Genre: Hurt/Comfort, Crossover
Rating: All Ages
Summary: DimensionHopping!Rose meets someone whose life has some unexpected parallels with her own. Inspired by this post by the wonderful allegoricalrose.
Disclaimer: I own nothing.
Beta: drunkbooking. Who is an awesome human being and who should do more drunk book reviews, kthx.
Pairing: Ten/Rose, Lyra/Will
A/N: I wrote this a few weeks ago and then I took a summer class that brought the rest of my life to a standstill. Now that’s over (woo!) and I have a full month to write fun things!
Read on Teaspoon, when approved.
The gravel path crunched under her trainers as Rose made her way towards the back of the botanic gardens. It was a satisfying feeling, as though the ground agreed with the direction in which she was headed. There should be a seat back here, if this version of the universe was similar enough to her own. She was almost under the branches that overhung the wooden bench when she saw the girl sitting there. If she hadn’t been so tired, she probably would have kept moving, but as it was, she had been running without sleep for nearly twenty eight hours and was starting to feel it.
“D'you mind if I sit?” Rose asked, though she felt bad disturbing the girl seated before her. The girl was younger than Rose; she seemed to be around seventeen or eighteen, though with a weariness about her that made her seem older. She shook her head, her hair a deep blonde that seemed to be every colour all at once. It wasn’t until Rose sat down next to her that she noticed that the girl had a pet, a ferrety-looking animal the size of a cat that lay curled at her feet, one eye open and fixed on the intruder. She hoped it was friendly.
They sat in silence for a few minutes, both lost to their own thoughts. Rose took the time to mentally draft the field report she would need to submit once she got back to Torchwood. Tomorrow, once she had slept. The zeppelins that moved lazily across the sky above were so familiar that she had thought the dimension cannon was malfunctioning when she first materialised in this universe. It had taken her several minutes to realise that there wasn’t a single mobile phone or Vitex advert in sight.
She sighed as she considered her field report. At least this universe seemed relatively safe, if technologically stunted. Nothing of use here, at least not in terms of finding the Doctor, but she had walked through the university town and found a few trinkets to bring home to Tony. She knew that this wasn’t exactly what interdimensional travel was meant for, but he was her baby brother and who was she to argue if she found a carved wooden toy giraffe with zebra stripes (because apparently that was one peculiarity of this universe) that she knew would send him into paroxysms of joy?
A small movement startled her out of her musings. The girl beside her was tracing her thumb along the bench seat. Were the gardens a sanctuary in this universe? Rose hoped she hadn’t accidentally disturbed some kind of religious devotional. She snuck a glance at the girl’s face, her brows knit together, her mouth drawn tight as her thumb swept back and forth over the smoothed wood.
“Who did you lose?” Rose asked softly, turning to the girl as she recognised the expression on her face. The girl sighed, and the tawny rodent next to her curled around one leg, fully awake now, its eyes narrowed at Rose.
“What makes you think I lost someone?” The girl asked, sounding a bit defensive. She scooped up her pet and deposited the animal in her lap. It chittered at her, little chirruping noises that seemed to quell her agitation. "Sorry, that was a bit rude.“
"Trust me, I’ve heard worse,” Rose waved her off. "Anyway, I ask because you look how I feel.“ She gave the other girl a half-smile.
"So you’ve lost someone, then?” The girl’s shoulders seemed to relax as she took in Rose’s meaning. She searched the older woman’s face. "Was it in the battle?“
Now it was Rose’s turn to feel defensive. How could this girl know anything about the battle? She was still a child! But, of course, she was being daft. The Doctor would have chided her for being so linear. She had talked to plenty of people over the last few months, through dozens of different universes, who had told her about battles of one kind of another. It hadn’t only been her and the Doctor, despite what he had said to the contrary. When the Cybermen had weakened the walls between her two universes, any number of barriers between other universes crumbled as well. She smiled as she thought about how much he would have loved to have been proved wrong. He would have loved to see with his own eyes the same-but-different places that she had travelled to over the last few months. But then again, if he were here with her, she wouldn’t need to be jumping across the barriers herself and then he wouldn’t see these parallel Earths, either. Rose snorted. Paradoxes.
