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A blazing run through the grounds of the Tyler estate and a hearty breakfast set the tone for the Doctor’s first Monday at Torchwood. Anxious to get in early so that he could peek at Hal’s artefact, he devoured eggs and rashers in record time before dashing out the door. He was still chuckling evilly a mile from the mansion as he recalled the shocked look on Jackie’s face when he told her Hal would be his “plus one” for the Torchwood leader party on Saturday. Of course, in his haste to get to the garage, he never heard Jackie and Pete’s snickers echoing down the hallway.

To his surprise, the lights were on in Hal’s office when he arrived. Dropping his portfolio and coat onto his desk, he walked over to her door and leaned in. As usual, Hal was typing furiously at one of three keyboards and didn’t seem to notice his arrival.

“Hello! You’re a bit early into the office, aren’t you?” he asked.

Hal’s head snapped up with a blank look on her face before recognition kicked in. Turning around with a slight smile, she leaned back into her chair. “As are you,” she replied. “Let me guess: You came in early to have a gander at the artefact in my desk,” she said with a motion toward a chair next to her.

“How ever did you guess?” he grinned as he sat down.

“Oh, I had a little inkling you might want to, so I came in early to get some work done before you got here,” she said as she unlocked her desk drawer. She placed the object on her desk, wrapped in a piece of white cloth.

Reverently, handling the object as if it would break at the slightest touch, he picked it up and slowly unfolded the cloth from around it. A hitch in his breath belied his calm expression as he turned it in his hands. He reached into his vest pocket, extracted a pair of reading spectacles, and put them onto his face, never taking his eyes off the artefact.

“This is incredible,” he said softly. He looked up, having noted that Hal was completely still and silent. She was completely unmoving, eyes wide and mouth slightly agape, staring at his face with an unreadable expression.

“What?” he asked in surprise.

“Guh,” Hal said in a low voice, apparently the only sound she was able to make. Swallowing hard, she shook her head as if coming out of a trance before flushing slightly and fixing her eyes on the artefact.

“What?!?” the Doctor repeated.

Having regained her composure, Hal met his eyes again in an appraising look, almost as if she were kicking tyres on a car. “Do you wear those glasses often?” she asked.

“My brainy specs? No, not all the time. Just need them for reading and close work,” he answered, still puzzled.

“You should wear them more often,” she said bluntly.

“Why?” he asked, still not getting the point.

“Doctor, if you had worn those glasses more around Rose, neither of us would have been subjected this weekend to a disgusting display of grovelling unbecoming of a Time Lord.”

His bottom lip protruded. “I was just kidding,” he grumbled.

“Oh, well… since you were just kidding, I guess I’m…”

“No, no, no,” the Doctor interrupted quickly, a look of horror sparking in his eyes. “I was kidding about the kidding!” he sputtered and laughed nervously.

“Uh-huh,” Hal grunted, unconvinced.

He carefully placed the artefact back onto her desk and leaned forward. “Hal, are you trying to tell me that my brainy specs make me more attractive?” he smirked.

“I think you should definitely wear them to the party this Saturday,” she deflected, keeping her eyes pinned on the chuck of charred material on her desk.

“So you really think they make that much of a difference?” he prodded slyly, still grinning.

Hal shrugged nonchalantly. “In a sort of… chic geek fashion, yes,” she answered. “Shall we discuss the artefact now?”

“Oh, of course,” he smiled, picking up the artefact again and turning his attention fully to it.

“Where was this found?” he began, clearly fascinated as he turned the remnant several different angles.

“Somewhere near the Painted Desert in Arizona, in the American Southwest. Middle of nowhere, actually. Some meteor hunters found it barely buried under the sand. They were using a cheap metal detector, so it’s possible there are other pieces out there that they didn’t detect. They sold it to a collector who was trying to sell it on eBay as an Anasazi relic.”

“And Torchwood bought it?” he asked.

“Yes, about two years ago. Torchwood has a feed from eBay. We electronically scan the images for anything that may appear to be of extra-terrestrial origin. This object was flagged in a scan, purchased, and then placed in the archives. I found it a month ago and have been trying to decipher the writing on it.”

“You’d never successfully translate it, Hal. It’s Gallifreyan,” he said with certainty.

“Is there enough there for you to translate it?” she asked excitedly.

