Disclaimer- I own nothing you recognise and everything you don't.
Summary- Rose arrives to see Nine and Ten, which will she chose?
A/n- Sequel to the Darkness Within. With thanks to all who reviewed and my beta reader Gargantua.
WARNING- This was written last season while I was watching Journey's End and beyond. Anyone who is a big fan of Ten should proably be aware that the next few chapters are not going to be very nice to him. Serves him right for leaving her on the beach....again.
Travelling from Torchwood’s not-exactly-state-of-the-art medical facility to the insides of someone’s subconscious took some getting used to. The bright lights of the Hub were immediately dimmed into darkness and Rose wondered for a moment if she’d just gone blind. The equipment that Owen had hooked her up to hadn’t exactly filled her with confidence; it looked more like a medieval torture device than a futuristic adaptation of a virtual reality machine.
The sensation of travelling from one plane to the other also wasn’t something that she would recommend. Rose Tyler stood in the darkness trying to will her small breakfast to stay in place and not redecorate the Doctor’s brain with scrambled egg.
It was while she was attempting to control her amazing gastric pyrotechnics that she heard the low grunts and muted thumps of flesh on flesh that always signified a fist fight.
She stood upright with a frown and made her way towards the noise in the time honoured way of meddlers and adventurers everywhere.
What she saw made her stop in amazement.
Her two Doctors were in a small round dark room. And, if her vision could be believed, they were actively trying to kill each other.
Her first Doctor, the man with big ears and a masochistic side to match his leather jacket, lay on the floor one arm reaching up to fend off her other Doctor, a man in pin-striped—very bedraggled—suit and tie, his converse planted very firmly in the other man’s stomach.
As she watched, open-mouthed in horror, the man in leather grabbed hold of the loose tie of his future self and brought his head down sharply, head-butting the latest model and sending him staggering back.
It was obvious to even the most untrained eye that the two men had been fighting for some time; their clothes were torn and blood trailed from the numerous cuts and bruises littering their bodies. Their punches were weak and seemed to take far more energy than would normally have been required. In fact their whole demeanour bespoke tiredness and the very end of their strength.
Rose wondered exactly how long they had been at this and, more importantly, why they suddenly found the need to check what colour each other’s insides were.
As she watched, her first Doctor swept his foot around and caught the other man’s knees, knocking him to the floor with a hard slap.
“Stop it!” She screamed and both heads whipped around to her before they faced each other with intense hatred.
“This your revenge?” her first Doctor spat, kicking his pin-striped self in the ribs.
Clutching his chest and gasping, the other man frowned. “No, I thought this was one of yours.”
Their childish behaviour seemed to channel her inner Jackie and Rose stormed forwards. “I have no idea what you’re talking about,” she shouted, hands on hips and head swimming. “But if you don’t knock it off, I’m gonna join in.”
The two men seemed to regard her with confusion and then dawning realisation.
“Rose!” breathed her current Doctor wonderment in his voice.
“Yeah.” She snapped. “Wanna tell me what the hell is going on?”
He shakily got to his feet and stumbled over to her, hand firmly clasped to his aching side. He reached up and placed a trembling hand on her cheek.
“Rose,” he said again, so softly. “Is it really you?”
She frowned at his hesitant yet tender manner. “Were you expecting someone else?”
“You passed out which, thanks for scaring ten years off me, yeah. Anyway Tosh said that there was too much brain activity and Jack had this telepathic disrupter…thing which allowed me to come inside your head with you.”
“My clever little ape,” murmured the man in leather from the floor.
Rose was about to reply to that when her second Doctor suddenly wrapped his arms around her in a hug so strong she could hardly breathe.
“Whoa, what’s this in aid of?” she half-laughed. “It’s not like you didn’t see me, like, an hour ago.”
“I’ve not,” he whispered into her hair. “I’ve not seen you for months.”
Rose pushed away slightly. “Does time pass differently in your head?” She paused. “I think that’s possibly one of the weirdest things I’ve ever said.”
The Doctor beamed proudly at her logical reasoning but it faded quickly. “No Rose, I’ve not seen you since Bad Wolf Bay.”
“Don’t be daft,” she protested. “What about the Tower of London and Deva Loka and all that. You’re saying that wasn’t you?”
His eyes were serious. “No.”
It took Rose a moment to figure that out. She had just spent months with the Doctor, but if it wasn’t this Doctor then…
“Then who—” Her eyes drifted past him to land on her first Doctor who stood slightly to one side, a look of defiant shame on his face.
The leather jacket, brushed with dust and ragged around the edges caught her eye. The Doctor had gone back to wearing his old clothes. He’d spoken with a northern accent and he’d been more… less like himself and more like the man he’d used to be.
Was it possible? Had the new Doctor been replaced by his older self?
Suddenly so many things made sense and Rose couldn’t believe that she hadn’t seen it before, couldn’t believe that she’d allowed herself to brush her suspicions aside.
“You?” she said quietly to her first Doctor.
