A/N: Thank you so much for the reviews and support. I hope you continue to enjoy this story.
Thank you to Latessitrice for her beta magic, and Lamia for her pre-reading skills.
Jackie was furious. Rose wasn’t surprised in a way, considering that the Torchwood clinic was almost destroyed while she was inside. What she was surprised about was why Jackie was so angry at her. It wasn’t her fault; the evacuation had happened so quickly that there hadn’t been time for Doctor Richardson to call her and cancel. True, Rose probably shouldn’t have walked into the clinic when no one was around, but there was no indication that it was potentially dangerous. Why exactly it was so dangerous was still beyond her, as no one had actually explained what was in there.
“Mum, I said I was sorry for going in there, what more do you want?” Rose said at breakfast three days later, when the elephant in the room was too large to ignore.
“Why the hell did you even go in there?” Jackie hissed in return, mindful of Tony who was watching cartoons. There was no way her brother could have heard from such a distance, but Jackie seemed to be taking every precaution. “Didn’t seem to notice there was no one there, didn’t think of calling for help or taking the safe option? Nope, you had to jump right into the middle of it, running around as if you knew what you were getting into. Typical. For the love of god, I hope you don’t teach your brother that nasty habit. It’s bad enough having one child determined to run head first into danger.”
Rose stared after mother as Jackie stormed out of the room, her voice breaking on the last sentence, filled with a volume of pain that pierced Rose through and through. She felt her anger at her mother’s over protective nature fade as her tone echoed through the now empty room. She didn’t understand exactly why her mother was so hurt and afraid by what she’d done. But the fact that it was apparently a habit of hers meant that even without her memory, she was still able to be a danger magnet. She couldn’t even remember ever doing anything dangerous in her life. She wondered for a moment what she could have put her mother through. To have her speak in that way meant that she must have done something, maybe many times, that caused her to worry so much. Rose found herself feeling guilty for decisions she couldn’t remember, but somehow knew she was responsible for. Her actions three days ago had proved that.
With Jackie gone and Tony occupied, it was as good a time as any to attempt to corner Pete. Since the incident at the clinic, he’d barely been at home, sorting out whatever had occurred. The few times that she’d seen him, Rose had attempted to coax and once even demand an explanation for what she’d seen. So far, she’d been completely unsuccessful. However, she knew she had to keep trying if she was going to get anywhere.
Walking to his office, the door was shut firmly, but she couldn’t hear anything from the other side that indicated she’d be disturbing something extremely important. She knew that if she was wrong, he would simply tell her he was too busy. But she at least hoped this time she’d be able to get some answers. So she knocked, the sound of her knuckles hitting the wood seeming bolder than she felt.
She smiled as she walked in, Pete returning it as he glanced up from his computer.
“Everything okay?” he asked, typing as he spoke, his attention drifting between her and whatever he was currently busy with.
“Err...yeah. Mostly. Do you have a moment?”
Pete stopped typing and held her stare for moment, before turning back to the screen. He sighed, and Rose shifted between her feet, feeling awkward just standing in the threshold.
“Give me a moment to finish this. Sit down.”
Feeling as if she’d won some sort of victory just by being allowed a moment of his time, Rose stepped into the room and closed the door behind her. Sitting down, she waited, wondering exactly how she should start this conversation. In the end, she didn’t have to.
“I’m guessing you want to know exactly what happened at the clinic?”
Pete snapped his laptop shut and leaned back in his chair. He didn’t look annoyed by the idea, or surprised that she would ask. Rose took this as a good sign.
“Among other things. But it’s a good place to start. The place pretty much exploded while I was inside and I heard...” She stopped, Pete tilting his head to one side and a small smile forming as he waited for her to continue.
“You heard?” he prompted, and Rose looked away. She was going to mention the strange noises she’d heard prior to the wall collapsing and having to run for her life. But she couldn’t logically explain what she’d heard.
“Just...what actually happened?” Rose finished.
“I can’t tell you.”
Rose opened her mouth to say something, but Pete held up his hand in protest.
