[Fic] Beautiful Death (1/1)
Fandom: Doctor Who
Characters: Tenth Doctor, Rose Tyler
Beta: None, though that would've been a damn good idea, don't you think?
Spoilers: Through Series 2. AU from sometime before Army of Ghosts/Doomsday (after the 'forever' comment at the beginning of AoG is probably where it fits best.) Some slight Waters of Mars references.
Summary: Rose promised him forever.
Author's Note: And here I attempt to write a vampire fic, complete with purple prose and angst and pretty people. And then I twisted it. Rose's beauty is over-emphasized just a bit, because it fit the tone of the story. I started this story quite a while ago; I think I wanted it done for some Halloween or other (possibly three years ago; that's how bad I've been at writing). I failed, obviously, but the story was close enough to completion that I couldn't bear to just leave it sitting on my computer forever. I'm still not too pleased with it, but it's not going to get any better.
In the night-clad sky soared a bloated vermillion moon, a sliver short of fullness. Beneath its baleful glare the Doctor fled, a limp white shape crushed against his chest. Behind him, the bestial screams grew louder, and he could now make out the lurid red eyes of the hunting pack. His hearts hammered in his chest, threatening to burst.
But the TARDIS was dead ahead, black in the moon's eerie glow, and the key was clenched between his teeth. Silently praying to gods he didn't believe in, he used the last reserves of his waning strength to sprint across barren stone the color of dried blood, expecting at any moment to be pounced upon, to feel teeth tearing into his flesh, ripping him into so many pieces that even regeneration couldn't save him.
Suddenly the TARDIS was before him, and without pausing, he shifted the bundle into a one-armed grip, spat the key into his free hand, and stepped from the oppressive black shadows into the warm amber-and-turquoise glow of the control room.
He spared one last glance back, taking in the following horde. They were still cloaked in shadow, but were now close enough that he could make out individuals. The entire Immortal Host had gathered for the hunt, and they hissed like animals as he began to close the door. Above, a spindle of space debris bisected the moon, giving it the appearance of a slitted eye glaring down at him. Then the door clicked shut, an impenetrable barricade between him and the monstrous horde. He could hear them growling and baying as their quarry eluded them, and the doors shuddered under their combined assault, but they were no longer a threat.
He paused by the console long enough only to flip the switch to dematerialize, then was sprinting towards the med bay before the first strains of the ancient engine begin to fill the control room. The TARDIS aided his flight, reconfiguring herself to provide immediate access to the medical facility.
Gently, he lay Rose's too-pale form, as light and limp as a rag doll, on the closest gurney. He quickly cut away the shredded remains of what had once been a beautiful dress, peeling the blood-soaked material back to reveal raw red crescents, bright against her ashen skin. The bites were deep and ragged, but entirely bloodless.
They'd bled her dry.
His hearts were heavy with dread as he examined her, trying to find that little spark of life, the sign that he hadn't been too late, that she could be saved.
Beneath his exploratory hands, her heart didn't beat. Her pale flesh was colder than his own, and unnaturally silky soft and pliant to the touch. Not even the faintest breath passed her cold lips.
She was dead… and her situation would only worsen if the Doctor didn't do something quickly.
His curiosity hadn't killed him; it had been Rose who'd paid the ultimate price. She'd had exhaled her last while he'd fled, and he hadn't even known. And now, if he didn't act quickly, she'd be left to face a fate infinitely worse than death.
It was one of the great mysteries of early human space travel, spoken of in the same hushed whispers as the destruction of Bowie Base One or the disappearance of the Vega Space Station. A ghost story of the shipping lanes: The colony world of Belle Nuit, the planet of eternal night where the stars burned achingly bright, and the moons looked close enough to touch. Ten thousand colonists had arrived, assembling an orbital platform from the colony ships and mining materials from a nearby asteroid field before moving to the planet below.
The colony's final transmission had been sent a year later. A warning to stay away, for the love of God, stay away.
The TARDIS had landed three hundred years later to find the space station destroyed, the colony reclaimed by the planet. They'd been prowling the ruins when they'd been discovered by a patrol. Expecting the usual routine of arrest and accusation for whatever unusual goings on, he'd raised his hands in surrender, all the while babbling about how he was part of an archeological team and would they like to see his credentials? The patrol leader had responded by welcoming them with a formal bow, offering to take them to the Court (the capital 'C' was almost audible). The novelty of being treated as honored guests rather than prisoners had made them let down their guard, and they'd followed willingly, excited as ever by the prospect of seeing something new and solving an old mystery. They were escorted along barren stone causeways, nearly invisible in the perpetual darkness, to a grand palace of blood-hued stone set atop a cliff overlooking the black sea.
