I owe a few author notes. Firstly, I didn't mention at the end of last chapter but should of, that this is the last chapter of this story.
So thank you to all my readers, and all those who reviewed it. Two hundred reviews! I can't believe that you took so much time to review, and that this story was so well received. It's an honour, it really is.
Also, to those who are fellow thespians such as myself, a reviewer pointed out that I had given us a bad name. I guess it's true, so sorry if it offended or anything. We are a dying breed – well, actors aren't, but thespians are, in my opinion.
I hope everyone had a good new year. I spent the night having a Who marathon (season two) with some mates. The Doctor (and Tenth, no less!) mates and some alcohol – brilliant!
Oh, and something else, not important but anyway. I was watching the audio commentary of New Earth earlier today, and those doing it, including James Hawes, the director, did say that the kiss between the Doctor and Rose (even though it was technically Cassandra) was meant to look like that they were both enjoying it. So, to all my fellow 10Rose fans – WE WERE RIGHT! Even the production staff indicated it. So HA to all those out there who deny it. Long live 10Rose!
Rose slowly opened her eyes. What had happened? She had been onstage, the play…the dagger…she vaguely remembered being in the Doctor's arms. He had taken her somewhere, hadn't he?
As memory surfaced, Rose sat bolt upright, a hand flying to her lower chest as she winced in pain. There was gauze beneath her fingertips. A bandage? She looked down at the white square for a moment, before looking at her surroundings.
The TARDIS infirmary. Empty, apart from her, but it was definitely the TARDIS. Safe and comfortable. But where was the Doctor? She felt he should be here; as it must have been him who patched her up.
Rose brushed some hair away from her face, noticing for the fist time the needle embedded in the back of her hand. With her eyes she followed the tube to a small empty bag, no, wait, two of them – whatever had been in them was in her now – and so, biting her lip, she pulled the needle out and decided to go looking for the Doctor.
She cautiously swung herself off the bed, gasping in pain as she stood. It passed quickly – the Doctor had said he had given her a painkiller, hadn't he? – and she slowly staggered over to the door. As she did so, she caught sight of herself in a mirror.
She looked terrible, pale and blearily eyed. Her gown had been cut away around the wound, and most of the bloodstain with it, but there were still deep red markings visible against the white. How much blood had she lost?
She kept going, pulling the door open and walking unevenly down the corridor beyond, using the wall for support. A small voice told her this shouldn't really be possible so soon after a stab wound, but another voice shushed it with two words: 'alien medicine'.
The console room was empty, but the door was ajar. Rose could hear a voice beyond, angry, but soft. Two guesses who that could be. She made her slow way over to it, trying to make out the words.
"What are you? Killing innocent travellers for sport – for theatre! If she dies, I swear, I will kill you all." His voice was dangerously low and calm. Never a good sign.
Rose pulled open the door. The TARDIS had moved, and it was now inside the theatre. She walked onto the stage, and could see the Doctor and Antonio arguing below on the ground. Antonio – he was the Duke? Some how, it made perfect sense.
"You kill people – travellers – for art." The Doctor was saying. "Why don't you kill yourselves?"
"Because then we would be dead," Antonio replied smugly. His features were twisted into a cruel smile, as he obviously thought he had the upper hand. As he finished speaking, his eyes flicked up over the Doctor's shoulder to the stage. "And I see she isn't dead, then. A pity."
The Doctor turned, all anger vanishing as he saw her. "Rose…" He swung himself up onstage and put an arm around her, careful not to hurt her. "You shouldn't be up…"
"I'm fine…" Rose could feel cold fury lending her strength and she glared at Antonio. "What the hell do you mean 'a pity'? You tried to kill me. Whatever happened to bloody morals?"
"Morals?" Antonio laughed. "These are our morals!"
Rose could feel the Doctor tensing as she leaned against him. "You drag people down, offer them help and support, and them watch as they bleed to death before you, pleading for help. How twisted. How can you do that?" She was almost crying.
Antonio smiled at her as he swept a hand around, indicating the watching players. "Easily, I find. Don't we all?" There was ringing laughter and Antonio looked at the Doctor, indicating Rose. "She'll die anyway, Doctor, there was poison on the blade as insurance."
Rose glanced worriedly at the Doctor, who was still glaring at Antonio. "Cured."
Antonio raised an eyebrow. "Really? Impressive. Although your living is still somewhat of a mystery."
The Doctor shrugged. "I'm not poison resistant, if that's what you're asking."
