Disclaimer: Doctors 1 to 8 belong to BBC, 9 is my masseuse and 10 is my personal tea elf.
Sequel-ish to All the King's Men, but fine as a standalone, though you might miss certain references. Credits include my soul-sucking university vocabulary list.
They follow the trails, picking up lost words and half-sentences on their journeys, like errant children or broken souls. They take the words, and create themselves. The Universe is their gingerbread house, and they cannot resist eating pieces of it, though it sometimes crumbles beneath their feet.
Travelling from place to place, especially for short periods.
They go back to Earth sometimes, just to revisit the places that keep their memories alive. Centuries make forgetting easy, and some things are too precious to let slip. The people they once knew are gone, but the lingering presence of ghosts and laughter long past remain, and it helps keep them grounded, because travellers like them have no base that does not travel with them.
It reminds them that there are places where running isn't needed.
They have turned it into a fine art, forgetting and running and remembering; a delicate balancing act that they are aware of but pay little attention to.
They visit the empty Powell Estates, and linger at the apartment where spinning Christmas trees and Slitheens and Auton hands once surfaced. It is an important place, and so they spend several minutes there. They pass Henrik's with vague fondness, and give it a few seconds of their time.
The chippy where they had their first date gets five minutes, and though it is closed the whirring of the sonic screwdriver soon lets them inside. They sit in the quiet dimness of the shop, and relive memories of days long gone. You were such a cheap date, she tells him, laughing and remembering, and he pretends to be offended. I just didn't have the right currency, he defends, and she rolls her eyes in easy affection. They leave as quietly as they had come, and he locks the chippy behind them, the way a treasure chest is locked and tucked away.
They linger outside 10 Downing Street, and the police officer on duty smiles at this lovely tourist couple. They chuckle at his thought, and wander off towards Buckingham Palace, smiling secret smiles when coronations and blank faces and telly screens are remembered. Lunch is at a tiny deli, and she laughs when she sees the name. New York, it says, emblazoned on the napkins, and she inks an extra New to the left of it. He takes the pen from her, and adds x15 under her flowing script. The barista at the counter wonders at the giggling couple in the corner, and turns back to the coffee he is grinding after a moment.
Later, they stroll pass a school, and she elbows him when he points out a lunch lady sneaking a fag outside the back door. He rubs his bruised ribs and pouts, and she gives him a quick kiss on the lips. They pass a dinky tourist shop in central London, and he disappears inside for a moment before reemerging with a map of the United Kingdom.
They sit in Hyde Park, and doodle stick-aliens and spaceships around Cardiff, and he attempts to draw a werewolf next to Scotland.
When they return to the TARDIS, she pins the map up in the console room.
Universal wisdom or knowledge.
He watches her, when he is sure she isn't looking.
She is smiling now, laughing at something showing on the Danobulan cinema screen. He takes in her now-brown hair and distinct features; traces her cheekbones and full lips with his gaze. The screen casts flickering light over her face, pointing out hollows and angles where more youthful roundness had been. Her hand is in his, and he softly strokes the back of her thumb with his.
An explosion occurs onscreen, and the titular action hero no doubt faces yet another high-speed chase fraught with peril and blaster-toting pursuers. Her eyes are riveted to the screen, and he is amused; surely their everyday adventures are more exciting than movie replicas. Her hand in his tightens fractionally as the hero – he glances to the screen for a split second, just to be sure – miraculously survives a four-vehicle pile-up, several grenade blasts, and a fall over a cliff into shark-infested waters.
He doesn't need to watch the movie to know how it will end: the hero will save the female protagonist, the bad guys will perish in loud and noisy visual-effect explosions, and the day will be saved. Oh, and the guy will get the girl, like he always does.
He looks at her, and wonders at their story. Alien meets girl, girl joins alien, alien and girl fall in love. It sounds ridiculously simple and almost sadly clichéd in his mind, and he ignores the whispers of Cybermen and Sontarans and Daleks and white walls and the Master that echo at the back of his thoughts.
They are together now, and maybe that is all that really matters in the end. She is older (seven hundred, his mind supplies, and the number confuses and frightens him a little) and sadder, and he is darker and lonelier. Time has not been kind to them, and he wonders when it ever has.
But now, Time and Evil and Conspiring Fate are forgotten, and she is here with him, in a cinema on Danobula. The Universe can wait, he thinks, and he vaguely recalls hearing that love makes fools out of wise men, but he doesn't care, cannot bring himself to care.
