This is the sequel to my AU post-Doomsday reunion fic Come Back to Me
Synopsis: Tyler and a rather pregnant Rose go on holiday in Cardiff, where they run into a bit of trouble. Meanwhile, the Doctor attends a seriously un-peaceful peace conference. Crossover with Torchwood in later chapters.
Spoilers: This is an AU story that takes place after series 3 of Doctor Who and episode 2.05 (Adam)in Torchwood.
Disclaimer: If I owned Doctor who you'd be watching this story on TV
A/N: Please be advised that there is one brief instance of swearing in this chapter Also, I've made two brand new headers for this story and it's prequel, Come Back to Me. Please take a moment to check them out.
“I know this is difficult to understand.” Tyler hardly listened as the words washed over him, preferring to bury his face behind a worn brown baseball cap and intently study the laces on his trainers. The Doctor shaped man kneeling before him went on and on about duty and responsibility. He apologized repeatedly for what he had to do and who he had to leave behind. He promised to return.
It all meant next to nothing to Tyler, who couldn’t quite convince himself that anything in this room actually existed. Last night he’d been nearly crushed by unrefined borrowed emotion, but this morning it was the opposite that threatened to bring him to his knees. A great gaping emptiness had taken up residence in his mind. It was like he’d woken up but never quite stopped dreaming. Nothing felt real anymore.
He could see his father crouched before him, feel the pressure from each finger as they gently clasped his shoulders. Rose was across the console room, her lovely face turned down in concern as she absently rubbed her protruding middle. He received nothing from them, not a thought, not an emotion, not even the tiny flickering in the back of his mind that said his sister was still healthy in his mother’s womb. Even the TARDIS felt silent. He been blinded and was terrified to move lest he injure himself in the darkness.
“Tyler, Son, are you listening to me?”
“What?” His head snapped up to meet the Doctor’s gaze, but the image was suddenly blurry, his vision clouded.
“Tyler, you have to focus.” Strong hands reached up to cup his face, fingertips just brushing his hairline. “Look into my eyes, that’s it.”
Instantly everything came rushing back in crystal clarity and he felt his family’s presence as keenly as he ever had. Tyler gasped, bringing huge breaths of air into his lungs. Tears burned at his eyelids as he realized what had been done to him; he never wanted to feel that alone ever again.
“Hey now,” his dad’s voice was once again accompanied by the familiar mental presence he’d felt for as long as he could remember. Tyler’s whole body shivered in trepidation as he realized it would only remain as long as his father kept touching him. “Shh,” strong arms enveloped him, rocking him back and forth as if he were still a small child.
“Don’t let go,” Tyler’s voice was barely more than a whimper. “Don’t leave me all alone.”
“I’m so sorry. You know I have to go.” The words were as genuine as the remorse he felt coming off his dad, but they did nothing to calm his fragile nerves.
“No.” Tyler fisted his hands into his father’s suit jacket, squeezing the blue material until his knuckles turned white. “You can’t.”
“Your friend, Kissarna, needs me. She, and many of her people, will die if I don’t go.”
“Take me with you,” he pleaded. “She’s my friend. She needs me.”
“I can’t do that. It’s too dangerous with the state you’re in right now. I don’t know what the strain would do to you and I can’t monitor you and find a way to save Kissarna at the same time.”
“Then take the mental block away. I need to feel someone else besides me. I’ll go mad if I don’t. I know I will.”
The Doctor pulled back to look his son in the eye. Tyler clung to his hands, desperate to maintain physical contact. “Rose doesn’t speak Universal Basic, so I can’t leave you on a quiet outpost somewhere. We’re in London in the year two thousand and forty. There are more than eight million people in that city, let alone the seven billion on the whole planet. You’ve been having trouble processing the four consciousnesses you’re exposed to every day. Reading the emotions of that many strangers at once could burn you up like a short match. The block stays.”
Tyler tried to protest, but the fear of being alone in his own mind again choked the sound before it could emerge. He swallowed convulsively, mortified when two hot tears streaked down his cheeks.
“You won’t be alone,” the Doctor promised, reaching up with one hand to wipe the tears away. I will never leave you all alone. Your mum’s going to be with you the whole time. I’ve been teaching her to put up mental barriers so she won’t accidentally hurt you anymore, but she can leave them down while I’m gone. If you focus, and I know you can, you should be able to feel her. Hold her hand if you need to; the physical contact will help support the link. It will be enough to ground you until I return for you both.”
“What if you don’t come back?”
The Doctor flashed him a deceptively confident grin. “Not going to happen.”
Panic bubbled up from the pit of Tyler’s stomach, threatening to displace his last meal. “You don’t know that. I can tell when you’re lying. You want to come back but you can’t guarantee it.”
“I have to go.” One gentle tug and the Doctor pulled his hand free of Tyler’s grasp. The emptiness he’d felt earlier crashed in around him so completely that his vision went black for a second. All he could hear was his heart beating out a frantic tattoo, all he could feel was some inexplicable emotion that belonged only to him. How did the rest of the universe cope with so much silence, so much solitude? He stumbled back a few steps, equal parts horrified and indignant as the urge to lash out became his single most important drive. The hollowness inside him was instantly filled with rage.
“You’re a liar.”
“Tyler, don’t do this. You have to calm down. Concentrate on your mother.” The Doctor motioned towards the far end of the room. “Rose, I need you to get closer to him.”
“Don’t touch me!” He jerked out of her reach before she could make contact, his movements becoming more and more like a cornered beast. “You don’t care about me anymore; why should you? You’ve got a child of your own on the way, a precious Time Lord baby.”
“What are you saying?” The Doctor’s face fell into a mask of confused grief, but Tyler was too hysterical to care. “You know that’s not true.”
