AN. No. I didn't expect to see me back here, either. Though I never planned to, I somehow drifted away from this pairing for a while. (A long while.) And then, half-past-midnight last night...this. I hope you like it. I still haven't decided if I do or not.
On reading over my older chapters, I find myself cringing quite a lot. My instinct was at first to delete some of the really poor ones, but fourteen-year-old me liked to write and darn it I'm not going to delete her just because she wasn't very good! To be honest, seventeen-year-old me isn't much better, anyway. :P
In any case... enjoy! Doctor Who belongs to Moffy and other people. None of them are me.
"But you mean more, mean more to me,
Than any colour I can see." - Coldplay
Kelke was possibly the most colourful place Rose had ever seen. Quite literally, there seemed not to be shade of grey anywhere on the planet. Everywhere she looked, greens and yellows and reds swirled around in a beautiful, mad mix of hues that was unashamedly joyful.
It seemed to rub off on the people, too: the Kelks were carefree, happy souls with bright smiles to match their rainbow-coloured skin. Rose had been here all of five minutes, and already she was feeling lighter, less weighed down by the harrowing experience of her kidnap and maltreatment on Jandersto. She suspected the Doctor had done this on purpose - taken her to the universe's happiest planet as some kind of recuperation therapy, but it didn't bother her. She was determined to enjoy today.
She hated how the Doctor was looking at her, though; the slightly worried glances in between his babblings about how brilliant the music of Kelke was, and how spectacular their circuses were supposed to be. She greeted each of them with a grin meant to reassure him, but she knew he was still concerned about her. In another situation she might have been pleased at his attentions, but she didn't like worrying him.
Somewhere amongst the busy stalls of the market of Trassa, she lost him. A Kelk woman with glorious sapphire-coloured skin offered to decorate Rose's hands with the intricate floral designs all the women seemed to wear, and Rose smiled and nodded, sitting down in the armchair shown to her. The faint tickle of the paintbrush against her skin made her feel utterly relaxed, and she reminded herself that the Doctor had an uncanny knack of finding her eventually, so she needn't worry.
The TARDIS was being irritable. Or at least, the Doctor was reluctant to admit to feeling irritable himself, and was blaming his ship for his subsequent bad driving. Either way, this was certainly not Erullia, or the Charris Cluster: this was somewhere else entirely.
He recognised it as soon as he stepped out of the door (the TARDIS refused to dematerialise; she clearly wanted him here for some reason). He'd been here before, what felt like a lifetime ago. Kelke. Known throughout the galaxy as "the Planet of Rejoicing".
The Doctor didn't feel very much like rejoicing at the moment. In fact, he hadn't felt inclined to do so for quite a while now. If he was honest, the happy-happy atmosphere which now enveloped him made him all the more miserable.
Clearly he'd arrived on market day, because he was surrounded by stalls of all possible shades selling wares of every imaginable kind. He felt another pang; it had been market day the last time he'd been here. With Rose.
He swallowed. Why was the TARDIS doing this to him? He'd been trying to avoid all that - memories of his friends, of what he'd done to them all. Of what he couldn't do again, not after Donna. Surely there were enough planets in the universe to avoid repeats like this.
Resignedly, he began to walk through the marketplace, a forlorn figure in amongst the rainbow of happy natives. Their joy exhausted him. Didn't they know there was nothing to be happy about?
"My hands have never looked so good. Thanks...sorry, Krissa, was it?"
His ears must be playing tricks on him.
"Yes, friend, Krissa is my name. Laren Krissa Ajolis. May I know yours?"
A Kelk woman behind him was chatting with a customer, that was all. The similarity of the voice was purely coincidence, and the next reply should prove it. Because her name couldn't possibly be...
"Rose Tyler. Rose. Thanks, again, for my hands. How much do I owe you? I'll have to find my friend..."
Suddenly one of his hearts seemed to stop; the other pounded. That voice...just to hear it again...
"Oh, we never ask visitors to our world for money. Only to share in our joy."
"I'll do that all right. It's lovely, this place. Everyone so happy. Makes a change."
Unable to bear it any longer, he turned around. And there she was: Rose Tyler. Brilliant, fantastic Rose who he'd lost, twice - unblemished as yet by their separation, seeming to glow in the bright Kelk sun. His Rose.
"All who come to Kelke will find happiness, friend Rose. You, I think, have seen sadness."
"A bit, yeah. Surprised you lot even have a word for it!"
"Our word for sadness comes from the word for 'stranger'. It is a strange concept to us."
"Makes sense. Well, I should probably go and find my friend. See ya, Krissa. Thank you."
"It was a joy, friend Rose. Until next time."
She turned too quickly for the Doctor to duck behind a stall-cloth, and gave him a cheery wave. "There you are!"
He blinked. He hadn't counted on her seeing him, or confusing him with...himself. He coughed, hastily, "Hello."
She came to join him, and frowned slightly. "Is that a different tie? It looks different."
He glanced down. It was unlikely he'd been wearing this same tie the day he'd brought her here. "Um, no. Yes. There's a stall over there," he flung his out arm in a wild sweep which encompassed most of the rest of the market, "with lots of ties. Apparently they don't charge you if you're a visitor."
She grinned, and held up her hands, which were exquisitely patterned in brightly coloured flower designs. "I know. Look at these!"
He nodded approvingly. "Beautiful."
Suddenly, she flung her arms around him instead. "You can stop worrying about me, Doctor." she said into his ear. "I'm fine. And thank you for bringing me here. I needed it."
He closed his eyes. To have her so close, so tangible, one last time... Silently, he echoed her words, addressing the TARDIS. Thank you for bringing me here. I needed it.
She kissed him lightly on the cheek and pulled away. They smiled at each other. Then she grabbed his hand and began to pull him away towards another stall, and he allowed himself to be swallowed up in the throng of people, to drift away from her. He saw her turn back and scan the crowd for him, but he quickly hid behind a large Kelk man. Somewhere out there, her Doctor was waiting for her. Somewhere out there, a much luckier version of himself didn't know how lucky he was.
When Rose found the Doctor again, he had changed back into his old tie and was carrying two sticks of what looked suspiciously like candy-floss. He held one out to her and she took a bite, the sugary goodness taking her back to funfairs and theme parks of her childhood.
"I liked that one better anyway," she remarked, indicating the tie.
He looked mock-baffled. "What?"
She giggled. "Never mind. Men and clothes, honestly, it doesn't matter what species you are. You're all useless."
He grinned. "Yep. Nice hands, by the way."
"Come off it. Mmm, this stuff is gorgeous."
"Changes colour every minute. Did you see the acrobats?"
"Ah, we can't leave before you've seen them. They're magnifico! Eccellente! And a number of other Italian words. Which reminds me, we're going to have to do Florence one of these days."
And as the crowded market swallowed them up, neither of them heard the grating, groaning sound of a dematerialising TARDIS, one that carried another Doctor out into the stars once more. Alone.
I love reviews. Just, y'know, thought I'd say. :P