TITLE: Black as Stone
SUMMARY: At least he'd been wearing his coat. Rose wouldn't have recognised him otherwise. Nine/Rose.
DISCLAIMER: The Doctor, Rose and the TARDIS are all the property of the BBC. They are not mine, and I do not claim them as such. However, the royal family is mine, even though I make no money from them.
AUTHOR'S NOTE : This is another response for the Live Journal challenge "wtf27". The challenge this time was #3 Transformation (inanimate).
The TARDIS landed, only shaking Rose mildly. This was a marked improvement over other landings, so she decided not to mention the knock her hand had received against the console.
"Rond, fantastic bloke, known him forever," the Doctor said, a large grin plastered over his face. "You'll like him, Rose. He's not a bad sort considering he's royalty."
"Do I need to change?" Rose asked cautiously.
"Nah, no need. His Majesty is very accepting."
Rose scowled, convinced that was a dig at her clothing choices that morning. There was nothing wrong with jeans, a baby doll tee shirt, hoodie and trainers. Moreover, everything was minus holes and mud.
The Doctor flung open the TARDIS doors and breathed in deeply. "Ahh, Travon air. How I have missed you."
Rose did not think the air was anything special. Air was air, so long as she could breathe in it.
A woman walked quickly towards them, her ankle-length skirt gathered up in one hand, presumably not to trip over the hem. "Doctor! How delightful to see you."
"Hello, Lizar. How are you?" The Doctor took her hand and kissed the back of it. He then gestured for Rose to come forward. "This is Rose Tyler," he announced. "She travels with me."
Rose was not quite sure how to greet the woman. The Doctor had taken her hand, laid his lips on it, but he had not bowed or anything. Therefore, she decided a curtsey was not necessary and just ducked her head instead.
"Lizar is the current Queen of Travon," the Doctor continued.
Rose immediately coloured. "Er, excuse me, Your Majesty," she said, dropping a belated curtsey and feeling an ache in her knees and ankles as she did so.
Lizar laughed lightly. "Oh, please. The Doctor is a friend and therefore so are you. There is no need to be so formal. You are Rose and I am Lizar."
The Queen tucked her hand around Rose's arm, and began to lead her to an imposing building at the end of the walkway. "I look forward to getting to know you. Hopefully, you can tell us about those secrets the Doctor insists on keeping." She winked at Rose conspiratorially.
Rose cast a quick look at the Doctor who trailed behind them. She had to stifle a giggle when she noticed him rolling his eyes.
A boy stood at the foot of the palace steps, a scowl marring his young features. "Who are these people?" he asked. "What are they doing here? I didn't invite anyone to visit."
"Hush, Elwest," Lizar scolded him. "These are friends of your father." She introduced the Doctor and Rose to her son, the heir to the throne of Travon.
The Doctor grinned. "I met you when you were a baby, not that you'd remember. How old are you now?"
"Nine. How old are you?"
"A lot older," the Doctor replied cheerfully. "Sorry, Lizar, I didn't realise it had been quite so long between visits."
"A friend of my father's?" the boy repeated disdainfully. "You're hardly a friend if you've not seen him for so long." He sniffed. "You won't see him this time either." Having uttered that prophecy, he walked past them into the grounds.
Rose watched him go for a moment before turning back to Her Majesty. She did not think much of the Travonian heir, except that he was rather on the spoiled side. She idly wondered if Prince William or Prince Harry had been as bad when they were that age. However, her mum had always said Princess Diana had been really nice so she didn't think it was possible. Then again, Lizar seemed nice again so far as well.
The Queen was apologetic over her son's behaviour. "He thinks he's in charge when his father's away. He knows he'll inherit his father's position one day."
"Rond not here then?"
"No, Doctor, he's not. He is at Parliament for three days. He only meets with them every six months, as you know. They should have met a moon ago, but we had flooding on the Quorian Plains."
"Bad was it?"
"Not as bad as it could have been, thank goodness. However, the Parliament is going to evaluate the situation at this session."
"Anything we can do to help?"
"Thank you, Doctor, but I don't think so." The Queen paused for a moment in thought. "You may want to arrive three days from now, Doctor. As much as I want to get to know Rose, I think court is terribly dull when Rond is away. I'm afraid you'll both be bored."
The Doctor laughed. "Bored? Me? Never! I never get bored, do I, Rose."
