Pairings: Rose/Mickey, Mickey/Jake
Word count: 1500ish
Summary: Rose learns some home truths and is faced with a decision.
Warnings: On the dark 'n' angsty side. Don't read if you're looking for fluffy happy endings. I'd also avoid it if you're a big Pete fan.
Notes: Post-Doomsday Rose was one of the last things I expected to find myself writing, but I got to thinking about alt-verses in Who and then this plotbunny bit hard.
Rose was glad when the computer chimed to alert her to a new email. Any distraction was welcome from the agony of waiting. Her data mining script had been running for hours, but as it grew closer to completion she was becoming more and more anxious about what the results would show. She was dimly aware that the Doctor would have been able to extract all the information she'd been gradually piecing together for over a week in seconds. But things didn't work like that in the real world.
When had she started thinking of this place as the real world? She wasn't sure. She shook her head and tabbed to her mail client.
The mail was from Mum:
here are some new photos of Gwyneth I took this morning. Doesnt she look cute???/ She'll be walking in no time!!
love and hugs and try not to get blown up by any aliens!!
Rose smiled as she looked at Gwyneth's single-toothed grin in the pictures. Maybe that was when she'd started thinking of this place as home, of Pete as "Dad" - when her sister had been born. The first, probably the only ever, crosstime baby. They'd taken her suggestion for the name, though she'd never explained about the girl who saved the world.
She was glad that Dad had been able to pull some strings to get Mum a home computer, and a digital camera. Personal use was strictly limited -- the world was rebuilding its hi-tech infrastructure from the ground up, all previous technology suspect, potentially containing Cyber-trojans. Torchwood had done as much as it could, but the crisis had alerted the world to the potential untrustworthiness of alien tech, too. Even Rose's own mobile phone, from that other Earth, couldn't help, upgraded as it had been by the Doctor.
The computer chimed again, and Rose flicked back to her search programme with a heavy heart. She already knew what she would see, but the stark confirmation was still galling.
Equipment manifest discrepancies.
Materiel losses reported from operations five sigmas over the mean.
Frequent periods of radio silence and unexplained disappearances from tracking.
There was a traitor within Torchwood.
A traitor she knew all too well.
* * *
The subbasement. Stygian home of the elite field ops teams. Dim lighting and long corridors. Rose picked her way to the very end, clambering over and wriggling past jumbles of equipment and piles of weapons.
You could start a war with the stuff down here. And finish it.
Was that what they planned? A civil war?
She found Mickey in a huge hangar-like room. In the far corner was that ridiculous little blue van -- they'd insisted on keeping it, said it was lucky. It was more retrofitted than one of James Bond's Aston Martins now, of course, but still they took it on all their missions.
"Rose." He smiled and leaned in to peck her on the cheek. "What are you doing here?"
She shrunk back from him. "I know what's going on, Mickey."
Before he could respond, there was a clattering as Jake emerged from the back of the van. "That's nearly the last, Mickey-man," he said. Then he saw Rose. "I should have known they'd send you," he said quietly.
"Nobody sent me, Jake," she said. She looked into the back of the van. "I suppose all this is going to go missing on your next op?"
"Rose, it's not what you think," Mickey said.
"What is it then, Mickey? 'Cos what I think ... I wish I didn't think what I think."
"Jake and me, we've been talking ..."
"Pillow talk?" she interjected sharply. For a moment, all three looked shocked. Everything had been different since Rose had arrived in this world, but they'd never talked about it openly. The elephant in the room was suddenly visible, and trumpeting loudly.
"It's more important than that," Jake said. He couldn't know that he was echoing her own words, so long ago, about the Doctor, but she felt it as a knife-wound to her heart.
"Then explain it to me," Rose demanded.
"Rose," Mickey began, then stopped again. "Look ..." He blinked hard, as though it could force the words into a coherent order. "When we started here, we were fighting the Cybermen. But we were fighting for the people. Cybermen or no, they'd been kept down by the tops for so long. And now we've got ... look around you, Rose. We call it a People's Republic, but nothing's really changed. The people are still--"
"You mean Dad. You're talking about Dad. But he was Gemini! He helped you. You can't ..." She trailed off, as memories forced their way, unbidden, unwanted, into her consciousness. Pete, sat at home in front of the fire, knocking back brandy as he brooded on the decisions he'd had to make. Decisions she and Jackie had reassured him were the right ones -- the hard ones, but the right ones -- but as a totality, decisions that did nothing to contradict Mickey's arguments.
