His Dark Materials/Doctor Who
Gen ; whispers of Will/Lyra and Rose/Doctor
PG, 2000 words
Summary: After the end, Will Parry finds Rose Tyler, and discovers he is not as alone as he'd feared.
"Two teas, please – one with sugar. No, nothing else thanks. Yes, a pot would be great. Oh hang on, I'm sure I've got the change here somewhere, just a sec."
They meet in cafés, and sometimes they don't talk, because this is one of the few times in their lives they can immerse themselves in their thoughts without being deathly afraid of someone offering a penny for them.
Rose puts the tray down, squeezes into a chair lodged in between the table and the wall. "Rough weekend?" she asks sympathetically, not taking her eyes off Will as she takes a sip of her tea.
Will raises an eyebrow. "You can always tell, can't you?"
"It's weird, isn't it?" Rose says, frowning. "There's probably some sort of, y'know, psychobabble or something to explain it." She shrugs. "Don't tell me you can't do the same, though."
Will smiles. "Fair point. Still disconcerting."
"It's not magic or aliens or anything, really. It's just that I'm the only person in the world that knows how you feel."
Will laughs – he laughs more each time she sees him, though it's always low and almost eerily controlled – and nods. "Quite the elite club, aren't we?"
Rose grins. "We'd be good on Trisha, I think. 'My girlfriend's in another universe, but I still love her!'" Rose watches his face carefully, because even though she understands him in a way that really is weird, Will's still unpredictable and there's something burning underneath all his reserve that she's afraid to disturb. But Will just rolls his eyes at her and the danger passes.
Will first saw Rose about a month after he'd heard about her. He always had an ear to the ground, listening for whispers of parallel worlds – not out of some deluded hope on his own part, but rather because it seemed mad to assume he was entirely alone in his experiences. An exclusive minority, of course, but not alone. Once that thought had struck him, he was ever on the lookout. Though really, all he'd needed in the end was one of his five wits to notice the Cybermen's crossing into another world.
And that was frightening, a whole new arena of terrifying possibilities after all that had come before. Because – and Will has never had to articulate this thought until he started to speaking to Rose, it is so fundamental to his thought processes – however unlikely, there was always the chance that Lyra was in danger from these monsters. Even now, after it all seems long ago and far away, it can make Will's heart stop, just for a moment. Rationally, he knows that she could be in far worse straits and he would have no idea, but he has faith that she could best anything her own world could throw at her.
Then in the aftermath, in the triumph of a world miraculously healed, there were whispers – mutterings on message boards Will frequented, almost a feeling in the air, that in the midst of all this there were now people in this world who shouldn't be here. Through painstaking investigations that more often than not led to dead ends, Will found them. Mickey Smith, and Jackie and Rose Tyler. A family reunited, of sorts.
It only took two weeks after that for Will to come down to London and begin his search. It was almost silly, how easy Rose had been to find in the end. Sitting by the window in a café, staring out into space, almost as if she were waiting for him. Which she was, Will supposes, it's just that she hadn't realised it yet.
"How's work?" Will asks.
"It's good. Very good. I mean, if I'm honest most of the people – well, the people in charge anyway – are mental. Really, completely mental. Just like my world, really." A pause, then Rose sighs. "I've got to stop calling it 'my world', haven't I?"
Will knows that a lot of the time there's nothing he can say that will be better than silence, and there's much he could say that would be a lot worse. He knows he should tell her the truth, what he knows about crossing between worlds and the tragedy that's so soon down the line for her and her family, but then there are days when she's happy and days when she's sad and in all the spaces between he just can't.
When Rose had spotted Will looking at her through the window that first morning, she'd been instantly on guard. There was something in his expression that startled her, and as she watched him walk through the door it had felt like a remnant of old times – suspense, possible danger and maybe even a better sense of purpose. She'd almost been disappointed when she realised he didn't pose any threat.
Then she'd met his eyes and realised that here was a fellow traveller, someone else that knew what it was to wake up under another sun. Her life altered, after that.
Rose always tells Will all about Torchwood, and doesn't even consider an idea of secrecy. It would seem ridiculous, really.
"You should join up, you really should," she says, cajoling, hoping, because work would be so much better with Will there.
He shakes his head. "No, I don't think so. Not really for me."
"Will!" she cries, exasperated. "The alien tech we get here, it's junk, most of it. Oh, compared to what you've dealt with, it'd be a piece of cake! And it's good work, it honestly is. Important." She pauses, laughs. "Because if we're not there, if we're not watching—well, I'm not sure the planet'll make it. Right idiots, some of them."
