Summary: The Valiant Child, who will die in battle so very soon... Does the Beast speak prophecy or lie? AU of TIP/TSP, Ten/Rose
Fandom: Doctor Who
Spoilers and/or Warnings: Nothing beyond The Impossible Planet/The Satan Pit, with a reference to Family of Blood.
Title, Author and URL of original story: Shadows Cast by seriousfic.
Notes: Many thanks to my beta mrv3000, whose advice made this so much better than it otherwise would have been. There's a bit of Doctor Who "science" in here, but I hope it's just a (fairly) logical extrapolation of something in canon.
She hears a whisper in the night. Lying still on the cot, exhausted but unable to sleep, she hears it.
"Rose Tyler," it says.
She sits up, swings her feet out to rest on the floor. It's dark, and her hand fumbles for a light. "Doctor?" she calls, though the voice had sounded nothing like him.
But he, gone exploring around the base after their awkward conversation about mortgages and determined for her to get some sleep, doesn't answer. Still, she hears it again.
"Rose Tyler," it says. "Don't turn on the light. Don't look at me."
"Who are you?" she asks, standing up and starting to move forward. "What do you mean, don't look at you? Why not?"
"Don't look at me!" it snarls, and she freezes, her hand outstretched. Something inside her quakes at the sound.
"Who are you?" she repeats.
"I'm right beside you," it says. "Don't look at me. If you look at me, you will die."
"Oh yeah?" she asks. Ridiculous, she tries to scoff. What does this voice think it is? "What're you doing here? Tell me who you are an' what you want!"
Something inside her still fears. She ignores it. "Well? You scared?"
"I'm right beside you, Rose," it says again.
The fear grows, but so does her determination. She walks forward and slaps her hand against the pad on the wall that controls the light. The room brightens, and she looks around.
There's nothing there.
She sighs, thoroughly creeped out, missing the Doctor, and wanting to go home, though she's not sure whether she means her mum's flat or the TARDIS. She wants away from the claustrophobia-inducing Sanctuary Base, away from this impossible planet, away from the black hole that gapes open like a horrible beast's mouth. "It just eats," the Doctor had said.
She raises her hand to turn the light off again, resolved to try and calm her adrenaline-spiked body and get at least some sleep, but then she stops. Her hand -- there are strange markings on her hand. Markings like that weird language the Doctor couldn't identify by the Welcome To Hell sign.
She turns her hand over, and the markings are there too. Frantically she checks her other hand, then pulls up the sleeves of her hoodie.
Her body is covered with markings.
Suddenly, something presses against her brain, and she stumbles backwards until she falls against the bed. She curls up on top of it, feeling her body start to shake. She tries to stop it, tries to push the pressure away from her mind, but she can't.
It overwhelms her. And the last thing she notices before the darkness engulfs her is a deep voice, laughing in triumph.
Rose wakes, hands on her shoulders shaking her into consciousness. She opens her eyes, feeling strangely light-headed and fuzzy, to see the Doctor looking down at her in worry.
"Doctor?" Slowly she sits up, trying to blink the fuzziness away. It doesn't work. "Is something wrong?"
"Rose Tyler." His voice is light -- carefully light, she notices. "I knew you could sleep through a lot, but a hull breach is something new. Didn't you feel the base shake?"
"It shook? Like when we first came?"
He nods. "I was talking to the Ood -- and there's something going on there, I think -- when the hull was breached. I don't know what happened; I just came here to find you. And you -- you slept through the whole thing." His voice is fond now, and she smiles.
"It's this planet, I think," she tells him. "It's really throwin' me off. What's going on with the Ood?"
"I don't know," he says, frowning. "You remember that odd transmission your phone picked up? I told Danny what it said, and the Ood responded 'and you will worship him'. Like saying 'he is awake' is some sort of trigger. Though what the trigger is for--"
"Hey, you two." Rose and the Doctor turn their heads to see Ida in the doorway. "You haven't see Scooti, have you?"
Rose shakes her head while the Doctor says, "Nope. Why? Is she missing?"
"Yeah, we--" Ida starts to say, but then her wristcomm crackles and Zack's voice says, "She's all right. I picked up her bio chip; she's in Habitation Three.
Better go and check if she's not responding -- she might be unconscious."
Ida's shoulders relax, and she smiles. "Well, that's all right then. Sorry to disturb you."
"No, it's all right," Rose says, standing up. "We'll go with you." There's something nagging her about Scooti, some strange flashes of dream. Seeing Scooti again would probably clear her mind.
But when they get to Habitation Three, Scooti isn't there. Jefferson is barking into his wristcomm and everyone else wanders around as if she might pop out from behind a table or rise up from beneath the floor. Then the Doctor says, "I found her," and Rose looks up.
Scooti floats above them, clearly on the outside of the protective glass, just as if she were underwater. She is just as clearly dead, her skin white and her eyes lifeless.
In the background, Rose can hear Ida and Jefferson talking, but she doesn't hear what they're saying. Instead, her mind fixes on flashes of the dream she had: herself, outside without a suit, her skin shivering and almost dancing to feel the open space with all its variety, bits of so many different things all drawn together by the black hole. The black hole draws everything together, pulls everything towards it -- towards her, and she welcomes them, they are hers, everything is hers....