Either way, she tamped down the thrill that had flared through her at the girl’s mention of a battle. No use getting her hopes up before she had enough information. If, she reminded herself. If.
"Yeah,” she finally confirmed. "It was my friend. We traveled together. And he…he got stuck. Somewhere…somewhere else.“
The ferrety animal on the girl’s lap lifted its head, giving its mistress a long look.
"Hush, Pan. I know.” The girl stared at Rose, looking at her as though she was trying to decipher a mystery in the air around her. “Where was he stuck? How?” Her question was sharp, her face eager.
Rose hesitated, not sure how much to tell her. How much could she really understand? She had only stopped to sit for a few minutes, reluctant to go home to the mountains of paperwork in her office and the crushing responsibility of being the one who was supposed to know things. This garden, tucked away in the recesses of the university, was quiet and peaceful, as good a place as any to avoid things for another hour.
Before she could decide how to respond, the girl pulled a fob watch on a long chain from under her shirt, examining it closely.
“What’s that?” Rose asked, realising it had too many hands to be a timepiece.
“It’s an alethiometre,” the girl replied. Well that was no help.
“What’s it do?”
“It tells the truth.” The girl’s defensiveness seemed to crumble a little and she gave Rose a small smile. "Just not to me. Not anymore, at least.“
"Well, I’ll try to save you the trouble of asking it anything.” She smiled, hoping that the girl would believe her. "My name’s Rose, by the way.“
"I’m Lyra. This is Pan.” She gestured to the pine marten in her lap, which was now perched on her legs, sniffing Rose with interest. "You don’t have a dæmon,“ Lyra observed, sounding awed. "Where’s your dæmon?”
“I dunno what you mean, I’m sorry.” Rose shook her head. "What’s a dæmon?“
Lyra gave her an odd look, and again, she seemed eager and full of excited disbelief. "You’re like he was, aren’t you? Your dæmon’s inside of you like Kirjava was. That must be it, Pan.” She looked at her pet, and Rose wondered whether the animal was Lyra’s dæmon, whatever that might be. "Where are you from?“ Lyra asked, sounding slightly breathless. She was whispering now, even though they were the only two people in the garden. "You’re not from this world, are you?” Her blue eyes flashed at Rose with an unexpected intensity.
“How did you know that?” Lyra smiled and shook her head, barely seeming to believe that Rose was real.
Rose told her new friend about the Doctor, from their meeting in the basement of Henrik’s to the Battle of Canary Wharf and the mysterious disappearance of the stars. Lyra had noticed it too, had wondered what it meant. She had tried to ask the alethiometre, but couldn’t understand the answers it gave her, not so early in her studies. She admitted to being slightly reassured that Rose had taken up the call to defend the universe, though she said it made her feel small and selfish for being glad that it wasn’t her turn this time.
Then it was Lyra’s turn to tell Rose her side. She talked about Roger and her parents. She told Rose about Dust, the stairway to the stars, and her ability to read the alethiometre. She told her about the witches and the Gyptians and the panserbjørne, about their trip to the land of the dead and Mary Malone. She only mentioned Will Parry at the end, when Rose asked how she had been able to travel between different universes.
“His name was Will. Will Parry. He had a knife that could cut doorways between them.” Her jaw tightened as Pan stood on hind legs to nuzzle Lyra’s cheek. She rested her forehead against the dæmon’s, murmuring low to him before falling into silence.
“But he had to close the gaps, didn’t he?” Rose asked softly. Lyra nodded. "And now he’s stuck on that side.“ The younger girl closed her eyes and sniffed once, wiping away the tears impatiently before nodding again.
"How long has it been?” Rose asked.
