jedi_of_urth: (dw happy)
[personal profile] jedi_of_urth
Title: Though Memory Imperfect
Author: [personal profile] jedi_of_urth
Fandom: Doctor Who
Characters/Pairings: The Doctor (John Smith), Rose Tyler (Anne Young), Martha Jones. Doctor/Rose (John/Anne)
Rating: PG-13
Word Count: ~39,000
Summary: HN/FoB AU, when Martha and John Smith arrive in 1913 they encounter the mysterious Anne Young, whose forgotten past is more important than any of them know.
Disclaimer: Doctor Who isn’t mine. And the basic idea of HN/FB isn’t either.
Author's Notes/Warnings: This story as bee a long LONG time coming, but I think I can finally call it finished. I’ll include more on that at the end of the story but I hope it came out alright after all that. Includes fictionalized amnesia, and obviously plot points borrowed” from the show. Thanks to [personal profile] got_swagger for betaing. And yes, there is still an epilog to come.

Past Chapters: Chapter 1 | Chapter 2 | Chapter 3 | Chapter 4 | Chapter 5 | Chapter 6



The Headmaster roared and demanded answers; Nurse Redfern fussed and worried about the patients deposited in her infirmary; plenty of observers twittered and gossiped at the unexplained events of the evening. It was getting towards midnight and the school was as unsettled as it was at noon.

Rose and Richard ran interference to keep the infirmary clear of people who were neither involved in the events nor trained to practice medicine. Rose had always been better at running a cover-up after the crisis was over than she was at keeping secrets during it, so her excuses were much better now than they had been an hour or two ago. Even so, most of the men and boys needed to hear Richard repeat her words exactly before they believed it. After a while Richard got the hang of her system of lies and half-truths and managed to sound halfway believable at the repetition.

Finally things had moved on enough that Rose decided she could leave that task to Richard long enough to duck in and check if the Doctor had things in hand; only to almost run into him coming out the door at the same time. Neither of them had had a chance to change clothes yet, so he was still wearing the professor’s clothing that had been familiar to Rose of late. But it was John’s clothing, not the Doctor’s; and, not for the first time, Rose knew things were going to be awkward once they were forced to deal with the path they had taken back to each other.

“How is everyone?” Rose asked nervously. She was worried about what had happened to Baines; she didn’t feel bad for the creature that had taken him over, but to combat him she had had to wound the boy and she hoped he would survive this experience.

“I’m worried about Martha,” the Doctor explained, “on normal human physiology the serum should have worn off by now, but she hasn’t woken up yet. I’m worried she might have a concussion, but there’s nothing I can do for that now. So I think we’ll have to leave things in Nurse Redfern’s capable hands for a while. We need to find their ship and equipment in order to reverse the possession.”

“Alright,” Rose nodded and looked at Richard. Before she could ask if he’d be alright without her, he nodded and smiled knowingly. It made Rose smile back shyly, relieved but a bit embarrassed that it was so obvious she wanted the time with the Doctor.

“I’ve given each of them an extra dose of the serum,” the Doctor explained as he slid his hand into Rose’s, “but if they start to stir make sure Joan doesn’t hesitate to give them more.”

As Richard agreed, the Doctor headed for the school doors but Rose pulled him back. “There’s still people out there,” she explained, “we’ll go out the back.”

They managed to avoid being stopped by going that way, but the quiet sneaking through the back rooms reminded Rose of the other night she had brought him back this way. It had been a month ago, but felt so much longer. It was almost easier to think it had happened to someone else, that Anne and John weren’t Rose and the Doctor, but that didn’t feel right either.

Once out on the terrace the Doctor squeezed her hand, signaling that she wasn’t the only one remembering and further proving that she couldn’t fully separate their identities. “Doctor,” she started, but had nothing to finish with.

At the step where ‘Anne’ and ‘John’ had first kissed the Doctor hesitated for a second and looked at her. It wasn’t even as light as it had been that night but being themselves now she could see the love in his gaze even clearer. The words were on her lips, but she wasn’t ready to talk about it yet; so instead of saying that she would very much like to kiss him just now, she did it. He wasn’t the least bit surprised when her lips met his, but neither of them deepened the kiss. It was a step, but they didn’t have to take every step right now.