And so is Scooti. Scooti tries to pull back, to run away, but she is drawn just as everything is drawn, and she cannot fight it. Nothing can. Scooti tries to fight, but she wants to give in, as everything will eventually give in....
Rose swallows against a suddenly dry throat. Above her, Scooti's body starts to drift away, but Rose can still see the dreadful longing on that lifeless face.
The drill stops.
The last thing she knew, the Doctor was talking about that language he couldn't translate, and the next thing Rose sees is the barrel of a gun, pointed directly at her.
She raises her hand to try and swat it away, but its owner holds it steadily on her, and her hand drops. "What're you doing?" she demands. Her voice is rough and her throat feels slightly sore. Her head is even fuzzier than it was earlier.
"You're infected," Jefferson says coldly. "You brought that thing on board."
Her eyes widen. What thing? She looks around, then sees the bodies of several Ood, and remembers. Remembers something uncoiling inside her until it overwhelmed her, shoving her own self back until it had control. It stole her voice, used it to speak terrible prophecy. It brought out words of that same prophecy writ on her own skin. And then it shoved her completely into darkness as it reached out to the Ood as well.
"You're -- you're not going to shoot her, are you?" Danny asks. His voice squeaks.
"If necessary," Jefferson replies.
"Now, none of that," the Doctor's voice says from the comm. Rose relaxes at hearing it, even the tone of fear/rage she detects in it. The Doctor's all right.
"It's the two of you!" Jefferson accuses. "We were all right until you two got here, and now I've lost three of my men and the Ood have gone insane and you still haven't even properly explained how you even got here! Give me one good reason why I should not shoot this girl right here!"
"Because that will make me angry, and I promise you, you do not want to make me angry," the Doctor coolly replies. Rose knows that voice, and knows that if Jefferson has any intelligence at all, he will listen to it.
"Hey," she huffs, standing up. She feels more dignified and less helpless standing. "I was fine before I ever got here. I dunno what's going on, but promise, we didn't bring it with us. I think it was here, maybe trapped in that civilization below us or something, and your drilling let it loose."
"We don't know that--" Jefferson argues.
"But you don't know that I'm wrong!" Rose interrupts. "I mean, it makes sense, don't it? You said you didn't even know what the power source was that you came here for! It could be this exact thing!"
She shivers, even as she argues. Power that thing definitely had, in abundance.
"There we go, a reasonable explanation," the Doctor says, almost cheerfully. Rose knows, however, the difference between his cheerful voice and his almost-cheerful voice, and knows that he's still worried about her, and angry, and afraid. She wishes there weren't ten miles of solid rock between them so she could reassure him that she's all right now, even if her head is still sorta fuzzy. "Rose?"
"I'm all right, Doctor," she says, still wanting to reach out and take his hand. "Whatever it was, it passed into the Ood, yeah?" She glances at the other three. Jefferson stands stoic, suspicion still etched into his face, but Danny and Toby nod. "It's gone. Can't say I'm happy it decided to use me to get to the Ood, but it's not here anymore."
"Good," the Doctor says shortly, but Rose knows that the minute he gets back up he's going to be running as many tests on her as he can. She thinks she can deal with that.
She's so looking forward to getting him back up and has serious plans to let him hold her until the taint of the Beast's rage and darkness are nothing more than the memory of a dream. She wants to tuck her head against his throat and breathe in his unique scent, not at all human but still comforting and familiar. She really, really wants to hold his hand, and imagines it until she can almost feel his long, cool fingers clasping hers.
Then the lights go out.
Once in the tunnels, Jefferson sticks close behind Rose, as if he's determined not to let her out of his sight. Even when the Ood start following them, he brings out his gun and pulls the trigger a few times, but doesn't let Rose get too far ahead of him.
She blanks out a bit when they get to Junction 9.2 and the Ood almost get them, but she dismisses it as working on autopilot -- after so long with the Doctor, it's almost instinct to protect her companions and get away from whatever's chasing her.
She dismisses it, but inside, she's afraid. She's had too many blanks recently. The Beast passed into the Ood, she knows it did, that's why the Ood went crazy -- but maybe...
She's fine. She is. She was possessed, but now she's not. And the Beast isn't the actual devil, it's just some powerful primordial alien thing that wants to get away from this stupid black hole, and Rose can't really blame it for that because even now she can feel the black hole pulling at her, wanting her, wanting to devour her whole and let not even the smallest part of her free.
She's afraid, and she wants her Doctor. But right now all she has is herself, and that'll have to be enough, until they can get him back on the comms and find a way to get him out of that pit.
He said her name, and he fell.
What does that mean? The Doctor wouldn't just fall. Not the Doctor.
Not the way Rose is falling, the black hole reaching out, the Beast reaching up --
It rushes past her, shoving her behind it. It takes her, takes her and fills her with itself, until she's only the smallest part of it. She's aware of it now, as she wasn't before. His possession of her no longer feels like a dream -- instead, it's harsh, sharp reality.
She wants to move her fingers, and she can't. She wants to raise her voice to warn the others, and she can't. She wants to jump down both holes into this planet until she finds the Doctor and holds onto him with everything she has, and she can't.
