her family she’d made a mistake.

The TARDIS stopped, jolting her out of her thoughts. “We’re here.” The Doctor announced. They opened the TARDIS doors and stepped out into the mouth of the cave.

“The portal is pretty far back, about 300 meters.” Rose said. “Do you have torches?”
“Yeah. Lemme get ‘em out of my junk drawer.” The Doctor reached into a compartment on the TARDIS wall, fished through a bunch of cords and wires, a few glowing things, and some random pieces of metal. “Here we are.” She took out two torches, handing one to Rose and one to Graham.

“You have a junk drawer?” Yaz asked.

“Every home has a junk drawer. Let’s go.” the Doctor replied.

The group walked through the cave, which was chilly, but dry. “Think the cave is stable, Doc?” Graham seemed worried.

The Doctor scanned the walls with her sonic screwdriver. “Cave’s been here about 400 years. I think it’ll be fine for another few hours. Oooh, watch your step, Rose.” She grabbed Rose’s arm to prevent her from stumbling over a large boulder, possibly hanging on to her a little longer than necessary.

A few minutes later, they turned a corner and saw a soft glow up ahead “That’s it” Rose gestured.

The Doctor ran towards it “Ohhh, this is incredible!” She scanned the portal with the sonic. “Kaluza-Klein particles…an aggregation.but I’m not sure how it’s staying put..”

“On our side, we thought it was something attracting them to the site.” Rose added.

“You’re right! They’d be drawn to stillness, and there is absolutely nothin’ happening in this cave. No cars, no people coming through, a remote location…it’s perfect for an aggregation! Anyway, you said the portal comes in and out of existence?”

“That’s what we confirmed.”

“Kaluza-Klein particles being temporally displaced. Very likely a random pattern.” She scanned a bit more.

As she spoke, the soft light changed from white to green. The Doctor scanned again.

“I’m not sure what happened. The portal is still there, but now the exit point it’s oscillating between 15 meters and 1200 meters above sea level. If we went through now, we’d likely come out in the mid air and fall to our deaths. We can’t take the TARDIS through-it would destroy the portal altogether.” She scanned again. “I’m gonna build some monitors for the portal. Tell us when it’s existing and stable again. It should also tell us if anyone comes through. I don’t want anythin’ in this universe that shouldn’t be there.”

“Can we come back when it’s stable? A parallel universe sounds fun!” Yaz’s eyes gleamed.

“Absolutely not. Too dangerous. No way to tell how long the portal will be open. We could all get stuck in the other universe forever. Let’s call it a night, fam. We’ll make a bedroom for you Rose, yeah?” She glanced over at her friend.

“Yeah, sure.” Rose said dejectedly. She wanted to go through the portal, but she wasn’t going to risk her life to do it. She was quiet the whole walk back to the TARDIS.

When they returned, the Doctor pushed a few buttons on the console “OK, there’s a room for Rose.” She said…”and some components for me.” A box came out of the bottom of the console. She sat on the floor. “I’m gonna start on those monitors. This is going to take a while. You’re all welcome to do whatever you’d like.”

Ryan and Yaz talked about playing video games, but Rose sat on the ground. “I’ll help. I’ve got lots experience building things now.”

“Brilliant! Can you pass me that spanner?” the Doctor asked as she fiddled with some wires.

Rose did so.“Just so you know, when the portal is stable, I’m going back.”

The Doctor stopped. “What, you were just popping in for a one day visit?” She was disappointed. “No guarantee you’ll be able to come back soon, if ever.”

“That’s okay. Don’t need to.” She grabbed a box of screws. “There’s nothing here for me now.”

“Rose, how can you say that?” the Doctor’s face crumpled. The Rose she’d left would have moved mountains for them to be together. What had she done wrong?

“It’s just…everything has changed so much.” Rose was near tears. “You’re so different.”

“I’m not, not really. Still flyin’ the TARDIS, still takin’ joy in seeing the universe.” Just because she was female Rose wanted to leave? Humans and their crazy hangups…

“Is that what you did with your wives?” Rose asked pointedly.

Oh, there was also that. “I can explain that…”

“Why did you send me away?!” Rose raised her voice. She knew the others were watching her, but she didn’t care. She wasn’t going to see them again after tonight. “We could have stayed in this universe, after we rescued Earth from the Daleks! Was there something wrong with me?!”

“No, of course not. But I had to. It was one of the hardest things I ever did, but I had to do it.”

“Why?!”

“What, you think the three of us were going to fly around the universe together? I couldn’t do that. Because” she dropped her voice “watching you two together would have been torture for me. Because he had you and I didn’t.”

Rose turned bright red. She turned around and fled the console room without another word.

“Whoa.” Ryan whispered. “Did the Doctor and Rose have some kind of..thing?” He hadn’t given it much thought that she’d form relationships with the people she’d traveled with. He’d heard about her wife, River, but the Doctor had mentioned she was also a time traveler.

“Definitely looks like a lovers’ quarrel, son.” Graham whispered back. “I’ll go talk to Rose. Why don’t you two talk to the Doctor?”

They looked over at her. The Doctor had stopped working and had her arms around her knees, her head bowed down.

“Good idea. Let’s go Ryan.” Whispered Yaz, and they headed to the Doctor. “Doctor, are you okay?”

The Doctor looked up. Tears were streaming down her face. “I’m sorry, guys, that you have to see this. Seems I’m much more emotional in this body. After I build these portal monitors, I’m gonna put a tissue dispenser in the console.” She smiled weakly.

“Do you want to talk? It can help. We’re here for you.” Ryan put a hand on her shoulder.

“Yeah, that’d be good. I just need a minute.” She reached in her pockets for a handkerchief and steadied her breathing. Finally she spoke “I told you guys about the Time War, right?”

They nodded.

“Rose was the first person I traveled with after it ended. I’d been alone for so many years-I wasn’t dragging anybody into that mess. I’d just murdered my entire race-or I thought I had. I could put on a friendly face, but I alternated between sadness and rage, most of it directed at myself. And then..I met Rose. And she thought I was worthy of being loved.

“Rose is amazingly kind and empathetic. She once tried to help an injured Dalek before she knew what it was. She helped me let go of what I’d done. And I loved her. I loved her so much, but I wouldn’t let myself act on it. Bit of a hangup I had at the time. Your human life spans are so short, and I couldn’t bear the thought of watching her grow old and die. I could not deal losing anyone else. Then she got trapped in the parallel universe and I couldn’t get her back.

“I’m a little better at dealing with loss now, though it always hurts when one of you leave. I don’t want her to go, but she clearly came back looking for my former self..and she found me instead. Is there something wrong with me?”

Yaz hugged her. “Doctor, there is absolutely nothing wrong with you. We like you the way you are. She’s just had a shock, that’s all.”

“Yeah, she’ll come around.”Ryan hugged her too. “Things may not be the way they were before, but she’ll realize it’s you. Just give her some time.”

“Time? I’ve got plenty of that.” The Doctor gave a small smile. “Thank you both for being there for me.”

“No problem. You’re our friend.” Yaz said “Do you want to come play video games with me and Ryan?”

“No, I need to work on these portal monitors. I’ll see you in the morning.”

“Good night, Doctor.” Ryan and Yaz headed to the arcade.


Graham found Rose at the kitchen table, eating biscuits. “Any of those left?” she wordlessly handed him the box. Graham took three biscuits and sat down.

“These are really good.” He said.

“He..err, she used to have them on when I was on board. They were my favorite.” They sat in awkward silence for a few minutes. It got too uncomfortable for Rose, who finally asked “How much of that did you hear?”

“I got the jist of things. Look, Rose, we don’t know each other that well, and I can’t make you do anything. But I want to try to convince you to give the Doctor another chance.”

Rose gave him a dirty look, but Graham kept talking “Let me tell you about my wife. I was a bachelor my whole life before I met my Grace. We were only married for three years, but they were the best years of my life. She died when we first met the Doctor. We were helping her fight this alien, Tim Shaw, and she was killed.”

“You fought an alien named Tim Shaw?” Rose was incredulous.

“Yes, but that’s not the point. The point is, I’ve spent the past months filling up the space where she used to be. I would give anything to have my Grace back, in any shape or form. Burly truck driver, talking horse, you name it. I’d be there.” His face was full of sorrow.

“I’m so sorry she died. I know it’s hard to go on afterwards. When the Doctor-my Doctor-was killed, I was basically a lump for months.”

“Yes, but you have a second chance. It may not be the love you pictured, but it’s the one you’ve got.”

Rose thought for a few moments. “I still don’t know.”

Graham added “Let’s think about it this way. Do you want to keep being a lump, or do you want to see the universe? Traveling with the Doctor has helped me feel a little better. Not crazy about all the danger, but…it helps.”

