The Doctor turned and kicked the TARDIS’s blue door, his usually warm brown eyes blazing furiously. Beside him, Rose Tyler shifted awkwardly and yanked the skirt of her skimpy pirate-girl costume down. A tasteful blue tricorne hat sat jauntily on her curled blonde hair, accented by a long red feather. “Uhm… Doctor? I- I don’t think it’s such a great idea to kick the TARDIS. So what if she didn’t get us to Mum’s Halloween party? We can always go back in time, and-“
He rolled his eyes at her, frustrated. “It’s not that simple, Rose! She not only brought us to the wrong place- she brought us to some God-forsaken other universe!” He growled something under his breath that sounded suspiciously like the strange lilting tones of a Gallifreyan curse word, one she’d heard him grumble fairly often. On that positive note, he stalked into the TARDIS, yanking his Sonic Screwdriver out of his pocket as he went. Soon, she heard reassuring bangs, curses, and the buzzing of the Sonic, and she took a moment to absorb her surroundings.
For a second, she’s positive the world around her flickered, then the lines of the trees look sharper, the colors brighter, and the distance less defined. She shook her head to clear it and leaned nearer the grass, but on closer inspection nothing seems different- however, the simple wrongness of the new universe presses on her skin like muggy air on a hot summer day. When she moved closer to the TARDIS doors, frightened by her solitude in the unknown world, the bodice of her costume seemed to tighten considerably. She coughed, but once she got used to the strange feeling of her stomach being compressed she’s not unimpressed by the slimness the bodice causes. She tilted her head and surveyed her figure- surely she was not so slim or curvy moments before! And were her legs usually so long? She pressed a hand to her hair, and though she’d hairsprayed the mess out of her curls to keep them in place they felt soft and luscious.
She turned and walked into the TARDIS, her heeled buckle shoes clicking against the grating. The Doctor’s mop of brown hair stuck out from under the console, his shoes abandoned near the door, and the darkness of the recuperating TARDIS console room was lit by the soft blue light of his Sonic. The familiar scene was comforting, despite the unusual circumstances, and she paused a moment to watch her beloved Doctor fiddle away with his machine before she could remember why she’d come in in the first place. She swallowed around a sudden lump in her throat and tapped her shoe impatiently.
“Doctor?” She said, mortified by the squeakiness her vocal chords were unexpectedly generating. She coughed and tried again. “Doctor…” Still higher than normal. Growing annoyed, she cleared her throat harshly. “Doctor!” Finally, her voice was on the normal lower-pitched range, though it still sounded unnatural to her. Sighing, the Doctor moved his head out from under the TARDIS console with his glasses askew.
“What, Rose? Can’t you see I’m… busy…” He trailed off as he took her in, his mouth gaping. Rose had to swallow around another lump in her throat, taken aback by his perfection. Had his hair always been so touchable? His eyes so bright? His face and neck and collarbones so sculpted?
She raised her eyebrows at him, blushing a little, both from his reaction to her and hers to him. “What, Doctor?” She asked, breathy. She squirmed a bit under the bodice. Was it just her, or was it suddenly very hot in the TARDIS? “Have- have I got something in my teeth?”
He stared at her, dazed. “Rose…” He muttered, as if he were in a dream and couldn’t believe the sight before him. “When… when did you get so… beautiful?”
She coughed awkwardly. “Er… not the place, Doctor.”
He shook himself and the usual air of intelligence returned to his eyes. He flushed scarlet. “There- there must be something enhancing our features in the air of this world. With the TARDIS malfunctioning, I can’t correctly place the-“
“Oi!” Rose plopped her hands down heavily on her hips and raised her nose. The Doctor glanced up at her but quickly averted his eyes. “Are you saying I’m not always beautiful? Cos that’s rude, Doctor!”
He realized his mistake and turned an even darker shade of crimson. “N-no! Of course not! You’re always beautiful, f-for a human. I mean, cos I’m an alien and all, so it’d be inappropriate for me to call you, you know, beautiful, and besides that I’m so many years your senior. I mean, I’m old enough to be your great-great-great-great-great-“
“All right, Doctor, I get it!” She blew a hair out of her face, exasperated. “I was only pulling your leg.”
