Romantic Entanglements (5/5)
Fandom: Doctor Who
Series: Talk to the Hand
Characters: Ten-II, Rose Tyler, Donna Noble, Captain Jack Harkness, Martha Jones
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: Follows This Immortal Coil. Rose's attempt to spice up her love life goes a little awry. To put it mildly. Uses the 'alien sex pollen' cliché.
A/N: Contains some naughty language. Yay, I'm finally done! And before Valentine's Day, which makes this sort of timely. That was my plan all along, yep. Well, that's my story, and I'm sticking to it. It's not that humorous, sorry. I can do humor, I can do action, but I haven't exactly mastered humor and action together. Plus, I'm in a bit of a bad place right now, so it's hard for me to write humor.
Five - Jungle Love
Bad news: There's a vicious, carnivorous plant loose in the darkened cargo bay where Rose and the Doctor are prisoner.
Good news: Only one of them seems to be loose.
Bad news: One of them is more than enough to rip the two of them to shreds.
Good news: No… Rose can't come up with anything else. They're pretty much screwed.
Typical Torchwood mission, really, though she's usually better armed.
The Doctor leans in, lips nearly brushing her ear. "Stay low and follow me." She can barely see him, but she can hear the rustle of his skirt and follows the sound, crawling on her belly and expecting at any moment to feel the Hunter Plant's jaws close around her.
Her shoulder brushes the sharp corner of a crate and she suppresses a yelp as it tears through the flimsy cloth of her shirt and into her skin. She really hopes these things can't smell blood… She grits her teeth and continues onward. Something suddenly grabs her shoulder, and she nearly jumps out of her skin at the contact.
The Doctor pulls Rose to a sitting position beside him, behind a large crate that smells like rotten meat. "There's a hatch in the ceiling at the far end," he whispers into her ear. "I'll distract the plant, and you make a run for it; I'll be right behind you. Take the sonic - Gah!" he cries as he's suddenly hauled away from her. The sonic screwdriver topples to the grating with a clatter.
Rose, still groggy from being shocked, is slow to react. She expects at any moment to hear the Doctor being ripped apart limb by limb, and she's helpless to do anything. And then she hears an indignant voice yell, "Oi, stop it! That tickles!" She slowly raises her head above the crate, activates the screwdriver so she can use it as a torch, and stares at the sight before her.
The Hunter Plant has several vines wrapped around the Doctor and is pulling him close in what almost looks like an embrace. "Oh, this is awkward," he says as it rubs its petal-lined 'head' against the Doctor's chest.
"Um… Rose? I don't want to alarm you, but I think the ASP is finally kicking in, just not how I was expecting."
"What?" Now is definitely not the time for that, and Rose curses his wonky biology.
"It's just… the flower seems to like me. Really, really like me. I think it's reacting to the pollen."
What? Rose thinks, then Ohh… "You mean… it wants to…" She can't help it; she bursts out laughing. "This could only happen to you!" she chokes.
"Ew, Rose, it's a flower! It's not interested in that!" He hesitates. "I don't think, anyway. It's more likely to twine its vines around me… like so… and squeeze… much like it's… doing now… and then… it might pull my face to… its mouth and… ew, squirt pollen into my face… Oh, this sucks," he gasps.
Focused entirely on the Doctor, the plant doesn't react as Rose slowly approaches.
"So…" Rose smirks, "which of you is the female in this arrangement?"
The Doctor splutters, then sneezes. "Just get me out!" he chokes.
Rose hunts around for something to use to pry the vines loose. After a moment, she finds one of the prods on a rack near one of the cages and sends a jolt through a clump of vines. The plant hisses, then loosens its grip enough for the Doctor to shift and give her enough room to work on the largest vine. The Doctor wriggles all the while, making it impossible for the plant to regain its constricting grip, and after a few minutes, the Doctor is able to wiggle free.
"Come on, lets - " Rose begins. The Hunter Plant suddenly snaps out of whatever stupor the ASP had caused and lunges forward, closing its teeth around the prod. It snaps in half, the ends sparking briefly and causing the plant to reel back.
"Um… I think you made it angry, Rose," the Doctor says, backing away, in the direction of the hatch.
"It's just been cockblocked by the other woman, Doctor!" Sooo much wrong with that statement, Rose thinks. "How do you think it's going to feel?" Probably much the way she's been feeling all evening. Great; she's empathising with a plant. "Now, shut up and run!"