“It’s more than my job’s worth to explain it all to you. Eventually, you’ll find out for yourself. At least, I hope you will.” Then, he picked up one of the many files on his desk, and opened it. She recognised the film and bright images as scans, many of which she remembered having done on the various trips to the now non-existent clinic.
“I have what Doctor Richardson wanted to discuss with you yesterday, seeing as we’re not sure when the clinic will be up and running again. It seems as if the results of your tests have changed. Anything you want to explain?” he asked, smiling but not allowing Rose to see if this news was negative.
“I’m not...sure. I can’t really say if I’m remembering things, at least not anything concrete. I have...feelings, I guess, and flashes of what I think I knew. I have no point of reference though, so for all I know, I could be right on track,” she said, lifting an eyebrow in question, causing Pete to chuckle.
“Nice try. Remember you’re meant to be doing this by yourself,” he warned, leaving Rose feeling like a scolded child, not something she appreciated or felt she needed at this moment. Pete was meant to help her, not act as if she were Tony’s age and had just tried to eat ice cream before dinner. The intensity of how much she disliked this feeling shocked her, but instead of thinking about it too deeply, she pushed it into an attacking stance, and directly confronted him.
“I don’t really understand what Torchwood is, or what you do, but you seem to have something to do with...everything. As does Doctor Smith, he seems to be at the root of this, and he was there at the clinic, but apparently I’m wrong about having some sort of connection with him,” she said, watching Pete’s face carefully for a reaction, unsurprised when Pete gave nothing away. “I’m also confused about you.”
This time, Pete did react. “Me?” he asked, with a hint of surprise, but more curiosity clouding his voice.
“Yeah. Somethings just don’t add up. Mum told me you were dead when I was little, and I know you told me why she said that, but it still doesn’t make sense. She had a whole story of how you died, and even though I was a kid, I remember how devastated she was. Mum doesn’t lie to me, not in that way, not making up huge stories to explain things away. But you’re not dead, you’re here. So obviously I’m missing something important here.”
Pete didn’t say anything for a moment, as Rose sat there feeling exhausted from expelling her previous concerns. In the silence, she wondered if she’d done the right thing. She’d gone in guns blazing, accusing her father on a hunch just in reaction to a statement she’d disliked. It certainly wasn’t her finest hour.
“Looks like the tests were right. I have my doubts about some of these advanced medical procedures, but this has proved me wrong,” he replied, grinning,and leaned back in his chair.
“I had a whole list of stories to tell you. Ways to explain what can’t really be explained away. You’re right when you say your mum doesn’t lie, she wouldn’t let me say anything. Adultery, government job, amnesia, I had them all. Instead we told you as little as possible, hoping you’d piece it all together.”
Rose felt herself grow numb as he spoke. The memories and the flashes had never been confirmed before, and although Pete hadn’t said she was correct outright, the underlying message was clear. And also, so was the strangeness of the situation. If her memories were correct, then she was talking to a man who had died more than twenty years ago. She swallowed, her throat convulsing mechanically, but her mouth still dry.
“You...died?” She posed it as a question, almost begging him to say something contrary, to banish the impossible and make the monsters go away.
“Did I?” Pete asked, the question so simple in any other context but this.
“Yes.” The word was whispered but sure. Pete just sat there watching her, as if waiting for her to break down, to scream or even have an epiphany.
None of this happened. Rose swept her tongue around the roof of her mouth, trying to form the next set of words she needed.
“But you’re alive.”
“That I can confirm,” Pete replied, his smile easy but cautious. Rose knew he wasn’t sure how she was going to react to these muddled facts, but she honestly had no idea either.
“It doesn’t make any sense,” she said, voicing the obvious but finding it oddly comforting to do so.
“It will though, in time. I’m sure it will,” Pete answered, reaching across and taking her hand, squeezing it once and smiling at her, encouragement and a hint of pride that she wasn’t sure she’d earned. Even so, the comfort of the gesture was enough to keep her holding on. For now.
