Authors: Gillian Taylor
Characters: Tenth Doctor, Rose Tyler, Mickey Smith, Dorothée McShane
Summary: He still had no clue about women.
Spoilers: 'Girl in the Fireplace' and a very 'wee' bit of the NA 'Set Piece'
Disclaimer: Don't own them. I just like playing with them...a lot.
Archive: Sure, just let me know.
A/N: Thanks, as always, to my fabulous betas WMR, Ponygirl, and NNWest.
by Gillian Taylor
Chapter 1: Falling Apart
She stalked away from him after a terse, "See you later."
It was the late twenty-second century, Earth. She could get lost here, hide in the crowds, shop, people-watch, or do one of ten thousand little things to drive away the memory of what he'd done.
Once upon a time, he'd promised that he'd never leave her like he had Sarah Jane. Once upon a time, she'd thought he'd meant it. Once upon a time was gone, shattered into a thousand tiny pieces because of Madame du Pompadour. She didn't care that he had gone back to save her (that was what he did). She didn't care that he was stranding himself there (goodbye, Doctor, my Doctor). What she cared about, what worried her, was that he had left Mickey and herself stranded in the fifty-first century. No way home. No way to rescue him.
Just them and the TARDIS.
She knew he had regrets. This trip was a means of atonement, or so she thought. See Earth, late twenty-second century. Best shops in the galaxy. Eat, sleep, drink, shop, be merry.
He still had no clue about women. Neither did Mickey. She'd left both of them behind because, for now, she just wanted to be by herself. See if Rose Tyler, twenty-first century girl, could survive on her own in the future. Because one day, if this trend held up, she might have to.
She bit her lip as she considered her options. Shop? Eat? Or just explore?
Exploration would be good. Get the lay of the land, and, if something happened, she'd know where she was. Jack had taught her that. She suppressed a pang of sorrow at the thought. She missed him. Though, to be honest, she missed them. The Doctor, her first Doctor, and Jack. Travelling the universe together. Because this Doctor, new new Doctor, wasn't him.
Everything had changed.
So she explored. Poked her head into shops, down alleys, and wandered through neighbourhoods she probably shouldn't have ever come near. She saw the poor, the wretched, and miserable. She saw the wealthy, the well-to-do, and the privileged.
And then she saw the undercurrent. Beneath this perfect world, beneath the pristine streets, the shops, and the smiling faces, she saw the truth. One too many police officers, one too many suspicious looks sent her way, one too many nervous expressions as people walked past her. Something was wrong.
Something was terribly, horribly wrong, and she had to figure out what it was. But, first, she should probably get back. Find the Doctor and Mickey, and show them what she'd found. Even if she wanted to sulk, saving the world took priority. He might be a new new Doctor, but he was still the Doctor. He could still save the day, save the world, save a person. It was what he did. Who he was.
That would never change, no matter the regeneration. New new Doctor or not.
She shoved her hands into the pockets of her pale grey hoodie and turned around. Though she'd been wandering most of the afternoon, the TARDIS should only be a few minutes walk away.
She could even imagine the Doctor's face when she told him what she'd noticed. Maybe he'd be proud. Maybe he'd smile. Maybe he'd grin, grab her hand, and head toward the centre of government to sort whatever problem she'd found. Or maybe he'd already know. Maybe he'd been looking for her. Maybe he'd be angry because she'd been gone for so long without him.
No. That wouldn't be the case. He had her mobile number. If he'd been worried, he could've just called. And her phone hadn't even emitted a single beep or buzz.
"Attention, attention. Citizens of Nova Paris, curfew in ten minutes. Repeat, curfew in ten minutes. Return to your homes. Any citizens on the streets without express permission from the Constables will be arrested. Repeat, curfew in ten minutes."
She jumped at the sudden announcement. A curfew? The sun hadn't even set. She bit her lower lip and increased her pace. A few more minutes and she'd be back at the TARDIS. A few more minutes and she could tell the Doctor what she'd found. A few more minutes and she'd be able to shake the sudden feeling of danger.
