Let's Play Pretend
Screams of agony echoed around the room, but the Doctor could not hear them. He was consumed by the pain that was searing through his body. He lay curled in a ball on the floor of his glass cell. Slowly the radiation faded away, but the pain kept wracking his body.
When he was able to, he slowly stood.
"What?" gasped a mortified sounding Wilf Mott. "Hello."
"Hi," the Doctor rasped.
"Still with us?"
"System's dead. I absorbed it all. Whole thing's kaput. He reached out to open the door, and as he touched it, the door simply fell open. "Oh, now it opens, yeah," he muttered sarcastically. He looked up at Wilf to see his horrified face slowly take on a look of relief, even though he still looked as if he were about to cry.
"Well, there we are then," Wilf said. "Safe and sound. Mind you, you're in a hell of a state You've got some battle scars there."
The Doctor groaned and rubbed at his face. He could still feel the pain echoing inside him, and now a new feeling was coming on. A slow tingling burn. When he took his face from his hands, Wilf was staring at him in astonishment.
"But they've… Your face! How did you do that?"
The Doctor looked down at his hands, which were now completely unmarked. Not a scratch… he was healing. "It's started," he said soberly.
Wilf seemed to realise what he had meant, and let out a sob. He stepped forward and embraced him in his arms. Suddenly they both felt a pulling sensation behind their navel, and they were jerked back into a bright blue light. And then they were gone.
For a moment, the room was empty, except the bright blue light, then it spat out a tall figure in strange red roes. Rassilon gasped and coughed, before he dragged himself to his feet. He looked around to find himself in the same room that he had been in what seemed like six months ago, but it looked like it couldn't have been more than an hour since he'd left.
Looking behind him, he saw that the light was gone. The portal was closed. He was trapped here. This was a planet full of worthless apes… but if he was going to be stuck here, he may as well get comfortable.
The Master had always thought that the Doctor was odd, especially for a Time Lord. He showed way too much emotion. Quite often, he'd wondered what went on in his head.
The last time they had met, he'd finally gotten that chance. When he had forced the Drums into the Doctor's head, he'd taken his chance to rummage around through his memories. The Doctor had been so distracted by the Drums, that he had failed to notice.
The Master had seen the last fifty or so years of the mans life. And he had so much emotion flowing from every moment, both good an bad. It was just unnatural. The Master was almost shocked. Especially when he discovered that the love he knew the Doctor held for a certain blonde human was on such a deep level that Time Lords didn't even know how to express. To them, that emotion did not exist, and yet here he was, loving so deeply. And a human of all things.
Now days, most of his emotion, good and bad, had been directed towards one person.
And now, here she was, kneeling before him with a look of concern on her face. And that look quickly became confusion.
"What?" Rose whispered. She looked down at the man before her. He was dirty and slightly bruised. His clothes were filthy and he had a deep gash on his head. She had never seen him in her life. She would remember a face like that.
"Rose!" he cried. Then he threw himself up and wrapped his arms around her neck and held on tight. Rose sat there, completely startled as he buried his face in her hair. She was even more startled when he started to sob softly, like someone who had been through a lot of pain, and finally found that comfort and relief.
"I - I'm sorry," she said. "Do… I know you?"
The man backed up slightly, looking hurt. Then he seemed to click. "Oh, right, yes, of course you wouldn't recognise me. Not anymore. Changed again, didn't I. I do that a lot. Sorry about that. It's me. The Doctor."
"Wh-what?" she stammered, backing up slightly. "But you're… How did you get here?"
"Oh, some big thing, and I got sucked through a Dimension Filter and popped out here. But we don't need to worry about that, We can talk about that later."
"I'm starving!" he cried, jumping up. "Do you have any bananas?"
"In the house," Rose said weakly.
"Great!" he grinned. And then he turned and headed into the large house just beside them.
"Rose," Jake said, coming over to her with a worried expression. "Who was that? Why did you let him go? And into your mother's house of all things?!"
"Well, it's kind of complicated, but that's the Doctor."
"No it ain't," he laughed.
"Yeah, it is… apparently. See, that's the Time Lord one. Time Lords have this… thing… that they do. They regenerate. When they're dying, they start this process that saves their life, but also changes them. Looks, and personality and stuff."
"But… he's so different."
"Yeah, he always is," she said, trying to hide how she felt.
