Authors: _thirty2flavors and goldy_dollar
Characters/Pairings: Ten2/Rose, Jackie, Pete, OCs
Summary: On Tony’s eighth birthday, the Doctor is kidnapped by a paramilitary group who will do anything to defend Earth from aliens.
Warnings: Aaaangst, violence, mentions of torture (offscreen)
Excerpt: But both Rose and the Doctor had a habit of thinking with their hearts and not their heads, and it got them into trouble. They were the sort of people who tested the depth of water with both feet, and for every nine times they managed to swim, there was a tenth time when they needed someone to toss them a life preserver.
Previous parts: Part One, Part Two
Pete Tyler was exhausted by the time he stepped through the door into the mansion.
He'd been at the office virtually non-stop since the Doctor had gone missing, looking into diplomatic avenues long after Rose had gone home to rest. The process was shaping up to be a nightmarish maze of red tape, and Pete knew full well that the longer the official process took, the less likely it became that Rose would be willing to wait.
He sympathized with her, he did. He could imagine how anxious he would be if it were Jackie they'd taken, and he understood that the Doctor and Rose's separation anxiety was by no means unfounded. It certainly didn't help matters that all signs pointed to the Doctor having an unpleasant few days, and Pete knew his own worry for the Doctor was only a fraction of Rose's. He could remember all too well how he'd felt knowing Jackie was somewhere in the Cybus factory.
But both Rose and the Doctor had a habit of thinking with their hearts and not their heads, and it got them into trouble. They were the sort of people who tested the depth of water with both feet, and for every nine times they managed to swim, there was a tenth time when they needed someone to toss them a life preserver. It was his job, as a father and a friend, to try and stop them from drowning.
He leaned back against the front door once he shut it, rubbing his eyes with his hand. As if trying to rescue his son-in-law from a frightening paramilitary group weren't enough, Callie had told him just as he was leaving that some weapons had gone "missing" from Torchwood. Pete was beginning to worry that when he finally went to sleep his body would try to hibernate out of self-preservation.
He pushed himself away from the door just as Jackie stepped into the hall, looking almost as tired as he felt. "Oh, you're home," she said, sounding relieved as she stepped forward and kissed him, wrapping her arms around his neck. "Any luck?"
"Not yet," said Pete, putting his arms around her and sighing. "It's going to be a hassle, trying to do this officially, but it's the best plan we've got."
Jackie pulled back, her mouth drawn into a frown, her hands still on his arms. "Rose must be worried sick. I am." Her tone turned cross. "You can't just take someone like that, I don't care who you are, that's kidnapping." She sighed, all her anger seeming to give way to exhaustion. "Didn't Rose come back with you? You should have made her, I'll bet she hasn't slept since."
Pete shook his head. "No, she went home earlier, she..." He trailed off, staring over Jackie's head, suddenly feeling sick. Weapons were missing, Callie had said.
"Oh," he said finally.
"Oh? 'Oh' what?" Jackie watched him expectantly. "What's 'oh'? Pete?" Pete said nothing, still frozen in place, and Jackie folded her arms, her eyes narrowing. "Peter Alan Tyler, you tell me where my daughter is right now--"
Pete swallowed, finally meeting Jackie's eyes. "I'll have to scan for her mobile to be sure, but.... I think she's in Sweden."
They gave the Doctor a warm shower and a plate of food before locking him in the biology lab. A single camera blinked overhead, tracking his every move. He gave a few longing thoughts to his sonic screwdriver—and then pushed it from his mind. He would have to find another way to escape.
Inga’s carefully crafted research was laid out on a table for him and he idly flicked through her folders and notes before setting them down again. He shoved his hands in his pockets and took a step back, eyeing the table wearily.
He had no doubt in his ability to do what they asked, but he was less certain he was actually capable of it. What they were asking for was genocide—pure and simple. And they had put his finger on the trigger.
He closed his eyes, the crack of Rose’s broken arm ringing in his memory. Some of his earlier horror had given way to anger—how could she? To just... just walk into a heavily guarded facility on her own and give AIF the strongest weapon they could possibly wield against him? She had to know that he couldn’t bear to watch her suffer.
