Author's Note: Shakespeareverse Story - Takes place about four years after "Where are you Roaming?" In response to a meme on lj earlgreytea68 requested a fic where Viola struggles with growing up. (Yes, you can still leave me new prompts! - I'm on LJ under LorelaiSquared)
A month late, but I'm FINALLY able to start posting these for you all. I'm so sorry for the delay but hopefully the length of this will help make up for it!
Special thanks to all my betas on this one. Your varied input was invaluable to the finished product.
Viola stormed into the library, slamming the door with such force that she actually felt the vibration. She roughly pulled a book from the shelf and flung herself onto the sofa with a dramatic huff. After a moment, she sighed and threw the book to the ground in frustration. She was bored and she hated being bored. Almost as much as she hated being left out. Which was exactly how she was feeling at the moment.
For the third time that week, her mother and the Doctor had left her alone on the TARDIS while they visited a new planet, because they claimed it would be too dangerous for her to join them. Granted, each of the planets in question had been experiencing civil unrest, but Viola knew she could handle herself - probably better than her mother and the Doctor, who had been imprisoned twice that week already.
Right now, however, they were off having a fabulous time on Sclumfarumphas without her. Viola glared at the closed door, imagining it was them. She heaved herself off the sofa and idly scanned the bookcase, randomly pulling books off the shelf, glancing at them, and shoving them back with more force than necessary. She had always wanted to visit Sclumfarumphas and she was absolutely furious with her mother and the Doctor for not taking her with them. In fact, her fury had grown to the point that she could barely contain it any longer. Abandoning the books, she stormed back to the sofa and buried her head into a pillow. She was sick and tired of always being treated like some helpless, child. She was a twelve-year-old Time Lord and she was perfectly capable of doing far more than either of them gave her credit for.
She screamed into the pillow, releasing some of the muddled emotions that were tying her in knots. Feeling marginally calmer than when she'd entered the library, Viola picked up her book again and attempted to read it. After reading the same line approximately ten times, Viola finally gave up and tossed it onto the cushion beside her, where it bounced twice before landing face down. A mysterious mark on the back cover caught her eye and she quickly scooped it up again, her anger completely forgotten as she examined the strange symbol.
It was Gallifreyan in nature and yet, oddly, it wasn't Gallifreyan at all - at least not anything she recognised. Suddenly excited, Viola leaped off the sofa and, with book in hand, dashed into the console room. With a few quick flicks of buttons and dials, Viola powered up the main computer and quickly scanned the symbol. She waited impatiently, twirling her chocolate curls around her fingers as the computer ran its checks. Finally it began to emit a loud, high-pitched whine as the results popped up on the screen.
Frowning, Viola zoomed in on the results, perplexed by what she was seeing. The symbol was indeed Gallifreyan, only it was neither current nor ancient. According to the TARDIS, it was a variation that came into common usage in the year 6,875,984. How was it possible to have a future evolution of a language that only she, the Doctor, and the TARDIS could understand?
Deeply intrigued, Viola made a split-second decision and rapidly began to prepare the TARDIS for departure. Glancing somewhat guiltily at the TARDIS's door, Viola reconsidered her choice for a moment as she thought about what would happen if her mother and the Doctor returned and the TARDIS was gone. Thinking of them reignited her fury, and she decided it served them right. If they were going to leave her out of their adventures then she had every right to go off on her own. Besides, she wasn't planning to be gone long. She'd just quickly nip into the future to figure out what the symbol meant and she'd be back in no time. They probably wouldn't even notice that she was gone.
Her mind made up, Viola refocused on her task, dashing back and forth around the console, twirling, twisting, and yanking on the controls until everything was set for her visit to 6,875,984. Inwardly holding her breath, Viola pulled the final lever and the TARDIS sped off through the Vortex.
