Show: Doctor Who
Pairing: Allusions to Ten/Rose
Timeline: A few days after Midnight and directly before Turn Left.
Synopsis: When the Doctor is ready to talk, he’s ready to talk. Luckily, Donna’s always ready to listen.
Donna paused just outside the doorway of the room she had dubbed the Thinking Room. He had laughed when she had called it that, but every time she had found him here and asked what he was doing...his answer had been ‘thinking’. As a result, it wasn’t unusual to find him here when he had a lot on his mind.
A smile appeared on her lips when she heard the music playing. He never denied her when she wanted to listen to music of some sort, but...it’d been a while since she’d noticed him listening to something that he’d chosen himself. In fact, he’d been uncharacteristically quiet since their time on Midnight. He kept insisting that he was alright...that he was ‘always alright’. But, she supposed that having a group of strangers try to kill you would have that effect.
She watched him pick up an object, turning it in his hands as he smiled absently. She wasn’t sure what it was...a box of some sort, with pictures adorning the sides. She felt her curiosity pique as he methodically made his way through each of the objects, of which there were at least twenty that she had counted.
He paused suddenly, lowering his eyes as he placed an item that looked like a small pyramid made out of amethyst back onto the table. When she saw him inhale deeply and clench his jaw, she decided that she wouldn’t listen to ‘I’m always alright’ this time.
He looked up quickly as she stepped into the room, clearing his throat and averting his eyes almost immediately. “Donna...”
“What’s wrong?” She shook her head as he opened his mouth to reply, pulling out a chair on the opposite side of the table. “Don’t say ‘nothing’, because that’d just be bullshit and we both know it.”
He was quiet for a moment longer, obviously collecting his thoughts. She had been working on her patience for the last few months...but, it was still a work in progress.
“Spit it out. You’re not doing yourself any good keeping everything all bottled up, you know. And, I’m not leaving this room until you talk to me. And I don’t mean ‘hi, how’s things’ kind of talk. I mean the kind of talk where you actually tell me what’s wrong with you instead of giving me some fake smile and pretending that everything’s just fine when it’s not. Because everything’s not just fine and I know it. You’ve been moping around here for days now...and I get it. I mean, they almost killed you and – ”
“Blimey, you ramble more than I do.” He sighed and sat back in his chair. “And I’m not moping. Well, I’m not moping because a few people got scared and...”
She watched the tears fill his eyes and reached over to cover his hand with hers. “What is it? This is about more than what happened on Midnight, isn’t it?”
He smiled softly and shook his head, gesturing towards the speaker on the wall. “Song reminds me of Rose, is all. Well, actually...the whole cd reminds me of her. But, particularly this song. I...always have this reaction when I hear it. It’s nothing to worry about.”
Donna opened her mouth and then closed it...choosing to listen to the lyrics of the song instead of talking through them. It wasn’t a very long song...and it wasn’t one that she’d ever heard before. In fact, she couldn’t even place the voice of the lead singer...and the music didn’t sound familiar at all.
She still didn’t say anything once the song had ended. For once in her life, words wouldn’t come to her. Instead, she watched the Doctor pull his hand out from under hers and wipe a tear from his eye. It wasn’t the first time she’d seen tears on his face...and the first time had been to do with Rose as well.
After a few moments, she said the first thing that came to mind. “Nice song...”
She winced as she said it and was mildly surprised to hear him give a soft chuckle. He took a deep breath, glancing at her as he nodded in agreement.
“Rose had a habit. Well, not so much of a habit but more of a...ritual.” He started, rubbing the lobe of his left ear between his right index finger and thumb. “Wherever we went, she always bought a cd...or a cassette...or a measured wavelength...”
Donna furrowed her brow. “A measured wavelength?”
“Yeah...” The Doctor smiled, meeting her eyes. “Popular form of giving music to the masses in the twenty-third century. Pay your money and it’s downloaded directly into your head. Set the music world on its ear...brilliant invention. And it came with a converter too...you could transfer it onto whatever media player you had so you could share it with other people. Much like copying a cd or taping a song from a radio onto a blank cassette.”
“Rose likes music, huh?” Donna smiled back, carefully nudging him back on track.
