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: 1660 (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. Apologies for the late posting; I had a bunch of dental work done yesterday and I'm terrified of that, so I was on drugs and slept through the entire day ;)
chapter one | chapter two | chapter three | chapter four | chapter five | chapter six | chapter seven | chapter eight | chapter nine | chapter ten | chapter eleven | chapter twelve | chapter thirteen | chapter fourteen | chapter fifteen | chapter sixteen | chapter seventeen
Rose sank down on to the captain’s bench in the console room with a grateful sigh. Eyes closed, she took a deep breath and steeped herself in the feeling of finally, after the longest year of her life, finally being home. A slight, secretive smile playing across her face, she opened her eyes to find that the Doctor had paused in his preparations at the console to stare at her.
“Feels good to be home,” she said simply.
Wordlessly, he set down his sonic screwdriver next to the TARDIS part he’d been working on and crossed to stand in front of her. He cupped her cheeks in his palms and leaned down to press his lips gently against hers. A moment later, he broke the kiss but didn’t move away from her, instead resting his forehead against hers. Rose reached up and lightly circled his wrists with her hands, and they stayed like that for an endless minute, breaths mingling, three heartbeats marking time against the steady pulse of the time rotor.
“You have no idea,” he finally whispered, “how brilliant it is to have you home.” Then he straightened up, stroked his thumbs lightly along her cheekbones, and then returned to the work he was doing on the console. Rose pressed her lips together as if to hold on to the feeling of his against them.
“You’re sure there’s nothing I can do to help?” she finally asked.
“Yes,” he replied instantly. “I’m just tuning some things up to lessen the chance of landing in the wrong place or time when we make the trip to Singapore to drop off Charley.”
“And the memory modification,” Rose began, “you’re going to do that, right? With your Time Lord superpowers?”
The Doctor laughed. “For lack of a better description, yes.” He glanced over at her. “It’s her decision. I won’t do anything she doesn’t ask me to do, no matter what I remember.”
Rose nodded. “I know. I know you wouldn’t.” She tucked her hair behind her ear. “I’d do the same, if I were her,” she admitted. “There’ll be no arguments from me.”
Rose met his questioning gaze unflinchingly. “Yeah, I would. Not to inflate your massive Time Lord ego any more than it already is,” she smiled at his affronted exclamation and then continued, “but you’re quite a bloke. You’re not easy to let go of.”
“Neither are you,” the Doctor said softly before looking back down at the TARDIS part in his hand. “Neither are you.” Then he ducked below the console to return the part to its correct location.
He was still under there when Charley wandered in. They had already disengaged the mechanisms holding the TARDISes together, and now instead of one funny blue box parked in an alley in the Powell Estate, there were two. Rose was fairly certain this would be more conspicuous than one, but neither Doctor had seemed particularly worried. Now, as they prepared to return the other Doctor and Charley to Singapore, they were all freely wandering back and forth between the two police boxes. Rose mused that it would be quite an interesting show for anyone bothering to watch the CCTV feed of that particular alley. She gave Charley a small wave in greeting.
“Hello Charley,” she said brightly. “How are things in the other TARDIS?”
Charley smiled slightly. “Going swimmingly, as far as I can tell. And here?”
Rose beamed. “Right as rain.” She pointed to the Doctor’s calves and trainers sticking out from under the console. “He’s just tuning things up a bit to ensure greater accuracy. The TARDIS likes you, though, so I’m pretty sure things would be fine anyway.”
“Hmm,” Charley said, gazing up at the gently pulsing time rotor.
“You do still want to go through with it, don’t you?”
“Oh, yes, of course. It’s not as if I’ll be forgetting anything particularly wonderful anyway – a deserted island and then narrowly avoiding a universe-ending paradox or two.” She shrugged. “I just want to be with him.”
The Doctor pushed his way out from under the console and grinned at Charley. “And we’re going to make sure you can.” He got to his feet and leaned back against the railing, watching Charley carefully. “What is it?” he finally asked.
“I just… I was wondering…”
“No,” he said softly.
She blinked in surprise. “No what?”
“No, I won’t tell you why you left. Well, leave. Well… Did you know Gallifreyan has at least three times as many verb tenses as English? It’s terribly complicated keeping track of all the different times something can happen or have happened.”