“Hmmm, it’s quite a small fragment, but I can read enough of it to guess its purpose,” he muttered. “It’s a plaque label from a console control lever for a neutronic awl. It’s from a TARDIS, Hal.”

“A TARDIS, but not your TARDIS, correct?”

“Oh, no, no, no… not my TARDIS. A much later build, actually… not contemporaneous at all. My TARDIS was a type 40 build. She was very, very old when I… uhm… acquired her,” he said with a boyishly embarrassed smile. “This fragment is from what I would hazard to be a type 55, Mark IV. I think it might have been a battle TARDIS, too! Most explorer types weren’t equipped with neutronic awls. How odd.”

“Can you date it? We can’t seem to lock onto an age, since it’s not like we can use anything similar to carbon-dating for it. We can’t calibrate radioisotope decay for a planet we’ve never seen,” Hal explained. “But I’ve been working with Malcolm on determining the origin, and it is giving off an energy signature that places it in the Kasterborous system.”

“That’s brilliant work, Hal. It would definitely match the energy signature from the Kasterborous system, because the base materials from which it was created came from a neighbouring planet to Gallifrey, called Karn. Is that why you’ve been studying the Kasterborous system? Because of this artefact?”

“Partially,” she answered with a wince. “I’ve uncovered a sufficient body of evidence indicative of a catastrophic event that had consequences for the entire universe. The epicentre seems to be the Kasterborous system. The true epicentre within the Kasterborous system either doesn’t seem to have anything in it, or it is a body too small for us to locate with our current technology.”

The Doctor looked away, a wave of pain crossing his features. “You were right about both,” he said sadly. “Gallifrey is no more, and what is left of it wouldn’t be detectable by your instruments.”

“I know that now, and I’m so sorry,” Hal said in a soft voice. “So that,” she indicated with a nod toward the plaque fragment in his hand, “is contemporaneous with the Time War?”

“It would have to be,” he replied. “Battle TARDISes only existed twice in Gallifrey’s history: The Dark Times and the Time War. This wouldn’t have been lying on top of the ground if it were from the Dark Times. That was 4.6 billion years ago, approximately.”

“And the Time War?”

He shrugged. “Depends on your frame of reference, I suppose. For this universe, it would have ended about 40 years ago. In the other universe, about 25 years ago. For me, it was a lot longer in my personal timeline. I did a lot of running after the War.”

Hal hesitated, unsure if she should pursue much more discussion of the Time War. The Doctor seemed to be sliding into a black mood with every word, but there were so many things she needed to know in order to put the pieces of the puzzle together. Before she could formulate another question, the Doctor fixed her with a question in his eyes.

“Hal, how did you actually connect Time Lords with this event? With Kasterborous? With this fragment?”

Hal drew in a deep breath before answering. “There were so many pieces of evidence, both in this universe and the other. In this universe, some of the aliens that came through the Rift spoke of legends surrounding Time Lords. Most weren’t complimentary, I’m afraid. Many blamed the destruction of their planets on a Great War fought between two powerful races, and in their eyes they were just collateral damage; pawns on a cosmic chessboard. Stars have been winking out over the last 40 years here, at a much higher rate than one might expect from normal star lifecycles. Planets the scientists discovered in nearby systems wouldn’t be there the next time they looked. I’ve plotted many of these changes and noticed they seemed to follow a wave pattern. That wave pattern, when triangulated, appeared to point toward the Kasterborous system.”

“And in the other universe?” the Doctor asked, frowning. “You heard of Time Lords even there?”

She nodded, appearing unsure of herself.

“How?” the Doctor demanded. “There were very few Time Lords besides myself who ever bothered with humans. Most Time Lords followed a strict code of non-interference. The majority of humanity was never aware of the Time War.”

Swallowing hard, Hal gentry took the TARDIS fragment from his hand and placed it back on the desk. “Elly,” she said, gazing directly into his eyes. “Elly told me of the Time Lords. What I’m about to tell you may be difficult to believe.”

“Go on,” urged the Doctor.

“Elly told me that she met a Time Lord once when we were quite young. She was about sixteen when a man walked up and sat next to her on a park bench. He was quite tall; taller than you. He had a head full of curls down to his shoulders, a big booming voice, and a mouthful of large teeth. Even stranger, he was wearing a ridiculously long multi-coloured scarf in the middle of July.”