He had a point. If she went back to the other universe, she’d probably sit around one day in one of her dad’s properties. “All right. I’ll stay. For a little while, at least.”

“Good. Why don’t you get some rest? Things will be better in the morning.”

“Yeah, that’s a good idea. Good night.” She was physically and emotionally exhausted. She found her room after several tries. She took off her shoes and collapsed on the mattress. She fell asleep thinking of the Doctor she’d lost.

Chapter Text

By the next morning, Rose had calmed down, but she was feeling confused and apprehensive. It was strange, being on the TARDIS, back in this kitchen, and yet she felt like an outsider. If she was going to stay, they all needed to get along. She’d have to smooth things over with Yaz. She wasn’t sure where she stood with Ryan, so she’d have to figure that out too.

And then there was the Doctor, of course. It was strange; in the past, she’d wondered a lot about his feelings. Until he left her with the clone, she wasn’t sure he loved her at all. But the Doctor had obviously loved her fiercely. Did she still, even after marrying someone else?

She showered, got dressed, and went to the kitchen for breakfast. Yaz was sitting alone checking her phone and eating a croissant.

“Hey” she said “how’s your book?”

Yaz looked up. She had her current selection, The Fault in Our Stars, on the table. “It’s fine.” And she went back to looking at her phone.

Rose was reminded of when she and Sarah Jane had first met, but now she was the older, former traveler with the Doctor, and Yaz was the current companion. Yaz most reminded her a lot of herself when she’d started traveling with the Doctor. About the same age, bit of an attitude, and awed by the Doctor.

“Yaz, we don’t have to do this. I’m not interested in being rivals with you.”

She looked up “Who’s talking about rivalry? She’s my friend, and you’ve hurt her.”

Rose nodded. “I’ll apologize later, I promise. I was upset yesterday, I’ve calmed down now.” She tried to break the ice a little more “What’s your favorite thing you’ve seen with the Doctor?”

Yaz considered this for a moment, and finally said. “She took me to see my Nani. We were at her wedding.”

“Really? That’s so cool. He took me to my parents’ wedding, but it was kind of weird. Dad forgot his vows.”

“If my dad had done that, Mum would have killed him where he was standing.” Yaz smiled. “So how did you meet the Doctor?”

“The shop where I worked with was filled with living mannequins. He was trying to stop them.”

“Were you together long?”

“Quite a while. It’s hard to tell when you time travel.” She poured herself cup of coffee and sat down. Yaz had stopped glaring at her and they were having a friendly conversation. It was a good start.

“Mornin’ Yaz” Ryan came in, followed by Graham. “You seen the Doctor this morning?”

“She’s in the console room working on the portal monitors. Some of them weren’t picking up transmissions.” Yaz told him. “She said it’s probably going to take all day the fix, so no travels today. She’ll take us home if we want.”

“Nah, I’d rather hang out here. Otherwise Granddad is going to put me to work around the house.” Ryan grabbed some cereal out of the cabinet and sat down with them. “Got a voice mail from Dad.”

“How are things with him?” Graham asked while getting coffee.

“Ehh. Better than they were, but…I keep half expecting him to run out on me again. It’s hard to believe he’s going to stick around this time. Last time I called him, it took him three days to call me back.”

“He’s doing his best, son.” Graham looked concerned.

“I know. I’ll give him a call later.” He turned to Rose. “So Rose, can you tell us more about the other universe?”

“Well, for one, it’s much more technologically advanced. Here’s an example.” She pulled out her phone from her pocket and showed him a video. “That’s London.”

Ryan gaped “Look at that! And look at all the features on this phone! This is sick!” Ryan exclaimed. “What are all these numbers on the screen?”

“Oh, those are my health measurements. It’s all in real time. There are circulating nanoparticles in my bloodstream remotely transmitting the information-blood pressure, glucose, heart rate, respiratory rate. All the information can be either stored on the phone or transmitted to a secure server. Doctors use them to keep track of patients with medical conditions. We use them in the field to make sure our people are okay.” She added “I worked on alien encounters there, too.”

“That’s amazing!” Graham remarked. “Would have been much better than being poked and prodded every few hours in hospital. That might have been worse than the chemo.”

“You had cancer?” Rose was concerned.

“Yeah, but I’m in remission now.” Graham assured her.

“Nan was his nurse. That’s how they met.” Ryan added. He was still playing around with Rose’s phone.

“Speaking of hospitals, Ryan, you should tell Rose about the time you and Graham had to deliver an alien baby.” Yaz grinned.

“She doesn’t need to hear about that.” Graham looked embarrassed.

“Yes I do!” Rose smiled.

“Graham’s all like ‘I can deliver babies, I watch Call the Midwife.’ Then when he had to do it….he complained for weeks afterward.” Yaz laughed.

Rose laughed. “Don’t worry Graham, the Doctor has gotten me into some weird situations too.” They settled into easy conversation, asking Rose about Torchwood, her travels with the Doctor, and more about the parallel universe. Rose began to relax. This was going to be okay.

The Doctor, on the other hand, was anything but relaxed.

Rose’s return had the Doctor in state she hadn’t been in for a very long time. She’d been trying to fix a problem with the portal monitors for the last half hour, a simple fix, really, but she was having trouble concentrating. She couldn’t focus on anything but the beautiful woman aboard her ship and what was happening in her body. The feeling in her pants when Rose was near her, suppressing the urge to touch her…had it been this intense, before? She couldn’t remember. It was complicated by the fact in this new body, she wasn’t entirely sure how to take care of herself. It was much easier as a bloke. Now she had all these parts and they liked some things and not others…she hadn’t had a chance to figure it out yet. She hadn’t needed to. A Time Lord could go decades without gratification in the absence of external stimulus…and now she had more stimulus than she could handle.

“How does Captain Jack get anything accomplished?” she wondered out loud “He’s like this with everyone.”

She went back to adjusting the monitors for a bit, trying to calm herself down. Stop acting like a hormone addled centenarian, be cool, Doctor she told herself. She knew of course, she was definitely not cool. Not even when she was the incarnation that insisted on wearing bow ties. But she had to control herself. She’d never force herself on someone else; that wasn’t right. And she knew she had a tendency to make people uncomfortable, and she didn’t want to happen with Rose.

She was lying on the floor, trying to grab some cables from under the console when she heard Rose came in “Doctor?”

“Down here! Hiya Ro…owww!” In a rush to sit up, she hit her head on the console.

Rose crouched down “Are you okay?”

“Yeah..aahhh! I think I’m just gonna lay here for a few minutes.” She sat on the step near the console.

“Do you need anything?”

“No, no, Time Lords had very hard heads. It’ll be better soon.” That wasn’t true, but was anybody here going to disprove her? She felt her scalp. No bleeding. Good.

Then something happened she didn’t expect. Rose laughed. “I never saw you hit your head on the console before.”

“There’s a first time for everything.” They both felt the tension between them ease slightly.

Rose sat down next to her “Can we talk?”

“Yes! Yes we can!” The Doctor tried to cover her nervousness by sounding enthusiastic. She sat up. “So…Graham told me you’re going to stay?”

“For now at least.” Rose paused “And I’m sorry I was so angry last night. I was just…caught off guard.”

“’S OK. Apology accepted.” She gave a friendly smile.

“How long has it been for you? Since we saw each other last?”

“Oh, over a thousand years. You? I’m a bad judge of ages in humans.”

“About ten. We didn’t have any way to time travel, so we just passed time as normal.”

“I doubt anything you and he did qualified as ‘normal’,” She turned serious “Were you…happy with him?”

“Yeah. We were happy. We both worked for Torchwood, tracking down aliens, defending the Earth.” Her guard eased “You know, he recruited Martha, because of how great she was in this universe. She was just out of residency, never exposed to aliens. She was actually part of the group that found the portal. She’s been a fantastic addition to the team-and a good friend.”

“Oh, I love it!” the Doctor squealed. “In this universe, she’s now assistant chief of surgery at King’s College Hospital, the youngest they’ve ever had. Still brilliant as ever. What about your parents?”

“Mum and Dad were happy together, and they were thrilled to be parents again with Tony.” Rose smiled. “And I got to spend a lot of time getting to know Dad. That might have been the second best thing.” She paused “Were you…happy with your wives?”

“Oh yeah, I better explain that now.” The Doctor took a breath. “For starters, some of those were mistakes. For instance, I only proposed to Elizabeth I because I thought she was a Zygon. To make a long story short, I have to be extremely careful when I visit 16th century England. But the one that’s important is River. She was a time traveler too, and we kept meeting each other out of order.”

“Was she a Time Lord too? I thought you said they all died.” Rose interjected.

