Okay, so this one took a little longer than I thought. But that's partly because I have the flu, partly because I spent a good day or two researching something for the plot, and partly because I ran out of ideas half way through and my new idea extended the chapter by a couple of pages. So, to welcome back this story, we're kicking off with an extra long chapter. I've decided to take this one in a completely different direction to where I first decided. So hopefully it will turn out not quite so close to the original story line.
Anyway, I hope you enjoy the new chapter, and I'll hopefully have something new up soon!
Rose snuggled down into her coat, trying to shelter herself against the wind. A slight frost could be seen on the ground and condensation drifted from anything that radiated heat. The coat was heavy and scratchy and still did little against the cold.
"Ooh! It's freezing out here!" Martha cried as she arrived back at the table with three pints of ale. "Why can't we have a drink inside the pub?"
"Now don't be ridiculous," Jenny scolded. "You do get these notions! Would you listen to her, Rose? It's all very well those Suffragettes, but that's London. That's miles away."
"London...?" Rose said. She mulled the word around in her head for a bit. She'd heard it said a few times now and every time it brought a feeling of familiarity... but not homesickness. Not like when she thought of that particular shade of blue and a beautiful humming in the air.
"But don't you want to scream sometimes? Having to bow and scrape and behave, don't you just want to tell them?"
Jenny smiled softly. "I dunno. Things must be different in your country."
"Yeah, well, they are. Thank God I'm not staying."
"You're leaving?" Rose said.
"You keep saying that," Jenny said playfully.
"Just you wait. One more month and I'm free as the wind. I wish you could come with me, Jenny. You'd love it!"
"Where are you going to go?"
"Anywhere." She turned her head up to the sky. "Just look up there. Imagine you could go all the way out to the stars."
Jenny laughed. "You don't half say mad things!"
"Up to the stars? Sounds incredible. Not a bad life."
"That's where I'm going. Into the sky, all the way out. You – you could come with me... if you wanted, Rose."
"That would be amazing," she grinned. "But... I still get the feeling like I have to find something." She looked up at the sky. She got the feeling that she did that a lot. Suddenly she was distracted as a bright green light shot across the sky. She'd never seen anything like that before.
"Did you see that?" Martha said.
"Did you see it, though?" She stood and pointed to a place in the sky. "Right up there, just for a second."
"Martha, there's nothing there."
"No, I saw it too. That green light. Like something breaking the atmosphere, but it's colour was too strange to be a meteor or any natural piece of debris."
"Ooh, would you listen to this one," Jenny laughed. "Right set of brains on her."
"Of course," Martha said, a half smile, half frown on her face. After all the Doctor had said about her, how could she not be incredibly smart.
"Me? Nah. I'm not that smart," she said looking down. "Dropped out of school for a boy. Not too bright, was it?"
"School?! You went to school?!"
Rose looked up at her, startled. "Did I?"
"Uh, you just said that you dropped out of school for a boy."
"Huh... I don't know. I things just come into my head and I just say them. Don't know what I'm saying half the time, but it's got to be something, right? Maybe part of my memories?"
"Could be," Martha told her. "Amnesia isn't easy. Brains are funny things and you never know what it could do to you."
"Jeez, all I know about brains is that you either got them, or you don't," Jenny said, baffled by the things they were saying.
They were interrupted when they saw Matron coming down the road with her bike. She seemed quite distressed and kept looking up at the sky in worry.
"Matron, are you alright?" Martha asked her.
"Did you see that?" She cried. "There was something in the woods... this light..."
Mr Smith emerged from the pub and walked over to them. "Anything wrong, ladies?" he asked. "Far too cold to be standing around in the dark, don't you-"
"There!" Joan interrupted. They all looked where she was pointing to see the green streak of light travelling through the sky. "There, look in the sky!"
"That's beautiful!" Jenny gasped. The light faded out.
"There... all gone," John said. "Commonly known as a meteorite. It's just rocks falling to the ground, that's all."
"It came down in the woods."
"No, no, no, they always look close when they're actually miles off. Nothing left but a cinder."
"Rose doesn't think so," Jenny said. "Said the light was too strange for a meteorite."
"True, it was odd in colour. But I assure you it's nothing that can't be explained by science. Now, I shall escort you back to the school."
