* You guys are amazing! Thank you for all the reviews and kudos. I hope you understand, but updating this will be slow as I'm currently more involved with The Walking Dead fandom. But I will do my best to update this.
Chapter 11 - A Bit in Between
Rose felt a relaxing breeze guide her back into reality. However, when she opened her eyes, she wasn't sure if that was precisely where she was. She rubbed her face, and when she got her focus back she saw that she was definitely no longer in the TARDIS. She was lying under the shade of a tree with brilliant silver leaves. At her sides were snowy mountain ranges. And around her, fiery red grass danced with the light wind.
She was sitting up at this point, but the breeze and the way the grass felt beneath her was so lovely. So, she lied back down. She inhaled deeply, paused, then inhaled again. She could smell a hint of tea, metal, and old books. The familiar combination instantly made her feel at ease. Involuntarily, her eyes slid shut in contentment and she contemplated why she was there, and where the TARDIS was.
"You never left, my Wolf," a voice sang in her head.
Rose's eyes snapped open and she bolted upright, looking around. She was only confused for a moment when she realized the voice's tone came with a familiar hum that sounded like the universe. "TARDIS?"
Rose felt her mind be nudged in affirmation. "You are resting in one of my rooms. You're dreaming."
Rose nodded. "So, I'm not actually…here, then." She paused. "This is Gallifrey, isn't it?" Throughout their travels, Rose got the Doctor to speak more and more about his home. He was very detailed when he told her about the landscape.
"Yes and no. You are seeing a room that I have already created. This isn't the exact room, but you were about to have a nightmare, so I thought I'd show you this." She paused. "This is one of the Doctor's favorite rooms. It soothes him."
Rose tilted her head. "So…I'm in one of your rooms…while dreaming about one of your rooms? Is that it?"
"Yes. It will be up to the Doctor to physically show you this room. This is a very personal place for him."
Another strong breeze whipped her hair. She hummed happily. "Is that why it smells like him here?"
Rose thought she heard the TARDIS chuckle. "Not quite. You'll understand once you wake up."
"Can you tell me what happened? Why am I asleep?"
"We are not asleep, not yet. Rather, we are in a form of limbo, which we should be leaving soon." The TARDIS paused. "We almost died."
Rose paled. "We?! Where are they? The Doctor, Mickey-"
"You needn't worry," the TARDIS interrupted gently. "They're fine. And because of your Doctor's stubborn attitude and quick thinking, so will us."
"You said 'we'."
"You and I. We all fell through a crack in time and space. It depleted almost all of my power. The Doctor replenished that power. And now you and I are resting."
"How come I was affected," Rose asked.
The TARDIS gave a contemplative hum before speaking again. "How much do you remember when you became the Bad Wolf?"
Rose scratched her head. "Not much, bits and pieces-" A gasp yanked from her throat when images began flooding her mind.
A truck. The entirety of the universe before her eyes and at her fingertips. Daleks vanishing. Her friend coming back to life. Burning, so much burning. Feeling the lips of the man she loved. No more burning.
Rose had put her hands over her mouth and tears tumbled down her cheeks. She tried to talk, but it only came out as a strangled sob. "My Wolf, you must breathe," the TARDIS scolded quickly. Rose began forcing air into her lungs. "The feeling of regaining memories is overwhelming, but this is just the beginning. You must figure out how to handle such circumstances, or at least tolerate it."
Rose's head was swimming, with the recent memories and with confusion. "What do you mean?"
"You are able to sense and do things that any human would never be able to do. I will wait until you are composed. Now is a good time to tell you what you need to know. It'll be up to you whether you wish to share with your Doctor."
It was late into the night at the pier. The Doctor walked up a stone path, power cell in hand, and his friends following some ways behind him. He placed his hand gently on the door. "How're we doing? Feeling better?" He grinned when the TARDIS gave a hum that was much stronger than hours previously. "And…Rose?" This time, the TARDIS pressed against his mind, not only to calm him, but to tell him that she had been looking after her Wolf.
The Doctor exhaled and placed his forehead against the door in relief. His mind hadn't been on the adventure whatsoever, but on Rose and how worried he was. Now that the TARDIS had more energy, perhaps she would let them inside now. The day's heartache and exhaustion were catching up to him, and he wanted nothing more than to launch into the time vortex and take care of Rose.
Before the Doctor reached for the door handle, it creaked open on its own, invitingly. The Doctor's smile almost reached his ears at that point. Running up the ramp, he placed the cell back onto the console. With a warm glow, the lights began turning on one by one.