“You know,” he said, as she nestled against his side as they started walking again, “you haven’t told me how you made it back yet.”

Rose frowned slightly, she still couldn’t remember that very well. But she told him about how she’d been working with one of the Torchwood field offices and the reports she’d come across about the abandoned church that was supposedly haunted; and how she’d gone off on her own one morning to look into it. It was at that point where she had to think hard to form a memory, at least now the shards of memory were there that she could try and pull together instead of grasping blindly for any memories.

“It was raining,” she said slowly, fighting the cloud around those memories. “I went inside. I could understand why people said the place was haunted, it was dark and the old statues were...” she shook her head, trying to remember the last place she’d seen in the other world but it wasn’t there yet.

She glanced at the Doctor and could tell he was thinking hard. “You know something.”

“I know a lot of things,” he joked, but she recognized it as a reflex bit of sarcasm when his mind was elsewhere. “I do have an idea,” he added as they turned onto the paths at Turner’s farm, “but it depends on how similar species are between the two dimensions.”

“Pretty similar,” she told him. “A few years ago they had a Sycorax invasion too. Used different methods but pretty much same species.”

“Oh? You’ll have to tell me about that later.”

Rose shrugged, “It was before my time, but I did read over the reports.”

“I don’t suppose the story ended any better there?”

“No,” Rose answered. Although it did depend a little on how you looked at it she supposed. It hadn’t come down to the Sycorax being shot while they were leaving, which was the thing that had upset the Doctor the most about what had happened with them. And some of the Sycorax had finally left, but not before there had been a lot of casualties on both sides.

“Anyway, if I am right about how you came back we should probably go and make sure we don’t have a nest of them here. A nest of Weeping Angels can cause a lot of problems. I am supposed to be defending the Earth from that kind of threats.”

“You mean those statues were some kind of alien?” She felt stupid for not noticing something like that, that she’d dismissed the décor as decaying statues and nothing more.

“Excellent camouflage isn’t it? And they blend in more places than you would think, it’s not an uncommon type of stature in the galaxy.”

“But how would that explain how I was sent back here? And did they give me amnesia? Because I really could have lived without that. And wait,” she said as they reached the TARDIS and he pulled out the key he’d taken from Martha before they left the school, “when I was here earlier I didn’t have my TARDIS key but I didn’t need it. Martha seems like she’d be pretty responsible about that sort of thing.”

The Doctor smiled as he patted the old blue police box. “What happened to your key?” he asked calmly.

Rose’s hand went to her chest, where her TARDIS key had hung while she’d been living in the other world. It wasn’t there now, like her clothes and everything else she’d had with her when she went into the church it hadn’t come with her. “What-”

He covered her hand with one of his own, silencing her question. “Between the energy of the Angels and the residual energy connection to the TARDIS from when you traveled with me, you weren’t just transported back in time – that’s what they do – but pulled into this universe. The amnesia was from such a shock to your system, cosmic forces can do that to a human.

“And the TARDIS is easiest of all. I’m pretty sure she brought me here to find you; even powered down that goal would be clear in her mind. Here the two of you were and she wasn’t about to turn you away.”

There were still questions Rose could have asked about that, but for now she sandwiched his hand between hers and said “I suppose it all worked out in the end.”

He smiled slightly in the dim light of the sleeping TARDIS. “I suppose it has.”

