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Chrysalis - Chapter Sixteen

Title: Chrysalis
Character/Pairings: Rose/Ten, Rose/?
Rating: PG-13
Disclaimer: Doctor Who ain't mine.
Spoilers: For the end of Series 3.
Summary: This is serious AU territory, my favorite place to be, really.   Cannon takes a sharp turn into the wild blue yonder after Utopia.  This won't seem like a Doctor/Rose fic at first, but be patient.....
PG-13 for the moment, some language.

The Doctor saw 'Prime' Rose off alone, sending her off to an uncertain future in search of her Doctor.  Martha prayed she found him.  She prayed they would be able to stop the slow moving avalanche that seemed to be collapsing the Prime-linked version of Pete's World.

The Doctor disappeared for two days after she left.   Jack said to leave him be.  True to form, he showed up on the third day as though he had never left, showing no sign of  having found and lost Rose. 

"He never gets what he deserves, does he?"  Donna said sadly over a hot cocoa one night.  "It's like...I don't even know what it's like.  Like he just gets hit again and again with one terrible blow after another.   Like some big bad god somewhere out there has got it in for him."

"He's made of sterner stuff than you think, love," Benton told her.  Martha smiled at the pair of them.   They thought they were being circumspect, but they looked like giggling newly-weds whenever their eyes met.

Everyone, Martha included, avoided mentioning the other Rose's visit until the Doctor himself brought it up on a clear spring evening, three days from Convergence.  

"Best foot forward, everyone!" He told the entire HQ crew as they ate an evening meal that tasted like nervous energy and fear.   Martha could see in the faces around her that no one was the least bit surprised that game time had come three days early. 

Martha walked between Donna and Jack as they followed the Doctor to the roof.  No one was speaking or even speculating on what was about to happen.

"We've got a problem," the Doctor said when the rooftop.  The sky was clear and sparkling with stars.   Martha took a deep breath of the cool clean air, feeling alive and more happy than she could express in words to be here with the Doctor and the people around her.  Even if this was the beginning of the end, she would not have changed an instant of the last two years.   "Rose was right about the collapse being an intra-univeral event!"  Everyone gazed upward in the direction of the Time Lord's pointing finger.   "The Abell Galaxy in the Virgo Constellation has a planet called Amaodalistrati.   Lovely people, six arms and they say hello by snogging you senseless.   Literally snogging you senseless:  their saliva has an enzyme that acts as a very strong sedative to most races.  You can't see it from any telescope on Earth except this one."  He patted the long slim piece of star-gazing equipment he had spent the day retrofitting with a few peripherals to 'give it a bit more oomph.'  "Only now you can't see it at all.   It's gone.  The world, the 500 million people on it, its sister planets and its sun.   There's no debris, not residual radiation indicative of a Denibrian sun smasher---never mind the Denibrians won't have those for 100,000 more years.   There's nothing.   Just...poof."

Martha stared up into the night sky, remembering Jack's account of Rose's story.   "The stars are going out," she repeated.

"I've found three more systems in the general vicinity that are missing," the Doctor told them.

"How long do we have?" Donna asked quietly.  Her fingers were laced through Bentons'.

"Days," the Doctor said, still looking up.

"What do we do?"  Jack asked.  "How do we even figure out who or what's doing this?"

"Oh, that won't be a problem," the Doctor said with false good humor.  "They're on their way here.   Sarah Jane's Mister Smith picked up the energy signature of a fleet dropping out of FTL on the edge of the solar system around 20 minutes ago.  They'll be here within the next few hours."

Martha stood up a little straighter, adrenalin humming through her body.   No matter how many times she faced these kind of all or nothing odds, she would never feel cool, calm and professional.  Every time was like the first, elation laced with stark terror.

"I have an idea," the Time Lord said softly.   "The fleet on approach is no coincidence.  Somehow, someone out there knows we're onto them.  Maybe they were monitoring universal integrity rifts and saw Rose come through.  If what they're doing is going on in every potentiality, they don't want word getting out about what they're up to in universes where the process has barely begun.   Otherwise someone might be able to stop them.  I can infer a lot from their line of approach, but since the dissolution is being manufactured, I could actually pin-point the origin of the collapse with the Tardis.  But I can't...."  He stood still as a stone for a second, then heaved a sigh like a man giving up his life.   "No.  I don't have a choice, do I?"  He looked at Jack, his eyes lost, as though seeking some kind of absolution.  

"Whatever idea you've got, Doctor, you've got to do it," Jack agreed.  "If I understand everything you've told me and all the Rose told you, this is a game-ender.  Everything everywhen depends on stopping what's happening."

"Right," the Doctor said, more to himself than to Jack.   "Right!" He said more decisively.   "Malcolm, I need you to do some calculations for me on the fly.   Everyone else, I've got jobs for all of you.  We've got just enough time if we hurry!"

He led them to the Lever Room and began feeding Malcolm a series of equations to input into the Levers' server console interfaces to their quantum engines while he worked on another set.  The little Welsh scientist, so quiet and subdued since Tosh's death, looked up at the Doctor in utter shock, having realized something that no one else in the room would grasp if they had the Doctor's equations in hand for a millennia.  "But this will..."

"Just do it, Malcolm," the Doctor said gently.   "There's no other way."

"But you said---"

"And it was true.  But today the convergence is close enough that we can attempt it with a reasonable chance of success.  Which is more than we or anyone else in the universe will have if we do nothing."  He smiled at the trembling man and laid a hand on his shoulder.  "Make her proud, Malcolm."  Martha didn't have to ask who the Time Lord meant by 'her'. 

Martha put her hands to the tasks the Doctor gave her, not understanding the changes to the software configuration parameters she was making, following the Time Lord's instructions on blind faith.   Everyone had something to do, but she doubted anyone understood the whole of it except the Doctor.   And possibly Malcolm.   If they had, she realized much later, they would have tried to stop him.   Whatever the whole of his plan was it was horribly dangerous.   She could see that in the hard set of the Doctor's jaw, in his white, strained pallor and in the eyes of Jack and Benton as he spoke softly to them, giving some sort of last minute contingency plan.  

"I have to take care of this or nothing else matters," he told Benton, who was nodding in agreement.  "It's up to you to make sure this invasion fleet doesn't destroy the Earth while I'm gone.  I'm hoping they won't see the point once I'm gone, since I've got a hunch it's me they're coming for.   Benton, Jack...It's been an honor."

Benton and Jack saluted in unison.  The mere fact that the Doctor allowing this hit Martha like a load of bricks.  Malcolm came up and hugged him, telling him everything was ready.  Martha did the same. 

Donna kissed his cheek.  "Fifteen minutes 'til they hit our atmosphere," she said.  "Whatever you're going to do, spaceman, do it now." 

"You're all brilliant," he said with a smile.   He glance at Malcolm.  "Ready?"

"Ready and able, Doctor!"  Malcolm said.  The Welsh scientist had moved to the right most of the two 'never to be touched under any circumstances' Levers.  "Oh, and Doctor, should everyone else leave the room?   Or maybe the building?"

The Doctor shook his head.  "If this goes wrong, the other side of the universe won't be far enough to qualify as a safe distance."  The Doctor took a place next to the other Lever and turned to face the featureless white wall.   "Oh, Rose..." he whispered.   Martha wondered if anyone else in the White Room had heard the words.   "Allons-y!" The Doctor cried.  

Martha hit the initiate command at her terminal and a smooth female voice murmured. "Online."

