Rose heard it. She heard the sound she had thought she would never know again, not since that day when she had said goodbye to him. She ran through the corridors from her office forgetting in her haste all the dignity she should have shown as head of Torchwood, London. All she knew was that he was here and she was going to make sure he never left her again. They had been wrenched apart by fate but this time she would be with him to her death, whatever it took. All those years Rose believed she had gotten over him, accepted her life here in this dimension, they meant nothing. She skidded round the corner almost falling over. She quickly grabbed the door handle to steady herself, brushed down her suit and walked in the room. She let out a short gasp unsure of how to react. The familiar shape of the TARDIS its exterior that of an old-fashioned police call box. She walked forward and tentatively stretched out her hand, her fingers barely touching the surface of the ship when suddenly there was a click. Rose stepped back drawing in her hand quickly the sense of anticipation making her almost tremble. The door swung open. A great cloud of smoke poured out of the TARDIS.
“Doctor,” she mouthed, her throat suddenly dry unable to think of what to say.
There was a scuffling sound and a strangely dressed stranger staggered out of the haze. He wore a crumpled and slightly singed velvet jacket and torn fawn trousers. He looked up at her pleadingly with his deep emerald eyes and brought one hand to his chest and the other to his head.
“Please, you’ve got to help me,” he asked, his voice breathless and weak.
“Who are you?”
“I’m the Doctor,” he let out a cry of pain. “Help me, I beg you. I think I’m dy-,”
The man who claimed to be the Doctor collapsed on the floor unconscious. Rose knelt down beside him her hand laid gently on his chest. She could feel his double heartbeat slowly fading. She quickly sprung into action.
“Get a medic in here quickly! This man is hurt!”
Rose watched through the Perspex window of the ward. Torchwood had its own onsite infirmary in case of emergencies. The Doctor’s chest moved up and down -oxygen mask over his face- as the machine to his right beeped the steady rhythm of his double heartbeat. Mickey stood beside her and rested his hand gently on her shoulder.
“Is it really him,” he asked.
It was the question Rose had been dying to put to the stranger but he was in a deep coma.
“I don’t know.”
“He has the TARDIS…you still have the key.”
She suddenly realised she had been playing with the key she always kept on a chain round her neck like a talisman. Rose lifted it up to her face and turned it round in the light.
“Would it work? What if it isn’t-, or he isn’t-,”
“There’s only two ways to find out, and he’s not going to wake up for a while.”
She bit her lip, looked round at Mickey and then back at the man lying in the infirmary bed and made a decision.
In the vast storage room sat the TARDIS its police box form all at once looking out of place and at the same time like it had always been there. Rose slid the key into the lock -it fitted- and turned it with a familiar click. She tentatively pushed the door open and stepped in. She let out a short gasp when she saw the state of the console room. The mock Edwardian interior was burnt and peeling revealing the charred roundels behind. The place was in disarray with broken furniture strewn about and a huge chunk of the console itself was melted. The stench of burning plastic could be smelt still. Rose stepped over the threshold, Mickey following her in charred detritus crunching under their feet.
“This place is a mess,” commented Mickey, picking up a piece if the debris before throwing it back down.
“I wonder what happened,” asked Rose, quietly.
“A big explosion, coming from the console. The Doctor probably overloaded the circuits or something. You know how he’s always tinkering.”
“Yes. He was.”
Meanwhile the Doctor slowly opened one eye just enough to see that there was no one in the room, and then sat up. Leaning over he switched off the machine that monitored his vital signs so that it didn’t set off the alarms when he pulled all the wires out. Wrapping one of the sheets around him like a toga and placing pillows under the remaining sheet he approached the grill on the wall. The Doctor pulled at it using all his weight the gill creaked open. He peered inside and tutted at the cliché of crawling though air vents. Glancing quickly behind to make sure he hadn’t been discovered he crawled inside closing the grill behind him.