She can feel its thoughts, and they terrify her. Only the smallest part of its thoughts, she realises, because the Beast is so overwhelming and beyond her that to feel all of it would be to burn herself up in the fire of its regard. She instinctively shies away from that, remembering the feel of burning though not from where, and holds herself back. Still, she can feel the smallest part of its thoughts, and, trapped inside herself, she shivers.
It is time, it crows. The Gates are about to open, and it shall be free. The presence of these mortals, infinitesimal in proportion to its greatness, is significant only in that they will witness its resurgence, and shall have the honour of being the first to be devoured.
They shriek, these tiny things. They shriek and point and attempt to harm it with weapons, but they are nothing compared to it, and it is a small matter to take the gun away and throw it down the shaft, to grab the needle out of the Captain's hands, to knock them all unconscious with a simple pinch of the utterly responsive nerves in a fragile human's neck.
It sees the probabilities. Nothing can see the future as if it were immutable stone, but it can taste the possibilities, see how deeply their paths are cut, and know which is most likely to occur. If it had let the Captain and his crew take the Rose-host to the rocket, it might have survived and been freed, but it might have been tossed into the great open blackness to be devoured itself. Instead, it makes another choice, one that it can see gives it a greater chance of survival.
It will keep them here, and wait, for he is coming, the one who knows it better than all the rest ever could. The one who knows death better than he knows life, whatever his pretensions otherwise. The one who knows Time almost as well as it does itself. And the one who shall soon rediscover the living ship that shall bear it away from its prison of several billion years.
Rose watches, an observer in her own mind, as the thing possessing her body feigns unconsciousness with it, the prophecy marks fading into nothing on her skin. It is not long until she hears the sound of the universe, the distinctive grinding of the TARDIS materialising in the distance.
She listens as the TARDIS settles, as the steps of Converse-clad feet approach, as the computer announces every time a door is opened or closed. She listens, and waits, and the Beast waits with her.
Finally the last door opens, and the footsteps first stop, then rush towards her. Familiar hands clasp onto her shoulders and lift her up, and the voice she longed to hear says, "Rose! Come on, Rose, wake up and tell me you're all right. I found the TARDIS again, you know. There she was, waiting for me at the bottom of the Pit. There was also the Beast's body and the lock on his cell, but I decided that coming back up here was the first priority. Rose?"
Under ordinary circumstances, or at least somewhat less dire ones, Rose would have been ecstatic to listen to him babble, to just rest in his arms and let his voice wash over her. But not now, not when the thing controlling her body is just waiting for an opportunity to take the TARDIS and escape, and her Doctor has no idea that what he clutches in his arms is going to betray him the first chance it gets.
Against her will, her body stirs as the thing inside it pretends to regain consciousness. Her arms twitch, and her head tosses slightly. Her eyes blink, then open more fully, focusing on the Doctor.
"Hello there," he says, beaming at her softly -- exactly the way he did after the first time she was possessed. This is so similar -- she's in his arms, and he's looking at her as though nothing else exists in the whole universe but her -- but the differences are enough to break her heart. The thing inside her hasn't left her. It's just a better actor than Cassandra ever was.
Her mouth opens, and she tries to use it to warn him, but instead it says, "Hello," the traitorous thing.
"What happened?" he asks, helping her to her feet and looking around at the bodies arrayed around them. He lets her go to check their pulses.
"I'm not sure," the Beast says, as Rose helplessly observes. "Something knocked us out. Might've been the Ood, but dunno why they wouldn't just kill us."
"There aren't any Ood in here," he says, returning to her side. "They all seem to be unconscious in the corridors."
The Beast shrugs. "Dunno," it says again. "Looks I was too busy sleeping to find out what was going on."
He nods. "You seem to be doing that a lot recently," he teases. Rose's attention sharpens, though she hides it from the Beast. Is the Doctor figuring it out? Cassandra hadn't fooled him for long. The Beast may be smarter than Cassandra, but it can't know her Doctor that well if it thinks it's going to make an easy escape. The Doctor will figure it out, and he'll stop it.
"It's the black hole," the Beast says. "Dunno what it's doing to me, but..." It shudders. "I hate it. I want to leave. An' I think you owe me several dozen beach and shopping planets, for this."
He laughed. "Maybe we should retire the randomiser for awhile, yeah? All right. Back to the TARDIS, and I'll take you to the beach."
Rose screams to herself inside her head, because she can't scream to the Doctor. He walks away, and the Beast follows, and Rose can't stop either of them. They pick their way around the Ood, who remain cooperatively unconscious, and when they approach the TARDIS, the Doctor darts ahead. The Beast is satisfied to walk more slowly, smug in its deception and anticipating its triumph.
It is taken completely by surprise when, upon walking into the TARDIS, the Doctor's hand darts out and pinches those same nerves that the Beast itself used against the Sanctuary Base crew not so long ago. But Rose cannot maintain consciousness anymore than can the Beast, and she slides into blackness almost before she can register the fact that the Doctor was not fooled.
"If you're really Rose, I'm sorry about this," Rose hears as awareness returns. "But if you're really Rose, you'd understand."