The Doctor and Malcolm pushed the two Levers into upright positions and the room roared to life.  The floors, the walls, the whole building began to shudder.   The white wall around the Tardis began to move, turning to a milky whirlpool around the Tardis.   The Doctor stepped back from his Lever and Jack took his place.   The Time Lord, his face blank as a stone wall, raised his sonic screwdriver and pointed it at his ship.   A sound rose, like a billion metallic nails dragged over a chalkboard, the sound of the flesh of reality tearing.  And behind it, a screeching howl of nothing.  Of the Nothing.  The Void.  The noise became a deafening, mad cacophony and in the center of the maelstrom, the Doctor stood coldly unafraid.  And slowly, the Tardis retreated from its seat in the wall.   As it detached itself from the gap, Martha stared in horror at the---the cleft in creation the time ship left in its wake.  It could not have existed for more than a thousandth of a second, but the brief glimpse, for that tiniest fraction of time, made her mind feel as though it might buckle with the sheer horror of it.  There was a faint burst of heat on her face, a push of air that was not air from the---the open hole in the universe.   Only now, instead of a nightmarish glimpse into Hell, it was a flat black, uninteresting hole in the wall.   The wall around it had stabilized, but the gap remained. 

The Tardis spun in slow motion, reeling to a landing a meter in front of the Doctor, its doors facing him.  As though she were welcoming her master back. 

"Wow," Jack said quietly.  "He did it."

"Doctor, the hole---" Malcolm began.

"No one touch it!"  The Doctor called.  He pulled his Tardis key from his pocket and thrust it into the keyhole.  "It's stable.   If it were going to collapse, it would have done it immediately.  But it's still cooling down.  Anyone who gets too close to it right now will get cooked.   And that's not a metaphor."   He turned back to the humans gathered around the Tardis doors, "Wish me luck," he said.  "I'm going to---"

He never finished his sentence.  Before he could turn the key in the lock, the Tardis door was wrenched open from inside.   The Doctor froze, staring downward, into the Tardis.  Martha peered around him and saw what had stopped him in his tracks.  Slowly, the Doctor knelt and spoke in his most gentle voice.

“Hi,” he said.  “It’s all right. You don’t have to be afraid.”

The small tow-haired boy sniffled, and eyed the Doctor with huge teary eyes.  He looked roughly five years old.  He reached out tentatively and touched the Doctor’s chest, laying both hands on each side, one over each heart. The child gave another sniffle of surprise.  “You’re like me.”

“Yeah,” the Doctor whispered.  “Yeah, I am. What’s your name?”

The boy didn’t answer. But he tugged at the Doctor’s hand urgently.  “Mummy’s mad at Dad.  I don’t know why.  She locked us in the Tardis and wouldn’t open the door. Mummy’s hurt.  Can you help her?  She won’t wake up and I can’t hear her here,” he pointed to his head.

The Time Lord’s face turned white.  Whatever showed in his face must have been terrible, the child took a step backwards and moaned in fear, beginning to cry.  The Doctor looked stricken and reached out, scooping the boy up in both arms, standing as he did.  “Don’t be scared, okay?  Let’s go help your mummy.   Where is she?”

“Inside,” the boy whispered. 

The Doctor strode into the Tardis without looking back.  Martha ran over to the make shift medical ward she’d set up at the back of the White Room in case things went horribly wrong.  She grabbed the medical kit there and followed the Doctor into the Tardis, praying silently that Rose was not dead or past helping. 

Chrysalis - Chapter Fifteen

Title: Chrysalis
Character/Pairings: Rose/Ten, Rose/?
Rating: PG-13
Disclaimer: Doctor Who ain't mine.
Spoilers: For the end of Series 3.
Summary: This is serious AU territory, my favorite place to be, really.   Cannon takes a sharp turn into the wild blue yonder after Utopia.  This won't seem like a Doctor/Rose fic at first, but be patient.....
PG-13 for the moment, some language.

Rose Tyler opened her eyes to a sight she had begun to think she would never see again. 

"Hi," the Doctor said.  His voice was full of simple quiet joy.

"Hi," she repeated.   He was sitting on one side of her bed, his long fingers threaded through hers.  It felt so natural and perfect, familiar as though she just held his hand yesterday.  "Missed you." 

"Missed you," he repeated, a faint quaver in his voice that nearly broke her heart. 

"You were shot," he told her.  "I've been cheating a bit lately, bending the rules.  I set up a primitive sort of tissue re generator like I had on the Tardis for medical emergencies.  Martha---that's the girl you met when you crossed through the rift----is the only one I've taught to use it so far.   Patched you right up, good as new, both the bullet wound and the concussion."  He took a deep breath.  "Rose...what happened?  Did he remember everything?  What about Jackie, Mickey and Pete?  Are they alright? Has he hurt them?"

Rose frowned at him in confusion.  "He who?"  She couldn't hold back any longer.  Too many worlds and battles and fruitless searches and the thing that had kept her going was not the terrible need back in her universe, not the impending cataclysm of a collapsing reality.  It had been the thought of seeing his face, of touching him again, hearing his voice.   She sat up in the hospital cot, took his face in her hands and kissed him.   His mouth and body jerked the tiniest bit in surprise, but he did not pull away.  When she would have pulled back, he leaned forward, one hand behind her head, and kissed her again.   She made a noise into his mouth, a soft little sob of happiness.   "Been wanting to do that forever," she said.

He didn't speak, just leaned into her, his forehead against hers.  "Rose," was all he said.  "Tell me what happened."

She lay one hand along side his face.  "I've been universe jumping for six months now, Doctor, looking for you.  I was shot in this really awful world.  Hitler won the war.  I think we should call it Nazi World, not that I'm ever planning on going back.   We had this---this device, a dimension canon, we called it.   It was some incredibly advanced piece of time space hardware that fell though the rift in Cardiff, but Malcolm---one of our scientists---figured out how it should work.  Except it didn't work.  Then the stars...." She shivered against him.  "We looked up one night and the stars began going out.  Just vanishing.  Whatever was happening, Malcolm and Tosh said it was like a slow avalanche and we were on the outer edge of it.  So we had a bit a time before it would be our turn to go out.   Thing is, once the universe started just dissolving around us, the dimension canon started working.  So, I've been hunting you.   Jumping from universe to universe, searching for you."

He had gone still in her arms.   "Rose...in your version of Pete's World...is the Tardis stuck in the wall of the Lever Room here at Torchwood Towers?"

She shook her head, a cold little knot of dread forming in her stomach.  "No," she said.   She drew back and started at him.   No.   It wasn't fair.  "Oh," she said.  "Back there in the White Room.  I saw..."  She trailed off.  "I'm not your Rose, am I?"

He shook his head.   "Yes and no.  The last time were together here at Torchwood, when we fought the Daleks and you fell toward the rift---that was you and me.   About a year ago, our timeline and yours split when I found another surviving Time Lord called the Master.   He stole the Tardis and tried to fly it through the rift into your universe.  That's where we diverge.  Anything before that time, every thing we ever said or did together, that was still us. "

"So..." She paused, trying to wrap her mind around it, not wanting to understand, wanting to wail and rage at the injustice of finding him at last only to... "So, you are my Doctor.  Or you were.   But not anymore." 

He leaned forward again, his head touching hers once more and she felt a tremor run though him.   She wrapped her arms around him in denial of the truth she already knew.  "I want to keep you," he said fiercely against her temple.  "I want to keep you here and the other Doctor and all the other universes be damned.  But..."

She sighed, refusing to cry.  "But the other Rose....your Rose....she needs you.   And...and my Doctor needs me." 

"Yeah."  The soft word sounded as broken as she felt.

