Chapter Fifteen

Jackie walked with Rose while they followed the Doctor down the corridor. The passageway was bare for about one hundred and fifty feet and then they saw a circular doorway off to the right. The Doctor stopped and Rose and Jackie stopped behind them. The Doctor turned, looked at them for a moment and Rose guessed he was telling them not to move. She said that aloud and the Doctor nodded and they watched while he went through the doorway.

"I hope the Doctor knows what he'd doing, Rose," Jackie said.

"He had the spider's memories," Rose said. "That's how he found this place. He would know it was abandoned and the spider was the only one using it. If it wasn't, he wouldn't let us come down here."

The Doctor came out of the doorway and nodded to them before turning and going back inside. Rose squeezed her mother's hand and they walked through the doorway. Jackie gasped when she saw several cocooned bodies lying on the floor, illuminated by the faint light of the glo balls. Rose walked over to two of them and bent down to examine them while the Doctor came up beside her and stared at a third in silence. Rose felt her mother come up behind her and she heard something being unzipped and her eyes widened when she suddenly remembered the rucksack on her back. She had been so busy and had gotten so used to the feel of it that she forgot it was there.

"You had this on your back, love," Jackie said as she peeked into it. "I figured you might have a torch but you saw the light and we didn't need them but…"

She found a small knife and pulled it out. She came over to Rose's free side and knelt down.

"I suppose since I've become a companion, I might as well pull my weight," she said to her daughter.

Rose slipped her rucksack off, intending to check the contents since she took it without question. She found a torch near the top, pulled it out and turned it on, using it to see inside while Jackie got on her knees, bent over and carefully cut away the webbing from the cocoon. The Doctor walked around to Jackie's free side and folded his legs under him so he could see what she was doing. Jackie glanced at him and they shared a glance before she continued her work. She cut enough of the cocoon and tested it to make sure it wouldn't stick to her fingers. She pulled it away and saw a decomposing lizard face.

"You're right, Rose," Jackie said, leaning back up. "This is one of those lizard things. It must have attacked them sometime in the past and killed them or killed enough that the others left."

Rose paused from rummaging in the rucksack and looked at the lizard head while Jackie pulled back the webbing. The Doctor was observing and Rose figured he was thinking about the situation and letting her and Jackie help him to figure things out. She actually felt comforted, not only by having the Doctor near but by having her mother with her helping them out. She was glad she was taking a proactive part in all this and not just standing around and whinging about their situation. Jackie looked around at the other cocoons.

"So I'm guessing they're all dead then," Jackie said to her daughter when she resumed her inspection of the rucksack.

Jackie called out and asked if anyone was alive. Rose paused with her hand in the rucksack and she and the Doctor looked around but there was no movement and no one answered.

"You said the TARDIS translated, would they understand me?" Jackie said.

"Dunno but it shouldn't matter. They should have responded to your voice anyway, yeah?" Rose said.

Jackie nodded.

"Anything useful in there?" Jackie said while the Doctor turned his attention back to the women.

"Yes, basic survival stuff. Matches, torch, portable tent, a bit of rope, knife…stuff like that," Rose said, glancing at her mother.

Rose got to the bottom and Jackie noticed she paused and frowned with her hand inside it.

"What's wrong?" Jackie said.

Rose pulled out a small flat disc and turned it over and over in her hand.

"I recognized everything except this," Rose said, showing it to her.

"Alien doodah," Jackie said with a shrug.

"Yeah but nothing else in here is," Rose said.

She was about to say something more when she saw the Doctor stand up. He raised his right front leg and put it back down. He raised his leg again and held it there while he nodded at the disc.

"Um…I think he's telling us to put the disc on the ground, Mum. Put it under his foot," Rose said, pointing to him.

Jackie put it under his foot and the Doctor pressed on the disc with his foot. He stepped back and a holographic image of a beautiful lady appeared in a light over the disc. She was young with flowing brown hair and a TARDIS blue dress.

"Rose, I am the TARDIS's holographic interface," she said while the Doctor tucked his legs back under him, settled down and observed. "I made sure you got this rucksack because I wanted to leave you a message."

"Oh," Rose said.

"What," Jackie said.

"This rucksack was the only one with my name on it. Jack, Ianto and the Doctor received plain ones," Rose said. "Did wonder why until things got crazy and I forgot I had it."

"I know what happened to the Doctor," the interface said. "And it pains me to know that he is no longer in his body. I cannot speak for him, except to say that I know he loves you dearly and he's thinking of you and your mother and he will find a way to get your mother back and get his body back and keep both of you safe. Trust in that, Rose."

The image faded and Rose choked up while the Doctor stood up, walked over to her and nudged her head with the side of his. Rose put her hand on the side of his head and rubbed it lovingly. Jackie picked up the disc and held it in her hands, watching while Rose stroked the side of the spider's head. She had to smile at that, realizing that her and her daughter were in good hands and perhaps they wouldn't end up dead after all. The Doctor looked at Jackie and Jackie stared into his eight black eyes and realized she could see a hint of the Doctor within them. She hesitated a moment and put her hand on the side of his head. She realized that the Doctor would move Heaven and Hell to protect her daughter and her as well and she softened her heart a bit more towards him.

The Doctor backed up and lay down again. Rose took the disc from her mother, zipped up the rucksack and put it on her back again before she and her mother climbed back on. When they were on his back, the Doctor carefully stood up, turned and walked out of the room with them.

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