Disclaimer- I own nothing you recognise and everything you don't.
Thanks to all who reviewed and my beta reader Gargantua.
Summary- The Doctor finally wakes up, but which came back?
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.
To all who have specified which Doctor they would like to remain-- please trust me there is still one more Chapter to go.
Rose hurtled along the small corridor and down the stone stairs like her life depended on it and made it to the medical bay only slightly ahead of Jack and Toshiko. She paused at the top of the med-bay stairs and peered hesitantly over the balcony at the figure lying prone on the table below.
She heard the footsteps of the others coming up behind and yet couldn’t tear her eyes away from the man who didn’t look any different from how she had seen him last.
But then she noted the slight rise and fall of his chest and the way his eyes flickered in the cool air of the room and she caught her breath. She moved down the stairs like she was in a trance, ignoring Owen who was standing by monitoring the Doctor’s vitals.
Despite Owen’s presence she knew that Jack and the others wouldn’t venture down the stairs to interrupt her until she had her chance to speak with the Doctor and find out exactly who had come back. She wasn’t sure whether she was glad for their sensitivity or she wished them there for their support but it was too late to worry about things like that now.
With trepidation she waited patiently for any sign that the man she loved was awake.
“Doctor?” she whispered.
His eyes snapped open and she stared deeply into them.
Rose caught her breath and bit down on her bottom lip. “Hey.”
He didn’t seem to hear her, just stared up into the space above her, not saying a word.
Rose gave a quick glance up towards Jack’s curious expression and then back down at the Doctor, who was now facing her directly.
She gave a tremulous smile. “Hi, Doctor. H-how are you feeling?”
Rose didn’t know what to do. Was he in a catatonic state? Could he even hear her? Or understand her? Maybe the ninth incarnation had his wish and he had stopped them both from coming back to her. The thoughts and concerns raced around her head until she thought her brain might explode.
“Doctor!” she suddenly snapped.
He blinked again and then yawned widely. He sprung up from his place on the table like a jack-in-the-box.
“Rose!” he yelled in delight making her jump with his sudden ebullience. “I’m back, I’m here. We did it!” He leaped off the table and wrapped his arms around her. “Molto Bene! All done and dusted. Dusty and done.”
“It worked?” Jack asked, jumping down the steps two at a time.
The Doctor held Rose away from him. “Jack! Jackedy-Jack Jack. Good old Captain Jack. And when I say old.” He beamed broadly and engulfed Jack’s hand in both of his. “Heard about the death thing. Sorry. Regeneration sort of put you out of my mind a bit. By the time I remembered you, you were integral to catalogued events and couldn’t be moved. Should’ve come back and said something but well…” he pointed to his head. “Back seat driver.”
“Right,” Jack gave a lop-sided grin.
“No, really. Back seat driver, you should have heard him,” the Doctor shook his head. “Nag. Nag, nag, worse than Rose’s mother. Which reminds me,” he swung around to look at Rose. “Shaun? Really? Rose and Shaun?” He shuddered. “Always said Jackie had bad taste. Oh, hello.”
The Doctor looked up the stairs to the other four members of the group. “I’m the Doctor…the real Doctor. Gwen, Owen, Ianto and Toshiko, right?”
They nodded, amused and not just a little baffled by the turn of events.
“Team Torchwood,” he beamed brightly and then glowered quickly at Jack. “That Rift manipulator needs destroying. You know that no one should harness that amount of power. It was only sheer luck that you didn’t destroy both universes with that little stunt.”
“The little stunt that got Rose back?” Jack said with one eye-brow raised.
“Well,” the Doctor scratched the back of his neck and sniffed sheepishly. “I’ll let you have that one. Although not knowing that I wasn’t me does take you down a few points, Captain. Doesn’t every Time Agent get training in possession and altered psyches? Tut tut, Captain. I’d punish you for that.”
“I have a stop-watch,” said Ianto without thinking and blushed as six sets of eyes landed on him.
“Right!” the Doctor bounced on his heels and grinned.
“Excuse me,” Owen whined. “But what just happened?”
“It was your basic energy transference and dual disposition dichotomy,” Toshiko explained in awe. “Manifestations of previous incarnations with eristical ideology simultaneously wishing to occupy the same domain. Duelling factions couldn’t possibly exist within the same sphere so one had to be eradicated. The duelling incarnations either had to amalgamate, disseminate or triumph. Elementary science.”
“That’s it!” the Doctor agreed in delight. “Duelling dual disposition dichotomy.”
There was a moment’s silence.
Owen sighed. “Do I have to start making tea before someone makes sense?”
“Please don’t,” Ianto added. “You don’t know where everything goes.”
“Two personalities. One brain. Not enough room for both. They either had to mix, match or murder,” Toshiko dumbed down for them.
“Why didn’t you say that in the first place?” asked an irritated, but illuminated Owen.
Tosh was indignant. “I did!”
“See, this is why you don’t get dates.” He shot back.
“People!” Jack’s voice was authoritative and they calmed back down. “So, Doc. What now?”
“Well, first things first,” he plucked at his sleeve. “I need to change.”
“Again?” Gwen blushed at her outburst. “Oh, gotcha.”
“Then we’ll see what we can do about you, Jackie-boy and then me and Rose need to have a long talk. Isn’t that right, Rose? Rose?”