"Alright," she said after a moment.  "Let's get my jump manipulator working again, so I can get going.   I need to go. I need to leave now, while I've still got the strength to leave you."

He smiled, a heart-breaking mix of sorrow and pride.  "You find him, Rose.  Find him and don't let him go.  He's me. But in case he's too stupid to tell you or everything's too mad and dangerous when you finally meet or in case I never get a chance to say this to my Rose..."  He put his lips to her ear and said the words.  The three words he had not had the chance to say before.   And they were more than enough to keep her going.

Chrysalis - Chapter Fourteen

Title: Chrysalis
Character/Pairings: Rose/Ten, Rose/?
Rating: PG-13
Disclaimer: Doctor Who ain't mine.
Spoilers: For the end of Series 3.
Summary: This is serious AU territory, my favorite place to be, really.   Cannon takes a sharp turn into the wild blue yonder after Utopia.  This won't seem like a Doctor/Rose fic at first, but be patient.....
PG-13 for the moment, some language.

They returned to Earth six weeks before Convergence.   The arrived sometime around 4am in the morning, London time.   HQ was still, everyone still abed except the few guards Benton insisted on keeping posted in the wee hours.   The common room was deserted except for a sole occupant.  Jack sat at one of the long tables, drinking alone.    He looked up, unsurprised at they materialized and stood slowly.    The Doctor watched him, his face unreadable.

"You should have told me," Jack said softly.  His face was white with anger.

"You've been drinking," the Doctor said as though the other man had not spoken.

"Doesn't affect me since I became immortal," Jack said.  "Don't change the fucking subject."

"There was nothing anyone could have done, Jack," the Doctor said, a hint of gentleness in his voice.   "I'm sorry."

"Is that why you left?" Jack asked bitterly.  "So, you wouldn't have to watch it happen and be able to do nothing?   Like I had to?"

"What's happened?" Donna asked.   Her voice carried all the dread Martha was feeling.   She closed her eyes, remembering the way the Doctor had not seemed to want to let go of Tosh.

"Tosh is gone, isn't she?"  Martha asked.

"Tosh and Owen,"  Jack said, his face softening as he looked at Martha and Donna.  "I'm more glad to see you both than I can tell you, ladies!"   He stepped over and gathered them both in a bear hug, holding them like family at a funeral as the shock and grief set in.   When Martha pulled away, she saw Donna was crying as well.   "They both died like lions, heroic to the end. You'd have been so proud of them!"  Martha wasn't sure whether Jack was talking to her or the Doctor.   Maybe he was talking to all of them.  

Tosh was gone.   Pretty, neurotic, sweet, wonderful Tosh!   God, it was awful that Owen was merely an afterthought to that, but he'd spent most of his time in Cardiff with Gwen's unit and Martha had barely known him.    Martha felt tired, weary  and sick beyond words with grief.   She suddenly wanted her mother in the worst way.  

A while later, Martha's initial burst of tears quieted down and Jack stepped away, sitting down on one of the long benched, staring up at the Doctor dry-eyed.   

"I'm glad you took Donna and Martha away," Jack said after a moment.   "There was a point where I would have asked for Martha to come down.   She might have been in the thick of it if she's been here.   I guess her death wasn't Fixed, was it?"

"No," the Doctor said softly.  "It wasn't."

"Is this my punishment?"  Jack asked.   "For what I did with the 456?"

"You know better than that," the Doctor told him.   "I'm sorry, Jack.  I couldn't be here.  Tosh...her death was Fixed.   And I didn't trust myself to be able to stand by and let it happen."

The Doctor sat down beside him and laid one arm tentatively on the other man's shoulder, unsure of Jack's reaction.  Jack leaned into the one-armed embrace, like a teenage boy seeking comfort from his father, comfort he believed he was too old to need.   They sat like that for a long time, until the first stirrings of the earliest risers at HQ threatened to intrude on their shared sorrow.       




Four weeks from Convergence, and Martha sat alone in the White Room staring at a monitor Malcolm had set up to watch spacial and temporal anomalies in and around Earth.   With the approaching universal convergence, the Doctor had said the possibility of ‘thin spots’ ---weak places in the walls between the two worlds where people and things could slip through---would increase.   That was bad enough, but there was also the increased possibility of things crawling out the Void.   Gwen’s group at the Cardiff rift was on high alert as well.   Both locations were keeping watch 24/7 for any variations that might indicate someone or something having slipped through.  Martha had drawn this weeks's graveyard shift.  

Just for the moment she was alone, which was unusual.  The Doctor had grown more and more restless and edgy as the big date approached.  He didn't need very much sleep as a rule, normally about an hour a night.   Martha was fairly certain, right now, he wasn't getting any at all.   They had not spoken of his fears for Rose, not just for her life but the integrity of her mind, since that night on the stairs.  But Martha knew it was foremost on his mind, a constant fear that would soon be put to rest or realized. 

Every night, all week long, he had come to sit up with her, talking non-stop, just gambling on about anything his magpie mind turned to.   Martha found herself almost wishing someone would try an invade Earth or at least try a hand at world domination just to turn the Time Lord's mind from the constant worry.   She yawned, checking the clock.  He had left 20 minute ago, saying something about Chinese take-away.  

She stared at the Tardis protruding from the wall at the end of the long wide corridor, the fissure in time and space.   Jack had mentioned something about time sensitive people like the Doctor---neither man had yet sufficiently explained what that term meant---being able to practically smell rifts like the one where the Tardis was currently lodged.  Was that why he was spending every night here now?   Not out to need to occupy his mind with something other than worry for Rose in the wee hours when there were fewer things to distract him, but because the half healed breach would grow progressively weaker over the next two weeks.   If it actually buckled, the Doctor was the only soul in the creation who would stand a chance of shoring it up before both universes collapsed into the Void. 

"Damn,"  said a woman's voice, soft and full of weary disappointment.  "Jumped back wrong again."

Martha stared at the intruder.   She was Martha's age, wearing a shiny blue leather jacket.  Her long blond hair was damp and tangled, her jacket worn and stained, her eyes tired.  Before she could speak again the other girl asked a question that silenced any words she might have uttered.   "Guess it's too much to hope there's a Doctor in this universe, yeah?"

"I---" Martha began, half-standing. 

"Rose..."  The Doctor was standing in the threshold of the White Room, two boxes of orange peel chicken and fried rice falling to the floor from his numb fingers.  

The other woman turned and smiled, a brilliant soft smile.  "Hey there, you," she whispered.  And began to topple forward.

The Doctor and Martha moved at the same time, but the Doctor was faster.   The damp in her hair was blood.   The dark stain on her jacket was the same.   The Doctor caught her with a wordless cry an instant before she hit the floor.

Chrysalis - Chapter Thirteen

Title: Chrysalis
Character/Pairings: Rose/Ten, Rose/?
Rating: PG-13
Disclaimer: Doctor Who ain't mine.
Spoilers: For the end of Series 3.
Summary: This is serious AU territory, my favorite place to be, really.   Cannon takes a sharp turn into the wild blue yonder after Utopia.  This won't seem like a Doctor/Rose fic at first, but be patient.....
PG-13 for the moment, some language.