It was all wrong.
She turned the corner and smiled in relief as she spotted the TARDIS. The Doctor and Mickey were probably inside, wondering about her. Good. She could tell them...
Her thoughts and musings were cut short as an arm snaked around her waste and a hand was pressed against her mouth before she could scream.
"Don't make a sound, Rose. Please. They're watching," an unfamiliar voice hissed into her ear as she was dragged into a darkened alleyway.
She was struck dumb for an instant, before she began to struggle against the steely grip of her captor. How could she, and it was a female from the sound of her voice, know her name?
"Rose, stop it! I'm a friend, okay? A friend of the Doctor's and of you, so please stop struggling. They'll find us!"
She wanted to demand answers to the dozens of questions that tumbled about in her mind. She wanted to break free of the woman's hold and see who had accosted her. She wanted to do many different things all at the same time, including breaking loose and running back to the TARDIS, but she did none of them. Instead, she stopped struggling. She would play along, see what this person had to say, and then, if she didn't like what she heard, she could always escape later. It was a plan.
Her captor relaxed her grip once they were hidden behind a large metal bin in the alleyway. "I'm going to let you go, Rose. We've got to talk."
Rose nodded and, once she was free, she turned around. The other woman wore some sort of jet-black armour and her eyes were covered by mirrored shades. Great. One of the best physical cues for a person's intentions was their eyes. Jack had taught her that, too. Taught her that their movement, the dilation of the pupils, or even the amount of times they blinked could all be give-aways. However, she didn't even have that benefit. All she could see was the reflection of her own face.
"Who are you?" she asked – or, rather, demanded.
She did have to admit that the other woman had a nice smile. "Call me Dorothée. As for who I am, I'm a friend. And the Doctor's in trouble."
The Doctor was always in trouble, she wanted to scoff. But something in Dorothée's voice told her it was much more than that. "What do you mean?"
The other woman gestured in the direction of the TARDIS. "He's the Doctor. Talked to the wrong person on the street, said the wrong thing, and now both he and your other friend are currently in the gaol cooling their heels since they're 'rebel' elements. Anyone spotted going near the TARDIS is going to be joining them."
"How d'you know who I am?" she asked, folding her arms in front her. "It's all well an' good that you know the Doctor, but how could you..." Understanding dawned. Time travel. Anything was possible. She could've met Dorothée in her future, Dorothée's past. It was definitely possible, if not probable, because the other woman was not someone she'd be likely to forget.
Dorothée smiled. "Now you're getting it. I knew you were a smart one." She pulled off her shades and held them loosely in her hand, staring intently at her. "This Earth? This future? It's not the way things are supposed to go. Nova Paris should be a peaceful, sprawling city with happy locals, cheap trinkets for sale, and bad tea."
"And the Doctor noticed it," she reasoned. Of course he did. He was the Doctor. He could find patterns in the most ephemeral of clues. Earth, late twenty-second century, Nova Paris. Too many guards, too many frightened and suspicious looks, and curfews. All pointed to a harsh and unforgiving government. If she had seen it, of course he had. Probably had figured it out once he and Mickey had stepped out of the TARDIS.
Knowing him, he'd probably asked the first person about what was going on and that was that. Arrested and thrown in gaol with Mickey. Some things never changed. Still the Doctor. Still had the knack for having trouble find him.
"So did you," the other woman replied, a knowing look on her face. "However, much as I'm enjoying this little chat, we need to get a move on. They're a little anal about their curfews. I've got a place where we can hole up for the night and plan how to get the Doctor out of gaol."
She frowned. It was getting late, and the curfew would present a rather large problem should they attempt to rescue the Doctor tonight. Especially since she didn't know the lay of the land. She didn't know much about the customs. And she definitely knew nothing about what had happened to Nova Paris to cause this particular version of the future. And her newfound friend apparently did. "Where?" she asked, not bothering to demand answers to her other questions just yet. That would come later, after they were somewhere safe.
