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: After the intensity of what they just shared—after coming face-to-face with everything they would be willing to sacrifice for each other—Rose felt like she needed some time away from him to regroup and think.
Previous parts: Part One, Part Two, Part Three, Part Four, Part Five
Outside the compound, Torchwood had set up what looked like its own military base. More helicopters buzzed overhead while Torchwood agents stood guard near the exits, each of them armed to the nines but looking uncertain as to how to continue. The captured AIF personnel were sitting on a grassy area outside of the base with one lone Torchwood operative to keep an eye on them. Anders was the only one in handcuffs.
Rose stood in the overhang of a military helicopter. Behind her a Torchwood medic was fussing over the Doctor who was complaining loudly about “dark age medicine” and how he would not, under any circumstances, allow himself to be drugged with morphine. “It makes me loopy,” he said, nearly falling off the stretcher in an attempt to dodge an IV needle.
Rose smiled faintly—the annoyed edge in his voice was reassuring after the way he’d collapsed inside the base. A part of her felt like she should be back there holding his hand, but a larger part of her was relieved to put some distance between them. After the intensity of what they just shared—after coming face-to-face with everything they would be willing to sacrifice for each other—Rose felt like she needed some time away from him to regroup and think.
She stood up straighter as Pete strode across the compound towards her, his face shining with sweat. “We have to pull out,” he said, “the Swedish army got wind of our attack and is on their way over.”
“What?” said Rose. “We can’t just leave.”
“I’m sorry, but that’s exactly what we have to do,” said Pete, stopping in front of her. He tugged a tissue out of his pocket and wiped his forehead. “Rose, I tried to tell you, you can’t just... just... walk into another country and attack them. It’s an act of war—of course the Swedish army is on the way. We violated their territorial integrity.”
“They kidnapped us,” Rose hissed.
“They kidnapped the Doctor,” said Pete, his voice rising slightly, “they, in fact, wanted nothing to do with you until you attacked them.”
“Pete!” said Jackie, appearing out of nowhere to glare at her husband. “You’re not suggesting that we shouldn’t have come after them—our own daughter?”
Pete pinched the bridge of his nose. “No, of course not, Jackie, but that doesn’t change the main point—we cannot stay here.”
“But we can’t just leave—” Rose pressed, “they’ve been capturing and experimenting on aliens for ages now, Dad. Not just the Doctor. It’s just... it’s sick. We’ve got to stop it.”
Pete shook his head. “Not our business.”
“How can you say that?”
“I’m sorry, Rose, I’m as sympathetic to their situation as the next person, but I am not risking a war over it.”
Rose glared at him.
Jackie shifted, looking at Rose pleadingly. “Maybe he’s got a point, sweetheart. We’ve got you and the Doctor now—you’re both safe. There’s no reason to stay.”
Rose hesitated. “Yeah there is,” she said. “There's something else. They got the Doctor to build this thing for them—this weapon.”
Pete’s expression was immediately suspicious. “What sort of weapon?”
“It’s a virus.” Rose took a breath. “One that’s genetically modified to wipe out everything--everything not from Earth.”
Jackie and Pete glanced at each other. “But the Doctor would never do that,” began Jackie slowly.
Rose shook her head and looked at the ground, fighting back tears. “That’s why,” she whispered. “That’s why we can’t just leave.”
“Yes, we can,” said a voice behind them.
The three of them turned to find the Doctor standing on his feet with an IV drip hanging out of his arm. He looked at the morphine bag like it was an affront to his dignity, but he shuffled forward, managing to more or less stay upright.
“What are you doing?” said Jackie. “The medic’s not finished with you yet, you can’t just—”
The Doctor ignored her and strode out of the helicopter, morphine bag tucked under his arm. After a stunned moment, Rose, Jackie, and Pete went after him. They followed him all the way to the group of AIF personnel where Anders looked up, balefully glaring at the Doctor from his spot on the ground.
“Well,” said the Doctor, “it seems we have a major international incident to avoid, so we’ll just be off now.” He gave them a little wave and then turned to Inga, suddenly serious. “But first, we have some business to settle, don’t we?”
Inga pushed herself to her feet, brushing her palms off on her lab coat. “We’ve talked it over and... we’ve agreed that I’ll be taking over as head of AIF.”
The Doctor nodded. “Good.”
“GOOD?!” Rose exploded. “She tortured you for days! She made you build that thing! How can you leave her in charge?!”
“Rose—” said the Doctor, shooting her his best can-we-talk-about-this-later look.
“Ms Tyler, I assure you that the virus will be destroyed and its records wiped from our system,” began Inga. “As for the aliens—”
“I don’t believe you,” said Rose flatly. “Leave behind the power of a weapon like that? Not you.”