They arrived back on Earth just in time for the Sontaran invasion, just in time to see half of UNIT's finest gunned down by the enemy.   The Sontaran's didn't occupy the same place in the Doctor's pantheon of 'not good' as the Daleks, but they were definitely in the same neighborhood.   As with the Daleks, it unnerved Martha more than she could articulate  to see the Doctor treat anyone as an enemy.  She had learned that this always meant two things:  the people in question were very very bad.  And they would soon be very very dead.   It was a sad  cliche that he always gave these enemies a chance to withdraw or change their plans and they never took it.   Like special needs mice, forever hitting the pain button and never learning that their actions produced the unpleasant outcome.   Tardis HQ was hit hard before the end.  Ross and Pierce were the two hardest casualties for Martha to bear.   Young Ross had won his spot in Tardis HQ by saving a woman’s life during that incident with the space liner Titanic.  Astrid, the Stoian woman whose life he had saved, came to the funeral from Cardiff where the former space port waitress had joined Gwen’s team at the Hub.  She told his parents personally that Ross had saved her life earlier that year and that he had died saving the world. 

Donna, ever resilient, came and joined Martha in her rooms the day of the funerals for a cry and a little gossip.  

"Malcolm's in love with Tosh," Donna said, offering Martha another piece of pizza.   It had become HQ’s primary food source in the last few weeks.   How they all had managed to keep from ballooning up two stone in the last two months, Martha didn't know.

"Must be all the running," Donna said when Martha voiced the question aloud.   "Of course, Tosh is completely oblivious.   She's only got eyes for that slimy little toad Harper, poor love.   But---" Donna leaned forward, her eyes worried.   "Something's going on between the Doctor and Jack.  Oh, that didn't come out right, did it?   What I mean it, they're barely speaking since we got back."

"What's happened?"  Martha asked.

"No idea," Donna told her.   "But it's got something to do with that probability whats-its, the Potentiality Scanner.   The Doctor picked something up, another thread for that weird one, the one that keeps popping up over and over."

"The one that the scanner keeps calling '456'?" Martha asked.   Something about that name, the mere sight of that thread in the scanner, made Martha shiver.   The fact it kept resurfacing was dead weird, Tosh said, because it was not a fixed event.

"Up until now," Donna went on, "the Doctor has had his hands full with this and that, salvaging fixed events, he said.   But today, after the funerals---actually during the funerals since the Doctor didn't go---he finally searched the digital archives for the name and couldn't find a record of it.   So he went digging in the hard copy stacks downstairs.   He found something from way back in 1965, something Jack was involved in.   He came back and he was...in a rage.  Like I've never seen him.   He found an open point to point teleport  tunnel to the homeworld of whatever the '456' are---he called them the Gor-Dam-Kor or Kor-Gok-something-or-other---and shut it down.   He also sent a note of some kind, sort of a 'if you try to come back to Earth for any reason, it'll be the last thing any of you lot do' type note.   And I think Malcolm said he also sent some kind of high end EMP signal that fried every piece of tech on their world more complex than a toaster."   She shook her head, looking worried.   "Whatever they were, they must  have been something monstrous if he reacted like that."

"And Jack had something to do with them back in the '60's?"  Martha didn't believe that.  "The Doctor wouldn't say what."   

"What did Jack say?" Martha asked quietly. 


"He didn't even try to defend himself," Donna murmured.  "Just stood there looking kind of blank and said, 'I didn't have any other choice.'"


"And the Doctor said, 'There's always a choice.'  And they left it like that.   I--I still don't know what it was Jack did, but...maybe I don't want to." 


"Maybe," Martha said. 


"Have you noticed though," Donna said, taking another piece of pizza from the box between them, "he's sort of harder on the lads, if you know what I mean."


Martha blinked at her and Donna shook her head impatiently.  "Oh, that really didn't come out right, did it?  I meant the Doctor, not Jack.  Have you noticed he's more...demanding of Jack and Benton and Ross and the other lads? Less forgiving when they screw up or make a really hard choice in a tight spot where there's really no moral option.  I hope, if he ever has another family, he only has daughters." 


Martha didn't have a reply to that. Another family?   


The next morning, the Doctor came bounding into Martha's room at 6am, his face aglow with excitement. He showed no hint the ugly row with Jack Donna had described.  "Fancy a trip, Martha?"


Martha grinned began throwing a toothbrush, a torch and a change of underwear into her backpack.  Twenty minutes and a quick shower later, Martha found the Doctor, Donna and Jack in the common room.  Tosh hung on the sidelines, looking anxious and miserable at this sudden turn of events. To say the mood was tense would have been an understatement.  The Doctor handed Martha a Vortex Manipulator without comment, never taking his eyes off Jack. 


"I'll look after things while you're gone," Jack said as though the Doctor were not staring daggers at him. 


"Benton will look after things here," the Doctor told him.  "You need to go back to Cardiff, at least for a while."


"Can I..." Tosh looked like a child about to be kicked off the football team.  "Can I stay?"


The Doctor looked at her.  He smiled, but there was something horribly wrong with the smile.  "Jack's going to need your help, Tosh."


"Okay," she agreed, looking downcast.  "Well, good journey, then!" She said with forced cheerfulness. "We'll see you all again soon!" She hugged him impulsively.   The Doctor hugged her back.  And again, something was wrong.  He held onto Tosh a little too long, a little too tightly, as though he would have given anything to take her with them. 


"Goodbye, Tosh," he said softly.


The chill of worry followed Martha from 1920's England to the ugly encounter with the bodiless entity on the Diamond Planet resort where she ended up fighting off the other members of the wrecked tour bus to save the Doctor from the end result of his own curiosity until the hostess gave her life to save them all.  When it was all said and done, no one could even remember the brave woman's name. 


The trade planet Shan Shen was a welcome distraction. Drinking lightly hallucinogenic hot coco and wandering through the market stalls took her mind off the goodbye scene in Tardis HQ.  If not for the timeline-altering bug Martha had torn off Donna's back and squashed before it could do any real damage, the day would have been perfect. 


They traveled on, jumping from world to world, following the Doctor's nose for trouble.  Though by now Martha knew it wasn't just thrill seeking that lead him from one neatly averted disaster to the next.  He was doing naturally with his own innate ability to sense problems in the time line, what the Potentiality Scanner did mechanically.  This occurred to her somewhere along the line, though she could not say exactly when.  The realization was a kind of gestalt coalescence of facts she had gleaned over time.  The Time Lords, he told them once over a dinner of roast lemur, roughly a thousand years after the death of the dinosaurs, had kept watch over the Fixed Points of all timelines, never interfering unless a Fixed Point was in jeopardy, since the collapse of the Point would impair the structure of time itself.  It only occurred to Martha much later that week, as they were fighting their way though the forests of a terra-formed planet on the other side of the Milky Way, that the Doctor was now the sole protector of this one timeline.  They were not jaunting aimlessly from world to world, time to time.  He was running breathlessly from one imperiled Fixed Point to the next, shoring up holes in the dyke of time. 


She finally asked him, as they tramped across the plains of a world called Salima---which ironically, was anything but peaceful---behind the Queen's armed escort, the question that began to prey on her mind by the forth month of their trip.


"Have the Fixed Points always been so vulnerable to being broken, Doctor, or is this fallout from the Time War?"


He stared at her as though she'd just elbowed him from the controls of the Tardis and begun piloting herself.  Donna burst out laughing.  "God, she's a sharp one! Keeps you on your toes, doesn't she?"

The Doctor grinned sheepishly.  "She is that. The answer is yes and no.  The timelines weren't this wobbly before the War, but this is something more than what I've seen up 'til the last year."

"You mean, since the Master took the Tardis?" Donna asked gently.

"Yes," he said, "but the two aren't related.  At least I don't think do.   Something's coming, some threat so huge its rattling the timeline upstream as well as down.  Like the fore shocks you feel before a big earthquake.  The probability scanner can't see what it is, but it nearly melts down when I focus it on a specific point in time roughly four months from now, subjectively speaking."

