Title: What He Remembered (1/1)
Character/Pairing: 10.2, Rose
Genre: Drama, angst, AU
Summary: The Human-Doctor isn't happy with his new life in Pete's World.
Disclaimer: I don't own Doctor Who.
Author's Notes: Thanks to JennyLD for the beta.
What he remembered most about his first night stuck on Earth wasn't Rose's hand in his for that brief moment in time, or the kiss she'd surprised him with on that cold, desolate beach. It was the car rides, the zeppelin rides, the long waits between rides, and the long silences stretching between cities and towns and stops in between.
The hushed voices of Jackie and the driver in the front seat.
Etched into his mind was Rose's face, pale and still. Drawn. Like she had no emotions left to give. And the feeling of time wasted, like he should be out there in the TARDIS: saving planets, watching stars wink out of existence, watching others being born.
There were plasma storms to see and lives to save and here he was, riding in the backseat of a car on the way to his new life.
A life he was beginning to realize he didn't want.
It started out as just a thought and a glance down at his trousers. Running his thumbnail along the seam, he discovered a few things about himself; he didn't like the blue suit.
They passed under a streetlight and he saw the shine of the material and winced. The blue suit definitely wasn't him. He was a brown pinstriped kind of suit-wearing guy. This wasn't him at all.
He was supposed to be in the TARDIS. Supposed to be in his own universe. Thumbnail rubbing harder, as if he could erase the color or change it, he tried not to breathe in too deeply.
This universe felt different, tasted different.
The marrow in his bones felt... tingly. His skin hummed beneath his clothes and every scrape of flesh on fabric had him gritting his teeth.
Even his teeth were on edge.
Part of it could be from his new body, but he knew that wasn't all it was.
The air in his lungs tasted... what was that? Smacking his lips, he tasted pepper. The air here was peppery. This universe was peppery.
Staring up at the night sky through the window, he concentrated, sensing an underlying taste and smell here that was just off. And wrong. Like Jack. Jack would do well here. But he wouldn't.
Every breath tasted wrong.
Sighing, pulling the attention from the world around him, he realized he'd have to buy a new suit if he ever wanted to feel at home here. Because this universe would never be that. So, at the very least, his clothes should feel that way.
Weary eyes blinking in the pre-pre-dawn light, he noted that, sometime during his musings, they must've arrived. The car had stopped and Rose was watching him, one foot out the open door. The blaze from the overhead lamp gave her a sickly glow that still gave her more color and life than he'd seen in her since the TARDIS had dematerialized, leaving them to their new life of silences and furtive looks.
"We're ho-- here," she told him, and then with one last glance in his direction, exited the car, slamming the door behind her.
The rocking vehicle felt odd. Alien. Sitting in the backseat, alone, dripping in darkness, he watched Rose leave him behind, trying to make himself get used to the idea because he was sure it wouldn't be the last time.
Curling his hand around the unfamiliar door handle of the unfamiliar car in his new, unfamiliar home, he took a deep breath and let it out, then shoved the door open.
As he stood in the middle of the drive, staring up at Pete's home, he heard the car slowly drive off behind him. There would be no respite in there any longer. Even if he decided to dive into the backseat again and tell the driver to go, to just leave everything behind, and, oh, does it happen to be equipped with space and time-traveling capabilities?
Glancing up at the sky, filled with tiny pinpricks of gaseous balls of light, he took in only a part of it because he'd be in this universe for a very long time and he didn't want to get tired of the view too soon. Breath blowing in the cool air--was it winter?--he took the steps to the front door and pushed it open.
Lights were on, blazing in the foyer as Jackie tossed a few quick words to a maid standing nearby, holding an armful of coats.
"Lucy!" he said in welcome surprise. The more familiar faces, the better. She glanced his way and did a little curtsy, which he waved off. "Oh, no need for all that. We're old friends."
"Sir," she said quietly, politely, gaze fixed on something over his shoulder. Someone.
Rose was behind him. Turning, he saw her standing, lips tight, face flushed, and wondered at her reaction.
"...upstairs to see Tony," Jackie was saying, but the Doctor barely heard her. Footsteps sounded, and both Rose and Lucy took off in different directions.
Rose, up the stairs, Lucy through a doorway that led to the kitchen. With coats?
This was the same house. He was sure the kitchen was back there. As the people around him scattered and lights went out, he stood at the foot of the stairs, wondering what he should do.
He was tired. Not just in body, but in mind, as well. He was tired of thinking. He never got tired of thinking. In all his 900 years, he'd always been a thinker. He thought all the time, but in just 18 hours or so, his head hurt, and he wanted to stop. To just... rest.