The Doctor looked back at the TARDIS regretfully as he and Rose strolled hand-in-hand toward Farump, the capital city of Sclumfarumphas. He knew Viola was upset at being left behind again and he felt terrible for having to do it, but the political climate on this planet had always been rather volatile, and he felt it was far too risky. Besides, it wouldn't take him very long to obtain the parts he needed for the TARDIS from the market while Rose shopped for provisions to restock the kitchen. Perhaps he could make it up to Viola later by taking her on her own solo adventure. Yes, that would work! Feeling much better about the situation, the Doctor turned away from the TARDIS to see Rose watching him.
"She'll be okay," Rose assured him. "We made the right choice."
"I know," he sighed. "I just hate seeing her so upset."
Rose squeezed his hand. "I love that about you," she said softly.
"That you care about her so much that you can't stand seeing her unhappy." Rose stopped walking and stood on her tiptoes in front of him. "It's sweet," she whispered as she touched her lips to his.
He kissed her back, grinning from ear to ear as he pulled away. "I can't help it," he told her as they started walking again. "She's easy to love."
Rose laughed. "She is, isn't she?"
"She's very special," the Doctor swallowed a lump in his throat. "I can't thank you enough for sharing her with me. Especially after… well, after everything I did when you first arrived."
She stopped walking. "Doctor," she touched his cheek lovingly. "You need to stop beating yourself up for that. I forgave you a long time ago; so did Donna and Viola. It's time you forgave yourself."
"I know, it's just hard. Sometimes I can't help it. I feel like, well," he paused, "like I don't deserve the two of you." He closed his eyes for a moment, hating himself for the self-loathing that had suddenly resurfaced.
Rose pulled him into a warm hug, her heart aching to see him so upset. "It's not about what you do or don't deserve. It never has been. It's about life. And life is full of ups and downs." He tried to pull away, but she wouldn't let him and instead pulled him more tightly against her. "We've all got things in our past that we regret, but we can't let it govern our lives. You are allowed to be happy, that's not a crime."
Silence enveloped them as he carefully considered what she was saying. He knew she was right, but he couldn't seem to help feeling guilty from time to time. He sighed and gave Rose a quick squeeze before pulling away slightly and pressing a kiss to her forehead. "You're right, Rose, as usual. Thank you for reminding me of that. Sometimes I get lost inside my own head."
She shook her head with a half smile pressed against her lips. "I know." Her smile turned into a full grin. "That's why you keep me around." She kissed his nose playfully then bumped her shoulder against his, prodding him onward toward the city.
"That's not the only reason," he muttered under his breath.
Rose must have heard him, because she threw back her head in laughter. "Oh, Doctor, I really do love you, you know that?"
Before he could answer she kissed his cheek and started to run, pulling him down the hill after her.
Filled with pride, Viola landed the TARDIS smoothly and gracefully. The Doctor had been letting her pilot more often lately and, much to his chagrin, she was now much better at landing the TARDIS than he was. After double-checking the monitors to ensure that she was indeed in the right place, she shoved the book into the expansive pocket of the purple jacket that she always wore, then skipped down the ramp and out the door.
Instead of stepping onto Earth as she'd expected, Viola found herself on board a large, high-tech, aircraft that appeared to be from the future and was hovering in the atmosphere above a planet. It was covered with a dome that seemed to be made out of some kind of green translucent material. Several hundred similar aircrafts dotted the sky around her as far as she could see, and each with a coloured dome of it's own. They were all crowded with humans and aliens in every colour, shape and size imaginable. The aircraft she had landed on was dotted with thousands of patches of rich, earthy soil that had weird, stringy, blue vegetation growing from them. After ensuring that the TARDIS was securely concealed behind a large tree-like plant,Viola began to explore her surroundings more carefully. It didn't take her long to realise that she was in a massive marketplace.
Dozens of bright, colourful awnings covered stall upon stall of merchandise ranging from antiquities (she noted in particular a sign advertising 'old fashioned' mobile smart phones from the 21st century), to interplanetary relics (the most notable being a toothbrush-like object used by the inhabitants of Yaced), to valuable substances like Fellanktuck, (which she knew was often used as a natural fuel source in the Canubula Galaxy). She wandered through the market, pausing every once in a while to examine the more peculiar objects she found or to admire some of the unique works of art that were on display.
