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Wayward Son, Chapter 8: The Wall


The Doctor didn’t sleep well that night. For the first time since he’d started living in the Tyler mansion, he dreamt of the Time War. Thankfully, it was not as intense or of the type that left him screaming loud enough to rouse the rest of the home’s occupants. He did wake with a start, drenched in perspiration and gasping for breath. The afterimage of Gallifrey burning, silver trees and shattered Citadel ablaze, only faded after he staggered to the en suite and stuck his head under the faucet. The cold water made him gasp louder than ever, but it brought blessed relief from the turmoil going on in his fevered head. The screams of the TARDIS still echoed in his ears.

To be honest, he wasn’t surprised by the nightmare. His sleep had been interrupted by a tendency to toss and turn. He would startle awake, and each time he would wake with Jackie’s proposal on his mind. Like in the story of the Princess and the Pea, the hard kernel of distaste he felt for the tactic bruised him and would not let him rest.

In many respects, he did feel as if he were in the midst of a war of sorts. Once again, he was being called to use every tool available, every strategy he or his advisors could develop, to breach the defenses of his opponent. The wall of Rose’s disbelief in him seemed almost impossibly high and miles thick, but Jackie had given him hope last night. There was a crack in the barrier now, and he had to find out how to widen it.

Of course, if one’s objective is to force the surrender of one’s opponent, not crush the very life from them, extreme caution had to be exercised. In 700 years, never had the Doctor felt so conscious of his powers of destruction. He had to get this right.

It was after 5.00 am, and he knew he wouldn’t get any additional sleep. Quality sleep, anyway. He took his shower and dressed. He decided not to gel his hair, hoping to get Jackie to cut it for him. He wanted to look well-groomed for dinner tonight, not like a stray with six weeks of overgrowth. He also wanted to decide on how to pen his apology note before going to the flower shop when it opened. He knew it would take him awhile to decide on the wording.

Normally, eloquence was something this incarnation swam through like a sailfish. He should have been firmly in his element, but after about 25 balls of wadded paper ended up around his wastebasket next to the desk, he started to doubt himself. It took him until 6.30 before he was satisfied with the body of the apology, but now the valediction was eluding him.

“Sincerely” and “Yours Truly” seemed so impersonal, so jaded, almost like a form letter. “Love” and “Love Always” were right out. As true as they were, he was certain they would be viewed with a jaundiced eye, presumptuous even, after the events of Friday night. He finally settled on “Forever Yours,” for no other reason than they rang true and seemed less threatening, unctuous or desperate. It left the door open without appearing to beg for attention.

Now, for the signature: Of all the elements of the letter, this one caused him the most trepidation. To use “The Doctor” seemed rather perilous, considering it was his insistence that he was the Doctor that precipitated his loss of temper in the first place. He remained convinced that he was perfectly within his rights to claim that identity, but it was at the very heart of the matter.

Trying “John Smith” on for size, or even “John N. Smith,” almost gave him heartburn. It was quite true that it was his legal name in Pete’s World, and it appeared on all official documentation granted to him by Torchwood, but he felt as if he were a small child trying to walk in his father’s shoes. It just didn’t fit. He even tried simply signing off as “John,” but he quickly scratched it out. Seeing it as an invitation to getting a “Dear John” letter, he firmly stuck a fork into the idea.

Frustrated finally, he flamboyantly scribbled a huge “D” in his characteristically loopy hand-writing, influenced by hundreds of years of writing modern Gallifreyan script with circles, lines and arcs. Yes, “D” for Doctor. Not quite in your face, but still a small act of defiance and a gentle, or gentler, insistence that he had the right of self-determination. He would not give that up for love. If, say ten years down the road he decided he was more John Noble Smith than Doctor, he would ultimately make that determination, and no one else.

Folding the finished script and placing it into his pocket, he skipped down the stairs to have breakfast with the Tylers, his loose hair flopping about completely out of control. Jackie took one look at him, a huge silly grin plastered all over his face and eyes peering through fly-away bangs, and offered him a haircut. He couldn’t help himself; he smirked at how well his plan worked to get Jackie to trim his hair without asking.

Ah yes. Lose the battle, but win the war, he gloated inwardly. For the first time in what seemed like ages, he felt a surge of competitiveness streak through him. His natural rebellious nature, something he had retained throughout every regeneration, was starting to re-emerge.

Rather jocular through breakfast, causing Jackie and Pete to give each other an occasional look, the Doctor talked non-stop. By the time breakfast was over, he’d made tentative plans with Pete to shadow him at Torchwood on Tuesday, pitched several ideas about goal-setting for his new position (should he accept, of course), and queried Pete thoroughly on Torchwood’s policies and departmental mission statements.

