* My first shot with writing a Doctor Who chapter story. An AU to "Boom Town". Constructive criticism is welcomed. I referenced the episode "Boom Town" and the episode "Journey to the Centre of the Tardis".
I don't own Doctor Who at all.
Introduction: A Snapped Promise
"One wrong move and she snaps like a promise," the Slitheen hissed after catching the blonde by the throat. Blon Fel-Fotch stepped closer to the boys with a sneer growing across her face. "I've had you bleating all night. Poor baby," she mocked the Doctor as she dragged Rose over a step, a small choke escaping the captive's throat. The Doctor's growl was hard to suppress, and he almost broke his unbiased stare.
Their lifestyle wasn't always easy or happy; Rose knew this. The Doctor knew that Rose knew this. Currently, though, that didn't matter. Rose was in danger when he'd promised he'd always take care of her. He promised himself, he promised Rose. He even promised Jackie.
If you were to contact the Doctor months prior and question him regarding his friendship with Rose, he most likely wouldn't have batted an eye nor even think twice. Rose was just another companion. But times had changed. She was no longer just another ape. No. Rose Tyler, his pink and yellow human, became something a bit more to him. Something he still couldn't place.
Blon demanded that the Extrapolator be dropped at her feet. Jack Harkness stole a quick glance at the Doctor, to which his reply was a brisk nod. No chances were to be taken. Not with her.
The TARDIS continued to shudder with the vortex still ripping through her, and everyone tried to keep balance with it's ferocious rattling. However, the Doctor knew better. He could feel the insistence within his ship, within the TARDIS. He gave another quick nod, and only one being on the entire ship regarded the movement.
With a final heave, the TARDIS flung open a section of its console, finally and purposefully opening the brightness of its soul in front of their prisoner.
"Look at it, Margaret," the Doctor encouraged, a peaceful smile spreading over the Slitheen's human features. "Look inside, Blon Fel-Fotch. Look at the light." He grinned proudly at the TARDIS console, knowing that his precious ship was about to do something wonderful. He may have telepathic communications with the ship, but that was to an extent. The ship always seemed to have a mind of her own, only telling him half the plans she occasionally came up with. Less than half, the Doctor decided. His happiness was encouraged when Blon's claws slackened around his companion's neck.
And as Rose took a relieving gulp of air, familiar claws caught her throat once more, and retightened.
"Oh," Blon exhaled as the light of the TARDIS's soul seemed to dim by a fraction. "You are alive. And you are clever." A sharp groaning sounded about the TARDIS, and Jack almost mistook it for a menacing snarl. That's probably what it was. "I know," the Slitheen tutted as if speaking to a toddler instead of a centuries old time machine. With a small desperate cough coming from Rose, Blon returned to idly petting her golden hair. "But would you really risk it, having this little girl in the line of fire?"
Another growl resonated, and this time it wasn't the rift making everything shift. "What's going on," Jack demanded, almost facing the Doctor's bemused stare, but he didn't respond to the question.
The Doctor could feel something changing within the TARDIS, but nothing had taken control of her. The TARDIS originally had such a clever trick up her proverbial sleeve, but the agenda was changing. And he didn't have to wait long to know that the TARDIS's mind was made up, yet it continued to stall, its soul still wide open.
Blon's grin stayed plastered to her face. "Do we have a deal," she asked, not looking away from the light.
The Doctor wasn't surprised to feel the exasperation within his TARDIS. At this point, who wouldn't feel the same? However, when Blon easily flicked her eyes away from the light to look the Doctor in the eye, something nudged at the back of his mind. It wasn't an image, wasn't a particular sound, there wasn't even an echo. There were just words.
The Doctor's mouth worked around the words, unable to grasp their meaning. His confusion was quickly shattered when Rose was suddenly hefted onto her tiptoes, emitting a string of coughs and hacks as the Slitheen merely chuckled. A growing anger boiled in the Doctor's gut. Rose had only uttered hiccups and grunts up until that point. At the clearer sound of her obvious pain and distress, the Doctor stood straighter, ready to lunge forwards if needed. From the corner of his eye, he saw Jack getting ready to do the same.
"Margaret," he tried reasoning, still used to using her human name.
"Don't even try, Doctor," she spat at him, pulling Rose a bit closer.
For a brief second the Doctor and Rose caught each other's gaze...right before Rose's eyes slammed shut, her supply of oxygen slowly depleting.
He felt his usually casual demeanor crumple. "Margaret!"