“No. Yes.…well, she had human parents, but she was conceived in the TARDIS. Her parents traveled with me-another long story. Should I make some diagrams? I can get some paper. Let me find some paper. I wish I still had the blackboard, that would have come in handy right now…”

“Shut up about diagrams, Doctor. Let’s just say it’s complicated.”

“Okay, okay. River wasn’t just a time traveler; she was extraordinary.” The Doctor looked into the distance. “She actually broke time, once, to save my life. Can you believe that? Anyway, the first time I met her, she knew me intimately, and then she died. But everything about us was gonna happen, despite any preconceived notions on my part. I had a lot of fear and doubt about romantic attachments after I’d lost so much…and I was forced to rethink them.”

Rose had to know. “Did she live as long as a Time Lord?”

The Doctor sighed “Longer than a normal human, much shorter than a Time Lord. And she liked to go off on her own adventures. So we weren’t together that long, never enough time, but I don’t regret it. Not for a minute.” She stared off into the distance, as if she was looking not at something far away, but through the years past.

Rose took this in for a few minutes. “Will you see her again?”

“I don’t think I will. I gave her a journal to record our adventures. On our last night together, it was full.”

“I’m sorry, Doctor.” She genuinely was. From her description and the expression on her face, the Doctor had been genuinely happy with River. And she would wouldn’t expect her to be celibate for a millenium, for God’s sake. She didn’t feel jealous or angry any more. She reached out and took th Doctor’s hand. It was smaller and softer than she was used to.

“Thank you” the Doctor’s voice was soft. She put her other hand over Rose’s, and looked at her for a moment. “Hey, I’m famished. Haven’t had breakfast yet. I think I’ll wait until wait until after I eat to fix the portal monitors. Want to come with?” She stood up.

“I think I’m gonna stay here. Get used to the old girl again.” She wanted to be alone and digest everything she’d just heard. But there was another lingering thing. “Doctor, do you have…any other regrets?”

Her face darkened. “I can’t tell you. I said too much last night.” And she walked out of the console room.

Rose sat and pondered everything she’d heard. She still cared about the Doctor, but she wasn’t sure what she felt beyond that. She would have to stay and figure it out.

Chapter Text

One week later

The Doctor and her friends ran into the TARDIS and slammed the door shut “Whew! Made it!” she exclaimed. They all caught their breaths. Graham immediately headed off to the kitchen for water. Ryan laid on the floor, exhausted.

“Doctor, why did you take us to a planet full of robot insects?!” Yaz brushed antennae off her shirt.

“I didn’t know they were going to be seven feet tall!” the Doctor exclaimed. “I thought they’d be tiny and cute!”

“There was nothing cute about the fly that picked me up!” Rose exclaimed. “It was like hanging from the barrage balloon all over again!”

The Doctor looked up at her. “Hey, that was your fault. I always told you, don’t wander off, and the first thing you do? Wander off.” Her tone was mocking.

“You could have told me we were in the Blitz! Do you ever know where we’re going?” she laughed.

“Oi, a time machine is a sensitive instrument!” The Doctor tried to act indignant, but a small smile escaped her lips.

Rose had been traveling with the Doctor again for the past week, and every day it felt more like home. Seeing so many different planets, meeting new species, she hadn’t realized how much she missed it. And the Doctor’s new friends were all great too. She’d finally won over Yaz when they’d gotten stuck in an abandoned factory on another planet and her quick thinking helped them escape.
She saw glimpses of the Doctor she’d known in this new incarnation. The weird gadgets she would build, her wonder over cosmic phenomena, still just as clever, still stroking at bits of the console. But she was also different. Less reserved. Less polished, but also less angry. She also found herself thinking of the other Doctor, her husband, less and less.
She’d made the right decision coming back here after all. Being here, traveling with the Doctor, was exactly what she needed. And she never wanted to leave.
It occurred to her she’d said that once to the Doctor, many years ago, at the Battle of Canary Wharf, just before they were separated, and she felt strange about thinking that way again. She distracted herself from the thought by rubbing her shoulder where the giant robot fly had dropped her.

The Doctor saw her rubbing her shoulder and looked concerned. “You’re not hurt, are you?”
“My shoulder got a little bruised, that’s all.” Rose shrugged.
“Let me take a look.” The Doctor took her arm and pulled up her sleeve. “It looks like you’ll be okay. Just stay away from giant flies for a few days, okay?”
“I’ll try to avoid them.” She smiled, trying for a teasing tone. The Doctor shook her head slightly, and gave an expression she couldn’t quite read.

Then her tone changed abruptly and she said “Let’s do something easier tomorrow. Let’s go to Barian 3! They have a huge open air market! Food, sculpture, jewelry, machinery..it’s like the biggest jumble sale in existence!”

“Yeah, that sounds great. Let’s do it!” she said “You know, he liked jumble sales too. Always looking out for old things and examining what he could use them for.”

“Not everything changes, I suppose.” The Doctor said “I’m always on the lookout for spare parts for the TARDIS. Not easy getting replacements when the manufacturer is in a pocket universe. Yaz, Ryan, what do you think? Market tomorrow?”

“Sounds good, as long as I don’t have to move for the next twelve hours.” Ryan grumbled from the floor. “Can you bring me dinner here?”

“Not a chance. It’s our turn to cook.” Rose held out a hand “You’re on potato peeling duty, Sinclair.” She pulled him up and they went to the kitchen.

The Doctor watched her go. For her part, she was thrilled how much Rose had matured since their last outing. Over the past ten years, she’d learned a lot about alien technology, physics, engineering, and getting out of tight situations. They weren’t equals, not by a long shot, but the Doctor didn’t have to explain as much to her as she did the others.
And it made her all the more attractive.
The Doctor tried to put the thought out of her head. Rose had made that clear, that’s not what she wants from you, she thought.
She wasn’t sure how much more of this she could take. Was there something she could do to forget her feelings? She dimly remembered making a neuro blocker a while back, but wasn’t sure what happened to it. Plus a neuro blocker was far too strong; it’d wipe her memory of Rose entirely. She’d been back to New Earth recently, and they’d made advances in those Forget patches. They could select highly specific memories. No, she didn’t want to forget how she felt when she looked at Rose, or held her hand while running to escape whatever they were running from that day. No, forgetting was much worse.

She was dimly aware Yaz was talking to her, asking something about the market. She snapped back to reality “Oh, sorry Yaz. Just thinkin’. What did you want to ask?”

“Don’t worry about it.” she said, looking closely at the Doctor’s expression. “You still love her, don’t you?”

She nodded. “In some ways, it’s great having her back. In others, it is so, so difficult. What do humans do in this situation?”

“You need a distraction,” Yaz told her “That’s the best thing. Me, when I’m heartbroken, I like having Ben and Jerry’s and watching romcoms.”

“Oh, I love ice cream! I built my own ice cream maker. It makes ten flavors at once!” the Doctor exclaimed. Then she turned serious. “I haven’t had a friend in ages where I could talk about feelings and things with them. You’re brilliant at it, Yaz.”

“Lots of practice being an older sister.” Yaz said. “After dinner, let’s do some girl bonding time.”

Chapter Text

The next day, TARDIS landed on the edge of the market, and the group stepped out. “Damn, this is huge.” Ryan said “I can’t even see how far back it goes!” The vendors’ tents, arranged haphazardly were bustling with activity, even at the outskirts.

“This is even bigger than the last time I was here. It might take us a day or two to see everything.” The Doctor told him. “Why don’t we head towards the center first?”

It took them a while to talk through, particularly because the Doctor kept getting distracted by various tents. The center of the market had picnic tables, food vendors, and a large fountain, twenty meters tall, with seven different colors of water spraying and splashing. “My God, that’s beautiful!” Graham said, looking up.

“And look at that! The colors aren’t blending with each other. How do they do that?” Ryan asked.

“Even I don’t know.” The Doctor told him. “It’s a family that runs this market, and it’s their secret.”

Graham pulled out his phone and started taking pictures of the fountain.

“Hey, we should get some pictures of all of us.” Yaz remarked.

“Good idea son. Everyone, stand in front of the fountain.” They did, and he took a few shots. “Hold up, everyone, storage is full. I need to delete a few things.”

Ryan rolled his eyes “Granddad, I told you to upgrade your phone the last time we were in Sheffield. 16 gigs isn’t enough these days.”

“Nonsense,” Graham replied. “This phone is only three years old. You know, my first computer had 500 megs of storage.”

Ryan scoffed. Rose ran over with her phone. “Graham, you can use my phone. No offense, but I’ve probably got a better camera.” She showed him how to take pictures with her phone “I’ve got 3-D, panoramas, everything.”

