A/N: Thank you for the lovely comments and feedback. I really appreciate it. Sorry this chapter is a few days late.
Thank you to Latessitrice, my lovely beta and Lamia, my wonderful pre-reader.
Hope you all enjoy!
In her dream, she was with a man. She didn’t often dream of people, especially people she didn’t recognise. The last dreams she could remember consisted of being chased by robots and chatting with trees, so this was exceptionally strange. He was tall, with dark hair cropped close to his head, and something about him that made her want to run, both far away and as close as she could. He was older than her, in his eyes and his body, full of anger and a something that made her afraid, creating the need to run. But she knew, even though she could see that anger, that it wasn’t really part of him. It was a reaction, a defence and a cross to bear, self-imposed and not what he deserved. She needed him to see this, to understand this, and that was what made her draw nearer. It was only a dream, but this she knew, and it was as true as anything else she claimed to know. He smiled, and she smiled, and it was a time when everything made sense and she knew who she was. But then he let go of her hand, and vanished into the sunlight, and she woke up alone.
The kitchen was chaos. Rose skirted around her brother, who was running around half-dressed while his nanny chased him out of the room. That was strange in itself - usually the staff didn’t turn up until late morning, on Jackie’s instance that the morning was for family only. Rose liked it that way too. She wasn’t really sure what to do around the staff, so had spent the past few months staying out of their way. She wondered how she’d ever managed to get used to this lifestyle in the past.
She entered the kitchen, surveying the mess. Pete was nowhere to be seen, but evidence that he had been here, possibly for a long time, surrounded her. His laptop was on the table, along with three empty coffee mugs, and a plate of crumbs. Stacks of files and his mobile completed the look that screamed ‘Torchwood Crisis.’ Her mother was nowhere to be found, another strange occurrence. Rose shrugged it off though, her need for caffeine and sustenance trumping all else. Yet by the time she’d added milk to cereal and tea, the temptation of the abandoned files sitting at her kitchen table was a little too much to bear.
Taking up Pete’s empty seat, she turned her attention to the nearest file. She wasn’t exactly sure what Torchwood was, except one of the main employers in London, and seemed to have a lot of highly sensitive material. She skimmed the first file she picked up, but didn’t understand a word of it. Feeling decidedly disappointed, she placed it back where it was and went back to her breakfast, picking up another file, just in case. She could understand this one a little better, or at least the surface of it. It was a report on hot spots of Rift activity, listing place names throughout the United Kingdom and ranking them on some sort of scale. She wondered if she should be worried there was one at 47 magnitude only a few miles from where she lived...
The sound of her mother’s voice stopped her train of thought, and she quickly replaced the document on a rather thick folder that was labeled DC/09-15/RT and looked incredibly boring. She stood, taking her breakfast away, making sure she left no evidence of her snooping. The raised voices of her parents floated down the stairs.
“Are they sure it’s really...there?” Jackie asked as Pete walked through the door into the kitchen. Pete smiled when he saw her, but automatically returned to his pile of work. Jackie followed soon after, her face softening when she saw her daughter, but her stance radiated tension.
“I really don’t think you can make a mistake in this case. Don’t worry, it’s contained. I’ll be back later,” he said, kissing Jackie before turning back to his work, collecting everything he needed together.
“Contained? What does that mean?” Rose asked, wondering why that terminology was being used for an office building.
“It means everything is fine,” he replied. Rose glared at his back as he turned and left and couldn’t help but wonder exactly what he was hiding. She’d never really considered that anything about his work could be strange, but now that she thought about it...
“Where the hell is Tony?! This day is a disaster already,” Jackie moaned, breaking into her thoughts.
“I saw him run upstairs...” Rose began, and before she could say anything more, Jackie stormed out of the room and up the stairs, ready to take charge and make sure Tony actually made it to school, despite the disruption of the morning. Rose finished her breakfast and disappeared upstairs, thankful for the quiet.
Three hours later the house was empty, and Rose took a leaf out of her father’s book, and moved her work and books to the kitchen table. She was just about to start stating the three major factors that caused the collapse of the short-lived Portuguese Empire when the phone rang. She answered, surprised to hear Doctor Richardson’s voice.
“I was wondering if you’d be able to come in later,” she explained, “I’d like to discuss a few new developments we’ve had in your case. It would be best if we could meet in person.”