“I told you my regeneration went a bit…wrong,” the man in pin-stripes interjected before his other self could speak. “I thought that it was something to do with swallowing the whole Time Vortex but it wasn’t. Something was holding on, trying to drag me back. It was him.”
Rose’s eyes hadn’t left the other man but she heard every single word.
“A piece of him clung on to life and stayed inside my head, waiting. When I lost you…” he swallowed hard, hand stroking her hair, “…he took over and kept me locked inside my own head. I’ve been trapped this whole time, Rose. Trapped and unable to get to you.”
He had an edge to his voice that Rose hadn’t heard in a while, both petulant and coaxing, like when he wanted her to make her mind up about something and she was taking too long. But Rose didn’t really know what to think right now, much less try to fathom what the Doctor wanted her to think
Rose stared hard at the ninth incarnation, the first man she had ever really loved. “Is that true?”
He lifted his head. “Yes.”
“Why?” Rose all but whispered.
“For you,” his voice was quiet but sure. “I stuck around inside pretty boy’s head because I needed to be sure that he was taking care of you. He wasn’t and when he let you get trapped on that other world, I knew I needed to do something. He wasn’t even going to try to get you back, Rose.”
“I WAS!” exploded the Doctor. “You didn’t give me a chance to find some way.”
The man with blue eyes scoffed. “Oh, yeah. When was that then? When Rose made her own way back? When you asked UNIT to build you a ruddy dimension canon? Or How about when you’d finished putting red-heads back at their weddings and slaughtering baby spiders?”
Rose put her hand up. “Confused.”
“I had a…minor incident with a Racnoss which sort of tied me up a bit,” her Doctor said sheepishly, scratching the back of his head. “Just a bit, I mean when a red-headed temper tantrum just orbs into the TARDIS and say’s you’ve kidnapped her, your priorities do get a bit skewed, which reminds me. Do grooms usually try to get the bride eaten before the honeymoon or was that just Donna? And what is the latest new flavour of Pringle?”
The Doctor in leather rubbed his eyes and sighed. “See what I’ve had to put up with, Rose? Some pretty idiot with ADHD trying to be me.”
The tenth Doctor shrugged sheepishly.
“But I don’t get it,” Rose said to the ninth Doctor. “All this time, you’ve been him. Why didn’t you say anything?”
The taciturn man stuck his hands in his pockets and looked away. But Rose was thinking back to some of the things he had said and put two and two together.
“You kept going on about your ears and stupid stuff,” she blinked in realisation, “you thought I didn’t fancy you. This you.”
“Who would?” he said bitterly gesturing to his face, “I wasn’t generated to be attractive, Rose. I was made to make decisions that no one else would or could. No matter the conclusion. I was a destroyer of worlds, a genocidal maniac. Who would love me?”
“I did,” she looked him dead in the eye. “It didn’t matter to me what you looked like. Not once.”
“I know that. Now,” he conceded.
“And what about you, Doctor?” Rose asked the man she thought she’d been travelling with.
“What?” he hedged.
“What?” Rose sighed, exasperated at his procrastination and general avoidance. “What did you have for breakfast, idiot! I meant what do I mean to you? What were you gonna say on
“I don’t know,” he replied quietly. “I believed it was impossible to get to you. Or I would have tried, Rose, believe me. But the last thing I wanted was to get my hopes up.” He breathed deeply. “Saying goodbye to you almost killed me and I didn’t think I could handle it if I failed. That should say what you mean to me.”
Even after all of this he couldn’t say it and Rose closed her eyes against the hurt.
She knew he felt it, it was obvious. But why couldn’t he form the damn words?
He wouldn’t have said it unless he was certain he would never see her again which meant that he wasn’t going to try no matter his protestations to the contrary.
Now that she was in his life would he try to get them back to the way they had been? Friends and flirting but no more. Could she handle that now that she knew?
Was this all there would ever be between the two of them?
The other Doctor came over and pushed him out of the way. “Rose?”
“Yeah?” she looked up into his intense blue eyes.
“I love you.”
Rose blinked. That was unexpected.
He grinned, that cheeky smile lighting up his harsh features. “You, my daft little ape. I love you. I didn’t get to say it in my body and he won’t say it in his. I love your badly dyed roots and clumpy mascara. I love your freckles and daytime soaps and the way you cry over Bambi. I love your optimism and the way you always wander off. I even love your stupid hoodies and off key singing.” He paused. “I don’t love your mum though.”
Rose burst out laughing even through her sobs and reached over to hug him tightly.
“Ouch!” he hissed and Rose stepped back to see him clutching one of the many injuries he and himself had inflicted on each other.
She turned her head and saw that both Doctor’s could hardly stand and there was no way that they could go another bout with each other. They had to find some way of solving this.
And by the abhorrence they shared it didn’t look like there was going to be a peaceful outcome here.
“So what happens now?” Rose asked him sincerely, her eyes flitting from one man to the other. “Tosh said that there was too much conflicting brain wave…things. That means that this can’t carry on, doesn’t it?”
“It’s impossible,” the man in pin-stripes said and then winced at his own words.
Rose licked her lips. “So then what?”