Jackie seemed relieved to take the Doctor into the kitchen for his haircut, just so she could tell him to sit still and shut up. He had learned to trust his precious coiffure with Jackie, formerly a hairdresser while living in the Powell Estate, even before she left her universe. Master of the rounded, pleading puppy-dog eyes look, he had often managed to wheedle favors from her. Jackie was sure her maternal instincts were being played; but she was a willing participant, and the Doctor was able to enjoy his trademark spikey locks whenever he liked.

Pete and Tony would lean against the kitchen doorframe to watch, intrigued and entertained by this strange bonding ritual between the two, which went something like this:

“I said to sit still, you alien worm!”

“I am sitting still, Jackie.”

“Oi, stop purrin’ and squirmin’!”

“I can’t help it. It feels good when someone massages my scalp.”

“You’re not gettin’ off on this, are you, Doctor?!? I’m holdin’ a pair of very sharp scissors in me hand right now, and I know how to use ‘em.”

“That’s just… disgusting, Jackie. Time Lords don’t do that. Complete control over my body’s reaction to stimuli, thank you very much.”

Snort.

“Really, Jackie. Well documented fact. Legendary, even.”

Oi, I said to sit still! You’re gonna get a big bald spot in the back of your head if you don’t.”

“Are we done, yet?”

Once completed, the Doctor was quite pleased with the results. Hair gelled to spikey perfection, he immediately headed off to the local flower shop in search of the equally perfect floral apology. He was waiting at the door when the shop opened. Settling on a simple arrangement of two dozen pink and yellow roses in a bright blue, gilded vase, he carefully wrote his note with a flourish on a tastefully traditional blank card. He arranged for the flowers to be delivered to Rose’s flat by 10.30 am, remembering that Rose tended to be a late riser.

He loved little shops, so he couldn’t resist popping into the men’s shop next door. Perusing the large selection of silk ties, he settled on three geometric designs that suited his fancy. One could never have too many silk ties, naturally.

Checking his reflection in the shop window before he left, he smiled and walked to his car with a lightness to his step that had been absent for far too long.

###############

Rose Tyler, Defender of Earth, woke as she usually awakened each morning; which is to say, reluctantly and blearily. It was 8.00 am on a Sunday, a decadently late hour for her.

For the past three years she had customarily awakened at 4.00 am to launch herself out of bed and get started on the Dimensional Cannon project. Head of the Development and Research – Dimensional Reconnaissance department, she had also been its biggest guinea pig. Much to her bitter chagrin, the department, and the Cannon, had been shut down and disbursed soon upon her return to Pete’s World.

The truth of the matter was that the Dimensional Cannon no longer worked now that the breach between the dimensions had been sealed. It had only worked before because of Davros’s weakening of the walls between the worlds with the Reality Bomb, but that fact didn’t deter her one iota. She was determined to get back to the parallel world; her world: The world that the Doctor and TARDIS inhabited.

Recently reassigned to the Mobile Response – Field Special Investigations Unit, she now combed locations throughout the world, often accompanied by UNIT, wherever there was evidence of extraterrestrial involvement. Although it was not what she truly wanted to do, it did provide her with a little of the adrenaline rush she craved. And, from Pete’s perspective anyway, it kept her out of the hair of the researchers in the technology departments, who she’d ridden relentlessly for three years. She was certainly better suited for the MRU than the desk job she’d taken the first year at Torchwood.

Dragging herself to the little kitchenette of her relatively modest flat, she set a kettle on the stove to make a strong cup of tea. Oh, how she missed her Mum’s tea! No one could make a better cup of tea than Jackie Tyler.

Crossing over to the bay window of the living room, she opened the vertical blinds to look out over the marina, the Thames and Canary Wharf. A mere ten minute walk to Torchwood Tower, she had chosen the flat for its geographic position so that she could reach the office quickly, if necessary. It was remarkably tidy, compared to her old room back in the TARDIS, possibly because she didn’t spend all that much time there. A well-worn couch in her office could attest to that.

Grabbing the whistling kettle back in the kitchen, she carefully poured water into an enormous mug with two teabags, adding two sugar cubes and a dash of milk before settling down with her tablet on the leather couch that demarcated the living area. She scanned the news headlines for anything of interest, but it soon became apparent she wasn’t seeing them. She stared into space, lost in thought.

“How did I get here,” she whispered quietly to herself. “How could I be back here again? This isn’t how it’s s’pose to end.”

It was completely unfathomable to Rose Tyler how she could get so close, after three grueling and terrifying years of searches through multiple dimensions, actually find the Doctor, and then end up back in her old flat. Sans Doctor.

She could have accepted it if he’d been there with her. Admittedly, she’d had more than a few fantasies of bringing him to her flat to show him how she’d lived all those horrible years without him. Of sitting with him, deep in conversation, right here on this very sofa. Of possibly doing other things; things she’d not dared to really hope for in her life on the TARDIS.