"Unnerstand what?" the Beast slurs, now as awake as Rose. It tries to move, but only a metallic clinking is the result of its struggles. It looks down to see itself wrapped in chains. Very strong chains. "Doctor, what's going on?"
"The Beast," the Doctor replies, enunciating the word clearly. He crouches down a few feet away from it. "I don't know how old it is because 'before time' is not a very useful frame of reference, but while I may be young compared to it, I'm not that young. I've seen a few possessions in my time, and not just Cassandra. I'm so sorry, Rose." He reaches out to brush a few strands of hair away from her forehead in a heartbreakingly tender gesture, but though his voice and fingers are gentle, his eyes are hard. "Getting possessed seems to be something of a hazard for people travelling with me."
"But I'm not possessed anymore," the Beast says, sounding confused. "It passed out of me into the Ood, remember?"
He nods slowly. "I remember. But I also noticed that it possessed all of the Ood at once. Now, that may just be because they're connected telepathically, but maybe not. Maybe the Beast just has one of the strongest minds I've ever encountered, which really wouldn't surprise me. But maybe, just maybe, the Beast is strong enough to possess you and a bunch of Ood, all at the same time. I couldn't take the chance."
"What do I have to do to prove it's me?" the Beast asks, rattling the chains a bit. Rose thinks that if she could grit her teeth, she'd be doing just that.
"See, that's a difficult question," the Doctor answers, standing up again. "But to be honest, I don't think I'm talking to Rose at all. I'm just going to assume I'm addressing the Beast now, shall I?" He flashes a grin, completely free from amusement, and starts pacing. "Because for one thing, you still can't explain the bout of unconsciousness the crew suffered a few minutes ago, can you? Not to mention the fact that Rose would never have just left them without knowing they're all right -- that seems to be a big flaw with you possessing types, doesn't it? You, Beast, are better at understanding people than most, but I think you've been trapped so long that you've gotten sloppy. Cassandra was the same way. You're just too self-centred. Not your fault, I suppose, but you just can't seem to understand Rose's compassion."
It can't suppress a snarl, and the Doctor smiles coldly. "You are nothing to Rose," he says clearly, and Rose thrills to hear it. "I don't care if you're the devil. I don't care if you were alive before Time began. It obviously hasn't taught you anything about life, or about people. Maybe you can see the fears and the darkness in people's hearts, but you're blind if you can't see the light as well, the light my Rose sees so clearly.
"I'll tell you right now, I will find a way to banish you if it takes me the rest of my very long life. I'll fight you, and if you know me at all, you know I don't like to lose. And what's more, if I know Rose, and I assure you that I know her better than you do, then she'll be fighting you too. And if you don't yet know the lengths Rose will go to in order to win, then I look forward to seeing you learn."
Suddenly his smile thaws, and his eyes are warm and soft again. "Don't worry, Rose," he says. "I will find a way to save you. I promise."
He leans forward and kisses her on her forehead, and though the Beast is in control of her body, Rose takes the warmth and emotion of that gesture into herself. Because the Doctor's right -- she will fight. And she will win.
Anything else is simply not an option.
At first, the Beast keeps trying to convince the Doctor that it's Rose.
"Doctor, I want to see my mum," it says, obviously not above begging under its pretense. "It's been so long since I've called. She'll be worried."
"She'll be worried even more if what I take home to her isn't her daughter," the Doctor replies. His eyes are troubled, though, and Rose knows that he's recalling his promise to her mother to always bring her home. She wants to reassure him that she knows he'll do it eventually, and wants to cry when she can't.
In the background, Zack, Ida, Jefferson, Danny, and Toby prepare to leave, each nervous, and glancing at the Beast suspiciously. But it's wrapped tightly in the Doctor's chains, and can't hurt them except with words. And it's not ready to use words yet, not when it's still trying to convince the Doctor to let it go.
"I mean," it says, "I understand that the universe has to be kept safe. But Doctor, what if the Beast really isn't possessing me? What if it's gone? It don't look like there's anything I can do to prove to you it's me, so are you just going to keep me chained up here for the rest of my life?"
"Actually," he says, "you can prove that it's you. Not actively, though. Now that the TARDIS has recovered from her little jaunt to the center of the planet, her telepathic bonds are reasserting themselves. She's using the field to protect the Ood from you, and she can see inside your mind. Enough to tell that what should be there isn't, at least. So I know you want to be free, but you're not fooling anyone."
That's when the Beast lets the mask slip, lets the prophecy marks return, and glares balefully at the Doctor with red eyes.
It roars, but the Doctor stands his ground, and Rose takes heart.
The Sanctuary Base crew have left, and somehow the Doctor persuaded them to leave behind their Ood. But then, Rose muses, it probably wasn't that difficult, not after the crew having witnessed the Ood possessed and trying to kill them.
Now all that's left on the impossible planet, still impossibly orbiting its black hole, are the Doctor, the Ood, and the Beast. And Rose, but she begins to despair with every moment trapped within herself. The Doctor tries to persuade the Beat to leave her of its own accord, but he has no success.
