Show/Ship- Doctor Who. Doctor/Rose post Runaway Bride
Genre- Drama, dark
Rating- PG13 for scenes of a violent nature
Disclaimer- If I owned them this would be canon-- think on that.
Summary- Regeneration takes the pieces of you and turns them into something else. But what if a part of you didn't want to leave. What if your old self didn't agree with what you were doing? What if the animal within got out?
A/n- This is quite long and something I've been working on for some time-- one of the reason's I've not posted much fic. With thanks to my amazing beta-- Gargantua!
The Doctor rubbed his head as he sent them spinning into the Vortex. The TARDIS could do with a bit of break after being forced to fly along the M1, being held together with bits of string and tape and generally used like a taxi service.
And he could do a moment to think after finally getting rid of Donna.
The Doctor smiled at the memory of the brash red-head left grinning at him in the snow. She hadn’t been too bad, all told, but Rassilon, could she shout!
He pinched the bridge of his nose, trying to push away the headache that he could feel coming on, building steadily behind his eyes with all the force of freight train.
What he needed was a nice cup of tea, full of tannins and free radicals and sugar.
He turned with a bounce.
“How about we …” his voice trailed off as he realised that there was no one there.
She was gone. She was gone.
“Oh, Rose.” He sighed and scratched the back of his head, his gaze falling on the purple shirt he had taken from her room to trace her genetic signature. It had been his favourite shirt, filled with memories of the moment when she’d thrown herself into his arms and … and …
“Right,” he said out loud, brushing back tears as he picked up the shirt. “Time to put you back where you belong and move on.”
He grasped the soft material and couldn’t resist lifting it to his nose to inhale her scent one last time. Sweet, like honey and strawberries and adventure and fun and life.
He swallowed past the lump in his throat and patted the console. “Just you and me, girl. Maybe we should be alone for a while. Travel, see some space. It’ll be …” He trailed off again.
He couldn’t even pretend to be enthusiastic about all the universe had to offer. He couldn’t relish walking in the dust or dancing in the stars. He missed her already.
“There’s nothing I can do,” he whispered aloud to the pulsating column. “I can’t destroy two universes just to get her back. She’s with her family. She’s safe. She’s happy. Fantastic life and all that. The one adventure I can never—” He rubbed his forehead again, feeling the veins throbbing within.
He looked down at the top he was holding and for a moment it seemed to swim in front of him, his vision blurring in and out.
He blinked hard and the world reasserted itself.
“Right,” he said with a laugh. “Sleep, I think.”
He pushed the stabiliser button on the TARDIS to alert him to any danger and took two steps towards the door before the room started to spin. The world turned a hazy red as pressure built inside his brain. His hands flew to his temples as white hot lava boiled away inside his cranium, searing pathways through his optical nerves. With a scream of agony he fell against the console, hands scrabbling for something, anything to take away the pain. He managed one blink before his eyes rolled back in his head and he sank to the floor, darkness claiming him.
When he opened his eyes again, he wasn’t sure if he’d actually managed it as everything was still bathed in the deepest black. The Doctor groaned, clutching his head to massage away the migraine and staggered to his feet, casting around for any sign of light or life.
There was nothing save unending blackness.
“Hello!” he called out loud, hearing his voice echo far and wide, rumbling back to him with a great roar disguising the size of the room. “Is anyone there?” He tried again.
“Yeah,” came a short reply from behind him, the tone eerie and hollow like a rotted skull, and the Doctor spun.
There was nothing but darkness.
“Show yourself,” he demanded. “Who are you, where am I? How did you get on board the TARDIS?”
There was a mocking laugh that echoed all around him, resonating off invisible walls and growing in volume and derision until it felt like the whole world was laughing at him in abject scorn. It had been a long while since he had been the subject of such contempt and it stirred up memories of a younger him on a long dead planet with people who had never existed. He swallowed down the pain and the distant feelings of inferiority and strained to see.
But there was no up, no down, no light, just blackness. Nothing.
“Am I in the Void?” He hated the way his voice trembled at that. He was the Doctor, he scared the monsters. It infuriated him to be so weakened. “Answer me!”
The voice was directly behind him and he turned again. Although he was alone, he could feel something, or someone, watching him, like a cat playing with mouse.
“I’m tired of games. Show yourself,” he demanded again, attempting to put as much authority in his voice as possible.