She whirls and sprints towards the ladder set beneath a small circular hatch. Strangely, the Doctor isn't surging ahead of her as he usually does when they're running, and she risks a glance back. He's running, but he seems to be having some difficulty with his boots on the grated floor. The plant is right behind him. He sees her concern and gives her an 'everything's all right' smile. She closes the distance to the ladder, the Doctor following gamely.
She slows when she hears the Doctor's footsteps falter, and she turns, afraid that he'd stumbled and fallen. But he seems to be taunting the plant to buy her time, and when he notices she isn't up the ladder yet, he yells, "Climb!"
Rose doesn't need to be told twice. She scrambles up the ladder and immediately sets to work on the lock. She tries to shut out the sounds of the fleshy roots scraping against the metal grating, the rustle of those serrated petals, and the clacking of wooden teeth. She focuses instead on the screwdriver's steady warble and the wonderful sound of the Doctor's boots as he climbs up the ladder behind her.
The hatch hisses and opens, and Rose scrambles through, scraping her shoulder and tearing her costume in her desperation to get to safety. Once she's clear, she turns and watches the Doctor, who is one rung away from the hatch's rim.
And then the Hunter Plant's snaggle-toothed maw closes on the tip of the Doctor's foot.
He yowls, and his grip slips. Rose lunges forward and grabs his hand, throwing her weight back to keep him from sliding down further. The Doctor kicks at the plant with his free foot, and manages to land a blow on its mouth. A tooth snaps, and the plant releases him. With Rose's help he climbs the rest of the way up and through the hatch. The moment his boots clear the rim, she slaps the hatch control and it snaps shut.
Rose slumps against the hull, sliding down it to sit on the metal grating until her heart stops feeling like it's going to explode out of her chest. She turns to the Doctor, who is sitting beside her. "Chased by a horny, jealous plant. That's a new one on me," she says, tone light. When the Doctor doesn't respond, she turns to him.
The Doctor is staring at the damaged boot as though he's just been betrayed by his best friend. He looks like he's in shock.
"Doctor!" she says sharply, trying to snap him out of it. "It's just a boot! You can replace it!"
"s'not the boot," he says dully. He shifts his leg so she can get a better look, and she gasps in horror at the bloody mess of his foot. "My toe… I liked that toe…
Oh, God… There's a lot of blood, and it looks as if his little toe and the tip of the toe next to it are gone completely. "We need to bandage that. Can you remove the boot?" The Doctor doesn't react, so she eases it off for him. She then removes her sash, which isn't exactly clean but it's better than the alternative, and carefully binds his foot. All the while he watches, unblinking.
"Come on, Doctor, we need to get out of here. We need to get medical help." She snaps her fingers in front of his face, but his only response is a slow blink.
She suddenly realises that this is his first time his hybrid body has had a serious injury, and he's clearly not taking this brush with his own mortality well. "Doctor?" She touches his cheek tenderly. "Come back to me," she whispers.
"Can't," he mumbles. "Dying."
"No you aren't," she says, keeping her voice very calm. "You're hurt, but you'll be fine once we get out of here."
"This wouldn't have happened to the other me," he says pitifully.
"Not true. Remember the Sycorax? Getting your hand cut off?" She takes his right hand and holds it in hers. "Turned out to be the best thing that ever happened to me."
He's starting to be more responsive, because his brow furrows at this statement. "Not gonna get another me," he points out.
Two of him. Now there's a thought. She tries to imagine putting up with two hyperactive genius trouble-magnets, one of which was grown from a toe. Who both want to sleep with her… Rose still has enough pollen in her system to spend longer thinking about that than is probably good for her.
"Um, Rose?" The Doctor sounds fully alert now, and slightly frantic. She wonders how long he's been calling to her. "I hate to interrupt what must be some really dirty thoughts, judging from the expression on your face - though I have no idea why my pain is such a turn-on; I'm a bit worried about you - but we're about to have a visitor."
On cue, there's a swirl of blue, and a dark shape steps out.
"Hello, ladies!" Jack beams. "Miss me?"
"Jack!" She'd spring to her feet and hug him, but the Doctor's hand is still curled around hers. "Where's Martha?"
"We found a survivor. Martha's tending to her until help arrives."
"Come on, Doctor." Rose gets to her feet and attempts to pull the Doctor up after her. "We need to get out of here.
"What's wrong with him?" Jack asks, dismayed.
