Title- Visual Records
Characters/Pairings- 4/I and II, 8/II, onesided 10/Rose, sort-of-onesided 10/any!Romana platonic 3/Jo and 4/Sarah Jane, snapshots of others
Summary- Rose thought she'd come to terms with the knowledge that she's not the first, but when she stumbles across those visual records of previous TARDIS inhabitants, she begins to wonder... Post-School Reunion.
A/N- This was inspired by that missing scene (from between Flesh & Stone and Vampires of Venice) when Amy sees the visual records of all the Doctor's girls and her response, rather than being angry and betrayed by the realization that her thousand-year-old friend had *gasp* traveled with people before! wasn't, "OH MY GAWD I THOUGHT I WAS SPECIAL, WAAAAAAHHH!" but rather, "Wow, good on you, Doctor!" And then I started wondering how Rose would react to the same information and... well... this happened. A few early companions got left out, but only because I haven't seen a lot of late Hartnell/early Troughton (understandable, I think, since half of it is totally MIA). Also, I have no idea where Mickey is. Maybe it's post-AoS...
"Aggressively, we all defend the role we play,
Regrettably, time's come to send you on your way.
We've seen it all, bonfires of trust, flash floods of pain,"
It was one of those nights when the TARDIS was drifting through the Vortex, humming happily to herself, and there wasn't another sound in the universe but those made by the ship. Ordinarily, the TARDIS would have been bouncing around like a mad thing, but the Doctor, for the first time in what Rose was sure must be a month, had actually pronounced himself to be tired. Without the pilot mucking about in the console room, the TARDIS was free to make her own way, and the flight path was steady and smooth.
The Doctor might be dozing, but Rose, on the other hand, was wide awake. Their last little adventure had culminated in her spending almost forty-eight hours drugged unconscious in some kind of medical experimentation facility on Raxel 4. She had had quite enough of sleep, thank you very much, and in the Sandman's absence, she took to wandering the TARDIS' vast interior.
Rose spent a few minutes in the garden, but it wasn't really what she wanted to do with her time. She wanted to be up and around and doing something productive. Sitting around flower-gazing wasn't helping her restless mind. She proceeded to the console room, running her hand absent-mindedly over the TARDIS controls as she walked around the high-vaulting room.
Suddenly, a small jolt of electricity shot through her finger as it passed over a button, making her jump. She froze, staring at the console. She brushed her hand across the offending spot again, and again the little spark jumped to her. She pulled her hand back sharply, sucking her tingling fingertip.
"What do you want?" she whispered around her fingers.
A blast of cold air shot down from some unseen vent just behind her, driving her closer to the console instinctively.
"Alright, alright!" Rose exclaimed. She put her hand back over the little black button, and hesitated for a moment (because she was all too aware that if she had misinterpreted the TARDIS' cues and she wasn't meant to be doing this, she could quite easily cause a great deal of trouble). Then she pressed down.
The scanner screen showed a scrolling of characters she didn't recognize, then cleared itself to be replaced with English lettering.
TARDIS VISUAL RECORDS ACTIVATED printed itself on the screen.
Rose blinked. Visual records? What?
-SPECIES DESIGNATION CATALOGUE
-PREVIOUS TARDIS INHABITANTS
-SOLAR SYSTEMS CATALOGUE
-TARDIS LOCALE DESIGNATIONS CATALOGUE
At first, Rose almost requested the Gallifrey file. More than once, the Doctor had let slip tidbits about his mysterious, long-lost home, and resisting the temptation to gain a glimpse into his planet's past was nearly impossible. Her curiosity, however, was piqued by the label 'Previous TARDIS Inhabitants.' She thought about Sarah Jane and the revelation that she was just the latest in a series of the Doctor's traveling companions.
Well... maybe she could find out a little about her competition.
"Um, previous TARDIS inhabitants... please," Rose said uncertainly.
Immediately the screen cleared of text, replaced instead by an image of a young girl with short-cropped black hair, wearing a striped shirt and a bright, sunshiny smile. She couldn't have been more than fifteen. With her were a middle-aged couple, and they were standing around what could only be the TARDIS console (though one that was vastly different from the one she knew) smiling and laughing, the older woman wearing an Aztec headdress. She contorted her face into a series of silly expressions, sending the other two into riotous laughter while an elderly man stood in the corner.