"This way," Dorothée said, gesturing toward the other end of the alley. "Brought something along that'll help us avoid the locals. Curfew starts in a minute."
She nodded and followed along behind her, envying the other woman's almost cat-like grace. She felt like she was more knees and elbows even when she was trying to be silent. When she saw the 'something' that her companion had mentioned, her mouth dropped open in shock.
It was a black motorcycle. Not a futuristic one, though it did have a fair bit of bits and bobs that she suspected hadn't come standard when it was purchased. But a recognisably-from-her-century motorbike.
Dorothée swung her leg over the saddle of the bike and gestured for her to climb on behind her. "It'll take a few seconds to get there, just got to set the coordinates."
She felt somewhat dubious as she slipped onto the bike, gently gripping her companion's waist for balance. Coordinates? It was a motorcycle, not a –
A brilliant burst of multi-coloured light blinded her as the roar of the motorcycle's engine filled her ears. She had a sense of movement, of amazing speed, of something strangely familiar – a song? Yes, a song, in her head.
It's like...there was this singing...
That's right! I sang a song and the Daleks ran away.
The song. A beautiful song of such age and power and sorrow and knowledge and she knew it she was it she was the B –
Hands grasped at her shoulders, desperately shaking her. "Rose! Bloody hell, I wasn't thinking. Rose! Answer me!" The voice - Dorothée's? Yes, Dorothée's. – was tinged with desperation.
She blinked and she felt reality shift. The other woman hovered over her, her face a study in worry. Somehow they'd moved. They were in what looked like a flat. She could see a bed, a table, what looked to be a telly, a sofa– which she'd somehow been moved to – and, of course, the anachronistic black motorbike parked in the centre of the room. "H…how?" Not the most brilliant of questions, but an obvious one.
Dorothée didn't answer. Instead she bustled to the tiny kitchen and pressed a series of keys on something that looked like it belonged on an episode of Star Trek rather than in real life. A moment later, she returned carrying a mug full of some sort of steaming liquid. "Here, drink. It's tea. You need it."
She accepted the cup, willing the heat to transfer to her suddenly chilled limbs. "What was that?" she asked before she took a sip.
She blinked. The Vortex? "As in the Vortex? Space-time vortex? Travel through space an' time Vortex?"
Dorothée nodded. "Exactly. It's not as flashy as the TARDIS, of course, but...I'm sorry, Rose. I should've realised that it'd have that effect on you."
What the hell? "What d'you mean?"
It was obvious that her companion hadn't been affected by the Vortex, not like she'd been. But why? And why should Dorothée have realised that it'd have an effect on her? It was the Vortex. The bloody space-time Vortex and it'd done something to her. Must've done.
I sang a song...
She set the cup aside and pinched the bridge of her nose. What was going on?
It was obvious that Dorothée was picking her words carefully. Not because she was trying to simplify her words, but she suspected it was more that she didn't want to reveal too much. Wasn't that just fantastic? "Travelling in the TARDIS makes you a bit...sensitive to the Vortex. It's a maelstrom in there, Rose. And travelling, even for a few moments, unprotected in there can cause...problems."
"Problems?" she repeated.
"Best ask the Doctor. He can explain it best."
It was an obvious tactic, but something told her that nothing could sway Dorothée to change her mind. Well, damnit anyway.
How did that saying go? Best laid plans of mice and Time Lords? Pretty much. Story of his life. All he'd done was go up to one of the locals right after leaving the TARDIS, Mickey in tow, and said, 'Hello, I'm the Doctor. Why don't you tell me what's wrong?' Next thing he knew, he'd been shoved up against his TARDIS, handcuffed, gagged – now that was annoying, hard to prattle when gagged – and brought here.
With Mickey Smith.
At least they'd the courtesy of putting them in the same cell. Though they hadn't had the courtesy of leaving him his jacket or the handy sonic screwdriver. It was rather hard to be intimidating when stripped to the waist, but he figured that he could manage it. Their captors had yet to indicate that they were interested in talking.