"That was me," said Rose. Antonio turned to look at her, as did the Doctor, surprise in his eyes. "It was a lucky chance – I knocked over Romeo's poison bottle during the interval of the performance, and refilled it – with water."
The Doctor slowly turned this harsh gaze back on Antonio. "So what was originally inside?"
"Oh, some aspirin – my thanks for telling us about that – and a lethal poison."
"Then it's probably good I gave myself an antidote shot. But it's not like it would've worked anyway. You know, Antonio, that day at the Quill, when you said I was so strange that if I said I wasn't human you'd probably believe me? You were closer to the truth than you thought."
Antonio's smile faltered a little.
"You want to know what I am? I'm a Time Lord."
Antonio visibly paled as a murmur ran around the theatre. "You survived the war?"
"Heard of me, then? And I didn't just survive the war – I ended the war!"
Antonio had now gone white, and the other players were no longer smiling.
Rose glanced at the Doctor, who she was still leaning against, and saw fury and power sparking in his eyes. Something to behold, the Oncoming Storm…
"Didn't guess that much, did we? I wouldn't have died anyway, I would have regenerated. Then I would have come after you."
"Doctor, have you found out where Xander is?" she asked quietly, turning his gaze from Antonio to her. "What happened to him?"
"Oh, Rose," the Doctor said in a slightly strained voice. "He's the angel statue. It's his body, covered in plaster."
Rose felt sick to hear that. The beautiful angel, which she had admired – was Xander's dead body. How could someone do that, disrespect the dead so much?
"How could you?" she hissed at Antonio, who shrugged, his twisted, cruel smiled back on his face.
"He was in danger of warning you; and we couldn't have that, now could we? It would have spoiled everything!"
"So, just remind me. This plan of yours. You drag us down here, help us, warn us about the 'Duke'. We come, blind and willing, to act in your production. After days of rehearsal, you kill us both in the final production. It's murder – but the public, not part of the cult, is none the wiser – after all, the strangers just left, didn't they? There is no one who will report anything, because those who know are in on it. And this is all done for your own satisfaction? There is no superpower, no conspiracy, just a group of twisted actors who kill strangers for their own theatre." He sounded horrified, disgusted, and it also showed on his face and in his eyes.
Antonio, on the other hand, was smiling widely. "That's about it."
"But we disrupted that. What will you do now? The your public are aware that something real happened tonight."
"Oh, just an accident."
The Doctor walked forward to the edge of the stage, slowly, making sure Rose was alright alone. At the edge he stopped, looking down at Antonio, then around at the watching actors spread around the stage and theatre itself.
"So how far do you extend? This whole planet? Nah, otherwise why would you be so secretive? This town? Possible, but still the secrecy. Or – this theatre, this room. A small group, easy to keep track of. It's not so easy to find people willing to be involved in murder, or witness one." He had paced the stage's edge while he talked, and was now standing opposite Antonio again.
"You're right again, Doctor. Not all those involved are like us; as dedicated to theatre as us. All the cast, some of the backstage. Those who don't act work outback and organise things offstage. Those who are not of our talent do not have any knowledge of what they are part of."
Rose looked around at the watchers. All the people they had worked with. She couldn't see Marie, prayed she wasn't involved, but recognised the woman who had worked on the lighting along with the Doctor. She was watching with the same cruel, hateful smile as the others.
"But surely someone's noticed. Vanishing strangers, and what about Xander? Killing a citizen. This must be illegal, after all." The Doctor was now sitting on the edge of the stage like an impatient child, watching Antonio, waiting for an answer.
"There have been…accidents," Antonio started, as there was a rumble of laughter. "Some public were too nosey and tragically fell off scaffolding. One fell onto a real sword. We have become more careful."
"We will act it away like before."
There was a noise from the theatre foyer. A voice. Antonio looked startled as he heard, glancing between the foyer door and the Doctor as he jumped lightly down off the stage and started to wander around the floor..
"Someone's noticed, you know. Picked up that something was wrong. And when you're present at a stabbing, do you know what a normal person would do? They'd call the authorities."
Antonio started, and the Doctor grabbed a sword of a nearby actor, so quick the actor could only hiss at him. He swung it around until the tip was facing Antonio. "Want to see how much damage a prop sword can really do? Oh, and by the way, in, say, a play, the authorities would have got here quickly, but stopped to listen to the confrontation going on within. And, in a play, the villain would have revealed everything because he thinks he going to kill the two heroes. And, in a play, the villain's confidence would be his downfall. Good thing that Romeo and Juliet isn't technically over and you're still in a play, then, isn't it?"