"Isn't that about when the convergence between our universe and Rose's happens?"  Martha asked.

He didn't answer for a moment.  "Yes, but...I was seeing the first signs of this before Malcassario.  In other words, we were heading for this, whatever it is, when we were still part of the Prime universe."

"It's so weird to think alternate versions all three of us are right now walking across some other Salima," Donna muttered.  "I wondered if other me remembered to pack wellies.  After a month of damp feet on this wet planet I'm never going anywhere without them again!"

"Since the timelines have split," the Doctor told her, "the other versions of us are probably doing something completely different.  And remember they've still got the Tardis."

"So, this thing, whatever it is, happens about the same time as the convergence with what you call Pete's World," Martha said, "but it's not directly related.  That means...Pete's World fractured too when this universe fractured from Prime. "

The Doctor nodded.  "They fractured with us because the Tardis was half in and half out of Pete's World.  So, when we broke off from Prime, we sort of took them with us.   So, now there are two Pete's Worlds---one tied to Prime and one tied to us."

"I'm getting a headache just thinking about it," Donna  muttered.   "Look!"  She was pointing to the distant minarets of the city.  "Once we put down this coup and reinstate the Queen, I vote we go somewhere sunny, spaceman!"

The Doctor grinned back at her.  Martha subsided, realizing belatedly that Donna's seemingly inane comments had been pointed attempts to turn the conversation away from Rose and the looming convergence with Pete's World.  Martha turned her mind to the task at hand and did not question him again.

Chrysalis - Chapter Twelve

Title: Chrysalis
Character/Pairings: Rose/Ten, Rose/?
Rating: PG-13
Disclaimer: Doctor Who ain't mine.
Spoilers: For the end of Series 3.
Summary: This is serious AU territory, my favorite place to be, really.   Cannon takes a sharp turn into the wild blue yonder after Utopia.  This won't seem like a Doctor/Rose fic at first, but be patient.....
PG-13 for the moment, some language.

The Doctor was gone the next day.   He did that on a regular basis, just dropped out of sight for a day or a day or two without explanation.   Martha knew his brief disappearances and a large part of his renewed good mood were directly linked to the other new bit of tech he had finished constructing a week ago.  It had taken him longer than it would have normally with only 21st century electronics at his disposal, but he had managed to whip up four replicas of Jack's Vortex Manipulator.   There was no doubt in Martha's mind that the Doctor was going traveling in time and space once more during his absences.  

Martha concentrated on her studies and tried as best she could to let Jack teach her how to monitor the Potentiality Scanner.   It was strange how the need to focus on anything other than the thought of the Doctor out there alone made working toward her exams seem like child's play.  She remembered with stark clarity how many times she had saved his arse, how close he had come to death on several occasions even with someone to watch his back.  But---and this hurt almost as much of the thought of something happening to him---if he wanted her with him, he'd have asked.  

Two nights later, the report came of a ship over central London.   Though to be honest, it was not so much of a report as an, "Oi!  Look at that spaceship hovering over Chiswick!"   By the time Jack, Martha and Tosh arrived on the scene at the busy restaurant strip, the 'hoarde of fat baby aliens' as the Beeb was calling it, had been scooped up by their mother ship and spirited away. 

Martha stood at the police barricade like a civilian, watching life in the busy night life area quickly falling back into normal routine for a Friday night.   How quickly people had become ho-hum about alien attacks---or bus stops, in this case.   It reminded her of her mother's story's of the international law suite Francine had worked in L.A. a few years ago.   An earthquake had shaken the little West Side Italian bistro where she had been eating.  Francine had fought not to dive under the table while the other diners in her party had not even broken conversation for the event.   Humans could get used to anything.   

The Doctor had been involved in the incident up to his neck, they discovered that much.  But he did not return later than night or the next day or the next.  A week later, Martha rose on the morning of her exams, heart sick with worry but better prepared than she had dreamed  possible.   She had spent the last three days barricaded in her room rather than listen to the murmurs around HQ that perhaps the Time Lord was off again and would not be coming back for some time.  Years maybe.  According to Benton, it was nothing to have the Doctor wander off and then return a decade later as though no time had elapsed at all.  

Martha passed her exams top of her class and smiled wanly at her family's celebration, which for once had not included the floor show of a knock down drag out between her parents.   Annalise was absent, visiting family in the north, and Francine and Clive ended up crying and laughing tipsily on each other's shoulders as they looked over the family album of their children's progress through school.   Her mother was so proud Martha had already found a job with 'the government'.  Apparently, UNIT had employed her without Martha's knowledge.   She wasn't sure how she felt about getting pay for what she did with the Doctor, but Francine was so happy at the news Martha let it pass.  And when Martha finally made her way back to 1 Canary Street, the only blight on the day was suddenly erased.  The Doctor and all of HQ were waiting for her with a cake the size of a Shetland pony.  

"Congratulations!!!"   The Doctor cried, swinging her off her feet in a hug.  

"You're safe!" She said.  "I was so worried!" 

"Now, none of that, Martha Jones!" He said.  He wiped the tears trailing down her face with a fond smile. "This is a day for being happy!  I've been off traveling, but I suspect you knew that, didn't you?   I couldn't take you with me; didn't want to set you back on your exams again.  But don't worry, I wasn't alone."  He gestured to the 30-ish red-haired woman standing just behind him.   "Martha, meet my old friend Donna Noble!"

"Watch it with the word 'old', space man!" The woman said with a grin.

Martha found she liked the brash, plain-spoken woman instantly.  So did almost everyone.   In fact the only bit of tension regarding Tardis HQ's...um...vocal new arrival involved a bit of professional insecurity on Ianto's part.   Donna's whirl-wind re-org of the classified hard copy section of the old Torchwood and UNIT files earlier that day had set the young man's teeth on edge until Donna had a quiet word with him as the party wound down.   Up until that point, Martha would not have believed Donna and the word 'quiet' could be used in the same sentence.   For someone who gave the first impression of being a 'Sherman Tank' type personality, Donna was remarkably sensitive to other people's feelings.  

"We just sorted out that he's Jack's admin and I'm the Doctor's when we're in the office,"  Donna told her at some point during the party.  "I've got my territory and he has his.  End of!  Oh! And I had to promise to stop ogling Jack.  That's going to be a chore, let me tell you.  I don't mind saying, Ianto's got the better deal when it comes to ogling the 'boss!"  

Martha didn't agree, so she only smiled, glad that was sorted.   

Martha bowed out of the festivities around two, leaving those with less need for sleep to close the party down without her.   Donna was talking to Benton, telling him tales of Pompeii and a recently emancipated people called the Ood.   Donna's eyes were glowing with drink and the memory of her recent adventures.   The flush in her cheeks made her prettier than Martha had first thought.   There was something about Donna that reminded Martha of her Aunt Sharon, a sturdy woman with a big gutsy laugh who had given her entire professional life to Doctors Without Borders.  Like Aunt Sharon, Martha had the feeling Donna was the kind of woman who seemed almost plain at a glance, but attained a kind of quiet beauty as you grew to know her.  Benton seemed to agree. 

Martha trailed down the corridor, ambling toward her rooms, a low pleasant buzz of alcohol and the celebration's afterglow carrying her along.  She paused at the door to the White Room which had been the old Torchwood London's Ops Center.   There was a light on despite the late hour.   Martha could not remember when the Doctor had left the party.  She sighed.  He had seemed so happy during the party, in better spirits that he'd been since...well, since she'd known him really.  She lay one hand on the door, knowing that if she pushed it open she would see the Doctor with one hand pressed against the side of the Tardis, his head laid along side the blue box as though listening.  Listening through his telepathic link to the living ship.  Like he did every night when he thought everyone else was asleep.