Even through his anger, a part of him recognized that if their positions had been reversed, he would have done the exact same thing. A part of him wished he was strong enough to sacrifice her—but in this human body, with his mortal lifespan, his instincts to protect her drowned out everything else. Rose came first and a part of him didn’t care that it came at the expense of the universe.
It was what it was, then. His only hope was that he could stall the weapon long enough to make an escape.
The door to the lab swung open and the Doctor looked over as Anders entered, his hands clasped behind his back. The Doctor studied him silently, trying not to let his feelings of revulsion and disgust show on his face.
The Doctor spoke first. “Where’s Rose?”
“She’s being looked after,” said Anders. He wandered over to the table, picking up one of Inga’s test tubes before setting it back down on the table.
“I want to see her.”
“I’m sure you do,” said Anders, picking up one of the folders. He rifled through it. “Don’t you see what we’re trying to do here, Dr Smith?” He looked over at him from above the folder. “We’re trying to protect our planet, our way of life.” He paused. “Don’t you remember what it was like when the Cybermen took over, when the stars began going out? The sheer terror, the panic that followed? All we want is a way to protect ourselves. Never again will the human race be controlled by those from above.”
“This isn’t about protection, this is about killing,” spat the Doctor. “I can help you, Anders—I can build you a shield, I can work with you. But this isn’t the way. Not like this.”
“I’m sorry that you feel that way, Dr Smith.” Anders snapped the folder shut. “I know what you’re thinking—maybe you can stall, maybe you can find a way to trick us. Please don’t try. It will go badly for you. And your wife.”
The Doctor flinched. “Leave her out of it, she’s innocent in this—”
“Innocent?” said Anders. “She broke into our base. She married you.” The disdain was plain in his voice. He paused to collect himself and he continued in a mild tone, “You’ll want to make sure it works, Dr Smith. She’ll be our first test subject.”
The Doctor swallowed. “Weapon like this—based on DNA, it’s unstable, unpredictable, there’s no way to ensure that—”
“Well that’s your problem, isn’t it?” said Anders, voice cool. “If you want your wife to survive, you’ll do it correctly. It’s quite the incentive, no?”
The Doctor wasn’t particularly surprised by the veiled threat, but he still felt a cold chill. Anders was learning all the right buttons to push. They could threaten and torture him all they liked, but once Rose was in the picture....
He thought carefully over his next words. Anders was a man who liked to be in control—he was enjoying backing the Doctor into a corner. Demands wouldn’t work on him—he believed himself capable of mercy, but only if he was the one deciding to give it out.
“Can I....” he began, “will you let me see her?”
Anders smiled, looking pleased by the turn of events. “Of course I will, Dr Smith,” he said, almost kindly, “you help Inga finish her work and I will help you see your wife.”
The Doctor inclined his head. “I appreciate it.”
Anders tossed the folder back on the table. “I think we are finally understanding each other, Dr Smith.”
Rose Tyler had one arm in a sling and two fingers taped together and she wanted to scream.
She sat on with her feet up on her cot, her back against the wall, scowling as she clenched and unclenched her fist. She hated being so helpless. People rarely made daring escapes with their dominant arm in a cast.
She was furious at AIF for what they were doing and even more furious with herself for getting caught. She'd done worse than failed -- the Doctor was still trapped, and she'd given them another way to hurt him. Remembering the desperation on his face made her nauseous. The Doctor needed her and she’d failed him utterly.
Some knight in shining armour she was.
There was a click-clack of approaching heels, followed by the heavy groan of metal as her cell door slid open. The guard who’d broken her arm stood there, cradling his large gun, and beside him was the woman who’d reset her arm earlier, holding a tray of food.
“It’s fine,” the woman said to the guard, who stepped back and pulled the door almost closed. The woman stepped into the cell, silhouetted by the shaft of light, and lifted the tray. “Thought you might be hungry,” she said.
Rose’s stare was hard. She didn’t move. “Where’s the Doctor? I want to see him.”
The woman hesitated. “He’s… working,” she said eventually. She stepped closer to Rose, setting the tray down on the end of Rose's bed. “You’ll be able to see him when he’s finished.”
