Rose Tyler was having the worst damned day in a very long time. Considering that most of her days ended with her exhausted, or covered in muck, or shouting incoherently, or locked up, or running for her life, while the natives hurled rocks, spears, bullets, or explosives (depending on their time frame and natural proclivities) at their retreating backs, this was truly saying something. Even those days where she ended up doing all of the above (except maybe the shouting, she usually swore quietly instead while running) didn't compare to this day.
First of all, their destination hadn't quite worked out right. They were supposed to have arrived on Desteria during the height of summer and arrived on a beach. Rose, expecting a little deviation (it was the TARDIS after all, and her sense of humor was warped, to say the least) had dressed in clothes fit for autumn and put her swim things and her running shoes (forget towels - always know where your trainers are) into a bag. She wore something nice - dark jeans and a pale pink shirt with a neat little sweater over it and dainty shoes with a low heel. When the Doctor looked askance at her attire, she graciously informed him he was taking her out before they retired to the beach.
He had grinned like the brilliant idiot he was and grandly flung opened the doors. It looked positively gorgeous, a warm bright sun glinting down, not on a beach (of course) but on a shining bright city at the edge of a huge mountain lake. Rose had shrugged off his befuddled expression and took his hand to lead him on.
Everything went straight downhill from there. Considering they were on the side of a small mountain range, there was an awful lot of hill for it to go down. Over lunch, she and the Doctor had flirted with their usual casual nonchalance but for some reason it had effected her rather more strongly than usual and she ended up leaving the restaurant hot and extremely bothered. In a desperate bid to get away from him, she suggested he go find some information on what there was to do around here while she went and visited the shops off the little square in which they'd found their restaurant.
For the first time in the entire history of eternity, the Doctor had wanted to shop. Not only did he want to shop, but he wanted to shop with her. And she was thinking terrible, horrible, not platonic thoughts about him while he trustingly held her hand and she had to get away, had to, or risk throwing him up against a wall and snogging him senseless. While he stared at her in wild eyed bemusement, no doubt, and calculated how long it would take to set the coordinates for the Powell estate.
A clever escape plan came in the form of a tiny, brightly colored little pink shop set on the corner. In the window, there was a gaudy display of frilly purple knickers. Rose had thrown herself into supposedly spontaneous raptures of delight and demanded they go in at once. His high and mighty Time Lordy-ness had quailed visibly and turned the exact same shade of pink as the shop and blustered like his former incarnation and declared that he couldn't go in, as someone obviously had to find out what there was to do around here. Then he had wandered off, looking for all the world like a cat that chewed through a power cord and muttering to himself something about 'heliotrope'. Whatever that was.
The next thing wrong had happened immediately. Rose went into the shop because she couldn't see any way past it with him watching her nervously out the corner of his eye as he walked off. She was promptly seized by a chatty saleswoman who reminded her alarmingly of her mum, even to the bleached blonde hair and strictly hands-on approach to the business. She dragged Rose over to a sales display and, since everything was going wrong, there were no knickers on it.
There were, however, solutions to her current predicament. Unfortunately, they weren't in any way, shape, or form solutions she wanted to think about. And they came in every way, shape and form, too, apparently, designed to help her... She had blushed vividly and tried to escape by claiming she just came in to look at the purple knickers.
So she was treated to a ten minute presentation of why she didn't want frilly knickers, she wanted one of these... toys. Well... maybe...
Rose had firmly stamped on that and held her ground. But that one did... no.
So then, she got fifteen minutes on how to use frilly purple knickers to ensnare her man. Rose, knowing that, A) her man wasn't a man at all, per say, and that B) he would probably just look right past her in the frilly purple knickers (or at best insist that they were no good for running away from nasty, scary things), resigned herself to pretending that she had a Slitheen's chance in a pickle factory of getting him past the flirting stage. She didn't, in fact. Heck, the hypothetical Slitheen in the speculated factory had a better chance of getting him not to notice it than she did of getting him to notice her, even if she left the frilly purple knickers - and everything else - behind.
After spending almost another ten minutes trying to dislodge the overly helpful Jackie Tyler clone, Rose had realized she'd never escape if she didn't buy something. So... well, why not?
She had her package wrapped for privacy, tucked it into her swim bag and went to find the Doctor.
It was raining when she came out.
Actually, "raining" didn't quite cover what it was doing. The sky had fallen open and all the water on the planet was streaming in like the Thames down onto her head. She shrieked in indignation and made for the nearest awning where she stood huddled and freezing amidst a crowd of aliens who mostly resembled human beings.
There, she was chatted up by no less than six bedraggled and unattractive aliens. The last was so obnoxious, she began to wonder if she could pretend her sunscreen was pepper spray. Then she began to wonder if her sunscreen would work as well as pepper spray. Then, she began to figure she'd need neither sunscreen nor pepper spray, because she was going to Jackie Tyler the cocky little bastard into oblivion if he didn't just bugger off. So she told him so.
Then, she gave up and strode out into the seething downpour.