"I told you once, Doctor," she said, ignoring the outburst and repossessing a grin. "that I can never escape you…but I was wrong, and now we're both getting our wish. We'll both be rid of each other. I can make that getaway I wanted, while you keep your precious city."
"Won't be that hard to follow you," the Doctor explained smartly as he casually strolled closer, discreetly trying to devise a way to rescue his companion. "Like you said, my ship's smart. Has the best technology out there!"
"I don't doubt it." Blon's smile never faltered. "But would she be willing to do as you say?" She turned back to the soul of the TARDIS. "A deal's a deal, old girl," she exclaimed, her wide smile turning manic.
Again, the Doctor felt two words burning at the back of his mind as a loud screech rang out and the room flooded with the sharp light of the TARDIS's soul. When the light was manageable enough to actually see, he looked to the spot where Rose had been standing. Then he blinked again, just to be sure.
The opened section of the console, containing the soul, closed with a tired hiss, with the rest of the console lazily sparking here and there. In his fixated state, the Doctor was only vaguely aware of Captain Jack leaping this way and that, reversing toggles and slapping various buttons. Only after this did the storm outside the TARDIS begin to quiet, the rift above them closing peacefully.
Jack spun around at the voice. Mouth closed in a mournfully thin line, Jack clapped a hand over the Doctor's shoulder, the two men staring at the empty space where their companion and prisoner once stood on.
The Doctor swallowed and whispered, "She's gone..."
Jack flinched when the Doctor suddenly bolted, racing around the console while turning on dials, buttons, switches, anything he could get his hands and fingers around!
"Hey," Jack hollered, stumbling around the console trying to keep up. "You gonna slow down and tell me what the hell's going on?"
"Come on," the Doctor grumbled after he twisted a 'Smiths' key that turned on a portion of the TARDIS's more advanced navigating systems, but the TARDIS rebelled. The key snapped back into position and froze there. Even when the Doctor tried twisting it again, the TARDIS didn't relent.
"Come on," the Doctor repeated with a steadily wavering voice. "Come on, you can track them."
The Doctor slammed his open palm against the edge of the console. "Help me track them, damn it!"
Jack couldn't help but flinch. "Doctor, what-"
"They teleported," he explained through clenched teeth, dipping his head and staring hard at a random speck of debris on the console.
After a moment, Jack crossed his arms and shrugged. "Just use the sonic to get them back."
"It won't work."
"While we were chasing Margaret it worked…three times in a row."
The Doctor numbly extracted the sonic screwdriver from his pocket and placed it in front of him. "The TARDIS teleported them. The TARDIS can make a sonic screwdriver. Therefore, there's no reason it can't control it." He exhaled.
"How can the TARDIS do all of that," Jack exclaimed dubiously.
The Doctor's voice raised, but he still didn't look at him. "This machine can travel through time and space, and you're wondering how she can teleport two people?" The Doctor shook his head. "The TARDIS opened up her soul. I don't even know how powerful that kind of energy is…The TARDIS did what she wanted."
Slowly and rigidly, the Doctor circled around the console. He didn't make an effort to fidget with the controls as per usual, as though this was a form of silent treatment to the old girl. "For some reason," he spoke quietly, with Jack straining to hear him. The Doctor stopped his hand from flicking out to involuntarily pat the centre of the TARDIS console. "She doesn't want us going after them.
"It doesn't make sense," the Doctor murmured, mostly to himself, as he began circling the console again. Jack could almost see a growing determination behind the Time Lord's eyes. "The TARDIS loves Rose." When the Doctor slowly began flicking toggles and pushing buttons again, a tiny grin splayed over the Captain's features.
"Well," Jack began. "We gonna go get her, or what?"
"Captain," the Doctor held Jack's gaze steadily. "We're going to find her whether the TARDIS likes it or not. The TARDIS may not want us to hone directly in on them, but she can't stop me from trying to track them myself." He spun a dial. "And when we find her," the Doctor murmured the promise. "Blon is going to meet the Oncoming Storm." He pulled one last lever and with a reluctant heave, the TARDIS took off into the vortex.
He remembered Rose's paling face as the Slitheen held her in its tight grasp. However, what stayed with him, as Harkness and him took flight, was not just her face, but her eyes. Her eyes weren't filled with malice or irritation, but with fear. She wasn't afraid for herself, though. She was afraid for her friends, for Cardiff. She was afraid that Margaret's plan would follow through.
The Doctor chuckled almost proudly. He couldn't name a time where she was selfish or uncaring. Her fear for other's lives was nothing new nor surprising, but the TARDIS's behavior was. And his beloved ship's words – those two haunting words – rang like cloister bells in his mind.