“And I suppose,” she said slowly, “we should finish sorting things out here so we can start enjoying it.”

~~~~~~~~~~

Slowly, groggily, and very reluctantly, Martha began to return to consciousness. She knew she needed to wake up, but it didn’t seem very inviting. Still, moment by moment she came closer and closer to the waking world.

There were people talking, she couldn’t quite make out the words yet but she wished they would go away. The more aware she was the more she was aware she had a pounding headache and the noise of the voices echoed in her mind.

There was something she should be concentrating on, but trying to focus her thoughts on it wasn’t happening yet, not with her mind as scattered as it was right now.

Wait. Weren’t those sorts of symptoms a sign of...something. She was sure she’d studied it, but when? For what class?

“Mr. Steinhold, I told you I would not use Mr. Smith’s serum unless absolutely necessary.” A woman’s voice, raised in anger penetrated the fog surrounding Martha’s mind. Or maybe she’d just finally come around enough that she would have understood it anyway. It was still plenty loud to Martha’s pounding ears.

“I agreed with you regarding the boy, but the others were starting to rouse and I judged it would do more good than harm to follow Smith’s instructions.” The man’s, maybe Steinhold’s, voice wasn’t as grating as the woman’s, but his deep voice resounded uncomfortably.

Smith...Doctor! she finally grasped at a clear thought. The Doctor, she needed to find the Doctor. She tried to sit up, but it set her head spinning and she fell back against the stiff bedding. Hospitals never changed all that much.

She had broken through some of the fog she’ been in, but her head was still pounding so it was only slightly easier to think. The next thing she knew a man’s hands had tentatively taken hers. “Take it easy,” he whispered, “Doctor’s orders.” It took Martha a moment to hear the implied capitalization of Doctor rather than the common saying. “He and Anne, Rose that is, went to clean up some loose ends, they’ll be back soon.”

Steinhold, Martha finally recalled, was Anne’s master-friend. And Anne was Rose it turned out. As in ‘Rose’ Rose. That was tying up a loose end too, she supposed, but at the same time it left a lot of untied strands. The mysterious ghost of Rose that Martha had lived with for months was now a real person, a person who would probably explain what had happened to her better than the Doctor had. She had wanted answers, but this wasn’t really how she would have chosen to get them.

Oh God, what would Rose think of her? After the things she’d said to try and keep Anne away from John Smith; and even ‘Anne’ had seen through Martha’s feelings. Two people and a memory had already made the TARDIS crowded; three people all of those issues would probably make it unlivable.

She couldn’t just lie here and think, even if she could think clearly, it wasn’t helping her headache and it was making her feel awful. If she concentrated on getting up that would keep her focused on something besides her future once she got past that point.

The first step was slowly opening her eyes. The school’s medical wing was moderately lit but the quarter moon shone through the window behind Richard Steinhold who loomed over her. The nurse was moving around on the other side of the room, and with a little effort of focus Martha could see that there were four filled beds besides hers.

Just keeping her eyes from staying closed when she needed to blink was a challenge. A slight turn of her head revealed the Doctor’s sonic screwdriver sitting on her bedside table. That was a relief Martha hadn’t realized she needed; he would have to come back for his screwdriver. Now that he had Rose he might not need Martha but at least he couldn’t just leave her here.

Concussion, that was the diagnosis Martha had been trying to make on herself. When she’d been thrown to the floor of the Family’s spaceship and then she’d been hauled across the forest again by the scarecrows, possibly furthering her injury. The diagnosis didn’t improve her condition but identification did help her deal with it for the moment. Her symptoms made sense, they could be categorized and accepted; and in theory she knew how to deal with it.

It was so much easier to explain it than it was to deal with it herself though. All the diagnosis knowledge in the world didn’t make it much easier to keep from surrendering to the drive to slip back into unconsciousness.

“Where did they go?” Martha asked slowly, her voice sounded normal enough, no sign there that she’d been hurt too badly. Slurred speech would have indicated her injury had been worse than she assumed.

“To find the alien spacecraft,” Steinhold said, his tone made it clear he couldn’t quite believe he was saying that.

Martha nodded slightly and ended up regretting it, though not as much as she had regretted trying to move a few minutes earlier. Sights and sounds were getting easier to handle on their own too. The headache wasn’t any better yet, but she did seem to improving. “What happened?”

“You got hit with the stuff the Doctor brewed up to take down the others. We’re keeping them drugged until he gets back with the spaceship. He thinks he can save the four of them.”

Martha had no doubt he would try as hard as he could, the whole reason they had ended up here was because he didn’t want to hurt the Family. At the time she had agreed fully with him, after living here for a few months her opinion had shifted slightly. Everything had worked out great for him, while her life had only gotten more complicated.

She was still trying not to think about that, so she went back to trying to move her head around in hopes that it would clear. Steinhold kept explaining more than she’d expected. “It turned out Rose had gotten into a fight with Baines, so he’s not in proper shape, but the rest are only kept under by the Doctor’s concoction. I do hope they come back soon, I’m concerned keeping them like this is not sitting well with our good nurse.”