After her tearful confession to his image on that damned beach in Norway, she was sure… so sure… of how he would have ended his final transmission. If only she could get back to him so he could finish those words. Those three words that she knew were on his lips.

They had to be those three words she had imagined him saying countless times in her dreams. She had seen them shine in his eyes; felt them in his touch. Even as the big Northerner with dark hair and even darker looks, he hadn’t been able to hide his love for her. She knew.

“Does it need saying?” No, but I wanted to hear it. How hard is it to say? Three simple words… You just had to keep babbling and not say it, didn’t you? A Time Lord who runs out of time. How rubbish is that???

Yes, she was determined to get him them out of him. She had given him her forever, and all she had asked in return was to be at his side and hear him say those words at least once. It was the least he could do after all she had done to get back to him.

All of that pain, suffering, broken bones was for him. Psychoanalytic sessions, years of antidepressants and tranquilizers. Sleepless nights of unending tears that tore her heart asunder, surgeries to put her back together like a broken doll. Treatment for burns that were more agonizing than the burns themselves. Ruptured spleen, ruptured gallbladder, scarred kidneys and lacerated liver. Her once flawless and youthful body was now a crisscross of scars. She would never let herself be seen in a bikini again, that was for sure.

Yes, it needed to be said, damn him. She would hear it, even if she had to turn to his clone to get it. And so, she had challenged him. She finally, out of desperation, turned to that anomalous copy that stood next to her. A proxy of sorts, he would have to do.

“And you, Doctor?” she had asked, hoping he would not disappoint her. He hadn’t.

“Rose Tyler, I love you,” he had whispered into her ear.

On impulse, she had grabbed him and kissed him soundly in triumph. She would show the Doctor the reward he would have gotten for that answer. Perhaps, seeing her kiss another man, even an identical copy of himself, would make him understand what a fool he was being by denying her and suggesting that she should remain behind.

Nothing would prepare her for the shock of hearing the TARDIS leaving. Tossing the copy aside, she ran to the TARDIS, only to watch as it faded away. The Doctor, without so much as a goodbye, had left with a new ginger companion at his side. One who was as brilliant as he, not a bottle-blonde shop girl from the Estates. He had slipped through her fingers like a Gelth, an incorporeal wraith, and left her standing on the beach a universe away. It was worse than a nightmare. It was incomprehensible and unthinkable. It wasn’t supposed to end like that.

She was in shock, she knew. Barely registering the copy coming behind her to hold her hand, she continued to stare at the imprint in the sand, expecting the TARDIS to come back. It had to be some kind of joke. He looked so much like the Doctor. Identical, really. Had they switched clothing, she would not have been able to distinguish between the two. Leaning against him finally, she walked with him and her Mum to a tiny hamlet a few miles away. Her thoughts were in shambles, not coherent at all.

It was only on the car ride to Bergen, sitting next to him in the back seat, that she started feeling the reality of being back in this world. He chattered, constantly, on and on about the things she and the Doctor had done.

“Do you remember, Rose, when we were on New New Earth, and the cats with nun’s whimples,” or “Remember that gorgeous little restaurant that served the best Tulurean-style squid with the little eyes you couldn’t bear staring at you?“

Of course I remember. I was there, you weren’t, she had thought testily. Quickly tiring of his banter, she began thinking of how his parroting back of events was making her more morose than she already was.

“I look like him. Think like him. Same memories, same thoughts, same everything, except... I've only got one heart,” he had told her on the beach. She couldn’t deny that he sounded like the Doctor, looked like the Doctor. He even smelled like the Doctor. But in the car he’d given not one indication that he was an independent being like the Doctor.

The Doctor would have queried her about her life on Pete’s World after their separation. He would have regaled her with countless stories of his adventures in her absence. He would have told her how much he had missed her and regretted her not being with him.

But not this one. Not the copy. He was like a movie of someone you loved. Static, unchanging, nothing new and alive, a movie only reminded you of what wasn’t sitting next to you. Worse, he was an imperfect copy.

“Remind you of someone?” The Doctor had said. “That's me, when we first met. And you made me better. Now you can do the same for him.” And how? She couldn’t even call him by name. It couldn’t be the Doctor. The Doctor was on the TARDIS.

So, you expect me to babysit this bastard child of yours, the imperfect copy? Born in battle, you say. Full of blood and anger and revenge.

And oh, how she had seen that up close only a few nights ago. She had been terrified. Looking into his eyes as he pinned her to the wall like a butterfly on cardboard, she’d felt the powerful muscles of his arms flex and hold her like steel. His eyes, so much like the Time Lord’s when he faced down his enemies, had burned into her and transfixed her. All that she could see were huge black orbs of… darkness… rage… intractable power… like an ancient and massive black hole, pulling her relentlessly within its grasp, claiming her through sheer force of will.