The Doctor’s eyes grew completely round at Hal’s description. “Did he speak?” he squeaked.

“Oh, yes. Offered her some jelly babies from a brown paper sack he was carrying in his pocket. She’d never seen a jelly baby before, so she tried one and thought it was abysmal. She made the mistake of telling him what she thought, and he got quite irate with her,” Hal laughed.

“Did he say what his name was?” asked the Doctor weakly.

“The Doctor. He said his name was the Doctor,” Hal answered soberly. She paused to let it sink in.

“No way,” the Doctor said. “I don’t remember that. I told her I was a Time Lord?”

“How many people have you met in 900-plus years, Doctor? Do you remember them all? Would you remember a sombre sixteen year-old girl sitting on a park bench that you just decided to casually chat with on a summer day? A sixteen year-old stupid ape on a planet full of stupid apes? So what if you told her you were a Time Lord? Do you think anyone would ever believe her?”

The Doctor bit off a retort when he saw a mist form in Hal’s eyes.

“No one believed her, Doctor. Everyone said she had a wonderful imagination that sometimes got away with her. I was the only one who believed. She was so distraught over how she was treated that she wouldn’t talk about it even to me.” Blotting her eyes on her sleeve, Hal sniffed deeply. Touching the edge of the artefact, she continued.

“About fifteen years later, the nightmares began. I would have to wake her to keep her from inadvertently hurting herself. She screamed almost every night for years. She told me of this Great War that was happening all around us, and how no one seemed to be aware of it. She kept saying that the Time Lords were losing. I witnessed through our bond some of what she saw, and it defied description. And then one day toward the end, she said the Time Lords were planning to end the entire universe and destroy all of creation.”

“The Ultimate Sanction,” the Doctor groaned, shamed by the actions of his people.

Hal nodded. “For revealing that, she was prescribed tranquilizers and antidepressants, Doctor. I convinced her to leave Earth and travel within the twenty-third century, and we discovered something interesting. Time had been rewritten since the end of the War. Many of the time-sensitive races we’d encountered in the past had disappeared, and no one remembered them. Whole planets had been reduced to shattered rubble or burned out cinders. Others were mysteriously unpopulated, as if no one had ever been there. People and planets became no more than legends, if even a legend remained. Cracks in the very fabric of Time-Space started to open up across the universe, including a plethora of wormholes and rifts. The Time Lords themselves were only a legend, and we had no idea where to look for them.”

“The destruction of the Eye of Harmony and the Time Lords caused a rupture in the fabric of Time-Space that reached throughout the universe, Hal. I don’t know why either of you would remember anything of the events before, because you weren’t at the heart of the event. Perhaps clairvoyance conveys some protection, because the Ood and the Forest of Cheem also seemed to be able to retain knowledge that others had forgotten,” noted the Doctor. “So, you have no evidence in this universe that Time Lords existed?”

“Which brings us back to this,” she said, picking up the plaque piece. “Is this evidence that this universe had its own Time Lords and Time War, or did Time Lords exist only in our universe? Did the TARDIS fragment originate here, or did it come from the other universe? Apocryphal evidence such as legend doesn’t preclude Time Lords traveling from Prime to here. Could it be possible that Time Lords never existed in this universe?”

“That’s a good question,” the Doctor answered. “It’s one that I need to answer for myself. But you say that you’ve uncovered evidence here in this universe of a wave pattern of damage cascading from Kasterborous, similar to that of Prime?”

Hal turned to one of her keyboards and pulled up two star charts on a monitor. One featured a pattern of blue stars, the other red. “This chart,” she pointed to the blue chart, “is the pattern of missing planets or people from Prime. Luckily the data was on-board my ship and wasn’t corrupted. The red chart is the pattern from Pete’s World, although it isn’t complete because I haven’t been able to chart some locations by traveling to them.” She tapped a couple of keys to superimpose the two charts. A scattering of purple dots formed an arch around a space devoid of stars.

The Doctor stood up and leaned over Hal’s shoulder to peruse the screen, pulling at his lower lip in concentration. “Well, obviously there’s a strong correlation between the two,” he said. “It could mean either one of two things: The Time War either occurred here, too; or the events of the Time War in Prime cascaded throughout the multiverse to impact alternate worlds. I’m more inclined to believe that it occurred simultaneously in both worlds.”