“It’s against the natural order of things,” the Doctor explained, scratching the back of his head. “There can’t be two of us existing in one reality; it’s a paradox for starters.”
“And paradoxes are bad,” Rose nodded. “World goes bang.”
“Makes a hole in the universe the size of
“The point is,” the tenth Doctor glared at him, “that we both can’t exist in one body. It burns up too much energy and it’s just…wrong.”
“Wrong like Jack?” sneered the leather-clad man maliciously.
“Shut up,” bit out his alter-ego. “Can we deal with one universal anomaly at a time, please?”
“One of us has to go,” wrapped up the ninth Doctor succinctly.
“This body ain’t big enough for the both of us,” agreed the tenth with a hint of western accent.
“Don’t do that,” Rose said with some distress at his attempted levity. “Just…don’t.”
“Right.” The amusement fell from his brown eyes.
“Who stays and who goes?” she asked hesitantly.
“We don’t know,” he sagged. “He was here first but his time is gone. Mine only just started but he is stronger,” off his counterparts’ smug smirk he added, “for now.”
“But if you keep fighting,” Rose said sadly, “you’ll both die.”
“Then maybe it’s time.” The ninth incarnation had gleaming eyes, full of anger and loathing. “I won’t let him go back with you, Rose. He doesn’t deserve you. After everything I gave up to be with you… I’m not letting you go without a fight.”
“But you don’t belong here!” the pin-striped man exploded. “Your time is gone, you’re holding to something that can’t be. You’re not supposed to be here!”
“If I wasn’t here then Rose would still be trapped on the other world!”
The Doctor gritted his teeth. “And she’d be safe.”
“Safe?” Rose interjected tersely. “From what?”
“Him!” the tenth Doctor raked his hand through his hair. “As he watched, I watched too, Rose. I could see that you were scared of him. He killed those men in the
Rose blinked. “There are ways to do that? But you said—”
“Oh, there are. But not ways that I would ever use, Rose. Dark ways, ways that would have you twisted and black and nothing like yourself. These ways would warp your essence, destroy your soul until you’re full of hate and anger and…just like him!”
He pointed his finger at his amused-looking younger self.
“Oh, ignore him, Rose. He’s just sore because he can’t tell you how he feels.”
“Oh no?” The man in pin-stripes turned to Rose urgently. “I never thought you needed to hear the words, Rose. It never needed to be said for me. But if you need to hear them then I will tell you that, yes I love you. “
Rose’s heart beat hard in her chest and she swallowed. “Yeah?”
His eyes softened. “Yes.” He leaned down and pressed a gentle kiss against her lips.
He was torn savagely away from her by the ninth Doctor, his hands clenched into fists and mouth hard. “Stay away from her!”
“You see!” the Doctor yelled triumphantly. “Even himself! He won’t let me touch you.”
“Did you kiss me to prove a point?” Rose asked in hurt disgust.
“No,” he said with that uncomfortable edge which meant that the answer was probably closer to yes. Her palm itched to slap him.
Rose glowered. “You’re such a—”
“Which is not the point,” he interrupted hastily. “It doesn’t make it any less true. He’s insane.”
“And he’s a prat,” the ninth Doctor folded his arms. “So, which one stays and which one goes?”
Rose shook her head desolately. “Are you really asking me to choose which one dies? I can’t do that.”
“Pick your favourite,” he grinned widely. “The one who kisses you to prove a point or the one that would shatter universe to get to you. It’s not brain science, Rose.”
“But it is, though,” anger and sadness warred in her expression. “Yeah, I’ve missed you. But I love you both. I thought it was the same person. You said you were the same person. I got that in my head. One and the same, yeah.”
“But we’re not, now.” the ninth man said gently.
“You were my first Doctor, you took my hand and showed me the stars,” a soft smile drifted over Rose’s face. “We ran from Daleks and you gave me my dad back. You yelled at me and made me toughen up.” She turned to the other man. “But we ran from werewolves and pieces of skin. You gave Mickey a purpose and you broke my heart. I can’t choose. He’s my Doctor every bit as much as you. He babbles and you grumble. Suits and jumpers. Blue eyes, brown eyes. None of it matters cuz you’re still the same! Can’t you…I dunno join together, become one or something?”
They gave each other a sidelong look and then back to her with obvious scepticism.
Rose shook her head in despair and then straightened. “I won’t do it.”
“No.” Her back was straight and her voice was firm. “I won’t. Cuz whatever the outcome I’d know that I killed my Doctor and I can’t do that. So I’m gonna make you choose. Because I know my Doctor and whether he wears a suit and talks crap at a million miles per hour or whether he wears leather and dances with me around the console, there always one thing that he does.”
Rose regarded them both sadly. “My Doctor always does the right thing, no matter how hard it is.”
She took a deep breath. “So that’s it. You make the decision yourself. Whoever it is that comes out of this… I’ll be waiting. Just know that I can’t choose because I love you both.”
Taking one last look at the two men who held her heart in their hands she turned and walked away, going back down that dark path that led to the Torchwood medical bay.
The two men stood in silence as she left and then turned to face each other.