STANDARD DISCLAIMER: The Doctor Who characters belong to the BBC and I'm not making any money from this.
Forever afterwards, Peri would wonder what might have happened if she'd only told the Doctor what she had discovered in Tegan's old rooms that first afternoon. Would they have still gone to Androzani, or would they have gone looking for Tegan instead? Would something else have triggered the Doctor's regeneration into the pudgy fashion victim with the tart tongue and the crazy patchwork coat, or would he still be that cricket-loving young man with the innocent eyes and ready smile whom she had known so briefly? She had no way of knowing what would have happened, but she would always wonder.
"Go ahead, choose your rooms," the Doctor had told Perpugilliam Brown, motioning at a number of doors in the corridor where they stood. "You can have any of these." When Peri had started for one of the doors, the Doctor had moved to stand between her and it. "Er, except for that one," he had amended, sounding oddly flustered. At her look, he had elaborated. "Those rooms were Tegan's."
"All right, Doctor," she had agreed, and chosen another set of rooms close by.
Now Peri sat on her new bed, rather at a loss. She had explored her new rooms and found spots for her few possessions, and there wasn't much left to do. She decided to go find the Doctor and see what he was doing. As she pulled the door to her new living space shut behind her, the door to Tegan's rooms just up the corridor from hers caught her eye. Her intuition told her that the Doctor didn't want anyone going in there. The lure of the forbidden, she thought, glancing guiltily up and down the corridor. When she was sure the coast was clear, she crept up the hallway, opened the forbidden door, and slipped inside. The room was dark when she pulled the door shut, but soon motion detectors registered her presence and the lights gradually came up.
Peri was a bit disappointed; the discovery of this very ordinary-looking bedroom was somehow anticlimactic. The bed had a metal frame and a white bedspread. A coat stand in one corner held what looked to Peri like some kind of uniform jacket done in lavender along with a matching pillbox hat. As she walked around, she suddenly realized two things: That Tegan had left abruptly, without taking any of her personal effects with her (they were all over the place; a skirt draped over the back of a chair, a pair of black pumps on the floor, a neatly-arranged assortment of perfumes and make-up on the dressing stand) and that everything had been left just as it was, as though Tegan might return at any moment. There were shelves on one wall holding knickknacks and souvenirs from the various worlds Tegan had visited with the Doctor. On one shelf was a CD player with a blinking red light. Curious, Peri moved to inspect it more closely. A slight whirring sound from within the device along with the blinking light told her that there was a CD still spinning inside it, paused until its owner came back to continue playing it. "You've got a long wait, pal," she told it. "Just between you and me, I don't think she's coming back." On an impulse, she hit play and the music resumed exactly where Tegan had paused it only a few weeks ago.
All the time I find I'm living in that evening
With that feeling of sticky love inside.
I'm hanging on the Old Goose Moon,
You looked like an angel sleeping it off at the station
Were you only passing through?
I'm dying for you just to touch me
And feel all the energy rushing right up me
L'amour looks something like you.
"Hmm," she said. She allowed the CD to play in the background as she continued her exploration. She walked over to the dressing stand and surveyed the perfume bottles. Spotting one whose egg shape was familiar to her from advertisements for Calvin Klein's Obsession, she picked it up and lightly spritzed her left wrist, then set the bottle down and rubbed both wrists together. Finally she sniffed the result, her eyes opening wide in surprise. "Wow, that's some sexy perfume you wore there, Tegan," she said aloud. "Phew!" She made a face. The dark floral scent was far too heavy for her own taste, and she went in search of the bathroom so she could wash it off. There were only two other doors in the room; the first one she tried was a closet, which was filled with clothing and accessories. The second door turned out to be the bathroom. A shelf above the toilet held a number of soaps and bottles of perfumed bubble baths. She noted among them another egg-shaped bottle similar to the one containing the perfume she intended to wash off her wrists, reminding her why she'd gone in there in the first place.