"I am eternal," it says, twisting Rose's voice into a hoarse parody of itself. "I am darkness, and fear, and rage, and pain. I cannot be defeated!"
"Maybe not," the Doctor replies, "but you can be contained."
"Yes," the Beast says, "but for how long?"
"But will it be forever?" It tilts its head back. "Look, Doctor. See your Rose before you. Will you let her be trapped with me forever?"
"You know I won't," the Doctor says. "But I will find a way to free Rose and leave you trapped. I have plenty of time."
"You may," the Beast agrees. "But does she? Such a fragile human you've let into your heart, Doctor. So easily are they injured, and so quickly they die. This one has at most seven or eight decades, and then she'll be gone. Will you leave her to spend those decades in chains, assuming I do not devour what spirit remains long before this body reaches physical death?"
"And the alternative is to let you use her to free yourself and unleash you upon a helpless universe until you no longer need her body at all and just kill her?" the Doctor answers dryly.
"She will grow old," the Beast croons. "You will watch her grow old and decay, knowing that though she lives, she is not truly alive. She is prevented from the life that you both love, and you, the one to whom she is closest, are her jailer. Her executioner. Are you going to watch her die, Doctor?"
"No," the Doctor snaps. "I'm not."
The Beast laughs. "How will you prevent it? That always was the problem, wasn't it, Doctor? The curse of the Time Lords?" It laughs again. Rose thinks it sounds like a B-movie villain.
"For most of her life, I can't," the Doctor agrees. "She'll grow old, and if she stays with me, I'll watch her die. And I won't deny that that will be very hard. But for now, at least, there's something I can do."
The Doctor smirks. "Have you not noticed your chains, or were those not around before you were first trapped? They're unbreakable, and forged in the heart of a dwarf star. They have an interesting quality, you know -- they actually inhibit cellular growth and decay. It's not a practical solution for everyday use, since you pretty much have to be completely wrapped in the chains for it to work, but there you go. As long as you're in those, Rose's body won't age. We both have all the time we need to defeat you."
"And what does defeating me look like?" the Beast snarls at him. "I cannot be destroyed. How do you propose to contain me again once I'm out of your beloved precious human?"
The Doctor doesn't even flinch at the words, and Rose would have caught her breath, had she been in control over her breathing. Her Doctor is now a far cry from the man who ran away at the end of an awkward relationship conversation so long and such a short time ago. She's not even sure what to think, what to hope. But there are bigger problems to face now, and time to think about her relationship with the Doctor later.
"I don't know yet," the Doctor tells the Beast calmly. "But I will think of one. Rose? Keep fighting. I believe in you."
He leaves, and the snarl on the Beast's face doesn't leave until he's out of sight.
Keep fighting, the Doctor tells her. She wants to, knows she needs to -- but how?
The Beast is so strong. The proximity of its mind to hers terrifies her, because she knows that its mind is beyond her understanding, and to try would be to destroy herself in the attempt. She can't win in a straight fight, and she figures that she's just going to have to be sneaky about it.
But still the question is, what can she do? How can she possibly get rid of the Beast when it doesn't want to leave?
She thinks about what would get her to leave some place. There's force, but force is definitely out, considering the Beast would eat her for lunch. There's boredom, but she doesn't think it very likely that the Beast is going to get bored, not when it's been trapped for billions of years already and is closer to freedom now than it's ever been. There's making it uncomfortable, but she has no idea how to do that without attracting its attention, which would get her squashed.
There's also convincing it that it'd be better off possessing someone else, but it's too smart for that. It knows that she's its best insurance, because the Doctor would never hurt her. The Ood he would toss out the airlock -- he'd hate it, but he'd do it. The Sanctuary Base crew are gone, but even they would have been more expendable to him than Rose. And if it tries to possess the Doctor, he'd probably send her home with Emergency Programme One and just sacrifice himself.
She's the only one he won't sacrifice, though Rose knows from the Beast's thoughts that killing its host might very well kill it, or at least trap it for good. Rose thinks it likely that the Doctor knows that as well.
Still, he's doing the stupid thing, and trying to find a way to free her. Rose isn't sure if she loves him or resents him for it. She wants to be free, of course, but her life is nothing compared to the rest of the universe. And every moment he leaves her alive, he gives the Beast a chance to get free.
But, trapped as she is, she can't even tell him to kill her. If he'd do it even then, which she isn't sure about.
No, her best option is still to fight. She just doesn't know how.
Time passes. She tried counting the days at first, but this planet doesn't have a sun, and her circadian rhythms are messed up from travelling on the TARDIS, so she lost track quickly.
She doesn't know how long it's been. It feels like years, but she's not sure if it really has been, or if it's just her despair drawing out the hours.
The Doctor took her -- took the Beast, rather -- down in the planet, and into the Pit, to reunite the Beast's intelligence with its proper body. That didn't do anything but make the Beast laugh, both with her body and with its own, but the Doctor wasn't fazed. He brought it back up to just above the pit, then pulled a few comforts, like a bed and some pillows, out of the TARDIS, and set up a little room down there.
Twice a day he unchains her, to let her use the loo and wash up and change her clothes. The first few times the Beast tried to attack him, but he was always ready for it, and eventually it stopped.