She is here with him, and that is all the knowledge he needs.
Necessarily true or logically certain; beyond dispute.
Not many things are certain in life, she knows, and they trip and dance across universes and space and time.
She is seven hundred and changed, and she can slip across dimensions and worlds. She does that sometimes, when the Doctor is out buying TARDIS parts and leaves her to her own devices.
They are on Cumera-4 today, and the Doctor is out hunting down an isonomic electro-subliminal eradicator. She offers to help him build one, and tries not to feel hurt when he stares at her, slack-jawed for a moment, before he remembers that she is now almost as old as him, and has seen about as much. (and killed as many people, she thinks, but she quashes that thought and broken-smiles)
He leaves for the market, and the TARDIS is silent but for the quiet humming in the background. She sits on the jump seat, closes her eyes, and slips through dimension walls and barriers.
It has become a little game for her, looking for him in parallel worlds. She appears in London this time, and notes that there are no cars on the road. Everyone is on bicycles. She walks several blocks, confident that she will find him soon – she never arrives outside of a one-mile radius from his location. The air is crisp and cool, and she is glad that there are no zeppelins in the sky.
She finds him (but not Him, not really, she amends) ten minutes later, just as he is stepping out of the TARDIS. He is exactly the same; not-ginger and sideburns and white converses, and she almost reaches out to take his hand in an action so natural she has to consciously stop herself. He cannot see her yet, blocked by a gaggle of tourists, but she knows he can feel her, can feel her consciousness, and she hopes he will be as friendly as all the other Doctors she has met.
The group of tourists part, and he focuses on her. She sees him stiffen as she establishes a tentative mental link, and she raises her right hand in a half-wave.
Hello, she sends over their connection, and he looks at her in wonder and amazement.
Impossible. How – He runs a hand through his hair, and pauses. He grins. Hello, he replies.
She returns to her Doctor's TARDIS later, just as he enters with an armful of scrap metal and beeping machinery. He sends her a quick grin, and stoops to press a quick kiss to her lips before he dumps his day's treasures on the kitchen counter.
Hello, he sends her through their permanent telepathic link, and she senses his puzzlement when her face splits into a huge smile.
Not many things are certain in life, Rose Tyler knows, but some things – some things, like her and the Doctor, are.
Sorrow that one feels and accepts as one's necessary portion in life.
Lirzon is collapsing on itself, and seven million, three hundred and twenty-five thousand, six hundred and ninety-three people will die with it.
They cannot stop it.
They sit side-by-side in the TARDIS, at the kitchen's island counter. Two steaming mugs of tea are on the counter before them. The tea is untouched.
Over seven million people are going to die, and they are having tea in the TARDIS. The thought is heavy and bitter between them, a ghost that wedges itself into the healing cracks of their conscience. The deaths are through no fault of theirs, but she knows that they will both be adding seven million more deaths into their tally of lives they have each taken.
In a sharp moment of cynicism, she wonders how many worlds they have murdered between the two of them. There is a sharp intake of breath beside her, and she knows that thought must have slipped through their telepathic link. For the moment, she cannot bring herself to care. The death toll of their collective millennia weighs heavy around her heart.
His knuckles are white, she notes, and is surprised when he stands abruptly. Come on, he tells her over their connection, and she lets herself be tugged to the library. The library has always been a sanctuary of sorts for the both of them, and they read and escape into fictional worlds of make-believe when reality becomes too bitter a pill for them to swallow.
He settles onto the sofa, and she joins him a moment later, choosing a book at random. They will read and lose themselves together, even if it is only for a little while. She tucks herself next to him, and he loops an arm around her shoulders as she opens the book.
Those with great strength are given great burdens, the first line reads. His fingers tighten on her shoulder briefly, and she snaps the book shut.
Those with forever live too long, she thinks the author should have added. His agreement is a hum at the back of her mind.
Construction or something constructed by whatever materials happen to be available.
He has heard it being said that relationships must be constantly and consistently worked on, like building a house.
He wonders what their relationship-house would look like, if he could see it.
They build their love in small increments; the result of two people with eternity and all the time in the world. His love for her grows, when he catches her grin as they run from murderous pursuers. His trust in her deepens, every time she comes back safely to him. His adoration of her flowers, when he is audience to her flowing laughter when something tickles her fancy.
But constantly and consistently? Those are not words he would use to describe them. Words like forever and everlasting and eternity are more apt, and they construct their love with whatever they come across and find together.