Thinking back to the time the Slitheen had come to London and the Doctor had been forced to watch the action from her mum's flat, Rose decided to say nothing.
Besides, Lizar seemed to have her own answer to his question. "Doctor, I know you. You always have to be doing something. And you usually end up in trouble because of it. I pity your poor TARDIS, really."
Rose was startled. "You know about the TARDIS?"
Lizar laughed. "Of course. It's bigger on the inside and travels through time and space." She gazed wistfully into the distance. "I almost wish I could come with you. I do miss Rond when he's away." She shook her head. "Unfortunately, I have duties and responsibilities here. So, Doctor, I suppose you'll see me in a few minutes."
"If you're sure?"
"Absolutely. Besides it'll give me time to arrange the banquet for Rond's homecoming." She smiled. "To which the two of you are most definitely invited."
"Okay. See you soon." The Doctor turned sharply and began hurrying back towards the TARDIS. "Well, come on, Rose," he called back. "Sooner we get going, the sooner we're back."
Rose had to scurry to catch up with him. "How does she know about the TARDIS?" she asked as he unlocked the door of his ship.
The Doctor strode towards the console and began flipping switches. "Back when she and Rond were courting, the previous king asked me to act as chaperone."
The idea of the Doctor acting as a chaperone struck Rose as funny, but she did not comment. Instead, she asked, "You've known the King that long?"
"Since he was a kid."
"Was he as bad as his son is?"
The Doctor paused briefly to consider the question. "Not as rude or spoiled," he said finally, and began the dematerialisation sequence. The landing was a lot smoother this time. "Right, let's see if His Majesty is home yet."
Rose looked down at her clothing. "The Queen said something about a banquet. Should I change?"
"Into what? A pumpkin?" the Doctor joked. "No need, Cinderella. I'm sure Lizar will insist on providing you with something suitable. Besides, you can't spend the rest of the day in a posh frock, can you? You'd never be able to run in it."
"S'pose not," Rose agreed. She also made a mental note to keep her trainers on if the dress was long enough. She doubted she would be offered glass slippers but even party shoes were highly impractical when it came to running.
This time, Lizar did not come to greet them. "No doubt preparing for tonight," the Doctor mused. Instead, he and Rose made their own way up the gravel-like path to the royal mansion. In the distance, they could see a solitary figure crouched in the shadow of the steps. Rose groaned when she worked out who it was.
"Hello, Elwest," the Doctor began cheerfully.
The boy did not look at them. "Go away."
Rose noticed he held a short wooden rod in his hand. "What are you doing?" she asked. She did not care much for the boy, but she figured she had better be polite.
However, the Doctor had noticed the same object. "That's your father's isn't it?" he said, stooping down to Elwest's level. "I remember when he got it from his father."
"You're not old enough," the boy muttered.
"Oh, I'm older than I look. So, what are you trying to do?"
"They annoy me." Elwest pointed towards a small metal cage, which Rose had not spotted before. Inside were approximately half a dozen rodents, their noses sniffing and their whiskers twitching. Rose thought they looked scared.
"We probably annoy them," the Doctor jokingly replied. "What about it?"
"They were caught in the kitchens. I'm taking care of them" He reached into the cage and pulled one of them out by its tail.
The outburst came from both Rose and the Doctor, but it was the Doctor who continued with, "You can't treat them like that."
"I can and I will," Elwest responded haughtily. Holding the rodent at arm's length, Elwest then proceeded to raise the wooden rod with his other hand.
"Oh no you don't," the Doctor began in alarm.
However, the boy paid no attention and Rose was stunned at what she saw next. For as soon as Elwest lowered the rod, the rodent disappeared.
For a moment, Rose couldn't speak. She didn't quite believe what she'd seen. This Harry Potter wannabe had done something to the rodent.
"What have you done?" the Doctor yelped.
"I'm taking care of the problem," Elwest replied. He picked up a handful of the stones lining the path they were on and let them trickle through his fingers. The implication was obvious.
"Turn them back," the Doctor commanded.
"Why should I?"
"Because it's not right."
The little magician stood up and stared down at the Doctor. "I am heir to the throne of Travon. Only the crown may decide what is or isn't right in this kingdom."
"That's your father, not you."
"And I am in charge in his absence."
The Doctor laughed. "He's only gone for a couple of days and he'll be home today. You are not in charge. Change them back."