Rose’s stomach rumbled, but she ignored the food. “What have you been doing to him?” The woman looked uncomfortable but didn’t answer, and Rose pressed on, her anger rising. “He looked sick, when I saw him. Tell me what you did to him!”
“He’s fine,” the woman stammered, looking startled by the shouting. “He’ll be fine, I mean, we weren't... he’s… he’s very… hardy.”
Hardy, Rose thought. Yeah. The anger melted out of her at once, leaving only an empty feeling of resignation. She snorted and shook her head. “He’s still mortal,” she said quietly. Sometimes she felt like she was the only one who really understood that.
Rose sighed, lifting her eyes to stare at the woman in front of her. She looked like she was barely keeping herself composed -- not quite the evil genius Rose had been imagining. "What's your name?"
"Inga," was the answer.
Rose nodded. "Right. One last question, then, Inga." She swallowed, already certain she was going to hate the answer. "What are you making him do?"
Inga pressed her lips together, her gaze travelling towards the shaft of light coming from the open door. "It's just a defense mechanism," she said eventually.
"Can't be." Rose shook her head. "If that was all it really was you wouldn't have to break my arm to get him to do it."
Inga took another step backwards, folding her arms over her chest and shaking her head, looking at the floor. "That's it. I swear, that's all it's meant to be. It's protection, that's all, it's insurance, it's..." Inga broke off, taking a few shaky breaths and rubbing her hands over her face.
Finally she looked up, her eyes wide as she sought out Rose's. "You work for Torchwood. Surely you must understand. There are species out there with technology more advanced than the human race could hope to have in five hundred years. There are creatures like your husband who are more intelligent the day they're born than our cleverest scientists. Some species can teleport and we can't even get to Mars." She was breathing heavier, gesturing with her arms. "The human race is weak, and if it wasn't for AIF, we'd be sitting ducks. We can't afford to depend on the mercy of others. We have to be able to fight back. We're not looking to start wars, we're just trying to defend ourselves."
Rose let out a bitter laugh, shaking her head. "No, that's what we do. That's what Torchwood does. What you do is kidnap people and torture them when they don't want to cooperate with their captors." Rose set her jaw, feeling her anger flare up again. "But the Doctor's a good man. A forgiving man. If you were really only looking to defend the Earth he'd help you, even if you did drug him while he was buying cake. What you want must be something else. Tell me what it is. Tell me why you broke my arm. Tell me what you're making my husband do for you."
There was a beat of silence as Inga hesitated. When she finally spoke she couldn't meet Rose's eyes. "We're looking to design a virus which will target any creatures not born on Earth."
Again it was silent as Rose let the words sink in. Finally she said, "That's genocide."
"It's a defensive--"
"It's genocide," she snapped. Her voice shook with cold fury when she spoke. "You kidnapped the Doctor and you tortured him because you want him to help you commit genocide." Rose narrowed her eyes. "Get out."
Inga looked like she didn't know what to say. "I..."
"Get out!" Rose yelled, kicking the tray of food off the end of her bed. It clattered to the floor and Inga jumped backwards, watching Rose with wide eyes before she turned and hurried out of the cell. The door rumbled shut behind her and Rose glared at the spot where Inga had been. She couldn't remember the last time she'd been this angry.
It was bad enough that they wanted a quick and easy way to dispose of all alien life. But that they were forcing the Doctor to do it for them, leaving his over-taxed conscience to bear the brunt of the guilt... it was sick.
He'd do it, she knew he would. He'd do anything to keep her safe, even if she didn't want him to. He'd do it and he'd hate himself for it. He'd hate her, too, just a bit, for making him choose. And if, by some miracle, AIF let them leave alive, it would hang between them, a concrete example of just how far they'd go for each other.
Too far, maybe.
She pressed her hand to her mouth and squeezed her eyes shut, trying to stifle her sobs.
The Doctor worked methodically, losing himself in the mindless repetition of numbers and analysis, tests and results. He focused on taking the formula one step at a time rather than on its final result. Because every time he stopped, every time he paused to consider his next step, he remembered how it felt to single-handedly wipe out an entire species. He would think of the Time Lords and how he swore it would never happen again. Or he would think of Rose and the sound a human bone made when it snapped.
