Length: 1169 words
Timeline: Post - Doomsday, AU
Characters: Rose, mention of Mickey
Summary: Even in another universe, somethings never change.
Author's Notes: I haven't read a lot of DW fanfic, and I'm sure this particular concept has been done before, but it was in my head and I had to get it out. :D Set a few years after Doomsday, Rose's time.
"I'm approaching the...bubble...thing...now," Rose Tyler told her mobile, as she inched closer to the large red bubble that was slowly expanding, eating up more and more of the alley.
"Be careful," Mickey warned, on the other end. "Back-up's on its way. ETA 10 minutes."
Rose grinned at Mickey's military talk. "Alright, I'm gonna sign off. Signal's dodgy. Call you as soon as anything happens."
She turned off the phone and stuck it in her pocket, then considered the bubble in front of her. Should she try to go closer, or wait for back up? She wasn't really a wait for back-up kinda girl. She took a breath and started forward.
"Move, move, move, move, move!"
A man was running up the street, waving one arm frantically to the left, gesturing for her to, well, move. Rose ducked back just in time for him to streak past her and jump head first towards the ball. He seemed to phase right inside it, disappearing like a swimmer ducking under the water. The surface of the ball rippled, then became smooth again. Rose watched with her mouth open, wondering what had just happened and if she should attempt to go in after him, when the ball made a small 'poof' noise and spewed the man back out. He landed on his knees, holding a foreign looking animal in his arms. The ball began to shrink rapidly and disappeared with a soft 'pop', leaving the alley exactly as it had been before it arrived. Rose whirled on the man and crouched down beside him, eagerly.
"Are you alright?" She asked. She looked at the animal he held. It could have been a dog, if it didn't have six legs, and it might have been a tiny horse, if it didn't have fur. "What's that?"
"Time Gremlin," The man answered, matter-of-factly. He petted the creature on the head affectionately. "Oos-a-good-time-gremlin? You are, yes you are!" The animal purred and wagged its tail happily.
"And what exactly is a time gremlin?" Rose inquired. She studied his face, trying to place him. Torchwood was big, but she was sure she hadn't seen him around before. "Are you new?"
"No," the man said, off-handedly. "Technically it's called a Gornash. People like to keep them as pets. Yes-they-do, yes-they-do." The Gremlin licked Rose's nose with a forked tongue. "Gornashes are attracted to time fissures, cracks in the time space continuum. They play nearby and they fall in, end up halfway across the galaxy 300 hundred years in the future or some such place and then they get scared and lonely. They build up a wall around themselves - "
"The big red bubble."
"Exactly. The big red bubble gets bigger and bigger, enveloping as many people as it can, until the gornash can't sustain it anymore and it explodes and everyone falls out in the middle a different century on the other side of the universe. That's actually the way a lot of the Fresna Nebula was populated."
The man gave her a large, proud smile and Rose sensed she was supposed to be impressed. Unfortunately, after the life she'd led, little impressed her anymore.
Rose reached out to pet the gornash on the hand, following the man's example, while she took in this concept. It was awfully adorable, with big yellow eyes that had a look of utter adoration in them. Her hand brushed across something buried in the fur. She investigated further and found a metal collar around its neck, engraved with a few words of writing.
"Binare, ID # 2-4-apple-delta, Telnacharianmagolishnin," Rose read off it. "Is that anything like Raxacoricofallopatorius?"
"Close, it's Raxacoricofallopatorius, take a left and travel a few years," The man replied. He squinted at her. "You can read that?"
"It's written in Telnacharianmagolishninian."
"Oh," Rose smiled wistfully. "I'm good with languages." She paused. "So, what department of Torchwood are you from?"
"None of them," The man said, happily. "That's what you are then? Torchwood?"
"Yeah," Rose answered. "How do you know so much 'bout the gornashes if you aren't from Torchwood?" She looked at him suspiciously. "You alien?"
"Oh, very," The man replied. He grinned. "Well, I'll be off then. Nice to meet you, Torchwood."
He got to his feet, which put Rose off-guard and she fell backwards on her backside. The man began to walk up the alley, the gornash held under one arm, still purring happily. Rose quickly sorted herself out and got to her feet to chase after him.
"Oi! Wait up!" She fell into step beside him. "Where you takin' that?"
"Home, of course. Poor thing is lost. Aren't you? Yes-you-are!"
"Hoof," snorted the gornash. "Hoof!"
"You can't just...leave!" Rose insisted. She stepped in front of him and put her hand on his chest to stop him. "I mean, I don't even know who you are. You could be an alien threat or a spy, or worse."
The man rolled his strong brown eyes impatiently. "You humans. You're always certain doom is comin', never trust anybody different. It's a wonder you'll even make it out to colonizing, instead of just hiding in your beds, keepin' aliens in cages and pretending the universe ends at Pluto."
Rose felt her knees shake. She closed her eyes and different voices played in her head. "Funny little human brains, how do you get around in those things?" She opened her eyes again and took the man in more closely. He had strong, golden brown eyes that had a familiar concern in them, a wide, sparkling smile and a face that was handsome in a slightly off-beat kind of way. What did it for her, what really made everything click was the fact that the man's hair, sort of tousled and falling roguishly over his forehead, was a light ginger colour.
"...Doctor?" She whispered, very softly.
"Yeah, that's me...oof!"
The man lurched forward to steady her as Rose's knees buckled fully and she started to fall. The gornash leapt from his arms with a squeak and between trying to snatch it and keep Rose up, all three ended on the ground in a heap. Rose found herself caught his arms, half in his lap and she smiled dumbly up at his concerned face.
"I'm not a medical doctor," he said, warningly.
"You're the Doctor," Rose mused, happily. "You're this universe's Doctor. What number are you? Did you just regenerate? You don't look like either of my Doctors, but I don't suppose you would."
"I think I'm missing something," The Doctor said, gently. "And, with a brain like mine, that's saying something. You're not sick are you?" He pulled out his screwdriver, which Rose felt like she might kiss, and began to scan her. "Your heart rate is up."
Rose laughed somewhat hysterically and threw her arms around his neck, hugging him fiercely. He patted her on the back with a hesitant sort of attempt at comfort. The gornash licked her fingers and jumped onto her stomach, wagging its tail with vigor, happy to have happy people around again.
"Have we met?" The Doctor asked. "What's your name?"
"Rose," she answered. "I'm Rose. Rose Tyler. We haven't met. Not really. It's kind of a long story."
He smiled. "I love long stories."