“All right,” came the response. The voice was less resonating and more human and the Doctor turned one last time to see his tormentor.
His jaw dropped. “T-that’s impossible,” he stuttered.
“You use that word a lot,” said the strong northern accent of the previous Doctor. He leaned against an invisible wall, his leather-clad arms folded over his broad chest and piercing blue eyes staring harshly at his successor. “This is impossible, that’s impossible,” he mocked. “Anyone would think you were useless.”
“You can’t be here!” the Doctor said, his eyes wide. “You’re gone. Dead.”
Dark amusement filled his expression. “The Daleks didn’t manage it, what makes you think you could?”
The Doctor gritted his teeth. “Every cell in my body died, I changed. Regenerated. I’m me. You’re gone.”
“Odd thing, death,” the old Doctor said with a nonchalant shrug. “What’s life but a quirk of matter? Nanogenes can rewrite the genetic code. What do you think the entire Time Vortex could do?”
The Doctor swallowed as realisation swept over him. “No. No, no, no, no. You can’t still be alive.”
It was impossible. One incarnation died and the next was allowed to live, occupying the same space but with a different structure; a mass of clay smashed down and rebuilt into a new form. Same clay; new shape.
There couldn’t be two Doctors. He couldn’t be alive.
“I’m not,” offered the old Doctor, smirking as he all but read the mind of the new Doctor.
The calm words silenced him for a moment and he stared at his previous body. “Why are you here? Where is here?”
The old Doctor stared up at the blackness with a malicious grin on his weathered face. “We’re in your mind. Well, it was my mind first. That all right?”
“No,” said the Doctor, glaring at his previous self.
“Tough.” The grin left and hardness appeared in his eyes. It was a hardness that could commit genocide; an inflexibility that demanded conformity or absence; a rigidity and determination that allowed a girl to be trapped alone with a Dalek. The Doctor paled a little in the face of his own unyielding nature.
“Wait a minute, hang on one second.” The Doctor held up a hand. “So, we regenerated but the Time Vortex allowed one little piece of you to remain in me?”
The older Doctor nodded his head magnanimously, as if bestowing favour on a lesser subject. “Not as daft as you look,” he allowed.
“But why? What for?” The Doctor’s eyes gleamed. “I remember your death wish; you didn’t want to stick around. So, what? You want me to help push you on? All you had to do was say.” He grinned smugly, pleased at having figured it out and a little relieved. It was the unpredictability of his previous incarnation that set him on edge.
“You like listening to yourself don’t you?” said the old Doctor with a roll of his eyes. “And no, I don’t need your help ‘moving on’. I’m comfortable where I am, thanks.”
There was an odd glint in the expression of the old Doctor that had the new feeling very uneasy. He had never been comfortable in his previous body, finding the edges of his soul a little blacker and more ragged than he had ever thought. The idea that that part of him wasn’t as dead as he had hoped was more than a little disconcerting.
He cleared his throat to hide his disquiet. “So, why drag me inside my own mind? What do you need me for, umm?”
“Who says I do?” the northern voice asked, vastly amused. He unfolded his arms and stalked towards the Doctor. “See, I’m a genius, me. When I realised that I wasn’t quite dead I had some time to look around this place.” He flicked his glance around the blackness. “Got used to it here. Learned a few new tricks.” His gaze landed on the new Doctor. “Like this.”
Immediately thick bands of black wire hurtled themselves around the new Doctor, strapping his arms to his chest, binding him with painful accuracy, tightening until he could feel them biting into his skin. The fact that they came out of nowhere was as surprising as the power they held, sliding around his body like vicious vines intent on squeezing him into oblivion. His breath caught as they slid around his ribs, a snake constricting his breathing, cutting off his circulation whilst the snake charmer just watched with casual indifference.
“Hey!” he yelled but the old Doctor just smirked.
“Feel a bit tied up?”
“Let me go!” the Doctor wriggled but the wires just tightened.
“That’s not going to happen.” The old Doctor stalked around him in a circle, eyes staring intently. “I don’t see it.”
“What?” the Doctor snapped.
“What Rose would see in such a pretty boy. It’s not like you’re handsome or got character even. Even Rickey the idiot had something, but you? You’re just ‘cute’.” He wrinkled his nose like it was dirty word.