“Do I? You’ve never left me behind before, never! I’ve seen you do it to everyone else, over and over again, whether they liked it or not, but I always thought you’d keep me with you. I’m supposed to be your son.”
“You are my son.”
A bitter laugh escaped his mouth. “You have a funny way of showing it. Last time I checked, abandonment wasn’t a category for father of the year.”
“Stop it right now.” The Doctor’s voice took on a hard edge as he stepped towards him. “You don’t know what you’re saying.”
Tyler evaded him. “So now you know how I’m feeling, do you? I suppose you might, seeing as how I can’t tell anymore since you’ve psychically lobotomized me. But then again, your bullshit’s always been one more thing that’s bigger on the inside.”
“Tyler!” It was Rose’s voice this time. Her shock at hearing him swear was obvious, despite his deadened abilities.
A tiny bit of remorse made its way past his hysterical anger, but he refused to acknowledge it. He wanted his father to hurt like he was hurting, to understand exactly what this was doing to him. Rage built upon rage, but there were no other voices to drown it out. He had done this to him. He had caused him to suffer like no one should ever have to suffer, alone.
He looked up as his father, his brilliant eyes swirling with livid purple flames. “I hate you!”
Tyler blanched. The wave of pain that shot out from the Doctor then was so powerful it cracked the barriers in Tyler’s psyche with an audible pop. He staggered back, horrified by what he’d done, as hot tears once again leaked down his face. He stood there for a second, staring into the pallid face of the man who’d raised him as his own. Both his father’s anguish and his mother’s horrified shock trickled in around the newly made gap in his mind, filling him with the utmost revulsion. Tyler’s contempt however was no longer for the Doctor, but for himself, the most ungrateful boy who’d ever lived. All the “I’m sorry’s” in the universe would not be enough to fix this.
“Oh god.” Tyler took off in a run, through the TARDIS’s double doors and out into the night. He found himself in a deserted part of town. A streetlamp a few feet away illuminated a plastic bench had he threw himself face down upon it. “Oh god, oh god, Oh god,” the words came out in hysterical sobs.
What had he done? His father was leaving in a few moments, maybe never to return, and he thought his son hated him. Nothing could be farther from the truth.
The TARDIS doors creaked inelegantly behind him and a few moments later a soft hand was petting his hair. His mother’s loving comfort surrounded him through their link. It was a gesture he most certainly didn’t deserve and it filled him with even more self loathing.
“I hurt him mum.”
Tyler sat up. He sniffed and rubbed frantically at his nose and eyes, attempting to erase all traces of emotion. “I’m still angry he’s leaving us, but I’m really sorry I said what I did. I didn’t mean it.”
“I know that too.”
“He’s gonna hate me now.” Tyler’s voice cracked and he could feel his face crumpling all over again. Rose pulled him into her arms and let him cry.
“Shh,” she whispered, lightly touching his cheek to more securely link their psychic bond. “He could never hate you and neither could I.”
“He took me in when I was a baby,” he continued brokenly. “He saved me from becoming an animal in a zoo. He loved me when he had no obligation to and I just threw it back into his face.”
“Love isn’t an obligation, it’s a choice. Your father chose to love you; one argument isn’t going to change that.”
“I don’t deserve his love.”
“No one ever does. That’s what makes it so precious. You know how many times I told my mum I hated her when I was a teenager?”
Tyler pulled back and wiped his nose on the sleeve of his brown hoodie. “No.”
“Way, way more than once. We Tyler women can have a bit of a temper.” Rose let out a genuine laugh and rubbed her belly. “You just watch when this little one pops out. Forget the ‘Oncoming Storm,’ she’ll probably be immediately upgraded to a hurricane.”
He giggled at the absurd image, letting himself imagine a little tyrant of a girl exasperating his dad.
“There’s that smile.” Rose reached into her bag and pulled out a white handkerchief. “Here you go; you can stop using your clothes now.”
“Ta.” Tyler blew his nose loudly before stuffing the hankie in the front pocket of his hoodie. “So where do we go from here?”
“Metaphorically or realistically?”
Tyler let out another laugh, this one a bit more heartfelt, “Realistically, for now.”
“Good, because I’m not so sure I could answer the first one.” Rose reached into her bag again and pulled out two more items. “What I can do, is help keep your mind off, well…”she giggled again, “your mind. I have a psychic credit card and your dad’s psychic paper. What do you say we find the best hotel in London and eat room service until we’re ready to explode?”
“I say it sounds like a good plan.” She held out her hand and he took it gladly, grateful to keep their link as free flowing as possible. The tiny crack he’d made helped a little bit, but physical contact was always better.
A quick glance at his temporal wristwatch confirmed it was a little after two in the morning, so finding a taxi might be slightly more difficult than usual. They walked away from the TARDIS and further down the deserted street, searching for a sign to point them towards a main road. It wasn’t until a few moments later that he noticed something was decidedly strange about this place.
“Mum?” Tyler voice was full of confusion.
“Why do all the street signs have the words printed on them twice?”
“What?” The confusion on Rose’s face mirrored his own as she realized what he had. Every sign on the street was absurdly redundant, from “SLOW, SLOW” to “NO ENTRY, NO ENTRY.”
A creeping suspicion sparked in Tyler’s mind, only to be confirmed a moment later as the grating sounds of the TARDIS dematerializing filled the air. With the ship’s telepathic field out of range the repeated words on each sign changed from English to something decidedly unintelligible. Tyler mentally kicked himself for never having learned Welsh.
“Well,” Rose let out an exasperated sigh as they continued down the street. “I’m sure the room service in Cardiff is just as good as in London.”