The Ood repaired the lift, and the Doctor makes the trek to and from the base several times a day. Rose isn't sure what he does when he's not with her, but she figures he's probably researching. She thinks of him, all alone in his library on the TARDIS, and aches so much to join him there, to go back to their comfortable days of reading together in the library, her with a magazine or a trashy romance novel he always sniffs over, and him with whatever strikes his fancy at the moment.
She's a long way away from the library right now.
When the Doctor comes, the Beast snarls and curses him in a thousand languages, almost all of which Rose has never heard of, most of which she can understand because of the TARDIS. It does not give her any comfort. When the Beast curses him in a musical language, apparently tonal, and one of the ones she can't understand, something always flickers in the Doctor's eyes. She wonders if it's his language, and that now the only way he hears it is curses from the thing that possesses his companion.
Occasionally the Beast still tries to persuade the Doctor to let it go, but he is steadfast in his refusal, and the Beast's attempts have lessened.
When the Doctor brings food, it's usually her favourites. Haggis and tatties, which he and her mum both think are awful. Beans on toast. Shepherd's pie. And, of course, chips. She wishes she could show him how thankful she is.
God, there's so much she wishes she could show him. She'd known before how devoted to her he is, but this dwarfs everything else he's done for her. Day after day he treks back and forth between the base and where she's chained, faced with the utterly thankless task of dealing with the Beast, who snarls and spits at him wearing her body. He has no companionship but the Ood and the Beast, and Rose aches for him so much, because she knows how he needs people, how he thrives with friends and wilts without them.
Still he doesn't seem deterred, or even discouraged. He just keeps working, keeps trying to free her. Keeps going through a horrible, monotonous, thankless routine -- almost the antithesis of everything the Doctor is -- for her sake, for the hope of some day having her back.
She loves him. So often she despairs, but she loves him, and she knows now how much he loves her as well.
So, for him, she'll find a way to fight.
The hours have all blended together until it really might have been years when Rose first gets an inkling of how she might defeat the Beast. When it occurs to her, if she could have hit herself for not realising it sooner, she would have.
The Beast curses in a thousand languages, and Rose understands most of them because the TARDIS translates for her. The Doctor knew the Beast was still there because the TARDIS told him so.
The TARDIS is the key, and it always has been. The TARDIS translates for her, and gives her a psychic boost, and immunity or higher tolerance for almost all the diseases floating around in time and space. The TARDIS has a telepathic bond with her, with her. If she can find a way to use that bond, the TARDIS could help her get free of the Beast.
And the TARDIS has helped her once before, at least. She doesn't remember much of that time, beyond the light and the warmth and the singing and the driving need to save the Doctor, but though these are very different circumstances, she thinks the TARDIS will help her again. Her Doctor is still at stake -- maybe not his life this time, but his essential core. The Doctor needs his freedom just as much as Rose does, if not more, and he's as trapped here as she is, for all that he's choosing to be.
Rose will find a way to set him free.
It takes her awhile to figure out how to actually use her bond with the TARDIS. She has pretty much no experience with telepathy, or mental powers at all. She tried getting to the bond by searching inside her own mind, but trying to find a psychic bond is very different from just introspection, and she spends a lot of time fumbling.
Eventually she finds it, and doesn't know how she could have missed it before. It shines in her mind, golden and glowing, singing the beautifully eerie song she can still sometimes hear in her dreams. It's stronger than she thought it would be, for just helping her with translating and giving her a booster shot.
But it's beautiful, and though she's still trapped, a part of her cries out with relief just to feel something beautiful again, here inside her mind where the Beast and its darkness have made themselves so comfortable.
It takes her longer still to figure out how to actually use her bond with the TARDIS. She knows the Doctor communicates with the TARDIS in his own way, but she never has, and always figured humans couldn't. They just weren't equipped properly.
Now she thinks that maybe they can, they just don't know how. She doesn't, but she's learning. So far, singing has gotten her the best response, and even that was barely more than a flicker she interpreted as the TARDIS being startled.
Ever since then, though, the TARDIS has been listening to her, as they both try to bridge the gap. The TARDIS seems as unused to listening to humans as humans to the TARDIS, so they both fumble.
But Rose feels they're making progress. As time passes, as the Doctor grows wearier and grey begins to speckle his hair, Rose feels her bond with the TARDIS solidifying to the point where they can actually communicate with each other. With a bit more time, the TARDIS will be able to feed her strength, and to help her shield against the raw power of the Beast's mind.
And the Beast hasn't noticed. It preoccupies itself with the Doctor and with its own dark plans, and doesn't even notice her, or the light she carefully nurtures in her mind.
That will be its undoing. She's not going to challenge it before she knows she's ready, so Rose prepares herself very, very carefully, because there's so much at stake. Herself, her Doctor -- even the TARDIS, now.
There's so much at stake, but this is one battle that Rose Tyler is going to win.
Rose takes a deep mental breath, more to steady herself than out of any real need. But it's time. She's as ready as she's going to get. The Beast has ignored her for so long, and it's going to regret that.
It doesn't take much to get its attention now. She launches her first assault, mental waves of golden fire that she directs to sweep towards the Beast's mind. It's the TARDIS's fire, and she's just a conduit, but she's learned how to control it.