It was enough to drive anyone mad.
Except for the blinking of the camera tracking his every move, they more or less left him alone. After nearly six hours, Inga slipped silently into the lab, hanging back by the door and watching him work without speaking.
The Doctor tried to ignore her, but eventually he set down his work, saying, “Is there a problem?”
She looked startled. “Oh, it’s just... you haven’t used any of my research,” she said. “You’ve barely even looked at my folders—”
“You’ve been creating viruses that target a specific species rather than ones that exempt a species,” said the Doctor. “The only DNA code you needed was human. The rest are useless.” He picked up one of the folders—labelled “Weevil” across the front—and idly tossed it over his shoulder. It hit the opposite wall and spilled across the floor. Inga jumped. “Any idiot could figure that out.”
Inga didn’t seem to register the insult. In fact, she looked jumpy and on edge. Her hair was frizzy and out of place, her clothes wrinkled and her blouse inelegantly tucked into her skirt.
The Doctor kept his eyes on her as he spoke. “This is what you need—” he pushed a Petri dish at her—a dish where he was growing his version of the virus. “I haven’t quite cracked the code yet. Give me—oh, another week or so? And it will kill anything.”
Inga stared at the dish. “Anything?”
“Yup,” said the Doctor, “anything from anywhere else.”
“Right,” said Inga. She paused. “So the research I did—the experiments....”
“As I said, useless.” The Doctor paused. “Well, I say ‘useless’—it did give you quite a good look at the people you plan to kill in the future, didn’t it?”
“They’re not people.”
“Oh, right, that’s never been used as a justification for genocide before.” Instead of pressing his point, he asked, “How’s Rose?”
Inga looked thrown by the change of subject. “She’s... she’s fine. Recovering,” she added. “I thought... what Anders did to her—that was wrong. She’s a human being.”
“And what about what you did to me?” the Doctor asked quietly.
“That was different,” said Inga, matching his quiet tone. “We’re just trying to protect ourselves—why is that so hard to understand?”
“Why don’t you spend an hour strapped to that chair you’re so fond of putting other species in and then ask me why I don’t understand,” said the Doctor. Inga looked away, silent. The Doctor sighed. “Can I see Rose?”
“Anders said that if I thought... if I thought you were doing your job... then you could see her.”
“And?” the Doctor asked impatiently. There was no response and he rubbed at his forehead. “I’ve done what you’ve asked. Please, Inga. Let me see my wife.”
Inga nodded and then looked at him. “We tortured you for days. We almost killed you—and you refused to give in. But as soon as we had Rose...” she trailed off. “You love her.”
The Doctor held her gaze. “Yes.”
“I didn’t think...” she stammered, “I didn’t know you were capable of love.”
“Oh, I think you’ll find that most species in this universe are very capable of love, Inga.”
Inga looked troubled, but she only said, “Two hours. Then you’ll go back to work. Understand?”
“Yes,” said the Doctor, incapable of hiding his relief.
Finally he would get to see Rose.
Jackie Tyler was not like her daughter.
She certainly wasn’t like the Doctor. She wasn’t a hero by nature; she didn’t crave adrenaline and adventure the way Rose and the Doctor did. Most of the time she thought they were mental, the way they went chasing after aliens like it was fun hobby. She wasn’t even like Pete, who seemed to do these things because he felt he had to, like he owed the world something. No, Jackie Tyler would much rather sit at home with a nice cuppa than battle slime monsters from planet Zorg.
Still – sometimes, with a daughter like Rose, a husband like Pete and a mad alien son-in-law, there wasn’t much of a choice.
“Jacks, I’m telling you, you don’t have to come. We’ve got plenty of operatives—“
“Well, tough!” She folded her arms across her chest, giving her husband a very pointed Tyler stare. “I’m coming.”
Pete gave a harried sigh. “Jacks—“
“Don’t you ‘Jacks’ me,” said Jackie, poking him in the chest with one finger. “I’m not sitting at home pulling my hair out while you gallivant off to Sweden. I’m coming with you.”