"I just… I don't trust him Rose. There's something about him…"
"I know… I get that feeling too. I don't know, I'm probably just bigoted because he's not the man I used to know. And, well, you know… everything that's happened." She clutched at the necklace she was wearing.
"Hey, it will be okay," he said gently, placing his hand on her shoulder.
"Yeah, I know. But, that's the Doctor… I'm just going to have to talk to him." And taking a deep breath, she followed the Time Lord into the house.
When she got inside, the Doctor was standing in the kitchen, a half peeled banana poking out of his mouth. He was looking around in confusion. She couldn't help but giggle a little at him. He looked so adorably ridiculous.
"Where are we?" he asked, chewing on the chunk of banana he'd bitten off.
"My parent's house. I know it's a little hard to recognise. Mum got her hands on a decorator and made it slightly more, err… homey."
"Oh yeah, Cybermen. Your dad would have had to redecorate after that anyway."
"Yep." There was a long awkward silence and she went and sat on the bar stool at the bench. He eventually joined her. She stared at him, a torrent of feelings swirling through her. Despair, hope, anger, joy, fear, hatred, need and pure want. Before it could take over her, she shut her eyes tight, took a breath, then looked up into his new face. "So… you regenerated again."
"Yep, I did," he smiled. "What do you think? Definitely better looking, don't you think?"
Rose didn't answer that, instead she averted her eyes before she spoke next. "And this is your… eleventh body?"
The Doctor looked upwards as if he were thinking, and began letting out his fingers one by one. She could practically see him counting in his head. And when he'd finally ran out of fingers, he raised his foot, and stuck out his big toe to make eleven. "Yep. Seems I am… Wait a minute, where's my shoe?!" he cried as if he'd only just noticed.
Rose was about to shake her head in exasperation, when suddenly he began to cough and gold energy floated out from his mouth. Her look instantly turned to one of concern. "Exactly how long has it been since you regenerated?"
The Master watched as the gold floated away, then looked at Rose's worried face. He knew she'd seen something like this before. He wasn't sure why that had happened. He hadn't regenerated and wasn't overflowing with energy. The only thing he'd noticed bout himself was that he was no longer in pain. That horrible intense hunger had disappeared the second he was in the Void. He knew that he was no longer dying… it was almost like the Void had cured him…
"Erm… Not that long ago," he told her. He was trying to stick to the Doctor's memories as much as possible. He wanted her to truly believe he was the Doctor. Why? Because it was fun. Because it was Rose Tyler, the love of the Doctor's lives.
He hesitated a moment, making her think he didn't really want to talk about it, really he was just trying to think of a way to word it. "Well, that thing that sent me here… The Time Lords came back."
"What?!" Rose cried in disbelief.
"Yeah, they created a link in the Master's head, the drumming, and followed that."
"But the Master's dead. The D- the… other you… he told me what happened. The Master died."
The Master nodded solemnly, remembering the experience. "Yes, he did. But he had figured out away for someone to bring him back. The Time Lords followed the noise in his head, and they tried to bring the entire Time War with them. And worse, they wanted to destroy reality and become creatures of consciousness alone, existing on another plane. I stopped them… but… well… I kind of fell out of a spaceship and through a window."
Rose shook her head in exasperation. "Only you," she said, hiding half her face with her palm.
"Hey, speaking of the other Doctor, where's he?" the Master asked innocently. He had to try and avoid him if possible. If he found him, everything would fall apart. And he was having way too much fun messing with this stupid apes feelings.
Hope came to him slightly when he saw Rose's reaction. She averted her eyes, casting them down, and began fiddling with her necklace. It was a ring with a sapphire stone on a silver band, that had been strung onto a thin chain. It was an engagement ring.
"He, um…" her voice broke and she cleared her throat. "He died. Three months ago."
"Oh, Rose. I'm sorry, I'm so, so sorry," he said sympathetically.
"Yeah, I know you are," she said, the bitterness in her voice barely contained. Then Rose paused, her eyes closed, her head shook slightly, and when she looked back at him, you would never have guessed they had just had that conversation. "So," she said brightly. "Where's Donna?"
"Um…" The Master was slightly baffled by her sudden change in emotion, it was as if she had just flicked a switched. "Well, she was human with a Time Lord brain… she couldn't handle it. To save her life, I had to erase her memories… She doesn't remember me."
