Title: Circumnavigating Home (1/1)
Genre: AU, Drama, angst
Summary: And the way you seem to flow, circumnavigating home, and I seem to lose control.
Disclaimer: I don't own Doctor Who.
Author's Notes: to JennyLD for the beta.
The Doctor paced his cell, kicking the rushes covering the floor with a bare foot. The stone was chilly, even to his lower body temperature.
His lip curled up; heat wasn't one of the things Warden Ipsil believed in apparently.
Rose ran to the console and looked down at all the controls.
A feeling of hopelessness sank in her.
She pulled out a crumpled-up napkin from her pocket, smoothing out the wrinkles and folds. Her cramped, quickly written instructions were all there, bold and bright in blue, but-- eyeing the controls again, she felt overwhelmed.
Pressing his hands to his ears, the Doctor sank down in the corner of his cell. The stone wall was hard against his back, not cushioned at all by his thin cotton shirt.
Distant screams penetrated his ears.
Hunkering down, he drew his legs closer to his chest and rested his elbows on his knees, wrapping his hands around his head, blocking out most of the yells with his arms.
Smacking the console with her palm, Rose let out a frustrated grunt. The coordinates were wrong. Again. She'd followed the Doctor's instructions to the letter.
Each and every single letter... well, number. He'd been adamant that everything was right.
So why had she once again landed in the woods outside the prison? Just outside the wall that kept her from throwing his wishes aside and running in to get him anyway.
The floor of his new cell wasn't any more comfortable than his old one.
In fact, as he watched a hekxa bug crawl in and out of the straw strewn around, he thought it might be worse. Moving carefully to the filthy mattress in the corner, he sat down and rested his leg, pulling the shredded cloth away from the wound in his thigh so it wouldn't stick to it.
Silence hung thick on the walls and ceilings, slipping through the bars and into each cell and he amended his thoughts.
This one was definitely better than the last.
"Bloody hell," Rose bit out, slamming the TARDIS door on the idyllic forest scene outside. Shoving away from the faux wood, she stomped back up to the console. Flying the TARDIS wasn't easy, she knew that. Otherwise, the times the Doctor had tried to teach her would've stuck. And he wouldn't have needed to dash around to reach bits and bobs while still on the other side.
But with specific instructions, it should've worked. He'd told her it would work.
Leaning against the console, she drew in a deep breath, eyed the components and started the sequence again. She must be doing something wrong.
Curling onto his side, the Doctor let his eyes slide closed, shutting out the sight of Mickey as he climbed the wall and slipped out of the cell as only a bug could do.
If only it were that easy for him.
Scooting up on the mattress a little, he winced as the burns on his back protested the movement. He sighed and let his mind drift into a healing trance. A short one this time... didn't want to get caught off-guard again.
The silence made his teeth ache.
Rose bit her lip, considering the two sets of numbers on the napkin. One of them had to be wrong, that was the only explanation. But which one?
She could switch them. Or switch the double numbers around.
Maybe he'd told her them wrong. Or she'd written them down wrong. Writing them down after the fact, even though she was absolutely certain she'd remembered them right... well, something wasn't right. Why not the coordinates delineating destination?
Rubbing her tired eyes, she decided to switch the numbers around front to back.
Terrified screams echoed down the row of cells, bouncing off the stone like rubber balls ricocheting back and forth.
The Doctor gulped down the last of his dry bread before swishing around the last few swallows of water in his cup. It'd lasted longer than he'd thought. Tipping it back, he drank it down, closing his eyes as the liquid moistened his cracked lips and dry mouth.
He savored it as long as he could before swallowing it down. Licking his lips, he rested his head against the wall.
The screams cut off mid-shout and his eyes shot open, darting around the cell.
Number switching didn't work. Whole numbers, single numbers... none of it worked. Rose shoved her hands into her jean pockets to keep from slamming them down on the console again; the heel of her hand still ached from the last time she'd done that.
Straightening up, she circled around, checking all of her settings with the instructions written on the napkin, resetting them as she went.
Set the long, black dial pointing toward the door two notches to the left. Done.
Spin the thin, black knob in front of the captain's chair three and a half times. Done.
Press the medium-sized red button. Done.
Turn the brown dial counter-clockwise until it points to the interior door. Done.
Tap the flat copper plate with the small mallet, making sure not to hit anything nearby. Done.
Input the two sets of numbers into the small calculator-looking device in front of the jump seat. Done.