Glancing up at the top of the staircase, where Rose stood impatiently waiting for him, he stuck his hands in his pockets and sighed. "I was human once."
"What?" came her startled reply. She shifted from one foot to the other, perhaps uncomfortable with the way their voices echoed in the posh foyer.
Rose of old never would've cared. But this was new-Rose.
He started up the huge staircase after a slow look around him. At the opulence and splendor that left him feeling cold.
"When Martha was with me. Before Donna... well, actually after I first met Donna." Eyes rising to hers, he tried hard not to let the old bitterness in, but it was there. Bitterness that he'd been robbed of his time with Rose. And now here he was and she didn't want to be around him. "Met Donna in the TARDIS just after saying goodbye to you. Martha came later."
Stopping a few steps below her, he blinked in the dim light, studying her face, noting the changes six years had wrought. She didn't smile enough.
"I was helpless, didn't have any memories of me. She was the only thing that kept me there so that I could go back to being me again once the danger was over. She was my lifeline."
"Why did you-- how did you become human?" There wasn't so much curiosity about him in her question as there was morbid curiosity.
"Long story. There was a family. I had to hide." Taking the last two steps up, he stopped on the landing beside her, staring off into the distance, down a long, darkened hallway that might lead to his new life. Or was it down the other one? "It was a boy's school, and I-- I became everything I ever disliked about the human race." Swallowing thickly, he clenched his fists in his pockets. Pockets empty of all the things he usually carried in them. "I gave guns to children. Children, Rose!"
She frowned and there was a look there that he couldn't decipher. Disappointment? Disbelief? Starting down the hallway, she turned her back on him.
That same bitterness welled up in him again, burning his nerve endings and sending adrenaline through him. Words fought to leave his mouth. Words he'd never considered telling Rose.
But there was something else there as well; animosity. "Fell in love as well."
He saw her steps falter and felt satisfaction that he'd caused it, then wondered what sort of a man he was now, taking satisfaction in hurting Rose.
"After she found out who I really was, what sort of monster I am, she was disgusted by me. Refused to come with me. Refused to see who I am, and... why I am." Sniffing, feeling a minute loss at the damage he'd done to Joan, he shook his head. "Probably best that way. The feelings didn't stay when I went back to being me." No, those feelings had been--still were--reserved for one person, and she was trying her best not to look at him.
Not to hear him.
Was that the sort of man he was now? A man who took pleasure in hurting others? Did he give guns to children?
She stopped in front of a door, then pushed it open and he assumed he was supposed to follow. He went inside slowly. It was just a bedroom, nice but generic. No; impersonal.
Glancing at the bed with its colorful duvet, the dresser against the opposite wall, and the bland little knickknacks scattered over the surfaces in the room, he stood in the middle of it all and assessed himself. As a human, with bits of Donna in him, he was different. His suit, for instance. He used to like it, thought it was sharp. Now it disgusted him. Shoes too. He wanted white plimsols, not red ones. Red trainers with a blue suit?
Dropping to the bed, the Doctor sighed. "I'm tired, Rose. I'm just... exhausted."
A glimmer of a smile graced her lips. "You're human now. You need to sleep. Lot more often than you used to. I expect you'll be doing quite a bit of it now."
He'd never thought her obtuse or naïve, but here she was, proving him wrong. Dismissing his words as if they were just an amusement for her, something brushed aside and cured by a good night's rest. "Don't you understand?" he snarled, glaring at her, feeling an animosity he rarely felt for anyone other than the feckless, stupid beings who created havoc without thinking about the consequences. "I don't want to be human. Much as I love humans--some more than others... you, Rose, as much as I love you--I don't want to be one. I don't... I don't want this!" he yelled, gesturing around the room.
He saw her jerk back and felt a little sympathy for her despite his anger. That was the sort of man he was now.
Would he give guns to children?
No. His actions that day, that night, still appalled him.
But he would shout and yell at the woman he loved.
"Think I asked for this?" she growled, eyes snapping to his. "I didn't go hopping through universes for you! I went for him. And he... tossed me aside again with a-- a pretend version of him."
His anger quickly dissipated in the face of hers. She was right. But that didn't make it any easier to take. So, he fumed. Sitting on the bed, staring into the mirror across from him, he saw an angry, grumpy man.
He'd been that a few times before.
Dropping his hands to his lap, he slumped down. "This is hell for me. I know what it's like to live on Earth. Did it back in the 70s. Not a bad time, per se. You've got The Beatles. The end of the Viet Nam war. Punk music! Of course, there were bad things as well; Charles Manson. Protests. Oh! I lived for a time in the 60s as well. With Martha."
"Lived with her a lot it seems." Rose's voice was low and angry. He understood. Knew what she thought now.