Rose shivered and pulled her robe tightly around her body, remembering that moment when the clone had pinned her to the wall in a rage. The look he had given her, the look she had never, ever expected to be trained on her, had struck a deep chord. It vibrated through her body, reached right down and touched the very core of her.

For a split second, she had believed he was really there. Her Doctor was there, as ancient and powerful and vital as she’d ever seen him. For that very moment, she wanted to believe. As petrified as she was, a part of her had wanted to throw herself at him, to feel that power wash over and overtake her. She had been as horrified by her treacherous body’s reaction as she was terrified by his fierceness and passion.

But he’s still not my Doctor. My Doctor is trapped on the other side without me to watch over him. He’s without me to take care of him. Everyone else leaves him eventually, just as the ginger woman, Donna, will. Only I can promise him forever. I already have. How can I give up on him now?

“He needs you. That’s very me,” he had said. Two Doctors, and one was still out there, loving her and grieving for her. How could she just settle for his clone when she knew he was out there somewhere, needing her?

She still made regular pilgrimages to the Void Room, now a Torchwood stock room, to lay her head against the enormous, blank white wall and imagine she could feel something through it. Sometimes, she could almost feel the TARDIS reach out to her; hear her gentle groan and song… like distant whale song carried on the currents.

The loud buzzing from the doorman startled her out of her circuitous ruminations. Her tea was ice cold, and she had been sitting on the couch doing nothing for over two hours. She went over to the speaker and punched the button.

“Ms. Tyler, there’s a deliveryman here with flowers for you. Shall I send him up? His credentials check out.”

Flowers? Who would be sending her flowers, she wondered. It wasn’t her birthday.

“Yes, please send him up, Geoffrey.”

“Will do, ma’am,” the doorman replied.

Rose skipped to her bedroom to find a tip for the deliveryman, then checked herself to make sure her robe covered her decently before opening the door. Her eyes widened at the huge spray of pink and yellow roses coming down the hallway by the rather smallish young deliveryman.

Tipping him, she quickly took the vase full of roses to the coffee table for a closer look under natural light. The rosebuds were firm, beautifully kissed with moisture, and they smelled divine. Beneath them was an exquisite bright blue vase that immediately reminded her of the blue police box of her dreams. Gold leaf gilded the top and bottom, and accented the pattern of the sides. The glass itself was thin and exquisitely hand-blown. It was not a cheap vase by any means. It was a vase as one would expect to be sent to an heiress who had everything.

She pulled the tan and brown envelope from the stems and opened it. With trembling hands, she read the note written in a familiar curly hand:

Dear Rose,

I would like to express my deepest heartfelt apologies for my unbelievably beastly behavior on Friday night. Your forgiveness is not expected, as I can never, ever, ever, forgive myself. In all of my lives, I will never regret anything I’ve done more than the hurt I’ve caused you.

Forever Yours,

D

Sighing, Rose got up to make herself another mug of coffee, deep in thought.

“Sunday dinner is probably gonna be jus’ a bit more interestin’ than Mum an’ Dad thought,” she said to herself.


******************************************************************************
Ten II prepares for Sunday dinner with the family and Rose. Rose ruminates over her loyalty to Ten and her frustrations over being back in Pete's World.

A lot of internal dialogue, so sorry if things seem to bog down a bit here. I promise, things will pick up with more action now that we've gotten into the major player's heads. Is it my imagination, or are these chapters getting longer? ;-)

Title: Wayward Son - Chapter 8: The Wall
Characters: Jackie Tyler; Ten II; Pete Tyler; Tony Tyler
Genre: Alternate Universe; Angst; Character Study; Het; Romance
Author's Description: Set mostly in the AU of Pete's World; TenII hits a big snag in his efforts to forge a new life with Rose and finds himself facing an unexpected identify crisis.
Length: WIP
Rating: Teen for slight swearing

Comments

( 2 comments — Leave a comment )
wphorseluver
Jan. 9th, 2012 05:24 am (UTC)
Loved his note on the cards and his dilemma over what to sign it as - I can totally see Ten II doing that. Now Rose needs to get her head out of her arse and forgive him! :) And yes, it does seem like the chapters are getting longer :)
biteymadlady58
Jan. 9th, 2012 06:25 am (UTC)
I'm so glad you liked it! (Oh, and glad to see you got over your little virus thing, too!)

Rose is not heartless, just mistaken and a little (ok, maybe a lot) OCD. She let nothing, even barely surviving her injuries, deter her from getting back to the other universe. It's hard, once you're in that mode, of switching gears. Somebody needs to shake her out of that.

And the chapters keep getting longer because they are dictating the story to me. I keep telling myself that I'm going to start making shorter chapters, but it just ain't happening.
( 2 comments — Leave a comment )