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[personal profile] timelord1
Title: Into the Howling
Rating: Teen
Pairing: 10/Rose
Category: Drama, Romance, Humor, Action/Adventure
SPOILERS: AU on end of Doomsday and points west.
Summary: What if things had happened just a bit differently there at the end, with the levers?
Notes: Special thanks to the mighty beta troika: [livejournal.com profile] kelkat9[livejournal.com profile] onabearskinrug and [livejournal.com profile] who_in_whoville for helping me keep this going! 


Rose had not been expecting the vastness of his mind, though she knew she shouldn’t have been surprised. Once outside the room she was floating, weightless, inside an expanse that seemed to be as big as a universe. And it was absolutely crammed full of things. She drifted close to a collection of spinning Gallifreyan circles and, as she passed through it, briefly understood in-depth his calculations on the nature of Timey-Wimey. She wondered if she was learning Gallifreyan by osmosis, being inside his head. She also wondered if her brain were as well organized on the inside as his, or if he’d taken extra time to make sure the chaos was all properly sorted.
 
There were piles of memory snapshots everywhere. She picked one up and watched a brief episode where a much older version of the Doctor, his granddaughter and a baffled human couple taught a primitive civilization that the person in the tribe who makes fire is the least important one. There were reams of snapshots concerning the Daleks; an entire room devoted to Sarah Jane; theories and calculations and a log of all the devices he had ever invented, from the first sonic screwdriver to the setup he’d used to triangulate the position of the ghost transmissions hours before they’d been sucked into the Void together.
 
That seemed like a lifetime ago. She sighed and drifted along, eventually coming close to what appeared to be some sort of barrier. The space directly in front of her was rippling like waves of heat rising from the hood of a car on a hot day. She could see through the barrier, dimly, and everything on the other side of it was lit up and pulsing with activity; circles of writing were zooming back and forth while three-dimensional schematics of presumably whatever he was working on flashed behind his eyes. The whole of the Doctor’s mind went white again, accompanied by a buzzing sound, and she could hear him cursing out into the ship. She giggled, and heard him do the same.
 
 
He sighed, shaking his head as he went on working. “Emotional misdirection,” he muttered. And then giggled again.
 
The Doctor soldered leads from one circuit board to another with the sonic and dragged a third panel over with his foot so he could work on all three at the same time. Once he had them the way he wanted them, he stood up, balancing the three panels deftly on top of one another without breaking their connections, and laid them out on the control console to patch in to the navigation system. He started removing the panel, whistling to himself, when he caught sight of Rose’s body again out of the corner of his eye.
 
He wasn’t convinced the body would be all right without Rose inside it, but it had yet to show any signs of deterioration. He knelt beside the pod and dug his stethoscope out of his pocket to give her body a quick assessment.
 
 
Rose was momentarily thrown backwards from the barrier by the surge of emotions coming from the conscious part of the Doctor’s mind. She was overcome at once, drowning in the effervescent waves of love coming from his mind and all around her. She swam against the impossible tide and eased her way through the barrier, sneaking into his conscious mind. Diagnostic readings sped back and forth across his thoughts, and a feeling of reassurance swept over her. His mind was singing her name, and snatches of memories from their travels together bounced all around her. It was like being at the center of a fireworks show all in her honor.
 
Then, quite by accident, she got a little too close to the Doctor’s visual receptors, and she was able to see herself through the Doctor’s eyes. She couldn’t see a single one of the imperfections she often nagged herself about, nor did she look half as chunky as she always thought she did. She looked gorgeous and elegant and she had to assume the extraordinarily egotistical feelings she was experiencing in that moment were a result of being infused with the Doctor’s love for herself. It was the most wonderful thing she’d ever felt in her entire life.
 
Hello, Doctor, she said.
 
“What are you doing up here?” he asked, sitting back from her body.
 
I missed you.
 
“Well, you can’t be up here – there isn’t room for both of us up here, and it’s dangerous. Please go back into the room and wait. I’m nearly finished.”
 
But I want you to see something.
 
“Can it wait?”
 