Graham took several more pictures of the group as they made silly poses. Rose had left the display with her vital signs open. He couldn’t help but notice every time she looked at the Doctor, her heart rate went up.

They spent the whole day at the market. Ryan and Graham went on a brewery tour. Rose and Yaz had stopped to look at a jewelry vendor while two stalls over, the Doctor was trying to haggle for some used machine parts.

Rose was keeping an eye on both of them. The Doctor and Yaz had gone off together last night without explanation, though they came back later, laughing and looking disheveled. Rose had asked what it was about, and she got a bewildering answer about an explosion. She mentioned she hadn’t heard anything, but the Doctor explained the rooms in the TARDIS were soundproofed. She felt a little…jealous? I have no right to feel that way, she thought. But she did.

“Is she having any luck?” Yaz asked, indicating the Doctor.

“She’s trying to make a trade with the junk in her pockets.” Rose giggled. She looked a little closer. “Is that a biscuit?”

“Oh, that’s one of the custard creams the TARDIS dispenses. They’re not bad. I think she got into the habit of carrying biscuits in case Graham got hungry” she laughed. “I’m kind of worried about him, actually.”

“Why?” Rose looked surprised. concerned.
“I don’t know if he likes the traveling as much as we do. I think he’s mostly here for Ryan. I mean, it’s good that he is here for Ryan, but I wonder if he wants to go home for good.”
“I can’t picture. I love traveling with the Doctor.” Rose suddenly felt warm, and she wasn’t sure why. It was a hot out, but it had been at least thirty degrees all day.
“I love it too. I mean, at some point I’ll have to stop, right? I want to go back to my career.” Yaz said. “I want to be chief constable some day. Plus, I want to get married and have a family at some point. Hard to meet someone, let alone have a relationship, if you’re gallivanting around the universe.”

“I guess the only career I’ve ever had was defending the Earth from hostile aliens. Which works perfectly with what I’m doing now.” She chewed her bottom lip. “By the way, where did you two run off to last night?”

“Oh, the Doctor wanted to show me her ice cream maker. But when she added sprinkles, it exploded. It was pretty funny.” Yaz laughed. Rose thought she seemed to be holding something back. She was going to ask some additional questions, when the Doctor walked over to join them, looking annoyed.

“Highly unreasonable people. All those cogs sitting there and they didn’t think a genuine rock from Skaro was worth the trade.” She shook her head.

“What’s so special about a rock from Skaro?” Rose asked.

She lowered her voice. “Between us, nothing. But I tried to convince them it was rare. I’ll come back tomorrow with something else. Why don’t we text the guys and meet them somewhere?”

--

An hour later, they were all in the TARDIS kitchen, catching up on the their adventures.

“Guys, this beer is amazing.” Ryan handed each of them a bottle. “Granddad and I tried a whole bunch of samples, and this is was the best one. We bought a case!”

“Should we plan to come back tomorrow? There’s still a lot we haven’t seen.” Rose said.

“We could, but there was also that moon filled with butterflies the Doctor was telling us about. I’d love to see that.” Yaz remarked. She then noticed the Doctor was uncharacteristically quiet, and looked over at her. “Hey Doctor, what did you think of the market?”

“Great! It was graaaay…hey Ryan, beer has alcohol in it, right?” She slurred her words slightly.

“Um..yeah.” He looked at her with concern “Is everything okay?”

“Oooohhhhhhh…that splains it…see, I forgot I haven’t had any alcohol in this new body yet. Some bodies have a harder time than others. Nothin’ dangerous, just the room spins a bit and a big headache afterwards.”

“Doctor, why didn’t you tell us beforehand?” Yaz said teasingly. “Besides, you’ve nearly drank the whole bottle!”

“Was good. Besides, I was distracted.” Rose thought the Doctor was looking at her in particular, but though it was probably her imagination.

“Do you want to lie down?” Graham asked her.

“Yes! Splendid idea, lyin down.” She stood up and her legs gave out. She sprawled on the floor. Ryan picked her up. “Hey, let’s get you some help, huh? Rose, can you help me get her to bed?”

They each put an arm around her to and walked down the hall and into her room while she rambled on about random things. Ryan got her settled on the bed, and Rose took off her shoes.

“Damn, Doctor, you’re a lightweight. You’re gonna regret this in the morning.” Ryan joked.

“No, no. I regret Darlig Ulv Stranden.” She looked at Rose “Should’ve told you.” She mumbled incoherently for a few more minutes and was asleep.

Rose looked at her, stunned.

Darlig Ulv Stranden.

Bad Wolf Bay.

Everything that had happened in the past week, everything she’d been feeling, came into focus. How had she not realized it before?

Ryan saw her expression. “Do you know what that was about?”

She nodded. “It was something that happened when we traveled together. Is it okay if we don’t talk about it?”

“Yeah, no problem. Should we go back to the kitchen?”

“I’m going to stay here for a little while.” She didn’t take her eyes off the sleeping woman in front of her.

“Okay. We’ll save you a couple more beers.” Ryan told her on the way out.

Rose sat on the edge of the bed and stroked the Doctor’s face. This Doctor was different, not what she had pictured at all. But as she’d said before, she wasn’t that different. Not in the ways that mattered.

This is the Doctor I love., she thought. And with that thought, her heart raced with nervousness, but it also felt…right. She didn’t know if the Doctor still felt the same way about her. It had been a long time for her. She still wasn’t completely sure about the physical parts either, but she would have to find out for sure. Being with the Doctor always involved an element of risk.

She briefly considered staying in the Doctor’s room, but thought it felt too intrusive. She eventually went back to her own room. She had a difficult time getting to sleep. When she did, she dreamed, not of a dark haired man, but of a blonde woman.

Chapter 6 (”Pull me from the dark”)

The next morning, Rose woke up to a ping on her phone. She was alarmed to see it was after 9. Days on the TARDIS usually started early.

Yaz: Are you still alive in there?
Rose: Just woke up. Didn’t sleep well last night.
Yaz: (sad face emoji) The Doctor went back to the market vendor to get those parts she was looking at yesterday. The rest of us are going out for breakfast. Want to come with?
Rose: No thanks, I’ll get something here. See you later.

She showered and got dressed, aware of the low level of anxiety the whole time. She tried eating breakfast but felt too jittery to finish. She went to the console room and sat on the step, trying to will her shaking leg to be still.
And waited.

About an hour later, the TARDIS doors opened and the Doctor came in, carrying a large box. “Hiya Rose! Look at all the stuff I got.” She walked over to the wall and put the box down. “Had a great nap. Graham gave me some of his paracetamol, and I feel 100% better. Did you know Earth is the only planet that has paracetamol? I need to stock up!” She pulled out a compartment from the wall, crouched down, and started sorting through the contents of the box.

Rose’s heart was racing. She took a deep breath. Here it goes.

She said “I heard what you said last night. About regrets…and Darlig Ulv Stranden.”

The Doctor stopped everything she was doing. “Oh no, did that really happen?” She looked down. “I’m sorry…I shouldn’t have…”

“Will you tell me now?”

For a moment she didn’t move, and Rose thought she’d made a terrible mistake. But then she stood up, looked at Rose, and her face broke out in a wide grin. “I thought…”

“It doesn’t matter. Not anymore. You’re still the Doctor. You’re still my Doctor.” Rose paused. “Unless…things have changed.”

She slowly shook her head. She walked over to Rose, and put Rose’s hands on her chest. “Rose Tyler, you have always been here. In my hearts. I love you.”

Rose pulled her close and kissed her, gently at first, then with more passion. She felt the Doctor’s arms at her waist. Her lips were soft, and her touch was like electricity on her skin. She gently probed her tongue into the Doctor’s mouth, and heard her moan softly.

“I’m never letting you get away, not ever again.” The Doctor told her, frantically kissing her face. “My beautiful Rose.”

“Just try getting rid of me.” Rose replied, kissing her again. Her nerves had been replaced with excitement.

And then there was a knock at the door.

“Oh, that must be the others. I suppose we should let them in?” the Doctor looked disappointed.

“Yeah…pick this up later?”

“Definitely” the Doctor gave her a wicked grin. She kissed Rose one more time, and they went to open the door.

Ryan, Yaz, and Graham were standing outside. Yaz immediately grinned. “You snogged her!”

“What? No, no, we were just talking…” the Doctor began.

“Doctor, you’re wearing her lipstick.” She smirked. The Doctor turned beet red.

Graham laughed “Doc, you’ve been making puppy dog eyes at her for the past week! It’s not like we didn’t know it was coming. Do you want us to leave you two alone?”