Half-way across the square, her heel had snapped off, knocking her flying into a suspiciously perfectly oval shaped mud puddle. Her clothes were now filthy as well as sopping wet. Combined, it all made her suspect that she'd really irritated some trickster god this morning, which was odd because the only trickster god she knew personally hadn't seemed particularly annoyed per say when he had wandered off in a cloud of baffled pin stripes.
And remained missing. Ok, so, in summary, not a good day at all.
Ten minutes later, she finally found him. He was being dragged across the square, not in handcuffs or chains or whatever he was usually dragged out in (laser binders, manacles, shackles, ropes, straight jacket, the list went on and on) but with what looked for all the world like those ten foot pole thingees they used on nature shows to touch things that... she got the picture. She flopped over to try and rescue him or plead for his release (her shoe was still broken, which didn't seem possible when it was only an inch high, but there you go) but he shook his head vigorously at her. Still, she made her way into the crowd watching him being hauled off. He bumped up against her and she made to grab for him, but he seemed to push her away. The crowds closed in despite the rain, and he was gone.
Rose stood in the middle of the square and swore quietly, every word she had ever picked up from Jack, from visiting other planets, and even a few of the Doctor's musical language. The TARDIS wouldn't translate any of them for anybody, so it didn't matter, although she did wonder what exactly she was saying. Or she would have done, if there was time for any of this.
The water cut off abruptly as though someone had thrown a switch. It was possible, after all, she supposed, if there were planets where you could get your face styled and planets where the moon really was made of something the inhabitants ate like cheese...
God, he was bloody contagious. Middle of crisis, panic situation, all the chips down, and here she was, commentating (if only in her head) on the private lives of the natives of Balhoon III. Fantastic.
That reminded her. She was apparently not being allowed to do what she would do in this situation, which of course was hold his hand, stick with him, and try to work out how to get them both out of this. That was out.
What would the Doctor do, then? Well, she'd already handled part of that with her aimless commentary and trying to get to him. She couldn't threaten anyone yet, because she didn't know who or what to threaten. And it was a trifle difficult to blow things up without explosives or the idea of what to blow up.
So the Doctor's right out. But what about her previous Doctor? Yes, blow things up, yes threaten people, but no endless yammering... assets. Check her assets. That was it.
She reached down to check her bag and discovered that, along with tossing perverted pick up lines at her that made her want to collapse his face, the annoying bloke from the awning had switched her bag. She hoped ferociously that someone made him wear her polka dot bikini.
No towel, no sunscreen, no swim clothes. She checked her pockets and found, to her surprise, that her unwanted copy of "10 Things You Should Know About Sex With Aliens" (from the pink shop) had been joined by the psychic paper, the sonic screwdriver, and his key to the TARDIS. He must have slipped them into her pocket when he bumped into her. Clever Doctor, as always.
She pulled out the psychic paper, but it was blank. She stared at it, willing it to show her something, and the lyrics to "I'm a Little Teapot" wobbled into view in an atrocious hand writing, but faded. So no hope of instructions. OK.
Right. So, what would witty Jack do?
Well, kissing things and killing things wasn't going to do her good, nor was telling stories that always ended up with her naked. She only had two of those, anyway, and they weren't very good.
Fine. She grasped frantically at straws. What would Madame du Pompadour do? Ha. Snogging things, again. Definitely out. What would... what would... what would... um... well...
Superman was no good, honestly Rose, focus.
What would Mickey do? her brain supplied, even though it was painful to think of him, now that he was gone forever into that parallel world. Mickey who'd been such a coward and so scared for so long, and had eventually managed to do such incredible things as bomb Downing Street with her in the building, try to take on Cybermen, and finally pull a scene with her almost exactly like something out of Casablanca. It was beautiful, brilliant, wonderful. Funny, clever, and now brave Mickey.
She strode off across the square - or tried to, but her broken heel wouldn't let her. Still, she held her head up and flopped along and muttered "Somebody's got to be the Tin Dog."
As she reached the side walk and started to turn off toward the library they'd found on their way into town, someone walked past her and wolf-whistled. Funny how rude things were practically culture universal. She looked down at her sodden clothes and realized why, though, very quickly.
The last of the rain had taken off the mud in most places, but her sweater was hanging down from the collar and framing her chest rather too well. Also, her shirt had gone completely translucent and the outline of her bra showed quite clearly.
Fine, what Mickey would do could wait. She decided then and there to do what Jackie Tyler would do and stumbled off to change clothes, glaring furiously at anyone who dared to turn their heads in her general direction.
When she reached the place where they had left the TARDIS, she discovered that Sod's Law had finally decided to finish her off. The TARDIS was gone.
Checking her pockets, she found she mercifully still had the Doctor's credit card, hallelujah for a small favor. The first three shops she entered, though, only carried men's clothes. The next didn't take credit. The next one had better be right or she was going to do a snatch and run and damn the consequences.
It turned out to be an intergalactic version of a department store. Her luck must be improving. The salesman who approached her, however, took one look at her, flushed with vivid embarrassment, and chivvied her back out again.
"And I am never shopping in this place again!" she shrieked out as her feet landed back on the sidewalk. She grinned with a furious sort of humor, and knew that the TARDIS translator had just rendered that in every language spoken around here. With any luck it would do some damage.