"One of the plants bit his foot," Rose explains as she hauls the Doctor to his feet. He winces and immediately shifts his weight onto his whole left foot. He braces himself against the hull and takes a limping step, hissing at the pain when he brings his right foot down.
"I could take you out of here," Jack begins reluctantly.
"No," the Doctor says faintly. "We need to stop Hart. I'll be all right. What do you want to do?"
"I need to seize the ship." Jack's voice is curiously flat, and Rose and the Doctor exchange uneasy glances. "It needs to be intact if I want to prove to the Shadow Proclamation that he's responsible. So I'm going to confront him." He turns on his heel and strides down the narrow corridor, presumably towards the cockpit.
"Is it me, or does it sound like he's about to do something desperate and stupid?" Rose whispers.
"Yup." The Doctor takes one halting step and grimaces.,
"Here, lean on me," Rose offers her shoulder, and he gratefully accepts. She tries not to notice the trail of blood they're leaving as they slowly follow Jack.
Jack has a big lead on them, which is why they're unable to help when Hart suddenly steps out of a side passage, pushes him against a wall and kisses him. Jack responds at first, then suddenly stiffens and slips down Hart's body to the ground.
"New lip gloss," Hart explains. "Don't worry… it's mildly paralytic, but you're in no danger. You just won't be able to stop me from doing this." Hart brings his booted foot down on Jack's Vortex manipulator. There's a sickening crunch and a squeal of electronic feedback as the screen goes dark. Jack can only stare at it dumbly.
"And as for you two," Hart says, turning towards the Doctor and Rose, "I wouldn't try to come any closer. See that?" He points at a small sphere by the Doctor's foot. "Portable force field cell. Activated as soon as you two got too close. I'd stay right where you are unless you want another nasty shock."
Damn, he's right; Rose can see a faintly bluish distortion surrounding her and the Doctor. "Sonic?" she asks, handing it to him.
"Dampening field," Hart says, smirking. The Doctor makes a cursory effort anyway, which yields no results. Satisfied they're not going to escape any time soon, Hart turns back to Jack.
"Took you long enough to take the bait," Hart says, his tone disappointed. "You're getting old. And soft. The old Jack wouldn't have stopped to help that woman if there was a chance to stop me from getting away."
"Bait?" Jack whispers. "You… wanted me to find you?"
"Of course. Much easier to kill you that way."
Jack makes an inarticulate sound that manages to convey both his rage and bewilderment.
"Oh, Jack…" Hart crouches down and lovingly strokes Jack's hair. "Poor, stupid Jack… Don't go back to the Proclamation. Someone wants you dead, and the Proclamation has agreed to look the other way. But I can't do it, Jack. We have so much history together." He leans forward and kisses Jack's forehead. Jack glowers.
"All those people… dead because of you!"
"Unfortunate, yes. I like to be more hands-on with my killing… and I prefer that my victims deserve it." He pulls back the sleeve of his coat, exposing his Vortex manipulator. "Sadly, as long as I wear this, I really don't have much of a say in my life."
Rose leans forward for a better look, eyes widening when she realises the band is fused to his skin, and has been modified so it no longer looks like Jack's. "What is that?" she asks.
"A bomb." The Doctor's voice is grim. "One wired into the manipulator's temporal controls. Judging from the way time is warping around it, when it detonates it'll cause a localized temporal distortion. We used similar devices, in the War," he says tonelessly.
Hart's expression becomes one of respect. "You're far more clever than you look," he says. "Maybe it's a good thing you didn't die after all. Yes… if this is detonated, I'll be caught in a time anomaly. Parts of me will age, other parts will rejuvenate… It will be an excruciating way to die… assuming he lets me."
"He who?" Jack demands.
"Of course, I can't go back if you're still alive," Hart continues. "That's why I had to destroy your manipulator. And why I'm going to blow up your ship. He'll think you're dead and leave you be. Don't worry about the Hunter Plants, either; I've used up all of the spores, and this was my last stop tonight."
Hart removes the electric prod from his belt. "If anyone asks, I killed you," he says cheerfully, touches the end to Jack's shoulder. Jack spasms, then passes out. "And now for you two," Hart says, turning to Rose and the Doctor. He touches a button on his wrist strap, and the force field snaps off. Once again, he's too fast for Rose to avoid, and he rams the prod into her chest.
"Not again," Rose moans as the electricity courses through her and everything goes dark.