Time was a strange thing.  A month ago, it had had no real meaning.  Back in time for exams, to pay rent, to sort out the fiasco of her brother’s birthday party, to another failed attempt at cobbling the broken pieces of her family back together---it was all relative to when the Doctor brought her back.  They had traveled a year in the Tardis or two days, a single chilly spring weekend.  And whether it was a year or twenty, she knew, the Doctor was never going to love her the way Martha wanted.   All the kindness, loyalty, bravery and…and any other good quality in the universe that might prove herself to the Time Lord didn’t  matter a hill of beans in the face of one truth.   The Doctor was hopelessly and completely in love with someone else.   Someone who was in mortal danger right now and would remain so for more than a decade.   All of the current members of Tardis HQ knew that the Tardis had been stolen by a mad alien and rammed through the half-healed breach in the White Room in Ops into another universe.  Only Martha and Jack knew the full tale and what it meant to the Doctor.  There were no words of comfort to offer and neither she nor Jack tried.   Rose and her family---and every other unprotected person in that parallel reality---were there and the Doctor was here.  And it would remain so for another ten months.   Which translated to ten years on Rose's side.   And there was nothing the Doctor or anyone else could do to change that fact.

She moved away from the door, her good mood deflated, meaning to leave him to it.  But a sudden, sharp sound, the report of the emergency exit slamming violently shut, brought her back.   The White Room was empty.   She ran through the Ops room, and wrenched the door open.  

"Doctor," she called softly.  

"Rose!"  She heard the Doctor call out, followed by words she couldn't make out. 

Martha paused, indecision gnawing at her.  She didn't want to intrude, but she had to make sure he was all right.   "Doctor!" She called again, louder.

"Down here," he said after a  long moment of silence.   His voice sounded so dead, hopeless.

She pushed through the stairwell door.   He was simply sitting there, his long legs curled in front of him, like a hurt child waiting on a curbside for parents who would never come to comfort him.   His face was wet, tears drying unheeded on his cheeks.  His expression was utterly blank. 

Martha sat down beside him silently and took his hand, not asking or offering any words.  After a long time he spoke.

"I tapped into Pete's World again, telepathically via the Tardis.   Rose is sort of telepathically connected to the Tardis as well---long story, that---but I was able to link up with her for just a few seconds through our mutual connection to the Tardis.  She's with him.   They were...together."

Martha felt sick just trying to imagine how the Doctor must feel.   The sorrow of knowing Rose had allowed this false Doctor into her bed was a pale distant pain beside the constant fear for her life.  Eleven years, living day to day next to a man you believed to be good and heroic, who you loved trusted with your life.  Who might turn on her at any moment like a rabid animal.    The spectre of Chan Tho's death, her murder at the hands of the man she had loved for 17 years, hung in the air, almost tangible.

That first mad night in Torchwood Towers the Doctor has spoken about the Master, giving them a brief and terrible run down on the other Time Lord’s history.   Martha had run through the old UNIT incident files and found tale after tale of mass murder and atrocity on a scale she could not believe had been kept hidden from the public.   God save the bloody Official Secrets Act, keeping the populace blind and unsuspecting of all the dangers they might have guarded against.   Or not.   A home emergency contingency kit would not have saved most of the Master's victims.    And that man, that monster, was with Rose...

"She'll be gone by the time we get to her," he said softly.

"You don't know that!" She said.  "He might not remember at all.   He might just go on being Yana 2.0 until we breach the Void."

"I don't mean he'll kill her, though that's a danger as well."   The Doctor said.  "He's amnesiac, but he's still....himself.   He's not Yana; he's the Master.  Nothing's changed about who he is, about how he is.   He's still a mad, cruel, brutal killer, even if he thinks for the moment that he's me.   It's been a little over a month, Martha.   That's ten more years to go from Rose's point of view."  He ran his hands through his hair, and sniffed, squaring his shoulders.   Martha knew the signs.  He was beginning to shut down again, pushing all he was feeling down into whatever powder keg he stored it all in.  

"Don't do that, Doctor," Martha said quietly.   "Talk to me.  Please.   You need to talk to someone."

He stared at her, his mouth a thin line, wavering between anger and denial.   "Martha Jones," he said softly.   "Brave, clever Martha.   I'm sorry."

"For what?"   She said.

"For...blaming you for not being Rose.   I'm sorry for that.   I don't often say that, but there it is.  You're very like her, you know.  So much so it was hard to even look at you sometimes.   You're not less than her, Martha.   You need to know that.   I'm just..."

"Taken," Martha finished for him.   She smiled, her eyes pricking.   "I know.   I've known for a while, I just didn't want to see it."

He didn't offer any comment, but his face spoke volumes.   They sat in somber companionable silence for a while.  Martha began to think he would not speak again, but he did.

"Love, for my people, isn't just joining bodies.   It's joining minds.   It's the same for most telepathic races.  Though, for Gallifreyans, the love link is more empathic than telepathic."

Martha thought about that.  "So, you feel what your partner is feeling, and hear a little of what they're thinking."


"That sounds beautiful," she said.  But... "Or potentially really embarrassing."

The Doctor grinned, a dim, cracked echo of his usually smile.  "That can happen too.   Mostly though, the side effects are like...you start taking on her habit of pulling at her hair when she's nervous, or she starts using a turn of phrase you typically use.   You become closer though it, more two halves of a whole.   But..." His voice hitched, then he went on, his tone dead of all feeling.  "But the Master's mad.  He's a criminal and a vicious cold-blooded killer.  And his mind is a thousand times more powerful than hers."

"Oh, my God."  Martha whispered.   Oh, Doctor....

"Even if he's not actively trying to influence her, he'll change her just by being inside her mind night after night.   She'll start seeing the world through the filter of his ideas, his wants and needs.  In ten years...By that time, Martha, she'll just be an extension of him.  There'll be nothing left of her."  He blinked, a single tear rolling unheeded down his face.   He turned to face Martha, shaking his head slowly.  "I never told her, Martha.   I never said the words.  And now she's...now..."

"You don't know that," she said fiercely.  She reached out again and took his hands firmly in hers.  "This is your Rose, Doctor.   I heard you and Jack talking on Malcassario.  This is the girl who took the whole of the Time Vortex into her mind and body because she willed that you would not die.  The is the girl who willed Jack back to life and the Daleks turned to dust."

"I took that power out of her---"

"Maybe, but do you really think that didn't change her?  And even if it didn't, Doctor, think about the strength of will it took to do it in the first place.   I think you're giving her too little credit!"

He didn't respond for a long time.   Then he squeezed her hand back, a hard grip, like a man holding onto hope itself.   "Martha, you are amazing! Have I told you that?

Her heart was breaking, the last kernel of hope for the love she had known from the word go would never be returned dying inside her.   He was not hers, not in the way she wanted.  And he never would be.  Like Eponine, singing the lesser third of the love trio.   Not for me, not for me... 

But his hand was warm in hers, his eyes bright again with renewed hope.  Hope Martha had given him.   And if he didn't love her the way she wanted, it sure as hell didn't mean he didn't love her at all.  And until she sorted her own feelings out enough to move on, that would have to be enough.

He smiled and her heart turned over in her chest at the sight.   "Martha Jones," he said.  "Now that you're exams are over, would you fancy a trip off world?"

Martha smiled back.   "Always," she said.