Joan nodded shakily. "Rose should come along too," she said pointedly. "I'm still not certain of her condition and being out in this cold drinking ale of all things cannot be good for her."
Grudgingly, Rose sighed and pushed her drink to the side. "Fine, I guess you're right." She stood and pulled her warm things closer as she walked over to join them.
"Ladies?" John asked Martha and Jenny.
"No, we're fine, thanks," Martha said distractedly as she stared up into the sky.
"Then I shall bid you goodnight," he said.
"Night, Martha. Night, Jenny," Rose called to them with a smile. They started walking off down the lane when she looked at Joan and remembered something. "Um, Joan, didn't you bike here?"
Joan froze, her eyes widening. "Oh my goodness, I did."
"Would you like us to go back for it?" John asked her.
"Oh, no, no. It's fine. It's not far. I'll go and grab it. I may as well bike ahead. I will be fine. Rose, I want to to come and see me in the morning, just to see how you are doing, alright?"
"Okay," she nodded with a half hearted smile. She didn't like this being fussed over. Not in this way.
"Alright, then. Goodnight to you both."
"Goodnight," they both said.
Joan went off in the direction they had come from and the two of them continued on. They walked for a way in silence, John held his hands behind his back looking rather uncomfortable, but he seemed happy enough. Rose was pretty happy herself, she was enjoying his company very much. Just being near him made her feel better, made her feel safe. In fact, she was humming. A warm feeling string up inside her. She felt like her entire body was singing. No... hold on... she was shaking. Why was she shaking?
"Are you alright?" John suddenly asked her, concern creasing his brow.
"Yes, I'm fine," she told him. It wasn't very convincing when her teeth began to chatter.
"No, really. I feel fine. Warm as a fire."
Without really listening to her, John took off one of his gloves and grabbed her hand. "You're ice to the bone! Here." They stopped walking and he stood in front of her. He took off his other glove, then taking her hands, slipped them onto hers. They were too big for her, but they were warm. She still didn't think she really needed them, she felt fine, but it was nice. Then he saw that she only had her coat buttoned up to her neck and he started to unwind the scarf from around his. Rose stared up at his face as he focused on wrapping it around her own neck. When he was certain she would be warm enough, he looked back up at her... and seemed to freeze. He just stood there, staring at her. He was so close to her, his mouth open as if he didn't know what to say or do. Rose stood waiting for him to do something. "Sh-Shall we continue?" he stammered.
Rose blinked. "Y-yeah." Okay, so it seemed she had been waiting for him to do something else. But what she wanted, not even she knew. All she knew was that this man was so familiar. She didn't know who John Smith was. She didn't know who the Doctor was. But part of her told her that she needed him. And who ever he was, he gave her a sense of comfort and belonging. And happy. He made her feel incredibly happy.
"Right, then." This time he held his arm out to her and she looped her arm though his. With a slight smile, he drew her closer to him, trying to share his body warmth. Once again they began walking down the road. "So, I see you and Miss Jones are becoming quite good friends."
"Yeah, I really like her," she told him. "She's nice to me... And she doesn't treat me like a fragile broken thing like everyone else."
"I don't think you're broken. And from what I hear, you are anything but fragile."
"And what have you heard?"
"Oh, that you've been giving the boys a roughing up when the deserve it, not even bothering to find a teacher. Calling out anyone who is... ungentlemanly towards you. I must say, it is very uncommon for a woman to do such a thing, but I admire that you do. I don't see how you can be broken when you have such passion with everything you do." Rose blushed at his words, bowing her head to hide it from him. "Speaking of your, erm... condition, would it be too forward of me to ask how you are coping? Are you remembering anything?"
"Um... not exactly. It's all just... emotions and senses. Feelings of familiarity. Sometimes things just come into my head and I say them, but I don't have the memory to go along with it. It's frustrating and it's scary, but I've dealt with worse."
His brow creased. "What like?"
"I don't know... See, that's what I mean. I say things, but it's like I'm saying them on impulse. Martha thinks I can get more answers that way. Quick round of questions without thinking. She reckons if I do that then I'll just blurt out something true."
John tilted his head in thought. "Well, the idea does have potential."
"Yeah. I just wish... I wish I knew who I was already. I wish I knew my last name, and my family. I wish I knew why I feel so out of place here."
