I had intended to post this a week after the first chapter was up, but I lost track of time and ended up leaving for Austria...and then came Kentucky, and then parents, the masters of indecision. I only thought KY would last two weeks, I swear! So here it is now, three weeks of Europe and a month of farmwork later. Unfortunately, I'm going to be gone for the next week on anothervacation after this, but I'll do plenty of writing while I'm away, and I'll come back with a shiny new chapter to add!
Anyway, because I'm posting this from my tablet and can't use the editor, I've had to do all of the formatting manually. If any of you guys spot any errors, where /slashed/ words haven't been turned into italics or whatnot, just say so. I couldn't have appreciated all of the reviews more, and I'd love another comment or two on this installment.
Finally, how many if you guys are House/Who crossover fans? I'm thinking of doing one of those with Eleven. Just tell me what you think. In a review!
"Think of them as windows."
No one had tea. No one had chairs. Amy was sitting on the floor, legs crossed and long red hair curtained around her ears. John sat on one of the couch's armrests, while Rose sat on the other. The Doctor stood, his hands illustrating his words in all-encompassing gestures, his eyes bright and as wise as they had ever been. They were deep, deeper than John's, dark and evenly set above too-prominent cheekbones like gems that would be hard to cut from the rocks. Rose couldn't stop examining his new face, nor could she stop comparing and analyzing his new personality with the one she had known. The one she knew now, through John. The Doctor himself seemed more alien today than at any other time she had known him, even more so than in the days of American museums and the endfires of the world. He was younger than ever and yet he insisted that he was indeed older than he looked - and, of course, she knew that it was true. He was witty and cheerful and had a mouth that just wouldn't stop, but after six years of absence Rose really couldn't laugh as heartily as she used to do. She was beginning to see the oddities her mum had seen. It came from time apart. She didn't know what to say, and she certainly didn't know what to think. But she tried to act normal anyway, because she felt odd rehashing the whole Christmas incident, and she didn't want to insult him in front of his traveling friend. So she laughed at his jokes and listened to his stories and did her best to cling to his every word.
"You see, not every planet in the cosmos has a copy in an alternate reality. It's just a few of them where the universe itself has converged, where it's 'folded over' and the fabric of reality is mirroring itself. But it's like atoms against atoms, they don't actually touch each other, they just come very, very close. Close enough to make a reflection, but far enough for there to be a bit of a gap. That's where you almost got caught, Rose, after that little Dalek problem we had."
"But it's not a mirror, more an ocean or a lake. And sometimes, there's a ripple. Someone on one side can get to the other side if they use the power from the surge to jump to the other side of the gap. It's highly dangerous and completely unreasonable that anyone should do it, and it's absolutely nothing like a ripple in an ocean or a lake or any other body of water you can imagine, but that's how we got here." He paused for a quick breath. "Why we're here is a completely different question, but it's not the one you're thinking I'll ask, and the question is this: how did you manage to activate the TARDIS energy left in your body? And how did you condense it? And whois she?"
He was looking intently at the Keltane. She was beginning to stir, and as she did she also began to realize that she was in a great deal of pain. A groan echoed through her slack lips, just as Amy asked, "Whatis she, that's what I'd like to know."
"She's a keltane, merchant of the universe, but she's a bit far from home. And that's why I'm curious."
"What's she doing here..." he wondered absently, moving closer to the slowly waking foreigner and folding his long legs into a crouch on the floor. He scanned her quickly; a flick of his wrist and he was done. "She's all right, she's just shocked." Then he grinned. "We already knew that, though." He snapped the screwdriver shut, then replaced it in his pocket with a flourish. "She'll be up and about within five minutes."
"And haven't you got any tea?"
Rose was in the kitchen, waiting for the water to boil and leaning heavily on the ceramic counter behind her. She was looking at her cabinets, banana yellow with designs painted in green, and enjoying the nostalgia of the colors. She'd always wanted to repaint them - still did, in fact - but the designs were Gallifreyan in origin and she wasn't sure if John would want to redecorate them. Especially if she ended up choosing the colors. He had odd tastes, and she'd never quite known the extent of them until she'd begun living with the man. Traveling with him wasn't the same; she'd always slept at least three times as much as he, and therefore she'd only ended up seeing a third of the eccentricities he was capable of. Now she got them all, and because he was so stubbornly himselfa lot of the Torchwood staff got them, too.
The Doctor had appeared out of nowhere, hopping up to sit on the counter across from Rose-and, consequently, to block her view of the cabinets.
"Are you hiding, Rose Tyler?"
His voice was kind, possibly even amused, and there was a flicker of a smile around his lips...but Rose still felt like she'd just been chastised. She looked away from his gaze - so much more piercing than it used to be - and then down, examining her bare feet against the pale linoleum floor. There was a long silence before she realized that he wanted her to say the first word, and then she admitted, "I don't really know."