“How long have I been out?”

“About two hours. Rose and the Doctor left about an hour ago before you have to ask. First we had to get everything organized before they could go off.”

Martha nodded slightly again, a little less than before, with a little less pain to go with it. That didn’t tell her how long it would take to find the Family’s ship, it could be any moment now or it could take hours. Especially if they added time for other activities. The image of Smith and Anne in bed together flashed through her mind, and she really wished she could erase that memory, now more than ever.

Again she tried to avoid that train of thought, but it was getting harder. “Can you help me up?” she asked Steinhold. She didn’t know the other man very well, but he was the one watching over her for now.

“I probably shouldn’t.” Martha indicated the direction of the toilets and he considered a moment before saying, “You tell me if this is a bad idea.”

Martha had expected him to help her stand, but instead he picked her up. Her head spun with the movement so it was probably for the best. As they walked the length of the room Martha had the chance to see the hosts the Family had taken, the older man, the girl, Baines, and Jenny. Jenny was the only surprise to Martha, and she hoped again the Doctor could save the chatty servant girl.

Steinhold slowly set her down at the door to the toilets, giving plenty of time to adjust to standing under her own power. “My wife was prone to fainting spells,” he explained, as if Martha had asked why he acted the way he did. She hadn’t needed the explanation, but it certainly fit.

“I’ll be alright,” Martha said once she felt steady enough to move under her own power and he released her.

She didn’t really need to use the loo, but she needed to be alone for a moment. She didn’t want to think about her future right now, but thoughts of it kept finding her. She didn’t know what she wanted her future to be, but she may not have any control in what happened next. Would it be easier for all of them if she simply chose to go home? There wasn’t any hope in staying now, but how could she just leave him?

A couple of tears sneaked out the corners of her eyes, but she could blame them on the concussion if she had to. Before they came here she had been determined that it didn’t matter if he ever returned her feelings, if he even saw her; determined that all she wanted was to be with him however she could be. But that was before Rose went from intangible memory to very tangible person. And a person who it didn’t seem had simply left the Doctor the way Martha had assumed.

It turned out it did matter, and she wasn’t sure how to deal with it now that it not only mattered but stared her in the face.

She stayed in there for several minutes before Steinhold knocked on the door. “Ms. Jones, do you need anything?”

“No,” was her only answer.

“It’s just, I think I see Rose and Smith coming this way, if you wanted to be ready to meet them.”

She would never be ready, but the time she spent thinking about it didn’t improve her situation and barely improved her headache and that could just be that she wasn’t focusing on it. She took a deep breath, held her head high and walked slowly back into the medical hall. The slow movement was necessary to deal with the head trauma, but hardly her primary motivation.

“So where’d they park?” Martha asked as she came out.

Steinhold shrugged, “I don’t know much about where to park alien spacecraft, but I saw them coming across the lawn.” He offered her a hand again, but this time she shook him off, she was going to stand on her own feet, no matter what her head said. She’d just made it back to her bed when the door opened and the Doctor entered.

He’d thrown his own brown long coat over Smith’s tweed dinner suit, meaning he’d been back to the TARDIS while he’d been out. Martha was glad, even if he hadn’t shed Smith’s entire outfit yet, he looked much more like the Doctor. He smiled at her, and in spite of everything she smiled back. She was glad to see him, no matter what happened next.

It surprised her that Rose wasn’t with him, and even more when he pulled her into a hug as soon as he reached her. That wasn’t completely like him, but it certainly wasn’t like Smith. “My, it’s good to see you up and about. I brought you something in case you weren’t feeling good yet, but you look good.”

He reached into his coat pocket as he released her, and produced what looked like a piece of candy. Martha took it without hesitation. “Definitely not feeling great yet,” she explained, “so thanks.”

“I should be thanking you for everything,” he said with a new smile.

For a second it made Martha’s heart flutter to see him smile at her like that, but it quickly plummeted again. He was acting so different now, so much happier and relaxed; his smile was a little wider, it reached his eyes a little more. That wasn’t about her, it was because of Rose. “Where’s Rose?” she made herself ask after she popped the candy-like medicine in her mouth.

“Oh you did hear that, I thought I was going to have to explain things once you came around. And Rose seemed to think it would be better if I told you without her around, so she went to go pack up our things. And she needed to talk to her friend Paulina about something apparently.”

“Doctor, how was she here?”

“We’re still trying to figure that out exactly, but as she’s fond of reminding me, first we need to finish things up here.” He scooped up his sonic screwdriver and threw it in his pocket. “Great of you to bring the screwdriver, meant I was able to keep the Family’s army from doing anything until I could shut them down. People around here are doing to find a lot of downed scarecrows over the next few weeks.”