Rose considered this for a moment. You say you’re almost done?
 
“Yes,” he said, turning his head to show her his progress on the console. “I’ve got it nearly all put together, ready to turn on.”
 
Then we’ll get out of the Void and we’ll be separate again?
 
“That’s the plan,” he said. “Not much longer, I promise.”
 
In that case, it can’t wait. She concentrated on taking control of his body, pushing herself forward until she was looking directly through his eyes and could feel the sonic in his left hand, warm from being used and held for so long without a break. The Doctor twitched and dropped the sonic.
 
“Rose, stop it,” he said. His movements were jerky as he staggered across the floor of the ship, fighting her for control. “Get back. It hurts!”
 
I want you to see, she said. She turned his head, searching for what she needed. Something reflective. She felt the strain in the muscles around his eyes, how much it truly did hurt him. Just relax; stop fighting and let me do what I’m doing.
 
“This is obscene,” he grumbled as he surrendered control of his body to her. “If I had wanted this I would have stayed with the Abzath.” She shambled him around the ship, banging his elbow against one of the pods, barking his shin on the edge of the control panel.
 
“Oi,” he snapped. “Watch where you’re going.”
 
There’s more of you than there is of me – I’m not used to all this extra arm and leg.
 
“Well, get used to it. It’s no different than driving a bigger car. Ouch!” His hand bounced off the sharp corner of a cabinet and he winced. “That’s going to bruise,” he muttered, rolling his eyes.
 
She brought him at last to the row of cupboards where they’d found the spacesuits and she had him open one, revealing a mirror at last. She bent his head down and made him look into his own eyes, and then let her mind go, melding her impressions into his thoughts. A second later, she felt the Doctor’s hearts beating faster, heard his breath catch.
 
“Stop this,” he warned. She brought one of his hands up to his face to brush his cheek with the backs of his fingers, to grace the length of his eyelashes with the tip of his thumb.
 
Look at yourself the way I see you, she said. What do you see?
 
He looked at the face he had seen thousands of times, expecting to see nothing new, but found he was amazed by how different it looked. He saw the tender kindness in his own smile, the bright twinkle in his brown eyes, the soft scattering of freckles on his cheeks. His features were delicate and yet impossibly handsome, and with his spirit shining so brightly through every inch of him, he saw what Rose saw in him for the first time, and he was almost brought to tears by the love he felt pouring from Rose’s mind into his. He was beautiful.
 
He looked at his reflection with a measure of awe. “You see me this way?”
 
All the time, my Doctor. My Thete. She used his hand to trace the fullness of his lips, to drag his fingers through his scalp. I like that name. Can I call you Thete?
 
“I like the way you say it,” he whispered, closing his eyes to appreciate the sensation of his hand out of his control, roaming all over his face and neck. “How do you know that name?” he purred as he relinquished total control of his hands to Rose so she could continue her explorations.
 
I found it in here.
 
His eyes snapped open and he shoved Rose back hard from the front of his mind.
 
“What do you mean you found it? I told you not to go looking around in my head!” he shouted. Fury blazed through his mind, scooping up everything that was Rose and throwing it back across the barrier. If she’d been corporeal, he probably would have broken a couple of bones. Rose retreated as fast as she could to the room, yanking open the first door she found and ducking inside.
 
An instant later she was looking through the cracked blue lenses of a pair of binocular goggles. A display of Gallifreyan symbols turned in her peripheral vision. Coordinates. She looked down when she felt the cool metal in her hands and saw that the Doctor was holding a gun. His hands were blackened and bleeding, and the uniform he was wearing was torn in spots, singed in others. His chest was heaving and he was trembling as he crouched in the russet grass at the top of a hill looking down at the burning remains of Arcadia.
 
He was sobbing. Alone in the dark while the last great city of Gallifrey burned four hundred yards beneath him, the Doctor was hysterical. Romana was dead, burning alive in the city below. Everyone was dead; his wife, his children, his grandchildren. He wailed and screamed, punching the ground and slavering in his grief. They were all dead, and he was the last. This was the moment he’d realized what was going to have to be done to save the galaxy. He rolled onto his back and knocked the goggles off his head and shook as the sobs tore out of his throat, spattering into the night sky where they did not echo.
 
