Title: Living the High Life - Part 5/5
Genre: Drama, Comedy (or trying for anyway), and some Angst
Characters: Ten, Donna, implied Ten/Rose
Word Count: 3,258
Summary: While traveling with Donna, Ten accidentally ingests an alien hallucinogenic that makes him believe Donna is actually Rose. Forced into an awkward situation with a suddenly happy and bestotted Time Lord, she will have to make a decision that could involve breaking his heart all over again.
Note: Well, this is the end people. As promised, I've kept the story as angst free as possible, and you should be able to see where it slots nicely into series 4 - if I do say so myself. Thanks for taking a read and feel to let me know what you liked, or didn't as the case may be. :)
Part 5: Of all the Things I've Loved and Lost
The Doctor gently awoke with a deep inhale that could almost be mistaken for a gasp, and he immediately tried to recall where he was. His mind was unusually groggy for having just gone through the storage and cataloging cycle that sleep provided him and… His face contorted into a grimace as his tongue gave a loud smack in his mouth. What horrible thing had he eaten to cause his enzymes to activate without his knowledge?
Having an immediate need to rid himself of the burning flavor, the Doctor quickly removed himself from his bed before making a bee line to the bathroom. As he proceeded to rise, spit and brush the contaminate away, he attempted to determine what the cause was as his memories slotted into place and focus. What had he last eaten? Well chips wouldn't cause a reaction like this, he loved chips, and they had gone to Rose's favorite chippy – one that he had thoroughly checked to ensure a lack of world destroying plot by the aliens that ran it – so if something had been put in the chips he would have known after that first bite.
The Doctor frowned at his reflection, Venusian toothbrush poised mid stroke. Unless someone had slipped something in without his noticing until it was too late (it had happened with the Krillitane Oil after all), necessitating the three hour nap. Surely if that was the case though he would have seen an immediate reaction from-
His right heart clenched, followed by an echo of the action from the left, as adrenaline moved to flood his system. Rose. If his body had to take such extreme measures then Rose was in far greater danger. He quickly spit out the toothbrush and its cleaning paste before hastening out of the room; only making it as far as the hallway before a rush of cold hard realization flooded his being.
There was no Rose to check on.
Rose was gone. Trapped. An impossible desire that he could no longer have.
His memories had finally settled now, a full ten minutes after waking, and the Doctor stood in the doorway of his room as he reviewed the events of the last few days.
Donna sat at the rickety table in Tardis galley, mug of tea warming her hands, and in silent contemplation of where the Doctor had gone. There was no clock in her room of course, but the watch she kept assured her that her extended shower and beauty regime hadn't taken longer than an hour. So how was it that, an additional two hours after that even, she'd yet to find the spaceman? The ship hadn't given her any assistance in finding him either and Donna had a feeling of dread in her stomach as to what the likely cause of his actions were.
That god forsaken kiss.
She'd dodged them for as long as she could, she really had. But he'd just jumped on her so suddenly after their chase from the prison! Once initiated it wasn't as if she could just push him off or something and, really, it hadn't been the worst kiss of her life – that honorary moment belong to Mitch Reesing back in fifth year. No, it had been a bit like kissing one of her gay mates when they were drunk she supposed…except a bit more awkward as she'd been entirely sober this time. God, she hoped he wouldn't try for another before this was all over.
Taking a sip of her cooling tea, Donna was just deciding on where to search next after her little break when the alien in question casually poked his head in the room.
"Hello. I was wondering where you'd gone off to," the Doctor smiled as he breezed past, helping himself to the kettle.
Donna gaped, "You were wondering where I - I've been looking for you for you for ages! Where've you been hiding then?"
"I haven't been hiding, Donna. Besides, the Tardis would've let you know where I was if it had been an emergency," he replied, back turned to her as he set about heaping sugar and milk into his mug.
"Still, you could let a girl know next-" Donna stopped mid stream as she finished processing what the Doctor had just said. "You just called me Donna," she stated, finger pointed at him in observation.
"Of course. Who else would you be?" he commented casually as he took a sip of his tea. Donna's eyes narrowed though as she caught the flicker of uncertainty when his eyes darted to hers for just a moment. There was a tense minute when neither of them spoke before the Doctor cleared his throat and moved to leave, "Right, well, now that we've found each other I'll just, you know," he motioned vaguely with his hand in the direction of the hallway as he walked off.
He paused in the doorway but didn't turn around, "Something you need?"
Donna sighed as she set down her cup. She should have known he was going to make this difficult, "I'm thinking it's more like something you need really." He gave her a confused glance as he turned slightly to look at her that didn't fool Donna one bit. "About the past couple of days…," she started.
The Doctor leaned against the door frame as he rubbed the back of his neck, "Right, look, Donna, I'm sorry that you had to be put in that sort of…situation, and I wouldn't blame you if you want to, well, I mean I'd miss you of course, but I'd certainly understand-"
"What are you talking about?" Donna asked disbelievingly, "I'm not going anywhere ya big dumbo. Why on Earth would you think that?"
