This Immortal Coil (1/1)
Fandom: Doctor Who
Series: Talk to the Hand
Characters: Ten-II, Rose Tyler, Donna Noble
Beta: None, though that would've been a damn good idea, don't you think?
Spoilers: Journey's End, obviously.
Disclaimer: I don't own them, obviously.
Summary: After Straight Up With a Twist. Reading that and Crossed Wires helps. Rose and the Doctor give godhood a try. Abuses the cliché in which Rose is treated like a deity or royalty because she's just so bloody perfect and special and everyone loves her.
A/N: I'm soooo sick and tired of fan fics where Rose is taken by aliens/primitives because she's just so wonderful and sweet and beautiful and perfect that they see her as a goddess/perfect sacrifice for a deity/ perfect mate for ruler/whatever (and even the Doctor's dialogue/internal monologues go on and on and on about how perfect Rose is). Basically, it's the Rose-is-perfect and everyone wants her/wants to be her cliché. I hate that cliché. I hate oh-so-perfect Rose. I find her far more interesting as a flawed, realistic character. So I've taken great delight in twisting the cliché.
"A goddess." The Doctor's voice is curiously flat. His chin is resting on the palm of his hand, which is scrunching up his face and making it hard to read his expression, but from the way his left eyebrow is creeping up his forehead, Rose can tell he's baffled by her pronouncement. Or amused.
Rose hopes it's the former. She hadn't run all the way from the boardroom to the Torchwood basement laboratory still in her heels and suit just to have him laugh at her.
"They think I am the mortal incarnation of their goddess, Jythrt'olkp'urkir'ewe-zzzzrit. Which, according to our translators, means 'Perfection.'"
His right eyebrow shoots up to join the first. "They think you're… perfection incarnate?" His lips twitch. Damn, now she knows he's amused.
"That's what the Jyrlaska priestess said," Rose said defensively.
"No offense, Rose," he says carefully, "but… have these aliens actually met you?"
Rose's eyes narrow. "What do you mean?"
"Well, I love you, but… well, you're not perfect. You use too much make-up, your dye job is uneven – you really should let your mum do it, you know, Jackie's surprisingly talented that way – your mouth's too wide, your curves aren't proportional, your breasts are asymmetrical –"
Rose's jaw drops.
" – it really isn't normal to have a mole there – and don't get me started on hygiene! You shed hair everywhere – probably because of that shoddy dye-job, who knows what chemicals they used - plus the drooling, and you have the cleaning skills of a Sandovian pack rat, which just shoves everything into little heaps held together by saliva –"
"Are you done yet?"
" – then there's that creepy little noise you make when I lick – "
Rose glowers. "You do realize that you and the sofa are going to get well acquainted tonight, right?" she grits out.
"I'm done!" he says, schooling his features into a picture of innocence.
"It's not like they think I'm the actual goddess!" she sniffs. "I just look like her."
The Doctor looks like he's about to say something, but wisely stops when he sees Rose's stormy expression.
"They're not going to run off with you and make you marry their ruler, are they?" he says suspiciously.
"They wish to take me to the Planet of Infinite Wonders where I shall marry the God-Emperor of Incredible Sexiness and Prowess and my every desire will be fulfilled," Rose says calmly. The Doctor's eyes widen, and she snaps in exasperation, "No, they just want me to take part in a simple ceremony since they're not going to make it home in time for the official planet-wide celebration. I've been assured that there are no sacrifices, no bloodshed, no smiting, not even any worshipping of the ground I walk on. It's just a sort of re-enactment of one of their legends. They tell me they're very lucky to have found someone alien who so embodies the goddess." She can't contain the glee in her voice. It does an ego good to be worshipped, after all, even if it is as a proxy to an alien goddess.
"I'm sure you'll make a great goddess," he says distantly. He pokes listlessly at the alien components on the bench in front of him, and Rose finally realises something is wrong.
Today is one of his Torchwood work days, when he isn't needed at The Star and he's caught up on his gossip columns. The Doctor still doesn't like working at an institute that, in another universe, was created to capture him, but he puts up with it since it's the place he's most likely to find parts for his growing TARDIS. And now that he has Donna Noble as his assistant at both The Star and Torchwood, he's enjoying his job there more than he used to.
But today, there's something a little 'off' about him than usual. He's taking this 'goddess' business a bit too hard, and she's certain it has nothing to do with telling him she'll be home late tonight because of it.
"Are you all right?" she asks. He sighs again and fixes his gaze on the wall. It's answer enough; the Doctor is usually very vocal when it comes to minor aches and illnesses, making even a tiny scratch sound like a life-threatening injury. There's only one thing that causes the mixture of embarrassment and pain she sees on his face. "That time, huh?"
He just nods. She goes to him and pulls him into a hug. He automatically stiffens, then relaxes into her embrace. Her hands slide downward to rub his back, which she knows is usually sore.