He cleared his throat, his eyes still turned away from hers, firmly stuck on the grating instead of the way her skirt rode up on her legs, or how the bodice flattered certain… womanly attributes of hers. “Right. Sorry. Uh, Rose? Would you… mind putting on a, erm, less revealing costume?”
She sucked in a breath, caught off guard. “Sorry, less… revealing?” He nodded, blushing. “God, what a prude you are, Doctor. I had no idea.” She huffed, offended and also, strangely, flattered. Was he really affected by her partially exposed body? She stomped towards the doorway to the other halls of the TARDIS.
Five minutes later, she stomped right back in and kicked her foot at the grating. The Doctor glanced up, distracted, and his eyes filled with apprehension when he saw that she was not only in the same outfit as before, she’d peeled off her blue coat (the only layer of clothing over her exceptionally tight blouse) and it hung over her crossed arms, directly under the particular bits he’d been blatantly ignoring only minutes before. He grumbled and returned to rummaging under the console, desperate to distract himself.
Before he could emerge himself completely, however, her shrill voice filled the TARDIS. “Ow!” She screeched, jumping away from where she’d stubbed her foot on a pointed corner of the grate. “It… pricked me!!!” She let out a high, irritated breath. “And to top it all off, I can’t even find my room, let alone any others with decent clothes worth changing into!” She glared at the console like it’d wronged her. “Normally she’s so helpful, but now- ugh!!!”
He patted the console consolingly. “Don’t worry, girl, she didn’t mean it.” Rose huffed and threw herself onto a seat.
“Like hell I didn’t mean it!” She grumbled, then turned her back to him and settled herself down into a more comfortable position with her coat under her head as a makeshift pillow. “Shut up and be quieter with your meddling,” She muttered. “I’m taking a nap. And since I can’t find a room… this seems like the only available place.”
Soon, with the Doctor puttering around quietly with his eyes carefully averted from her skirt-covered bum, she fell into a deep sleep. So deep, in fact, he wondered for a moment if she’d been enchanted. Then he remembered how much easier humans fell asleep than intellectually superior Time Lords and waved the bizarre thought off.
Rose awoke to an unusually quiet TARDIS. For a moment, she wondered if the Doctor had dropped her off at her Mum’s house in the middle of the night to give her some uninterrupted sleep, as he did sometimes after a few particularly draining adventures. Then the chair pressed uncomfortably against her back and her tricorne hat drooped in front of her eyes, and she remembered, all of a sudden, falling asleep in the console room in the alternate universe.
That made the silence all the more suspicious. There was never a moment the TARDIS wasn’t wheezing or groaning or being tinkered on by the Doctor, and she knew for certain that he wouldn’t have left her all alone with an injured TARDIS aching for his help. She shot up in the seat and spun towards the empty room, her coat falling in a heap to the floor.
It took her only a half a second to process the completely unoccupied console room. Then, immediately, she started calling for the Doctor, her hysteria rising as she noticed the gaping doors. “Doctor?” She hollered, her voice echoing down the infinite, significantly empty hallways surrounding the console room. She yelled for him again. And again. And again- each time receiving no reply. The TARDIS groaned at her.
In her moment of weakness, she remembered the glowing warmth the TARDIS had filled her with after the incident on Satellite Five. She couldn’t remember exactly what had happened, but she’d been told enough by the Doctor to know that the endless possibilities of the time stream had nearly burned her up- but she’d also saved the Doctor from his destruction in the process. Was his life not worth that of her own? For a few desperate, terrified minutes, she pleaded with the TARDIS, begging her to open up and allow her to save the Doctor once more.
“Please,” She pleaded, tears slipping down her face. Despite her heavy crying, cheap mascara, and the pressure she applied to her face every time she rubbed her eyes, no black streaks marred her face- unusual, considering she often had mascara smudges after a hard day of running with the Doctor. If she’d been less focused on saving him, perhaps she would have had a chance to glance in a mirror and wonder at the change. Instead, she knelt by the console and placed her forehead on the grate where the golden light had shone before. “Please… I know you love him as much as I do, so please… Help me save him…”
She stayed cramped in that position for so long her foot fell asleep, but if the TARDIS had any help to offer she was keeping it to herself. Now more angry than upset, she glared at the machine with images of sledgehammers and bent metal filling her mind. The TARDIS moaned in disapproval, but thereafter was completely silent.