"Did your father even teach you how to do this? I'm betting he didn't. Transformation's not for kids." The Doctor's expression turned cold. "You don't even know how to turn them back, do you?" he said quietly.
The boy starred stonily at him but stayed silent.
The Time Lord sighed. "Well, I suppose in that case there's nothing we can do about what you've already done until your father returns. But I can stop you from causing more trouble. Rose, take the cage and release the remaining creatures. Do it far away from the house and hopefully they'll stay outside. Meanwhile, Your Highness, you and I are going to have a word with your mother. We'll see what she…"
The Doctor reached out to grab Elwest. In the same moment, the boy raised the rod and dropped it back down again.
Rose realised what would happen only a millisecond before it took place. There was no time to warn the Doctor and she could only watch in horror as the Doctor disappeared before her eyes.
At her feet now sat a large black stone.
She acted completely on instinct. She reached out and grabbed a laughing Elwest by his shirt. "You little bastard!" she screamed. "What the hell did you do? Why?" She had him by the shoulders, shaking him as her anger and anguish poured out. "Bloody hell. You killed him, you know that, right? You've bloody well killed him. I don't care if you're royalty. You're a cruel, sick bastard and I'm going to make sure everyone knows."
Her shouts had alerted other people. Rose found herself pulled off the boy and restrained by two men in uniform. "Get off me!" she yelled, struggling against the hold. "He's killed my friend. He's killed the Doctor." But her struggling soon ceased and her yells turned into sobs. The Doctor, her best friend, was dead.
Lizar stepped forward. "Is this true?"
"He was turning rats into rocks," Rose hiccupped. "When the Doctor told him to stop, he did the same to him."
"Is this the Doctor?" Lizar gestured at the black rock.
"I think so," Rose sniffed. "I didn't notice it before."
Lizar nodded and turned to the two guards who were not holding Rose. "Escort Prince Elwest to his rooms," she commanded. "Ensure someone remains with him at all times. I will speak with him later." When Elwest had been escorted from the scene, the Queen instructed the remaining guards to release Rose. "You may return to your duties."
Now free, Rose sat down on the ground and gently ran a hand over the stone. "What now?" she asked quietly.
Lizar laid a comforting hand on the human's shoulder. "The Doctor isn't dead," she said in a gentle voice.
"How do you know? He's a stone. It's not like I can feel his hearts or anything."
"I've seen my husband inflict this on certain criminals who are brought before him," Lizar explained. "At the end of a couple of days, he turns them back and they have suffered no ill effects."
Rose looked up. Maybe it would be all right after all. If these people were okay after transformation then the Doctor should be too. After all, he was the Doctor.
"Can you do it?" she asked hopefully. "Turn him back, I mean."
Lizar shook her head. "Unfortunately, the magicks only pass through the male bloodline and only royal males in line to the throne. We'll have to wait for my husband to return."
"That's going to be today, yeah?"
"I wish it was. Unfortunately, my husband has been detained an additional two days. I will inform him of the situation as soon as he returns. In the meantime, I presume you cannot fly the TARDIS. The Doctor is not fond of letting someone else handle her. Rond used to plead with him, but the answer was always the same. Therefore, the least I can do is make sure you are made comfortable while we wait. I'll have a maid open up quarters for you."
"No." Rose stood up, cradling the black rock in her arms. "I mean, thanks but I think we'll be better off in the TARDIS. Let me know when the king arrives home."
Rose slowly made her way back to the TARDIS, the Doctor held tightly in her hands. "I don't know what to do, Doctor," she said quietly. "I guess there's nothing I can do." She gave the rock a hug. "I'm glad you turned black though. Don't know what I'd have done if I couldn't identify you among all that gravel. Anyone could have trodden on you. Can you feel anything? Can you even hear me?"
There was no answer.
Once inside the TARDIS Rose set the rock down on the console. "TARDIS," she called hesitantly. "Can you hear me?"
Lights in the room brightened momentarily. Rose took that as a positive.
"Can you, I don't know, identify that this is the Doctor?" The lights brightened again and Rose took a deep breath. "Is this the Doctor?" She paused and waited for the light to glow again. "Good. Is he, you know, okay?"
The additional glow reassured Rose. "Thank goodness," she breathed. Although the Doctor had apparently survived a lot during his 900 years – not least of all was the war that killed his people. Rose was slowly learning to appreciate that it wasn't just their brains, but also luck, that got them out of trouble. They'd come so close to death in just the short time she'd been with him.
