The Darkness within

Chapter 11

A low hum resonated up through the floor, making the cool metal grating rattle slightly. The room juddered and the time rotor roared to a stop, its green cylinder sliding softly to the base of the column.

There was a moment of anticipation as all systems ground to a halt, and, finally, silence.

The Doctor flicked a switch with theatrical grace and turned to an expectant Rose.

"Well," she asked excitedly. "Where are we?"

He smiled and gestured to the door, his palm lifted in offering.

Rose all but danced to the spot. "Seriously, where are we?"

He grinned, remaining silent.

The Doctor had been annoyingly tight-lipped on their first destination merely waking her from sleep to inform her that they were leaving and, no, Jack wasn't going with them, they'd be back to visit, was she going to lie in bed all da—what iwas/i she wearing?

Minutes later a red-faced Rose entered the console room to find her manic tour guide already in hyper-motion around the TARDIS console, flicking switches and twiddling levers.

It gave her pause to see the restrained energy in his body. The Doctor he had been when she lost him had always seemed to exude energy—from his lithe figure to his mad hair he seemed to ibe/i energy in motion, a streak of lightning unable to be harnessed by mere mortals.

Sometimes it had made her long for the first man she had known who wore that jacket like armour to fend the world off. Now he had repressed energy. His bulky body always appeared to be too small to hold in all the spark and drive that lay within. A few manic moments allowed her to see the passion that lay hidden but most of the time it was subdued under the buzz cut and layers of clothes.

Watching as her Doctor moved with that same innate grace and smothered sensuality made her bite her lip in pure feminine appreciation.

Yep, she thought, he still had it.

Just at that moment of unbridled lust he looked up and caught it. A shy smile fluttered across his lips followed by a swift expression of sadness, too deep for her to ignore but too painful for her to talk about.

She merely did what she knew he derived comfort from; she walked over and held his hand.

The Doctor squeezed her hand, glad that she wasn't asking any more questions about their abrupt departure. The fact was that he had seen that moment of silent conversation between Rose and Jack and the last thing he wanted was to have Rose asking Jack why he, the Doctor, was so different to what she remembered. Jack would eventually put two and two together and regale Rose with stories about Time Lords and their magnificent mental prowess and psychic manipulations.

No, better to vanish and try to get Rose to forget about the dashing Captain. It wouldn't work for long, he knew, but maybe he could stave it off for long enough that this version would be cemented in Rose's heart.

If only Rose had looked at his old body with the same amount of love and lust that she looked at this pretty boy model. It had been enough to break one of his hearts when he'd remembered which face he wore.

At least he had her here and willing to accept his less than stellar explanations. For now.

As the TARDIS materialised he reluctantly let go of her hand and nodded to the central ramp.

Rose bit her lip and stared at the door wondering what adventure lay before her out there. With a smile she stepped over to the blue door and laid her hands on it, feeling the susurration of the TARDIS as she whispered;

GO ON, IT'S OKAY.

Taking a deep breath Rose pushed the door open and stepped out onto a new world and a new life.

A soft breeze was the first thing to greet Rose; a sweet smelling wind that whipped her hair around her cheeks and caressed her face.

She closed her eyes and inhaled that alien scent, revelling in that feeling that told her she was no longer on Earth—a feeling she had missed.

She felt the Doctor stand at her back, hands reaching up to stroke her shoulders like he couldn't wait to touch her.

"Oi," he reprimanded softly. "Didn't bring you 'ere to walk around with your eyes closed, bit dangerous that."

"Savouring it," she replied impishly, eyes still closed and he moved closer, wrapping his arms around her.

He bent so his mouth was level with her ear. "There'll be plenty more of this, Rose. I promise."

Rose could feel the depths of his vow and opened her eyes.

And screamed.

The Doctor's laugh echoed in her ear as she jumped back, almost trying to bury herself in his embrace.

"Its okay, Rose," he chortled.

"Okay?" she choked, "okay? How is this okay?"

Rose looked up and up, and up.

She craned her neck to look past the big wooden block and past soft pink trunks prickled with black spikes, a canopy of brown canvas and up into the far distant sky where green eyes the size of doors peered down at her.

"He almost stood on me!" she squeaked, unable to take her eyes off the giant who was regarding her with interest.

"Nah!" dismissed the Doctor. "He knew we were here."

"How?" Rose pointed to the sheer size of the giant. "We're like ants."

"And Lurcins have amazing eyesight; he can probably see your roots."

Rose scowled as the Doctor stepped around her and waved up at the huge man. "Hello!"

Like a mountain crumbling, the form bent and knelt down. The earth shook and trembled as he got down and leaned closer to the Doctor.

The giant poked a finger towards the tiny form in front of him, that finger being almost as big as the Doctor himself.