In fact, they'd been left in the cell, alone, in semi-darkness for at least two hours. Typical human tactic, that. Trying to get them to think about their supposed crimes, think about what might happen, think about what sort of torture they might resort to so they could get whatever answers they wanted. In short, it was almost insulting.
"So, how're we going to get out of this?" Mickey asked.
Ah, companions. They always had a knack of asking the obvious. "With my dazzling charm and quick wits."
Wait. He had said that right, hadn't he? "Or is that quick charm and dazzling wits? No, think I had it right the first time."
He could hear Mickey shifting on the floor in the futile – and he knew this from experience – attempt to find a comfortable position. The chains strapped to their feet tended to restrict movement, and humans wouldn't invent comfortable floors until, oh, the thirty-ninth century. "But what about Rose?"
Ah, yes. What about Rose? This trip was meant to be a bit of penance for him. A plea for forgiveness, perhaps, for his actions with Reinette. Oh, he hadn't been thinking before. Rarely did, actually. Just jumped right in, forgetting the possible consequences of his actions. That really was a fault of all of his incarnations.
Part of the reason why he was stuck here without Rose, too. Jumped right in. Figured out that something wasn't right and stuck his foot in it as usual. "Oh, she's fine. Probably back at the TARDIS, wondering where we got off to."
Or captured like they were. Or about to do something incredibly stupid – as she was sometimes apt to do – like mount a one-woman rescue attempt in an unfamiliar city.
Right. Enough moping.
"This is Rose we're talking about, Doctor."
"Don't you think I know that?" he snapped and winced at the sound. He sighed and ran his hand through his hair. "Sorry, Mickey, it's just..."
"Yeah, I know. You're worried about her." Mickey sounded rather glum.
"Worried about us. Worried about her. Worried about time. Worried about Nova Paris. Worried about the price of tea in China. Worried about lots of things, really. There's a lot of worry going on," he agreed. "I shouldn't take it out on you." He shouldn't. He knew he shouldn't, but he couldn't help but be concerned.
Rose was out there, without him, in an unfamiliar city, with a totalitarian government in control. Curfews were strictly enforced and violators of whatever laws they had were shot or thrown into prison. At least, that was the way it usually worked.
"She'll be fine," he said, more for his own benefit than Mickey's.
However, before Mickey could respond, the cell door scraped open. A large, burly man loomed over them, his stance indicating that he wouldn't tolerate any disobedience on their part. So Muscles was accounted for. Where was the Boss?
A smaller man followed him in, his beady eyes glaring at them as he cleared his throat. "I am Jacques LeMoreau, Chief Diktar of Nova Paris. You have been found guilty of a most heinous crime."
He smiled. "Ah. Hello, I'm the Doctor. This is Mickey Smith."
"SILENCE!" the burly man ordered, cracking his knuckles suggestively.
"The crime of asking questions of the regime or of a citizen carries a heavy sentence. You are hereby condemned-"
He interrupted before it could go much further. "Condemned? Condemned! For asking a question? All I asked was 'what's wrong?' Why, there are planets where asking questions is considered an art form. I asked a question once and they were so inspired by it that they couldn't stop talking about it for about a century. It was brilliant!" Before he could continue, he felt a brilliant burst of pain on his cheek.
Dazed, he found that he'd fallen to the floor from the force of the punch. "Oi! I was talking! Didn't they tell you it's rude to punch someone when they're ta-"
Muscles kicked him. The next flash of pain caused him to wince.
Right. New tactic.
LeMoreau smiled, but there was no real feeling behind the expression. "Insolence adds to the severity of your crime, Doctor. You are condemned to Serenity."
"Serenity?" Mickey asked. "Doesn't sound too bad."
"Could do with a bit of a kip," he agreed.
Now Jacques' smile held a measure of warmth. "As you're obviously unfamiliar with our customs, I'll be frank. Serenity is death."
Well, wasn't that fantastic?
To be continued...