“No! Yes! I mean, we should be going anyway. Are you ready for our next trip?” the Doctor asked. She ran over to the console. “Yaz, you said butterfly moon earlier? Let’s go there!”
Rose grinned. Same old Doctor, wanting to see the universe. It was okay though. They had the rest of their lives.

Chapter Text

They passed a mostly uneventful day on the second moon of Lledo. The moon was filled with different butterfly colonies, in every color imaginable. The Doctor told the others all about the different butterfly species, their history, and in two million years they’d have developed sentience and start a war on a local human colony. But today, they were harmless. In a lot of ways, it felt like any other day traveling in the TARDIS, but Rose noted the subtle differences. The tension from the Doctor’s face and shoulders was gone; she hadn’t even realized it was there. But, more importantly, the Doctor kept looking at her with a big grin, the kind that lit up a room, and Rose found herself weak in the knees every time she did so.

The guys hadn’t said much about the situation, but at one point she’d seen Yaz pull the Doctor aside and mouth Tell me everything. Fair enough. If Martha was here, she would have made Rose sit down with tea and not let her budge until she got the dirt.

She sighed. She’d been so caught up in things with the Doctor she hadn’t thought much about Martha, or her family. But she missed them. A few days ago, the Doctor had mentioned the portal had gone unstable, that it was coming in and out of existence again. Not that she would ever leave the Doctor, but it made her a little sad she would never see anyone she knew from the parallel universe again.

 

Since there was no civilization on Lledo at this point, they went back to the TARDIS for dinner. Afterwards, the group was sitting around the kitchen table talking. They had decided to stay in for the evening.

“Anyone up for a movie?” Graham asked “How about Up?”

“Oh, I love that movie!” Yaz said. “Ryan, you in?”

“Deffo.” Ryan replied.

“I’m not, that movie is rubbish.” The Doctor scrunched her nose. “Helium balloons would never fly that high or that long!”

Yaz gave her a look. “You live in a phone booth that’s bigger on the inside. You have no standing to complain about a movie breaking the laws of physics.”

“My people don’t break the laws of physics. We simply give them a good stretching.” The Doctor looked annoyed, as if she was explaining this for the hundredth time that day. “Am I supposed to believe you can fly a house thousands of miles through the air with no navigation, no control….”

Graham rolled his eyes. This happened when more frequently than not when they suggested movies. They’d tried switching to documentaries, but they had to stop when she started throwing things at the screen because according to her, the historians hadn’t gotten the facts right. The Doctor continued to ramble on as he, Ryan, and Yaz left for the media room, leaving only Rose.

“..and the talking dogs! I’ve met talking dogs, they’re not anything like that. Much meaner and obsessed with food. Rose, did I ever tell you about the talking dogs?”

Rose teased. “Your complaining about lack of realism in a cartoon has cleared the room. Shut up.”

She gave Rose an evil grin. “Make me shut up.”

Rose leaned over, grabbed her by the shoulders and kissed her hard. The Doctor eyed her. “Now you’re just encouraging me.”

“Who says I don’t want to encourage you?” she purred.

They kissed again, and the Doctor climbed into Rose’s lap. Rose felt the warmth of her body, her hands stroking her hair.Rose felt the heat rise within her as the Doctor kissed her neck and her hands wandered, exploring her body. She gasped. She didn’t expect to feel this much arousal, this quickly, and she was feeling a combination of excitement and nervousness.

The Doctor stopped kissing her and looked at her. “Rose, you’re trembling. What’s wrong?”
She hesitated “Do you want to…”
“I’ve wanted nothing more since you’ve come back.” She put her hand on Rose’s cheek “Make no mistake about that. I want you Rose. So badly. But I don’t want you to feel pressured. Is it because this” she gestured to her body “is new to you?”
She nodded.
“’S Ok. It’s new to me too. As a woman, I mean. I don’t know exactly how this is going to go. I mean, I know how it works, but the experience, yeah. And I really, really want to please you, and I don’t know if I’m going to be able…”
Rose put a finger to her lips, silencing her. Even as she rambled, the Doctor’s eye bored into her with lust. “Let’s find out.”
“Are you sure?” her voice was soft.
“I love you, no matter what. I know you won’t do anything to hurt me.”
“No.” She stood up and grabbed Rose’s hand. They walked out of the kitchen and to the Doctor’s room.

And the Doctor was grateful she did live in a dimensionally transcendental phone booth and not a flat, as the soundproofing prevented everyone else from hearing the screaming.

The next morning, the Doctor was in the kitchen, cooking pancakes and humming to herself. She’d cuddled a sleeping Rose for several hours until she got too fidgety to stay still. She’d already checked the portal monitors (still unstable), read a book, done a diagnostic on all the TARDIS systems, checked three different potential planets to visit, and now she was ready to eat.

She was finishing the first batch as Rose walked in, still a little sleepy. “Hey” she smiled.

“Hey” the Doctor’s voice was soft as she looked up. She left the griddle to give Rose a kiss. “How’d you sleep?”

“Could go back to bed for a few more hours. Somebody kept me up.” She gave a shy smile.

“You weren’t complaining then.” She grinned, replaying scenes from their evening in her head, particularly Rose's face as she's climaxed. Very sexy.

“I’m not complaining now. I just need coffee.”

“Oooh, coming right up!” The Doctor spun around and grabbed the coffee pot. As she poured a cup, she asked “Do you want pancakes? Just made ‘em. I made bacon too. We don’t have it that often because Yaz doesn’t do pork products.”

“Sure.” Rose sat down at the table. The Doctor handed her a plate of pancakes. “Umm..are those raisins?” she pointed to one contained within the pancake.

“I love raisins!” the Doctor exclaimed. She added more batter to the griddle. “So, where do you want to go today? I’ve got a few suggestions…”

“Actually, there’s something I want to talk about with you.” Her tone was serious.

The Doctor turned around from the griddle and looked at her, feeling her hearts race. Had she done something wrong? “What is it?”

Rose went quiet for what seemed like an eternity. Finally she said,“It’s just…what you said before, about how human life spans are so much shorter than yours.” She looked away.

The Doctor considered her next words carefully before she spoke. “Rose, in the future, humans develop a number of techniques to extend their lifespans. There are some methods out there that could add ten years, maybe fifteen. If you’re interested, I can take you to a colony where they do the treatments. There are other methods, but they have some serious side effects. Humanity isn’t equipped to deal with immortality, or even an extremely long life. People who have done this, their personalities change…and the change is not good. Remember Cassandra?”

Rose nodded. “How could I forget her?”

“Yeah. And you know how that ended.” The Doctor continued. “To be honest, a lot of Time Lords don’t do well with it either. A lot of them refused to regenerate after so many lives. They’d seen too much, lost too many. There’s a lot of downsides, and I don’t know if I’d wish it on anyone else.” She paused, thinking of what immortality had done to Ashildr. To Captain Jack. She thought briefly of River. What kind of existence did she have now, stuck in a simulated world? She tried not to think about it.

“When we met before, I was absolute rubbish at dealing with loss. I was so busy trying to save everyone that it didn’t matter what kind of life they’d have afterward, because I couldn’t handle letting them die. But here’s the thing: we will all be gone, someday. I know you won’t be with me forever, and I accept it.” She took Rose’s hands “Loving you..it’s worth it. I’m sorry it took me so long to understand that.”

“Well, you got there. How long did it take..a thousand years?” Rose cracked a smile.

“For a clever person, I can be thick about some things.” She sniffed “Do you smell burning?”

Rose pointed behind her “You left the pancakes on for too long!”

“Oh no, I did!” She turned around, scooped one up with a spatula and examined it. “Hmmm, they’re not so bad. I’ll save these for Graham.” She chuckled.

Yaz walked into the kitchen. “Why do I smell burning? Doctor, are you cooking again? What did I tell you after the last time?!”

The Doctor put her hands on her hips. “It only took two fire extinguishers to put that out! Besides, this time the food is edible. Mostly.”

“It was my fault. I distracted her.” Rose chimed in. “With a conversation!” she hastily added.

“Was I interrupting anything?” Yaz asked.

“No, it’s okay.” Rose smiled. “Actually, I just realized I forgot my phone. I’ll be right back.”

After she left, Yaz sat down. “Yaz, pancakes?” The Doctor asked, flipping the last batch.

“Sure.” She replied. “You know, Doctor, there’s something different about you. It’s like, you’re happy. I mean, not that you weren’t happy before. I mean, you always smile a lot and you’re perky, but it’s different now. More…content.”

“Of course I’m happy.” The Doctor replied. “I’m traveling with my love and my best friends. We’ve got a whole universe ahead of us. So many things to see and do!”

And the Doctor was, indeed happy.
But it was not to last.

Chapter Text

Two weeks later

“Are you holding those switches down?” the Doctor asked.