When he pictures their relationship-house, it looks just like the TARDIS, with her odds-and-bits console and quirkily repaired mainframe.
It is a perfect house, he thinks.
A tendency to lie; untruthfulness.
The problem with eternity, she realizes, is that you discover that many things aren't true.
In fact, almost nothing is, regardless of whether the intentions behind it are pure.
Love is blind, and she knows this is not true. They faltered and mis-stepped and crumbled a little in the face of the new-old versions of each other, both strangers and not-strangers at the beginning. They had to relearn each other, and their path had been a shaky one.
Ignorance is bliss, and she knows this is false. She tries to ignore the numbers she has killed, and she knows he tries to forget his, and they each fail and break a little with each try, and every day is another battle they lose or don't-win. You cannot ignore, she learns, and what you don't know will kill you.
Escape artists never die, he tells her, and this is one she will believe for a while. Later, when she thinks about it, she will realize his lie.
There are many more ways to die besides death, and escape artists like them die every other way but permanently.
Misty; dim; dark.
It is night when they reach Earth, and they land in Paris, the City of Lights.
They wander along River Seine, and walk pass the Eiffel and Louvre. Couples hand-in-hand like them are plentiful, and the atmosphere is one of love and romance.
She can't explain why she feels so uncomfortable here. She supposes it has something to do with the life they lead, death-defying and adrenaline-pumping and endlessly-running. They are not cut out for candlelit dinners and flowers and chocolates.
His tension is palpable in her mind, and she reaches out across their link to soothe him. He smiles at her, grateful.
They leave the main streets and more crowded areas, and slip away to the dimly-lit cobblestone lanes and alleys that present another side of Paris. The world here is harsher and grittier.
They stroll along poorly-lighted avenues and stumble into seedier areas, and giggle and laugh despite the tangible danger.
Darkness embraces them like an old friend, and she thinks they were not made for the light.
An irresolvable internal contradiction or logical disjunction in text, argument, or theory.
There are many things he learnt at the Academy on Gallifrey, and some things he knows to be impossible.
Things like singular movement across parallel dimensions, and individual manipulation of the Vortex. Rose Tyler can do all these things, and he knows it should be impossible. His theories and formulas tell him it is, and there are too many questions he wants answers to.
The fact is that she slips across dimensions and time and comes back, and all of this happens in front of his eyes, and he cannot wrap his mind around it. But, he thinks, there were many other things that were impossible too; things like them and eternities together.
He has learnt that nothing is impossible when it comes to them, and though he had previously thought he believed in that, the true meaning of the saying had remained lost to him until her. Rose Tyler is the queen of all things impossible. He believes in her, and he supposes that it means he believes in all things impossible.
He quells the insatiably curious part of his mind, and leaves to look for her.
Not all mysteries need to be solved or understood.
Any mixture or assortment; a medley; a miscellany.
She picks up little souvenirs wherever they go; baubles and shells and pressed flowers. They line the dresser in her old room on the TARDIS, and she adds to them whenever they return from some new adventure.
He helps her with her little collection, buying her trinkets or bobs he thinks will suit her fancy. She visits her old room sometimes, picking up some from the assortment that carry particular sentimental value; like the delicate perfume bottle he bought for her on Draxis-2, or the carved bead from Lyoras.
It is all their adventures, displayed next to each other on her dresser, tiny succinct summaries of their life together.
The dresser never runs out of space for her to add new purchases to, and she attributes this to the TARDIS expanding the dresser top for her.
It is fitting, she supposes. Their intertwined lives extend into eternity, and they grow and learn and add new things to themselves with each journey and adventure they take.
He buys her a miniature bright red English telephone box.
She laughs, and adds it to her collection.
Parallel universes are like gingerbread houses, he had told her once before, and she had found his description fanciful.
He will amend this statement later, much later, and tell her that all universes are like gingerbread houses. She is inclined to agree.
They have taken him, and the blaster in her hand is a solid and comforting weight as she stuns and knocks out guards in her way. She finds her thoughts drawn to Snow White and Sleeping Beauty and Cinderella and Rapunzel, and hits a surprised guard with the butt of her blaster. He goes down hard.
She is not a princess, and she is far from a damsel-in-distress. She shoots an approaching guard, and her smile is flinty.
She is the big, Bad Wolf and he is a Storm, and there will be hell to pay for those who split them apart.
(ready or not, here they come)