Rating: K-ish, T-ish. Pretty inoffensive.
Genre: Quiet introspective friendship fic.
Continuity: 9th doctor, right before The Empty Child.
Prerequisites: 9th Doctor, up to about the first 3 minutes of The Empty Child.
Summary: As quiet a time as there ever is, and some fun with everyone's favorite alien tool.
Disclaimer: The BBC owns Doctor Who, and the sonic screwdriver was invented by Victor Pemberton. The opinions expressed herein are the properties of the characters and not of Emmeline Pankhurst. Point screwdriver away from face. Replace batteries before use. Questions, comments and chords can be left in replies or directed to magistrata(at)gmail(dot)com. Thank you for reading!
Rose woke up.
She'd gotten used to not hitting the alarm--not even looking for the alarm--by now. She'd thought about asking for a clock, but one that reset itself every time they landed would be a headache and one that didn't would be useless. She had a feeling the Doctor didn't care for clocks, anyway.
She stepped out of bed and made her way across the room by touch. This room rocked, slowly, rising and falling as is she was on a boat. It had taken a bit to get used to; none of the other rooms did. She pushed one of the globe lights, bringing them all on low, and shuffled through her closet. There was a shirt toward the back she'd bought before her shop blew up and had never worn; it was as good as any.
She was getting to the point where she didn't have to think through the directions back to the bridge any more. Pass two doors and a hall, take a left, take the first right, second left, pass three more doors and a staircase and there's the main hall. For a while she'd had it written down on an index card, because the first time she'd tried to get out she'd taken the third right instead of the second and wound up on the cricket pitch. It had taken the Doctor three hours to find her.
As far as she could tell, the Doctor didn't sleep. She usually found him on the Bridge, knee-deep or deeper in an access hatch or wall panel, performing maintenance and alternately griping, cajoling and crooning to the machines. The first few times, she'd honestly felt like she was intruding.
This time, though, she stepped onto the Bridge to see him sitting with his back to the control console, sonic screwdriver raised in front of his face, staring at it as if they were both lightyears away.
"Doctor? Are you all right?"
He looked over, half-surprised but never startled. "Rose! Sleep well?"
"Well as ever," she said, hanging back near the door. "Is there something wrong?"
"Course not," he said, patting the floor grille next to him. "Fine and dandy."
"But what are you doing?"
He gestured toward nothing with his screwdriver hand. "What do you think I'm doing?"
Rose approached, drawing one hand along the nearest pillar. "Well... you're sitting on the bridge of the TARDIS... at some ungodly time of night... staring at your sonic screwdriver."
"I give up," she said. "Unless you're fixing something invisible on the ceiling."
"You know what I like about this thing?" the Doctor asked.
Rose sat down beside him, looking at the glowing tip. "Opens doors, fixes computers, great conversation piece?"
He chuckled. She smiled, looking the screwdriver over.
"What do you like?"
"Sonic technology," he said. "You can make power with all sorts of things, you know. Atoms, waves. Words."
"Words?" Rose asked.
"Hm." The Doctor turned the screwdriver. "Emotion. Nothing more powerful than emotion. Words are an access to that--and those not the only things. The Time Lords perfected sonic technology--well, close as you can get, anyway." He smiled, and for a moment he was ages away. "Little things, like this."
"Quite like that one," Rose said.
He turned it on.
Rose looked at it. It was a soft blue speck in the TARDIS control room, alien but at home amid the golden lights. "Listen. You hear that?" He raised the screwdriver very carefully to eye height. "Setting 56. Low-level scan for triple-enfolded electrotemporal resonance. Turn it to 58 and the pulse pattern gets a bit shorter, and winds up about sixty hertz. Can you hear it?" He turned the setting up.
Rose listened as it wound from 56 to 58, but the trill sounded exactly the same as it always had. "I can't. I'm sorry."
"It's all right," he said, and adjusted the setting again. "You know, oddly, on this model it take you until setting 72c through 72j to actually manipulate screws. But!--you'll like this one." He adjusted something, and this time the sound did change--it became a steady, rounded hum, almost voicelike.
Rose watched it. The Doctor moved it in a slow circle, and the sound danced through notes as he did so.
Rose opened her mouth and exhaled. "That's beautiful," she said. "What setting is that?"
"Isn't one," the Doctor said, handing it over. "Plain old background. Like when your computer's on but nothing's running. No purpose. No function. Just that."
"It sounds like singing," Rose said.
The Doctor nodded. "Everything does. Well, if you know what to listen for. I could park us beside in the Kraffyd Nebula and sent the scanners relaying through the engines and the TARDIS would sing like you wouldn't believe. In fact--" He hopped up, darting to the console and flicking a switch.
Half the lights turned off, and a low note throbbed from the central pylon. Rose got to her feet, and the TARDIS shook.
"Uh-oh," the Doctor said.
"What? What is it? What's that?" She grabbed the nearest thing--the console's edge. "This isn't singing--"
"No, this isn't me. I'm not doing this," the Doctor said. "The TARDIS is picking something up. It's an emergency."
The floor bucked, sending her reeling two steps back. The Doctor looked at her, flashed her one of the grins that always made her wonder where and in how many pieces she'd be in five seconds, and turned his attention back to the console.