Peri soon discovered that Obsession perfume was not easy to remove from one's skin. Despite scrubbing her wrists with every soap she could find in that bathroom until they were both quite red, a hint of the rich floral scent still lingered. Oh well, it'll wear off eventually, she reasoned. She didn't feel right about using Tegan's towels to dry her hands, so she tore off a length of toilet paper and dried them as best she could with that. Lobbing the wet toilet paper into the trashcan under the sink, something there caught her eye and she knelt to investigate. Buried under loops of clean toilet paper that looked hastily flung there for the sole purpose of hiding it from obvious view was a cardboard box. The box was wrapped in toilet paper in an obvious effort to disguise what it was, what it contained. Curious, she retrieved it from the garbage and unwrapped it. "Oh my," she said in surprise, sitting back on her heels. There was something inside, also wrapped in toilet paper. She pulled the object out and unwrapped it. She stared at it for a moment, and then read the instructions on the back of the box. "Oh my," she repeated. She hesitated, wondering what to do. Tegan hid this for a reason, she suddenly thought, and made her decision. She hurriedly rewrapped the item, stuffed it back into its box, rewrapped the box and made sure it was buried under everything else in the trashcan. She stood, trying to decide if she could actually empty the trashcan without the Doctor knowing, but something told her not to try it; she had an odd feeling that he might secretly spend time in these rooms and would notice if anything were altered. She left the bathroom and went into the other room, where she sat for a long time on the edge of Tegan's bed, listening to Tegan's Kate Bush CD and lost in her own thoughts.
The Doctor glanced at her briefly as she entered the console room, and then went back to adjusting the TARDIS controls.
"So, Doctor – " she began. The Doctor cut her off.
"You've been in Tegan's rooms," he observed flatly. He looked up from the controls to meet her eye; Peri noted that he did not look very happy with her. She had no idea how he knew she'd been in there, but had a feeling that any denial would be pointless and would only serve to annoy him further.
"How did you know?" she asked.
"I smelled her perfume when you walked in," he said shortly. She raised a wrist to her nose and sniffed it. Damn, she thought, that stuff does cling. "So, did you find anything interesting?" he asked, his head bent over his controls and his sandy hair hanging down to obscure his features. His tone was like cut glass.
"Um, n-n-nothing really remarkable," she said carefully. There was a moment of silence. Peri took a deep breath. "Doctor, were Turlough and Tegan very close?"
"Not especially, no," he answered absently, fiddling with a knob. "Why?"
"Just wondering," she mumbled. "And I'm sorry I went in her rooms without your permission," she continued. "And…" she began.
"Yes?" he asked, giving her a curious look. Tegan hid it for a reason, Peri reminded herself. She shook her head.
"Nothing," she said, opening the console room door. "I'm just going to go sit in the Cloisters for awhile," she told him.
"All right. Oh, and Peri?" he asked. She turned in the doorway. "Apology accepted." She smiled.
Peri sat on a bench in the Cloisters, still wondering what to do. Snatches of lyrics from the songs on Tegan's CD kept coming back to interrupt her thoughts.
That feeling of sticky love inside.
She thought about sitting on Tegan's bathroom floor, holding the test stick in her hand and comparing it to the pictures on the back of the box which showed one blue line to confirm that the test was working, and another for a positive result. The test stick that Peri had held in her hand had shown two distinct blue lines, silently explaining Tegan's sudden departure more succinctly than words ever could.
This kicking here inside makes me leave you behind
No more under the quilt to keep you warm.
Tegan hid it for a reason, Peri reminded herself again. Perhaps Tegan had intended, or indeed had wanted it to be found after she left, but somehow Peri didn't think so. She thought it more likely that a panicked Tegan simply couldn't think of a way to get rid of the blasted thing for good without anyone seeing it, so she'd hidden it temporarily until she could think of something or could decide what to do. Peri stood, resolving to go directly back to Tegan's rooms and remove the evidence once and for all.
She was certain that was the right thing to do.
AUTHOR'S NOTE: You don't like this ending? Too sad, you say? Never fear! Just as some movies on DVD have alternate endings among their many features, you can view the alternate ending to this very fic by simply clicking on the next chapter button! The alternate ending is entirely AU and does not fit into cannon at all, so if that kind of thing doesn't rev your engine, you'd better give it a miss. As for the rest of you... I hope you enjoy it!