“Got ‘em right here.” Rose replied. The TARDIS had stopped working, and they’d been in the console room trying to fix it for the past two hours. Unfortunately, they had not made much progress.

The Doctor made a few adjustments with the wrench. Rose felt electricity through her fingers “Ow!” She drew her hands back.

The Doctor stopped what she was doing and walked over. “Are you okay?”

“I’m all right. It was just a little shock.” She shrugged.

The Doctor looked at a display. “Now the energy readings are even worse! How did that happen?” She looked up at the console. “Wait. Are you jealous of her?” The lights flickered. “Is it the Bad Wolf thing? That was ages ago. I know you don’t experience the passage of time, but cut her some slack!” The lights flickered again.

“That’s a new one. Jealous time machine.” The Doctor grumbled. She turned to Rose. “I don’t think she’s going to let you work on her.”

“Can she really get jealous?” Rose asked.

“I dunno. I wish I’d kept the manual instead of throwing it into a supernova. Why don’t I work on this alone for a bit, see if that helps?”

“Okay. I’ll go see what the others are up to.”

The Doctor pulled her in for a quick kiss. “Love you.”

Rose headed into the media room, where Ryan and Graham had a TV show paused and were talking. “Hey guys.”

“Hey Rose.” Ryan smiled.

“You seem like you’re in a good mood today.” She told him.

“Just got off the phone with Dad. For once, it went well. He’s gonna visit me the next time we’re in Sheffield.”

“I’m so glad!” She and Ryan had filled her in on the rocky relationship with his father. At first, she’d had a rough go of it with her own dad, especially given her sudden entry into his life. Eventually, they developed a good relationship, with some help from her mum.

“Yeah, I’m hoping he’ll show up this time.” Ryan said. “Trying to think positive.”

“He will, son.” Graham said. “On another note,Rose, we were wondering about something. Would you show us a picture of the Doctor as you knew her before? Or him, I guess? We’re just having a hard time picturing this whole regeneration thing.”

“Oh, sure!” she pulled out her phone and went to the photographs. “Here’s one of us in Tanzania. We’d gone to investigate possible alien ship wreckage, but it turned out to be some highly unorthodox drag racers.” They studied the photo.

“Hmmm, not a bad looking bloke. No wonder you liked him.” Graham said.

“She told us that just before we met her, she was a white-haired Scotsman.” Ryan said.

“Scottish? I can’t picture that.” Rose shook her head. “He pretended to be Scottish, once-we were investigating some weird happenings with Queen Victoria and werewolves. He wasn’t very convincing.”

“Hey, this is a 3-D picture. So cool!” Ryan said, holding it up. “Any others on here?” He started scrolling through the pictures.

“Ry, stop playing with my phone!” she cried, trying to snatch it back, but he playfully held it over her head.

“Nope, future technology is mine!” he cackled.

“You know what? I’m going to take your phone!” she snatched it off the coffee table. She started scrolling through the photos. “Oooh, am I going to find anything incriminating?” Then she got to a photo and her expression froze.

“Oh my God.” She showed Graham the photo. “Is this your wife?”

“Yeah, that was from our last anniversary. Why?” Graham asked.

She spoke slowly. “The accident that killed him…I was injured and had to go to hospital. The nurse who took care of me looked a lot like her.”

“Nan was a nurse.” Ryan’s voice was soft.

“She was very kind. She helped me go on after everything happened. And she told me her husband had recently died. Of cancer.” She remembered then, when she’d first met Graham, he’d mentioned being in remission.

“That sounds like her. Rose, is it possible? Is it Grace?” Graham looked hopeful.

“I wish I had some more proof! I’m sorry, but I don’t remember her name. I was grieving and on a lot of painkillers…wait!” she sprinted to her and the Doctor’s room. She found her backpack and pulled out the tablet. She powered on, hit a few buttons, and found what she was looking for. She ran as fast as she could back to the media room.

She held up the screen. “I’m so glad I didn’t delete this.”

“What is all that?” Ryan asked.

“My discharge instructions from hospital. She signed them when she went over them with me.” She pointed to the name at the bottom:

Grace Sinclair O’Brien.


The Doctor was making progress in the console room when Rose, Ryan, and Graham came running up to her all shouting at once. She made out the words “portal” and “hospital” and “Grace” before she exclaimed “Oi, quiet you lot! One at a time.”

“Doc, Grace is alive. In the parallel universe. Rose saw her there.” Graham’s eyes were wild “We have to go see her.”

“She was my nurse. Looked just like her. Told me her husband died of cancer. Look!” Rose showed her the tablet.

“So can we go?” Ryan asked.

“No, no, no, absolutely not. We already went over this. No parallel universe. With the portal as unstable as it is, it’s too risky.” The Doctor admonished them. She was a little annoyed with Rose for getting their hopes up, but they’d discuss that later. “Even if the portal was stable, there’s no guarantee that we’d be able to see her.”

Graham frowned. “If my Grace is still out there…”

“She is not your Grace! She could be a very different person.” The Doctor exclaimed. “People can have the same appearance, same name, but they can come from different circumstances and have different personalities. Too often, circumstances are what shapes someone.”

Yaz walked in. “Doctor, how are the re-hey, what’s going on?”

“We’re going to the parallel universe!” Ryan said

“We are?!” she was excited.

“As I just explained, no, we are not!” The Doctor was cross. “There is a woman there that has Grace’s name and appearance, but that doesn’t make her the same person.”

“From Rose’s description, it sounds just like Nan. She was a nurse. She was caring and kind. She was married to Granddad. I want to see her.” Ryan pleaded. “And if she’s still alive, maybe my mum is too. Rose, did she say anything about other family members?”

“She didn’t mention them, no.” Rose said.

“Okay, let’s say we can get the portal to stabilize.” The Doctor said. “We go there…how do we find her? Stalk her at work? Graham, are you going to go up to her and introduce yourself as her dead husband? We’re bound to scare her!”

“Torchwood would help.” Rose said. “We have protocols for dealing with civilian encounters with aliens. We could adapt them to this situation. And they can find anybody.”

“I still don’t like it. We definitely can’t take the TARDIS. If the portal collapses, we will be stuck there without her. And left alone, if she fell into the wrong hands…” she didn’t need to finish.

“What if Ryan, Graham, and I went, and you stayed here?” Rose asked.

She frowned. “No. I won’t lose you again.”

“Doctor, we should do this.” Rose took her hand and looked in eyes. “Look how well it worked out for Mum. I’ve never seen her happier than she has been since she went there to live with Dad. And I got to know Dad, and I got brother too. I know, there’s a risk. It’s the same one I took when I went through the portal before. And if I hadn’t…we wouldn’t be together. We take risks all the time. Please.”

The Doctor sighed. Rose had a point. And she still felt awful about what happened to Grace in this world. If there had been a way to cross her timeline and prevent Grace from dying, she would have done it, but perhaps this was the next best thing. “Okay, one short trip. First, I need to finish fixing the TARDIS. I’m almost done. Then, I need to figure out how to stabilize the portal. No offense to you lot, but it requires highly specialized knowledge. I wish UNIT were still around…”

“Osgood!” Rose cried. “Could she help? I have her number; she helped me find you.”

“Yes! Osgoods! They’re brilliant! Rose, give them a call.” She exclaimed.

“Osgoods?” She was confused.

“Yes, there are two. At least one of them is a Zygon. Long story.” The Doctor started rushing around the console room. “ Ryan, grab those cords over there. Yaz, get the jumper cables out of the junk drawer. Graham, get coffee and come back straight away. We have a lot of work ahead of us.”

--
Twenty hours and two Osgoods later, everyone was exhausted, but the repairs and portal stabilization were complete. The Doctor had worked almost without stopping, but everyone else was exhausted. Ryan was huddled up asleep in a corner. She woke him up and told him to get Graham, who’d they’d sent to bed ages ago. Rose and Yaz were fighting to keep their eyes open. She took the TARDIS to the site of the portal and ran some tests.

“The stabilization is requiring a lot of energy,” the Doctor told the Osgoods. “ I’m using the TARDIS as a power source. It’s not going to last very long, 16, maybe 20 hours at most. Can you stay on site and monitor the readings?”

“Of course.” One of the Osgoods said. “We’re always happy to help you out-and this is the most interesting work we’ve had in months.”

The Doctor showed them all the readings and gave them detailed instructions. Then she addressed her team.

“Fam, the risk of portal destabilization right now is about five percent. Once the power is gone, the risk of destabilization jumps to 95 percent. According to Rose, Torchwood will bring Grace to their headquarters in Canary Wharf, and arrange for us to meet her there. They’re also monitoring the portal on their side. If the site destabilizes, if we are delayed before it runs out of power, there is a chance we could be trapped in the parallel universe. We won’t be able to rush right back to the site if it starts destabilizing. There is also the chance that they can’t find Grace, or she doesn’t want to see us. Does anybody want to stay?”

