Author: The Laughing Duchess
Spoilers: Through the Runaway Bride, heavy spoilers for Rise of the Cybermen and The Age of Steel.
Disclaimer: They belong to the BBC and Russell T. Davies, not to me.
Summary: The easiest way back is the hardest to find.
Thank you to darksylvia for betaing!
She kept her head down when she finally made her way into the house. A man with a clip board told her to put her purse in the staff coatroom and she was on her way to do just that when she heard her own voice coming from within it.
“But I’m a terrible waitress.”
Rose darted a few steps down the hallway and opened the first door she came to. She flipped off the lights that lit up the small powder room before she cracked the door open and peered back out. She smiled wistfully as she heard the Doctor begin reasoning with her former self.
“Well you won’t really be a waitress tonight.”
“What if I spill something or drop my tray?”
“I think it would be better if you didn’t do either, Rose. Seriously now. Just smile and give the people their nibbles. No one will pay any mind to you.”
Suddenly her former self walked into view. Rose watched as the girl turned back towards the coatroom and cocked her head.
“Oh, I don’t know,” she said as her hands teasingly ran over her stomach and then lightly over her hips. “In an outfit like this, some blokes will pay loads of mind to me.”
The girl grinned, her tongue sticking out cheekily and then spun off quickly. The Doctor came dashing after her, calling her name with some urgency.
“Rose! Rose come back here!”
She stayed in the bathroom until her heart returned to a normal beat. Once she was relatively calm she checked the hallway before making her way back to the coatroom.
Aside from the clothes hanging in the closet and a little table, the room was empty. She placed her bag down and slowly scanned the racks. There on the end a bright splash of pink stuck out against a long brown sleeve.
She walked to it slowly, her fingers stretching out before her until they made contact with the soft material of his coat. She noticed a few blonde hairs clinging to it and smiled. She tugged it from the hanger, gathered it in her arms and pressed it to her nose, inhaling deeply.
She stood there, her body shaking as she held it. She knew it was the closest she would come to him for the rest of her life. She slid her arms into the sleeves and wrapped it around her body, feeling incredibly silly, but not caring enough to stop. Her hands slid into the pockets and as she wondered about putting the letter in one of them, the fingers of her right hand brushed against something that felt like a small rock. She pulled her hand out and gasped when she realized what it was.
The power cell, the cell he’d used to destroy the Cybermen. What was it doing here?
“May I help you?”
An irritated woman holding a clipboard and a set of keys interrupted her thoughts.
“Sorry!” She said wrapping her fingers around the cell. “I was cold and my, my friend lent me his coat…I was just putting it away.”
The woman looked at her questioningly but was distracted by a crackling in her ear. For a moment the woman talked to the air.
“No, no the wine should be in sun room.”
The woman held her finger up at Rose as she listened to a response.
“Of course I’m sure…no! No, don’t do that! Don’t do anything…. I’ll be right there.” She shifted her attention back to Rose. “I’m locking this room up now, you should get to wherever it is you’re supposed to be.”
Rose nodded as she quickly shoved the coat back onto its hanger, grabbed her purse and hurried out of the room. She went back through the kitchen and caught sight of the Doctor talking to some young woman she didn’t recognize. She turned abruptly, saw the open door of the pantry, ducked inside and closed the door.
She could still hear him.
“I’m sorry Lucy, did you say the President of England?”
Rose looked down at the power cell that rested in her hand and her mind spun. He had had this in his pocket that night, hadn’t he? This was what he used to destroy the Cybermen, wasn’t it? Had there been two? Had he broken back into the coatroom?
Had she just changed the future by stupidly taking it with her?
She jumped as a sharp voice called out for everyone to get to their stations.
Maybe she could slip it into his pocket or tell one of the servers that he’d dropped it and she needed them to return it to him. Could she trust a stranger with something so important? Could she be sure he’d get it back before the Cybermen showed up? It would be a terrible risk.
She had to think. She had to stop and think and be very rational and not panic. Panicking was the wrong thing to do here. Had he ever gone into detail about how he’d found the power cell? Had he ever said anything about not having always had it on him? What she mostly remembered was that he’d been surprisingly silent about where he’d been before the Cybermen arrived. She’d asked him once why he’d been so panicked when he’d walked back into the main hall and he had looked at her for a long time before finally saying he’d seen the plans on a computer in the study. He had known what was coming.
What if she put the cell next to the keyboard? He’d notice it, wouldn’t he? Especially if she could make it get all glowy somehow. He’d said he’d breathed on it, said he’d given away years of his life in order to save them and she hadn’t fully understood how he could be okay with that until now. She inhaled deeply and drew her hand up to her mouth. When her lungs were full she blew air over the cell.
“So much for plan A, then.”
The handle on the door turned suddenly and she shoved the power cell into her bag. When she looked up she was staring into the face of a very surprised sous chef.
“Oh, thank God.” Rose said as she darted out. “I’ve been stuck in here for ages!”
“I’m so sorry miss, are you okay?” The chef called out to her as she made her way through the kitchen.
“Fine, fine. Totally fine. Thanks again!”
She darted through the narrow hallway, around several prominent dignitaries and up the stairs. She ran to the study, turned the knob and cursed when it didn’t turn. It was locked.