After some time, she came to a wide look-out point where she could clearly see several of the other aircrafts that hovered nearby. She shifted her gaze from ship to ship, noting that each one seemed to have a different purpose. One was filled with restaurants while others held hundreds of houses. Another contained a market overflowing with fresh produce and other foods, and still another seemed to be selling every type of textile known to the universe. She couldn't see any other ships well enough to make out what they contained, but she could only assume that each one had its own unique purpose. Large round pods that looked a bit like giant soap bubbles and reminded her of Glinda's bubble in "The Wizard of Oz" were carrying people from ship to ship.
Viola was so absorbed in studying this odd civilization that she'd nearly forgotten the purpose of her trip. It wasn't until she reached into her pocket for her sonic and found the book again that she regained her focus and remembered why she'd come. She was just turning the book over in her hands to examine the symbol again when someone passing by accidentally bumped into her and the strangest thing happened: the symbol began to glow. Startled, Viola dropped the book and instantly the glowing stopped. The person who'd bumped into her stopped walking and bent to retrieve it.
"Oh, I'm so sorry," the woman said genuinely as she crouched down, balancing precariously on her red stiletto heels. "I didn't see you."
"That's okay," Viola replied. "I wasn't really paying attention myself."
The woman chuckled and reached for the book. As her fingers grasped it, once again the symbol began to glow and when Viola gasped in surprise, the woman did as well.
"What is that?" the woman asked, quickly drawing the book toward her to look at the symbol more carefully.
"It's just a book," Viola said quickly, reaching to take the book back before the woman saw anything. Unfortunately, she wasn't quick enough and was forced to look on in horror as the woman ran her fingers over the symbol thoughtfully.
"Where did you get this?" the woman demanded, her piercing gaze making Viola uncomfortable.
"Not that it's any of your business," Viola said coldly, "But it belongs to my step-father." She snatched the book out of the woman's hand, noting briefly that the glowing had stopped, before she quickly returned it to the safety of her pocket.
"Your step-father?" The woman's eyes softened as she stared at Viola as though she were memorising every detail of Viola's features.
Viola found the reaction odd, but took the opportunity to do a visual study of her own. The woman was quite tall, and though she was definitely older than Viola's mother, there was a youthful quality to her that reminded her of the Doctor. The woman's blonde hair hung in wild curls that grazed her shoulders and bounced every time she moved her head.
After several awkward moments, the woman finally spoke again. "You're Viola, aren't you?"
Viola's eyes widened and her jaw dropped in shock. How could this strange woman possibly know that? "Who are you?" she croaked when she finally found her voice again.
The woman smiled somewhat sadly. "I've frightened, you, haven't I? I'm sorry. I really didn't mean to, it's just you're so young."
"We've met before?" Viola asked, feeling unsettled by the whole conversation. She'd known it was possible to meet people out of order, she was time traveler after all, but this was the first time it had ever happened to her.
"Of course we have," the woman responded, her tone indicating that she felt this fact was obvious. Her face softened and she laughed. "Well, judging from your reaction, this is clearly the first time you've met me. How exciting. I love beginnings."
Viola gaped at her. "Who are you? How did you get here?"
"If I told you, you'd miss the fun in finding out."
"Can't you just tell me?" Viola asked in frustration.
"Oh no. That would be far too easy." She reached out and took Viola's hand, shaking it. "It was so nice to see you again, Viola. I'm sorry, but I really should dash, I've been here far too long already."
She started to walk into the crowded market, then turned and spoke once more. "You should really return to where you came from, you're not supposed to be here."
"How do you know that?"