Rose clamped her lips shut and screamed deep in her throat, terrified. But not for her- she was scared for the Doctor. It was always her getting lost, always him saving her, but now the situations were reversed she had no idea what to do. No matter how many times they rushed in to save the day, it was always the Doctor doing the work and her merely tagging along. What the hell was she supposed to do now? The TARDIS was out of commission, the Doctor was missing (as well as his Sonic Screwdriver, though she hadn’t noticed that problem yet), and to top it all off she was dressed like a hooker pirate girl with no way of changing. Just her luck.
However, she wasn’t going to let little things like a plastic sword and fake gold belt buckle get in the way of her rescuing the Doctor! In fact, she thought as she paused near the doors, she was going to save the Doctor from whatever mess he’d gotten himself into, and she was going to look fantastic doing it! She adjusted her hat to a more jaunty angle, pulled on her long coat (after shaking dirt from it, of course- it had been on the floor, and who knew how long it’d been since the Doctor had the TARDIS cleaned?), and yanked her skirt into a more appropriate position. Then, with a determined set of her mouth, she stepped out of the TARDIS and back onto the bright green grass.
Almost instantly, she noticed a flash of something dark brown between the trees to the left of where the TARDIS had fallen. She made her way carefully, because she didn’t know what was lurking behind the trees and bushes of the forest, towards the object, peering into the shade to try and get a better look. When she saw what it was sitting in the clearing, surrounded by pink and blue flowers, she nearly laughed out loud.
An honest-to-God spinning wheel sat spinning seductively, its primitive gears whirring sweetly. The spindle gleamed, rubbed into a clearer and smoother grain than the rest of the machine. Rose was initially enchanted by the gorgeous object, but when the movement of the wheel didn’t end she grew suspicious, and slightly worried. “Doctor?” She called again, and opened her mouth to cry out again, but the oppressive silence around her caused her to abruptly close her mouth and listen instead.
For a long moment, she couldn’t put her finger on what was wrong, then with a start she realized what it was and stumbled backwards, away from the spinning wheel. All around the TARDIS and before she entered the clearing, birdsong and the echoes of movement throughout the forest filled the trees with comfortable noise. But beside the instrument, the only consistent noise was the creaking of wood as the wheel twirled around and around. What had seemed seductive and sweet before was now sinister, searing itself into her eyes and pounding into her eardrums. Even when she’d yelled for the Doctor, the sound cut off the instant she closed her mouth and no echoes of her call came back to her. Horrified but the sheer abnormality of the clearing, she quickly backed out of the flowers and returned to the chirping and rustling of the forest.
She leaned against the trunk of a tree in the shadow of the TARDIS and glowered at the clearing. Over a bush, Rose could just make out the top of the spinning wheel, still revolving on its axis. In the absence of the omniscient Doctor, her (albeit less talented but wholly human) mind droned away, coming up with situations and potential dangers and tossing them away again just as fast. Nothing she knew added up: the broken TARDIS, the beautified bodies of both her and the Doctor, the spinning wheel… She groaned and dropped her head into her hands.
“If the Doctor were here…” She said, her voice muffled by her hands and the tears burning in her eyes. “He’d give that wild-eyed look of his, ruffle that fantastic head of hair, and tell me exactly who dunnit and how.”
As she fought to hold her tears, the branches above her rustled and something jingled beside her ear. Surprised, she jerked her head to the side and nearly collided with a creature suspended in the air beside her- an owl, cloaked in the Doctor’s brown trench coat with his wings flapping furiously under the weight. She raised her eyebrows and glanced upwards, towards where the leaves had moved before. A squirrel chattered at her excitedly and ran along the branch it rested on, the Doctor’s glasses perched on its small snout. Something bumped her foot. Looking down, she saw one of the Doctor’s red Converse moving on its own. Then a little white head with floppy ears peeked out and squeaked gently, its whiskers quivering.
Rose looked back to the owl and reached out. To her astonishment, it permitted her to lightly touch its head, and even went so far as to click its beak in a rather pleased way when she stroked its tawny feathers. “Am I dreaming?” She asked it, incredulous. It made an amused sound in its throat. She paused for a moment, thinking, and decided that she wasn’t going to believe such adorable creatures could be evil, so she lightly plucked the cloak off of the owl. As soon as its burden was gone, it circled above her head three times and joined the squirrel on the tree branch. She reached up towards the squirrel, and it wriggled until the glasses slid off its face and into her hands. Finally, she leaned down and pulled the velvet rabbit out of the Chucks and placed it gently on the grass. It wiggled happily at her, its pink nose sniffing at the air.