There was little she could do with the small amount of information she’d gained from Pete. In all honesty, she found it better not to think too deeply about it. That caused a sense of sickness and panic to rise somewhere near the back of her throat, and she was trying to remain calm. What she had learned was that not only was she on the right track when it came to her father, but that her instincts were right about her memories. Which meant that she was, as she’d suspected, on track when she’d said that everything seemed to come back to Doctor Smith. Unfortunately, he wasn’t as forthcoming as Pete, so she knew that was a lost cause.
Rose flopped down onto her bed, staring at the pale and bare ceiling. She wondered why this room was so bare. Surely she should have brought some of her things over from her old apartment by now? With that thought she sat up abruptly, her head spinning with the sudden movement and new idea. Her flat. If there was anywhere she could be able to find out something about her former life, it would be there. Cursing herself for not thinking of it before, she sped down the stairs in order to locate either Pete of Jackie, whoever she came across first. Pete was still locked in his study, so she cornered her mum in the kitchen.
“What’s the address of my flat?”
Jackie looked as if she were about to spit out her tea.
“What you want that for?”
Rose shrugged, trying to sound as if it were more of a curiosity than an essential need. Bracing herself for an argument, Rose started to list reasons in her mind as to why she needed that address now. Jackie looked at her for a moment, then sighed.
“It’s in my book - go in my handbag, it should be somewhere in the bottom.”
Not quite believing her luck, but not going to stand in the kitchen just in case Jackie suddenly changed her mind, Rose launched out of the room and up the stairs in search of her mother’s address book, hoping that this idea would pay off.
Her flat was a mess. Yes, she knew that her parents had come in once since the accident, and left it alone afterward, so it wasn’t exactly in pristine condition. She also knew she wasn’t the neatest of people, but the chaos that greeted her didn’t really feel like her chaos. For one thing, it was a set of the most random artifacts she’d ever come across. Four huge rolls of crepe paper were next to a small coffee table: one blue, one lilac, one red and one white. There was a sewing kit and three old mugs on said coffee table, and she wasn’t sure if it was safe to go near them. There were bits of machinery scattered on the kitchen counter, along with a dead mobile phone.
Despite the random objects cluttered and thrown around, Rose got the distinct impression that she hadn’t lived in the flat long. There were no personal touches, no photographs and minimal decoration. As Rose walked through the flat, nothing changed. A bathroom with one blue toothbrush in a cup, a half used bottle of shower gel and one roll of toilet paper. A hallway with a map of Europe covered in pins stuck to the wall, some pins yellow, some red, and a lot of blue. She frowned at the map, wondering if it was really a good idea to do that, sticking pins in the wall and-
“Now I’ll never get my deposit back!”
She stopped, clutching the wall as her own voice echoed through her mind. A memory. She’d said that, said that to someone before. She leaned against the wall and closed her eyes, willing the voice, the day to come back. Who had she been talking to? Had they been the one to do this?
She gave up when her head began to hurt. It was no good, she couldn’t bring back that moment. Straightening, she turned and looked at the poster. It didn’t mean anything to her; she didn’t really understand why it was one of the only human touches to the flat. It had obviously meant something at one point, but it was buried with everything else. With one last look, she continued on her way through the flat.
Her room was as empty as the one at her parent’s house. She only knew it was hers due to the duvet on the double bed, which was similar to the ones Jackie had. Sighing, she left the room, closing the door and returning it to stasis. She walked over to the last door, expecting to find an office, or even a large cupboard.
So she was very surprised when it opened up into another bedroom. It was the same generic decorating, yet this room contained similar clutter to the rest of the flat. A cardboard box filled to the brim with books sat next to the bed, and more were littered over the floor. There were a few sharing size packets of sweets lying around, and more machinery. Rose stood in the doorway, a sudden understanding hitting her. This was not her room. It was someone else’s. With a gasp she stepped out of the threshold, as if something were about to jump out at her from within. It was all adding up. There was a toothbrush in the bathroom even though hers was at home. A separate room lived in but not by her. A memory of her shouting at someone for sticking pins into the wall.
“I lived with someone,” she whispered into the silence.
As if to suddenly confirm this, the unmistakable sound of a key being turned greeted her, and the door to the flat opened.
- Current Mood:artistic