Yaz looked up. “Not a chance. We all stay together.” The others nodded.

“Everyone ready? We have to go.” The Doctor told them.

“Now? But,” Ryan checked his watch “It’s 6am.”

“Yeah, now. The clock is ticking. Osgoods, we’ll see you soon.”

Everyone dragged themselves to their feet. Rose slipped her hand in the Doctor’s. “Are you sure you want to go?” she asked.

“’Together, or not at all.’ That’s what my father-in-law used to say.” They all walked out of the TARDIS “Wise man, he was. Of course, he would have picked up a few things in the two thousand years he spent as an Auton…”

Rose shook her head. “I don’t even want to know.”

They stepped into the portal.


Pete’s World

Martha cursed as her phone beeped. She’d been up until 2am the night before dealing with Weevils in Highgate Cemetery. Who was bothering her now? Bleary-eyed, she fumbled around for her phone, grabbed it, and looked at the display.

And nearly screamed.

“Rose, is it really you? What happened?! Did you find the Doctor?” she fought to keep her voice down.

“Martha! There’s a lot I need you to do, but first, send out a vehicle to the portal site as soon as you can. With enough room for five people.” Rose spoke quickly.

“Five?!” she threw off her blankets and went straight to her laptop to alert a team member. “Did you bring a whole family?”

“Sort of. Are you sitting down? It’s gonna be a long story…”

Chapter Text

Graham tapped his foot as he sat in a nondescript, windowless conference room on the eighth floor of Torchwood Tower. “How much longer is it going to be?” he asked. “It feels like we’ve been in here forever.”

The Torchwood team put everyone through tests-fingerprints, body scan, and weapons check. “Just a precaution, to make sure you’re not hostiles,” they were told. Once they confirmed Rose’s identity, she was exempt from further testing. They asked numerous questions about their origin and about Grace. Then they were all led into the conference room and told to wait.

Yaz looked at her watch. “It’s been about four hours. Guess they have to do all their checks, make sure Grace doesn’t freak out.” She paused. “Rose had mentioned there were a lot of protocols for unusual encounters, because there had been past incidents where civilians encountered aliens and it hadn’t gone well.”

“They could bring us some food, at least.” Graham tried to crack a smile, but for once, he didn’t think he could eat anything. He kept thinking of what the Doctor had said, how Grace could be different in this universe. He wasn’t sure he could handle a stranger occupying the face of the woman he loved. It would be the Solitract all over again, and he wasn’t sure he could cope with that. Every minute they spent in this crappy room was less time to get to know her, to find out who she was. And they weren’t going to have a lot of time.

Meanwhile, the Doctor paced the room. The team who examined them tried to take her sonic screwdriver, but she talked them into letting her keep it. she scanned the chairs, and then the projector screen, which completely unraveled on the floor.

“Is everything okay?” Ryan asked.

“Yeah. Just bored.” Leaving the screen in a pile, she moved on to scanning the table. “How did my other self ever do this? Sittin’ in conference rooms, going to meetings.”

“Rose is coming back, yeah?” he said.

“She’s downstairs seeing her family.” The Doctor kept her voice upbeat, but failed to stifle a frown.

“And she didn’t bring you?” Yaz raised an eyebrow.

“Yeah, but that’s okay. Me and her mum, we’ve never gotten along.” She explained. “The more distance between me and Jackie, the better. In another universe altogether had been ideal, really.”

Then the door opened, and a woman stepped in. The Doctor immediately ran up and hugged her. “Martha Jones! I’ve heard so much about you from Rose! Even though I never met you before, I’m so glad to see you.”

“Yeah, you’re definitely the Doctor.” Martha grinned, hugging her back. Martha introduced herself to the others. “We’re ready for you. Come with me.”

Martha continued talking as they walked down the hall. “We’ve talked to Grace at length, and she’s happy to meet with you, Ryan and Graham. Her life sounds very similar to the one you described in your universe. She moved here to London sixteen months ago, after the other Graham’s death. We asked about additional family members, but we think contacting them at this time would be complicated. Ryan, your counterpart lives in Sheffield with your dad.”

“My mum….?” Ryan looked hopeful.

“Passed away, seven years ago. I’m sorry.” Martha looked remorseful. She stopped in front of a wooden door. “Here we are. Ryan, Graham, go on in when you’re ready.”

She turned to the Doctor. “As long as you’re here, I would love to get your opinion on some alien artifacts we haven’t been able to identify. Could you help?”

“Absolutely. Yaz can come with us, right?”

“Of course.” Martha led the women to the elevator banks.


Graham put his hand on the doorknob and tried to steady his shaking hand. Grace was on the other side of that door. What if she was completely different in this universe?
What if she was the same? Too much alike?
He didn’t know, but he had to find out.

“Ryan, would you mind giving us a few minutes?” he asked.

“Yeah, Granddad. Go ahead.” He smiled.

He took a deep breath and opened the door, to find his dead wife sitting at a small table. She stood up. For a moment, he stared at her, speechless.

“Grace…” He stopped. Over the months she’d been gone, there had been so many things he wanted to tell her. He’d imagined being able to talk to her again, telling her what he’d seen and done. But at that moment, none of it seemed important.

“Graham!” she replied. “It really is you! This is amazing! You look so…I’m sorry, the last time I saw you, you were so sick…” she trailed off. “You’re…okay though?”

“Yeah, in remission.” His voice was soft.

“I must look like a mess. I worked third shift last night, and I’d just gotten to bed when they called…”

“You look beautiful.” He told her. “He walked over and took her in his arms “Grace…I’ve missed you so much.” This felt like a dream, being able to hold her again, and if it was, he didn’t want to wake up.

She held onto him. “Somehow, I always knew you’d come back to me. I didn’t know how or what form it would take. But here you are.”

They stood holding each other for a few minutes. Then she asked “You brought the Ryan from your world, too?”

“He’s just outside.” Reluctantly letting her go, Graham walked over and opened the door.

“Nan!” Ryan cried, and rushed over to hug her. “I’ve missed you!”

Grace hugged him “You look so much like my Ryan, it’s hard to believe you’re not him.” She looked over the two of them. ”They told me you travel in space together?”

“Yeah, me and Granddad. We’ve done so much cool stuff!” Ryan grinned.

“You know, here, the two of you didn’t get to know each other well. We’d only been married a short time, and we’d only see you when you and your Dad came over for dinner once a month.”

“When did he start living with Dad?” Ryan asked.

“Why wouldn’t he?” she raised an eyebrow.

“Dad and I…we haven’t always gotten along. He left…when Mum died.” His voice choked. “We’re working on it though. That didn’t happen here?”

“No. He’d never do that. You’ve always been his first priority, love.” Her voice was low. “I can’t imagine him doing anything else. I’m so sorry to hear that.”

They kept talking. Graham noted her dress was different, as were some of her mannerisms, but she was Grace in every way that mattered. And for the first time since the fight with Tim Shaw at the construction site, he felt whole.


Meanwhile, the Doctor was making a disaster of the careful cataloging the Torchwood artifact team had done.

“Ooooh, haven’t seen one of these in ages.” She picked up a large piece of metal out of a box. “Short range transporter. Popular in Cosmos Redshift 7. Classic design,” She hit the side. “Looks like the energy source is dead. Useless now.” She tossed it aside, where it clattered on the ground. Yaz grabbed it and tried to remember what box it had come from, as Martha took notes on her tablet.

Rose walked in. “Thought I’d find you guys here.”

“Don’t mind me, I’ve put her to work.” Martha indicated the boxes.

“You’re all about efficiency, aren’t you?” Rose teased.

“Well, we’ve been short handed since you left!” Martha grinned.

The Doctor stopped rummaging through boxes and looked up. “Hey. How are your mum and dad?”

Rose rolled her eyes. “Dad is fine. Things with Mum…she demanded to know ‘Since when did you go that way’, and then complained at length I’m never going to give her grandchildren. I’m giving her some time to cool down.”

Yaz remarked, “That’s rubbish. There’s plenty of ways to have children.”

“There are.” The Doctor agreed. “Don’t even need a man to be involved, actually. There’s human settlements out there that can make babies from eggs alone, even combine DNA of three or four people…” she stopped. “Rose, do you want children?”

Rose hesitated. “Umm…I’m not sure. He and I..we always assumed we’d figure it out later.” She glanced around. “Maybe this isn’t the best time to talk about it?”

“Oh! Right, sorry.” She grinned nervously. “I’m gonna go back to this stuff.”

