The War On Earth (8/8)

Title: The War On Earth
Author: sarah531
Rating: PG13, possibly bordering on R
A Sequel To: Turn of the Earth and all related ficlets (but it just about makes sense without it)
Characters: Trisha Delaney, Shareen Costello, Maggie and Thomas Finch (Clive’s wife and son), Elton Pope, many OCs
Summary: Bad Wolf went everywhere, including people’s heads. That in itself would be troublesome enough without half a million Daleks destroying your planet. Or having the man who changed your life leave to defend an alternate universe. Or knowing that the person who saved Rose Tyler is not coming to save you.

Part one
Part two
Part three
Part four
Part five
Part six
Part seven

The next day on Earth the buses did not run, the telephones did not ring, the newspapers were not printed, and people were sobbing in the streets.

Trisha and Shareen sat on a burnt wall around the back of the estate. They couldn’t talk about the hideous clean-up operation going on around them, so instead they talked about the man who had ensured they survived the destruction. Even if he probably hadn’t know he was doing any ensuring.

“Last proper face-to-face conversation we ever had,” Trisha said, “he said have a good life. Those exact words.”

“Really?”

“Those exact words.” Trisha repeated. She stared off down the street and didn’t know whether to smile or burst into furious tears. “So…” She blinked. “So.” And then she really did burst into tears. Shareen put her arm around her, and she cried and cried and cried.

“Sorry,” she whispered.

Shareen shrugged. “Hey. Entire world in pieces, dead bodies everywhere, man you love transported to alternate, unreachable universe- who can blame ya?” And then she cried a little too, almost certainly thinking of her own family- she hadn’t been able to reach her aunt or young cousin, and was scared for them. Trisha squeezed her hand and blinked her own tears away.

“He’s not the man I love,” she said. “Had to stop before someone got their heart broken.” She sniffed loudly and rubbed her nose. “So right now I just want to be happy. And I want Maggie to be with Elton and be happy, and I want you to be happy and rich too ‘cos you deserve it, and I want Jackie and Mickey and Rose to be happy wherever the hell they ended up.” She sniffled. “Do you suppose there’s even the slightest chance I might get what I want? Cos if so I’ll carry on, and wish everyone back to life!” She put her head in her hands and sobbed, again. For about half a minute all she knew were tears, and then she looked up.

Shareen looked back at her. “Mickey and Jackie will be alright. They’ve got each other and I know they’ve got Rose,” she said determinedly. “And Maggie probably will start seeing Elton once she’s won Thomas over and they’ll live together and be just fine. And you’re gonna be fine too- you’ll get older, get married and get stupidly rich. And have a big expensive house, and I’ll come live in it and use your swimming pool and sauna.” She grinned through her tears. “So there you go.”

Trisha smiled.

“Hey,” Shareen said sadly. “Like my mum says sometimes- the earth will turn. Things will be alright again. Hell, Rose went off time-travelling…she must have seen the future. And I bet it’s alright, Trish. It has to be alright.”

*****

The next week passed like it was the last week on Earth. Statements were made on television, flowers were laid on doorsteps, some of the dead were buried and the whole world watched the skies. Trisha too was afraid, afraid and very sad. Alex’s mother was dead. So was Maria’s mother. Shareen’s aunt was dead and her cousin in hospital. Everywhere she turned there was another horror, and a man she’d never met now haunted her dreams.

Did he do this? Did he g-get Torchwood started a-a-and they brought the monsters and he did it?

She never saw his face.

She woke up crying almost every night, and so did both her brothers. Sam was still too young to be all that ashamed of crying. Rob was different: he’d smash at the walls and break things, tears streaking down his face.

Eight and a half days after what had happened happened, Trisha met her friends and family at the local park- the park with BAD WOLF scrawled across the walls, the park near which Rose’s father had died. The park where the Powell Estate Memorial was being held. It had been Karen’s idea.

Seats were laid out across the concrete, flowers and candles placed on the ground. Spare seats were at the back. It was quite cold.