The hollow in his mind filled completely with his connection to the TARDIS. At the same time, he felt for his connection to Rose, and was startled when he found the link to still be neutral and unmoving. With a tinge of panic in his chest, he jogged to reunite with Rose. When he entered the room, the TARDIS was already trying to placate him, tried to convey that she was simply resting.
The Doctor only believed his ship when he sat down beside Rose. The color had returned to her skin, her temperature felt normal as he held one of her hands, and her eyes were moving beneath their lids as she dreamed. He chuckled breathlessly as he squeezed her other hand. The physical contact made the connection feel warm, bringing it slowly back to life.
Grinning like a lunatic, the Doctor bent down to press a kiss against her temple. He didn't realize he was doing it, but he had shifted to nuzzle his forehead against her's. He sighed happily. The link thrummed like a melody, telling him she was having a good dream.
He stopped, leaned back, and put his fingertips to his forehead. One of the books said that action would be involuntary, but he had no idea how much he craved it. He shook his head to collect himself.
A knock sounded at the door. "Can I come in," came Mickey's voice.
The Doctor flexed his jaw. After adjusting the blankets more comfortably around her, he stepped out into the hallway to join Mickey, closing the door behind him.
"How is she," Mickey asked.
"Much better now," the Doctor said, leaning against the door. The Doctor tried to convince himself that it was a casual move, but he knew that wasn't the reason. "Hopefully, she'll wake up soon."
Mickey raised an eyebrow. "So she fainted right before the TARDIS crashed. And she's starting to feel better now that the TARDIS has recovered."
The Doctor hummed thoughtfully. "I've been thinking about that, too."
Mickey pursed his lips. "Can I see her?"
The Doctor scratched the back of his neck. "Yeah, probably not the best idea right n-"
"It's just," Mickey interrupted. "Well…I at least want to say good bye to her."
The Doctor froze. "What are you on about?"
"Well, think about it. It sort of balances out. This world lost its Ricky, but there's me. And there's work to be done with all those Cybermen still out there." At the Doctor's silence, he continued. "'Cause I'm not the tin dog. I'm not Mickey the Idiot. Being here-"
"I know," the Doctor said flatly.
"And my gran's here. She needs me, and I need her."
"I know," he repeated with a nod. He tapped the door. "But she's your friend. She needs you, too."
Mickey shook his head with a sad smile. "She doesn't need me. She's got you." When the Doctor didn't respond to this, Mickey looked at the door he was leaning against.
Understanding what Mickey still wanted to do, the Doctor sighed. He didn't want to move away from the door. Not only was he protective of that room, but he was also protective of its current occupant. Mickey, of course, was no threat to her. However, his instincts were trying to override his logic, doing their damnedest to tell him to keep Rose safe from someone that wasn't going to harm her.
Mickey wasn't even doing any intruding. He only wanted to say goodbye to his friend. With a stiff nod, the Doctor forced himself to stop blocking the door. Mickey thanked him and walked inside while the Doctor watched from the doorway.
"Blimey," Mickey breathed, looking around the large room. "How come my room doesn't look like this? Uh, didn't, I mean."
The Doctor chuckled under his breath. "The TARDIS has a tendency to keep unoccupied rooms. I doubt she'll get rid of yours." He scratched an ear. "I'll give you some privacy. Close the door when you leave."
The Doctor was in the console room checking on the power cell when Mickey appeared. "Everything all right with it," Mickey asked hoarsely while swiping his fingers under his eyes.
"Yup," he responded lightly. "We've only got several minutes of power left. Have to be on our way before that time runs out." The Doctor walked down the ramp and opened the door. "Best get you on your way. Wouldn't want to keep your new boyfriend waiting."
Mickey rolled his eyes as he walked past, and the Doctor followed him out the door where Jake and Pete were waiting.
"So," Pete piped up, gesturing to the TARDIS. "What happens inside that thing, then?"
The Doctor crossed his arms. "Do you want to see?"
Pete shook his head cautiously. "No, I don't think so. You said your wife was ill. Is she in there? How is she?"
The Doctor ignored the shock and pure confusion on Mickey's face. "She is. And yeah, she's recovering. Hopefully getting her and the ship back to our world will help even more."
Pete tilted his head. "All that stuff you keep saying about different worlds…Who are you?"