“Loves music. She got this in 2010...after we’d spent two days tracking down the Parshing Monolith. She listened to it so much that the TARDIS actually put an indefinite ban on it after a few weeks.” He grinned, a faraway look in his eyes that Donna recognized as him falling into a memory. “Rose was so...oh, I’d never heard her curse the TARDIS like she did then. The ban only lasted for a month or so, but...I think she was in danger of having it reinstated less than a week after the TARDIS lifted it.”
Donna laughed, but said nothing...content to let the Doctor continue. And continue, he did.
“We...danced to that song. Once...no, twice.” He stated softly, glancing at the ceiling when the lights flickered. “Sorry...three times, we danced. I forget about actually dancing that third time, I just remember her singing it to me. Sometimes I can still hear her singing it.”
He smiled as he listened to the current song playing. “We laughed during this one...and she kissed me during the next one. I...should have told her how I felt. Feel...”
Donna tilted her head, fairly surprised at his admission. Not surprised at what he said, but that he said it at all.
“And...how do you feel?”
He darted his eyes to hers, holding her gaze for just a moment before gesturing to the items on the table. “Do you know what these are?”
Donna shook her head, somewhat disappointed in the seemingly change of subject. “Well...that one looks like a pyramid.”
He smiled, running his fingertip down the side of the object she’d mentioned. “This is a...” He paused and swallowed hard, his smile fading. “Today is Rose’s birthday. This is her birthday present.”
He reached over and glided his fingers over the box he’d been holding earlier. “This is her Christmas present from last year...no...the year before.”
Suddenly, Donna understood. And she felt a lump form in her throat as he picked up each item and told her the reason for him having it. Birthdays, Christmases...past, present, and future. Anniversaries...of course, not traditional anniversaries. No, the Doctor celebrated anniversaries of a different nature.
The time he and Rose had saved a Queen from a werewolf. The first time he’d laughed at one of her most inane jokes. The first time that she’d understood what he was saying...without him having to explain. And then there was the anniversary of Rose piloting the TARDIS through the vortex on her own...for all of five minutes before the TARDIS became nervous and, with a violent bout of turbulence, insisted the Doctor resume control. But, still...it was anniversary-worthy to the Doctor...and it was celebrated accordingly.
“What about that one?” Donna asked softly, pointing towards what looked like an old soapstone carving of a bird of some sort.
The Doctor shrugged and ran his fingertip along the intricate piece. “I came across it in a market a few months ago. I thought it looked like something she’d like.”
He swallowed, closing his eyes as the cd ended and left them in silence. “I love her.”
“Yeah, I got that.” Donna answered with a gentle smile. “Kinda knew that the first time we met.”
He opened his eyes and raised an eyebrow at her. “Not like you to keep something like that to yourself.”
“I can be discreet.” She shot him a glare when he snorted a laugh, swinging her foot towards him to kick him in the shin. “I can!”
He moved his leg quickly, narrowly avoiding the contact as he grinned brightly at her. “First time for everything, huh?”
“Yeah, I guess.” Her glare faded at the sound of his gentle teasing. “That and...I was a bit preoccupied that first time...getting married to a spider’s henchman and everything...”
“Filled with huon particles...” The Doctor added with a smile. “I’m...not sure what would’ve happened to me had you not been there.”
Donna rolled her eyes and waved her hand vaguely. “You would’ve saved the world...just like you always do.”
He looked like he was getting ready to say something, but stopped himself...merely giving her a slightly crooked smile. He was sure that he would’ve done all he could to save the world...once again. But, he wasn’t so sure that he would’ve stopped on his own. And if he hadn’t stopped when he had...
He lowered his eyes from hers and rubbed the back of his neck. “She loved me, you know? She told me...when I found a way to go to her to tell her goodbye. She told me that she loved me...knowing that she’d not see me again.”
“Maybe – ” Donna started, stopping when the Doctor’s eyes snapped back to hers. “No?”
He gave a subtle shake of his head, pushing
his chair back and standing. He walked
over to the stereo in the corner of the room.
Donna had teased him about it in the early days, not long after their
“Are you alright?” She asked, preparing to bite her tongue to keep from calling him on the lie she knew he was going to utter.