Rose wondered which of the men was the Doctor. She decided it must be the younger of the two; his jovial expression was one she felt would sit well on her Doctor.
The video disappeared, replaced in quick succession by a series of snapshots: a young woman with straight blonde hair and a toothy smile, an austere dark-haired woman with a space suit and a gun, a girl with short, dark hair and a pageboy cap, a stunning brunette in a sparkly violet catsuit, and a tall man in a kilt with a woman in Victorian garb clinging to his arm.
Rose realized with a start that the dress the beautiful blue-eyed woman was wearing in the picture was the very one she had worn the night she met Charles Dickens.
Next came a short video clip of an auburn-haired woman in a lab coat (and a miniskirt and high-heeled boots that Rose couldn't avoid noticing she wore very well), smirking at a tall man in an odd black-and-lace ensemble with a cape, both of them working on that strange, white-and-metallic TARDIS console, which had somehow been removed from the ship proper. At that, the ship's lights brightened for just a moment, and she let out a pleased hum. Clearly, the TARDIS had liked this woman, whoever she was.
Rose settled into the jump-seat to watch the rest of the sickening show.
After the scientist-lady came a series of clips showing an offbeat-looking woman, not all that much older than Rose, with the same tall man (whom Rose supposed must have been a previous regeneration of the Doctor's), standing in the TARDIS control room or wandering around what appeared to be a military base or standing on some strange alien world. More than once, she noticed the Doctor gazing down at the excitable young woman with the same kind of warm look she had seen in his eyes more than once when he looked at her. She felt a little sickened. The Doctor had said she was special, that she was different from the others, but here he was, giving that special look to someone else!
Her stomach settled when the familiar face of Sarah Jane Smith appeared on the scanner. She was much younger, but it was undoubtedly Sarah Jane, kneeling next to the Doctor as his face morphed into another man's, this one with wild curly hair and wide blue eyes. So, Sarah had also seen the Doctor through a regeneration, had she...? The clip changed. dressed in a charming white dress and holding the hand of the curly-topped Doctor, now dressed in a brown coat and an endless multicoloured scarf as they ran from a pair of huge mummies, both with expressions of barely-concealed glee on their face as they glanced behind them at their pursuers. A string of images of the two together followed.
After the pictures of Sarah Jane faded away, Rose's stomach was churning again. Sarah and that slightly terrifying, wild Doctor with the insane smile, had obviously been so close, every bit as close as she and her Doctor.
Sarah Jane was replaced by a video image of a wild-looking (but nonetheless beautiful) woman dressed in leathers and furs, who darted into the TARDIS, pursued by a furious-looking Doctor, and with a mischievous glint in her eyes began pressing random buttons on the TARDIS-console. A quick slideshow of the dark woman proceeded, which heavily featured her brandishing knives and holding an amazing assortment of weapons and looking like she really knew what she was doing with them.
The warrior's face faded from the screen. Her place was taken by another woman, and Rose gasped.
Other companions had been cute and beautiful and sometimes just a bit quirky. But the tall woman now displayed on the screen carefully drilling a hole in the TARDIS-console was some kind of extra-perfect that Rose had a hard time grasping. She was dressed all in white and silver, with a diamond tiara holding back her raven hair. Her face was so beautiful, Rose didn't understand how she could possibly be human. Her dark eyes were intelligent and cold, but as the Doctor with the scarf entered the TARDIS, Rose caught a spark of warm amusement in them that, though it was quickly suppressed, gave her face a life and character that only further enhanced her beauty.
Rose watched as the TARDIS showed her this incredible beauty and her adventures with the odd, bohemian Doctor, watching as the dark-haired woman easily bested the Doctor in contests of wit and will, as she was captured, rescued herself, and came charging to the Doctor's rescue on a white horse, as the Doctor's attitude toward her changed from confrontational to camaraderie. She watched them huddle together in very close quarters on a teleport pod, and caught the slight flush on the ice queen's face as she glanced up at the Doctor.
Then, the woman stood in a room somewhere in the TARDIS interiors, studying herself minutely in a mirror. She bit her lip, closed her eyes, and... changed. Her dark curls straightened out and became blonde, and her chocolate eyes lightened to a soft green, and she shrank a few inches. She examined the reflection for a moment, then nodded, pleased. She was no longer such a striking beauty, but Rose couldn't help noticing that the same luminosity, the same just-a-little-too-perfect glow, lingered just beneath her skin. Her appearance was a little off-beat now, more unusual, and Rose was sickened to realize that it only served to make her more eye-catching.