“Cheer up. He’ll get better like he always does. Hey what’s this-,”
He bent down and picked up a pile of scorched photos brushing off some of the soot. One was of the Doctor that was in their infirmary, a young man of Asian decent and a woman with ginger hair standing in front of a bridge. They looked happy. Mickey pulled out another photo this was of a young lady in what appeared to be ceremonial robes, shaking hands with the same man from the previous photo. Rose snatched them from his hands. Turning the later picture over, she read the inscription, Romana wins third term as president of Gallifrey.
“She beat me by one vote,” said a voice behind them. “I could have ended the war there and then.”
They turned to see the Doctor, bare footed, swathed in a sheet standing there leaning against the console. He seemed weak almost pathetic figure as he wearily stumbled towards them.
“What are you doing here? How did you get out of the infirmary,” exclaimed Rose.
“It’s a long story. Let’s just say I don’t like hospitals. They tend to stick wires in you and kill you.”
“What,” exclaimed Mickey.
“If you would return my things I’ll be on my waaaa-,” he let out a cry of pain, and grabbed at his side.
The sheet was stained with blood his blood. “Must have opened up an old wound, I’m sure it had healed.”
“That’s it,” snapped Rose putting her arm round him, supporting. “You’re going straight back to the infirmary. Mickey, a little help over here, please?”
They both almost carried the frail Doctor out of the TARDIS and sat him down on a nearby crate. Mickey waited with him while she contacted the medical team. The Doctor slumped unconscious against the wall appeared to mumble something under his breath.
“What,” she asked. “Did you say something?”
“That’s not right-,”
“Not right? What’s not right,” she asked taking hold of his shoulders. “Tell me what’s not right!”
“He’s in some kind of coma,” said Mickey a little alarmed by Rose’s erratic behaviour. “You’re not going to get any sense out of him.”
“But he said something about-,”
“Rose, calm down. You’ve been under a lot of stress lately.” He put his hands on her shoulders, pulling her back. “Leave him to the medics.”
The Doctor was back in the infirmary this time there were security on the doors, for his own safety more than anyone else’s. When they had first brought him down up to the room he had began to recover slightly. Rose had been delighted, thinking that the Doctor would soon be well again, but after an hour or so his condition began to deteriorate again.
“What is wrong with him,” exclaimed Rose, frustrated, only just pulling back from slamming the palm of her hand down on the Perspex window.
“We don’t know,” replied Dr Marsh. “His physiology is all quite…well alien to us. We’re scared to do anything in case it makes the condition worse.”
“The condition being?”
“His whole metabolism has slowed down, like its being attacked by something…if I didn’t know any better I would say it’s some kind of radiation poisoning but he should have got better once he was away from the source.”
“Maybe he isn’t far enough away,” she said, distracted, thinking about the whispered words of the Doctor.
“What do you mean? We would have felt the affects-,”
“Not if it’s a type only he can feel. You see the Doctor once tried to explain it to me but I wasn’t paying attention.”
She wished she had listened now instead of charging into headfirst into danger without thought of the consequences. Rose was just about to remember what it was he had told her, it was on the tip of her tongue when her mobile rang. She cursed under her breath as the memory flew from her mind. She looked at her phone it was her mum Jackie Tyler calling. Dr Marsh looked at Rose with disapprobation.
“Yes, I know I shouldn’t have my mobile on in here,” she snapped, biting her lip. She trotted out of the infirmary to answer the call.
Mickey had decided to return to the TARDIS. He was sure there was something important there they were missing. He searched among the debris, but there was nothing in the console room. So he took the decision to go through the doors into the myriad of corridors that crisscrossed the seemingly infinite TARDIS interior. Last time, in his short time travelling with the Doctor, he had ventured to explore further than his room and had found himself lost and had to swallow his pride to call Rose to ask the Doctor for directions. But this time he was older, wiser and a little braver. He followed the corridors they were charred and damaged like the console room but to a lesser extent. Not for the first time Mickey had the eerie feeling the TARDIS was influencing his direction of travel as if it wanted him to find what he was looking for.