When they wake up, they're in a heap on the porch of the last victim's home, and there's a smouldering wreck where Jack's ship had been. Martha is beside them, and she cries out in relief when Jack opens his eyes.
"What happened?" Martha demands.
"He stranded us… We're stuck here. At least it's your time period."
Rose groans, finding it harder to clear her head the second time around. "Doctor?" she mumbles.
"Check them," Jack continues. "They've both been shocked twice, and he's injured."
The Doctor is slumped against the railing, eyes closed and face pale. Martha checks him over, first with the scanner and then using her own medical skills. Her brow furrows. "It's hard to say, since he's only part human, but his vitals are good. He's suffering from blood loss, and I wouldn't be surprised if he picked up an infection walking around like that, but he's doing surprisingly well." She gave Rose a reassuring smile. "He'll be all right." She steps over to Rose and starts checking her over, resuming her conversation with Jack as she carries out her examination.
"But why would he do that? Why not just kill us?" Martha wonders.
"He tried to kill us," Rose says sullenly.
"He doesn't know you. John and I… have a history," Jack admits. Somehow, Rose isn't surprised. "We were lovers, and I guess he still has feelings for me." Left unspoken is the fact that he obviously still has feelings for John, as well.
"And I thought my relationship was messed up," Rose mutters.
They can hear sirens in the distance, the ambulance coming for the survivor. Rose hopes Torchwood is with them, because there's no way they can take the Doctor to a regular hospital.
"So, what are you going to do now?"
"I don't know. I won't be going back," Jack says forlornly. "Not because of this," he holds up his wrist, showing the damaged Vortex manipulator, "but because of him. He set us up to die, and he can't have been acting alone. Someone at the Proclamation wants me out of the way. " He smiles faintly. "I make more money for one night of stripping than I did in a week with the Proclamation, anyway."
"So, you're staying here?" Rose asks.
He nods. "I'll take Martha home, and then…" Jack shrugs. "Maybe I'll see you around."
Rose takes his hand. "Good luck, Jack. If you ever want a job at Torchwood, I could find a place for you."
"Thanks, but I've lost my taste for the alien-hunting business. Maybe someday…" he flashes her that thousand-watt grin. "Come on, Martha."
Martha shakes her head. "I'd like to stay with him until help comes," she says. "I can find my own way home." Her voice is flat. Rose can relate; she knew what it was like to be free to travel time and space, only to have it all snatched away from her.
As the ambulance pulls into the drive, a Torchwood SUV right behind it, Jack disappears into the night.
~oOo~"You still have breasts," are Rose's first words when she enters the Doctor's room. She's not sure why they're the first thing she notices; perhaps it's because he's so thin that he seems to sink into the Torchwood medical gurney, making them all the more obvious. Or maybe it's because she's not sure how to talk to this frail, injured version of her beloved. The Doctor's eyes slowly open. They're a little foggy from the pain medication, but he's aware enough to smile when he recognises her.
His eyes roll downward, to examine the large peaks visible beneath his hospital gown. "So it would seem. I think I've successfully field tested this adhesive," he says thickly.
"How are you feeling?"
"Not bad. They gave me the good stuff." He gives her a loopy grin. "So, what's the damage? No one's really explained it to me while I was coherent enough to understand."
"You lost the little toe, and part of the fourth. The fourth and middle toes are broken. Your foot will be in a cast for a bit, but the way you heal, you'll be out of it in no time. You can come home tonight," she smiles warmly.
"You mean… you still want me?" he asks.
"What?" She blinks in bewilderment. Is he actually worried she won't want him now that he's hurt? She hopes it just the drugs. "Honestly, you're such a baby sometimes! You have one less heart than the Doctor and I still love you – why would one less toe change my mind?" She brushes her hand through his hair, pushing a strand out of his eyes. "Don't worry, love," she whispers. "I'll take care of you."
He smiles weakly. "That's not what I mean… This is just one more reminder that I'm not him. That I'm… mortal. That I can die, really die.""So can I. So can my family, my friends, my coworkers… everyone, really." She leans over and kisses his forehead. "Welcome to humanity." There will be more discussions about this, she knows. More uncertainty, more angst, as he adjusts to this first real brush with his mortality.
That should wait until he's able to think more clearly. She decides to distract him with her news. "The board suspended Owen for a month for purchasing and distributing dangerous substances." Rose rolls her eyes. "Never mind that the board knew about the ASP and were his biggest customers. He's also getting demoted, which means there'll be no living with him when he returns." She shudders theatrically. "Good news is, we hired a replacement with just as much alien experience and a much better bedside manner." She grins widely, her eyes dancing. "She was working on you, in fact. Dr. Martha Jones, I think is her name."