With that he was bouncing around the room, pulling bits and pieces out of his pockets and arranging them around the various members of the Family. Martha’s head was already feeling better, not that that helped her understand what the Doctor was doing. “I’ll just...go,” she said indicating the door.

The Doctor looked up, briefly surprised. “You don’t have to.”

“I’m pretty sure I know where more of your things are than she does,” Martha pointed out.

“Oh, I thought you meant...well, after all this. I mean, if you want to, but you don’t have to.”

Martha glanced at Steinhold who hadn’t left the room, but appeared to be very studiously not paying attention to them. “We’ll see,” she decided on saying.

“Martha...” he started, but stopped and sighed. “Whatever makes you happy.”

He could have made her happy all these months they’d been together, but the most he’d done was properly invite her along. At least he was more direct about that now, but that didn’t help much when it came to making a decision. For now she headed for Smith’s rooms to make sure they didn’t leave anything behind that they shouldn’t.

Did he actually want her to stay or did he just feel obligated to ask? She wondered about that as she climbed the main staircase, no reason to hide on the servants’ stairs now. And even if he did want her around it wouldn’t help the awkwardness that the three of them would have to live with if she stayed.

Smith’s room was a bigger mess than Martha had last seen it. Things were thrown about the room, and it looked almost like there had been a fight. Or something else she’d rather not think about.

She also couldn’t see the pocket watch anywhere. The Doctor probably had it with him now, but she didn’t want to risk leaving it behind after so much trouble to keep it safe. Her eyes did land on an unfamiliar book open on the desk. It didn’t look like anything she had known Smith to be working on, but something about it drew her attention. She took a tentative step further into the room, finally only tentative because she wasn’t sure where to start than she felt uncertain on her own feet.

“Should you be up here?” a voice asked from behind Martha.

The accent had shifted slightly, a bit more London in the sound than there had been before, but it was unmistakably Anne-now-Rose’s voice. Martha stiffened and turned. “What are you doing here?”

For a moment Rose seemed to bristle at Martha’s tone but she quickly relaxed. “Most of my things actually belong to Richard; and even if they didn’t, they’re not really me you know? And I didn’t think you really wanted me packing for you.” When Martha didn’t do anything but stare, Rose moved past her into the room and continued. “I figured there was more I could do here.”

“The Doctor said something about needing to talk to Paulina.”

That made a shadow cross Rose’s face. “Baines broke through long enough to give me a message for her. Now that things have calmed down she should be with him.”

“I guess I missed a lot,” Martha said bitterly.

“Martha,” Rose said, fixing her eyes on Martha’s, which made Martha uncomfortable even though it wasn’t challenging, “after everything we’ve put you through these last few weeks, and I know it can’t have been easy for you, you don’t need to deal with everything here on top of that.”

Rose picked up the book Martha had noticed and smiled a little sadly, and Martha decided she was content not to know what that was about. “I know it couldn’t have been easy,” Rose said again.

“Where were you?” Martha blurted out, the question she hadn’t been willing to ask since she and the Doctor reached their unspoken agreement not to talk about Rose even if she was all but in the room with them. “He would never say. He said you were with your family, but he never said why you left.”

“You thought I left him,” Rose said quietly, barely looking in Martha’s direction. Martha thought it wasn’t clear if it was a question or a statement, but she nodded either way. “But the amnesia makes you think there’s more to it.”

“Yeah,” Martha said carefully.

“When are you from?”

A part of Martha noted how weird that should sound as a way to start asking questions. “2008.”

“So you know about the Daleks and Cybermen then.”

“You mean what happened at Canary Wharf?” Martha distantly remembered the Doctor mentioning that he was there; he’d only mentioned it once when they were on the moon and she’d been a little distracted at the time, but now she could remember that he had said he was in the middle of the battle. “You were there?”

Rose nodded. “We both were. It was bad, but the worst was that I ended up trapped in another universe.”

“But the Doctor said-”

“I was with my family,” Rose said. “My mum and dad, and my best mate, I had them with me. I even have a new baby brother after all these years.”

“He said you were happy.”

“I’m sure he wanted to think that,” Rose said with a sigh, then glanced back at Martha. “I didn’t have a choice in leaving, and I wouldn’t have if I had. I didn’t have a choice in coming back either, but I would have chosen it. Maybe not like this,” she gestured with the book, “but I’m not going anywhere now.”

Although there was defiance in her tone Martha didn’t see it as a challenge until Rose continued. “I know right now you must hate that I’m here, but I always did think we were friends before. Even if you were trying to warn me off John. I’d like us to be friends now, if we can do that”

Hearing Rose talk about what things had been like was strange. She seemed so different now from Anne that had been Martha’s roommate. Not suffering from amnesia anymore might do that to a person. Remembering that they had survived encounters with Daleks and Cybermen and being trapped in another universe might have something to do with it too. Still, Martha wasn’t sure she could handle everything that came with being around the two of them. “We’ll see,” she said, same as she’d told the Doctor.

Rose nodded, accepting that for now. “Okay, I guess we still need to pack don’t we?” Martha smiled, that they could do together.