Eventually he came upon a dead end, it was just a long generic corridor with a door at the end. He laid his hand on the door and pushed it, it swung open easily. Mickey moved cautiously forward into the room the door had revealed. He gasped in amazement and swayed around like a drunken man, unable to comprehend the sight before him. The single expletive that he attempted to utter from his lips stuck in his throat, his mouth dry. It was impossible an at once logical…this was what the Doctor was hiding.
“What do you mean the temperatures rising too much,” exclaimed Rose, over the phone to her scientific advisor. He had called only moments after she had finally finished being talked to by her mum.
“Its like global warming but more rapid than it should be. I’ve seen it before when-,”
“That’s impossible the rift between the worlds was sealed. I know that for sure…how could it be open again?”
“I don’t know. I need time, resources, equipment, money-,”
“We don’t have much time, if your predictions are correct,” she paused, taking a deep breath. This was an important decision the kind she had gotten more used to making since she had been left in this parallel Earth cut off from the Doctor she knew and loved. “I’ll have the necessary items sent over immediately.”
Rose put the phone down with a sigh, putting her hand to her forehead and closing her eyes. She had been working non stop for twenty-four hours straight. She was tired and knew that she needed sleep but some things had to be dealt with by her personally. She was responsible for so much, and even her usually dependable second in command, Mickey had apparently gone AWOL.
Rose took a small key from her pocket and unlocked the drawer to her desk. She reached in and pulled out the small circular device with its large garish yellow button. The device -if her suspicions were confirmed- that would enable her to go home, back to her own Doctor. She heard a knock on the door. Quickly stuffing the yellow button into her pocket she called out.
The Doctor opened his eyes, trying to focus on the sterile white ceiling. He turned his head to the right a monitor showed his vital signs even in his current state he could see that things weren’t looking good. He knew now what he had to do. The TARDIS should have helped him aided the healing process, but instead he had felt himself grow weaker in her presence. And now he could sense the problem, the rift which was causing space and time to warp. His current incarnations sensitivity to the timelines was killing him, but that was short term in the long time this and the other universe it was open to on the other side of the void would be sucked in on itself. So many deaths, two worlds gone would cause an imbalance and the chain reaction would destabilise all the parallel worlds. The scale of destruction was terrible. His people…the Timelord’s were in no state to interfere still licking their wounds after the most vicious battle of the Time War. He had to close the rift.
The Doctor tried to pull himself up and out of bed but he soon slumped back down exhausted. His took a deep breath and steeled him self against the pain as he attempted to get up once again. As he lost energy once again, he felt two strong hands catch him before he fell back down. He blinked as he tried to focus. It was the one the blond girl, Rose had called Mickey.
“Hello,” said the Doctor weakly, attempting a reassuring smile, which came out more like a grimace.
“I’m here to help, Doctor,” said Mickey, frowning slightly. “I know what you’ve got stashed in your TARDIS.”
The phone rung, its shrill tone echoing round the office, but Rose didn’t answer. She didn’t hear it ring, as she lay unconscious on the floor of the office. The shadow of her attacker stretched across the room casting her prone form in darkness. The attacker picked up the dimension hopping device from where it had fallen out of her pocket onto the floor.
Now dressed in some ill-fitting clothes Mickey had smuggled to him – some spare scrubs and a white coat -from the store cupboard. The Doctor made his way, bare-footed, down the corridor, his new friend intermittently supporting the still weak Timelord.
“Did I really say that to you,” asked the Doctor.
“Yeah, but the other you was nicer. Not that I think your not great.”
“I’m relieved. I would like to think my possible alternate future selves would be improvements not a backward step. The TARDIS let you in then?”
“Rose has a key. Her Doctor left it with her.”
“Ah, and you borrowed it to go snooping?”
“I wasn’t snooping. So how did you, you know-,”
“Fit it in the TARDIS…well everyone has their secrets and the old girl has plenty.”
