CHARACTERS: The Doctor (mostly Ten and 10.5)/Rose
WARNINGS: None, unless you object to a bit of fanwank. Mild, general spoilers up to EoT2.
CREDITS: picture by mrv300. Quotations from Abbey Road, by the Beatles.
This is an affectionate homage to the phenomenon that is the Doctor - not just for an age, but for all time. No personal profit or copyright infringement is intended or implied.
I am still having problems with LJ cuts, so if my formatting leaves something to be desired, I apologise.
Unexpectedly reunited with Rose, but still traumatised by the events of 'The End of Time', the Doctor takes talking to himself to a whole new level.
When the Doctor woke up, flushed with the delicious afterglow of post-coital endorphins flowing through his bloodstream, he had two thoughts:
I’m really here.
And Rose is beside me. I can feel her lungs filling and emptying, and if I blow gently I can make her hair move a little bit.
Oh, and I’m hungry. Starving. Ravenous.
Hang on: that’s three things, isn’t it?
He hadn’t eaten for days. His body had been falling apart and he’d resisted doing anything that might make his last days fewer than they were already. So he’d just rushed from A to B to C and so on, punctuated with spells in the TARDIS tracking people down. Jack had been the trickiest – you’d expect a fixed point in time to stand out a mile, but it wasn’t just a matter of finding him, it was a matter of finding him with Alonso nearby. There’d been a lot of research, a lot of false starts, and he’d wondered a couple of times whether he should give up and move on to someone else. Could you just replace people, anyway? He’d tried replacing Rose with Martha, and it had been a disaster.
“That’s why you needed me, Spaceman. I don’t replace anybody.”
“Too right, Donna. You’re your own person.”
“Until you took my memories away.”
“I had to save your life. I didn’t want to do it. I missed you more than words could say. But I did my best for you. I think you found someone in the end who knows how amazing you are – and I tried to make sure that no practical problems like finances stood in your way.”
“You do have this idea that people can be replaced, though. Ianto’s gone, here, have Alonso. Here, Rose, have another Doctor. Move along. Get over it. Is it ‘cos you think humans are all pretty much the same?”
“I don’t know…” he said, thoughtfully. “You can’t usually give people what they really want, but you can give them something. Was it wrong of me to try and help you? It’s easy to look at these things from outside and say I was playing God, but when you’re in the middle of it all…”
“You saved my grandad,” said Donna, her voice softening. “Died for him.”
“Yes…Yes, I did.” He remembered the frustration of that moment. It had seemed so important to prove that no stupid knock-four-times bit of voodoo was going to tell him when to die. He hoped Donna didn’t know some of the things he’d said to Wilf in the heat of the moment.
And now there were things he didn’t want to tell Rose. He didn’t want to talk about Bowie Base. He didn’t want her to find out about the months he’d wasted running from death, and most of all he wanted to avoid the subject of Good Queen Bess.
He’d get away with it, wouldn’t he? The other Doctor didn’t have a direct line into Rose’s mind – he had to go through him – and in any case, he wouldn’t have specific memories of their time apart. The years his other self and Rose had spent together, here in the parallel world, were locked inside the fob watch. Did he want to open it? He wasn’t sure. It would make things easier, but it would also deny them the new start that he wanted.
He doubted very much whether he, the other him and Donna could continue indefinitely in the same consciousness. A time would come when, for the sake of the new regeneration’s stability, they had to become one. When he had to accept that he was human, and let go of the part of him that had made him a Time Lord. Here, in a different universe, he wouldn’t even have the slight possibility of running into the Master again to sustain him. That huge, burning orange planet on a collision course with the Earth would be nothing more than a far-fetched story. His ability to influence momentous events, to play God with people’s lives, to travel through time and space at the blink of an eye, would be gone, bequeathed to his new regeneration.
He wasn’t ready to let all that go just yet. He wasn’t sure he ever would be. He’d never have been able to take the decision that had brought him to this moment, with Rose lying beside him and his TARDIS on the opposite side of the Void. Other people had chosen what was best for him.
Taste of your own medicine, he said to himself. Don’t like it much, do you?
Ah, but Rose. Here she was. It was everything he hadn’t allowed himself to dream of, for such a long and lonely time. All he’d done had been empty castles in the air, fading visions, next to the incredible, solid reality of this.
Could he learn to just live in each moment as it existed around him? Celebrate it, even? Could he be that small, that human, when he still had the mind of a Time Lord?
Yes, came the voice of his other self. I did it, and so can you. And you must. Your song is ended now.
“But I didn’t want to go!”
Well, that’s you all over, isn’t it? You can’t accept anything. Never could. Part of you thinks you don’t deserve it, that you’re this monster killing everything you touch, and the other half thinks you’re so ruddy brilliant that nobody ought to be able to make you do anything.