“I’m just going to forget anyway,” Charley began, but the Doctor cut her off by taking her hands in his.
“Everything that’s happened to me in my life, and I promise you this, Charley – none of it would have been easier if I’d known it was coming, even for a little while. And some of it would have been less fun. That’s why we modify our memories if we find out too much.”
Charley nodded. “All right.” She managed another smile. “You’re the expert.”
The Doctor looked over at Rose. “Ah, see, you could learn from this one, Rose.”
Rose laughed and got to her feet. “Right. Listen, I want to go have a word with the other Doctor before we head to Singapore.”
“I’ll come get you when I’m ready,” the Doctor said lightly.
“’Kay,” she said, bumping his shoulder a little with hers as she passed.
She pushed open the door and glanced quickly around. She didn’t see anyone, so she hurriedly stepped out and shut the door behind her. Remembering her earlier thoughts about the interesting video the CCTV would be recording, she located the nearest camera and gave it a cheerful wave before crossing the short distance between the TARDIS that was her home and the other.
Knocking briskly, she pushed the door open and found the other Doctor sitting in his armchair staring at the floor. She stepped inside and closed the door.
“Something fascinating in the rug?” she asked blithely.
He looked up at her, and for the first time since she’d first tumbled into his TARDIS in the parallel world, she saw something approaching the same kind of sorrow in his eyes that she had grown used to seeing in her own Doctor’s eyes. “How does he stand it?” he asked. “Knowing what he’s done, feeling all that… nothing.” He shook his head. “I can feel them again, the Time Lords. Since we’re not in the Rani’s Vortex loop anymore, I can still feel them. But I remember…” He broke off, unable to continue.
Moved, Rose knelt down in front of him. “You were so sad when I met you,” she began, treading carefully, remembering what her Doctor had said about knowing beforehand not helping. “But even then you still knew how to find joy in what you do. You save the universe, Doctor. Every day you get up and eat impossible things for breakfast. You change lives for the better.” She reached up and held his cold hands, resting on his lap. “That’s what you did for me. Changed my life for the better. So much for the better.”
She cupped one side of his face with one hand, the other still holding one of his. “That’s how he stands it, how you will stand it. By remembering the good. Sometimes it’s easier than other times.”
She stood up and pulled the Doctor to his feet as well. “You’re fantastic, you know. Every version of you.”
He managed a smile. “I haven’t known you long, Rose Tyler, but I’m fairly certain that you’re quite fantastic yourself.”
Rose smiled and wrapped her arms around his neck, hugging him tightly. His arms slid around her waist and he hugged her back.
“Ask me twice,” she whispered suddenly, urgently against his ear.
“What?” he asked, sounding confused.
Rose wasn’t sure why she did it, why she felt so certain she had to, but she clung to him so he couldn’t pull back and continued to whisper urgently into his ear, his curls tickling at her nose. “Just remember that. Even if it’s just a vague feeling you won’t even realize that you’ve got, even if you won’t ever remember that you remembered. Come back, and ask me twice.”
She felt him nod slightly, and could have sworn she heard, as if from a great distance, a song both familiar and unfamiliar. “Okay,” he said, still sounding a little confused. “Ask you twice,” he repeated, and the song faded from the back of Rose’s mind, forgotten once again.
The door opened behind them and Rose’s Doctor stuck his head in the door. “Leaving me for a younger man, are you Rose?”
Rose laughed and let the other Doctor go. “It was lovely meeting you,” she said honestly. “And thank you, so much, for saving me from the parallel world.” Her Doctor reached them and held out his hand for a shake.
“Add my thanks to hers,” he said solemnly. “I can’t begin to explain how grateful I am,” he admitted as he shook hands with his counterpart. “You won’t understand until you’re me. So you’ll just have to believe that you’ve done yourself a great service.”
The other Doctor nodded. “Charley’s ready, then?”
“Yep. You can go ahead and head for Singapore, modify your memory… don’t forget to go to the hotel lobby. We’ll make sure you run into Charley on your way out.”
“Then thank you,” he said, as solemn as Rose’s Doctor had been. “I don’t need to tell you how much I missed Charley.”
The Doctor shook his head, then took Rose’s hand in his and headed out of the TARDIS of his past and back to the TARDIS of his present. “Let’s go, Rose. You know, Singapore was on my list of places to take you, did I ever mention?”