The woman smiled. "I just know." She started to walk away again then seemed to change her mind once more. "Oh, and Viola, don't bother asking the Doctor about the Gallifreyan symbol on that book. He won't know what it means - not yet. You'll both find out, in time, but for now, just let it be."
Viola blinked and stared at the woman incredulously. "You know about the Doctor? And Gallifrey? But how?"
"Spoilers!" The woman said smugly, her eyes alight with amusement.
"What?" Never in her life had Viola ever met anyone as infuriatingly cryptic as this woman. Even during his most nonsensical moments the Doctor made more sense than this odd woman.
The woman ignored her. "Oh, and Viola? Do be sure to tell the Doctor that Professor Song says 'Hello!'" With that, the woman spun around and vanished into the crowded market.
It had taken longer than the Doctor had anticipated to gather the necessary bits and bobs he wanted for the TARDIS and he was growing anxious about how long they'd left Viola alone.
"I hope she isn't starting to worry," he mused aloud.
"I'm sure she's fine," Rose assured him. "She's probably buried in a book in the library by now. You know how much she loves reading."
"Yeah, probably," the Doctor agreed although he wasn't convinced. He couldn't quite put his finger on it, but he had a strange feeling that something was wrong. "Have you got everything? We should really get back."
"Doctor, relax." Rose laughed. "We've barely been gone an hour. Viola is a big girl, she'll be fine."
"I know," he said wincing at the hesitation he heard in his own voice.
"You're cute when you're worried," Rose informed him. She leaned up to kiss him gently on the lips. "Just let me get some fresh milk and then we can head back."
"Okay," he agreed, relieved that they'd be going back soon. The bad feeling he had was growing worse, and while Rose walked over to the farmer to buy milk, he gently probed mentally for Viola, cursing himself for teaching her mental control when he found her thoughts blocked. He could still sense her presence, of course, but beyond that, she'd shut him out completely. He knew that, logically, she'd probably just blocked him because she was angry with them for leaving her, but he still couldn't shake the feeling that something wasn't right.
Much to his relief, Rose returned to his side a moment later and they were finally able to walk back to the TARDIS.
As they neared the clearing where they'd left the TARDIS, the Doctor's sense of foreboding increased.
"Rose, wasn't the TARDIS in that clearing when we left?"
Rose frowned and scanned the area. "I thought so." She stopped walking and looked at him in alarm. "You don't think Viola…"
She didn't need to finish the thought for the Doctor to know what she was asking. "Weeeell, she is getting pretty good at piloting it, it's not a complete impossibility."
Rose shook her head. "But she knows better than to do that. She knows I'll worry, especially after… " Her eyes glazed over as her thoughts wandered to the past. "Well, after what happened before."
The Doctor frowned. "What do you mean?"
Rose took a deep breath. "When Viola was five, she got it in her head that she wanted to try and find Gallifrey, so one night, when her father and I were sleeping, she flew the TARDIS by herself and landed somewhere near where Gallifrey had been. By the time we woke up and realised what had happened, she'd wandered onto the strange planet and something attacked her. When we found her, we thought she was dead." Tears were pooling in her eyes. "We didn't know if she would be able to regenerate - she only had one heart then and we thought that maybe she was more human than Time Lord."
As soon as the words were out, Rose gave into her emotions and tears began to spill down her cheeks. The Doctor immediately pulled her into a protective embrace and held her while rubbing her back and whispering words of comfort into her ear.
When she had composed herself again, Rose turned her head, resting it against the Doctor's torso as she continued. "It was awful. She was my baby, and she just lay there, looking so still and helpless."
The Doctor shuddered. Just the thought of it tore at his hearts. He'd known that Viola had regenerated before - she'd told him as much, very pragmatically, the day they'd met when she was seven years old, but he'd never heard the details before, never allowed himself to think about what that experience must have been like for Rose and his counterpart. "I'm so sorry you had to go through that, Rose," he murmured softly, hugging her more tightly.
She closed her eyes and hugged him back as she continued to relive the horror she'd felt eight years earlier.