She sat down on the jump seat and looked at the rock that was the Doctor. Despite her words to him earlier, she wasn't entirely sure if he was aware of what had happened to him. Was he even aware of anything? When the King turned him back, would he remember anything of this time? Perhaps it's like coma patients, she mused. You can talk to them and maybe they were aware on a subconscious level.
"I'm sorry," she muttered, in case he could hear her on some level. "At least you had your coat on. Don't know what I'd have done if you'd looked like all the other stones." She giggled nervously. "I'd probably have brought the entire ground back with me in case the TARDIS could help."
The time vortex glowed in the centre of the room, but there was no sound except for Rose. "I don't know what to do," she said once again. "It's too quiet in here. You should be running around the console, or messing around with the wiring like I've seen you do."
She stood without thinking, exited the console room and began the walk to her room. Midway back, however, she hesitated. What if he is aware? She thought. He gets so lonely.
Rose abruptly dashed back and grabbed the Doctor. "Can't leave you on your own." In her room, she placed him on a bookshelf. "There you go," she said softly.
For the next couple of hours, Rose lay on her bed reading. She was used to the quiet in this room and, after a few glances at the shelf, she soon forgot about the Doctor and immersed herself in an autobiography of Charles Dickens. After a late night run to the kitchen for a mug of tea Rose went to bed.
Some eight hours later Rose woke up, feeling ready for the day ahead. Her first thought in the morning was nearly always about what she and the Doctor might do today. Her second thought was usually about something from the previous day. Naturally, it only took a few moments to remember. "Doctor!" she gasped, bolting upright.
The black stone that was the Doctor still sat on the bookcase opposite the bed. "Oh no," Rose groaned as she thought once more of his possible awareness. She'd got undressed in front of him and slept in front of him. "Bet you didn't even close your eyes," she accused him, mortified at having forgotten he was even there. "And then you probably watched me all the bloody night 'cos you couldn't do anything."
Thankful that she was at least wearing pyjamas, Rose slid out of bed and walked to her wardrobe. "And it just had to be you," she grumbled. "If it was me you'd have just directed the TARDIS to tomorrow." She grabbed a top, jeans and underwear. "You're not getting a peek this time, Doctor," she taunted him before scurrying to the bathroom.
In the shower, Rose was faced with a decision. The Doctor would return to the console room, but would she stay with him? She'd hated the silence in there yesterday, but could she really leave him on his own? "You have to help me out here, TARDIS," she begged as she dressed. "You know him better than me."
No closer to a decision, Rose returned to her room and picked up her friend. "Right, you. You're not spending another day in here. This is my room and I want my privacy back. You're going back where you belong."
To her surprise, her bedroom door opened straight into the console room. "That was quick," she exclaimed to the TARDIS. "Didn't even feel you moving me."
She returned the Doctor to the console. Rose felt better at being close to him yet still having her own space. To her delight, she noticed the TARDIS had also moved both the kitchen and bathroom so that they were also located off the main room. "Thanks, luv," Rose said softly, appreciatively running gentle fingers along the wall nearest her.
The day passed slowly. Rose was limited in what she could do. She didn't want to go outside in case Elwest was around. She still didn't trust herself not to take out her anger on the boy if she saw him. Neither did she trust him not to maliciously inflict more damage with a wave of his hand. Instead, she divided her time between lying on her bed and sitting on the jump seat catching up on her reading. At one point in the afternoon, she was briefly inspired to clean up the kitchen, but there wasn't much that needed doing. Finally, after reminding the Doctor she'd still be close by, Rose went to bed.
The TARDIS seemed brighter when Rose woke up the next morning. It was also humming gently; an indication that the TARDIS felt it would be a better day. But that was to be anticipated, Rose concluded as she lay in bed. After all, His Majesty was due to arrive home and he could return the Doctor to his proper state. Though goodness knows if their friendship would remain intact. No matter what he might say to the contrary, Rose had already witnessed how the Doctor could hold a grudge.
Rose resolved to spend the day once again between her room and the console room, using the kitchen and bathroom as needed. If not for the promise of resolution, Rose wasn't sure if she could suffer another full day of feeling trapped. "I hope that Rond comes soon," she muttered as she prepared breakfast.