He scrubbed his face with his hands. “It’s dangerous, Jackie. You could get hurt.”
“So could you! I went when the stars were going out, didn’t I? Did fine, didn’t I? Just gimme another one of those big guns, I’d like to see them try and stand up to that—“
Pete dropped his hands and took her by the shoulders. “Jackie, listen to me. It’s dangerous. AIF is good. Very good. And they’re cruel.” Pete paused, squeezing her shoulders. “They could kill you, Jackie.” Underneath his exasperation, she could tell that he was terrified. “Tony needs you.”
Jackie’s glare softened, the corner of her mouth turning down in an understanding frown. She knew perfectly well how it felt, trying desperately to convince someone you love not to do something fantastically stupid. It was a fear she imagined most mothers knew well—even the ones whose daughters didn’t travel space and time.
“I know,” she said quietly. “But right now Rose needs me more, and I am not gonna let her down, not even for you.”
Pete was silent for a moment, studying her face, but then his hands fell away from her shoulders and he nodded, resigned. “Yeah.” With just a hint of a grin, he shook his head. “I see where she gets it from,” he said. Stepping back, he sighed and turned around, calling to one of his men. “Francis, make sure we’ve got room for Jackie.”
Francis sent Jackie a skeptical glance, but nodded anyway. “Yes, sir.”
Keeping her arms folded across her chest, Jackie stood and watched as Torchwood scrambled to get together a rescue plan. It was chaos, but it was progress, and it meant things were happening, rather than slowly trickling through government channels. Diplomacy be damned, Jackie thought. Her family needed her.
Jackie Tyler was not like her daughter in a lot of ways, but in one respect they were identical: absolutely no one hurt the people they loved and got away with it.
Rose Tyler had never felt so frustrated.
She had, of course, been held captive before—but usually with the Doctor next to her, and never for long. At first she had spent the time combing the cell, looking carefully for any weaknesses she could exploit. She hadn't come up with anything - but then, she hadn't had high hopes if the Doctor hadn't either. Then she had mashed her face up against the door, trying to get a good look at what was happening outside her cell. She saw enough to gather that the Doctor was far from their only alien prisoner. Periodically, AIF personnel—dressed formally in a white lab coat and accompanied by an armed guard—came to collect an alien prisoner, taking it god knows where before returning the prisoner to its cell a short while later, the alien usually much worse for the wear.
It didn't take a genius to figure out what was happening in this place.
Eventually, the pain in Rose's arm became too much to bear and she went back to the cot, sitting with her back propped up against the wall and staring blankly ahead. She thought about the people AIF was torturing and how any government could stoop that low, but mostly she thought about the Doctor, where he was, and how much building this thing—this weapon—would cost him.
When the lock to the cell flicked, she came to life immediately. Inga walked in first—and behind her was one of AIF's typical goons with a gun, escorting in the Doctor.
Rose let out a muffled gasp and struggled to her feet, running past Inga and straight into the Doctor's arms. He emitted a soft "oomf" when she barrelled into him, but he cradled her to him, one hand stroking down her hair and the other rubbing her back.
"Let's go," Inga said softly and Rose barely registered the swishing of the shutting door behind her.
Rose felt tears pressing against her eyes - after days of being separated, after spending the last few hours worried sick about where he was and what AIF was doing to him - her relief at being able to hold him again was overwhelming. For a few moments, she only clung to him, unable to speak in case she broke down in sobs.
It was the Doctor who spoke first. He pulled away and then cradled her face between his hands, inspecting her closely. "You alright?" he said softly.
Rose almost didn't answer - underneath his concern, she could see a spark of something else. Having a sense of what would happen next, she found her voice and said, "Yeah. You?"
He released her and then took a step back, staring at a point somewhere over her shoulder. “Oh, I’ve been better.”
His voice was quiet and low, a sure sign that he was very, very upset.
“I’m sorry, I...”
“What were you thinking?” he suddenly exploded. “This is a highly guarded secret government facility. You can’t just... just walk in on your own!”
"I wanted to rescue you."
"Oh, yeah, that went brilliantly," he said bitterly.