"It won't be anything like Christmas, you know." Rose, mildly surprised by his guesswork, opened her mouth to speak, but something in his eyes made her close it again. "I only have to get used to you," he continued, "and you just have to get used to me. It's been a while since I regenerated." He shifted a bit and smiled. "It won't be as bad as all that."
She shook her head. "I don't want it to be like Christmas."
He chuckled at the joke they shared, but fell silent when he realized she wasn't going to laugh. She looked up when he got quiet again and saw him eyeing the cupboards behind her head. "Gallifreyan," he said.
She smiled. "Yeah. Terrible colors, but I didn't want to paint over it. I was afraid he might not want to decorate 'em again."
He grinned mischeviously. "Did he tell you what it says?"
Rose made a face. "Well..."
"He told you something..."
The Doctor pointed. "That's a recipe for banana muffins. Those two are booklists, that's a radio song that was popular in the 50's, and this-" he gestured at the majority of the writing "-is the entire first page of my once-favorite book." His grin got exponentially bigger. "It's complete gibberish."
Rose pouted. "He told me it was all some special Gallifreyan poem he used to love!"
The Doctor raised an eyebrow. "Well, not that I've got an excellent memory for past regenerations, but I don't think I was very fond of poetry back then." He rocked forward and then back, reminding Rose of a small child waiting for something. "Now that I think about it, I'm still not terribly fond of it." He made a face.
Rose laughed at his expression and then sobered. She found herself examining him, even though she knew it was rude and wanted to stop herself. She found that she couldn't. It was more than getting to know a stranger, it was getting to know an old friend, and he'd changed so much that she didn't want to look away.
"It's still me, Rose," he said softly. "I'm still the mad old Time Lord with a magic box."
Rose started to cry.
The Doctor frowned, worried despite himself and unsure about what he was supposed to do. Crying women were not his strong suit - at least, not in this particular incarnation - and it took him a second of consideration before he decided he ought to give her a hug. She had her eyes shut against the tears and he was sure that he surprised her a little when he wrapped his arms around her, but then she leaned into him and started to sob uncontrollably.
Oh no, now I've made it worse,he thought to himself, and quickly let go.
She wouldn't let him step away. He flailed a bit for an awkward second before he decided to hug her again, and she squeezed her arms tighter around his ribs. He could feel them through his clothes, so warm and soft and human, and he realized that he hadn't had a really good hug in a long while.
"You...stupid old man...you could've come back and you left and...you can't even...hug...properly...!" She could hardly speak through the tears, and her face was so firmly pushed against his chest that he had a feeling he was suffocating her. "I missed you so...muchand then you just...blundered off again...and I...I..." The sobbing got stronger, and suddenly it seemed she couldn't even speak. "And...then...you...changed!"
He didn't bother to say anything, he just held on tight.
"And you're still freezing...and I can feel your hearts...and I missedyou!"
"I missed you too...!" His grip tightened without him even realizing it. He hadn't meant to say a word, but there it was, and his eyes widened at his own admission. "Still, there was nothing I could do." They just stood like that for a while, until the kettle began to squeal and Rose finally had to let go. Her face was red and bleary, and she turned her back on him as she fixed the tea.
Amy popped in then, leaning through the open doorway to check on them. She had an odd look on her face, and she stared at the Doctor a bit longer than was necessary before she spoke. "That girl's awake now," she said, before dodging back out to join John on the floor. He'd been describing his toaster to her, but no matter how slowly he explained it all she just couldn't get the hang of it. Rose took a breath once the redhead had gone, splashed her face with some cold water, and then took the tea tray into the other room. The Doctor insisted on taking the biscuits, and there were at least two or three missing by the time the whole ensemble had been aranged on the coffee table.
"Well then," he said, rubbing his hands together eagerly, "Let's see what we've got here."
Kazrie shivered slightly beneath the blankets. She swallowed, realized that her mouth was completely dry, and moved a hand. Immediately her whole arm was aching, as well as her shoulder, a slice of her neck, and her head.
Somewhere far away, a voice said, "Oh, look, she's waking up!"
"What should we do?"
"I'll get some ice, and you get Rose, and then we'll do something else."
"I don't know what else, I haven't decided yet." The voice was ringing in Kazrie's ears, but it didn't seem like an angry voice. Merely an exasperated one. Still, she would have felt better if there hadn't been any voice at all. Her head was aching sincerely now, and she could feel her stomach writhing from the pain in her skull.
There was silence for half a minute, and then five fingers lifted her head delicately off the pillow and placed something cool and damp beneath the base of her hairline. She shivered again and prayed that the shivers, at the very least, would stop. Every bone in her body was hurting now, just because of them.
Akan, what did I do?
"You were electrocuted, actually. There was some extra TARDIS energy left over with Rose, and your teleportation belt caused it to arc. No harm done, really, but I suppose you'll be in a good bit of pain for another day or two. Aches from the muscles having cramped. Still, it's nothing you did. Don't worry about it."