He sighed. “Did you see them? Our people – what they had become?”
I was you in the War. Of course I did. If you can admit you wiped them out because of what they were capable of becoming – that it had more to do with them than it ever did to do with the Daleks, that’s real progress.
Hang on, that sounded like his Byronic eighth incarnation. A romantic soul who was unfitted for the horrors he witnessed – but what could have prepared him for those?
And before he could reply, someone else butted in. Don’t you start glamourizing them. They put me on trial, remember that? They were rotten to the core. ‘Power-mad conspirators, Daleks, Sontarans, Cybermen, they're still in the nursery compared to us. Ten million years of absolute power. That's what it takes to be really corrupt.’ I still stand by every word.
“Nobody could do righteous anger like you, Six,” he conceded. “But that still doesn’t give me the right to kill them all.”
Well, for a start you didn’t actually kill them. No, you sent them back to their death. You protected the time line. That’s a completely different thing.
He recognised that voice too. The last time the two of them had met, he’d been about to leave his Panama hat behind on the console. Unassuming, wise, kindly and occasionally a little pompous and brilliant with a kettle and a piece of string – that was his fifth incarnation.
“It was different for you,” he pointed out. “All that rebelling is all very well, but it’s different when you’re a wanderer without a home. When there’s nothing left to go back to. Nobody to break the silence…”
Oh, my giddy aunt! Just listen to yourself! You never liked the old place anyway. Couldn’t get away fast enough. Cheer up! I’ll play you a tune on my recorder if you like.
And besides, it’s not as if you’ve never used that excuse before. Now a dignified old man’s voice joined the conversation. Wasn’t that exactly the question I asked Ian and Barbara, all those years ago? ‘Have you ever thought what it's like to be wanderers in the Fourth Dimension? Have you? To be exiles? Susan and I are cut off from our own planet - without friends or protection. But one day we shall get back. Yes, one day....’
“You never did, though, did you?” he pointed out. After a pause to re-configure his emotions, he added. “Not with Susan, anyway.”
You’re getting maudlin, old chap. The latest voice had a soft, Scottish burr that immediately brought back recollections of Nitro-9 and the Hand of Omega. Best to keep busy. There’s always something going on that’s worth sticking your nose into.
“Oh, I know,” he agreed. “Worlds out there where the sky is burning, and the sea's asleep, and the rivers dream; people made of smoke and cities made of song. Somewhere there's danger, somewhere there's injustice, somewhere else the tea's getting cold…”
Precisely. And every werrd of it as true as it ever was. Come on, Ace. We've got work to do.
“What happened to Ace? Don’t you ever wonder?”
They sleep in our mind. Unless we really want to bring them back. A recorder began to play. “Sleep pretty darling, do not cry. And I will sing a lullaby.”
The gentle melody brought him close to tears. He was back in the Crucible again. “All those people I turned into weapons. The people I killed.”
Oh, now you’re just being stupid. The prerogative of a Time Lord, I know. And Davros has been busy again, hasn’t he? Taunting you because you lacked the ruthlessness to kill the Daleks before they were born. Thank Rassilon you weren’t Time Lord enough to do that, to slaughter a race as yet innocent. You were right to give them a chance.”
“Yet I thought nothing of destroying my own people. Shouldn’t I have extended the same mercy to them?
He knew who’d answer that.
The fact that you shrank from a decision long ago doesn’t mean you’d be right to shrink from it now. And I ought to know. I was the one who made the decision, wasn’t I? Those two wires in the laboratory, and Sarah Jane. I hope she didn’t think any the less of me for it in the end. I still can’t find it in my hearts to regret it. Here, have a jelly baby.
“At least if I’d spared the Time Lords as well it would have had the virtue of consistency.”
“Now, listen to me. There’s a fine line between consistency and stubbornness, my dear chap. You’ve got to be willing to learn from your mistakes. I remember thinking that everything could be solved by a bit of Venusian aikido and reversing the polarity.”
“Better than blowing things up, eh?”
Yes indeed. Had a bit of a do with one of those nasty parallel worlds ourselves, the Brig and me. Hope that one’s more to your liking.
So many voices, yet all his own. He’d been a fool, to talk of dying. What man could saunter away from this lot?
“How long are you gonna stay with me?” he asked.
The voice that replied was abrasively Mancunian and unsentimental. Oh, give over! That’s manipulative and you know it. Too fond of yer own voice by half, you are. Had to put her through the emotional wringer, didn’t you, just for a bit of dramatic irony? Who d’you think you are, Hamlet?
“That’s a bit harsh."
