Authors: goldy_dollar & _thirty2flavors
Rating: PG-13 for angst and (eventual, off-screen) violence
Genre: Drama, angst. No seriously, angst.
Characters/Pairings: Ten2/Rose, Jackie, Pete, an assortment of others
Warnings: Character death
Summary: Years after settling in on Pete's World, the Doctor must face something he thought he could escape.
Excerpt: What had his other self said? Born in battle, filled with blood and anger and revenge. Well, he’d got one thing right.
Previously: Part One, Part Two, Part Three
Eight hours after learning he’d killed a spaceship of tourists and been sacked, the Doctor stormed back into Torchwood. Only a skeleton crew worked the nightshift, and Jean-Janice-Janet was the first to notice him.
“Sir!” she said as he made his way through the Hub, heading towards Pete’s office. “Sir!”
He ignored her and she jumped up, jogging to keep up with his long strides. He noticed that she made an effort to stay a good foot away from him. Good, he decided. He’d proved just how dangerous he was when he shot down innocent people.
What had his other self said? Born in battle, filled with blood and anger and revenge. Well, he’d got one thing right.
Jean-Janice-Janet almost looked apologetic. “Sir, you can’t be here. I’ll have to call security.”
“I just want to speak with Pete.”
“You’re no longer authorized to be on the premises.”
The Doctor spun around, moving into her space. “I am going to talk to Pete.”
Jean-Janice-Janet’s mouth fell open like she wasn’t sure whether she was frightened or flattered by how close he was. Without another word, the Doctor dodged around her and barged into Pete’s office.
Pete was on the phone and the Doctor took a seat. “Good,” he said as Pete jumped. “You’re still working.”
“Sorry Jenson, something urgent has come up. I’ll have to call you back.” Pete hung up, eyes sweeping over the Doctor. “My god,” he said slowly, “you look terrible.”
“I killed eighty innocent people and destroyed the lives of countless others. And I got sacked,” said the Doctor. “I’ve had better days.”
“Fair enough,” said Pete, rocking back slightly in his chair. “I’m still trying to clean up your mess, by the way. Any chance you might be willing to leave on your own or do I have to call security?”
The Doctor decided to cut right to the point. “Rose is alive.”
Pete’s reaction wasn’t entirely unexpected. He heaved a great sigh and with the air of someone who was rapidly running out of patience said, “Doctor, you’re an intelligent man. You can’t honestly believe that.”
“She contacted me,” said the Doctor. “She’s out there right now—she’s alone and she’s lost and I will get her back, with or without your help.”
“Oh my god, you’ve gone completely mad,” said Pete, scrubbing a hand over his face.
“I know what I saw.”
Pete pulled his hand away and really looked at him. His expression turned to one of vague disgust. “Are you drunk?”
The Doctor shifted uncomfortably. “That’s... hardly the point.”
Pete pressed a button on his phone. “I’d like a man removed from my office. Now.”
“She’s alive and I can prove it,” the Doctor pressed. “I’m not expecting you to believe me, but I can prove it. I swear I can.”
Pete looked up from the phone. “Doctor, do us a favour? Get some help. Talk to someone. If you won’t do it for me, do it for Jackie. Losing Rose has been hard enough. I can’t watch her lose you as well.”
“I know what I saw,” the Doctor repeated. “You can have me thrown out if you want. But you can’t stop me.”
Pete shook his head. “And I can’t keep protecting you.”
The door to Pete’s office burst open and four security personnel piled inside.
The Doctor surveyed them quickly. “Ah, Charles! Pete’s head of security!” said the Doctor, giving a little wave. “Hello, again! Nice to see you.”
The guards glanced at each other and then at Pete. “Just... get him out of here,” said Pete, sounding exhausted. Then, after a pause, added, “And make sure he gets home safely.”
Without a word, two of the guards grabbed the Doctor under the arms and hauled him to his feet. Charles darted behind him, pulling his hands into a pair of cuffs.
The Doctor sought out Pete’s gaze. “I imagine Jackie will be interested to know her daughter could still be alive,” he said mildly. “And that her husband couldn’t be arsed to do anything about it.”
Pete hesitated. "She won't believe you."
"Are you sure?" said the Doctor. "Are you absolutely sure that Jackie Tyler would do nothing if she had even a shred of hope that Rose might be alive?"
Pete’s eyes closed briefly and the Doctor grinned, tilting heavily to one side before leaning against one of the guards. Despite the adrenaline pumping through him, he was still light-headed from the whiskey. But for the first time in weeks, he felt oddly in control.