Chrysalis - Chapter Eleven

Title: Chrysalis
Character/Pairings: Rose/Ten, Rose/?
Rating: PG-13
Disclaimer: Doctor Who ain't mine.
Spoilers: For the end of Series 3.
Summary: This is serious AU territory, my favorite place to be, really.   Cannon takes a sharp turn into the wild blue yonder after Utopia.  This won't seem like a Doctor/Rose fic at first, but be patient.....
PG-13 for the moment, some language.

AUTHOR'S NOTE:   Long time no write, I know.  Sorry to have taken so long that it seemed I'd abandoned this fic.  I haven't, but real life is a busy thing with long hours these days.  Also, I'm posting chapters 11 through 16 in one go because I wrote them all as a single very long chapter.  This made it easier to keep cohesion if I didn't post it piecemeal.  Anyway, hope you enjoy.  The next bits will arrive soon-ish.  I'm hoping to get a lot of writing done over the holidays.  
Happy Christmas to all!

It took the powers that be about two weeks to realize that the former HQ of Torchwood London was once more occupied.   It took them another two days to suss out that the Doctor, so the speak, was in. 

A day later, a cadre of men in uniform showed up on the doorstep, demanding to see the Time Lord.   The Doctor turned them away, sending a curt message by way of Jack's Torchwood admin Ianto, who had taken up a post in the main lobby of Torchwood Towers a day after Jack called his team to London.   "Nice to see you're concerned, however, the world is almost but not quite ending.  Too busy to talk right now, come back later," was all the Doctor said. 

They waited a week before sending a single man, a semi-retired colonel in his late 50's, to talk to the Doctor one on one.   "Tell him John Benton is here to see him," he told Ianto politely.

The Doctor abandoned his work on the broken vortex manipulator Jack had hauled up from Wales and ran down the twenty odd stairs like a boy.   A smile, the first real smile Martha could remember seeing on the time Lord's face in a long time, lit up the Doctor's face like Christmas day when he saw the man.    The two of them stayed up talking---and drinking much to Martha's surprise---most of the night.   Martha and Jack sat quietly listening to them rehash old adventures and near misses.   Jack's face had a wistful smile on it, one Martha could not quite interpret until it occurred to her that Jack had been on Earth, as close as Wales, in fact, during the Doctor's tenure with UNIT.   And had been forced to keep away for fear of corrupting the Doctor's upstream timeline.   He must have ached to join them, knowing the man he loved to the point of idolization was so near.  

"Must have been hard to stay away," Martha commented aloud as Jack walked with her to her quarters, half past midnight.   Her companion's handsome face flickered from pensive to startled.   "You were here, weren't you?   You told us you've been based in Cardiff since the 1900's, right?"

"Yeah, well," Jack said.  They stopped at the door of the rooms she had been using as her living space.  There were quite a few fully furnished flats strewn throughout the building.  According to Ianto, Torchwood One had taken the adage 'my job is my life' a little too seriously.  "Walk you in, ma'am?" He asked too casually, veering away from the subject of his feelings.   So like the Doctor in that respect.

Martha smiled.  "Not tonight."

Jack gave her a smile that made her heart flutter.  Bastard that he was, Martha knew, he was fully aware of how devastating the effect of the full force of that smile could be.   "I'd like to kiss you, Martha Jones.   Actually, I'd like to do a great deal more than that.   Are you actually not attracted in me---"  He said this as though her were asking her if she believed the Earth was flat----"or are you playing hard to get?"

"Neither," Martha said, keeping her eyes on his, not letting her gaze slip treacherously to that oh-so-kissable mouth.   "I'm just..." She thought of a dozen things to say, pretty lies, then decided on the truth.  Her mother always said honesty, even brutal honesty, hurts less than the eventual backlash letting a lie stand.   Martha's version of blunt wasn't quite of hard-edged as Francine Jones', but she didn't believe in lying either.   "I've not had a boyfriend in---" Maybe not that honest, Martha thought; telling a gorgeous rake that she had not had sex in over a year was not a good plan.  "---a while.   But, I'm head over heels in love with the Doctor.  And...so are you.   I don't want to go to bed with you knowing we're both wishing we were with someone else.   The same someone, in fact."

Jack was silent a moment, his blue eyes hooded.   "You're a stright shooter.   I think I like you even more now.  And this is coming from a guy who doesn't hear 'no' very often."  He leaned forward and kissed her cheek, an affectionate, brotherly kiss.

And that was that.   

A few days later Martha saw Ianto emerge from Jack's quarters looking rumpled and happily shagged.   Martha had smiled, though a little catch of doubt lodged in her chest.  She liked Ianto and she gathered from the talk she heard from the other Torchwood staff that Jack and Ianto’s involvement was something that had been going on for a while now.  Cultural mores regarding fidelity differed from age to age, Martha knew that.  But Ianto was not from Jack’s time and Jack knew that.  The younger man was a year or two older than Martha, but there was a wounded fragility to him, something terrible and painful in his not-so-distant past, that made her feel very protective of him.   She hoped to God Jack would be careful with the young man's heart. 

Benton's visit unthawed the Doctor considerably toward UNIT.   He began to allow ten soldiers and technical personnel at a time into 'Tardis HQ' as it came to be known---no one was taking credit for that nick-name, though Martha suspected Jack.   They would stay a few days; long enough for something to happen, some emergency or invasion or alien crash-landing to transpire.   Then the Doctor would send them packing, sometimes picking one or two to stay, sometimes sending the whole batch on its way.   Little by little, over the course of that first month, the Doctor built up a 'team' of earthbound soldiers, techs and scientists based on how they responded in the thick of it.   Bravery would not cut it, nor would skill or brilliance or eager hard work. Martha did not have the right words for the quality the Doctor was seeking until she realized that pretty much everyone who had been asked to stay---from the 19-year-old private Ross to the odd but sweetly genius Malcolm Taylor---had become her friend instantly.  

“It’s decency,” Jack said one evening in the old Torchwood Towers common room around a mouth full of take away pizza. “That’s what he’s looking for in them.  He's picking them as though he were taking companions in the Tardis."  He nodded at the little show going on across the room. 

Captain Pierce was laughing like a young girl as a pair tiny furry 'sqart-fazzles' from a planet called Artri Prime crawled up her arm and became embroiled in a rowdy game of hide-and-seek in her blond hair.     The sqart-fazzles---Jack was still accusing the Doctor of having made the name up on the spot----had been Pierce's ticket of admission into Tardis HQ.   She had approached their ship, drawn gun in hand.  Instead of firing as the panicked occupants leapt out or the ship and onto her, she had dropped her weapon and caught them as though they were baby birds falling from a nest.   The very fact that the captain had abandoned her training and gone with the gut instinct that told her not to shoot had won her the right to stay.   

Not all of the people the Doctor had chosen were UNIT personnel. There was, for instance, a boy of fifteen or so who visited once a week, bringing a set of spacial and temporal graphs and figure from someone called 'Mr. Smith'.   Jack said the report looked like a potentiality scan.

"What's that?"  Tosh, Jack's lead technician, asked eagerly.   Martha found she liked the small pretty woman a great deal, though she seemed to run on nervous energy and caffeine about 90% of the time.   Tosh was working with the Doctor on the kind of temporal quantum mathematics  no one but she, Malcolm and the Doctor would follow, setting up alarms to alert the Time Lord of any change in the Tardis' status as 'void plug', and working on new ways to bug the ship from the outside.  This sort of work, the exposure to the knowledge the Doctor was providing her, made her like a kid in a candy store.  Hyped up on sugar and desperate to eat as much as possible before someone snatched it all away forever. 

"It's....like he's looking for trouble," Jack said. 