The Beast is caught completely by surprise, Rose can feel, but it recovers in a moment, and bears down on her with a pressure that is somehow snarling and black. But Rose can use the TARDIS's energy to defend as well as attack, and she does, and she wraps herself in a warm cocoon of light, positive power. She feels confident, gleefully anticipating the return of her body, and the Beast's darkness and despair can't reach her.
Puny human! it roars. You think to defy me?
I more than think! Rose shoots back. I am! This is my body, you bastard!
Rose doesn't usually swear, but she thinks the situation calls for it. And she doesn't give the Beast another moment to reply before attacking again.
She attacks not with her rage and hatred, hard as they are to push back as she fights. But rage and hatred and all the other negative emotions are the Beast's strength, and to use them as weapons against him would be to see him take those weapons and use them against her instead.
I am going to beat you, she declares, because I have so much reason to. With that, she throws a javelin of memory, filled with the TARDIS's energy and her own emotion. Her father in the church, kissing her on the forehead and taking responsibility for her mistake because it was his job as her father and he was going to do it. The memory was filled with grief and pain, but also with so much love and pride that the Beast flinched.
Another javelin of memory -- Shireen, Keisha, and Rose at the pub, laughing loudly and filled with nothing but friendship and happiness.
Mickey, watching a football game, so excited and enthusiastic. Rose has never cared much for the game herself, but it always makes her happy to see Mickey so enthralled, so happy himself.
Mickey again, the last time she saw him in the alternate universe. Like the memory of her father, it was filled with grief and pain and love and pride, because as much as it hurt to lose him, and to think she had driven him away, she was so happy for him that he could have found his own place in the universe, and so proud of all he'd accomplished and how much he'd grown, and loved him so much.
Hands clamped on her shoulders and shook her, distracting her from her fight for a moment. The Doctor. Of course it was the Doctor, probably called by the TARDIS to her side. But this was Rose's battle, and the Doctor could help her best by letting her fight it. She sent a desperate plea to the TARDIS, which sent back the impression that she would take care of it.
Rose turned her attention back to the Beast just as it hit her again, taking advantage of her momentary lapse. It pushed against her, showing her her own fears.
Her mother, dead of something mundane, and Rose missing the funeral because she was travelling with the Doctor and couldn't be reached.
Her mother again, dead this time of alien attack, something that had targeted her only because it wanted to get to Rose and the Doctor.
Her mother, saying she was tired of all the alien nonsense and if Rose wanted to keep on with it, she needn't bother visiting any longer.
Mickey, dying in an alternate universe where she would never know.
Mickey, and meeting him again only to hear him tell her that she really did drive him away and he did so much better without her.
The Doctor, leaving her behind because he got bored of her.
The Doctor, regenerating again, this time into someone who wasn't interested in her.
The Doctor, dead and not regenerating.
NO! Rose shouted, needing to stop the images, the emotions. Fear and despair battered her, and she wanted nothing more than to turn her back and huddle against it, protecting herself as best she could.
Instead, she drew on the TARDIS again, surrounding herself with the comforting light and encouraging song. She took a moment to bolster her defenses against the Beast's insidious strikes, but she launched another attack as soon as she felt able.
Memories of her mother, this time. Her mum, holding her close whenever she had a nightmare. Kissing her bruised knees whenever she fell down. Telling her about her father the way he could have been rather than the way he was. Taking care of her when she was sick. Giving her good Christmasses even when the meals would be smaller for the next several weeks. Calling the school and yelling at them when they suspended her for leading the choir on strike. Taking her back after the mess with Jimmy Stone. Letting her go to travel with the Doctor. Driving up in that big yellow truck to help her get back to him. Taking care of him when he regenerated even though she hated him. Always being ready with a hug and a listening ear whenever Rose came home or just needed to talk.
There are so many memories of her mum that Rose just sends them out in waves, and all the emotions that come with them. Frustration and anger and rebelliousness, yes, but most of it pure love and trust and gratitude. Rose feels everything, and thrusts it all at the Beast, who shrinks back.
The TARDIS keeps feeding her energy, and with it she throws more memories at the Beast, but she presses her advantage, and pulls out her best -- her memories of the Doctor.
Her Doctor. Her precious, beloved, silly, adventurous, lonely Doctor. Even now she can feel him, holding her in his arms. The TARDIS warned him away from distracting her, or trying to help her mentally -- if he had tried to link his mental energy to hers the way the TARDIS had, the Beast might have been able to leap into him next, and Rose was not having that -- but he's still there, helping her just with his very presence.
She loves him. She'd thought she loved Jimmy Stone, who was exciting and made wonderful promises, even if he never kept them. She did love Mickey, who was safe and comfortable. She also loved Jack, though she wasn't sure if it was as a lover or as a brother.
But she loves her Doctor. He gave her time, and space, but most of all, he gave her himself. He has so many defenses, but he let hers see his vulnerabilities. He has so much pain, but he lets her do her best to ease it. He's so lonely, but he takes so much joy in her presence.