Finally, Pete said, “You said you have proof?”
“Oh, yes,” said the Doctor. “All we have to do is dig up her body.”
The Doctor took enough time to go home, shower, and change. A dull headache pounded in his temples by the time he arrived back at Torchwood, but he ignored it. Finding Rose was the only thing that mattered.
He insisted on performing the autopsy. “Clearly you lot weren’t competent enough to detect a fake body the first time around,” he’d told Pete. “I’ll handle this one, thanks very much.”
A crowd of people gathered outside the laboratory. Pete was there, along with an unnecessarily large contingent of security and military personnel. The Doctor imagined the extra security was in case in turned out he really was mad and made the whole thing up. The crowd also included several of Rose’s co-workers, along with freshly scrubbed Torchwood interns, and Jean-Janice-Janet (whom the Doctor was beginning to suspect might have something of a crush on him). Jackie was waiting down in the hall in a small observatory room—she couldn’t bear to see the body again, she’d said.
The Doctor wasn’t fazed by The Body, as he’d taken to calling it. Now that he knew it wasn’t Rose, he could look past her mangled limbs and shattered bones and focus on the task at hand.
He worked quickly, taking hair and tissue samples and running a few x-rays. Then he turned and gave Pete a thumbs up and a smile.
Pete didn’t smile back. Nor did he think it was excessive to invite the military and security officers into the briefing room.
“The body is basically one big embryo,” he explained as Pete, the security and military personnel, the Torchwood interns, and Jean-Janice-Janet scrambled for seats. “Almost like... like a baby that was never born.” He held up the x-rays. “It’s got all the right organs—heart, lungs, kidneys, all that, but they’re essentially the organs of a one-year-old. The human body experiences wear and tear as it grows older—Rose’s heart should be showing us twenty-nine years of strain.”
Jean-Janice-Janet’s hand shot up in the hair. “So... it’s... what, exactly? A clone?”
“Close,” said the Doctor. Jean-Janice-Janet beamed proudly. “But the technology isn’t quite that advanced. The body could be made from anything—anyone. That’s just the tissue. They grew it and then shaped the outside to make it look like Rose. But they got it all a bit wrong.” He held up the hair samples. “See this? Natural blonde hair. Rose used dye. And this?” He held up a package of fingernails. “They’re perfectly shaped—but they’ve never been painted, never been cut, never been chewed during a long night spent at work. Everything is just... a little too perfect to be real.” He dropped both packages on the table and then shoved his hands in his pockets, adding, “I should have known. I should have realized right away.”
“You couldn’t have known,” said Jean-Janice-Janet fervently.
Much to the Doctor’s surprise, Pete added, “She’s right. You had no reason to think otherwise.” He paused, looking deep in thought. “The question is... who—or what—would go to so much trouble to make us think she was dead?”
“They needed her,” said the Doctor, musing aloud. “Needed her alive, in fact. They reckoned that if we thought she was dead, we would never come looking.” He dropped his voice, tone hardening. “But they forgot one thing.”
“What?” said Pete, looking at him wearily.
“Rose would never go down quietly,” said the Doctor. He drew himself up to his full height. “Whatever they want her for, I can guarantee you it’s not good.”
“Agreed,” said Pete. He jumped to his feet. “Doctor—start working on a way to get her back. The rest of you do as he says. I’m going to talk to my wife.” Pete started off and then suddenly jerked back, as if something had just occurred to him. “Doctor, don’t take this the wrong way, but this is a consult only. You’re not being reinstated in your former position.”
The Doctor nodded. “Fine.”
He didn’t add that he couldn’t blame Pete. Besides, he only had one goal now--getting Rose back. After that, Pete could hire him to scrub the latrines for all he cared.
Rose Tyler was humming to herself.
What had started out as a pop song she remembered from her childhood – one that had never existed in this universe, much to her distress – had morphed somewhere along the line into a ballad she remembered from her parents’ “vow renewal” and later transmuted into a lyric-less, improvised hum. It was a quiet hum, and she could barely hear herself over the constant drone of the engines down here in the bowels of the ship, but it was a hum, and it was helping to keep the pace as she fused bits of wire together. Whistle while you work, like Mary Poppins said.
She frowned, biting her bottom lip as she soldered a wire. Hadn’t it been Snow White, once upon a time? Bloody parallel universes. Nine years and it was still threatening to do her head in.
“That looks good,” said a voice, so suddenly that Rose, caught up in her humming, jumped and nearly burned herself. “You’re really getting the hang of it.”