"Small!" the giant spoke and it was thunder rolling around the world until it reverberated into Rose's ears, translated by the TARDIS.

"Yup!" the Doctor rocked back on his heels. "Although I do go by Doctor, if it's all the same to you. Just visiting your planet, we are. This is Rose."

Rose waggled her fingers, feeling bemused as the man blinked at her, the motion of his lashes sending a fan of air towards her, buffering her back.

"Just popped in to see the Lurcinopolis…or is it Lurchin-city, Lurchinville, Lurchinconglomeration?"

"Funny little man!" the giant rumbled and Rose found her lips curving at his diagnosis.

"He has a point," she pointed out. "Way you go on he probably doesn't understand you."

He grimaced. "What do you want me to say? Take me to your leader?"

"Gwarf!" the giant beamed and held out his house sized hand.

Rose poked her tongue out as she stepped onto the proffered appendage. "That seemed to work."

The Doctor merely rolled his eyes and followed her onto the hand. "Here I was trying to educate you against the stereotypical; me human, you alien mentality."

Rose looked away, a smile in her voice. "Lucky I didn't take you to the deep south."

Remembering their conversation—oh so long ago—in the sun chamber on Platform one, he smirked.

"That's our next trip. You and me in Mardis Gras."

Rose gave him her most sceptical look as the giant lurched to his feet and started to lumber away. "iYou/i dancing at Mardis Gras? Yeah, then we'll meet John Wayne and Shakespeare."

He pointed at her. "Will Shakespeare was a notorious flirt, Roe Tyler, you are going nowhere near him. Besides," he added, "We both know I…dance."

Rose flicked a glance at him but he was studiously ignoring her so she turned her attention back to their ride.

The fingers that held them curved up into a wall of flesh, stopping them from rolling around as the giant made his way to wherever he was taking them.

It had the scent of a journey, the promise of adventure and Rose relaxed back into the moment, staring at her Doctor trying to see into him to see the damage he'd caused with his rash actions.

"Can I ask you a question?"

"Yeah."

"How come you sounds like you're from the north…again?"

He froze. "What?"

"The jacket, yeah, I get that and even the jeans which do look good," Rose twinkled at him before frowning. "But after you regenerated you sounded almost Londonish, now you've almost gone back to how you sounded before. Before you changed."

He swallowed hard. He hadn't noticed that he was slipping back into his northern accent. It was just the one he was most comfortable with and the one that fitted ihim/i. Trust Rose to pick up on that.

He worried his lower lip and shoved his hands into his pockets, looking away.

"Why'd ya ask?"

Rose shook her head tentatively. "You just seem a bit more like old you."

He ducked his head. "Is that bad?"

"Never said it was."

"Never said it wasn't," he shot back defensively. "You forget that I'm an alien, Rose. I'm still the same man I was…before. Even though I look different."

And she'd never know exactly how true that was.

"I get that," Rose added quickly, "I do, yeah. It's just more obvious."

He would have changed the subject then and there, unwilling to touch on something so close to home except her next words stopped him dead.

"I like it," she said quietly and he half-spun, mouth agape at her words.

He stared at her wide-eyed for a long moment.

Had she really just said that she liked the fact that he was like…well, himself?

She'd been shooting him those looks and admitted that she loved him but he'd thought she'd mean this him, him version ten. To think…to have the hope that she meant ihim/iNot just the body but the man; it was astounding, unthinkable and very, very welcome.

Perhaps it didn't matter so much which arms reached for Rose, if she'd accept them it would mean the world, the universe to him.

He opened his mouth to speak just as the giant unfurled his fingers.

Rose squinted against the bright light and held her hand up to shield her eyes from the sudden influx of sunlight.

When her vision cleared she stepped closer to the edge of the giant hand and stared out over the vast palm to the landscape beyond.

Out past the ragged fingernails and cuticles the size of her head, lay a whole city built on the gargantuan lines of the Goliath.

From their vantage point Rose could see the pay out of the town, spreading east and west over a vast scale. A large white town hall complete with golden bell and edged in semi-precious jewels was at one end of the village with the rows of houses in semi-circles set at angels making the aerial view one of a beautiful blossom opening her petals.

No two houses were alike either in form or colour but they merged so well that it almost impossible to tell. It was architects dream and an interior designer's nightmare. Chartreuse lay next to aqua, Edwardian Manor next to Sixties Retro; it was Monet and Mozart all in one and it was dazzling.

Turrets in silver and gold brick climbed into the sky like gems reaching for the sun to make them sparkle. Chimneys puffed out smoke of so many colours that Rose wondered what was cooking.