Rose agreed to come to her office, milling around the house and half-heartedly attempting to study in the remaining time. She had no idea what could be important enough for Doctor Richardson to want to see her today, especially so soon after her usual appointment. She couldn’t help but assume something negative had occurred, or they’d missed something crucial on her tests. She debated calling someone, feeling a sudden wish to talk and have someone listen as she fretted and conjured impossible scenarios out of fear and lack of information. But there was no one. Her mother would just panic, and her father was at work, and she didn’t want to disturb him. Plus, she knew he’d probably call Jackie, which was what she avoiding in the first place. Alicia and Charlotte didn’t really know too much about her memory loss, and she wasn’t inclined to start explaining everything. So that was everyone in her life.
She recalled friends she’d had in the past, people from school who she’d spent all her days with as a teenager. Even a boyfriend, Mickey, who she remembered being with before her memories fractured. But none of them appeared to be in her life now, and she had no idea how to contact them. Their numbers weren’t listed in her phone, and it seemed that she had lost touch with them during her missing years. She was completely alone.
Knowing it would do her no good to dwell on this, she gathered her things and drove to the Torchwood building, the radio blasting away any attempt at dark thoughts. She was surprised that when she pulled into the car park for the medical centre to see that it was completely empty. While it was a private clinic, it shouldn’t have been deserted. Climbing out of the car, Rose looked around, searching for anything that might give her a clue as to what was going on. It all seemed...normal, in one sense, except there wasn’t a soul here. It didn’t look as if anything had actually happened to make people leave, yet they obviously had. Rose stood by her car, wondering what exactly she should do. She checked her phone, just in case Doctor Richardson had tried to call her while she was en route, but there was nothing, no messages or missed calls. It was disturbing, and she found herself shivering despite the mild afternoon.
Rose hesitated, looking between her car and the clinic. It would be a sensible idea to leave. Something was obviously very wrong with this picture, and she should be trying to get help, and probably getting as far away as she could. Yet she wasn’t moving. She couldn’t bring herself to just get back into the car and leave again, something about the situation sparking both a curiosity and suspicion that she should be doing something other than running in the opposite direction.
With that thought in mind, she walked forward, occasionally peering round to see if there was any sign of what had occurred. By the time she walked into the building, she was convinced that whatever had happened, everyone had left in a hurry. There were discarded bags and coats littered around the waiting room, proving that at one time, there had been patients here. The computer screens at the reception area were still active, the television playing Copy Cats silently as if nothing were out of sorts. Rose ventured past the reception desk, and through the doorway that lead to the surgery rooms. As the door banged shut behind her she jumped, the eerie silence reflecting off the white walls making her skin prick. It was so quiet she could hear every movement of her body as if amplified by a hundred. She found herself almost tip-toeing as she walked, making her movements as slow and small as she could, despite her not knowing if there was any reason to do so.
The first two doors she reached were open. The usual desk, computer and bed were inside, but no living thing stirred. Once more, there was no sign of anything disturbing, just empty rooms and space, as if the people had just been lifted out of their lives without warning. Shivering at the thought, Rose continued walking with just the sound of her footsteps for company. There were two more rooms left in this part of the corridor, then a further door that lead to a different area of the clinic. To her right after the first room the corridor split off to the right, which she knew would lead to a dead end and four more rooms. She could see that the doors of the two rooms before her were closed, but that wasn’t what demanded her immediate attention.
She stopped dead as she heard a faint sound coming from the right hand corridor. She held her breath and she tried to place it, attempting to hear it over the sound of her own pulse. Moving closer to the wall, she pressed her ear up against it, moving before she lost her nerve. It was... scratching. It sounded as if tiny little needles were being dragged and scraped across the wall, desperately and incessantly. Rose backed away, the noise chipping away at whatever foolhardy resolution had brought her here in the first place. In her haste, she tripped, staggering back and into the wall. The impact seemed to echo through the corridor, and instantly the scratching ceased. Rose’s heart rate sped.
It’s coming. It’s coming for me.
The thought ripped through her senses, and she was completely frozen against the wall. She knew she had to run. She had to do something, anything than just stand there waiting for it to come to her.
Then, she heard the unmistakable sound of a door opening. This time, she could have sworn her heart had stopped beating entirely. All she heard was static, white noise deafening her as the reality of what she’d stepped into crashed down on her. There was something scratching its way to her, and now a second unknown had appeared from inside one of the rooms. Feeling as if her head were on a string being pulled with an uneven movement, she turned to the left to face whatever had just appeared.
Only she saw Dr Smith standing a few feet in front of her, looking rather confused. They stared at each other silently, until his face split into what she could only describe as an brightening smile, his entire face transforming with the action.