Antonio had paled now, as the Doctor moved the tip of the sword even closer to him. Swinging it slightly, Antonio flinched as the blade drew along under his eye. He could feel blood as the Doctor brought the sword away and looked at his handiwork.
"You're weeping. We win. That was the deal."
Rose looked over as uniformed people filled the door from the foyer. They were armed with guns, and commanded all the actors into the centre of the room. The Doctor threw the sword away as they appeared, swung himself back onto the stage and came over to Rose where she was leaning against the TARDIS doors.
"Rose, meet the Watch. The thespian version of the police."
She smiled weakly at him as a few of the public appeared – those innocents who had unknowingly worked on something sinister. Marie was among them, and she ran to the stage when she saw the Doctor and Rose.
"Oh, Rose, Doctor! I was watching, I saw – I can't believe I helped! I'm so sorry!" She was now up on the stage, and put a hand to her mouth as she saw Rose up close. "Oh, Rose – you're alright! Thank Shakespeare."
"Well, I will be. I've got a Doctor to help me." She smiled up at him, as he smiled back. Love was in his eyes, clear as day.
An officer of the Watch had approached. "Excuse me, Sir. Is the Lady all right? The reports said she was stabbed."
The Doctor moved slightly so the officer could see the bandage. "She'll be alright. I've taken care of it."
"Yes, Sir. Is this Lady a cult member?" He was indicating Marie.
"No, but I can help. I worked on the costumes for this play." Marie got down as she spoke, turning back. "I suppose you'll leave, then. It was nice to meet the two of you. Good luck with whatever you do. Take care of yourselves." She gave a brief wave before starting to point out people to the officer.
The head officer of the Watch was looking in their direction, coming over to them on the stage. The Doctor went to meet him, kneeling on the front of the stage. Rose couldn't hear what he was saying – she was so tired, and wanted to sleep. She watched as they both nodded, and the Doctor pointed towards the statue, before clapping the officer on the arm and standing.
"What did you say?" she asked him softly.
"Oh, just told him about things. Us, the 'Duke' and Xander. They've been looking for the cult after a few of the vanishings and seemingly unrelated situations and accidents that they found links to. They don't need us now – oh, the officer said he was sorry about what had happened and we were fortunate nothing else happened. We can go, if you want."
"Yeah. I think I've had enough theatre for now." She stood, leaning on the TARDIS as the Doctor unlocked the doors and went in. She closed them behind her, closing her eyes as she rested her head against the wood.
She turned as she heard his footsteps behind her. He put an arm around her and guided her to the pilot's seat. There was silence as they sat next to one another, before the Doctor muttered, as if to himself but meant for her, "Thanks for clearing the poison from that bottle."
"It was an accident. You could've drunk it…" she trailed off, trying not to think about what might have happened. It had been accident, coincidence, fate even – she hadn't even known the bottle's purpose.
"You still did it."
She murmured in a positive response, leaning against him; into his chest, trying not to hit or strain her wound in any way. His hand came up and rested against her head, softly stroking her hair. "You tired?"
"Yeah, a bit."
"You've over exerted yourself. Come on," he said, as he pulled her up. He put an arm around her and guided her back through the TARDIS and back to the infirmary, where she climbed onto the bed she had woken in and lay back.
The Doctor stood next to her, holding one of her hands as she looked up at him sleepily. "We'll go to Haven 6.4. Its beautiful there, peaceful and serene. There won't be a conspiracy or a war or anything, and I mean it. We're going there so you can heal. If I take you to Jackie like this, she'll kill me. Let's avoid her until you're better."
His words were beginning to mix into each other as Rose felt herself falling asleep. She felt him kiss her forehead, then heard leave, saying, "We'll be there when you wake."
The Doctor paused, watching from the doorway as her eyes closed. It had been close, too close. She had almost died (but then again, how much had that happened?) but still, there she was, complete recovery in the direct future. She would be fine; this world would become a memory, and anecdote. And besides, they had found something more important anyway. Something that had always been there. He'd never think of Romeo and Juliet in the same way again.
He smiled to himself, walking back toward the console room, setting the coordinates for Haven and letting his beautiful ship taken them away.
So that is it. I hope I covered everything. Thank you for reading, coming with me on this journey and seeing the show. I'm working on another (hopefully) about 10, Rose and the Celestial Toymaker (Old school villain who tries to kill people in games. His world can be destroyed, but he can't. He was in a First Doctor serial ages ago. Thought I might play with that). Keep an eye out.
Oh, and if anyone is a Kiwi Whovian, do tell. I don't think there are enough of us here.
Thank you, once again!