It was cruel to Rose, said the wise, irascible old man. You knew she was living in a fool’s paradise and you prolonged the illusion. At least when I locked Susan out of the TARDIS I was brutally clear about her situation.
That stung. “What was I supposed to do – send her home? She’d only have found a way back. Torn the universe apart to do it.”
Did he hear a sigh from this other self, who’d sounded so confident and sure of everything up to now? Yes, he was convinced that he did.
“Well?” he persisted.
I don’t know, the answer came at last. I think…Oh, what’s the moment when right now becomes forever? Especially a human ‘forever’? I know what I’d say now, because I’ve been human for a while. But back then…
So they were back to Number Ten again. He rather hoped the rest of them would quieten down. Regenerations were unstable times, and this one more than most.
“Then maybe you’ll enlighten us both.” He let an edge creep into his voice.
Ooh, all right then. You’ve talked me into it. Not a lot of people manage to do that, you know. Here’s what I think. You wrote yourself a story – a story that started with your guilt, the hatred you had for yourself. And once you’d written it you were trapped in it, and everyone else had to play their part. They had to suffer for loving someone like you.
“Thanks for the psychoanalysis, but I still don’t see what else I could have done.”
You could have been organised, Number Nine snarled. Fixed up a harness for her in the Lever Room. I didn’t give my life to save Rose so you could piss about like that. You’re so busy being all Love-Will-Tear-Us-Apart you couldn’t organise a booze-up in Boddy’s brewery!
Give him a break, said his sensitive eighth incarnation. We should all take responsibility for each other’s mistakes.
Molto bene, Number Ten agreed. It’s our fault. We’re so sorry, so very very sorry. You can’t divide yourself up and send all the bits that deserve better into another world where you don’t have to watch. And you can’t divide the heart of a human being who’s decided to love you. And that’s all I know for certain.
“You still haven’t answered the question. How long are you going to stay with me?”
Me singular, or me plural? We..eee.ll, he replied, answering his own question with a single drawn-out syllable, Probably until you admit that I’m a part of you. Once you do that, your new regeneration in this world will be free from memory and guilt and regrets.
“Just like that?” he asked, sceptically.
I think he’ll be stronger. More able to put his mistakes behind him. Find somebody new.
“That River woman?” He laughed, mirthless and hollow. Here he was lying with his love – the whole thought of someone else seemed remote. Incomprehensible. But was it? He was going to go on, and live for a long time yet – hopefully. He had to be able to leave things behind. Boy, he’d carried so much weight, carried it such a long time.
You should just see this girl he’s just picked up, his other self went on. She’d dressed like a policewoman but I’ve never seen anyone in law enforcement with a skirt that short.
“Good looking?” he probed, with a salacious grin.
She's the kind of a girl that makes the News Of The World,
Yes, you could say she was attractively built.
“He’s found someone? Already?” Damn, he couldn’t resist thinking, the bloke must be a bit of all right.
But would you want it to be any other way?
“No,” he agreed. “Not really. He needs someone warm and real and rude. Not a TARDIS filled with hungry ghosts. That’s how you make mistakes.”
I couldn’t have put it better myself, Time Lord Victorious.
So he knew. Bowie Base, Adelaide, Queen Bess, his little tantrum over rescuing Wilf.
Yep. I know. Because I’m you. And that’s what you have to learn to do – know everything about yourself, admit you know it, and give yourself some slack. And let Rose love you, before it’s too late. You won’t get another chance, not after this.
“Don’t say that.” He knew where this was leading – he was going to be left alone with Rose, just to get on with it. And that scared him.
It’s what you did to me. And it turned out okay. She’ll help you.
Understanding was growing in his mind, and with it came remorse. “I just left you,” he said. “Ran away because it hurt so much.”
Yes. I just gathered Rose up and tried to be everything to her that you couldn’t be, so she wouldn’t have to watch you go. Didn’t work – she watched, anyway. It took a long time for her to get over it. I didn’t understand until I was human, what love means. If it isn’t in your power to give your beloved comfort, real contentment isn’t possible.
“I thought…if she could just see that you needed her…”
We’re back where we came in. Thinking that humans are all the same. They’re almost as complicated as us in their own way. But capable of less, and that’s a sort of comfort, once you adjust to it.
“Was it hard?” he asked. “Adjusting to it?”
I’m not telling you that. It’s all in the watch if you want it. But let me give you a bit of advice, before I go. Don’t feel you have to tell her everything, but when you do tell her something, be honest. Goodbye.
“Wait! Don’t go! I don’t want you to…”
He’d spoken aloud. Rose stirred and opened her eyes. She looked right at him, her face full of love and concern, and he remembered his other self saying, ‘If it isn’t in your power to give your beloved comfort, real contentment isn’t possible…” Now those words took on flesh before his eyes and all he could do was allow her to care.