The Doctor's body may be male, but the human bits had been created using a female template, leaving him with some very confused, very female hormones. They're usually dormant, but he suffers from monthly flare-ups that made Rose's periods seem like a relaxing day at the spa. And since he doesn't have the female biology to go with the hormones, they affect him in different, often painful ways. They'd hoped that his body would stabilize after a time, and the hormones would settle, but it's been almost three months since his 'birth' and the pain is, if anything, worse.
"Are the pills helping any?" Thanks to his unique biology, finding medication that works on the Doctor is difficult and more than a little dangerous. Torchwood has been working on creating medicines tailored to his physiology, with mixed results. The little yellow pills are new, designed to help ease his agony.
"A little," he says. "I'm not in as much pain as last time." He manages a small smile. "I'll cope. Just what is the evolutionary advantage of this, anyway? You'd think that anything that causes the female population to be virtually crippled and smell like blood would be just asking for a predator to come in and wipe that population out."
Rose smiles into his chest. "'Least you don't smell like blood," she points out. "Otherwise you'd set off the Weevils."
He grimaces. "Yeah. Lucky me."
"You just go home and relax, all right? I should still be home tonight in plenty of time to give you a nice back rub."
He flashes a toothy grin. "Whatever my goddess wishes," he says, bowing deeply. Rose rolls her eyes and stalks out of the lab before she gives in to the urge to smite him.
"Mistaken for a goddess, that must happen all the time, yeah?" Donna says later during their lunch break, as he gloomily contemplates the limp piece of pepperoni pizza in his hand. This is the last time he lets Donna pick out where to eat lunch, he decides. How a café where the pizza has more grease than cheese can have London's healthiest salads is a total mystery.
"Why do you say that?" the Doctor frowns, brow furrowing as cheese oozes off the tip of the pizza onto his plate. Donna snatches it from his plate and pops it in her mouth.
"Different appearance, different technology. Happens all the time on the telly." She shrugs and scoops up another dollop of cheese.
He rolls his eyes. "Most species I've met are similar enough to humans that they aren't impressed by their appearance, or are different enough that they find humanoids to be repulsive. The odds of Rose resembling a goddess are astronomical." He decides not to add that he has been mistaken for a god before, but that usually happened after all the death and destruction, so they'd known he was a being of some power. Sadly, he'd never been viewed as the kind of fun-loving god you threw parties for.
"Did you tell her this?" Donna's fork darts toward his pizza again, this time aiming for a slice of pepperoni.
"Of course I did. I told her there's no way she could possibly be mistaken for a goddess of perfection," he snorts.
Donna gapes. "Did I just hear you say you told Rose she isn't perfect?" She shakes her head sadly. "You really have no understanding of human women, do you?" Her fork dives down for another snatch.
"Oi! If you wanted pizza, you should have ordered that instead of the salad," the Doctor says irritably.
"I'm on a diet, Spaceman, I can't have pizza."
"You don't need – " he begins, then gives up. Trying to tell Donna she doesn't need to diet is like trying to explain the joy of sex to Sontarans – an exercise in futility likely to end in death. See? He does have some understanding of human women! "Eating it off someone else's plate doesn't cancel out the calories, you know," he says instead.
"It does in my book," she says.
"Ah." Never mind. He doesn't understand human women at all.
"So, this ceremony… what do you know about it?"
"Nothing, and no one's talking about it," the Doctor pouts. "I wasn't even invited. I don't know why; from what I hear, it's a holiday ceremony that's usually performed in public, often with tourists watching, so they're not strict about who watches. I guess Rose just doesn't want me to see her ascension to godhood."
"Or it involves dancing around starkers for a bunch of pervy, grabby old aliens."
The Doctor nearly chokes on his pizza.
"So, are we going?" Donna asks, leaning forward, eyes alight. She's still new to the alien business, but she's very eager. And she already knows him far too well.
"To a secret ritual in an undisclosed location in the middle of nowhere? Of course," he grins. "It's not every day you see your girlfriend become a goddess!"
The Doctor is pleased that working at The Star hasn't made him lose his touch. Finding the location of the Jyrlaska ship and the site of the ceremony is a cinch. So is stealthily making their way through the forest, despite Donna's habit of stepping on every dry twig in their path. They make it to the edge of a large clearing, where a clam-shaped ship waits, and conceal themselves in the bushes.
Naturally, they get caught. The Doctor blames Donna, who in turn blames him for complaining too loudly while hiding in the bushes. The Doctor is miffed; it isn't his fault a stick had been digging into his bum!
Rose gives him an annoyed glare, but sighs and tells the silver-blue woman next to her that they're with her.
The woman, who introduces herself as the Jyrlaska priestess, invites them to watch the ceremony, and even gives Donna permission to record it with her camcorder. She's currently standing off to the side with the camcorder running, while the Doctor and Rose learn more about the ceremony.
It's all going rather well, and the Doctor and Rose are enjoying themselves immensely, until the priestess leads them inside the ship and shows them a mural of a bloated green creature with saggy flesh and two dozen tentacles. The priestess reverently runs her fingers over the painting, then turns to them. "The goddess," she intones.