“Hello!” he said brightly, his voice bouncing over the syllables, as if completely unaware of the situation they were in.
And, of course, that was when all hell broke loose.
With a crack and a roar, the wall in front of her smashed, plaster and white paint filling the air in an instant. Rose was pushed backward even further, her limbs tangling and digging into the wall behind her. Over the sound of the wall, the scratching persisted, louder and more erratic than before, even as the air was congealed in white.
“Up, up up!” yelled a voice suddenly, and exceptionally close to her ear, yet another sound that made her ears rattle. Despite her shock, she obeyed, allowing the hands tugging at her arms to pull her upwards. She still couldn’t see, and gripped onto Dr Smith’s hand as soon as it touched her, needing a lifeline in a sea of white. She could hear the scrabbling, combined with a new sickly squelching sound that made her recoil internally. As Dr Smith pulled them to the left, she was almost glad that she couldn’t see what was making that sound.
She stumbled, tripping over rubble and her own feet as she ran with him, never letting go. The debris in the air was thinner as they approached the door, and she was just about able to make out his figure fiddling with the door handle as they approached. The scratching was following them, the discordant squelching sound punctuating each scrape. Then she was being pulled through the door, swung round and let go of as he turned his attention back to the door handle. She blinked, her eyes stinging in the unnatural light and filtered air. Away from the carnage, Rose found her voice again.
“What...what is happening!” she said, not even trying to hide the hysterical edge to her voice.
In response, Dr Smith whirled around, grabbed her hand and took off down the corridor, dragging her not unwillingly with him.
“Now’s the time for running, Rose Tyler, explaining can come later!”
And they were off, sprinting hand in hand through the clinic, twisting and turning through the corridors side by side. It was terrifying, the fact that she was running away with someone she barely knew, from what she could only assume was a creature - although why her mind jumped to that assumption based on sounds alone she didn’t know - in the middle of an abandoned clinic. Yet it was amazing. Exhilarating, wonderful, and another emotion that she could describe that had her smiling widely as they ran, her hair flying everywhere, her heart pounding in her ears. On impulse, she turned to him, and she saw what she imagined was herself in him. Wide, childish grin, wild hair and manic energy radiated off Dr Smith as they crashed through the emergency exit and into the back of the clinic, their hands dropping only as they reached the outside world.
She turned to him, as she managed to slow just to see him once again fiddling with the door once more.
“Typical,” she muttered to herself, and with a crack of realisation through her skull she understood exactly what she’d been feeling a moment ago. Contentment, as if this was an everyday, natural occurrence to be running with this man. She hadn’t felt natural in anything in so long, she was too used to playing the role of a person she didn’t know. She’d slipped into this without realising, and it was so familiar that she hadn’t even considered what was happening to her until now.
“Aha! Done! That should hold it, well, for as long as it takes them to...”
“We’ve done this before.”
She stared at him, truly afraid for the first time today. Everything was closing in on her, the connections and memories that both clashed and clicked so fast that she couldn’t keep up. He was looking at her as if she’d grown a third head in the last two minutes.
“Rose, I can assure you that we’ve never done this before.”
“Maybe not,” she began, her hands shaking as she spoke. “Maybe not exactly this, but this type of situation is familiar. The danger, the running together...it’s more familiar than my own family and I don’t understand why.”
The last part came out as a frustrated cry, halfway between a scream and a sob. She clenched her fists together and stared at him, stared him down until he looked at his feet in subordination.
“What is it about you?” she whispered, his head snapping up as she spoke. She walked forward just two steps, closer but not close enough.
“All roads lead back to you. It’s always you, everything is about you. Who are you? What are you?” The last part escaped as a throw away comment, whisked away on the wind and causing his face to pale and twist.
He opened his mouth, maybe to speak, maybe just as an action, but either way she would never know. All at once they were surrounded, swarms of black clad agents, came between them pulling at her arm, dragging her from the scene as they ushered him forward. She lost him as they took her away, a tall blond man smiling and telling her he worked for her father, that she was safe now. Her mind slowed, and she felt as if she were underwater, wading through the air to a car that was parked just out of reach. The agent, whoever he was, told her to take care, a nice gesture that she appreciated in the chaos.
As the car pulled away,she saw Dr Smith by the door once again, with the agents that worked for her father as if he belonged with them. She turned her head away from the window, a sense of determination breaking the surface and pulling her out of her temporary dislocation. Her father. She needed to talk to her father.
- Current Mood: cheerful