“Wouldn’t you know if Time Lords only existed in one universe?”

“Exactly,” he responded. “Never did any inter-dimensional travel myself, but I would guess if we had existed in only one place, we would have crowed about it. I don’t suppose you’ve run across any evidence of another Doctor here?”

“No, nothing at all,” Hal confirmed. “And it makes sense, because Torchwood’s charter makes no reference to you at all. Neither does UNIT have any records of you before the Battle of Canary Wharf.”

“I wonder…,” he said under his breath. “Someone had to end the Time War here, if there was a War and I didn’t exist in Pete’s World. What if I had a counterpart here? One who wasn’t me, who wasn’t called the Doctor, yet who fulfilled the same role?”

“That’s a scary thought,” Hal commented with a soft laugh. “Another Doctor who isn’t the Doctor, sort of like how a complementary species fills in the gaps? Nature abhors a vacuum, according to Aristotle.”

“Precisely. Rose didn’t exist here… except as a Yorkshire terrier named Rose,” he said, not noticing Hal’s attempts to stifle another laugh. “No Rose, no Doctor. No Doctor, no Jack Harkness… at least, no Jack at Torchwood. Pete hasn’t been able to find him. If he’d never met me, he would never be associated with Torchwood in this world. Pete had to ultimately fill in that gap.”

Hal frowned slightly. “Jack Harkness… he’s the guy in the World War II great coat? Bright blue eyes? Really drop-dead cute?” she added with a quick eyebrow flash.

“Oi!” the Doctor exclaimed. “Is there a female anywhere in the multiverse who isn’t attracted to him? And yes, that’s Jack.”

“Well, good thing I’m already spoken for,” grinned Hal.

“Eh? W-what?” he sputtered.

“Let’s stick to work, Doctor,” she said as she took on a more serious expression. “So where do we go from here? I’ve only managed to sift through about a quarter of the archives. I’m sure you’d be able to review the rest more quickly.”

The Doctor sighed and threw himself back down into his chair, clearly disappointed that Hal wasn’t about to expound on her earlier comment.

“Oh, it’s so frustrating that we don’t have the ability to visit any other planets,” he sighed. “We could clear up some of these mysteries right away, not to mention find a stable wormhole. Which reminds me, I need to check to see if the TARDIS growth chamber is ready today.”

“I would suggest digging through the archives for additional remnants of the TARDIS or other related artefacts. It might provide more clues. Afterwards, perhaps a field trip to Arizona might be in order,” she said.

“Do we have an exact location for where the debris was found?” he asked, focusing again on the plaque fragment.

“As a matter of fact, we do,” smiled Hal. “It just so happens that our intrepid meteor hunters marked the spot with GPS coordinates.”

“Brilliant! I think we should ask Pete for permission right away.”

“Err, I would advise against that,” warned Hal. “Protocol dictates that we go through the Field SIU department first.”

“And who might that would be?”

“Rose Tyler,” Hal said, watching the Doctor’s reaction carefully.

“Oh,” he said softly after a beat. He looked a bit stumped, as if he expected opposition from Rose.

“This is Torchwood business, Doctor,” Hal said sternly. “You can’t break out in spots every time you have to talk to her, you know.”

“But I’m positive I can get permission from Pete, Hal!”

“And I’m positive that you will make Rose Tyler very unhappy if you violate protocol by going over her head, Doctor,” insisted Hal. “If you think your interactions are strained now, I can assure you they will be far worse if you step on her toes professionally.”

He groaned, slumping down into his seat. “So what do I need to do?”

“Let’s see if we can get onto her calendar this afternoon. In the meantime, I’ll prepare a business case to take with us. Thankfully, I’d already started working on one prior to your hire, so I’ll update it to reflect the new information you’ve provided. It will strengthen our case, if nothing else.”

“Thank you,” the Doctor said sincerely. “Whatever would I do without you, Hal?”

“Probably bash your head against the institutional walls several times a day, undoubtedly. Figuratively and literally,” she added, eyes glittering humorously. “How many times have I saved your wretched hide already, not including this coming weekend? Don’t think I’m not counting.”

“Buy you lunch?” he offered tentatively.

“Ugh, do you know how much I hate eating in the cafeteria? It’s like sitting naked in a communal bath!” Hal groused in disgust.