“Which way next,” asked Mickey as they reached the lifts.
“I think back to the TARDIS, don’t you?”
The Doctor leant for a moment against the wall, breathless, his legs still shaky as he waited for the lift doors to open.
“Are you alright,” asked Mickey concerned.
“Never better. I will be quite fine in a moment. There are things to be done and standing around won’t get them done. Come on.”
Rose opened her eyes slowly at first, then wide. She could feel a pain in the back of her head where her assailant had struck her. She sat up with a groan bringing her hand to her head. Rose glanced around, the room didn’t appear to be disturbed. Suddenly she felt a jolt of panic, and hastily delved into her pocket. The device it was gone. She searched the floor but it was nowhere to be seen. Scrabbling to her feet alarmed at the prospect of someone else getting hold of the device especially if there was a new gap appearing between the worlds. Rose picked up the phone and dialled a very important number.
Back down in the storage room where the TARDIS sat beside crates and other artefacts collected by Torchwood. This was the place where the disturbance was at its peak, the very fabric of time and space ripping apart at the seams. Soon it would be a big enough gap for him to use the device and escape his fate. Escape this world, the Timelord’s and rule the world that was on the other side. He would be glad to leave this reality and the Doctor to crash and burn. He held the device in his gloved hand glancing momentarily back at the TARDIS.
“Stop,” yelled a familiar voice. Its tone was filled with authority. “Stop there!”
The Doctor stood in the door way his bearing aloof, noble. He strolled forward frowning trying not to show the fact he was in pain.
“You think you can stop me. Doctor,” replied the Master. A look of incredulity written across his countenance. He laughed mockingly. “You’re bleeding. I’m glad I didn’t take your body after all.”
The Doctor looked down his hand reaching for the wound and then he pulled his hand away it was covered in blood.
“Chang Lee was an innocent, and you took what was not yours. Is there anything left in there of him after you compressed his mind?”
“Not a jot. You should try this whole mind transference it’s so much easier than regeneration, plus you get to choose which body you get next. And now if you’ll excuse me I have to be going.”
“Wait! If you use that device you won’t only destabilise this world but the one it’s linked to. It’s suicide.”
“You would say that wouldn’t you? It’s your fault the fabric is ripped-,”
“How,” asked Rose. She had entered unnoticed by another entrance and now stood the other side of the Master, her back resting against the TARDIS.
“Because he cheated, my child.”
“I had no other choice,” snapped the Doctor in reply. “There is a war on you know!”
“Of course there was another choice but you had to play the hero, save Gallifrey and all those pompous old farts. The people you defy yet seem so concerned to please.”
“A life is a life, whomsoever it belongs to.”
“Oh, how droll,” the Master clapped slowly and sarcastically. “The Doctor, a philosopher.”
“Do not mock me,” he replied, having noticed that Rose had begun to move towards the Master. “If you hadn’t made that bargain with the Daleks they would never have found out the codes for the transduction barrier.”
“Well, I’m more important than a couple of dusty clerks. Now I’ve waited long enough-,”
He lifted up the device and prepared to press the button when it was kicked out of his hands. It went skidding across the floor. He went to retrieve it when a fist impacted with his jaw.
“That is for knocking me out,” said Rose.
The Master made to lunge at her but she dived out of the way, giving a swift chop to the back of his neck. He crumpled to the floor. Moments later Mickey, and Jake and his ‘Taskforce’ swamped the room.
“Could you for once arrive before the nick of time,” quipped Rose, to Jake. She then turned to the Doctor. “You shouldn’t be up.”
“I know but I never was one to follow Doctor’s orders,” he smiled although it ended up more like a grimace. “I’ve got to close the rift before both worlds are pulled inside out.”
“And how do you to do that?”
“I have to destroy it-,”
“You can’t,” said Mickey joining the conversation.
“I have to. The Master was right, it was cheating. Everything has its day, everything dies. It’s time,” the Doctor began to stagger towards the TARDIS, sad resignation in his eyes.