He fights for her, and showed her how to fight for herself. He taught her that even the most ordinary people can be so important in the scheme of things, and that it doesn't matter if she has no job or education or money, because there's so much she can do, so much she can offer the universe.
He took her hand in his and for a moment she could feel the turn of the Earth. He hesitated on doing what was necessary because it meant she might get hurt. He let a Dalek free because it threatened her. She was the one person he sent home in a situation when everyone was going to die. He woke up out of a regenerative coma because she asked him to help her. He told her that he would never leave her behind. He took her to see an alternate version of her father even though he thought it was a bad idea. He stays here, on this horrible hunk of rock, just because he wants to help her.
He keeps trying to take her to concerts, and is so disappointed when they don't work out. He takes her to beach planets, and very adorably tries not to ogle her in her bathing suit. He takes her shopping, even when it manifestly bores him. He's teaching her to fly the TARDIS.
Her skin tingles when he's near, as if it's trying to reach out to him all by itself. Her smile is so big and so bright when she sees him, and his answering smile just as radiant. Their hands have always fit together so perfectly, whether they were larger and more callused or slightly smaller with longer fingers. He smells so good that she doesn't care how alien the scent is. His touch never fails to warm her.
She loves him so much, and knows he loves her, and for a moment she's so content and secure and immersed in that knowledge that she's surprised when the Beast lets out a sudden shriek.
But she doesn't let it throw her for long. Still wrapped in love and the TARDIS's energy, she grabs her chance and rushes past the stunned Beast, until she can feel herself once more settle into her own skin.
It's not enough, not yet. The Beast is weaker, but still there, and given enough time to recover, it could possess her again. She's not going to let it.
She struggles with the chains still surrounding her body. She needs to get out of these, get down that last hole to where the Beast's body is, or failing that, get the Doctor to take her there. "Doctor!" she says.
"What-- Rose?" he replies, his arms tightening around her for a moment. Normally she'd enjoy that, but right now it's unwelcome.
"Help me!" she demands. "Unchain me -- or get me down that hole -- whichever's quickest."
The Doctor's eyes are wide, but it seems he can tell it's really her, for in a few seconds he shakes off his shock and lifts her easily in his arms, chains and all. He runs towards the pit, and jumps, ignoring the rope that's been left there.
The pit has no particular depth; a leap of faith is required to reach the bottom -- though thankfully not to climb back up; that's what the rope is for, and which Rose knows they will get a chance to use soon enough. The Doctor lands on his feet, and though the impact must have jarred him, all he says is, "Now what, Rose?"
"The body," she grits out. The Beast is fighting her now, and it's all she can do to hold it back. "Get me to the body."
Another few steps and they're there, with the Beast's body roaring at them as if it knows what's happening, even without its mind. The mind certainly knows, and it too is roaring.
Now is the time to connect with the Doctor, to share his strength in pushing the Beast out. Rose lets the TARDIS, who knows best what she's doing, make the link and draw the Doctor in. When he's there, his shock and worry and hope palpable across the connection, Rose takes only a moment to bask in feeling him before she sends him her plan in a flurry of thought-images.
It's only the work of another moment for the Doctor to agree, and then they act. The Beast's mind is still connected to its body, because they are still one being for all that they are currently separated. But now, Rose and the Doctor and the TARDIS grab that connection, strengthen it, and push.
Still the Beast fights them. It sends them fury and despair, images of Rose's death and the Doctor's, of the TARDIS's destruction, of planets burning, and solar systems being sucked into the black hole that still wants nothing more than to eat.
But together, Rose and the Doctor and the TARDIS are stronger. They brush away the Beast's efforts, knowing them for the last gasp of a dying thing, and continue to push.
Then, finally, with a snap, the Beast is gone from Rose, its mind reunited with its body. "No!" it roars. "I cannot be defeated!"
"You've been out of the action for a while," the Doctor quips. "The universe has changed a bit."
Rose laughs, very, very weakly. The TARDIS brushes her gently before backing away, and the Doctor does the same. For a moment she misses them intensely, but then the sensation of being alone in her mind reaches her, and she can't help but sigh with relief. Perhaps later she'll begin to really miss having at least the Doctor and the TARDIS in her mind, but for now she wants to revel in having just herself there.
The Doctor looks down at her, where she is still in his arms. "Well, Rose Tyler," he says, his voice the warmest she's ever heard it, and that's saying something, "you did it. Here all this time I've been searching for the solution, and I should have known it would be you all along."
"You should have," she agrees, somewhat sleepily. She's very tired, though she doesn't want to sleep yet. For one thing, these chains are very uncomfortable. "Can you unchain me now?"
"What-- Oh! Of course!" From the depths of his pockets he pulls a key that looks like wrought iron, but it probably isn't. With it, he unlocks the chains, and helps her pull them off.
When she's free of them, she smiles at him, and reaches up to cup his cheek. "Thank you," she says simply.
"Anytime," he replies, just as simply.
The Beast roars at them, and soon they will have to take care of it, and this impossible planet, permanently. But for now, they ignore it. It's not important.
Rose reaches out, marveling at the feeling of her hand, once again under her own power, just as it should be. She takes the Doctor's hand and entwines their fingers, stroking his thumb with hers.
Finally she can hold his hand again.