Chastising herself for her paranoia, Rose grinned. “Quick learner.” She held up the tiny soldering gun. “Besides, this is sort of like this… thing my husband has that he’s always playing with, this tool…” She trailed off, noticing the tilt of her friend’s head and narrowing her eyes. “Oi! Screwdriver! It’s a screwdriver.”
Her friend laughed – or, to be more specific, her two long, furry ears twitched, something Rose had come to know was the Trixan version of laughter. Rose thought sometimes that they looked a bit like bipedal bunny rabbits, and she’d decided the comparison, although perhaps not scientifically sophisticated, was reasonably sound. The Trixans were friendly to her, had large families, seemed to have way more energy than humans did, and sometimes Rose had to use every ounce of her maturity and worldliness and consideration not to reach over and scratch their fuzzy heads. Some part of her suspected that if the Doctor were here, he wouldn’t be able to resist at all.
This particular Trixan – Celly, as Rose called her, though her real name was something far too complicated for a human tongue – also happened to be turquoise.
The universe, Rose Tyler learned again and again, was a strange place.
“You may as well put that down,” Celly said, gesturing with one hand towards the tangle of wires Rose was working on and holding up a large canvas bag with the other. “I brought food.”
Rose’s stomach gave an eager growl, and she carefully set down the contraption she’d been working on. It was strange work, what she was doing, and much of it she didn’t understand, but she’d been on the ship for days now and she figured she ought to earn her keep, especially with all the trouble she’d caused. She brushed her hair back behind her ears, careful not to knock her translation earpiece.
It was pure dumb luck that the ship she’d taken refuge on just happened to be inhabited by a species with a specialty in communications technology. Traveling salesmen, Rose had called them, and Celly had assured her the comparison was an appropriate one. It was equally dumb luck that they’d tried stopped at a docking station at the same time her captors had, giving her an opportunity to make a break for it. Though Rose suspected her captors had been in pursuit ever since, the Trixans were sympathetic to her plight and had eluded them so far. The problem was that the Trixans had no idea where Earth was, and Rose, for all her years at Torchwood, had no idea how to direct them.
The earpiece itself, though, was no small miracle. She’d been in space not ten minutes before she’d been cursing the fact that there was no TARDIS to translate for her. But the earpiece worked wonders, allowing her and Celly to understand each other through their own earpieces. It was incredibly convenient, and part of Rose desperately wanted a few prototypes to take back home; Torchwood’s own translation technology was desperately minimal, and half the time it boiled down to “call the Doctor”. He’d miss his designation as interpreter, Rose was sure, but she certainly wouldn’t miss being unable to take part in dialogues herself.
Celly set the bag on Rose’s tiny worktable and Rose shifted to make room on her bench. Trixans were shorter than humans by just enough to make Rose feel awkward and bulky. She imagined the Doctor trying to fit at the table with them, all elbows and knees, and bit back a grin.
“Do you think it worked?” Celly asked, pulling Rose from her thoughts and taking a large box from the canvas bag. “I did my best to mimic a signal your technology might recognize, but without an example to work from it’s quite difficult.”
“Dunno,” said Rose. She dug into a smaller box of something she could only describe as salad. “I hope it did, but I guess I’ll only know when I get home and ask him.”
She popped something leafy and green into her mouth, trying to ignore the sinking feeling she got whenever she thought of the Doctor, no doubt driving himself half-mad in his attempt to find her. She wondered how much time he’d spent scouring London for her, not to mention Earth itself. She had faith in his ability to connect the dots, and she knew he wouldn’t just give up on her, but…
Well, it had been a while. She had no idea how long, exactly – it wasn’t like she could really keep track of Earth time all the way out here – but she was sure it had been weeks at least. She knew he didn’t have the TARDIS, didn’t have the resources he’d once had, but she’d half-expected him to show up in a spaceship he’d nicked from Torchwood. That she’d heard nothing, nothing at all, even after multiple attempts to contact him – well, it didn’t suggest nice things.
What if something had happened to him?
“I never asked,” said Celly, pouring a liberal amount of a viscous sauce onto her plate. “Humans, do you mate for life?”
Rose choked on her pasta. “Do we – oh, God, no. No.” She thought of Jimmy Stone and shuddered, shaking her head. “No, we don’t, thank God.”
Celly nodded, looking bemused but otherwise polite. “But you are quite desperate to get back to one male in particular.”