Her voice was muffled when she finally calmed down enough to speak again. "I'm sorry. I thought I was over it, but I guess some wounds never fully heal."
"It's okay, Rose. I understand. That must have been awful."
She nodded. "It was. But she's fine now. Has been fine for years. But after that, she promised me she'd never do anything that foolish again. And now she's gone, with the TARDIS!"
The Doctor swallowed hard, suppressing his own concern in order to comfort his wife. "She's a good pilot, Rose, and she's not five anymore. We both know that she can take care of herself now. In fact, she could take care of herself quite well even at seven, so I have no doubt that, wherever she is, she's fine. She's a smart girl."
Rose smiled. "She is, isn't she? But still, she's so young, what if…"
"No, Rose, don't do this to yourself. If you start thinking about all the 'what ifs' you'll drive yourself crazy. The truth is…"
Before he could finish his sentence, the sound of the TARDIS appearing filled the air and it landed in the clearing beside them.
Viola had barely finished landing when her parents burst through the door.
"Viola!" her mother cried, pulling her into a tight hug. "You're okay."
"Of course I'm okay!" Viola said matter-of-factly. "Why wouldn't I be?"
"We came back, and you were gone!" Rose told her. "We were so worried."
Viola looked down, feeling guilty again for rushing off the way she had. "I'm sorry, Mum, I really didn't mean to worry you."
"You're really not supposed to fly the TARDIS alone," the Doctor reminded her. He sounded disappointed and it made her feel terrible. She adored the Doctor and she hated disappointing him.
Viola looked at the grated floor and wrung her hands. "I know. I'm sorry. I really am. I know I shouldn't have gone off like that. It's just that I was already angry with you both for leaving me behind again and I was completely bored, and then I found the symbol and it looked Gallifreyan, so it made me curious, and then when I found out that it was Gallifreyan, only from the future, well, I had to go check it out. I know I should have waited until you were back, but you were taking so long and I was so excited."
"Viola, honey, slow down, you're not making any sense."
Her mother was right. "Sorry, let me try again."
She started at the beginning and told them everything she could remember. When she was done, both were staring at her.
"Professor Song?" the Doctor said incredulously. "Are you sure?"
Viola nodded. "I'm positive. Do you know who she is?"
"Yes," the Doctor admitted. "I've met her once before."
"What was she like?" Viola asked eagerly. She was completely fascinated and intrigued by the strange woman now that she wasn't right in front of her saying confusing things.
"She was cryptic and irritating and she kept talking about things we'd done in the future."
"What things?" Rose wanted to know.
"That's the infuriating part, I don't know. She wouldn't tell me. She just kept saying 'Spoilers!' whenever I asked."
"She said the same thing to me!" Viola exclaimed excitedly.
"Really?" The Doctor frowned. "And you said she acted like she'd met you before?"
Viola nodded. "She knew my name without me telling her."
"Hmm." The Doctor ran his fingers through his hair while he paced. "When I first met River —"
"Who's River?" Rose interrupted.
"Professor Song. That's her first name."
"That's a silly name," Viola remarked, giggling.
The Doctor ignored her and kept talking. "When I first met River, I thought that she was somehow entwined with my future - at least that's what she implied. I thought it was just me, but it seems like she's a part of your future as well!"
"That's so weird." Viola said.
"I agree." Rose leaned against the console. "Are you sure she's not making it all up?"
"No, she's definitely telling the truth," the Doctor said quickly.
"How do you know?"
"When I met her, she knew things about me that only I could have possibly told her."
"So if she's telling the truth, then why is she so cryptic?" Viola asked.
"Because she's not meeting me – us, in the right order, which means she has to be careful not to tell us anything that could change the future."
Viola sighed. "I suppose that makes sense."
"Of course it does." The Doctor grinned. "I said it!"
Viola scoffed. The Doctor could be so vain sometimes. "Right."