"Well," the Doctor drew out the word reluctantly, "when you asked to come along, and considering what you've had to go through the past few days I just thought-"
Donna scoffed, "I'm not gonna say it's been ideal, but I'm not planning on leaving because you couldn't control yourself-" the Doctor grimaced at that, "-and I'm glad that it happened." He shot a doubtful look at her then that caused Donna to feel indignant, "I am! I've learned more about you in the past few days then in all the months we've been traveling together!" She watched in silence as he continued to rest against the door frame, hands pushed deep in his trouser pockets, and let her ire dissipate. His entire body rang of defeat and pushing him wasn't going to get them anywhere.
Minutes hung between them like tangible things as Donna tried to find the right words. She'd like to believe they'd become close during their travels, but it had been some time since she'd been the one to do the comforting over a relationship problem. Not to mention the nagging feeling she had that this would be her one and only shot at getting the tight lipped alien to talk about anything personal.
"We don't have to do this Donna," the Doctor quietly announced, shaking her from her musing. He was looking directly at her now, "Really. You, you handled yourself brilliantly during that whole event but there's nothing to be gained from speculation."
"Speculation?" Donna pondered hesitantly, wondering where he was going with this. Surely he wasn't purposing…
The Doctor let out a sigh as he reluctantly moved to sit across from Donna, "I tried everything to find a way to get her back but, genius though I may be, I'm still limited. No other Time Lords and only a fraction of my people's collective knowledge survives in the Tardis library. Best I could do was find a way to say goodbye, and even then…" He didn't continue or look up at her, just stared off towards the slight bent hinge on the cabinets across from the table.
"Oh," Donna let out a huff of relieved air, "That kind of speculation. Right. Never a doubt in mind that you didn't try everything you could to find your Rose. You're that kind of bloke after all."
It was the Doctor's turn to be confused as he half turned to regard Donna with a slightly furrowed brow, "What kind of speculation did you think I meant?"
Donna felt her cheeks grow warm in embarrassment and attempted to hide it behind her mug, "Oh, same sort of thing really. Doesn't matter."
"Donna," the Doctor was insistent, fully facing her now.
Not one to back down, Donna took a breath and met the Doctor's gaze with her own pointed stare, "I was worried you might have speculated having the past few days become a more permanent…thing." Of course, being a bloke, he continued to look at her like she was bonkers, so she elaborated, "You know, keep up with the berries and pretenin' that I-"
She could see that moment it finally clicked in his mind as his body became rigid, eyes wide in shock. "What! What? Donna, I'd, I'd never! Why would even think – No, just, NO," he adamantly rejected the idea, and Donna sighed in relief.
"Even if that were the case, it wouldn't have worked out," he added, returning to his position of facing the cabinetry, "I put my self into a healing sleep after we boarded the Tardis as I'd realized something was wrong. Had been suspecting something was off for quite awhile really."
Donna nodded thoughtfully. That certainly explained why she hadn't been able to find him as the man claimed he hardly ever slept and, quite honestly, she couldn't be bothered with wanting to know where the alien crept off for a kip when he did. Mentioning the drug again however brought to mind some of the questions she had for him back when this all started, and she figured it was best to strike while the iron was hot.
"What do they do to you exactly?" she began and he turned to raise an inquiring brow at her, "You'd mentioned back at the start of this nonsense that they might make you hallucinate, but you didn't even recognize Martha, let alone ask where I'd shuffled off to."
"Well I wouldn't. Not under such a strong dosage," he replied casually with a shrug of his shoulders, "In their diluted form, Time Lords used the p'linef berries to induce a sort of blissful compliance drug. Typically used to calm hysterical individuals down or, occasionally, for medical purposes but - in the pure form I encountered them - they created a temporarily amnesiac affect where the mind is taken back to the most recent happy memory."
Donna nodded along; pleased he'd not added turned to technical words that she couldn't follow along with, "And why didn't they effect me then?"
"Twenty-first century human, you have an appendix," the Doctor stated matter of factually.
"Oi! That's a bit presumptuous. What if I'd had mine removed?" Donna objected, "I'd have been the same as you and then we'd both be in a right state I imagine. Besides, I thought the doctors are always saying your appendix doesn't do anything?"
The Doctor rolled his eyes, "Well they don't do much for humans on Earth now, they've got that right, but they do serve purpose again when mankind goes out into the universe and starts trying to digest foreign matter again. Unique adaptive little organ your appendix really, and as for the other point, I've known you still had yours since those scans I did back on your botched wedding day."