“I have a speech,” Shareen said. She was wearing all black. Trisha was in her own black dress; it was a little too big for her now.

“I thought you didn’t like funerals,” Trisha said sadly.

“I don’t,” Shareen answered. “Nobody does. But I don’t want to stay quiet, not for this one.”

Karen spoke first, welcoming everyone. She looked tired, but she was all dressed up in new clothes and seemed fiercely determined to see this through. Trisha applauded her wildly once she was done. And then Shareen stood up.

She looked at them all; at Trisha and Maggie and Thomas and Elton. She took a deep breath.

“The world’s a strange place,” Shareen said. “Right now it feels like it’ll stay cold forever.” She stared out past the audience, and Trisha knew she was looking at the Bad Wolf on the wall. “And people are strange as well. I mean, we survived. The worst thing to ever happen, and we’re still here.”

Trisha still kept the pieces of rock in her pocket even now. She took one out and held it.

“I feel so weird doing this,” Shareen said. “Like I’m just saying stuff everyone already knows. We should fight,” she said, strength in her voice now, “but not the normal way, not guns and bombs and fire. Not now. We can fight by gettin’ on with things, by doing what we did before- go to the pub, go shopping with mates, watch telly, eat chips. And not hate.” Thomas Finch shifted in his seat just a little: Shareen didn’t see him but Trisha did. “Them things that came here were all hate. We’re not like them. We’re gonna remember what happened here- and we’re gonna remember everyone, they’re not just The Victims, they were parents and siblings and friends!- we’re gonna remember it all. We’ve got our cold little world and it’s defended. It can be defended by us now. We fight.”

Mad applause. Trisha clapped wildly, although she was shivering in the cold. Alex Kelly clapped only a little; she was crying. Shareen took her seat again.

Trisha looked at the Bad Wolf on the wall. It would never end, she realised, not really. There would be more invasions, more death, more ends of the world. There would always be other people who walked the streets during alien invasions, who met unexpected people in unexpected places, who did their research and found the answers and tried just so damn hard.

She was thinking of Mickey as she thought about that, but she also thought of herself, and Shareen, and Elton, and Jackie. And even of Rose Tyler- she was surely one of them, at the end.

*****

Later that day- the evening- Trisha climbed the stairs of the Powell Estate. She came to a door, and held her breath, and knocked.

The door opened. “Hello,” came a sad voice. “Hey there, Trisha.”

“Alex?” Trisha said. “I got something for you.”

Alex leaned her head against the doorframe. Trisha reached into her pocket and took out one of the bits of rock. She took Alex’s hand, and dropped it into her palm.

“Oh,” said Alex. She held it up to the light and looked at it. “I, um…thanks.”

“You’re welcome,” Trisha answered. Before there was an awkward silence, she said, “Is Lloyd in? How is he?”

“He’s asleep,” she said. She rubbed her eyes. “I should be, too. Thank you, Trisha,” But she looked like she had something else to say, and she blurted it out. “When the monsters went away…flew away across the ground…I didn’t do that, did I?”

It was a perfectly natural thing for her to think. “No,” Trisha said. “That was someone else. But you were really brave, yeah? You honestly were.”

Alex sniffed, and blew her nose on a ragged bit of tissue from her pocket. “I…oh god…I wasn’t.”

“You were.”

“All this stuff happening right under my nose, and I didn’t know! All that stuff before…monsters and aliens!” Alex rubbed her eyes again. “Trisha, I don’t know what to do anymore!” And she started to cry. Trisha rummaged in her pocket for a clean tissue.

“Here,” she said.

Alex cried into her hands, although she was also still holding the rock. “We’ve been left all alone,” she said. Trisha didn’t know if she meant her and Lloyd, or the entire planet. “We’re all alone…”

“You are not,” Trisha said fiercely. She put her hands on Alex’s shoulders. “Come with me. I’ve got a website to show you.”

*****

Alex saw the website, and Lloyd saw the website, and Shareen’s family saw the website. It was passed slowly around everyone, half the estate and beyond, people telling each other this is what happened, now you know what you need to.