Inga continued like she hadn’t been interrupted, “We’ll catalogue them and decide which ones can safely be released. We’ll even help them get home if it comes to that.”
“And the experiments?” Rose pressed. “The dissections and the torture? Is that going to continue?”
“No,” said Inga firmly. “We will continue our mission of protecting Earth from alien threats, but I promise that I’ll change things. We'll go about it a different way.”
Rose looked away, hating the idea of leaving the woman who had tortured her husband in charge of AIF. But she also knew that Pete was right—they couldn’t cause a war over this. Inga was giving them a way out—if she followed through on her promise, they could leave without guilt.
“Rose,” said the Doctor softly, pleadingly.
“And Anders?” she finally said. “What will you do with him?”
Inga seemed to take this as token acceptance and her lips curved up into a small smile. “We’ll report his actions to the local authorities and let him stand trial for what he’s done. We won't kill him, if that's what you're asking."
The Doctor nodded approvingly at Inga and Pete looked intensely relieved.
“Great,” he said. He pulled up a communicator device. “Time to clear out—our work here is done. I repeat, time to leave. I’ll see you lot back in London.”
The airplane hummed under her feet as Rose stood up, carefully tucking a blanket up to the Doctor’s shoulders. He didn’t stir and she pressed a kiss to the top of his head before turning to rejoin her mother in the lounge.
Dad had insisted that they take one of Vitex’s company jets back to London, claiming that he would ride with the rest of Torchwood in the military helicopters. Rose hadn’t put up much fight; the promise of a comfortable flight after so many days of captivity was undeniably appealing. The Doctor hadn’t argued at all—a clear sign that he was fading. Sure enough, they had barely been in the air five minutes before he’d been sound asleep, curled up on one side with the IV drip still sticking out of his arm. The medic had assured her that he would likely recover fine with some sleep and rest, but Rose suspected she still had yet to see the full extent of the damage AIF had done to him. A long talk was due in their future and Rose reckoned it was fortunate for Inga that she and AIF would be a long way away when it happened.
She found Jackie in the lounge area, her feet propped up on the seat in front of her. She was talking to someone into a computer screen, “Rose has just been in an accident, sweetheart, but it’s fine now—you’ll see her again soon. No, you can’t stay up past your bedtime, you can see her in the morning. Tell Nessie that you need your bath first—yes, you have to have it, you want to look nice for your sister, don’t you? Oh, Tony Tyler, don’t you dare run off on that poor woman, your father will hear about this one—”
Rose sat down across from her, idly tapping her foot while she waited for her mother to finish. Finally, signing off with a loud kiss and an “I love you” Jackie shut the computer screen, looking up to face Rose with a smile.
“How is he?” she jerked her head backwards, towards the Doctor.
“Sleeping,” said Rose. Her fingers drummed restlessly on the arm rest. “I’ve never seen him sleep like that—he didn’t even know I was there.”
Jackie frowned in sympathy. “Rose...” she began, “what did they do to him?”
She shook her head and looked away. “I dunno... not all of it,” she began haltingly. “I know they tortured him. For days. I don’t know how he stood it.”
“Oh, Rose,” said Jackie softly. She leaned across the aisle and stroked Rose’s good arm. “You heard what the medic said—he’s going to be just fine.”
Rose sniffed and then wiped her nose, angrily trying to keep her tears back. “I know. I just.... I wish I could have helped him. I felt so useless.” Jackie watched her worriedly, uncharacteristically silent. After a pause, Rose whispered, “They used me against him, Mum.”
Jackie removed her hand from Rose’s arm and it was a moment before she answered. “That virus.”
“Yeah,” she said brokenly. “You were right, Mum, he would never build something like that—never. He would have died first.”
“But they had you,” Jackie said in a hushed voice, face filling with understanding.
Rose nodded miserably.
“Oh, sweetheart,” Jackie said.
“A part of me keeps thinking that maybe some part of him hates me for it—or worse, that he’s blaming me for it.”
“Rose, you know that’s not true,” she said. “If anything, that man’s blaming himself—he always has.”
Rose tried to muster up a smile. “Yeah.” She paused. “That doesn’t exactly make it any better.”
“No,” said Jackie softly, “I suppose it doesn’t.”
The two women lapsed into silence and Rose turned to look out the window, idly staring at the expansive blue of the ocean below.
“Mum,” she said suddenly, “if it had been Dad—what would you have done? If you knew he was in danger, would you do everything you could to help him? Even if it meant you had to sacrifice other people?”
She turned to her mother, searching her face desperately for an answer.
Jackie thought for a moment before answering. “I’ll tell you what, Rose, I’d give up an awful lot for your father—but not that, not another living person. Not that far.”
