Fandom: Doctor Who (2005)
Notes: For antiwesley - request was for Rose, ‘no going back’, no Rose/Doctor true love. This is an AU where the Doctor was sucked into the Void in Doomsday.
Summary: That Christmas, after the Sycorax and the snow, she’d pestered him for flying lessons. Rose goes on alone.
She was somewhere else; she was five billion years away, watching the Earth burn far below. She was stepping onto freshly fallen snow a hundred years before she’d been born. She was running, laughing, in a thousand different places, and the Doctor (in a black leather jacket, in a long coat that streamed behind him like wings) was shouting something back at her, gripping her hand -
Someone said, “Can you hear me?”, and she was just here; kneeling at a blank, solid wall in Canary Wharf as it turned dark outside. “Can you hear me?”
“Yeah,” she said. Her voice still worked, and the woman touched her shoulder and for a second Rose was surprised that her hand didn’t go straight through.
“It’ll be all right. I promise, everything’s going to be fine.” She touched her earpiece – Rose remembered Lumic’s world, people frozen in the streets, the Cyberman who’d once been the woman who was and wasn’t her mother – and she said, “Owen, there’s someone alive up here.”
“Not the Doctor,” Rose mumbled.
“Yes, my friend’s a doctor, he’ll look after you.”
“I don’t need a doctor.” Not ever again. “I just want to go…” Home, except her mother was locked away in another universe and the Doctor was dead, and she couldn’t think where home was now. She stood up, forcing her cramped, stiff legs to support her, and painfully pulled the pieces of herself together. “Someone alive – you said that like – am I the only one? But there must have been thousands…”
“Don’t worry about that now.” The woman smiled at her, bright and sweet and with something terrified behind her eyes. They were high in the building. How many floors, Rose thought, how many bodies?
“Maybe there’s others, then,” she said. “You should go on looking. Don’t worry about me. I’m not even hurt.”
“But your hands…”
She looked down at them, the weeping blisters across her palms where she’d hung onto the clamp, the bloodied fingernails she’d broken on the wall.
“I can’t feel anything,” she said.
She promised to stay where she was until this doctor could get to her, and as soon as she was alone she found the stairs and ran till she was dizzy and lost. Floors above her somebody was screaming, and she couldn’t tell if it was pain or grief or just the raw sound of someone’s world breaking into bits.
I’ve got nothing left, she thought, and then she remembered the chain around her neck, and she wrapped her damaged hand around the key that hung there, cool against her heart.
That Christmas, after the Sycorax and the snow, she’d pestered him for flying lessons. ”My Christmas present,” she’d said, laughing as she refused the other gifts he’d suggested; exotic holidays, buried treasure, the heart of a star.
He’d told her, “You’ll never be able to fly her, not really.” Her, she noticed, when he’d always said ‘it’ before he’d changed. “They were meant to have six pilots – that’s why the console’s got six sides. Took me centuries to figure out the steering and I’m still on a wing and a prayer and the autopilot half the time.” But she kept on at him, and if he knew why he pretended he didn’t, and they didn’t talk about it.
You’re never leaving me behind ever again, she’d thought as he humoured her with the basics – takeoff, landing, fast return, how to work the scanner. Later he’d jumped through a mirror and stranded himself in the past, and while Mickey had worried, she’d practised in her head the buttons and the levers she needed to push to get them home. She waited five and a half hours for him, and afterwards she hadn’t been brave enough to ask whether he did it for time or for love, and now she’d never know.
So she could fly the ship, but not steer it; make it take off and land, but she hadn’t a clue where she’d even start navigating. Did that matter, though, that you couldn’t make the ship go where you wanted if you didn’t know where that was?
She turned the key in the lock, expecting –
Darkness. Or the lights dim, the ship dying slowly without him. Or wooden walls in front of her, a box no bigger on the inside than out.
She closed the doors behind her and shut her eyes, and she could feel the hum of the TARDIS all through her body. Once upon a time she’d opened its heart and taken it inside herself, and in her dreams she still remembered its – her – song.
“He’s gone,” she said out loud. “He’s dead. I mean... I think you knew that. Just needed to say it.” Talking to thin air: first sign of madness, her mum would have said. God, she hoped her mum would be happy and safe and loved.
Her hands were starting to hurt, but the controls moved gently beneath them. “He’s gone,” she said to the ship, to the universe, “but there’s me.”
She is somewhere else; she is on a planet where the people sing for conversation, and record their music in smoke. She is on the deck of a sailing ship, the salt on her lips and the wind streaming her hair back. She is running, laughing, in a thousand different places and sometimes she is by herself and sometimes there are others – friends, lovers, people who betrayed her and people who never wanted to leave, her enemies and her children and those she just swept up in her wake.
The ship is always near-by, and it is always a police box.
There is a woman in an alien market-place on a world whose name she doesn’t know – she’s seen so many – and she is old, now, but time is relative. Somewhere, she knows, she is a young girl with her mistakes ahead of her, and she is a starry-eyed teenager in love, and she is a woman kneeling at that wall in London realising that she’s survived the end of the world. And she is Rose Tyler, always, and she breathes in the spices and the smells of this beautiful new world and wonders where she’ll go next.