He had his orders; burn the planet, engage the Time Lock. They had come from Romana, sent telepathically along with the secret location of the detonator. Her last thought to him after sending the location of the detonator was Hurry, Doctor. All depends on – what was that? They are coming for me, now. The tower had begun to burn in a matter of minutes after her last words to him.
 
Rose looked through the eyes of the Doctor’s memory and saw the bodies of his dead comrades surrounding him, felt his hand slip into the pocket of his uniform and pull out the detonator. All he had to do was click the button and it would all be over. He would be locked forever with his beloved planet, burning in frozen fire as his eternally dying eyes watched the flames reach up towards the stars of Kasterborous. His thumb slid off the safety as he wept and wailed. Rose had never felt such pain. Even through the filter of his memories she was paralyzed by his grief. He had wanted to die, to spend eternity Time-Locked in the burning ruins of Gallifrey with his family and his people. But, in the end, he had found himself to be a coward. He hauled his battered body up and started running, hunched over against the last blasts of Dalek laser fire, running for the safety of his TARDIS. She didn’t know how he could take one more step with the immensity of his self-hatred grinding down on him.
 
“Fucking worthless coward!” he screamed through his tears as he pitched towards the waiting Police Box. He stopped at the doors and took one last look at his beloved Gallifrey. He crouched down and picked up a handful of the reddish dirt.
 
There was a cold, metallic screech somewhere on his left and fire tore through him, the backlash from the Dalek’s exterminator bolt nearly bending him in half. The TARDIS doors swung open and something drew his dying form inside. Rose was terrified as she felt the Doctor dying, dimly aware of the sound of the TARDIS’s time engines engaging with their familiar groaning. And then, peaceful as a whisper, she felt him begin to change. She felt a spike of excitement as his cells began shifting, his body rewriting itself into something new. His personality began to shift as well; subtly, not enough to call him an entirely new man, just a different version of the same one. She felt the bitterness wrought from being born in battle descending over his heart and his mind, locking away the potential to feel anything good ever again.
 
His insides were tingling with new energy, but the effects that had made him so giddy the first time she’d seen him regenerate were muted by the catastrophic grief he felt at the loss of his planet. He pressed the button on the detonator, dropping it to the floor as the TARDIS slipped into the Vortex. He glanced at his distorted reflection in the monitor at the TARDIS controls and Rose felt a thrill at the sight of the close-cropped hair, the piercing blue eyes and the familiar big ears of his old face.
 
Get out of here! the Doctor shouted, grabbing Rose’s essence and yanking her out of the memory. He dragged her back to the right room and shoved her inside, slamming the door. Stay out of my head, Rose Tyler. I trusted you! A moment later, he burst into the room with her and picked up one of the books. She could feel the horror coursing through him as he realized what he’d done.
 
You left those out for me to look at, she said. I couldn’t help it.
 
Couldn’t help it? You couldn’t help digging around in my private memories? What did you think this was; a waiting room at a dentist’s? Did you enjoy what you saw? Here, have another look! He fired the book in her direction. Page through it all, now. You’ve seen everything anyway, I assume. Was it a jolly time, finding out all about me behind my back? Anything else you want to know? Did you find out how I got the name Theta Sigma? Did you like that story? How about the time the High Council of Time Lords forced me to regenerate and trapped me on Earth with no memory of how to work the TARDIS? That’s a fun little tale, too! Have a good long read! He flipped the coffee table over, scattering the books around the room.
 
I’m sorry, Rose said.
 
I’m out there trying to save you, and you’re in here snooping around. Did you like watching Gallifrey die? Did you like watching me die? I’ve done it a few times – make sure you see them all!
 
The Doctor emerged from his subconscious to find his cheeks burning, his breathing heavy and tears coursing down his face.
 
“Stop crying!” he shouted, wiping his eyes with the back of his hand. “You did it to yourself!”
 
I’m not crying, Rose said gently from inside the room.
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