Donna let out a rather unremarkable 'Oh' in comment to the Doctor's revelation, and things descended into silence between them once more. As she finished the last of her tea, Donna realized that the choice she'd been dreading was before her now. She could talk to him about whether the past few days had hurt him more than helped. Find out if these false memories were just additional moments to cherish or if they were tainted by the knowledge that they hadn't really happened with Rose in the first place. Questions and thoughts she herself didn't really want to know the answer to, and really, who would she be to say how he chose to view them anyway? After all, there were some good moments there as well and-
Quite suddenly, another option she hadn't thought of presented it's self as she recalled his earlier words.
"Right, well, I've come to a decision," Donna declared, setting her mug down purposefully. The Doctor looked at her once more as she continued, "We need to create more happy memories for you. Not like the ones with Rose," she rushed out quickly, "Just fun ones. Like today yeah? Walking on the clouds? Could do with a bit more ideas like that. Even the escaping from jail wasn't all that bad this time. Hell of a laugh when those snake men were flailing about really."
The Doctor looked at her for a handful of seconds, just long enough for Donna to doubt what she considered to be a brilliant plan, when a smile slowly grew on his skinny face. Maybe it wasn't as wide and as open as the ones her gave her when he thought she was Rose, but it was real in every possible way. There was a different warmth and gratitude in this smile that assured Donna she'd made the right decision. She wasn't pushing Rose away, or replacing her, or even asking that the Doctor accept that lost meant she wasn't ever coming back. After everything the Doctor had shown her, Donna wasn't ready to rule out impossible yet, but the man did too much not to deserve some happiness and a smile. And maybe, should he ever meet up with his Rose again, she wouldn't find just that shell of man he'd become since she'd gone.
Leaning forward over the table, the Doctor laid a hand over one of her own and asked quite jovially, "What'd you say to a trip to the roaring twenties?"
A blinding flash of brilliant white-blue light lit up the lab just before a loud sizzle and crackling noise accompanied it. Both lasted mere moments though before a dissipating, as if they'd never been there in the first place, to reveal a young blonde woman in a blue leather jacket.
"No luck then babes?" Mickey Smith asked routinely, though with a touch of worry this time as he adjusted the levels on the dimension canon for power down and recharge.
The blonde known as Rose Tyler scowled as she attempted to smooth her static charged hair back into place, sighing as she eventually gave it up as a bad job, "I'll be able to charge this bloody thing on my own soon, and no. Still no Doctor." She gracefully hoped down from the elevated transport base that served as the launching pad for the canon as she made her way to her oldest friend. "Aided in a jail break though so, ya know, not a complete loss this," she smiled.
Mickey frowned, "Rose you know you can't keep jumping in to save the day every time you shoot through. The longer you stay, the longer it takes to recharge this thing and we've got bigger problems than-"
"Yeah, I know Mickey," Rose cut him off irately and the pair glared each other down in battle of wills for a few seconds before Rose relented with a short sigh as she crossed her arms, "I didn' have much of a choice alright? I materialized in the middle of a produce stand and the guards were on me before I could even get my head on proper. Lucky for me they brought in some other unlucky gal who had a hair clip I could snatch, or I might still be there." She shrugged casually, "Figured it was only fair to help unlock the whole prison so she had a sporting chance to make a leg for it. I needed the place wide open to find where they'd taken my relay isotope anyway."
He was a bit calmer now, but clearly unimpressed with her actions, "You can't just go mucking about at these places babes. What if she was some sort of serial killer that you just set free eh?"
"Not that it matters now Mic, but she'd only been walking on the clouds there," Rose protested, "I've done this before you know, you don't have to worry about me so much."
Before Mickey could form a rebuttal, a blonde male in black fatigues wandered over with a broad smile on his face. "Good to see you back in one piece then eh?" Jake Simmonds stated as he swept a device across Rose several times before removing the quick return system from her wrist, "You well know the drill Ms. Tyler. Twenty four hours to get your 4S's in. Make sure to sleep, shit, shave and shower before we see you for the next hop." He tossed her a wink at the end that had her grinning widely, the tension from her conversation with Mickey easing away from her face.
"Seriously? The four esses? You been practicing that while I was gone?" she teased.
"Well I'd offer to thrown in a fifth, but after three years I know better to think there's anyone on this planet you'll bed," Jake replied. While still jovial, his casual reminder dimmed Rose's smile and she let the conversation drop; giving a hug to both Jake and Mickey after she finished her re-entry checks before making her way down and out of Torchwood Tower.
Standing outside, she paused to take a look up at the night sky. The moon was just a thin sliver above her tonight and thanks to the unavoidable awareness of the astrological phenomenon they were experiencing, half of London was dim so that they too could see it with their own eyes. Rose automatically turned to look for one of the few constellations she knew by heart and realized with a pang that Orion was no longer there. Neither was the Big Dipper.
She let out a breath, turning to make her way towards the far side of the car park, and sent out a mental prayer that perhaps tomorrow would be the night that she'd find him.
Part 1 Part 2 Part 3 Part 4