“Oh, love…me too.” She turned to wrap Lyra in a hug. "I’m sorry. I’m so sorry.“ She waited until the other girl’s tears subsided and rubbed her back, trying to give her at least a little comfort.
"I’m sorry,” Lyra said. "I’m usually fine. We’re both working to try to find a way back to one another someday. It will probably take our entire lives, but…it will be worth it.“ She smiled, a beautiful, dazzling thing through her tears. "Anyway, my job is to try to make world a better place in the meanwhile.”
“Oh, so you’re not doing much at all with yourself then,” Rose teased, catching her tongue between her teeth. Both women laughed. “Did he know? Did you have a chance to tell him?” She asked, as Lyra looped a strand of hair behind her ear. The other girl nodded.
“He knows.” She smiled, burying her fingers deep in Pan’s fur, and the marten’s eyes slipped shut in bliss as she scratched behind his ears. "What about you? Did the Doctor know?“ She half-turned towards Rose.
"Not until after…the walls were closing. Couldn’t come through properly. It was too late.”
“Do you know?” Lyra asked quietly, fixing Rose with a look that made her feel entirely transparent, as though all of her insecurities and fears were written on her face. "Because I’m sure he does, Rose. I know he must!“ She had such conviction in her voice that Rose spoke without thinking.
"You could come with me,” she said, a small flicker of hope springing to life. “Maybe my world is the same as Will’s…I could help you find him,” she offered. Pantalaimon jumped up, agitated, and turned circles in Lyra’s lap. Lyra lay a hand on his back to calm him, shaking her head slowly.
“Thank you, Rose. I wish that I could. But I know where Will is. My task is different from yours, I think.” She closed her eyes as a breeze came through the garden, blowing her hair back from her face. “Your travel between worlds has consequences, you know. You create tears, places where terrible things happen.” She opened her eyes, serious now.
“I know,” Rose nodded. “But you’ve got to understand, Lyra. I think we’re all in danger if I don’t find the Doctor. He’s the only one who can help. Trust me, I’m not happy to be the one to make this choice. But someone has to. And it’s either this or watch every single universe die. I’m sorry.”
Lyra nodded once, and they were silent. It was nearly twilight now, though it was the longest day of the year and full dark would not come for several more hours. Rose knew that she would need to leave soon, but she hesitated, not wanting to leave Lyra so soon. Later, when she was home in her flat, Rose would laugh to herself about the whole thing. Another person she didn’t want to leave behind. And yet. She sighed, standing slowly as the other girl blinked her eyes open again.
“I should go,” she murmured. "They’ll get worried if I don’t turn up soon.“ She felt foolish now, speaking merely to fill the empty space, but the other woman saved her from her own ramblings.
"Thank you, Rose.” Lyra took Rose’s hands in her own as she stood, Pan weaving himself around her ankles. "For the offer. There is nothing I would love more than to accept and come with you…“ She trailed off, a wistful look in her eyes. Lyra shook herself, smiling before she spoke again. "But you have your job, and I’ve mine. And we’ll try to help each other in whatever ways we can, won’t we? In the end, I think that I’d only distract you from your task.” Rose nodded, and Lyra hugged her once, quickly, before releasing her and smiling. "I am terribly glad that I met you. I won’t forget you.“
The night air was cool now, and Rose zipped up her leather jacket against the chill. "No, I won’t forget you either, Lyra. Thank you.” They walked together, over the bridge toward the garden gate, both silent. There wasn’t much more to be said, but Rose felt heartened by the idea that there was someone else out there, playing a part in making sure they would all survive whatever was coming next. They hugged once more and then separated, Lyra making her way towards the twinkling lights where she must live and study, Rose assumed, and Rose towards the dark, open meadow where no one would notice her disappearance.
“You do have a dæmon after all,” Lyra mentioned casually as she made to turn away. "If I squint and unfocus my eyes a bit, I can see him. He’s a wolf, but you probably already knew that.“