Around lunchtime, the screen on the console powered up. Rose jumped in surprise, but quickly focused on whatever the TARDIS evidently needed to communicate. The screen showed the outside of the TARDIS. In the background, Rose could make out the shape of the royal palace. More importantly, however, she noticed a man striding toward the TARDIS, as though on a mission.
"That better be Rond." The TARDIS glowed in the affirmative. "Right then." Rose shut her book, placed it on the seat next to her, and put her feet into her shoes. "Here goes," she said, standing up and walking to the door.
The man outside looked friendly enough, but Rose couldn't be sure. Positioning herself between him and the TARDIS, Rose studied him carefully. "Yeah?"
"Rose Tyler? My name is Rond. I'm a friend of the Doctor."
"My wife tells me that my son has caused the two of you a bit of trouble."
"A bit?" Rose exploded at his casualness. "You son turned the Doctor into a bit of rock just because he wanted to. And that was two days ago. I've been stuck here, since then, not knowing what was going on or how the Doctor was feeling. If he could feel. If he can't, well, he'll know he's missed some time. He's like that you know. He's clever, and he doesn't deserve to be treated this way. Where do you get off teaching your son this stuff? He didn't even know how to reverse what he did."
Rond nodded his head solemnly. "My wife might have told you that the magicks are passed down from father to son, yes? We do not always have these magicks, nor are we taught them. It is, perhaps, an intuition that does not usually come upon us until we are close to manhood. Unfortunately, it seems my son has begun to develop his skills early which means I was not aware of the situation until today."
Rose huffed. "That's all well and good, Your Majesty, but how does that help the Doctor?"
"Patience, my dear. Might I come in?"
"I don't know."
Rond smiled. "Then perhaps you could bring the Doctor to me? My wife said you took possession of him after the incident."
Rose was agreeable to this suggestion. She backed inside the TARDIS, closed the door, and hastened to the console where the Doctor sat silent and unmoving. "I hope this works," she thought aloud. "If it doesn't, we're in trouble."
"Ah, good," said Rond when she returned. "Just put him down in front of you, and you may then want to step back a little." He pulled out the same length of wooden dowel that Rose had seen Elwest use.
It seemed to Rose that one moment she was watching Rond and the next she could se nothing but black, the black of a leather coat to be precise. "Oh, thank goodness," she breathed and flung her arms around the body encased in the material.
"Bloody hell! I don't want to do that again." The Doctor twisted his head around and grinned at Rose. "Hello Rose. I'm me again. I see you met Rond."
Rose let go of the Doctor and slid around to the side of him so that she could once again see their visitor. "Er, yeah."
"Honestly, Rond. You need to take that boy in hand before he causes more trouble." The Doctor shook his head. "He's worse than you."
Rond laughed. "I know, Doctor, and trust me; he will be my top priority. Although I think I might have my work cut out for me."
Now it was the Doctor's turn to be jovial. "Just a bit. Make sure he knows how to behave as your heir."
Rose was astounded. She'd expected the Doctor to go ballistic.
"Might I offer you the hospitality of my home?" Rond asked.
Rose felt the Doctor glance briefly at her before replying. "Not this time, Rond. I think Rose needs a bit of time to recover."
She couldn't believe it. As soon as the doors were closed, she followed the Doctor back to the console. "I really don't get you at times. I need time to recover? What about you? And I can't believe you're not mad at what happened. That brat turned you into a rock, a black unmoving rock."
The Doctor frowned. "I think you're taking this worse than I am, Rose."
"I am. Though goodness knows why. You're the one who got stuck like that."
"I told you, I've known the King since he was a boy."
"I watched his magicks develop as well."
"So? It means I'm more experienced than you in dealing with them."
"More experienced?" Rose shook her head in disbelief. "Is this just another Time Lords are better than humans thing?"
The Doctor shook his head. "Nah. Not at all. I should have expected it really, bit daft of me not to."
"Why? Why should anyone expect some brat to cast a spell on them?"
"Because Rond managed to turn me into a bloody Yorkshire Terrier when he was a kid. Except we had to wait an entire year since his father was out of the country. And his sister insisted on putting a bloody ribbon in my hair. All things considered, I got off rather lightly this time. Right then, Rose Tyler, where to next? And don't say home because I really don't want to see your mother for another century."
Rose could only stare at him.
Until she envisioned the Yorkshire Terrier and broke down in giggles.