For a moment, Rose was baffled by the change of appearance, and then it hit her- regeneration. That explained the woman's inhuman beauty- she must be a Time Lord! One of the Doctor's own people! Who was she?
She watched the pair battle Daleks dressed in matching outfits (in Rose's opinion, that was so cutesy it was almost obscene. Who did this bitch think she was? The scarf was such an obvious bid for attention it was almost pathetic!). She watched the two running hand-in-hand through Paris, grinning like fools and being silly. That series of clips culminated with the pair of them standing on the banks of the Seine, holding hands as the sun set. The newly-blonde woman glanced up at the Doctor, who in turn looked at her, and for the longest moment, Rose thought the pair would kiss, but instead they simply leaned their foreheads together, never breaking eye contact, just standing ever so close together and staring at each other. Somehow it seemed more intimate than kissing.
The rest of the Time Lady's tenure on the TARDIS was chronicled as well, but Rose wasn't really paying attention. That image of the two standing close like that was seared over her eyes, particularly the expression on the Doctor's face. She couldn't quite explain it. It was a bit like his Oncoming Storm look, in that she had never seen a human bear an expression of such intensity, but it was somehow simultaneously softer than that and much wilder.
At last, the blonde strode stoically away into an etherworld beyond a strange, mirrorlike barrier, leaving the Doctor and the TARDIS behind, now with sad eyes and a teenage boy in his company.
There, Rose thought, satisfied. I would never leave the Doctor! I know better than to give him up when I've got him!
The dark-haired teenager was joined by two others- a girl about his own age with a tiara and a shattered, heartbroken expression, and a pretty young woman with curly auburn hair. And suddenly there was a new Doctor, a bouncy thing with blonde hair and celery. Rose whole-heartedly approved of this Doctor.
After a long series of images of the three now traveling with the Doctor, the boy abruptly vanished from them, and the girls' expressions suddenly lacked some of the joy that had been there before. A little while later, a freckly red-haired man filled the vacancy. Not long after, the younger woman, the sad one, stopped appearing in photos as well. Then the older one vanished, leaving an empty space in the eyes of the young, blonde Doctor.
The ginger man was eventually replaced by a video of an American woman whose shirts, in Rose's opinion, were way too low-cut for decency. The woman seemed unbearably clingy from what the brief videos showed, and Rose desperately wanted to tell her to get her hands off the Doctor! Suddenly, the Doctor had curly hair again, coupled with an eye-popping rainbow coat that Rose made a mental note to bring up as often as possible later.
After the American, there were a few pictures of a redheaded woman with a button nose and fashion sense as questionable as that Doctor's. After her came a young woman who was quite obviously younger even than Rose who habitually wore a ponytail and a leather jacket with the word 'Ace' stitched on the back. Rose was impressed by what the TARDIS showed her of this girl, with her combat boots, her slingshot, and her ever-present cans of high-powered explosives.
The next video showed a woman with a careworn face being pressed against the exterior of the TARDIS and snogged passionately by a shaggy-haired man in a velvet coat. They spoke briefly, but Rose couldn't quite make out what they were saying. The man seemed to be pleading with the woman about something, but she shook her head and gave him a bittersweet smile. He returned in kind, then stepped into the TARDIS and it vanished. Realizing that the man was yet another version of the Doctor (and another one Rose liked rather a lot, were it not for the snogging), Rose immediately resolved to despise the woman. Who did she think she was...?
And then the image changed again, and there was the velvet-clad Doctor with his bright, eager face now looking older without actually showing any signs of aging. He stood leaning against the TARDIS console (now looking a bit more like the one she knew today, though not entirely the same), talking to none other than the awful blonde Time Lady Rose had thought was gone. The Time Lady was now dressed in white robes again, this time with an elaborate headdress to accompany them, all of it trimmed in gold.
Both of their faces were grave, but both of their eyes sparked up just a little bit as they appeared to relax in each others company. Rose didn't even bother to listen to what they were saying (she wasn't sure she could take it), she just watched them as they spoke.
The woman, too, looked aged-without-actually-aging. It was in the eyes, Rose decided. Those eyes that used to sparkle with childish glee now bore what looked like the weight of a dozen universes behind them. She had seen the same look on her Doctor's face when he spoke of Gallifrey. But now, the unpleasant cast was falling away from both of them as they just talked, quietly.
