Chapter Twelve

Finally, the Doctor was left alone with Rose inside the lab. Both of them submitted to having the shock collars put around them and being barred into the room. Interestingly enough, the Doctor noted, nothing was taken from the room including sharp objects that could be used to fight someone. But then he surmised that not only would the Valeyard use the shock collars on them if they resisted but he'd probably send the Master and Xelok in as well.

The Doctor figured he might as well keep up appearances and decided on a preliminary scan of Rose. He had her lie down on a gurney and wheeled it over to a large scanning device mounted in the ceiling. He positioned the gurney under it, told Rose to lie still and relax and used a remote to bring the scanner down so he could operate it. The scanner was about six feet long with a flat bottom that was similar to an X-ray. The Doctor pushed a button and a thin laser beam started at Rose's head and scanned across it, moving slowly down her body while the Doctor waited. Once the scan was complete, a holographic representation of Rose was formed and it floated up above her real body. Rose watched with silent fascination as the Doctor waved his hand and the skin of the Rose hologram faded away to be replaced by her musculature. He studied the muscles intently, slowly walking around the table, checking to see if anything looked amiss. When he was satisfied that the muscles were okay, he waved his hand again and the skeletal system came up. Again, he walked around the hologram, pausing at the right leg when he noticed a small fracture that had healed up.

"What's this from?" he asked Rose, pointing to the fracture on her shin.

Rose raised her head and looked where he was pointing.

"I got that when I was a teenager," she said, lowering her head back down. "Went out for a ride one night with a few friends. Unfortunately, one of them was drunk and he went off the road and hit a pole. My friends were injured severely but I came away from it with just a fracture to my leg. Was in a wheelchair for a few weeks.

"This drunk friend wasn't Mickey, was it?"

"No. Actually, Mickey was in the back and broke his leg as well, worse than mine actually. My drunk friend had massive head injuries, a broken leg and cracked ribs, he was the worst."

The Doctor nodded and continued to circle the gurney. When he was done, he waved his hand and looked at her vascular system.

"Apart from the fracture, I see nothing wrong yet," the Doctor said to her.

He waved his hand again and looked at her organs.

"I don't see any evidence of anything living inside you," the Doctor said, "Everything seems okay."

He reached up and pushed another button and several connected sheets of paper came out of a slot that had more information on it. The Doctor gathered up the sheets into a bundle and looked through them while Rose watched him.

"You have a bit of plaque buildup in your arteries, Rose. Better mind the chips," he said to her. "But still, nothing that's out of the ordinary here. I suppose I could try a blood test. You can sit up if you like."

Rose sat up on the gurney while the Doctor walked over to the counter. He lay the report down and gathered what he needed onto a small metal trolley. When he was done, he wheeled the trolley back over to her and tied a rubber tourniquet around her right arm. He felt for a vein, found one near her elbow and drew some blood while Rose watched. He took two small vials and took the needle out while Rose winced a little. He secured a wad of gauze over the insertion point and put a plaster over it before he took the vials over to a small machine sitting on the counter. It looked like a microwave with any glass in the door. He opened the door, inserted one of the vials into a holder and closed it. He pushed a button by the side of the door and the machine hummed to life as he sat the other vial down next to it.

While he waited, he had a sudden thought.

"Question," he said, turning to Rose. "Do you remember the nanogenes?"

"Yes," Rose said.

"Okay then, question, did you ever come in contact with the nanogenes?"

"Yes. When I was with Jack on his ship the first time I met him," Rose said.

"And what happened?"

"My hands were injured. They had rope burns after I hung about on that barrage balloon. I was in his ship and these nanogenes healed my hands."

"And did they give off a golden glow while they were healing ya?"

Rose thought and her eyes widened as she nodded.

"You think it might be that?" she said to him.

The Doctor hesitated for a moment before he opened a drawer and took out a scalpel.

"Rose, I told you I wouldn't hurt you but will you allow me to do something in order to test out my theory."

"I trust you, Doctor. Do what you have to."

"I won't hurt you too much and…"

The Doctor reached inside another drawer and pulled out a small brown bottle.

"I have something that will heal the cut if my theory is proved incorrect," he said.

He carried the scalpel in his right hand and the bottle in the left. He noticed that Rose was watching him without any fear at all and he thought about what the Valeyard had implied, that his companions would let him do whatever he wanted to them without any qualms, how they had total and complete trust in him and he had to admit it was scary to think he had this much sway over Rose that she would agree to his idea even though she had no idea what he was going to do with the scalpel.