"I'm sure you'll find your way. And I think there are many people, like myself, who would be – be willing... to – to help," he stuttered out.
Rose smiled softly. "Really?"
"Yes," he said, looking as if he had only just made up his mind. "Yes, I will."
"That's brilliant! Maybe with you I can find more out. I mean, you are one of the few things that actually feel familiar to me."
John swallowed. "I – I am?"
"Yeah. Are you sure we don't know each other?" she teased. "I am in your book after all."
For a moment, this brought him up short and his step faltered, but he quickly recovered and carried on. "Yes... well, that drawing was rather recent. Perhaps I had seen you around town and picked up on your face. Did you know that there is a theory that you can not dream a face you haven't seen?"
Rose knew he was lying. That page of her was half way through the book. "I guess that makes sense. But then how did you know my name?"
"I beg your pardon?"
"In your journal, you keep saying 'a perfect Rose'. If you only saw my face, how would you know my name?" Even in the dark, Rose could see the blush that had spread across his cheeks.
"I am not certain."
"Um... another thing. On the page about me... You keep saying that I am walking away from you. What – What does that mean?"
"I don't know," he said honestly. "I can never make sense of those dreams. Some times I think I'm going mad."
"I think you're just open to the possibilities," she told him. "Though, I can see why you're confused. You don't make the book very easy to read. I'm not sure who you're talking about at one point or another. Oh, speaking of the book, do you want it back? I've finished reading it."
"Ah, yes. Yes, I suppose it would be good to have it back. I have more to enter, after all."
"Really? What are you going to put in there?"
"Well, I – I dreamt of a planet. It was beautiful. It was called Woman Wept... or Weeping Woman, I can't quite remember any more. But it was named so because the shape of the land from above looked like a lamenting woman. But on the planet, almost everything was ice. It was like everything had been frozen in a split second of time. The ocean was still in perfectly formed waves. You could see creatures not far below the surface of the ice, frozen in the water forever. The Doctor went there with... his friend. His companion."
"It sounds wonderful."
"Yes, that's why he took her there. Earlier on in the story, he seemed to go everywhere just to show his companion amazing things. He did it to see the look on her face. But... then she just... disappeared. She stopped showing up in the dreams. And now the Doctor seems to be travelling to distract himself. He misses her more than anything. Recently the dreams have just been... tainted with an overwhelming sadness."
They fell into silence at his words, a sad and almost unbearable feeling coming over them. The only sound around them was the wind and the chattering of Rose's teeth. She wished it would stop. It's not like she was cold. If anything, she was hot... too hot. It was so stifling that she was on the verge of feeling that she was being smothered. A headache was steadily coming on, but she couldn't do a thing about it. She would kill for some paracetamol right now.
"I'm sorry, but are you sure you're alright?" John asked her in concern. "You seem to have gone horribly pale."
"I'm fine," she lied.
"Perhaps I should take you to Matron right away."
"No no it's okay," she instead. "I'll be fine. I think I just need to sleep."
"We should get you back as soon as we can. Are you able to walk faster?"
"Yes. I told you I'm alright. It's just a bit of a head ache."
John said nothing, but she was sure he shook his head in exasperation. She barely noticed the increase in their speed. She didn't even notice their surroundings, everything was blurred and moved around horribly fast. All she could distinguish were a few dark colours, and a little bit of light. As the headache grew worse, the light got nearer, which did not help the pain that was splitting her head. She could still feel the tremors that were rocking her body, and her skin felt horribly uncomfortable. It was as if something was prickling underneath the surface. She could no longer tell if she was hot or cold. She was vaguely aware of hands supporting her and a concerned voice. She noticed a few small whimpers and low moans, but she wasn't sure where they were coming from. All she knew now was the agony that was slowly closing in on her, making the world a blur of colour and harshness. She thought this was over. Why couldn't it just end?!
John walked through the school halls as fast as he could, Rose easily supported by him. Students and teachers alike stared as he all but ran past. Rose was looking terrible. All colour had left her face, and her eyes were squeezed shut in pain. The small whimpers that had started up about ten minutes before hand were now constantly bubbling from her lips.