"Is… is that what happened to my Doctor?"
"The other Doctor. He was human with a Time Lord brain… did that happen to him too?"
"Rose, can you tell me what happened?"
Rose looked up at the Doctor in the eye. Those memories were painful. She did all she could not to let them out. Of course, they all came back in a torrent as she slept. She could still remember it all too clearly.
Rose was down in the lounge when she heard the noise. There was a strangled cry from upstairs, and the sound of something smashing.
"Doctor?" she called, slightly worried. All she heard in reply was a muffled groan. Something was really wrong. "Doctor?!" she cried. In less than a second, she was sprinting up the stairs.
She found him in the makeshift lab he'd set up in the second bedroom. He was curled in a ball on the ground. He had fallen to his knees and curled up, his hands pressed to the sides of his head. Whimpers and groans escaped his lips, she could tell that he was trying to hold them in.
"Doctor!" she cried in distress, going rushing over to him. "What's wrong? What's happening?" she asked frantically, fluttering her hands over him. She was too scared to touch him in case it hurt him, but she wanted to help him. She didn't know what she could do. "Oh god, what can I do?!"
"It's… okay," the Doctor ground out through clenched teeth.
"No! No, it's not. Doctor, what's happening? Please tell me!"
"I'm… sorry, Rose."
"No!" she panicked. "No, you can't do this. Please, you can't leave me!"
The Doctor had suppressed his shaking as much as he could. Now, he lay on his back, a tearful Rose leaning over him. Attempting a smile, he raised a hand and placed it gently on her cheek. She could still feel the tremors running through his body.
"Shh, shh, it's okay," he whispered. Rose just sobbed and held his hand where it was. Tears dripped from the end of her nose onto his chest, soaking into the fabric.
"Please." It was barely a whisper.
The Doctor smiled at her, tears in his eyes, and then they slid closed. The shaking stilled and a last slow breath escaped his lips… he did not draw another. For a moment, Rose was stilled by shock. That couldn't have happened. It was just a nightmare. He'd been through so much worse and always survived. It was a bad dream, that's all. He wasn't dead. He wasn't…
A loud sob wracked her body and she fell forwards, burring her face in his chest. This wasn't supposed to happen. Not like this. He wasn't supposed to… They were going to get married…
She didn't know how long she stayed there, crying for what she had lost. And after all she had done to get him back…
She was finally snapped out of it when her mother's voice called from down stares. She couldn't recall much of what happened after that. It was a blur. She'd stumbled her way down the stairs, her mother looking at her in worry. She had collapsed into her arms and burst into tears again as she tried to explain what had happened.
After that, all she knew was that her mother held her, made a call, and held her some more as people came into the house, taking away a stretcher, a white sheet covering the figure of the man she loved beneath it.
She didn't want to remember.
When Rose finished her story, her voice was rough and she had tears in her eyes. Looking at the bench and fiddling with the ring, she didn't see the gleeful smirk flit across the man's face.
"Oh, Rose. I'm sorry. I'm so sorry," he said sympathetically. "I never meant it to be like this…"
"Yeah, I know." She shot him a weak smile. "I just don't understand it. He was fine, he was healthy. It should never have happened to him…"
"Well, he was human… I guess anything could have happened to him."
"But that's the thing, he wasn't fully human. I saw him survive things most people wouldn't. It was just tiny things about him. It shouldn't have happened." She glared back down at the bench, and her hand tightened into a fist. Then, she blinked and looked back up at him as if it had been nothing, her body relaxed and smile on her face. "Honestly, what happened to you? You're filthy. Let's go get you cleaned up and into some new clothes. Your old stuff won't quite fit properly, but I think they'll work till we can buy you some new ones."
She stood and made for the door, not even looking back.
The Master blinked, perplexed, yet again, by her mood swing. "Wait, where are we going?" he asked her.
"My house. Come on my car's out front." And with that, she strode out the door. Standing from his seat, the Master grinned.
His plan was working. Oh, she would be somewhat wary of him at first, but using the stolen memories and perhaps some hypnotism, he would have her under his thumb. She would be his completely. He just wished there was a way he could rub it in the Doctor's face.
Perhaps he would find an even better use for this human. She sounded like she had quite a bit of power. Who knew where this might lead. For now, she accepted what he said. He was building a trap…
And she was falling right into it.