“We can go somewhere quieter. Let me check to see if Malcolm can come, and we can take my car to go somewhere nearby but with less people.”

“Check with me around 11.00, and I’ll let you know,” she said noncommittally. The Doctor smiled, pleased to see she hadn’t turned him down outright. “Where’s this TARDIS coral you keep telling me about, by the way,” she deflected once again. He carefully pulled the piece from his pocket to show her, cradling it as if it were fragile.

Hal’s eyes widened as she took the orange-ish truncheon into her hand. She gasped when she noticed it gave off a warmth of its own and glittered as she turned it slowly in the light. “It’s… it’s really alive,” she said in wonder.

“Oh, yes,” said the Doctor proudly.

“I can hear it,” she whispered. “It’s singing to me.” Stroking it softly, she seemed to focus solely on the song the coral piece was singing to her.

“What do you hear?” he asked, mesmerized by Hal’s obvious connection to the TARDIS truncheon.

“It’s almost… not quite, though… sentient. It’s giving me feelings, not thought. It’s… lonely,” she said sadly.

“You felt that? I never felt that from it,” the Doctor said, confused. “I hear notes when I hold it, but I wouldn’t call it a song.”

“You should hold it more often, Doctor. It has a song. It’s very simple, monophonic; but it’s there. How long does it take before it becomes sentient?”

Shrugging, the Doctor took the coral back from her and slipped it back into his pocket. “I don’t really know. Normally, it takes thousands of years to grow to maturity. But Donna is brilliant and figured out how you can jumpstart the process if you shatterfry the plasmic shell and modify the dimensional stabiliser to a foldback harmonic of 36.3, thereby accelerating growth by the power of 59. My best guess is that it will be within a year’s time.”

“You’ll need to bond with it then, right?”

“Yes, that’s right. That’s why I asked for a spot here on this floor, so I can pop in whenever I feel like it to touch the TARDIS as it grows.”

“And Rose? Won’t she need to bond with it, as well?” she asked carefully.

He sighed. “Yes, if she ever hopes to pilot the TARDIS, it would be best.”

“You realize that she needs to be included in on your plans? The sooner you do so, the better. Don’t expect to spring things on her five years from now when the TARDIS is ready. From what you’ve just told me, it sounds like you have less than a year to prepare her to bond with the baby TARDIS.”

“I know, I know…,” he said, gritting his teeth. “How do I get a foot in the door, Hal? She is more closed than I’ve ever known her to be.”

“Start by wearing the glasses Saturday,” Hal said with a grin. “And now, get out of my office so I can get some work done. We’ll talk at 11.00.”

Tromping down the corridor to a cul-de-sac at one end of the floor, the Doctor grumbled to himself about the emerging trend of women throwing him out of rooms. He came to an unmarked area with a keypad and hand scanner next to the substantial door. Several workmen were cleaning up as they prepared to leave. Nodding congenially to them as they left, the Doctor stepped into the small area and looked around. There were no windows in the room, but multiple pieces of equipment in boxes lined three walls. In the middle of the room sat a huge Plexiglas tank sitting on a two-foot pedestal stand. Taking the TARDIS coral from his pocket, he held it over the tank, which was large enough for him to sit in, had he been inclined.

“Look, baby TARDIS,” he chortled in a high-pitched voice as if talking to a child. “Here’s your new nursery! You’re going to love it in here.”

“You’ve got to be kiddin’ me,” came a gruff voice from the direction of the doorway.

Spinning around in surprise, the Doctor almost collided with Pete Tyler standing directly behind him. A bright pink blush started creeping up to his hairline as he shoved the coral back into his pocket. “Hi, Pete,” he squeaked with his trademark manic grin.

“Do I need to leave you two alone?” quipped Pete.

“Oh, no… just checking out the new living quarters for the TARDIS,” he said, trying to lower his voice a couple of octaves. “It looks like the perfect spot, Pete. Thank you!”

“Now, don’t think you can spend all your time here, Doctor. You have to actually work sometimes, you know. I’d have used the office next to yours, but it couldn’t be secured properly.”

“Having it on the same floor is absolutely brilliant, Pete. No complaints there. I can run right over anytime to check on it.”

“Excellent,” Pete said, reaching into his pocket to produce a slip of paper. “Here’s the security PIN for the door. It will lock in five seconds, so don’t dally about. Right now the only two people who have access are you and me. Let me know if you need to add additional access in the future.”