"Do you remember Sarah Jane Smith?" Mickey asked.
"Of course I do," Rose said.
"Turns out she's a journalist here too. But she hasn't published anything in six months." He looked into her eyes. "She was detained indefinitely without trial. Authorised by Pete Tyler."
Desperately, she searched for counter arguments. "Torchwood deals with aliens. Maybe she found something the public couldn't be told. Maybe ..."
"There are better ways, Rose. There have to be."
And she couldn't help but think: he never talked to them about that.
"But it's not just Pete," said Mickey gently. "Harriet Jones, all the others. You remember what she was like on our world ... I've got a theory, Rose, that somehow this place is more ... authoritarian than where we come from."
Rose looked up at him. "People are people, Mickey. There was enough evil in our universe ..." But then her hand went to her mouth. "After you left, the Doctor told me about another parallel world he visited. Ages ago, when the Time Lords were still around. A fascist world ... It burned. He couldn't save it. I don't know, Mickey, maybe you're right. This place was burning before the Void closed. Authoritarian worlds that end in fire ... Maybe it's all just patterns, repeating themselves across time and space and reality." She looked out into infinity, the impossible memories of the Bad Wolf stirring in her mind. She forced herself back to reality. "But he's still my family."
"I know, Rose ..."
"No, you don't! Everything ... everything ..." Even the smallest things, like Mum's new computer, seemed poisoned by this new view of her world.
Mickey wrapped his arms around her, stroked her hair, and she didn't resist. Eventually she pulled away, drying her eyes.
"What are we going to do now?" Jake said, his voice uncomfortable.
"I don't know," said Mickey. "What are you going to do, Rose?"
"It doesn't matter what I do, in the end," she said. "If I can figure it out, someone in the quartermaster's office will eventually."
"She's right," said Jake. "We'll have to move ahead, make this the last shipment."
Suddenly, Mickey said, "Come with us." Jake's eyebrows shot up but he said nothing.
Rose stood absolutely still, paralysed by indecision. Mickey was right, she knew -- and, worse still, she knew that she knew that because of everything she'd learned from the Doctor -- but she wouldn't just be betraying Pete, she'd be betraying her Mum, and her sister. Her tiny baby sister, completely innocent of any of the complexities of the grown-up world.
"What--?" Jake began.
Mickey interrupted him. "What if a new universe really does split off at every decision?" he said. "Maybe both happen. In one universe you come with us, in one you stay."
"Maybe there's a third way," said Rose. "If you really are going to start a rebellion ... you could do with someone on the inside."
They both looked at her. "Gemini's daughter, carrying on the family tradition," said Jake. "I like it."
Mickey just said, "Are you sure?" She nodded, slowly at first, but then more firmly.
"How will we stay in touch?" asked Mickey.
"Still got your TARDIS phone, haven't you?" She smiled, at the memory of the simple adventures of the past, when right and wrong were obvious, when family and friendships weren't fractured by betrayal and deceit.
"Come on, we need to get going," Jake said. "Someone's going to miss you from your office soon."
Rose grabbed Mickey's head with both hands and pulled him to her, kissing him long and hard. He kissed back, and for a moment there was nothing but the two of them, and everything was gloriously simple, as it hadn't been for years, not since the Doctor came into their lives and showed them the wonders of the universe, and the shadows too, and why and how to fight them.
An eternity later, the kiss broke, though neither of them consciously broke it. Mickey climbed into the van. Rose leaned in through the open window and kissed him again, quickly this time. She looked across to Jake. "Look after him," she told him.
He smiled back at her, and a look of understanding passed between them. "'Course I will, pet."
She stepped back from the van as the platform it was on started to rise -- like something out of Thunderbirds, she'd always thought before, but now that seemed too childish. Nothing around here was the same any more, never would be again.
She waited until the van was completely out of sight, then turned to face her future.