He sat the scalpel and bottle down on the trolley and used some of the alcohol to clean Rose's right palm. After he was done with that, he picked up the scalpel and told Rose to remain calm and hold still. Rose drew in her breath as he used the scalpel to make an inch and a half cut on her palm. Then he sat the scalpel back down on the trolley and mopped up some of the blood with another piece of gauze while he waited. At first nothing happened and then after thirty seconds, the palm started to glow. The Doctor leaned in close, staring intently at the glow while Rose's palm was repaired.

"I don't see any nanogenes at all," he said to Rose while he watched the wound being healed. "They're not that tiny."

The wound was healed and the glow faded as the Doctor leaned back up and shook his head.

"If there are nanogenes present, they must be itty bitty because I saw nothing but the glow," he said to Rose. "But surely there's some other explanation besides some mystical force inside you."

He sighed and shook his head, flummoxed. Now he was also interested in what was inside Rose but not because he wanted it. He wanted to make sure whatever was inside her wasn't harming her in any way. He heard a small ding and turned back as the analyzing machine stopped and another series of interconnected sheets of paper came out of a slot in the side. The Doctor gathered up the papers when it was done and studied them as he walked back to Rose. Halfway to her, he stopped suddenly and Rose noticed him doing a double take before staring at something on the paper with wide eyes.

"I don't like the expression on your face, Doctor," Rose said.

The Doctor didn't answer. He went through the data with a bewildered expression on his face. Rose was tempted to ask him what was wrong but sensed he wouldn't say until he was ready. So she waited patiently, trying to remain calm as he finished reading the printout. He sat the readout down on the trolley and Rose frowned when he stared at her intently without saying anything.

"Doctor, am I alright?" she finally asked him.

The Doctor came closer. He glanced over his shoulder at a CCTV camera mounted by the door and positioned his body so it was blocking the view. Then he raised his hands to Rose's head and put them against her temple. Rose's eyelids fluttered and then they closed as the Doctor entered her mind and began to search. Rose frowned as she felt his consciousness inside her memories and she tried to resist it.

No, it's alright, the Doctor thought to her after setting up a mental barrier around her mind to keep out the Valeyard, just relax, I won't hurt you.

What are you doing, she thought back.

Rose, I came in here to find out something but also to speak to you privately, he thought back. I read the results and you have Time Lord DNA spliced with human DNA.

Rose jerked her head in surprise but her eyes stayed close and the Doctor kept her steady as he probed her mind.

I don't know how but I have a theory that the glow is regeneration energy, he thought to her. You haven't died so you haven't regenerated…if you even can regenerate. But somehow this energy keeps healing you and preventing you from dying.

So what do we do, Rose thought to him.

Well, we're going to try to keep this away from the Valeyard, that's for sure, the Doctor thought to him. But I also want to try something. I want to try to open your mind so we can speak to one another telepathically. I also want to shield your mind from the Valeyard so he can't hurt or influence you in any way. Just remain calm, Rose, while I do this.

Rose kept still while the Doctor pressed further into her mind. He began to construct a neural pathway that would allow him to access her mind and communicate with it, hoping that there was enough Time Lady in her that she could do it. He also threw up mental barriers around her mind, shielding and protecting it from the Valeyard and other outside influences but allowing himself a way to gain access if he needed to. As he did this, he mentally heard some of her thoughts and had a few flashes of memory as he weaved in and out of her subconscious.

I love you, Doctor.

The Doctor smiled softly when he heard her consciousness say that to him as he expertly navigated her subconscious. He knew he had to work fast before the Valeyard grew suspicious of the silence and he quickly did what he needed to do before sealing her mind closed from the Valeyard's influence. He pulled back out and Rose opened her eyes and smiled at him.

Can you hear me, Rose, the Doctor thought to her.

Yes, Rose thought back.

Good, now we have a way to communicate without Mad, Bad and Dangerous to Know overhearing us, he thought to her. I better keep working before he comes in here.

Rose nodded and the Doctor mentally touched her mind in a comforting way, glad for her mental presence after being without the mental comfort of his people. He went on with his tests, thinking up a few new ones but knowing that Rose might be part Time Lady like River was excited him. Because he realized that perhaps, like River, he might be able to love Rose completely after all.

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