He turned around but Rose was no longer there.
Rose lay on her bed, trying hard not to think about what had just happened. She had accepted the hug from the Doctor in shell-shock but it got too much for her when he started to denigrate his former self.
She retreated back to the TARDIS even while he was congratulating himself on having escaped from the evil clutches of…
“I’ve got you back but you need some time to make sure that this is what you want and you aren’t just wanting a memory.” He swallowed. “The last thing I want between us, Rose, is regrets.”
In fact he was acting like this was just another one of their adventures, talking a million miles an hour, asking about her brother’s name for god’s sake, but never actually saying anything.
“I never said the words, but you know I do…right?”
Her heart melted. “Yeah, I do know. Don’t need words.”
“Tough,” he breathed deeply. “Because you’re going to get ‘em. Rose Tyler…I love you. I love you, my stupid little ape. Despite the fact that you always wander off, you never stay put and you risk your life for me again and again.”
Not this time.
She hadn’t made a choice. This time she had just let him go and she didn’t even get to say goodbye.
Rose closed her eyes against the ache that was starting in her chest.
It had taken her so long to get comfortable with the fact that the man she loved had burned in front of her and morphed into a new man. It had taken ages to trust him and love him like she had before and even longer to come to terms with the fact that they were the same man.
Only to find out now that they hadn’t been. Not really.
She had had him back for a few months and hadn’t even known it and now he was gone again and she was left with—
He was standing in the doorway behind her and she, somehow, knew that he wasn’t going be kissing her anytime soon.
Or taking her to bed and acting like the bloody couple that everyone knew that they were.
In fact, she’d put money on the fact that he’d try to act as if nothing happened, that this was just another one of those things that they would never talk about.
She tried not to feel bitter about that, but it was hard.
She turned her head and gave a start at the outfit he wore in lieu of both the pin-stripes and the leather jacket.
“Blue?” slipped from her lips before she realised what she was going to say.
The Doctor looked self-consciously down at his new suit. The odd blue colour was probably going to take some time to get used to, but the red converse and white shirt set it off quite nicely, he thought.
He’d also decided that it would probably be easier for both if them to have something new, something that wouldn’t continually jog their memories.
“Whad’aya think?” he stuck his hands in his pockets and grinned cheekily. “I think this could be my colour, what about you?”
Rose just nodded slowly, not saying anything else.
His eager happiness faded slightly and he shuffled his feet. “Uh, I think Jack wants to have a word with you. He said that you told him we could help with his little problem.”
“Rose. I don’t know if it’s possible to change him back to what he was. The Time Vortex is powerful and not to be misused. Besides I’m not even sure how we’d get to it to alter him back, or if it’s even possible. It could be that he’s stuck or all the years catch up with him at once or nothing happens or—”
“The TARDIS,” Rose interrupted quietly and his train of thought was derailed.
“When Blon Fel Fotch looked into the heart it regressed her, gave her a second chance. You said that the TARDIS is telepathic. She likes Jack. If he looks into the heart—it can’t kill him because he can’t die. The TARDIS wouldn’t hurt him and she’d know what to do.”
The Doctor’s mouth fell open and he gaped like a goldfish for a few moments. “Rose that’s… you’ve…that’s.” He broke into the broadest grin she’d ever seen. “Rose Tyler you are brilliant!”
A weak smile tried to edge its way onto her lips but missed.
Brilliant. She was brilliant but not…fantastic.
She looked away from him and plucked at her bedspread with nervous fingers.
He wavered a moment, standing in the doorway seemingly unsure of whether to come in or walk away.
Rose placed bets.
She owed herself a million pounds as he turned and headed back for the door.
She looked up suddenly. “So, he’s gone then?”
The Doctor froze and said in a clipped voice. “Yeah.”
He turned. “He had his time and he realised that the right thing to do was let you go.”
Let me go. Let me down. Break my heart. Again.
She wanted to ask what would become of ‘them’. She wanted to know if he would ever kiss her, ever hold her again, or if he’d just pretend it was all a dream.
Rose wanted so desperately for him to turn around and tell her that he loved her but knew that that would never happen.
Not this man.
“I’m still the Doctor, Rose,” he insisted, hurt in every nuance. “I’m still me, even if I’m not him.”
“That’s the problem,” she whispered but knew that he had heard her by the stiffening of his slight body.
He leaned against the doorframe, hands in his pockets and just stared at her. “I’m sorry. I’m so very sorry, Rose. But there was no other way. He wasn’t right. You could see the encroaching madness creeping up on him. Holding on through the regeneration was starting to send him insane. It was his choice. Even he knew that he would eventually become a danger to you and he…we couldn’t stand by and let you be hurt.”
“Ok.” Her voice was small and torn halfway between acceptance and anguish. She forced some control over it and continued quietly. “I’ll come out in a minute and we’ll see what we can do for Jack while on Earth. It’d be handy having the Torchwood medical bay on hand, just in case.”
“Okay,” he headed back for the door, halting just inside. “Rose?”
He seemed to deliberate and then just sighed. “I missed you and I’m glad we’re back together again.”
Rose closed her eyes as his footsteps retreated away through the TARDIS.
a/n- Seriously, trust me, one more to go.