Rob saw it and he got up, walked away, and stared out of the window. Trisha’s dad saw it, and he gave her a horrifed look. The following day he and Karen had an argument- they had been on the verge of one all week- and he left the flat and left the building and didn’t look at her even once.

But he did speak to her, speak to her while staring at the wall, Thank you for saving my life. She’d almost forgotten about that.

And then he was gone. But the others were still there.

Trisha went to Mickey’s flat.

*****

Shareen, Maggie, Thomas and Elton went with her.

“This is sort of eerie,” Elton said, “Like going through a dead man’s room.”

Trisha turned on the computer, and she was quite sure she wasn’t wrong in doing so. She went through the files…there was an MSN conversation with someone called DeffreyVale1, rough copies of the website updates, some photographs of Rose and Jackie…and that was it.

“Why are we here?” Thomas asked.

“Information,” said Shareen. “That’s all.”

And Trisha saw it then.

Past the computer, sitting on a pile of blank paper, was a disk. A small blue disk. She reached out to pick it up. She knew exactly what it was.

It could change the world. Although no more than it had already been changed.

“Oh,” Maggie said, “that isn’t…”

Trisha held it up.

“Oh my god,” Maggie said.

Everyone in the room looked at it. Trisha looked around the room. The video camera she had given Mickey for Christmas was propped up next to the computer.

“The virus,” she said. She flipped it over in her hands.

“The Doctor gave Mickey a virus,” Maggie explained to Elton, “and he said Mickey should use it to wipe all mention of him off the Internet, to stop people finding him and getting into trouble.”

Elton stared. He reached out for it. “Like…what I did?”

“Like what you did,” Maggie said quietly.

“So you mean,” Shareen spoke up, “that if we put that thing on the Internet now, no-one would ever hear about him again? No-one would…”

“No-one would be able to find him,” Elton whispered. “If Mickey’d used that thing soon as he got it, I wouldn’t have met Ursula. Wouldn’t have met any of my mates.”

“You mean…” Trisha began.

“And,” Elton said, “we wouldn’t have been tracked down and murdered by something looking for the Doctor.” He seemed very far away.

“What should we do, Elton?” Shareen asked.

“You’re asking me?”

“You saw it all,” Maggie said. “You saw the woman you loved killed and brought back to life again, you nearly died yourself…it all happened to you. So I suppose…was it worth it, Elton? Is the Doctor worth the monsters?”

Elton’s face paled.

Trisha looked at her reflection in the disk. Her own eyes, that had seen so much, stared back at her.

If he’d used the virus soon as he got it…

What would she have shown to Alex then? And going right back to the beginning, would she have even met Mickey on the dustbin that night, if he’d gone inside to use the virus? If not for that one chance meeting, she would not have a good life and a best friend. She would not have gone to college. She would not have written Bad Wolf on the walls across London.

She might not even be alive.

Or would she?

The puppeteer again. Her hand hovered over Mickey’s disk drive. All it would take would be a click of the mouse. Just that one little thing, but the war would still have happened.

“Elton?” said Maggie.

“I don’t know,” Elton said. “You know the phrase ‘Salvation and damnation are the same thing.’?”

“Yeah,” Trisha said.

“Well, there you go. I don’t know. Never will, perhaps.”

Trisha clicked the mouse. She went into some different files, hoping for a message. A message from Mickey that said The virus is yours, and here’s what you should do. But there was nothing; the decision was hers.

Mickey’s last gift to her.

“Trish?” Shareen said. “You found it. You choose.”

“You can use it,” said Thomas.

“Or,” Maggie said, “you can break it.”

Trisha took the rock from her pocket. If she brought that down onto the disk, it would smash into a million pieces.

“What about Rose and Jackie and Mickey?” she said quietly. “If I knew what happened to them, if I knew they were alright, this would be easier.”

But of course she didn’t know. Didn’t know for certain. And she most likely never would.

She’d seen both love and monsters. Never seen the Doctor, though. She knew what he was…but not who he was. That seemed like something she should keep in mind. Rose Tyler had loved him. Maybe even Mickey had.