“You’re not my type either,” the Doctor spat, his unease exploding into something bordering on anxiety.
He would not be afraid of himself. It wasn’t possible.
“But she would stare,” the old Doctor continued like there was no interruption, “eyes on your arse and hair. What’s so great about your hair?”
“I have some,” he replied flippantly realising too late that he just made a tremendous error in judgement.
The old Doctor gave a lopsided frown and nodded and the Doctor felt like he’d been hit in the chest with a truck. He flew backwards, his bound body hurtling through the air until he struck something solid. His head banged off a wall which hadn’t been there before and stars exploded into his vision, his headache thundering back. He fell to the floor and crumpled onto his side. The impact had tugged his hands against his ties and the thick wire had sliced into his palms causing blood to run down his fingers and drip onto his suit. The dull ache made him look up to see the old Doctor folding his arms again satisfaction at his pain evident on his face.
“You’re nothing special, pretty boy,” the old Doctor sneered.
The Doctor struggled to his feet, ignoring the steady drip of blood as it splashed on his pin-striped trousers.
“I’m you,” gasped the Doctor to his counterpart.
“I’m me,” the old Doctor corrected, “you’re a mistake. Pretty boy all hair and arse and no sense. You lost Rose.”
The Doctor swallowed down the pain, forced down the anger and glared with hatred at his former self. “She was stolen from me.”
“And you’ve done what to get her back?” The amiable man was gone and fury filled his expression, spittle flying from his mouth as he yelled at himself. “Found a rip to say goodbye, all done? She saved your life! What kind of thanks is leaving her?”
A hand whipped up, slashing in mid-air and the Doctor felt a stinging slap to his face, though nothing touched him, and his head slammed back against the wall. The old Doctor stalked forwards, his face twisted with anger and menace. He pushed his fingers towards the Doctor, who found himself being lifted by an invisible force to hang against the wall, stuck like a insect on a windshield.
His legs wriggled and he gasped as pressure increased on his chest. “W-what are you doing?” he choked.
“Anything I want.” Was the bitter reply and the old Doctor squeezed his fingers into a fist. The Doctor screamed as he felt his hearts tighten and try to beat around a powerful force. Veins throbbed as the blood couldn’t get around his body and red liquid trickled from his nose.
The old Doctor suddenly dropped him and he fell to the floor, wide-eyed and gasping. “What do you want?” he asked as he shrank away from the oncoming psychotic.
“Go back for Rose,” the old Doctor demanded.
“I can’t,” cried the Doctor, grief colouring his tone.
“No, you won’t,” hissed the old Doctor. “There are ways, you know there are. Our people could hop between the two dimensions and be home in time for tea. Parallel travel was easy.”
“Was!” the Doctor protested, but knew it was useless. “You know they closed down the walls to dimensions, you know that. We can’t do it. There are two universes at stake here!” the Doctor shouted, his hands frantically trying to free themselves from the wire bonds. “Rose wouldn’t want me to risk the annihilation of both.”
He paused as the older Doctor laughed. It wasn’t a nice laugh. It was filled with hate and anger, rolling off the walls in waves of malice, escalating into a mad sort of cackling. The Doctor cringed inwardly as he heard it.
“You forget. I was there,” whispered the old Doctor as he looked up into the darkness, his body becoming almost as still as statue.
For a second the Doctor wondered if the man had stopped his own brand of insanity but then words floated around his head; heart-breakingly familiar words that renewed a grief he’d tried so hard to suppress.
“Can’t you come through properly?” Her voice trembled with the effort of holding back tears.
“The whole thing would fracture,” he explained, “two universes would collapse.”
“So?” she sobbed.
The replayed memory stopped and the old Doctor turned on him as Rose’s sob echoed around the chamber.
“She said ‘So?’ Rose would want to be with me, no matter what. Forever, I heard her. I heard everything and I understood.” He straightened. “All we had to do was try to get her back, and you won’t. You gave up on Rose.”
“I never did!” the Doctor protested vehemently.
“I died so that she could spend a few more hours with her Dad. I would have let the world die to keep her happy. You left her on a space ship while you ‘danced’ with a vapid blonde.”
“You would have gone through life with her but you couldn’t try to find Rose.”
“Well, I can.”
The Doctor responded to this proclamation with silence. It was a few moments before he found his voice again. “What?”
