By the time the Doctor had dropped Donna off at her mother's house, said goodbye, and gotten back to the TARDIS, Rose was missing from the Zero Room. He checked multiple rooms, including her bedroom, the wardrobe, and the kitchen before he finally came upon the open door to the library. The pool was back inside of it, and he walked quietly through until he came upon their usual couch and table. She was sat in it, staring at the fire before her. She wasn't reading or writing in her journal - just waiting. He sat down next to her and held out his arms, but she adjusted to look at him, so he nodded. "Talking first, then."
"You want to know what happened," she reminded him quietly. "You want to know what was so bad that I'd stay behind."
He nodded softly. "I do. I don't understand. Last time, you were safe for the most part, right? So what happened?"
Rose took her time. She watched the fire spark and gathered her thoughts. "I don't know for sure. A lot of it is… I don't know what they did to me, not all of it. I think… I think the difference is that I'm not human."
"You weren't last time, either."
"But not like this," she pressed. "I told him, I told Pete what I am. He was so supportive at first. I can't say what changed. The first time the Artron energy attacked me, he took me straight to Nina for tests. Nina was Jake's girlfriend. I knew her last time, too. He told me to go straight to her if it happened again. He wanted me safe, or I thought he did. Then- then it did happen again when I was with Jack. He knew, so he took me back to London. Nina had died, so someone else, Dr. Patterson, took over. They took me to the labs beneath Torchwood One and started doing tests, things I didn't consent to. I was there for… weeks, probably. Maybe a couple of months. Until the end, I figured they'd lied to Pete somehow, but I heard them talking to him at the end. He ordered them to do it. After I escaped, Jack, Mickey, and Jake tailed me all the way to Norway."
The Doctor was a mixture of furious and horrified. "Oh, Rose. I'm so sorry. What… exactly did they do?"
She shrugged. "I can't remember. I think a lot of it was them trying to extract or manipulate the Artron energy. They couldn't seem to figure out why I've had so much amnesia. Eventually, I heard Hall say it was a trauma response, but if they were messing with the Artron energy, then-,"
"Arkytior," he said in understanding. "You think she, what, blocked it all from you? To protect you?"
Rose quieted again, looking still at the fire. It was dying down a bit, probably the TARDIS's doing. Shifting, she pulled the throw blanket she'd wrapped around her shoulders tighter together. "I think that maybe it's possible to torture a- a goddess, too."
The Doctor's mouth dropped open slightly. "You think it's Arkytior that's traumatized?"
She shrugged. "There's a moment, moving from me to her or her to me that it's like we can be… separate. It's not even a moment, I suppose. It probably can't be counted in time. It's such a fleeting feeling that I'm not sure it's real, but… I don't know. That part of me feels different. It did when I used it to escape, like she didn't want to, like she was fighting me. I don't know if I'd have been in so much pain when I regenerated if she hadn't fought the way she did to help get me home."
"It can't help that you're afraid to use the power," the Doctor said thoughtfully. With a frown, he rubbed the back of her hand with his thumb. "You're both afraid of Arkytior being present."
"Something like that," she whispered.
The Doctor pulled her into his arms, and she went willingly. He rubbed her arms and pressed a kiss to her hair. "You should sleep. I'll stay with you."
She shook her head quickly. "No, there's more to talk about."
"Something else happened?" his eyebrows shot up, concerned. Luckily, she kept shaking her head.
"Doctor… it's over. We did it, I'm here. No more lies, no more secrets. It's over."
His eyes lit up happily as her words sunk in. "I suppose it is. You did it, Rose Tyler."
"You're still not mad?" she asked. He gave her a look that suggested she lost her mind, so she laughed softly. "Just making sure."
"I didn't like the secrets, but I didn't understand why," he explained. "Now, I know it was all very worth it. Do you think so?"
Her face softened, and she stroked his cheek. "I'm gonna stay with you forever, Doctor. I made that promise years ago, and I intend to keep it."
"Good," he nodded firmly. She watched his eyes search her for something, but he didn't ask his question. She nudged him, and he sighed. "The Empress said something about you. She called you a warrior. I wouldn't have thought a thing about it, except you-,"
"I don't know if 'warrior' is accurate," she cut in calmly. "If you're asking if I've done things you wouldn't approve of, the answer is yes. If you're asking if I'm going to continue to do things you wouldn't approve of… probably, yes."
"That doesn't mean finding Jack's phaser and shooting people," she put her hand up. "That means that you don't want me to experience the same, heavy decisions you have had to make. You don't want me to have to hurt or kill anyone, and you've already disapproved when I- oh, that hasn't happened yet- you get the point. It means that I was trained at Torchwood years ago, and I got a nice refresher recently. I know how to fight, and I'm good at it. No, I won't choose violence over the option of peace. Yes, we will disagree, and you will not always approve of my decisions. It's that simple."
