Characters: Ten, Rose
Summary: During the Doctor’s reflective mood, The TARDIS lands somewhere Rose finds familiar. No real spoilers but the Graske get a Namecheck.
“You’d think by now I’d be used to this. I mean that’s nine times and crikey, ooo, loads of close calls. What sort of an average is that? Rubbish, that’s what. Better than Kosechki’s but still. 9 times at my age?
But then the weird thing is the experiences and the memories fighting for reality. And the walking. Oh, and the teeth, now that was weird. Nevermind, where was I? Oh yeah. Experiences.”
Rose Tyler watched in bemusement as The Doctor waltzed around the console during his monologue. If she were honest with herself she had rather been hoping that the ongoing commentary was a temporary thing. First night nerves, getting himself in order after the regeneration. But it seemed that once in a while he’d be off on one, rabbiting away as though terrified of silence. And he moved so much more, as if standing still would bring the silence down upon him. She realised he’d paused in both speech and movement and was watching her through the glass column in the centre of the console.
“Experience, yeah.” She nodded to emphasise that she had been listening to him. His concerned face split into that all new manic grins. Then he was moving again, throwing switches and pumping up the vector tracker lever. A quick glance at the screen and he was beside her, lent back against the console edge as she sat in the flight chair hugging her knees. His hands tucked under his jacket into the pockets of his trousers and he beamed down at her.
“The memories you see, all those centuries of turmoil adventure and derring do, they sorta pile together like one really long movie. You know like watching 'The Lord of the Rings' trilogy back to back. And I come out the other side thinking ‘is this my memory or something that I’ve seen?’ which I suppose is true on both counts. I mean I could only have been in my late 700s when I took John to see those. Not that he was much of spring chicken by that time. But there's a case in point you see. I know I took Tolkein to the movies but at the same time it wasn’t me. I’ve not done anything you haven’t seen me do. Well except for that business with the Graske. But that was an emergency”
Rose blinked at him; this was the first time she’d heard anything about a Graske. But she let it slide in the hope that he would eventually get to the point.
“Doctor, are you going anywhere with this or are you trying to hide something?”
“Oh Rose, what have I got to hide?”
“You’ve got us lost again?” she said it lightly, teasing. His grimace gave away the truth of her jest. “Oh you haven’t?”
“Well no I haven’t. I know exactly where we are. Its just not where I was expecting is all.” He reached out and took her hand from her knee, pulling her up and staring into her eyes. “You’re gonna need a big coat.”
And so it was that Rose stepped out of the doors of the battered 1950s Police Box that was her home and onto ice. It was pleasant enough, no wind to speak of. Could be January back at Mum’s. Her breath billowed out ahead of her in a mist of sparkling droplets. She heard the TARDIS doors close with a creak and turned. The Doctor had slung his long beige overcoat on and looked just as he had done in when he’d first offered to take her travelling again. His hair still fountained from above his left eye to stream down over his right. His long thin nose separating sparkling brown eyes. Those eyes were wide now, taking in everything they could. Suddenly he spotted something and the eyes crinkled in a joyous smile
Rose followed his gaze to the left and took a sharp breath. The duffel coat he’d found for her was smaller than she had expected and sharp breaths weren’t really a good idea.
It was the waves that she’d seen. Towering on the horizon but here they were just building ripples under foot getting larger as she looked away. She knew that eventually they would stop at an equally cold shore. By then they would be towering tsunami of potential. Flash frozen. And somewhere amongst them her footprints probably still lay.
“This is Woman Wept?”
“Uh huh.” He agreed with a nod, taking her hand and leading her away from the surreal storm, out across the ice to a spire of stone, nearly large enough to be an island.
“What are we doing here, I thought we were going somewhere new, you said?”
“Oh Rose, come on. What was I just telling you in the TARDIS, eh? For me this is somewhere new. This body’s not been here before. Imagine that Rose, I’ve been around for 900 years but right now, on this alien world, you, Rose Tyler, have been here before me. Don’t you think that’s fantastic? I do. But then I suppose it’s a matter of perspective.” He smirked and squeezed her hand lightly. “Besides, technically speaking we’ve not been here before, not to this little island all the way out here in the ocean.”
Rose sighed. He must have his reasons she supposed, but this time Woman Wept wasn’t as interesting as last time. When the previous Doctor had taken her hand on the beech and led her under the crystalline waves at midnight.
This time it was midday. The open expanse of frozen water was just dull and glaring in her eyes. And to tell the truth she still missed the feeling of his hand in hers. His old hand.
To her surprise The Doctor let go of her hand at the precise moment that thought crossed her mind. She was worried he’d used some telepathy or other until he knelt down at the edge of the island with a cry of joyous triumph.
“There, I knew it! We were out by about a year, but this time, completely by accident we’re spot on!” he fished in his jacket pocket and pulled out his glasses, hooking them over his ears without much regard for the frames.
“What are you going on about?” Rose moaned fed up with being kept in the dark. She squatted down carefully, not as eager to contact the ice, as the Doctor seemed to be.
He waved her closer and pointed excitedly to a patch of pale green under the ice. She squinted at it but couldn’t see for the life of her what was so exciting.
His faded as he looked from her to the ground and back several times. Eventually his face fell completely and he drew the sonic screwdriver from his pocket with a sigh. He thumbed at the stem a couple of times before holding the lighted end at an n angle to the ice. The usual whine of the device was slow and low as if running at the lowest possible setting.
As Rose watched the patch of green moved out of the purple light from the screwdriver and settled down again a foot away.
“Its alive!” she whispered, frightened that she may disturb it more than the screwdriver had. The Doctor’s mad grin returned to his face and he pulled the glasses from his nose, dropping them and the screwdriver back into his pocket.
“Exactly! Even here, after all this time. Life goes on. And to that ameboid gestalt down there Women Wept is as new as it to me. It’s life from the depths of this very ocean, the spawn of the planet starting over. Finding each new day of joy and pain and sorrow in the long, long path into the light. How long before it makes that island there its home? How long before it wonders if there's more to life than this one piece of rock and the sky?” he stood up suddenly and spread his arms wide. He whirled around on one foot in a display of his joy of life. A display that would have succeeded had his plimsolls gripped better on the ice.
He crashed to the ground with a thump. The wind knocked out of him but laughter on his lips. Rose laughed along with him as she bent to help him up. She could never be sure if it was accident or design that brought her crashing down on top of him.
All sound ceased save for their excited breathing. They stared into each other’s eyes for a second that seemed like an eternity.
“Your nose has gone red.” She blinked at him and he stared back, all wide eyed puppydog innocence. She slapped at him and the laughter started again.
Eventually he made it to his feet and hefted her up alongside him. “Not exactly Torvill and Dean, but at least we didn’t fall through the ice. I think next stop ought to be somewhere much healthier, in fact I’ve got quite a craving for pineapple. Not tried a pineapple on this tongue yet, that should be worth a laugh. Hope I like it, had a terrible time with the stuff a few lifetimes back.”
The time travellers wandered away hand in hand to the stark blue box. A little while after they reached it, it faded from view with the roar of ancient engines punching their way into the vortex.
At the shore of the island a crack in the ice had formed when the last of the time lords had crashed to the ground. By nightfall that evening the green under the ice had found there was more to life than a skyfull of icicles.