She tipped her useless shoes into a bin, and strode back to the men's store. Anyone looking at her would have thought she'd borrowed her companion's mad eyes to glare out at the world. A dignified old man walked over to her, eying her with contempt and no little worry. "Now see here, miss," he began.
"I need clothes and I need them fast. I am not impressed with this planet, nor am I impressed with the lack of proper service I keep encountering in the establishments of this world. I can pay, as you can see. You will never get anywhere in this business if you do not provide for customers. Appearance isn't everything, you know. People do have emergencies, me more than most, I admit. This is one such emergency and you are going to help me, whether you like it or not." She knew she sounded just like him at the moment and didn't care. She forced the Doctor's card into the man's hand. "Go on, check the balance, I dare you."
He sighed and nervously scanned the card with some laser looking device. It wouldn't have looked out of place back at the shop she used to work in before the Doctor blew it up.
The alien's eyes widened in alarm. "My apologies, Miss," he said. "I'll do everything I can to reassure you that our store will be quite satisfactory to assist in your... emergency."
"Good," she said and looked around. Her eyes lit on a small suit on a manikin near the door. Oh, that was just too much. Brilliant. "I'll have that one," she said, and smirked.
She found a pair of boy's loafers fit her fine and the suit was altered to her correct sizes in minutes by the clever application of their very interesting technology. Wouldn't her mum just adore that?
She binned her shirt and her sweater - they were a lost cause. However, the jeans she folded neatly into a bag the salesman supplied her.
"The trousers may be a bit long," the salesman told her, "but they'll..."
"Ride up with wear," she finished. "Yeah, saw that show myself."
She cheekily plucked a sharp blue tie from a nearby rack and did it up with only two tries. How long had it been since she had to put a tie on herself? Dressing for a grade school play, maybe?
Thanking the salesman most politely now that she had gotten her way, Rose strode out the door in a whirl of ecstatic pin stripes.
Desteria was part of the Second Great and Bountiful Human Empire, which the Doctor told her was now the First Great and Bountiful blah blah blah, because of the stupid Jagrafess and some Daleks with sensitive hearing. She wondered if he had guessed how full of it she knew he was with that line. He even defended it now, more than a year later, claiming he had had a terrible singing voice in his previous body. Right. Whatever. She'd actually heard him sing a few times - he sounded fine, even that time he and Jack were drunk. Although she did wonder if he realized he always sang in the shower.
Anyway, since it was Human - sorta - there was a very good chance of getting hold of a computer she could at least vaguely comprehend. Unless her luck was going to hold to its earlier god-awful standards, she should be capable of finding out where he was being held and why without having to resort to threatening the thing with the sonic screwdriver. Not that it was a credible threat, but what did computers know, anyway. They saw pin striped suit and screwdriver and curled up to plead for mercy. Still. She hoped.
Her luck was definitely improving. She found the library nearly empty and the computers easy to use, almost identical to Mickey's back home, even though the one she picked was a hundred times faster. They even had an internet of sorts. She decided to check what government problems were arising first.
Fisheries control. Forest restoration. Agricultural reports. Weather control. Tourist advisories.
Nothing about government problems. Or they weren't admitting they had a problem. She searched for people who thought otherwise.
The notices she found looked like blogs from America. This politician was spending too much, that one was on the wrong committees. This one had too much media influence, this one was past it, and that one was just a bad joke.
Nothing serious, then, just people whinging, as people will do.
So it probably wasn't the government. She kept searching and searching and searching.
Six hours later, she still had no idea who had taken the Doctor and why. Desteria was a banal little place in all aspects. There were no alien invaders, there were no rebellions, there were no old grudges, wars, or murderous power-mongering families. She was getting insanely desperate, not to mention worried.
She plugged in the words Time and Lord and got three hundred places that sold watches and a book that had been imported from old Earth for sale on an intergalactic version of e-Bay. She also got quite a bit on making better use of her time, which she agreed with, heartily, since she really wanted to be rescuing the Doctor right now, not learning how to make her solabread and nar-eggs in half the time, thanks.
They were like a bunch of aging hippies, all concerned with their environment and the love of every living creature.
She plugged in Gallifrey, just for the sake of argument.
It directed her to a list of endangered species, sentient and non-sentient alike. Gallifreyans were right at the top of one of the "believed to be extinct" lists.
These people were very, very much into endangered species, apparently, because the dodo was on one of their lists as well. It described how clone stock and careful breeding programs had been used to reintroduce the dodo to the galactic population.
She read on and discovered, to her flabbergasted amazement, that this had also been tried on pure-blood humans. They told all about the small handful of pure blood humans who had been found on a half-dead worldlet in the next constellation over but one, the pairings that had been tried, the medicines that had been administered, the careful programs of diet, exercise, and entertainment, the clever little success stories, complete with pictures of baby Sean Michael and adorable little Tess. They went into loving, intricate detail, including how the pure humans would be placed in the best copy of their natural habitat on a planet to be called New Ravalox. Her eyes widened.
They wouldn't dare.
She clicked on a newly updated link.