"She was the only thing that kept me anchored as a human. And I..." covering his face with his hands, he lowered his head. "I treated her like a slave."
"I don't believe that."
Eyeing her through his fingers, he studied her face. "I had no memories of being a Time Lord, I was completely human. I changed. Back then... and now. Oh, I'm still me. Still the Doctor. But I feel things differently now. And this place, this universe, it's different in more ways than just the zeppelins. It--"
"Tastes different," she told him matter-of-factly. "Sort of peppery."
He stared at her. She shouldn't know that. Shouldn't be able to tell. "How do you know that?" he asked, standing and moving toward her.
Shrugging, she stuck her hands in her pockets. "Dunno. Both Mum and Mickey think I'm mental."
"You're not. It's there, a deep down... taste. A feeling that just sits in your belly and gnaws at your bones." Staring past her, trying to figure out the feeling, he frowned. "It itches. It..."
"Burns," she finished for him.
"Yes," he nearly-shouted, grabbing her arms and shaking her a bit in his excitement. "What is that? Whatever it is, you shouldn't be able to feel it. You're just a human. I'm a human-plus, so of course I feel it, but-- what is that?" he asked in irritation, feeling it crawling along his skin and digging under his bones.
"It's the realization that you're stuck here, in the wrong universe for the rest of your life. It's the knowledge that you'll never get back again. It's finality."
"Oh, don't be so maudlin," he griped. "You're so cynical. Is that what I did to you? Turned you into a cynic?"
She opened her mouth to respond, and he noticed that she didn't even have to stop to think about it, but a loud knock on the door cut her off.
"You all right in there, sweetheart?"
Sighing, Rose turned from him. "We're fine, Mum."
There was a pause, and then, "Are you sure?"
"All right, then," came the slow response. "Goodnight."
Rose didn't return the sentiment and the Doctor felt the urge to cover her rude manners with a cheerful one himself, but he didn't. Jackie was already walking away anyway.
"You know, you're very rude to Jackie," he felt compelled to point out.
"She wanted to make sure we weren't in here shagging, Doctor," came Rose's exasperated reply.
"Oh. Well, she can rest assured there won't be any shagging in this house with us. Or with anyone else. I have no desire to shag anyone anywhere near where Jackie happens to be. Even had I wanted to shag you." Curling his lip up at her offended look, he bit back words that would only wound, something he was trying not to do any longer.
Not to Rose.
Still, he'd somehow hurt her feelings anyway, a hazard he was realizing was far too hard to avoid now.
"Stop that," he mumbled, dropping to the foot of the bed, hanging his head in his hands, unsure who he was talking to. "Is this what you imagined? Life with the Doctor? Isn't it splendid?"
"Not hardly." She sat beside him, close, but not touching, and he was offended. "I'd imagined a long, long life in the TARDIS with-- you."
She didn't say anything and he lifted his head, angry eyes boring into hers in the mirror across from them.
"You mean him. Not me. Say it." A pit settled in his stomach, drawing tighter and tighter, inching up to his chest, filling him with something. Something hard and cold and furious. This part of being human was beyond anything he'd ever felt--well, while he was still in full control of his memories anyway--and he didn't like it.
He wanted to make Rose hurt, and he wanted to comfort her.
Why was it all so hard, so contradictory? There was a dichotomy inside of him that fought and raged for dominance.
"Just say him."
"You can go to hell," she snapped, pushing to her feet. She strode across the room and he braced for the slamming door to rattle in its frame, but she stopped short, turning to face him angrily. "And where exactly do you get off? Think you're the only one left behind? I've been here for six years." She pointed at her chest, and the blue leather jacket zipped tight over her pink shirt made him hurt.
Made him want to cry and laugh at the same time. It hurt, deep down in his chest, in his throat and the lump forming there.
"Six years." It seemed like a long time to her, but to him, it was a blink of an eye. Used to be anyway. "Six years," he repeated, standing up, facing her, facing the person he was tied to more than anyone else. The person he loved, but right now, couldn't stand to look at. "Six years. That's nothing."
Dropping to the bed again, anger exhausted, he flopped back, closing his eyes.
"It's a lot to a human. It's a lot to me." There were tears in her voice, and probably in her eyes as well. He'd seen them often enough, he didn't want to see them now. "It's a lot when the man I-- you left me, Doctor. You left me behind and you didn't come back. I came back for you."
"With a little help from a Dalek army," he chuckled, smile dying quickly.
The light hurt his eyes, and he curled up on his side, away from it. Away from her and the raging feelings she gave spark to. Opening his eyes, he stared at the duvet, purple and orange beneath him, rubbing his finger along the stitching. Maybe he should get a purple suit with an orange tie. Keep the red shoes and become a clown.