Reading the PIN and committing it to memory, the Doctor folded the slip of paper up neatly and placed it in his wallet. “I really appreciate the additional water sprinklers in the room, too. The TARDIS coral should be able to survive the heat of most fires, but the equipment may not. It’s not like I can pop back over the Void to get more.”

“Can any of it be replicated?” Pete asked.

“Possibly, if I have access to some of Torchwood’s more sophisticated lab tools and equipment.”

“Then make sure you replicate the equipment you can and store it off-site. We have a fireproof walk-in safe in the house that may do.”

“Good idea, Pete!” the Doctor said with a grin.

“Of course it’s a good idea,” Pete laughed. “That’s why I’m the big chief. Now, get to work going through those archives down in the basement. I expect you to identify at least a third of that lot this week, you hear?”

The Doctor froze in shock. “You mean I have access to the archives now?”

“You’ve had it for almost a week, Doctor.”

“But no one told me I had access!” the Doctor said in exasperation.

“Well, now that you’ve completed your new hire orientation and signed in blood that you know better, any bugger-ups and I get to tan your hide,” said Pete with a crooked grin.

“Awww, Pete,” the Doctor grinned back, “I really, really don’t tan all that well, as you’ve probably noticed. Suppose I’d better carry that employee’s manual with me for a bit.”

“You do that, Doctor,” he said as he left. “See you at dinner.” Pete backed up. “Oh yeah, I noticed a huge beef roast in the refrigerator this morning.”

The Doctor gave Pete the thumbs up sign as he left, thinking how amazingly lucky he was to be a member of the Tyler inner circle. He used his mobile to check with Malcolm on availability for lunch, and then began work on setting up the equipment for the TARDIS growth tank. At exactly 10.55 he stopped to admire his work. To a casual observer, it would have appeared not unlike the props and set of a Frankenstein movie. It had a dizzying array of tubing, pipettes, wiring and unrecognizable pieces of machinery attached to the empty tank. Locking the door behind him, he strolled over to Hal’s office.

“There you are!” Hal exclaimed before grabbing a handful of printouts and heading for the door. “Come on, I couldn’t find time on Rose’s calendar for this afternoon, so we have to go now.”

“W-what? What, what?” the Doctor stammered as she ran past him. Hal ran back and dragged him by the arm to the stairs.

“We have to go now, while she’s got time for us to talk to her,” she explained as she pulled him down the corridor. “I’ve completed the business case and printed it out. Let me do most of the talking if you’re not mentally prepared.”

They raced down the stairs to the next floor, the Doctor sputtering an occasional protest along the way, which Hal blatantly ignored. By the time they appeared at Rose’s office doorway, the Doctor was looking decidedly dishevelled and distracted.

“Hello! Come on in,” Rose called to them. She looked directly at the Doctor, who pulled himself up and tucked in his shirt, trying to make himself presentable now that he couldn’t avoid the situation. Struggling to control his breathing, he sat on the sofa next to Hal.

“So, what can I do for you two,” Rose began. She was the consummate professional, carefully composed features in a two-piece Brooks Brothers suit. The Doctor turned to Hal, who was equally composed and at ease, in spite of the fact that the request and business case had originally been hers alone.

“We’d like to make a request for permission to conduct Field work, Rose,” Hal began. “The Doctor and I collaborated on a project I’d been working on with an artefact from the archives. With the additional information the Doctor has been able to provide, I believe we have sufficient evidence to warrant a trip to locate additional artefacts in a potential debris field.”

Rose listened as she read the printout of their business case, frowning as she reached the second page. The Doctor squirmed a bit at the appearance of the frown, anticipating the worse.

“You think the artefact is a piece of a TARDIS?!?” she asked with a questioning look.

“A-about 95% sure, Rose,” the Doctor finally spoke up, getting a nudge from Hal. “It’s indisputably of Time Lord origin, however. The writing on it is definitely Gallifreyan.”

She pinned the Doctor with a stern look that caused him to squirm uncomfortably until he dropped his gaze to his feet.

“How much does she know? About you?” Rose asked.

“Everything,” he replied with a challenging look back. Rose seemed to consider this, several emotions flitting across her face before she turned again to the document.