Elton said, “He changes people,”

“I know.”

Trisha put the rock back into her pocket. Then she lifted the disk, and looked at it for a second. But she didn’t break it, and she didn’t put it in the disk drive either: she slid it into her pocket with the rock.

“I don’t have the right,” she said, “Not for something this important.”

“Then who does?” Shareen asked.

“I don’t know.”

It went deathly quiet, apart from the footsteps of people in the flats upstairs. Shareen went to the kitchen to get herself some coffee.

“Don’t do anything,” she said. “Leave it how it is. Seems to be the best option.”

“Yeah,” Trisha answered. She felt strange. Like she held the Doctor’s fate in her hands, although of course she didn’t and nobody did. “Yeah,” She took it out and looked at it again. Her choice, and she’d chosen not to make it. Again.

“So,” Thomas spoke up quietly, “he’s worth the monsters then? He’s worth nearly dying for? He’s worth this?” He flung his hand at the window: it opened out onto the ruins of their city.

“We don’t know anything for certain,” Elton said calmly. “We don’t know the chain of events that led to this, and I suppose we never will.” He sighed. “Like I said…”

“Did my dad die,” Thomas said fiercely, “just so the Doctor could meet some nice blonde girl?”

They all fell silent at that, and Trisha didn’t know what to say or where to look. So she looked out of the window, and saw the scafholding around the buildings and neat piles of bricks on the ground. And the people walking about. They were starting to rebuild.

“Maybe they’re one and the same thing,” she said. “The Doctor is the monsters. And the other way around. Salvation and damnation, like you said, Elton. Both things in one.”

Elton nodded, and so did Shareen, and Maggie and even Thomas. Trisha looked at them all, and she put the disk back in her pocket. She carefully shut down the computer, waited for Shareen to take her last sip of coffee, and stood up.

“Let’s go,” she said.

They left the room. Trisha left last, and stood in the doorway, and looked around. There was a picture on the wall just opposite her: Mickey on a beach with his arms around Jackie and Rose. She looked at it.

“Thank you,” she said. “Have a good life.”

She closed the door behind her, stood on the other side of the wall, took a deep breath, and walked off with the others.

*****

Once upon a time, four people gathered round in a place called Bad Wolf Bay. Only one of them, however, had heard any sort of goodbye.

Rose cried. Mickey looked at her, and considered the exact same question his old friends from another universe had considered.

“Rose,” he said, “It’ll be alright.”

She seemed to barely hear him. She didn’t say a word. Mickey thought of cities falling, of people dying in front of him, of saving people’s lives. Thought of love and monsters.

“It’s not the end of the world,” he said in a whisper. But only Jackie looked at him.

Rose slowly started to calm down. She rubbed her eyes. A long time seemed to pass.

“Rose,” Jackie said, “You said the Doctor showed you a better way of living your life. Remember, love? Remember all that? How you don’t just give up? Don’t forget it now, sweetheart.”

It seemed to work. Rose stared at the sea, and then at her parents, and she wiped her face.

“I guess,” she said shakily. “He would want…you’d want…it’ll be alright.” She blew her nose loudly on a tissue Jackie gave her. “Let’s go home.” She looked at Mickey then. “Mickey?”

Mickey was staring out to sea, head bowed, lost in thought.

Was the Doctor worth the monsters? That wasn’t the only question. Was winning back everything he’d ever lost worth a year of loss and anger? He thought the answer was yes. And for Jackie: was gaining back a husband worth almost losing her daughter? And as for Rose…

He looked at her.

“Let’s go,” she said, wiping her face.

Mickey would not have a chance to ask the girl whose life he’d changed, the girl who wasn’t Rose, what she thought. If he had, she would have answered that nothing was worth the deaths of a million people. But for me alone? she would have said, I think knowing you in the first place was worth having to lose you.

Mickey turned away from the sea. Rose Tyler smiled at him. A sad smile.

“Let’s go,” she said. “Defendin’ the Earth.”

And she took his hand.

THE END