"That's what the goddess looks like?" Rose yelps. The Doctor swallows back his laughter. Barely. "I don't look anything like it – her!"
The Jyrlaska priestess gives her a grave smile. "I assure you, there is no mistake. The goddess's blessing shines brightly within you."
"There isn't secretly a Raxacoricofallipatorian under your skin, is there?" He grabs her wrist and begins to study her arm.
"I can't pretend to be that!" Rose wails.
"Now, now," the Doctor says, patting her head. "It's in Torchwood's best interest to maintain good relations with alien species, and that includes respecting their beliefs."
"I admit, your physical appearance is appalling," the priestess says politely, "but – "
"I think you mean 'appealing,'" Rose corrects.
"I apologise. I am still learning your language," the priestess says, consulting the translation pad in her hand for a moment. Her nose crinkles, and she looks back up. "No, 'appalling' is the correct word," she says.
Rose makes a strangled squeak. The Doctor turns away before she can see his grin.
"It is not the physical body I see, but your aura," the priestess explains.
"She has the Sight!" the Doctor says, intrigued. "What else can you see?"
"I see fire and ice and rage," the priestess whispers.
The Doctor grins. "Yeah, I get that a lot –"
The priestess ignores him and continues. "You, Donna Noble, are awesome," she breathes.
"Wellll… wait – Donna? You're talking about Donna?" He looks over to where the woman is beaming at the praise. "I get the rage bit, lots of that there, but are you sure you're not talking about me with the 'fire and ice' thing?" Donna lobs a small mound of dirt at him.
The priestess studies him closely. Then her eyes widen until the Doctor fears they're going to pop out of her skull. "I have never seen one so perfect," she says, awed.
"Thank you," he says, shooting Rose a smirk.
"You are the very embodiment of Gkoprt'yllsw'mmqazd'grad, the Holy Hermaphrodite."
"Why, yes I – What?"
"Never have I seen one who balances the male and the female aura so perfectly!" the priestess gushes. Rose snickers.
"On our planet, battles would be waged between kings and queens alike to make you their concubine."
"We would be honored if you would take part in our ceremony," the priestess says with a fluid bow.
"But…" he sputters. "I'm all man! Tell her, Rose! Tell her I'm all man!"
Rose quirks an eyebrow. "It's in Torchwood's best interest to maintain good relations with alien species, and that includes respecting their beliefs," she throws back. "He'll do it," Rose tells the priestess, who offers him a small handheld computer. "Instructions," she tells him.
Sulkily, the Doctor skims through them. As he begins to read up on the history of the ceremony, he notes a small, and rather confusing, error in the Torchwood translation.
"Rose, look at this. It's not Jythrt'olkp'urkir'ewe-zzzzrit, it's Jythrt'olkp'urkir'ewe-ssssrit! Our closest translation is 'Perdition!', or 'state of everlasting punishment,' but they seem to think this is a good thing. But why…" Then it hits him, and his eyes widen. He can't hold it in any longer, and bursts out laughing. "Oh, Rose… they think you're a goddess of punishment!" He can barely breathe now, and he gasps out, "You're a Mistress!"
Rose scowls and reaches out to snag his ear. "Come on, Holy Hermaphrodite. I'll show you what a punishment goddess can do."
"That went well," Donna says brightly, several hours later as she packs away the digital camcorder.
The Doctor and Rose just stare. The ceremony had gone well; it had been as harmless as promised – if one ignored the rather suggestive nature of the ceremony – and the Jyrlaska had thanked them profusely and had promised to work at establishing relations between their planets. But it's hard to see the good side of things when you are wearing little more than an itchy loin cloth and chest wrap and are drenched from head to toe in cold, congealing, foul-smelling, fuchsia-coloured slime.
"Lots of blackmail material here," Donna continues. "'Specially the spanking bit."
The Doctor turns to Rose and mouths, "Retcon." She nods emphatically in agreement.
They trudge through the secluded woods towards the Torchwood SUV. The Doctor shivers from the cold, then moves closer to Rose to whisper into her ear.
"When we write this up for Torchwood, you're still the Goddess of Perfection, and I'm the God-Emperor of Incredible Sexiness and Prowess, all right?"
"No argument here," she mumbles, as she works at wringing the fuchsia-coloured gunk out of her hair.
They reach the SUV, and Rose unfolds a tarp, which she uses to cover the back seat. Donna sits in the driver's seat, going through the ceremony footage and muttering something about Youtube.
"You first, my appalling Goddess of Eternal Torment," the Doctor coos, gesturing for Rose to climb in.
"Oh no… after you, Oh Holy Hermaphrodite," she counters.
He shudders. "Let's make a vow to never speak of this again."
"Seconded," Rose says. They both turn to their designated driver.
Donna just laughs maniacally, and the Doctor decides he's going to wait a few weeks before he shows his face at Torchwood again.
This just popped in my head yesterday and wouldn't leave me alone… Sorry.