They certainly hadn't expected to be greeted by the original colonists, their cold, beautiful faces frozen in time. The colony's original leader, Captain Francine Brooke-Lewis – now calling herself Lady Francesca – had welcomed them to the planet of La Belle Morte.
The change of name from 'Beautiful Night' to 'Beautiful Death' should have set off alarms. Did, actually, but the Doctor never could resist a mystery. Still, he didn't trust these ageless people with the beautiful faces that never smiled, never so much as flashed a hint of what lay behind those thin pale lips. Something about them marked them as wrong to his Time Lord senses, and every instinct warned him to run. But curiosity won out; curiosity, and Rose's obvious enchantment with the elegant, aloof colonists.
They'd explained that they owed their longevity to something within the food supply. Only a quarter of their population had been thus affected, Lady Francesca had said with profound sadness; most had had a violent reaction and died, hence the final message sent from the orbiting platform. She'd assured them that they'd be perfectly safe, as long as they didn't eat the food.
They'd been offered the use of a room and access to 'proper attire.' The Doctor had declined the offer of clothing, but after watching Rose hungrily eye the simple yet elegant gowns the colonists favored, he suggested they find something for her. Rose's smile had lit up the room. They'd whisked her away, leaving the Doctor to explore the palace alone. The inhabitants had indulged his curiosity, letting him poke into every nook and cranny, and politely (if not completely) answering any questions he'd posed them.
After an hour of exploration that wasn't getting him any answers, he'd been returned to their room to find Rose transformed.
Even he had been stunned by the striking young woman before him. The dress accentuated her curves, and showed off the toning their frenzied lifestyle had given her body. She'd practically glowed at the praise of their hosts. Looking at her then, he'd suddenly realized how she'd blossomed during her travels with him. She was beautiful; how could he not have noticed before?
His hearts had swelled with pride as he'd escorted his companion to the main hall. And for an hour they'd enjoyed themselves; dancing to the music the colonists had composed and played on instruments of their own devising, mingling with the crowd and getting to know them as people, and sharing their own adventures with an enraptured crowd. But inevitably, the Doctor's attention had begun to wander.
When the Doctor's impatience had become obvious even to their hosts, Lady Francesca had suggested he visit their archives. He'd tried not to look too eager when he'd turned to Rose, who'd laughed when she saw his expression.
"Go on," she'd urged him. "I know you're dyin' to know more. Don't let me ruin your fun!" She'd grinned widely.
So he'd graciously accepted Lady Francesca's offer, following his guide with a spring in his step, gleefully escaping the stuffy dinner without even looking back. That last glimpse of Rose's carefree smile would be the last time he saw her as a human.
The archives consisted of a bank of computers sustained through geothermal energy. Most of the public entries consisted of the history of the Earth up to the point the colonists had left, and the Doctor had only glanced at them briefly to figure out the time period.
The logs were far more interesting - and far less revealing. At first, they'd been full of records of the colonists' attempts to make a life for themselves on a planet less sustaining than they'd first thought, and the tales of survival and tragedy were riveting. The Doctor had marveled over how he'd never cease to be amazed by the resilience of humans.
Over time, the records had become sparse, and hinted at darker, desperate events. And then finally, the public logs had ceased entirely. Intrigued by the lack of information - the records had ceased right when the plague had been at its most virulent - the Doctor poked around until he found another bunch of files hidden away.
With a bit of jiggery-pokery courtesy of the sonic screwdriver, the Doctor had been able to hack these files and discover secret of the colonists' longevity - and his hearts had almost stopped.
It had nothing to do with the food. The true culprit was a mutagenic virus that had transformed the colonists into nightmares of dead flesh and insatiable hunger.
That was when he learned of the Court of the Immortal Host, and their more common name.
His hearts had stuttered to a stop at the hated word: vampire. His people had once been at war with them, and while they didn't hold the same dread for him as the Daleks did, they were an abomination. Beings for whom Time no longer mattered, whose bodies regenerated more easily than a Time Lord's, who preyed on whole planets to sate their unnatural hungers and destroyed strands in the web of Time… they were anathema to a Time Lord, and now here he was in a nest of them.
He read about the progress of the infection through the colony, transforming only those judged worthy of immortality, while the remaining colonists had a worse fate, an atrocity still practiced. Humans, descended from uninfected colonists, and the crews of the unlucky rescue ships or curious alien passersby, were all kept penned and bred for food and sport, hunted and bled dry. All but the most beautiful, who were granted the 'gift' of living death.
"So now you know," his guide had said, scarlet eyes gleaming with a voracious hunger. "And now you can understand why we're delighted you decided to visit our world."
His guide had flashed his fangs in laughter as he'd revealed the terrible truth.
He, with his too-skinny body, his freckled face, and uneven features, had been deemed too flawed for conversion. He'd been slated to be the next hunt's prey. Rose, on the other hand, with her soft curves in all the right places and her face lovely when bereft of make-up, had met their criteria.