Rose laughed. “Noticed, did you?” She grinned, but it faded when her thumb reached out to spin her wedding ring and found it missing. Why would they steal her wedding ring? “It’s not just him – I mean, my family, my friends, my whole life’s back on Earth, but…” She shrugged. “Well, the Doctor, he’s… he’s one of a kind, that’s for sure.” She blinked and frowned. “Sort of.” Eager to escape the ache of longing she felt whenever she thought of the Doctor for long, Rose smiled and titled her head. “Do you? Mate for life, I mean.”
Celly shook her head. “No. Most people prefer multiple partners; increases genetic variety.” She shrugged. “But sometimes a mate is exceptional and one chooses to stay with them.”
Rose grinned. “Yeah, that sounds about right.”
“You find this doctor of yours exceptional, then?”
“Yeah.” She nodded, slow at first with a building enthusiasm. “Yeah, I reckon he is.” She made a face at her salad and stabbed it with a frustrated vengeance. “Even if I am always the one who’s got to build dimension cannons and hitch-hike across the galaxy to get back to him.” She lifted her fork and pointed it determinedly at Celly. “And I will get back to him.”
“What are you doing?”
The Doctor glanced up, gaze falling on the inquisitive stare of Jean-Janice-Janet. He thought for a second and then said, “Rose contacted me in our flat using our television screen—” He pointed to their telly, now hooked up to various Torchwood computers and other tracking devices. “So I’m trying to reverse its signal.”
“To find out where she is?”
“Exactly,” said the Doctor. He pointed his half-built sonic screwdriver at the computers, which lit up encouragingly. “Come on, come on,” he said before focusing on Jean-Janice-Janet again. “The problem is, Rose is using very new technology to contact very, very old technology. Fortunately, I’m brilliant with… well, most things.”
As he finished, the computers released a spray of orange sparks and then powered down.
Jean-Janice-Janet giggled. “Oh, well done.”
The Doctor frowned. “I never said it wouldn’t take some time.”
“Never,” he said seriously, prodding the computers with the sonic screwdriver.
Jean-Janice-Janet watched him re-wire the computers silently before sighing wistfully and saying, “Rose is lucky.”
He jerked up, jamming his finger against one of the computer’s dashboards. Sticking it in his mouth, he mumbled, “What?”
Jean-Janice-Janet looked startled, like she hadn’t meant to say that aloud. “Rose. The way you love her…” she trailed off. “Seems special, is all. Oh, I dunno. I didn’t mean to start sounding like a Hallmark E-card.”
The Doctor made a non-committal noise of agreement and ducked his head, hoping Jean-Janice-Janet would get the hint and leave him be.
I shot down a ship full of tourists, he thought about telling her. Innocent people—and I destroyed them. He wondered if Jean-Janice-Janet would still think Rose was lucky if she knew what he’d done.
Jean-Janice-Janet let out a long sigh, the kind that was almost impossible to ignore. He raised his head to find her staring at him.
She blushed. “It was a stupid thing to say.”
“No,” he said, “no, that’s fine.”
“It’s silly of me to…” Jean-Janice-Janet said, trailing off. She waved empty fingers in his direction. “Divorced twice. Sometimes I think I should just give up.”
“Oh, I dunno,” said the Doctor thoughtfully. “I waited a long time for Rose.”
He thought about his own wedding ring—he’d never even considered taking it off, not even when he thought Rose was gone. He felt a flash of fury. They’d stolen her wedding ring. They took it and stuck it on that dead body and tricked him into thinking she was gone.
He wondered if she would still want it back after eighty innocent lives.
Something on the computers beeped and he jerked up. “Oh—oh—that’s it! I knew you could do it, you beautiful things.” He kissed the sonic screwdriver before sliding it back in his pocket.
“You’ve found her?” said Jean-Janice-Janet eagerly.
“Locking onto her location now!” said the Doctor, unable to keep the wild joy out of his voice. He jumped to his feet. “Now, Ja—” he stopped and drew out the last syllable, looking at her hopefully.
“Karen?” she supplied.
“Right! KAREN! That's what I thought.” He raked a hand through his hair. “Fancy helping me bring Rose back?”
“Thought you’d never ask,” Karen said.
He took her by the shoulders and led her over to the computers. “Keep an eye on this chart there—as long as the lines stay vertical to each other, we’re alright. But if they start spiking—”
“Reboot the system?” Karen offered. The Doctor raised his eyebrow and she added, “I know a thing or two about how technology works in Torchwood. We’ve been lobbying the government to raise our budget for years, but you know how these things work.”
“It’s all about how you use what you’ve got,” said the Doctor. “Though a little bit of extra help wouldn’t go amiss…” he trailed off, pulling at his hair again. “ALIEN TECH! THAT’S WHAT WE NEED!”