Where would Pete have kept a key? She raced down the hallway to his bedroom and opened the door cautiously. It was empty.
She made her way to the bedside table and tried not to feel creeped out by the wedding photo of Pete Tyler and the other Jackie that sat upon it. She checked the drawer but there were only a few odds and ends inside it.
“Think, think,” she whispered.
Where did Pete keep the key to the study? She scanned the room quickly, trying to jog her memory. He wasn’t the most paranoid of men, she didn’t think it would be incredibly well hidden.
Thirty minutes later she had turned out all of the drawers in the bedroom. Going through the other Jackie’s things had been harder than she had thought it would be. If she was willing to consider Pete as her father in this world, than this woman was exactly what to her? There were shirts and sweaters, scarves and jewelry in those drawers that she knew her Jackie would have picked out. This woman was a copy of her mother and she was about to suffer a terrible fate. It wasn’t fair that she couldn’t warn her.
She stood in the middle of the ransacked room, her stomach churning with frustration and knew that her time was running out. She walked over to the dresser and ran her eyes over its surface as she thought. She almost passed out when she saw a little dish of change sitting on the dresser. Nestled amongst the coins was a key.
It had to be the right one. She couldn’t believe the universe would be so cruel as to deny her this one favor. She grabbed it and her bag and ran back to the study. When she reached the door there was a light coming out of the glass panes at the top that hadn’t been there before.
She was too late. He was already inside.
She hid in the shadows and tried to come up with a new plan. Maybe she could throw it at him and then run away really fast. Maybe she could call out to him and say that he’d dropped it and turn away so he couldn’t see her face.
She didn’t have a moment more to think of a plan, the door opened and her heart slammed in her chest.
She had to be quick. He came tearing out of the study and almost ran past her. She shot her hand out and grabbed his wrist. “Doctor!”
He turned back to her and when their eyes met her heart soared. For a moment it was just them, but fast as lightning it changed. His eyes became impossibly large as he took in her appearance. He took a step towards her, his free hand instinctively coming up to touch her face. The moment his fingers brushed her skin, she felt the overwhelming urge to tell him everything.
“A parallel Rose!” he said, mostly to himself.
“What? No, Doctor,” she said brushing his hand away. “Please, there’s no time to explain.”
“Explain what? How do you know me? Who are you?”
“It’s me. I’m Rose. Your Rose.”
She almost laughed as she watched the confusion spread behind his eyes. He blinked slowly and then stepped back. “But you’re….but…what’s going on here?”
“Doctor, there’s no time. I need you to listen to me.”
His eyes narrowed and his voice was harsh. “What have you done with Rose?”
“Nothing, she’s downstairs. Doctor, I’m from your fut-”
“No! No, whoever you are, whatever you’re trying to do, stop.”
“Doctor, it’s me. We went back to Earth and there were these-“
The Doctor slapped his hands over his ears like a five-year-old child and screwed his eyes shut. Her heart broke into a thousand pieces as she looked at him. She wasn’t doing this right. Explaining the situation was the wrong thing to do. She just needed to give him the power cell. She just needed him to believe her.
She stepped towards him and gently took his hands down from his ears, slowly pulling them to his sides and clasping them in her own before she began quietly speaking a variation on the words that he had once spoken to her. “Do you remember, Doctor? The very first word you ever said to me, trapped in that cellar, surrounded by shop window dummies, oh, such a long time ago. You took my hand and said one word, just one word, you see.” She paused for a moment and then whispered, “Run!”
His eyes slowly opened and he looked at her for a moment. When he spoke his voice was soft but urgent, “Rose, whatever has happened, I’m sorry, I’m so sorry, but you can’t tell me anything more.”
The fierce grip he had on her hands revealed how desperate he was for her to not go any further and his eyes were wide with a mix of fear and sadness. She regretted causing him so much distress.
She nodded at him as tears filled her eyes. “Okay.”
He let go of her hands and they stared at one another awkwardly.
“I’m sorry,” he said.
His face was ashen. “Are you all right?”
Instead of answering, she reached into her purse and dug around for a moment. She pulled her hand out, the power cell resting in her fingers as she revealed it to him. “I just wanted to make sure you had this.”
His hand flew to it. “How did you get that?”
His fingers brushed against hers and she felt the urge to grab hold of him and not let go. She jerked her hand away and stepped back.
“Doesn’t matter. You should go.”
He swallowed hard and nodded as his eyes sought hers. She wouldn’t meet them.
“You need to go. The Cybermen, they’re almost here.”
“They’ll be here any second.”
Rose watched as the Doctor started to put the power cell in the inside pocket of his suit jacket.
“No. Keep it handy.”
He looked at her strangely.
“You’re… going to need it.”
He nodded at her before swallowing hard.
“Rose…whatever’s happened…I’ll figure something out. I’ll save you, I pro-”
They jumped as a bright light beamed into the office behind them and lit up the hallway they stood in.
Rose’s eyes began to well again but she smiled at him as she pulled him into a hug.
“I’ll fix it,” he whispered into her hair.
“I know you will,” she lied as his arms tightened around her. “Goodbye, Doctor.”
“Next time I see you, Rose Tyler,” he said pulling back so he could look at her. “Remind me to be very angry at you for doing this.”
She nodded as they released each other, their eyes meeting again for the briefest of moments before he turned and ran back to her past.