She had been chosen to become one of the elite, and this evening was to be her coming-out gala.
And he was dessert.
And so he'd run. His guide had let him go, his mad laughter echoing through the stone corridors mockingly. What did it matter if he knew their secret? They didn't intend for him to leave the planet alive anyway.
He'd been too late.
While he'd been accessing the colony's mainframe and learning the grisly truth, Rose had been taken, fed upon… changed. As he'd sated his curiosity, a pack of the creatures had sated their hunger. He'd arrived to find Rose laying atop her bed, her lovely dress in tatters, her skin ivory white and marred only by the angry red of the bites strategically placed along every major artery of her body. The trio of vamps responsible had hissed at them, revealing for the first time jagged teeth stained red with Rose's blood. They'd scattered at his arrival, their mocking laughter filling his ears, their bestial voices promising him a far worse fate.
He'd felt the Storm rising within him then, threatening to overwhelm him and send him over the edge. He'd wanted to unleash his fury upon the colonists, to rip through like the unstoppable force of nature he'd been named for.
Instead, he'd scooped Rose into his arms and ran. So long as there was a chance to get her to the TARDIS in time to heal her, he couldn't give in to the anger that smoldered within him – or the unaccustomed fear that almost crippled him with its intensity.
They'd let him go, their ululating cries echoing through the halls as they urged him to run, run until his legs gave out, his hearts burst. The Immortal Host permitted it, letting him leave the palace grounds without offering any resistance. This only galvanized him to greater speeds. They wanted him to run; it turned the hunt into a challenge, and terror made the blood taste all the sweeter. He'd wanted to put as much distance between him and the creatures that inhabited this world, pushing himself past his now, his hearts still hammered in his chest, aching from the exertion. And it had been all for opened her mouth, revealing a maw full of needle-like teeth embedded in black gums, designed to sink into flesh in an unbreakable grip and cause the maximum amount of damage. Her tongue lay coiled behind them like a thick black worm, rough at the tip to keep a wound open and aggravated, grooved along its length to aid blood in sliding down her throat.
Saliva collected on her teeth and pooled in her mouth. He was careful not to touch. In films or novels, a vampire's saliva contained an addictive drug that numbed pain and made the bite a sensual experience, and then could seal the wound after. This had no such properties; this saliva dissolved platelets before the wound could scab over, increased blood flow, dangerously accelerated the heart rate, and carried the highly contagious transformative virus that would change a victim that hadn't been bled out and torn to pieces.
Fascinating, yes. And utterly shoulders slumped in defeat. The change had progressed past the point of no return. The infection had firmly taken root within her. Her body was nothing more than a corpse that refused to acknowledge it was dead. A moan escaped from behind the cage of her teeth, and he spun on his heels. Her skin was twitching, writhing, as though trying to crawl off her bones. In spite of his revulsion for her altered state, the Doctor couldn't bear to see her in pain. He went to her side and took her hand in his, squeezing it gently and hoping that, if there was anything left of Rose, she was aware that he was there and that he would make sure she didn't suffer any more than she had to.
Her fingers convulsed around his wrist when he didn't pull back quickly enough, their sharpened points carving bloody welts in the back of his hand. He didn't notice, his entire attention focused on the long lashes that had parted to reveal slits of scarlet. Gone were the dark, lovely eyes with their lively curiosity. What was left was curiously blank. Dead.
"Rose," he whispered.
Her eyes found his, disclosing nothing. For all he could tell, Rose had gone and left behind an empty, ravenous corpse. She shifted against the restraints, and her gaze flickered to the metal bands around her wrists before again meeting his.
"They changed you."
She didn't blink, didn't so much as twitch. Her face remained a cold, blank mask. He quailed beneath that burning crimson gaze, so different from the amber warmth he was accustomed to.
"You're like them. A vampire." He couldn't quite hide the venom he felt towards the breed. "But… it's not too late. We'll find a cure," he lied, his voice hoarse. He didn't have the courage to tell her that even if he could rid her of the virus, he couldn't cure death.
"Don't want to be cured," she lisped, unused to speaking with her new teeth and tongue. "I asked for this." Black blood flowed sluggishly from where she'd nicked her lip.
"What?" he stared, disbelieving. She couldn't have said what he'd thought he heard; his Rose would never have wanted this. "What?"
"I wanted them to change me, Doctor." Her lips stretched into a rictus grin, sharp pointed teeth visible. "For you."
"No." The change was affecting her mind, he told himself firmly. Rose would never have agreed to this. He turned his back to her, not wanting to see this cruel mockery of his Rose. He pretended to study the scanner, while studiously ignoring the irrefutable evidence it displayed: Rose was gone. "Rose wouldn't want this. She wouldn't have done this!"