Very suddenly, though, the blonde straightened up, adjusted her headdress, and announced that she had to return to something called the Panopticon. The Doctor just watched her sadly. She turned to go.
Then, suddenly, the Doctor sprang into motion, reaching for her and causing her to spin around to face him. This time, he did kiss her, fierce and swift and just for a moment. When he drew back, her eyes remained closed for a longest moment, her face very still. She opened her eyes and Rose wondered if maybe her lips had twitched upward, just a little bit. She nodded slowly, then turned away again, walking out the TARDIS doors. The Doctor was left standing alone in the control room of his time ship, staring as she walked away from him again...
"What are you doing?" a voice demanded behind her, sounding angry.
The Doctor- her Doctor... or was he?- was standing behind her, looking like he was being burned up on the inside as he stared, not at her, but at the screen.
Rose bit her lip. "The TARDIS just brought this stuff up..." she said, and it was almost true. "Who was she, Doctor? Who was that woman?"
His pained expression increased. "Her name was Romanadvoratrelundar."
"That's worse than Raxicoricofal-fallapatorious," Rose muttered. "But it doesn't tell me anything! Who was she?"
"She was the last president of Gallifrey," the Doctor said, hands clenched into tight fists in the pockets of his trousers as he leaned against the railing in a stance that was anything but casual. "She was my best friend."
Rose glanced at the screen, which appeared to be responding to something in the Doctor's mind, and had returned to a frozen image of that night in Paris, with the two of them standing ever so close and holding each others gaze as if their lives depended on it. "Doesn't look like 'best friends' to me..." she said bitterly.
"What do you want me to say, Rose?" the Doctor demanded.
She let out a low growl at the back of her throat, frustrated at his obtusity. "I thought you said I was special!" she said loudly. "I thought you and I were... well, that we weren't just friends, or that we were heading that way, anyway. Except then there's this Romanadverti...vorta-"
"Romana," the Doctor interjected. "Just Romana."
"This Romana, and you and her were obviously... something. And I wanna know what! I think I have a right to that much, at least!"
The Doctor ran a hand across his eyes, pinching the bridge of his nose tiredly. "We weren't," he said shortly, finally looking away from the screen and at Rose. "Not the way humans do things, anyway. She and I traveled together for so long... I don't even know how long, anymore. Fifty years, maybe. We were very close."
Rose felt sick once again. He had said she was special... hadn't he? "Did you love her?" she asked harshly.
He was silent.
"Well? Did you?"
After another long pause, he let out a soft sigh. "I did," he said, and she could've sworn his voice cracked a little. "I did very much."
"Oh." Rose thought this must be what a breaking heart felt like.
"I... Rose, I've never really been able to come to terms with that," he said. It seemed that her interrogation had inadvertently opened the floodgates, and just in time for her to wish she'd never asked. "That particular regeneration I was in when I met her... well, I was very good at not seeing things, or at least not qualifying them. I knew I felt so much for her, but it was easier not to put a name to it. And then she left me. She sacrificed her freedom to stay behind in this tiny little pocket universe and free a people from slavery, and all of a sudden it was just like everything was empty. The TARDIS was too big without her. I didn't see her again until the Time War, and it would have been... inappropriate to pick up where we left off. We both had things to be going about. And then everything fell apart and I-I killed her. I killed all of them, but it's her voice that still screams when I... when I remember. Or dream. Romana's gone, and I will never have the chance to tell her that I..."
He broke off and shook his head, and Rose was amazed to see that his eyes were sparkling with unshed tears.
"I'm sorry," Rose said softly. "I... I didn't know."
The Doctor shrugged. "How could you have?"
"So, that's it, then?" she asked. "That's why you and I... aren't?"
He looked at her, and the shine of tears was receding. "Rose, I love you. I love you like a friend. You made me feel alive again after the Time War, and that in itself is kind of a miracle. But I'm not... I don't think I can ever see anyone that way again. Romana was it for me."
And that was that. Rose sucked in a deep breath through her nose to prevent herself from crying, and forced a smile. "I, um, I see," she said. "I'm... I'm really sorry. She sounds like she must have been pretty special."
The Doctor smiled a real, honest smile. "She was. Oh, believe me, Rose, she was."