Finally reaching the nurse's door, he began to bang on it furiously with his free hand. He hoped that she was back. Joan hadn't biked back past them on her way home, and he feared that she was still back at the pub, or worse.
"Joan?!" he called, still wrapping on the door, despite his aching knuckles. "Matron? Joan, Nurse Redfern, please. You are needed urgently. Jo-" The door swung open underneath his hand and he missed hitting the woman in the face by mere inches. "Terrible sorry," he said in a rush. "I need your help."
He didn't need to say anymore, because at that point, Joan saw Rose tucked away under his arm. "Rose!" she cried in surprise. "Oh, my dear girl. Quick, get her inside." With a nod, he followed her in and lay the shaking girl down on the small cot she'd been placed in when she first arrived. "What happened?" Rose had certainly not been like this when she had left them.
"I don't know," he told her. "She – she was fine when you left. But then she became really, really cold. So I – I gave her my scarf and gloves. And she insisted that she was fine. But she was shaking and – and – and soon she started to whimper. So I got her back here as soon as I could. And-"
"John!" He fell silent. "Thank you. You did the right thing." Going over to the girl and taking off the scarf and gloves and opening the jacket, she felt her head. "You're right. She's ice co-" Her eyes widened and her mouth stopped half way open. On the cot, Rose's whimpering changed in pitch, going higher.
"What is it?"
"Her temperature just changed. Quite drastically. In less than a second she became boiling hot."
"What does that mean?"
Joan looked at him, perplexed. "I'm not sure. I've never heard of anything like this. She's clearly in a lot of pain... Rose," she tired gently. "Rose, can you hear me." The girl whimpered and curled down further into herself. "Rose, can you tell me what hurts. What's wrong?"
Hands went to cover her ears at the sound of the direct noise, and one ran into her hair and gripped it tightly. "Head... H-head h-hurts. Skin c-crawling. Ss-s-so c-cold."
"You're cold?" Rose nodded her head and Joan looked up at John hopelessly. "I don't know what to do. I've never seen this before. It's as if she has a fever, but this is so much worse than that."
"But there is something that you can do, correct?" he asked, concern in his voice.
Joan sighed and looked at Rose as she thought for a second. "I'll treat it as a fever. Give her something to ease the pain and hope she shows improvement in the morning."
John nodded. "Is there anything that I can do?"
"You can help me take her back to her room. She will be more comfortable there, and more isolated in case this happens to be infectious. For now I'll give her some of this." She went into a cupboard and pulled out a palm sized bottle full of brown liquid. "Sit her up for me, would you, John?" John nodded once more and going over to Rose, he gently placed a hand underneath her back and sat her up slightly. Taking a teaspoon, Joan poured the brown liquid into the spoon and placed it in Rose's mouth, encouraging her to swallow. Rose tried to spit it out and grimaced at the bitter taste, but had no choice to drink it down. She coughed and spluttered, trying to get rid of the taste, and bent over as the pain continued.
"What now?" he asked.
"Now we take her to her room. We need to bring the fever down." She began walking around the room, grabbing items and bundling them in her arms. "Could you take her please?" Hesitantly, he looked at her, unsure as to how he would do so. "Oh, stop being so modest and pick her up. She'll need to be carried."
"Right, yes. Of course," he stuttered.
He dipped down and placing an arm under her knees, and one behind her back, he lifted her up. She was much lighter than he had expected. Not that he had thought that she would be overly heavy, but she couldn't weigh more than a child. Making sure he had a secure grip, he followed Joan out of the room and down the halls. As they got closer and closer to her room, Rose's whimpers faded out till it was just winces. By the time the reached her door, there was a soft smile on her face, despite the sheen that still covered her forehead. She opened her eyes and stared up at him with large, dilated pupils. A small giggle escaped her lips.
"Hello," she said, sounding rather sleepy.
"Hello," he replied, giving her a reassuring smile in return.
"What happened?!" a shout rung out across the hall. At the sound of shoes clipping across they floor, they all looked up to see Martha running towards them. "What's wrong? Is Rose alright?"
"Hello, Martha," Rose grinned. She seemed almost drunk, her words slurring.
"As we were walking back, Rose seemed to... er... fall ill," John informed her.
"She was having terrible headaches and seemed to suffer from a very severe fever. I gave her something to relieve the pain and we're about to try and dull the fever."