She pulled the Doctor’s cloak on over her blue pirate’s one, and it settled comfortably against her costume and bare legs, reaching down to her calves. The shoe and glasses she tucked into one of the giant pockets in the cloak. Though the pocket felt empty, the two objects settled against the other items inside with a little bump. The cloak, even with the shoe inside, felt no heavier on her shoulders.
She turned her face towards the squirrel and owl, squinting against the sun that still shone through the leaves above the two creatures. “Er… I know you probably can’t, you know, understand me. Since you’re animals. But… If you can… Do you know where the Doctor is? Can you lead me to him?” Feeling silly, she bit her bottom lip and looked expectantly between the three animals.
They seemed to share a secret glance, a conversation she couldn’t hear, then the bunny squeaked and hopped between her legs, jumping away from the spinning wheel and the TARDIS, towards the darkest part of the forest. After a moment of hesitation, the owl alighted from the tree and the squirrel skittered down the trunk and they took off after the rabbit. Not wanting to be left behind, she ran after them.
When they got so far into the trees that the sun fought to illuminate the ground, the animals slowed to a walk and the four presses closer together. Rose wrapped the Doctor’s jacket tighter around her, his scent filling her nose reassuringly. After another minute or two flying around above them, the owl flapped down beside her and dropped onto her shoulder. Its talons dug into her clothes, but not quite tight enough to break the fabric or her skin. For a second, she thought the wind was blowing its feathers against her face, then she realized it was puffed up in fear and the movement was its shivering. She tensed. If the owl was terrified of what lay ahead, she at least ought to be apprehensive, if not petrified. For the sake of the Doctor, she pressed on, occasionally urging the animals forward when they balked. She followed them through the gloom, towards the Doctor.
Soon, they led her into another clearing just as unnatural as the first. The owl shuddered, then jumped from her shoulder and flew away from her, back in the general direction of where the TARDIS lay. She followed it with her eyes until it was just a speck, then turned her eyes back to the other two animals. Or, rather, where they’d been- they, too, had disappeared, the leaves rustling where they’d ran off. She felt a strange sense of loneliness and disappointment, because though they were mere animals she’d felt a sense of connection with them, if only because she’d needed help and they’d provided it. She swallowed her discontent and finally looked at where the creatures had led her.
A long, spiraling tower arced over the treetops, black and menacing against the suddenly darkened sky. All of the life seemed to have been sucked out of the air around the tower. Just like with the spinning wheel, everything about the tower screamed wrong. Whereas the forest they’d passed through had seemed scary compared to the bright grove where the TARDIS was, the forest directly around the tower and the tower itself was positively menacing. A loud clacking made her start and look around with wide eyes- but it was merely her knees knocking in fright.
She mustered her courage and raised her chin, marching towards the tower with hesitant steps. Despite her reluctance, with every step the tower grew nearer and larger and more terrifying. What had seemed like an all-black stone cut into the general shape of a tower was revealed to be a very dark and sinister maroon, carved with depictions of evil misdeeds and dripping blood. Crows, the only form of life in the immediate vicinity, flew from the turret into the shadows of the trees, off to do some form of wickedness. With her heart rapidly sinking into her feet and her palms sweating, Rose forced herself to continue on.
She pushed open yet another door in the wall of the tower, and yet again it opened on a brick wall. She cursed and slammed the door, catching her finger in the process. Her nail tore, and when she pulled her hand away blood smeared on the stone. “What the hell?!” She yelled into the sky, before remembering it would probably be a good idea to keep her mouth shut. She growled low in her throat and kicked at the wall.
Unfortunately, she misjudged the distance between where she stood and the stone foundation of the tower and she lurched forward. Expecting to smash into the unforgiving stone of the wall, she tossed her hands up across her face, but instead of smacking into the tower she found herself falling. She screeched and slammed into a cold stone, bruising her elbows. Thanks to her usual response to her typical clumsiness, her face was saved the pain of the ground, though her jaw scraped awkwardly and she bent her neck at a weird angle that twisted her spine. She coughed and gingerly picked herself up, standing.