The Doctor decided to put most of it aside for another time and locked onto one part in particular. "What do you mean, it hasn't happened yet?"
"Well, I run into other versions of you often," she explained. "Remember the night we met?"
"I blew up your job," he grinned.
She nodded. "That night, a version of you- a future version, he stopped me. It gave me hope. He knew to be there. I saw the same one in Utah when I got hurt and disappeared for a moment. River took me away, I saw him and he healed me, and then she took me back."
"Well, you're stuck with me for a while, if that's alright with you."
"More than," she breathed. "Maybe we can just… take some time? Before we start again, just stay here and…"
"Yeah. Yeah, I think we can do that."
Landing in 2007, Rose dragged her feet leaving the TARDIS. The Doctor raised his eyebrows at her. "You said things are okay with him. This was your idea."
"Yeah, well, it's a bit different, seeing him," she sighed. He shook his head at her and opened the door to let her out. They'd landed just above Torchwood, and he followed her through the shop and down to the old place. She'd been added into the system with her own ID, thanks to Canary Wharf, and would be able to get in no matter how many times she regenerated.
The office was a bit empty that day, and she walked back to Jack's office. She didn't bother knocking and let herself in. He straightened at the sight of her and looked ready to say something along the lines of flirting before he saw her eyes. He jumped to his feet and ran around his desk to pull her in a rather tight hug. "Rosie, thank god. I haven't seen or heard from you in weeks."
"Oh," she blinked in surprise, hugging him back. It was a bit difficult not to, and hard to compare him to the man that had been tracking her. "Not even a future me?"
He tilted his head and backed up so she could see him shake it. "I haven't seen any version of you in weeks, but it's been months since I've seen an older you. This is the oldest you've been."
She nodded quietly. She had said she hoped to sync up with him sometime soon - maybe it was finally happening. It would make sense that things weren't as complicated since she was done rewriting her timeline. Time got complicated when things like that happened, and other timelines could be messed up, too.
"What's wrong?" he asked her softly. He still had his arms around her, and now he was looking deeply in her eyes as if he could find her problems within them. "I'd have thought you'd be ecstatic now, but you're… you said something happened, and you're different."
"It-," she cut herself off and took in a deep breath. She let it out and then pulled away to sit on his desk, prompting him to sit back in his chair. "It's like I told the Doctor. I don't remember. I remember that they told me I got dangerous, that I hurt people, that the Artron energy hurt people, but I don't remember them successfully extracting it at all."
"What were they trying to do?" he asked softly. "Who did it?"
She took a moment before she answered, calming herself down. It still didn't feel quite real. "Dad did. You did. Everyone I trusted kept me locked up there to be tested, experimented on. It feels like they took something, but I couldn't say what that something was. It just- I can't-," she stopped and forced herself to take some slow, deep breaths. "It's hard to… feel safe right now, and I hate it. I'm finally with the Doctor, we did it, and I'm still looking over my shoulder because I feel like- what if it's another forced hallucination?"
"How can I prove it isn't?" he asked, rubbing her hand comfortingly. She just gave a small shrug.
"I don't know if you can."
Jack sighed. "They really did a number on you, huh, Rosie?"
"I just want to know what they took from me," she said tensely. "I can deal with the- the being afraid, I can handle that, but I know they took something. I just can't figure out what it was, and that's scaring me."
Jack understood more than she realized. He tugged her into his arms again and held her tight. "I know how terrifying that is. I'm sorry."
She tensed slightly. "Oh my god, Jack-,"
"Shh," he shook his head. "I know you forgot, and I'm glad you came to me. Are you going to have the Doctor run some tests, see what they might've done?"
Rose fell quiet at the idea. She was cut off from answering by the door opening, and the Doctor popped his head in. "Doctor-,"
"We should," he said, looking distracted. "You could be dangerously unstable from the Racnoss alone, not to mention whatever happened there."
Ianto appeared behind the Doctor, annoyed and apologetic. "I tried to stop him, but he opened a cell to get past me."
"Doctor," Rose narrowed her eyes slightly. "Don't make their lives harder. What are you doing here? I thought you understood that I'm-,"
"Well I don't understand per se, I just respect it," he corrected. "And I'm not here to eavesdrop. That was an accident. I'm here to let you know that we've got somewhere to go. Or- or I could go alone, and you could stay here for now. Well, we should probably do some tests first, just in case, but-,"
"I'll come with," she said, getting to her feet. Jack held her hand when she moved to walk away, and she gave him a shaky smile. "I'll see you later and we can talk about this more, I promise. Maybe we can look into what the Time Agency did to you, too."