~~~~~~~~~~

The sun was just breaking over the horizon, turning to world golden around Rose as she leaned again the terrace wall. It seemed as if she’d lived a lifetime since sunrise the morning before, and in a way she had. The very long day was catching up with her finally as she waited for the Doctor to get back from the Family’s ship and Martha to join her outside.

She didn’t need to think about how much her life had changed in the last twenty-four hours, she felt every bit of it. Even though she kept John’s journal close at hand, she didn’t need to; the mingled joy and guilt it inspired were hardly out of mind without it. Eventually she’d read through it to find out what other parts of the Doctor had slipped through into John’s mind, but right now it just represented a chapter of her life that was over.

She didn’t regret that it was over, not really. Being ‘Anne’ wasn’t something she would miss; she never wanted to feel that helpless at basic things ever again; but if the cost of finding her way back where she belonged was a few months of living that life it was worth it. And she knew this feeling that she’d lost something would fade sooner rather than later. But right now she almost felt she had messed things up.

The Doctor emerged from the Family’s ship and it decloaked as it launched itself skyward. He smiled as he walked up to her and she smiled back; whatever confused feelings she might have for her memories of John, there was no denying she was glad to have the Doctor back. “You’re sure they won’t escape?” she asked again as he slid his hand into her waiting one.

“They’ve got weeks at most left, even if they could get out of their pods in that time they wouldn’t be able to fix the ship before it burned up in the sun.” The Doctor had decided that would be a better solution than waiting for any authorities to collect the Family. It wouldn’t cut their lives short by much but they wouldn’t be able to harm anyone else. Once they were out of their host bodies they were harder to keep sedated, but the Doctor had done something to lock down their energy pods so they couldn’t exert control over their ship.

Rose hadn’t been inclined to argue. Besides what she had seen of the Family’s actions, so far there had been no sign of Lucy Cartwright’s parents or Mrs. Clark, and Rose’s instincts told her they weren’t going to be found. In their quest to steal the Doctor’s life for their family they had destroyed other families who got in their way. Letting them live with their death looming over them was no worse than they’d done and probably better than they deserved.