The old Doctor smirked harshly. “I’ve had a year here, boy; I know the tricks and traps of your mind better than you do. I know you and I’m no pampered Princess who pretends to understand the loneliness of a murderer. You had time with Rose and you flittered it away. Now I’m taking it back.”
The Doctor felt his stomach drop as he realised that this manifestation was serious. He was going to try to take control. All this time, trapped in a corner of someone else’s mind, forced to watch as the woman he loved, desired and needed, fell for someone else. All this time helpless but for what he could achieve ensnared here inside someone’s consciousness, learning to manipulate his environment and twist things to his own beck and call. He wanted out.
He wanted Rose and he was going to take it all. There was truth in his expression, and madness.
The Doctor stared with horror at the hard eyes and angular face. “You’re mad.”
“Yep,” the old Doctor said. “And doesn’t that scare you to death?”
It did. Because the Doctor knew what he had been capable of, knew that this incarnation had danced on the line between madness and sanity and had only been pulled back from the edge by a young girl who had been sucked into another world. He knew what he was capable of with all his rationality; what he’d do without it was unthinkable.
The old Doctor leaned into his future face and grinned. “And you, all helpless, poor new, new Doctor. All alone. Why don’t you sleep?”
He reached up with one single digit and pressed it against the Doctor’s forehead.
An explosion of pain erupted in the Doctor’s mind and he bit down on his lip to stop the scream that would have torn itself, unwilling, from his throat. He wouldn’t give him the satisfaction.
The old Doctor snorted and pushed with his finger and the Doctor fell backwards onto a soft four poster bed, his hands still bound and bleeding.
The Doctor’s eyes flickered around the room that had suddenly appeared from nowhere, a bare room with black walls, one iron door and no other furniture but the bed. He stared up at his previous body in shock and a little fear. “You can’t trap me here. It’s my body, my regeneration. You had your chance and you died, for Rose. I’ll look for a way back to her. I will. Just let me go.”
“Let me think about that.” The sarcasm dripped from his voice as he produced another length of wire and tied the Doctor’s feet to the bed. A metal padlock appeared in his hands and he chained the Doctor down with a malicious enthusiasm.
“Knew you were a closet sadist,” the Doctor spat.
The old Doctor just grinned. “Time to come out of it then.”
“It’s my mind!” the Doctor yelled as his captor turned away. “I’ll find a way out.”
The old Doctor leaned against the door. “Took me a year. Good luck with that.”
With that he slammed the door and a lock tumbled into place with an ominous click, leaving the Doctor bound helpless in the dark. Locked in his own mind with no way of moving or leaving.
“This,” he said into the blackness, “is not good.”
The TARDIS was making her usual comforting sounds when he came to, humming and singing in her usual cacophony of electrical and vortexual sounds. He could feel the cool metal grate under his cheek and it took a moment for him to remember how a physical body functioned.
For longer than he cared to remember, all he had was the power of his mind to shape his surroundings. He imagined light and suddenly it was bright. He envisioned a palace or a banquet or even a plate of beans on toast and it was there. Suddenly, however, now he had to remember how to open his eyes.
He blinked and the golden green light from the TARDIS filtered into his vision, causing him to turn his head.
“Oi, turn it down, would ya?” he groused and the TARDIS dimmed the light. He pushed himself to his knees and sat up, shaking the cobwebs from his head. Something tickled his forehead and he brushed at it. Seconds later it was back and he reached up to yank whatever it was away, only to realise that it was attached.
It was hair.
Wait, since when did he have hair?
His fingers reached up into thick handfuls of soft hair and traced down to sideburns. Sideburns?
He looked down to his hands and where there should be thick, calloused fingers there were long, slim digits, weak wrists and the edges of a suit.
The Doctor surged to his feet, feeling vertigo crash over him as he stood slightly shorter than he remembered. He staggered over to the door and leaned against the frame, trying to brush away the dizziness and nausea that swamped him.
In three steps he was at his bedroom door, the TARDIS having moved it for him, and he stumbled into his room, ignoring the different décor and the repositioning of the furniture.
Stumbling to the wardrobe, he wrenched it open with a grunt, and stared at himself for the first time in over a year.
“Oh, bollocks,” he said, brown eyes staring back in dismay. “New teeth.”