"Be safe," he ordered, looking at her seriously. "Doc, keep an eye on her."
The Doctor snapped off a lazy salute and led Rose out of Torchwood. When they got back to the TARDIS, he stopped her in the console room. "Really, Rose. I think we should do some tests before we go."
She sighed and chewed on her bottom lip thoughtfully. "I don't really…"
He could feel her hesitation and the reason for it, so he took her face in his hands and spoke softly, but firmly. "I would never do anything to hurt you. If you want to stop, if there's something you don't feel up to, we won't do it. All I want is to make sure you're safe."
"Okay," she said quietly. "Yeah, okay. Let's go."
The trip to the infirmary took ten minutes. In that time, Rose had calmed almost completely. When they entered, she tensed, but stayed quiet. She decided against sitting on the examination table and instead went for a chair.
The Doctor took her vitals, drew some blood, and gave her a full physical. After that, he started measuring her energy levels, which was what took time. While the computer processed those tests, he went to take a look at her blood tests. He frowned slightly and walked over to run it through again, this time looking for something else. It was a relatively quick process and within five minutes, he was blinking at the computer screen. "But that's- that's not possible!"
"What is it?"
"I mean, that's just- there's no way to- it's not possible!" he repeated in shock.
"Doctor, what is it?" she asked him sharply.
He took in a breath and readied himself to explain. "Well- I mean, it's-," he sighed and sat down, shaking his head. "I couldn't tell you how, but your… blood type… changed."
Rose blinked a few times. "What?"
"Yeah, I mean… it's just different," he shrugged and turned the screen so she could see. "Look, that's your blood tests from after that Swirbush bit you. AB positive. Down there is the test from today - O negative."
"So… I went from the worst blood type to have, to the best?" she frowned at him. "How is that even possible? I got bit barely a week before Torchwood, so… what the hell happened? How could they just- just change my blood type?"
"It would involve draining your entire body of blood and then putting in the new kind," he explained. "Along with some very dangerous experimenting that borders on-,"
The Doctor's eyes darkened. "Torture. It's like torture, Rose."
"But I don't even remember-," she sucked in a sharp breath. "I only know what they've told me."
The Doctor raised his right hand to her head slowly. "May I?"
"What do you think you're going to find?" she wondered quietly.
"I think that maybe someone over there is very good at mental manipulation," he said gently. "I want to make sure they haven't damaged your mind."
"Okay," she whispered. "Okay, go ahead."
He touched her temples, though he didn't really need to, and they both closed their eyes as he entered her mind. He winced back when he did, but was careful not to lose contact. Looking around, he took in the state of her mind. After a moment, he pulled back out and instead of releasing her, he pulled her into his arms. He didn't speak - he just held her to prove to himself that she was there. She wasn't okay, but she was there, and they wouldn't hurt her more.
"Doctor?" her voice was soft and afraid. "What did you find?"
"I'm sorry," he whispered into her hair. "I shouldn't have- I should've done more, I shouldn't have let you fall in."
She shifted until she could pull back to look at him with wide eyes. "What is it?"
He breathed in and out slowly. "I don't know what they did to you. Parts of your mind are- they're not burned, not destroyed, but on the cusp of it. It's like Arkytior is hiding them so well she wants to destroy them."
"Oh," she said softly. "I'm doing this?"
"Whatever happened… you feel the need to protect yourself from it. You don't want to look at it, to remember it. I don't think these are blocks that I can remove. Not safely, at least."
Rose shook her head. "Am I safe?"
He looked back at the computer. The other tests had finished loading and he skimmed through the results quickly. "Yeah. Yeah, I mean, you should be. There's some weird inconsistencies with the Artron energy, but I can't say if that's from what they did there, or the Racnoss. It'll take a few days before you should go back to normal. We can do the tests again then. If they're still off, we'll look into it more."
"Okay," she nodded. "Then… I guess we should go. Or- well, I'll go change my clothes, and we should go."
"Are you sure? It can probably wait if you're not ready."
"Doctor, please," she sighed. "I want to pretend things are okay for a bit. Spend some time running with you like normal."
"Alright…" he glanced at the computer screen before getting to his feet. "In that case, go change and meet me in the console room. We've got a hospital to investigate!"
Hi! I absolutely will not say I'm back. I've learned my lesson on that for sure. But I will say I've got some COVID-like symptoms and while I'm miserably waiting for my test to come back, I've been working on remembering the plans I had for this story, so here's a short chapter I had saved up.
I hope you enjoy and please leave a review and let me know what you think!