"Doctor." Rose sat on the bed, dipping it down beneath him, blocking the purple and orange. His eyes rose to her face, taking in the concern in her eyes and the tight press of her lips. "Does being human make you brood and pout? Does it turn you emo?"
She smiled and his heart lightened, though he didn't want it to. This universe hurt and she was the only bright spot in it, which meant he was close to being dependent on her for his happiness. That was unacceptable. He was the Doctor, a Time Lord. And a human. He'd been on his own for much of his 900 years.
Lost a lot of people.
Rose sighed and lay down on her back beside him, staring up at the ceiling. "I miss you." He saw her hand, open and empty between them.
"I'm right here."
"But you're not. You're not being him."
Rolling onto his back, he shouldered her over an inch and stared at the ceiling with her, feeling her body heat brush against his. She smelt a bit like burnt things. "I'm not 'being' anyone, Rose. I am the Doctor, plain and simple. Not like I can turn it off like a switch. I just am."
His fingers brushed hers, but she didn't take his hand and something broke in him.
She was silent for a few moments, then sighed. "Yeah, well, you stay here and mope then. I'm going to bed." She turned her head to his, but he refused to do the same, ignoring her as much as he dared. "Had a bit of a full day," she continued, frustration evident in her voice. "Saved two universes, defeated an alien race, and found and lost the man I love." He stayed silent, and she sighed again, pushing up.
"Stay with me," he murmured, fingers sliding down to take possession of her hand. If he lost her now, if he let her go, let her walk out that door, would he lose the very tiny, teensy, bitty feeling of home that still resided deep down in him?
The feeling that he hoped was still buried in him, but might not be at all.
She stopped, but didn't immediately move. After a few seconds, she lay back down with a frown, threading her fingers with his. "Why? You said--"
"Because you're all I have left now. He took everything else from me."
They stayed there, staring up at the ceiling, holding hands and breathing in unison. The awkwardness slowly slipped away with each exhale. It didn't have a place between them now. They'd chased away the discomfort and brittle feelings that ate at both of them, but he knew they'd be back, knew there'd be fury again.
It was still roiling inside of him.
The Doctor, the other Doctor had stranded him on one planet, in one country, in one city, and that was unacceptable.
A lot of things seemed to be unacceptable to him now. Would that be his life from here on out? Oh, no, I can't eat that, it's unacceptable. Can't buy that particular hammer, it's unacceptable. There was no way he'd ever live in a house like that, it was unacceptable.
Would he ever even need a hammer?
His lip curled up. It wouldn't be sonic.
Sonic tools--specifically screwdrivers--were integral to his life. Always had been. He could try to whip up another, but it wouldn't be the same. The TARDIS wouldn't have a hand in it and that was...
His life was unacceptable. This existence he'd been forced into for the sake of a man who bore his face and tore his hearts out with startling regularity. He was new, and he wouldn't do that. Wouldn't be the man he used to be. He'd love the woman he used to, but not as that man who needed the pain to go on.
Needed the happiness he forced on others in order to keep going.
He'd hurt and feel and bleed and hurt back, but he wouldn't abandon Rose again. He wasn't the same monster he used to be.
Or was he?
"Do you think me a monster?" he asked, watching Rose's mouth thin and turn down out of the corner of his eye. "Wiped out a whole Dalek fleet, didn't I? Born in battle and all that." Born in battle, he thought snidely. Only difference between him and his other self was that he'd had the guts to pull the switch. They'd both been faced with destroying the entire Dalek race. He'd done what was needed.
And it wasn't like his other self hadn't gone after a Dalek with a huge gun, not to mention two wires that he hadn't been able to wrap together until it was too late.
Born in battle.
That was him in his last body. That was him after the Time War.
"Is that what you think I am?" Rose shot back, and he could hear the uncertainty in her voice, see it in her face, though she was staring back at him defiantly. "I killed that Dalek fleet and made you regenerate."
He knew she wasn't asking about how he saw her, knew it was the other him she was concerned about. "No, Rose. I-- he loves you."
She turned away with a wince, sitting up and putting her back to him. Dropping his hand. "Stop saying that."
"It's the truth," he told her earnestly, sitting up slowly, scooting to the foot of the bed again. "It's not something special, held back. He ran out of time that first day on that blasted beach. Tonight... tonight he was making it easier on you. He was planning on leaving us behind almost from the moment he first saw me. Saw an opportunity, and he took it."
Eyes hard on her, he felt shame flow through him because he was enjoying tearing himself down in her eyes.
"That's your precious Doctor, Rose. The man you spent six years searching for."
Striding to the door, she tossed out a few words of absolute truth. "You're not him. You're a bastard."
He thought maybe he was. "I am what he made me."