“Doctor...” Rose started, determined to at least address what had happened between them, but she struggled to find the words. “Doctor, how much of it was really us?”

He looked at her, not with surprise but love so obvious that it almost answered her question enough. He reached up and pushed a lock of hair away from her face – if he’d noted that she needed to dye her hair again he hadn’t mentioned it. “All of it that matters,” he said softly.

For a man who had never been able to say the words ‘I love you’ that was a heavy sentence and she was tempted to take him right there, but before she could do more than squeeze his hand the door opened and Martha and Richard walked out to join them.

Rose could see a day she would regret asking Martha to stay with them if the other woman developed a habit of interrupting her and the Doctor. But for now she and the Doctor took a step apart in front of their friends. “Come on Martha, let’s give these two a minute,” the Doctor said and beckoned Martha to follow him.

Rose smiled as they walked away, leaving just her and Richard standing there. But her smile faded as she looked back at her rescuer; she hated goodbyes. “I haven’t really said thank you.”

“You have, often,” Richard reminded her.

“Well, not since I became me again. And I mean for everything. For finding me, and taking me in, for bringing me here, and always telling me I’d remember one day. Not that you could have imagined what I’d remember.”

“But you imagined it,” he said. His voice carried meaning in it, but Rose couldn’t follow what it was. “The story you told the girls, about the princess who saved her prince, now I’m sure that was you remembering.”

Rose smiled, “Yeah, it was. Stories can be important like that,” she added, thinking of John’s diary and the clues it had held.

“So you’re happy with who you remembered you are?” he asked. She nodded certainly. “That was all I wanted for you.”

Unable to resist, Rose ran and hugged him. He hugged her back just as fiercely, he’d seldom held her quite so tightly before. “You can always come back, you know that right” he told her.

Rose nodded; he’d promised she wouldn’t lose him, whatever happened. And with her real family in another universe, it was nice to know she had a kind of family here. Thinking of Jackie made her hold tighter to Richard; none of them would ever know that she’d made it home. “You should know that we only pop up unexpectedly,” she warned him, teasing though her voice shook.

Richard chuckled, “Then I won’t expect you for Christmas dinner.”

“Nothing’s impossible,” Rose told him. Everything that had happened recently proved that as much as anything she’d ever seen. She backed a step away from him and the silence stretched on a moment too long to be comfortable. “Do you want to see the magic box?”

He considered for a moment. “I don’t think so,” he decided. “I think I’ve had enough of the stories coming real tonight.”

“It’s morning,” she pointed out with a grin.

“Oh go on, your handsome prince is waiting.”

With another sad smile Rose walked away, glancing back before she turned out of sight and waved again. She couldn’t be sure they’d ever come back, but for now she needed to hope they would. The Doctor would understand, she suspected he already did.

The TARDIS was much closer to the school now, but it still took a few minutes to walk there. And the Doctor was waiting at the door for her. She fell into his arms again, and he held her, offering silent comfort. “It’ll be alright,” he told her.

“Doctor alright, or really alright?” she asked.

She felt as much as saw him smile sadly. “I’ve missed you,” he said, his voice full of meaning she could easily understand.

“That’ll be really alright,” she assured him. He nodded, she could see some of their time apart still hung on him, but happiness steadily replaced it, and they had time to drive it fully away from their memories.

They walked into the TARDIS hand in hand, the way they always liked to come home at the end of an adventure. The Doctor went to the consol and Rose patted the TARDIS coral, to Martha’s confusion and the Doctor’s grin.

“So, Martha, where to next?” the Doctor said pointedly.

Martha looked between the two of them and finally came to a decision. “I’ve heard the Romans throw a good party,” she said. Her smile was a little forced, but her voice was resolved and Rose smiled. She and Martha shared a look, the Doctor wouldn’t necessarily understand, but the women did. It wouldn’t be easy, but they could do this.

“You should see the New Romans,” the Doctor said, spinning the controls. “Are you sure you wouldn’t rather visit them?”

“Whatever you like,” Martha shrugged. Wherever they went, it was bound to be an interesting story one day.

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jedi_of_urth

October 2013

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