She turned in a circle, confused. When she looked behind her, she could clearly see the outside, even smell the pollen on the trees. But, somehow, she was in a tunnel that hadn’t existed five moments before. She stuck her head out of the tunnel and glanced back to where her body was, but instead of her pirate costume and the tunnel all she saw was the unblemished wall and the many useless doors. The blood that’d been smeared along the wall marked the spot where her neck vanished into the wall.
Unnerved, she pulled her head back in and scoffed at overly cautious villains. Then, her hands tucked into the pockets of the trench coat, she started walking down the tunnel.
Rose emerged from her fourth flight of staircases in a dark throne room. The only piece of furniture was a dark throne built from the stone that made the floor. Crows squawked at her and alighted angrily, taking off through the windows she hadn’t been able to see from the ground. A voice exclaimed from the hallway directly across from where she stood as the crows flapped towards it, and footsteps clacked down towards her. She gasped and threw herself behind one of the many pillars dotting the room just as a dark figure entered the room.
Rose gaped around the pillar at the magnificent character that marched into the room, an enormous crow perched on her shoulder. She reached one pale hand upwards and stroked the crow’s beak. “Well, well, well, Diablo, your descendants were excited by something. I haven’t seen them move that quickly since you still had your sight, dearest.” Rose’s breath caught in her throat, and the crow turned white eyes towards her. The black-cloaked woman didn’t notice, instead turning her body with a twist that sent her gown swooshing around her legs. She gently settled herself in her throne and tapped her fingers against her golden staff. Great horns rose from her head, though Rose couldn’t tell if it was a decoration or her actual head. Somehow, she didn’t doubt that they were actually attached to the woman’s body.
The woman spent a few more moments stroking her bird, then she grabbed its throat and sharply yanked its head up. The crow began to choke on something in its beak, and she calmly held her hand in front of its face. It gagged once more, then spat something long and silver into the woman’s hand. She patted its head sweetly and shooed it off of her shoulder. It flew from the room.
The woman turned the object in her hands. With a horrified gasp, Rose realized it was the Doctor’s Sonic Screwdriver. Clearly, the woman had no idea what it was, and she was fascinated by the silvery metal as much as the bulb on the end. Her finger clicked just right on the Sonic, and with a click the bulb lit up blue and it began buzzing. She raised her eyebrows. “Well, Maleficent, what have you got here?” She asked herself, her voice breathy but tinged with something undeniably dark. “I do believe you’re going to have to begin interrogation of the prisoner, figure out what his object is.” She repeated her earlier movement, and the Sonic shut off. Maleficent tucked it into the folds of her cloak and stood daintily, then made her way down the hall she’d emerged from. After only a half-second of pause, Rose scrambled to her feet and softly crept after her.
They made their way down a long hallway, Rose keeping to the shadows and as far away from the form she followed as was possible. Eventually, they came to a door, and Maleficent produced a key from the depths of her gown. She unlocked the door and walked inside, her cloak billowing. Rose’s heart hammered against her ribcage, but nevertheless she made her way to the door and stood on her tiptoes to peek in through the barred window.
At first, Maleficent’s dark shadow obscured her view, then the woman shifted and Rose saw her prisoner- the Doctor. He was tied up with strong ropes bolted to the wall and floor and his mouth was bound, but nonetheless the glared at Maleficent with blazing brown eyes. His hair was a mess and he was missing one shoe, his white sock soiled by the straw and dirt splattered across the floor, yet he still managed to look perfect. She suddenly found it very hard to breathe around the lump that’d formed in her throat. It was even harder to focus on the situation considering it was one she’d imagined before: the Doctor, tied up and still beautiful. Of course, his face was twisted with anger instead of- well, she ought to not think of it, lest she become distracted.
She strained to listen to what Maleficent said, but her voice was a low enough rumble that she couldn’t make out her words. Suddenly, she turned and reached for the door, and Rose scrambled backwards, wedging herself between the wall and the door as Maleficent swept past. When the coast was clear, she pulled the door open again and softly tiptoed inside.