Two wheeled bicycles with behemoths cycling to and fro over the cobbled city streets almost ran down children the size of tower blocks. Houses made of glistening silver and dark webbing soared up through the atmosphere; a city of elegance and colour, taller than mountains and more beautiful than the first snow fall.

It was breathtaking.

"Woah," she breathed, impressed beyond belief.

"You should see it at night," the Doctor said with some satisfaction over her reaction, "with the stars out the whole place shimmers like moonlight."

"It's…amazing."

He shook his head. "It's fantastic."

"Gwarf!" the giant nodded and pointed to the city.

"Yep, looks like a Gwarf to me." the Doctor paused. "And a Gwarf is?"

A shadow fell over them and Rose blinked. "Uh, Doctor, I think this might be Gwarf."

The Doctor looked up, and up into the dark grey eyes of possibly one of the biggest things he had ever seen.

"Ah, right."

As it so happened Gwarf was the name of the leader of the aptly named Lurchiopolis. Gwarf was also the biggest, ugliest and scariest giant that the Doctor had ever seen, partially because of the excessive nasal hair but mostly due to his preponderance for mud-tasting coffee.

"Good!" Gwarf grunted down at the tiny creatures that sat in his saucer.

"Uh, yeah," Rose nodded, fighting back the urge to choke. "Not bad."

"Yeah," the Doctor agreed. "I've always had a fondness for mud."

Rose elbowed him. "What?"

"You're being rude again!"

He blinked. "Am I?" She nodded knowingly and he shook his head. "I must get that from him."

"Him who?"

He really had to learn to keep his wits about him.

"No one," he hedged and placed his hands in his pockets. "So Gwarf—nice place—been here before. Back in the days of old...what's-is-face, uh big guy."

"That narrows it down," Rose muttered staring around at the gargantuan proportions of the place. She found Gwarf looking at her curiously and she forced herself to make conversation. "It really is a beautiful city, very glamorous."

At the word Gwarf frowned, obviously not understanding.

Rose bit her lip and looked to the Doctor for help.

"—or was it Dresca'p? Nah, he was the foreign Minister of Gessleet. Lovely man, big teeth. Tegan—ah, no. Uh, maybe it was—"

She rolled her eyes. "Like the sun, yeah, shiny and sparkly."

Gwarf nodded at that, suitably pleased with the comparison and Rose grinned at one of her more successful attempts at human/alien relations.

Far more successful than her meeting with the Ambassador from Fredonia back on Earth 2.0. But how was she supposed to know that sneezing was an offensive manoeuvre—she'd had a rotten cold. It was fun trying to explain that she hadn't meant to call the Ambassador's wife a hippo.

"Artan!" the Doctor exploded, slapping his knee, startling her back out of her reminiscing. "That was 'im. Artan, beefy feller, made good soup."

Rose faced him. "What are you going on about now?"

"The bloke I met before, Lurchin leader- Artan."

"Artan!" Gwarf gasped and they both stared up into his surprised face. "Big Artan?"

The Doctor shrugged. "Bigger than a breadbox."

"Doctor!" Rose warned, her elbow making its way into his ribcage.

"Ouch, dangerous you are!" he moaned and then nodded at Gwarf. "Yes Artan. Friend of mine."

"Great powerful Artan, made Polis."

"Yeah, Artan was originally going for the old straw and wood fix but I told him it was too 'three little pigs'. Clever bloke you know," he offered in an aside to Rose, "understood the plans right away."

Rose just shook her head. "You mean to tell me that you helped build Lurchy—Lurkin—Lychee… Rainbow City out there?"

He beamed. "Sort of, yeah. Hey, is the vanishing pond still here? Great architecture that. Got it from Leonardo, now there's a bloke that knows his scarlet from his crimson. Did tend to gets a bit tetchy with constructive criticism though. Smirking Lisa—not one of his best pieces."

Gwarf hadn't been able to follow the Doctor's long winded ramble—and neither, to be perfectly honest, had Rose—but the part that he did get had an affect on him.

"Gribbsey'ral!" Gwarf stated vehemently.

Rose blinked. "Huh?"

The Doctor shook his head quickly. "No. Not at all, just visitors."

"Was that English?"

"Gribbsey'ral!" insisted Gwarf and gave a low moan, causing six other Lurchins to lumber into the room.

Rose stepped back, suddenly remembering how most of her 'adventures' with the Doctor tended to end up—and it wasn't drinking coffee. "What's it mean, Doctor?"

He didn't say a word watching in growing alarm as Gwarf spoke rapidly in Olde Lurchin to the newcomers causing them to look wide-eyed at Rose and the Doctor.

Rose pushed his arm. "Doctor what does Gibbseyrail mean?"

"Fat turtle."

She clenched her jaw, dragging his attention back to her. "So they're calling us fat turtles?"

"Ah, no."