"I know, but I thought I could...." she trailed off, "I wasn't thinking. I was reacting." She paused, voice getting more strained. "I wanted you back."
He raked a hand through his hair, looking more and more on edge. "Do you have any idea what they're making me do?"
Rose hesitated before answering. "Inga said that you... that you were building a virus."
"A virus that will wipe out everything!" he snapped, voice echoing through the cell.
Rose took a startled step back and the back of her knees hit the edge of the cot. "I'm sorry."
"It's not just a virus, it's me," he said. "I'm making it happen. I'm committing genocide. Again." He chanced a look at her. "You shouldn't have come," he said. "Do you have any idea how much power you've handed them?"
She sank down on the cot, legs pressing together. "Doctor, I'm so sorry," she whispered, tears now beginning to flow. "I didn't know what would happen. I thought that... I was trying to help you.”
He stared at her and then rubbed the bridge of his nose, "I know," he said after a moment.
Rose wiped her eyes with her good hand, muffling a hiccup. “You would have done the same. How many times have you tried to take down an entire military base on your own?”
“That’s different. I know what I’m doing.”
“So do I!”
The Doctor opened his mouth, looking like he wanted to continue arguing, before he slumped his shoulders. In a defeated voice, he said, “I know you do. It’s not your fault.”
Somehow, his defeat was even more unnerving than his anger with her. "Can't you just tell them 'no'?" she whispered. "Am I really worth all that?"
His response was a long stare.
Rose stared down at her knees. "I wish you didn't think so."
The Doctor heaved a sigh and then the cot dipped as he sat down next to her. He turned to look at her, one hand coming up to touch her sling. "How's the arm?"
She shrugged. "I'll live."
He dropped his arm back down to his lap. "If I had the TARDIS...."
"I'll be okay." She bumped him in the shoulder. "We'll be okay, Doctor. We'll get out of here."
"We always do," she said firmly. She turned and studied him, eyebrows furrowing. “You look terrible.”
His lips twitched. “Oh, thank you.”
Rose felt like crying again. “What did they do to you?”
The Doctor hesitated. “Rose—”
“Tell me—please tell me.”
“It’s nothing I haven’t experienced before,” he said firmly, in that tone of voice that indicated he wanted to change the subject.
Rose shifted, reaching out to touch his chest—and he hissed and recoiled slightly. “They tortured you,” she said, voice beginning to shake. “And you think... if you don’t do what they want, they’ll do the same to me.”
The Doctor clenched his jaw. “They keep a running catalogue of alien species—oh, they keep records of the usual biological stuff, hearts, body temperatures, blood types, all that—but they also like running tests. Torture and recovery, hot and cold, tolerance to pain and medication—frankly I’m surprised they didn’t cut off a limb.”
“And that’s what they did to you.”
He nodded, and for the first time, Rose detected cracks in his usual stoic exterior. Whatever they had done had put the Doctor through more than he was expecting—both physically and emotionally.
She shifted backwards on the cot so that her broken arm was up against the wall and then patted the space next to her. “Come on,” she said, “lie down. You need rest.”
He hesitated. “Rose, we need to—“ he looked around suspiciously, as though he suspected that AIF was watching their conversation carefully (which, Rose reckoned, they probably were), “—we have to find a way out of here.”
“We will,” she said, “but you need to rest, yeah? We can’t do anything if you’re falling apart on your feet. Come on, Doctor—please.”
Her words seemed to get through to him. He stretched out next to her, head resting next to hers. His eyelids fell shut like he was only just realizing how very tired he was.
Rose wrapped her good arm around him, shifting closer so that she could cuddle into his side. He breathed out against her neck, a shaky and unsettling sound, but then his hand brushed her back before stilling. Slowly he began to relax.
“How long have we got?” Rose whispered.
“Oh... about two hours?” said the Doctor. He paused and then said, “Rose, I’ll find a way to get you out of this, I promise. I won’t let them hurt you.”
I wish you would, she thought about saying, but didn’t. Right now, the idea that he still had some measure of control over her safety seemed to be giving the Doctor some comfort and she didn’t want to ruin it.