"Something to... What did you give her?" She had studied the history of medical drugs and narcotics, and she knew that not many remedies were safe at this point in time.
"I gave her a dose of Papine." Martha looked at her with a blank expression. "It's a preparation of opium."
"Opium! You gave her opium?! Do you know how addictive that stuff is? People were still overdosing on it not twenty years ago!"
"Now, calm down there, Martha. I'm sure Matron wouldn't give Rose anything she considered unsafe."
"That's correct, Miss Jones. Papine is much safer. It's more pleasant and less addicting." Martha scoffed. "I only gave her one dose, and hopefully she will not need another."
"Fine then," she snapped. "I'll help you look after her."
"Yay!" Rose cried quietly. "I like Martha. Martha is my friend. We're from the same place. Time..." She turned and looked up at John. "She's a doctor, too."
"Well, it seems that Rose has decided," Joan said. "In a way." She gave John a nod and they made their way through the library to her room. "You're from the same place as her?"
Martha just shrugged. Beside her, John placed Rose down in her bed.
"I hope you feel better soon," he told her, giving her an awkward nod. Then he made his way to the door. He was stopped by a few simple words from the girl.
"I love you." He froze where he stood and looked back at the others. They were looking at him in surprise. A few sounds stuttered out of his mouth, then he turned again and strode out the door as fast as he could. Rose barely noticed. "If he says 'quite right, too' again, I'm going to kick his ass." Joan's eyebrows rose in surprise at the language she was using. "Bloody time wasting Time Lord. He nearly said it. Then 'poof'! Gone. Gone forever."
"She seems to have gone sightly delusional. It's an effect of the opium, sometimes."
"I know," Martha said. Opium was still a main ingredient in Morphine, a drug still used back in this time. Really, the effects weren't so different. And she had seen her fair share of people on morphine.
"What did she mean when she said you were a doctor too?"
"I'm not sure. She's delusional and things are twisting in her brain. But she could have been referring to the fact I was a nurse back where I came from." It was a lot easier just to lie, but still she could see Joan looking at her sceptically. She sat Rose up and attempted to take her coat off. Rose just pouted.
"He's changed again and I don't like it. First time he changed his face and his mind. Now it's just his mind, and he's a little silly. But he's not mine anymore. He has you to hold his hand."
"It's okay, Rose. I'm sure he's still yours. I was just making sure he didn't go crazy without you. Now, can you wiggle your bum off the coat and we can get you all sorted." She snatched her hand back when she felt Rose's skin. It was damp with a thin layer of sweat, and hotter than a human should ever be. Rose obeyed her and lifted up so the coat could be pulled away. She even started to unlace her dress, and with a little bit of help, she was in nothing but her chemise.
"I can't wait to travel with my Doctor again. The TARIDS singing in my head. Time swimming around me. Running through stars and galaxies, holding his hand. It's been so long."
"Has it?" Martha said, worry in her voice. She wished there was a way she could keep her quiet. They couldn't let anyone know.
"Yeah. I fell five years ago. We were separated by the walls for that long. Universes away with no way back. Till I found one."
"Well, you're very clever," Martha said. She had to find a way to quiet her down. Joan was looking at them oddly. "She was reading that journal of Johns," she whispered.
"Yep. I am. I didn't used to be. Dropped out of school. Didn't get my A levels. But he thought I was clever. So when I got stuck I studied everything. I'm very smart, me. I'm a rocket scientist... kind of."
"That explains why she's speaking such nonsense," Joan smiled.
"That's brilliant," Martha said, trying to get her comfortable and still. "How about you try and get some sleep, and everything will be better again in the morning."
"I'll have him back?" Rose said hopefully. Her wide glassy eyes staring up at her was so sweet. She seemed so innocent. And Martha found a lump forming in her throat. But whether it was over Rose's situation, the fact she had truly realised that the Doctor would never be hers, or both, she wasn't sure.
"Yeah," she lied, swallowing the lump. "Yeah, you will."
"Good." And with a blissful smile on her face, Rose's eyes drifted shut.
"She seems adamant that she has to find someone, or that she lost someone. Do you think it's John's book or a bit of reality leaking through?"
"Reality," she replied. "I think it was reality."