“Hold on a second. Got a call.” Martha put down the tablet and picked up her phone. “What? Are you sure? Yeah, I’ll check.” She grabbed her tablet and pulled out a different program. She looked grim, her face pinched.

“What’s wrong?” Yaz asked.

Martha looked up. “It’s the portal. It’s been holding stable, but now it looks like some of the readings are fluctuating.”

“What? No, we can’t be stuck here.” Yaz looked worried. “I thought we had at least another ten hours.”

“We should have.” The Doctor dropped what she was holding and looked at the tablet with Martha. “We used the TARDIS to provide energy to keep the portal stable. There should have been enough power.”

“What if it needed power applied to both sides?” Martha asked.

“You’re right! How could I have been so daft?” She grabbed the tablet from Martha and looked at the readings. “It looks like you have a good connection to the portal already. We just need a source of power, but it’s gonna be tremendous power” She grabbed the stylus and started frantically writing out equations. “1.7 x 10^20 watts. Huge.”

“That’s as much power output as a small star.” Martha remarked, brows knitted. “We might have a few things in the lab that can get close.”

“Really?! How?!”

“We’d found some power sources from alien generation ships. No solar panels, no external energy sources. They’d have to have that kind of power to run for hundreds of years, right?”

“Martha, you are brilliant in every universe!” The Doctor exclaimed. ”Where is the lab?”

“It’s on the sixth floor. We’ve been trying to turn them into an alternate source to replace fossil fuels, but we haven’t gotten them to work consistently.”

“Okay, we’ll head up there and make some modifications.” She turned to Yaz and grabbed her shoulders “Yaz, you need to get Ryan and Graham and bring them to the lab. No telling how long we’ll be able to keep the portal stable. I’m sorry everyone, we’re going to have to cut visit time short. Let’s move!”

--
One hour later, the Doctor, Martha, and Rose had worked out a jury-rigged solution. They’d connected the power sources, held together with clamps and wires. “Now don’t touch a thing!” the Doctor said. “It should give us enough time to get back to the portal. But we need to leave soon.”

Rose heaved a sigh of relief. “How much time do we have?”

“90 minutes, maybe two hours. And it’s going to take some time to the portal.” The Doctor replied. “The others should have been back by now. Where are they?”

“Let’s go get them. They’re just two floors up.” Martha suggested. They ran up the stairs and back to the conference room. They found Ryan, Graham, and Yaz standing outside talking in raised voices, looking tense.

“Come on fam. We gotta go. Portal’s gonna destabilize soon.” The Doctor bounced on the balls of her feet, ready to sprint to the exit.

Graham didn’t move. He spoke evenly, “Doc, I’m not going back.”

Chapter Text

“What? No. You can’t stay here.” The Doctor’s face crumpled. She was not going to lose anyone. Not today. “Come on, we need to get going.”

“I’ve been trying to talk him out of it.” Yaz’s eyes were full of hurt. “He won’t budge.”

“What do I have to go back for?” Graham sounded almost surly. “My pension?”

“Don’t be ridiculous. You have Ryan!” She knew coming here was a bad idea. He’d gotten too attached.

He looked over at Ryan. “He was the only hesitation I had. But he’s a man now. Pretty soon, he’ll be moving out, having his own life. I don’t want to spend my remaining years rattling around an empty house. I don’t have many left. I want to spend them with Grace.”

“You also have us! We all care about you. There are so many more places I want to take you all. Anywhere you want to go, Graham? You name it.” Her voice had an edge of desperation.

He shook his head. “Traveling with you has been great, Doc. It really has. But I am lost without her.”

“No, no no, I won’t have it. This is nonsense!” she sputtered. “Graham O’ Brien, if you don’t come with us right now…”

She was interrupted by a hand on her shoulder. “Doctor, stop.” Rose was stern. “He’s made his choice.”

She hated to admit it, but Rose was right. She was insisting Graham not leave for her own selfish reasons. Rose pulled her back when she went too far. As she always had.

“It was not enough time.” Graham said. “I only had three years with her, before. Even if we could have stayed a longer, a week, or a month..it would never be enough time.”

She glanced back at Rose before replying, “I know.” Not even in a life that extended for millenia, there was never enough time to spend with the people you loved. She looked in Ryan’s direction. “Are you okay with this?”

“I haven’t seen Granddad this happy in months.” Ryan’s voice wavered a little at first, but he went on, strong and calm. “I’m gonna miss him, but this is the right thing.”

“Do you want to stay?” she asked him.

“I’m gonna miss him and Nan, but I don’t wanna stop traveling with you guys. Plus, there’s my dad. In this universe, he’s a great dad. Maybe he could be in our universe too. But I won’t know unless I go back.” He was somber.

“Okay, okay.” She said softly. “I’ll try to keep the portal stable long term. In case you change your mind.”

“Sorry to interrupt, but the car’s ready downstairs.” Martha said.

“We need to get going.” Yaz looked worried.

“Oh, I’m no good at goodbyes.” The Doctor said, blinking back tears.

Graham hugged her. “Thank you so much, for everything, Doc.” She hugged him back, trying to keep herself together. He turned to Rose “Rose, none of this would be possible without you. I can’t thank you enough.”

“Thank you for helping me when I first came back.” She smiled. “Martha has Mum phone number. Call her if you need anything. Tell her I said so.”

“I will. Yaz, keep Ryan out of trouble.” He winked. Then he turned to Ryan “Make us proud, son.”

Ryan grabbed on to him. “I love you, Granddad.”

Graham went back into the conference room. The other headed downstairs to the car. They barely spoke a word through the trip back to the seaside. The Doctor put her head on Rose’s shoulder and let the tears roll down her face. Rose had an arm around her and stroked her hair. Losing her friends, even when she lost so many, was always difficult.

But this time, it felt a little different. Losing Graham was terribly painful, but it didn’t feel like the world was ending. And having Rose made it easier to bear.

Eventually, it was going to be all right.


After returning to their home universe, the TARDIS barely had enough power to function. They went to Cardiff for a day and a half to refuel on the rift.

While the TARDIS refueled, they talked about Graham. Shared stories about how he always had to bring food with him and all the complaining he used to do on their adventures. Ryan shared stories Graham had told him about crazy bus passengers he’d dealt with. They all had a drink in his honor, except the Doctor stuck with tea this time.

Ryan asked to go home after they’d refueled. “I talked to Dad. He’s going to meet me Granddad’s house in a couple hours. We were supposed to see each other when I went back, anyway. I’m gonna talk to him about putting the house up for sale. I’m barely home as it is, no point in keeping it around, empty.”

The Doctor nodded. “Right. Off to Sheffield then.” She parked the TARDIS in its usual spot, outside Park Hill estate. “Here we are.” She headed towards the door. “Shall we?”

“Actually, Doctor, you don’t need to come with me. I think it’s a conversation me and Dad have to have one on one. If we do sell the house, there’s a bunch of legal stuff we’ll need to take care of. Dealing with estate agents, paperwork. We’ll probably need to do some repairs around here too. It’s gonna need a few days to get everything taken care of. You guys should go ahead.”

“Are you sure?” she asked.

“Yeah, it’s all going to be really boring, and there’s not much for you guys to do.”

“True. I’m terrible at paperwork.” The Doctor admitted. “You’re coming back, right?”

“Yeah. Give me a call in a few days.” Ryan replied. “And don’t you dare delete the game room while I’m gone.”

“Wouldn’t dream of it.” She smiled.”Also, keep in mind having a transdimesional spaceship is great for helping with moving.”

“I think I’m going to take a few days off too.” Yaz said. “I’d like to spend some time with Mum and Dad, after everything that’s happened. I’ve hardly seen them at all in the past couple weeks.”

“Tell them I said hi.” The Doctor said. She hugged them both. “See you soon.”

As Ryan and Yaz walked out of the TARDIS, she turned to Rose. “I suppose we have a few days to ourselves.”

“Well, that could be fun.” Rose looked concerned. “But what are you up for?”

“For once, I’m doing all right. It’s easier with you here.” She walked over to the console. “What should we do? Anywhere you’d like to go?”

“Doesn’t matter, as long as it’s with you.” Rose smiled. “Always.”

“I’ll hold you to that.” With one arm around Rose’s waist, she pulled the lever, and they felt the ship move.“You know, I don’t have to look human. Next time I could regenerate into a completely different form. I could look like a Hath! Or, I could be purple with three heads. Always wanted to be purple.”

Rose laughed. “It wouldn’t matter.” She stroked the Doctor’s cheek. “But don’t talk regeneration just yet. I’m rather attached to this face.”

“I love you, Rose.”

“I love you, Doctor.”