Kazrie stilled. "D'd I say th't aloud...?"
"Yes." The voice sounded surprised. "But then again, you'll probably be a bit...bleh...for awhile. You know" The man seemed to be answering his own question. He had an odd accent.
Then there were more noises - a lot more. "Ah! Tea!" the familiar voice said.
"Oh! What kind?"
"You'll find out..."
"It's just Earl Grey."
"Well, it i - stop that!"
Plates rattled and papers were shuffled about. Kazrie cringed at every noise. There was a smack.
"Doctor! Stop it!"
Kazrie tensed at the name.
There was a third voice now, one that had an even odder lilt to the tongue. "And here's where he pouts."
"But they're good."
"Well then, we'll buy some more later." The first female voice was firm.
Kazrie forced herself to open her daylight eyes, cringing when her skull pounded all the more with the light.
"Oh look! She's awake!" The Doctor's voice - which Kazrie had taken to memory rather quickly - sounded eager and cheerful, but she refused to let that ease her tensions. A head loomed over her, dark-haired and foreign with its two deep-set eyes. So this was him...the Oncoming Storm, the Vengeful God, Akan's black-hearted brother. Kazrie couldn't help it - she cringed away from him into the pillows.
"Ah. Well." He turned away, presumably to look at his companions, then returned his gaze to her. "That's flattering."
The second male spoke up. "I suppose they must still be a bit upset about that incident with the Exatures..."
"Yes." The Doctor made a face. "'Akan's black-hearted brother', that's a bit...extreme."
Kazrie's eyes widened. How did he know?
"Who's Akan, then?" the girl with the odd accent asked.
"Their deity." There was a bit of an awkward pause after that.
Then the Doctor's face came back into view. "Don't worry, we're all here to help," he said with a smile that had none of the malice Kazrie would have expected. He just seemed...happy. She was having a hard time imagining him crushing her entire society in less than half a day...but still. He'd done it. There was more than enough evidence of that, and she refused to let herself relax at his words. "Just got to figure out what the matter is," he continued, and flicked a small silver device over her with a sweeping motion. She grit her teeth at the noise.
"Ah. I'll be rightback." And then he popped out of sight, rushing into the TARDIS with nary a backwards glance.
The Time Lord returned in less than five minutes with a long, thin bag that sported a very thick black industrial zipper.
"What's that?" Amy asked immediately.
"Med kit." Rose, John, and the Doctor spoke simultaneously. The Doctor continued. "The TARDIS keeps it stocked. I...well, I seem to forget."
"Be glad you've never seen it," Rose added.
"But how is thata med kit?" Amy pressed. "It wouldn't hold more than a stethoscope or two!"
"Ah." The Doctor grinned. "It's dimensionally transcendent.
John was grinning too. "It's bigger on the inside."
And then the Doctor proceeded to unzip the pack and reach his entire arm into the container, along with a bit of his head. "It only needs a zipper this long," he shouted, "so that the bigger stuff can come out!" His voice echoed inside the bag, but it was also muffled by the cloth on the outside. It was an odd mix.
"Aha!" He popped back out, holding a small container of pills that was rather more colorful than it probably needed to be. "This should do it." He turned to the girl on the couch and unscrewed thr bottle, removing one pretty green capsule. "This will get your muscles back into shape. Say 'aah'!"
The girl definitely did not'say aah'. "D'n't trust ya."
He rolled his eyes. "Oh, come on, my visit to your little planet was a very long time ago and they shouldn't have been selling slaves. Especially the nurses." He completely forgot the pill he was holding as he gestured about with his hands. "And I don't care whatthose nurses did to deserve it, they were much too smart to be forced into slave labour. They had a century of knowledge there, all built up, and your Exatures just wanted to sell them off to massage peoples' feet. It was a bad idea."
The keltane seemed to be gaining strength as the Time Lord spoke, though it certainly wasn't strength of support. "And you...couldn't just let it...go bad?"
The Doctor made a face. "Well...there were other races involved."
"If they wanted freedom..." she paused for breath ..."they should have fought for it!"
"But hundreds of them would have died, and they weren't only the Keltanes that got into the middle of that mess, either. Your society just had to have a bit of a new start, that's all."
She stared at him in disbelief and moved to sit up, only to find that she couldn't. It hurt too much. "We didn't even know what you'd done until half a century later. You ruined us, and you didn't even give us the chance to fight back."
"Yes, well, that's the nature of time travel. But I think you might feel better about arguing after you've taken this pill. Oh, look! It's pink."
She grit her teeth and glared.
"I'm not going to poisonyou, if anyone's going to get poisoned, it's going to be me. It doesn't take much on Earth. Trust me."
She still didn't move.
"All right." the Doctor sighed. "I'll just leave it here with your tea, and you can eat it later. It tastes like kirwitz, by the way." He got up, snatched one last cookie from Rose's plate, and made a dash for his police box.
Rose jumped up after him. "Doctor! Come back here with that!"