"Imagine there are different worlds, parallel worlds. Worlds with another Pete Tyler and Jackie's still alive…and their daughter…" The Doctor knew he shouldn't be saying this much, but he had just been on one hell of an adventure with this man. And Pete had witnessed lives and loved ones be destroyed today. Maybe telling him would give him some form of hope or comfort knowing that a different universe did not experience the same fate his had.
The Doctor did not expect Pete's reaction. "I've got to go," he said quickly, face paling. "The Lumic factories, the Cybermen still in storage…" He turned and started walking away. "And I've got to tell the authorities, carry on the fight…"
The Doctor tried to keep his attention. "If you have any questions, anything you'd like to know about Jackie and Ro-"
"Don't," Pete ground out, not turning back to look at him. "Just don't." With that, he buried his face in his hands and walked down the path until he was out of sight.
Mickey cleared his throat. "We'll keep an eye on him," he said with a small smile. "It's what Rose would want. Here it is, by the way," he said, handing the Doctor his suit. "Not a crease."
"Good man," he exclaimed.
"And sorry, did he say 'wife'?"
"Did he, he must've been mistaken. Now, then, I've got to go," the Doctor said without taking a breath, not feeling the actual need to explain anything to him, but also running out of time. "Jake. Mrs. Moore, her real name was Angela Price. She's got a husband out there, and children. Find them. Tell them how she died saving the world." After Jake's promise, the Doctor turned back to Mickey. "Take Rose's phone." He handed him the device, which he pocketed instantly. "It's got the code. Get it out there, stop those factories."
Mickey nodded. "And what are you going to do?"
He nodded at the TARDIS. "Get us back into the time vortex, get Rose to the med bay, and then, once she's made a full recovery…"
"Keep on going," Mickey nodded. "Make sure to pilot the TARDIS our way every once and a while."
"We can't," the Doctor shook his head sadly. "I told you, travel between parallel worlds is impossible. We only got here by accident, through a crack in time. When we leave I've got to close it. We can't ever return."
Mickey closed his eyes briefly and crossed his arms. "I was hoping I'd be wrong about that." He paused. Then, he extended his hand.
"Good luck." The Doctor shook his hand firmly. "Mickey the Idiot," he said with a half grin and lightly smacked the side of his face in a friendly gesture.
"Watch it," Mickey chuckled.
The Doctor gave him one last nod goodbye before stepping into the console room and closing the door behind him. He tossed his coat over a coral strut, placed his suit on the jump seat, and started up the sequence to put them back into the vortex. As he circled the console, he took a little more time than usual. Quick enough to allow them to leave Pete's world before time ran out, but slow enough to savor every button, lever, and pedal he hit. He was grateful to the universe that his TARDIS was still alive and they were still able to continue on.
When they were in the vortex, he let out the breath he wasn't aware he was holding.
Patting the time rotor once, he collected his suit and took it with him to join Rose again. On his way, he saw that some of the hallways had reappeared. That meant he could finally get Rose to the med bay. He opened the door and hung his suit on a coat hanger near the night stand. He was about to scoop Rose into his arms when the TARDIS interrupted him.
"She'll be fine, Time Lord."
He scowled incredulously at the ceiling. "You should be resting!"
The TARDIS ignored that. "Do not disorient her by moving her. Nothing in the med bay will help."
The Doctor froze. "Why? What's wrong with her?"
"It is as you said. She's recovering. She merely needs rest."
He scowled again. "As do you. Why won't the med bay help?"
"That's not for me to divulge."
He groaned. "You said the same thing a while ago."
"Just know that she will be alright. I had locked my doors to protect my Wolf and myself. But my Wolf still needs time. I will not allow us to leave the time vortex for that duration."
He scoffed lightly, a grin forming. "And you say I'm overprotective of her. Thank you for keeping her safe."
The dim lights of the bedroom suddenly blinked rapidly. The TARDIS exited the telepathic conversation, and the Doctor was relieved when the lights went back to normal, telling him that the TARDIS was only knackered from the short conversation.
The Doctor placed himself more fully on the bed. He was delighted when Rose turned in her sleep to face his direction. She didn't scoot closer or open her eyes, but he was just thrilled to see more movement from her. Suddenly, Rose trembled. Given how thick the blankets were, the shiver probably had something to do with her dream. Nevertheless, he plucked his suit jacket from the hook and laid it over her.
Rose curled up a little, shifting the jacket closer to her face in the process. She inhaled, and made a wonderful sound that warmed his hearts so quickly it nearly took his breath away.
It was the sound of his name falling contentedly from her lips.