Something in Rose’s stomach clenched painfully. “Oh.”
“Rose, I didn’t mean....” Jackie said, “I’m grateful that the Doctor made the choice he did, you hear me? It all turned out for the best in the end—both of you alive and the world safe. You two, you sometimes go off like you’re invincible, thinking that you’re the only two people in the world who can protect each other. But you listen to me, Rose, you should never have gone after the Doctor alone like you did. You should have told me or your father or someone. We would have helped you.”
Rose shook her head. “I wasn’t thinking. I was just so worried...”
Jackie heaved a sigh. “Rose, I know. I don’t blame you, sweetheart, I know what you two are like.”
But she sounded so sad that Rose could barely look at her.
“I’m sorry,” Rose whispered, “I didn’t mean to worry you, I....”
“I know that,” Jackie said gently. “Listen, it’s like I said. It all turned out for the best, yeah? You’re here now. Both of you.”
Rose tried to nod but then she pressed her hand to a mouth, choking down a sob. Jackie’s features softened and she pushed the computer away.
“Come here, then,” she said.
Without another word, Rose moved to the other seat, lying her head down in her mother’s lap. Jackie stroked her hair and Rose bit down on her bottom lip as a tear leaked down her cheek.
“It’s alright, sweetheart, I’ve got you.”
Rose tried to say “thanks” but all that came out was a sob. She squeezed her eyes shut and let the tears come. Jackie stroked her hair while she cried.
Most of the taxi ride home from the airport was spent in awkward silence, something that only got worse after they dropped Jackie off at the mansion. Normally it was the Doctor who was good in these sorts of situations. A downright expert at avoiding any emotional discussion, he was usually the first to strike up a conversation with the taxi driver over the make and model of his car or how precisely the taxi business first got started. But most of this ride he spent in silence, staring out the window with his head against the glass, one hand clasped over Rose's. She wasn't sure whether it was exhaustion or something worse, and it worried her.
It was the early hours of the morning when they pulled in the drive and got out of the cab. Rose instinctively shivered in the cool evening air and the Doctor glanced sideways at her.
He placed a hand on her back. “Come on,” he said quietly.
She leaned into him as they climbed the steps to their flat. He didn’t speak again—and Rose was relieved to have the momentary distraction of fishing out her keys and opening the door. Inside, the flat was warm and stuffy and had that musty smell of a place that had been shut up for too long.
She dropped her keys on the nearby side table and then turned to the Doctor. “Well....” she began, trying to force a reassuring smile. But he only stared back at her, tired and grim. Feeling self-conscious, Rose searched around for something to say. “Windows—“ she muttered, “I better open them.”
She moved through the living room, opening the windows along the back wall and trying to ignore the feeling of his eyes boring into her back. Finally, the last window was open and she had no choice but to turn around.
She met the Doctor’s eyes and felt her chest constrict. They hadn’t been this awkward around each other since Bad Wolf Bay.
“I...” she began, but he cut her off abruptly.
“Your cast,” he said. He stepped over to her, staring at her broken arm. He reached out and then traced the edge of her cast with his fingertips. Rose tensed, but then relaxed when she saw the concern in his eyes. "Twenty-first century medicine is rubbish," he said after a moment. "Come on, I'll fix it."
“Remember the Bubble Ships that fell to Earth, oh, a couple months back?” Rose nodded. “I might have nicked a few things from their infirmary.”
Rose couldn’t stop her smile, and for one second, the Doctor returned it. But she still hesitated. It was true that the cast was uncomfortable, and she trusted the Doctor’s abilities to heal it. But she was tired and hungry and they'd both been wearing the same clothes for days--the Doctor's suit was in even worse condition than he was. They needed rest and a hot meal and a hot shower more than anything else.
"It can wait,” she finally said, “you need food and rest and, quite honestly, a shower, and--"
"It won't take long." He looked away from her cast and dropped his hand down to take hers. "Come on."
With a quiet sigh, Rose let him lead her down the hallway towards the bathroom. She knew what this was. It was penance, a desperate attempt to fix something in order to counteract what he'd spent the last few days doing for AIF. She supposed it wasn't her place to stop him. She knew that there were times in his life where all that kept him going was that driving need to pay off his perceived debt to the universe.
The Doctor’s fingers traced lightly over the cast on her arm and Rose shifted, tilting her head to smile hopefully up at him. He didn’t smile back.
His fingers brushed her skin just above the cast, his eyes regretful. “I’m sorry,” he whispered.
With a pang, Rose remembered what her mum had said in the airplane about the Doctor blaming himself. She reached out with her good hand, grasping his fingers between hers. She squeezed his hand. “It’s not your fault,” she said. “I was the one who came after you, yeah?”