"I told you I was going to stay with you forever," she rasped. "And now I can." The words were whispered in his ear and he jumped, whirling to find Rose beside him. The restraints hung from her wrists, and blood slowly oozed from where the cuffs had ripped her flesh.
Yes, she'd be young and beautiful forever. Yes, she could stay with him for the rest of his lives and beyond. But she was no longer Rose Tyler, no longer that clever, compassionate shop girl who'd saved him from himself. What remained was this feral creature slowly circling, crimson eyes studying him with a predatory gleam.
Her tongue flicks out, tasting the blood collected beneath her nails. His blood."'s like a fine wine," she whispered, eyes rolled back rapturously. "I've never tasted anything like it!"
The Doctor frowned. "You should find it revolting. We fought vampires before. Our blood was modified to taste badly, to be like poison to them!"
Rose shrugged, indifferent. "Not that kind of vampire, I guess."
The Doctor took a step back, towards the table holding his medical implements. He ran through his options, his brilliant mind concocting and discarding dozens of plans in mere seconds. It took him about five seconds to come to a horrifying conclusion.
He couldn't cure her. He doubted he could contain her. That left only one option.
He'd have to kill her.
He took another step, and his back hit the table. Keeping his gaze locked with hers, the Doctor groped around for the tray that held his scalpels.
"What would happen if I bit you? Drank you dry?" she asked, head tilted. "Would you become like me, or would you regenerate?" "I'd die. I'd truly die." Because the alternative was to transform, and he wouldn't let himself become… that.
Not even if it meant being at her side forever.
She smiles then, a grin that stretches far wider than a human smile. "Guess there's only one way to find out, isn't there?"
He was fast, but she was faster. As he shifted his weight to take the first step, her head darted forward, mouth gaping open obscenely wide, and she sank her teeth into the flesh of his neck and tore.
The Doctor's hand closed around the closest scalpel and he stabbed it into Rose's chest, driving it between her ribs and into her heart. Rose shrieked, opening her jaws long enough for the Doctor to pull free and run towards the med bay's door. The door slammed shut as soon as he passed through, and over the pounding of blood in his ears, he could hear her roar of fury.
Blood gushed from the hole in his neck and his breath rattled alarmingly. He closed his eyes and tried to focus, forcing his lungs to shut down, engaging his respiratory bypass so he wouldn't choke to death on his own blood. It was a temporary fix; sooner or later, he'd need to breathe.
Behind him, the door shuddered as Rose pounded against it. From the strength and frequency of the blows, it was obvious that he'd either nicked or missed her heart, or that she was a far more resilient species of vampire than he'd ever faced.
Impossibly, the door began to deform beneath the strength of her blows, and he felt the TARDIS's concern that the door wouldn't hold her long. Perhaps not, but it had bought him a few minutes, at least. Long enough for him to do what needed to be done.
His hand closed around his throat, and he felt the jagged edges of his flesh, and beneath that his punctured windpipe and crushed vocal cords.
Assuming this one bite wasn't enough to transform him, of course.
Stupid, stupid! he raged at himself. He'd underestimated her, and now he was paying the price.
He staggered forward, one hand braced against the wall to keep him upright. The TARDIS aided him by obligingly shifting the corridors so the control room was behind the first door he came to.
He wouldn't bring Rose back to La Belle Morte, to live as a beast and sate her unholy hunger on innocents, to completely lose herself to the night. Nor would he loose her on some uninhabited planet, where chance may one day bring her into contact with others. Death was the only option, though not by his hand. Not with his strength fading as every beat of his hearts forced the blood to gush from his shredded throat. He'd drop the shielding and pilot them into a star, where they'd burn up together. The TARDIS keened, and the cloister bell tolled as his life slipped further away, but she obediently awaited the final command that would send them all to their deaths. Red-tinged blackness swam at the edge of his vision. He gritted his teeth and ignored it, forcing himself to focus on the console in front of him. But as his vision continued to worsen, his shaking hands, red with blood, were forced to manipulate the controls by touch alone.
As his hand moved to flip the final lever and send them all to oblivion, something seized his shoulder in a vise-like grip and flung him into the wall. Bone shattered on impact.
He slid down the wall, leaving a trail of crimson to forever stain the amber of the control room's walls. Through the shadows clouding his vision, he just could make out Rose standing over him. She crouched, one gory hand pressed against his chest to pin him in place.
"Mine. Forever," her voice rasped into his ear, and he wanted to push her away, spring to his feet, and runrunRUN, but his strength had fled him, and all he could manage was to roll his eyes towards the hideous sight of Rose's blood-red maw grinning down at him.
The last thing he saw, before succumbing to the darkness, was Rose leaning over him, mouth gaping open as she tore into his tender flesh.
Um… Happy Halloween?