"Sooo?" Rose felt the oh-so familiar tendril of frustration at the Doctor's deliberate misunderstanding of her.

He remembered that look, and his jaw ached.

"Ok," he relented, "it means mini god."

There was a moment of silence. "What?"

"Mini Gods." He shrugged somewhat embarrassed. "Lurchins can be a bit superstitious."

"Folklore is he?" She said, bemused but annoyed.

"Legend," he sniffed. "They think we're his messengers. Mini gods."

"Well," Rose considered. "That's not too bad, yeah?"

He winced.

"Doctor?"

"Great people, the Lurchins. But they do believe in absorbtiosis."

"You made that up," she accused, planting her hands on her hips in mock indignation.

"Sort of, yeah," he grinned at her. "Basically they believe that they can take on certain abilities through digestion."

Rose thought about this for a second.

"Digestion?"

"Yep."

"Us?"

"Most probably."

"Right."

"You know, mentioning that I knew old Artan was possibly not a good idea," the Doctor mused.

"Ya think?" Rose's voice dripped with sarcasm.

There was a beat and the Doctor caught Rose's eye, holding out his hand. "Guess what?"

Rose beamed and readied her feet. "Run for your life?"

"Got it in one."

--

Hours later Rose picked leaves out of her hair as she and the Doctor sat next to the TARDIS overlooking the bright city. Darkness had rendered them almost invisible to the Lurchins and they had been able to stop hiding under mushrooms and head back for safety.

"You know," Rose broke the silence, "I think I'm kinda flattered being thought of as a mini appetiser."

"Eat a god, gain it's powers." The Doctor lay back on the grass and stared up into the sky. "Although what they'd get from you, I'm not sure. The ability to accessorise, probably. Still they're not the only civilisation that does it. It's the ultimate you-are-what-you-eat mentality. Gillian McKeith come to life—now isn't that scary!"

Rose wrinkled her nose, choosing to ignore his previous comment. "But eating what you worship?"

"Sorry, Miss Häagen-Dazs®."

"I don't worship Häagen-Dazs®!" she protested.

"I've heard the noises you make with Cookie Dough, Rose, you're fooling no one."

Rose leaned over and punched him.

"Oi!" He rubbed his arm with a mock-pout.

"You were right though," she admitted.

"Usually am," he said with some satisfaction. He paused. "About what?"

"The stars look beautiful over the city; it really is like a river of moonlight."

He said nothing and Rose turned to look at him.

But he wasn't looking at the city, he was looking at something else bathed in moonlight—Rose.

"What?" she smiled at the tender look in his eyes.

"You're a miracle, Rose Tyler." His voice was intense. "I never thought I'd get to be here with you."

Not this way. Not alive.

"Never say never," she replied.

The Doctor reached over and brushed a hair away from her face, his fingers lingering on her cheek, eyes thoughtful.

Rose held her breath as he moved his head, pressing a gentle kiss to her lips.

Rose had never thought that this would ever happen; never thought that he'd ever take this next step.

Never say never.

He pulled away, uncertain. "All right?"

Rose searched his eyes and swallowed. "Everything's going to change isn't it?"

"Yes." He didn't even pretend not to understand her.

She reached for his jacket and tugged him closer to her, smiling softly. "Fantastic."

Her answer was a gentle kiss under a sparkling sky.

--Epilogue--

Silence reigned in the small room; pure and unsullied—no outer interference or distant disturbance.

A figure lay still on the bed, heavy looking chains tying him down with all the appearance of permanence.

He was totally motionless, no signs of movement or life, not even the slight raising of a chest in breathing.

Nothing.

He was not dead, not alive; dormant.

Inside his body, however, was a well of power—a spiral of pure green energy coiled low in his belly.

It shimmered and sparkled, like a snake made of emeralds.

A finger of gold swelled from his mind and slithered through his body until it reached the coil and, with a serpentine finger, it stroked a tendril of light against it, lighting up the places where it touched. Those spots grew in intensity, a jade pulsation ebbing through the coil until shards of deepest forest coloured sparkles erupted from the coil, sliding together to join up as one smooth stone of energy.

That circle drooped low in the belly and slid carefully into the bloodstream, travelling through the veins, allowing every inch of the system to absorb some of the power in that stone.

The outer body took on a green hue, glowing with iridescent light.

But the circle of stone carried on inside; it circled his body, until it was led to the brain where it formed links in synapses and throbbed like the heart itself. The stone flickered like a gemstone and synapses fired, flexed, hardened and connected.

One push was all it took.

In the still of the room all was silent and still as the manacles simply vanished.

The figure on the bed was not dead and no longer chained.

The Doctor smiled.

To be continued…… New Story Called Encroaching Madness. You want it? You review. Simple as.