Wow, it's been a while. I'm dreadfully sorry, guys. You have Brona19 to thank for the updates, though, because… well, because A. he gave me EPIC INSPIRATION and B. he sent me a picture of the Eye of Sauron when he learned how I had been neglecting this. …So Yeah.
SIAPNIAN: …Hi! I changed the title. You may have noticed this. Oh, and you'll notice a surfeit of unreferenced pronouns in Rose's bits. This is intentional, I promise. And... if this sounds weird, I'm sorry. I apparently get out of practice if I don't update at least once a week. D:
Non-Warning: Betaed by Brona19.
The Doctor attempted to eye the unconscious woman before him with equanimity—a task which ultimately proved to be fruitless. Instead, he opted to pretend that he was eyeing her with equanimity. Lying was much better than actually trying to sift through the tangle of rapidfire emotions patiently trying to hijack his mind.
"Care to tell me why you're locking her in the zero room?" Jack interjected. Jack, right. He was still here, wasn't he?
"Free of external influence," he said. "I'm keeping her from feeding off of the temporal radiation in the rest of the TARDIS."
Sensing the man's confusion, the Time Lord continued. "She's not just behaving like a Dalek. She is one, in every way that matters. Obviously, I'd need time to figure out exactly how much of her DNA has changed, but…" He trailed off for a moment. "The Daleks would never accept her as more than a… a… a servant unless she really was one of them."
"That doesn't make sense," the walking anomaly beside him objected. "I know Rose. She's about as human as a person can get."
"Not anymore." The Doctor inhaled. "Come on. I don't want to be in her way when she finds out what's happened."
The world swam into existence somewhere in front of her eyelids, and she groaned. She didn't know what kind of concoction the Time Lord had assaulted her with, but the aftereffects were… unpleasant. Liquid fire pooled around her brain, behind her eyes, down her neck, throbbing in rapid waves of pain.
She bit back a whimper and forced herself to focus on the situation at hand. A quick mental inspection proved that she was unharmed; her hands still throbbed slightly, but she blamed her earlier tantrums for that. She was much better now; she would not injure herself again. The Doctor had also provided her with clothes, for which she was grudgingly glad. She felt naked enough just not having her shell to protect her; if he had left her in her previous state of undress…
…if he had left her in her previous state of undress, at least he wouldn't have touched her at all. She forced herself to dwell on that. Knowing the Doctor, he was going to do his best to persuade her out of being a Dalek. Now, more than ever, she had to resist the lingering vestiges of humanity that still clung to her body.
So, she thought. Where had the great Doctor decided to shove her this time?
Finally opening her eyes and pushing herself into a sitting position, she examined her surroundings. The room looked much the same as most others in the ship, the bronze walls with their oddly organic look, light seeming to come from the ship itself rather than any visible outlet. The grating acting as the floor was the same, but the Doctor had seen fit to put a mattress in the corner, and it was that object on which she currently sat. Past that, it was a rather unsurprising bit of TARDIS architecture. Judging by the size and shape of it, though—and, most particularly, the distinct lack of the slightest spatiotemporal ripple—he'd locked her in the Zero Room.
He'd locked her in the Zero Room. It wasn't that it was the most effective prison; there were literally thousands of other places in his maze of a ship that would work just as well. Oh, no. It wasn't about keeping her in one place. It was about keeping her isolated. Keeping her away from the radiation that fuelled her.
The Doctor was starving her.
Suddenly furious, she hooked her fingers into the grating beyond the edge of the mattress and glared at the door.
Rose's mood had, evidently, not improved when the Doctor next came to see her. At least she wasn't being violent about it this time, he supposed, although that was probably because she didn't have any kind of weapon this time. She couldn't even physically overpower him when she was at the peak of her health. Emaciated and atrophied as she was—and oh, how painful it had been to see her like that—she didn't stand a chance of even hurting him. Instead of attacking him, then, she just sat there, curled into herself, and stared at him.
"Hello," he said.
"You will kill me," she said conversationally.
Not the slightest emotion flickered over Rose's face—an impressive change from how she had been earlier. "You removed me from—"
"Not all of it," the Doctor replied softly.
Daleks were clever. Rose was cleverer. She knew what he was implying, and tensed. Her eyes narrowed, hardened, cold, sunken slits. "Any Dalek would rather die than accept a touch from you."
"True," he agreed, beginning to pace. "But you aren't really a Dalek, Rose." Purposefully calling her by her name, purposefully trying to remove her from her mutation-induced delusions…
Really, he wasn't even hurting her by the isolation. Dalek bodies, such as they were, were sustained by their shells; while they did have an inherent sensitivity to and minor need for radiation, it primarily was a source of power for their armour and, through that, their physical forms. Rose, still biologically retaining most of her humanity, still needed food to survive. Her shell, while it kept the inevitable starvation away, just wasn't quite compatible.
Thus her current state.
The Doctor consciously turned his thoughts away from that visualisation and instead decided to dwell on others. She couldn't have been terribly important to his arch-nemeses (one of many, he thought grimly), or they would have found a more efficient way to keep her alive. At the very least, they would have told her of her weakness…
No, her state had been a temporary advantage to them. They knew very well that the Time Lord would not allow his beloved companion to come to harm if he could help it. Her mission was simply to go in and kill him, or at least keep him distracted while the Daleks formulated an attack.
The Doctor fought down another wave of fresh anger at the species. That they viewed life so lightly…
"I am a Dalek," Rose snapped, interrupting his train of thought. "I am just as much a Dalek as any other. And when they find you—"
Her voice was changing, turning from the clipped tones of her emulated species to the more familiar accents of the Rose he knew. This pleased him; even so, he cut her short. "They're not coming," he told her. "You know they wouldn't. Risk who knows how many of themselves to save the life of a human hiding inside a lump of metal?"
Rose bristled. Perhaps making her angry wasn't the best way of getting her to give in, but there was a kind of desperation lighting behind her eyes now. Maybe, he thought. Maybe this would be easier than he thought.
"Then I will die," she decided.
"I won't let you."
"You have no choice."
The Doctor started retreating back towards the door. "I will reverse the process, Rose," he said, and exited before he could hear her reply.
…Yay update! :D Distressingly short—sorry about that—but I'm still trying to get back into the "Oh, yeah, I'm writing this" mode… So Yeah.