 "He finds that on his own well enough,"  Martha said with a smile.

"I mean he's looking for trouble spots in time and space," Jack said.  "He’s got a powerful innate Time Lord ability to sense hot spots around the Touchstones as it is---I mean, come on, you don't think he just randomly stumbles across trouble at every turn by chance, do you?  Even Torchwood Cardiff doesn't run across eight severity one crises in the space of a month like we have in the last four weeks.  But a probability scan would show them with a lot more precision than an organic time sensitive, even one like the Doctor, could detect."

"What are Touchstones?"  Tosh asked.

"Touchstones, as Jack called them," the Doctor said brightly, sitting down on Jack's right, grabbing a slice of sausage pizza big enough to choke a horse's arteries, "are what my people called  Fixed Points.  Though, come to think of it, Touchstone is a better descriptor.  There was a time, Tosh, when my people were still around, when you could stand outside of the causality of the natural universe and watch history unfold from a single point.  Watch it unfold in a thousand different ways depending on the smallest events.   Winston Churchill's mother, for instance, goes to market and stops to admire the flowers someone is selling.   She goes home and on with her life as normal.   Or she doesn't stop and is hit by a hansom cab and killed.  Winston never lives and the history of Earth of utterly different.  And far darker."

"You're saying each choice we make creates a---a new reality?"  Malcolm asked.  He had drifted over and was eyeing the Doctor with a look of avid hero worship more at home on the face of a 13-year-old than a fifty-year-old Nobel Prize winner.

"Yes!"  The Doctor beamed at him.  "Believe it or not, Winston's life and destiny are not fixed points in time.   But they are all around us, too numerous to name.  Most of them are the most inconsequential-seeming occurrences you can imagine.   But they are the bearing walls of a time line.   Collapse one, and  that time line and every living thing dwelling within that stream, ceases to be.'

The silence at the little table was profound.

Martha felt cold.  "When we arrived from Malcassario you were ill, you said you felt the world shift around you---or time changing around you.   Is that what happened?   Did a whole reality just....dissipate when the Master took the Tardis through the Void?"

"When the Master took the Tardis through the Void---something he was apparently never meant to do---he shattered several dozen Fixed Points in that single act," the Doctor told them.  "Further down the timestream that number increases exponentially.  He did not collapse our original time line.  Though until about a week ago, I wasn't sure.   Mr.  Smith, a very bright sentient computer from Ealing, has just sent a wealth of information about, well, the general state of reality.  Or this reality. "

"Okay,"  Jack said, sounded relieved as he was confused.  "So....did you say this reality?"

"Yep!"  The Doctor said.  "The Master didn't collapse or destroy our time line, but he did fracture it.   Which is something I didn't think was possible until now.  When Gallifrey was still around, the Eye of Harmony allowed Time Lords to exist outside of causal splits.  We could view all possible time lines, all possible universes, from Gallifrey.   In a Tardis, you could jump from one reality to another as easily as jumping from the Earth to the Moon.   See one world where Elizabeth I reigned long and prosperously and another where her brother Henry lived a long life and Liz was never more than a princess.   Before the War..."   He trailed off,  the life running our of his voice.  "Before the War, I remember seeing---and stopping---the first Dalek invasion of Earth in three separate timelines, all on different dates.  But afterward---and I'm thick for not having realized this before---I was trapped in the universe that Gallifrey long ago designated Prime, because that timeline had the best chance of not being wiped out by intergalactic war or disaster and enduring until the natural entropy of univesral collapse, roughly three hundred trillion years from now.  And the only thing, up until a a few weeks ago, that held true from before the destruction of Gallifrey, is that there was still only one of me.  In all possible worlds in all possible realities, only one Doctor.   That's no longer true.  We are no longer Prime.   This is an alternate reality where the Master took the Tardis through the Void instead of setting up shop in London and laying a trap for me in his old, repetitive, predictable style."

"Wow," Tosh said eloquently.

"Yes, wow," the Doctor said.  He grinned at her.   "The good news is the quantum work you've been doing for me, Tosh, is going to give us a head's up on every bad thing about to cross our collective paths.   This reality is brand spanking new, but the echos of major events to come are still sort of lingering in the temporal nexus of this time stream.   We can watch the patterns forming and head them off in ways we’d have never managed if we were still Prime.  For a while, anyway.  Once we deviate sufficiently from Prime, all bets are off and our future and that of our parent reality will be completely severed.”   He lay a small device on the table.  It looked for all the world like a laptop, except for the low power-laden hum emitting from its base.   “Jack, you know how to read potentialities from your time in the Time Agency, at least better than anyone else here.  I want you to help Malcolm and Tosh learn to read the base line events and Fixed Points and watch for events that might impact the’ Touchstones’ as you call them.”  He grinned at the little group of stunned humans, oblivious to their shocked silence.   “Well, I’m off! Don’t wait up for me!”

He left without another word, more spring in his step than Martha remembered seeing since they returned from Macassario.   Tosh was already virtually elbowing Jack aside to get a better look at the scanner.   Martha watched the Doctor go, wondering how long he would be gone this time.   She barely heard Tosh’s little squeal of delight. 

“Oh, my God, it’s found one already!”   She said.  “Oh, no, wait.   Look!   Jack, is this one Fixed or In Flux, I can’t tell?  It’s linked to this event back in 1965.   What the hell does ‘456’ mean?” 

Martha glanced away from the Doctor's retreating back in time to see something bleak and shadowed in Jack's eyes.  An instant later, the erstwhile Time Agent's face had smoothed into his habitual charming smile and he began explaining the ins and outs of the device to Tosh.  Martha wandered back to her room, leaving them to it.

Chrysalis - Chapter Ten

Title: Chrysalis
Character/Pairings: Rose/Ten, Rose/?
Rating: PG-13
Disclaimer: Doctor Who ain't mine.
Spoilers: For the end of Series 3.
Summary: This is serious AU territory, my favorite place to be, really.   Cannon takes a sharp turn into the wild blue yonder after Utopia.  This won't seem like a Doctor/Rose fic at first, but be patient.....
PG-13 for the moment, some language.


Chapter TenCollapse )

Chrysalis - Chapter Nine

Title: Chrysalis
Character/Pairings: Rose/Ten, Rose/?
Rating: PG-13
Disclaimer: Doctor Who ain't mine.
Spoilers: For the end of Series 3.
Summary: This is serious AU territory, my favorite place to be, really.   Cannon takes a sharp turn into the wild blue yonder after Utopia.  This won't seem like a Doctor/Rose fic at first, but be patient.....
PG-13 for the moment, some language.

Chapter NineCollapse )



Chrysalis Chapter Eight

Title: Chrysalis
Character/Pairings: Rose/Ten, Rose/?
Rating: PG-13
Disclaimer: Doctor Who ain't mine.
Spoilers: For the end of Series 3.
Summary: This is serious AU territory, my favorite place to be, really.   Cannon takes a sharp turn into the wild blue yonder after Utopia.  This won't seem like a Doctor/Rose fic at first, but be patient.....
PG-13 for the moment, some language.


Chapter EightCollapse )



Chrysalis - Chapter Seven

Title: Chrysalis
Character/Pairings: Rose/Ten, Rose/?
Rating: PG-13
Disclaimer: Doctor Who ain't mine.
Spoilers: For the end of Series 3.
Summary: This is serious AU territory, my favorite place to be, really.   Cannon takes a sharp turn into the wild blue yonder after Utopia.  This won't seem like a Doctor/Rose fic at first, but be patient.....
PG-13 for the moment, some language.

Chapter SevenCollapse )