Karen jumped at his outburst, eyes sliding from the computers, to his face and back again. “How do you mean?”
“I’ve got to talk to Pete,” he said. He pointed to the computer. “Keep your eye on it! And don’t let anyone else touch it!”
“You’re a star,” the Doctor called out before dashing away.
The Doctor burst into Pete’s office without knocking and Pete glared at him from where he was on the phone. Without preamble, the Doctor strode over to Pete’s desk, grabbed the phone, and slammed it back into its cradle.
“I know how to rescue Rose,” he announced.
Pete opened his mouth, hesitating like he wasn’t sure whether to berate him for bursting in.
The Doctor decided to take that as permission to continue. “Teleport,” he said. “Lock onto her position and teleport her back to Earth.” He paused and grinned, “We’ll call it ‘Beam me up, Doctor!’”
“Okay…” Pete said slowly, giving the Doctor a look he reserved for when he thought the Doctor sounded particularly insane. “It’s not that I doubt your abilities, but we’re years away from developing teleport technology.”
“Not if we borrow it from someone else.”
Pete looked intrigued. “Go on.”
“I’ve got an old Sontaran teleport,” said the Doctor. “Must have fallen to Earth—ooh, two years back? Short range only, but with a little tinkering—and sheer dumb luck—I might just be able to lock onto Rose’s position.”
Pete’s expression wasn’t the overjoyed look he was expecting. “You have a Sontaran teleport?”
“And you happened to, what, find it lying around?”
The Doctor shifted. "Depends. Would you buy that?”
Pete crossed his arms over his chest. “Doctor, I’ve taken a lot on faith letting you work with us again—”
“Oh, alright,” snapped the Doctor. “Back when I was sorting out Torchwood’s archives, I confiscated a few items.”
Pete heaved a sigh. “You … of course you did.” He paused. “Why?”
The Doctor rubbed the back of his neck. “Just… just the technology I thought would be too dangerous left in Torchwood’s hands.”
Pete stared at him incredulously. “Technology you thought was too dangerous in our hands?”
The Doctor’s tone hardened. “I know how to use them properly. You don’t. I thought it was best for everyone.”
“You thought the really dangerous stuff was better left in your hands?!” Pete exploded. He stood up and began pacing, face reddening. He spun around. “Are you insane?”
“I’ve had 900 years of experience with alien technology. How much experience does Torchwood have?”
“That doesn’t give you the right to steal from us—not even if you thought it was for the best.” Pete stepped closer to him, lowering his voice. “You’re a dangerous man, Doctor. Even more so without Rose. What if you decided to use that technology? Who could possibly stop you?”
The Doctor swallowed. “I wouldn’t.”
“You might think that now, but if the threat was big enough, if you were furious enough, what stands between you and that technology? What then, Doctor?”
“I wouldn’t,” the Doctor repeated. “Believe me, Pete Tyler, I have seen more death and destruction than you can even conceive of. I don't want to see any more.”
“And how much of it did you cause?”
The Doctor looked away and didn’t answer.
“That’s what I thought,” Pete said quietly. “You can use the teleport to bring Rose back under one condition. You bring back each and every piece of technology you stole from us.”
“And if I refuse?”
“Then no, Doctor,” Pete said, now sounding exhausted. “You can’t build the teleport.”
The Doctor flinched. “If I don’t build it, Rose might be stuck forever. I need Torchwood's laboratory to get it working.”
Pete paled, but his tone was steely. “Yes.”
“You could use her and toss her away without a second thought?”
“Of course not,” Pete spat. “But my first and most important job is serving this country and this planet. I’m sorry, Doctor, I’m very sorry, but I can’t allow that technology to stay in your hands.”
“And you’d sacrifice Rose.”
“If that’s what it takes,” said Pete. “But I don’t think it will come to that. What do you think, Doctor? Are you so desperate to hold your Time Lord superiority over us that you’ll give up Rose?”
“No,” he bit out. Then he added, “I’ve done a lot of things in my life, Pete Tyler, but this is a new low.”
Pete ignored him. “I want every single piece of technology back—every spark plug, every bit. If I think you’re lying, I’ll send a team into your flat. I’ll tear it to the ground. Do you understand?”
“Oh, yes.” The Doctor plastered on a smile. With forced cheer, he said, “Should I leave Rose stranded while I round up your technology or do I have permission to rescue her first?”
“You can start building the teleport.”
“How generous of you,” the Doctor said dryly. “I’m touched by your fatherly concern.” He gave a mock solute. “Nice talking to you, Pete, as always.”
Continue to part 5