“The location is quite remote, I see,” she noted neutrally. “The closest town of any significant population is over 25 miles away. You’ll probably need to camp out unless you want to spend all day traveling back and forth to the location.”

Hal nodded to take over the conversation. “I provided an estimate of expenses based on setting up a base camp, including rental of a Land Rover or Jeep and transportation of Field equipment from Torchwood and/or UNIT. We’ll need equipment that won’t be readily available on location. For the time being we’re estimating about two weeks duration, unless we make a very significant find.”

“When were you hoping to leave?”

“Sometime within the next three weeks, if it can be arranged,” Hal stated.

Rose nodded approvingly as she flipped to the last page of the document. “Very thorough, Hal. Give me a couple of days to review this with some of my Field operatives and obtain Pete’s approval, and I’ll get back to you with a final determination. But it looks good on first glance.”

The Doctor’s mouth dropped open slightly as he stared at Rose, wondering if he’d heard her correctly.

“Somethin’ wrong, Doctor?” Rose asked with a slight tilt of her head.

Oh, Great Rassilon, she just called me “Doctor,” he thought, eyes widened.

Oh, for crying out loud. Don’t screw this up! This is work, not personal, Hal’s voice cut through soundlessly.

He jumped at the crack of the telepathic voice reverberating in his head. He stared at Hal, wondering how she had managed to communicate telepathically with him without touch, and was about to ask her aloud when Rose brought him back to reality.

“Doctor? Are you alright?”

He gulped. “Uhm, yeah. I’m always alright. Just a little overwhelmed by the idea that this is my first Field mission, is all,” he replied with a weak grin.

“Yeah?” Rose said with a little coquettish smile. “Think you’re ready to spend two weeks inna tent with a coupla women?”

“Two… two… women?” he said breathily, suddenly afraid his respiratory bypass would kick in at any second.

“Can’t send two researchers out in the Field without an experienced Field Operative goin’ along, you know,” Rose responded.

“But who…,” he started saying before Hal kicked out to the side with her foot, catching him in the ankle.

“Oops, sorry about that,” Hal said rather unconvincingly. “I’ll review Field travel protocols with the Doctor prior to our trip, Rose. He’ll be ready by end of next week,” she assured Rose.

“How’s the TARDIS coral project goin’, Doctor?” Rose asked casually.

“It’s fantastic, Rose,” he answered quickly. “I’m setting up the equipment today, and hope to get the nutrient solution mixed into the tank by evening. Would you like to see the new growth chamber?”

“Love to,” she said. “Perhaps once you’ve installed the coral, I can come by for a lit’l peek at your new baby.”

“I’d really like that, Rose,” the Doctor replied hopefully. “I’ll let you know when it’s ready.”

Rose checked her watch meaningfully to indicate she was running out of time. “Oh, my… my next appointment is comin’ up already. No rest for the wicked, eh?”

“No lunch break?” Hal asked.

“Not today, I’m afraid. Too much to do.”

“Well, thanks for giving up your only opportunity for lunch to talk with us, Rose,” Hal said with a look of regret.

“No problem a’tall,” Rose responded with a smile. “I’m so glad you brought this to my attention, ‘cause it’s the most excitin’ news I’ve heard in months.”

Excusing themselves and thanking Rose again, Hal and the Doctor walked quickly out of Rose’s office to find someone standing outside her doorway waiting. Making their way up the stairs to their offices, the Doctor stopped on the first landing.

“Hal, how did you speak to me telepathically in Rose’s office?” He seemed troubled by the fact.

“I’m sorry,” she apologized. “It must have been reflex. I got used to doing it with Elly. We were almost in constant communication, so I never really thought about it. It would just happen.”

“But I had my mental shields intact and I didn’t feel any resistance. It was like… you were suddenly just there.”

Hal dropped her gaze, a pink flush crept into her cheeks. “I’m so sorry. I didn’t mean to invade your privacy. It’s just that… your mental shields are now… transparent to me.”

“What?”

“It’s not that I hear your thoughts all the time,” she answered quickly. “But if you are feeling strong emotions and I’m close by, sometimes the emotion and thought will leak through.”

“But what about your shields?” asked the Doctor. “How are my emotions and thoughts passing through?”

Hal sighed. “Apparently, it’s both ways, Doctor. Mine are semi-transparent to you, as well.”