The Doctor’s head was bowed in defeat, his earlier bravado gone. Rose lightly made her way to him, and when her feet entered his view his back stiffened and he lurched towards her, raising his head so fast all she caught was a blur of wondrous hair and cheekbones. The ropes and bolts rattled and he said something through the cloth over his mouth.
Rose shot a worried glance towards the door and raised her finger to her lips, then gently stepped behind him and worked at the knots binding him. When the last knot had been loosed, the Doctor shook off his bonds, yanked the fabric from his mouth, and wrapped her in his arms.
Something fluttered in her stomach and she closed her eyes slowly, placing her own arms around his neck. He hugged her tightly, one hand cupping her shoulder and the other in her hair. Her face pressed into his chest, the smell of old books and grandfather clocks filling her senses. Before she could begin to process exactly what was happening, he’d pulled away and grabbed her hand. He tossed the cloth to the ground and pulled her out the door.
She momentarily felt abandoned, then the usual thrill of being the Doctor’s companion rejuvenated her and she took off after him, a bounce in both of their steps.
They peeked around the corner, their eyes on Maleficent, who still played with the Doctor’s Sonic Screwdriver. He set his jaw angrily and turned back to look at Rose, who grinned at his annoyance. Oh, the injustice! She mouthed, rolling her eyes. He scoffed and turned back to the throne room.
Diablo flew into the room and perched on Maleficent’s shoulder. She finally placed the Sonic on the armrest beside her and stroked his beak. Then, suddenly, she turned her face to where Rose and the Doctor lurked.
“Please,” She said. “If you’re going to escape, you may as well say farewell to your host first.” She smiled grimly. “After all, it would be rude to leave without saying goodbye.” They exchanged worried looks and emerged from the hallway hesitantly, walking towards the throne where Maleficent sat. “Oh, don’t be like that, you two. I don’t bite.” She glanced up at Diablo. “Though I can’t really speak for him.”
The Doctor cleared his throat. “Well, I don’t know about you or the bird, but I do know about her.” He waved towards Rose. “She make look like an adorable and innocent human, but I assure you she is not.” He began pacing, as he always did when he got into a rant. “You may say she’s a… a bad wolf.” Rose’s throat constricted. If there was one thing the Doctor steadfastly refused to talk about, it was Bad Wolf. Whenever she tried to bring it up, or asked what had happened while she was overtaken by the TARDIS and the time stream, he pointedly changed the subject and refused to give her any answers. So why, all of a sudden, was he being so open about something he’d been ignoring for ages?
Maleficent cackled. “A bad wolf? Oh, Doctor, you are a silly, silly man. There is only one Bad Wolf, and she’s been declawed.” She sneered at them, her eyebrows high. “Or don’t you remember? You were there, were you not?” She growled. “I seem to remember you were.” The Doctor took a step back, pushing Rose behind him. The trench coat she still wore slipped down one shoulder, pulling her costume sharply to the side. When she put one shaking hand on the Doctor’s bicep to calm herself, the coat’s arm covered all of her fingers save the tips of her three longest fingers and nails. His own hand reached behind him and placed itself firmly on her waist, underneath her pirate’s coat and trench but not her blouse, seeing as it was tucked into her skirt. For a moment Rose wasn’t sure why he’d been urged to push her farther from Maleficent, then she noticed the rippling in Maleficent’s forehead that the Doctor had already seen. Right before her horrified eyes, Maleficent’s forehead split and the metallic stalk of a Dalek burst forth, looking unblinkingly at the Doctor and his companion. Diablo cawed and hopped off of her shoulder, taking off out the window as fast as his wings could take him.
Rose shrieked and gripped the Doctor’s arm, her nails digging into his skin. He let out a hissed breath between clenched teeth but didn’t reprimand her, instead tightening his grasp on her waist and placing a hand on top of hers to try and calm her a bit. She pressed closer to him, only her terrified brown eyes peeking over his shoulder. Maleficent cackled, her smooth voice combined with the halting tones of a dalek. “See, Doc-tor? The Bad Wolf did not kill all of us! I have adapted!”
The Doctor said something out of the side of his mouth to Rose. Pulled from her fear, she looked at him in confusion. “What?” She whispered, and he rolled his eyes.