The Doctor brightens for a moment, then wilts. "She didn't seem to like me much," he sighs.
"To be fair, she thought you were trying to breed an evil army of flesh-eating flowers. I wouldn't like you, either." She pats his shoulder. "Don't worry; you're actually very charming when you're unconscious. I'm sure you won her over."
He sighs. "Hope so. She might have new insight into my hormonal problems," he muses. "Speaking of which… I'm sorry last night didn't go so well."
"It wouldn't be a proper night out with you if things went well," Rose points out dryly. "Don't worry about it. We'll be fine. Sooner or later, your hormones will settle, and we'll go back to me having to fight you off every night when you're feeling frisky and I'm too tired."
Now he's grinning broadly. "I am starting to feel a little needy," he purrs.
"Not until you're a little better," she scolds him, but her heart flutters at the thought.
He pouts for a moment, then puts on a more serious expression. "And what about Jack? Any sign of him?"
Rose shakes her head. "No, but you know Jack. He'll find a way to survive. I'm sure we haven't seen the last of him."
A few days later, the Doctor hobbles into the Star's offices on crutches, Donna trailing behind him with his bag in hand. He receives a few curious glances, but is left alone for the most part. He hadn't like the cover story Rose had come up with that a car had backed over his foot (as if he'd do something so stupid as to stand that close to a moving vehicle!) but it drew less attention than 'attacked by a horny carnivorous plant.'
He heads to his editor's office, feeling more than a little nervous. Most of his work is done on a computer, but there is some legwork involved. What if he can't maintain his workload? What if they replace him?
Greg looks a little startled to see him. "I wasn't expecting you back until next week," he says.
The Doctor shrugs. "Can't keep a good journalist down," he says, dropping into the seat in front of Greg's desk. Donna hovers behind him, ready to hand the Doctor whatever he needs. He wishes he'd known sooner that being injured was the key to turning Donna into the perfect personal assistant.
Then he dismisses the thought. A mouthy, opinionated Donna is a much better friend.
"Besides," the Doctor grins, "I just wanted to remind everyone that I still work here. It takes more than a plant," Donna nudges him from behind, "er, a car, to get rid of me."
"Actually, I wanted to talk to you about that," Greg says, suddenly all business. "We've made some changes while you were out." He pauses significantly, and the Doctor pales.
"Changes? I was just… I mean… you didn't really replace me, did you?" he squeaks.
Greg takes pity on him. "Your celebrity column is secure. However, we found another writer for the homosexual life column, one who was ready to take over right away. I hope you don't mind."
"Not at all," the Doctor says, grinning with relief. No more clubbing! "It just… wasn't my thing." Now he just has to worry about the rest of his workload. Fortunately, he can interview celebrities while seated. "So, what's the new writer like?"
"He hasn't had much experience as a writer, but he's certainly knowledgeable in other matters. About half our staff - women and men alike - have already offered to help him with editing."
Oh, now that isn't fair, the Doctor thinks. He'd had to ask Rose to help him before he was finally offered his pick of assistants that had already been rejected by the rest of the staff. "He's here now, if you'd like to meet him," Greg continues cheerfully. "We were about to head out to lunch and discuss the column." He opens his office door and gestures for someone to come inside. The new hire is tall, handsome, and utterly familiar.
"You have got to be kidding me," the Doctor and Donna say in unison.
Of course, his replacement is Captain Jack Harkness.
Shoot, Martha didn't do as much as I would've liked. I'll try to use her more in the future. And I borrowed more from Torchwood than I was planning when it came to John Hart. And yeah, I know, lots of unanswered questions here. Sorry.
Also, before anyone thinks the Doctor's over-reacting with his injury, not long after I plotted this part out, someone I know actually suffered a similar injury under rather horrifying circumstances. It's been months, and he's still on crutches and needs pain killers. I'd had no idea it could be such a traumatic thing and I would rather not have found out this way.
Much to my annoyance, despite the fact that I have several serious fics clamoring for my attention, I have more ideas for this series and they're making it hard to focus on anything else. The next planned chaptered story is going to use the dreaded baby!fic cliché. *shudders* I also have a one shot 'Rose had Bad Wolf powers cliché' story planned for right after this one.