“What’s the matter?” she asked, sleepily.
“It’s all right,” he said, letting the scent of her hair fill his senses. No lies so far. It wasn’t the deliberate lies you had to look out for, anyway. It was the little ones, told with the best of intentions, to save an awkward explanation.
“Bad dream?” she murmured.
“Something like that.”
Rose yawned and stretched. “You hungry?”
He laughed. “Starving. I could eat you out of house and home.”
“You’ve not seen our stores.”
“Where are we, anyway?” he asked. The world that lay outside the doors of this TARDIS was something he’d yet to engage with.
“Chez Tyler,” she replied. “The Vitex mansion.”
“You never moved out?” he asked, surprised.
She shrugged. There was no real need to explain why. “ ‘S easier to build the TARDIS in a big house,” she explained. “We’re down in the cellar. Where the first Jackie died.”
He winced at her casual reference to past slaughter, then reflected that she’d probably learned it from him. “Blimey! You don’t shy away from the difficult stuff, do you?”
“Nope.” She climbed out of bed and began to gather her clothes up. He looked at her hair, beautifully, intimately mussed around her sleepy face and wanted to prolong the moment. “There’s no rush,” he said. “I won’t starve just yet."
“Yeah?” she asked, and sat down again. He couldn’t stop looking down the front of her half-buttoned shirt. She followed his gaze with her own and her cheek swelled with a little smile.
“Come here,” he whispered, lying back on the pillow and letting his eyes soak in the sight of her. “You’re just…you’re so…”
She tucked a lock of soft blonde hair behind her ear and looked troubled. “You know…” she began. “That night when the Dalek shot you…There’s something I wish I hadn’t said.”
“Does it matter now?” he murmured, his hand reaching for her breast.
Gently but firmly, she steered his fingertips away. “I asked you not to change,” she said. “I’m sorry.”
“Oh, it doesn’t matter.” He wrapped his arms around her back and pulled her down on top of him. But she resisted.
“It does,” she insisted. “I should have told you that no matter how much you changed, it was still you and I still…um…”
“Go on,” he coaxed her, mischievously. He knew he was capable of negotiating past this moment - just a little gentle pressure on the accelerator of seduction and their history would close over it, as if it had never been.
“Does it really need saying?” she asked. He wasn’t sure if the words came directly, or filtered through her memories.
He could end it right here. Stop her mouth with a kiss; there’d be no lie, because there’d be no question for the lie to answer. But her body resisted him and he had to respect her for that.
“I chose not to change,” he reminded her. “None of it was your fault. I wanted you to see me at my best, the way I was when I first changed to make you happy.”
“But you should’ve regenerated. You stopped it, and everything unravelled after that. We ended up with two of you, with Donna…”
“We did have Davros to think about,” he pointed out. “It wasn’t a good time for me to conk out for hours on end.”
She nodded, but with a frown. “Yes, but that wasn’t why you didn’t change.”
“I just wanted you to be happy,” he said. “Isn’t that what people do when they – um…”
And he slammed right into the brick wall of his pride again. Being a Time Lord, so bound up in the things he shouldn’t do and say.
Donna’s booted foot landed heavily in the middle of his backside with a mental ‘Ouch!’ “Get on with it, you stupid git!” she ordered him.
“Does it really need saying?” He didn’t speak aloud, but in his mind he thought he heard almost a dozen people groaning and putting their heads in their hands. Even the old white-haired chap. Good Lord. That couldn’t really be him, could it, saying he wished he’d said it to Susan? Or Number Four, regretting the cowardly way he’d dumped Sarah Jane? It had been different in those days, hadn’t it? Before all that emotion got in the way?
Okay, so his ninth self was about to punch him. Well, that did tend to focus the mind.
“….when they, um…” For a moment the word stuck in his throat and threatened to come out as a bit of a strangled yelp.
“Love someone?” he forced out. “Because I do, Rose Tyler. Love you, that is. Hey, I said it! I can say it now – because I’m human! Isn’t that brilliant?” He jumped up and twirled her around the room, saying every daft thing that popped into his head. “I love you! It’s fantastic! Molto bene! Brilliant! Geronimo!”
She gaped at him in horror. “What did you just say?”
Her brows furrowed. “You didn’t really say ‘Geronimo’, did you?”
He responded quickly. “It wasn’t me.”
“Who was it, then?”
“Someone in my head,” he replied. “I’ll tell him to shut up. It’s just, he’s new, and I suppose he feels he couldn’t get a word in edgeways.”
She looked a little baffled, and then, in her beautiful Rose-y kind of way, she decided to accept him as he was. She laughed.
“Wait ‘til he meets my mum.”
- Current Mood: frustrated
- Current Music:Abbey Road