Press the button beside the calculator-looking device and then spin the little tiny knob by the button beside the calculator-looking device. Done and done.
The time rotor began to wheeze and move up and down.
She hit the button again after twenty-four seconds and ran to the door as the TARDIS set down and the rotor stopped moving. Yanking the door open, she glanced around at the forest, seeing the familiar stone wall blocking her view of the prison.
"Damn it," she shouted, slamming the door shut.
Helplessness poured through her; the Doctor was counting on her and she was letting him down in the worst way.
The Doctor pressed his arms to his ears, wrapping his hands around his head, trying to block out everything surrounding him. Shifting on the dirty straw beneath his body, he looked for Tina. She wasn't around much anymore. Always off visiting other prisoners; stepping out on him.
A short, breathless chuckle left his cracked lips.
Shifting on the cold stone floor, he stiffened as he heard a noise down the row of cells. Dropping his arms to his sides, he closed his eyes and listened to the screams that reverberated throughout the halls.
His muscles relaxed and he drifted off to sleep.
Smack this, hit that, turn this one, over there was another, twist and turn and hit and-- Rose hammered the copper plate with the mallet. And then again. And again. Again and again, pounding it hard, swinging wide, no longer caring what she hit.
It didn't matter. None of it mattered.
The Doctor had entrusted her to do one thing; fly the TARDIS into his cell, and she couldn't even manage that. Now he was stuck and expecting her to rescue him and she wasn't coming.
She had to get to him, she couldn't let him spend the rest of his life in prison. Lives. Multiple lives, hundreds of years each.
Tears gathered in her eyes and she angrily swiped at them. Swinging the mallet, she smacked it down one more time then pressed the button on the other side.
The rotor began to move.
The Doctor huddled in the corner of his cell, eyes fixed on the silence in the room. There was nothing here except him.
A giggle escaped him and he pressed his hand to his mouth to contain it as he glanced around for Eemil or Luis. They'd left him too. He was still here while everyone else was gone.
Bracing himself against the wall, he climbed to his feet and shuffled across the cold floor, grabbing the metal bars facing an empty wall. "I'm still here!" he shouted, rattling the bars with stiff hands.
Blowing out a huff of breath, he peered into the dim hallways. He hadn't seen another person in over two weeks.
Burst of energy spent, he slumped against the bars, grabbing hold of one to keep himself upright. His food and water were gone now. A healing trance wouldn't help; there was nothing to heal. And if someone came while he was out, he didn't think he'd--
A wind kicked up, blowing straw and dirt around the small cell. The middle of the room was cleared of all debris as a wheezing sound began and his ship--his beloved ship!--appeared out of nowhere, as she did best.
He grabbed the bars tighter, dragging himself back to a standing position and stared unblinking, afraid it was just another hallucination. The blue box solidified in the middle of the room, facing the spot he'd been in only a minute before. He stared at the side of the TARDIS, holding his breath, waiting for the door to open.
When it did, the door itself blocked his view of the pilot, the occupant, the person piloting his ship. Was it him? Another him. Was it a companion of another him? Or even of he, himself.
"Doctor?" an excited female voice called out. Blonde hair and a fresh, pink face peered around the door, trying to see him in the dark.
His hearts leapt back to life, breath escaping him as he took in Rose Tyler. She was here, actually here, with him, in the TARDIS, searching the cell for him. He shifted a bit as she squinted his way.
He stepped forward, just one step, hand still on the bar, and reached out to touch the TARDIS. It was solid.
"I did it," she said, bouncing in place. He could tell, by the way her eyes continued to move that she couldn't see him fully. She saw his shape and general outline, but the shadows in his cell and the entire block were thick. The lights hadn't been turned on in over a week.
He was being left behind to die on the warden's orders.
"Doctor?" she said softly, sounding a little anxious now. "That is you, isn't it?"
He licked his lips and opened his mouth to speak. All that came out was a croak, so he tried again. It came out barely above a whisper. "Yes."
"Come on, then, let's go!" She turned around, taking the light and brightness she contained with her, leaving him alone in the dusky, dark cell.
Pushing away from the bars, he placed both hands on the side of the TARDIS, feeling a warm hum under them, in the back of his mind, and pulsing throughout his body. He closed his eyes and let out his breath, not wanting to take another one until he was inside the TARDIS. Shutting the door to move around it and face the inside of his ship, he stood and stared into his life.
This was his home.