“But I feel nothing, hear nothing, from you!”

“It’s because you’re primarily a touch telepath, Doctor.”

“Ooooh,” he drawled. “I get it now. If I were to touch you... “

She nodded. “Somewhat. You haven’t made the depth of connection to my mind, as I did with yours. You would only connect with the surface thoughts and emotions, over which I have fairly good control.”

“Hence, I still felt little or nothing when I hugged you last weekend. But I bet you got quite a psychic blast!”

“Yup,” Hal said with a wry smile.

“But can I deliberately send conscious thought to you? Ooooh, that would be so cool if I could send you, like, a psychic telegraph! It could come in handy, even. Just imagine…”

Hal raised her hand to stop him. “Oh, I can only imagine, Doctor. Yes, you could do that… with practice. Let me get used to you calling my mobile at all hours first, ok?”

“Oh, I need to call Malcolm,” he suddenly exclaimed. “He’s supposed to join us for lunch.”

“I dunno, Doctor. I’ve got a lot of catching up to do, and…”

“Oh, come on, Hal,” he pleaded. “I owe you again for getting me through that meeting with Rose!”

“Doctor, she doesn’t seem to be anywhere close to the ogre you seem to think she is. She was perfectly normal in that meeting. There was no hostility coming from her at all.”

“Really?” the Doctor said, surprised.

“She was honestly shocked that I knew as much as I did about you. And admittedly, she was just a tiny bit jealous of that. But no hostility whatsoever,” Hal reassured him as she headed for the stairway exit.

“Then something’s changed,” he said as he followed her into the corridor.

“That’s probably because you wore these,” she grinned, tapping an arm of his glasses.

“Oh, yeah, I did, didn’t I? You really think they made a difference?” he preened.

“You’re positively twee, Doctor. How can she resist?”

“Am not,” he protested with a pout. “But who’s the other woman going with us? Some stuffy Torchwood bureaucrat who will second guess every step we take?”

“Well, duh,” Hal said, rolling her eyes. “For a Time Lord, you sure can be a dumb-ass sometimes. It’s Rose, you knucklehead.”

“Seriously?”

“Yes, seriously.”

“What else did you pick up from her?” the Doctor asked as he draped himself over her sofa.

“It’s not like I did a mind probe on her, Doctor. I just knew she was thinking about herself when she mentioned the two women.”

“Sooo,” he drawled, “I get to spend two weeks camping in a tent with two lovely ladies!” he grinned. “Definitely cause for a celebration. Sounds like a two martini lunch to me.”

“Great. Now I have two future events to dread instead of one. I may need more than two martinis to get through the next month,” Hal sighed. “I’ll get my keys.”


************************************************************************************************



The Doctor (Ten II) finally gets to examine a very curious artefact from the Torchwood archives, starts building out a TARDIS growth chamber, and meets with Rose.

I own nothing of Doctor Who or Torchwood, which are owned by the BBC. I own only original characters.


Title: Wayward Son - Chapter 17: Angels Have Fallen

Characters: Jackie Tyler; Ten II; Pete Tyler; Tony Tyler; Original Character
Genre: Alternate Universe; Angst; Character Study; Het; Romance
Author's Description: Set mostly in the AU of Pete's World; TenII hits a big snag in his efforts to forge a new life with Rose and finds himself facing an unexpected identify crisis.
Length: WIP
Rating: Teen for slight swearing

Comments

( 2 comments — Leave a comment )
kelkat9
Feb. 7th, 2012 02:55 am (UTC)
Brilliant. I just adore the easy going friendship between Hal and the Doctor. Oh and the glasses! Yes, he must wear them more! Fascinating history of the Time War you included and I love that included Four! All in all, a fun and interesting chapter! Can't wait for the party!
biteymadlady58
Feb. 7th, 2012 03:24 am (UTC)
Thanks, KK!

I'm rather anxious to get to the party, too, believe me. There's a little bit of unfinished business to attend to first, though. :)

Most of the Time War stuff is cobbled together from canon, actually. Although the episodes themselves are a bit skimpy, RTD interviews and novels expand on that enormously. Naturally, they don't all agree so I have to pick and choose a sort of best-of-breed approach. I'm not married to any of it, but just trying to make sense of the War, since it's such a huge piece of NuWho.
( 2 comments — Leave a comment )