Author: Liz/surrexi —
Fandom/Pairings: Doctor Who (new series + Big Finish Audios) | Ten/Rose, Eight/Charley
Spoilers/Timeline: New series: set after Voyage of the Damned; Big Finish Audios: set after The Girl Who Never Was
Word Count: 1215 (this chapter)
Summary: The Eighth Doctor unexpectedly lands in a parallel world and a blonde unlocks his front door; the Tenth Doctor answers a distress call and finds an old friend on a deserted beach. When an old enemy brings the four of them together, can they save the universe in time to sort out their own timelines?
Notes/Disclaimer: This fic would have been impossible without the encouragement and input of my invaluable beta, unbrokensky — . I own nothing, everyone belongs to the BBC and/or Big Finish. Also, please note that this chapter does pick up earlier than the last one left off, getting Charley's POV on some events of the last chapter and then moving on.
chapter one | chapter two | chapter three | chapter four | chapter five | chapter six | chapter seven | chapter eight | chapter nine | chapter ten | chapter eleven
Charley gaped at the Doctor, silhouetted in the TARDIS doorway by the low lights of the console room in which they’d landed. She’d never seen her Doctor react this way to anything, and she was certain that this Doctor, with his silver tongue that never seemed to stop moving, didn’t often react this way either.
Rather than race after the Doctor, Charley looked back at the monitor on the console. She tried to gauge the reaction of the woman on the screen despite the dim lighting. Charley could just make out her lips moving, probably saying the Doctor’s name, Charley mused. Other than that, she was as still as a statue.
“Rose,” Charley heard the Doctor say, and then both he and the woman were running towards each other, meeting in the middle of the screen and tangling together in a way that had Charley’s eyebrows winging up in surprise. The Doctor’s hands were threaded in the woman’s hair, and they were pressed together so that between the dim light and the small size of the console monitor, it was difficult for Charley to differentiate between the two of them.
Then they were kissing, which had Charley’s eyebrows winging up even higher. Oh, there had been moments with her Doctor when she’d felt as if they were close to crossing lines, like in the clock tower on Caerdroia with the Eeyore side of the Doctor’s personality, and there were those odd dream-like memories of their first experiences in the timeless parallel universe. But beyond that, Charley had sort of thought the Doctor just didn’t get involved in that way.
Then she heard pointed coughs, and her gaze was riveted on the third person on the console screen. Her Doctor. His calm, deep voice drifted in through the doors and had Charley closing her eyes in relief. Even after seeing his image on the screen, she had in a way been afraid to believe he’d really been there.
Eyes still closed, she turned around so she was facing the door again, letting the voices outside wash over her. Her Doctor’s measured tones mixed with the other Doctor’s more manic babbles, and Charley opened her eyes. She strode towards the door and paused, staring out at the trio standing near the console.
Her Doctor was standing facing the TARDIS she’d arrived in, but he was looking at the other Doctor, who stood hand in hand with the woman he’d been kissing a few moments earlier. Charley could make out a faint smile on her Doctor’s face.
“Oh my God,” she said quietly, finally allowing herself to really believe he was there. She shook her head slightly, a smile spreading over her face. “It’s you.”
She wanted to step out of the doorway, wanted to cross the distance between them and burrow into a hug, but she stayed where she was, fingers curled around the rough wood of the TARDIS exterior as if she were trying to remind herself it was all real.
Her eyes flitted briefly to the other Doctor before returning to lock on hers. “He said we never saw each other again, but it’s you.”
“Charley,” he said, her name flowing out of his lips as it always had, a wealth of affection evident in the warmth of his voice. Then he was crossing the room to her, and he pulled her out of the doorway and into his arms, and she buried her face in the crook of his neck, hooked her arms securely around his waist, and savored the feel of his velvet coat under her cheek.
“Doctor,” she murmured against his throat.
“Oh, Charley,” he said, pressing his lips against her hair. “How I’ve missed you.”
“Missed you, too.”
He pulled back slightly, pushing gently at her shoulders so he could look her in the eye. “I got your note,” he said, sadness in his eyes. “I thought you wanted me to leave you alone.”
“I left that note before everything happened,” she explained, eyes wide. “I changed my mind. I wanted to stay with you. I wanted that more than anything.”
He reached up and stroked her cheek softly with the backs of his fingers. “You did?”
“Why do you think I wouldn’t let you make me forget you? I couldn’t forget you because you were the best thing that ever happened to me.”
“Was I?” His tone was a combination of disbelieving and pleasantly surprised.
“Of course you were.” Now it was she who reached for his face, cupping his cheek with her palm. “I would have stayed with you, for ever. I was trying to get back to you.”
“Yes,” Charley said, her smile growing larger. “I was very clever, if I do say so myself.”
“Oh, she was brilliant,” the other Doctor broke in. He and the woman had come closer to Charley and her Doctor. They were still holding hands, their fingers woven together as if simply clasping palms wasn’t a tight enough connection. “She salvaged bits and pieces of the Cybermen’s ship and built her own crystal set! She was sending out an SOS, and I picked it up.” He smiled at her. “Land the TARDIS and suddenly there’s someone pounding on my door. Gave her a bit of a shock to see me instead of you, I think.”
“I suppose it would.”
Charley frowned up at her Doctor. “You could have told me about…” she glanced at the other Doctor. “What did you call it?”
“Regeneration,” he supplied.
“Yes,” Charley said. “Regeneration. It would have been nice to know about it beforehand. Imagine if I’d been with you when it happened! I wouldn’t have had a clue what was going on.”
The woman holding hands with the other Doctor let out a laugh. “Been there, done that,” she muttered good-naturedly. “He’s not the most forthcoming of blokes,” she said. “He didn’t warn me either, and then he just exploded in a rush of golden light.” She shook her head. “Very upsetting.” She bumped her shoulder up against his. “But it turned out all right.”
She dropped the other Doctor’s hand then and held hers out to Charley, who extricated herself from her Doctor’s hold to take it.
“I’m Rose Tyler,” the woman said. “From Earth, born in nineteen eighty-six.” She gave Charley’s hand a friendly squeeze and shake before dropping it with a smile. “What about you?”
“Oh, I’m Charley,” she said. “Charley Pollard. I was born – on Earth – in nineteen twelve. The day the Titanic sank, actually.”
“I was there!” the other Doctor said brightly. “Got stuck clinging to an iceberg. Terrible mess.” He glanced at Charley’s Doctor, looking slightly guilty. “Sorry, shouldn’t have mentioned that. After your time.”
Her Doctor shook his head. “I suspect I’ll already have to forget much of what’s happening now. What’s one more detail?”
“Good point,” said the other Doctor. “Now that we’ve got all that squared away, who’s for figuring out what exactly is going on here?”
“An excellent idea, Doctor,” replied Charley’s Doctor.
“Thank you, Doctor,” replied the other. Rose rolled her eyes exaggeratedly and Charley suppressed a giggle.
The four of them made their way to the doors of her Doctor’s TARDIS, and the other Doctor took a deep breath before pushing them open.