Will just smiles, and Rose realises that when he wants to be, he is as immovable as a mountain. She sighs. "It's just… Ah, never mind. You should think about it, that's all."
Will had imagined he'd need to work to gain Rose's trust, to show proofs of good intention. But in the end that had seemed unnecessary, when he started talking it was almost as if she was expecting each word. He spoke of windows between worlds, of moving through time and space and battles between men and angels, all the while Kirjava sitting at his side. One day, he would have to show her to Rose.
"How many worlds have you seen?" she asked.
"I don't know. Hundreds, maybe."
She nodded. "None of them like this one?"
"No, not really."
"And you broke your knife?"
She settled back in her chair. "Alright."
"It's not really, though, is it?"
She glanced up at him. "No, I guess not. Not really."
He leaned forward, feeling a rare urge to confide, to express something inner. "But there's something else, too. I think you lost someone, someone in your world." Her eyes widened. "I want to tell you about Lyra."
"Listen." Will pauses for a moment. "Maybe this is a stupid idea, but I was thinking – I was thinking about going travelling, just for a bit. And I thought, maybe you could come with me. Just, if you wanted."
Rose doesn't seem repulsed by the idea, but Will still felt embarrassed. "I'd have to call my mum every day, probably." She rolls her eyes, then smiles. "But yeah, I'd love to."
"We could go anywhere you like, I don't mind. I picked up some brochures the other day, have a look."
He pulls out leaflets on Morocco, Thailand, Australia, they flick through them together, and it's almost as if new worlds of possibility open out in front of them. The next best thing, anyway.
Rose never thought that she'd seen everything, but when she'd been talking to Will for a week she had come to the startling conclusion that in fact she'd barely seen anything. The stories he told – they seemed completely off the scale, compared to what she'd done. Though he'd seemed impressed at her tales of technological wonders, and glimpses into all of time.
"Time travel…" Will shook his head wonderingly. "That's one thing I definitely didn't get to do."
Rose shrugged. "When you've been with the Doctor long enough – well, it doesn't seem like a big deal any more."
"No," he agreed, "I can see that."
"And you really can, can't you?" Rose started laughing, and hadn't stopped for a full five minutes. "God! That is such a relief!"
And so it continued to be.
"I should probably be getting home." Rose looks regretfully at her watch. "I said I'd pop in and see Mickey for a while tonight."
"You should come to Oxford sometime," Will suggests.
"Oooh, Oxford!" Rose says in a terrible mock posh accent. "Not sure they'd take the likes of me there." She smiles. "But no, you're right. Bit harsh making you come down here all the time."
"Just a bit," Will says.
"Are you free this weekend?"
Will looks thoughtful. "I think so. You should come up. I'll show you the Ashmolean, there's some really good stuff there."
Rose frowns "The what now?"
"Oh, sorry. It's a museum."
"A museum?" Rose looks disparaging. "What do I want to go to a museum for?"
"You might learn something! There's other things, too."
"Well, you'd better think of some other things, I'm not coming up just to traipse around stuff in cabinets." Rose picks up her handbag. "I'd look up train times when I get home."
Will grins. "Great."
"Ok." Rose pauses for a moment, feeling as though there's something more she wants to say, but the words don't seem to be there. "Ok. I'll call you, maybe."
"Right." Rose walks out of the café, and already she can't help working out how much time it will be before she sees him again.
Will sits back as the train pulls out of the station.
Rose isn't Lyra, even though sometimes when he sees her, her hair reflects the light in just the same way and his heart stops for a moment. But she's a friend, and that's important. Will can help her, and that gives him purpose in a world that doesn't seem to need him as much as he'd once thought it did. She understands what it is to have that constant craving, that splinter in the mind, that need for just one last adventure, and they're both marked out somehow, marked by a loss beyond the ken by most of the people in this world.
And he's not her Doctor, he can't show her far distant starts. But he killed God and she killed the Devil and so it would almost seem their great tasks are over, all spent out in the first two decades of their lives.
"Will." There's a chastising voice by his elbow. Kirjava. "You mustn't get like this, not any more. You know that what's important, what's really important, lies ahead. Our whole life, that's what we've got to use. We've only just started."
Will nods, but he wishes that sounded a more hopeful prospect. But he'll show Rose Oxford, and maybe they'll stop talking about their pasts, maybe even stop talking about the present, and start talking about the future. He'll teach her how to see dæmons, she'll tell him about aliens, and maybe he'll think about Torchwood, or maybe he won't, but they've got to start moving forward.
"What do you reckon to Marrakesh?" he asks Kirjava, who's staring out of the window. She slinks up his arm to sit on his shoulder, and he nods. "Yes, Marrakesh sounds good."