“I’ve fallen in love once in the past three hundred and twenty-two years.” He replied, turning his eyes to the cd rack and easily spotting the empty slot. “And there is a void between us that I can’t cross...no matter how hard I’ve tried, I can’t cross it.”
“I wasted too much time during our goodbye. I ran out of time before I had the chance to tell her that I love her too.” He slipped the cd into the empty spot before turning to look at her. “No. I’m not alright.”
Her eyes widened in obvious surprise.
“But, she’s alive. I take some comfort in that.” He continued with a small smile. “I do what I can here...because she made me a better man. I wouldn’t be the person I am now if not for her.”
Taking a deep breath, he exhaled slowly and slipped his hands into the pockets of his trousers. “What do you think about maybe going to Shan Shen?”
“What?” She asked, narrowing her eyes in confusion at the sudden change of subject.
There’s a brilliant Chinese marketplace.
Well...Chinese influenced. Well...the entire planet is influenced by
“You want to go shopping?” She asked incredulously. “You want to go shopping? After sitting here and spilling your guts for...” She paused as he grimaced. “What?”
“Spilling your guts? It’s just a horrible saying. What’s wrong with saying ‘opening up’ or ‘confessing your true feelings’ or...hey, what about ‘talking’? Or... ‘having an emotional discussion’...or ‘letting down the floodgates’...or...”
“For the love of...” She rolled her eyes and stood up. “Look...it’s just weird, yeah? I mean...you sit there and have this...emotional discussion...about the love of your life...or lives...or...whatever. And then, out of nowhere...you want to go shopping?”
He grinned and rocked lightly on the balls of his feet as he shrugged. “Could be fun...”
“You’re impossible, you know that?” She sighed and walked over to him, giving him a brief hug before shaking her head. “You’re brilliant and wonderful...but, you’re impossible.”
He gave her a wink as he stepped around her and moved back to the table. “Part of my charm. Don’t you think?”
“Charm?” She turned, ready to continue her playful tirade but stopping when she noticed him carefully placing the gifts back into a larger box. “You’d like to think you’re charming, wouldn’t you?”
She strode to the door, gesticulating wildly as she did. “Just wait until I’m in the console room before you take off this time, okay?”
He looked up, furrowing his brow. “Why?”
She stopped at the door and turned around, giving him a look that said he should know why. But, she gave him an answer anyway.
“Because the last time I was in the bathroom and you sending this thing hurtling through a time whatchamacallit...”
“Vortex.” He supplied with a heavy sigh.
“Whatever it is...it’s not my idea of a good time, okay? So...just freaking wait for me!”
He chuckled softly as she left the room, shaking his head in amusement. He gave another sigh, this one a bit sadder, as he continued the task of putting away the presents that he’d never be able to give to Rose.
“Happy birthday, Rose.” He whispered, picking up the purple object that resembled a pyramid. “I do love you.”
He swallowed the lump in his throat and gently placed the lid on the box. He had cleverly avoided Donna’s question as to what the object was. In reality, it had nothing to do with pyramids. It was a plipton. At least that’s what they were called on Regallitrace, a planet that he’d hopped over to while Donna was at Wilf’s birthday party a few weeks ago.
He knew that if he told Donna that it was a plipton, she’d just badger him until he told her exactly what a plipton was. And he had no desire to confess to her that it was considered a token of betrothal by the Regallitraxians.
It would most likely never be used for its purpose, but he’d keep it...safe in this box of gifts...just in case. The impossibility had a tendency to become possibility where Rose was concerned.
And he had no intention of giving up all hope just yet. He wasn’t sure if he could anyway.
“You coming or what?” Donna called from the hallway.
“Yeah, right...” He smiled, running his hand along the top of the box before making his way to the door.
He glanced back one more time, silently thanking the TARDIS for not placing a lifetime ban on the cd. The lights dimmed as the ship hummed softly in response. With a soft sigh, he stepped into the hall and closed the door behind him.
“Shan Shen, then...” He gave Donna a broad smile that was only partly fake. “You’re going to have a hell of a time there, I promise!”
Donna shook her head in mild amusement. “Promises, promises...”
He laughed and shoved his hands back into his pockets, nudging her shoulder with his as they ambled down the corridor. She nudged him back, giving him a wink as she did.
The Doctor smiled, making a silent vow to make sure that Donna never doubted what she meant to him.