“What’s or who in there,” asked Rose. “What’s or who’s had its day?”
“Tell her Doctor.”
“Maybe you had better see for yourself,” he patted his pocket absently. “I don’t seem to have my key on me-,”
“Is this it,” asked Mickey handing over the key. “Retrieved it from storage.”
The Doctor took it from him; somehow that small piece of metal seemed so much heavier this time. He placed it in keyhole and turned the lock clicked and he pushed the door opened. It pained him to see the old girl in such a state. He led them through the corridors -their progress slow as he had to stop often to catch his breath and steel himself before continuing – towards the room.
When he opened the door he felt the same amount of awe as Rose and Mickey at the scene. Every time he saw it the majesty of it never ceased to amaze him.
“You have-, you have a-,” stammered Rose.
“In the TARDIS?”
“I’m not quite sure myself; it was a flash of inspiration really.”
“And are there-,”
“No. They fled before-,”
“I’m just saving it for them.”
“So let’s just clarify this, just you know so there is no confusion,” said Rose.
“You have a PLANET in the TARDIS?”
“Yes, and that planet is?”
“In temporal stasis, taken out of the timelines, hidden from the enemy.”
“I mean which planet is it?”
“Haven’t you guessed yet?” replied the Doctor.
“It’s your home isn’t it?” said Mickey.
“Gallifrey.” There were almost tears in his eyes. “Now I have to say goodbye forever.”
“I can’t keep it in the TARDIS its putting enough strain on the timelines as it is. That’s why the rift opened at a weak point. I either must restore it to its rightful place and see it destroyed by the Daleks, or destroy it myself. Not much of a choice.”
The Doctor began to press a series of buttons on the console in front of him.
“What are you doing?”
“Setting the sequence that will jettison Gallifrey into the void and disengage the stasis field.”
“Are you sure this is the only way,” asked Rose placing a hand on his shoulder.
“Times running out and this is what must happen. At least my fellow Timelords were able to flee, maybe they’ll find a new world to colonise I don’t know. All I know is it is my duty to preserve lives.”
He held his hand, hesitating, above the large red button which would initiate the process. “I’m sorry, I’m so sorry.”
Rose laid her hand on his.
“Let me take some of the responsibility,” she said as they pressed the button together.
Meanwhile in the storage room the Master had come round, he could see the device only a few feet from him on the floor. He lay still biding his time hoping the soldiers would still think him unconscious. Then suddenly dived for the device scooping it into his hands taking the soldiers by surprise. Before they could open fire he pressed the bright yellow button. Too late he realised his mistake, the rift was closing rapidly and the transportation device only had half its power left after 25 years in Rose’s desk. His cry echoed round the room as he disappeared into the void.
The Doctor, Rose and Mickey emerged from the TARDIS. Jake immediately informed them about what had happened.
“So his just disappeared. What should we do?”
“He won’t be any trouble anymore,” said the Doctor, with a sigh.
“Put it in your report,” said Rose. “Dismissed.”
“Yes, Ma’m,” replied Jake.
He saluted then led his troops out of the room.
“So-,” she said.
“More travelling I suppose,” replied the Doctor, already starting to feel a little better.
“You don’t want to stay and recuperate with us do you,” suggested Mickey.
“No, its time I went.”
“You wouldn’t-, oh, its silly…you wouldn’t want a travelling companion would you?”
Rose looked at him expectantly, hoping he would say yes but at the same time, knowing she was needed here. It was selfish of her to want her old life back, to leave Mickey, and her mum and dad.
Her heart sunk. It must have shown on her face.
“But two travelling companions, that would be fine,” the Doctor grinned. He had seen both their expressions. “Before we go any chance of picking up some spares?”
He started to rummage through the crates. “I think the old girl is going to need a refurbishment. Oh, and some new clothes wouldn’t go amiss.”
“You really are the Doctor,” she said. “No matter which world you come from, you’re still the same.”