The Doctor nodded mutely. He dropped her hand and pulled out the sonic screwdriver, pushing his specs up his nose. He cut the cast methodically and carefully, tongue poking out of the corner of his mouth.
He didn’t say anything while he worked and Rose felt increasingly nervous. The Doctor being this silent felt wrong—like the world was coming to an end or she had used up the last of the jam.
She hissed softly when the Doctor's fingers brushed her arm and she looked away, focusing on a spot over his shoulder as he rubbed foul-smelling alien goo against her skin, all the way down to her broken finger. She could tell he was trying to be as gentle as possible so she did her best to hide her discomfort.
A moment later he pulled his hand back. "This is going to sting a bit," he said softly. He held out the sonic screwdriver and Rose sucked in a breath as he pointed it at her arm.
She grabbed his shoulder with her other hand, squeezing tightly as pain reverberated up and down her arm. She gritted her teeth and then released a long breath as the pain dulled and then faded.
The Doctor switched off the sonic screwdriver. He twirled it once in his hand and then deposited it back in his pocket. "There, you see? Good as new."
The familiar cheer in his tone lifted her spirits and she experimentally lifted her arm up and down. The Doctor watched her movements carefully, smile tugging at his mouth. But there was something sad and heavy in his eyes and it brought a lump to her throat.
She stepped in closer to him, leaning in for a hug. His arms wrapped around her and she nuzzled into his shoulder, closing her eyes. A moment later the Doctor flinched and then loosened his hold, backing up to hold her at arm's length.
His eyes were apologetic as they swept over her face. "Sorry, it's just--"
"You're still injured," Rose said. "Can I..." she swallowed, "that stuff - that alien goo - I could use it to help you, yeah?"
He let go of her, hands dropping back down to his sides. "I'm all right."
His words were heavy and weighted and not at all reassuring. Rose bit her lip, unsure whether he was trying to punish himself for building that virus for AIF or if was some Time Lord pride thing.
"Don't be stupid," she said, voice shaky. She reached for the jar of alien goo. "Take off your shirt," she said as the Doctor hesitated. She fixed him with her best Jackie Tyler stare. "Do it."
He looked like he might argue but then he sighed and complied. He unbuttoned his suit jacket, throwing it on the counter top behind him. Then he pulled off his undershirt, tossing it on top of the jacket.
Rose gasped and then stared. Her earlier anger with AIF and Dr Inga came flooding back - his chest was a patchwork of cuts and burns, the skin tinged purple and blue. He'd told her about AIF's experiments, but he hadn't ever really let on to how much pain he had to be in. Tears stung her eyes. No wonder he hadn't been able to keep up with her back at AIF - it was a wonder he was still standing at all.
The Doctor caught her eyes, looking regretful. "It's okay--" he began.
But she cut him off with a hiss. "It's not okay, not even a bit." She dipped her fingers into the alien goo and then smoothed her fingers over his chest. He clenched his jaw, but otherwise had no reaction. "I can't believe we just.... just.... left them there."
"What sort of place does this to people?" she said, dipping her hand back in the alien goo. It was getting harder to see behind her tears, but she kept her touch gentle when she returned to smoothing it over his chest.
"Rose, I've had worse." He touched her chin and she looked up at him. "Honestly, I have."
Rose twisted the cap back onto the jar of alien goo and returned it to the counter. Then she picked up his discarded jacket, searching through the pockets until she found the sonic screwdriver. She went back over to him.
"I'm never going to let anything hurt you again," she said. "What setting is it?"
He looked like he didn't quite know how to reply. "35D," he finally settled on.
Rose nodded and turned on the sonic screwdriver. Neither of them said anything as she held it over his injuries, standing in silence as the cuts and bruises marring his skin slowly healed. Finally she shut off the sonic screwdriver and took a step back. His skin was healed, but as she looked him over, she got the sinking feeling that the worst of AIF's damage ran a lot deeper than his injuries.
The Doctor grabbed his shirt and jacket off the counter, beginning to get dressed. "You should get some rest. You still need to be careful with that arm. Give it a few hours."
His voice was full of concern, but his eyes were distant and Rose suspected that he was planning to spend the next few hours sitting in the living room, lost to his own thoughts.
"Come with me?" she said.
He didn't answer right away. "I slept on the plane."
"I know, but I..." she rubbed her arms, swallowing past the lump in her throat. "I don't want to be alone right now."
He finished buttoning up his suit jacket and then held out his hand, eyes softening. "Right. Of course not. Come on."
She mustered up a smile for him and he returned it, fingers waggling at her. She slipped her hand into his and let him lead her away.