She could tell that the Doctor was about to say something else, but as usual her mum intervened at just the right moment. "So what about this book, can we see it?"
In all the excitement about River, Viola had completely forgotten about the book. She hastily pulled it out of her pocket and handed it to the Doctor.
"Odd," he said examining it closely. "I've never seen this before. It really does look Gallifreyan and yet it's not. I've never seen that symbol before in my life!"
"I know!" Viola told him what she'd learned about it so far.
When she was done, he put it into his own pocket and nodded. "Okay, leave this with me for a while; I'd like to puzzle it out."
Viola nodded then turned to her mum. "Can we have tea now?"
"I think today's events have taught us something," the Doctor mused later that evening, once Viola had gone to her room.
"What's that?" Rose set her tea down on the library coffee table and adjusted her position on the sofa so that she was facing him.
"That Viola is growing up and we can't protect her from everything. Maybe it's time we gave her a little more freedom - in a safe, controlled manner so she doesn't feel she has to do it behind our backs."
"I'm not ready for that," Rose admitted.
The Doctor kissed her tenderly. "I know. Neither am I, but I think she is."
Rose sighed. "You're right. I know you are. How did she grow up so quickly? I still remember holding her in my arms when she was a tiny wee baby."
He looked away, not wanting her to see the regret in his eyes. He knew Rose had loved her first husband very much, and he was glad. But sometimes, in moments like this, he wished that he had been a part of their lives then. He loved Rose and Viola so much, and it hurt to know they'd had this whole other life without him. A whole life filled with moments he'd never get to experience. He knew that Rose was waiting for a response so he took a deep breath and turned back to her. "Time is a funny thing. It has a way of moving quickly when we want it to move slowly, and moving slowly when we want it to move quickly. It's both beautiful and terrible. But it's unchangeable. We can't go back, Rose, Viola isn't a baby anymore. She needs you to let go a little bit so she can grow up."
She nodded. "Okay, I'll try to stop being so protective, and maybe we can give her some more freedom - but not yet."
"Rose," he started.
"Stop. It's not because I can't let go. I know I have to do that. But I'm still her mother and she broke the rules today. We can't reward that, so there has to be a consequence. I think we should ground her."
"Ground her?" he wrinkled his nose.
"Only for a week. I think that's long enough for her to learn her lesson."
"But grounding her is so… so ordinary, and human."
Rose laughed. "That's what you object to?"
"Yes. Well. It's just not very interesting."
"Of course it isn't, it's a punishment. It's not supposed to be interesting."
"Okay fine. We'll ground her." He sighed dramatically. "But after that…"
"Yes, after that we'll talk about giving her a little more freedom."
Viola carefully pulled her ear away from the door and tiptoed back to her room before she was caught. She sank into her favourite rocking chair and thought about what she'd just heard. She agreed with the Doctor that being grounded was boring – she could still remember how restless she'd been that time she'd been grounded after looking into to temporal schism - but she couldn't muster the energy to get upset about it. Mum was right, she deserved to be punished, after all, she'd broken the rules and she knew it.
Besides, Viola was more excited about the other thing she'd overheard - the part about getting more freedom. She really liked the sound of that, even though she had no idea what it meant. Still, the fact that Mum agreed to it meant that she trusted her, even after her foolishness earlier today.
Viola grinned and pulled a teddy bear off the shelf. The Doctor had given him to her not long after she and mum had moved onto the TARDIS permanently and it was still her favourite. Even though she knew she was technically getting too old for stuffed toys, Viola didn't care. She loved this teddy despite his missing eye and worn fur, and she hugged him to her chest as she'd done on so many other nights.
The Doctor was right, she was growing up, but there were some parts of her childhood that she wasn't ready to give up just yet. Feeling safe and loved and incredibly happy, Viola closed her eyes and rocked while she hugged the bear. As she drifted off into a rare deep sleep, she let her mind wander to the events of the day, resolving that someday soon she'd unlock the many secrets that revolved around the infamous Professor River Song.