“Pay attention, Rose!” He muttered, Maleficent still talking in the background. She hadn’t noticed their discreet conversation yet. “When I say, run to the tunnel and towards the TARDIS. I’ll be right behind you. I have a feeling I know exactly how to get her up and running again in no time. Just get over there as fast as you can, okay?” She nodded and they took their hands off each other. Cold air rushed into the spaces where his fingers had pressed against her skin.
“Doc-tor!” Maleficent directed their attention back to her. “What have you to say? Will you allow yourself to be possessed by the superior race of the daleks and converted into a more worthy being?” She stared, dead-eyed, at him and waited for his reply.
He took a few steps away from Rose in a careful, calculating way and pretended to consider the offer. “Well…. I suppose…” Maleficent suddenly looked greedy. “I guess, if I must give an answer….” He crept closer to Maleficent’s throne, then suddenly lept towards her and snatched his Sonic from beside her. He pressed something on it and a loud, high-pitched buzzing filled the air. Maleficent screamed and clutched her head. “Now, Rose! Run!”
She took off down the tunnel, her feet slapping against the stone. She stumbled down the first few stairs, then there was a loud, piercing yell and the Doctor’s hand was suddenly in the small of her back, the Sonic buzzing in his fist. “Go, go, go!”
They ran down the stairs together and into the clear air, the tunnel disappearing once more.
Rose collapsed, gasping, on the grating of the TARDIs as the Doctor slammed the doors shut, securing them with the Sonic. He jumped straight from the doors to the console, fiddling with buttons and levers. Then he flicked a switch, slammed the Sonic Screwdriver into an indent, and whooped as the lights came flooding on. A mighty crash shook the doors. Rose glanced from them to the Doctor, worried. “Hurry!” She yelled, over his excited hooting and the whirring of the TARDIS. He beamed at her and pulled the last lever, then the TARDIS shook and she heard the comforting groaning that meant they were taking off. The crashing outside stopped, and she let out a breath, the latest crises averted.
Later, she and the Doctor both leaned against a railing, both coats pulled from Rose’s shoulders and the Doctor’s shoe returned to its rightful place on his foot. Rose finished recounting her adventure without him, the spinning wheel and the animals, and waited for a reply from the quiet man beside her.
He raked his hand through his hair. “Intelligent animals? I mean, I’ve seen some… but none were quite so helpful as the ones you met…” He paused, then turned and grinned down at her. “Rose, you’re brilliant!”
She raised her eyebrows. “I am?”
“Yes!” He laughed. “I never would have thought to ask them to lead me to you! I may be intelligent, Rose, but never underestimate the brilliance of a desperate human!”
She coughed. “Er… that a compliment?”
“Of course!” The air shimmered briefly, and when she looked up at him the laugh lines around his eyes had returned. She’d never appreciated how adorable his little imperfections were until they’d left. He seemed to be thinking the same thing, because he lifted one fallen, hard curl off her shoulder and smiled sweetly at it.
Awkward, but not wanting to completely ruin the Doctor’s mood, she urged him back to reality. “So… how did you manage to get stuck in Maleficent’s clutches, anyway?”
He cleared his throat and flushed, placing her hair back on her shoulder. “Well… I’d been tinkering around with the TARDIS while you were asleep, and I realized I’d gotten dirty and didn’t know where the bathrooms were. I’d noticed a little pool of water near the TARDIS, so I made sure you were fine and went to the water. I pulled off my coat, glasses, and on shoe and placed them on a tree and a rock, then something hit me on the back of the head and I blacked out.” He flushed, embarrassed. “I woke up in Maleficent’s castle. And that’s all I know.” Blushing, he shuffled his feet awkwardly. She smiled, her tongue between her teeth. His awkwardness was endearing.
They raised their eyes at the same time, meeting each other’s eyes. Rose immediately looked away, but his gaze remained on her face, absorbing every one of her beautiful and completely human features. He wondered, briefly, how he had never noticed how dark and pure her brown eyes were, or how her lips curled sweetly when she blushed. After a long moment of finally seeing her, he tore his eyes away and chuckled heartily, pushing off of the railing.
“Where to, Rose Tyler?” He said, not even waiting for a reply before slamming his hand down on a tall yellow lever. He threw his head back and laughed, his red Chucks digging into the ground. The skin around Rose’s eyes softened, and she knew then that she would never, ever be able to live without her Doctor.